P.S.S. it’s not as scary as you think

It’s been quite some time since I’ve hunkered down to write a post, but legitimate reasons and life happenings have kept me graciously on my toes.

You see, within the last 6 months my husband and I have experienced rapid life changes and happenings quite consecutively.

In July we had our incredible wedding.

In October we purchased our first home. 

Also, in October – we found out our first baby (Baby Powell!) was on the way. 

The following 3 life happenings are fairly drastic changes that typically are spaced over spans of time. But, as we have all experienced at some point before – life happens! It also happens in the most beautiful and magical of ways (yes, I always have to sprinkle my pixie dust here & there when I get the opportunity).

Within the last few years of getting serious about personal finances, it was incredible how often I stumbled upon opinions and posts on home buying, weddings and kids that made me beyond nervous. I mean sweating bullets, palms sweaty (like Eminem in Lose Yourself) nervous. How financially these events take a toll, how expensive they all can be, the negative implications they have on your life, and how they have the potential to strip away your financial independence. Since I read so many pieces reflecting such opinions, I questioned all of the following and whether they were worth it over and over again.

But I had to take a step back and re-evaluate. I took a hiatus from this space. I went back to my true aspirations, roots, and shared conversations with my husband, family and friends.

Regardless of what our generation is spoon fed on the daily (‘Travel everywhere so you can finally discover yourself! and ‘Don’t follow the American Dream!’ or how about ‘Millennials will never have enough money for retirement!’) – I couldn’t help but wonder what if I actually want all the things they’re telling me not to do all along? What if I feel I can discover myself right where I live, in my community, in the comforts of my home? What if I feel financially responsible enough to spend while simultaneously saving for retirement? It’s as if most of these thought pieces and articles make you choose one or the other. You simply cannot have both. They are mutually exclusive.

I knew I wanted to have a wedding with the man of my dreams. I knew I wanted to purchase a home that could be filled with love and memories. I knew I wanted to have a kid (or kids).

Why do people keep saying these things are so wrong?!

That’s when doubt came in and I had to take a break. It was challenging to keep reading work that spoke so highly against what I have always dreamed while growing up. I understand the concepts of living your life by your own design, but sometimes that still includes some of the traditions of the past.

Maybe the idea of reaching financial independence at a young age isn’t exactly what I desire – but it surely doesn’t mean that I am being reckless with my finances either.

So I am here to share with you P.S.S. and that all of these wonderful life happenings: a wedding, a home, and a baby aren’t as a scary as you think. 

Do recognize this is my personal take on personal finances. I am thrilled if you prefer to make different decisions in life to reach your goals and aspirations, even if they aren’t parallel to mine. That’s the beauty of this all – what you choose is yours and yours alone. Don’t let anyone make you feel that what you want is wrong. 

I’ve learned an amazing amount about personal finances in the last 3 years, and there are certain foundations I have taken away to create a healthy financial balance with. One of the biggest foundations is P.S.S.:


P.lan

Even if your personality is not type A, planning is pivotal when it comes to personal finances. Plan to beef up that emergency fund, plan to take on a new venture or life happening with preparedness. Whether it’s jotting down goals, creating spreadsheets, tracking via an app, make sure to do something. If you do not have a plan getting from one point to the next will be an absolute cluster with no direction. The biggest aspect of planning is COMMUNICATION – with your partners, friends, significant others, and family. I cannot stress that one enough! Be open, transparent, and honest – or else you may end up in a completely different direction than intended. 

S.ave

We all know saving is of utmost importance, especially when most life events can be financially stretching. Now that you have a plan set in place, increasing your tool set (money, investments, etc.) will allow you to execute your plan as successfully as possible. Saving can be done in a variety of ways, and there is not one way that will work best for each and every person. Whether it’s setting up automatic transfers to your savings account, withdrawing cash to spend to allow you to save the rest, or monitoring your savings goal on an app tracker, establish great savings habits. 

S.pend

After the hard work is over, you’re now ready to spend. This becomes the most challenging part of P.S.S. at times. With hours of planning, and weeks, months, or even years of saving – it’s just plain hard to finally spend. This is the most important aspect of P.S.S. to get comfortable with. It took me awhile to be OK with spending. But once you get in the habitual cycle of P.S.S., your realize that it becomes a comfortable and natural flow of life. You find that you are never financially in a position that is uncomfortable. You plan accordingly, you save what you can, and you spend. Three things – that’s all I find it takes before stressing yourself out beyond measure. The biggest part of spending? If you have completed planning & saving – do not feel guilty about spending! That’s right, I’m giving you permission to not feel guilt about spending your money.


 

We planned and saved for our wedding by setting a budget and tracking on a spreadsheet and an app. We stuck to it and held ourselves accountable. We researched ways that we could decrease costs – whether it was DIY’ing decor, asking for help, searching Craigslist endlessly, or purchasing bulk roses from Costco. The ultimate goal was to have a day filled with love and family, and we accomplished that without going into debt.

We planned for our first home by saving up a significant down payment. We knew we would be ready and looking to buy when interest rates were incredibly low. We purchased a home that was less than HALF of what we were pre-approved for. We held steadfast to our goals and made sure to not even look at places that were out of reach. With shows on HGTV, Pinterest, and websites with beautiful homes – it’s a challenge to not get distracted. A plan helps you stick to what you can financially afford and realistically take on.

We planned and saved for our first baby by communicating (as heavily mentioned above). Both my husband and I had similar feelings on when we would be financially sound and ready to grow our family. We gathered information from friends, family, and from our workplaces on insurance, maternity / paternity leave policies, and overall advice. We also were prepared that timing isn’t always perfect – but being open to life with widespread arms allowed us to both feel confident and reassured.

Now that I have established the cycle of P.S.S., I revisit it often and confidently. Financially, I have never felt better – even with taking on some of the biggest decisions in life. I finally was able to overcome my fears of having a wedding, purchasing a home, and having a baby – and quite honestly, it just took establishing this 3 step process (yeah, I know – that sounds like one of those cheesy new year things). Now when it comes to money, there’s no worries or stress – it’s just P.S.S.

P.S.S. it’s not as scary as you think.

Financially Audacious Series: Alexander at Cash Flow Diaries

I don’t know about you, but 2016 has already been pretty incredible so far. Are you feeling it, too?! I could imagine you’ve all been enjoying time with family & friends, have been receiving some great R&R, and happen to be kick-starting the New Year just as you anticipated.

Financially Audacious Alexander

I’m so excited to give you the first Financially Audacious installment for the year 2016 featuring Alexander from Cash Flow Diaries! First, a little about Alexander:

Alexander created his blog Cash Flow Diaries to track this journey to financial freedom.  His primary investment vehicle to reach this independence is through investing in real estate rental properties.   Currently averaging about $2,000 in monthly passive income he hopes to at least quadruple that figure so that he can one day surpass his W-2 Income.

You can follow Alexander and his Cash Flow Diaries here:

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/CashFlowDiaries

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cashflowdiaries

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/cashflowdiaries/

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/cashflowdiaries

Check out Alexander’s answers to his Financially Audacious interview & engage in the comments below!


Tell us about where you’re from. What’s it like, do you want to stay there, how does where you live affect your personal finances?

Hi Alyssa,  First of all I would like to say thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed as part of the Financially Audacious Interview series.  It’s a great idea and view point to see how other financially savvy investors are building the dream to retire early and reach financial independence.

I am originally from the east coast (Washington DC metro area) where i grew up and lived the majority of my life however for the past 12 years I have been living in Austin, TX.  Austin is a super cool, vibrant and hip city and moving here was definitely one of the best decisions I have made in my life. When I first moved here, the city was not nearly as vibrant as it is today and more importantly, the real estate market was cheap and very affordable. Opposite of what it is today in fact. I was able to purchase my first primary house at the age of 24 and have since bought 2 more houses in this area. To date I own 3 properties in the Austin, TX area and they have proven to be the foundation to my investment strategy. After realizing that money and more importantly, “cash flow” could be made from investing in these properties I decided to concentrate the majority of my efforts building a mini real estate empire.

Where I live has definitely impacted my strategy because as the city (Austin) and real estate market grew, I could no longer find cash flowing properties to invest in. This problem caused me to switch my strategy which now involves purchasing rental properties out of state where the real estate markets are still very affordable and where there are great cash flow opportunities to be made. The last 4 houses I have purchased have been in the mid western united states, Indianapolis and Kansas City.  I find these cities to be great for finding cash flowing properties at very affordable prices. They both have steadily increasing populations, vibrant economies and overall seem to be a great place to live.

I have however fallen in love with Austin so I do not see myself leaving here in the foreseeable future. I really love the music scene and the activities/events that the city has. It’s a never ending supply of entertainment and fun!

Financial freedom is what you’re working towards. Tell us about what financial freedom means to you.

Financial freedom is definitely one of the most important priorities in my life right now outside of building a family and living a great life.  To me, financial freedom is about having the means to live my current lifestyle without having the obligation to work a normal job. My dream is to eventually quit my day job and live off of passive income streams. Imagine being able to do whatever you want, whenever you want and where ever you want? Sounds pretty awesome doesn’t it? I think I can pull this off if I continue my path and I look forward to the day I reach my goal. When this will happen I do not know however the sooner the better!!

What are the ways you plan on reaching your financial freedom?

My main strategy to reach financial freedom will be to generate anywhere from $8,000 to $10,000 in monthly passive income streams. For now, rental properties seem to give me the most bang for my buck and ultimately I would like to own anywhere between 12 and 15 houses. However if I find other means of generating income or cash flow then I will surely take advantage of that. I have recently been keeping my eye on wall street around what is going on in the precious metals (gold, silver) sector. These metals are currently trading at 5 year lows and on a 30 year chart, they appear to be at or nearing a bottom peak. This is very interesting to me because at some point which I believe will be in 2016 sometime, there will be a bull market rally on this sector in which it will payoff nicely for investors who buy during these peak lows. Buying at peak lows like this and selling at peak highs is what has made people millionaires playing the stock market. Risky yes, but I feel that it is a calculated risk with huge potential. With that being said, I may find myself dabbling in this sector in the near future hoping for big payouts in the years to come. Sounds kind of crazy right? Its definitely a speculation and appreciation play for the not so faint of heart.

But knowing me, I like to think of myself as a bit on the wild side and willing to be risky for high rewards! I would not recommend this to anyone reading this as something you should do to plan for your financial freedom.

Are you on track with your mapped out plan, and what accomplishments have you already made towards your financial freedom goals?

I would say that I am definitely on track with my mapped out plan as I currently have 6 investment properties all generating income for me. In November alone I was able to make $2400 in income from these properties and that is no small feat! One cool thing about my strategy though is that I pretend that money is not even there, I only live off of my day job income and put away all my investment income. Any income received is being used to put right back into my strategy of investment properties whether its using the money to cover vacancies, repairs and any other expenses that may arise from owning rentals. By doing this, it puts me on an aggressive timeline to build as fast as possible and I love the idea of reaching financial freedom as fast as possible. I even save money from my day job to invest which gives it an added boost!

How do you stay motivated to continue towards financial freedom?

Honestly, I created Cash Flow Diaries to keep me motivated and it has been working for me. I publicly disclose all my finances, net worth, rent income and all my accounts on my blog for the world to see. By doing this, it is definitely keeping me motivated to stay on the right track and continue growing. I think its super cool to track it online and see my progress. Before the blog, I was never really keeping track of my finances.

Another huge motivator for me is just the fact that I like to consider myself a free spirit. I have always been one to want to do whatever I want and not have to rely or adhere to anyone. It boggles my mind that the majority of the world has succumbed to living like rats wandering through a never ending maze that leads to no where. Ha! Okay that is a little extreme but Im sure you are well aware of the “rat race” and how most of us are living like this. Waking up at the same time every single day, driving to the same place and doing the same thing over and over again for a lifetime is a nightmare life to me and I want nothing more to get out of this. 🙂   Obviously this can not be achieved unless your finances are in order. Which is where I believe passive income is the way out!

Who have been your biggest supporters/mentors along this journey?

Sadly, I had no one show me the ropes on what I am doing. I started out a scared little boy buying real estate without having a clue what I was doing and got lucky on my first deal. Since then, it has been a matter of just reading and reading and reading on every aspect of real estate investing I could find. As of the past few years though, my lovely girlfriend has been very supportive of what I am doing and she is very happy for me. I have big plans with her for 2016 which could change a few things up regarding my investing strategy. In a good way of course! 😉

Let us in on some of your tips that could help with financial goals.

Ahh, don’t we all love tips!  Tips are great and my advice to you would be to stick with it, learn and read everything you possibly can on the endeavor you are looking to get into and then jump in head first! Its a little daunting sometimes when you are just starting out but I can tell you that sitting on the sidelines is not going to let you reach financial freedom.   Nothing will be handed to you and you need to go out and grab what you want.

Give us one quote/song lyric/anecdote that you like to live by.

A great quote that sticks out to me is by Dorothy Thompson and it goes:

“Only when we are no longer afraid do we begin to live.”

It is a great quote because I was afraid to get into real estate investing and sat on the sidelines for a few years before I ever decided to pull the trigger. Now I only wish I jumped on it sooner. Fear is a powerful emotion that could prevent you from falling in love, reaching new heights and even prevent you from personal growth. Don’t let fear hold you down!!


Thanks, Alexander for stopping by! Head on over to Cash Flow Diaries to check out more of Alexander’s story & how he’s accomplishing his financial goals.

Have any questions for Alexander? Ask  away in the comments below! 

Sunshine Blogger Award

I want to give a huge thanks to my friends over at Our Next Life for the Sunshine Blogger Award nomination! I’m heading off to sunny San Diego this weekend to attend the wedding of one of my dearest friends. This is the perfect precursor to kick off this incredible weekend!

Sunshine Blogger Award


So here’s the rundown of how this nomination works, or a little reminder if you already know the drill! I get to answer the questions that the nominator(s) posed for me to give more of a personal side as to who is behind this blog. From there, I get to pass on those rays of sunshine to the people I nominate and provide them questions that they get to answer. It’s a fun way to spread the joy in the blog-o-sphere!

Here are all the people I’d like to nominate next for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

Mixed Up Money

GenY Finance Guy

It Pays Dividends

The Wallet Diet

My Pennies My Thoughts

Here are your questions to answer! 

  1. Did you have one ah-ha moment that initiated the start of your blog/corner of the internet, or was it a series of events?
  2. Name one person (real, or fictional) who has changed your outlook on life and why?
  3. If there were only 3 things you could spend your money on for the rest of your life, what would they be?
  4. In your opinion, what’s the best/ideal setting to discuss personal finance? (i.e. with one other person, in a classroom setting, equipped with food & drink, etc.)
  5. What’s one movie line and/or song lyric that you always recite, or that continues to stick in your mind?
  6. If there is one legacy you would like to be known for in your life, what would it be? Is it a work in progress?

Here are my answers to Our Next Life’s questions:

in what ways are you most like and most unlike your childhood self?

I definitely would have to say my curiosity is parallel to my childhood self. When it comes to learning, my quest to acquire more knowledge is never ending. The excitement I get picking up books & networking is comparable to that of when I used to tinker with polly pockets, legos, and beanie babies. I’m most unlike my childhood self in the sense that intimidation does not paralyze or prevent me from experiencing new things. As most of us have experienced, life definitely takes its course through our teenage years and early 20’s. It’s an amazing thing when vulnerabilities start to melt away as your confidence increases. Overcoming intimidation, breaking down my own fears, and embracing my mental & physical capabilities has allowed me to achieve much more than I could have ever imagined when I was younger.

what’s your all-time favorite book, and your favorite you’ve read in the last year or so? (bonus points if you do fiction and non-fiction. this is a shameless attempt by us to get more recommendations!)

This has always been a tough question for me! I would have to say my all-time favorite book is Life of Pi by Yann Martel. I selected this book because the first time I read it was on an airplane. One of the flight attendants handed me a handwritten card as we were exiting the plane because she had just finished reading the novel with her book club. The card posed questions, thoughtful words, and what she took away from reading the novel. This is how powerful reading is when people share their ideas & thoughts from the way a book moved them. Interpretation is different from all perspectives even if you are reading the same book, and that’s what I absolutely love. My favorite books I have read in the last year include: The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J. Stanley (a common personal finance favorite!) and Yes Please by Amy Poehler (she’s hilarious).

what has life taught you about finances, and what have your finances taught you about life?

Life has taught me that many people approach their finances differently in order to live out their dreams. There is opportunity to take on new ventures, travel, help others, retire early, and prepare for your future if you decide to face your finances from a positive place. My finances have taught me that they do not have to completely dictate my life. Being aware of my financial goals & habits allows me to save & live for today in a balanced manner. There is always room for growth, error, and restructuring. Building a foundation of my finances now will allow for more time to focus on the people & passions I value in life.

what is something you’ve always wanted to do, but have never done for no good reason? (bonus points if you care to share what action you’ll take to do that thing!)

I’ve always wanted to take one of my passions that’s truly shaped who I am & share with others that may have never thought to try. I am so elated to say that this is currently in the works right now. Throughout my life I’ve trained in dance (tap, jazz, ballet, hip hop, and more). I now have the opportunity to volunteer at a local youth organization by teaching dance classes! The goal is to implement a new program the organization has not seen before. I cannot wait to start this adventure in September!

what scares you most about early retirement / financial independence / minimalism / self-sufficiency or whatever you’re striving for?

The question that always comes to mind internally is: “Am I doing this right?” There are a myriad of ways that the above listed can be approached & accomplished, that it can become a bit overwhelming. Trial & error is bound to happen, but just stepping a foot forward and trying is what allows me to overcome any of my fears, or doubts. 5 years from now my mindset may change, but allowing that flexibility to reach my goals of financial independence will allow things to surely happen.

what tv show is atop your must-see list right now? (or if you’re not into tv, what’s some under-the-radar thing that we should all be paying attention to?)

So I really don’t watch TV all too much, but watching the last season of Newsroom is definitely a must-see for my fiance & I right now. As an under-the-radar thing, I would like to really immerse myself into the art of brewing whether it be cold brew, kombucha, or craft beer. The Pacific Northwest definitely provides many resources & shops to take this on, and I would love to focus on building those skills!


 

Such a fun nomination, thanks again Our Next Life! For all my readers: let me know one quick fact about you in the comments below. I’m curious to learn more about all of you!