Embrace Life as an Adventure

by Kevin on January 20, 2011

Life is supposed to be an adventure. But… sometimes… does it feel like the complete opposite?

Instead of adventure we get boring routine.

Instead of adventure we get gray walls and cubicle desks.

Instead of adventure we save our money and never go out and just wait for the day when we’ll be able to.

But there’s one problem with always waiting. We all have a finite number of days we are allowed on this mortal plane. You can’t buy more days when it comes to the end. So we wait to have fun and enjoy life and embrace adventure… and we wait… and we wait…

And we never enjoy it! It’s a tragedy to end up in a hospital bed with millions of dollars in the bank that you never enjoyed.

Embracing the Wild Ride of Moving Cities

Today I thought I would share a piece of the adventure my wife and I are sharing right now. Maybe one of you will read this, be inspired, and start to enjoy life just a little bit more than you do today.

I am a frugal guy. Having a large amount of money in the bank — namely, our emergency fund — makes me feel better. I’m risk averse except when I have enough information to help me know that taking the risk has a very good percentage chance of being a smart decision. I mean heck, I write for several personal finance websites as a freelance writer. Not being broke, not taking huge risks, and frugality are all high on my importance list.

We began discussing moving closer to the place we grew up about a year ago. We weren’t sure what opportunities would present themselves, and assumed we would both have to find new jobs. Finding two news job, selling a house, and finding a new place to live all at the same time is a monumental task. Everything has to come together at just the right time to make it happen.

An opportunity popped open with my current employer to do essentially the same job that I was doing in Birmingham, but in our Knoxville location. I came up for an interview, got the job (really a transfer), and we put the wheels in motion. It happened a lot faster than we were anticipating, and to be honest we weren’t really ready.

Oh, and that happened in October. And I needed to be here in January. Not exactly a lot of time to settle the other important details.

Life Isn’t About Money

We had a decision to make. My wife could stay back with our dog while we tried to sell our house, and she could finish out the school year. The huge upside to this was she would be paid through August since teacher salaries run September to August in most states. We would have her income to help pay for the apartment or whatever we found in Knoxville. The downside, of course, would be living apart from each other.

We were pretty sure we would end up doing the living apart thing. It would only be for 5 months… but then we caved. She turned in her notice, we got the moving truck, spent a weekend looking for a place to live… and a few weeks later we were here.

This, by far, was a dumb financial move. We have cut our income almost in half while doubling our living expenses. We have an empty house in Birmingham that we’re trying to sell and may end up renting.

But we’re together. It’s an adventure. It’s scary. It can be stressful. But we’re together. We’re best friends and head over heels in love with each other. It has been four weeks today we’ve lived here. Looking back we realize we never could have spent 5 months apart. I’m a big softee, love my wife very much, and there’s no way I could have done without her or our dog for that long.

Making Ends Meet

We’re making it for now. She’s got some interviews lined up for some part time work to help supplement our income until the next round of hiring for the local school systems. I’m staying busy at work, and I’m supplementing out income with freelance writing.

It’s not drab gray walls and safe financial decisions. We’re going bowling (thanks to Groupon) for the first time in years. Just a fun quick date to learn our city a little bit better. It doesn’t look smart on a spreadsheet, but despite my love for spreadsheets it’s evident they can’t factor in emotions very well.

We’re fine. It isn’t the disaster my “worst case scenario” brain thought it would be. Money is tight, no doubt, but we’ve got the skills and personal control to not bust our budget.

We’re together. And I’m pretty sure there’s no price you can put on that.

{ 4 comments }

Golfing Girl January 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm

Alas, things on paper are always easier said than done. I look back at when we had a similar situation and we made the same financially dumb move. I missed out on a $10K bonus because I wouldn’t stay behind at a job I hated for a few extra months while my husband started his new job 9 hours away–instead I moved with him. We also made a huge mistake by moving all of our stuff to our new apartment and storing a lot of it, and leaving an empty house to sell (huge challenge).

It took us 6 years to fully recover financially from that mistake. But we did. You, too, will survive, but you have a difficult road ahead of you as a result of your decisions. I know you ignored my advice about leaving your belongings in your house (I strongly urged you leave the furniture in place so you could sell the house quicker–and just get a tiny furnished place in the meantime), but now please listen. Dump the old place. Every month you keep it, you are delaying your future. Who cares what you paid or how much you loved your old house? Certainly not potential buyers. Sell it as quickly as possible and be realistic about what you can get for it. The sooner you can get rid of it, the sooner you can take advantage of ridiculously low rates on your new place (unless you’ve already bought a house–then never mind!).

Kevin January 22, 2011 at 8:48 am

I’m actually not as worried about it as I once was. Dumping the old home is not a priority… would I like to sell it? Of course. But you don’t throw good money after bad; that is, I’m not going to cut the price down to break even just to get rid of the monthly payment.

As it stands right now we’re paying for two places: our house, and our rented townhome. We have enough cash to put a down payment on a new house up here, but didn’t want to rush into it since we obviously haven’t lived here. The mortgage + taxes + insurance would probably be about the same for what we’re paying on a townhome. So cash flow isn’t a problem.

We just don’t know the area well enough to say “Yup, this is the area, and this is the house, that we want to spend the next 20-30 years.”

Renting can be lucrative, or at least better than walking away at break even. Most of the benefit comes from depreciation and being able to write off a lot of things, of course, but if you can rent for more than your total monthly cost you’re making pretty good money. You’ll get the deductions plus the part of the payment that is principal.

Is it ideal? Of course not. I would love to have been one of those people that bought a house in California for $400,000 and solid it for $900,000. But I’m not, and we’re dealing with it as it comes.

Again, life is really too short for me to get any more gray hair over this. Even if we had to walk away from our house — which we won’t — the worst that happens is your credit is shot for 7 years.

We’re taking it one day at a time. It’s exciting, it’s challenging, it’s “Wow, did we really move?”, but one foot in front of the other is how we’re going right now.

Steve Sildon January 24, 2011 at 12:35 am

Making peace with uncertainty and live one day at a time is sure a heck of a lot easier when you’re with your best friend, isn’t it? I can’t imagine a more wonderful “worst case scenario”.

Steve January 25, 2011 at 3:18 am

If we’re talking life being an adventure, then maybe I qualify.
I’m from England, from the Midlands, lived in northern England 26 years, after going up there to Uni.
Met a Danish woman (on the internet, on a rock group’s website forum) in 2000.
After a while and several visits, it was clear that this could go somewhere. I had often stared out of the window at work (trying to look like I was seeing the big Advertising picture, not day-dreaming) and wondered what it would be like to live in another country. A non English speaking country at that.
I don’t (particularly) believe in God, but even I could see that all the signs were there. So, I asked Karin if I could move to Denmark. She said yes. So, in 2004 I told the boss, told Mum and Dad, sold my house, moved over.
I figured from the house sale I’d have enough to live on comfortably for around 6 years or so, before I needed to get a job.
But the most exciting thing was not just the uncertainty, but also the possibilities. I knew I didn’t want to do Advertising again – been there, done that. Plus, not being able to speak the language would rule it out anyway. But what? THAT was exciting. I was 45 at the time, but didn’t see age as a problem. I used the contact I built up over here. I enrolled at Language School, and got a part-time cleaning job when a Polish friend moved town. After a meeting with the boss, I suddenly was Inspektør – running 15 clients and having full-time work myself. I’ve since moved on and have – what I consider a fantastic job – working in a Hospital. I work for the ‘replacement office’, we replace people in whichever department we’re needed, I’m a Serviceassistent. I like the uncertainty of not knowing which department I might be on tomorrow. I seem to have tremendous self-confidence, I don’t quite know how things will turn out, but know I can do it and that it could well be exciting finding out.
Admittedly, in 2004 the economic situation was right – I sold my house at the top of the UK house boom (both the couple who bought my house would have had to have taken out mortgages half as big again as that I had took out to buy the house). And, the Pound was high against the Kroner; I got around 13 Kr when I moved (most of) my money over. Now it’s around 8.5, has been down to just over 7.
I left a shed-load of money over in my UK bank to pay for Pensions for a number of years, now I send money over every month (the exchange rate now works in my favour, and I make money on each payment!). Apart from the Pensions I have running in the UK (some I can keep paying into, others I can’t because I’m not a UK taxpayer any more), I also qualify for the Danish State Pension, have one running from a previous job here and get a very nice Pension paid for by my current job. I will also get the UK State Pension, based on my payments up to the date I moved over.
We pay the highest rate of tax in the world here. I think I pay around 39%. I don’t earn a tremendous amount, but I’m happy. We got married in 2005, we have a nice house, we save, we look forward to the future.
I speak Danish all day every day. I speak to many different types of people from staff to patients from all parts of Denmark. Of course, my English also helps, we get a lot of non-Danes through the hospital as well, I often need to translate.
I told myself to take the decision to move only if I was sure I wouldn’t want to move back. So when I moved, I was absolutely sure. I don’t miss the UK, I miss my old friends sometimes, but ‘sådan er det’.
I may have written this sort of thing here before, but I thought it fitted your current series of posts.
As we say here in Denmark; ‘grib chansen’, I’m sure that doesn’t need translating. Take the chance. I didn’t want to be sitting over in England 5 years later, staring out of the window and wondering what it might have been like to move to Denmark.

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