We do a fair amount of traveling. Travel costs were our second highest expense last year – at over $7,000, it was 18% of our $38k spending in 2016. This year, we mean to put a serious dent in those numbers through more extensive travel hacking. So far, we’re off to a good start. We booked a 9 day all-inclusive vacation to Jamaica – and we didn’t pay a dime for it.
When we purchased our home, it was tough to keep it heated. It’s a slightly bigger house than our last, but our oil consumption was nearly double. After having an energy audit performed, we discovered it had more holes than Swiss cheese. Luckily, sealing a home from air leaks is easy to do, doesn’t require special tools, and can be done very cheaply. After a lot of sealing, we can now heat the entire 1700 square foot house with a small wood stove during the harshest New England winter days, and many days we don’t need to run any heating or cooling. Continue reading
There were a lot of changes for us in 2016. Half way through the year, I quit my job, drastically cutting our income. At the time, we decided we were financially independent if we could spend less than $40k a year. But then we started to travel a lot more, spending over 2 months on the road exploring Colorado, New Mexico, Nova Scotia, Maine, and Costa Rica. I was also in a wedding and went to Montreal for a bachelor party while Mrs. CK enjoyed a weekend at the spa. We went sailing, fishing, hiking, biking, and ate and drank like kings. Overall, I think we have been living pretty damn well, but what did it cost us?
We used to go to our favorite pizzeria once a week. For a small pie and a salad to split, our bill was usually less than $20. At the time, this seemed like a decent deal. I thought you needed a commercial pizza oven and special ingredients to make a pizzeria quality pie. But over the last few years, I’ve uncovered the secrets to making pizzeria quality pizza. These techniques do require some planning, but not much time. And pizza ingredients are very cheap – we can make better pizza than our local pizzeria for $2 a pie.
There was not a single present for anyone under our tree this year. In fact, there were only reverse presents. Say what? That’s right, instead of giving each other gifts this year, Mrs. CK and I rummaged through the house to find stuff to give away. We gathered our “gifts” and piled them under the tree. Then, instead of unpacking presents, we packed them all up into our trusty steed Lightning. And off to Goodwill they went.
In the days leading up to my last day at work, I felt a sense of excitement that I hadn’t experienced since middle school. I started working when I was 14, and since then have rarely had more than a week off from one job or another. But I do have memories of being in middle school and anticipating the summer. The weather would start to warm, and in the last few days of school, our excitement grew and the teachers became more relaxed. Summer break seemed like an infinite amount of time off as a kid. This past May, I felt like that kid again. It was getting nice outside, I was getting more excited, and work was getting more relaxed.
If there’s one place I get the best deals, it’s Craigslist. When I’m looking for new toy, I always check there first. In most cases, you can get stuff for half of what they cost new. Not only that, it’s also a great place to get rid of your junk. After creating an ultra efficient fridge to house my beer, I was able to unload my old kegerators for $1000 – pretty close to what I paid for them. These were just a couple of the items I’ve sold. Over the past few months, I’ve made over $2000 selling stuff I wasn’t using anymore.
I knew Costa Rica had changing seasons, but I didn’t realize the changes in the landscape would be so extreme. When we flew to Guanacaste, Costa Rica last March, I was surprised by how little green there was. Much like our Northeastern winters, most of the trees were bare, and the grasses were all dried up. But November is at the end of the wet season, and we arrived to lush green fields and forests.