Focus on the Wins

This post was originally published on Wendy’s website Girl FI Day. It is so inspiring to us, we thought we should share it with our House of FI family.  To be inspired on your FI journey, keep reading. 

Day 2866…134 days in.

It is a GOOD thing to look back and find your wins.  Especially if you have been knocked on your butt a few times.  We’ve been thrown a few lumps recently as described in my last post.  Because of that, I thought it would be a good idea to look back and examine a few of our accomplishments since starting this journey back in July.

Now, when we started we took a very good look at our budget and we cut several things.  Cable. The gym. Reduced our cell phone bill.  Paid off a few accounts.  And that was a great start.  We reduced our discretionary spending significantly as well.  At the time, we were like, “wow, that’s pretty stinkin’ good.”  and it was, TOTALLY!  (I am 46-year-old California girl through and through; “Like” “totally” and “awesome” are part of my permanent vernacular. And sometimes they all get thrown together even.) 

Then, we started gaining some momentum.  Started talking to more people about what we are doing.  Talked with and listened to others that are on this same journey, some behind us and some way ahead.   It’s inspiring.  It’s motivating.  Even so, this BIG goal we have does not seem real.  It still seems like a dream.  Because when it happens – it WILL be a dream.  It will be something that most people never reach because they are afraid.  Or stuck.  Or because they just can’t envision a life of MORE than what they already have.  We want more than that.  We want to be able to choose.  Choose whether or not we continue to work in some fashion after we “retire” from our current careers.  To choose to pursue passion projects or volunteer.  Choose to pick up and go wherever we want to go, whenever we want.  All because we have laid the groundwork for it now.

Have you ever taken a moment to watch construction? It is hard, labor-intensive, exhausting work.  Not many people choose to do it.  Having previously lived in Phoenix for fifteen years – I especially felt for them in the Summer months.  It’s not a job you can do forever.  But their job is so important. A structure built on a crappy foundation is ultimately worthless or at best will cost a lot of money to fix.

We are in the foundation building stages of FI (Financial Independence).  It’s not fun a lot of the time.  It is work.  There is a sacrifice. But it must be done in order for our plans to work.  Without our foundational work now – Financial Freedom and Early Retirement, will not happen.  We will be on the hamster wheel until we die.  No thanks.

So this morning, I took a step back to look at our work. And I was pleased with our progress.  (That is an understatement for sure.) Here is a summary of the monthly costs we have cut and/or paid off since we started a few months ago:


Cell 25.00

Cable 120.00

Gym 110.00

Care Credit 49.00


Tuition Wendy 400.00

Dentist 215.00

Department Store 27.00

Tuition Maddie 781.00



State Taxes: 250.00

Karate 375.00

Water Delivery 125.00

Gym (again) 159.00


But wait….now times that by 12….That is $31,623.00….$31,623.00!!!!

Whaaaaat?  That is a pretty freakin’ awesome number, right?  And this does not include our reduced discretionary spending for things like groceries and fuel.  Cool fact? If you look at most of them, individually, they are fairly small amounts.  The lesson?  Small wins add up to BIG ONES.  When I see what we have been able to decrease from our budget, I get excited.  It makes me want to go back through it and look for more costs we can reduce. It makes me jump up from my desk, run into the other room and, excitedly, tell my husband, “Babe look at what we have done!”  Really, I did do that.

Now you may look at our numbers and be thinking, “I can’t do that.  You make waaaaaay more money that I do.  Of course, YOU can do that.”  But I challenge you.  Listen up! Becoming debt free and saving money can be done, and IS done, by people who make significantly less that what our family is fortunate enough to make.

Have you looked at your monthly spending lately?  What are you spending money on that you can cut or reduce?  Make a goal.  Start small.  Cut $100.00 from your monthly spending and put it in an investment account.  (I put ours into a Vanguard VTSAX account.  Unsure of why you should or where you should put your money, go to JL Collins site and read his stock series, or buy his book The Simple Path to Wealth.) Then the next month cut your spending by another $100.00 (or 1% – whatever is achievable for you and will not cause you to freak out. And invest that amount in the same way.)  Then wash, rinse and repeat.  It’s MAGIC.

$100.00 in savings a month, equals $1200.00 a year.  $200 a month, equals $2400.00 a year.  $300 a month, equals $3600.00 a year.  Compound each of those over ten years at 8% interest and you get $17,383.87, $34,767.75 and $52,151.62 respectively.  How would it make you feel to have that much sitting in an investment account growing by simply making a few simple cuts to your budget NOW.  Life-changing. Truly it is.  If you can grasp this one thing – you will have changed your life and that of your family’s.

Trust me…. you can do this.  It is just math.  Math and determination.  I believe you can do it. So get to it

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