151. Embracing Unconventional Choices: Adventures to Financial Independence
Live like no one else today so you can live like no one else tomorrow
Growing up, I never thought I would leave the workforce and instead spend my time doing things I love. I had no comprehension of ideas like financial independence, early retirement, or sabbaticals. The paths I saw were laid out in straight lines and cheat codes did not exist.
Reflecting on our journey, Michelle and I realize we have made some unconventional decisions that have given us financial abundance and, most importantly, time freedom.
If you live like no one else now, later you can live like no one else.
Unconventional decision #1: Tracking my spending
When I started to track my spending, I started to make drastically different decisions. I would list every single expense on a Google spreadsheet every two weeks so that I could save at least 50% of my income. The changes started small, like cutting out fast food/delivery services, but this quickly evolved to cutting out many social events and discontinuing dating. At that time in my life, I didn’t have time for these events, and cutting them out saved me both money and energy.
A glimpse into the madness- Red flag or dealbreaker?
Unconventional decision #2: Moving in with my parents
Every time I say this people always say “I could never live with my parents”. I understand that for safety reasons some people can genuinely not live with their parents. However, many people are being hyperbolic and I was one of those people. I didn’t want roommates let alone to live with my parents, but I knew this would accelerate my path to financial independence.
When I first moved in I was overwhelmed with all the things in the house and the disorderliness. I had become accustomed to a psychotic level of organization. After a few weeks, I learned to settle into my new environment, and eventually, I learned to truly appreciate living with my parents.
I learned how to be communal again. The Indian culture is a naturally very communal culture. We eat together, we dance together, and we pray together. This also means, considering my family’s plans with my actions. This means spending time with my parents, other family, and friends when they come over. Sometimes I had to sleep on the living room floor while guests visited. Yes, I may have an anti-visual media stance, but this does not mean my dad does not get to blast CNN at the maximum volume throughout the house all day. Yes, I may think sugar is the modern-day equivalent of the colonizers’ smallpox, but that doesn’t mean I can throw out the Costco-sized bag of dried cranberries that my mom loves.
Being communal means understanding that I have no right to throw away used coconut shells
I started to appreciate the communal aspects of my culture- the large pots of chicken curry and rice my parents cooked, the loud phone calls in Malayalam with other family members from across the globe, and even the plants from various friends and family that crowded our house. I realized the beautiful safety net I was born with. If I stayed with each member of my family and extended family for just one day, I would have enough homes to last me a year at least and, because of our culture, they would welcome me with open arms.
My mom on a Zoom call for a reunion of her “Nursing Batch” from Kerala
I realized that my individualistic lifestyle is a privilege, not a right, and it is not a cheap privilege either. This made me have more gratitude for the life that I get to live.
Unconventional decision #2: Living in a desert ghost town
Moving to a middle-of-nowhere desert ghost town was probably the most extreme unconventional decision that I made. I moved there because I could be paid more with a significantly lower cost of living than in the Bay Area. Before this, I had learned how to be frugal and save more than half my income, but the pay bump in the desert was gas on the fire.
A beautiful desert sunset amongst our backyard’s sublime decay
Because of my higher vision for financial and time freedom, moving to the desert to perform nearly the same job I was already doing for significantly more pay seemed like a no-brainer. My Bay Area coworkers disagreed, apparent in their parting gifts- a taser and an evil eye anklet.
The doubts did creep in as I drove past the “State Prison: Don’t Pick Up Hitchhikers” sign when entering my new town. We did have to learn some new ways of life. Michelle and I learned how to get the safest and cheapest form of water, five-gallon refills from the grocery store. We learned to keep a cooler in our car as the nearest cities were two hours away. Michelle became a master at eliminating even the creepiest of critters.
The “Camel Spider”
These experiences may seem like sacrifices but, truthfully, they were adventures. We each have different unique levers that we can pull to get us closer to our goals. Maybe certain things that we enjoy others can’t tolerate, that’s where our superpower lies. These unconventional moves are our special hacks that unlock the way to living our dream life and creating adventures along the way.
Thank you Meghan for telling us about My Sister’s House DV Shelter
Thanks to everyone who came to our BWS Collective Ugly Sweater Party! It was a blast
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