Browse Category by Debt Free Living

Financial independence – FI

You know it’s time to move when you look through pictures of your home after you remodeled it and realize you’ve changed out most pieces of furniture.

My brother Phillip was in town visiting for the holidays recently and as usual we got into talks of our hopes and dreams. He showed us this amazing video of a man named Slomo in San Diego who rollerblades all day and night and is living his best, and happiest life.

The conversation then shifted to financial independence. Phillip asked if we had heard of the FI movement, and the answer was yes. Back when we lived in Colorado I remember reading Mr. Money Mustache’s blog a few times, as he was located just 15 min from where we lived, and I’ve always been fascinated by personal finance. I had also just read this NY Times article on the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early). During this conversation Zach and I became acutely aware that we have gotten too comfortable.

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Business planning, Buying houses, Debt Free Living, Fixer Upper, Investments, Move forward, Planning, Small living, Smart money, Uncategorized

Live within constraints.

Four years ago Zach spoke on Boundless Creativity via Boundaries, Constraints, and Limitations at Ignite Denver. He’s been saying it for years, and it still holds true today. The more we restrain ourselves, the more creative we are.


Look at us laughing at how little we spent on our wedding day!

I remember back in 2007 we had a budget of a whopping $2,000 for our wedding, including my dress! This is not a joke. My parents have always provided well for me and my 4 siblings, but they’ve never had a lot or money. Zach and I also had very little money. When we got married we were both going to school full time, and I was working as a Cosmetologist. So we had to make this budget work. If I remember correctly, I think we spent closer to $1,500!

Here’s how:

  • My dress was $400 (and the first dress I tried on).
  • We had our reception in the gym at our church which was free.
  • Our flowers for my bouquet and center pieces were roses from Costco (hello $24 for 2 dozen roses).
  • We didn’t hire a DJ, instead we used our iPod for a playlist.
  • My aunt made our wedding cake.
  • My mom made ham and turkey sandwiches on rolls for food, and had other small finger food.
  • Our photographer was a friend and I think charged around $300? (I do wish we had spent more here)
  • My friends from beauty school did my hair.
  • My shoes were from Payless.
  • I borrowed a necklace from a girl in College who I didn’t even know that well, but I liked it. Ha!

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Debt Free Living, Small living, Smart money

New Airbnb in Louisville, CO

This last week I made a trip back to Colorado to visit our good friends (and our family Photographer) Ashleigh and Ian. I made the trip because they decided they wanted to rent out their spare bedroom on Airbnb. This was extra special because they purchased their house from us!  It was a lot of fun to be back in Louisville (although it was all of 36 hours) and get them squared away.

Have you ever considered renting your house out on Airbnb? Or, rent out a spare bedroom? Tell us about it!

Airbnb, Business planning, Debt Free Living, Planning, Small living, Smart money

My inner JLO vs granola.

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This concept is one I learned from one of my best friends, who also happens to be my sister in law, Emily. She once told me how she had this inner struggle of her JLO vs granola and I couldn’t believe how much it resonated with me, and I adopted it as my own. So here it is.

There is a part of me that wants all things glamorous, and this is my JLO. I want a big house with a spa like master bathroom, gourmet kitchen, my own office, beautiful decks overlooking amazing views and a large open living area. I want a brand new van that smells new and rides like a dream. I want cute clothes that make me feel like a babe, and lots of them. I want eyelash extensions. I want a manicure, pedicure and massage every week.

I also have a part of me that wants all things granola. I want to live in a tiny house with my family that sits on a farm where we live off the land. I want to drive a Westfalia camper (why do these only seat 5 people!?) and go on road trips and camping with the kids. I want to live completely debt free. I don’t want to wear makeup. I don’t want a cell phone. I want to travel around the world as a family and have few worldly possessions.

This battle is real.  And this battle inside of me wants two completely different things. I think a lot of us are like this but until now, had no way to describe this inner struggle. I tend not to live on the extreme with either of these… but I do fall more naturally towards the granola category, thanks to Zach who was born to be a minimalist. While I want the fancier things in life, I also have a realistic view on how my life can go. I can either work really hard for a really long time to get all the material things I want. Or, we can buy less, save more and retire sooner. No matter how tempting it is to get weekly massages (or even monthly!) I choose to work towards a place in life where Zach can leave his day job and we can spend more time as a family. JLO, I’m sorry, I can’t be faithful to you.

Debt Free Living, Planning, Small living, Smart money

My engagement ring, and why it says so much.


When Zach proposed to me, he defied all rules. He didn’t ask my Father’s permission, he went against his parents advice, he didn’t kneel down on one knee, and he asked me to marry him with a simple, white gold band- no diamonds. We were sitting in his car parked on a street that had maybe a little bit of a city view and that’s where our eternal commitment to each other started (I later found out he was so nervous he was just driving around with me in the car looking for a place to propose).

When I told people we were engaged, they thought I was kidding. Why didn’t they believe me? Well, my ring didn’t have a diamond on it. I had multiple people tell me “you can just get a cubic zirconia to wear until you can afford a diamond”. One time a girl who heard I was engaged asked me to see my ring (naturally). When I held out my hand, she twisted the ring around and said “You didn’t want a diamond?” With an extremely confused look on her face.

When Zach decided he wanted to ask me to marry him, he went into the local jewelers and asked “what’s the least expensive ring you have?” Zach had about $100 to his name, and spent about $40 of that on my ring. I cannot express how grateful I am for this! We were surrounded by others who were getting engaged and taking out loans to buy rings that cost thousands of dollars. And here Zach was, being financially responsible*, not going into debt, and allowing us to start off our marriage right.

Getting engaged was not about a diamond. And it definitely wasn’t about buying a cubic zirconia to give off the image of wealth and conformity. It was about having the man I loved, and love even more today, ask me to spend the rest of our lives together. The ring was a symbol of this commitment and nothing more. To this day, my ring reminds me of the love Zach has for me and it now symbolizes how we try to live our lives: simple, debt free, and committed.

*Some may argue that getting engaged with $100, well $60, in your bank account would not be financially responsible, but we were college students and I’ll admit, it was a little crazy in hindsight.

Be decisive, Debt Free Living, Move forward, Small living, Smart money