Did they win the lottery or something?


The other day I was asked by a friend how we could even consider selling most of our stuff and our home for a big one year adventure.  She continued by admitting that, although she loves travel and was incredibly envious of our big trip, she could never do it.  She simply loved her home and her stuff too much to let it go.  

In some ways, I can understand this.  I too struggle with the pairing down of belongings and the selling of the house, but I also just can’t stop thinking about how incredible this next year is going to be and looking forward to the journey and growth in all of us.  I firmly believe that the experience is going to be priceless way beyond the value of our “stuff.”

Yet, my friend’s honesty left me speechless.    I have had too many people tell me “I could never afford that,”  “I don’t have the time,” “We have too much stuff to get rid of it all,” “I could never leave my job,”  “Won’t you miss the house?”   But this particular friend understood what was happening.   And, to me, it was almost a relief in some ways to have someone admit that is was a choice and in her case, she does and would choose differently.  

So, how are we making this happen?

Did we win the lottery?  No.  

Did we receive some inheritance windfall?  No. 

Are we making big incomes?  No.   

Are we going to work from the road?  Heck no.

Then how can we do it?  Years ago, we made a determined choice and have lead a life toward this goal.   Living in a suburb of Portland which has a reputation as being wealthy, we have had to work hard to live firmly below our means.   Self-employed for a long time, we are no strangers to working long hours, evenings, and weekends.  We have paid off all debt, saved money and, most years, have been fortunate enough to throw a little toward retirement.   

The other day, I met someone who was in complete disbelief that I do not have a smart phone.  Serious disbelief!   I honestly think he thought I was lying to him.  (My boys tease that even their grandparents have smart phones?!) 

Right after that conversation though, I started making a list of all the things the family and I don’t spent money on.   Before you read, please don’t misunderstand as judgment.   Without a doubt, I can see the attraction of every item (well, except maybe the credit card interest) or even the need (student loans can go either way.)  It is just that these items haven’t been a part of our budget over the past several years.  

Here is my list:

Iphone or any other smart phone (and the corresponding monthly contracts)

Ipad or Itouch

Xbox or Playstation

Big screen TV, Cable TV, Blueray, Tivo (I don’t even know what this is, but it sounded like something I should include)

Expensive clothing

Expensive gym membership (one pair of running shoes will last me 6 months)

Expensive shoes or boots (unless you count my running shoes.  J  )


Hair color appointments

Manicures and/or Pedicures

Expensive organic produce or prepared food

New cars (mine is 10 years old)


Student loans

Credit card interest payments or ANY loan interest

Movies out

New furniture

Home improvement projects

There are a lot of things here and if you add up the amount people could spend on them each month, it feels almost like a trip around the world, no?   J 

That said, despite the above list of items we have cut, we still were not able to save as much money as we would have liked, so selling the house was the next step.   Money from our home equity is allowing us to head out without worries, giving us enough to travel and still have enough left to start re-entry at the end.   To further stretch the budget, we plan to travel as frugally as possible, and we have chosen inexpensive countries for a good long part of the trip. 

Did I mind having giving up all the above for the adventure?  No.  (OK, sometimes I did, but only until I considered the return.)    Over the past few years, we all (yes, even the kids) have gotten in the habit of thinking of money spent or saved in terms of how far it would take us.  

New brand named shoes?  Three nights in Vietnam.  

One nice dinner out?  A dozen meals in Cambodia.  

A smart phone?  Family elephant rides in Thailand. 

We all face choices every day that could take us in many different directions.   At the end of the day, I guess I have chosen the elephants over the iphone. 

What about you? 


Our House Sold!


With any luck, the house is sold!   In mid-June, after a heck of a lot of purging and cleaning, we left our sparse and sparkly home in the hands of our realtor and left town for a long weekend away with friends.   We thought disappearing was better than having to be kicked out of the house with each showing.   (Not to mention, with two boys, it is easier to keep the house clean when we aren’t around.)   Within those first three days and a few showings, we received a full price offer on the house!   We were beyond pleased.

But, as you know if you have bought or sold a house, that is just the beginning.   Then begins the process of the inspection, negotiations, bids, more negotiations, and appraisals while all parties make sure the house is what they expected.

Well, the good news is… as of today, that’s all done.  Agreements have been finalized, and the schedule is moving forward.  We were delighted to learn that the buyers don’t even want to move in before mid-August, and since we aren’t leaving until September 4th, we asked if we could have a few more weeks to stay right up to the end.  They agreed!   This is great news as we can avoid moving twice and having to start living out of a suitcase any sooner than we have to.

Seriously though, perhaps the nicest part of this whole transaction (yes, when all is said and done it IS a transaction), is that we feel like the home is going to good people who will enjoy it and love it.  Selling a home isn’t just a business transaction as there is so much tied up emotionally for both sides.  After all, we have lived in our home for 14 years and this is all that our boys know.   For a long time, this home has been …  well, HOME.

Fortunately, as it turned out, the buyers had already embraced the neighborhood and the home before we had even returned from our weekend away.   They’d left a note for us telling us much they love the home, how they were excited to be able to walk to their jobs, how they looked forward to hiking in Tryon Creek State Park nearby, and how much they respected our decision to take this adventure with our boys.  In the letter, she summarized her feelings by saying “All this is to say we would be thrilled if you accept our offer.”

A full price offer to nice people who will take good care of our home?!   Well, OK.  🙂

In all seriousness, though, throughout all this crazy roller coaster of home sale emotion – both good and bad – I keep coming back to the letter from the buyers.  They told us about how they both had been giving opportunities to live abroad and how grateful they still were for those opportunities of adventure and growth.

And, to close, she wrote:

“As a personal note, we think your plans for the coming year are really cool…..   Your children will have experiences that they will treasure for life, and discover things they could never learn in school.  It’s a good thing that you are doing.  Sincerely, S&S”

Thanks, S&S.   We think so too!   I hope you find as much love and joy in the home as we have!

Pre-Moving Sale Jitters

In the madness of trying to get things cleared out of the house for our big Moving Sale this weekend, I find myself in somewhat of a panic.  What if it all doesn’t go?  What if our beautiful forested dead-end road just doesn’t get enough traffic and no one comes?   What if the people who do come don’t leave with new treasure.

After the past few months, weeks, and days of emotionally separating ourselves from about 60+% of the items in the house, I am so ready to have to gone.  We feel like it is weighing us down – holding us here when instead we are ready to embark on our family adventure.

So, please, join me in a quiet prayer to the Garage Sale Gods.   May it all go quick!


Can I go back to work yet?

Spent the entire 3 day weekend packing up carloads for Goodwill and then preceding to fill our entire living room with boxes in preparation for a garage sale.  Phew!  I’m exhausted!  The rest of the house is looking pretty good.   Lots of work still to go, of course, but the progress is promising.