Frugal Living Ideas

Farms, Friends, and Financial Independence

farms friends and financial independence

Do you have a dream?  Are you currently pursuing a passion that keeps you up at night? 

Or, are you mindlessly meandering through life, waiting for that annual trip to Ocean City in July?

It’s fun to sit and day dream about things we’d like to do, but what are you doing every day to work toward your dreams?

Perhaps your journey toward your dream is so laser focused you’ve forgotten how to live the life you’re trying so hard to improve?

For me there isn’t a happy medium, not in my dysfunctional brain.  I’m either all in, or…

I. Don’t. Give. A. Fuck

This mental battle has led to me to some amazing professional and personal success, and some frustrating, soul crushing defeats. 

I’m currently navigating a mental obstacle course that could be a therapist’s swan song…

Let’s dig in…

 The Beginning

Prior to learning about financial independence, we made a decision to purchase a small 52 acre farm.  The purchase was long awaited and a promotion for my wife forced us to pull the trigger.

Farm, friends and financial independence
Front porch view

We put our home on the market, packed it up, and moved 3 hours west.

It was an invigorating time.  Being a landowner was a dream of mine for many, many years and it finally came to fruition.  We found a great home with 52 attached acres. 

Dream Mode:  Unlocked [ x ] Locked [ ]

We ended up getting the property for $318,500 and it appraised for $350,000.  Not too shabby, right?

Then there’s the sale of our old home.  What a total disaster…

We had the house on the market for 3 days and obtained a full price offer.  Woohoo, right?  No, that’s not right you silly goose. 

The original buyers fell through and it sat on the market for about 7 months.  Facing two mortgages, our debt free journey came to a screeching halt.

Finally, after 7 long months the original buyers RETURNED and made another offer on the home.  This time they low balled the absolute shit out of us.

I can’t remember exactly what I said, but I know it was along the lines of “I’d rather pay for this house forever than sell it to you for this price”.  Something like that…

At this point we had dropped the price of our home by about $15,000 and his low ball offer made me see shades of red that Jesus hasn’t even created yet.

Thankfully, they ended up buying the home at the current listed price and we pocketed a less than exciting profit.

Once that 2nd mortgage was gone, life felt great!

We kicked our debt payoff plan into overdrive and finished paying off the last of our consumer debt in about 14 months.

Financial Independence

As I said, we bought the farm before we learned about “FI”.  We were in the midst of paying off $109,000 of consumer debt and didn’t really have a plan for our lives post debt.

Roughly 3 months after becoming debt free, I stumbled across a few podcasts: ChooseFI and The Mad Fientist.

These podcasts opened up an entirely new world.  I learned that with proper planning, discipline, income, and a healthy dose of frugality… we could become financially independent in about 5-6 years.

Whoa… (mind blown)

We quickly built an emergency fund, increased our 401k contributions, and opened a post-tax brokerage account with Vanguard.

I’m sure you’ve picked up on something… I tend to dive into things.  I enjoy building the plane as I learn to fly.

I don’t believe in doing anything half-assed.  If I’m going to dedicate time and energy toward a goal, I’m going to work my ass off and try to become the best at it.

I threw a miners helmet on, and dove head first down the FI rabbit hole.

Oh shit… Was this a good idea?

farms, friends and financial independence
Front porch view

This was the first time I began to question the financial decision around our farm.

Here’s why:

  • Our first home was purchased for around $170,000 and carried a mortgage (including taxes and interest) of about $1,200/month.
  • Our current home was purchased for $318,500 and carries a mortgage (including taxes and interest) of about $2,050/month

With our current investment strategy, the extra money we’re currently paying toward our home would be roughly $100,000 in 7-8 years.

That’s a big freaking deal, right?  Although, it’s more complicated than just a mortgage.

A perk of our farm is we get free gas, and it’s a newer, well insulated home.  This results in an electric bill about $120/month.

Our total monthly spending comes in around $3,300 – $3,400/month.  We’re crazy frugal… but, what if we had that delicious cheap mortgage?

Our journey toward financial independence seems pretty easy now compared to others who are living paycheck to paycheck.

But, the “what if” game is flicking my forehead like my big brother did when we were kids. It’s annoying as fuck.

Is financial independence the dream or is it the farm?  Can it be both?

Our Friends

Back when we decided we were moving, the hardest part for me was telling my best friend Ben.  We’ve been friends since our freshman year of college, and still remain close years after.

I keep a very small circle, and telling him we were going to be living 2 hours away was harder than I expected.

I was excited about my wife’s new job, our new farm, and the journey ahead of us… but I was also doing my best to ignore any sadness that tried to creep into my brain.

After all, I’ve learned that good friends are extremely difficult to find.

Fast forward 3 years and we still remain very close with Ben and his wife, Jen.  We see each other fairly often (monthly or every other month), and we talk or text almost every day.

Our life and our relationships felt solid.

But something weird happened this past weekend during a visit to see Ben and his wife…  My wife and I left and felt oddly sad. 

I’m not sure if it was because the weekend was over and it was a really good time, the fact we could only stay a night due to our many animals, or just the realization that relationships mean a fucking lot…

During the drive back to Ohio, we started discussing what life would look like if we moved closer to our friends. 

Note: This is all possible because my wife is a rare mixture of kickassedness (I just made that a word), hardworking, intelligent and extremely personable.  This rare mixture of delicious personality traits resulted in her being promoted again.

Her promotion opens up a HUGE area of places we could live.  One being about 35 minutes from our friends.

My position is remote… so I could work on the moon if I had wifi and access to a laptop.

The Decision

Meet Pearl, Opel, Gertrude, Penelope, Blanch, and Florence

I’m going to be honest, moving makes me want to vomit.  I remember when we moved 3 years ago, I swore that I would rather experiment with meth than sell and pack up a house.

It was terrible the first time.  The stress of it all was heavier than I expected… but, we did it and we lived to tell the story.  Suck it up, right?

Here we are now again, left with an unexpected conundrum.  Do we seriously want to pick up and leave the very place we worked to obtain for so long?

Can we buy this amount of property closer to a city?  Is the increase in mortgage intelligent?  Do we settle for less land, or live in a more… I can’t believe I’m going to say this… residential area?

Here’s what we know…

  • Our home has increased in value… tremendously in a very short period of time
  • Packing sucks
  • Selling a home sucks
  • Buying a home sucks

I’m sure you’ve picked up on the theme… Moving. Sucks.

The worst part of this decision is the realization that with every decision, there is a tradeoff.  For everything we obtain with the move, we lose something else.

For example:  We moved to our new home.  We acquired a lot of land, a beautiful home, a new job, and some fun farm animals (chickens and soon goats).

We lost the ability to see our friends as often as we’d like.

If we moved back toward our friends and the city, we’d lose the land and farm animals.  But, we’d acquire the ability to see our friends more often.

I don’t know that getting both is possible with our budget.  After all, the financial aspect of this decision holds a massive chair at the table.

I want my cake and I damn well want to eat it too!

I want my cake

Does that perfect property exist?  Can we find acreage, a home, a price under $300,000, and close proximity to our friends?

It sorta feels like a unicorn, right?

The good news?  We don’t HAVE to do anything urgently.  We can explore this further and untangle these feelings over some wine for months to come.

Final Word

I’m not an overly emotional person, but this past few weeks have unlocked some weird emotional part of my brain that’s be on lock down for 30 years.

Our journey toward financial independence remains a top priority, but we’re toying with this idea.

Can we find that property unicorn? Should we even move?  Will moving propel us toward financial independence? 

These questions will probably make for fun discussion for months to come.

Finally, there is something that’s really sticking out to me…  Financial independence is a fool’s errand if you ignore the relationships that form along the way.

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