Retirement is Killing My Blog

Before I quit my job and headed into the great of unknown of being a Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) I had all kinds of thoughts about how this blog could follow along. First of all, I could be different from other bloggers that hit retirement and then faded into the sunset (and kudo’s to them for pivoting away from the blogging world to live life). That won’t be me, I said, I can write about all this new stuff! There’s so much new stuff it won’t be difficult at all coming up with blog posts each, I said… That’s true! I have a shitload of new and different situations going on with the SSC family. Except that one thing has changed that has made a significant impact on the blog. That one thing is the fact I’m not in front of a computer 8-10 hours a day anymore.

Unlike most bloggers, I did most okay, all of my blogging at the office. Oh yeah! I got to work at 6am and had a solid 2 hrs before the rest of the company showed up to work. If you look back at old comments you’ll notice most come between 6-7am, lol. I also used that time to write posts, edit posts, and tinker with the blog. Nowadays, my computer is upstairs in my music/art/office area. It’s great!

The instruments are right there!

My own little space, nice view out the window. A perfect writing nook. For it to be functional, I need to actually be up there and writing and that just hasn’t been happening. I’ve got too much other stuff going on to head upstairs for 2-4 hours a week and bang out a post, respond to comments, etc… Life is just too damn exciting!

What’s Been Going On

I’ve been staying busy with the house, kids, getting adjusted to the SAHD lifestyle. It’s been pretty great so far! I haven’t been super great at managing time as I wanted to be. My time debts get racked up pretty quickly some weeks and others are smooth sailing. The cold has finally broken here so I’ve been a bit more focused on the outside since things will be green, ticks will be out (wait, they’re already back), snakes and scorpions will be out again, and I can’t willy nilly go grabbing anything off the ground. We’ve gotten a LOT done over the winter and the “backyard” is way more usable than it was when we moved in last summer. Not the fenced in part, but the woods outside of that area. We had someone gather and haul off 120 cubic yards of brush/trees that I’d gathered up or where scattered around the property. I cut down over 30 trees and hauled at least 20-30 cubic yards of mostly decomposed wood into an old ravine on our property. I figured I could use it to make a hugelkultur of sorts and fill it with wood. The guy with the skid steer squashed it down once, then I mounded it up again and he squashed more and then topped it with dirt from around the yard. At least some of the trees will go back into the ground, right?

School and CASA

School volunteering is moving along, but it hasn’t been as consistent as I expected. Mostly from my own doing, but I’m getting back to at least once a week being a Watchdog. Prior to that, I’ve been volunteering for every other thing like, field trip chaperone, state testing monitor (OMG, so dull…), PT librarian, and more. That’s been fun and it’s great getting to see the kiddo’s during the school day.

CASA training is nearly complete! Woohoo!! 8 weeks of training is coming to a close and we’ll have our swearing in this Friday. It’s been difficult as it has been 3 hrs a week of training, but mostly difficult because it occurs at the same time as my DBSA group meetings. DBSA is the Depression Bi-polar Support Alliance and the have group meetings for people dealing with those issues or anxiety or anything else they want to come and talk about.  Those have been super helpful for me and I’ll be glad to get back to my Thursday meetings. It’s just nice having a place to share and be open with people dealing with same/similar issues. It’s been rough missing those, but that’s almost over.

Hobbies

I previously thought I’d be doing exercising/training a lot and putting in time to all my different hobbies with all this free time and that hasn’t quite worked out how I thought. Everyone is always saying “retire TO something…” not away from things. Well, I have a shitload of stuff I retired to, but like my last posts have pointed out it doesn’t mean that your hobbies are now your new default time killer.

Yep, whatever habits you had before retiring don’t magically change with more free time. If you wasted a lot of time on phone games, that won’t change until you break that habit. Same with TV, naps, procrastination, etc… Like Maggie at Northern Expenditure said, “Retired you is still you.” That is SO true. I’ve struggled with this even though I’ve also been doing hobbies and tackling the yard/woods/house like crazy. I finished building my banjo and it actually plays! Yay! I put together 2 adirondack chairs and stools that my FIL brought up for us. I’ve got the plans picked out for the cedar woodstrip canoe I’m starting on, and have been scouting spots for a garden for next year or this fall. I’m putting in a compost pile today and have the front flower beds I’ve been transplanting bushes out of and making a plan for them.

Inside, I have a lot of painting to do, an attic exhaust fan to rebalance, one last horrid push of adding insulation before it gets really warm and the attic comes to life with spiders, scorpions and god knows what else. They’re already moving around as I saw a spider in our shed yesterday, so sooner is better than later… Also, it’s a really, really tight spot, just to get into another really tight spot. Shudder…

Exercise

Triathlons and that kind of exercise have disappeared lately. I let the Texasman tri and OKC Memorial Marathon (half-marathon for me) sneak up on me and won’t be ready for either of them. Mainly because I haven’t been running consistently or swimming at all since we moved. Unless it’s open water swimming, my only other option is joining the university pool or the Y. Both are a little spendy considering when the kids get out of school in another month or 2 I won’t have free time to bike, run, or swim as I’ll be full-time babysitter. Yipe!!

Also, the meds I’m taking are not helping with my motivation. In short, if I could nap 2-3 hrs a day I would. I sleep from about 10-10:30 pm – 5:50 am so it’s not like I’m getting too little or too much sleep. Regardless, I feel like I have zero energy constantly, zero motivation, and a massive amount of apathy towards exercise in general. That’s led to putting on about 8-10 lbs though, so I need to get over it and get back into exercising, drop some weight, and be a better health role model for the kids.

Time for New Habits  

In short, I’ve designated April as the month to break bad habits and work on new ones. Starting with this blog post! Sure, it’s a day late from my usual Tuesday posts, but it’s also a month behind my last one, so… You gotta start somewhere right? Secondly, I deleted a couple of phone games as I realized they’re way too much of a timesuck. I’m going back to my previous google calendar schedule of exercise, playing music, painting, woodworking, CASA, school volunteering, etc… This will just have to be a slower approach to some of these, but as long as it’s consistent I think it will work. Finally, I’m getting back to blogging consistently, well more consistently than once a month, lol. There is a TON to write about with how things have changed with our budget, lifestyle, routines, spending, just everything. I need to be better at putting it out there and writing about how things change post-work life and every other thing I’m now dealing with, like grocery shopping (I found our ALDI and had good $$ wins there), being default parent (kids dr’s, dentists, summer programs, homework, laundry, etc…), and taking care of this property. There’s so much I want to do, but it just takes time. Like bees! I wanted to get a couple of hives, but will have to wait until next year due to budget issues – mainly my allowance is at $0.

Summary

I let life run my schedule and didn’t fight back when important things got pushed out of it. It’s easy to get so “busy” living life, cleaning house, doing your thing that you realize it’s been 2 months since you’ve done the stuff you thought you’d be doing all the time. It’s time to be more mindful of my time. I mean, I’ve been mindful of it, it just hasn’t been spent the way I would’ve thought. Now to redirect it back to the things I’d rather be doing, and the blog is one of them. Yay! It will continue! I realized when I was working I had limited time so I made the most of my free time and tried to fit as much stuff in there as possible. Now that I have loads of free time, the drive isn’t there because – I can do that tomorrow – and guess what? Tomorrow never comes… That changes this month.

Have you experienced this or am I the only one?

Time Can Rack up Debts, Just Like Money

As I wrote in my last post transitioning to a non-work life is hard. I think a lot of what makes it difficult is having all of that unstructured free time and figuring out what to do with it. We all have visions of early retirement and what we would do with all of that time. I know that I did and I was severely mistaken how that looked when I actually did have all that time to myself to do whatever my heart desires.

Today I’ll be talking about intentionality with your time. Like being intentional with your money, if you’re not intentional with your time it gets away from you. You can rack up all kinds of “time debts” and stress yourself out in new ways you didn’t even know existed.  The beauty is that just like monetary debts, you can free yourself from these time debts by being intentional with your time. Here’s what I’ve noticed over the last 6 months and how I’ve racked up and cleared a lot of time debt with myself.

Time Debts

You’re probably asking yourself, “What the F*** are time debts?” I see time debts as things you need or want to do yet, push off for some meaningless, worthless task that distracted you. For instance, let’s say in the morning, I plan on reading blogs, commenting, and checking in with the PF (Personal Finance) community before I go do other things. Easy Peasy right? Nothing to stress about and it’s an easy task. After Mrs. SSC heads to campus at 7am, I sit on the couch and slowly sip my coffee and flip thru the news on my phone. Then I flip thru Twitter, because it’s PF related too right? I get an email pop-up and it reminds me I need to research brush hauling companies, and while I do that I get spun off researching used trucks and next thing I know, it’s an hr and a half later… I’ve done nothing of what I planned.

What I did do was create a time debt that I’m going to have to pay back to myself by taking from some other planned activity later in the day or the next day. That sounds a lot like surfing the internet or getting distracted, so what’s the big deal, right? I thought the same thing until I noticed I was adding stress into my life creating lots of these time debts. Like credit cards and student loans, they don’t magically disappear, they just compound and get bigger and bigger. Eventually, you have to pay them off. Especially like credit cards and student loans, they just add an additional background layer of stress reminding you that they’re there. I find it very annoying. How can we pay them off or avoid them altogether?

Spending Habits Apply to Time Too

I found that how I spend time is VERY correlative to how I spend money. In the past, I had no issues acquiring debt, and I would spend money like a drunken sailor. I’ve reigned it in quite a bit, but I can still spend all of my “allowance” money every month and wish there was more around. Yikes! How am I a PF blogger?! When I initially had free reign over my time, I found I also spent it very freely and very unintentionally. Actually, it was intentional, but more selfish intentional. For instance, I’d be in the yard cutting down trees, and chopping them up until the kids got home. Then I’d keep on until Mrs. SSC got home. Instead of having dinner started and time with my family, I still needed to put up tools and take a shower. I’ve not only created a big-time debt for me but also my family, because I’ve just stolen their time for me to do yard work and they have to cover dinner and other responsibilities. Damnit, now I’m a time thief?! Argh!

I found that exactly like finances and spending, I had to be intentional where I spent my time and where I was stealing time from others. Instead of having this looming feeling of guilt that I’d stolen time from the family, I could stop working by 3pm, because it will be there the next day, and be cleaned up by the time the kids get home. It sounds like a simple concept, but man, it was really hard for me to implement.

Habits are HARD to Break

I started thinking, how can I quit creating these time debts and being so sloppy and un-intentional with my time? I tried making a schedule and putting it on Google calendar but all that did was give me more things to dismiss during the day when the reminders would pop up. This wasn’t helpful for me in establishing new habits with spending time, so I gave up and quit trying. Ok, I’m kidding, I didn’t quit, I just kept trying new things. I found that using Google Calendar was good for setting schedules like kids snack day, dr appt’s, vet appt’s, school events, volunteering, training, FIRE MM’s, etc… but what about that pile of free time I had in between all of those?

How do I keep from building time debts doing stupid shit like playing phone games instead of doing something more productive and constructive? I have to be intentional about it and use discipline. Gah!! Not discipline… Why can’t it just be easy and happen without work? Well, that’s not how life works unfortunately, trust me I tried. For instance, yesterday, I walked 16,000 steps and ate an apple and I didn’t lost one pound!! So frustrating! It should all be easy, but it just isn’t. If you’re not willing to put in the work to make the change, the change won’t happen. Not with spending time currency, real currency, or trying to lose weight.

I also found that a change in mindset was needed. Instead of feeling guilty about some of the time debts I’d create for myself, I’d just acknowledge that I wasn’t a good steward of my time and work to do better. I would note what I was unintentionally spending time on and curb it. Deleting phone games is easy – thumb down, move to trash, and done. It took time, but I noticed patterns and worked to create patterns I liked better.

Track Your “Time” Spending

Time and Money are so similar, it’s eery. After realizing this, I realized I needed to track my time. What were my time thiefs, what were my time equivalent of daily $6 latte’s, or $250 monthly gym fees that aren’t being used. Paying attention to these will tell you a lot about yourself just like tracking your $$ spending will. Just like tracking $$ spending, tracking your time spending shows lots of patterns and you can use that information to adjust your schedule to something you’d want to spend your time on and not fritter it away unintentionally. It reminds me of someone that used to say, “That’s a future Mr. SSC problem”. Guess what? I’m future Mr. SSC and I still don’t want that problem.

I found that a lot of my time debts came from phones and tablets. Who would’ve thought?! Shocking, I know! I also found that I needed to set alarms on my watch so that when I’m busy into something intentional, I make sure it doesn’t bleed into stealing time from someone else. My hobbies created a lot of time debts for me with housework, groceries, dinners, etc… Like I mentioned before, seeing those patterns helped with setting boundaries and like finances, learning to better manage my time.

New Patterns Emerge

I settled on a hybrid version of a rigid schedule and calendar reminders. While I still use calendar reminders religiously, and couldn’t be effective without them, I found other things that helped me develop better time spending habits and have settled on this type of schedule.

I put things into days like, Monday’s are for cleaning, Tue/Wed/Fri is for hiking/running, and Thur is for volunteering at the kids’ school. The rest of the “free” time in those days is where I put all the other stuff like groceries, yard work, wood working, music playing, etc…

I also found that I am more of a list person. If I have a list of things that need to be done during the week, and I am MUCH better at getting them done within the “free” time frames that don’t steal time from others. I find it hard to be a set schedule person because some days I may feel like woodworking, and not cleaning. Ok, I never feel like cleaning, but I can bump it to a day that I’d rather be inside or that most of my day is chewed up with other time sucks. By being intentional, I am aware that if I bump cleaning to a different day, it will cut into hiking, which will cut into woodworking, which will bump it into the next day. I ask myself, “Is it worth it to not clean today, when it might mean I can’t do woodworking tomorrow? What am I going to do instead of cleaning that is better than woodworking and make it worth it?” I found that just framing it like this to myself helped a lot too.

Now I can keep a more fluid schedule, a list of “must-do’s” for the week, and have a general idea of what my “wants” are and be able to spend my time more effectively. Get it? Spend… Time… Groan…

Summary

Time is like money, and like money, I was not very good at managing it effectively. I racked up a lot of time debt and had to figure out how to clear it all and get into better time spending habits. I did it by tracking my spending of time, finding my time sucks and eliminating them, or at least acknowledging they are there and being aware and intentional toward any “wasted” time going towards them, and finally finding a good time management strategy that works for me. Like personal finance, your strategy will be different from mine, but I think it’s worth looking into and figuring out. I found it took a lot of background stress and noise away.

 

Transitions Can Be Rough – Stay Flexible

“I told Althea I was feeling lost – lacking in some direction.” This lyric by the Grateful Dead has been bouncing around my brain the last 6 months. Why the last 6 months? That’s been the amount of time since I moved from Houston to Oklahoma. The plan was that I would transition to Stay at Home Dad (SAHD)/default parent and Mrs. SSC would continue working. Why do I get to quit work and she doesn’t? Well, in short, she wants to continue teaching because she loves it, it’s her passion and it does a lot to invigorate her soul. It’s the main reason we switched from pursuing Early Retirement and started working to create our Lifestyle Change. While I loved what I did for work, I’ve written about many times before that there are always things that I’d rather be doing than working.

If you read any FIRE (Financially Independent Retire Early) blogs, eventually you’ll read, “You should retire TO something, not AWAY from something” and it’s a valid point. You don’t want to wake up retired and ask yourself, “what now?” There should be some plan in place for what you want to do with the amazing gift of free time that you just gave yourself. I had one in place, and much like our own FFLC (Fully Funded Lifestyle Change) plans, it needed to be flexible because it too has morphed quite a bit.

The Original Transition Plan

My original plans with my “free time” seemed to be pretty simple. I wanted to do more exercising/training for triathlons, more yard work/gardening, play more music, volunteer at the kids school, volunteer as a CASA, fish more, do woodworking, and homebrew more.  Oh… And keep the house clean, laundry done, weekly menu planned, groceries stocked, kids bathed, dogs vet appt’s and medicines on schedule, and stay on top of home maintenance duties. Easy Peasy, right? I figured I would set up a similar schedule as Justin at Root of Good and see, there’s time for everything I want to do right there, including video games!

Here’s the thing. Major life transitions and schedule changes don’t come easily. Also, I had the first 3 months of relocating feeling chained to the house with the remote assignment I got with my company. Loved the money, hated the feeling of limbo. That threw things out of whack for a while because I felt like I wasn’t fully committed to anything. Eesh… Also, it seemed that whenever I’d start to get in a routine, something would happen and throw it out of whack. You know, life.

What Actually Happened

I think it’s easier to start with what didn’t happen with those above mentioned “wants”.

  • The triathlon training/exercising went out the window pretty quickly. I started running when we first moved here, but after a month or so, it dropped off.
  • Playing more music and learning the dobro. That is also not where I’d like it. Maybe it’s that the instruments are upstairs, but mainly, it’s just not as much of a priority as I expected it to be.
  • Homebrewing started okay, but I’ve only brewed 1 batch since I got here and have 1 batch on deck. Maybe I’ll do that today.
  • Volunteer at the kids school. They have a program called WATCH Dogs and I applied to that before school started. It took until mid-December to hear anything back and be able to start volunteering, so I say that’s a 50/50 as planned. Regardless, I couldn’t do much with it until mid-December, so it didn’t go as I planned.
  • Weekly menu planning. Sweet Jesus, did this crash and burn spectacularly… It’s only been this past month that I’ve been doing that more and staying on top of it. Whoopsies!
  • Fishing more. I did more fishing with my oldest in the last 5 months than we did most years in Houston. He’s started asking to go fishing more often and we live right by a lake. We also used to live right by a lake, but he didn’t want to go much back then.
  • Woodworking… Ugh, I didn’t get my bandsaw setup and put a blade on it until January. I’ll call that a fail.
  • Video games. Even with Red Dead Redemption 2, and Battlefield V coming out, I’ve played less than I did in Houston. Maybe less need to zone out in a game and unwind? IDK…

I did get sucked into a LOT more yard work and home maintenance than I thought. I’ve created another massive pile of brush and trees, similar to that first massive set of brush piles when we first moved in.

There’s 1 more pile of brush not pictured. SO much work…

As mentioned before, I installed 264 batts of insulation, replaced multiple electrical outlets, replaced the guts to 3 sinks and 1 toilet, vacuumed the walls, ceilings, and cabinets of the house due to the massive amount of dust present when we first moved in.

The treadmill gets used!! So much insulation, not all pictured here.

I unpacked and organized some rooms, but so many more to go (organizing, not unpacking, lol), scheduled and met with 4 different AC guys to replace furnace and AC, same with insulation peeps, carpet installers, and multiple various repairmen for things like the septic system or water softener that I won’t tackle myself. Yet… I know there are way more I didn’t mention, but you get the idea.

“I’m becoming less defined as days go by,
Fading away…
Well you might say I’m losing focus,
Kinda drifting into the abstract
In terms of how I see myself”

— NIN

In short, I didn’t know who I was, who I was supposed to be, what role I was supposed to be filling and I felt like I was doing a poor job at all of them…

Health – Don’t Forget Your Brain!

I also spent a LOT of time at Dr’s appointments it seemed. A main focus was to get my mental health in check, something I’ve wholly neglected the last 5 years and have been treating ineffectively the last 10-20 years. Exercise and occasional Serotonin boosts don’t do shit to a chemical imbalance. You know what’s made a 180 difference in my life and my families lives this past 6 months? Depression meds. Funny, how that correlation works. I wish I’d done it decades sooner but am more glad I didn’t wait decades later. Don’t be like me. It’s not a failure to admit you need to see a psychiatrist. I know it felt like it to me, but that’s just the depression talking. Trust me, that’s the single best thing I’ve done for myself and my family since I’ve had a family.

I also went to a general physician because my last full checkup was ~7 yrs ago. Turns out I’m still healthy, but follow-ups on a couple of minor issues took way more visits and time than expected because… doctors.

Essentially, even though I had a lot of “free time” it was all focused on my health and getting the house and yard where we want it. But, every time I felt that I had some things under control I’d get reminded that I was letting other things slip. D’oh!

The Current Schedule

I had a lot of calendar reminders setup to help me with everything I mentioned above that I didn’t end up actually doing, and eventually, I deleted all but a couple of those. It was just something else to dismiss when it popped up on my phone or watch.

In January, I had another lightbulb moment!

I realized that I’m the only one in charge of my time and why not focus towards things I want to focus on? Simple, but brilliant!

I get up before 6am each day, and get the kids up, their lunches packed and ready for school, that’s the same.

I have coffee and time to slowly sip it, while I watch deer in the backyard, or check out news, or new blog posts from PF peeps.

Cold day for hiking!

Then, I do one of a few things that are “for me” things. This can be going hiking, I’ve gotten into getting out there 2-3 days a week, playing music, painting, or woodworking.

Liberal Arts

Mrs. SSC and I are also taking an oil painting class, and man, I’m digging it. I’ve never painted with oil before, but it’s fun. Very Zen and relaxing and I can see continuing that after our class ends. Plus, I keep finding cool old oak trees while I’m hiking that I take pictures of and think, “Oh, that would be a cool painting, especially in spring when the leaves are just starting to come out…”

This will be fun to paint!
Looks dead but it isn’t yet. Can’t wait to see leaves on it.

Playing music hasn’t progressed as much as I’d have thought, but again, it’s just not as much a priority as I thought it would be. Things go in cycles, and it’s on an off cycle evidently. I do still play more than between Aug. – Dec. but not as much as I would’ve thought. Oh well.

Woodworking

I got my bay of the garage set up to where it’s a functioning shop now. I hung 2 new LED shop lights, a dust filter, and have it where it’s workable. I need to build a router table for my next project but have an old desktop I think I can repurpose well for that.

This was such a chore to do solo. 2’x3’x1′ thick and 60 lbs…

I’m currently finishing a banjo I began building from scratch ~7 yrs ago. I got it to the point of connecting the neck and pot and then our son was born and I let it fall by the wayside. I’m almost finished with it and hope to have it done by the weekend. So exciting!!

The dowel being fitted to the pot. It holds the neck on.
Drilling the hole for the dowel. Lining it up correctly is tricky.

I got the approval from Mrs. SSC to build a shoe cubby for our entry way, so that will be the next small project and my next big project is building a wood-strip canoe. Oh yeah! Starting from scratch again with that one! Of course, I need a planer now, but that’s kind of how these things go. I can use it when I build the stand-up paddle boards next. Yeah, I found plans for those and can build my own lighter and cheaper than commercial ones. Good stuff!

SAHD Life

I’m embracing the SAHD role more and more. I’ve gotten my own schedule for groceries, Mrs. SSC and I tag team the weekly menu some weeks, others I just do it, no big whoop. I’ve gotten into a better routine for kids’ laundry, cleaning, and you know, house hold stuff.

CASA training started last week and will go another 7 weeks, so that is coming to fruition.

Volunteering at school has been great! I’ve been doing at least 1 day a week at school as a WATCH Dog and it’s been awesome getting to see the kids there during the day. I cooked some chili for a cookoff that raised $140 for a classroom and I got 2nd place! I also called Bingo for the chili/bingo night. I have been volunteering enough there that I get told, “We were excited to see you were on the schedule, thanks so much for coming in!” So yeah, that’s been great.

Summary

While the transition to SAHD hasn’t gone as planned, life has been pretty good. It could’ve been better and definitely could’ve been worse, but no complaints overall. If you’re looking to make a transition to anything, just remember it will take time to “get it right”. What you think should be “right” might not end up being that at all. Just be flexible and go with it.

2018: The Year of the Lifestyle Change

What a year 2018 was for the SSC household. There was a LOT going on with the kids, the dogs, our house, and most importantly both of our jobs. At the beginning of the year we were designing a house to be built on our property at Canyon Lake and expecting to be in Houston for another 2 years. By the end of the year I wasn’t working and we were celebrating Christmas in our “new” house in Oklahoma. Wow! Just wow… Even for us, things seemed to come so unexpectedly the only thing that we knew to count on was that our plans would constantly be changing. Ultimately, it was the year we kicked off our dream of the Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC)!! There was a lot more detail than just that, so let’s get into the 2018 recap.

Moving Time

Early in 2018, Mrs. SSC landed a really sweet gig working at a well-respected University with a strong and established petroleum program. This forced us to move to Oklahoma and it wasn’t even on our radar for places to live. We found a great place out in the country with 2 untamed acres. On the plus side, we could shape it to be as wild or as manicured as we want because literally nothing had been done to the woods except let them grow wild.

Goodbye Green Wall of Doom!

The downside is that there is a TON of downed timber across that 2 acres, a lot of underbrush, and it isn’t anywhere I’d want the kids or myself wandering through in the summertime. I’ve been putting a big dent in clearing that brush, and I’ve cut down about 20+ trees already. I have marked so many more trees with flagging tape that I ran out of 200’ of tape. Yipe!

Selling Property Sucks

Our Houston house went on the market in mid-March and we figured it would be slow until summertime, but expected to be able to sell it over the summer. It went 90 days without a showing, in part I believe to the “okay but not great” photos that were taken. Pro-tip – interview multiple realtors prior to picking one. Ours was Mrs. SSC’s trainer and was convenient, but I feel like we could’ve found a better realtor and saved ourselves a LOT of $$ and anxiety. Mid-summer we got an offer and man were those buyers nit-picky. They argued over every single dime wanting us to put up more and more money. After a month of negotiations on post-inspection fixes, we found out these jack-wads weren’t even approved for a loan! How does that happen!? Well, they barely squeaked by for a pre-approval with a high 500’s credit score. Fast-forward 5 months and who has been missing car payments and racking up MORE debt? Those guys. Needless to say, their credit score had dropped to low 500’s and they couldn’t get approved for the loan. Thanks for keeping our house off the market the last month and a half of summer and being jackasses about EVERY single item… Ugh…

Buyer #2

The next buyers wanted our property, but didn’t want to make an offer until their house sold. However, they wanted us to take it off the market and hold it for them. Can you hear me laughing? That was rejected, and the house stayed on the market. Another buyer put in an offer and had the inspection done, then pulled their offer 3 days later. Their main concern was having to replace the water pipes due to the amount of rust coming out of them. We were puzzled and then remembered we’d replaced the main shutoff and the plumber told us to run the water to flush any rust/sediment/etc… that had gotten knocked loose and that it may look dirty until it gets flushed. We asked our realtor to do that and he had done it, according to him. Those pictures of the bathtub with rusty looking water said otherwise… Ugh…

Third Time’s a Charm

FINALLY, we got another interested couple, they made an offer, were easy to negotiate a price with, and we were under contract. We waited for the inspection and heard nothing. Literally nothing. We contacted our realtor and he said that they’d gotten the inspection and didn’t have any follow-up requests for us to fix. Yay!! While we technically closed in 2019, we did finally close on that house and that 2018 contract went thru. Yippee!

Leaving My Job

Me leaving work was a little tricky due to the fact that I had to prep the house for sale, keep it under wraps, AND spend time driving up to Oklahoma for house hunting, home inspection, and closing. It was easy enough to tell work that I’m “taking time off” but everyone was convinced I was interviewing at other companies. That was just fine with me, because what do I care what they think? I’m leaving in 3 months.

 

One Friday, I was at my desk and get a call from my boss to come to our bosses office. I get nervous and then think, wait, why am I nervous? I didn’t do anything wrong. Then I got excited thinking I might be getting laid off and could get a severance package. Buoyed by that prospect I went in, sat down and was told I was being promoted to my bosses position but for our Texas-Delaware Assets. Hooray… Ultimately, I declined that offer, and you can read more about it here. Since my upper managers now knew I was leaving in August, I wasn’t getting any more additional work or put on other special teams. Double yay!!

When the time got nearer for me to leave my boss proposed a 3 month remote work assignment to help with reserves. It got approved and ultimately we had 3 more months of pay, health insurance, and a little extra $$ we hadn’t counted on to help with the “new” house projects. It turned out to be a mixed bag that you can read more details about here, but ultimately it worked out well for everyone.

Money Pit

The new house is the last big topic of 2018. When we moved in we knew it needed some cleaning and maintenance as it looked like it hadn’t been maintained in the 16 years it has been around. We got the ducts cleaned, I vacuumed the walls, and I dusted and cleaned every other surface and Mrs. SSC was still having troubles with allergies and breathing. The previous owners had a cat, so I suggested that we replace the carpet sooner than later. We did that and her breathing got immediately better. Hooray!!

The house temp wouldn’t get cooler than 83/84 F on days when the outside temp was over 93. We had an AC inspection and it was working correctly and pumping out cool air, but that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that it was a 3 ton unit and this house needed a larger unit than that to be effective… I shopped around 4 different contractors and found a great deal on a higher efficiency unit than we previously had, and after it was installed problem solved.

I also noticed that the upstairs bonus room was a heat/cool sink for the house. Everywhere else appeared to have adequate depth blown-in insulation but the walls for this rom were only 4” thick. I wanted to get some more insulation and add it to them along with some other spots I’d noticed that had thin blown in insulation (4” or less). On Black Friday, Lowe’s had 30% off their insulation. Score!! I bought 24 batts (11 pieces in each batt) of R-30 insulation for ~$1k discounted, installed it myself, and have seen some great results. Plus, now I can keep the heat off in the bonus room. On the coldest nights it gets down to 58 but mostly stays between 60-64 without any heat on. Double Score!!

Summary

That’s the very long recap of our year. I’m sure I may have missed some things, but those were the biggest ones for us. So far, we’re loving the town, country living, the kids school, and our neighbors. While this state wasn’t even in the running for places to consider living in, we are really liking it. There’s more topography than we expected, especially in our home area. The people are super friendly and it feels like it has a great sense of community about it. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for 2019! Be on the lookout for a “new” home spending post. There’s way too much to put into this one, and it is ridiculous…

Hope your 2018 went as great for you as it did for us.

It’s Official, I’m Unemployed!

A LOT has changed since my last post. First of all, I’m unemployed for the first time since I was 16 yrs old! Woohoo! Stay At Home Dad (SAHD) Lifestyle Change is now officially in full swing. Yeah!! As for the rest of what’s been going on, my last post was in early September, so there’s a lot to unpack and sort through since then.

I left this as my out of office reply…

My biggest success since we last left was getting my mental health squared away better than it has been in decades. Literally, decades. Here’s a very brief back story. When I was in 6th grade one of my good friends was tragically killed when he hit a powerline while climbing a tree. I felt responsible and went into a fairly heavy depression. It lasted the better part of a year before my parents sought help. The child psychologist recommended me to in-patient treatment if I “didn’t snap out of it soon”. After overhearing that, I started putting on the happy face and pretending everything was fine. I’ve been doing that ever since and have just been going around being whomever I’m supposed to be that day. While I’ve gotten really good at it, I’ve never gotten rid of that inner voice of shame, guilt, negativity, depression, etc… It’s just followed me around like a little devil on my shoulder trying to convince me of all sorts of bananas shit and not let me enjoy my successes. Hell, it hasn’t let me “just be” in over 29 years.

Until these past few months that is. I got proactive and started going to a depression group here in OK, pretty much since we’ve been here. I also went to see a psychiatrist to figure out what’s wrong, because clearly, I’m not fixing it on my own. With the help of my shrink and my group, I’ve had no negative self talk, depressive voice, or any of that the last few months. It’s been freaking amazing!! Why the hell I waited so long to do this, I have no idea. If any of you are struggling with depression or any mental health issue and feel like you’re stuck and can’t figure it out on your own, take that next step. I’d done therapy (talking) for 4 years in LA and it helped with a lot, but not that. If you’re struggling, try kicking it up a notch and seek different help, or any help. It has made a HUGE difference in my life. HUGE.

So Much Free Time?

My remote contract ended on the 2nd, and I was officially “free” from work. To be fair, I hadn’t done any “work” in the last month and a half. I’d made 2 trips to Houston which were all but worthless from a business standpoint. I literally flew to town to sit in a conference room and watch my team present for 30 min and I didn’t say anything, offer anything, nothing.

A lot of this the last month of “work”…

Then 3 weeks later, I flew back for an all day meeting to watch my team present 1 geology slide in a 9 slide, 10 minute long presentation. Yep. Living the dream, baby!

With all that free time, what have I been doing? Well, trying to get a volunteer gig for most of it. The Watch DOGS (Dads of Great Students) group at my kids school took applications on family night, the day before school started. Then wouldn’t submit those applications until after their WatchDOGS BBQ late September, and I still haven’t heard anything other than – here’s a link to where you can buy shirts when you’re approved. Maybe it’ll happen before Christmas, who knows… I also submitted an application at CASA and they are meeting with me Nov 16, so we’ll see how that goes.

Amazingly, even with no actual commitments, it’s super easy to see my free time frittered away every day and think, “Holy crap?! It’s 3:20 pm already?!” I’ve done very little music practicing, even less exercise, and not much outdoor anything to be honest. I’ve just been enjoying the fall and getting to wear long sleeve t-shirts and jeans again. Woohoo!! Fall!!!

Set a Schedule?

Beyond that, I’ve been trying to get on a more productive schedule. Mrs. SSC came up with a nice schedule for weekly and monthly cleaning, and I need to get on to better meal planning and having dinner ready at nights. I haven’t adapted to that part of the SAHD lifestyle yet. I’m getting there, but it’s a lot. I did go into gmail and set up some blocked-out times mostly for exercise, playing music, and cleaning. I need to add in writing as I feel like there is loads of blog fodder around me most days/weeks and I just haven’t given a f$*& lately, to be honest. Hell, I didn’t even get out a “Here’s how Fincon 18 Went Down!!” post.

That’s okay, because I’m not being critical of what I didn’t do, I’m just being happy that I’m here now, writing. Yeah, writing! And exercising, and getting into doing what I need to do, not what I should have been doing. You can’t change that anyway, so why beat yourself up over it?

Finally, I spent some of that time revamping the blog! Yeah, a new layout, fresh new look, and hopefully cleaner interface for all of you that are gracious enough to stop by and peruse the blog posts. Thanks for your support and reading. I’m working on being more consistent with writing once again and like I said, there is loads of blog fodder around here.

Fincon 18 Quick-Take

Fincon 18 was pretty awesome! Good setting, if you knew how to play Frogger, great weather for running (if you were used to the Gulf Coast weather), and a great group of attendees this year. I loved getting the soul recharge of seeing old friends that you only run into online. Just as awesome is the new friends you get to make and get to know. There were so many of those it was almost like this was my first Fincon all over again. I was deep in depression that whole week, and it took a lot to get out of my room, but once I did, man, it was an amazing 12 hrs+ of talking each day. The parties were good, but the people are what made it epic. Thanks to everyone that made it a great Fincon for me and I hoped I added as much to your experience as all of you did to mine.

Faces clipped to protect the “innocent”
Summary

Look for more posts soon on finding my ikigai, adapting to our new budget, still cleaning up the yard (now that it’s cooler, that’s started up again), DIY vs contractors, me finding paid work (whaaaa??!!!) and more. Just kidding, I’m not looking for paid work, just seeing if you’re paying attention.
Anything big going on in your life lately? New changes ahead or just happened? Let me know!

My Dad’s Suicide: 10 Years Later

I’m reposting an edited version of this because I noticed I missed World Suicide Prevention Day yesterday. I was dealing with my own depression and finding someone to talk to. I’ve dealt with depression and anxiety a lot over the years and there have been times that I’ve had suicidal thoughts and ideations. It gets overwhelming. It’s physically, emotionally, and mentally draining and is very hard to convince yourself to reach out when you’re at that point.

If you are feeling depressed and want someone to talk to, reach out to someone close to you and be honest, be open. If you don’t have anyone to reach out to, then call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If talking isn’t your thing, they have an online chat. If that doesn’t work you can reach me on twitter @coffeesippers. DM me and I will send you my # and we can talk, I can listen, whatever you need. Remember, once you’re gone, there’s no coming back.

My dad committed suicide 10 yrs ago this past July and the sadness never really goes away. Yeah, I’ve “dealt with it”, and those emotions are settled, mostly, not really, who knows? Ten years on and at times it sure as shit still feels like it just happened yesterday. This isn’t really about typical suicide prevention, because I don’t know how to stop it. I’m not a professional therapist and I feel like telling someone to “talk about it” is akin to telling an alcoholic to “just stop drinking…” It’s just not that easy. Not when you’re at that place in your head.

This is how I felt after I found out that my dad committed suicide.

Disclaimer, there’s no PF spin or $ talk today, so feel free to delete and move on if you’re not interested, my feelings won’t be hurt a bit.

AC Replacement: Shopping Around Saves Money

This past week I have had 3 different Heating and Air Conditioning companies at the house explaining to me what is wrong with our AC system and what it would take to correct it or replace it. That’s right, only 6 weeks in and the whole AC/Furnace unit needs major servicing and/or replacement. Thank goodness for the home warranty! Oh wait, it isn’t broken. It was just installed improperly and is undersized for our house. This explains why it can’t keep the house cooler than 83 F when the temperature gets above 94 F outside and why the unit keeps running and running and running. However, since our system isn’t broken (it’s just undersized) according to the home warranty, we’re good!

What a pisser…

Escaping Limbo: Why My Remote Work Sucks

When I made the decision to leave my job, I felt like I wouldn’t be a good PF blogger if I didn’t monetize my departure somehow. Just plain old quitting is for suckers! Financial Samurai espouses, “Negotiate your severance” and for $85 I’ll tell you how! I had multiple people tell me similar things, “you should ask for a remote work assignment, so and so just got one!” “You should ask for severance, you never know if you don’t ask…” Company policy is that I have too few years to be entitled to anything. No severance, no partial bonus next cycle for this year, no LTI payouts (long term incentive – the stocks), nothing. I’d already looked it up. If I went to negotiate a severance, what leverage did I have?

To be honest, I didn’t give a shit. I was already leaving over $150k of stock incentives on the table, we already have “enough” money, and personally, I didn’t want to be immediately tied to a computer when I left. However, to be a “good” PF blogger, I split Sam’s book with a colleague that was also wanting a change and we wanted to see if it could help. I started reading it and I couldn’t get past Chapter 4. I just didn’t give a shit. My family was moving, I wasn’t going to “not move” just to stick around trying to monetize my departure by making my company decide between firing me or continuing to pay an unproductive employee… That seemed shadier than just ghosting work, plus, that’s just not my style. I kept asking myself, what’s the point of acting poorly towards them just to get more money, when we already have enough money?

And then it happened… My boss came to me asking about working remotely for a month to “ease the transition.” I said, “Sure. Maybe for a month, but 2 at max.” When it was all said and done, I signed a contract for 3 months of remote work. A month in, it feels like the longest, most drawn out, tediously earned severance package ever. Here’s why I wish I hadn’t agreed to this dumb shit assignment…

Moving to The Country

While a lot of things have changed for the SSC family in the last few months, there are some things that haven’t. We are starting to get our new schedule established, and responsibilities are getting divvied up accordingly. A new plan of attack is being worked up for this Lifestyle so we can make sure we don’t screw things up budget wise. For those that haven’t followed along much on Twitter, here’s a final update before I get down to brass tacks next week discussing all new meaty PF stuff like these topics. “What the F is the budget going to look like? Where is my sense of purpose going to come from when I quit my remote work assignment at the end of October? What is our new plan? We were successful building, working towards and implementing our Lifestyle Change, but now what?! Life moves on and we can’t just sit around watching it go by, so what are we going to start planning for next?” Stay tuned for all these discussions and more! Until then, here’s a final update on where we are.

Real Estate Negotiations Suck…

It’s been a long time since the last post huh?! Don’t worry I’ll be back to regular posting next week catching you up on all the good things that have been going on around our household, but in the meantime enjoy this update about our current real estate transaction. We’re in the midst of negotiations with our Houston house and what a cluster… I’ve gotten worked up over this for all of about 18 hours yesterday before I “let it go”.

You’re welcome if this song gets stuck in your head.

Here’s a quick backstory.

The house didn’t get 1 showing the first 3 months. Lot of competition with new construction, and decent, but not amazing photos didn’t help. Then we got a few showings but it was still slow. When we moved our stuff out 3 weeks ago, we took new pictures and they came out great. We got about 10-12 showings after that and ended up with an offer. We began negotiating a price, then they read the disclosure and saw we treated the house for termites after they got into our front room (formal dining room). This is where the fun began!