Harnessing the Power of Comparison: Guest Post at Slowly Sipping Coffee!

By on November 14, 2017

Good morning! This week, we’re honored to be guest posting at Slowly Sipping Coffee! This is one of our must-read FIRE blogs and one of the very first we found when we started our journey towards financial independence. 

Today’s post is all about harnessing the positive aspects of comparison. We all hear so much about how comparison robs you of your joy and keeps you from appreciating your life. But today I wanted to explore some of the great things comparison can do for us when changing defaults. 

Click below to read more, and be sure to follow SSC so you don’t miss a post!

 

Guest Post: “Harnessing the Power of Comparison” from Changing Our Default


Career Identity and Uncertain Next Steps

By on July 10, 2017

This whole past year of being primarily a stay-at-home mom has provoked a great deal of introspection regarding my career identity. Who am I, apart from my identity as a teacher? It was such an integral part of my being for so long, I almost don’t know how to view myself apart from that identity. 

Surprising, how much of what I think about myself revolves around what I do. It’s a development I hadn’t anticipated when I walked away from teaching. Blinded by the thrill of quitting, of leaving a career I only halfheartedly cared about, I hadn’t realized how much of my identity I derived from that label: teacher.  (more…)

I’m Back…

By on June 26, 2017

So to say the least, it has been awhile. In the last year I have taught my first graduate class, or any class, since I taught ELL classes in South Korea in 2004. It was part side hustle and part “Am I ready to move to a new career?”.  I really enjoyed teaching the career class to future counselors so much that I decided to explore teaching full time at counselor education programs.

For those who don’t know, counselor education programs are graduate programs which train counselors for mental health, higher education, or school counseling positions. I limited my search to certain locations that met living criteria for my family: location, size of community, not too far from family, etc. Fast forward October to June: 12 applications, 6 phone interviews, and 2 on-campus interviews….say hello to a new job at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, Kentucky. I really took the changing our default to heart and decided to uproot my entire family.

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House Hunting in Kentucky

By on May 26, 2017

Oh, you guys! I am woefully behind in blogging these days, so I apologize (to myself as much as to you). Life has been a whirlwind of change, leaving little time or energy for writing, unfortunately. However, things are going swimmingly, so I cannot complain one little bit! 

Today, I thought I’d jump back into the blog with the story of our house hunting and buying in our new town. Everything is happening incredibly fast, but we also have been talking and dreaming about this move for years, so in a way, it’s been a long time coming. 

Mr. COD interviewed at Eastern Kentucky University on March 28-29th. He was offered the position (unofficially) on April 7, then officially on April 10. The following weekend was Easter, and at first we thought it would be too soon to think about housing. However, as we drove to visit some friends on that Friday, the more we talked, the more we realized we didn’t want to wait. Hence, on Easter Sunday, we loaded the kids into our van and drove south! 

COD HOUSE WISH LIST

  • At least two bathrooms. Our current home has just one, and it’s adequate most of the time, but anytime we have company, things become a little stressful. You just don’t want to have any issues when there’s only one bathroom, so a backup is desirable.
  • A more spacious house. We’re tired of every room in the house feeling too small. We don’t care about filling up every room with beautiful furniture or tons of stuff; we simply want room to breathe and not be tripping over each other all the time. Plus, since we’re moving further from all of our family, it’s important to us that we have ample room for guests to stay comfortably. We’d hate for our parents or siblings to feel they have to pay for a hotel room every time they visit.
  • Great outdoor space. With two small boys, our dream is for them to have plenty of adventures in our own back yard! Plus, we’re now extremely close to neighbors on all sides, and while those neighbors are fortunately wonderful, we’re ready for a lot more room between our house and any others.
  • Proximity to the university and the rest of town. Mr. COD’s drive to work is currently about thirty minutes, and while that’s not terrible, a shorter commute sounds great. Less driving time means more time for doing anything else! Working out, house and lawn chores, fun with the family are all better options than driving to work.  Plus, it saves moolah on gasoline!
  • Move-in ready, with some willingness to do small cosmetic changes over time. We’re not opposed to some DIY improvements such as painting and eventual appliance upgrades, but major foundational and structural issues were what we wanted to avoid. 

Mr. COD emailed a realtor for more information and managed to arrange for house showings on Monday, April 17. We’d already started browsing homes on Zillow and other sites and had a pretty good idea of what we wanted. 

Our appointment with the realtor wasn’t until afternoon, but being impatient, we just had to drive around in the morning and take a peek at a couple of houses we liked online. One of them was a stately old place in a beautiful neighborhood. Quiet, little traffic, yet just minutes from downtown. The yard sloped to give a beautiful view of nearby farms. 

We also took a gander at a home further out away from town. It was on a wooded lot and boasted a lovely screened-in porch in the backyard. Our first impressions were that it was pretty, but a bit too removed from town and neighbors, and we would prefer a place like the other one, where meeting people and plugging into community would be fairly easy. 

Our realtor turned out to be incredibly helpful and friendly, and we just loved working with her. After viewing half a dozen homes that Monday, we were 90% sure of which home we wanted. The in-town home we had originally liked best was a big fat NO after seeing the inside! It was a foreclosure, which didn’t necessarily rule it out for us, but it had extensive water damage, and the rooms were overall too small. Too much work to get it up to our standards! 

Anyway, we returned to our Red Roof Inn that evening worn out and fairly certain we wanted the country house. Though it was not perfect, it filled all of our must-have criteria. Plus, seeing the weird layout and required fixes at the foreclosure made it easy to focus back on the country house. 

It was during our dinner that night (we picked up pizza from the top-rated pizza joint in the area) that our realtor called to inform us that our #1 choice had just gotten an offer. WHAT?! Of course, that would be our luck. The house had been on the market for three months at that point, but the day we came to see it, somebody finally made an offer. 

We told our realtor we were close to making an offer and asked her to do what she could. She got the owners to wait and give us 24 hours before accepting the first offer. (We hadn’t even met with a bank to get financing set up, and planned to do that the next morning.) We spent the rest of that night anxious and worrying that we would lose the house. Meanwhile, Super Realtor was arranging additional showings for the next morning, before the bank meeting. We tried to remember that this one house was not the ONLY house we might ever like. 

TUESDAY

We looked at five or six more homes that morning. The boys, again, were troopers, amazing us with their patience in driving around, walking through houses, over and over. Nothing stood out this time, except for an incredible property further out in the country. It was beautiful and the surroundings were beautiful, but it also seemed to possess some risky structural flaws and damages. Plus, it was already out of our comfortable price range, so adding unknown repair costs was unappealing. 

Mr. COD had to meet with the banker, where he remembered he had frozen his credit (a recommendation by Clark Howard for security), so un-freezing it took a few extra minutes. I took the kids to a playground to burn off some energy, and we picked Mr. COD up after his meeting. Financing was in place! 

Next, we still had a couple more houses to see, sort of to make us really sure we wanted to put in an offer on the first country house. One was completely turnkey, with redone kitchen and bath and everything very nice, except for the loud highway noise audible from the backyard. Another had a funky layout and wasn’t a terrible house, but the location was awful. Right on a busy corner, with nearly zero yard space. It was after seeing this house that we were certain of our choice: the first country house (the first one we drove past before the realtor even got us in). 

Super Realtor went to her office to draw up the offer as we waited in our hotel room and put cartoons on for the boys. We agreed to go in at full asking price because we figured the other offer must have been low for them to wait on our offer at all. She called us around 3 PM to go to her office and sign everything. (Yikes! We were cutting it so close to get done by 5!) 

Fortunately, signing all of the offer papers was really easy. We didn’t even sign paper copies, just did it all digitally and quickly. We were armed against misbehaving children with a purse stocked with M’n’Ms and Mr. COD’s phone with downloaded movies. The boys didn’t go too wild in the office, but when they got antsy, we pulled out Angry Birds on the phone so we could finalize all the paperwork.  Everything was submitted by about 4 PM, just in time, so we breathed sighs of relief and waited. 

Junior and Mini COD watching Angry Birds in the realtor’s office

As another thank-you to the boys for putting up with all the house hunting shenanigans, we got them ice cream and cones to eat in our room. It wasn’t long before Super Realtor called back with the good news that we GOT THE HOUSE! 
I could hardly believe it. What a crazy couple of days! Just eight days after accepting a new job, we bought a new house! 

Little helpers

Now, of course, we still need to sell our current home…it’s been on the market about a week and is getting quite a few showings. Let’s hope we can celebrate its sale very soon as well. Fortunately, we have funds available and therefore aren’t relying on the house sale to purchase the new one. If we were, we’d be stuck renting a smaller place for awhile.

We should close on our new place in one week! It’s all moving so quickly, and we are super excited! 

Our future home’s screened-in porch and wooded view


A New Job For Mr. COD!

By on April 25, 2017

A new job! Yep, IT’S HAPPENING! Mr. COD has accepted a university teaching job! He’ll be joining the counselor education department of the grad school. The CODs are headin’ south, baby!  (more…)


Job Hunting and Waiting

By on March 23, 2017

Job hunting is a huge hassle, amiright? It requires so much time and energy to research the right job openings, learn about the companies hiring, fill out applications, track down references, and participate in interviews. Plus, you’re typically doing all of this on top of your current job duties, attempting not to slack off there. I’m personally pretty happy not to be job hunting for traditional 9-5 jobs right now, but Mr. COD is in the thick of the hiring season for the 17-18 academic year. Right now, it’s largely a waiting game. 

Raise your hand if you love waiting! 

Nope, me neither. Patience isn’t a fun trait to cultivate. The only way to learn it is by waiting more. 

Job Hunting Process

As you guys knows, Mr. COD applied for some positions last fall and continues to send more in as more schools post openings. As his field is somewhat specialized and the programs he’s qualified to teach aren’t offered at every college or university, we know we might not be able to pick our dream locale for this first teaching position. The primary goal at this point: get Mr. COD out of school counseling and into teaching within a counseling master’s program. Our hope is that he’ll get an offer from one of these schools, work there for three years or so, and then have more experience with which to snag a job back in southern Wisconsin, closer to family. 

Job hunting has led to several (maybe 4 or 5?) phone/Skype interviews so far, and Mr. COD has done one in-person, on-campus interview. One more is to come in another week or so. (Yay! That in itself is a success.) The two campus interviews are at schools he feels pretty confident he’ll like, and both towns have some great benefits that are important to us, like parks and natural outdoor beauty. 

We understand the possibility exists that Mr. COD won’t receive an offer of employment with either of these two second-interview schools. It’ll be disappointing if that happens. We’re definitely at the point where, if he does get an offer, he’ll take it. (Of course, should he receive offers from multiple schools, we’ll have a decision to make.) 

It’s a little scary to be this close to making such a huge change in our lives. I mean, we’ve been talking about this move for as long as we’ve known each other. It’s been almost nine years of waiting and saying, “maybe in another two years”. Now we’re so close to taking this big step! It’s not quite as big as taking the step into early retirement, but it has a lot of the same earmarks (leaving the status quo, changing schedules, etc.).

This teaching at university or graduate level, for Mr. COD, has been a longtime goal of his. He’s worked for it. He’s given up leisure time for it. He’s furthered his education for it. He’s done a lot of stuff he didn’t really have to do, all in service of stepping out of his reliable-but-somewhat-boring job. He’s ready for a challenge, ready for change. That’s why he’s doing all of the fun job hunting work!

If and when we do this, it’ll be a pretty major change for our family. If he takes either of the two options that appear most likely at this point, we’ll be moving in a matter of months. Leaving the area that’s been home to me for nearly 15 years. For him, it’s been nearly ten years. Pretty significant lengths of time, if you ask me. 

Proximity to Family

The proximity to our families is still a high priority for us. The main reason we want to move to Wisconsin is to be closer to Mr. COD’s family (and not much farther from mine). Unfortunately, no job openings have appeared for that area. Either direction we move, we’ll be farther from a lot of family. No one will be drop-by-for-Thursday-night-dinner kind of close, so I guess at least we’re used to that. It’s just a bummer that all of our parents and siblings are so spread out. 

We’re hoping to convince our most-flexible sibling and family to follow us wherever we go. (Come on, Jimmy and Teresa!) Selfish? Ha, perhaps. But if they could also find work near our new home, that’d make it that much more like home for us. 

Hassles On Our Minds

-House (selling or renting ours out). So many little things need to be fixed! Plus, we’ve never been landlords…)

-Pets (3 cats, which is way too many to bring with us. Yes, this sounds terrible, but it may be a necessity to decrease our cat total if we end up renting an apartment.)

-Preschool. Junior COD should be in one next year (he’ll be four by then). A lot of our friends have recently registered their kids the same age for the fall, but of course we can’t do that without knowing our location. 

Positive/Easy Stuff 

-Well, one perk of my SAHM gig is that it makes things much simpler with only Mr. COD looking for a traditional job. I am not planning on working next year yet. I could do it if needed, but since we may be waiting for quite some time before we know what his job status will be, it’s nice not needing to look for a job in an as-yet-unknown location. I’ll just be pluggin’ away in the freelance world!

-Another benefit of my not working: I’m free to travel with Mr COD on interview trips. Scouting out the areas where we may live is important to do as a family. Gone are the days of worrying about taking too many personal days from work. No more planning for substitute teachers, either (oh, lord, what a pain)!

-Both potential new locations seem to have a fairly low cost of living and lower property taxes. That’ll help a lot with our transition. 

-Both new places would save us a bundle on our health insurance. Yay! Insurance…just one of the myriad ways that Illinois…well…sucks. The new job will be a pay decrease from Mr. COD’s current salary, but the insurance savings alone pretty much even it all out. (Yeah, insurance costs are ridiculous here. This is when we don’t even go to the doctor, except for our kids’ wellness checkups. Good grief!)

 We are so nervous about this potential move, believe me! But it just feels like it’s time. Time for a significant change in our work and our lives. We’ve already put in a year of my default change to stay home with munchkins. Now it’s Mr. COD’s turn! It’s pretty darn exciting!

What big moments in life are you waiting for? Are there any fun waiting disappointments or success stories you’d like to share? 


Feeling Stuck

By on March 21, 2017

I’ve been feeling stuck in a bit of a rut lately, so I haven’t posted in awhile. Hello there! I think this is the longest absence I’ve taken from posting on this blog since we began about a year ago. Lots of other blogs I read have recently celebrated their one- or two-year blogiversary, so we’re in good company! (I am nowhere near the prodigious amount of writing of Picky Pinchers or Our Next Life, but we all need someone to inspire us, right? Check out the stats on how many posts they’ve published in their blogging lives! It’s insane!)  (more…)


Let The Freelance Journey Begin!

By on January 4, 2017

I’ve been away from my teaching job now for one summer and one semester! The fresh new year is cause for contemplation, so I’m thinking about regrets, joys, mistakes and successes. It’s been an interesting time so far, this sabbatical of sorts to be with my kiddos. Junior and Mini COD are our greatest blessings in this life. Sweet, exhausting, fun, frustrating…  (more…)