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Would You Give Up… To Gain Back 10-15 Hours a Week?

Would You Give Up… To Gain Back 10-15 Hours a Week?

coastal maine

We all want more time to enjoy life, but are you willing to give up something to get time back?  I am going to just jump into some examples.

I will use the mean income per family in Maine as an example for hours / pay.  The mean income in the state of Maine for a family is $48,000 / year, which breaks down to about $23/hour.  Of course this means for a family, so one person could be making $10 and the other $13 / hour.

Taxes tend to be around 35%, so I will that number in other calculations to assist in helping with pay and time.   Different countries and states will have different numbers.  Using 35% that makes the mean hourly income in Maine at $15/hour.

If you work 40 hours / week and you subtract 15 vacation days and 8 holidays, we work approximately 1,896.  If you work longer hours, go ahead and put those into your numbers, especially if you are salary and do not get paid extra for anything over 40 hours.

Phew, a lot of numbers!  Numbers do not lie though, which is why they are great to use as long as you look at the whole of the results.

Car Expenses:  350 Hours per year for one car.

Average car payments for a family.  The Experian study from 2015 had data that the average car payment was $437.  This number was for a used vehicle, new was even higher.

New cars also have higher taxes, registration fees, which you need to take into account, but I won’t even consider these.

Now since we do still need a car, it is unfair to take the full amount out for not having a car payment.  Even used cars require maintenance and you should be saving enough aside to get a $3,000 – $5,000 car every so often.

Used car ownership tends to run about $1,000 annually with less money at the start and usually a little more near the end.

Annual cost for one car = $5,244 (make sure you add registration and taxes)
$5,244 / $15 = 350 hours

Paid for car = $1,000 (which includes fixes and saving for another)
$1,000 / $15 = 67 hours

Corrected time saved = 283 hours

Cell Phone Expenses:  112 Hours per year.

The cell phones have an average cost of $70/month for a single person and up to $200/month for a small family.  JD Power had survey results where 13% of families pay over $200.  For this, I will use $140/month as an example to keep it simple.

Annual cost for phones = $1,680 (modify for your phone bill)
$1,680 / $15 = 112 hours

Trak phones only cost about $100 for a full year, so it only subtracts a couple hours from our numbers.

Credit Card Expenses:  320 Hours per year.

The average household has $15,762 in credit card debt.  That equates to over $315/month on average just to pay the interest on the cards.  Let’s say we want to at least make progress on our payments, so I will use $400/month.

Annual cost for credit cards = $4,800 (modify if your payments are higher/lower for your calculations)
$4,800 / $15 = 320 hours per year.

I have not even gotten into buying  a smaller home yet and we are already up to 782 hours!  If you cut out just these simple things you can give yourself 20 weeks of vacation a year on top of what you already have!

Some other areas where you can save:

  • Eating out
  • Daily coffee
  • Mortgage
  • Additional toys (boats, ATVs, etc…)
  • Cable television subscription

When you see people living minimalist lives, this is exactly why they do it.  When you see people buying homes that were average size for a family in the 1950s, you see why they do it.  Mortgage on a small 900 square foot home is a lot less than for 2,000+ and you can use the same formulas I used above for that data.

Do you really need these things?  What is more important your time or things?  Feel like working part-time or even retiring early?

Have an amazing day!


The Businessman and the Fisherman Story


The Businessman and the Fisherman Story is Perfect

I read the story below again today and had to share it.  The story is an eye opener and one that my wife and I very much take to heart.

What if someone told you that if you gave up cell phones with data plans, new cars, big homes, credit cards, and other forms of debt you would be able to enjoy life like someone who is retired before you were of retirement age?

About a year ago, I left a great corporate job to start working for myself.  Now both my wife and I work for ourselves and we make plenty for everything we need or want.  We had to become debt free before we could make that leap, but we put in the effort and now it is paying off big for us.

At just over 40 I am able to work just enough to make money to still put away for our eventual retirement, but also to enjoy our lives.  This includes sleeping in and having coffee with my wife, going for walks in the middle of the day.  Sometimes we call it a day if we do not have work due to one of our clients that day.  There are days were we still put in 8-10 hours for our clients, but there are also days we do not turn on the computer.

We joke that we are semi-retired.  It was not easy at first giving up all the toys and luxuries we got used to.  As we stopped buying things we found how amazing freedom was.

Kellie Chasse Painting

Artist Kellie Chasse painting www.kelliechassefineart.com

We have freedom and we have enough, because we are not addicted to consumerism.  Please enjoy the story and also think about what you really want out of life.  Is it stuff or is it the freedom to enjoy the days we are blessed with doing what makes us happy?


One day a fisherman was lying on a beautiful beach, with his fishing pole propped up in the sand and his solitary line cast out into the sparkling blue surf. He was enjoying the warmth of the afternoon sun and the prospect of catching a fish.

About that time, a businessman came walking down the beach trying to relieve some of the stress of his workday. He noticed the fisherman sitting on the beach and decided to find out why this fisherman was fishing instead of working harder to make a living for himself and his family. “You aren’t going to catch many fish that way,” said the businessman. “You should be working rather than lying on the beach!”

The fisherman looked up at the businessman, smiled and replied, “And what will my reward be?”

“Well, you can get bigger nets and catch more fish!” was the businessman’s answer.

“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman, still smiling.

The businessman replied, “You will make money and you’ll be able to buy a boat, which will then result in larger catches of fish!”

“And then what will my reward be?” asked the fisherman again.

The businessman was beginning to get a little irritated with the fisherman’s questions. “You can buy a bigger boat, and hire some people to work for you!” he said.

“And then what will my reward be?” repeated the fisherman.

The businessman was getting angry. “Don’t you understand? You can build up a fleet of fishing boats, sail all over the world, and let all your employees catch fish for you!”

Once again the fisherman asked, “And then what will my reward be?”

The businessman was red with rage and shouted at the fisherman, “Don’t you understand that you can become so rich that you will never have to work for your living again! You can spend all the rest of your days sitting on this beach, looking at the sunset. You won’t have a care in the world!”

The fisherman, still smiling, looked up and said, “And what do you think I’m doing right now?”

Story Credit: Heinrich Boll


Remember what is important: life, friends, family, and time.  All have immeasurable value, but do not cost a penny.  The “things” we purchase take from each of these, which means we should chose wisely.

Break free of your cage and have a wonderful day!


Reduce Your Political Exposure = Peace

Reducing your political exposure can mean inner peace.

The American political engine is in full force this time of year and it will only be getting worse as the weeks pass.  This post will not be about any candidate or the future of the United States.

I want to write about us, the regular people who have jobs, raise our families, pay our taxes and enjoy our lives.

Keep in mind politics account for maybe 5-10% of our overall happiness.  The issue with stress happens when we focus on the one main issue that bothers us such as someone’s stance on a particular issue.

2016 Presidential Candidates

The issues are absolutely important and as a U.S. Navy veteran, I want every citizen of any country to participate in their local and national elections.  It is an honor and a privilege to be able to elect our representatives and not every country has this opportunity.

If you have been on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram lately you may have seen some of the memes floating around and even some pretty tough political banter about every candidate.

Rule #1 – Do not participate in the arguments to maintain your sanity.

One thing to keep in mind is that most “Democrats” and “Republicans” will never change their minds no matter what evidence or data you put in front of them.  This means do not try and sway people’s beliefs if you see these signs.  They have a “team” mentality not a “best candidate” mentality.  You cannot and will not win them over, just move on.

A conversation can start out with two people who are discussing candidates and their strengths / weaknesses, but the open forum allows for the extremes on both ends to jump into the conversation and soon it gets ugly.

These conversations are only productive when all parties are open and bring in good data points for discussion / debate.

Rule #2 – Look up data on voting records and actual accomplishments

If you want to see how our elected leaders have voted on the issues, just visit the government site that tracks all the votes.

Here is a link where you can see who sponsored bills, the votes and contact information on the people who serve us.

Use this information to validate data you may see online or in the news.  Remember most sources of information (even the news) probably have an agenda or personal opinion and will not be as forthcoming as the real data.  The sites above also have contact information.

Remember, our elected officials are paid to work for us and part of their responsibility is to answer your questions as well as represent you.  If you have a question or need clarification, just ask.  Some of the senators and congressmen

Rule #3 – The most important rule – You own your own happiness.

We have more control over our happiness than any candidate does.  Getting out of debt or becoming recession proof are all things we have total control over.  We are still a democracy and with that comes the power to change our own lives with our decisions.

If we take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans to go to a big ivy league college for a poli science degree that is our fault, not a politician.  We make decisions with our eyes wide open and we should take ownership of them.

We cannot expect Bernie, Trump, Hillary, or Cruz to bail us out of our own personal mistakes.  All they do is run our national and foreign policies.  We own our personal policies and budgets.  It would be unfair to expect any of these people to fix our lives.  They have much bigger jobs ahead of them.

If you work towards becoming debt free and making yourself happier, it will have more impact than any candidate that gets elected for president.  If you are debt free and happy with your life, work, and family life, it won’t matter if Bernie, Trump, Hillary or Cruz are in office.  If you are not happy today, wake up tomorrow and start making changes.

Keep life in perspective and always keep an open mind with presidental candidates.  Please review the real data on people running for office, not just what CNN, FOX, CBS, MSNBC, NBC or any single person says.

Here are some quick links to candidate information (Donald Trump has no record, so no links):

Have a great cagefree day!


How To Save Money On Coffee!

Morning Coffee

How can you save hundreds of dollars by brewing your own coffee?

We love our coffee in the mornings.  Morning coffee is a time when we get together, talk, enjoy some music and get ready for the day ahead.  Just about every morning since we have been married (almost 20 years), this has been our ritual.

Over the years we have made our coffees several different ways.  Below are some of the most popular ways we have made coffee.

  • K-Cups
  • Coffee maker (drip)
  • Store bought already made
  • French press
  • Percolator coffee
  • Instant coffee

All coffee is not made the same and all coffee is not priced the same either.  Every one of these brewing methods has advantages and disadvantages.

Morning Coffee

We have been using the french press now for a couple of years, not just because of cost, but also the flavor.  Here is our experience with the various ways to make coffee over the years.


We would try and find special deals on the coffees for this coffee maker, which could help keep the costs down.  The typical cost of coffee is about $15 for a 24 count box.  You can sometimes find them cheaper with sales.  The coffee maker costs around $100 and they seem to break every couple years (sometimes sooner).  The biggest advantage is time, since you just put the cup in and press a button generally if the water is full or you have one connected to your water.  Coffee costs about $0.42 – $0.63/cup of coffee.

Annual cost of 2 people with one cup per day can average ~$383/Year

Coffee Maker (Drip) and Percolator:

Probably the most common type of coffee maker around.  The coffee makers seem to last forever and you have a large selection of coffees to chose from.  The only expense other than the coffee is the filters.  For about $7.99 – $12.99 you can get a bag of coffee.   The costs is much cheaper than K-Cups, but you usually make a full pot of coffee and it takes a bit more effort and time.  The coffee also stays hot with the heating element for your second cup.  Coffee costs about $0.13 – $0.22 per cup.

Annual cost of 2 people with one cup per day can average ~$127/Year

French Press:

Similar to some of the other coffee makers, the french press uses the grounds you get in bagged coffees.  In a 1 pound bag of coffee you get approximately 64 cups of coffee with a french press. The biggest benefit is the coffee maker is cheap and has no parts that can break.  You can bring it anywhere you can heat water up and you have full control over the time for the perfect cup of coffee.  The downside is it takes time and does not keep the extra coffee warm after being brewed.  Coffee costs about $0.13 – $0.22 per cup.

Annual cost of 2 people with one cup per day can average ~$127/Year

Instant Coffee:

Instant coffee is sure to get some scowls, however this list would not be complete without the fast and cheap option.    I actually enjoy instant coffee and you can spice it up with a dash of cinnamon or another spice if you like.  The benefit is it is fast and cheap to have a cup of coffee.  The coffee is not as good as french press or others however.  Coffee costs about $0.10 per cup.

Annual cost of 2 people with one cup per day can average ~$73/Year

Store Bought Coffee:

The costs have a huge range for store bought depending on where you go.   The biggest benefit is someone else did all the work for you, so just sit back and enjoy.  The downside is the large cost if you love your coffee every day like we do.  Coffee costs about $0.99 – $3.99 per cup.

Annual cost of 2 people with one cup per day can average ~$1,817/Year

Each one of these can be impacted by coupons or sale prices, but these are typical ranges we see when shopping.  If you are like me and one cup is just not enough, then you can double the costs you see here, which makes an even bigger impact on your selection.

We do a mix of french press and instant coffee, with some store bought if we are on the road for work or vacation.

As we were having our cup of coffee this morning, Kellie mentioned to me that sometimes people get overwhelmed with having to make changes to become debt free, but seeing something like this shows you even making one simple change can have a big impact on your budget.

Remember, just take small steps forward.  Eventually you will be where you want to be with your budget.  Looking at all the changes you need to make at first can see over whelming and cause you to stop.  Small changes keep us moving forward towards our goal.

Have an amazing cage free day!