Meet the newest member of the Eat Sleep Breathe FI family: Mika the Shiba Inu (more on Mika at the end of the update)
It’s time for another FI progress update! Here’s what happened at the Eat Sleep Breathe FI household in July:
Our investments went up
- The chart displays the total value of our retirement investments. Our RESP, cash holdings, and home equity aren’t included.
- The huge jump in February 2018 was due to us refinancing our home and investing the funds. (This leveraged investing strategy cut our time to FI by four years.)
- The percentage at the bottom represents the growth/drop in our investments compared to the previous month. This includes investment growth/losses and any additions we made to our accounts.
The markets were good to us in July, and our investments increased by 1.8%. This is a new all-time high for our portfolio—woo hoo!
Note: July’s growth was purely from market returns—no new contributions this month or the rest of the year. We maxed out our retirement accounts in March, and will be directing all extra cashflow for 2019 to our car loan.*
*Yes, we took out a loan to buy M’s ‘new-old’ car! I’m still working on the post to explain why we made such a seemingly-terrible financial decision. Stay tuned for that!
Ongoing frugal summer fun
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It was yet another fun event from @kidsworldvancouver today! We visited @eagleacresdairy and had such an amazing time. The kids—even 14YO Kid 1—loved visiting the cute and funny farm animals (including the adorable dogs Sophie and Squishy, who happily soaked up all the cuddles and scratches they could get!) It's clear this farm is a labor of love. The animals are happy and well cared-for and the staff are likewise happy and so welcoming. Thank you for such a fun and educational experience! #circlefarmtour #langley #eagleacresdairy #kidsworldvancouver #summerfun #vancouverfun #familyfunvancouver
We love the Kidsworld program! With our passes, we continued to enjoy lots of family fun in July. For only $60 per kid, we’ll receive over $250 in free admissions this summer. (Follow my Instagram feed to see all the Kidsworld events we’ve attended this summer.)
I finally did a full review of this amazing program in Kidsworld: The Best Deal for Family Fun in Vancouver. If you live in the Vancouver area, I highly recommend Kidsworld for year-round frugal family fun!
A budget-friendly getaway
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One of our favourite summer getaways: beautiful Fidalgo Bay near Anacortes in Washington State. We've returned to @fidalgobayresort every year the last three years... and we LOVE IT here. So peaceful and gorgeous. We're having fun 'glamping' with my in-laws in their motorhome: making s'mores, walking to Anacortes, beachcombing, and just doing NOTHING! They also have lovely, new cabins here for rent (we stayed in one last year with my family). The entire resort is beautiful and well-maintained—definitely worth a visit! #fidalgobay #fidalgobayresort #washingtonstate #anacortes #glamping #summerfun #summerfunwashington
At the end of July, we took off for a short getaway with M’s parents in their motorhome. As we’ve done for the last two summers, we headed south to one of our favourite local destinations—Fidalgo Bay Resort in Anacortes, Washington.
It was a relaxing five days of walks into town, beachcombing, and just doing nothing! The relaxation was largely provided by M’s mom, who enjoys nothing more than whipping up yummy meals for family and friends. As someone who finds cooking to be mostly a chore, it was really nice for me to take a break from it!
Unbelievably, we only spent $365 USD ($485 CAD) for five days away—food, accommodations and transportation included! Sharing trip costs is one of the great things about travelling as a group (as I’ve written about before—scroll to #9 after clicking on the link).
Thanks for yet another fun trip, Mom and Dad!
A dumb mistake
I made a really dumb mistake and forgot to cancel a couple of hotel reservations—and it cost me $280 USD ($370 CAD)!
We’d originally planned to travel down the Oregon Coast with my family in July. But plans fell through, so we had to cancel the hotel bookings. I thought I’d booked everything through Hotels.com so only cancelled those reservations. Unfortunately, I forgot that I’d also booked one night (two rooms) directly through Travelodge.
I didn’t realize I still had the outstanding bookings until the Travelodge manager called me at 10 pm on the night we were meant to check in! By then, it was past their cancellation window and they couldn’t reverse the charges. I tried pleading my case politely—both with the manager and the main call centre. But it was my mistake and they couldn’t/wouldn’t budge.
To add insult to injury, I just happened to check my spam folder a few days later. In it, there was an email from Travelodge the day before our stay to remind us of our stay the next day! If that had gone to my inbox, I would’ve been able to cancel and wouldn’t have been charged. Ugh!!!
I really hate when I make mistakes like this! Maybe I need to start a ‘Stupid Mistakes Fund’ like Kevin from Financial Panther. Do you have any tips for getting over dumb mistakes like this?
We did another crazy thing
We seem to keep doing crazy things lately. First, it was buying an anti-Mustachian muscle car. Now, we have a dog—even though we swore we were done with pets! How did this happen? What were we thinking?!
Well, M and I love animals. We both grew up with dogs, and we’ve had a variety of pets in our time together: geckos, lovebirds, fish, a frog, and guinea pigs. We’re also huge softies and have a hard time saying no to a pet in need!
And that’s exactly what happened again… we were faced with another pet in need.
Mika needs a new home
M’s cousin called us a couple of weeks ago with some sad news. Due to circumstances beyond his control, he could no longer keep his dog Mika. (She’s the adorable Shiba Inu that we often dogsit.)
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We're dog-sitting again! Mika is ever-patient with Kid 2, who can't help but keep putting her bacon stuffy on her head. We LOVE dog-sitting for family and friends! We get nearly all the benefits of having our own dog... but without the worries, expenses, or commitment. It's like being a grandparent—have fun with them and enjoy them, then send them back! 😆 It's the BEST! #dogsitting #shibainu #shiba #bacon
Shiba Inus are a desirable breed, so M’s cousin knew he’d have no problem finding Mika a new home. But the prospect of her going to another family (and us never seeing her again) broke all our hearts.
M’s cousin asked if we’d be willing to take Mika into our home. He knew we loved her and that she’d have a good, spoiled-rotten life with us. It would also mean he and his family would still be able to see her.
There was no pressure at all, and he’d completely understand if we said no. Then he told us: he’ll cover all her expenses for the rest of her life.
Thinking it over
This was a huge decision and there was a lot on the line. We asked M’s cousin for some time to think it over, then sat down to have a serious talk. Our gut reaction was to say no—even with the generous offer of financial support.
As much as we love dogs, we felt our life was full enough. We neither had the time nor the energy for a dog of our own. (Not to mention we’re very averse to taking on the unknown financial burdens of a pet.) We’d been enjoying dog-sitting, and were happy to continue doing that.
Additionally, M’s always been upfront about his role with pets. He loves them, but due to his work schedule, we both knew it would largely be up to me to care for our pets. At this time, with two kids at two schools, and a blog and podcast to run, I don’t exactly have time on my hands!
It seemed like we had no choice. As much as we wanted to, we couldn’t take Mika… or so I thought.
The turning point
As we wrote out our pros and cons lists, I sensed a shift in M. I was shocked to see him softening to the idea of a dog. He was sad for his cousin and felt his pain. He also loved Mika and really wanted to make this situation work.
The gears started turning in M’s head as he imagined life with Mika as our perma-dog. Our conversation shifted from all the reasons not to take Mika, into all the reasons why we might be able to.
After flip-flopping for a while, I said to M, “Why don’t we just try it out? Let’s take Mika for a full two months and see how it goes.”
For both of us, this was the pressure release and safeguard we needed. It would buy us more time while giving us the option to back out if needed. We called M’s cousin to give him the good news.
He was so relieved and reiterated again: there was no pressure, and no hard feelings if things didn’t work out. He also stated again that he fully intends to take on the cost of Mika’s care. Additionally, his parents (M’s uncle and aunt) were happy to care for her whenever we needed to travel or just to get a break.
To be honest, I’m not totally comfortable accepting M’s cousin’s offer of financial support. It just feels awkward to me! But M and his cousin are close, and both of them are okay with it. I’ll let the two of them work it out!
M’s cousin also explained things in a way that made sense to me: by taking in Mika, we’re helping to keep her in his and his family’s life. There’s a lot of value in that for him, so he sees the cost as worth it. It’s a win-win-win for him, us, and Mika.
How it’s been so far
Things have been going really well with Mika. She’s a very easy dog. M’s cousin did all the right things when training and socializing her, so she’s about as perfect of a dog as we could’ve hoped for.
As far as her care, M has more than stepped-up to care for Mika. The biggest shock for me is that he’s overcome his lifelong aversion to handling dog poo—all for Mika! He’s voluntarily picked up her poo dozens of times… and hasn’t gagged or thrown up while doing it! (Yes, this has actually happened—M’s that sensitive to poo.)
For me, this is a game-changer. It means M can walk Mika on his own and can take her to work with him if I’m ever out for the day. M’s also super-keen to train her, and is willing to fully take on that task. (Mika’s awesome in every way, but we need to improve her recall off-leash.) Also, the boys have promised to help out with walking, playing, feeding, and vacuuming.
Because of all this, I haven’t had to add a whole lot of doggy-care tasks to my already-full schedule. It sure makes it easier for me to get fully on-board with a dog!
Mika’s only 2 ½ years old, so we can look forward to another 10 years or more with her. (Shibas live for 12–15 years.) In 10 years, Kid 1 will be 24 and Kid 2 will be 21—wow. That’s a long commitment, but one that I think we’re ready for.
As I write this, we’ve had Mika for a week, so we have seven more weeks in our ‘trial run’. But really, if we’re being honest with ourselves, it’s already a done deal! We love Mika, and can’t imagine letting her go to anyone else. I think she’s stuck with us. 🙂
I’ll report back next month to let you know if we’ve made a final decision (but I think we all know what it’ll be!)
And that’s a wrap!
The last two updates make our family seem totally erratic and crazy-pants! First, we bought a gas-guzzling third car. And now, we’re suddenly adding a new furry member to our family. What will we do next?!
I promise you—this isn’t the norm for us! We’re not known to do crazy things or make big decisions quickly. But we’re at a point in our lives where we’re old and experienced enough to add new things to our lives without needing to over-analyze.
And of course, it helps that we have time and money cushions. These allow us to be open to opportunities and adventures that come our way.
In summary, our ability to buy a ‘toy’ car and take in a dog (within a two-month span) are testaments to why FI is such a wonderful life path. Even before hitting our number, we’ve already been granted all kinds of freedom. We can choose to live our lives in a way that aligns with our values and brings us greater happiness.
What do you think?
As always, I want to hear from you! Would you take in a pet in need? Also, do you have any tips for overcoming stupid money mistakes? Let me know in the comments below!
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