FI Lifestyle Personal Finance

FI Progress Update: July 2019 (We Got a Dog!)

mika in the mustang

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

fi progress 1907
  • 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

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

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

oregon coast susan b pixabay
We'd planned to explore the Oregon Coast in July, but plans fell through (Image credit: Susan B at Pixabay)

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 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

mika 2
Mika being silly while Kid 1 gives her belly rubs

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.)

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.

The decision

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.

sleeping mika
Sleeping Mika reminds me of the Firefox logo

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!

Looking ahead

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.

And how could anyone argue with that? 😉

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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  • Reply
    T on FIRE
    August 19, 2019 at 9:08 am

    Although the vacations sounded GREAT, the best part of this post by far is MIKA!! SO sweet!! How exciting to have a new family member. We’ve considered it but having been pet free for about 8 years, we’re getting a bit set in our ways – although I’ve lobbied for a cat for months…I’m not really getting anywhere. Haha! Congratulations 🙂

    • Reply
      August 19, 2019 at 2:12 pm

      That’s where we were—pet-free and comfortable!

      To welcome a dog into our home was to welcome a lot more trouble, worry, and potential costs! But at the same time, we also brought in so much happiness and lifelong memories. In the end, it’s worth all the hassles!

      Just you wait… it seems pet lovers like us can’t be without pets forever! Some adorable cat will eventually come along and coax itself into your life!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Mika is cute. Congrats. 🙂 Hopefully she will stay with your FI family and become an FI doggo. It’s good for kids to experience growing up with a dog. They can learn a lot. Btw, have you thought about giving your kiddos nicknames for the blog?

    • Reply
      August 19, 2019 at 2:07 pm

      Hey Liquid, thanks for coming by to comment! I agree that having a dog is such a great experience for the kids. We’re really happy to have Mika in the family. 🙂

      I’d love to nickname my kids for my blog! (I really don’t love calling my family M, Kid 1 and Kid 2!) Before I launched, my husband and I went through a slew of nicknames for the family as a group (like, all Marvel characters, or characters from different movies and TV shows) but none really felt right.

      Still, I think it would be more fun to name them… so I’m going to discuss it with the kids and my hubby to see what we can come up with.

      Thanks for the suggestion/nudge!!!

  • Reply
    August 19, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Thanks for sharing your decision process on whether or not to keep Mika. It’s was a good idea to do a trial run to see if you guys would like to keep the dog and it sounds like the whole fam is helping out with taking care of Mika and loving it so far. So cool of your kids to help minimize your duties in taking care of the dog. Looks like a keeper!!
    I personally wouldn’t mind owning a dog but MwC is against owning pets, lol!! She would rather play around with dogs that are already owned and don’t want that responsibility of having one ourselves.
    Love that picture of Mika in the Mustang!!

    • Reply
      August 19, 2019 at 4:59 pm

      Yeah, it was key for me to have the family involved. I couldn’t have handled 100% of the responsibility. (Not if I wanted to keep my sanity at least!)

      I think MwC is very wise—that’s exactly how we felt until this situation with Mika happened. Your life is full enough at the moment anyway with a preschooler and newborn!

  • Reply
    Elise @ Financial Fitness Fanatic
    August 19, 2019 at 4:43 pm

    Personally, we wouldn’t take in a new pet, but that’s only because my fiance and I can barely keep a plant alive. I don’t even want to know what would happen with an animal involved. Both of us would love a pet as long as the other would be willing to take on care full time (I just want the snuggles!). Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening any time soon.

    But that’s the wonderful thing about the FI movement. Each of us gets to decide what to sacrifice potential retirement savings to buy. Our rule is that before making any big purchase, we have to ask ourselves: is it worth working a few extra years to have this? If so, and if having it is going to bring real, true, everyday happiness, then why give that up?

    • Reply
      August 19, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Hi Elise, thanks for commenting. We’re the same with plants! We seem to have better luck with pets… but we shall see! LOL.

      I love what you wrote about FI. You’re absolutely right. We have the freedom to choose how we spend our money and our time. It’s a wonderful position to be in!

  • Reply
    Piki Dad
    August 19, 2019 at 5:13 pm

    Fidalgo bay looks like a nice place to fish. 😁

    Shibas are extremely loyal dogs. Have you seen the film Hachiko?

    • Reply
      August 19, 2019 at 10:04 pm

      Fidalgo Bay is a great place to fish, dig for clams, and catch crabs. Unfortunately, the licenses to do so are quite expensive, so we’ve only ever watched others doing it!

      We’ve never seen Hachiko, but we’d love to see it one day. We visited the famous Hachiko statue in Tokyo last year—it’s a VERY popular tourist spot!

  • Reply
    August 20, 2019 at 7:49 am

    I feel your pain with the hotel reservation mistake! My daughter wanted to attend Playlist which is a big YouTube convention and I reserved a room for $220/night. We had to cancel our plans a few days before the event. I discovered it was a 14 day prior to event cancellation. They were billing me for two nights! I begged for mercy. Fortunately, it’s a huge event with sold out rooms so they let me off the hook. They were probably able to charge more money.

    Add one more Mika admirer to the list. She’s absolutely adorable. Your kids are at a good age to help with pets and learn some responsibility. Dogs are such good family members. You’ll soon wonder how you lived without her.

    • Reply
      August 21, 2019 at 12:05 am

      You are so lucky with that hotel reservation! Glad you got that money back, phew.

      My mistake has been lessened a little with my sister insisting on paying for half of the hotel mistake! I felt bad accepting her offer since it was totally my fault. But she was adamant since one of the rooms was for for her. I knew she wouldn’t let me off the hook, so I accepted her offer! It helps to soften the blow a little.

      You’re so right about dogs. Mika has been wonderful so far, and we’re getting more and more attached to her by the day!

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