There two types of FIRE and somehow I connect both.
A couple of years ago Taylor and Scott stopped into the brewery for a local craft beer. That night I stood there talking well past closing time with them about the adventure they were on. They opened me up to this crazy idea called FIRE. (Financial Independence Retire Early) At the time I had never heard of it or any of the people they were talking about. Some Mr. Money Mustache dude and Tim Ferriss guy? Either way they got me hooked. I was super jealous of the freedom they told me about. I was also instantly intrigued by our conversation that I purchased Tim Ferris 4 Hour Work Week and JL Collins Simple Path to Wealth. Listening to their stories and asking questions about how I can incorporate the FIRE mentality into my life was super exciting. It was all about being smart with your money. However, after reading the books, blogs and getting super motivated life sort of got in the way. I am sure everyone uses this as an excuse. I got super busy and sidetracked, but next week I will get back on the path. Just like a diet. They always start on a Monday. This went on for a while. I would make budgets and break them. Never really fully committing.
Then recently Scott released his book. Playing with Fire. It got me thinking about the life I want and the promises I had made to myself way back in 2012. May 2012 goes down in the history books for me. Of course, it is just another one of those stories that you’ll be like no way. Hint, hint I have Good Bad Luck. Bad Luck - my apartment burned down. No for real. FIRE for real! All my stuff went up in smoke. It was definitely one of those days that I couldn’t comprehend. I stood there with my Mom, Dad and brother just watching the flames get higher and higher.
The full story of this day is a doozy. I mean, to be honest, I had just gotten home from work, and it was a hot day in May, so I took my pants off since I didn’t have my ac on. Work clothes are the worst. There is no better feeling than getting home and taking those damn pants off right away. I warmed up the best ever buffalo chicken burrito from Atlas and sat on my couch in my underwear and dug in. Shortly after my super healthy snack, I passed out. I woke up to a bunch of people screaming out in front of my building and smoke alarms going off. If you have ever lived in an apartment complex you already know to never believe when an alarm goes off. Happens all the time so I slowly got up and looked out my window. There was a group of people outside pointing to my building. That is when I saw the fire trucks. Guess this might be a little more serious of a situation then I thought. As I went to grab a pair of shorts, I saw the smoke. Schnikes. I grabbed my phone and keys and opened my apartment door. As I went to step out, a police officer was screaming for everyone to get out of the building. Talk about a rude awakening from a burrito nap.
Have you ever received an excel spreadsheet of everything you owned itemized out? Let me rephrase that. Everything you own that was thrown in the trash. Yep, I did. That was the first moment I realized I had lost everything. I cried, and I am sure my family would say I had a complete meltdown. After I collected myself, I sat there going through the whole spreadsheet documenting for all items where I bought them, when I bought them and for how much. Life lesson #151 get replacement cost for your personal property on your insurance. I had actual cash value, so they had to figure out the depreciation of my items. Life Lesson #152 $10,000 doesn’t even begin to cover your personal items. I mean thankfully I had a renters insurance policy since I don’t think anyone else in the building did, but I hit $24,000 in items lost, and I wasn’t even halfway through the spreadsheet.
Out of this whole crazy life experience the biggest thing I got out of it was….Why do I own 40 koozies? Why do I have 20 Iowa Hawkeye t-shirts? After going through the spreadsheet, I decided never again will I own this much stuff. There is no need for it. I am just buying things to buy things. If I see a good deal I mean I have to buy it. If I don’t, I will be losing money. Damn you Target and your yellow clearance stickers! After The Great Fire of 2012, as it has become to be called, I somehow began to accumulate a lot of items again. My simple life was becoming cluttered once again. Then I got an email that Scott’s book Playing with Fire was available. I instantly bought it. 1. I am a huge fan of supporting all Bellevue people and their businesses. 2. I had to hear how their journey ended since I talked to them during it. I started reading it, and once again it hit me. What have I been doing!?! I need to get back on track with my spending. I somehow got in this fog of I need things to make me happy. I partially blame social media for this. I see people in a super cute sweater, and I think I NEED that, or a baby item that is a must for Nile. He can't survive without all those cute Instagram outfits!
I needed to figure once again out what really makes me happy. I already knew that it is definitely not material things. The fire taught me that. I pulled a Marie Kondo. Purging mood began. I went through my closet and got rid of all kinds of items I no longer wear. I tried Thred Up for the first time. I will post about that experience soon. I also decided to challenge myself with not buying any items for myself (clothes, accessories, athletic gear, etc.) for 3 months. I am 30+ days in and holding steady.
You're wondering where the Good Luck comes from experiencing a fire and losing all your possessions? It actually came in many forms. I was lucky to be from a small town that supports those in a time of need. I can't even count how many people sent me gift cards, or the local businesses that helped me. A thought for you to all ponder. When you lose everything that means everything like prescriptions, contacts, glasses, bathroom items and of course all your underwear. The company I worked for gave me paid time off even though I had only been hired full time for a short period. My family supported me so much I will never be able to pay them back. That will come at no surprise to them since I owe my parents and siblings countless dollars for all they have done for me. I discovered the most important lesson. I have my health and loving, supporting family. Don't need more than that....well maybe a craft beer. Especially in a time like this!
How this ties back to Scott's book is precisely what the FIRE mentality is all about. What makes you happy? Does spending time with friends and family and fantastic life experiences make you happy? For me it does. That is why I am going to do my best to make sacrifices now so that I can retire early and take in this life without the stress of a 9-5 job. Back on track again, and this time the train won't derail. Thanks, Scott for the great read. I read this book in a day. It was so good, and Scott was so open and honest about their life that it makes you feel really connected to him, Taylor and their journey. I highly recommend Playing with Fire.