Family HQ 2 – The Beginning

I want to find somewhere I feel at home, I haven’t found it yet.

My wife and I moved to Colorado 14 years ago on a whim. I had lived in Illinois for basically my entire life. She is from the Midwest and we both had family in the Chicago area. We were going to run out a non-compete for two years, then we’d be back.

Almost 10 years had passed until we actually decided to head back. We picked out a home in the best school district, I found a new job, we were coming home.

Until we weren’t.

We decided on the cheapest house in the most expensive neighborhood. The house was cheap for a reason, it failed inspection. We also found out that our siblings weren’t as excited to have us back as we had expected. Ten years of distance can create relationship canyons. We decided to stay in Colorado.

Not only did we decide to stay, we decided to buy a “forever home.” We made the financial mistake of spending as much on a house as we could “afford.” We got almost 6 acres of land that contained a ranch house with a walkout basement and theater room. It has a spacious deck with views of the mountains and a creek on our property. It’s also only a mile from the school we thought our kids would spend the next 15 of their lives at.

Five years ago we didn’t plan on going anywhere. We found our home.

We thought.

Brief Interlude. We are rich

“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”

― Carl Gustav Jung

I want to pause this post now to embrace you.

I am a very honest person and I don’t want to hide anything from you. I have seen the backlash people can get because they appear to be one type of person when they are writing, but then you find out they’re actually living the dream life.

My wife and I have won the American middle-class game of life. We were both raised by upper-middle-class parents who never divorced. They supported us financially through college either partially or fully. We both earned six-figure incomes and have two healthy children and a house on a hill. We have no debt and I have significant equity in the company I worked for.

Thanks to the current wacky stock market our net worth is over $3 million. That puts us in the top 10% of Americans. I am 38, my wife is a year younger. If we were older or lived in a coastal area, maybe we wouldn’t be as rich, but according to the stats we are part of the 1%.

If you don’t want to hear from an out of touch and privileged rich person, then please feel free to stop reading, I honestly understand.

If you’d like to learn from my life and experiences, then keep reading.

What being rich isn’t

I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.

― Jim Carrey

The gut reaction for most is to dismiss this quote from Mr. Carrey, “easy for him to say.” Or, “I’d trade my life for his any day.” But, who better to tell you that you don’t want to be rich and famous than someone who is rich and famous?

I’m not famous, but I do fear fame. I don’t write to become famous, I write because I enjoy the process and hope to help others. I’m an introvert and avoid awkward situations at all costs. I’m scared that if I became famous I would become a shut-in, it’s the reason I have avoided creating things for most of my life.

I have to remind myself often that fears are just illusions

It also wasn’t my goal in life to get rich. I have always understood the power of money. I was taught a good foundation in personal finance and never spent beyond my means. I learned in fourth grade that top-paying jobs that interested me where chiropractors and computer programmers. When I learned some aspects of being a chiropractor as being a pseudo-science, I figured it was best to stick to computers.

My wife went back to school to get a medical degree after discovering a niche that would allow her to work from home and still be with our kids. After over 15 years of hard work, saving, and getting very lucky to find work for a company that is currently 100 times more valuable than the initial set of options I was granted, we find ourselves to be rich.

It’s hard for me to say that as I don’t identify with rich people. I spent most of my adult years turning down going out for dinners and concerts saying, “What, do you think I’m rich?” But I’ve now realized I have to face my new found richness head-on. My wife still works, our kids still go to school, but I recently pulled the trigger and retired.

Being rich gives you power, but it doesn’t give you answers. You have to find the person you want to be and how you want to spend the rest of your life. All of your can’ts have been eliminated. You don’t have excuses to hide behind.

Do you hoard your wealth? Do you give it all away? Do you continue working? Do you do everything you can to avoid losing your wealth?

Get busy living or get busy dying

You don’t have to get up early to get stuck in traffic for a job you hate.
You have time to work out and eat healthily.
You are given the freedom to be whoever you want.

A fresh start

Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.

― Seth Godin

Prepare yourself for a hypothetical situation.

You awake in a trunk of a car.

Your mouth is dry and you can’t remember anything from the last few days. You feel like you’ve probably been out of it for hours if not a whole day. You notice a fairly large object next to you that isn’t giving you much space.

More hours pass until a man you don’t know opens the trunk and the bright sun shines in your eyes. He pulls you out and throws a large black duffel bag down next to you. He then hands you a piece of paper and drives off without saying a word.

You unfold the note and read…

“In the bag is three million dollars.
It is clean, legally yours and no strings attached.
Go live the life you have always wanted.”

After checking the bag and confirming there’s a shit load of money in there, you now are focused on survival. You have the clothes on your back and you see a diner across the street, but you have no shelter. Where are you going to sleep tonight? You then remember the crap ton of money you have.

After getting some food and water and calming down, you ask yourself the deeper question…

Where am I going to live the rest of my life?

Are you going to make your way back to your current house? Maybe update the kitchen and add a pool? Are you going to move? Or are you going to travel and no longer have a permanent physical address?

Finding shelter

You can’t get away from yourself by moving from one place to another.

― Ernest Hemingway

I have realized that moving to a wonderful home did not change me as a person. Just because you have three million dollars does not mean you have to buy a huge house in a better part of town. You still need to find out who you really are. But you also need to put yourself in the best position to succeed.

You live in a magical time where you can take a plane and be in another state or country in hours. You can talk to relatives instantly and attend meetings remotely. Yet, how many times have you tried living in a completely new environment? How do you know that your current surroundings are what’s best for you and your family?

In this series of posts, I plan to investigate how a person should determine where they should spend most of their time. I want to understand the actual factors that need to be considered when you are deciding where to live the rest of your life.

I understand you may have some limiting beliefs like…

  • You’re not rich or financially independent
  • You can’t imagine being more than 20 minutes away from your immediate family
  • You don’t think you could find employment elsewhere.

I intend to empower you to learn about what other living situations are available and why they may limit your excuses and allow you to be the best version of yourself.

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