2016-The Year of Freedom

As I closed out 2015 I realized all of my hard work had paid off and it was a wonderful feeling.  I reached a goal I had been working to complete over the past 5 years, most of which was accomplished since I started this very blog.  Over the past month I realized I want to go in a new direction in 2016.  I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, in fact I essentially take the month of January off and let those who are sprinting to unrealistic goals get tired, January is the month of evaluation for me.  My initial thoughts lead me to investing because after you pay off debt the next step is to invest and build wealth.  While you won’t hear any arguments from me on this strategy, I have much if not all of this in place*.  I went back to 2015 and started to think what I would have done differently if I would have been out of debt, besides invest and save money of course.  It came to me right away; I realized I skipped out on a couple travels destinations and seeing friends and family.  Some of this was because of limited vacation, but most of it was I wanted to keep my money and pay off my debt.  I know I sound responsible, if you could only have meet me when I was fresh out of college:  playing poker and blackjack for hours, sleeping in my car out of exhaustion, standing in line for cash advances on my credit card, you know the opposite of responsible.  So do I want to be the opposite of responsible and go on late night casino nights?   In a word, NO!!!!!!  I however want 2016 to be The Year of Freedom.

If you have ever listened to Dave Ramsey, which I do every morning on my train ride to work, the quote “you should live like no one else so you can live and give like no one else” is a favorite of mine.  What this quote means to me is that I have done things that many people in our keeping up with the Joneses society would not do.  I gave up my iPhone and Verizon for Moto X and Republic Wireless, I cancelled DirecTV and the NFL network to switch over to Comcast and an internet plus package with a Roku, and I sold my Mercedes Benz in exchange for a Chicago CTA train/bus pass.  The fun thing about all of my changes is I like each and every choice better than my old more expensive choice.  Really, it turns out I really like some frugal weirdo ways.  I want to live like no one else today in a small part of my life, I want to enjoy 2016 and the new found financial freedom I have.


Last April, I had an opportunity to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting.  I would have had the privilege to meet and hang out with 1500days (ok take back the privilege part on that and throw it back in with Mrs. 1500days), Mr. and Mrs. POP, Income Surfer, and I’m guessing thousands of other smart frugal value based investors and a chance to peek into the carnival of Berkshire Hathaway led by Mr. Warren Buffett and Mr. Charlie Munger.  As time came closer to finding a well-priced flight out to Omaha or Kansas City, inexpensive accommodations, and daily food costs, I found myself spending more money than I would have cared to.

I had a choice to have a great trip to the Woodstock of investing and instead I chose to direct that money right at my student loans.  It did help that my BIG goal was intended for the end of April and the conference was in the first week of May, which essentially I would have told myself, it’s ok not to reach your goal and then go celebrate for striking out.

2015 was the year of Debt Repayment, 2016 is the year of Freedom.  This year I am going to Omaha, Nebraska to attend the Berkshire Hathaway conference!  I decided that I was going no matter what, which to me meant driving out in our SUV and sleeping in the car for the night.  After sharing my plans with the wife this did not get the rave reviews I expected.  After getting some advice from Mr. 1500days he mentioned that Iowa and other places a little further out from Omaha could be had for pretty cheap if you didn’t mind the drive.  I immediately started looking at Air BnB for some places off the beaten path as my parents would say.  During my research I found some places over the border for a nice frugal price, under $50!  As I dove into my research a little more I came across some places that looked fun to stay at, everything from a Coca-Cola themed apartment, beautiful lake house, winery, and a tiny house(teeny house per Mrs. Even Steven Money).  All had the potential to be our Omaha home for the weekend, but it was just too hard to pass up living in a tiny house for the weekend.  So we are all set for a travel weekend away visiting Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Tiny House, and a few frugal friends.

That’s just one of many travel plans for 2016; I don’t plan on expensive excursions or long vacations that I cannot afford, I’m looking at a drive to Omaha and a tiny house for example, I picture the Griswald’s and our family vacation to see Wally World.  Visiting family in Arizona where the costs are reduced because of the spare bedroom in the back of my parents’ home and the sweet driving mini-van that I cannot wait to get my hands on.  If we are lucky and I think that we will be our thirst will be quenched with a cold beer in the fridge and an occasional home cooked meal after a long day of being out in the Arizona sunshine.


The year of freedom will also involve something else we enjoy and that is going out to eat, highly frowned upon in the personal finance community even by myself.  While we have an eating out budget that we do our best to keep in check (add link for eating out link as a leak).  This year we are embracing eating out more in 2016, but even a step further than that we are going to visit one new restaurant a month.  There are so many great places to eat in the city of Chicago, now I’m not talking eating $200 steak with a la carte choices and bottle of wine, I’m thinking more like a new sushi place in our neighborhood that opened up recently and we haven’t been.  Guess where we went in January?  This was not my intention going into the 12 new restaurants proclamation, but we ended up paying cash for the meal, which for me has a special place in my heart.  It’s a year of freedom and this particular move to freedom actually doesn’t affect our budget because we are already eating out within our budget, instead we are making the conscious effort to take our budget and make sure we check out something new that we haven’t had before, tastes like freedom I hope.  The $25 that we spent on sushi is not going to break our budget and in fact I think it’s going to reduce are spending.  It’s very easy to grab a pizza at the local place up the road that delivers or is within walking distance, but however if you have to take the extra time and possibly travel to check out a new restaurant that makes it just a little harder.  Plus It’s not like we eat out every day and eating at a new restaurant when we do eat out** in the grand scheme of things won’t break us by any means.

After spending my 2015 searching for every extra dollar to get rid of my personal debt forever, speeding down the highway passing cars going 80 mph, I feel like 2016 is going to be spent in the right lane of the highway going 55 mph with the cruise control on.  I look forward to a little extra travel, meeting a few new people,  a new restaurant, and an occasional gift to a family or friend that is in need.  It’s the year of freedom for Even Steven Money, I hope to see you along the way in my travels.


*80/20, we certainly could be doing better but maxing out our 401k, H.S.A., paying off the FL rental this year, and foggy plans(the 20 part of the equation) too max out our Roth IRAs makes me feel good inside.

**Exception is coffee on our way to work, you have to pick and choose your budget battles, and we choose coffee

23 Responses to “2016-The Year of Freedom

  • Always good to have a little fun money in the budget to spend on yourself. You’ve got to find the right balance the works for you. We just went out to dinner for my wife’s birthday, to a restaurant she’s been wanting to try and had great food and time, but skipped the $8 dessert ($40 for the five of us) and had a nice homemade cake when we got home. Sure we could have cooked the entire meal at home, but found the balance in eating the meal out and dessert at home.

    • EvenStevenMoney
      9 months ago

      Yeah it’s great for example when they have BYOB or there is a key lime pie sitting at home that you made, it’s a win in my book. Hope all is well over at the Debt Discipline household:)

  • It sounds like you are going to have an awesome year! I like the way that you use January for reflection.

  • Berkshire annual meeting would be pretty neat to attend. I’m debating between that or FinCon for this year. Leaning toward FinCon right now though.

    It’s great that you’re having a little fun with money and trying out new restaurants. Even eating out you can be frugal too (i.e. not order alcohol, sharing appetizer, etc)
    Tawcan recently posted…Recent buys – RY & NAMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      9 months ago

      Well feel free to stop if you attend either one because the plan is to attend both, tickets bought and paid for.

  • Neat goals. Can’t wait to see picks of the tiny house you’re staying in. I love me a good tiny house blog post!

    I like the idea of one new restaurant a month. Not too extravagant but loads of fun nonetheless. I hate when people ask me “what’s your go-to restaurant in NYC.” There are thousands upon thousands or restaurants in NYC, why would I repeat at the same one? I’ve also found eating at restaurants tastes much better when work foots the bill 🙂
    Fervent Finance recently posted…Why I Haven’t QuitMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      9 months ago

      In a funny way I might be more excited for the tiny house, but I’m sure once I’m in attendance of Buffett and Munger I’ll shape up a little and realize I like personal finance and investing that much more.

      I’m with you on the food, I mean best answer I can give is one closest to my house, does that count? Your answer about work paying trumps that though.

  • I would love to attend the Berkshire meeting! I may have to plan on trying to attend it within the next couple years!

    Congrats on your year of freedom! It is a great feeling to be able to focus on something more than paying down debt.
    Thias @It Pays Dividends recently posted…Dividend Payout #27 – Lessons Learned During a BlizzardMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      9 months ago

      Yeah paying off debt is a great feeling and great accomplishment, but I sure like the feeling of sending the money to my investments rather than interest on my loans. I’ll report back on Berkshire and let you know how it goes, maybe we can car pool next year;)

  • The good thing is you have a clear plan and vision of what you want 2016 to be all about. I like that analogy of 2016 being a 55 mph cruise control year. After burning through a productive 2015 you deserve to enjoy the fruits in 2016. Congrats on “living like no one else so you can live and give like no one else” in 2016. Curious to see where you end up in IA on the cheap for the BRK meeting.
    DivHut recently posted…Recent Stock Purchase II January 2016My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      9 months ago

      Yeah I’m excited about 2016, it should be a fun ride. We actually already booked a place it’s like a half hour west of Omaha, but it’s in Nebraska, it looks like a fun place, I’ll report back how fun and if I fit inside the tiny house.

  • You worked so hard on your debt that you really do deserve to add in travel and other things you enjoy. Sure you could save more for retirement, but you should enjoy life now as well. Since you’re being beyond reasonable about it, I say good for you!

    • EvenStevenMoney
      9 months ago

      Thanks Jessica, I really feel like I’m ahead of the game and the snowball is already rolling, I’m just snagging a snowflake or two is all:)

  • Woo hoo for freedom. Look forward to hearing more about your travels and other financial items.

  • I feel the same way as you. Pretty much all the money I do spend is on travelling always has. Travelling is what keeps me happy. To date I have been to 23 different countries and all over the US. I dont plan on stopping anytime soon and already have an intl trip planned for this year.

    Enjoy it up!
    Alexander @ Cash Flow Diaries recently posted…Blog Income Report and Traffic Stats – January 2016My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      9 months ago

      23 different countries…..You win! Although I’ll do my best to catch up.

  • Even though they are live streaming the event this year, there are many things you won’t get to experience unless you are in Omaha for the shareholders weekend.

    Since Buffett is still kicking around, it definitely makes sense to check out the event at least once in your lifetime before both him and Charlie Munger exit the scene.

    We recently released a post on the top 8 reasons why you should travel to Omaha for the shareholders meeting (http://goo.gl/KXiaKN) that you might find interesting, and perhaps informative before you go in May!
    BRK Rumors recently posted…Warren Buffett Backs Insurance Tech Startup LemonadeMy Profile

  • I hope you take a lot of pictures and let us know how the Berkshire shindig goes!

    A year of freedom sounds good to me! Especially since the world is coming to an end!

    Financial Samurai recently posted…When Do You Give Up And Marry A Resume Instead Of A Soul MateMy Profile

  • It’s so important to find a balance that makes your life feel right. Money is a tool, but so is time. Rejuvenation happens when you can reboot with others. I’m glad you were able to do this for yourself.
    ZJ Thorne recently posted…My IRA Does Not Understand My Heart’s GoalMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      6 months ago

      Thanks Zj, I agree a reboot is needed from time to time to get yourself back to the center of who you are and who you want to be.

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