Often, people approaching retirement find themselves anxious about the change and deciding to stick around for ‘One More Year’.

I have to admit - my personality is very much a ‘One More Year’ personality. I have lots of dreams, but I don’t always love change. If it wasn’t for the adventurous encouragement of my wonderful wife, I would have missed out on some of my best life experiences.

As you may know, I’m currently coming up on the end of my one-year mini-retirement - a period of separation from the 9-5 that we’re using as a chance for more quality family time and more time to pursue our passions.

The experience has been both challenging and amazing. I’ll put it bluntly. I’m not ready to go back to a 9-5 just yet.

So, for once I’m going to take advantage of my ‘One More Year’ tendencies and use them for my own good:

We’re going to extend our “mini-retirement” for another year!

But It’s Not Really Retirement

Elderly man rowing boat

You’ll notice that I put the word mini-retirement in quotes.

The term mini-retirement was fair when we kicked this off. I was taking a year away from 9-5 to focus on my family, travel, and work on my passions - this blog and coding. Sounds like a mini-retirement to me :)

But, with the timeline extending from one year to two, it’s not really “mini”.

And with the amount of time I’m spending working on this blog, coding projects, and freelancing, it’s not really “retirement” either.

The real gist of what we’re working on now is a shift in lifestyle.

Jaime and I are adjusting the major aspects of our lives to better represent the life we want.

It’s still a work in progress and we’ve realized that it will work a whole lot better if we define the life we want first.

Our Family Mission

Our family on a beach in Hawaii, looking out into the distance

As Jaime and I have talked about the options in front of us, we kept feeling like we needed something to anchor our vision.

So, we created a family mission statement to capture the lifestyle we’re shooting for:

To love, respect, and support one another, focusing on quality family routines and adventures while creating a calm and eco-friendly life filled with God.

This includes spending quality family time together on a daily basis, but also a whole list of dreams we hope to accomplish as a family

  • Finish visiting every US state (we’re through 47!)
  • Spend 6+ months living in a foreign country
  • Visit Italy
  • Visit Australia & New Zealand
  • Write 2 books (Jaime)
  • Work with a mission group in another country
  • Reach financial independence
  • Have God as an active part of every day

Those are the specific ones, but there’s a more general one that ranks above all of those: be the best parents we can, raising kind and respectful kids, while having a whole lot of fun along the way.

We know we can accomplish this regardless of where we live or where we work, but there are situations that simply lend themselves better to the flexibility we’re looking for.

In particular, Jaime and I are looking at this upcoming year as a chance to re-examine two major segments of our lives - where we live and how we earn a living.

Where We Live

One of our twins playing in the snow in APRIL

Jaime and I have both lived in the midwest our entire lives (minus one year that Jaime lived in Portland, OR as a kid). But just because we’ve experienced a lot of winters doesn’t mean that they’re good for us.

While we try our hardest, we’re not really winter people. From November through mid-April, we spend most of our time indoors and yearn for sunshine and warm weather. Where we live is a choice and choosing to live in a place where we feel cooped up for almost half the year may not be the right decision for us.

Beautiful suburban street with sunrise

Outside of the weather, there’s a lot we love about the place we live - our church, our friends, our schools, our routines, and being close to family. If we were to move, there’s certainly a lot we’d miss; the thought of moving can be scary.

So, we’re going to take this upcoming year to assess life here in Wisconsin and look at our options elsewhere with a goal of deciding whether we choose to stay here in Wisconsin or uproot and settle down someplace sunnier :)

How We Earn a Living

Chalkboard with words 'Make Money'

Every month during this mini-retirement I’ve been watching our bank account balances shrink. We planned it out this way, but it still makes me pretty uncomfortable every time I see the numbers go down.

In the bigger picture, we are hoping to establish an income that is independent of location so we have the flexibility to travel.

Truthfully, I had hoped during this mini-retirement that I’d be making more money off of this blog, but I’ve come to realize that many of the things I’d need to do to make money here just aren’t worth it.

We don’t want to clutter your reading experience with a bunch of ads, many of which are peddling stuff that would move you further away from your financial goals.

But there are some ways that Jaime and I are looking into bringing in some income from Keep Thrifty (such as finding a sponsor for our Freedom Story Series with products/services we use and believe in).

Outside of this, though, Jaime and I are starting to get more creative in how we’re looking at our income in the future.

The simple answer might be for me to apply to get a remote 9-5 software developer job - and that option is certainly on the table.

But before we get there, we’re going to see what we can do on our own:

  • Freelance website calculator design - I’m through two gigs so far, working on a third
  • Freelance & Ghostwriting - Jaime is offering her writing talents
  • Jaime’s setting up a walking/exercise group in our community where she’ll lead people in some fun outdoor workouts. You may not have known that Jaime used to be a personal trainer :)
  • mny - A new app with Grant from Millennial Money - I’m really excited about this one. Right now you can sign up for launch notifications and use our awesome set of calculators

  • More to come? We’ve got lots more ideas and we’ll keep trying to see what sticks.

Our vision here is to create multiple small-to-medium-sized income streams. Together, they’ll hopefully grow to cover our family’s expenses without having too much dependent on one bucket.

In addition, this gives us the ability to continue some or all of these streams if I do end up going back to a 9-5.

Adventures for the Upcoming Year

Beach in Costa Rica

But the fun isn’t done yet. We’ve got plans for travel this year as well.

Jaime and I are celebrating our 10-year anniversary this summer and will be spending 5 days in the beautiful beach town of Nosara in Costa Rica.

Then this fall, we’re going to be bringing the kids to Nosara for a full month.

Each of these is a stepping stone toward us achieving our dream of living in another country for 6+ months. From all of our research, Costa Rica seems like an amazing place to do this, so we’re getting our feet wet.

In full disclosure, Jaime was ready to make a 9-month trip to Costa this upcoming year, bypassing the shorter ones. Jaime’s a lot bolder than I am - my anxiety slowed our plans down a bit but we’re on our way there.

In addition, we’ll be doing some road trips to explore where we may want to live in the future. In particular, we’re thinking about checking out Venice, FL and Austin, TX. If you’ve got any tips on areas we should look at, let us know in the comments below.

It doesn’t look like we’ll be checking any new states off our list this year, but we’ve still got 10 years to tackle the last three :)

The Fun is Just Beginning

Sprouting plant

The last year has been an amazing year of growth. We’ve learned a ton about ourselves and created some amazing memories. In the year ahead, we are really optimistic about this being an inflection point for our family.

As we anchor the major pieces of our life - where we want to live and how we want to earn our living - we’ll be getting that much closer to creating a lifestyle that enables the dreams we are so passionate about achieving.

And we’ll be having as much fun as we can along the way.

Thanks for hanging with us through this journey and for all of your love and support. We’re looking forward to the year ahead and would love to hear your plans as well!

What are the major areas of your life that you’d love to adjust? Whether it’s your career, location, or something else, how can you take steps to get there?