We killed off our student loans. We did a little party-dance, and immediately got started on the second mortgage. We took all our extra: the pennies we could scrounge from the couch cushions and the new windfall from our dead student loan payment. We poured everything into the second mortgage.
We finished paying the second mortgage November of 2010. We added the amount of the dead second mortgage payment to the couch cushion change and now we were really making headway! With those two elephants paid off, we added $1,200 a month to the funds available to clean up our mess. We put our eye on the unsecured portion of the first mortgage, the difference between our loan balance and the amount the house could be sold for. We wanted ultimate freedom, the ability to get rid of the house if we so choose. We were building momentum. Our nightly walks became more and more optimistic.
One weekend in early 2011, we were hosted at a good friend’s house for dinner and wine. Our friend’s uncle is a sailor who has crossed oceans; when our friend told him about our plans he agreed we should do it. Over her delicious meal, she reported his advice to us. We were eager to hear.
“He said, ‘They should just go now.’
We slump back in our chairs. “Why does everyone keep telling us that? We can’t go now. WE. HAVE. NO. MON-NAY.”
“Well, you know, life is short! You get caught up in the day to day. You get injured. You get sick! Anything can happen. My uncle did his first trip to Hawaii. Then, he got cancer. He beat it back, and took another trip. Then he got cancer again. He is fighting it, but he said he wished he left to go sailing a long time ago.” None of us can deny there is a risk to waiting.
This leads to a round table discussion brainstorming all the options previously mentioned in our last post. We all arrive at a similarly dreary conclusion: The Oddgodfreys shall be shackled to our desks a bit longer.
“Well, maybe you can’t just go now, but you should at least go as soon as possible. You need a deadline.” Our friend declares.
As a litigator, I am familiar with the impact of a deadline. Deadlines give you parameters for your life, they place demands where demands are not otherwise present. While sometimes arbitrary, a well thought out deadline forces you to build and maintain momentum. A deadline that is too short causes pain, stress and suffering. Most deadlines are not set in stone, they can be set then extended if need be, but the Court requires you to have a good reason to push a deadline back. Miss a deadline, and you commit malpractice. I respect a good deadline.
“As soon as possible.” Yeah, that seems like a good meeting point between Just Go Now and Brother’s $25,000,000 Retirement Plan. We wonder aloud how fast that could be. Our friend suggests we talk to her financial advisor: Mr. Micah Landis.
I recoil in my couch cushion and clutch my wine glass to my chest. “Noooo, NO! We have been down that path, and I’m not buying.” She insists Micah will be different. I sigh, but agree to meet him. What do we have to lose?
A few days later, we gather up our own financial tracking spreadsheets and the Bumfuzzle’s information about their costs to circumnavigate. We meet with Micah over lunch.
Micah: So, what are your financial goals? (I guess our friend didn’t warn him.)
Leslie: We want to sail around the world, as soon as possible.
Micah: Wow....okay, what would that sort of thing cost?
We buckled down and talked about the details. We talked about the Bumfuzzles expenses, our current income and lifestyle, he reviewed our tracking spreadsheets, the monthly amounts we put to debt, and the status of our debt and our savings accounts. By the end of our lunch he committed to take our information back to his office, run some numbers, and come up with specific recommendations. I had hope he understood the question we were asking.
One week later, he called us up. “You can do it in five years.”
Five years! Andrew and I smile at each other like two Cheshire cats. Now we are talking.
We set another meeting with Micah. He presents us with a very tidy synopsis of the fastest way to go sailing:
Step One: Pay down the mortgage to equal the fair market value of rent and refinance at that level;
Step Two: Save the money to buy the boat, go sailing, return to find jobs;
Step Three: Keep the house to allow the housing market to recover. Rent the house to a tenant to cover the mortgage;
Step Four: Save a fund to cover the house mortgage if there is ever a gap in time between renters.
“If you continue paying down debt and saving at your current rate, you can be ready to leave by the beginning of 2016” He tells us. Nothing in this plan is rocket science, but it helped confirm the fastest and best way to our goal is a simple work and save plan. It also gave us a reasonable approximation of our deadline.
“Micah! You are the best!” I tell him. We asked him a question, and he gave us an answer to the same question we asked. Brilliant. He did not run us around with front load investment funds, $25,000,000 retirement plans, or insurance paraphernalia (that came later…) He answered the question we asked.
Andrew and I took our sailing plan home, lovingly petting its pleather-bound cover. That evening, we grill a tasty dinner and crack a bottle of wine we had been saving for a special occaision. (Purchased at Costco!) Enjoying dinner on the backyard patio table, we clinked our glasses together.
“To 2016!” Andrew says.
“2016!” I echo. “But what day should we leave? January 1?”
We mull this over dinner. The wine is rich with mulberries and chocolate, silky and dry on our tongues. It’s a perfect thinking wine. “February 28 is a good day for beginnings.” I say. “Our first date. The first time we ever went sailing. The day the University of Utah was founded. (Somehow, this seems relevant.)”
Andrew rolls February 28 around in his mind for a minute. “Hey, yeah!” He says. “That would be good! Its at the beginning of 2016, and I think that would fit well for crossing the Pacific. But is it a Friday? Sailors can’t leave for a journey on Fridays.”
“Oooh, I don’t know.” I say, scrambling from my seat to go find my phone. I thumb through my calendar to arrive at February 2016. “SUNDAY! It’s a Sunday! That will be perfect.”
“Its decided then!” Andrew says.
“It’s decided.” I reply. “February 28, 2016.”
We clink our glasses and take a victorious sip of wine.