The Sail Kitty

by Leslie Godfrey in ,

We are finally casting off for another new destination: Fiji!  So, just like last year, we will bring you up to speed on more of the backstory while we are away from internet.  Last year, we described how we learned to sail, this year, we will focus on the question everyone really wants to know:  money.  How did we save up the money to quit work and go sailing for a five year circumnavigation?  

We won the lottery.

WHAT?  No, we didn’t win the lottery.

Trust fund?  Nope, no trust fund. 

We just worked.  It took a while.  Learning to sail was the easy part of this venture.  The part that took the longest was definitely crawling out of the giant debt hole we put ourselves into, filling it up, and then saving enough money to go somewhere.  It took 13 years, to be exact. But, we both got degrees and jobs in areas where people wanted to pay us well for our work hours.  We made a plan, and then we stuck to the plan 90% of the time. 

We still feel squeamish talking about this subject, but when we think about the factor that thwarts most dreams, it is almost always money.  The needs and wishes of today almost always win out over the goal you set before yourself 5, 10, 20, 40 years down the road. We are going to give you the scoop on this topic even though it feels weird.  The evolution of our philosophy around money has always felt like the biggest factor in chasing this dream.

So, Let’s go back to the beginning.  If you have been reading this blog for a long time, you might remember some other posts that set the stage.;;; and  In a nutshell, Andrew and I met in our last couple of years of undergraduate school at the University of Utah.  He came up with this crazy scheme during his first year of gainful employment and my first year of law school.    We did not know how to sail.  We did not have any money.  And we had never actually touched a sailboat before.

So, what was the first thing we did to get started?  We got into debt.

Generally, law schools prohibit first year students from working.  There are some exceptions, but usually those exceptions are reserved for non-traditional students who must also support families.  And, I was more than happy to just focus on school and get a loan to cover the rest.

On the first day of school, the Dean penciled out the calculation of what a pizza costs if it is purchased with student loan money.  He assumed the pizza cost $15.00, the student loan is subject to 5% interest annually, and the student would carry the loan for the full twenty year term.   ($15.00 pizza * 5% Interest = $0.75 additional cost for the pizza per year.)  Over twenty years, this doubles the cost of one pizza purchased with loan money.  That is an expensive pizza.  He explained that if you eat just one pizza per week throughout three years of school, you have volunteered your forty year old self to pay $4,680.00 in law school pizza costs. 

I listened to his discussion of pizza and pennies and it made some sense to me, but then again, a girl needs to eat!  Pizza.  I didn’t know my future self at the time, and I didn’t really sympathize with her $4,680.00 pizza debt plight.  Besides, isn’t she a fancy lawyer?  She can pay for my pizza.   

Borrowing from our future selves, we chugged along spending more than we earned at the time paying for tuition, books, room, board, pizza and spring break road trips. Andrew had a job, and eventually I got a job but that money went into the same pile.  The pile used to spend whatever we felt like spending, whenever we felt like spending it. 

My 24 year old self regrets nothing.

By early 2006, my future self was still blissfully unaware of the indentured servitude for which I’d volunteered her.  In fact you can enjoy this lovely journal excerpt I found in which my 25 year old self breaks the news to my future-fancy-lawyer self and gives her a pep talk for what is in store. The “suck-it-up and get going” pep talk.

What is childhood but the time in a person's life devoted to preparing for real life?  Childhood ends the day that a person is forced to figure out how to survive on his or her own.  Real life creeps in much earlier for some than for others. For me, that day began May 24, 2006. Previously, my parents or my lender fed me.  (Thank you, parents/lender.)  Money, food, housing, water, lights, heat, and even sometimes air conditioning appears before me through someone else's gift - with the expectation that someday in the future I will earn all I had already been given. Starting May 24, 2006, I am expected to feed myself and others if I can.  I am expected to repay my lenders, and pay forward my parents ample good will.   I am now, for the first time, on my own.

Luckily for me, I have had almost 25 years before I had to face this reality, and I think now I am adequately prepared.  I have a job and good credit.  I have been challenged and punished, so hopefully, I can take the bumps of adulthood in stride. My mom forced me to buy toilet paper a few years ago, so the shock of spending good money on paper you throw into the toilet has since faded.  Here goes nothing. I guess I'm an adult now.

Also, for the record, I played the slowest rendition of the National Anthem at our graduation.  The crowd was singing slightly slower than I was playing, so I slowed down to match them.  Then they slowed down to match the slightly slower pace at which they had been singing previously, which then caused me to slow down to match them.  I was awesome.  I hope I get to play the piano to a crowd singing the National Anthem again someday.  I'd like a second opportunity to break the record for the world's slowest rendition of the National Anthem.

Good luck with the bar exam, Fancy Lawyer Self.