Warmshowers, the dream, and the budget

Here is Steph considering the lilies with a warmshower host in Nebraska.  This is my kind of back yard!

When Steph and I rode our bikes across America, we stayed at lots of people’s houses for free through a website called Warmshowers.org.  Basically this is how it worked:  Steph and I would call up a potential Warmshower host a couple of days in advance, and ask if we could take a shower at their house and camp in their backyard.  The blessed Warmshower hosts would audibly roll their eyeballs over the phone, and then let us know that would not permit us to camp in their yard when they had a comfy guest bedroom ready for us.  Please.  This is America!

Then, when Steph and I arrived all bedraggled from riding one hundred miles through the heat, the Warmshower hosts would have dinner all ready for us, and we would chat until 11 or 12 that night talking about our adventures and theirs.  And when Steph and I woke up the next morning they would have breakfast ready for us, and maybe some cookies for the ride.  Many times they did our laundry too.  It boggles the mind.

Here is Steph staying at some Warmshower hosts in Colorado.  

If you ever doubt the goodness of the people of the United States of America, all you have to do is ride across it and stay at Warmshowers.  This Land is my kinda land.

Anyway, when Steph and I got back from our trip we occasionally were lucky enough to have some touring cyclists stay with us.  Delightful company.  I would recommend it to anyone.

Once, when we were living in Georgia, this family from France asked if they could spend a night at our house.  A Dad, a Mom, two delightful children.  They were all taking a year off of everything and bike touring across Canada and the United States.  When they arrived in Canada, only the Dad spoke English with any proficiency, but by the time they made it to our house in Georgia, the whole family was fluent.  They told us about their adventures biking across our strange and wonderful land as a family.

My mind exploded into a thousand bright and hopeful pieces.

Could we do something like that too?  Would it even be possible?

Well, the answer is probably not.  Bike touring is cheap.  You do not have to be a millionaire to ride a bike and camp.  Once you get a nice-ish bike and become accustomed to sleeping on the ground, you are pretty much on the other side.  The trick is, you have to quit your job for a year.  Or more.

And just quitting work takes a level of moxy that only comes from being financially independent.  Or completely nutso.  Or French, apparently.

On the internets, being financially independent is shortened to “FI.”  There is a whole chapter of the internet dedicated to people who have quit work in their early 30s and are now traipsing around the world being retired as their main profession.  These people have written extensive “how to” blogs, led by the irascible Mr. Money Mustache.  If you read a couple of Mr. Money Mustache’s blogs, you will feel that becoming financially independent is only a couple of good decisions and a few years away.  Like seven years, not twenty.

I have read the entire blog.  Every post.  Marvelous stuff.  Lots of good natured cursing.

But I am 36 now, with three kids, and our family is not even close to FI.  Today though, Steph sat down with a budget, and told me that she wanted to track exactly how much money we spent this month.  I think after we are done with this month’s tracking, we will sit down together and determine what FI looks like for us.  How much money do we need stored away to support our family’s extravagant lifestyle?  And how long will it take for us to store that money away?

And to me, that is an added benefit of choosing to go without a car for a year.  Going car-free is a purposefully and unnecessarily hard thing to do.  and, in some way, I feel like doing this unnecessary hard thing is a first step towards doing other hard-ish things, like taking an unblinking look at our finances and how much money we are actually spending versus saving.  And that is a first step towards reaching that mythical FI promised land.

Stay tuned.  That means “subscribe to the blog”

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