Cashflow FI: More Flexibility with Your Money and Schedule

Want more flexibility with your budget and life? Learn how mastering your cash flow brings you closer to financial independence and freedom!

How to Have More Options with Cashflow FI

It can be a challenge to break out of the paycheck to paycheck cycle. One recent survey found that 64% of Americans are in that cycle; that's nine and half million more than 2021.

You might be thinking that it is because of income and for sure that’s a major issue, but your income is only part of the equation.

Fortune reported that over half of Americans earning $100,000 or more are living paycheck to paycheck.

Again there are various reason why people are struggling even with a healthy income and we’ll cover a few of them here in future episodes, but one big factor is they haven’t taken the time to prioritize their spending.

Whether you’re looking to pursue financial independence or something in the more traditional time frame, you have to master your cash flow.

When you have a gap between what you’re spending and earning while still enjoying life, you’re giving yourself more options and flexibility with your budget and schedule.

It’s not automatic though, it’s skill you have to learn.

That’s why I’m happy to have Cody Berman on today’s show.

He's the co-founder of the Financial Independence Show and the co-founder of Gold City Ventures.

In this episode, we’ll cover:

  • why financial independence is more than just leaving the rat race
  • diversifying your income in a way where you’re not trading your time for money
  • why Cody is focused on cash flow FI vs waiting to hit a more traditional FI number

We have a lot to go over, so let’s get started!

Resources to Hit Your FI Number Faster

Ready to knock out your debt? Check out these tools and resources to easily manage your family’s finances!

If you want to chat more about creating better money habits, questions, or share your own tips, please join us at Thriving Families on Facebook. We’d love to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Join our coffee group ☕: Get access to exclusive behind the scenes videos, chats, and more!
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in four weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

How to Be Happy with Your Money and Enjoy Life

Do you have a huge financial goal you’re chasing, but you’re not sure how to fit it in with everything you have going on right now?

Learn how you can be happy with your money and your life!

Finding a Healthy Balance with Your Money and Your Life

One of the biggest challenges when working on family and financial goals is finding that balance.

It can be easy to go from one extreme to another without even realizing it.

Before we started knocking out our debts, I wouldn’t say I gave much attention to finances.

However, there’s another extreme where you’re completely focused on your financial goals. It can get to the point where you say, ‘We’re going to do this when we pay this debt off, or have this much invested, or XYZ‘, you get the idea.

This approach can rob you of joy of the journey and can add undue stress to your family.

Taking care of your family and financial goals can be enjoyable. It can also be more holistic, improving different areas of your life, including social, mental health, and more.

That’s why I’m thrilled Jason Vitug is on the show today. He’s the author of You Only Live Once, and his new one one, Happy Money Happy Life.

In this episode we’ll:

  • look at finances through a holistic lens
  • share how you can make sure that you're enjoying the journey
  • how to take care of yourself and your family

We have a lot to cover, so let’s get started!

Resources to Find More Balance with Your Health and Wealth

If you’re ready to jump into the year and knock out some of your health and wealth goals, here are a few of my favorite.

If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families.

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

We've been members for years and love their service and competitive rates on checking and savings accounts!

Happy Money = Happy Life?

Jason Vitug, the author of “Happy Money, Happy Life,” emphasizes the importance of financial wellness, which goes beyond just achieving financial goals and milestones.

Financial wellness is about living a purposeful life that aligns with your values and desires. He believes that financial wellness is not just about wealth, but also about mental, emotional, and social wellbeing.

While money is a tool to build a life you love, it should not be the sole focus of your life.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for a conversation about financial wellness, and Jason hopes to start this conversation by sharing his story and the stories of others to help people understand that money is just one component of a happy life.

Here's a transcript of our conversation, edited for clarity and brevity. You can also watch our interview on YouTube!

The Intersection of Money, Health, and Happiness

Elle Martinez: I do think there needs to be more conversations about that intersection of money, your health, all facets of that, your life and how it fits in.

On one hand, I feel like in the personal finance space, there's a little bit of an extreme, and I get it. Like many of us have started with debt, and so we have that intense focus at first, right?

But then you get into the cycle and you're almost just chasing the numbers. At a certain point it's like, well, what are you chasing? Are you chasing your FI number? Are you chasing, I need to have this amount in my bank account. Why?

What I've always appreciated and respected with what you've done, Jason, is you've highlighted. ‘That's good. Get your finances in good spot, but always remember your why.'

Even in this book you talk about financial wellness, but then also I love this a purposeful life.

Like what is your money doing for you? I say on the podcast, money is a tool and use it like such. It's not the goal, it's a tool to build a life that you love.

Let's just start off with that term, financial wellness. What does financial wellness?

Understanding Financial Wellness

Jason Vitug: I love that because when I started talking about financial wellness over a decade ago, people looked at me like I had 10 heads. They're like, financial wellness, like how does that even, like, how are those two words together?

I knew back then that it was much more than financial numbers, that it's much more than these milestones associated with money that ultimately, we set these financial goals, these milestones.

because we wanna live a specific life and we tend to take away or take out that conversation of like, what type of life do you actually want to live? And that has a lot to do with cultural, societal marketing pressures on kind of setting these goals.

Just like when you talked about all these people, with tremendous amount of debt.

I was in a tremendous amount of debt and I figured my way out of it and realizing achieving debt freedom isn't the answer to kind of like what is missing in my life.

Certainly that was a distraction from what I wanted to accomplish, but once you achieve your financial milestones, it's so essential for us to understand underlying why, and so when I go out there and I talk to people about financial wellness.

It is about your health. It's about your wealth, it's about the overall quality of the life that you are living so you can be the richest person in the world.

Some of the richest people in the world are suffering mentally and emotionally. They're suffering socially and, and all these other aspects of their wellbeing.

That is the message that I have spoken about for over a decade. And I continue to talk about, but now I'm adding layers because more and more.

They do wanna talk about money. Yeah. But they also wanna talk about how money relates to other aspects of their life. And I think this is like primetime, especially what we've all gone through in the last couple of years. With the pandemic and the shutdowns and, and how that's affecting so many aspects of our lives.

I really wanted to kind of hone in on this conversation and say, Hey, listen. There's a foundation that we can start with and let me share my story.

Let me share the stories of other people so you understand that you're not alone and that money is just one component of this happiness piece that you're searching for.

Once we can fully have this amazing conversation about your finances, we can then dive deeper into these other things.

Enjoying Your Financial Journey

Elle Martinez: Yeah. Oh, there's so many good points there. I think for me, like in in my community, a lot of us are parents with young kids, and so something that resonated with me and with others and that I appreciate about you is getting your finances a good spot, but enjoying the journey.

You talk about milestones and reaching it, and I cheer on any family that they're paying off, the unnecessary debt or working towards financial independence.

But sometimes I feel like in the personal finance space, the way we talk about it, it's almost like an on off switch. Like, oh, my problems will go away. Or if you have this, you'll have the life you want.

What you've been doing is saying, Hey, as you're getting these pieces in place, options open up, opportunities to say yes to things that you really wanna do, and also you have a little more freedom to say no.

Just thinking with the pandemic, unfortunately, if a family was not in a good financial space, many of them had to make choices like their physical health and, and risking, while going to work. Or taking care of their family.

I love how you go with the nuances and as you say, the layers. Cause I think finances are – I know it sounds cliché – it really is personal.

What is important to you in that season of life? What is your priority right now? And having those conversations with yourself, with your family, that way you can kind of hone in on what is the best next step for you.

I'm really thrilled about how you're approaching this book.

Change is a Part of Life

Jason Vitug: Absolutely. Because that's a key thing, is that our lives changes and it changes because of the decisions that we make and the choices that we make, but also with external factors we have no control over.

I think it was a wake up call for the majority of people in this world in terms of there are things that we can control and things that are out of our control, but people who had their finances in order were able or better suited to weather the pandemic.

Now, that doesn't mean they had it all together because I have spoken to so many people and I've written their stories in happy money, happy life, those who were financially well, who weren't mentally or emotionally prepared wow.

Or who became socially isolated, how that affected their happiness and their wellbeing, and ultimately affected their finance.

So they came in going, ‘I'm in a good financial situation and eventually finding themselves in a financial mess because mm-hmm. , other aspects of their wellbeing wasn't taken care of.'

Then there were others who were suffering financially, but they had a strong social network, a deep connection with their family deep connections with their friends, and they were able to weather it quite better in other aspects of their wellbeing.

So for me, getting the book out and getting this message that finances is really just one component of our wellbeing. And then there are other aspects.

It's the eight dimensions of wellness. So when we talk about your wellbeing, it's not just finances, it's mental, emotional, physical, environmental, spiritual, occupational and social wellbeing.

In the book actually wrote about these wellness dimensions and how money weaves itself. Yeah. Through, through all of it and how we can utilize money to improve different aspects of our wellness.

And so like the whole premise is that money can buy happiness when we spend on wellness.

One thing I want people to understand, Wellness is what you do today. It's not what you're thinking of what you will do five years from now, 10 days from now. It actually is, how are you taking care of yourself today?

So when you're talking about my first book, yolo, which is, you know, that whole premise that you can have a good life today while planning for a better tomorrow.

This is part of that conversation to say, well, yes, we need to take care of ourselves today. Wellness is really about an active pursuit and so we can't say,' okay, I'll take care of my mental health later on once I get my money together. I'll take care of my relationships with my parents later when I get my money together.'

Because, you know, anything can happen. And so part of that is saying, okay, well, not to overwhelm. But if we can focus and understand and quantify all the aspects of what makes you, you, you can then utilize your time, your resources, your finances in a way that will positively affect your experiences, your joy, your happiness.

Building Flexibility Into Your Finances

Elle Martinez: absolutely. And I love that because like you mentioned, we all go through like different seasons and cycles and one thing I Appreci is when you have a certain area in a good spot, you can kind of take your foot off the pedal and give attention to this.

For example, we'll use finances, like when you have your financial system mostly automated, right? So you can take care of the bills, your investments, your savings, whatever. That gives you time.

Okay. I need to have time to focus with, for example, like our kids when we had to do the remote learning, that was an adjustment. But it was good knowing, I took care of this so now this season let me take care of this.

It is a bit of shifting and changing but tho those are good things cuz you grow from them, you learn from them. A lot of times is as you're improving this, you take something from this that will help you in this other area. But I love those dimensions that you brought up with your heart, your relationships, social for you.

You've seen people who've done tours and believe you wrote like it took five years researching this and looking into this. Yeah. What were some of the bigger mistakes you noticed or patterns and habits people were having that was sabotaging their progress?

Whether it's finances or just overall their wellness?

Focus on Your Why, Not Just The Goal

Jason Vitug: Yeah, so one of the key things, I think we, we talked about it earlier on, which is just focusing solely on financial numbers.

Mm-hmm. . So people have this idea that once we reach a financial goal or that milestone, it solves everything. And it does not.

I've talked about couples who believed that once they achieved their financial independence number, that they were golden, like everything was gonna work out.

So I shared a story of a fi couple. They're quite popular and I won't name their names cuz they did talk to me in anonymity but one of the key things was they talked about achieving this fi fine number, sacrificing all the joys to reach it sooner rather than later.

And then coming out in the last couple of years that they were getting a divorce and realizing that their focus on achieving financial numbers. Took them away from actually developing their relationships, getting to know one another through the process.

And so both of them said, if I can take this back, because they both care about each other. Mm-hmm. .

It was just realizing that if we can take the time back that we wouldn't be as aggressive in trying to achieve this fine number. We would've spent time to go out, explore. We would've gone out on more romantic dates so they can get to know each other through the process.

They realize that they had all these financial dates. And I think a lot of money people talk about you need to have a financial date with your partner and have these discussions. I think that is essential. But all your dates shouldn't just have to be about numbers. yes. We should not be about numbers.

I think that is the general kind of consensus within the personal finance space. Like everything has to be filter solely by finances.

When you get your finances in a way, and I'm not talking about achieving financial independence, I'm talking about when you get to your finances where you feel comfortable, you feel a bit secure.

We need to get to a point where we need to start addressing all these other aspects of it. It's like the romantic aspect of a relationship, not just the financial aspect. And so that's one of the stories that I shared because it was really important.

I think we highlight these financial milestones and we see it in social media, and we see it in traditional mainstream media.

And you'll say, oh yeah, someone who's 28 achieved financial independence and then when you go and you have these one-on-ones, and I mentioned to you that, and you mentioned that I've traveled all across the country.

I get these private conversations with people and they know I'm the guy who talks about happiness and joy and money, and they tell me, I don't know how to be happy and I achieve the numbers, but how do I let go of it?

That's part of the programming and an obsession. And I get it, money is stressful and yeah. But there are other things that, that we can do. So with that said too, like I really bear it all in this book.

Like , you thought I shared things during my talks or my first book. This one, I really bear it all.

When we were talking about family and finances, I really wanted to share very specific story that relates to money and trying to filter everything through money.

So my mom and I, we were planning to go to the Philippines to go visit my grandmother, my Lola. Yeah. And this was before the pandemic 2019. And so we were gonna go around the holidays and my parents being in a very specific like fixed finances, they're retired and their preexisting conditions and things like that.

Well, I told my parents,' oh yeah, we can go. I can go with my mom and we'll travel the 24 hours to get to the Philippines.'

And of course during the holidays it's very expensive to travel, you know? Yeah. 10,000 miles away and I decided kind of blindly, it's like, ‘oh, we can, we can kind of push it.'

And me talking to my mom and she's like, ‘yeah, I think that's too expensive to go during the holidays. Mm-hmm. let's wait a few months. Let's wait in April. ‘

Oh. And we all know what happened in March of 2020. Wow. So 2020, everything closed. We were unable to travel.

My grandmother passed away in July, 2020. And so for me that was a reminder to stop filtering everything based on finances and the last conversation and I recall having with my mom was like, ‘oh yeah, we, we got a good deal to go in April versus going in December.'

And I can tell you right now, I would be willing to pay that thousand, $1,500 extra per ticket to be able to go hug my Lola one last time. Yeah.

That was kind of one of those things where I, I push back and I remind people, I'm like, listen, I understand we all have financial constraints.

We all have financial goals and, and finances. Mm-hmm. , whether we agree with it or not, is woven into our society in a way.

It's very hard to extract ourselves from it, but when we get to a point, we really have to assess things, not just through the financial lens.

I tell everyone, I'm like, oh, yeah, I value family above all else. But I'm gonna tell you, in that decision, I put finances over family values. Mm-hmm.

I share that and continue to hold that in my heart and my spirit to hopefully remind people that I understand that there are financial predicaments.

But if we can have a more holistic conversation when it comes to your life, let's have that.

Because there, there are, and I've learned this, there are many ways for us to, to earn back the money. Mm-hmm. Might not be easy but certainly we need to get away from filtering every decision solely based on money. Yeah.

Elle Martinez: Wow. I really appreciate you sharing that. I know that's, that's incredibly tough.

Mm-hmm. . But it's a reminder for all of us, to prioritize. I know I've struggled with that. Writing about finances over a dozen years, you're around people who talk about finances but not forgetting the important things, the people that matter in your life is absolutely crucial.

That lesson that you learned, do you think that motivated you to take this trip that you most recently, like, don't wait, don't put it off.

Jason Vitug: Yeah, it, it, it did and I think, mm-hmm. Part of that was me going on my last trip to a place, to a location on Mother Earth that I've always wanted to go.

I love history going to Greece, going to Istanbul and Israel and, and Petra and Jordan and the pyramids in Egypt.

Like all this were, were childhood dreams and for some reason I held off doing that. Don't ask me why. Like I have been to so many parts of the world and I love to travel. Don't ask. And I'm still asking myself like, why did it take me this long?

I think part of it was something I've always wanted to do as a child and being able to do it. I was like, okay, I'll, I'll, I'll get to it. I'll get to it at the perfect time. I'll get to it when I'm not working so much.

I'm not going around and doing speaking gigs, or I'm not writing a book or what have you. And I said to now is the perfect time.

And it may not be, quote unquote, the best time because it's right in the middle of launching my second book, but it was like the perfect time because I needed the mental, emotional and, and physical Focus in terms of like taking some time off so I can, I can kind of process things.

So yes, that definitely did play a role in it. I still did get a bargain on this trip. I mean, seven countries four or five weeks traveling and it didn't bust the budget. So those things are still really quite possible.

But my whole aim and goal was mm-hmm. . when, trying to find the time to do the things that matter and that's most important. And that reinvigorating me to go out there and, and share this message of holistic wellness and reminding people that, yeah, the perfect time is often the time that we just choose to start.

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I know sometimes it gets lost in a shuffle when you're talking about like financial independence or financial freedom because it's not about the money goal, it's buying back time or getting that time so you could decide how you're going to use it.

I think that's incredible. When I was looking at your pictures, first of all, you know, definitely Instagram worthy for the trip. I was like, oh my goodness. It's so gorgeous the pictures you were taking. But I sense, you know, I didn't know the story with your grandmother or anything beforehand, but I sense like it was a deeper trip that other than, Hey, look at me.

I'm here, I'm taking the picture.

there was joy with yours, pictures, there was this all. I mean, you were just like there taking it all in and it somehow like just came through the comments and the posts that you were putting there. I was definitely inspired. I was cheering on.

Jason Vitug: That's awesome! Can I tell you, when I walked up the Acropolis in Athens and being one of those like reading so much ancient Greek mythology through the years and. I couldn't stop smiling, and if you look at my photos and videos, I just, I couldn't stop smiling and I'm still smiling right now.

And a lot of that had to do with as I mentioned, is just being immersed in it for so long and wanting do it, and finally being there and taking the moment to kind of just sit and stare at the Acropolis.

And yes, it, it did get emotional for me and just thinking about what happened in the last two, three years.

Cuz I go I like to tell people that, a lot of us that have kind of public facing personas and businesses mm-hmm. We tend to focus on the positive aspects of of things, and that has just a lot to do with also keeping ourselves going through, through the daily grind.

But I like to tend to share with people that I'm very reflective. Like I do a lot of self-reflection. I do a lot of reminiscing and sharing my thoughts. Yeah. So whenever I do travel, it's not just so, Hey, look at me at this wonderful site. It's, this is the experience that I'm having and this is the thoughts that are running through my mind.

This is the joy that I'm feeling in my heart. Yeah. And part of that too, . It's kind of to emphasize also my message and my philosophy with others that mm-hmm. things don't have to be going right all the time.

Everything doesn't have to be falling into place for you to do what matters to you and sometimes doing what matters to you puts everything right back where it needs to be.

You come back reinvigorated and the problem that you thought was insurmountable, the problem or the issues you thought you couldn't get through, now you have a whole set of new perspectives and so I'm a big believer in travel.

I'm a big believer in having conversations with awesome people like yourself and, oh, thank you and kinda listening to podcasts and reading books because it provides our mind new inputs, new data, where we can then assess our current situation differently.

I say this because one of the dimensions of wellness, Is mental health, mental wellness, which I call happy mind.

What I've learned is that it is essential for us to have new experiences. It's essential for us to push the boundaries of our thoughts to constantly learn, and we can learn through podcasts, through audio books, through reading books, through conversations, through workshops and seminars.

We need to keep putting ourselves out there and one biggest things that people can do is travel, and you don't even have to travel across the world, you can go to a neighboring city or town and kind of figure out, hey, what's this town known for?

Let me gain some experiences and have some conversations with some locals and, and things like that. So part of that is going, you don't have to wait for the financial number.

You don't have to wait for the perfect time. It's just a matter of prioritizing what's important to you and finding the time and the resources to make it happen.

Elle Martinez: Absolutely. Wow. This is a great way to end the conversation, but there's so much more to talk about.

But definitely grab this book. Happy Money, happy life. The theme this season of the podcast, Jason's actually living reaching for your rich life. Yes. And it's not just the numbers with it, but actually enjoying it and having those experiences.

As you mentioned, like everyone has something different. It could be travel. I know some people love to garden, write, read, you know, there's so many different dimensions to us besides, where we work at.

Jason Vitug: I do wanna add one thing and because this is, you talk a lot with family, and so I want pe people with families I think we all have families in some capacity whether you're in a relationship, you have kids, you have your parents I live in a multi-generational household. I think many of us Yeah, do as well.

One of the key things that I've realized, is that when we prioritize experiences, when we prioritize creating memories, when we prioritize things that that add value in our lives, it actually enriches the lives of the people in our household.

So when I'm traveling, my parents are excited. My siblings, my nieces are all excited and so don't look at treating yourself. And, and kind of following your dreams as being selfish.

Think of it as in a way of being selfless to yourself in terms of, okay, like you, you get that opportunity to live your rich life. Define what that rich life is. Because once you live that rich life, it actually starts affecting everyone else.

I want families to take that in and say, okay, well there, there are financial goals, but understand you want to figure out how to have those experiences with your families, how you can create more memories cuz memories appreciate, stuff depreciates.

Focus on the things that appreciate over time, the things that they can carry over with them because those things last forever.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Join our coffee group ☕: Get access to exclusive behind the scenes videos, chats, and more!
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in four weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Photos by Daniel Torobekov and Tatiana Syrikova

Family Trips: How We Do Low-Key Travel with Kids

Getting ready to travel with your kids this year? See how you can have less stress and more fun with your next family vacation!

How to Low Key Travel with Kids

Travel with kids is an interesting experience.

If you’re a parent I think you understand that dichotomy of those magical moments where you feel like you’re connecting with your kids, seeing something incredible for the first time together, or they’ve discovered something and it gives you a fresh perspective on something you may have looked over.

And then there’s the car fights, cranky and exhausted airport, and schedule overload.

I want to share five ways you can have more fun and less stress on your next family vacation!

How Fill Your Family Trip with Fun

Let’s start of with planning out your trip because it’s so easy to go over budget and overschedule when you’re trying to keep everyone happy.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with Everyday Bucket List author Karen Cordaway about how families can have more meaningful and fun experiences. In her book, she has a ton of ideas and systems that you can use and one of my favorties is step seven about how to FILL Your time with fun.

Karen offers a way to plan your trips so you’re still having and enjoying unique experiences and keeping to your financial goals.

Free

What’s better than free?

Obviously going for some free options definitely helps with the vacation budget, but something else to consider is the example we set with our kids. I think it’s wonderful to show them that you don’t always have to spend money to do something fun.

Besides the usual parks and beach options, you may be surprised to see that are some wonderful ways to hang out together. Check out to see if local museums have free days or tours.

Depending on where you are, walking tour of historical areas or exploring architecture can be fun. While I was in a conference for work in Chicago, my husband Rob did a self guided tour with our firstborn checking out the location inspirations for the Dark Knight movies.

Interesting

You’ve seen those lists online, 10 things to do when you’re at___, 72 hours in___, and so on.

While those lists can sometimes include tourist traps or crazy-expensive options, there are usually a gem or two in there that may grab your attention.

This is more of personal preference, which I think makes it a more meaningful trip. You could for example do a half day tour of consignment shops or local zoo.

Our oldest is a huge fan of red pandas so whenever we’re in Asheville, we take her to the Western North Carolina Nature Center.

Local

Here’s where you really need to talk to a local or friends who have been there. What special festivals or features do they have in town?

Recently we went to Burnsville, NC in the fall to enjoy the changing of the leaves. There’s something amazing about being in the mountains where you can see waves of autumn colors.

It’s a really popular thing and yes, it was busy. We had originally planned to be at Mt Mitchel on Saturday, but it was full even before lunch. (We went the next day.)

Another feature of the town is it has a Dark Sky Observatory. Not having the light pollution of a big city meant you can get incredible views of the stars.

Heads up, tickets go fast, which found out the hard way. Thankfully we had an AirBnb near there and brought our telescope. An amazing evening for us and the kids.

Low-Cost

Everyone is different, but one of my favorite things to do when scouting is see if there are any local spots that have cheap deals on certain days.

This includes food. We’ve found that that happy hour of 4-6pm can be a sweet spot for deals. We grab a bite with the kids and head out for a little more exploring.

Don’t Overload Your Schedule

As for planning, my final tip would be avoid over-scheduling your itinerary, and let everyone choose an activity.

If you’re doing a long weekend or day trip, pare it down.

Double Up with Your Family Trip

Finally, another way to enjoy our family trips more is by sharing a space with friends.

  • Sharing costs, you can reduce your costs significantly.
  • Depending on their age, kids can hangout and entertain themselves for a bit for those times you want to relax.

Now something you want to talk about with the other family is what activities you want to do together and which ones you’ll split up.

Having a clear idea of what to expect makes it easier for you to schedule.

Your Family Travel Plans

As you can see, there are some fantastic ways you can spend time together as a family on your vacation. I hope these help you have a memorable and meaningful time as family.

I'd love to hear from you! What trips are planning this year?

Photo Credit: Tatiana Syrikova

Busy Parents Guide to Adopting Healthy Habits

Do you feel you’re too busy to keep up with your health goals for this year? Check out this easy and effective way you can adopt healthy habits even if you're a busy parent!

Why We Parents Need to Prioritize Our Health

Being a work from home parent who homeschools, I have a full plate and you probably also do as well.

Guess what? That’s not a bad thing to have a schedule full of projects that you enjoy and people that are important to you.

The problem comes up when you start putting crucial things like your health on the back burner.

That's what I did these last few years; a big part of it was just dealing with this pandemic.

However, it looks like things are turning a new page and we're entering into a new phase. I want to change things up and give my attention back into getting into shape and adopting a healthier routine.

Besides the obvious medical and physical benefits of losing extra weight, there’s also this motivation of more time and energy to hang with my family and do more stuff.

I can't do that fully if I'm not taking care of my health.

This year I want to make space in my schedule to take care of those essentials. Here are three key goals I want to work towards:

  • Get to a healthy weight. (physical)
  • Find a sport/activity that I enjoy. (mental)
  • Schedule time to catch up with loved ones. (emotional)

If you want to see how that works, I'll break it down or you can watch my video.

Healthy Habits to Add to Your Routine

First off, you can absolutely do a deep dive and get into the weeds with your health and if that's your focus, go for it.

However for many parents, the idea of finding the most optimized routine tends to lead us to analysis paralysis. With too much to do and the toxic productivity culture's push to do more, it can either burn us out or not even want to try.

To counteract that, I decide was only going to focus on key habits.

Here are the two criteria for these habits:

  • there’s objective evidence of their effectiveness
  • it’s sustainable and realistic for a busy parent to do

When analyzing the data and reading expert opinions, I identified three key areas where we should focus our efforts.

In those areas, there are a few key habits that can improve physical, mental, and emotional health.

  • Create a consistent wind-down routine before you sleep.
  • Design room to be more sleep-friendly.
  • Limit how much processed food you eat.
  • Be mindful when you eat.
  • Stay hydrated, but be mindful of calories when you drink.
  • Focus on foods primarily from plants.
  • Staying active with a physical activity that you enjoy and will keep up with.
  • Incorporate strength training as part of your exercise routine

You may have already picked up on this, but can you guess what those critical three areas are?

I know, I know….

But that’s why I didn’t say pay attention to because pretty much everyone knows we need to exercise consistently plus sleep and sleep well, but how many actually follow through?

Data shows it’s not much at all.

So how do we break this cycle of quitting?

Turning Health Goals Into an Actual Plan

My chat with Rich about his amazing journey really motivated me to figure out how can I change my routine to align my schedule better towards those goals.

 Really it's making better choices and breaking things down into three key steps.

  • The first is making smart goals with my health.
  • Then taking those goals and breaking them down into key habits.
  • And then building up a system that makes it easier for me as a busy parent to move towards those goals.

Let's see how this would work for my goals.

Create SMART Goals

I’ve talked about this quite a few times, but I’m big fan of SMART goals.

One reason is that it’s an easy way to breakdown whatever goal you have into an action plan you can then use.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

I’m scheduling an annual physical to confirm what a healthy weight is for me, but as a ballpark I’m planning on losing 30 lbs of fat.

Because I’m looking for something sustainable and not interested in a crash diet, the timeline I set is mid-December, around our next anniversary. That means I’m looking at around 2 1/2 lbs month, certainly achievable.

Keystone Habits for Healthy Living

For eating, one huge keystone habit is meal planning.

If you want to get fit and build up your exercise routine, two keystone habits to consider are do it first thing in your day and move.

Pick one of those and follow through on it for at least a month.

Finally if you want to hone in on sleeping well, the keystone habit to give your attention to is creating a wind down routine. Find something that you enjoy that isn’t screen based to help you slow down and relax. It could be reading some fiction, journaling, or if you two have the same sleep schedule a conversation where you catch up.

Building Systems to Get Fit

The last key ingredient is creating systems.

Don’t worry, these aren’t crazy productivity hacks. Think of systems as an easy on-ramp to developing better habits.

Instead of trying to change everything at once, I’ll only be focusing on one habits from each category each month.

Why? Because I want something that is sustainable. I want to develop a habit not just cross something on my list.

If you follow a lot of productivity books, like James clear atomic habits and other experts, You've seen this trend as well where you're not going for these big swings necessarily, but each day you're moving in increments.

 That's what I'm doing with my healthy habits. I'm breaking them down into something that I can accomplish monthly and track.

Your Health Goals

I hope this give you a way to turn your health goals and create a game plan that fits your schedule.

I would love to cheer you on for your health goals. So please let me know in the comments! What are you working towards?

 If you want to join in, make sure you're subscribed. I will be posting more tips and interviews with others about how they've hit their health goals!

Fun and Affordable Bucket List Ideas for Your Family

How do you translate your wish list into an actual to do list? Learn how you can create an everyday bucket list and an incredible year!

Why Your Family Needs an Everyday Bucket List

One of my hopes for you and other families listening is show you how pursuing your financial goals doesn’t mean you have to put your life on hold.

There is a certain amount of intensity you need in that initial phase to knock out things like high interest debt. That doesn’t mean you completely sacrifice fun in your schedule.

There are ways you can enjoy trips, achieve some personal goals, and just have fun while you’re working towards those financial goals.

It takes some creativity, but it’s not overly complicated.

Everyday Bucket List author Karen Cordaway is on the show to show us how. As a busy working parent, she spent years struggling to find free time for herself.

Karen figured out how to reclaim her schedule and infuse more exciting bucket list experiences into her family’s everyday life.

In this episode, we’ll get into:

  • how you can create your everyday bucket list
  • creative ways to travel more without breaking your budget
  • strategies to help you

Let’s get started!

Resources to Create and Knock Out Your Everyday Bucket List

If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families.

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union! Come check out Coastal today if you’re living in the Raleigh Durham area and looking to bank better.

As a credit union, Coastal serves its members first and foremost including an annual loyalty bonus.

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Creating Your Family's Everyday Bucket List with Karen Cordaway

Elle Martinez: I love your book, the Everyday Bucket List. I feel like after the two and a half years, there's a lot of families that are just ready to enjoy the life again, whether it's travel, whether it's just hanging out with each other, but they're stuck. Right?

We've either or been stuck at home. We don't have any idea of what we wanna do. How do you come up with these ideas or we have a budget that we wanna keep?

I love how it helps you not just save bucket lists for like these big milestones or events, but put it into your everyday life.

What made you come up with this idea in particular? I mean, an everyday bucket list sounds awesome, but what was the genesis of that?

Karen Cordaway: Well, there's a few layers to it. The simple answer is I used to notice that my friends in New York or other big cities, they often wouldn't see those iconic things even though they live there for multiple years.

People in New York, you know, hadn't seen the Statue of Liberty. They didn't go to Ellis Island.

People in California not seeing Venice Beach or just other things that if anybody else went there, they'd try to soak all of this in. That struck me as, wow, they have that right there and they're not accessing it.

Another big life event is that I lost my mom and she was 60 and I just Oh, wow. Felt like, yeah, 60 to someone who's 30 might sound old, but when you think of people who live into their eighties and nineties, she really was young.

I go into depth in my book, the Everyday Bucket List book, but the short way to say it is life can be very short and we don't how long we have, so why not try to have fun and do the things we wanna do in everyday life or regularly?

Affordable Bucket List Ideas for Travel

Elle Martinez: I think, not that you wanna have a big life event motivate you, but the pandemic, when we were stuck at home, at least for a portion of time, made us reevaluate what was important.

We were trying to figure out. How can we make the most of this time that we are together? And we started for us traveling more.

But I love this idea of don't wait for those opportunities. Don't wait for, oh, when I'm, you know, this age or when I've paid off this debt, or I've accomplished this thing, I'm going to do this.

How can you even now have some extra fun, some extra joy, especially with families and still keep it affordable?

Karen Cordaway: Well, for myself, I live in New England. I'm lucky that the states are small so I can visit a bunch of states doing road trips. But if you're in a big state, I mean, sometimes you can go to another county or if you like road trips you could potentially drive to another state depending on how much time you have.

If you're willing to do that, I feel you can control your food. There's a lot of things you can stop, you can get out, you can go to the bathroom, things like that.

If you wanna fly domestically there are all different types of sites where you can try to find cheap deals. So here you're paying with time, with research and potentially, layovers might not be as fun.

I know when I would fly with my kids, I actually like the layover cuz it broke up the flight and we got to get off, go to the bathroom and not feel like you're squished in a little box. So much easier.

But you know, that's part of the sacrifice. If you can plan and research and maybe jot down when you can go away. There is a site you live in Raleigh.

I wanted to give you something that fit, if people are from your area, and I just found a simple, hop from Raleigh to Orlando, Florida. If you look on avelo.com and they will show there were flights that were starting at like $29.

Elle Martinez: Oh, nice.

How to Save on International Trips

Karen Cordaway: Yeah, so sometimes it's a one way, sometimes it's round trip or you have to play with the dates a little. I mean, you could leave on a Thursday and come back on a Monday. That's another way to keep it affordable if you keep it a little shorter. Right? We're not paying as much for accommodations and food and all of that.

If you wanna do like a nice little quick trip, that could be an option. You can look in your area and there's a site called secret flying.com.

What I like about this is it aggregates the different sites like Priceline and Sky Scanner. I like the way that you can search on this site because if you can be really flexible and leave out of a different airport, you can really land some deals on domestic flights and international.

I know you've been wanting to go to Spain and you're trying to see how you can make that work. There are flights. I know for me in my area outta New York, you can spend like 200 to 300 round trip, you know?

Flying out of Miami seems to save, so if you can fly out of a different airport that it's not so inconvenient and you could find a cheap flight, you're still saving a lot of money. Because when I look at the regular prices, you know, when it's like 600 per person, 800, 900, you know, two, $300 isn't gonna be a lot.

Maybe you tack on, like I say, another flight that could be affordable. That's, yeah, that's what you're gonna save. And it all comes back to your budget. What is your idea?

There's a woman called the traveling child on TikTok. Sometimes she just brings one child. She went to Paris with her daughter. They had this beautiful picnic lunch, near the Eiffel Tower.

And you have to think outside the box a little too. And I always tell people too, just go with your significant other, bring one kid. Or sometimes maybe you have to, you can't sit together on the plane or maybe, you take one kid, he takes another if you have to break it up or if somebody can't get off work.

It just depends on what your travel goals are and how flexible you are with certain situations. It's not like you always have to do that, but it can open things up so that you can really save a lot of money.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, that's, that sounds like a good idea. I totally enjoy what you're saying about, finding opportunities to be creative.

Taking Memorable and Meaningful Family Trips

For some families you have a big age gap so maybe doing a trip with your oldest might be easier for you and you have that one-on-one time, or going off season and taking some time off can get you a good deal, but you're still having those memorable experiences.

I love that because I don't think you should, I don't think it's an either or, right? Like you could still have a good time, find creative ways off season to kind of travel, but you know, still make it enjoyable. Still have it be memorable and meaningful.

Yeah. I love these tips. So you're one of those people I know that love to find deals and to explore new places. During the pandemic, were there any adventures, whether it was local or a little further off, that you really enjoyed and you're happy that you did?

Karen Cordaway: Absolutely. I absolutely loved Boston. It's one of my favorite cities. I have a whole Boston bucket list and I never stayed in the North End and my husband and I were checking like when we could go and we actually left on a Sunday. We just stayed one night. But I wanted to try a fancy hotel. It was like one of these unique places.

There was a deal because it was a Sunday and there weren't any like special events at the Garden in Boston where like the Celtics play and there's also like big concerts there. Mm-hmm. . So we hit it at a time where nothing was going on. Like I said, it was a Sunday to Monday, I believe it was indigenous People's Day.

We had that Monday off and it was just so much fun. Like I said, I'm close to Boston, so it's a little different.

The experience alone of the hotel and then there was like a celebrity chef restaurant right next door. There were so many things to do.

Something simple like that if you are just starting and venturing out, just practice staying at hotels that aren't that far away from you and you could have that total like spa experience or access to a pool that maybe people aren't there on that day.

I've done that during the winter. Sometimes I would just stay at hotels that were in a nice town in my own state and we're feeling like we have this warm vacation. We're in a pool, we're in our swimsuits and everybody else is like, you know, off on a snow day just doing whatever at home.

We got out the day before of the snowstorm and was like, Yeah, I wanna be chilling in luxury here. . .

Elle Martinez: Yeah. I did appreciate what I was reading your book, how there's certain things that if you go to a city or if you go to a place, you must see, but you're not stuck in just the tourist traps.

I saw that you had how to fill in your time for the free and the interesting and the low cost and the local things. I thought that was a fantastic way to approach it.

Then I also loved when you were going through the system with a bucket list. You talk about understand what you value. So I know for us, mentioned travel with this, but your bucket list book can be helpful for any kind of goal that a family has, right?

Karen Cordaway: Absolutely. I'm trying to learn another language. Mm-hmm and I'm also trying to figure out TikTok, which is really for everybody. It's not just young people dancing, even though that's super popular.

I've been looking at simple YouTube videos to learn the basics of the greetings and everything like that. But then I follow people who speak Italian. You can hit the C translation button and the words will be translated for you, so you hear the conversations in context. So instead of just repeating what somebody says on YouTube, whether you're saying, excuse me, or I'm sorry.

You can see how those are used differently in a language like Italian, it's very similar to Spanish. Like if you bump into somebody, you don't say, I'm sorry, you say, excuse me. And I just notice little things like that, that they will say, and I'm like, okay, I get how to use this now, or I see multiple examples of how this is used or how it's said with like a little emotion or a little punch to it.

So that's a great way. I think of it as a bucket list idea. I wanna learn Spanish and Italian, so. Mm-hmm. , like I said, going on TikTok, YouTube, that's easy, right? You could do that every day if you wanted and when you're planning your trip to go to one of these places, you already have like a foundation in the language.

Elle Martinez: Yeah, absolutely. So are you planning a trip soon to Italy?

Karen Cordaway: You know what, I'm really hoping to go for a 25th wedding anniversary. Nice. I'm currently researching If there's any way I could go sooner and I see a deal, I'm gonna, you know, go for it. I already I'm setting aside money for that.

So yes, I, I absolutely wanna do that. That's my goal. And I do feel motivated in kind of taking these little steps of trying to learn the language, trying to research and find areas that maybe I never heard of.

Like you're saying, I don't always wanna do the touristy things. I went there for my honeymoon, so that's why I wanna go back.

Elle Martinez: Oh, okay. Gotcha, gotcha. Yeah, but I think great. Because like you said, it would be nice for the milestone 25th. That would be incredible. But if you find a deal before, like, why wait.

I think it's important also to mention for those listening that yes, and Karen is too, like I, I do talk about, you know, paying off unnecessary debts, making sure you have your emergency fund, but just as important, I do think in your budget should be things where you spend their planned spending. Things that matter to you, experiences that bring you joy because it is a balance.

It's a balance of taking care of the now, planning for the future, but then enjoying what you have in front of you.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Join our coffee group ☕: Get access to exclusive behind the scenes videos, chats, and more!
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in four weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Enjoying a Rich Life: Prioritizing Your Health

Has the last few years been a much for you and it’s taken a toll on your health? See how you can enjoy a rich life by getting healthy and fit!

The Challenge: Fit at 40ish

These past three years have been quite the ride. The pandemic has definitely affected me.

Nothing dramatic, but when you put it together I can see how things have shifted. Good and bad.

I have family and friends who are vulnerable to COVID because of health issues they already had, so I’ve been more cautious and that’s translated to me worrying a bit more.

On the plus side, I knew that social isolation wouldn’t be good for me or my family we started meeting up with others outdoors. I believe that was real helpful with keeping in touch with our friends and getting that fresh air.

Same thing with eating. On the plus side we cooked and ate more at home, but looking at the meals we picked, comfort foods topped the list.

Again, nothing crazy, but you stack these together for a few years and it starts. I see it on the scale, with my energy levels, and more.

So I’m turning that around this year and I’m prioritizing my health. Because I think it’s a core component to that rich life we talked about last week.

I want to enjoy hanging with our kids, become more active, and maybe find a new activity or hobby.

Besides the obvious physical benefits of getting fit, there’s also a mental and an emotional boost when you’re taking care of yourself that spills over to other areas of your life.

Which is why I’m thrilled to have Rich Jones on the podcast. He’s the award-winning creator founder of Find More Balance and the Mental Wealth Show where he discusses holistic health for high achievers.

A few years ago, Rich had his own transformation. By focusing on his mental and physical, Rich had some incredible personal and professional wins.

In this episode we’ll get into:

  • Rich’s amazing journey of sobriety to becoming a national track champion
  • healthy habits you can adopt to have meaningful improvements to your health
  • how to take and make your health goals into reality

We have so much to cover, so let’s get started!

Resources to Get Healthy

If you’re ready to jump into the year and knock out some of your health and wealth goals, here are a few of my favorite resources and includes what we covered in the podcast.

If you’d like to chat more your money system, please join us in our private and free Facebook group – Thriving Families.

We’re families looking to support and help one another out.

Hope to see you there!

Thank You to Our Sponsor Coastal!

Support for this podcast comes from Coastal Credit Union!

If you live in the Triangle area of North Carolina and you’d like someone to work with you on your goals, you really want to check out Coastal’s Wealth Management team.

They’d love to help you start investing for retirement and more!

Focus on Systems, Not Just Healthy Habits

After my discussion with Rich, I was inspired. I hope you are too. It’s amazing how prioritizing his health snowballed into so many other opportunities.

But here’s the big challenge we face: actually following through. How do you do it?

To jumpstart things, I’ll share how I’m breaking down my goals into habits and then into system. You can hopefully work through your goals and setup yours.

Create SMART Goals for Your Health

something I took away from my chat with Rich is think beyond the numbers when it comes to health. I need to look at my health holistically.

So for this year here are three key goals I want to work towards:

  • Get to a healthy weight. (physical)
  • Find a sport/activity that I enjoy. (mental)
  • Schedule time to catch up with loved ones. (emotional)

Let’s turn these into SMART goals.

I’ve talked about this quite a few times, but I’m big fan of SMART goals. One reason is it’s an easy way to breakdown whatever goal you have into an action plan you can then use.

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-Based

Let's see how that break down for one my goals.

I’m scheduling an annual physical to confirm what a healthy weight is for me, but as a ballpark I’m planning on losing 30 lbs of fat.

Because I’m looking for something sustainable and not interested in a crash diet, the timeline I set is mid-December, around our next anniversary. That means I’m looking at around 2 1/2 lbs month, certainly achievable.

This goal is relevant to me because I want to improve my quality of life by enjoying more activities with my family and friends.

Polishing up, my SMART goal would look like this:

I want to lose 30lbs by December 15, 2023.

Keystone Habits for Healthy Living

Now that you have a goal you're working towards, let's look at which habits can help us achieve it.

For my goal, I need to focus on two area: exercising more and eating better.

For eating, one huge keystone habit is meal planning.

Building Systems to Get Fit

The last key ingredient is creating systems.

Don’t worry, these aren’t crazy productivity hacks. Think of systems as an easy on-ramp to developing better habits.

Instead of trying to change everything at once, I’ll only be focusing on one habits from each category each month. Why?

Because I want something that is sustainable. I want to develop a habit not just cross something on my list.

I truly hope this episode inspires you to prioritize your health.

Support the Podcast!

Thank you so much for listening to the podcast! If you enjoyed this episode and found it helpful, here are some ways to support it.

  • Spread the word! If you enjoyed this episode and think it can help a buddy get on the path to dumping debt and become financially free, please share.
  • Join our coffee group ☕: Get access to exclusive behind the scenes videos, chats, and more!
  • Leave a review. Honest feedback and reviews make a big difference and gets the word out about the podcast. Leave your review on Apple or Stitcher.
  • Grab a copy of Jumpstart Your Marriage and Your Money. My book is designed for a busy couple to set up their finances in four weeks. Get tips and tools that have worked for other couples on their journey of building their marriage and wealth together!

Photo by Ella Olsson

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