Inflection Points

The pulse of our lives slip through like water in streams,
And the pulse of our days slip through like water in streams.

In Streams, Centaur*

 

Our lives are mostly the same day in and day out.

  • Monday-Friday: Wake up, go to work, go to sleep.
  • Weekend: Get caught up on stuff, have a little fun and drink a couple beers.

Sometimes we go on a vacation to break up the pattern. Once in a great while, something happens and our lives change course. I call them inflection points:

Inflection point: A time of significant change in a situation; a turning point.

An inflection point may be planned or unplanned. It may be good or bad. The main point is that it is a new direction. I’ve been thinking about some of mine recently.

 

Inflection Point #1 (unplanned): J.D. Roth** and MMM**

One of my significant inflection points happened when I had a bad day at work back in 2012. A desperate Google search led me to J.D. Roth and Mr. Money Mustache. Their wisdom convinced me to pursue financial independence full throttle. Part of that pursuit involved ditching our ridiculously sized home in favor of something much more modest.

We sold our big home for $400,000+ and moved into a little fixer upper that set us back $175,000:

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-4-21-44-pm

$400,000 to $175,000

 

Inflection Point #2 (unplanned): We’re Staying

The little ugly house we bought was never going to be our permanent home. We had planned to fix it up and rent it out. Then a funny thing happened; my wife and I discovered that we liked the neighborhood. Unlike our previous neighborhood, our neighbors weren’t jerks and the street was quiet.

Instead of minor fixes and renting, we decided to make the home our own. We added space on top and redid the rest. The rehab turned out to be way more work than what we had planned, but once started, there was no turning back.

I planned to do most of the work, but told myself that I’d hire out if it got to be too much. That was a bad assumption. The Colorado economy is healthy and I couldn’t find anyone to hire for much of anything. 95% of contractors wouldn’t even return a phone call. Besides the rough carpentry, roof and drywall, I did all of the work.

beforeafter

Before and after

Inflection Point #3: We’re Done (time to get on with life)

As I type this, there is a crew outside my window replacing the dilapidated driveway. It was crumbling and needed to be replaced:

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-5-04-20-pm

After the concrete guys are done, I’ll install a new garage door and then:

We’re done!

It feels strange typing that. We’ve been working on the rehab since June of 2013. Since then, there hasn’t been a weekend that I’ve been home that I haven’t worked on the house. It consumed our lives. Looking back now, I’m not sure how we managed.

My wife and I had rehabbed homes, but it was before children. The mistake we made was trying to do this one with children. Since I didn’t want my children to have Cats in the Cradle syndrome, we still made plenty of time for them. While no person of sane mind would say that was a bad decision, it turned a 6 month project into 40 months.

2016 was the worst year. I abandoned my P90x workouts (and all other forms of exercise) in the spring. Library books collected dust next to the bed (I returned some without even reading one word). There just was no time.

But now, it’s all about to change and I can feel the stress lifting already. Time is so precious and I’ll finally have more of it. I’ve already resumed my P(uke)90x routine. I cracked open Sapiens the other night which I’ve been dying to read for a long time. This weekend, I’ll attend the Great American Beer Festival in Denver with friends.

So, one more time:

We’re done!

That is a good inflection point.

How about you? What inflection points caused a course correction?

 

 

*Anyone ever heard of Centaur or HUM (both led by Matt Talbott)? HUM is my favorite band and if the rumors are true, another album is coming. Happy happy, joy joy.

**This past summer at a meetup, I talked to both J.D. and MMM in person and simultaneously. That was strange and since I’m socially awkward, terrifying. Sorry guys if I didn’t make a lot of sense and talked really fast, but life doesn’t come full circle very often.

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60 Responses to Inflection Points

  1. Pribi says:

    Congratulations 🙂
    It is inspiring to see that you reached this inflection point.

  2. I must say, that was one impressive rehab. Kudos to you folks for making the jump to the smaller home and committing to stay.

    I had a similar inflection point as your first a few years ago, not triggered by a bad day at work, but somehow stumbling across MMM and slowly my eyes opened to the FI world.

    Other inflection points have been driven by moves and promotions for work and by having kids.

    Looking forward to the next big inflection point on the horizon, FI!
    The Green Swan recently posted…The Green StorkMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      I wonder how many people MMM has changed? It is interesting to think about. His audience is huge, but you have to receptive to the message. On the other hand, the secondary effects are massive. I call MMM “the blog that launched a million blogs.”

  3. Man I can’t imagine doing that much rehab work by myself, quite impressive. It’s always great to hit a milestone or inflection point, but my next step is usually to find the next one as it’s how I keep myself motivated. So now that your done with the house what’s the next goal? Ours recently was laying the groundwork for my wife to become a stay at home mom. We’re one week in on that so the jury is still out.

    • 1500 says:

      Nice work on the stay at home mom situation. That is a pretty great gift to give your children.

      My very first goal is to get back in shape. The scale says 170, but 155 works better on my narrow frame.

  4. Our inflection points tend to be moves–our work situation has demanded a few. It can be a little crazy, but I’m convinced that they stave off mid-life crises. Here’s to change. [clink]

  5. Danny says:

    I have been an avid reader of your blog since almost day one. Its been impressive to read how much you and your family have done, and changed, in the past three years.

    I am also a few months away from what I think will be an inflection point myself, and this blog has given me a lot of inspiration to do things I was not doing even a few years ago. Thanks so much for writing!

    • 1500 says:

      Danny, thanks so much for sticking with me all this time. I get a little emotional just thinking that someone has kept up with my journey this whole time. I’m glad I didn’t bore you to death!

      Best of luck on those future projects! Remember that we do our best and most meaningful work outside of our comfort zones. Now, go out there and kill it!

      • Danny says:

        Bore me to death? Ha! With a complete home renovation, rants, MS paint diagrams and dinosaurs…how could anyone be bored? 🙂 In any case, thanks so much, and wishing you and the 1500’s the best of luck too!

  6. You’re done! You’re done! Congratulations!
    Kate@GoodnightDebt recently posted…The Legacy of Grandpa’s MoneyMy Profile

  7. Woohoo!!! Congrats on (almost) finishing the house! We’re in the middle of a renovation right now and I can’t IMAGINE doing it for over three years. My god have mercy on your soul!

    But hey, that before and after photo is outstanding. It looks like a completely different house. You really did a great job on it. 🙂 And I’m sure you learned a few new skills along the way, too! It’s all about that in-sourcing, baby.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…How to Save Money on HalloweenMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      INsourcing, yes! As long as it doesn’t drive you INsane*!

      *And They’re coming to take me away Ha Ha
      They’re coming to take me away ho ho he he ha ha
      to the funny farm where life is beautiful all the time, and I’ll be happy to see those nice young men in their clean white coats
      and they’re coming to take me away ha ha

  8. Wow great job on the house. It looks awesome! I’d be happy with half of your DIY skills…mine are pretty sad! I think my inflection point was reading FI blogs…seeing that it was possible, combined with having a child…realizing I wanted more freedom and time to spend with family.

  9. Rehab is looking good! Congrats!

    Finding personal finance blogs while in college was a major change for me. It changed the way I thought about what I “wanted” and where I should actually allocated my money.
    Stefan – The Millennial Budget recently posted…Cash vs. Credit Card: What Should You Use?My Profile

  10. Chad Carson says:

    An inflection point for me was reading the book “How to Think Like Leonardo DaVinci” while in college. First of all, DaVinci was just an incredible human being and it showed how high the bar was set for human potential.

    But second, it was so different from all of the other learning I did in college. It was very practical, inspiring, and deep (I’ve since reread it 3-4 times). It praised a lifelong habit of curiosity and learning, which I have totally run with.

    There was one brainstorming exercise in the book called 100 questions. It literally changed my life. I recommend everyone do it. And then I also picked up fun tools like drawing skills and mindmaps, which I use ALL the time for writing article, public speaking, taking notes, etc.

    If you haven’t read that one, Mr. 1500, add it to the pile beside your bed:) Glad to hear you’re getting back in that exercise and reading routine. Those are my foundations as well. Without them, I feel adrift.
    Chad Carson recently posted…The Golden Mean of Money (or How to Stop Selling Out)My Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Oh man, that book is on my list. I’ll definitely get to it before the end of the year. Thanks so much for mentioning it!

  11. Team CF says:

    Glad to read you are about to reach the finish line and have already started to enjoy and relax. Have great fun on the beer festival!
    Team CF recently posted…Savings Rate September 2016My Profile

  12. Congrats on being done! And your house looks amazing! We renovated our last home and have finished a portion of the basement in our current home. I’m always so relieved when we complete a project.

    I have had two inflection points related to pf. Once when I read Your Money or Your Life and again when I discovered MMM several years ago. They provided proof that life doesn’t have to be work, retire at 65, die.

  13. I love that Cat’s in the Cradle song! Didn’t know it was a syndrome, that is funny.

    Leaving my job to travel and eventually start my own business was a huge inflection point. So was investing in my first rental property. Many more to come!
    Brian – Rental Mindset recently posted…There Are Two Types of Real Estate Investors …My Profile

  14. Money Beagle says:

    That’s awesome. It goes to show that you can buy an affordable house, put lots of time and money into it, and still come out ahead versus buying a big house and then not being able to afford much else. Thanks for sharing
    Money Beagle recently posted…We Leased A Brand New Pickup Truck – Here’s WhyMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      The really crazy thing is that the small crappy fixer upper (1800 square feet) is now worth more than the 4500 square foot behemoth!

  15. Remind us: When are you done with the day job? You’re going to be done with a lot of stuff in short order, if memory serves me right.

    For me, it was studying for a worthless board exam, googling early retirement, and discovering MMM. After a year or so of reading his blog, this blog, and a handful of others, I knew I was ready to make plans for an early exit from the usual workforce.

    Cheers!
    -PoF
    PhysicianOnFIRE recently posted…Our Second Home is One of Our Best InvestmentsMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Day job changes very soon, but doesn’t end. I know, I know. Four day weekends, every weekend, along with 12 weeks of vacation will free me up tremendously though. And if it’s not enough…

  16. How much does replacing a driveway cost? I need to get mine done too!

    Congrats on finally being done with the reno! I bet that feels really good!

    Let me know if you find the time for the workouts and the reading again. I find that habits set during long periods of time (like 40 months) are difficult to break.

    • 1500 says:

      Here in crazy-ass Boulder County, our large driveway set us back $5,000. In areas that weren’t as economically vibrant, I’d expect it to be at least $1000 less.

      I just did my 4th workout in 4 days. It feels great. I think that if I can keep it up for a couple months, I’ll be set.

  17. Tawcan says:

    Great jog on the house Mr. 1500! Would you consider becoming a general contractor after FI? 🙂

  18. Roger says:

    Great article and some well taken points. Wish my skills were as handy as yours.

  19. Steven says:

    So I’m not mad at you, I’m just dissapointed, said by parents every where and now me. No exercise, no reading, if you didn’t grab a beer from time to time I’m not sure I would know who you are!

    Glad the house is “done”. Owning a house from 1912, I don’t really know what that means, but good for you. Like I told me niece who is a cop when she was chasing the burglar, did you ask him to slow down? I ask you the same thing sir.
    Steven recently posted…How You Can Retire Early with Rental Real EstateMy Profile

  20. ChrisCD says:

    Mine came regarding getting healthy. I was approaching the time frame where my dad was diagnosed with Diabetes and didn’t want to face the same fate. So I started exercising, eating better, and ended up dropping 50 lbs. I have kept off all but 10 lbs and that journey started 4-years ago. I am off blood pressure medicine and some other health problems have also gone away. I just completed a Spartan Ultra Beast* and will be working on a blog post about the experience. My 19-year old son completed it with me.

    *A snow storm cut the race short. Waiting to have our distance verified to see if we went far enough to earn the medal. :O)

    • 1500 says:

      That is incredible ChrisCD! Nothing else matters if we don’t have our health. It is so much better to eat right and exercise than to be on meds.

      Keep killing it!

  21. Congrats on the rehab. It looks amazing. I think I am spoiled by the Property Brothers and they make it look so easy. Clearly it’s not.

    I first started to read JD Roth and got on the fast track with finances. For whatever reason though it wasn’t until I started reading Eddy Elfeinbein and Financial Samurai that I started to really started to think about FIRE.

    Since then I’ve really see the light at the end of the tunnel and can’t thank both of them enough.
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…How Finances and Health are RelatedMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      I love J.D.’s journey. He is quite a contrast from MMM. MMM always had his shit together while J.D. turned the boat around. Very inspirational.

  22. Mr. PIE says:

    My inflection point was a very grim situation at work that told me changing my role at work would be best for me and my family and my well being. I changed role but the inflection point became a slow dull pain that told me bigger changes were necessary. All while reading a plethora of blogs including this one. You are in the top five on my blog bookmarks menu along with JLC, GCC, MF and Can I Retirec Yet. An inspiring crew!

    Well, armed with information, that led to a set of long conversations with Mrs. PIE over tea and many scones. The teapot was heavily used as were the mixing bowls. Outcome was our shared goal of being done by July 2018, relocating family to the NE mountains and the letting loose on the next chapter in the PIE story.

    This blog played a role in al that, so thank you for being part of that inspiration.
    Mr. PIE recently posted…PIE Portfolio Progress in Q3: Presidents, Presentations, Percentages and Chickens of DoomMy Profile

    • 1500 says:

      Oh man, thanks so much for the kind comments. I’m not worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as those others, but I’ll take what I can get. Thank you.

      In any case, it’s awesome that you changed your life for the better. And I do love hearing the wisdom of those Doom Chickens!

  23. Brilliant stuff Mr 1500!

    Looking forward to reading about what you get up to with your new found all important time.

    Would you change anything if you had that time again? Bite the bullet and hire out more people to do it or maybe downsize but to a house that needed a lot less work?

    Our most recent and very obvious inflection point was having our first child – yes it was a planned inflection point! 🙂
    And what a thoroughly enjoyable rollercoaster it has been since. I’ve found time had passed more slowly as everyday she changes and brings new challenges and joy. When the pulses of each day and our lives are different they are less likely to just slip into the stream unnoticed, to continue the analogy of the song.

    Cheers

  24. Jeff from Jersey says:

    After following you and the journey for a while, congratulations on the completion of the house.

    Growing up, my grandmother had a knitted wall hanging in her house with the phrase, “When you cut your own wood, it warms you twice.” Always liked that saying, and hope that even though it was a massive headache, hope you get to look back on the house experience and it provides you with a warm sense of pride and happiness.

    One last thing, just like JD Roth and MMM were your inspirations, just think how many people you have inspired (and entertained) with your blog through the years?

    Thanks and enjoy the GABF. A full future post should be on the subject which are better – West Coast vs. East Coast IPAs? Dinosaurs included.

  25. Eric Bowlin says:

    Inflection Point #1

    I was sitting in my living room watching tv. Around 8:30 pm a knock came at my door. What the hell? It was a tenant paying the rent.

    I didn’t plan to become a landlord originally, but it happened. That night I had an epiphany. I realized I didn’t want to go get money, I wanted money to come find me.

    It wasn’t long until I had dropped out my PhD program and left behind the idea of a cushy professor or research gig. I became a landlord, contractor, real estate agent, and a real estate investor.

    Inflection Point #2

    I visited Dallas and realized life is so much better in Texas than MA. So, we moved a month later on a whim. Just picked up and left.

    It was stressful at first, but I learned that I can still invest and not be a landlord. I finally crossed over from self-employed to the true investor – I became Financially Independent.

    These two events have completely altered the path of my adult life.
    Eric Bowlin recently posted…Automate Your Business – 18 Ridiculously Awesome Ways to Go on AutopilotMy Profile

  26. Congrats, man! That’s fantastic news. So happy you’re able to cross the finish line.

  27. Congratulations! I remember reading about the rehab when it first started, and it looks gorgeous! Love the columns.

    I’ve experienced a few inflection points, mostly centered around this community. Reading GRS, discovering other PF blogs, eventually MMM, realizing FIRE was a thing that people could actually do, and becoming self-employed because of blogging. My life certainly wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t discovered this community.

  28. Nice job on the renovation! Quite a dramatic change in curb appeal.

    I think my biggest inflection point was around 6 years ago when I asked myself, “How did I put on so much weight?” I wasn’t crazy overweight, but a good 25lbs more than I should have been. Ran my first half marathon back then and have been hooked on running ever since. Also did a round of P90X which helped in the transformation as well. Good luck with your next 90 days!
    Mr. Need2Save recently posted…Keeping It All Straight: The Financial Action PlanMy Profile

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  30. Ms. Montana says:

    I can’t wait to say, “done.” We are still finishing building out our master bath. I have a stack of tile blocking one side of my closet. The other side is blocked by the bathroom vanity. A thin layer of drywall dust covers the whole bathroom. We have gutted the whole house and bit by bit have put it back together over the last 4 years. We also bought 2 rental and renovated them during the same time period. Did I mention our 5 little kids? Little kids and power tools don’t really mix well. Everything takes weeks or month longer than it would with a crew. Plus 100% of our carpentry skill come via Youtube. =) It’s greatly helped out net worth, but some days I am ready to be done. Or at least pause for a few months. =)
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Moderate MinimalismMy Profile

  31. Kyle says:

    I tend to dwell sometimes on my life’s inflection points. I tell people I got to where I am in life, almost like a guy falling down the stairs. Just seems so random to me now.

    My friends are serving beer at the Great American Beer Festival, you’ll probably unknowingly see some of them. I didn’t plan well and didn’t go this year, next year I’ll plan better.

    I have just been dieting lately to loose my beer belly. Best results I’ve ever had and has mostly been easy, except these damn work trips to Chicago lol. Seaweed salad and Pad Thai is too delicious to pass up. Ever been to Chicago Pizza and Oven Grinder Co? I think that’s my favorite restaurant I’ve ever been to. Salads are ridiculous, Mediterranean bread is really good and the pizza is definitely different. Can’t help but waddle out of that place.

  32. Joe says:

    Wow, great job with the house. You’re awesome. There is no way I could do all that work myself. The contractors here aren’t taking small jobs either. I’m having a really hard time finding someone to repair the siding at our rental home. The house looks really good.

  33. ADI says:

    My personal inflection point was when I realised that with one more quarter of effort the dividends that I earned on my portfolio were effectively doubling my monthly contributions to my portfolio. The snowball has started and I could take the foot off the accelerator a little in order to get the rest of my life in order.

    Cool post!

  34. How did you convince the wife to downsize your house? Looking for my inflection and your story is inspiring. Congrats on being done. No other feeling quite like it. I still feel happy when I think about NOT needing to study for my CPA. And I finished that almost 8 years ago. Peace

    • 1500 says:

      We were both on the same page with financial independence and knew that a big house would postpone our freedom. I consider myself to be very fortunate to have a spouse with the same mindset.

  35. Alex says:

    You know it’s funny you write this because I am thinking of downgrading too. I moved to a much more expensive place after I was married and had a kid but now I realize how much money I saved before and I want to go back to the old neighborhood. I wanted to rehab a home like you did but hearing of your experience gives me pause.

    I live in NYC so the only downside of a cheaper place is it is much farther from work. But reaching my goal and having a longer commute for a while is better than working forever!

    • Hey Alex-

      I think rehabbing a home is a great idea! I just bit off more of a job than I should have. The issue we has is that when we bought our current home, it was too small (2 beds, 1 bath), so we added on to it. If you bought something that was just ugly, but completely functional, you could rehab it over the next decade.

      I’d definitely do it again.

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