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Posted on Feb 7, 2013 | 0 comments

Passive Income: The New American Dream

Live on the Margin websiteWhen people, including ourselves, first start looking into cruising there is one big question that everyone wants an answer to and is for some reason difficult to find. How much is this going to cost? aka How much longer do I have to scrounge and save in this boring life before I can gtfo? Most people cruising today count on some form of savings to finance their cruising plans and once that “kitty” (as the community likes to call it) runs out, they have to stop and work either permanently or in temporary jobs until they can keep going. Pat Schulte (of Bumfuzzle fame) and Nick O’Kelly have found another solution: Live on the Margin.

Disclaimer: The book is really good, but remember trading stocks and options isn’t like gambling, it is gambling. If you read the book, follow the advice, and lose your butt, don’t blame us. We just found the book entertaining.

Pat and Nick have been traveling throughout the world for many years while making money in essentially one way: trading stocks and options in short term trades. And lucky us, they’ve written a book about it so we can all do the same thing. Now I know what you’re thinking, “Really? You want me to read a book about trading stocks? I think I’ll just go count the blades of grass in my front yard instead.” Normally, I would agree with you, but this book is easy to understand and actually funny. That’s right, I said funny. I actually laughed out loud a few times while reading it clandestinely in my cubicle. If you’ve ever wanted to learn the basics of trading without wanting to blow your brains out afterwards, this is the book for you.

Here are a couple of my personal favorite quotes from the book:

The stock market is brutally sincere when it tells you that it wants to suck every dollar out of you. The guy on the other side of the trade wants your money. He will lead you by the hand and mug you and take your money.

When describing what happens when a “celebrity” stock crashes and takes a long time to go back up:

Nobody wants to dance with the popular kid who just crapped his pants on the dance floor in front of the entire school, and that’s the problem you run into with celebrity stocks.

After reading the book I took their advice and opened an account with an online brokerage that allows you to trade fake money as if you were making real trades to help get accustomed to the ins and outs of trading before you start risking real cash. So far, I’ve learned three things from trying it out myself:

  1. I actually know nothing about stocks. I’ve had to reread parts of the book a couple of times while looking at a trading platform to figure out how to make it work.
  2. If ice in the veins is what is required for making good trades, I think I might have hot chocolate. So far, I’m waaay too reactive to little things that happen and get hyped up waiting for the market to move. This causes me to make stupid decisions and act like a member of the “anxious herd of sheep” that I’m trying to avoid being.
  3. I’m pretty sure that Dan will be the one doing all the trading in this family.

I’ll admit it, I totally suck at trading. I have yet to make any fake money in my lousy trades, but at least I’m learning and not using real cash yet. I just hope I don’t run our fake account into the ground before Dan can finish the book!

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Posted on Jul 18, 2012 | 0 comments

There is a lot going on around here

Now that Michele and I’s cruising plans have been put into high gear, getting ready to “retire” and begin cruising is hard! No really, it is. Let me list a few of our current projects for you…

  • Get the house ready to sell
    • New Fireplace Mantle DONE
    • New Bedroom Carpet IN PROGRESS
      • Carpet removed DONE
      • Carpet pad removed DONE
      • New carpet picked out
    • New Paint in Bedroom IN PROGRESS
    • Remove hideous 90’s wallpaper border from Bedroom DONE
    • Finish Crown Molding in Kitchen DONE
    • Paint the Shed IN PROGRESS
  • Become a PADI Divemaster
    • Assist with Open Water Diver classes IN PROGRESS
    • Attain 60 logged dives IN PROGRESS
  • Become better sailors
    • Join local yacht club DONE
    • Sail as often as possible IN PROGRESS
  • Sell my Saab
    • Meet with potential buyers IN PROGRESS
  • Get LASIK eye surgery
    • First appointment DONE
    • No contacts for 3 weeks IN PROGRESS
    • Surgery August 17th in Chicago UPCOMING
Dealing with the above (and more… part of which I’m really excited about, but it isn’t ready to show you guys yet!) while trying to continue in a job that my heart isn’t in anymore has been weighing on me recently. When it gets bad, I close my eyes and remember standing with Michele on the beach. The sand, wind, ocean… they all comfort me even tough they are a thousand miles away. Michele and I are doing our best to bring them quite a bit closer, however. The sacrifices we make now will allow us to cruise more comfortably (and sooner!) in the future, and I’m glad we’re making them. But life is not always mai tais and mini umbrellas… but at least it is exciting to be making progress in following our dreams.
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Posted on Jul 5, 2012 | 2 comments

Independence Day

Maybe we’ll set a few of these off when we leave

Today, people all over the United States will be celebrating Independence Day aka the 4th of July. We all get together for picnics and fireworks, and then tomorrow we’ll all go back to work. It leads me to reflect on how close Dan and I are to our own “Independence Day” when we can cast off the lines and really start our cruising life. Almost a year ago now, we took a hard look at what we would need to do to accomplish that goal, and we estimated it would take us around 4 years of saving and planning to have a comfortable cruising kitty.

That was a year ago. Now we’re sitting in office chairs wondering “what the heck are we doing here?!” We’ve come to find that doing the work-a-day life is significantly harder to stomach once you’ve realized there is another option. Judging by some of the other blogs that I have read by cruisers who have already left, we aren’t the only ones who have experienced the over-anticipation that occurs once you start planning to cruise. Frankly, 4 years is just waaay too long to tolerate under our current mindset.

Therefore, we have decided to speed up the process a little. By a little, I mean our goal is now to have our butts in the Caribbean by the end of next year. There are a lot of steps that we are currently evaluating, but let’s just say that things are going to start moving at a quicker pace in our house very shortly.

Independence Day, here we come!

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Posted on May 26, 2012 | 0 comments

Our Little Secret

We aren't quite at this level...

So, for those of you who are keeping count, Dan and I have been sailing this year a grand total of… three times. Well, actually he’s been three, and I’ve been sailing twice and trying frantically to find somewhere to land the boat once. Seeing as it is almost the end of May you might be wondering where all of our sailing stories are. There are a couple of reasons (see: excuses) why we haven’t seen as much wind this spring as we had originally anticipated, but hope to improve over the summer.

  • First, the weather has been crazy. All week it will be beautiful sailing weather, then its freezing and rainy all weekend.
  • Also complicating our plans is that our boat is not currently in a slip. This might not sound like a big complication, but it takes significantly longer prep time to have to pick up the boat and step the mast before heading out on the water. It pretty much limits our sailing time to weekends except for in the middle of the summer when there is a lot more daylight time to work with.
  • Finally, Dan’s brother Kyle has been working most weekends, and due to my status as resident weakling, we need help stepping the mast.

Now that I’ve got all of the logical reasons out of the way, here’s the embarrassing one: we’re a little afraid of another disaster. Our confidence has been somewhat injured by our failures so far. (Though one of our 3 days was actually perfect.) Kyle, Becca, Dan and I actually had the boat down at a marina on Sunday, but we chickened out after watching another boat glide peacefully out of the harbor, only to get practically laid down as soon as they hit the 20 mph winds on the river. We just aren’t ready for dealing with that yet.

No worries, though! We haven’t given up, we are just going to get a little confidence boost before doing anything else crazy. Dan and I are taking a sailing class starting in June that should get us right back to our good-old-selves. Nothing like a little hands-on where the most experienced sailor in the boat isn’t the one who took the free online class! In the meantime, we’re going on a sweet dive vacation to Bull Shoals, Arkansas…full details forthcoming.

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Posted on May 7, 2012 | 1 comment

How did we come up with this idea anyway?

This sums up why we wanted to move there. Bay of Islands, NZ

NaBloPoMo asks “What sports did you play as a child?” Michele and I certainly didn’t sail. I played pretty much every sport an American child in the Midwest can play, just not sailing. We’re talking basketball, baseball, football, floor hockey, soccer, swimming, track and field, you name it I played it. So how did Michele and I come up with the crazy idea to sail full time?

A few years ago I had watched the documentary Ice Blink… At the time I thought little more about it than “Wow that’s cool.” The seed of sailing (and crusing) had been planted however. As Michele and I became more and more disillusioned with money and “stuff” we began searching for alternatives. Cruising was not at the top of the list, surprisingly. We seriously explored moving to New Zealand. New Zealand is in the midst of a brain drain as most of its young educated people move elsewhere, primarily Australia. Because of this brain drain, IT workers (and especially network engineers) wanting to move into the country are on somewhat of a fast track approval.

We went so far as to tell our families we were moving to live the life of Kiwis… but what was the life of a Kiwi? Our primary motivation was to reprioritize our lives away from what is fake and towards what is real. We started talking to people from New Zealand to get a feel for what life there really is all about. We would still need to work full time, if only to keep our fast track status. Slowly, we figured out that the freedom we were searching for doesn’t have as much to do with “where” as with “when” and “what” you are doing. Time-freedom is hard to come by. Cruising fulfills both aspects of what drove Michele and I to want to move to New Zealand: time-freedom and exploration. The ability to set sail within a few hours notice for whatever port you would like definitely is quite alluring for the both of us. The time-freedom to explore those ports, as well as ourselves, is what calls us to the sea.

This post is part of our NaBloPoMo series. Follow the Horizon is participating in National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). NaBloPoMo is for bloggers who commit to post each day in the month of May.

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