New Year, New Ideas & New Milestones

Wow I really suck at updating this blog. Part of the reason is because I’ve been thinking “well…nothing exciting is happening yet. I have nothing to write about” but that’s really not true at all. Nothing earth shattering has happened since I last wrote but there are definitely changes happening and we’re finally making progress towards our overall goal which is amazing!

Our holidays were fairly uneventful. We went to Dallas to spend time with my dad, stepmom and siblings for Thanksgiving. Always great to be around my immediate family since I rarely get to see them anymore (we’re in Oregon, they’re spread out between Texas and Ohio). We spent our Christmas at the Oregon Coast with Kile’s brother, Adam, and his wife Monica. Our little beach retreat was next to the casino so, of course, that’s where we spent our Christmas Eve – a little gambling and a buffet? Sure!

View from our balcony. The river meeting the ocean!
View from our balcony. The river meeting the ocean!
Monica and I on the beach
Monica and I on the beach
Kile (left) and his brother Adam
Kile (left) and his brother Adam

Anyway! Over the past few months Kile and I have changed our game plan. The big picture is still the same: pay off debts, save up a bunch of dough and get the hell outta here for a while. But the details have changed drastically. When Kile and I first initially put this plan into place (back around May) we were anticipating starting our journey in South or Central America. Mostly because we haven’t spent much time in this area of the world and it sounded super intriguing – it still does! But we’ve shifted our focus.

Ever since we got back from Thailand last year we haven’t been able to stop thinking or talking about that trip. It was honestly life changing. Of course it’s a beautiful country with beaches you only dream about and street food that’s to die for – but more importantly, it was so nice to be in a place where it seemed like the people were truly happy with the simplest and most basic amenities. Having life stripped down to only the essentials was so eye-opening because it truly makes you focus on the “real stuff.”  So, we’ve decided that we’re going to shift our goal to getting back to SE Asia.

I’m not saying that we couldn’t have found this state-of-mind in South or Central America but we just have a yearning to go back to SE Asia and explore. For me personally, I also find that the religious beliefs associated with cultures in SE Asia align more with my moral compass (Buddhism in particular) so I’m excited to learn more about this aspect as well.

So that’s our new plan! SE Asia, here we come! We are still a ways out but with our current forecasting, it looks like we’ll be boarding that plane with one-way tickets come around September 2016. It seems so far away right now but I know it will fly by. Our intentions are to stay for a year and possibly make our way through Europe, staying with relatives, on the way home.

Another big update to share is that we’ve finally started sharing our plan with our families. I was a little nervous to tell our families that we were going completely against the grain and “normal” life to quit our jobs and travel. But – I was pleasantly surprised! Our families have been extremely supportive and are very excited for us. Part of me thinks most of them are thinking we might not actually go through with it because let’s face it…it does sounds like a pipe dream. But I appreciate their support nonetheless. I’ll save the “I told you so”s until our departure date gets a little closer.

Visiting my mom (center) and aunt Bente in LA last week
Visiting my mom (center) and aunt Bente in LA last week

Another milestone to report is that I just paid off my first (of 7) student loans! Take that Sallie Mae!! Err….Navient…whatever the hell they want to call themselves now. What an awesome feeling that was. To recap – my approach in paying off my student loans is the “avalanche/snowball technique.” Basically paying off the highest interest loan first and then once that’s paid off, you snowball that payment onto the next highest interest loan. So on and so forth. Boom! First one is gone and now we’re making progress on the next one. Some people prefer paying the smallest balance first with the same technique but I crunched the numbers and I end up paying the same amount of interest either way. Sigh. I dream of the day when I send that last payment.

And here we are. Making progress, getting excited and eager to know what this new year will hold for us. Just knowing that we’ve only been going at this plan since May 2014 and we’ve already made this much progress makes me giddy! Actually seeing our plan come to fruition is extremely empowering. It makes us feel like we can do anything – and we will.

 

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