What We’d Do If Everything Went Wrong

“But what if it doesn’t work out?!?!” *panics!* I used to ask myself this on a daily (hourly?) basis about all manner of situations, ranging from the banal (trying a new baking recipe) to the weighty (moving from Kansas to New York City). And you know what? Sometimes it doesn’t work out. And you know what else? That’s completely OK.

I’ve come to the realization that I can either: 1) live in constant anxiety over the apocryphal “something bad” happening, or 2) I can do what I fervently want and have the confidence that I (usually) make good decisions.

Homesteading: Our Ultimate “What If?”

Never has this line of questioning been more pronounced than with our decision to homestead. After all, there’s a fair amount of risk involved in making this move from city to country. What if it doesn’t work out, indeed? What if we don’t like the lifestyle? What if we make gigantic mistakes with our land? What if we buy the wrong property? What if Frugal Hound hates the country (unlikely since she’ll just be snoozing by the woodstove)? Well, yeah, what if.

Me walking the land of one of the homestead properties we looked at the other weekend

Me walking the land of a homestead property we considered the other weekend

But on the other hand… what if we didn’t follow this dream and instead stayed in the city, kept working our jobs, and then woke up in 40 years with the realization that we’d never pursued our passions or done anything tremendously fulfilling in our lives? I’d rather assume all the attendant ambiguities, what-if’s, and immediate unknowns than subject myself to a life I already know I don’t find meaningful.

I’ve also come to a place of acceptance with both imperfection and the knowledge that stuff will go wrong. Mr. Frugalwoods and I are apt to make hilarious (in retrospect) blunders on our homesteading adventure and I’m quite comfortable with that fact. Life can’t be perfect in any incarnation, so we might as well do what we want.

Anytime I waver or express hesitation over what we’re doing, all I have to ask myself is a very simple: “do I want to do this?” And since the answer is always a resounding “heck yes!,” I’m able to move forward.

I’ve recently heard several stories of colleagues and acquaintances who sadly passed away within mere months of their retirement. They’d worked hard all their lives, finally hit 60+, retired and were ready to do what they wanted–and then they died before expected. My heart goes out to their families and it’s a stark reminder that we don’t know how long we have. We don’t know how many chances we’ll get to create a purposeful existence. I’d much rather take on the risk of perhaps not enjoying my avocation than not doing it at all.

What’s The Worst That Can Happen?

Mr. FW scoping out potential homestead land

Mr. FW scoping out potential homestead land

Often, as soon as people hear about our plan to quit our jobs and move to a homestead in the woods, they spring forth with their favorite worst-case scenarios. I think it’s human nature to preoccupy ourselves with doomsday visions of what could go wrong. But here’s the thing: stuff will go wrong all the time. It’s an immutable fact-o-life.

The most common worst-case queries we get:

“What if you become gravely ill?” Well, Mr. Frugalwoods and I would both much rather spend our last days out in the woods on our homestead than in the city punching time in cubicles.

“What if the schools aren’t good enough for Babywoods?” (since, naturally, she’ll be a genius 😉 ) Well, what if they’re not? I have a Master’s degree, Mr. FW has a BA, we’ll both be stay-at-home parents, and we’ll have internet access. I bet we can figure something out. Plus, what if we were unsatisfied with the schools here in the city but stuck working all day every day and hence unable to supplement her education at home?

“What if you don’t have internet access?” This actually won’t happen because we’ve excluded all properties that lack reliable internet. Call our priorities whack, but we’d rather have internet than indoor plumbing (fortunately this is not a trade-off we’ll have to make, but I’m just saying.) Some worst-case scenarios can be prevented ;).

Mr. FW's homemade bread alongside some homegrown VT apples

Mr. FW’s homemade bread alongside some homegrown VT apples

“What if a moose charges into your yard?” We’ll run inside, take photos out the window, and hope the thing doesn’t devour our entire garden.

All of these questions–and so many more–are all legitimate and certainly deserving of consideration before taking the plunge. But, none of them negate the fact that when you earnestly want to try something new, you should.

Since I’m an over-planner and a huge advocate for having one’s finances in robust shape before making a potentially jeopardous move, I will include a major caveat here. Mr. FW and I are so caviler about these concerns in large part because we have the financial backing to reverse our decision at any point. Thanks to saving massive amounts of money every year (we’re at over 70% right now) and investing our savings, we’ll have the financial ability to leave our homestead if we find it’s not tenable for us. I would be much more trepidatious if we didn’t have that financial cushion to bolster us. And that, to me, is what financial independence is all about–the ability to take risks, live richly, and not worry about money. But hint: you’ve got to first embrace extreme frugality in order to get there.

What Is Our Actual Worst-Case Scenario?

This is a fabulous question to pose to yourself if you’re laboring over a potentially outlandish/interesting/life-changing decision. What is actually the worst that could happen? Often, I find that the worst-case scenario is really not all that bad. Short of death and dismemberment (which is statistically more likely to happen while driving Frugalwoods-mobile here in the city than out in the woods), I suppose our worst-case scenario is that it turns out homesteading isn’t for us and we want to move. Ok, so then we move. When I outline it that way, it just doesn’t sound all that catastrophic. There’s no world war or Ebola epidemic involved. It’d just be the Frugalwoods moving onto our next adventure.

Me at 37 weeks pregnant... just 3 weeks to go!

Me at 37 weeks pregnant… just 3 weeks to go!

Mr. FW and I are both at ease with the idea, and the reality, of moving on and reinventing ourselves. Indeed, we’ve done it several times already. We haven’t always been the Frugalwoods after all. This entire journey is something of a reinvention of who we are. And I think that’s awesome. Why not try out many different pursuits in life to see what works best for you? Far better than toiling away for 40 years at something you patently don’t derive pleasure from. We’ve lived in various locations, done a number of unique jobs, had diverse sets of friends, and pursued myriad projects and passions over the years.

And there’s no need to feel regret or guilt when something doesn’t pan out–it’s merely time to move onto the next thing. We joke that perhaps once we’re finished with the homesteading life, and our kids are grown, we’ll sell the farm and move to a tiny apartment in New York City and open an art gallery (secret Frugalwoods trivia: we both love art and Mr. FW used to work at an art museum). Or maybe we’ll sell all our worldly possessions and travel the world. Who knows? Maybe we will!

Remaining open to the whims and uncharted mysteries of life is, for us, a wonderful way to live. Nothing in life is guaranteed and none of us knows just exactly where we’ll end up. But I do know that limiting myself, and limiting what I want to try and achieve and fail at would make me a most unhappy and bitter person indeed. I’d much rather look back on my life and laugh at all the bizarre things we tried–and that perhaps didn’t succeed–than to look back and realize I lived a safe, conventional, boring existence.

How do you cope with worst case scenarios?

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121 Responses

  1. Mrs. Frugalista says:

    I admire people who grab life by the horns and follow their dreams. Fear tends to paralyze my dreams but I’m working on it!

  2. Considering the actual worst case scenario is usually the best method to deal with anxiety. As you say, the realistic version of that usually is far better than what we anticipate in our wildest nightmares…

  3. I love the idea of having the flexibility to essentially take a sabbatical, and I think you could view an early retirement that “doesn’t work out” that way. (Though I think your plan sounds great.) The very act of getting away, trying out your dream, and seeing what you learn will be valuable in the long run, whatever the outcome. You are bound to learn something worthwhile, and you can always go back to the traditional workforce if needed.

  4. It’s important to confront reality head-on. For me, the biggest, scariest, saddest thing is the thought of looking back and realizing something went unfulfilled. Change IS scary, but I believe the alternative is much worse. As you suggest, it is important to be honest with yourself and to consider the what-ifs. Once you name the what-ifs, they’re a lot less intimidating and you can see them for what they really are, in my experience. It has been so exciting and motivating to watch your journey unfold. Now with Babywoods in the mix, I’m even more excited for you and your growing family. You’re so resource, creative, and thoughtful, that I’m positive you all can figure out whatever is thrown your way. Best wishes, and thanks for taking us on the ride with you!

  5. Greypaws says:

    Quote: “we’ll have the financial ability to leave our homestead if we find it’s not tenable for us. I would be much more trepidatious if we didn’t have that financial cushion to bolster us”

    Admirable and honest posting…. but… one should not hold back on trying to fulfill a dream, just because they don’t a bucket of dollars in reserve. Go for it anyhow and if it doesn’t work out, then you need to run on the ‘we got ourselves into this, how do we get ourselves out?” With a shifting of thought process and time, anything can be fixed. Personally I wouldn’t want to be toward to the end of my life and never have taken a chance on doing something that would make me/us truly happy. He who doesn’t try is guaranteed to never fail 🙂

    Crossed paws & prayers for easy, speedy arrival of Babywoods in a few weeks.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much! And, I completely agree–I don’t want to get to the end of life and realize I never took chances or lived fearlessly. I do, though, think there’s a balance to strike with having the financial wherewithal to weather those potential storms. Call it my anxiety streak, but I like having that backing!

  6. Allie says:

    Just a quick question about your decision to buy land in Vermont…
    Property taxes are e-nor-mous here in VT, while our neighboring state (NH) has a much lower rate and land prices.
    I’ve lived in both states and am now planning to return to NH.
    Would love to learn more about your decision…
    Love your blog and website!!!

    • Caitlin says:

      I certainly won’t speak for the Frugalwoods, but I live in NH (grew up here too) and have a few thoughts:

      I had looked around at land prices a couple of years ago and they were pretty ridiculous to me, at least in the southern part of the state. Until you reach the top third of the state home and land prices still seem pretty high to me, and that would be nearly a four-hour drive for them to get back to Cambridge.

      I don’t have a direct comparison (I looked briefly) but New Hampshire has extremely high property taxes as we don’t have a sales tax or an income tax. I found a Vermont town property tax calculator; for a home valued at $206,000 in White River Junction the taxes are about $3,869. My fiance paid the same price for his half of a duplex valued at $124,000. It does depend on the town and we live in a high property tax area, but this was the first year he was under $4k and most areas with good internet are not much cheaper.

      The other major red flag for NH for the Frugalwoods is the terrible internet access in most of the state. I believe Vermont has a great state-wide program providing broadband internet access even in rural areas. NH does not have this, and north of Concord (the cutoff point for the lower third of the state) things can get spotty depending on your area. The upper third of the state, while more affordable, is still mostly on dial up.

      I love NH and plan to continue living here, but I do think NH has higher property taxes and less reliable internet for a large chunk of the state. Southern NH is great but might not have the prices, amount of land and type of land they are looking for.

  7. Mike says:

    Good post!

    I have started having a quota of failures to have a month per year. If I don’t fail at enough things, I am now scared I am not getting out of my comfort zone, and growing enough as a person. Just this little trick causes a big change in mindset for me. Now failure is a good thing. And it was in the back of my mind when I took a welding class last week. But I didn’t fail at that (yet), so it is off to the next thing

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I like the idea of a “quota of failures”–that just means you’re out there trying stuff! Awesome approach.

  8. Sam says:

    I loved this post partially because I have lived it! About 2 years ago I was in a job where I constantly questioned the purpose and struggled with competing corporate agendas and personal ethical dilemmas. I made a great salary, was socking away towards my retirement and had super affordable, high quality benefits. But….it never felt right. In my gut I knew I had to make the shift before walking up at 40 only to realize how stuck I was. My husband and I talked at length about it. We agreed I’d hold out till I was fully vested, a choice that will pay off largely in retirement. Fortunately, my husband and I have been frugal freaks and socked away plenty to live off of should only 1 salary not be enough. The funny part? It was more than enough. I started visiting libraries, walking parks and my splurge once a week was a tea or coffee on said walk. Used the time (at the public library;) to search jobs more appealing to me, update my resume and apply as well as try many new (and quick) homemade dinner recipes. Then as good planning and luck would have it, I landed a dream job in hospital IT project management. We are blessed, and remind ourselves of that often. We still pack our lunches, coffee, and cook most nights along w/own one 12 year old car…lunches and car insurance add up! Those dollars are saved either in our emergency account (working towards 6 months of living expenses, almost at 5…our not-so frugal pup required unexpected surgery this September, a high cost we were happy to dip into our ER fund to cover) retirement or the best of all spent on our nieces and nephews needs! Being frugal is a simple joy because it allows us freedom with our careers, our interests, and peace of mind. I’m so glad to have found this blog! It keeps us on track to get rid of all our student loans by the time we’re both 30…time to go enjoy a packed breakfast!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful, Sam! Makes me so happy to hear how frugality has made your life better and enabled you to pursue the job you want. And, smart choice to wait until you were fully vested–that’s some excellent longterm planning there. I wish you all the very best in your journey and in paying off those student loans!

  9. Marion says:

    It’s good to consider the “what ifs”. Another big plus for you is that you are learning and practicing useful skills. That will carry you a long way when homesteading.

  10. Katia says:

    “What’s the worst that can happen?” is a question I ask myself on a regular basis, as soon as I start to worry about something. I like to have my bases covered and for that reason, I used to over-plan. Then, one day, I learned just how liberating it is to sometimes go out and wing it. These days, I vacillate between the two extremes and sometimes hit the jackpot of the careful balance. These days, trying new things and venturing into the unknown excites me. There is something about being present in the moment, approaching change with curiosity, that feels comfortably exhilarating. And by the way, you and your baby bump look beautiful at 37 weeks! 🙂

  11. Linda says:

    My son and his family love living in Alaska. The grandchildren have never spent a day in government schools, love homeschool, and have been tested at 99% on standardized tests–so don’t worry about teaching your own child. It is also not unusual for my grandson to look out his bedroom window to see a moose staring back at him while munching on the shrubs. But a fence has deterred the moose from munching on their vegetable garden. Meanwhile they enjoy constant adventures hiking and camping and mountain climbing in the wild. And next year they will be exploring a whole new lifestyle in Hong Kong. So go where you feel led to go!

  12. Cindi M says:

    Excellent post — one of my favorite. I know too many people who dream of a different kind of life but are too afraid of the ‘what ifs’ to take even the first step toward living their dreams. My husband and I have spent our lives trying different things and the most common refrain we hear from family and friends is “I could never do that because (insert excuse here.)” But you know what? It’s always worked out. When my husband sold his business and retired early last year you could practically hear the collective intake of breath from our relatives and friends who thought we were nuts. He made really good money at that business but we knew all along that we wanted early retirement and had been working toward that for years. I have no doubt you and Mr. Frugalwoods will have a great time at whatever you do because of your positive attitude.

  13. Have a plan. A cash emergency fund, can cover most unexpected life events, job lose, stuff breaking, etc. Same can be said for other things. Discuss the different scenarios that could pop up and have a plan for the “What ifs” It will reduce stress and panic if and when the do occur.

  14. Arwen says:

    I got some good advice when I was deciding whether or not to go into business for myself. My dad asked me what is the worst thing that could happen? I replied that I could fail. He asked me if I would still have my husband, my son, my family, my health? Of course I answered yes. He said well really that wasn’t the worst thing that could happen. It puts into perspective. A house is just a house, stuff is stuff, a job is a job, but my family is my heart and soul. I have now been in business for three years but if I had to walk away tommrow, I know there is some other adventure waiting for me.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Very, very well said. So true that often, the “worst” isn’t really all that bad. Congrats to you for going for it and making your business a reality!

  15. bev says:

    You know, I got all of the same comments when I decided to sell my home, pack up my life, dogs, and worldly possessions and move to a life in the country in Vermont. And I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made. Everything didn’t turn out exactly as planned, but we worked it out. And some wonderful things happened that never even occurred to me. You both have it so together, that I can’t imagine anything happening to you that you both can’t solve together. You have a strong marriage, sound financial backing, common sense, and a devout love for the life you’re about to undertake. Forget those cubicles and go find your dreams. I know I was secretly envied by many who lived the same old life forever and ever and never made waves or changes. The woods are calling you…..keep listening!

  16. CourgetteUK says:

    Long time lurker, first time commenter….

    Thank you so much for this post today Mrs FW – I really needed this message. A couple of years ago I walked out on a safe career with a good pension and promotion prospects because I hated it so much it was making me ill. I’ve been self-employed ever since and really enjoying feeling as though I own my own life again. Last summer though I had a go at something new and the feelings this particular venture induced once I’d got started took me right back to the bad old days of The Job. This week I found out that I did disastrously badly and I am absolutely reeling. I’ve been awake half the night panicking about the people I’ve let down and feeling as though my whole existence is about to topple like a pack of cards.

    However, I honestly hadn’t meant to mess up, I worked very hard, it’s just it wasn’t the direction for me and I 100% know that now. Your lovely post has started the process of me putting it back into perspective. No one died, or even came close. It’s all been rectified. I just need to nurture myself a little bit more until I can fully forgive myself.

    Keep up the good work and thank you again

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I’m so glad to hear this helped! We’re so often much harder on ourselves than others are–and we have such high expectations for ourselves–that I think you’re wise to nurture and forgive yourself. In the end, it’s a wonderful thing to realize the path you were on isn’t for you anymore–it’s the only way we’re able to grow and figure out what our calling truly is. I wish you all the very best.

  17. I tend not to dwell on the “what-ifs” but that’s because I’ve put myself in a position where if things don’t go 100% according to plan, I’ll be alright. This can be done by having backups, friends and family who would love to help you, other job offers, skills, etc. If I had credit card debt and no savings, and no friends or family to support me if “it was to hit the fan” then I would probably not feel the same. Can’t believe only 3 weeks to go!

  18. Josh says:

    My wife and I kinda went through the same situation this summer. We decided to move back home (my wife’s home), knowing it is a permanent move as we are building on family land. Personally this was a big decision for me as I’m a “third-culture kid”, a military brat. It took us several months to make the decision. As we are religious, we relied heavily on prayer. It was still uneasy to start this new, unfamiliar chapter of life but it made us feel more confident knowing that everything will be ok & the sun will rise tomorrow. We can’t live in a bubble, but it doesn’t mean you need to make hasty decisions either.

  19. Mrs PoP says:

    I’m definitely the kind of person that spends far too much time thinking about (Mr PoP calls it worrying!) worst case scenarios. And I’ve come to the conclusion that in the worst case scenario, we have to start over from where we were at the start of our marriage six years ago – with jobs earning far less money in fields we were relatively new to (and in the middle of a recession) with little in savings. But we’d have a lot more knowledge and experience than we did when we started out, so hopefully we’d be able to recover with hard work!

  20. I have always found those dooms day questions to be puzzling, as if the decisions that we are making are so significant that once we begin venturing down that road, we’re done – it’s all or nothing.

    When things go wrong, we fix them. It’s that simple. Even with early retirement, if we find that our retirement savings is shrinking faster than we had anticipated, we find some part time work. Careers are replaceable. Work is everywhere. If you’re flexible enough and have your head on straight, the human race can get through almost anything. After all, we live in a first world country, and the opportunities around here are numerous.

    If things go wrong, we fix them…after all, what else would anyone do under such circumstances?

  21. Raina says:

    As an over planner and recovering protectionist myself, I may print out this post for my fridge. Thanks for writing!
    I think your point about having the financial cushion to be able to change course if needed being one of the most gratifying results of frugality is true. It’s what inspires me most. Cheers to life’s adventures…even the ones that make the best stories later. 😉

  22. Mary says:

    I take a breath and do what needs to be done. I do tend to avoid some things that make me uncomfortable that are not necessary. Older age makes one a little less fearful.

  23. Mallorie says:

    I know that you and the hubs are often very much on the same page with things, but this post sparked a question of mine. What if ONE of you did not like the homestead – how would that change the “worst case scenario” plan. If you are both miserable, it does in fact seem easy to just move on to the next adventure. But what if its just one of you that longs to move on and the other is happy as a clam? Just curious if you’d thought of this possibility or discussed it.

    Thanks for doing what you’re doing. LOVE the blog and the hound.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s a great question, Mallorie! I think we’d take it head-on and discuss it thoroughly as we do all our major decisions. Mr. FW and I really want one another to be happy and neither of us is content if the other is bummed out. Something that we focus on all the time is staying in close touch about how we both feel about any given circumstance in our lives, so we’ll apply that approach to homesteading and just continue communicating with each other. Fortunately, we both have different things that we look forward to on the homestead, so my hope is that we’ll each feel personally fulfilled as well as fulfilled as a family. That being said, we’re both willing to make sacrifices for each other, which is an attitude that has worked well for us with our various moves and job changes over the years.

  24. mountainjillian says:

    WOW! This was so what I needed to hear this morning (every morning?) I am like you Mrs. FW – I am an uber-planner, and I must admit, I often get paralyzed with the “worst case scenario what-if’s.” I have been trying to break out of my patterns and take more risks! Thanks for sharing your boldness.

  25. I think my worst case scenario always ends up with me thinking, “omg I’ll be so broke I have to live with my dad and stepmom in Michigan…Michigan people!!!” But they are nice, wonderful people, and it’s not the street, and living in Michigan would sure as hell motivate me to save money to move away from Michigan. So I guess the worst case scenario isn’t SO bad.

  26. Jlcollinsnh says:

    Spot on and beautifully written.

    Bad things can happen even if you don’t pursue your dreams.

    Living in fear does nothing to prevent them.


    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much, Jim! I really appreciate that :). And so true that we might as well live as we want since there really are no guarantees in life anyway.

  27. Carolanne Howitt says:

    You can have no idea how timely this post was for me. Thankyou! 🙂

  28. V says:

    A thousand times yes. I adore risk, I hate carelessness. But there is a huge difference between the two!!

  29. This is so where I am right now! We are working to bring down our spending rate and increase our savings, and this pursuit has brought about much introspection and soul-searching about the things that actually make us happy and bring us pleasure. I am quickly learning how little I actually need to be content and that often the constant pursuit of stuffs drags me down.

  30. Maisy says:

    Interestingly enough, I often find myself thinking the most realistic worst case scenario is a lack of financial stability if I/we decide to stop working. Which is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog! If we can build a strong pile of savings, then the world is our oyster. Thanks for this post! It really resonates with me.

  31. Jillian says:

    Thank you so much for this post! This is just what I needed to hear…well, read, today! I always enjoy your posts and I’m inspired by your frugality. The experiences and tips you share have helped me to think of what is important to me when it comes to spending my money and my time. I appreciate the fact that you all live according to your own ideals and intentions, including you Frugalhound. Again, thanks for the encouragement. I’m excited to see what the future has in store for you guys, especially with Babywoods in the way! Joyfully yours, Jillian

  32. Kyle says:

    I’ve been called the most laid back person people have met. I’m a planner. Generally, unless the worst case cenario leaves me penniless, I’ll just plan the best I can and go for it if I really want it. I just deal with issues as they come. Sounds like you’re both taking the same approach.

  33. Supplementing your childrens’ educations is so much more important! Kudos to you. And this is exactly the message for everyone: financial independence allows you to take risks and be okay! PS – Everything won’t go wrong. 🙂

  34. Hannah says:

    I think it’s really healthy to remember that until you’re dead, no choice is permanent. You could find work somewhere if the money ran out. You could move if you needed to care for your parents. If your kids have a disability, you could find resources and healthcare to help them out. You won’t know what your life will look like until you’re living it, so it’s best to prepare for the big picture, and change your plans as you go.

  35. Even Steven says:

    Your last sentence sums up our thoughts exactly.

    “I’d much rather look back on my life and laugh at all the bizarre things we tried–and that perhaps didn’t succeed–than to look back and realize I lived a safe, conventional, boring existence.”

    I would rather say I played golf with my Dad every day for a month than say I received a paycheck at work. I would rather say I couch surfed at some of my friends from my childhood than say completed a project at work. I would rather say I traveled to Nicaragua for 3 months than say I worked really hard during busy season. This list can go on for days, as I’m sure yours could as well.

  36. Vermonthiker says:

    Love this post!!! As for Internet in Vt, we had to get HughsNet ( a satellite internet) as there wasn’t any other option where we were building. It is pricey ( 78 dollars a month) but much better than when we tried dial up! It is quite reliable, even in big snow storms. You just need clear access through the trees to the satellite.

  37. Pat Pickett says:

    “It’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” Some great person said that and I can’t remember who did. I feel the way you two feel. If you come to the end and have regrets about not having lived, what is the point? Sometimes getting there has traps and pitfalls but it looks to me as though both of you have your heads on straight and are mature enough to deal with whatever comes your way. One thing I will say is that my worst case scenario turned out to be NOT my worst case scenario. Things change. People change. Life changes and so can worst case scenarios.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you! We try to be mature (to varying degrees of success I’d say 😉 ). Great point that what we imagine to be our worst case scenario may not really be–so why worry about it in the first place. I should remind myself of that daily!

  38. Phyllis says:

    In my opinion, I think this is your wisest post on this blog. Everything you said is wise and correct. There’s nothing sadder than looking back in old age and wondering “What if?”

  39. Kristen says:

    I sometimes drive myself crazy with the what ifs. What we do is make sure we have savings, have the appropriate insurance (so if the true worst case happens, we have extra financial support and don’t have to worry about that on top of everything). When we took the plunge and moved to a cottage full time, we asked ourselves the same sort of things. We decided that the worst thing would be we hate it and move back to the city. Occasionally we do miss the city, but overall we don’t regret our choice at this point. When life changes, we will too!

  40. Glenn says:

    We approached our situation with much the same attitude, especially when observing co-workers after retirement. And even though we ‘ran away from home’ before I was vested, and without nearly the level of savings you two have accumulated, we managed to spend four glorious years running around from Washington State to Costa Rica and a lot of places in between. I’m still trying to catch up on the photo and video and blog post updates!

    In our case, the worst case scenario was always that we’d have to go back to work. But considering the fact that we already had a lifetime of experience doing work, it didn’t seem that big of a deal. When the money got low and we had to make that awful decision to come back to a ‘normal’ life for awhile, it took all of SIX WEEKS to land a new job and move to a new city. This is with a big 4-year gap of ‘self-employed’ freelancing on my resume. In two years I’ll be vested (adding 33% to our monthly pension income), the wife will be able to officially retire, and we will once again have the freedom to do what we want. After an initial savings period, I’m 99% sure that we will hit the road again, and this time I really will head south until I see penguins!

    Maybe your homestead will be a disaster from day one. Hey, at least it will provide great material for writing. 🙂 Or maybe you make it until your child is school-age. Or maybe at some other point in the future you change your mind. Then it becomes a fond (hopefully) memory, an epoch/saga/era. The conventional wisdom seems to want us to all pigeonhole ourselves into a narrow, defined narrative that we choose relatively early in life and never depart from. Well screw that!

    And remember, no one’s last words are “I wish I’d spent more time at the office.”

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for sharing this, Glenn! What a great story! So true about disasters providing fodder for writing–that’s what I think every time we do something stupid “hey, at least I can write about it on the blog” :). Also, you are so right that no one has ever wished they’d spent more time at the office. That provides some perfect perspective right there.

  41. Justin says:

    I think about this occasionally (though not as much as I used to!). I don’t think the worst would be that bad. Like you point out, having financial freedom equals lots of options to adapt. You can move if you want, when you want for whatever reason you want. You’re already rocking it in one of the more expensive cities in the US, so it’s not like any other cities will be wildly more expensive (though you might be living in a small place in NYC as you mention).

    Today we started touring middle schools for our 5th grader. The base school we are assigned to just isn’t that great and didn’t leave a good impression. If we don’t get accepted into the better schools we’re applying for, are we stuck? No! We can home school, move to a better school area, or more likely beg and plead our case to the school board and hope for a better assignment. There’s always options and we are rarely as bad off as we initially think when coming up with scary options.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      There really are always options. Especially when we’re willing to be creative, as you note with your daughter’s school situation. You’ll figure out something that works well and in the end, it’ll all be fine (due in no small part to the fact that she has awesome, loving parents!).

  42. Michelle says:

    Love this! You can’t let “what ifs” hold you back. If everyone did that then the world would be a completely different place.

  43. Amy says:

    When faced with the worst case scenarios in my mind I acknowledge them and move on to other thoughts. Schools are something that when one or both of you are retired you no longer have to worry about because homeschooling becomes a much easier option. A few years ago, after I retired, we rented a cabin in the woods for a year. It was 45 minutes to town and I found homeschooling to be the best option there. My son would have spent 3 hours a day on the bus or I would have spent 3 hours a day driving to his school so he could go to the public school. Instead we homeschooled and those 3 hours were spent exploring the woods near our home and observing nature. Every day around the same time two Bald Eagles would fly around in the sky. We’d just sit there in awe watching them almost daily.

  44. You are the cutest pregoo ever!!! And I love this post — We say that a lot too when it comes to big decisions. Smart, ambitious people who are also planners like the two of you can hardly go wrong.

  45. This is such a great reminder to think through your fears and anxieties in a rational way. It’s so easy to ruminate over the worst-case-scenario without ever stopping to challenge myself and ask *why* I’m so anxious and what the realistic chances are of [terrible no good very bad thing] actually happening and ruining my life!

  46. Norm says:

    I am definitely not a worrier. We’ve been through some tough times. Marge and I both lost our jobs when we were starting out and had no money, and we got through that fine. Illness is another bad thing, but you can’t control that. In fact, so much is out of your hands, all you can do is try to keep the odds in your favor. (less driving, eating healthy, no smoking, etc) I don’t think personal finance bloggers are the biggest risk takers in the world. We are an analytical sort. 🙂

  47. Joe says:

    The worse thing that can happen is if you don’t take action. You’ll always regret not following your dream. You’re resourceful people and I’m sure you can figure out the way forward. Keep at it! 🙂

  48. I’ve read so much about retiring in Panama (the country) and would love to visit there and possibly enjoy my retirement there. My wife isn’t on board with this idea (yet!), but this is one of those situations where she is the one throwing the “What Ifs” at me. My thoughts are to give it a try (pending a long visit there first). Worst case, we move back. Best case, we love it and would never have made it happen if we let the “What Ifs” get in the way. We’ll see how that goes!!

    — Jim

  49. Sarah Jane says:

    You guys are lucky in the sense that you’re in such alignment with each other… I would argue that’s the biggest advantage you have and what sets you apart (just chew on that for awhile)… and I’m extremely envious of it! Many couples, many functioning couples even, are still two separate individuals with separate temperaments, skills, interests, philosophies and goals. When you say you’d rather go out there, try and fail instead of living with 40 years of regret I almost want to throw a shoe at you.. or better, my yoga mat! (okay, not really) .

    Here is the deal… I married an extremely intelligent man who used to have great social aspirations: He was going to change the educational system in this country. He got himself into a PhD program in our city and we started a little family. I was working part-time at a yoga studio and was planning to take their teacher training programs (plural… they offered 3 programs!), but out of nowhere hubby was asked to apply to THE top program in his field of interest -we HAD to relocate-. It was a relatively instant decision.. he was already the breadwinner, academic superstar with concrete goals and a plan to reach them whereas I was simply blissing out on the yoga mat…. It was the reasonable and rational choice, but yet one that entailed ongoing spousal sacrifice… we moved for his new program… he finished the degree, we moved again … he became a tenure-track professor -hated it- we moved again…. started in industry – but the community was a wrong fit- so we moved… again! We ended up moving 9 times in 10 years… mostly because my husband was “taking risk” and living the “next big adventure” or because we had moved to some completely new place and picked (what ended being) the wrong neighbhorhood for us. Sure, I could have done more, but my time and attention was compromised by having kids… one of which came with autism… and I had the moral imperative to orient my activity toward their needs and gifting my husband full opportunity to take his career as far and deep as desired. Also, the yoga studios in those college communities were just… not… what I was used to. I hadn’t realized until I left just what I was giving up!

    I guess you could say we had your “worst case scenario” happen. My husband, on his part, would keep reaching new heights just to embrace cold, harsh reality: moving up the corporate ranks involves corruption and politics, but moving up in academia involves even MORE corruption and politics.. He learned it was better to stay in industry and make 2x the money for the same amount of work. Meh. The last 10 years have kinda sorta left a bitter taste in our mouths, but at least it got us to live in (and afford) our definition of paradise: Seattle.

    Our worst case scenario is not recovering from a bad decision (which is what you said yours is -what a privilege!) ours is about losing something of extreme importance: our kids.. each other.. our ability to live here… our ability to make a living…. our ability to live.

    We cope with our “worst case scenarios” by taking care of ourselves and living responsibly to our fullest ability. We live in a beautiful and safe community in an economically booming area of the country. We have divided labor based on skills, interests and temperament (basically he makes nearly all the money and I do what I can to conserve it). I maximized my earning potential by being self-employed and keeping my work flexible and tied to the community (I am an animal caregiver). I keep my carbon emission down by using an electric bike to get to clients and along with my yoga practice and home cooking… I am physically active and average weight…. it’s the best I can do… We live frugally so we can maximize our savings. When we pay off our mortgage next year we’ll be saving 60-65% of our income. I would say frugality is how I cope the most. Everything else is out of my hands.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for sharing this. You bring up great points about the sacrifices that many people make for their spouse and their family. And, our truly worst case scenario would certainly be the same as yours–the death of one of us or our child–but I think that probably goes without saying. Your level of frugality is awesome and that’s wonderful you’re able to manage and direct your resources in that way.

  50. You will probably become more acquainted with Thomas the Tank Engine soon, but for now let me quote the profound wisdom of Thomas: “I make good decisions, that’s what I’ve been told. I will not be fearful, I’ll be brave and bold.”

    Catchy, isn’t it?

  51. Tara says:

    I am a worrier. I’m currently pregnant (2nd trimester) and worry about the status of the pregnancy (fears of miscarriage). Not as much now, but in the beginning, it was anxiety. I’m a bit of an anxious person in general but stress isn’t good for the baby nor does it do anything good for you so I’ve taken up walking at my gym in the mornings to help. I think it’s important to realize that you can’t prepare for everything and stressing over every possibility does nothing but harm. It seems you all have a good attitude when it comes to the future.

    Anyways, as far as living situations and worst-case-scenarios, if a house in the woods doesn’t work, there’s always a house in a small, walkable town. I think that would be my ideal. I have family in a tiny 1.6 square mile b-n-b style town in NJ that I love visiting. It’s a little out of my price range to live there, and there aren’t a lot of jobs nearby, but if I had enough to early retire there, it would be ideal. Nothing like living in a nice town full of friendly people, festivals, and everything you need in walking distance.

    Also, don’t let the quality of schools sway you in a house purchase. Homeschooling gets a bad rap as people often assume crazy fundamentalists are the only people that home school, but that’s not the case. A bigger movement has emerged to home school one’s kids, especially if their temperament does better in that environment. There’s no right or wrong way to educate your child, so long as they’re enjoying what they’re learning and they’re at least sticking to their age level (if not surpassing it) it terms of what they’re learning. Plus, if you prefer the public school route, so long as the school offers AP/honors/IB classes, the kid will be fine. I went to a mid-range middle school and high school, and because I was in the AP courses, I still was academically challenged and feel I got a good quality public education. IMHO-I think access to a wide variety of extra-curricular activities can often be more important than a school’s test scores. My high school actually had yearbook and newspaper as class electives (with grades), and me being a part of newspaper was a big factor in my enjoyment of high school in general (and what led me to college!).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Ahhh yes, I can relate to those early-pregnancy anxieties–I fretted about miscarriage all the way through the first trimester, and then I started worrying about something else in the 2nd (can’t even remember what it was now), and then I realized that I should probably try and stop lest I plan to worry my way through Babywoods’ entire life (which I probably will to some degree anyway). Being at peace with those fears/worries is where I’m trying to get to now. And, great points on homeschooling–there really are so many different options for education out there now. P.S. many congrats on your pregnancy!

  52. TomTrottier says:

    Some decisions are monumental. Witness the Syrian refugees taking only what they can carry – on foot – into a northern winter via horribly overcrowded boats.
    But most decisions can be approached stepwise, to see if a)you really like it, and b) you can do it.
    Homesteading? Camping & hiking can tell you whether you prefer nature over the city. Helping in a local garden plot, or your back yard, can tell you whether you like gardening, and give you skills if you do. Helping others in the country or on a farm can also do this.
    Internet research can carry you so far. Talking with others help. Trying it gives you hands-on experience. Don’t be discouraged by a few blisters or some wasted expenditures. Carry it far enough so you really know.

  53. I’ve had this conversation so many times with my wife, but I am always the one who brings it up. She finally just shut me down and presented a totally different picture than doom and gloom. We have saved and invested for a long time. We have a lot of cash and investments on hand. We have a great plan IF things remain the same with my job. So WHAT IF I lose my job. My wife had the best answer “Then you get another and we move on.” I think it is good to plan for the worst and hope for the best, but if you mind can’t get away from the worst case scenario then you will be miserable every day. Plan well, work hard, save a lot and you will be fine. There are no emergencies….it is just life and there is no way to avoid life.

  54. Sonya says:

    One thing you may want to consider is regarding health care and education. quality/brevity/depth of services. Our son was deaf and was diagnosed with autism. Also, I was diagnosed with cancer at age 41.

    We had to completely change our lives and relocate in order for necessary services to be nearby. Prior to his birth, we lived 2 hours from a metropolitan area. I love your website and extreme frugality, and cannot applaud you enough.

    Please, though, from this weary mama, evaluate the school districts and healthcare services before you relocate. Also, consider the flexibility of growing old in your home…with wide doorways and possibly one-level living. I am an RN and you can’t imagine what happens when people fail to plan, and there’s an accident.

    With admiration, a frugal woods fan (and New Hampshire-ite)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you for sharing your experiences and for mentioning these factors–certainly all worthy of consideration. We conduct pretty extensive vetting of the areas in which we’re considering purchasing our homestead, but that being said, there will still be uncertainties and things we can’t plan for. For us, it’s all about striking that balance between planning ahead and not allowing our desire to plan get in the way of us actually pursuing the dreams we want to. Thanks again for your thoughts!

  55. Jayleen says:

    You are so close to having that baby! Exciting!!!

    We cope with worst case scenarios by taking it one day at a time. You never know what’s around the corner unless you actually take the turn!

    I think it would be a little more challenging to move when you have kids established in schools they love. Your timing will be just right!

  56. I think as long as you are prepared financially for any number of scenarios then there is truly no worst case scenario, it just means that your life is going to take a different direction then you’ve planned and since most of my 20s and 30s have proved that, I’m comfortable with change. I love that one of your top priorities for a homestead is reliable internet. I would say that your priorities are completely in tact!

  57. Having a plan, and a back-up plan or two, can cover a lot of what ifs. There will always be things that we can’t foresee, but if they prevent us from doing the things we really want, that’s not really a life worth living. And as you mentioned, none of us knows how much time we’ll have. I really like the comment about having a failure quota…I may have to try that myself!

  58. Chloe says:

    Hey there Mrs. Frugalwoods. Just wanted to thank you for this post–it’s a huge encouragement. My husband and I are on the newer/younger end of married life and contemplating some adventures of our own. We’ve hit a point this summer where plans took an unexpected turn… and now my hubby is building a plane and we’re praying about missions work in the next (few?) years. And I had a moment of panic because we *gasp* TOLD someone. And, you know, if you TELL people, then you’re a failure if things don’t go EXACTLY the way you mentioned in passing… 😉 I jest, but only very seriously. So, all that to say, thank you for the reminder that life isn’t perfect and plans don’t always reflect what’s going to happen. And that THAT is okay. I needed to hear that today.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, very true about telling people your plans! It definitely opens up the door for lots of commentary ;). But hey, I’m all about the learning process, so it can be good to gather feedback too (up to a point, of course 😉 ). I’m becoming increasingly convinced that most plans in life are fluid and that I’ll be far happier if I can learn to float along with their various (and inevitable) permutations. I wish you two all the very best!

  59. I’m a big fan of calculated risks. That generally means a big savings cushion and several Plan Bs before we make any big changes. Opportunity is a good reason for saving.

  60. These thoughts are really interesting for me to read this week, as I’m on the verge of finishing my PhD and am looking for a new job (which involves big scary decisions like, do I want to stay in my current field or not? yikes!). I do feel like there are a lot of “bad” decisions that I could potentially make during the job search — like turning down a job that I’m not excited about and then not getting another offer for six months, or, conversely, accepting a job that’s not a good fit for me because I’m scared of not having a job at all, and then hating it. I definitely appreciate your caveat that the worst case scenario isn’t *that* bad in your case because you’ve planned and saved enough money that you’d have time to figure something else out. I am definitely not in that position, which means that my worst-case scenarios can feel fairly scary at times.

    Anyway, thanks for your thoughts on this. Worry and anxiety are definitely something that we all can relate to, regardless of our financial situation or future plans. I read something in a Buddhist-type book once that suggested the “yes” exercise as an antidote to anxiety: whenever you’re anxious about something, acknowledge it in your mind by saying, “Yes, feeling anxious about my performance review at work, yes” (or whatever it may be). In other words, name your feeling, accept it, and honor it — rather than trying to ignore it, which can often only make it worse. This actually helps me a lot (when I can remember to do it!)

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      I very much like that idea of acknowledging a fear or anxiety–makes it much easier to confront head on. Or, to simply know that it’s there but that you’re not going to let it dictate your actions. Congrats on finishing your PhD and I wish you all the best in finding the right place to land!

  61. Helen says:

    About the schools for Babywoods thing, especially if there’s nothing “good” nearby… we homeschool, and it’s 1) fun and 2) entirely more engaging for my artsy-musician (left handed / right-brained) eldest and engineering-spatial (he can use 3D modeling software like a pro and he’s 10) youngest. Academically I’d happily test them side by side with kids from any school, I know they’re doing well. How they spend 8 hours of their day – they don’t waste time in a commute, don’t waste time with “homework” get all the academics out of the way by noon and study what they like from there ’til around 4. We school year-round taking time off for family vacations (in the off seasons! frugal score!) and holidays their Dad has off from work and any time we hear of something neat and educational happening (like the Tornado Intercept Vehicle coming to a Science Museum near us – because we all know it’s cooler than the Batmobile, right?) nearby, we drop everything and GO. School doesn’t have to be rigid. I’ve learned a great deal more “teaching” them than I learned in my own first 17 years, especially in science and history. (PS, yes, they’re socialized, they hang out with kids who attend private and public schools along with other homeschoolers, attend workshops and fairs and do group activities).

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s awesome, Helen! Sounds like you’ve created a wonderfully stimulating environment for your kids. Thank you for sharing this.

  62. It’s so funny because I never even thought about you guys “failing.” You seem so ridiculously competent and prepared, haha. But I also agree with your post 100%. Free of the unknown can be crippling and it’s true that we only get one life and one body. & it’s our duty to take care of both while taking some exciting (yet calculated) risks. Whatever happens, I’m sure the Frugalwoods fam will figure it out 🙂

  63. Matt says:

    Great post. I think we over-planners tend to dwell on all the negative what-ifs and underestimate how easily we could course-correct if things weren’t going well.

    And I couldn’t agree more with your point: “But on the other hand… what if we … woke up in 40 years with the realization that we’d never pursued our passions or done anything tremendously fulfilling in our lives?” For me, that fear is far stronger than any other.

  64. Nell says:

    Absolutely love this post! So many people are paralysed by the what if fear, which goes hand in hand with the fear of change. When we are lucky enough to be able to reach out there and follow our dreams it seems a huge shame to waste that opportunity.

    Loving following your journey and there isn’t anything wrong with homeschooling while homesteading…just saying

  65. LOL, we used to have those questions, too, Frugalwoods. Although we do still have the occasional fear that we’ll run into a puma as we’re checking the yard at night, it’s still worth every single trade off. Only with age, experience and the willingness to analyze your life objectively comes the kind of wisdom written in this post. Good job, FWs. 🙂

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      A puma! Oh wow! Yeah, we do fear the moose a bit (they’re nasty!) but we can brush up on our tree-climbing skills.

  66. Sean says:

    Seems like the biggest risks are not the ones you are mentioning. Fortunately, most of them can be ‘resolved’ with insurance, though not necessarily all.

    What if you or Mr. FW become disabled or chronically ill? What if babywoods is? (Or babywoods #2…etc…)

    What insurance do you have to cover these needs?

    You won’t be on the same employer-provided insurance, and you’re gambling of ACA protections to continue to exist.

    You wouldn’t be able take care of the homestead property or develop it necessarily into passive real-estate income earning property and may need to sell a weird/unique property at significant loss.

    Logically, you’d want to move to be closer to care systems anyway – both family support and medical/health related. But how are you then paying for the costs which won’t match your extreme frugality lifestyle? And how employable or income-generating do you or Mr. FW remain moving forward?

    This is not a reason NOT to do this. You could become disabled or chronically ill (or your spouse or child) at any point even if you don’t move to Vermont. People lose their jobs, need to find alternate health insurance, etc. living in Cambridge. So the “worst case scenario” shouldn’t deter you. However, it does require a different plan than the one you’d have if you were staying in the current location/jobs.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Yep, exactly! Any number of terrible things could befall us–either here in the city or out on the homestead. All we can do is prepare as best we can and then not live our lives according to fears of “what ifs” and “unknowns.” I’d much rather make mistakes in life than not truly live at all.

  67. Mr. SSC says:

    I used to have these questions a LOT. Actually, I still do. However, I realize that the worst scenario would be not trying anything, and keeping with the status quo. As much as I love my job, I really don’t think I could do it for 20 more years. That hurts just typing it.
    I’d rather try, and fail knowing that I gave it my best shot, than not try because I’m scared of failing and what if scenarios.
    If our kids or us got chronically ill, heck, we’ve got the freedom to relocate close to the best facility in America to treat whatever that may be.
    If the whole economy crashes and we lose everything, there are going to be SO many more people in way worse situations than us, and I know we’ll still manage. Better upside, at least we won’t be in Houston to weather a situation like that or forever trapped in an office trying to maintain the status quo.

  68. There are always What Ifs in life…but I’m sure the biggest what if is what if we did try this homesteading thing since it’s something you guys are so passionate about. You don’t want to live with regrets, and it’s not like there is no turning back from that decision. The worst case scenario as you said…you don’t like it and you find something that you do like. Having financial freedom to make these decisions is a wonderful thing.

  69. Caroline says:

    I am naturally risk-averse but then I think of my wonderful, careful dad who worked so hard all his life, doing work he enjoyed and was brilliant at… and then finding his absolute passion when the money was no longer such a concern and he was semi-retired (lecturing for very little compensation, he was a professor in his area), and that was teaching. He commented he couldn’t have done it younger *because it didn’t earn enough*, which was actually true… because he felt strongly that he should pay off the house (that he loved), underwrite his children’s educations and lives till they were grown, very old-school in his ways… and then, about 2 years into having so much fun and to such wide acclaim as a lecturer he got a brain tumour and died. My folks were just about to go on the big round-the-world trip… the house was paid off… all was well. And then… clearly there is luck involved, but sometimes you just need to make proper provisions, have a sensible game plan and just grab that moment. His care and investment has meant we’ve been left with plenty but WHO CARES? We can make our own! Go to Russia and do the trans-Siberian (their big thing that never came to pass). Money is wonderful and you are being extremely sensible with yours, but closing off to doing the things that you so want to try is never the answer. People and experiences are what matter.

    • Christine says:

      Caroline: well said. A good post Mrs FW.
      My boyfriend died 2 months ago tragically. He was young and fit. People first, then things and others. The positive that I’m learning from his death was that there are no guarantees in Life. I try to live each day well and sensibly, and practice gratitude. We never know if we will wake up the next day.

      • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

        Thank you both for sharing these stories. I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your dad, Caroline, and of your boyfriend, Christine. These tragic examples absolutely underscore the point that we truly don’t know how much time we have and we really should live as we want to. I agree that people and experiences are what matter. And, I love the idea of living each day well and of practicing gratitude. That’s about all there is to it, I think.

  70. V says:

    I think you’ve always been the Frugalwoods, way down deep inside! I think you’re 100% right to follow this, nothing is in stone, you can change your mind. Go for it!!!!

  71. Megan says:

    I admire the path that you are on, and am actually downright jealous of it! My husband and I plan on doing something similar. We want to travel the US in a small RV or van, find land somewhere, and either live in the RV or buy/build a tiny home. And we would love to do this in the near future but there are two things standing in our way. 1: my stepson, who lives with us half of the time and his mother the other half. Moving would mean not seeing him very often, and I just can’t do that to my daughter (his half-sister) or him. 2: My aging father lives two houses down the street from me and I want to be with him these last years of his life. So we are basically counting down the years until the older kid goes to college (10!) and we will either homeschool our daughter her high school years or hold out until she graduates (14 years!) Anyway, all that is just to say THERE IS NO BETTER TIME THAN NOW!!! You don’t want to get stuck like me!

  72. I agree with you wholeheartedly! At some point, we all have to rely on the knowledge we’ve gained and just jump into life, trusting that we’ll make the best decisions possible when life confronts us with something unexpected. And if you make bad choices? Live and learn and move on.

  73. Matt says:

    Fantastic article! So many people are always so worried about everything and imagine the worst case scenario. Luckily you’ve saved up enough so you have a buffer against (nearly) anything bad!

  74. I was just saying this to Mr. Barefoot Minimalist the other day! I’m so glad we pursued all of the “crazy’ dreams we had than to have played it safe. I know we’d be depressed looking back at out lives wondering what could have been if we’d just been more adventurous. And there are so many more adventures to come. I don’t ever want to play it safe and sleepwalk through life.

  75. I love and appreciate your attitude! When my husband and I were recently making the decision to move to another state for a job opportunity and leave all of our family and friends, we finally decided that we would rather look back and feel that at least we tried something new rather than being stuck. I read somewhere that people’s biggest regrets were usually the things they didn’t do, rather than the things they did do. Our mantra during this time of change is Anais Nin’s quote: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” We ultimately decided on an expansive life!

  76. If that happens to you Frugalwoods, I know you could still surpass this financial challenge because you have a positive perspective and very knowledgeable in creating strategic plans to bounce back.

  77. Jay says:

    ” Life can’t be perfect in any incarnation, so we might as well do what we want.” Oh how I love this quote! Thank you for writing this. I love the whole post, but this one sentence really leapt out at me.

  78. Julia says:

    Yes yes and yes! You said it – exactly what I’ve been saying about my/our life for years.

    I just turned 40 last month and have to say that I have absolutely no regrets about taking this approach to life – and many rich memories, photos and journal entries to savor – and still more crazy-exciting dreams for the years to come. The future is wide open!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful, Julia! To live without regrets–and to have so many experiences to reflect on–is to truly embrace life. Awesome!!!

  79. This is a timely topic for me, since my anxiety ALWAYS sends me straight to the worst-case scenario. Headache? Must be a brain tumor! Heater didn’t click on? The furnace is cleary kaput! Husband late getting home from work? There was a terrible car accident! As I’ve clued into this fun trait of mine, I’ve started doing essentially what you suggest, and forcing myself to go through the what-ifs and how I would handle them. It’s a great way to disarm the power of the fear of the unknown!

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Haha, yep. My brain has the tendency to do exactly that too! I have to rein it in lest I spend all my time fretting. So much easier said than done 😉

  80. Jim says:

    I recently found your corner of the interwebs and want to say the following:
    1) You both are great writers, perfect mix of real content and entertainment presented in bite-size morsels
    2) I am impressed and inspired by your dedication to your goals and each other. I find most people are too busy dealing with the present and do not dream and consequently have no idea what they want. Or they think their dreams are just a fantasy and do not do the work of figuring out how to make them reality. So refreshing to see young dreamers getting into the nitty gritty of making a shared dream into a reality!
    3) Homesteading is a great way to raise a frugal family, and VT is a great place to do it.
    4) I know you have Babywoods arriving on the scene soon, but please don’t forget about Part 4 of the Demystifying series (Part 3 was posted in April). I’ve always found any discussion on Roth vs. Traditional IRA targeted for traditional retirement approaches, not FI/RE where income is expected to be dramatically lower in retirement. I have my own opinion, but I’m stoked to hear your take on this topic. So far we’ve chosen just 401k and a taxable investment account, to draw on prior to age 59.5. My wife and I are probably 8 years from FI. We were on a faster track with 2 incomes and no kids, but have been ok with slower progress to support a single income and 2 kids lifestyle so she can homeschool.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Jim! And, many congrats on being so close to FI–that’s absolutely awesome. Ahhh yes, Demystifying Personal Finance ;)… I suppose we are overdue to write another installment in that series–thanks for the reminder!

  81. Tracy says:

    I’m into my fifth year of part-time working- @ 5 hours a week- and people told me it wouldn’t work out.

    Truthfully the only thing worries me is the lack of proper healthcare in the US but I could be working 60 hours a week and those bases still not covered…

    It’s very liberating to know you don’t need much.

    Good luck with baby! What a joyful time.

    • Mrs. Frugalwoods says:

      That’s wonderful you’re able to make it work on a part-time schedule. And, it truly is a liberation to be content with less! Many thanks for your good wishes on the baby 🙂

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