FIRE Aspirer 🔥 World Wander 🌎 Rouge Rambler ⚡
Salutations, friend! Welcome to Budget Life List (BuLL).
This site is where I detail my journey as a woman who is trying to explore every item on a life list while pursuing financial independence and retire early (FIRE). Even though I have yet to crest the $30,000 mark.
I had a different sort of life before my trail by FIRE.
As a kid, my family moved more times than a fat cat chasing fancy feast. We lived in one interesting place, Jamaica, and less interesting places like California and Wisconsin. These were fun states, but the conversation seems to stop when I mention a tropical island.
At the brisk age of 17 and a half, I signed my biggest document to date – a four-year Navy contract. I wanted to go to college, but I struggled to pick a career that would define my happily ever after. I refused to go to college, pay gobs of money, and be unhappy with a $40,000 degree.
So, I did what any wise teenager does – I delayed the inevitable by joining the Navy! The nomadic lifestyle sealed the one-hundred-fifty-two-page deal.
After various levels of discomfort in boot camp, A-school training, and being shipped off to an aircraft carrier, I struggled in my Navy career. I was unhappy, but I still managed positive evaluations and a Sailor of the Day accolade. Proof that success doesn’t buy happiness. I did nothing to change my mindset, which turned my inner dialogue into a grump.
Once I changed my environment by changing my rate (Navy speak for a job), I felt better. Even though I worked hard, I had yet to turn that effort into saving money. I didn’t save any money, outside of retirement, until I started transitioning from military structure to civilian chaos.
As the discharge date fast approached, I floundered with financial preparations. I was lulled into the easy security of food, shelter, and medical appointments being taken care of by a mysterious Uncle named Sam.
My haphazard efforts included buying bonds that I thought I could cash out in a few months (still have them over a decade later!) and cashing out my retirement account. I wanted to get rich quickly and avoid saving more than spending. Instead, I learned the bitter reality that no plan is about as helpful as a bad plan.
After delaying the inevitable for four years, I was still uncertain of my career path. I did have experience with jobs I had zero interest in. When it came time to start checking boxes at Freshman orientation, I picked natural resources. Of all the options, this seemed more exciting than anything I could produce in an office.
I cashed in my GI Bill for every cent it was worth. I adopted a sparse student lifestyle, scaled back on spending, worked every summer, and by the time I graduated, I had managed to save more than what I started with.
It was all sunshine and sunburns until I started working as a Park Ranger. I went through the typical employment rollercoaster. Even with a five-point veteran advantage, finding a full-time ranger gig is like Monday morning burnt toast – tough to swallow.
I dabbled in plenty of other things: a butterfly educator, state park naturalist, tile and stone receptionist, and assistant librarian. Fun positions, or at least had moments of fun, but lacked decent pay and riddled with unemployment.
Eight years after graduation, I obtained a permanent seasonal Park Ranger position. Cue the slip-and-slide party! I am guaranteed six months of employment but I still managed to collect the full goodie bag of federal employment, including a pension, 401k (TSP), and HSA. The only thing missing is a guaranteed year-round position.
My first season cycle as a semi-furloughed employee went well but I am one year into a 15-year haul to a guaranteed pension. My military service shaves four hairy years off the 20 I need for an annuity.
The long-term goal is early retirement, but my short-term keep-my-sanity goal is exploring all the items on my life list. It’s a list of experiences with a expiration date of 2035, the same year I plan to retire. As I have learned, if I don’t make a plan, it will refuse to visit reality.
My plan continues to evolve as I learn more about personal finances but this is where I am residing on the Make Magic Happen Plan: increase income streams, cash in passive income love, and save like a baller on a budget.
It’s going to be a wild BuLL ride.