Financial Independence

Your Money Mindset is Keeping you Poor

The way you think about money can easily prevent you from building wealth. Making more money can be a great thing but it all comes down to how you perceive it. Your money mindset might be preventing you from attaining your true potential.

Do you resent wealthy people or cast them into a negative stereotype?

If so, you are negatively impacting your relationship with money. Your subconscious mind will block you from attaining any real wealth. If you think money is a detriment in your life and it is pulling you down, you are looking at it from the wrong angle.

Be aware of your money challenges and how you perceive money. Accept your present reality, be open to change, and do your best to improve yourself.


Building wealth with a good money mindset


Myth: Money is the root of all evil

Unlike the popular saying, money is not the root of all evil. Money is the root of freedom, endless possibilities, and abundance. Money lets you do what you really want to do with your life. As Justin from The Root of Good puts it; money is good!


 Money is the root of all good. 

If someone tries to persuade you otherwise, then they probably want some of your money, so watch out! – Justin


There is a big difference between wanting to make money just to have more money and building wealth. If you are just accumulating more stuff, and pursuing a materialistic abundance, maybe more money will not benefit you in the end.

Building wealth buys you freedom. Money can be the root of good when used for good. JL Collins calls it; F-you money. He defines this as; Not enough [money] to retire on perhaps, but enough to say F-you if needed.


There are many things money can buy, but the most valuable of all is freedom.  Freedom to do what you want and work for whom you respect. – JL Collins


There is nothing evil about that. Accumulating wealth to gain freedom is a loyal calling. If you love money, you are not a shallow, self-centered and selfish person. You simply know what you want to work towards your goals to achieve them.


Myth: I will never have enough money

Building your wealth and accumulating F-you money is all good but how on earth am I supposed to do get there?

Having an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity one is crucial. Saving money is all in the mindset. I have seen 6-figures earners who were poor because every dollar they earned went right out the window.

Living paycheck to paycheck is drowning. It renders you a slave to your income. However, breaking the cycle is not impossible. If you are in a situation where you are simply not accumulating any wealth, spending every penny that comes to you, it is time to review your finances.

  1. Look for expenses to cut
  2. Cut, cut, cut (easy, right!)
  3. Pay off debt ASAP
  4. Dance a little just because it feels good
  5. Invest all that money you just saved
  6. Automate your finances
  7. Relax and let it grow

Once your finances are on track and on auto-pilot, compound interest will work its magic and you will grow rich.

You need to believe in your wealth. Even if you are not “rich” yet, your actions and attitude will reflect your mindset. That is when wonderful things happen. You will get that promotion you always wanted, land that big contract, or get the new job you just applied for. When you truly believe you are worth more, you are!

However, true abundance starts with you appreciating what you already have right now. Be grateful for what you have and you will have more but if you are never happy with what you have, you will never have enough.

In addition, saving and investing is awesome but it can make you miserable if taken too far. If you cut too much, you will hate it and fall right back into your old ways. An easy trick we use is to have a Fun fund; money aside just for outings and activities. We suggest using high-interest savings accounts for your Fun fund so, at least, it will earn a little interest in the meanwhile.


Invest in yourself

Your money mindset is your own. You are the only one who can change it and improve it. You need to define what you really want, who you want to be and work towards this better you. Only you can achieve that.


Invest in yourself to change your money mindsetRead more books and blogs

Never stop learning and seeking out new information. Even if paperbacks are not your thing, there are so many amazing blogs out there to help you reach your full potential.

We like to follow Sam Dogen, Pete AdeneyZach, Adam, Joshua Becker, and Jeremy and Winnie just to name a few…


Work hard like there is no tomorrow

Having a money mindset also means that you work for what you have. You deserve wealth but wealth requires hard work.

If you are unhappy about your situation, work on it. Either on your finances, habits or even at your job, there is no lazying around.


Be in control of your money

No one cares more about your money more than yourself. Take control of your wealth and financial future.

Creating multiple income streams or passive incomes are an awesome way to stay on top of things. Similar to having F-you money, having multiple income streams makes you less dependent on your day job. Once you have the freedom to say no to things you do not feel like working on, you can focus on the amazing things you love.


Look forward

Finally, to complete your money mindset makeover, you need to forgive yourself for past mistakes and look forward. Being mindful of the long-term is the key here.

Any choice you make today can affect your future-self. Having a long-term vision of your life and finances opens you to a better money mindset. You will make better decisions and smarter moves looking forward.

Once you realize that a dollar spent today could have grown in the future, you might think twice before spending your whole paycheck on a 5-star vacation. (Why pay when you can travel for free anyways?)


To conclude, having an abundance mindset rather than a scarcity one will change the way you live. It might not suddenly increase your income ten folds but it will make you feel wealthier, appreciate your current situation and set you for a better future.

Mr. and Mrs. Xyz


Financial Independence

How to Become a Better Person

The count-down is on;

we are having our little baby girl in about a month from now!

With so little time left before this life-changing event, we decided to write down an action plan with quick and simple improvements we could do to be better people, and ultimately, better parents. A little self-help is always good.


Becoming a better person

With a few weeks left before the birth of our new baby, our short-term action plan revolves around being as prepared as we can be, without getting over-paranoid about it. By breaking it down in a few weeks and repeating the motions, we should get a few key things accomplished.

This week, for example, we are reading a lot of books on delivery and parenting and are getting ready for the big day. We changed our diet slightly to accommodate the higher needs of Baby. Mrs. also started to follow a series of exercises and is taking pre-natal yoga classes for a few weeks now.

We simply want to stay healthy and be ready to welcome our baby into this wonderful world.


Finding your better self


Once we go on parental leave, we will have the time to practice things, learn new skills, and work on certain traits we would like to improve. One thing we would like to practice is our third language; Spanish.

Since it is the second-most widely spoken language in the world, after Mandarin Chinese, with 400 million native speakers around the globe, being fluent in Spanish seems like a great way to expand our horizons and help us along in our future travels. Our current Spanish level is pretty basics, we traveled to Spain, Guatemala, Belize, Mexico, and Costa Rica without any problems but we could not fully communicate our thoughts if we had to start a debate about Star Wars vs. Star Trek if we had to.

At least, it is closely related to French so the learning curve will be much easier. Going forward, we will try to step up from our tourist level to a quasi-fluent level in the next few months. Using apps like Duo-lingo, Speak Tribe, or Memrise, we should be able to advance pretty quickly.


Self-improvement plan


Another thing we would like to improve is our current sleep schedules. We are both late risers and our current work schedule allows us to go to bed late and wake up late. However, the recent changes Mrs. has been going through gets her in bed before 10 p.m. and she usually wakes up early due to baby kicks or soreness. Going forward, Baby will keep us up all night and wake up before sunrise.

To get enough sleep, we need to get in the habit of going to bed earlier and getting up sooner. Not only for our own good but also for our future grade-A student. A recent Texas University study found that students who were early risers scored better grades than late risers.

Getting up early makes you happier and more productive. Even millionaires tend to be early risers so why not join the crowd? Looking at some of the most financially-successful people around, 89 percent wake up between 4:30 and 7 a.m. while only 11 percent slept in until 8 a.m. With our current anywhere-between-8-and-9 a.m. uprise, we are far from 4:30 a.m.


Source: Forbes


Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise” – Ben Franklin


Our action plan is to gradually wake up about 15 minutes earlier for the next 4 weeks and, by then, we will wake up a whole hour earlier. By minimizing the use of the snooze button and trying to get up as soon as the alarm goes off, we want to put this hour to good use. Over the long-term, an earlier schedule will be better aligned with our kid’s schedule and allow us more time with her or more time to be productive before she wakes up.

Further on, we would really like to improve our time management system. We are pretty good at getting things done and we both use to-do lists to follow up on things. A great new app we discovered recently is this calendar Countdown widget. It lays out your calendar events in a to-do list fashion with a countdown timer beside each event. This way, we can input everything in our calendars without the need for multiple apps. We used to get lost with separate notes, to-dos, and calendar apps.

Obligations will only increase with a kid and we want a good way to manage appointments, bills, chores, and other tasks between two phones and computers. If you have any suggestions, comment them below.

With better systems, we hope to improve our time management and get more things done in less time. Once we master that, we will end up with more free time to do things we enjoy playing with our little girl.


Raising a good person

We want to pass along as much knowledge as possible to our daughter and raise her to be a well-rounded, thoughtful, grateful, amazing human being. Raising kids is not an easy feat, we personally do not have any experience in child upbringing yet but, as any new parent, we are jumping in the game and hoping for the best. Of course, there are a few things you can do to help your child become a better person.

One thing we wish to teach our kid is to be open to multiple cultures and languages. When they are young, kids can easily learn new dialects and quickly absorb knowledge. At home, we speak both French and English and wish to raise her to be fluent in both languages.

As part of our own personal growth, we plan on elevating our fluency level in Spanish and wish to teach it to our daughter too. Starting with basic words, reading bed-time stories in Spanish, to fluent conversations, there is plenty of room to learn together. Since it is so widely-spread around the globe, we think it would be a great language to teach her.

Learning together like that will be a great way to connect and learn more about her. Howard Gardner, a researcher from Harvard, established eight ways kids learn best, which include musical, logical-mathematical, linguistic, and interpersonal traits. By paying attention to our little girl and spending time learning with her, we can try to identify her specific learning style and help her grow even more.


Being a better parent


Jointly with these efforts, traveling will also be a mind-opening experience for our little one. With over 195 countries in the world, there is so much to see. So much to learn. So much to explore.

We are planning to apply for her passport shortly after birth and bring her along a few trips before she even turns one.

We want to raise a caring, grateful, respectful daughter and plan to provide all the love and attention she needs but also act as models and mentors for her. This is why, not only do we have plans for her, but we also have plans to improve and develop ourselves as persons.

Do your best, be your best.



Financial Independence Saving

8 Things to do Now to Live a Better Life

The year-end is right around the corner, leaving us a bit more than a month to finish on top and improve ourselves. As part of our Better Self series, we explore the little things that can, over the long-run, make a big difference and bring you closer your ideal self. Try these and start living a better life.


1. Revise your finances for a better life

In this Holiday time of gifts and expenditures, it is important to keep your spending in line with tools like Mint or Personal Capital and cut the inessentials. Even if the Holidays are coming up, there is no excuse for busting your budget.

Before choosing how much to spend, you need to identify your income and calculate your savings rate. Most of us are getting year-end bonuses and raises next month and it is too easy to give up to lifestyle inflation.

Instead of increasing your spending and getting used to this new level of income, invest all of your bonuses and promotions and keep living just as you were last month.

We invest all our bonuses automatically in our RRSP (401k) so, one, we do not feel the urge to spend it, and two, it lowers our taxes. We also increase our automatic contributions for the next year to match our new yearly rate after our promotions.


Calculate your savings rate


If you keep a steady savings rate and your income increases, you end up spending more but if you increase your savings to keep the same budget, then you increased your yearly savings drastically. In the example above, you end up saving 36% more over the year by increasing your savings rate according to your raises.

If you do the math, your savings rate would need to rise from 20% up to 27% for you to keep the same lifestyle.

How to save with Mint

With the income side figured out, you can then choose how much to budget for your year. Looking through your spending for the past 11 months helps determine if you over-spent or if you still have room in your budget for the Holidays.

Review your utilities and any recurring payment that you are paying. You can probably find services you are paying for, but are not even using.

Compare providers and negotiate your bills. A simple phone call can save you hundreds per year.

This time of the year might pressure you into buying more stuff but there is a ton of ways to spend Christmas without spending. A great low-cost gift idea we’ve found in the Huffington Post is the Tell-Me notebook.

Free gift idea

Buy a notebook and fill it with questions depending on who you are giving the notebook to.


The questions I asked my grandparents were like: “Tell me about your first house.” “Tell me about something you are proud of.” “What do you remember most about your mother?” “Tell me about three memorable friends.” – Liz Evans


It will get you to think about the person you are giving the gift to and then will start amazing conversations with them.

To complete your financial review, take a look at your investments and assess if you need to rebalance or change your asset allocation altogether.

By using free tools like the Personal Capital Fee Analyzer Tool you can quickly evaluate if you are paying too much management fees on your portfolio. They also have great tools to evaluate your asset allocation and estimate if you are on track to reach your goals.

Before the end of the year, we make sure our investments still meet our time frame, risk tolerance, needs, and preferences. This is pretty easy for us since we are only invested in Exchange Traded Funds and follow a strict asset allocation to reach our goal of early retirement in the next decade.


2. Stay motivated along the way

Using reminders to be a better person

Enjoy the last month of the year, day-by-day, and focus on the main things you had planned to do back at the start of the year. Any New Year’s resolutions you never got to?

Any goals you have almost reached but have not quite completed? Start each day with your mental to-do list (or you can write it down and hang it up at your desk or fridge) and aim to achieve your objectives.

We use our calendar app and Google Keep to note anything and everything. Not only do we list when bills are due or when our next appointments are but we also include things we would like to accomplish.


Use tools to stay motivated



Stay motivatedWhen it comes to motivation, calendars can also keep you on track. We recently started using the Goals option in Google Calendar to stay focused on health and self-improvement.

For example, by setting up a goal like “run three times a week” the app will automatically find you a time to do that. You can even match it with Google Fit and it will log it into our Calendar once the tracker app marks it as complete.


3. Eat better to improve your body, mind, and spirit

Nobody is perfect but we can make an effort. There are only 5 weeks until the end of the year and we can surely find some ways to improve our diet until then.

If you eat out often, go out for lunch with colleagues, try saying no and bringing in your lunch just once per week. This will add up to 5 lunches or enough savings for a nice Christmas gift for a loved one.

If you are already home cooking most of your meals, try cooking at least one extremely frugal meal per week for the next 5 weeks. Here are 5 super simple recipes we love which you can cook at home for less than a dollar per portion (4-6 portions per recipe).


Frugal meal


Easy chicken and vegetables

Simply bake a whole chicken or chicken piece in a casserole with chopped carrots, onions, and potatoes. Set the oven to 350°F, sprinkle some seasonings of choice and leave everything in the oven for an hour and you are good to go. Make sure the chicken is fully cooked through before serving.


  • 1 Whole Chicken
  • 3 Carrots, chopped
  • 1 Onion, chopped
  • 3 Medium Potatoes, chopped
  • Seasoning of choice for skin


Cheap recipe


Tasty burritos

Another great recipe is our famous rice and beans burritos. Who needs Chipotle when you can cook those in 20 minutes for less than a dollar per portion?


  • 2 Cups dry instant brown or white rice
  • 1 Can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Can corn, drained
  • 1 Onion, diced
  • 1-2 Cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 1/4 Cup shredded cheddar
  • 6-Pack of Tortillas
  • Salt to taste


For this one, you can even use leftover chicken and shred pieces for your burritos or skip the meat and do a vegetarian version. Start by cooking rice by added 4 cups of water for 2 cups of rice. Bring to a boil then let it simmer for about 15 minutes.

While this is cooking, add a diced onion to a pan and let those cook on medium until brown then add a can of black beans, corn, and your shredded chicken. Once all of this is nice and cooked, join all ingredients to a tortilla and roll up. For optimal results, grill your burrito before serving if you have a Panini press at home.


Cheap homecooking


Magnifico alfredo

One of our favorites is pasta. It is super cheap and quick to make. For day 3, we have a Fettuccine Alfredo which can also be served with chicken if you want to add meat to the dish.


  • 12 Ounces fettuccine
  • 1 Head broccoli, cut into florets, stalk peeled and sliced
  • 1 1/2 Cups skim milk
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 Tablespoon flour
  • 3/4 Cup grated Parmesan
  • Salt to taste


Cook the pasta and meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook the broccoli for 3 minutes then drain. Heat the milk and butter in a large saucepan over low heat and slowly whisk in the flour. Let this simmer until slightly thickened, whisking constantly for about a minute. Remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan and salt then add the pasta and broccoli.


Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili


Lazy chili

If you own a slow cooker, there are a ton of recipes that can be done for under a dollar per portion. We like to slow cook this vegetarian chili and serve with tortilla chips. Even without meat, you will get a lot of proteins from beans. This is a super easy recipe, simply poor every ingredient in a slow cooker and cook for 3 or 4 hours.


  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 3/4 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cans tomato puree
  • 1 small can of corn
  • 1 can kidney beans with liquid
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper


Easy Shrimp Pizza


Finger-licking shrimp pizza

Instead of ordering pizza, we bake our own with simple ingredients. You don’t even need to know how to bake the doe, use pita bread as your base.


  • 6 pita bread
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1 medium-sized cooked and peeled shrimp
  • 1 can sliced black olives, drained
  • 2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 1 pepper, thinly sliced
  • 4 ounces shredded or sliced mozzarella cheese
  • 1 pinch dried basil or sliced fresh basil
  • 1 pinch dried oregano


Put every ingredient on the pitas and place them on a large baking sheet. Preheat the oven to 450 °F and place the pizzas in the preheated oven 8 minutes. Serve whole, or cut into slices. You can always add vegetables to taste or add different cheeses.


4. See the people you love and share happiness

Whoever you spend time with shapes who you are and they might be depleting your energy or energizing you. We are, in a way, the product of our entourage so choose wisely and foster those relationships that you care about most.


We are happy when we have family, we are happy when we have friends and almost all the other things we think make us happy are actually just ways of getting more family and friends. – Daniel Gilbert


As we get older, life often gets in the way. In school, we used to see our friends every day but this quickly extended to once a week once we all started working and now it is slowly turning into every other week or month!

The good news is that spending time with your friends can be very cheap and bring you great joy. Get together, get around a board game or host a potluck. Food and drinks have been bringing people closer for centuries, long before the hipster pubs and high-end eateries.


Save on parties, do a potluck


Take this time of the year to spend more time with the people around you and truly enjoy their company. It is too easy to be busy and put off the Saturday night meetup but try to make time for it.

You can even get twice the rewards by inviting your friends to reach common goals. Stay fit and go to the gym with a friend, learn new recipes and cook with a co-worker, or get two things ticked off your to-do list by walking your dog with your neighbor.


5. Rethink your stuff

Who said you need to wait until Spring Cleaning to declutter? December is the month of giving and the last month of the year, December also has 22 weekdays. Pick one item every day of the week and give it away to a local charity. Give away that shirt you haven`t worn in the past 4 months to a thrift store so others can enjoy it. Give away the toys your kids stopped playing with to kindergartens, hospitals, and other charities. Finally, give away all those canned goods sitting in your pantry to a food bank.

Want to take it a step further? Donate something every day until Christmas. That gives you 25 days to donate 25 things in your house you do not need anymore.

Need to go the whole mile? Donate something for every single day from tomorrow to the end of the year. This will give you 35 days to donate 35 things to people in need.


6. Relax a bit

Make sure to allow yourself a break. Meditate, listen to a podcast, read a book, or just enjoy your morning coffee. Sometimes, we just need to disconnect and relax. Our bodies need to recharge sometimes and our fast-paced lifestyles sometimes can become overwhelming. Taking some alone time can do wonders, try it at least once before the end of the year.


7. Get chatty

Get to know your coworkers, get out that cubicle and network. Knowing the people around you will make work more fun, more efficient, and who knows, you might even make a new friend.

Even if you are just sitting on a bus or waiting for a train, take the time to say hi and meet new people. We are both introverts but it is very rewarding to make a new friend. The first step to meeting new friends is simply to talk to new people.


8. Just in case (always better be safe than sorry)

If it is not done already, write up a will, your list of accounts, and review your insurances. Yes, this can be super boring but it is critical.

A simple hand-written will is considered valid in Canada in the provinces of Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. In the U.S., the states of Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming accept hand-written wills as well.

There are states with exceptions but all the ones listed above accept hand-written wills without witnesses as long as they are written entirely in the handwriting of the testator. This means you can write your own will for free without the help of a lawyer. We used a template like these to get the text right and simply wrote it all down on paper instead of paying for their package.


How to write a free will


To help your spouse or close ones, make a list of all our accounts and keep all your documents in one safe place. We wrote down all our bank accounts, investment accounts, and other accounts along with the username and password to access all of them. This might get tricky when you change your passwords constantly but that is just another reason to make it part of your annual review.

Review your life insurance needs

Finally, take the time to review your life, critical illness, disability insurance, etc., you have in place. Make sure the coverage still is adequate to meet your family’s needs and review your premiums to make sure you are not paying too much. There is a lot of quote comparison sites out there, most of them will give you a quote in a few minutes.

Now, once you accomplished all of this, January is right around the corner and it’s time for a New Year’s Resolution! How will you be a better person next year?




4 Reasons to Travel the World

Traveling is amazing.

Whether you are driving across the country in a van or flying across the Atlantic to explore Europe, trips will make you grow, they will show you the cultures of this world, they make you a better person.

According to a study published in the Hostelworld Global Traveler Report, travel-hungry British traveled on average, to 10 countries, Germans have seen 8, and the French traveled through 5 countries on average. However, Americans are lagging with only 3 countries on average. A surprising 29 percent of American adults have never even left the country! With all the opportunities out there, you almost can’t afford not to travel!


Traveling has never been this cheap

Airline deregulation, competition, fuel costs, and fuel efficiency drastically lowered the cost of travel in the past decades. Nowadays, you can fly to most of Europe for about $500 roundtrip or to Asia for under $1,000. This is nowhere near what it once was. Historically, flight prices have dropped by 50% in the last 30 years.

Traveling has never been so affordable!

Not only did the actual price of travel drop considerably but there is now a ton of alternatives to start traveling for free. All major banks are competing for clients and offering compelling welcome bonuses to new credit card clients.

By using these offers properly, you can travel the world nearly for free. Applying for a few cards, reaching the minimum requirements for the bonuses, and stacking up the points can really turn into considerable rewards quickly. With American Express Canada for example, you can get enough rewards to fly from Canada to Mexico with a single welcome bonus. Add up two of those and you can fly to Europe!


Find your card today and start earning those SWEET miles!


You can even accumulate free hotel stays with cards like the Starwood Prefered Guest card from American Express which offers roughly $1,000 worth of hotel nights depending on the booking.


Traveling makes you happier

Traveling with friends and family creates memories for a lifetime. Buying more stuff provides temporary happiness but experiences and memories are for life. When traveling, you tend to see new things and new places that you never saw before like old archeries on the mountain-tops near Florance.

The joy of discovery is an amazing thing. We really enjoy the adventure. We like to explore the lesser-known parts of cities and attractions. Going off the regular tourist route, you can find hidden gems and they are usually a lot cheaper than the tourist traps.


Vacation memories We found an old archery club wondering around Italy


You get to discover your inner self in travel. Reconnect with yourself and others around you and spend quality time outside of your usual routine. Especially when traveling alone, you get this alone time that you would not have gotten otherwise. Even when traveling as a couple like us, you get to know each other in a whole other way when you spend weeks together 24/7 outside your usual schedule.


Cheap travel ideasDon’t be afraid


You can find yourself in travel and get to know yourself better. Reconnect with yourself and others around you. Spending quality time outside your usual routine is relaxing. According to one study, three days after taking a trip, travelers reported feeling less anxious, more rested and in a better mood.

These gains were still present five weeks later, especially in those who had more personal time and overall satisfaction during their vacations.


Holiday abroadIslands in Laos


Another discovery you will encounter is the food. Don’t be shy and satisfy your need to try, taste, and savor. There is so many cultures, so many recipes around this wonderful world, it would be such a waste to restrict your diet to steak and potatoes.

Just from our past travels, we discovered plenty of new tasty dishes we now started to cook at home. We discovered Osso buco alla Milanese in Italy, devoured Pulpo a la gallega in Spain, and gobbled up Frikadellers in Denmark.


Why should you travelPulpo a la gallega


For us, food plays a major role in our happiness. We like to explore and learn new dishes, new flavors, and new colors. Native dishes allow us to understand their culture even more in-depth. You can feel the work that goes into Italian home-made pasta and hear the chef’s passion in the kitchen when you are there. We enjoy how it inspires creativity and widens our horizons.


Plan the perfect vacationBeach and sunset on the coast of Italy


Traveling widens our perspective

By discovering the variety of cultures around the world, you get more accepting of others. Meeting new people and seeing how they live is a true eye-opener. If you take the time to eat with the locals, learn their language, and play among them, you will truly get accustomed to their culture. Acceptance goes beyond colors or languages and traveling widens our perspective of the world around us.

Of course, it is easily possible to stay in a resort and have very limited contact with the locals, only eat foods you are used to, and shop in the same shops you could back home. This home away from home travel might not be a culture shock. Not all tips will be life-changing, and that is OK. There are many ways to enjoy a holiday.


Cheap travelOur Bahamas trip was in a 5-star resort and that’s perfectly fine


If you develop the habit of asking questions, being open-minded, curious and respectful to locals, you will find your travels enriched. Life is often reciprocal in that way.

Don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path and talk with locals. If you have the luxury of long-term traveling, take the time to learn the language. We did so in Guatemala and never learned so much about a culture so quickly.

In Thailand for example, we were not able to learn Thai but most talked English. Anyone we have talked to was very soft-spoken and unbelievably well-mannered. Everyone was welcoming and happy to talk to us. We learned about them and the area and honestly, the best experiences we can remember of came from references from locals.


Travel on a budgetFishermen boats along the coast of Laos


Traveling gets us to disconnect

Ever got that feeling when you forget everything about work, any routine, anything in your daily life? Traveling can do this amazing thing where you disconnect from your obligations and everyday life. Not only does this feel great but it is very healthy.

A study from the Marshfield Clinic in Wisconsin found that women who take vacations at least twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression and chronic stress than women who traveled less than once every two years.

Forget about roaming and leave the phone for emergencies only. We all wish to disconnect from our busy lives on vacation but some easy steps can greatly help. Disconnect from social media, leave the work phone at home and enjoy your time off.



Get out there and travel the world. There is so much to see, so much to learn. We wish you the best and have a safe return. Mr. and Mrs. Xyz.


Earning More

How to Love your Job and be Happy?

Finding a good job is hard. Finding the perfect job is even harder. As part of our Better Self series, I am asking myself if there might be something better out there to not only grow in my career but as a person. How to be happy in life is no secret and we are always improving ourselves every day to slowly raise our happiness levels.


Work does not make me happy anymore

Although I recently changed positions 8 months ago, it was a lateral move. Work is now closer to home, which is great, but there is so much more out there…

Sometimes I just wonder how it would be to change careers altogether. Change my field completely. I currently work in finances, in a client-facing role. I work in sales and this skillset can be used in any company, pretty much anywhere in the world.

Having such a skillset is great and opens a lot of doors but I have yet to open them. I have only worked in finance, that’s what I know, but sometimes it is good to look outside our comfort zone.

I currently work in finances, in sales, and this skillset can be used in any company, pretty much anywhere in the world. Having such a skillset is great and opens a lot of doors but I have yet to open them. I have only worked in finance, that’s what I know, but sometimes it is good to look outside our comfort zone.

Browsing jobs site, you can come across anything from sales representative to account executive, to strategic territory expansion manager, but in the end; you are still just helping clients buy stuff.

Someone has to sell toilet paper to the grocery stores before they can sell it to you and the chain goes up and up many levels. The good thing about this is that no matter the product or service, there are a few sales-related positions where I qualify for.

Ideally, I would prefer to enjoy the product itself. I am passionate about investments and those discussions come naturally to me but I have no idea how to sell toilet paper to a national supermarket chain. However, it seems like I am dragging it.

Change does not come easily, and that is perfectly normal. I am sure there is a situation right now, in your life, where you are experiencing the same fears and discomfort as me.


Getting out of your comfort zone

Exploring outside known territory and common grounds will make you grow and ultimately, a better person. This place where you find a routine and pattern that minimizes your stress and risk, get out of it!

Your routine might provide you with a regular, decent amount of happiness, low anxiety, and reduced stress but you will never be your best. To maximize performance, you need to be in a state of relative anxiety.

Stress is productive; stress will push you to innovate.

  • Start doing everyday things differently, change it up a bit!
  • Start asking yourself; why not? What is the worst that can happen anyway?
  • Take small steps, one thing at the time. Getting out of your comfort zone takes time.

When we get too comfy, we tend to do the minimum required to get by. Without deadlines or new challenges, you might feel busy but that is only a way to stay in your routine. Making yourself busy rather than daring and innovating is just keeping you in your comfort zone.


We need a place of productive discomfort,- Daniel H. Pink


By allowing yourself to take risks and exploring new challenges, you can learn to live outside your boundaries and prepare yourself for when life throws unexpected things at you.

In my situation, maybe changing jobs is the best thing that could ever happen to me. Or not. The only way I can find out is to get out my comfort zone.


Fear of missing out

What if there is something out there that will make you richer, happier, better off? Your comfort zone is actually restricting you and you don’t even know it. If your friends are having more fun, have more stuff than you, are they happier?

That feeling that you are missing out on more or something better was even added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2013 as FoMO the Fear of Missing Out. This goes much further than just finding the right job. According to this study, nearly three-quarters of young adults reported they experienced the phenomenon. This includes the countless nights where you stare at your phone, endlessly browsing social media, just to make sure you are not missing out on anything.

If you are not feeling great and turning to social media to make you feel better, it actually makes you feel worse. Comparing your life to others, whether on social media, on blogs, or even in real life, is never a good way to cheer yourself up. That is a big reason why we do not share our net worth or income reports.


Social comparison seems sufficiently destructive to our sense of well-being that it is worthwhile to remind ourselves to do it less. – Barry Schwartz 


If you are constantly wondering if you measure up to idealist lifestyles people are sharing, you are comparing yourself to the illusions people are deliberately sharing. Out of all your friends sharing their amazing vacations on Facebook, none ever shares the credit card bill they received the next month.

Maybe there is a better job out there but am I just seeing what I want to see. I am comparing all those job postings with salary-comparison sites and dreaming about the nice paychecks. Only using the recruiter’s description as a point of reference. However, just like on Facebook, job descriptions only show what they want you to see.

No recruiter will ever describe the redundancies or annoying micro-management that comes with the position. Nor will they ever talk about the fact that the co-worker you will be sitting next to yells over the phone all day and smells of fish-fillet after lunch but that is a risk to take if I want a new position.


Be grateful

Instead of comparing yourself with others, start looking at what you have. Be grateful for everything you take for granted. Your home, family, and friends are often overlooked. Just take a second to think of a life without those.

Gratitude improves one’s physical and mental health, improves self-esteem, enhances empathy and reduces aggression. The simple act of consciously appreciating people and things around you has been proven to make you happier. According to this study, grateful people are more agreeable, more open, and less neurotic and generally exhibit higher life satisfaction.

It sounds so simple. Say yes to life, it is not just worth living, but rich with texture and detail.

I am grateful for the position I have. Grateful for the company I work for, and grateful for my great colleges.

Is it worth it to jump ship? What do you think? Xyz.



Financial Independence

Put the Phone Down and Start Living

As part of our new Better Self series, I am committing to reading a book-a-week. This week, I was reading the Art of War from Steven Pressfield. It describes how we can avoid the roadblocks of any creative endeavor and how Resistance is the root of all procrastination, hesitation, and laziness. The book is about creativity but it briefly explains how any addiction, such as being addicted to your phone, is an excuse to evade our inner genius.


How many of us have become drunks and drug addicts, developed tumors and neuroses, succumbed to painkillers, gossip, and compulsive cell-phone use, simply because we don’t do that thing that our hearts, our inner genius, is calling us to? Resistance defeats us.- Steven Pressfield


I am not addicted to anything that would negate my health such as alcohol or drugs but, over the past few years, I did develop a compulsive behavior that does negate my mental awareness, social interactions, and creativity. I am a compulsive phone user.

Our minds are delicate little things. Too many obstructions and it will get lost, too little and it will get bored. In today’s world, boredom has become a rarity.

Smartphones have made most of us unconsciously avoiding boredom, even for seconds. Whether we are waiting for the bus or even just walking in the park, we get out our phones. Even for the smallest thing, like walking from one room to another, I would peak at my phone. Just to see that one, little, bright icon that notifies me of an uneventful event.

Don’t get me wrong, phones are amazing but only when it serves us. When your phone starts ruling your daily life, you wake up to a sad reality.

At one point, I was looking at my phone while watching television, as if my brain needed even more stimulation. I forgot to enjoy the present. Whatever I was doing, my phone was not very far away. I was addicted to the tiny amount of excitement my brain was getting for social media, texts, or any little notification that would pop on that screen.

I can remember, as a child, I would play outside, read books, or even play with the same old toy for hours. Where did that go?

Once I acknowledged the fact that I was addicted to my phone, I did something about it. I tracked my phone usage with a tracker app and saw how, on most days, I could spend over 2 to 3 hours on my phone. The number of times I would simply glance at the screen, even for a second, was scaring. My mind wanted to avoid boredom at all cost.

Boredom, however, greatly improves creativity, mindfulness, and relaxation. Letting yourself get bored for some instants, or simply enjoying your environment truly, without any diversions, is a real eye-opener.


Try it; put the phone away.


Even for a day, you will see how the world is around you, how wonderful people are, and how you do need to be reachable at all times.

For my part, I went on a phone diet, cutting down my usage and eliminating these unnecessary notification checks. Since I started decluttering most of my things, the next step was to declutter my distractions.

  • The first thing to do is to get a phone case with a flip cover. Hiding your screen makes it harder to peak over and stare at notifications. You can also achieve this by disabling all notifications on your lock screen.
  • Then, uninstall any application that bombards you for constant attention such as Facebook and e-mail. You can always access those in your browser without having it a click away.
  • If you do have some notifications on, set them to be soft-toned and on low-vibrations. They will be less obstructing.
  • Have some quiet time and respect your quiet time. Just leave the phone down.
  • Use your phone for all the great things it can do, not because you are bored. Allow yourself to be bored and discover the world around you and start being conscious whenever you are using your phone.
  • Focus on a single-tasking. If you are cooking supper, cook. You do not need to be checking out your Instagram feed while that pasta is boiling.

Once you clear the distractions out of your life, you will have a clearer mind. I started enjoying my interactions much more, connecting with people I am actually with rather than my phone.

Being idle sometimes also gives me an incentive to read a book, stare into the sky, look at the trees, be creative, and make connections with people around. As part of all this, I started reading a lot more, like a whole book more per week!


Social media is much less social than your local get-together.

Spend less time on social media and more time with the people around you. I have noticed my creativity, curiousness, and attentiveness increased. With constant access to the answer to any question I could think of, my brain had become lazy. When I do not know something or simply forget information, my brain has to work for it. Having to think about something makes me think and learn from a process.


Try it; don’t succumb to the urge to have your answers spoon-fed to you.


Creativity is also greatly affected by distractions. When I am writing, for example, having constant notifications or vibrations on disturbs my flow of thought. Furthermore, creativity often comes from boredom.

Boredom is actually a crucial tool for making your life happier, more productive, and more creative. We all have the need for our minds to wander, daydream and create. Finding a just balance between technology and your life is the key. Your mind will only wonder for so long before something new will emerge.


Don’t know where to start? Take the challenge day-by-day:

  • On day one, start tracking your phone usage with any free tracker app. It is truly eye-opening.
  • On day two, silence all your notifications.
  • On day three, uninstall any notification-intensive apps you didn’t miss the day before.
  • On day four, take a vacation. Leave the phone away
  • On day five, make a conscious choice to activate some notifications if they are truly important and leave the rest deactivated.


Now that you cleansed the distractions from your phone, enjoy life, flourish, and be happy. And try to read a bit more 🙂  Xyz.