Hi $wanigans! Welcome back to The Green Swan. A couple Saturdays ago my wife, Lucy, and I took advantage of daycare’s “parents’ night out”. It’s basically a reasonably priced babysitter option, a playdate for our kids and it offers us much valued adult time. While out for dinner we found ourselves reflecting on how we got to where we are today. In the eyes of most people, we’re weirdos. We may look normal (sort of…), but if people really knew what we were all about…we’re weird and I’m ok admitting it. We are committed members of two “weird” subcultures. And we have the birth of our boys to thank for drastically changing our life direction.
Health and Wealth
As Lucy and I were reflecting, we’re digging life right now. Things are good. We’re blessed. There are no major stressors in our life right now. We’re happy, healthy, and financially comfortable. We’re enjoying our work and have a good life balance. It sounds like we were having a Thanksgiving meal in March, huh?!
Our life isn’t ours yet though, we still “work for the man”. But we’re working to maximize our financial stability at the same fast and furious approach as we always have. In the meantime we are taking steps to maximize our health so we can live the most active and long life as possible.
Health and wealth. That’s what it is all about and our pursuit thereof has never been so clear. Maximizing health and wealth is what has led us into two “weird” subcultures. The financial independence retire early (FIRE) subculture and the whole food, plant based diet subculture.
Doesn’t everyone want health and wealth? I would think so. But everyone has different priorities. Somehow our pursuit of health and wealth led us to two small, unique, and, to many people, weird subcultures.
I guess we didn’t always have these goals on the forefront of our minds. That’s why we must thank our kiddos for drastically changing our life direction. Things are clear for us right now. Our boys helped crystalize them. We always wanted health and wealth before, but now we have a plan. Now we know how to maximize health and wealth, we know what we need to do to achieve them, and now we are confident we are on the right track and that our plan and strategy is proven to work (in both the health and wealth arenas).
So how did our boys impact our life direction? What factor did they play in this whole transformation and crystallization of life pursuits? It is all about designing the life we want. We’ve been doing better in designing that ideal life in the last few years; ever since our boys led us in the right direction…
Financial Independence Retire Early
Our oldest son will be four years old in April. I credit him for getting us involved in the financial independence and retire early subculture. It was around the time we were pregnant with him that Lucy and I began to look into life insurance.
Most people start to consider life insurance when they have a mortgage and kiddos. These are big expenses that you don’t want to strap your spouse with on a single income. We already had a mortgage and now that we were starting a family, we did the prudent thing and began our research.
What we ended up determining was based on our financial condition at the time (nearly ~$500K in savings/investments), life insurance wasn’t all that necessary. We had quite a safety net that was only going to grow more rapidly in the coming years with our continued contributions, etc.
This got me thinking. If we were on the fast-track to not needing any form of life insurance (and hence a second income to support our family), at what point would we not need any employment income? This lead me down a whole new path of research at which point I stumbled across the financial independence and retire early subculture.
Granted, Lucy and I were already living the lifestyle of many in the FIRE subculture were, but we didn’t know it. And we didn’t have any formulated ideas or plans in place. At the time, we knew we were saving well and becoming “wealthy”, but to us that meant was maybe we’d retire at 55 to 60 with just a whole bunch of money. At no point had we ever thought or contemplated the idea of growing our wealth enough to support retiring in our 30s!
That is how the dominos began to fall. Joining the FIRE crowd has cemented so many things for us that it is hard to list. The Green Swan has been a part of that transition over the last two years, documenting our journey and evolution. If it wasn’t for our first kiddo coming into this world, we wouldn’t have stumbled across the FIRE community, we wouldn’t have fine-tuned and optimized our lifestyle as precisely, we wouldn’t have formulated our retirement number, decided on a retirement date, or understood so clearly our plan to drawdown our investments in a tax free and efficient manner.
Heck, we wouldn’t have even gotten into travel hacking and be taking our 10-year anniversary trip to Greece for free (thank you, son)!
Perhaps most importantly, if it wasn’t for our first son we wouldn’t have been spurred to get our arms around our finances so well and so comfortable with our wealth and retirement plan that ultimately gave me the comfort to make a career change to get my work life balance in order.
Put one on the board for our oldest son. Put one on the board for FIRE. Put one on the board for pursuing a life worth living.
Our eldest set the bar high, but wealth is only half the equation. Our second born led us to transforming our health.
Whole Food Plant Based Diet
Lucy and I have always been fairly health conscious folks. Similar to how we were before FIRE though (just blindly saving and investing), we were trying to be healthy with no idea how.
For instance, we thought we were being healthy by limiting red meat and instead eating more fish and chicken…we thought milk was good for us…etc. If this is your thought of healthy eating too, then you may be in for just as big of an eye-opener as Lucy and I were…
Our second kiddo was born and changed that. Lucy and I were both on family leave. We continued to take our eldest to daycare. At home, while our newborn would sleep so peacefully on our chests, what else would we do besides Netflix and chill…
For the first time in a long time, we caught up on a lot of documentaries. After an interesting one titled Forks Over Knives, we then watched one titled Food Choices. Don’t you love how Netflix algorithms can help recommend the next documentary? I recommend them both!
This led to a multitude of other documentaries, books, blogs, podcasts, etc. The most famous of which would be The China Study and I quickly became a big fan of Dr. Gregor including his cookbook How Not to Die, his app titled Daily Dozen, and his podcast called Nutrition Facts.
No later than a month after our second boy came into this world, Lucy and I made our plant based diet proclamation. We have a new grocery shopping routine down, we have a new set of baseline recipes we rotate through, we quickly got past the “frankenmeat stage”, we know how to travel and keep our health diet intact, we are beginning to understand our needs for vitamin supplements (if you understand the plant based diet you know I’m referencing B12 and a few others; for the unfamiliar meat-eaters no, I’m not talking about protein and calcium…), and we are fully committed to what many consider the healthiest diet ever.
If you aren’t living the healthiest lifestyle and want to get on track, let me share the most helpful lesson I learned in this transition for me. It’s the food. It is not how much exercise you are doing or how much food you eat, it’s the food you choose to eat. IT’S THE FOOD. Period.
Want proof? For me personally it was cemented just two months ago. In 2016, before changing to the whole food plant based diet, I was still regularly active and exercised. Per my lab screenings and blood tests dated March 2017, my cholesterol and glucose (sugar) levels were in the normal and healthy range. With the birth of our second kiddo in April 2017, I more or less have dropped exercise completely (can you blame me…?), but we transitioned to our new plant based diet. Per my test results dated January 2018 (about 8 months into the new diet), my cholesterol had dropped over 25% and my glucose levels dropped nearly 20%!
It isn’t as if I had a lot of improvement to gain in the beginning, my scores were “good” to begin with! Talk about going from good to great! And it isn’t as if I began exercising, I actually stopped exercising at basically the same time as I switched diet. Now my cholesterol and sugar levels are at the best I’ve ever been tested at before in my adult-life!
Put one on the board for our second son. Put one on the board for the whole food plant based diet. Put one on the board for pursuing a life worth living.
After all, what is wealth if you don’t have health?
Lucy and I are proud members of the financial independence retire early (FIRE) subculture and more recently we are proud members of the plant based diet subculture. In other words, we are proud weirdos.
We have an idea of what we want our lives to be and we’re actively designing that life in the pursuit of maximizing health and wealth. We couldn’t do it without the great communities we’ve found in financial independence retire early subculture or the whole food plant based diet subculture. Our life direction is now on a completely different path and we have our two boys to thank, uniquely and individually!
We’re loving life. We love our two boys. And we love how unexpectedly they have changed our life direction! Financial independence and a plant based diet go together like sweet potatoes and pasta sauce! Health and wealth, my friends!
Thanks for taking a look!
The Green Swan