Category Archives: Yippie

Manifesting Our Dream Homes

The listing photo for our San Rafael home.

The listing photo for our San Rafael home.

I actually wrote this a full year ago (before we sold our Portland house, and bought our dream home in Astoria), but never posted it. I think I must have been too scared to believe, since it really didn’t feel possible at the time. Yet, before I share about manifesting our newest dream home, I thought I should finally post about our first experiences:

Our first dream home was a simple northwest-style cottage with cedar siding, hardwoods and plenty of lovely vintage windows. Before starting our search, we made up our wish list. The house matched it perfectly. It had just been flipped, so interior didn’t need much work, and we were able to focus our energy on designing and implementing my permaculture plan. We really wanted to be close to a park, and our place was so close to Arbor Lodge Park that I could watch dogs frolic as I washed the dishes. It was the perfect size for a couple, but as soon as I had Kieran, we suddenly felt cramped…for good reason; his nursery had previously been my closet.

So, we started to house hunt. We looked at just one home that we fell in love with, which had almost an identical layout as our current home…our Realtor could hardly believe how similar the two homes were. But we quickly realized that we couldn’t afford what we wanted…de ja vu to my recent experience of feeling a big financial gap.

By another year later, we did both save and grow our income enough to afford the house we really wanted. It’s good to remember how I manifested it to begin with. I’ve told the story to plenty of friends about how when we were house shopping we had found a descent place in the Beaumont neighborhood near many friends, but the yard was tiny, the layout wasn’t great, and the kitchen was atrocious (think pink tiles with inset electric burners!). So, one night as I was debating whether I could manage a full kitchen remodel, I decided that I needed to envision what it would look like. In my mind I created an open floor plan with a butcher block island in the center, open white cabinets, stainless steel appliances, pantry space, and a cozy kitchen nook. Then I painted it purple and smiled as I drifted to sleep…

Then, just as we accepted a fantastic offer on our first home, I found the listing. Touring the house felt like a dream come true, as I checked off all the details on our wish list, including my perfect purple kitchen.

We’ve lived in our lovely 1904 Victorian for six years now, moving in when I was pregnant with Makenna. Kieran was a chubby faced toddler when we moved in. Our family has literally grown here with peaceful home birth memories for both of my daughters. It feels like home in the best of ways, and it is a sentimental place for me.

Lately our home no longer feels like my current dream home, even though I kind of nudge myself to be grateful for all the beauty and comfort that surrounds me. I’m simply ready to manifest a new dream home.

So, my first step is coming up a detailed list of my new dream home…then feeling the joy inside…then keeping the faith that we will be able to make the leap.

Do you live in your dream home?  Do you believe in manifesting one?

Darcy

Miel’s Million Dollar Net Worth

Miel Net Worth One Million

This is the first time that I’ve really shared about my net worth directly on Sustainable Family Finances. I was actually one of the first finance bloggers to share their net worth publically (on my old site DINKs Finance). I’ve continuous posted about my net worth for ten years. I’ve also been featured on J Money’s Top Net Worths for Finance Bloggers on RockStar Finance, coming in at number 11 of the 180 finance bloggers who publically share their net worth.

This is also my first time posting my net worth as an individual; previously I had always posted a joint net worth, but that is no longer the case after my recent divorce. This started at $300k back in 2005 and was  tracked over time to hit the Million dollar mark in 2013.

It is bold to be the first. It is also a bit scary. It also doesn’t matter how much money you have or don’t have. Yes, if you are wondering, I have been criticized for sharing. I guess it came off as bragging, even though I had considerable less than I do today. But I also feel a certain obligation to myself and know if I track my progress and create goals for myself, that I can take what I have and grow it into whatever I can dream it to be. I also hope that it is helpful for readers to see what is feasible over a decade.

My first official individual net worth comes in at $1,058,434. My ability to grow and create wealth so far has been pretty impressive. (Darcy is giving me a virtual high five…this is huge!). I’ve worked my ass off for sure. I’ve never really ever had just one job. I’ve always juggle a few different income generating activities. Being a landlord for 12 years should say enough. I started saving for retirement at $25 a month and grew that to over $300k.

Miel Hendrickson Net worth 10282015

As you can see, the more you have, the more you owe. Making money is not for sissies. Owing nearly a million dollars is not something to take lightly. Wealth comes with a great deal of responsibilities and its own set of challenges.

My net worth gives a pretty candid look at where I’m at financially. What it doesn’t show is what comes next. I’m at a space in my life where I’m looking at this question very closely. How best do I leverage what I have to create financial stability and long term wealth creation? Follow along to find out!

Cheers,

Miel

Why does divorce cost so much? Because it is worth it. (It might be a sign when your well paid marriage counselor shares this with you…)

prenupIf you are part of the one third of Americans who have experienced divorce, then you clearly have your own war stories to share.

It’s going to happen [sometimes], so let this story of mine be advice that is kind of like an insurance policy. I hope you’ll never have to use it, but you’ll be glad you had it if you do.

Laws differ in every state, and are complicated by kids, real property, debts, and businesses. Mine involved all four. But an hour with an attorney was all the legal counsel I needed, while my ex chose to keep a lawyer on retainer.

It surprisingly took us about an hour to hash out the details of how we would divide our assets. Just like that, it was settled. It still took about 5 months to go through the motions and have a finalized divorce (feet dragging was at play). All the important details were sorted in what felt like record time.

It helped that we had a prenup. Though we didn’t actually divide things even close to what we had originally agreed upon, the general tenants were stood by. Rewind to a decade prior, and thankfully we had the foresight to realize that our financial lives might look very different. I read a short but helpful book on prenups, “What to do, before ‘I do'”, that was more helpful than the lawyer I paid.

The main aspects of our agreement were:

  1. Premarital assets would remain individual. (James had one rental property and I had no assets to speak of).
  2. Retirement funds would be kept as individual. (James had about $70k in retirement, but by the time we divorced, I would have triple of his retirement).
  3. Any inheritance would be kept separate. (I would have hoped not to receive any inheritance by now, but had heard a horror story of someone whose wife got the house that the husband had bought with the inheritance he had gotten when his mother died. This was just a year after her death and a few years into marriage.)
  4. No alimony. (James had seen his dad pay alimony and didn’t like the taste of it. Though in reality if we had divorced a couple of years ago, I might have been the one paying him.)
  5. Our primary residence would be split 70/30, in my favor. (This was due to expecting that I would pay for more of our household expenses as James was headed into a Ph.D. program just after we married. I would end up supporting the majority of our household expenses over a 5 year period).

When it came down to the dissolution of our marriage, our net worth would be more than a million dollars and include a variety of assets. It ended up working out that James would propose what he felt was fair, and I agreed with only a few tweaks. It looked like this:

James got our blogging business that spun off of the original DINKs Finance and $20k in cash that he would use to further build this business and build a revenue stream from.

In turn, I got all four properties (two rentals in DC, one beach cabin bought with inheritance money, and my sweet pad in NE Portland), plus all remaining joint funds that had come from the sale of our last place in DC.

We both got wanted we wanted, though in turn have the responsibility of managing complex asset portfolios. (Whoever thinks income generation is a passive sport has never had assets to manage). Despite the fact that managing them will be a source of some stress, I think I got the better deal. (As my college friend Eli put it, “In Monopoly, no one ever wins with the utilities.”)

Best advice about prenups: get one to protect yourself (even if you aren’t going to get a divorce and don’t have any assets). It may not feel romantic, but if you can’t talk frankly about finances, you probably aren’t ready for marriage. Here is my original post on prenups, at the time of writing one.

Best advice about divorce: Establish common ground and don’t sell yourself sort.

Best advice about lawyers: Use them sparingly. If we had both taken our lawyer’s advice, then things would have been much more complex, drawn out, and neither of us would have gotten what we wanted.

Best,

Miel

Game Changers

We have been a busy pair of twins lately, it seems we are competing for the most change in our lives. This summer Darcy unexpectedly moved her family out to Astoria, Oregon and I finalized my divorce after a 9 year marriage, and 23 year relationship. Big changes in our lives.

 

Moving and divorce both clearly have significant impacts on a family’s finances, so we will be sharing a series of post about the lessons we’ve learned along the way. First, a bit of the backstory.

Darcy will undoubtedly share in more detail about her move and new home, but I will start telling the story of how the Cronins made their way out to the land of the Goonies. Their family had already been planning and preparing to move within Portland, though they had initially been looking at the Irvington neighborhood in NE. In the incredibly hot Portland real estate market, this was a pretty big leap of faith. In crunching the numbers, it looked like there was about $100k gap from what they wanted, and what reality could afford. Nevertheless, they continued to plow ahead, with faith that they would land in their next dream home. Little did they know that it would be in Astoria, at a fraction of the price of what their new home would cost in Portland. All this happened in three months flat.

 
I took a similar leap of faith last year at this time, moving from Washington, DC to Oregon with a newborn and the possibility of a new dream job. I landed (what appeared to be) my dream job, and closed on my new home on the same day. Meanwhile, it was evident from before the move (but truthfully long before then), that my marriage to my high school sweetheart was on the rocks. Despite having a long history and several business partnerships, we had lived much of our relationship apart from each other and did not have the same dreams in life.
 
Luckily we were able to agree quickly on the terms of our divorce and the division of assets. Things have been amicable throughout, though divorce is never easy. Meanwhile, my thought-to-be dream job was causing more stress than my workaholic career in DC and abroad ever had. Suffice to say that being micromanaged at a small nonprofit, after having successfully managed millions of dollars and hundreds of staff in the most difficult places on earth, was not my cup of tea. On what would have been my 9th wedding anniversary, I opted to step down from my job and could not be happier than to have moved on from both. Since then, the whirlwind has continued, as I manifested my dream partner Adam and have been pursuing various entrepreneurial endeavors. I look forward to sharing more with readers along the journey.
 
Cheers,
 
Miel

Astoria or Bust!!

The view from the balcony off the girls' bedroom, McClure Park is across the street and downtown is just a few blocks away!

The view from the balcony off the girls’ bedroom, McClure Park is across the street and downtown is just a few blocks!

Wow, I can hardly believe that I haven’t written about our family’s big move to Astoria. Personally, it feels like a pretty incredible story and there have been tons of money conversations along the way and still pending…we are set to close on our house in Portland this week (thankfully able to rent back) and crossing our fingers as we negotiate some pretty significant repairs for “our new house” in Astoria.

For those of you I’m not connecting with on Facebook/LinkedIn, my hubby, Kevin, has accepted the Community Development Director position for the City of Astoria. It’s truly his dream job, and I can hardly wait to see the ripple effect of his work in the community. For those curious about the town, I wrote a brief history below.*

After momentarily being taken aback at the idea of moving, and how it wasn’t my current “vision” for our family, and once I opened myself up to the idea, I realized that it actually expands my vision of what’s possible for us. Yes, it’s a tremendous leap of faith and a gargantuan task, but the truth is that I’ve felt more in flow in the past few months than ever before.

Here are the highlights of just how serendipitous things have been throughout:

  • We actually decided in January when setting our family goals for the year that we were ready to sell our house…although at the time we were planning to move into Irvington (we even put an offer on a house a block from school that wasn’t accepted!)
  • So, we had already been repairing and purging and prepping to put our house on the market by May.
  • I was still on the fence about the idea of moving when Kevin left to interview, but in the two days while he was away I realized just what a golden opportunity this would be for us.
  • Kevin was given a verbal offer just the morning after he returned…we both ended up having to be patient for another month until the final contract was settled.
  • Knowing that we needed to sell/move relatively quickly, we put our house on the market the very same weekend that we went out to Astoria to go house hunting.
  • Once we were visiting Astoria with the intention of moving, I suddenly realized how similar it feels to Kalundborg where I lived in Denmark. Add the wind and rain, and I’m going to feel right at home!
  • Our place in Portland quickly to a sweet couple from Brooklyn for what seems to be the new going rate in town of $51k above asking. (The process has been seamless, we’ll very soon be renting back our house until early August).
  • The very first house that I fell in love with online is the one that we have currently pending and very much hope to buy (structural issues and all!) I’ve started thinking of it as Mit Eventyr Hus (My Fairy House). It’s an amazing Craftsman home built in 1915 for a local Finnish surgeon. On top of having a spacious upstairs, it has a library, parlor, sun porch, theater and a hot tub in the basement! The home inspector thought that the woodwork alone would cost around $250k to replicate today. In Portland’s market the house would surely be over a million dollars!
  • Serendipitously, the house is on 7th Street, and my Twin Sis, Miel, lives on 7th Avenue in Portland. Our father’s birthday was on the December 7th, her son’s birthday is on the June 7th…and we were born in 1977. Very auspicious and spooky cool indeed.
  • On top of all this, nearly everyone I meet suddenly has a connection to Astoria: neighbors, friends, coaches…the New Season’s clerk!

From our view, one of the only trade offs is the rainy climate…It rains about ten inches each month from November to January! So, on our list of plans/desires is to get some stylish galoshes and rain gear that will help us embrace the rainy season. 🙂 Our family is savoring the summer heat, knowing that we’ll soon be adapting to the coastal climate. Truthfully, Makenna actually loves the wind and rain, and even made up her own song on our first visit.

There’s so much to share about our move. As much as I will miss be just a mile from Miel and Clark, and our lovely Portland lifestyle, I am simply so excited about our new life ahead of us!

Thanks for all of your well wishes on our pending move!

Darcy

*Astoria 101: For those of you only know of Astoria New York, aka Queens, Astoria Oregon is a beautiful maritime city at the mouth of the Columbia River. It’s the oldest white settlement west of the Rockies, and is near where Lewis and Clark first set up camp at Fort Clatsop. Interestingly, the town was booming a century ago and had nearly the same population as today. Astoria was the second largest city in Oregon with a population of 8,975. The population now is just over 10,000 (From the City of Astoria website). People talked about it being the “San Francisco of the North,” but apparently it rained too much in the winter for most people to stay.