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Sometimes you need to be reminded how lucky you are

by retirebyforty on December 13, 2013 · 40 comments

in travel

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Whew, we are back from our “vacation” to Southern California’s Inland Empire. Mrs. RB40 wanted to visit her family and friends so we went down a bit early to beat the holiday rush. This worked out quite well because the tickets were on sale and we didn’t have to fight the holiday travel crowd.

sometimes you need to be reminded how lucky you areWe were hoping for some nice weather, but it was super windy in her hometown. I guess I should have known that because of all the wind farms I’ve seen in the area. It was so windy that we had to stay indoors nearly the whole time we were there. We took a walk around the block once and RB40 Jr. was almost blown sideways. He kept asking to go back to the warm house. At least on our return, the wind was at our backs.  Mrs. RB40’s dad said it was an aftermath of the recent storm.

It was nice for Mrs. RB40 to visit her family and old high school friends. At the same time, it was tough for her to see some of her friends wrestle with the so many challenges that often seem insurmountable. Her hometown is not a place where large industries are clamoring to build facilities, so good paying jobs aren’t plentiful (unless you count the casino).  While the town is an inexpensive place to live and to raise a family compared to the rest of Southern California, many people end up commuting up to two hours a day to their jobs. Those who rent don’t always have landlords who fix the problems that occur.  One side of town could even be considered a bona fide food desert with the absence of a real grocery store. Upon reflection, she is really thankful for her life now. Even with a stay at home dad and a baby, she feels that she is doing better than if she had stayed.

From Mrs. RB40

I’m sure my parents would be thrilled if I moved back home.  It had been over three years since my last visit. I have a greater appreciation for the history of the area as well as the natural resource environment that exists.  I never noticed any of it when I was much younger.  But what would I do if I moved back to the area? I wouldn’t be able to just walk into a job (they are already occupied). I suppose an opportunity could be created similar to what Joe did for his blog, but returning to a rural area after creating a life in an urban setting is not something I want to do right now. I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to study elsewhere, to use what I’ve learned to earn a livable income, to travel far and wide, to have an entrepreneurial life partner who shares my values, and to have enough time to spend with our healthy kid.  My life is really good and I appreciate the opportunities that have opened doors even further for me.  I may not have had those same opportunities had I stayed in place.  Joe was a really good sport to accompany me on this reflective trip.

RB40 – I feel really lucky to have the life we have. We tend to compare ourselves to people who are doing better, but sometime we need to be reminded how lucky we are too. I really don’t want to move back to Southern California. You have to drive everywhere and it is just so busy.

Busy after getting home

loco mocoSo we got back home and the fridge is pretty much empty, but we were so tired of eating out. Her dad’s kitchen wasn’t really equipped for cooking and we went out most of the time. We did a masterful scrounging job and came up with a small menu to share between 2 adults and a little kid.

  • 2 frozen crab cakes, edamame, and Korean pancake with 2 green onions for Mrs. RB40 and Jr.
  • 2 burger patties, rice, 1 egg, and white gravy mix – I made loco moco for myself.

Our pantry was really bare after that and it’s time to go shopping to restock.

Now we are done with our holiday travel and it’s time to put up the old Christmas tree to create those magical moments for our kid! We didn’t want to the cats to chew on the tree while we were gone so we put it off until this weekend.

Do you have any travel plans for the holidays? 

photo credit: flickr anokarina and kcdsTM

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{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Teffany @ Critical Financial December 13, 2013 at 3:24 am

For this weekend me and my daughter are planning to buy some gifts and new sandals for her Christmas party. She doesn’t want to buy a new dress because she said she needs to save money. :)

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Wow, sandals? You must live pretty far south. :) It’s been so cold lately. Enjoy the holiday!

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Moneycone December 13, 2013 at 4:41 am

We didn’t travel this holiday season, but we did what you didn’t! Put up the Christmas tree!! :)

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Our kid will really enjoy the Christmas tree this year. He has been pointing out every Christmas trees he sees.

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Kali @ CommonSenseMillennial December 13, 2013 at 5:45 am

Love the sentiments of gratitude and happiness expressed here! You guys really do have a wonderful life and I’m glad you share part of it with us here in the blogosphere. Hope everyone has fun getting the tree up and decorating now that you’re traveling is done! All our family that we spend time with at the holidays lives close by, so we won’t be doing any traveling until spring.

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:39 pm

Thanks! I really feel lucky to be able to share with so many readers.

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Insourcelife December 13, 2013 at 6:04 am

We all tend to surround ourselves with the people who are mostly just like ourselves and it’s easy to start thinking that’s how everyone else lives. Travelling is a great way to get out of the bubble and it does not even have to be international.

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:40 pm

You’re right. It depends on your location too. If you live in a richer area, it’s much harder to be satisfied with what you have.

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Woman with a Plan @ changetherace December 13, 2013 at 6:05 am

My husband and I had a “oh wow, we are so blessed” moment when we were in the airport (with toddler, two dogs, and loads of luggage) this week to fly back to our hometown for almost a month-long holiday visit. With my job, I can work from anywhere there is internet and cell phone service, so I don’t have to take a month-long vacation. My husband just finished his semester at school and has no obligations until mid-January. And we have family we not only love, but like! Being able to go back home for a month is a luxury and one that many of our friends can’t afford to do; I’m going to try to remember that in week 3 when family dynamics start surfacing… :)

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:41 pm

Have a great visit! A month would be way too long for us. We like our home too much. :)
The family dynamic starts surfacing pretty quickly.

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Pretired Nick December 13, 2013 at 6:38 am

Great perspective, Joe! Every time I go back to where I grew up, it’s pretty mind-blowing how far I’ve come. It’s always good to remember how good we have it!

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:42 pm

It’s great to visit once in a while, but not for long. :)

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kammi December 13, 2013 at 6:46 am

I LOVE Korean pancakes! (especially the seafood ones) I love curry more, though, and am currently addicted to Sweet potato Pan at the Japanese Bakery. I’m going home to my little home country in the Caribbean for the holiday season (where I was born and grew up; my parents still live there and I have a house there). I’ll miss everyone in LA, but it’s good to have a break and I love celebrating Christmas there. I think travelling is very doable if you make it a goal or plan for a big one and have little mini goals that add up to the big goal of going to X or Y location. In five years, I plan to visit Rome and Prague. Maybe Budapest one day, Ecuador, and definitely Switzerland. I could afford Italy now (a group I am a part of goes every summer), but I want to continue my savings/investing habit so that I can comfortably continue my savings and ease it into an annual ‘travel budget’ with no effect on my savings (cutting my expenditure here and there and making that amount part of my official ‘travel budget’). Also, I was wondering on your thoughts in investing in things like fine art (well known, sought after pieces that you could resell). I know a few people who do this sort of thing. Is it something you’d ever invest in?

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I love the Korean seafood pancake too. Have a great trip! The Caribbean is amazing and should be much warmer than the mainland, right? It’s so cold this year. Italy is a lot of fun too. I think you should try to go soon. Don’t put it off too long.
I’m not a big fan of fine art. I don’t know enough about it to make money at it. Also a rambunctious 2 year old can be tough on art works…

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Justin @ RootofGood December 13, 2013 at 7:19 am

It’s always good to put life in perspective. Sometimes you get lost in the pursuit of “more” and “better” that you forget to be content with “enough” once you have it!

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:45 pm

That’s true. We are so busy that we don’t have time to count our blessings.

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Kim December 13, 2013 at 9:27 am

I have that same feeling whenever I go to visit my family in rural KY. My mom practically begs us to move there, but there are no opportunities, and I never really agreed with the attitudes of most of the people who live there as far as being open minded and wanting to see the world. I am so thankful for education that allowed me to get a job that earns money and move anywhere I wanted. I still live in a small town, but can’t think of a better fit at this time.

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Education is a great equalizer. That’s why I want to save as much as I could for our kid’s 529.

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Micro December 13, 2013 at 9:47 am

I have another week of work and then B and I will be leaving to go to her parents for a week. It will be nice to be able to have a week off from work and just relax. It also helps that Christmas shopping is done so I don’t have any last minute errands to run.

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Have a great trip!

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Erin @ My Alternate Life December 13, 2013 at 11:31 am

I’m traveling back home, but not until after the holidays. I head back at the beginning of January to see my family in Ohio :)

For Christmas, it will be very low key this year. Just dinner and quality time with my husband!

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:47 pm

Have a great trip! I think it’s a great idea to delay until after Christmas. Travel is so crazy during the holiday.

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EL @ Moneywatch101 December 13, 2013 at 11:58 am

For the sake of the question I do not have any travel plans until next October. Everyone definitely has ups and downs in life, but we have to appreciate all the good things we have. I can’t imagine living in a food desert or living in a place with no jobs. I like my little surburban/ urban town. I can walk everywhere.

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:48 pm

That’s why I love Portland. It’s so easy to walk everywhere and take public transportation. I wouldn’t want to live where we’d have to drive so much.

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Done by Forty December 13, 2013 at 1:36 pm

That Loco Moco looks amazing.

My mom retired to the High Desert out by San Bernadino and I have similar feelings about the place. It seems like a good low COL area and seems like a good place to retire, but my sister drives like crazy to get to school and work. The job opportunities don’t seem to pay a high enough wage.

Maybe a solid place to retire, but a tough place to cut your teeth…

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retirebyforty December 13, 2013 at 2:50 pm

The loco moco was quite good. I think the key is that you have to be really hungry. :)
Yeah, I think that’s the same area. It’s definitely getting better though. More stores and people, but it’s still hard to find a good job.

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101 Centavos December 13, 2013 at 3:53 pm

A two-hour commute sounds insane. While some things are relative, wasting that much of your life isn’t.

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JayCeezy December 15, 2013 at 9:04 am

Right? I did it for four years, 2:15 each way. Nothing I tried made the commute shorter or easier to bear, taking the train part-way, different times, different routes. My car turned into a “hate castle” 4.5 hours a day! It seemed like a good deal on paper, but years later I am still paying the price.:-) It is one of those “frog in the pot” things that Joe writes about now and then. You buy a house. You need a good job. The job is far away, and you can’t find one that pays as well any nearer. You want to move, but can’t sell the house. People are depending on you. Blah, blah, blah. Anyway, I completely take your point that the 2+ hour commute is ‘insane’.

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retirebyforty December 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm

Oh man, that sucks. I hope you’re in a better situation now.

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retirebyforty December 15, 2013 at 10:43 pm

Yeah, that’s crazy. Even 1 hour each way was already too much for me.

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Bryce @ Save and Conquer December 14, 2013 at 9:35 am

We scratched our travel itch over the Thanksgiving holidays by going to Hawaii. Most of our family lives nearby. We will have Christmas eve celebration with my wife’s extended family, and then celebrate Christmas dinner with my extended family. My family invited my wife’s folks, as well. We’ll see if we have a giant get-together on Christmas.

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retirebyforty December 15, 2013 at 10:44 pm

Have a great Christmas! Our extended family are all over the place so it’s hard to get together.

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MoneySheep December 15, 2013 at 7:57 am

I went to south Florida 2 weeks ago (Miami, etc). Nice and warm, but dont know what to think about the economy. There were pockets of glamorous area like everyone have seen on TV or heard about it. Overall on the street, economy looked slow. Is life good for average joe? I dont know. Just an observation.

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retirebyforty December 15, 2013 at 10:56 pm

I haven’t been to Florida, but I had the impression that there are quite a lot of slower areas over there. Housing is affordable in many area right?

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Tushar @ Everything Finance December 15, 2013 at 8:56 pm

There are a lot of people around my hometown that have a hard time finding jobs and staying employed, too. The town isn’t very large and it’s no doubt that the town has stayed small. Not many companies have moved in to help out.

Luckily this year my family is coming to my house, so I don’t have to travel anywhere.

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Sean December 17, 2013 at 11:35 am

Great post and great job on the loco moco! I’m originally from Hawaii (live in Seattle now) and can always appreciate a good loco moco.

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mary w December 19, 2013 at 3:49 pm

Okay. I’m guessing Banning or maybe Cabazon. My hairdresser (much older than your wife) grew up in Banning. Both towns are very close to a wind farm. I figure not Palm Springs and probably not elsewhere in the Coachella Valley or there’d be more options for work close by. Wind is also a bigger issue in the I-10 corridor than around the corner in Palm Springs.

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retirebyforty December 19, 2013 at 9:52 pm

You’re right. It’s around there. I can’t believe how windy it was. I visited many time before and never had to deal with high wind.

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Felix Lee December 21, 2013 at 8:49 pm

I am so guilty with this. I have to admit that there are really times that I feel so down and that I feel so worthless and unlucky. But at the end of the day, as I look at my family especially my kids, the remind me how lucky I still am despite of everyday trials that I have to face.

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retirebyforty December 23, 2013 at 10:32 am

Sometime we forget how lucky we are. There are so many people who are struggling much more than we are. Good luck and have a great holidays.

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