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It’s all about your perspective.

Why do we hesitate to make choices? I believe that a lot of our hesitation is based upon the risk we are willing to take. At least that is the case for me. What sold me on our newest decision is the art of changing the perspective. Instead of thinking of a decision as a potential risk, I am thinking about it as an experiment. Boom! Mind Blown…right!? I truly felt like this was genius. This allows you to take failure completely out of the picture. This idea alone has really opened up my mind to endless possibilities. It has also encouraged me in regards to this blog. We have been super busy with life lately and that is why it has taken me so long to write this post. Some disappointments have come up but good things too. I want this to be raw and I don’t want to hold back. I want to write about the things in our life that excite and intrigue us. I also want you, the reader, to find it beneficial or at least get a good laugh in. This is the goal..

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From now on, this blog will be a priority. It will be a priority because it is important to us and we are hoping it can be a part of our future. I want to document both our ups and downs; and the daily blah as well. This is the real stuff going on in our life.

I had originally planned to write about our vegan keto “diet” experiment. However, that honestly just sounded boring to me. We have not been as successful with it as we had planned; but we are changing our habits a little bit. Every time we have fallen off the band wagon, we have  jumped back on. This was not always the case in the past; so I view this as a positive change. Other than that, I don’t feel like our diet experiment is anything to write home about. This is the truth, and we have more exciting things to write about anyways. Let’s be realistic; you didn’t want to hear about our vegan keto diet anyways.

September was supposed to be a good month, The Month. It was supposed to be the month that we got pregnant, then came October; and we were unlucky again. We are sadly not pregnant yet; but that discussion is for another day. All you need to know right now is that we are not giving up just yet; and we still have lot’s going on.

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We paid off my car, we got accepted for the Chase Sapphire Travel Credit card, we are planning a trip to Europe; and WE ARE BUYING A CONDO, YAYYY! So, what I am saying is that we are choosing to look at the positives. Back to the story.

Let’s back track first. Picture it, there we were, waiting for good news on all fronts. I had not felt any period cramps and was sure that this would be the month. In the meantime; we had gotten in everything to the lender that was necessary and we were ready to close. As many have said before; it is never easy. To make a long story short, we ended the day with period cramps and news that we were not going to get the condo.

Fast forward again, we will be closing on the condo this Wednesday and I start tracking ovulation again tomorrow. AKA, Success! We are fortunate enough to have some wonderful people helping us out, including my wonderful uncle. This means lots of Reno and lots of Pinterest in our future. We will be DIYing the crap out of this beautiful condo and we can’t wait to share our pictures and many more important details!

Stay tuned friends; this is going to be quite a journey.

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

Cheers,

A & M

 

YES, we get enough f*ing protein…

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This blog is about our pursuit of happiness. With this, comes not only travel and location independence, but also food and health. I really struggled to write this post because I did not want to alienate anyone. Even in 2018; I still get questions/comments like “what do you eat”, or “you know we have canine teeth for a reason right”. Many restaurants don’t know the difference between vegan and gluten free.  There are so many pictures of what a “vegan” looks like and along with that, so many assumptions. I am not here to fight with anyone about whether or not the way I choose to live my life makes sense. I am here to tell you about our journey and ours alone.

As we have been posting pictures of food on here and on our Instagram #suitcaseandaplaylist; we realized that we hadn’t really talked about the fact that we do live a vegan lifestyle and how we got there. To many people’s surprise, our stories are very different in that sense. Here they are.

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I grew up eating your typical meat and potato diet with a side of vegetables in every meal. I continued this way of eating through out college and through my early twenties. When I started having doubts about those choices; I went pescatarian for a year, and vegetarian for two years after that. I had always said that I would never be able to give up cheese. I mean, what kind of good greek gives up feta? The kind that can still make a killer spanakopita without the cheese. Check out this recipe for Vegan Spanakopita, it looks simple but is amazing. Thank god filo dough is vegan, phew! The final straw for me was a video that I accidently stumbled onto. I watched the video one day and then went vegan the very next day.  I have now lived a vegan lifestyle for about 6 years. This change wasn’t that hard for me because I went vegan for my morals. Although I understand that everyone may not feel the same; I feel good everyday knowing that my lifestyle does not involve animal products. I may not always make the healthiest food decisions; but I am not perfect.

For example, here is another recent baked good I made recently by The Minimalist Baker.

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Amanda’s story was a little different. She decided to go vegan to help her health.  She had been diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in her mid twenties and was feeling like crap. She had severe joint pain and her food choices were only making her feel worse. Within a short period of time; she quit smoking and adopted a vegan lifestyle. Although this did not completely remedy her condition; it helped her to feel A LOT better overall.

The majority of our diet consist of vegetables, but I too have my downfalls; dark chocolate, potato chips, and I enjoy baking. Amanda has a hard time saying no to vegan ice cream, especially Ben & Jerry’s non dairy Peanut Butter and Cookies. So good! Like I’ve said many times, just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s good for you. We talk pretty regularly about how we can be healthier and make better choices on a regular basis. Cooking every day of the week can be exhausting and it’s easy to get lazy and just want to order take out. Our nutrition is a constant work in progress, and we are okay with that.

We make our own choices and believe that everyone has the right to make theirs as well. Every body has different needs.  With that in mind; we do believe that eating a meal full of vegetables and non animal protein can be very healthy. Have you ever thought of participating in Meatless Monday’s? Here are some stats to think about, courtesy of earthday.org.

  • If you ate one less burger a week, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for 320 miles.
  • Skip meat and cheese one day a week with your family, it would be the equivalent of taking your car off the road for five weeks-or reducing everyone’s daily showers by 3 minutes.
  • Skip steak once a week with your family, it would be the equivalent of taking our car off the road for nearly three months.
  • And if the entire U.S. did not eat meat or cheese for just one day a week, it would be the equivalent of not driving 91 billion miles-or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.

 

Here are a few of our favorite recipes!

 

PS: Oh, and the protein thing…we’ll get into that soon enough. Check out our next post, we are doing an experiment and would love for you to follow us along on it.

 

All you need is a suitcase and a play list.

 

Cheers,

A&M

 

No time for cheesecake

Why is my vegan cheesecake not setting? Ugh!? This is just the cherry on top of a typical day where I struggle with doing to much and not enough all at the same time. Here was my day. I got up at 4:50 am, worked from 6am-2:30pm, drove home; then I remembered that I still needed to go to the pharmacy and fill up my gas tank. I ran those errands, came home, said hi to Yiayia, then began doing dishes and laundry. At some point in there I walked the dog, cleaned up the kitchen; and made dinner and vegan cheesecake. The cheesecake remained jiggly when I took it out of the oven and I was sure it wouldn’t firm up. I figured that I must have done something wrong; I was honestly kind of bummed. I thought I was too busy and didn’t pay enough attention. This seems like a normal thing for me lately. I have so much that I want to get done. Living with your family can be hard because there is always a mess. Sometimes it’s our mess and sometimes it’s not, but I certainly don’t want to leave it there. I want to be a contributing member of our household and I don’t want to leave dishes for other people to do. I am having trouble balancing my day to day chores with what I need to get done for this blog.

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I am working on prioritizing my time. Learning to say no is not easy. Sometimes I feel pressured to say yes to things; but I am realizing that my time is my own and I have a right to determine how I use it. Time is precious.

This is me when company comes over/when I need to clean. This may be one of my favorite videos of all time and is a must watch!

Company is Coming!

I am fortunate to work a 7.5-8 hour day which allows me to be done by 2/2:30pm. This means that I should have plenty of time to do exercise, make dinner, clean, and work on our blog and future plans. In reality this is not happening. I am exhausted when I get home, my feet hurt, and the last thing I want to do is go for a run or start working on something else. This is why mapping out your time can be helpful and a bit less overwhelming. For example; one minute you are planning an exciting trip; the next minute you are trying to find a place for your wife to stay overnight because she has to close the store she manages and open it back up again within just a few hours. This means that we don’t get to see each other; which is the opposite of our goal. This also means that she is working for at least 12 hours per day. This is surely not the norm; but I hate that it’s even an option. We want to change our life style so we can see the world and spend the majority of our time together. We are so excited for our future and we have so many ideas. Even with this excitement, it can be easy to get bogged down in the daily rituals and chores. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like our dream will ever become a reality.

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Finding your niche and starting a business is not proving to be easy; just as suspected. I imagine that this is about the time that a lot of people give up because it’s too hard to get started. It’s weird because nothing feels concrete. We have this vision/plan for our life, but we are in this weird middle zone; kind of like a purgatory. Our vision is clear, but the steps to get there are not as visible. It feels like we are stumbling through this time in our life. On one hand, we are blogging, brainstorming, and trying to get our business started On the other hand, we have our regular jobs and duties. We still have to walk the dog, do the dishes, and wake up early. Amanda and I still enjoy spending time with our family and friends as well. This can be hard because it’s a slight distraction, and not all people seem to really grasp what we are going for. Just about everyone is supportive; but not always in a believable sense; and that’s okay.

We have some ideas rolling around about how we can better use our time. Stay tuned for next time…

Today we ate the cheesecake, it set, and was delicious. Life can be frustrating, but if you keep putting in the effort and have a little hope, your likely to get a good cheesecake.

PS: to find more amazing recipes, check out The Minimalist Baker’s Book.

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All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

Cheers, A & M

South or West? Help us choose our next adventure!

“Keep Austin Weird”

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Photo Courtesy of theculturetrip.com

Do you remember those books when we were kids where you can “choose your own adventure”? You get to page 121, then you can either go through the tunnel, or continue on the beaten path, remember? Well, this time I am going down the path less traveled, and I plan to survive the journey. This time we are counting on YOU to help us choose our next adventure. You heard me, you will choose which trip we are going to take next.

Now, I bet you are sitting there thinking wait a minute; weren’t they just talking about struggling with a budget? Yes, we most certainly were. Amanda and I were sitting at the kitchen table the other day feeling a little frustrated. We love being with our family all the time, but we are getting a little stir crazy. We know that we need to stick with our budget; but we also know that we deserve to be happy. This means that we will splurge sometimes and do something we enjoy. Why are we working so hard right now if we can’t enjoy ourselves?

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” -Helen Keller

**We will be using books like this to help further our knowledge on Travel Hacking

For us, so much of our location independent goal has to do with travel. We love seeing new places, trying new food, and meeting new people. We need this trip for our soul, and I know we will want to be escaping the cold weather come February. This is why we decided to book a trip in February and ask you to help us plan it. With this trip, we are going to take your advice but also show you how to spend less while traveling and still have a great time.

gn-gift_guide_variable_c We’ll be eating more than Rice a Roni if we visit this beautiful city! Doesn’t it make you think of Full House?!

Okay, so we have a few trips in mind, but we can’t decide where we should go.
We know that we want to go in February, and we know that it needs to be warm and full of sunshine. There is no way that I am leaving snowy February in New England to visit another cold place. Don’t you know me by now?

As you know, we are on a budget and we are trying to have a baby. This means that we need to keep the costs a little bit lower and most likely stay in the US. We are hoping this can be a Baby Moon, but we will see. I would really like to see a few states while we are there, but I don’t know if we want to travel that fast as we will only have about 7-10 days for this trip. As we live on the East Coast, we are thinking of going south or west. I have visited a few of these places already, but it has been many years and I certainly haven’t seen them in the eyes of my beautiful wife. I sometimes think that can make a trip dramatically different; and I love that.

Here are our options:

  • Visit California again, go to San Francisco and visit other parts of California we haven’t seen
  • Tucson/Sedona, Arizona and the Grand Canyon.
  • Austin, Texas
  • New Orleans, Louisiana , Georgia

 

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This picture comes from my senior year of college, where I did Alternative Spring Break in New Orleans to help rebuild a home. I would love to go back. 

So, what do you think? Each area has so much to offer and are of similar climates, with Arizona seeming like the warmest. We need your help. Please comment and/or email us at thehacketts@suitcaseandaplaylist.com where you think we should go and why. There is honestly so much to do and so much that we would enjoy in all of these places. Or, if you have a better idea of a warm place to visit, shout it out!

We look forward to hearing from you!

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

 

Cheers,

A & M

We want a life that we don’t have to escape from.

It’s been pretty rainy and dreary here in NH lately. I’d love to say that I dance in the rain and embrace the clouds; but this is just not the case. I know that rain is good for our environment, I just find it so darn depressing. I know that it will rain everywhere I go; but I can’ t wait to be in a place where the weather is dramatically different than N.H.  I am beyond ready for a change.

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For me, the only good thing about rain is the flowers it helps to bloom, and adorable rain boots. 

We live so much of our lives forcing ourselves to be okay with the status quo; and we are done being okay with it. We have been so excited about this blog and our dream to be location independent that it seems like we have confused a few people. I was speaking with some family members recently and I was happy to get some honest feedback. Most of them liked the blog, but they didn’t really understand what it was about or what we were doing. So, let’s get into a bit more detail.
Continue reading “We want a life that we don’t have to escape from.”

Struggling with the budget

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Let me tell you, the struggle is real. Sticking to a budget is not the easiest thing to do. We’ve never been big spenders in regards to clothing or other material items. However, we do love entertainment. We love going to the movies, going out to dinner, going to shows/concerts. Summertime in NH does not last very long, and we like to take advantage of it as much as we can. In all honesty, we have gone to quite a few concerts this summer, and we just went out to dinner with friends a few nights ago. We got vegan Pad Thai, mmmm. We really want to stick to the budget so we can hit our goals; but we are finding it really difficult to commit to that. When we create the budget every month, we try to be realistic with ourselves. If we know someone’s birthday is coming up, or we have something to go to, we budget that in. Where we struggle is saying no to all of the extras. Amanda and I really enjoy going out to dinner and trying new foods. We like to go get a cup of coffee, as we are not big drinkers. Not going out regularly can sometimes put me in a funk.

So, how do we stick with it? We don’t know the answers just yet, but we are working on it. We started our budget the first month we moved back to my mom’s house. We created it in excel with a budget template and we update it every month. We first created an emergency fund of $1,000 and put that to the side. Next was the nitty gritty. Since we are saving money on rent, we are able to take that money and delegate it to our debt. We are using the snowball effect, which means that every time we pay something off, we add that amount to the next loan in line. This month, we will finish paying off my car. The only time that we deviate from this strategy is if something comes up that we need to pay immediately. For example, Amanda needed a lot of work done to her car in June, so we needed to pay a good chunk of money to that. Given that Amanda has already paid off her car, it was worthwhile to put the money back into her car. The tricky part is that
Amanda had been eyeing new cars for a while. She was constantly showing me the new cars she had looked at online, and why they could work for her. Lucky for us, she realized quickly that a new car was not the best choice. She more than deserved a new car, but having no car payment was much more worth it. This was also a good choice because we plan to sell a lot of our belongings in the future; but we will get to more of that in another post.

At the end of each month, we go through our budget and see how we did. We have unfortunately been a bit over each month, but we are improving. The more excited we get about the future and our lifestyle; the easier it is to say no to things we don’t really need. Would I love a new pair of sheets for our bed? Yes, but we don’t need it, so no new sheets for Mandy.

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I almost forgot; we also did one other important thing when we moved here. We cashed in one of our IRA’s for about $6,000 and paid off the remainder of one of our smaller loans. Both Amanda and I had IRA’s, so we cashed in the one with the lower amount and kept the other one. When we first read about this in Dave Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover, we were pretty skeptical. From what we had learned all of our lives, we must save, save, save, then retire. This is not the plan that we are following, but that is not the future we want. Why are we putting money in for “retirement” when we still owe so much now?  Don’t even get me started with the idea of retirement. We want to put our money where it matters, and for now, that means we need to get our debt paid off.

*This template may be helpful as we used the same kind and found it pretty easy to use.

Excel Budget Template

Key take aways:

-Grab Dave’s book if you haven’t already! Total Money Makeover

-You should be in control of your money, your money should not be in control of you.

-Create a budget, stick to it as best as you can…but always make sure you throw in a little bit of fun. Life is to short to not have fun.

-Don’t be disappointed in  yourself if your budget does not go perfectly. We are constantly changing our mindsets and how we do this, to better both our future and our daily lives.

-Remember that the point of the budget is to help you get out of debt, not to be miserable. Use it to your advantage and be proud of yourself.

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist.

Cheers,

A & M

HI HO, HI HO, It’s off to Mom’s we go…

 

February 2018

There we were, sitting in our beautiful apartment in Portsmouth, N.H., drinking coffee and talking about our move to Richmond, Va. We loved our idyllic, seacoast neighborhood, but we were ready to explore a new place and be rid of the NH winters we so despise. I was feeling so cheerful until Amanda said “babe, we need to talk”. Those are three little words nobody ever wants to hear. Being the more logical of the two of us, she gently reminded me of how much debt we have, $150,000. The majority of this debt was from me, my Bachelors degree and my year and a half spent in nursing school, which never panned out. We paid all of our debt regularly each month, but we weren’t paying anything off anytime soon. Both Amanda and I have degrees, made good choices, and have decent jobs;  yet we still weren’t scheduled to pay off our debt until about age 65.  Amanda was an Operations Manager for a small restaurant chain at the time and I was working at Trader Joes and getting into a real estate career. We don’t come from money, so Amanda wanted us to be smart about our financial choices. She told me that it wouldn’t be a good idea for us to move to a brand new place and a brand new job with this amount of debt; especially considering that we were trying to start a family. At this point I did what any self respecting person would do, I went up to our bedroom and cried. Because she knows me so well,  Amanda took me to Portland, Me where we enjoyed an amazing  vegan donut at Holy Donut and some tea at Dobra Tea. This cheered me up a bit. It was there, sitting on the colorful cushions at the tiny wooden table that we decided it was time to start working hard on our debt and move back to mom’s house. Yes I said it, back to mom’s.

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Next thing I know, it’s March and we are moving back to my mom’s house in Hudson, N.H., me, Amanda, our dog Marley, our cat Sonny, and our snail Stanley. Let me just say that Amanda and I are so fortunate to have parents who support us and are willing to help in whatever way they can. Rent at mom’s house was about $1,000 cheaper than our apartment on the seacoast. Although this was a bit of a punch to our pride, we knew it was the right decision for us. Living back at home again can be hard at times; but its wonderful to be around family and the savings are amazing. If you are able to do this, we would highly recommend it. 

This is Stanley, isn’t he handsome?!24955462_1783374455015069_740421135432472707_o

After we are all settled in, we start to gather information and get started on our financial plan. Amanda had already been reading finance books when we stumbled onto Dave Ramsey. After doing a bit of research and listening to his podcasts; we finally decided it was time to buy his book. This ended up being a good investment because we started implementing his practices almost immediately. It’s all about the debt snowball. We created a budget and have been doing our best to follow it. This means less dining out, no new clothes, and being careful with our grocery shopping. So far we have paid off about $12,000 and counting.

While it can be easy to get bogged down while thinking of your debt, you must always remember the end goal. If I’m feeling frustrated that we haven’t been out and about as often, I think of our life in the future and how amazing it will be. I picture us walking around Thailand and finally getting to go to the beaches of Phuket, or watching a flamenco dancer in Spain over dinner. Whatever your goal is, give yourself visual reminders so that when you are feeling frustrated you can always remind yourself about your why.

A few takeaways:

Think long term vision over short term gain. Talk to you soon.

All you need is a suitcase and a playlist. A & M

 

 

 

 

On our way to feeling the sunshine.

We are so excited to start out on this journey that we hardly know where to begin, so here goes. I am sitting here at my kitchen table staring out the window into the beautiful sunshine. All I can think about is how I want to be out in the sunshine all the time; not just on my days off like today. I know exactly where I want to be. I want to be back in Bali, sipping coffee at the café nestled among the rice paddy’s. I want to feel the warm breeze while we await our not too sweet, not too savory, green coconut pancakes.

Ubud, Bali

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Or, I want to be rocking in the backyard hammock in Maui; just watching the waves crash. You see what I’m getting at right?

Maui, Hawaii

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We want a life where we are healthy and experiencing life. This is right about the time when everyone tells me that I’m living in a dream world; and that what I want is not realistic.  We believe that those people are wrong. It often feels like society has dictated to us exactly what happiness means. The truth is that happiness is different for each and every person. The goal is to find what makes you happy and go for it.

Our goal is to live a location independent life style and travel/live internationally. Sounds exhilarating right? On top of this, we are also trying to have a baby. I know, we are kind of crazy. We are going to be talking about financial freedom, time freedom, being vegan, travel, and much more.

We want Suitcase and a Playlist to inspire and help anyone and everyone to be happy and fulfill their dreams; even if those dreams are not the same as ours.

We hope you’ll join us on our Pursuit to Happiness. Remember, all you really need is a suitcase and a playlist.

 

Cheers,

A+M