The Chief and the Alchemist


The goblin clan meeting Brandon Sanderson, one of our personal heroes!

Sounds like a children’s book, right?

I suppose some introduction is in order at this point. Many of you already know me, either in real life, or from months or years online but a lot of you may be new. I’m the one with the cowboy hat. My lovely Alchemist is there next two my two elder goblins. The young one is hiding.

The reason I want to give you a taste of who we are is to realize we are average folks in average circumstances. Retiring in 10-15 years is possible WITH kids, WITH middle-class jobs, WITH good health, and (most importantly) WITHOUT get-rich quick schemes.

I am 29. My wife is 30. We met at 18 and 19 respectively, the very first day of college orientation. Friendship came really quickly. We clicked fast, as any of our friends from that time can attest. After a couple of false starts on my end, friendship quickly blossomed into ULTIMATE friendship: dating, engagement, and marriage. I am mystified at all the people I know who have, at least on the outside, a very antagonistic or passive-aggressive relationship with their life partner. “Old lady”, nagging, complaining to the ‘guys and the ‘girls. FUCK THAT. Get a divorce now if that’s your life.

I don’t believe in soul mates, as that’s a bunch of garbage, but I’ve also never met (nor even been able to dream up) a better partner for me. We fell so completely into each other’s orbit that we were engaged after 5 months, while still in our second university year. My family FLIPPED out. My parents almost threw her out of the house, since I’d had the bright idea of “hey, come meet my FIANCE!” (NOTE: never, ever introduce your life partner to family that way.) My older brother, to his later chagrin, spent an entire evening trying to convince me it would never work. That there was no way we would make it through the transformative years in late teens and early 20s and still be in love.

We got married almost as soon as we could after college. A little earlier, in fact, since goblin #1 was on the way before the wedding. Both of our families are traditional Catholics, so you can imagine how that went down. As it happened, we had a beautiful ceremony with my Alchemist about five months pregnant. Enough that everyone knew she was pregnant, and glowing, but thin enough that she looked fantastic in her dress. We got the intimate wedding WE wanted because the rush to replan kept invitations from being sent out.

Pregnancy at 21 and 22 freaked us out. The Alchemist hadn’t been able to land a full-time job yet (she got one a month later, and works there to this day) and I was working part-time and in grad school (BIG mistake, but that’s a whole other post). It was tough, expensive, but we made it with a lot of support from our families (after the initial “moral” shock wore off). If I knew now what I knew then, we could have done it for a fraction of the cost and stress level. But, it is what it is. Regret is pointless. Everything you’ve done to the present is WHO you are. “Regret” is like wishing YOU didn’t exist.

Just as we were recovering, goblin #2 showed up. Again, FREAKED out. We only have a two bedroom house! Kids need their own bedroom, right??????


At work, I get a lot of customers to shut the fuck up when they complain how small their house is, because I ALWAYS have them beat. I just politely say: “Well, I raise three kids in a 728 sqft house and you know what? We’re HAPPY.” We don’t want more. In fact, we’re actively trying to have LESS. Simplicity is happiness.

Now we have three kids in the same house. It feels huge! No one needs multi-thousand sqft houses, unless they have stupidly massive families. And even then, there’s probably easy tips and organization tools they could do with less.

So, a little rambly, but that’s where we come from. Having kids early, and one college career (mine) being a very poor investment outside of meeting the Alchemist, has put us in some debt but the frugality principles I’m learning from MMM are amazing. I thought frugality was Clark Howard (who’s great at consumer advice about scams and such), who doesn’t strike me as someone who lives cheap and healthy. The GOOD LIFE is also the CHEAP LIFE. The more things we work in, the calmer, more productive, and HAPPIER we get.


One Comment on “The Chief and the Alchemist”

  1. […] *I’m not trying to ignore single folks, but it’s just not a part of my adult life experience. […]

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