2010 v. 2017

2010 v. 2017

In the Beginning a New Chapter post I introduced myself (Hi I’m Laura) and my husband Dave. I talked about Nerd and Super Nerd, the original 2010 debt-free journey website, and the plans for our 2017 “inspiring everyday adventures” website.

I also promised honesty and behind the scenes looks into our story so today I thought it would be fun to show you how our life is different from those early days.

Five Ways the Nerds life has changed since 2010.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #1 – No More Loans!

We paid off $133,313.33 in student loan and second mortgage debt in 2012!

It took us 2.5 years of saying no to eating out, saying no to vacations except for family cottages, and being VERY conscious of everything we were spending at any of the stores, no pretty things for the house or extras.

We still did home upgrades like painting the entire exterior of our house, staining the deck and a few other projects, but small (and cheap) fixes.

Those 2.5 years allowed us to eliminate ALL payments to loan companies except our primary mortgage.

NOW! We get to do anything we want with our income!

I’ve had family and friends tell me how lucky I am for paying off my loans, but I’m here to tell you that it’s hard work and it’s SO worth it! Being smart with money for 2.5 years allows us to adventure, to say YES to lots more experiences, and we don’t worry about making ends meet like we used to… which leads me to point #2.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #2 – Leaving engineering and work travel

In 2014 I left industrial and manufacturing engineering after 8 years of full-time engineering and 2 years of engineering projects as a student — I usually say 10 years because my student projects were REAL projects that a junior engineer would typically create, plan, and execute.

By mid-2013 I had been traveling for about 6 years, launching automotive assembly lines and I was exhausted from full-time travel. I tried transitioning into similar jobs but doors weren’t opening for jobs closer to home. Because we paid off our debts we could make the choice for me to transition into home life, which to be honest I’m still trying to figure out what a “house wife” looks like after so many years of intense travel.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #3 – Grandpa Time!
After I left engineering I was able to spend a lot of time with my favorite person in the whole world, my grandpa, who got sick shortly after I left my full-time career. It was a blessing to be able to spend time with him in that year and a half before he passed! I got to share pictures with him, hear stories, tell stories, and I got to help make sure he was taking all the right things when grandpa wasn’t listening to mom’s care taking urging.

Speaking of loss… since 2010 we lost our black lab, our orange kitty, my dad, my grandpa, and had a miscarriage in that order.

On the flip side (*smiles* yes I know what a flip side is!) we’ve also said hello to a niece, a nephew, two kitties, our black lab, and LOTS of new brothers and sisters through marriage — I am the oldest from a family of 3 kids and Dave is the oldest from a family of 5 kids. We have a much bigger family now and in case you missed it… we are two first-born engineers living in a house with a black lab and two kitties and yes it gets a bit crazy!

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #4 – Traveling for Fun!

We have traveled A LOT! Mostly we’ve taken Midwest trips, usually from our home in metro-Detroit to Milwaukee where Dave’s family lives as well as “up north” to my family’s cottage on Lake Huron. We love taking trips to Traverse City, MI, and Marquette, MI to experience Lake Michigan and Lake Superior’s beauty… usually on the way to Dave’s family cottage in northern Wisconsin.

In 2014 I was able to join Dave on a work trip to Australia and in 2016 I was able to tag along on a work trip to Germany. We traveled to California for two weeks in 2016 which turned into a work trip by coincidence, this work trip meant I got to enjoy my February birthday in sunshine (only to be topped in 2017 as we had an unseasonably warm 75* day in in Michigan on February 18th!) — time to grab your calendar… my birthday is February 18th! Dave’s is June 9th… for those who want to send us cards.

All these trips had elements of wonder, frustration, awe-inspiring beauty, crankiness, and life-giving moments. None of these travels would have been made possible without the hard work up front (to pay off our loans) and the village who takes care of our house when we are gone from neighbors who keep watch (we have three law enforcement officers in the neighborhood) to the friends who check on our kitties to my family who usually takes our black lab, Clementine while we wander to a fro.

Changes to the Nerds since 2010 #5 – Cars

Since 2010 Cars have become an even bigger part of our life. Our careers have always been in the automotive industry and we both naturally have been around cars in some way since we were kids.

In 2015, we started helping my uncle on Vintage racing weekends with his Austin Healy Sprite as part of his pit crew. Usually, pit crew means helping tune up the race car between races so Dave gets to turn wrenches and I get to take pictures and make sure everyone is hydrated.

Because of the vintage racing weekends Dave’s heart for the Little British Car grew and in 2016 with Dave’s bonus we were able to add a “fun car” to our garage with the arrival of Dave’s 1979 Triumph Spitfire. It’s British Racing Green and I can fit a whole weekend into the trunk!

Sometimes life is completely ordinary like right now we have a few house projects and an endless supply of dishes and laundry. Sometimes life is filled with whirl-wind adventures, but all in all, we are working on enjoying life and supporting one another, even if we fail a lot in the process.

This is a small look into the story of Nerd and Super Nerd and I hope you’ll stick around to hear more!

If you’re not already signed up, I hope you’ll consider giving us your email address so we can let you know more of our story as we add more volumes to our adventures!

As always thank you for being here!

Beginning a New Chapter

Beginning a New Chapter

Hey there! Welcome to Nerd and Super Nerd a place for stories, pictures, and adventures to inspire you to find the spark in everyday life.

My name is Laura Gutknecht and I will be the writer, photographer, and cruise director of Nerd and Super Nerd. *smiles and waves hello*

Before you start wondering who Nerd and Super Nerd are let me tell you a short story… In 2010 when my husband Dave and I began paying off our student loans we made our first budget. It was a slow day at work so I made the budget and printed it out. After dinner, Dave and I sat down and looked over the plan I made and with a smirk on his face he declared me a Nerd!

We discussed how we would pay more attention to our income and after awhile Dave started talking about investments and interest payments – my eyes glazed over. I shook my head (trying to clear the fuzziness numbers can cause) and declared that if I’m a Nerd then he must be a SUPER Nerd! We had a laugh and THAT is how Nerd and Super Nerd came into being!

So Dave, the nerdier of us, is the one who I adventure through life with. We met in engineering school and this year we celebrated 10 years of marriage! He supports this website by editing and giving input for each of the stories, he steps in with tech issues just before I injure my computer, and tells me my pictures are awesome. He may not be writing the stories, but he lived them with me and helped me reminisce so I could tell you so he is almost always here in spirit.

Nerds and Budgets…

The rest of the story about Nerd and Super Nerd is this…In 2010, we started Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University with the hopes of paying off over $100,000 in student loan and second mortgage debt.

Spoiler Alert! We paid it all off!

A few months into our journey, I started this website, Adventures of Nerd and Super Nerd.

The original post can be found here.

I had hoped to share ways we saved money, to talk about things we made ourselves, and to inspire others on their journey to being smart with money.

After a few months, I stopped writing because to be honest paying off debt was SO ORDINARY and I didn’t feel like I had anything unique to add to the conversation. When my engineering career had me traveling most weeks during the year I let this website go quiet.

Years later I have learned to embrace the ordinary and I my passion for sharing stories with everyday people hasn’t changed.

Welcome to Nerd and Super Nerd 2017 Edition!

Nerd and Super Nerd is a place where I get to share our triumphs, our adventures, and our true-life moments, even the not-so-pretty ones. I want to be honest in a way that is upbeat and thought-provoking without falling down the rabbit hole that failure seems to bring. It is where you can come to hear stories, to get inspired to seek out adventure wherever you are in life and to find a positive place to land when you need a time-out in everyday life.

Nerd and Super Nerd is first and foremost a place for you to escape and enjoy reading our adventures.

We have plans to share our far away adventures as well as adventures from our own backyard— which could include a house project or two, we might showcase our laundry mountain or the nose printed sliding glass doors our black lab and two tabby cats use when watching the “Nature Channel” aka outside where the chipmunks, birds, and squirrels roam.

Nerd and Super Nerd is also a place where you can hear what we honestly think as we share the good, the bad, and the downright funny as it relates to life, travel, and being human. You will get a behind the scenes look at how we choose our travels, where we find great travel information, and when taking a great picture is most important for us. You’ll get a peek into our blooper moments and will get an honest take on what works for us and what doesn’t… it could be a product we love, an app we use, OR it could be a life perspective that made us more enjoyable people to journey with.

This is a place for YOU to enjoy great photographs, to get lost in stories of two Nerds, and to be inspired to seize adventures in your own life!

I hope you’ll enjoy Nerd and Super Nerd!

Much love and appreciation,
Laura Gutknecht (Your Nerd for the Journey Ahead)