Alia and Tim were like many of my clients: living in a major metropolitan city, earning a good living, bought a great house they wanted to fix up over time. They came to me for advice and to learn what it would take to scale back work in ten years and still be on track for paying off a big mortgage and achieving financial independence at a reasonable age. To them, they loved their lifestyle today but wanted the big picture on where this was taking them.

After our plan delivery meeting and coaching sessions, Alia and Tim were no longer my typical clients. They surprised me. They realized that in order to scale back work in ten years and be on track for their financial goals, they needed to make significant changes. They implemented the Merkel Plan!

“We named it after the German queen of fiscal austerity, Angela Merkel” explained Alia, “It started as a joke but she’s really become our patron saint.”

The Merkel Plan meant big moves. “What can we do”, they asked themselves, “to save everything we can and make significant progress towards our goals?”

Their first idea was to rent their beloved home for additional income and move downstairs into their tenant suite to save for a few years. Then they thought, wait a minute . . . why not move out completely!

Both Alia and Tim have remote jobs (more and more common these days) so they created a plan to move in with Alia’s parents in rural Texas.

This kind of dramatic lifestyle change is rare to see. This level of commitment is rare to see.

Today, Alia and Tim are four months into their adventure and have been saving roughly 90% of their take home income every month.  Not paying rent is a big part their success, but it’s also about the little things.

“Whenever one of us finds a way to save, like by scoring free yoga passes or a great deal on organic chicken, we celebrate ‘that’s so Merkel!’. You see how every penny matters.”

Ultimately, their plan involves saving enough pennies over two years to renovate their Brooklyn home to increase rental income — so the tenant suite can cover their mortgage ongoing.

“It’s not without challenges but seeing the numbers every month and having a bigger prize awaiting us at the end — it’s totally motivating.”

I wanted to tell their story to share my awe of them. While the Merkel Plan may be extreme, it shows that we have options and the ability to make scary changes.

In an era of instant gratification and sound bites, taking time to think about what we really want and what it takes to get there can be hard. Take a few minutes and think about something you want in your life.

What is one small action you can take to get one step closer today? Tomorrow you will know something more and have a new perspective. Keep repeating this and see where it takes you.