Time to Switch Gears?

As you might have noticed it has been more than a year since my last post. Why? Because I have been trying to just enjoy my life now, to live in the moment, and overall I have been doing a better job at this. Although I am on the path to FIRE I can’t postpone happiness. Which is what brings my to today’s post. Is it time to switch gears?

Last month my husband and I attended our first local FIRE group meetup. I have read loads of posts over the years, chatted online through FIRE forums, but until this meeting we have never met any other FIRE individuals in person. And let me just say it was great to talk with other like-minded folks!

We all gave a little introduction about ourselves since we were not the only new ones to the group and when it was my turn I gave a summary of our FIRE status (not numbers, just that we own real estate, have been on the path for almost 5 years, etc) and what we do for work. My answer to the work question has been prefaced with “I hate my job” for a least few months now. I haven’t been happy for a few years not but more recently it has become a strong feeling to the point where I say I hate my job. Others in the group looked at me like I was crazy. We were all there discussing FIRE because we are looking for an alternative life, often trying to escape jobs, so why would anyone in their right mind stay in a job they hate, even if they haven’t reached their FIRE goal? Their expressions said it all.

I think this moment was when my mind started to change. I don’t need to grind things out at this job for the next 2 plus years in hopes of hitting our FIRE goal. I can get out early! We may not have reached our goal but I still have a lot of freedom to make a change.

I mulled this idea over in my head over the next week to let it sink in and think of what could be next. My husband and I headed out for our vacation the following week and had some time to chat when we had some quite time alone on the beach (a very reasonably priced vaca on the beach with family that only put us out $533 for an entire week). Yes, discussing FIRE goals, dreams, etc while sitting on the beach watching the waves…we are pretty lucky. Anyways, I mentioned the idea of quitting in March, regardless of where we are at with our goal and he is in FULL support. He knows I am miserable and thinks it is a great idea. Why March you might ask? First, my year end bonus doesn’t usually hit until March so I want to wait until I get that first as it should be good this year. Second, I do earn a little bit of commissions in addition to my salary and my biggest checks are usually in January and February. So I just have to grind it out for 8 more months. I think I can do that. At least some days I think I can.

What will be next? Well that is the big question. The one part of my job that I do like involves some sales, which is where my commission come from. Once I leave this job I can start my own business and see how things go with that (I wish I could start it earlier to get some momentum but I can’t). The biggest problem will be developing leads on my own so I think it could take a couple of years before I have any meaningful income. As of right now my plan would be to start that business and work it for a little while to see how things are going. If needed I can get a part time job to earn a little money on the side. It wouldn’t have to be anything fancy, just something to bring in a little money.

Next Steps: We scheduled a meeting with our accountant this week to discuss how this whole plan changes things tax-wise and to see how screwed we will be when it comes to health insurance (my guess is pretty screwed). Since my husband is self-employed I have been the one getting us health benefits. Once I leave we are going to be left to the options our on state’s exchange. I have run estimates on cost and it is not going to be pretty. For a high (I mean really high) deductible plan it is going to cost us around $12,000 per year. That is a lot of money. I am not even sure if I would make that much in my first year working on my own. And if something happens that could mean an additional $12,000 out of pocket. Eek! I am pretty sure we won’t qualify for subsidies but that is one thing we will discuss with our accountant.

We also threw around the idea of buying another investment property. We already have 3 units rented and haven’t focused on buying another as it would put us beyond the point of being able to handle things on our own. If I wasn’t working full time I could manage all of the properties. I am still not sold on this idea as we don’t have enough in cash so we would need to sell some investments but it is an idea.

There is still plenty of time before March, assuming I make it that far because 4th quarter could be miserable at work, but I think having that much time to get things in order will be good. I am a Type A planner and like to have my ducks in a row. Being short of our full FIRE goal is going to make me nervous so hopefully we can set things up in a way to ease my worry. If all works out well, by this time next year I will have a great boss (me!) with a lot of flexibility. Yes I will need to work but if the sun is shinning I don’t have to be tied to my desk. This is exciting!

The Good and Bad of Rental Properties

In general our rental properties have been pretty great.  Our owner occupied duplex has always had great tenants in the 6 years we have owned it and our other duplex has been wonderfully cash flow positive since we purchased it in January of 2016.  During the majority of the year our properties are pretty hands off other than yard maintenance and the occasional repair.  But come late April and May every year the number of hours we have to put in to managing our rentals increases dramatically.  As we live in a college town all leases start on June 1st so all three properties have the potential for turnover at the same time.  Although this is time consuming it is also when we are most likely to increase rent so that is always a good thing.  If we have good tenants we sometimes keep the rent the same to make sure they stay but if there is a changeover we always increase it at least slightly.

The tenants in our duplex unfortunately decided to move out to Oregon.  We were going to keep the rent the same for them at $1390 per month as they were super chill, were great neighbors, and always paid on time.  Alas they were moving so we started our search for new tenants.  Continue reading “The Good and Bad of Rental Properties”

Can We Accelerate Our FIRE Date?

Lately I have been feeling really blah at work. Like, I just really don’t care.  Now this is likely mild depression which is why I decided it might be time to schedule a visit with my therapist again but it got me thinking, do I really have to wait another 3 years until we leave our jobs?

Now first things first, I know that just leaving my job won’t make me miraculously happy but not being stuck at my desk all day with freedom to do what I want certainly does sound great.  So could we make it work?  Short answer, yes we can probably do it in less than 3 years.  As I have mentioned in the past I believe we are going to experience a market correction in the near future.  And part of me really hopes this happens soon so that we can be done with it and I won’t have to worry about it before we hit FIRE.  But if we do actually get a market correction in the next year or two, what would that look like for our FIRE success?  Thankfully I think we could still make things work, which is why our FIRE date has been tentatively scheduled for 3 years out anyways.  I have been planning on having a buffer just in case we have a market correction the year we leave our full time jobs. Continue reading “Can We Accelerate Our FIRE Date?”

Preparing for the Next Big Market Correction

We are over 9 years into a great bull market.  If this trend continues this could be the longest bull market on record.  And while that seems amazing that does mean that the inevitable, a market correction, has to be just around the corner.  This trend can’t last forever.  We have already seen some volatility in 2018 but the question is will this continue and turn into a market correction of 20% or will it become something even worse like the Great Recession that was the start of this bull market in the first place or the tech bubble that burst in the early 2000s?  This is part of the reason that Mr. SFF and I have been reevaluating our portfolio lately.  If our investments investments lost 50% at this point we would not be able to recover in time to reach our FIRE goal in 3 years.  If we lost 20% we might still be able to make it happen if we made some adjustments. Continue reading “Preparing for the Next Big Market Correction”

Car Buying When You Are On The Path To FIRE

This past weekend we bought a car, with cash, on a whim.  This oversimplifies things a lot but in essence that is what we did.  The difference is that although some people may actually buy a car on a whim, this purchase was in actuality very well planned.

I previously owned a 2007 Honda Fit Sport that I purchased used just over 10 years ago with less than 9,000 miles on it.  And let me tell you, I loved that car!  I seriously almost cried as we traded it in on Saturday.  My Fit was fuel efficient, had the most functional interior space of most cars I have seen (everything fits in a FIT!), had next to no repairs over the tenure that I owned it, and was just in general the greatest car.  In all honesty I wanted to keep it for even longer but it had one issue that was seemingly impossible to fix. Continue reading “Car Buying When You Are On The Path To FIRE”

Making Things More Conservative

With our FIRE goal date at the 3 year mark I got to thinking that now might be the time to reevaluate our portfolio’s allocations and start to make some changes.  I am not talking big overhaul changes, but little tweaks to our allocations.  I should also state that I am making these changes because our FIRE goal is approaching and not at all due to some of the volatility we have been seeing in the market recently.

One of the first accounts we are going to be tapping once we hit FI, other than our cash, is our joint NQ brokerage account.  Our total investment portfolio is somewhere around 80% equities/20% bond holdings but the JT brokerage is more aggressive with a 93% equities/7% bonds mix.  And moreover 35% of this one account is just in Apple.  That is way more aggressive than this account should be if we are going to start tapping it in 3 years. Continue reading “Making Things More Conservative”

Reinvigorating Our Plan

I have been noticeably absent recently due to life throwing us some curve balls (including a concussion for both me and Mr. SFF within 3 weeks of each other).  Now that life is starting to get back on track we are also both trying to get recommitted to our FIRE goal.

Although I never wrote up a post with our 2017 expenditures as life got in the way, to summarize, we spent too much money.  🙁  Well I am not sure too much is really fair as we make enough to cover our expenses but we certainly loosened the purse stings and spent around 10% more than in 2016 – which is a pretty big number.  As a result our savings was a little lower than I had hoped.  We were able to max out my 401(k), our HSA plan (both of these were a first), and also opened up and maxed out a solo 401(k) for Mr. SFF (maxing the employee contribution plus a little profit sharing).  As a result we did the most to minimize our taxes but this meant a lack of savings in our taxable account.  As we are hoping to leave our full time jobs in 3 years this prompted a meeting of the minds with Mr. SFF and myself to make sure we were still on track and both on the same page with our plans.  I am the one tracking our progress so it was very important to bring Mr. SFF into the planning so that he can see where we stand and also to share my spend down plans with him.  Being on the same page when it comes to stuff like this is vital. Continue reading “Reinvigorating Our Plan”

Our Forever Home?

I know I am still pretty young but I realized that I not only have no idea what our next home looks like, or even if our our next home will be our forever home.  It’s funny how when you are on the path to FI previous plans can change and all of a sudden big decisions like this become even more important.

When we moved into our owner occupied duplex over 6 years ago our long term plan was to buy another duplex and then eventually a single family home for us, leaving us with two fully rented duplexes with a nice little income stream and then a space to call our own.  We have the other duplex now but as we have since decided leaving our full time jobs sounds more attractive than buying another home.  But that leaves us with the question of how long are we going to stay in our duplex and should we still be planning on our next home as well as planning for FI? Continue reading “Our Forever Home?”

The Year of Me

2017 was certainly the “year of me”.  My expenses for 2017 were definitely higher than I would like and I attribute this mostly to spending a lot of time and money on improving myself.  Yes Financial Independence will bring with it freedom but that doesn’t necessarily mean happiness.  I know that I need to find happiness in the now, today, and not wait for some future date so I have been working on improving myself in more ways than one over the past year.  Overall I would say this has been a success as I am becoming more comfortable with who I am and I find that in general I am pretty happy.

All of this improvement has come at a cost, and these costs have certainly added up.  My expenses in the personal care category alone more than doubled.  Ouch!  My hope is that many of these costs will not continue long term but I suspect that some will.  Here are some of the things I have spent money on this year and why. Continue reading “The Year of Me”

Celebrating Milestones

As I track our progress monthly I am keenly aware of how things are tracking.  Sometimes I will look at our numbers and projections mid-month though if we are close to hitting another milestone.  This past week was one of those times.  We might not be at our ultimate goal but I do love to celebrate the little things along the way.  So one evening after work I updated all of our figures and thanks to an amazing year in the market and continued strong savings we hit another big mark.

How did we celebrate?  In frugal style of course!  Over the summer a friend had given us a mini bottle of Champagne that she had gotten as a favor at a wedding but she doesn’t drink Champagne.  In my mind I had earmarked this bottle for just this occasion as I knew it was fast approaching.  So upon confirming the info and sharing the great news with Mr. SFF we celebrated.  Cheers to the little steps that mean we are one step closer to the ultimate goal of financial freedom!  

Mr. SFF also gave me one of his old cameras so now I can take some better photos for the blog.  🙂  Merry Christmas!