Our first blog post when live on April 19, 2015 when we set a lofty goal: debt freedom and financially independent in 1,500 days.
It’s May 18, 2019 and 1,500 days have elapsed. And, we are thisclose to being financially independent; I’ll explain, but first, here’s how we got to this point.
We racked up debt over the years, but the proverbial last straw came in 2014 when I was sick for months and then we “bought” a camper using credit card debt.
On The Debt Free Guys’ blog, there was an interview with Carl from 1500 Days to Freedom. Carl’s goal was to retire within 1,500 days of starting his blog. I said, “Well, if this guy thinks he can do it, I bet we can, too.” What’s funny is that we had a ton of debt at the time and little in the way of assets. Carl was halfway to a million at the time he set his goal. Had we known that at the time, we might have been discouraged; fortunately, we didn’t discover this factoid until we were well on our journey.
For those who are new here or those who would like to reminisce with us, here are some other highlights from our personal finance journey.
1. April 19, 2015: first blog post
2. April 26, 2015: bought a vacant lot to build a tiny house
3. May 4, 2015: borough wouldn’t allow a house under 500 sqft and a stick-built tiny house was going to be expensive; ordered a manufactured home instead
4. May 15, 2015: why we decided to take personal finance seriously (and downsize)
5. May 25, 2015: one of many posts in which I share my frustrations with being in debt
6. June 25, 2015: realized we need to stop “wanting” stuff having wasted enough money on stuff over the years
7. July 6, 2015: got the permits to begin site prep for our manufactured home
8. July 10, 2015: stopped buying clothes because we had a ton (again, stuff)
9. July 21, 2015: stopped throwing food away and started eating it
10. August 12, 2015: reflecting on the impact that budgeting and cutting spending have had
11. August 24, 2015: do the hard work now to do fun stuff in the future
12. September 30, 2015: moved into our “tiny” house, but we still had the “big” house on the market, so we had two house payments
13. November 4, 2015: no more credit card debt
14. March 22, 2016: shared our digital marketing side hustle, launched related courses
15. April 26, 2016: feeling the fatigue of pursuing debt freedom
16. May 17, 2016: finally sold the “big” house
17. May 31, 2016: still have student loans and the “tiny” house mortgage to pay off
18. June 14, 2016: reminiscing about past attempts to control finances
19. September 6, 2016: financial independence without purpose or needs met is meaningless, so spent time reflecting on what I wanted
20. March 7, 2017: reflections on being almost debt free
21. March 14, 2017: paid off the rest of our debt (woot! totally, completely debt free)
22. May 16, 2017: making the most of entrepreneurship
23. June 27, 2017: what kind of FI income streams we might consider
25. November 21, 2017: for FI, decided to invest for dividends
26. February 20, 2018: what I’ve learned along the way, beyond the money stuff
27. March 20, 2018: buying a minivan so we can haul our stuff and camper
28. July 31, 2018: Garrett quits his job so we can take a road trip with our minivan and camper
30. March 27, 2019: decided to pause dividend investing; currently searching for rental properties that will generate the passive income we want to cover our expenses
What’s next on this journey of ours?
During this first road trip adventure, we had a lot of time to pause, to think, to reflect, and to be grateful. Not having jobs, a house, or our own pets to care for meant we had a lot of free time to think clearly.
Personally, we realize we need to relocate permanently for a lot of reasons, but I will say that we are tired of winter and we want to be close to national parks and an ocean. So, we’re selling our “tiny” house this summer in favor of renting in places we think we might want to live one day.
Financially, we already knew that we could become FI faster by investing in real estate, but we were afraid of the headache factor associated with properties and we assumed that we’d have to take on debt to do it. Garrett is a fix-it kind of person and I’m seeking passive income sooner rather than later, so it was during this road trip that we decided to buy real estate (with cash) that we can rent for the purposes of passive income is a better fit for us today. We’re searching for properties now while we work through Paula Pant’s real estate course.
Professionally, we’re improving the ROI of the time we spend on growing our biz; I know I could be more efficient and earn more with the time I invest. Continuing to increase our income means we can continue to build wealth through the acquisition of more properties or dividends (or both!) in the future.
All good things must come to an end?
While I don’t plan to blog on a schedule, you’ll see the occasional post or tweet as we start the next adventure: the rest of our lives.
Have no fear. I’ll be hanging around the PF community online and offline, so please keep in touch. 🙂
Thanks for everyone for all the support these last four years. We wouldn’t be here without the support and encouragement from readers and bloggers alike.
Our takeaways from 4 years of personal finance blogging
For what it’s worth, here are some random thoughts assembled over the course of a few months of reflection on our 1,500 day journey.
1. Being totally free of debt is the way to go.
2. Even though we paid off our mortgage, we know that we never really own our house because we have to pay property taxes.
3. Cutting expenses to the point of diminishing returns is futile. Cut expenses as fast as possible, keep only what matters/makes life enjoyable and then focus on increasing income.
4. Start a side hustle, start a business, or go for a raise at work. No matter what you do to earn more, just earn more. Grow the gap between income and expenses as fast as possible.
5. Invest the gap. Whatever is left each month between income and expenses can be invested in something like your own business, a retirement account, a brokerage account, real estate, etc.
6. Even if you love what you do today, even if life is perfect today, change is inevitable. Having cash and another income stream can help make change easier to manage. That’s not a guarantee but more options are better than fewer options.
7. If you start a business, remember to ask an accountant about deadlines and estimated taxes (if applicable where you live) so don’t get in trouble later.
8. Just because you were born in one place doesn’t mean you have to stay there. Having cash, job prospects, and another income stream can make it easier to move to a place that you’d feel more at home.
9. Establish a daily routine as fast as possible, wherever you decide to live. Home should give you access to all the things you like to do, so once you’re in a place that’s right for you, create a routine the helps you accomplish what you want to accomplish each day.
10. With a routine in place, budgeting becomes easier because you spend money on the same things, the things that enhance your life and help you accomplish what you want to accomplish.
11. Crab mindset is real and I think it’s what leads to trying to keep up with the Jones’s, which happens with consumption and income and everything in between.
12. “In the end, the race is only with yourself.” Baz Lurhmann
13. Take what you read online with a grain of salt. People lie so they appear better off than they really are and then they can sell you the dream you seek. Find the good eggs out there because they are there. They’ll be the people who encourage you, support you, and help you get where you want to go.
14. Find a community and make friends with the good eggs. Even though the race can be a lonely one, friends and mentors who know what you’re going through can help push you through when the going gets tough.
15. No matter how much stuff we get rid of, we adjust quickly and see that there is little change in our quality of life. We adapt faster than we realize.
16. Whatever you decide your journey is, there is an end. At the end, there will be a new beginning. Keep moving forward, and enjoy the journey as much as you can.
Thanks again for everything, readers and friends. Hope to see you at FinCon or on the road!