Financial Freedom 18 Month Update

So much has changed over the past 18 months that it is time to update this blog.

What was our experience during the first 18 months of financial independence? Did we go back and get jobs? Did we get bored? How did our spending compare to my predicted model? How did the health insurance work out? Did COVID19 cause us to lose most of our portfolio? Hold on, we will get to all of that.

Let’s start by reviewing how we got here.

We hit our FI numbers in early 2018. Around this time we began trying to find the perfect mixture of living for today and working for tomorrow.

Mr. Sunshine worked a physically demanding job as an automotive technician for Ford. He wanted to leave the world of work while he was still physically capable of chasing our life list of dreams. So he quit, June 2018. I enjoyed my work, so I kept working.

Life was good, for a while… I had a career that I loved. I never wanted to retire. Boy can things change fast!

The University where I worked as nursing faculty underwent restructuring and our department was transferred to new ownership, and thus a new boss (Dean). I soon found myself very dissatisfied with work and putting our FU money to the test. I quit April 2019. You can read about the power of FU money and my decision to quit here.

Prior to quitting I spent much time considering our health insurance options (here), budget (here) and financial reserves. Then we simply walked away from being employed by others. Neither of us has ever looked back!

Jumping off the cliff of financial independence

As mentioned in a previous post, we both have side hustles, which brings in about $1000 per month. I stopped treating patients for a short time (4 months) this year and Mr. Sunshine only works when we are not traveling. But… on average over the year we bring in about $1000 per month. We don’t stress hitting this income amount; we have sufficient financial reserves, which as you will see, have increased since we left our jobs.

Working in our respective fields keeps us engaged, provides personal satisfaction and purpose. In addition we provide high quality services at a reasonable cost, while setting our own schedule. Mr. Sunshine enjoys “making old cars great again“, while I tend to the medical needs of older adults living in a local nursing home.

Additionally, I continue to pursue a PhD in nursing. I have finished my coursework and completed my qualifying exam (August 2020). this leaves me with the not so small task of completing my dissertation research and writing up the results. I decided to continue with this educational journey despite leaving higher education for three reasons.

  1. I love to learn – especially a subject that ignites my passion;
  2. I have been able to do this without any cost, and
  3. I may decide to go back to work as a nurse scientist – I really did enjoy my work – just not my boss.

Having sufficient time to devote to my studies has made the process much more enjoyable. In all my prior degree work (I have numerous), I have always struggled to balance school, work and family. This is a very stressful thing to do – I am not sure that one ever really finds balance. It is more like putting out fires in a different part of life every day. And… did I mention…. I have been able to find scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships to completely cover the cost, 100%! In addition to tuition, these have helped with books, supplies and even some extra money to help with the cost of living.

How has our financial reserves fared over the past 18 months? Did COVID19 wreck our investments?

From April 1, 2019 to September 1, 2020 we have seen a growth in our investments. I keep a spreadsheet, updated monthly. It tracks our net worth by account with changes highlighted by month, year, and since retirement. Here is a breakdown of how things have changed since we quit our jobs:

Retirement funds+ $80,038
Health Savings Account – $1,257
Non retirement funds – $53,278
Home equityUnchanged
Total change + $26,303
Net worth change

Now consider that this increase in our net worth is without employment outside our side hustle income (~$1000 monthly). We have also had some pretty significant expenses:

  1. Braces for Mr. Sunshine (medically necessary)
  2. A new 2020 JL Jeep Wrangler (Mrs. Sunshine always wanted one)
  3. Extensive travel (snowbirds, national parks, etc.)
  4. Transmission for our Ford F250 (necessary to tow our RV).

We also did not do a great job of budgeting over the past few months. I do log all our expenses and we are both frugal by nature, but I have failed in setting and following a budget. Over the past few months we have found ourselves spending more with some pretty significant personal purchases (did you see we bought a brand new jeep).

I thought that dusting off this blog and reviewing our progress would be one way to generate more accountability.

In coming posts I will provide updates on our budget, spending, health insurance and more. Stick around, leave a comment and follow along.

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