It has now been one year since this blog was created which has sparked some motivation in me to share with you what has been going on in my life and the changes that have taken place in only one years time. Reflecting on this past year has brought me to remember a lot of things that I may have otherwise forgotten about and it has also given me hope and affirmed to me that pursuing financial independence is still a very real goal that will be attainable in the near future. So let’s dive in and see what this year has brought for me and for this blog.
One of my fondest memories of starting this blog was being able to headline that at the age of 27 I had saved and invested over $200,000 or $220,000 to be exact. I was very proud of this number as it showed me that a little hard work and persistence really pays off. Now one year later I am proud to say that my networth has skyrocketed to $350,000! This has come about with really no extra work on my part, just a high savings rate of approx. 70% and continually investing my money in index funds. I personally am surprised by this number especially since we have gone through a pandemic in which I saw a decrease of $70,000 in one months time due to Covid and a lot of swings in the stock market. Luckily I was able to read the book the simple path to wealth this year by J.L Collins which affirmed to me that I should not touch my money but leave it be and let it weather the storm. This tactic has worked out perfectly and my portfolio has returned to the all times it was at in February of 2020 prior to the Covid crisis hitting our country.
This blog has added an interesting dynamic to my life for sure. It initially offered a sense of accomplishment and doing something new. It also brought on a huge sense of team work between myself and my buddy Gabe as we started this blog/podcast with no idea what we were doing. Gabe was meant to be in charge of the technical side of things while I would write the articles and come up with content for us to talk about. Gabe and I also work together as Police officers and this blog became the target of workplace jokes and everyone thinking we were crazy for even having the idea of leaving a cushy police job with high pay and benefits. Both Gabe and I began to have some motivational issues which eventually led to him departing from the blog and me going from writing an article every few days to every few months. We also did a few podcast episodes which was a completely new area for us, but one that took a lot of work and dedication that we weren’t prepared for. Despite all of this I have still been getting more and more notifications of people liking the blog or past articles that have been written which shows me that there are still people wanting to hear this information and figure out how to take control of their finances in order to take control of their lives. I’m hoping to continue to share stories, ideas, and new things I have been able to learn with you all and continue on the path of spreading the word about financial independence to have an impact on the lives of others.
If there has been one thing I had to list that I have been dedicated to this year it is learning. I have read more books this year than I have read in the last 10, and I have listened to a countless number of podcast episodes or Youtube videos about all types of topics ranging from financial independence to real estate investing to language learning. Doing this has inspired me to diversify my investments and get involved in real estate. Over the last year I have joined a partnership with a friend of mine where we have created an LLC and mutual operating agreement. I have also purchased one property and we are on the hunt for others at the moment. Doing this has opened up a whole new world to me and will give me additional passive income to help fund my early retirement.
Another huge step I took was investing in a spanish learning program called Baselang. For two consecutive months I studied with a tutor online 5 days per week for two hours per day for a total of 80 hours of instruction. I learned a lot from this program but I did not come away with the conversational skills I had hoped for. What this experience did show me is that I could stay dedicated to such a hard task and despite it being hard I didn’t quit. This goal of learning Spanish is a lifelong goal I have and one I will not give up on until it is achieved.
One other aspect of learning that I took advantage of was attending Financial independence meetups. This is where a group of people who are all interested in FI get together to discuss early retirement and share ideas by networking and sharing their own personal stories. I have met a lot of great people through these meetups who have changed my path to FI in many ways. I highly recommend trying to attend one of these meetups which can be done through the ChooseFI local facebook groups.
Credit Card rewards:
One of the benefits of attending one of the meetups mentioned above is that I ran into an expert on credit card reward points. After learning how credit cards can be used to finance free travel or at the least discounted travel I became hooked. Since then I have signed up for four travel rewards credit cards and have earned enough points to cover about $2,000 in free travel. This simple hack will provide me a lifelong ability to travel for free which will in turn lower my expenses in retirement.
Buying a “new” old car:
Another cost saving measure I took was to actually downgrade my car. This has been another thing that the people I work with can’t fathom and my 1999 Buick is often another target of jokes. While this car has saved me money and allowed me to invest a couple of thousand dollars after the sale of my previous vehicle, the most important thing it has done is humbled me. This car would be perfectly adequate for any highschool student or senior citizen but it is not accepted as a car that someone in a professional career should drive. Society has put the pressure on people that if they make good money they should be driving nice car and there is a little part inside of me that gets joy from going against that norm. So while I don’t plan on keeping this car forever I will keep it for now as it has been reliable for me and it doesn’t require a monthly car payment.
As I look back on this past year there have been many failures, personal problems I’ve had to deal with, but it has also been a year of growth. I have been able to turn those failures into achievements and I have been able to continue on the simple path to wealth and financial independence. I hope you all can look back on your past year and pick out all of the accomplishments you have achieved as well. For some of you there may be very few accomplishments and a feeling as if you have failed yourself or wasted time. If that’s the case then look to the next year in your life as a year where you will go after the goals you have set for yourself whether those are financial or not doesn’t really matter.
I wish you all the best and thank you for reading,