Too long a title? It’s my blog, so deal. 😉
When you take several months off between posts, it seems every post you write has a catch-up theme. I’ll keep it brief, but this one is no different…
After my road trip ended in February, I began a stage of floating. I floated from one house sit to the next, from one work trip to the next, and one grand idea to the next. As of a few weeks ago, I traded all of that floating for rooting. In a tiny home. In Denver. COLORADO!!
The road that led me here has been a long, windy, and lately a bumpy one. 4 years ago I first got the idea to move. And then I met someone, so I stayed. 6 months ago that ended and I decided to move again. And then I met someone else, nearly changing my course yet again. But that too is over and I am finally here. No strings attached. I moved everything I have across the country into 283 sq ft of what I soon hope to call “home” and actually feel it.
So where does that leave me on my path to FI?? Well, I coined a new term that I am sure will spread like wildfire – I am currently on the path of Fuck It FI…At the start of this year, I realized I was within one year of my OG FI plan so I decided to chuck it all and travel for a month. Of course, doing so meant spending money I wasn’t making. And then I came back and had a series of expensive incidents. My car being the first to go. RIP, Beast. $9000 later I got my ass settled back in the driver’s seat of a newer more deluxe version of The Beast (more on that to come). Then there was the period of being without a home. Moving around often can get expensive. Even when you aren’t paying rent. The lack of a kitchen made me spend more on groceries and dining out than I cared to tally. Oh, and then I decided to take the plunge and move. Damn!! A security deposit + a higher cost of living is sure to put a crimp in my impending FI time frame… but none of it matters. What really matters is that I am following through on a move that I have wanted for a long time now. And that is exactly what this post is about. Being flexible in your FI plans.
FUCK IT FI
So much can happen on the journey to FI. Especially at the age that some of you are beginning. In your 20’s you may not be in a long-term relationship yet. Your friends are most likely going out and partying and spending a shit ton of money on ridiculous luxuries that will be obsolete from their lives within months or a few years. Need I even mention student loans??!! If you’re in your 30’s, marriage, kids, home ownership (if you’re into that sort of thing) is just on the horizon if you haven’t caught it already. Those are MAJOR life changes and our financial goals change with all of them. Um, student loans??!! If you are in your 40’s, sorry to say, divorce is a factor for many of you. If not that, keep an eye on your health. Again, more huge money-life changes. These things happen. And it is best to expect the unexpected. And after sharing plenty of raw and gruesome shit along the way, I am happy to make myself an example. Here’s a timeline of my money wins (in green) and losses (in red). I am not an exception by any means:
23 – Got my first “real job” as an hourly employee with my airline
25 – bought my first condo (selling it a year later at a wash)
26,27 – bought my next two condos
29 – bought the final of my 3 condos
Let me stop here to make a few points. I was in my 20’s making 40k a year. Back then I didn’t track my spending or my net worth. I just saved as much as possible and every time I had enough saved, I bought a property. I also bought a lot of french fries and pink wine from my local pub, but that’s another story.
30 – met my soon to be husband – tax break!!
31 – bought our home
31 – started construction on said home (Paid in cash. A lot.)
32 – got married (paid cash and kept costs low)
The year is now 2010. The market crashed a few years back and shit is unstable. With the soft economy, my tenants are losing jobs, rental prices are dropping, nobody can sell, and people are starting to jump ship on their properties. Can you imagine us adding a baby at this time?? Oh, Marone (I don’t usually speak Italian slang but that one was for Marla – DRINK!!)!! After a discussion with my husband and realizing the amount of cash I was now pouring into these properties was unsustainable, I make the very difficult decision to follow suit…
32 – finalized the first of what would become three short sales total.
33 – finalized the second short sale
34 – started tracking net worth on a whim
34 – DIVORCE – yup. At 34 I am moving from the home I just poured a BUNCH of cash into and leaving it all behind for my last remaining condo in the city which is now a few months behind on payments.
Such a FUN time in my life!! But wait, there’s more and I promise, things are about to get better…
34 – Beg and plead with the banks to modify the loan but since it is an investment property, I lose that battle. Instead, short sale #3 is finalized making me a renter once again.
34 – Got my ass back to work and started saving aggressively.
35 – NO MORE LANDLORD!! I rented for one year before buying my current condo (now a rental) in cash resulting in a super low cost of living.
And now for the best part… I *finally’* realize the error in my ways. I start seeking other ways to make my money work for me besides real estate…
36 – Discovered the FIRE community and, despite being frugal, all the other ways I could be saving money.
37 – Open a brokerage account
37 – Started writing this here blog and began making like-minded friends.
38-39 – Attended all sorts of events to further my personal finance education while also building a community around myself. Camp Mustache, Camp FI, Fincon. (All worthy of the green label because I gained more than the financial cost to attend)
As I write this I am 39. I have ZERO regrets on any of the above. My point in highlighting my timeline is to share that our financial status can change at any moment and definitely from year to year. It can be something awful like a house fire, the death of a loved one, a medical issue. It can be the market tanking, a divorce, a move. It can be something wonderful like a marriage (though I am not a fan of expensive weddings, I get it), a house purchase, a baby (perhaps not an immediate expense but babies eventually grow and extra people in a household do cost money)…twins!! It can be neither good or bad and just circumstantial like an opportunity that just popped up that you HAVE to take (insert caboose post here!!). It can be anything. And it’s all OK!!
I have said before in conversation and maybe even on this blog that I am so happy I found FIRE when I did. I am happy that I had the chance to make all my fucked up money mistakes early on (seriously, there was a lot of pink wine) without the added pressure of trying to reach some arbitrary number. Because that is exactly what it is – arbitrary. There is NO guarantee that your path to FI will be straight – in fact, I can almost guarantee that it won’t be. Your expenses will change along the way. There will be choices and decisions and choose-your-own-adventure type forks in the road. Some will be optional, and some will be mandatory. But all of them will lead you to the hallowed land if you truly want to get there. You just have to trust the process.
So here I sit in my tiny home and I am happy. Despite the added expense of my new high cost of living area. Despite my singledom. Despite the serious fucking heat wave that has overtaken Denver. I am happy. BECAUSE I GOT TO CHOOSE. I saved enough money to make this move and take this chance. And I don’t have to hold back because of a deadline I set for myself 2 years ago. Life happens! I am flexible with my numbers and timelines and the outcome of everything. So what if FI doesn’t happen this year? It can happen next or the year after. I am not going anywhere. And I promise to keep you posted.
Until next time…