One Year on the Journey to FIRE

Well, here we are. One year ago, I started lumbering towards the destination of Financial Independence Retire Early. I say lumbering, because it feels like my journey to FIRE is moving in slo-mo.

Before October of 2018, I had a solid plan to retire at the age of 61. 20 years for me to wait for freedom from my full time job(s). After exposure to new ways of thinking, I decided quite suddenly that it wasn’t good enough!

After one year, I still have not implemented all the action items on my list to slash my retirement age. I know I’m slowly heading in the right direction, it just feels so slow that I am barely noticing a difference. That said, reducing expenses, paying off debt, and slightly increasing income have all helped in the journey. What bigger, better things can I do in year two?

  1. Increase Savings Rate

It’s critical that I make major steps in bumping up my savings rate to ensure a larger portfolio and take advantage of compound interest over the next 15-20 years and beyond. What’s holding me back? Debt.

2. Finish paying off Debt

At the beginning of year one, I owed about $20,000 (not including the mortgage). I now owe $4,161. NOT BAD! It will take a few more months to get rid of this, which will free up some $ for a more hefty savings rate.

3. Continue to challenge expenses.

I FEEL like I did quite a bit to reduce my expenses from the Pre-Journey-to-FIRE days. That said, I didn’t track expenses very well prior to October 2018. With the exception of this post, where I regrettably chose to include data from only one month combined with my random thoughts around what we might spend throughout the year, which I now realize is sorely inaccurate. I could go back and try to estimate spending based on old transaction data, however I’ve decided that it’s not worth the effort. Instead, my plan is to compare the coming year, month by month, to see what improvements I have made vs. year one of striving for Financial Independence Retire Early. Side Note: I’d like to focus on tax optimization this year since it is an area where I need to do more research.

A woman standing on a pier looking at a sunset with arms wide open
My goal when I am FIRE. Watch all the sunsets!

One more thing.

The only other thing I’d LIKE to do in the coming year is increase income to bolster #1 above. This has been the biggest struggle for me so far. Other than annual raises, piddly sales of owned items I no longer need, and small jobs like UserTesting.com, I’ve made zero progress in this area. Because I value family, friends, hobbies, and chillaxin’ so much, I don’t make time to get side gigs off the ground. That said, I think I could go right ahead and budget a very specific number of hours per week for side gigs. I have ideas for passive income (besides investing), but they do require considerable startup effort which would need to be diligently planned.

Time to focus the high-powered laser beams on #1-#3 above. Once all outstanding actions around saving, debt and reducing expenses are completed, I will then focus on increasing income.

This post was going to be a nice summary of savings, debt repayment, expenses, etc. over the past year. It would have charts! It would have graphs!

Oops! Instead, I blabbed on about myself and plans for the coming year. Soooo, expect charts and graphs in my next post, and maybe even some goal-setting to improve those numbers for year two? Crazy idea right? FIRE ON!

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