Progress to Financial Independence- May 2017

Another month in the books. Whitney and I have been working and traveling a lot lately, so time really flew by this month. Since starting our new jobs I’ve averaged eight hours of overtime per week through the first eight weeks. This would really be awesome if overtime pay was truly 1.5x our normal hourly travel pay, but unfortunately that is not the case. I’m planning to write a blog post regarding overtime pay as a traveler soon, but we effectively earn only half of our normal pay when we work overtime due to how our pay is structured. Even though it isn’t as much as our normal pay, I still am fine with making the extra money, although it is draining to stay at work until 7-8 PM or later most nights. One day this past week I actually had 13.25 hours on the clock which is definitely a record for me. As far as weekend trips go, we traveled to: Charleston, SC, Philadelphia, PA, Atlantic City, NJ, and Shenandoah National Park in Virginia all in the month of May. We spent every weekend out of town this month which meant a lot of packing and unpacking. Our trip to Shenandoah National Park was to hike Old Rag Mountain with Chris and Kim who write for the blog “Eat the Financial Elephant.” It was awesome to meet up and talk with them after Chris recently wrote an amazing guest post for us that ended up being the most popular post on this site to this point.

Due to all the trips out of town and late nights at work (leading to eating dinner at restaurants way more than we should) my expenses were up quite a bit this month, but luckily this has been more than outweighed by the overtime. The extra hours have led to me being a little more liberal with my spending, which has actually been a bit of a relief since I’m usually so adamant on spending as little as possible. The market continuing to rally, combined with these higher paying jobs and the addition of overtime pay has led to a drastic improvement in my net worth this month. I decided to make some adjustments to my Excel spreadsheet that my charts are based on due to consistently overshooting my savings goals each month. I added an additional $200/month to my “savings per month” category, which should make the projections a little more realistic. The increased net worth from this month and the extra $200/month projected into the future has moved my projected financial independence date up by two months! It’s likely that I will also make some adjustments in the future on my projected spending per month. I purposely made this number higher than it needs to be when I first started my spreadsheet in order to account for increased expenses in the future but, after reconsidering, I think I estimated a little higher than I needed to. If that amount is adjusted to a more realistic number, then that will put me even closer to my FI date.

Even with my future expenses likely exaggerated a little, I am still on pace to reach financial independence in April, 2020 based on my projections. The surprising part about that to me is it means that I am nearly halfway through my full time working career and I have been working for only two years. I am continuing to stockpile liquid assets right now in anticipation of purchasing my first rental property in the near future. The rental property should be an awesome way to put my money to use while diversifying and hedging against my stock market and personal loan investments.

June should be an interesting month because, although I will be receiving five paychecks, I have some big expenses coming up that will likely negate the extra paycheck. Nonetheless, I am optimistic that I will reach, or hopefully surpass, my savings goal for the month and continue to push my FI date closer and closer.

Progress to Financial Independence- April 2017

We’re now a little over three weeks into our new contracts in Berryville, VA. Currently we are living at a campground in Harpers Ferry, WV. The trip to get here from our last assignment in eastern North Carolina was less than pleasant. We stopped for a night in Roanoke, VA to see our families on the way, but not before having to go down a steep incline at a gas station and destroying on of the stabilizer jacks on the back of the fifth wheel. When we arrived at the campground, our living room slide out got partially stuck on one side which resulted in the slide not being able to fully extend or retract. Luckily we were able to get it most of the way out and enough that rain doesn’t get in. We plan to have it repaired once we leave this campground on the way to the next assignment.

The stock market has continued to stay near all time highs which means that my investments did well this month. Both of my personal loans continue to go according to plan. In addition, I surpassed my savings goal by a healthy margin again this month. Our new contracts are the highest paying that we have taken so far which is helpful, and I have also worked 25 hours overtime in the first three weeks of being here which helped my net worth. I plan to continue to work as much overtime as possible, and that, in conjunction with the higher pay, should lead to a significant increase in my savings rate over the next couple of months.

I am now a little less than 40% of the way to my total goal for financial independence, which is not bad for less than two years since graduation. June 2020 is still the estimated FI date, based on my current projections, but with a little luck I’ll be closing in on May 2020 within the next couple of months. At some point I’ll probably need to update my net worth goal based on my current spending rate, which is significantly less than my original estimates when I started tracking my progress last year. I’m torn between keeping the goal the same to be safe versus making the goal more realistic to hit my FI target sooner. Ultimately it doesn’t make a difference, but the quicker I can proclaim that I’m financially independent, the less stressed I’ll be. If all of this overtime continues and the market stays around current levels, May should be a very good month for me as well.

Progress to Financial Independence- March 2017

March was the most lucrative month that I’ve had financially to this point. A combination of five paychecks this month and receiving my tax refund, equal to an additional paycheck, resulted in a significant improvement in my net worth. I also received $400 in bank account sign up bonuses this month to add some icing on the cake. The stock market had a rare down month, but that was no match for my astronomical savings rate due to lots of money coming in and minimal spending.

Whitney and I have accepted our next travel assignments which will take us back to Virginia, but this time in the northwest part near West Virginia. We both agreed to change up settings for this contract and will therefore be working in a skilled nursing facility that requires home health visits as well. We believe that this will be a good change of pace for us as well as allow us to get some experience in home health which is something that I plan to do in the future. Another perk of our new jobs is an additional ~$300/month of income which will further help to boost my savings rate. At this point we will be making about $600/month more than what we made during our very first contracts as new grads. Since my savings rate and monthly savings goals were made based on that lower income, it is likely that I will continue to surpass my expectations.

March was an interesting month for my investments. As I have written about previously, I do not wish to put new money in the stock market at current valuations as I feel the risk is not worth the expected return over the next 10 years. Instead of putting additional cash in the stock market, I decided to make two personal loans, one to family, and one to fund a friend’s business. As a result of the loan to my friend, I am now a 5% owner in his gym Tri-Star Fitness and Performance which is located in my hometown, Roanoke, VA. He is doing good work for the community, and I believe that this will prove to be a good investment.

My current projection for FI is in the month of June 2020, which will be exactly five years after I first began working full time. I am optimistic that with additional money from credit card and bank account sign up bonuses, as well as good investments, I will be able to push this date up even further over the next couple of years. Only time will tell but I hope that you guys continue to stick around for the journey.

Progress to Financial Independence- February 2017

February was a relatively uneventful month compared to all the problems in January. Work went well, and Whitney and I began applying for our Illinois PT licenses where we hope to work in the next couple of months if everything goes well. We were hoping to extend our contracts to stay at the beach for the spring and beginning of summer, but it looks like the company we’re working for may be hiring a couple of full time PTs and will no longer need us here. We’ve gotten to explore the area more over the past month and have been impressed with most things around here. At this point eastern NC is definitely a top consideration for where we will live after we finish traveling.

Financially, it was another awesome month. I easily surpassed my savings goal for the month, and the US stock market continues to surge higher which boosted my net worth this month. At this point the CAPE ratio (29.52) for the US market is the third highest it has been in history and above the level it was before the crash in 2008. This is not good news for future US stock market returns that are estimated to be somewhere around 1% annualized over the next 10 years based on current valuations. No one can say for sure what the future holds, but it looks very unlikely that the market will return anywhere near it’s historical average over the next 10 year period. This is the reason that I have continued to stockpile cash instead of pouring money into the market over the past year. With that being said, I do have about half of my net worth invested in the market currently to take advantage of the gains in case the market continues to climb higher.

Based on my current calculations, I’m still going to reach financial independence in July 2020 but getting closer to June due to a higher savings rate in North Carolina and the previously mentioned market returns. In addition, I could now live for a little over 12 years on my current savings assuming an average return of 6% which is exciting to think about. Hopefully we won’t have to take any time off after our current contracts end and I can continue with my recent savings rate, but so far we don’t have any good prospective jobs. Our contracts end at the beginning of April so hopefully by next month at this time we will have a better idea of what will be in store for the next three months.

 

Progress to Financial Independence- January 2017

January started off awesome with a fun long weekend in Savannah, GA staying at a beautiful hotel for free. One week later we moved from Fayetteville to start our new jobs on the NC coast. Starting on the day we left Fayetteville, things went downhill quickly. On the morning we woke up to move, it was the coldest day of the winter in Fayetteville by far with a early morning temperature of about 18 degrees and temperatures in the 20s throughout the day. The water was frozen, the sewer hose was frozen, our tanks wouldn’t close because they were frozen, and the entire roof of the camper had a solid layer of ice on it. After we finally got everything unhooked and made it to our new campground on the coast, I went inside the camper to find that the ice on top of the slide had melted during the drive and soaked the carpet and floor in our living room/kitchen. When we went back outside to level the camper, the truck wouldn’t start. Keep in mind that the fifth wheel is still attached…

After about two hours of trying to clean up all the water inside, we went back out and tried to start the truck a few more times and it finally started. We leveled the camper and took the truck to get fuel hoping that the failure to start was just a fluke. It turned out that it wasn’t a fluke. The truck wouldn’t start at the gas station so we had to call a tow truck and wait for almost three hours for it to arrive. Since we had only been in town since that afternoon, we had no idea about repair shops in the area and it was a Sunday evening so everything was closed. The tow truck driver recommended a Ford dealership nearby and we agreed to have it towed there, we later found out that this was a mistake. When we got home the water at our campground site was also frozen so we had to go take showers in the bath house.

We started work the next morning but luckily our first day was orientation at the same location so we were able to get away with only driving one car. The dealership called us and said that the truck needed two new batteries and a fuel pump which would cost $900. We were a little upset about the cost but we didn’t have much choice so we agreed. Finally our water was restored when we got home from work that night which made things a little better.

Fast forward a couple of days and the dealership calls us and says that the truck is ready to be picked up. We went and got it, drove it about 15 minutes, turned it off, and then it wouldn’t start again. Doing the exact same things as before. It finally started again about two hours later and we took it straight back to the dealership. This time they told us that it would be $3,000 for a high pressure oil pump and a fuel injector. Luckily, with our jobs we were able to get advice on local mechanics from patients and decided to get a second opinion at a recommended locally owned shop. The mechanic told us that it only needed a new fuel injector and that it would cost $850. He fixed it and the truck has been running fine ever since.

All in all, the repairs ended up costing us about $2,000 and a week and a half of Whitney riding to work in the morning with a coworker and me picking her up in the evening. After a pretty rough first two weeks dealing with all the problems as well as trying to get used to new facilities and a terrible documentation system, things finally started to get better. The remainder of the month was great as we got more comfortable with our jobs and the new area. Eastern North Carolina is a beautiful place and somewhere that we are considering living once we finish traveling.

Financially, the truck put me behind on my savings goal for the month, but due to the stock market still surging higher and higher as well as receiving my 401k match for 2016, I actually beat my projection for the month. I’m still on track for hitting financial independence around July, 2020 which will be exactly five years after I started my career and less than three and a half years from now. Since my projection is based on higher expenses than my current level (due to anticipating higher costs later in life with children) I will actually be at a level that is able to sustain my current expenses in about a year and a half from now. Very exciting!

Progress to Financial Independence- December 2016

I’m late on posting this but it’s been a busy month. We were out of town almost every weekend in December. We visited Asheboro, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Savannah, and went home for Christmas. We had the day after Christmas off of work so we got to spend a long weekend at home which was very nice. We spent another three day weekend for New Year’s Eve in Savannah, and stayed at the awesome Hyatt Regency Savannah for free using credit card points. This was a beautiful hotel in a prime location in historic downtown Savannah right on River Street which was definitely worth the points.

Despite the trips, personal property taxes, and car repairs, I was still able to surpass my savings goal for this month. This is mostly due to there being five paychecks in the month of December. My net worth was boosted by another month of high market returns despite overvalued equities.

At this point I am on track to reach financial independence in July, 2020 which is only three and a half years away! Whitney and I are still on the fence about what exactly we will do or where we will settle down once I reach FI and we finish our travel PT journey. Since we are so used to changing locations every few months, we have discussed “slow traveling” Go Curry Cracker style and spending at least a few months living in southeast Asia. Speaking of changing locations, we finished up our contracts in Fayetteville, NC yesterday and will be moving to Morehead City, NC tomorrow to begin our new jobs Monday morning! We’re very excited about this move and can’t wait to spend a few months at the beach… even if it is during winter. Another advantage of the new contracts is a higher pay rate which will help me with my savings goal each month.

Progress to Financial Independence- November 2016

November seemed to fly by, but it was a moderately eventful month. Whitney and I spent some time working on our camper, sealing around the openings on the roof to prepare for winter.  We took a weekend trip to Asheville, NC to explore and also to see the Biltmore Estate. It was an amazing and beautiful place, but of course it pales in comparison to our luxurious camper layout ;). If you’ve never been, then I would definitely recommend checking it out. It is a bit expensive ($118 for two tickets to do a self guided tour) but it’s worth it to see once. Whitney also took a trip to see a couple of her friends from PT school on the coast of NC. Last, since we’re about a four hour drive from our hometown right now, we were able to see family for Thanksgiving.  We spent Thanksgiving day with some of Whitney’s extended family that lives in NC and waited until the weekend to make the trip home to see our immediate families.

Whitney and I are currently working on our next assignments which will start at the beginning of the year and will hopefully be on the North Carolina coast. We only have five weeks left on our current contracts in Fayetteville, and although we have enjoyed it, we are about ready to move on.

Financially this was a very good month due to meeting my savings goal but also because of a jump in the stock market following the election. I was able to make up some of the lost ground from taking the extra time off in September between contracts. I’m now on track to achieve financial independence around August, 2020. Also, at my current level of spending, I could take about 9.5 years off of work before I would be at risk of running out of money. That’s a pretty cool feeling.

December should be a good month, not only because of the holidays, but also because of getting an extra paycheck which should help me surpass my savings goal for the month.

 

Progress to Financial Independence- October 2016

Although October has 31 days, it really flew by this year. Whitney and I got a little more settled into our new assignments, we took a weekend trip back home for a wedding, and I turned 28 years old but besides that, not much excitement this month. We are really enjoying the weather in North Carolina which has still been in the 80’s on most days even though it is now November. Our jobs are going very well and we are planning on trying to extend our contacts for another three months if we are able.

Financially, I did well with savings this month because we didn’t have any unexpected surprises but I still fell a little behind due to a rough month for the stock market in general. My portfolio dropped by about 2% in total this month but I won’t let that bother me because I’m in it for the long haul, unlike in the past. Based on my calculations this month, I’m still on track for FI in August, 2020 which is two months before my 33rd birthday.

Hopefully next month will provide better investment returns, but I’m not holding my breath. Market valuations remain very high which usually means lower returns over the short and intermediate term. I am now beginning to stockpile some cash so that I will be able to put a down payment on an investment property once I have two years of work history to qualify for a mortgage. I’m still about seven months away from having a two year work history but by the time I get there I should have a big cash reserve. In the meantime, I will continue to read and learn about real estate investing as much as possible so that I will, hopefully, have an easier time with it in the future.

We are trying to plan a couple of weekend trips to visit nearby attractions but overall November should be pretty quiet. Hopefully that means hitting my savings goal for the month but we will see how it plays out.

Progress to Financial Independence- September 2016

September ended up being even worse than I had anticipated with regards to my financial situation. I knew that I would be missing out on two weeks of pay, from spending a week at home and then going on vacation. I also knew that I would only be getting partial pay for another two weeks, due to only being able to work part time for our last two weeks in Massachusetts. What I didn’t anticipate was about $900 in truck and camper repairs which came out of nowhere during our drive back to VA from MA.

Apart from my financial goals, September was an amazing month. It was great being at home for a week to catch up with friends and family, and the free week in Jamaica was amazing. We got very spoiled being at the two all-inclusive resorts. In addition, our two weeks of part time work in Massachusetts allowed us to spend a  three day weekend in Canada, which wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.

At the end of September we started our new jobs in Fayetteville, NC, and we have been enjoying them so far. We found two outpatient jobs which is what we really wanted. The clinics where Whitney and I are working are only about 5 minutes away from each other, and we only have about a 10 minute commute to work which is convenient. The campground where we’re staying here is about half of the price we were paying in Massachusetts. We are also both making about an extra $40 per week which is nice.

As you can imagine, I was no where near my savings goal for the month of September, but due to the decreased cost of expenses and increased pay over the next few months, I’m hoping to make up some of that lost ground. I have also considered finding a part time job in the area, but I’m not sure how feasible that will be at this point. In addition, I’m working on a couple bank account bonuses right now, which should equate to a few hundred extra dollars this month.

Even with the  financial set-backs this month, I still made some progress overall and only dropped one month on my financial independence estimation timeline. The current projection based on my net worth and savings rate is August, 2020. Also, I now have enough invested that I could live comfortably for 8 years if I stopped working today.

October will be a good month. Not only financially, but also because it’s my birthday month!

Progress to Financial Independence- August 2016

It’s September already? These months are flying by.

August was a little interesting for us this year because we chose to take a contract in the northeast to have a more mild summer but this August was the hottest on record in this area. It was basically like being in Virginia. Also, this summer has been the most dry summer on record in this area as well. That meant a lot of hot, beautiful days outside, some of which we got to enjoy but most of which we watched through the windows at work.

Financially, I just barely met my savings goal for the month. My total investments are equal to 6 years of expenses at this point which is pretty cool to think about. I am still on track to reach financial independence by July, 2020 according to my estimates. I don’t expect this to last much longer because September is going to be a tough month this year. Even though there are five paydays in September, I will likely be nowhere near my savings goal because we are working 20 hours/week this week and next week and then taking two weeks off after that before starting our next contracts. This means that I will only be getting one full paycheck and two partial paychecks over the entire next month.

Speaking of contracts, we got our next assignments finalized this morning and will be moving to North Carolina to start new jobs on 9/26! These contracts will be 15 weeks which will take us through the beginning of the year and hopefully longer if we really like the jobs. After a month of talking to recruiters and worrying, it is very nice to have that taken care of. Also, our Jamaica trip is in two weeks!

Even though September will be tough financially, I’m not too worried about it because we needed the time off (15 straight months of working with no vacation/sick time). Also, we will be making a little more each week at the new jobs and the cost of living will be quite a bit less in North Carolina. That will set me up well for getting back on track in October, November, and December.