It’s been busy as heck lately but my one-year Freedom Anniversary just passed and it’s a good time to do a real, no shit, honest assessment on how this new life is rounding out. Perhaps it’s best to do this numerically point by point and below I’ll list 20 ways it’s changed my life in no particular order:
1. I have total control of my daily schedule and am free to say “No” whenever it suits so that I can do the things I like – such as….
2. Spending time with my son and my wife (daughter is in Texas) or…
3. Working out and staying in great shape or…
4. Fishing or…
5. Improving our home (pressure washed, painted trim, washed windows etc.)
6. Net worth has increased 11.77% as of this writing (yay!!)
7. Part time fun gig #1 – licensed tour guide in Colonial Williamsburg
8. Part time fun gig #2 – Area Consultant for relocating corporate clients in Tidewater Virginia region
9. Part time fun gig #3, #4, #5 ad infinitum…. Who knows! I can do whatever I want to!
10. Vacation to Texas and Bayou – Corpus Christie, San Antonio, New Orleans
11. Visit to Tennessee and Jack Daniels Distillery
12. Multiple trips to Virginia Beach
13. Multiple visits to see friends and family in Ohio (Amazing what happens when you have the time)
14. Boredom? That hasn’t been a problem AT ALL. I can be as busy as I want to be or (gasp!) take a nap
15. Lots of time to read – the classics improve your knowledge and wisdom
16. Researching stocks for potential investment
17. Multiple trips to local vineyards
18. Shop estate auctions for EBay side gig
19. Learning to be a much better cook
I should note that I did some (not all) of these things when I was working full time but was always pressed for time and could not enjoy each activity nearly as much. That is a HUGE change. Life has slowed down and the stress valve has been pulled.
The main concern most people have is finances and thus far we’ve managed that just fine. Having a military pension meant that we could begin our journey sooner than we otherwise would have. The day I left my job we took a meat cleaver to our monthly costs and cut them by over $1000 per month – probably the most gratifying part of this journey. In talking to neighbors it seems that our monthly utility costs are about $100 less than theirs (LEDs, energy star appliances, thermostat settings). We tweaked some insurance policies and eliminated others. We eliminated our car payment. The cost of doing all the things which come with just about any job were largely eliminated. There’s no longer a 60 mile round trip to the office. There’s no more birthday donations for co-workers. There’s no need to maintain a large, fancy wardrobe. We dropped a tax bracket which is another huge savings. We now pay 0.00% on capital gains and dividends. After adding it all up I realized that the net loss of leaving work was far far less than what I initially assumed. There I was working for years in what essentially amounted to far less of an annual salary than what it looked like on paper.
The downside is that we are no longer in the power saver category. The days of plowing 60% of our annual earnings into investments are over. Our investment accounts are now there to be tapped. That said, we’ve managed to keep that to a minimum which has let them grow. The side gigs have helped us avoid hitting our investments too often. Our largest expense this year was refinancing our mortgage. We seized opportunity and refinanced our mortgage to a 15 year fixed at 3% (thanks BREXIT!) which helps recoup the cost of the refinance and will increase our net worth. The refinancing means that our monthly savings rate is locked in at a 9% run rate (now accretive to home equity) assuming no additions or subtractions from investment accounts.
It’s been a fabulous year.