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Financial Independence Journey Update

Financial Independence Journey

When I first started this website in 2014 it was to share my financial journey.  I wanted to be held accountable for paying off my debt.  Each post I made was a debt free scream and each debt paid off a moment of rejoicing.  I shared when I made mistakes, tried new strategies, and reached my financial goals and even included when I came up short.  The debt is gone, but the financial journey continues.  As 2020 is more than half way over I want to share my financial independence journey update.

I’m sharing this information for a number of reasons including:

  • Personal accountability
  • Motivation for others
  • Proof that finances don’t need to be complicated

I’m not sharing this information so that you will sign up for my course (I don’t have a course). 

This is not intended to be a “look at what I did and so can you” post or motivational talk.  We all have different financial journeys, different progress points, and paths to get there.  

My wife and I prefer to keep our financials mostly private so I will do my best to share as much information as possible and keep my wife happy.  Having a happy wife is a must in marriage.

Financial Independence Journey Lady andMountains of Nicaragua

Doing my best to keep my wife happy since 2011

For many years I struggled with debt, income, and any resemblance of putting my financial life together.  My current financial situation is the cultivation of years of ups and downs, hard work, success, failures, and my own personal story. 

Personal finance is personal and I only hope where I am today motivates those to reach their financial goals.  I am humbled and blessed to be in the position we are today financially.

Theme Year Growth and Balance

Theme Year Growth and Balance Light bulb Plant Growing

Going back and reviewing our theme year post from the beginning of 2020 seems like years have gone by not months.

Balance

I want to maintain a balance of exploring new places, opportunities, and keeping my focus on my values.”

As you may have guessed, exploring new places and opportunities have been close to zero.  Our big trip to see an old friend in Alaska was planned in early April and cancelled due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.  

Any small excursions have been cancelled since then.  We shall see what the rest of 2020 holds in these regards but I expect this to be much of the same.

Values

Garage Life Dumbell Sweat

Living more of the garage gym lifestyle these days

On a positive this year has seen an uptick in time spent with my wife and her immediate family.  Many more special parties for birthdays, mother’s day, father’s day, anniversaries, etc. were had at the house.  This usually meant a BBQ or catered food and a few fun games.

Travel as I mentioned has been non-existent as have been my visits to my local CrossFit gym.  I’ve been at the physical location a total of two (2) times since the pandemic started. 

On a positive I have been maintaining my health and fitness at my house.  Five (5) days a week I can be found in my garage gym with a barbell, kettlebells, and a few other pieces of equipment to stay on track.  

As far as my eating habits I have been sticking with a diet that mostly maintains where I am at.  Not too strict or too lenient.

Growth

Here is a list of my goals for the growth of Even Steven Money and financial coaching.  I’ve added my new comments and updates in blue.

When I talk about growth I’m really talking about “Slow and Grow”.  

  • Goal is to double my revenue in 2020. On pace to miss this goal.  I would be happy to reach my previous income in 2019.
  • Grow and become a better financial coach.  I have done this little by little including speaking at CampFI and in fact I’m working on adding this more into the latter part of 2020.
  • Increase the amount of people that read my website and join my newly created monthly journal entries. The number of page views is close to the same pace as 2019 and as my email subscribers have remained relatively constant over 2020 despite the fun content and knowledge I’m sharing each month.
  • Create a financial course based on what I do with my current clients on a one on one basis.  I’ve taken steps to create content that I use with clients so that is a step in the right direction.  My thought process and goals have shifted so it’s unlikely I push to create this by the end of the year.

Get Better Every Day and Enjoy the Moments Along the Way

2020 has not been the year for my business that I set forth to reach.  I have had my ups and downs so far this year as hitting my “slow and grow” goals will be difficult to meet.

What’s been the most important piece to me so far this year is getting just a little better every day.  Becoming a financial coach has never been about the money for me. 

It’s important to remember that the goals I laid out were meant to bring in more people and share my knowledge with personal finance articles and individually through 1 on 1 virtual coaching.

For those clients who I have had the pleasure of working with this year they paid off and saved thousands and reached a number of financial goals along the way.  Cheers to you!

Financial Goals

Our financial goals are pretty straightforward as we have already paid off our debt including the mortgage, have an emergency fund that allows us to sleep at night, and pay off our credit cards in full each month to avoid any interest charges.  

The rest is saving and spending time, energy, and money on our values which matter most to us.

  • Roth IRA (s), invest the maximum contribution 
  • 401K, invest the maximum contribution 
  • Health Savings Account (H.S.A.), invest the maximum contribution 
  • Save & Invest an amount that makes us uncomfortable in our taxable brokerage account each month 
  • Invest unexpected income to our taxable brokerage account that holds individual stocks
  • Invest income from self employment work  to my Solo 401K

Investing and Saving

From the beginning of the year we started on the right track.  We maxed out our Roth IRA (s) and have been consistently contributing to my wife’s 401K (on track to finish in early November) and H.S.A..

Our monthly uncomfortable investment amount has been consistent each month.  I’ve even considered increasing this amount.  Unexpected income has indeed allowed us to make some individual stock purchases.  

We also have some extra cash that we are looking for investment opportunities and holding to see how the global pandemic affects us from a personal level. 

As far as my solo 401K I made an investment early in the year, mostly on accident but the self employed work has been non-existent and thus so have my solo 401K contributions.

From an investing and saving standpoint we are on track to reach our financial goals and I am grateful for that.  What we cannot control is the market’s ups and downs.  Because of that I’ll continue investing in the ups and the downs and let long term investing take its course.

Spending on our Values

I am a firm believer that we should focus our time, energy, and money on what’s most important in our lives.  I’ve discussed how we have had an increase in time and energy spent with our immediate family and my health & fitness while less time and energy on travel occurred. 

Now let’s take a look at the money that was spent on our values.  For me that comes down to primarily three (3) categories:

  • Immediate Family
  • Travel
  • Health & Fitness

Gifts to our families have increased this year as the bulk of all birthdays, anniversaries, and special occasions occur in the first half of the year.  Travel and thus travel spending is down a little.  In 2019 the bulk of our travel was done in the second half of the year with the big trip to Italy so I imagine it will be down even further.

Health and fitness is about the same compared to last year but that number could increase as I have started to make purchases for my garage gym.  My wife discontinued her gym membership for a variety of reasons so most of the funds have been used from the savings that built up over the last six (6) months.

Overall Spending

Our top spending categories (not including taxes) for the first part of this year have been insurance, groceries, and restaurants compared to 2019 which was insurance, restaurants, and general merchandise (we bought a couch). 

Financial Independence Journey Spending Categories

Notes*  Insurance seems high but this includes our home insurance for the entire year, full coverage with higher liability coverage, umbrella policy, and life insurance.  In general we still pay a higher rate for a number of controllable and uncontrollable reasons.

The initial travel purchases were all refunded and only a deposit on travel for later in 2020 is an actual travel expense. Uncategorized is primarily a fee that is immediately refunded from our bank which is not an actual expense.

Grocery Spending Alert

The biggest increase in expenses for the first half of 2020 has been our groceries.  We decided to do more grocery shopping online to reduce contact with people.  This along with more time at home and less money spent on restaurants our totals have increased steadily.

We also bought a Nespresso machine.  My wife and I love it so far.  Although it has increased our coffee spending.  Monthly coffee purchases are regular and a little more costly than buying drip coffee. 

I have started to drink craft Non-Alcoholic beer.  That’s a statement that I thought I would never make!  I’ve tried a few flavors from Athletic Brewing Company which have been delicious after my garage gym workouts or pizza and a NA beer on a Friday.

Athletic Brewing

Craft Non Alcoholic Brewing

Overall spending is down for the first half of the year.  But a larger portion of our spending occurred in the second half of 2019 so we shall see if 2020 does the same.  It shall be interesting to see how spending changes as restrictions are more/less throughout the remaining part of the year.

Financial Independence Journey Update

2020 has not gone as planned and that’s fine.  Not everything is in our control.  What’s important is to work on those things that you can control.  

It’s easy to complain about life and the sometimes unexpected twists and turns it gives you.  It’s an entirely different thing to continue marching ahead.  

I don’t claim to have all the answers about starting a business, self employment, saving, investing, or budgeting.  However we will continue our financial independence journey and our pursuit of  spending more time, energy, and money on what we value most.

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