Saturday, May 27, 2023

Reflecting on 9 Years of Frugalwoods


April is the ninth anniversary of Frugalwoods! Exhausting to consider I’ve been doing this for therefore lengthy but am nonetheless invigorated and excited to kind phrases at you and assist folks with their cash!!!! That is–by far–my longest tenure at a job and I’m not able to give up or hearth myself!

Us at 29. Can’t consider that was A DECADE AGO

To have fun, I’m going to write down a sequence of reflections alone writing over the previous 9 years. Do I agree with my outdated self? How have my views modified? When I began Frugalwoods on April 9, 2014, I had simply turned 30, I lived within the metropolis of Cambridge, MA, I’d been married to my husband for six years, we have been each working 9-5 workplace jobs and we had zero youngsters.

Rather a lot occurred within the intervening 9 years!

I now work part-time (~23 hours/week) on Frugalwoods, which has grown to incorporate:

I really feel fortunate to do that work and deeply grateful to all of you for occurring this winding (and infrequently long-winded) journey with me!!! Thanks for being right here and for sharing your tales with me.

How I Bought Right here

I began writing Frugalwoods as a result of I felt misplaced.

Mr. FW biking off to work once we lived within the metropolis

I’d simply realized I didn’t wish to work at a desk in an workplace underneath fluorescent lights each Monday via Friday for the following 35 years. I used to be solely 30 and already counting right down to 5pm each single weekday. And I had an amazing job. A job I used to be lucky to have. A job at a nonprofit that paid fairly nicely. However these info–these checkboxes–didn’t make me content material or fulfilled. I felt like I used to be bumping via life as a balloon simply ricocheting off of different folks’s expectations. I needed to alter how I lived. I needed extra freedom and self-direction. I needed more room.

The way in which my husband, Nate, and I made a decision to attain that was via monetary independence. We figured if we lived frugally sufficient and saved nicely sufficient, we might obviate work-for-pay from our lives. We’d not be beholden to an employer’s schedule, calls for or location. We’d additionally, in fact, not have that employer’s wage, retirement advantages or healthcare. So… just some issues to determine!

The total story of our evolution is in my guide, however the define is that we dove into the idea of FIRE (monetary independence, retire early) and decided that if we have been ruthless, we might most likely eek our method to monetary independence by our mid-30s.

I outline monetary independence as not needing to work for cash.

Kidwoods and Littlewoods with sunflowers and pumpkins from our backyard

Meaning we now have sufficient in property (taxable investments, retirement investments, actual property and money) to have the ability to drawdown a sustainable share of those property yearly as a way to cowl our dwelling bills with out operating out of cash earlier than we die. We decided that is via a substantial amount of math, on-line calculators and modeling in excel.

If you wish to run your individual numbers, and analysis learn how to attain FIRE, I extremely advocate the next sources (since that is NOT back-of-the-envelope math):

  1. The Wealthy, Broke or Lifeless Put up-Retirement FIRE Calculator: Visualizing Early Retirement Success and Longevity Threat
  2. Every thing from the MadFientist
  3. Early Retirement Now’s Sequence of Returns Threat posts
  4. JL Collins’ well-known inventory sequence, or, his guide The Easy Path to Wealth

How We Reached FIRE in 23 Easy Steps (hah!)

  1. Us in faculty, age 21

    We graduated faculty with out debt and each discovered jobs immediately. That is an immense privilege resulting from the truth that our mother and father helped us pay for college.

  2. We acquired married at 24, so we grew up collectively and began planning for our monetary future at a extremely younger age. The sooner you begin saving and investing, the extra years it’s important to reap the advantages of compound curiosity.
  3. Put up-marriage we have been low revenue and didn’t have a lot in financial savings, so we lived in a basement condo and have been frugal by necessity. No inherited cash, belief funds or household cash for us.
  4. We have been capable of keep away from debt, which enabled us to place all extra cash into financial savings, versus servicing debt.
  5. We steadily climbed the ladder in our respective careers and elevated our salaries over time.
  6. We lived beneath our means and socked away extra cash into retirement and financial savings.
  7. Early on, we set a aim of shopping for our own residence. This appeared ludicrous at 24 when our web price was like $2,000, however we plugged away at saving up a downpayment.
  8. Married in 2008

    We managed to save lots of ~$60k in money by the point we have been 27 and purchased our first house in 2012 (this home is now our rental property).

  9. Now we do… not-so-good. After shopping for our home, we did not set one other large monetary aim and so… I’ve dubbed these years (ages 27-30) the “pre-Frugalwoods hedonistic heyday.” We have been DINKS (twin revenue, no youngsters) with salaries that had elevated through the years. We lived in a enjoyable metropolis and went out to eating places, espresso outlets and bars. Rather a lot. We began shopping for extra stuff, we inflated our life-style and our spending saved proper up.
  10. Then we hit 30 and malaise took over. We requested ourselves, “Is that this all there’s to life? Working a job you don’t wish to earn a living to spend to assuage your unhappiness over working the job you don’t like????”
  11. We had a joint quarter-life disaster that ushered in what I now name the “lean Frugalwoods years.”
  12. We articulated our aim of quitting our workplace jobs and shifting to a rural plot of land.
  13. To make this occur, we dove into excessive frugality. We saved cash with the zeal of the lately transformed and there wasn’t a factor I wouldn’t lower in service of our monetary independence/rural homestead aim.

The “lean Frugalwoods years” have been a particularly efficient detox. We eradicated loads from our spending, together with:

  • The place we met at age 18 and acquired engaged at 23! (a school lecture corridor: the peak of romance 😉 )

    All consuming out: bars, eating places, espresso, take-out, work lunches, and many others

  • Shopping for clothes
  • Shopping for non-necessities (similar to house decor, make-up, and many others)
  • Paying for haircuts
  • Leisure that value cash
  • Train that value cash
  • Title one thing and we most likely eradicated it

Doing this compelled us to establish our priorities. It was a transformational expertise that made us notice how a lot cash we’d been losing on stuff that in the end didn’t matter to us. If you wish to do that train your self, my free Uber Frugal Month Problem will lead you thru the steps we took.

→Eliminating every little thing is a simple approach to determine what you worth and what you wish to add again into your life.

Us at age ~30; the peak of “lean Frugalwoods”

It’s primarily Marie Kondo-ing your funds. You take away every little thing from the sock drawer of your spending after which YOU are in command of deciding what goes again in. It was a needed examination for us, however after just a few years, we realized it wasn’t sustainable for a lifetime (at the very least, not for us).

We would have liked to discover a center floor, however there’s no approach we might get to that center floor with out first dropping right down to the bottom floor. 

Dawn view from our again porch

Throughout 2014–our first lean Frugalwoods 12 months–we vacillated between saving 65%-82% every month making our common financial savings fee 71.4%. This was achieved, sure, via excessive frugality, but additionally via having good, white-collar salaries. I’m underneath no delusion right here; there are however two variables on this equation:

  1. Earnings
  2. Bills

If we’d had decrease incomes, we wouldn’t have been capable of save practically this a lot. We hit our monetary independence quantity just a few years later, however made the choice for Mr. FW to proceed working as a result of he loved his job nicely sufficient, it paid extraordinarily nicely and he was capable of work remotely from our homestead in Vermont. We additionally needed to pad that FI quantity as a result of extra is all the time higher.

Again to our 23 Easy Steps…

Our homestead within the woods

14. We bought our Vermont place in late 2015 (the identical week Kidwoods was born, which for the document, I don’t advocate… although it completely labored out).

15. I left my workplace job after Kidwoods was born and began working extra hours on freelance writing and Frugalwoods.

16. We moved to Vermont full-time in Could 2016 and started renting out our Cambridge home in June 2016.

17. We continued to save lots of at a fairly excessive fee–sometimes saving all of my husband’s wage and dwelling off of my revenue mixed with the rental revenue.

child + guide child: born weeks aside!

18. We had our second daughter, Littlewoods, in 2018… mere weeks earlier than my first guide printed! I appear to have a knack for birthing kids at REALLY nerve-racking/busy occasions.

19. Within the spring of 2021, we made the choice for Mr. FW to retire from his job as a software program engineer after being with the identical firm for 14 years.

20. We paid off our Vermont mortgage previous to his retirement, for causes which might be totally defined on this publish.

21. I continued to work part-time at my favourite job of all time: serving to folks with their cash!!!!

22. We’ve by no means initiated a drawdown of our property as a result of we’re capable of proceed dwelling on my revenue mixed with the online revenue of our rental property. We “practiced” this for a number of years whereas saving my husband’s revenue, which was a wonderful method to decide the feasibility of this plan.

Mr. Frugalwoods, higher referred to as Nate, current day

23. If I resolve to cease working, or the rental ceases to be worthwhile, or some mixture thereof, we will all the time begin a sustainable drawdown, per our above FIRE calculations.

All in all, I’m very cognizant of the position that privilege and luck play in our successes.

Positive, we labored onerous, however we have been additionally dealt a profitable hand at beginning and continued to rack up privileged alternatives through the years. That reality just isn’t misplaced on me and I do know I’m a really lucky individual.

Current Day: April 7, 2023

That brings us to the current day and what I establish because the “Frugalwoods monetary upkeep part” (hat tip to my favourite podcast). We’ve settled right into a extra temperate model of our outdated selves, which extends its tendrils into each facet of our lives. This moderation performs out not solely in the best way we spend cash; it permeates every little thing we do.

We spend greater than we did throughout “the lean years,” however lower than throughout our “hedonistic heyday.” I feel we’ve hit that center floor the place we’re not consistently leaning into excessive frugality, however we’re nonetheless even handed about our spending.

Littlewoods, now age 5!

We proceed to take a position for retirement (via my solo 401k), contribute to our taxable investments, save into 529 faculty financial savings plans for our children, and add to our Donor Suggested Fund for charitable giving. Our revenue is way decrease than when my husband was working, however we dwell fortunately and we dwell nicely.

Crucially, we have now the time, area, freedom and readability of goal that we lacked 9 years in the past.

My early Frugalwoods posts define these lean years intimately and my hope is that this nine-year retrospective will allow me to light up the center floor, the upkeep part, the sustainable-for-a-lifetime place we’ve (hopefully) arrived at immediately.

I sit up for excavating a few of my years-old posts, lots of which I haven’t checked out since I first wrote them. And because you’re on this journey with me, I MUST know…

What outdated Frugalwoods posts are you interested by listening to an replace on???

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