Happy 2018, y’all!
As I’m writing this, Fergus, Fluffster, and I are currently sitting (and one of us is whining) in a Red Roof Inn wondering what the weird sound coming from the bathroom is. [Future Felicity here: still no clue what that sound was…]
What do two nerds who don’t celebrate Christmas do with holiday time off? A mini hackathon, of course! Fergus is hard at work finishing up a custom WordPress theme, because wow are we particular. We’re getting a new layout, and even some new commissioned art that we are so psyched about! Meanwhile I’m taking care of the writing backlog and basic SEO upgrades for the site.
In the meantime, take a read of our Two Cup House guest post! We’re proud to have shared our story and participated in their 25 Days of Personal Finance series. Just a little bit of a teaser to get your interest piqued:
About three years ago, our dog, Fluffster, suddenly started dry heaving on a walk. Less than an hour later at the emergency vet, we were told he had bloat and were handed an itemized bill for roughly $5k.
We started this year dedicating ourselves to $2,680 in charitable donations, ten times our previous, pitiful contributions. Just a few days ago we officially fully funded our donor-advised fund, meaning we could theoretically maintain that $2,680 each year for the rest of our lives (we haven’t touched on too many specifics of our spending on here, but for context, we live on a little more than $36k a year, including rent, and additionally give $10k to family each year).
According to the 4% rule of thumb, we’d need $67k, but we rounded up to $70k for good measure. Coincidentally, my starting salary as a new engineering grad six years ago was $67k! Due to the magic of compounding returns and some nice salary bumps along the way, this contribution only delays financial independence by about six months for us, and we should still be able to reach our goal of 2019!
First off, can we all agree that “How to Be Everything” is an amazing title for a book?
If you read enough self-help or management books, after a while they all seem to be just the same message repackaged over and over again (Not that anything can be totally original, but you know what I mean).
I watched Emilie Wapnick’s TED talk about “multipotentiality” close to a year ago on the recommendation of one of my best friends and deeply connected with the message. I’d read the book The Renaissance Soul years ago, and I figured How to Be Everything was just going to be another repackaging of the same idea. So wrong.
It’s not like we have never donated to charities before. We’ve sent the Red Cross the odd donation, and we’ve donated on behalf of coworkers running for charity. We’ve even pitched in for a couple Go Fund Me’s for friends in tough situations. It was just never a lot – $200-$300 a year at the most.
This year, we’re 10Xing that.
And you, too, can be just like me!
In all seriousness, that is my actual earning statement after officially blogging for 13 months (well, more like -$99 due to hosting and domain name). I’m writing this post for two reasons:
(1) It is insanely easy to glamorize the lives of your favorite bloggers, or to envy those that actually make a living at this; they make it look so easy. When you think, “Hey, I have ideas, I want to blog, too,” it’s disheartening to see what appears to be everyone else, except for you, succeed.
This is called survivorship bias. Lots of people fail or struggle, you just don’t see it. This post is me showing the world (okay, the optimistically nine people who regularly read this blog), that I have tried and failed at generating any kind of “side hustle” income from this blog. That I have spent easily over 100 hours of just writing for negative financial returns. We so rarely publicize and try to learn from failures.
Strangely enough, practicing frugality can enhance both your earning power and your workplace satisfaction. Knowing that we live below our means and could easily live off only one of our salaries gave me the courage to step away from a job that was emotionally draining and unfulfilling.
It was a fine job, really. No one yelled at me, the pay was decent, with good benefits and a fine work/life balance. Expectations were low, and I could spend as much time as I wanted slacking off on personal finance forums. And that was the problem. There was no sense of accomplishment, no sense of fulfillment.
Right out of university I started off bright-eyed and idealistic, thinking I could help make the world a better place, but the culture did not reward that thinking. When I did what I considered to be “good work,” it was not recognized. I had honest conversations with management asking for feedback and guidance on how to get promoted and grow in my career, but every year the answer changed.
When we first forayed into the world of financial blogging as content consumers, we were introduced to a lot of new terms. For the early retirement community, the most common are Financial Independence (FI) or Financially Independent and Retired Early (FIRE). There’s a reason (besides alliteration) that we use “Financial Freedom” as opposed to FIRE: Words are powerful.