Earn Dollars While Losing Pounds with HealthyWage

Dueling Passions

As I mentioned in my introduction post (hard to believe I wrote that well over a year ago now), I become easily obsessed with things. Prior to personal finance and investing, I was obsessed with nutrition and powerlifting/bodybuilding. I reached the leanest and strongest point in my life going into my last year of PT school, around the summer of 2014. I really had my nutrition and workouts dialed in and was very happy with my body and level of fitness. Fast forward three years and things aren’t going so well on this front.

Around the time of graduation, I started intently researching personal finance, investing, and financial independence topics. This shifted my focus from health to money, and that is where it has remained for the past 2.5 years or so. In the summer of 2014, I reached a low weight of 181 lbs at 6’3″ with a body fat percentage around 6%. Today I weigh about 235 lbs and would hate to know my body fat percentage. I gradually watched my passion for lifting and dieting deteriorate, and along with it my physique and self confidence, while my focus was fully on increasing my net worth. While this weight gain was happening, I knew I needed to change things but couldn’t find the motivation to do it. I kept putting it off and blamed it on my dedication to spending my time hustling to make money instead of lifting and meal prepping. After all, what’s better than listening to the ChooseFI podcast and reading Early Retirement Now after work, while sitting on the couch eating cereal? As great as it is, this can’t last forever.

Making a Change

I recently read this quote by Tony Robbins which describes my current situation quite well:

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.”

I’ve finally reached the point where the pain of being in my current physical condition is greater than the pain required to starting dieting and lifting again. I also made a great discovery that has drastically increased my motivation to get back to my old ways. Some genius came up with a website that will pay you to lose weight and achieve your goals! Finance and fitness, now you’ve got my attention. Not only is there a prize for reaching your weight loss target, but if you don’t hit the goal, you actually lose the money you bet on yourself! That’s a double whammy! If you’re like me (and chances are you are if you’re reading this blog where I primarily write about personal finance and reaching financial independence), then you aren’t a fan of giving money away without good cause. There’s a possibility that if it was just a cash prize for losing weight I could make some excuse to put it off until later, but when there is the consequence of losing money if I don’t achieve what I’ve set out to do, there is a zero percent chance I will let that happen. Keep reading to see how it all works.

HealthyWage

The site I’m referring to is HealthyWage. The site works by you betting cash on yourself each month to reach your weight loss target. Based on how much you plan to lose, the time frame, your current weight, and how much you bet, you are given a prize for completion. Whitney and I both signed up and each expect to earn around $1,000 as well as lose a significant amount of weight over the next 8 months.  For me, at the end of the 8 month time period I chose, I will have bet a total of just under $4,000 on myself. If I don’t reach my goal, I would lose that money. If I do reach my goal, I get a little over an 18% return on my investment at the end. That’s around $720. Here’s an example of what my offer looked like:

Healthy wage offerI mentioned we plan to make around $1,000 each, and the reason I say that is because they also have challenges that you can sign up for and participate in along the way that not only give you extra money but also help you in reaching your weight loss goal. Some of the challenges we signed up for, in addition to the main bet, include: losing 6% of your total body weight in 3 months and taking an average of 10,000 steps per day. We would do both of these things along the way to our ultimate prize anyway, so why not earn extra money doing it?!

You might be thinking that this sounds too good to be true, and that’s exactly what I thought when I heard about it. I’m extremely driven by competition and financial gain, so having a site that offered to pay me to lose weight definitely sounded perfect for me and way too good to be true. After hours and hours of research I eventually figured out that the site is legit. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive from those that have participated, and HealthyWage even got an A+ from the Better Business Bureau. Feel free to do your research as well instead of just taking my word for it.

The next question I had was how can they possibly make sure that people aren’t cheating to get money from them. They require a video submission of your initial and final weigh-ins to make sure that you’re being honest about your weight. At first this seemed like a hassle to me, but was actually very easy. The videos have specific requirements and are reviewed by staff prior to you starting the process. They also can request that you go have your weight verified by a healthcare professional if they suspect any kind of foul play. I imagine that these two safeguards significantly reduce the likelihood of people trying to cheat when they have money on the line.

The Bottom Line

Overall, this seems to be an awesome way to not only introduce accountability into my weight loss goals, but also to make extra money in the process. I’m really excited to begin this transition back into diet and exercise, and with this new tool, I’m very motivated to reach my weight loss goals and have an additional $1,000 toward my goal of financial independence.

Does this sound like something that you or your friends and family would be interested in? At first glance this might not be something everyone is interested in. Like I said, I was initially skeptical myself. I know Whitney was extremely skeptical as well, and I really had to push her to want to try it out. But after showing her all the different options on the website including how you can choose your own bet, whether that’s $20/month up to $100’s/month, and 5lbs to 50lbs, she decided to get onboard with me. I encourage you to check it out for yourself, or show a friend/family member who may be wanting to start a weight loss journey but needs that extra motivation.

If you are interested, you can sign up through my referral link and set your own goal, and by going through my referral link we will each get $40 added to our payout when we reach our goals. Take this time to stop procrastinating and start improving both your health and your financial situation! Put your money where your mouth is, as they say. We can go through this journey together, and they even offer some team challenges to earn more money. If you sign up, be sure to mess with the variables a little to try to get the best payout percentage. Initially I wanted to lose 30 lbs in 6 months, but that offered only a 9% return on my investment. By increasing to 45 lbs in 8 months, I was able to get a much better return.

Good luck and let me know if you sign up and would like to participate in team challenges together. I can assure you that I’ll be a good teammate because I’m not a fan of losing money ;).

Travel PT: Fayetteville, NC

-By Whitney-

Timeline: September 2016 – January 2017

So to go along with our original Travel PT Plan for the Next Four Years, we had planned to go North in the Summer and South in the Winter. Well, since we’re from VA, we really wanted to go deeper South this past Winter, like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina… but unfortunately we just weren’t able to find two jobs together in those states at that time. So the furthest South for the Winter we could get was North Carolina! We had actually heard not-so-great things about Fayetteville, NC and were initially hesitant to take these jobs. But we were given the opportunity to talk to a current travel PT working in the area who said she didn’t mind it at all, and that just like everywhere else, you have to be smart and avoid the bad areas. (And as it turns out, this was exactly how we felt about Fayetteville after having spent 15 weeks there.) Besides that, the jobs that we were offered sounded really great: 2 outpatient jobs with the same parent company within 10 minutes of each other and pretty darn close to a couple campground options! So we went for it.

Our first week there

When we first moved down, the campground that was closest to our jobs and cheapest didn’t have any availability. So we went with the one that did have openings which was only about a 25 minute drive up I-95. It was a former KOA which was very large with a beautiful property and great amenities, but the only problem we had were the bugs! There were so many gnats and mosquitos there, it was crazy. During our first week there, we also ran into some trouble with the commute due to rain and flooding. There was a day or so where they had just a regular storm, but as we were soon to find out, flooding is a major problem there. It was one of my first days of commuting to my new job and I ended up being over 30 minutes late because there were several road closures and detours. When I finally did get to work, my co-worker also informed me that the stretch of Business I-95 I took is extremely well known for hydroplaning and cars going off into the ditch, and she advised me always to go below the speed limit on that road when it rains. This was good to find out after I had already been speeding to work, ha! Fortunately I was safe getting to work, and in addition the rain caused a lot of cancellations that day (plus I didn’t have a full schedule yet as it was) so it was fine that I was late!

Moving again

So during our first week there, we got a phone call from the closer campground that there was an opening! It was kind of a pain to have to move again, but we were glad because it was so much closer to our jobs and everything in town, and also so much cheaper! This particular “campground” was kind of strange, and at first I was very skeptical. It wasn’t actually a campground, it was a person’s property where he had turned his backyard into RV sites with full camper hookups. It was an average sized lot in a residential subdivision, with ~15 camper hookups (almost all OCCUPIED) in his backyard! It was the strangest thing, but we really didn’t mind it at all. There were no frills, no fancy amenities, just the Water/Sewer/Electric hookups and a picnic table. We did have to go off site to the laundromat, but it was less than a mile away. Luckily we didn’t end up ever needing a bathhouse while we were there either. So it worked out just fine!

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Our humble camp site in Art’s backyard!

Hurricane Matthew

Okay well it wouldn’t be any fun for me to give an update where something didn’t go wrong (ha!). So the first week we had a “normal thunderstorm” that caused several inches of rain and some minor flooding. Then about a week later, as many of you might recall for this time period, Hurricane Matthew hit. This was a scary time for Fayetteville and the surrounding region, and for us too, especially being in a camper! We were all watching and waiting to see how bad it would be. Jared and I considered having to leave the camper and go stay with someone in their house, and we also considered trying to haul the camper out of there and go somewhere else safer so it wouldn’t flood or get blown away. We didn’t really know what to do. So we stayed. And luckily it worked out for us, but it easily could’ve gone much worse. The damage and troubles caused by this storm were immense. The normal things like downed trees causing power outages didn’t surprise me. But some crazy stuff happened too that I just had no experience with. So many roads in the region got washed out. What? They just collapsed. People were stranded with no way to pass for days to weeks in some of the outlying areas. I saw terrible photos, and heard horror stories where just earlier that day people were driving over those areas on the road before the collapse. On top of that, at one point running water was cut off. They were concerned it may have become contaminated, so when it finally did come back on we were on a boil water advisory. We honestly didn’t have any supplies and would’ve been in rough shape if we couldn’t get out to go get supplies. We went out during the storm and Jared scoured stores to find what bottled water was available. We were only without water and electricity for a short time, while others were without it for days. And we’re actually kind of lucky in the camper when it comes to the lack of electricity, because many of our appliances can run on propane. Many people’s homes became flooded, and the entire nearby town of Lumberton was under water. The flooding even extended days to weeks beyond the actual storm because of rivers rising and dams breaking. People came from all over to help those affected, with lifeboats and helicopters to rescue many who were stranded or whose lives were at risk in floodwaters. Looking back, we were so lucky we had just minimal flooding where we were, and thank goodness our camper didn’t float or blow away! I remember one of my co-workers actually came to check on us because nobody really had our contact info, but she knew which campground we were staying at and wanted to make sure we were okay!


To give some context, here’s an excerpt from a local news story on Hurricane Matthew:

“The storm dumped three to four months’ worth of rain in about 12 hours, killing 26 people in North Carolina and turning communities into islands. People were stranded, their lives at risk, as the floodwaters rose … Matthew’s arrival as a rainmaker couldn’t have been any worse. Heavy rainfall about a week earlier had left the soil saturated and lakes bloated in several counties … Fayetteville officially picked up 14.8 inches, shattering the all-time one-day total … At least nine people died on the roads of the Cape Fear region during or just after Matthew.” (The Fayetteville Observer)


 

Our jobs

So during this time we did actually go to work (except for one day Jared’s clinic was closed), because we were some of the lucky ones who could actually get out and on the roads very easily. Many of our co-workers were unable to get out, so we were covering for them. But many patients cancelled too because of the storm. Overall, our first several weeks there were just very strange with scheduling, and I remember our co-workers saying that cancellations/no shows were unusually high during our time there.

Overall we both had a great experience at our jobs in Fayetteville. But not everyone involved did.  The company was going through some changes, as a larger company had just acquired both facilities. One of the facilities had lost a bunch of staff due to the changes, and the other was just seeing a huge increase in caseload. Therefore they asked for five travelers between the two clinics: two at Jared’s site and three at mine (plus two that were already there who Jared and I were replacing, who finished up a couple weeks into our contract). Unfortunately, with all the cancellations we had, caseload just wasn’t as busy as they had thought, and they decided they didn’t need all the travelers after a few weeks. So they ended two of the travelers’ contracts early, a new grad PT couple that was placed with me at my clinic. It was definitely a crappy situation for them, because not only was it their first assignment, and they were going to be out of jobs, but they had rented an expensive furnished apartment and signed a 3 month lease that they had to still pay. Jared and I were thankful that they didn’t cut our contracts, and I have a feeling it was because we had more experience than the other two (and also we had started a week earlier). It was weird to think of ourselves at that time as the experienced ones, because we had only been out of school for less than a year and a half!

The two clinics where we worked were very different. Jared’s was more general orthopedics and elderly population. Mine was more sports medicine based with a younger crowd. To date, it’s the most fast paced clinic where I’ve worked. It was fun but at times stressful, and I didn’t even have as busy a caseload as the full time employees. I got to brush up on a lot of my sports medicine background from athletic training, which was awesome.

Our co-workers were pretty good as well. We hung out with them on several occasions outside of work (including line dancing which I love! and it seemed there were a lot of going away parties during our time there: the two travelers who were leaving when we started, the two travelers whose contracts got cut, a full time employee who was moving with her husband for the military to Germany, and then of course our going away when that came!). We were also there through several holidays, so we got to enjoy things like dressing up on Halloween, Secret Santa gift exchange, and a Staff Holiday Party.

Weekend trips

There wasn’t a ton to do in Fayetteville, but the neat thing about the location is that it’s easily accessible to highways to get you a lot of places fast (including back home!). We took a bunch of weekend trips including:

  • Home to Roanoke, VA for a wedding in which Jared was a groomsman
  • I went to Wrightsville Beach/Wilmington, NC with my mom & sister for my mom’s birthday
  • Asheville, NC (where we attempted to hike Mount Mitchell but couldn’t because it was freezing!) but where we got to drive on new stretches of the Blue Ridge Parkway and see the Biltmore Mansion
  • I went to New Bern, NC for a girls weekend with my PT school best friends
  • Kernersville, NC to do Thanksgiving with my sister’s in-laws (thankful to have a home away from home Thanksgiving with some of my family)
  • The North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro, NC
  • Touring around Chapel Hill and Raleigh, NC
  • Home for Christmas to see family and friends
  • And last- Savannah, GA for New Years Eve!

All in all we enjoyed our assignment in Fayetteville, and we were hoping to be able to extend our contracts there longer. Unfortunately they were not able to extend, so we ended up finding other jobs in a different area of NC – this time near the beach! Stay tuned for my next post about our experience in Eastern North Carolina.

Progress to Financial Independence- July 2017

As you can see, I’m very late on posting this monthly update. A lot happened in July, especially at the end of the month, which derailed me a little.

Where to start, where to start? Well, on the last day of the month, Whitney fell while coming out of the bathroom of a restaurant and fractured her radial head on her right arm. Luckily the fracture was stable and non-displaced so she didn’t require surgery or a cast, but has been wearing a sling for the past two weeks. The day she fell was actually the first day of the last week of our travel contract in VA, so she wasn’t able to work the rest of the week. She’s doing pretty well now and regaining her range of motion, although the fracture is no where near healed. She is only having slight pain now and has already started rehabbing it herself.

The last day of our contracts in VA was 8/4/2017, and we started our new jobs on the following Monday in western North Carolina. We really wanted to go to Illinois for the remainder of the summer, but these awesome outpatient jobs in NC fell in our laps and we couldn’t pass them up. We also weren’t having much luck finding two jobs in Illinois with a campground nearby because most of the jobs were in or close to Chicago. Our new jobs are hospital based outpatient, which is always our first choice when looking for new assignments. In addition, these jobs are by far the highest paying jobs we’ve had to date, paying a whopping $200/week more after taxes compared to our last contract in VA which was also a high paying contract. I finished out the VA contract strong with one last near 60 hour week and finished the 17 weeks there with a total of 162.5 hours of overtime!

Obviously Whitney’s fracture has caused problems with starting a new job. She attended orientation and was hoping to take one week off and then start working since outpatient jobs are not as physically demanding as other settings, but that didn’t work out. Since this is a hospital system, they have rules that don’t allow “light duty” work, so she was told she wouldn’t be able to work until she could lift at least 25 pounds with her broken arm… She was very upset about this and thought she might not be able to work for this entire contract, which is scheduled to be 9 weeks. But today she found out that she may be able to return to work in a week and a half, meaning she would only miss four weeks of work which would be fantastic. She has been enjoying the time off though and getting plenty of rest.

Our new campground is pretty nice. It’s the cheapest we’ve paid so far at only $400/month with all utilities included and is only a 15 minute drive to work. The Great Smoky Mountains are beautiful, and we are excited for Whitney’s arm to heal so we can do some hiking and river activities before it gets cold here.

For the blog, July was a huge month. We received over 13,000 total page views for the month, which is likely due to me going on a posting spree. I posted eight articles in July and Whitney posted one as well. I spent a lot of time on a few of those posts, and I believe that they were some of my best to date. So I was excited to see they got a lot of attention. Due to having such a big month (for us at least) I decided to go ahead and buy the “FifthWheelPT” domain name so that you guys no longer have to include “.wordpress” when visiting the site. So welcome to the new Fifthwheelpt.com!

Financially, I made a lot of progress in July due to all of the overtime work. Since our plans changed quickly on our new assignments, we weren’t able to have the work done on the camper, so that is going to be pushed back a few months which means less money paid out in July. The truck repairs that I mentioned last month ended up being relatively minor. It just needed a new starter which was a few hundred dollars instead of the $1,000+ we were anticipating.

I am now well over halfway to financial independence after working only 25 months so far. My projections now have me reaching FI in less than 2 years, which still seems unbelievable to me. With this cheap campground we are staying at currently, I’m actually close to being able to support my living expenses with my investment returns already, but, of course, cheap campground rent won’t last forever so I will continue to save.

I’m excited for August with these higher paying jobs. It should be no problem to meet my savings goal for the month, and I should also be receiving a bonus for all of the overtime I worked during our last contracts, which will lead to a significant boost. Considering it’s the middle of August already as I write this, I don’t have much time until the next update, but I’m sure I’ll have some other crazy things to talk about next time.