Summer is coming to an end and the days are getting shorter. Although the weather this time of year is great (chilly nights/mornings and warm afternoons), I always get a little depressed when it starts getting dark before 8 PM again. We are still on our contract in western NC, and this area is amazing. We have done a decent amount of hiking, some kayaking, as well as a little playing in waterfalls. Western NC is now at the top of my list of places to live after we finish traveling, which is impressive considering how much I enjoyed living at the beach in eastern NC this past winter. This is not only our favorite place that we’ve lived so far, but these are also the best jobs we’ve had to this point. The positives include: outpatient facility, 1:1 patient care with 45 minute to 1 hour blocks for each patient, friendly coworkers and nice patients, rural area with very little traffic, highest paying jobs, cheap campgrounds nearby ($400/month with all utilities included), and a plethora of outdoor activities. As for negatives… there honestly aren’t any as far as I’m concerned. Whitney has mentioned a negative is that there are no malls nearby or any type of “big city” activities, like a big downtown or bars/clubs. But those things don’t bother me at all. I feel comfortable in saying that we will extend these contracts as long as possible, which will likely be when they eventually hire full time PTs to take our place. Unfortunately these contracts are the shortest we’ve ever agreed to at only 9 weeks due to the management of the hospital system not being willing to offer any longer contracts initially because of the cost. As of me writing this, we are over halfway through our 9 weeks and our contracts are set to end on 10/6. Fortunately for us, they haven’t found any full time therapists to take our places yet, so we are doing our best to extend the contracts for as long as they will let us, and the chances are good based on what the manager has said.
As far as weekend trips since my last update, we went to Greenville, South Carolina where we explored the city as well as “hiked” to the highest point in South Carolina (Sassafras Mountain). We went kayaking on the Nantahala River. We visited the highest point in Tennessee (Clingmans Dome). We also just got back from a weekend trip to Nashville, Tennessee where we stayed for free with hotel points and got to walk around and experience the city. Nashville is our favorite big city that we’ve visited so far, and if you’ve never been, I’d recommend it for the music and atmosphere. Also since starting these jobs, we’ve taken advantage of not having to work late by walking around the town and hiking some nearby trails after work in the evenings. On one such trail we came within 15-20 feet of a large elk, which I later learned are known to charge people that get too close to them. Definitely not the smartest move on our part, but we assumed that elk were just like big deer and would move as we got closer. But instead he stood his ground and stared us down. Check my Instagram account on the right side of the page for pictures of the elk and me standing near it.
Along with going on walks and hikes after work, Whitney and I have decided to get back in shape over the next several months. My focus on personal finance and investing over the past few years has caused us to neglect diet and exercise which has been unfortunate. We signed up for new gym memberships near work and also bet on ourselves using HealthyWage to help with the weight loss. The bet has been a great motivator for me so far, and after two weeks I’m down a few pounds and quickly regaining my strength in the gym.
Another goal I decided to embark on this month, which kinda goes along with fitness, is to reach the high points in all of the lower 48 states by the time I turn 32. Along with South Carolina and Tennessee, that I mentioned above, Whitney and I have also made it to the high points in Virginia and Vermont since we started traveling. That puts me at 4/48 so far, so quite a ways to go but I’m already making plans to reach the high points in Alabama, Georgia, and North Carolina before the end of September. The reason I have given myself such a long time to achieve this goal is that we likely won’t be returning to the Northeast until after we finish traveling in a couple of years, so those states will have to wait for a while. It should be a fun challenge and a great way to see the rest of the country after we finish our travel PT careers.
Financially, I have continued to exceed my monthly savings goal. That combined with the stock market still hovering around all time highs has led to another decent jump in my net worth. I’m still on track to reach financial independence in June 2019, but slowly creeping up on May now. Something interesting that I calculated a few days ago is that I am already over 20x my current expenses, which puts me at “Flex FI” if I continued to only spend what I’m spending now (adjusted for inflation) for the rest of my life. As I mentioned previously, I am including a significant buffer into my current expenses when calculating my financial independence date to account for kids in the future, which will likely cause a decent increase in expenses. It’s still pretty cool to know that if I was able to continue with my current expenses and willing to cut back in a bear market, I could stop working now and be fine. After living in the fifth wheel for almost two years now, I’m completely convinced that Whitney and I could live this lifestyle indefinitely, although kids would change things.
September should be a good month financially as well due to there being five Fridays in the month meaning an extra pay day! I’ve also got three bank account bonuses in the works that should pay out in the next month or two. A side benefit of the bets we made on healthy wage is that the bet is broken down into monthly payments which can be paid with a credit card. This means easy spending for meeting credit card bonuses, so Whitney and I have both signed up for new cards to take advantage of this perk.
Each month from now on, I plan to update both on my path to FI as well as my weight loss progress. Additional accountability is always a good thing.