Progress to Financial Independence- September 2017

I’m very late in posting my update this month with no real good excuse, but I’ll throw some out anyway:

I’ve been spending 5 days per week in the gym for the last two months trying to get back in shape. On average I’m spending about 2 hours there in the evenings after work between heavy lifting and walking. The lifting is to regain my strength and muscle mass lost over the last two years of being relatively inactive, and the walking is to make sure that I hit my step challenge goal on HealthyWage. The challenges have been a great motivation for me to stick with dieting and lifting to this point, and I feel like I’ve made significant progress in the past 8 weeks or so. I’m down about 8 lbs to this point, but I have significantly increased my strength and muscle size which hopefully means more than 8 lbs of fat loss. I’m actually approaching some of my old gym personal records on bench (335 lbs) and deadlift (500 lbs) from 4-5 years ago, which is pretty cool for such a short period of time being back into the swing of things.

Another excuse I can give is that our weekends have been packed with adventure. Most of which has been hiking, but also some exploring new cities. In September we went rafting down the Nantahala river which was a lot of fun and will likely lead me to begin kayaking in the future. We visited Nashville, TN for a weekend which was an awesome city and by far my favorite big city that we’ve seen to this point. We spent the night and walked around Atlanta, GA for a day. Then we also spent the night and walked around Birmingham, AL in the same weekend. While in Alabama and Georgia we hiked to the highest points of each state, Cheaha Mountain and Brasstown Bald respectively. While hiking to the top of Cheaha Mountain, we underestimated how long the hike would take us and got lost in the woods in the dark off the trail. Whitney probably would have called for search and rescue but fortunately (or unfortunately?) we didn’t have cell phone reception. But we were able to find our way back safely eventually. That was a pretty scary experience because we were completely unprepared with no food or water left and only one very small flashlight. We learned our lesson though and will always be much more prepared while hiking in the future. On the last weekend of September we hiked to the highest point in North Carolina, which also happens to be the highest point east of the Mississippi river, Mount Mitchell. That brings our total of state high points to 7/50 including: VA, TN, NC, SC, GA, AL, and VT.

So back to the update:  Our contracts in western NC were extended another 8 weeks which is exactly what we wanted and worked out perfectly for us. Our new end date is December 1st, after which we plan to spend the majority of the month of December at home to satisfy requirements that allow us to be eligible for tax free stipends while traveling and also to spend the holidays with family. Taking an entire month off of work is something I would have never done a year ago, but considering the strides I’ve made in my finances over the past 28 months since starting to work full time, with only two full weeks off in that time period, I think it will be a good thing for me. I’ve been able to justify the time off in my mind due to a few different things that have helped me a lot financially this year. Those include: working four full weeks worth (162 hours) of overtime so far this year, making a decent amount of money with bank account bonuses in the past six months, and also making some money in referral bonuses (travel company, credit card, and Healthywage) which has largely been due to this blog. I truly appreciate everyone who has reached out to me and mentioned my name when signing up for these things.

Financially, I am still on track to reach financial independence in June of 2019, but I am slowly inching toward May. This will obviously be pushed back a month or so when I take time off in December, so June will likely continue to be the projection for the foreseeable future. It has been extremely easy to surpass my savings goals each month lately due to the high pay and low cost of living at these jobs. The continued bull market with frequent all time highs is partially to thank as well for the progress, although I still have over half of my net worth outside of the stock market in either personal loans or cash. So far I’ve been wrong with my predictions of a market downturn, but I still believe that the potential upside is not worth the potential downside. Whether or not this turns out to be a good decision, no one knows, but I’m happy with where I am in my asset allocation currently.

Whitney and I will probably have to make some fifth wheel repairs soon which look like they could be very costly. We haven’t fully decided what to do yet, but we are considering selling our fifth wheel and truck and looking into downsizing to a used Class C motorhome, but that would all depend on how difficult it would be to sell what we have and what Class C’s would be available in our price range. We aren’t sure how long we will continue to travel, but another two years or so is the current plan. We are excited to explore the west coast next year, and our plans could always change which is part of the excitement of traveling.

I plan to slowly catch up on these updates by moving forward a few days each month until I get back to doing the updates at the end of each month. I hope you guys are having a great year so far, and feel free to contact me with questions or comments about anything!

2 thoughts on “Progress to Financial Independence- September 2017

    • There isn’t a set number of days but it seems to be generally recommended by tax professionals that have dealt with traveler audits in the past to spend at least 30 days per year at your tax home. I make sure to spend around that many each year between holidays, weekends at home, and weeks off between contracts.

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