Financial Independence: The Power of Having Options!

A Look Back at My Financial Journey

It’s hard to believe that I have been doing monthly financial updates for over two years now. Things have changed so much in that time. Two years ago when I started tracking my progress to financial independence, I thought I had things pretty much figured out. Now, looking back, I was on the right track but had a lot of learning to do still. Since then, I’ve learned a lot and changed my plan quite a bit. I hope that in another two years I’ll look back and reminisce on how little I know now! Let’s take a look back at where I was financially on my very first monthly update in April 2016 compared to now.

  • April 2016:
    • Projected FI date: September 2020
    • % projected future expenses are of current net worth: 24%
  • June 2018:
    • Projected FI date: March 2019
    • % projected future expenses are of current net worth: 5% (3.7% of current expenses)

What has caused my projected FI date to move up 1.5 years you ask? This is a combination of several factors. First, the market has performed better than the 7% return that I had projected in my calculations. Between the beginning of 2016 and the end of 2017, the S&P 500 actually returned over 16% per year on average. Second, this blog has begun bringing in some income through affiliates, referral bonuses, and a small amount from advertising. This is something that I didn’t anticipate two years ago. Third, I brought in more income than I expected due to working overtime and from bank account and credit card sign up bonuses. Fourth, I decreased my expectation for what my future expenses will be based on my relatively stable current expenses.

My Future Plans

In 2016, I planned to work as a full time travel therapist for a total of five years before reaching financial independence and then settling down somewhere. Now, I’ve decided to semi-retire this year (after 3 years of working as a full time travel PT). My new plan is to  work only 3-6 months per year (or possibly less) from this point on, while enjoying international and domestic travel for the remainder of each year. My idea of what life will look like after FI has completely changed in the past two years and will probably continue to evolve.

Whitney and I have discussed several options for what our future might look like. We’ve considered possibly taking turns working travel contracts in the future while the other tags along and doesn’t work. We’ve talked about having a baby in the future while continuing to travel and maybe even while still living in a camper. We’ve talked about settling down somewhere in the next few years and working only a couple of days per week or maybe not at all. We’ve also talked about starting our own physical therapy practice in our hometown.

That leads me to the most important thing that I’ve learned in the past two years.

Financial Independence = Options

The most valuable thing that approaching financial independence provides is options! By this point in my life I realize that my interests and desires change fairly frequently. Having the ability to change my mind about what I want to do currently or in the future without having to worry about my financial situation is liberating. One of the very first articles I wrote on this blog was about what financial independence means to me, and in that post I talk about how financial independence to me means freedom. That’s definitely true, and it hasn’t been until I’ve been closer to my own financial independence number that I realize how truly important that is for me and how much I value having options.

Having this blog to track my journey and to go back and read my past thoughts has been a wonderful thing for me. I appreciate all of you guys that read what I have to say and have made this blog a success in my eyes. I plan to continue to write, and probably more often, as I transition away from working full time and complete my journey to FI.

Where are you on your journey to financial independence? Let me know in the comments below!

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9 thoughts on “Financial Independence: The Power of Having Options!

    1. I’m very fortunate to be able to set my work schedule up however I want really. I’m sure other fields have similar options but healthcare has to be near the top in terms of flexibility with PRN work and travel opportunities. Thanks for stopping by!

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  1. Definitely agree with the part about having options! I look at friends with piles of debt and STILL living paycheck to paycheck 4 years out of school and I just can’t imagine living that way. Congrats Jared! Love reading your posts.

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  2. That’s a great rundown of your progress, and wow it sure has been fast! Options are definitely the most appealing aspect of FI to me too, and I like to see progress toward having those options as a sliding continuum to motivate myself along the journey when I’m not yet at the finish line.
    I am quarter FI as of this month, and I think my current plan is to get to 70-80% of full FI (18-20x desired living expenses) before switching to a part time schedule. Based on that milestone, I’m a third of the way there.

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    1. I think breaking down the journey is the best way to maintain sanity. I’ve had to remind myself several times over the past year that worst case scenario I have about 15-20x my future expected expenses already which affords me to do anything I want from this point on basically. Framing it that way makes me feel like I’m pretty much there already and that work is more optional than required at this point which puts me in a better state of mind. Congrats on being a quarter of the way there! Transitioning to part time work (semi-retirement depending on your definition) is a great stepping stone to decrease stress and improve quality of life instead of struggling straight through in my opinion.

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