December was a fairly laid back month despite the holidays. Whitney had a couple extra days off from her Travel PT assignment due to the clinic being closed for Christmas and closing early on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve. I spent a lot of time in December in the gym and was rewarded with really big improvements in my strength. I set new all-time personal records in almost all major compound lifts. These improvements in strength have really surprised me, and I can only attribute the gains to less stress and more sleep than ever before in my adult life. Those two things have been the biggest perk of financial independence and taking time off of work for me. It’s been wonderful to spend so much time and effort focusing on my health without other areas of my life suffering. On average, I’ve spent about 12 hours per week between lifting in the gym and occasional hikes on days when the weather is nice. Going into the new decade, I made sure to reflect on my life now and what I want the future to look like. Part of what I realized is that I really need to focus most of my energy on my health for the foreseeable future and improve both my physical and mental health. I’ve already begun making strides in these areas, and it’s showing in my outlook on life and happiness.
We’ve been very lucky with the weather so far this year with minimal nights below freezing, which has made living in the fifth wheel again comfortable for us. We’re enjoying the extremely low cost of our “campsite” in Goldsboro, which is actually just a spot in someone’s back yard with full hookups. Rent plus utilities have only averaged about $300/month ($150 each), and we couldn’t really hope for any better than that.
I spent a significant amount of time in December working on planning our next big trip, which we’ve determined will start in March and end in August for a total of a little over 5 months in Central and South America. I plan to write an article with the full itinerary in the next few weeks, so stay tuned. We’ve talked a lot about this trip and the planning process on our Travel Therapy Mentor Facebook and Instagram page (and I’ve recently been posting some of my lifting pictures and videos) so if you’re interested in that, check them out!
Income last month was about on par with November from the websites (FifthWheelPT and Travel Therapy Mentor), which is about what I expected. Diversifying income some by developing new ways to make money on the websites would be a smart thing to do, but so far I haven’t had the motivation to work on new projects and do the research necessary to make them successful. I think the main reason for this is that I’m very happy with my financial situation right now and have been consistently bringing in plenty of income to more than cover my moderate lifestyle without making any changes or working on new things. I’ve been spending an average of about 8-10 hours per week working on the sites, which includes weekly live videos, writing articles, and answering messages and emails.
December rounded out my experiment of tracking all of my expenses for the entire year. I’ll be publishing an article soon talking about the results of this and what I learned from the process. I decided I won’t be doing that again this year, because even though I enjoyed looking at the numbers, it didn’t change my spending patterns a significant degree from prior years and led to some stress trying to keep track of everything.
My December expenses were higher than any other month of the year due to buying some relatively expensive Christmas gifts and having some big bills due. Some of those expenditures included personal property tax on the fifth wheel, insurance on the fifth wheel, and renewing my North Carolina PT license to potentially work in North Carolina next year. Even with the Christmas gifts and higher bills, my spending was still in line with my expectations.
Based on my income and expenses for December, I achieved a savings rate of about 40%. That may not being as high as my savings rate when I was working as a travel physical therapist full time (85%+ per month) but it’s not bad at all considering I’m only “working” 8-10 hours per week or so currently.
According to my investment tracking on Personal Capital (a great free resource for tracking your net worth and investments) my portfolio was up about 3.7% on the month. This was another insane month for my investments. Part of the big jump this month was how well international and emerging market equities did in December. Who knows how long these big gains will continue, but I’m going to keep enjoying them while they do!
Financial Independence Progress
In total, my net worth increased by about 4.1% in December. A big surprise for me was that in total this year my net worth increased by 38.6% — that’s huge! With this big increase in net worth, my future estimated expenses are now only 3.4% of my total net assets. I’m very happy with this steady improvement and with the additional future financial security that it indicates.
In January I’ll undoubtedly have lower expenses than in December, and my income from the websites should remain about the same. We have a few weekend trips planned as well as a travel therapist meet-up in Raleigh at the end of the month (check the Facebook page for more details). I plan to continue to keep myself busy in January with trip planning, lifting weights, and working on the sites.
Until next month! Thanks for reading!