**This post was written on 3/2/2020 and I’m just getting around to posting it on 3/24/20. Reading back over this now, three weeks seems like a lifetime ago. It’s amazing how quickly things can change in such a short period of time, and unfortunately, this time it’s for the worst for all of us. Reading through this now, some of it is almost laughable at how much things have changed in less than a month. More updates to come soon in my March recap!
February is a short month but it was still pretty action packed for us! Whitney finished her travel assignment in eastern North Carolina at the beginning of the month. This was one of her favorite assignments yet, so she was sad to leave but excited for the future, including our upcoming 5 month trip to Latin America. When we first moved to Goldsboro, we were a little skeptical but we really enjoyed our time there overall.
After we left NC, we spent 8 days in Colorado for the APTA Combined Sections Meeting (the biggest physical therapy conference of the year). We met well over a hundred followers of this site and Travel Therapy Mentor which really blew us away! We also hosted a travel therapy meetup there which had an awesome turnout of over 120 current and future travel PTs. The conference lasted about 5 days and was in Denver, but we stayed a few extra days to explore the city as well as take an overnight trip to a ski resort in the mountains. The Colorado mountains really lived up to the hype, and we can’t wait to go back!
We spent the last two weeks of February at home visiting family, working on the websites, and trip planning. This trip has been much harder to plan than the prior two long international trips we took in 2018 and 2019, primarily due to difficulty with flights. The flights are expensive and moving the flight up or back a day can sometimes make a big difference. We’ve made a lot of progress on it now though and have about three out of the five months fully booked with accommodations and transportation as well as some activities and tours.
Our buyer for the fifth wheel and truck fell through due to family issues and some other problems on their end. We waited an entire month to try to make it work, but he eventually decided to forfeit his deposit. So as of now, the truck and camper are back on the market, but we’ve had lots of interest in them. We had about a dozen people interested in buying them between the time we got the deposit and when it went back up for sale, so we’ve got lots of people scheduled to come look at them. We’re optimistic we’ll be able to sell one or both of them before we leave the country on March 11th!
Income in February was lower than last month from the websites (FifthWheelPT and Travel Therapy Mentor), which was expected. It was a shorter month and slower overall, especially with us being out of town for a decent portion of the month.
I’m not keeping track of every expense anymore (although I did learn a lot from doing that last year) but I’m certain that February was one of my most expensive months in the past 4+ years. We ate out basically every meal in Denver, did a lot of driving (several thousand miles in total), and spared no expense when hanging out at home for a couple of weeks on food and entertainment. I also bought some new clothes and supplies for the upcoming trip. In the past, this would have really bothered me, but I am focusing much more on not letting costs dictate my life these days.
Based on my income and estimated expenses for January, I achieved a savings rate of about 45%! 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 I’ll take it ;).
February started off great for my investments, but took a sharp nosedive at the end of the month. The last week of February saw the biggest drop in the S&P 500 since the housing crisis in 2008/2009. A domestic equity market drop of about 12% over a 7 day period at the end of the month was definitely nerve-racking for me. According to my investment tracking on Personal Capital (a great free resource for tracking your net worth and investments) my portfolio was down about 3.9% on the month. This could have been much worse, but I happened to get pretty lucky with some market timing (gasp!). As the lockdown in Wuhan, China intensified and the coronavirus began to spread to other countries, I decided that the risk of having a high percentage of equities in my portfolio, especially with the already elevated valuations on the market as a whole, wasn’t worth the potential return. I already had a significant portion of my total net worth in high-yield savings accounts (about 23%) but I moved my 401k (about 27%) to cash as well. That left me with less than 40% of my total portfolio exposed to equities, just in case things took a turn for the worst with supply chain disruption. This lucky timing saved me many thousands of dollars in February! While a 3.9% drop wasn’t easy to stomach, the S&P 500 return in January was -10% which would have been closer to what I would have experienced.
Financial Independence Progress
In total, my net worth decreased by about 2.2% in January. Not great, but again, it could have been a lot worse! That leaves my yearly expenses remaining at 3.4% of my current total net assets. My total net worth only dropped to a little below where it was at the end of December. Hopefully we’ll see a market rebound in March, but with rising fears about the Coronavirus that has now spread to the United States, I could definitely see there being further drops in the near future.
In March, we leave for Mexico followed by spending the latter half of the month in South America! First, we have quite a bit to finalize at home which will hopefully include selling our fifth wheel and truck but we’ll see…
Until next month! Thanks for reading!
*Haha- wow- really, reading this now and posting it on 3/24/19 is just laughable. Almost nothing in this post is accurate anymore. But it’s really interesting to read what was going on at the time. Stay tuned for the March update to hear how things have changed since February!