Financial Independence Update- December 2020

2020 is finally over, and I couldn’t be more excited. Even though the end of a year is only an arbitrary measure, it’s still nice to look forward to an end to a difficult period of time and hopefully the beginning of a return to normalcy.

Now that we’ve been back at home for several months now, we’re really ready to get back to traveling in 2021 and are in the process of planning a new trip for the new year! Right now we’re planning to head to Mexico for a couple of months at the end of January, barring any negative changes with the pandemic. With fewer tourists there, the beach towns in Mexico should be a great place to spend the winter and get away for a while. We’re going to keep the itinerary flexible and not lock ourselves into any set plans this time in case we end up having to change things or cut the trip short. (In prior international trips, we had everything planned and booked in advance, which worked out well up until the pandemic when we had to deal with the headache of massive cancellations and worrying about refunds for our planned 5-month South and Central America trip!)

In December, I worked 1-2 days per week PRN at the local outpatient physical therapy clinic where Whitney and I have been working since October, while continuing to spend a lot of time in the gym. The weather was pretty cold in December, so my hiking really fell off, but strength training has been going very well and I’m at or past all of my old personal records which feels great. I also spent some time writing in December and planning for the future of the websites. Travel Therapy Mentor has grown rapidly over the past year which has been wonderful to watch, but some weeks are very time consuming with answering emails and messages. We’re trying to come up with ways to reduce our total workload while continuing to grow our following and revenue. That will likely mean outsourcing some of the tasks that don’t need our direct input, which would free up some time.

Income

Income from the websites (FifthWheelPT and Travel Therapy Mentor) for December was higher than anticipated. We got some payouts that we weren’t expecting to receive until January which was nice. In addition, the couple of days per week of PRN physical therapy work more than covers my expenses, so all of the website income is just icing on the cake right now.

Expenses

December expenses were similar to November. I did most of my Christmas shopping earlier in the year so only had minimal additional expenses related to the holidays. I’ve continued to try to be more lenient on spending since I can definitely afford to increase, but this is a work in progress for me. It’s hard to go from saving as much as possible for years to now being in a position that I can afford to spend and give more. It has gotten better though, and I anticipate that it will continue to get better as the years go on.

Investments

The S&P 500 was up about 4.3% in December for a total return of over 16.5% on the year! That’s pretty crazy considering we had a recession and ongoing pandemic in 2020. The real story for December though was Bitcoin. If you missed my article on why I changed my opinion on it in 2020 and decided to start investing in it, check that out here. I gradually dollar cost averaged into my position for most of 2020 and that really paid off in December with some massive gains. Bitcoin was up over 50% in December which really boosted my portfolio performance.

My investment portfolio return was about 9.6% in December, mostly from my Bitcoin exposure.

Financial Independence Progress

My net worth increased by about 10.3% in December, which is the biggest one month increase that I’ve ever had! This puts me at a big new all time high net worth and my projected future yearly expenses at only 2.8% of my total net worth. This has exceeded any expectations that I had for the year, and I’m really thankful to have some silver lining in and otherwise terrible year.

Next Month

January should be our last month at home before heading out on our next trip. We leave our PRN jobs in the middle of the month so that we can get some website projects done before we begin traveling. My main focus for the month is going to continue to be health and nutrition. I’m hoping to continue to set PRs in the gym while cleaning up my diet a little to get in better shape before heading out of town.

As always, stay safe and healthy! — And let me know in the comments how December was for you along your financial journey!

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