Whitney and I stayed busy throughout December. Between working on our websites and social media accounts; a partially spur of the moment eight day trip to Puerto Rico; Christmas; and planning, packing, and leaving right after Christmas for a road trip to south Florida, we had very little down time. But despite being busy, our trips were fun; we got the spend the holidays with family; and our business is growing which is pretty much never a bad thing, so I can’t complain.
Along the lines of business growth, 2021 was an absolutely crazy year. We hit big all time highs on pretty much every possible metric, from page and video views, to revenue, to social media followers, to new business collaborations, to email list subscribers, and almost everything in between. In fact, in 2021 we received over 2,000 emails from therapists asking questions about travel therapy, help finding good travel companies and recruiters, personal finance, or all of the above. On top of that, we got thousands of messages on our various social media platforms with similar questions. Keeping up with messages and email responses is taking more and more of our time, and we spend significantly more time on that than actual content creation these days. Right now we pride ourselves on providing a thorough answer to all questions that come in, but if the growth continues we’ll have to hire an additional employee or two at some point. For now, we’re still barely able to keep up while still doing all the traveling and activities we want to do. We certainly wouldn’t have time for full time jobs outside of our online business anymore though.
Even though sometimes I feel stressed and like I’m not actually “retired” at all, keeping busy helping people with questions to improve their lives, and working on whatever projects we want for the websites on our own time, is exponentially better in my eyes than having to go to “work” clinically full time. After running into some initial, post-FIRE struggles following leaving full time clinical work, I’ve found that, paradoxically, spending a lot more time on the websites has improved my happiness. Getting things accomplished and seeing the fruits of my labor seems to be integral to my long term mental health, and it’s likely that way for most people. I understand now more than ever that a fulfilling life of pure leisure is a fantasy. I’ve had writing in depth about this on my list for a while now, but we’ll see if the inspiration ever strikes to actually do it :D.
Income from our websites (FifthWheelPT and Travel Therapy Mentor) was about 25% higher in December than in October 2021, which was our previous all time high. We followed up about all outstanding payments owed to us for the year which helped. Total revenue for 2021 ended up nearly tripling revenue for 2020, which is still hard for me to believe considering 2020 was already multiples higher than I ever thought the websites would make. All of the time and effort we put into consistent and solid content throughout 2020 and 2021 has really paid off. Our financially successful travel therapist course did really well in 2021, and we’ve had nothing but good feedback about it so far which has meant a lot to us since it took so much time and effort to create. We also started doing some sponsored social media posts and ads in 2021 which led to more income than I imagined. As far as income from the websites go, it’s hard for me to imagine things going any better, but based on my projections for 2022, it could increase a lot more.
Expenses in December were higher than most other months during the year due to Christmas and the Puerto Rico trip. We’ve been much more lenient on spending these days with the websites doing so well. Even with more spending than in the past though, there were only a few months in 2021 where my savings rate was below 80%, and December actually wasn’t one of them which is baffling to me. I go everywhere and do everything I want to do, don’t work clinically nearly ever anymore, and still my savings rate is about where it was when I was working all of the time and living very frugally.
The S&P 500 was up about 4.5% in December. Meanwhile Bitcoin was down almost 18.8% with some of the smaller coins I own down even more on the month. A lot of people, myself included, had high hopes for crypto in Q4, but unfortunately those hopes didn’t pan out. It’s been tough watching the drop in prices over the past couple of months, but it does make me feel a little better that I took a decent amount of profit near the highs. I still have an unreasonable amount invested in crypto, but taking profits has reduced my cost basis on the remaining amount significantly, so I’m more comfortable with the big down months.
Financial Independence Progress
My net assets decreased by just over 5% in December despite huge gains in business revenue, due to drops in my investments. 5% doesn’t seem like that much to me, but it equals over three years worth of expenses, and put in those terms it hurts a little more. After the drop my net assets are now equal to 54.4 times my annual expenses.
For the first couple weeks of January we’ll be on a roadtrip to Florida visiting some friends, family, followers, and also hitting some of the national parks we haven’t been to yet. When we get back we’ll be spending a lot of time trying to get ahead on website content before we leave on a much longer trip coming in February!
How was Decemeber for you financially? Let me know in the comments!