Financial Independence Update- December 2022

We finished up our trip around the world in December. The majority of the month was spent in American Samoa (where we visited our 60th national park) and New Zealand before making it back home just in time for Christmas. In New Zealand, we rented a car and drove all around the country for about 2.5 weeks. This was the first time we’ve ever done a road trip in another country (aside from driving through Canada), and we picked an amazing place to do it. New Zealand, especially the south island, is absolutely amazing. New Zealand is our new favorite country in the world out of the 42 that we’ve visited so far. The diversity of landscape is unmatched, costs are reasonable compared to US cities, the weather is moderate most of the year, and the people are extremely nice. If you’re ever able to do a road trip around New Zealand, I’d highly recommend it.

After being very busy on the road trip for a couple of weeks, we were ready to be back home and in one place for a while. It’s always exciting to leave on a new long international trip, but it’s almost just as exciting for us these days to be heading back home and settling into a routine for a while. After a couple months of traveling and eating out almost every meal, I start to crave being back home cooking familiar and healthy meals again.

Being back at home for the end of the year was a perfect time for Whitney and I to sit down and reflect on the year. Overall it was an incredible year for us. We visited 11 new countries while spending over 5 months out of the country; we got to spend the summer in Alaska which was our 50th state; we made it to lots of new US national parks and now only have 3 left; we met up with dozens of followers and fellow travelers all over the country and world; we got engaged in one of the most beautiful places we’ve ever been to; and we had our best year yet for every metric in our business. We have a lot to be thankful for and always do our best to keep our blessings in perspective.

Income

Income from our websites (FifthWheelPT and Travel Therapy Mentor) for December set a new monthly record. It was 20% higher than our previous high in July, 30% higher than December of last year, and 95% higher than last month. We followed up on a lot of past due payments that needed to be paid out before the end of the year, and we had some affiliate payouts for the end of the year as well which helped. I’m continually baffled by the growth of the business and can’t help but wonder how much longer it can possibly last. I’d imagine that this December record won’t be broken for a long time, but then again I thought that about last December, and it was surpassed twice this year.

When all was said and done for 2022, we more than doubled both our revenue and profit for the business from 2021, while keeping our expenses very low.

Expenses

It was a good thing that December was my highest earning month of all time, because it was also my most expensive month of all time. Our flights to and from American Samoa were expensive, and we weren’t able to find a good redemption to use airline miles for our flight from New Zealand back to the US, so that was paid for with cash as well. The car rental in New Zealand cost more than we thought it would, and gas there is much more expensive than in the US. We were also booking most of our accommodations last minute which cost extra, and eating out almost every meal while exploring added up as well. All of that combined meant an extremely expensive month. All in all though, my savings rate for the month was about 75%.

Investments

The S&P 500 was down 5.9% in December, wiping out all of the gains from November. The S&P finished the year down almost 20% and is still currently in bear market territory. Bitcoin was down 3.65% in December with a loss to cap off a terrible year. Bitcoin remains down over 70% from the highs at the end of 2021. The Fed continues to remain very hawkish while inflation cools. The unemployment rate continues to stay at very low rates although there are many signs that the economy is slowing down each month. It’s very difficult to time the market, but I continue to think that the bottom in equity markets is still to come and still have a lot of cash on the sidelines in line with that view.

Financial Independence Progress

My net assets increased by 3.0% in December thanks to the very high earning month. Interestingly, my net assets for the year also increased by 3% as well. With equities down almost 20% and Bitcoin down over 70%, I’m very happy to have an increase at all for the year. This increase puts my net assets at 56 times my average annual expenses.

Next Month

In January, we’ll spend the entire month at home getting back into a normal routine, working on our health and fitness, and putting some extra time and effort into the websites. We hope to get a lot of work done in January, including new articles and videos in addition to the normal day to day things. Stay tuned for more content on the horizon!

How was December for you financially? Let me know in the comments!

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