3+ Years Into the F.I. Journey

budget, cut expenses, early retirement, ebook, financial independence, FIRE, fitness, frugal, health, how we win, income, investing, personal finance, retirement, savings, savings ratio, travel

A key part of this blog, as well as any FI based one, is naturally the financials. Duh. But this community is not about cost cutting to a point of self-deprivation. It’s about striking a balance, determining what you personally value, and allocating your time and financial resources to those items. Everything else goes by the wayside. In the meantime, you strengthen your skills, mindset, health, and relationships.

Being part of this community has allowed us to answer some of life’s tougher questions, and we hope that you will find that as well. The biggest question is: What are you going to do if you no longer need to work for a paycheck?

In one of our last posts, we talked about the History of Winning Williams and finding the Financial Independence community late in 2013. Where has this taken us since? (and where can it take you?)

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Three and a half year results:

Financial Performance

  • We’ve reduced expenses that were not adding value to us: most dining out, gas, tolls and other transportation, utilities, personal items (haircuts, etc.), subscription services (Netflix)
  • Our Net Worth has grown by over 250%
  • We continuously save upwards of 70% of our post-tax income (10.5 total working years to reach FI at that rate)
  • We simplified our finances to run with minimal effort and action on our part – in this occasion (i.e. using broad index-based funds), the path of least resistance is the most effective and best for long-term interests

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Life Improvements

  • We made a major move. Literally. We downsized from a paid-off single-family home to a rented single-bedroom condo. The driving force was reducing both commutes significantly.
    • This considerably improved our free time, lowered stress, and reduced our environmental impact. With limited time together after our day-jobs, gaining an hour or more per day was vital.
    • If you start to think that making a move this big is too crazy or that it might be too difficult, don’t worry. We did and are loving every minute in this new location!
  • Our fitness and health have improved. With extra free-time and less stress from reducing our previous hour-long commutes, we workout daily. We are stronger than ever and established new fitness goals we otherwise would have never considered. Like running a marathon in 30 mph cross winds.
  • Our passion projects have accelerated. One, of course this blog. But also, Mrs. WW has been crushing writing and has published two books since moving!
    • Oh and a special note on book #3, she has taken the sage advice of other authors and has written about what she knows: the F.I. community. This will be a novel for our community. Stay tuned for more details coming shortly!
  • Learned new skills and expanded financial knowledge.
    • Travel hacking – we learned through the community about travel hacking and we have wrote about it… with Iceland, with NYC, and Southwest U.S. We have easily saved over $4,000 from travel hacking and still have ~200,000 points available for future travel savings. When you’re conscious about saving money and yet yearn to travel, why not take advantage of resources that are easily available?
    • Who knew you could access retirement funds before retirement? I certainly didn’t. But now I know all the ins-and-outs of Roth conversion ladders and what strategies to utilize to minimize your tax burden both in the working years and afterwards.

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FI Community

Of course, we read many blogs. We made select comments here and there, and started to get a feel for certain online personalities. It was one thing to have an online community and feel connected, but another to bridge the gap to those around you.

Mr. WW met with Stephen Baughier and his brother in the first actual Mustachian get together in St. Pete. Stephen has done an amazing job being an advocate for the FI community including launching a private Facebook page and encouraging the community to connect with one another. Stephen (hope he’s reading this with all of these praises) also took the lead in organizing the first Camp Mustache Southeast (CMSE) edition held in Gainesville in January 2017. This was three nights in the backwoods of Gainesville hanging out with other likeminded folks from the community. It was a weekend of bonfires, hikes, games, and continuous discussions.  It was truly a blast and helped us connect to those with similar views as us, many of whom we’ve stayed in contact with and plan to meetup with again in the second edition of camp, now called Camp FI, or other events in the Tampa Bay region.

Just a few of those folks that we met and their blogs/websites:

In large, we are a financial community that doesn’t focus too much on finances. The finances go on auto-pilot (we’ll talk more on that next) and then the fun begins when finances are not a concern. Then comes the ultimate question. What is after FI?

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