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My Journey Update
It has been 3 months since I started FI & Wine and I think it is time for a journey update. I have become quite bogged down by the small details of daily life lately. And while this isn’t new to me, focusing so much of my time on a project as big as the launching of this blog is new to me. The last thing I want to do is lose sight of my overall goals.
I’ve decided that from here on out, it would be very valuable to have quarterly updates on my FI journey so I can look back and reflect of what I have accomplished, and look forward to what is ahead. Without getting distracted by the fine details that make up the daily tasks of launching a side business.
I started this blog back in February, 2018. The goal was mainly one of accountability. But that goal has now become broken down into many smaller, but equally important goals.
Big goals require the tracking and monitoring of progress.
Check out 7 Steps to Financial Goal Setting for tips on how to set goals for success.
Motivation to achieve my goals and dreams
Not only is the publicity of this blog holding me accountable, but motivation has a real component here. It is just inconceivable that I could let my readers down by not following through. My family and friends can be vocal enough to ask me how my progress is (accountability) but you my readers keep me motivated to keep providing valuable content so that you can achieve your goals and dreams as well.
Can progress updates get any more public than this? I now have a permanent record of my journey and all the little ups and downs along the way. My goal is to honestly portray the reality of setting a goal for FI and just what it takes to make it happen. I have the accountability and the motivation to make it happen. I also have a record of what goes well and what doesn’t and clearly stated progress updates to ensure forward momentum. If I’m not moving forward then what am I here for?
Side hustle earnings
Clearly I had many reasons to jump on the blogging bandwagon. I needed the accountability, motivation and documentation of progress. But since I’m on the path to FI, I also want to create as many income streams as possible. It is certainly possible to make money blogging. This process helps me maintain forward momentum while also accelerating my journey to FI. My goal is to make a part time income within 12 months of launching my website and enough money to replace a full time income within 18 months.
Help define my path to financial stability (Which evolved into the goal of FI)
It’s well and good to have financial goals. For most people, getting out of debt is likely first and foremost. Once you are debt-free (with the exception of a mortgage perhaps), then what? What are the long term goals? To afford the next greatest technological toy? To save for the kids’ to attend college?
As a single mom that started with literally nothing but the cash I had on hand, it was my top priority to establish a very clear financial path. First, make a career path for dependable earnings. Once I had that, start thinking about saving for financial stability. With financial stability, I could then start thinking about the dreams I had set aside long ago. Like shorter work days to spend more time with my son, free time to invest in a new relationship, and time off to travel.
In just 3 (not so short!) months, my goals for this blog have become even clearer and more important to me. What has been a bit of a surprise to me is just how much my financial goals have taken shape. Through the process of writing about the topics of what is truly important to me, how to goal set for success and be smart about finances, I have really discovered the FI community and resonated with all that it represents. I’m even more committed now to the following financial goals:
I have wanted to own a rental property since I graduated from college. I wasn’t assertive enough and didn’t have the means to jump into REI until this last year. As it turns out, I love it as much as I thought I would. I certainly plan on continuing.
If savings isn’t automated, it is so easy to just not think about it. Writing this blog has taken me to the next level of savings. Just a few short months ago, savings meant automating a few hundred dollars and not thinking about it. If I had some money left over in my account at the end of the month, then that was money that was available to spend on fun stuff. Now, every dollar has more meaning to me. Every dollar has a purpose. If I were to point out any single significant change in my life since starting this blog, it’s probably how much more aware I am of my savings.
If I make just a few small spending changes a month, like skipping that morning latte or basing my grocery shopping around the current sales, I find I now have an extra $100-$300 dollars at the end of the month. I could spend that on a nice dinner or weekend getaway. Or, I could invest it. And at the end of 10 years, that extra, say $250 is now $39,400. In case you’re wondering, the answer is yes. Yes, I WILL take that extra $40k, thank you very much.
How long have I thought about investing. Right, that wasn’t a question. It was a statement. But have I done any real investing? Nope. But in the last 6 months I have purchased my first rental property, reviewed all my retirement accounts (yes, there are at least three, one I can’t quite locate still!) and opened 3 personal high interest savings/investing accounts. I have effectively increased my overall wealth by over $100k. And yes, that does feel pretty darn good.
As a full time single mother, I’m no stranger to budgeting. This blog has taught me that there was still room for improvement. I am still progressively saving more money every single month. I am using less gas, saving on eating out while simultaneously spending less on groceries. But I will admit, I am just about at the point where there is very little adjustment left to make. I’m not going to switch to eating beans and rice.
I have optimized about as much as I can right now while still maintaining a lifestyle that I enjoy. Keep in mind, I have been a single mom for the last 10 years. I do enjoy some of life’s luxuries and yes, I will partake in them! Lifestyle is very important to me. I have been through a lot, sacrificed even more, and I am just not willing to be frugal on certain things. And so, I do feel like I’m close to my budgeting limits. So, now what?
Now comes the creativity of maximizing my savings. And brainstorming ways to increase my earnings.
Since I’m close to the point where I can’t manage to save much more, if I want to accelerate my path to FI, I’ll have to adjust the amount of money I earn. I don’t plan on switching careers or making any big changes in my earning potential where I am now, so I either need to invest more aggressively or take on a side hustle (or two or three!). This blog is just that. Bonus that it also helps in so many other ways!
As a recap, here’s what I’ve learned so far, by starting this blog and writing content over the last three months:
- Starting a blog is not for the faint of heart (you need a very strong why and the drive to keep at it).
- It’s taken an investment of $2200 and hasn’t made its first penny yet. This is significantly more than I expected, but certainly adds to my motivation to be successful.
- My view of money is already quite different.
- I think of every dollar as having a purpose and weigh the benefit/cost of spending it.
- I’m better at budgeting.
- I’m moving more money into savings every month.
- I’m a better writer already (at least it takes less time, you be the judge!).
- My goals have solidified. I have a clearer vision of where I want to go and how I will get there.
I used the MadFientist retirement calculator and it seems that I am on path to retire in 8 years and 10 months. This is an amazing tool! Check out the FI Laboratory at the Mad Fientist blog.
I want this number to be closer to 5 years, so here’s how I will focus on accelerating my journey:
- More rentals (I’m working on refinancing my duplex and will be ready to purchase my next investment property in the next year).
- There is one more year of private school for my son, then public high school will allow me to save more every month, which will go into retirement savings and investing.
- Maintain my motivation to keep plugging away at this blog. One average, new blogs don’t usually see traffic and income increases until around the one year mark, so I plan to give it full effort for 18 months before assessing chances of success.
Now I just need to keep plugging away! Look for my next update in 3 months!
If you are curious to read about the progress I have made since writing this post, be sure to check out my 6 month update!