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Welcome to my second update!
I’m pretty excited that it has now been a full 6 months since I started FI & Wine. Man, has it been a journey!
I’m happy to report that in just a few months, I have continued to make progress on my journey to achieve financial independence.
And while I’ve been plugging away on this blog, progress has been decidedly slower.
When I first had the radical idea of starting this blog, my biggest concern was maintaining motivation. I assumed that my biggest struggle would be putting in the hours of work during the difficult beginning stages of snail-paced growth and no returns.
As it turns out, this hasn’t been an issue. My motivation to make progress is just as strong, if not even stronger, than when I first started. While I don’t really keep track of the hours I invest, I know that I’ve put enough time in that I am absolutely determined to see results. I’ll continue putting in the effort to ensure that I see those results asap.
Without further ado, here’s what I have to show for the last three months.
Net worth increase: $40,867
Monthly passive income: $450
The main highlight of the last three months has been the slow evolution of the FI & Wine website. It is ever a work in progress and I am proud of what I have created thus far.
Also, I am finally the proud owner of my first rental property! More on this later, as it deserves it’s own heading!
The main surprise of the last three months is that I have been so hyper focused on building and growing this blog that I have put little time and energy into my main goals of financial independence, FI. Since the whole purpose of this blog is to remain accountable and on track to achieve FI, I didn’t expect this. However, I did make some progress.
I own my first rental property!
Happy dance! This is super exciting! As of August 28, 2018, I am officially the proud owner of my first duplex.
The process to purchase this rental began back in November 2017. Since I didn’t actually have enough money to purchase the home myself, I partnered with a friend. A friend who happens to be a realtor that specializes in buying homes for discount at auction and flipping them for a profit.
Together we created an equal partnership to cash purchase a home at auction in Oregon. After the purchase, we arranged (by we, I mean my partner!) a substantial rehab to replace the roof, gutters, most of one of the kitchens, most of the flooring and appliances, as well as some other aesthetic updates.
The renovation took about three months. Once complete, we then hired a property manager to advertise and secure a lease for each unit, as well as manage all aspects of the rental.
Once the home had been owned for 6 months, I was able to begin the process of applying for a cash out refinance. This means that I applied for a mortgage, same as you would to buy a new home. Once the loan was approved and finalized, I reimbursed my partner for his share of the duplex and transferred the title to my name.
The end product
The goal here was to purchase a property below market value at auction. Then add value to the home by renovating it. The home should then appraise much higher than what we invested. The bank will then provide a loan for 70-75% of the appraised value. If we purchased the home at 70% below market value, we would be pulling all of our money back out.
Sadly, the home appraised quite a bit lower than expected so I was not able to refinance for the full amount that I initially invested. Rather than cash back in my pocket, my money is tied up as equity in the home.
In summary, with a relatively low investment, I now own a duplex that cash flows every month and has over $100,000 of equity. This will count towards my net worth and help me on my journey to financial independence.
If you’re wondering about the fine details of my rental property purchase, I’ll be posting a full article soon on just how this process works. Stay tuned!
Money Saving Changes
While my focus has been on building this blog, I have tried to be continually aware of my spending. I’ve continued to make some progress in the following areas:
- By using the Safeway app on my phone, I tailor my shopping around what is currently on sale. My usual purchases are saved in my history and the app tracks what is on sale. I then plan my meals around the sales. This has allowed me to save anywhere from 10-25% on my groceries.
- This amounts to about $80 saved each month, or $960 over a year.
To learn more tips on saving money on groceries, see 11 Tips To Save Money on Groceries.
- If you haven’t check out my post on travel hacking, you are missing out. Unless of course you don’t like travel. But who doesn’t like to travel??
- By signing up for a Chase rewards credit card and earning 50,000 bonus points, I was able to turn those points into serious savings on airfare. There are some tricks to this and it isn’t super intuitive. But some extra effort is worth the thousands in travel savings.
- Through my sign-on points and the points I earned with day to day spending I was able to:
- Book two roundtrip tickets with Southwest Airlines for only $22. Original tickets were $988.
- Book one roundtrip flight to Nice, France for only $106. Original ticket cost was $1,500.
- I still have enough points left for another $800+ in travel. I just need to decide where I want to go!
To read more on travel hacking, visit Intro to Travel Hacking: How I Booked a $980 trip for $22.
- I did it. I broke up with my hair stylist. I seriously felt like I needed to send her flowers and set her up with a new client. But she agreed to still cut my hair twice a year, so I think we are on relatively good terms.
- I now use Madison Reed to color my hair. Initially, I signed up to receive a DIY color kit in the mail every 4 weeks. Sadly, I need it a little more frequently than this these days. Too much stress building this blog up I guess. I’ve now figured out how to divide each color kit into two uses.
- I order one color kit every 6 weeks. Total cost is $24 per kit.
- I now save 64.5% per year by coloring my own hair at home. And since I use a high end product, I’m not actually giving up quality. Total savings per year is around $370.
For more on how small expenses add up to cost thousands in savings opportunity, visit The True Cost of Your Morning Latte.
- One routine that I haven’t been willing to give up is my bimonthly pedicures. I’m super active and genetically prone to really nasty ingrown toenails. TMI, I know. The best way to keep my feet happy in running shoes and cute heels is by regular visits to the nail salon. And I’m not gonna lie, I really enjoy my spa pedicures.
- However, I really do want to cut back on all unnecessary spending. So I purchased a really great ingrown nail tool kit on Amazon. I’ve been practicing over the last few weeks to see if I could accomplish what only talented technicians can do. It turns out that with some practice, I can.
- Then I bought three bottles of nail polish during a buy 2 get 1 free sale. Two colors and one top coat, all for the cost of one pedicure.
- Finally, I gave myself my first pedicure. And it wasn’t half bad! Then came the true test, I put on some running shoes and went for a run in a hilly neighborhood. So far so good!
- Total savings per year will be around $200.
- I’m lucky enough to do my banking through USAA Federal Savings Bank. I stumbled upon a fun little service called Tracker. Tracker is a military dog whose job is to save you money. He sends me a text message every day telling me what my checking account balance is, along with fun little facts or commentary. Yesterday he told me that Saint Bernards were trained to save people in the Alps but that he’s trained to save people money.
- Tracker’s job is to keep track of my spending habits and siphon off unspent funds from my checking account into my savings account. It’s usually $8 every now and then, or a total of around $125 per month. I can tell him to save more or less, but since I already have my savings automated, this is just icing on the cake. I don’t notice the money going away, and I don’t spend money I don’t see in my checking account.
- All-in-all, Tracker saves me an additional $1,500 per year. And he keeps me entertained on a regular basis.
As I said, I’ve been focused on work, my rental property and FI & Wine these last three months rather than my path to financial independence. But with just a few small changes I have still managed to increase my savings by approximately $2,900 for the year, while still managing to travel on a budget by cutting airfare cost by $2,360.
In case you were wondering, that little bit of extra savings will amount to around $17,400 in just five years. Not too bad!
I’d give you all an update of my blogging progress but seriously, you don’t want to know.
As they say, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. There is no get rich quick scheme and building a business takes a whole lot of time and dedication. Six months in and I am stubbornly steadfast in my determination to create a profitable blog. If only because I’ve put too much time into it already!
I am continually forced to push past my comfort zones to learn new skills. Add to that the emotional roller coaster of each small victory and setback. But through it all, I see progress. And I’m proud of what I have accomplished thus far.
As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, I took on a new part-time job recently. I already have a full time job that is rewarding. My goal is to build my blog into a business that can replace my current job and commute. So why would I accept more work?
- Since I didn’t need the job, I was in a powerful position for negotiating. I was able to confidently ensure that the company and department were as much a match for me as I was for them.
- All of my requests were met, and then some. Which allows me to set my master plan into motion:
- Earn extra income in my free time, as much or little as I choose.
- Every extra dollar earned will go straight to savings, allowing me to accelerate my journey to financial independence.
- A flexible part-time income will allow for a smoother transition down the road as my blog grows and begins replacing my full-time income. Rather than lose earned income all at once, I can tailor part-time work to fill in any income gap.
- My commute will be shorter, further aiding in my transition to the FI lifestyle I seek.
- I have the option of turning the part-time job into a higher earning full-time job should I decide to continue working aggressively. This will further speed up my journey to FI.
A lot can happen in a few short months, so long as you have a plan. Even though I wasn’t as focused on specific goals for the last three months, I’m dedicated to an overall plan and this has allowed me to make a significant amount of progress.
Here’s the progress I have seen recently:
- I am the proud new owner of my first rental property! In just a few short months this investment has increased my wealth by over $40k while also providing over $400 in cash flow every month.
- I should see an additional $2,000 in savings over the year by making a few small adjustments to my finances.
- Savings on groceries by utilizing my store’s sale app.
- Ditching the salon and coloring my own hair.
- Automating savings even more by utilizing a free banking service that automatically funnels extra cash from my checking into my savings account throughout the month.
- Giving up my routine pedicures.
- Through travel hacking I was able to save over $2,500 on airfare, with another $800+ in savings for the future. This allows me to travel without giving up my financial goals.
- Blog progress has been very slow, however, I am just as motivated and dedicated to continue putting in the time and effort necessary to create a profitable online resource and business.
- I have accepted a side job that will:
- Allow me to save an additional $6 – 12k per year.
- Provide the opportunity to ease the future transition away from full-time employment to part-time blogging and financial independence.
- Shorten my commute and thereby improve free time and quality of life.
When I saw that it was time to write my second 3-month journey update, I was a little concerned that I hadn’t accomplished very much. I’ve been so dedicated to growing my blog that I just haven’t focused on specific goals. However, it turns out it’s been a pretty good three months after all!