today’s is a post in two parts. enjoy!
part 1 — how do you define financial independence?
we were recently reading a post by the no nonsense landlord, who is a total pro at real estate investing (we’re dabblers, not pros), and he said that he now knows that he is financially secure, even though we’d actually describe him as super duper uber secure. like mega cashflow each month from rentals plus a pension plus investment savings. super duper uber ultra mega secure, maybe. but then we got to thinking about the difference between financially secure (which we clearly are, thanks to being at this for several years now) and financially independent (fi).
and it made us wonder: are we actually financially independent already?
our community likes to talk about “fire” (financial independence, retire early) a lot, which has the effect of conflating the two concepts. but they’re actually different, and not just in terms of whether you decide to work or not. early retirement theoretically means that you have saved up the resources to be able to live your chosen lifestyle ad infinitum. but financial independence just means that you no longer need to work for money.
and though we’re down on the year like everyone else, we still socked a considerable sum away at the end of last year that took our mortgage balance way down and boosted our taxable savings way up. here’s where we are now — do you think this qualifies as fi?
- we currently have enough liquid assets saved up that we could cash them out, pay off the remaining mortgage on our home, and the remaining mortgage on our rental property, and still have some cash leftover (think in the range of a very large emergency fund). we have no other debt.
- with no mortgage on the rental, the rental income would be cash flow, along with the principle and interest we get each month from the personal loan we made. we could survive on just this cash flow with frugal living, and would owe very little in taxes and would get very cheap aca health insurance with that income level.
- our well-funded 401(k) (and maybe social security) would still be there for us when we reach our 60s, so we could step up our quality of life a bit, or we could do the roth conversion ladder with some of the funds in the intervening years to raise our income a little.
- all of our contingencies would still be in place to free up money as needed: we could still downsize our home to free up capital, sell our rental, move into our rental and sell or rent the main home, move to a lower cost of living area, go full-time rv, etc.
um, you guys. i think we’ve hit financial independence.
do you agree? how do you define fi? of course, we posit that while fi is a necessary condition to reach early retirement, it is not sufficient. so being fi doesn’t mean we can retire today, or at least we can’t retire the way we want to. we want to retire in a way that lets us travel a lot, stay in our house, occasionally buy actual things (i know — gasp!), afford organic groceries, sometimes go out to eat, travel a lot, and travel a lot. oh, and travel a lot. plus more travel. that means we’ve still got a little ways to go. we plan to pay off our house before we quit, but we’ll keep the mortgage on the rental and let our tenant pay that off for us, retaining our capital for investment growth. and we want to have a lot more money invested when we pull the plug than could constitute a large emergency fund. so we beat on, boats against the current.*
*wednesday it was hunter s. thompson, today it’s f. scott fitzgerald. love authors with those self-important initials.
part 2 — our fill-the-bucket list
we’re super late to the party on this one, but we love the sentiment, and we love maggie, so we didn’t want to miss out! today we’re finally joining the fill the bucket club. and boy, does our bucket runneth over. we’re huge believers that happy people are grateful, and we love moments like these, when we can take a step back and say, whoa! we have a ton to be grateful for!
we’ve experienced a lot of awesome things, together and separately, through work, in our personal lives, and sometimes just by keeping our eyes open and appreciating what’s right around us. and we’re not going to try to downplay this: we’ve been extraordinarily lucky. some of that luck we’ve created for ourselves, some of it is true chance, and some of it is the very definition of privilege (sorry, steve). ;-) we don’t want to retire early and travel the world because we’ve never seen any of it — we want to travel the world because we’ve gotten a taste, and we’re hungry for more. here goes…
i was featured on good morning america once. over something totally silly and ridiculous. thanks to the google, i can’t say more without revealing my identity, but i’ll share more about this someday.
i still kinda can’t believe this one is true, but it is. i saw one of the mars rovers at the jet propulsion laboratory (jpl) before it went to mars. yes, something i laid eyes on is now on mars. MARS. the planet that you’ve heard of. that matt damon may still be stranded on, for all we know, since we only saw the trailer, not the movie. it’s still toodling around and sending back pictures. maybe it’s sentient and remembers meeting me? maybe it’s like some kind of interplanetary american tail “somewhere out there” moment. no? okay.
i touched the berlin wall when it was still fully intact, when it seemed like it would stay that way forever. and then i touched it again when it was just fragments, a reminder of the old iron curtain, and a divided europe.
as shared in our blogiversary post, i got to touch the f/a-18 at miramar (former top gun!) and fly the simulator, and get into the harrier at yuma.
shook hands with a u.s. president.
spent a season as a ski bum in jackson hole, the mecca of american skiing. his only regret: that he couldn’t grow a proper ski bum beard while there. :-)
learned to backcountry ski, and skied in some seriously rugged and beautiful mountains.
went heliskiing, twice. (something i never plan to do, btw, even if it was free — which it is so not.) but he loved it.
managed, coached and played on his university’s volleyball team, and took them to nationals for the first time ever in the history of the school.
the lesson from all of this: i am a huge nerd, mr. onl is a stud athlete.
we’ve both jumped out of a perfectly good airplane — mr. onl has done it twice. and when i did it, it was because he surprised me and gave me no other choice. but it was awesome!
we’ve each finished at least one marathon (ms. onl: 1, mr. onl: 4). we are not fast runners (okay, i’m not a fast runner), but we still got through the miles. we ran one half marathon together, and mr. onl was nice enough to slow down to my pace. :-)
we climbed the highest peak in the lower 48, mt. whitney. our favorite thing up there: the highest toilet in america:
we ate at some super fancy pants restaurants during our baller days, and loved every second of it. (though we don’t miss that stuff — we have wonderful memories and pictures, and now we can’t imagine dropping that kind of dough on a meal!)
we got ourselves into a survival epic… and lived to tell the tale. several years back, we had a high altitude trip gone wrong, but thankfully we didn’t have to get rescued or survive for multiple days with only a tauntaun for warmth. we just had to survive one very cold night at 12,000 feet with no tent and very wet sleeping bags. at a certain point, when we were shivering at 3 am, it all just became funny.
swam with sea turtles in hawaii… at a respectful distance, of course.
moved to the mountains, where the pine cones are this big:
backpacked around europe — we did this separately, in our younger days. mr. onl even did it solo, which i totally admire.
to blathe — er, true love. we won’t schmoop out here and make things get super awkward. but we think of finding each other as the best thing ever. that fills about 99 percent of our bucket.
reached financial independence! stay tuned for the next milestone: early retirement.
whew! it was a ton of fun reliving the memories that fill our overflowing bucket. even if you don’t blog, we can’t recommend highly enough taking some time this weekend to think about your favorite memories, the times you’ve felt most alive and the things you’re most proud of. such a great way to connect to gratitude, and bring more happiness into your life!
so tell us… do you think we’ve hit fi? or think that we’re thinking of it as too low a bar? anyone else out there realizing that maybe you’ve already hit fi after all? have a great weekend, everyone!
Want more? Sign up for the free, non-salesy e-newsletter
Subscribe to get my every-month-or-two email newsletter with tons of behind-the-scenes info that never appears here on the blog.