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Our FIRE Journey-October 2021

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Our Rhode Island Dream

Starting the 4-year Road to FI in Pennsylvania

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Two months after moving 50- and our two boys at home from Idaho to Pennsylvania to increase our opportunities to become financially independent, life near Scranton is starting to settle into a routine. My early morning writing routine, however, doesn’t seem to want to cooperate. I just have not figured out where I can work on 50PlusOnFIRE that won’t disturb 50- for the hour she sleeps after I normally get up extra early.

What happens to your net worth when you sell your home in a hot housing market and you move to a more affordable area?

Not much, as it turns out. But, and this is huge for those of us trying to build financial Independence, it frees up a large portion of our net worth that has been tied up and unusable in our primary residence and converts it to cash that we can use for building passive income generators.

Now that we find ourselves two months into our cross country move as part of our own Financial Independence-Early Retirement (FIRE) experiment, this change/no change to our net worth is the first lesson learned. Kind of simple and kind of expected, but still exciting.

Here’s what this looks like on paper. 

Household Net Worth: 25% drop overall (includes home value)

Liquid Assets: 800% increase

Current Debt: 70% decrease (includes mortgage)

All Assets: 45% decrease (includes primary residence)

True Net Worth: Increased over 110% (excludes primary residence)

New This Month

You might look at these figures and conclude that we were idiots to sell our incredibly appreciated home in Idaho and trade it for a home worth less than half the value. After all, our overall assets plummeted 45%.

Our overall purpose in this move, though, was not to preserve overall net worth but to create opportunities to build ongoing, near-passive income. Without the multi-million dollar investment portfolio we would need to retire in five years and live independently for the rest of our lives, we knew that net worth composed primarily of our primary residence was a game of shadows.

Home equity does not equal financial independence.

Financial independence comes from a regular stream of income that covers your living expenses and your high priority wants without having to obligate hours every week to earning it. 

Lesson Learned

The most important result of our home sale is the increase in our liquid assets. Having moved to a more affordable housing market, our lifestyle has remained relatively similar to our previous levels in Idaho (though always debatable depending upon what part of your living standards you’re discussing).

By the way, if you’re wondering what happened to our home in Idaho after selling, whether its value continued to skyrocket, cool, or decrease, we are a bit sad to say that the buyer painted over our boys’ bedroom murals, but otherwise turned around and listed the home for sale. Currently, it has been on the market for nearly six weeks for about 5% less than what we sold it for.

It appears that we sold at the very height of the market, which was great for us but not so great for our buyer.

FIRE Fund

We have placed the 800% increase in our liquid assets (mostly cash and savings), into a couple of different savings accounts, not because we’re trying to take advantage of any jumbo return on such accounts but to keep it low risk until we’re ready to use it soon.

As mentioned in an earlier post, we plan to use this fund to pursue financial independence through real estate, particularly vacation homes in the Poconos. We want to wait about 8-12 months before starting so that I can get to know the area and watch occupancy patterns among many of the homes on VRBO and Airbnb.

October’s Challenges

Our main financial challenges continue to result from our cross-country move and the major downsizing we did. Thinking that we would be significantly downsizing from our 2,550 square foot home in Idaho, and trying to make the move in a single moving truck without having to contract with a company to use a massive tractor trailer, we sold our big living room, 5-piece sectional couch, found a home for my family heirloom, 130-year old upright grand piano, found buyers on Facebook Marketplace for our boys’ twin beds, donated several truckloads of small things like night stands and old clothing, and gave our small chest freezers and a lot of food storage to family members.

Somehow, we found a home that was just 250 square feet smaller than our previous home, although it certainly doesn’t feel as spacious because it’s so narrow as a townhouse. Still, we’ve had to purchase kitchen appliances, a living room couch, beds for the boys, and storage cabinets for the kitchen (having gone from a 3½ car garage to barely 1).

After barely five weeks in the home, you would hardly know that we’re still new in the area. Not surprisingly, 50- has somehow pulled off the impossible. She has us moved out of boxes and bins and into a home in record time (not counting the garage, which is my responsibility anyway).

Just in time for Halloween!

Financial Progress

Let’s look at the figures for the month:

MonthGiving*DebtTRI*50+ Weight
TARGET$7.5K$0$15k170
Oct ‘21$950$135,992$155200

After arriving in the Scranton area, we wanted to get involved in the community, so besides attending church meetings each Sunday and church youth activities Thursday evenings, we decided to make our first donation in PA to a local women’s shelter. So, we found the Women’s Resource Center, whose mission is “to assist victims of domestic violence and sexual assault gain their personal and financial independence.

Business Progress

The biggest casualty of our move was not the storage cabinets we got from our neighbor in Idaho even though their backboards that keep them together nearly disintegrated. Fortunately, some particle boards from Home Depot and a few small nails made them even sturdier than before.

No. This web site, my 50PlusOnFIRE business, has taken the hardest hit. I’m surprised how much difficulty I’ve had trying to get back into the routine of getting up at 5:15 am each weekday to write and work on these pages.

While living in hotel rooms for over 6 weeks during our moves, I couldn’t get up without disturbing the rest of the family, so I lost that habit. Now, there’s no reason for me not to get up earlier except I feel exhausted.

I could probably combine this challenge with my lack of progress on my health goals, since the less I exercise, the less energy I have to get up in the morning. What a terribly vicious cycle!

Health

Before moving out of Idaho, I can say that I was doing pretty well with my exercising goals, though not as well as a year ago. I rode a bike to work five or six times in the final three weeks, despite the 100°+ temperatures the afternoon rides home presented.

Before July, the last time I had ridden to work had been last November, the week before I came down with COVID. Whether I was already infected and affected by the virus or, more likely, riding my wife’s smaller bike (24”) with fewer gears made the difference, I had really struggled to get to and from work.

Instead of 20-25 minutes, it was taking me 35-40 minutes each way, and I was completely drained physically. Perhaps it was a combination of both. But in July, I rode my son’s 27” bike and made it to and from work in near-record times of 20 minutes or so.

With the move, all that came to a screeching halt. You would think living in a hotel for six weeks would mean I could take advantage of the exercise rooms each morning. Of course, that would mean I was completely self-disciplined and could get up early without waking anyone else up in the process.

Unfortunately, I ended up in the gym just five or six times over that six week period. And I feel it!

But that’s why I’m writing about all this. It will keep me accountable… Or at least that’s the hope Stay tuned!