This girl is on firrreee: six months on FIRE

I had originally written this post over a month ago (before we purchased a home). So even though we’re not quite on the FIRE track, we’re still working on it. Anyway here is the original post:

(Lol, you know I’ve been just itching to make those FIRE puns). Anyway for those who aren’t familiar with FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early), it’s a movement to save money, put it towards investments, so that you have the financial freedom to do what you like (more about it here). You basically want to get to the point where your expenses are covered your passive income earned through interest of stock or rent collected on properties. I’m super grateful to have the privilege to work on my FIRE path. And a reader has asked what that looks like for me. Since I’ve only started 6 months ago (and this is a years-long or even decades-long plan) I’m very much still a newbie. There are many other experts out there who have achieved their FIRE number and right blogs about what it’s like for them.

The first step of our FIRE plan was to start tracking our expenses. We combined all our bank accounts and credit card statements under Mint so we could see where our money was going. My husband is the one organizing (ie categorizing expenses) and then he tells me how we’re doing. This is also the first time I’ve shared my accounts with him so now I’m much more careful what I spend my money on, knowing there’s going to be a second pair of eyes judging me (which is a good thing).

Also starting in December/January, we started to limit our expenses. The first thing we cut out was eating out. We used to eat out at least twice a week (and while we were running the Airstream business we would eat out twice a day about 6 times a week—crazy I know but we were busy running a business and we weren’t on FIRE). So February (before the baby came), was probably our lowest spend month ever in the history of us. Of course now with baby, we never eat out anymore. Though the temptation to get food delivery or takeout is high we resist, and we keep it to maybe one takeout a week if that (it has become a treat when we do). My husband brings lunch from home to work, even if that means a $3-4 burrito from Trader Joes (but it beats his at minimum $11 lunches he gets in downtown SF). I’ve also started clipping coupons for places we like to eat (like a BOGO for bagel sandwiches at Noah’s Bagels—such a good deal!), and that would be our treat meal out sometimes.

As for my blog expenses, I’m no longer just purchasing things willy nilly (though it may look like I still am acquiring a lot—but really this is me trying to be better). I’ve been buying a lot of things off of the RealReal when I want to try stuff (like the Martiniano shoes, kowtow romper, Chanel ballet flats, etc.). I sold off a bunch of things one month and instead of collecting a check, I decided to go with credit so I have revolving RealReal credit to try things. Also I’ve been selling things on eBay and have made my Paypal account a revolving credit account to try things for the blog. This also makes tracking expenses easier for my husband since he doesn’t constantly see an outgoing and incoming amount that’s not related to our daily life. I’m also tracking my blog expenses separately to make sure I’m not spending more than I’m earning.

And then we started investing our money into Vanguard Index funds. I’m no expert so I’m trying out several different index and mutual funds after reading up on them. So far they’re doing well but the market is currently down right now and we aren’t doing as well as they were. But of course that’s just how it goes with the stock market. If anything, now is the time to buy more (it’s on sale! lol).

It may sound like we’re only being frugal with the small stuff but that’s because we’ve gotten the big stuff luckily out of the way. No car payments with one really old car and one newer but used car. We’re both suuuuuper duper duper lucky not to have any college loans. We got really lucky also by being able to buy a house when we were young and then selling it when it was at a market high. Currently we’re living in an apartment but are looking to move back into a house. We’ll end up taking on some debt then but currently we are debt free. So yep, we’re focusing on the smaller savings now. But seriously all the small things add up. {Update: We purchased a house and are now in debt. We’re going to have to work extra hard in budgeting and keeping all other expenses low.}

Anyway if you’re new to the concept and want some practical tips, I recommend reading Your Money or Your Life. It’s what got me going down this path and really motivated to get my financial life in order. And I’m by no means there yet and am still constantly figuring out how to live with the FIRE concept.