FIRE Dating part Dos

Well your boy Quique here started dating someone….and started breaking the rules. Aren’t rules meant to be broken? All I can say is dating is expensive 🙂

I was cooking less, paying for the meals we had and doing more activities than usual. But to be honest, I don’t regret any of it. I started writing this article when I was seeing this person, but due to some extenuating circumstances we ended things after about 6 weeks. Going to share my thoughts and lessons learned, looking back on it.

Values

I never had the full FIRE chat with the lady I was seeing, but I did mention wanting to change jobs\do something that involves helping people, retiring early (non-specific) and also moving out of the country. Luckily, she seemed pretty aligned with most of these ideas and didn’t seem to be a big spender. We were eating out a fair amount, so pivoting to cooking some meals together was on my radar.

Full Disclosure

So, when is the right time to bring up FIRE and that you have an actual plan and timeline? Gonna say this depends on the relationship. If you see it going somewhere and you think they could fit into your life and lifestyle, have the conversation. If you are worried that they might just get interested because they think you are loaded, you should probably hold off and re-evaluate dating them in the first place.

Frugality vs. Chivalry

VS

So, during the whole time I saw this woman, I don’t think she spent a dime on me. I paid for all of our meals together, got her stuff for Valentines Day and her Birthday. I’m not exactly complaining, but it did feel a bit odd. She was a working professional, so I think I expected that at some point she’d offer to split something or pick up an occasional tab. What bugged me more I think was that she seemed to expect it and didn’t seem overly appreciative.

This is something I noted for the future. Was it just my frugal side expecting too much, a red flag or just an expectation of Chivalry?

I recently went on a first date with another lady and she offered to split every thing we did/had. I didn’t expect it and I’m sure that’s the exception rather than the rule but even the act of offering felt nice. Something to think about as you’re dating….you don’t want someone dragging your FIRE down.

The End

Well, as I said above, that first relationship ended and it wasn’t easy for me. In some ways it was like getting separated/divorced again, in fact it was worse for me in some ways, since I realize now how done I was with my marriage. 

Your first relationship after getting divorced probably won’t last forever either, so it’s important to remember to take care of yourself when it does end. 

In my case, my previously filled schedule opened back up, I felt I had less reason to keep my apartment immaculate so chores slid and most of all, I realized I was hurting. It took me weeks to sort through all of that and get back to a good place.  I took notes on what I learned from that relationship, inventoried what worked and what didn’t and am thankful for the experience.

What’s been your experience dating again?

Money can’t buy Happiness

I know this is a cliche saying, but I’ve found it’s very true. Sure, everyone needs a certain level of income/resources to keep them out of hunger, homelessness, fear and general unhappiness. After a certain point though, those extra dollars don’t buy more happiness and often bring heartache or stress.

If you need examples of this, look at all of the famous people in the news. Self-medicating with drugs and alcohol, depression, mental breakdowns, overdosing and suicide. By all accounts many of these people “had it all”, money, homes, cars, fame, etc but they are miserable.

Sweet Spot

Multiple studies have shown that 60-75k per year (USD) is around the sweet spot for optimal happiness. In the FIRE community this is a bit above what most seem to be spending.

While there are some following this new “fat FIRE” movement and others who claim you need 200k+ per year for optimal happiness, I just don’t see it. Unless you are choosing to live in a very high cost of living area, it just doesn’t add up for me. That Tesla isn’t going to make you measurably happier than the Chevy Volt in the long run. The $12 bottle of wine is pretty drinkable and I can have 5 for the price of the one from my former wine club.

Giving it up

Money does by beer though…

I was working on my last joint tax return for my ex and I. As I’ve mentioned before, we had a significant disparity of income (in her favor). It struck me, that I had willingly gave up access to a much higher annual income by choosing to get divorced. I considered for a minute, that many people would probably say I was crazy from the outside. Things weren’t bad, we didn’t want for anything, but I wasn’t happy and no amount of annual income was going to change that.

I’ve had fancy cars, been on fancy vacations, drank fancy wine and learned none of it matters. At best it was a distraction and at worst non-value added stress. I had a beautiful truck that I loved for a while. Not long after I got it, someone backed into it, bent the bumper and I was so upset. While I enjoyed the truck, it brought me stress overall because it was expensive and I couldn’t enjoy it as much as I wanted to because I was worried about damaging it. Money clearly didn’t and couldn’t buy happiness, at least for me. It hopefully will buy my eventual freedom via FIRE, but I’m happier now and still on my FIRE journey, so I’ll take that any day.

What do you think your optimal income level is? Do you think money buys your happiness?

Passive Income – Holy Grail?

Passive income is income that you get for putting in as close to 0 hours of ongoing work as possible. You will have some initial time investment, but on an ongoing basis it should require little effort. The easiest example is dividend income from stocks. You own the stock and it pays you a quarterly dividend, no matter what couch you are sleeping on. There are other examples: eBooks, Affiliate Marketing, Niche sites, etc.

On the surface this seems clearly like the Holy Grail…I get to do whatever I want and money just gets put in my account? Sweet!

Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s quite as easy as it sounds. For dividends, you need to first own the stock. Digital efforts seem doable but it’s competitive and I’m convinced it’s a lot harder than it looks on YouTube.

Digital Assets

Common products here that I’ve looked into are Niche Sites, eBooks, online courses and Affiliate Marketing.

Niche sites are websites that you build about a certain topic (Niche) and then work to get ranked by Google. You monetize the site through ads and/or affiliate links. I built one of these a few weeks ago on a topic that interested me, that I’m trying to get going.

eBooks and online courses typically involve you teaching someone else about a particular subject. The work usually involves researching the area of interest, developing credibility (unless you already have it), building an audience\customer base email list. The key seems to be truly providing value to your audience as well as picking a good Niche.

Affiliate Marketing is basically just creating advertisements for someone else’s products and earning a commission for every person who purchases that product or from that vendor. The most common platform seems to be Facebook now days, but the options are countless.

All of these take work and dedication up front, but ideally once going, they would require minimal effort to keep earning profit.

Real Estate

Real estate investing also keeps popping up and it’s something I’ve considered over the years. One advantage with real estate is the ability to use leverage (debt) to procure properties, so the upfront costs are lower.

Real estate investing also keeps popping up and it’s something I’ve considered over the years. One advantage with real estate is the ability to use leverage (debt) to procure properties, so the upfront costs are lower.

I’ve looked at buying single family homes as rentals. My local market isn’t great for this. I know you can buy out of state, but this isn’t super attractive to me at the moment. You’ve also always got the risk of a tenant destroying your place and unexpected big expenses (HVAC, roofs, etc).

Hands Off Real Estate

I’ve had an account with PeerStreet for a couple years, which lets you invest $1000 at a time into loans for individual properties. I started pulling my money out last year. I decided I didn’t like that it was illiquid, multiple properties had gone into defaults\foreclosures and the returns weren’t keeping up with the market (at the time). The defaults\foreclosures were just annoying, I didn’t lose any money, it just kept that money tied up for a lot longer.

Lately, I started reading about real estate syndication. This is similar to PeerStreet, but more traditional. You pool your funds with other investors and the management company purchases properties. Returning dividends along the way and eventually capital appreciation. The investment minimums on these is usually 50-100k. I was originally unsure of these with the real estate market and larger minimum investment, I did just recently throw in on one of them, so we’ll see how it goes. An important note, it that many require that you are an accredited investor, so that may be a roadblock for a lot of people.

Vacation Rentals

The other area I’ve put some thought into is vacation rentals in other countries. AirBnB or short term rental returns looks pretty compelling. The biggest barrier here is the inability to finance the property.

What passive income sources have you looked into or tried?

Solo Traveling

So, whether you are divorced already or in the process, you’re likely going to be single at least for a while. Even if you are dating again, you still may be looking at traveling alone.

My ex got me into traveling and I’ve only ever traveled with her, aside from a few domestic work trips. I do enjoy it and want to continue seeing the world. That said, I can’t lie that it’s caused me a bit of anxiety for multiple reasons…

  1. Too Many Options! – Now that it’s just me, I’m the one in control of everything. I get to decide where I want to go, what I want to do, how long I want to stay, etc, etc, etc ad infinitum. I don’t have to try to please anyone else, worry about if it’s something they will like, etc. This is both awesome and freeing, but also paralyzing – too many damn options!
  2. Loneliness – The struggle is real…I’ve always had a built in travel buddy with my ex, but no more. We had usually met some people in our travels while doing things, but 99% of the time kept to ourselves once that activity was over or kept it to polite conversations when bumping into each other. What if I don’t meet anyone? Am I going to sit by myself for every meal of every day, for the duration of my trip?

Ready, set, jump!

I knew I wanted to take a celebratory trip once the divorce was final, so I started doing my research. I had almost settled on going to South America, but found myself nervous about going somewhere totally new on my first solo trip. That and the flights weren’t lining up as well and cost a lot more airlines miles than returning to a place in Central America that I had been before.

So, I decided to go back to somewhere I had been, but had only gotten to spend a few days before. I had been wanting to return there for several years, but kept putting it off, so now was the perfect time.

Since I’d been before, I felt more comfortable going it alone. I booked my flight and connecting travel, getting past fear #1 above.

1 is the loneliest number

To combat my fear of being lonely, I considered a few things:

  1. What activities did I want to do? I looked into taking a Spanish class, or a Surf\Spanish class. I haven’t reserved it yet, but think I’m going to just do the surfing this time
  2. Where should I stay?
    • Hostels: I looked at some hostels, there are a couple really nice ones and they almost guarantee that you’re gonna meet people. I’ve never stayed in one before though and knew if I did that I’d want a private room. The cost of the private room was as much or more than a nice private AirBnB. So, for me I decided to could go hang out at a hostel, but would stay somewhere else.
    • AirBnB: So I narrowed down to two places, one a modern apartment in a residential neighborhood, the other a beachy looking loft above a restaurant. I decided on the loft as it was on the beach and figured there would be lots of people around to mingle with.

Reality

Well, I leave on my trip in about 5 weeks, so we’ll see how it goes, but I’m optimistic and definitely looking forward to it. Wish me luck!

FIRE Dating

Back in the Saddle

So maybe it’s too early for this topic, maybe not. Eventually after separating or finalizing your divorce you’re going to want to start dating again.

Since you’re pursuing FIRE, this might be even trickier than usual. The following questions came into my mind as I started getting to this point:

  • Where can I find someone also pursuing FIRE?
  • How do I find someone with similar values? Minimalism, FIRE, Mustachiansim are catching on, but definitely not “normal” or mainstream yet.
  • Can I date frugally, if so, how?
  • How do I protect myself and my assets?
  • Am I willing to change my FIRE plans for someone?

Tough Questions! Let’s try to tackle them one at a time:

  • Where can I find someone also pursuing FIRE?
    • First thing to acknowledge is this is probably going to be difficult, so you might be better off trying to find someone with similar values. That said, the first place I’d recommend is the Mr. Money Mustache forum, there is a Mustachian and Single area once you sign-up. Next possibility, attending FIRE events such as Camp Mustache, Chautauqua and other gatherings that attract like-minded people, maybe even FinCon, could be possible places. Lastly, if you go to a traditional dating site/app, it seems Match and eHarmony are the most focused on finding Love. If using one of these I’d just pepper your profile with signs (Minimalist, Not-Materialistic, etc) and skip anyone who says they love shopping 🙂
  • How do I find someone with similar values?
    • The fortunate thing here is that Mustachianism generally involves a lot of outdoor activities and avoids spending money on shit. So, if you look for someone who enjoys hiking, camping, biking, up-cycling, picnics, DIY and the plethora of other things that don’t involve spending money on crap you don’t need or want,  you’ve probably found a winner. Now I did see someone’s profile on one of the traditional apps…they lived off-grid in a van in the middle of the Mojave desert. That was a bit too minimalist for me 🙂
  • Can I date frugally, if so, how?
    • Yep, if you find someone who is pursuing FIRE, or has the values we called out above. In those cases, it should be pretty easy to date pretty frugally. If you find someone who just wants $14 martinis and dinner at the nicest place in town, then you may want to consider running.
  • How do I protect myself and my assets?
    • Can I take a pass on this one? Emotionally, dunno, good luck! Well, take your time, trust your gut and those you trust, for their opinions as well. Health wise…be safe, meet in public places, use protection. Financially, well, if you’re just dating, not much to worry about here. If things get serious and you’re considering getting married again, then probably best to consult an attorney in your area. One thing I’m personally a bit concerned with is since I’d like to live internationally, what would happen if I married someone from another country? I’d definitely want to understand the marriage and asset laws wherever I was first.
  • Am I willing to change my FIRE plans for someone?
    • Saved the hardest for last, didn’t I? This is gonna be a very personal one. I’m now a firm believer that life is short, we should follow our dreams and try to be as happy as possible. If FIRE is important to you, make sure you don’t give up or lose who you are for someone else. Hopefully you can find a middle ground, but if not and you are gonna give up your happiness for someone, I’m afraid it will be a recipe for disaster.

Lastly, I’ll just add that you’re going to want to make sure that you’re ready to date before you start (easier said than done). Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and everyone else’s. If you’re open for a new relationship, one might just find you, especially when you aren’t looking.

In my case, I also lost a majority of “my friends” during my divorce as well, so I also just wanted to meet some new people. The MeetUp app was something I tried out and would recommend to help meet new people in your area.

-Quique

I’m already divorced, what now?

Did you have a FIRE plan before the Big D or have one now?

Yes, I had a plan:

Sorry about the divorce, hope you are already in or headed to a better place. The first goals for you is to figure out what your path forward looks like and see if you need\want to course correct to still achieve your goals.

Most likely a significant portion of your shared net worth transferred to your former spouse. Based on where you are at now, you need to update your plan.

No, I had no FIRE plan:

Sorry about the divorce, hope you are already in or headed to a better place. You’ve got a great opportunity to start your FIRE journey without any past baggage. Here’s the first spot to stop and read (on first read, he might seem a bit extreme, just get the concepts and you can find your own route): http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

Other posts that might be helpful

To Side Hustle or not to Side Hustle

If you’ve been around the FIRE community for a bit, I’m sure you’ve ran across a dozen people telling you that you need a side hustle. I had…so during my marriage, I tried a couple Side Hustle businesses, which all essentially failed.

Side Hustle Experiments

I tried Amazon FBA, had one product that was doing well but had to stop selling, then my next product was a flop and I closed up shop. Next was Merch By Amazon, I had some success but realized I wasn’t good at making designs, so haven’t done much with it.

Several years ago, I had also tried to start a price comparison website for a specific Niche a few years ago, hired developers through one of the freelance sites, but they never delivered a working product. I dropped the domain and let that idea die.

I’ve got ideas up the wazoo about things I could do as a side hustle or even a primary business, but my previous failures certainly make me even more gun shy than I already was when I tried those.

A friend told me that I just wasn’t taking them seriously before….maybe. I did learn a lot from those efforts at least.

Those who can, do. Those who can’t teach?

From everything I’ve read and watched online, part of me has gotten the idea that it’s easy to make money online. The other part of my brain asks “If it was so easy, why are these people running courses\writing videos, instead of just doing what they are teaching?”

So that leaves me wanting to do something, but fearing failure. I’ve heard the saying “Anything worth doing, is worth doing badly until you can do it right” Guess that means I need to push past the fear 🙂 Funny enough, my boss assigned us to read Who moved My Cheese and I picked it up and finished reading it today. It had some interesting quotes on Fear.

Fast forward a month or so and I’ve started a new Niche website and been looking into other Digital Side Hustles. I also listened to the 4 Hour Work Week Audio book by Tim Ferris. He too makes it sounds all too easy, but it did motivate me to at least take a crack again.

What Side Hustles have you tried?

Finding your purpose

Welcome back friends! One thing that I’ve been putting a lot of thought into, done a lot of reading on and watched about 100 too many YouTube videos on, is finding your purpose.

I’ve seen this idea expressed in a number of ways. Finding your purpose; Leading a purposeful life; Deliberate living; Finding your passion in life; Doing what you love; Living your best life; and on and on.

No matter what you call it, I think it all stems from the idea\frustration that so many of us feel: We are wasting the limited time we have on this giant blue ball doing things we hate\don’t enjoy, not learning new things, doing what is expected of us by society, instead of what we might want.

Why FIRE?

chillax

Interestingly enough, it seems over the last year or so, the FIRE world has started to have this epiphany as well. I know when I first started my FIRE journey, the goal was to save and invest as much money as possible, so I could stop working.  I was buying my own time\freedom back, but the question of what I would do with that time never really came up. Part of me thought I’d sit on a beach and chillax. Lately I’ve realized that would get old after a bit and wouldn’t be a fulfilling life.

Quest for answers

This might sound familiar to you, I hope it doesn’t, but if it does, here are a few things that have resonated with me.

  • The purpose of life is living
  • Life is risky, no one gets out alive, so don’t be so afraid to take risks
  • If you fail at FIRE, worst case you start working again, which is 99% of the world’s reality anyway
  • Joy comes from helping others, which generally brings you happiness as well
  • If you enjoy doing something and are passionate about it, you can probably make some kind of living at it
  • In pursuit of FIRE, it’s important to not stop living in the moment and only focus on the future

Taking all of that in, I now think that after I stop working in my current career, I know I still want to do something involving people, something where I feel like I’m helping others or bringing them joy.

I’m not yet sure if I want to pull the plug sooner on my career and pursue something in that arena earlier and depend on it to supplement my income, or finish my current FIRE trajectory and then not have to worry about earning income from it. I’m leaning towards the earlier side, but we’ll see. I’ve still got time to figure it out.

Have you figured out your life purpose? If so, how did you go about it?

-Quique

Living on Less 101

There’s a ton of great info out there on how to live on less money, some ideas you may deem as extreme, others are pretty straightforward. Let’s consider this the 101 course and I’ll cover some basics…

Budgets Baby!

Know what you are currently are spending. This is fundamental! Most people don’t know where their money is actually going. There’s lots of ways to do this, here are a few options:

  • www.mint.com
  • YNAB
  • Excel\Google Sheets

Once you’ve got a few months of data, you should be able to get a good idea of where the big chunks of your money are going and what areas you may be able to cut back on.

Debt Destroyer!

If you have debt, especially high interest debt, you need to handle it. I’m not going to go into detail on this as I was fortunate to only have mortgage, student loans and vehicle, all at very low interest rates. Here’s a good post if this topic is a problem you have to deal with: Debt Emergency

Savings Samurai

Calculate your current savings rate. Most folks seem to agree that ideally you should be saving greater than 50% of your income if you’re serious about this early retirement thing. I’ve seen a few different ways to calculate this, but what I go with is: all investment savings (401k, company contribution, HSA, etc) divided by after tax salary plus pre-tax investment contributions.

Ex: 18k 401k + 4k company + 12k after tax divided by 48k after tax + 20k before tax contributions = 34,000/68,000 = 50% savings rate

Budget Bloat

Minimize typically large budget areas. Common areas where most people’s budget goes to are and some ideas to reduce these expenses:

Housing

  • Heating\Cooling – Couple degrees warmer in the summer, cooler in the winter
  • Size and location – Do you need as big of a place as you have? Does your location make sense (close to work, parks, public transportation)

Transportation

  • Vehicle – Do you have more than one car? Can you decrease your costs with a cheaper or more fuel efficient car? Do you need a car at all?

Food

  • Eating Out – If this is a big portion of your budget, is it something you could do less often?
  • Groceries – Are you wasting money constantly throwing things out without using them? Buy less or put more thought into meal planning
  • Starbucks – If you’re a regular customer, consider making your own coffee instead

Misc

  • This is a tricky one, try to classify things where it make sense, to avoid this generic category. If there is one or two trends here, ask yourself how important they are to you.

Whatever you identify above, set a goal of trying to reduce a certain percentage. Make sure to invest that money so it doesn’t just get spent somewhere else.

Always remember to pay yourself first,  in this case it’s best to automate your savings so they come out without you having to think about it.

Until next time.

~Quique

Updating Your FIRE Plan

I’m going to assume that you’ve answered the questions at the bottom of my first post , if not, go do that and then come back.

In my case, these were my answers:

How important is holding to that same timeline? Pretty fucking important

Am I willing to work longer in my current job\industry? Hell to the No. If no, am I willing to do some kind of other work to supplement? This took some thought, but the more I thought, the more I realized I didn’t really want to sit on my ass and do nothing anyways, so Yes, yes I was willing to do something else to supplement.

Am I willing to live off less than the two of us had planned on? I always thought I could live happily on a lot less. So yes, just how much less I’m not sure. Seeing what my living costs are going to be now that I’m on my own should be an interesting test.

Once you’ve got those questions answered, it’s time to run some scenarios to update your plan, which means time for firecalc or cfiresim. Punch in your numbers, run the scenarios and come up with your new number and your timeline. I decided that I could tolerate some more risk, live off less and could live somewhere lower cost for the first few years after leaving my current gig and do something to earn a modest income to ideally avoid living completely off my investments.

Depending on how you answered the previous questions, this may look very different from your previous plan and could be depressing or if you’re lucky, you can be happy with the new results.

This left me with some interesting next questions….

How much longer do I keep working at my current gig? I don’t have a full answer on this yet, but I know I’ll keep it up at least until my divorce is final and our assets are split. More to come on this one later…

What kind of other work would I enjoy\makes me happy\would I be good at?

What changes would I need to make to my lifestyle to live on less?

Until next time…Quique