Another successful trip around the sun has passed, so it’s time for our year-end review. Overall, 2016 was a resounding success for us in the following areas:
Work * From January to May we finished out our teaching jobs in Douglas, Georgia. After many years of teaching, both my wife and I were ready for a change. Living by the school bell gets really old after a while, so we decided to leave our jobs again. We had considered staying for a possible third year, but Edwina was adamant that her job was becoming detrimental to our family time. (Her job required longer hours than mine, and she spent many a weekend on club trips and excessive planning.) As my loyal readers already know, it’s never difficult for me to quit a job, so I graciously followed my wife’s lead. Sure, another year of teaching would have resulted in $100k+ in savings, but it was time to move on.
Here are the referral links for the credit cards we currently use:
Hardcore Savings * In spite of only working five months this year, we we able to save $86,358 in 2016. From January to August, we zeroed out our paychecks by having them invested in our 457 and 403b accounts. (Our combined paychecks were 26¢…front-loaders until we die!) After the sale of our home in November of 2015, we were flush in cash, so in January I funded our HSA and ESA for 2016. Here’s our 2016 hardcore savings recap:
Net Worth * After years of hardcore savings, we finally hit the $1 million dollar mark in 2016. The net worth total below was taken on December 31st and includes an estimated monetary value of $30,000 for all of our travel hacking points. Even without that amount, we still had a $1 million dollar net worth for the year. It felt great to finally pass this milestone, but we’re still the same people we’ve always been. Going forward, we plan on living modestly and letting our portfolio work for us.
Family * 2016 has been a tough year for our families. Many of you remember that in March my brother-in-law in Tifton, Georgia passed away after a long battle with cancer. Because we lived only an hour away, we were able to visit him frequently before he died. After that difficult experience, it got really crazy in June when my ten-year-old nephew had a heart transplant and my normally super-healthy father-in-law required immediate heart surgery. In July, my father experienced complications from his type-2 diabetes and had to have two toes removed. A few weeks later we learned that he had a staph infection from his wound. In an instant, we suddenly had three family members in very precarious health conditions.
Fortunately, my nephew is doing great after his heart transplant. However, when we went to visit him at the hospital in Atlanta, we weren’t sure if he would make it. Because there was the possibility that his body might reject his new heart, he had to spend three months in the hospital before he was released. Having to spend so much time cooped up in a hospital room made the poor boy miserable. I’m just glad he was strong enough to survive his surgery and the subsequent hospital stay…that boy is as tough as a two-dollar steak!
Both my father and father-in-law finally made it home after lengthy hospital stays. My father-in-law is due to have a pacemaker later this month, and my Dad is still trying to regain his strength after battling his staph infection. In all honestly, I’m just happy to still have them around because it was touch and go there for a while. The silver lining: because we weren’t burdened with jobs, we were able to help our families out during a difficult and stressful time.
Mexico Trip * On October 31st we travel to Mexico where we spent two months. We would have left for Mexico earlier, but we waited until our medical crises stabilized. In November, we rented an Airbnb apartment in Cancun for the entire month. Later, we rented an apartment in Progreso where we spent most of December. During our two months in Mexico we also made trips to Valladolid and Merida. (I’ll recap our trip in an upcoming post.)
During our time in Cancun we were able to process the paperwork for our Mexican permanent residency visas. (We finally got them in December…post to come!) We decided to come back to the U.S. before the end of December so that we could visit our ailing fathers.
Roth IRA Conversion Ladder * In December I converted $30,000 of a traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. I plan on converting $25,000 a year over the next four years. If you’re wondering what a “Roth IRA conversion ladder” is, here’s the short answer: it’s a way to reduce or eliminate income taxes on your traditional IRA accounts. (For more detailed information read: #1, #2, and #3.) Our goal is to eventually have at least $200,000 in our Roth IRA accounts so that we have a pot of tax-free retirement savings.
Jogging Streak * On July 10th I went for a puny twelve-minute jog, and I haven’t missed a day of jogging since. I recently passed the half-year mark by finishing jog #183; I jogged for 30 minutes and it felt great. Jogging a little every day improves my conditioning, clears my mind, and adds structure to my days. Now let’s see if I can keep it going…
My Goals for 2017
Okay, I’m not going to go crazy here with bold declarations. Here are three goals that I hope to work on a little every day in 2017.
- Keep jogging and working on my fitness. I think I have enough momentum on this goal to keep it going. Plus, I no longer have a job to screw up my schedule. Basically, I have no excuses to blow off exercise. A side goal to this goal is to continue my push-ups, sumo squats, and Pilates that I added to my routine about two months ago.
- Write a little blogging content every day. My regular readers know that I’m not a prolific blogger. It’s not that I don’t have any ideas to share, it’s just that I’m easily distracted and a little lazy…plus, I’m FIRE’d! Once again, no bold statements, but I’d like to write one blog post a month. I could easily do that if I finished some of my draft posts.
- Try to make $120 from my blog this year. Ten bucks a month should be doable, right? I don’t plan on building a blogging empire, but it would be nice to finally monetize my blog. Let’s see if I can turn 200 nickels a month on this blog. You probably noticed that I didn’t mention taking a job in 2017, so I need to seriously explore this potential income source.
Alright, that’s my 2016 recap and those are my humble goals for 2017. How was your year? What do you think about my goals, am I lazy or too ambitious?
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This Post Has 17 Comments
Good to hear you are still doing great. I look forward to hearing about all your adventures. My wife just started teaching this year and although we are front loading our savings rate is amazing at about 65%. Be careful with the jogging, its bad for big guys knees and joints. Listen to your body so you don’t have to get a replacement. Keep blogging more.
Hello Josh! Wow, a 65% savings rate is killer; you guys are doing great. As for the jogging, I am very careful to listen to my 53-year-old body. I only jog for time and never for distance…that way I avoid “junk” miles. Most of my jogs are 15″ to 18″ long. Jogging keeps me moving and gets me outside. I’m also very fortunate to have no lingering joint problems after all those years of basketball.
I’m currently hammering out a few blog post, so more are on the way. Good luck hammering the rest of the school year. Ed
Looking good, Ed! Happy new year!
I’m definitely interested in that Mexican permanent residency post, so keep em coming! I’ve thought about spending more time in Mexico ( http://rootofgood.com/retiring-abroad-could-we-do-it/ ) but the schooling thing is my main hang up.
I’m not sure I could handle the homeschooling (or want to handle it anyway), and don’t want to pay for local schools.
We’re in a good spot with schools where we are now (best middle school and on track for a guaranteed spot in the best HS for the oldest 2 kids – 3rd kid is back in the lottery).
Anyway, keep having fun down south!
Happy New Year to you Justino! We’re currently in the States to visit family. We’re not sure when we’ll go back, but we’re certainly going back. I don’t think we can homeschool next year because it’s a lot of work for Edwina and it often leads to a sour student-teacher relationship at home. We spent a lot of days inside trying to catch up on schooling; it’s kinda hard to have fun in Mexico when you’re dragging your son through school. For that reason, we’re thinking about putting him in a private school next year so that he can learn Spanish and be around other kids. Since we only have one child, it wouldn’t break our budget.
I’ll try to have that permanent residency article ready next week. My writer’s block seems to be in remission for the time being, so I’m writing while I can! Back to the salt mine…
What a nice salt mine you’re in! 😉
Interesting that the homeschooling is trying even as a professional educator. I could see it stressing our relationship with our kids, too.
We already spend a ton of time making sure our kids are doing the assigned work from school including checking an extensive amount of homework from the 6th grader’s “condensed” math class that covers 6th, 7th, and most of 8th grade. The teacher treats the kids like college students and rarely or never checks the homework and doesn’t always provide answer keys so there’s a link missing in the feedback loop (and our daughter failed the first test of the year miserably because we didn’t realize she stopped doing her homework and no one was checking it!).
We’re back on track now (thanks, FIRE!) and she’s getting A-ish grades in math and most other subjects so the hybrid of 90% regular public school plus parental overlording (well, just “parenting” as it should be done, I suppose 🙂 ) is working well.
Teaching your kids, or anyone else’s, is no joke. It requires a lot of mental and emotional energy. I’d say our kids have some incredible advantages in life: natural smarts (thanks gene pool!), an environment of expectations, and when needed, hovering parents. I wish my son were more of an independent learner, but he’s in the fifth grade. All I cared about back then was playing basketball, reading sports books, and watching Monday Night Football. Book on anything other than sport? Ha! With a little parental oversight, I’m sure they’ll all turn out fine. But boy, if you don’t do what you’re supposed to, I’ll be on you butt like…
What a nice surprise getting a new post from you! We enjoy hearing about how things are progressing!
Sounds like you had some good times peppered with some very difficult family stuff. We can relate as the last 18 months have been challenging for my wife’s side.
As I think I may have mentioned we are looking at big changes too. This month I need to tell my principal that I am going to take a year sabbatical. Not looking forward to that conversation however we are looking forward to travel starting out with Zion , Hawaii and then maybe Thailand? The biggest challenges seem to be wrapping myself around paying $15k out of pocket in healthcare premiums as we are gonna spend time here in USA too as we have two college kids to stay in touch with between trips. Spending so many years putting money into the savings it will be weird pulling it out. Do you have any suggestions on the insurance front?
Lastly going to the Home Schooling thing has me wondering if my daughter will take to it? How stressful will it will be on the parents? Sounds like it has been somewhat stressful in your home on that front too.
Are you finding you have any trouble keeping busy? This coming fall will be the first time in twenty four years I don’t head back to the classroom. As you know teaching is so encompassing I wonder how it will go for me sometimes? People I talk to who have retired tell me they got even busier? They say they can’t figure out how they had time to work. Have you had a similar experience?
Happy New Year Chris. I hope your wife’s side of the family is getting better. Life can get crazy at times, but we have to keep on living. That sabbatical sounds great, and I know what you mean about “the talk.” The conversation with your principal will probably be a non-event…you know how that goes: we imagine a worst-case scenario unfolding and it never happens.
The $15k in insurance premiums almost made me shoot coffee out of my nose. Last September we moved to Tennessee, so we had to get insurance for the remainder of 2016. Based on our income of $45k, we were told that we didn’t make enough money to have our son on our insurance policy. He was put on the TN CHIP program. Thanks to a subsidy my wife and I had to pay $40 a month for our insurance. For 2017, we used the same $45k income number. This time we are all on the policy, and we qualified for a subsidy of $1,800+. In other words, we don’t have an insurance payment for 2017. I don’t know what to tell people about health insurance. You might want to try getting a quote from Healthcare.gov to see what they come up with. (I found the people at Ehealthinsurance.com to be very helpful if you hit a snag at the government website.)
Homeschooling could go either way depending on your daughter. If she’s the type of person who likes to get things done and “clear the deck,” it might be easy. However, if she’s a procrastinator, you could find yourself pushing and prodding her to get her lessons done. My son is bright and a good student, but some days I’d rather be at the dentist’s office. I told my wife that she’s working way too hard on the homeschooling. Her time would be better spent teaching in a public school and at least earning a paycheck. I don’t want another homeschooling year like this one.
I always seem to stay busy with reading, jogging, and exercise. The “problem” is that my days are not structured for me like they were at school. Also, I don’t seem to get much accomplished because I don’t have any big goals right now. After years of being very goal-oriented, I tried taking a break from that mentality. This year I’m trying to get more content written for my blog because I need goals. The thought of going back to work does not appeal to me these days. I don’t miss the early morning starts, the responsibility of teaching distracted teens, staff meetings, etc. What I do miss is banking the $10k a month that my wife and I could earn as teachers. We are not opposed to jumping in for a year again, but we understand that the money comes at a hectic cost.
Have a great second semester Chris and best of luck, Ed
Thx for your honest answers Ed.
As far as subsidies it seems those may vanish with our unfortunate election results. He claims the ACA needs to be repealed and replaced. I believe one of this may come to pass I am thinking a lot of FI’ers are sweating this? How about you?
The home schooling thing is a big question. I am meeting with a couple other families looking for a system/curriculum that will work. My wife is concerned about her keeping up. I am thinking that it wouldn’t take much time to get the basics as we both know there is a lot of down time in a school day. I am also concerned with her getting an adequate amount of social and not getting bored? . Have you found social to be a challenge when you are traveling? How do you approach that as we both are parents of one child around 9 years old?
I hear ya on the distracted teens and meetings! What gets to me is the repetition. I have probably taught my intro safety activity over 200 times. It’s getting old and since it’s required it’s hard to stay “passionate”!
Lastly are you finding other new friends to gang out with? I am assuming lots of people our age are busy working? It’s hard for me to imagine cause I am normally stuck in my cave (school shop).
Thanks for helping me think this thru with someone who’s been there.
Hey Guys! I stumbled upon your blog last night and was thrilled to find you and see you are doing well! What an inspirational story! I am completely motivated to get out of debt and start my journey toward financial freedom! I am toying with starting a blog as well. I will let you know if I do. I look forward to more posts and pics of the family! Hello to the Mrs. We miss her at school!
Great to hear from you Kristal. Thanks for all you did for our “Eduardito.” If you ever have any questions, just shoot me an email. FYI: you do have one good investment option (among many bad ones). Email me for more info. The better half is busy with homeschooling duties this year, but she can at least sleep in a little. We are both happy to be off the school-bell hamster-wheel for a while. Have a great second semester. Ed
Another inspiring post! Thank you and Happy New Year!
About retiring, here is an interesting article about Salinas, Ecuador. I didn’t know they also use dollars.
Thank you Jurema and Happy New Year to you! I sent the article to my reader, so I’ll check it out this week. Stay tuned because I have more posts coming. Ed
You can totally make $10 a month! Oh my gosh. Your knowledge is crazy impressive. I always learn so much. I hope your family’s health situations continue to improve. I cannot wait to read more about Mexico. Cheers to 2017!
We’ll see how my attempt to monetize the blog goes. Mexico was fun as usual. All family members are now trending in the right direction; it was scary there for a while. Happy New Year and learn’em good. (I used to love telling the students on the first day of class, “I look forward to learnin’ ya good this semester.” The looks were priceless.)
Congratulations on hitting one million net worth!!!!
Thanks, it was great to pass the mark, and now it’s time to let our portfolio do the heavy lifting. We’ll keep adding to it here and there, but it’s good to have a financial base under our feet.