TicTocLife - A Story of Financial Independence
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How Do You Live Below Your Means Today?


By Chris

Since our last newsletter in early October, I've shared three stories about my path to financial independence and the position we're in now as examples to those around us.

I talked about how to use your secret superpower to be a healthy comparison to those around you as a teacher, mentor, and example. By surrounding yourself with people who exemplify the standard of living you wish to replicate, comparison can help keep you in a steady-state of living below your means.

How Comparison Is the Thief of Joy and Your Superpower

I don't know about you, but I don't feel like I've been bored in my life since I was literally a child. There's so much to learn, to experience, to take pleasure in. The pandemic has made it a little harder, but one thing that has kept me socializing with friends is video games! I feel like they get a bad rap as a waste of time and a money pit, but they don't have to be.
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Looks like this certainly falls into "unpopular opinion" territory!
Avoiding scammy "free-to-play" addictive games and sticking to deep strategy games have not only afforded me an inexpensive source of entertainment, but also one with learning since I was a child. In a weird way, I'd argue they were one of the original seeds to my path to financial independence: they taught me about compound interest, debt, and long term investment in games like SimCity, Civilization, and Railroad Tycoon.

3 Video Games That Are Good for You and Made Me Wealthy

Did you know that 55% of Americans back when the economy was humming along in 2018 spent all or more than their total income annually? That's a lot of folks that don't live below their means. If you're not yet living within your means, it probably comes down to housing, transportation, and food expenses. These "Big 3" account for 63% of the average budget. Once you're living within your means you can start working to live below your means which takes your financial strategies up a notch. There are some psychological tricks to employ to make that happen.
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I think a key is having people around you that resemble your goal: it's easier to match the Joneses when they're in Hyundais and Levis instead of BMW and Gucci.

Live Below Your Means: Your Path to Financial Freedom

Side gigs

You might recall from a previous newsletter (and a couple tweets) that we became the proud owners of a pickup truck full of office equipment recently. We've been renovating, refurbishing, upgrading, and repairing it all over the last month or so. Some of it has already found a new home (we'll have some fun income to show in our October monthly budget report!).

But some parts are staying with us! We managed to cobble together what I think is a pretty nice computer setup for Jenni in what is now her attic office.
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Jenni's new desktop computer office setup.

Now I just need your help in convincing her to write more on TicTocLife! :-) In her defense, a coworker is out on paternity leave (hurray!) and she's been filling in.

What else have we been up to?

We've been taking in the last warm days around here (occasionally cracking 80 degrees!) before it turns dreary and chilly with winter on the doorstep. Lots of hikes and bike rides (though one minor injury I alluded to on Instagram will slow the rides down).

We ran across this large grouping of stones at the outset of several trailheads on one of our hikes. They've all been painted with various sayings on them. A nearby sign suggested carrying one along with you on your walk and leaving it somewhere to the side of the trail for other folks to find and enjoy. Seemed like a neat idea!
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Just don't put them in the middle of the trail where I'd hit them riding! :-)

Animal Welfare Donation: Last Week to Vote!

This month's donation topic is animal welfare and shelters around our state of Virginia. It's the last week to vote so be sure to take a look at the choices and submit your choice. It only takes a moment!
  1. Operation Paws for Homes
  2. Life Unlimited of Virginia Inc (Rikki’s Refuge)
  3. Richmond Animal League
Reader's Choice FIRE Fund Donation

Personal Finance Favorites on the Web

Below are the articles we've read since the last newsletter that really struck a chord with either of us. Give them a read, check out the authors, expand your information sources with these quality creators.

  1. The Man Who Retired at 27: Why You Should Consider House-Hacking - Mr. Money Mustache
    "But fear not. You absolutely don’t have to go to these extremes in order to become financially independent. Because all you need is enough money, so that you no longer have to think about the stuff. House hacking is simply a very powerful tool to get you there much faster."
  2. The inventor of the ‘4% rule’ just changed it - Marketwatch
    This article might not go in the direction you expect. Either way, it's best to think of the 4% rule as a rule of thumb for those retiring early and creating their initial plans.
  3. Three Years Of Early Semi-Retirement, Is It What’s It’s Cracked Up To Be? - Accidental FIRE
    A summary of Dave's experience switching to part-time work once FI and whether or not it's been worth it. He talks about how there's been significant changes to his core values and way of thinking, his "OS".
  4. How My Investing Has Changed After Financial Independence - Physician on FIRE
    Even far beyond FI, PoF is still working to expand his investments and takes on ever more eclectic types of them. Why? "This website has a charitable mission, and we’ve been able to donate over $300,000 in online profits as of October 2020."
  5. Abolish the Early Retirement Police - Financial Mechanic
    "Abolishing the early retirement police means broadening and updating the definition of retirement. If you consider yourself retired and have the means to stop ‘working’ if you so desire, you can call yourself retired! Vigilantes who claim otherwise are ultimately wasting their time and distracting from the true pearl of FIRE: when you are financially free, you have the option to shun obligations, pursue passions, and work how you want."
  6. Everything You Need to Know About the S&P 500 - Minding My Thirties
    I started reading this article from Liz and thought to myself: "I'm pretty sure I know how the S&P 500 works", but I sure didn't know about the history behind it or how it got its name!
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Halloween is around the corner and while our neighborhood's is sadly canceled, we're wishing you a happy and safe Halloween.

This is likely our last newsletter until a week or two into November. If you're in the US, please exercise your right to vote!

Chris & Jenni

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    See an article from our favorites a friend might like? Forward this newsletter onto them!

    Our Latest Posts


    Incase you missed one, here's our latest posts since our last newsletter:

    Live Below Your Means: Your Path to Financial Freedom

    Creating financial freedom in your life takes a conscious effort to live below your means. It's not deprivation, it's a concerted choice—and you can make it.

    By Chris
    Too often the wisdom that you should live below your means is interpreted as some sort of deprivation. I argue that it's making conscious decisions about spending instead.

    3 Video Games That Are Good for You and Made Me Wealthy

    3 video games that are good for you and how they helped me on my journey to financial independence.
    Are there video games that are good for you today? I'd attribute 3 video games to my success on the path to financial independence when I was young.

    By Chris

    How Comparison Is the Thief of Joy and Your Superpower

    Is comparison the thief of joy? Comparing yourself to others has mixed results and you can wield it to your advantage. It can be your weakness or superpower!

    By Chris
    Don't let comparison be the thief of joy in your life. Comparisons are shrouded in haze not unlike the summit of financial independence. Photo: Concepción volcano in Nicaragua before our hike.
    If you found an article we wrote that a friend might like, forward this newsletter to them!
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    Thanks again for subscribing to our infrequent newsletter. We both hope you're enjoying TicTocLife as much as we are. If you have feedback about this newsletter, you can reply directly or use our Contact form.

    Warm regards,
    Jenni & Chris