TicTocLife - A Story of Financial Independence
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FIRE Insider
The inside scoop on financial independence, retiring early, and the FIRE community from Chris & Jenni at TicTocLife.
Hey [subscriber:firstname | default:Subscriber],

Chris here—welcome to our May edition of the FIRE Insider. It's our little newsletter where we share what we've been writing on TicTocLife, what we've read or listened to and enjoyed around the community, and a little "behind the scenes" with us.

First, Jenni and I have written six articles (again!) since our last newsletter:
  1. Deciding When to Trade 4 Hours to Save $200 Traveling
    Traveling can be expensive so why not try to save money where you can? Would you be willing to trade more driving to save $200 instead of flying closer?
  2. Why You Don’t Need To Worry About Inflation (and the 4% Rule)
    Will inflation wreak havoc with your early retirement plans? Does the 4% rule account for it? And how do you determine how much money to withdraw yearly?
  3. A Rewarding Life: Getting the Most From the Least With Nature
    If achieving financial independence is all about getting the most from the least, might nature unlock satisfaction and excitement along the way?
  4. Lessons Learned From 1 Year of Part-Time Work
    I expected that moving to part-time work would have its benefits. What I didn’t expect was how much I learned about myself.
  5. Two Big Money Milestones (And Our April ’21 Budget Update)
    We join the Double Double Comma Club, reach our donation goal on our first year anniversary, review conservation nonprofits, and scrutinize our budget!
  6. How “Cost of Working” Surprisingly Burdens Your Cost of Living
    My career was costing me over $2,000/month! This is how I cut my “cost of working” and built a faster and more satisfying path to financial independence.
Be sure to cast your vote in this month's donation poll for earth conservation nonprofits! Tomorrow (5/31) is the last day, it only takes a moment, and helps us focus on part of TicTocLife's mission—elevating others! Thank you in advance.

What we've been reading —

If there's one thing you're going to catch from my recommendations...and enjoy thinking of the "bigger picture" when it comes to life with just a dash of existentialism, check out the Kurzgesagt video I detail in the "what we're watching" section below. I think it's a great video to get people thinking critically about their path in life.

Psychology

Think about all the “what if’s” of life and how they could throw a wrench in your FIRE plans. But remember, when you prepare early for retirement you are in a much better situation than if you weren’t prepared for these unlikely scenarios. If you think about it, like Trip of a Lifestyle has, retiring at 60 is way scarier than doing so at 30!

Sometimes it might seem like things are getting worse here in the States, but the data doesn't support that. Dave at Accidental FIRE breaks down the data into consumable maps showing violent crime over different periods of time across the US. Where does your state rank?

How do you feel when you're a walking billboard? 🙂 In this post, Fates on FIRE discusses marketing and psychology as it affects brand loyalty and your own purchasing decisions. Or in Fates' words: "brand whores — the curious case of consumer loyalty."

Relationships

How transparent you are about money can sometimes make or break a relationship. Noel at Happily Disengaged and his wife keep an open conversation about their finances by using "coffee chats". He also shares how he is teaching his 7-year old daughter personal finance.

Money

The National Intelligence Agency released its predictions for 2040. The incredibly interesting report (which neither of us had heard of before!) discusses how current events might affect us 20 years from now. With upheaval in the technology sector and the fallout of the pandemic, FI Guy uses this report to evaluate if he needs to make changes to his current portfolio. Are you prepared for what might come in the years ahead?

Did you know you could hire some of the best human minds for business on planet earth for what's probably equivalent to the average person's monthly phone bill? No, really. Here's how Carl at 1500 Days to Freedom does it. It's made him a bundle, and you can do it too.

In a more whimsical than normal post for JL Collins, we hear a tale from Hitchcock about how a criminal “got away with it”. And while he certainly paid back his debt, the creative approach—and leveraging compound interest (or for us, stock market appreciation)—makes for an interesting story. I’m just not so sure prison—even a short 12 years—would be worth early retirement these days!

Watching Financial Mechanic's story unfold as she takes advantage of her financial situation and makes significant changes to her life, experimenting with what’s “expected”—has been a joy! Now living in Amsterdam, she shares an update with us about her experience moving overseas mid-pandemic, her massive lifestyle changes as she takes on work in the Netherlands, and details the associated costs.

What we've been listening to —

Carl—from 1500 Days to Freedom—and a buddy from MMM HQ started a new podcast! They describe their podcast as:
"Real talk about Financial Independence and life after corporate jobs. Carl Jenson and Doug Cunnington talk about FI, lifestyle, side hustles, health, and anything on their minds."
Their first guest is none other than JL Collins! Check out the episode!



What we've been watching —

Hey, so... I've got a question for you. What are you doing with your life?
Sorry, what's that? A feeling of dread creeping in? Yep, must be another existential Kurzgesagt video!
This video has sparked some great discussion over on the FIRE subreddit. I'll warn you in advance that if you're prone to depression, it could be a trigger (as many of Kurzgesagt's existential videos sometimes can be). That said, I found it terribly interesting and a fantastic reminder of just how short life is—and perhaps most importantly—how much of our life spent with those we care about most is already spent. It's based on an old Wait But Why blog post that is a great read for more detail.

Jenni and I both enjoyed the recent film Nomadland (which was also up for a bunch of awards). However, we both took away different feelings about what it left us with. It was some range between optimism and existential dread. The film shows how a group of like-minded individuals create a community that breaks away from the traditional American Dream (sound familiar?). Millennial Revolution describes the similarities between the Nomad community and the FIRE community from our non-traditional paths to doing the opposite of “what we are supposed to do” in order to find happiness. Our jobs do not define us. Remember that, “each of us serves a purpose, and finding that purpose makes life worth living.”

TicTocLife "Behind the Scenes"


On one year of TicTocLife

May is nearly in the books and it marks our first year of writing on TicTocLife.com! Time sure does fly. I love the simplicity of our first post, looking back on it. I think we've stuck to our original goals pretty well!

It's been amazing developing a community around our writing with you guys. I don't think you all realize how much we appreciate you taking the time to—not only read what we write—but also email, comment, tweet, share...and discuss! We've developed digital friendships with lots of you, had plenty of one-on-one chats to answer a variety of questions, and generally just kept us optimistic about life during the trying time that this pandemic has been. THANK YOU.

Here are some fun stats to share:
  • We've written 79 posts with 204,829 words
  • Readers have contributed 559 comments
  • Our posts have been viewed 172,434 times with the highest being 1,914 in a single day
  • We've had visitors from 202 countries and territories (basically the whole world!)
  • This newsletter has nearly 200 double-verified subscribers
And last, but certainly not least, we've granted $760 to 9 different nonprofits from our Reader's Choice Fund we've built to more than $47K!

Running (into travel season) —

During last month's FIRE Insider (section: "Crawling"), I mentioned we were planning a trip to West Virginia to go rock climbing and to Florida or Georgia for a natural beach escape.

Well, we managed to do all of that! We wound up spending more than two weeks traversing the east coast: road trips, flights, and even a car rental. Our timing let us ring in a new US national park while we were at it—New River Gorge National Park!
new-river-gorge-nps
After exhausting ourselves hiking and climbing around West Virginia with friends, we flew to Orlando to begin our slower-paced beach trip. After spending a year far from any large gatherings, it was a little startling traveling through Orlando's crazy busy airport! It's pretty clear that travel is recovering in some places.

We dealt with the massive rental car price spike (with a fortunate deal through my AMEX business platinum card and Hertz—you can read all about how we decided between flying or driving in Jenni's latest post) and made our way north to Amelia Island just south of Georgia's border. The sleepy town of Fernandina Beach played host for a handful of days as we explored their little downtown and marina. It was a joy to disconnect and spend time together while also taking in a bit of history.

Lastly, we went over the border to Georgia and spent a while on the "Golden Isles"—primarily Jekyll Island. I mentioned a little of the island's history in my own recent post about the 4% rule and inflation—its got a fascinating history with America's central banking system.

Of course, we also spent a day at Georgia's Sea Turtle Rescue Center on the island. Supported by Americorps volunteers, it had me reminiscing about the Peace Corps and the possibilities Jenni and I have moving forward to volunteer directly.

Check out this little dude getting his routine physical:
georgia-sea-turtle-rescue-center-operation-room

From the Readers —

Every week we get thought-provoking comments and questions from our readers. Often they're follow-ups to posts in the comments section, sometimes on Twitter, or occasionally directly via email. We read all of these and reply. They mean a lot to us. We'd like to highlight some of the more interesting comments that might go unnoticed by fellow readers who likely have similar questions.

Here are a couple of standouts since the last newsletter:
  • Reader Alex lamented getting a trick question wrong in a post about the 4% rule and inflation recently. The thing is, the whole post was about a topic I've read or heard misunderstood numerous times! Don't feel bad Alex!
    I fleshed out the logic a bit more which might help others, in my reply.
  • Reader Arman pointed out some confusing math in a post that dealt with investment returns over time. If you've got $100 and it grows to $370, or 3.7x what it was, you've got a 270% return (not 370%)! It's really easy to miss simple stuff like this or confuse something we try to convey. If you catch issues like this, please let us know! Other readers are probably also confused! Thanks a bunch, Arman!
    This is the post and my clarification.
  • Reader Freda asked for some investment tips related to bond allocations as they transition to retirement. Investment advice is something that frequently comes up in the comments, and we can't give financial advice (we are not financial advisors). However, we can do research and convey what seems to be common wisdom or define what we like to do. More importantly, we can help explain exactly how certain funds work or their purposes!
    Check out some tips on a three-fund portfolio and various Vanguard bond funds that often come recommended.
    Lastly, it's not often someone writes "this is the best read I’ve had about overall investing." Thanks, Freda!

Our latest posts —


In case you missed one, here are our latest posts since our last newsletter:

Deciding When to Trade 4 Hours to Save $200 Traveling

Traveling can be expensive so why not try to save money where you can? Would you be willing to trade more driving to save $200 instead of flying closer?

By Jenni
Sure, traveling involves making some money decisions like "is it cheaper to fly or drive?". But don't forget what you're really getting out there for!

Why You Don't Need To Worry About Inflation (and the 4% Rule)

The Jekyll Island Club—part of our recent trip—this is where the bankers used to decide what to do about inflation! It hosted the initial creation of the modern Fed!
Will inflation wreak havoc with your early retirement plans? Does the 4% rule account for it? And how do you determine how much money to withdraw yearly?

By Chris

A Rewarding Life: Getting the Most From the Least With Nature

If achieving financial independence is all about getting the most from the least, might nature unlock satisfaction and excitement along the way?

By Chris
Jenni looking across NaNa dune on American Beach taking in her rewarding life and living in harmony with nature.

Lessons Learned From 1 Year of Part-Time Work

Love your life!
I expected that moving to part-time work would have its benefits. What I didn't expect was how much I learned about myself.

By Jenni

Two Big Money Milestones (And Our April '21 Budget Update)

We join the Double Double Comma Club, reach our donation goal on our first year anniversary, review conservation nonprofits, and scrutinize our budget!

By Chris
In a bid to support Mother Earth, we put our gardening gloves on and review conservation nonprofits this month!

How "Cost of Working" Surprisingly Burdens Your Cost of Living

You might be paying for that office space in ways you never thought of. What's your real cost of working?
My career was costing me over $2,000/month! This is how I cut my "cost of working" and built a faster and more satisfying path to financial independence.

By Chris
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