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.
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Hey Subscriber,

Jenni here wishing you a happy and fun-filled Holiday Season! For us, the next two months will be filled with long-awaited family gatherings, enjoying creative holiday decorations, and, hopefully, lots of travel. We know that time will inevitably fly and 2022 will be here before we know it.

Since our last edition of the FIRE Insider, we've returned from our adventures on the West Coast rejuvenated and ready for more travel. In between planning the next trips and enjoying the changing of the season, we've managed to write five articles since our last newsletter:
  1. Concentration: A Haunting Risk to Your Life’s Investment
    Happy Halloween, so let's talk about something spooky! RELATIONSHIPS! Love & money. How do we so often preach diversifying money investments but then turn around and concentrate our relationships, riding a wave of mania dependent on someone else?
  2. The Social Index Fund (a Moat To Protect and Grow Your FIRE)
    The greatest indicator of success in your FIRE journey is... the quality of relationships in your life. Not cash in your bank account. Not net worth. This is how to apply FIRE principles to create your own "Social Index Fund" and guard against the unexpected source of loss that sinks its teeth into so many of us as our social relationships change on the path to financial independence.
  3. Is Financial Independence Just Escapism? (2 Types of Freedom)
    Is FI just your way to escape? Is it simply to earn your freedom "from" struggles in life? Maybe. But maybe it's also how you replace those struggles, what you add — Freedom "to": Live intentionally or Receive inspiration.
    This post compares the differences between the initial desire to rid yourself of difficulty through financial independence and the long-term goal of replacing what you don't like with what you find meaningful, fulfilling, and valuable.
  4. Losing $60K from Grand Canyon to Griffith (September Update)
    We made it back from our longest trip of the year and invested over $10K. Details below! In honor of our troops, we take a look at charities supporting veterans.
  5. What’s Your “Why”? (And the Point of FI)
    What's your "why" for pursuing Financial Independence? You have to motivate yourself to stretch beyond need, and perhaps most importantly, define what “need” is to you. Reaching for FI is an exercise in defining what you want from life.

What we've been reading —

Chris and I are getting back into the groove of our regular weekly FIRE readings. Here are a few highlights that we think you'd enjoy.


If you are engaged in a tug-of-war with yourself between spending today or saving for tomorrow, you know, it might be healthy! Happily Disengaged explains that it means you're trying to balance love for you now and investment in your future self!

Mad Fientist had a great guest post: an approachable primer on stacking tax benefits to maximize your total reduction (as a percentage). Brandon can get REALLY deep on his own posts, but this is a really solid intro with easy-to-understand examples.

If you're car-shopping, this is a quick and straightforward rundown on the average price vs. reliability of common vehicles on the roadway. I think you'll be surprised to see where the Tesla Model S lands on this list—at least, I was!

And from Mr. Money Mustache: the surprising value of modern heat pumps and delivers quite the rundown on his DIY install process alongside Mr. 1500. Classic MMM DIY!


Noel from Happily Disengaged explains how we might be burning way too many cycles on optimizing our lives and trying to be hyper-efficient. In fact, sometimes, you might get a lot more out of life and your experiences within it by intentionally going slower. Give yourself space to breathe, and to think. To experience. It's anti-optimization.

Q-Fi spins his typically beautiful tale, but instead of something of a yarn that teaches a lesson...we come along on a chronology of challenge and genuine hardship. There's a deep lesson here, but it's a personal one. He asks you to think about what are your real priorities in life?

Michelle from Making Sense of Cents reminds us to celebrate others’ accomplishments and don’t let comparison be the thief of joy. Instead, let others' achievements be a tool of inspiration for your own life and goals.


The fall season brings beautiful colors — but also the dreaded time to think about our health insurance! As you start to do your research, Clipping Chains shares his insight on getting paid to have health insurance. Remember, if you live in the U.S., open enrollment starts on November 1st and goes through December 15th.

Here are some words of advice on insurance from Tanja at Our Next Life, "never consider cheaping out on health insurance, no matter what." This post recalls how a healthy man on a routine mountain bike ride and a jagged spur of granite meet in an unpleasant way. All it takes is one risky move and you'll get your money’s worth for every dollar you've spent on health insurance over your lifetime.

The title might suggest this goes right against Tanja's advice in the previous post, but that's not really the case. Rather, Dave at Accidental Fire explains his anecdotal experiences where having health insurance didn't mean "hey, everything is covered". There's still plenty of pitfalls to avoid!


Traveling can be made a lot cheaper with credit card hacking tips. We think you can really get some good value out of them...and it's kind of fun! Either Chris or I have had all of these cards or their earlier variations and the annual reward hotel nights can be really valuable if properly planned for and leveraged! Thanks to Go Curry Cracker for putting this post together. This leads me to another reward post...

The Southwest companion pass can be a great way to save on flights but earning 125,000 is a lot of points! Jim from Route to Retire lays out the tips you need to qualify for your companion pass no matter if you are a low to big spender.

What we've been listening to —

Over on The Earn & Invest Podcast, I enjoyed hearing the personal finance stories from CampFI Southwest 2021 from all of the participants. We have yet to go to a get-together like this but hearing all of these accounts is very intriguing.

Chris found an interesting Q&A session with Mile High FI that took place at The Extraordinary Event, put on by their last guest – Alan Donegan. The Q&A covered a range of topics, but here are a few highlights:
- When Pete started Mr. Money Mustache, did he expect it would be the phenomenon that it is?
- Alan, Carl, and Pete discuss what’s next for them
- Morning routines (or lack thereof)
- Internal barriers to FI
- Is the prospect of making money still motivating?
- How to convince a partner to get on board with FI
- Surprises about FI life

From the Readers —

We can't tell you how much we appreciate every comment, tweet, or email we get from our readers. Knowing that we have shared something with you, our readers, that sparked a thought or an idea is why we continue to do what we do.

We have received several kind words lately and here is a couple that we are pretty proud of.
  • An email from a reader titled: Quality Content
    • Redundancy intended.... really quality content. If members of the FI community have any complaints, after reading your last few posts, they cannot say it is with "eyes shut". Funny how all those things said to you growing up hold true.... balance, moderation (money, fun, life, friends, relationships) ..... marathon not sprint... we need voices like yours to remind us of these all the time.... especially living in the work centric DMV. btw: Living a FI article link was so thought provoking....
  • A glowing comment from a reader TC
    • I really enjoyed reading your article and it’s very well written. It’s amazing how finance talk/news is numbingly boring for those not on the wheel. Now I’ve started investing in my own retirement fund I just can’t get enough...
  • Reader Lynx says he is ready to work on his Social Index fund
    • Great article Chris. As someone who stepped away less than a month ago this is something I definitely need to work on.

From the Community —

Another exciting thing is to see our articles featured on some of the best platforms in the FI community. We are very proud to be featured lately in:

TicTocLife "Behind the Scenes"

How we've spent our time —

Chris took a solo bike trip getting away from his daily distractions. This time away from it all let him enjoy a little bit of nature and relax out on the open Creeper Trail. He caught up with some old college friends and had some time to expand his posts on his money mindset theme.

I've let the DIY bug bite me again and I got some minor work done around the house. For the bigger projects, we still need to find quality help. How do you find the right contractor for the job? Reach out and let us know how you've found quality contractors for projects outside your comfort zone.
We also want to thank you for helping us give back to our community by casting your vote in our Reader's Choice DAF poll. Each month, we research several vetted charities related to the month's theme and let you cast your vote for who is the most deserving. Last month, we highlighted three organizations offering Aid to U.S. Veterans. And the winner was K9s For Warriors who will be receiving a donation of $162.

Until next time,
Chris & Jenni

Our latest posts —

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

Concentration: A Haunting Risk to Your Life's Investment

If standard personal finance advice is to diversify your investments, might we apply the same reasoning to our most concentrated relationship investment?

By Chris
Dependency through lack of diversification might be spooky in life beyond just your financial investments!

The Social Index Fund (a Moat To Protect and Grow Your FIRE)

A tribe? A group? Your people? A "social index fund" might be exactly what you need to have a sustainable path from financial independence to early retirement!
FIRE can create a hole in the fortress of your life's social structure that, left untouched, might be your downfall. The solution? A "social index fund"!

By Chris

Is Financial Independence Just Escapism? (2 Types of Freedom)

Is FIRE really just a way to escape the challenge and repetition of modern working life? Sure, it frees you from what you hate—but I think there's more.

By Chris
Something freedom offers: the ability to be inspired. Autumn called me to Appalachia for color, respite, and biking. So I went.

Losing $60K from Grand Canyon to Griffith (September Update)

Overlooking Sedona from the Scheurman Trail. We packed a lot of hikes in the month.
We made it back from our longest trip of the year and invested over $10K. Details below! In honor of our troops, we take a look at charities supporting veterans.

By Jenni

What's Your "Why"? (And the Point of FI)

Is your pursuit of financial independence defined by "needs" or "wants"? And what's that have to do with your chances of success and satisfaction afterward?

By Chris
Have you taken a moment to genuinely contemplate your reasoning behind pursuing Financial Independence?

We Blew a Hole in Our August Budget (and We Head West)

Overlooking the Grand Canyon from Cedar Ridge near the South Rim. This is how we closed out August!
Surprise! We overspent our budget big time—and share the details! We also review refugee nonprofits as our summer travel goes west!

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