TicTocLife - A Story of Financial Independence
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FIRE Insider
Personal thoughts on financial independence, retiring early, and the FIRE community from Chris & Jenni at TicTocLife.
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Hey Subscriber,

Chris here—
Yeah, I know. We're...more than a little behind on FIRE Insider newsletters. We've barely kept up with our monthly budget posts on TicTocLife.com. I'm way behind on my typical couple-posts-per-month ruminating on the intersection of money and life.

I'm sorry.

But I promise it's for a good reason!

We've been out there doing life—and in big ways!

Saturday, I published our latest monthly update and touched on a subject I'd like to write more about.

If you'll let me, I want to share some personal thoughts on our recent volunteer medical brigade trip. I think it's vital to have these moments of reflection where you get to ask yourself "what's all this money for?"—and find an answer.

Let me set the stage...

Jennifer, myself, and 30+ other volunteers through FNE International and other NGOs operated medical clinics throughout the rural areas surrounding Chiclayo, Peru (check out my just recently published post for more info on these nonprofits!).

We just got back from those two weeks or so in Peru.

The medical clinics included general medicine, pediatric, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and pharmacy services.

Mind you, I'm no doc. But, I could do grunt work!

It's hard to overstate how deep the need is for care in these rural areas—for example, it's tough to work on physical mobility when you live on a dirt floor (and so a "prescription" one day was upgrading to a concrete floor)—the most surprising outcomes were two fold to me:


Part of the goal of these clinics is to get locals into the healthcare cycle and build trust in the system. That's more than just ibuprofen prescriptions and GI distress diagnoses.

It's getting people to trust the providers.

This revealed itself severely at multiple points, but the most memorable was a small group of students & provider volunteers detecting abuse of a young girl during an exam. Confirming this meant carefully separating the family (in attendance) and ensuring the victim felt safe with the volunteers enough to put her on a path to recovery and alerting the appropriate authorities.


But, you can't help without the sort of intentional quality care and time taken to build relationships with patients. This comes from having enough volunteers to provide it.

I was an old dude in the group. There were lots of inexperienced pre-med/med students with high hopes.

Initially, I wondered how we were going to be able to handle the onslaught of patients expected at each clinic.

But, I was taken aback by how these students switched from karaoke and mafia game nights to total professionals at clinic.

Thrust into working with what they had, they built processes and workflow to do whatever they could to help those in need and blast through their comfort zones. Cold showers (when they could get them), lack of sleep, and long dusty bus rides had no chance of stopping them in their mission.

They took the challenge head on!

As much as the people and patients of Peru may have been helped by this group, I suspect that long term, it's the rest of us here at home who will benefit the most from their experience and inspiration to provide quality care in their future careers.

If you're on your FIRE journey with me, and still at the point of building a fortress for your future, you might be wondering how you'll spend your time in early retirement.

I think that you're in good company.

I hope that you'll find something that feels purposeful and meaningful to you in your life. And if you're feeling a little queasy thinking—"I have no idea what that is for me!"

Don't worry too much.

Financial independence is a key to unlocking your ability to pursue that answer for yourself.

For me, this trip has been part of that journey to finding more meaning. It's not something I would have done as your typical 30-something with a career and 2- or 3-weeks of vacation to use annually. FIRE lends itself to giving you more branches on your journey, and for me, this has been a meaningful one to follow.

I hope you can find one to get lost in and maybe just a little hopeful about, too.


PS: I'll have more on this trip and volunteerism in another post this month!

Our latest posts —

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

How We Spent 46 Days in Europe for Under $7K (May Budget)

Discover how we traveled through 3 countries for 6 weeks and cut our costs by half with rewards points. Plus, support a charity that teaches swimming.

By Jenni
While The Netherlands was most certainly our highest cost visit, that didn't stop us from enjoying canals, bikes, and historic windmills!

The Cost of 30 Days Living in Europe (And Our April Budget)

Ronda's stunning bridge connecting the new and the old.
From Spain to the Netherlands, discover how we had a month of European adventure on our FIRE budget. Plus, vote for an active lifestyle supporting charity!

By Chris

The Cost of Missing Our Flight to Madeira (Our March Budget)

After bucking the odds for years, we finally missed a flight! Fortunately, some quick thinking avoided thousands in expenses. Read our monthly FIRE update.

By Chris
We nearly missed Madeira's beautiful banana views alongside our flight from JFK!

How I Saved 50% on Dental Bills Without Tourism or Schools

This is what halfway through spending nearly $2,000 at the dentist looks like!
Despite a $3,600 estimate, I walked away with 3 root canals for nearly half as much from the same provider. Avoid these dental pitfalls and learn how I did it.

By Chris

The Cost of Illness & Health (Our February 2023 Budget)

Over the course of spending multiple weeks ill in February, we began booking our spring travel and sorted out our health and dental insurance changes.

By Jenni
Though it wasn't the C word, February turned out to be an illness and health focused month!

Dental Gotchas and Saving $1,600 (Our January 2023 Budget)

Despite the surprise expenses, we still found fun with the Wizarding World!
Learn how a quick decision on Chris's part managed to cut his dentist bill from about $3,600 to under $2,000! Read our January 2023 FIRE budget update.

By Chris
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Warm regards,
Jenni & Chris

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