So, who am I?
Before we dive in to my need for a financial reset, let me introduce myself. I’m a mid-thirties, married with no kids, dog parent of three, addicted to all things cycling, nature loving weirdo. I am lucky to have a great paying job where I sell commercial HVAC equipment to regional mechanical contractors. Yes, my job is as boring as it sounds but it comes stacked with a shit ton of stress and workload so what’s not to love. I’ve been at this company for 10 years and the pay is about the only thing worth showing up for. All that being said, I have it easy. I have no excuses for ever struggling with finances or saving for retirement. So why the need for a reset?
Simple. I’ve lost my way.
But we’ve all been there, right? Going through the stale motions of life.. Work, eat, sleep, repeat. Then one day you stop and think, how did I get here? Wasn’t there a plan I was following? Didn’t I have goals to accomplish?
My first attempt at FI
Let’s jump back a few years to 2017. I was living a solid paycheck to paycheck lifestyle, zero savings, running a negative cash flow most months, and slowly drowning in consumer debt.
Our combined annual gross income was just over 100k with a debt balance around 35k consisting of two car loans, a personal loan, and credit cards. Even though my wife and I shared finances, I undoubtedly was the main problem.. I spent money like an
asshole idiot and it was exhausting.
Eventually, I recognized that lifestyle wasn’t sustainable. I would spend the next year and a half trimming excess spending and paying down debt aggressively. By early 2019, both cars were paid off, personal loan gone, no credit card debt, built up a small cushion of savings, and I was making month contributions to retirement accounts.
It felt great. I felt proud.
So much so, I started this blog to blog about how amazing of a job I was doing. The big mistake I made, I didn’t reset my goals or transition to phase two a savings plan. I got an ego and even worse, I got comfortable. The enormous fear of rising debt and living paycheck to paycheck drove me to say no to spending money on crap I didn’t need. Once that was gone, I fell right back to those old habits. And the blog was forgotten.
The year of mistakes
Boy did I spend dumbly in 2020… buying things I didn’t need like the latest electronics, clothes, cycling related gadgets, car thingies, and eating out too much. The list goes on and on. I always talked myself in to unneeded purchases with the argument of I deserve this thing or that. The worst was upgrading to newer model vehicles before I had the cash to buy them outright. Maybe it was the world was ending and idgaf anymore. Who knows. Either way I ran up some pretty serious tabs.
By the time the dust settled in early 2021, $50,000-$55,000 was easily vaporized by lack of discipline or plan, guh. I did start to rein in my terrible spending in 2021 but I got hit with some serious home repairs like HVAC unit ($10k), water heater ($3k), removing two extremely expensive, massive trees ($9.5k), fence ($4k), and gutters/soffit replacement ($2.5K). One small victory, I never stopped contributing to 401k and I was able to max out IRAs and HSA in 2020 and 2021.
It all sounds bleak. I do have regrets of poor spending and opportunities lost but it is in the past now. No need to dwell. All I can do is be better. Got to give yourself some grace, ya know.
Where I am today and beginnings of the financial reset
I spent most of November researching how I’m spending, linking up those tracking apps, and setting out short term and long term goals. Here is my net worth snippet from end of November.
I won’t break it all down now but Cash total is after most bills have been paid for the month, I do have a chunk of savings included in Investments, and 1/3 of Credit will be expensed through work.
Is the net worth where it should be? No. Still carrying those auto loans and my credit is a bit high. Many areas to improve but I think I can turn this around with a much needed financial reset.
Short term goals: Keep contributing to 401k and IRAs/HSA. Pay down the car loans faster or even downgrade vehicle. Possibly set up some budgets. I’m neither anti-budget nor full tilt budgeter but I will have to monitor more closely.
Long term goals: Starting 2022 I will aim to max out 401k and push total annual savings back up above 40%. Focus on side hustles and brining in 2nd and 3rd incomes. Cut out wasted time on things that don’t bring me joy or make me money.
Le grand départ
There is my quick financial backstory. Like with any problem, you have to accept there is one before you can begin to solve it. I have to say I’m motivated and excited to jump back on the path to FU money again. I’ve missed this community.
I plan to post regularly with updates of my financial reset progress, defining my idea of financial independence, my investment strategies, and other money topics I can nerd out on.
If you made it to the end, two things… Thank you so much for reading and forgive the hurriedly informal nature of this post. I am great at a lot of things, grammar is not one of them.