It’s been a while since I’ve written about anything financial and I thought it’s about time I get back to the reason this blog exists: money. A little public navel-gazing has always helped me progress, so let’s have at it.
Somewhere around 2015 I lost steam in tracking financial progress through blogging. You can see the decline pretty obviously on the page where I post the archives related to personal finance and money matters. [<-hover & click!] This is a good thing, I think. I began this blog in 2010, initially as a means to track my progress out of debt. I was a broke, indebted and house-poor student at the time, in a miserable relationship with a drug addict. This was the starting point of Nickel by Nickel. Over time I shed the debt, the shitty boyfriend and the house. I became debt-free, achieved savings goals and eventually began sniffing that beautiful thing called Financial Independence. Overall, I consider the decline and lack of writing on this blog in regards to my finances A Very Good Thing! I’ve really changed my focus in life away from simply living to work, or working to live to; living life more fully. That doesn’t mean that life overall has gotten easier per se, but the financial aspect of it certainly has.
In 2017 I began the first of my 2 stints of government contracts and through the end of 2017 I was largely on auto-pilot and focused on savings and becoming financially independent. I also had a very difficult time personally through 2017 and spent time working on myself physically and emotionally. Fun time was spent on planning and executing my first Around the World trip at the end of 2017. Through 2018 I barely blogged at all about anything, and my finances remained largely on auto-pilot, I focused on savings, maximizing vacation time on travels and a second RTW followed at the end of 2018.
Near the end of 2018 I was discussing leaving my full-time employment contract to start working part-time instead. It is not, and has never been my life’s passion to work full-time until I drop dead. I started discussing this here, in this post: https://nickelbynickelblog.wordpress.com/2018/04/08/updates-and-plans/. [<-hover & click!] I talked this through thoroughly with my boyfriend at the time, as it meant also relying on a future with him, as it would have been stupid for me to leave a reliable job only to end up single and homeless within a short-time, as I had sold my house and moved in with him, I needed to know that we would plan our future together, and we did decide to do that. I am still on the fence on whether this was a wise choice, but time will tell.
My contract with the federal government was renewed but I left that last contract early, as I explained vaguely and quickly in this post https://nickelbynickelblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/26/a-conclusion-to-2018/. [<-hover & click!] I felt pretty bad, giving notice that I was leaving them right after they told me they wanted to keep me on… but I did. For the first time in my employment life I actually left a job early. On October 3rd 2018 I finished my last full-time job and I have not worked another contract or “normal” job since. The simple summary for this decision being that over a decade of more-than full-time employment and 1 burnout had left me very tired, and just so very tired overall and ultimately I couldn’t see myself continuing the rest of my life as I had over the past decade. We all want fulfillment right? A job that makes you actually happy? I had found a job that I did actually enjoy there and it gave me more direction on what to pursue for my future. Without giving too much detail, the most enjoyable part of my job was assisting people in navigating government processes, helping and research is something that comes naturally to me and I wanted to pursue this further, albeit on a part-time basis.
I also enrolled for accounting at Athabasca in the fall of 2018 but ended up not continuing after flunking the first course as the material was frankly just much too dry and difficult to get through online. Sidenote: If you are interested in pursuing Athabasca’s online Accounting degree; don’t. Perhaps that is material for another post but not today!
The day after my last day at work we left for another RTW for a couple of months and after our return from that RTW in 2018, we spent more time traveling through the winter of 2019 and more through 2019 culminating in another RTW at the end of 2019. Three RTW’s in just over 2 years, pretty awesome :). My goals for 2019, then, were:
“to increase my NW to $220,000, monthly passive income to come in at $385/month.“
Which I did not quite achieve, but that’s okay! My monthly passive income, according to my portfolio spreadsheet has remained fairly stable since the end of 2019, fluctuating between $350-$395 a month.
Through 2019 I spent most of my time… catching up, really. I began landscaping, planting trees and we continued working on our own businesses. I continued to have several other income streams (1-seasonal properties, 2-events sales, 3-passive income) and I didn’t notice any decrease in income overall. In the summer of 2019 I enrolled to become IRCC certified to be able to formally assist immigrants with immigration procedures. Between working on the program, developing a business plan and my three income sources I had plenty to stay occupied with. The start of 2020 was no different for me and in fact I would have been set to earn more than in 2019 mostly due to the event sales picking up steam, continuing the trend of increasing income and increased savings every year since the beginning of this journey in 2010.
And then this corona-virus came around, and I watched all my income streams dwindle to nearly $0 over the span of about 1 week in March. My seasonal property income soon followed and was reduced to nearly zero from April through mid-June when the Atlantic Bubble (:face_with_rolling_eyes:) opened. That income has not returned to normal, and it won’t until travel resumes. I expect both those income streams to remain at nearly zero for quite some time. I finished up the course for immigration consulting at the end of June and am now working towards the final licensing requirements, hopefully this will add a fourth income stream in 2021.
For 2020 overall I have been okay, Tom is also debt-free and the largest portion of our spending annually is really on “fun stuff”, travel takes up a big portion. In 2019 my single largest expenditure was approximately $4,000 on travel (snowboard trip to the rockies, 2 weeks for fun to Las Vegas/California, car camping in Nova Scotia, a week in Toronto in the summer, and another 2 month RTW at the end of the year). My other large annual expense is “spending money”, which encompasses restaurants, clothing, hobbies and simply frivolous spending, $5,500 in 2019. My annual expenses for regular bills, like car insurance, fuel, repairs, insurances, food, phone and other general living expenses that can’t be avoided came in at approximately $9,500. Really, we were in an ideal position to weather an economical storm like this Corona-situation. There is surprisingly little we could have done to be prepared even more for this. Yes, we have lost income… but we are also surprisingly free: I did not leave my job with the assumption that I would lose the majority of my barista-fi part-time income, but I did. That did happen. I haven’t had to touch the emergency fund yet though and for that I am eternally grateful.
Now we all find ourselves in a situation that nobody wanted to happen, and I among many others have lost the significant source of my income that I do need to sustain myself with the majority of my monetary assets locked up in retirement savings accounts. I’m not at risk of homelessness and I am not at risk of hunger… like many others are and will be in the time to come. I’ve been fortunate for now, but I wonder what will happen after Corona, because my income streams have not returned and once perhaps the world resumes normality I will be left with managing expenditures of $9,500 with a current projected income of $5,964.00. Like many others I am adjusting, and planning to figure this out.
I have an annual projected $3,536 shortfall, or nearly $300 a month. While I CAN withdraw from my portfolio, that’s not exactly smart to do so for many reasons that are too lengthy for the purpose of this post. Knowing this, I have been preparing for the past 4 months to cut my expenses beginning in the fall. The food budget is 100% mine as Tom pays other portions of the bills and we have been stocking, growing and preserving our own food to get through the winter. I am hoping to cut the food budget by 50% starting in September, this would make up a big part of the $300 a month as our current monthly average spend on food is $525.00 a month. .. which is high for two people. Food costs here ARE high, but there are many ways I can cut, I spent too much on luxury items like mock meats and cheese (have been 99% vegan since Dec 2018). And for the rest I don’t really know yet what to expect, and how to continue.
We are both pretty good at being frugal, and we already do much of our own home repair, vehicle repair and home cooking. Ultimately, this isn’t what I hoped for Barista-Fi. You don’t go into Barista-FI with the assumption of losing a good portion of the BARISTA-portion of financial independence. But here we are, it is what it is. Now we make it better. So that is the point of this post, and these musings. Perhaps I will have the opportunity to write a little more over the coming time.