|Moe Greenbacks is a pseudonym for me – an anonymous (for now) cog in the wheel who woke up a couple of years ago – at the age of 35 – and realized that I wasn’t moving towards financial happiness. Every day looked more or less the same as the last day and there was no end in sight. At our then current rate, we would have retired at 65 and probably have died at 70 due to the 40 years of stress that we had stored in our bodies.
I started reading books & blogs and listening to podcasts in the personal finance space.
I plumbed the depths of several of the personal finance sub-genres such as …
- frugal living
- early retirement
- financial independence
- side hustles
- passive income.
While there was a ton of useful information out there, no one completely, or even mostly, spoke to our experience. The bloggers and podcasters that were the most successful and were able to stick it out and produce than 50 posts/episodes were inherently a little extreme. And this makes perfect sense, it’s more fun to read about the couple who saved 90% of their income by eating rice and beans 7 days a week, living in a 200 square foot house and then retired at the age of 28 who now hop around the globe visiting exotic countries than it is to read about the family who saved 10% of their income and retired at 58 instead of 60. We’re certainly saving more than 10% and trying to accelerate our path to financial happiness (which may or may not include retiring), but we missed 28. We also missed 38. And, the jury’s still out what 48 bring.
But, after 3 years of jockeying and some relatively benign lifestyle experimentation, here are some of the changes that we made:
- My wife quit her day job filled with beige cubicles and fluorescent lights and now runs a home-based, e-commerce business. In her first year, she killed it and made more than she did at her 9-to-5. In her second year, she made about half of her 9-to-5 salary. In her 3rd year, she recovered a little and is now at about 85% of her old salary. The takeaway here is that you have to be as dynamic as the market if you want to succeed and you constantly improve – no … reinvent – your business.
- I also changed jobs to also avoid the soul-sucking experience of commuting, wearing a tie and having to be pleasant to any number of people that I wouldn’t normally choose to be in the same room with. Now, I am doing a similar corporate job, but working from a home office. Even though I have so much more freedom in my life, I am actually making a few more shekels – so I’d call that a win.
- I’ve taken advantage of that freedom to begin experimenting with some side hustles of my own. And, I don’t necessarily mean in the off hours. I work hard at my job, but it’s quite possible to squeeze an hour or two a day to work on side projects. I call it “daylighting” (instead of “moonlighting”).
- We also examined our yearly expenses and cut some things that weren’t critical to our happiness. Now, if we needed to, we could cut a lot more, but we made the conscious effort to keep some extravagances. We still we eat out a lot and we still spoil our kids.
- In addition, we have been gradually rationalizing our investments. We decreased the number our investments from 15 individual stocks and mutual funds to 3 mutual funds. We have also done some serious digging into other assets classes like peer to peer lending and passive real estate investing.
- Finally, we have begun moving our investments and other assets around so they are more tax friendly.
It’s unclear whether we will become financially independent sooner or retire earlier, but the one thing that is certain is that we happier now than we were three years ago. We spend more time with our young kids. We spend more time doing things outdoors. And, we have more autonomy. It’s not like we can travel the world and disconnect for weeks or even days at a time, but we can carve off enough hours to diversify our life portfolios a bit.
So, if you can relate to our story, then we welcome to our tribe. We look forward to sharing our musings with you and hearing how you all with similar goals (and constraints) are finding ways to maxmize your financial happiness.