The FIRE

Three Years Later

10 min read

In the words of Kermit the frog:

 Time is fun when you’re having flies!

In other words, I’ve now been blogging for 3 years, and it has been a lot of fun (for the most part).

One of the benefits of blogging (besides the therapeutical effects of writing) is that you can look back at how naïve and idealistic you once were (still are?).

I try not to dwell too much in the past though. It’s history. Done with. Can’t be on-done or re-done. I prefer to look ahead. After all that is where the future lies 😉

Looking back

However, I find myself in a mix of emotions when I read through some of my past posts (to try and gather some sort of overview over what actually happened in the past year – because apparently I’m also quite forgetful, when it comes to my own past).

I started by reading my previous birthday post and then chuckled a bit. I then read my October 2020 monthly update and was amused by my own lighthearted approach to a serious issue (the pandemic-induced almost post-war like economic situation at the time). I then read a handful of my monthly updates from late 2020 and early 2021. It then became apparent that my mood for the past year (+/-) has been almost as volatile as the stock market – but after reading my own account of the previous year in glimts, I’m mainly filled with gratitude.

Just like the stock market, our lives are filled with ups and downs. What matters though, is that you finish the year stronger than you began – whether it’s emotionally, physically, financially or knowledgably (sorry 😛 ) our lives typically look brighter now than it did just a few months ago. The troubles that once were now seems miniscule in the grand scheme of things. At least that’s how I see it. I realize that I’m lucky to be in this position (hence the feeling of gratitude). Not everyone in the world has the luxury of feeling grateful at the end of the day. Far from it.

I’ve lived through several economic crises by now, and I’ve escaped each of them pretty unscathed. The latest (current?) crisis is however not just economical, but a health-crisis as well. While the economy seems to be recovering (or?) we still have a little way to go in terms of the health-crisis as it seems.

Being a citizen in the highest taxed country in the world does however have a few advantages. As of September 10th 2021, Denmark has lifted all restrictions in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 is no longer considered  a “socially critical” decease in Denmark, due to the high levels of immunity (75% of the population are now vaccinated). And so it seems the pandemic is “ending” just as abruptly as it began (at least here in the Nordic region). Looking out in the world, it’s a different story though (I’m well aware).

We will most likely feel the aftereffects of the pandemic for a long long time. For some families their lives will never be the same again. I’m grateful that my family and friends are all in good health (although my father is still suffering from the side effects after 14 days in the ICU battling Covid-19).

Last summer I lost my grandfather (my moms dad) to cancer. I wrote a tribute to him after realizing that he was one of the main architects behind my money blueprint (how I money, basically).

This summer I lost my grandmother (my dads mom) to old age (and cancer). I was grateful that she made a quick getaway. Two days in the hospital and that was it. Her health had been deteriorating for a while. We didn’t think she would just up and leave all of a sudden, though. So it came as a surprise to everyone that she was suddenly gone. She had a long and happy life, and I suppose she was tired and ready to leave.

Death always put your own life in perspective. Are you making the most of it? Are you happy? If not, are you doing what you can to become happier? Are you making other people happy?

As the great Indeedably put it in his own 3-year update:

 It was never about the money, the quest was always about something greater. Happiness. Contentment. Purpose. Fulfilment.

If anything, this is the main lesson that I take with me from the past couple of years (the latest one in particular); There’s more to life than money. And I know that for a guy in my position, this is easy to say. If you literally don’t have enough to make ends meet, money is the one thing that you can hope and aspire to have.

Money cannot buy you happiness, but it sure can provide you a means to pay for activities that might bring momentary joy – maybe even contentment and fulfilment, depending on the activity of choice of course…

So, what have I learned so far?

Well, it might seem a bit like a cliché, but I think I’ve learned that it’s important to enjoy the process of the journey.

The “end goal” (FIRE) is far away for me, so it’s important that I make attempts to improve my daily life, and not dwell too much on the “dream of escaping”.

I began meta cognitive therapy during the summer, and it only took two sessions for me to realize that one of my biggest problems is simply that I ruminate too much about everything – especially my own well-being. If you constantly repeat to yourself “I’m unhappy – why am I unhappy?” you become even more unhappy.

 It’s not possible to THINK yourself out of unhappiness.

This seems very simple and obvious, but once I realized that I do in fact ruminate way too much, it was fairly easy to simply stop doing it. Whenever I catch myself ruminating, I will try to divert my attention towards something else. It could be the dishes, getting a cup of water, going for a walk or talking to someone. It’s incredibly effective, and my happiness levels have definitely improved.

I’m still curious how I got to the point where I felt like I needed therapy though. For now I’m trying to accept that I’m perfectly fine where I am – and how I am.

I was once a very driven, assertive and confident young guy (with a full head of hair!…). I’m currently no longer any of those things. But I now believe that I can regain at least my confidence and assertivenes – eventually (my youth and my hairline are gone for good, unfortunately 😛 ).

 Acceptance of the current state (of affairs) is the first step towards being able to improve it.

I’m a work in progress. Lets just put it like that…

I might not have all my marbles anymore, but at least I’ve got mo’ money, mo’ money, right?! So, there’s that… 😛 Always look on the bright side of life. HAHA

Yes. I (we) have more money in our Total Balance than last year, for sure! And since this is in fact a personal finance blog, how about we take a look at the finances of year 3? 🙂

The financial progress

Some things never gets old, and I always enjoy looking at our financial progress!

So without further ado, lets compare the (financial) progress from September 2020 to September 2021:

Total Balance chart from September 2020
Total Balance chart from September 2021

As is the norm, the Classic Growth Chart™ received a small visual upgrade during 2021 to make the growth of the Total Balance more clear.

The Total Balance in September 2020 was at €84.175.

Today, 1 year later it stand at $116.801 – a difference of more than €32.000. That’s an average growth of €2.667/month. Granted, there was a massive contribution in Q4-2020 (the wife added her savings to our Total Balance), but it’s still numbers that we can be proud of, I think.

We’re however pretty far from our 2021 goal of €135.000, so Q4-2021 better bring some more miracles (or more wifey-credits? 😛 ) if we’re going to hit the target for the year. I knew it was a very aggressive target, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it, if we miss it. Time will tell, and the year is far from over! 🙂

The (most) popular posts

As is also the norm in these birthday posts, I like to look back at the content that received the most love and attention during the year.

The 3 most read posts of Year-3 were:

  1. How your personality dictates your return
  2. The (Shockingly) Simple Math Behind Early Retirement
  3. How much is enough(?)

The #1 read post of Year-3 is actually and old(er) post from April 2020. For some reason it had a resurrection in 2021. I don’t mind at all of course.

I was however a bit surprised that my update to last years most read post didn’t peak very much interest from my readers. Oh well, maybe next year?! 😛

My visitor count has been pretty stable, and I think 2021 will end on par with previous years, so while my reader base might be small, they are faithful. So thank you very much for your continued support, dear readers 🙂

The goals for year four

Well, I reached at least 1 of my goals from Year-2, and that was to reach double-up of what my Total Balance was, when I first started blogging. So that was a great milestone to reach, I think!

I actually also joined Twitter in Year-3 (to expand my audience), and it has been somewhat of a success I think. I haven’t really been devoting myself 100% to expand that channel, so I will try to “do better” in Year-4 🙂

On Twitter, the #1 metric is followers, and at the time of writing I have 113 followers. I think that’s respectable, given that I have not made any major attempts to attract new followers. I’m not selling anything (other than ideas – and they are free!), and this seem to be limiting my audience, interestingly enough. I personally mainly follow people who are NOT trying to push their e-book or gumroad course on me, but maybe I’m doing this whole Twitter thing all wrong!? HAHA

Anyway, I suppose I should try to reach at least 200 followers by the end of Year-4, how’s that?…

My current Total Balance target for the year is €135.000. It’s somewhat unlikely that I will reach this target, so while I would REALLY like to catch up with Tony Pepperoni, aiming much higher for Year-4 would be pushing it. But hey, no guts no glory, right?! Lets just aim for €150.000! That’d certainly be something.

Other than that, I just hope to keep on blogging, although the amount of posts has gone down considerably during the past couple of years, I still enjoy it. I especially enjoy the support of the community, and really appreciate your comments and encouraging words that I often receive from my peers.

For the coming year I’d also like to continue to explore the right balance between “saving” and “living”. I’ve recently decided to focus LESS on saving more, and focus a little more on “living”. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to go crazy in shopping sprees and buy all the gadgets my heart desire, but it means that I will spend a little extra on “experiences” and prioritize time with family and friends.

Anyway, wish me luck! I hope to (still) see you around, and thanks for reading this far! 🙂

8 thoughts on “Three Years Later

  1. Haha I think I must have waken up the entire neighbourhood after reading the Tony Pepperoni mention (Spanish are also louder when laughing, not only speaking XD).

    Congrats on your third year of blogging, you should be proud of all the amount of content you’ve written so far! Your finances have done well this third year, considering your personal situation. In my case I have paid no rent or mortgage in the last 6 months and have no kids to take care of. This has put me in a good place to put more to stocks, which have luckily been doing well (to now).

    Living more is also a priority of mine these days, but I think it gets mixed with me coming to Spain and enjoying a different environment than the one I was used to in the UK.

    Glad you keep it on towards the 4th year! 😀

    1. Ha. This comment was for some reason stuck in the “SPAM” folder 😛

      I hope life is treating you well in Spain! My uncle and his wife just moved to their winter-residence on the south coast. I’m kind of envious. The weather here gets colder and darker every day.
      Oh well, at least the stocks are on sale, right?! 😛

      Thanks for your support 🙂

  2. Well done on 3 years Nick, big achievement. Do you think your finances are better off because of blogging?

    It seems that there comes a point in each FIRE adventurer’s journey where they stop obsessing as much over the money, and start looking more into fulfilment and happiness. Once you feel your finances are secured and soundly on the train tracks, you have more free time to focus on improving your happiness, it’s the natural next step!

    Acute analysis of life being a rollercoaster; I now almost brace myself if I’ve had a very happy day as I know the inevitable gloom will arrive in force. Thanks for letting us know about Meta Cognitive Therapy, I’ve added it to my digital garden for further investigation 🙂

    1. If my finances are better off? Hmm, that’s a good question. I probably wouldnt have built the same size nest egg, and would probably have spent more on house remodels and gadgets than I’ve been doing since I started the blog. It helps to keep me accountable for reaching my goals. I’ve never had saving goals before, but have always been good at saving.

      I agree that at this point in the journey it’s basically just auto-pilot, which I’m (apparently) just not that comfortable with. I feel like I need a new hobby of some kind to keep me busy 😛

      My next step in the meta cognitive therapy world is to learn and master the skill of decouple my actions from my desires. Nobody WANTS to empty the dishwasher or do the laundry, but we (mostly my wife) do it anyway. I’m really bad at action without feeling motivated to do said action. I need to become better at doing stuff without waiting for motivation to magically appear..

    1. Haha. Thank you And thank you for always keeping the rest of us on our toes! I can only aspire to reach your level of writing one day

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