Year 2: The Grind (2013)

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I’ll admit, the first year’s (2012) progress towards achieving early financial independence came rather easy. Dividend investing was brand new to me, so there was a lot of excitement involved with buying stocks early on. Seeing the portfolio grow further added motivation to save income.

Finding and closing my first real estate property also provided an extra jolt, mid-year. Although there was always some uncertainty involved (until the check was accepted into escrow), the thrill made the time pass by rapidly.

As the year went on, I even managed to switch jobs and receive a pay raise + promotion. Even better, the new company eased me into projects, so I had a lot of downtime and very little work stress. Because of this, I had a lot of energy after work to look for real estate deals, write blog posts, and research stocks. Overall, Year 1 was a memorable and successful year.

Dark Clouds

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, eventually. As Year 1 approached its closing, I started to have visions of a much more challenging year ahead in 2013. Here are my reasons for concern:

  • Work stress will be at an all-time high. I have multiple projects arriving in Q1. I’m already plenty busy now.
  • Expectations to perform at work are great. I received a lot of slack (grace period) last year. I won’t be able to keep milking this. That is, a 9-5, or 40 hours a week will no longer cut it. I have to prove my worth, so in order to appease the big bosses, this means I will need to put in a lot of extra hours.
  • Dividend investing and real estate investing are no longer brand new. The thrill is gone. Will this be enough to veer me off the right path? Since work will be so taxing, will this push me over the edge and encourage me to “live it up” more? I doubt it, but I can’t say for certain that I’ll be able to stay disciplined, and resist temptations throughout the entire year.
  • My motivation and desire to learn (as it pertains to work) is practically zero. I’ve lost all interest. I just don’t care anymore. I’m bored. Will this impact my performance? Probably. Will I be able to survive another year and still earn a mediocre/average performance review? I sure hope so, or I may be in for some serious trouble.

Strategy

To help counteract these potential issues, I will try to focus on the following:

  • Look on the bright side. If time passes by rapidly, that means the year will zoom by. Is that a bad thing? Well, yes and no. It sucks to see the year slip by, as I no longer enjoy getting any older (staying 28 is just fine with me). But on the flipside, I’ll be one year closer to early FI! Those of us seeking early FI already know that we have to spin on the hamster wheel for at least some amount of time to buy our freedom. Losing one year (all work and no play) is not ideal, but I’ll gladly sacrifice one (or four) to be granted the freedom to control my destiny indefinitely, thereafter.
  • Don’t put too much self-imposed pressure to perform. Realize that my long-term plan won’t span more than four years, at most. Remind myself that i’m not here for the long haul. Do enough to get by, and do the best that I can. Earn my keep, but don’t go overboard in trying to appease anyone.
  • If the deal for Rental Property #2 goes through, this concern becomes N/A. Owning a second rental property will certainly provide that extra spark needed to spice things up. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done on the place, so I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty this time around. Also, I’ve already had to liquidate most of my dividend portfolio. I’m basically starting from scratch again, so I have no excuse for being bored. 😉
  • This concern is probably the hardest one to overcome. It’s a psychological battle I face everyday. On some occasions, I’m quite successful and I can even fool myself into believing that I love my job. Other days, it’s difficult even getting out of bed in the morning. The only way I think I can overcome this is to focus on other hobbies. For this year, I want to focus on my health and exercise. Hopefully that will keep my mind and body fresh enough to get through the grind. And give me something to look forward to after work.

Summary

2013 will be a grind. I’m certain of it. I will be tested this year, much more than in 2012. Will I be able to handle the challenge? I sure hope so, since I feel that the probability of reaching early FI will be mostly determined by the progress I make over the next 2-3 years. The bulk of the heavy lifting needs to be done here. If I can just stay the course, save intensely (70% to 80% savings rate), and invest wisely (dividend stocks + rental properties),  I should be sitting pretty by year’s end.

With that said, I’m tired of playing in this cave…sometimes I just wish I had a fast-forward button to reach the end of the year (so I can take another two weeks off). 😉 All good things come to those who wait, though… it’ll just taste that much sweeter once I FINALLY get there!

 

What about for you? Do you expect 2013 to be an easy, or difficult year for savings? How much progress would you like to make this year?

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Year 4: The Fork In the Road (2015)Unpaid Vacation: It’s Worth It!JC @ Passive-Income-PursuitIntegratorEvan Recent comment authors
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Dividend Growth Machine
Guest

It will be a transitional year for me, giving that I’ll be moving and starting a new job mid-year. I expect some disruption in my summer savings rate due to moving and more work-related stress associated with settling into my new job. I’m trying not to think about it much yet. 🙂

Compounding Income
Guest

I’ve been on autopilot for a long time, I feel you here. I no longer volunteer for anything and I really don’t care if I get promoted early or not. I just need to put in the time to collect a pension and build my passive income. An extra pay grade or two is not worth the added stress at this point.

One advantage of being on autopilot is increased patience. I do not feel the need to jump on any particular stock. There is no excitement at all anymore which makes it a lot easier to wait for an opportunity to fall in your lap. It’s easier to be objective and not get wrapped up with emotions.

I expect 2013 to be exactly the same as 2012 for savings, except I won’t be getting bonuses. I run about a 40% savings rate and have zero motivation to increase it. I honestly don’t know how you guys do it!

On the bright side I’m going to be sitting at the beach drinking pina coladas in Thailand next month…

Leigh
Guest

I think that 2013 will be a pretty good year for savings for me since I’ve accumulated a lot of deferred compensation (RSUs) that are finally vesting this year. I don’t have very many currently scheduled to vest next year. I’ll probably get some more at review season, but most likely not very many, so I need to kick myself into gear in 2013 to get a good review next year and get more stock since part of my paying off the mortgage and early retirement plan hinges on using my bonuses to save faster. For example, if I take my current mortgage balance and only pay the required minimum from today forward, plus the amount I can pay extra monthly, it’ll take a total of 8 years to pay off the mortgage. But by using my 2013 and 2014 bonuses and then the regular monthly savings, it should be gone in 6 years, 2 years fewer.

So one of my biggest goals for 2013 is getting back into a regular schedule so that I *can* be productive and exceed at work again.

John S @ Frugal Rules
Guest

I think 2013 will be a good year for us. Our business has firmed up and we’re seeing great progress with it and new clients. That does mean extra work, but we get to see the results right away plus it gives us more money to save/invest.

Brick By Brick Investing | Marvin
Guest

FI when I learned about financial independence and how it was achievable for my family I lost all ambitions in my career. Please make no mistake I still do my job and do it well but I don’t engage in the politics trying to move my way up. I am absolutely comfortable staying where I am as all my focus is on investing, my blog, and my family. With that said it’s not a bad thing that you are no longer excited about your career.

2013 will be a rough one for me as we are expecting our second child. Definitely a blessing but a lot of responsibility and time is required. It will be interesting to see how I maintain my investments and blog.

Michelle
Guest

I think 2013 will be great for me. My extra income keeps increasing and my debt is decreasing!

eemusings
Guest

2013 will be exciting for me – exhilarating, challenging, terrifying – I’m going to be making a leap to pursue a particular dream. Agree with you on time slipping away faster every year (which terrifies me, even though I really like my job!)

The First Million is the Hardest
Guest

Whenever I hit a bunch of extra time and stress at work it motivates me even more to focus on my investing and other income sources so that I don’t have to put up with that grind for any longer than I have to. Just keep your head down, plow through it and you’ll be hitting your goals in no time.

Ticohombre
Guest

I can sympathize. However, no one should settle for just existing or subsisting. This is a general observation and I’m not applying it to you because I don’t know you. But I find a lot of FI seekers on blogs to exemplify the “I’ll be happy when…” mindset. It’s easy to let life become all about the money (even if it is only the means to an end = FI) Each day is precious and needs to be spent on a deeper level.

On the other hand, your blog discusses many thing we have in common, i.e. rental real estate. If your interested in my developing rental real estate story, I just started blogging about paying off 168k of real estate over the next 42 months. Feel free to visit. http://payoffmyrentals.blogspot.com

Your blog interests me and I’ll be back regularly to check thing out. Thanks.

Dividend Mantra
Guest

FI Fighter,

I hear you.

I’m in an odd place right now. Recently, there was some unnecessary stress at work that came my way and management made it seem like changes were in the cards in my department. My “department” is extremely small, so that was worrying. I started saving more cash lately to counteract any possible changes in unemployment. I was actually half wishing to get fired as I personally view my 7:30-6 grind as a personal hell. However, it’s times like this that remind me why I’m on this wonderful journey to financial independence – freedom from tyranny.

Stay true to your path and your future self will be very thankful. Although I hate my work now more than ever, I continue to go in every day because it gives my future self the best shot at having complete freedom. I’m okay with sacrificing 5 years or so for 50 years of complete freedom.

Best wishes!

KK @ Student Debt Survivor
Guest

It’s hard when you feel like you’re stuck in a wheel. I recently moved to a different part of my company because I thought I needed a change to stay motivated. It wasn’t more motivating, in fact it’s actually sort of reminded me how much I want to work for myself someday (I guess that’s a good thing too). I think 2013 will be a pretty good year for saving for us. My goal is to have $25k total saved by the end of the year.

The Stoic
Guest

FI…. I think Strategy #4 is a big one. Focus on the things outiside of work. Begin to cultivate the things you would like to be doing in retirement now. Work is a necessary evil, but only a temporary one 😉

I empathize with what you are going through. I think that taking six months off hurt me because I have a taste of what it would be like to not work… and I loved it! Going to work is a serious chore and one I fight with through the week, but I try to take my own adivce and spend time on the things that matter. Wish you the best as you navigate the grind of 2013

Martin
Guest

Fighter, I have the exact same problem. Although I love my job and enjoy it, many times I feel bored, tired and without energy and hoping for some fast forward run so I can retire. Weill it is impossible to do it without job. I am not there. But that boredom is killing me. I still couldn’t find a way how to get motivated.

Integrator
Guest

I’m more motivated than ever to save up for independence because we can now see the end game in sight. If all goes to plan, it will be 5 more years, 1 Jan 2018. We hope to have $50k/yr in dividends at that point, which should meet all our expenses plus a little left over :).

JC @ Passive-Income-Pursuit
Guest

Year 2 is the difference maker. Year 1 of anything new is always easy because the learning curve is so quick and progress gets made quicker since it’s new and exciting. I know you’ll stick with it in Year 2 and be even better off than you expected at the start of Year 2.

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