Well, it’s been five months since my last post. Rather than rattle off a litany of excuses, let me just say that my work has continued to expand in scope to the point that most days (and nights) there isn’t much of me left for anything else. I have seen some posters on various FI blogs discuss their reluctance to pull the plug on a good paying, stable job. While I understand the sentiment, this year has done nothing but solidify my desire for something different.
Thankfully, despite a particularly rough five months, there were some bright spots!
Since the start of 2017, we have increased our net worth by an astounding $239,000. A number like that is hard to fathom until you break it down. Each factor in itself is not quite so astounding.
Investment Gains: Our invested portfolio has generated a return of approximately 17% since January 2017. Despite owning a few individual stocks and that I classify my company cash pension (returns around 3%) as “tax advantaged,” this return is right in line with the S&P 500 YTD return.
Savings: Our large net worth is not the result of particularly savvy investing. Rather it is due to Mr. And Mrs. Zero’s commitment to saving 70 to 75% of our household income. New cars, jewelry, artwork, vacation homes, 8K curved 3D televisions were not purchased in 2017. Instead, our spending was kept in check and savings was deployed to keep fueling our net worth journey to financial independence:
- $20,000 was contributed to Mr. Zero’s 401K.
- $65,000 went to the 3.25% mortgage on our home in the US. I would have paid it off if it weren’t for a silly rule in my company’s expat assignment policy.
- $35,000 was invested in VTI and has returned a little over 10% thus far.
So despite a very challenging year in terms of work-life balance, the Zeroes are kicking ass in the finance department. Honestly, I still pinch myself regularly [and my wife whenever she lets me].
Much Needed Exhale
Diversions or “exhales” from work have been limited this year, but in late July we did take another extremely stupendous sailing vacation to the small island nation of Seychelles (pronounced Say-Shelz). I am probably not alone here, but at the start of 2017 I woudn’t have been able to find the Seychelles on a map. My only recollection of this small island nation is reading about some shady meetings between Russian oligarchs and a certain political campaign manager.
The Seychelles is an independent nation with a population of around 94,000. It is an achipelago of 115 islands, of which only 20 or so are inhabited. The population is mostly of African decent, but is heavily influenced by it’s history with France. The official languages are French, English and Seychellios Creole. The people are friendly, laid back and tremendously proud of their home.
Unlike many tourist destinations, one distinction the Seychelles hold is that they recognize the valuable natural assets they posses. To their credit, they have very strict conservation laws that have kept the islands and surrounding waters in pristine condition. In particular, the fish population is unlike anything I have seen. Jumping in the water just about anywhere will reveal very large and numerous reef fish. The contrast with somewhere like Thailand and even Hawaii is dramatic.
After two long overnight flights from Asia and a stop in Dubai, we arrived on the capital island of Mahe. That night we stayed at an AirBnB on a man made island development called Eden Island. The next morning we took a 1 hour ferry to Praslin Island and took possession of our 40 foot floating home for the week.
We spent a total of 8 nights on board the boat. The first day’s 15 mile sail was the toughest with 8 foot seas and 35 knot winds for the first half, but weather during the remainder of the week was ideal. We visited five islands with our favorite being the small island of La Digue where we bicycled and witnessed our first Giant Tortises, and Mr. Zero narrowly avoided being struck by the cocunuts that fall like tropical hail when the wind gusts!
In total, we covered about 150 nautical miles and spent 7 nights at anchor. It was our first experience sailing a catamaran. Although I admit is was nice having the extra space for our family of five, I still prefer monohull sailboats. As I have written previously, once we achieve our financial independence, our plan is to purchase a sailboat and slowly explore “where the coconuts grow.” Each sailing charter brings us not only more experience and confidence in our ability to achieve that goal, but also motivates us to stick to the financial plan that enables it.
2017 has been a strenuous and stressful year at work, but I am very thankful for the Zero’s generally good health and the privileged financial position that we have been able to achieve. Onward and upward!