News of June 20, 2021
Relevant news according to Flipboard- I like to use this images because they will become a reference in later years when I look back into my FI journey.

It has been a whirlwind of doing and doing after our move. I estimated that by April the dust would have settled and we would be up and running in our new home. Well…almost there. The big hurdle was moving the pool and having someone to install it I wish I would have trusted myself doing the whole job because the company that did it, did a very crappy job with the leveling. I know that in a not very distant future i will find myself fixing it. I won’t be able to live with a pool where the water is off level for more than 2 inches. I am not an anal person( That sounds weird!) but these kind of things do perturb me. I am very mechanically inclined person and anything off like that makes me pretty much have nightmares about the consequences of something not being properly installed. Okay, sorry! I am going off topic here.
We have had few splurges since we moved to make our home comfortable, and enjoy it. Some of these expenses are a retractable automatic awning that covers the deck, some light fixtures, and the pool installation that comes with many expenses attached to it, like the electrical installation of an outdoor outlet and bonding of the pool to meet code requirements.
We could certainly have refrained ourselves from reinstalling the pool in our new place but with kids we simply love having the pool right in the back. We go nowhere. We pay for no pool passes for 6 people, we don’t have to deal with people’s craziness, drive, get ready, etc…and not to mention that having a pool when a world pandemic hits it’s the most amazing thing ever; I know those events never happen but just in case.

The retractable awning we got installed is such an amazing thing that I feel compelled to include it in this net worth update. Even when it was a big expense, we didn’t hesitate getting it after experiencing it at our old house. When we first moved to our previous home we thought that these awnings were outdated and simply an old people’s thing. We were bound to take it down and pretty much give it away. Well, then the summer hit, and we started using it. It was a life changing event. Very quickly we realized that while all of our neighbors were hiding inside from the heat and sun we were pretty much living outside all day long. Our house was cooler too because the awning would prevent the sun from reaching into great part of our first floor. When we moved, we considered taking it down and bringing it with us but then decided against it; we didn’t want to complicate our move even more. I had enough going on with the relocation of the pool. So, we decided to get a brand new SunSetter for our new place. It’s about 16 feet long and covers almost the whole deck. I can’t tell you what a great product this is! I am not getting paid to write this. If you like to enjoy your patio or deck, Sunsetter is simply the most amazing product you can have. Umbrellas are a pain in the neck!

That’s my summer hangout. We even got a wind sensor that will make the awning pull in if there any strong gusts of wind. We love it!

Another big commitment although it did not require any upfront payment and should provide at least a 30% savings as we go on is our solar system. We decided to join the many families that are going solar and got our system installed by SunRun. We signed up for their lease option which requires no money down and provides some savings to the home owner, besides the benefit to the environment of not using fossil fuels( Or not as much). Through this program, SunRun owns the system and takes care of its maintenance and insurance while we reap some savings. Now, our electric bill will be paid mainly to SunRun and maybe a few bucks to the local electric company, since we are still hooked into their grid and their meter. Our bill was around $150 a month, and I am expecting now for that number to fall somewhere around $100. I am sure I’ll write about it once the system is turned on- We are waiting for the electric company to replace their meter.

Another big event in our lives was that finally we received part of our settlement for our car accident in 2020. The lawyers did a fantastic job and that is coming from someone who was extremely skeptical about getting a lawyer to litigate the case. These people went beyond my wildest expectations as far as compensation goes and I am confident that without them we would have walked out with nothing or in debt with hospitals and doctors. Thanks to them we were able to receive 50K in compensations against a 100K coverage, despite the 88K we owed for surgery and hospitalization, plus about 6 months of physical therapy. No money in the world is worth going through what we went through but we are grateful for the compensation this firm achieved for us.


Well, without any further adieu, the numbers!!!

Net worth after 4 years
I have surpassed my 2021 financial goal!!!

For someone who is a high income earner this may be nothing. In the FIRE community there are tons of people who achieve FIRE fairly quick or who are able to reach great saving percentages of their salaries(50-60%). I am happy for them, but that’s not my case. I have a teacher salary, my wife stays home with the kids and we have 4!
So, for me, this is freaking unreal. Sometimes, I have to get a pencil and paper to do the math myself and confirm this is real. Five years back we had nothing but debt, even after becoming accidental landlords and when we had no idea about the FIRE movement we were living from paycheck to paycheck. We were afraid of loosing our tenant because we didn’t have enough in the bank to flip the property for a new tenant. It was stressful.
Today, per Zillow, we have $1,009, 098 in real estate assets, more than 100K in cash and almost 70K in tax sheltered accounts. I still have to work, and I am not retired but I get plenty of time to spend with my family and explore my own interests. I am relying more and more on others to do maintenance jobs for our rentals and life is simply great. I could not ask for a better life. Every day I wake up and I ask myself “is this real?”
This milestone is more than I ever imagined. I still remember myself counting all the money I had- $800 dollars- and packing up my suitcase before leaving my beloved Venezuela.

What’s Next?

We continue doing what we have been doing, which is to stick to the budget, increase the gap between our income and expenses, and keep investing. I recently increased my contribution to my 403B plan adding extra $100 per paycheck. I could max out this year but I want one more puzzle piece in our real estate endeavors.
We are looking into buying a vacation/short term rental property in Michigan but unfortunately we have been outbid twice by cash offers. The market is out of control even in rural communities. We want tiny slice of Pure Michigan near Traverse City. We love this area and we think that it may be our retirement spot. We have been camping and visiting the same spot for over ten years but we have never been in a position of buying a home there. We are currently bidding on a property but we won’t know until Wednesday (06-23). Wish us luck!
We will be camping in the area next Friday too. We super excited about it. Plus we will be able to check out some other hidden places we have not seen yet.

Anyway, that is what’s popping in my neck of the woods. I would love to hear how is this middle of the year for you and your FIRE journey status.