On my first official day of "retirement," I woke up at 6am. Not from anxiety but because my boyfriend and I were headed to Miami, and LGA had a Centurion Lounge to explore for an early lunch. However, I didn't get to that precise moment through magic. It took a lot -- a HELL of a lot -- of dedication and perseverance. After all, I've always liked a challenge. And being in a position where I could financially call the shots and live the life that I wanted to take brought me along, to put it mildly, some challenging bits. How did I end up in this position you ask?
In a strange way if it weren't for COVID (never thought I'd write THAT sentence before), I wouldn't be where I am right now. Let me bring you back to that specific date. Are you ready? It's a doozy of a story.
May 29th 2020, my sister's birthday. She was in Sydney and I was in New Jersey. They were just getting out of lockdown and we were still in one. As we were celebrating with her favorite people and chatting across oceans over Zoom (because 2020, right?), she posed a simple question. "What is one thing in your life that you want to change in exactly a year from now?" Being that she's my sister, she followed it up with another question, this one more provocative. "How are you going to implement it?"
After waiting my turn (again, because, well, Zoom), I said I wanted to no longer teach and figure out how I can become financially independent... in one year.
Side note: Greetings to my fellow FIRE people! Let's get back on track.
On that day, I took my financial spreadsheets (yep, I'm a numbers nerd) and analyzed them through my microscope. Not really a microscope but you get the gist. Little did I know that I would come back to those spreadsheets countless times within the next year to adjust and readjust the numbers because math doesn't lie. That year not only supercharged my savings but it showed me the true meaning of grit.
Mind you, while I was fully aware that I wouldn't be able to 100% FIRE, I knew I could partially FIRE and fund my monthly living expenses AND continue to save toward full FI with my side gig. Fun fact- that side gig is SUPER fun, doesn't require lesson plans, and affords me the opportunity to work with the coolest people.
In order to make that lofty goal a reality, there were multiple factors that came into play. Perhaps that greatest and most direct impact was that my main job (teaching) was remote for eight out of ten months. Honestly speaking, it was a miracle for me because I never would have even had the OPTION of working multiple jobs if it weren't for remote teaching.
From January through June 2021, I worked three, sometimes seven days a week. Yes, the hours were grueling but there was never a moment where I wavered from my path. Simply put, I knew there was a light at the end of tunnel. I would tell myself, "Lori, six months. Lori, seven weeks. Lori, two days." Eventually, I crossed that finish line and gained partial FI because of that experience.
I didn't get to leave teaching because of a magic wand that I waved to change from one channel of life to another. Instead, I sat down and put in the time and made extra money to propel me over the finish line.
I told my sister about my plan late last year and what spurred it. She was obviously super proud and was amazed that a simple question could lead to a drastic decision. Life doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes a simple question can literally change your life.
What I learned from that experience is that money doesn't buy happiness but it DOES buy time. That, my friends, is time that I wouldn't otherwise get because of the decision I made on May 29 2020.
Here's my question for you, "What is one thing in your life that you want to change in exactly a year from now?"
Until next time, folks! Stay hungry, stay curious.
*This picture is from said lounge at LGA, and YES, it was super fabulous.