Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

It's not all sunshine and rainbows.

In May, my wife and I took a significant step in our financial independence (FI) journey by her staying home full-time. It's been incredible to have her home. The weekends feel more enjoyable, and being able to decrease daycare costs is great.

But it would be a lie if I said it's been a smooth ride. We met some resistance almost immediately. More of my rental properties went vacant than I was expecting this year. Unforeseen medical bills and auto repairs added to the challenges. To say I didn't feel anxious would be an understatement.

We somehow managed to cashflow all of those issues so far, but we've depleted almost all of our reserves in the process.

This had the side effect of forcing us to decrease our expenses during the summer—nothing like life events to evaluate how you spend money. I use YNAB's budgeting system, which allows me to see the next two months of expenses with the cash I have on hand. This allows me to really see how far my cash will go, or in this case, how far it won't go. It shows me before it becomes an emergency how I need to flex my budget before that month comes. I can honestly say that if I weren't budgeting like this, we probably wouldn't have survived this summer.

Sometimes, when I write, I talk about the math and optimistic side of investing. But sometimes you're in the mud. Things happen, and you deplete your buffer. You have to make hard choices and pause investing while you replenish your emergency fund. If I'm being honest, depleting most of my reserves is causing me some anxiety. The statistic that 40% of Americans don't have $400 in the bank to cover an emergency pops into my head. I don't understand how people can live like that, but they do. It's understandable now, in a more personal way, how living close to the edge financially causes stress.

I think we're out of the woods with all the expenses as long as nothing else happens. I can't imagine if we didn't have cash and an emergency fund or buffer hanging around.

So, in conclusion, even though I feel I’ve progressed, things can still happen. Don’t feel bad when unforeseen things happen. Use it as a learning tool to move forward and get better. Forgive yourself and keep going.


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Updated 10/31/23