Financial Freedom Update #5

June – 5 Months

5 months in and we are still kicking!  Markets are fluctuating, but we are holding strong and still earning some passive income.  This month we put some more money into our high interest savings, something that we can let sit and compound.  We also put a couple extra thousand into our investment account as well.  You’ve got to get it while it is on sale as they say.  When the markets dip is the best time to buy.

Without further ado, on to our account and performance update:

Betterment High Interest Savings and Investments:

Actual Investments to date: $29,010.39

Passive Income Earned to date: $71.90

Current Balance: $29,610.88

Performance to date: +$600.49

All of the losses from the original market drop at the beginning of the COVID epidemic have now recovered and we are seeing our accounts on the plus side for the first time. Very exciting!

Supplementary Retirement Accounts:

Thrift Savings Plan: $113,778.06 (+$2,558.00 from last month)

Vanguard 401K: $14.939.71 (+$375.92 from last month)

With the markets rising, so too are our supplementary retirement accounts.  The TSP is still being contributed to bi-weekly, but the 401K is just riding along at a steady investment amount, pluses and minuses solely based on market performance.

F.I.R.E. Account Balance


This is an increase of $11,975.66 from last month ($8,000 physical investment, $3,975.66 account performance increase).

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Financial Freedom Update #4

May – 4 Months

We are now 4 months into our quest for financial freedom and our dream of an early retirement.  

This is a very turbulent time for investments in general with the global pandemic wreaking havoc on economies all across the world.  At the same time, the dramatic drop in all of the markets effectively puts stocks on sale and could prove to be the most opportune time to really start investing in a serious manner.

We have 2 accounts with and 2 external retirement accounts separate from my career supplied 401K.

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Betterment Account Performance:

Physical Investment to Date: $21,010.39

Passive Income Earned (Dividends and Interest): $67.33

Current Balance: $20, 569.14

Performance to Date: (-$441.25)

The initial market drop did some damage right off the bat, but the recovery is gaining momentum and I am optimistic that this will continue to trend upwards as lockdown restrictions are lightened.

Supplementary Retirement Account Balances:

Thrift Savings Plan: $111,220.06

Vanguard 401K: $14,563.79

F.I.R.E. Account Balance


*This is an increase of $9,116.24 from last month.

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Financial Freedom Update #3

April – 3 Months

It’s that time again, a new month calls for a new update.  

Our investment accounts have been rolling for 3 months now, let’s see how they are doing.

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Betterment High Interest Savings – Initial Deposit $5,000.00.  Last month’s total: $5,014.84. Interest Gained $4.10.  In order to capitalize on the Coronavirus induced market downturn I moved $4,000.00 from this account into my General Investment Account.

Total Amount Invested: $1,000.00

Total Interest Earned to Date (Passive Income): $18.94

Running Total: $1,018.94

Betterment Investment Account – Initial Deposit $10,000.00. Surplus March deposit $10.39.  Additional investment made to capitalize on the market downturn $8,000.00 ($4000 from income tax return & $4000 from Betterment Savings Account).

Total Amount Invested: $18,010.39

 Last month’s total: $9,105.87. March’s Betterment Performance -$1,021.48.

Total Dividends Earned to Date (Passive Income): $45.15

Running Total: $16,094.78

My personal retirement savings now totals:


I will admit that investing more money into the market at this time is a little bit stressful. All over the news you are hearing about how the stocks are plunging due to the coronavirus outbreak, which has also detrimentally affected my Thrift Savings Retirement plan.  At the same time, when the markets are low it is time to invest, also with the stimulus plan passed the markets will no doubt rebound. Of course, with time, this crisis will pass, and when it does I look forward to reporting my fortuitous gains.


I will be focusing our additional monthly savings due to our budgeting into restoring our Betterment Savings Account back to its full strength, unless of course another advantageous investment period rears its head once again.  

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Our Side Hustle

A Hygge-lism How To; Applied

Previously I wrote about how to establish a side hustle, which you can read by clicking on THIS LINK.

Since then, we have established a lucrative, opportunistic side hustle.  I am going to spell out how we did it, using the step by step guide that I wrote about previously.  

*Disclaimer – I say “we” throughout this article, but really I mean “she, Katie and my wife”*

The first step was to take an honest look at how much money we were looking to earn.

We were lucky enough to be able to live off of just my income, but we would like to try and save/invest as much as possible, so any extra income at all would be a bonus.  Any income from the side hustle would go towards groceries, any money in excess of groceries would go into a vacation fund. So our goal was anything above nothing per month.

What are the needs in our area?

We took a good look at our area, my wife joined Facebook groups that covered our town and the nearby communities.  We paid attention to the common discussions and requests that popped up on there. We started to put together common conversation threads between people that we met and talked to regularly and we started to see a need.  

Sophie & Uncas

We live in a military-centric community, lots of families moving in and out regularly with their pets.  With lots of travel opportunities and both parents commonly having full time jobs, there was a great need for dog walkers and pet sitters that was largely untapped.

How much time did we have to invest?

Both of our little ones are in school now, which leaves my wife’s weekday mornings free.  Most people didn’t need a dog walker for weekends because they were home. We didn’t plan on traveling too often on weekends during the winter, so if pet sitting was required we could jump on that as well.  So during the school year we have plenty of time, during the summer months could be a different story though.


What do we want to do?

My wife previously worked in customer service and she made it very clear that she would like to avoid dealing with people if at all possible, so dog walking…check.  My wife and I both love animals…another check. We like to stay active and get outdoors…yet another check.

So, dog walking and pet sitting checked all of the boxes, it was time to pursue it.

Put ourselves out there.

Finnegan & Brooklyn

My wife started to respond to the dog walking and sitting requests on Facebook.  This was a little nerve racking, we didn’t know any of these people and they didn’t know us.  Quite often as expected they would request a meet up first, we would get to meet their pet and have an impromptu interview of sorts.  This was expected.

What we didn’t expect was the immediate acceptance of us as hired and the nonchalance of them sending us their home address and giving us a copy of their front door key, but it happened, and quite a bit.

Gauge the going rate.

We have a couple friends that have a dog and have hired a dog sitter/walker before.  We tapped them for a common rate. We also left the door open during conversations to let the customer suggest a rate.  As we talked to potential clients we were able to establish an average cost that was being asked for this service in the area.

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Once we became confident that we could request a certain fee, we locked it in and we were able to state our fees with confidence.

Schedule, schedule, schedule.

We were very surprised to find how fast we were able to establish a large client base.  Scheduling became of the utmost importance. My wife started to fill in our dry erase monthly calendar with the dog walking schedule; color coded of course.  

Each family that was requesting a dog walker, would be allotted roughly an hour per day, which would include a little bit of travel time between houses, we would have to limit ourselves to 4 to 5 families per day.

I cannot stress enough the importance of a solid schedule, the last thing that you want is to forget somebody.  Which leads right into the next step.

Build a reputation.

Tracking Shea’s walk

We were lucky enough to be able to get clients right off the bat without previous experience or references to fall back on.  So because we got those first clients we had to make them count. A solid, reliable schedule kept us in the right place at the right time.  Walking and exercise apps enabled us to track how far and how long each walk was and we were even able to add a picture of the dog that took part in the walk to it.

Tracking Uncas’s walk

The combination of these two things did wonders to build a solid reputation.  So by the time that someone did ask for a reference, we had them.

Check out some awesome pics of our paw walking friends on my wife’s Instagram by clicking this link —> @paw_walking

Side hustle established!  So far this has turned out to be incredibly lucrative for us, and even has an opportunity for growth if we were to pursue it.  We have more than covered all of our food shopping expenses and even took our first overnight/weekend vacation solely off of our dog walking and pet sitting funds.

By removing these expenses from my income, we have in turn been able to increase our savings significantly.  The additional savings has begun to be invested, and will have the opportunity to grow exponentially!

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Intelligent Blends

Financial Freedom – Update #2

March – 2 Months

It’s that time again, a new month calls for a new update.  

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Our investment accounts have been rolling for 2 months now, lets see how they are doing.

High Interest Savings – Initial Deposit $5,000.00.  Last month’s total: $5,007.74. Interest Gained $7.10

Running Total: $5,014.84.

General Investment Account – Initial Deposit $10,000.00. Last month’s total: $9,779.17. February’s Betterment Performance -$673.30

Running Total: $9,105.87.

My personal retirement savings total:


I will admit that the timing of this update is not fortuitous. All over the news you are hearing about how the stocks are plunging due to the coronavirus outbreak.  So I do not fret, I will ride this storm out, inevitably everything will turn back around and I will get to report some equally fortunate gains in the near future. 

Our emergency savings is now restored to where we are comfortable with it, so any additional funds in this account will start to be invested into the Betterment Investment Account.

This month’s additional Investment: $10.39.

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Financial Freedom – Update #1

February – 1 Month Update

Welcome to the first of my monthly Betterment investment updates.

February marks 1 month with Betterment.  We opened two accounts, a High Interest Savings and a General Investment Account.

High Interest Savings – Initial Deposit $5,000.00; Interest Gained $7.74; Running Total $5,007.74.

General Investment Account – Initial Deposit $10,000.00; Betterment Performance -$220.83; Running Total $9,779.17.

I have now fully incorporated my supplementary retirement accounts to be tracked along side my Betterment account, but not managed by them. 

Bringing my personal retirement savings up to a grand total of:


I also adjusted my 22 year Personal Retirement Investment Goal from a lofty 1 million dollars, to an even more lofty 1.25 million.  I did this using the 4% rule, I am confident that my employer supplied retirement will cover a good portion of my monthly financial requirements, but I don’t want to have to rely on that.

I am also basing the 4% rule off of my current annual income, as our monthly budget is still being tweaked and adjusted.  Once our budget is solidified, I will adjust the end goal once again.  

This month, we are not investing any additional funds into our savings or investment account due to the establishing of our budget and having our emergency savings built back up to where we are comfortable with it.

Each month I will be posting an update on the Betterment performance, so be sure to subscribe if you don’t want to miss one.
If you are interested in investing with Betterment, my established account could benefit you with 3 months of fee free account management by clicking this referral link.

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Side Hustles – How to Get Started

A popular term these days is “Side Hustle”.  It refers to a small part time job, hobby or product that you can turn into a money making opportunity.  It typically takes just a little effort and time, and affords you some extra bonus cash. Side hustles are also something that can be done during your free time and as you know, one of the advantages of minimalism is having more time.

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Side hustles are common practice as part of the FIRE movement and among the budgeting community in particular.  After all, a little extra investment money now can make a very large difference later with the help of compound interest.

How do you establish a side hustle though?  That’s a good question, and involves a little research and asking yourself some honest questions.

  1. How much money are you looking to earn?

If the answer to this question is more than your grocery money for the month, then you are not looking for a side hustle, you are looking for a second job.

  1. What are the needs in your area?
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Sometimes the answer to this question is obvious and sometimes it’s not.  A lot of towns have a facebook page; is there a common complaint or request that comes up all the time?  What are the conversations at the grocery store and coffee shop typically centered around?

  1. How much time do you have to invest?

Side hustles are ideally flexible commitments, but they are still commitments.  Whether you have every afternoon or one Sunday a month free, your hustle has to conform to your free time and you have to be willing to dedicate that time to it.

  1. What do you want to do?

Whether there is a need or not, what you decide to do has to be something that you love to do.  Side hustles are not lucrative, they are just a little extra money. Finding the motivation to dedicate your time to something you don’t particularly enjoy is a whole lot harder when the compensation is minimal.

Okay, you asked yourself the important questions, you did your research and you have your mind set.  Time to persue your hustle, but how?

  1. Put yourself out there.
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Social media is a powerful platform as is word of mouth.  Offer your services or products up at every opportunity. Join the grocery store and coffee shop conversations.  If there is a community center then design a flyer for the corkboard; it’s corny but effective. Everyone still does tear off phone numbers or web addresses on flyers for a reason.

  1. Gauge the going rate.

Is someone else offering up similar products or services?  What are they charging? If there is no comparable that you can find, then you can often let the customer dictate the value.  Once contact has been made, questions like “what are you looking to spend”, or “is there a rate you’re aiming to find” can open the door to negotiating.

  1. Schedule, schedule, schedule.
Photo by Jessica Lewis on

Thorough record keeping is a must.  The last thing you want to do is double book, be late on a delivery or over extend yourself.  

  1. Build a reputation.

When getting established, quality and reliability is of the utmost importance.  Just as social media and word of mouth are powerful tools to get you started, they are also a powerful tool that could end you.

We have recently established a side hustle of our own that I will be posting about soon (no, this blog is not it), be sure to subscribe to this blog if you want to hear about it.

If you have a side hustle out there, I would love to hear about it in the comments below. 

Financial Freedom Day 1

Initial Investment Day

January 1st, 2020; new day; new month; new year; new decade.

This morning we awake with our eyes facing towards what could be.  We look forward towards the future after spending the last month reminiscing on what was coming to an end.  While everyone was enjoying the end of year countdowns and recaps, I spent the last month of the year researching what I could do better with my money.

I am just a couple years away from 40, and it hit me this year just how much I don’t want to be working for the rest of my life.  Retirement investment has always been in the back of my mind and I had taken the steps to supplement my career supplied 401K with an additional retirement savings plan, but is it enough?  We have a standard checking and savings account, our checking account is fine for everyday spending, and we have a decent allotment to our savings. Our savings account allotment has been going on long enough now that we have a not extraordinary, but not an insignificant amount of money accumulated.  The returns on our savings account though are…well…minimal, and that’s not the minimalism that I am so fond of.

With all of our recent travels, my wife has taken steps to really lock down a budget plan which I will share with you in the future if your interested, so be sure to subscribe.  Our budgeting allows us to track our spending down to the penny, maximize our saving efforts and increase our feeling of security concerning our current income. This also allows us to invest what we have saved, minus a small emergency fund, without having to worry about needing to pull the money right back out again for one reason or another.

So after much research, deliberation and contemplation, the investment platform of choice for us is Betterment.  I am not a finance major, I didn’t know what index funds were, annual percentage yield and compound interest were just fancy terms that financial managers threw around to sound smart as far as I knew.  Betterment suited my level of expertise perfectly, set a few goals and timelines, invest it and forget it for a low annual fee. Then, log in once in a while to see how much money I earned for doing nothing. Free money is my favorite kind of money. 

For the sake of this blog, I plan on logging in on the first of every month to add our monthly savings to our current investment and for a summary of our investment performance to share with you all.  So stay tuned.

Without further ado, initial investment day had arrived.  Creating an account with involved a short questionnaire to establish our current situation and our investment goals to go along with an email address, physical address, cell phone number and establishing a password.  The whole process took ten minutes at the most. Once the account was established, I linked my current checking and savings account with a simple online username, password and emailed pin number. As well as my supplementary retirement savings account for all in one place, simplicity purposes.  I like simple, and Betterment is excellent at making things simple.

We decided on two investment accounts to begin with.  A high interest savings account, and a general investment account.  The savings account is geared towards money that we expect to have a need for in 1 to 5 years, but would like to get the highest return possible on in the meantime.  Initial deposit: $5,000.00.

The general investment account is for money that can be invested for the long term, in this case, my target timeline of 22 years (when I turn 60).  At 60 I fully intend to retire, or already be retired. Between my investment into this account and my supplementary retirement account, I set a lofty goal of having 1 million dollars by the end of my timeline. Initial deposit: $10,000.00.

My supplementary account will not be managed by Betterment, just tracked and reported on, so it’s balance and performance will not be tracked on this blog for now.

If you are interested in investing with Betterment, my established account could benefit you with 3 months of fee free account management by clicking this referral link.

Financial Freedom

Hygge-lism inevitably leads to an increase in freedoms and savings, most notably of these is money savings, but what you do with that savings is what really matters.  

Our journey into hygge-lism has allowed us to eliminate debt, and now that we have little to no debt at any given time (we use a travel credit card for airline miles), we will be trying to find the best way to invest any extra money that we can.  This page will track our progress towards financial freedom, without sacrificing our true love of travel and experiencing all that life has to offer. Similar to the FIRE movement, anything that we can do to add a few years to our retirement is the ultimate end goal.

2020 will mark the beginning of our debt free, delve into financial independence.  Stay tuned by subscribing to keep up to date on all the tips, tricks and lessons learned along the way with us from day 1.