A Look Back: One Year of Being FIREd Up

Real talk, y’all.

This little blog celebrated its first anniversary on November 3rd.  Two weeks ago.  And it has taken me THIS LONG to write a post about it.  Which says a lot about how the past couple of weeks of my life have gone.

Fittingly, the anniversary landed smack dab on the weekend that I attended Cents Positive.  So I had to get a blog post out first about that.  But the Cents Positive weekend led to some sleep deprivation for our whole family.  Then last weekend my mom visited.  Then this past week we had a sick kid which meant more sleep loss.  All this occurred while I was trying to maximize the actual time I had at work, since I had to take a few hours of PTO to watch the sick little one.  (She’s fine, BTW.  Just the first cold of the season.  But she had a fever and couldn’t go to daycare a couple days this past week.)

Here’s that first post from a year ago, if you’re interested.  Guess what?  The reasons I put in that first post for why I set up this little blog?  They’re still true.  Especially these bits:

  • I want to interact more with this community and continue to learn from what other bloggers have to offer.
  • I don’t want to spend the next 17+ years slaving away in a cubicle, working for someone else, doing something that doesn’t provide fulfillment, when instead I could be spending more time with my daughter and spouse.
  • We probably won’t reach true “financial independence” in the next 5 or 10 years.  But I do know that the less we spend, the more we can save and invest, which does provide FREEDOM and OPTIONS to make different choices about how we work in the future.

It’s interesting how we can plan as much as we want and still, the world has surprises waiting for us.  A few surprising things from this past year that I wrote about on the blog:

A few other posts you might want to check out:

  • My financial freedom manifesto (part 1 and part 2)
  • The post with the most shares as of late
  • The post that seems to bring in the most consistent Google traffic

So, what do I have planned for year 2?  Honestly, there is no big vision.  I would love to post more than I have been lately, but if I can at least post enough to keep the blog from going dormant that will make me happy.

Most of my favorite personal finance blogs are exactly that – personal.  I love reading stories of how other people are navigating the interesting complexities of managing their money.  So in year 2, I imagine most of my blogging will be providing updates on how the FIREdup household is doing that too.

Thanks to everyone who has followed along in year 1.  Can’t wait to see what year 2 has in store!

Financially Empowered Women: My Experience at Cents Positive

This past weekend I attended Cents Positive, a retreat for women who are into money and financial independence (FI).  The event was spearheaded by Tanja, who writes a great FI blog over at Our Next Life and early retired nearly a year ago.

I signed up for a ticket a long time ago but I waffled a bit on going.  I haven’t been away from my daughter overnight yet and wasn’t sure a trip where I would be out of town for 3 nights was the right choice for my first time away.  What we ended up doing is making it a family trip.  (This is where the flexibility of Mr. FIREdup’s freeelancing works out pretty well.)  I sold my ticket for the all day Friday blog event and instead we spent the day doing family stuff, including a trek to Red Rocks.  We were back to the hotel in plenty of time for the Friday night kickoff for the main retreat.

The Retreat

Friday night we had an icebreaker game to get people interacting and meeting each other.  This was pretty key since there were about 85 women at the event.  After the networking game there was food truck dinner and more informal chatting.

Saturday morning was SUPER early for us as my toddler buddy decided to wake up at 4am and not go back to sleep.  I am a very lucky gal, because my exhausted husband took care of this wild little beast all day while I attended the retreat from 9:30 to 6.  There was lots of good stuff on the agenda:  more networking, a presentation from Kara, amazing ignite talks from attendees, a live recording of the Fairer Cents, and a discussion on health insurance.

Sunday was just a morning session and was more unstructured.  We heard from some attendees who are already retired, discussed how to build the community, and then attendees led 10-minutes mini-sessions on various topics.

Was it Worth It?

So was it worth my time?  Absolutely.  I met many incredible, financially empowered women on the FI path, all moving towards the same goal but with totally different journeys along the way.  There were attendees from all these various categories:

  • Low, middle, or high earning
  • Single or partnered
  • With kids, without kids, or wanting kids in the future
  • Sharing money with a partner, or keeping it separate
  • Working for a corporation, the government, a non-profit, as an entrepreneur, on a break from traditional work, or already retired
  • Wanting to retire from a disliked job, shift to a more meaningful career, or continue working in an enjoyable career while still pursuing FI
  • At the beginning of their financial journey, in the long slog towards FI, or nearly at the end

Let’s be honest: retiring at 30 is not practically feasible for most people.  But meeting the ladies at this event reinforced this for me:  FI may not be for everyone but there’s room for a lot of people in this movement.  Don’t let someone tell you that you don’t belong because you don’t fit the stereotype.  

For me, FI represents freedom, independence, a life with more purposeful work and more time with family and friends.   Though I’m not on a fast path to retirement, the worst case scenario is that I “only” retire on time, but with plenty of savings to enjoy my retirement.  And how can that possibly be a bad situation?

Disappointments

My only significant disappointment was that there were many people I didn’t really get to talk to.  It’s difficult to interact with 85 different people when you have such a short window of time.  This was probably exacerbated by the fact that I spent some of my free time with my family instead of the ladies at the retreat.  But all the people I interacted with were very welcoming and easy to talk to and I had some really great conversations.

Takeaways

There were a few more practical takeaways for me, which included:

  • Since I am the household CFO, I need to do a better job of making sure my husband knows where all our assets are and has the account details.
  • I got some fun tips on how to teach kids about money.  And one of the ideas I can probably start in a year or two, which was earlier than I expected.
  • Before I went to this retreat, I didn’t tell anyone in real life about it (other than my husband).  But I’m going to do a better job of subtly sharing my financial literacy with others, especially the women in my life.

Thank yous!

Tanja, you really are a community builder. Thank you for creating this event and bringing together such an impressive group of women!

And THANK YOU to all the ladies I had a chance to meet this weekend.  Keep on being “weird,” because more of our weirdness is needed in the world.

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