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FIRE Life Update: Summer 2022

cox bay beach

Mika on beautiful Cox Bay Beach in Tofino

It’s time for another update!

Ack—it’s been a while since I published a new post! Summers are always a crazy time for me, but this July was even more so because we were on a three-week vacation.

I’ll share more on that below, along with everything else that’s happened since my last update. (It’s a looong update, so grab a cool drink and settle in!)

Eight months of early retirement

I can’t believe my husband M and I have been FIREd for over eight months. (And what an incredible eight months it’s been!)

M’s continued to partake in many of the same activities mentioned previously, plus added the following:

  • Tried his hand at container gardening (and realized that it’s probably not his thing).
  • Revived our patio furniture with a fresh coat of spray paint and new wooden armrests. (Thanks to M’s Uncle G for cutting and supplying us with the wood!)
  • Set up our back patio underneath our new awning. (This included repurposing and arranging handed-down tables, TV and wall mount, mini fridge, and gym equipment.)
  • Got a sewing lesson from me, then sewed a fabric cover for our outdoor TV. (This was M’s first-ever project using a sewing machine, and he did great!)
  • Carried out best man duties for a good friend.
  • Attended that wedding and another one the month before.
  • Fixed a fluid leak and a bunch of other things on his Classic Mustang
  • Watched Top Gun: Maverick in theatres TWICE! (One viewing was a Tuesday matinee with his retired uncles and aunts—he’s really retired now! 😆)

I’m sure I missed more than a few things, but I think you get the gist of M’s early retirement so far! In short, he’s still very happy and has zero regrets about our decision to FIRE

A very tedious project

For most of May and part of June, M and I took on an overdue and much-needed home maintenance project: redoing the grout and caulking in our ensuite shower.

Given the tiny square footage of our shower stall, it should have been a small, easy project. However, it turned out to be far more tedious and time-consuming than we’d expected.

This was due to:

  • My perfectionism. (Cue M rolling his eyes.)
  • My decision to strip out all the stained caulking and not just the sections that had failed. (Cue M rolling his eyes again.)
  • Silicone caulking being a gigantic pain in the butt to remove. 😫
  • The strip of mini tiles we had to grind out the grout from. (That was a lot of grout lines, ughhh!!!)
  • Our Dremel spewing grout dust all over our bathroom.
  • Our shop vac spewing even more grout dust all over our bathroom. (We didn’t have a fine enough filter.)
  • Wiping down our bathroom several times after the dust settled.
  • Waiting for the grout to cure before we could seal it.
  • Waiting for the sealant to cure before we could apply the new caulking.
  • At the last minute, discovering that our tubes of silicone caulking had dried up.
  • Running out to get more caulking (but trying to time it with other errands to save gas).
  • Waiting for the caulking to cure before we could use our shower again.

It was a long and painful project, but we’re relieved it’s finally done, and are very pleased with the results! Check out the before/after shots below. (Click on the thumbnails to see the full-size photos.)

The value of DIYing

When I mentioned this arduous task to our financial planner, Ed, he had this to say: “Now that you are independently wealthy, you know you can hire grout people… “

I laughed and told him that he should know us by now—there are certain things we simply prefer not to spend on. Yes, we could have afforded to hire a contractor. But this was a simple enough project that we could easily DIY it. 

And, now that M’s retired, we have time to tackle things like this. After many years of wanting to redo our shower, we were finally willing and able to take it on.

Given how time-consuming the project was, I’m sure we saved at least a couple of thousand dollars. (And, as the Wealthy Barber says, a dollar saved is two dollars earned!)

We also think of it a different way: instead of paying a contractor, we’re paying ourselves to do the job. If it’s an amount that’s worthwhile and we can safely take it on, then we’ll do it.

If not, we’re more than happy to pay a professional for help. (As we did when our gas boiler needed a replacement valve.)

In the end, we felt this project was well worth our time. We learned some new things, spent time together, and saved ourselves a bunch of money. Still, we never want to redo our grout again, so it had better last until we sell the house! 😆 

We hosted a student

Much to our surprise, we decided to host a homestay student again. (Our first since October 2019!) Truth be told, we hadn’t expected to host a student again anytime soon—and especially not a long-term one! So how did it happen?

Well, in early April, we heard that one of our old agencies desperately needed last-minute hosts. We missed hosting students and had a relatively open schedule, so we figured, why not? M and I discussed it and quickly decided to go for it. 

Our new student

Our agency was happy to have us as hosts again and promptly sent us the info for our new student, Naoya. He arrived from Japan in late April and stayed with us until the end of June. 

During his 2.5 months in our house, Naoya happily devoured our cooking, discussed all things Japan, played Mario Kart with the boys, and joined us for several family gatherings. We had a lot of fun and enjoyed getting to know him. 

We were sad to say goodbye. But the good news is, Naoya will still be in Vancouver studying and working for another ten months. We’ll be sure to have him over again before he leaves.

Related: Learn all about homestay hosting in my Homestay Series

Farewell to online school

In early June, our kids finished their second successful year of online school. We loved the experience and would happily do it all over again. Even so, the kids and we have decided that they’ll go back to regular, in-person school in September. 😥

Related: Read about our online school experience in Remote Learning During COVID-19

For Kid 1, the decision was easy. As much as he enjoyed learning online, he really wants to experience his graduation year in person. He also misses his friends and classmates and is looking forward to seeing more of them at school.

Kid 2’s indecision

For Kid 2, the decision was a little more complicated. He loved the freedom of online school: working at his own pace, pushing hard to gain more free time later, and being able to take a day off if needed. 

He’s also quite cautious about COVID and has been happy to be safe at home for the last two-plus years. All these factors gave him pause when considering going back to in-person school. 

He was very conflicted, so we gave him lots of time to decide. As the months passed, we discussed the pros and cons, listened to his concerns, and reassured him that we would support whatever decision he made. 

And, in the worst case, if he realized several months in that he’d made the wrong choice, we would help him reverse his decision. (To the extent that we could.)

In the end, Kid 2 decided that he’ll try going back to in-person school. (In all honesty, M and I feel he made the right choice, given how extroverted he is.) He may lose the perks of online learning, but it’s worth it for the benefits of face-to-face interactions.

My mixed feelings

So, the decision’s been made. In about a month, both boys will say farewell to online school and return to in-person learning. I’m filled with a mixture of excitement, trepidation, and sadness (as I always am when my kids go back to school).

It’s been a lovely couple of years for us as a family, with the boys and M learning and working from home. And now that M’s retired, it’s an even more ideal time for the boys to continue learning from home

But we respect Kid 1’s wishes and want Kid 2 to experience high school in person. As bittersweet as it may be, I know that returning to school is the right decision. I’ll share how it all goes down in my next update (probably in a few months). Fingers crossed that it goes well!

Our summer vacation

Our first major vacation post-COVID was going to be a trip of a lifetime: two months of travelling across Canada (and back) with my in-laws… in their RV! However, the logistics proved to be more challenging than expected. 

We learned that travelling with a dog and a large motorhome is very tricky—especially in and through busy city centres. Reluctantly, we decided it would be best to shelve the trip and do it another time (perhaps by VIA Rail, when it’s just M and me).

Making new plans

Our cross-Canada trip was off the table, but we still wanted to take a trip in the RV. M’s parents were planning to sell it soon, so it would be a last hurrah. (They’d bought the RV to travel with us when I was pregnant with Kid 1, so we’ve had seventeen years of memories in it. 🥰)

We pondered our options and decided to stay local with a trip to good ol’ Vancouver Island. Believe it or not, M and I had never been to Tofino or Ucluelet, and we thought it was about time we finally visited!

I also really wanted the boys to see Cathedral Grove and the Goats on the Roof. Additionally, on our way to the west coast of the island, we could drop in to visit M’s uncle and aunt in Port Alberni. Everyone was on board with the plans, so we went ahead and made the bookings. 

The beauty of slow travel

Our friends often tease us for our unusually long trips, and this vacation was no different! We spent 21 days meandering the island… and it was amazing! Over three weeks, we visited Parksville, Port Alberni, Ucluelet, Tofino, Nanaimo, Victoria, and many points in-between. 

The slow pace allowed us to take our time and experience each location to its fullest. It also made for a verrry relaxing vacation—especially since M and his mom did all the cooking! (And wow, did we eat well on the trip. Every one of their home-cooked meals was sooo delicious. 😋)

Our vacation photos

Here’s a small selection of photos from our trip (click on the thumbnails for full-size photos):

Travelling in an RV with six people (and a dog)!

motorhome in ucluelet
Our trusty steed (and home for 21 days)!

I’m sure you’re wondering how so many of us travel in an RV (with less than 200 square feet of living space) without driving each other crazy! 🤪 

It’s definitely possible, but it requires consideration, cooperation, and lots of flexibility. (It also helps that M’s parents are lovely and very easy to spend time with.)

I’ve been travelling with them since M and I started dating, and we’ve continued to even after we had kids. I’m so grateful to them for making each and every vacation so fun and special. ❤️

The logistics 

For those who are curious, here are the real-life logistics of travelling as a group in a tiny space:

  • Everyone gets up and goes to bed around the same time. (Note: this wasn’t possible when the boys were little—we had to put them to bed first, then try to be really quiet until we went to bed!)
  • M’s parents sleep on the queen bed in the bedroom, Kid 1 sleeps on the fold-down side couch, Kid 2 sleeps in the fold-down dinette, M and I sleep in the queen bunk above the cab, and Mika sleeps on whichever bed(s) she feels like sneaking onto for the night. 😆
  • We take turns showering in the RV (navy style, to conserve hot water) and/or use the campsite shower facilities.
  • M and his mom do the menu planning and cooking. (I help with a tiny bit of the prep.)
  • We all help with grocery shopping. (But M’s mom does the majority of it.)
  • M and I try to help with washing the dishes. (But M’s mom usually pushes me out of the way!)
  • M’s mom does the laundry at the campsite laundromats. ( I try to help with the folding, but she usually does it all!)
  • M and his dad share the driving.
  • M’s dad does most of the maintenance and troubleshooting, but M pitches in and helps as much as possible.
  • M’s dad, M, and the boys handle the sewer and water hookup/unhooking duties. 
  • M and his dad set up the campsite (moving the picnic table, putting out our folding chairs and tables, etc.)
  • The boys (with some help from the adults) set up and take down their beds every night and morning.
  • At home, I’m the chief Mika walker. But in the RV, M’s mom takes her for her long morning walk, M or his dad takes her for her short nighttime walk, and we all walk her on our daytime outings. 

You’re probably seeing a pattern here, and you’re not wrong—I’m pretty much useless and a lady of leisure on our RV trips! (Do you see why I said our vacation was super relaxing? 😆)

M’s parents are simply awesome and such a joy to travel with. We’ll miss all the fun times we’ve had with them in this RV. But, whether they buy a new RV or not, we look forward to returning to Hawaii, California, Florida, and other locales with them.

Our portfolio continues to drop

Well, all that travel talk was a fun diversion! But this is a FIRE update, so I also have to discuss our finances. Things aren’t looking pretty, but here we go…

As expected, our investments have continued on a downward trend. To be frank, it’s pretty stunning how much we’ve ‘lost’ on paper. Seriously—it’s a lot. Like, A LOT a lot! 😱 Even so, M and I are continuing to keep our cool

Related: Did We Retire at the Worst Possible Time? 

I’ve done the math (and keep redoing it). And I keep getting the same results: even if our investments reach a 50% decline from their peak, we’ll still be well below a 4% withdrawal rate for 2022. 

As of mid-July, we were ‘only’ down about 26% from our high point in early January. So, we’ve still got a lot of buffer. I sincerely hope we’ve hit the bottom of this bear market, but if not, we’re ready for worse to come

High inflation continues

Unfortunately, inflation continues to rear its ugly head. But as mentioned in a previous post, we’re not overly concerned. That’s because our personal inflation rate is still close to 0%.

I also mentioned that, if needed, we could cut more of our discretionary spending to fight inflation. And we did just that recently by:

  • Lumping more errands into one trip and being even more mindful about how often we drive.
  • M cutting back on how often he drives his Classic Mustang. (Especially after we realized a couple of half-day outings in June cost $30 each in gas!!!)
  • Deciding not to take our Mazda 5 along on our RV trip, which saved us gas and ferry costs. (We were going to bring it for convenience since my in-laws’ RV is enormous and challenging to find parking for.)

In addition, we’re continuing to postpone large purchases until our investments recover. Otherwise, we’ve continued to spend as we normally would. 

I hope, for all our sakes, that inflation will be back in the 2–3% range ASAP. 🤞 But if not, we can cut more discretionary spending and/or rely on our many other contingencies.

And that’s a wrap!

Phew, that was a looong update! I guess that’s what happens when I can’t blog as much as I’d like… which reminds me of something I’d like to say to my regular readers. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sticking with me and my blog.

I know I’ve been less consistent with new posts than most bloggers and that this is annoying for some people. 😕 I sincerely apologize for that and genuinely wish I had more time to devote to blogging.

But even with the odd unhappy comment, I keep going because of you—the ones who hang in there. (Even with my inconsistent posting.) Your engagement through comments, social media, emails, and shares means the world to me and keeps me going!

Share your thoughts 

The last few months have been rather eventful for my family, but what about you? How has your summer been, and how are you navigating the current financial challenges? 

Also, do you have any questions about travelling in an RV with kids, in-laws and a pet? I’m happy to answer your questions and would love to hear from you, so leave a comment below!

Support this blog

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As always, however you show your support for this blog—THANK YOU!

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Court @ Modern FImily
    August 3, 2022 at 7:44 am

    Great update Chrissy! Sounds like an amazing trip 🙂

    You should never feel like you need to apologize for inconsistent posting! Instead, you should be enjoying that FIRE life! I see it more of a positive twist. This is your next phase of life and now the focus is more on enjoying things outside the computer.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 3, 2022 at 9:08 pm

      Hi Court—thanks for the supportive words, my friend. You’re totally right that my inconsistency is due to me enjoying my FIRE life! I shouldn’t let mean comments get to me so much. 😬

  • Reply
    Ann KAVANAGH
    August 3, 2022 at 8:26 am

    Two comments:
    1) outdoor TV? !!

    2) how do you remove grout…sounds like a very time consuming task. I think me and the hubby would fight:)

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 3, 2022 at 9:12 pm

      Hi Ann—my replies are below:

      1) Yes, an outdoor TV! Totally not my idea as I never use it. But hubby has always wanted one, and a family member gave him an old TV and another gave him a wall mount, so at least it cost nothing!

      2) It is a VERY time-consuming task! We used a special grout drilling Dremel bit. But it would’ve been better to use a proper grout blade. We didn’t have the right kind of Dremel for that, so we had to settle on the bit we had. It did the job, but it was verrry slow!

      LOL about the fighting! We definitely had some moments of disagreements!

  • Reply
    AnotherLoonie
    August 3, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    RV trip, eh? Do I sense a desire for van life? 😛 Just kidding. Glad your summer has been going well! And don’t sweat the markets – as soon as we see some lower inflation numbers things are going to get red hot again.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 3, 2022 at 9:20 pm

      Hi AL—actually, van life has always fascinated me! If we didn’t have kids, I’d definitely be tempted to try it, especially after seeing Jessica from The Fioneers’ gorgeous van conversion.

      (If you haven’t seen it, you should check it out. They did such an amazing job with it!)

      I think you’re probably right about inflation and the markets bouncing back quickly. Let’s hope that happens sooner rather than later!

      Thanks for reading and commenting. 😊

  • Reply
    Christopher Mercanti
    August 4, 2022 at 3:17 am

    Great update, Chrissy, and I am so glad things are going well! With my 55th birthday later this month, the countdown is on for me to start my own retirement journey in less than eight weeks. You and your family are an inspiration for all that is possible!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 4, 2022 at 9:51 pm

      Hi Christopher—oh wow, I didn’t realize your retirement is so close! 8 weeks will fly by in no time. I’m excited for you and would love to hear how you enjoy retirement. Thank you for reading and for the kind words. 🙂

  • Reply
    Danielle
    August 4, 2022 at 6:42 am

    Hi Chrissy,
    Thank you for writing this update! I really enjoy reading your blog. You seem like such a sweet person. I’m glad to know that you are both enjoying your post-FI life : ). I’m curious to know, when you and your husband meet new people and they (probably) ask you what you do for a living, do you say that you are retired? If so, what are the reactions that you get?

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 4, 2022 at 10:09 pm

      Hi Danielle—I would love for you to repeat that part about me being a “sweet person” to my grumpy 14 year old, LOL! He’s not my biggest fan lately. 🙄

      You’ve asked an excellent question! We had to face that very issue on our trip because we stayed in a lot of campgrounds, and other campers tend to be friendly and very chatty! We met a lovely Scottish family who was around our age, but when my husband said he was retired, the conversation seemed to lose steam and things felt awkward. After that experience, we decided to not tell strangers that he’s retired and just pretend he’s still at his old job.

      However, if we feel that there will be an opportunity to properly explain FIRE or that we’ll have a long-term relationship with someone, we will be open and say he’s retired. Everyone reacts with surprise but no one ever asks how we did it. Being the FIRE advocate that I am, I really wish they would! I love helping people discover the freedom of FIRE. Sadly, almost no one ever shows much interest. 🙁

      Anyway, my reply is turning into a novel, so I’ll end it here. I think most FIREees face this same issue, but we all eventually learn who to tell and what/how much to reveal! Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to leave such a nice comment!

  • Reply
    Judy Rawdon
    August 5, 2022 at 3:17 pm

    I actually did grab a drink… and a chair looking at the ocean and thoroughly enjoyed your post. It felt like catching up with an old friend. I lo e our similarities… our retirement, the boys ages, the dog, your rv and my new Airstream “Tommy” and I relish our difference… your Pacific coast and my Atlantic. Your youth. Your confidence with blogging. I would have been really upset if you had done that trip across Canada and hadn’t parked your rv right here! I really think that you should just do it… you still have a month!!! Anyways thank you and talk soon.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 8, 2022 at 7:43 pm

      Hi Judy—it’s so nice to hear from you! I also love how similar our life paths and situations are. It’s nice to know I have a FI twin out on the other side of the country! I saw your gorgeous Airstream and drooled over it (I love the look of them; they so retro and sleek). If we’d gone through with our cross-Canada trip, we were absolutely going to get in touch with you and many others along the way! If only we could’ve swung it. (But you’re right, we still have a month left, so maybe? Ha ha.) Thank you for reading and commenting, my Maritime friend!

  • Reply
    Teresa
    August 5, 2022 at 4:59 pm

    I am so glad that you have written such a long blog to keep everyone abreast of what has been happening since the last one. I am speechless at the kind words for dad & me. It has always gone both ways with our relationship. I can attest to your being a sweet person despite what my 14 year old grandson says. You have helped dad and me so much and made me see that it was possible to retire in 2018 because baby boomers like us tend to be stuck in a rut and keep working till we drop. Following your advice – introduction to YNAB to track our spending, solid investment guidance, we have finally graduated to working with Ed Rempel! We will certainly have more travelling as the years go by. I am sure in time, FIRE will become a popular way of life – simpler and less materialistic that many will benefit from. You and all your followers are doing a good job of spreading the word!

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 8, 2022 at 7:57 pm

      Hi Mom—you should not be speechless about the kind words! You are both wonderful people and fun and easy to be around. 🙂 I’m happy to have helped you to become more confident with retiring, and that you were willing to trust me and take the leap to finally stop working. It’s so nice to see you enjoy your freedom after so many decades of hard work. M, the boys and I look forward to more travels with you and dad in the years to come.

      I sure hope FIRE becomes more popular and mainstream. There’s so much good that comes from choosing this lifestyle—not just for individuals and their families, but for the planet as a whole.

  • Reply
    Maria @ Handful of Thoughts
    August 5, 2022 at 8:42 pm

    Your in-laws sound lovely. What a great relationship you all have.

    As for the teenager, my husband and I always remind each other that our kids will always love us, but may not always like us 🤣.

    Keep the sporadic updates coming whenever you feel like writing them. Like Court said, no apologies needed.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 8, 2022 at 8:00 pm

      Hi Maria—I won the in-law lottery! I know not all in-laws (or parents, even) are as supportive or easy to get along with, so I’m grateful everyday for mine.

      Ha ha, I like that, “Our kids will always love us, but may not always like us.” I guess you could say it goes both ways in that parents feel that way about their kids too!

      Thanks for the kind words. It’s really nice to receive words of support from fellow bloggers (and moms). ♥

  • Reply
    FOMOTINA
    August 6, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    Fully understand why posting is difficult. I know I find it difficult as well. There are so many fun and interesting things that eat up our days post-retirement. Ultimately, I appreciate when you do post and it’s always an interesting read. Sounds like its been a fun summer overall for you and the family.

    I was confused by one thing though. You mentioned that your portfolio was down 26% from the January 2022 highs. Does that mean that if your portfolio was worth $1,000,000 in January 2022, you were down $260,000 in mid July 2022? I’m probably misinterpreting something here. It just seems such a steep drop. Again, I’ve probably misread this. Hopefully you can clarify. Thanks in advance.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 8, 2022 at 8:03 pm

      Hi FOMOTINA—thanks for commiserating about my posting frequency. You’re right that there’s so much (often too much) fun stuff to do in retirement!

      You are indeed seeing and interpreting my numbers correctly. That’s why I said we lost A LOT of money! We are invested very aggressively (just the way I like it)! However, the “loss” is only on paper, so I’m not concerned.

      We have gained back a six-figure sum already since I wrote the update, so that’s a good sign! Here’s hoping the upward trend continues!

      • FOMOTINA
        August 9, 2022 at 6:33 am

        It’s funny. There’s so much talk in the media about how women don’t invest. That they’re too conservative. That’s not what I see. 😂 They’re way more aggressive than I am. I’m happy you’ve recovered so much already and that it all aligns with your risk tolerance. 👍

  • Reply
    Virna
    August 6, 2022 at 9:07 pm

    Hi Chrissy,

    Thanks for the update. Glad to hear that retirement is going well for you and your husband. You are such a great role model for all of us who are still dreaming of retiring early. Thanks for referring Ed. I now have a plan and I’m looking forward to our first annual review with Ed.

    Enjoy the rest of your summer before the kids go back to school.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 8, 2022 at 8:10 pm

      Hi Virna—thanks for stopping by to read and comment. It’s great to hear from you! I’m not sure how much of a role model I am, but I do hope that sharing my story can help teach people about FIRE and inspire them to learn how to manage and improve their own finances. Enjoy your annual review with Ed! I know I always do, but I’m a money nerd, so maybe it’s weird of me, ha ha. I hope you also enjoy the rest of your summer!

  • Reply
    Impersonal Finances
    August 8, 2022 at 12:38 pm

    Great update! Love that you are enjoying retired life, though I’m not sure I could do the RV trip haha

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 8, 2022 at 8:12 pm

      Hi Impersonal Finances—thanks for reading my update! I know that RV travel isn’t for everyone, and travelling with so many people is even more of a no-go for most people, ha ha. You’re not alone!

  • Reply
    Mrs. Richfrugallife
    August 8, 2022 at 1:47 pm

    Enjoyable update, as always! Glad to hear you had such a wonderful trip and are still enjoying the FIRE’d life. Hopefully investments are stabilizing or on the upswing, but having that extra buffer has hopefully made it less stressful on you.

    • Reply
      Chrissy
      August 8, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      Hi Kristen—thanks so much for stopping by! I’m hopeful that everyone’s investments are on their way back up again and that this isn’t just a temporary increase. Only time will tell. But you’re right that the extra buffer (plus all our contingencies) do help a lot. You and Mr. RFL are in an ideal position, to still be earning regular income even though you’ve already reached FI. You’ll have an even bigger buffer than us!

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