2020 was a year like no other. While many people said “good riddance” and “eff you, 2020,” Ether to FI, our anesthesiologist gunning for early financial independence, says “Thank you, 2020.”
While I’ve stated that early retirement prepared us well for the challenges of 2020, I must say that I would have much preferred the year that we had planned.
If we’d been able to do what we had planned on doing, we might have seen a dozen new (to us) countries, introduced our children to amazing Eastern culture and history, and had the adventure of a lifetime.
Instead, we stayed home and played Monopoly Bid. There’s your silver lining. Ether to FI found more to be grateful for from a tumultuous 2020. He shares his lessons learned and updates his net worth, which continues to grow by leaps and bounds!
Take it away, E.T.F.
Ether to FI: Thank You 2020 & a Net Worth Update
I don’t think anyone in February 2020 could have predicted the year ahead. After almost 1 year of COVID-19, I want to reflect on 2020 and share some lessons learned. We have been very fortunate as a family to avoid becoming sick from the virus.
Thankfully, Mrs. E.T.F. and I have been vaccinated. I hope we conquer this virus soon and return to a sense of normalcy. I doubt things will return exactly to how they were but, seeing people’s smiling faces again will be nice enough.
The year of 2020 taught us many lessons. These are my favorite five: family is everything, travel can be local, a job is a blessing, homeschooling is doable, and the stock market is irrational.
Family is Everything
This year has brought us closer together as a family. Being locked down and literally not hanging out with any other families helped speed that along.
We have increased the number of hours spent playing board games. I have learned my kids are card sharks. Their grandfather tried to “take it easy” on them and quickly found out he was playing professionals. We have developed new rituals as a family.
We have been able to slow down and spend time with each other. All the things we use to be “too busy” to do, we are doing them all. Reading books, hiking, family bike rides, skateboarding, and rollerblading are all part of our weekly activities.
It has been fun to relive a part of childhood. Mrs. E.T.F. and I skateboarding and rollerblading have actually led to other parents giving us thumbs up. The kids think it’s so cool that their parents can skate with them.
When I have been asked in the past “why do you work so hard?”, the standard answer has been to take care of my family and provide for their future. My kids couldn’t care less about my hard work. They just want to spend time with their Dad right now.
I have actually cut back the hours I work to be able to enjoy time with them now. Too many parents of older children have told me that I will miss this current stage of my kids’ lives. Slowing down has allowed me to savor the moments.
Travel Can Be Local
This time last year, we had just returned home from a trip to Mexico City. Who knew we would not get on another plane for a year and still counting?
We had trips scheduled for every month of 2020, having timed it so perfectly that Mrs. E.T.F. and I each got Southwest Companion passes in January of 2020. We were going to get 23 months of kids flying free. In retrospect, I can only laugh at our unfortunate timing at the beginning of a global pandemic. Well, life gave us lemons and we decided to make lemonade.
We want to see the world, so it requires air travel. Limiting ourselves to car travel has presented some hidden advantages. We have thoroughly explored our state in the last year.
We went back to all the major cities in our state; places we visited previously when the kids were younger. We have gone off the beaten trail; spending time exploring both State and National Parks and exploring places we would have neglected if we had the pleasure of air travel. Local travel has been a surprising but enjoyable gift from 2020.
One of the definitions of the word “job” is something that has to be done. Many people feel precisely that way about the place they spend most of their waking hours. It is something we do because we have to.
As I have stated in previous posts, I like my job as an Anesthesiologist. This pandemic has made me like it even more. There is something remarkable about being able to take care of people at their most vulnerable times. Usually, it is at no cost to my personal welfare. However, this pandemic placed many frontline workers at risk of becoming sick from doing their job. Instead of pushing me away, that tremendous responsibility has drawn me in.
The premise of the Retire Early Movement is to save a lot of money in a short period of time and leave your job for greener pastures. There have been so many people in this pandemic that have lost their jobs. Those of us still blessed to be able to work should be grateful. Those of us in the medical profession who are employed and healthy should thank our lucky stars.
Homeschooling is Doable
This year has shifted our long-held belief that we could never homeschool. Well, we have decided to continue remote learning for almost a year. There are many benefits including being supplemental teachers for Little E.T.F. 1 and 2.
Mr. & Mrs. E.T.F. are very invested in their education. We can provide individualized attention, which is not always possible in a large classroom. Even the grandparents have come out of retirement to “teach” a couple of days a week. We feel that our kids are making rapid progress.
Although it is not quite independent homeschooling, this period has made us realize that video lessons and parental tutoring can be very effective. It makes “world schooling” a viable alternative in the future. As our kids get older, we hope to spend a year or longer living in a non-English speaking country to enhance their education. This rather sudden transition to remote learning has opened up new possibilities for our family.
The kids might say we give them too much extra work, but that is a different conversation.
Mr. Market Has a Mind of His Own
The stock market is aptly named Mr. Market because Mrs. Market would not be so irrational. A global pandemic should equal a stock market crash, right? The 2020 stock market was all over the place, proving once again that market timing is only for the brilliant people with a crystal ball.
I am not that bright, and my ball is very cloudy. This means I invest steadily every month into the same boring index funds. Many of my colleagues have suddenly become single stock investors over the last few months. I wonder how much fun that roller coaster currently is.
Investing should be as dull as watching paint dry. Over an extended period, the stock market will head up and to the right. I have no control over its weekly, monthly, or yearly return. I will continue to stick to the plan, and in a few decades, there will be far more money in my account than I initially invested.
Net Worth Update
After we reached our first million, I publicly stated that I wanted to reach our second million in a couple of years. We are well on our way, currently standing at $1,269,059. A combination of brute force savings and the stock market working in tandem is pushing us along.
That second million might be within our grasp by the end of 2022. I hope everyone is staying healthy and that 2021 brings an end to this pandemic.
[PoF: You may have noticed that I upgraded the E.T.F. family to my latest portfolio tracking spreadsheet that I debuted with The PoF Portfolio 2020. It’s really slick.
When you add the no-cost “Stock Connector” extension to Excel, if you enter the number of shares you own, the spreadsheet will auto-update daily, or as often as every 10 minutes if you wish. There’s a bit of configuration in entering your ticker symbols and choosing the share value to display in the “Price” column, but it’s completely straightforward and shouldn’t take long.
You’ll also need to enter how many shares you own and the percentages of each ticker symbol in the stock, bond, alt, and cash categories. Once it’s set up, it will update automatically every time you open the sheet and all you need to change is the number of shares when you make a purchase, sale, or reinvest dividends.
You can download your copy below.]
Can you believe this is Post #16 in the series?
Follow Ether to FI’s progress to FI in his previous posts:
- Post 1: Introducing Ether to FI: A New Attending Striving for Financial Independence. Net worth $80,283
- Post 2: Ether to FI: Obeying WCI’s Ten Commandments & Net Worth Update. Net worth $145,194
- Post 3: Ether to FI: Home Days & Net Worth Update Net worth $176,674
- Post 4: Rest in Peace, E.T.F. A Love Letter from a Dead Man and a Net Worth Update. Net Worth $197,061
- Post 5: Ether to FI: Mrs. E.T.F., Are We on the Same Page? Net Worth $228,109
- Post 6: Ether to FI: Shifting Focus from the “FI” to the “RE” and a Net Worth Update. Net Worth $335,248
- Post 7: Ether to FI: Don’t Call it Retirement (and a Net Worth Update). Net worth $364,089
- Post 8: Ether to FI: Frugal Spouses: The FI Superpower & a Net Worth Update. Net Worth $429,155
- Post 9: Ether to FI: “I hate it. I hate it. I hate it!” Learning from Those You Disagree With & a Net Worth Update. Net worth $489,200
- Post 10: Ether to FI: Waste Not Want Not & a Net Worth Update Net worth $561,532
- Post 11:Ether to FI: Part-Time Work. Full-Time Life! And a Net Worth Update Net Worth $583,566
- Post 12: Ether to FI: Moving Targets & a Net Worth Update Net Worth $718,212
- Post 13: Ether to FI: Embrace the Dip & 2 Net Worth Updates Net Worth $682,028
- Post 14: Ether to FI: Time Waits for No One & a Net Worth Update Net Worth $937,709
- Post 15: Ether to FI: 3 Years to the First Million & a Net Worth Update Net Worth $1,023,261
What did you learn from 2020? Did you manage to find some silver linings like Ether to FI and family?