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  • Writer's pictureHaley Keller

Reflections on One Year of Financial Independence

Dave and I in nature

It’s officially been one year since we landed in Tucson, Arizona and started living a “financially independent” lifestyle. Technically we made our radical life changes and have been away from full-time work for a year and a half, but the first six months were spent on our epic RV road trip. It seems fitting to do a recap of our last year and reflect on how it’s going for each of us in our "endless free time” lifestyle.

The year started off a bit rocky in terms of our living situation (see post What really is a home?) as we bounced around between rentals and hotels waiting for our delayed home build to eventually be finished. We landed in Tucson in October and we bounced between a furnished Airbnb, a few hotels, a short-term furnished rental, and finally moved into our new home in April. We then spent a month feverishly moving in and unpacking our POD with the furniture and belongings we had and then finding and fixing up used furniture or building it ourselves to fill in the rest of the house. Then we hosted three weeks of back-to-back family visiting which launched right into a 7-week summer RV road trip. This trip took us through 15 states and 2 Canadian Provinces with stops at a number of National Parks, sightseeing in new cities, and spending time visiting family and friends. We landed back in our home mid-July and life has been much more settled since. I love our home, I love our neighborhood, and I love Tucson.

The Boys’ Year:

Our boys playing in the sandbox in our yard
Our boys playing in the sandbox in our yard

Even though we are not working, we have decided it’s best for all of us to still have the kids in preschool. They are getting great social, emotional, and educational learning and we are able to recharge and be more engaged, positive, and energized when around them. On a typical day, we load the boys onto our Radwagon e-bike at 8am and I bike them the two miles to their preschool. Then at 3pm, Dave bikes over and picks them up. Their usually spend their afternoons and playing with their toys, in our yard digging in the sandbox or splashing in the hot tub, at a neighborhood playground, or the neighborhood pool.

On the weekends we typically take a trip to the Sonoran Desert Museum where we have a membership. And in the hot summer months, we have usually headed up Mt. Lemmon the other weekend day to hike a couple miles in the pine forest. The boys really like our new home, especially the playroom with a table full of Legos, and seem overall happy with our current life routine. They even are at a great place where they are basically inseparable at home and love playing with each other – the struggle of having two young kids 16 months apart is finally paying off.

Dave’s Year:

Dave building a live-edge table for our home
Dave building a live-edge table for our home

What can I say? Dave is living his best life. He usually goes mountain biking at least two times a week and has gone on a couple of overnight bike-packing adventures too. When not biking or running, he is building things or learning new related skills.

Last fall, Dave bought a 3-D printer and has downloaded or made his own designs for various things including kid toys, vent covers, and car door bumpers. He joined a local maker’s space and has learned to weld and used that skill to make a fire pit and live-edge wood tables with metal legs for our home. And he has built various other things for our house including a murphy bed. He recently learned to use the CNC cutter at the maker's space and is currently cutting wood pieces to make race car beds for the boys.

Last October, he drove to Colorado to purchase a used homebrew system that makes a ridiculously large 30gal per batches. Now that we're in our new house and have a kegerator, he has been brewing and it was a big hit amongst the neighborhood adults on Halloween! Beer, bikes, and building things. I asked Dave if he's in fact living his best life. He confirmed.

Haley’s Year:

Honestly, I’ve felt pretty unsettled for most of the year. Do you remember that Dunkin' Donuts commercial with the song “Doing Things Is What I Like To Do”? I think it’s my theme song. I can’t stop doing. I also really like routines and the lack of them with the “endless free time” has been more of a struggle than I expected. That being said, as of this fall I’m finding routine and regular things to fill in the time so the “what do I do today” anxiety has calmed.

I started my year in Tucson jumping head-first into creating and teaching my Crying in Finance course. In the fall I built the website and finalized the course textbook and workbook. In January and February I taught three sections of the course over Zoom and absolutely loved gathering with these groups of women throughout the sessions. Concurrently, I focused on creating a blog and posting regularly on social media channels. Unfortunately the demand wasn’t there to run another set of courses in the spring so I shifted my focus to making free financial education materials and I created the 10-day Financial Vitals Check-Up e-course.

Swimming workout at our nighborhood pool
Swimming workout at our nighborhood pool

During our 7-week summer RV road trip, I enjoyed a break from focusing on personal finance education. Once back to routine with kids back in preschool, I allowed myself some time to think about what’s most important to me and how I really want to spend my time. What rose to the top? Training for triathlons, teaching, and being creative. So that’s what I’m doing. I signed up for Ironman Texas in April and found a coach who sends me weekly workouts and provides feedback. I applied for a job teaching math at Pima Community College and was hired to teach an Algebra class in spring 2024. And I spent my free time the past few months creating a kids activity book that is now for sale on Amazon. I am also a fill-in beertender at my closest brewery, which I just love doing. So right now, everything's feeling pretty great. Doing things is what I like to do - yes!

What about Crying In Finance? I will continue doing my part to share financial literacy with women in our society. Being on social media and building an “online presence,” however, did not rise to the top of how I want to spend my time. Instead of focusing on creating social media posts and building a brand, I will prioritize regularly blogging about my own financial journey and sharing finance tips in general. If I have enough interest to fill a course I will be excited to teach it, but I will not be spending time or money online trying to make it happen. My goal with Crying In Finance is not to make money, but instead find ways to best "spread the word" about financial literacy. In that vein, this week I gave a Personal Finance Basics presentation to a group of sorority seniors over Zoom and I have a couple more presentations lined up with other groups. If you have a group that might be interested in having me present at no cost, please reach out!


Probably the biggest question – how are our finances after a year of not working??? That’s a question that deserves a deeper dive in a future blog post. As we settle into our new life routine and figure out our new annual expenses, we can determine if we have actually reached "financial independence," which is when our net worth equals our FI number. Then we'll know when or if we need to go back to full-time work. But overall when I look at our total net worth from Q3 2022 to Q3 2023, it’s actually gone up slightly so that’s a pretty good sign. Until things change and we realize we're about to go broke, we'll keep living our best lives!

2 comentários

Membro desconhecido
09 de nov. de 2023

So glad you shared this update! I feel much the same way about blogging and having an online presence, and it's difficult to find others with the same mindset in this online world these days. Sounds like you are doing so much good still, and to me, that's what matters :) Looking forward to continuing to follow your journey and to the next blog post on how your numbers are doing!

14 de nov. de 2023
Respondendo a

Thanks, I really appreciate it! More blogs to come :)

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