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ALMOST ready to start traveling…

While things may have seemed quiet, in reality, a LOT has been happening. I have had over a dozen people ask for an update which is why we wrote this post. We are planning to officially be on the road within the next week (on or before Sept 21), although we are not sure what the exact start date for the trip is yet.

FIRE Travel Family - Dubuque - Retirement Party Picture - Brock, Becky, Kyra, Verity - Financial Independence - Retire Early
FIRE Travel Family – Dubuque, IA – Retirement Party Picture – Brock, Becky, Kyra, Verity On September 6, 2021

Here are the high notes of what has been going on over the past few months:

  • On June 23 we accepted an offer to buy our house, which closed one month later
    • As part of that sale, we negotiated up to 60 days rent-free post-closing
      • This gave us up to September 21, 2021, to be in the house
    • This was a cash offer with no contingencies, which Brock negotiated since we did not have a realtor
  • On July 2, 2021, we purchased a 2007 Chrysler Town & Country Touring Edition Minivan
    • Our original intent was to
      • Have a low-cost vehicle we could use while in the United States
      • We needed to save money on insurance (only carrying liability coverage) and vehicle registration
      • We wanted a vehicle we were comfortable storing outside while we travel
    • Buying this minivan allowed us to sell our current nicer vehicles quicker to capitalize on high used car prices
  • On July 13, 2021, we registered FIRE Travel Family LLC as an official business and all associated accounts were open
  • On July 19, 2021, Brock closed his Innoative Dubuque LLC business which focused on consulting and business assistance
  • On the morning of July 23, 2021, we closed on the house sale and officially became renters!
  • In the afternoon of July 23, 2021, we learned that Brock should not leave US due to the medical treatment he is receiving. The doctor suggested he stay around for between 12 to 18 months from when he started the treatment in January of 2021
    • Interestingly, we had already mostly decided that we would not be leaving the US for this first trip anyway due to COVID-19 uncertainty
  • On July 26, 2021, we sold our 2014 Chevy Equinox
    • That brought us back down to two vehicles again
    • It also allowed us to capitalize on the higher used car values which made us feel good about buying the minivan
  • On July 29, 2021, Becky closed her Platteville Massage office.
    • It was a bittersweet day since she loved her clients and had built a great/successful business
  • On July 31, 2021, Adam Rohn, Brock’s best friend from kindergarten through high school had funeral services held in Boscobel, WI
  • August 4, 2021, Kyra got her first haircut from her aunt Karen Hoffman
    • Kyra and her mom both donated their hair to kids in need
  • August 14. 2021, Brock completes the Platteville Super Sprint Triathlon with a personal best time and gets first place in his age range
  • August 20 and 21, 2021, Becky’s grandma Rose Heiderscheit has funeral services held and is laid to rest in Balltown, IA
  • August 22 and 23, 2021, Brock, Becky, Kyra, and Verity go to Wisconsin Dells. This is our first overnight trip and stay in a hotel since having to return home due to COVID-19 in March of 2020.
    • There will be a future post detailing how we made this a cost-effective outing by utilizing one of our superpowers…frugality!
  • August 27, 2021, was Kyra’s last day at the daycare she has been going to since 2017
  • On August 31, 2021, Becky closed her Dubuque Massage office and cleans out her office. In just over a month she has gone from 2 businesses to being retired!
  • September 3, 2021, we learn that the place we were going to live while “back home” is no longer an option, so we have to find a new place to stay and store our bed
  • On September 4, 2021, we had our final garage sale. We sold items left under $10 for 50% off and the items left worth $10 or more at 25% off, with the exclusion of about 12 items.
    • In total since starting to sell our items in August of 2020, we have sold over $14,000 and this does not include the house or vehicles
    • We estimate that we sold between 75% to 80% of everything we owned via garage sales and online Facebook Marketplace posts
      • To give you an idea of how much was sold for large furniture we now own only one item, a queen bed set
    • We kept a few items, otherwise, everything else was donated, consigned, or put on the curb, although there are a handful of items we are still trying to sell
  • On September 6, 2021, we had our retirement party with family and friends. It was the last celebration we hosted in the first house we owned as a couple and family.
  • September 9, 2021, was Verity’s last day at the only daycare she has went to.
  • September 13, 2021, was Kyra’s first day of home school (world school) as a kindergarten student, she loves her teachers and is doing great so far!!
  • September 15, 2021 is the day we have set to sell the 2017 Chevy Traverse to online car dealer Carvana.com. We hope everything goes smoothly with our drop-off meeting, which is set to take place in Monroe, WI.
    • Other than this we are waiting for one piece of mail to arrive and these are the last items keeping us from leaving (once we have moved)

As far as what we are doing now we are mostly:

  1. Packing items to store while we are gone
  2. Completing the electronic cleanup we need from owning 3 businesses that have been shut down
  3. Determine what we need for our trip and get it bought/packed
  4. Finishing the preparation we need to be away from home while traveling

Are you tired from reading all this? We are from getting it all done! The upside is the hard work is almost done and the fun is about to begin….

FIRE Travel Family - Wisconsin Dells - Kyra & Verity - Financial Independence - Retire Early
FIRE Travel Family – Wisconsin Dells, WI- Kyra & Verity On August 23, 2021

Brock Waterman

Written and posted 9/14/2021

House Sale Offer Accepted; Closing Set for July 23, 2021

FIRE Travel Family - Financial Independence - Retire Early - Our House - 550 Fremont - For Sale - Offer Accepted - Sold Ourself

Becky and I are EXCITED to announce that we have accepted an offer to buy our house! We accepted this offer on June 23 and the closing is set for July 23, 2021. There is a lot to love about this offer. For one, we sold the house for more than we had it listed on Zillow and Facebook. Second, the offer we accepted is from a cash buyer who has waived all contingencies. Our lawyer has the earnest money payment, although this did take some time. At this point, we are waiting on the abstract work to finish. In the meantime, the lawyer we hired is completing everything else needed for the closing.

We sold this house on our own (more to come about what we learned doing this in another post). We spent a lot of time cleaning and preparing the house for showings. We had a day of fixing small issues that buyers could have noticed. I did all the marketing, showings, communications, and negotiating. It was at times stressful, but this brief period of work will save us the 5 to 6% fee that realtors normally charge.

Marketing and showing our own house allowed us to get to know the potential buyers. This made it easier to negotiate for what was important to us. For instance, we will get up to 60 days rent-free and without a security deposit after closing in the house.

Selling the house was one of the biggest to-do items. Now on to other items like selling our vehicles, selling larger items in the house, and getting packed. We also are still working to determine our first travel location(s) and prepare for the travel we will be doing. It is not official until we close (sign the papers and receive the full payment). That said, it is great to be at this point!

Brock Waterman
Originally Written: 7/12/2021

Always Buy The Coconut!

On March 4, 2020, Becky, Kyra, Verity and I flew to Belize City.  It was the start of a long-planned one-month family trip to Belize.  Off the plane, we took the taxi to the ferry and went directly to the island of Caye Caulker.  For those who have been there before it is a small reef fringed coral island, home to around 2000 locals.  While we were there we walked the island to see the local seahorses, tarpons, and pelicans.  We enjoyed the beach areas and playgrounds.  We even took Kyra (who is 4) snorkeling for the first time at The Split, which was great.

FIRE Travel Family - Belize - The Split - Kyra & Brock - Financial Independence - Retire Early
Kyra & Brock Waterman – March 5, 2020 – Caye Caulker, Belize

However, what we didn’t do was something we came to regret later due to something we never saw coming.  During our walk around the island, there was a freshly cut coconuts stand.  Kyra did a great job asking politely for us to buy the coconut for her to try.  As parents know, it takes so much time to teach this skill to a child.  If memory serves me correctly we had just finished a meal and didn’t think the timing was right to buy it then.  We instead promised we would do this at some other point in the trip. 

FIRE Travel Family - Always Buy The Coconut - Financial Independence - Retire Early - Coconut Drink

We assumed we would buy it on a different day.  Additionally, we were in Belize for a month and had the last 10+ days on the beach.   We figured it would be no problem to get one later.  As it went we didn’t happen to go by this stand again while on Caye Caulker.  We next spent a few days on Ambergris Caye and while there didn’t have the best weather.  We also didn’t see anyone selling the fresh-cut coconut.  After that, the next 2 weeks of the trip were inland. 

What happened next wasn’t something we could have planned for at the time.  However, it will likely surprise no one reading this.  We arrived in San Ignacio on Monday, March 16, with a plan to check out and head for the coast on Saturday, March 21.  Our first day in San Ignacio was like every other one on the trip.  Additionally, we were not limited from doing anything during our time in San Ignacio.  As you might be guessing at this point COVID-19 changed our plans dramatically.  By Friday, the government announced the closing of the borders.  The airport closed to international flights on Monday, March 23.  So on Saturday, March 21 we flew home to the United States. 

Kyra never got her coconut.  Now to be realistic we know there have been larger issues many kids deal with.  Plus to be honest she forgot about this after asking a few times earlier on the trip.  But this stuck with us as parents.  Especially given how great she behaved on the trip and how much she loves new experiences.  Since then Becky and I have a shorthand expression that we apply to all parts of life now to “Always buy the coconut.” 

To be clear this doesn’t mean spending on everything the kids ask for.  Nor does it mean that money buys happiness, we know better than this.  It simply means don’t put off unique experiences you can do today with your children.  Because you truly never know what might happen in the future!  

To end on a happy note, we used what we had learned near the end of our trip.  We got these drinks called Slooshie (crushed ice-styled drink) and Smoozie (fresh fruit-based drink).  These were from a small shop called Bambu Tea + Coffee, in San Ignacio.  In them, you can put what they call bobas, which pop in your mouth when you drink it.  We decide to get one to try something new and because when we talked to Kyra about the options she wanted one.  She loved it!  Interestingly, to this day when she talks about Belize, this drink is the first thing she is likely to bring up.  What is special and important now for a child might not be special in the future.  Lastly, because you miss one opportunity do not take it too hard.  With kids, there will always be another opportunity to do something special.  Make sure you take it!

FIRE Travel Family - Always Buy The Coconut - Financial Independence - Retire Early - Bambu Tea Coffee San Ignacio - Belize
Bambu Tea Coffee San Ignacio – Belize

Brock Waterman
Originally Uploaded: 6/28/2021

Financial Independence & Early Retirement Email – Brock & Becky Waterman

On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, we announced that we had reached financial independence and that we will be selling most of our possessions to travel the world. We had told our immediate families and some close friends in the months leading up to this announcement. Below is the email we used to communicate our decision with everyone else and launch our FIRE Travel Family venture:

————————————–

Family, Friends & Colleagues:

Becky and I have exciting and life changing news.  Through hard work, a focused/frugal lifestyle, and strong financial management we have reached our financial independence goals!  Therefore, we are selling most of our possessions, our vehicles, and our house.  In regards to the house, please help us spread the word via our Zillow listing (https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/550-Fremont-Ave-Dubuque-IA-52003/50172084_zpid/?view=public) or on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/commerce/listing/255898449667472?media_id=4&ref=share_attachment).  Our plan is to “retire”, become full-time parents, and explore the world with Kyra & Verity! 

At this point in the email, you may have some questions or want to know more.  If that is the case follow us on social media at our new FIRE Travel Family venture (see below).  Our plan is to discuss our experiences and source content from people’s questions so everyone can have their questions discussed.  As always, we also look forward to what we can learn from others and in our travels.  Once we have had some time off to chill on the road we might even start teaching clients how to attain financial independence themselves.

So far we don’t have much online other than a few blog posts (https://firetravelfamily.com/blog/).  We don’t even have the logo created or website design/content done (only a general template).  That will change once the selling work is done in a few months and we are ready to hit the road.  At most, our current plan is to send one more email like this before going fully to social media.

Key accounts to follow for our major news:
Newsletter: https://firetravelfamily.com/newsletter/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2pfVpYTyUXbbwUTyI3oabQ
Twitter: https://twitter.com/FIRETravelFamly
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/firetravelfamily/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FIRETravelFamily

Others we may update:

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/firetravelfamily
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/firetravelfamily
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@firetravelfamily

Brock, Becky, Kyra & Verity Waterman
FIRE Travel Family
www.firetravelfamily.com
firetravelfamily@gmail.com 
Originally Written: 6/15/2021
Posted: 6/20/2021

An Overview to Living Frugally

FIRE Travel Family - Frugal Living - Financial Independence - Retire Early

Becky and I are frugal people in many financial aspects, which has led to our financial independence. The biggest place this shows in how we acquire material items (aka “stuff”), but also extends to experiences. But before we get to what we buy, let’s talk about the why of buying. For us, we always start with the question is this something we truly need. When you think this way, you often find you have something else that you can use to make due. Or you might be able to temporarily borrow an item from someone else. Lastly, can you rent or otherwise get for free temporarily? We utilize the public library just about weekly. We can get books, movies, and more for no cost. Need a book they don’t have, fill out a request form and usually, they will get it.

This mentality also extends to activities. For instance, we take part in the free kid’s activities available at the library and through the city. Want something more in-depth? We are part of a local Parent’s as Teachers where we have bi-weekly meetings with a Parent-Educator. This brings weekly hands-on activities and social interactions for our kids. It also helps us expand our parenting knowledge and skills because of the educational documents we read as part of this. We love hiking, which is often free (or low-cost). Not only do you get away from electronics, you help your kids connect to nature and have time together. Parks are another great free option. Again our city also has free events and at many of these, they include meals, activities, and sometimes even free items.

But what about when we need to buy something? When possible we try to make sure we are not surprised by an emergency need. This is important because when you have the time it opens up your options. Options for getting great used items include family and friends, garage sales (online and in-person), thrift stores, corporate second-hand stores (like Goodwill), online websites and groups (like Facebook Marketplace and the various groups selling items in your area), free curb pickups, and more.

We buy the majority (probably around 80% to 90%) of all non-perishable items used. This includes clothes, toys, furniture, workout equipment, books, and more. We often pay cents on the dollar for these same items as you would if you purchase them new. Often times we get items, use them for years and turn around sell them for the same (or more) than we paid for them.

As an example, at one point we picked up a bike we thought our oldest daughter might use for free off a curb one day. As we found a better other option a couple of years later we turned around and sold this bike for $45. This isn’t the norm, and I am not advocating being a hoarder. When you buy something that has some use the price can drop substantially from its new price. Additionally, people often really want to get rid of the item, so they take a low price. We have found that most larger items we have bought used have held their value or sold for more on the recent garage or online sales we have done.

Do we ever buy new things? Absolutely! Because of my allergies, anything that has cloth that can’t be put in a washing machine (for instance couches or recliners) are something we typically buy new. I use my computer daily and always want one with high-end specs. While I do shop around, I buy high-end here. TVs are also something else we have usually bought new. Lastly, and most importantly, we spend more to get quality, healthy food items. While it is cheaper in the short term to buy fast food and low-quality food, the long-term health costs are not worth it. We spend to get the best whole food items like vegetables, fruits, and meats. We buy local when possible (including for all of our beef). We watch specials and do our best to stay in season for fruits and vegetables to get lower prices and better quality. Also, we do a lot of frozen fruit which the kids love and which make the best fruit shakes.

This post has just scratched the surface of how we live frugally. For instance, we have saved money by getting low-interest loans from family members. But this post gives you an idea of how we were able to reach financial independence and retire early. When we spend we always think is this item worth the time it takes to make the money for it? Essentially, is it worth more time away from the kids and more work? We find the answer is often no, and this simple test helps to eliminate a lot of unneeded or want-based spending.

Brock Waterman
Originally Written: 6/2/2021
Last Edit: 6/3/2021

FIRE Travel Family: The Origin Story

Welcome to the FIRE Travel Family blog! What can you expect? Brock and Becky Waterman are going to share knowledge, experience, and life hacks.

FIRE Travel Family - Brock, Becky, Kyra & Verity Waterman
Belize – March 2020

Why should you care? Good question, thanks for asking! Brock and Becky have traveled to over 35 countries. These were not short trips either. When we travel we average a month in each country. In fact, Brock has spent over 3 years of his life outside the United States, including a 14-month trip in his 20’s. Our oldest Kyra (4) has already spent nearly 4 months on vacation traveling to places like Hawaii, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Lesotho, and Belize (it would be more if not for COVID).

Where it gets even more interesting is that we have not mortgaged our future to do this. In fact, we have saved all the way along, while still doing what we consider important for our kids and family. Due to this in 2021 we have made the decision to

  • sell our house
  • sell most of our belongings
  • sell or transition Becky’s two massage therapy businesses
  • transition Brock’s Innovative Dubuque consulting business
  • travel the world with our kids as a way of life for the foreseeable future

Hence, FIRE Travel Family will chronicle our lives abroad and share how we got to this point. Wondering what FIRE stands for? Once again, great active listening (reading) on your part! Financial Independence Retire Early aka FIRE is the name of the movement where people are doing this with which Becky and I are broadly associated. But here is the thing, we only learned there were other people doing this in February of 2021. To that point, Becky and I had just been making this up as we went along. So is there any real sorcery involved in getting to financial independence? No there is not, just focus, planning, and spending on the important things in life (and leaving most material desires behind).

Once again from Brock, Becky, Kyra & Verity Waterman, welcome to our FIRE Travel Family! We are excited you are here and hope you are ready to learn, interact and drive the content we produce from this so it can be the most useful and valuable.

Brock Waterman
Originally Written: 6/2/2021
Updated: 6/10/2021