So Much Time & So Little To Do!

Wait a minute. Strike that – reverse it! I know, I know, I haven't updated this blog in months. What gives?! If things get any more sporadic around here I'll be on the Miss Mazuma publishing schedule! 😉 Maybe I should adopt the slogan of Wait, Buy Why and claim that I'll have “new posts every sometimes”?

But seriously, it's been a very busy (but exciting!) few months for me. Instead of publishing something for the sake of schedule, I'd rather focus on quality over quantity when it comes to these posts. I have a few new ones in the works, but I'd rather take my time and deliver the same standard you've come to expect from me these past two years…

Two years to the day, in fact! On this day two years ago, this crazy blog was born at CampFI in Gainesville, Florida. A lot has happened since I launched this blog: I sold a rental property, exercised my FU money, quit my job, and eventually reached financial independence! I watched this blog grow from an average of five readers per day to over five hundred daily visitors! And I met a ton of amazing new friends, many of whom I saw IRL for the first time at FinCon this past September!

So… what's been keeping this early retired guy so busy these past few months?

Creative Stuff

This Christmas, I collaborated on a really fun project with Scott of I Dream Of Fire and MSF of My Sons Father to create a FI Christmas video featuring Jonathan and Brad of ChooseFI, Scott from Bigger Pockets Money, and even Suze Orman! My brother and I created the music at my home recording studio, Listen Loud Music. And I performed those smooth crooner style vocals myself 😉 . Lyrics were written by Scott, and all the great Lego animation was created by ‘My Sons Father'. If you haven't watched the video yet, it's a real treat:

Speaking of music – my brother and I actually just completed an ambitious project we've been working on for a few years: we created the soundtrack for an original musical! Think Frozen meets Aladdin, but with a fresh sound- we essentially took a stab at creating a soundtrack for an imaginary Disney movie. It's called Cannetella, and it's based on an old Italian fairy tale of the same name.

My brother John and I at work in the studio

It was a TON of fun to make, and we finally published it online. The Wife and I had some fun laying down the demo vocals, so if you're into musicals, you can stream it for free right here:

And if you really can't get enough of hearing my voice, I'm happy to announce that I'm now a podcast host! My friend Lauren and I just launched our brand new podcast In Love and Money, which explores topics like combing finances, retiring single, prenuptial agreements, marital money disagreements, and much more! We're on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. We're aiming for new episodes every other week, and you can start listening right here:

And in a bizarre colliding of passions, my music life and blogger/podcaster lives are combining, as I've recently started licensing my original music for podcast use! That sweet theme music you hear in the In Love And Money into is the instrumental version of my song Juliet, and Cody and Justin on The FI Show are now using the instrumental from my song The Real Thing. A few other podcasts will be using my music soon as well, so this is turning into a pretty cool side hustle! If you know anyone who needs original music, send them my way!

Sweat & Hard Work

Alright, that pretty much sums up my “sitting in front of a computer” style work; now let's talk about some of the more physically demanding work I've been up to.

Mr. Money Mustache says that hard work is the key to happiness, and he must be on to something because I've been working harder and feeling happier than I have in a long time! One week per month, I've been traveling down to south Florida to spend time shadowing my dad, who owns his own home repair business. A third generation contractor, my dad is the handiest guy I know, but I never learned his trade growing up. My parents always insisted I study hard, go to college, and get a good degree, and so I never really picked up the handy gene.

Here's Dad and I pouring a new concrete slab in his back yard

But that's changing fast – each month I'm working on different jobs with him, trying to absorb as much knowledge as I can. Here's just a sampling of some of the things I've learned lately: Deck construction and replacement, fence repair, AC unit maintenance and troubleshooting, garbage disposal repair, installing outdoor electrical receptacles, roof repair… the list goes on.

All these skills are great, but being able to spend more quality time with my parents every month is one of the best benefits of being financially independent: I finally have time for the important stuff. I'm so thankful for this – I've gone from seeing my parents three or four times a year to seeing them once or twice a month. As an Italian, family is one of the most important things in life, and I'm so lucky I have the opportunity to spend more time with them.

Dad and I working together on a roof in South Florida

All this hard work with my dad increased my ambition for making improvements to my own home, so I recently started the process of re-landscaping (de-landscaping?) my back yard. The previous homeowners decided to put a large berm of plants and trees directly in the center of the back yard. While it did provide privacy, having a giant planter in the middle of the yard was less than ideal. So I've spent the last week clearing brush, transplanting mango and citrus trees, and leveling land. Check out some before and after photos:

Before: A ton of overgrown vegetation taking up the majority of our yard.
After: we have a yard again! I still have to fix up the fence and the sod, but it's a start!
Another angle showing how much more space we have now.

This was hard but rewarding work. And I had the physical strength required to do this project, thanks to the custom workout plan my brother made for me when I started early retirement. For the past year, I've been following his plan:

  • Mondays (Chest):  flys, bench press, incline press, and decline press
  • Tuesdays (Legs): extensions, curls, squats, and calves
  • Wednesdays (Back + Shoulders): pull-ups, rows, and shoulder press
  • Thursdays (Arms): close grip bench, skull crushers, dips, curls

This plan is perfect for me, as I get to frontload my workouts at the beginning of the week, leaving three-day ‘weekends' for travel, rest, and leisure. Most workouts take about an hour or so to complete. Since first starting my brother's program over a year ago, I've put on fifteen pounds of muscle mass, and increased my resistance on the bench significantly.

My brother shares a Google doc with me so he can set my goals for each week
My squat numbers have more than doubled. And I went from being able to do only six pull-ups, to doing four sets of fifteen pull-ups! This strength came in handy pulling out roots, moving trees, and lifting heavy bags of yard debris. My brother's taking on new clients, so if you think a custom-tailored workout plan might help you achieve your fitness goals this year, email me and I'll put you in contact with him.


It hasn't been all sweat and hard work, however. While working on this daily exercise routine, I started listening to all of the Harry Potter audiobooks. I don't know how it happened, but I'm that guy that must have lived under a rock these past two decades because I missed out on the whole Hogwarts craze. But during my workouts, I ended up listening to the entire 125 hours of magic! According to the sorting hat on Pottermore, I'm a Ravenclaw, and this really resonates with me! Gryffindors are brave to a fault, and Slytherin are often too ambitious for their own good, so its no wonder my favorite character was Luna Lovegood.  I really, really enjoyed these books! 🙂

In other fun happenings… I got to sit down with Rita Skeeter… er, I mean CNBC reporter Anna Nova, along with Big ERN and the Physician on Fire at FinCon this past fall, resulting in this CNBC feature on early retirement. It was a lot of fun, and I love seeing positive news like this in the media.

Last but certainly not least, I just got back from CampFI Southeast in Gainesville, Florida, where I gave a presentation on how to think about money, titled “So You Want To Be Rich?!”. It was really well received, and you can watch the entire presentation right here:

If you've never been to CampFI or Camp Mustache, you really should go. I've been to four of them, and they are truly amazing experiences. I wrote a review about the first camp I ever attended here.


So there you have it. A new post that is essentially a well-organized list of excuses for why I haven't made a new post lately. 🙂 But you know what? That's part of the beauty of financial independence – I get to work on what I want, when I want to! Between my new podcast, my various music projects, and preparing for my presentation at CampFI, my post schedule around here has become a bit sporadic.

That's not to say I haven't been working hard on the blog… I have a dozen drafted posts, including an update on our current portfolio and allocation, our future drawdown strategy, and my take on the current sale going on in the stock market (hint – if you don't already front load your investments, now is the time). These posts will all be rolling out over the next few … well, we'll see.

Thank you, dear reader, for an amazing first two years!

Interested in starting your own Financial 180? You've come to the right place. The math is easy: create a gap between what you earn, and what you spend. If you can save half your income, your working career will only be around a decade long! Want to shorten it even more? Read on to see exactly what expenses the wife and I cut from month to month. Track your progress against the milestones of FI, and gradually build up your own savings snowball. Check out the books and links in our resources section and jump-start your journey to FI. The you ten years from now will be glad you did! Ready? Start here.

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14 thoughts on “So Much Time & So Little To Do!”

    1. Thanks Gwen! You’re one of the people who helped make this blog a reality in the first place, and I’m pretty grateful to have a blog mentor like you!

  1. What you missed the Harry Potter craze!?! Welcome to the club, glad you had time to listen to the books!

    After growing up in a not remotely handy family (how did I end up as an engineer?), I’ve been enjoying learning lots of those skills too with my free time these past few months.

    Glad to see an update! I should probably do that soon.

    1. I should make everyone in the comments here reveal their Hogwarts house! 🙂 Glad to hear you’ve been honing those DIY skills… and also glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t posted in a little while…

    1. It took me a few months, but I have certainly found my groove! Really enjoying the creative projects and all the social aspects of them, collaborating with other creative types; It’s been a lot of fun, but also rewarding.

  2. Joel,
    I think it is totally RAD that you are spending time with your dad and learning how to be a handyman! Sure wish I had that kind of opportunity. I love working with my hands, and it is SO gratifying to see what I can do with some skills and the right tools. Props on the workout dedication too…Alexis is one lucky woman to have such an intelligent hubby that is also fit and fun. So sad that I couldn’t make it to Gainesville this year. Keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks Julia! Yeah it has been really great learning my dad’s trade. I have a long way to go, but I already feel more empowered and ambitious in DIY!

  3. You’re doing it right Joel! And maybe it’s because your posts don’t appear very regularly anymore that I get super excited to read them when they do. Enjoy FI, my friend!

    1. Thanks Maria! A year into FIRE and I’m still finding my balance. Very happy to hear that my posts are worth waiting for. Aiming for the next one to be in a few weeks, instead of a few months… 🙂

  4. Love seeing how you are filling your time and adjusting to “retirement.” I first started reading your blog as I was discovering FI and you were getting ready to live it. My husband and I have IT backgrounds and can relate.

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