You’re probably the curious type*.
And that’s a good sign you’re in the right place since we have something in common.
I’m a dad on the path to financial freedom (i.e. FIRE or Financial Independence, Retire Early), but what I’m after boils down to the “Freedom” part, the “Financial” part is just what enables it and is going to do the “heavy lifting”.
Let’s step back for a second.
Finances are big part of this site, but our bodies and health (physical and mental) are really the single best long-term investments we can make.
Second best investments are:
- Planning for and achieving financial freedom in 10 years (or less) to regain your time and independence (i.e. freedom)
- Learning new skills (and revisiting old skills that have atrophied), while becoming more capable and confident
- Realizing you’re not your job and it does not define you (unless you let it)
I want to share my journey to help others regain control of their lives, make friends along the way and inspire each other.
Once I learned about these priceless FIRE principles lots of my older ideas clicked with these new ones and it started to come together as a usable framework incorporating most of the big, defining principles I lived by.
This more easily helped me incorporate them into my life and within a few months I experienced firsthand how effective they were.
I realized how important it is to share them and not just keep them to myself, especially since my tactics and playbook are quite different from the standard health and FIRE advice being shared, which can help a large group of people that aren’t extremely high earners become free and live longer (it still applies to high-earners, but it’s geared more towards folks not making tons).
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.”
– Helen Keller
Even though I like to blaze my own path and push things further, I’m basically experimenting and mixing new and old ideas “while standing on the shoulders of giants”** to uncover alternative ways to achieve the “impossible” with minimal effort. I didn’t say “no effort”, just not crazy amounts like the insane norm of our 24/7, “busy” obsessed culture that thinks being overworked deserves a merit badge and busting their asses to achieve mediocre financial results***.
No thanks! Better to be logical and not a lemming when it comes to things with massive lifelong implications.
Because of this…
Helping overworked—mid-to-late career—men (and women) achieve lifelong health, freedom & independence is my mission (while having LOTS of FUN detours along the way).
“So who’s this FitDIYDad guy?”
I’m just a regular guy that has a hard time accepting the status quo, while having lots of non-standard opinions, ideas & solutions.
I’m not an expert in any of this stuff, but I experiment A LOT with my life because of my curiosity-bug.
I love numbers, spreadsheets—and online calculators—while putting more objective numbers to things (even if a little imprecise), and coming to my own conclusions instead of taking things at face-value or believing headlines or statistics delivered/spread by people and organizations with vested interests, perverse incentives or selfish motives.
“It is better to be approximately right than precisely wrong.”
– Warren Buffett
I’m turning 39 at the end of the month and plotting my course to achieve my freedom in 5 years—from work I like, but don’t absolutely love or see myself doing in 10 years.
My target “freedom” date (Late May 2023) is just in time to spend tons more time with my son when he turns 10.
I’ve been frugal—bordering on cheap****—for most of my life, and being the product of two very frugal/cheap cultures (Jewish and Iranian) that have their own issues and norms, and adding to that being first generation American made for a hand-in-glove fit with FIRE. My personal cocktail enabled me to be debt-free and have a decent amount of savings and investments prior to being introduced to this whole FIRE thing.
Yes, I’m not exactly the typical 39 year old American in that respect and I can be a tad extreme (and obsessive) at times, but it’s the outliers that help uncover new things and inspire change, since what worked for me can be toned down or modified to become more applicable to you and your situation.
I’ve also been into value investing for almost two decades and that’s given me a different perspective on things like ridiculous valuations of public companies and the future value of money, but in terms of what’s most useful from my investing experience it’s compound interest (which can be experienced and learned by using a free compound interest calculator, no need to overdue it like I did with the finance degree, by experiencing the losses on individual stocks because of clouded decision-making or by reading all the books I have read).
In terms of where I started vs. lots of others in society I have an negligible advantage since I’m unusual, but with all the info now available from great people (it’s important to limit your sources to reputable people and not constantly adding to your sources without having them earn that privilege). With all the great personal examples being shared so widely there’s a huge opportunity for others to skip a lot of the trial and error and experimenting, and borrow the big principles from others and modify the specifics to fit you.
I guess I’m also a minimalist and to me “more” unnecessary stuff and consumption have become a little repulsive. This was before FIRE and it happened unconsciously at first. After about 6 years of downsizing homes to progressively smaller spaces it helped me realize how few things I needed/wanted and made it easier to prioritize the important stuff (it becomes easier when there’s not enough room for “more” stuff).
All this helped me define what “enough” meant for me, and it’s okay revising that up or down based on what’s presently important.
I’m also looking to rekindle the love affair I’ve had with working with my hands and body, creating, repairing and maintaining physical things by reviving my long lost interests and hobbies—while exploring new ones. Being chained to a computer hasn’t satisfied me the way fixing or building something very simple has/does and I can no longer have that part of me on the backburner and I will be sharing that journey here too (which is a small part of the “DIY” focus for the site).
I was previously using lots of different tactics without much of an overall plan, and I was doing okay and things were headed in the right direction with my finances (slowly), but my health and weight weren’t very good.
Once I started getting organized with FIRE and having an overall strategy, while consciously planning things, and having timelines, numbers to track progress against, goals and milestones things started to snowball financially.
Because of that positive momentum, motivation and boost in confidence from the financial side of my life I decided to apply similar practices to my health, while realizing it’s all about the choices we make (it’s under our control, if we choose to “take the wheel”) and just like with my finances, that part of my life also started to make sense as I gained knowledge and control, while focusing on big principles and avoiding the short-term
trapssolutions that rarely lead to where you’re trying to get.
So I decided to marry the big things in my life into a blog to share and document the case study that is my life.
My “why” related to a complete life (and FIRE as an enabler)
Back to the big things in my life… they’re my son, community, health, creating with my hands, developing new skills (via DIY and learning by doing) and my finances (and freedom).
I refer to these as my “why”. As in why I do what I do and how my various why’s fit together to make me a whole person.
I like to look at them as a complete human body and how they fit together with:
- Family, community & happiness: as the “brain” charting the course with the guiding principles that the rest of the system fits into and holds as the priority
- Health & physical fitness: as the “torso/core” that holds the body together and is best when strong (and also acts as insurance and an investment for the future)
- DIY: as the “arms” (and hands, which I am obsessed with) that are becoming more and more skillful, while helping develop self sufficiency and confidence
- FIRE/finances & freedom: as the “legs” that enable freedom and independence, while supporting your body and giving you mobility (in terms of options and choices)
FIRE and the freedom it gives you is the means to get to your individual ends. It’s important to not confuse the FIRE as the “end” goal.
My goals and where I’m at with them
I’ve been busy with family, work and writing articles for this site and haven’t updated my FIRE spreadsheets in two months and will report back on that when I do my update*****.
I’m also in the middle of changing up my FIRE spreadsheet, since my first two attempts weren’t doing the job, required too much effort and lots of weird formulas, and didn’t deliver what I wanted at a glance.
I’ve looked at FIRE trackers of a few other folks and will borrow some of their ideas and make it mine to fit my situation.
The main theme here is simplicity. Tracking progress should be simple, since if it’s not you’ll end up in my current situation and be two (damn) months behind. I still look at Mint (for expenses and earned income) and Personal Capital (for investments and investment income) regularly and have a pretty good handle on things and know I’m not doing horribly, but I don’t know exactly where I stand and how much further I have to go.
So I’m currently missing that level of insight and the powerful motivation that comes along with tracking.
From my last update two months ago I have achieved 41.1% of my phase 1 FIRE goal (so I have 58.9% to go, which I plan to achieve in the next 5 years).
I’ll share more on my FIRE-in-phases strategy in a future article. In the next 12 months I’m planning to make above average (for me) progress towards achieving FIRE when I expand my investments beyond stocks and index funds and scale back my current freelancing gigs and to focus more on growing business income (where I’m not trading my time for money linearly) and where the risk/return is a lot better in exchange for some additional management time doing something I enjoy more (which is working for myself on my terms and more freedom).
Full disclosure: I expect this site to deliver some of my FIRE income in the coming years (no idea how much since creating a site from scratch is a very long-term investment, I’ll break it out in my FIRE update posts). For me it’s primarily a passion and happiness project, it’s one of the few projects I’ve felt totally aligned with. And I really want to share and learn alongside others. Making some money from it would also be nice, but just the “cherry on top” type.
I don’t want any elephants in the room, like with lots of other FIRE blogs that omit that little detail and has you scratching your head.
As far as fitness goals go, I won’t get into that too much, since I’ll cover that in a future health post, but in less than a year I’ve achieved my first two goals and currently working on some smaller fitness, strength and body goals.
What the blog’s about—and what can you expect by tuning in
The name of the blog is not entirely clear, and I want to clear it up about the “Fit” part of Fit DIY Dad.
“Fit” is one of those words that the media has overused in the context of health, that most people don’t think (or know) the actual definition of “Fit”, which boils down to:
Being capable or suitable at something.
That’s the end goal here, helping others become capable physically, financially and as part of a larger community and society. The “DIY” thing fits in since when you’re capable of doing things yourself you become more independent and confident, which are also big parts of what I want for people that read and contribute to this blog.
I want to benefit others and learn together while helping create independent “graduates”, not dependent, mindless zombies.
Just to reiterate, this is not a strict health/fitness and DIY project blog, but we’ll cover some of those too along the journey, with other fun detours, one of the biggies will be financial freedom.
Since I’m not an expert in any of this stuff this blog is geared towards beginners and helping them get healthy, wealthy & capable and other folks on the path to FIRE that want to tune into someone elses take on things.
And because starting is usually the hardest part and holds the biggest growth opportunities, I want to help introduce the ideas (and how to implement them from the real examples in my life) to the people that can benefit the most from them.
I’m a dad (of an amazing and energetic 5 year old boy, as of May 2019), it’s a big part of my identity and I tend to relate to men better so the blog has a male/dad leaning, but most of the stuff is applicable to females too. The plan for the dad stuff now is cool projects that are kid and dad-friendly, but will probably grow organically to include more things, since my boy is always surprising me with the questions he has and the things that interest him, so I have to adapt and be flexible, since it’s about him, not me.
One of the big catalysts for writing this stuff is to have something my son can refer to when he’s older and also how ridiculously out-of-hand consumption has gotten (and it’s right hand man, “the media” that fuels that fire since we’re always comparing) and how there’s a better option that’s also better for you, the people around you and the planet too.
In America between the big houses full of “stuff”—that will be shuttled to the landfill in a few years with a replacement following right behind to take it’s spot—the long commutes in wasteful SUVs, the long hours at mostly unsatisfying jobs, obesity exploding or not knowing our neighbors or feeling a sense of community we’ve ended up setting a pretty low bar in terms of long-term improvement and genuine, simple happiness.
The key to making things better is awareness of the problem(s) and having good solutions to apply to your life to see how they fit.
Because of the level of ridiculousness and the bar being set so low it’s created a HUGE opportunity for lots of improvement without much effort since there’s LOTS of FAT to cut—and I love cutting.
One of the big guiding principles is being more conscious of your consumption by reframing how you decide on things that want to come into your life in terms of long-term happiness and health. By using this consciousness to narrow down what’s really important to you you begin to see everything as a choice, something within your control.
The upshot of taking this path is you avoid having to reflect on your life much later in life (possibly when it’s too late to make a meaningful change) and having regrets because things turned out much differently from when you think back to your childhood and what you wanted to do with your life when you’re older or when remembering the best, most memorable times you had growing up and how they probably had everything to do with the people in your life or learning something that changed you and little to do with the latest gadget, a fancy meal at a restaurant or the new car you had 10 years ago (and how it quickly turned into an old car that didn’t satisfy you as much as it did the first few weeks you owned it).
“Can I afford this?”… “What are the monthly payments?”… “How are the reviews?”…
“Do I really need this?”… “Will this purchase make me happier 12 months from now?”… “How much longer will I have to work if I buy this?”… “How much earlier will I reach financial freedom if I don’t buy this?”… “Is there an alternative that will give me similar happiness for a fraction of the cost?”
To achieve this valuable perspective change we need to do things differently from most people (including your loved ones, friends, coworkers & neighbors) and learn how to design our lives for ultimate long-term happiness and not having to work an extra 20+ years at a job you don’t like (or might stop liking in the future) to consume things today that give you extremely short term happiness which then turns into long-term unhappiness as the years go by.
The really good part is that it comes down to a handful of changes and decisions that make the biggest impact to your health and wealth, and once you start there these better decisions spill over to other parts of your life as a byproduct, which gets you further ahead.
Finally, my promise to you is that…
…this site won’t be like the standard site where I’ll highlight the successes and sweep the failures and issues I encounter under the rug, since both are instructive (and neither are entirely good or bad).
I’ll be sharing both parts of my life, since life is not actually like what’s portrayed on social media (showing the “highlight reel”) or a resume (listing all the “assets” and none of the “liabilities”).
This blog will be like a real balance sheet…
Assets AND Liabilities.
Failures AND Successes.
If you like what you read and want to stay in touch and get updates for future articles sign up and don’t be a stranger
*What tipped me off is you’re reading a post about my story, and now you’re reading this footnote. Smile!
**My main “giants” here are Mr. Money Mustache, Tim Ferriss, Warren Buffett, Charlie Munger, Mike Bonadio, Bob Wells of Cheap RV Living, “Your Money or Your Life” (I read this book in my late teens and re-read it recently), Billy from Forever Jobless, Tim Urban from Wait Buy Why.
***Mainly caused by giving into short-term wants via culturally reinforced consumerism, excess and not getting a few of the critical ongoing expenses right (or making too many compromises due to a lack of financial knowledge and letting emotions take over decision-making).
****I’m still working on the differences between “frugal” and “cheap” and trying to be more frugal and less cheap, but I still identify with being “cheap” and it’s a part of me for now and I’d be lying if I denied that.
*****I’m debating how I will share my FIRE updates, I’m weighing towards a single page that I regularly update instead of creating a new page each month, since I find it awkward navigating/searching the sites of others with dozens of progress update posts and it takes an effort to see the entire path, while a single page with charts that are updated, where meaningful changes are noted at the bottom with a date seems more the direction I want to go since it creates a more usable “timeline” type of page where you can really digest the progress, journey, the hickups and course-corrections.