This September, It is 4 years since we made the big Move- or so many big moves- Started our journey towards F.I.R.E, got married, became digital nomads. I quit my job and we made Goa our home.
We did so much in the last 4 years, today we both feel like very different people and we can’t stop but share this journey with you as best as our memory allows 🙂 You may be surprised by the fact that till 4 years back our life plans were totally fluid. Naren had introduced me to MMM but we had not started our FIRE journey yet. We were poles apart in our spending habits and views on personal finances.
These past 4 years were nothing short of a roller-coaster ride that we enjoyed thoroughly, as we learned a lot about ourselves, about each other and these 4 years have been the best teacher to us.
Also we are guilty as charged for writing lengthy blog posts with lots of math, so here is some fun and light reading 🙂 We will share the past 4 years journey in 4 parts. This is a photo-heavy post, please bear if due to a slow internet connection they take a bit more time to load.
TABLE OF CONTENT
2014, YEAR ZERO: Year of Big Changes, Contemplation and Travel
Mid 2014. By this time Naren had returned from US after working there for a decade and had started multiple projects and was working remotely. I was on 3 months sabbatical from work- living in a small village in the hills of Himachal Pradesh, taking part in an intensive yoga course. I have some great memories of that time- those months were filled with beautiful scenery, leisurely walks, great food, 4 hours of yoga every day, reading and enjoying my new-found freedom from work. (Illustration by Sugandha:-))
We would sit for hours in cafes in this small village and talk about the kind of life we both wanted and how to make it possible- at this point we had made a very rudimentary excel sheet with all our assets and our monthly expenses.
Big Decision No:1- Sugandha to continue the Job or to Quit?
The next big decision we had to make at this point was whether I would go back to work after sabbatical or quit my job?
Lot of people wonder why I quit my job at such a young age, It was not an easy call since it was the best job I had in my whole working career. The thing is I do not like to do things half-heartedly. So once I felt that a corporate career and hectic life were not what I wanted for myself for the rest of my life, I started thinking of alternatives. While I did not have a straight-forward answer back then, I knew I won’t find one sitting in my office. So I took a leap of faith to explore the unknown. Fortunately I had a financial safety net to fall back on and I thought even if I failed I will again start from scratch. It is easy to be optimistic when you are 29 :-). Looking back I can see the risks involved with taking such a drastic step. Things could have gone either ways.
At 33, I am glad I took that step that early on because I don’t have the courage or energy to take such a drastic, risky step at this stage in my life. Now I want a more settled and predictable life that we are building for ourselves.
I was still only half way through my sabbatical so we decided to tick off one item of our bucket list- A road trip to Leh, Ladakh via Manali.
Road Trip to Leh and Ladhak
The road trip took us two days from Manali to reach Leh Ladhak. We camped by the river the first night. The whole time we were simply in awe of the scenery- you have to see it to believe it. But the roads were not that good and the two day journey was not very comfortable. But what the heck! we were too excited to let that affect us.
The region is a high altitude cold desert, because of the Himalayan range on one side which does not allow monsoon clouds to enter the region
We ended this trip in awe of beauty of this region.
Back to Delhi Via Kashmir
On the way back to Delhi we made a de-tour via’ Kashmir. Leh to kashmir by road is overnight journey with fantastic roads. I remember we reached Kashmir on 14th August. I had never ever seen so much military personnel walking on the roads. Later we got to know that because of Independence day they were on extra vigil. The Upside was we had Dal Lake to ourselves.
We flew back from Kashmir to our concrete jungle for couple of days.
After we came back, I decided to quit my job. I met my boss and colleagues and informed them of my decision- I got a mixed reaction. They had already given me a 3 months sabbatical to think over it (Very generous of them, they are without doubt one of the most talented people I worked with), so we were able to wrap up things pretty quickly.
Big decision 2- Where to live?
Next big decision we had to make was where to live since both of us were now location independent? At this stage both of us were like free birds, ready to fly! we were so excited about the possibilities. We were keen to stay in the hills but decided against it because of geographic isolation and infrastructure. Both of us required high speed internet. After a lot of research and eliminating places we had a winner in Goa. We decided to take a trip to Goa to check it out.
Recci Trip to Goa
I had been to Goa once before and for Naren it was the first time. We had already shortlisted 5-6 villages in Goa via internet research that we wanted to check out Aldona, Parra, Assagao, Benaulim, Moira and one or two in South Goa that I do not remember now. We started with staying in an AirBNB in Aldona- One of the most picturesque, idyllic villages in North Goa.
We explored Goa for a month, stayed in south as well as north Goa to get the vibe of the place. Ultimately we zeroed down to where we began- we decided to stay in Aldona.
We finalized the house lease and felt a big burden lift from our head. It was a cute 2 bedroom brand new duplex, semi-furnished. We got a good deal on rent for 14,000/month!!!!
Few days later we joined our friends in Jodhpur for Rajasthan International Folk Festival (RIFF).
Goa to Jodhpur
RIFF is an annual festival organized to promote traditional folk music and arts held at Jodhpur in October. It was my second time attending this music festival. This 5 day event is a total immersion into music and arts. Artists gather from all over india and the world and play from dusk to dawn at multiple music venues in and around Mehrangarh Fort.
In my opinion it is the most well organized music festival that I have ever been to in India. The crowd is great and the facilities are managed well. But for some reason I could not find our pictures of this event, so I am using some from the internet that represent my experience of RIFF.
We enjoyed ourselves a lot and I also used this opportunity to shop for my wedding dress from Jodhpur. After this we went home to do prep for our wedding.
Biggest Event of the Year
November, 2014: The year zero was concluded with a big bang- Our Wedding! We both wanted a very simple wedding but our parents could not contain themselves and went full out. Thank you Mom and Dad 🙂
We celebrated this new beginning with our family and friends and felt very lucky to be where we were in our lives.
Fun fact: Naren is from Chennai and does fantastic bhangra. He floored the North Indian Side of the family with this one performance.
By the end of year Zero few key things were clear to us
- We wanted to live a quiet life outside of metros– We both love quiet, greenery, long walks in nature- which is not possible on a daily basis in a big city.
- We both wanted autonomy– We both enjoy work but do not enjoy 10-12 hours work days or stressful work environments. We both felt a need to do something meaningful to us, something more than a job, and to create a balanced life, where work is important but not over and above our personal and family life.
- We were ready to downsize our lifestyle– We lived these 3-4 months with one backpack each (including winter gear) and we did not miss a thing. We got a lot more confidence in experimenting with a more frugal lifestyle as we tried to land back on our feet.
- We found our answer in F.I.R.E- We realized that if we want to experiment with our life and keep our freedom, FIRE is a way to go. Both of us were convinced more than ever to make F.I.R.E work for us so that we can have the lifestyle we want forever. So, debt free, with 7 years worth of expenses saved, and a 2 BHK apartment to our name we decided to give it our all to this experiment and see where it takes us.
Our expenses in year zero: year 2014
We both were very aware that we do not have monthly pay-check anymore, so wherever possible we tried to be frugal. But we had fair bit of expenses on travel and setting up house in Goa
Unfortunately we started using Spendee and tracking our expenses from August, 2014 so we only have record of last 5 months. During this period we spent total of 4 lacs . Below is the snapshot of breakup from our app.
As you can biggest spending was on flight, hotel stay, one-time house set-up, cabs and eating out.
Isn’t it awesome to go back and see where you money goes!
We will share what happened in next three years- our mistakes, learnings and fun things too in 3 separate blog posts over next few months!
If you want to know any more specifics feel free to ask us in comments and feel free to share this blog post with your friends and family.