Marine On FIRE

Planning to be FIREd from the military

2017 Bye Bye

BLUF:  2017 was a violent kick to the face, but I am still here, still recovering. Financially, it was a good year. We completed all our goals but also dealt with some significant expenses. Before you can forecast your future, you need to understand your past.

2017, if I never see you again, it will be too soon

I say that in jest, sorta.

2017 was a kick to the face.  Lots of bad news. So many needles, more drugs than I can count, excruciating pain (so bad that morphine did nothing), a surprise chest surgery, too many ER visits, and a bonus month long hospital stay at the end of the year. I have track lines all over my arms and am bald again from yet another round of chemo.

With that said, I am still here and there were a lot of positives as well.

Early Christmas Present

I received an early Christmas present when I was released from the hospital a few days before the 25th.  Home felt amazing after staying a month in a small hospital room.  The days following were rough, but everyday improved a little more.  It is hard to describe how tired and fatigued I got by just going up a flight of stairs.  I took it very easy and watched a lot of Christmas movies.

A few other things that I did to pass the time.

A puzzle was surprisingly relaxing

Brewed some beer

Bottled it up

And of course, started making bread again

Slowly Feeling Better

Now two weeks later, I am back to work and hitting the gym everyday again.  I am feeling good.

In a few weeks, I will get another scan to determine if there are still any signs of the disease in me.  Really hoping for some good news.

It will be a few months before my immune system is that of a normal person.  I also need to get all my immunizations again, since the stem cell transplant cleared them all out.

Breathing FIRE

On the financial front, 2017 was good year.

2017 Goals:

  • Savings rate of 60%
    • COMPLETE / CLOSE ENOUGH, our savings rate for 2017 was 59.92%
  • Increase dividend income by 2k from 2016
    • Passive dividend income averaged $1,100 per month
    • We have other passive income as well from a rental (not factored in here)
  • Re-balance investments
    • COMPLETE, adjusted automatic investments to fix slowly
  • Pay off first house
    • COMPLETE, Feb 2017
    • Paid off a 30yr mortgage in 7yrs

Planned 2017 expenses:

  • International move – Budgeted $2k
    • COMPLETE – July 2017, actual out of pocket cost $1,200
    • Employer paid most expenses
  • Purchase another house – Budgeted $650k (HCOL area)
    • COMPLETE – Aug 2017, 635k mortgage
  • Purchase new / used vehicle – Budgeted $18k
    • COMPLETE – Nov 2017, used car, $17.5k cash
    • When returning to the US, we needed a second vehicle. We had one vehicle in storage (employer expense).
  • Two vacations – Budgeted $3k each
    • Getting diagnosed with cancer put a wrench in our vacation plans.
    • My wife was able to travel to Hawaii, Vegas, and New York, $3.5k total travel costs.

Unplanned expenses:

  • Major bathroom leak
    • Required complete teardown to repair – $5k
  • Significant hail damage to roofing and siding
    • Insurance covered most cost – $40k
    • Out of pocket cost $1.5k

Breathing Life

Beyond our finances, we did so much this year.  Actually knocking off some pretty big things off our bucket lists.  Two bigs things were living overseas and crossing the Atlantic, the slow way.

Caerphilly Castle

Thatch roofs look like something out of a fairy tale

King Arthur

Durdle Door overlooking the English Channel

In the middle of the Atlantic

After eight days, we floated into the NYC skyline

Statue of Liberty welcoming us home

Military life involves moving often (this was our eighth move in 14 years).  Moving is always challenging, but you can make them fun and almost like vacations in themselves.

Wishing Everyone A Great 2018

Before jumping in and making goals for 2018, take time to reflect on the past.

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don’t know where you are, and if you don’t know where you are, then you don’t know where you’re going. And if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re probably going wrong.” – Terry Pratchett

Review your budget(s) and spending from the prior year(s).  Take a look how close you came to your forecasts.  It is a skill that improves over time, every year you will get better at tracking and understanding how much your life costs.  A critical component to developing passive income to cover your normal expenses.

To another year of learning, growing, exploring, and living.

Wishing you and your families a great 2018!


  1. My jaw is on the ground right now! You are clearly a fighter, I’m so happy to hear you’ve made it to the other side and are feeling better. Fingers crossed hard for good news for you. And wow, you blew those financial goals out of the water! Maybe retirement consulting can be your part time side gig? 🙂 Happy 2018 to you & yours, wishing you all the best this year!

  2. I’m so glad I just happened upon your blog. Wow! Wishing you a wonderful 2018 full of great news (especially health-wise) and I hope it’s especially prosperous too.

  3. Thank you for sharing your story!

    Also working at the Navy Yard at my previous employment, I appreciate the BLUF! I also commend you on moving forward after a difficult 2017. I can’t imagine the events you had to go through, but it sounds like you’re full steam ahead into 2018!

    I wish you all the success in the world in 2018!

  4. Hi MOF,
    Nice to hear of good progress, and keeping the attitude up. You are on your way to good things with the attention you pay to yourself and everything around you. As we all know, health is wealth, and with your god attitude, things can only get better.
    Best wishes!

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