About Harlan

Digital nomad living on the road and working toward financial independence.

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Freelance and $262K, progress after layoff and ruling – March 2023 Freedom update

March 2023 Freedom update

Life is completely different than it was even a few weeks ago. We got our ruling, finally, in our favor. We’ve been in and our of court for the last year, and now we can take some action and move on with our lives.

There will inevitably be appeals, but we’ve been assured they’ll either be thrown out or the higher court will uphold our ruling. It’ll be some more paperwork, but it’s a non-issue so I’m going to put it out of my mind and not even think about it. For the first time in a while, I’m dreaming about the future and what that could look like. Definitely a lot more travel once I get all the documents switched over. ✈️ Ya know, travel blog and all. 💁🏻‍♂️

march 2023 freedom update

How we feel about our court ruling

Money stuff has shifted, too. It’s been a lousy patch for the stock market, my home lost some of its appraisal value, and I’ve had to charge up my cards to get stuff paid.

That said, I’m thrilled because I’ve been picking up a few freelance projects that pay more than my previous income. I think I’ll come out ahead – it’ll just take a little bit for things to settle.

So let’s get into that.

March 2023 Freedom update

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Close to $300K, laid off, and this year’s goals – February 2023 Freedom update

I feel like my life is on hold. Like I’m on hold, but life just keeps on life-ing.

We’re days away from getting the judge’s ruling for a set of cases that have been going on for the past year, hopefully early next week. We think it’ll be in our favor, but until we get that document, we’re kind of just… on hold. Stuck. Like we can’t move forward.

February 2023 Freedom update


Oh, and I was laid off from my job this week, so go ahead and add that to the mix. I’m taking some time to regroup. I’m not worried about the future so much as I can’t even imagine the future right now.

With that, I’m making February 2023 the month of self-care and taking my insurance for all it’s worth before it expires in a few weeks. I’m:

  • Getting new glasses and contacts and a fresh eye exam
  • Having a tiny cavity filled next week
  • Seeing a doctor for an all-around checkup and allll the preventative care my insurance will allow
  • Getting a couple more chiropractic adjustments (Baby Beck is now over 15 pounds!)
  • Going to therapy every week this month

I also snagged an appointment for an in-demand dermatologist. Plus, I already have new insurance so I’m taking advantage of being double insured and criss-crossing town to keep myself healthy and active. I’m feeling good about everything.

With all that in mind, let’s talk about money.

February 2023 Freedom update

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New net worth high, new cash strategy, and investing my third $100K – December 2022 Freedom update

December 2022 Freedom

I didn’t post a November update last month. It was such a blur – complete with a week in court, then a nasty virus and holidays – that it sucked me under. I am just now emerging.

And wow, it’s great on the other side. I feel like the court stuff is getting behind us, though we must wait for a final ruling. Still, I think we’re going to win. And then we will be free to talk about everything we’ve been through the past year. It’s beyond ridiculous.

Omg look at this wiggly cutie 😻

I was thinking how my blog doesn’t resemble a travel blog any more. Though I am swimming in points and miles, and planning for a lot of future travel. Someone said, “Well, just write about that.” So I will.

Even as we wait for the legal crap to clear the pipes, it’s not like I stopped planning stuff. It’s hit me in the pocketbook and stifled my travel, but I’m still here and feel myself slowly coming back to life.

December 2022 Freedom update

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Progress in a bear market? Mixing it up as a strategy – October 2022 Freedom update

October 2022 Freedom update

So, September was the worst month for the U.S. stock market in over a decade. The month (and Q3) ended with losses for the S&P 500, Dow, and Nasdaq.

And because most of my net worth is in index funds, I lost out too – despite continuing to dump funds into various accounts.

Not that I’ve had time to notice. Having a toddler and a newborn in the same house is… tiring.

But if anything, it’s helping me stick to my investment plans?

I love being a dad

Really, I just kept everything trucking along, which I’m happy about because I do think this is an excellent time to buy in at lower valuations. In another 10 years, we’ll all be ecstatic about the buying opportunities right now. It’s hard to be excited when you’re in the midst of it.

I also paid down some of my 0% APR credit card debt and added more cash to my taxable brokerage and my son’s UTMA accounts. But mostly focusing on our newborn, who’s now three weeks old and already so vibrant.

October 2022 Freedom update

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Baby Beck is here! The bear market is the only negative thing this month – September 2022 Freedom update

September 2022 Freedom update

This month’s update is a little late – for the best reason possible.

On September 10, baby Beck was born early in the morning under the Full Harvest Moon. 🌕 So far, he’s already back at his full birth weight and has lost his umbilical plug. He’s a sweet, happy boy – already looking around with deep blue eyes and smiling as he stretches his fingers and toes. We are already completely in love with him.

September 2022 Freedom update

Welcome earthside, baby Beck

I can’t wait to set up an investment account and USAA membership for him. But for now, we’ve all been resting and adjusting to this sweet new energy.

It’s been hard to keep up with the outside world, but every time I check on the stock market, it seems the lows get lower.

I’m continuing with my investment plans, but my overall net worth is obviously down this month. More and more, it’s looking like this is going to be a lost year for the market – and for my progress.

All good though.

History tells us that incredible bull runs usually follow lows like this. And anyway, I have my hands full for a while with a newborn.

September 2022 Freedom update

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Up $18K again, money thoughts, and new baby incoming – August 2022 Freedom update

This upcoming month, we’ll be gearing up for the birth of our second son! Last month was all about the baby shower and getting the nursery together (as much as possible – lol oof). I’ve been meaning to get this update out for the past few days. 🥵

June was a hard month for the stock market where we saw the potential bottom mid-month. And then, the last two weeks of July brought a scorching hot bear market rally.

Because of the gyrations, I keep hovering around the ~$240K mark and am currently level set from where I was a couple of months ago.

August 2022 Freedom Update

Cheers to bear market rallies!

But it wasn’t without significant ups and downs, personal expenditures, and trying to keep up with all the transitions. I’m doing a lot of freelance work on the side to afford everything.

Next month, I’ll kick off four months of parental leave when the new baby is born. So for the next few weeks, we’re getting as prepared as possible.

I feel bad that I haven’t posted more travel-related content in so long. First there was Covid, now it’s nearly time for the new baby. It’ll be a while before I travel again, but I can’t wait to travel with our children. That’ll be a whole new adventure.

For now, I’m still working on financial goals that’ll allow that travel to happen down the road. After all, this journey is about having choices and freedom to do what I love most in this world: travel to new places.

August 2022 Freedom update

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Bear market, down $19K, plus a HUGE announcement! – July 2022 Freedom update

July 2022 Freedom update

What a month! The stock market had its worse first half since:

  • 1970 for the S&P 500
  • 1962 for the Dow
  • Ever for the Nasdaq

It’s still firmly in bear market territory – and I believe it has farther to fall. There are real-world issues that need solving that no amount of interest rate hikes from the Fed can touch. Namely supply chain backups, geopolitical tension from the Russia-Ukraine invasion, and lower company earnings and forecasts from too many of the wrong products and a tight labor market.

Interest rate increases are affecting home sales, and certain sectors are seeing hiring slowdowns (particularly tech). So how’s it affect me, the average investor?

It me: “average investor”

Well, I contributed $2,000 to my 401k last month, but my overall 401k balance is only up $146. That means my money is losing value in real-time. It also means I’m getting more stocks at a lower cost basis. Instead of lowering my contributions during this volatility, I opted to increase them.

And the accounts I don’t touch (my Roth IRA that’s maxed for the year and my traditional IRA) are negative since last month.

The average bear market lasts for under a year, but the average bull market lasts nearly three years and has much higher highs than the bear market’s lowest lows, percentage-wise.

So I’m staying the course, sticking to my plan – and I have huge news I’m finally ready to share! Ahhhhh!!!!

July 2022 Freedom update

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Crypto crash, a new UTMA account, and timid stock market – June 2022 Freedom update

June 2022 Freedom update

It’s been a scorching month. 🔥 I lost money to crypto, started an UTMA account for my son, and pulled the trigger on a brand new HVAC system – to the tune of $20K+.

Throw in some court appearances 😒 and continuing to get the house together, and it was more than enough to make the month fly by.

June 2022 Freedom update

In Knoxville for a work trip

And then the travel! I drove to Dallas and flew to Austin for Tori Amos concerts, and flew to Knoxville for work. It was SO good to be on planes!

I was going to visit family in Memphis for a weekend, but that trip never happened. And I won’t be making any other trips for a while. I’ll share more about this in a few weeks. Between life and the pandemic, it seems I’m destined to be a travel blogger who doesn’t blog for a little while yet. I’ve got my points poised for several big trips and continue to accrue them.

To the update!

June 2022 Freedom update

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Back down $15K, staying the course, and getting into DeFi – May 2022 Freedom update

May 2022 Freedom update

Last month was absolute murder for the stock market. Earnings season revealed, if anything, that we’re still dealing with fallout from Covid and navigating headwinds from:

  • The war in Ukraine
  • Interest rate hikes (with another one being announced tomorrow)
  • Runaway inflation
  • A “post”-Covid market that no longer cares about Netflix, online shopping, and delivery services – or can’t afford to

I made it back to Dallas last month!

It was the worst start to a market year since 1939, the worst year for Nasdaq stocks since 2008, and the worst month overall since March 2020. So course my portfolio is down.

Mentally, I see this as an opportunity to buy more stocks at a lower cost basis. But seeing the drops in real-time is hard, especially with murmurs of “recession” and “bull market” everywhere you look.

This month, I also got interested in a new DeFi app with 15% APY that pays daily interest. More on that and the rest of my updates below!

May 2022 Freedom update

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Officially to $254K net worth, over halfway to my $500K goal! – April 2022 Freedom update

🥳! It finally happened! With 876 days left to reach my $500,000 net worth goal, I’m officially at the halfway mark.

Currently at $254,041 with ~$212,000 of that invested in low-cost index funds (mostly FSKAX and VTI). The market’s been hemming and hawing, but it seems like things are on an upswing.

As of this week, it’s on to the second half of my journey!

Historically, April is a good month for earnings. The last 15 out of 16 Aprils have had gains. And I have a feeling that Q1 earnings will reveal the positive effects of inflation.

It’s been a rough quarter, so I’m glad things are finally starting to shift. That losing streak was tough to get through, but I stuck to my plan: regular investing in index funds, automated every two weeks. I’m always amazed at how simple it is and how it just works. It hasn’t failed me yet.

April 2022 Freedom update

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New coin deal for ~$5,300 in spending and $162 in profit – tomorrow, 3/17 @ 12pm ET!

Just a heads up for a new PFS Buyers Club coin deal in case you want to get in on over $5,000 in spending. Tomorrow, March 17, the US Mint is releasing a new set of coins at exactly 12pm ET. The coins will cost ~$5,337 and all cards except US Bank/Elan (Fidelity) cards should work to earn miles, points, or cashback.

There’s some speculation that Amex cards *might* charge a cash advance fee. Incidentally, I just got the Amex Gold card in the mail yesterday and need to meet the minimum spending requirement. But I think I’ll use my BofA Premium Rewards card for 2.62% cashback (~$140) instead.

Here are the coins that go on sale tomorrow

Aside from minimum spending, you could also gain traction toward spend bonuses like free hotel nights (Hyatt, Hilton), elite status (AA cards), or any other promotions you’ve signed up for.

PFS Buyers Club coin deal

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Last call for the Capital One Venture X 100K + $200 welcome offer – the BEST premium card!

Update: This offer is no longer available. Check here for the best current credit card offers! 

Today is the last day to get the newly-launched Capital One Venture X card’s incredible early spend bonus! After many rejections from Capital One, I finally got approved for this one – here’s my tip on how to check your approval odds.

For most people wanting a premium travel rewards card, it doesn’t get much better than this one.

The welcome offer is incredibly strong, the rewards earning rates are excellent, and the card’s ongoing benefits justify the $395 annual fee year after year.

Capital One is building their own network of airport lounges and doing great things with their transfer partners. And their version of the Priority Pass includes restaurants in airports (something the Amex version of Priority Pass does NOT).

The Capital One Venture X 100K offer is one of the best in recent memory

I love earning a flat 2x miles on all purchases without having to think about category bonuses. But the Capital One Venture X does earn 10x miles on hotels and rental cars and 5x miles on flights booked through Capital One.

If you’ve had your eye on this one, this is the last call. We don’t know what the new offer will be, but it’ll likely be inferior.

Capital One Venture X 100K details

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