How early retiree Steve Adcock lost $200k from his net worth
We caught up with Think Save Retire's founder, Steve Adcock, to check in on how he's been since leaving TSR!
Last year, I sold my baby. I built this blog from the ground up to track my progress toward financial independence and early retirement.
In 2016, I retired from full-time work and hit the road for a life of travel. Three years later, I let go of Think Save Retire to pursue other projects, and life has changed drastically in that time. Many have requested an update, and so here it is.
What’s been going on with me since I left Think Save Retire?
Steve’s 2020 update
Things have changed since I left TSR. Luckily, they have only gotten better - okay, maybe except for the Coronavirus update!
Coronavirus wiped $200,000 from our net worth
We knew it was coming, but we had no idea it would take the form of a biological airborne killer. Some call it a “market correction”. Others a recession. Whatever you call it, the subsequent market slide wiped out $200,000 from our net worth in a matter of a couple of weeks.
We sorta felt like, “Well, this might be the big one!” But, that never truly materialized.
While I never enjoy seeing our net worth tank, our 3-year emergency fund made enduring the mini market collapse easier. While many people consider three years of cash to be excessive, that money is our safety net for just these types of situations. We could have lived for three whole years in a down market without selling a single share of stock.
As a result, we felt no panic. No sense of demise.
I wasn’t worried. Even Courtney - the one who would most likely worry, didn’t.
We are in this for the long haul, and we signed up for these types of roller coaster rides being so heavily invested in index funds. It happens.
We did make some adjustments, though. We decided to live on about $35,000 this year. Our discretionary spending has been cut (less booze!) and we talk about each and every expense with a little more sensitivity now.
Living in an off-grid house (more on that below), we’re able to cut our expenses down at a moment’s notice without feeling a lot of pain. No utilities. Very low cost of living.
In the last couple of weeks, we’ve regained about 80% of what we lost. And, that’s the magic (and frustration!) of the market. These steep ups and downs happen.
The key is to keep a level head. Understand that your investments are designed for long-term growth rather than short term “quick wins”.
And, don’t make emotional decisions when things get bad. I cannot count the number of times someone advised me to sell everything and buy back in later.
I’m thoroughly grateful that we didn’t take that advice!
Our new desert oasis
The biggest change is where we live. Most followers of Think Save Retire know that my wife and I traveled full-time in an Airstream travel trailer for years after retiring in 2016.
We enjoyed the experience, but ultimately, I wanted a little more room to spread out. And a proper office that I didn’t have to share with the kitchen. And so, we did something we thought we’d never do again: we bought a home.
Not just a home, but a 100% off-grid house on seven acres out in the middle of the Arizona desert.
For the last 7 months, this off-grid house has been our home. The Airstream is parked in our graveled circle drive and we still plan to travel for a portion of the year once the coronavirus pandemic has passed.
My new office in the off-grid house is also my gym. My wife and I work out every day after a walk with our dogs, and some morning coffee and tea.
Here’s the skinny on our off-grid home:
- 3,700 watts of solar
- Four 48v lithium phosphate batteries
- 2,400-gallons of water storage
- Rainwater collection system
- Septic on-site
One of the nicest things about this house is the cost. We have no utility bills. We run entirely on the power that we generate on the property. Batteries provide power after dark. We collect our own rainwater and filter it several times before using it.
Our lives are now based on renewable resources, and it’s amazing.
If you want to see a little more of our house, along with the MarketWatch feature on our story and way of life, check it out.
I wrote an eBook
It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do, and this year, I made it so!
The eBook is called Big Money: A Professional’s Guide to Financial Freedom. In 50 pages, I distill down what most books take 200+ pages to explain, and I do it clearly and directly.
It’s a book about achieving financial independence using any salary by following basic principles of building wealth. I also threw in a few gems that you’d never hear outside of the book. If you have a job (or think that you might get one), you’ll benefit from reading this book.
And, the process of writing an eBook taught me several things:
- It’s not easy - distilling complex concepts into simple words is challenging
- Editing is endless - it seems like half of the entire process was endless editing
- I don’t want to be a “real” author - writing 200+ page books is definitely not for me
But, I enjoyed the process thoroughly. It’s an eBook that I’m proud of.
I am writing (a lot)
In all my free time, I’ve found that I thoroughly enjoy writing. Okay, I sort of already knew this, but I discovered that my love of writing has strengthened.
Other than my eBook, you’ll find my writing at major media outlets like MarketWatch and CNBC, and I also write for Ladders, a major nationwide career resource. Sometimes I get paid and sometimes I don’t. But, that’s the beauty of financial independence.
Money no longer truly matters.
Also, I’m building up my Twitter account to be an extension of my writing. I’m still very in-your-face. Sometimes a bit of a jackass. And other times, downright sensitive.
But, always sincere.
I also spoke!
I had the opportunity to speak at a couple of major events, including the RV Entrepreneur Summit, which is one of the largest gatherings of RV-based entrepreneurs in the country. We were the “boring” speech about the importance of saving for retirement rather than only focusing on the income part of the wealth-building equation.
I also presented at FI Chautauqua Ecuador in 2019, an event that was based in the Ecuadorian mountains. The trip was incredibly rewarding, and it coupled money talk with exploring the country and experiencing life for people in that region.
For the record, I had always been terrified of public speaking. But, these two experiences have taught me just how much I enjoy being on stage. Throughout Think Save Retire, I’ve written about the benefits of getting outside of your comfort zone, and it’s for this very reason.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you regret selling?
No. Though I miss having as large of an audience, I still feel like it was time to move on and try some other things - like writing the eBook, for example. I am thankful that I sold the blog to a company that has continued the tradition of quality, honest writing. That doesn’t always happen!
Will you start another blog?
I write at SteveAdcock.us and you can follow me there. I’ve adopted a much shorter, more journal-like writing style than the longer pieces I’m used to writing. I have found that I thoroughly enjoy writing that way.