Category Archives: Blog Updates

Looking in the Rearview Mirror

relaxing-by-the-lake

Here we are at the tail end of 2015.  I wanted to pause and reflect on where we are today and what we’ve been up to during the year.

I started out 2015 with a post asking Should We Conceal Our Wealth?  This post got a lot of social media shares because it addresses a concern that faces those who are accumulating wealth while trying to fly under the radar undetected.

Then I explained Why We Chose The Worst School In The District.  At the time our oldest kid started kindergarten, it was the worst school out of over 100 elementary schools in our school district.  If you know me, you know I’m all about taking calculated risks.  Fast forward almost six years and it turns out our gamble paid off because the school made a 180 degree turn and is actually a very good school that has been recognized nationally.  And it’s a leisurely ten minute walk from our front door.

I took a look at our Ten Largest Purchases of 2014 because you know how I love putting our spending under the microscope.  Not surprisingly, the largest five expenses for the year were housing and travel related which closely matches our largest budget categories.  The top expense was an $8,700 major home renovation that included new exterior siding, new windows, and a major roof repair.  Fortunately we budget for those long term major house projects so it wasn’t a shock to the budget at all and we finished 2014 just slightly above our budget for the year.

My first paycheck. $29.62 for a month of delivering the weekly newspaper when I was 13.

In the article From Paper Boy to Engineering Manager to Early Retiree I shared every single job I’ve had and how much I made since receiving my first paycheck for $29.62 delivering newspapers when I was 13.

In Cost Effective Investing With Motif I explored the Motif investment service that lets you pick a pre-mixed basket of up to 30 stocks based on a particular theme (a “motif”) for a single brokerage fee under $10.  They even offer $0 commissions on some baskets of low cost index fund ETFs which is why I find Motif’s service offerings particularly compelling for the style of investing that I prefer.

In My Version Of Financial Independence As A 17 Year Old I thought I had life figured out at age 17.  Here’s how I was planning to reach financial independence before I really knew anything about reaching financial independence:

  • Save up $120,000 by working extra shifts at a minimum wage job (you get paid time and a half for overtime!)
  • Invest the $120,000 at my credit union in a CD earning 6% interest
  • Earn $600 per month ($7,200 per year) from that CD
  • Live on $600 per month forever

Glad I didn’t stick with that plan.

In A Day Of Early Retirement – Going on a Walkabout I showed how a mundane day of “doing nothing” can be incredibly awesome if you let it.

Then came Summer In Mexico: The Next Big Adventure.  We spent seven weeks in Mexico traveling with three kids.  And everyone lived to talk about it.  I shared our $7,668 trip budget and cost saving tips in The Cost of Seven Weeks in Mexico (And How to Minimize it).  We ended up spending only $4,450 of the budgeted amount as it turns out (but still had a lot of fun).  We saved a ton by using airline miles and hotel points from credit card sign up bonus offers.

All other posts on our Mexico trip:

As we walked out our front door and down the sidewalk to start our seven week adventure in Mexico, I reflected on What Will We Miss About Home While On The Road.

pyramid-of-teotihuacan

Totally climbable. Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan, Mexico.  Those little black dots at the top are people.

To get back to serious early retirement finance topics, I revealed exactly how we’ll spend our 401k and IRA funds decades before turning 59.5 without ever paying a penalty in Climbing The Roth IRA Conversion Ladder To Fund Early Retirement.  This is another very popular post at Root of Good.

Next up was another hard hitter where I showed the optimal income levels to maximize health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act with caveats about making just a little bit too much.  Don’t Fall Off The Affordable Care Act Subsidy Cliffs.

Those new to the blog might not realize that Mrs. Root of Good is still working.  She took a paid three month break this summer as I discussed in The Sabbatical – A Mini-Retirement.  That’s how we were able to take off for seven weeks to bum around Mexico.  She also spent the month of May at home chilling with us.

Mrs. RoG enjoying her first day of sabbatical.

Mrs. RoG enjoying her first day of sabbatical.

In The Early Retiree’s Weekly Schedule I broke down how I spend my time during a typical week.  Some folks aiming for early or traditional retirement are really scared of getting bored when they ditch the job that sucks up 40 to 70 hours of their time each week.  Here’s how I spend my time to stave off boredom:

  • Work – 13 hours
  • Physical Activity – 18 hours
  • Fun – 35.5 hours
  • Social – 7.5 hours

 

early-retirement-daily-schedule

Next up was a guest post from John C who blogs at Action Economics. John told us about his Semi-Retired Summer.  He works mainly during the fall and spring in seasonal nuclear power plant maintenance, and enjoys mostly work free summers and winters.  He also has more kids than I do, and a lot of his summer was kid-related.

I shared Why Dropping Out Of School Was A Great Choice For Me.  After finishing law school, deciding not to practice law, and then working in engineering for a couple years, my employer asked me to go back to school to earn a master’s degree.  That was a poor choice in hindsight, and I wisely dropped out of the master’s program before spending any more time pursuing a degree that wouldn’t have helped me very much.

In Should Our Family Drop From Two Cars To One? I questioned our continued need for two cars since I’m not working and Mrs. Root of Good is slowly leaving the workforce.  We still haven’t made any moves to drop to one car but I’ve been thinking more about it lately.

In Celebrating Two Years of Early Retirement, I look back at my first two years of early retired life and finances.  In addition to the big Mexico trip mentioned earlier, we also took a major road trip up the east coast of the USA and into Canada during the summer of 2014 to take advantage of Mrs. RoG’s paid five week mini-sabbatical.

I don’t talk about investing a lot here at Root of Good simply because I don’t spend much time in my own life managing my investments.  Passive index funds just don’t require a lot of daily oversight.  But I did happen to log on to the computer right as the market opened on August 24, 2015 and took advantage of The Mini Flash Crash of 2015, or, How I Made $5,000 in 30 Minutes.  Dozens of exchange traded funds were trading 25-40% off of fair market value so I bought everything I could with my cash on hand before the deals vaporized not long after market open.

I show how we save hundreds of dollars by completing DIY projects ourselves instead of hiring them out in How To Save $375 On Air Conditioner Repair in Two Hours.  Pretty simple stuff to check if your AC stops working.

In Mrs. RoG’s First Attempt at Early Retirement you find out about the fantastic deal Mrs. RoG worked out to keep her full time pay while working four days per week from home.  She actually submitted her resignation in September 2015 but the employer’s counter offer was good enough to retain her (for a while).

In addition to self-paced slow travel trips to places like Mexico and Canada, we also enjoy cruises.  A lot.  And we always get ridiculously good deals on cruises.  In this four part series I reveal all I know about cruises and getting the best deals.  And there’s a gratuitous food post for those that enjoy eating.

View from our cabin's balcony

View from our cabin’s balcony.  Costa Atlantica.

With Zero To Millionaire in Ten Years I almost broke the internet.  That post went viral, received around 500 social media shares, and got picked up by Business Insider where it’s been viewed almost a million times.  To me it’s nothing particularly noteworthy – just the story of us saving half or more of our fairly ordinary (for college graduates) salaries for ten years which brought us to millionaire status and Financial Independence.

To answer some questions and clarify some points raised in that article, I followed it up with How We Reached Financial Independence In Our 30’s.  I showed in more detail exactly how we’re able to save half or more of our incomes (hint: low expenses on housing and cars plus low taxes).  And I addressed the question of whether our lifestyle sucks.  You’ll have to read the full article to find out what I think.

In order to answer another common complaint about early retirement, I pulled together How Early Retirement Affects Social Security to examine the specific impact of retiring after just a decade or two of full time work.  If you don’t really understand how the Social Security benefits formula works, then it might be a surprise to find out that retiring early doesn’t reduce your benefit nearly as much as you would think.  I’ll be receiving a little over $1,000 per month from SS.  If I worked an extra 30 years I could double my monthly benefit.  No thanks!

For Thanksgiving, I celebrated with Tis the Season of Thankfulness.  I’m thankful for all the ordinary things everyone else is also thankful for: health, family, and friends.  I also call out all the incredible technological advances we enjoy today that we didn’t have not too long ago.  I’m also thankful for political stability here in the US (and most of the rest of the developed world).  It’s a lot easier to plan for the long term when you don’t have to worry about imminent threats of civil unrest and violence, a fact we take for granted.

If you get bored or inquisitive and have some free time head over to the Root of Good Archives where you can find all of my posts since I started this blog in September of 2013.

 

Update on our 2015 Financials

We enjoyed an $88,000 increase in net worth for the year through November 30, 2015 ($1.437 million at the end of December 2014 versus $1.525 million in November 2015).  A rough start in December has lowered our net worth, so there’s a chance we’ll end the year close to where we started the year.

Our expenses have been very moderate, with spending of only $21,436 through November 2015 compared to our $33,400 annual budget.  I publish a detailed accounting of every expense we incur, and you can see all of those financial updates here:

We use Personal Capital to track all of our expenses and income (review here), and it does a great job with very little input from me.  For free.  You can say I like it a lot.  And it’s pretty.  Personal Capital also does a great job tracking and integrating all of my investments at multiple brokerage firms.

Crushing it with another ~$1,000 expense month.

Crushing it with another ~$1,000 expense month.

 

Where are we headed?

In 2016, I expect Mrs. Root of Good to finally cut ties with her employer and join me in early retirement.  The exact timing isn’t set yet, but you’ll know when something awesome happens.  Maybe they will double her pay and cut her to two days per week and she’ll work another year (I hope she didn’t read this far down the article).

We don’t have any big plans for the summer of 2016 yet, and it might be one where we mostly stay at home other than a few small road trips.  Or we might hop on a jet to a different country on the other side of the world.

2016 will be an exciting year here on the blog.  I’m planning to have posts on:

  • different choices for withdrawal rates
  • our updated and expanded budget
  • a series on retirement calculators
  • how to optimize college savings and approach student loans

If you want to see anything else on Root of Good, let me know in the comments!

christmas-2015

Yeah, Mrs. RoG is an overachiever and has all the gifts already wrapped and placed under the tree.

With that, I’ll close this article by wishing everyone a Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Festivus and/or a Happy whatever other holiday(s) you celebrate.  Root of Good is taking a couple weeks off to tirelessly pursue the goal of doing a whole lot of nothing.  See you in January 2016!

 

 

How is 2015 treating you?  Did you have any turning points in your life this year? 

 

 

February 2014 Blog Update

Risk black and white

Root of Good February 2014 Blog Update

February marked another great month at Root of Good.  Traffic was down compared to January but still higher than December 2013.  I was expecting a 10% decrease in traffic versus January because February has 10% fewer days than January (I’m a math expert).  The traffic numbers were slightly worse than expected, with 15% fewer visitors in February than January.  Seasonal variations?  Bad winter storms on the east coast?  Who knows, right?

The solid trend for social media subscribers continued in February.  Last month I noticed that across all social media channels I tend to get about 100 new subscribers each month.  February was eerily consistent, with 103 new subscribers, bringing the total social media subscribers to 564.  If you haven’t subscribed yet and want to ensure you don’t miss any Root of Goodness, make sure to subscribe on Facebook, Twitter, or by email or RSS reader (in the column to the right).

 

Stats for February 2014:

 Dec-2013Jan-2014Feb-2014Change (Feb vs. Jan)
TRAFFIC
Visitors120281512012769-2351
Unique Visitors757289287016-1912
Pageviews230782850724656-3851
Alexa Rank (lower = better)676866018956638-3551
SOCIAL MEDIA
Facebook61718716
Blog email list50677912
Twitter14517621640
Feedly10714718235
TOTAL SOCIAL MEDIA363461564103
REVENUE$1,508$826$1,071$246

Most popular pages:

$150,000 Income, $150 Income Tax

Early Retirement at 33: An Overview

Reaching the Summit of Financial Independence

 

Revenue: $1,071.  Another great month.  This includes $250 from January that didn’t update until late February.  I also have some unreported February revenue due to switching around some advertising (I’ll put that revenue in the March update).

I am anticipating some revenue from freelance writing for the Daily Capital blog, but for now I’m leaving it out of the Root of Good revenue summary.  You can check out the awesome post at Daily Capital that shows three households that make decent salaries yet pay zero tax here.

To put Root of Good’s earnings in perspective, $1,071 in monthly revenue represents 40% of our budgeted retirement spending.  At this rate, we won’t have to dip into our investment portfolio nearly as much as anticipated.  This income was completely unexpected when I decided I was retired six months ago.  So far, this means our cash balances keep growing.  Hopefully we can blow some of this money on a nice long summer vacation, and I might look into a solo 401k to hide part of all of the income from the tax man.

Even though Root of Good is still a hobby, I’m definitely loving the supplemental income that comes from monetizing the content.  I know the real value to readers comes from figuring out how to make their own finances more efficient, and I hope the advertising here isn’t overly intrusive.

 

Looking Ahead

I published six posts in February, which is within my “one to two posts per week” goal.  However, the last half of February was mostly devoid of any new content.  Hey, I’m early retired!  I’m not supposed to work too hard, right?

I’m working on a couple of lengthy posts on early retirement with kids.  Those posts plus my usual monthly post on “what I’m up to in early retirement” and my February household financial update will kick off March with a bang (in case you have been eagerly awaiting new posts from Root of Good!).

In March, I’m doing a Google Hangouts interview/podcast with a group of people from the Mr. Money Mustache Google Plus group.  I’ll be the first guest on their new show.  First guest or guinea pig – you decide.

 

January 2014 Blog Update

Backyard lake in snow

Root of Good January 2014 Blog Update

January was a sweet month for Root of Good.  Overall traffic increased by about 20-25% compared to December.  The search traffic has really increased in the last month.

I’m starting to notice a trend for social media subscribers.  Across all social media channels I tend to get about 100 new subscribers each month.  It’s been pretty steady month to month.  Now that I’m including Feedly subscribers in my social media count, I’m just short of 500 social media subscribers.  I’m feeling good about those numbers since Root of Good isn’t quite five months old yet.  What is even more amazing is thinking about where Root of Good might be as 2015 rolls in.  Maybe 1,600 subscribers?  So “hi” to all who are currently subscribed, and thanks for following.  To the rest, make sure to subscribe on Facebook, Twitter, or by email or RSS reader (in the column to the right).

And don’t forget to share!  If you see something awesome here, please harass your closest friends on facebook, twitter, or email and share the RootofGoodness with them!  Unless you don’t want to let them have a better life and grow wealthier like you.

 

Stats for January 2014:

Visitors: 15,120 (+3,092 vs previous month)

Unique Visitors: 8,928 (+1,356)

Pageviews: 28,507 (+5,429)

Alexa Rank: 60,189 (-7,497 and lower is better!)

Most popular pages:

Dividend Investing

$150,000 Income, $150 Income Tax

Running Out Of Money In Early Retirement

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook subscribers: 71 (+10 versus December 2013)

Blog email subscribers/followers: 67 (+17)

Twitter followers: 176 (+31)

Feedly readers: 147 (+40)

 

Revenue: $826.  Blog earnings are down by almost half compared to last month.  There have been a few issues with advertisers being slow in updating their reporting, so I anticipate the revenue figure to be higher in February to reflect earnings that actually occurred in January.

To put Root of Good’s earnings in perspective, $826 in monthly revenue represents 31% of our budgeted retirement spending!  That’s almost a third of our retirement budget funded by what’s basically a hobby (that happens to be monetizable).  Many days I don’t really do anything related to Root of Good other than approve a few comments and post a few comments in response.

It still boggles my mind that I can generate revenue from writing about the things that cross my mind and then publishing these thoughts on the web.  The extra revenue is also another layer of security in our early retirement financial plan.  Here’s what I said in my December 2013 blog update:

If I can continue funding half of our budgeted retirement spending from Root of Good revenue, it means I won’t have to withdraw much from our investment portfolio.  The portfolio will continue to grow even more, thereby providing an additional margin of safety for our early retirement.  As I outlined in my recent article on running out of money in early retirement, getting a little side income flowing is awesome for two reasons.  Side income helps avoid the psychological stress of watching investment values decline and it reduces the financial stress of pulling money out of investments when they are down in value.  Throughout 2013, investments have done nothing but go up and up.  That’s not usually the case, and eventually I’ll be watching our portfolio go down, down, down.  Having a little cash flow coming in won’t make pulling small amounts out of the portfolio as painful.

I never got around to writing the prescient blog post about “the stock market is really fun when it goes up forever, but less fun when it takes a dive”.  I’m not sure if January’s minor correction constitutes a dive, but it certainly was a wake up call that what goes up can go down.  We lost about a year’s worth of expenses due to this minor correction, but we aren’t really worried about it, especially since I’m able to generate revenue from Root of Good.  Hopefully the money keeps flowing throughout 2014.

Looking Ahead

In February, Root of Good will have at least one guest post that I’m excited to share.  More details coming soon.

In the mean time, I hope to keep publishing a post or two each week.  That seems to be a good pace to adequately share what’s on my mind without preventing me from my other idle endeavors.

 

December 2013 Blog Update

Backyard lake in snow

Root of Good December 2013 Blog Update

December was a good month for Root of Good.  I have been told that Decembers are usually slow in the blogging world.  People are busy celebrating and recreating with friends and family and not surfing on the internet.  Hey, no problem, see you in January!

Not too surprisingly, Root of Good experienced a slight dip in traffic this December.  The days around Christmas were particularly slow.  I also didn’t have any big mentions in the media like my AOL Daily Finance interview in November.  The “background” traffic seems to be as high as ever, which bodes well for January.

Root of Good was feeling the love in December as social media subscribers increased at a rate slightly faster than in November.  I added 64 new followers, likers, or subscribers in December.  I’m not sure how to track RSS subscribers but I figure there might be 150-200 subscribers based on visitor statistics.  I just visited Feedly for the first time and it indicates “107 readers” so I’ll add Feedly to my social media stats going forward.

 

Stats for December 2013:

Visitors: 12,028 (-1,614)

Unique Visitors: 7,572 (-1,882)

Pageviews: 23,078 (-3,300)

Alexa Rank: 67,686 (-34,314 and lower is better!)

Most popular pages:

$150,000 Income, $150 Income Tax

Running Out Of Money In Early Retirement

Early Retirement at 33: An Overview

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook subscribers: 61 (+12 versus November 2013)

Blog email subscribers/followers: 50 (+17)

Twitter followers: 145 (+35)

Feedly readers: 107 (+??)

 

Revenue: $1,508.  As I am learning, blogging revenue has the same issues as regular business income.  It takes a long time to actually get the money after it is earned.  I’m in no hurry, but I always figured, “hey, it’s the internet and everything happens instantly”.  In reality, there’s a period of one to two months from revenue creation to receiving payment.  I work for free and I don’t have any employees to pay, so cash flow isn’t an issue.  I’ll hold off on hiring a part time CFO for now.

I’m still surprised that it’s possible to make money blogging.  Sam the Financial Samurai used my relative success as a case study in an article on “how to monetize your blog” at Yakezie.com.  Thanks, Sam!  After that article went live at Yakezie, I have received a lot of inquiries asking for suggestions on the art of blogging and monetization.  I have responded to a few requests and have a blog post on the subject in draft form. 

To put Root of Good’s earnings in perspective, $1,508 in monthly revenue represents 56% of our budgeted retirement spending!  The December revenue is down slightly from November along with overall traffic.  But the December revenue figure is still awesome in absolute terms.  I initially started Root of Good as a hobby, but now I’m starting to see the potential to generate a decent side income doing something I enjoy.

If I can continue funding half of our budgeted retirement spending from Root of Good revenue, it means I won’t have to withdraw much from our investment portfolio.  The portfolio will continue to grow even more, thereby providing an additional margin of safety for our early retirement.  As I outlined in my recent article on running out of money in early retirement, getting a little side income flowing is awesome for two reasons.  Side income helps avoid the psychological stress of watching investment values decline and it reduces the financial stress of pulling money out of investments when they are down in value.  Throughout 2013, investments have done nothing but go up and up.  That’s not usually the case, and eventually I’ll be watching our portfolio go down, down, down.  Having a little cash flow coming in won’t make pulling small amounts out of the portfolio as painful.

 

Closing out 2013

Root of Good had a great 2013 even though it’s not quite four months old.  I’ve met a number of fellow bloggers along the way.  There are too many to mention individually here, but check out my blog recommendations for some of my favorites.

One blog in particular that I really enjoy is Go Curry Cracker.  Jeremy is a fellow early retiree who recently left the working world while still in his 30’s (like me!).  One of his posts motivated me to write about my Luck Making Machine.

Welcoming 2014

I don’t have any specific targets for traffic growth or revenue for 2014.  I’m still approaching Root of Good as a hobby, and enjoying any revenue it happens to generate.  A website overhaul may be in the works during 2014 to spruce up the appearance a bit, but there are no plans to do so any time soon.

I still have dozens and dozens of topics I want to explore with my readers here on Root of Good, and I hope to continue posting once or twice per week on average.

Thank you to everyone who reads Root of Good.  There are around 500 subscribers through one of the social media channels and Root of Good has many thousands of visitors each month.  Thanks for sharing 2013 with me, and I look forward to seeing all of you throughout 2014.  I wish you all the best in 2014!

If you want to keep in touch with Root of Good and receive notifications whenever a new article is published, make sure to subscribe on Facebook, Twitter, or by email or RSS reader (in the column to the right).

 

November 2013 Blog Update

red plant

Root of Good Blog Update

I posted less in November than in previous months, but site traffic has continued to grow at a moderate pace.  I have received a lot of positive comments and feedback from visitors to Root of Good, so keep it up!

 

Stats for November 2013:

Visitors: 13,642 (+4,175)

Unique Visitors: 9,454 (+2,916)

Pageviews: 26,378 (+7,009)

Alexa Rank: 102,000

Most popular pages:

Developing a Retirement Budget

$150,000 Income, $150 Income Tax

Early Retirement at 33: An Overview

 

SOCIAL MEDIA

Facebook subscribers: 49 (+10)

Blog subscribers/followers: 33 (+12)

Twitter followers: 110 (+36)

 

Revenue: $1,631 (still haven’t received a penny yet!).  Honestly, I’m shocked that it is possible to start a blog and within three months make what is approaching serious money.  $1,631 per month income represents 61% of our budgeted retirement spending!  I’m not very confident I will see this level of revenue on a routine monthly basis, but some quick cash isn’t bad.  Last month I mentioned earning a little beer money ($358 to be exact).  $1,600 is quite a bit more than beer money!  If I had worked full time, it would equate to $10 per hour.  Generating new content for Root of Good remains interesting.

Exciting Blog News: Doug Nordman guest posted here earlier in November.  Doug is the founder of The Military Guide blog and author of “The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement”.  Doug wrote Join the Military to Retire Early?  Thanks again to Doug.

AOL Daily Finance interviewed me and sent more than a few visitors this way (thanks Erin!).  Here’s the text of my full interview with AOL Daily Finance.  Here’s the article at AOL Daily Finance featuring my early retirement story.

 

Blog Carnivals Featuring Root of Good

Week Ending Monday November 11, 2013

Festival of Frugality hosted by Save and Conquer
Carnival of Money Pros hosted by Dumb Passive Income
Lifestyle Carnival hosted by Drop the Cookies!
Carnival of Financial Planning hosted by Planting Our Pennies
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash
Carnival of Money hosted by House with the View
Financial Carnival for Young Adults hosted by Financial Nerd

Week Ending Monday November 18, 2013
Festival of Frugality hosted by Financial Nerd
Carnival of Retirement hosted by This That and The MBA
Carnival of Financial Planning hosted by Tie The Money Knot
Weekly Roundup hosted by The Frugal Farmer
Carnival of Financial Independence hosted by Your PF Pro
Financial Freedom Pages hosted by Dreams Cash True
Personal Finance Carnival hosted by Aspiring Blogger
Lifestyle Carnival hosted by The Skilled Investor
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash

Week Ending Monday November 25, 2013
Carnival of Money hosted by Evolving Personal Finance
Carnival of Financial Planning hosted by Financial Nerd
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash
Carnival of Retirement hosted by The Skilled Investor

Week Ending Monday December 2, 2013
Carnival of Money hosted by Carnival of Money
Lifestyle Carnival hosted by Hurricanes, Panties, and Dollars
Personal Finance Carnival hosted by Aspiring Blogger
Carnival of Passive Investing hosted by Wealth Informatics
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash

October 2013 Update

Falling into Retirement

Halloween is over (booo!) and Thanksgiving is around the corner.  Looks like we will be hosting a big Thanksgiving dinner for Mrs. RootofGood’s side of the family again this year.

 

fall harvest

RootofGood Jr. fully embracing his Appalachian hill people roots. Banjos were quietly twanging just off camera.

Right now, I’m preemptively giving thanks that last year I did a post mortem of Thanksgiving 2012 and prepared a spreadsheet of what we served including quantities and notes on how much was eaten.  It will make preparing and cooking this year’s meal for 25-30 people in our small kitchen a lot easier.  The quick and dirty: make more green beans and green bean casserole and don’t make chili (no love for creativity at Thanksgiving??).

But that is this month.  Let’s reflect back on the month that has just passed – October 2013.

First off, this is an awesome time of year in North Carolina.  The temperature tends to hover around the 60’s and 70’s, with chilly nights.  The leaves start to turn golden yellow or bright red and orange during the month.  It’s a perfect time of year to spend time outside or keep cozy inside if it’s chilly.  And a perfect time to harvest the last fruits and vegetables from your garden.

 

Income and Expenses

Let’s look at the Root of Good household’s financial activity in October.

Overall it was a great month.  Personal Capital made it really easy to take a quick look at my income and expenses, and then drill down to areas of spending that were unusually high.  Keeping track of our investment portfolio takes two clicks and is incredibly easy with Personal Capital.  If you haven’t signed up for the free Personal Capital service, check it out today.

Here’s a look at our Personal Capital displays for the month:

Income

 

Our income was solid in October.  Mrs. RootofGood’s take home pay accounts for about half the monthly income, with another big chunk coming from some final payouts from my old job.  We also received $263 in dividends and interest income in our taxable accounts.  We won’t see much investment income in November.  December will be a huge investment income month since most of my funds and ETFs pay quarter end or year end dividends in December.

 

Now let’s look at expenses:

Expenses

 Woah!  No way we spent over $9,000 in one month!  Digging in a little more shows that we spent most of that ($6,957) on “business misc.” expenses.  We paid for a new (used) work van for my wife’s father with the agreement that we would be paid back over the next couple years (with a reasonable family interest rate).  In general it’s a bad idea to lend money to family or friends, but this was a reasonable situation (lending money on an income producing tool).

After pulling out the expenses for what is really an investment in a loan note, we only spent $2,100 in October including our $1,245 mortgage.  Not a bad month at all.

The only category of spending that jumped out at me as being abnormally high was “Restaurants” at $126.  This isn’t exactly a budget buster, but it is higher than the $80 per month I budgeted for in our Retirement Budget.  Enter Personal Capital.  One click and it tells me exactly where we went to eat and how much we spent at each restaurant.  Personal Capital and my waistband say “Time to lay off the China Buffet” (but the sushi is so good!).

Restaurants

 

I’m not worried about going $46 over our budgeted amount this one month, but it is something to keep an eye on if it recurs on a regular basis.  If so, we’ll have to intentionally adjust the budget upwards to address our higher spending on dining out, or cut spending elsewhere.

To recap, spending in October looks pretty good with no real areas of concern.  Recurring income was awesome and more than covered our recurring expenses.

 

Investments

October was more than kind to our investment portfolio.  We ended the month about 3% higher than where we started.  This doesn’t seem like a big change, but it is enough to cover one full year of our retirement expenses.

Portfolio Performance

 

Very positive months like October 2013 makes you forget that bad months can easily be right around the corner.  Getting used to making or losing 5-10% in a month is part of living off your investments.  I’ve mostly lost interest in looking at the investment portfolio daily because a five figure swing up or down is often temporary.  I’m not planning on selling huge chunks of my portfolio, so daily changes don’t really mean a whole lot (other than ulcers if you worry too much about it).

It’s easy to forget that investing this October was supposed to be scary for reasons other than little kids dressed as adorable (but oh so spooky!) zombies, vampires, and witches.  Anyone remember that Government Shutdown thing?  Well, apparently it happened in October but I still earned a 3% return.  Check out that article I just linked if you want to learn how to turn the television off and make more money in your investment portfolio by doing nothing.

 

What have I been up to in month #2 of retirement?

I provided an update at one month into my early retirement adventure.  Here’s the two month update:

  • I’m still working on the French language at duolingo.com.  Making progress slowly.
  • Blogging has been going great (full update below) and I have successfully reduced my time expenditures on the blog so I can pursue other interests.  The downside is less frequent articles, but the upside is I won’t get burnt out on blogging by proceeding at a leisurely writing pace.  Quality, not quantity, right?
  • Exercising and cooking are going well.  The weather has been great for walking 2-5 miles per day, although the mornings are starting to get chilly.  I learned a couple new recipes, including naan.
  • October was an intensely busy month socially.  Playdates for the kids and adults, lunch and dinner parties, halloween parties, birthday parties, sleepovers. Hosting a Mr. Money Mustache Triangle Area meet up.  It has been so busy that Mrs. RootofGood declared this past weekend a “stay at home and don’t do anything” weekend.  Little did she know that staying at home and doing nothing is still technically doing something.
  • I had to make it a point to read more books and play more games.  In retirement, it’s easy to while away the time surfing on the internet, but that’s often a waste of time (though occasionally an interesting waste of time!).  I finished up a couple of books and jumped into a few new ones.  There’s been some minor online strategy war games going on lately, but nothing too time consuming.
  • I’m sad to report my ebaying and craigslisting has fallen to the wayside (and the junk is still in my house).  I’ll get this done in November (I promise).  No excuses.
  • I dabbled with some WordPress and PHP programming on this blog.
  • Taking care of Mr. RootofGood Jr. consumes time like the Sahara consumes most of North Africa.  Fortunately my time spent with the little guy is way more enjoyable than the dessication and desertification of half a continent.  He has a busy social calendar and keeps me on the move.

 

Root of Good Blog Update

It has been a very busy month for Root of Good.

Stats for October:

Visitors: 9,467

Unique Visitors: 6,538

Pageviews: 19,369

Most popular pages:

Make $150,000 Income, Pay $150 Tax

Early Retirement at 33: An Overview

I Retired At 33!

A Simple Way to Retire 15 Years Earlier

Facebook subscribers: 39

Blog subscribers/followers: 21

Twitter followers: 74

Revenue: $358 (although I haven’t actually received a penny of this yet).  I’m surprised I’m already getting this kind of revenue.  November is looking decent so far as well.  $358 per month income represents 13% of our budgeted retirement spending.  It’s pretty cool to think slinging words onto the internet can fund 13% of our retirement.  I’m skeptical about the long term revenue prospects, but as long as it remains fun to blog, I’ll keep it up.  Picking up some beer money is a side benefit.

Guest Posts: During October I was lucky to have a guest post from Nick at Pretired.org on Rethinking Retirement.  Thanks again to Nick for sharing his take on what retirement means in the modern day.

Coming up on Wednesday will be a guest post from Doug Nordman, founder of The Military Guide and author of “The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement”.  In addition to being an early-retired nuclear submarine officer and surfer dude, he’s also an expert in military benefits, pension, health care, and early retirement.  Doug will discuss whether it makes sense to join the military if early retirement is your goal.  Stay tuned!

 

Dear Technorati, Look Here! And other news for the week

I do not know WTF this is

Technorati.com has a blog directory and I want to be listed on it.  To get listed I have to say BBPP4X2BDQAE .  There, I said it.

That is the secret code that their wonderful multi-core servers must have in order to prove that I really am me, I own a keyboard, and I am claiming my blog in their illustrious directory.  I’m kissing a little ass cheek in the off chance that their computer hardware has feelings and a sense of self esteem, but not quite enough AI to determine that I am sarcastically mocking it with my facetious sycophancy.

The Real Business

Okay, enough technoflateri and subterfuge for one day.  On to the real business.

Now that I have over 20 blog posts on Root of Good, it can be a little hard to navigate if you are looking for a particular article from a long time ago.  I have the solution!  After some late night hacking and coding, I came up with the All Posts Since the Beginning of Time page.  The All Posts page is also available under the “Categories” menu at the top of the page (in case you have insomnia later and want to go the non-chemical treatment route).

A few recent posts from the All Posts page that you should check out if you missed them:

 

On Managing and Saving Money:

Figure out how to make a thousand bucks or so doing something you already do: spend money.  Just do it with the right credit cards.  Charge Everything on the Credit Card! Most Bizarre Financial Advice Ever?

Want to track your spending and income, and manage your investments with one quick tool that consolidates everything into one screen?  Simplest Way to Manage Investments, Spending, And Income: Personal Capital

Getting around, getting it done, in my Honda Civic. Auto Costs On The Cheap

I kicked the tax’s ass here: $150,000 Income, $150 Income Tax

 

On Early Retirement:

Guest post by Nick from Pretired.org: Rethinking Retirement  (I’ll be guest posting at his blog on Thursday)

The most popular page here at Root of Good: the story of how I retired at 33.  Early Retirement at 33: An Overview

 

Keep in Touch!

If you want to make sure you catch the latest blog posts, keep connected on facebook and twitter.  Like me, follow me, or whatever it is they call it these days.

Root of Good on Facebook
Root of Good on Twitter

You can also subscribe by email to the blog on the right hand sidebar for an email summary of new blog posts. I won’t spam you, I promise.

 

Before I close out this post of miscellanies, I wanted to remind you all that this week is National Save For Retirement Week.  That’s great that there is a whole week dedicated to saving for retirement.  Unfortunately if you only save for retirement one week per year, you’ll likely be 80 or so before you can retire.  So do yourself a favor and save a little bit each paycheck with a 401k and see if you can start an IRA (or max it out if you already have one).

 

Blog Carnivals where Root of Good has appeared recently:

Week Ending October 14, 2013
Carnival of MoneyPros hosted by Mo’ Money Mo’ Houses
Financial Carnival for Young Adults hosted by Mom and Dad Money
Lifestyle Carnival hosted by Making Sense of Cents
Carnival of Money hosted by Daniel at the Carnival of Money
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash

Week Ending October 21, 2013
Festival of Frugality hosted by Jay Peroni
Wealth Builder Carnival hosted by My Wealth Builder
Financial Planning Carnival hosted by The Skilled Investor
Financial Freedom Pages hosted by Dreams Cash True
Carnival of Financial Independence hosted by Reach Financial Independence
Carnival of Money hosted by Financial Nerd
Rockstar Finance hosted by Rockstar Finance
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash <– This guy is hilarious!
Carnival of Retirement hosted by The Frugal Toad
Lifestyle Carnival hosted by Master The Art Of Saving

Root of Good One Month Update

Flowers at Root of Good

Today marks the end of the first month for Root of Good.

I’m pretty happy with where the blog is today.  I started a month ago with zero knowledge of blogging.  Twitter and twitting or tweeting or whatever it is called was new to me (I’m 33, we just talked to each other when I was a young whippersnapper).

Now, one month in, I’m getting the hang of it.  I still have a long to do list to tweak some things on Root of Good.  And a long list of interesting topics to write about.  Some topics might not garner me the most eyeballs or pageviews (the standard metric of blog success?).  If there is an interesting or compelling story to tell or issue to analyze, I would rather write about that instead of a topic that has been rehashed a million times over where I could contribute no novel thoughts or new insights.

 

Blog Carnivals

I have recently discovered these things called “carnivals” in the blogosphere.  Carnival is a fancy word for digest or compilation of blog posts from many different blogs.  You submit your articles to the carnivals, and they compile your articles along with many others and publish a weekly “carnival” of blogs.  It is a great way to expose your blog to new readers, and from reviewing my site traffic, I can tell it is effective.

I have been fortunate to be included in 11 blog carnivals in the last few weeks.  I wanted to extend thanks to these carnivals and their hosts:

Week ending Sept 30, 2013:
Lifestyle Carnival hosted by Mom and Dad Money
Carnival of Financial Independence hosted by Evolving PF
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie hosted by Fat Guy, Skinny Wallet
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash
Carnival of Personal Finance hosted by Red Debted Stepchild
Finance Carnival For Young Adults hosted by The Skilled Investor

Week ending October 7, 2013:
Paula Beard’s Finance Roundup hosted by Paula Beard
Personal Finance Carnival hosted by Aspiring Blogger
Carnival of Retirement hosted by Frugal Rules
Carnival of Wealth hosted by Control Your Cash

October 8, 2013:

Festival of Frugality hosted by Debt Roundup

 

Root of Good Statistics:

Visitors: 3,200

Unique Visitors: 1,900

Pageviews: 9,100

Most popular pages:

Early Retirement at 33: An Overview – 1,400 pageviews

I Retired At 33! – 800 pageviews

Obamacare Makes Early Retirement Easier and More Secure – 400 pageviews

Demographics of visitors: Mostly English speaking countries (US, Canada, Australia, UK), with a few European and Asian countries rounding out the top 10 (hi Germany, Netherlands, Singapore, and Norway).  49 different countries in all.

Facebook subscribers: 23

Blog subscribers/followers: 8

Twitter followers: 58

Revenue: $32 (from Google Adsense) (that’s about a penny per visitor – leave your 2 cents and we’ll be almost even).  I have a small amount of revenue sitting out there that may eventually turn into cashola in my pockets.

 

Notes

The stats make me smile.  People are reading the blog, subscribing, and commenting.  A number of people told me they have made positive financial after following my advice.  Just as often they were reminded to do something they have been putting off for a while.

I’ve made a few “blogger friends” and hope to develop those relationships (they are interesting people).

I’ll be doing a blog swap next week.  One of those bloggers with whom I identify closely, Nick at Pretired.org, will be guest posting here at Root of Good and I’ll be posting at Pretired.org.  Nick has a lot of smart and engaged readers, and I look forward to dropping some wisdom bombs on them next week!

That’s all the blog related news, but I can’t close out the post without sharing a pic of this watermelon I grew in the dirt in my backyard.  Can’t wait to carve it up for Halloween!

Monster watermelon