July 2017 Financial Update

It’s a rainy day in the outskirts of Koblenz, Germany and I finally have time to crank out the latest monthly financial update.  It’s 60 degrees and drizzling all day.  The fog rising over the farm fields obscures the view of the next village over.  Though a rainy day would mark ruin for others’ vacations, for us it’s a nice forced break from our routine of exploring new cities and sights.

In July, we visited Milan and Venice in Italy, Ljulbjana and Lake Bled/Kranjska Gora/Soca Valley in Slovenia, Salzburg and Hallstatt in Austria, Munich and Berlin in Germany, and Prague in Czech Republic.  Our nine week summer vacation in Europe is drawing to a close with only a few days remaining in Koblenz, Germany then a few days in Amsterdam before we fly back home to Raleigh.

July was another great month for us.  Our net worth rose another $40,000 to $1,882,000.  Our income remained steady at $1,549 which was barely eclipsed by our spending of $1,616.  In other words, a combination of passive dividend income from our portfolio and a small amount of income from this blog came close to covering all of our expenses for the month while we have been vacationing in Europe.

 

Income

Investment income totaled $940 for the month.  This payment arrived in the first few days of July from second quarter dividend payments.  The majority of our mutual funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly in March, June, September, and December.  During other months investment income tends to be much smaller.  We are well on our way to earning roughly $30,000 in dividends for 2017, as we have in the past.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, dropped to $608.  I have two large checks from an advertiser waiting for me at home that arrived during June and July, so the blog income is lower than usual.  But watch out for August’s update when I’ll deposit three of those large checks!

My early retirement lifestyle consulting dropped to zero for the month. That’s totally fine with me since we’ve been rather busy on this vacation, and I had several media interviews during July that took some time out of my schedule.  I’m back on track to have several clients in August so I think July’s big fat zero is a temporary lull.  Perhaps everyone else is on vacation too and not overly focused on money.

I racked up about $20 in cash back from the Ebates.com and Mrrebates.com online shopping portals but didn’t transfer that money from paypal to my bank account until August so those funds will show up in August’s financial update. If you sign up for Ebates through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Ebates, you’ll get a $10 gift card like I did.  When shopping online, I always check to see if I can score some extra cash back by using one of those online shopping portals (and it usually pays off!).

july-2017-income

If you’re interested in tracking your income and expenses like I do, then check out Personal Capital (it’s free!). All of our savings and spending accounts (including checking, money market, and five credit cards) are all linked and updated in real time through Personal Capital. We have accounts all over the place, and Personal Capital makes it really easy to check on everything at one time.

Personal Capital is also a solid tool for investment management. Keeping track of our entire investment portfolio takes two clicks. If you haven’t signed up for the free Personal Capital service, check it out today (review here).

 

Expenses

Now let’s take a look at July expenses:

july-2017-expenses

We spent $1,616 during the month of July.  We spent slightly less than half of our budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year).  Travel represented all but about $100 of our total monthly spending.

 

Travel – $1,523:

In July we spent $1,523 in Europe on our big summer vacation.  About six to eight months ago we spent $5,000 for trains and buses between cities plus all of our lodging for nine weeks (through Airbnb) so our expenses right now while on vacation are mostly groceries, dining out, local transportation (transit or rental cars and gas), and admission fees to castles, palaces, and museums.

Looking at the disaggregated data in Personal Capital, our $1,523 travel spending for July breaks out as follows:

  • groceries – $500
  • dining out – $175 (note: this is probably closer to $400 including money withdrawn from the ATM in June)
  • rental car – $400
  • transit – $150
  • admission fees – $300

 

Groceries – We spent around $500 on groceries in July. We eat most meals at our apartment or pack a picnic lunch to enjoy in the middle of the day when we take a break from that day’s activities.  Don’t misconstrue this as a mere cost saving exercise – we enjoyed plenty of the finer things in life (smoked ham, smoked salmon, cheese, wine, beer) along with local staples at each meal.

Picnicking on the hillside overlooking Lake Bled in Slovenia. $5 for fresh baguettes, some ham, salami, prosciutto, and cheese equals a nice little feast with a view.

Picnicking on the hillside overlooking Lake Bled in Slovenia. $5 for some apricots, fresh baguettes, some ham, salami, prosciutto, and cheese equals a nice little feast with a view.

 

Dining out – We usually dine out two to five times per week.  Many times we order take out and dine in the comfort of our own home or take advantage of a park bench or picnic table.  From looking at our ATM withdrawals and credit card purchases pulled from Personal Capital, I see $175 spent during July.  However, we had several hundred euros in cash that I withdrew from ATMs in June that we most likely spent on dining out (our largest category of cash purchases), so we probably spent closer to $400 on dining out during July.  Most meals were USD$20-35.

We got local Czech food take out almost every day in Prague. 4 heaping plates of meat and some variety of potatoes for about USD$20.

We got local Czech food take out almost every day in Prague. 4 heaping plates of meat in a variety of savory and/or spicy sauces plus some variety of potatoes for about USD$20 total.

 

Rental Car – We rented a car twice in July.  Once for 10 days in Ljubljana (returning it in the northern part of Slovenia) and once more for four days just outside of Salzburg, Austria, returning it to Munich, Germany.  We spent $400 in total for rental fees plus gas and parking, which works out to about $29 per day.  We took eight major day trips during this period (including two moves to a new apartment in a new city) so I feel like that’s an incredibly good transportation value, even given the cheap public transportation options available in Europe.

Dachau concentration camp memorial site just north of Munich. 2 hours by public transit or 40 minutes by car.

Dachau concentration camp memorial site just north of Munich. Two hours by public transit versus 40 minutes by car from our south-side apartment.

Renting a car in Europe was a little intimidating but it worked out perfectly well for us.  I paid about 50% extra to reserve automatic transmission cars, which also seemed to get us a free upgrade to mid-size cars in two out of three cases.  I googled the traffic regulations a bit so I knew what most of the signs meant (and only got honked at once or twice).  Some streets were narrow but speed limits in the old towns are very slow.  It’s easy to dodge oncoming cars on what should be one way streets when you’re traveling at 10-15 miles per hour.  Parking was never a problem as we had parking at our apartments and the sites we visited had free parking or very inexpensive parking at $2-7 for the day.

One of the rentals was an Audi A3 and it was our smallest rental.  It was a squeeze but we fit all of our luggage for the five of us plus two big boxes of groceries in the back of the car.  Good thing we packed light because there is no way we could have fit five pieces of checked luggage in the trunk.

One of the main reasons to rent a car in Germany - our visit to Neuschwanstein Castle about 2 hours south of Munich. We decided to skip the interior tour after seeing many other castles and spent the time hiking up to a bridge over a waterfall instead. We ended up touring the castle courtyard for free, so didn't miss much.

One of the main reasons to rent a car in Germany – our visit to Neuschwanstein Castle about 2 hours south of Munich. We decided to skip the interior tour after seeing many other castles and spent the time hiking up to a bridge over a waterfall instead. We ended up touring the castle courtyard for free, so didn’t miss much.

 

Transit – We spent around $150 on transit in July.  In Munich and Berlin, unlimited ride multi-day passes for families were about $11-12 per day.  In Prague we chose to buy individual tickets.  For the whole family this worked out to USD$3 per one way trip (or $6 per day).

Prague Castle in the background and Charles Bridge in the foreground in Prague, Czech Republic. Transit in Prague is great - $3 to get the whole family across town to the castle by subway in 20 minutes.

Prague Castle in the background and Charles Bridge in the foreground in Prague, Czech Republic. Transit in Prague is great – $3 to get the whole family across town to the castle by subway.

 

Admission fees – We spent a total of $300 on admission fees during July.  We visited two caves in Slovenia and an ice cave in Austria that were almost $100 each.  We also visited the Residenz in Munich for $16 for the whole family (excellent value, by the way).  We tend to skip museums because, well, have you ever visited a museum with a five year old?

Cost for admission to parks, playgrounds, hiking trails, and splashing in streams and lakes? Generally zero and way more fun than the typical museum.  Perhaps I have no taste for culture.

Amazing Skocjan cave in Slovenia. Not far from Trieste, Italy.

Amazing Skocjan cave in Slovenia. Not far from Trieste, Italy.

 

Free: Hanging out at the deserted marina on Lake Hallstatt in Austria. I'm catching a quiet moment on the lake while the kids are burning off energy on a tire swing in the park.

Free: Hanging out at the deserted marina on Lake Hallstatt in Austria (Hallstatt village in the background). I’m catching a quiet moment on the lake while the kids are burning off energy on a tire swing in the park. Another one of those surreal “Holy Crap! Am I really here seeing this? Amazing!” moments.  Then of course I ended up on the tire swing five minutes later.

 

So far we are underspending the budget estimate I put together for this trip.  Since we are a few days from returning home, it’s unlikely we’ll encounter any big surprise expenses.

 

Home Maintenance – $60:

A teenager from down the street mowed our grass at home for $20 per mow times three mows.

 

Service fees – $22:

I have a 457 account and Mrs. Root of Good has a 401k that both charge small annual account maintenance fees. In exchange for these fees, the mutual fund expenses are lower than normal on these accounts compared to similar accounts at other institutions.

 

Telephone – $10:

We keep an old T-Mobile prepaid phone active for $10 per year on a grandfathered Gold Rewards plan.  Even though we rarely use it, it’s very handy those few times we do need it.  International roaming is easy and it has a “real” phone number that has proven useful several times this past year to serve as a contact number when verifying accounts for security purposes.  My various free VOIP phone numbers don’t usually work for account verification.

Cheers from Venice! Gelato!

Cheers from Venice! Gelato!

 

Expenses that were zero during June:

Internet – we cancelled internet for the summer since we won’t be using it.

Healthcare/Medical – I prepaid the health insurance through July so we won’t have to worry about that while in Europe.  So far everyone has remained healthy and my extensive first aid kit is still mostly intact.  We chose to skip travel insurance so we are self-insuring for health care here in Europe (other than our emergency coverage through US-based insurance).

Utilities – I prepaid our electric, natural gas, and water bills for several months ahead during prior months.  This was mostly to meet the minimum spending requirements for a series of credit cards we applied for this winter and spring that gave us 360,000 airline miles.  It doesn’t take much to score free tickets to Mexico, the Caribbean, or Europe (we traveled to Europe on free plane tickets, for example).

Do you like free travel as much as I do?  Check out all the credit card sign up bonuses.  Or go directly to the Chase Ink Business Preferred card with an 80,000 point bonus (any size business qualifies you for a business card).  For reference, 80,000 points can fly you almost anywhere in the world on a variety of frequent flyer programs, or get you three domestic round trip tickets.

 

Year to Date Living Expenses for 2017

july-2017-expenses-ytd

We have spent a total of $15,933 for the first seven months of 2017.  That is $7,400 less than our annual spending target of $23,333 budgeted for the first seven months of the year.  $15,933 year to date spending would appear to be a symptom of a painfully frugal lifestyle. It is $600 less than the federal poverty level, after all.  However, through careful planning and judicious spending on things that bring us great value, we’re living what I call a $100,000 lifestyle on under $40,000 per year.

In the fall of 2017 we’ll enjoy several months of cheap living.  The kids will all be in school during the weekdays leaving us parents with plenty of idle time to tackle some postponed DIY projects and general organizing, go out for some adventuring (once the temperature in North Carolina cools off to sub-inferno levels), and relax in my much-missed hammock.  It wouldn’t surprise me to see the year end total spending at $25,000-30,000 barring any unforeseen medical or house-related emergencies.

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2017:

 

Net Worth: $1,882,000 (+$40,000)

Another month with a huge net worth increase.  Seven months into 2017 and we have zero months with a drop in net worth.  Things always go up, right?  Based on recent history that’s certainly a reasonable conclusion.

july-2017-net-worth

 

Since the beginning of the year we have watched our net worth increase by over $200,000.  To take advantage of a skyrocketing stock market, I’ve been slowly selling appreciated stock investments and moving the funds to the Vanguard Total Bond Market index fund.  I moved another $20,000 in the first couple of days of August.  Right now the bond fund sits at roughly $110,000.  That sum along with almost $40,000 in a money market account will be sufficient to provide our living expenses for at least four or five years should the next recession and stock market crash happen sooner rather than later.

I started early retirement with a near-100% allocation to stocks.  After a series of sales and shifts to bonds, I’m still at a 90% equities allocation, which is aggressive by most standards.  I’ve been through a few bear markets in my life and I know I’ll be sleeping a lot better with a five year cushion of liquidity to insulate me from the vagaries of the stock market.

No longer a 30-something early retiree. Mrs. Root of Good celebrated the big 40 in Ljubljana, Slovenia with an uncharacteristically small birthday cake.

No longer a 30-something early retiree. Mrs. Root of Good celebrating turning the big 40 in Ljubljana, Slovenia with an uncharacteristically small birthday cake.

Enough of finances. Back to fun.  With a few days remaining on our nine week vacation, I’m in a contemplative mood.  For those still working, you probably know all too well that sinking feeling you get at the end of a one or two week vacation when you realize you’ll be back home soon, it’ll be Monday morning, and you’ll be back in your office chair wading through a backlog of emails, surfing Root of Good, and dreading the quotidian nature of your nine to five (assuming you’re not part of the 13% of folks that actually love their job).

Loving the slow travel lifestyle. Plenty of time to stop in beautiful places not on any tourist checklists take it all in. Bridge over the Ljubljanica River.

Loving the slow travel lifestyle. Plenty of time to stop in beautiful places not on any tourist checklists to take it all in. Bridge over the Ljubljanica River in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Since I have retired, I don’t get that feeling any more.  I’ve adjusted to my new reality.  Though this particular vacation is about to be over, life as a whole is one big vacation now.  It is within our budget to spend every summer in Europe (or somewhere else) if we want to.  I’m ready to get back home but I know we’ll be back on the road again eventually.

 

 

Do you get that feeling at the end of a nice vacation?  Where should we vacation during the summer of 2018?  

 

 

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84 comments

  • Wow it looks like you really embarked on an amazing and memorable trip to Europe. Plus having your passive income cover your expenses has to be such an amazing feeling.

    Now for 2018, I think I would hit up the Pacific and backpack through New Zealand and Australia and then work my way up from there depending on how much time you’d like to allocate 🙂

    • NZ and Australia sounds nice. And the weather might be perfect during our summer – their winter. But that flight – not sure I can deal with ~17 hours in the air, and no clue how the kids would handle it!

  • I have LOVED following your adventure through Europe this summer, on Facebook! LOTS of planning surely did pay off!

  • Dear Jason, I am only a few hours away from Koblenz, so I am fighting the urge to jump in my car and drive over for a visit. I love it that you report your $40,000 portfolio gain and $20 in Ebates with equal weight. I imagine the vacation is starting to feel a bit long now and you are looking forward to home. I wish you continued safe journeys and all the best.

    • Hey, thanks! Bring your umbrella if you do come to Koblenz – the rain is going non-stop for day #2. Got rained out today while trying to visit downtown Koblenz but trying again tomorrow before leaving Sunday AM very early (when it’s going to be sunny and beautiful!).

  • “life as a whole is one big vacation now” – I can’t wait until our house renovations are done and we feel more of this! We’re retired now – but have a lot of projects on deck. But we decided to slow down a bit and get some travel in this fall during all the renovating too. I’m just happy that we have options I guess! Your trips and spending never cease to amaze me. I can’t offer any travel ideas because we haven’t traveled extensively. I’ll just keep reading (and stealing) your ideas 🙂 One thing I wondered – how did the kids get along during the trip? I think mine would have been pretty sick of each other by the end. I appreciate the fun you build in every day. I bet that helps a lot too (along with the slow traveling).

    • Our spring was like that – so many small and large house projects (plumbing, new roof, electrical that’s apparently ongoing while we’re gone, etc). Gotta finish a few more things this fall!

      Kids enjoy it pretty well but they are ready to get back home too. One of them has her birthday in a few days and we’re celebrating with a sleepover right after we get back, so they are excited. Missing friends too I’m sure (though skype/messaging helps). We’ve had pretty spacious 2 and 3 bedroom apartments so they can spread out and not annoy each other too much (or go outside and play since we’ve had many places with decks/porches or playgrounds right outside).

      Slow travel definitely helps too. Having plenty of downtime means they aren’t exhausted all the time. And when we do have a big day planned they know it’s not something we are going to do every day (like hiking up the side of a mountain to visit a castle).

  • Who what a great summary of your vacationso far…… Having those beautiful countries visited will give your kids lovely memories.

    We just got back from a 2 week vacation also near Koblenz and Cochem. And this country is a true beauty.

    Have lots of fun for the last part of your vacation. And I hope you have fun in Amsterdam. My homeland capitol.

    Best regards,
    TheGreenFIguy

    • I’m glad we visited Koblenz (staying between Koblenz and Cochem actually) since it’s a different feel than Munich and Berlin. Much more rural here where we are. Can’t wait to see the canals in Amsterdam in a few days!

  • Love your updates! very motivational to see how your family travels. You can consider a National Parks trip in the US or something I’d like to do with our family in the future when the kids get older is stay at a farm and have everybody work a little and you get a free meal and lodging (there are a lot of programs in Europe where lots of international people show up. I think having kids/ teenagers work in interesting settings can be a life long learning experience. It’s my first time commenting but I love your blog and how you show that average, normal people (don’t need to bike everywhere, or do anything else much differently than you usually do) can achieve financial independence and love how you travel with your family extensively. I also switched to Personal Capital through your blog 😉 after being a long Mint user – love it!

    • I have a big loop through the National Parks planned in my head. But getting to the southwest and west where most of the best ones are is a chore if we drive all the way there. And since we would visit in summer it would be HOT in many of the parks. Maybe one day!

  • Congrats on the nice increase in net worth! $1,523 in expenses for a family of 5 traveling in Europe is definitely admirable. I love all the beautiful photos of the scenery and food that you took. I’m glad you and your family is having a great vacation in Europe and look forward to more stories! 🙂

  • Amazed you had the kahunas to head into ER with a 100% equity exposure. It has definitely worked out, congrats.

    • Pretty crazy, huh? I have a very long term mindset, so short term fluctuations don’t bother me too much. I’m just guessing here, but the market feels a little frothy at today’s levels. Who knows it might go up another 50% and I’ll look foolish!

  • Gelato! One of the best parts of traveling in Italy (along with wine and pasta!) Looks like you’re having an awesome vacation.

    Shifting to the bond market and money market seems like a good idea. Keeping at least 5 years of expenses makes sense. We also keep a percentage of our portfolio in fixed income investments. We target 30% because we’re a bit more risk averse. We experienced the large losses of 2007/2008 and know that being 100% stocks takes a lot of guts and a very long term view. Since we’re planning to FIRE in the next decade we’re not comfortable with the risk and would rather worry less at the expense of some returns.

    • With 70% of your assets still invested, you’ll still get a nice long term boost from stock returns. I’m more concerned about inflation over 3-4 decades than monthly or yearly fluctuations in portfolio value, therefore I’m sticking with a higher equities allocation.

  • Great example of just setting your priorities. I think that your kids are also learning from your budgeting wisdom as well.

    On an unrelated note, while summer travel seems to work better for the kids’ school would you consider trips during colder months? I’d imagine that would also add to the luggage.

    • The kids are definitely paying attention to the cost of things. 🙂 Like skipping the bathrooms that charge and using a free one whenever we encounter one 🙂 We point out the tourist prices for things in the middle of town versus the locals price of things a mile or two out where we are staying. Hopefully they can take their own budget vacations in the future!

      We do winter trips occasionally. Mostly cruises. I’d love to do a longer trip but it’s hard to get more than 2 weeks off at a time due to their school schedule.

  • Great trip report. I love Hallstatt. The Bone House at the local Catholic Church was particularly interesting. Glad you all have had a great vacation. You missed nothing on this side of the pond but political drama and bad weather. Perhaps you should extend your vacation 🙂

    • I saw the bone house but only by sneaking my camera phone over the top of the locked gate and snapping a pic! We spent most of the day at the ice cave then relaxing on the far shore of the lake before heading into Hallstatt village after all the tourists left. The bone house was closed by that time. Still a neat church and cemetery though.

      I’ve seen enough of the political drama from internet news to know I wasn’t missing anything. I’m sure I’ll get plenty more of that in a few days once we return home. 🙂

  • Awesome trip! I’m hesitant to rent a car because I don’t like driving outside the US, but maybe it would be good for eastern Europe. Was it easy to drive there? Or would public transportation be enough?

    You guys are keeping it under budget, that’s really great.
    I continue to be very jealous of your low cost of living. At that level, it’s easy to have 5 years of expenses in cash/bond. Great job.
    Enjoy your last few days in Europe!

    • I only drove in Slovenia, Austria, and Germany and it was easy in all three. Just make sure to reserve an automatic if that’s what you’re used to at home (soooo many times when I was glad I wasn’t struggling with a manual!). In the cities, transit is great everywhere we’ve been. But a car is very helpful if you want to visit the more rural places like mountains, hiking trails, lakes, some distant castles, etc. I’m glad we had a car in many places since it meant spending half or a third of the time getting to a destination compared to public transit. I don’t know how the kids would handle 4-6+ hour round trips to get to some of the places we visited if we chose trains/transit instead of a car.

    • And mainland European countries all drive on the same side of the road as Americans do. It’s here in the U.K., Republic of Ireland, New Zealand and Australia (not Europe, obvs!) that we drive on the left hand side of the road. You’d have no problems driving in Europe. Other than in some countries where they drive like sodding lunatics in certain areas!

  • You know you’re doing it right when a rainy day is a welcome respite. Awesome pics, a picnic with a view is just our speed!

    Enjoy the rest of the trip, looks incredible. We might have to hit up some of those spots on our next trip to Europe 🙂

  • Wow I expected a bit more in the expense department but you’ve really show the rest of us how it’s done! Impressive that you spent $1600 while traveling. Love seeing the trip updates.

    Enjoy the rainy day and keep us posted. I’m marking all the spots you’ve reviewed for our trip to Europe in a few years.

  • What an awesome trip and great memories for the kids! Your family is amazing at keeping expenses down. I love the slogan $100,000 lifestyle on a $40,000 budget. I am still working and totally relate to your comment on the dread of returning to work after a wonderful vacation. I can hardly wait to pull the plug and be on permanent vacation. Great job and you set a fine example on the beauty of early retirement.

    • I notice my site traffic spikes on Sunday evenings. I think a lot of people feel the Monday morning dreads coming on.

      • It’s Sunday morning in England (sunny for once, and am sitting on my sister’s patio in the 8.05am sunshine) and I already have the “dreads”, as you call them!

  • Congratulations on another successful vacation journey. And congratulations on the increase in net worth; impressive. The rising tide of the Trump rally, which has been in place since November, is still lifting all boats (or at least those boats in stock market waters). Be safe, enjoy, and come back home safely so we can hear of your further adventures.

  • Looks like a fantastic trip RoG! $1616 for a month of traveling in europe is pretty great! Surprisingly affordable in fact!

    Like you, I’ve started storing up some additional cash for when the inevitable recession happens. We have 6-8 years worth of living expenses ($400k) outside of the stock market right now.

    That should cover all but the most terrible of recessions.

    • Yes, I think you’ll do fine. Even the great depression wouldn’t have looked so ugly with that much cash, and I’m sure you can trim spending if absolutely necessary.

  • Great food, beautifully scenery, historic sights, and travel adventures with your family. You are livin’ the dream!! Enjoy the rest of your trip!

  • Looking forward to the rest of your trip reports. We leave for Europe in 9 days. Amsterdam and then a cruise through Norway’s western fjords. Business class tickets R/T using UR points transferred to our frequent flyer
    Accounts. Much easier to do when it is only 2 of us.
    Curious as to whether you ever book future cruises while on the ship. We do to get shipboard credit, and then monitor the prices and have our travel agent adjust down when there is a sale. We also use our Ames Plat to pay for the cruise-you can get additional shipboard credit that way.

    • And if you are not in Amsterdam yet, I heard that the Albert Heijn grocery is a good place for reasonable takeout (although they only take cash).

    • I’ve looked closely at the future cruises but never booked any. Looks like some really good deals to be had from what I’ve seen.

  • Your wife looks 19 instead of 40. The benefits of early retirement?
    Great pictures as always. Looking forward to hearing how you will adjust with all the kids in school.
    Your travel expenses continue to amaze.

  • Have enjoyed your travel reports and I have taking notes. Thank you. I am so thrilled you went to Hallstatt. I went there many years ago only knowing that it had lots of Celtic history there and had not seen any pictures of the place. I was blown away by the beauty of the place. Swans in the mist on the lake.

    • Yes, it’s a very beautiful place. It was pretty swamped with tourists when we drove through on the way to the ice caves nearby, but much emptier when we returned to the village after 5 pm. In fact, it was so busy mid-day that I noticed both the municipal parking lots were full and no spaces available. Good thing we waited till later in the day to park there and visit.

  • So cool to hear about your nine-week trip! These are memories your kids will have forever. So cool that you’re able to spend so much time with them while they’re so young. 🙂 Inspiring!!!

  • Your travel report is amazing, how did you achieve the food target? It seems quite low for 5.. I tried once for 3 and it was over this amount. Looking forward to see your final report.

    • Lots of cooking meals in our apartment. And if we’re dining out, many times it’s take out instead of a proper sit down meal so there are some small savings on drinks and tip (though the Czech place we got takeout from almost every day charged an extra USD$0.25 per plate for takeout, as did the Chinese restaurant we ordered from in Prague). We also avoided eating in the middle of the tourist areas. Unless you’re eating street food (hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches) you’ll probably pay 2-3x what you’ll pay elsewhere for a similar meal and probably get worse service and lower quality food.

  • Lovely recap of what must have been a fantastic experience. One that will stay with the kids for a very long time :-). I agree the comment up above. The Mrs. looks half her age.. retiring agrees with her for sure. Yumm..gelato! Can’t wait, we are gearing up to go visit his family in September and l was pressing for a month..but nope! His family will drive him crazy he says, so 2 weeks it is, but hopefully we can squeeze Milan or Sicily in on a weekend. Nice to get richer passively isn’t it? 🙂

  • Question about the travel insurance?

    We have a preputual argument about insurance vs self-insurance at our house.

    I purchased a health and evacuation insurance for our most recently planned international trip. It was less than $100 for a family of four. I bought this as we currently have health insurance under expanded Medicaid and it has zero coverage internationally.

    We actually ended up not going as we had an emergency hospitalization the day before we were to leave.

    Aren’t part of you covered on Medicaid as well? Seems pretty risky to go without.

    • I might do it if it were only $100 for reliable coverage. The quotes I received were $500-600 for us.

      We’re taking a slight risk by going uninsured but I figure over dozens of trips it will work out to our advantage. So far we’ve never needed travel insurance so I have saved many many thousands of dollars during my lifetime. It also helps that we could afford a $50-100k unexpected expense without seriously impacting our finances, so we have a lot of capacity to self-insure without worrying about finances.

  • Loving your updates – great to see that you are enjoying your European holiday.

    I can confirm that you didn’t miss out by not seeing the inside of the Nechwanstein (can’t spell it) castle. We did it for you so you wouldn’t have to… my boyfriend and I visited it at the end of a week’s cycling holiday in Bavaria and regretted shelling out for it – we did not enjoy the experience of being herded around in extremely large tourist groups.

    Congratulations to Mrs RootOfGood on her birthday!

    • Good to hear – we saw tons of other old buildings, palaces, and castles on the inside. Neuschwanstein appears to be a tourist trap. Super packed and not particularly spectacular. Long lines and you have to get tickets at least a week or two ahead of time or wait in line for hours. Without tickets, you can still tour the outside of the castle and get into the interior courtyard, just not the interior rooms.

  • Jeremy, have you considered the impact such a diet has to the health and overall wellbeing of your family?

    I have nothing but love for your blog and contributions to the FIRE community, so this is just an honest question with no ill intentions.

    • I didn’t put pictures of the salads, fruits, and vegetables that we ate because that would be pretty boring. Fortunately we ate many meals at our apartment and those usually included something healthier than the stuff we ate from restaurants.

  • OK, totally off the topic, but why can’t you walk outside in the rain?

    • We don’t have proper rain gear (traveling super light). It was non-stop rain for several days. They even had a “steady rain” severe weather advisory in effect (or that’s what weather.com said anyway). And it was chilly here when raining – 50’s and 60’s. Just not good weather for walking around town, sitting in the park relaxing, taking in the scenery, etc. Especially when you have 3 kids that would be soaking wet and freezing after a while.

  • We just did a one month road trip around the northwest (Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada) and I would highly recommend visiting that area! There are so many beautiful things to see out there. I love hearing about your travels, we are hoping to plan a trip to Europe soon and it is inspiring to see how affordable it can be.

    • Sounds like a nice road trip!

    • Be careful! We did a trip through the Pacific Northwest and drove through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and were taken aback by the beauty of the place. Less than a year later, I took a job about twenty minutes from there near Spokane, Washington (no state income taxes and 10% lower COL than national average!), and we visit Coeur d’Alene regularly. From here, we’re a day’s drive or less from Seattle, Vancouver, Portland, Whistler, Banff, Calgary, Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park, Glacier National Park (visiting there again next week!), Yellowstone National Park, and Grand Teton National Park. It’s an outdoor lover’s Mecca!

  • Nothing wrong with having a rainy day laz-about in the condo in my opinion! It sounds like you have all been really on the go for a while. I am hoping you get a chance when you get home to post more about your trip – looking forward to seeing lots more pictures…

    I had a friend from work go to Germany/Austria the last couple of weeks and it sounds like she had a great time. Germany/Austria/Switzerland would be a great trip for me as I am a nature and mountain lover and would do a lot of hiking. You are making me consider Slovenia too after seeing the cool cave picture and the lake.

    Have you considered Iceland as a stand alone trip? I think it looks cool and bet there would be enough to keep one busy for a month at least. How about Scandinavia – long days in the summer for sure being that far north. Sometime you have to go see Yellowstone National Park with the kids too. You could fly out to someplace like Denver or Salt Lake City and rent a minivan to road trip around the west if you wanted….

    • Definitely visit Slovenia – it’s right next to Austria and worth a detour. I’d suggest skipping Switzerland and hitting Slovenia if time is limited (and you’ll save tons of $ since Slovenia must be 1/2-1/3 the cost of Switzerland).

      I’m hesitant about Iceland. Seems like everyone is going there and we’ve found we don’t like crowded places. Maybe some day though!

  • Where do you do those graphs?
    I loved them!

    Cheers from Brazil!
    PD7

  • These photos of your adventures are so lovely! I just got back from my first paid vacation as an adult. Since I had miles and stayed with my girlfriend. Our expenses were food and some entertainment. It was wonderful. Going back was difficult, but I know I’ll see her again twice in the next month. Having to leave her is a good focus-enhancer; I must master the skill I’ve been building so that I can double my pay and spend more of my time near her.

  • Just came across your site. Enjoyed the post and just spent a few minutes browsing prior content; I’m off from work and will be spending a few hours tomorrow going through stuff – nice site!

  • Hi Justin,

    Would you suggest the asset move to bonds now if a person (aka me) has yet to retire and is targeting FI in about 5-6 years? Or, should I stick it out with full stocks instead? Thanks!

    • Depends on your tolerance for risk. There’s very high chance that there will be a market correction in that time period. As long as you can keep investing during the correction and don’t mind extending your # years working if the market remains bad for 6+ years then you can do just fine with a high stock allocation.

  • How did using the Lounges with Priority Pass go?

    Did you get in? Was it worth stopping in them?
    I have heard so much about them denying due to space constraints.

    • No problem gaining access to any lounges. A few asked for my boarding pass. Most just swiped my Priority Pass card and let me (and the family) in. The majority of lounges were busy but we always managed to find seats. It was worth stopping in all of them we went to (for free – I’d never pay for the privilege). Basically a free meal plus free drinks, and a nice place to wait for an hour or so before the flight starts boarding.

      One lounge in Amsterdam warned that they may deny entry during the morning hours (when we were there) but I didn’t have any problem getting in.

      • Thanks for the info. We just used ours lots on our trip to Europe.

        Bummed that the one in Venice said it was open and when we got to the airport they had changed the policy to not welcome priority pass anymore.

        I love the lounges. So nice and reduces so much stress. Not sure that we really needed them on our long legs since they severed lots of food on the plane.

        One in Heathrow was amazing!

  • Hello! I’m self-employed and have increasingly portable work, but I often find post-vacation that I either want to move to where we’ve just *or* declutter as I’ve been so used to living in other peoples’ tidy spaces! I’m also motivated to tackle projects at home as I’ve been away from them so it all feels fresh.

    We went to Hawaii for a bit over two weeks this summer, and despite its expense I’d highly recommend it for your 2018 travels. Your family could visit every island (except the private one), and there’s lots of free hiking/swimming/snorkeling to be had. In Honolulu, there are public parks where you can bring a grill and BBQ your meal – in fact, lots of local folk do just that on weekends and even on weekday evenings – just like we did growing up in FL. Incredible natural beauty is everywhere, and for me, a chance to learn about Hawaiian culture through visiting family friends. As a tip, if you do go, you can often buy beach towels, snorkeling and beach gear at local thrift stores, where tourists shed what they cannot carry – and you can re-donate it if it’s still in good shape when you’re ready to leave.

    As an aside, I truly enjoy your blog due to its positivity and presenting financial independence as something that can be achieved on modest incomes and maintained without sacrificing fun and travel.

    • I’ve had Hawaii on my “list” for a while but it’s on the second tier honestly. Pretty far away from East Coast US but looks beautiful. Not sure how unique it will be versus your run of the mill Caribbean island/beach though (which are 2-4 hours away from here and we visit frequently on cruises).

  • Wow, sounds like an amazing adventure. Thanks for sharing!

    “it’ll be Monday morning, and you’ll be back in your office chair wading through a backlog of emails, surfing Root of Good,”

    I wanted to thank you for this reminder. It hurts!

  • Your openness and honesty about your finances and asset allocation make your blog priceless and one of my favorites! Thank you!

  • Very frugal trip I must say and great pics to go along with the memories. The net worth can only grow if you are in the game, and a 40K jump is awesome. Good luck with everything.

  • Almost a month without a post. Hmm. Justin? anyone? anyone? I’m all alone and scared.

    🙂

    I hope the trip ended well and regular updates return.

  • Hi Justin, we are waiting for a new post 🙂
    Please don’t let us wait for too long.

  • Hi Justin, it looks like you had a good time in Europe.
    I’m a native German living in the US for the last 5 years.
    I was born and attended colleague in Koblenz, so one of your last destinations.
    I also achieved financial independence but I was not as lightning fast as you.
    Have a nice weekend!
    Machinist

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