May 2017 Financial Update

May is all done, and it proved to be another great month for our household.  Our net worth climbed $23,000 to $1,828,000 (another all time record high).  Our income was huge at $9,149 while our expenses remained moderate at $1,829.

The kids are out of school in a few more days and we head out for our nine week summer vacation in Europe in less than a week!  Exciting, busy times for us.  Let’s check out how we did last month.

Income

Our investment income was $201 in May.  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.  The $201 is the interest from our roughly $125,000 investment in our money market account and bond fund.  In June we’ll be getting several thousand dollars in dividend income since it marks the end of the quarter.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, zoomed to $8,026.  This is much higher than normal and reflects two months of revenue from a major advertiser.  June and July will be puny months for blog income because I won’t be here to cash the checks.  August, however should be very nice.

My early retirement lifestyle consulting slowed down to $486 income.  That represents four hours of work.  As part of that time, I helped someone with the technical and creative aspects of their blog.

Great blue heron taking flight on our lake.

Great blue heron taking flight on our lake.

The $435 in Deposits includes cash back rebates from the Ebates.com and Mrrebates.com online shopping portals. 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!).  The Ebates payment was larger than usual due to referral bonuses from this blog.

may-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 May expenses:

may-2017-expenses

At $1,829 total spending for the month of May, we are well under our budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year).  Most of the monthly expenses went toward insurance, an expense that comes up every six to twelve months.

 

Insurance – $937:

$227 for six months of auto insurance for the two of us. $603 for one year of homeowner’s insurance. $108 for $1 million umbrella policy.  That homeowner’s policy came in handy when it came time to replace our roof!

 

Travel – $235:

Train tickets and bus tickets for Munich to Prague and Prague to Berlin.  Tickets to El Alhambra in Granada, Spain.  $1 online mail forwarding fee from the US Postal Service.

$95 annual fee for the Chase Ink credit card (which will score me 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points = $800-1,000+ of travel).

Free entertainment - I spent a day playing the solo tourist in Raleigh. State Capitol building.

Free entertainment – I spent a day playing the solo tourist in Raleigh. State Capitol building.

 

Healthcare/Medical – $188:

$111 for a dental visit. For the adults in the house, we pay cash for our dentist visits since we don’t have dental insurance.

$27 for lab work from my routine physical. Before insurance the labs were $400 but insurance negotiated the total down to $27 (which I had to pay in full since my deductible is $100).

In May, I pre-paid three months of health insurance at $16 per month so I wouldn’t have to worry about paying the bill while we are on the road in Europe.  We get a huge Advanced Premium Tax Credit courtesy of the Affordable Care Act, so we pay almost nothing for gold-plated health insurance.

The future of the Affordable Care Act is still in limbo.  Based on the last I’ve seen of the AHCA, the replacement for the ACA, we’ll have roughly the same kind of ACA coverage through 2019 with changes to the structure of the subsidy starting in 2020.  I haven’t heard a lot about the AHCA now that it’s in the Senate, so I don’t have any real news to share beyond what I mentioned in last month’s financial update (skip to the section on healthcare/medical expenses).

 

Groceries – $184:

This category was kind a shocker.  We usually spend $400-600 on groceries in an average month.  We are trying to “eat all the food in the fridge, freezer, and pantry” before leaving for the entire summer, so I guess we didn’t buy much.  I checked the Personal Capital data to make sure there’s no error and the individual shopping trips are certainly there.

However, the dollar amounts are tiny because we didn’t stock up on anything.  $30-40 at Aldi buys a trunk full of groceries that, along with food from our freezer and pantry, lets us eat pretty well for a week.

I’m sure we’ll spend a ton on groceries when we return from Europe.  We already started a shopping list that’s growing longer and longer.

We gave a friend a bunch of pho. She returned the favor with homemade Salvadorean tamales and dim sum dumplings.

We gave a friend a bunch of pho. She returned the favor with homemade Salvadorean tamales and dim sum dumplings.

 

Restaurants – $59:

We went out to eat twice. Once to the neighborhood Chinese restaurant and once to the neighborhood pizza place.  This is one area where the prices DO go up as the kids get older.  The oldest, now 12, pays adult prices at both of these restaurants whereas her two younger siblings still enjoy the kid’s menu pricing.  It’s only a buck or two extra, but it adds up once you stack tax and tip.

 

Home Maintenance – $50:

I bought a $50 gift card for Lowe’s Hardware from the grocery store to earn a $10 off coupon on groceries. I’ll be using the gift card to tackle a few projects around the house before we leave for Europe (time permitting).

 

Charity – $50:

Friend gets cancer – we kick in a few bucks through her GoFundMe.  Sounds like the operation was a huge success and recovery is going well.

Helping kick cancer's ass.

Helping kick cancer’s ass.

 

Cable (Internet) – $44:

Monthly internet bill with Spectrum (formerly Time Warner). We get 100 mbit download and 5 mbit upload.  Over the summer while we will be gone, we’re cancelling the service and hopefully we can restart service at the same price or even lower.  I’m investigating their “low income” pricing that offers 30 mbit service for $15 per month but not sure how many hoops we’ll have to jump through to land that deal.  I know we can’t have had service in the past 30 days before signing up, so our departure for over two months works out perfectly.

 

Gas – $37:

One tank of gas for the van.  It’s still mostly full almost a week into June.  Won’t have to refill the van till September probably!

Drove out to the City's Nature Preserve for some canoeing.

Drove out to the City’s Nature Preserve for some canoeing.

 

Miscellaneous – $40:

Not shown on the expense summary graphic are:

  • quarterly service fees of $15 (Mrs. RoG’s 401k – has access to institutional class index funds)
  • Gifts $10 – photos for end of year gifts for our kids’ friends
  • Telephone $10 – put $10 on Google Voice for international phone calls. I had to call Ticketmaster Spain to buy super popular El Alhambra tickets two months ahead of our visit and the website won’t take US credit cards online.  I can refund any unused funds within one year.
  • Education $5 – End of school festival for the middle school student
  • Entertainment $1 – Computer games from Humble Bundle
Check out this fat snapping turtle. Hanging out in our backyard.

Check out this fat snapping turtle hanging out in our backyard.

Maybe he was smelling the flowers.

Maybe he was smelling the flowers.

 

Utilities – $0 (and travel hacking advice!):

You may notice there is no line item for utility bills.  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.  And to make sure we didn’t have to mess with any bills while on our summer travels.

I signed up for:

  • Mr. Root of Good Chase Sapphire Reserve card – 100,000 Ultimate Reward points
  • Mrs. Root of Good Chase Sapphire Reserve card – 100,000 Ultimate Reward points
  • Mr. Root of Good Chase Ink Business Preferred card – 80,000 Ultimate Reward points
  • Mrs. Root of Good Chase Ink Business Preferred card – 80,000 Ultimate Reward points

By June or July we’ll have 360,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points which we can redeem for $4,800 worth of travel, transfer as 360,000 airline miles or hotel points, or cut ourselves a check for $3,600 cash.  Not a bad haul for a few credit cards.

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.

Problems with mice or snakes? Not with this hungry red shouldered hawk hanging out on our fence.

Problems with mice or snakes? Not with this hungry red shouldered hawk hanging out on our fence (in the rain).

 

Year to Date Living Expenses for 2017

may-2017-expenses-ytd

Through the end of May we’ve only spent $11,687.  That’s $5,000 below our annual spending target of $16,667 budgeted for the first five months of the year.  So far so good!

The two remaining big cost items for 2017 are the roof replacement and our trip to Europe.  Our new roof is installed!  I still have a few punch list items (which are minimal) and haven’t paid for the roof yet, but it looks like we’ll end up paying $950 out of pocket after factoring in what the insurance paid us for replacement of the roof.  That’s a lot better than the $4,000 to $8,000 I was anticipating before I found out our roof was a total loss due to wind and hail damage.  And in the process of installing the new roof, we added ridge vents and upgraded the gutters.

We’ve already booked and paid for roughly $6,000 out of our $10,000 total budget for our nine week Europe trip this summer.  The remaining $4,000 of vacation spending will be concentrated in June through August while we are overseas.  The good news is we won’t be spending much to maintain our home or car here in Raleigh while we’re traveling, so our monthly expenses probably won’t exceed $2,000 to $3,000.

In other words, we should still be under budget by around $4,000 to $5,000 by the end of summer unless something unexpected (and expensive) pops up during the summer.

Work in progress

Work in progress

Final product. Minus the 2nd story gutters that were installed in June.

Final product. Minus the 2nd story gutters that were installed in June.

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2017:

 

Net Worth: $1,828,000 (+$23,000)

Wow, another huge gain in net worth.  That makes five out of five months in 2017 with strong net worth increases.  Year to date we’re up $148,000 (which is enough to buy a modest house around here).

At some point we’ll hit a soft spot in the economy and the back to back to back net worth gains will invert themselves into losses.  Maybe this month, maybe next month, maybe next year, or maybe even further out.  I’m pretty horrible at timing the market so I won’t guess when this current bull market will turn the other way.
may-2017-net-worth

As I mentioned last month, I was considering moving another $25,000 from equities to bonds.  I carried through on that plan in mid-May, thereby bringing our cash and bond total to $125,000.  This is enough to cover three to four years of living expenses when you add in the taxable dividends we’ll receive over that time period.  The average recession lasts a year or two, so that should be plenty of stable, liquid assets to support us during the next downtown in the markets.  I might move another $25,000 to bonds if the market keeps on going up.

Last month I shared how our early retirement finances turned out way better than we expected – like a half million dollars better!  We haven’t made any huge changes to our lifestyle as the net worth figure crept up.  It’s mostly small changes in spending.  I could have saved some money on the roof if I did a few of the simple parts myself.  But why bother since we can afford to outsource it?  We saw a friend in need and made a small charitable contribution to help out.  On our Europe trip, we’ll be spending more freely than we have on past trips.

These are all relatively modest spending increases, and are purely discretionary.  Should we find ourselves suddenly $500,000 to $750,000 poorer (not impossible with a 90%+ stock asset allocation), we could minimize these type of expenses to stretch our cash stockpile as long as possible.  However, if we continue growing wealthier long term (which is the more likely outcome), then we’ll continue to look for small opportunities to increase our spending where it brings value, comfort, and convenience.

Our youngest graduated preschool!

Our youngest graduated preschool!

That’s it for this month’s installment of “what we made / what we spent”.  We’ll be off to Europe in less than a week and hopefully sharing some pictures throughout our summer trip.  Once we return in mid-August, it’ll be a whirlwind of reconnecting with family and friends, hosting a birthday party/sleepover for our daughter, and attending back to school orientations.  During September, our daily lifestyle will morph quite a bit since our youngest child is entering kindergarten.  It’ll be interesting to see how our interests and activities change once we have seven hours of kid-free time five days per week!

 

 

Summer is almost here!  Any fun plans?  Any big money plans now that your investments have most likely grown a lot?  

 

 

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88 comments

  • My wife is pregnant with our 2nd kiddo. So as much as we were hoping to go to Iceland this summer and drive Ring Road, we’ll have to wait another year or two until they are both older. So it looks like we’ll probably drive down to OBX and relax by the beach for a week and enjoy decompressing.

    With that said I am definitely going to enjoy seeing the pictures in Europe. I had a blast when I was there and can’t wait to see all that you have to share 🙂

    • Congrats on the baby! The Outer Banks is a fair trade off for Europe. 🙂 My wife and I and our family from Illinois just got back from Emerald Isle this past weekend. It is definitely a beautiful area!

    • Nothing wrong with the outer banks. It’s kind of sad that we haven’t been to the NC beaches for the week long stays we used to do because we’re so busy with other vacations further away. Check out off-season rates in September and early Oct too – great deals and water is still warm, plus sun won’t melt you in 10 minutes like middle of July 🙂

  • Have a great time on the Europe trip! I just wrapped up a great spring work season, so we will be putting an extra roughly $9K on the house next month. I recently did a bit of re-balancing to put more money in international as US stocks have seen quite the run up in valuation and international stocks have lagged behind. I love that picture of the Heron! great job on the photography.

  • Your pictures always show how living a more frugal lifestyle is still so rich in so many ways. It’s amazing to see what you do for so little money – and how happy everyone is. Being able to spend more freely on vacation is wonderful too and you won’t come home to big credit card bills and worry – like so many others. I need to consider the Ink Business card. We were holding out (due to Chase 5/24) to get another round of Southwest Cards this winter to earn a Companion Pass in 2018. But we have almost 400,000 UR points now – and when I early retire at the end of this month, we can choose SW flights on days with lower point requirements. It might make more sense to get the Ink now. We are doing some repairs/fixes at our house prepping to sell it – and at the house we’re moving into (a huge remodel), so we have plenty of expenses to hit minimum spend.
    Have a wonderful summer! Looking forward to reading about it and seeing some great pics!

    • I was going to hold off on the second Chase Ink application till we got back, then realized I can charge our roof replacement to the credit card which will complete the spending on one card completely and still have a little spending on the second card.

      Not sure what I would do in your position, but those Chase UR pts will go a long way at Southwest for sure. Once your schedule opens up you can pick the cheapest day of the month to travel! I’ve done that in the past and found it’s sometimes cheaper overall to extend your stay by a day or two, save on the plane tix and use part of the savings to pay for a hotel for an extra 1-2 nights. Did exactly that in Cancun and got paid to stay an extra day in paradise (though in hindsight, that extra day was when I got food poisoning…).

  • I’m so happy for your increased net worth and the low living expenses for May! Your food expenses are impressive! I’m trying to finish everything we have in the pantry and fridge before Mr. FAF comes back in a week.

    We are traveling to New York and another close city soon. I’m really looking forward to it. 3 weeks in Europe sounds amazing! I hope to hear more about it. Enjoy the start of the summer! =)

  • Outstanding work on the grocery bill. We’re trying to eat down the fridge and freezer goods, too, but we still buy plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, milk, and eggs. Buying at Aldi and Costco keep those costs reasonable.

    Have an AWESOME trip — I’ll be excited to read your followup posts on the amazing extended vacation you so meticulously lined up.

    Cheers!
    -PoF

    • “we still buy plenty of fresh fruits, veggies, milk, and eggs” – that’s pretty much what’s filled our grocery cart the past month 🙂 I’m a sucker for a good deal so it’s hard to see stuff 50-75% off that we normally would buy, but I know it’ll go bad before we get back home (and would go bad faster in our house with the AC set way high, like 89 degrees.

  • I’m excited to hear all about your summer Europe adventures. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your travel hacking deets, too; I’ve been trying to plan out our eventual trip to Belgium and that helps.

  • Sir, your spending is awesome, and the grocery budget is something else, way to go. Mrs. FR and I have started a new plan that will help us (I hope) to reduce our grocery bill and we’ve made a new rule in our household – any distance less than 5 miles – we ride a bicycle.

    Have a wonderful trip in Europe, I hope you’ll like it.

  • Great month! I actually just had the realization myself that I should start applying for some business cards for travel hacking. I’ve hit up many of the big personal cc’s for hacking already (as has my wife), so what next other than the Ink Preferred card and others. We typically use the points to travel home to see family and for weddings, etc., but I’m already starting to look forward to our next big family trip (maybe leaving the kids with grandparents). Our newborn is only two months, so maybe next year we’ll go somewhere out of the country ourselves to celebrate our 10 yr anniversary! Something to look forward to…although still a ways away 🙂

  • I am always amazed at your ability to keep expenses low. Your trip to Europe should be fantastic and provide some great food pics, looking forward to that. Have a great time!

  • Awesome that insurance paid for most of the roof replacement. My car’s windshield had a crack and at first I didn’t realize that it was covered by insurance. Fortunately it was and I saved a couple hundred bucks. Like you, I was paying like $34 for Time Warner cable but Spectrum has increased the price. I’m not sure the $15 package would have enough speed if you stream shows on Netflix and stuff. And so true about food costs, my boys are only almost 4 and almost 1…and I can definitely already see that we’ll have to increase that budget at some point!

    • I’ve read that 1080p from Netflix uses 5 mbit but I’ve seen it use even less when I monitored it at the router level. So we could theoretically stream 4x on netflix (the max number of seats on that license) and still surf the web or make phone calls on VOIP. And we had 30 mbit service forever and it worked just fine, so I think it’ll work. I doubt we ever come close to using the 100 mbit service we’re paying for now, it’s just that they offer no lower tier.

      • We have a family of 4 and use Netflix and have gotten by with 12mbit download and never had any problems. Of course my kids are young and don’t use the internet much themselves yet. Occasionally we would stream 2x netflix at once (and still never had any problems).

        • That makes sense with what I read about the bandwidth needs of Netflix. 12 mbit should be fine to provide 2x streams of 1080p video at long as it’s a pretty consistent 12 mbit (though it could drop lower occasionally and still not interrupt the experience given that Netflix buffers some video locally to account for temporary drops or interruption in bandwidth). And you’ll probably notice a slight degradation in quality if you are maxing your bandwidth (the streams will drop to 720p, for example).

  • Amazing! You’re FIRE AND you have an 80% savings rate! Based on that you’ll be able to FIRE again in just 5.5 years 🙂

    Seriously though, nice work, it’s amazing that you’re able to make enough money in FIRE to cover your expenses and save money.

  • Yes bigger kids eat more (says the momma of a 5 foot , 9 inch and 160lb boy)

  • I can’t decide what is more impressive: that grocery bill or that blog income. Well done on both counts! We’ve completed spend on one Ink – given that we just have my blog and that barely brings in any income, I’m not sure we can go for a second. Maybe we’ll hit up the MileagePlus United next.

  • Holy smokes…$187 in groceries…your fridge was really full !
    How the hell you get so much blog income. Do you provide consulting services to teach me how to get this same income on my blog?

    • I’ve done some consulting – check out the “Early Retirement consulting” link. Same rates (not cheap!).

      Yes, the fridge and pantry were full so that helped a lot as we weren’t buying much beyond fruits, vegetables, milk and eggs.

      • The only downside to doing so well with your blog is you may move up on the income ladder and lose some of the insurance subsidies.

        As I get closer to FIRE, looking to ensure that I am able to manipulate income to (hopefully) keep insurance costs low

        Have a great trip to Europe.

        • We have a lot of tools to keep the blog income to manageable levels. I can put over $20,000 into a deductible traditional solo 401k plus $11000 into trad. IRAs. I could probably pay Mrs. RoG something and she could set up a solo 401k too. So even with a $100k blog income I could probably shelter more than half that and hit an AGI low enough to keep my near zero cost health insurance (with high cost sharing subsidies too!).

          • Question- I know the ACA has a very complicated strategy for determining income for subsidies as opposed to just using MAGI. Do 401k and IRA contributions count towards lowering income for ACA subsidies?

            Thanks! Great work!

  • Really impressive blog income, and impressive spending. Thanks for sharing all the details, it’s great to see how well the first years of FIRE are working out for you!

  • That’s a superb blog income and a great month in general. Also such an impressive saving rate! Enjoy your well deserved Eurotrip! 🙂

  • I was one of the ebates sign ups this spring! I just got my $10 plus $1.02 for a car rental booking that I had to do anyway. I don’t shop much online, but I can see using ebates for booking some of my travel in the future. Thanks for teaching about all these get little money saving tips. I consider myself pretty frugal, but I can always learn more from others.

    I like the new roof. We got one a couple of years ago from a series of hail storms hitting our area. We only had $250 in out of pocket expenses. We got the gutters and vent covers replaced as well. They even gave us a new shed roof as well.

    • Nice job on the roof! We went ahead and replaced the shed and porch roof at the same time even though they were only 11-12 years old. Insurance company said they were totaled too, and gave us the money for it. I could have replaced those myself but didn’t feel like spending a few days doing it (compared to a few hours for the pro roofers with pro equipment 🙂 ).

  • Looking forward to the Europe trip updates! That is great low spending on groceries there. It when the creative cooking starts in eating down the kitchen pantry/fridge. but those are some of my favorite meals when I starting throwing stuff together.

    Hey, your internet price is cheaper than mine ($65) and we have the same service. wonder if its like department stores – pricing per location/zone.

    • Yes, we’re cooking up some good stuff. Cleaning out the back of the fridge and pantry – use it up or plan on tossing it out, right?

      Our rate was $65 full price but I negotiated it down. But I’m sure it’s regional since we have ATT and Google Fiber in the same market competing with different plans and packages (including a decently fast $40/month package from ATT).

  • Great month! Is it weird to feel soothed reading your expense report? It’s unbelievable how your family spend so little compare to the average family that has storage fees for this and cable on that and that etc.

    I like the comment above that says you’ll hit FIRE again in a few years hahahahaha.

  • Joe Shlabotnik

    Here’s hoping you can hit the MULTImillionaire level before that downturn

    • I didn’t think we would be this close, but here we are! Another $150k and we’ll hit the big 2.0 mark. Crazy times since we were closer to $1 million just 4 years ago.

  • Congrats on another great month. The only comment I have is on the two Ink credit cards. As my wife has started up her tiny “swim lessons” business, I gave her a chase referral link for the Ink card. This will gross us an extra 20,000 chase points, in addition to the 80,000 she will get once the minimum spend is met. Even without the temporary incentive extra points I think the normal chase referral is 10,000 chase points. Please tell me you sent her the referral link or vice versa?

    Other than that, have a great trip. My ER doesn’t start until 7/6, but I am looking forward to it.

  • Wow, what a great month RoG! Clearing $9k in monthly income is pretty amazing for a guy who doesn’t work a traditional “job”.

    I’m doing pretty good, but most of our income comes from dividends, not blog income.

    Enjoy your family European trip! Do you typically have someone house sit when you’re away that long?

    Vacant houses have a tendency to either get vandalized or burglarized given enough time…

    • No full time house sitter but we have nice neighbors on either side and a few up and down the street that keep a good watch. And someone will drive our van occasionally to keep everything running. I’m planning a security upgrade this week if I have time too 🙂 In addition we have some other active and passive theft deterrence going on. And not too much cool stuff to steal anyway 🙂

  • Another fantastic month! I enjoy reading your updates, it gets me so motivated to continue to improve and tighten up in areas. As The One in Debt mentioned I have the same internet provide and pay $60/month. I will have to give them a call and see what they can do for me.

    Enjoy your vacation and I look forward to reading all about it.

  • I can only imagine how much food you got on stock.. It’s awesome how you keep those expenses so low.

    We already had our fun travel this year, so will only take some weekends of to Antwerp and staying in the home country. Have fun on your Europe trip!

  • So much for running out of money in retirement right? Do you know any early retiree who’s failed retirement yet? Like actually ran out of money and had to go back to work, not got bored and went back to work. Looks like you’ve proved all the haters wrong, once again 😉

    “We’ll be off to Europe in less than a week..” YAYYYY!!! Guess I’ll be seeing you in 2 months!

    • I know of one guy on the Early Retirement forums that basically retired with nowhere near enough money AND had a crazy “buy options and get rich off a 12% return” investment strategy. If you can call something so dumb-headed a strategy. I don’t know that he went completely broke, but last I saw, he’s back to work for at least 4 years to top off the portfolio and get closer to social security.

      But for those retiring with a decent size nest egg and pulling around 4%? Haven’t heard of any that actually went broke. Maybe if we see another 2007-2009 Great Recession style decline we’ll have more examples of this.

      Of course there are probably plenty of marginal cases where people retire on not quite enough, and the sequence of returns doesn’t make them wealthy. Eventually they get tired of scrimping and saving and are forced to go back to work (or ramp up a side hustle hard core). I can’t think of any because they rarely explicitly say “yeah, we basically didn’t have enough money so life was sucky. We had to go back to work”.

      As for Europe, yes! It’s coming up so fast now. We’re all celebrating our “last of…” milestones. Last time mowing the grass. Last gallon of milk. Last bunch of bananas we’ll buy. Kids have 2 days of school left (and only 1 full day staying at our house given their busy weekend plans with family and friends). Hope our plans work out and we connect in Berlin in a couple months! I’ll save some wurst and bier for you.

    • Unlikely during this giant bull market. Maybe when the market goes bearish.

  • As always, thank you for posting your monthly financial health- it’s enjoyable to know that there’s other families doing the same as we are.

    I’m surprised, though, that you were able to get approved for 4 Chase cards at once with the 5/24 Chase rule.

    Were you approved for all 4?

    It matters not if they were biz or personal cards as along as your SSN is attached to the app.

    • We were just under 5/24 as we applied for these cards. And it’s 2 for me, 2 for Mrs. RoG. So right now we’re both back to 5/24 I believe. Or maybe 4/24 for one of us. I’ll have to check the spreadsheet.

  • Glad to see you got the roof done and gutters too! Nice to have the insurance finally pay for something when you rarely use it but keep paying those premiums year after year. I got mine done 2 years ago. The gains in the market have really been great. Even though I was laid-off over a year ago, my portfolio has really surged since then, so I dont feel as bad about it 🙂 I still have a side-hustle gig I’ve done for years so that helps too without making a big time commitment. Not many food pics in this update but more critter pics so we’ll let it go this time 😉

    • Loving the new roof. I think the new ridge vents make a huge difference in the upstairs comfort level. It used to get really hot upstairs but now it’s not at all. However summer isn’t quite here yet (it’s chilly at the moment and our windows are raised!! Weird June weather here in North Carolina).

      Food pics – I know! Didn’t see as many cool pics in our May photo folder. I skipped the monthly pho pictures (though we did have pho twice I believe). Went with the animal pics instead. 🙂

  • Yum! I like tamale wrapped in banana leaves much more than the corn husk. Have a great time on your European vacation. It sounds like the perfect time to go. Great job with the credit card bonus hack. We’re not very good on that front. Mrs. RB40 hates signing up for new cards.

    • I think I like tamales wrapped in banana leaves too. Gives it more flavor than the corn husk and seems to hold the moisture in better. When we make homemade tamales we use the banana leaves because they are cheaper and easier to work with.

  • You’ve become a regular stop on my reading log, Justin. Love hearing about your successes!

    Your home looks great! Funny how staying in a “starter home” can help you become a millionaire.

    • I’m pretty happy with the “starter home”. 🙂 Nice cheap living in a laid back part of town that’s convenient to everything. And no HOA telling us our grass is a half inch over the permissible height, or that we need to pressure wash our siding or driveway.

  • Love Mrs. RoG pictures. Looking forward to her European pictures.
    Nice to know your insurance is actually working for you.

    • “Nice to know your insurance is actually working for you.”

      That’s what an insurance agent friend told me – he was surprised the insurance helped us out as much as they did. No complaints here! And the insurance itself is very affordable (Farm Bureau). This agent also told me we’re in luck when the kids start driving as Farm Bureau doesn’t tend to jack up rates really high when young teens come on the policy. Not holding my breath but maybe it’ll be reasonable.

  • Solid month again mate! Pretty roof too, should last you for a long while.
    At $1800 per month in expenses, you are doing amazingly well actually. Even your YTD monthly average is pretty good. Guess it will go up quite a bit in the coming months when you start to travel. Might still even make you yearly expense target 🙂

  • Do you have anyone “maintain” your yard while y’all are gone for so long?

    Congrats on another great month! I’m looking forward to your European adventure stories, but am far more intrigued what your life will look like with all three children in school all day. I’m sure the adventures will change somewhat, but still be wonderful.

    • A teenager from up the street is going to mow for $20 per mow. If that falls through I’ll probably get my neighbor to have her guy do my yard too and she pays $45.

  • Fro the Spectrum low rate you have to be on either of these 3 programs – The National School Lunch Program (NSLP); free or reduced cost lunch, The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the NSLP or
    Supplemental Security Income (SSI) ( ≥ age 65 only). Since I home school and retired at 40 – I have none of these programs 🙁 Great blog – amazed at 8k from your blog. I need to clean mine up!

  • Eager to see how these numbers will look like in a strong bear market. In a bull market of course it’s only joy !

  • Man you guys continue to spend so little money, Awesome job man.

    We did the Sapphire card for my wife, statement credit paid for about half of our spendy Spring break trip to Disney and the Carolina’s 🙂

    Still have a 4 day beach weekend and a trip to Maine for a wedding to go this Summer, should be fun. My wife is a teacher so Summer is also a fun time for her to unwind with the kiddos and hit the neighborhood (free) pools while I pick up the slack on some extra working.

    Have a BLAST in Europe, like others i’ll enjoy reading the updates!

    • I love that Sapphire travel credit. I kept buying all these family train tickets in Europe and they were all FREE! 🙂 Of course it was just offsetting the $450 annual fee, but it was neat watching these charges go through and get reimbursed immediately.

  • Nice birds…

  • Another great month! And a good outcome on the roof. I too needed a roof and insurance was also involved. I chose a different path and decided to make it a DIY Project. My quotes from contractors were about 2 to 2.5 times yours. Dear Brother and I installed the GAF roofing system which provides a 50 year/lifetime warranty. It was an “interesting” project and I lost about 15 pounds. And like you our insurance company could not have been kinder. Waiting for the invoice from the dumpster to submit the final bills to the insurance company for final payment. A side note I chose to forgo the “ridge vent” which seems to be the “rage” here. After doing the numbers it would seem my 3 gable vents and whole house fan are more than adequate. I also worry that these ridge vent systems would come back to haunt in the winter with higher heat bills with increased ventilation.

    • I’ll be interested to see if there’s a long term energy savings from the ridge vents. I also had my AC serviced so that will confound any “experimental” evidence I’ll get from this summer (and we’re gone for most of summer so AC is set at 89 right now).

      I’ll gladly take the increased energy loss in winter since we heat with gas and it’s roughly 5-6x cheaper to heat than it is to cool (gas = cheaper than electricity and it’s closer to 100% efficient). And our winters are shorter than our summers 🙂

  • Random question- are you going to adjust your withdrawal amount/spending limit (not your withdrawal rate) for inflation, and if so, how often? And by how much?

    • We’re budgeting $40,000 per year right now and that’s what we budgeted for 2016 also. I considered an inflation adjustment but decided not to. Mostly because we aren’t spending it all. 🙂 In reality we should be adding $500-800 to the budget to account for inflation, and I did add an inflation adjustment in 2015 back when our 2014 budget was only $32,000. That was because $32,000 was a lot closer to “bare bones” than the $40,000 budget is.

      That’s just a target or estimate and not a strict limit on how much we’ll spend. I don’t mind going over that amount because we’re WAY below spending 3-4% of our current portfolio even before considering the income streams I have from the blog (that mostly cover our $35-40k/yr living expenses).

      So bottom line, we’ll spend a little more as inflation goes up, and possibly bump the budget up to account for increased costs in specific areas. Our electricity and water, for example, are going up at rates much higher than inflation (rates go up, fees get tacked on, kids getting older and probably consuming more). And in general, I expect our baseline costs to increase over the next 6 years as our kids enter the teen years. They’re already eating as much as the adults in some cases (for example), and I never see kid discounts at restaurants for our 12 year old.

  • Bon Voyage

    Have a great trip.

    Dose your business have to actually make a profit to be able to get a business card?

    • No profit required to get a business card. I think I’ve put $500 or $0 as profit before and still got a card. It could also be an “intended profit” 🙂 The credit card companies don’t audit you after the fact.

      • For the spend on the business card did you put normal personal spending on it? Or does it have to be business spending?

        • Business and normal spending. I don’t think the biz card’s T+C’s prohibit non-business spending and even if they do, I’ve never heard of them actually enforcing it (by shutting down your account).

  • That’s awesome progress on the net worth!

    Where in Europe are you guys headed? Have a great trip!

  • I’m so amazed! I just can’t seem to get my expenses this low. The car always seems to need an oil change, or the stove breaks, or the furnace needs replacing. More power to you for such great work!

    Also, damn your groceries are cheap!

    • We have a lot of those maintenance issues around the house and with the car, but I’m somewhat handy and have time to research inexpensive contractors (if I can’t DIY). The car rarely needs maintenance since we don’t drive a lot. Though I’m due for an oil change and 120k mile spark plug replacement and don’t want to DIY that. Of course we aren’t using the van for the next 2 months since we’re gone on vacation. 🙂

  • I’ve really gotta work on optimizing my credit card purchases – right out of college I capitalized on some awesome deals with miles/hotels…think my best one was a Hyatt card which gave me two free nights at any hotel in the world. I treated my parents and my brother to a night at the Park Hyatt in Tokyo and we ate at the New York Grill – all for spending something like $1500 in 3 months…an absolute steal!

  • Awesome month, nice work! And good job finishing the food in the fridge too. That grocery bill…or I guess lack of is a nice offset because of the travel expenses.

  • Looking forward for June’s update as well as 1st semester overall

  • Where is June’s update RoG? I’m anxious

  • Crazy to see those MoM net worth gains! Congrats on the preschool grad and enjoy your trip Justin!

  • Great post. Love following your journey.

  • Hello Justin, I like the way you live your life.
    For two years I try to do the same and my target is retired withing next 8 years.
    Do you search for any article writer at your blog? I would like to become member.

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