September 2021 Early Retirement Update – Back to Traveling Edition

Welcome back to a slightly belated monthly update post! Fall is in full swing here in North Carolina and I’m loving it. It’s the best time of year here. I’ve spent a lot of time enjoying the cooler mornings by sitting on the back porch drinking coffee and reading while watching the backyard wildlife. 

Between the porch-sitting, the occasional bike ride in the woods, and the Netflix-watching, my schedule is pretty full these days. 

During September, we have been busy planning and booking a lot of travel for 2022. That takes up a lot of time too. Hopefully these travel plans work out better than they did in 2020! 

Financially, last month was a mixed bag. Net worth dropped by $38,000 to end the month at $2,687,000. Income during the month totaled $10,061, which was much higher than our $4,481 spending during the month. 

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Colorado: Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Ouray, and Mesa Verde – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 3)

After leaving Frisco, Colorado in Part 2 of our Great USA Road Trip, we drove several hours to Montrose, Colorado where we spent two nights. While there, we visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I thought this canyon was more impressive than the Grand Canyon in Arizona, however this park is the least popular National Park in all of Colorado! 

On our travel day between Montrose, Colorado and Cortez, Colorado, we went on two hikes in Ouray, Colorado. The first was to Cascade Falls where I got to climb behind the waterfall! After that, we crossed to the other side of Ouray and visited the Box Canyon Park where we hiked first to the base of the waterfall inside the canyon and then to the top of the falls about 200 feet up! 

Continuing our drive south, we traveled along the Million Dollar Highway, an incredibly scenic and beautiful mountain road that ends in Durango, Colorado. From Durango, we traveled west to Cortez where we spent the night. 

The next morning, we backtracked a few minutes and spent the day touring the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. After a tiring day in Mesa Verde, we spent our second night in Cortez before heading north and west toward Utah the next day.

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Colorado: Denver, Rocky Mountain National Park, Frisco – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 2)

Denver marked the start of our “real” summer vacation. We visited the Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside Denver. 

After leaving Denver, we headed up the mountains into the Rocky Mountain National Park. Inside the park, we hiked to Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake. We couldn’t quite make it all the way up the mountainside to Emerald Lake due to altitude sickness and fatigue. In the late afternoon, we drove through the Rocky Mountain National Park along the Trail Ridge Road. 

We spent the night after Rocky Mountain National Park in Grand Lake, Colorado. Then we drove two hours to our next lodging in Frisco, Colorado where we spent three days mostly relaxing. The highlight of our stay in Frisco was a stroll through the scenic downtown and a visit to the Frisco Historic Park and Museum. 

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North Carolina to Kansas – Cross Country USA Road Trip (Part 1)

When planning our big summer road trip in the Western United States, we considered flying straight to Denver and starting our adventures there in the rocky Mountains. Or should we drive across the Midwest and stop to see whatever we can along the way?

We chose the latter route. Our family took a few extra days to explore parts of the country that we might not necessarily visit as destinations in and of themselves.

We spent three days driving across the country to Topeka, Kansas. Along the way, we stopped for sightseeing in Charleston, West Virginia and St. Louis. We also got some great barbeque in Kansas City! 

While in St. Louis, we discovered a crack in the windshield. I managed to repair our cracked windshield without messing up our remaining travel schedule.

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August 2021 Early Retirement Update – Back to School (and College!) Edition

How is it September already? Summer break is over and all our kids have been back in school for a couple of weeks now. We are more than two thirds of the way through 2021 already! Where did all the time go?

The biggest news of the month is that our oldest kid is officially a college student. The college expenses have started on a very small scale with textbook purchases (read on to find out more details!). It’s strange to have the kids back in school after the past eighteen months of virtual schooling at home. So far so good – everyone is staying healthy! 

We’re settling back in to home after our long summer trip. And once again getting used to the “new” school year routine. The weather finally started cooling off in the past week so we’ve been able to spend more time outside, which is a nice relief! 

Financially, last month was great for us. Net worth popped up by $33,000 to end the month at $2,725,000. Income during the month totaled $2,587, which was slightly higher than our $2,091 spending during the month. 

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July 2021 Early Retirement Update – Back Home in Raleigh!

Welcome back to Root of Good! We arrived in Raleigh two weeks ago after spending most of the summer driving cross country for our road trip. I can’t believe summer is almost over! One of our kids starts college half time in one week and all three will commence regular classes in two weeks. When they said “time flies when you’re having fun”, they didn’t lie! 

We’ve spent the past two weeks getting situated in Raleigh and relaxing after a busy but fun summer vacation. So far it looks like all the kids will be attending class in person this fall. For us adults, that means we will have a lot more free time between the hours of 9 am and 2:30 pm. This will be quite a schedule adjustment compared to the past 18 months of the kids being here almost all day every day. 

Financially, last month was pretty decent but not overwhelmingly positive. For the second month in a row, our stock investments went down very slightly. Net worth dipped by $9,000 to end the month at $2,692,000. Income during the month totaled $2,888, which was slightly higher than our $2,128 spending during the month.

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June 2021 Early Retirement Update – USA Road Trip Edition

Here we are turning the page on our calendar to July. We’ve spent most of the last month traveling across the USA from North Carolina to California. As this post goes live, we’ll be waking up not too far from the Pacific Ocean. Soon we will turn back east and head toward home during the month of July. So far, so good, but there were a few hiccups along the way (read on for more details). 

We just finished a one week stay in Las Vegas where we were finally able to relax and sleep late for several days straight. Such a nice break after being on the move for several weeks in a row. The next segment of our trip takes us through California where wildfires are a big concern right now. This is a new risk to us, so I guess we are a little anxious that the wildfires interrupt our plans. 

Financially, we had a good month. Our stock investments went down very slightly but overall June didn’t have a lot of volatility. Net worth dipped by $12,000 to end the month at $2,701,000. Income during the month totaled $10,250, which was significantly higher than our $2,447 spending during the month. 

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May 2021 Early Retirement Update

It was another busy month here in the Root of Good household. We have been busy with final preparations for our seven week road trip across the USA. I think we are ready to go. Two of our kids are completely done with school for the year. Our third kid will be logging into class from the road for a few days (if the cell signal holds up!)

This May brought us the best North Carolina weather I can remember in a long time. Very mild days, with some chilly temps mixed in. We got to enjoy the outdoors in comfort! The humidity just showed up in the past couple of days, so that’s a sign it’s time for us to head out of town for the summer. 

Before we hit the road, here is a look at our finances over the past month. Net worth continued its upward climb with a $46,000 increase in May. Our net worth ended the month at $2,713,000. Income during the month totaled $2,290, which was slightly lower than our $2,418 spending during the month. 

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April 2021 Early Retirement Update

How does every month fly by so fast? Is it really May already?! I’m going to hit the pause button for a minute and reflect on the last month. 

It was a very busy month for us. The kids had spring break in early April with lots of fun times with their friends. Then we enjoyed a relatively normal Easter family gathering this year since almost everyone is vaccinated now. We closed out the month with a birthday party for our son. 

Nice weather means more time outdoors enjoying this fine spring weather. The pollen finally abated toward the end of the month too.

Right now, we’re busy planning the final details of our big summer road trip. It’ll be exciting to hit the road once again after over a year of being (mostly) stuck at home! 

Our finances had a good time last month, too. Our net worth went up $19,000 to end the month at $2,667,000. Income during the month totaled $4,789, which was roughly double the $2,450 we spent during the month.

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March 2021 Early Retirement Update

Well folks, here we are in April. It’s no longer winter but it’s not quite summer yet. Maybe we’ll enjoy a little bit of spring before the heat sets in? Right now we’re suffering through the horrible intermediate phase of “pollen season” here in North Carolina. It lasts a week or two.

Everything is covered in a thick layer of yellow pollen. It billows through the air in thick clouds, turning the sky green. I’m just glad I can wear a mask outside and not look ridiculous any longer! The main consolation is that it will rain eventually and wash all the pollen away.

Our kids just enjoyed almost two weeks off school for spring break. We didn’t go anywhere this year. However we are ramping up our big summer travel plans. So far it’s looking like we’ll take six or seven weeks to make a tour across the USA all the way to California in the west, Montana in the north, and then head back home. I’m keeping reservations mostly refundable at this point since 2020 taught us that flexibility is very important. 

The good times keep on rolling. March was another great month for our finances. Net worth went up $68,000 to end the month at $2,648,000. Income during the month totaled $16,183, which exceeded our paltry spending of $1,483 by a factor of ten!

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