April 2023 Early Retirement Update – Party Edition

Welcome back to another monthly update from Root of Good. We had another busy month in April here at home in Raleigh. Between hosting Easter and a birthday party at our house, and a few appliances breaking, we were glad to be early retired. No time for work! 

As this post goes live, we have less than a month until we take off for our two month summer vacation in Argentina and Brazil. All the big details are booked but we still have to research things to do in the areas we are visiting. On top of all the vacation excitement, our middle child graduates high school the day before we hop on the plane to South America! My guess is that this coming month will also be rather busy for us.

April was a good month for our finances. Our net worth climbed slightly by $48,000 to end April at $2,761,000. Our income totaled $2,062, while our spending was lower at $1,566 for the entire month of April. 

Let’s jump into the details from last month.




Investment income totaled $388 in April. Our equity index funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December. As a result, we had a small amount of investment income last month. Here’s more on our dividend investments.

Blog income totaled $1,031 for the month. Included in this total is a double payment from one advertiser that covers two months of earnings. As a result, next month’s blog income will be slightly lower than normal.

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $339 in April. That amount represents two hours of consulting during April. Thank goodness my consulting business was slow because we were busy enough with other things going on last month!

Tradeline sales income totaled $125 in April. Overall, my tradeline income has slowed down in recent months. I ramped up my tradeline sales in 2020 and discussed it in a bit more detail in my October 2020 monthly post and in my July 2021 monthly post

For April, my “deposit income” totaled $28. This comes from cash back and incentive bonuses from the Rakuten.com and Mrrebates.com online shopping portals (some of which was earned from you readers signing up through these links). 

If you sign up for Rakuten through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Rakuten, you’ll get a $10 sign up bonus

April Youtube income was $149. Youtube only pays out when you exceed $100 in accumulated revenue. Recently, my Youtube earnings have been just under $100 per month on average, so I only get paid every other month. 

Here is the Youtube channel for the curious. It’s random travel videos, birds, kids, and a couple of DIY videos. There are only a few main videos that bring in most of the traffic (and revenue!).



If you’re interested in tracking your income and expenses like I do, then check out Empower Personal Dashboard, formerly known as 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 Empower Personal Dashboard. We have accounts all over the place, and Empower Personal Dashboard makes it really easy to check on everything at one time.

Empower Personal Dashboard 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 Empower Personal Dashboard service, check it out today (review here).

Tracking spending was one of the critical steps I took that allowed me to retire at 33. And it’s now easier than ever with Empower Personal Dashboard.



Now let’s take a look at April expenses:

In total, we spent $1,566 during April which is about half of our regularly budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year). Groceries and utilities were the two highest categories of spending in April.


Detailed breakdown of spending:


Groceries – $872:

Another expensive month of groceries, at $872. We held two big family gatherings at our house during April, so this increased our food costs to some extent. We also stocked up on some staples like 2 fifty pound sacks of the good “imported from Thailand” rice. 


Food for our big family Easter gathering. Please make note of the name brand Pepsi in the rear of the counter. We are living large! (They were on sale for $0.99 each which is cheaper than the store brand sodas)



Utilities – $380:

We spent $146 last month for our water/sewer/trash bill. 

The electricity charges totaled $156 for the April and May bills. I paid the May bill on the last day of April so we ended up paying two months of electricity bills during the month of April.

The natural gas bill, which provides heating and hot water, totaled $80 for last month.


General Merchandise – $66:

Party supplies and gifts from various places. 


Gas – $57:

With our oldest teenager driving to college or work on an almost daily basis, we end up buying about one tank of gas each month now.


Our neighbor from the lake. A great blue heron perched on our back fence.


Automotive – $47:

Mrs. Root of Good’s driver’s license expires this summer, so we paid $47 to renew her license for another 8 years. Fortunately she could renew her license online since visiting the DMV in person is never pleasant. 


Healthcare/Medical/Dental – $47:

Our current 2023 health insurance costs $18 per month, thanks to very generous Affordable Care Act subsidies that we receive due to our low ~$45,000 per year Adjusted Gross Income. 

We signed up for 2023 dental insurance plans and paid a total of $29 in premiums during last month.

I chose a very basic plan for $9 per month for me that covers most preventive care but no fillings. Mrs. Root of Good has a different set of dental needs than I do so we kept the more comprehensive $20 per month plan for her (same as 2022’s plan).

By buying insurance, we should save a couple hundred dollars on my dental care. For Mrs. Root of Good, we will still save a few dollars compared to paying cash for the preventive dentist visits throughout the year.


Travel – $36:

Our $36 in travel spending comes from the final set of tickets for our summer trip in South America. I bought 4 tickets from Foz do Iguazu, Brazil to Sao Paulo, Brazil using British Airways Avios points. The cost was 6,000 points per ticket plus $9 in taxes. 

The two months of Airbnbs that we booked in Argentina and Brazil were paid for using Airbnb gift cards that I got for free using my Chase Ultimate Rewards points and the “Pay Yourself Back” redemption option (no longer available for Airbnb gift cards). On average, we spent about $61 per day on the airbnbs in South America. Prices in LatAm are way more competitive than the lodging costs we experienced in Eastern Europe last summer.

If you are interested in getting free travel from your credit card like I do, consider the Chase Ink Unlimited or Chase Ink Cash business cards (my referral link). Right now the Chase Ink business cards offer 75,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed instantly for $750 in cash. Mrs. Root of Good and I each received our new Chase Ink Unlimited cards during December, and we just picked up a new Chase Ink Cash card during March. The bonuses keep on rolling in the door! 

Chase is pretty liberal when it comes to “what is a business”. If you sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist or do some odd jobs occasionally then you have a business and could get a credit card as a “sole proprietor”. 

Another favorite travel card in my wallet is the Capital One Venture X card. The Venture X card is a “keeper” for me. First off, it comes with a $750 sign up bonus after spending $4,000 in the first three months. The bonus is paid in the form of 75,000 bonus points that you can redeem against any travel purchases from anywhere. Then you earn a solid 2 points per dollar spent forever! The other big perk is airport lounge access. You can get yourself plus unlimited guests into Priority Pass lounges. And you plus two guests can get into Plaza Premium network lounges and Capital One Lounges.

The Capital One Venture X card does have one catch – a $395 annual fee. But they reward you every year with an easy to use $300 travel credit plus $100 worth of points. Together, that makes $400 they give you annually which more than offsets the annual fee. Another benefit worth mentioning: you can add up to four authorized users for free, and they also get all the benefits of the Venture X card including the valuable airport lounge access. We used this perk to “gift” a pair of Venture X cards with airport lounge access to my brother in law and his wife to use on their family trip back home to Cambodia in April with their two young children. 

Since the annual fee is offset in full by travel credits each year, I personally plan on keeping the Venture X card forever since the card benefits are so great.


Home Maintenance – $35:

$26 for mulch and topsoil. $10 for a new dryer belt. 


It’s springtime, so Mrs. Root of Good has been busy in the yard. We got 10 bags of mulch for the front yard and some topsoil for our new flower bed where we relocated a bunch of these pink flowers.


“What was that noise?!” It turns out that noise we heard was the dryer belt breaking and flying apart inside the dryer. $10 for a new belt from ebay and a couple of youtube videos later, and the dryer got fixed.


I had to improvise a “European clothes dryer” in our backyard to get us through this difficult time. Our neighbor kept checking on us with great concern and offering to let us use her clothes dryer given the dire emergency we were facing. Fortunately we are experienced world travelers and know that clothes dryers are revered as a luxury item in most of the world. We know how to get by without one in a pinch since we rarely have a clothes dryer when traveling in Europe.


Our electric cooktop also malfunctioned last month. The large dual-element burner flaked out. Only the outside ring would get hot because the inside ring burned out. I have replaced this element once already and knew that the replacement part is RIDICULOUSLY expensive. In addition, Mrs. Root of Good HATES the flat cooktop because many of our pots aren’t perfectly flat so they do not heat up quickly. As a result, we replaced the flat cooktop with the old fashioned electric coil cooktop (used but in great condition; acquired free from a neighbor’s full kitchen renovation). A downgrade is an upgrade, in this case. Total cost: $0.



Restaurants – $29:

We got $29 worth of Chinese takeout. 


Cable/Satellite/Internet – $0:

We generally pay $18 per month for a local reduced rate package due to having a lower income and having kids. 30 mbit/s download, 4 mbit/s upload. Right now the cost of the internet service is temporarily reduced to $0 due to the “Affordable Connectivity Program”. 


Bright yellow goldfinches on our bright yellow bird feeder



Year to Date Spending – 2023


We spent $8,341 during the first four months of 2023. This annual spending is about $5,000 less than what we budgeted for four months of spending in our $40,000 annual early retirement budget.

It’s shaping up to be another low-spending year overall. Our big expenses for our summer 2023 trip to South America are fully paid at this point. We’ll just have to cover meals and local transportation while in Argentina and Brazil, plus some admission fees to museums, national parks, and other attractions. 

College costs for our two kids in college should be covered in full by grants and scholarships throughout the remainder of 2023. And we have ample 529 funds should we need to cover anything out of pocket. 

The one large expense anticipated for 2023 will be a used car. We failed in our attempts to acquire one during 2022 but that’s okay. The market appears to be cooling off a bit, since I am finally seeing a few cars under $10,000 that aren’t complete pieces of junk. The tentative plan is to buy a second car when we return from South America in August.

Fortunately, we are underspending our budget by a significant margin, so we should be able to “absorb” the used car purchase in our regular $40,000 per year budget without exceeding the budget by much. 


Monthly Expense Summary for 2023:


Summary of annual spending from all ten years of early retirement:


This is my buddy. Our pet woodchuck. I am pretty sure he lives underneath our storage shed next to the house. He eats a lot of vegetation and has the fastest waddle you have ever seen.



Net Worth: $2,761,000 (+$48,000)

I still see a lot of doom and gloom in financial reporting but our personal situation doesn’t look too bad. Our net worth went up $48,000 to end the month at $2,761,000. 

Looking at the chart of our net worth throughout April, it looks pretty boring. I really don’t look at our portfolio on a day-to-day basis, because it just doesn’t matter since we’re mostly doing a whole lot of nothing. 



For the curious, our net worth reported above includes our home value (which is fully paid off). However, please note that I don’t consider my home value as part of my portfolio for “4% rule” calculation purposes. I realize folks ask me about that every month so I just wanted to state that here for clarity.


This is a piglet. I know it looks like a deer but it’s a piglet, I assure you. They clean out our bird feeders every night.



Life update

During April, we hosted Mrs. Root of Good’s family for Easter and had almost thirty people in attendance. We ate a lot of good food and had an Easter egg hunt for the kids.

Not long after Easter, we had the same group of family come back over for a big joint birthday party celebration for our nephew and our son who share the same birthday. Our nephew turned 7 and our son turned 11. Naturally, Mrs. Root of Good decided to have a 7-Eleven themed birthday party!


Homemade 7-Eleven “Slurpee” cupcakes


 In addition to partying all month, we also started to feel the excitement of summer creeping into the air. It’s getting warmer, the days are getting longer, and our kids are looking forward to the summer break from school.

Our middle child graduates from high school in under one month and she has finished essentially all of her high school/college courses and exams for the spring semester at this point. She is taking online community college courses during the summer session which starts in a few days but they should be fairly light on work. She’ll continue the courses during our stay in Buenos Aires and wrap up the summer session before we depart for our second destination in southern Argentina. 

In a few more weeks, our youngest child graduates from elementary school and will move up to middle school in the fall. It is a year of big changes for our family! 

Okay folks, that’s it for me for this month. See you next month! 


Got anything going on or any trips planned this summer? 



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  1. Hi
    Thanks for the update.

    When you were saving for early retirement, did you sacrifice vacations / much enjoyment to make the savings?


    1. Not too much sacrificing on vacations. We had young kids most of our adult lives so we just couldn’t take many big trips anyway. Just too stressful.

  2. Love these Updates.

    Quick question: I looks like you do not pay anything for rent or other living related fixed costs besides utilities?

  3. Congrats on the middle child graduating high school! What does she plan to do after or did your oldest and I’ve got a college?

    I’ve been thinking a lot about college lately, in terms of how to pay for it and whether it’s worth pushing them hard to get great grades and extracurriculars for the next 12 to 15 years.

    I’m not sure if it’s worth it. You had mentioned in the past how you would use some type of minority designation to help them get in. I’m curious to know if it worked.



    1. Both of the older kids are enrolled in Community College for the fall semester. The plan is to transfer to the local state University for the final 2 years of school to get a bachelors. It’s the opposite of aiming for an Ivy League education but it’s pretty close to free too! 🙂 Objectively I also don’t know if either one of the kids would have been able to get into an Ivy as-is. The middle kid will be around age 19 when she graduates from the state U. So her lifetime earnings probably won’t lag an Ivy League kid graduating at 22 by that much (when factoring in the $200-300k+ for an Ivy in the NPV calcs).

      No usage of minority status on the application. As a Native American I encouraged them to do so but we do not celebrate that part of our shared heritage that much, so I left the choice up to them.

      1. Thanks for sharing. It’s pretty smart to save money and go to community college and then transfer.

        As a parent, do you know about what age you recognized each child educational horsepower? I understand every child is different and I am just starting out with my kids at six years old and 3 1/2 years old.

        I have to imagine that most parents think their children are brilliant, when statistically, that’s not possible. But I think my six-year-old son is pretty smart, but maybe I’m just delusional, and maybe his smartness will fade as he gets older, maybe because he fails to work hard.

        Jury is still out for my daughter as she is only in preschool 🙂

        I am impressed with how quickly your middle child is graduating. Was it homeschooling the accelerated her education? How did she do it?



        1. Test scores/evaluations from school help identify fairly early on where they stand on various objective intelligence/aptitude rankings. Ours were mostly in the 90-99th percentile on most of the metrics so I guess we embraced their academic skills pretty early on. I think 2nd or 3rd grade is when they do some of that routine testing here.

          Our third child is following in the same steps. Some 99th percentile scores coming back in Elementary school right now and he’s going into middle school in the fall.

          As for how the middle kid is so far ahead – not really sure. She routinely sleeps until 11 am on days she doesn’t have school, watches A LOT of anime, and likes to be lazy. But she doesn’t do social media and doesn’t spend a lot of time with friends (just her personality ha ha) so she still has ample time to study and get good grades. I think a lot of other students are even worse slackers or they are overcommitted to extracurriculars that detract from purely academic achievements.

  4. You have a couple references to January in your post. I think it’s probably from using a prior month’s post as a templet and missing a few edits. I found it confusing, so maybe you can make corrections, unless of course it was posted correctly, in which case I just need to not be confused.

    By the way, I love to read your updates and wish you posted more often!

  5. I want to give some advice about Argentina in case you don’t already know. The peso/dollar exchange rate exists as an official rate (1 USD = 230 pesos), and a black market “dollar blue” rate (1USD = 458 pesos). You can get the dollar blue rate by sending yourself money via western union (first transfer fee currently waived). Your money will go twice as far this way. I also understand visa is giving near the dollar blue rate, but many businesses in Argentina will give a cash discount (around 10%).

    1. Good advice for others reading! Yes, my plan is to get $250 or $500 from Western Union and bring my bookbag to carry all those peso notes back to my airbnb 🙂

      Backup plan is I’m bringing some USD’s in 100’s and will visit a cueva on Calle Florida. Or ask my airbnb host or some local biz owners where they change $.

      Visa credit cards are generally good too. Checking the currency exchange rate, they give about 14% less than the Dolar Blue rate, whereas Western Union pays about 2.5% less than Dolar Blue. So I’ll probably use cash most places. And good to hear there is a cash discount, since that would make it even more attractive to use cash. About the only thing I’ll have to use credit card for is Ubers (to avoid making change for $4-5 rides) and if we have to buy advance purchase tickets (Buquebus ferry to Uruguay??).

  6. Great post been following a few months now. It’s encouraging to see someone living the dream on the other side of the pond.
    I noticed you are living under 2% of your portfolio, is there any reason for this? I have beening watching Ramit Sethi, and base on his mantra, living your rich life…. What is your right life and what would it look like in 5 to 15yrs. And if your portfolio reach 3 to 5 million, what are your plans in regarding inheritance and giving?.

    Thank you in advance

    1. I “living my rich life” looks a lot like what my life right now looks like! 🙂 And that I continue to stay “rich”! Part of that is low-ish spending. I don’t have any plans to change a lot in the next 5 years but looking out 10-20 years, we expect to outsource more tasks and pay for more luxury as we get older. Mostly because we just won’t be able to do as much in 20 years as we can today.

      I haven’t thought about specific plans for $3-5M but it is likely we will have that much at some point. Probably in the next 20 years. The kids will get it eventually. That’s the current thinking, at least.

  7. Thanks for sharing. I appreciate the window into your kitchen and appliances. They clearly get a lot of use (30 people at Easter!), but also reflect what is important to you (travel, ease of repair) compared to, say, Mr Money Mustache’s top of the line kitchen. The more examples of diverse approaches in this space the better, (especially as the MMM forum is all about how to buy a new electric car these days).

    I haven’t posted much, but I have long read your blog and appreciate your angle on kids, college, and family life. Also, as a fellow North Carolinian, I wonder how long those clothes took to dry! Enjoy your travels.

    1. I’ve found that a lot of “top of the line” kitchen equipment isn’t materially different than the absolute cheapest gear available. Much of the kitchen gear is just about heat transfer (make stuff hot or make stuff cold) and a lot of that is basic physics.

      If you can’t get it right on a $20 portable electric coil burner (something Mr Money Mustache used to pack with him when he stayed in hotels) then you probably can’t make it a lot better on a $3000 cooktop. 🙂

      I’m also way past the philosophy of “only do home improvements that make your house more attractive to the next buyer”. My house is a sunk cost and I don’t plan to move any time soon, so I am doing things to make the current occupants of the home happy. Even if it means “downgrading” to a cheap coil cooktop that my wife loves because it has better heat transfer properties for most of our cookware.

      Those clothes didn’t take too long to dry. Fortunately it wasn’t raining and was dry and sunny and not humid! We did try drying in the shade and inside and it wasn’t fast enough so I rigged the clothesline. It’s like camping! ha ha

      1. A well reasoned approach for sure. We are more transitory, so we seem to end up doing unintentional live in flips, but modest finishes to modest homes. They sure don’t make appliances like they used to: terrible efficiency but built to last. It is absurd that a circuit board going bad can kill a fridge or a stove these days.

        I’ve been looking to either upgrade our 15 year old van (great for hauling and road trips, but 19 mpg in town) or add a Volt or Prius as a second car to take on most of the miles. Prices are still up there, but coming down. I also have to remind myself that the $10k we bought the van for in 2015 is $13k today.

        1. I think our $8k van we bought 7 years ago is still worth about 8k. 🙂 We’re keeping it for now, but nice to know we could swap it out for a newer but much smaller compact car on a roughly equal trade at some point in the future.

    1. Zillow says $340k but I am carrying it on my balance sheet at $300k. In case Zillow is wrong, and I figure I’ll lose 10% in a sale to commissions and concessions anyway.

    1. Yes, but I bought a 3 pack of name brand shoes maybe a year ago (minimum order to get free shipping was probably the reason). I’m about to swap into the last pair of new shoes then I’ll be back to buying shoes again!

  8. I know you like to say that you live like a $100k/yr lifestyle, but I look at your pictures vs. GoCurryCracker’s lifestyle pictures and there are definitely some differences LOL! Kudos to being in a nice routine that is sustainable, I live more like GoCurryCracker and it would be really hard to get back to living a ‘practical’ lifestyle, unless I were to become single :0 The nice thing is, life is good either way once you hit FI. Since you travel so much, you should post about the differences pre- and post-Covid. I used to travel a lot (international nomadic lifestyle) and nowadays I prefer to avoid the overcrowded, germy mess of planes and tourist areas.

    1. Well, those Crackers probably have net worth around the 10 million $ range – mostly from inheritance. They can live it up. (Nothing wrong with that.)

      I do enjoy reading Justin’s site more because he is more of the self-made kind. And I respect that.

    2. I don’t know much about his lifestyle other than what I see on his occasional updates. Looks like he’s doing pretty well but also know his income streams are bigger than mine along with his total investment portfolio 🙂

      His spending looks to be $108k/yr which is 2.5-3x what I usually spend. And that is with some asterisks on the spending totals (he isn’t including principal payments for his mortgage or car note). I include everything I spend on housing or car capital costs in my spending budget in contrast.

      His house looks a little nicer than mine (probably similar size though??). He has a pool, something I wouldn’t want (we used to have one at the house but fortunately it was removed right before we bought the house). His car is much nicer than mine (except mine has 2x the range as his car does because his is an EV 🙂 ). Vacations – think I’m winning there since we did ~3 months of intl vacations last year and it looks like he took zero international vacations (mostly 2-3 hr road trips for him to nearby cali locations, plus a week in Hawaii which is equivalent to Bahamas/Cancun or random Caribbean island for east coasters). But I figure his travel is constrained, like mine, mostly by having kids. He can’t do as much because his kids are younger. He has a housecleaner that comes 2x/month (we don’t).

      Anyway – it’s hard to objectively look at my lifestyle (or Jeremy’s!) and feel bad for either one of us ha ha ha

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