August 2020 Early Retirement Update

Mommy and baby deer on an island in the lake behind our house

Time flies when you’re having fun. We’re all having fun, right? Summer just flew by and we are officially feeling fall here in North Carolina. It’s cooling off some and the kids are back in (virtual) school so it definitely feels like fall even if the calendar says we have a couple more weeks of summer. 

This was our first summer in a long time that we didn’t travel anywhere. Was staying at home all summer boring? Not really. I still have the travel bug and want to hit the road again when it’s safe and convenient. In fact, we booked some speculative travel for next year with our fingers crossed that it will happen. You’ll have to keep reading to find out how optimistic our travel plans are!

Financially speaking, August was a fantastic month for us. Our net worth climbed $73,000 to end the month at $2,206,000. Income was relatively decent at $5,759 while our expenses came in slightly above budget at $3,468 for the entire month. 

Let’s jump into the details from last month.

 

Income

Investment income totaled $353 in August which was quite a bit lower than what we received in July. Our equity index funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December with some payments arriving at the beginning of the next month. Here’s more on our dividend investments.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, totaled $1,240 for the month which was about the same as last month’s blog income. 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $839  for the month of August which represents three sessions of two hours each. The consulting income has been relatively steady the past few months after taking a big hit during March and April. I guess folks are once again focused on retiring early. 

“Travel” income of $1,780 comes from all the cancellations and refunds from our summer trip to South America and October trip to Spain. After a concerted and sustained effort, we were able to obtain full refunds of all cash and miles for all lodging, flights, and car rentals except one single hotel night in Madrid that cost $8 plus some Expedia Rewards points. I won’t be too heartbroken if the grand total of travel losses for 2020 comes to $8 plus points I have a hard time using anyway. 

The “deposit income” totaled $1,506 in August. Of the total, $1,500 came from a brokerage sign up bonus that we received in exchange for transferring a half million dollar IRA brokerage account to Citi Investments. 

The other $6 came from cash back and incentive bonuses from the Ebates.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 Ebates/Rakuten through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Ebates/Rakuten, you’ll get a $10 gift card. 

The final $39 of income received during August came from returning a box of vinyl plank flooring that we didn’t use for our flooring job in July. 

 

 

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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 Personal Capital.

 

 

Expenses

Now let’s take a look at August expenses:


 

In total, we spent $3,468 during August which is about $100 more than our regularly budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year). Healthcare/dental and electronics topped the spending categories for the month. 

 

Detailed breakdown of spending:

 

Healthcare/Medical/Dental – $1,133:

Our 2020 healthcare premiums are $123 per month thanks to very generous Affordable Care Act subsidies that we receive due to our low ~$40,000 per year Adjusted Gross Income. The benefit of being “poor” on our tax return. 

Both of the adults in our household bought dental insurance since the premiums are anticipated to be much less than the actual dental care we receive during 2020. The premiums total $64 per month for the two of us. 

Mrs. Root of Good needed a root canal to fix a previous root canal procedure from about a decade ago. We paid over $1,200 in July and another $945 during August for the root canal. The insurance reimbursement paperwork isn’t complete yet. However, it appears we will only get back about $550 in total from the insurance company which is much less than what I estimated.

The good news is that the reimbursement for the root canal should roughly cover the full cost of the 12 months of dental insurance premiums. And Mrs. Root of Good still has two more regular dental visits that will be free or nearly free depending on how the claims are processed. Overall the dental insurance wasn’t a horrible value but it wasn’t the huge win I thought it would be. 

 

Electronics – $528:

We went on a shopping spree in August.

We geared up for virtual schooling by buying 3 more pairs of bluetooth headphones so we can all attend class, listen to music, and watch TV in solitude without disturbing anyone else in the house. 

These Ijoy ISO headphones are pretty great for the $20-25 price tag (and we used a gift card to cover half the cost). 

I also bought a ton of components for a new computer build. It was time to bring the Root of Good Media Empire PC up to 2020 standards. 

Between the motherboard, CPU, SSD hard drive, graphics card, memory, and power supply, the whole computer was a bit under $600. I used a $70 Walmart gift card bought several months ago to offset some of the cost. I decided to build this computer myself so that I could get what I wanted and ensure that I could upgrade it in the future as technology improves. 

Parts I used for this build:

I saved a few bucks by repurposing the case from an old Dell computer. It needed “a slight bit” of modification to accommodate the new motherboard’s input/output ports on the rear of the case. A Sawzall wasn’t the most delicate tool to use for cutting through galvanized steel but it got the job done. That plus a little metal tape to clean up the rear of the case.

Shhhh… don’t tell the hardcore computer builders what I did! 

 

computer case sawing

 

In hindsight, I should have bought a new computer case. It was a lot of work to clean the old case and modify it enough to fit the new motherboard in there. But sawing through metal is pretty awesome so there’s that aspect of it too.

I’m still a little concerned about the thermals inside the case but I don’t have any huge plans to convert this into a mega-overpowered hardcore gaming PC. 

I also found two good sites to research computer builds. They both help guide you toward compatible components that work together. The first site is PC Part Picker and the second is Logical Increments.

 

Groceries – $508:

Grocery expenses were back in line at $508 for the month. We tend to spend around $500-550 per month so August was a very normal month for us. That’s not bad considering we rarely get food from restaurants! 

I’m still using Walmart Grocery pick up service several times per month along with visits to Aldi, Lidl, and Food Lion.

The Walmart grocery pickers put together your order for you and you just drive up and click a button on the Walmart app to get them to bring the order out to you. The best part is you pay the same low prices as they offer in-store to all their customers and there is no delivery fee.

If you want to try Walmart Grocery, you can take $10 off your first $50+ order with my referral link. Enjoy! 

 

Homemade sausage and pepperoni pizza
Homemade sausage and pepperoni pizza

 

Steak and somen noodles with Thai papaya salad.
Steak and somen noodles with Thai papaya salad.

 

Travel – $493:

The surprise travel booking for 2021 is…

A cruise! 

We booked a one week Caribbean cruise for next September. It was a ridiculously good deal at $267 per person. We paid $398 for a deposit and will owe the other $136 in June of 2021. 

The good news is that the cruise is fully refundable up to 48 hours before the sailing date, so we aren’t locked into anything if the travel safety picture still looks bleak next summer. 

Mentally I haven’t committed to going on the cruise since I know there is a decent chance it’ll get cancelled. But hopefully everything will be back to normal by next summer and we’ll set sail after all! 

In other travel spending, I paid a $95 annual fee for a credit card to get 75,000 American Airlines miles as a sign up bonus. That’s a round trip flight to Europe or Asia so it represents a very good travel value in my opinion. 

If you want to score free travel or big cash back from credit cards, there are several cards currently offering 50,000 points or more. These points can be redeemed for $500 cash or $500+ in free flights or hotel stays. Compare travel and cash back credit card deals

 

Utilities – $457:

The city water, sewer, and trash bill was $139 for August. I paid an extra $100 toward that bill to hit the minimum spending requirement on a credit card. The September water bill will be much lower as a result of the credit balance on the account.

The natural gas bill for hot water was $0 since we got a $150 rebate in the form of a bill credit when we installed our new tankless water heater in May. I still have over $50 in credit balance on the natural gas account which should last until the winter heating bills start to arrive.

Our electricity bill was $218 for August. It was a hot summer (like all summers in North Carolina), and we don’t mind cranking the AC to stay cool. With cooler temperatures around the corner, our electricity charges should be much lower during the fall months.

 

Mommy and baby deer on an island in the lake behind our house
Mommy and baby deer on an island in the lake behind our house

 

 

Gifts – $200:

I withdrew $200 from the ATM to give as gifts throughout the year. $100 of that went to our daughter for her 14th birthday that we celebrated in August.  

 

Restaurants – $110:

During August, I bought $100 worth of Pei Wei gift cards for $70 through gift card marketplace Cardcash.com. After buying the gift cards I realized I could have obtained almost the same deal through Sams Club without the risk that the gift cards might be used up by the seller after the 45 day money back guarantee! 

For the birthday party (immediate family only) we spent $30 on burgers, fries, shakes, and chorizo quesadillas from Cookout (a North Carolina burger chain). Good stuff! 

 

Burgers, fries, and shakes from Cookout. Classic American food!
Burgers, fries, and shakes from Cookout. Classic American food!

 

We also picked up a Sam’s Club cafe pizza for $10 during August. Sam’s pizzas are way better than Costco cafe’s pizza. Fight me in the comments if you disagree! 

 

Cable/Satellite – $36:

We 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.

I paid for two months of service during August. 

 

Entertainment – $4:

I used a $25 off $25 purchase Ebay coupon they sent me at the end of the month. I bought 7 books from the Dragonlance series plus some small electronics. Our public library doesn’t have any of the Dragonlance books in stock. As a result I broke my multi-year streak of not buying any books. 

After the coupon, all I had to pay was $4. The code they sent me was “HAPPY25” and it expires September 10th 2020. Check your account to see if it works on a $25.01+ purchase! 

 

Playing in the rain = free entertainment
Playing in the rain = free entertainment

 

 

Home Maintenance – $3:

I rode my bike up to the neighborhood gas station to refill the lawnmower gas can. 

There’s also a $7 toilet valve replacement kit from a Walmart Grocery pickup order. It’s expense is included in the “Groceries” category since I don’t bother splitting receipts. 

 

Gasoline (for the car) – $0:

I wanted to list this expense in case anyone was wondering. We don’t drive a lot, so we don’t buy gas every month. We’re down to a quarter of a tank so we will have to refuel again this month! 

 

Mrs Root of Good's hobby: bird pictures
Mrs Root of Good’s hobby: bird pictures

 

Red tailed hawk on the back fence
Red tailed hawk on the back fence

 

 

 

Total Spending for 2020 – Year to Date

 

Our spending totals $21,726 for the first eight months of the year. This is about $5,000 less than the $26,667 we budgeted for eight months of our $40,000 annual early retirement budget

Given all the “big spending” we’ve done in the past several months, I’m feeling pretty good with being $5,000 under budget year to date.

The trick is that we budget for all of these “one time” and “unexpected” expenses. In our $40,000 per year annual retirement budget we include:

  • $1,000 for electronics
  • $3,000 for medical/dental
  • $2,500 for home maintenance/repairs

Plus a ton of other categories of course!

We go over some budget categories in some years while spending very little in other budget categories. With seven years of early retirement living under our belts, we have found that the spending averages out during the year. 

This year we will be over budget in the medical/dental category and home maintenance category. But we will spend very little in the “travel” category (which is $10,000 per year).

Instead of spending our summer traveling, we have spent the summer here at home. Being home means we have more free time and energy to work on home repair projects (like the new flooring) and electronics upgrades (building a new PC). 

In the end the spending averages out right where we want it to be at roughly $40,000 (or less) for the year.

 

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2020:

 

Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:

 

 

Net Worth: $2,206,000 (+$73,000)

Another month and another big five figure gain in net worth. The stock market recovery since the March low has blown my mind. 

 

That dip in the graph mid-month is where I transferred some assets to a new brokerage firm (for more sign up bonuses!)

 

I joke that this is the “richest poorest recession I’ve ever seen”. For those people that still have their jobs, they are busier than ever. 

But to those who have lost their jobs and are struggling to pay their bills it’s no joke at all. Or at least it won’t be a joke once the unemployment and other stimulus money runs out. 

Either the stock market got the whole economic recovery thesis 100% wrong or we actually will have continued economic growth going forward. Let’s hope this is a true economic recovery in action and not just a bubbly stock market. Big Ern at Early Retirement Now seems to think this is the real deal economic recovery (or it’s at least looking good out there!). 

In terms of investments, I haven’t touched a thing all month. I’m still at roughly 90% equities and 10% bonds. And so it goes…

 

Life update

I quit working seven years ago this August. Most years I remember to celebrate that date. This year I totally forgot until a day and a half later. I guess that’s a sign that I’ve truly moved on from the working world and embraced this whole early retirement lifestyle!

Things are going well for us here at the Root of Good Household. All three kids are working hard on their remote learning through the Wake County Schools Virtual Academy. The schedule for the high school students is pretty nice. School from 8 to noon and then they are done for the day by lunchtime.

 

We converted the 8' x 8 foyer into a classroom for our son
We converted our 8′ x 8′ foyer into a classroom for our son

 

Three weeks into virtual schooling and all three kids still like virtual better than regular in-person classes. We will see if it’s just because this is “new” or if they remain this positive throughout the whole semester (and perhaps the whole school year). 

I will say the school system has a much more cohesive distance learning process this school year compared to last spring. There is a lot less frustration with communication, expectations, technology, and learning this fall. 

On the fun side of life, I spent several days in August nerding out over PC building. I enjoy technology and tinkering a lot. Especially when the end result is a sweet new computer to enhance my “productivity”. I will have to test some games on the system to ensure the build quality is good. 

With the fall weather coming soon, we are all looking forward to spending more time outside. We just broke out the hammocks. And soon it will be campfire season once again! 

 

Sunset behind our house
Sunset behind our house

 

Summer is over, but are you happy or sad? Are you enjoying the stock market zooming up or is it making you nervous?

 

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51 comments

  1. Buy a new case. You have the money. I spent over $100 on a great case 6 years ago and just upgraded most of my system, cept PS, SSDs and video card. The case still rocks. Will use it for another 6 years. OEM cases are too proprietary and don’t allow good cooling. Buy a case and move your parts over and be done in an hour or less.

    1. I may do that. I’ll check the thermal performance out once I get everything loaded in there this week and apply some loads 🙂

      I mainly wanted to recycle the case for the experience and to see if it could be done. Easy enough to upgrade the case like you say.

      But personally I’d rather sink $100 into beefing up other components instead of the case. $100 more on a better graphics card, or $100 more for a better CPU. Or $50 more for larger SSD or a big HDD.

  2. Great results for the month Justin. I hope you still have a chance to come down to South America soon. Hope you come to visit Brazil. I live here and follow your blog every single month. Your family and how you manage expenses are an inspiration for me. Really appreciate it and keep up the good work.

  3. Looks like another good month for the rootofgood family, how hard did the last Wednesday market crash hit you?
    Regarding dental, the last time I went to a US dentist was five years ago; they charged me $130 for a filling and that was the price with insurance. I decided to cancel the insurance and to go to Mexico once a year for my dental needs. $100 pays for a filling, Rxs, cleaning and yearly checkup and you do not have to pay insurance. I asked last year how much a root canal was and it was something like $500. Have you ever considered going over there for dental? Just wondering.
    What games do you like playing? I just finished Last of US 2 for the second time so I am open for suggestions.

    1. I guess the market crash didn’t hit us too bad since I didn’t really notice it! Checking my Personal Capital now, I see we lost $35k last Wednesday. No big deal 🙂

      For dental, we probably wouldn’t go down to Mexico just to save on dental procedures. We could cut the costs here in Raleigh by choosing a (potentially) lower quality endodontist that is in-network for the root canal and have insurance cover most of it (so it would cost us less than $500 probably). A bigger problem is accessibility. Right now it would be hard to get down there and Mrs RoG didn’t want to wait forever.

      I’ve been playing Ark Survival Evolved for a while and that’ll be my first game once I get my graphics card installed (arriving today!!). Fallout 4 is on the agenda too. Torchlight II and Path of Exile potentially. Not sure after that. Maybe review my Steam/Epic Games/humble bundle games I’ve purchased or got for free and see if any pique my interest.

      1. Ark Survival Evolved has cool graphics, I will look into it.
        I am really looking forward to the day when I have enough money to put 10 years of living expenses on bonds or cash and stop worrying about the stock market. I recently retired and every time the stock market drops I freak out, I think I just need to ignore it but I have a hard time. My portfolio is in tune with what you had (1MM + no mortgage) when you retired but I still have an uneasy feeling sometimes.
        Thank you for your reply

  4. Wow always impressed to read such a detailed report. From reading them for the past 2 years, I am wondering how much time does it take you to write them these days?

    As for the stock market we came to a similar conclusions than yours. Let’s see if its hold true 🙂

    As for our summer, well we are still enjoying a fantastic time here in Taiwan. As our tourist visa was getting close to expiration, we found a really sweet deal to get a 3 years resident visa, so looks like we are gonna keep exploring this beautiful island without having to worry about COVID19! If your readers are interested to get to Taiwan, we shared all the details about the not well known visa program: https://www.nomadnumbers.com/taiwan-employment-gold-card-application-guide/

    1. It takes several hours to pull these monthly updates together. Part of that time is reviewing the previous month’s financial stats (which I need to do anyway to stay on top of my game!).

      Good to hear you’re doing well in Taiwan! I’ll have to check out that resident visa process you mentioned as I didn’t realize it was that easy to get!

  5. Hi Justin,

    Like you, I am eager to travel again. Ironically, I visited South America this winter and also had a Spain cruise for this October (that I cancelled). I am curious though about your new booking. You aren’t afraid the cruise lines will go bankrupt? The only “income” they have had for months now has been new deposit money. I don’t see how they go a full year without income unless their lenders are incredibly forgiving.

  6. Thanks for the mention! Let’s hope the economy and market hold up. Stocks look a bit shaky again!

    And good move on the cruise! We had already booked 3 cruises on Royal Caribbean for 2021 way before the epidemic. Those same cruises are now more(!) expensive than when we initially booked them. I will keep monitoring to see if the price will go down and we can lock in the lower price. Have done that on previous cruses a few times! 🙂

    1. Yeah the market goes up and down. Maybe I shave off $100-200k this month if there is a big drop. 🙂

      I’m seeing the same thing with cruise prices. Not a lot of really good deals out there in general. We bit on this one as it was a price mistake (prices went up 20% a few hours after we booked once they updated the tax/port charges in their system).

    1. After watching them use the ketchup-squirting machine to apply the sauce at Costco I understood why their pizza wasn’t as good as Sam’s 🙂 Though I know we all have our opinions!

  7. Looking good financially, as always, Justin.

    – On the cruise: with the friendly cancelation terms, it’s tempting. I’ve thought about booking some flights and other travel for similar reasons the way prices are, far in the future. I haven’t really done much research, but one back of the mind concern is bankruptcy possibilities. I’d assume you’re screwed on the deposit if the cruise line goes belly up before Sept 2021. Any concern about that?

    – On the market: it seems incredibly frothy but I just popped open the ERN post. Hopefully, he’ll make me feel better 🙂 We had similar growth for August and came out way ahead (on paper) despite some $30K worth of donations.

    – What’s the first game you’re going to give that new system a real test with? I don’t think it’s up your alley, but really been enjoying Apex Legends with some friends — free to play and the graphics will certainly give the system a run for its money.

    1. Counterparty risk is a big deal for these travel providers in general. From looking at the financials on the big boys (NCL, RCL, CCL) they look somewhat solid as they aren’t struggling too much to gain access to liquidity in credit markets and equity markets so far. We booked with MSC, a private company, so it’s harder to see the financials behind them. But they also have a massive shipping business that is much larger than their cruise subsidiary, so they will probably be fine and continue to exist.

      Also, the lines may file bankruptcy but there is a decent chance that they will still honor cancelled cruise fares post BK or if there is a receiver and the businesses continue to operate as going concerns.

      As for the games, I’ll be playing Ark Survival Evolved as the first game. Fallout 4 at some point too (I’m way behind on games). I’m not to keen on multiplayer FPS or battle royale type games but may give them a shot.

  8. Did you consider just buying the whole PC from a manufacturer, since you’re replacing so many parts? I haven’t built a PC in 15+ years but it didn’t feel like I was actually saving money by building it myself and I’ve felt like PC’s I’ve bought from manufacturers since then have been better put together, much quieter for instance. It seems like PC manufacturers can use their scale to get parts for cheaper and their margins seem to be fairly low. I know some manufacturers offer cases that make it easy to swap out parts in the future.

    I get some people get value from tinkering by building it yourself but from a convenience/price perspective it seems better nowadays to buy everything new as a package from a pc manufacturer if you’re replacing 80% or more of the parts.

    1. I essentially replaced everything in the computer except I reused the case (plus the dvd drives but they’re dirt cheap and mostly useless anyway). I may end up buying a new case so it’ll be a 100% new build at that point. This wasn’t really an “upgrade” since I gutted everything from an old broken computer.

      I priced out comparable builds from Dell etc and they were about $1200 for the same quality. Or I could buy one for $400-500 and then spend $$$ to replace the power supply, add RAM, maybe bigger SSD, and add a graphics card (another $350 for all that). Financially I came out a bit ahead and got what I wanted.

      For average users I’d say buy an off the shelf solution as it’s good enough. If you don’t need a graphics card for graphics, gaming or video production then you can get a good rig for $400-500 on sale. And if you just need a lightweight graphics card you don’t need to upgrade the power supply at all (GTX 1650 for example just plugs into a PCI slot w/ no extra power needed).

  9. I love that the PC build gave you a good reason to nerd out on a fun project. There’s a lot of value in that. I was surprised that the whole thing was $600 though. I would have thought that a computer around a Ryzen 3 would be cheaper, but you have some other premium components in there.

    Are you bringing the kids on the cruise next September? I think it would be funny for the school to have in-person classes for the first time in a while and you get to tell them that you’ll be distance learning on a cruise ship – LOL. We pulled the kids from school for a week last October and the school went crazy on us about how irresponsible it was to not plan our vacation differently. In hindsight, take vacations whenever you can get them, right? There’s always time for home school.

    We had a red tail hawk on our fence last month. My picture from my cell phone from far away isn’t nearly as good though.

    1. Yeah the components are what they are. I probably could have squeezed the costs down by another $100-150 by going cheaper on the RAM (8 gb vs 16), smaller/crappier SSD (non NVME for example), and power supply (400W cheapo unit vs 600W name brand with higher efficiency) without sacrificing a ton of performance initially. What I was thinking was more about futureproofing the build for several years and allowing for expansion in several years if/when I want to upgrade. The extra $100 vs a barebones approach is probably worth it since it’ll keep me happy for longer. Ryzen chip was sort of a compromise of power vs cost. The next step up (3300x) wasn’t available anywhere when I ordered parts. I’ll probably upgrade eventually assuming the mobo and socket takes whatever chips are out in 3-4 years (or I could always get a current gen chip with 2x power for cheap in 3-4 yrs).

      For the cruise, it’s just for Mrs. Root of Good and me. 🙂 A present to ourselves for surviving the pandemic and distance learning, etc. With fast paced academic high school here, it’s hard to miss a week of school. They’ll both be knee deep in a heavy AP/IB schedule next fall so we can’t afford to take them out. We might pull the elementary kid for a week if we book another cruise. They definitely have a fit when we do it though. In the past we’ve had educational absences approved by their schools for a cruise several times (“maritime ecological Caribbean adventure” lol).

      One time we didn’t ask for permission and we got a nasty-gram form letter threatening misdemeanor child neglect charges. Or something like that. We have compulsory child school attendance laws and it’s a misdemeanor for parents not to send kids to school. Big laugh at that one!! System is too overloaded with actual problems to come harass millionaires with kids earning good grades and high test scores…

      1. Spending on the hard drive and memory will probably give you the most performance. It would be hard to find a 3-class (Ryzen or Intel) with NVME and 16GB of memory anyway.

        I like that “maritime ecological Caribbean adventure” code. You are right, it’s easy enough for them to say they did their job with the nasty letter and move on to putting out a real fire. Thanks for the update on that part of it, because I thought Sept. cruise season would be hard. Must be a low time for travel. We don’t get anyone bringing their dogs to our dog sitting service :(.

        1. That’s true. It’s a bit of a mismatch of specs but the late model Ryzen 3’s really go fast (especially if your application doesn’t need more than 4 cores). NVME prices are super cheap now vs 6-12 months ago and RAM too for that matter.

  10. My wife and I have tickets to go to New Zealand early next year through mileage points – I realize it probably won’t happen because of COVID-19 but there are supposedly no change fees. Fortunately, there are still a lot of interesting outdoor places to visit in the USA in the meantime like national and state parks.

    1. I’m a lot more optimistic about September 2021 vs 1st quarter 2021. We saw a bunch of good cruise deals in Q1 2021 but didn’t even want to bother with them.

      Agreed – lots of beautiful places in the US close to home and all across the country! That’s our tentative plan for summer 2021 (and it has been planned for several years anyway!).

  11. Is your 30 mbit/s download internet fast enough for all your kids doing remote learning / zoom? I had to increase mine for my kids and my wife and I working remote.

    1. Yes, it’s plenty. I checked the bitrate on Google Meet and it’s only 160 kbit/s per user so even with 4 of us streaming we’re at <1 mbit/s upload (and we have 4 mbit/s). That's at the default 360p resolution. Throw in Netflix 1080p at ~7-8 mbit/s max and minimal upload and we're fine.

  12. Congratulations on another great month to the ROG household. It was an awesome month for those with investments in the market, although we appear to be giving back a pretty decent chunk so far in September.

    You are worried about a cruise in Sept 2021? We have one scheduled for Nov 2020 and we expect it will be sailing. Our lives have been pretty much back to normal for some time – eating in restaurants for months now, vacationing in North Myrtle Beach and the Smokies, and we even went to see “Tenet” this weekend. I am a believer in the classic line from the “Shawshank Redemption” – get busy living or get busy dying.

    I tend to buy my computers refurbished and have never had an issue. You can get some pretty powerful systems nowadays (good CPU, 16GB memory, 1TB SSD) for less than your rebuild. Many of my units last for many years until I just decide I want something better, not because they crap out. My current system is a ThinkPad with an Core i5 and 8GB of memory that I have been using as the main system for my 32″ monitor and all the other accessories. Believe I paid $150 for it a couple of years ago and have never had an issue. But I understand wanting to build one as well since I have built a Linux system recently from an old laptop, and still have a Pi Raspberry board around here somewhere I might try to do something with eventually.

    Best wishes to you and your family, and continued good health to all and your readers.

    1. Wait, you have a November 2020 or a November 2021 sailing? I feel like November 2020 will definitely get cancelled if it’s not already cancelled. But at least you’ll get the chance at a 125% future cruise credit. I figure there’s a 50% chance my Sept 2021 sailing will actually happen. I really think there will be a vaccine around 1st quarter 2021 so hopefully with 6 months of vaccinating we’ll be healthy enough as a population to be able to travel again (might have to show your vaccination papers though!).

      1. Yep, Nov 2020. We have had three cancelled so far this year from earlier months, including rebookings from earlier cancellations that were in turn cancelled. Still believe this one will go out, since there have been others starting up in various geos around the world.

        1. Wow! You are very optimistic! I hope the cruises are back on track in ~2 months but I don’t see how we get there from where we are today. New cases per day in USA are still ~30x higher than when they first cancelled cruises in March. And I’m afraid the islands won’t take any ships for a while (except perhaps US ports like San Juan, Key West, USVI??). But hey, if you do sail in November it’s a good sign that the worst is past us!

  13. I love the Dragonlance series. A few years ago I found (or I should say my parents found) the paperbacks I had saved from my high school days. I reread them and still enjoyed the story of Tanis, Sturm, Raistlan, Caramon, Tastlehoff and Flint. Great fantasy adventure. My high schoolers even enjoyed them. I haven’t read past the second trilogy. Have you tried the Stormlight Archive series by Sanderson? Really good.

    1. That’s cool! I think I checked out most of my Dragonlance books from the library though I’ve acquired a few over the years. There’s a ton of follow up novels beyond the 2nd trilogy that are pretty interesting. I found a ton of the dragonlance books on ebay and lots of sellers have “buy 2 get 1 free” or similar deals so they work out to be sub-$3/book including shipping and tax. Not bad for 5-6+ hours of reading enjoyment!

    1. That’s a very tough question! For outdoors, probably the mountains of Slovenia. Amazing scenery and no crowds. We went with family but it would be fun without kids too.

      Without kids trip? I love Mexico and would probably pick it since there are a bunch of places I have not visited but want to visit (or re-visit). Otherwise, cruises are pretty awesome for just the 2 of us.

    1. Truassure. Decent dental rates for NC. I bought mine through the ACA exchange but you can get the exact same thing through Truassure directly. Just have to find the “ACA” or “exchange” plans @ Truassure site.

  14. Seems like a nice quiet summer at home… like everybody else this year. Oh well, there’s always next summer for some travel.

    On the bright side, it looks like you had a very good month indeed. Enjoy the new PC!

  15. The wife and I visited Raleigh for the first time a few weeks ago to visit my sister at NC State. We picked up food from Cookout one night! Pretty good food and not bad prices. Long time reader of your blog!

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