May 2016 Financial Update

May proved to be another good month financially for us. Our net worth continued its upward march with a $13,000 addition, bringing total net worth to $1,565,000. Our income ballooned to $10,826 while our spending increased slightly to $2,979 to almost match our monthly spending target.

Summer sneaked up on us this year. The hot, humid air that just appeared in North Carolina is a reminder that spring is no longer with us. Fortunately, we’re escaping the heat by heading north to Canada for a couple of weeks. Our kids have four more days of school before they are out for the summer, which means us parents get to sleep in seven days per week.

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One Thousand Days of Early Retirement

1,000 days ago I retired early without really knowing it. When I walked in the office on the morning of August 26, 2013, I didn’t know it would be my last day of work forever (probably). I suspected something might happen to me on that Monday because another coworker was suddenly and unexpectedly terminated the previous business day and housecleaning often happens in clusters.

I spent the first hour of that day catching up on emails from the previous week that I missed while I was on vacation in Chicago. Then I jumped on a quick 9:00 am conference call to discuss the financial model for a new toll road proposed for the southern part of town. Then BOOM! The boss walked in the door with a fistful of bad tidings.

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April 2016 Financial Update

Now that April is over, we are one third of the way through 2016. How are we doing? Where are we going from here?

Financially, April was a great month on all fronts. Our net worth increased by $23,000 to $1,552,000. Our income remained strong at $2,471 even though it’s been a few months since we received any pay checks from employers. Our spending dropped significantly compared to last month to $1,829 (not buying a new minivan certainly helped keep expenses low).

On the personal side, April was an incredibly busy month. The weather was nice so we spent a lot of time outdoors. We were busy with kids’ school events and volunteering, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the wonderful life we have built through a decade of financial butt kicking. We capped off the month with a day trip to the beach for a wedding.

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March 2016 Financial Update

I don’t know about you, but we had a wonderful March! The weather is beautiful and life is going very well at the Root of Good household. March represents the first full month of early retirement for Mrs. Root of Good. Last week the kids celebrated spring break and we had a very successful week of relaxing and enjoying the complete lack of a daily schedule.

In financial terms, March was very kind to us. Our net worth shot up $94,000 in spite of spending almost $11,000 (most of which was a used minivan purchase). Our income was higher than normal at $7,806 thanks to quarterly dividend payments from our investments.

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How To Score a $50 Car Payment For Life

Our latest big ticket purchase included a free membership in the Large Family Club. That’s right, we bought a minivan. “Purchase a minivan by 2008” I typed in my first FIRE spreadsheet back in 2006. Oops, eight years late but it still counts, right?

The main reason we were eight years late buying a minivan is because we didn’t need it prior to the last year or two. It was our planned five week multi-thousand mile road trip up the East Coast into Canada that convinced us that a larger vehicle would be more comfortable for long road trips. We are in the middle of planning our 2016 summer adventure (more details later!) and decided to upgrade to a larger car for this trip.

Read on to find out how we’ll pay $50 per month to periodically replace our new(er) car.

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The Many Faces of the Four Percent Rule

If you are a fan of early retirement and financial independence, then you have probably heard of the four percent rule. And if you haven’t, then welcome to the Club and allow me to explain more.

The four percent rule as developed in the “Trinity Study” way back in 1998 says a portfolio of stocks and bonds can support four percent annual withdrawals, adjusted for inflation each year, for a period of thirty years with very little chance of running out of money during that period of time.

The four percent rate of withdrawal is often called the safe withdrawal rate because the retirement portfolio didn’t run out of money in 95% to 98% of overlapping thirty year periods of past investment returns dating back almost a hundred years.

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February 2016 Financial Update

February was an awesome month overall! Mrs. Root of Good finally quit her job and joined me in early retirement. Our oldest daughter was accepted into one of the best middle schools in the county (our first choice school) which feeds into the best high school in the county.

Our $4,221 income during the month was more than double our $2,030 in expenses. In spite of spending half of what we made, our net worth still declined by $4,000 during the month due to a slight decline in the stock market.

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Mrs. Root of Good Jumps Into Early Retirement!

I’m looking over her shoulder at 4:30 pm on a Thursday while sitting in our home office. A quick last check of her emails. A moment’s hesitation. Is this really it? A click on the X in the upper right corner of the screen. Fade to black.

Ten years of work culminating in that final click on the X in the corner. One chapter of Mrs. Root of Good’s life is over. Turning the page to a new chapter, she finds the rest of the script unwritten. Her biggest worry becomes the emptiness of all that white space spread in front of her.

For over a month, it’s been a done deal but I’ve kept it a secret. Unlike the last time she resigned, no negotiation this time around. She said in her resignation letter it was time to move on. She is now officially free from the 9 to 5 work schedule.

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Book Review and Interview – Job Free: Four Ways to Quit the Rat Race

I recently had the opportunity to chat with Jake Desyllas, another very early retiree. Jake hosts The Voluntary Life, a podcast about entrepreneurship, financial independence, and freedom. In 2000, he founded Intelligent Space, an award-winning consultancy in the UK, that led innovation in the field of pedestrian movement simulation and analysis. In 2007 he sold his business and in 2010 he retired early, at the age of 38. He is the author of Becoming an Entrepreneur and his new book is called Job Free.

Since achieving financial independence, his adventures have included becoming a perpetual traveller, going minimalist, playing in a band, writing books, and creating a podcast. He currently lives in Panama with his wife Hannah.

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Budgeting in Retirement – 2016 Edition

It’s a new year so it’s time for a new budget. For the past two years I used this budget of about $32,000 per year. We spent $34,352 in 2014 and $23,802 in 2015, for an average of $29,077 over the last two years. We ended up an average of $3,000 under budget in spite of undertaking a major home renovation including new siding, new windows, and a roof repair in 2014, and a seven week trip to Mexico in 2015.

The $32,000 per year budget was my first attempt at developing an early retirement budget. I tracked our expenses for a few years before I retired in 2013 and figured out that we spent about $24,000 per year on core expenses that would continue into early retirement. To that $24,000 figure, I added extra expenses to account for increased costs in early retirement like health care and traveling the globe.

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