The Great American Canadian Road Trip – Summer 2016 Edition

I dropped some hints about our big summer plans in my last post, and now it’s time to make it official! We’re going on an almost month long road trip to Canada by way of Kentucky and Michigan. For those following along with my early retirement journey for the past few years, you might be experiencing deja vu because doesn’t a month long road trip to Canada sound familiar?

You aren’t experiencing deja vu. In 2014 we did set out on what was supposed to be a month long road trip to Canada that turned into a two and a half week road trip when we came home early. The exhaustion that comes from superintending a rambunctious two year old combined with a disappointingly dirty Airbnb apartment rental persuaded us that it was time to return back home to Raleigh for some true R and R.

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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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Living on Dividends in Early Retirement

Dividends are a popular source of income in retirement. We rely on them for a part of our annual living expenses. Dividends provide a relatively steady stream of income regardless of the fluctuations in the stock market.

It’s worth stating that I’m not exclusively a dividend focused investor. Instead I focus on the total return of my portfolio. I’m an index fund investor with a fixed asset allocation that I use to periodically rebalance my portfolio. Right now I’m almost entirely invested in equities through mutual funds and ETFs. All of those investments pay dividends ranging from 1% to 4% per fund.

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The Mini Flash Crash of 2015, or, How I Made $5,000 in 30 Minutes

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful” says Warren Buffett. At the opening of the stock market last Monday on August 24, 2015, we saw a ton of fear. Following Buffett’s advice, I got greedy.

Out of sheer luck I happened to be sitting in front of the computer at the opening bell. I was looking at my index fund tracker at Yahoo Finance when I saw one of my recent purchases plummet over 30% for no reason at all. Sure, the entire market was down 5-6%, but that didn’t explain the drastic drop I saw. Then I checked a few other ETFs in my portfolio and noticed they were also down by ridiculous amounts of 30% or more.

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Cost Effective Investing With Motif

It’s hard to get excited about a brokerage firm. In fact, I like boring brokerage firms. Other than low costs and fees, an excellent web interface, and great customer service, there’s not a lot I want from my broker. Check out my recommendations page, and you’ll see Vanguard and Fidelity as my top choices.

But there’s another brokerage firm that piqued my interest recently: Motif Investing. They offer something that I haven’t seen at any other brokerage firm. The ability to trade a basket of stocks with one click and for only one low $9.95 brokerage commission. And they are offering $150 to entice you to give them a try (read on for more details).

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Root of Good Interview On The Voluntary Life Podcast

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to sit down (virtually) with Jake Desyllas and discuss the financial moves and life decisions that put me in a position to retire by age 33. Jake runs The Voluntary Life podcast, which features over 160 podcasts recorded to date that cover entrepreneurship, financial independence, and freedom among other topics.

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Eavesdropping On Economic Lessons From a Tradesman

This morning I was relaxing in my hammock while enjoying the mild spring weather. With coffee in the mug next to me and two year old Mr. Root of Good Jr. playing on the deck not far from me, I was planning on a morning of peace and quiet. I set the lofty goal of finishing the last hundred pages of Nanjing Requiem, a work of historical fiction set in the 1930’s in Japanese-occupied Nanjing, China. I managed to finish the book this morning, but not entirely in peace.

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