January was another busy month for us in the Root of Good household. We worked hard planning our summer trip to Southeast Asia. We got outside and played a bit when the weather was nice. And we bundled up against the cold when winter returned with full force.
Financially, last month was quite a blockbuster. Our net worth jumped $133,000 to re-cross the mythical $2,000,000 mark and land at $2,004,000 by month’s end. Income was strong at $3,779 while expenses remained within our budget at $2,937.
Let’s dive into January’s financial update!
Do you need to be productive in retirement? Or is it okay to screw around all day and live a life of leisure? Or does the secret to retirement success lie somewhere in between the two extremes of productivity and leisure?
There is no right answer to the question of how busy you must be in retirement to be fulfilled and content. It depends on what drives you and makes you happy. For me, the first six months of retirement were pretty busy as I was used to a decade of full time work and I continued the productivity trend straight out of the office and into retirement.
Within two weeks of leaving my full time job, I started this blog and felt compelled to maintain a strict publishing schedule of two or three posts per week. That meant I was spending a lot of time researching, writing, proofreading, and figuring out the technical and business side of the blog. All the while, I was the one watching our one year old son all day! Busy, busy times. And not much time for relaxation and fun.
When you have kids it’s impossible to retire early, right? I found out that may not be true in all cases. Like my own. We have three kids and still managed to retire early. But how is it possible when kids are soooooo expensive?
The US Department of Agriculture publishes the “Expenditures on Children By Families Annual Report” which examines the cost to raise children in America. The headline number that gets a lot of press is the total cost to raise a child from age 0 to 17: $233,610. And that doesn’t include the cost of college!
Almost a quarter of a million dollars seems really high to me, so I’m diving into our kid-spending to see what it actually costs to raise our three kids.
Well folks, today marks five years of early retirement for me. Flashback: on August 26, 2013 I spent the morning sitting in my office at work, catching up on emails after a week long vacation. Then my boss walks in, says “you’re fired”, hands me the dismissal paperwork and I’m on my way. I spend the rest of the morning at home puzzling over my spreadsheets to verify that I am, in fact, financially independent.
Analysis result: I was financially independent. Our initial budgeted spending of $32,000 per year was only three percent of our total investment balance. In other words, way less than the 4% rule dictates.
Fast forward five years and here we are. Five years older and five years wiser. Our kids were age 1, 7, and 8 when I retired and now they are 6, 12, and 13! They are very different people than they were five years ago.
Right after I quit working, I was still in production mentality when I started this blog. I always wanted to do something internet-y and the blog was the first thing that came to mind. After a weekend of googling “how to start a blog” and other extremely basic search queries, I had figured it all out. I registered the rootofgood.com domain name and published my first article on September 11th, 2013.
Have you ever wondered what it is like to be shipwrecked on a deserted island? Would you get bored? Would you starve? Die of dehydration?
Or would you thrive and prosper in your newfound isolation and make the most out of your (hopefully) temporary stay on the beach?
In a roundabout way, our one month trip to Freeport, Bahamas was inspired by this thought experiment. What would life be like in a relatively isolated section of a Caribbean island? Crystal clear water. White sand beaches. No people. No nearby restaurants or entertainment.
Are we crazy to voluntarily shipwreck ourselves in such a predicament? I don’t think so. But we aren’t complete gluttons for punishment. We made sure to book a place with air conditioning and wifi (it is the 21st century after all).
It’s early August and we’ve been at home for about two weeks after spending a month vacationing in the Bahamas during June and July. Summer is flying by incredibly fast because we have been so busy!
Our oldest two kids just wrapped up two weeks in summer camp. The whole family has enjoyed lunch, dinner, or play dates with several groups of friends that we haven’t seen all summer. Back to school shopping is mostly done. And school starts in three short weeks!
In the meantime, our lazy investment portfolio continues to be busy as well (in a very hands-off way). Our net worth shot up by $46,000 during the month of July to $2,084,000. Spending was particularly low at $1,389 while income remained strong at $4,361 for the month.
“JM”, a new commenter on the blog, left a great comment asking about tracking spending and how that helps you get to Financial Independence.
“Do you track all your monthly spending, no matter how minute? Did this help get you to Financial Independence? And how?” -JM
The quick answer is yes, I did track all spending down to the dollar while working towards FI. And looking back, tracking everything I spent was pivotal to accelerating my journey to FI.
We’re living it up in the Bahamas on vacation right now! I’m taking a break from the waves, sun, and sand to provide the regular monthly financial/life update. At this point we are half way through our one month stay. Although there isn’t much to do here beyond swim in the ocean, play in the pool, and walk along the canals and marshland, we’re having a good time. We brought lots of books and the wifi and air conditioning are top notch!
Did our finances have a nice month too? In June, we did well from a cash flow perspective with income from investments and the blog exceeding our expenditures. Income was $8,867 while expenses were only $3,554. The stock market wasn’t very kind to us in June, so our net worth dropped by $16,000 to $2,038,000. There’s still enough money in the investment accounts to keep me smiling in the Bahamas!
The final stop on our nine week, fourteen city summer vacation across Europe brought us to Amsterdam, Netherlands for a quick three day stay before flying back to North Carolina (and home!).
While in Amsterdam we explored canals and rivers, centuries old streets and buildings, and some more modern spaces like the iconic OBA Amsterdam Public Library.
Read on to find out how we wrapped up nine weeks in Europe!
“I never want to quit working because I’ll be socially isolated and I won’t be able to make new friends.” Is this a legitimate concern or one of the worst objections to early retirement?
There is reason in worrying about loneliness in retirement but it’s not a good reason to work forever, especially if you don’t like your job! Getting out of a stressful work situation will make you a nicer, better person and therefore more likable and friendly.
If work is your only source of friends and social interaction, then perhaps it’s time to broaden your social network and look for friendship in other places.