Wow, January flew by! I can’t believe it’s already February. Here in North Carolina it was a rather frigid January. We experienced not one, but TWO (!!) snowstorms during the month which is a rare occurrence. If you’ve never experienced snow in the South, it’s a treat. Everything shuts down and the kids get a few days off school. We busted out the sleds, bundled up, and made the most of it. Ironically we ended up at our neighborhood elementary school where we hit the slopes hard.
January was a fun month for our finances, too. The market continued its upward trajectory throughout the month and left us much wealthier. Our net worth climbed $77,000 to $2,114,000. Income remained strong at $4,055 which more than covered our spending of $1,281 for the month.
Visiting us this week is Bob Lai, the blogger behind Canadian Financial Independence and Early Retirement blog “Tawcan” with an important message on living the good life with a Danish influence.
Unless you have been living under a rock the last few years, you probably have come across the word “hygge.” Hygge is a concept that comes from Denmark. Directly translated, it means cozy. For some reason, hygge has been the hottest craze lately. Everywhere you look you can find hygge related items, being it a flood of books, countless top 10 lists or how-to website articles, department store displays, and even Japanese bakeries.
What exactly is hygge? Does it simply mean cozy? Or purchases of things to create a cozy environment?
I will explain to you what hygge is to me and my family.
Stop number six on our nine week summer vacation across Europe brings us to Venice, Italy! After a two hour train ride from Milan, we arrived in Venice’s main train station around noon. Quick trip recap leading up to Venice: we flew to Milan from Seville, Spain on a super cheap two hour Ryanair flight. Earlier in our trip, we visited Lisbon, Portugal, then flew to Malaga in southern Spain before taking a bus to Granada, Spain.
Venice is one of those cities that everyone has heard about. Mostly good stuff. Some not so great stuff. It routinely appears in articles like “Top 5 European Destinations Everyone Must Visit”, so it’s a must see if you find yourself in Europe with time to spare, right? I’ve also seen Venice on several “Most Overrated Destinations in the World” lists. How does one reconcile these two starkly contrasting ideas? Could Venice appropriately fit on both kinds of lists? I wanted to judge for myself so I made sure to book a couple nights in Venice so I could experience all the good and the bad that this canal-filled enclave has to offer.
Happy New Year! Another great year in the books for us. Our youngest started kindergarten. We took an amazing nine week trip to Europe. And with all the kids in school we were finally able to take advantage of a nice last minute travel deal when Mrs. Root of Good and I jumped on a cruise to the Caribbean for a week. Our early retirement lifestyle is going well.
Here’s how our finances finished 2017. Year end dividends rolled into the investment accounts in December pushing our total income to just over $14,000. Our spending was rather high at almost $8,000 (which needs some explaining). Another freakishly good month in the stock market pushed our net worth up another $26,000 to leave us with $2,037,000 at year end. Needless to say, our 2017 went remarkably well from a financial perspective.
Welcome to stop number five on our nine week trip across Europe! This post covers the four days we spent in Milan, Italy at the end of June. We flew to Milan from Seville, Spain on a super cheap two hour Ryanair flight. Earlier in our trip, we visited Lisbon, Portugal, then flew to Malaga in southern Spain before taking a bus to Granada.
This was our first time in Italy and I didn’t have a clue where to visit. I considered Rome but I figured it would be too ambitious to tackle in just four days so we decided to save Rome for later. Milan, though still a sizable city, proved a good choice to fit in a four day slot in our schedule before we headed onward to Venice.
Milan offers a great mix of the new and the historic. In a single day of sightseeing, one can take a hundred year old trolley line to go from centuries old castles and cathedrals to cutting edge ultramodern skyscrapers. Both the old and new proved interesting to me!
Where did the year go? As I write this we are less than four weeks from 2018! Time flies when you are having fun. As usual, November weather has been beautiful here in North Carolina and we have enjoyed many nice days outside. Now that December is here, it’s starting to feel more like winter with the short days and frost on the ground for a brief time span some mornings.
Big news on the financial front. In November, our net worth smashed through the big $2 million dollar mark! Our net worth climbed $33,000 to close the month at $2,011,000. Income remained strong at $3,228 while expenses increased to $2,857 (still within budget though). To summarize: we are doing okay financially.
Every year or two I revisit my assumption that I’m spending my money in an optimal way. Sometimes this means shopping my home and auto policies to several new insurers to make sure I’m getting the best rates available. More recently, I questioned whether I could save money by buying in bulk at Costco or by shifting more grocery spending to Target or Walmart.
Enter the cost comparison. During September and October 2017 I stealthily visited five stores near me in the Raleigh area to check prices on sixteen different staple foods. I chose Trader Joes, Costco, Walmart, Aldi, and Target.
Going into the experiment, I assumed Walmart and Aldi would be the cheapest, with Target slightly more expensive than those two. Costco would come in fourth place while Trader Joe’s would stand out as the most expensive. This was exactly the results of my study (with the exception that Target was noticeably more expensive compared to Aldi/Walmart). Walmart was the cheapest while Trader Joe’s was the most expensive with the other stores falling in between in the predicted order.
October was another great month for us! We had a blast, blew some money on a quick jaunt on the high seas, and enjoyed the outdoors. And grew $42,000 wealthier while having all that fun. No complaints here.
In financial terms, our net worth climbed to $1,978,000. Income remained steady at $4,573 while total spending for the month of October remained modest at $1,748. Given that we don’t even spend our current income, I’m starting to unravel the mystery of why our cash balance continues to grow month after month. Spending less than we make – an old habit we can’t kick.
We’re on the road again with installment #4 from our nine week voyage across Europe. This week we’re highlighting our last stop in Spain: Seville! Quick recap: after visiting Lisbon, Portugal, we flew to Malaga in southern Spain then took a bus to Granada. After Granada, we traveled a few hours west to Seville.
We spent four nights in central Seville in an Airbnb overlooking the Alameda de Hercules plaza. Capital of the Andalusia region of Spain, Seville overflows with history and a sense of the past. Romans first settled the area more than two millennia ago and remnants of their city remain visible today in and around Seville. Over the centuries Seville was inhabited by the Vandals, the Visigoths, then the Moors. In the 13th century the Castilians conquered the city and it has remained under Spanish rule for the past 750 years.
Now that we’re back in Raleigh I’m planning on releasing a more regular stream of trip reports from our nine week summer vacation in Europe. After we spent five nights in Lisbon, Portugal, we took a short turboprop flight to our second destination of Malaga, Spain for a quick two night stay. What started out in the planning stages of the trip as a pit stop in Malaga on the way to Granada turned out to be a surprisingly interesting city to spend a few days.