Surprising Finds in Lisbon, Portugal

The Root of Good family started its grand nine week European vacation with five days in Lisbon, Portugal. After a short flight from Raleigh, Lisbon is an easy 7.5 hour overnight flight from Washington, D.C., so our transatlantic flight to Europe was relatively painless. We arrived at 10:30 in the morning the next day. After an arduous journey through the immigration lines, we left the airport by metro for a quick ride to our first (of fourteen) Airbnb apartments that would serve as our homes away from home for the next nine weeks in Europe.

To battle jet lag, I followed the advice to stay awake the whole day of our arrival and DON’T take a nap. We dropped our bags at the airbnb apartment, hooked up to wifi, unpacked a bit, and did a quick inventory of necessities (“Do we have soap, shampoo, conditioner, and breakfast for tomorrow?”), and headed out for an afternoon of exploring downtown Lisbon so we would be forced to stay awake. Easier said than done, we had an overly exhausted five year old that fell asleep on the metro ride back to our apartment, and it’s the first time I’ve nearly fallen asleep while standing up (waiting for the metro).

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June 2017 Financial Update

This month’s financial update comes to you from Ljubljana, Slovenia – an undiscovered gem in Europe. We are about to head to Lake Bled, Slovenia for some hiking, lake-lounging, and more relaxing. After that we’re on to Austria, Germany, and the Czech Republic for the next month before ending our vacation in Amsterdam. It’s hard to believe we are almost half way through our nine week summer vacation in Europe!

June was another great month financially. Net worth increased $14,000 to $1,842,000. Income was very strong at $7,793 during June, while expenses remained moderate at $2,629. Such a great feeling to watch your assets continue to grow for you while you’re on the other side of the world exploring and relaxing!

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When is Enough Enough?

Guest post from Early Retirement Dude:

It’s May of 2005 and I’m officially quitting my job this morning—or, technically, I’m being laid off because I’ve turned down a directed transfer—and part of the process is an exit interview with our divisional president.

I’ve just turned thirty-six.

Cliff is a good guy, and for a couple more hours I’m two tiers down from him on the org chart. I report directly to a woman who reports directly to him, so he and I have gotten to know one another and become friends. He’s also helped me out career-wise; involved me in higher-level meetings, invited me to the right cocktail parties, and been solicitous of my opinion.

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Summer Vacation for 5 in Europe: 9 Weeks, 8 Countries, 14 Cities, $10,000

The Root of Good family is ramping up for an epic adventure across Europe during the summer of 2017. The five of us will spend nine weeks traversing an all new (to us) continent by train, plane, bus, car, and foot.

We really struggled to narrow down the itinerary to something feasible for a family with three young children. As a result this trip will NOT include London nor Paris nor a dozen other cities we would have loved to visit. What we will see are museums, parks, castles, palaces, cathedrals, caves, mountains, seas, rivers, lakes, and canyons scattered about the rest of western and central Europe.

Many will view this as a “trip of a lifetime” or a “dream trip” but I choose to view this as just another cool vacation in a series of vacations we have already taken and will continue to take.

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Living a $100,000 lifestyle on $40,000 per year – 2016 Expenses in Review

“Oh you live on $40,000 per year? Guess you like camping in the van underneath the highway bridge huh? Still enjoying those rice and beans? Three kids cost $40,000 per year right off the bat so it’s clearly impossible!”. This complainer clearly doesn’t know how we spend money.

Living well on $40,000 per year is possible and I’m here to explain exactly how by going over all of our expenses during 2016. Later in the article I’ll explain why our spending affords us a lifestyle that costs most other people $100,000 per year. And I don’t think many would argue that a $100,000 per year lifestyle is a tough way to live.

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Cruising the Caribbean aboard the MSC Divina

What’s the best way to fight off winter’s chill? Spend a week cruising the Caribbean of course! Right before Christmas the Root of Good family did exactly that. I wanted to share a few pictures from our eight day, seven night cruise aboard the MSC Divina sailing out of Miami, Florida.

After two lazy days at sea, we reached the island of St. Maarten where we watched airplanes zip by just feet off the beach. The next day we docked in San Juan, Puerto Rico where we explored the city and toured the Castillo San Cristobal fort. Then we enjoyed another relaxing day at sea before we reached Nassau, Bahamas. We didn’t get off the boat in Nassau since we seem to visit the island on every cruise we take. Relaxing on the ship while everyone was on shore proved to be the perfect way to spend the last full day of our vacation.

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The Role of Luck in Early Retirement

We’re celebrating Thanksgiving here in America in a few days, and that means two things: eating massive quantities of turkey and reflecting on all the beautifully awesome parts of life! Last year I mentioned how thankful I was for cool affordable tech gadgets, the ease of growing wealth, and lastly, economic and political stability.

I’m still a big fan of all of those! But in this post, I want to express my gratitude for all the good luck experienced throughout my life.

First up, I’m glad I was born in the United States of America. It’s one of the richest countries in the world as measured by per capita gross domestic product, consistently ranking in the top 10 or 15 countries of the world. In the good ole US of A, we speak English which is the lingua franca of business and culture worldwide. Speaking English as a first language boosts one’s career prospects and allows conversation with around a quarter of the world’s population. That also translates to a huge marketplace if you’re in the idea biz (such as writing a blog).

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October 2016 Financial Update

Now that the trick or treating is over and October is gone, I’m ready to share the good and bad financial data from last month. Our income, mostly derived from this blog, remained very strong at $8,365 while our expenses ended the month at $1,460 which left us with a large cash surplus. If I make much more money, I’m afraid I might be “unretired”!

I can’t say I paid any attention to the stock market in October but apparently it declined. In spite of income exceeding expenses by about $7,000, our net worth still dropped by $29,000 to $1,618,000. Since this is significantly more money than we had a year or two ago, I continue to feel safe and secure at our current net worth levels.

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My first person view of gentrification

Earlier this week I walked out the kitchen door and down the sidewalk destined for the neighborhood Food Lion grocery store. It’s a quick five minute walk to the shopping center and proves uneventful on most trips.

This day was a little different for a number of reasons. Half a block away from home, I bumped into a new neighbor. We started chatting about the neighborhood, the fancy downtown magnet school both of our children attend, and his most recent acquisition: oboe reeds. This guy had a different vibe than many other neighbors that moved here over the past several years. He’s completely white and fluent in English for starters. Solidly middle class. After doing some cybersleuthing later in the day, I realized he paid about 50% more for his house than what his neighbors did a few years earlier.

We shake hands and part ways after exchanging contact info to stay in touch (we’re neighborly like that down here in the South). I proceed to the grocery store in no particular rush (I’m retired after all). I enter the shopping center through the short cut by the dumpsters. And lo and behold there’s a homeless looking gentleman laid out on the sidewalk in the sun chugging a half gallon jug of whole milk. Not my first choice of mid-day beverage, but it was warm that day so I guess 64 fluid ounces of ice cold milk hit the spot, right?

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How to Pay for College while Early Retired

One of the top questions I’m asked when people see “retired at 33 with 3 kids” is “yeah, but what about college?”. The truth is I never really gave it a lot of thought because the total cost is well into the future (though closing in fast for our oldest kid) and not huge relative to our total net worth. I had a very vague goal of being able to cover the tuition and fees for four years of in-state tuition for all three kids.

We funneled some cash into 529 accounts when North Carolina offered a tax credit for doing so. We earned a $350 tax credit for contributing $5,000 per year to the 529. When that tax credit was eliminated, I stopped contributing to the 529s and stopped thinking about college funding. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for college is no biggie when you have a million or two, right?

It turns out my lazy attitude toward college funding won’t spell disaster for my children’s higher education future. Between what we have saved in 529s, our large investment portfolio, and a plethora of other funding sources, the kids will be perfectly fine when the college tuition bills start piling up. You’ll have to read on to find out why I’m so confident (or is it cocky?).

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