Over here in the Root of Good household we’re counting down the days till summer. It feels like it’s already here though! May was a lot warmer than usual with highs in the 80’s most days and lots of humidity, including a jolt of moisture from a very early season Tropical Storm Alberto. I suppose this will be good training for our month in the Bahamas starting in two weeks!
How did we make out money-wise in May? Our net worth climbed $21,000 to bring the total to $2,054,000. Reasonably good stock market returns were the main driver of net worth gains in May. Income remained solid at $3,426 for the month. With $3,366 in spending, our May expenses climbed to the highest point for 2018. However, it’s still great news that our spending is less than our income!
April was a blast! It was also an incredibly busy month. We helped out at the kid’s elementary school by chaperoning a field trip and running the school’s spring carnival raffle. I spent four days at CampFI Midatlantic where I presented “How to Develop an Early Retirement Budget”. JD Roth stopped by the house for a few hours before heading up to the camp. The whole family did a staycation for spring break. We assembled a couple more bicycles for us adults. To close out April we threw a big birthday party for our six year old. I’m pretty sure I was less busy when I was working!
In financial terms, April was a good month. After a couple months of losses, our net worth reversed course and climbed by a modest $9,000 to $2,033,000. Our spending remained low at $1,977 which was just a tiny bit more than our April income of $1,837.
Another month of early retirement is in the books! March was a busy month for us. The weather is finally nice around Raleigh so we enjoyed more time outdoors. The kids had fun too, with our youngest going on a field trip to the children’s museum that we chaperoned. Our older two children bought themselves bicycles and have been out and about riding on these warm spring days.
Financially, March was a repeat of February. Due to downward movement in the stock market, our net worth dropped by $32,000 to a still-respectable $2,024,000. Our income of $5,659 far surpassed our spending of $2,025 which means our cash stash continues to grow slightly.
Time for another monthly update now that I have wrapped up month #54 in my early retirement journey! Spring arrived a little early in North Carolina and that means more time outdoors for us. Goodbye two weeks of “real” winter, we hardly knew ye!
From a financial perspective, February was a tough month punctuated by a strong dip in the stock market, officially putting us in a “correction” with the Dow and S&P 500 index both registering declines greater than 10%. At month end our net worth was down by $58,000 to a “mere” $2,056,000. The silver lining is that our income for the month remained strong at $4,736 while expenses of $3,108 tracked closely to our $3,333 budget. Spending less than you “make” soothes the sting of a big shift downward in net worth.
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.
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.
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.
Life is going well for the Root of Good family. The kids are all back in school and we are settling into our new school-time routine. Most weekday mornings start with the walk to school to drop off our kindergartner. Then we play tennis, take a walk, go hiking, or go swimming. As the days grow cooler we’ll adjust our routine to take advantage of warmer afternoons on days that we plan on being outside for a while. I always look forward to fall and this year is no different. For us it means more time outside, campfires, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and time with family.
We just closed the books on September and along with it, marked the end of the third quarter of 2017. Our income spiked up to $7,433 for the month while our expenses remained low at $1,824. Net worth grew by a massive $46,000, thereby boosting our net worth to $1,936,000 by the end of September.