July 2018 Financial Update – Home Again!

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.




Investment income totaled $1,305 in July. Our equity mutual funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly in March, June, September, and December, which means this month’s dividends are lower than those months at quarter-end.  Some of our investments paid quarter two dividends in the first few days of July instead of June.

Our fixed income investments (bond funds, CD’s, and money markets) provided about $400 out of the $1,305 total investment income.  More on our dividend income.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, increased slightly from June to $2,706 in July.  Income in 2018 has been lower than in 2017 so far but traffic has been on the uptick lately.

Fortunately I don’t rely on the blog income for living expenses with almost $2 million in our investment portfolio!

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $246 in July which was a slow recovery from the $0 in June revenue. The past week has seen several new lifestyle consulting clients reach out to me. August will probably be a very good month for this little stream of income.

Deposit income of $102 came from the Ebates.com and Mrrebates.com online shopping portals (some of which was earned from you readers signing up through these links).

If you sign up for Ebates through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Ebates, you’ll get a $10 gift card.  We continue to accumulate cash back from lots of different online retailers for travel bookings, gift cards, and general merchandise purchases.



If you’re interested in tracking your income and expenses like I do, then check out Personal Capital (it’s free!). All of our savings and spending accounts (including checking, money market, and five credit cards) are all linked and updated in real time through Personal Capital. We have accounts all over the place, and Personal Capital makes it really easy to check on everything at one time.

Personal Capital is also a solid tool for investment management. Keeping track of our entire investment portfolio takes two clicks. If you haven’t signed up for the free Personal Capital service, check it out today (review here).

Tracking spending was one of the critical steps I took that allowed me to retire at 33. And it’s now easier than ever with Personal Capital.



Now let’s take a look at July expenses:



In total, we spent $1,389 during July which is roughly $2,000 less than our target spending of $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year).  Top expenses for July include travel and groceries.


Detailed breakdown of spending:


Travel – $901:

Even though we spent more than half the month in the Bahamas on vacation, we didn’t spend much money in July for the vacation.  We were in a somewhat isolated area of the island and didn’t have a rental car in July, so we were marooned on this beautiful beach without many opportunities to spend money. Unless we wanted to walk a mile to some restaurants or the grocery store.

Not that I’m complaining!


The tough life.


Soooo tough. This guy parked his boat where I was planning to go swimming.


The main attractions here are free. The beach is about 30 seconds away from our back door and we spend at least a few hours there almost every day.  Even closer is the condo’s swimming pool.

A trail starts at the rear of our property and allows for a beautiful walk along the canal.  In the canal we have seen tons of tropical fish, jellyfish, and an eagle ray.


Collecting seashells – another free activity when you’re living next to the ocean.


Our only Bahamas-related spending in July was $20 on groceries and $6 for some food in the airport on the return flight home (thanks, McDonald’s app!).

We spent over $200 on Bahamas groceries at the end of June so we didn’t go hungry in July.


Amazing sunsets. #nofilter


Since we returned to Raleigh we’ve been busy arranging future vacations. I bought $750 worth of airbnb gift cards for $675 at a 10% discount. We usually stay in Airbnbs on our travels, and these gift cards never expire so they’ll definitely come in handy at some point.

$99 of travel spending is the annual fee on the newest member of our wallet: the Southwest Business card which will net us 60,000 Southwest Rapid Reward points after I meet the $3,000 minimum spending requirement.

The final bit of travel spending was $101 for the taxes on some frequent flyer ticket redemptions for next year’s big summer vacation. The flights were otherwise free thanks to plenty of American Airlines frequent flyer miles obtained from credit card sign up bonuses.

You’ll have to continue reading to find out where we’re going in 2019!

If you want to score some free travel from credit cards, there are several cards currently offering 50,000 points or more. These points can be redeemed for $500 cash or $500+ in free flights or hotel stays. Compare travel credit card deals.


Our condo complex was near this canal. Tons of fish and other aquatic life in there!


Groceries (in Raleigh) – $430:

During June before we left for the Bahamas, we only spent a total of $59 on groceries. We focused on emptying our fridge, freezer, and pantry before we left for a month.

We went on a grocery shopping marathon once we returned to Raleigh to replenish our groceries.

After spending a month on an island where everything is imported and the meat and produce were very low quality and expensive, it was a nice change to return to our normal high quality, low price grocery stores at home like Walmart, Lidl, and Aldi.

During July, we spent $430 on groceries in Raleigh.

Want to find out who won the grocery wars between Costco, Walmart, Target, and Aldi?  The answer will shock you!


Sushi with big fat chunks of salmon


Mrs. Root of Good’s Bahamian birthday celebration. I packed a $1 box of cake mix and bought some sweetened condensed milk for the icing with chocolate shavings on top.


Restaurants – $32:

We ate out a good bit during the two weeks we were in Raleigh during July.

We visited the local pizza restaurant and redeemed a Groupon. We had to pay an extra $4 for our youngest kid since the Groupon only covered meals for four of us.


Free restaurant food – Sheetz sent me a coupon for a free steak and cheese sub. Delish. And they let you get unlimited free toppings like extra meat and extra cheese.  And pepperoni and guacamole.


We took advantage of discounts in the McDonald’s app where almost all their sandwiches are $1 while other deals vary day to day such as $1 large fries or $0.50 ice cream cones. Total spent at Mcdonald’s was $7.

Our final restaurant purchase was $19 at Chilango in Raleigh. This place offered authentic Mexican street food at reasonable prices. No fajitas or nachos on their menu!

We got six tacos, a sope, and a quesadilla plus snacks and unlimited salsa and fixings.


Such delicious food at Chilango in Raleigh.



Gas – $10:

After driving about 25 miles round trip for summer camp each day, we had to buy some gas. I only bought four gallons at a more expensive gas station. We’ll be going by cheaper gas stations in the near future so I’ll fill up the tank on the cheap when we do!


Telephone – $9:

Our annual cell phone renewal. We have a prepaid phone with T-Mobile that we rarely use. It’s on a grandfathered plan that only costs $9 per year to keep the minutes active.  The plan is sadly no longer available.


Healthcare – $3:

Copay for a 90 day prescription refill.


Note on Health Insurance and Utilities

  • Health insurance premiums don’t show up this month because we prepaid the premiums in January and February for the whole year.  If paid monthly, premiums would be $40 per month thanks to very generous Affordable Care Act subsidies that we receive due to our low ~$40,000 per year Adjusted Gross Income.
  • Utilities are typically paid in lump sums in order to fulfill the terms of sign up bonus offers on credit cards.  We still have over $1,000 worth of positive balances on our electric and water accounts.


Back home in Raleigh. The herons and egrets missed us!




Total Spending in 2018



Throughout the first seven months of 2018, we spent $16,645.  That’s about $6,500 less than the $23,333 budgeted for the first seven months of our $40,000 early retirement budget.

Our taxes, utilities health insurance, and home insurance are prepaid for most of the rest of the year.

Travel spending will ramp up in the last half of 2018 into early 2019 as we finalize payments on two week long family cruises and we ramp up planning for summer 2019’s big adventure.

We’re also busy planning a one or two week getaway for our fifteenth anniversary in March.

So perhaps we’ll spend our full $40,000 budget after all!


Our little guy playing with his neighborhood friends from his kindergarten class.



Monthly Expense Summary for 2018:


Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:


Fun times in Raleigh. We got the little guy to bake banana bread with his mommy.


End result: more deliciousness.



Net Worth: $2,084,000 (+$46,000)

We are finally back in positive territory for 2018 after ending 2017 with a net worth of $2,037,000.

July saw a slow and steady general upward trend in net worth driven by a generally positive stock market.  This is in stark contrast to significant volatility earlier in 2018.

Where we go from here, nobody knows! In 2017 we shifted from a 100% equities allocation to a 90% equities / 10% fixed income allocation. In hindsight we left a little bit of money on the table but we still enjoyed very strong gains on the 90% of our portfolio invested in equities.



I don’t really spend much time thinking about our investments on a monthly basis. We have a passive investment approach with our funds diversified across ten different asset classes.

The biggest money management job is moving funds around at month end to make sure the checking account has plenty of funds to cover any outgoing payments such as the credit card bill.


Relaxing by the water in the Bahamas.


We spent a lot of time thinking about saving, investing, and asset allocation in the early years of our quest for financial independence so that we wouldn’t have to think much about any of that stuff now. Our focus has shifted to enjoying the money we saved.

And on that note…

We have a big announcement to make.  We’re going to spend the summer of 2019 in Southeast Asia! 

We booked five one way tickets to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam using 187,500 American Airline points plus paid a total of $101 in taxes.  Credit card bonuses are awesome. We depart shortly after school gets out in June.

The plan is to purchase the return tickets from Southeast Asia at some point in September once the August, 2019 flight schedule opens for bookings.

While in Southeast Asia, we’ll spend a week or two in each city we visit. We’re tentatively planning to visit:

  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
  • Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Siem Reap, Cambodia (home of Angkor Wat)
  • Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Chiang Rai, Thailand
  • Bangkok, Thailand

Plus we’ll spend the day in Hong Kong during a long layover en route to Vietnam.

Feel free to drop any suggestions on Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand or Hong Kong in the comments!


Ready for the heat of summer to end? Can you believe summer is almost over?  


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  1. God, life looks so tough!!! 😂😂 It’s hard to watch man. 😂😂😂😂

    “We took advantage of discounts in the McDonald’s app where almost all their sandwiches are $1 while other deals vary day to day such as $1 large fries or $0.50 ice cream cones. Total spent at Mcdonald’s was $7.”

    Yessss us too! Not to much but 2x a week max and we spend $4 thanks to the $1 deal. The app is great and I have a big fondness for their fruit parfait at $1.50. I buy several cups and their kiddie cones haha…🐷 then order bacon on the side.

    1. I didn’t know McD’s has bacon available on the side! Might have to try that… Those kiddie cones for $0.50 are a bargain. We got that for the six year old and they were HUGE. Like 5-6″ of ice cream. We had finished our burgers before the little guy ate all his ice cream. And he had to suffer through several bouts of brain freeze too.

        1. +1 I don’t know where you got all those points. It seems like you are an expert travel hacker also Justin.

  2. Welcome home! Awesome fun as usual. I’m a little surprised with your high equities position that your percent increase YTD isn’t slightly higher. (S&P 500 is up 7.4%YTD). Minor typo under “Healthcare: Copy>Co-pay.

    1. We have a 50/50 US/International split and it looks like international is down YTD. I’m sure that’s what depresses our overall YTD returns. Also, thanks for the note on the copay typo. Fixed 🙂

  3. We stayed at a Marriott timeshare in Phuket about 10 years ago. It’s probably a very different experience than a cruise. However, we found that the prices were very favorable. I got an hour-long massage for $8 and started to feel guilty about it.

    In Bangkok, everyone seemed to want to sell us custom suits. I didn’t explore that.

    I’m not sure these are useful suggestions, but that’s all I got.

    1. Maybe they can make me a custom pair of shorts 🙂

      $8 for a massage – not bad! Hopefully we can support the local economy by purchasing a few of those while we are there.

  4. Jeez, you guys are killing it with everything. Nice job.
    Your 2019 trip was what I wanted to do next year. But my mom is having some health issue now so we probably have to put these long trips off until later. You guys will have a ton of fun.

  5. Congratulations on another successful trip, Justin. You and the family had a great time, as usual, and the beach looked tremendous. Amazing what you are able to accomplish while the naysayers continue with the criticism of those who can accomplish what you and the family do.

    A couple of musings:
    1. July was a great month for investing as the effects of some of the business tax changes are being felt in our investments. Went up a little higher than your amount only because I am a little more active in things like options trading, and it was a good month to be a trader.
    2. Need a new credit card for upcoming property taxes so the Wells Fargo Propel card looks good for my needs, to complement the others I already have. No annual fee intrigues me more than most things now, as I can leave the account open with no issues.
    3. Our vacations will be starting soon as we are long past the school age kids and love traveling when others aren’t (btw, TN schools start this week). A few small trips here and there (a week in Vegas, etc) before we leave for our three month winter sojourn in North Myrtle in later December, and our first cruise in 30 years in May. Long story short – the wife’s experience 30 years ago was not positive but she is finally willing to give it the old college try. If it works out it opens up another avenue for vacationing during the year for us. Perhaps we’ll meet up on one of your outings in the future.

    Careful on the SE Asia trip next year; you might seriously find a new home for you and the family in a place like Chiang Mai. With your eye for value I am sure you will size up the opportunity real quickly and see some of the advantages.

    1. So you’re going on a cruise?! Very cool and hopefully it’ll be very relaxing. I think as long as you (or rather, the Mrs. 😉 ) approach it with some patience you’ll do okay. As a ~10 time cruiser, I laugh at the people that get upset at the tiniest of things, or at the “inconvenience” of waiting in line for a minute or two to eat. Getting on and off the ship is the most trying time for me – sometimes the lines can be really long. Just smile, relax, and enjoy the ship and your destinations while on board.

      You might be right about SE Asia. I’ve heard good things and the prices are certainly appealing. My main hope is the weather isn’t too hot as we hate the heat and humidity. Seems like it’s about the same or slightly worse than NC summers and we can stand those if we have to.

  6. +1 on McDonalds. Stopped by to get a Big Mac for $1 using their app and they gave me a coin token for another one. That’s 2 Big Macs for $1.06 with tax, or 53 cents a Big Mac. 🙂

  7. Our Year-to-Date expenses are almost identical! We have spent $16,614 in 2018 so far.

    It looks really joyful to live like you do, the view is absolutely stunning. You must be excited about going to Asia in 2019!

    I’m definitely not ready for the summer to end. Maybe I should travel more..

  8. How come you spend so less in Bahamas. Could you please leave contacts or AirBNB link to where you stayed there? I want to try the same experience if you don’t mind sharing.

  9. Phnom Penh is very meh. Lots of sex trafficking and poverty and other things you don’t want to see all around. Siem Reap is great though – much more tourist friendly.

    1. I disagree. Liked Phnom Penh a lot better than Siem Reap. We didn’t see the red light district though. Guess you will figure it out for yourselves. Isn’t July the peak of rainy season in SEA though? We were in Phuket once in July and there were downpours almost every day with very little sunshine.

      1. Thanks for your positive comments on PP. Hopefully we can avoid the seedier areas and see the nicer parts. 🙂

        Summer is the rainier season and we’re aware of that. We’ll manage with umbrellas and ponchos plus accepting we’ll get soaked occasionally 🙂 I’m okay w/ no sunshine. Clouds = less direct heat!

    2. Thanks for the point of view. Did you leave the backpacker/tourist area and have a better experience? I’ve heard that’s where the seedy activities happen. Seems to be the case in Bangkok from what I’ve heard, and we saw it first hand in Amsterdam a bit (Red light district = epicenter of tourist area).

  10. Nice work on the budget and net worth. Looked like a great vacation. Sounds like a great trip for next year as well.

    1. I hope so. We’re definitely looking forward to it! Mrs. RoG’s family is from Cambodia/Thailand and it’ll be her first time visiting her birthplace (which she left when she was very young).

      1. where’s the how you met story…i’ve read every post on this thing (i thought)… i know a financially-minded spouse was on the to-do list for FI…but where’s the story…this inquiring mind wants to know..

  11. I have that exact same T-mobile plan. It’s awesome isn’t it? Too bad they don’t offer it anymore.

    Your July sure looks rough in the Bahamas. This FI living sure is tough — Beaches, travel, good food, hanging out all day. So much sacrifice! What a rough life!

    My July was pretty similar (though not in the Bahamas sadly).

    Nice job keeping the spending so low! 🙂

    1. Yes, it’s a tough life but fortunately we’re able to manage okay. And we get to support the depressed economies of island nations! Always willing to play our role in helping out the less fortunate 😉

    1. Totally free. We seem to find a lot of high quality camps for free or very cheap most summers. But we’re usually gone all summer so we can’t take advantage of them!

      1. I live in Raleigh and I am dying to find out what summer camps are free! I run through everything you can think of from YMCA, City of Raleigh summer camp to Camp Ravenest (private school with a summer camp). I think readers would benefit from learning how to find no cost of cheap summer camps.

        1. Wake County Law enforcement Adventure camp – 2 weeks, totally free, they provide food. Excellent quality.
          Raleigh Police Soccer Summer camp – 1 or 2 weeks – never done it personally but neighbors report it’s okay but not particularly well organized.
          GlaxoSmithkline Science in the Summer camps – half day, only 3-5 days long. Totally free. They have real teachers conducting the camp sessions. Sign ups in March and they fill quickly.
          Some schools have summer enrichment programs but it’s YMMV.

  12. Your kids must be having a blast with these awesome vacations. That upcoming Southeast Asia one sounds very exciting.

    That phone plan is a pretty sweet deal. Not sure how not having a smartphone would work out for us though.

    How do you know when the Airbnb GCs go on sale? Does Raise or CardCash send out a notification? Are there typical times that this happens?

    1. We have smart phones that we use every day. The $9/yr flip phone mostly stays in a drawer. But it has service over the whole world so we usually take it with us for emergencies. I guess we could always buy a SIM for wherever we’re traveling but don’t always want to do that.

      As for Airbnb GCs, it’s highly variable. I set an alert at Slickdeals and they email me whenever a deal pops up. If Raise has a sitewide sale, I also load up on Airbnb GCs if I don’t need anything else at the moment. And you can always get ~4% off Airbnb GCs at Raise assuming they are in stock.

      1. I noticed Raise’s 4% discount and just got a $10 off coupon from them so I’ll probably be looking to buy a GC from them. I don’t know why I didn’t think to check Slickdeals for sale opportunities. Alert has been set!

  13. FYI – since you’ll be right near there, I would highly recommend Malaysia if you get a chance. Beautiful country, wonderful people, excellent food, and a cool melting pot of cultures (it’s a Muslim country amidst the more traditionally Buddhist region, but it’s got huge Indian/Chinese/English/Thai connections). Kuala Lumpur is great for a big city, but plenty of out of the way areas that are very affordable/beautiful to visit too.

  14. What a nice way to spend your summer. It’s amazing how you can travel all over the world with such low expenses. I definitely have to learn from you! Congrats to your Asia trip in 2019! Hong Kong is famous for their gorgeous night view, “Victoria peak” is a must visit spot if you have enough time. Well, while you are there don’t miss out on their exotic cuisines. Thank you for sharing!

  15. I also would love the link to your Bahamas Airbnb.
    We were in Hong Kong last May. I think your kids would enjoy riding on the double-deck tram cars and if you have time, take the funicular (Peak Tram) up the get a great view of the city. I really enjoyed Hong Kong and may stop there again on this trip.
    We’re also in the planning stages for a SE Asia trip (Thailand and Cambodia), but we’re going mid-October for a month. I’m thinking of adding on a week in New Delhi and skipping Vietnam this time.

    1. Stay tuned for a Bahamas trip report.

      Thanks for the tips! Others have also recommended the funicular ride and the double decker tram rides. Sounds like fun and convenient for us because we’ll likely be tired from flying 15 hrs overnight from NYC when we arrive in HK.

  16. We were in Vietnam 2 years ago, really like Hoian and would recomend a visite if your able to fit it in.

  17. Your 2019 summer trip sounds great. We just booked a two week trip to Thailand in November. Planning to spend our time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. It is amazing how cheap lodging is in Chiang Mai. One bedroom Airbnb’s with a roof top pool are less than $300 for an entire week!

    For Hong Kong, a recommendation for food is One Dim Sum. It is a one Michelin star place. We showed up 30 minutes before opening and there was already a line. We spent $17 on a bunch of dim sum for 2 people. Since you are doing a day trip into the city, the Airport Express train offers the return for free (you just pay the one-way fare when you are traveling round trip the same day). Also, you get free transport on the subways with the train ticket; so you can save money by getting off at the first Airport Express stop and then doing the free transfer to the subway. It takes a little more time to get into the city (say an additional 20-25 minutes), but you can save about $3-6 US a ticket. (I happen to be working on writing about our HKG trip from last year and just recently researched these items!)

  18. very nice share. as with cruise can you share details about bahamas trip with cost split-up so that we can plan ours as well
    Also, I dont see a creep in spending for past few years in your financial update. Howcome you are not getting any unexpected expense . All is set in stone and going well as planned? Kindly explain

    1. I hope to get out a whole post on our Bahamas trip in a week or two and there will be some details in there!

      As for expense creep over the years, we’ve had several large purchases since I quit working, each one close to $10,000. New(er) car, new siding and windows, new roof, big summer vacation in more expensive Europe. Some of those expenses are timed flexibly. So far we haven’t had any big surprises, but we also plan for lots of unexpected expenses like dental/medical emergencies, things breaking at the house plus periodic replacement of the main systems, periodic car replacement, etc.

      1. nice thing justin. as far as the medical coverage is concerned does your premium take care of coverage more than primary care. IS this deductible based (or) are there more restrictions on conditions that can be treated?

        1. Coverage is comprehensive and covers just about everything other than experimental treatments and cosmetic surgery. There is a small deductible each year of $125 and after that is met they pay almost all the costs. We also have copays per treatment of $5 to $20 depending on doctor, specialist, hospital, etc.

  19. Your 2019 trip sounds great! We really enjoyed Hanoi and Cat Ba if you want to extend the itinerary 🙂

  20. Hi Justin,

    I have never commented on here before (I don’t think) but I have followed you for a long time. I enjoy your articles and wanted to ask you if I may link to your posts on my blog aggregator website The Bloggers Digest (it’s not yet live, but I am developing it). I imagine it as a place for people to discover new blogs and subject-specific content. The link would feature a thumbnail, title, and sometimes up to a 150 character description (usually first sentence or so of post) – it would always open to the article on ROG and credit ROG or specific author name which links to ROG main page.

    Please let me know. I have also sent you a private email. Thanks!

    1. It depends on what you’re doing exactly. If it’s a link to my site and it opens up my site when clicked on, that’s fine. If it’s scraping data from my page and/or opening in an i-frame at your site and modifying my content then that’s not fine. 🙂

      1. Hi 🙂 I do not host or modify the content. I don’t know what an I-frame is but the links always open to your site. I think it would be extremely bad if they didn’t!

        If you are curious what the site looks like right now I can send you a password for you to take a look or some screenshots.


  21. Hey you’re headed to our turf in 2019, how exciting! We’re based in Singapore and while it would have been easy-peasy for us to head over to any of your planned destinations for a meet up (a bit presumptuous that you’d be open to meeting haha!), we’re planning our mini retirement trial run holiday next year starting May. We have 1 way tix booked as well!

  22. Hi Justin,
    I love your blog! It’s one of my favourite FIRE blogs and I much enjoy your articles and your photos. What I like best about travelling is discovering local history & architecture, food and nature. So I much enjoy reading about your travels. Just a little note on those beautiful shells you collected in the Bahamas, it’s best to return them to the ocean before returning home as they play a vital role in the local ecosystem. There are various studies that explain why. Here’s an extract from one such study:
    A little something to consider in your future family travels 🙂
    I love ornithology as a hobby, so I much enjoy seeing your beautiful birds in your backyard, you have a lovely home!
    Take care

    1. I don’t think we made a major impact on the seashell counts in our isolated beach area. There is a 1/2 mile of undeveloped beach and only 20 condos (half of them empty) with usually just us or 1 other family on the beach. I can see the destruction if 10000 people visit a beach in a month but ours probably had 10 or maybe 100 (there was a public access a half mile away and sometimes they walked toward our area).

  23. Do you feel at all conflicted about using AirBnB? A lot of cities in the US and Europe are cracking down on short term rentals. Too many and they destroy the “neighbor” in “neighborhoods”. Plus they take rental units off the market for locals. OTOH kitchens…bedrooms…space…cheaper.

    I’ve never had occasion to use them (no kids so hotels generally work fine) but have a group trip coming next year where AirBnb will come up as an option. Moral dilemma or not my problem? I’m curious about your take.

    1. It doesn’t bother me at all. Many times we’re staying in locals’ apartments that they rent out when they’re on vacation (happened in Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Podkoren Slovenia and other places). Other times the owners used to live in the apartment or they live downstairs or next door (much like a traditional BnB) – Koblenz, Ljubljana, Milan, Prague off the top of my head.

      And then there are the places like the Bahamas where we were staying in a tourist-oriented condo. About a third of the building was “locals” and by locals I mean people not from the Bahamas that had moved there some time ago or that’s their 2nd home and they live there part of the year.

      There were only a few places we’ve stayed where we were living in what was most likely a business Airbnb where someone bought the place to make big $$ and rent it out. Maybe we ruined the local area a bit but from what I could tell those tend to be either few and far between (in a residential area like a couple miles out in Lisbon and I doubt that more than 1 in 1000 nearby apartments were Airbnb) or it’s located in a tourist area already ruined by tourists (Venice, I’m looking at you!).

      So overall I’m not conflicted a bit. We try to be respectful of our neighbors and surroundings and definitely enjoy “going local” when we can.

  24. Hey Justin- I saw that you guys made salmon sushi. I am a Raleigh resident and I was wondering where do you guys buy sushi-grade seafood around here? I suppose it is not at a regular grocery store. Do you get a pretty good deal on it?

    1. I don’t eat it but Mrs. Root of Good does. We get the regular sushi at the grocery store. So far no illness from consuming it. Cost is usually $6-8/lb. We used to buy it at Kroger as that seemed to be the highest quality but they are closed right now (or within a few days). Aldi was where we got it most recently but it was a huge 2-3 lb slab! That took Mrs. RoG all week to eat in sushi. She rinsed it and dried it each day and it didn’t go bad or get fishy smelling.

  25. Great article. We loved Siem Reap as well —also almost all of Southeast Asia offers fantastic opportunities to experience everything from food to travel to entertainment. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Regarding Personal Capital: Are you not concerned about confidentiality of your net worth and other financial information? That would seem to be a major concern to me…

    1. Not that much. They have industry standard security measures and encryption. Similar risks to any org that possesses our data. Good to consider that angle though.

  27. I have just found your site and I am truly intrigued. My husband is 50 and I am 51 and we hope to retire in about 2 years. I haven’t done all my reading here- so I apologize if this is out there somewhere on your site- but specifically how do you use your investments to pay your monthly bills. 1. Do you set up automatic monthly withdrawals from your investment accounts? Are any of these investments 401Ks or 403Bs where you are paying penalties and fees for the early withdrawals? 2. Is any of your portfolio real estate rental/property income. 3. Is the equity value of your house and life insurance included in your net worth- or only specifically financial investments? Thx! Gail

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Here’s the details:
      1. We withdraw dividends quarterly from our taxable brokerage account (we’re all in mutual funds and ETFs that pay once per quarter or once per year typically). We get a small amount of interest monthly and spend that. Otherwise it’s a little here a little there to fund our overall expenses. This blog ended up making a good chunk of change and that covers a big part of expenses some months.

      We pay no penalties – big taxable brokerage account helps. Plus we’re doing Roth IRA Conversion Ladder to avoid 10% penalties in our 40’s and 50’s. I also have a 457 account from when I worked for the State of NC. It allows withdrawals penalty free at any age!

      2. We own no real estate directly. We do have 10% of our investments in Real Estate Index funds (REITs).

      3. 90% of net worth is our investments. The other 10% is our house (worth around $200k at this point). I include everything in my reported net worth here.

  28. Hi Justin,
    Big follower of this blog. And really appreciate how you enjoy your life now after FIRE. Have a question for you. My husband is burned out in his current job but too worried to retire for health insurance reasons. We are currently healthy and in our 40s. But he is worried all our savings will be wiped out if something major happens or if we have to pay through the nose for health insurance premiums. We currently pay around 850$ premium for a very lousy plan through the marketplace. No subsidies because of income…

    Do you have any pointers for us? I can’t see my husband suffer like this at work even with a net worth of 2.5M including our primary residence valued at 250k. Please help reassure us. We have a child going to college soon.

    Thanks much,


      1. Yes, if income dropped we could qualify. I will take a look at your article. But with current move to repeal ACA, not sure what will happen come 2019…thanks.

  29. Thank you for the quick response. Through my husbands job (Verizon) and my job (A town position) we have a 401K’s through Mass Mutual and Fidelity. They have done well but we will be subject to withdrawal penalties prior to age 59.5- hence our concern with how to fund ourselves for the gap years from retirement (maybe age 52/53)to 59.5. I am eligible to start receiving my pension at age 55- and my husband plans to take a buyout instead of his pension and roll it into something. In the past year we invested some additional savings with UBS, through a broker, and have not been happy with the return at all. We’ve made…..are your ready??…… .4 (Yes- POINT 4!) YTD. I would love to put some money in a EFT or Mutual fund, although to be honest I know very little about investing on my own (but learning!). Do you have a broker- or do you invest on your own? Can you recommend a specific EFT or Mutual fund? Being two years from retirement makes it seem scary to take any chances on our money. But getting ready to maybe take a leap on my own…

    1. Check out Bogleheads.org. They have a good FAQ to get you started in the world of DIY investing. It doesn’t have to be hard. Vanguard, for example, has many excellent low cost index funds with a low expense ratio (something you should look for). A “Total Market Index” fund of some sort would be a good first start.

      I DIY and buy my own ETFs and mutual funds FYI.

  30. It’s been 18 years since I was in Thailand, but you should check out the ruins at Sukhothai or Si Satchanalai since you’ll be up north.

    In Bangkok, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha on the grounds of the Grand Palace is something to see. The street food is excellent as well.

    In the south I took a boat from Phuket to the Phi Phi Islands and then on to Krabi. Absolutely gorgeous.

  31. What I really like about this site (among other things) is the fact that you provide specifics – real expenses – real income – real numbers. Thank you for this.

  32. Hey Justin, love your posts and refer to them regularly. My wife and I are en route to “FI” and draw constant encouragement from your blog. Also, we actually started using Personal Capital because of you and love it. Thanks for putting out such great content and please keep it coming!

  33. Woohoo, SE Asia! Eat everything and get lots of massages! (Only in Thailand though, the masseuses in other SE Asian countries aren’t as good).

    Congrats on another excellent month!

    1. Oh snap, now U junk talking Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam etc?! 😉

      You’ve just named half of our to do list. Eat everything and get massages. Also on the list are see temples and pet elephants.

  34. I honestly do not know if I am angry (at myself) or just god damn impressed with this! These numbers are amazing, I thought I was jealous when I saw the twitter updates lol

  35. Great post as usual!!
    Would you consider listing your asset allocation in the monthly reports ?
    Also, my daughter lived in Vietnam for a semester – I will ask her for suggestions.

  36. I new to your site and have been enjoying going through various posts. I have a question about how you budget for things like braces for your kids (only a year had past when unexpectedly I was told my youngest needed them starting the next month!). And this month, our dryer died (we’ve been using the clothes line until the labor day sales), my son had to have xrays and see an orthopedist due to something found in his yearly checkup and I found a weird mole thing, so need to head to the dermatologist to get a skin cancer check. Not to mention the dentist telling me I need a partial crown (for an old filling) to the tune of $650 (I managed to push that one to January so it can be covered by FSA but still!). We have an emergency fund, but I usually just cash flow things like things like this and put less into our future car and travel savings, etc. Granted, this seems to be a lot happening all at once and frankly, biting into travel that we had planned for next year. I don’t feel any of this is ’emergency’ fund worthy, but then, I loathe to ditch travel also. Do others have a ‘life slush’ fund for things that come up/break? Or is that what the ’emergency’ fund is meant for? I usually think of that more in terms of if employment was lost or in the case of an accident or something. I am interested how others would handle this and how you would also (now and before your ‘retirement’). Thanks!

    1. I budget in a lot of those unexpected expenses. Housing budget gets periodic replacement appliances in there (not every year but routinely over the course of their normal lifespan). Dental gets bumped up to include a few fillings or a crown (we paid out of pocket for 3 fillings this year already!). Same for medical – expect a couple of “unexpected” doc visits so budget for those copays/deductibles.

  37. Hi, just stumbled upon your blog. We just retired at 43 with one kid age 4. I see how your cell phone bill is so low (we have a single one between the two us and pay $300 a year). We also have HOA and huge property tax in VA because we love his private school (for now).

    Does your insurance listed above include home and car?
    And taxes include property tax for home and car?
    But I don’t see internet listed?
    Don’t you have umbrella insurance?
    What about things like photo storage, safe deposit box (for peace of mind?).

    Health insurance is what is killing us. Truly. Need to work on keeping that income low.

    Thanks for such an inspiring blog. Good luck!

    1. I think I paid home and car insurance in May or June (about $1300/yr total). I dropped umbrella this year but carry high limits on home and auto.

      Taxes on home are paid in December or January (usually $1600). Car taxes are about $100 and paid in March with our annual registration.

      Internet is monthly $15. I must have paid it twice in June or August which is why it didn’t show up in July.

      We don’t pay for photo storage (it’s all backed up online through Google Drive for free). No safe deposit box (not sure what we would store in there!). I sleep pretty well at night unless I have a lot of coffee 🙂

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