June 2020 Financial Update

I can’t believe it is the middle of summer already. I just saw next week’s sales paper advertising back to school supplies! Is August really just around the corner? Time flies when you’re having fun, right? 

We have been busy with home-based activities for the most part since our big summer travel plans were wrecked this year. It’s usually hot most days so we try to get outside during the morning and evening when the weather is more bearable. In the middle of the day we have plenty of indoors activities to keep us entertained. I’ve been engrossed in a new (to me) computer game for the past few weeks. 

Between fun pastimes, routine chores, and small projects around the house, summer has been fulfilling. Although we love to travel, this is a nice forced break from our normally busy summer schedule of full time travel. 

Financially speaking, June was a good month for us. Our net worth climbed $41,000 to end the month at $2,063,000. Income was relatively decent at $6,244 while our expenses came in well below budget at $2,311 for the entire month. 

Let’s jump into the details from last month.

 

Income

Investment income totaled $3,518 in June. Our equity index funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December with some payments arriving at the beginning of the next month. For the first week of July we have already received an additional $4,000 in dividends so it’s looking like the second quarter dividends payments are doing very well! Here’s more on our dividend investments.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, totaled $1,799 for the month which was slightly higher than last month. That’s not bad at all given how infrequently I post these days. 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $673 for the month of June which represents five hours of consulting. After dropping to almost nothing in March, my consulting business is slowly recovering as the stock market recovers and people focus once again on early retirement. 

The “deposit income” totaled $252. The biggest chunk of this money was $200 from Natural Light. Yes, the beer that’s popular among cash strapped college students. They had a promotion where you mail them your college diploma and they mail you a check for $100. They plan to use the diplomas for an upcoming marketing campaign.

Mrs. Root of Good and I both mailed in our diplomas and we both got PAID! We still haven’t received our diplomas back but did I mentioned we got PAID?! 

 

toys on floor
My kids are side hustling. They got paid $20 to put this toy together and document it for a neighbor (and her grandkid). And one kid mowed the neighbor’s lawn for $40!

 

In other “deposit” income I got a random $14 refund from my auto insurance company that reflects their lower than average claims history during the spring months when people weren’t driving as much. I like free money (even if it’s just giving me back my own money). 

Rounding out the random free money we received, I snagged a $3 refund from Chase Offers for shopping at Food Lion (our neighborhood grocery store). I don’t pay a lot of attention to these offers in general but I happened to catch this one. 

We also received $35 that came from cash back and incentive bonuses 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. 

 

 

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.

 

 

Expenses

Now let’s take a look at June expenses:

 


 

In total, we spent $2,311 during June which is about $1,000 less than our regularly budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year). Insurance and healthcare costs topped the spending categories for the month. 

 

Detailed breakdown of spending:

 

Insurance – $890:

Our annual home insurance bill totaled $618. Our six month auto policy premium totaled $247 for two drivers plus a teen on a learner’s permit. The teen added no cost to the policy (for now). 

Farm Bureau, our insurance company, also charges a $25 per year membership fee. Overall they are still the lowest priced insurer that I’ve found. 

 

Healthcare/Medical – $539:

Our 2020 healthcare premiums are $123 per month thanks to very generous Affordable Care Act subsidies that we receive due to our low ~$40,000 per year Adjusted Gross Income. The benefit of being “poor” on our tax return. 

I have been paying $19 per month for my monthly dental insurance premiums for 2020. Mrs. Root of Good found out she needed some dental work done soon, so we bought a policy from the same insurer for her for $45 per month with higher coverage amounts. There is no waiting period on basic services so we are hoping the insurance will pay almost $1,000 for Mrs. Root of Good’s upcoming procedure. 

It’s been a rough month for dental care. I had to get a few cavities filled. Fortunately I bought dental insurance this year. I calculated that the insurance would be cheaper than paying cash for two regular cleanings and exams plus one set of x-rays. The few hundred dollars saved on fillings makes this insurance an even better deal! My out of pocket copays for the fillings totaled $352. These were the first fillings I have needed in many years so I guess I was due for some patching up. 

 

birthday cake
Does turning 40 mean we start falling apart? Oh no!

 

Taxes – $300:

Our quarterly estimated state income tax payment. 

 

Groceries – $286:

Grocery expenses are much lower than normal. I used some Walmart and Amazon gift cards that I bought in previous months to offset some of June’s grocery expenses. 

We consumed a lot of the supplies we accumulated during the spring as the pandemic took off. As it turns out, food supply interruptions were pretty minimal and it’s back to usual for the most part. Except we still can’t find our regular toilet paper and napkins at Lidl.

 

Chicken and cucumber salad
Mrs Root of Good’s handiwork – Laotian style chicken plus cucumber salad with a side of rice.

 

Ban Xeo
Good eats courtesy of the in-laws. Our kids helped make these while visiting with their aunties just up the street.

 

egg rolls
More food from the in-laws. They made egg rolls and had to give us a “few”. Sooo good!

 

My craftsmanship – pad thai! I tried the wider “large” size 5 mm rice noodles and it turned out really well.

 

Utilities – $163:

The city water, sewer, and trash bill was $138 for June. 

The natural gas bill (for the water heater and furnace) totaled $26 for the month. 

In February I paid $602 for electricity which left us with a huge credit balance. I still have about $150 of that credit on the account right now but that will undoubtedly get used up in a month or two since we are staying at home all summer.

The electric utility charges a $1.50 convenience fee to use a credit card so I usually charge a big lump sum at one time so that the convenience fee is negligible as a percentage of the payment. These big payments help me hit credit card minimum spending requirements for new sign up bonuses too. 

If you want to score free travel or big cash back 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 and cash back credit card deals

 

Charitable Giving – $50:

We gave $50 to a GoFundMe for our son’s classmate. The kid needed surgery out of state for a severe ongoing medical condition and the parents don’t have a lot of resources on their own. So we chipped in a little bit to help offset lost wages from missing work during the trip and the direct expenses of traveling up the east coast and staying in a hotel for a week. 

 

Gasoline – $31:

I think the last time we bought gas was in March. The minivan was down to a quarter of a tank near the end of June. Fill ‘er up!  I suppose we’ll have to get gas again around September. 

 

Boylan Bridge
We took several trips around town chasing down good sunset locations. Here is the Boylan Bridge in Raleigh looking over the railroad tracks.

 

Home Maintenance – $30:

$28 for a replacement burner element for our glass cooktop in the kitchen. I decided to save money and buy a used replacement part off of ebay. The part was selling for $150 brand new so it seemed like a good gamble to buy something used that might last 5-10+ years. If the replacement part dies before the cooktop dies, I’ll just spend another $28 on a new replacement element.

Swapping out the burner element is pretty simple. It only requires a screw driver and a set of pliers (and turning the circuit breaker off before commencing work!). 

I also spent $2 on a gallon of gas for the lawn mower. That should last us for the next couple of months.

 

wood chips
We ordered a huge 20 cubic yard load of wood chips for free. This little mountain is about two thirds of it. The other third got dumped in the front yard.

 

Cable/Satellite – $18:

We pay $18 per month for a local reduced rate package due to having a lower income and having kids. 30 mbit/s download, 4 mbit/s upload.

 

Travel – $6:

I paid our state income taxes with a credit card and the convenience fee works out to 2% of the amount paid. I get a lot of airline and hotel miles from credit card sign up bonuses so I consider the extra expense to pay with a credit card as a “travel” expense. 

 

Total Spending for 2020 – Year to Date

 

 

Half way through 2020, our spending totals $15,225 for the year. This is almost $4,800 less than the $20,000 we budgeted for six months of our $40,000 annual early retirement budget

The year is turning out to be a little more expensive than I thought it would be. We spent $3,700 in May on a new tankless water heater. That expense wasn’t totally unanticipated but the cost was a bit higher than I was expecting. It’s working well so far so we are happy. And that’s what we saved our money for – paying for comfort and convenience. 

During June and July we will end up spending around $2,500 on various dental procedures and office visits for the two adults in the household. Our dental insurance should pay close to half of that expense for us. In any event, this will be an expensive year for dental care.

The higher home maintenance and dental costs will be offset by lower travel spending. Our travel spending will be close to zero for 2020 because we have cancelled two cruises and our entire 8 week trip through South America. We have been able to receive a promise of a refund on all the canceled lodging, fights, and cruise fare but getting the money in our hands is taking a very long time.

So far so good though! We cancelled eight airbnbs in South America and got a 100% refund on all of those even though four of them had a “strict” cancellation policy that stated we would only get a 50% refund. Since I was cancelling a couple months ahead of time, the hosts were okay refunding in full since they could potentially re-rent the properties. 

In other travel news, we planned on visiting Spain for two weeks in October. It looks almost certain that we will have to cancel this trip given European travel restrictions for Americans. We have until the end of July to cancel the flights for free so we will make a decision in the next few weeks. 

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2020:

 

Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:

 

We’re enjoying the laid back low cost lazy summer over here.

 

The mimosa flowers are in bloom…

 

And the beavers are busy building onto their dam in the lake.

 

 

Net Worth: $2,063,000 (+$41,000)

June left us a bit wealthier than we were in May with a solid $41,000 gain. The month started out really well and we saw an almost $150,000 jump in our portfolio in the first week of June! It settled back down by month end to leave us with $2,063,000 in net worth. I include the portfolio value plus the paid off house value in the net worth calculation.

 

 

I didn’t make any investment moves in June other than watch all those quarterly dividend payments roll into our accounts. That’s the way passive investments should be! 

 

Keeping our hummingbirds well fed.

 

Life update

We’re trucking right along over here at the Root of Good house. Everyone remains in good spirits. Except our super bored eight year old. But there is nothing anyone can do to alleviate his suffering!  

This pandemic really messed up our normal summer routine. But I like to remain optimistic. We have a (paid off) roof over our heads, plenty of food on the table, and an ample supply of money to make life comfortable and entertaining. Unless you are eight and super bored! 

Mentally, I’ve come to accept the uncertain future. In terms of traveling, I don’t know when we will be able to do any big trips overseas again. 2021 perhaps? 

In terms of schooling, there is still a huge question mark for the August return to school. The school district moved up the first day of school to August 17th. We are less than six weeks away at this point. They just announced the official reopening plan last week.

 

Teachers from our kid’s school showed up to celebrate her graduation from 8th grade and moving up to high school!

 

Per the school district, the plan is to have a third of each school attend for one week. Then that third stays at home for two weeks for distance education. During week two, the next third of the school goes to class once the first group rotates to distance ed at home. Then the final third goes to class during week 3 (after the first 2 weeks of doing distance ed at home). Week 4 starts the whole cycle over. 

It’s an interesting concept that could certainly help reduce the spread of the virus. But as our local case counts keep on rising I don’t see how any schools here will be able to reopen and have a chance at remaining infection free for long. 

The district also offers a parallel education in the form of a fully remote “Virtual Academy”. We can sign up for a semester or the whole year. Since both of us parents are at home all the time anyway, this fully remote option is certainly tempting in terms of reliability, health, and safety. We haven’t seen a lot of info about any of our options yet. Now it’s time to play the waiting game.

It’s a lot to think about. This is another time when I’m very glad that we chose the route of early retirement. Having two full time stay at home parents makes the decision to go with the safer fully remote option a lot easier. Most parents don’t have the lifestyle flexibility that we do. 

 

Another sunset to close out another peaceful day in paradise.

 

Regardless of which schooling path we choose, we will make the most of the experience. Life goes on, and we’ll keep on making the choices that make the most sense for our family. 

Well folks, that’s it for this month’s update from Root of Good. Hope to see you again next month! 

 

How is your summer going? Keeping busy and staying cool? 

 

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64 comments

  1. (paraphrased): “So we sold our diplomas to a beer company…” If this isn’t a sign for the end of times I don’t know what is! Haha…

    Your school’s plan sounds interesting. Here in VT our new cases are currently under control so the plan is to pretty much open as usual come fall. Time will tell…

    What’s your old/new game that’s sucked you in?

    1. But they gave us a hundred bucks! ha ha End times for sure!

      The game is about 5 years old. Ark: Survival Evolved. Basically “minecraft but with much better graphics and with dinosaurs”. Sounds silly but it’s pretty engrossing. Nice open world environment to explore and pretty suspenseful. Imagine being in a dark jungle environment scavenging for survival then you hear a T Rex stomping up behind you and scaring the crap out of you as you choose to fight or run. And get disoriented because of all the trees and how dark it is. 🙂

  2. Hi RoG,
    I enjoyed your laid back update, per usual. You have so many wonderful travel experiences in the memory bank. Another reminder to “Seize the day”. I really feel for my US friends who were planning to come visit me in Germany this summer, after 20 (!) years of promising. They would have come last year, 2019, finally, but they weren’t able to get as many consecutive weeks off then as they would be entitled to this year, so decided to postpone a year to make the most of it…. oh man I hope I see them here in 2021.

    1. Yes, we are VERY glad that we’ve taken all the trips we did in hindsight. I definitely would have regretted it if we were “waiting for the perfect moment” to take some of the trips. It would have been easy to say “hey let’s wait till the kids are older” but there are pros and cons to that line of thinking. We did what we could when we could and now we’re adapting the best we can. I also know that as I get older I’ll probably have less energy to do these bold trips around the world so I’m indulging now while I have the energy and $$$!!

  3. Can you please expand on the blog income? Is it ads or something else? Thanks
    I really like your dividend income.. I need to educate myself on it
    Great post as usual

    1. Ads, affiliate income (if people sign up for some credit cards or Personal Capital for example). Also buy stuff through any amazon link I have on here.

  4. Being 40 does not mean you start falling apart. I am in my 60’s, but I am in better shape now than I was in my 40’s. I have less stress now and more time for exercise. Of course I was still working at 40, but I am retired now. All the more reason to FIRE.

    1. Ha ha yeah I’m mostly joking. I’m probably in better shape today vs 15 years ago when still working. Lots more exercise. More time to focus on good eating (and have time to prep better foods). Also much less stress due to no job!

  5. Thank you for sharing – I love seeing how life is unfolding in early retirement. It looks like y’all are killing it per usual and all that food made me drool. I am indeed keeping busy and staying cool. Work has been a nightmare, but the end is in sight 😉 so I’m trying to keep that perspective. It’s been an unusually cool summer in Seattle that’s made me wonder if we even need the AC unit we bought a few years ago. Otherwise, this month I’m trying to get rid of all my stuff so we can begin nomad life in August. It’s about to get wild!

    1. Very cool – looking forward to your official launch very very soon! Exciting times! More exciting if that passport you have could actually get you somewhere! 😉

  6. Also, regarding cavities, you might want to look into sealants. I am in my 60’s but i still get sealants on my back teeth. I have not had a cavity since my teens. I just brush my teeth daily, avoid sweets, and use a flouride rinse daily.

    1. My dentist says I have “deep grooves”. I think that is where the cavities have formed. I had sealants but they didn’t last long. Now I guess I have sealants of a new kind!

  7. I love your monthly updates! Thanks for sharing. I don’t see Charity listed as one of your reoccurring monthly line items. I apologize if I missed that. I did see your one time GoFundMe donation in June. Do you give money on a regular basis? Can you please share you philosophy on regular charitable giving given your high net worth? I completely understand that it is a personal, individual decision. I am starting to notice on several FI sites that share monthly expenses that charitable giving seems to be missing completely or is an incredibly small percentage of monthly expenses. I also understand that people do decide to give in other ways such as time and talent. In this country that is currently stressing inequity and specifically the government’s role of giving more to people, I’m trying to wrap my head around the role of government versus individuals giving money to help people. If the government gives more, that most likely will increase taxes on those still in the wealth building phase and not those in the lower draw down phase and that is starting to seem inequitable to me, especially if those already at FIRE aren’t contributing individually and are paying low or no taxes. Thank you for your insight and helping me understand better.

    1. My philosophy is that I’m okay with anyone giving any amounts they want to anyone they want to. 🙂

      We admittedly don’t give a lot right now. Part of the reason is that it’s very expensive for us to get access to our money right now since most is in retirement accounts. We would lose most of what we would give to taxes. In the future it will be possible to essentially avoid taxes by making charitable contributions directly through our RMDs from our IRAs. Better to give 100% vs 40-60% of each dollar we designate for charity.

      Although I’m fine with anyone giving anything they want to anyone. As long as no one places a requirement on me that we have to give a certain amount (beyond the taxes I owe that are legislated by our lawmakers).

            1. We would definitely have fed income tax, state income tax, and phase out of ACA subsidy so effectively 30%+ tax rate (even without considering loss of other deductions as income goes up). And long term the tax deferral on the funds with the IRA is beneficial too.

  8. Alright, what’s the computer game? 🙂

    “Mrs. Root of Good and I both mailed in our diplomas and we both got PAID! We still haven’t received our diplomas back but did I mentioned we got PAID?!”

    I assumed you meant a copy or digital scan… are you saying you mailed in your originals? 😀

    Sure is nice to have those dividends pile up, we started reporting ours this month, too.

    Hope the schooling changes workout. Let us know how things shake out in the August update!

    And hopefully, 40 doesn’t mean fall apart time–it’s not far off!–though you’re handling that fully shaved look well!

    1. Ark: Survival Evolved is the game. It was free on the Epic store earlier this summer. Good time suck 🙂

      As for the diploma – we mailed in the originals! Maybe we lose them but they are just the pieces of paper. We can always pay to replace them (and I think the company will reimburse us). No biggie – mine were sitting in the bedroom closet anyway.

  9. Our kids just started camp. We haven’t had many cases in our county and Rhode Island is doing well in general. As long as camp goes well, we think we’ll have school at the school. It’s still going to be weird though.

    I hope you have better luck with the dental stuff in the future. We usually have one or two big surprise expenses, so it makes it easier to just plan for “something” to happen and then be happy if it doesn’t.

    1. Sounds good in your area! We’ve had several city camps and the Y camp that had cases within the first week of commencing operations. Then they have to shut down, notify everyone, and quarantine the exposed campers away from camp for 14 days before they can return. I feel like going back to school would have a similar level of disruptions too. But at least with the “1 week on, 2 weeks off” rotation, everyone will be accustomed to remote learning so cancelling school wouldn’t be as huge an interruption compared to last year.

      Can’t complain too much on the dental front. I had a couple of questionable spots on my teeth for a decade on the dentist’s watch list. It was finally time to get those patched up (and especially since I had insurance). Hopefully I’m good for another 10 years! And Mrs. Root of Good’s procedure is to fix something that she had done 12 years ago, so pretty decent longevity between procedures too. And this dental insurance looks like it’ll save us quite a bit in the next 12 months (it’s already paid for my 12 months of premiums in my case and I still get a free $150+ cleaning/exam/x-ray in the fall too!).

  10. Hello!

    Thanks for the update. What do you do with your “leftover” income for the month? Does it go into an Emergency fund, get reinvested at some point, something else? With the quarterly dividends, do you just leave them in your investment account, put them in a high yield savings, something else? I haven’t gone back and looked at your other articles yet, but going to check out the insurance one now. Trying to understand how the cash flow works. Thanks!

    1. I basically leave the excess cash in my accounts during the year and let it accumulate. Then I make a big solo 401k contribution at tax time that eats up most of the excess cash (and sometimes I even have to sell some investments to fund the whole solo 401k contribution!). My goal is to keep around $20k in cash/savings/money market at any given time.

  11. A friend once told me that there is a price to pay for everything.

    I enjoy reading your blog and it allows me to reflect back on what I didn’t do to prepare better for retirement. I’ve always been good with a little emergency savings but after that I blow every dime I make. I’m 54 now and look back at what I spent my money on. Houses, boats, rv’s, dirt bikes, toys, raising kids, 50 different hobbies and domestic traveling. Never did like international travel. Many of my relatives told me to save more for my later years. I totally disregarded that advice. Now that those same relatives are older they are telling me that my spending habits are right on the mark. Basically slide into home penniless. It’s the code for awesome life. We taught our kids to do the same. Now that we are getting older, there is no desire to spend money. But once again, I really enjoy reading what other folks do to find their happy place. Very positive reading. Thanks

    1. Hey, as long as you always have “enough” and don’t mind working for more then that’s an okay approach too! From my point of view I like having a bit more than enough vs. not quite enough. Now we are open to spending more $$$ since the “more than enough” keeps on growing.

    1. Nice! Sounds like they won’t return the diplomas for many more months. I’m okay with that. Not really using my old Spanish degree anyway 😉 I didn’t send them one of the good degrees!

  12. I would sell my diplomas for $100 😂unfortunately they burned in house fire😕.

    Our totally have been running very similar. We do insurance a teen driver, but he drives to work and they feed him so it probably a good trade.

    1. That’s my perspective – if I lost my diplomas to the beer company that’s renting them, then I don’t think I would be too heart broken. I can always order a replacement but as it was, they were just sitting in their frames in my closet (I packed them all up 7 years ago as I left my work office for good and haven’t really thought about them very much).

  13. I love your updates! We are in Germany and we are out of the lockdown but still need to wear masks indoors (stores, doctor offices, queues, etc.). I’m furloughed but gratefully at 90 % take-home pay, so I enjoy the summer with our children. School starts here in September and our oldest is gonna be a first-grader. So I hope the virus won’t surge a second time over here, but if it does I know I wont be back working and my husband can work from his homeoffice. Still, we craving our normal pre-covid life.

  14. I always enjoy your updates & photos of places and food since I like to cook good food myself. My husband and I are also torn between whether or not to home-school our 3rd grade kid 100% or 2 days in person per week. Our 8 years old girl is also super bored at home although we try to take her to parks for biking, friends’ pool (when owners are out of town!) & hiking once per week. But still not enough activities for her. One question: Is your $2 mil net worth included a house equity & college funds?

  15. Your cost of living is so low for the QOL. It’s amazing.
    I don’t think school can open safely in 6 weeks. Teachers, staff, and kids will get sick and they’ll have to shut down. It’s gonna be ugly.

  16. Hey Justin,

    Does that net worth $2M include the home equity or home value (paid off house)?

    if not, how do you treat that wealth specially if it’s a big chunk of your financial picture. Do you just carve it out of your financial accounting mentally? How do you handle that?

    Mike G.

    1. The net worth total includes home equity (paid off house!). Home equity isn’t used in the “4% rule” calculations but a lower mortgage or a paid off house will lower your expenses long term. And if you ever plan on downsizing the housing you can use the equity or full value (if paid off) to make a really big down payment or just pay in cash on a new house.

  17. Where did you get the free wood chips?

    Do you and your wife have life insurance? I’m wondering if I should get a Term policy for when I quit my job to make it easier for my kids to get to the money if I pass.

    1. Chipdrop dot com is where we got the free wood chips. It took a while to get them to deliver and they usually don’t give a lot of warning so have your receiving area prepped and accessible (if you aren’t always at home like we are right now being retired and not able to travel!)

      As for life insurance, we haven’t had any since we hit FI and quit working. Accessing the $$ would be easy enough as we have several hundred thousand in taxable accounts and the kids would get hit with RMDs from the 401ks/IRAs anyway.

  18. Yes, things really start to fall apart at 40. 39.5 for me. But wait until you turn 50! It accelerates. Constant battle but beats the alternative.

    Our summer is not typical. We are working from home, kids are home. No summer camps. It’s weird. We don’t know yet what school plans are, but school starts Aug 18. It’s going to be decided July 21. We have increasing cases too. The hybrid model they are considering is splitting students into 2 groups and having them each be at school 2 days a week. It will make working hard – not so hard for the incoming HS kid, but the soon to be 3rd grader does not work independently.

    I miss travel. We don’t travel often, maybe 3x a year (spring break in March, 1-2 weeks summer, sometimes Thanksgiving or Christmas). I am SO GLAD we traveled last year (Julian CA in March, Denmark for 2 weeks in summer, Sequoia National Park Thanksgiving.) Because this year we didn’t travel at spring break (hadn’t planned to, then COVID). We had to cancel my 50th birthday trip to Hawaii (got AirBNB refund, but only airline credit). And…yeah. To compensate, I’ve been clocking in late on Tuesday mornings and taking my younger kid to the beach, when it’s not busy.

    Your meals look great. Our grocery bill is SO high because we are shopping at only a single store every week or two. No more comparison shopping. Also, my kids were getting free lunch at school. Turns out my teenage boy can EAT.

    Great job fixing the stovetop. Our oven has been limping along for almost a year. We have a broken element and a problem with the oven itself – probably the thermocouple. We had a guy out to check it out. The cost to fix was $350, and we only spent $399 on the thing when it was new. So…we suffer through with the oven (basically, sometimes it doesn’t heat to temp). We can replace the thermocouple eventually. It’s not an expensive part. The element though, well, it’s a gas oven. And it requires reconnecting to the gas connection on the stovetop. Most of the projected expense was due to that. I’m sad that we are missing the large burner. OTOH, it’s been since October…and we are doing fine.

    1. Rising 3rd grader here too. I understand the “not working independently” part 🙂 Hopefully 3rd grade will be a little easier than 2nd grade remote learning for you (and us!).

  19. Thanks for the monthly posting and really enjoy reading it every month. would you please comment on the health care: is it the affortable care? any detail or link for the post on this? Just wondering if it have similar program in CA.

  20. Looks like you guys are getting on fine (all things considered) at home!

    Who knows how long this is going to last, but I will say that introverts like myself have an easier time of it.

    Congrats on a great June!

  21. Love the update … and love that your kids are doing some side hustle. We just FIREd this year, and I want to teach our kids (9 and 7) about FIRE and side hustle during our unexpected COVID-19 City Schooling this Fall. Keep up the great posts!

  22. Hello Justin! I recently found your blog and have been catching up; I am really enjoying the content. I live just up the road in Asheboro, went to NCSU for a little while, and loved Raleigh! Good luck with the school decisions.

    Mark

  23. I wanted to personally thank you and your family for sharing all of your knowledge and experiences with money matters. I found your blog after reading FINANCIAL FREEDOM, Grant Sabatier. After a 29 active duty career in the U.S. Navy I never invested time into finances, thus did not have the savings that you and other Millennials have accumulated and thus retired early. I found myself retired at 50, thankfully with a pension and after adopting your financial lifestyle, I find myself and family happier than ever and for the first time controlling money vs. the other way around. The hardest concept for my wife and I was that we did not have to go back to work! (That is a hard concept for Gen Xers like me that were raised by parents who told use to get good jobs and work hard was the only way to succeed. Even today it is hard for my mother to conceive that we are not going to a 9 to 5 job and are raising 2 girls, at the beach, and doing well.) Again, thank you for taking the time to share your stories. I’m a firm believer in NOT reinventing the wheel, and you and others have laid a good path for others like me to follow. I guess I’m an example that it is never to late to find the Root of all Good! All my very best!
    Jeff

  24. Great monthly article as usual. I was wondering who you are getting your dental plan through? I have shopped dental plans in the past. But it seemed like the numbers did not work out. The monthly cost over the year was more (usually more) or equal to the cost of a one time office visit for a cleaning. And the plan would only cover one office visit for a cleaning per year.

  25. Been following this blog for awhile, I find it inspirational and educational as I work through the nuances of preparing for retirement. Thank you for sharing!

  26. Your monthly updates are very inspirational. Thank you for sharing your story with the world and giving hope to many. I want to grow in the stock market and just now have begun to explore this area. I have $300,000 total saved up. I want to be able to pay for my kids college and want to be able to have money for my retirement. I had to give up my corporate job to stay home with the kids ( 12 and 7 yr olds). Started some business, but that is slow to closed this year and the next. Need to commit to kids to help them with the virtual school this year.
    From what I am seeing, looks like the stock market is a great place to grow your wealth. This year I was thinking of investing my life savings of $300,000 in some good indexes and let it grow. I dont know how and which ones to pick. I was going through the list of all ETF’s on Vangaurd. I was looking into VGT, VOO, VUG, VOOG, MGK, VONG, VOT, VCR, VHT, QQQ
    If the goal is to make atleast 10% to 20% growth each year then what should be the strategy and where to invest money into?
    Also are indexes much safer than individual stocks?
    With the pandemic, is it a good idea to invest money now? or to sit on cash and wait for the market to crash/slow down this year end?
    Please advise and help me get started.

    1. I would check out the Bogleheads guide to getting started investing (they have a FAQ at their website or check out the book in my “recommended” page).

      As for all of those ETFs, the “total market index” or SP500 index funds are probably the “safest” historically. Growth expectations of 10% is probably the high side. 20% is unrealistic in any stock investment long term.

      I have no clue which way stocks are going considering the pandemic. I am shocked honestly that we are floating around all time highs instead of being down 20-30% for the year!

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