November 2018 Financial Update – Winter is Coming!

Ok, folks. 2018 is rapidly coming to a close. We’ve had a busy year and 2019 will be no different. I’m not sure how I ever had time for anything fun when I was working 40 hours per week!

Looking back on November’s finances, it was a month of holding steady. Out net worth remained the same at $1,988,000. It was a good month of income with $4,173. Our expenses remained moderate at $2,846. In financial terms we’re just fine even though we are still about $50,000 below our year end 2017 net worth of $2,037,000.  

Now let’s take a look at the financial details of November.

 

Income

Investment income totaled $430 in November. The $430 came from our bond funds, CDs, and money market accounts. Our equity mutual funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly in March, June, September, and December.  As a result November was a low month for investment income as expected. December is usually the largest month of the year by far thanks to year-end dividends. More on our dividend income.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, totaled $2,701 for the month of November. Another great month for the blog in spite of the fact that I haven’t spent much time writing new articles.  Sorry folks, I’ve been busy having fun! 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) climbed from a big fat $0 in October to $611 in November.  That represents five hours of consulting spread across a few different clients. It’s always interesting talking to people on the path to FIRE and seeing where they are going and what they have left to do before calling it quits. 

Deposit income of $430 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.

 

Expenses

Now let’s take a look at November expenses:

 

In total, we spent $2,846 during November which is roughly $500 less than our target spending of $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year).  Top expenses for November were once again travel and groceries which has been the case for the past several months as we saw in JulyAugustSeptember, and October expense reports.  Gotta eat and travel, right? 

 

Detailed breakdown of spending:

 

Travel – $1,401:

We’ve been cranking up the travel planning for our upcoming trip to Southeast Asia in summer of 2019. We spent $820 at Raise.com to buy $900 worth of Airbnb gift cards. 

We’ll be spending eight weeks in Southeast Asia and most of the time we’ll be renting Airbnbs by the week.

Save $40 off your first Airbnb stay with my airbnb referral link.

I found a good sale on flights within Southeast Asia on AirAsia. I booked two flights for the five of us:

  • Siem Reap, Cambodia to Chiang Mai, Thailand
  • Chiang Rai, Thailand to Bangkok, Thailand

The total for all ten tickets was $391 including some upgrades to reserve specific seats so our six year old will have a guaranteed seat next to one of us. We’re still debating our luggage carrying plans, as checked luggage costs about $20 extra per flight, so these tickets may grow slightly more expensive. 

I think that will be all the plane tickets we will buy in Southeast Asia. Travel between other cities on our itinerary will be mostly 3-4 hours apart by bus or chauffeured minivan (or possibly ferry!), so flights make a lot less sense logistically. 

Rounding out our traveling spending was a pair of $95 annual fees on our new his and hers Chase Ink Preferred business cards. We will each get 80,000 Ultimate Reward Points from these cards once the minimum spending requirement is met. 80,000 UR points are worth at least $1,000 when redeemed for travel. I categorize credit card annual fees as travel expenses because they allow us to get high value credit card bonuses that offset quite a bit of travel spending we would otherwise incur. 

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.

 

Groceries – $417:

A fairly routine month for groceries. Since Lidl opened a year ago the grocery prices in the area have plummeted due to the strong competition. Right now I’m watching four different stores compete to sell me the cheapest milk in town. They drop prices a penny at a time. Aldi is winning with $1.83 for a gallon of whole milk. Next month it might be $1.80!!! 

 

Butter chicken curry. Plus tofu! I use Kitchens of India Butter Chicken Curry paste (about $2 per packet)

 

We made spring rolls and invited some friends over to enjoy them.

 

Then we played at the school’s new outdoor music garden (a work in progress).

 

Gifts – $360:

About $250 of the gift spending is for a few dozen toys and gadgets for our own kids and kids of family and friends. We found several good deals over the Black Friday weekend and bought some “generic” toys for our kids to gift at birthday parties they get invited to throughout the year.

I also spent $107 for a brand new Moto G6 phone for our thirteen year old (shhhh… it’s a Christmas present; I hope she doesn’t read this blog post!). It’s shiny and pink and usually costs $200-250. It’s about 10 times better than her old $20 phone. 

 

Insurance – $252:

Six months of auto insurance for me and Mrs. Root of Good. 

 

General Merchandise – $121:

We bought used furniture from a Facebook Marketplace seller on Black Friday. Though the timing was totally random, we got quite a deal!

For $121 we picked up a lightly used La-Z-Boy reclining couch and matching recliner.

Our trusty minivan came in handy for hauling those two bulky items home from the suburbs.  

 

$121 for what looks like an almost brand new couch and recliner.  I feel like we’re officially old people now.

 

Electronics – $118:

I spent $12 on ebay for 8 gigabytes of RAM memory for an old computer I refurbished. A friend gave me a small SSD drive for free. And next up is to swap out the CPU for a much faster chip from a recently deceased computer that “volunteered” as an organ donor. Even before I swap the CPU, we have a blazing fast 10 year old computer for a mere $12 in parts.  And tinkering is fun too.

The other big electronics expense was a new phone for me! I also bought a $99 (plus tax) Moto G6 for myself in addition to the gift G6 for my daughter. However mine came in black, not shiny metallic pink. 

The phone is very nice for what I paid for it. And after six years of buying used phones from ebay with varying success, it’s nice to finally have a brand new phone to hopefully keep for a long while. 

To get the phone for $99, I bought it during a Cyber Monday promotion from Google Fi. In case you didn’t know, Google started a cell phone company a few years ago. I’ll probably stick with Freedompop for domestic cell service since it’s free (but kind of clunky and occasionally problematic, so I don’t recommend it). 

However, I’ll keep my Google Fi service active but paused.  It’s a decent deal at $20 per month for unlimited voice and text plus $10 per GB of actual data used (which is billed at a penny per 10 MB).  But the big selling point is the fact that it includes free overseas data roaming at no additional cost!

So I can simply show up to almost any country in the world and my Google Fi SIM will provide instant access at a very low price. And I can pause service any time I want so that I don’t get charged the monthly fee for service.

This may be how we get cell service while in Southeast Asia instead of buying a cheap SIM chip in each new country. Except Vietnam – as of right now Google Fi doesn’t offer service in Vietnam. 

If you’re interested in trying Google Fi service, here’s my referral link that will give you a $20 bill credit after you sign up for service. 

 

Restaurants – $44:

As usual, we didn’t dine out very much during the month. We went to our favorite neighborhood taqueria and three of us got very full for $23 (including a 30% tip just because).  The food was amazing as usual. And I also learned that the secret ingredient in their creamy salsa verde isn’t avocado!  If it isn’t avocado then my second guess is Mexican crema. But the owner/chef wouldn’t tell me his secret recipe. 

We also picked up a baker’s dozen (that’s 13 of them) donuts and pastries from the eponymously named Baker’s Dozen donuts for $15. I’m glad the store isn’t located near us. Otherwise we would be eating way too many donuts! 

 

Apple fritters are the best. Just amazing. Perhaps the best dessert in the world kind of amazing.

 

The final restaurant expense was two takeout visits to Outback Steakhouse during their free Bloomin’ Onion promotions. I dropped $3.50 each time on an order of fries in order to receive the battered and deep fried onion monstrosity (any purchase will qualify including a $0.99 kid’s ice cream). 

 

Utilities – $35:

Utilities are typically paid in lump sums in order to fulfill the terms of sign up bonus offers on credit cards.  We still have around $500 worth of positive balances on our electric and water accounts, but the prepaid balance on the natural gas account finally got used up. 

I had to pay $35 for November’s gas bill. We used the heat a lot more in November so December’s bill will be about twice as big. 

 

Pumpkin rolls – perfect fall time treats. Made from real pumpkin grown in grandma’s back yard.

 

Gas – $34:

Refueled about three quarters of a tank of gas in the cheap part of town ($2.15/gallon) while we were picking up the new couch and recliner. 

 

Healthcare/Medical – $24:

Pretty minimal month of medical expenses:

We go on a lot of cruises and everyone in the family (other than me) gets really bad sea sickness and motion sickness. Two bottles of motion sickness meds should last us a couple of years.  This is a smoking hot deal compared to paying $4 for 8 name brand tablets at Walmart. 

 

Entertainment – $20:

Black Friday! I bought seven new used video games for my Xbox 360 and Playstation 3:

  • Call of Duty Black Ops
  • Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3
  • God of War III
  • God of War Ascension
  • Ratchet and Clank All 4 One
  • Battlefield Bad Company 2
  • Fallout 3

A nice mix of slashers, first person shooters, and open world adventure games.  Each game was $.99 to $4.99 plus buy 2 get 1 free during Gamestop’s Black Friday promotion. 

I bought two refurbished Xbox 360 consoles too. They are free after rebate and I used discounted gift cards to buy them, plus Ebates cash back portal. I ended up making a small profit by buying the consoles and I might sell one of them. The other one I’ll definitely keep as a Netflix box for our second living room. 

I also bought a Humble Bundle of the PC version of board games for $1. The bundle included Agricola which I’ve heard great things about. 

Anyone still wondering what I’ve been doing instead of writing blog posts?  I’ll see you in six months! Just kidding… I think.

 

I’ve also been wasting time having fun outside!

 

Check out this crazy big tree that fell in the woods.

 

Fall in Raleigh. Such a lovely time of year.

 

Cable/Satellite – $15:

$15 for one month’s internet bill. We qualify for a local reduced rate package due to having a lower income and having kids. 30 mbit/s download, 4 mbit/s upload.

 

Home Maintenance – $10:

Our annual donation to our neighborhood’s efforts to display luminarias on Christmas Eve. Unfortunately we’ll be somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean for Christmas so we won’t get to see them but we chipped in anyway. 

 

Note on Health Insurance

  • 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.

 

 

Total Spending in 2018

 

With eleven months of expenses on the book, we have spent $25,181 year to date.  That’s $11,500 less than the $36,667 budgeted for the first eleven months of our $40,000 early retirement budget.

Big upcoming expenses include $1,400 for our Spring Break cruise to Cuba with the whole family.

In March, we will celebrate our fifteenth anniversary.  We are going back and forth on destinations for a celebratory trip. So far we’ve ruled out Africa (mostly), Antarctica, and Australia. 

In summer of 2019 we will travel to Southeast Asia for around eight weeks. We will be planning that trip in more detail during early 2019.  I’ve already accumulated $3,000+ of Airbnb credit so further spending on lodging for this trip will  be relatively minor.  Flights are already booked. The remaining expenses will be incurred once we are in-country such as ground transportation, restaurants, admission fees at attractions, and guided tours (if we do any). 

For housing expenses, we have our $1,600 annual property tax bill due at the end of the year.

So far, we are on track to end 2018 with a significant budget surplus as we have in three out of the past four years of my early retirement. But we’re really trying to spend more money! It just seems that so many things and experiences can be obtained for cheap or free with a little bit of effort. 

We went crazy during Black Friday yet our spending barely exceeded the poverty level for a family of five. Maybe we’ll find more creative ways to spend money in 2019!  But fear not, the accumulated budget surpluses simply insulate us further against any future market corrections. 

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2018:

 

Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:

 

The kids had some friends over and painted together during the Thanksgiving break.

 

Net Worth: $1,988,000 (No Change)

After losing $98,000 during October, a nice boring flat November was a welcome relief. Our net worth stayed the same at $1,988,000. 

 

 

The past couple of months have been bumpy but not horrible (yet). If you aren’t okay with some volatility then a high stock allocation probably isn’t the right thing for your portfolio. I’m okay with it, as I’ve lived through “real” volatility during the 2008-09 Great Recession and know I can handle it. 

 

Thanksgiving with Mrs. Root of Good’s family.

 

Right now our net worth is just a few percent lower than it was at this time last year when our portfolio first crested the $2 million mark.  We don’t really feel much poorer and our intent is still to increase spending to at least $40,000.

We sleep well at night in spite of market turbulence. We have a $180,000 stockpile of cash, CD’s, and bonds, so while the volatility is interesting, it doesn’t pose an immediate threat to our early retirement. 

Well, that’s it for this month’s update on the life and finances of the Root of Good household. I’d like to wish everyone happy holidays and I hope the remainder of the year is a great one for you and yours!

 

How was your November? For my fellow Americans, did you have a good Thanksgiving? Pick up any treats during Black Friday/Cyber Monday?  Or did you back off the spending because of economic fears? 

 

 

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70 comments

  1. Great post- I love all the detail you give- my Type A brain enjoys it very much! I’d be interested in your consulting service at some point- let me know how it works. tx!

    1. The consulting sessions are centered around you and what you want to discuss. In the initial client engagement email I ask for a list of topics to discuss and we cover those briefly in the first few minutes of the session to make sure we spend the time optimally and cover everything you want to. In terms of fees, it’s by the hour. More details here.

    2. Travelling these days is not fun for me anymore maybe because been travelling a lot.The way you did i think its great but for me making money is easy but to limit in everything you do is not good. I’m in money market,I’m a traders thee money that you have if you know what to do you can make thousands of thousands of dollars a day just by trading forex…..Of course don’t go to war without without learning it.

  2. Hi Mr. RoG,
    Great post, as always! I have a few questions….
    1. Are you including your $180k stockpile in your net worth?
    2. I’m trying to figure out the social security benefit (survivor and disability). Will that still be “active” if you don’t actively contribute to SS? I understand the once you’ve worked 10 years or longer, you qualify for the retirement benefit, but can’t find anything about the other ones…
    3. And I’m guessing you don’t pay SS tax or Medicare tax because you have investment income rather than earned one? Thanks!

    1. 1. Yes, the $180k cash/CD/bonds is included in the NW. Basically a 10% allocation of my total ~$1.8 million investment portfolio.
      2. I’m not sure about SS survivor and disability. Though…
      3. Yes, I’m still paying self employment taxes on consulting and blog income since it’s earned income per the IRS. I do that quarterly through estimated taxes and it’s usually a few thousand per year after a hefty offset by the refundable child tax credit. So I still qualify for the SS survivor/disability benefit for sure!

  3. Hi Justin, I really can’t say why I enjoy reading your updates so much since, as you say, you’re mostly keeping it real. I guess I like your relaxed, happy attitude.
    All the best at Christmas time.

  4. Good to see you took advantage of the ridiculous Black Friday video game deals. I got a PS4 with Red Dead Redemption and an extra controller for $199 at Walmart. I returned Red Dead yesterday for the full $60 value with receipt (which they gladly took back), and also got a bunch of games from Gamestop. PS4, extra controller, and 10 games for $250. My first new console in ten years – I’m pretty psyched!

    I loved my PS3. But first person shooters like they ones you bought make me motion sick, so I’m more third person. It’s amazing how much you can save if you just delay the hardware/game cycle by 5-10 years. You got almost $1k of goods (when released new) for pennies! Awesome.

    1. Wow, that’s a great deal! I paid almost what you did for my PS3 several years ago used!

      I’m stoked to play all these games. The first person shooters are basically just mindless interactive TV-watching to me. Nice cut scenes, a little bit of plot and something more mentally active than sitting and watching the action unfold in a tv show. And I’m so far behind the cutting edge that there are tons of <$5 games that I really want to play.

  5. I am excited to hear about the plans for the South East Asia Trip. Your European Adventure sparked our trip to Spain next year. We are making stops in Seville, Granada, and Malaga as well as Valencia. We have 9 nights in Europe (7 nights in Spain) and due to travel hotel points, we will only be spending about $130 out of pocket (as one stop didn’t make sense to utilize points) on accommodations for the four of us.

    As far as the Milk Wars…I live about 15 miles outside of St. Louis on the Illinois side of the River and we have an Aldi, Ruler (Kroger low cost store), and Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market competing with each other. I bought a gallon of milk for $0.98 yesterday. We’ve had those prices for months now! Love the competition!

    Great post as usual!

    1. Sounds like an awesome trip to Spain! I liked each of those cities we visited. So much to see and do in each one. Book La Alhambra tickets WAY ahead of time if you plan on visiting. I recall it was 5-6 weeks when I booked my tix and I had a limited set of times and dates to pick from even that far out (but it was peak summer time).

      Under a buck for milk? Crazy! We’ve never had particularly cheap milk in Raleigh for whatever reason so this whole sub-$2 gallon of milk is amazing to me. I checked my Costco grocery article from last year and I see it was $2.50 or so here just 1 year ago! Then Lidl opened and it’s been a perpetual drop, literally a penny at a time in many cases, since then. Love it. We’re having a lot more $300-400 grocery months than we ever have before.

  6. Nice update Justin.

    What’s the secret to scoring AirBnB gift cards on Raise.com- you just check daily for something better than the 3.4% discount they usually offer?

  7. I wish I saw that Moto G6 deal. My wife has been using a Moto G5 with a slightly cracked screen for awhile. I haven’t been able to get her to spring for a new one. Ironically, I saw the Google Fi deal for the Moto X4, but price was still higher than what she wanted to spend.

    I had one big Black Friday/Cyber Monday splurge. I saw both the programming robots that I’ve been wanting to get (Cozmo and Dash) to jump start my 5 and 6 year old. (They are partially for dad too, because I’m just a big kid.) I also got an Osmo learning set for about 63% off ($37 total). A couple of months ago, those three would cost $455, but it was around $250 total. That number may make your readers faint!

    We’ll be doing a lot of hands-on computer learning for awhile.

    (We also had some normal toys that we had squirreled throughout the year when we saw deals.)

    1. I was debating between the X4 and G6 when they were $150 and $100 respectively. It seemed like a wash on the specs almost. And it was a HUGE upgrade from my old phone, so I didn’t really want to pay 50% more.

      Sounds like some cool robots!

  8. I was curious to know how much do you pay to have somebody manage your investments, but I don’t see anything related in your expense list. I thought people need to pay for that kind of thing in order to invest money or if not an investment manager may be pay a fee to use a platform that would allow you to mange your investments yourself? I’m not sure if you have written about that before. If not, could you?

        1. Vanguard is a good place to start. Also check out Bogleheads.org for their guide to investing. And check my Recommendations page for a Bogleheads book on investing to get you started DIY investing.

  9. Hi! I always am able to get free sea sickness tablets at either the concierge desk or sick bay when cruising. They hand them out like candy =). Anything to keep the passengers well and drinking 😉

    1. Hmmm good idea! I’ve heard horror stories of guests having to fork over $10.99 for a 8 pack at the on board boutique for the pills, so we always play it safe (and 8 pills is only 20 cents at the rates we’re buying them!).

  10. Good to hear things are well! I, too, picked up a new phone on the Google Fi promotion — $200 off and a $200 service credit, plus switching away from $$$ Verizon Wireless, made a Pixel 3 much easier to afford. Still figuring it out compared to my venerable Droid Turbo.

    Tricks for your new G6: twisting it twice quickly and silently activates the camera, and if you hold it sideways and make a chop-chop motion it quickly activates (or deactivates) the flashlight. Motorola is pretty clever.

    Any time you want to share that spring roll or pumpkin roll recipe, we’re all ears… 😉

  11. Re: the cost of milk……FYI …..a gallon of milk at my grocery store costs $5.60 on a regular sale cost. Some brands are over $7 a gallon. The cost of living in Hawaii! Local milk is the $7 brand. My cheaper milk is shipped in from the happy cows of California.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family. Thanks for inspiring and instructing us all.

    1. Ouch. Island life. We saw a bit of that in the Bahamas where virtually all the food products are shipped in from the US. It was weird paying $2.50 for a bottle of store brand ketchup that would be $0.99 at home!! Milk wasn’t crazy though – I seem to recall $4 for a gallon but perhaps it’s because we have cheaper milk on the east coast and they export from there? However there was “milk day” on Tuesday or Wednesday when they get the new shipment of milk. Otherwise they’re out of stock a lot.

  12. Thanks for the post. I enjoy reading about your day to day spending. Do your kids drink milk with meals? One of the things I’ve noticed on the youtube channels of uber frugal parents is that they don’t buy milk for drinking. My three kids go through a gallon per week apiece. I can’t seem to get my grocery budget down near yours I’d love a post with what you buy and eat in a month. Do you limit portions? Get free lunches at school?

    1. None of us really drink much milk, though one kid will occasionally. We mostly drink water and occasionally soda. But none of us really needs the calories from milk anyway, so it’s not the cost issue that keeps us from drinking milk 🙂 In fact, we struggle to use up a whole gallon before it goes bad. I figure if I use 3/4 of it, I’m paying the same cost per quart as buying a half gallon and we usually finish most or all of the gallon.

      Here’s an old article covering what we buy in a typical month. A bit of that has changed but the underlying staples are roughly the same.

  13. Nice work on the $100 Moto G6! I can never find such great deals outside the U.S. Oh well, worth the trade off to not have the high cost of living and expensive healthcare 🙂

    Super excited for you guys and the upcoming summer South East Asia trip! Sadly, we will be JUST missing you as we fly back to Europe in early June. Oh well.

    Btw, just an FYI, don’t take any NIGHT buses in SE Asia (they are horrendously unsafe), and avoid the ferry from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap–then tend to overload them. We prefer overnight trains or flights over buses in Asia. But if you go with good bus companies (like Giant Ibis in Cambodia or Greenbus in ChiangMai to ChiangRai) during the day you’re fine.

    Have you tried looking through hotels on Agoda in Thailand? I found that some of the hotels deals are better than Airbnb deals. Though we did use Airbnb extensively in Chiang Mai.

    Congrats on a great year and I’m excited to hear more about your SE Asia trip plans!

    1. Thanks for the tips on SE Asia travel!

      I’ve got Giant Ibis bookmarked for Vietnam to Phnom Penh and PP to Siem Reap (I think they do that route). And I believe Greenbus (or some other luxury service) is what I have planned for CM to Chiang Rai. Only other unknown is Saigon to somewhere in the delta and it’s only a few hrs so we’ll see what’s available. No plans for night buses 🙂 I haven’t looked into the ferries yet, but I’ve heard they are kind of sketchy and often unsafe. I can’t imagine they would be time competitive vs driving anyway.

      I looked at Agoda briefly. Because we’re looking at 2-3 BR places, it’s often cheaper to get a bigger (nicer) airbnb vs 2 hotel rooms. Though it’s ymmv a bit in terms of availability. We found some amazing skyrise luxury apartments in Saigon at the $60-75/nt range for 3 BR with pools. And that’s as far as we’ve really looked so far.

      I hate we’ll miss you guys in SE Asia! Maybe we’ll cross paths in the future. S America, Great Western American Road Trip and eastern Europe are our tentative plans for summers of 2020-2022. 🙂

  14. I’m thinking about the $15 cable/satellite bill that you have. You mentioned that you get a lower rate because of your low income. I don’t see how this is ethical given your financial situation. What other things are you able to take advantage of being ‘low income’?

    1. You don’t see it as ethical that a private corporation offers a discount program for people who have lower incomes with kids?

      That is the only discount that I can think of from a company. Most have too many hoops to jump through so I don’t bother with them to save a few bucks. But for this one it was easy to sign up and it’s permanent as far as I can tell. And it saves me hundreds of dollars every year. I’ll take the deals where I can get them! 🙂

    2. I find it unethical that the monopoly cable companies gouge their customers on price. The rest of the world pays a fraction of what americans pay for internet.

      1. I’m torn on this one as well. I’m not so concerned about a private company offering this service as a measure of good will but I’m wondering if they are getting government subsidies for this service. I am also wondering if there are concerns about enrolling in the ACA for cheap health care, since it’s income based not means testing based.

        1. ACA is giving out subsidies for incomes up to $115,000 for households of 5 like mine. Definitely not something targeting only poor people. In fact they don’t even give subsidies to poor people in my state! If we made less than $28000 we get nothing!

          1. I find it a little odd that a lot of the folks who identify as highly progressive say they have problems taking ACA subsidies. It was designed for middle class individuals and upper middle class families and paid for by the upper class. Plus, it’s illegal not to have it and illegal to lie about your income so it’s not like you have a choice.

            1. That’s the way I approach it. I have to have it by law. There’s an explicit exchange in place where I populate my data. It spits out the subsidy I get and the plans I qualify for. I balance out the subsidy at tax time. End of the deal. It’s funny though, because people start nitpicking which programs us middle and upper middle class folks should be able to participate in. The law itself is clearly written to provide significant subsidies to folks making four times the poverty level (pushing income thresholds into six figures for families with dependents!!). Solid upper middle class territory in many places.

  15. Hey, great update Justin! You guys seem to be doing really well! More money continuously comes in than goes out! 😉

    It also seems like *everybody* is getting new phones this year. What’s with that? Good deals I guess. I’m still rockin my 6 year old phone!

    P.S. Thanks for the tip on that humble bundle. I enjoy board games, so that looks like a good one.

    1. It’s new phone time! Your article on ways to avoid getting a new phone reminded me that I might want to keep my eyes open for a new phone 🙂 We’ll probably still use the old phone when we travel since we sometimes need a 2nd phone with a SIM slot (and our other phones are all CDMA only).

    1. Chilango, New Hope Church Rd. Let me know if you try it out 🙂

      I usually get a sope con carne and 2 tacos. Campechano and al pastor are great choices. They also have buche which Mrs. Root of Good enjoys.

  16. Awesome update as always, and that doughnut picture my heavens, now I’m all snackish.

    How, HOW is your car insurance so low for two drivers? Geico? Wait, you all are down to one vehicle, right?

    I made over $20 in interest in my checking account last month, so that’s a little something. Gotta love credit unions. My retirement accts are holding steady; I buy and hold forever too. Not that I’m retired yet ha! But someday….

    1. Not sure how the car insurance is so low. Good driving record, just 1 car, and they put us on “leisure” driving (though that only saved us $20/yr I think). GEICO is more expensive last I checked. We’re with Farm Bureau.

  17. I’m glad that you mentioned about Google FI. You gave more information than its own website, therefore, I thank you.

    1. Good to hear! I’ve read a lot about it over the years but never dove too deep till now. I currently paused my service but it’s working well so far for me the little bit I tried it out. Can’t wait to give it a spin while overseas.

  18. I enjoyed reading your post as usual.
    May I ask what insurance company you use with the Affordable Care Act ?
    Thanks.

  19. I love it that you more focused on just being in nature and enjoying the simple things in life. This is what financial freedom truly is. Best wishes on your upcoming trips! Peace.

  20. You need to post a blog update for some of these deals when you find them, so the rest of us can get in on the goodies! 🙂

  21. For motion sickness try ginger pills instead, they have worked miracles for me. I downside is they are large and float in your month when taking them.

    1. Back to work? 😉

      Looks like that judgment was a non-event so far. The judge stayed the order pending appeal so we’ll have to see what the Court of Appeals and Supreme Court have to say about it. I kind of feel like the higher courts won’t make a judgment on the merits and will find some way to dismiss the case like finding the plaintiffs don’t have standing (“no damages”).

      But we’ll see what happens. All I know is I signed up for a sweet 2019 ACA plan and it’s in effect right now!

  22. It is an inspiring post for all the readers. You described so many ways to earn and save bucks. I was totally amazed when I read the whole article as you mentioned all your financial updates in a quite inspiring manner. Love the way you write this article.

    I love travelling and want to explore new cities as well as countries all across the world. Therefore, I love the ‘Travel Section’ in the article where you are talking about your upcoming Southeast Asia Trip.
    You mentioned various tips to save money while travelling which is exceptional. Travelling and saving money at the same time is a cherry on the cake for anyone. Also, can you please elaborate how to apply for a new Credit Card which offers free points?

    I am planning a trip to Spain with my 6 friends. Our stay would be of 5 nights in Spain and we are looking for cheap flight tickets. Also, we are looking for the best hotel recommendations. Our budget is limited as we all are still studying in College.

    Can you please give me proper suggestions regarding the same? Thanks for sharing this wonderful post with us.

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