November 2022 Early Retirement Update

Last month flew by! First off, my apologies for a very late monthly update. We just got back from a little adventure in Europe and on the high seas. We spent a week traipsing around the Lisbon and coastal areas of Portugal.  Then we sailed west on a 9 day transatlantic cruise back to the US of A. Another busy month for us!

With the kids out of school, we’ll be able to enjoy a slow couple of weeks before 2023 kicks into high gear in January. I’m very grateful for the slower pace of life around the holidays. It is the time to hang out with family and friends, enjoy some good food, and maybe see a little snow if we are lucky! 

Financially, November was a great month for us. Our net worth shot up by $161,000 to end the month at $2,718,000. Our income was modest at $2,673. However income was still slightly higher than our even more modest spending of $2,586 during November.

Let’s jump into the details from last month.




Investment income totaled $463 in November. Our equity index funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December. As a result, we had only a small amount of investment income last month. Here’s more on our dividend investments.

Blog income totaled $634 for the month. This monthly total is lower than previous years but I don’t post as much. And the advertising revenues have generally been soft for everyone this year. 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $405 in November. The consulting income represents 2.5 hours of consulting time. I am glad the pace of my consulting side hustle slowed down while we are traveling a lot.  

Tradeline sales income totaled $250 in November. This source of revenue seems to be soft right now as well. I ramped up my tradeline sales in 2020 and discussed it in a bit more detail in my October 2020 monthly post and in my July 2021 monthly post

For November, my “deposit income” totaled $189. Of this total, $112 of the “deposit income” comes from cash back and incentive bonuses from the and online shopping portals (some of which was earned from you readers signing up through these links). 

If you sign up for Rakuten through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Rakuten, you’ll get a $10 sign up bonus

We also received a his-and-hers pair of class action settlement payments in November. Plaid wronged us and plaid the price of $71 in total for their malfeasance. Justice is ours!

The remaining $5 of “deposit income” came from a $5 bonus from one of my credit cards for opting into paperless statements. 

November Youtube income increased to $197. Youtube only pays out when you exceed $100 in accumulated revenue. Recently, my Youtube earnings have been just under $100 per month on average, so I’ll be getting paid a bit under $200 every two months.

Here is the Youtube channel for the curious. It’s random travel videos, birds, kids, and a couple of DIY videos. There are only a few main videos that bring in most of the traffic (and revenue!).

Closing out the income from November: a total of $533 of bank and credit card bonuses. We received $100 in hotel reimbursements from a pair of Chase Sapphire Preferred cards before upgrading one and downgrading the other card. Another card paid out $33 in cash back for some recent promotions. And the final $400 in bonuses came from a US Bank business checking sign up bonus. 



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 November expenses:


In total, we spent $2,586 during November which is about $700 less than our regularly budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year). Groceries and insurance were the two highest categories of spending in November. 


Detailed breakdown of spending:


Groceries – $647:

We were home for almost the whole month of November, so our grocery spending was fairly normal. In fact, we stocked the fridge and freezer a little extra since we had my parents staying at our house with our kids (while we traveled the world). 

Inflation feels rough every time we see the higher prices at the grocery store but it’s not quite as bad when we see the totals here only $100-200 more than the pre-2020 grocery spending levels. 


Our son cooking fried rice for dinner.


Thanksgiving lunch with family. Mmmmm!!


Insurance – $639:

We spent $639 for six months of auto insurance for two adults and one teen driver. That’s not too bad I think. Adding our teenage driver onto the policy only increased the premiums by about $400 every six months.

A nice side benefit is that our teen driver can taxi around our other kids while we are out of town! 


Electronics – $569:

We upgraded Mrs. Root of Good’s old Pixel 3 phone to a Pixel 7 Pro for $560 during a Black Friday promotion.

Part of the deal was a $103 credit when we trade in her old Pixel 3. However we didn’t get the $103 credit because her old Pixel was an international version instead of a US version, so we got nothing other than a returned Pixel 3. Still a great deal at $560 for a brand new flagship phone that she can take pretty pictures with. 

We also spent $8 on some random computer adapter for a graphics tablet. 


Utilities – $266:

The total utility spending was $266 last month.

We spent $148 for the water/sewer/trash bill.

The natural gas bill, which provides heating and hot water, totaled $42 for last month. This bill covers mostly the month of October which doesn’t get that cold here. The December bill will be a bit higher and January’s bill might even break $200 if it gets cold! 

The electric bill totaled $78 last month. 


Travel – $99:

We had already paid for most of our week in Portugal and our cruise, so the travel spending in November was very mild. 


We had a layover in London Heathrow where we hit the airport lounge for some breakfast/lunch and a flat white coffee.


Since we were traveling off season, the lodging rates in Portugal were ridiculously low. We paid $87 total for three nights in a 1 bedroom apartment in Nazare. It was admittedly a tiny apartment, but very functional for our 3 day stay. And it came with a nice rooftop terrace. 

The only other travel spending in November was $12 for transit passes for the two of us in Lisbon. This covered 2 subway rides and an hour-long train ride from Lisbon to Sintra. 


The street where we stayed in Sintra, Portugal for three nights. Our $55 per night attic apartment is in the building on the left. We were fortunate to see the Christmas lights all along the street at night.


We did have several other transit, uber, and lodging expenses but they were reimbursed from our Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s $300 annual travel reimbursement benefit. Since most of our vacation occurred during the month of December, there will be more travel expenses for this trip in next month’s update. And a ton more pics from our trip too! 

If you are interested in getting free travel from your credit card like I do, consider the Chase Ink Unlimited or Chase Ink Cash business cards (my referral link). Right now the Chase Ink business cards offer 90,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed instantly for $900 in cash. And if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, those 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $1,125 or $1,350 (respectively) towards Airbnb or other travel reservations. This is the highest offer ever on the Chase Ink Unlimited/Cash cards and may not last too much longer. Mrs. Root of Good just received her new Chase Ink Unlimited card and I’ll be getting one for myself very soon too. 

Chase is pretty liberal when it comes to “what is a business”. If you sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist or do some odd jobs occasionally then you have a business and could get a credit card as a “sole proprietor”. 


We found a delicious cafe right across the street from our Airbnb. A steak and egg lunch with prosciutto and fries on the side and a burger and fries, plus tip, was only $15 for the two of us. The food was delicious!


Education – $93:

I can confirm that kids get a little more expensive during their teen years. We spent $52 for high school graduation fees for our middle child. And $15 to pay for AP score reports to be sent over to the oldest child’s college. 

The remaining $26 covers all the field trips for our youngest child in elementary school. 


Gas – $78:

That’s about a tank and a half of gas. Our daughter is in college and driving the car a lot more than we do. We should be good on gas until January though.


Healthcare/Medical/Dental – $77:

Our current 2022 health insurance is completely free thanks to very generous Affordable Care Act subsidies that we receive due to our low ~$45,000 per year Adjusted Gross Income. 

However, we selected a slightly more expensive plan for 2023 that costs $18 per month, with the first $18 premium paid in November. The gimmick is that they offer $1,000 per year in cash back incentives if you click on a couple random things on their website approximately once per week. The net effect is that we are once again getting paid to accept high quality health insurance. 

For the adults in the household, we spend $20 per month ($240 per year) in 2022 for a dental insurance plan for each of us (or $40 per month in total). Our routine dental exams and cleanings with the occasional x-ray have increased in price recently. The cost is now $125 (no x-ray) or $170 (with x-ray). 

With two routine visits per year, we will spend almost $300 per person. A $240 insurance plan provides those same services for free. And we get some minimal level of insurance if one of us needs a filling during the year. 

We just signed up for 2023 dental insurance plans and paid one premium in November. I chose a very basic plan for $9 per month for me that covers most preventive care but no fillings. Mrs. Root of Good has a different set of dental needs than I do so we kept the more comprehensive $20 per month plan for her (same as 2022’s plan).

By buying insurance, we should save a couple hundred dollars on my dental care. For Mrs. Root of Good, we will still save a few dollars compared to paying cash for the preventive dentist visits throughout the year.


Restaurants – $64:

We went out to eat at a neighborhood restaurant for $64. 


Clothing/Shoes – $47:

Clothing spending was about $100 but we had some gift cards to cover all but $47 of the purchase. 


Gifts – $11:

A couple of Christmas gifts for $11. Other gifts get mixed in with “grocery” or “general merchandise” spending categories. We buy a lot of stuff from Walmart and Amazon and I don’t always split out the specific purchases to their own categories (oops).


Cable/Satellite/Internet – $0:

We generally 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. Right now the cost of the internet service is temporarily reduced to $0 due to the “Affordable Connectivity Program”. 


The last grass mowing of the season before the cold sets in!



Total Year-To-Date Spending for 2022


Our spending totaled $28,179 for the first 11 months of 2022. This is over $8,000 less than the $36,667 we budgeted for 11 months of spending in our $40,000 annual early retirement budget.

It’s pretty amazing that almost half of our 2022 living expenses went to the vacation budget. I guess that shows the advantage of a low cost baseline lifestyle. A paid off house and paid off car means our monthly outgoing expenses are miniscule some months. 

The only big spending we have coming up is a new (used) car purchase hopefully sometime in 2023. We’ve been making do with one car for the family all fall and it’s mostly worked out well with just a couple of schedule overlaps. 

Used car prices seem to have dropped slightly over the past six months. I am actually seeing decent beaters for under $10,000 now! Maybe we will be able to get a new (used) car soon. 


Monthly Expense Summary for 2022:


Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:


We had some fresh persimmons from grandma’s tree that went bad. So we turned them into bird food for this handsome red bellied woodpecker in the backyard.



Net Worth: $2,718,000 (+$161,000)

November was another great month in the stock market. Our net worth shot up $161,000 to end the month at $2,718,000. This is on top of six figure gains in October as well. 

During December we have seen a little dip in net worth due to stock market drops (and a small downward adjustment in my home value!). Apparently a recession is coming, or a recession was already here or maybe we are in a recession right now. I’m not an economist so I cannot tell you if we are in one. 

It still doesn’t feel like a recession. I see our Walmart packed with Christmas shoppers. The parking lot is busier than I’ve ever seen it before. But is that a shift in shopper behavior from more expensive stores to Walmart? 

And then on the drive home from Walmart I see a new homeless camp pop up in the woods. I suppose those folks are experiencing a very strong personal recession. Data points lost to the aggregation of economic data.

Where are we economically? Who knows.



For the curious, our net worth reported above includes our home value (which is fully paid off). However, please note that I don’t consider my home value as part of my portfolio for “4% rule” calculation purposes. I realize folks ask me about that every month so I just wanted to state that here for clarity.


Life update

November was once again a busy month. And to think that some people worry about getting bored in retirement! 

I am looking forward to a slow couple of weeks before we set out on our next adventure in the Caribbean in January. I have a lot of end of year bookkeeping and tax strategizing to do before December 31st, so wish me luck. 


When we went out of town, everything was glowing yellow, orange and red. We come home less than three weeks later and you can tell it’s winter!


Looking forward, we will shift the focus of our travel planning toward our big summer trip to South America in summer of 2023. So far we have flights to Argentina in mid-June and a rough idea for a few places to visit down there. How we are getting back home remains a mystery. But that’s part of the fun, right? 

Okay, enough pontificating from me. I’ll wrap up this month’s update at this point so I can finally hit the “publish” button before January rolls around. 

I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and/or whatever else you and your family celebrate at this time of year. And a happy and prosperous new year! 

See you next month! 


Winter is here! Ready for the cold weather, hot chocolate, and short winter days?


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  1. Your site is such a great resource!
    With regard to credit cards, which card do you use for everyday/non-bonus spending? And which credit cards with annual fees do you keep for their value?
    Happy holidays!

    1. I try to put all my spending on a new card with a big sign up bonus (so I am constantly applying for new credit cards). Otherwise, I have a Fidelity card that earns 2% on everything and would use that if I didn’t have a different card to put spending on.

      For annual fee cards, I don’t have many. The Capital One Venture X is about the only one that I will keep for now. Annual fee basically offset in full by the annual travel credits. I am keeping the Chase Sapphire Reserve for now because the increased point redemption value (50% bonus) more than covers the net effective annual fee every year.

      1. Have you started closing cards so that you can keep getting approved for new ones? The last time that I tried to get a new card, the bank said I had too much available credit for my income. There was no way to request recon. It was disappointing.

        1. In general I close cards when there is no reason to keep them open. There are tons of rules/advice on when to close or not close though. Like amex – keep open 12 months plus a day, minimum or they shadow ban you from new cards in the future. Everyone else seems to be 11 months, it’s okay to cancel. And some folks you can churn w/ a new card application 12-24 months after your first card w/ them, others it’s longer wait (and they don’t always make it clear, like Amex = 1x lifetime language really means 1x per every 7 years).

          1. Interesting, in the past I have always consolidated the limits onto an older no fee card with the bank or converted the fee card to a no fee card. I thought that’s what was generally recommended, but I guess when they stop approving you for stuff, it’s probably not the best strategy!

      2. Happy New Year!.I saw your roth ira conversion ladder article which you posted in 2015.Are there any changes since then?Can we still use that?

  2. I finally had to trade my Pixel 3 in last September for a 6a. I miss it; trading in a glass phone for a plastic one felt like a step down… but the 6a was the smallest Pixel I could get, and $323 was pretty reasonable. Progress, I guess. I’d still be on the Pixel 3 for years yet if I could replace the battery (easy) and keep getting Android updates (…not so much).

    Can we expect a trip recap? I’m really curious what you thought of Lisbon! One of my colleagues moved out there, since we have a Portugal office and cost-of-living is so much less than near DC. It sounds lovely.

    1. I’ve heard good things about the 6a so that sounds like a decent upgrade. I actually saw the 6a from Spectrum for only $200 without trade in (we went with the 7 Pro just for zoom capability but if you don’t value that the 6a is probably great too)

      I don’t plan on a separate trip recap post but you’ll see more info on the trip in the December monthly update. Lots of pics 🙂 Cost of living there is definitely reasonable. It’s a little rough around the edges but a decent place to visit overall. It is very popular among folks looking to expat somewhere cheap.

  3. Thanks for the monthly update!

    A couple of quick questions regarding health insurance.

    If we were to plan to retire sometime in 2023, I assume that the insurance exchanges would only consider income from 2023 and not those from past years. Is that correct? We have a fairly high income in 2022, but expect it to drop significantly in 2023 if we do retire.

    When we looked at some of the coverage plans available for 2023 on, we are seeing premiums of $900+ per month, even for the most basic bronze plans! We have been trying to figure out why they are so expensive.

    Also, there’s no mention of any subsidies along with these plans. I assume that we would have to pay the full premium out of pocket first and then submit Form 8962 to (hopefully) get the “premium tax credit (PTC)” when we file our tax returns. Is that correct?

    As we are exploring our options, one of the most surprising things we have learned is that it’s possible to have too LITTLE income to qualify for PTC. LOL. Kind of ridiculous.

    Happy holidays to you all!

    1. Yes, your subsidies for 2023 are based solely on 2023 income, however the exchange may ask you why your projected income in 2023 will be lower than 2022 (loss of job is the easy answer of course). Just reconcile the actual income when filing 2023 taxes.

      To get the subsidy you have to apply through the healthcare exchange website and put in your estimated income. They will apply whatever subsidy is appropriate based on your projected income. Yes, the plans are expensive – ours is almost $1000 per month but the subsidy in 2023 will almost cover the full cost.

  4. Justin,

    I had to make sure I caught any future trip plans in this post — just in case we’d intersect again and miss it! Haha.

    I’m glad it seems like you all enjoyed Portugal. It’s become a favorite of ours. We did Sintra, Cascais, Lisbon, and Porto back in the summer. And wow to the cost of living there, eh?
    “We paid $87 total for three nights in a 1 bedroom apartment in Nazare.” — that’s nuts! Equal to rent for $870/month. And that’s on a nightly cost basis..!
    Looks like you ate well, too!

    It’ll be fun to see your cruise and remaining trip breakdown on the next update. We’re looking forward to doing the same on ours. Sounds like we’ll be pretty close on that incredible transatlantic cruise deal! 🙂

    Happy holidays!

    1. That $29/night place was really small by American standards but cool for a few nights. And both apartments we rented were really nice and brand new on the inside, yet still super cheap. PT would be a nice expat living destination if you like the country. And yes, the dining out was great as well. We either ate smoked salmon and prosciutto and pastel de nata most nights or got take out from somewhere. Mrs. Root of Good, the only sushi fan in the house, got sushi half the nights I think. Didn’t break the bank at $6 to $9 per big tray of sushi. In the US these sushi trays we got would have been $15-25 at least, and probably not as much fish in it either.

      I hate we missed you guys on the cruise. That would have been “Epic” to hang out with another FIRE couple while on board.

      (For the readers that are confused – Chris from TicTocLife and his wife were on the same Transatlantic cruise as us but we didn’t know about it till we got home and saw each other on Twitter! Oddly enough, we both headed to the liquor store on the last day of the cruise to cash out our $200 non-refundable on board credits by converting to $200 worth of fancy liquor since it’s as cheap or cheaper than at home and we can enjoy the liquor over the next year or two. FIRE minds think alike!)

  5. We have been to Spain before but not Portugal. I have heard nice things about Portugal though and we would like to go there someday. If you have more photos we would like to see them. Happy Holidays to your family.

    1. Tune in next month for lots of Portugal pics. PT definitely feels like Spain for the most part. Same Iberian peninsula and all that I guess 🙂 Definitely worth a visit if you liked Spain. Lowish cost of living and nice friendly people, laid back outside of the big city. Nice scenery with varied terrain and lots of coastline and beaches and tons of history.

  6. Thank you for all the great detail you put in your posts. I really enjoy reading about how others approach life and finances.
    The credit card offers sound awesome.
    I plan to check them out. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  7. High School Graduation fees? I’ve never heard of those.

    I do need to get a better credit card for travel. Didn’t even step on a plane this year.

    Healthcare in this country continues to be an opaque maze of “we can’t give you an estimate of that cost until we bill your insurance” …so reassuring!

    1. I think it’s sort of voluntary HS graduation fees. Covers the end of year senior picnic, activities, decorating for stuff and maybe paying to rent the building where they hold the graduation. Not really sure but we just pay the fee when asked 🙂 I know last year they had a nice end of year senior picnic with food trucks (for our other daughter that graduated last spring).

  8. The market giveth and the market taketh away. Your December summary will show the effects of the huge market downturn this month that we are all unfortunately experiencing.

    Nice trips and nice pricing. Beautiful towns in Portugal, btw. In November I finally started to take a cue from yourself and others to take money back that had been building up on some of my credit cards (I prefer cash back cards over travel points). It wound up being a few thousand $ and I still have ~$2K on the Amex Blue Cash card. They don’t let you take that out in cash anymore but you can use it to offset your bills, which I will start to do.

    Stay warm this weekend. Bone jarring wind chills to end the week here in our area of TN at -15 to -25 degrees. I truly hope you, your family, and all your readers have a very Merry Christmas and holiday season!

    1. Yes, December is takething away quite a bit so far 🙂

      Thanks for the well wishes! Same to you and your family. And stay warm – it’s getting down to 15 degrees here over the weekend. Brrrrr – that’s long pants weather!

  9. Nice work!

    It’s interesting that your blog income is less than your combined income from consulting and tradeline sales. Have much of the decline in your blog income do you believe is due to reduced posting vs. lower advertising revenue?

  10. Thanks for the update! How do you decide to pull the trigger on booking flights? We feel like we keep missing out on the best flight and keep waiting for it to drop. This is for our Summer trip. In late Oct, we found tickets for $4000 for all four of us to 3 destinations! Great we thought but the next day they jumped up to $5000. Thinking it would go back down, it’s since risen to $6500.

    1. It’s tough. I watch and wait and if it feels like a decent price I book it. Also love to get refundable tickets w/ airline miles as a placeholder. Then I have a “price tracker” bookmark folder where I put that flight and open it up occasionally to see if prices dropped on anything so I can rebook for free at lower price. I do this w/ hotels, flights, and rental cars.

  11. Looks like another good month Justin, congrats! Glad to see your wealth still grew so much in these tumultuous financial times. I’d like to visit Portugal some day, I’ve heard many great things about it, thanks for sharing your experience!!

  12. Hi Justin,
    Did both your girls complete the WakeTech Associates degree while in high school?
    Or did they only take courses from wake tech?
    My daughter is freshman in high school and got enrolled into Associates in Arts. She wants to pursue a Business degree after high school and thinks if she finishes her Wake Tech Associates degree then she can transfer to UNC for Junior year. Please share your experience your kids had with wake tech dual enrollment in high school. Thanks

    1. The kids started Wake Tech half time in 11th grade. Then graduate a year early from HS and go full time during what would be their 12th grade year. 1 kid is full time wake tech right now, the other is still 1/2 HS 1/2 Wake Tech (in the CCP program).

      The goal for 1 is to finish AA degree then college transfer as a Junior. The goal for the other might be the same or just transfer after she exhausts whatever useful classes that transfer from Wake Tech to a state university.

  13. Would you be willing post about your NW from the start of both you and Mrs. RoG being retired until now? It seems you’ve nearly doubled it since retiring early! Well done! I’m really curious to see an annual summary what your drawdowns and gains have been and how they have affected your NW, how the last year’s market tumble affected it, etc.

    1. That would be a good post! I’ll see if I can pull it together at some point.

      Basically we kept growing our wealth because the market was going up crazy amounts most of the last 10 yrs, and we only spent <3% each year. And most of that spending was dividends or income from this blog or side hustles.

  14. Justin,

    I enjoy reading your posts and would like to get your thoughts on the Chase Ink card. What type of expenses do you intend to put on this card? When I went to apply there is a disclaimer that charges on the card need to be applicable to business related expenses. I would like to sign up for the card, but don’t want to raise any red flags. Thanks! Tyler

    1. I put pretty much any expense on there. They really do not penalize anyone for putting random expenses like groceries, clothes, fun/entertainment, etc on the biz cards. Their disclaimer might be related to biz vs consumer protection laws, so they have to say “only biz expenses” in case there is some issue with consumer spending vs biz spending. Not really sure honestly, but there are tons of consumer protection laws that might not necessarily apply to small biz expenses. I don’t worry about it and just put whatever spending I want on biz cards.

      1. Thanks for sharing your approach to this, I think I will follow a similar approach. Kind of hard to pass up on the 90k UR bonus that is being offered!

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