October 2019 Financial Update

Another month flew by! In October, we embraced the fall weather and enjoyed the changing of the leaves. The kids enjoyed dressing up for Halloween and gathering huge sacks full of candy. All of us enjoyed the very mild weather which makes the outdoors way more fun. 

On the financial front, it was another great month. Our net worth climbed by $44,000 to reach an all time high of $2,167,000. Income remained strong at $3,183 for the month while expenses remained moderate at $2,628. 

Let’s jump into the details from last month.

 

Income

Investment income totaled $455 in October. Our equity mutual 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. Since October isn’t a quarter-end month we didn’t get many dividends. Most of the $455 that we did receive came from bond funds that pay interest on a monthly basis. Here’s more on our dividend investments.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, totaled $1,692 for the month. That’s slightly less than what I received in September. 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) totaled $750 for the month of September which represents six hours of consulting sessions spread across three clients. 

The “deposit income” totaled $285. Most of the deposit income 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). After a lengthy delay, we finally collected over $200 cash back for the cruise we took to Cuba in April of 2019

If you sign up for Ebates through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Ebates, you’ll get a $10 gift card. 

The other $40 of “deposit” income came from a credit card promotion. My American Express Hilton card offered $40 cash back for $400 spent at an office supply store. I bought $400 in Mastercard gift cards at Staples through an in-store offer where the purchase fee was also waived then collected a quick $40 from Amex! 

 

 

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 October expenses:

 

In total, we spent $2,628 during October which is about $700 less than our target spending of $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year).  Travel and groceries topped the spending categories for the month. We like to travel and we like to eat, so it’s nice to see our spending align with our values. 

 

Detailed breakdown of spending:

 

Travel – $955:

We booked another cruise. This time it’s a last minute couple’s getaway since the kids are in school. 

In December we set sail on the MSC Divina, a favorite of ours, for 12 days in the Caribbean. Ports of call include:

  • Aruba for 2 days
  • Curacao
  • Jamaica
  • Cayman Islands
  • Ocean Cay – MSC’s private island

We are excited since Aruba, Curacao, and Ocean Cay are all new destinations to us. On top of that, we’ll be docked in Aruba overnight so there is plenty of time to see everything. We are looking forward to Ocean Cay because we’ll be one of the first guests to explore the island. 

The total cruise fare was $932 out of pocket for both of us (plus gratuities to be paid on board at approximately $13/person/day). We booked through Expedia which offered a $50 on board credit. In addition, I clicked through a shopping portal that should pay off significantly too. 

I used 19,000 Jetblue miles plus spent $23 on taxes for a pair of round trip tickets to the port of departure. I got the miles from a credit card sign up bonus. Jetblue miles are easy to get if you have a Chase credit card that can transfer Ultimate Rewards points to the Ultimate Reward travel transfer partners. 

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

If you have a small business, you might qualify for the Chase Ink Preferred card offering 80,000 bonus points right now. 

 

Groceries – $553:

We spent $553 on groceries. During October, Lidl took more than half of our grocery spend but we also shopped at Aldi, Super Walmart, Food Lion (a regional supermarket), and our local Asian grocery store. 

Here’s a glimpse at our overall grocery shopping strategy. It doesn’t center around coupons at all. 

I get asked about Costco a lot. Great way to save money? Not in our case. Costco is about 35-40% more expensive than Walmart, Lidl, and Aldi in our market. And that’s before factoring in the waste involved with a large package of a perishable good expiring before it’s fully consumed. Six heads of romaine lettuce rotting away in the back of the fridge, I’m looking at you.  

 

Homemade funnel cakes. We usually get these from the NC State Fair in October but we make them at home too.

 

Taxes – $400:

I paid $400 toward my 2019 estimated taxes to use up the Mastercard gift cards I bought at Staples. 

 

Our Jack-O-Lantern is the only thing spookier than taxes.

 

Healthcare/Medical – $195:

Our 2019 healthcare premiums are $31 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.

Since we don’t have dental insurance, we pay out of pocket. I visited the dentist for a routine cleaning and exam plus updates on my x-rays for $150. 

The other $14 of healthcare spending was over the counter generic Zyrtec bought in bulk from Amazon. 

 

Utilities – $164:

The city water, sewer, and trash bill was $140 for October. 

The natural gas bill (for the water heater) totaled $24 for the month. 

Several months ago I prepaid $600 on the electricity bill to hit the minimum spending requirement on a credit card. As a result, October utility charges didn’t include electric. 

 

Restaurants – $76:

Restaurant spending in October was mostly buying gift cards for future use. Newegg had a promotion for $75 worth of Domino’s Pizza gift cards for $60. I also shop through Raise.com to routinely save 10-20% off restaurant gift cards (and they offer a $5 discount on your first order). We’ll use the Domino’s gift cards throughout the year.

The other $16 of restaurant spending was for a box of chicken and biscuits from Bojangles (Mrs. Root of Good’s favorite fried chicken place).

 

General Merchandise – $48:

We bought several household items at Walmart for $40. 

Mrs. Root of Good put together a photo collage project on one of our living room walls and needed to print out a bunch of photos totaling $8. Good thing she’s retired! Her photo project is a good example of what early retirees do all day

 

The robotic package retrieval system at Walmart.

 

I was itching to order more stuff from Walmart just to use their automated package pickup kiosk. You scan your order summary email and seconds later your package appears in the slot in front of you and the glass shield retracts upward to allow package retrieval.

Jobs were eliminated. Costs were reduced. Packages are picked up quicker. The consumer wins again.

Learn how to design robots and program stuff, kids. 

 

Cable/Satellite – $30:

Internet service is usually $15/month but I paid for two months in October. 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.

 

(Free) fun in the park. Painting the big pumpkin!

 

 

Gas – $22:

$22 for half a tank of gas. We were prepping for a trip out of town in early November so I topped off the tank. 

 

Education – $21:

We paid $21 in total for three field trips that our son’s second grade class will take during the school year.

 

Entertainment – $1:

A bell for my bike from Ebay for just under $1 shipped. 

 

Trick or Treating! One of our kids’ favorite holidays.

 

Total Spending in 2019

 

Through the end of October we have spent $21,019 which is approximately $12,300 under the $33,333 budgeted for the first ten months of our $40,000 annual early retirement budget

With less than two months to go before the end of the year, it’s looking exceedingly likely that we will come in way under budget for 2019. We just booked a fun cruise on a whim to “help” us spend more money but there’s still a lot of money left in the budget. 

Some of that will be consumed as we book our summer 2020 vacation, however the bulk of the early spending for that trip will be airlines miles already accumulated and Airbnb gift card credit we purchased in the past. We are hoping to spend somewhere around six or seven weeks in South America spread across Chile, Argentina, Peru, and Brazil.

The only other big planned expense for the remainder of 2019 is our annual property tax bill of around $1,700.

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2019:

 

Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:

 

Based on my informal research, the economy seems to be doing very well. Almost all the Halloween candy the kids received this year was the “good stuff”. Mostly candy bars and very little cheap candy.

 

Net Worth: $2,167,000 (+$44,000)

We just wrapped up another month of strong net worth gains primarily driven by growth in the stock market. At $2,167,000, our net worth has reached a new all time high (and the gains keep coming in early November!).  

 

 

 

Update on Life In General

I’m enjoying the slow pace of life that comes with early retirement. That’s not to say that I sit around all day doing nothing. Life is still pretty busy. Between the kids, Netflix, video games, riding my bike, reading, and planning our next several vacations, it all adds up to a full time job! 

 

Hiking around Durant Nature Preserve in October just as the leaves started to turn.

 

As I write this update, it’s been 2,268 days since I left full time employment. During that stretch of time, I can’t recall a single day that I was bored. There have certainly been brief periods of time that I felt listless and adrift for a moment when I had just wrapped up a big project or trip and needed to decide what I would pursue next.

So far, I’m losing the battle against my Netflix queue and my “books to read” list keeps growing in spite of concerted efforts to whittle down both of those. My Steam library of video games expands before I can play all of my old titles. Miles and miles of trails remain unexplored around home. I’ve visited around 30 countries but still have plenty more to see. It’s unlikely life will get boring any time soon. Which is perfect.

Ok, that’s it for this month’s little update. Enjoy the rest of November! 

 

Perfect weather for a campfire down by the lake with friends!

 

How is life so far this fall? Looking forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas?

 

 

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53 comments

    1. We went 10 yrs ago. It was okay but not sure I’d pick it over Buenos Aires or the other places we’re planning on going. Maybe it’s different now though. Nice enough place to visit.

  1. Another great month. Just curious, I see Netflix referenced but do not see a subscription fee. Is there a hack I missed for this :-)?

    1. I usually get a $50 or $100 Netflix card at a discount and add it to the account. And I split the cost with my mom (it’s actually her account). So no monthly fee, just a big lump sum every 6-12 months.

        1. Emy – Once you get a Netflix gift card, go into the account section of your Netflix account and enter the number. Netflix will automatically charge monthly fees against the giftcard balance until it’s exhausted. Then it will automatically switch back to your CC/bank account.

  2. I hope you enjoy Aruba. We’ve had a timeshare there for 15 years, so we’ve been a dozen times or so (a few times we traded it). I was going to give a restaurant recommendation of El Gaucho, but I just realized that you’ll likely eat on the ship. Also, even though it’s reasonably priced by steakhouse standards, it’s pricey by Root of Good standards ;-).

    I wish I could give you some tips what to do there, but the port is around town which is mostly designed around shopping. I would say a good frugal activity is to go just enjoy the beaches.

    1. We haven’t looked too closely at what to do in Aruba but we have basically 2 full days there (get there in AM day 1 and leave dinner time day 2). We could get a rental car for 24 hrs and explore the island that way. What we do in a lot of ports in the Caribbean is hop on the little minibuses or minivans for a buck or two and ride around the island or head out of the port area that way. I assume that’s possible in Aruba and we won’t have to deal with car rental, parking, and driving. Any good beach recs that are easy-ish to get to from the port would be appreciated. I think we’ll do 1 beach day and 1 exploring day, plus maybe an exploring evening after beach.

      And you are right about the dining. We’ll most likely eat back on the ship. Hard to pass that up given the marginal cost ($0) and generally good quality.

  3. Another phenomenal month in retirement land for you and the family. I’m not worthy. We did have some similarities this month, though:
    1. Excellent increase in bottom line for the month. During these times holding financial assets that spin off dividends and gains is outstanding.
    2. Signed up for another cruise next year on top of the one for 2020 we already had booked. We also are on one next week out of Orleans with Carnival, our second of 2019. Life is good.
    3. Also have Netflix from our daughter’s account but we pay for it through gift cards we get her. Together with our Amazon Prime account had a chance to binge watch the latest seasons of “Peaky Blinders” and “Jack Ryan” recently, and looking forward to a few movies. Good shows both. Bummer that are Playstation Vue streaming TV service is ending permanently in January, though. Right now I’ll be replacing with YouTube TV, which seems to be the best for our needs.
    4. Opened up another cash back credit card, in this case Wells Fargo for the $300 rebate after spending $3000. Already have the highest paying cash rebate cards so I am somewhat limited. Between all cards I am currently sitting at about $2500 in rebates ready to use. Maybe another cruise?

    Best wishes and continued growth in your net worth. After five years our worth is higher than when I retired, and should continue that way if the markets cooperate. In fact I redid my budget for the upcoming year and combined with SS I will be pulling only about 1% of assets per year to fund all our yearly expenses, including extensive travel. Does not account for any one time expenses with the house (think appliance replacements, roof, etc) or if a large vehicle expense arises, but 1% is not a bad number for what the wife and I consider a blessed life. Take care my friend.

    1. Enjoy the cruises! Sounds like you can afford it!

      As for your Amazon/Netflix watch list, I like it 🙂 Currently watching Peaky Blinders (Season 5 as I’ve already watched previous 4 as they came out). Fun stock market tie in with the 1929 big October crash. 🙂

  4. I have a problem with someone having a net worth over 2 million, choosing purposely to have a low income, and then receiving taxpayer subsidized healthcare. Basically I feel like you are stealing. Wow! I’m sure you must be following the letter of the law but definitely not the spirit of the law. You spend money on cruises and other international travel, and spend time playing video games and watching Netflix among other things, but receive taxpayer money for healthcare for being “low income” by choice. I definitely find this morally objectionable and distasteful and it puts a whole new spin on the FI/RE movement for me. I think it is totally fine if you want to not work full time and you purposely want to be lower income and watch Netflix and hike and play video games — all good as long as it is on your dime. You could use your assets to cover your healthcare. But when you are accepting money from the government – basically the taxpayers- b/c of a hack you’ve identified that lets you sponge off the taxpayer – that is very distasteful. I wonder how many other FI/RE folks are doing this. Another reason not to vote for gov entitlement programs. They always get scammed like this. Again – it’s not a “scam” in any sort of legal sense but in a moral and ethical sense. I should not be paying for your health insurance as a tax payer in my opinion. If you were permanently disabled and/or underemployed short term due to adverse circumstances that is different. But with assets over 2 million?

    1. There’s like 10 million of us using ACA. I don’t know how many FIRe people specifically use it though. But I do know ACA usage is incredibly common among people who make less than 400% of the federal poverty level and don’t have employer provided health insurance.

      Because that’s literally the law that was written. They don’t look at assets, only income. It’s for old people, young people, rich people, poor people, tall people, and short people.

      I get it – as a taxpayer I don’t like paying for a lot of stuff that I disagree with. Every year or two you get a chance to vote. Sometimes more often. A lot of times I vote for people that are in favor of reducing government expenditures. Sometimes I don’t. Sometimes the people I vote for end up doing a crap job.

      As for your suggestion that I artificially lower my income to get ACA subsidies, it’s quite the other way around! I artificially increase my income using the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder in order to reduce my long term tax obligations. The end result is that I miss out on a tiny amount of ACA subsidies in the process but I (or my heirs) will pay a LOT less tax in the long term.

        1. The tolerant left strikes again. The OP said nothing of politics. Justin’s response said nothing of politics. Nate, on the other hand, goes into Trump bash mode. I consider myself right of center, and I do the same as the RoG family. My income is structured to be above the Medicaid line (where they do look at assets), but below the cost-sharing threshold. This is not a political issue, it is a financial one.

          1. Cry me a river you poor little fragile snowflake. Next time I will put a trigger warning ahead of my post so you don’t get your panties bunched up!

            “Tolerant left” lol

            Do you really think someone whining about tax payer funded subsidies for people that don’t work isn’t a political issue? LOL Mary’s post was chock full of standard whiny repu lican talking points. It’s kinda funny you are going to pretend that it wasn’t. Anything to get your two cents in though right? Good thing because a couple pennies is about all it was worth.

            Pointing out the hypocricy of people that vote Republican may be upsetting to you and for that I am not at all sorry.

          2. Also, for the record, I wasn’t bashing Trump. I was, however, commenting on the duality of his supporters. Basic reading comprehension would have keyed you into that.

          3. The eternally triggered like Nate can’t help themselves. They have been in “never Trump” mode for three years and will have to be that way for five more. Sad in many ways.

            1. LOL I made a lighthearted snarky post about how Trump supporters have two conflicting thoughts in their head–that people that take advantage of the tax code are both moochers and great businessmen–and I have not one but two internet sheriffs crying about it.

              “Triggered” indeed LOL

      1. Fantastic reply! It’s not a healthcare hack, it’s just you purchasing a health care plan that is being offered to you!

        As always, great job with managing your expenses! I’m always amazed at the cruise deals you find.

    2. I agree it feels “icky” but RoG is playing by the rules. The rules say he gets a subsidy at < 400% FPL. So he does. A massive taxpayer funded subsidy.

      Don't like the rules (I tend to fall into this camp)? Then enact change within the political process. BTW, one of the two political parties seems to be hell-bent on amplifying the disincentives to work.

      In my "decade of poverty" in grad school collecting an MBA + PhD with 3-5 kids in tow, I became quite aware of the powerful disincentives to work (in which I had a net worth between $100k-$250k while earning $25k-$30k annually). Most of us working professionals have no idea on the extent of the subsidies.

      It doesn't take a genius to realize that the disincentives to work are quite high. It's much easier not to work: free food (food stamps), free healthcare (medicaid or almost-free ACA if income is too high), free housing (section 8), free money (EITC). The cost of entry into these freebies: not working (preferably with kids).

      Tax free Roth conversions, $75k of tax-free capital gains & dividends / year also fits the bill of government handouts. Hell, the 10% and 12% brackets are another handout to low/middle income families.

      To exploit these subsidies, one must save (as RoG) as done, then quit (as RoG) has done. The only thing keeping the early retiree masses from following suit is the massive barrier to entry of needing $MM in the bank from which to live on without further labor income.

      1. Its amazing that the middle class eat their own while giving the wealthy a free pass when they exploit the tax code the fullest and be called the true patriots; ie Trump and Co.

        Don’t blame the marginalized communities when they sponge due to no fault of their own when their communities where red lined which resulted in little or no investments and lack of loans/borrowing to create wealth.

    3. Mary Young, at least Justin and other FIRE people who are getting the ACA subsidized have worked their butts off for so many years have paid their taxes. And now they are reaping the rewards of the subsidized. So what? But what about those (are you one of them?) who are real leeches to society, the ones who have never worked a full-time job in their life but are able to and have been collecting free money(cheap housing etc.) from the government forever? I have a problem with lazy people who have never paid a single cent in taxes because they refused to get a job. Are you bitter because you are one of those people? …Never mind answering this question because you’d be lying any way…

  5. For dental, do you know if your local community college has a dental hygiene clinic? We just went to ours last week (the whole family) and had a good experience. I think adult cleanings are around $26 apiece. It takes about twice as long as a regular dentist visit b/c it’s a learning lab environment, but the students are hilarious and it’s nice to not stare at advertisements for up-charges like in a traditional dentist office.

    1. We do have a community college dental clinic. It says cleanings take 3-4 hours though! Costs are roughly the same. $25 for cleaning. Looks like no examination by a dentist though. I’ll stick with the regular dentist for now. Good hack though – I didn’t realize we had a community college dental clinic and it’s <10 minutes from our house (and right on my normal bike riding route!).

    1. Ha ha – it’s on a list. Not sure if it’ll make this list for next summer though! 🙂 Some of the reason is I’m working my frequent flyer miles and these airport departure taxes are adding up!

      Colombia might make the list for a couples getaway in the future. Pretty close to Raleigh and easy to do with points.

  6. Trump has goats grazing on some of his country golf clubs that saves tens of thousands in local, state and federal taxes via farm tax credits.

    Also in favor of healthcare subsidies to all including to those who sponge. Being healthy is a human right and should be separated from ability to work. Hospitals and other medical providers should not be penalized in the old days when those without the means clogged up the ER with uncompensated care. Those with insurance payed with higher premiums and out of pocket.

    If you do not like sponging, why do you all support when deep southern and Appalachian states have nearly 45% of their state budget dollars covered by the Federal gov’t via federal revenue sharing dollars paid by California, Oregon, Washington State, MN, CT, NJ, NY, MA tax payers?

  7. Hi, I am early retired and used to pay full rate on ACA which was about $20,000 annually for a family of 3. My family is currently on an off-exchange health plan since it is slightly cheaper.

    Unlike Mary above, I have absolutely no problem with you being subsidized. You didn’t write the rules, our government did. And that’s exactly what happens when our government gets involved with wealth redistribution. During my retirement years, I have paid over 100k USD to net investment tax which supposedly goes to paying for ACA. I am a huge payer into the system and believe paying for medicare for all will bankrupt this country (given we are likely insolvent already). But none of that is your fault, I’d do the same thing if in your situation. Everyone gets to decide where their dollars are best spent or donated given the rules we live by.

    1. Well said. I’m not convinced Medicare for all will bankrupt our country but it’s a fact that somebody has to pay for it. I doubt it’ll be people in my income/wealth bracket but might be people in yours! I’d have no problem if they said “hey, let’s all chip in” and pay 10% tax or something similar up to a certain amount of income (similar to social security) then give free or near-free health insurance to all. That seems more equitable and we all have skin in the game. I don’t think megamillionaires are a magical source of infinite wealth from which we can endlessly squeeze resources. Why not ask those of us in the middle for a little too?

      1. Ah yes, I can feel the old flat tax argument rearing its head again. I think it makes sense for all to pay something, as we all need health care and public services that are provided through paying taxes.

        I remember reading a comment from one of Britain’s wealthiest men years ago ($400M), Felix Dennis, telling people to always pay your taxes. It’s not worth possibly going to jail for tax evasion. And I agree.

        Best wishes,
        Miriam

  8. Wow, $21 for three field trips? That’s amazingly cheap! I recently paid $25 just for *one* field trip.

    You truly do live in a absurdly cheap part of the country.

    Great month Justin!

    1. It’s a benefit of attending a school where most are lower income. Middle school full of fancy spendy families is a different story. $100-300 for a field trip is typical but my kids don’t really care to go (after going on 1 in 6th grade).

      I imagine the people living several miles west where houses cost 2-3x as much probably spend 2-3x as much as we do. Groceries cost more, the Joneses spend more, field trips probably cost more, restaurants cost more. Luxury cars cost more than my used minivan, etc. 🙂

      1. No kidding! I know someone paying $700 a month for a car loan, but complains about bills and needing to cut housing costs. You don’t say?

        In the illustrious words of the kid in the movie The Sandlot, “You’re killing me Smalls!” Sell the gas guzzling SUV, and invest that money.

        I actually run a blog about rejecting new car ownership in order to become FI. I put hundreds of thousands in Mr. Market by saying no to buying new cars. The fact this person knows that just hurts my feelings. Therefore, at this time me and my blog would like to request privacy during this difficult time. No further comments will follow.

      2. This issue came up when our kids were in CA public schools. The law said that public schools could no longer charge families for field trips or “punish” the kids by being left at school if they did not pay because schools were to provide a free education. So, now field trips are a donation but all students participate regardless of whether they pay, which I totally agree is the right decision.

        1. That’s interesting. I wonder if the kids would get left behind at my kid’s school if they don’t pay. The main cost is usually the transportation (the school has to pay to “rent” a district school bus and driver).

          1. No bus fees for us. We had parent chaperones for all field trips and the parents drove the students in their own car. The teacher would assign the car groups and drivers had to give info for background checks. I must admit, I never felt comfortable with this situation because of liability issues. When we moved to CA, I asked about signing up for bus transportation and the district did not offer one! I had never heard of such a thing before. They explained that each school district was allowed to divvy up their state money as they wished and our district did not want to pay extra for busses; they said the parents in the district would get the kids to school.

  9. Fellow early retiree here and I’m so happy to see your expense update! We just retired this year and expecting to add kiddo #2 next February. We’re in under COBRA this year since and although we know that healthcare is expensive and we planned for it, it still stings whenever it hit our account. Last month, we spent $1700 on healthcare, with premiums, medications and doctor visits. Next year, with our planned “income” it looks like the kiddo/s will be fully subsidized. Question, did you pay off your mortgage? I didn’t see a line item, so I’m assuming you did.

  10. Interesting questions about “means” or “net worth” testing for medical insurance.
    I am sure you and most FIRE people paid plenty of taxes up front when you were working.
    There should be some reward for working harder and saving more money than the majority of people for the early part of your life.
    Ideally medical insurance should be affordable for everyone, but this problem has not been solved yet in the USA.

    1. I know. And having more wealth now means we’ll probably pay more tax later (big Traditional IRA/401k balances, for example). And we will be ineligible for medicaid in old age. More wealth = much less of a burden on the taxpayers for all the benefits programs that actually are means tested (as it should be).

      It’s almost like the government set a policy to incentivize savings (IRAs, 401ks, etc) and we took advantage of it. As if they knew that having a wealthier population would save on government welfare benefits in the long term!

  11. Hey Justin, love your content! I just left my corporate software sales job a little over a week ago and I’m loving it! I went back into corporate software sales about 5 years ago because I knew we could stack some Benjamins and we have! Even though we’re technically only about 60% of the way to our “FI” number, I’m just too burned out to continue. Instead I’m diving full time into my financial coaching side hustle (www.zerodebtcoach.com) and couldn’t be more at peace with my decision. We have a very low burn rate, so we’re not concerned about burning through our savings/investments at all. Love reading your posts as it helps us to stay focuses on the “economic defense” side of the equation. Question: I discovered you on The Mad FIentists’ Podcast. Have you done any more podcast interviews lately? Thanks and keep up the great work!

  12. Like yourself, my family does not have dental insurance and try to time our treatments with international travel. I have had my teeth cleaned (for a fraction of the cost in the U.S.) in Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. So far I haven’t had a bad experience and they don’t try to “up sell” additional services like many dentists in the U.S. do. I have heard good things about dentistry in Mexico as well.

    Did you consider having your teeth cleaned during your recent vacation to SE Asia?

  13. Hi Justin, two questions. From what I am reading in your post you are living mostly out of your income from blogging correct? Q#2. What would you buy a MasterCard Card? Was it something you bought for a gift and you did not gifted and that is why you had to use it for your taxes?

    1. Technically I’m saving most of my blogging income in my solo 401k and living off of a bit plus dividends and some small sales from my taxable account. But yes, my blogging income is close to my living expenses most years.

      I usually buy Visa gift cards from Gift Card Mall online. Or sometimes office supply stores like Staples have deals on Mastercard gift cards where the $5.95 fee (or whatever it is) is waived, or they give $10 discount from purchase of $200-300 of cards that makes it effectively no fee to purchase.

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