July 2018 Financial Update – Home Again!

It’s early August and we’ve been at home for about two weeks after spending a month vacationing in the Bahamas during June and July. Summer is flying by incredibly fast because we have been so busy!

Our oldest two kids just wrapped up two weeks in summer camp. The whole family has enjoyed lunch, dinner, or play dates with several groups of friends that we haven’t seen all summer. Back to school shopping is mostly done. And school starts in three short weeks!

In the meantime, our lazy investment portfolio continues to be busy as well (in a very hands-off way).  Our net worth shot up by $46,000 during the month of July to $2,084,000. Spending was particularly low at $1,389 while income remained strong at $4,361 for the month.

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I Retired at 33 By Tracking Every Dollar I Spent

“JM”, a new commenter on the blog, left a great comment asking about tracking spending and how that helps you get to Financial Independence.

“Do you track all your monthly spending, no matter how minute? Did this help get you to Financial Independence? And how?”  -JM

The quick answer is yes, I did track all spending down to the dollar while working towards FI. And looking back, tracking everything I spent was pivotal to accelerating my journey to FI.

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June 2018 Financial Update – Bahamas Edition

We’re living it up in the Bahamas on vacation right now! I’m taking a break from the waves, sun, and sand to provide the regular monthly financial/life update. At this point we are half way through our one month stay.  Although there isn’t much to do here beyond swim in the ocean, play in the pool, and walk along the canals and marshland, we’re having a good time. We brought lots of books and the wifi and air conditioning are top notch!

Did our finances have a nice month too?  In June, we did well from a cash flow perspective with income from investments and the blog exceeding our expenditures. Income was $8,867 while expenses were only $3,554.  The stock market wasn’t very kind to us in June, so our net worth dropped by $16,000 to $2,038,000.  There’s still enough money in the investment accounts to keep me smiling in the Bahamas!

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Amsterdam’s Cheese Museum and Bike Parking Garages

The final stop on our nine week, fourteen city summer vacation across Europe brought us to Amsterdam, Netherlands for a quick three day stay before flying back to North Carolina (and home!).

While in Amsterdam we explored canals and rivers, centuries old streets and buildings, and some more modern spaces like the iconic OBA Amsterdam Public Library.

Read on to find out how we wrapped up nine weeks in Europe!

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May 2018 Financial Update – Animals Everywhere!

Over here in the Root of Good household we’re counting down the days till summer. It feels like it’s already here though! May was a lot warmer than usual with highs in the 80’s most days and lots of humidity, including a jolt of moisture from a very early season Tropical Storm Alberto.  I suppose this will be good training for our month in the Bahamas starting in two weeks!

How did we make out money-wise in May?  Our net worth climbed $21,000 to bring the total to $2,054,000.  Reasonably good stock market returns were the main driver of net worth gains in May.  Income remained solid at $3,426 for the month. With $3,366 in spending, our May expenses climbed to the highest point for 2018.  However, it’s still great news that our spending is less than our income!

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Loneliness – An Unfounded Fear in Early Retirement?

“I never want to quit working because I’ll be socially isolated and I won’t be able to make new friends.”  Is this a legitimate concern or one of the worst objections to early retirement?

There is reason in worrying about loneliness in retirement but it’s not a good reason to work forever, especially if you don’t like your job! Getting out of a stressful work situation will make you a nicer, better person and therefore more likable and friendly.

If work is your only source of friends and social interaction, then perhaps it’s time to broaden your social network and look for friendship in other places.

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Koblenz, Germany, Eltz Castle, and the Mosel and Rhine Rivers

The thirteenth (and next to last) stop on our nine week, fourteen city summer vacation across Europe brought us to Koblenz, Germany.  The city of Koblenz sits at the confluence of the Mosel and Rhine River in the western part of Germany.

After spending most of the previous eight weeks of vacation in urban settings, we decided to give rural living a shot for a week.  We rented a spacious three bedroom apartment in a country house in the village of Mariaroth about 15 minutes from the center of Koblenz.

While staying near Koblenz, we visited the Eltz Castle, several villages in the Mosel and Rhine river valleys, and toured downtown Koblenz during what turned out to be a rather rainy week for us.  

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The Wall and The War: Exploring Berlin, Germany

As we near the end of the review of our nine week, fourteen city summer vacation across Europe, our twelfth stop brought us to Berlin, Germany for a week of history, culture, food, and friends.

Berlin was everything I expected and then some. Great summertime weather, nice people, minimal crowds, easy transit, good food, all with low prices (for a major European capital city).  I’d certainly rate Berlin a hidden gem on this basis.  My naive hypothesis is that Berlin is still a city in transition following World War II devastation and the post-war sundering of Berlin into East and West halves by the former USSR and the western Allies.

The Berlin Wall fell in 1989 and Germany reunited as one country shortly thereafter in 1990.  In today’s Berlin there are ample reminders of the turbulent past century in the form of museums, memorials, and preserved segments of the Berlin Wall. Though it’s hard to imagine anything bad actually happened when you’re sitting in a placid city park or strolling down the quiet riverfront.  Then you catch a glimpse of pockmarked walls and columns on old buildings and that makes you wonder if those were caused by bullets or an exploding shell that barely missed its mark.

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April 2018 Financial Update – Busy Times!

April was a blast! It was also an incredibly busy month.  We helped out at the kid’s elementary school by chaperoning a field trip and running the school’s spring carnival raffle.  I spent four days at CampFI Midatlantic where I presented “How to Develop an Early Retirement Budget”.  JD Roth stopped by the house for a few hours before heading up to the camp.  The whole family did a staycation for spring break.  We assembled a couple more bicycles for us adults. To close out April we threw a big birthday party for our six year old.  I’m pretty sure I was less busy when I was working!

In financial terms, April was a good month.  After a couple months of losses, our net worth reversed course and climbed by a modest $9,000 to $2,033,000.  Our spending remained low at $1,977 which was just a tiny bit more than our April income of $1,837.

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Czech it out: Exploring Prague in a Week

The eleventh stop on our nine week, fourteen city summer vacation across Europe brought us to Prague, the capital city of the Czech Republic.

20 years ago Prague was an up and coming budget tourism destination full of culture and history where one could escape the higher prices of western Europe. Today, it still has the charm of the good old days but with slightly higher price tags compared to much of the rest of low-cost central and eastern Europe.

While in Prague, we visited the usual mix of castles, churches, and historic town squares.  I was surprised at how many tourists were jam-packed into the center of the historic center of town. Maybe it was due to our visit falling in the middle of the peak summer tourist season? Fortunately we found a quiet escape just a mile south of the historic Old Town section of Prague at the Vysehrad Fort.

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