September 2018 Financial Update – Fall is Here at Last!

Better late than never, right? Since we’ve been cruising the Caribbean without internet, this monthly financial update and slice of early retired life is about two weeks late.  I’ll work on the timeliness in the future. If I have time 🙂

Aside from having fun on the cruise, I’m extremely excited that it finally feels like fall here in North Carolina. The air conditioning is off and the windows are open after a long, hot, humid summer. Time to enjoy the outdoors before it gets cold!

Financially, September was an okay month. Income exceeded expenses, which is always good. We brought in $2,829 in September while only spending $1,342. On the net worth balance sheet, we shed $12,000 in value to bring our net worth to a still respectable $2,086,000.

Without further ado, here’s our September month in review:

 

Income

Investment income totaled $2,128 in September. Our equity mutual funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly in March, June, September, and December, which means this month’s dividends are much higher than most months.  And perhaps due to the end of the month falling on a weekend, a lot of dividends arrived in very early October. As a result, we’ll have a good chunk of investment income in October as well. More on our dividend income.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, dropped from a healthy $4,588 in August to an anemic $152 for the month of September. This drop was expected since I received two big advertiser checks in August and zero in September. Another advertiser paid slightly later than usual, with a big $1,000+ payment arriving in very early October. So October might end up having a few double payments like August!

Fortunately I don’t rely on blog income for cash flow or retirement spending, so a month where I earn only $152 from the blog doesn’t steal any of my precious sleep.

 

This hummingbird is symbolic of my September blog income. It smashed into our rear patio door, knocked itself out, and fell onto the deck. Don’t worry, it eventually recovered and flew away. Resiliency.

 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $472 in September which represents about one hour per week of consulting. I’m enjoying the nice slow pace of this little hustle since I’ve been busy with the whole “retire and have fun” thing lately.

Deposit income of $72 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.

Restaurant “income” of $2 doesn’t mean we opened up a restaurant to sell our awesome home-cooked food. After being surprised by this unexpected income, I did a little digging.

Apparently the two McDonald’s app purchases from August were refunded. It’s not worth my time to investigate why, but I’ll take the $2. I assume the restaurant failed to mark my orders as “picked up” so I automatically received a refund??

And that’s the income report for September. I need to highlight the fact that we have income arriving every month from several sources of income such as this blog, my consulting sessions, and our passive index fund portfolio. A bad month of income in one or two areas doesn’t necessarily mean we have a bad month overall, as September’s financials illustrate well.

 

 

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.

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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 September expenses:

 

In total, we spent a miserly $1,342 during September which is roughly $2,000 less than our target spending of $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year).  Top expenses for September include travel and groceries which is a trend that we’ve seen in July and August expenses too.

 

Detailed breakdown of spending:

 

Groceries – $596:

Another month of fairly routine grocery shopping at our normal places: Aldi, Lidl, SuperWalmart, and Food Lion. Grocery spending is slightly higher than usual since I stocked up on some staples at Food Lion during their semi-annual “Quarter Back” promotion where you get a $0.25 discount on all store brand items.

Also wrapped up within the “grocery” category this month was some “charitable giving”. We bought about $60 worth of extra school supplies and treats for teachers at Walmart and Lidl to donate to our kid’s school. The school supplies were mixed in with other grocery purchases so I left what would rightly be called “charity” in the “groceries” category.

As long as we track our overall spending accurately I’m not too concerned with some slippage between budget categories. The Four Percent Rule doesn’t care whether you’re spending on food or charity.

 

Our groceries would be cheaper if we replaced steak and green papaya with more rice and beans. But what’s the point?

 

Papaya salad encore appearance as papaya and steak fajitas.

 

Travel – $494:

We just got back from a trip aboard the Caribbean Princess cruise ship where we made a ten day voyage through the Caribbean.  Ports of call included:

  • Princess Cays, Bahamas (private island)
  • St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
  • St. Kitts
  • St. Lucia
  • Antigua
  • St. Maarten

The cruise fare itself was $1,316 total for the two of us which we paid in August (the kids didn’t come on this trip!).

 

The adults only spa pool on board the Caribbean Princess. I spent a lot of time here alternating between the hot tubs and the chilly pool.

 

To get to Fort Lauderdale, we used 7,500 British Airways points each plus paid $5.60 for taxes for a nonstop Raleigh to Miami flight. The return trip (from West Palm Beach) was 4,600 Southwest points each plus $5.60 in taxes.

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.

For the cruise, we paid for train tickets to Ft. Lauderdale from the Miami airport and a Lyft ride to the cruise terminal from the train station. I also prepaid for a rental car for the day of our return to Ft. Lauderdale so we could explore the local area before flying home to Raleigh.

Other travel spending includes another $450 of Airbnb gift cards bought at a discount when Raise.com had a sale.  I’m buying as many Airbnb gift cards as I can since we’ll be spending eight weeks in Southeast Asia in Airbnbs.

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

 

Fish and chips with mushy peas from the English Pub on board our cruise.

 

Clothing/Shoes – $77:

$60 for two pairs of new shoes. One pair for me and one for my daughter. I wear out shoes more frequently in retirement now that I’m outside walking around more.

$17 for an epic thrift shop haul. About 15 articles of clothing for me and our six year old son.  Several items were brand new.  We randomly visited the thrift shop when all men’s clothing was half off and I had a $5 off $20 coupon too!

 

Home Maintenance – $52:

$3 for a gallon of gas for the lawnmower. I always enjoy riding my bike to the gas station to buy gas because of the fun looks I get along the way.

$49 for several bags of ant killer treatment for our yard plus several new pairs of leather work gloves. Time to do some yard work now that the cooler weather is here! And cut some firewood for fall/winter campfires under the stars.

 

Eventually I won’t be climbing on top of the house for DIY repairs. Here I am fixing the gutters before Hurricane Florence hit us.

 

Florence projections showed it heading straight for Raleigh until it veered southward a day before landfall. We got lucky!

 

We did lose a sickly dogwood tree from our front yard. RIP dogwood, we barely knew ye.

 

Gas – $43:

I refilled the minivan before Hurricane Florence just in case things got really bad here and we needed to make a quick escape.

 

One of my cheap hobbies – riding the trails and greenways of Raleigh!

 

General Merchandise – $43:

Two sets of king size bed sheets.

 

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.

 

Education – $10:

Picked up a few items for the kids at Walmart and Dollar Tree.

 

Electronics – $10:

Four new high quality, high amperage HDMI cables from Monoprice. The kids wear out these cables about once per year.

 

Note on Health Insurance, Utilities, and other expenses

  • 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.
  • 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 $600 worth of positive balances on our electric and water accounts
  • We didn’t have any new restaurant expenses in September. I used up an old gift card for some pizza but that was it for dining out spending

 

Kitchen upgrade: we finally replaced our 46 year old cooktop with a free (used) flat surface cooktop taken from a neighbor’s kitchen renovation.

 

 

Total Spending in 2018

 

We are three quarters of the way through 2018 and we have spent $20,552 year to date.  That’s about $9,500 less than the $30,000 budgeted for the first nine months of our $40,000 early retirement budget.

We’ll be doing quite a bit more travel related spending in the next few months. We owe two thousand dollars for our Christmas and Spring Break cruises with the whole family.

In March, we will celebrate our fifteenth anniversary.  We hope to book a one to two week trip for that occasion. Mexico City is a front runner. Swanky Airbnb, coffee at sidewalk cafes, a bunch of tacos, and some cervezas and vino por la noche. And maybe we’ll visit ancient ruins and a volcano while there.

In summer of 2019 we will travel to Southeast Asia for around eight weeks. We will be planning that trip in more detail during late 2018 into 2019.  I’ve already accumulated $2,000 of Airbnb credit so spending on lodging for this trip might be relatively minor during 2018.

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

Forecasting spending into the next few months, I can see that we’ll be spending a lot more than the $1,342 spent in September. But overall, we are on track to end 2018 with a decent budget surplus as we have in three out of the past four years of my early retirement.

 

A pic of our lake during Hurricane Florence. Seven inches of rain over four days didn’t cause any flooding by our house but the lake level rose by a foot or two.

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2018:

 

Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:

 

Something new to us: coyotes prowling behind our rear fence.

 

Net Worth: $2,086,000 (-$12,000)

During the month of September we only saw a modest reduction to our net worth due to a slight decline in the stock market. Our net worth dropped by $12,000 to $2,086,000.  October has been much bloodier so far, but that’s a story for next month’s financial update.

 

 

We’re still feeling wealthy and flush with cash. We’re sitting on a $180,000 stockpile of cash, CD’s, and bonds so we aren’t too worried about the recent stock market dip in early October.

What happens if October marks the start of the next big recession and multi-year stock market crash? We’ll probably be okay.

The fixed income portion of our portfolio would last us for five years if we maintained our average spending at $35,000 per year. In fact, we would probably spend less than that since discretionary travel should grow cheaper during a recession. On top of the fixed income cushion, we also earn around $35,000 in dividend income each year. And to add another layer of security, I have income from this blog and my consulting business, though those streams of income are rather variable month to month.

In any event, I’m not worried about running out of money in early retirement.

 

View from the back of the ship. A great place to relax for a few hours staring at the horizon as you let your worries wash away.

 

For those still working, you should view the drop in the market in October as a good thing. It’s a buying opportunity. Should the market continue to drop, you’ll be getting even more shares for the same amount of money. If you’re still contributing to your investment accounts early in your FIRE journey then you should he hoping for a stock market correction so you can buy into the market at lower average prices.

Looking back at 2008 and 2009, our continued monthly investments during that period of time were a huge contributing factor to enable early retirement in our 30’s with a seven figure portfolio.

I’ve had a lot of people send me messages asking if this is the start of the next big market crash. If I knew anything for certain, I’d be running the best performing multi-billion dollar hedge fund that Wall Street has ever seen.

But given my limited knowledge, I can only look at the history of the stock market. It tends to go up and down over time. Lately it’s been going up a lot for more than nine years. Eventually it will go sideways or down. When, for how long, and how far down?  Who knows?!

 

 

How did you do in September? Enjoying the fall weather so far?

 

 

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47 comments

  1. I always enjoy riding my bike to the gas station to buy gas because of the fun looks I get along the way.

    I hope we can eventually get to a point in America where riding a bike isn’t looked down upon, but I have my doubts….

    Great update!

      1. This isn’t true for all of America. On the west coast, it’s pretty common for people to commute by bike, run errands, or simply to get exercise. Many cities and towns are bike friendly, with dedicated bike lanes and bike storage.

        1. My comment was a joke, but you are right. Some areas do a better job of encouraging bike ridership compared to others. Some places in Raleigh actually have decent bike ridership such as around the university. And we are getting better – bike lanes keep appearing in random spots, though it’s nowhere near a cohesive network of bike lanes that we could actually use.

    1. Yes, on 5 of the islands. We skipped St. Maarten this time around because we’ve been on the island a few times before, it rained a lot, and we’re going back with the kids in 2 months 🙂 We sat on the ship and watched goats on the mountainside all day instead.

    2. Along this line, do you pay for shore excursions? We cruise a bit, too, and do a mixture of shore excursions once or twice and then just hanging out some. Those shore excursions can sure add up! I will say, though, that we just did a cruise in early September and the two excursions we did were not sponsored by the cruise line…and they were great! Thank you, Tripadvisor, but they still each cost us around $200 per couple.

      1. We rarely do shore excursions which as you know saves us many hundreds of dollars. We may in the future if we see one worth doing. Although there’s usually a private tour/excursion that’s the same thing offered by the cruise line at 10-50% of the cost. I heard a family in Mexico negotiate (in Spanish) for a $66 swim with the dolphins for her whole family and the same experience was $199 *per person* through the cruise line I think. We of course sat 15 feet away and enjoyed the private show for free!

        1. Yep, this last time in Costa Maya, instead of doing a pricy excursion, we took an $8 cab ride to the main beach area and rented some beach chairs out front for $20 per couple. We had a fantastic time just hanging on the beach and swimming. We were feeling pretty smug until we walked across the street and enjoyed a nice taco lunch and then got hit with a $100 US bill for four people. What? I grew up going to Mexico and have never paid that much for a few tacos and guac. We just didn’t investigate the peso conversion rate. Now we know! Live, travel and learn.

          1. $100 for tacos?!?!? I’ve never paid that much for tacos in the US!! Yes – always be careful especially in tourist areas.

            We tend to do what you mentioned – take local transport somewhere, enjoy the scenery or relax. We’ve done ferries, buses, taxis, extended walks. Then free beaches or inexpensive attractions.

    1. No slips or falls for me this time around! 😉

      We didn’t spend much on the cruise, as is usual for us. Even the port visits were cheap – a few bucks here and there for local bus fares to get across the island and back to the ship.

  2. So long as either my wife or I still have a job, this downturn is pretty handy. It’s nice to be buying equities on temporary clearance!

    Glad to hear your cruise went well. As usual, your photos of homemade food are inspirational! Ever thought of a post dedicated to frugal eats, with recipes?

  3. nice share justin. we have been waiting long on this
    In our recent vacation we utilized travel credit cards to save aton on flight tickets
    We have been to asia in the past and used airbnb. However, the location was not so good as promised
    My advice would be have an eye while booking accomodation in airbnb with asian countries

    1. You’re right – have to be very careful with airbnbs as to location. Sometimes “minutes to X location” means 20 or 30 minutes! 🙂 So far I’m seeing a lot of good options in SE Asia on airbnb and we’ll also look at hotels and other apartments too.

  4. I have to ask how HDMI cables get worn out. Maybe I haven’t learned that life lesson with kids 6 and 4 year old?

    Right now they just seem to sit there and do their thing year after year. It’s one of the few things in my tech budget that I simply don’t have to think about.

    1. You’d have to ask my kids! 🙂 Probably a lot of factors – my kids might be more destructive than yours. Device quantity keeps growing (and sometimes I buy used so they don’t come with cables). One kid requested a longer cable (the old cable is fine and now I have it). Otherwise, just wear and tear. The little connectors wear out and my six year old is pretty rough on them. I usually buy 3-4 at a time since monoprice charges flat rate $2.99 shipping for small purchases under a pound or so. So hopefully we’ll be good for a few more years.

  5. Great job with the expenses, as usual. I think that’s your superpower. You can make it through pretty much anything because your overhead is so low. This fall is kind of strange. It’s warming up this week in Portland. It’ll be sunny 70s and comfortable. Normally, it’d be cold and rainy by now.
    The downturn isn’t a big deal for us so far. Last week, I moved $25,000 to equity. Let’s see how it goes the rest of the year. More drop means more wealth later.
    Oh, when are you guys going to Thailand next year? We’ll probably be there in the summer. Let’s meet up if we can.

    1. Sunny and 70’s sounds pretty nice 🙂 It switched from 80’s and humid before our cruise to 60’s and 70’s (with lows in the 40’s!!) right after we got back. We went from AC to contemplating turning on the heat! It’s usually rather dry during our fall which is nice too for doing stuff outside. Really pretty day today here.

      As for Thailand, we don’t have exact itinerary yet. We land in Saigon Vietnam in mid-June and will probably spend the next month in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Then we’ll spend part of July and August (about 1 month) in Thailand. Probably in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and maybe Udon Thani or somewhere else. Let me know if you have any favorite spots or smaller/regional cities/towns we should visit (not including beaches/islands – we’ll probably skip that on this trip). I’m definitely up for meeting up if we’re in the same place at the same time! We should have a week minimum in each city in Thailand so we’ll have time for relaxing. Let’s compare notes once you and I get some details worked out.

    1. Thanks. Florence worried us a bit until it turned south and dodged Raleigh. We had our go bags packed and ready to escape and I was about to get the life jackets out of the shed just in case the flood came in the middle of the night. Fortunately these preparations weren’t necessary.

  6. Hey Justin. Long time reader, second time posting to this blog. It is a guiding light in my life. Really.

    Help me understand something. You write:

    Investment income totaled $2,128 in September. Our equity mutual funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly in March, June, September, and December, which means this month’s dividends are much higher than most months.

    Then you write:

    On top of the fixed income cushion, we also earn around $35,000 in dividend income each year.

    If you earned $2,128 in September, and this is more than most months, how over the course of the year does it add up to $35,000? I know you did mention that October will also be higher than usual due to the end of the month falling on a weekend. Even so, I can’t make sense of it.
    If you earn $2,000 in March, June, September, and December, that equals $8,000.
    If you earn $1,000 in all the other months (8 of them), that equals $8,000.
    Total is $16,000.

    How does it add up to $35,000? I apologize in advance, but I’m missing something. (By the way, I’m NOT trolling. I’m really trying to understand.) Help a brother out.

    With a $2 million dollar portfolio, it appears as though you earn a little less than 2% a year in dividends. (2% of 2 million = $40,000).

    One last thing that is related…At the end of each of your blogs, you write your monthly expense summary for 2018. It may be neat to include a monthly dividend income summary for 2018. Just a thought. Take it or leave it. You could even include a chart with your blog income or your side hustle. You’ve probably already thought of this, but figured I would throw it out there.

    As always, if you have already answered my question somewhere else on your blog, feel free to direct me there.

    Terrific job. Keep it up.

    Update: Now that I’m reviewing some archives, I see that in December 2017, you earned $10,000 in investment income. Ahhhh, now it’s starting to make sense. Even so, I’m going to still post my question just in case you have additional thoughts. Thanks Justin.

    1. ” I see that in December 2017, you earned $10,000 in investment income. Ahhhh, now it’s starting to make sense. ”

      That’s the ticket right there. Quarterly dividends (which fall in late Sept and early Oct at Q3 end) total around $4000-5000 or so typically. Add to that the $10-15000 we get in December plus a little bit in non-quarter end months and we’re over $30k on an annual basis. Dividend yield is somewhere between 2-3%, or at least it was prior to the most recent stock market increase in 2016-17. Yield % might have dropped a bit but actual dividend dollar amounts seem to be increasing.

  7. Since I’m still in the accumulation phase I certainly wouldn’t mind a recession or market adjustment downwards. I was pumped when I saw the market went down 5% in the two days preceding my auto bi weekly 401k contributions! No matter I lost thousands in net worth, it’ll go back up eventually 🙂

    Glad to hear you made it through the hurricane alright!

  8. Wow! Amazingly low spending as usual RoG!

    I’m glad the hurricane didn’t cause too much damage for you. With the lake being nearby, was flooding a concern?

    Anyway, thanks for the great monthly update! You seem to be killing it as usual!

    1. Flooding is a concern only if we get the perfect storm with extremely intense rainfall for an extended duration. Hurricane Matthew in 2016 was the closest we’ve come to flooding and the upstream creek (which is what will flood us according to FEMA flood models) was still about 5 feet below flood level. And even at that point, the flood would only get our crawl space (hot water heater; maybe HVAC if high enough). We were still about ~7 ft below the lowest finished floor elevation getting flooded.

      So we’re mostly safe for all but the very worst of storms (probably a 500 or 1000 year storm would be required, so there’s a 0.1 to 0.2% annual chance we’ll get the big one aka not too much to worry about until it’s staring at us point blank). I don’t carry flood insurance if that tells you how concerned I am.

      1. Well, according to Suze Orman, you’re gonna get hit with a flood or tornado or hurricane so BE PREPARED!! Your $2M portfolio won’t save you then. You’re doomed!!!!!

        Glad to hear you were all packed and ready to get out of Dodge if need be. We’ve had hurricanes come through our area before and bring a lot of rain which wasn’t pretty. My son was actually born just before Hurricane Sandy came through but luckily we weren’t in the direct path and rode it out in the hospital where the backup generators worked flawlessly.

        1. Eh – no biggie! We have insurance against tornado and hurricane wind and rain. Only flooding is uninsured. A small deductible and we’re made whole except for the flooding. With the flooding we’ll probably be out of pocket $5k if it’s just a couple feet and $15-20k if it goes up 10 ft higher than we’ve ever seen before during the worst hurricanes in the past. That would represent a 10,000 year flooding event probably 🙂 Could happen but Suze will be soaking wet too if it does.

  9. September was a nice month for both dividends from our investment sources, but also attractive for the options income I goose our returns with. Pulled in over $11K in one week alone during the month; believe me, this is not the norm for me at all, it was just a great week for one option in particular.

    The wife is driving me nuts with her talk about our cruise next May; she can’t wait (Carnival as well out of New Orleans). In the meantime we have a week in the Smokies here in TN, and three months in North Myrtle Beach from Dec into Mar. I think she needs an intervention of some sort. Glad you guys enjoyed your cruise and hopefully we’ll meet up sometime in a ship bar or wherever.

    1. Congrats on the options income – sounds like a nice haul!

      Keep pushing the vacations hard as long as you can do it (and afford it). I doubt you’ll regret it in another couple decades. 🙂

  10. Love it! Thank you for sharing. I so look forward to these posts every month. It’s awesome to see a day in the life. Also great job replacing your cooktop for free! Was that fortuitous with your neighbor or were you looking around for a good deal like that? We did something similar with our TV. I waited 6 months and then got one from a friend’s sister that was moving for $30 including the stand! I love that kind of stuff. Feels like winning. Thank you for sharing another awesome update – and good luck with that coyote. I don’t want Mr. Tako writing a follow up post on your next ‘demise’ 😉

    1. The stovetop was a fortuitous freebie. A neighbor a few blocks away gutted and remodeled her kitchen and giving away all the cabinets and appliances for free. So the stovetop was lightly used and mostly functional (it has a burned out element on the front dual burner, so it’s only half strength on that one burner at this point). I’ve had the cooktop sitting in the shed for a year or two waiting for the old cooktop to die. The old one never died completely but I was going to have to spend $20-30 to order a special part to replace the old rusting one, so I figured that was enough of a death knell, and it was time to replace it completely.

      Funny note on the coyote: I thought it was a husky that someone in the neighborhood had reported as missing. I almost went out to catch it inside the fence, or at least open the gate so it could get to the front of the house where it kept staring (probably wanting to eat my neighbor’s small dogs).

  11. These are so fun to read.
    A typo: there might be an extra “july” in expenses. I think in my 10 months of “following” and by following i mean super stalking the blog, that’s only the second time I’ve noticed a typo… that’s the only reason I’m pointing out. Because your posts are usually flawless.

    Another super low expenses month. I think next year I might spend more time documenting what exactly I’m spending on. I cannot believe you have only spent $20k this year!!! Astounding. Joe is right, keeping expenses low is your superpower. That pre-paying thing is really working for you. Oh to know my life so far in advance that this simple hack could work!

    1. Mrs. Root of Good didn’t edit this one that closely 🙂 Oddly enough, I had that July typo in the August expense report. I fixed it in one line on this one (and in the August report). Then the VERY. NEXT. LINE. I made the same mistake and put July instead of September. I fixed it now though. 🙂 Thanks for bringing that to my attention.

  12. As someone with an EE degree, I have to ask: exactly how many amps are you running through your HDMI cables anyway? The “high-amperage” label on a digital signaling cable has me concerned 😉

    1. I may have the terminology wrong, but I found out through trial and error that some micro-USB cables only carry a lower current. Like 500-700 mA, which is often sufficient for a lower powered or older cell phone. Pretty much any USB cable can carry that. Newer phones and most tablets suck more juice. The cheapo USB cables that are really skinny can’t carry the current (or are limited somehow??) so you’ll get a noticeably slower charge on the bigger devices. The sweet spot is finding the relatively inexpensive cables that can still carry the higher loads and are durable. Monoprice’s private label brand seems to fit that niche well. Much better than the Amazon equivalents in the same price range. It’s like getting a $10 monster cable for $1.99 at monoprice.

      1. Oh, yeah for USB that makes sense because they can be used to charge equipment at 10s of watts now. As far as I know HDMI is only data transmission.

        1. I started doing research on the thicker cables once the kids complained about their tablets taking forever to charge with the cheapo USB cables. Turns out the skinny cables just can’t carry enough watts.

  13. Hi! Can you explain what fixed income is? My husband and I are planning for a possible exit from the work force within the next two years. We are heavily invested in stocks in our taxable brokerage account and our 401k/457/IRA accounts. We have 6 months of cash on hand. I noticed you mentioned having $180K in cash, bonds and CDs. When did you make the switch in your portfolio to change the balance? I’d love to know! Love your blog!

  14. Hi JustinRoG,

    Found you on a podcast you had on ChoseFI early 2017 and from that day to today, it is good to see all is working fine.
    I enjoyed the content of this September and read your from zero to 1 M USD in 10 years. Awesome! . I actually learnt about payment of lump sums to achieve the sign up requirements of credit card. That is a take away for me.
    Also, I have just started blogging about it and saw your income there. Well, I’ve been on it just 1 week but one day I will get there.

  15. Great Post Justin, just discovered ya, and really admire your ability to save and ultimately retire at 33. Love the pics and the income updates, look forward hearing about your trip to Southeast Asia in 2019, a place I would love to visit someday!

  16. “I’ve had a lot of people send me messages asking if this is the start of the next big market crash.”

    Ditto. People are freaking out because in their mind the bull run has gone on for too long. But as you said, no one can predict the next crash. That’s why we have the yield shield, cash cushion, and geo arbitrage to weather any upcoming storm. Those who are working are actually in a good position to get some deals. It’s funny, when the markets go down, people freak out because “a crash is coming”, but when the market is going up, people also freak out because “a crash is coming”. They need to think about the long game, not day to day moves.

    Glad you guys had a great vacation!

    1. By the classic definition of %s the current market cycle corrected at least one time already; but since it slid back just below that figure at the close it did not count. In my opinion this is not the longest running bull market ever since we have had repeated dips and dives since it started. If people want to try to time the market, fine, but that tends to be a fool’s errand over time.

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