Saturday Linkage:

4/17/2021

  1. Countdown to Retirement, Part 1 (ESI Money); Links to a thread where someone is counting down his days to retirement, and what he’s doing on each day. Good tracking and good ideas.
  2. Six Lessons From a Year Without a Job (Clipping Chains); Interesting notes on the changes in the first 12 months.
  3. Award Travel Series: Getting to Hawaii for Free with Ultimate Rewards (Go Curry Cracker)
  4. Early Retirement Budgeting (the Dragons on Fire); Good notes on budgeting process for early retirement
  5. Reinventing The Wheel (the Retirement Manifesto); Author believes we should be “reinventing the wheel” in our lives constantly, even after retirement.
  6. Time to Sell? (JL Collins); the age old advice still holds – determine your asset allocation and stick to it. Don’t try to time the market, either up or down.
  7. Vacations on a budget (budget life list); Some good ideas to cut some of the costs while spending on the things you want on your vacation
  8. The Power of Writing by Hand (the Art of Manliness); I do an awful lot of writing by hand.
  9. The Most Important Rule in Investing (Compound Advisors); Know what you own, and why you own it what
  10. How people get rich now (Paul Graham); In 1982, it was still primarily by inheritance. Forty years later, its primarily by starting a tech company
  11. Financial Independence Requires Hustle, Then You Can Coast (stop ironing shirts); I think this is true of so many facets of life.

Quarterly Update – Apr 2021

Well, it’s mid-April, and the year has started out fairly well, all things considered. While the Chinese Flu continues to cause concern and create issues throughout the country, for the most part it appears the economy has continued to move forward, markets have stabilized, and the world moves on. There are still a lot of issues out there, but hopefully we are turning the corner.

My Goals for 2021 (some financial, some not):

Finance:

  • Save $29K in tax-advantaged accounts – 401K, and Roth IRA.  Grade A. Saved $4.1K in our 401Ks for the 1st qtr. Plan to put my $14K bonus into the Roth in 4th Qtr once I know my tax status.
  • Save $41K in regular accounts.  Grade A. Good start.
  • Increase dividend income from all accounts to $27K/year (compared to 29K in 2019). Grade C. Dividends are down for the year in the major accounts/mutual funds. Was only able to put $5.8K in for 3rd qtr, which leaves me at $17.6K for the year. Unless 4th qtr is a “gang buster” dividend time, I won’t hit it.
  • Passive income covers 38% of base living expenses in retirement, estimated at $78K per year. Grade C, covered 23% of 1st qtr. However, my 401K and Deferred don’t report dividends separately, and usually 1st qtr isn’t a heavy dividend quarter. We will see.
  • Beat net worth growth rate of 7%. Grade A, because we’re up almost 3% / $70K for the year already.  

Business:

  • Attend twelve SJREIA meetings. Grade A; I’ve attended six already, just in the first quarter. My local market is pretty heated (like so many others). Still, its good to get the information.
  • Double the number of blog visitors in 2020. Grade F. Still not a large number of folks reading – maybe a little bump from last year.  
  • Sell $1,000 on TKD Woodworking (my side-hustle name). Grade: Incomplete. Website is up and running, I’ve tested the e-Com, and it appears to be fully functional. I’ve got two reservations at a local craft fair/farmer’s market. We’ll see how it goes.
  • Setup funding for TKD homes. Plan to get into real estate means setting up funding. While I’ve got a significant amount of money set aside to start this, I also need to explore additional funding methods.
  • Write/publish a book on finance.  Grade F: Haven’t done anything on this for a whole year. Not sure how to reboot this – need to try.

Personal:

  • Regular Workouts with Gymanstic Bodies internet system: Grade A: I’ve gone through all the starter programs. Almost ready to start on their phase I program.
  • Average 2 hours of cardio per week, which is about what I’m doing now. Grade A. Walking daily, so hitting this.
  • Backpack over 100 miles on AT (did around 50 miles in 2020). Grade: Incomplete. Actually just got back from 4-days, 29.8 miles in Virginia, so I’m off to a great start.
  • Continue volunteering at Pennsbury Manor at their joiner’s shop (woodworking). Really enjoyed this. Incomplete. Site is still closed down
  • Reduce weight by 15 lbs. from Jan 2020 Again, I want to get in better shape as I get closer to financial independence. Grade B. I’m down 3 lbs in first quarter, but still have a long way to go, and the virus is keeping me from eating as healthy as I’d like.
  • Read at least one book a month. I surpassed this goal in 2018, and re-learned the joy of reading. Grade A. Six books in first quarter alone and I really enjoy it.

Travel:

  • Visit one national parks (that is the plan, right now). Grade: Incomplete
  • Visit family in Tennessee, Vermont and New York. Family is very important to me. One of the things I am looking forward to with financial independence is the opportunity to visit family more often. Need to get up to see my brother in Vermont. Grade: Incomplete
  • A week with Mrs. 39 Months for our 35th anniversary. Grade: Incomplete
  • Visit Ellis Island. Still want to do this – its so close. As 50% Czech from immigrant great grandparents from the turn of the century, I believe they went through there, and I want to see it. Grade F. Cancelled.

How did your first quarter go this year?

Mr. 39 Months.

Saturday Linkage:

4/10/2021

  1. Envy Is the Cancer of the Soul (More to that); I truly believe that, and I battle it constantly! Its one of the seven deadly sins.
  2. The Problem with Always Wanting More (becoming minimalist); Sensing a theme here?
  3. After Being Poor, Your Financial Anxiety Remains (We Want Guac); I see this with Mrs. 39 Months – it stays with you for a lifetime.
  4. Four Pillars of Retirement: Money, Purpose, People, and Health (My Money Blog); Most people say that they hate work, but working takes care of more than just the money pillar.
  5. How to Build Wealth in your 50s (banker on Fire): It’s possible, even for those who come lateto the FI game.
  6. The Omnipresence of Work (more to that); With the advent of technology, it seems you just can’t escape work, even at 2am on a Saturday
  7. People Love the idea of a 20-minute neighborhood. Why isn’t it top of the agenda (The conversation); Maybe because previous attempts at government urban planning have failed miserably over the decades?
  8. What is Financial Independence? A Hybrid Model (The physician philosopher) Discussion of the various calculations, pluses and minuses of calculating FI
  9. How To Convince People You Are Middle Class When You’re Actually Rich (Financial Samurai); I don’t think this is an issue with most FI people – we are naturally frugal.
  10. Returning to the Office is My Nightmare (time in the market): This is true for so many people I know
  11. It’s Hard To Kill The Stock Market (tony Isola); Folks have been trying to do it for 150+ years, but its pretty resilient.

Are Stocks in a Bubble?

Recently, Kiplinger’s published an article (both in print and on the internet) which raised the question of whether stocks were in a bubble. It raised some interesting items, many of which have been covered in the FI “sphere” already.

  • Year-long boom since the 2nd qtr 2020 Covid Crash
  • Major market indexes pulling back and tech-heavy Nasdaq down
  • Irrational speculation in specific stocks (Tesla, Gamestop, etc.)
  • Incredibly high P/E ratios
  • Eventual stopping of the Fed’s “pumping money” policies

The article then covers some moves you could make, some of which I agree with, and some I don’t:

  1. Park some of your gains in a low-risk money market account (don’t agree, not paying anything)
  2. Purchase some 10-year Treasury notes (not sure, currently paying 1.03%, so not a great deal)
  3. Focus on stocks with defensive traits (agree, value stocks, high dividend stocks, etc.)
  4. Consider sector investing for specific cyclical stocks (agree, certain sectors do better in market downturns)
  5. Consider emerging markets (somewhat agree, I have a portion of our assets in this)
  6. Stay the course (definitely agree. Have a plan, stick to it, continue to invest)

Overall, interesting read

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Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage:

4/3/2021

  1. Is it time to ditch bonds (millennial revolution); I’ve asked myself that question before.
  2. Work Life Balance or Success (Steveark): Having a good work-life balance pretty much precludes you from being a CEO, Top Coach or top Politician
  3. The Cost of a Comfortable Retirement, by country (Frugal Wheels); This is pretty subjective, but interesting!
  4. What can investors do in the face of low returns? (Monevator); A lot of folks are predicting lower than normal returns for the next 10+ years, especially after the latest run up.
  5. The Generational Wealth Gap (The irrelevant Investor); Boomers have historically held a higher percentage of household wealth over the years (no surprise); The later generations have definitely been hit by the financial crises in the past 20 years.
  6. US Active Managers Flopped again in 2020 – Morningstar (the Evidence Investor). Big Surprise! Not really…
  7. Finally Bought My Beachfront Dream House! (Financial Samurai); A lot of folks have this dream.
  8. Money Lessons Not Taught in School (the frugal expat); Some very basic financial information isn’t taught, and it would help a lot of people if it was
  9. How to separate your self worth from your Professional life (Tis but a Moment); This is the curse of my Baby Boomer Generation – we tie up our identity with our jobs
  10. 5 Behaviors I Thought Meant I Loved My Job, But Were Actually Unhealthy (the Financial Diet); Do you really love your job? /
  11. How To Prevent A Layoff From Destroying Your FIRE Plan (Costa Rica Fire): For those still working towards FI, words of wisdom to prepare.

Saturday Linkage:

3/27/2021

  1. The 2021 Early Retirement Update (Living a FI); A long story, filled with ups & downs after achieving FI. A must read.
  2. Couples First year in early retirement (the dragons on fire); Interesting reading for those of us approaching the big day  
  3. Travel Hacking: How We Escape the RV and Vacation for (Almost) Free (Heath and Alyssa); Cute stories about travel hacking
  4. 10 Wise Investments and Other Uses for Your Stimulus Check (retire before dad); Better than spending it on a big screen TV
  5. Get Rich Quick vs. Get Rich Slowly (the FI journey); Good advice on going wither route.
  6. The Easiest $486 I’ve Ever Made: How To Use Cash Back Credit Cards To Your Advantage (Frugal Woods). Excellent use of cash rewards to make some spare cash
  7. Invest in Index Funds and Gamble a Little (Even Steven Money); Maybe 10% of your portfolio is “play money”
  8. How no student loan payments changed my life (Richful Thinker); Some people used the loan moratorium to greatly improve their financial situation
  9. Health Incentive Programs: A Lost Benefit Raider (Budget Life List); Another frugal way to earn cash & prizes!
  10. The Five Hour Workday (Four pillar finance); Only spend time of tasks that “move the needle” instead of meetings, socializing, etc.
  11. My life philosophy: 52 lessons from 52 years (Get Rich Slowly)

FI is great when life throws you a curve ball!

Well, last night was fun! Yesterday, my town tore up some of the streets around us and shut off the water to our local houses. Not sure the reason, probably just repairing something, now that the weather is getting nicer. By late afternoon it was back on. When they turned the town water back on, our toilets and sinks burped and popped a bit as the air was let out of the system. Just around dinner time, we found that the area around our water heater had a small puddle around it. We cleaned it up, put a pan underneath it and watched it. We figured that the disturbance from the water coming back on may have loosened a valve or something.

No such luck. Our water heater is 15 years old, and after 10 years, they start wearing out. That was this one’s problem. It turned out that our tank had a small crack in it that wasn’t fixable, and was only going to get worse. We were having to clean up every hour or two – not the sort of thing you can live with.

Luckily, we were able to get a plumber out to remove/replace the water heater (with my work schedule the next couple of days, I didn’t think I’d be able to do it). While the cost was pretty expensive ($2,300 with permits!) we knew it was an expense we were going to have to pay pretty soon – and we’d been saving up for it.

So we plopped the money down, had an expert do the work, and got it all fixed by dinner time. That is one of the hidden joys of FI – it leads to a much less stressful life, because you can be prepared for this minor emergencies.

Stay Healthy!

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Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage:

3/20/2021

  1. It’s Good to Be a Little Obsessed with Early Retirement (Retire by 40); “A little obsession is a good thing…”
  2. How to Prepare for Prosperity (his and  her money); Good advice on steps to take to gain prosperity
  3. We Have a Lot of Cash in Hand Now… Too Much! (Route to Retire); what to do when your cash equivalents get too large.
  4. The impact of covid on budgeting (Full Time Finance); Just about everyone’s budget have been thrown for a loop due to Covid
  5. Fixed and Variable Rate Loans: Which is better? (The simple dollar); as usual, it all depends on the situation.  
  6. Get Rich versus Stay Rich (The Belle Curve): How do you go about keeping what you’ve saved
  7. The Power of Low Expectations (Get Rich Slowly); The First Rule of a Happy Life is low expectations.
  8. The Illusion of Control (Financial Superstar); Never be afraid to ask for help
  9. How Dollywood gave me a glimpse of retirement (X Ray VSN); Cute story!
  10. Changing Financial Goals (just baggage enough); As Covid continues and life changes, your financial goals change as well
  11. Four Life lessons from the Pandemic (Life outside the Maze); Simple, easy to remember lessons.

What will you regret at the end of your life?

I was taken with an article recently that linked back to Bronnie Ware’s blog post (and eventual book) about the top five regrets of the dying. For those who don’t know, Bronnie worked for many years in palliative care, with patients who had gone home to die, usually within 3-12 weeks. From her comments:

“ People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.’

‘When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again.”

She then goes on to list the top five regrets of the dying:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
  2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.
  3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
  4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
  5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I looked back at these and thought about what I could do to reduce/eliminate these regrets:

  1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me: While I have enjoyed (for the most part) the work that I’ve done and the life we have built, I have always wanted to do two things: Travel and research/embrace history and remodel houses (at least one house). While we had the chance to travel a lot when I was in Europe with the Army, we haven’t been able to travel anywhere near as much as I’d like. Current plans
    1. With Covid ending, the plan is to do at least one major trip a year, and other side trips, to national parks, historical sites, etc. While I may not be able to visit everything, I’ll visit a lot
    2. I’ve saved up a significant chunk of $ that I could use to fund the purchase and remodel of a home. When I decide to retire early, this will be one of my post-FIRE projects. Looking forward to it.
    3. Continue to work on my “side hustle” (TKD Woodworking) that I can enjoy once I retire
  1. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard: Not sure this is a major regret of mine. While I have worked hard, moved up the ladder, and been successful, Mrs. 39 Months has pretty much ensured that I didn’t become completely wrapped up with work at the expense of our lives together. The work has enabled us to build a tidy nest egg while still enjoying life, and now we are in a position of financial independence.
  1. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings: OK, this is a regret, somewhat. While I’ve never had a problem expressing affection and love to Mrs. 39 Months (lots of hugs & kisses) and telling my family I love them – I have issues in expressing my opinions in situations at work and with others. I’m a middle child, and apparently we typically try to be the peacemakers in the family. I’ll subsume my opinions and feelings for the group in order to make it peaceful. One of the results of this is an explosive temper at times, which is a real issue. Current plans:
    1. Need to start daily meditations to deal with anger
    2. Need to speak up more when I have issues with friends & family – in a polite way
  1. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends: Big problem with me. I typically don’t form close bonds with others, and usually once someone drops off, I don’t seek them out. I have one (only one) friend from high school/growing up, and we talk maybe once/quarter (if that). No college or military friends (which is odd, if you think about it), and only 2 real friends now. No work friends. As you get older, it gets harder and harder to build friendships. Current Plans:
    1. Increase frequency/number of phone calls to friends
    2. Try to schedule times to get together with local friends
    3. Make concerted effort to add to friends in current list of hobbies/professional organizations
    4. Attend college reunions, when possible, in order to try to reconnect with friends
  • I wish that I had let myself be happier: Not sure about this one. I believe I’m fairly happy, for the most part. Part of that is my embrace of Stoicism, as I am getting less interested in things I cannot control. Stopping to look at the news and politics has helped this a lot. Current plans:
    • Continue to practice Stoicism and enjoy what I can control
    • Keep away from areas that just “wind me up” (politics, social media, etc.) with no real impact on my life
    • Pursue areas that will make me happier (see #1 and #3 above)

So what are you doing in life to reduce potential future regrets?

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Mr. 39 Months