“Blame Storming”

One of the things I am not going to miss about the corporate culture is the need to CYA (cover your “butt”) whenever a mistake is made somewhere. It seems in today’s US corporations, they’ve got almost all the “fat” out of the company, resulting is most folks doing 2X to 3X the amount of work done previously, while not receiving any extra pay. With the unemployment rate as low as it is, its very difficult to fill the holes in your department. So you end up having to do even more additional work while the HR department and upper management look for the magical unicorn that has all the skills you want, and will only be looking for low enough wages to fit into a wage “band” that was made 5 years ago and only been raised to match inflation.

At the same time, the company expects 100% perfect work, and any mistake is jumped on and used as an excuse to not provide as big a pay raise or bonus to the workers . Or to place you on some sort of disciplinary status, so you are walking around in fear, and willing to work extra hard so you don’t potentially get canned.

Just recently, I had a situation at my work where a rack project had a major problem in it. It was determined that the piece of lift equipment used to fill the top level did not reach high enough. I designed it for a new piece of equipment, the standard one that we have been buying for several years, which would work. It turns out, in order to save money, the decision was made to use older pieces of equipment that were available, instead of buying new. The result – we have to take the rack partially apart and reset it.

Let the “Blame Storming” (instead of Brainstorming) begin!

The question now is to find out when this decision was made, was it communicated (it wasn’t to me) and who is ultimately responsible for the mess.

Luckily, I’m pretty well defended – I designed it to the standard, and one of the reasons we have standards is to avoid this kind of thing. The emails between the other involved parties have been flowing fast & furious, though! It irritates me that folks will now  spend countless hours going back through old emails and trying to fashion a defense so they can shift the blame for this.

It’s a miss. We can try to put in a fix for it to prevent it from happening, but mistakes are going to be made, especially at the pace that the company has been going through (we’ve had twice as many of these projects in 4th quarter this year vs. the average). One of the reasons, I guess, that I (and so many others) are pursuing FI.

So, have you had to shift blame lately in your day time job?

Mr. 39 Months

Investment Update Dec 2019

Only 7 months to go!

US Markets continue to drive forward at an epic pace, making 2019 once of the best years on record for stocks. For those market timers who jumped out of the market at the end of December’s larger drop, they’ve probably missed out on some strong returns. It once again goes to show that the buy and hold strategy of “steady as she goes” will probably win out in the end. When the next downturn happens – and it will – make sure you keep your money in the market, keep your allocation, and keep investing!

As you know, the allocation for my retirement accounts (IRAs, 401K, etc) is pretty much index funds, spread out between the  S&P 500, small-cap, international, REITs and bonds.

Retirement Accounts: Remember, my allocation for these is:

  • 30% Bond Index Fund
  • 17.5% S&P500 Index Fund
  • 17.5% International Index Fund
  • 17.5% Small Cap Index Fund
  • 17.5% REIT Index Fund

My 401K doesn’t have REIT option, so its just 25% for each.

S&P was up about +3.6%, Small cap +4.5%, and International +1.1%. Real Estate and Bonds were down about-0.3%, so they didn’t hurt much, but also didn’t help. Still, a very strong environment, and my retirement accounts were up about 1.8% all total, for the month.

My dividend account allocation is:

  • 25% Dividend Stocks
  • 25% REITs
  • 50% Bond Index Funds

This account got smacked hard, as it is heavily invested in Bonds and REITs, the two categories that got hurt last month. Several of my dividend stocks did poorly as well (Cisco was down -4.6%). Its almost time for year-end dividends to come out as well (some are already paying out) so that may further drive down the stock and REITs.

The “fun money” account did very well, up a little over 4%, after a very strong rally for my PAWZ ETF. Its been suffering for almost six months, but picked November to rally back and almost get to even. Both the Value and Extended Market had strong gains as well.

For November, I’m up 1.62% (after 1.5% in October). For the year, even though I’m 30% Bonds for the most part, I’m up 18.56%. Time to make a few “end of year” moves before time runs out. See my previous link in reference to end of year moves.

Hope your November was good, and everyone was Thankful!

Mr. 39 Months

Financial Advisor meeting #4 – Sad Trombone….

I’ve included several posts about our recent meetings with a financial advisor

Financial Advisor Meeting #1

Financial Advisor Meeting #2

Financial Advisor Meeting #3

As I noted previously, Mrs. 39 Months doesn’t trust my numbers, and wants to get a second opinion. By involving a third party, I’ve been able to get Mrs. 39 Months to provide more information on how she sees our FI journey going, her spending expectations, etc. Its been well worth it in that respect. We finished our 4th meeting with the financial advisor late last week, and the results, to say the least, were very disappointing to me.

The “basic” plan we asked him to work up for us had me working for an additional 4 years (instead of “retiring” at 56, assume we continue to work till I’m 60 and Mrs. 39 Months was 62). He came back with the analysis, and it showed us running out of our liquid assets around age 95/97. We’d still have the fully paid off house to use as a reverse mortgage, but his analysis showed us just barely scraping by. Sad Trombone (wah, wha!)

Well, I didn’t really take this sitting down, as I knew the assumptions put into the analysis drove a lot of this. I’d tried to get advance copies of his analysis (at least the base one) in advance, but I wasn’t able to. So I started picking it apart there in the middle of the meeting. Some of his assumptions:

  • Spending of $90K in the first year – even though we gave him a budget of $72K (plus taxes), he had some assumptions in there that pushed the first year’s spending to $90K
  • Inflation of 3.25%. Seems a little high compared to the last ten years, but I won’t argue
  • Medical inflation of 6.5%. I think this actually is good, based on the past

Yet the big assumption that pushed this out was the return on investment of various investment classes. They got their data from Morningstar, which is reporting the following returns, by class, to be used for planning purposes. Note that these are total returns, including inflation:

  1. Large Cap Growth Equity (top 1,000 of Russel for growth): +5.02%
  2. Large Cap Value Equity (top 1,000 of Russel for value): +6.08%
  3. Mid Cap Equity (smallest 800 of Russel 1,000): +6.06%
  4. Small Cap Equity (Russel 2,000): 7.24%
  5. US REITs: 7,59%
  6. International Equity: 7.59%
  7. Emerging Markets Equity: 7.26%
  8. Long-Term Bonds: 3.4%
  9. Intermediate Term Bonds: 3.69%
  10. Short-Term Bonds: 3.48%
  11. High Yield Bonds: 6.07%
  12. International Bonds: 2.73%
  13. Cash: 2.68%

Holy cow! The S&P500 has returned roughly 10% for the last century, but I’m supposed to base my retirement on it only returning half that for the next 40 years? International Equity is going to be US equity, even though its been getting its but kicked for years now? Cash at 2.68%, even though its been trading at crap levels for over a decade? I just don’t see the sense in these numbers. Apparently the thought is that we’re about to head into a period of serious investment non-performance, like the decade long period after 1929, 1965 and 2000. I’m just not sure this is correct.

I’ve asked them to re-run the analysis based on the $72K a year in expenses. I think we are going to go round & around on the returns assumptions in the analysis. Not sure how I’ll handle this.

We are going to have some further discussions. I’ll let everyone know how that goes.

Investment Update Nov 2019

Only 8 months to go!

It looks like the US market is starting to kick back I again, after spending the summer “treading water.” While the trade issues with China haven’t been worked out entirely yet, the earnings coming back for most of the companies are good, and the general thought is that we won’t be sliding into recession any time soon. To top it off, the Fed just dropped the rates again, so they are also doing their part to keep the economy humming. Unemployment is very low, so folks have jobs, their trading up in their jobs, and they are spending. Overall, it looks like the market will sail through the year in good shape!

The allocation for my retirement accounts (IRAs, 401K, etc) is pretty much index funds, spread out between the  S&P 500, small-cap, international, REITs and bonds.

Retirement Accounts: Remember, my allocation for these is:

  • 30% Bond Index Fund
  • 17.5% S&P500 Index Fund
  • 17.5% International Index Fund
  • 17.5% Small Cap Index Fund
  • 17.5% REIT Index Fund

My 401K doesn’t have REIT option, so its just 25% for each.

International did well (+3.4%) while the S&P 500 and Small caps were up about 2% each. Even Bonds and REITs were  up (not as much as stocks, however). Second month in a row that International has beaten the pack – so further proof that it is good to diversify. Overall, my retirement accounts were up 1.7% for the month.

My dividend account allocation is:

  • 25% Dividend Stocks
  • 25% REITs
  • 50% Bond Index Funds

My individual stocks and REITs were mixed (Chevron was down -2.1% and Cisco was down -3.8%). What was interesting was that I wanted to buy another stock, and decided to follow the old “High yield Dow 30” strategy, where you rank the Dow 30 by their yield, and purchase the ones with the higher yields. The assumption there is the stock price is low and might be undervalued – so pick it up now. You can get a good dividend yield, and the stock might bounce. Well I bought Dow at the beginning of October with my dividends, about 80 shared, and its up 12.4% in just one month! Holy cow! I am assuming that it is just returning to its normal level, so I don’t plan to get too excited. I will probably buy another 20 shares to get me to 100 total (I’m anal retetentive that way). A nice little success story.

The “fun money” account is primarily Value and extended market, and was up about 1%. I continue to invest in this one regularly each month, with leftover funds. My attempt at stock/mutual fund picking – never a strong suit for me – appears to bear out again, as I have invested in the PAWZ ETF for pet stores, and its down again. Ah well, I will ride it for a while, but won’t add anything else to it.

For October, I was up 1.50% overall, and I’m up 16.55% for the year. Continuing to plow along as I approach that magical FI moment.

Hope your October was good, and not too scary!

Mr. 39 Months

Financial Advisor meeting #3

It is all about the assumptions….

Well, last night we had our third meeting with the financial advisor, and things did not go as well as I might have hoped. I was hoping that, after we gave him a ton of information before we even started, and answered all his outstanding questions in sessions #1 and sessions #2, that he would have some more concrete analysis for us to review last night. In the first session, he showed a sample binder from another client that had a wealth of data, spreadsheets, annual spending vs. income, etc. Several scenarios were explored. I really wanted that 3-ring binder!

Alas, it was not to be. He had two scenarios to show us on the computer in order to get our feedback, and to make any final “tweaks” to the income, spending and assumptions. In looking over his shoulder at the computer, I pointed out a few errors I thought I saw (For example, he continued charging us for company health insurance, once we retired early – as well as charging us for the new insurance we’d have to take out, etc.). Because I did not have anything in front of me, I could not really correct/alter some of the data he is going to be using.

In just the short review, it is obvious that a lot of the analysis is based on some of the assumptions he has put in (inflation rate, rate-of-return, etc.) and that will determine how well we do. What is funny is he started out saying that our original plan (work four more years, take Social Security at full retirement age of 67) fulfilled 95% of what we needed, but when we dug into the details, we were in the black all the way to age 97/99 (our plan). Therefore, his numbers were off somewhere.

When asked, he said, “you definitely can’t retire right now” which does not really match my numbers, when I add in Social Security. Still, I cannot refute him without the actual data/spreadsheets. He is saying all the things that Mrs. 39 Months wants to hear about being cautious, so I am afraid he might be poisoning the well in terms of achieving FI. We will see.

Still, we did make some good decisions based on our discussions:

  • Do the Roth conversion of $40K this year (probably the last year we’ll be able to do it until we retire)
  • Stop putting money into the deferred account at work. Go ahead and just take it as regular salary, pay the taxes now, and invest the money. If we continue to put it into deferred, we’ll have a major tax bite when I leave the company
  • Depending on the situation, consider beginning to withdraw from the deferred account, so you can draw it down instead of paying the big lump sum when you leave the company.
  • Look into benefits/risks of taking social security later than 67. Your SS benefits will increase, but you will need to draw down your investments more to live off for that 3 years. What is the right balance?

I think we are getting a benefit out of this, and I am glad we are doing it. I hope that I am passing good info along to folks. If you can think of something, you would like me to explore with him, please comment.

I will let folks know after we have our fourth meeting (early November) how that is going. In the meantime, I hope all your plans work out.

Mr. 39 Months.

Financial Advisor meeting #2

As you remember, I wrote how Mrs. 39 Months does not trust my numbers, and wanted us to meet with a professional financial advisor to bounce my numbers off of and to go through various scenarios. She is very conservative and concerned that we will run out of money. Longevity runs in her family (her aunt lived to 102, and the rest of the women on her side lived into their 80s and 90s). Therefore, I understand her concern – all my planning assumes she lives to 99 (and I live to 97).  

Some folks have asked about the fee we are paying for the advice. He is a fee-only planner, though he does manage some folk’s investments for a 1% per year fee. The fee he is charging us, for a New Jersey suburb of Philadelphia, is a flat $2,900. When we first engaged him, the financial advisor stated that it would be for four (4) meetings. The agenda appears to be something like:

  • Meeting 1: Share with advisor our info (typically in hard copy form, though I gave him ours electronically)
  • Meeting 2: Clarification of numbers, budget, situation, etc. Opportunity for the advisor to ask questions and get answers prior to doing the work, and to share some of his planning assumptions with us
  • Meeting 3: Sharing of the plan and some base scenarios that we have asked for him to run. After review, give him ideas for other scenarios to run
  • Meeting 4: Final meeting to run through any alternate scenarios, finalize the plan, determine next steps

He has also said we could come back “every so often” to update it, since it is already in his system. I am assuming there is a small fee for his work, but not sure.

I was hopeful that, since we gave him all our data electronically in advance, we might have jumped past meeting #2 and gone straight to #3. I wanted to get ahold of the three-ring binder with the big plan and analysis in it! I wanted to look at his planning and compare it to mine (and potentially share it with everyone here). No such luck.

Our planner had been dealing with some family issues (he’s the only child and his mother had to go to hospital for extended stay and many tests) so he was not able to really do the analysis. He still had a few questions and thoughts he wanted to share with us as well. So, no binder, not deep analysis. Still, some of the planning points that he shared/we worked out:

  • Inflation assumption: 3.25% – a little higher than the past 10+ years, but historically accurate in our lifetimes
  • Inflation for medical: 6% – very accurate historically, and something I didn’t consider in my initial planning
  • No inheritance planned – my mother is well off after a life of frugal living and excellent planning. However, we assume we won’t get anything (again, staying conservative with Mrs. 39 Months)
  • Changed the life assumptions from 90 years old to 99 and 97 (see above)
  • Discussed scenarios to look at, including immediate retirement, retire on my schedule of July 2020, and retire when I hit 60 and Mrs. 39 Months hits 62.

There were a few other clarifying questions and for the most part, we are making very conservative estimates and plans. While I am a little more willing to plan “to the edge” of retirement, I do not think we will go that route.

One of the biggest benefits to this is that it has gotten Mrs. 39 Months to open up with her thoughts about retirement, budgets, lifestyle and plans. Despite my prodding over the last several years, she really has not opened up too much about it – until we started to have these meetings. Now we have created a budget, discussed travel and lifestyle, and started working some of the details out. Mrs. 39 Months commented to me after the second meeting that it was a strange thought that, even in our conservative planning, retirement was just 4 years away.

The fact that this is enabling us to discuss it this way is worth the $2,900 fee alone, even if we did not get any analysis.

I will let folks know after we have our third meeting (late October) how that is going. In the meantime, I hope all your plans work out.

Advisor Meeting #1

Mr. 39 Months.

Quarterly Update

Quarterly Update

October 2019

Well, it’s early October, and as fall hits, I wanted to look at my goals for 2019, and try and figure out where I needed to “sprint it in” in order to get some done. Only 3 months to go before the end of the year.

My Goals for 2019 (some financial, some not):

Finance:

  • Save $75K in tax-advantaged accounts (saved almost $81K in 2018). 401K, Roth IRA, etc. Dropped this down a bit, due to a need to plus up my savings/emergency fund. Key part of this is using my company’s deferred savings account to push money out till I hit FI. Since the deferred account money will have to be withdrawn (and taxed) when I leave, it actually is a pretty cool FIRE solution for saving. Grade A. Saved $68K so far this year, so I’m in good shape to hit this goal, provided I continue to save at my current rate.
  • Save $5K in regular accounts (compared to $9K in 2017). This will go into my brokerage account. I withdrew a hunk of this to do my ROTH rollover (part of the “power of zero” philosophy). But I still have some bucks here. I have to take about $5K from my father’s IRA every year, so I just move it from there to my brokerage account instead f spending it). Grade A. Made the deposit in January
  • Increase dividend income from all accounts to $27K/year (compared to 26K in 2018). Grade A: Dividends year-to-date at $19,667, so should easily be able to hit $27K.
  • Passive income covers 40% of base living expenses in retirement (it was38% in 2018). My long-term goal is to get my dividend/passive income up to where it covers over 100% of my expected retirement living expenses, so my investments can continue to grow.  Grade B: I’m at 36.4% for the year vs. expected $18K/quarter budget. I usually get a big bump in 4th qtr, so it will be close
  • Beat net worth growth rate of 6% (it was -1.9% in 2018). This is my historical growth rate for the last 10+ years, so I want to beat my average. Grade A: Should be in the double-digits for the year, unless the market dramatically tanks. I’m up 14% in my investments, and they are the lion’s share (75%) of our net worth.  

Business:

  • Continue attending regular meetings of my local real estate investors association. They hold a regular monthly meeting, a monthly meeting for new investors, and a monthly meeting for my specific county. All three could be interesting, and it’s free for a paid member. Last year I attended, but it was spotty. Grade F: Did a cost/benefit analysis and deep look on my intentions to do real estate in the near future. Decided to drop out of REIA.
  • Double the number of blog visitors in 2019. Last year it was a little over 6,000. I want to get at least 12,000 this year, so I need to put myself out there more (i.e. comment) and write interesting topics. My thanks to everyone who stopped by, and I try to return the favor, and comment as well. Grade D. Only have around 5,700 visitors in the first 3 quarters. On track to beat my 6K visitors in 2018, but not by much. Probably need to spend more time on other blogs, commenting, etc.
  • Write/publish a book on finance.  I wrote one for new graduates in 2017, but I have identified an area of the community which hasn’t been served as well in the past. Hopefully I can assist with something here.  I’ve got the first five chapters outlined/partially done, but still have a ways to go. Grade F. I’m about 2/3 of the way done with the outline, but it doesn’t look like it will be done this year.

Personal:

  • Increase weight lifted by 10% from 2018. Due to my illness, I didn’t make much progress beyond that, but I’m back to full strength now, and lifting what I was in September 2018.  I want to continue to improve my strength as I get older, instead of just wasting away. Grade A. Weight increase of 10% already, and looking like I’ll bump it up another 5% before the end of the year
  • Average 2 hours of cardio per week (currently averaging about an hour). Again, want to improve my fitness. Based on my lifestyle, I don’t think I can push it past 2 hours per week. Grade C. New company HQ is allowing me to take daily walks of 20 min/day, so it looks like I might hit this.
  • Take part in at least one long bike ride, like MS bike-a-thon (80 miles). Didn’t do this last year, but really want to try. Grade F: Chose not to do this in 2019
  • Backpack over 100 miles on AT (did around 80 miles in 2018). Other aspects of life interfered with my ability to get on the trail. Really want to push it this year. Grade C: Getting further away from home, so its hard to get in miles. Got 82 miles in.
  • Continue volunteering at Pennsbury Manor at their joiner’s shop (woodworking). Really enjoyed this. Grade A: Continuing to volunteer at least once a month. Just completed my last one for the year.
  • Reduce weight by 20 lbs. from Jan 2019 (lost 2 lbs. in 2018). Again, I want to get in better shape as I get closer to financial independence. Grade D: Have only been able to maintain weight, haven’t really reduced it. I like sweets too much
  • Read at least one book a month. I surpassed this goal in 2018, and re-learned the joy of reading. Grade A. I got another five books under my belt for 3rd qtr.

Travel:

  • Visit a national park (visited two in 2018) Incomplete. Planning on doing this in October
  • 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 A: Visited family in TN, VT, NY. Getting back to TN in October.
  • Take a week at the shore and just relax. Too many of our vacations are spent running around. I want to see if I can go somewhere (in this case the beach) and just sit and relax. Grade A. Did a nice weekend at the shore in July , though it was pretty hot.
  • Visit Ellis Island. Wanted to do this in 2018, but didn’t make it. 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. Its only 90 min north of us, but we haven’t gone yet.
  • Go on an international trip. Not sure which one (Canada, Caribbean, etc.) but I’d like to get out this year. Grade F: Doesn’t look like I’ll do it this year.  
  • Visit the Asheville NC area. It’s one of the areas that we are considering retiring to (close to my old home in Tennessee, interesting crafts, shops & outdoor sports, etc.). Trying to learn more about the area (we’ve been there a couple of times). Incomplete. Still on track to go in October

Overall, I’d give myself a B. Got a lot done, but still have some left to do.  

How are you going on your goals for 2019?

Mr. 39 Months

Update on my income account

As many of you know, I’ve used my father’s inherited IRA to experiment with an income producing method of investing similar to the “old school” way that folks invested their money after retirement. This was laid out in Ben Stein’s book “Yes, you can become a successful income investor.” The idea was to create a method to generate enough income from the portfolio to live off of, without touching the principal (thereby letting it grow).

I detailed in a later post that, for the last 2-1/2 years, the stretch IRA was beating my vanguard allocation. I did note that this took into account the terrible 2018 year, which beat the Vanguard account down more than the income account. Over time, all my reading shows that the Vanguard account would do better – but be more volatile.

For the last three months, the account has not increase that much in value, but it has continued to throw off dividends. Investment value grew $2,194 for the six months (while the market was pretty stagnant), 1.7% (or 6.7% annual growth) while also throwing off $1,256.94 in dividends – the equivalent of 3.75% annual yield.

stock Details 1-Jul 1-Oct Yield Dividend
CVX Chevron $6,222.00 $5,614.50 4.24% $59.50
CSCO Cisco Systems $8,209.50 $6,984.00 3.01% $52.50
HR Healthcare Realty $7,830.00 $8,312.00 3.61% $75.00
PFF iShares $16,766.75 $16,912.35 5.24% $221.49
O Realty Income Corp (REIT) $6,897.00 $7,673.00 3.54% $67.95
SVC Hospitality Properties Trust $7,500.00 $7,498.50 8.64% $162.00
UMH UMH Properties $7,446.00 $8,622.00 5.01% $108.00
VZ Verizon $5,713.00 $5,891.00 4.09% $60.25
VBTLX Vanguard Total Bond Market Index $32,621.94 $33,248.71 2.69% $223.25
VBILX Vanguard Int-term Bond Index $32,787.96 $33,432.51 2.72% $227.00
$131,994.15 $134,188.57 3.75% $1,256.94

Not too shabby! Basically, its close to hitting the 4% withdrawal figure, while still growing sufficiently to keep up with inflation. What is interesting is that, while the stocks declined a lot (look at Chevron & Cisco) the other items (REITs,  bonds) helped to cushion the blow.

I’ll continue to monitor and see how this goes.

Mr. 39 Months

Investment Update Oct 2019

Only 9 months to go!

I’ll have my quarterly update on goals later, but thought I’d get my investment update out earlier. It was a fairly good month, and as my previous post on asset allocation noted, different investments are up this month vs. last month – but I am up overall, both for the month, and especially for the year!

The allocation for my retirement accounts (IRAs, 401K, etc) is pretty much index funds, spread out between the  S&P 500, small-cap, international, REITs and bonds.

Retirement Accounts: Remember, my allocation for these is:

  • 30% Bond Index Fund
  • 17.5% S&P500 Index Fund
  • 17.5% International Index Fund
  • 17.5% Small Cap Index Fund
  • 17.5% REIT Index Fund

My 401K doesn’t have REIT option, so its just 25% for each.

Stocks were up (S&P +1.9%, International +3.1%, Small Cap +1.5%) and REITs did well (+1.9%). Bonds were down -0.7% (though they were up last month). International was a surprise, as its been lagging for several years now. Good things to come? Overall, my retirement accounts were up 1.4% for the month.

My dividend account allocation is:

  • 25% Dividend Stocks
  • 25% REITs
  • 50% Bond Index Funds

My individual stocks and REITs were up significantly (over 4%) while the bonds were only down a little. Overall, the income portfolio was up 3.8% for September, including dividends. I’m going to be interested in how it compares to my overall portfolio. Could the income portfolio beat out again in 2019?

The “fun money” account is primarily Value and extended market, and was up about 2.4%. I continue to invest in this one regularly each month, with leftover funds.

For September, I was up 1.17% overall, and I’m up 14.71% for the year. Continuing to plow along as I approach that magical FI moment.

Hope your September was good, and your October is even better!

Mr. 39 Months

Mrs. 39 Months Doesn’t Trust My Numbers…..

I have a wonderful marriage with a great wife who has supported me throughout 33 years of fun. I always talk about how brave she was for marrying me when I was 22, just graduating, and didn’t have much in the bank. A lot of potential, but pretty raw. We met in August, starting dating 5 months later in January, and then I proposed in May (5 months after we started dating). Six months after that, we were married and heading to Germany for a five-year tour with the US Army. Think about that – starts dating in January, and in December of that same year, she is married and leaving her family and country behind. That takes some guts (and a lot of trust).

As we have gotten closer to FI (ten months!) I have been talking it up a great deal, hitting our “number” and asking her what she wants to do once we get there. She has been patient, but not too forthcoming with her own ideas on what she wants to do once we hit it.

She finally expressed some doubts about how I had done the calculations, and if we actually would achieve FI. She is very conservative with her money (see some of my previous posts) and prefers to be 100% sure. We had gone to a retirement presentation about six months ago at our local library, and the financial analyst/counsellor who presented impressed us both. He seemed to concentrate more on the five years leading up to retirement and post-retirement, more than the “accumulation” phase that so many financial advisors do.

Some folks might have been put off (or grumpy) about having someone else go over your work and numbers, and potentially critique your information. I saw this as an opportunity to draw out Mrs. 39 Months into answering some questions, especially in terms of prospective spending/budget in retirement, travel and spending ideas for the first 3-5 years, and general thoughts on early retirement. This would be an excellent opportunity to get everything out on the table and share our views for the future years.

I went into the meeting fairly confident in my own numbers, but interested in seeing it from the analyst’s viewpoint. He had a laundry list of information that he needed, including:

No Description
1 2018 Income Tax Return
2 Payroll Statement: Mr. 39 Month
3 Payroll Statement: Mrs. 39 Month
4 Pension Info: Mrs. 39 Month
5 Mr. 39 Month’s 401K Statement
6 Mr. 39 Month’s Deferred Statement
7 Mrs. 39 Month’s IRA Statement
8 Mr. 39 Month’s IRA Statement
9 USAA brokerage account statements
10 Mrs. 39 Month’s Bank account statement
11 USAA Bank account statement
12 Mr. 39 Month’s Social Security Statement
13 Mrs. 39 Month’s Social Security Statement
14 Life Insurance (Mr. 39 Month’s)
15 Work Life Insurance (Mr. 39 Month)
16 Work Life Insurance (Mrs. 39 Month)
17 Health Insurance
18 Auto Insurance
19 Homeowner’s Insurance
20 Umbrella Insurance

As you can see, there is a laundry list of items, which shows the thoroughness of the analysis. Its going to cost us $2,900 for the analysis and four sessions (initial one, rollout of base analysis, two follow-up sessions where we deal with “what if” scenarios). The analyst also provides some annual updates for a small fee.

I’m excited to see what comes of this. Our next session is in 3 weeks, so I’ll let you know.

Mr. 39 Months