Investment Update May 2020

Like most folks, April was a lot kinder to me than March. For March, we lost about $161K of our investments (though it was as much as a $191K loss as late as March 23rd). With April being an “up” month, states and countries opening backup, and businesses starting to discuss getting back to normal, let’s hope the economy starts rolling. Our unemployment rate in the US is going to be pretty substantial, and we’ll probably be spending the next 12-18 months cutting it back to normal.

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. Due to this allocation, I didn’t get hit as hard as some folks in March or in late 2018 – but I also didn’t get as big an “upside” in 2019 either. It all depends on your risk tolerance.

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.

As you would expect, everything was up, though in different amounts.

  • S&P500: 12%
  • Small Cap: 14.5%
  • International: 5.5%
  • REITs: 6%
  • Bonds: 2%

My dividend account new allocation (as of Jan 2020) was:

  • 50% Dividend Stocks
  • 50% REITs

The dividend paying stocks were up anywhere from 11% – 23%, though most of them are still in negative territory from the beginning of the year. My dividend yield from 1st Quarter was 6.13% (annualized) which was a big increase from last year, but a major part of that yield equation was the low stock price. Still, I collected 18.6% more in dividends in 1st qtr 2020 than in 1st qtr 2019, so we’ve made improvements there. Now we just have to hope these companies don’t cut their dividends.

My brokerage account at my bank was shut down (they were moving it to Schwab and I don’t want to have three large firms with our investments) so I shut it down and invested it all into Vanguard Value Index average fund, to try and chase some value stocks. It was up 5.1% in April, once the change was made.

For March, I was down -13.68% overall. For April, I climbed up 8.55%, but I’m still down 11.13% for 2020. We’re back to over $1.1M in invested assets. Plan to continue working on hitting our FI number.

Hope everyone is healthy and your May turns our well!

Mr. 39 Months

What are the next steps for TKD Woodworking?

As many of you are aware, I’ve been developing a “side hustle’ to sell my Woodworking items (see contents to right under “TKD Woodworking”). The idea was to sell both online and at craft shows, starting in the second half of 2020. While the Wuhan Corona Virus has placed some limitations on life in general, I’ve worked hard to keep the process moving forward

  1. Laid out my initial plan
  2. Worked out how to build and determine costs for the items I was going to build
  3. Identified how many to build
  4. Began working through my fixed costs (insurance, marketing, etc.) and product costs
  5. Starting tracking my numbers
  6. Created my website to help communicate & advertise my products

So where to next? What is my timetable?

As I see it, over the next two months (May & June) I need to accomplish the following:

  1. Build 2-3 more project prototypes (already identified), price them, and place them on the website
  2. Finalize shipping costs for the items, so I can price everything correctly
  3. Purchase any insurance necessary, prior to opening for business (costs already identified)
  4. Advertise product for sale online (Etsy, Craig’s List, etc.)
  5. Begin looking into potential craft shows, and how I’ll setup my stall

Again, the objective is to have everything ready to go-live July 1st, no matter what the status of the Wuhan Flu is. Plenty to do, and not a lot of time to do it in. Wish me luck!

Mr. 39 Months

Frugal Tip – Fixing your mistakes, instead of letting them compound

We’ve noticed some stains around the base of our downstairs toilet, and after doing a little research, it turns out this is a sign of water leakage. I had just changed out this toilet last year, so I was a little disappointed – it meant that I had not done the install correctly.

So I watched a couple of videos online and referred back to a few of my books – then took the plunge. The initial thing to check was the wax seal, which goes around the flange on the floor, and the toilet “seals” to. This is usually where the system fails and the leak begins.

Tools you will need:

  1. Wrench, 11mm or 7/16” (or adjustable wrench)
  2. Scraper (to clean off old wax seal)
  3. Towels
  4. Rubber or Nitrex gloves
  5. New Toilet bowl wax ring (Typically $2 – $3)

In order to do this, you have to do the following steps:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet (typically a knob to turn near the floor on the left or right back of the toilet, which feeds to the tank
  2. Flush the toilet and then drain the tank and toilet (you can use a wet/dry vac, or just a sponge & bucket – which is what I used). Make sure you wear rubber gloves
  3. Disconnect water supply from upper tank (it should be something you can easily unscrew)
  4. Use an 11” wrench, 7/16” wrench, or an adjustable wrench to take off the two bolts holding the toilet to the floor
  5. Once the bolts are off, you should be able to lift up the entire toilet assembly. Place it off to the side, on a towel
  6. Examine the wax seal and flange. In this case, I had put in on wrong, which caused it to leak. You need to put the wax ring on the flange on the floor, not on the toilet.
  7. Clean off any old wax residue, then put on the new toilet wax ring. You may need to replace the bolts in the floor if you bent them when you pulled off the toilet.
  8. You then place the toilet down, aligning it with the bolts that are sticking up from the floor. When you place the toilet down, it will dig into the wax ring on the ground, sealing it in. My mistake was to place the wax on the toilet hole at the base, and assume it would seal
  9. Once you place the toilet down, push on it from above/sit on it and rock gently back & forth. This will help dig the toilet into the wax ring.
  10. Put the bolts back on and tighten down. Do not over-tighten or you might crack the toilet
  11. Reattach the water to the top tank, and then turn the water back on. Toilet should refill
  12. Flush the toilet a couple of times to get water back into the toilet bowl

Once this is done, monitor the toilet for the next week to make sure the leakage doesn’t reoccur.

My brother-in-law was a contractor and said that “once you’ve changed a toilet 3 times, you can do it in your sleep.” I hope he’s right.

Mr. 39 Months

Watching Your Weight While on Lock Down

Like many folks in the world, we have been on lock-down/self-quarantine here at Casa 39Months for the last month or more. Both of us are lucky (unlucky?) enough to be able to do our work from home, so we have been busy for 8+ hours a day just getting our normal work done. We are also lucky enough to have the room in our house for each of us to have a “home workstation” setup without having to take over the kitchen table.

That said, one of the concerns I have had (and many people I have talked to) is getting a good diet while working from home. Most folks can go to work and only eat during lunch or breaks, but when you are at home, you can just get up, walk to the fridge or shelves, and grab something. In times of stress, folks also have a tendency to eat snacks & fatty foods to help deal with it (survival response from 100,000 years ago?). So how do you deal with this issue?

As a numbers geek, I chose to approach it by doing some tracking and charting! Taking a page from various low-carb/keto plans, I started March 1st, tracking the carbs I have been eating on a daily basis and tracking my performance. Just like with the finances, this helps me judge my performance and motivates me to keep the carbs low.

For many of the books I read, if you get your daily carbs in the 100-150 range, you can slowly lower your weight, while under 100 can cause dramatic weight gain (though you should only do this for a short span of time). It is also different for each sex (women need more carbs, apparently). How have I done?

  • March average: 143
  • April average (to date): 156
  • Weight loss/gain to date: Loss of 1 lbs.

As for exercise, the self-quarantine has put a damper on my workouts/lifting, but I do get out daily for long-walks, and I stretch every morning. I think some of the weight loss/lack of weight gain is muscle atrophy. Since muscle is heavier than fat, I am concerned that I am losing muscle tone and not the fat. We will have to see once I get back to the gym.

Therefore, I am doing my best to keep the “Quarantine 15” off. How are you doing?

Mr. 39 Months

TKD Woodworking – Building a Website

I have been detailing all the work I have been doing in setting up/building my TKD Woodworking “side hustle.” My thought was to help others who are considering creating their own businesses see some of the steps involved and consider it in their planning. My goal for the business was to generate a little extra incomes, but mostly to work through the processes and tracking necessary for running a business. Sort of a small, personal MBA program.

One of the questions I have had is how to market my product (wood articles like cutting boards, picture frames, bookshelves, etc.). Obviously, I could depend strictly on farmer’s markets & craft fairs, but I also wanted to try out marketing and selling on the internet. A possibility for this would be to sell on Etsy or EBay (or other online retailers). While these companies make it relatively easy to setup, the ability to sell would be enhanced if I had my own web presence as well. Hence, my desire to create a website.

  • To begin with, you need to research and register a domain name (the www. Name). There are many companies you can use to do this, and typically, it costs $10-$20/year.
  • Next, you need to get a company to “host” your website (i.e. store your information on their servers). Think names like, etc. (you can search on the internet for a variety of companies). Most folks also use this service to also register their domain. Look for a company that can assist you in building your website. Depending on services required, this can cost around $100/year
  • Once you have this, you can begin building it, with the method you choose to use. There are numerous books, articles, YouTube videos, etc. on building websites.

Therefore, I have chosen Blue Host to host my website, and I am building my website with WordPress (which is used for a wide variety of websites). I have gotten a book, watched several videos, and I am slowly slogging through it. There is always the possibility of paying for assistance as well, since there are many folks advertising this assistance (something I might take up later).

In the meantime, thanks for those who have stopped by Please let me know what you think, and ways to improve the experience.

Stay healthy!

Mr. 39 Months

TKD Woodworking – 1st Qtr 2020 Books

So with everything else going on in the world, I have continued my work with TKD Woodworking. At the end of the 1st qtr, I have:

  • Established the business legally in the state of NJ and with the IRS (an LLC, or limited liability corporation)
  • Created a separate bank account with credit card for the business (in order to keep the finances separate)
  • Build Four different items and determined labor/material costs
  • Created a basic website (its very rough and a work in progress)

Back in February I reviewed my basic financial documents to date (income statement, balance sheet and cash flows). With the first quarter done, I took the opportunity to review statements, to see what information I could draw from them.

Income Statement

Area1st Qtr 2020
Sales Revenue$0.00
Cost-of-Goods Sold Expense($249.18)
Gross Margin($249.18)
Operating Expenses($871.72)
Earnings before interest and Income Tax($1,120.90)
Interest Expense$0.00
Earnings before income tax($1,120.90)
Income Tax Expense$0.00
Net Income($1,120.90)

So I’ve spent $250 on materials (Wood, finish, etc) and $879 on Operating Expenses (Business registration, website, Travel and Training at a wood class, some equipment for shop). So far, all I’ve done in 3 months is spend money and time. However, that was the plan (my sales plan didn’t call for me to begin trying to sell product till 3rd qtr 2020). Still, lets hope the sales start coming in.

Balance Sheet

Accounts Receivable$0.00
Prepaid Expenses$0.00
Subtotal of current assets$3,096.09
Property, plants and equipment$0.00
Accumulated Depreciation$0.00
Cost less accumulated depreciation$0
Total Assets$3,096.09
Liabilities and Owner’s Equity
Advanced payments from Customers$0.00
Accounts Payable$0.00
Accrued Expenses Payable$0.00
Short-term notes payable$0.00
Subtotal of current liabilities$0.00
Long-term notes payable$0.00
Total Liabilities$0.00
Owner’s Equity – invested capital$3,096.09
Owner’s Equity – retained earnings$0.00
Total Liabilities and Owner’s Equity$3,096.09

So I’ve got $3,096 in assets (mostly cash in the bank). The four finished items I am just assuming the cost of materials as their value at this time. Good cash position going into 2nd quarter

Cash Flow

Cash Flow from Operating Activities1st Qtr 2020
Cash collections from revenue$3,933.29
Cash payments for Expenses($1,120.90)
Cash Flow from Investing Activities
Investments in new long-term operating assets$0.00
Cash Flow from Financing Activities
Increase in short-term notes payable$0.00
Increase in long-term notes payable$0.00
Issuance of additoinal capital stock shares$0.00
Cash distributions from profit to shareowners$0.00
Net Increase of cash during year$2,812.39
Beginning Cash Balance$0.00
Ending Cash Balance$2,812.39

Started the quarter out with almost $4K in case for the business. I’ve got almost $3K left, but if my cash drops below $1.5K in my bank, they start charging me a monthly fee for the account, so I really only have about $1,300 left in cash. I have three other items I intend to manufacture prior to starting to sell, and the material costs for those are around $1,075. At that point, I’ll need to start selling items to fund additional manufacturing.

So we are off. I’m excited about the business, and learning about tracking the work. We will have to see how it goes.

Mr. 39 Months

Quarterly Update – April 2020

Well, it’s early April, and the market’s appear to be starting the long “slog” back up to where they were. The economy is still frozen, awaiting the orders from each state’s government to free it up and let all of us get back to work. The Chinese Corona Virus is still around, but it appears that we have “bent the curve” somewhat, and are heading into the home stretch of getting past this. We will see.

Most folks goals for the year have seen a dramatic shifting from the lofty days of January 2020. For many, survival was a key goal over the last couple of months. How did we do for the 1st quarter?

My Goals for 2020 (some financial, some not):


  • Save $28K in tax-advantaged accounts (saved over $75K in 2019 – but a lot of that was in the Deferred). 401K, and Roth IRA.  Grade A. Saved $4K in our 401Ks for the 1st qtr. Plan to put my $14K bonus into the Roth in 2nd Qtr.
  • Save $41K in regular accounts (compared to $5K in 2019). As I noted above, we’re going to be taking about $3K per month and sticking it in regular investing, after paying taxes on it versus putting it in pre-tax with the company’s deferred. Starting to build that bucket of funds we’ll need prior to hitting age 65. Grade A: Put $9K into accounts in 1st Qtr, plus the $5K rollover, so appear to be on track.
  • Increase dividend income from all accounts to $27K/year (compared to 29K in 2019). Grade A. Dividends up slightly ($5.9K vs $5.7K in 1st qtr 2019). Should be able to hit the dividend goal.
  • Passive income covers 30% of base living expenses in retirement, estimated at $78K per year (previously, I was using $72K, but after meetings with our finance guy and Mrs. 39 Months, the budget ended up being $78K).  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 C. Hard to say at this point. With dividends up only 2.6% for 1st qtry, this has my dividends coming in a little over $30K for 2020, which would only be about 38.8% of the annual $78K in spending. Now with interest rates the way they are, its possible that dividends will drop in the second half of 2020.
  • Beat net worth growth rate of 6% (it was +20.1% in 2019 with the stock market run up). This is my historical growth rate for the last 10+ years, so I want to beat my average. As I stated earlier in January, I’m expecting the market to be flat this year, since we jumped up so much in 2019. Grade F. Ouch! Like just about everyone, my net worth took a beating in 1st qtr, down roughly $218K, or 12.8%. Starting to come back, but I think it will be a push this year to hit a 6% growth rate.


  • While not getting a membership, I want to attend six (6) of my local real estate investors association meetings this year. I’ll probably join permanently in2021. 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. Grade F. Haven’t attended one yet, and now we’re not having meetings due to the Chinese Coronavirus.
  • Double the number of blog visitors in 2020. 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 F. Not seeing a real jump on this – sort of staying stable. Guess I need to get out more, link and comment.
  • Create TKD Woodworking (my side-hustle name) with an LLC, website, finance tracking, etc. Sort of a trial method for running businesses. Grade B. Incorporated it, began building projects, established a website(pretty bad one). Still need to upgrade website, complete about 3-4 more items to sell, and begin marketing. Still, coming along.
  • Make $1,000 in sales (not necessarily profit) on items with TKD woodworking. Grade F. Haven’t sold anything yet.
  • 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. With all this extra time, you’d think I could make progress on this. A little lazy I guess.


  • Increase weight lifted by 10% from 2019. Was able to exceed this in 2019, need to continue to push it. Grade B. Jumped up about 7% in 1st qtr, but haven’t been lifting in March, so my bet is that I’ll drop back down. If I keep at it, I should still be able to hit this.
  • Average 2 hours of cardio per week, which is about what I’m doing now. Grade A. Walking daily , so hitting this.
  • Backpack over 90 miles on AT (did around 80 miles in 2019). The trail that I haven’t hiked is getting further and further away, making it impossible to do weekend trips. Going to get harder. Incomplete. Had to push a scheduled trip in April out to September. Plan was to hike for a week in May, but that may get pushed off as well.
  • Continue volunteering at Pennsbury Manor at their joiner’s shop (woodworking). Really enjoyed this. Incomplete. Site is closed down
  • Reduce weight by 20 lbs. from Jan 2019 (lost 2 lbs. in 2019). Again, I want to get in better shape as I get closer to financial independence. Grade D. I’m down 3 lbs in 1st qtr, 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. Five books in 1st qtr, and I really enjoy it.


  • Visit three national parks (that is the plan, right now). Incomplete. Trip planned for June
  • 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. Incomplete. Trips planned, but haven’t done them yet.
  • Take a week at the shore and just relax with family. Currently planned for July, but we’ll see how many family members can come. Incomplete. Trip planned for July.
  • 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. Incomplete. Closed for now.

Overall, I’d say I’m doing OK, not stellar. A lot of travel is dependent on the next 3-4 months and the status of the virus, so we will see.

How was your first quarter of the year?

Mr. 39 Months.

Dividend Account results – 1st qtr 2020

I’ve been tracking my dividend/income account for some time, to see how I could create an income stream out of my investments, rather than just depending on growth stocks and selling them off as I move through retirement and use my  bucket system. The old traditional way was to use dividend paying stocks and bonds to live on (reinvesting some of them to keep up with inflation).

This worked for many years, until the bust and the “great recession,” when the US Fed dropped interest rates to try and keep the economy out of recession and to fend off deflation – A terrible economic situation, where prices tomorrow will be cheaper than today. When you get a continuous time period of deflation (see America’s great depression of the 1930s) its hard to get the economic engine going again. Folks wait to purchase, because it will be cheaper tomorrow.

Well, due to low interest rates, US stock dividends and bond dividends have been small pickings, and the result is difficulty for folks who want to follow traditional ways of investing their retirement money and drawing down. As I noted at the beginning of the year, my attempts haven’t been that good.

In the early part of the year, I chose to ditch my bonds in the account (which made up 50% of it) and go to a 50/50 split of dividend stocks and REITs. Yes, I know, great timing! So how has it gone for the first quarter? Not bad from a dividend standpoint, but sucky from a stock value standpoint.

Dividend Account
stockDetailsInvestment valueAnnual YieldDividend
CSCOCisco Systems$5,870.253.58%$52.50
XOMExxon Mobil$3,971.008.76%$87.00
HRHealthcare Realty$12,570.004.77%$150.00
IBMInternational Business Machines$5,400.006.00%$81.00
ORealty Income Corp (REIT)$9,086.005.10%$115.75
SVCServices PPTYS TR$2,604.0024.88%$162.00
MMM3M Company$4,035.302.91%$29.40
UMHUMH Properties$10,802.007.33%$198.00
 Bonds  $132.95

So I cashed in $1,414 in dividends in 1st qtr 2020 versus only getting $1,192 in 1st quarter 2019 – an 18.6% increase in income (not too shabby). However, 1st qtr 2019 investments were worth $132,151, so that was painful. However, if the objective was to get and live off the income, I could let the investments sit there and move back up. I’m not sure if these companies will cut their dividends in the new year, we’ll have to see.

So the experiment continues.  Right now, I still think investing in index funds and going for growth is the better way to go, and that is where the lions share of my investments are.

Othalafehu dividend performance for 1st qtr

Mr. 39 Months

Investment Update Mar 2020

Well, March came in like a Lion! Like most folks, March was not kind to me, with a significant drop off in the market. My investments went up & down like a yoyo, but I’m hopeful that all the Chinese Corona Virus effects have been marked in, and we’ll be ready for a little less turbulence.

Its interesting how the market has recovered over the last week. I did a quick update on March 23rd, and was down $191K for the month, but by the end of March, I was down only $161K. Still sucks, but at least its starting to come back a bit. My bet is we end up about 10% down for the year.

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. I did rebalance my portfolio at the beginning of the year, selling stocks and buying bonds to get back to my target allocation. That helped a lot!

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.

Everything was down, just at different points. S&P500 was down about 12%, Small cap -20%, International 14%, REITs -19% and Bonds about 1% (?). Overall, down about 13% in my  major investments.  

My dividend account new allocation (as of Jan 2020) was:

  • 50% Dividend Stocks
  • 50% REITs

Boy, did I pick a wrong time to get out of bonds! Everything took a pummeling, down about 17% total (stocks were hit a little worse than the REITs). The interesting question is whether the stock companies will curtail their dividend payouts in 2020? We will have to see.

My brokerage account has two value index funds, and their down about 23% for the months. Again, like everyone, we just got savaged – down about 22%

So For March, I’m down -13.68% overall, and down -18.62% for 2020. I still have a little over $1M in invested assets (just barely) but was below the millionaire mark for a lot of March. Time to build back up!

Hope everyone is healthy and your April is better!

Mr. 39 Months