Saturday Linkage:


  1. Optimizing Your Finances (and Taxes!) in 2022 (Go Curry Cracker) Learn some lessons from 2021 and apply them to 2022.
  2. My Bucket List is Overflowing (Reflections around the Campfire) I know how she feels – I want to get out!
  3. Why Early Retirement Isn’t Just About Escaping a Sh*tty Job (Route to Retire)
  4. 5 Simple Ways To Build An Emergency Fund (Steve Adcock) The first step is always the hardest
  5. Fantasy vs. Reality in Early Retirement (Dragons on fire) Going to battle with this for the next five years
  6. How to build wealth when you’re living paycheck to paycheck (Think Save Retire) Again, the first steps are difficult, but once you get started, you are going to be surprised how quickly things go.
  7. The Right Contribution Order Between Your Investment Accounts (Financial Samurai)
  8. Am I Adjusting my Financial Independence Number for Inflation? (Full Time Finance) I think this is a generational thing. Those of us in our late 50s remember the high inflation times. A lot of younger FI people can’t wrap their minds around the idea of multiple years of high inflation – but it can happen.
  9. A lesson in speaking up for yourself: I saved $575 for a moment of discomfort (Get Rich Slowly) Nice tale
  10. Not an Inflation Hedge (The Irrelevant Investor) Bitcoin is not an inflation hedge!
  11. Sewing Room Declutter (Just baggage enough) A lot of folks, like me, doing this in January.

What do you do at the beginning of the new year?

This is a re-post of a previous article – I think its a good way to look at your new year planning.

So it seems everyone has their own method/ideas for closing out the old year and starting the new one. There are “new years resolutions” and lists of financial and personal decisions to review and update. I find this time of year fascinating on the FIRE blogs, because you really get a chance to see where people are, how their decisions throughout the year “panned out” and what their thoughts on for the new year. Hopefully you’ll write and share yours.

For me, I typically start out my review where I’m most comfortable – the numbers! As an engineer and a FIRE guy, I enjoy looking at my spreadsheets and investments to see where I am and to plan for the future. So what do I do with my finances?

  1. Update Investment status: I track my investments monthly, and at the end of the year, I determine, for each investment, its overall growth and its percentage in my overall portfolio.
  2. Calculate dividends: I also take the opportunity for each investment to determine its dividend yield and the amount of “passive” income it has thrown off. I use this for planning the potential for retirement income in the future.
  3. Individual Investment Performance: Determine if I need to sell/buy new investments, based on performance.
  4. Updated Net Worth: Adding all of this together with my real assets (home, cars, side hustle) and our liquid assets (checking & savings) I determine our net worth, and the growth of our net worth in the past year
  5. Determine rebalancing moves/stock sales & purchases: Finally I look at each investment and what its overall percentage is in the portfolio – and then determine if I need to buy/sell items to bring everything in line (I also rebalance in the middle of the year).

With all this done, I have a better idea of where we are financially, and where we are in relation to our goals.

At this point, I turn to the “softer” items on my new year review

  1. Review previous years goals: In addition to financial goals, I’ve got a long list of goals that I was working on (fitness, reading, traveling, visits to family, etc.) I try to put real numbers or performance measures on each, so I can actually grade myself on accomplishing/not-accomplishing them.
  2. Review 5-minute journals from past year for insight: Like so many others, I use a journal on a daily basis to write about my thoughts and feelings (I use the five-minute journal). I go back and review my writing for any insights.
  3. Go through “Year End Review” list of question: I have a “year end review” list of questions I picked up from my reading that I do at the beginning of the year, that I reflect back on weekly. The idea is to answer these questions and reflect on them
  • Identify 20% of people, projects or ideas which provided 80% of enjoyment/powerful emotions for 2018
  • Identify 20% of people, projects or ideas which provided 80% of stress/pain/powerful emotions for 2018
  • Try and spot patterns from #1 and #2; Determine action steps to increase #1 and reduce #2:
  • Identify Three things to add to my life
  • Identify Three things to remove from my life
  • Ask folks close to you, what you should do more of and what should you do less of?
  • Start putting stuff into the calendar. If it is on the calendar, we will do it
  • Questions from “Happy Money”.
    • For Purchases, “how will this affect my use of time”
    • “How will I use this thing on Tuesday night”
    • $100 to most increase happiness?
    • $500 to increase happiness?
    • $1000 to increase happiness?
    • Take 20% of liquid cash, how would you apply it to increase your quality of life?

I then set new goals for new year: Based on all this, I go and set new goals for the year, and then post them where I can reflect back on them regularly

So what do you do for your year-end review?

Mr. 39 Months

Sunday Linkage:

Sorry its a day late


  1. How to Create Your Personal Financial Calendar (Less Debt More Wine) A Financial Calendar has every single bill due date throughout the entire year
  2. Car shortage could change buying behavior forever (Axios) The supply chain issues continue to cause havoc in a variety of industries.
  3. Appreciate What You Have While You Have It (One Frugal Girl) Good advice for all time
  4. Making the transition to early retirement: Our Five Year Plan (Rich Frugal Life) Excellent advice as you move towards FIRE
  5. Is the Fed Responsible for an 800% Gain in the Stock Market? (A Wealth of Common Sense) Yes
  6. 5 Reasons Why You Should Not Self-Manage Your Rental Properties (Passive Income MD) Advice I may need to heed.
  7. Inflation at 7%! Here’s why I’m not running for the hills (yet)! Early Retirement Now) I’m concerned – and have been for 10+ years about this.
  8. When is Enough Money, Enough? (Female in Finance) The eternal FI question – and it is different for each person.
  9. Own Your Career, What It Means to Own Your Career (ESI Money) concentrating on your own career will help you get there
  10. Relax, it’s OK to slow down (TawCan) This take a lot of time for FI folks to learn. Life is a journey and you should enjoy it as you go, even if it means you retire a couple of years later
  11. You Don’t have to buy individual dividend stocks to be a dividend investor (Dividend diplomats) I’m a fan, but we can’t seem to be able to find sufficient dividends at this time.

Dividend Account results – 2021

The dividends in my accounts returned back to a normal (or more normal) than previously. The wild stock swings of 2020 have been reduced, and while stock prices are up dramatically, company dividends have also gone up due to higher profits. The result is that my dividend results have mirrored what was done in the past.

My brokerage account is invested in a Vanguard value fund 100%, so dividends aren’t that much of an emphasis. Still the yield on that was 2.0% (up from 1.92% last year), which beat the S&P500  yield of 1.26%. Now the S&P 500 Vanguard index fund was up 28.66% for the year vs 26.49% for the value fund, so you ended up getting slightly more with the S&P. Still, I’m very happy with it.

My stretch IRA, which was built to generate dividends had a fairly good year. While the dividend yield was 3.37% (vs. 2020 4.19%) the fund grew 13.3% in addition vs. a significant drop in 2020.

Vanguard Stretch IRA
stockDetailsInvestment valueYieldDividend
CVXChevron Corp$5,867.5018.10%$265.50
HRHealthcare Realty Trust$15,820.0015.30%$605.00
KOCoca Cola Company$5,921.0011.35%$168.00
MMM3M Company$8,881.5013.33%$296.00
MRKMerck & Company$3,832.0010.18%$97.50
ORealty Income Corp$14,318.0015.83%$566.50
PFFIshares Preferred$11,631.8515.45%$449.25
SVCService Properties TR$5,340.001.80%$24.00
UMHUMH Properties Inc$30,063.0011.12%$836.00

My IRAs performed well, though my 401K still does not report dividends separately. I altered my allocation in Sep 2021 to have fewer bonds (due to low interest rates) and a smaller S&P 500 allocation, and moved that money into blue chp stocks. The result didn’t alter my dividends too much, with my yield going from 1.83% down to 1.76%, due primarily to the drop in bonds in my allocation.

DetailsInvestment valueYieldDividend
TRowePrice IRA$169,056.161.42%$2,402.78
TRowePrice Roth IRA$230,569.621.42%$3,284.58
Vanguard IRA$277,278.882.24%$6,213.63
Vanguard Roth IRA$401,800.511.77%$7,103.11

Overall, I received about 1,593 less in dividends in 2021 vs. 2020. Again, I think the change in bond allocation affected this. Right now I don’t see me changing my allocation, so I’m hopeful for some increase in dividends in 2022.

How did everyone else do with the dividends in 2020?

Read more

Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage:


  1. Give Yourself A Performance Review: 10 Questions For Self-Reflection (Costa Rica FIRE)
  2. What It Means to Own Your Career (ESI Money) New Year’s resolution?
  3. Reader Case Study: Nursing Student by Day, Restaurant Worker by Night, Needing to Make Ends Meet (Frugalwoods)
  4. Dollar Cost Average vs Lump Sum (Go Curry Cracker)  Best way to invest a large lump of cash
  5. Think Most Millionaires Inherited Their Wealth? Think Again (Steve Adcock) “The notion that ‘most millionaires inherit their wealth’ is a myth”
  6. Fantasy vs. Reality in Early Retirement (Dragons on Fire) Its not all “peaches and cream”
  7. The Problem With Owning Beachfront Property: The Ocean (Financial Samurai) We still don’t know if we’re going to retire to the beach or the mountains – but I’m thinking mountains.
  8. How Much Does Experience Matter? (The Irrelevant Investor) How much do your earlier experiences hold you back?
  9. New Year Financial Checklist (Cash flows and Portfolios) Nice checklist
  10. Progress Isn’t Linear (Art of Manliness) All you have to do is look at the market and you can see this is true.
  11. 20 Most-Overlooked Tax Deductions, Credits and Exemptions (Kiplingers)

Goals/Objectives for 2021

So with the start of a new year,  it is time to review the goals for 2021 and see how I’ve done. I’ve done the goal setting posts before and gone over my 2017-2020 goals in previous posts. As for most people, 2021 was a mixed bag. I failed to put as much into retirement accounts as planned, but the rising stock market and my allocation definitely were successful – in terms of my goals.

For 2021, we had already achieved our FI number, and we probably could have retired already. However, with the Chinese Covid flu in place, there really wasn’t much of an opportunity to travel and do other work. So we planned to continue to work, invest a large portion of our salaries, and stay invested primarily in stocks. We did change our allocation in Sep 2021 away from some bonds and S&P to dividend paying stocks (Blue Chips). It seems to have done well.

So what about 2021?


  • Save $29K in tax-advantaged accounts: In early 2021, it looked like I was going to retire early, so I made the decision to stop investing in the 401K and generate more regular investments. When I determined to continue to work, I failed to put my 401K investment back in place. Didn’t realize it till December, so I wasted a lot of money I could have put into tax advantaged accounts.  Grade D –  $7,801
  • Save $41K in regular accounts:  I put away my entire bonus, as well as a lot of excess money, and even saved enough to do a $60K Roth conversion in December and pay the taxes for it. Grade A – $44,500
  • Increase dividend income from all accounts to $30K/year: My 401K at work does not report dividends separately, so this number may be higher.  Grade C – $27,336
  • Passive income covers 38% of base living expenses in retirement, estimated at $78K per year: 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-  35.0%
  • Beat net worth growth rate of 7% (it was +14.6% in 2020 with the stock market run up). This is my historical growth rate for the last 10+ years, so I want to beat my average. I expected the market to be flat, but instead, we grew our net worth dramatically. Grade A: +21.8%


  • Attend 12 SJREIA meetings. 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 A: Attended 13
  • Double the number of blog visitors in 2021. 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 – only had 5,354 visitors in 2021
  • Sell $1,000 for TKD Woodworking. Grade A – $1,300 in revenue
  • Setup Funding for TKD Homes Grade A – Account setup and funded with a significant amount to begin investing in real estate
  • 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 – did not work on


  • Begin regular workouts with Gymnastic Bodies Incomplete. Continues in early 2021, but a shoulder injury kept me from continuing in the 2nd half of 2021
  • Average 2 hours of cardio per week, which is about what I’m doing now.  Grade A: Regular do 3+ hours
  • Backpack over 100 miles on AT (did around 58 miles in 2020). Did better this year, with longer trips (3- and 4-day trips) Grade B: 78 miles
  • Continue volunteering at Pennsbury Manor at their joiner’s shop (woodworking). Really enjoyed this. Incomplete. Site shutdown due to Virus
  • Reduce weight by 15 lbs. from Jan 2021 Grade F. Gained 3 lbs in 2021, mostly in Nov/Dec. Need to knuckle down and get back to where I was in 1st qtr.
  • Read at least one book a month. I surpassed this goal in 2018, and re-learned the joy of reading.  Grade A. 23 books


  • Visit one national parks (that is the plan, right now); Incomplete due to virus
  • 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 C – Visited Vermont and Tennessee, but didn’t get up to NY
  • 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. Grade A – Did week on the Maryland shore with Mrs. 39 Months
  • 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 due to virus

So that’s how I did. How did you do in 2020?

Read more

Mr. 39 Months

End of Year Clean up/Clean out

So with some of the extra holiday time we’ve had the last week, Mrs. 39Months and I have been working on cleaning out some items, doing some reorganization, and generally preparing for the new year.

It started right after Christmas. Mrs. 39 Months has been wanting to redo her closet for some time (she has a 5’ x 5’-6” walk in closet) and she had hit on a design that used a corner cabinet to “capture” some of the lost space that is in the back corner. The original layout had hanging rods there, but clothes got lost behind a bank of shelves on the side wall that stuck out 16” (i.e. the last 16” of her hanging rods were difficult to access).

So she got the corner cabinet as a gift from me, and we spent the next two days after Christmas clearing out and rebuilding.
• Emptying out all the clothes from the existing closet
• Demo of the existing shelving
• Fixing/adjusting the hanging rods so they’ll provide enough support (i.e. proper anchoring) as well as 2 short clothes rods and one long-clothes rod
• Building the corner cabinet and installing
• Purging the existing clothes and items and prepping to send excess to charity
• Identifying how to use the existing bins, baskets, etc. in the new closet cabinet
• Putting all the clothes back in the new closet

Turned out pretty nice

For me, the day before Christmas, I went and purged the bookshelves in my home office. As you know, I am an avid reader, and I’ve got a lot of books. I took the opportunity to clear out a lot of the history and fiction books that I have read and which have been sitting on the shelves for 10+ years. I now have three bags of books for our local library book sale. Hopefully, some other folks can get some benefit from them.

So we’re sailing into 2022 with better closet organization and lots of empty space on my bookshelves – for more books!

Read more

Have a Happy New Year!

Mr. 39 Months

Is it the 4.7% rule now?

An interesting article at, where they discuss the 4% rule, and is it valid in the 21st century. It helps to address one of the key questions for folks in the FIRE community – do I have enough money now to retire on?

For those who don’t know the history, William Bengen was originally an engineer who, after retiring from his first job, became a financial advisor. He applied his math skills to do an in-depth study in the early 90s on what was the correct percentage of your wealth to withdraw to ensure you could have a good chance on not outliving your money. After going through investments from 1926 (pre-great crash) to 1990, he came up with the rule stating “take your assets and put them in a mixed stock-bond allocation, take 4% each year, starting in year 1,  and increase that by the inflation rate every year. You will be safe for the next 30+ years.”

In fact, he thought you could probably take out 4.5% or even 5%, but 4% was a “safe withdrawal rate.” Since then, folks have replicated the study, and time and time again, the 4% rule has stood.

However, in the current era of low-inflation and low interest rates, many analysts have said that the 4% rule is “too generous” and you should plan to take out only 3%, or even as low as 2.5%. I myself have done some analysis and read some additional articles, and written on it before.

A new article is out on, in it, Bengen states that he’s gone back through the numbers after 30 years, and the number still holds up. He continues to insist that the 4% rule is too conservative. He holds that “Retirees can safely withdraw up to 4.7% a year without threatening to wipe out their retirement savings before 30 years have elapsed.” He claims that the “Skeptics simply do not seem to read all of his research, including updates.”

Bengen believes “that 4.7% plus inflation is a safely sustainable annual withdrawal rate applies to all retirees since 1968.”

My plan is to stick to a 4% safe withdrawal rate. I think that it’s a valid rate to use.

What are your assumptions?

Read more

Mr. 39 Months.

Saturday Linkage:


  1. Earn 2500 per stay with Hilton’s latest promo (Monkey Miles) As the travel miles 101 folks say “Taking advantage of promotions on hotel stays you were planning anyway is an awesome way to earn more points”  
  2. Top Of The ARKK To You (Impersonal Finance). Investing in something at the top, then watching it plummet down!
  3. Thinking Of Owning An AirBNB Vacation Rental? (Costa Rica Fire); Some good points
  4. In my Workspace (Paul Sellers) A nice view of a long-term woodworkers workspace over the years
  5. 15 Best Things to Buy at Dollar Stores (Including Dollar Tree) for the Holidays (Kiplingers)
  6. What to Do If Your Tongue Gets Stuck to a Flagpole (Art of Manliness) Critical information for this time of year
  7. 98 Days – 14 weeks to go (Just Baggage Enough) Another countdown goes into double-digits.
  8. How Much is Enough? (Can I retire yet) The eternal question – and a very personal one
  9. Is it Possible to Retire at 32 with a $1M Portfolio? (Cash Flows and Portfolios) I’d be hesitant. A lot depends on where you want to retire to
  10. Cheerfully Cheap Ways to Save During the Holidays (Budget Life List) Don’t scrimp, but make sure you can afford it!
  11. All 63 US National Parks ranked by experts 2021 (More than just parks); For those looking to get out