Saturday Linkage:

10/23/2021

  1. 25 Free Things To Do This Weekend (My Money Chronicles) Nice list
  2. The Art of Not Taking Things Personally (medium.dave) This is one of my major failings
  3. Americans Are Overworked And Over Work (Buzz Feed) The great resignation hits home
  4. What makes a job meaningful? (Brookings) Along the same line as above – I think a lot of folks are asking this question
  5. Time Heals Wounds (Humble Dollar); Investing over the long haul can help reduce the effects of a drop. Just give it time!
  6. Downsizing In Retirement: Any Regrets? (Can I retire yet?) I don’t know how much we’ll do this – Mrs. 39 Months is a bit of a pack rat
  7. The 60/40 portfolio: what the warning signs are telling us (Monevator) It may be underpowered for the long haul.
  8. When Do You Finally Feel Rich? It’s Not Always About The Money (Financial Samurai) Some deep and not-so-deep thoughts on the subject
  9. Only Focus on What You Can Control (Second Gen Finance) The true idea behind Stoicism
  10. A One Car Family (The Moneyaires) It can be done
  11. Worth vs. Worth It: Homeownership (Grumpus Maximus) “Owning brings certain loss. Renting guarantees it.”

Dividend Account results – 3rd Qtr 2021

Well, October is halfway done, and we are ¾ of the way through the y ear. If you’ve been reading my story, you know that this is an inherited IRA from my father, that I set up as a sort of “experiment” for an old-time dividend paying account, which would generate regular income – something a person could use once they retire.

I’ve had some ups & downs with it, and it has generated roughly 4% in dividends annually – but it hasn’t grown very much. Thus, in this era of growth fund investing and low interest rates, it hasn’t been able to generate the sort of returns necessary for someone to live off of in a long-term retirement. Still, its an interesting experiment, and good to know.

I started it back in 2016, and the fund was setup with 50% bonds, 25% dividend stocks and 25% REITs. After 2-1/2 years, I decided to divest from bonds, because with the low interest rates, they were only paying about 2% in dividends and dragging down the performance of the whole fund. Since then, its been a roughly 50/50 split.

In 2020, I started a “dog of the dow” investment strategy, where you purchase the 10 stocks with the highest yield on the Dow (i.e. their price vs. the dividend they are paying is lower). Its an old time strategy, and I’m not sure how its going to pay off long term. 2020 was a bad year for dividend stocks, but they’ve bounced back.

Now for the 3rd quarter, we generated roughly similar dividends to what was generated in 2nd quarter. The value of the fund on July 1 was $138K, and for October 1 it was $134.5K, so the account didn’t really grow (actually shrunk about 2.5%) while generating an annual 3.7% dividend rate. As I’ve stated before, this doesn’t appear to be a valid way to generate retirement income for the long haul. Whether this is due to low interest rates, poor performance from income stocks, or just generic poor performance from the “Dogs of the Dow” strategy, it still results in subpar performance vs. the needs for retirement.

Vanguard Stretch IRA
stockDetailsInvestment valueYieldDividend
AMGNAmgen$10,632.503.31%$88.00
CSCOCisco$8,164.502.72%$55.50
CVXChevron Corp$5,072.505.28%$67.00
DOWDow$5,756.004.86%$70.00
HRHealthcare Realty Trust$14,890.004.06%$151.25
IBMIBM$6,946.504.72%$82.00
KOCoca Cola Company$5,247.003.20%$42.00
MMM3M Company$8,771.003.37%$74.00
MRKMerck & Company$3,755.503.46%$32.50
ORealty Income Corp$12,972.004.35%$141.20
PFFIshares Preferred$10,245.174.54%$116.33
SVCService Properties TR$6,726.000.36%$6.00
UMHUMH Properties Inc$25,190.003.32%$209.00
VZVerizon$5,401.004.65%$62.75
WBAWalgreens$4,705.004.06%$47.75
$134,474.673.70%$1,245.28

The majority of our retirement money is tied into a normal mutual fund allocation, so this experiment hasn’t really set me back in my quest for financial independence. I’m thinking of winding this down at the end of 2021 or 2022 as I close in on my

Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage:

10/16/2021

  1. The Forces Shaping Retirement in the 2020s (Kiplingers) includes topic like entitlement programs and flexible work in retirement
  2. Podcast: Do you want to be Rich or Wealthy (Art of Manliness) Why the difference matters
  3. The Best U.S. Dividend ETFs (Cash Flows & Portfolios) Good list
  4. Nobody Wants Cash Flow (The Irrelevant Investor) When money costs nothing
  5. Your First Rental Property (Get Rich Slowly) Some excellent tips when starting out
  6. Social Security Cost Of Living Adjustments: Too High For Our Own Good (Financial Samurai) But there are no signs of long-term inflation?
  7. My Evaluation of a Powerful New Retirement Tool: RISA (The Retirement Manifesto) Good evaluation of the “Retirement Income System Awareness” Assessment
  8. Getting a Mortgage Without a Job (Go Curry Cracker); It can be difficult at times for retired folks
  9. The New Retirementality, Retirement Failure and What Makes a Successful Retirement (ESI Money) Beginning of a new series on a book about your mental state in retirement
  10. 5 Sacrifices We Made In Our 20s To Be FINANCIALLY INDEPENDENT In Our 30s (The Humble Penny) Nice story, but very frugal folks
  11. 10 Ways To Stop Comparing Yourself To Others & Love Who You Are (Making sense of cents) Envy is one of the seven deadly sins

Quarterly Update – Oct 2021

Well, it’s now mid-October, and I’ve had the opportunity to review performance for the 3rd qtr of 2021. With the September drop off in the market, the 3rd quarter ended up with fairly limited gains for my portfolio, but the other goals that I had for the year went better. Still not sure where the market is going to go in the near future, but since I don’t really attempt to market time all that much, it shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

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

Finance:

  • Save $29K in tax-advantaged accounts – 401K, and Roth IRA.  Grade B. Saved $4.1K in our 401Ks for the 1st qtr. Due to the size of my bonus, I’m not going to be eligible to do a Roth IRA contribution in 2021, so I’m just putting that money into my regular account.  
  • Save $41K in regular accounts.  Grade A. Put $9K into my savings, because I was going to do a Roth conversion of money for 2021, so I’d use this to pay the taxes. After doing the analysis, however, if I start pulling money out of my 401K/IRAs in advance of age 72, I end up with more money if I don’t do the Roth conversion. After October, I’ll be putting money back into the market.
  • Increase dividend income from all accounts to $27K/year (compared to 29K in 2019). Grade B. Dividends went back up a bit compared to to 2020, so it looks like we might hit our Dividend goal for 2021. Received $5,9K of dividends for 3rd qtr. Still need 4th Qtr to be bigger than last year.
  • Passive income covers 30.5% of base living expenses in retirement, estimated at $78K per year. Grade C, covered 28.8% for the first nine months of the year. However, my 401K and Deferred don’t report dividends separately, so I may not be getting the full amount. We will see.
  • Beat net worth growth rate of 7%. Grade A. Due to market and real estate value, the new worth is up 10.4% for the first nine months of 2021. Very hard to believe.  

Business:

  • Attend twelve SJREIA meetings. Grade A; I’ve attended twelve in the first nine months of 2021. 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.  Only 4,347 “hits” for 2021.
  • Sell $1,000 on TKD Woodworking (my side-hustle name). Grade: A. Sold $960 as of Sep 30th. Still have two more farmer’s markets to sell at, and these are typically the highest selling ones.
  • Setup funding for TKD homes. Grade A; I’ve got a significant amount of funds available now. Its invested in the market, but available for use to purchase houses with cash. 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 F: Was still doing this at the beginning of the quarter, but then got a shoulder injury and have been going through physical therapy for it. I am doing my PT religiously though – not sure if this counts.
  • Average 2 hours of cardio per week, which is about what I’m doing now. Grade A. Walking daily, so actually doing at least 3+ hours.
  • Backpack over 100 miles on AT (did around 50 miles in 2020). Grade: C: I had to cut my August trip short (The White Mountains in New Hampshire were brutal) so I’m at 55 miles. May end up around 90 miles for 2021.
  • 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 C. I was down 3 lbs in 1st qtr, but only 1 lbs for 2nd quarter. Down 2 lbs in 3rd qtr. 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 more books in third quarter 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. Visited brother in VT. I would like to go to NY for my wife’s family, but she’s reticent due to the Covid. Grade: Incomplete
  • A week with Mrs. 39 Months for our 35th anniversary. Grade: B. We didn’t do a full week, but we did do a long 4-day weekend on the western shore of Maryland. Very nice.
  • 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 third quarter go this year?

Mr. 39  Months.

Saturday Linkage:

10/9/2021

  1. Financial Advisor Licenses and Designations (Oblivious Investor); For those thinking of getting professional assistance in their FI journey
  2.  Introducing The 90/10 Rule of Retirement (Retirement Manifesto); Its true- you spend 90% of your pre-FI time worrying about money, and only 10% of your post-FI time worrying about it.
  3. The Truth About Those Dollar Stores (Consumer Reports)
  4. What to do in the case of sustained Inflation (GMO); See, I’m not the only one worried about it
  5. How a $500 Monthly Allowance Saved Our Marriage (Slate); We worked with a “his money, her money, our money” way of budgeting for years.
  6. RV Dealerships Think New Campers Are Pieces Of Junk, Too (Jalopink) Well, there goes my dreams of the “van life”
  7. Scraping By? (Humble Dollar); Some shocking numbers of folks who make $50K – $100K just “scraping by”.
  8. Using Domestic Geoarbitrage to Retire Sooner (Can I retire yet) A very good strategy, if you can afford to move away from family & friends
  9. Real Estate Nightmares: Benefit From My Mistakes (Cananomics) So its not just the US, Canada is a mess as well
  10. Is Minimalism Over?…or is it Ramping up for a Major Resurgence? (Meg Nordmann)
  11. Sovereign Default, the Debt Ceiling, and the $1 Trillion Coin (Lyn Alden) Not sure it will every happen, but we are spending like “drunken sailors” in the US

Investment Update Oct 2021

Like most folks investing, September was not “nice” to me. The S&P was down about -4.7% for the month, and just about every other mutual fund that I was investing in was also down, including my bond funds. If you remember, at the beginning of September, I changed my allocation somewhat you shift some money to dividend stocks and out of my bonds and S&P 500. Well, my dividend stock funds were down -4.5%, fairly close to the S&P. You just can’t win.

Still, I’m up over 10% for the year, and that is with primarily only 60% in stocks for the first 8 months, so its been a good year overall.

So my allocation, after my change in September is:

  • 10% bonds
  • 15% dividend Stocks
  • 15% S&P 500
  • 20% Small Cap stocks
  • 20% International stocks
  • 20% REITS

For investment performance in September, it came out to be:

  • S&P500: -4.7%
  • Bonds: -1.2%
  • REITs: -5.7%
  • Small Cap: -3.1%
  • International: -3.4%
  • Dividend stocks: -4.5%

I also have a Vanguard value fund (VVIAX) where I put in my after-tax investment money. That was down -4.0% for the month. I’ve been seeing a lot of articles of Value funds and ETFs doing better than the S&P500 – I guess we’ll see. I may do some additional research and write about this in the future.

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

  • 50% Dividend Stocks
  • 50% REITs

The dividend paying stocks & REITS were down an average of -4.1%. Still up for the year, with significant dividends. I’ll report out on 3rd qtr dividends in a later post.

October can sometimes be an excellent investment month, and sometimes (1929, 1987, 2008) it can be savage. I’m hoping it will be a good month. I’m up for the year, and the market has been on a tear since 2010, so overall I can’t complain.

Hope everyone is healthy and your market returns for the rest of the year go up!

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Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage:

10/2/2021

  1. Five Learnings from Five Years in Retirement (ESI Money); Basically, Retirement is Awesome
  2. Compassion for the Homeless Is Cruelty for the Working Class – Part I (Freedom is Groovy); Its sad but true.
  3. So You Want to be a Whitewater Raft Guide (Go Curry Cracker) I think I could have done this when I was younger
  4. What advice I would give my 23-year-old self (Retire by 40); I think everyone considers this at numerous times in their life
  5. The Pursuit of Childhood Joy (Retirement Manifesto); What I’m hoping to pursue for decades after I retire
  6. What Is POS vs PPO Health Insurance? The Costs And Benefits (Financial Samurai) We’ve always preferred the flexibility of a PPO
  7. A Financial Minimalist: Fiscally Slim & Trim (Budget Life List) Simplifying to reach FI
  8. What If Congress Bans Backdoor Roth and Mega Backdoor Roth? (The Finaance Buff); With the deficit spending going on in the US, I think its only a matter of time before this ends.
  9. How Does Retiring Early Impact Social Security Benefits? (Can I retire yet); This was a bit of a shock to me 3 years ago. I thought the SSN statement was gospel, but if assumes you’ll keep working at your current salary till full retirement age.
  10. Why Freedom can be Scary (Millenial Revolution) I always tell my students that being an adult is awesome!
  11. Highest Ever Chase Sapphire Preferred® Bonus & Featured Travel Offers. Editor’s Ratings and Credit Card Applications (Card Ratings)

Back to the shop!

       

Well the injury is somewhat healed and I can take the big bandage off.  Still don’t have much feeling in the top third of that finger, but the doctor believes its going to heal close to 100%, so I’ll take that!

Now its time to start working on the next project, which involves laminating a variety of woods (Padauk, Walnut, Ash, Maple and Purple Heart) for the next project. I’ve got to rip it into strips and glue it up in order to make panels for the next item.

Very repetitive work, but its great to be back in the shop!

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Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage:

9/25/2021

  1. Do The Weird Things Now Because One Day You Won’t Be Able To (Financial Panther); Its always a balance between spending now vs. saving for the future.
  2. Why Buying the Dip is a Terrible Investment Strategy (Dollars and Data); Hard to figure out whre the “dip” is and time getting back in.
  3. Buying NEW Cars with Financing (Miranda Marquit); We’ve always financed, but paid it off in advance. We finally have enough resources to pay them off with cash now.
  4. 10 ways to increase your income (Alan Donegan) Standard advice to increase your income as a way to help achieve FI.
  5. Why everybody’s hiring but nobody’s getting hired (Vox);
  6. The Case for Renting (PWL Capital); With the tax reform of 2017, it does make more sense to rent at times – – provided you invest the extra money you get out of it!
  7. Income for Sale (Humble Dollar) The case for delaying your social security date to the age of 70. 
  8. Dear Wife, Here’s How to FIRE If I Die Early (budgets are sexy) Need to shoot this to Mrs. 39 Months
  9. Should I Take A Mini-Retirement or Stick It Out? (Financial Mechanic); I’m dealing with this right now
  10. How long can I (should I) keep this job if they’ll keep me? (Her every cent counts); Similar to #9 above
  11. Making the transition to early retirement: Our 5 year plan (Rich Frugal Life)

When do you “time the market?”

So I am not a big fan of market timing – where you try to predict where the market is going to go, and make investment decisions based on that. I am more of a “buy and hold” kinda guy, who determines his allocation of investments, and then sticks with hit, rebalancing as needed. This held me “in good stead” during the 2008 and 2020 “crashes” where I just left the money in place, and waited (in some cases over a year) for it to build back up.

In March 2020, the market dropped down, and from that low of March 17th, it has doubled since then. I didn’t lose any money, because I never sold. I’ve also talked to you about my concern of the market, especially the S&P 500, being overpriced when compared to historical P/E ratios and other metrics. I recently adjusted my allocation, due to these concerns. Still, the majority of my investment career, since the dot.com crash, has been focused on long term investing.

But what happens when you have events in your life that demand a short term view on your investments? Due to Covid, my company has instituted a vaccine mandate (before the government even mandated it) – everyone has to be vaccinated by Oct 1st. While I am not an anti-vaxer (I got the Shingles vaccine this year in March, and just got my tetanus booster) I do have concerns with the Pfizer, Moderna and J&J vaccines, based on my analysis.

I’m looking at taking the Novavax vaccine once it becomes available in the US (4th Qtr?). However, that doesn’t look like it will be done in time for my company mandate, so it appears that I may be let go in early 4th Qtr 2021. Since I am FI, it doesn’t really get me too anxious.

However, I do have a significant portion of investments in a company 401K and Deferred account. The 401K I can let sit (or just transfer over to my IRAs) and that would still match my “buy and hold’ methodology. Even if it dropped right before I left, by transferring it to my IRA and letting it sit there for a couple of years, it would move back up.

However, the Deferred money would be paid out immediately upon termination of employment. The assets would be sold, and it would be a taxable event. Since I am looking at using this money for the first couple of years of retirement, I am concerned about it dropping suddenly, right as I planned to use it.

Several issues have me concerned right now:

  • We are heading into October, and October is typically not a good month for the market (see crashes in 1929, 1987, etc.)
  • There is a lot of negative news coming out of China right now (Evergrande, bank issues, etc.) that might cause the market to hiccup
  • Supply chain issues continue to affect companies and their Black Friday sales
  • Covid continues to be a net drain on the world, with its impact still to be figured out

So in this case, I have chosen to “time the market” with this deferred account. My typical allocation was 25% S&P500, 25% International, 25% Bonds, 25% Small Cap. I’ve now gone to 100% cash with it, and I’ll probably stick with that till November, or until I get let go by my company.

We will see how that works out!

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Mr. 39 Months