FIRE September Update

This Month’s Story

Progress to Early Retirement: 54.8%
Progress to Financial Independence (3/4): 73.1%
Progress to Half Annual Spending: 109.6%
Percent Home Ownership: 60.1%
Net Worth / Annual spending tax adjusted: 13.7x of that Home: 2.4x Retire: 8.3x Non-Retire: 3.0x

It’s been another month where I have been working very hard at my W-2 that has prevented me from blogging as much as I would like. This will no doubt will not help my chances at getting read more, and I would enjoy that, but priorities must remain as they are. I am still a good way from retirement at just under 55% of the way there. That is a good thing. I am now a year into this hobby, and I’ll be doing another post soon talking about how I feel about that. I’m planning on a it’s been a year post.

Looking back over the last month, we’ve has some ups and some downs. There’s been some spending and some relaxation. For one of us, a new world has opened. My son started kindergarten. This kid, the first thing he says to my wife and I was, “well, I didn’t get sent to the principle’s office!” Sometimes my boy kills me. Kids really are hilarious. Sadly my dog had a seizure yesterday, and that was $1000 for tests and now we have to hope for no more. If she does, then we have some expensive and or sad choices. I go into more detail here about my thoughts where I share the issue I am wrestling with is how much is her life worth?

We spent a week with my parents vacationing, and that was great. While it is not fun that they live in the South, it is great that they live near the beach and bought their home with the intent of family from up North coming to visit. They were also smart enough to be far enough in land for the hurricanes and storm surge to be less of an issue. As I write this, Florida is in the cross hairs, and I hope folks there, including many family-members of mine, end up as lucky as my parents did last year when they were hit.

From a FI perspective, it’s cheap to stay as we don’t have to pay for the hotel. Our preference is to drive down there so that we can take toys and the like, so there is savings there. Of course, no one loves a 10+ hour drive, but I am still strong enough to do it, so why not. On the way home, due to traffic in Baltimore and on the Jersey shore, we ended up taking a longer route. We stopped a lot, so it ended up being closer to 15 hours. The kicker is that I managed to find the strength to still go to my astronomy club outing that night. I totaled 750 miles behind the wheel that day, and was active from 3am until about 11pm. I spent about 2 hours at the park with the club. I did not setup my scope but walked around, and viewed others scopes.

We did not really spend a lot as we ate most meals with my folks at their home, although of course we bought the food at their local supermarket. We used the community pool, and only went to the beach one night for rides and fireworks. My son loved it, and more time with my parents was really what I wanted. Next year, we will make stops on the way down at some of the historical sites in our country; I really want to visit Norfolk, Yorktown, Gettysburg, and places like that. There are also amusement parks and other places that my wife would like to visit. We won’t stop at them all one year, but one or two each trip sounds like a good idea. As my son gets older, these trips make more sense.

At the end of the day, though, we did not spend our budget. Rather than save it, I decided to spend a bit. My stereo receiver is about 15 years old, and my speakers are about 20. The speakers are fine, but for the surround sound, they are wired. Well, I am not drilling holes in my new wood floors from last year as the previous home owner did with the old ones, and I am not wiring them up through the walls and the like. I don’t want to do it myself, and the cost of installation would likely be more than the cost of wireless surround speakers. I ended up buying a new Yamaha receiver and 2 of the Musiccast 20 speakers. The new receiver is hooked up to the optical audio output on the TV and to my Blue-Ray player. This was not cheap, but I do love the better sound and the surround sound. I am reusing my subwoofer, center, and front speakers with the new receiver, and the old receiver and old surround speakers are now my gaming speakers. That’s quite a bit Over Powered, but it’s great. I have heard sounds from the games I play with my son that the monitor speakers could not produce. It really is amazing. The old receiver does not support hdmi, to give you an idea, but optical cables are still the same.

If you want to know details about my setup, and how I got it to work, I’ll happily share or make a post if there is any interest. It really wasn’t that hard for me to do.

The cost was about $980 with tax and everything for the receiver, new speakers, and few new cables I needed. That’s a lot, but wireless surround speakers are not cheap. For me, a movie lover, it’s worth it. Other wireless options would not work, so there you go. Was it a waste, sure in a pure FI sense, no, but for me, since we took only one family vacation, and it was cheap, and I get a lot of pleasure from my new computer sound system and my new surround system, it’s worth it. (Run on sentence intentional.) There has to be a balance between spending and saving, and these past few months I have been working very hard. Having a bit more fun in my spare time is worth it. My wife agreed, and this did not impact our pure savings rate.

A quick point about my running before I get to the charts, I have to stop for a while due to a pulled muscle in my calf. I was down about 2 miles for the last month from the previous one, and slower in speed due to this injury. I think my best option is to just lay off for a week or two and let it heal. Strength training it is for a few weeks.

The most important chart to me is this one: the time to retirement. Looking at our net-worth of 12 months ago, our rate of return for this year, including the loss of home value was just under 6%. If we can sustain that for the next few years, assuming the markets are kind, then we can start looking at FIRE in as little as 8 years. Wow, that is a great feeling. I still think I will just downshift to a less stressful and time consuming job, but that is for another time. As I always say to my wife, the more we have, and the closer we get, the more options we have. That is what really matters. I don’t see me not working at some job that gives healthcare, and using my engineering skills for many more years, but I do hope to have more time.

The slide in our home’s value has stabilized. With our current plan of paying an extra $300 a month in principle, we will pay it off in December of 2029, as opposed to 2022. The long slow decline in the remaining loan will mean this chart, which I auto-generate with my Python script each month with the others will not be a regular post unless the value of my home, blue line, rebounds.

Our non-retirement accounts are doing fine. The only accounts that are doing poorly are the cash accounts as that money has been knocked down as we’ve moved some of that around a bit. The bottom 3 are all just redirected into other cash type holdings or into the mortgage. Everything else is doing fine more or less. These are percentages, not whole dollars, so it’s not a big deal. They peaked in value in November of last year when we moved $100k of it to the mortgage, and they have regained about 40% of that. Sadly, the house “lost” in valued that much, but we don’t plan on moving any time soon.

Our retirement accounts have rebounded nicely from last January’s big issue, and I don’t have much to say about them. We are pretty much on the set it and forget it mode there as the allocation is what I want long term. We will have to see what comes out of this in the long term.

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