August 2018 Progress Update
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In August 2018, our nest egg finished at 36.9% of goal. Our goal is a conservative 33x our current expenses, less a 0% interest car loan that will be paid off in January 2019. This goal anticipates a 3% withdrawal rate, as opposed the 4% rate cited in the Trinity Study. Our mortgage is currently scheduled for payoff in 2029 and we don’t expect to do so before reaching financial independence. Of course, this is subject to change, but the payment and interest rate are quite low. We plan to keep travel and other discretionary spending low if decide to retire early while we owe a balance on the mortgage.

Are we looking at fatFIRE based on our expenses? Maybe. We live a pretty great lifestyle currently and have resisted efforts to scale back. So, we’ve decided to set our goal to accommodate our present spending levels. If we’re able to reduce expenses, we will update our timeline and progress to goal accordingly. Are we even technically considered “RE” if we are both well into our 40s by the time we reach the FI portion of the equation?

How did we do on our August goals?

  • Total spending within budget
    • A- We had a property tax bill that raised our overall spending for the month, but that’s a budgeted item. We also bought a replacement for an (expensive) broken chair, but Mr. Vine fixed it with Gorilla glue, so we were able to cancel the order!
  • Finish reading current book (Ms. Vine)
    • C I *still* haven’t finished this one, but continued to make progress. I did take a break to read another shorter one during the month.
  • Daily exercise (this is tough, but worthy of striving for)
    • B I resumed a weight lifting program in August. I count “daily exercise” as 30 minutes of any kind of activity (running, walking, weight lifting, yoga, biking) or any day where I reach 10,000+ steps.
  • Complete semi annual declutter project (get rid of one item based on the day of the month)
    • F This one was an epic fail.

August turned out to be a busy month, with lots of day trips to visit friends. We continue to enjoy more free and inexpensive things when we’re socializing. As part of our goal management habits, I usually keep a Gretchen Rubin-style resolutions chart. One of my recurring daily goals is “spend $0”. In August, I decided to note what I spent money on if I didn’t make the goal on a particular day. I tend to spend money on food. Sometimes it’s spontaneous like I decided not to pack a lunch that day or we decide to order pizza for dinner. Sometimes it’s a reimbursable expense like an unplanned lunch with clients. Only two of the days–a fuel fill up and a grocery store trip–were true necessities. None of these expenditures were budget busters, but it serves as an important reminder to think about what we have, plan carefully, and spend wisely. Most of the items, like the happy hour with a friend and professional contact, bring me a lot of satisfaction. When it’s possible, I work towards shifting these things to happy hour at my apartment. But sometimes it is nice, and special, to explore our city. So we continue to strive for balance.

And now, September goals

  • Total spending within budget
  • Finish reading current book (Ms. Vine)
  • Complete at least one item from my 101 things list (more on this later)
  • Publish a post weekly

The information on this chart dates back to September 2016 (the far left side of the chart). Big spikes in expenses involved items like a major bathroom renovation that we completed last summer, new appliances, and some tax-related expenses. Most of this has leveled out, as you can see from the right side of the chart. Investments include our pre-tax contributions to 401k plans and HSAs.

I’m trying out a new chart that shows our nest egg size compared with the goal on a monthly basis. This chart might not be that interesting because the progress is so small on a monthly basis. Let me know if you like it, and want to see it in the future, in the comments!

 

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