March 2020 Progress Update

It felt like March arrived out of nowhere. Right away, it seemed like spring showed up with it. Suddenly we enjoyed sunnier days and warmer temperatures. I came down with a cold that I battled for the first part of the month. Our “little efforts” paid off in the form of a cleaner apartment with less effort.

We temporarily put out some patio furniture one sunny Sunday morning and took our coffee outside. Some neighbor friends in our building stopped by for a quick catch up. These things happen all the time during the summer. It feels like everyone is coming out of hibernation. 

As I mentioned previously, I draft these monthly update posts in pieces. This helps me remember what we did over the days and weeks. At the beginning of the month, March was no different. Looking back at the first two paragraphs I drafted feels like a lifetime ago. By now we know that many lives have been disrupted by the novel coronavirus and  COVID-19 pandemic. It will certainly be a defining moment for this year and likely beyond. I’m hopeful that soon life will go back to something resembling normal, but only time will tell if this is the end of the world as we know it. I feel suspended between those two possibilities–carrying on with business as usual and collapsing into a puddle of panic.

I am a little worried about our market investments. Mr. Vine is not. Relying on history, this market crash is unlikely to have a significant negative impact on us. The most likely impact is that we will put off early retirement and work longer if recovery is prolonged. Even taking the longest recovery time periods in history, we should still be in good shape to retire over a decade before Mr. Vine turns 65 (traditional retirement age). For now, though, we aren’t thinking about that. Like most of the world, we are taking things one day at time and feeling grateful for each day that our basic needs are met. We consider ourselves so fortunate at this moment.

March was such a tumultuous month in every way that it feels difficult to recap. Towards the end of the month, Mr. Vine was laid off from his job, which we fully expect to be temporary. However, as the situation continues to change rapidly, we aren’t sure how long “temporary” will be. We remain in solid financial shape although we have reduced our after-tax investments in an effort to shore up some additional cash reserves and cover our expenses with a reduced income. Because both of us earn six-figures and have relatively low overhead, we are usually more relaxed with our cash emergency funds. The likelihood of both of us simultaneously losing our jobs is reasonably small and even if that happened, unemployment compensation would cover our necessities. We still feel comfortable with this, but now that we presently depend on a single income, we are holding on to extra income that otherwise might have been invested.

The decrease in investments will not be visible until April, but our savings rate chart showed the big dip in assets on the “projected passive income line.” Our expenses were quite low in March and should be about the same in April. This was largely organic rather than a concerted effort to cut back. 

For a pandemic bonus, I will share a net worth graph that I usually don’t. For the most part, it is not that interesting. But this month, things got a little crazy. This graph charts our net worth from the time we started keeping track of it in August 2017. Let me know if you like seeing this graph and I will include it more frequently.

All of our March goals fell by the wayside. I stopped tracking on my resolutions chart as well. That’s okay. This month was simply about survival. And we made it. But here is a review of how we did while I was still tracking our progress .

March Goals:

  • Combine HSAs
    • Completely forgot that I’d planned to do this!
  • Roll over remaining 401k balance
    • Same as above.
  • Complete bedroom re-decoration
    • This fell by the wayside due to potential upcoming changes. More details to come.
  • Schedule a skin check
    • I also forgot about this one, which was just as well with all routine medical appointments temporarily on hold. When life gets back to normal, this will go back on the list. 
  • Follow race training plan
    • Abandoned, due to cancellation of race and deferral to next year.
  • Register for spring race
    • Done! This will be my first attempt at a sub-2 hour half marathon and the race I’ve built my training plan around. 

Our goals for April are somewhat fluid and are intended to help us care for our mental health. We anticipate more changes and uncertainty in April, but having goals to work towards will help us navigate these uncertain times. 

April Goals:

  • Mr. Vine back to work
  • No unplanned spending
  • Combine HSAs (Ms. Vine)
  • Stay healthy
  • Declutter at least one area of apartment
  • Maintain run streak


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