Hey everyone, I’m back from my Chiang Mai, Hanoi, and Narita vacation. We had so much fun, it was tough to come back. This time, we didn’t spend much money because I used points to pay for flights and accommodations. We only spent about $600 on food and souvenirs (mostly snacks.) That was plenty of money for 20 days. Food is so affordable in Asia and we ate very well. I posted some pictures on my Instagram account if you’d like to check it out. I’ll write up a trip report soon.
On the financial side, we did okay. We didn’t spend much money on ourselves, but I sent my parents some money to help out with their medical bills. My dad is still recovering from his hospital stay and had some further complications. They ran a bunch of tests and he still has a bunch of follow up visits. Anyway, I sent them $2,400 last month. That’s more than usual. Next year, I’ll budget about $10,000 for this and spread it out evenly throughout the year. That should make it easier to handle. Other than that, things were good.
Our income was good on all fronts. We finally had a good month with the rental income. All units are rented now and we didn’t have to fix anything. Hopefully, we can keep this up for a while. We had too many changes in 2019. It took the whole year for us to find our groove. Next year should be much better. We’ll start the year rolling and shouldn’t have as much cash flow issues as this year.
Okay, I’ll go over my goals first and then share the details of our net worth, cash flow, and savings.
Here is my goal scheduling spreadsheet. It works really well. Try it out if you can’t keep up with your New Year goals. The key is to update the spreadsheet at least once a month to track your progress. That way, you’ll see which goals need extra effort.
Whew! The year is almost over. There are only a few weeks left in 2019. However, these few weeks will be very important. Many funds payout in December and they should help our financial numbers tremendously. I’m ready for 2020, though. This year has been a tough year for us on many fronts.
- Passive Income> $60,000.This goal was way too ambitious. We’re not going to make it this year. Our passive income is $42,907 so far. This is way below the target. I thought we could sell the condos quickly and reinvest the money. However, the process took much longer due to the housing market slow down. There is no way we can reach $60,000 this year. Next year should be better. I’m looking forward to a fresh start in 2020.
- FI Ratio > 100%. This is my main goal for 2019. The FI ratio is passive income divided by expense. Once we reach 100% consistently, then we’ll be set to retire in style. Our passive income decreased this year, but our expense dropped even more. That’s why our FI ratio is 103%. That’s really good. I think we’ll improve even more next year.
- Save and invest > $100,000. Last year, we saved and invested $102,000! That was awesome and I hope to repeat it this year. However, it isn’t looking good. In 2018, my blog income was insane (in a good way), but it slowed down significantly this year. Our passive income is also down. It’s hard to save as much when our income is lower. So far, we saved and invested $72,685. That’s not bad at all.
- Update Retire by 40. I need to clean up the menu, sign up with new affiliate partners, and rework a few affiliate posts/pages. This isn’t that difficult, but I have to find the time to do it. I also need to update the PHP (what the heck is this?) and refresh the theme. This kind of work is very tedious for me so I usually put it off. I’m having a really rough time with it this year. Ugh! I found out my theme won’t get updated anymore. I’ll need to move to a new theme soon. This is a lot more work than I expected.
- Travel Hack 100,000 points. Yes! This one is done. Both of us signed up for the Capital One Savor card and received a $500 cash bonus each. This is a great card, don’t miss out. Click here to find the right credit card for you.
- Consolidate down to 1 property. We sold a condo! Now, we just have one unit left on the market. Unfortunately, it didn’t sell. I found a tenant and it’s rented now. I give myself 75% for this one. That’s a C. It could be worse.
- Drop weight to 130 pounds. I rarely make a weight loss goal because it never worked before. However, I think I’ll be able to do it this year. I’m intermittent fasting* and plan to exercise 5 days per week. Currently, my weight is 130 pounds. I just need to maintain this weight until the end of the year. I changed my goal to 130 pounds. Originally, I had it at 125 lbs. That’s too difficult and I can’t get that low. (I didn’t weigh myself in November because we were on vacation.)
*Here is how I do intermittent fasting. I only eat from noon until 8 pm on weekdays. This cuts down on the calories and I don’t miss breakfast much. I’m busy getting RB40Jr off to school on the weekdays anyway. Try intermittent fasting if you want to lose weight. It really works. If you can’t do it by yourself, I highly recommend Martin Dasko’s Intermittent Fasting Course. It was very helpful when I first started IF.
- Keep my happiness level at 8 or above. This is totally subjective. I’ll give myself a score at the end of the month and try to average about 8 this year. For November, I rate my happiness level at 9. We had a great trip to Thailand, Vietnam, and Japan. Life is awesome when you’re on vacation. My parents’ health is better so I’m less worried.
- Visit my parents in Chiang Mai. We spent very little our trip. I used my Chase and American Airlines points to book almost everything. The only thing I paid for is the flight from Chiang Mai to Vietnam and that was cheap ($174 for three.) Travel hacking is so nice. We visited Chiang Mai for 10 days, Hanoi for 5 days, and spend a day in Narita on the way home. It was a tremendously successful trip.
Net Worth (+16.7% YTD)
I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see the progress we made. 2019 is turning out to be a great year so far. That’s unexpected, but I’m happy with it. I’m being more conservative this year so our net worth lags behind the S&P 500 significantly. VFINX is doing amazingly well this year and it gained 25% so far! That’s way higher than usual. Anyway, I can’t complain because our net worth also gained 16.7%. Can the market keep this up? I seriously doubt it, but who knows… 2020 is going to be another wild year.
Here is a graph of our investment on Personal Capital. November was an excellent month for our net worth.
*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors.
2019 Passive Income ($42,907 YTD)
Here is a quick summary of our passive income. You can see all the details on my Passive Income page.
Our passive income looks good this year. The only problem is our rental income. There were too many unexpected repair and maintenance expenses. That’s the problem with rentals. There are endless repairs. However, rental income should improve significantly next year. I refinanced the loans into one property and lowered our monthly cost. Our condo is rented now so the cash flow should improve significantly next month.
The bottom line is our FI ratio. It’s 103% this year. This shows we can cover our living expense with our passive income. That’s financial freedom!
*FI ratio = passive income/expense
After we sold our 2 bedroom condo, I invested $40,000 with CrowdStreet and put the rest in VNQ (Vanguard REIT index.) Our passive income should increase with these additional investments.
2019 Cash Flow
Our cash flow was okay in November. Our income was good, but our expenses were higher than usual. Specifically, I sent my parent money to help with their healthcare and living expenses. I’m happy to help out, but it kind of messed up our chart. Next year, I’ll plan better and send a fixed amount every month so it won’t be so lumpy.
Here is the Sankey diagram for November. You can get a quick overview here and see the details below.
Gross Income (target > $12,000/month)
For 2019, our gross income target is $12,000/month. We met this goal for most months. In previous years, I tracked take-home income and it was all over the place due to the deductions. This year, I track gross income instead. In October, we grossed $14,408. That’s a win.
- Mrs. RB40’s paychecks: $8,090.
- Blog Income: $2,705. My blog income was a bit lower than usual. I purchased some blogging equipment and that ate into the income. You can read more details on my Blog Income page. RB40Jr is on the payroll now as a model and photographer. His income will go straight into his Roth IRA. I’m excited to see how this experiment will turn out.
- Rental Income: $613. Finally, we have a good month with rental income. All units are rented now and this is the expected income if nothing goes wrong. Let’s hope we can maintain this for a while. Read more at the Rental Property Passive Income page.
- Dividend Income: $931. Our dividend income was good last month. See more details at my Dividend Passive Income page.
- Real estate crowdfunding: $1,706. We had a great month with RE crowdfunding. I think one of the projects closed out. I saw a large payment, but I’m not sure why. I’ll keep an eye on it. You can see how we’re doing at the RE Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
- Interest Income: $13.
- Side hustle: $350. We made $350 from charging scooters! That’s not bad for 20 days. It’s really slowing down, though. This income will drop a ton over the next few months. I’ll try to make $200 per month over the winter. It should pick up in the spring.
Monthly Spending (target < $4,000/month)
For the rest of 2019, our monthly spending budget is $4,000/month. I decreased it from $5,000 per month. In November, we spent $5,728. That’s higher than normal due to the money I sent my parent. That account has a good balance now so I probably don’t need to send any more money for the rest of 2019. Next year, I’ll set up an auto deposit so it doesn’t disrupt our cash flow.
- Housing: $1,191. This category includes mortgage, home insurance, HOA fees, property taxes, utilities, home improvement, and furnishing. We finished refinancing and our monthly payment increased a bit.
- Groceries: $253. This was way below average because we went on vacation. Here are some of the food I made and the recipes!
Bajang is sticky rice and other Asian ingredients mixed together and steam. It’s great. You can see my recipe here – Bajang.
Cast iron pizza – this is an awesome recipe. If you have kids, they’ll love it. Actually, I used my carbon steel pan for this. But cast iron is easier to understand.
- Transportation: $101. I filled up once in November. I moved the auto insurance to this category too, $60.
- Parents: $2,482. I sent $2,400 to my parents last month and got 4 bottles of wine for my dad. My dad had some more health issues and couldn’t work much. Next year, I’ll budget about $800/month for this category.
- Kid: $11. I got a new shirt and a pack of Pokemon card for Junior.
- Pet: $76. Our cat got fleas! Oh man, it’s an ordeal at the RB40 household. We’ve been washing and vacuuming so much, it’s crazy. The treatment isn’t cheap either.
- Bills: $23. Life insurance.
- Health: $48. Mrs. RB40 went to see our optometrist.
- Travel: $600. We spent about $600 on food and souvenirs.
- Entertainment: $943. We ate out twice in November. I also ordered an XBOX and a new TV. I have been planning to upgrade our TV for a long time and I was waiting for the right opportunity. It’s a splurge, but we enjoy watching movies at home so I don’t mind spending a bit.
I don’t count these as personal spending.
- Taxes and deductions: $2,774.
- 401k savings: $2,980. I contributed $1,500 to my 401k. RB40 contributed $1,480 to hers.
- Roth IRAs: $1,000. We contributed $500 each to our Roth IRAs.
- 529 College Savings plan:
- Extra Savings: $1,926.
We saved $72,685 so far in 2019. Unfortunately, our current saving rate is 48%. It was over 50% for most of 2019, but our expenses were higher than expected in Q4. My parents needed some help and I sent them some money. Hopefully, I can bring it up to 50% by the end of the year.
- Joe’s 401k: $20,000.
- Mrs. RB40’s401k: $16,970
- Roth IRAs: $11,000
- 529 College Savings: $4,865
- Extra savings: $19,850
YTD 2019 saving rate = 50%
November 2019 Wrap Up
All in all, November was a good month. We had a great time on our vacation. Our net worth increased, thanks to the stock market. Our income streams were good on all front. Our expenses were higher than usual, but it really wasn’t that bad. I’m happy with it, but I’m also ready for 2020. I’ll budget a bit better so our cash flow will be smoother every month. Next year should be a good year for us. I’m looking forward to it.
How about you? Did you have a good month? Are you making progress on your New Year goals?
Source: Retire By 40
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