Money

November 2022 Early Retirement Update

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Last month flew by! First off, my apologies for a very late monthly update. We just got back from a little adventure in Europe and on the high seas. We spent a week traipsing around the Lisbon and coastal areas of Portugal.  Then we sailed west on a 9 day transatlantic cruise back to the US of A. Another busy month for us!

With the kids out of school, we’ll be able to enjoy a slow couple of weeks before 2023 kicks into high gear in January. I’m very grateful for the slower pace of life around the holidays. It is the time to hang out with family and friends, enjoy some good food, and maybe see a little snow if we are lucky! 

Financially, November was a great month for us. Our net worth shot up by $161,000 to end the month at $2,718,000. Our income was modest at $2,673. However income was still slightly higher than our even more modest spending of $2,586 during November.

Let’s jump into the details from last month.

Income

Investment income totaled $463 in November. Our equity index funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December. As a result, we had only a small amount of investment income last month. Here’s more on our dividend investments.

Blog income totaled $634 for the month. This monthly total is lower than previous years but I don’t post as much. And the advertising revenues have generally been soft for everyone this year. 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $405 in November. The consulting income represents 2.5 hours of consulting time. I am glad the pace of my consulting side hustle slowed down while we are traveling a lot.  

Tradeline sales income totaled $250 in November. This source of revenue seems to be soft right now as well. I ramped up my tradeline sales in 2020 and discussed it in a bit more detail in my October 2020 monthly post and in my July 2021 monthly post

For November, my “deposit income” totaled $189. Of this total, $112 of the “deposit income” comes from cash back and incentive bonuses from the Rakuten.com and Mrrebates.com online shopping portals (some of which was earned from you readers signing up through these links). 

If you sign up for Rakuten through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Rakuten, you’ll get a $10 sign up bonus

We also received a his-and-hers pair of class action settlement payments in November. Plaid wronged us and plaid the price of $71 in total for their malfeasance. Justice is ours!

The remaining $5 of “deposit income” came from a $5 bonus from one of my credit cards for opting into paperless statements. 

November Youtube income increased to $197. Youtube only pays out when you exceed $100 in accumulated revenue. Recently, my Youtube earnings have been just under $100 per month on average, so I’ll be getting paid a bit under $200 every two months.

Here is the Youtube channel for the curious. It’s random travel videos, birds, kids, and a couple of DIY videos. There are only a few main videos that bring in most of the traffic (and revenue!).

Closing out the income from November: a total of $533 of bank and credit card bonuses. We received $100 in hotel reimbursements from a pair of Chase Sapphire Preferred cards before upgrading one and downgrading the other card. Another card paid out $33 in cash back for some recent promotions. And the final $400 in bonuses came from a US Bank business checking sign up bonus. 

If you’re interested in tracking your income and expenses like I do, then check out Personal Capital (it’s free!). All of our savings and spending accounts (including checking, money market, and five credit cards) are all linked and updated in real time through Personal Capital. We have accounts all over the place, and Personal Capital makes it really easy to check on everything at one time.

Personal Capital is also a solid tool for investment management. Keeping track of our entire investment portfolio takes two clicks. If you haven’t signed up for the free Personal Capital service, check it out today (review here).

Tracking spending was one of the critical steps I took that allowed me to retire at 33. And it’s now easier than ever with Personal Capital.

Expenses

Now let’s take a look at November expenses:


 

In total, we spent $2,586 during November which is about $700 less than our regularly budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year). Groceries and insurance were the two highest categories of spending in November. 

Detailed breakdown of spending:

Groceries – $647:

We were home for almost the whole month of November, so our grocery spending was fairly normal. In fact, we stocked the fridge and freezer a little extra since we had my parents staying at our house with our kids (while we traveled the world). 

Inflation feels rough every time we see the higher prices at the grocery store but it’s not quite as bad when we see the totals here only $100-200 more than the pre-2020 grocery spending levels. 

Our son cooking fried rice for dinner.
Thanksgiving lunch with family. Mmmmm!!

Insurance – $639:

We spent $639 for six months of auto insurance for two adults and one teen driver. That’s not too bad I think. Adding our teenage driver onto the policy only increased the premiums by about $400 every six months.

A nice side benefit is that our teen driver can taxi around our other kids while we are out of town! 

Electronics – $569:

We upgraded Mrs. Root of Good’s old Pixel 3 phone to a Pixel 7 Pro for $560 during a Black Friday promotion.

Part of the deal was a $103 credit when we trade in her old Pixel 3. However we didn’t get the $103 credit because her old Pixel was an international version instead of a US version, so we got nothing other than a returned Pixel 3. Still a great deal at $560 for a brand new flagship phone that she can take pretty pictures with. 

We also spent $8 on some random computer adapter for a graphics tablet. 

Utilities – $266:

The total utility spending was $266 last month.

We spent $148 for the water/sewer/trash bill.

The natural gas bill, which provides heating and hot water, totaled $42 for last month. This bill covers mostly the month of October which doesn’t get that cold here. The December bill will be a bit higher and January’s bill might even break $200 if it gets cold! 

The electric bill totaled $78 last month. 

Travel – $99:

We had already paid for most of our week in Portugal and our cruise, so the travel spending in November was very mild. 

We had a layover in London Heathrow where we hit the airport lounge for some breakfast/lunch and a flat white coffee.

Since we were traveling off season, the lodging rates in Portugal were ridiculously low. We paid $87 total for three nights in a 1 bedroom apartment in Nazare. It was admittedly a tiny apartment, but very functional for our 3 day stay. And it came with a nice rooftop terrace. 

The only other travel spending in November was $12 for transit passes for the two of us in Lisbon. This covered 2 subway rides and an hour-long train ride from Lisbon to Sintra. 

The street where we stayed in Sintra, Portugal for three nights. Our $55 per night attic apartment is in the building on the left. We were fortunate to see the Christmas lights all along the street at night.

We did have several other transit, uber, and lodging expenses but they were reimbursed from our Chase Sapphire Reserve card’s $300 annual travel reimbursement benefit. Since most of our vacation occurred during the month of December, there will be more travel expenses for this trip in next month’s update. And a ton more pics from our trip too! 

If you are interested in getting free travel from your credit card like I do, consider the Chase Ink Unlimited or Chase Ink Cash business cards (my referral link). Right now the Chase Ink business cards offer 90,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points that can be redeemed instantly for $900 in cash. And if you have a Chase Sapphire Preferred or Chase Sapphire Reserve card, those 90,000 Ultimate Rewards points are worth $1,125 or $1,350 (respectively) towards Airbnb or other travel reservations. This is the highest offer ever on the Chase Ink Unlimited/Cash cards and may not last too much longer. Mrs. Root of Good just received her new Chase Ink Unlimited card and I’ll be getting one for myself very soon too. 

Chase is pretty liberal when it comes to “what is a business”. If you sell stuff on eBay or Craigslist or do some odd jobs occasionally then you have a business and could get a credit card as a “sole proprietor”. 

We found a delicious cafe right across the street from our Airbnb. A steak and egg lunch with prosciutto and fries on the side and a burger and fries, plus tip, was only $15 for the two of us. The food was delicious!

Education – $93:

I can confirm that kids get a little more expensive during their teen years. We spent $52 for high school graduation fees for our middle child. And $15 to pay for AP score reports to be sent over to the oldest child’s college. 

The remaining $26 covers all the field trips for our youngest child in elementary school. 

Gas – $78:

That’s about a tank and a half of gas. Our daughter is in college and driving the car a lot more than we do. We should be good on gas until January though.

Healthcare/Medical/Dental – $77:

Our current 2022 health insurance is completely free thanks to very generous Affordable Care Act subsidies that we receive due to our low ~$45,000 per year Adjusted Gross Income. 

However, we selected a slightly more expensive plan for 2023 that costs $18 per month, with the first $18 premium paid in November. The gimmick is that they offer $1,000 per year in cash back incentives if you click on a couple random things on their website approximately once per week. The net effect is that we are once again getting paid to accept high quality health insurance. 

For the adults in the household, we spend $20 per month ($240 per year) in 2022 for a dental insurance plan for each of us (or $40 per month in total). Our routine dental exams and cleanings with the occasional x-ray have increased in price recently. The cost is now $125 (no x-ray) or $170 (with x-ray). 

With two routine visits per year, we will spend almost $300 per person. A $240 insurance plan provides those same services for free. And we get some minimal level of insurance if one of us needs a filling during the year. 

We just signed up for 2023 dental insurance plans and paid one premium in November. I chose a very basic plan for $9 per month for me that covers most preventive care but no fillings. Mrs. Root of Good has a different set of dental needs than I do so we kept the more comprehensive $20 per month plan for her (same as 2022’s plan).

By buying insurance, we should save a couple hundred dollars on my dental care. For Mrs. Root of Good, we will still save a few dollars compared to paying cash for the preventive dentist visits throughout the year.

Restaurants – $64:

We went out to eat at a neighborhood restaurant for $64. 

Clothing/Shoes – $47:

Clothing spending was about $100 but we had some gift cards to cover all but $47 of the purchase. 

Gifts – $11:

A couple of Christmas gifts for $11. Other gifts get mixed in with “grocery” or “general merchandise” spending categories. We buy a lot of stuff from Walmart and Amazon and I don’t always split out the specific purchases to their own categories (oops).

Cable/Satellite/Internet – $0:

We generally pay $18 per month for a local reduced rate package due to having a lower income and having kids. 30 mbit/s download, 4 mbit/s upload. Right now the cost of the internet service is temporarily reduced to $0 due to the “Affordable Connectivity Program”. 

The last grass mowing of the season before the cold sets in!

Total Year-To-Date Spending for 2022

Our spending totaled $28,179 for the first 11 months of 2022. This is over $8,000 less than the $36,667 we budgeted for 11 months of spending in our $40,000 annual early retirement budget.

It’s pretty amazing that almost half of our 2022 living expenses went to the vacation budget. I guess that shows the advantage of a low cost baseline lifestyle. A paid off house and paid off car means our monthly outgoing expenses are miniscule some months. 

The only big spending we have coming up is a new (used) car purchase hopefully sometime in 2023. We’ve been making do with one car for the family all fall and it’s mostly worked out well with just a couple of schedule overlaps. 

Used car prices seem to have dropped slightly over the past six months. I am actually seeing decent beaters for under $10,000 now! Maybe we will be able to get a new (used) car soon. 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2022:

Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:

We had some fresh persimmons from grandma’s tree that went bad. So we turned them into bird food for this handsome red bellied woodpecker in the backyard.

Net Worth: $2,718,000 (+$161,000)

November was another great month in the stock market. Our net worth shot up $161,000 to end the month at $2,718,000. This is on top of six figure gains in October as well. 

During December we have seen a little dip in net worth due to stock market drops (and a small downward adjustment in my home value!). Apparently a recession is coming, or a recession was already here or maybe we are in a recession right now. I’m not an economist so I cannot tell you if we are in one. 

It still doesn’t feel like a recession. I see our Walmart packed with Christmas shoppers. The parking lot is busier than I’ve ever seen it before. But is that a shift in shopper behavior from more expensive stores to Walmart? 

And then on the drive home from Walmart I see a new homeless camp pop up in the woods. I suppose those folks are experiencing a very strong personal recession. Data points lost to the aggregation of economic data.

Where are we economically? Who knows.

For the curious, our net worth reported above includes our home value (which is fully paid off). However, please note that I don’t consider my home value as part of my portfolio for “4% rule” calculation purposes. I realize folks ask me about that every month so I just wanted to state that here for clarity.

Life update

November was once again a busy month. And to think that some people worry about getting bored in retirement! 

I am looking forward to a slow couple of weeks before we set out on our next adventure in the Caribbean in January. I have a lot of end of year bookkeeping and tax strategizing to do before December 31st, so wish me luck. 

When we went out of town, everything was glowing yellow, orange and red. We come home less than three weeks later and you can tell it’s winter!

Looking forward, we will shift the focus of our travel planning toward our big summer trip to South America in summer of 2023. So far we have flights to Argentina in mid-June and a rough idea for a few places to visit down there. How we are getting back home remains a mystery. But that’s part of the fun, right? 

Okay, enough pontificating from me. I’ll wrap up this month’s update at this point so I can finally hit the “publish” button before January rolls around. 

I want to wish everyone a merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, and/or whatever else you and your family celebrate at this time of year. And a happy and prosperous new year! 

See you next month! 

Winter is here! Ready for the cold weather, hot chocolate, and short winter days?

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Celebrating our best lives at fifty and beyond! 50ismorefun brings you motivational news and stories centered around life, fitness, fashion, money, travel and health for active folks enjoying the second half of lives.