One month off!

I’d been looking forward to this extended vacation for a long time – really a sabbatical of sorts. Four weeks to completely unplug from work! So far, I’ve got to admit, it’s been pretty great. I’ve been spending time with some old friends in Switzerland and I’m fortunate that I’m able to stay at their house for over a week! It’s been a great chance to catch up with them and also experience the actual pace of life here. In a couple days, I’ll be moving on to the next phase of the vacaction which will involve traveling to Italy. I can’t even begin to describe how fortunate I am.

I’ve had some good opportunities to just think about things, but clarity is still elusive. Hopefully some things will slowly come together in my mind over the rest of this time though. I’m thinking about this experience as somewhat of a vision quest of sorts. I’m not sure if that’s what it actually is or will be, but certainly having lots of free time with little stress can be eye opening and allows one to really reflect on things.

The primary question is what to do when I return. Do I keep on going with my job? Do I make a move to another, similar job? Do I get a job doing something completely different? Or, do I just quit altogether? 

Who knows. In the meantime, the one thing I know with certainty is that, for me, Switzerland is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. 

Monthly Net Worth Update – August 2016 – $1,196,825

I feel like I’ve been hemorrhaging money all August. We finally made the move to refinance both our primary residence as well as our rental. This will save us lots of money in the long run, but there were some closing costs that we had to shell out some money for. On top of that, I had a big repair over at the condo I had to deal with. Finally, I’m planning a big trip, and so I’m spending a lot of money on plane tickets, hotels, etc. Many of these expenses will “hit the spreadsheet” in the coming months as the costs are offset for a little time due to using credit cards and such.

But – after wrapping up all the numbers for August, things are still looking OK. Our assets are up a good amount so that’s nice. Unfortunately our debts are up too. This is due to the refinancing and the way that process worked in taking out a slightly larger loan to cover most of the prepaids and other costs. I’ll break this down in a future post to show it all more clearly. In reality, the story isn’t so bad because we forgo paying mortgage for a month and we’ll get some escrow checks back from the old lenders that we can just push into the new loans.


My primary goal is to have the freedom to “retire”, or reach financial independence (FI) at age 40. As of this month, that is now just 19 months away!

I’m a big believer in completing monthly net worth updates as a way to stay on top of your financial situation and work towards your goals. Therefore – I share my monthly net worth updates here.


Here’s the latest net worth breakdown.

Total Net Worth this month came in at $1,196,825 – this is $15,993 more than last month. That’s seven months in a row now with some pretty significant gains. When will it stop? Who knows! I’ll take it for now – but I’m also parking more money in cash, anticipating a correction at some point. Of course – I’m also beginning to feel like I’ve been anticipating a correction for the last two years!

August 2016 –

2016.08 Net Worth


Net Worth Notes:

Assets:

Cash – Our cash position ticked up significantly this month. This is mostly due to no mortgage payments thanks to the refinancing. We’ll be putting this money into savings or into mortgage debt reduction in the next month or two. At any rate, the cash position remains strong and based on some recent concerns about the market and the overall health of our economy, I intend to keep it that way.  Yes, we  might miss out on some gains, but I like the idea of having some extra cash on hand right now. If the market drops we’ll be looking to deploy some reserves quickly.

Taxed Stock Account –  I recently reduced my monthly contribution here from $2k to $1.5K – believing that a little extra cash might be a good move right at this moment. It’s all set up as part of an automatic investment plan where the money is spread across 5 or 6 different index funds. Occasionally I change the mix based on performance of the various ETFs in the portfolio. Specifically, these are ETF Index funds with iShares and some Vanguard. I intend to continue funding this at this level (or more) for as long as possible. Also in this bucket is a small amount invested recently in a LendingClub account. (Read more about my experience with LendingClub so far here)

Retirement Accounts – This consists of my 401k, Trad IRA, Roth IRA, and HSA account, as well as Mrs. Freedom 40’s 403b, and two Roth IRAs. We maxed out the 401k/403b the last three years and will do so again this year. We make too much to directly contribute to a Roth. *** New this month – this now also includes Mrs. Freedom 40’s newly opened TSP account! *** It looks like she’ll be extending her current Army position for another year, so it made sense to open this. She’ll be plowing big chunks of her pay into this over the next few months to max it out by year end.

Rental Property – This is a 2BD/1BA across the street. We used to live there and rent it out now. Currently, this creates nearly $0 cash flow, but the tenants do pay the mortgage every month so over time, it will presumably (hopefully?) pay off. It can be a headache from time to time, but for now, we keep it. Ref 1. Ref 2. Ref 3.

Home Value – During the Refi process we had to get appraisals done for both of our properties. Our main home appraised $7k higher than I had, while the rental condo appraised for $10k less. I’ll use these estimates for the next several months. We have no plans of moving or selling either property in the near future, so in many ways, these values have limited meaning.

Other – This consists of two cars and some gold and silver coins.

Liabilities:

Home Mortgage – No mortgage payment this month thanks to the Refi! We did have to bring some cash to closing though, and the new loan amount is for a bit more than the old loan amount. We’ll address this by pushing the “missed mortgage payment” into this new loan and also the escrow refund from the old mortgage. We are now at 3.5%, which still strikes me as an amazingly great deal! Money is so cheap right now!  Again – I plan to write more on our recent refi experience soon.

Rental Mortgage –  This is also a bit higher but again, no mortgage payment here due to the refi. As with the primary residence, we’ll look to push that into the new loan soon.

Other Loans – This includes 2 Student loans Mrs. Freedom 40 has. Both are at 2.125%. It also includes Mrs. Freedom 40’s car loan at 0.9% and my car loan at a whopping 0.0%. We could pay all of these loans completely off  if we wanted too, but the rates are so low, I don’t think it makes any sense to do so. Instead, we’ll let our money do it’s work in the market and earn us more than what we’re paying for these.

Finally, here’s what our Net Worth looks like over the past 12 months. At the half way point of 2016 things are good, and frankly, better than I would have expected at the beginning of the year. I continue to think we’re due for a market downturn soon – but I’ve been thinking that for a couple years now, so clearly – I don’t know anything!

2016.08 - Net Worth Graph

Some other interesting notes about our net worth to share

YTD Gain/Loss = +$161,816

YTD Percentage Gain/Loss = +15.63%

12 Month Gain/Loss = +$233,068

12 Month Percentage Gain/Loss = +24.18%

Coming Closer to Quitting

ready-for-career-change

Mrs. Freedom 40 and I went out to dinner recently at our local Mexican joint. Mmmm tacos! During the meal our conversation turned to my upcoming sabbatical. This is a great benefit that I receive for having worked with my company for as long as I have, and for achieving the position I’m in. The sabbatical is for one entire month and is fully paid! Like I said, it’s a really ridiculous benefit.

It’s also something that has been hanging over my head for some time. What do I mean by this? Well, I qualified for the sabbatical over a year ago and I need to take it within three years of that time. Back in January I considered using it when I went to the Philippines, but we had already scheduled the trip and it was for quite a bit less time than a month. I didn’t want to just come home and hang out for a week or two, thus “wasting” some of my time off. So, it’s continued to be hanging out there as something that needs to be scheduled and used.

At the same time, over the last year there have been at least a few occasions where I’ve thought really hard about just calling it quits. Maybe to activate the Freedom 40 plan a bit early, or maybe to just go work for a company that is less demanding and will give me some new and interesting challenges. But – with my sabbatical in play, quitting would mean giving up four weeks of paid time off, you’d be crazy to leave that on the table.

With this is mind I’ve been eager to get this thing scheduled and approved. At the end of July I accomplished this. I’ll be on sabbatical from mid September to mid October, travelling in Europe. I’m still figuring out all the details, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be epic.

Shortly after I return, my annual bonus will be paid out. And with these two events occurring, there will not be much holding me to my current job. (…well, other than my nice salary, overall benefits package, etc, etc.)🙂

But I really am continuing to think more seriously about leaving, and this idea of leaving came up in my conversation with my wife. Naturally, she asked, “what will you do?”

She knows I have “crazy ideas” about retiring at 40, but we don’t really talk about it that much. She doesn’t read this blog or other blogs about financial independence. It’s just not her thing.

Her question was a fair one, and I began to answer it by truthfully saying, “I don’t know”.

I went on to explain a few different ideas in my head.

Maybe I’ll get another job in a similar field, but in a position that requires less hours. That would certainly be a good thing, and probably would result in only a small pay cut.

Maybe I could get another job in a completely different field. Lots of people change career paths at some point in their lives. Why couldn’t I do that too? I don’t know what I would choose, but I’d like to think that something different could bring some new and interesting challenges. If I were to take this path, my salary would probably drop significantly, but at least I’d still be making something.

Or maybe I could just quit and then figure it out. Ideally I’d love to spend a bunch of time travelling slowly around the U.S. and the world. This will be tough to do though as long as Mrs. Freedom 40 enjoys her job and remains employed…

Given more available time I think I’ve got lots of articles and probably even a book or two in me. Would I be able to monetize these things? Who knows – but we have enough now so that I could take the risk. I could also try to build a business either online or in the physical world. I have some ideas about what that might be, but nothing concrete. If I choose this direction – I’ll need to figure this out in a more specific way. As my wife appropriately commented at this point in the conversation, “You can’t just quit and then do nothing!” She’s right. I need to figure out what will be next before I quit.

What I do know however, is that I’ve been trying to convince myself for almost as long as I’ve had this job (10 years) that I enjoy it. In truth, there are many things about it I do enjoy, but also in truth, there are many things about it I have never enjoyed and those things are even worse now.

But quitting is hard. Going in an uncertain path is a bit scary. However, I’m beginning to feel more and more confident that I need to make a switch in one way or another. I don’t know exactly which option I’ll choose, but I’m tired of complaining about my job and then doing nothing to change my situation. Soon it’ll be time to shit or get off the pot.

 

 

The (Continued) Joys of Being a Landlord

faucet water

My renters recently let me know that the bathroom tub was dripping. Normally something like this would be a bit annoying, but it is doubly so in this case because I had it fixed about a year ago. I don’t know what’s going on here, but it seems strange that the repair would last only a year.

At any rate, it turned out to be a real hassle to schedule the plumber. Even though I offered to take time out of my work day to meet meet him and let him in, that didn’t work for them because they now have a dog and they were worried about it freaking out with strangers in the house. (It’s just a small terrier). I asked them if they could have the dog stay with a friend or go to doggy day care, but instead of doing that they pushed off the repair until a day they planned to be out of town. Annoying for me, but OK.

I took last Friday off from work to meet the plumber. They gave me a window of between 2 and 4, but he called around 2 saying he’d be there in 10-15 minutes. So far so good.

I met him at the apartment and he seemed like a nice and capable guy. To turn the water off in the apartment, you have to access the shut off valves via a crawlspace. Unfortunately this guy told me he couldn’t shut the water off because the company has some policy about not turning water off if it is a valve that affects multiple units. He gave me some line about breaking the valve too. I think he just didn’t want to crawl down there.

I’d run into this problem with other plumbers in the past, so I was prepared. I climbed down there with my flashlight and turned the water off myself.

Shortly after that the plumber proceeded with the work. Long story short, it’s an old building and some things were apparently not done right. This lead to a lot of cursing and a failure to fix the problem. The solution is to take about 10 tiles off so the innards of the thing can be accessed and redone. This will give me a new, modern shower faucet, and in my opinion is probably the way to go. Might as well try to do this job right and get a nicer shower that should last the long run. Unfortunately, they quoted me $1500 for the repair. Ouch!

I’ll be shopping around to see if I can get a better deal, but the whole thing is frustrating. Now I need to schedule another time for this more significant repair and already my tenant is being a pain about this because of their inability to find somewhere else for the stupid dog to be when I’m trying to schedule maintenance.

It’s in moments like these I question this landlord thing. But, on the plus side the repair will be tax deductible and I guess they are paying my mortgage after all…

One good thing that this does highlight for me is that I think most people would be absolutely floored by an unexpected expense of $1500, and many would be in a really tough spot to come up with that kind of money. Fortunately – thanks to my emergency fund (savings) this remains a major pain in the rear, but is manageable. There is some stress, but it would be much worse if I didn’t have the money saved to deal with things like this.

Still – what a pain this landlord stuff can be sometimes!

 

 

Monthly Net Worth Update – July 2016 – $1,180,832

Well, the big $493M dollar PowerBall jackpot came and went and I’m afraid to say I didn’t win. (I did actually play – just for a little dreaming really). Even without lottery winnings though, we continue the slow steady climb. I got a raise this month and that led to some additional savings. Our aggressive savings strategies and our regular investments in index funds are paying off. All those “Brexit buys” I made at the end of June worked out pretty well too! In fact, stocks across the board did very well in July. It’s a weird environment out there. Investors are looking for safety, and thus the yield on the 10 Year T note is at record lows – providing some great refi opportunities for us! At the same time, people are putting money into stocks looking for better returns than the super meager interest rates available elsewhere and so our portfolio grows. At some point – something has to change here right? Until then – we’re enjoying all the green ink on the page!


My primary goal is to have the freedom to “retire”, or reach financial independence (FI) at age 40. As of this month, that is now just 20 months away! Damn I’m getting old!

I’m a big believer in completing monthly net worth updates as a way to stay on top of your financial situation and work towards your goals. Therefore – I share my monthly net worth updates here.


Here’s the latest net worth breakdown.

Total Net Worth this month came in at $1,180,832 – this is $35,238 more than last month. That’s six months in a row now with some pretty significant gains. When will it stop? Who knows! I’ll take it for now – but I’m also parking more money in cash, anticipating a correction at some point. Of course – I’m also beginning to feel like I’ve been anticipating a correction for the last two years!

July 2016 –

2016.07 Net Worth


Net Worth Notes:

Assets:

Cash – Our cash position remains strong and based on some recent concerns about the market and the overall health of our economy, I intend to keep it that way.  Yes, we  might miss out on some gains, but I like the idea of having some extra cash on hand right now. If the market drops we’ll be looking to deploy some reserves quickly. Despite my increased savings due to my raise – this month our cash is down a bit due to two reasons – one – a generous wedding gift to a close friend of mine, and two – closing costs on a refi (more on that sometime in the near future)

Taxed Stock Account –  I recently reduced my monthly contribution here from $2k to $1.5K – believing that a little extra cash might be a good move right at this moment. It’s all set up as part of an automatic investment plan where the money is spread across 5 or 6 different index funds. Occasionally I change the mix based on performance of the various ETFs in the portfolio. Specifically, these are ETF Index funds with iShares and some Vanguard. I intend to continue funding this at this level (or more) for as long as possible. Also in this bucket is a small amount invested recently in a LendingClub account. (Read more about my experience with LendingClub so far here)

Retirement Accounts – This consists of my 401k, Trad IRA, Roth IRA, and HSA account, as well as Mrs. Freedom 40’s 403b, and two Roth IRAs. We maxed out the 401k/403b the last three years and will do so again this year. We make too much to directly contribute to a Roth.

Rental Property – This is a 2BD/1BA across the street. We used to live there and rent it out now. Currently, this creates nearly $0 cash flow, but the tenants do pay the mortgage every month so over time, it will presumably (hopefully?) pay off. It can be a headache from time to time, but for now, we keep it. Ref 1. Ref 2. Ref 3.

Home Value – Based on some recent sales of similar “comps” and some research on Trulia. This seems like a fair and possibly conservative estimate. We have no plans of moving in the near future. If we do, there is a strong possibility that this will become a rental property.

Other – This consists of two cars and some gold and silver coins.

Liabilities:

Home Mortgage – This just keeps going down a bit each month as we make our regular automatic payments. We are currently putting an extra $500/month towards principal reduction on this mortgage. We are finally toke actual action on refi opportunities here and our procrastination actually worked out this time. We are now at 3.5%, which is just insanely low! We’re going to be saving about $300 a month in the future thanks to this refi. I’ll share more on that soon…

Rental Mortgage –  Pretty much the same deal here as our home mortgage. Keeps going down a bit each month. While we’re not making much (if any) money on the rental now, here we can see we are getting a benefit from our tenants paying our mortgage. We’re also taking steps on this to refi right now but have experienced a few delays. By the end of August we should be done though and hopefully saving about $200 a month there!

Other Loans – This includes 2 Student loans Mrs. Freedom 40 has. Both are at 2.125%. It also includes Mrs. Freedom 40’s car loan at 0.9% and my car loan at a whopping 0.0%. We could pay all of these loans completely off  if we wanted too, but the rates are so low, I don’t think it makes any sense to do so. Instead, we’ll let our money do it’s work in the market and earn us more than what we’re paying for these.

Finally, here’s what our Net Worth looks like over the past 12 months. At the half way point of 2016 things are good, and frankly, better than I would have expected at the beginning of the year. I continue to think we’re due for a market downturn soon – but I’ve been thinking that for a couple years now, so clearly – I don’t know anything!

2016.07 - Net Worth Graph

Some other interesting notes about our net worth to share

YTD Gain/Loss = +$145,823

YTD Percentage Gain/Loss = +14.09%

12 Month Gain/Loss = +$179,583

12 Month Percentage Gain/Loss = +17.94%

What should I do with my Raise?

I’m sure the title of this post is a question that many people ask themselves whenever they are fortunate enough to get a pay raise. Depending on the size of the raise – I imagine for many the conversation focuses around some combination of the following:

  • Let’s go out to a fancy restaurant to celebrate!
  • Let’s go to the bar to celebrate!
  • Let’s use this new money to go out and buy a new car! Or a new phone, or a new TV, or a new game system, or whatever fun toy is out there!
  • Now that I make more money – let’s go buy a bigger house!

Others may not be as quickly caught up in such proclivities, but rather they keep going about their business – except now maybe they decide to go out a little more at lunch time, get that $5 latte at starbucks, or splurge on some nice new clothes. They let lifestyle inflation sneak in, and soon enough the additional money that is coming in every month – is going out the door just as quickly.

I’m certainly not immune to a little lifestyle inflation, but for me, I’m much more focused on financial freedom, and you can bet I’ll be taking some very deliberate steps to save my new increased salary. In fact – I’ve done this very same activity for at least the last 5 raises I’ve gotten, and probably even before that.

Today is the 15th of the month and with it – I received my first paycheck that reflects my new salary. I did a quick analysis comparing it to my last paycheck (with old salary) and saw that I am now getting $178 more every paycheck (net salary). Multiply this number by 2 paychecks per month and I get to $356 in additional after tax salary.

Now that I know how much extra I’m getting each month – the next step is to simply set up another automatic transfer from my checking account to my savings account (or increase the existing automatic transfer). I’ve decided to do this for $350 a month – leaving a whole $6 a month for lifestyle inflation! Woot woot! What will that get me?

For some, maybe this sounds like I’m denying myself – but I assure you, I’m more than happy with what I’ve got already, and stashing this money away into savings (or investments) will make me happier than any purchase I can think of. The reason? Because as a financial freedom fighter, I know that this regular, automatic savings will build up over time and put me in a better position to walk away from the grind of the 9 to 5. And that at the end is the thing that is most important to me right now. Way more important than buying a new car, or getting some new toys, or whatever else I might do with this money.

 

 

Monthly Net Worth Update – June 2016 – $1,145,594

I’ve gotta say – I was REALLY surprised when I pulled all the number’s together for this month’s net worth update. With all the Brexit turmoil – I really thought that things would be way down. Thanks to the rebound over the last few days of the month though, things are looking good! We had some good gains in our investments, our savings are up a bit, and we’re continuing to push down our debt.


My primary goal is to have the freedom to “retire”, or reach financial independence (FI) at age 40. As of this month, that is now just 22 21 months away!

I’m a big believer in completing monthly net worth updates as a way to stay on top of your financial situation and work towards your goals. Therefore – I share my monthly net worth updates here.


Here’s the latest net worth breakdown.

Total Net Worth this month came in at $1,145,594 – this is $23,362 more than last month. That’s five months in a row now with some pretty significant gains.

June 2016 –

2016.06 Net Worth


Net Worth Notes:

Assets:

Cash – Our cash position remains strong and based on some recent concerns about the market and the overall health of our economy, I intend to keep it that way.  Yes, we  might miss out on some gains, but I like the idea of having some extra cash on hand right now. If the market drops we’ll be looking to deploy some reserves quickly. This month I did move $4k from savings to an investment account, but for now it is just sitting there in cash – waiting…

Taxed Stock Account –  I recently reduced my monthly contribution here from $2k to $1.5K – believing that a little extra cash might be a good move right at this moment. It’s all set up as part of an automatic investment plan where the money is spread across 5 or 6 different index funds. Occasionally I change the mix based on performance of the various ETFs in the portfolio. Specifically, these are ETF Index funds with iShares and some Vanguard. I intend to continue funding this at this level (or more) for as long as possible. Also in this bucket is a small amount invested recently in a LendingClub account. (Read more about my experience with LendingClub so far here)

Retirement Accounts – This consists of my 401k, Trad IRA, Roth IRA, and HSA account, as well as Mrs. Freedom 40’s 403b, and two Roth IRAs. We maxed out the 401k/403b the last three years and will do so again this year. We make too much to directly contribute to a Roth.

Rental Property – This is a 2BD/1BA across the street. We used to live there and rent it out now. Currently, this creates nearly $0 cash flow, but the tenants do pay the mortgage every month so over time, it will presumably (hopefully?) pay off. It can be a headache from time to time, but for now, we keep it. Ref 1. Ref 2. Ref 3.

Home Value – Based on some recent sales of similar “comps” and some research on Trulia. This seems like a fair and possibly conservative estimate. We have no plans of moving in the near future. If we do, there is a strong possibility that this will become a rental property.

Other – This consists of two cars and some gold and silver coins.

Liabilities:

Home Mortgage – This just keeps going down a bit each month as we make our regular automatic payments. We are currently putting an extra $500/month towards principal reduction on this mortgage. We are finally taking some actual action on some refi opportunities here and it looks like our procrastination might have actually worked out this time. More on that soon…

Rental Mortgage –  Pretty much the same deal here as our home mortgage. Keeps going down a bit each month. While we’re not making much (if any) money on the rental now, here we can see we are getting a benefit from our tenants paying our mortgage. We’re also taking steps on this to refi soon.

Other Loans – This includes 2 Student loans Mrs. Freedom 40 has. Both are at 2.125%. It also includes Mrs. Freedom 40’s car loan at 0.9% and my car loan at a whopping 0.0%. We could pay all of these loans completely off  if we wanted too, but the rates are so low, I don’t think it makes any sense to do so. Instead, we’ll let our money do it’s work in the market and earn us more than what we’re paying for these.

Finally, here’s what our Net Worth looks like over the past 12 months. At the half way point of 2016 things are good, and frankly, better than I would have expected at the beginning of the year. I continue to think we’re due for a market downturn soon – but I’ve been thinking that for a couple years now, so clearly – I don’t know anything!

2016.06 - Net Worth Graph

Some other interesting notes about our net worth to share

YTD Gain/Loss = +$110,585

YTD Percentage Gain/Loss = +10.68%

12 Month Gain/Loss = +$152,807

12 Month Percentage Gain/Loss = +15.39%

Stock Diary – VZ

615462889_4a22191cbb_z

I recently sold a bunch of shares of Verizon (VZ) stock that I had been holding onto for some time. I thought it might be fun to let people in on my thought process with this particular stock and show how the decision worked out for me.

After selling some other stock in my Roth IRA account, I was looking for a place to invest some money back in 2013.

I bought 200 shares of VZ in early May of 2013 primarily for one reason. It was paying a dividend yield of over 5% and I was looking for a solid long term investment that would pay out regular dividends at a nice rate. Owning an individual stock presents some additional risk for sure, but I figured VZ was a pretty safe bet based on the fact that the company is very large and there’s not much chance of people stopping use of their services any time soon. (As you can see – this was a really hardcore technical analysis!)

Over the course of the next month – the stock dropped by over $4 a share. But, instead of freaking out and selling this “loser” – I held on, and actually doubled down, buying another 200 shares.

From that point out, I just sat and waited. My 400 shares yielded a nice quarterly dividend and these proceeds were automatically used to purchase more shares of VZ through a DRIP program. By the time 3 years had passed by, I owned 452+ shares. Those 52 additional shares were all purchased with dividend payments and amounted to $2,824.64 in proceeds! 

The share value of VZ varied quite a bit over the three years I held it, and rarely got above my top buy price until recently. I happened to be checking in on things and saw that the stock was trading near a five year high.

I was a little torn about what to do, as I’d grown to really love seeing this investment produce such great dividends, but I ended up deciding to sell it, and here’s why.

I’m trying to get away from investing in single stocks and therefore reduce my risk a little. With nearly $25k invested in this one stock, I was putting a sizable portion of money at risk in a single company that could potentially fail or come across hard times and leave me with little or nothing. Diverting this money to an index investment like VTI seemed like the way to go. Also, at a five year high seemed like a really good time to sell this stock and look for opportunities to use the proceeds somewhere where I could potentially find some additional value.

So, that’s what I did. On 6/23/2016 – just over 3 years later – I sold all of my holdings in VZ at $54.32 a share. This netted me $1,841.40 in profit, on top of the $2,824.64 in dividend payments over that time period- for a total profit of $4,666.04.

VZ - History

Interestingly enough – the very next day Brexit happened and I was able to take advantage of some great low prices across a number of index funds with the proceeds from this sale.

Hopefully it all works out in the long run!

 

Brexit Stock Buys

27772865252_6a229a2f76_z

Wow. After struggling for a few weeks about what to write about, it seems like all of a sudden there are a plethora of topics. Where to begin!

On Thursday the markets were way up and I almost wrote a post about how my investment portfolio was up over $30,000 in one single day! Good thing I didn’t, because with the news of Brexit actually happening, the markets all freaked out on Friday and were waaaaaay down! With roughly a 3.5% pull back for the S&P 500, and losses even doubling that in many international and European weighted funds – pretty much anyone with money in the markets got clobbered. Nearly all my holdings were way down yesterday, but it was especially significant for the IXUS, IEFA, IEMG, and other similar ones. Right now, it looks like I lost over $40,000 in invested funds, and it was likely more.

Am I freaking out though? Absolutely not! Sure, in some ways it sucks, but in other ways it’s nothing more than a lot of noise in the system. It’s not like I’m planning on needing any of my invested money any time soon. I’m not selling my long term index investments for probably quite some time. So why panic?

In fact, I’ve had some cash sitting on the sidelines for some time now and on Thursday I sold a long term position in a  single stock, Verizon (VZ), that I had been holding for a few years. I was a little torn about selling it, but I’m trying to put more of my money to work in broader index funds, rather than individual stocks, so it seemed like it was the right move. This gave me even more cash on hand.

Now, trying to time the market is generally considered to be a bad move, and I’d mostly agree. But, when I see many index funds that I current hold drop by 6, 7, and 8% in a single trading day, it also looks like a great buying opportunity to me! I’m not planning to sell anything I purchased for a long long time, so in some ways this may just be feeding into my emotional desires to “get a good deal”. At any rate, for those financial voyeurs out there, here’s exactly what I bought yesterday afternoon about an hour before the closing bell.

110 VTI (down 3.65% on the day) – Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Fund – (also known as VTSAX) This is like buying the whole U.S. stock market and is a favorite of many financial bloggers out there like JL Collins (congrats on the new book!), the Mad Fientist, and many, many more!

75 VWO (down 5.66% on day) – Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets – As the title suggests, a fund that consists of a collection of companies in emerging markets.

100 IEFA (down 8.62% on the day) – iShares Core MSCI EAFE ETF – A fund that consists of a collection of international stocks in developed markets in Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Far East.

100 IXUS (down 7.34% on day) – iShares Total International Stock ETF – A fund that tracks a broad range of companies outside the U.S. in both international and emerging markets.

 

So there it is. Some pretty significant buys all in one day. Who knows what will happen in the short term, but I think in the long run I’ll be happy with all of these – and they’ll all be good contributors to my overall investment portfolio.

What do you think – good buys? Stupid to even attempt to time the market in the manner? Does it really matter if I’m not selling these things for many years? How are you all dealing with this recent market volatility?

 

Feeling Closer to Pulling the FIRE Cord

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The last couple of weeks at work have been a bit difficult. I work for a consulting firm, and we recently learned that we lost a large piece of work during a re-compete process. This type of thing happens in my business, and fortunately I work for a large company that won’t be laying anyone off – rather we’ll look to redeploy people onto other projects elsewhere. Still – it’s never fun to lose.

This one is tough too because we had really built up a good team over the past few years and the work we were supporting was really interesting. On top of that, the client was good to work with, and the commute was reasonable. This convergence of so many positive factors rarely occurs!

Before we found out the outcome – I had mixed feelings about whether or not I really wanted to win or if I’d be OK if we lost. I think I rationalized that I’d be OK with either scenario, but I recognized a win would put me on a path of a lot more work. I thought that might be OK because it would hopefully be interesting and somehow reinvigorate me and my interest in what I do. If we lost on the other hand, I saw that it might be a good opportunity to plunge myself forward into something very new, potentially at my current work by taking on a different role, or potentially elsewhere by making a move to another line of work. A third and final option would be to pull the cord on FIRE.

Now that we have the news in hand, I’m a little surprised that I feel more disappointed about it than I thought I would. That said, I’m not as upset about it as many others I work with, and this is probably in large part due to the fact that I know I have the freedom to make some pretty big changes in my life and still be financially OK.

I’m not really looking to climb the corporate ladder any further, so this loss doesn’t affect me much there. Meanwhile for others that I work with, this will likely mean waiting years longer for that next promotion. I also feel that I’m in a position to go to my current leadership and ask for a completely new opportunity. Why not? What’s the worst that can happen? If they don’t support me in making a change within the company, I’ll leave. If I leave, I’m confident I can find a very good job in my field. This is a great luxury that I know many others don’t have. If it does end up taking more time than I think it will to find a new job, that’s OK too – it’s not like I’m living from paycheck to paycheck. I’ve got lots saved up in my “rainy day fund” to get me through several months if not years.

And that very knowledge there is what has me flirting with the idea of just taking the leap and trying this FI thing on for size right now! It’s quite a bit earlier than I had originally planned, but it’s not unreasonable to think I can’t do it right now. If I get bored, I can always go find a job. Heck – I’m pretty sure my current employer would have little problem hiring me back as long as I don’t burn any bridges on the way out the door. I’ve proven myself over many years and thus I’m a known quantity to them. Most other new hire candidates are big risks.

So, we’ll see how things play out. I have a number of reasons to stay for at least a few months (annual bonus and some other perks coming due), but once I get those goodies in my hand, I may really need to think long and hard about just quitting and seeing what else might be out there for me!