How things turn and flatter – the lows in March to new heights, and the recent corrections thats rendered an almost flat YTD growth. We can make guesses to why these happen but if you ignored the noise and kept dollar-cost-averaging, you’d still be on the up.
That’s been our story since we pursued FI in 2016. We buy the market with a portion of every paycheck. We place our faith in the US economy, and grind on.
We are firm on the few things we can control.
We don’t keep a budget, but track our expenses. Housing and daycare aside, our other expenses at ~$23K YTD would suggest we’re frugal. We are not. We do not deny ourselves anything for the sake of saving. But there aren’t many things one really needs once the basics are covered.
Some things, I think make no sense.
Like owing two cars when one could do. We’ve owned a Honda fit since 2011. She’s driven us 90k miles and easily has 90 more to take us. That’s ten more years at our current pace. All our friends have two or more car – usually a sedan and an SUV. That’s twice the payment, twice the insurance, and twice of everything.
Not that I’ve not wanted an SUV. In fact, I’ve always wanted one. I can imagine driving my daughter to school and to all her activities in one. I can imagine family trips. Our daughter is too young for trips right now, and a few years would be just the right time to begin. And to get that CRV.
I’ve always wanted a higher vantage point.
The same goes for housing. I’ve always believed in living close to work, but don’t see why we have to anymore. With the option to work from home and with job security being less of a concern the closer we get to FI, a move to a bit more openness for our daughter to run and play in is in our 3 year realm. We want a single family home in the suburbs when our daughter starts school. She’ll need her space, and we do as well.
The plan, once we’re FI, is keep the FI dollars at work, and take more fulfilling jobs to cover our expenses. The focus will shift to family and personal development.
One of my dreams is to have a small backyard office/space/retreat where I could read, watch games, write poor poetry, and contemplate.
FI makes these a distinct possibility. And in a few years, I hope.
So what did we do in quarter 3?
We refinanced, to 2.74% from 4.25%, to 20 years from 30 and our payment is a $100 less. We have decided not to make extra payments. Given the low rate, it makes more sense for our dollars to work elsewhere.
We maxed our 401Ks this quarter. We maxed our Roth IRA last quarter. We’ll now funnel our savings into our taxable non-retirement account, splitting between VTSAX, VBTLX and cash.
Our allocation remains aggressive at about 84% stocks, invested in S&P 500 tracking index funds, primarily VTSAX. We hold very small positions in VYM, VGT and VBTLX.
We have a healthy six month emergency fund parked in VMMXX. The yield is abysmal, and we could do better with a little research.
YTD, we trail the S&P 500 because our allocation includes our other positions – mainly our emergency fund. Take those out, and we’d be in line with the index.
On the non-financial side, we’ve hardly had any personal time since our daughter was born.
Between my wife and I, one of us is either working or taking care of our daughter at any given time. I look after her when my wife works – nights and weekends. My wife sees to her when she’s not working (and I am). We still need to send her to daycare for 2-3 days a week.
I miss the hours I used to have, when I read blogs, watched YouTube to learn and enhance my skills. I became smarter and a better worker. My progress has plateaued this year given how little time I’m able to give to this aspect of my personal growth. It has been a source of some bother and I’ve decided to be ‘selfish’ to rectify this.
I’ve always given more than 40 hours to my work and set unreasonable expectations. I get paid for only the 40, and the extra hours have not resulted in more pay, just more work. As such, I’ve decided to give the extra hours I used to give my work to myself.
That said, I am grateful and happy to have a job I enjoy. I could be making more, but between my wife and I, we make enough to make FI possible in 5 to 10 years. And when that comes, I want to move on to other works and projects.