Browse Month: April 2018

Q1 2018 Financial Scorecard: Volatile Equity Market Takes Its Toll

Early RetirementWhen I think back on our finances for the first quarter of 2018, I have to quote Charles Dickens.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

The good times included getting paid my annual bonus for 2017, going on a great family trip to Walt Disney World, and, ultimately, making some modest progress on our Net Worth, 529 Account Funding, and Passive Income goals.

The bad times included paying for that vacation in Florida, missing on some of our short-term financial goals, and a volatile stock market that finally reminded us equity prices don’t always go up!

Although the S&P 500 Index was down only about 1% for the entire first quarter, the market had fallen nearly 10% from its January peak by the end of March.

Market volatility was at elevated levels during the first three months of the year. To put that volatility into perspective, consider this:

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) has been calculated since the late 19th century.

Two of the five largest daily point gains in the DJIA’s history occurred over the past three months.

And three of the five largest daily point losses in the DJIA’s history occurred during the first quarter of this year.

Fears of an all-out trade war with China have continued to spook investors in April, and it seems like we are always just one tweet away from a 500 point move in the market!

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Retire Early and Live Longer?!?!?!

Financial IndependenceIn February, I wrote a post about a recent Stanford University study that examined the trade-off between saving more money today and working longer tomorrow.

Last month, Steveark at Slightly Early Retirement took things to another level, writing an interesting post in which he asked Will Early Retirement Kill You?

While Steveark didn’t find a definitive answer to his question, he posits that a longer life – regardless of whether one has retired or is financially independent – might be driven by two things: taking care of one’s health and identifying one’s purpose.

As a Baby Boomer who has already retired early, he suggests that Gen Xers and Millennials pursuing financial independence and early retirement might want to spend some time thinking about what’s next once they achieve FIRE, in case his hypothesis that purpose is correlated with longevity is accurate.

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Solar Energy Update: Spring Kicks off with Stunning Productivity

Financial IndependenceSince we didn’t have solar panels installed on our roof until June of last year, we missed out on several months of strong solar production last spring. As a result, we ran out of credits to subsidize our electric bill over the winter in January.

Because of this, the reduction in our electric bills for both January and February were smaller than they hopefully will be in future years, when we’ll have a full bank of solar energy credits on the books heading into the winter.

Although we had no credits heading into March, our solar energy experiment still turned a major corner last month. With the production of our system increasing as the days got longer, we ended up with our smallest electric bill since December, and had our best day of production ever!

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