Last month, I wrote a series of articles about our decision to purchase a home solar energy system, and my belief it will ultimately help us on our path towards financial independence and early retirement.
Today, in an effort to share some additional information on the topic, I want to identify some of the potential hidden costs to going solar I found useful to consider, even though they didn’t show up in the quote from our local solar energy company or most of the research I did on my own.
Today, we’ll open the curtain into our finances for the first time, and share where we stand in relation to our Net Worth, 529 Account Funding, and Passive Income goals as of June 30, 2017 – just four years before our target FIRE date of Friday, July 2, 2021.
I. Net Worth: 73.1% of Goal
Our net worth declined by 1.0% during Q2 2017. On the surface, this was a poor performance, as the S&P 500 was up 2.6% during the quarter. Not all of our assets are in the stock market, so the comparison is a bit unfair, but we’d still normally expect our net worth to rise with a strong stock market bolstered by additional savings and investments.
It doesn’t take long for anyone researching retirement to hear about the 4% rule. There have been hundreds of articles written about it, many of which provide incredible detail around the history of the 4% rule, the mathematics behind it, and special considerations for those pursuing early retirement.
I’m not going to reinvent the wheel here today.
Instead, I’m going to share some basic information about the 4% rule, include links to several resources that provide much more information for those who are interested, and discuss our potential use of the 4% rule on our path towards early retirement and financial independence.
For the first five years in our home, we successfully avoided participating in the annual garage sale our neighborhood holds every June.
The thought of hauling boxes of our junk outside into the driveway, then standing around getting sunburned while making small talk with strangers as they pawed through our stuff, before being offered pennies on the dollar for our belongings, really didn’t excite me.
Although I have less than two months of blogging history to base things on, my posts on solar energy have proven to be among the least popular topics I have written about, based upon the number of people reading them.
Amazingly, someone has actually found and looked at everything I have posted on this blog, which is focused on our quest for early retirement and financial independence. But as a newbie, I am still struggling to determine what people are most interested in reading about.
Do readers want cold, hard facts about personal finance, or more entertaining articles about my family’s financial escapades?
In the article, author Peter Grant noted startups such as Clutter Inc. and MakeSpace Labs Inc. are trying to use logistics and technology to provide a more efficient and user-friendly self-storage experience than established companies like Public Storage, CubeSmart, and Extra Space Storage Inc.
The article noted Clutter charges $100 to $110 a month in New York to store a closet worth of stuff, in line with local self-storage facilities. Clutter differentiates itself from the traditional self-storage companies by packing up and photographing items before hauling them off to their storage facility, and then delivering them back to the customer’s home after they select the photographs of the items they want returned online.
For this service, Clutter charges $35 per hour per mover for on-site labor in the packing and moving process associated with pick-ups and deliveries.
Today we get into the fun stuff: how our new home solar energy system has performed during the first ten days of a (hopefully!) long and productive life!
Our inverter, which converts the direct current generated by the photovoltaic panels on our roof into the alternating current that can be fed into the electrical grid and used to power our home, is made by a company called SolarEdge.
While the science behind how the inverter works is no doubt fascinating, I am more interested in the impact the solar panels and inverter will have on our electric bill!
As a reminder, Chase Freedom offers 5% cash back on up to $1,500 in purchases in specific spending categories each quarter, and 1% cash back on everything else. Our Fidelity Rewards card offers 2% cash back on all purchases.
We’ve now maxed out our spending on groceries, the current 5% cash back category for Chase Freedom, so we’ve switched back to our Fidelity Rewards cards for all of our spending.