Browse Tag: Personal Finance

Solar Energy Update: Why Am I Already Thinking About Next Winter?

Early RetirementOur first spring with solar power is working our very well for our wallet!

As the days have gotten longer over the past few months, we’ve started to build up a large bank of solar energy credits to keep our electricity bill low next winter. A combination of lots of sun, relatively cool weather, and no need for air conditioning have kept our power production high and our electricity consumption low.

I’m looking forward to reviewing a full year of solar data when we reach the one year mark with our solar panels in a few weeks, but as of right now, I’m still viewing our installation of a home solar energy system as a Smart Financial Decision as we continue trying to move closer to financial independence and early retirement.

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DRIPing Our Way to Financial Independence

Financial IndependenceAlmost 25 years ago, shortly after graduating from college, I made a series of seemingly minor decisions that in retrospect helped set me down the path towards financial independence and early retirement.

I had been interested in the stock market for some time, and as an aspiring adult, I thought I should do some research on how to begin investing now that I was earning a regular paycheck.

While perusing the personal finance and investing shelves at the local bookstore in those pre-Amazon.com days, I stumbled onto a tome about Dividend Reinvestment Plans, also known as DRIPs.

As soon as I finished reading the book, I knew that DRIPs were something I needed to get involved with. DRIPs offered the opportunity to invest directly in the stock of companies, with a minimal amount of money, sometimes at a discount, and frequently without having to pay a brokerage commission – which was a much bigger deal before online trading!

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Celebrating ROMT’s One Year Bloggiversary!

Retiring On My TermsIt’s hard to believe it has already been a year since I started Retiring On My Terms!

There have been some victories, and some setbacks, during my first year of blogging, but I’m glad I took the plunge and started this site a year ago. I sincerely thank all the readers who have found their way to Retiring On My Terms over the past twelve months. Without an audience, this blog would have no purpose!

I knew writing could be difficult when I started up this website, but I honestly had no idea how challenging it would be to create interesting content and grow an online audience. I am still an absolute novice when it comes to topics like search engine optimization and social media. Someday I hope to have time to learn more about all of the varied aspects of running a successful blog, but in the meantime my primary goals are to continue improving my writing skills and providing content that is interesting to my readers. Continue Reading

Smart Financial Decisions: Goodbye ESPN and Costco!

Early RetirementI’ve written in the past about the potential impact seemingly small financial decisions can have over time, as well as how much money can be saved by paying as little as possible for recurring subscriptions.

Today we’ll take a look at how we recently saved some money not by cutting the cost of subscriptions, but by eliminating them entirely.

Over the past month, the ROMT family has said goodbye to both ESPN and Costco as we travel down our path towards financial independence and early retirement.

And you might be surprised to learn that letting go of ESPN was probably harder for me to do than letting go of Costco!

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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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Dumb Financial Decisions: Little Things Add Up Quickly

Early RetirementLast week, a colleague mentioned to a group of us at work that he had just signed a contract on a new home.

While answering lots of questions and accepting lots of congratulations, he casually mentioned that his new commute would only be seven or eight minutes longer each way.

The consensus of my co-workers was that amount of time was essentially irrelevant.

Driven by my FIRE-focused brain, I, of course, immediately grabbed my calculator to start quantifying the impact those “meaningless” seven or eight minutes would have over the course of a year.

The results were not pretty.

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ROMT’s Updated FIRE Prowess Scores for 2001-2017

Early RetirementLast year, The Green Swan introduced a new FIRE metric that received a lot of attention, the Swan FIRE Prowess Gauge.

I, and many other personal finance bloggers and readers, calculated and publicly reported on our FIRE Prowess scores on our own blogs and in the comments section of The Green Swan’s original post explaining the concept of FIRE Prowess.

Since I recently completed my income taxes for 2017, I now have all the data needed to update my own FIRE Prowess score for last year. I’ve been keeping track of my finances for a long time, and we discovered last year that my FIRE Prowess history was one of the longest ones reported.

Last year was another good year for the ROMT family’s pursuit of financial independence and early retirement, and our FIRE Prowess score for 2017 confirms we’re continuing to move in the right direction!

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Update: Chase Freedom Announces 5% Cash Back Categories for Q2 18

Financial IndependenceLast year, I wrote about our decision to open up a Chase Freedom credit card account.

It remains a Smart Financial Decision for the ROMT family.

We haven’t changed our spending habits to take advantage of the 5% cash back rewards Chase Freedom offers on up to $1,500 in spending in rotating categories every quarter. But we have reaped the benefits of switching normal spending from our Fidelity Rewards card, which offers 2% cash back on everything, to our Chase Freedom card when we can earn 5% on purchases we would have made anyways.

Chase Freedom offers 1% cash back on purchases that aren’t in the specific spending categories eligible for 5% cash back, so we still use our Fidelity Rewards card for most of our spending.

Since we started using the Chase Freedom card last spring, our family has received over $350 in sign up bonuses and cash back!

Chase recently announced the 5% cash back categories for Q2 18, and they should once again work out well for the ROMT family.

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Smart Financial Decisions: Money Wins From Our Trip to Walt Disney World

Smart Financial DecisionsLast week, I outlined some of the questionable financial decisions the ROMT family made while on vacation at Walt Disney World.

After spending a week at Walt Disney World, it’s tough to for me to claim from a purely financial perspective that it was a wise decision to go there for vacation. Every piece of the vacation seemed to have a significant price tag associated with it, and when it all was added up, it was a material expense.

Not one that we couldn’t afford, thankfully, but certainly one that will delay our FIRE aspirations by a couple of weeks!

That said, we had a great time together as a family, and we also did our best to make some Smart Financial Decisions while on vacation.

In today’s post, I’ll focus on some of the choices we made that saved us money while vacationing in Orlando.

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