Browse Tag: Retiring On My Terms

Retiring On My Terms

ROMT’s Financial Resolutions for 2018

Financial Independence2017 was a good year for the ROMT family’s finances.

We paid off our mortgage!

We had solar panels installed on our roof, which over the second half of 2017 cut our electric bill by over 90% from what we paid during the same period in 2016!

We learned about financial independence and early retirement (FIRE), and developed a plan we hope can lead us down the path to FIRE before Mrs. ROMT or I turn 50. As of January 1, 2018, we were almost 78% of the way to our net worth goal!

2017 wasn’t without some missteps. My commute is still too long and too expensive, I’ve done a poor job taking care of myself, and our participation in the neighborhood garage sale was an abject failure!

But all in all, it was still a good year for our bottom line.

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Q4 2017 Financial Scorecard: Slow And Steady Wins The Race!

Personal FinanceWith the calendar finally turning to 2018, it’s time to report on the ROMT family’s financial status as of year-end 2017!

We made progress on each of our financial independence and early retirement goals during the fourth quarter, increasing our Net Worth, 529 Account Funding, and Passive Income.

Measuring our progress on a regular basis certainly helps keep our eyes on the prize, but we’ve found there are really no secrets to continuing to move in the right direction.

For those of us who aren’t founders of tech startups, first round NFL draft picks, or lottery winners, slow and steady progress is the surest way to build wealth over time.

Keeping our personal finances in order is largely a matter of doing the basic blocking and tackling on a daily basis.  Trying to save a larger portion of our income, making sure our money is working as hard for us as we are, avoiding unnecessary expenditures, and taking full advantage of any free money that is available, such as 401(k) matches and credit card rewards, may sound boring, but are all tried and true ways to continue moving towards financial independence and early retirement.

And we used all of those methods to move a little closer to our goals during the fourth quarter.

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Solar Panels Don’t Produce Much Energy When They Are Buried Under Snow!

Solar Power
There really are solar panels under the snow!

We’ve had our home solar energy system for just over six months, and have now experienced both the best and the worst the sun has to offer homeowners.

Our system was installed just before the Summer Solstice in June. During the summer months there were a handful of long and sunny days when our system generated over 50 kWh of energy, which helped us build up a nice bank of solar credits to offset future bills.

In recent weeks, however, our energy production has plunged as we neared the Winter Solstice. In late December, a combination of limited sunlight and snowy weather meant we produced less than 1 kWh of power on six of seven days.

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Update: Chase Freedom Announces 5% Cash Back Categories for Q1 18

Financial IndependenceEarlier this year, I wrote about our decision to sign up for the Chase Freedom credit card.

So far it has been a Smart Financial Decision for our family.

We haven’t changed our spending habits to take advantage of the 5% cash back rewards Chase Freedom offers on 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 in the spring, our family has received almost $290 in sign up bonuses and cash back! Continue Reading

Smart Financial Decisions: Saving Hundreds of Dollars an Hour Making Phone Calls

Financial IndependenceIn today’s edition of Smart Financial Decisions, we’re writing about a simple, but incredibly effective, way to save significant amounts of money.

And almost all of us can find ways to use this skill.

It’s called picking up your phone and making a phone call.

As I’ve gotten more serious about pursuing financial independence and early retirement, I’ve used this skill more and more often.

This year alone I’ve made several phone calls that have saved the ROMT family well over $1,000.

Not a bad return for a couple of hours of “work”!

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Solar Energy Update: Our First Withdrawal From The Bank

Solar Power
ROMT Solar Production (YTD 2017)

As the days got shorter this fall, the amount of power produced by our home solar energy system has been decreasing.

This isn’t surprising – it’s simply a matter of science!

That said, the drop off has been dramatic. Our solar production for November was half of what we produced in October, and less than 30% of what we produced in August, which was our peak month so far.

With the days still getting shorter for another week and a half, science says that our power production for December will be even lower!

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Dumb Financial Decisions: Buying A Home That Is Too Big

Dumb Financial DecisionsEarlier this year, I wrote about our Smart Financial Decision to pay off our mortgage.

Today I’m once again writing about our home, but this time, we’ll be revisiting a Dumb Financial Decision.

Quite simply, when we bought our home six years ago, we purchased a larger house than we really needed.

And the financial ramifications of that decision continue to negatively impact our personal finances every day. Continue Reading

Great Games to Teach Children About Money and Personal Finance (and Math!)

Personal Finance GamesAs we head into the holiday season, many are looking for gift ideas for the children in their lives.

Today I’m going to share some great games we have played with our children, and in some cases also played while growing up. In my opinion, each of these games help teach important lessons about money and personal finance. In their own way, these games have helped shape the financial decisions – both smart and dumb – I have made, and continue to make, in real life on my path towards financial independence and early retirement.

Plus, each of these games is a lot of fun to play!

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When Is Enough, Enough?

Financial IndependenceBased on its title, you may be surprised to learn this post isn’t going to be about figuring out how much money you might need to achieve financial independence.

We’ve already written about the 4% rule, and we’ve also outlined our financial goals as we track our progress towards FIRE.

Looking solely at the numbers, I know our family is over 75% of the way to our definition of financial independence, and that if nothing significant changes in our lives, we are likely to reach our target in less than four years.

Today, when I ask when is enough, enough, I am being more philosophical.

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Solar Energy Update: Another Tiny Electric Bill!

Home SolarWith October now in the books, we have another month of data on our electric bill following our installation of solar panels in June.

The great news is that for a fourth consecutive month, our electric bill was as low as possible. We generated enough energy that all we had to pay for were the daily cost to connect to the power grid, in addition to some mandatory fees. In our state, these expenses cannot be offset by solar energy credits.

That said, the year over year improvement in our electric bill was the smallest we have seen to date. After saving more than 90% on energy compared to last July, August, and September, our bill shrunk by just 84% in October.

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