Browse Tag: Early Retirement

Early Retirement

Q4 2018 Financial Scorecard: Moving in the Wrong Direction

Early Retirement

The first six times we reported on our quarterly financial progress here at Retiring On My Terms, the news was always positive.

The three key metrics we’re tracking on our path towards early retirement and financial independence – net worth, 529 account funding, and passive income – all increased every single quarter.

Sometimes the growth was fast, and sometimes the growth was slow, but fairly consistent income, responsible spending, and a generally supportive stock market enabled us to make steady progress towards our goals ever since we started this blog.

Of course, that all changed during the fourth quarter of 2018, when the S&P 500 index plunged nearly 14%. As good as we try to be at saving and spending, a quarterly decline of that magnitude, the likes of which we hadn’t experienced in more than seven years, is bound to leave a mark on just about any investment portfolio.

And ours was no exception, even though, somewhat surprisingly, we still managed to make progress on one of our three key metrics despite the market rout over the past three months.

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Solar Energy Update: All Bad Things Must Come to an End

Solar Energy

Last month, I wrote about how our rooftop solar panel production had declined from prior year levels for four consecutive months, lamenting the fact we spent most of the late summer and fall using up solar energy credits we needed for this winter.

Fortunately, our streak of weaker year-over-year solar production finally ended in December, when we experienced some unseasonably warm and sunny weather.

Our solar energy production climbed by nearly 50% in December relative to the prior year period, and was up by almost 60% compared to our paltry production in November.

Not bad for the month featuring the shortest day of the year – especially since we were still able to enjoy a White Christmas!

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So How Am I Doing? Reviewing Our 2018 Financial Resolutions

FIRE

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch famously asked his constituents, “How am I doing?” on a regular basis. 

A year ago, I posted nine financial resolutions for the new year, that I believed if followed could keep the ROMT family moving forward on our path towards early retirement and financial independence.

With 2018 now complete, it seems like a good time to ask myself the same question Ed Koch asked New Yorkers decades ago. Without further delay, let’s take a look at how we did on our financial resolutions in 2018!

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Winter Came Early This Year!

Solar PowerAlthough the calendar says there are still almost three weeks until the beginning of winter, the weather in our neck of the woods says otherwise. It has been cold, dark, and snowy for the better part of the past several weeks.

While it was nice to experience a “White Thanksgiving” this year, our solar energy production took a big hit in November. In fact, the monthly production from our rooftop solar panels was the lowest we’ve ever experienced, as we generated about 6% less electricity last month than we did in December of 2017.

Consequently, we needed to make our second-largest withdrawal ever from the bank of solar energy credits we build up when the weather is sunnier to keep our electric bill as low as possible.

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Our Passive Income Takes a Punch to the Mouth

Passive IncomeFormer heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson was famously quoted as saying “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

While less than two months ago it seemed like we were in pretty good shape to hit our year-end passive income goal, recent events in the financial markets have negatively impacted our ability to generate passive income.

Fortunately, we’re doing our best to adapt to our changing circumstances. Turns out, it seems like we do have a plan for our passive income getting metaphorically punched in the face.

Even though he’s now in his fifties, I still don’t want any part of facing off against Iron Mike in the boxing ring, however!

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Our Solar Bank is Ready for the Winter!

Financial IndependenceOctober was a dark and dreary month in our part of the world, and the unpleasant weather negatively impacted our solar energy production.

For a third consecutive month, the value of the production from our rooftop solar panels was more or less equal to the cost of electricity our household used.

The optimist in me says our solar panels were doing their job by keeping our electric bill as low as it could possibly be.

But the pessimist in me is concerned our mediocre energy production in August, September, and October represents a lost opportunity to have built up more solar energy credits to keep our electric bill low this winter.

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Dumb Financial Decisions: Not Making The Buy Decision

FIREOver the past quarter century, I have bought and sold dozens of individual stocks in my brokerage account and through Dividend Reinvestment Plans.

Some of my trades have been big winners.

And some have been big losers.

But thinking back over a period of decades, even the biggest winners and the biggest losers tend to fade from my memory.

The trades I actually tend to remember the most are the ones I didn’t make.
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Q3 2018 Financial Scorecard: Another Milestone on the Path to Financial Independence

Financial ScorecardDuring the third quarter of 2018 we continued to make good progress in our pursuit of financial independence and early retirement!

Our efforts were helped by the strong stock market. The S&P 500 delivered its best quarterly returns in almost five years during Q3 18, climbing by more than 7% during July, August, and September! The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose by 9% during the quarter, while the Nasdaq 100 rose by over 8%.

Those great returns from the market gave our finances a boost, and we made progress on the Net Worth, 529 Account Funding, and Passive Income goals we are tracking to measure our progress. We even hit one of our short-term financial goals a quarter early!

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Our Solar Production Slows As The Summer Ends

Solar PowerAfter relatively weak production from our rooftop solar panels in August, things didn’t get much better in the month of September.

While we did produce slightly more energy during September, which was a nice surprise, we also used more energy during the month.

The end result was a very small deposit into our bank of solar energy credits. Those credits will help offset our electric bill during the coming winter, when our energy production will drop precipitously, driven by the shorter days and rooftop solar panels that will likely spend a considerable amount of time buried under ice and snow!

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Mother Nature Gets Her Revenge!

Home SolarLast month, I posted about how the sunny and dry weather in July led to the most productive month ever from our home solar panels.

Apparently, Mother Nature believed I was gloating and needed to be punished, because our solar energy production fell dramatically in August.

Our rooftop solar panels produced almost 30% less energy in August than they did in July. Although our power consumption also declined, as the air conditioning didn’t have to work quite as hard as it did the month before, we still had to tap into some of the solar energy credits we’ve been saving up for next winter since April to keep our electric bill as low as possible.

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