Browse Tag: Personal Finance

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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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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Russians Don’t Want Their Pensions Touched Either!

Early RetirementWe’ve recently written a lot about the U.S. Social Security program and the long-term funding problems it faces. We’ve outlined the problem, talked about potential solutions, and discussed how I’m thinking about Social Security in the context of our quest for financial independence and early retirement.

While it won’t solve any of our domestic problems, it’s interesting to note the U.S. is not the only country where demographic changes are having a major impact on how politicians are thinking about retirement.

Last week, Bloomberg posted an article noting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has faced criticism at home following a proposed plan to raise retirement ages in his country he originally announced in June.

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How I’m Thinking About Social Security and FIRE

Retiring On My TermsOver the past few weeks, we’ve taken a look at the Social Security program’s future funding problems, as well as a number of potential solutions that could close the coming funding gap.

Today we’re going to get more personal, and discuss how I’m thinking about Social Security as we continue down our path towards financial independence and early retirement.

I’ve written in the past that I haven’t factored any potential Social Security benefits into the framework I’ve developed to measure our progress during our quest for financial independence and early retirement.

But I’ve also mentioned I do expect to eventually receive something from the Social Security program when I am old enough to claim retirement benefits.

So how do I explain this seeming contradiction?
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How To Fix Social Security

Early RetirementLast week, I wrote about some of the problems facing the U.S. Social Security program.

Although the combined Social Security trust funds had $2.9 trillion in assets at the end of 2017, demographic changes over the next decade and a half are expected to eliminate that surplus by 2034. At that time, anticipated tax income on workers is expected to fund only 79% of scheduled benefits to retirees and disabled beneficiaries.

Fortunately, there are a number of potential solutions that could help close the Social Security funding gap. The question is whether American politicians will come together to make some difficult choices today, or keep kicking the can into the future, when the problem will likely be more difficult to solve.

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What’s Wrong With Social Security?

RetirementThe Social Security Board of Trustees recently released its annual report on the status of the programs it oversees, which currently provide benefits to around 62 million Americans.

By and large, the numbers were consistent with where they were a year earlier.

Near term, the Social Security system is fine.

Longer term, changes need to be made to Social Security to maintain its viability given expected demographic changes.

The good news is the numbers may not be as dire as the mainstream media has led some to believe, and relatively modest changes could ensure Social Security will continue to provide benefits to tens of millions of Americans for many decades to come.

The bad news is the necessary changes will likely require copious amounts of common sense and bipartisan collaboration, both of which seem in short supply in many parts of the United States these days!
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Confirmation We Might Be On The Right Track For Financial Independence!

Financial IndependenceEarlier this week, I posted our latest Quarterly Financial Scorecard, which indicated we could reach my definition of financial independence within three years.

Yesterday, I came across a retirement calculator recently posted by ESI Money that attempts to answer questions such as “When Can I Retire?” and “When Will I Be Financially Independent?”

While I think I have our financial situation fairly well mapped out, it’s always interesting to get another perspective, so I decided to plug our information and my thoughts about the future into the “When Can I Retire?” Calculator at ESI Money.
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Q2 2018 Financial Scorecard: Three Years to Financial Independence?

Retiring On My TermsIt has now been well over a year since I started Retiring On My Terms and began chronicling our quest for financial independence and early retirement.

This marks the fifth quarterly financial scorecard I’ve posted on these pages. I’m pleased to report we made good progress on each of our financial independence and early retirement goals during the second quarter, increasing our Net Worth, 529 Account Funding, and Passive Income.

The S&P 500 climbed by nearly 3% from the beginning of April through the end of June, which provided a nice tailwind for our finances. That said, we still have A LOT of hard work ahead of us if we expect to achieve our Target FIRE date of Friday, July 2, 2021!

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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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