Browse Tag: Personal Finance

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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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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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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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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