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Happy Halloween everyone! Here is our October 2019 financial reflection. Check out what we are doing that's working and what's should be a learning experience. New article post Our Financial Reflection – October 2019 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...
How was your Halloween night? Surprising, there was no one rang our doorbell to trick-or-treat. This makes me wonder where are all the kids? I didn’t stop trick-or-treating until my sophomore year in college. I hope kids can continue to go outside and make new memories. Well moving on from the free treat, let’s talk about the money. Our October finance slowly showing some good traction. YAY!
At my new job, even though the company doesn’t have scheduled free lunch, they are generous enough to provide free food at least once a week. Part of my job is traveling to the client’s office and build a relationship. Usually, I would need to take the client out to lunch. Hence, the company also pays for my lunch. This month I have been eating out a lot more than usual but at least the meals were free =)
Mr.WoF got his first bonus this quarter! It was a nice bonus which equates to an extra paycheck after the hefty taxes. We were victims of lifestyle inflation of a little bit with this bonus because we celebrated by eating out more. Though we did not buy anything fancy. This is, of course, a short term thing.
My company ESPP shares deposited on October 3rd! I have been contributing 10% of my paychecks for the last six months and received a big chunk of change this month. I used the money to pay off $2,000 worth of student loans. I now only have ~$3,000 student loan left of the $25,000 I started off with. I took a while to pay off my student because I chose to not pay off the loan since interest is very low on my student loan.
Nothing much except eating out and being unproductive at times.
We have been eating out more since It gets boring cooking at home all the time since we are not good at cooking. Eating out and getting to go just taste so good with all the salt and MSG! Especially the fried chickens and all the boba drinks.
This month, U.S Stock is pushing an all-time high again with a potential trade deal with China looking very likely in the near future. Will the stock go even higher if the U.S reaches some sort of “phase 1” deal with China? Or is the market already priced in the expectation of a trade deal agreement given the record stock price level? The Fed cut rates three times this year already with the expectation of economy is slowing down. This is to spur more borrowing and growth. Hopefully, we don’t have another year-end meltdown like last year.
Our commercial real estate (CRE) deals are still doing alright. For those who don’t know, we invested in two CRE properties. The first one is Buffalo Wild Wings and that deal is doing really well. We are getting a monthly paycheck from BWW every single month consistently. The second deal is a steakhouse in Dallas which did not pan out so well. We are still not getting any checks from them until February 2020.
Since fiasco with the second CRE deal, we have been thinking about starting a business instead. However, it has proven to be very tough to decide which business to start. The what, when where how question is still up in the air too.
Finding a good business to start. Figure out how to start a business.
In October, we didn’t travel out of the Bay Area so our credit card expense is lower significantly compared to September. Mr. WoF is also paying off his student loan down so our overall bill is month is lower as well.
Again, passive income is on a negative trend in October because there isn’t any stock dividend payout or CRE rent. However, our retirement is slowly inching up because of the green stock market.
The 3 most important factors to make yourself happy are community, health, and wealth. Read more on how to become happier. New article post Three Most Important Area of a Happy Life appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.
The infamous mid-life crisis is slowly taking over a lot of my friends’ life but since we are still under 45 years old the new phrase is now a quarter-life crisis. From Wikipedia, a summarization of the phenomenon is “a psychological crisis brought about by events that highlight a person’s growing age, inevitable mortality, and possibly shortcomings of accomplishments in life. This may produce feelings of depression, remorse, and anxiety, or the desire to achieve youthfulness or make drastic changes to their current lifestyle.” Overall, the mid-life or quarter-life crisis is just a fancy name for people who feel lost and wanting to oppressive change their life for the better. It doesn’t matter what age you are at to always wanting to become happier. We as human beings are always in pursuit of happiness. Therefore, the main question is WHAT MAKE PEOPLE HAPPY?
Think back to one of your favorite happy memory that you can relive over and over again. Were there people in that sweet memory? These people might be in your circle of influence of happiness. Robert Waldinger, a psychiatrist and professor at Harvard Medical School, gave a Ted talk about how being involved in your community will improve your level of happiness. You can check out this video here. Friends and Family are those people who will help, support, and create beautify memory with.
Some of us are more introverted so the art of making friends or keeping the friends that we have is a skill we need to learn. If you have zero friends in life right now, then go out and socialize. Church, Meetup.com, or a local volunteer group are great places to meet new people and start making a connection. After you make some new friends, start to keep in touch with each other by having lunch, talking on the phone, or engaging in an activity that you both enjoy.
Now, “Go make yourself some friends or you’ll be lonely” – 7 Years by Lukas Graham
How are you planning to enjoy the simple things in life when your mind is filled with worries and your body is constantly in pain? Health is one of the most important criteria in life. Health is about being physically and mentally healthy. It will be difficult for us to be happy when we are feeling pain. All of us has been sick with flu or cold somewhere along in our life. During that short miserable sickness day, our freedom is confined to our bed. Our choices of food limited to soup, congee, or anything liquidity. By taking care of your health, you are giving yourself freedom. With a healthy body, you can sing at the top of your lungs, hike to the top of the mountain, or play catch with your kids. There are endless activities to explore.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Negative feelings that you are unable to release can pended up and hold a strain on your life. One of my previous jobs was giving me a lot of stress. The thought of being fired from the job also made me worry. During this period, I got a cold. Then, it turned into the worse flu of my life. I believed adamantly I need to go to work every day or else I will be living on the street. However, in reality, I have Mr.WoF and California unemployment program to help support me if I was to become jobless. The fear and anxiety were all in my head. Once I realized that everything is going to be ok, I started to recover from my nasty flu.
“Health is Wealth” – Peter Lee
There are misconceptions about money being evil which is not true. Money is an object which people define by how they use money. If you use the money to clean up the ocean, help feed the poor, or find a cure for cancer, then money would view being used for good. Money gives you the power to amplify your traits and who you really are. If you want to help the world, having money will definitely make it a lot easier.
Secondly, having enough wealth can provide peace of mind. When we have enough money to cover our basic utility, food, and shelter, we will be more carefree which in turn make us happy. What would you be doing if you don’t have to work to support your living style? For me, I would spend my time traveling, hanging with my family, and talking to people about fiance.
For those of us who are seeking financial independence, congratulation, you are on your path to accumulating wealth! If you don’t know where to start, you can begin by reading about Tackling the Biggest Spending Categories Part I – Housing.
What are the most important areas of your life?
“The richest man in Babylon” by George S. Clason is a collection og philosophy on finance will show you seven steps to wealth principals New article post 7 Steps to Wealth From The Richest Man in Babylon appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...
Money changes throughout the century. Some of our currency was in terms of livestock, salt, and even seashells. Later on, we moved on to coin then to paper currency. However, the concept of money has not changed throughout the ages. I just finished reading “The richest man in Babylon” by George S. Clason. The book is made up of short stories from the richest men in Babylon giving advice on acquiring wealth, getting rid of debts and investment philosophy. I highly recommend this book because the seven steps to wealth principals provided in the book have withstood the test of time and are still applicable even today! Even though the stories are told in a time more than 3,000 years ago, the same principle can be followed and applied to today’s financial situations.
Each of the stories in the book deserves a separate article itself. That is how relevant the book is with today’s financial wealth still. The first story of the book is about the richest man in Babylon, Arkad, who is being asked by the King to share how he became the richest man in Babylon despite having nothing to start with. Arkad then goes on to explain the “Seven Remedies for a Lean Purse”. The following is basically the seven steps to acquire wealth as shared by the richest man in Babylon:
We all have a job that we do to earn a living. May that be a farmer, a car technician, a software developer, or a teacher. Even for those who don’t hold a job in the traditional sense, you still have a skill or a trade that you do to bring you income. Regardless of what you do, you get a steady stream of income. Then, if each one of you desires to build himself/herself a fortune, is it not wise to start by utilizing that source of income.
If you save a little of your income every day, eventually that income will become overflowing. This is Arkad’s first remedy to his student: For every 10 dollars you earned, take out only nine dollars to use and save 1 dollar. This will start fattening your purse right way and the increasing weight will feel good in your hands and bring satisfaction to your soul. Some of us might start objecting: “How can I save one-tenth of my income when all that I earned are not enough for my necessary expenses?”. This brings us to the second step to acquire wealth.
We all earn different wages, some earn much more than others. Some have much larger families to support. Yet, all purses were equally lean. There is an unusual truth about men and that is what we consider our necessary expenses will always grow equal to our income unless we do something about it otherwise.
Do not confuse your necessary expenses with your desires. Each of us, together with your family, has more desires than our earnings can gratify. If we spend all our money on every single desire, those desires that can actually bring you satisfaction are few. By thoughtfully study your living habits. You can often find certain expenses that can be reduced or eliminated.
Budget your necessary expenses. The purpose of a budget is to help you fatten your purse so don’t touch that one-tenth that you are saving. It is to assist you to control your expenditures for definite and gratifying purposes. The budget will enable you to identify your absolute life necessities and your ultimate desires. Budget your expenses so that you may have coins to pay for your necessities, to pay for your enjoyment and to gratify your worthwhile desires without spending more than nine-tenths of your earnings.
The third step is a question of how you can put your gold to work. It is not enough to just save and control your expenditures. After you have start fattening your purse, then it is time to consider how to put your gold to work and increase it. Gold that we saved is nice and all but it earned nothing sitting in your savings account.
You need to start putting your savings to work by investing it. Your investment can range from investing in the stock market, real estate, buying bonds or even peer-to-peer lending. Finding a good investment is not easy but as long as it brings in reasonable earnings. A man’s wealth is not in the coins he carries in his purse; it is the income he builds, the golden stream that continually flows into his purse from the investments.
We are all tempted by opportunities that offer the chance to make lucrative returns on your investment. People are often drawn to such investments for a chance to win it big. This is not how you should go about investing your gold. Is it a good idea to be tempted by bigger returns when your principal may be lost? Definitely not. The first and foremost sound principle of investment is security for your principal.
You need to evaluate each investment opportunity carefully to ensure you can safely get your principal back before investing. Before you entrust your investment in any field, acquaint yourself with the risk and do your due diligence. Seek advice and consult with those who are experienced in investing for profit. Guard your treasure against loss by investing only where your principal is safe.
If your living expenses include paying for your own house, then your wealth will grow even faster. We always need to roof over our heads, so why pay for high rents when you can use the money to pay for your own home. Your hard work and earnings will be more fulfilling knowing that your earning is going toward your own home rather than someone else’s. You will be glad that your earnings are going to help you own valuable land for you and your family. Therefore, Arkad recommend that everyone should own their own home.
As part of the circle of life, we all will get old eventually. Therefore, we need to make preparations for our golden years when we cannot work any longer. We need to make sure we have enough for retirement. In order to do this, we need to invest our money safely throughout the years to use it during our retirement.
In the book, one suggestion is you can buy houses or lands for this purpose. If wisely chosen for their usefulness and value in the future, they are permanent in their value, and their earnings or their sale will provide well for this purpose. You can also loan a small sum of money and increase it at regular periods to let it earn interest. The interest will then add on to the sum to be compounded. Doing this over 20 to 30 years will leave you with a great sum of wealth for retirement.
What can you do if you want to be rich? Keep asking your boss for a raise until he gives you one? NO! Your desires must be strong and definite. Don’t just desire to be rich because that’s too vague. You need to put a number behind that desire to make it concrete. For example, your desire to earn $60k a year which is tangible. After reaching your first goal of making $60k/year, you can continue achieving a higher goal of getting $100k/year to $200k/year and higher.
This is how wealth is accumulated: first in small sums, then in larger increments. You need to find ways to increase your ability to earn to that which you desire. Such as increasing your skills and working harder than anyone else in your team. The more wisdom we hold, the more we can earn. Those who seek to learn more of his craft will be richly rewarded. Everyone needs to be a continuous learner to become wiser, to become more skillful, to become confident in yourself to reach your desires.
September is a great month for birthday, partying, and finance! Here is our monthly financial reflection for September 2019. New article post Our Financial Reflection – September 2019 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.
Happy birthday to all the Virgo and Libra! We started our September with a trip to Vegas to celebrate our birthdays and anniversary. Yes, both Mr.WoF and I are Virgos. We then had a house party for all of our Virgo friends including us! We had amazing steak for dinners, fried soft shell crabs and we even got a Switch as a gift! September is a month of celebration for us with all the birthdays and anniversary. We need to start reserving September as our partying and vacationing month.
Overall, our trip to Las Vegas was way below budget comparing my other friends. Mr.WoF bought an introduction timeshare package for $80 from his company. This package included 3 nights and 4 days stay at Tahiti Village in Las Vegas, $150 gift card, and 2 tickets to Cirque du Soleil show. We also used Chase points to buy our flights. Our total hotel and flight for the trip come to only $80. The food is what costs the most from this trip.
While we saved money on flight and hotel for our Vegas trip, we definitely didn’t save on restaurant and time. The reason being is because we stupidly went to Vegas during Labor Day weekend. You would not believe how many people there are in Vegas during a holiday weekend. Not only is there a lot of people everywhere, but the restaurant also jacks up their prices just for the weekend. We tried the Bacchanal Buffet, which is normally $60 for weekend prices. However, because it’s a holiday weekend the price went up to $75! Not only that but we have to wait in line for 2 hours to get in. I would never travel during Holiday weekend ever again.
The culture of eating out is very strong within the millennial. Since I just started my new job, I succumbed to the social pressure of dining out to hang out with my co-worker. It’s time for me to become a catalyst and start eating home cook meal!
Our real estate investment is slowly becoming more stable now. A deal was worked out with our tenant in Dallas: they will be paying just enough for us to pay the mortgage and hence we are not collecting any distribution from this CRE property until next year. We will, hopefully, get the full rent plus the missing rent starting next February. Guys and gals, if you are planning to invest in CRE, remember to plan for the worst.
The stock market is still going up to an all-time high but it seems like growth is slowing down in the US Market with worries of a possible recession coming. Hence, we are selling our long term capital gains and saving for a potential market downturn.
Halloween is right around the corner and we are looking forward to free candies!
Mr.WoF is looking to in Multi-Family properties with his friends. The structure for this deal, however, is not as good as the single-tenant net lease we currently have. Though even with the better structure the Dallas tenant is not giving us distribution at all. Mr.WoF is still on the fence about this deal.
Definitely not looking forward to the winter with the weather dropping to freezing. I don’t really like cold weather since its too cold to do anything and I always need to wear many layers just to leave the house. Waking up is also harder in the winter since it is super cold in the morning.
Our expenses are still on the high this month due to our splurging in Las Vegas (though we actually didn’t spend that much). More eating out expense. I also bought around trip tickets to Hawaii for my mom as a gift.
Our passive income is down in September comparing to last month because of one CRE not paying the full amount of rent =(. This is why we should invest is different areas/buildings/stocks/etc. If one goes bad, we still have other investment sources that will increase our funds.
There are many personal fiance bloggers claiming to retire in their 40s, 30s, or even earlier. Is this too good to be true or can it also happen to you? New article post When Is It Possible to Retire? 20s, 30s, 40s or later? appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...
There are many personal finances and early retirement bloggers out there. Some claimed that they retired in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. The biggest question that pops up in my head whenever reading about these amazing stories is if the stories are true and can it happen to ME? Whether I can also retire early in my 50s, 40s or even 30s? From all the amazing stories I read, I realized in total, there are 4 paths that will give you enough money to retire.
The first path that can help you retire is you inherited a huge chunk of money somehow and somewhere. If your family is rich, then the chance of you retiring/ being rich as well is very very high. Time to start kissing up to your wealthy family members, just kidding. Keep in mind that “While one in five millionaires (21%) received some inheritance, only 3% received an inheritance of $1 million or more.” The chance of getting an inheritance is quite low. Nevertheless, any inheritance you get will be a big boost to your retirement fund (its basically free money!).
One of the quickest ways to retire early is to start a company! If you can create the next Facebook, Google, or a product that can sell itself, then you will definitely have enough money to retire. Assuming you can start a successful business with positive net revenue. We need to keep in mind the statistic that 9 out of 10 businesses fail. Hopefully, you will have 1 successful business before you hit the big three-oh (30).
If you can’t beat them, then join them. The thirds way is to work for a start-up that gives you a ton of stocks and the company goes IPO. The negative side of working in a start-up can be risky since you don’t know when the company will run out of money. Most likely you will also have a lot of work since it is a new company. You are also dependent on the company going public and sometimes companies do not go IPO for 5 – 10 years. People who retired early this way because they got “lucky”. I wouldn’t join a start-up just to hope that they go IPO someday.
Using your money to make more money. You can invest in anything from stock to real estate to commodity. During a downturn in the 2008-2009 housing market, a lot of investors were able to score great deals. The other side of the coin is many people also went bankrupt.
Now back to the questions if I can retire early or not. But before that a little background about who I am. I was born in Vietnam and immigrated to the US a few months after losing my dad to cancer. My family consists of my mom, my sister, my brother, and me. We survived by taking help from the government for low income. So, receiving an inheritance of any amount is out of the question. Similar to the 79% of millionaires who do not inheritance their wealth, I have to make my own wealth. Next…entrepreneur route.
I spend most of my earlier years of my teens to 20s in school, going to school, and doing school work. Sadly, no one taught me about the entrepreneur route and I was too addicted to TV shows to even think about making money. Yup, I’m just an average person living in the expensive San Francisco Bay Area.
The idea of joining a start-up, getting stocks, and the company going IPO is also not an option. During college, I received financial aids and scholarships that helped pay for my tuition, and living costs (rent, food, clothes). When I graduated from college I can’t receive those benefits anymore. I was blessed to receive a job offer right out of college and I took the opportunity so I don’t end up being on the street. If I have had a safety net after I graduated from college, then I could search for a start-up to join instead. However, I don’t regret my decision because I was able to support myself. Keep in mind, a start-up can fail and has a lot of uncertainty as well. Not all start-up is able to go IPO. The time a company takes to go IPO might be 5, 10, or 20 plus years.
The following is a true story from a close friend. A friend of mine received a lot of stocks from a start-up company when he first joined. The rumor was the company was going to go IPO after 1-2 years. He stayed with the company for 5 years hoping the company will go IPO but the company still hasn’t gone public yet. At the end of the 5th year, his company fired him and his whole department. In the end, the stock he has vested from the company is completely worthless.
Recently, I left my job and joined a startup. I didn’t receive any stock plan yet. However, I do hope that the company will do well and go IPO. This might not happen until I’m in my late 30s or older. I would not put all my eggs into this basket.
Retirement through investing is like a marathon. You just have to keep going and keep putting your money into stock, 401k, real estate, or whatever you are investing in currently. The compound interest will magically do the work. Since time is part of the equation, investing might not help you retire in your 20s but it will help you in your 50s or earlier.
In short, if you want to retire super early when you are in your 20s or 30s. There is only 1 path that you can be in control which is the entrepreneur route. For me retiring in my 20s is out of the question because I’m already in my late 20s. Is it possible to retire in my 30s? Maybe. I still have a decade to figure that out. The other paths listed here required time and a little luck or both. The possibility of retiring earlier increases if you start early. “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” – Chinese Proverb
New article post When Is It Possible to Retire? 20s, 30s, 40s or later? appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.
There are many labels on retirement: lean FIRE, FIRE, fat FIRE. The real question is can you survive to your golden years with the 4% rule? New article post Can You Survive in Your Retirement With the 4% Rule? appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...
Many blogs and financial advisors recommend the 4% rule for retirement planning. The 4% rule is basically where you withdraw 4% from your investment accounts every year during your retirement. In general, you need to save up 25x to 30x times your projected annual expense for the 4% withdrawal not to eat away your initial contributions.
If your annual expense is $40k a year you need to save up to $1 million dollars in order to retire. This is called lean FIRE. For the regular FIRE route, the average Joe will have an annual budget of $40k to $100k per year. When your spending exceeds 100k+ a year, you will need to save up $2.5 million to have a fat FIRE.
|Annual Budget||Accumulated||FIRE type|
|Under $40,000 a year||Less $1 million||Lean fire|
|$40k to 100k||$1 Million – 2.5 Million||FIRE|
|$100k+||$2.5+ Million||Fat FIRE|
Does this rule really work with the often fickle and volatile stock market? What if you retire and the market crashes?
Using S&P500 market data from the past 30 years, let’s analysis how our investment will fare out with each type of FIRE following the 4% withdrawal rule each year as our annual budget.
In lean FIRE, we will accumulate $1 million dollars for our retirement at the age of 30 years old. (yes, this is really young even for early retirement. Don’t worry we will do more calculation regarding this later on). Right off the bat in the first year of retirement, our investment is down 11.36% which makes our annual budget less than the expected 40k. Following the 4% withdrawal rule, you can only take out 35k the first year. In the first 16 years of your retirement, you are able to take out a bit more than 40k only for 1 year. (highlighted in red in Lean FIRE spreadsheet).
Looking at the minimum, maximum, and average annual 4% budget, there are 15 years that you will need to survive with less than $40k annually. The worst year will be at age 35 years old when you need to live on $21k!
Depending on your lifestyle and family, it would be difficult for you to raise a family when you are 35 years old with only 21k. During a bear market, you will need to consider moving to a lower-cost living city and find ways to get additional income by getting a full-time or part-time job.
For the regular FIRE analysis here, I took an average of $1 million (lean FIRE) and $2.5 million (fat FIRE) to get $1.75 million which is the total accumulated wealth to start retirement at 30 years old. I also took the average of the spending budget between $40k and $100k which is $70k.
Again, the data is showing for the first 16 years only 1 year you will be able to take out a bit more than 70k (your annual budge with the 4% rule). There will be years that you will need to survive on less than 40k annually.
In the fat FIRE scenario, the retirement accounts will have $2.5 Million. The spending budget we want is $100k annually. Just like lean FIRE and normal FIRE, during the Bear market and using the 4% rule, you will need to generate more income or reduce spending. The minimum you need to survive on during a recession is $53,822.0
The worse time to retire is when the market enters a recession cycle. You can look at the Worst Years Spreadsheet. During the year 2000, a lot of people lost their houses, their retirement, and jobs. For 3 years straight, the market tank more than 10% every year. By the end of 2002, your total net worth is now only 55% of what it was originally. Starting out with $1 million in 2000, you will only have $551k left in 3 years but you only spend $88k in those 3 years. Not only that throughout the next 20 years of your retirement, you never able to take out more than 40k following the 4% rule.
A better alternative might just take $1 million and divide it by 20 years. You will get $50k to spend each year. Assuming you will only live for 20 years.
Let’s take the negative away and think more positive! What if you retire in a good year =). In our ‘Good Year’ spreadsheet, right off the bat the market gain 12% which increased more than the 4% that we took out for a living. Not only that but every year, we can take out more than 40k.
Whichever FIRE you are planning in a bull market, you will be able to take out more than the planned budget when using the 4% rule! Not only that but your net worth continues to grow even though you are retired. Even if you faced a bad market, later on, you still have a big safety net.
The market will always go up and down. The worst-case scenario in a bear market is you can only take out ½ of your assumed budget. If you invest in stocks for the long run, it will bound back and you will gain back what you lost. However, if you retire during a recession, you will need more than 20 years to gain back what you had lost. This is because you need to withdraw the money for your retirement instead of letting it gain back your losses when the market bounces back. Will you be able to live with the only ½ of the expected annual income? If not, then do you have a plan to increase your annual income by getting a job?
New article post Can You Survive in Your Retirement With the 4% Rule? appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.
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