Financial Freedom, Financial Independence, Financial Journey, Lifestyle

A Year in Review: Reflections, Early Retirement and New Directions

REFLECTIONS

I published the first post on this blog about a year ago (on September 18th, 2016). Since then, my family and I have gone through lots of changes. Back then, I wrote in this article that my husband and I would be looking at early retirement in year 2018, while in our mid- and early-30s, respectively. Our estimated annual expenses would be $50,000. In a later post, where I shared about the 4% Withdrawal Rule and its relevance for my family, I mentioned that my family’s financial goal (a.k.a the amount in our net worth) was to reach 30X to 33X of our annual expenses.

As I’m writing this article, I’m happy to report that our total net worth has reached over the 33X number. The image below was captured on 9/11/2017 from our Personal Capital account, prior to the stock market opened. We use Personal Capital, a free financial tool, to track our net worth, view our investment performance, analyze our asset allocations and project and reevaluate our retirement goals. I wrote a comprehensive review of Personal Capital on another post. I encourage you to check it out. According to Google Analytics, that post is a readers favorites. I plan to do an update on this financial tool and share more recent images on the blog soon.

ms financial literacy Personal Capital score board

Now that this part of my family’s financial goal is reached, my husband and I have both arrived at the conclusion that it was time for him to join me in early retirement, too. September 8th, 2017, marked his last day of W-2 employment. This is a great financial milestone for my family. We became an early retiree family before our daughter turns three.

Note: In a more recent post, I shared that we created a “fun fund”, where we gave ourselves the permission to spend up to $60,000 per year. Of that $60,000, about 30% would go to travel and large disposable item purchases (you can see a list of our monthly expenses here). At this point, we are flexible pacing our annual expenses anywhere in between $40,000 to $60,000. 

EARLY RETIREMENT

ms financial literacy a year in review

My husband and I have been planning for this new chapter of our lives for several months now. During our early retirement days, we will be doing the following activities (at least for the next three years, before our daughter goes to formal school):

1) Go through the day at a slower pace

2) Do more slow-travel

3) Write a book

4) Spend lots of time in the library and book stores

5) Become more fluent in Mandarin and Spanish

6) Spend more time outdoors

7) Take a more active role in our community

8) Play more boardgames

9) Be more adventurous and creative with our cooking recipes

10) Host more gatherings at our new home

11) Work on DIY and home decor projects around the house

12) Start a YouTube channel

13) Partnering with more local organizations to promote and teach financial literacy for individuals and couples

14) Work on building our financial coaching business

15) Venture out into real estate (mostly commercial)

16) Work on building my Mandarin lessons class

NEW DIRECTIONS FOR THIS BLOG

1) Now that we’re retired, my husband and I will be further investigating and taking advantage of new financial strategies that are available to us (due to a much lower household income). These strategies include doing a Roth Conversation and deciding on which withdrawal strategies to use (getting money to fund our expenses). And I’ll certainly be sharing our new experiences on the blog.

2) My husband and I have also been talking about having a YouTube channel as another digital platform for us to share our financial journey with you. I’ve always been more comfortable being behind the camera, however, this new adventure can be a lot of fun for us. As a couple sharing a household and finances together, my husband and I are pretty dynamic when it comes to money (especially the psychological aspects). We’re similar in many ways, yet, we can be very different in other ways. It would be interesting for our audience to see our different sides and how we try to work (or not work) things out.

3) Both of us will be working with other individuals (and couples and families) on money management and building wealth. As such, we’ll have many interesting stories and insights to share on the blog (only with our clients’ permissions and personal idenfication information would be changed for confidentiality purposes).

4) We’ll be sharing more real estate topics as we get further into the field.

5) There’ll also be Do-It-Yourself home projects and money saving options as we remodel and renovate our new home.

6) So far, I’ve been the only voice that’s been on this blog. I’m looking to expand this digital space to other women so that you can share your financial stories, too, to inspire and encourage others. If you are interested, please reach out to me. I’d love to hear your story and talk about possibilities. If you know others who have inspiring stories to share, please have them reach out to me, too.

This is where my family and Ms. Financial Literacy blog are at now. We’re very excited starting this new chapter in our lives. Thank you so much for your continuing support on this journey with us.

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6 Comments

  • Ms. Frugal Asian Finance

    September 15, 2017

    Congratulations on your early retirement! It’s such an important milestone. It’s so exciting that you both are thinking about a YouTube channel. I look forward to it! ^.^

    • Nina

      September 15, 2017

      Thank you for the congrats. Looking forward to embarking on some new adventures!

  • Ms Financial Literacy Fan

    September 15, 2017

    Congrats on making such great progress ahead of schedule! You are very inspiring and I am hoping you can help us understand more specifically how you are making this work. 1) How are you able to access the income that is being generated in your taxable accounts? 2) What is your plan for handling inflation since ~40% of your portfolio is in bonds? Thanks!

    • Nina

      September 15, 2017

      Thank you for being a fan of this blog and for taking the time to ask questions. In response to your question #1, we can take out dividend/interest incomes from our taxable accounts whenever the stock market is open. As far as I know, there’s no restrictions in this regard.

      As for accessing money from our retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, Roth and Traditional IRA, we plan to do Roth Conversions. I haven’t discuss this topic on the blog and plan to soon. In the meantime if you are curious, I recommend the following article by a fellow early retiree blogger: http://rootofgood.com/roth-ira-conversion-ladder-early-retirement/

      We plan to do the Roth Conversion ladder with our 401(k) and Traditional IRA accounts, rolling this money (slowly, over time) into our Roth accounts. We can access the money we put in our Roth accounts anytime, and access the gains 5 years later.

      In response to your question #2, I don’t recall ever reporting holding about 40% of our investments in bonds. We were at ~30% at one point, then recently changed the holding % to 25%. The average interest yield on our bonds is about 3%. We hold a mix of different types of bonds.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to ask more questions.

  • Ms Financial Literacy Fan

    September 15, 2017

    Hi Nina- thanks for the quick response and clarification on accessing the income (even though I wrote “taxable” but meant “non-taxable” accounts).

    I’ll admit that I don’t quite yet follow the Roth IRA Conversion Ladder quite yet, but hopefully your upcoming post will help clarify it a bit better.

    Apologies on the incorrect bond percentage. But even at 25-30% bonds (or any percent bonds) that pay 3%, won’t inflation (assume 2%/yr) effectively negate any gains from the bonds within 1.5-2 years? How are you planning to protect that chunk of your portfolio so that you continue to have adequate inflation-adjusted income down the road?

    • Nina

      September 17, 2017

      From my understanding, people have different reasons for holding bonds (or not holding). As for my family, we hold bonds to hedge against inflation and hedge against fluctuations of stocks.

      We’re open to do withdrawals from our investment portfolio over time in addition to the dividends/interest payment incomes (as well as other income sources). For us, early retirement is not about preserving what we started off with. Otherwise, we’d have a lot of money during old age.

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