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February 2016 Goals and Financial Update

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It’s time to check my goals and cash flow! I firmly believe that tracking your finances is the first step toward financial independence. How can you control your finances if you don’t know exactly how much money is coming in and going out? If you don’t keep track now, try it for a few months. It’s actually nice to see how our finances are doing and I look forward to updating my spreadsheet every month.

February was a pretty good month financially. The weather was mostly rainy and we didn’t go out and spend money very often. We had a really nice sunny stretch last week, but the grey sky is back now. Okay, let’s go over my 2016 New Year goals first and then see how we did in January.

2016 Goals

Non Financial Goals

Improve Fitness – (February result = 99%)

I got a Garmin Vivofit 2 for Christmas and I’m using it to track my activity level. I improved a little this month. I think we had a few more nice days so I got outside a little more. I didn’t meet Garmin’s steps goal, though. I had 174,468 steps in February. That’s 6,016 steps per day which met my 6,000 steps per day goal. However, Garmin’s step goal is dynamic. If I exceed 6,000 steps, then the goal increases a bit for the next day. Anyway, 99% is pretty good and it was an improvement from January.

Control my triglyceride level (WIP)

 I’m trying to eat better to control my hypertriglyceridemia. I’m cooking more fish and vegetables, but I don’t think it will make a big difference unless we change our diet completely. I will get a blood test in about 6 months to check the triglyceride level. I’d probably have to increase the dosage of my medication.

Try 6 new great restaurants (33%)

We only went out once in February. It was just too rainy to go out much. I cooked on the weekdays and Mrs. RB40 cooked on the weekends. Things have been going smoothly in the kitchen so we didn’t feel the need to eat out.

In February, we tried a restaurant we’ve been eyeing for a while – Boke Bowl. It’s right across the bridge and only takes a few minutes to get there. We splurged for the $30 half KFC (Korean fried chicken.) It came with buns, rice, seaweed, and a big plate of pickled veggies. The KFC is only available on Thursday evening. The chicken was perfectly cooked and seasoned just right. I’m glad we went with the KFC instead of the typical ramen. It was definitely worth the $30 to try something new. We would definitely bring visiting friends and family to this restaurant.

Take an extended trip to Thailand ($1431.52)

I’m planning a 3 week trip to Thailand in November. I want my family to experience the Loy Kratong festival in Chiang Mai. It was a big deal when I was a kid and I had fun with the various activities around the holiday. Saving for this trip is made very easy by using Digit. Digit deducts a small amount from my account every few days and I don’t notice the “stealth” saving at all. Check out my Digit review if you don’t know about them. The current balance is at $1,431.52. This is a great way to save for a trip.

Attend a conference – WIP

I got a ticket to FinCon 2016 in San Diego! I still need to reserve the hotel room.

Visit a national park – WIP

I booked a campsite near Crater Lake. I can’t wait for summer.

Start a non-finance website – On hold

I will start this after kindergarten begins in the fall.

Financial Goals

Invest $50,000 in our tax advantaged accounts (15%)

In February, we saved $2,119 in our tax advantaged accounts. That brings up our total to $7,405 so far in 2016. I didn’t contribute to my i401k account last month because I’m hoping for a bigger pull back.

Increase Dividend to $11,500 (13%)

We got $708 in dividend in February. That’s $1,499 so far in 2016. I also picked up a few shares of KMI right at the bottom so that felt pretty good.

Surpass $50,000 in RB40 Junior’s 529 account

The stock is going to be volatile this year so I don’t know if we’ll meet this goal. We will continue to contribute $400 per month. The account is now worth $42,846. That’s just about the same as January.

Increase Net worth by 3x risk free rate (currently -1%)

The 10-year US government bond yields about 2%. So my target net worth increase for 2016 is 6%. This will be very difficult to achieve if we have a bear market this year. Currently, our net worth gain is -1%. I guess that’s not bad considering the S&P 500 decreased about 5% YTD. We’ll see how it goes.

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Cash Flow

February cash flowTake Home Income (target > $5,000)

Our take home income is a bit higher than usual this month at $6,085. That’s because I did not contribute to my i401k. I will probably contribute in March or early April. Other than that, things look normal.

Mrs. RB40’s Paychecks: $4,909

Rental income: $630. This is the ideal amount of monthly rental income I’d like to see in 2016. It won’t last, though. We have a few repairs to deal with this year.

Online income: $2,008. I’m hoping to average around $2,500 per month this year so this is a little lower than I’d like. We’ll see how it goes. I will break down the online income and expenses in our monthly newsletter so if you’re curious, sign up with our email list.

Dividend: $708. Not too bad. You can see my dividend portfolio here if you’re curious.

Interest: $9. The interest rate is quite low so this will be minuscule for the foreseeable future.

P2P lending: -$39. Argh! I hate it when the default is more than income. Our ROI is holding stable at 8%. That’s not too bad. I’m looking at a management company to help with P2P lending. I’ll write up about it soon.

Misc income: $0.

Expense (target < $4,500)

I think we did pretty well with our expenses in February ($4,185.) We spent about $180 on entertainment and miscellaneous. Everything else was core expense.

Housing: $2,256. Mortgage, HOA, and property tax.

Cash Allowance: $100. We’ve been using our debit card for grocery purchases so we don’t use much cash anymore.

Groceries: $569. Our groceries bill is a bit higher than usual this month. We had an expensive Valentine’s Day meal and we didn’t go out much.

Child/Dependent: $595. I’m really looking forward to sending him to the free full day (9am to 2pm) kindergarten at our public school..

Healthcare/Medical: $140

Bills: $250. Electricity and insurance.

Entertainment: $109. Gym membership fee, camping ground reservation, and a bottle of Pernod.

Misc: $70. Mrs. RB40 got some new shirts and I got some light bulbs from Home Depot.

Transportation: $94. I got an oil change and washed the car so this is a bit more than usual.


Extra Saving ($2,654 so far in 2016)

We were $1,900 in the green last month. I’ll take it in the win column.

All in all, we had a pretty good month in February. The $1,900 extra is a little deceptive because I didn’t contribute to my i401k like normal. I’m still hoping for a big downturn so I can finish my 2015 contribution. Let’s see how the market will do in March.

Did you have a good February?

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{ 37 comments… add one }

  • Michael @ Financially Alert March 2, 2016, 1:25 am

    Hi Joe,

    Nice work with your savings this year! February was interesting for me. Had a loss of $812 for the month (mainly due to a bi-annual auto premium), but a decent increase of $17k in overall NW. So, I’m not complaining. 😉

    I noticed you’re interested in starting a non-finance blog? What area are you thinking about? I still do a food blog on the side which is a nice break sometimes.

    Looking forward to meeting in person at Fincon this year!


    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:06 am

      Great news about the NW. The market was down a bit so our NW can’t handle that head wind. I’m not sure about the non-finance site yet. I need to think about it a bit. Food blog sounds interesting, but probably won’t be it for me.

  • The Personal Economist March 2, 2016, 2:55 am

    Good roundup for the month.
    Chiang Mai is on my bucket list. I’m hoping it won’t be too ‘touristy’ by the time we get there – what’s your take on it now? Is it still like it was when you were a kid?
    Love the refreshing comment about hoping for a big downturn 🙂

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:07 am

      It’s very touristy now. When I was a kid, there weren’t any foreign tourist at all. I think there are a lot of Chinese tourists now.

  • Jonny Pean March 2, 2016, 3:04 am

    Great going.. Personally, I am looking to build up a strong emergency fund by the end of October. Starting a full time career at 23 and paying up the home loan and running a family haven’t really allowed me to save much but am working towards that goal in my thirties!

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:22 am

      It’s tough when you’re just starting out, but keep at it. It will pay off later. Good luck!

  • Christine @ The (mostly) Simple Life March 2, 2016, 5:34 am

    We did pretty well on our February goals. Our budget got goofed up, but we were able to save some for retirement and travel! And I met my fitness goal! There’s always room for improvement.

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:22 am

      Yes, there is always room for improvement. It’s tough to stick to the budget sometime.

  • Justin March 2, 2016, 6:39 am

    Awesome month, Joe!

    I haven’t finished looking at my February numbers but we didn’t spend much. Our net worth was about flat I think (though yesterday’s huge move made us $30k richer!).

    What’s the new non-finance web site going to be?

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:25 am

      Nice! I haven’t checked with the latest bump. I’m still hoping for a big dip so I can contribute to my i401k. Not sure about the non-finance site yet. I will have to think about it more.

  • ambertree March 2, 2016, 6:42 am

    Good month of February!

    Saving for a trip is fun. Great that you can use digit for this. I am going full manual for now.

    I enjoyed Chiang mai when on a trip in Thailand.

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:25 am

      Manual is good too. Digit just makes it so much easier.

  • ER2019 March 2, 2016, 7:16 am

    Hi Joe,

    You have a nice passive income stream – rental income, dividends, and online income (I am not sure if online income is passive… you work hard on blogs). I am also working on my dividend income stream and need to consolidate my stocks so that I can collect more dividends and then re-invest them this year.

    I did not know that your triglycerides are quite high. I had the same problem. My triglycerides were above 1000. I completely changed my diet and had to reduce the amount of carbohydrates I eat every day after I have been diagnosed diabetes. It is now under 150 with a medication.

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:27 am

      Online income is not passive at this point. It’s too much work. Hopefully, it will become more passive someday.
      Yes, it must be some kind of genetic problem. My triglyceride spiked to 700+ about 15 years ago. It’s been under 150 with medication. I try not to each much carb, but it’s tough. I don’t have diabetes right now so I want to prevent that if possible.

  • Mike Drak March 2, 2016, 7:50 am

    I continue to struggle with my fitness goals and to be honest I’m tired of saying to my wife today I’m finally going to adopt a good exercise routine and get things going. Having said that today I plan on really starting and plan to post monthly my progress for all to see. This time I really mean it! My dividend portfolio is performing well and I had only one stock that cut it’s dividend so far but it’s not over yet. I need to create a website plus a blog to create a media platform for my book. I made a big mistake when I was working and avoided as much as possible anything to do with computers and now I’m paying a price for that poor decision. Lots to do and lots to learn but retirement is anything but boring.

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:28 am

      You need to set a schedule for fitness. Do it 5 days a week. It’s much easier when you schedule it in.
      Good luck with your book as well. You can hire someone to make a site for you. That might be easier.

  • Gwen March 2, 2016, 8:48 am

    Looks like a solid month! See you at FinCon!

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:29 am

      I’m looking forward to FinCon. I need to book a room really soon.

  • Nathan @ Investment Hunting March 2, 2016, 9:12 am

    Great dividend month for you, especially considering that February is traditionally a light dividend month. I look forward to your March post; dividends should be incredible. Nice work on your goals as well. I need to try me some of that KFC.

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:29 am

      I’m looking forward to the 3rd month of every quarter as well. Dividend is growing very slowly.

  • Dominic @ Gen Y Finance Guy March 2, 2016, 9:35 am

    Nice work Joe!

    Do you think that the Garmin has helped you gamify your activity level, therefore making it easier to hit your goal?

    I have found with my own goals that the more I make a game of it, the better I do. I use a simple grid system with X’s. Psychologically I want to do anything and everything I can to earn my X’s.

    On the financial side we set a record income month (just shy of $60,000) and our 14th consecutive month of net worth increases since we started officially reporting them on my site.

    Still have lots of work to do to get to our goals though.

    Onward & Upward!

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 10:31 am

      Yes, it is a good reminder to be a little more active. It’s so easy to just do nothing. I still have some days where I only get 3,000 steps, but I think it will improve once the weather is nicer.
      Great job with your income. Good luck!

  • Brian - Rental Mindset March 2, 2016, 10:15 am

    Looks pretty good, keep it up!

    Glad to see you are going to FinCon, I am considering getting a ticket before the price goes up in 2 weeks. Hope to connect there.

  • Tawcan March 2, 2016, 10:26 am

    Nice work on your savings! I’ve been debating whether to go to FinCon this year or not. The cost is quite significant for us Canadians given the poor exchange rate. 🙁

  • Mike H. March 2, 2016, 2:25 pm

    Impressive month of February! As with some previous months, it looks like your Online Income is pretty much the “wiggle room” in your budget. Congrats on avoiding lifestyle inflation: it is very easy to justify an extra, say, $1,900 of spending per month.

    I look at your financial updates and I see a very attainable budget. But boy does that paycheck loom large. Even when your dividend income expands, that paycheck will undoubtedly be tough for your family to let go of…

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 9:11 pm

      Yes, that paycheck is nice. We’ll have to move when Mrs. RB40 quits her job. The cost of living here is a bit high. Soon we won’t have to pay for preschool so our wiggle room should grow.

  • Ray March 2, 2016, 3:03 pm

    Hi Joe,
    you had a good February. Impressed with how much you guys save. Any plans for a second kid any time soon? Thanks for your work, it is useful to me and many others.

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 9:11 pm

      Mrs. RB40 declared no second kid. 🙂

  • Fabrice March 2, 2016, 7:49 pm

    Pretty impressive accomplishments!

    I had a good laugh when I read your budget for entertainment and your taste for Pernod – at the price they charge in the US (x2 as much as in France), you’d better keep that precious beverage for special occasions 🙂

    • retirebyforty March 2, 2016, 9:13 pm

      I got the Pernod for the Oyster Rockefeller. I don’t drink it much so this bottle should last a year or two.

  • Sharon March 2, 2016, 11:40 pm


    For me a dividend income + online income like yours and I will be financial freedome right now!!, In 2 weeks I’m going to take a trip to India for 1 month, I need to make $780 in the next week if not I will take a loan, but I will cover it when I’m back.

    Sharon – Divorcedff

    • retirebyforty March 3, 2016, 7:19 am

      Enjoy your trip! The problem with the online income is it isn’t dependable. It’s been going down so I probably need to side hustle more in the future.

  • Linda March 3, 2016, 7:52 pm

    I completely agree that tracking your finances is the first step anyone should take to early retirement. I’ve been tracking mine for a couple years now, down to the penny, and it’s almost turned in to an obsession! I love looking at my net worth column and see it slowly increasing.

    Your online income may be decreasing, but it’s still pretty impressive!

  • Dividend Growth Investor March 4, 2016, 8:38 am

    You are doing pretty well financially Joe. Based on what you have shared, I think that you have a lot of tax-deferred assets that generate income that is not included in this monthly report, right?

    I think that if my understanding is correct, Mrs RB 40 can retire earlier than 2020!

    Good luck in your journey!

    Dividend Growth Investor

    • retirebyforty March 4, 2016, 10:34 am

      Yes, a big portion of our net worth is in tax-deferred accounts. I count it toward net worth increase, but not income. Mrs. RB40 is thinking about quitting early, but we’ll need to work on it. We’re not quite ready yet.

  • Dave April 28, 2016, 11:52 am

    Great website, but you always seem to show that you spend $140 or less in insurance. Not even including health insurance, I would think a guy like you would have umbrella, homeowners, auto, term life on you, term life on your wife, LTD on you, and LTD on your wife, and that would cost *way* more than $140/month, even at your age. I’m curious as to if you are taking some calculated risk and forgoing (or self funding) some of these types of insurances. Sorry if I missed an article on that. Thanks.

    • retirebyforty April 29, 2016, 7:41 am

      The $140 covers auto, homeowners, umbrella, and term life for me. My wife has LTD, health insurance, and term life at work. I don’t have LTD right now because Social Security disability is worth more than I make. I probably should get LTD insurance.

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