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March 2014 Goals and Financial Update

by retirebyforty on April 2, 2014 · 54 comments

in cash flow

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Oh man, can you believe it’s April? 2014 is already a quarter over! March was really busy for me again and April will be even more crazy. We decided to sell our rental home and 4 plex so I have been busy dealing with that. Our tenant just finished moving out of the rental home so I need to get it ready to sell. That will be a lot of work and I’m a bit stressed out. Hopefully, we’ll be done with all that soon and life will be a bit simpler. Anyway, let’s go over our 2014 New Year resolutions first. Going over them at the beginning of every month will enable me to see how we’re doing and keep the momentum strong.

2014 New Year Goals

Invest $50,000 in tax advantaged accounts

We added $4,826 in February. Mrs. RB40 made a mistake on her contribution form in February and contributed twice as much as usual. It’s fixed now, but it’s taking a while to go into effect. Her contribution should be back to normal the next paycheck.

For 2014, we saved $18,452 so far and we are about 37% toward our goal. We are ahead here and just need to keep the momentum up for the rest of 2014.

  • Mrs. RB40 401k: +$2,976
  • My solo 401k: +$1,450 I will break down the business income and expense in our monthly newsletter so if you’re curious, sign up with our email list.
  • RB40 Jr’s 529: +$400

Generate $12,000 in passive income

We had a better than usual passive income month and made $1,954 in February.

For 2014, we made $3,875 so far and we are at about 32% to our goal. Doing well here.

Get Leaner

I’m trying to get back in shape after 18 months away from the gym and reduce my body fat percentage from 20% down to 17%. March was not a good month on this front. We had guests this month so I missed a week of work out AND we ate a ton of food… My body fat percentage went from 18% to 19%. Not great news. I’ll need to watch what I eat in April.

Travel

This year we are taking a big family trip to Hawaii. We booked tickets for the end of April, woohoo! There will be 8 of us and we’ll rent a house. I think it cost about $200/night so that’s not bad at all for 8 people. Now I need to book a rental car.

Blog Goal – Done!

My goal this year is to exceed 120,000 pageviews/month. In March, we had about 160,000 pageviews. Yes! Thank you everyone for helping me reach this goal.

Net Worth (+1.5% YTD, +0% MTM)

The stock market was basically flat and our net worth reflected that. March was a pretty boring month. I’d like to see 8-10% increase in our net worth for 2014. Now that Q1 is done, I don’t know if we can hit the 8-10% increase. We’ll see how the rest of the year goes.

If you need help keeping track of your finances, try using Personal Capital to manage your budget and net worth. It can help you keep track of your income, expenses, and net worth, all in one place. Personal Capital is geared for investors and has many great tools. See my review of Personal Capital and how they helped me reduce what I’m paying in investment fees.

personal capital FSI financial stability index

Personal Capital just came out with a new Financial Sustainability Index. It’s supposed to show how much monthly income you’ll get for the rest of your life starting at your retirement. Wow, $14,564 is quite good. It would be plenty for us if this turn out to be true in 2040. I’ll need to dig into how they calculate this FSI.

Cash Flow

march 2014 goals cash flow passive incomeTake Home Income (target > $5,000)

Our take home income barely beat the $5,000 target this month at just $11 over.

  • Mrs. RB40’s Paychecks: She fixed her contribution, but it’s taking a while to go through. Next month, this should be back to around $2,600.
  • Online income: My take home was a bit low this month at $792. That’s already excluding tax withholding, retirement saving, and 529 saving. I will break down the online income in our monthly newsletter so if you’re curious, sign up with our email list.
  • Dividend and interest: $1,187 Woohoo!  The Dividend portfolio saved the month. The end of the quarter is always a nice payout month.
  • P2P lending: Not a good month at -$14. Our current ROI is 8.27%. That’s the same as last month. See how we did with Peer to Peer Lending in 2013. Currently, I have $1,672 sitting around in cash. It’s been more difficult to autoinvest and I need to log in at 9 am to pick up some loans. That’s hard for now because I’m busy at 9 am.
  • Rentals: The rentals are doing very well so far in 2014. March was great with $781. We might not have much rental income much longer because I’m putting those places up for sale.
  • Misc income: $300 from Craigslist sales. Got rid of a few things that were just sitting around.

Expense (target < $4,500)

We spent $4,922 in March. That’s quite a bit over our target of $4,500. My mom and brother came to visit and we went out more than usual. I got some new clothes and shoes for the little guy. He’s really tough on his clothing. The preschool cost was about 3X higher than usual and you can see the detail below.

This month I used Personal Capital to track our expense and it worked pretty well except the housing expense. We pay property taxes once a year, but I want to show it on our monthly housing budget so I manually add that in.

Housing: $2,163. Mortgage, HOA, and 1/12 property tax.

march 2014 spending childcare preschool

Cash allowance didn’t show up on here this month because I just took it straight from the Craigslist sale.

  • RB40 Junior: $1,090 this month. We registered Jr. at 2 preschools next year. We also paid for 2 months at the current preschool. Lastly, we prepaid May 2014 preschool fee… Anyway, this should go back to normal next month. Clothing and shoes cost us about $85 this month. All his pants had holes in them and his shoes were ripped to shred.
  • Cash allowance: $300 for discretionary spending. I just took this straight from our Craigslist sale.
  • Groceries: $364. Not too bad even with eating more organic food in 2014.
  • Insurance: $206. That’s auto, home, and my life insurance.
  • Home Improvement: A couple of things from IKEA for my mom while she’s staying with us.
  • Restaurant: $111. We ate out a more than usual this month because we had guests.
  • Utilities: $90. This is the electricity bill for our condo and a rental.
  • Gasoline: $84. I also drove a bit more than usual with guests in town.
  • Entertainment: $46. This is the for the gym and child care at the gym.

Surplus (+$6,534 YTD)

We only had $69 extra this month. Whew, another tight one. Next month should be much better with Mrs. RB40’s paycheck back to normal. We also shouldn’t have so much preschool expenses. However, we’re going to Hawaii at the end of April so the cash flow is going to be tight again.

Our saving this month is +$69

Piggy Bank 2013

  • Travel fund: $1,034. This will be gone in April. :(
  • Roth IRA fund: $0. Already put $5,500 in my Roth IRA. We’ll work on Mrs. RB40′s Roth IRA next.
  • Slush Fund:  $0

How about you? Did you have a good March? Can you believe the year is ¼ over?  

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{ 54 comments… read them below or add one }

Under The Money Tree April 2, 2014 at 1:31 am

I’m interested to know why you’re selling off your rental property? To me rental property is a solid [relatively] inflation proof income stream and something that is a key part of my early retirement planning.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm

The properties are not cash flowing very well in our area. The price is high and the rent are not that high. For the long term it will work. I also want to take advantage of the high price right now. Maybe I’ll get back when the price is down again at some point. I’m also too busy to deal with being a landlord at this point. It’s too stressful.

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Under The Money Tree April 3, 2014 at 12:52 am

If you do re-enter the rental market the two must haves in my opinion are
1) great location
2) the right yield
Usually the first leads to the second. A good location should mean there is always high demand for your place and you can hopefully pick and choose good tenants.
Best of luck

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moneystepper April 2, 2014 at 1:44 am

160k page views – way to go Joe!! :)

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Thank you! That’s a big surprise for me this month.

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jane savers @ solving the money puzzle April 2, 2014 at 3:46 am

I had just over 400 page views on a single day and I was thrilled even though most of them are spammers. Your viewership is amazing.

Hawaii is one of those places I dream of visiting but I did not win the lottery last week so it is still a dream.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 8:52 pm

That’s great. I’m sure it took a year for me to reach 400 page views/day. Maybe you can get enough mileage someday. :) Good luck!

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Income Surfer April 2, 2014 at 3:52 am

Nice progress Joe. Congrats on the pageview goal!
-Bryan

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JC @ Passive-Income-Pursuit April 2, 2014 at 4:58 am

Looks like y’all are making great progress on your goals. That trip to Hawaii sounds awesome and I can’t wait for my wife and I to go there. We’re probably planning a bigger trip for next year, possibly Europe although Hawaii is high up the list too.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 8:53 pm

Europe is a lot of fun, but very expensive. Hawaii isn’t cheap either, but I think Europe is even more expensive. Have fun planning the trip.

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No Nonsense Landlord April 2, 2014 at 5:25 am

I am looking into P2P lending, but I am not 100% sure it is a good venture. Your negative makes me wonder. BUT, I have a lot of experience with credit scores and payments, and it might me worthwhile…

Keep the rentals, it may be the best long term investment you will make. If you sell, you have capital gains, and depreciation recapture. You may even have to write a check at closing, even if you have a decent sale. Make sure you investigate that before you sell. Do a 1031 exchange maybe, into farmland if you want.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 8:55 pm

Can I ask where you are located? It just seems difficult to make money with rentals in our area. It’s been a lot of headache lately and I don’t have time to deal with it. Once our kid goes off to school, then I might have more free time. Yeah, tax is a pain.

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No Nonsense Landlord April 3, 2014 at 7:12 pm

I am in Eagan, MN. Here is my bio.

http://www.nononsenselandlord.com/author-biography/

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retirebyforty April 4, 2014 at 9:25 am

Thanks for sharing. I think at 40, I don’t have the right temperament to be a landlord. Maybe when I’m a bit older. If I get back into rentals, I’d probably go with a management company.

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Chattanooga Cheapster April 2, 2014 at 5:28 am

Wow, I’m fairly new to reading this blog and I’m really impressed by your budget. You have a high mortgage, but manage to maintain a reasonably low budget by saving on food and transportation. Do you have any posts on how you keep your grocery bill so low?

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 8:58 pm

I really need to work on a grocery post, but it’s just too much detail. It’s a lot of work to write down every single item. I don’t really know how to approach it.

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pdxlager April 30, 2014 at 10:58 am

Maybe just scan and post the entire receipt as an image? It takes too long to write each thing out individually.

If anyone really needs to see how much you spend each month on lettuce, they can add it up themselves from the scanned receipt.

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Financial Samurai April 2, 2014 at 5:52 am

Nice job on the traffic Joe! Traffic growth is what I’m most excited about as a blogger. However, is there a reason for a mismatch in income? I sent you a decent chunk of change in March as an affiliate for my book (did u get it?), so surely there’s a revenue recognition issue perhaps eg march revenue is really feb revenue and revenue earned in match will show up in April as a record? I hope so!

Sam

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:00 pm

Yes, I got it. The number here is the take home so it’s after $1,450 401k contribution, $400 to 529 plan, and tax. Of course, more would be better. Yes, March revenue will show up in April when the checks come in. It should be a little bit better.

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Financial Samurai April 2, 2014 at 11:45 pm

In other words, online revenue is more like $2,500? Probably easiest to just write the gross revenue as you can end up contributing different amounts every month.

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retirebyforty April 3, 2014 at 11:55 am

It’s about $3,000 last month. I’m contributing the same amount every month so I thought it’d be better to see the take home. Last year, I put gross and it’s confusing to mix gross with Mrs. RB40′s take home. Now everything is take home.

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Financial Samurai April 3, 2014 at 3:43 pm

Makes sense.

John C @ Action Economics April 2, 2014 at 6:07 am

For me the hardest part of working out is actually going to a gym. Last summer I bought the Bowflex SelectTech dumbells (got a steal on craigslist) and P90X, the workouts were intense, but it made a big difference in my health and energy levels. I usually was able to finish by the time the kids were waking up, If my boys (5 and 10) did wake up before I was done, they would do some of the exercises with me.

Very aggressive savings goal, I love it!

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

Your workout sounds great. I can’t exercise at home, though. It just doesn’t work for me. I tried for 18 months and didn’t do much at all.

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Moon April 2, 2014 at 6:32 am

We had a good month in March overall. It was a very stressful month for us since we learned that my husband’s personal assistant just decided to quit (without giving the 2 week notice) when we were on vacation in Australia, so coming back we were struggling with jet lag, catching up with my job, his job and finding an new assistant for the first 2 weeks. Luckily now everything is in place.

It’s hard to calculate our March’s surplus, but I figured is about $3000. Our Australia trip costed us about $12K overall, but the majority was already paid for in last August. Hubby’s parents paid us back $3000 this month – we paid the hotel and excursion expenses since we don’t have foreign transaction fee on our card. Also we booked our Boston trip this August! I always want to have something that I can look forward to. We have credits from Southwest to pay for airfare and we just paid for the hotels (earning miles for our trip back to Asia next year). So I guess from a new year resolution standpoint we are good on the travel one (i.e. one international and one domestic trip to new destinations this year).

Also I just found out that we will be getting an escrow refund of about $1000 :)

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Wow, that’s an awesome month financially. Sounds stressful on the work front, though. It’s nice to hear that everything is back to normal now. Did you enjoy Australia? I went to Sydney and Melbourne before and it was a lot of fun. Nice job with the mileage.

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insourcelife April 2, 2014 at 6:55 am

Seems tight but the situation should improve dramatically once you pay off your primary mortgage. Is it still the plan? Are you feeling hesitant to sell your rental properties now that they are just starting to produce a nice cash flow?

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:05 pm

The nice cash flow is just one month. Over the year, it will normalize down to $200-$400/month. That’s not much at all. We are working on our primary mortgage, but probably not going to pay it off with the lump sum. If we move, then maybe we’ll just pay cash.

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Dave April 2, 2014 at 7:51 am

1st time poster here but read your stuff all the time. Currently a 29 yr old DINK (not sure how much longer the NK will last) and trying to live off one paycheck and use the other to pay off wife’s student loans (77k left – physical therapist). March was a good month, I received a bonus (helped to close out one of her loans) and our Net Worth YTD +12% and MTM +4.1%. We splurged on seeing the NCAA tournament in Milwaukee with a little of the bonus I received (only an hour from where we live and both our parents live in the area). Got to cross it off our bucket list, and made it even sweeter that we got to see Wisconsin advance on their way to the Final Four.

Keep up the good work Joe.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Great job with your finance! 12% is really nice so far. It will be tough for us to get anywhere near that again. It’s much easier when you’re young. :) Thanks for the compliment.

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C. April 2, 2014 at 8:31 am

Congratulations Joe
On your page views & for being ahead on your savings progress. I also am curious about your low grocery bill. Although I can understand a drop if you utilize coupons in a big way. There are 6 of us living here! Our monthly utilities include gas, electric & water bills. I also include our internet, TV, & cellular phone service as those are constants each month. I am on east coast near NYC. Even if I lowered our TV, internet & phone our utilities still dwarf yours. Do you pay for cable/internet/phones? Do you only use electric? Here electric is expensive.
Your goals have inspired us to be more aggressive in lowering our expenses. Thanks!

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:08 pm

We live in a condo so we only have electric bill and internet. Our electric bill is usually around $80 in the winter and half that in the summer. HOA is the expensive part for us and that is lumped into housing. Grocery bill seems pretty normal for 2 people and a small child. We use a few coupons, but not that many.

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writing2reality April 2, 2014 at 8:54 am

Congrats smashing through the 120,000 pageviews level Joe! Doesn’t hurt you’re well ahead of your passive income and savings goals as well! Keep it up and 2014 will be a heck of year for sure.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Thanks! We’ll keep at it. Good luck to you as well.

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Susan April 2, 2014 at 9:02 am

I have also wondered about how you can possibly keep your grocery bill so low especially with the jumps in food pricing lately. I also am starting to question the utilities bill – does your condo have a HOA that covers everything except electric (trash, water etc)? If you could touch on these topics a bit it would be helpful to those readers trying to lower expenses. Thanks.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Yes, we only pay electricity and internet. HOA is expensive and pay for everything else. I will write in more detail on Friday. Grocery is tough. We are paying more this year, but we don’t eat that much. It’s just 2 of us and a small kid. I will need to work on a post.

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Done by Forty April 2, 2014 at 9:38 am

Crazy how fast the time is going. But congrats on hitting your financial goals, Joe! You guys are doing so well, and I love the income diversity. That’s a great way to balance out the inevitable peaks and valleys.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

Yeah, the year is flying by. Thanks!

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davidmichael April 2, 2014 at 10:17 am

Joe…another good month. Congrats.

I’m bewildered about your returns for P2P with Prosper. I am getting over 10% return now on a regular basis with very little hassle. (Doing the 9 AM thing for 20 minutes). My loans over the past month are more in the 15-20% category with very safe filters applied. So far with six months down in first year with $10,000 as starter funding, I have made over $400. No defaults yet. A little low because not all the loans have kicked in yet. Seems to be a lag time of two-four weeks by time everything is finally approved. Now moving onto 500 loans for diversification.

I learned about P2P Lending from your blog. So thanks for that. For us retirees looking for ways to improve cash flow, Prosper has been fantastic.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:16 pm

I think the ROI will drop after a year as some loans default. I started out with around 12% and it stabilize around 8%. Many of my loans in the beginning wasn’t screened that well either so that brought the average down. Recent loans have been a bit better. I’ll keep working on it.

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Tom @ Finance and Flip Flops April 2, 2014 at 10:19 am

Wow, nice job on your way to your goals! We’ve got our wedding coming up in about 3 months and once that is done we can then focus all of our energy on paying down debt. Our goal for the year is to pay off approximately $60k of student loans, which I think will be accomplished by the end of November.

I can’t wait for the days of passive income and even 10,000 page views per month!

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Congratulation and enjoy your wedding. It will be a crazy 3 months! :) Good job with your student loans. That’s a big amount to pay down in one year.

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Justin @ Root of Good April 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

Awesome month, Joe! Even with the higher than normal daycare costs you still came in pretty close to your budgeted expenses. We prepaid a bunch of utility bills this month to meet some spending requirements on credit cards, but still had a great low expense month overall.

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retirebyforty April 2, 2014 at 9:18 pm

Our expense has been a bit crazy lately. Hopefully, everything will settle down this summer. It’s time to get back to the basic. Preschool should balance out for the year. It’s just some months are higher than others when they lump the payments together.

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Mom @ Three is Plenty April 3, 2014 at 7:22 am

I’m also intrigued by the Personal Capital FSI – but I can tell you with certainty that it includes all assets in the calculation. I just updated my home value to be lower (other asset), and it significantly dropped my FSI. There are some details in the help pages, but if you find out more, I’d be very interested in learning more about it.

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Nathan April 3, 2014 at 7:29 am

Great job, Joe. I’ve been enjoying your blog. I’ve had Personal Capital for a few months now and really like it. I’m finally coming up with a plan to tackle my student loans (38,000). I’ve figured out how much interest accrues in one week then I just pay that. When it is time to make my regular payment there is zero interest so the entire payment goes to principal. I, too am curious about your grocery bill. There are 3 of us, two adults and a 3 year old. We use cash for groceries and when that is gone, that’s it until next time. But we always go over my budget. With the 3 of us we spend about $600-$800 a month. I understand writing a post about groceries can be tough. Looking forward to your next article.

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davidmichael April 3, 2014 at 10:21 am

I also wonder about your grocery bill. Amazing…as my wife and I continue to average about $500 a month.

I remember when I was teaching in Jordan (the country) and my students learned I was spending $200 a month for groceries. They were shocked and said their families usually spent about $50 a month. Consequently, a few took me to the local farmer’s market where we bargained our expenses down to $100. But…so much negotiation took too much time plus speaking Arabic (not my strong suit) and I went back to $200 at the local supermarket…Safeway of all places! Yep! Amazing that there were two Safeways in Amman, Jordan.

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Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life April 3, 2014 at 11:43 am

Nice work on the page views! I got my freelance writing/ blogging income up to $500 this month from under $100 in December. Though I’d really love to triple it, especially since my unemployment JUST ran out :/

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Dividend Mantra April 3, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Joe,

Congrats on another successful month. Although some income categories were down a bit, your dividend income was FANTASTIC! And the best part is that it’s probably the most passive version of income you have. Keep up the great work!

Best wishes.

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retirebyforty April 4, 2014 at 9:22 am

The end of the quarter is always nice for the dividend income. Once we sell our rentals, we should have a bit more to invest and beef it up even more. I’m really looking forward to that. Thanks!

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Money Talk with Michael April 3, 2014 at 5:27 pm

I signed up with Personal Capital after reading one of your posts a few months ago. It seemed to have more neat tracking features than Mint. Unfortunately, Personal Capital did not support a couple of my accounts. The tracking features weren’t worth the trouble it would be to manually update the accounts every month when Mint does it automatically.

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retirebyforty April 4, 2014 at 9:24 am

Really? Can you share what accounts didn’t load? All my accounts except Treasury Direct are supported now. You should write them an email. They improved a lot with supported account since they started a couple of years ago.

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Money Talk with Michael April 4, 2014 at 4:31 pm

It was our mortgage company (Trustmark Mortgage) and one of my retirement accounts (Retirement Systems of Alabama). They support Trustmark bank, but not the Mortgage. I sent an email but they said there was not enough interest in those to be able to get them now.

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Kenny April 15, 2014 at 11:40 am

RB40 is a phenomenal site, esp. since it is very very uncommon to see a single income family with a progressive husband putting all of the details in such clarity that it INSPIRES others to retire early and make it happen. Sure, we might not have the newest version of the iPad by standing in line the night before the release and collect the old ones in a drawer, but it is going to be a HAPPIER life. I have only spent 10 min on the site and I already love it.

Will plan to put many more comments in here since I am not retired, but seriously considering it and will be going from 2 income family with 2 kids in college, to something different, where sacrifices will be part and parcel of life. But, I do have a head start with income sources like you mention, and our concept of passive income is a MUST just makes a TON of SENSE.

Thank you.

Kenny

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