This is it! It’s time to cast your vote and make sure it counts. Billions of people still don’t have this basic right. We’re lucky to have the privilege to help choose our leaders and policies. So don’t squander this opportunity. Vote as early as you can to make sure your vote counts and that your ballot is put in an official ballot box because this is the most important election in decades*.
Even if you’re sick with politics and really don’t care who will be president next, you should still vote on the local elections and issues. This year, there are a bunch of local measures for us. Normally, I’d vote yes on library bonds and park bonds. But not this year. Sadly, I’m voting no on everything in 2020. This is the wrong time to increase property tax. The libraries and parks can cut back like everyone else. Come back later when things are better. Usually, these measures pass, but we’ll see what happens this year.
*Here is the story on NPR that showed me how important local elections are – REDMAP. Every 10 years, states will have to redraw their district map to adjust for the population shift. The winners of these local elections will be in charge of this redistricting. A carefully drawn district can guarantee a win for many years.
Alright, let’s get back to the blog post – Are you better off than 4 years ago? This is what we hear every presidential election. It’s really a trick question. Everyone should be better off after 4 years no matter who is the president. However, 2020 is a special case. Many people are struggling due to the pandemic. I think it’s still a good idea to do our quadrennial checkup. (Hey, a new word for me!) Today, I’ll take a look at 3 important facets of our well-being and see if we are better off – health, wealth, and happiness. Overall, we are doing better, but there are some issues, too. I encourage you to do the same and take my poll.
I’m 46 years old and I’m relatively healthy. Fortunately, my health has been stable over the last 4 years. I haven’t picked up any new chronic conditions so that’s great news. My weight has been okay, too. In 2019, I got it down to 130 lbs., but it is back up to 136 lbs. It has been difficult for me to eat right and exercise consistently this year. But 136 lbs. isn’t too bad. That’s my normal weight… Mrs. RB40 and RB40Jr are healthy, too.
So health is good for now. I am healthy and I just need to stay that way. This is still a big improvement from 2012 when I was working full-time. Back then, I was stressed out all the time and had quite a few mysterious conditions. Fortunately, we made it to FI (financial independence) and I was able to retire from my engineering career. My health improved and life has been good since then.
Overall, my health has been stable over the last 4 years. That’s excellent.
Wealth is a bit tricky. I’ll break it down into 2 parts – cash flow and net worth.
Cash flow is just how much money is coming in and out of your household. 2020 is a tough year for a lot of people. The unemployment spiked due to the COVID—19 pandemic. It’s improved since March but remains quite high at 7.9%. We are very fortunate because our income streams are still flowing. My online income is down, but at least it isn’t shut off completely. Mrs. RB40 is still working full-time and her job is relatively secure. Surprisingly, our passive income is holding up quite well. All in all, our cash flow is good so we won’t have to make any big changes.
Here is a chart of our passive income and expenses since 2016. Passive income is helping a lot. That’s the benefit of investing. You have multiple streams of income to help shore up your cash flow.
My online income is down, but I’m not too worried since we don’t use that money anyway. You can read more about it on my online income page.
Our net worth took a hit early on but it already came back to hit a new high. Wall Street has disconnected from Main Street. Many workers are in trouble financially, but investors are doing quite well. This is why you need to evolve from a worker to an investor. You’ll be part of the owner society if you invest in the stock market.
Here is a chart of our net worth over the last 4 years. 2017 to 2019 was great. Our net worth steadily increased. There was a big dip recently, but our net worth already came back to hit a new high. It’s crazy, but I’m thankful that we are investors.
Overall, these last 4 years was great for us. Our cash flow and net worth both improved.
This part will be somewhat political. That’s my warning so you can skip this section if you want to avoid politics. Happiness is tricky. It’s all subjective and the present is the most important part. And presently, nobody is too happy. The country is divided and we blame the other side for all our problems.
2020 is the worst year in a long time. We had pandemic, racial tension, riots, wildfires, homeschooling, trade wars, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died before the election. It’s a big hot mess in the US right now. All these problems weren’t the president’s fault, but he didn’t help with anything. All he did was feed the flame and divide us even more. IMO, America is worse off than 4 years ago. Trump did a terrible job.
The last 4 years with Trump at the helm hasn’t been good for my happiness. He treats the office like a reality TV show and generates plenty of drama every day to keep the audience watching. I don’t need that BS. I want my president to work like my computer. Just do your job well so I don’t notice you. This is just too much drama. I can’t take 4 more years of this. We’re all held hostage by a psychotic megalomaniac. The previous administration didn’t generate many headlines and that’s the way I like it. No news is good news. Let’s get back to normalcy.
OK, that’s my rant. I’m still generally happy, but I was happier 4 years ago. Life really hasn’t changed much so I don’t have a lot to be unhappy about. President Trump and COVID-19 are my main sources of unhappiness. These two things need to go.
Are you better off than 4 years ago?
All in all, we are better off than 4 years ago. Our net worth increased and our cash flow is holding up well. I’m healthy and relatively happy. We are doing well even with the pandemic. In contrast, many families are struggling mightily. 2020 is a difficult year for this exercise; however, 2017 to 2019 were great years. If those 3 years weren’t enough of a headstart, then you need to prepare better for the next crisis. You might need to change careers, save more, invest for the rainy days, or combine households to get ahead. Do whatever you need to so you’ll be better prepared next time. Don’t stick with the same strategy if it doesn’t work because there will be another crisis. That’s just life.
How about you? Are you better off than 4 years ago?
If you’re curious, here is the 2016 edition of this post and the result of the previous poll.
Are you better off than 4 years ago? (2016 edition)
- Most definitely (87%, 414 Votes)
- About the same (6%, 29 Votes)
- Worse, Thanks Obama! (7%, 32 Votes)
Total Voters: 475
Trump image by Gage Skidmore
Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is increasing his investment in real estate with CrowdStreet. He can invest in projects across the U.S. and diversify his real estate portfolio. There are many interesting projects available so sign up and check them out.
Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. He logs on to Personal Capital almost daily to check his cash flow and net worth. They have many useful tools that will help DIY investors analyze their portfolio and plan for retirement.