February 2023 FIRE Update

Hey everyone! Did you have a good February? For us, it was unusual… I came back from Thailand and was jet-lagged for a long time. It was strange. For two weeks, I woke up at 3 am and couldn’t go back to sleep. I guess I was worried about my parents so I had a hard time adjusting to the time change. The weather was a big factor as well. It was hot and sunny in Thailand, but dark and cold in Portland. It made me sleepy all the time.  

Then we got a big snowstorm at the end of the month. The weather people got it all wrong and nobody was prepared for 11 inches of snow. (It was the second-largest snowfall on record.) That’s a big deal in Portland. RB40Jr’s bus took 3 hours to travel 5 miles. And they did way better than most other school buses. The roads got bad and many people abandoned their vehicles on the freeway. It was nuts. The city shut down for 4 days and we hung out at home. RB40Jr enjoyed it immensely.

On the financial side, it wasn’t pretty. We spent like a normal American family. First was the $2,500 maintenance bill at the duplex. This brought down our rental income and increased our housing expenses. Then, we spent over $3,000 on future travel – Disneyland and camping in the summer. As a result, our YTD expenses went way above our passive income. We’ll need to take it easy for the next few months so the cash flow will balance out. 

Alright, I’ll share how I’m doing with my 2023 New Year goals. Then, I’ll go over our net worth and cash flow. Let’s go!

2023 Goals

Here is my 2023 goal spreadsheet. It works really well. Try it out if you can’t keep up with your New Year goals. The key is to go over the spreadsheet at least once a month to track your progress. You can see which goals need extra attention and work on them.

Last year, I failed to accomplish about half of my goals. It was a rough year. I’m optimistic this year, though. Let’s go!

Financial Goals

  • Invest in Real Estate Crowdfunding. I plan to invest in at least one RE crowdfunding project this year. One of the older projects had a capital call and I sent them $3,000. That’s a start. I’ll invest more when we accumulate some money. My projects on CrowdStreet are doing quite well so I plan to invest more over the next few years. It’s a great way to generate passive income.
  • FI Ratio > 120%. This is my main goal for 2023. The FI ratio is passive income divided by expense. This shows us we can maintain our lifestyle with our passive income. It isn’t going well this year. Our FI ratio is at 64% after 2 months. We spent a lot of money recently. See the cash flow section below.
  • Net worth back to all-time high. This one is completely dependent on our investment. I don’t have a lot of control over it, but let’s get back to ATH! Things are looking good so far in 2023. Our net worth has recovered 50% already. Our lowest point was in October 2022.

Health Goals

  • 7,500 steps per day. Wow, this goal will be tough to accomplish. My steps per day dropped like a rock after I came back from Thailand. It was cold in Portland and I didn’t want to leave the house. I’ll try to walk more as the weather warms up. My average is down to 6,466 steps per day so far in 2023.
  • Cook 1 vegetarian/fish per week. I want to cook a healthier meal at least once per week. I did pretty well since I came home. Here are a few of the healthy dishes I cooked.

Mediterranean fish – This dish was healthy and delicious. It’s a great way to cook white fish.

Mrs. RB40 and Junior didn’t eat much Asian food while I was gone. They’re happy to have me cooking again. RB40Jr liked the Cantonese-style egg and tomato stir fry. It’s so simple and easy. The salmon with celery stir fry was good too.  

Personal Goals

  • Disneyland, zipline, or hot air balloon ride. We’re going to Disneyland for spring break! This trip is way too expensive, but our son will be too old soon. We want to relive our childhood with him before it’s too late.
  • Happiness > 8. February was happy for me. I came home and life was good. I wasn’t as stressed out as when I was in Thailand. I gave February an 8.5.
  • Get rid of Awebber. WIP. This is one of my biggest business expenses and it doesn’t seem that useful. I’ll move to a cheaper alternative this year.

Net Worth (+5%)

The stock market pulled back a bit at the end of February. Inflation is still high so the future looks uncertain. As a result, the Fed will continue to raise the interest rate. Everyone needs to start saving a bit more because we’ll probably get a recession later this year. 

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006. Usually, it is very motivating to see the progress. The power of compounding is unbelievable. However, 2022 was demoralizing. Our net worth dropped along with the stock market. I hope we can get back to our all-time high this year, but it might take more time. The important thing is to keep investing even when the market looks bad.

***Important*** My best advice is to stay the course. Do not stop investing. You need to keep investing when the stock market is down. Eventually, the stock market will recover and you will do very well as long as you keep investing through the downturn.

Here is a chart of our net worth from Empower. (Personal Capital is now Empower.) Sign up for a free account at Empower to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check our net worth. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

YTD 2023 FIRE Cash Flow

This FIRE cash flow chart includes my online income, side gigs, and taxable passive income. Mrs. RB40’s income isn’t here because I want to see if we’ll be fine after she retires.

YTD FIRE Income: $5,882

Our FIRE income was a bit low for the first 2 months of 2023. I just spent a good chunk of money on maintenance at our duplex. This reduced our rental income, but it should be better for the rest of the year. 

  • Real estate crowdfunding: $2,400. Our real estate crowdfunding income is doing quite well. You can read more on the RE Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Dividend Income: $1,592. Dividend income is a bit low, but it should improve soon.
  • Rental income: $309. I increased the rent this year so rental income should improve soon.
  • Blog income: $1,580. My blog income is decreasing. I might need to get a real part-time job if it doesn’t bottom out soon.

Spending: $9,838

In 2023, I plan to spend about $50,000. That’s the same budget as last year. However, we won’t travel as much so our annual spending should be lower than last year.

Here are some details. Actually, I’ll only focus on a few categories to keep it simple.  

  • Housing: $3,745. This category includes mortgage, home insurance, HOA fees, property taxes, utilities, home improvement, repair, and furnishing. We live in a duplex so our housing cost is lower than many households.
  • Travel: $3,316. We’ll visit Disneyland for spring break. It’s a big splurge, but we want our son to experience it once. Mrs. RB40 and I enjoyed Disneyland when we were young.
  • Groceries: $1,060. It looks like we’ll spend a lot more on groceries this year. Eating out is so expensive so we’re cooking at home more often. Inflation is bad.
  • Kid: $769. RB40Jr’s activities – Wushu class, toys, and archery range.  
  • Parent: $500. My brothers and I send $250/month to our parents to help with expenses. They live in Thailand so their cost of living is much lower.

Savings: -$3,956

We spent more than our FIRE income so we had to borrow from savings. This should improve soon.

February 2023 wrap up

February was a strange month for me. I had a hard time adjusting back to life in the U.S., but I was a lot less stressed out. It’s nice to be home. Our finance wasn’t good, either. We spent way more than normal. The YTD cash flow looks bad, but it should improve after a few months. Income and expenses can be lumpy in early retirement. Anyway, I’m looking forward to warmer weather. It’ll be easier to get out and walk more. Longer days will be great.

All right, that’s it today. Did you have a good February? Did you spend a ton of money like many American families?

Passive income is the key to early retirement. These days, I’m investing in commercial properties with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the United States. Go check them out!

Disclosure: We may receive a referral fee if you signup for a service through the links on this page.

The following two tabs change content below.
Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. After 16 years of investing and saving, he achieved financial independence and retired at 38.

Passive income is the key to early retirement. This year, Joe is investing in commercial real estate with CrowdStreet. They have many projects across the USA so check them out!

Joe also highly recommends Personal Capital for DIY investors. They have many useful tools that will help you reach financial independence.
Get update via email:
Sign up to receive new articles via email
We hate spam just as much as you

17 thoughts on “February 2023 FIRE Update”

  1. My February spending was not bad, which was a surprise. I really looked at my grocery bill, looked at the sales that week as I meal planned and clipped online coupons. Really made a difference in feeding a family of four.

  2. Wow, 11 inches of snow – that’s a rough one! Somehow we got extremely lucky this year in northeastern Ohio – this was probably the mildest winter I can remember in a long time. We only had a couple of times where the snow actually stuck. I’ll count my blessings on this one! 🙂

    Can’t wait to hear how your Disneyland trip goes!

  3. What’s your theory for the reduction in blog income? Recession already wearing on advertisers?

    By the way, you share so many food pictures here you should really get a good camera or lighting for food pictures. Would make these updates all the more delicious :P.

  4. We moved to mostly plant based diet late 2021. It took some time to find some good recipes but happy that we did. 2022 was the first year that my husband’s cholesterol was on a normal level, ever! What we find is taking out the meat on food that we actually like or substituting it. Chili for example, taste the same without meat. We added chickpea instead. Same with chicken shawarma – we took the chicken out and added chickpea instead. In terms of cost, it’s not really cheaper. Our household love love fruits. Cosmic crisp apple is more expensive than chicken, per lb and we go through it! Tofu or fish is not really cheaper either. But it’s worth it! Disneyland is sooo much fun! We already took the boys 2x there. It doesn’t need to be expensive if you can hack the hotel and flights and limit eating out. If you go during the spring break, splurge for Genie+. We were there in January, just after the holidays, so we didn’t have to fight the crowds. Our kids are also young (5 and 2) and most of the rides that they like is not genie+ eligible. But we never really wait that long on lines because it wasn’t crowded. Have fun there!

    • Thank you for your input. I’m doing pretty well with seafood recipes, but I’m still struggling with vegetarian recipes.
      I’ll keep working on it.
      We got the Genie+. I don’t want to spend more time waiting around. That’s one thing I hate about going to an amusement park.

  5. I heard about the snowstorm in Portland and people leaving their cars..crazy! I thought that only happened in mountain towns. We only got a little rain down in Sacramento but it was fine.

    Plant-based eating is not only healthier, it also cheaper so good for FI. I’ve been surprised at the many ways to make homemade falafel with black beans, quinoa, and other ingredients.

    Would love to hear your take on what led you to stick with RE crowdfunding over your experience with publicly traded REITs.

    • I think REITs are too connected to the stock market. If the stock market crashes, REITs drop too.
      I want some diversity and RE crowdfunding provides that. ROI is better than REITs for me as well. I’ve been pretty lucky.

  6. That’s the “wonderful” thing about home ownership — the constant maintenance and upkeep.

    Can you elaborate on what the $2500 spending was for specifically ?

  7. ‘Lumpy’ is a great way to put it. Our income as typical American worker bees is nice and predictable, but monthly spending swings between $3500 and $15000 depending on which major house system needed replacement or what health issue rocketed us straight to our out-of-pocket max. It’s a little terrifying to think of handling that solely out of investment returns in ten years or so!

  8. The way this post started, I was expecting a lower happiness score. I’m in a lower happiness place, but I think it will all turn around soon as we go on vacation and the weather gets better.

    Even though you had a negative cash flow month, it’s just FI stuff, right? If you were to add in your wife’s income, it’s all in the positives right?

    • I’m happy to be home. It was a bit stressful in Thailand. I missed most of the PNW winter so I’m thankful for that.
      Yes, if we add my wife’s income, we’d be in the green.


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.