March 2021 Goals & Financial Update

Hey everyone, the first quarter of 2021 is over! Wow, that was fast. I’m starting to feel very optimistic about 2021. It seems like life is going back to normal very soon. Next week, we’ll be eligible for the Covid vaccine and I want to get it done ASAP. Also, RB40Jr is going back to school next week after a whole year away. He is only going for 2 hours in the morning and then it’s back to online learning the rest of the day. But that’s still much better than 2020. He needs to get out of the house. Oh man, it’ll be so nice to have a few hours to myself again. Things are looking up. Life won’t be exactly the same as before Covid, but it’ll be a lot better than last year.

On the personal finance side, we had a very nice month. The stock market keeps going up. Do I detect a hint of a bubble? Not really. I think everyone is ready for life to go back to normal and we are all looking to spend some $$$. The economy will be booming for the rest of 2021. At least, that’s what I hope for. Anyway, our net worth increased and we had a positive cash flow in March. We still didn’t spend much money. However, I think we’ll loosen up after we get the vaccine. The weather is getting much nicer too so we’ll be out and about a lot more.

2021 Goals

Here is my 2021 goal sheet. 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. That way, you can see which goals need extra attention.

All right! 2021 is turning out to be a great year for me. I already accomplished 4 of my goals and I’m making good progress on others. Here are the details.

Financial Goals

  • Real Estate Crowdfunding $150,000. I saw 2 apartment renovations project on CrowdStreet, but they disappeared after just one day. It seems the appetite for real estate crowdfuning is real. I set $25,000 aside to invest in a good project so this goal should make some progress soon. You can read more in the passive income section below.
  • FI Ratio > 110%. As usual, this is my main goal for 2021. The FI ratio is passive income divide by expense. After one quarter, I’m very optimistic. We still don’t spend much this year and I don’t think that will change anytime soon. I’m very with 132% in Q1.
  • 1-year cash for Mrs. RB40 mini ER. Mrs. RB40 plans to take a mini-retirement in 2022. I want to have a nice cash cushion before then. Usually, we spend less than $50,000 per year so that’s my target. Currently, we have about $22,000 in our saving account.
  • Side hustle income > $3,000. This goal is just for fun. Side hustling is a good way for early retirees to keep busy and stay active. This year I plan to charge scooters, take surveys, and sign up for cash bonuses. In March, I made $655 from charging scooters. That’s not bad at all. I also made $170 from doing health checkups and completing health plans on the Blue Cross site.

RB40

  • Refresh Retire by 40 – Done! Whew! I finally completed this goal. It has been on this list for over 2 years. This work required a big block of time and focus. I just couldn’t do it at home. I only finished because I was stuck in quarantine for 2 weeks and could focus on it. I hope you like the new design.
  • 1,000 subscribers on my YouTube channel. Currently, we have 278 subscribers on our YouTube channel. Unfortunately, I didn’t make any new video in March. But we’ll get back on track in April. Making video clips is hard!

Personal Goals

  • Visit Thailand. Done! I went to Thailand in January. I spent 6 weeks there to check on my mom and reconnect with families and friends. It was great. I would love to retire there 6 months/year.
  • Weight < 135 lbs. Done! In Thailand, the serving size was much smaller than what I’m used to. I lost weight and it is now 133 pounds. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep it under 135 lbs. for the rest of 2021.
  • Estate planning. Done! We started the process with our lawyer last year. I thought it won’t be done until March, but we completed it right before I left. That’s perfect timing.
  • V for vasectomy. I saw my doctor for an annual physical before I flew to Thailand. She said she can refer me to someone when I get back. We don’t want any more kids. This one is WIP.
  • Happiness level > 8. March was a 9. I had a relaxing time and didn’t stress out much. It was a good month.

Net Worth (+4.8% YTD)

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see our progress. Our net increased by 4.8% since the beginning of 2021. That’s insanely good, IMO. My current target is 10% increase per year. Q1 was a great quarter. Let’s see if the market can keep on rising…

Here is a chart of our net worth from Personal Capital.

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

2021 Passive Income ($10,288 YTD)

Here is a quick summary of our passive income. You can see all the details on my Passive Income page.

March was a great month on the passive income side. Well, it was slow on the real estate side, but everything else was fantastic.

  • Real estate crowdfunding was very slow. I received just $26 from our investments. It should improve next month.
  • Rental income was -$3. One of our tenants is still working from Europe and pays 50%. We’re running a little negative every month until he comes back. It’s not a huge deal because we use his area as working space. It’s helpful while everyone is working/schooling from home. He plans to come back in April so our rental income should see a nice boost very soon.
  • Dividend was great in March. We received $1,927 from our dividend portfolio.   

In Q1, our FI ratio was 132%. That’s really good, but it’s mostly due to low spending. Our passive income is still a little low.   

*FI ratio = passive income/expense

March 2021 Cash Flow

Our cash flow was good in March. We didn’t spend much and saved 60% of our income.

Here is the Sankey diagram. You can get a quick overview and see the details below.

Gross Income

Our gross income was solid last month.

  • Mrs. RB40’s job: $8,660.
  • Blog income: $2,298. We had a good month at RB40. However, I spent $1,500 to purchase the domain – retireby40.com. I hope that was worth it.
  • Real estate crowdfunding: $26. A slow month for RE crowdfunding. You can read more at the RE Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Rental income: -3. The rent was reduced 50% for one tenant while he works from Europe. It’s not profitable at this rate. He’ll be back next week so our rental income should look much better next time. Read more at the Rental Property Passive Income page.
  • Dividend Income: $1927. Solid month for dividend income. See more details on my Dividend Passive Income page.
  • Interest Income: $0.
  • Side hustle & Misc: $1,072. Scooter charging, health checkup, participating in the wellness plan, and a tax refund!  I had a nice month with side hustles.

Monthly Spending

This year, I plan to spend about $50,000. So our monthly spending budget is $4,166/month. March was another low spend month. We still haven’t got our Covid vaccine and we’re spending most our time at home.

  • Housing: $1,219. This category includes mortgage, home insurance, HOA fees, property taxes, utilities, home improvement, repair, and furnishing.
  • Parents: $500. My brothers and I each sent $500/month to my parent. They don’t have much retirement savings. Fortunately, they live in Thailand so $1,500 is enough. I also own the condo they live in so their housing expense is very small.
  • Groceries: $445. This is a bit lower than our average. We cooked most of our meals at home. In March, we only ordered out twice.

Here are some of the dinners I made.

Osso buco – I used beef shank instead of lamb for this one. It turned out very well, tender and succulent. However, RB40Jr said it taste just like beef stew…

Gaeng Hung Lay – A specialty from Northern Thailand. This is pork belly curry with ginger, peanuts, and onion. It was fantastic, but we can’t eat this too often. This much deliciousness can’t be good for our health.

Kanom Krok – I got this aluminum pan when I was in Thailand. Kanom krok is a coconut milk and rice flour dessert/snack. These were delicious.  

  • Bills: $23.
  • Transportation: $119. This was for gasoline, insurance, public transportation, and maintenance.
  • Entertainment: $74. We order out twice in March.  
  • Kid: $0.
  • Pet: $0.
  • Travel: $377. I reserved a beach house for June. I also reserved a campsite at Yellowstone in July. Summer is going to be great this year.
  • Health: $124. I went to see my dentist and got some prescriptions refilled.

Others

I don’t count these as personal spending.

  • Taxes and deductions: $2,380.

2021 Savings ($25,400 YTD)

Alright! 2021 is starting off very well here.

  • Joe’s 401k: $8,000. I made some extra i401k contribution for 2020 to minimize taxes.  
  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $4,500. She contributes $750 every paycheck.
  • Roth IRAs: $3,000
  • 529 College Savings: $0.
  • Extra savings: $9,900

YTD 2021 saving rate = 63%

March 2021 wrap up

March was a nice month for us. Our income streams were strong and we didn’t spend much. The weather incrementally improved over the month and it’s beautiful now. Life is good. I can’t complain.

How was March for you?  I hope you had a great month as well.

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

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

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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.
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23 thoughts on “March 2021 Goals & Financial Update”

  1. This is really well-written Joe! Really drives home the point of how important a diversified portfolio is in generating passive income. I’m writing about my side hustle currently and thinking how to expand the options. The format of this post is also very easy to read. Maybe I need to switch from Wix to WP!

    Reply
  2. Congrats on another great month. I’m a little jealous of your scooter side hustle. I would totally do that, but there are no scooters here. It’s great that people are out scootering and it’s not just a ghost town like last year.

    I think my son is probably going to be a YouTube subscriber. He’s enjoying cooking shows like Chopped.

    Reply
      • It may be hard. I was an early mover so now I have hundreds of reviews, so that social proof keeps me getting more business. I know that Rover has some things to boost new and more active people (changing their profile and such) in the search engine.

        Reply
  3. Wow, you did a great job improving your FI ratio. I am on my journey to FIRE and has been tracking my investment incomes and household expenses. I also started to share my finances on my blog. Hopefully, I will finally be able to retire early some day.

    Reply
    • Thank you! The FI ratio usually looks really good at the end of Q1. We spend more money later in the year. Vacation, summer, and what not. Winter is pretty slow for us. Good luck!

      Reply
  4. You’re certainly doing great with your targets. I’m also not doing badly with mine…I wonder if progress will slow once we have the chance to go out and do more things? Good news that you can get your Covid vaccination too, I am eligible for one in the UK but that’s not much help as I’m currently in France who are unfortunately going slower.

    Reply
  5. Great month! It’s kinda crazy how we’ve had all this insane growth but to factually say that it doesn’t quite look like a bubble. I don’t even know how the market is going to stop because as you’ve mentioned, everyone is itching and dying to go out and spend money again.

    Plus all the ongoing stimulus that’s going to happen. Who knows?

    One day, I want to retire and become a good chef. Your personal finance blog is inspiring me to be a cook!

    Reply
    • I don’t really know either. It just feels very optimistic. The bars and restaurants are packed. People are out and about again. We are all ready to go out and spend some money. Have fun cooking!

      Reply
  6. Another great month you’ve had Joe, nicely done! FI ratio of over 130% is extremely impressive. Looks like you’ve been busy cooking different meals too. Very cool.

    The vaccine rollout in the US is certainly faster than here in Canada. Really hope we can go back to the old normal soon.

    Reply
    • Thank you! I think the FI ratio is usually a bit high after Q1. We haven’t spent much. We’ll have more expenses in spring and summer. I hope you can get the vaccine soon.

      Reply
  7. Great month, Joe! That’s cool you’ll be able to get the vaccine next month. I just got an email this morning saying that I’m now eligible to get it (Austin, TX). Too bad that we’re here until July because I’d love to get that done ASAP as well!

    Nice job on buying retireby40.com – are you going to make that the main domain and then redirect all retireby40.org traffic to it or vice versa?

    Reply
  8. Way to go! How do you minimize your Bills category so well? Is internet included there? And $19 for transportation including insurance – do you own a vehicle?

    Thanks for another great update!

    Reply
    • The only bill there is my life insurance. All the other housing-related bills are in the housing category.
      And I made a typo with $19. It was actually $119. I fixed it. Thanks for pointing that out.

      Reply
  9. Looks like you had another great month Joe! I can definitely feel your optimism rising in your writing. Indeed, it does seem like thing are getting a little bit better every day. We had a great March too. More dividend income than we needed!

    With any luck this “fourth wave” I keep hearing about won’t happen and we all won’t have to go into lockdown again. Here’s to hoping!

    Reply
    • I’m quite optimistic. The nicer weather helps a lot too.
      We plan to be safe after we get our vaccine. Last weekend, the bars and restaurants nearby were packed.
      It was outside seating, but still way too many people for my comfort. People are really ready to get back to normal.

      Reply
  10. It looks like you are nailing it again in saving money and having your net worth go up. Great job.

    I admire you for being able to put your financial information out there for others to see. Very few people are willing to do that. In fact, most Americans and Canadians will more openly talk about their sex lives than about how much money they make or are worth. I have no problem telling people how much I make and am worth. But Canadians particularly are often resentful if I tell the truth about my finances. Heck, I once posted about how much money I give to charities ($6,000 in 2020 but a lot more in some other years), which is a lot more than the average Canadian gives. Instead of complimenting me for having given as much as I did, several sad-sack socialists thrashed me for having said how much I give compared to others.

    I see you are planning some travel as soon as you can. Me too! Canada’s “Globe and Mail” newspaper recently did an article on the pent-up travel that individuals plan in the future. They called it “revenge travel”. For 2022, I have already booked two Business Class flights (on my Aeroplan miles earned from travel hacking) to Honolulu, one in January and one in February. I am about to book another Business Class flight to Honolulu for March 2022. Those 3 flights will be my revenge for the cold winter I had to endure in Edmonton this last year without having traveled to anywhere warm.

    Reply
    • I think we should talk more openly about our personal finance. People can learn a lot if they just loosen up.
      I think everyone is ready to spend some money. We’ve been cooped up for way too long.
      Hawaii is a great option. I think you only need a negative Covid test and you’re set.
      You’ll have a great time.

      Reply

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