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September 2020 Goals and Financial Update


Sept. Financial Update 350Hey everyone, September is over! Wow, 2020 has been quite a year and there are still 3 months left. I’ve been trying my best to ignore the news, but there are so many things going on. Will life calm down in 2021? I really hope so, but who knows? Anyway, I’m looking forward to voting by mail-in ballot later this month. I hope you will exercise your right to vote. It’s so important. Just imagine how it’d feel to not have a vote. Billions of people still don’t have this privilege. So go out and vote! (Or stay in and vote by mail like everyone in Oregon.)

On the personal finance side, we had a great month in September. Our income streams came together to hit a YTD high. Yes! At the same time, our spending remained very low because we didn’t do much. We just stayed home, relaxed, and went for hikes in local natural areas. Also, virtual school started so we’re all glued to the screens for 10+ hours per day. I think optometrists are going to get a lot of customers with this kind of eye strain on kids. Our cash flow was great, but our net worth took a small hit. The stock market dropped a bit last month. I think that’s healthy after a strong run up over the last few months. The recovery is slowing down and investors are realizing that it’ll be a long slog, IMO.

Okay, I’ll go over my goals first and then share the details of our net worth, cash flow, and savings.

2020 Goals

Here is my goal scheduling 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. That way, you’ll see which goals need extra attention.

Sept NY goals

Many of my goals are not going well this year. I started out with reasonable goals and I won’t be able to accomplish many of them. My wife and son are home all day so I don’t have much time to work on these goals. That’s life, though. There will be setbacks and some years will be harder than others. We just need to survive 2020 and hope for better days ahead. It’s okay to have lower expectations this year.

Financial Goals

  • Real Estate Crowdfunding $150,000. In 2020, I added $28,000 to our RE crowdfunding investment with CrowdStreet. Several projects completed this year and I want to reinvest.
  • FI Ratio > 110%. This is my main goal for 2020. The FI ratio is passive income divided by expense. Once we reach 100% consistently, then we’ll be set to retire in style. This goal is good so far. We’re at 133% for 2020 so far. I think we’ll be okay with this one.
  • Saving rate > 50%. This one is really tough because I use gross income. If you make a lot of money, your tax rate is higher. If you don’t, then your expenses overwhelm the income. Only a few households can reach 50% saving rate. This year is going really well and we are saving 61%! Our spending is way lower than usual.
  • Side hustle income > $5,000. We made $573 from charging electric scooters in September. The weather is starting to get colder and rainier so this side hustle won’t last too long. I plan to start pet sitting once things are back to normal. I also made $10 in 2 minutes with Product Tube, not bad.

Personal Branding

  • Content creation > 178 blog posts and videos. This is a huge amount, but we’re ahead of the pace. In September, I posted 13 blog posts and 9 videos! We ramped up the video releases.
  • Refresh RB40. This one is on hold for now. I’ll get back to it when things are back to normal. I can’t focus when RB40Jr is home.
  • 1,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel. Currently, we have 115 subscribers. This is a slow process that will take way more than one year. We’ll keep working on it.

Personal Goals

  • Visit Thailand. I wanted to visit my parents in the summer, but that got canceled. I still want to go, but the rules are stringent. We’ll have to see how the situation develops over the next few months.
  • Travel hack 200,000 points. I don’t think we’ll accomplish this goal in 2020. There are too many other problems to deal with this year.
  • Update our Will. I purchased Quicken WillMaker & Trust and made a Will. We’ll talk to a lawyer when things are back to normal. This will have to do for now.
  • Happiness level > 9. My happiness level was dropped to 7 last month. My mom has dementia and it is getting bad. She wandered off, fell, and got hurt. It really stressed me out and I didn’t sleep well for a long time. She lives with my dad in Thailand so I can’t help much except to send money. She’ll have to go to a care facility very soon. If she still lived with us, she’d be in a facility already because I wouldn’t be able to take care of her. My dad said she functions like a 2-year-old toddler now. She can’t do anything by herself. Dementia is the worst. This is why I really want to go to Thailand this year.
Sept Happiness

Net Worth (+4% YTD)

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see the progress we made. 2020 is crazy. I have no idea what the market is going to do next. Luckily, I learned from experience to keep investing. This year, our net worth is up 4% so far. That’s not great, but I’ll take it.

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. That spike at the end of the month is due to Zillow overvaluing our home. I need to decouple it somehow.

Sept net worth A

2020 Passive Income ($34,943 YTD)

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

Sept passive income

Surprisingly, our passive income held up quite well.

  • Real Estate Crowdfunding– RE crowdfunding is great this year. Several projects wrapped up and paid out. You can read more detail here on our RE crowdfunding income page.
  • Rentals– We have two rental units and both our tenants have solid jobs. For now, they are both paying rent on time.
  • Dividend– This one looks good so far, but I’m sure companies will cut dividends if this pandemic sticks around through 2021.

Our FI ratio looks good so far at 133%. We didn’t spend much this year.

*FI ratio = passive income/expense

September 2020 Cash Flow

Our cash flow was excellent in September. Our various income streams came together and hit a YTD high. Yes! It was our best month in a long while.

This is the Sankey diagram for September. You can get a quick overview here and see the details below.

Sept Sankey

Gross Income (target > $13,000/month)

This year, I increased our income target increased to $13,000/month. If we make this much every month, we should be able to save around 50%. Unfortunately, our income streams stumbled during the pandemic. My blog income decreased substantially. IMO, people are not as interested in early retirement when the economy stumbles. There are more important problems to worry about, right? Also, I haven’t been able to focus so maybe my writing quality dropped. Anyway, September was a rare good month for our income streams. They were all pretty strong. Oh, we also finally got our tax refund. That’s another reason why our income was higher than usual.

  • Mrs. RB40’s job: $8,518. Mrs. RB40’s job continues to be the pillar of our household income. We will survive without her income, but this whole pandemic would be a lot more stressful.
  • Blog Income: $2,742. The best month since February.
  • Real estate crowdfunding: $1,846. RE crowdfunding was excellent last month. A project completed and we got a nice little payout. You can see how we’re doing at the RE Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Rental Income: $641. Good rental income this month, no repairs. Read more at the Rental Property Passive Income page.
  • Dividend Income: $1,938. Our dividend income was very good in September. See more details on my Dividend Passive Income page.
  • Interest Income: $1.
  • Side hustle: $583. We made about $573 by charging scooters around our home. RB40Jr gets 50% of this because he helped me collect the scooters. I also made $10 in 2 minutes with Product Tube, not bad!
  • Misc: $2,270. We finally got our tax refund back from the IRS. Now, where is my stimulus?!

Monthly Spending (target < $4,166/month)

This year, I plan to spend about $50,000 so our monthly spending budget is $4,166/month. For now, we are way under budget due to the pandemic. Like many families, we cut back and didn’t spend much so we can conserve some cash. However, we spent some money on entertainment and clothing last month. Our total was still pretty low, just $2,718. Not bad at all.

  • Housing: $1,152. This category includes mortgage, home insurance, HOA fees, property taxes, utilities, home improvement, repair, and furnishing.
  • Parents: $500. I’m sending $500/month to my parents.
  • Groceries: $501. This is right around the average. Here are a few dishes we cooked. Check them out and subscribe to our YouTube channel!

My Pad Thai recipe


Bacon Kimchi Fried Rice

  • Travel: $0. I’m ready for another road trip…
  • Entertainment: $164. We supported the local businesses and ordered some takeout. I also ordered several Gunpla plastic models for fun. I’ll share some pictures on my Instagram after we put them together.
  • Health: $30. I checked in with my dentist and hygienist.
  • Bills: $23. My term life insurance payment.
  • Transportation: $128. Car insurance, gas, and public transportation.
  • Kid: $0. I got some new clothes and shoes for our son, but I’ll put them under clothing.
  • Pet: $0.
  • Clothing: $166. Our son is growing so quickly so I got him some new clothes and shoes. I also get a few things for myself. Most of my clothes are so old and ratty. They are comfortable so I rarely buy new stuff until they fall apart.
  • Misc: $45. Mrs. RB40 picked up some heating pads for our aching old bodies. Also, a few other small items.


I don’t count these as personal spending.

  • Taxes and deductions: $2,380.
  • 401k savings: $4,770. Mrs. RB40 contributed $1,520 to her 401k. I contributed $3,250 to my i401k. Yes! I maxed out my retirement contribution for the year, $19,500.
  • Roth IRAs: $1,000. We contributed $500 each to our Roth IRAs every month.
  • 529 College Savings plan: $0. We contributed $4,000 earlier this year. We’re done for 2020.
  • Extra Savings: $7,671.

2020 Savings ($83,004 YTD)

Wow, that’s a lot of money saved. We are very fortunate to be able to do this. 2020 is a crazy year, but our expenses are much lower than usual. Our income streams are also holding up relatively well so we are getting through this pandemic pretty well.

  • Joe’s 401k: $23,375. I can contribute to my i401k as an employee and the employer. So my total contribution is usually higher than the max.
  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $14,420
  • Roth IRAs: $9,000
  • 529 College Savings: $4,000
  • Extra savings: $32,209

YTD 2020 saving rate = 62%

September 2020 Wrap Up

Overall, September was a great month for us. Our net worth dropped a bit, but it’s no big deal. Cash flow is much more important on a monthly basis. Personal finance was good, but I was stressed out about other things. I was worried about my mom and politics was insane last month. I really hope the news cycles will slow down next year.

How about you? Did you have a good month? Are you tired of all the craziness in the US yet? It’s stressful even if you don’t care about politics.

The following two tabs change content below.
Joe started Retire by 40 in 2010 to figure out how to retire early. He spent 16 years working in computer design and enjoyed the technical work immensely. However, the job became too stressful and Joe retired from his engineering career to become a stay-at-home dad/blogger at 38. Today, he blogs about financial independence, early retirement, investing, and living a frugal lifestyle.

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.

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{ 24 comments… add one }
  • [email protected] October 9, 2020, 12:17 pm

    Hearts out to you and yours for your family’s battle with dementia. I hope your mother improves and you have an opportunity to enjoy quality time with her, and them, in Thailand relatively soon.

    Sorry, Joe.

  • GYM October 6, 2020, 10:28 am

    Sorry to hear about your mom wandering off and falling 🙁
    Is Thailand open to US visitors right now (as long as you quarantine for 14 days)? (Sorry I am not aware of what that countries policies are)

    Congrats on the impressive September dividend income though!

    • retirebyforty October 6, 2020, 3:53 pm

      Thailand isn’t open to regular tourists yet. They are only letting a few categories in – work visa, medical tourism, etc…
      I can go because I’m a citizen, but I can only buy a one-way ticket. It might be difficult to find a ticket to come back so I’m postponing until I can buy a round trip ticket.
      All incoming passengers will be quarantined for 14 days. They haven’t had a local COVID case in months.

  • iqra October 5, 2020, 9:10 am

    hi joe..it was nice reading your article..am now also thinking to start any passive income to retire from my job as jobs are quite hectic

  • revanche @ a gai shan life October 5, 2020, 7:55 am

    I’m so sorry about your mom’s dementia, that’s such a rough path.

    We’re still coping ok here with all the stuff going on. We’re still staying quarantined and remote schooling. With my compromised health, the incoming baby, and not knowing who is being careful and who is being foolish, we’re likely to prefer to do remote school through the end of the school year. Pragmatically, it is simply not worth the risk of catching anything when having even one of us sick will impact everyone significantly.

    I’m a little surprised at how quickly money bloggers are back to an “ignore politics” considering how very political money is. It’s a shame people still don’t seem to see how much hundreds of thousands of lives have been severely impacted by our politics. It’s stressful but I’d feel like it was an abdication of my responsibility as one of the people to weather this situation with good fortune to ignore politics. It matters if we don’t want 2021 to be another lost year. I’d like to be able to return to some kind of normal life outside our homes next year but that’s not happening if 45 gets another term.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2020, 11:49 am

      Thanks. Take care of yourself. It’ll be busy with a new baby.
      I think we’ll be virtual schooling for the rest of the year too. It’s going well so far.
      The kids are a lot more independent this year. I don’t have to sit next to my son the whole day anymore.
      I can’t deal with politics right now. I’m already stressed out.
      I’ll vote and encourage people to do so. That’s about all I can handle for now.

  • Jerry October 5, 2020, 7:46 am

    Hi Joe, a new reader here. Do you share your asset allocation, your FIRE number and does your NW include housing equity?

  • Jim @ Route to Retire October 5, 2020, 7:30 am

    So sorry to hear about your mom, Joe. That’d be tough for anyone but I’d imagine being in a country that far away from you makes it even harder. I hope you’re able to get back there soon to see her.

    I had to look up Product Tube to see what it was. That’s not my cup of tea but Faith would love it. Looking at the terms, it looks like she can join under the supervision of an adult. That might be something fun and still educational for her to do.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2020, 11:46 am

      Yes, I hope Thailand opens up soon. I want to visit before her memory worsens.
      I only did 2 projects so far for Product Tube. One got rejected.
      It’s not bad if the product is right.

  • freddy smidlap October 5, 2020, 7:02 am

    we appreciate you using quicken for that last will. we own intuit shares and need the support!

    i can’t take the covid/politic talk. if people come over and open up with that i do my best to shut that negativity down. “we’re here for a good time – not a long time” a wise song once said.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2020, 11:39 am

      You’re welcome! I don’t want to talk politics either. Everyone already made up their mind. No point getting mad…

  • Ed October 5, 2020, 6:58 am

    It’s great to see your progress, Joe. Congratulations on another solid month. We just did our quarterly review too, and it’s strange to see decent progress despite the pandemic. We’re very fortunate. I’m glad to see the blog income is recovering a bit for you. I’m sorry about your mom though – that has to be really hard. I hope things improve and you can raise your happiness level again, soon. That’s more important than the other increases!

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2020, 11:38 am

      Thanks! I think once my mom gets into a care facility, we’ll worry less about her. That might be a while off, though.

  • Lazy Man and Money October 5, 2020, 3:36 am

    Sorry to hear about your mother getting worse. Hope everything works well with the travel to see her.

    That’s a really good total for the scooters, even if it is going to be a short season this year. With so much screen-time for school, that’s got to be a nice break.

    I noticed that passive income from tax advantaged accounts seems to be on pace for a big hit this year. Is that due to dividends or something I missed?

    I have watching that Pad Thai recipe on my to-do list. Many of the recipes aren’t really my thing, but that’s certainly one that interests me.

    • mary w October 5, 2020, 9:57 am

      Not Joe (obv), but generally December is the biggest month for dividends and capital gains distributions from stocks and mutual funds. I’m sure that’s at least part of it.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2020, 11:37 am

      I might not be able to go this year. I can go as a Thai citizen, but only with a one-way ticket.
      That’s not a good option because I have to come back to the US. Once things are a bit better, they should let people buy round trip tickets.
      No big change in the tax advantaged accounts. Maybe you looked at the wrong line?
      Good luck with Pad Thai!

  • Dave @ Accidental FIRE October 5, 2020, 2:00 am

    The more you ignore the political craziness and the toxic people who pay attention to it, the better person you become. Nice month!

  • Ernie Zelinski October 5, 2020, 12:23 am

    Under the conditions, you are doing great financially. A lot of people must envy your family’s financial position.

    Sorry to hear that your mother has progressed to the state she is in. That must be hard to deal with. I have a younger ghost writer friend by the name of Oliver. His father is around my age and Oliver and his mother put his father in a care facility because of his dementia. Another younger friend Igor has a father my age who about a year ago had a stroke and now is not able to function well mentally. I guess I have to feel fortunate that at my age I still have my mental capabilities to write books and manage money given that I am single and have no wife or kids to look after me.

    Although my revenues and income are down big time from last year, I am still doing well financially, not spending as much money as I had expected. So today I made a $950 charitable donation to the Bissell Centre to make it a total of $3,700 that I have contributed to charities this year. Apparently, the average Canadian only contributes $250 a year.

    To deal with my boredom in Edmonton, my home town, I just made my 4th trip to Vancouver for a week since mid-March. On my flight back I discovered that I could use 5 of my 35 e-points plus $75 to upgrade to Business Class, which was a no-brainer. Only 3 other seats of the 14 seats in Business Class were occupied. I will likely fly to Vancouver again for a week in November and for another week in December, particularly if I can book Business Class flights with my Aeroplan miles.

    Now back to working on my next book “Money Wisdom for Smart People – Dummies Don’t Bother!”

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2020, 11:35 am

      Dementia is horrible. If my mom still lives in the US, we’d have to put her in a care facility. I wouldn’t be able to take care of her.
      I think you’ll do just fine. You’re keeping busy and using your brain to do creative work. That will help keep dementia away. Have a great trip to Vancouver. The upgrade sounds great, super cheap.

  • Mr. Tako October 4, 2020, 11:52 pm

    Looks like another solid month Joe! Nice job on pulling in all that income and keeping the spending low. It reminds me of my own September! 😉

    Personally, I try not to worry about politics and stupid-crazy people. The opinions of others is not something I can control — so why let it stress me?

    Take the high-ground my friend. Don’t fight in the pigsty.

    • retirebyforty October 5, 2020, 11:32 am

      Thanks! I try not to worry about politics too. I just look at the headlines and try to ignore the rest. So many things going on…

  • WTK October 4, 2020, 11:32 pm

    Hi Joe,

    Another great month for you. I hope that you achieve most of 2020 goals.


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