September 2023 FIRE Update

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Hey everyone! Autumn is here. The day is getting shorter and colder. Most Portlanders have been waiting for the comforting cloudy days, but not me. I love the long bright summer days. Lately, I feel the Pacific Northwest isn’t the right place for me anymore. In a few years, I’ll move to a warmer location. Meanwhile, I’ll embrace the greyness and get ready to hunker down for the winter.

Financially, September was a rough month for us. The stock market didn’t perform well and our net worth decreased a bit. Unfortunately, our cash flow was also negative. We spent a lot more money than expected. Our old dryer stopped working. The motor was seized solid. That old Maytag was from the 80s so I opted to purchase a new one instead of repairing it.

I also paid for a new fence. The old chain-linked fence was only 4 feet tall. It was too easy to climb over and we had several trespassers recently. One guy walked right into our house! The door was open to let in the cool air. Luckily, I was in the living room and escorted him off our property. As a result of this latest intrusion, I got a security door, cameras, and a higher fence. Hopefully, this will stop most casual opportunists from climbing over to grab stuff. Yet, another reason to move to suburbia. Living in the urban core was fun when we were young, but I want more peace and security now that I’m older.

Anyway, the extra housing expenses screwed up our cash flow in September. But it’ll be worth it. What good is money if you aren’t safe?

Alright, I’ll share how I’m doing with my 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 well. Try it out if you can’t keep up with your New Year goals. The key is to review the spreadsheet monthly to track your progress. That way, you can see which goals need extra attention and work on them. Time is running out!

Things are not looking good.

Financial Goals

  • Invest in Real Estate Crowdfunding. I plan to invest in at least one RE crowdfunding project this year. Earlier this year, there was a capital call and I sent in $3,000. 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. However, I’m done this year. My dad is planning to build a beach house in Thailand. I’ll send him some cash soon.
  • FI Ratio > 120%. This is my main goal for 2023. FI ratio is passive income divided by expense. This shows we can maintain our lifestyle with passive income. Unfortunately, our FI ratio dropped below 100% in September. We spent too much money. Hopefully, we can bring it back in Q4.
  • Net worth back to all-time high. This one is entirely dependent on our investment. I don’t have much control over it, but let’s get back to ATH! We accomplished this goal in July so I’m calling this a win. Our net worth dropped a bit since then, but I’m still happy with 2023.

Health Goals

  • 7,500 steps per day. This goal is tough to accomplish. My steps per day dropped like a rock after I came back from Thailand. My average is 5,464 steps per day and dropping. Fortunately, my fitness tracker broke and I can’t track this goal anymore. This one is a fail.  
  • Cook 1 vegetarian/fish per week. I want to cook a healthier meal at least once per week. So far I have cooked 42 healthy meals. That’s steady progress.

Personal Goals

  • Disneyland, zipline, or hot air balloon ride. We visited Disneyland in March. It was great. We enjoyed the trip tremendously. RB40Jr wasn’t impressed with the classic rides, but he loved the newer more thrilling rides. I’m glad we went. Done!
  • Happiness > 8. September was a normal month. No big emotional swing so it got an 8. We spent more than usual, but it didn’t affect my mood.
  • 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. It’s hard to get going on this front. This is my highest priority in September.

Net Worth (+11.8%)

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006. Usually, it is very motivating to see the progress. The power of compounding is unbelievable. The stock market didn’t perform well in September. Our net worth dropped a bit. However, we’re still up 11.8%. I’m still feeling pretty good about 2023.  

The important thing is to keep investing even when the market goes down.

***Important*** My best advice is to stay the course. Do not stop investing. You have 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 to check our net worth and use their free tools. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

September 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 she’ll retire soon. September was our worst month in a long time. Our dryer broke down and we paid for a new backyard fence. These two things drove our housing expenses up and crashed our rental income. This was at the duplex so we split the cost. We also spent on travel. I got tickets to D.C. We’ll meet my brothers there and visit the capital. Hopefully, things will improve next month.  

September 2023 FIRE Income: $4,324

Our FIRE income was good in September, but we spent a lot more than usual. As a result, our cash flow was negative. I’m not stressed out yet. Our finance is solid enough to absorb a few negative months.

  • Real estate crowdfunding: $673. Our real estate crowdfunding income is doing quite well. You can read more on the RE Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Dividend Income: $1,049.    
  • Rental loss: -$2,369. Not good. We replaced a fence and the dryer at the duplex.
  • Blog income: $1,249. Blog income is slowing down significantly.
  • Odd jobs: I made $1,133 from being a delivery driver. But I also spent more than usual on gas. It seems to be a stable side gig so far. I also made $200 from a Safeway class action lawsuit.
  • Interest: $20.

Spending: $8,480

In 2023, I plan to spend about $50,000. That’s the same budget as last year. Unfortunately, we’re trending a bit high. Next year, I probably should plan for a 10% increase in spending.

Here are some details.  

  • Housing: $4,388. This includes mortgage, utilities, furniture, repair, and maintenance. Our housing expense is pretty low because we live in a duplex. We split many expenses with our tenant. The fence was $6,000 and the dryer was $650. Ouch.
  • Transportation: $331.   
  • Travel: $1,263. I got tickets to visit D.C. next month.
  • Entertainment: $267. We ate out a few times.
  • Groceries: $658. My target for grocery expenses is $600 per month.  
  • Health: $144.
  • Misc: $385. I got a new Xbox controller, a sound bar, and a couple of other things.
  • Kid: $664. Wushu and Ultimate Frisbee.   
  • Parent: $300. 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.

Saving: –$6,525

September 2023 wrap-up

September was a rough month financially, but I’m too worried. We don’t spend this much every month. 2023 might be one of those lumpy years. We are spending more than usual on home repair and travel. There are a few months left so maybe it’ll turn out fine. We’ll see how it goes.

That’s it today. Did you have a good month? Are you enjoying the cooler weather?

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 sign up for a service through the links on this page.

Image credit: Olivia Hutcherson

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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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