Well, February 22nd makes it one whole year. I think that's deserving of a top level post, right?
Here are screenshots of the Mint Trends, which has every single expense from the past year categorized. I've added comments on each page. Expenses Overview Auto Expenses Food Expenses Home Expenses Utility Expenses Tax Expenses Healthcare Expenses Entertainment Expenses
Main takeaways, my total expenses for the year was $37,700, but I'm going to dismiss about $15,000 of that as "one time" expenses from paying off my car and my furniture loan. A more reasonable number for my annual spend is $22,700.
With my car payment gone, my highest expense category is Food, averaging $500 per month. This has room for improvement.
Healthcare will look artificially low last year because of taking Tax Credits up front. This year I am not and will be paying $325 per month for health insurance. At ~$4000 per year, this puts healthcare at nearly 20% of my total expenses.
Nothing else is particularly interesting. That $22,700 figure is a reasonable real-world number for me, but for future planning I'd still inflate that to $25,000 just to have more wiggle room. I may look into traveling this year, which would add some expense. Investments:
Vanguard Investments: (All in VTSAX)
- Traditional IRA: $299,000 -> $348,000
- Roth IRA: $14,500 -> $18,150
- Brokerage: $18,400 -> $22,900
- Total Rollup: $331,800 -> $389,100. ~17% return
Other LTCG holdings: $145,000 -> $291,000 (other investment accounts and bitcoin)
HSA Investment Account: $6000 -> $7400, with another $1700 in the "cash" holdings of the HSA.
$9000 cash in Money Market & Checking Account. Finances Going Forward
I had earned income last year so I didn't start my Roth Conversion Ladder last year. This year I decided I will be converting the $12,400 standard deduction + $9600 of the first tax bracket for a nice round $22,000 converted. Yes I'll owe a little bit of taxes, but it sets up my Roth with $22k in 5 years which should cover the majority of my expenses. And with $350k currently in tIRA and converting $22,000 per year, I won't be able to chew through it all before actual retirement age.
I have about $20k from an old stock purchase plan that unlocks come April, which I will be selling and likely moving over to my money market account to shore up my "cash" holdings.
My plan is to not really tap any of my "normal" investment accounts for as long as possible. I've been deferring to selling Bitcoin if I need to move some cash over. Last year I sold 3 bitcoin, one for $9300 in June, and then two at the end of December (for tax year Capital Gains reasons) for $7300 each. These were all LTCG at 0% taxed. AGI for last year is around $35,000. The Living Part:
There's all the boring expenses and financial stuff. Now for the ever painful question that my beloved Grandmother loves to ask, "But gosh, what do you do with all of your time! I can't imagine being retired at your age!"
Step 1, restful sleep. During my working career I lived off 6 hours of sleep every day. It made for exhausting weekends trying to "make it up." And luckily I'm not a generally stressful person or else it'd have been worse. But now I go to bed when I'm tired, and whenever I naturally wake up, I get up. This can lead to VERY weird hours since I'm often an extreme night owl. But I generally get 9-10 perfect restful uninterrupted dream-filled hours of sleep.
I'm betrayed by my "Food Expense" breakdown, but I really am cooking more and eating better. I drink a lot of coffee and water at home and generally try to eat only one meal per day, but sometimes lunch and dinner. I don't normally eat breakfast, just have coffee when I wake up. And did I mention how much less painful it is to go grocery shopping when it's in the middle of the day and everyone's at work. It's so nice.
I spend a lot of time on reddit browsing my front page, and I check out the YouTubers I follow that post daily, then check out any of the irregular posters. Depending on how much good stuff there is, this could go on for a few hours.
I have a lot of hours playing video games. I tend toward puzzle games or building games (Factorio, Satisfactory) because they scratch that itch in my engineering brain. There are times at night where I'll spend hours
on this website: https://www.puzzle-sudoku.com/
and play Sudoku or Nonograms or any of the other puzzle types on the bottom of the page.
I'm doing my best to watch every single last show on Netflix. It's a daunting task, though it's surprising how often I drift back toward watching the same smattering of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes rather than try something new. But I try and take recommendations and work my way through shows.
And Podcasts! The joy of joys is when I come across a new-to-me podcast that has a huge backlog. I found a great ST:TNG rewatch podcast that had 108 episodes already done. I spent like 2 months watching the episode of TNG then immediately listening to their podcast about that episode, repeat repeat repeat. I'm currently working my way through The Adventure Zone, I'm on episode 46 of 155 with them. And they keep advertising the other podcasts The McElroys do so I'm sure I'll roll into one of those next. For many people podcasts are background noise, but I'll often just sit on the couch and concentrate on just listening the podcast.
Outside of home, I can't wait for the weather to get nicer so I can go on more walks. Being a night owl I like going for walks at night. I live near our city center so I'm within blocks of city hall, the main library branch, and the fountain / park.
I jump at any opportunity to hang out with friends. It's just about every weekend that we are getting together to hang out and play board games. Like I mentioned in one of the breakdowns, I've started to play D&D with my buddy and his wife. I'd never played before but he's been DMing for years (but hasn't had a group for 10+ years now). He's glad to be playing again, his wife loves
it, and it's super convenient for them to stay home with the 5 month old daughter. (And baby gets to hang out with Uncle Oracle.)
I get together with former co-workers every few months to keep in touch with them. One in particular I have a standing every-2-month bar date with. I remind them every so often that if they want to go out to lunch ever
to just call me. Personal History
Just a quick personal history in closing. I was an automotive engineer working for OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers in the Metro Detroit area. In the 2008 downturn I lost my job and was unemployed for 2 years and ended up getting my house foreclosed in 2010. By the time i got a job in March of 2010 I was basically at $0. I had a tiny amount in an 401k, had about $20,000 in credit card debt from being unemployed.
But then I got a very well paying engineering job ($108k annual and eligible for time-and-half overtime). I kept living like I was unemployed, spent as little as possible and saved as much as possible. Through my parents I secured a mortgage on a nice 1 Bed / 1 Bath 900 sq ft condo. I paid off my CC debt in less than a year and kept banking cash and maxing my 401k every year.
I heard about bitcoin in early 2013 (from a guildmate in World of Warcraft, believe it or not) and jumped on board. All time bitcoin price chart (log scale) for those unfamiliar with the history.
I got in before the first spike to $1000 in December of 2013, and kept buying throughout the downswing in 2014 / 2015. In 2017 I sold 5.6 BTC for a total of $6000 and paid off the last of my student loans and my car, then a few months later I sold 4.25 BTC for $6700 and paid off the last of my condo mortgage. So in May of 2017 I was officially debt free and had a net worth of about $200,000.
Then in the fall of 2017 was when bitcoin exploded. I knew I had to take profits here. Every time the price went up 10% I sold another bitcoin. $7500, $9000, $10700, $13000, $15500, $18600. I sold all the way up. I ended up selling about $100,000 in bitcoin that year and I pushed most of it into my Roth IRA and Brokerage accounts.
Then I really started thinking about FIRE in early 2018. Started doing the math, tried to see what my expenses would be, and thought I'd give it ago. I've told myself from day 1 that I'd give this trial a solid 2 years. If I don't feel good about it, or the money doesn't seem right, then I'll still only be 40 years old and could (IMO) easily jump right back into an engineering gig. So I targeted early 2019 so I could frontload my 401k for two months, grab the annual bonus, then peace out.
TL:DR: 38, FIREd, Money's looking right, Life is feeling right, everything is fine
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