Financial Independence Progress Report for October 2017

It is one of those slow dividend months again….not much action (which is good) but not much money coming in either ūüėź So, lets directly jump into the numbers for¬†October 2017. This time, I will post a bit early as I will be heading out for a work related assignment and will not have the time until well into next month.

10/29/2017
Emergency Fund $60K Done
College Fund (80K) 58.61% 59.62%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $551.80 (10/2016) $528.04 (10/2017)
Retirement Fund 78.74% 79.39%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 5.86% 5.70%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • My passive Income for October 2017 is approximately 4% lower¬†than October 2016. The only reason for this decrease is that I re-positioned my investments to provide more dividends in the months of Mar, June, Sep and December instead of my older investments that used to have a dividend stream in Jan, April,¬† July and October.
    • My total dividends at this point in time are actually up compared to last year
      • At this time in 2016, average dividends per month was $603.4.
      • As of now in 2017, average dividends per month is $709.60.
      • So, appx a 17% increase in average dividends per month.
    • I also captured some capital gains from one of my US mutual funds. The stock markets are reaching new levels every day and the only thought that comes to mind is: greater the rise, the greater fall. So, I am staying invested in the US market, but capturing some gains as well.
  • Additional Investments
    • Investments in tax-deferred account (IRA)
      • In July, I sold portions of some funds to capture accumulated capital gains and created a cash fund inside my IRA.
      • In August and September, I deployed some of the cash in the cash fund into two international mutual funds to avoid the super expensive valuations of US stocks.¬†In October, I continued more of the same and invested in the same funds again.
        • VTIAX:¬†Vanguard Total International Stock Fund
          • Lower expense ratio
          • Covers the entire international market (large, medium and small caps)
        • VIHAX:¬†Vanguard International High Dividend Fund
          • Higher expense ration
          • Covers a portion of the international market only (mainly large caps)
      • The curious reader may ask: why not just invest everything in the cheaper VTIAX?¬†I am following my old rule of risk diversification….in the same class of mutual funds (international market), I always have two funds compete for your money. So, both VTIAX and VIHAX will now compete with each other to make more money for me ūüôā
    • In addition, I noticed now that in my IRA, the percentages of US and International stocks are almost even. I will pile up on US stocks over time in the following ways:
      • Periodic 401K investments are always dollar cost averaging into US stocks (70% of money goes into US funds)
      • In the next recession, I will invest some of the leftover cash fund into mainly US stocks and pick them up at cheaper valuations.
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Financial Independence Progress Report for September 2017

I was eagerly waiting for September dividends to come….it is the third highest grossing quarter after Dec and June. So, what is not to like? But, September has come and gone and there is not much excitement in reporting the numbers. The numbers are not that bad year-over-year, but I guess it is the slow progress towards the goals’ end that has made me a bit less excited. But, I told myself…One step at a time….build the dividend streams and the dividend snowballing will start for sure!

That said, lets look at the numbers for September 2017.

10/06/2017
Emergency Fund $60K Done
College Fund (80K) 57.59% 58.61%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $1176.20(09/2016) $1547.52 (09/2017)
Retirement Fund 77.79% 78.74%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 4.18% 4.20%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • My passive Income for September 2017 is approximately 31.5% higher than September 2016. The main reason for this increase is Investments in a couple of International funds…..VTMGX (International Developed Markets Index) and VEMAX (Emerging Markets Index).
    • I have tried to diversify away from investing only in US market funds and I am just seeing the fruits of that this year on. Roughly 17% of my total dividends this year have come from International funds. I want to bring this up a bit more to reduce the risk of all dividends coming from the US markets.
  • Additional Investments
    • Investments in tax-deferred account (IRA)
      • In July, I sold portions of some funds to capture accumulated capital gains and created a cash fund inside my IRA.
      • In August, I deployed some of the cash in the cash fund to buy two international mutual funds…the US funds have not come down from their super expensive valuations.
      • In September, I continued more of the same and invested in the same funds again.
        • VTIAX:¬†Vanguard Total International Stock Fund
          • Lower expense ratio
          • Covers the entire international market (large, medium and small caps)
        • VIHAX:¬†Vanguard International High Dividend Fund
          • Higher expense ration
          • Covers a portion of the international market only (mainly large caps)
      • The curious reader may ask: why not just invest everything in the cheaper VTIAX?
        • I am following my old rule of risk diversification….in the same class of mutual funds (international market), I always have two funds compete for your money.
      • So, both VTIAX and VIHAX will now compete with each other to make more money for me ūüôā

Financial Independence Progress Report for August 2017

August has come and gone and it is time to look at the numbers for August 2017.

09/08/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 85.34% 87.32%
College Fund (80K) 56.83% 57.59%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $391.93(08/2016) $535.78(08/2017)
Retirement Fund 76.87% 77.79%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 4.14% 4.18%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • My passive Income for August 2017 is approximately 36% higher than August of 2016. Past investments in VCADX (CA MUNIs) and VWUIX (National MUNIs are the main reasons for the increase.
    • But, since I re-distributed the sale proceeds to other funds that follow the regular quarterly payout cycle, my total dividends for 2017 year-to-date is higher than that for 2016 at the same time. So. nothing to worry!
  • Additional Investments
    • Captured gains in taxable account and paid off car loan
      • Sold rest of Tax managed Balanced fund (VTMFX) to capture capital gains and add to my cash fund.
    • Paid off our car-loan
      • I did not find any deals worthy of investing among the mutual funds I own….out here in the US and outside. So, instead of keeping it in the bank and/or a money market fund, I repaid the remaining portion of our car loan! Now, every month, I will have some extra savings to be applied for home down payment and/or to replenish the emergency bucket.
    • Investments in tax-deferred account
      • Last month, I sold portions of some funds to capture accumulated capital gains and created a cash fund inside my IRA.
      • I deployed some of the cash in the cash fund to buy two international mutual funds…the US funds have not come down from their super expensive valuations.
        • VTIAX:¬†Vanguard Total International Stock Fund
          • Lower expense ratio
          • Covers the entire international market (large, medium and small caps)
        • VIHAX:¬†Vanguard International High Dividend Fund
          • Higher expense ration
          • Covers a portion of the international market only (mainly large caps)
      • The curious reader may ask: why not just invest everything in the cheaper VTIAX?
        • I am following my old rule of risk diversification….in the same class of mutual funds (international market), I always have two funds compete for your money.
      • So, both VTIAX and VIHAX will now compete with each other to make more money for me ūüôā
  • Add to the cash fund..details¬†
    • I started a small cash fund accumulated a couple months back to take advantage of any market¬†dip(s) in the US market.¬†This month, I again captured some gains in a couple of my investments to add to this cash fund.¬†
    • Now, the waiting game begins for a significant stock dip. What is a big dip?¬†I will wait to employ my cash fund at least until the NAV drops 10% on any of my passive income streams.

Financial Independence Progress Report for July 2017

Belated July progress report. I was out of town on work related matters.

July is here and has the super tough goal of going against June…one of the best dividend months of the year! As expected, July got beat hands down ūüôā Lets look at the numbers for June 2017.

08/12/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 84.97% 85.34%
College Fund (80K) 54.72% 56.83%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $579.61(07/2016) $486.86 (07/2017)
Retirement Fund 75.19% 76.87%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 4.14%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • My passive Income for June 2017 is approximately 20% lower than July 2016. This is an expected decrease. I sold off an investment which used to produce dividends off cycle in Jan, April, July and October. So, passive incomes for those months will be less.
    • But, since I re-distributed the sale proceeds to other funds that follow the regular quarterly payout cycle, my total dividends for 2017 year-to-date is higher than that for 2016 at the same time. So. nothing to worry!
  • Additional Investments
    • Captured gains in taxable account
      • Sold some of Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX) and Tax managed Balanced fund (VTMFX) to capture some capital gains and pad my cash fund. Details below.
    • Captured gains in tax-deferred account
      • Some funds in my IRA had developed some nice gains over the past 6-8 years since the last major downturn in 2008. Sold some portion of a few funds to capture capital gains and created a cash fund inside my IRA to fund a future dip.
  • Add to the cash fund..details¬†
    • I started a small cash fund accumulated a couple months back to take advantage of any market¬†dip(s) in the US market.¬†This month, I captured some gains in a couple of my investments to add to this cash fund.¬†
      • Captured some gains (10%) from VTMGX (Developed Markets in Europe and Asia
      • Captured some gains (12%) from VTMFX (Tax Managed Balanced fund)
    • Now, the waiting game begins for a significant stock dip. What is a big dip?¬†I will wait to employ my cash fund at least until the NAV drops 10% on any of my passive income streams.
      • Was disciplined enough in July…and was rewarded with a 1.5% drop in August…lets see how much more disciplined I can be on this one….waiting for a 10% drop!

Financial Independence Progress Report for June 2017

June is here and welcome to one of the best dividend months of the year! I had both good news and bad news. Good news was all the dividends coming in…bad news was that I could not resist raiding the home down payment fund and putting that money to work for me ūüė¶

Since I have to travel for work next week, I am publishing the report ahead of time….most of the dividends are deposited anyways…so, I am not going to miss anything. So, lets look at the numbers for June 2017.

06/23/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 84.73% 84.97%
College Fund (80K) 53.24% 54.72%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $1741.69(06/2016) $2392.05 (06/2017)
Retirement Fund 74.27% 75.19%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 2.6% (site down)
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • June is one of the best months of the year for me (and all dividend investors I am sure!). My passive Income for June 2017 is approximately 37% higher¬†than June 2016.
    • I was weak this month also in that I stole some money from the house down payment fund to fund my passive income streams. The longer I delay the home purchase, the higher seems the risk of me stealing from it. In some ways, it is good…the money is employed in the market and working hard for me….but my flexibility w.r.t. home prices is lost. Lets see….
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior¬†months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US market. US stocks seem so¬†overvalued that I just can’t bring myself to add to it.
      • I added some more funds to¬†my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
    • Vanguard Intermediate Term Tax Exempt MUNIs (VWITX)
      • Dollar cost averaged my existing investment in VWITX.
        • Last June at this time, ¬†the price was $14.61….now it is $14.21. So, lowered my cost basis.
      • This will add to my monthly federal tax free income stream.
    • With this, I am done with monthly automated investments for this year….ran out of money ūüôā Except for the cash fund in case of a dip.
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market¬†dip(s) in the US market. I am done accumulating….no money left to steal anymore ūüėź
    • Now, the waiting game begins for a significant stock dip. What is a big dip?
      • Take a broad based index like the S&P 500. A well known fund that tracks this is¬†SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust (NYSEARCA: SPY).
      • Compared to October of 2016, this fund is almost 20% more….for no good reason. The market seems to have gone crazy. To get a nice view that summarizes what I feel, take a listen to this wonderful podcast:¬†http://www.financialsense.com/when-things-get-crazy-dont-get-lazy¬†Valuations have truly gone crazy.
    • So, I will wait to employ my cash fund at least until the cost drops down to 10% on any of my passive income streams. Lets see how disciplined I can be on this one.

Financial Independence Progress Report for May 2017

May is a one of the super-special months in the year. Why? Because it comes before June….one of the two biggest dividend months in the year ūüôā Other than that, May was a dull month. And I have missed my update for April 2017….I do remember writing it…but I guess I forgot to publish it…I found it in my Drafts folder. So, it is going to be a 2-month update for some categories!

Let us look at the numbers for May 2017.

06/02/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 84.135% 84.73%
College Fund (80K) 51.35% 53.24%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $371.51(05/2017) $470.72 (05/2017)
Retirement Fund 71.45% 74.27%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 2.6%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for May 2017 ($470.72) is appx 26% higher¬†than May 2016¬†($371.51).
    • I have stolen as much money I can from all my other goals to fund my passive income streams…especially from our home down payment fund. This has resulted in¬†double digit year-over-year gains. But, next year, I will not see this kind of gains…I will enjoy them while they last hey!
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior¬†months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US market. Dividend investors are not supposed to look at the stock price…but US stocks seem so¬†overvalued that I just can’t bring myself to add to it.
      • On the other hand, I want my passive income streams to come from many countries all over the world to spread¬†the risk of a single part of the world going through a bad phase.¬†So, I added some more funds to¬†my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I am accumulating some money in a money market fund. I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market¬†dip(s) in the US market.
  • Capture gains in my IRA/401K
    • Seeing the insane manner in which the US market stocks are going up, I¬†can’t shake the feeling that we are at the top. I see all the signs of a big drop except the market is going up and up. It is tapering now and I feel that a major dip is quite near.
    • My IRA lost a lot of its value (total return) in the 2008 downturn and I had to wait almost 6 years for it to come back up. I was a financial fool at that time and did not even attempt¬†any corrective actions….I could have moved to preserve some of my gains…but did not know any better.
    • For the upcoming¬†downturn, I do not want to lose the gains in my IRA. So, I cashed out¬†most of the gains¬†accumulated in¬†my IRA over the last few years and have parked them in cash inside my IRA. When the next dip happens, I will put them back to work. Until then, I am okay with losing 2-3% in¬†dividends versus losing 10-20% of the stock price.

2017 Goals and Quarterly Updates

NOTE: Third Quarter, 2017 Update….on 10/07/2017

I started my humble journey towards Financial Independence in 2014. But, I really did not have any formal goals for 2014. I just wanted to create multiple passive income streams, protect my family with life insurance, etc. I established what Financial Independence means to me and what the goals were. I accomplished all the implicit goals I had for 2014.

For 2015, I was a little bit more formal about goal setting and set my 2015 goals and updated my progress quarterly (here). In addition, I also tracked my progress via a Monthly Progress Report (here). At the end of year 2015, I reviewed my progress towards FI and I was happy to have reached and/or exceeded most goals I set (here).

For 2016, I achieved most of the goals I set out for myself (here). The two goals where I failed badly are: Keep eating expenses under $200 per month & Estate planning. I will try again this year i.e. in 2017.

The Financial Independence criterion for me (2017) are:

Financial Independence Criterion
Emergency Fund $60k (as of 2017)
College Fund $80k
Passive Income Streams $4000 per month
Retirement Fund $900k
Roof for our Family $750k….HCOL area ūüė¶
Medical Fund $100k
Life Insurance To protect my earning years…..

For 2017, I have thought about the following goals to get me closer to the above financial independence goals.

Financial Goals

  1. Keep scouting for a possible home/multi-family residence/rental real estate
    1. 03/31/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Visited many open houses…single/multi family…prices still crazy
    2. 06/30/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Visited two open houses….prices even more crazy this quarter…
    3. 09/30/2017¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† 8 more….we finally know what we want….need the $$$ now ūüôā
    4. 12/31/2017        
  2. Contribute $15000 towards Home Downpayment Fund
    1. 03/31/2017           $10272/$15000            $4728 remaining
    2. 06/30/2017           $13772/$15000            $1228 remaining             
    3. 09/30/2017¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†$16701/$15000¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Done..but price rises outpacing savings ūüė¶
    4. 12/31/2017        
  3. Contribute $3600 to 529 College Fund 2 
    1. 03/31/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†$305/$3600 done ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† $3295 remaining (behind…)
    2. 06/30/2017        $1966/$3600 done                   $1634 remaining 
    3. 09/30/2017        $3467/$3600 done                   $133 remaining
    4. 12/31/2017    
  4. Contribute $3000 to 529 College Fund 1
    1. 03/31/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†$605/$3000 done ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†$2395 remaining¬†(behind…)
    2. 06/30/2017        $1767/$3000 done                  $1233 remaining
    3. 09/30/2017        $2427/$3000 done                  $573 remaining
    4. 12/31/2017       
  5. Contribute $16k to Passive Income Streams (stretch goal of $24k) 
    1. 03/31/2017        $10150/$16000                       $5850 remaining ($13850 for stretch)
    2. 06/30/2017        $29970/$16000                       $0 remaining 
    3. 09/30/2017        n/a
    4. 12/31/2017
  6. Max out 401k contributions for both me and my wife ($36K total)
    1. 03/31/2017        $10489.19/$36K                     $25510.81 remaining
    2. 06/30/2017        $19774.94/$36K                     $16229.06 remaining  
    3. 09/30/2017        $33890/$36K                          $2109.47 remaining    
    4. 12/31/2017        
  7. Keep eating out expenses under $200 pm
    1. 03/31/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† $358.61 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Way above budget…
    2. 06/30/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† $401.83 ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Out of control ūüė¶¬†
    3. 09/30/2017¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†$301¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†Pulled in the expense some…
    4. 12/31/2017   
  8. Start and finish Estate Planning (Will, POD beneficiaries, Caretaker for children, etc)
    1. 03/31/2017  No progress yet      
    2. 06/30/2017  No progress yet
    3. 09/30/2017¬† Set up an appt with a financial planner….will discuss and decide
    4. 12/31/2017  

Personal Goals

Starting this year, I am trying to track some personal goals. Without adding all the details and boring everybody, I will try to keep this simple. I am hoping tracking this in my blog will keep me motivated to reach my goals. Here they are:

  1. Health Body goals (healthy eating, gym visits, popping multi-vitamins, etc)
    1. 03/31/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† 21.4% success rate ¬†….nothing but improvement ahead¬†
    2. 06/30/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† 17.1% success rate ….oh boy…eating too much/no exercise….¬†
    3. 09/30/2017¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†20.0% success rate….behind on flossing, popping vitamins mainly
    4. 12/31/2017  
  2. Simplify Life: Donate unused books once a month
    1. 03/31/2017       0/3 done                                
    2. 06/30/2017       3/3 done
    3. 09/30/2017¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†2/3 months done….got my kid to donate old books ūüôā
    4. 12/31/2017  
  3. Simplify Life: Donate unused (old and new) clothes once per quarter
    1. 03/31/2017       1/1 done 
    2. 06/30/2017       1/1 done
    3. 09/30/2017¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†3/3 done….this time, it was clothes, toys and garage junk!!
    4. 12/31/2017  
  4. Simplify Life: Shred all unnecessary documents once a month
    1. 03/31/2017       1/3 done
    2. 06/30/2017 ¬† ¬† ¬† 2/3 done….only 10 folders left…even found 10 year old docs!¬†
    3. 09/30/2017¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†1/3 done….a few more folders done….cabinet is so empty now ūüôā¬†
    4. 12/31/2017  

Possible candidates for 2018 Personal Goals

I decided to start this section in the last quarter of 2017 (Oct-Dec) so that I can capture possible candidates for Personal goals in 2018.

  • Get together with a Financial Planner and checkpoint the overall state of our finances.
    • My goal was to generate $1000 pm in dividend income and then purchase our primary residence. I am close to the former but way behind the latter.
    • So, I want to set a plan for the next five years and getting a plan review from a qualified professional is timely now.
  • Prepare to find a new job with a better compensation package.
    • To support the house purchase, I need something more that the salary. I would like to add some additional options like a better bonus option, stocks, etc
    • This means I need to do really really well in the interviews…need solid preparation before I look into the market.
  • Get into a PE class of some sort and get my health in order.
    • Need the disciple of a class to help my will power.

Uncertainty….some thoughts.

I met a few friends for lunch¬†recently¬†and¬†I was struct by the randomness of events that each one of us¬†was going through…

  • Friend ¬†1 developed kidney stones suddenly and spent a couple of painful hours in Emergency….just came back from¬†a visit.
  • Friend 2¬†developed twitching on one side of the jaw and that was diagnosed to be a neurological condition….
  • Friend 3 experienced an unexpected job loss…we are trying to help out with job leads…
  • Last year and a half, I have experienced¬†unexpected hospitalization, unexpected job loss and an unexpected crisis of confidence….so, I am not that behind ūüôā

Some friends expressed the inability to forecast how the next 5-10 years will look like and how it was creating a lot of stress in their respective lives. Ironically, a similar pattern is what forced me to discover Financial Independence ūüôā

That led me to think about Uncertainty about the future and its effect on Happiness today. I came to the sudden realization that the dramatic popularity of FIRE (Financial Independence and Early Retirement) over the last few years is directly proportional to the level of Uncertainty in the society as a whole. Let me think aloud on this a bit. Read on if you are interested!

What is Uncertainty?

There are many definitions of what Uncertainty is.

  • According to Merriam Webster dictionary, Uncertainty is defined as¬†the quality or state of being uncertain.
  • According to probability theory, any event can have¬†many possible outcomes. If the result of many of these outcomes cannot be predicted ahead of time OR worse yet, the outcomes itself cannot be predicted, then there is supposed to be Uncertainty.
  • I remember reading on a bumper sticker¬†that the oldest emotion of man is fear and the strongest of the fears is the fear of unknown. Not sure who said it, but it seems right to me. When there are unknowns in our life, there is Uncertainty.

Uncertainties in life

Let us take me as an example. There are four main uncertainties that I can think of in my life.

  • Income uncertainty
    • I am in a profession where assuming income certainty does not exist. I got half a day notice to pack my bags and leave in my previous job.
    • Planning for the long term like buying a house, paying for college, saving for retirement, etc requires sustained income for atleast 15-20 years.
  • Health uncertainty
    • All the years spent slogging, both student years and work years, have taken their toll on my body. Another decade of stress and the certainty of¬†failing health is guaranteed!
  • Family Relationships Uncertainty
    • Uncertainty of aged parents’ health on both mine and my wife’s side
    • Uncertainty of a vagabond life (moving to different rental houses) on kids and wife
  • Social Network Uncertainty
    • Social network includes family and friends whom I can count on in case of an emergency.¬†The pressures of the HCOL area economy has driven a couple of close people out of town and out of state….some due to job loss and some due to high cost of living¬†issues.

Priority of Uncertainties

Uncertainties about the future can eat away at the happiness. Not knowing all the outcomes and if the outcomes are known, not knowing the results can cause stress and anxiety. If I were to rank the uncertainties in the order of severity to me, here is what I came up with:

  • Severity High
    • Income Uncertainty
    • Health Uncertainty
  • Severity Medium
    • Family relationships Uncertainty
  • Severity Low
    • Social Network Uncertainty

Importance of Income Certainty

Achieving Income Certainty has an impact on all the other uncertainties. Take the example of a Government employee who has the most certain income situation I can think of. The size of the income is less important than the certainty of it is. With income certainty, I see the following advantages:

  • Improved health
    • When sustained income is assured, then long term decisions like housing, etc can be taken with less stress and anxiety.
    • Health uncertainty is reduced
  • More time to work on getting healthy
    • I have found that more uncertainty leads to working longer and harder to try and make the outcomes more certain…whether it be work OR relationships or something else.
    • More working leads to¬†missing out on gym time,¬†eating unhealthy food, etc
    • Income certainty to me would mean more time work on improving my¬†health.
    • Health uncertainty is reduced
  • More time to spend with family and friends
    • When working longer and harder to overcome income uncertainty, time with family and friends is usually a casualty.¬†When¬†sustained income is assured, spending time with family and friends is is much easier.
    • I once went to a baseball game on a Thursday afternoon as part of a team outing from work and I found the train station overflowing¬†with families. There was no standing room even in the station! I then realized that I had not gone to a baseball game in years and the station was packed on Thursday…a full blown working day!!
    • One person I met on that station many years ago was a post office worker. I saw a lot of¬†happiness and joy in that man and he was the one who taught me the difference between the size of an income (small in his case) and the certainty of that income (high in his case).
    • Family relationships uncertainty and Social network uncertainty is reduced.

Conclusion

In the last two decades of my life, the uncertainty that has grown the most around me in Income Uncertainty. I used to hear about this topic rarely in social events…now it has reached me and my inner most circle of friends and families.¬†I have seen family and friends go through it…and I have seen what devastation it can cause in life…divorces, bankruptcies, three kids and 2 adults in a 2 bedroom apartment, depression, etc etc

With so much income uncertainty, is it any surprise at the wave of populist movements sweeping across the entire developed world? With this background, is it any surprise that FIRE has taken hold in our society and across the world.

Life is meant to be enjoyed. Life with complete certainty is most probably boring. Uncertainties in life are supposed to be indicate exciting new possibilities….new¬†places to visit, new people to meet, new adventures to experience. But, is all of this possible without Income Certainty? Does it take a certain kind of personality to live with Uncertainties but no income certainty?

I am so glad that I discovered FIRE and thanks to the education and support of the FIRE community, I am on my way towards income certainty ūüôā

Financial Independence Progress Report for March 2017

Three¬†months already over in the new year….this year is definitely going faster than last year! Nothing interesting this month. My passive income streams boosted by appx 16% but somehow I feel unsatisfied…not sure why. Maybe the pace of reaching my goals is slow ūüôā Anyways, let us look at the numbers for March¬†2017.

04/01/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 83.00% 84.135%
College Fund (80K) 50.57% 51.35%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $1052.01(03/2016) $1219.83 (03/2017)
Retirement Fund 68.61% 71.45%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 2.6% 2.6%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for Mar¬†2017 ($1219.83) is appx 16% higher¬†than Mar¬†2016¬†($1052.01).
    • I did not add more funds this month since all my investment vehicles are trading at peak values. Waiting for the next dip to invest more. One exception is listed next.
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior¬†months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US. Stocks in United States seem too overvalued to my simple mind.¬†I want my passive income streams to come from many countries all over the world to spread¬†the risk of a single part of the world going through a bad phase.
      • So, I have added some more funds to¬†my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I am accumulating some money in a money market fund. I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market¬†dip(s).

Financial Independence Progress Report for February 2017

Two months already over in the new year….somehow feels that this year is going faster than last year!

I am still not sure on¬†what should be my yearly goals for 2017. I am carrying forward some goals from last year…college fund, retirement fund, etc. Thanks to valuable comments on a blog post from¬†Vivienne, Baba Joga and AmberTreeLeaves, I am getting close to a decision. By next month, I will decide one way or the other…else quarterly update in in jeopardy ūüôā

Lets look at the numbers for Feb 2017.

02/05/2017
Emergency Fund $60K 100% 83.00%
College Fund (80K) 49.58% 50.57%
Passive Income (2016 vs 2017) $269.65 (02/2016) $408.50 (02/2017)
Retirement Fund 65.07% 68.61%
Roof for our Family($750K) 00.00%
Medical Fund (via HSA) 0.5% 2.6%
Life Insurance Done (term life insurance policy)

Main Takeaways this month

  • Emergency Fund changes
    • It is looking more likely that my next significant goal will be a real estate investment. Before that, I want to seed my passive income streams with as much money as possible to get it as close as possible to my intermediate goal of $1000 pm. My final goal is $4000 pm as documented here.
    • So, to get closer to $1000 pm, one change I made I reduced my emergency fund by appx $10K and pushed the money into a cash fund….to roll this into my passive income streams.
    • I have initiated a per-month contribution towards rebuilding my Emergency fund, but that can happen in the background.
  • Passive Income Stream
    • Passive Income for Feb¬†2017 ($408.50) is appx 51% higher¬†than Feb 2016¬†($269.65).¬†This increase is¬†an¬†expected one.
    • In July of 2016, I welcomed some new members to my mutual fund family.¬†One of the new arrivals was VWITX¬†(Vanguard Intermediate Term National MUNI fund).
    • A good¬†portion of the year-over-year increase in passive income for Feb comes¬†from VWITX. This pattern will repeat the rest of the year as well.
  • Additional Investments
    • International exposure
      • Just like prior¬†months, I have continued to increase my exposure outside the US. Stocks in United States seem too overvalued to my simple mind.
      • And I want my passive income streams to come from many countries all over the world to spread¬†the risk of a single part of the world going through a bad phase.
      • So, I added to¬†my existing investments in Emerging markets (via VEIEX) and Euro-Pacific Developed Markets (via VTMGX).
  • Build a tiny cash fund again
    • I am accumulating some money in a money market fund. I want to have a small cash fund accumulated to take advantage of any market¬†dip(s).