OLTL 2020 Mid-Year Update – Unmasking Our First Financial Report of This Year

Hello everyone, we’re back with the One Life To Live posts. On our previous post we announced the site name change from Enchumbao to Crucial Wealth.

We’re keeping our OLTL posts because they’re very informative and keep you updated on how our FIRE journey is going.

One change that we’re making is that we’ll be posting the OLTL series twice a year, instead of quarterly.

Why the change?

I’ve found myself trying to catch up with the quarterly updates and it’s cumbersome. Three months can easily go by and I can’t find the time to get these out in a timely manner. It takes me some time to get the pictures and charts ready. Also, freeing up time from OLTL will give us more time to write other posts of interest that can be written in a faster fashion.

Given that we’re in this for the long term, a mid-year and year-end update will give a clearer picture of how our finances are doing. Don’t you think?

That been said, let’s unveil our first 2020 OLTL under Crucial Wealth!

One Life To Live is our biannual recap on how financial independence plays an integral part in fueling our true happiness. We have one life to live, but are we making the best of it? Are we living in the most fulfilling way possible? We hope that our lifestyle answers those questions as we continue to optimize for happiness. Carpe Diem!


On the first day of the year, we continued our snow-birding in sunny Florida. Everything was going well with lots of outdoor leisure.

We live for the sunsets and caught a few by the Gulf Coast.

I even took a break from the vacation to spend quality time with my dad in the Dominican Republic. Although I spent most of the time at home, I paid a visit to the Monument in the city of Santiago.

When in Santiago, one must always visit the Monumento and eat at one of the Calle Del Sol’s restaurants. Pictured here, my childhood friend and I had pollo al carbon, tostones, yuca, and some Presidentes.

Back in the U.S., in February, we enjoyed the half-time Superbowl in my mother-in-law’s living room with pizza. Love it or hate it, that was a great performance.

Chica Libre enjoyed the Florida beaches a lot more this time since she can play in the sand now.

We were planning to return to PA in March and even catch a concert in April right in our city! Plans, plans, plans…

La pandemia!

Then Covid-19 hit…

And, of course, everything changed. Fortunately our family is safe and I hope yours is as well.

We ended up staying in Florida until early April and made the best of our time there.

The rest is lockdown history–no traveling, just lots of cooking, quality time spent at home, and now meeting up with close friends and family.

Pollo! Pollo!

Speaking of cooking, one thing I love about warm weather is outdoor eating. We did a lot of that in Florida and now that the summer is here, we’re eating more in our backyard.

The rotisserie chicken is back on the menu! Yummy!

Portfolio income and performance

Portfolio income

Life is good. We can’t complain. There’s food on the table and money to pay the bills. Let’s show you how we do it.

At the beginning of January, we set a withdrawal rate for our first full year in early retirement. We settled on an SWR for 2020 of 3.25%.


 We received $8,168 in dividends during the first two quarters. This is a lot less than we’ve gotten in previous years by the second quarter-end.

Why is that?

Two of our funds, VPMAX and VWILX, that hold a big portion of our investments only distribute dividends once a year, in December. VPMAX has been part of our portfolio for almost 10 years since it was offered in our 401(k)s.

We hold both of these funds in retirement accounts to avoid paying capital gains until we withdraw the money.

[There you go again with your managed funds!] LOL

But these are Vanguard funds!

The expense ratio is .32 for VWILX versus .11 for the Vanguard Total International Stock Index Fund (VTIAX).

Outside of the United States, I prefer to invest in growth companies. I think, based on what I’m seeing and reading, that a lot of growth will come from international markets for the next decade or so. Also, VWILX has a great management team.

When it comes to the international market I want cherry picking.

VWILX invests in 127 stocks while VTIAX invests in 7,455. This is as close as I get in investing in single stocks. We let an excellent team handle it for us for a very cheap price.

This is how VWILX has been performing against VTIAX as of June 30, 2020. They do fall into different investment categories. One is a growth fund and the other one is a blend of growth and value. So it’s not a complete apple to apple comparison.

Caution: Past performance doesn’t guarantee future returns. It’s just a point of reference.

Data taken from Vanguard.com website.

Going back to our dividends discussion, the December dividend payout will be a big one and should catch up with our average annual dividend distribution amount.

Freedom Fund Portfolio performance

Somehow we managed not to lose money on paper so far this year. Our portfolio returned .02% for the first two quarters. We didn’t do anything out of the extraordinary to stay afloat, just some common sense investing according to our plans.

A few things that we did was sell at the beginning of January in our taxable account to complement our cash needed for 2020 spending. We also bought stock funds in March, in our retirement accounts, when our portfolio’s allocation got out of whack. A 30-40% market drop will definitely cause an allocation to be out of balance.

We exchanged some stock funds into bonds and cash to rebalance the portfolio again in May/June.

Our international holdings performance

A big surprise in our portfolio is how well the Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWILX) is doing. As you saw on the Vanguard chart above, it’s up by 12.37% for the year. This is our long-term primary fund for international holdings as of September 2019. Thanks, Leo!

VWILX is up by 12.37% for the year.

A 12% return is a pleasant surprise at a moment when foreign stocks are returning negative 11.8%.

Household spending

We did well during the first half of the year as far as spending.

Food & Dining$7,595
Health & Fitness$1,950
Bills & Utilities$1,357
Gift & Donations$831
Auto & Transport$426
Total $18,140
Household spending from Jan.-June 2020

I think either grocery prices have increased by a lot or we’re eating a ton of food because that bill keeps increasing.

We received a child tax credit of $2,000 for 2019. We applied this as a credit directly to our child’s spending bringing the Kids spending category to a negative $1,794.

Wait!… What?

That’s right. The government sent money to our cute girl so we put it into that spending bucket. If we didn’t have a child we wouldn’t get this credit, so I think it makes sense to apply it directly to her spending bucket.

After we returned from Florida, we decided to put up the small apartment in our house for rent. We have a net income of $976 so far. This means we only needed $17,164 from our portfolio to satisfy our living expenses for the first half of the year. ($18,140 spent in Q1&Q2 – $976 net rental income = $17,164)

This is awesome because, according to our portfolio withdrawal of $19,750 for half a year, we’re starting the second half with a surplus.

90% of our portfolio is in retirement accounts, which we can’t touch without penalties for another 4.5 years. So we have to stretch the money in our taxable accounts until the dollars from our Roth/IRA conversion kick in.

Speaking of conversions, we already started funneling money from our 401(k) to our Roth IRA this year. More to come on that in a future post.

Net worth update

Our net worth was doing well during January and then it plummeted, like most people’s, due to the pandemic. This drop was long overdue though. The market was bound to correct one way or the other. If it wasn’t a pandemic, it would’ve been something else.

It’s amazingly sad how many people lost their cool in the personal finance world. People who are not accustomed to big market drops were panicking. I hope not many sold when the market was at its lowest points. This is the reverse of what they should be doing.

By April it started to go back up and by the end of June, it was almost back to where we were at the beginning of the year. Note that we’re not adding money to the pile and are subtracting for living expenses. The inclines take much longer now than when we were working.

Our net worth grew by *$50-75k since we retired. *Unadjusted for inflation

What an interesting chart this is.

Our net worth grew by $50-$75k since we left our jobs. We retired in July of last year. We traveled to Europe and Florida. I even visited my dad in the DR while on FL vacation. I took a break from the vacation to go on vacation. 😀

Our lifestyles haven’t changed except that now we don’t have jobs. We spent some serious money and didn’t show up to a day job or any kind of work obligation in almost a year, and we’re worth more on paper today than when we retired a year ago.

Let that sink in.

That it’s so powerful and mind-boggling to me. It’s our money working for us, day and night. It’s our investments producing more than we spend.

One thing is to dream of this day and another is to see it play out right in front of us.

How was the first half of 2020 for you? What financial goals did you accomplish?

Risk disclosure: All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. The material contained on this website is for entertainment and discussion purposes only and should not be misconstrued as financial advice.


José worked at Vanguard for 12 years, helping create electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. He retired at 44 from corporate America and loves to spend time with his wife and daughter, discovering new adventures or just sharing a meal in their backyard.

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3 thoughts on “OLTL 2020 Mid-Year Update – Unmasking Our First Financial Report of This Year

  1. I always enjoy reading these updates. Our portfolio looks just like your chart, we took a big hit in March and it bounced back up in April. We are still at a negative for the year since it went down the first quarter but it looks like we might end the year with positive growth if it continues to go up. In regards to goals, we put a big dent on our debt since student loans have not been charging interest. Most of the money that we are saving on daycare is going straight to debt. Good year so far financially. I hope you guys are staying safe!

  2. This year has been a blessing of sorts. We made a good decision last year to go to cash and during the crash we took the opportunity to reinvest. Since we had to cancel international vacations and eating out, we also saved more money during the pandemic and yes, food prices are getting higher and higher and so is everything else. Inflation rate is actually misleading, because it doesn’t include food and gas costs…which are two major expenses in any household….

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