December 2017 NCF Update: Exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast

Welcome to the monthly update of our house fund goal, Nuestra Casa Fund (NCF). Our NCF goal is to save enough before we retire early, to fully fund our home purchase. We’ll measure our progress by providing a monthly update against our benchmark. Our number one rule: Never, nunca, touch this money unless it’s for the house. We’ll achieve our goal by continuing to work at our full-time jobs.

As far as investing, our action plan is to continue maxing out retirement accounts, while saving for the house and fulfilling the rest of the buckets we deem necessary to retire early.

Exploring Florida’s Gulf Coast

We recently got back from a nice Florida vacation. During our trip, we explored a little bit of Sarasota as a potential place to live after early retirement. We stayed at a hotel near the airport which was conveniently located about 10 minutes from downtown and 20 minutes from a beach.

The number of diverse restaurants in the downtown area was a pleasant surprise. Also, the free 2-hour parking all over the city and free beach parking were also big pluses. We encountered some nice-looking neighborhoods on the way to Siesta Key from downtown. Obviously, we wouldn’t decide on a place to live just in one visit, but so far Florida’s Gulf Coast looks promising: nine months of awesome weather, three months of regular U.S. weather aka summer, ability to grow tropical fruits from back home, nice beaches and trails for walking/biking and so much more. Gulf Coast, you got our attention!

We biked along the Pinellas Trail in Dunedin, FL. and made a stop in Crystal Beach. This trail is 38 miles long.

We’ll continue to watch the real estate in Sarasota County and keep it as an option for now. Even as we zero in on a place, we’d first rent in the area and only buy if we’re 100% sure that we can see ourselves living in the area for at least 10 years. There’s no rush in buying, so we’ll take our time.

Our kind of snow! Fine white sand from Siesta Key Beach.

Now let’s see how we did last month on our house savings goal.

December NCF Update

We expect to meet our goal by August 2018. The allocation for our goal is 80% bonds and 20% cash. We decided on this allocation so that our goal can keep up with inflation, without risk of major losses during a downturn. Our goal is not to seek huge returns, but to manage risk.

Below are our November results along with a year-to-date update.

  Year-to-date NCF Update
MonthPercent of Goal MetBenchmarkPercent Increase Towards 100%
January 201723.9%23.9%Month that we started tracking this goal.
September (new target)78%77.2%28.9%

Last month we saw an increase of 1.5% towards our march to 100% of funding our goal. We’ve now saved 82% of the funds for our future home purchase.

We’re still a little above the benchmark and expect to get a nice jump this month due to a three-paycheck cycle: 12/1, 12/15, and 12/29. 🙂 December is also a great month for dividends and we’re currently investing all dividends from the brokerage account, which are taxable, into the house fund.

NCF returns

One neat thing about having all the funds in one place is that we can easily see the returns for the month without having to go to too many places. One account, one screen gives us the entire picture.

The total return for the month was a negative $278.76. What?!?! Yes, folks, negativo.  This is to be expected as bond funds fluctuate a little bit, but definitely not as much as a stock fund would. The bond funds were down by $612.32 and we had income returns of $333.56($333.56 – $612.56 = -$278.76)

End the year with a bang

This might be the last article of the year, so all I can say is that we had a spectacular year with our finances. We met many milestones: reached financial independence, maxed out Roth IRAs and Traditional 401(k)s accounts, spent as planned, and continued to evolve as our net worth grew. We’re now ready to welcome a prosperous 2018. May you have an awesome 2018 as well and thank you for reading. Cheers!

What personal finance goals do you have for this month? 


After dedicating 13 years of his career to Vanguard, José retired from the corporate world at the young age of 44. During his tenure at Vanguard, he expertly coordinated the production of both electronic and print educational materials for 401(k) participants. Now, he relishes in his early retirement, cherishing time spent with his family, indulging in his favorite hobbies, seeking out new experiences, and savoring meals in the comfort of his own backyard.

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