November Freedom Fund Update: Progress is Not Always Visible

Welcome to the monthly update of our journey to financial independence, where we report on the progress of our FI tree, aka Freedom Fund. Our mangoes are almost ripe and we’re projecting to reach our goal by July 2017. This means that we’ll have enough investments to live off of without ever having to work again to pay for living expenses.

We’ll consider ourselves financially independent when our Freedom Fund is able to support our lifestyle indefinitely. Our Freedom Fund is comprised of mutual fund investments, short-term reserves, and a real estate property.

Freedom Fund Progress

Percentage of Freedom Fund reached in November

Our Freedom Fund remained at 91 percent, unchanged from the previous month. If we retired today, our investments could cover up to $32,035 in annual expenses. That puts us $2,965 short of our $35,000 annual income goal!

Year-to-date gains

Progress is not always visible

The Panama Canal, one of the world’s most ambitious and difficult projects, took approximately ten years and, sadly, over 22,000 lives to complete. The 50-mile-long passage provided a crucial shortcut for ships. Workers on this project encountered a number of issues, including disease and equipment issues, among others.

There were other setbacks, but the truth is that they were making progress. They were approaching the finish line. Every passing day, month, and year meant that progress was being made. And since our journey is taking place in real time, we may not be able to see our progress. When we look back, we can see how far we’ve come.

As we mentioned in our previous FF post update, gaining the final 10% could be difficult. Our investment success formula has not changed. We’re still following the same saving and spending patterns that got us here.

However, the market is in a holding pattern, which is weighing on our Freedom Fund for the time being. It also provides opportunities to purchase at a lower price than last month.

A spectacular month

In October, we spent $3,006.66. That was the year’s second-lowest spending month! What contributed to the decrease? There is no travel, no drinking, and very little dining out. These are the kinds of things that our progress chart, which has been stuck at 90-91 percent for four months, would not reveal.

What were your financial goals for the month? Did you meet them?

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


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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Dividend Diplomats
7 years ago

Those are some awesome figures! congrats on the great progress. Your progress isn’t going to jump off the paper (or spreadsheet) every month. That’s just not how it works in the investing world. Some months the market soars and you don’t invest. Some months prices tank and you see your market value decrease. If you want a true picture on your progress, I think you have to expand your lookback period. Compare your current progress to the same period last year. You will then see how much you were able to accomplish over and extended period of time, one that includes both months of progress and setbacks.

Thanks for the summary!


7 years ago

Hi Bert –
Looking back to compare our current progress to our past progress it’s a great tip. It’s definitely what keeps up investing on a regular basis regardless of what the market is doing. The only thing that I do is check our asset allocation to see where we should invest new money. Is our REITs allocation low? Then maybe it’s time to buy some more. Did the stocks gain too much causing our bonds to be lower? Than maybe we should buy more bonds.

Thanks for dropping by!

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