OLTL 2020 Mid-Year Update – Revealing Our First Financial Report of The Year

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

Despite the fact that the new direction is bringing about changes, we will continue to publish our OLTL posts because they are very informative and keep you informed of our FIRE journey.

The OLTL series will now be published twice a year rather than quarterly.

Why the shift?

It’s been difficult for me to try to catch up on the quarterly updates. Three months can easily pass, and I can’t seem to find the time to get these out on time. It takes me some time to prepare the images and charts.

Furthermore, freeing up time from OLTL will give us more time to write other posts of interest that can be written more quickly.

Given that we’re in this for the long haul, a mid-year and year-end update will provide a more complete picture of our financial situation. Don’t you agree?

So, without further ado, let us reveal 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!


Exploration

We continued our snowbirding in sunny Florida on the first day of the year. Everything was going swimmingly, with plenty of time spent outside.

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

I even took a vacation break to spend time with my dad in the Dominican Republic. Despite spending most of my time at home, I visited the Santiago Monument.

When in Santiago, one must always visit the Monumento and eat at one of the restaurants on Calle Del Sol. My childhood friend and I enjoyed pollo al carbon, tostones, yuca, and some Presidentes.

Back in the United States, we watched the half-time Super Bowl in my mother-in-living law’s room with pizza. Whether you like it or not, that was a fantastic performance.

Our daughter enjoyed the Florida beaches even more this time since she can play in the sand now.

We intended to return to Pennsylvania in March and even attend a concert in our hometown in April!, but then… Covid-19 came about.

And, of course, everything changed.

We stayed in Florida until early April, making the most of our time there.

The rest is lockdown history—no traveling, just a lot of cooking, quality time at home, and now getting together with close friends and family.

Pollo! Pollo!

Speaking of cooking, one of my favorite aspects of warm weather is al fresco dining. That’s something we did a lot in Florida, and now that summer has arrived, we’re eating more in our backyard.

The rotisserie chicken is back on the menu! Yummy!

Portfolio income and performance

Portfolio income

Life is wonderful. We have no complaints. There is food on the table and money to pay the bills. Let us show you how we do it.

Dividends

 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, which account for a significant portion of our investments, only pay dividends once a year, in December. Since it is available in our 401(k), VPMAX has been a part of our portfolio for nearly ten years.

Both of these funds are held in retirement accounts to avoid paying capital gains.

[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).

I prefer to invest in growth companies outside of the United States. Based on what I’m seeing and reading, I believe that international markets will drive much of the growth over the next decade or so. VWILX also has an excellent management team.

VWILX owns 127 stocks, while VTIAX owns 7,455. This is the closest I get to investing in individual stocks. With the Vanguard fund advisors We hired an excellent team to handle it for us at a very low cost.

VWILX’s performance in comparison to VTIAX as of June 30, 2020 is shown below. They do fit into different investment categories. One is a growth fund, while the other is a mix of growth and value. As a result, it’s not a true apples-to-apples comparison.

Caution: Past results do not guarantee future results. It’s just a starting point.

Data taken from Vanguard.com website.

Going back to our dividend discussion, the December dividend payout will be substantial and should exceed our average annual dividend distribution amount.

Freedom Fund Portfolio performance

So far this year, we have avoided losing money on paper. For the first two quarters, our portfolio returned .02 %. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary to stay afloat; just some prudent investing in accordance with our plans.

We sold a few investments in our taxable account at the beginning of January to supplement our cash needs for 2020 spending. When our portfolio’s allocation became out of whack in March, we bought stock funds in our retirement accounts. A 30-40% market drop will undoubtedly throw an allocation out of balance.

In May/June, we rebalanced the portfolio by converting some stock funds into bonds and cash.

Our international holdings performance

The performance of the Vanguard International Growth Fund (VWILX) in our portfolio has taken us by surprise. According to the Vanguard chart above, it is up 12.37 % for the year.

As of September 2019, this is our primary fund for international holdings. 

VWILX is up by 12.37% for the year.

A 12% return is a pleasant surprise in an environment where foreign stocks are returning a negative 11.8 %.

Household spending

In terms of spending, we did well in the first half of the year.

CategoryAmount
Food & Dining$7,595
Home$4,399
Travel$2,815
Health & Fitness$1,950
Bills & Utilities$1,357
Gift & Donations$831
Shopping$482
Auto & Transport$426
Other$79
Kids-$1,794
Total $18,140
Household spending from Jan.-June 2020

I believe either grocery prices have risen significantly or we are eating an excessive amount of food because our food bill continues to rise.

For 2019, we received a $2,000 child tax credit. We applied this as a credit directly to our child’s spending, resulting in a negative $1,794 in the Kids spending category.

Wait!… What?

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

We decided to rent out the small apartment in our house after we returned from Florida. So far, we have a net income of $976. This means that for the first half of the year, we only needed $17,164 from our portfolio to cover our living expenses. ($18,140 spent in the first and second quarters minus $976 in net rental income = $17,164)

This is fantastic because, based on our portfolio withdrawal of $19,750 for the first half of the year, we begin the second half with a surplus.

For the next 4.5 years, we can’t touch 90 percent of our portfolio without incurring penalties. As a result, we must stretch the funds in our taxable accounts until the funds from our Roth/IRA conversion become available.

In terms of conversions, we’ve already begun transferring funds from our 401(k) to our Roth IRA this year. More on that in a subsequent post.

For this year, we also set a withdrawal rate of 3.25% to cover our bills.

Net worth update

Our net worth was doing well in January before plummeting, like most people’s, as a result of the “pandemic”.

This drop, on the other hand, was long overdue. The market was bound to correct in some way. It would have been something else if it hadn’t been a “pandemic”.

It’s incredible how many people lost their cool in the world of personal finance. People who were not used to large market drops were terrified.

I hope not many people sold when the market was at its lowest. This is the exact opposite of what they should be doing.

By April, it had begun to rise again, and by the end of June, it had nearly returned to where it had been at the start of the year.

It’s worth noting that we’re not adding money to the pile but rather subtracting it for living expenses. The ascents take much longer now than they did when we were working.

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

What an interesting chart this is.

Since we quit our jobs, our net worth has increased by $50-$75k. In July of last year, we retired. We went to Europe and Florida. While on vacation in Florida, I even paid a visit to my father in the Dominican Republic. I took a vacation break to go on vacation. 😀

Except for the fact that we no longer have jobs, our lifestyles have remained unchanged. We spent a lot of money and didn’t show up to a day job or any kind of work obligation for almost a year, and we’re worth more on paper today than we were a year ago when we retired. (Of course I need to account for inflation, but pardon me while I brag. LOL)

Let that sink in.

That is what makes it so powerful and mind-boggling to me. Our money works for us 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our investments generate more than we spend.

It’s one thing to fantasize about this day, and quite another to witness it unfold in front of our eyes.

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 construed as financial advice.

José

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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Jana Goodlife
3 years ago

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….

Louis Bautista
Louis Bautista
3 years ago

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!

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