OLTL Q4 2018 – How to Enjoy a 5-Week Road Trip While the Market Tanks

Hola, mi gente. We hope you are already working on your financial goals for the year. We’ve been very quiet here, on the blog, as we continue to raise our child. She’s now over five months old and, wow, how time flies.

It’s time for another OLTL update. So how how did we do during the last quarter of 2018?

One Life To Live is our quarterly 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 it in the most fulfilling way possible? We hope that our lifestyle answers those questions as we continue to optimize for happiness. Carpe Diem!


The biggest highlight of the 4th quarter was our trip to Florida. Tatiana is now on the tail end of her 6-month maternity leave (including two months unpaid). I get six weeks of paternity leave and decided to use two of those weeks with paid time off and a few remote days to be away from the office for a total of five weeks. Yay!

So with all that time available we drove back and forth to Florida.

Why drive instead of flying?

First, we had a lot to carry for our baby and it was better to be able to pack it all in the car than be limited to just a few items on a plane.

I think we could’ve fit a few more items in there!
Here’s a shot of our front passengers aka the stroller, our hotel bag, camera, electronics and food!

Second, we didn’t want to expose our, back then, 4-month old to germs on a plane.

I never drove to Florida before and I occasionally hear of people who made it there in a day complaining how tired they felt. With that in mind I didn’t want this to be a bad driving experience, so we added more days on the road.

I once drove back and forth from New York to Chicago, without much rest, to interview a Dominican baseball player for my former magazine. After that drive, I promised myself that I’ll never do some crazy shit like that again. That was a twenty-six hour round trip with just a few quick breaks along the way! It was four of us driving and we couldn’t stay awake in the end and almost hit a bambi.

What’s your driving limit per day when you travel?

Given that we were going to be away for five weeks we decided to enjoy the journey as much as the destination, just like our FI journey.

When we mapped out our journey to financial independence, we decided early on to enjoy the journey instead of just saving to get there much sooner. You live life everyday and not just ten or fifteen years from now. For us it is extremely important to live in the present.

So we took our time to get to North Port, FL, which was our final destination, by making several stops throughout the trip.

We hit the road around noon on Saturday, December 15th from our home in Paoli, PA.

The biggest trick with an infant is that you have to drive while they nap and they loooove road noise for sleeping. So as long as she slept, we drove!

We took the “scenic” drive, AKA down I-81 along the mountains instead of I-95 along all the busy cities, and stopped whenever our baby woke up to rest and stretch.

A highlight of the trip was our stop in Savannah, GA, after being on the road for three days. We decided to make it a two-night stay since we heard great things about Savannah and were not disappointed. Plus, Tatiana wanted a day without driving!

City Hall in historic district

After we departed Savannah, we visited family in Gainesville, FL.

The following Saturday, after being on the road for a week, we got to my mother-in-law’s house, in North Port. The weather in North Port was very pleasant and allowed us to take many walks throughout the day.

We went on regular walks around the neighborhood at least once a day.
Our baby girl enjoyed the Warm Mineral Springs Lake in North Port, FL, several times. Legend says it’s the famous Fountain of Youth Ponce De Leon was searching for.

While we were in North Port we also made a trip to Sarasota to reunite with family members who converged from all over Florida there, and even made time to check out some houses for sale.

It was an awesome trip overall and we hope to make it back early next year.

To fuel ourselves for all the adventures and now that we have a young baby, we cook more at home than ever before. So what dishes have we been cooking lately?

From the chef’s kitchen

Cooking your own meals is a great way to eat healthy and save money. A great advantage is that you can cook with better ingredients and know exactly what’s going into your food.

Here are some of the meals that we cooked last quarter.

I don’t know why I never tried making a quiche before, but we went out for breakfast one day at a nearby spot and tried their quiche. It was delicious and that inspired me to try it at home. Now this is a new addition to our brunch menu!
Banana bread is a dessert we’re now baking at home. Tatiana likes it moist, so I found out that the trick to make it moist is to add dairy like yogurt or milk.
We had a memorable Thanksgiving dinner. It’s one to remember because it was our baby’s first Thanksgiving dinner. We went the traditional way with mashed potatoes, a baked turkey breast, homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing, green beans and other veggies.

Now for the numbers lovers, we’ll proceed to discuss our basic spending, portfolio income and performance for the fourth quarter.

Passive income and expenses

The following is a streamlined spending report that takes very little time to produce, therefore, giving us time back for more living. It stays within our theme of having one life to live and maximizing our time for happiness. 

What’s included in these reports? At the end of the day, people need food, shelter, mobility, the ability to pay the bills and take care of debt payments. So, these are the expenses that we concentrate on. Everything else is gravy.


Bare-bones spending for Q4-2018

This is how we spent on the most basic needs during the fourth quarter.

CategoryQuarter Amount YTD AmountComments
Auto & Transportation$472.20$2,259.48
Bills & Utilities$694.10$2,280
Debt Interest$0$0
Home Supplies$129.31$725.88

We spent $26,119.42 on basic necessities last year.

Wait a minute Enchumbao… Don’t you usually add the profits from your rental property to your rent cost? Why did you decide not to include it this time?

Big news on the rental property! Our main tenant, which is a family member, moved out last year. This was a little earlier than expected, but we’re looking at many options with this property other than selling this year. Therefore, we’re reserving the profits to improve it and give it a fresh coat of paint instead of applying them to our rent.

That sums up our bare-bone spending for last quarter.

You can click here to see our latest annual spending.

Portfolio income


We received $22,477 in dividend income for the 4th quarter. Wow, that was way more than we expected! And there’s a reason why.

One of the funds in our 401(k)s distributed about $9,300 in long-term capital gains in December. These capital gains are recorded as a dividend distribution in our 401(k) plans.

Also, this fund only distributes dividends once a year, so December was a bigger distribution month for us than in previous years due to these gains.


Dividend income over time

Below is the chart that I’m most proud of. We built this thing! 🙂

Our dividend income for 2018 was $40,568!

Again, that was more than what we expected. I think this year will be more closely to our norm, unless more gains are distributed. We’re still accumulating, so who knows what the new norm would be! 😉


Back in 2015, when we started blogging, we were just getting around $12k in dividends. We’ve come a long way.

Freedom Fund Portfolio Returns

We currently have two goals for our entire portfolio:

  1. The Nuestra Casa Fund holds the funds for our future home, once we decide where to settle in early retirement.
  2. The Freedom Fund will provide the income needed to live life on our terms in retirement.

Since we’re nearing retirement, we opted for an allocation of 75% stocks (including REITs) and 25% bonds/cash in the FF Portfolio, which coincides with having the money we’ll need during the first 5 years of early retirement in bonds and cash.

Q4 Freedom Fund Portfolio performance

Our FF portfolio returned -10.17% for the quarter. Sometimes you lose on paper, and sometimes you win. We lost on paper, but didn’t lose sleep over it. This is the way the market works, mi gente.

How do you enjoy a trip when the market is tanking?

Well, don’t give it much thought. That’s how. While equities were losing a 20% value from its high, we were taking walks, swimming at the lake, cooking and enjoying time with family and friends. We were living! Plus, when the market drops, we get to buy more shares at a lower price.

I even thought that I was going to have time to blog while away, but that didn’t happen. I had good intentions, but no time to spare. Family time comes first.

I’m also at a point in my life that I prioritize a good conversation or doing anything fun with the family or VIPs in my life over sitting in front of a screen. I prefer to be moving around than sitting for too long, either at home or at work.


Freedom Fund Portfolio 2018 returns

Our 2018 returns were a tiny better than the S&P 500. We had a -6.02% return for the year. Ok, so the annual returns weren’t as bad as the 4th quarter returns. Again, no need to lose sleep or worry about this. We were on vacation while December lost its shirt and didn’t worry, not even a bit. This is why we have an asset allocation according to our goals.


Net worth update

What makes up our net worth?

Only income-producing and real estate assets make the list.

2018 net worth


Our net worth took a small dip during the first quarter of 2018. Then it recovered and kept rising during the following months. And then it had a roller coaster ride from August until year end. Long-term investors here, so no sweat.

Net worth over time / Our ladder to wealth


All in all, we still managed to increase our net worth in 2018, thanks to our savings effort. We haven’t calculated our savings rate for the year, but I’m sure it was consistent with previous years due to the amount we saved. Our rate has been over 70% the prior three years.

Road to retirement

Funds for the next chapters in our lives

Here’s a snapshot of how our account balances are doing versus our targets.


The correction in equities brought our 401(k) balances below the target levels, but with the recent upswing they’re back above target. We’re maxing them out again this year, so even with a slight loss this year, we should still be able to remain above target.


We front-loaded both Roths at the beginning of January, so we’re done for the year! We purchased REITs funds with these investments. Our goal was to make REITs 7% of the portfolio by the end of this year and we’re almost there.


We made a shift in Nuestra Casa Fund in early November. We sold all the bond funds and shifted the proceeds into a money market fund. The goal is for the assets to remain liquid until we find our early retirement home. Our target amount will remain in cash.

However, we’re re-investing the monthly income in a total stock market ETF. The total invested in this ETF so far is a little less than 1% of the balance. We’re not worried about needing this money in a downturn because this is above our target amount.


If you notice from our previous OLTL post, the target amount for our brokerage is smaller than last time.

We changed the way we allocate the future proceeds from our rental property to better reflect our circumstances. The rental property proceeds will be added to this bucket once we sell the property. This doesn’t change anything as far as what we expect to have available in early retirement.

What else is happening?

Our girl had solid food for the first time today (MLK day 2019). Her first meal was a few teaspoons of blended oatmeal with mommy’s milk. She loved it. There’s nothing like seeing your child try things for the first time. It’s a reminder to stop and smell the roses and enjoy the simple things in life. Until next time!

How was 2018 for you? What financial goals did you accomplish?


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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5 years ago

So different with a child right? Everything takes more time and you are forced to slow down. It’s a great thing! Enjoy the little moments, they are so fleeting! Question: have you thought about investing your NCF in a savings account or CD that pays a little more than a money market? We have our cash fund earning almost 2% in a savings account. It’s safe, insured (till a certain amount) and it provides extra income that a money market is not providing right now.

5 years ago
Reply to  Jana

Hi Jana,
Yes! It’s no longer about getting everything on the list done. There are days that if I get to one thing on the To Do list, I’m happy! 🙂
About the NCF, we have it in the Vanguard PMM which is earning 2.48% as of now. We avoid CDs since we don’t know when we’ll find our dream home and want the flexibility to withdraw without penalty. And yes, even though it’s not “insured”, I’m not too concerned because it all hell breaks loose and such a huge money market fund loses money, I’m sure there’ll be a government bailout. 😉
The PMM fund also holds treasury bills, CDs, and other insured vehicles. Great question and good hearing from you!

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