Performance Update (Day 1703): Rich Ducks and Bloated Guts

My main goal was to build an investment and cash portfolio of $1,120,000* in 1500 days**, starting from 1/1/2013 and ending in February of 2017. I made my goal last year and my 1500 Days are over, but in the interest of openness, I’ll continue to share my numbers.

When I quit my formal job in April, my net worth was about $1,750,000. Not even six months later, it’s now over $1,900,000. Most of this is due to market appreciation, but not all of it. I owe you an explanation…

 

Planned Passions, Unplanned Money

I’ve always enjoyed writing, but didn’t pursue it at university. Science and computers offered better career options. I eventually became a computer programmer and banged away at a keyboard for almost 20 years. However, I never forgot about my love for writing.

After I discovered JD Roth and Mr. Money Mustache (the blog that launched 10,000 blogs), I launched my own blog on January 1st of 2013. You’re reading it. It was nothing more than a passion project to document my journey to financial independence and hold myself publicly accountable. Then, interesting things started happening.

Mrs. 1500 Nails the Landing

Mrs. 1500 had been a stay-at-home mom until a serendipitous turn of events landed her a dream job:

  1. At the end of 2013, I dragged Mrs. 1500 to FinCon, a financial media conference.
  2. She went to a breakout session and sat in the front row.
  3. When the session started, she realized that she was at the wrong place. However, she felt bad about leaving, so stayed.
  4. The topic of the session was coping with the technical side of site growth. This didn’t interest her, but the company did. When it was over, she talked to the presenters, one of whom was the founder.
  5. Mrs. 1500 wrote some blog posts for the company. She didn’t get paid anything, but was passionate about the subject matter.
  6. At the next FinCon in 2014, Mrs. 1500 chatted with the founder again.
  7. In 2015, the company announced that they were hiring for a certain position. It was Mrs. 1500’s ideal job. While our youngest was not yet in school, she’d be starting in 3 months, so the timing was good. Mrs. 1500 applied for and got the job.

And something else was going on too. I put ads on the blog to help pay for hosting, equipment (Apples grow on trees, but Apple Macbooks do not) and the FinCon conference. The results were unspectacular. In the first 3 years of blogging, I earned less than $1,000. Queue the sad trombone. And the sad daughter:

But in year 4, the blog started gaining traction and spitting out more substantial income. It has continued to increase ever since. It doesn’t make a lot, but when you live a frugal life, even small amounts have a fun way of moving the needle.

Fast forward to today. Mrs. 1500 works at her job and I work on the blog. And it is work, but never in the typical sense. Our work reflects our passions. We’re both thankful that we get paid for what we used to do for free.

I don’t make the same money as I used to. The blog, freelancing and Mrs. 1500’s income combined is still less than what I made as a computer programmer. However, it’s enough for us to get by on and still max out two 401(k)s.

So, we don’t have to dip into our savings and our net worth continues to increase. I’m a big fan of the 4% Rule, but it’s nice not to live it yet.

So, am I really retired? Probably not. But why would I stop doing what I love just because it happens to earn some money?

 

Performance Update: August

August was another month of progress. Our portfolio started at $1,439,455 and ended at $1,450,133 for a gain of $10,678:

Chart from Personal Capital***! Is it not lovely?

For the first time ever, our net worth closed the month at over $1,900,000. We ended August at $1,905.133, but who’s counting? Me! I count it every day. I often feel like this:

I’m not nearly as wealthy as Scrooge McDuck. When I bathe in my money, all I need is a bathtub.

And unlike old McDuck, I have the decency to wear pants. How does this guy stay out of jail?

2017 (as of 9/1/2017)

Since the start (1/1/2013)

  • Days elapsed: 1703
  • Portfolio gains since 1/1/2013: $864,080
  • Needed to quit work ($1,120,000 in investments): Mission accomplished!
  • Net worth: $1,905,133 which includes:
    • Investment portfolio and cash: $1,450,133
    • Home equity$390,000
    • Silly toy car$45,000
    • Other cars, bikes, dinosaurs: $20,000

 

Adventures in Real Estate!

In other financial news, we continue to experiment with real-estate. We have $560,000 invested in private loans and syndication deals.

Private Lending 

We have $360,000 invested across four different loans. One of the difficult aspects of private lending is the short term nature of the loans. Most of the loans are one year in length, so we have to redeploy money frequently. When one of our loans was paid off this month, I had no other deals to fund, so it all went to VTSAX.

Syndication

I also like to fund syndicators. In syndication deals, an investor buys an apartment complex and improves it. Often, these complexes have deferred maintenance, are under-managed or both. After the syndicator finishes the rehab, the complex is sold. This typically takes anywhere from three to eight years. I earn payments quarterly, but most of the payout comes at the end when the complex is sold.

I currently invest in four syndication deals ($50,000 each for a total of $200,000).

 

Battle of the Bulge

Mr. WoW and I have a bet going about who can lose the most weight by FinCon at the end of October. At stake is $1 and a heaping load of pride is. The loser also has to buy dinner, beer and guest post on the winner’s blog. I’m not doing so hot:

Note: I’m all sweaty in the one on the left because I just ran up and down the street like 50 times.
Note 2: I’m all puffy in the one on the right because of eating like sh*t.

Mr. WoW is a worthy opponent and is currently demolishing me. I need to lose 8 pounds just to pull even with him.

 

If nothing else, I’m tenacious. I also don’t like to lose, so I’m not throwing in the sweaty towel. Instead, I’m pulling out the nuclear option:

 

I’m drinking Soylent for breakfast and lunch. For dinner, I have a small, mostly vegetable based meal. I like Soylent for a couple of reasons:

  • I can precisely control how many calories I intake: Each bottle is 400 calories. Boom. Easy.
  • I need to reset my relationship with food: Lately, I’ve noticed that I don’t appreciate food like I should. I stuff down horrible (but tasty) crap like pizza and tacos mindlessly. Hopefully, Soylent lunches and broccoli dinners renew my appreciation for good food.

I’m also concentrating on weight loss and not muscle growth. If body recomposition (losing fat while putting on muscle simultaneously) even works, it’s not the most efficient way to remake myself. I’m going to lose the weight first and then work on putting the muscle on.

And Mr. WoW is going to Ecuador. This could be a problem for him:

Joking aside, I love the competition. Even if I lose, competing with Mr. WoW has done a lot to kick my ass in gear and I’m a better person for it.

 

One Last Thought: Where do Markets go Now?

Everyone seems to be terrified about the near term direction of the markets. I’m not scared, but I am surprised that the markets have held up as well as they have. We have an unconventional president in Trump, tensions on the Korean Peninsula and elevated valuations.

A recession is coming. It’s always coming. And other things much worse are also on their way.

According to Warren Buffett, there is a 1 in 30 chance of a major terrorist attack in any year. I suspect that during my lifetime, someone will pull off something much worse than 9/11.

And none of it is worth worrying about. The world will move on and if it doesn’t, you won’t have to care much about your portfolio.

I’ll continue to shovel money into the stock market furnace. Even major recessions turn into minor blips on the radar decades down the road.

And if an apocalyptic scenario happens, I have Soylent to pull me through.

 

Just can’t get enough?

 

 

*My goal wasn’t to have $1,120,000 at the end of 1500 days, but at any time before the day count was up. Why? It all goes back to the 4% Rule. Remember that our little friend, Mr. 4%, is nothing more than the most conservative safe withdrawal rate. So, if I were to quit my job now, I could spend about $48,000 in my first year of retirement. I’d stick very close to that number too because market valuations are ambitious. Let’s say that Mr. Market caught a cold tomorrow and my portfolio dropped down to $800,000. No big deal. This would mean I’d be safer stretching my spending a little north of 4%.

**My original goal was $1,000,000 and no debt, I later raised the goal by $120,000 to $1,120,000 because I will have debt in the form of a mortgage and I firmly believe in not paying it off. My compromise is to have enough money put away to cover the mortgage at the time of retirement. So, to retire today, I would need about $1,120,000.

***This is an affiliate link. If you sign up, the blog (me) makes some cold, hard, beautiful, cash. Personal Capital is a totally free and awesome way to keep watch over your investments. It’s worth it for the fee analyzer alone. I would never recommend anything that I don’t personally use and completely believe in, so give it a try. If you’ve already signed up through the link, please know that you are a fine person of above-average intelligence.

****My 401(k) contributions include my own, Mrs. 15oo’s, and the contributions from my corporation. Self-employment with a solo 401(k) is a very powerful savings tool. I should have done this years ago.

Join the 10s who have signed up already!

Subscribing will improve your life in incredible ways*.

*Only if your life is pretty bad to begin with.

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34 Responses to Performance Update (Day 1703): Rich Ducks and Bloated Guts

  1. Sounds like your finding your purpose and things to keep you engaged in retirement, even if you do indicate focus can still be an issue. Retirement doesn’t fix issues or change who you are so I’m not surprised your finding yourself in some ways in the same places. Still wish you all the best in it. It takes time to adapt to major changes. I’ll be interested to see how the syndication works out.

  2. Congrats on the increase in your net worth. Seems like by the end of the year have the potential to double what your original goal would have been, which is incredible!!! It’s amazing what happens when you pursue your passions and the money falls in line behind you 🙂

    Congrats!!!
    Mustard Seed Money recently posted…Sell in May and Go Away; Buy Again on St. Leger DayMy Profile

  3. How exciting that Mrs. 1500 found a job that fits her interest and skill sets at FinCon! Good luck with the start of the upcoming new job, Mrs. 1500!
    Mrs. Adventure Rich recently posted…Adventure Challenge #5: Friday Night LightsMy Profile

  4. Sue says:

    Another great month!

    My husband and I are interested in syndication as well. It would be fgreat if you write a blog post on how you do your due diligence. I have been reading and researching but it’s been a slow process on finding the information.

  5. Wow, you’re brave to post those pictures! Nice motivation though. 🙂

    “Everyone seems to be terrified about the near term direction of the markets. I’m not scared, but I am surprised that the markets have held up as well as they have.”

    You’re telling me! If you had told me 5 years ago when I FIREd that we’d still be in a Bull Market, I would have said you’re crazier than a cat on catnip. But here we are.
    Mr. Freaky Frugal recently posted…Books for free!My Profile

  6. I love reading the positive results, both on the net worth side, and on the aspect of sticking with the blog until you made something out of it! As a side note, I’m a physical education teacher, runner / triathlete and would love to give you tips or exercise ideas for your weight loss challenge! Weight loss is a bit like how your blog started, slow with small results and then bam, things start happening!
    PedalsforPennies recently posted…Become an expert at something!My Profile

  7. Steveark says:

    No boomer is ever going to consume something called Soylent. We can’t stop hearing Chuck Heston screaming “it’s people!”(obscure boomer reference). I’m slightly early retired and after 2 years of only side gigging one to two days a week I just watched my net worth climb up an additional 100k for an all time family record. I also subscribe to the 4% rule but like you prefer not to withdraw anything as long as the side gigs are making plenty of cash. Congrats on your success and an excellent blog!

  8. MrWow says:

    Oh Sh!t the nuclear option does not sound good!!!!! I better get my a$$ in gear. This isn’t in the plan. And with football season underway, the siren’s song of nachos, wings and beer is becoming louder. MUST PRESS ON!!!!!!

    Really, congrats on the increases. The job for the Mrs sounds awesome! It’s cool to have a job that you really love, and be able to do it without the need for the cash.

    And it’s amazing to see how much the increases have been without even really trying. I feel like that’s the whole point.

    Now… back to my fruit bowl!
    MrWow recently posted…Squashing the TrashsquatchMy Profile

    • Mrs. 1500 says:

      Nachos are SO GOOD.

      So are Chicken Wings, dripping with sauce, dipped in Bleu Cheese Dressing.

      Beer. Sweet, delicious Beer.

      You should have some, you deserve it. You’ve got this!

  9. Andrew says:

    Congrats, you’re on your way to hitting the $2m, mark!

    Have you looked at the Keto/Ketogenic diet? It’s been very successful for losing weight for me, without feeling like I’m on a really restrictive diet. Reddit has a ton of good resources for it, too.

    Also, yes, there is a good keto soylent called ketochow. It tastes like a milkshake.

  10. Joe says:

    You guys are doing so well. Blogging is fun, but it’s not a huge money maker unless you’re a superstar. I guess it’s like the music business.
    Keep at it with fitness. I took the summer off from working out because the kid was around. I lost 2 pounds. School is back in session so I’m going back to the gym again. Losing weight is tough for me. I just hope to maintain the same weight.
    Joe recently posted…How We’re Generating Passive Income in 2017My Profile

  11. I like your story Mr 1500! Your hard work, patience and dedication are starting to pay off. You are much smarter than me, since you seem to be heavily investing in building relationships. This is one skill that will always be valuable, even if S&P 500 goes to $0 tomorrow… (comrades)

    It is great to see that you are in a position to avoid tapping into that nest egg of yours, and live off side income…

    Best of luck in your journey! Hope your story inspires others to better their lives!

    DGI
    Dividend Growth Investor recently posted…The Magic Dividend CocktailMy Profile

  12. ESI Money says:

    The retirement police are going to come get you! 😉

    I do the same thing — retired from full-time work but love to blog. It is “work” in that it requires effort, but it’s also a passion so it doesn’t feel like work. Kind of like mountain biking or hiking. (they both require effort, too)

    So do what you like and have a blast.

    BTW, you need to get out in the sun more… 🙂
    ESI Money recently posted…All about Coin Collecting: Is It an Investment or a Hobby?My Profile

  13. I, too, need to work on my gut.

    I developed a hernia on the first day of our last Europe trip, so no weights or crossfit for me. But I can still do cardio (provided it cools the fuck down here in Phoenix soon).

    Excuses, excuses.

    I don’t know if I’m ready to go full soylent (what’s it made of again?) but diet is surely my culprit. Tacos are bad for you? Who knew?
    Done by Forty recently posted…The Triumphant Return of Budget Porn!My Profile

  14. Crispy Doc says:

    Soylent makes me think back to Tommy Lasorda pitching slimfast:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfUE5XPthdM
    I hope you land an endorsement deal.

    I look to your penultimate post’s breathtaking photo of hiking Mount Sanitas (latin for sanity and health) and suspect life is giving you a hint with all the subtlety of a bully giving a wedgie: “To get healthy, spend more time on the mountain. Also, gimme your lunch money.” Glad you are incorporating this component of the fitness plan.

    Thrilled that Mrs.1500 landed her dream job. Happy wife, happy life!

  15. Tara says:

    Yours is one of the few old blogs still out there that actually is personal and that is why I keep returning. While I don’t need to know the nitty gritty of yours or anyone’s life, it’s nice to see updates or personal opinion pieces that aren’t drafted for the sole purpose of getting affiliate income or SEO.

    Anyways I did want to ask, do you all get health insurance through your wife’s work? If so, I’m sure that helps. And if she’s cool with working for a while longer, I say amen to that. She gave up her career temporarily to help raise kids–as a woman its refreshing to see a family take turns with who gets to work (although you are still working technically).

    • Tara, thanks so much for the kind comments! Much appreciated. I’m blushing a little over here!

      And yep, the wife gets our health insurance and this is a big one that I’m thankful for, especially with kids.

  16. Justin says:

    Man, you edged me out on the net worth front by a tiny fraction of a million. I bet we’ll both cross the $2,000,000 threshold in the same month though! Will it be in a few months or will it be in several years after the next crash? Don’t you wish we could know that now! 😉
    Justin recently posted…August 2017 Financial UpdateMy Profile

    • “Will it be in a few months or will it be in several years after the next crash? ”

      I had that exact same thought! Fun to think about either way.

      I hope we cross the $2,000,000 threshold at the same time. I’m picturing us both running in slow motion. Chariots of Fire is blasting. We’re both wearing skimpy running shorts. We break the tape simultaneously, come to a stop and give each other sweaty high-fives. Our wives come up behind us and dump beer on our heads…

      Mmmmmm, beer…

  17. Not a fan of the Soylent Green!

    This actually is one of my (minor) worries. I’ll work till I get to my “magic” number and 4% rule, and then find that I’m still making money and could have retired earlier. Arggh!

    Still, congratulations and keep up the good work, and the great updates!
    Mr. 39 months@39months.com recently posted…Good post on what to do with the credit breach at EquifaxMy Profile

  18. Mr. Tako says:

    Nice net-worth growth Carl! So it sounds like you’re not tapping your net worth at all, just living off your income from the blog / wife’s job.

    Nice work if you can get it. I don’t think most blogs make much money (mine certainly doesn’t), so you’re one of the more successful blogs.

    I think you deserve it though… you tell a good story.
    Mr. Tako recently posted…Making A Better TacoMy Profile

  19. On your battle of the bulge and this is coming from a guy who has done a protein shake diet two times (they did work, I lost weight in record time, but off course packed it on even faster after the diet) and is about 25 kg overweight.
    What you are doing is really not good. I completely understand the mindset: you want to get rid of the fat as fast possible thinking you’ll do the healthy eating and sports after you get rid of the belly (see the two protein diets above). But you are setting yourself up for some jojo fluctuations in your weight. Which is not healthy (take it from a guy who is a textbook example of jojo-ing).
    financialfreedomsloth recently posted…Monthly expense report: AugustMy Profile

  20. Woohoo! I love seeing that net worth grow. 🙂 The power of compounding and smart choices, eh? I love how Mrs. 1500 got a job through FinCon! I’m excited to see all the dorky and wonderful things that can happen there in almost a month.
    Mrs. Picky Pincher recently posted…Wait–So What Is Non-Consumerism?My Profile

  21. Great progress on the net worth, Carl! My blog’s revenues just about covers its hosting costs so no significant net income to speak of. I often get mails complimenting me on the “magazine quality” of my original articles, so I would certainly like to learn from you how to syndicate content. I would appreciate a mail or I can call you at your convenience to learn more.
    Ten Factorial Rocks recently posted…Angel Investing: The Devil is in the DetailsMy Profile

  22. These days “retired” can mean “working at something I like soooo much more than my previous job.” Congratulations to the two of you for finding the stuff you like soooo much more.

    And see you at FinCon17.
    Donna Freedman recently posted…Credit or debit? Here’s what consumers say.My Profile

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