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 in 2016, my 1500 Days are over, and I’ve left my job. In the interest of openness, I’ll continue to share my numbers.
Perhaps the greatest quality that allows me to have a successful FIRE life is just this:
*Most of the time.
When on vacation last month, Mrs. 1500 and I went to a fancy restaurant, Frontera Grill in Chicago. Frontera was once ranked as the third-best casual dining restaurant in the world. Here is what some of our food looked like:
It was good. Very good. It was probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had. However, I have a confession:
Taco Bell is pretty great too.
Taco Bell doesn’t cost $171 for two people like Frontera did and I still enjoy it. Yep, I said it.
The truth is that I’m not fancy:
What is the opposite of “fancy?”
All of the above? Sign me up!
I’m sorry about that.
I can think of two other times that the Mrs. and I went out for a fancy dinner.
The first was almost 20 years ago when we went to one of those fancy steak houses. It was very good, but I’m more into cheeseburgers than hunks of meat, so I don’t need to ever do that again.
The second time was when we went to one of those Brazilian steak houses. The shit they had on the salad bar was so good, I loaded up on that and didn’t eat much of the meat the place is famous for. I felt like a bit of an idiot, but what the hell, I enjoyed the fancy coleslaw and potato salad, so whatever. Again, I don’t need to return.
Do you know what else is pretty great? Experimenting with food at home:
Retirement gives you the time to play with recipes and diet. I’ve made the best food of my life now that I’ve had time to make a recipe ten times, tweaking with every iteration. I don’t enjoy the cooking part as much as some do, but I sure enjoy the eating.
And then there are dumpling parties…
Get These Things Right!
Achieving FIRE isn’t about counting every penny. It’s about getting housing, transportation, and food right. Unless you have some other crazy addiction (live sports, purses, watches, cars, plastic dinosaurs) the small stuff doesn’t matter much.
Housing: Our current home set us back about $175,000 in 2013. This was cheap then by Boulder County standards. It’s especially cheap now.
Cars: Up until FIRE, our vehicles were a 2003 Honda Element and a 2019 Mazda 5. I do all of the maintenance on them. After FIRE, I let it rip a little and bought a silly toy car. Judge if you want, but remember that sequence matters. I bought the car post FIRE, only when its purchase would have little to no impact on our finances. Besides, it’s supposedly appreciated since we bought it.
Food: We mostly eat at home, but when we eat out. we are not above Taco Bell.
July Spending: $5836.45
Spending in the summer is higher than average. The girls are out of school, so we spend time on the road. Besides the mortgage, here were our three biggest expenses.
Travel related stuff ($1948.32): Oof! This includes hotels, RAGBRAI registrations, and other miscellaneous travel-related expenses. We stayed in Madison Wisconsin for three nights. Hotels there aren’t cheap and I paid for a second room for a family member that was along for the ride.
Eating out ($989.86): When we weren’t staying at hotels, we were staying with friends and family. One thing we always do is take our host out to eat to show our gratitude. We spent a lot of money on food as a result, but still came out ahead. And besides, it’s good to do something nice for other humans when you can.
Gas ($380.60): Roadtrip.
Most Fun Expense
In St. Louis, we went to the City Museum. This is a massive kids’ play area that looks like it was designed by a madman. It’s completely epic:
July Performance Update
July was an awesome month for the old portfolio. We started the month with a net worth of $2,262,170 and ended at $2,305,191 for a gain of $43,021:
2019 (as of 7/31/2019)
- Days elapsed: 212
- July gains: $43,021
- 2019 gains: $240,751 (including 401(k) and HSA contributions**** of $27,142)
Since the start (1/1/2013)
- Days elapsed: 2404
- Gains since 1/1/2013: $1,204,148
- Investment portfolio and cash value: $1,790,191
- Net worth (investment portfolio plus home equity, a silly toy car (Acura NSX!), bikes, and dinosaurs): $2,305,191
We have a diverse portfolio (full listing here) that includes real estate:
- Mobile home park (elevated home living to the easily offended/politically ultra-correct)
- Coworking space: We own a building/small business in Longmont
- Private loan ($40,000)
- Syndication deals (
sixseven totaling $375,000): We just put $100,000 in another deal. I really need to write a post about these deals. Soon…
And stock market holdings:
- Individual stocks (old thinking)
- Index funds (most money goes here now)
In July, we earned $7,787.23 in income from real estate:
- Trailer park: $3,493.72
- Coworking space: $1,000
- Syndications: $2,500
- Mortgage notes: $500.00
- Private loan: $293.51
Some folks rebalance their portfolio between stocks and bonds. I have a very high risk tolerance, so I prefer to hold no bonds and split money between real estate (trailer park, coworking space, syndications, mortgage notes, and private loans) and the markets (index funds and individual stocks). I prefer a 50-50 split. When the split isn’t close to 50-50, I just put new money into the side that’s lagging.
I like the auto-correcting nature of the portfolio. If the stock market takes a big hit and real estate becomes the majority of my holdings, new money will flow into stocks to bring the portfolio back to equilibrium. If stocks have a massive runup, new money will flow to real estate. Easy and simple.
My portfolio is currently split 49/44 between real-estate and the stock market respectively (the other 7% is in cash). With the bull-run we’ve enjoyed in the markets and current valuations, I expect the real estate portion of my portfolio to outperform the stock market over the next 10 years. No complaints as long as there is money coming in to fund my Taco Bell habit.
*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. Since my investment portfolio now sits at $1,550,000, I can spend about $62,000 in my first year of retirement.
**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 was to have enough money put away to cover the mortgage at the time of retirement.
***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. 1500’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.