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:
- At the end of 2013, I dragged Mrs. 1500 to FinCon, a financial media conference.
- She went to a breakout session and sat in the front row.
- When the session started, she realized that she was at the wrong place. However, she felt bad about leaving, so stayed.
- 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.
- Mrs. 1500 wrote some blog posts for the company. She didn’t get paid anything, but was passionate about the subject matter.
- At the next FinCon in 2014, Mrs. 1500 chatted with the founder again.
- 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:
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)
- Days elapsed: 242
- 2017 gains: $192,995 (including 401(k) contributions**** of $44,000 and car purchase of -$45,000)
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:
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.
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.
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:
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?
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*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.
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****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.
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