April’s Financial Reports can best be summed up by Rebecca Black in her infamous Youtube hit Friday.
“We-We-We so excited. We so excited. We gonna have a ball today.”
The Path to Financial Independence
The ultimate graph of financial independence shows that my forward passive income plus side hustles covered 15.2% of our expenses in April. That’s more than 6% higher than last month’s 9.1%. This is pretty exciting given the many opportunities still available for significant expense reduction (we’ll get to that below) as well as side hustles increasing. Our NYC apartment is now fully subletted, and is marginally profitable after netting out fees and utilities. It will stay this way throughout the summer until we’re finally free and clear of the lease in August. We-we-we so excited, indeed, to finally be making big strides in the right direction.
The goal of covering 30% of expenses by the end of the year remains a possibility, although perhaps not a probability.
See Investment Portfolio for Full List of Holdings and Details
Paid In April: $465.35
Previous Forward Dividend Income: $679.80
New Forward Dividend Income: $714.43 (+5.1%)
April is a pretty slow month for dividend payments. The first month in any given fiscal quarter (like, April, July, or October), is always slow. In April we saw dividend increases from Proctor & Gamble, Costco, Apple, Holly Energy and Southern Company. I also wrote some covered calls on Apple before they reported earnings and used those proceeds to increase my position in Visa. I lightened a bit on Netflix and Universal Display (two non-dividend payers that were getting quite richly valued), and reinvested the sale proceeds into more Apple and an initial position in Potash. I was also given a gift, which was nearly all invested in my favorite Muni Bond ETF, CMU.
Using E-Trade’s handy “Income Estimator” tool, I can quickly see that I’ll receive about $824 this month (May), and another $720 next month (June). Of course, the actual payments will be slightly higher than that, given that my monthly dividend payers (O, CMU, JPS) will have more shares next month after this month’s payments reinvest, as well as the fact that Pepsi, Textainer, American Express, National Oilwell Varco, and Deere will likely all increase their dividends this month, and several of those newly-increased dividends will pay out in June. I’ll probably sprinkle in a purchase or two as well.
I don’t expect 5.1% month-over-month increases in dividends very often. For the rest of the year I’m looking at about 3.0% month-over-month increases, which will put me at just over $900/mo in forward dividends—a bit short of my 2015 goal of getting to $1,000/mo in forward dividends.
Paid In April: $465.55
Previous Forward Interest: $41.05
New Forward Interest: $41.37
I received my annual interest payment for my annuity in April. I’ll continue contributing a little bit each month to this account.
No change from last month. Our consumer debt situation from our vehicles needs to get squared away first. The pending tax refund and a withdrawal from our annuity will pay off one vehicle, which we’ll be able to sell once we receive the title. Those dollars will be used to purchase a family-friendly vehicle, and the excess will go to paying off our other vehicle (and subsequently selling) and paying down our no-interest CC debt. After that, we’ll look into the rental game.
I wrote one article in April, which brought me up to four on the year (on pace for my goal of 12). I now have 94 followers on SeekingAlpha—which is about the same as the number of Facebook friends I have. My hope is that I keep increasing this followers number by writing great analysis on an ever-broadening scope of companies. If I have a few thousand followers by the time I retire, then that could establish a nice, solid floor of pageviews for each post I write.
Retire29 garnered a little over 100 views per day. I’m not exactly sure how good or bad that is, but at least I have confidence that people outside my immediate family are now starting to read the blog—so I got that goin’ for me. Six bucks a month for writing a couple blog posts per week? That might not be a lot now, but in no time this blog might start paying for its own hosting fee!
Housing expenses are finally under control. We’ve got sublets securing our apartment for the remainder of the lease, so those sky high housing costs are a thing of the past.
We’ve also cracked the code on dining expenses. We now combine RetailMeNot coupons with gift cards purchased on Raise or Cardpool. When you combine all of that with ½ price happy hour specials, you can throw together dinner, lunch, and leftovers for a family of three for $20-25. I’ve also begun buying gift cards for things I’m buying anyway, like Wal-Mart and CVS for groceries—if you’re going to buy something, why not get 5-20% off at the register? You still get cash-back or rewards for the purchases made at the gift card sites, so it’s kind of a no-brainer.
Utilities are still a bit high, but April marked a great month for energy efficiency. We’ve replaced all our recessed lights with CFLs, I’ve installed insulation for our hot water pipes and for our water heater, as well as 40-watt CFLs for all of our fixtures. These are great investments that have annual ROIs above 100%. I bought all of that at Lowe’s using (you guessed it) gift cards. Check out eBay (use this link for pref-filled search) for online gift cards for $15 off a $50 purchase. The ROI for energy-saving devices gets that much better when you have to pay less for them.
Travel was negative this month as a result of cash-back and rewards credits that hit the account. I think the most appropriate way to account for credit card rewards is to offset expenses that were used to generate those rewards.
I’m excited about the $5,343 in expenses this month. Given that we’re at this level while still having two luxury cars, high utilities, and high “home/other” as a result of those energy efficiency items as well as pre-purchasing gift cards all bodes well for my desire to get that number to $5,000 by year end.
As always, Net Worth is a rather poor indicator of one’s financial independence, however, people like using it for comparative purposes, so I oblige. My net worth rose 5.6% this month to $336,797. That’s thanks in no small part to killer earnings from Netflix, which was up about 35% in April, a nice gift I received, as well as a heady 2% gain in the overall S&P.
I have no specific net worth goals, per se. I reckon my Net Worth will be somewhere around $700k by the time I retire, however, that is just an approximation. $700k from today would be about 18% annual growth. That seems pretty ballsy to make such a prediction, until you think that every month I pay about $1,500 toward debt (that will increase my net worth by 5.3% this year), passive income will be over $9k over the next year (2.8%), and just raw contributions to savings will be $40-45k (another ~12.6%).
As you can see, adding up debt paydown, passive income, and savings contributions, my net worth will increase about 21%–and that’s not counting on a dime in market returns–which is historically a very reasonable thing to assume.
Thanks for reading and following along, as always!
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