August is over. That’s a little depressing. I want to live in a place where I don’t get invitations for “End of Summer (Choose Activity).” I want to live somewhere where the weather is hot year ’round—it’s how I’m meant to live.
Anyway, August was tough, financially speaking. We had some out-of-the-ordinary car expenses which just reinforces my desire to downsize our vehicles once they’re paid off (only a few more months, now). As for other costs like home appliances repair and home renovations, I was glad I’d read some home warranty reviews and purchased a home warranty, because it’s those costs that are paying for almost all of repairs right now. We also bought some new ones off of Unclutterer because some were beyond repair. We’re currently thinking about selling the ‘Vette and E500 for a used Honda CR-V. Seems like good gas mileage, good family size, relatively low cost-to-own….thoughts from the crowd? Is this a terrible car that will put my family in danger?
Markets were also way down. The numbers below are through September 1st, so that even makes it look worse than it is (markets were down almost 3% on Sep. 1st, and have recovered a bit since then). The chaos caused me to write about how to keep your head when markets get sporty.
The Path to Financial Independence
My passive income plus side hustling covered just 10.9% of my expenses in August. While passive income continued its rise, it just couldn’t match the near 50% increase in expenses we saw in August.
It’s tough to watch month-to-month fluctuations, which is why I like it’s important to think long term. The trend is certainly positive, and I’m still confident that retirement is less than five years away—I just need to stick to the plan.
See Investment Portfolio for Full List of Holdings and Details
Paid In August: $855.06
Previous Forward Dividend Income: $762.95
New Forward Dividend Income: $776.23 (+1.7%)
This is the only part of this month’s report that I’ll enjoy writing. Another 1.7% rise in dividend income (same as July). That’s pretty phenomenal considering I didn’t add any new capital to the pile (except for 401(k) deferral). If I can compound at that rate for a few years, I’ll be home free.
August saw dividend increases from Scotts Miracle Gro (SMG) and China Mobile (CHL) and I re-upped some covered calls on Apple and Netflix. August was a busy month for transactions, partly due to the market volatility.
I sold a trifecta of S-named companies: SALE, SINA, and SODA. SALE (RetailMeNot) kept going down and it was becoming apparent it was not so much a result of Google algorithm changes, but more a result of SALE not being able to quickly adapt to mobile—which is obviously a total no-go. That’s too bad, as I was bullish on them for quite some time.
SINA became a play that was far more about the book value than about the business potential. I’ve been down that road before, and I know that companies can trade for pennies on the dollar of book value if there’s no growth and no buyout potential. SINA is a bit like the Yahoo! of China, and I don’t want to be in that game anymore.
SODA was one company where I just didn’t read the trend correctly. When I purchased SODA four or five years ago, the thought was “Hey, people love soda. People love saving money. Look how popular the Keurig is; SodaStream is the Keurig of soda!”
Well, it didn’t quite work out like that. The value proposition for at-home soda just really isn’t there. A 2-liter will run you 79¢ on sale at the grocery store, and the cost of a syrup pack for a one-liter sodastream is about a dollar. Yes, it’s also not full of artificial sweeteners, but if you’re drinking soda in the first place, then you’re usually not the kind of health-conscious consumer that will pay up for such things. Oh well. Win some, lose some.
With those proceeds I initiated a position in the dividend-payer LionsGate Films (LGF). They yield only .75%, but they should increase that dividend next week (as they historically have done), and annually thereafter. Content is king, and LionsGate has a very economical way of making and licensing films that allow it a lot of flexibility in production.
I also bought Zeltiq Aesthetics (ZLTQ). This is a super exciting opportunity that I see as a potential ten-bagger. I have a lengthy write-up on this opportunity here.
I also bought 32 more shares of Kinder Morgan (KMI) with the proceeds of some covered calls. KMI’s underlying business, backlog, and environment couldn’t be much stronger. They are a tollbooth for commodities, so very low prices don’t have a huge impact on the business. KMI is going to be a huge income driver for me for years to come.
Paid In August: $0.00
Previous Forward Interest: $42.24
New Forward Interest: $42.49
My annual interest payment for my annuity occurs in April. I’ll continue contributing a little bit each month to this account.
My initial goal for Retire29 was to hit 60,000 page views for 2015. That is looking like a certainty, and I’ll probably have that accomplished in a next couple weeks. That feels pretty good, but it means that I probably need to adjust my goals a bit.
Facebook’s unofficial policy is that it wants its products to reach one billion users before it starts to monetize them. Retire29 is a bit like that (although with a slightly lower number). I’m not that concerned with upping the ante on ads and such. I’d rather get my message out to a lot more people without ads in the reading pane and all that. Not that anything is wrong with that, just not my direction right now. So, with the page views goal accomplished, I’m going to start looking at a page views proxy—my Alexa ranking. I’m going to shoot for a top 500,000 website by year’s end. That seems adequately aggressive. At a certain point down the line, I’ll start looking at more monetization. For now, it’s great that my two adsense ads cover my hosting and domain registration fees.
Look at that horror show. We cleared the NYC apartment on August 4th, so there were several hundred in costs associated with going up there and clearing it out. September and onward we should have a consistent $2,900 or so in housing costs. Man, we have an expensive mortgage. We took it out when we had a dual-income no kids household. Now, one income, one kid.
We had a $1,700 car repair bill. Mercedes are ridiculously expensive to maintain—another reason to get that one off the books. The rest is just standard car payments and a couple tanks of gas. I hate it that it’s “standard.” Thankfully the payments are almost over. Only a few more months, Eric….
Travel is actually a bright spot. $22 for a trip back to Minnesota for a wedding. Staying with my brother (Thanks, Brother29) and flights were free (credit card hacking is the real deal). Another bright spot is dining. $176, for us, is a moderate success. We tend to dine out at least once a week, and we did a food truck rally in August. We’re definitely getting better at increasing our grocery consumption, and eating healthier, I like the direction those two categories are moving.
Brutal. Net worth is actually a bit better than it looks, as these numbers are through September 1st as I said up above. Over this period, Net Worth was down 5.9%, against the S&P down 8.9%. So, it’s almost all markets related. Add to that a bad expense month, and we end with a net worth of $329,108. Oh well. Passive income was up—so that’s what really matters to me.
Thanks for reading and following along, as always!
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