January 2015 Financial Report

In last month’s report, I had trouble just not harming myself because it was so depressing. Recently, though, things have gotten better. January was a good month in all respects. Expenses down to just over $8k—our best month we’ve ever had by far. Passive income trended upward. Side hustle income finally arrived, and net worth rose by over 3% due to some select stock gains, the annual bonus, and a tax refund. Side Hustle + Forward Passive income paid for 6.7% of our expenses. That’s just terrible, on the surface, but I have a clear plan and believe I’ll grow this to over 20% by the end of the year. January reinforced that belief.

The Financial Independence Chart

Passive Income

Dividends

Paid:

CMU: $0.50
CNI: $8.72
JPS: $129.30

Contributions/Increases (Effect on Avg. Monthly Dividend Income):

All Dividends Reinvested (+$0.74)
JPS Increase from $0.056/mo to $0.058/mo (+$4.65)
KMI Increase from $0.44/qtr to $0.45/qtr (+$0.19)
Started Recognizing 401(k) Dividends (+$21.14)

Forward Monthly Dividend Income:

Was: $178.11
Added: $26.72
Now: $204.83

Passive Income

My monthly forward dividends increased from $178.11 last month to $204.83 this month. I’m obviously cheating a little bit here. Prior to this month, I did not account for dividends in my 401(k) holdings—which are fully invested in the S&P 500. I only counted dividends in my Roth IRA and my Taxable brokerage. Those 401(k) dividends just get rolled into the fund price, so I still get them, but they aren’t ever paid out to me. However, it’s fair to include those in my dividends paid. I’ll continue to include these in the future. I’d expect there to be some of these “bookkeeping” corrections during the first few months of this as I hit my stride.

The other, largest portion of my investments are in non-dividend paying mutual funds in an old 401(k). I’ll roll those funds into an IRA that will be my “dividend growth portfolio.” I opened that account today, so I’ll be making all of those purchases this month. I also learned about Vanguard Social Index Fund and think of investing some money in the future.

The 2015 goal still remains to get to forward dividends of $1,000/mo by the end of this year. A month into 2015, how realistic is that goal? Here’s my projection:

Passive Projection

So, I’ll be the first to say I probably won’t hit $1,000/mo in forward dividends this year. It’s possible, though. This is based on $300 in monthly contributions to my bond ETFs. That could turn out to be more. This also doesn’t include any legitimate employer 401(k) match, which is almost guaranteed. Plus, that dividend increase and dividend reinvestment amount is really a base case—I believe either of those could almost double. I also plan on writing some covered calls on the more stable payers–which might yield an extra $20 or so in forward dividends. $1,000 is possible, but unlikely. I’m guessing I’ll end the year between $875 and $925.

Interest

Paid:

Annuity: $0.00
P2P Lending: $0.00

Added/Increased (Effect on Avg. Monthly Dividend Income):

Annuity Contribution of $75.00 (+$0.25)

Forward Monthly Interest Income:

Was: $40.25
Added: $0.25
Now: $40.50

Interest paid this month was a little more than a rounding error away from zero. My forward interest from my annuity is now at $41/mo.

No Peer-to-Peer lending yet. The annuity pays a large interest payment every April.

A quick background on that annuity. It’s part of my “investments” in my net worth, and the current value of it is just over $12k. I opened it up in the early winter of ’04 while I was young Army Private in Alaska. It was a hard sell salesman who sold me this life-insured annuity. The insurance policy was an absolute joke (in hindsight) given that I was only 18 and already had a huge life insurance policy via the Army. However, the $75 monthly premiums were paid into a fund that was guaranteed 4% annual interest. In 2004, that was terrible (savings accounts were paying 6%). However, today that 4% guarantee makes me look like a savant.  The only unfortunate thing is that I can’t increase those premium payments…oh well.

Passive Income

The goal this year is to reach $70 in forward monthly interest. I actually think I’ll slam dunk that goal. I will contribute all side hustle income (blog and freelance writing) to a Lending Club portfolio. I’ll start off with high quality loans, but as I increase my loan base, I’ll get into more high-yield borrowers. Once I get my first SeekingAlpha or Adsense payment I’ll open that up.

Rent

I own no rental units and, despite my desire, I have no immediate plans to change that. I’m obviously in no financial position to take this on. I’ll call this a 12-month goal to get a rental unit and bring it under lease (maybe our basement).

Side Hustles

Here is the link to January’s Side Hustle Report

Side Hustles

Expenses

Expenses

We dropped our household expenses by over $1,000 this month from our 2014 average. We are still actively looking for work outside NYC so that we can lose the Manhattan apartment. Our success this month was due to trying to get a lot more groceries from Costco using Instacart, continuing to limit cash withdrawals, and having no travel costs. Travel costs will return this month, as we have to head back home to VA for a weekend (+$200). We will move both of our phones to RingPlus plans (-$60), and we’ll continue to just be smart around our food and household purchases.

Other than that, we’re going to continue being a mess until we can move back home as well as sell our crazy car collection. I highlighted in last month’s report that moving back home would net about $3,325 in monthly expense savings, and selling the car collection would be another $600 or so in savings. It’s amazing. Our expenses could be half of what they are…it makes it very motivating to get that done. Here’s an article from a very good personal finance writer about “How to Actually Save Money.” It’s a great read, and it drives home the point that housing, cars, and education are the three areas where you’ll actually save money.

Net Worth

Net Worth

I’ll say it every month: net worth (the sum of assets [including long-term property like houses and cars] less liabilities) just doesn’t matter that much. Passive income is a far greater determinant of one’s ability to be financially independent. However, people like to watch the net worth number. January was pretty good to us despite the fact that the S&P 500 dropped 3.0%.

Net worth jumped over $10k this month. $2k is from my pending tax refund (this shows up in “prepaids”). Netflix and Apple are my two largest holdings, and both of them had fabulous Januarys (made about $5k there). And lastly, I received my annual bonus (NYC taxes are insane, btw). After you net out the $8k in expenses (which is $2k more than I make in salary), you end up with a $10k increase.

Net Worth Chart

A quick note on taxes. Moving from NYC back to VA results in an immediate 4.35% pay increase due to decreased taxes. For me, that’s another $400 a month in my pocket. When you also think about cost of living, the pay differential is amazing.

Tax Rates Right Now

NY City – 3.65%
NY State – 6.45%
Total – 10.1%

Potential
VA – 5.75%

Thank you for reading!

Eric

4 Comments

  1. Nice update for January!
    Your monthly passive income is impressive – it will be interesting to see if you’re able to make good on toning down your monthly expenses.
    I’ve also gotten off the net worth train over the last year or so as I’m focused more on being able to sustain my simple lifestyle on passive income.
    Do you have a target date to move outta NYC?

    • Jonny,
      Thanks for stopping by! A target date for moving is ASAP, so it’s a priority and we’re making strides each day in securing new employment. We have a number of “irons in the fire” but as you can guess, nothing is certain until it’s on paper. My hunch is that we’ll be out within 30 days. Finger’s crossed.

      Eric

  2. Eric, great progress here in January. Looks like you’re doing a heck of a job with the side hustle income (I went and read that post). Seeking Alpha looks like it will be a great benefit to you and your site once you’re able to leverage that platform fully.

    As a note, some of the print on your ‘snapshots’ from Excel don’t show up very clearly. Maybe it is the bolding, but most pretty much any cell with a white background and text is tough to read.

    • W2R,
      Yes, SeekingAlpha has started off very well–I’m looking forward to keeping that going forever. Thank you for letting me know about the display on some of those tables. I’ve fixed them.

      Thanks for stopping by and for commenting!

      Eric

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