October, I hardly knew ye. It’s not officially winter yet in Northern Virginia, but summer is definitely over. The Vikings and Timberwolves (for now) are looking better than most thought they would. After 8 months of bliss, the wife has once again discovered the thermostats, and has commenced her hourly pilgrimages to them to pump the dry heat.
Halloween was awesome! As you can see from the photo, we again went with a biblical theme. I figure, if you’re going to dress up as somebody, you may as well dress up as Christ. The baby was my shepherd protege, and the wife played Mary Magdalene. We’ve been the same things for several years now, but people still recognize me.
We took a trip to Orlando to hit the beaches and visit SeaWorld. We drank the Kool-Aid after watching the Blackfish documentary last year, but now that we’ve heard the other side of things, I’m once again pro-Orca enslavement. They sure are amazing creatures, especially when they perform dance routines to today’s best music.
There is some good stuff in the posts queue for November. Of the seven posts I’m looking to push out this month, I’d say a good four to five will actually be worth your time. Stay Tuned.
Looking back, five “non-update” posts hit the presses at Retire29 in October:
- I made the philosophical argument about why you need a blog
- I showed, in heavy-stats detail about how today is the easiest moment in history to retire early
- I did a deep dive into side hustling, and gave you 15 side hustle ideas
- I attacked the mainstream financial media when they blamed math for our retirement woes
- Lastly, I gave a tutorial on credit card hacking, and how we’re making over $500 per month just by living as we normally do
The stock markets had their best month in four years, with the S&P 500 up 8.3% for the month. You’ll see below how that affected my net worth.
Interestingly, the things that normally go well for me (dividends and passive income growth) did poorly this month, while the things that normally do poorly (side hustling) did well.
Let’s get it on!
The Path to Financial Independence
My passive income plus side hustling covered 16.3% of my expenses in October. This is a record high!
See Investment Portfolio for Full List of Holdings and Details
Paid In October: $523.83
Previous Forward Dividend Income: $803.37
New Forward Dividend Income: $795.55 (-0.9%)
Soooo, that wasn’t supposed to happen. My forward dividend income (monthly dividends expected going forward) decreased for the first time ever. October was supposed to be a great month, too. A pile of companies increased their dividends last month: Kinder Morgan, Holly Energy, Middlesex Water, Starbucks, Valero, Aflac, and RPM International. However, I was bit by the energy drop. Hi-Crush partners, who had been getting absolutely killed, suspended their dividend.
Hi-Crush mines fine grain sand for use in fracking operations. With nat gas prices at unprecedented lows, more and more rigs are going idle, and Hi-Crush—although still profitable—is halting their dividend temporarily until the demand side gets a clearer. Hi-Crush had been paying me about $20/month in dividends, so this cut hurt a lot. I couldn’t hang with them, either, as it was rather evident that the dividend would be reinstated, at the earliest, a year from now. I put that money in STAG Industrial, a REIT with far more favorable financials.
I also bought more Bank of Internet—a company I see as a ten bagger. Bank of Internet got hammered with, what I believe, is a frivolous lawsuit. I see this drop as a great buying opportunity to obtain ownership in one of today’s great disruptors.
The drop in dividend income puts the year-end goal of $925 (forward dividends + interest) somewhat in doubt. I think $900 is probably more realistic.
Paid In September: $0.00
Previous Forward Interest: $42.74
New Forward Interest: $42.99
My annual interest payment for my annuity occurs in April. I’ll continue contributing a little bit each month to this account.
October saw two goals get accomplished. Reach 60,000 page views for the year, and reach $120 in blog income for the year.
I have no plans to move the goalposts, I met those goals and will set some higher ones for 2016.
Retire29 had it’s most profitable month ever, with $90.02 in revenue and no expenses. $65 of that came from an affiliate payment from BlueHost, my hosting service. Apparently, somebody wants to start a blog (that’s awesome!). The other $25.02 came from Google Adsense. That Adsense amount is low, especially considering I was at about $20 at mid-month. I took away a couple ads to make the viewing experience better. A commenter complained, and I listened. I strayed from my values a little too much and got click-hungry. Adsense will almost certainly fall this month due to those changes.
I also wrote one article for SeekingAlpha. I get a penny per page view, so I got that goin’ for me. If I can somehow churn out seven more articles this year (a longshot) I’ll meet that goal of 12 articles, as well. Each article I write brings me more and more SA followers (now at 293), which raises the floor on pageviews. I’m excited to think how that will look in four or five years, when I’ll be using that money to help augment my retired lifestyle.
Ah yes, expenses. The best part of my expenses is that a big portion is actually debt paydown (about $800 in mortgage and $700 car loans). Travel was higher than normal for SeaWorld tickets, our cat babysitter, rental car (didn’t realize I could’ve used points for this, ugh), and part of one train ticket for Thanksgiving (the rest were covered by points).
Auto was also high. Virginia levies property taxes on personal vehicles, so that was $380. I hope next year to have that cut in half (sell one car), and the Mercedes will be paid off this month. Both of our cars are ridiculously low in miles (20k and 60k), so we’re not exactly needing another car payment any time soon. It’s a grind, but it’s getting there. Home/Other was actually negative since we returned some stuff we had bought in September.
Oh, and let’s finish up with food. $100 of that $284 in dining was actually one meal. An all-you-can-eat buffet of high-quality seafood in Orlando (Boston Lobster Feast). I would’ve never sprung for such a lavish affair, but that’s why I have my wife; she keeps me balanced. It was worth it (the dinner, that is. And the wife.)
Everything else is pretty normal. My company also put out our medical insurance premiums for 2016. No changes, thank God.
2016 is shaping up to be pretty sweet. No car payments, half the insurance/tax for the cars, credit card hacking in full force. Yep, should be pretty dandy.
Net worth rose 5.7% this month to $352,242 (all time high). The S&P was up 8.3%, so I trailed the index. However, a lot (20%) of my net worth is in home equity/cars/cash. Likewise, 20% of my investments are in annuities and bonds—so my returns tend to be a bit less volatile than the markets.
While October trailed, my net worth is up 18.8% for the year, against an S&P which is up just 2.2%. Not bad.
Thanks for reading and following along, as always! I’m looking forward to a great November with you!
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