Introducing One Life To Live: A Quarterly Update on How We Fuel Our Happiness

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One Life to Live is our new quarterly update on how financial independence plays an integral part in fueling our true happiness. We all have one life to live, but the question is, are we making the best of it? Are we living it in the richest way possible? We hope that our lifestyle answers those questions as we continue to optimize for happiness. Carpe Diem!

Welcome Enchumbao readers,

We’re excited to bring this quarterly section where we drop a few lines and provide some essential FIRE updates. For our “numbers lover” readers,  you can expect to see a high-level update on our passive income and essential expenses in One Life to Live. By concentrating on these two categories, we’ll explore how our income would’ve covered those expenses if we were already retired. This way of thinking will set us up to continue discussing how we’ll cover our bills with passive income after early retirement .

For the “lifestyle” readers that want to follow our journey beyond just numbers, we’ll provide updates on what we’ve been up to for the last quarter including challenges, goals, fun stuff and life adventures.

Especially now that we’ve reached FI, life is not just about making more money and, instead, is about optimizing for happiness. In the header photo of this post, you see the products of Mrs. Enchumbao’s labor of peeling peas at her godmom’s summer-house outside of Minsk, Belarus in 2016. If she spent an hour peeling peas to save money, it would make more sense to just buy a few bags of peeled pees at the grocery store instead. If you think she’d do that to save money, you’re missing the point.

Peeling peas brought her awesome memories of her childhood. Each summer, when the school was out and she visited her grandma in Minsk, she spent countless hours working the land at her grandmom’s summer-house. There she could help care for the growing fruits and veggies, de-weed the plots of land, and collect the delicious fruits of the labor. She spent the time talking with her grandma and other family there, singing old folk songs, and, quite often, sneaking in bites of the ripened harvest along the way.

So, when the opportunity came up to peel the peas out of their pods with her family on her first trip back in 18 years, she gladly jumped in and was transported back in time in an instant. During those hours, she had a sense of true happiness, while doing a little manual labor.

Money can bring happiness when used properly. Having financial freedom gives us the opportunity to enjoy our time on our own terms. We’re at a point in our lives where we want to maximize our happiness and that includes spending time on the things that really matter.

We hope you enjoy this section as much as we are. The first quarter of the year is behind us and these are some of the highlights of our happiness optimization awesomeness.

Adventures

Virginia road trip

We finally had our first vacation of the year. It was a well-received vacation after having a rough February, on the personal side of things. We spent 9 days exploring the state of Virginia at the end of last month. It was awesome learning more about the history of the state. Post coming soon on our experience!

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We walked around pretending to be college students at the University of Virginia. The Rotunda is pictured above.

Road to retirement

Last year we decided to split our FIRE goal into individual goals, instead of concentrating on one big number. Our first financial goal was to reach a certain number in income-producing assets that would generate enough income to cover $30-$35k in annual spending in retirement. We met that goal in January.

Our second goal is to save enough funds to buy a house. Our FIRE strategy from day one has been to first reach FI by investing only in income-producing assets and then save for a house, if desired. Once we meet this goal, we’ll retire from our careers.

Passive income and expenses

Essential expenses

We know by now that not all expenses are of equal importance. Basic or essential expenses are expenses that we can’t do without. We want to focus on these kind of expenses on a quarterly basis because once we retire these are the expenses that we can’t easily cut out of our budget if we feel the need to reduce spending. Even though our expenses will look different in retirement, we want to know our absolute number. That is how much we’ll need to cover our basics needs.

Retirement, it’s all about being flexible. We’re planning to withdraw no more than 3.5% of our portfolio balance on a quarterly basis after we retire. If the market is down for an extended period and we don’t want to sell at a loss, it’s nice to know that we can reduce expenses to accomplish that. The great news is that we are doing this out of precaution, since we feel confident that withdrawing 3.5% gives us over a 90% chance of our portfolio lasting us a lifetime.

We can easily reduce our discretionary expenses while continuing to live an awesome life. For these quarterly updates, we’ll not worry about reporting on discretionary spending. We do keep track of all our expenses and we’ll continue to post our total spending on an annual basis.

Streamlined reporting

We’re streamlining these reports as much as possible, so it takes as  little time as possible to produce, therefore, giving us time back to get back to living our lives. It stays within our theme of having one life to live and maximizing our time for happiness. I enjoy blogging, but I also enjoy other things in life and I want to continue to keep a nice balance between blogging and other life’s pleasures.

What will be included in our reports? At the end of the day, people need food, shelter, mobility, ability to pay the bills and take care of debt payments (that’s not me anymore). So, these are the expenses that we’ll concentrate on.

Keeping our basic expenses low was a crucial step in reaching financial independence. By freeing money spent in these categories we were able to buy financial independence, enjoy life’s experiences, and have the ability to help others. All roads ultimately lead to more happiness in our daily lives. 

Basic spending for Q1-2017

This is how we spent on essential needs during the first quarter. Everyone should at least track their spending on essentials to have an idea of their minimum amount needed to cover them in case of income loss.

 Main Category

 Quarter Amount 

2017 Monthly Average

Comments

*Net Rent -$873-$291Our rental property brought in $4,323 in net income for the quarter. We apply these payments to our rent and have a surplus for the quarter.
Bills & Utilities$519$173
Debt Payments$0$0
Groceries$2,009$669.66We prepaid $507 for a fruits and veggies co-op for summer and fall.
Auto & Transportation $986$328.66We spent $550 to replace all 4 rotors. 🙁 Sad to spend but happy to keep our car well-maintained.
Home Supplies$297 $99

Total

$2,938

$979.32

That’s it! It’s a very high-level, streamlined quarterly report of our basic needs. We’ve gotten really good at managing money so the rest of our spending only needs to be scrutinized, if our financial situation changes or spending gets out of whack. If you’d like to see our latest annual spending report, you can click here.

*Our rental property brought in extra income due to past due payments. We’ll be making some repairs this quarter, so we anticipate less income on that front.

This property proved to be a great investment. While it’s pleasant to see our real estate investment do well, it makes the decision of getting rid of the property, prior to retirement, a lot more difficult for us. It certainly makes us entertain the idea of continuing to invest in real estate after retirement.

Dividend Income for Q1-2017

We received $3,650.23 in dividend income for the first quarter. Dividend income will be our main source of passive income in retirement.

With $3,650 in dividend income and $2,938 in basic spending (after computing rent income), we had a $712 “surplus” for the quarter. If we were retired, we could allocate that money to travel, eating out or to any other discretionary expense, but we’re still working at a 9 to 5, so all this money gets reinvested. 🙂

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Our dividends increased by a large percentage because we invested a nice amount of cash in our brokerage account that we had set aside to buy a property abroad.

Speaking of eating, let’s move on to our next section to see what we’ve been cooking lately.

From the chef’s kitchen

Cooking your own meals is a great way to eat healthy and save money. A great advantage is that you can cook with better ingredients and know what’s going into your food. Here are some of the dishes we cooked last quarter.

Vegan lasagna

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It’s been a while since I made a vegan lasagna, so wifey was happy to have it again.

Apple Pie

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Homemade apple pie is our new obsession.

Light Apple Cider

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We boiled the organic apple peels with cinnamon, added raw honey and made a warm apple cider out of it. Nothing goes to waste here.

Optimizing happiness through efficiency

Last year I decided to research cloud services to store our photos. To take advantage of free cloud space, we’ve signed up with different services like Dropbox, Shutterfly and iCloud. Although these are free subscriptions up to a certain gigabytes limit, it becomes cumbersome to have to worry about having your memories all over the place.

So, we ended up upgrading our iCloud space, since it synchronizes well with the rest of our Apple subscriptions, and are now on a decluttering journey to upload all photos into one cloud. To complete this move into the cloud, we bought a decent Epson scanner to scan and upload old family photos.

Thanks to the suggestion of a friend, we’re also using this scanner to scan documents into the cloud and get rid of all our physical file folders. The goal is to keep things simple, minimized, organized and easy to find. Our documents filing system will have two components: 1. Digital copies on the cloud and 2. Fireproof box with important documents. That’s it!

Logo retouch

While on vacation I decided to touch up our logo a bit and added back some of the colors from the original logo. We missed the playfulness from our original logo.

Our logos throughout our “long” blogging careers.

The original logo

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A short-lived new redesign
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We weren’t happy with the slogan between the dollar signs. It made it look like there was ad right below the name.

A cleaner version emerged.
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We removed the slogan and kept only the name.

Our retouched logo!

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We’re very happy with our new more colorful logo. Glad to have the slogan back on it as well. I designed it in GIMP since it’s a free photo editing software.

Trying new things

Miracle morning

This month we’re re-starting our Miracle Morning routine. (This is an affiliated link. If you end up buying we get a small commission at no cost to you.) This is based on the book, The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod. The key point in the book is that by getting up earlier to do the things that you enjoy first thing in the morning, instead of heading to work right away, you wake up energized and are happier because you start your day with what’s most important to you.

Waking up to do the things that you enjoy makes getting up easier in the morning.

In essence, we wake up an hour earlier and do the following in 10 minutes intervals:

  1. Meditate – 10 min
  2. Do affirmations – 10 min
  3. Visualize our goals and successes – 10 min
  4. Read – 10 min
  5. Write – 10 min
  6. Exercise – 10 min

My goal is to wake up two hours earlier, so that I can add another hour to the routine. I want to have time for piano and salsa lessons during that two-hour block.

What’s next?

In May, we have a weekend trip to Maryland for a fun concert and are very excited about another vacation to the Dominican Republic. It’s been more than a year since we visited and we can’t wait to go back to Macao Beach to, once again, eat the best fried fish we ever had. Give us our rice, beans and tostones, please. Yummy!!! That’s it for this update folks.

What are you doing to optimize for happiness?

Please like & share:
The Secret to True Happiness Revealed in 3 Big Lessons
One Life To Live Q2 2017 - An Amazing Concert Line-up and Too Many Pollo al Carbon While Dividends Kept Pouring in

Mr. Enchumbao

I work for a large investment management company helping people save for traditional retirement. During my spare time, I write about our FIRE journey here, at Enchumbao. My journey to FI began in 2012. I was in a lot of debt back then, but I turned things around and became debt free a few years later. My wife and I reached financial independence in 2017 and are preparing to retire soon.

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