The first quarter of the year is way behind us, but we couldn’t give it full closure without a new edition of One Life To Live. We’ve done a few exciting things so far this year and one of those was taking a trip to Virginia and North Carolina, where we met Justin from Root of Good and his lovely family.
One Life To Live is our quarterly recap on how financial independence plays an integral part in fueling our true happiness. We have one life to live, but are we making the best of it? Are we living it in the most fulfilling way possible? We hope that our lifestyle answers those questions as we continue to optimize for happiness. Carpe Diem!
As you might know by now, we love going to Latin concerts. Concert tickets are usually not cheap, but it’s something we value and it brings happiness to our lives. So we allocate money to this bucket without any regrets.
This march we went to see one of our favorite Latin artists, Ricardo Montaner, who was performing in Fairfax, VA. Since we were due for a vacation, we decided to make an extended trip out of it and planned a meet-up with Root of Good.
Clip of Ricardo Montaner performing A Donde Va El Amor from the Ida Y Vuelta Tour.
Our meet-up with Root of Good
We offered to meet up with Justin and Kaisorn at a nearby park or cafe, but he graciously opened up their place as an option. It was so nice of them to open their home to “strangers”. I put that on quotes because you feel like you know each other in the FI community.
I was telling my wife on the way that this is the first time that we’re going to meet someone, but we know so much about them, including their finances. It’s a nice, weird, good feeling.
How do you often do you visit someone and know their finances?
I mean, here’s a couple that accumulated over $2 million so far, retired in their 30’s, and are going to casually meet up with us on a Thursday afternoon. How cool is that!
But you know what makes them so cool? That money or FIRE fame doesn’t get to their head. Since we started publishing on this blog, Justin was one of those first people who commented and congratulated us on our journey. He’s very approachable and genuine.
OMG, I feel like I’m writing a performance feedback form at work. LOL
Anyway, my point is that these are really nice people. Our gathering lasted for at least three hours and those hours flew by as we ate delicious snacks and talked about life events, early retirement and money.
Virginia and North Carolina Trip
We made a 10-day trip out of this adventure with a loop that began with a two-night stay in Roanoke, VA, three nights in Asheville, NC, two nights in Raleigh, NC, where we met Justin and his family, two nights in Orange, VA, and ended with the concert city of Fairfax, VA.
We also made stops in other smaller towns, such as Culpeper (our favorite historic small town stopover), Lexington, Abingdon, in VA, along the loop, which made each leg of the drive feel shorter and more pleasant.
Our favorite town was Asheville. Between the veggie-friendly organic food restaurants, the organic clothing stores, and the signs in each window welcoming people of all colors and backgrounds, this hippy-like town was totally up our alley.
I loved that most, if not all, businesses were local and unique, instead of chains. For a town that seemed to be predominantly white, at least downtown where we stayed, we were pleasantly surprised by the variety of ethnic stores and restaurants.
Here are a few photos highlights of the trip.
Sculptures at the Elmwood Park Art Walk in Roanoke, VA
Sculptures and statues in downtown Asheville, NC
Food that we enjoyed on this trip
A few pictures of Raleigh, NC
Justin gave us a great tip that all Raleigh museums are free, which is so cool and FI-friendly. We gladly made a donation and spent one of the chilly mornings discovering nature and science findings at The Museum of Natural Sciences.
We visited Montpelier during our stay in Orange, VA. It was the plantation house of the Madison family, including James Madison, the fourth U.S. President, who drafted the constitution. We paid to get the guided tour in the mansion. It was worth the $20 per person.
Tip: if you come on the weekend, you also get a free tour of the Slave Community with insightful and thought-provoking stories around 1 PM. Plus, they recently opened an exhibition in the main house about slavery. We ended up timing our house tour, followed by the Slave Community tour, then a yummy lunch at the Welcome Center cafe, and finished with the exhibition and pleasant walks around the grounds. All in all, we spent about five hours there, which was a nice island pace for an non-island place. 🙂
It was a very educational visit, one that brought the realities of American history to life, as well as the remnants of issues we are still seeing today. It was great to have several conversations about it there and afterwards, instead of sweeping it under the rug.
Those were some of the highlights of our NC/VA trip. Now for the number lovers, we’ll proceed to discuss our basic spending, portfolio income and performance for the first quarter.
Passive income and expenses
The following is a streamlined report that takes very little time 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. What’s included in these reports? At the end of the day, people need food, shelter, mobility, the ability to pay the bills and take care of debt payments. So, these are the expenses that we concentrate on.
Bare-bones spending for Q1-2018
This is how we spent money on the most basic needs during the first quarter.
2018 Monthly Average
|*Net Rent||+$105.83||+$35.28||We have a surplus since we didn’t have to pay for any repairs or tax bills for the quarter on our rental property.|
|Bills & Utilities||$510.31||$170.10|
|Auto & Transportation||$490.61||$163.54||A few repairs came up during an oil change visit.|
That sums up our bare-bone spending for last quarter. It was normal spending for most categories. You can click here to see our latest annual spending post.
Our dividend income continues to increase as we accumulate more assets. What a difference a year can make in dividends. We received $5,659 in income and had a 55% increase from a year ago.
Our dividend income comes from index-based investments and not individual stocks. We’re too lazy, and realistic, to worry about investing in individual stocks when we can invest in the entire market and still get a decent return.
Passive Income Main Categories
2018 Monthly Average
Our entire portfolio, including the house funds (NCF), which are mostly invested in bonds, returned a negative 1.45% for the quarter. So far we have gotten a little less than what we have invested this year. It’s the nature of the beast and a down market can create buying opportunities, so we are good either way.
Road to retirement
Our early retirement date is still on target. We haven’t made it public yet, but you’ll know when the time is right. 😉 There are a few surprises in store. In the mean time, we continue cooking great meals, so let’s see some of the dishes that came out of our kitchen.
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 meals that we cooked last quarter.
We have a trip to New England coming up in May and then a few gatherings with friends and family. We’ve been going to FI meet-ups whenever possible. Last month we went to a local ChooseFI Meet-up in King of Prussia, PA, met some really cool people, and talked about financial topics, ideas and goals.
It was amazing to be part of a tribe of individuals who praised each other for saving more and being happy, rather than the judgment we all typically get from the non-FIRE crowd. We hope to attend a few more meet-ups this year. These meet-ups are very energizing and we recommend you attend them whenever possible to stay motivated on your FIRE goals.