Category Archives: Retirement

Posts detailing our path towards early retirement

2017 Early Retirement Progress

This year, we contributed $70997.76 (101.43% of planned) to our retirement accounts, and have gained $108,709.34 (298.25% of planned) in investment value.   11k of that is still waiting to be invested – we’re on the cusp of whether we can contribute to a Roth and if so, how much. As of right now (using preliminary numbers from final paychecks), we won’t be able to contribute the full 11k.  Anything we can’t contribute to a Roth will go into our taxable account.  I just need to wait until we do our taxes.

2017 was a good year financially.  We made several large purchases, deck materials, a piano, tonsils and adenoids out, and still managed to contribute more than 50% of our take home pay towards retirement – I can’t say it hasn’t been tight at times though.  I got a slightly higher than standard raise this year, and Dad got a raise (apparently, at his new company, that’s less frequent than “regularly”).  We’re moving more and more into the Roth phase out income bracket.  There are worse things than raises though.

I’m not looking forward to the new tax laws restricting state, local, and property taxes, as we pay a *lot* of those, well more than the 10k limit (heck, our property taxes alone are higher than 10k).  There’s not much we can do about that other than move, and that’s not a move we’re ready to make yet. Depending on the implementation, we may also have a much higher MAGI under the new tax code and will push us even further into the Roth phase out bracket – or even into the not able to contribute range.  We’re still going to save the 11k, but probably put more of it into our taxable account next year.



New Milestone: 750k invested

Since the number has stayed above 750k for the last few weeks, it’s time to say that we have more than 750k invested.  15k of that is a 529plan for college, so it’s not all retirement focused, but it’s still a significant chunk of money.  It doesn’t seem that long ago when we had half a million in our accounts (just over a year and a half).  It’s true, once you have money, it grows quickly.  We’re approaching the 1 million networth mark as well – Personal Capital claims it’s 867k right now, but I know that’s off since it hasn’t synced certain accounts in over a month.  When it comes to deciding if we have “enough” to retire, it will be purely based on our non-529 investment accounts and not our net worth.

The gap in the graph is when Dad’s 401k moved from Mass Mutual (cheapest S&P500 index was .83%) to Fidelity (.05%).  I’m much happier about the move, since we have real choices for investments in that account now – and significantly lower fees.  We didn’t have access to log into either account for just over a month, so neither did Personal Capital.

Are you basing your retirement off of invested assets or net worth?

Q2 2017 Early Retirement Progress

This quarter, we contributed $15,780.11 to our retirement accounts, and have gained $21,516.55 in investment value.  That averages out to just under $5,300 per month on the contributions, and just over $7,100 per month on investment value.

We’ve survived Daughter Person’s tonsillectomy and adenoid removal, and she’s doing great now – she can breathe at night so much easier.  The total cost there was about $2900, and we met our deductible, so our health care for the rest of the year is 10% of the insurance cost unless we meet our out of pocket amount (I doubt we would).  We’re taking advantage of that for any delayed/elective visits for the next six months.

We’ve made the almost final purchases on our deck materials – the railing and the decking at least.  I suspect we may need to buy some smaller items like more screws or a lag bolt or two, but the major purchases are done – and we’ve gotten the cash back from some of it (one of the charges cleared after the closing date of our credit card, so we haven’t seen the cash back from it yet.

We’re also on track to contribute 11k to our Roths at the beginning of next year if we’re able.  I’m putting aside $917/mth in a cash account for now, and it will either go to our Roths or to our taxable account once I know if we can contribute to the Roths.  I’m not counting that money in our contributions yet however.

Things are looking good for fully retiring in 2025/2026!

2017 Totals

In 2017 we contributed $31,346.44 (44.78% of our goal of 70k), and we gained $51,246.68 in investment value (81.57% of our planned total).

Q1 2017 Early Retirement Progress


Let’s make this easier, a quarterly report (although I’m still recording it monthly for my own records).

This quarter, we contributed $15,566.33 to our retirement accounts, and have gained $29,730.13 in investment value.  That averages out to just over $5,100 per month.

Next month will see an uptick in contributions, all because of cash back from our recent spending, and I suspect the following two months will as well.  We spent quite a bit on the deck wood – the framing is almost complete.  We should finish the joists this weekend.  Then we get to build the stairs.



We also made another large purchase.  Not completely unexpected, but not 100% planned for, but the opportunity arose, and we took it.  $6300 for a baby grand piano.  It’s a 1982 Sojin (Daewoo), reconditioned, and beautiful.  And, yes that is the easy piano edition of the Hamilton Soundtrack.  It was an anniversary gift from Dad.  We had been looking at “real” pianos to replace our digital piano, as it was starting to get in the way of our progress.  Unfortunately, the way our house is designed, an upright will literally not fit anywhere without blocking a door, window, (built-in) bookcase or fireplace.  So, I demanded that we get a baby grand, and it couldn’t be shiny ebony (black).  We visited Rick Jones Pianos in the DC area while we were visiting, and they had this beauty.  Met all of my aesthetic requirements, and met all of Dad’s playability requirements.  So, we bought it.  The price we paid included the piano, bench, a humidity system to protect it and delivery to our house near Pittsburgh.  It also came with one free tuning, and as long as we maintain it, we can trade it in for what we paid for it towards another piano – that’s likely to be a very long time away.

At the end of this month, Daughter Person is getting her tonsils and adenoids out, and we’re paying for that – definitely meeting our deductible this year, but taking advantage of the cash back!

2017 Totals

In 2017 we contributed $15,566.33 (22.24% of our goal of 70k), and we gained $29,730.13 in investment value (81.57% of our planned total).

December 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $10,864.10 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $11,645.82 in investment value this month.  $6500 of that is still in a savings account waiting to see if we can contribute it to a Roth or our taxable account (I’m picking up TurboTax on my way home from work today to get started).

2016 was a lot nicer to us in investment gains, but doesn’t quite make up for 2015’s losses, although we’re only about 10k lower than our planned account balance at the end of the year.

We made our goals this year, thanks to a lot of cash back on our Fidelity card.  We lost Dad’s awesome match and HSA contribution in May, and are down to a 4% match, and $500 HSA contribution (last year).  This year, his company is contributing $1500 to our HSA, spaced out over 12 months.  And our insurance is even better ($30/mth to cover all three of us with a HDHP!), with a lower deductible.

We’re planning on fully funding our Roths this year, or putting that money in our taxable account.  I’m putting aside $917/mth in our budget for that, which will get me to 11k by next December.  We’re also upping our base contribution to our taxable account to $300/mth (which will then be supplemented by our cash back), and we’re coming out about even given the loss of Dad’s matching from his old company.

We’re still shooting for a contribution of 70k, and an increase of about 6% over the year, and if we continue to make it, we can retire in 2026.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $70,115.73 (100.17% of our goal of 70k), and we gained $47,608.99 in investment value (156.59% of our planned total).

November 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,968.94 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $11,616.97 in investment value this month.

I’ve been remiss in posting, but between Girl Scouts and working on our deck, I haven’t had much time in the evenings to make posts.  We have our concrete poured and almost ready to accept posts.  We need to wait at least 2 weeks, preferably 3 before putting the weight of the wood on the concrete, so we’re taking a short break over the holidays.  Girl Scouts have started the “behind the scenes” stuff that happens for cookie sales, so that’s been taking a lot of my time.  Even though the girls can’t sell until January 6!

We’re on track for putting our 70k in “retirement” accounts this year, and setting up to do so next year as well.  Dad’s company has (finally) announced their health plans for next year, and for $60/mth we get a family HDHP with a $1500 individual/$3000 family deductible plus $1500 into our HSA.  I was wavering on whether to go with he HSA again in 2017, but with the changes, we’re *definitely* doing it.   It’s nice working for a (primarily) European company!

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $59,251.63 (84.65% of our goal of 70k), and gained $35,963.17 in investment value. (the $6500 set aside for Roths isn’t counted in this total)

October 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,964.78 this month to our retirement accounts, and we lost $12,774.09 in investment value this month.

October was not a good time to be in the markets – but a great time to add money!  We added a lot this month, and we’re at a relatively stable situation.  The only variance in our contributions now is how much cash back we get on our Fidelity card as that goes straight into our taxable investment account.  And I plan on getting quite a bit in the next month or so as I pay for wood and materials with my cash back credit card.

We’re on track to contribute our 70k this year.  We have $6500 sitting in a savings account waiting on whether we put it into our Roths (the desired place) or our taxable account if we can’t contribute to our Roths.  This year had a few too many changes in income and deductions that I’m not positive what our AGI will be (my back of the envelope calculation says we’ll be able to contribute to our Roths).


2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $54,282.69 (77.55% of our goal of 70k), and gained $24,346.24 in investment value.

September 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,958.33 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $1240.00 in investment value this month.

September was a very busy month for us.  We tried to start the deck (and failed miserably), I got a killer sinus infection that had me down for two weeks, and Girl Scouts started.

The markets were relatively flat, and most of our increase was from contributions.  We have 4k set aside for possibly a Roth contribution (depending on if we can contribute), and that money is not being “counted” as it’s not in a specific account yet, just hanging out in our checking/savings until I decide if it’s going to the Roth or to the taxable account.  Ideally, I put 5.5k of it in Dad’s Roth so that we can get out of ETFs and into a mutual fund in his account.  The rest (planned 1.5k) will top off my Roth, which already has over 10k in it.

Other than saving money, I haven’t really done any progress on the deck.  We tried to drill holes, but the auger we rented wasn’t powerful enough and we were told (after the fact) that homeowners can’t rent the equipment we’d need – so I called a few places for quotes, but it’s such a small job, a lot of companies just don’t want to take it on.  Now that I’m not sick or catching up from being sick, I need to make more phone calls to find someone to dig said holes.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $49,317.91 (70.45% of our goal of 70k), and gained $37,120.33 in investment value.

August 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,965.54 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained all of $373.99 in investment value this month.

Can you believe it’s September already!

We’re well on-track to hopefully invest our full 70k this year.  I have 3k sitting in a checking account waiting to see if it’s going to go into a Roth or into our taxable account, and I’m not counting that in our values until it ends up in whichever account is appropriate.  I also have about $1500 in Dad’s “new” HSA sitting just earning interest because the investment options are so bad (an S&P 500 index for .45%).  I’m going to do a rollover at the end of the year to our “old” HSA, which offers Vanguard funds for .05% fees.  It’s still up in the air whether we’re going to continue with the HSA account or move back to a more traditional PPO next year (the PPO is not significantly more expensive than the HDHP option at least this year, but I need to investigate more).

I have a permit for our deck, and we’re breaking ground on Saturday – we’re renting a two-person auger to “dig” the 14 holes necessary (10 big ones – 2″ diameter, 36″ deep – for the deck, 4 12″ diameter, 36″ deep ones for the landing).  I’m putting together the final “bill of materials” for the wood and going to call around for the best price (including delivery).  I also have to get 8000 lbs of concrete delivered to fill those holes with (once they’re inspected) – this is really happening, and the expensive parts are starting.

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $44,359.58 (63.37% of our goal of 70k), and gained $35,880.33 in investment value.

July 2016 Early Retirement Progress

We contributed $4,977.23 this month to our retirement accounts, and we gained $18952.98 in investment value this month.


This was a pretty “normal” month for us with Dad’s new paycheck and deductions.  They’ve finally worked out the issues with the HSA, and the FSA, and the retirement money.  The HSA has enough to invest now, but with the lowest cost index fund being .45% expense ratio, I’m going to do an annual rollover into our old HSA, which offers Vanguard funds at .05% expense ratio.  But, the money going into the HSA is not being taxed by the Feds, the state of PA or Social Security and Medicare, so it’ll continue going into the “new” HSA and I’ll just rollover every year (if we continue the HDHP plan).

This month was a better month for investment gains, almost as good as March was.  Of course, as I look at the markets today, August might be painful.

I’m cooking up big things at home, which is taking up all my time – I’m designing a (large 22’x14′) deck for our new house, and wow, can it be complicated – especially when you add a roof to the project!  I’ve got the basic design down and drawn, but now I have to draw the elevation drawings and the little details about code compliance (like how the beams will be fastened to the posts…, and stair rises and runs).  Then I can finally get our permit, and pour the concrete footers.  Realistically, we won’t be using the full deck until next spring, but if we have good fall weather, it might get done before winter!

2016 Totals

In 2016 we contributed $39394.04 (56.28% of our goal of 70k), and gained $35,506.34 in investment value.