When I started this blog, updating my chart each month was great fun. Even when the market was temporarily down, my net worth almost invariably went up. It’s a delight to plot your way to retirement while you’re working and making gobs and gobs of money in a bull market.
The deeper I wade into retirement land though, the more I dislike updating my chart.
I’m afraid of the upcoming sell-off. When is the recession coming? When will stocks be on sale again? I have no idea how, but the market is still up.
I’m mentally prepared for my net worth to decrease dramatically. It happens, occasionally. The recession is a good time to buy in when you’re working. Hopefully, I can breathe my way through it in retirement.
Grrrrrr. The recession hasn’t begun. The market is still happy. Why invite misery to cuddle before you have to?
I really don’t waste many brain cells thinking about this. Only when I’m updating my chart does this worry cross my mind.
The other big reason I don’t love updating my retirement chart is my lack of income. One of the most surprising downsides of retirement is that I actually miss making money through effort. Payday twice a month while working was satisfying and comforting and just fun. The money I earn from a job feels different than the money I earn from my investments. Maybe that’s not logical.
I think it’s because we have a habit of conflating money with intrinsic value. As in, your worth as a person is directly tied to how much money you make and how much money you have. The more money you control, the more valuable a person society deems you to be. You are as competent as the numbers in your various money accounts imply.
Even if you have enough, it’s easy to want more. It’s that feeling of competence.
Most of the time, I don’t think about money. I have enough and I feel so lucky to have enough. But once every four months, a reminder to text my financial avatar pops up. It’s time to think about money, darling.
Here’s what my chart looked like after my last update.
The red line is my expenses and the green line is a formula derived using my net worth and a 4% withdrawal rate. If the green line is higher than the red line, I can keep living the retirement dream safely.
The good news is that my expenses have been aggressively low this year. This house-sitting thing can be a crazy cheap way to live. I spent $21,500 in 2017 and $7,500 of that I spent publishing my book. The only traveling I did was a month or so in the Middle East and ten days in Guatemala. The rest of the time I spent house-sitting, mainly in Colorado and California.
Here’s the updated chart with the average of the last four months as a new data point.
I don’t know how many years to put on this thing for you guys. The chart is growing unwieldy in its size.
If you can’t tell, my green line is up. So, yes, more good news is that my net worth increased like $60,000 in the past four months. The market is still drunk and I’m still making enough through my investments to fund my lifestyle. I shepherd my dividends into my bank account and whistle with joy. It’s enough so far.
Not an entrepreneur
The only slightly sobering news is that Amazon deposited roughly $1,000 into my business bank account in the last four months. Oh, yeah, I’m not putting any energy into succeeding at this entrepreneurship thing. Side hustles take some hustling and I’m pretty excited about my stroll.
In the past year, I’ve become friends with a few real writers who have actual, lucrative book deals with genuine publishers. It’s exciting! They have a team of people navigating on their behalf, trying to get their books into the hearts and minds of the masses. They’re putting the time in, spending hours upon hours each day on the process. There’s even talk of a movie that’s more than just talk.
I have an email subscriber list of perhaps 3,000 people who I pitched my book to. Once. That pitch isn’t even on the front page of my blog anymore. Whoops.
It takes hard work and it takes luck. I have the luck part down, but I’m really quite lazy.
The books I read on marketing told me what to do. I could have organized giveaways and requested reviews. I could have jiggered a quality launch and gently laid the foundation for my book’s grand entrance.
Instead, I opened the door, threw my book out, and ducked back inside. I declared myself done with life bucket list item #6 — write a book — at the end of September 2017 and promptly reclaimed the space in my brain.
I devoted more time to what I love doing. Walking, planning and taking trips, reading, writing and hanging out with people I like. You could probably start a good drinking game every time I mention these activities to you.
It’s just that I think this is the key to happiness. Find what you like to do and then do it. Money gives you the power to decide what those things are and shrug off the rest.
Here’s even more good news that makes me blush: 200 people bought my book! I’m so flattered. Thank you if you did! Your support makes me giddy and I feel so lucky you exist.
Big, Giant, Man-Hug,