Updating My Chart – September – December 2017

By | January 8, 2018

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?

Mount Rushmore in South Dakota

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.

October 2013 through August 2017

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.

October 2010 through December 2017

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.

Long walks are my specialty.

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,

37 thoughts on “Updating My Chart – September – December 2017

  1. Accidental FIRE

    Ha ha, you’re hilarious. If you don’t have the desire to be a world-class book hustler then don’t. Sounds to me like you’re content with your day to day enjoyment of retirement. And look at it this way – 200 people ponied up their hard-earned money to buy a book that you wrote! Imagine a small auditorium with 200 people in it, staring at you and waiting for you to say something. That’s a lot of people. You should be proud!

    I have a graphic design side-hustle that made me about $1500 last year. So your 1k from Amazon in 4 months beats the crap outta my paltry results. But when I wake up in the morning and see a $1.25 deposit in PayPal from some dude in Japan who bought one of my t-shirts, it makes me feel good. I try to think of the simple “I created something that someone liked enough to give me money” aspect of it. It feels good to create and sell, even if the total amounts are small. Especially when you’re FI and don’t really need the money 🙂

  2. Karen

    You actually earn money while housesitting since you would otherwise be paying for a room somewhere. Mentally put that money under earnings.

      1. mary w

        Yeah, but the more they pay the less desirable the gig is either because there is more work required or less desirable the area. Free is good.

  3. Vig

    I finished the book Tim Ferris – 4 hr work week recently, its all about working very little while still running a successful company as a vagabond. He likes Pareto and quotes Peter Drucker too. You might like it.

      1. Greg

        Don’t! His 4 hrs work week is all about cheating and being an overall rather awfull person. His writing style is entertaining but the idea of squeezing poor peole and playing the rules so you can have a good life doesn’t seem like you at all. There is a ton of books out there that are more worthy of your time.

        1. Thriftygal Post author

          You have just described the biggest problem in (and also the best part of) life: there are so many books worth reading.

          Thanks for the alternative perspective. You’re right that squeezing poor people doesn’t seem like my thing. Squeezing anybody doesn’t really seem like my thing.

  4. Carroll

    Is your asset allocation still 100% in Vanguard Total Stock Market Index? Would you worry less if you had some in Vanguard Total Bond Market Index?

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I have a tiny bit in the bond market index. And I don’t know if I would worry less if I had more in there. I think a little bit of worrying is just in my bloodstream. 🙂 And I really only worry three times a year. I can handle that.

  5. steve poling

    so, when you going to hike the Appalachian Trail?

    Listen to Vig, read Tim Ferris, set up your business(es) on autopilot, then start walking.

  6. Anjani

    Don’t you get appreciation in real estate over there? Like buying a residential or commercial space which appreciates in value and give you income also?
    200 people bought your book, good number but I think with more marketing, you can increase the sales….
    You have list of interests to pursue if you retire….what would you recommend for people who do not have so many interests???

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Real estate is not in my wheelhouse.

      Try a bunch of interests to see what attracts you. You can’t have tried everything, so you can’t know you dislike everything!

  7. Tany

    I’m looking forward to reading your book! Do you think it’s a bad time to start a VTSAX because the market is so high and a recession is due? I’d love to get the ball rolling on one but that makes me worried.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Personally, I would throw it in and forget about it even if I was just now building up my net worth. With this tax bill that just passed, maybe the market will stay high for another year. I have no idea what’s going to happen, but I do know I don’t want to waste brain cells trying to predict something that is unpredictable.

  8. Vig

    I worked for a passive investment firm when the market crash took place in 2008 and one of the things they used to preach was diversification. Its scary to think that the country could go into recession but also scary if the company you are invested in goes under, think Lehman, I think SIPC insurance only covers up to 500k.

  9. Melissa Yuan-Innes

    I found it very refreshing that you wrote your book, invested in making it the best it could be, did minimal marketing, and will now let your fans buy it without hounding them, while you move on to your next bucket list item.

    I only know obsessive writers, and while I admire their success, the to-do list becomes overwhelming. And then it’s not passive income anymore, it’s work.

    I wish I were a chill writer like you, but I’m the obsessive, insecure type, so I will likely never move on and get a six-pack. Waaah. 😉

      1. Melissa Yuan-Innes

        It didn’t pay off *yet*, but it will in 30 months, at your current earning rate. As people like Vishnu and me and the rest of your fans spread the word, it can earn faster, not slower.

        As he pointed out, the book and this blog are just tools to spread your ultimate mission, which is to stop over-consumption. Yay, you!

  10. Vishnu

    ok, I’ll make a point that is likely not to go anywhere on the book front. I did read your blog and buy your book. I’ve noticed that in the past year, I’m still sane, have reduced my debt by $10,000 and my investments have increased by $10,000 due to your advise. I’m just wondering if your message isn’t about promoting a book but helping many other people change their finances, and ultimately their life. Books like Your Money or Your Life are a little dense, Mr. Money Mustache requires some thinking and each book out there on this topic has it’s limitations.

    I’m not saying that your book is simple to read and doesn’t require thinking… it also maybe even easier to start implementing the things you say. if so, more people need to hear about this book. the world needs your message. we need less credit cards and consumption and more simplicity and world peace. if your book can contribute to it, then marketing it might be not to sell books but to get the message out. oh, and create world peace.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Thank you so much for this comment. This is absolutely the way to think about it. Love it and love that you were able to reduce your debt by $10k! That’s huge! Congrats.

      You’ve given me something to think about. Thanks!

  11. anita verghese

    Hi Thrifty Gal, I’m unable to make a copy of your Chart. I clicked the the link Make Your Own Financial Independence Chart which is on your Stuff I recommend page. There is no File button/option in order to make a copy. If I right click on the sheet, I can Save As, but it saves the file as read only so I can’t insert my numbers. What am I doing wrong? Thx!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      You are doing nothing wrong. I’m just bad at technology! I emailed you a copy of the spreadsheet you can edit.

  12. Ms Zi You

    Hi Anita, just sticking my head about the parapet to say hi, and that you are a fabulous role model and inspiration. Sorry to hear it’s less fun to update your charts in retirement….I guess you’ve got your money so much on autopilot now it’s not even really necessary.

    As for the hustling, I’m also not a hustler….I just don’t have the personality to sell, market, cold call, cold email and face constant rejection….I’d rather take the simpler laid back organic approach.

  13. Laszlo

    I did a little sojourn to another early retirement blogging site, and the gal there has this huge spot ad disguised as a blog post about how much money bloggers make. She cites ridiculous amounts like $1.2 million per year. ((Folks, don’t do this at home and put “blogger” as your occupation on your tax return with 1.2 mil of income.)) At that junction, I realized and relished the perspective your posts had provided on the same topic . Thanks for that.

  14. jennifer m cooper smith

    OK, so I am selling a house ,and after hearing you on “Zero to Travel” I put $10,000 in VTSMI …It went up really quickly over a couple of weeks,and is now dropping steadily!I I’m not sure if I could stand watching this happen with a large amount..why do you have some in the Bond market, and is this safer?..I am setting off Friday, leaving for the world!

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      I know! It’s nerve-wracking. When I was working and the market dropped, I’d celebrate the sales. In retirement, I just don’t look if it’s down. Honestly, though, I tend to ignore it either way. 🙂


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