March 2019 Goals and Financial Update

March 2019 Goals and Financial UpdateHey everyone, did you have a good month in March? It was cold at the beginning, but it warmed up nicely by the end. The sunshine and warmth were great after a long winter here in Portland. The nicer weather really improved all our moods tremendously. Junior also had his spring break at the end of March. We held a late birthday party for him at home last weekend. His real birthday was earlier, but we were busy moving so we couldn’t do anything in February. It was a good party. They played in the backyard and had a lot of fun.

On the financial side, we did okay in March. Our net worth increased a bit because the stock market did okay. Our cash flow looked good too. The income was solid and our expense was relatively low. All in all, it was a good month for us. The only big worry I have right now is selling our condos. We got a couple of offers in March, but they didn’t work out. Hopefully, we’ll get a good offer in April. The weather is nicer so people should be more motivated to move.

Okay, I’ll go over my goals first and then share the details of our net worth, cash flow, and savings.

2019 Goals

Here is my goal scheduling spreadsheet. It works really well. Try it out if you have a problem keeping up with your New Year goals. The key is to update the spreadsheet once a month to check progress. That will remind you which goals need attention.

2019 goals

Financial Goals

  • Passive Income > $60,000. This one might be too ambitious. In 2018, we had $56,628 in passive income. This year we probably will have less than that. We’re consolidating our properties so the rental income will drop. I’ll use the proceeds to invest in dividend stocks and real estate crowdfunding. I’m not sure if we can generate $60,000 this year, but we’ll try. After 3 months, we had $9,297 in passive income.
  • FI Ratio > 100%. This is my main goal for 2019. The FI ratio is passive income divided by expense. Once we reach 100% consistently, then we’ll be set to retire in style. We’re not doing so well in 2019. Our FI ratio is 85% after 3 months. However, our expense will be lower now that we moved to the duplex. I’m pretty sure it will improve throughout 2019.
  • Save and invest > $100,000. Last year, we saved and invested over $102,000! That was awesome and I hope to repeat it this year. However, we probably won’t be able to do it. In 2018, my blog income was excellent, but it slowed down tremendously this year. Consequently, it’s going to be very tough to save $100,000. So far, we saved and invested $19,237. That’s actually really good. Our saving rate is 52% this year. I’ll grade this one on an academic scale.

Blog Goal

  • Update Retire by 40. I need to clean up the menu, talk to some partners, and rework a few affiliate posts/pages. This isn’t that difficult, but I have to find the time to do it. Then, I’ll hire someone to install a new theme. This kind of work is very tedious for me so I usually put it off. I hope to get it done before summer.

Personal Goals

  • Travel Hack 100,000 points. This is the same goal I had last year, but this year will be much more difficult. Last year, I signed up for a new credit card whenever I needed to pay estimated tax. It was easy to meet the spending requirement. This year, I’m not making as much and my estimated tax will be very small.

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  • Consolidate down to 1 property. We are making solid progress here. Our tenants moved out in early February and we moved in. Now, our old condo is on the market. Hopefully, it will sell soon. Our tenant at the other condo moved out at the end of March and I’m fixing the place up. We’ll put that one on the market soon. I hope to wrap it up ASAP.
  • Drop weight to 125 pounds. I rarely made a weight loss goal because it never worked before. However, I think I’ll be able to do it this year. I’m intermittent fasting* and plan to exercise 5 days per week. March was not a good month. I was too busy painting and fixing up the condo. I didn’t go to the gym consistently and my diet wasn’t great either. The result is I gained 2 pounds and my weight is now 129 lbs.

*Here is how I do intermittent fasting. I eat only from noon until 8 pm on the weekdays. This cuts down on the calories and I don’t miss breakfast much. I’m busy getting RB40Jr off to school on the weekdays anyway. Try intermittent fasting if you want to lose weight. It really works. If you can’t do it by yourself, I highly recommend Martin Dasko’s Fasting Course. It was very helpful when I first started.

Fun Goals

  • Keep my happiness level at 8 or above. This is totally subjective. I’ll give myself a score at the end of the month and try to average about 8 this year. For March, I rate my happiness level at 7.5. Our old condo hasn’t sold yet. That’s background stress and I didn’t like it. Next month, we’ll have 2 condos on the market. I really hope they sell soon. Carrying 3 mortgages is no fun.
  • Visit Chiang Mai for 6-10 weeks. I haven’t even started here. We’ll deal with this after we finish moving and selling the condos.

Net Worth (+5.8% YTD)

I’ve been tracking our net worth since 2006 and it is very motivating to see the progress we’ve made. However, I’m not optimistic about 2019. The US stock market is doing very well, but the global market is slowing down. Can the US economy be immune to the slow down? Anyway, I just hope we beat inflation this year. I’m being very conservative for now. We need cash. Once our condos sold, I will invest more.

Here is a graph of our investment portfolio on Personal Capital.

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your net worth and investment accounts. I log in almost every day to check on our accounts. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

Personal Capital

2019 Passive Income ($9,297 YTD)

Here is a quick summary of our passive income. You can see all the details on my Passive Income page.

2019 passive income

The rental income doesn’t look good after 3 months. I had to fix up the duplex after the tenant moved out and that’s not cheap. That’s mostly done now, but I’ll need to fix up the other rental condo in April. Once that’s finished, the rental income should look better. Everything else seems okay. Our FI ratio is a bit low at 87%, but I think it will improve.

Once we sold our condos, we will get some cash infusion from the sale. I’ll invest it in real estate crowdfunding and dividend stocks. Our passive income should increase with these additional investments. But, it will take time to execute. You’ll have to follow along and see how it plays out.

2019 Cash Flow

Our cash flow was very good in March. The only issue was the rental turnover. I replaced the old mini-blinds, locks, and fixed a few things at the duplex. This wiped out our rental income for the month. Everything else was good.

On the expense side, we did well too. There were a few unexpected expenses, but we came in under budget for the month.

Here is the Sankey diagram for March. You can get a quick overview here and see the details below.

March 2019 cash flow

Gross Income (target > $12,000/month)

For 2019, our gross income target is $12,000/month. I think we should be able to meet this goal almost every month. In previous years, I tracked take-home income and it was all over the place due to the deductions. This year, I’ll track gross income. In March, we grossed $12,549. That’s right on.

  • Mrs. RB40’s paychecks: $7,952.
  • Blog Income: $3,247. You can read more details on my Blog Income pageRB40Jr is on the payroll now as model and photographer. The income will go straight into his Roth IRA. I’m excited to see how this experiment will turn out.
  • Rental Income: -$165. Our tenant moved out and I fixed quite a few things. Read more at the Rental Property Passive Income page.
  • Dividend Income: $871. The dividend income was great in March. See more details at my Dividend Passive Income page.
  • Real estate crowdfunding: $353. My real estate crowdfunding investment is starting to pay off. Read more at my Real Estate Crowdfunding Passive Income page.
  • Interest Income: $1. Ugh! I was too busy to use the ATM card 12 times and I got very little interest income this month.
  • Side hustle: $125. I participated in a market research group last month.

Monthly Expenses (target < $5,000/month)

For 2019, our monthly spending budget is $5,000/month, an increase of $200 from 2018. Our housing expense is lower now since we moved to our duplex. That should decrease our monthly expense quite a bit. I’ll probably adjust our budget to $4,000/month once we settled down.

In March, we spent $2,882. That’s not bad at all. There was one big expense. Our car was making a lot of noise at idle so I took it in for service. This increased our transportation expense to $487. Usually, we spend just $50/month on transportation. We also spent a bit more than usual on clothing and eating out. Overall, it was a good month.

  • Housing: $1069. Our housing expense looks good. Let’s hope we can keep it low for at least 5 years. This category includes mortgage, HOA fees, property taxes, and utilities.
  • Groceries: $552. We spent a bit more than average on groceries in March. We replenish our pantry and refrigerator after moving to our new home.

March 2019 cooking 1

March was cold so I made pizza to help warm up our home quite a few times. This time, I tried making an artichoke and spinach pizza. It turned out really well. Mrs. RB40 loved it. But Junior said he’ll stick pepperoni. On the right, I picked up a package of Linguisa sausage on sale so I looked up a few recipes. This is a Portuguese potato hash with Linguisa. I overcooked the eggs a bit, but it was still quite good.

March 2019 cooking 2

On the left, I made naan for the first time. It worked out really well. The naan was soft, fluffy, and tasted fantastic. It wasn’t that difficult either. You just need time to let the dough rise for a few hours. We had the naan with healthy chickpea curry. On the right, I made one of my favorite dishes from Chiang Mai, Nam Prik Ong. We had it with Thai sticky rice, fresh vegetables, and pork rinds. Yummm.

  • Transportation: $487. I took our car in to fix the rough idle. Normally, we spend around $50/month on gasoline.
  • Parent: $0.
  • Kid: $51. I got a basketball, Nerf guns, and safety goggle for our son.
  • Pet: $50. Our cat got a new rug, kitty litter, and some pet food.
  • Bills: $198. Insurance (auto, home, term life, and umbrella).
  • Health: $28. Gym membership fee.
  • Travel: $0. We didn’t go anywhere last month. We were still trying to recover from moving. Travel hacking is a great way to reduce your travel expense.
  • Clothing: $88. Junior and I got new underwears, socks, and shirts.
  • Entertainment: $192. We ate out 4 times in March. Eating out is more expensive now. Junior wants his own entrée instead of helping us. He’s growing up. Junior’s spring break was last week. I took him to Chuck E Cheese while we were waiting for our car repair. We also saw Willow at the Mission Theater. The tickets were $2 each, not bad.

March 2019 entertainment

We met up with Mrs. RB40 for lunch at Shan Dong, a Chinese restaurant on the east side. It was quite good. On the right was happy hours at Bantam Tavern, near our new home. Each of us had a burger and shared an order of fries.

  • Misc: $167. We got some rugs, coffee maker, and a few other things for our new home. That’s the problem with moving. I think we’re done buying stuff for our new home for a while. That’s the problem with moving. We got rid of a bunch of old stuff and need to buy some new things.


I don’t count these as personal expenses.

  • Taxes and deductions: $2,247.
  • 401k and Roth: $4,480. I contributed $2,000 to my 401k. Mrs. RB40 contributed $1,480 to hers. We also contributed $500 each to our Roth IRAs.
  • Extra Savings: $2,748. This went into our checking account for now. I’ll invest it when I can.

2019 Savings

We saved $19,397 so far in 2019. Our current saving rate is 52%. That’s really good. I’ll try to maintain it around 50% this year.

  • Joe’s 401k: $5,500.
  • Mrs. RB40’s 401k: $4,390
  • Roth IRAs: $3,000
  • 529 College Savings: $0
  • Extra savings: $6,507

YTD 2019 saving rate = 52%.

March 2019 Wrap Up

All in all, we had a good month. Our net worth increased and our cash flow was solid. I can’t complain. My happiness level was good too. The weather helped, but I’m still worried about the condos. Once they sold, life should be much easier. It’s no fun carrying 3 mortgages.

How about you? Did you have a good March? Are you making some progress on your New Year goals?

*Sign up for a free account at Personal Capital to help manage your investments. I log in almost every day to check on my accounts and cash flow. It’s a great site for DIY investors.

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