The Hoard: December 2015

The Dragon's Hoard

Every good dragon has a hoard.  You know.  The collection of gold, jewels, and other valuables that the dragon guards in his or her cave.  For me, The Hoard is what I call my assets.  The collection of stocks, bonds, and other income producing assets that Mrs. Dragon and I have collected thus far.

Mythological fire breathers have to protect their hoard from knights seeking glory, wizards wanting power, etc.  Real-world FIRE breathers have more mundane, but very real dangers to their own hoards: the tax man, the cable company, lifestyle inflation, high-fee brokers, and many more.

This is one post in a series that documents my progress towards financial independence.

You might recall that I don’t include our primary residence in the assets (it doesn’t produce income) and I don’t include our primary mortgage against the assets.  If we had a rental house, I would include it in both parts of the equation, but I’ll address the primary residence in a separate category.

I do not differentiate between tax-advantaged accounts and taxable ones in the number for The Hoard.  Assets are assets.

We use the excellent (and free!) service Personal Capital to keep track of how The Hoard is coming along.  It lets you view all your accounts on a single homepage for a convenient snapshot of your financial life.  It is a top-notch service.  Highly recommended.

Mrs. Dragon and I want $600,000 in liquid assets and a paid-off house to consider ourselves financially independent.

How are we currently doing?

The current market value of the hoard is $122,460 (vs last month’s $113,606).  This is about 20.4% of our $600,000 goal.

Primary residence: The mortgage is $95,924  (vs last month’s $96,186), which means it’s about 2.12% paid off.

Another excellent month.  Like I mentioned previously, I had a side hustle come online in the last few months of the year and it’s been helping to boost our numbers in these last few months of 2015.

Seeing that we are more than 20% of the way to our investment goal is pretty staggering. We’ve done way better than I expected this year in terms of saving and investing.  I can’t wait to do a “year in review” type post to see how the year has gone in terms of the raw numbers.

I was sort of hoping that we would break the $125k mark, but the market took a dive the last few days.  No matter.  That just means our next purchase of the market will buy more 🙂

I also just want to remind everyone during the holidays that life is about way more than money.  This is your friendly reminder to put away the phone and computer and be present with your loved ones (friends family or both) this holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

How was your 2015?  Did you meet your savings goals? 

Expenses: November 2015

ExpensesExpense report!  Since I’m a total voyeur for finance, these types of details are exactly the kind that I love to read on other people’s blogs.

Don’t get me wrong though, these numbers are primarily written for me and Mrs. Dragon.  Every good FIRE breather knows that to be successful, you have to track your expenses. You have to track them like Santa tracks who’s naughty and nice.

How else will you know when your Hoard is big enough?

Without further ado, here are the numbers for November (rounded to the nearest dollar):

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The Basics

card with dragon

A couple of weeks ago, Adam Chudy (from adamchudy.com) reached out to me to let me know about a project he’s working on called the Index Card Challenge.  Essentially, he reached out to a lot of personal finance bloggers and asked them to distill their best financial advice down so that it fit on an index card.

It’s a really cool idea and I was happy to be included in the project.  You can read more about it here.

The picture for this post was my submission.  There’s no groundbreaking revelations here, but different people emphasize different aspects of personal finance.  Here is my advice for each line of the card (warning: this post is pretty long).

Time > Money

This is the driving force behind financial independence for a lot of people.  You can always trade time for money, but there is nothing you can trade for more time.  That being said, you can purchase your future time just like your employer does.  If you have all the money you need for the rest of your life, you no longer have to trade your time away.  People who are striving for FI are buying back their time one dollar at a time.

Flexibility.  Being your own boss.  Focusing on your hobbies. These are all different phrasings of the concept that you have control over how you spend your time.  It’s the ultimate status symbol.

It’s easy to focus on the dollars and cents when you are trying to hit financial independence.  But, really, it’s all about freeing up your time, not the number of zeroes in your bank account.

Track Your Money and Spend Less Than You Earn

Spend less than you earn.  This is the single most fundamental piece of financial advice there is.  If you are spending more than you earn, you are not getting ahead financially. And how do you know if you are spending more or less than you earn?  You track your spending of course!

It’s a well-documented phenomenon that the things you focus on are the things that change in your life. If you want to make financial progress, you should be keeping track of your income and spending.  The gap between income and spending is called your savings rate, and it is a HUGE deal when it comes to how quickly you will reach your financial goals.

If you aren’t tracking your spending you should try it.  I think you will be surprised at what you spend your money on every month.  We use the wonderful (and FREE) service Personal Capital to track our income and spending, which makes it super easy.

The indomitable Mr. Money Mustache has an excellent post that gives the relationship between savings rate and how long it will take you to retire.  It’s worth a read if you are new to the idea of financial independence or early retirement.

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