Thursday, January 16, 2020

Still Alive, Still Spending, Still Saving!

It's been almost a year... yikes. Where to begin?

I actually don't have any major news. I'm still kind of adjusting to my "new" life. That has involved some higher than usual expenses as we decided we wanted to do some work on our house after being there for a while. And we've continued to take a couple of trips per year, though nothing super-exotic. But we are basically settled into a new pattern of life where we don't eat out very often and are generally enjoying a much lower cost of living than we had in the city. I've been mostly getting books from the library, so haven't been spending much in that area. I've gotten a couple of tickets for local performances and even a couple of things back in the city-- this kind of reminds me how much I miss being able to go to BAM in Brooklyn and be home within half an hour. Now staying in the city means having to time things right with trains and we always end up getting home really late. Sometimes I tell myself we can afford to just splurge on a hotel room but we've yet to actually do that. Our semi-retirement budget left room for a lot of splurges that we haven't yet allowed ourselves, but we've ended up spending more than we thought on household stuff, so I guess it balances out.

So how about some actual numbers?

My net worth as of Jan. 1, 2020 was $1,563,067. The stock market has been so strong, I think I've gained about $200,000 since I stopped working, even though I've had very little income since then. My goal has been to basically break even, but even if the market wasn't as strong, I think I'd be able to manage to spend less than my likely gains most years.
In 2019, my total income was about $70,000-- this includes all dividends, interest, blog earnings, gifts, EBay selling, etc. (I would be more precise, but Quicken does this weird thing where it shows realized gains from selling an investment as the total proceeds of that sale, rather than subtracting the cost basis to truly show the investment gain, so I've estimated what the real gains were without going back to accurately check.) Lots of that income is from my 401k, so it doesn't show up as taxable income. When I break it down to the actual taxable income, it was just under $20,000.
My total expenses in 2019 were about $27,000, not counting some additional one-time stuff that went towards our home renovation projects, most of which was actually paid for by Sweetie. My largest expenses were about $11,000 for food/groceries/liquor/eating out, as I usually pay for most of that for both of us. This still seems high to me but we did eat out more than usual for about a month while our kitchen was under construction. My next biggest category was "Misc" at about $2,300, which included a new Apple Watch and a new hard drive and battery to keep my old laptop going for a few more years. Also some art supplies, tax prep fees, postage and other random stuff. I spent just under $2,000 on clothes, which included a few things for Sweetie, and about $1,900 on education for a couple of classes. I am very lucky to have only had to spend about $1,100 on medical stuff-- this included my very low premiums for New York State's "Essentials" health insurance-- $45 a month including vision benefits, since I knew I'd need new glasses. The glasses themselves ended up costing a total of $370 for two pairs-- a thick single vision pair that was basically free, and a 2nd, half-off thinner pair with -- gasp -- progressive lenses, since I'm getting to that age where I'm not only terribly near-sighted but also need reading glasses. I will write more about the health insurance stuff, but the thing that really sucks about not being in the city is that my insurance plan, which is through United Healthcare, barely has any providers in my area. Having to drive 18 miles to an urgent care center that takes my plan is a bummer. I'm currently procrastinating about making that drive even though I probably need a little something to get over a case of bronchitis. I'm assigned to a primary care doctor who's only about 12 miles away, but I keep assuming it will be a nightmare to get an appointment. We'll see!
A few other expense lines: Travel $1,300, State Taxes $1,021, Gifts $1,476, Entertainment $958. Someday I'll have to do a post with my combined budget with Sweetie to reflect things I don't directly pay for myself, like our combined gym membership, auto maintenance, and utilities. etc. Sweetie's share is a bit larger, in proportion to the difference in our incomes.

Anyway, thanks for still reading and sorry I am so delinquent about writing. I make lots of notes about things I want to write about, and then for some reason I never get around to it! Terminal procrastination... happy new year to all of you, and hope you are enjoying the roaring '20s so far!


T'Pol said...

Nice to hear from you Madame X. Happy New Year to you and your Sweetie! Seems like you are settling into a new routine.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year Madame X! Keeping busy in your new life. You give me hope that I can retire or semi-retire in the next several years.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I'm glad your retirement life is turning out so well, and I hope you feel inspired to post about it more often; I always enjoy reading your updates

Thanks to my late mom's incredible generosity and the stock market run-up, I'm currently at $2.5M plua a paid off apartment and a little over five years of work remaining. We plan to stay in a high cost of living area until my partner retires in twelve years and health insurance in retirement remains an ongoing concern for both of us.

beth said...

I'm glad you're checking in sometimes! Your life sounds pretty sweet right now. I am wondering how you're pulling money from your 401(k) - are you 59 1/2 or over? I had the impression you were not at that age yet. I'm keenly interested in retiring as soon as possible (still probably 8 years away!) so access to retirement savings before 59 1/2 is of great interest to me.

Anonymous said...

Really glad to hear from you again! Please write more.

Madame X said...

Thanks for the comments all! FZ, you are doing great! Deciding to stay in an expensive area definitely makes a big difference but sounds like you are on the right track. Beth, I am actually not pulling any money from my 401k, and don't plan to until they make you start taking required distributions. I"m pulling money out of my regular investment account. My biggest worry right now is how long those funds will last, since the funds that aren't tied up in the 401k and Roth IRA accounts total about $425k. If I pull out $25k per year, that is 17 years and I'll be fine. But I will probably end up spending more than that most years. The question is how much more!