Every week I receive a handful of questions from Root of Good readers and I try to answer them all, even if it's a brief response. Last week was no different. The inquiry I received from "Eric" caught my eye immediately as I scanned through my emails. Subject: "Scared". One word, vague, non-specific. Hmmm - might be spam?
As it turns out it wasn't spam at all. I clicked to open and read further and was intrigued by the brevity of the question with what appeared to be a clear-cut easy answer on the surface but has a lot of layers that need to be peeled back to flesh out a complete response.
Here's what Eric wrote:
"You’ll probably think I'm crazy but I’m 48 and have incurable cancer and even though I qualify for long term benefits income protection of 6 figures a year I am scared of retiring. I’m scared I’d decline and get depressed with no purpose."
Time for another monthly update now that I have wrapped up month #54 in my early retirement journey! Spring arrived a little early in North Carolina and that means more time outdoors for us. Goodbye two weeks of "real" winter, we hardly knew ye!
From a financial perspective, February was a tough month punctuated by a strong dip in the stock market, officially putting us in a "correction" with the Dow and S&P 500 index both registering declines greater than 10%. At month end our net worth was down by $58,000 to a "mere" $2,056,000. The silver lining is that our income for the month remained strong at $4,736 while expenses of $3,108 tracked closely to our $3,333 budget. Spending less than you "make" soothes the sting of a big shift downward in net worth.
The eighth stop on our nine week summer vacation across Europe found us in Northern Slovenia and the beautifully scenic areas of Lake Bled, Soča Valley, and the Julian Alps. While visiting these sights we spent four nights in the tiny village of Podkoren in the far northwestern corner of Slovenia.
We stumbled upon Podkoren while searching for a centrally located apartment in the northern part of Slovenia that would serve as a home base for exploring the mountains, lakes, and valleys nearby. Podkoren was perfect for all of that. Wikipedia says Podkoren has 388 residents, but they must have done the census during the winter ski season and not when we were there during the sleepy summer off season. We assumed Podkoren would be nothing more than a place to rest in between our daytime adventures across Northern Slovenia but to our surprise the village turned out to be worth exploring as a destination in itself.
The seventh stop on our nine week summer vacation across Europe brought us to Ljubljana, Slovenia. If you've never heard of Ljubljana or Slovenia, then you are missing out on a hidden gem of Europe. We randomly stumbled on this country while looking at pictures of Europe and decided it was a must-see destination. It did not disappoint.
While in Ljubljana, we explored the city for several days and visited the castle atop the central hill in town. We took a few day trips to two caves and a castle. In addition to the sightseeing, this was our first opportunity to take it easy since we had a full week in Ljubljana (after six previous stops on our trip with only two to five days stay in each city). We embraced the slow travel lifestyle and spent a couple of days "doing nothing" and relaxing.
Wow, January flew by! I can't believe it's already February. Here in North Carolina it was a rather frigid January. We experienced not one, but TWO (!!) snowstorms during the month which is a rare occurrence. If you've never experienced snow in the South, it's a treat. Everything shuts down and the kids get a few days off school. We busted out the sleds, bundled up, and made the most of it. Ironically we ended up at our neighborhood elementary school where we hit the slopes hard.
January was a fun month for our finances, too. The market continued its upward trajectory throughout the month and left us much wealthier. Our net worth climbed $77,000 to $2,114,000. Income remained strong at $4,055 which more than covered our spending of $1,281 for the month.
Visiting us this week is Bob Lai, the blogger behind Canadian Financial Independence and Early Retirement blog "Tawcan" with an important message on living the good life with a Danish influence.
Unless you have been living under a rock the last few years, you probably have come across the word “hygge.” Hygge is a concept that comes from Denmark. Directly translated, it means cozy. For some reason, hygge has been the hottest craze lately. Everywhere you look you can find hygge related items, being it a flood of books, countless top 10 lists or how-to website articles, department store displays, and even Japanese bakeries.
What exactly is hygge? Does it simply mean cozy? Or purchases of things to create a cozy environment?
I will explain to you what hygge is to me and my family.
Stop number six on our nine week summer vacation across Europe brings us to Venice, Italy! After a two hour train ride from Milan, we arrived in Venice's main train station around noon. Quick trip recap leading up to Venice: we flew to Milan from Seville, Spain on a super cheap two hour Ryanair flight. Earlier in our trip, we visited Lisbon, Portugal, then flew to Malaga in southern Spain before taking a bus to Granada, Spain.
Venice is one of those cities that everyone has heard about. Mostly good stuff. Some not so great stuff. It routinely appears in articles like "Top 5 European Destinations Everyone Must Visit", so it's a must see if you find yourself in Europe with time to spare, right? I've also seen Venice on several "Most Overrated Destinations in the World" lists. How does one reconcile these two starkly contrasting ideas? Could Venice appropriately fit on both kinds of lists? I wanted to judge for myself so I made sure to book a couple nights in Venice so I could experience all the good and the bad that this canal-filled enclave has to offer.
Happy New Year! Another great year in the books for us. Our youngest started kindergarten. We took an amazing nine week trip to Europe. And with all the kids in school we were finally able to take advantage of a nice last minute travel deal when Mrs. Root of Good and I jumped on a cruise to the Caribbean for a week. Our early retirement lifestyle is going well.
Here's how our finances finished 2017. Year end dividends rolled into the investment accounts in December pushing our total income to just over $14,000. Our spending was rather high at almost $8,000 (which needs some explaining). Another freakishly good month in the stock market pushed our net worth up another $26,000 to leave us with $2,037,000 at year end. Needless to say, our 2017 went remarkably well from a financial perspective.
Welcome to stop number five on our nine week trip across Europe! This post covers the four days we spent in Milan, Italy at the end of June. We flew to Milan from Seville, Spain on a super cheap two hour Ryanair flight. Earlier in our trip, we visited Lisbon, Portugal, then flew to Malaga in southern Spain before taking a bus to Granada.
This was our first time in Italy and I didn't have a clue where to visit. I considered Rome but I figured it would be too ambitious to tackle in just four days so we decided to save Rome for later. Milan, though still a sizable city, proved a good choice to fit in a four day slot in our schedule before we headed onward to Venice.
Milan offers a great mix of the new and the historic. In a single day of sightseeing, one can take a hundred year old trolley line to go from centuries old castles and cathedrals to cutting edge ultramodern skyscrapers. Both the old and new proved interesting to me!
Where did the year go? As I write this we are less than four weeks from 2018! Time flies when you are having fun. As usual, November weather has been beautiful here in North Carolina and we have enjoyed many nice days outside. Now that December is here, it's starting to feel more like winter with the short days and frost on the ground for a brief time span some mornings.
Big news on the financial front. In November, our net worth smashed through the big $2 million dollar mark! Our net worth climbed $33,000 to close the month at $2,011,000. Income remained strong at $3,228 while expenses increased to $2,857 (still within budget though). To summarize: we are doing okay financially.
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