Welcome to September! Wait, it’s already the 8th? I haven’t written an article this month yet?
As my friend Martin from Studenomics always says, “No one wants to hear your excuses!”
So I won’t tell you how me and the two toddlers have been passing a stomach bug back and forth. I also won’t mention that my wife’s been able to avoid it as she’s been traveling for work. Instead I could tell you about how we’ve been preparing for her to get deployed for Hurricane Irma. That’s not too exciting, so instead I’d like to tell you about the extensive water damage at one of our condo rental properties. Actually, since I’m still in the middle of that, I’ll wait until that’s completed and recap it. Quick highlight: Even if the condo association is negligent in keeping their parts maintained (i.e. the roof), the owner of the condo has to complete dozens of hours of legwork to line-up the vendors, insurances and other stakeholders.
I had three things that I wanted to accomplish with this article today. I just crossed the first one off the list with the above passive-aggressive kvetching*.
Next up, I have a favor to ask you. Nominations are open for the Plutus Awards. The Plutus Awards are the “Best of” the personal finance blogging community. There are a ton of different categories and usually a personal finance fits squarely into one. For example there are categories for financial independence/retire early, investment, real estate, frugality, military, entrepreneurship blogs etc. I’ve never fit a particular category, because I’ve written dozens of articles about ALL those topics.
I’m not delusional enough to ever think that I could the Blog of the Year category… my top priorities each day are supporting my wife’s military career and raising the kids. Maybe someone can win Blog of the Year with all that, but dog sitting and condo management is a better fit for our family now.
There is one category where you could be nominate me (using this link): Lifetime Achievement Award. I’ve been blogging for more than 11 years now, which only a handful of single author blogs can say. If you are reading this, hopefully you know a little of my history. If not, I tooted my own horn on Mr. 1500’s website which was the purpose of the exercise.
In any case, I’ve been nominated twice before and I was trounced by some of the biggest names in personal finance. (I don’t know the voting results, but I wouldn’t have voted for myself against the winners.) Won’t you please nominate me so that I can be the next Susan Lucci?
I believe nominations are due today (YIKES!) so please don’t delay.
Finally, we’re onto the third thing I wanted to cover today:
How Many Days of Financial Freedom Have You Accrued?
The idea for this article comes from two diametrically opposed personal finance forces. One is a force for good and the other is a force for evil. Yesterday, the good witch of the south, Our Next Life, wrote about how you should measure your spending in days of retirement. Years ago, the wicked witch of the west, Robert Kiyosaki** wrote about financial freedom as how long you can live on your savings. I’m going to end the metaphor now, because I don’t want to get sidetracked by Idina Menzel, Kristin Chenoweth, and Joel Grey #MyWifeTheBroadwayFan.
I believe Kiyosaki covered this exact topic in Rich Dad, Poor Dad. It has been 12 years since I’ve read the book, so my mind may be Sam Beckett swiss cheese. So while Ms. Our Next Life, can help with your spending, Kiyosaki’s concept can work to calculate how financially free you are… at least in theory.
Both of these concepts require knowing one simply thing, how much money you need to retire for one day. For many people, it’s as simple as dividing what they spend in a year and dividing by 365. Or you can use your monthly necessary expenses and divide by 30 (while recognizing that’s the bare minimum and that you will need more money to retire). For me, it’s a little more complicated since our current expenses include child care for two, an online MBA program, and a mortgage. In retirement, we won’t have any of these. I found it easier to calculate our expenses over the next 45 years and create an average year.
Using that, our necessary expenses are around $25,000 on average. If I add $11,500 to account for extra expenses, that’s $36,500 a year. Conveniently (due to that arbritary amount I added) that’s around $100 a day.
Now comes the hard part… implementing the idea behind Kiyosaki’s theory. After about 3 minutes of trying to apply that to my own financial life, I gave up. While I could do a calculation with my retirement accounts, it got difficult because of penalties and pre-tax vs. post-tax considerations. At least, it’s easy to see there’s a real number there. What’s a little more difficult is calculating the value of the real estate. It earns nothing now, but in 10 years when the mortgage is paid off it should make around $36,000 a year.
Related to the real estate income, it’s worth noting the value of any recurring income you may have from a passive (or passive-ish) business. If I can write an electronic book and sell 10 copies a day at $10, that’s my $100. (Okay, we’ll need to sell more taxes and such, but that’s still not bad.) The difficulty with that particular plan is that the book market is over-saturated.
At the end of the day, I’m more focused on this kind of cash flow than having a huge egg and drawing it down. When you are pulling money out to live on, you have what we used to call a burn-rate during the dot-com bust in 2001. I’d rather be self-sustaining.
I want to hear your thoughts on this. My income and retirement plan is very different from the norm. Perhaps you have a more traditional one that would make it easier to figure out how many days of financial freedom you have accrued. Let’s hope that decades is a better measuring stick ;-).
* You can take the boy out of Brandeis, but you can’t take the Brandeis out of the boy.
** Kiyosaki earns the title for the reasons in the article I linked to.