The Market Recovery
What a turnaround! The domestic equity market almost completely recovered in January from the drastic drop in December. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved by the recovery, especially since Whitney and I haven’t worked for over 6 months now! I even came out ahead from the drop due to investing some cash that I had on the sidelines to take advantage of the temporarily lower prices. By investing at the lower prices and getting the benefit of the rebound with that new invested money, I ended up with a higher net worth at the end of January than I had at the end of November, even though the domestic equity market is still about 1% lower than it was at the end of November!
Even though I like to think of myself as risk seeking when it comes to investing, the truth is that I’m pretty conservative overall. Before buying more equities with some of my cash in January, I had almost 12% of my net worth in a savings account earning only 2% interest. This is pretty much heresy in the personal finance world, and I made plenty of excuses why I had that much in cash, but the truth is that I was just nervous about the equity valuations and a potential drop. I determined that I’d rather have the money in a high yield savings account than in bonds, so I kept it there. After my recent investments this month, I’m down to 5% of my net worth in cash, which is still very high but more reasonable. Even if I didn’t bring in any more income from this blog in the future, with my current expenses I could live on that cash for about 16 months.
Income and Expenses
I kept my expenses pretty low in January and again had income from the blog exceed my expenses for the month, which is always a relief, especially when my investment portfolio is down like it was for most of January. Having to withdraw money while the market is down is the real risk of early retirement, so I’m doing my best to avoid that at all costs! I decided that I’m going to track every one of my expenses for the entire year of 2019 to see what my actual yearly spending is like.
Apparently a ton of you guys signed up for Medbridge using my discount code at the end of last year, which was a big boost in monthly income for January! So thank you for those who used my code!
Since I don’t use a budget and haven’t really closely tracked my expenses to this point, my retirement number has mostly been an educated guess on what my future lifestyle will be like. It is good news that my January expenses would equate to a yearly withdrawal rate of only 3.7% of my current portfolio, although I don’t anticipate my expenses being that low forever. That is one of the main reasons why I plan to continue to work a few months per year, with the other big reason being to not completely lose all of my physical therapy hands on skills.
Speaking of working, Whitney and I planned to take travel assignments in January, but that hasn’t worked out. We had a few offers, but none of them were really ideal and none worked for us in the end. We are still looking but also considering just looking for temporary PRN jobs in our hometown instead. One of the reasons that finding contracts has been so hard this time is that we have a trip to the Caribbean planned for the beginning of March (with one of the travel companies we work with and fellow travelers!), and some facilities haven’t been able to accommodate that. We also leave for our trip to Europe in May which is constraining the search as well. Additionally, we’ve been a little picky on our search.
We’ve taken advantage of the time off of physical therapy to work on both this blog and our other website, Travel Therapy Mentor. We also made a last minute decision to drive to Washington DC for the APTA CSM conference during the last week of January. It was amazing to meet some of you guys there, and I was shocked at how many people recognized Whitney and me from this blog! If we don’t end up finding jobs in the next couple of weeks, then we may end up waiting until we get back from the trip to Europe to find travel contracts somewhere in September. Either way, we have plenty of cushion to take the time off of work, which is a great position to be in.
I anticipate continuing to keep my expenses low in February, and it’s looking like it will be a good month for blog income as well. I could potentially double or even triple my expenses for the month with the income scheduled to come in if everything goes according to plan. Hopefully the market recovery will continue and take my net worth past the previous high in September of last year. It looks like I’d need an increase of about 2.5% on my investments in February for that to happen, which may be a long shot, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. I will also be getting about $400 in 401k matching added to my 401k balance at the beginning of February, which should be a tiny bump as well. Hopefully next month at this time we will be working travel contracts somewhere, but even if not we’ll be fine.
How was January for your net worth? Were you able to take advantage of the lower equity prices to get a boost in your net worth with the January recovery?