Monday, February 25, 2019

My Bucket List—well, until retirement officially kicks in

bucket list

It never fails.  At least once a week, I’ll run into someone—at the drugstore, the market, the barbershop—one of the other residents in my building—and they’ll ask me what I do for a living. 

If I say I’m sort of retired, I usually get “For real?” and then told I’m very lucky.

For a long time that bugged the you-know-what out of me; what’s so lucky about it?  I spent my entire IT career living below my means and worked hard to stick to a monthly budget & savings plan.

Looking back, do I wish I’d spent more money?   I don’t know.. I’ve always felt pretty comfortable living frugally.  What do I know.  But looking at my personal assets when I left my job at the start of 2015 and what they are now… I suppose you can say I have been fortunate. 

In January 2015, I had $178,000 in my personal (non-retirement) stock portfolio and $34,000 in my checking account.  A grand total of $212,000.  I told myself that first year, “I’m not touching those stocks in 2015, I’m living solely from cash.”

“Then In one year, any remaining cash will be moved to an online savings account and labeled ‘Emergency savings’.  I’ll do my first stock sale, make sure it’s enough to live on for a year.”

And at the start of 2016, that’s what I did—made my first sale of stocks, put it in checking after socking away the remaining $10,000 from 2015 in Emergency Savings.  

Then in mid-2016 I developed my jaw disorder and proceeded to dip into that Emergency savings to pay for uninsured oral specialists, moving expenses to move back home, new furniture, paying off my lease so I could move back to Pittsburgh, more furniture, more moving expenses… and by 2017 my Emergency Savings was gone. 

I panicked and thought “I’ve gotta go back to work & rebuild that emergency savings!”  And thanks to UPMC making me a job offer, did just that.  But then 2 weeks later, 2 things occurred to me:   

  1. The stock market was chugging along pretty nicely this whole time
  2. I really, REALLY did not enjoy being back at work

So I apologized profusely to my new boss, hung my head in shame & quietly exited the building—then came home, looked at my personal stock portfolio and began doing a little rearranging.

Non-Retirement 4 Bucket Portfolio as of February 2019

blog portfolio

Like I said at the top, I’ve been fortunate.  I’ve been living off this portfolio for 3 years and it’s still a healthy bit more than what I started out with.  Still, I didn’t want to be forced to sell $20-25,000 worth of stocks every year to live on, what if we get another market crash like 2001?  Or 2008?  Or 2011?   Not if, when.  It’s going to happen.  

So I opened a Money Market mutual fund in my portfolio (pretty much the safest fund there is, it maintains a constant $1.00 per share and currently pays 2.5% monthly dividends).  I then sold enough stocks from my other mutual funds to load it with 2-3 years worth of spending, then set it up to deposit $1850.00 into my bank’s checking account every month.   You know… like a monthly paycheck.  

That (and the dividends paid from my other funds) give me around $25,000 a year.  Come January, if the stock market is doing well, I’ll sell from stock-buckets 1,3 & 4 and refill my money market bucket.  If the market takes a downturn, I won’t sell.  And I won’t have to.  (Well, for a couple years at least.)

Just because this is my non-retirement portfolio doesn’t mean I get to spend it all before I’m “officially retired”.  I’ve got 3 years before I can touch my IRA, 5-6 years before I can begin collecting early social security, 8 years before I’m eligible for Medicare...  

So I hope this lasts as long as possible, and until I’ve got other means to keep me going, I’m going to say I’m not working but still not officially retired!teepee_dribbble_1x

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