Net Worth Report #3 – “Cup of Tea”

Well, paint me green and call me a pickle! Last month the Dow Jones industrial average experienced its biggest monthly gain in more than 33 years!! The last time this happened was the month of January1987!

But then, just 9 months later in October 1987, the Dow recorded the biggest single *daily* LOSS ever. “Black Monday” they call it (or in Australia they called it Black Tuesday, because of the time difference 🙃). The Dow lost more money in that 1 day than the biggest gain over a 30-day period. Ouch!

Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself 9 months from now!

(On a lighter note, also in 1987…  Bon Jovi released “Livin’ on a Prayer,” the movie Dirty Dancing came out, Stephen Hawking published “A Brief History of Time” and one of the biggest miracles in the history of mankind happened also in 1987… My wife was born into the world!)

Net Worth Update: $532,483 (+$42,527)

Woohoo! We crossed the $500k mark – AND THEN SOME!  The last time I made $42k in a single month was… well, never!

Here’s the account summary, as well as growth shown in dollars and percentages for each asset we’re tracking:

Here’s What Happened in November…

Before getting to the asset details, here are a few cool money wins for us this month…

First, my wife and I were walking the dog in our neighborhood when we spotted this little bench set on the side of the road. Someone was throwing it out with the trash…

So, I came back 10 minutes later with the Prius and took it home. After setting it up and taking a photo, I sold it online for $40. Not bad for 20 mins of work! :)

Then a few weeks ago, I went to an estate sale and found these 2 surfboards…

I bought them for $20, and sold them for $160 online! 🏄‍♂️🏄‍♀️  Once the online ads were posted, both boards sold in less than 2 hours. I LOVE estate sale deals like this because they are FAST.

Lastly, I signed up for – a website that lets you participate in mock trials for real life lawsuits. They assigned me a case which took 20 minutes to read and submit an opinion on, and paid me $10.

I realize these earnings are small potatoes… making us only a few hundred bucks. But, all these small dollars add up over the months and years. The same goes with most side hustles. Small earnings do make a difference!

And, I find it fun :)  You might too if you want to give stuff like this a try! I’d love to hear your stories!

November Abnormal Expenses…

Our dog Cooper had some weird growth on his leg, which warranted a trip to the vet. It cost $101 for the vet to take a quick look and tell us to “monitor it for a few weeks, and come back if things change.”  Luckily, the thing went away shortly afterwards! $101 down the drain but still we’re beating the cost if we would have gotten pet insurance when he was a puppy!

Cyber Monday got the best of me this year… I dropped $147 on a new surfing wetsuit. In my defense, my old one is literally falling apart after four years of use – and I’m freeeeezing on my morning surfs now that winter is here! I got a great deal though, $420 discounted to $147!

Our only other larger expenses this month were from buying various Christmas gifts. But I can’t share those juicy details or I’ll blow the surprise for my family members who read this blog!

Asset Growth (and Shrinkage) for November

Checking & Savings Accounts: $39,219 (-$675): A little decrease here – and this will probably continue as we’re spending more than we’re making the next few months. (My wife is a teacher and doesn’t get paid over the holidays. So our income dips during holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and for 3 months in the summer!)  It’s all good though, the goal is to lower this emergency fund a bit as we siphon off some of my income into my 401(k) plan while we can.

Rental Property and Reserve Account: $237,616 (+$666): This past month we collected $1975 in total rent, and had -$1309 in expenses. While $666 seems like great profit for the month, keep in mind my ridiculous taxes and insurance are paid annually, so this pretty much wipes out ALL profit for this month. Here’s the breakdown of expenses this month:

  • $662 mortgage payment
  • $141 fridge needed fixing
  • $165 stove needed fixing
  • $121 leaky toilet needed fixing
  • $145 property management
  • $75 landscaping/yard maintenance

Owning a rental property can be like death by a thousand papercuts. In another blog post I’ll show you how I go through these monthly reports to keep an eye on which units have “common” repairs. Small maintenance adds up over time so sometimes it’s worth making larger capital improvements to minimize ongoing maintenance costs.

IRA – Rollover: $131,323 (+$14,313): Back in July I pegged this IRA against the rental property to track which one will grow faster if left alone for many years (they were both worth each $109k at the time). I haven’t touched either of them and this IRA account is crushing the rental asset in value! We’ll see what happens over the loooong run.

IRA – Roths: $67,766 (+7,625): As much as I love getting over 10% growth in a single month, I kind of wish this growth spurt waited until January when I fund these Roth accounts each year! I would have preferred more tax-free gains in this account.

Joint Brokerage Account: $173,439 (+$17,022): This is our largest account, growing mostly at the rate of the overall stock market. One day I’ll do a deep-dive into which stocks/bonds are actually in here. But I’ll be doing some rebalancing and capital gains harvesting in December which will switch things up a bit. Growth this month came from gains only, no personal contributions.

HSA: $1,856 (+$202): Hooray for tax-free growth!… As long as I spend this money on medical expenses if/when we have them. The growth in this account just came from market gains. In December I’ll be making a contribution, just gotta figure out my prorated amount to contribute because I’ve only had healthcare for a few months this year. 😳

New 401(k) at work: $4,261 (+$2,304): Sweet! This account is the only retirement account we are actually contributing to! I’m prioritizing it as much as I can through the end of the year. Sadly, I don’t have the income to max out the 401(k) contributions this year – something I hope all you guys are doing!!??

Breakdown of Liabilities

Rental Property Mortgage: -$122,518 (+$240): I always forget about this tiny little amount we make each month. Having tenants slowly pay down your property loan is a beautiful thing. This loan balance will keep reducing over time – until we refinance and pull it all out again :)

Credit Card Balances: -$479 (+$830): This is the outstanding balance of our credit cards at the time I make this net worth snapshot. We rack up charges all throughout the month and then pay it off in full at random times. :)

My wife and I have no other consumer debt at this time!

All said and done, what a kickass November! All assets green and growing, and we surpassed the $500k mark! 

How were your updates the past month? Share your milestones and juicy details in the comments — which as a reminder, is a judgment-free zone!

Have a great weekend my friends!

– Joel

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PS: If you’re just getting started in your journey, here are a few good resources to help track your money. Doesn’t matter which route you go, just that it ends up sticking!

If you're not a spreadsheet guy like me and prefer something more automated (which is fine, whatever gets you to take action!), you can try your hand with a free Empower account instead (formerly Personal Capital)

Empower is a cool tool that connects with your bank & investment accounts to give you an automated way to track your net worth. You'll get a crystal clear picture of how your spending and investments affect your financial goals (early retirement?), and it's super easy to use.

personal capital dashboard

It only takes a couple minutes to set up and you can grab your free account here. They also do a lot of other cool stuff as well which my early retired friend Justin covers in our full review of Empower - check it out here: Why I Use Empower Almost Every Single Day.

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  1. The Millennial Money Woman December 4, 2020 at 6:03 AM

    Good morning Joel –

    Congratulations on crossing the $500k marker!
    That just shows your hard work and dedication have really paid off. Amazing.

    I’m sorry to hear that Cooper had a growth on his leg – but it certainly seems that it paid off to not go on pet health insurance. This is something I was thinking about for my French Bulldog – applying to pet insurance, but decided against it in the end. And I am glad I did.

    I am actually eligible for an HSA too starting next year, and I cannot wait for that triple tax benefit!

    Have a great weekend – and soon you’ll be in the 2 comma club!

    The Millennial Money Woman

    1. Joel December 4, 2020 at 12:05 PM

      Wicked! There’s one thing someone advised me about the HSA contributions to keep in mind… If you can, make your contributions from your paycheck deduction, not just transferring money from your regular account and claiming a deduction later (like i’m doing). Payroll deductions avoid FICA taxes, because they are treated as an employer contribution vs. personal contribution. Small amount, but savings nonetheless!

  2. Adam December 4, 2020 at 9:29 AM

    Nice job — half a mil is a big milestone! Congratulations!

    On August 13 our household hit $500k in invested assets (retirement accounts, HSA, a little bit of company stock). Here just a few short months later that figure is at $563k. Current net worth is $885k, up from $720k on January 1.

    I shared that with my wife yesterday and it blew her away that we made more from VTI’s whims than we did by buckling down at work for thousands of hours this year. We’re firmly of the opinion that capitalism lets too many fall through the cracks, but that won’t keep us from playing the only game in town.

    1. Joel December 4, 2020 at 11:55 AM

      It’ll keep getting better and better from here Adam. You’ve put in the hard work to start building a cash machine. Soon it will outpace your hard work earnings every single month. ;) Congrats to you and your wife :)

      1. Debtfreemams December 4, 2020 at 10:38 PM

        Hi Joel – Congratulations!!!! on the 500K.

        I was inspired by one of your posts and was tracking our networth from couple of months. It was depressing to see the decline. But in November we crossed our first 100k mark and were very excited and motivated. Thanks for inspiring us always.

        1. Joel December 5, 2020 at 9:14 AM

          AWESOME! Keep tracking, no matter what happens! We all go through the down months together, but the important thing is setting up a consistent system to follow each month every month. Congrats on the $100k!!! That’s actually a harder milestone than 500. It might not seem like it now, and you’ve still got a lot of hard work ahead, but the foundation is laid and that’s the hardest part. Nice! Have a great weekend :)

          1. Adam December 5, 2020 at 6:20 PM

            This man speaks truth — between low salaries and not knowing what we were doing, our first $100k took almost eight years. Getting to $500k only took five more after that. You got this!

  3. Dan Waterman December 4, 2020 at 9:48 AM

    Congratulations Joel, great read as always!

    1. Joel December 4, 2020 at 11:52 AM

      Cheers Dan. Hope all is well!

  4. JoeHx December 4, 2020 at 10:30 AM

    Our retirement accounts increased hugely too – $41k – and with our debt dropping by $2k, that means out net worth increased over $43k.

    It’s our hugest month, too!


    1. Joel December 4, 2020 at 11:51 AM

      Congrats Joe! Love the debt pay-down in there… Gains will grow and shrink over time, but debt paydown is something YOU did that can’t be taken away by the market. Cheers and have a wicked Friday!!

  5. TB from Midwest December 4, 2020 at 2:53 PM

    Joel – thanks for the post and motivation to run our numbers this month. I just finished the calculations and I’m amazed with the results as well as everyone else’s results on here. Keep up the great work everyone and ride the wave while it’s high!

    Our overall Net Worth increased to $702,000, up $65,000 from last month. Not to bad for a couple of 35 year olds, but still plenty of work to do! The increase this month was primarily due to our retirement/investment accounts which were up $45K, but interestingly our home value increased about $15K in one month due to some recent comparable sales in our area. YTD our Net Worth is up 22.1% and from March 2020 it’s increased an amazing 34.8%!

    1. Joel December 4, 2020 at 7:12 PM

      Amazing! Thanks for sharing! Love to hear other people’s numbers (in the good times and bad times). We all ride the wave together! You guys are crushing it for 35y/o’s. Keep it up and keep us posted :)

  6. KJ December 4, 2020 at 11:48 PM

    This is such a dope accomplishment Joel, huge congrats to you and your wife! You’ll be millionaires before you know it. This was an amazing $$$ month for my husband and I also. Let’s hope this upward market streak continues…it won’t, but it’s fun to hope!

    1. Joel December 5, 2020 at 9:08 AM

      Hope for the best, but plan for the worst :) Thanks KJ, congrats to you and the hubs also!

  7. Kiersten December 5, 2020 at 11:41 AM

    That $500k mark!! Love to see it, congrats!

    This year was the first year I surpassed $100k net worth and my December Net Worth has surpassed $140k! I am amazed that even though this year has been a nightmare with the pandemic, the market continues its trajectory upward and my net worth with it.

    I look forward to hearing about how you track the rental repairs and determine when to make bigger fixes.

    1. Joel December 7, 2020 at 1:03 PM

      Congrats Kiersten on your 100k milestone! And seems like you’re way past it now too. More to come on the rental :)

  8. Dividend Diplomats December 5, 2020 at 10:08 PM

    Joel –

    NICE work! Love the side hustles. I need to go out and walk around more to find those hidden gems. I sell quite a bit on eBay; 30-50 items per month, so much fun and cool to make a few hundred bucks!


    1. Joel December 7, 2020 at 1:05 PM

      Wow – that’s awesome about eBay. Where do you find most of your stuff to sell? With Covid and lockdowns, there is much less stuff floating around (and i’m cautious of what I pick up!). I’m looking forward to ramping up next year when all this stuff is over fingers crossed!

  9. Impersonal Finances December 7, 2020 at 1:24 AM

    Awesome stuff Joel! Hard to believe the market performance last month in that context. Just sit back and let those investment accounts do the work for you. Here’s to the next half mil!

    1. Joel December 7, 2020 at 1:15 PM

      Cheers IF! Slow and steady wins the race :)

  10. Alexander December 7, 2020 at 8:14 AM

    Really very good numbers, I can only dream of. But I try my best. Your investments motivate me to do something for his finances myself. Keep up the good work

    Greetings from Germany

    1. Joel December 7, 2020 at 1:19 PM

      Guten Tag Alex!

      Vielen Dank fürs Lesen und ich bin froh, dass diese Zahlen zur Motivation beitragen! Meine Zahlen waren auch einmal sehr klein … Aber über viele Jahre nach und nach daran zu arbeiten, summiert sich wirklich. Arbeiten Sie weiter hart und sparen Sie und lassen Sie mich wissen, ob ich überhaupt helfen kann. Prost!

      Schöne Ferien, Joel

      1. Alexander December 8, 2020 at 3:33 AM

        Thanks for the answer and even in German. It helps me a lot to see something like this. The german mindset is not like that: save, invest, get a better life.
        Rather, work until you drop, buy a better car than your neighbor. Buy a bigger house than your neighbor. Be jealous and don’t grant anyone anything because no one should benefit.
        If you show off your money and success, you are stupid. All the more I appreciate that your mentality is so open. Success is more appreciated. From 2021 on I will also present my earnings for my people on my blog.

        Cheers Alexander

        1. Joel December 8, 2020 at 10:37 AM

          Hey Alex! Ich habe dein Blog überprüft (konnte aber nichts verstehen, haha). Ich möchte nur sagen, dass ich stolz auf Sie bin, dass Sie gegen das “Normale” verstoßen und Dinge veröffentlichen, die die meisten Menschen nicht tun würden. Du hilfst den Menschen mehr als du weißt – mach weiter so, mein Freund!
          Prost, Joel

  11. Max @ Max Out of Pocket December 7, 2020 at 6:52 PM

    “In December I’ll be making a contribution, just gotta figure out my prorated amount to contribute because I’ve only had healthcare for a few months this year.”

    Hey Joel – if you happened to have been eligible and covered under your HDHP 12/1/2020 (literally 6 days ago) you are eligible for the FULL annual contribution for 2020 ($3,550 self only and $7,100 family). This blew my mind a few years back. It’s called “last-month rule”.

    The only catch is the testing period, which basically says you need to stay eligible for the next twelve months. It just so happens I did a write up on this today, feel free to take a peek should you feel so inclined.

    Either way, nice job this month!


    1. Joel December 8, 2020 at 10:58 AM

      Hey Max! Dude I just read all your posts on the HSA and love how knowledgeable you are :) Unfortunately, I won’t be in the ‘eligible’ category for the entirety of next year. (well maybe I will, but I don’t know 100% for sure). I called Fidelity who manages my HSA and we talked it all out. I’ll be transferring 887.50 this year, and probably another prorated amount for the start of next year for the months I’m covered. Thanks for all the info dude. Great posts!

      1. Max December 13, 2020 at 7:17 PM

        Thank you, Sir.

        Just let me know if you need anything when your new insurance plan gets offered.

  12. armenian December 8, 2020 at 11:25 AM

    Awesome stuff Joel! Hard to believe the market performance last month in that context. Just sit back and let those investment accounts do the work for you. Here’s to the next half mil!

    1. Joel December 8, 2020 at 1:16 PM

      Cheers to putting investments on auto-pilot and watching them rise over time. Let’s just hope there’s no dramatic reversal :)