I decided to combine both the October and November recap thanks to the lengthy 18 month post. The weather turned better over the last couple months and I spent October trying to get in the last bit of surfing and November catching up on fishing. I’ve reconnected with a number of people professionally in the last month and I’m enjoying catching up. Here are some updates and random thoughts from the last two months.
Do I Regret Leaving?
A question I get often is still “do I miss work?” or “do you regret retiring early?”. It’s a funny question to get this time of year, since I *really* don’t miss anything around life at my old office this time of year. People would be trying to get six weeks worth of work done but inevitably so many people that are needed would be out of the office so six weeks of work becomes crammed into three weeks between late November and early December. Add in the pressure of people trying to get transactions done before year-end and it was constant chaos around the office.
Instead I’m now looking at tide charts and weather forecasts for fishing conditions. My biggest grumblings are missing a couple of huge hits the last time out on the beach and the inshore fishing being a little slow. We finally had a cold snap hit and that’ll kick the fishing up a notch (less baitfish – hungrier / more aggressive bigger fish).
I’ve been quiet on this front in 2020 while the market plummeted and subsequently recovered and now slightly positive for the year. I was overweight in small cap and financials, so for a while it was really painful trailing the market. Fortunately these came around in November and we can breathe a sigh of relief. I’m not going to perform as well as a 100% S&P 500 investor, but have a portfolio with 20% cash/bond and am okay with a lower return if it comes with a lower risk. Here’s to better years ahead for the investments.
Dividend / Interest Income: $349. The first month of the quarter continues to be rough with one of my monthly dividend payers (EPR) suspending its dividend. Q3 2021 can’t come fast enough for that holding. The majority of the income came from two REITs, Stag Industrial and STOR Capital. More regular dividend income should be headed our way in November and December.
Instacart Income: $1,205. Instacart was decent in the month of October. More on this later..
Other Income: $400. I picked up a nice checking account signup bonus from a regional bank. This one required a recurring direct deposit so I set up one from Fidelity and it worked perfectly. This has been a nice line item for us, earning $2,000 for the year, which isn’t bad considering a few of the major players suspended promotional offers in Q2 and Q3 of 2020. 2021 is off to a good start as well, I’ve already completed most of the requirements for two bonuses to be paid in January of 2021.
Dividends / Interest: $748. The second month of the quarter is better than the first thanks to dividend payouts from Chase and ILPT, an industrial REIT I added in 2020.. December is expected to be the biggest dividend month this year thanks to a special dividend recently announced by Costco.
Instacart / Gig Work: $835. The majority of this was earned thanks to a few good days in early November and trailed off substantially after the fifteen of the month. There’s two things driving the drop in Instacart earnings, us increasing our threshold to take orders and changes at Instacart.
- Why increase our threshold? Taxes. We‘ve pushed up against the end of the 12% tax bracket and new earnings will be taxed at a 22% Federal Tax Rate. Then I get to add 7% state taxes and 15.3% self employment taxes for a total marginal rate of ~ 44%. Giving up nearly half our earnings means the minimum payout we need to accept is higher.
- Instacart Changes: The biggest change is Instacart requiring most batches that are accepted to contain two to three deliveries. This sounds more efficient, but it delays deliveries, increases errors, and causes food to spoil. I see 25 mile deliveries with frozen food for Instacart to squeeze $4 in cost savings on an order. They’ve also cut back the number of customer service reps so the wait times are long to resolve issues. Instacart recently announced intentions for an initial public offering (IPO). Unfortunately I believe the company is making business decisions to boost short term profits at the expense of customer/shopper relationships. This is one of the moral hazards of going from a private to public company and decisions are being made at the expense of the business.
Other Income: $650. I picked up a signup bonus on the Citi Premier Card worth $650 in Citi ThankYou points.
What’s absent from the income report?
Blog Income: “They’re not retired, all their blogs replace their income” – Well, my earnings would say otherwise. The blog remained consistent earning $0 this month.
Freelance/Consulting: No Income, but I’m making progress here including some contingency work and should report a little income early in 2021.
What I’ve been reading / listening to:
Bigger Pockets: #421. Joshua Dorkin’s Keynote Speech: Joshua Dorkin is the founder of Bigger Pockets and this podcast is a discussion and then replay of his keynote speech talking about stepping away from Bigger Pockets, putting family first, and what advice he has for others. His story of becoming a caregiver is painfully relatable and the message I took away from it was this: Don’t wait for life to make the decision for you.
The Fish That Ate The Whale: Many books and stories have been written about the titans of the early 20th century, but until this there was little known about Samuel Zemurray, a Jewish Russian immigrant who came to the United States in the late 1800s and worked his way up from laboring on the docks of New Orleans to one of the most powerful men in America. He reshaped much of central America and I now know where the term Banana Republic came from!
What’s In Store For December?
Cooler weather has set in and we’re going to try to enjoy the outside as much as we can. Figuring out Christmas will be interesting this year with the virus raging on. It’ll likely involve a couple small family visits instead of a massive gathering this year. We are going to be more careful towards the end of the month as we’re going to try to test our way into Hawaii in early January. There’s lots of good news around vaccines, it’d be nice to spend anywhere from a couple weeks few weeks to two months in a nice tropical climate, get a little surfing in, then come back to this ending. Until then, we will make the best of the situation and keep moving forward.
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