The personal finance blogosphere is full of incredible success stories:
How we paid off $1,234,567 in student loans in 3 years
How my (all consuming) side hustle helped us become debt free
How we saved multi-millions by ruthlessly slashing our expenditures on housing, transportation, and food
Inspired by these fabulous accomplishments, I feel fortunate to share our most recent financial milestone:
Despite traveling and spending a ton, over the past ~4 years our net worth has grown by an additional $1+ million.
It’s been 3 years since I evaluated moving our portfolio to 100% equities, and 2 years since I last published an update on our overall asset allocation.
What’s changed since?
Since having a kid of our own I have often found myself in the company of other parents. And let me tell you, there is nothing in this world parents want to talk about more than the latest exploits of Little Johnny or Young Suzie.
“Oh man, you do NOT want to know what I found in Johnny’s diaper!” (you’re right)
“Oh my gawd, Suzie said the cutest thing today! Let me tell you all about it.” (that’s, uh… really cute)
And my personal favorite:
“Yeah this kid is wicked smart… probably gets it from his old man, hehe. So anyway, I opened up a 529 plan for him last week. We even did that thing where you contribute 5 years’ worth all at once. You knew you could do that, right?”
Me: “Yeah, uh.. Jr doesn’t have a 529.. And we have no plans to start one.”
International ATM Bonanza
Wouldn’t you know it, just a few weeks after intentionally overdrawing our bank account we had another mini financial crisis:
We needed a massive amount of cash in a foreign country in a very short period of time.
First, we signed a lease and paid a security deposit, 1st/Last month’s rent, and an agent’s fee.
Then we enrolled Jr in school and paid a full semester of tuition.
How do you transfer that much cash overseas without paying crazy fees and stupid exchange rates?
With the International ATM Bonanza, of course.
2017 was our 5th full year of early retirement, world travel, and blogging. Most of the content I’ve written comes from trying to figure things out for myself and our family, and then sharing the outcome. It’s helped create an exciting community of early retirees, tax geeks, expats, world travelers, nomadic families, and adventurers.
Although the blog became a profitable side business back in 2014, any financial benefit was mostly accidental. I typed some words, talked to some reporters, added some links, and (occasionally) cashed some checks.
In 2017 I thought, “Hmm, maybe I should actually try to do some businessy stuff with this thing.”
I think the results were positive.
Physically Present (photo credit)
A great number of world travelers utilize the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion to keep up to $102,100 in income out of the paws of the IRS (2017 tax year.)
For those who aren’t bonafide residents of another (non-US) country, this requires passing the Physical Presence Test (PPT) by being in a foreign country or countries for at least 330 days.
2017 is the first year we tried to pass the PPT, and getting it wrong by even one day could cost $20k or more in tax. Needless to say I wanted to get it right.