TicTocLife - A Story of Financial Independence
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Do You Know How You’re Being Influenced?

By Jenni

After several suggestions from friends and social media, we caved and watched Netflix's documentary-drama Social Dilemma. The film focuses on how digital ads and social media influence us through constant "nudges". It sparked discussions on some of the hot topics right now such as the upcoming US presidential election, the ongoing global pandemic, and the economy. There is a lot going on in the world right now and it is easy to fall into the trap of believing what you hear and not researching the facts for yourself. Each of the topics above reaches far and wide. They can have long-lasting impacts on your life if you are not properly informed when making a decision affected by them. Our key takeaway from watching this film was how important it is to do your own research and know the facts before making a decision.

We decided to dive into a topic that recently came up as a reader case study on real estate and a recent comment about primary residence net worth.

We often hear about how paying off your mortgage to get out of debt is smart. What Chris discovered by analyzing his parents' home, something they refer to as "the best investment we've ever made", may surprise you.

There's an ongoing argument for the ages about whether renting or buying is better, but what happens when you incorporate investing your downpayment into the renting equation and accounting for all likely homeownership expenses? Have you considered all aspects of buy vs rent and invest?

Chris went all out to sort fact from fiction. He spent countless hours creating, and then recreating these two posts.

    We also released our September monthly FIRE budget detailing our expenses and savings. Even with Chris splurging a little on a frugally purchased a mountain bike and a huge leap in our grocery bill, we were still able to reach a savings rate of 50%. If you want to dive into our monthly expenses and see how we spend and save our money, check out this post. Leave us and tips in the comments on how we can continue to improve on our savings.

    Hm, think we might have jumped into mountain biking trails a little too hard and fast? Nah! Let's go!

    Enjoying Second Summer

    Every fall in Virginia, we like to say we get a "Second Summer". The fall weather comes in with cooler weather. The leaves start to fall and we think summer is long gone. But then, the sun peeks out from behind the cloudy skies and gives us a handful of 75-80 degree days in which we get to enjoy the sunshine for a few more days.

    We took a lot of advantage with our second summer with a 10-mile mountain bike ride, a family picnic, and countless strolls in the sunshine.
    Just casually enjoying a long walk around a beautiful garden in the middle of the work week - FI life!

    What else have we been up to?

    Besides enjoying the change of seasons, we have been catching up with family and friends with outdoor activities. One of the many benefits of fall is that staying outdoors is not so unbearable. Being able to safely socially distance with family and friends outdoors and not melting away has made it possible to have some quality time with those whom we have been missing.

    We also had the opportunity to help out our good friends by taking care of their old boy for the week. We have not truly dog-watched for more than a few days at a time so this was a fun experience. Having a small home, Max was always at our feet resting or waiting for a pat on the head. Being a small dog, he required frequent walks and potty breaks. We did not mind the extra breaks in our day to take a stroll in this lovely weather. However, we did struggle to keep him out of our bed and not whining in the middle of the night. He wanted nothing but love, all the time!

    I will miss coming home to a snuggly little animal excited to say hello but it was nice to get a good night's rest. We can always "borrow" him in the future if we become anxious for some doggy love!
    One of Max's favorite spots: right between us in his little bed having a rest.

    Expanding on our Animal Love

    As our love for animals was on our minds, we thought the monthly Reader's Choice FIRE Fund Donation should be related to animal welfare. We decided to focus on smaller animal welfare organizations and shelters around Virginia for this month. Each of the non-profit organizations works with a variety of animals and offers different services to the public.
    1. Operation Paws for Homes
    2. Life Unlimited of Virginia Inc (Rikki’s Refuge)
    3. Richmond Animal League
    We've listed the vital details, missions, and charity background review links for each organization in our September monthly budget update. Come vote in the poll! As the well-educated reader you are, take a minute to get informed, then vote. If you're in the mid-Atlantic US, you might even find an organization you'd like to support with time or money!

    Children's education charities donation winner

    We are happy to announce that AdoptAClassroom.org is our winner from last month's poll about Children's Education Charities. We made a donation to their COVID-19 fund which focuses on keeping teachers and students learning in a safe environment. Thank you to all who participated in the poll. Please leave us a comment if you have a suggestion about how to reach more folks who are interested in donation resources and of course feel free to share the link with your community as well.

    We've had fun taking the time to learn about these organizations and being able to make donations to charities where we know will make a difference.

    Personal Finance Favorites on the Web

    Below are the articles we've read since the last newsletter that really struck a chord with either of us. Give them a read, check out the authors, expand your information sources with these quality creators.

    1. The Psychology of Money, Part 2: Nudges - Financial Mechanic
      Behavioral Economics is constantly fascinating with its crossover between personal finance and psychology. Nudges are the little pushes made by companies, governments, and organizations to get you--the consumer--to take the desired action. A positive nudge might be to make organ donation opt-out and default in your state. What are the effects of these little nudges all over the place in economics?
    2. Our Asset Liquidity Ratio - Max Out of Pocket
      If you're on the FIRE path, what's your Liquidity Ratio (Liquid Net Worth / Total Net Worth = Asset Liquidity Ratio)? We're at about 47%. How important do you think it is to your withdrawal strategy?
    3. Every Child Can Become a Millionaire - Retire by 40
      You've probably heard of a 529, but did you know about UTMAs for your kids? You can help your child become a millionaire with just $6,750. That's a great idea. Why doesn't everyone do this?
    4. Dealing With Emotional Lightning Strikes - Traipsing About
      Okay, this one doesn't really fall into the realm of FIRE directly--but hear me out! Dakota is an enjoyable writer and their adventures are always entertaining. As he channels the power of Stoicism throughout this post, he'll leave you more capable of absorbing and grounding those moments in life where you feel like you were just sucker-punched. While it extends to more than money, it won't hurt to have this knowledge when the market takes its next dive or the water heater explodes.
    5. Study: Cash Panickers From COVID-19 Volatility Lost Money - Accidental FIRE
      You won't be surprised to find out that folks who panicked and went to cash in the early cycle of the pandemic stock market crash are behind those that followed buy and hold. We should be disciplined investors that avoid the behavior gap. But you might be surprised to find out some of their demographics. Do you fit the mold? And have you held? A magic eight ball would have let you make a killing if you sold at the top early in the year and rebought at the bottom in spring. But... can anyone really do that?
    As we say goodbye to September and welcome October with its crisp fall evenings and bright leaf coated lawns, we urge you to stay informed and never stop learning.

    Jenni & Chris

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      Our Latest Posts

      Incase you missed one, here's our latest posts since our last newsletter:

      Animal Shelters in Virginia and Our September 2020 Budget

      We review animal shelters in VA for our monthly donation, detail last month's budget, and award a charitable grant to a children's education non-profit!

      By Chris
      Our September 2020 Monthly FIRE Budget reveals all our spending details and sets out a donation goal for animal shelters in VA.

      Buy vs Rent and Invest: Planning for Financial Independence

      When debating the buy vs rent and invest question we mustn't forget that homeownership often involves debt leverage which means our asset can easily be a liability. Just look to the Great Recession of 2008-2009.
      Here's how to analyze your own buy vs rent and invest scenario, deciding to invest in either needs to be part of your financial independence plan!

      By Chris

      When to Pay Off Your Mortgage or Invest Extra Capital

      Should you pay off your mortgage or invest extra money? Besides the return on investment difference, sometimes you want to reduce your income.

      By Chris
      Should you pay off your mortgage or invest when you have extra money available? Pictured: the childhood home I remember best.
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      Thanks again for subscribing to our infrequent newsletter. We both hope you're enjoying TicTocLife as much as we are. If you have feedback about this newsletter, you can reply directly or use our Contact form.

      Warm regards,
      Jenni & Chris