Do you hear the duck? Our financial situation as of October 2nd.

Zillow’s home valuation algorithm, by Fisher Price.

Excellent month for us.

For starters, though…yet again, Zillow is the font of all bastardy. As I’ve said, I’m a balance-sheeter and like to include an estimate of the current value of our home in our net worth. Which is all well and good, except that I rely on Zillow’s “Zestimate” for that number.

Zillow’s valuation algorithm seems to be based on that old Fischer Price wheel-of-fortune game where you pull the string and the pointer goes around and around and lands on a pseudo-random picture of a farm animal. “The pig says: ZILLOW!

I say all this because in September Zillow once again cut the supposed value of our home from its estimate of $362,825 to today’s estimate of $355,746, for a decline of roughly $7,100.

Fine. It’s not like I’m selling anytime soon. None of the “when in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout” nonsense. I’ll just be over here bursting an aorta instead.

On to business.

First up: we’ve chosen to use Personal Capital as our financial management and retirement modeling system. Click here to read my full review.

$2,311,190 is about an $800 increase over August’s net worth. However, we had that $7,100 home valuation decline, and we also spent roughly $4,500 on current and annual expenses, as well as a nice beach vacation I’ll get into shortly. So yeah, a $12,000 increase.

Here’s an interesting exercise. Having been retired for twelve years now and having maintained an annual withdrawal rate of 3.5%-ish, what if we adjust that $2,311,190 upwards as if we’d 1) never made any withdrawals at all, and 2) earned the annualized S&P/dividends reinvested rate of 8.2% since 2005?

To wit: say we’ve withdrawn $55,000 a year, which likely isn’t too far off, but is admittedly an estimated number since I’ve switched expense tracking systems four times. If I do a quick present value of past payments calculation, I end up with $1.1 million, which would put us up to a total $3.4 million.

That doesn’t include the value of any more savings I’d have accrued from salary in those twelve years, so it likely would’ve been more.

Our budget? FAIL. Also, SUCCEED.

Last week was our twentieth anniversary…and holy face-of-Jesus in my toast, how did that happen?

At any rate, it did, so we went on a nice vacation to the beach and in eight days spent a good $800 on lodging and $450 wining and dining. I could very well be distraught about that $1,250, except for two reasons.

First, under our Assets column above you’ll see that I carry a “vacation fund” line item. Each month I deduct several items from our monthly budget to cover periodic expenses like property taxes, insurance, and vacations. It’s a virtual savings account.

Second, my wife has gotten a hobby job in the kitchen at a local bakery. She loves baking. The job pays $12 an hour and she’s carrying twenty to thirty hours a week, so it’s a complete win. She wanted to bump our monthly budget up $500 a month, from $4,100 to $4,600–which is utterly cool with me–and she also wanted to go on more trips. And so if she wants to eat out more…again, it’s totally cool.

I say all that because I browbeat the hell out of her during our accumulation phase. She went along with the big plan, but dealt with constant guilt and worry whenever she spent money, and she still hasn’t entirely gotten over it. This has of course harmed our marriage, which is one reason, frankly, I’m surprised we made it to twenty years.

A word of advice: don’t be an Early Retirement Dude. Choose the right battles.

About this blog: I’ve made roughly $1,500 on it since I first launched it on April Fool’s Day. I haven’t tracked the time I’ve spent on it, though, so let’s call it ten to twenty hours a week. A couple of hundred bucks a month for forty to eighty hours a month is infinitesimal. I could make more money training crows to fetch quarters.

But whatever. It’s fun and I’m building a business. Maybe a year from now I’ll be making enough to pay for another vacation, or a new clutch for my truck, or something else that’s bound to come up.

I don’t have much more to say about September. In short, we stayed on track even though our lifestyle got a little more luxurious. Can’t complain.

Author: ER Dude

Sick of your job? After a thirteen-year career, Early Retirement Dude fled corporate America for good. You can do it too! Visit or email

4 thoughts

  1. I love that your wife took a job at a bakery! A while back I was fed up with my office job and actually interviewed with a bakery to see what it would be like. Needless to say, I happily went back to my desk job. Baking professionally isn’t easy! I still think it would be a fun part-time job if you’re already FIRE’d though. 🙂

  2. Congrats on everything! Sounds like a great month! That’s impressive to have a monthly gain with the zestimate fluctuating so much.

    I agree with the “picking the right battles” piece. Early retirement is important, but so is maintaining relationships and living a fulfilling life.

  3. You’ll have to share how you’re raking in so much coin on your blog, good sir! Or not. But I do admire even the nominal amounts one can make in such a short time blogging.

    Great read here too. I can attest to the wisdom of being a good husband during the accumulation phase. That guilt for spending crap really gets old when your better half is not the primary bread winner. I’m guessing you’re around 45, like me?

    1. “Cubert.” That’s hilarious.

      Yeah, forty-eight. Wish I’d tumbled to this particular bit of wisdom much earlier.

      Blog-coin? Really not that much considering the hours I put in. But it’s a pleasant pastime, and if it’s helping folks get out of the workforce that makes it that much better. As much as I hate working “for exposure,” the trick, I think, is to build up traffic and reputation with highly-visible guest posts. Content, content, content.

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