Early Retirement September
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September Update – First Month of Early Retirement

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We’ve both officially passed the first month of early retirement, and we haven’t gone broke yet! That’s a win in our book. It’s been a month full of traveling, to FinCon in Washington D.C. and immediately afterward overseas to Cyprus. The month has been a rapid transition from hustle and bustle in the states to slower island life in the Mediterranean. This article is the first of what I hope will be many monthly updates in our ‘retirement’. We will cover spending, & income, and let those two categories tell the story of our month.



The last of our paychecks trickled in from back when we were peasants and were trading time for money. $2,993.06 rolled in from Emily’s previous employer. On top of that, I racked up an additional $3,070.60 from my previous employer. This made taking a ‘leave of absence’ feel much better than outright quitting even though I was tempted a few times. Had I quit, I wouldn’t have received any of that money because it was all vacation time that the company doesn’t payout. We won’t receive this anymore since we’ve surpassed our first month of early retirement, but it was a nice influx to make up for our heavy spending this month.

We’ve had a small amount of income from other ‘work’. One day toward the end of the month I had a little time on my hands so I wrote a workout program to sell online. We’ve banked $9 off a Fiverr sale and sold one directly to another customer on the Instagrams. Don’t want to push it too hard because the early retirement police will come after me. Especially if I’ve already started working in my first full month of early retirement

Work Total = $6,072.66


Here’s where all our retirement money comes in. I’ll list the property next to the amount that it’s bringing in. This will be gross, as we have the mortgages and expenses to account for in our spending category.

Rental Income
Duplex 1 $725
Condo $1,078.89
House & Apartment $1,085
Duplex 2 $1,100
Duplex 3 $1,100
Townhouse $1,000
Total $6,088.89

We’ve got one particular property on this list that needs the rent raised. However, the tenants are good, and we would rather keep them since it’s a C class neighborhood. The house and apartment rent will be higher in the future, as this month was pro-rated rent for the apartment as the tenant moved in a couple of weeks after we moved out. Additionally, we have raised the price on the condo Airbnb, and already have someone booked for the entire month of October.


To prepare for our move abroad in our first month of early retirement, Emily sold off half her closet and got a whopping $15.43 from PoshMark. Selling clothes online is the only bullshit ‘moneymaker’ worse than Bitcoin or cryptocurrency. We also had $50.26 in interest from money sitting in an Ally account. This was before they announced yet another rate drop. It’s tempting us to start chasing bank sign-up bonuses. We aren’t sure if it’s worth the trouble but if anyone wants to weigh in, we’d love your input!

Total Misc: $65.69

Total Income: $12,227.24

Check out below to see if we spent more or less than this in our first month of early retirement!



Now we get into the fun part. How much did our trip to D.C. cost us? How much was the trip to Cyprus? Are we house poor from all the rentals? Was our first month of early retirement our last month of retirement? Well, let’s dive in and find out.


Our flights to FinCon were paid for with points and were booked a few months ago, so the small amount of spending had already taken place and doesn’t get counted in this month. Sorry, but we’ve got to start somewhere. However, we weren’t as efficient with our packing, so we ended up paying $60 to check two bags and an additional $100 for over-sized luggage on our flight to D.C. like a couple of fucking rookies. We wanted to repack the suitcase, but there were people behind us. Normally, that wouldn’t matter, but it was a hectic morning of making sure our place was AirBNB ready and we just wanted to sit and catch our breath at the terminal. All this to say that we had $160 in baggage fees, and $100 of that was avoidable.

Getting Around

Since I decided to drag my e-bike to Europe with us, we had to splurge for Uber/Lyft XL’s. We tried to get away without them, but we had to cancel our first 4 Lyft drivers. Turns out there’s very little chance of fitting a bike, three adults, and three bags into a Toyota Corolla. They just aren’t as comfortable strapping items to the top of their car as we are in Alabama. We had a hotel change while we were in D.C. and Emily and I decided to walk the 0.7 miles with the bike, and then come back for a second trip with the bags. It was a fun endeavor and we got to get in some unorthodox exercise. Anyway, our ride-shares totaled out at $75.02

First month early retirement
Walking the bike from one hotel to another.

We had a couple days in D.C. before and after FinCon, and ended up meeting up with some other FIRE bloggers for a day of sightseeing. These bloggers included: Military Dollar, Erin from Reaching for FIYoung FIRE Knight, MK Williams and her hilarious husband, Gwen from Fiery MillennialsJosh Overmyer, Mr. Refined by FIRE, and Liz from Kitchen Table Finances. We also went out for drinks with the assholes from Countdown to FI one night. We met up with them again and had dinner with The Happy Frugals. For all these trips, we used the local bike share and spent a total of $24 on bike shares. Some of the best money we spent this month.


To wrap up the ‘travel’ expenses, we are going to roll gas into this category. We filled up the ol’ beater Camry before we passed it off to my mom for her to use while we are out of the country. I told her to not let driving such a nice car get to her head, but I’m not sure anyone can stay humble behind the wheel of a luxury automobile like that. We also filled up our car in Cyprus. Emily’s grandfather no longer drives and his car is just sitting here, so they were kind enough to let us drive it. However, since gas is $4.58 a gallon here, we are using our shit stompers to get most places. We did have to fill up once, though, so we spent $94.83 on fuel this month.

Total Travel: $353.85


We crashed a few airport lounges on our way to FinCon in D.C. thanks to our Chase Sapphire Reserve card getting us Priority Pass lounge access. But, the lounge in Chicago was only in the international terminal so, instead of starving, we wasted a whopping $14.45 on a hell of a lunch. A smoothie and a banana. After that though, we hit the restaurant in Cleveland in place of a lounge and got away with $52 worth of food for free!

Once in D.C., we hit the free hotel breakfast hard. We’re talking Patrick Swayze in Point Break hard. Our lunches on our days of sightseeing consisted of free peanut butter sandwiches and fresh fruit scavenged from the hotel. We also used a Visa gift card from some friends to pay for our drinks when we went out a couple of times. so $0 spent in the days before FinCon.

FinCon was great for our freeganism. We received free meal after free meal. Our good friend Justin, from Saving Sherpa hooked us up with lounge access at the Hilton. They offered free breakfast daily, coffee and cold water all day, and even hors d’oeuvres in the evenings. The hors d’oeuvres were our fall-back plan because FinCon had a ton of meet-ups and events hosted by brands. These events usually have free food, and even free drinks. We were living high on the hog going out every night to these great bars and restaurants. All for free. We did go out to the liquor store and pick up some White Claws for Emily, and some beer for myself. Late-night embellishments if you will. So total spending for 10 days in D.C. racked up to $27.

First month early retirement
One of the many free drinks and plates of food that we got during FinCon.

Flying from D.C. to Cyprus was another opportunity for us to crash some lounges and stuff ourselves with some free food.

Our nice run of free food ended once we got to Cyprus though. We spent $143.44 on groceries, which is high for us in what was essentially three weeks in Cyprus. However, there were a ton of new foods that we don’t have in the states, and we haven’t had an opportunity to price compare as much, so this should see improvement.

We also spent $84 on meals and coffees at cafes and restaurants.

Total Food: $268.89

Health & Fitness

We prioritize our health and wellness, and unfortunately, it’s going to show on our spending.

Shipping the e-bike battery wasn’t cheap, and we ended up paying $144.80 to get it to Cyprus. But, we didn’t have to pay anything for the bike since it was my checked bag on the flights. $144.80 is much less than I would’ve lost trying to sell the bike on the used market and then buying another bike here in Cyprus.

We also had a bill come in for my first visit to the walk-in clinic ever. It was back in March, but it took this long for the bill to come through. $126.50 is what I was charged for 5 min of their time to write me a prescription that I asked for. Oh well. Additionally, we had $26.97 in supplements, vitamins, and other misc health items.

Finally, we have our gym memberships. We went and shopped around to a few gyms here in Cyprus. We also put it off for a couple of weeks by walking 30 min down to the beach where they have free ‘exercise’ equipment. However, that got old, and we were ready to workout. So, we signed up for a 6-month membership and paid upfront. The cheapest option we had was also the closest and biggest gym we found. It came out to $43.93 a month apiece. A total of $527.16 for 1.5-2 hours of entertainment and exercise daily for 6 months. It’s much more than we were paying back home, actually almost double, but it’s still something that we enjoy and spend on without many reservations.

First month early retirement
Beachside workout before we splurged on a gym membership.

Total Health & Fitness: $825.44


Now that all our places are rented out in the States, we’re becoming a little more nomadic. We are currently spending time and money on renovating Emily’s grandparent’s apartment, which is our way of paying rent. This won’t be the case forever though as we are looking forward to more travels in Europe which will inevitably cost something. Anyway, here’s a breakdown of the mortgages and housing expenses from the rentals.

Rental Mortgage Expenses
Duplex 1 $393.03 $0.00
Condo $318.66 $434.42
House & Apartment $581.53 $192.06
Duplex 2 $350.26 $275.00
Duplex 3 $362.97 $584.00
Townhouse $577.24 $172.00
Total $4,241.17

We had some additional expenses during our first month of early retirement from turning our long term rental into an Airbnb. We also had to pay a start-up fee for pest control services that we won’t have in the future. Also, we cover lawn-care for two of the duplexes, and we are getting into the cooler season so that expense should be winding down as well. There were a couple of maintenance issues, but these things happen, and that’s why we have a sufficient fund for all the properties, and why we set back 10% for vacancies and 10% for repairs every month.

Our other expenses in housing are $310.26 and those are from renovating the apartment. Buying tools, paint, cleaning supplies, renting a dumpster, etc. Those expenses are something that we expected and we have a specific amount set aside for these, but we still want to include them in our expenses.

Housing Expenses: $4551.43

Misc Expenses

We have a few misc expenses including our $40.54 phone bill from Sprint for the two of us that are working great overseas. We use it for Google Maps, texting, and the occasional call if it’s really important. At 20¢ a minute, it feels like we are throwing money away. If possible we use FaceTime and Facebook calls. We had to pay $111.10 in fees for Emily to get her Cyprus Passport and ID. Additionally, there was $8.73 in fees for withdrawing money from the ATM and paying for bills online with a credit card. USPS charged us $2.10 to change our address. Finally, we went ahead and bought tickets for FinCon 2020. As a result, that was another $200 that we spent on ‘entertainment’. Luckily, the walks to the beach are free as are exploring around town, and that’s been a majority of our ‘entertainment’ this month.

Total Misc Expenses: $321.93

Total Expenses: $6,321.54

Overall, we had a high month of spending for our first month of early retirement. We fully expected this during our traveling and getting started in Cyprus. We can easily cut back spending in the travel and food categories. Additionally, the gym membership is a one time expense, at least for 6 months. The apartment is coming right along, so hopefully, we won’t have to continue to put too much into it month after month.

Income – Expenses = $5,905.70 in positive cash-flow this month.



  • JazzandLee

    So you guys are netting around $1,800/mo on your properties? Would appreciate seeing your rental expenses broken out to understand what is what (fixed operating costs vs. maintenance, etc.)

    • James

      Hey Jazz & Lee! We usually net around $2,300 a month, but that ebbs and flows a little. We will have to knock out a post that breaks down the expense side of the rentals.

  • Ryan @ Free Before Friday

    What’s the number for the retirement police? 1-800-IAM-ENVY? Awesome first month! How long are you planning to stay in Cyprus for? How is the climate?

    Also all the work for low profit from selling clothing on poshmark or ebay, might as well donate! I can’t believe people claim to have a poshmark business. Seems very tough!

    • James

      We are in Cyprus until late November. From here we are planning a month or two around Europe and then coming back until April when we will head back to the states for a wedding. Climate is great so far! We are looking at going to a water park sometime next week, haha!

      Agreed on reselling clothes. It’s definitely a quantity ‘business’ since the margins are so slim. You’d have to sell 100 items to make $100 and that’s just not worth it to us.

  • Young FIRE Knight

    Was great seeing you again at FinCon after Camp FI! Glad to hear things are going well across the pond and you’re both adjusting to a new lifestyle. Saw the Ally rate drop again and was thinking the same thing. Sucks they keep dropping but I feel like most banks are gonna be doing the same thing. And is it really worth it to switch for 0.1-0.2%? Gonna continue to monitor that one but we’ll see.

    • James

      It was good seeing you again as well. I don’t care what Erin says about you, you aren’t half bad! We agree on the effort vs reward of chasing interest rates. The only way that I could see taking money out of Ally is if we start chasing sign-up bonuses for opening accounts and try to get double digit returns. It’s a little more time intensive than I’m really interested in, but since we have the free time and I’m not doing anything else productive I might give it a try. We will have to see…

  • Stop Ironing Shirts

    Enjoyed the update and the signup bonuses are worth it. I tend to follow Doctor of Credit and am churning 1-2 savings account bonuses at any given time. The ones that only require $10,000 to $20,000 tend to be better but occasionally I’ve found a $500 for $50,000 and three months.

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