Jan 1, 2020, Welcome to the New Year!

January 1, 2020

We woke to another beautiful, warm day.  We slept late, did schoolwork and generally hung around Rover all day.  One special thing we did was we went over our finances.  Every January 1, we go over all of our assets and figure out how much money we have and our net worth.  This year it was much easier and more precise since all the real estate was gone and all we had were stocks and cash which I could value precisely. 

We found that in 2019 our assets grew about 7.8% which significantly lagged the S&P 500 growth of about 28% even though a large portion of our money is invested in S&P 500 funds. This was due in large part because we had a lot of our money in real estate which did not have anywhere near that much return and even now we are at about 70% stocks (mostly S&P 500 index funds) and 30% cash (all in money market funds) which are earning just 1.7%.  However should there be a significant correction in the stock market we would invest most of that cash and go to about 90% stocks and 10% cash. This would be a highly, highly, aggressive investment strategy but I am comfortable with it due to the particular circumstances of the amount of assets we have, our age, our anticipated expenses and our general situation.  Our returns are also lower since I aggressively depreciated our motorhome, Rover and we were retired for the last 2.5 months of 2019 we did not earn any money.

Speaking of spending money, we way overspent our budget of $2,500 a month.  We spent over $13,000 since we left Sacramento making our monthly expense of about $5,000 a month.  However, there were a lot of one time costs in these first months, including $2,500 paid up front for a year of international health insurance, $700 for six month’s Mexican car insurance, over $3,000 of upgrades and spare parts purchased for Rover.  Break those out or spread them out and we didn’t go over budget by that much.  We also did a few expensive activities such as the Dune Buggy at Pismo Beach and of course Disneyland plus we made a few luxury purchases such as the camera equipment.  Really, $5,000 a month is pretty good for vacationing around the US.  I know people who spend $5,000 for a week’s vacation.   I had anticipated that the first few months of travel would be more expensive and expect that our 2020 expenses will come close to our $2,500 budget for a total of $30,000 a year.  Although I have budgeted $30,000 a year, I believe that we could safely spend $40,000 so we have a decent buffer in the likely chance of unexpected expenses.

Our review of our finances done we decided to be adventurous and to into town after dinner.  We wanted to see the various lights and lighted Christmas decorations.  We figured if we left around 6:30 we could walk around a couple hours and catch the last bus at 9:00.  We felt kind of bad about missing out on the New Year’s Eve Festivities but would have been a nightmare trying to get home.  By going early we can see the lights but have a much better chance of getting home without the excitement.

It was dark by the time we got to the side of the road outside the hotel and we realized that it would be difficult to see the bus among all the traffic headlights.  The buses were running a modified schedule so we had to wait a good half an hour before a bus came by but one did arrive just before we gave up. 

At night the church and the main square were beautifully lighted up.
The streets were strung for Christmas lights.

The town had strung lights between buildings and through the trees and it was very pretty.  Also while there were still a lot of people it around it was not excessive.  We wandered around enjoying the sights and stopped at a street vendor serving some sort of fried tortilla dipped in sugar syrup  called Bunuelos and a thick drink called Atole for 35 pesos.  Holly and Olivia did not like them but they were OK to me.  Holly went next door to a taco stand and found a spicy taco for 27 pesos that she really liked and Olivia got a scoop of chocolate ice cream for 20 pesos that was kind of strange and she did not like but ate it anyway.

This time we were smarted and noted where the bus had dropped us off and got back to the street.  I hailed a passing taxi to see how much they charge and the guy first wanted 200 pesos and dropped it to 150 pesos when I declined to be gouged.  Instead we waited a few minutes and were able to catch a bus back for 24 pesos.  While on the bus I met a Mexican who spoke English and who told me that it was 8 pesos for adults but only 2.5 pesos for kids so I had been overpaying by 4.5 pesos for each ride.  Well paying an extra 25 cents isn’t a big deal especially since I saved $10 from avoiding the crooked taxi driver.  In short order we got back to Rover and turned in for the night.






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