The BITAs spent most of September gallivanting around Europe. We visited Lisbon, Amsterdam and Split for a glorious nearly 3 week vacation. We were joined by my sister, brother-in-law and my parents, resulting in an ideal Adult:Toddler ratio of 6:1.
We kicked off our European sojourn in Lisbon, where we spent 4 nights. This was followed by a day and a half in Amsterdam, after which we took ourselves off to Split for 6 days. We spent the rest of our vacation in Amsterdam. The vacation was immensely fun and returning to my cubicle was really hard. When the Monday blues hit (and they hit hard), I clung to my FIRE blanket for comfort and reminded myself that we are lucky to have a limited amount of cubicle time left in our future.
The trip reinforced our belief that Amsterdam is close to the top of our list to be our new home in retirement. Every time we visit I am reminded again of how I felt the very first time I visited: that this could be home. I look forward to being back there again in November.
I’ve dedicated an entire post to what we did in Lisbon and how much it cost us, so I’ll touch on Split a little today. I will probably do an entire post on Split, so consider this a sneak preview. Split is located on the Adriatic coast. It is a gorgeous city, one that deserves a lot more publicity than it gets. Croatia joined the EU in 2013, but has not yet officially adopted the Euro. The local currency is the Kuna (1 Euro = 7.5 Kuna). Some places do accept the Euro (e.g. we paid for our accommodation in Split in Euro) though.
Split is built around the ancient palace of the Emperor Diocletian and we spent many happy hours in the palace. The palace now houses hostels, homes, restaurants, bars, shops and museums and one can spend a very long time in a maze of narrow streets exploring the palace. We also took a trip to a couple of Dalmatian islands and snorkeled in the crystal waters of the Blue Lagoon.
We rented cars and drove out to the Plitvice National Park and spent a day oohing over Plitvice lakes. The system of sixteen cascading lakes ranks amongst the most beautiful natural things I have been fortunate enough to lay my eyes on. The water is crystal clear and every shade of blue and green that you can imagine. We explored the park via bus, boat and on foot – we walked over 6 miles that day. The park is not particularly stroller friendly, and I would estimate that Toddler BITA walked about 4.5 miles that day without complaint on her tiny little legs. The rest of the way the adults took turns carrying her. She is really quite the veteran traveler!
There is only one thing better than being on a fabulously fun vacation and that is being on a fabulously fun vacation when you are both employed at high-paying jobs, it is a 5 paycheck month, and the markets are simply exuberant. We made money hand over fist while we stuffed our faces with pastel de nata in Lisbon and snorkeled in Split.
Adding Cash to the Financial Independence Stash
This month we added $24,146.80 to our Stash.
- The pre-tax portion of Mr. BITA’s 401k was maxed out in January, and I hit my contribution limit in July. Mr. BITA’s company gave him his full company match in January, and last month I received the last of my company match. For the rest of 2017 both our 401ks are in growth-only mode.
- As is usual, we pushed more cash into Mr. BITA’s mega backdoor Roth via paycheck deductions. This month we hit the $54,000 limit ($18,000 pre-tax + $9,000 company match + $27,000 after-tax) for so for 2017, the mega backdoor is now closed.
- We made our next installment of estimated payments to the IRS this month. We will make a final payment in December of this year.
Market growth very nearly matched our contributions this month. Our investments grew by a very satisfying $21,196.31 in September.
Here is what truly boggles my mind. Our new investments plus growth in September totalled $45,343.11 and yet September was only our 4th best month, financially speaking, of 2017!
The Financial Independence Plan vs. Reality
YTD we have saved and invested: $248,820.66.
YTD market growth: $140,296.16
Another way of looking at our savings rate is that YTD we have saved at the rate of 63 cents per minute.
I am really looking forward to rounding the quarter million mark for the year next month.
As usual, I’ll end this monthly update with our Stairway to Heaven.
1186 days to go!
Financial independence status: Ahead of the plan.