- Michael Quan retired from the IT consulting company he founded, and later sold, at age 36.
- Quan lives in San Diego, California, with his wife, who is a school teacher, and two children. Their current net worth is over $US2 million.
- In his spare time, Quan manages a personal-finance blog,Financially Alert, and a Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) business. They also earn passive income from real-estate investments.
- For Business Insider’s “Real Money” series, Quan tracked his family’s spending during a typical week. T hey spent about $US925 on groceries, meals out, bills, and a church donation.
- Want to share a week of your spending? Email [email protected].
It’s been six years now since I retired at 36. Early in my career, I started and operated an IT consulting company in San Diego, California. After ten years of growing the business, my partners and I sold it to a larger company with a nationwide reach. I exited the merged company a year and a half later.
After retiring, I stayed home with my young daughter who was a year old at the time. We welcomed our son just a year later and I fully embraced life as a stay-at-home dad.
In my spare time, I started a blog, FinanciallyAlert.com, about financial independence and early retirement (aka FIRE) to discuss the various paths – saving/investing, entrepreneurship, and real-estate investing – to reach it. I also became a financial coach because I love helping to empower people with their money and mindset. In between all of this, I kept investing in real estate and started an Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) business.
My wife is a high school teacher and earns $US101,773 per year, before taxes. She has a masters degree and is maxed out on professional development credits. We earn an additional $US1,816 per month in passive income from real-estate investments, and $US1,197 per month in dividends and interest. I also earn $US1,929 per month from the blog, Amazon FBA business, and financial coaching.
We currently have a net worth of $US2.13 million and most of this is in the form of real-estate equity (65%). The remainder is a combination of stocks, bonds, and cash (35%).
I track and share our personal finances on my blog because numbers like net worth and cash flow are important metrics to master. I believe that you should know how to calculate your net worth, but you should never value your self worth by it.
We typically spend about $US7,200 a month, or $US86,400 annually. Here’s a closer look:
Our largest expense is our mortgage, which includes the principal, interest, taxes, and insurance.
Our second largest expense is food. A lot of this is discretionary eating out, so we feel we could always pull these expenses back if needed. However, we enjoy eating out, and I like not having to do the dishes. We do try to target good deals, especially Kids Eat Free specials.
The miscellaneous category is also highly discretionary. For example, I love tech gadgets and have been known to buy a “toy” occasionally. This past month I purchased some wireless Bose noise-cancelling headphones. My wife, however, is more frugal than I am and rarely purchases high-end items because that’s not what makes her happy, per se. She’d much rather spend money on an experience versus a product.
Healthcare and medical costs are $US813 a month for our family of four. This is much more expensive compared to a few years ago. There was even a time when we had full coverage with little to no out-of-pocket expense. Nevertheless, our costs are comparatively cheap for the coverage we get. We are all relatively healthy so we have chosen the lower-mid HMO plan that my wife’s school district offers.
My wife has low commuting costs because she works less than a mile away. This was a strategic decision when moving into the area (South San Diego County). Housing prices in this area are also considerably less than comparable homes in the mid and north county of San Diego. This advantage is offset a little because I tend to drive more (sometimes in search of good food!). We both own our cars outright, so there are no monthly payments to deal with.
Although we are still saving money every year, our overall savings rate has plummeted in comparison to when I was working full-time. We used to save 50% to 65% of our income during the asset-building years versus the 10% to 15% we save currently. We are OK with a lower savings rate now because we feel that we have built a comfortable baseline of assets.
We spent about $US925 this week.
Now that my son has started kindergarten I suddenly have 25-plus hours a week to myself again. I am spending this time growing the blog, volunteering in the kids’ classrooms, and sneaking in a few extra fishing trips.
My ultimate goal is to help others find their own path to FI (financial independence) so they can share their talents with the world free from financial constraints. It all begins with the right mindset and knowing that you can make your money work for you.
Here’s how we spent our money during a recent week:
On Monday I drove to Los Angeles for an Amazon Seller’s Conference.
Monday was pretty quiet. I was primarily packing for an upcoming two-day Amazon Seller’s Conference in Los Angeles that started on Tuesday. I grabbed a Beyond Burger from Carl’s Jr. for lunch.
For dinner, I ate leftovers and then immediately drove up to LA to pick up my cousin, Darren, from the Long Beach Airport. After picking him up, I refilled my tank at Costco Gas and then got a tea nearby.
We stayed overnight that evening at his friend’s house in Manhattan Beach. Cost: $US0.
While I was driving up to LA, my wife took Grandma and the kids out to dinner. Grandma had been staying with us the past couple of weeks as she was helping me out with the kids during my recent travels.
I spent Tuesday at the conference, where most of the food was included.
Our Amazon Seller’s Conference kicked off early at 8 a.m. and was located at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. Wow, it was a gorgeous property!
We had each paid $US279 to attend this two-day event, but the payment was due six months prior. It promised to be an informative event to help Amazon FBA sellers to best compete in the continually growing Amazon marketplace.
Both breakfast and lunch were included this day, in addition to an open bar during happy hour. I was seriously surprised by how good the food selection was. They had something for everyone … even the vegans!
We decided not to stay at the resort ourselves and headed over to a basic two-star inn. It was no-frills, but certainly cost-effective at $US179 a night (I paid about $US73 for my portion) compared to the $US450-a-night price tag at the Terranea Resort.
As self-proclaimed foodies (it runs in our blood), we scoured the neighbourhood for the most promising dinner options. We settled on Taishi Hainan Chicken and shared a few different menu items. We rounded out the evening with another tea.
Meanwhile, back at home, my wife did a little grocery shopping at Vons. We also had an auto-charge from Google Music for cloud storage.
On Wednesday we headed back to the resort to continue the conference and I stopped by Vons on my drive back to San Diego.
Again the food was excellent and our $US279 conference ticket seemed like a stellar value for all the content plus the great food.
The conference ended in the afternoon. While picking up my car from the valet, we learned that there was a free parking lot (not advertised at all) on the property. Oh well, the $US15 + a $US3 gratuity was fine.
On my way out I stopped to grab dinner with a good friend of mine. She insisted on treating me this time, so I had a tasty Italian meal for $US0. On our way out, we decided to stop by a gelato shop and I picked this one up.
I then headed back home to San Diego. However, I needed a quick restroom break and stopped by Vons. While I was there I noticed the Bare Naked Granola I like eating was on sale, so I picked up a few bags.
Meanwhile back at home, my wife picked up some groceries of her own and picked up dinner at Luna Grill.
We also had our cell phone bill charge automatically this day.
On Thursday we ate lunch and dinner out, and my son earned his yellow belt in Taekwondo.
It’s always nice to return home after travelling. I thanked Grandma and my wife for helping to cover the kids while I was gone.
For lunch, I took Grandma to Panera Bread and we shared a whole salad and whole sandwich.
We had two more automatic charges show up for trash services and Google’s cloud service.
After school pick-up, we took my son to Taekwondo class where he successfully tested and crossed over into a new yellow belt. He was quite proud to receive this, as you can see. I, on the other hand, was out $US40 for the new belt and ceremony. Kidding aside, we’ve found martial arts to be a great way to learn respect, channel energy, and build confidence.
For dinner, we stopped by Blaze Pizza and shared a few custom pizzas between all of us (Grandma included).
On Friday we shopped at Costco and had In-N-Out for dinner.
We did a quick Costco run while the kids were in school. Grandma wanted a few items while she was visiting, and we also bought a bunch of things to BBQ on Saturday.
After school pick-up, we got a quick treat from McDonald’s. We got two hot fudge sundaes and shared them. The kids were excited because McDonald’s finally opened a location nearby, and we didn’t need to drive out 10 minutes like we used to do.
For dinner, my wife and the kids wanted In-N-Out. While it sounded good, I decided to get fish tacos at the shop next door, Los Ponchos, as I am trying to limit my meat consumption.
Saturday was full of leftovers before I went out for a drink in the evening.
Saturday is usually one of our most expensive days, but today we only spent $US10 in total.
The main reason we didn’t spend money was that we already had a lot of leftovers to eat for lunch. In the evening, we BBQ’d some shrimp, carne asada, chicken apple sausages, zucchini, and mushrooms.
I did grab a drink from Happy Lemon that evening as I was looking for a sweet treat and it’s brand new in our area.
On Sunday, we made a midnight run to Walmart and attended church.
Our purchasing began early Sunday morning. After the kids went down Saturday night, we realised we needed to get some items from Walmart before the following week. Since we still had Grandma to help us out, we went on a late-night Walmart run because we could.
We purchased miscellaneous things like mouthwash, dental picks, over-the-counter medication, and a birthday gift for my son’s friend. We returned home at 12:40 a.m., washed up, and got ready for bed.
The next morning we slept in a bit longer. However, we still woke up early enough to attend church at 10:30 am. We donated $US30 during the service itself, and the kids lit candles afterward in memory of our dearly departed family members and friends. We let the kids donate a dollar each when lighting the candle. We want to instill a habit of giving while they are still young.
After church, we stopped by the library to drop off the kids’ old books and to pick up several new ones. We ate leftovers for both lunch and dinner since there was so much extra from the BBQ the other day.
- Read more from our Real Money series:
- I’m a money coach and mum of 2 who’s paying off $US179,000 of debt by 40. Here’s what my family spends during a typical week.
- My wife and I are saving half of our $US160,000 income so we can leave our corporate jobs in 5 years. Here’s what we spend in a typical week.
- My husband and I live in Seattle and save almost half our income so we don’t have to work by 40. Here’s what we spend in a typical week.
- I retired at 52 with a $US3 million net worth – here’s what a week of my spending looks like
- More savings and retirement coverage
- How to retire early
- How to save more money
- Are CDs a good investment?
- When to save money in high-yield savings
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