One More Month Until the 2012 Investing Challenge Ends!

2012 Investing Challenge updateIt’s the beginning of December. You know what that means: ONE MORE MONTH before my 2012 Investment Challenge comes to an end!

(New readers: The Investing Challenge is our attempt to live on one person’s income while saving 100 percent of the other person’s income.

Check out the 2012 Investing Challenge for details.)

I’m relieved that this will be over. I’m burned out on shoveling my money into investments. I miss traveling and other fun uses of my savings.

Long-time AA readers remember how much I traveled in 2011: four weeks in New York, two weeks in the Caribbean, and trips to California, Colorado, Florida and other favorite spots. I spent half of 2010 in Australia, with a two-week stop in South America. I devoted 2009 and 2008 to touring 17 countries across Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

You’ve also noticed how little I’ve traveled in 2012. My money has entirely gone into rental properties. Once the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s 2013, I can start exploring the world again. Whew!

(Ah, who am I kidding? Rental property is addictive. I’ll still be spending my money accumulating more … )

Despite this burnout, I’m proud of the steps Will and I have taken towards financial freedom. We both maxed out our Roth IRA’s. We paid $30,000 cash to repair two rental units. I sprinkled a few grand into Afford Anything. I paid quarterly taxes, like the good naturalized citizen that I am. (Heh). And I’m sitting on two months of cash.

We Didn’t Do Anything Remarkable. It Was Ordinary.

We’ve also proven to ourselves – and hopefully to the readers who follow us — that we can live on one person’s income while investing the other.

It’s more common than you might think. Plenty of couples live on one income. The median U.S. household has 1.3 income-earners, according to the Census Bureau. In other words, there are more single-income than dual-income households.

Furthermore, the median U.S. household supports 2.5 people with that 1.3-person income. Will and I are two people living on one income; that situation is normal in the U.S.

The only abnormality is that I’m also earning money, I’m just investing 100 percent of it after taxes. If you “pretend” I’m not earning a dime, we’re about on-par with the median American.

Actually, most of our financial details are pretty middle-of-the-road. We live in Atlanta, which has a mid-range cost-of-living. It’s not as cheap as Fort Smith, Arkansas, but it’s not as pricey as Los Altos, California.

We both have bachelor’s degrees from state universities. We both work in ‘normal’ industries, software (him) and editing/writing (me). I’m an immigrant; he can trace his grandparents back to Idaho. I’m self-employed; he has a 9-to-5. Yep, we’re normal Americans. Nothing spectacular.

Frankly, it’s also not hard for us to invest a full person’s income. We live frugally. We drive old cars. We wear bargain clothes. We shaved $13,200 a year off our mortgage payments by renting out the two upstairs bedrooms.

(“Aren’t you too old to live with roommates?,” people ask. Their next question will be, “Aren’t you too young to retire?”)

But we didn’t go crazy with frugal measures. We don’t clip coupons. We eat at nice restaurants. I bought an iPad and I’ve fallen in love with Starbucks.

What’s Next?

But wait – there are still two more months’ worth of income to invest. I’m sitting on most of November’s and all of December’s pay.

I’ve decided to save it towards … drumroll, please! … my quest to buy (another) rental property. Here’s to House #4!

What’s that? You already guessed that’s what I’d do? Oh, you know me so well!

UPDATE 2013: We bought House #4!! Check it out!!


  1. says

    What a wonderful feeling you must be having right now! So, where will your travels take you in 2013? I’m sure you will be spreading your wings again soon! Congrats to you and Will, and I’m looking forward to reading more about your investment properties.

  2. says

    Wow, it’s really already DECEMBER!! I hope next year you enjoy your money a little bit more than this year. I’m trying to do the same thing but it inevitably ends up in my savings account or paying off my truck. I think my 2013 goal will be to SPEND part of my income on myself!

  3. says

    Sounds solid to me! Well done.
    We pretty much do the same thing, though it’s not very explicit. We started using the same main bank account, so it’s less simple to split out, but basically I cover all “operating” expenses while my spouse shovels money into our mortgage at a healthy clip. Spouse also covers the condo fees and car costs. Any surpluses of mine go straight to that pesky mortgage.

  4. says

    We’ve always lived on one income. Not that onerous as long as tastes and expenses are modest. We did a round table with my team at work, and out of eight people, I have the next-to-last oldest vehicles (2001). What a skinflint.

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