August Wrap-Up

Welcome to the August edition of The Smart FI Wrap-Up.

This is a behind the scenes look into my blog, a chance to see what the site has accomplished in the past month and a chance for me to share with you, the progress our family is making as we march towards financial independence.

If this is your first time to and you are not familiar with our story, click here to read all the details of how we try to save 50% of our income in an attempt to reach financial independence.

Relax It’s August

August is my month to relax. I usually take a couple weeks off from work for fishing and camping. Coincidentally, the stock market usually takes the summer off as well. But not this year!

As stock brokers and traders take their summer vacations trading volume and volatility drops. This summer, the stock market did not take a break and the grind higher continued for the stock market.  The August return for the S&P 500 was +2.6%.

The graph below illustrates the power of your investments. While I was off enjoying my summer, the stock market was diligently building wealth for me.

3-month chart of the S&P 500

The Smart Fi Traffic had 767 page views in August. This was a month monthly decrease of 127 page views from July. Word on the street is that blogging traffic tends to dip in the summer.

With increased outdoor activities and nicer weather, people are just not as interested in reading about what I have to say regarding personal finance. I get it.

I have anticipated that traffic will fluctuate up and down throughout the year. I plan to continue writing blog posts that I think will help solve financial problems for readers.

While this monthly report feeds the nerdy, numbers, side of my brain, I really don’t get too concerned with page views or income from my blog.

Top August posts

Did you miss my top posts in August? These were my most popular posts in order.

  1. Saving Me From Myself With DCA
  2. A Tale Of Two Camping Trips: Frugal And Free
  3. What Running Every Day in July Taught Me About Myself And My Finances


Twitter And Instagram

  • Current Twitter followers 1,505. Follow me on twitter here. 
  • You can also follow me on Instagram here, where I post to my 790 followers about food, running, and family.

Income Report

In August I made a whopping $3.10 from Google Adsense. This is about half of what I would earn in a normal month. As my pageviews declined in August, so did my Adsense income. Oh well! No crying over spilled milk, I had a great summer.

My one income goal for this blog in 2018 is to earn enough to cover the cost of keeping the website operating into 2019.


Buy nothing challenge

Back in May, I was featured in an interview on the blog Count Down to Tranquility. In the interview, I detailed my progress in the 2018 Buy Nothing Challenge. You can read my Count Down to Tranquility interview by clicking here.

I have been able to successfully maintain my Buy Nothing Challenge through the summer. I have a soft spot for new camping equipment and fishing gear, both hobbies I enjoy in the summer. I was a bit anxious heading into the summer months, wondering if I could maintain my buy nothing mentality.

I am here to report, I pulled it off! I could have used a new camping stove or some new fishing gear but I forced myself to make the old camp stove work and to scrounge through old fishing gear for my Summer Steelhead pursuits.

I love this challenge because it forces me to be content with what I already have. Anyone can benefit from a mental exercise like this, even if only for a month-long challenge. I am a simple guy by nature but this challenge has forced me to a new level and I love it.

5 million Step Challenge

We are over the halfway mark in the 5 million step challenge hosted by the blog

I am fond of this challenge as well. This step challenge forces me to pay attention to my health and fitness level while pushing forward on my path to financial independence.

I limped into the end of the month with 503,080 steps for August. I had to really push it towards the end of the month. With four days left to go in August, I was 100,000 steps short of the 500,000 step goal.  I had two back to back 30,000 step days, running in the beautiful forests of the Pacific Northwest


Cumulatively through August 31st, I have 3,593,549 steps. This puts me on pace to hit the 5 million steps goal but there will be no room for slacking.

I was able to complete a summer hat trick and rack up 500,000 steps in each of the summer months (June, July, August).

2018 Financial Goals Reviewed

January first, I laid out my lofty financial goals for  2018. Here they are:

  1. Max out both Mrs. Smartfi’s  and my  401 k’s = $37,000*
  2. Max out both Mrs. Smartfi’s and my Roth IRA = $11,000
  3. Max out family HSA = $6900**
  4. Contribute $10,000 to taxable brokerage account at Vanguard for my hybrid mortgage payoff plan.
  5. Add $300 dollars per month to the mortgage payment. This gets me to $20,000 of mortgage principle pay down per year. Current mortgage balance $227,500.

* 401k and 403b contribution limit increased $500 for 2018 to $18,500 in 2018.

** HSA limit increased $150 for 2018 to $6900 for a family for 2018.

Let’s add this up

37,000 + 11,000 + 6,850 + 10,000 + 3,600 = $68,450 savings/investments in 2018

In August this is where I allocated our family’s capital:

  • $1,553 to 403b’s
  • $846.12 to Roth IRA’s
  • $440 to HSA
  • $1337 to taxable brokerage accounts
  • $1,659.90 paid towards mortgage principal
 August ContributionRunning 2018 Total Contribution2018 Goal
Roth IRA's
Vanguard Taxable account
Mortgage principal$1,659.90$16,544.75$20,000
monthly savings rate (%)43%

Investments I Purchased In August

This is a new section in the monthly wrap-up post. I want to provide a transparent view of where I put my taxable investments to work. Occasionally I buy individual stocks but I mostly purchase low-cost index funds in my brokerage accounts. In the future, I plan to share my entire taxable portfolio with you, but that is for another post.




Vanguard– VTSAX, and VTI

I have an automatic purchase of VTSAX(Vanguard Total Stock Market Index) set up with each payday. Two times per month Vanguard automatically purchases $150 of VTSAX. This amount is increased every time my wife or I get a raise. This is a life hack anyone can use to combat lifestyle inflation.

I manually purchase shares of VTI which is the ETF(exchange-traded fund) cousin of VTSAX. I made two purchases of VTI at various points in August when I either had money available or saw something close to a 1% decline in the S&P 500. Either one of those situations is enough to tempt me into purchasing a couple shares.

Fidelity– FZROX

In August, Fidelity announced a new zero cost index fund (FZROX). Yes, I said zero cost. As a comparison, VTSAX charges a 0.04% expense ratio. This means for every $10,000 invested in VTSAX, Vanguard will take $4 as a fee. FZROX, on the other hand, will not take any money in fees.

While $4 is hardly enough to get excited about, this was enough to lure me into opening a Fidelity account and buying a few shares of FZROX.

I did not purchase any individual stocks in August.

I did purchase some shares of individual stock in September, so keep your eyes peeled for the September Wrap Up where I will detail the reasons behind the two different companies I purchased.


August is in the books but summer is still in full swing here at The Smart Fi Ranch due to a teacher strike. My mind is confused because while the leaves and weather begin to change, my children are still home ravaging the cupboards and staying up too late.

We accidentally took them grocery shopping the other day, a task we usually reserve for a time while they’re in school. That mistake added a solid $30 to the grocery bill. Maybe by the September Wrap-Up life will be back to normal here and we can crush some more finacial goals.





6 thoughts on “August Wrap-Up

    1. Thanks, Freedom 40 Plan, I have been trying to get that savings rate to 50% all year, but alas, August was not the month. All things considered, I’m still happy with 43%. My plan is to continue to add all raises to my automatic monthly savings. Eventually, I should be able to cross the 50% savings barrier that remains so elusive.

  1. My traffic has dipped a bit in the summer as well, but well more than last summer unsurprisingly 😉 And since I only got my Fitbit partway through the year, I’m going to have to cobble together my overall step count for the year. Onto another 500k step month in September!

    1. I think we can agree on the 500k step mark being the new set point. I find that number is just the right amount of steps each month to make me dig deep. I see that I’m already behind for September. Yikes😬

  2. Thanks for sharing your August wrap-up, Mr. Smart FI. I always enjoy reading these type of reports. I have noticed that it is harder to generate traffic during the summer. Overall you’re doing great though. Nice numbers for Twitter and Pinterest. Looking forward to future reports.

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