Earlier this week I walked out the kitchen door and down the sidewalk destined for the neighborhood Food Lion grocery store. It’s a quick five minute walk to the shopping center and proves uneventful on most trips.
This day was a little different for a number of reasons. Half a block away from home, I bumped into a new neighbor. We started chatting about the neighborhood, the fancy downtown magnet school both of our children attend, and his most recent acquisition: oboe reeds. This guy had a different vibe than many other neighbors that moved here over the past several years. He’s completely white and fluent in English for starters. Solidly middle class. After doing some cybersleuthing later in the day, I realized he paid about 50% more for his house than what his neighbors did a few years earlier.
We shake hands and part ways after exchanging contact info to stay in touch (we’re neighborly like that down here in the South). I proceed to the grocery store in no particular rush (I’m retired after all). I enter the shopping center through the short cut by the dumpsters. And lo and behold there’s a homeless looking gentleman laid out on the sidewalk in the sun chugging a half gallon jug of whole milk. Not my first choice of mid-day beverage, but it was warm that day so I guess 64 fluid ounces of ice cold milk hit the spot, right?
I can’t believe September is already over! Our oldest two kids are settling into the back to school routine (with a few hiccups along the way) while our youngest starts one day per week pre-school next week. Fall usually brings cooler, dryer weather to North Carolina but this year summer decided to overstay its welcome by keeping the warm, humid air around much longer than normal.
September was another great month for us financially. Our income remained strong at $5,695 while our spending remained below budget at $2,781. Net worth increased by $12,000 to $1,647,000.
One of the top questions I’m asked when people see “retired at 33 with 3 kids” is “yeah, but what about college?”. The truth is I never really gave it a lot of thought because the total cost is well into the future (though closing in fast for our oldest kid) and not huge relative to our total net worth. I had a very vague goal of being able to cover the tuition and fees for four years of in-state tuition for all three kids.
We funneled some cash into 529 accounts when North Carolina offered a tax credit for doing so. We earned a $350 tax credit for contributing $5,000 per year to the 529. When that tax credit was eliminated, I stopped contributing to the 529s and stopped thinking about college funding. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for college is no biggie when you have a million or two, right?
It turns out my lazy attitude toward college funding won’t spell disaster for my children’s higher education future. Between what we have saved in 529s, our large investment portfolio, and a plethora of other funding sources, the kids will be perfectly fine when the college tuition bills start piling up. You’ll have to read on to find out why I’m so confident (or is it cocky?).
Now that August is over, we are officially in the last third of the year! It’s hard to believe the year is already winding down. August was a decent month financially. Our net worth crept up another $2,000 to $1,635,000. Income totaled $5,191 while expenses were $2,817 for the month.
After spending the last half of July and the first part of August on our three and a half week road trip to Canada, we returned home in mid-August to a flurry of activity to get the kids ready for school. That meant buying school supplies (including a brand new fancy pants TI-84 CE color graphing calculator) and attending two back to school orientations. Our oldest daughter just entered middle school so now we have twice as many PTA meetings and school events to fit into our not-so-busy schedules. She’s loving middle school so far!
Here’s what our August 2016 looks like under a financial microscope.