June 2014 Financial Update

Saving big

June came and went and treated us very kindly.  Somehow we spent next to nothing, and had a fabulous month of investment income.

At $9,611 in total income during June, we more than covered our monthly expenses of $830.  And then some.  And then some more.

The most notable source of income in June was dividend income totaling $5,264.  Most of our index funds pay dividends quarterly which explains why there is so much dividend income in June.  Looking at second quarter dividend payments overall (including a few dividends that slipped into the first few days of July), we received just over $7,000.  That brings the total investment income year to date to just under $12,000, and puts us on track to surpass our $22,300 of dividend income during 2013.

Income received from rootofgood.com totaled $211 in June.  This amount is much lower than May due to the timing of some payments that have been received in July.  Long term, it looks like $600-800 per month is a reliable guess for income from this blog, subject to normal monthly fluctuations.

“Deposits” totaling $1,800 was repayment of a business loan made to family in 2013 (and reflects two payments for June – one at the beginning, one at the very end).  There is only a small balance outstanding and this particular source of income will be gone after July.

I continued to sell stuff I don’t use, and received $75 by selling a few old Magic: The Gathering cards from my high school days.  A friend of mine came over and we played a little Magic.  He went through my small assortment of cards I didn’t eBay already and found a very rare card (dual land?) that was worth almost $75 all by itself.  I also had the option to take payment in store credit to buy more games and receive a 30% bonus on the $75.  Even though board games are one form of good cheap fun, I decided to take the cash and not force myself to buy stuff I didn’t really want at the moment (even if it is a “good deal”).

After meeting the spending requirements on my Barclay Arrival Plus card, I requested statement credits to pay for our AirBnB apartment rentals in Canada.  The “Travel” income reflects $500 of statement credits I received in June.  If you haven’t signed up for your own Barclay Arrival Plus card yet, don’t miss out on $450-500 in free travel (or check out one of the other great bonus offers available here).  We’ll be getting another $500 or so on a future travel purchase using Mrs. RoG’s sign up bonus!

 

june-2014-income

 

The other $200 in Travel income was a refund of a deposit we made for a Caribbean cruise.  We planned on taking a week long cruise to Jamaica, Mexico, and Grand Caymen Island in September (for $1,400) but decided to skip it this year since it’s so close to our big summer trip.

A quick note on the expense tracking and income tracking tools I use.  I took screen captures from Personal Capital and included them in this blog post.  All of our savings and spending accounts (including checking, money market, and five credit cards) are all linked and updated in real time through Personal Capital.  We have accounts all over the place, and Personal Capital makes it really easy to check on everything at one time.

Personal Capital is also a solid tool for investment management.  Keeping track of our entire investment portfolio takes two clicks.  If you haven’t signed up for the free Personal Capital service, check it out today (review here).

Now let’s look at June expenses:

june-2014-expense

 

I’m pretty amazed that we spent less than $1,000 during the month of June.  There wasn’t any conscious effort to spend as little as possible.  We simply lived as we normally do.

In fact, we spent a lot of money on clothes since the kids are growing and need summer gear.  I also updated my shorts wardrobe (a key part of the early retiree’s uniform) in preparation for our summer trip.  The ladies all bought new shoes for our trip.  Add in a few new bathing suits, and the clothing total came to $216 for the month.  That’s about a third of what we spend in a year on clothing, so that should be the bulk of spending on clothes for a while.  Most of the clothes shopping was completed at Walmart, with a tiny amount ($30) at the thrift shop.  That $30 went pretty far, as Mr. RoG Jr. got a half dozen new outfits and the girls picked up some more summer clothing.  The thrift shop prices are about 10-20% of retail prices, and the clothes are often brand new or barely worn.

June’s grocery expenses were lower than normal because we were busy emptying the fridge of perishables before our big trip to Canada for the entire month of July.  We continued to use the Extreme Grocery Shopping strategies to keep costs down.

I also spent a few bucks on a replacement speaker for my cell phone.  I did have to bust out my trusty voltmeter to diagnose the problem, but the $3 repair was worth it to get back full functionality on my $50 phone that’s on Freedompop’s $0/month plan.

 

june-2014-ytd-expense

 

We budgeted $32,000 per year for retirement, so a half year of spending should be $16,000.  At $11,744 year to date actual spending for the first half of 2014, we are 27% under budget for the year.  July will be an expensive month since we will be on vacation the entire month, and we had an issue with the car (more details in a future post!), and the annual insurance bills on the cars and house are due.  But we should still remain well under budget even with all that lumpy spending in July.

 

Net Worth: $1,444,000 (+$33,000)

As the temperatures rose in June, so did our net worth!  A net worth increase of $33,000 represents an entire year’s living expenses for us.  As of the date of this article, July has swallowed up a lot of the net worth gains, and may leave us with a decrease in net worth.  I actually welcome declines in the stock market occasionally because it keeps sanity in the markets.  If the markets continued going up month after month after month, some folks would get the wrong impression that steady 20-30% annual returns are the norm (which isn’t true – don’t bank on more than an average of 8-10% long term).

Year to date, our net worth is still up over $150,000.  All of those gains can get erased and we will still be able to survive on a 3% withdrawal rate from our investments.

 

june-2014-net-worth

 

Enough talking about money.  Now I’ll be getting back to enjoying the last few weeks of our trek through Canada.  We save and invest money in order to have fun spending it, right?

 

We did great in June!  How did you do?

 

 

29 comments

  • What a great month! And, thrift store shopping for the win! We are continually amazed at the quality of clothes we’re able to buy used. Glad you had similar success! Thanks for sharing your expense breakdown–it provides a helpful comparison for us. Cheers!

    • Thanks! The thrift shop is great for clothes and linens. Especially for little kids who outgrow stuff quickly. We happened to visit when all kids clothes were 50% off, so everything was $0.75 per item. And some items looked brand new.

  • Your income is fantastic but your expenses are even better! I don’t think our family of 3 has ever had a month of spending this little. I noticed there are no utilities mentioned in your update – is that correct?

    • Yes, I didn’t pay any utilities in June. Early in 2014 I needed to spend some money on a credit card to obtain the sign up bonus, so I prepaid my electric for most of the summer, the water through June or July, and the internet through June. I just received my first bill from the internet company for $1.50, so I’ll be paying that in July (plus another $35 for July’s internet).

      Summer time electric bills are usually steep – $150-200 for a couple of months. I have a house sitter living in the house right now, so he may pay for part of the electricity but we left that open ended (unless he consumes way more than we do!). Usually utilities average $300/month, so if I had those in June we would have broke $1000 in expenses.

  • That’s gotta be a good feeling you’re keeping the spending far under your spending ceiling.

    Do you expect to see a continued lull in blog visits over the summer months?

    • Yeah, it’s nice because I know I can have an “emergency” event later in the year and still come in under budget for the whole year. Or we might plan another nice long trip and feel more free to spend plenty.

      As for blog traffic, June’s numbers dropped a little versus May, but I also published 1 less article. June was within the long term trends of 12000-15000 visitors per month I’ve been getting in 2014. There’s definitely a drop off in traffic though. The drop in revenue is due to some payments not being received until July 1 or a little later. July’s revenue might break $2k for example.

  • Great job! Since retiring four months ago our expenses have dropped as well, and our net worth has increased as well.

    The increases in our investments due to market strength have also obviously helped, as well as two mortgage loans I made that I collect monthly on. My “job” now is options trading which I have had success at for two years, averaging around $30-50K per year while just nipping around the edges, so that covers most of our expenses.

    Our expenses tend to be primarily gas, certain utilities (DirecTV and cell phones tend to be our biggest ones, surprisingly, since we live in the South where most utilities are lower), and eating out. The last is done at mostly chain restaurants where we use coupons and gift cards purchased at Kroger’s, which lower our gas costs due to their gift card/gas program.

    Travel safe, my friend, and I’ll look forward to more of your postings down the road.

    • I feel like I’m getting a false sense of security out of continued market increases and keeping my expenses low. I’ll take the good news as long as it lasts though!

  • Incredible passive income, but look at those expenses! Less than $1,000 for an entire family without even trying, great job! I’m seriously jealous right now. 🙂

    Funny you mentioned the Magic cards… I just found a bunch of Super NES doubles in my library and put them up for auction on eBay. A lot of people have stuff laying around that’s actually still worth something, but is stashed away in a dark corner somewhere.

    • I need to go through my SNES and original NES games. We have a bunch (some of which we still play!), but I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some rare game worth $50 or $100 lurking in our game collection.

  • Looks like a pretty kick ass month! I’ve been thinking about selling some of my old baseball/basketball cards as well as my modest coin collection from when I was much younger. I don’t have any of them on display as they’re all just sitting in my closet. I could probably only get about $500 from selling everything but that’s better than them just sitting and collecting dust.

    • That’s my thinking – if it’s worth something and I never use it, I might as well get paid to get rid of it. A couple hundred extra dollars in my bank account is much more useful (and less of a hassle) than a box of unused stuff sitting in the bottom of my closet or attic.

  • Now I need to go through my Magic cards and see what they are on ebay – I have many of the original cards – including the ones you could get from the books. And I’m pretty sure that I had a few that were rare when I had them – unfortunately, I think they’re no longer allowed in play since they were so powerful…

  • Huge gains. Grats man 33k wow! That is some monster dividend income. I too took to ebay to sell some random useless stuff. Amazing how much junk us humans collect. I still have a few hockey cards in cases somewhere. Maybe I should dig em up and appraise them.

    Good Day and Grind On!

  • Great month! Your dividend payments for the month are awesome – I can only dream of payouts like that! I hope you’re enjoying your trip 🙂

  • Are all of these dividends in taxable accounts or in tax deferred?

  • That is some great dividend work! I need to work more on that passive income stream.

    Every month has been in the black so far. Up 3.77% in June and 31.65% YTD (~$50k). But like you, July is eroding those gains. Having a $1120 car maintenance/repair bill in July doesn’t help either (some major 180k maintenance was needed and repairs were only about $175). I ‘should’ be good for another 2 years before some more maintenance is due. I can handle the occasional auto shop costs since I own my 2001 camry. Way better than a $200-$300 car payment.

    Got my first dividend payout in June after opening a taxable account to serve as a kind of savings account. Why have all those dollars (20k +) sitting in a .87% interest account when my taxable account is already up 5% in 2 months and kicking out dividends. Just using Vanguard’s VYM fund currently, may sell and switch to VIG middle of next year once my capital gains become long-term. My only other dividends come from a year-end reinvestment of 401k dollars/shares.

    -29 yr old early retiree hopeful

    • You’re saving tons by owning the older car versus a new car payment. I look at maintenance/repair bills in terms of “how many months of a new car payment would this be?”. Your $1120 repair is about 4 months. My new tires and alignment was $600, so 2 months. We don’t have these large repair bills all the time (more like 1-2x a year total for our 2 cars). So we are still coming out way ahead vs. buying a new car. And new cars need things like new tires eventually.

  • June was tough month for us. We had a bunch of things fail around the house that needed to be replaced. But, the market was up and as you pointed out, June is a good month for dividends. Overall, we would have liked to have spent less, but thing break. It’s a part of life. We’re just happy we have a nice nest egg that we can absorb the costs when things like this do happen.

    • That’s how July is panning out for us so far. Expenses are much higher than June. New tires for the car (and in an emergency without time to shop around or get a deal). We returned from our vacation and found the crawl space flooded, so I’ve already spent a few bucks on clean up, and I may be buying a new hot water heater if the old one was damaged. But, that’s what we save the money for, right? To pay for life’s necessities and the fun things we budget for.

  • I’m consistently impressed by your low expenses for a family of four. I shaved my budget down significantly last summer, but there’s always room for improvement. Great job with the dividends and net worth increase! I hope you’re having an amazing time traveling through Canada.

  • Good job on the income and expenses report. It goes to show that when your retired anyone can still cut back on expenses. Good luck.

    • Thanks! We’re feeling good about our spending in the first year of retirement so far. July was an expensive month (as I’ll soon publish) due to travel and some other unexpected expenses, but we’re still doing well for the year to date.

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