November 2014 Financial Update
In November, our spending was very average and our net worth went up very slightly by $8,000. With $2,764 of income in November, we barely covered our $2,640 in spending. November marked the start of a major construction project on our house and most of the month’s spending was devoted to material purchases.
It’s almost not worth mentioning the paltry $85 in interest and investment income which came from a single bond holding and our growing money market balance. However, huge investment income is just around the corner in late December when many of our mutual funds and ETFs pay out all the dividends accumulated for the whole year. For all of 2014, I’m expecting to surpass our $22,300 of dividend income during 2013. We are at $16,000 through the end of November, so we aren’t too far away from last year’s total.
Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, was up slightly compared to previous months at $654. Freelance writing (“consulting” income in the chart) at $375 was higher than normal due to receiving two months of payments in November. I expect to make around $600-800 over the long term from blogging and freelance writing, and November’s online income exceeded $1,000 so I can’t complain.
Mrs. Root of Good is still working, hence the salary income. This income will likely cease some time in the next year, and possibly within a few months depending on when Mrs. RoG joins me in early retirement. Last month’s post on the “two cent issue” explained one of the factors driving her toward early retirement.
“Deposits” of $92 includes $80 from selling a queen size mattress and box spring on Craigslist. I know I priced the mattress set very low because I had multiple offers on it within 12 hours of listing it. Fortunately, the transaction closed very quickly without a lot of effort from me.
I’m always curious whether putting things on Craigslist is an efficient use of time or whether I should just toss stuff out or put it on the curb for free. Right now I’m 10.5 hours into photographing, researching prices, and listing around 25 different items for a total asking price of roughly $800. Since I’ve only made $80 for 10.5 hours of work, that equates to a pitiful minimum wage level $7.61 per hour. However, if I can clear another $600 from the items still for sale and spend another 4.5 hours dealing with buyers, that will work out to $45 per hour of effort (tax free!). Let’s see how optimistic I am. And if you’re local to Raleigh, NC and want a crib and mattress, portable cribs, luggage, a queen size mattress (no box springs with this one), a broken bike, a barely used fondue pot, a large painting of Angkor Wat, or any variety of coffee tables or end tables, get in touch with me and let’s make a deal.
If you’re interested in tracking your income and expenses like I do, then check out Personal Capital (it’s free!). 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 November expenses:
At $2,640 for November, our expenses were deceptively similar to our budgeted $2,667 monthly spending.
The largest single expense in November was $1,682 for ten new vinyl replacement windows. Our 42 year old original single pane windows are reaching the end of their functional life and it’s time to upgrade. The new windows will be easier to clean, look nicer, and allow us to open all of them easily during temperate parts of the year to reduce heating and cooling bills.
We found a great contractor to install new vinyl siding. When asked about installing windows, he offered to provide the windows at a cost of $225 per window. He also suggested that we could buy our own windows and possibly save some money that way. I managed to get almost all of the windows with higher energy efficiency ratings compared to the windows specified by the contractor. I’ll never know whether the contractor’s windows would have been “better” than the windows we purchased, but after researching the windows at length I’m feeling good about them.
The contractor will be installing the ten windows, replacing the original 42 year old masonite fiber board siding with some high end vinyl (Certainteed Monogram 46 for the curious), and covering all trim work with vinyl siding or aluminum wrap. The initial contract was around $6,500.
Since commencing work, one of the workers decided to stick his leg through what turns out to be roof decking material rotten from a known leak. The worker is fine, but the roof isn’t. To get the roof into good condition will add another $400-500 to the total bill to include replacing about 100 square feet of shingles, one sheet of plywood, and install weatherproof membrane and flashing tied into new siding. Hopefully that will fix the leak that reappears every few years.
Assuming there isn’t a lot of other additional work required, the total for the siding, window, and roofing project should come in around $9,000. In my post on “budgeting for home repairs“, I planned on $4,000 for a new roof every 20 years, $4,250 for new doors and windows every 30 years, and $1,500 for exterior painting every eight years. With the new vinyl siding (which wasn’t in my original home repair budget), I can forego most of the $1,500 for painting every eight years. The siding should last for at least 20 years, and possibly many more. The roof repair means I’ll get another ten years out of my roof before needing a full replacement. The window replacement is cheaper than my per-window assumptions. Overall, my actual costs were roughly in line with what I budgeted.
We spent a little more than average on groceries at $588 for the month. The increase is due to lumping in a few Christmas gifts picked up at Aldi or Walmart while shopping for groceries plus shopping for our big family Thanksgiving meal. We also stocked the freezer with around 30 pounds of beef, pork and chicken while it was on sale. A well stocked freezer also removes the there’s nothing to eat!” excuse that leads to restaurant dining. December groceries will probably be lower than average since we started the month with a full fridge, freezer, and pantry (and some delicious Turkey Day leftovers awaiting us in the freezer).
At $84, we stretched our restaurant spending very far. For $84, we bought Chinese take out for the family three times, we ate at Taco Bell a few times (my fast food weakness), and tried out a new Venezuelan arepa restaurant (it was good, not great). Mrs. RootofGood grabbed a Starbucks and a lunch in the cafeteria at her office. I went out with a friend to a fresh burrito place. That’s a lot of eating for $84.
Other spending included some blood work at the doctor for me ($7) and a birthday present for our kids’ friend ($16). Gasoline/tolls ($106) and utilities ($118) were typical.
We budgeted $32,000 per year for retirement, so eleven months of spending should be $29,333. At $24,200 year to date spending, we are roughly five thousand dollars under budget for the year.
However, December will be a very expensive month. I’ll be writing a $7,000 check to our contractor once the project wraps up in the second week of December. Property taxes ($1,550) are due by January 6, so they may get paid in December. And we might spend a little bit more on Christmas gifts (it really depends on who’s naughty and who’s nice). My guess is that we’ll wrap up the year a couple thousand dollars over our $32,000 budget which is pretty great considering the almost $9,000 in renovation expenses for our house.
Net Worth: $1,451,000 (+$8,000)
In terms of net worth, November almost put me to sleep. You can see in the graph below how little fluctuation occurred throughout the month. Investments went up very slightly and didn’t have any wild swings like September or October of this year. I’m okay with that. Sleep inducing boredom due to very little volatility is a good thing.
Looking toward the end of the year, I’ll be reviewing my 11 tips to finish the year strong. I plan to put in the maximum contributions to our IRAs ($5,500 each) and offset all of my blogging and freelancing income by making the maximum allowable contribution to my solo 401k based on earnings during 2014. I can make these contributions during 2014 or next year before April 15, 2015.
What was your biggest financial move in November? Any big end of year plans?