Time flies when you’re having fun! We’re almost half way through May and I’m just now updating our April financial snapshot. We have been vacationing, volunteering, and enjoying the wonderful springtime weather. What can I say? I’m retired and don’t always have time to focus on this blog!
We had a great financial month during April. Our net worth climbed $47,000 to $2,109,000 thanks to great stock market returns. Our income for the month remained strong at $4,794 while our expenses were rather low at $1,591.
Here is a more detailed look at our April finances along with some pictures to show what the life of an early retiree looks like.
Investment income totaled $2,218 in April. Our equity mutual funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December. In the first few days of April, another slug of end-of-quarter dividends arrived in our investment accounts, so April was also a good month for investment income.
Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, totaled $1,768 for the month of April which is lower than most months. But still very respectable considering the limited time I devote to this blog.
My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) totaled $755 for the month of April. This includes a couple of sessions completed in March but payment was recorded in April. Business is booming in May too.
Deposit income of $51 which was cash back and incentive bonuses from the Ebates.com and Mrrebates.com online shopping portals (some of which was earned from you readers signing up through these links).
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Now let’s take a look at April expenses:
In total, we spent $1,591 during April which is almost $2,000 less than our target spending of $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year). The top expense categories for April were travel and groceries like most months. You have to eat and take big vacations, right?
Detailed breakdown of spending:
Travel – $505:
Most of the travel expense this month came from our cruise to Cuba. We had already paid for the cruise fare in past months but we had to cover incidental expenses while on board and for the Raleigh-Miami round trip drive:
- spending money while in port
- suggested gratuities on the ship for dining staff and room attendants
- Cuban visas ($75 per person!!)
I just completed the spending required to get the 70,000 point sign up bonus (worth $700+ when credited to reimburse travel purchases) on my Barclay Arrival card. I redeemed the $700 travel credit to cover the tips and Cuban visas we paid for while on the cruise. Otherwise we would have spent $1,200 out of pocket for the cruise.
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Airbnb plays a huge role in keeping lodging expenses moderate when we travel. For this summer’s trip to Asia, we have seven out of eight weeks of lodging booked through Airbnb. Save $40 off your first Airbnb stay with my airbnb referral link.
Note: Our third stop on the cruise was Cozumel but we didn’t do much beyond shop for souvenirs and goat milk caramel candy and get some Mexican pesos from the ATM to exchange in Cuba. The Cuban exchange rate comes with a 10% surcharge when trading US dollars but no additional markup for trading Mexican pesos, euros, or several other world currencies.
Groceries – $401:
Grocery spending dropped in April. We were on vacation for nine days so we didn’t shop as much.
In other grocery news, I am now a card-holding member of Costco. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually pay the $60 annual membership fee. My Fidelity 2% cash back credit card offered a promotion for a $40 credit plus $20 Costco cash card with a $60 membership purchase. So the net cost to me for the membership is zero after the promotion.
I don’t know if this will work, but I may cancel the membership soon and try to get a refund of the $60 membership fee. If that works out then I will profit $60 off of the promotion.
I gave Costco another shot and it’s not a great value proposition for us. All of the grocery items and paper products are more expensive than Aldi, Lidl, and Superwalmart. Prices are sometimes 50% higher at Costco. It’s been a year and a half since I did a more formal price comparison that found Costco to be 35-40% higher than Aldi and Superwalmart in my area. And that was before considering the excellent sales that grocery stores advertise every week.
Not much has changed during my most recent visit when I bought the membership. However, I understand from dozens of comments from Costco lovers that Costco is a good bargain in areas of the country that don’t have much grocery competition. Fortunately I don’t live in one of those high priced areas!
Utilities – $216:
The water, sewer, and trash bill from the city was $133 and the natural gas bill was $84 (home heating and water heater). The natural gas bill will drop significantly now that we’re in air conditioning season. However our electric consumption will go up significantly.
I prepaid the electric bill a long time ago to hit the minimum spending requirement on credit cards, so I don’t have a monthly electric bill to pay right now. In the next month or two I will use up my bill credit and have to resume payments for electricity.
Gifts – $185:
We gave our son money and presents for his birthday. We also gave all of our kids money for good grades on their report cards.
Entertainment – $108:
We spent $57 on pizza for our son’s birthday party plus another $20 at Dollar Tree for party favors and decorations. We undoubtedly spent more on drinks, snacks, and other party-related items but they got absorbed into the “grocery” expense category.
I also bought a Netflix gift card at Raise.com at a discount. I pay for half of a family Netflix plan that I share with my mom. By applying this gift card to our account I have prepaid our part of the bill for another eight months.
General Merchandise – $61:
We spent $61 at Walmart for items for the house plus we also purchased new umbrellas for our trip to Asia this summer (rainy season!!).
Restaurants – $60:
Another month of not dining out very much.
We visited a Korean Church Food Bazaar at the invitation of our dental hygienist (who is Korean). “The only place to get really good Korean food in all of Raleigh” she claims. The food did not disappoint. It was $43 well spent and we all left stuffed after lunch and we had enough leftovers for dinner too.
The coolest part was all the free samples of the different new-to-us Korean dishes. We tried several dishes. We ended up buying more than we planned because it was so unique and delicious. Much cheaper and faster than a plane ticket to Seoul to enjoy similar treats. And $43 is about what it costs us to dine out at a real restaurant anyway!
The other $18 of restaurant spending was a big bag of fried chicken from Bojangles. Good stuff if you like fried chicken.
Healthcare/Medical – $31:
Our 2019 healthcare premiums are $31 per month thanks to very generous Affordable Care Act subsidies that we receive due to our low ~$40,000 per year Adjusted Gross Income. The benefit of being “poor”.
Cable/Satellite – $15:
$15 for one month’s internet bill. We qualify for a local reduced rate package due to having a lower income and having kids. 30 mbit/s download, 4 mbit/s upload.
Total Spending in 2019
April is over and we are $5,000 under the $13,333 budgeted for four months of our $40,000 annual early retirement budget. Another year of under spending our budget by a wide margin!
We have several big bills due in May such as our six month auto insurance and annual home insurance premiums. Beyond that, spending should be fairly modest going into the summer since we’ve prepaid most of our big summer travel expenses.
I’m not going to work too hard to spend all this extra money we have because we have two big expenses looming in the near future. We’ll want an additional car once our oldest kid starts driving. Probably something small-ish, fuel efficient, and used. Perhaps something electric. We’ve enjoyed being a one car family (after debating it for a while) but that will come to an end in less than two years. Along with a second car comes another set of taxes, registration, inspection, and maintenance.
The second big expense coming up soon is college for two kids. It’s still a few years off and the bottom line cost is unknown. More thoughts on what college costs might be for our early retired family.
Monthly Expense Summary for 2019:
Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:
Net Worth: $2,109,000 (+$47,000)
This roller coaster keeps going higher! Wheee!
As of the end of April we are within $5,000 of the previous net worth high water mark of $2,114,000 set back in January 2018. Now that we are part of the way through May, some of these gains have disappeared but it’s still nice to be back near the high point on the net worth chart.
That’s it for this month’s financial update. Our finances pretty much run themselves at this point. Between a little blog income and a little investment income we have “enough” since we live a pretty simple life.
As summer approaches, we are about a month away from hopping on a plane destined for Southeast Asia where we will spend eight weeks exploring Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. We have the flights and lodging for the trip already booked but now we need to get serious about researching each city and region to get a better idea of what we will do while traveling around the area.
With that, I’ll wish you a happy remainder of the month and I hope it’s filled with good times and profit!
Enjoying the wonderful spring weather? Looking forward to summer?
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