May 2020 Financial Update

May is over and I’m back with another monthly update. In North Carolina we enjoyed very mild weather last month which meant we got to spend some great days outside. I took several 18+ mile bike rides down to the Neuse River and back home. We also spent plenty of quality time in the hammocks. 

The kids are almost done with their remote learning “homeschool” before school officially breaks for the summer. As of now, we are planning on staying around Raleigh for the next two months. I’ve been busy cancelling all our reservations throughout South America and our August cruise. 

Financially speaking, May was a very good month. Our net worth shot up $69,000 to end the month at $2,022,000. Income was relatively decent at $2,605. Our expenses were higher than average at $4,692 but that included a very expensive house repair that was mostly expected. 

Let’s jump into the details from last month.

 

Income

Investment income totaled $402 in May, primarily interest from our bond fund. Our equity index funds and ETFs pay dividends quarterly at the end of March, June, September, and December with some payments arriving at the beginning of the next month. Here’s more on our dividend investments.

Blog income, shown as “other income” in the chart, totaled $1,413 for the month which was about the same as last month. Blog income has dropped for everyone since advertisers are spending less money on advertising right now. 

My early retirement lifestyle consulting income (“consulting”) was $537 for the month of May which represents four hours of consulting. This amount of consulting is slightly higher than March and April but still much lower than January and February levels. As the stock market returns to lofty levels, I assume people are getting more interested in discussing early retirement once again. 

The “deposit income” totaled $252. We received a $50 cash back check from our Citi credit card and checking account.

We also received $202 that came from 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). 

If you sign up for Ebates through this link and make a qualifying $25 purchase through Ebates, you’ll get a $10 gift card. 

 

 

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).

Tracking spending was one of the critical steps I took that allowed me to retire at 33. And it’s now easier than ever with Personal Capital.

 

 

Expenses

Now let’s take a look at May expenses:


 

In total, we spent $4,692 during May which is about $1,300 more than our regularly budgeted $3,333 per month (or $40,000 per year). Home maintenance and groceries topped the list last month. 

 

Detailed breakdown of spending:

 

Home Maintenance – $3,740:

It is with great sadness that I announce the demise of our long-lived water heater. It steadfastly heated water for eleven years before finally giving up the good fight. 

I spent $40 on various parts to attempt to resuscitate the water heater but to no avail. The tank cracked around the pressure relief valve and started leaking uncontrollably. 

The water heater was located in our crawl space where it had inadequate clearance between the top of the unit and the bottom of the interior floor joists. As a result, I couldn’t replace the gas water heater with a similar tank model. 

I ended up replacing the tank water heater in the crawl space with an exterior tankless gas water heater. I chose the RL75 tankless from Rinnai which was also the recommendation from every plumber I talked to.

The tankless water heater promises unlimited hot water but at a very steep price. The total installation was $3,700. 

I filed two rebates totaling $250 so I may get the price down to $3,450 eventually. 

I like the ease of maintenance – the exterior tankless unit needs a DIY flush every two years and it’s easy to access compared to hunkering over in the cramped crawl space. 

We had the option to add a beefed up electrical circuit and install an electric tank water heater in the same location in the crawl space. This would still cost about $2,200 installed to bring it up to code. Electric water heaters eventually run out of water and take a while to reheat a tankful to the target temperature, which isn’t conducive to the five of us living in peaceful harmony. 

We knew the water heater would die eventually and to bring it up to code, we would have to spend quite a bit of money. Or I would have to attempt a DIY task that is beyond my skill set. So we plonked down the $3,700. Now we should have 15 to 20 years of hot water from this unit.

With the exterior unit, I can more easily attempt DIY maintenance and repairs on it. I figured I may not be interested in crawling around under the house two decades from now when I’m 60! 

That’s why we saved up all this money over the years. To allow us to pay more for ease of maintenance and comfort. 

As far as long term operating costs go, the tankless unit will probably cost about the same amount each month as the tank unit once the natural gas consumption and electricity are added together.  It only cost $10-20 per month for the gas for our tank water heater, so there just isn’t that much room to save money with a slightly more efficient tank unit.

 

A wine bottle tree. $107. A home expense not included in this month's expenses due to using Amazon gift cards bought in previous months.
A wine bottle tree. $107. A home expense not included in this month’s expenses due to paying for it with Amazon gift cards bought in previous months.

 

Groceries – $490:

Grocery expenses are slightly lower than normal. I used some Walmart and Amazon gift cards that I bought in previous months to offset some of this month’s grocery expenses. 

We’ve also been stocking up on supplies during March and April so we didn’t need to buy as much in May since the worry about interruptions in the food supply chain have decreased. Pretty much everything is available in our stores now.

I’m still using Walmart Grocery several times per month along with visits to Aldi, Lidl, and Food Lion. The Walmart grocery pickers put together your order for you and you just drive up and click a button on the app to get them to bring it out to you. The best part is you pay the same low prices as they offer in-store to all their customers and there is no delivery fee.

If you want to try Walmart Grocery, you can take $10 off your first $50+ order with my referral link. Enjoy! 

 

Home cooking. Coconut curry bamboo and pork on Chinese egg noodles.

 

Making homemade pizza from scratch.

 

Carrot cake baked at home!

 

Healthcare/Medical – $141:

Our 2020 healthcare premiums are $123 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” on our tax return. 

I paid $18 for my monthly dental insurance premiums for 2020. 

 

Utilities – $135:

The city water, sewer, and trash bill was $100 for May. 

The natural gas bill (for the water heater and furnace) totaled $35 for the month. 

In February I paid $602 for electricity which left us with a huge credit balance. I still have about $250 of that credit on the account right now but that will undoubtedly get used up in a month or two since we are staying at home all summer.

The electric utility charges a $1.50 convenience fee to use a credit card so I usually charge a big lump sum at one time so that the convenience fee is negligible as a percentage of the payment. These big payments help me hit credit card minimum spending requirements for new sign up bonuses too. 

If you want to score free travel or big cash back from credit cards, there are several cards currently offering 50,000 points or more. These points can be redeemed for $500 cash or $500+ in free flights or hotel stays. Compare travel and cash back credit card deals

 

Gifts – $100:

Mrs. Root of Good’s aunt passed away last month so we contributed $100 to the funeral “gift” from our side of the extended family to the aunt’s family. I believe the custom among the Cambodians is to give cash gifts for funerals to help offset burial expenses and help the surviving family during a difficult time.

I like this tradition better than the American tradition of giving very expensive flower arrangements that look pretty during the funeral and reception but don’t help out the family very much. 

 

Restaurants – $47:

We bought $25 gift certificates to two different pizza places during the month of May that will be used in future months. I got a small discount by buying these gift cards through Raise.com

We didn’t buy any take out during May but we did get some free burritos from Moe’s thanks to a promotion they ran last month. 

 

Restaurant quality food at home. Rare steak, roasted pork, papaya salad, and somen noodles.

 

Automotive – $20:

Guess which 15 year old finally got her driver’s permit?!?! 

This one right here!!

 

 

After waiting a month and a half to get the required paperwork issued by her school that has been closed since the middle of March, we finally got everything in order. A quick visit to the DMV and our daughter obtained her learner’s permit in exchange for a $20 fee. 

Fortunately the increased insurance costs don’t kick in until next year when she gets her full driver’s license. My insurance agent said we would only pay $900 per year to add our daughter to the insurance. That isn’t as bad as I was expecting! 

 

Cable/Satellite – $18:

We pay $18 per month for a local reduced rate package due to having a lower income and having kids. 30 mbit/s download, 4 mbit/s upload.

 

Entertainment – $1:

I bought a Humble Bundle of computer games. This time around it was Cities: Skylines for a dollar. I’ve loaded it up and played for an hour or so and it looks promising.

 

Free entertainment for the little ones. A sleepover with one of the kid’s friends. Inside tent camping!

 

Even more free entertainment. Hiking along the boardwalk over the lake. There are at least 40 turtles swimming in the water right below us.

 

Total Spending for 2020 – Year to Date

 

After five months, our spending totals $12,915 for the year. This is $3,700 less than the $16,667 we budgeted for five months of our $40,000 annual early retirement budget

In spite of a rather expensive May due to the installation of a new water heater, we are still well under budget year to date. Barring any unexpected expenses I think 2020 will be an inexpensive year overall.

Our summer travel plans have completely fallen apart. We were planning to spend eight weeks touring around South America before returning to Miami for a week of cruising in the Caribbean. 

I have cancelled the first half of our trip but I still have several flights and Airbnb bookings to cancel for July and August. It looks like we will get partial or full refunds for all of our bookings. I have already initiated one chargeback for a flight that cancelled on us but won’t provide a full cash refund. 

The end result will be us staying at home in Raleigh and not spending a ton of money. Perhaps pandemic issues decline and we can take some short trips later in the summer. Or maybe we take a two month staycation and relax here! 

 

At least we can watch the birds here at home, like this osprey
At least we can watch the birds here at home, like this osprey

 

And this ruby throated hummingbird taking shelter from the rain
And this ruby throated hummingbird taking shelter from the rain

 

Monthly Expense Summary for 2020:

 

Summary of annual spending from all years of early retirement:

 

Turtle laying eggs in the backyard
Turtle laying eggs in the backyard

 

Net Worth: $2,022,000 (+$69,000)

Anybody else feel like the most clueless investor in the world? Who would have predicted a global pandemic to tank the stock market in early 2020? Then have the stock market recover most of the losses by the end of May into early June? How crazy is that? 

 

 

Fortunately my “do nothing” approach to investing makes it pretty easy take advantage of the gains (while losing when the market goes down of course). 

We’re still holding steady over here. I did some tax loss harvesting in April but didn’t alter my equity/bond allocation away from the 90%/10% allocation that I had in March. 

Our expenses remain low for the year and income from various sources remains okay. No worries from us on the early retirement finances!

 

We have been watching this baby brown thrasher grow up in the bush in front of our house. So fluffy!
We have been watching this baby brown thrasher grow up in the bush in front of our house. So fluffy and grumpy looking.

 

Life update

I’m definitely looking forward to the lazy days of summer! Cranking up the AC, trying to stay cool. Hoping for low humidity days so we can get outside occasionally. 

I’m looking forward even more to a post-pandemic world where we don’t have to be constantly conscientious about hygiene when going out. A time when we can once again travel at will, hop on a cruise, and visit overseas locales without fear of a mandatory quarantine or catching a deadly virus. 

I’m also looking forward to a world with racial harmony and peace. Watching what has happened over the past couple of weeks is tough. Observing the apparently asymmetrical police shows of force infringing on constitutionally protected freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and the right of the people to peaceably assemble. And seeing the protests turn violent and the looting of local small businesses (often minority owned). 

I have a feeling we will find ourselves in a post-pandemic world before we find the cure that solves all of our societal ills. But let’s hope for some peace and understanding in the meantime. 

On that somber note, I’ll wish my goodbyes until next month!

 

How are you doing? Is everything back to business as usual where you are? Still seeing a lot of mask-wearing and people taking precautions? Looking forward to summer? Did your vacation plans get ruined?

 

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59 comments

  1. Just saw your blog, should have told you about the cruise deal I found for December. It was crazy good.

    On the celebrity reflection, 10 to 12 nights in the Caribbean, sailing in Nov, Dec (including Thanksgiving, Christmas, New year), Highest Balcony category $700+ pp + tax, everything included (tips, drinks, internet, OBC). Thus, if re-adjust the included, it’s like <= $200 pp + tax + tips.

    Btw, we might consider moving to different state like North/South Carolina in the futures from the expensive states, what's the property tax over there and how does it calculate? For example, California property tax is calculated based on purchased price, Massascusetts is based on annual assessment price, not purchased price.

    1. I’ll take a look. I’m still hesitant to book any new trips that soon since I hate the unpredictability of travel right now.

      Property tax is based on assessment every 4 yrs. Our value went up quite a bit since our neighborhood is gentrifying. Tax will be maybe $1800 this yr on a $194,000 assessed value house (currently zillow says it’s worth $240k).

      1. Actually, I should have detailed that every state property tax is based on assessment price. However, how CA computes the assessment price based on purchased price, with a maximum of something like 3% increase of the purchased price every year. But state like MA computes the assessment based on current fair market value of the house.

        1. Ok, I was curious what you were getting at exactly 🙂 Some states do weird stuff like setting the assessment at 1/4 the property value but then charge 4x as high rates. Like $4 per $100 value vs $1 per $100 value (about our rate here).

          So in NC, we do more like MA where every 4 yrs out homes are assessed at fair market value. It’s not like CA where they cap the annual allowable increases to a certain %. However my valuation actually dropped quite a bit for the previous 8 years. Then in 2020 is shot up about 30%. So overall we’re only up about 25% in value from when we bought the house 16 years ago. That’s mostly because Raleigh doesn’t have ridiculous real estate prices.

  2. Really enjoy your financial updates – thanks for sharing! And hopefully you can get some short trips in yet this year.

    Drivers permits: I have to share. When our youngest got his permit (several years ago now – yikes!!) – I met him at school to pick him up and let him drive home for the first time. I proceeded to get into the passenger seat and then put on a bike helmet for protection!! (ah….scarring my kids for life!) Good times, and a great story now that all our kids are in their 20’s!! Anyway – good luck to your new driver!!

    1. I think I’ve worn a permanent spot in the passenger’s side floor mat where I’m trying to press a phantom brake pedal that isn’t there. 🙂

  3. Poor asset/debtor mom/dad would have granite countertops, stainless steel appliances and drive a 2019 Suburban. What is wrong with you? Not holding up the norm of the American dream.

  4. We had a tankless gas-fired water heater installed early last year, replacing a 40-gallon electric unit. It was part of installing natural gas service and a gas furnace as well. Our savings account took a big hit but zero regrets; our utility bills plummeted, our house is warmer in the winter, and endless hot water is crazy luxurious — I wish we’d done it years ago. And now we have a couple of empty 220v circuits if we ever buy an electric car and want a charging station.

    Congratulations on your driver — exciting times! It’s a pleasant silver lining that she has a chance to learn with fewer drivers on the road.

    1. I love our gas furnace. It can heat the place up 5 or 10 degrees in an hour no problem. 🙂 And it’s dirt cheap for the energy costs. Only $100-150 during the coldest winter months (and Mrs. RoG cranks that puppy up to 70 or 71 sometimes which is ridiculous. Unless she sees this in which case it’s a totally reasonable temperature).

      Gas water heater is beautiful too. Though we already enjoyed the benefits of that with the tank unit. Going tankless doesn’t change much for us since we never ran out of hot water with the old tank unit (even with 5 of us taking showers back to back).

      Good to hear it’s working for you though! Gas energy is so cheap compared to electric.

  5. Hello,

    I just found this blog and I truly appreciate the transparency. I am a 21-year-old who is working quite hard to reach exactly what you have reached at age 33. Thank you for having this website. It motivates me and makes me realize anything is possible if you truly do care. – Nate

  6. It has been an amazing few months on many levels. We have been pretty much back to normal here in TN for awhile, with no issues. Like yourselves we have largely been staying around this part of the state, not due to our own making though. Our cruise in April was cancelled, as was the rebooking for later June, and we are now hoping the one in November stays on track. We’ll be doing timeshare traveling starting in July and off and on every month this year. Would have done so earlier but the timeshare locations in the chain were shuttered until this month.

    I was more active on the investing front over the last two months than yourself. Incredible opportunities presented themselves so I actually was doing something I don’t normally do, which is getting in and out of stocks quickly. Right now I am showing we are almost back to level with our all time asset highs, maybe 1% off still at most. And all in the space of a few weeks. One more example of how selling off and trying to time a reentry point is a fool’s errand.

    Don’t worry about the crawlspace as you get older. We have a very large crawlspace that runs the length of our 5K sq ft, one story house, and I am down there all the time. I was already 60 years old when I replaced all the plastic sheeting on the ground throughout the space (nasty job but it should be good for a long time). Still down there doing things all the time at 66, and I am 6’4″ in a space that has nowhere that I can stand completely straight. I actually find it comfortable during the summer months when it is hotter outside than in the space. If I can give you some advice, particularly if you have vents in the crawlspace, close them off year round. The worst thing ever perpetrated was to have those vents installed here in the South. I am able to use a regular 70 pint dehumidifier down there (just a standalone, non-commercial unit) by keeping the vents closed, and even with a large space I can keep the humidity at 50% during the summer.

    Will have to think about a tankless water heater someday, but we just replaced both our units a couple of years ago, so hopefully it will be a little ways off.

    1. Our crawlspace is about 3 feet at the highest point and goes down to about 18-24″ for half the house width. Just not fun to work down there at all. And we’re at the bottom of the water table between two hills so we get water infiltration during heavy rains. A sump pump keeps us nice and dry but if the electricity fails or the pump dies (happened about 5 yrs ago) then we get a few inches of water down there. Just not a good place for our water heater.

  7. We have also given money at every funeral we have attended on my husband’s side. He is from a farming community in the Midwest. He said it was usually to defray the cost the funeral, etc. I’d never heard of it either before I married him.

      1. Envelopes of money are also given here in Hawaii and throughout Polynesia. If I give flowers is will be home made from flowers and foliage growing in my garden.

        1. That’s interesting! I was reading a John Grisham novel set in Appalachia where my family is from and it made it sound like funeral and family traditions vary a lot from region to region. I guess it’s true!

  8. It is worth shopping around car insurance since you’re adding a young driver. I really believe that some companies give better prices based on age. Progressive was really good for me in my 20s and no other insurer came close. All of the sudden, in my 30s, GEICO was the best price by far. My driving record and car has not changed. It is worth a look.

    1. I’ll shop around a bit but I think I’m at the best place per another insurance agent at a different company that said kid insurance is cheapest with my current insurer (a mutual company).

  9. What a crazy year. The world has just gone nuts!

    I was planning on going to Thailand in May but obviously that hasn’t happened. Still counting on December though. I’m definitely not booking anything until this is 99% over. Until then, I will enjoy the summer locally which is not bad at all actually.

    On a side note, was pretty funny seeing how quickly the “FIRE is dead” articles faded into oblivion during this recovery.

    Hope you guys enjoy your staycation!

    1. Tough to hear your big travel was messed up. Hopefully things will be back to normal in another 6 to 12 months. I’m hesitant to book anything else until I’m 99% sure it’ll actually happen. It’s heartbreaking to get excited about a new trip then have to cancel it all.

  10. If you can’t do international travel maybe you can try some different places in the USA.
    Personally, I am planning to visit 2 or 3 national parks this summer that I have not seen yet. They appear to be opening up now.

    1. We may do something like that. Unfortunately most of the parks we really want to visit are out west and I don’t know if we’re up for the hassle of driving and dealing with hygiene and closed or partially open businesses (and that’s a fluid situation; what’s open today may not be open in a week or two).

  11. Wow, that’s one expensive water heater! For the first time ever, I underspent you guys! Check it out: https://www.mrtakoescapes.com/may-2020-expenses-and-dividend-income/ (not that it’s a competition)

    I hope that water heater sh!t$ gold after paying that much. Wow! Are you sure the plumber didn’t take you guys for a ride? I did some research into those units in the past and I heard quotes closer to $1000-$1500 for the install. How much of that was install fee vs. unit cost?

    1. You win! 😉 (though FYI we’re at just a couple hundred bucks in spending half way through June!)

      As for the water heater, the unit itself is right around $1000-1100 plus tax. Our install required quite a bit of rework the hot, cold, gas, and electric to move the location half way across the house. And then we have the most expensive inspection fees in the county apparently ($238 or something like that??). And they add sales tax on services and inspection fees here apparently. So if you break out strictly the install fee then it’s not a whole lot more than $1500 but you add in the cost for the unit, tax, inspection, etc (plus my more complicated set up) and $3700 was about right. I got 2 quotes that were nearly identical (within <$100) and heard from others locally that were paying almost exactly the same price. Also heard from some paying $5000! My old plumber told me it would be about $2300 in total so maybe prices have gone up here. Construction and development remains strong so maybe prices are higher right now.

  12. I am crying at your water/sewer bill. Those were the good ole days when I lived in Wake County. Here in poorer Cumberland Co. (poorer by half at least where I used to live in Wake), it’s $84/mon alone in PWC’s “facility charges” !!!!! Not usage, just FEES. Example, I used $1.90 for water (not incl sewer) in May, yet the sub-total for that portion was approx $30 with all the fees. There are no words.

    1. Wow – it’s all about perspective! Our current water/sewer bill seems really high but I remember the good old days 20 yrs ago in an apartment when it was $20-30/month (trash wasn’t included since the landlord paid it through the HOA). I think our baseline fees not based on usage are close to $50/month and constantly increasing.

  13. Justin,

    Always nice to see your monthly updates.

    “Our net worth shot up $69,000 to end the month at $2,022,000.” – congrats on cracking the $2 million barrier (I think, again)! It’s been a wild whipsaw over the past few months.

    Sorry to hear about the trouble with trip cancelations. We’ve been dealing with similar issues but Chase (thanks UR points) has generally been pretty good. We’re now working on our July trip to WI that I imagine will need to be canceled. I’m hoping our fall trip to AZ doesn’t go the same way!

    So far as masks… I’d say, up here in VA, we’ve gone from maybe 90% coverage at the grocery store to about 75%. It’s certainly dropping but most people are pretty good about it and social distancing.

    Stay safe, hope to hear more from you between now and July’s June update!

  14. Definitely crazy to see how far the market has gone since the pandemic. I’m pretty sure if you map all the crazy events that took place in 2020 to the market reaction you will pretty much see that the worse things are getting (whether it’s unemployment, protest…) the better the market seems to be doing. I don’t get it but not being the smartest person on this planet I might be definitely missing something BIG 🙂

    Sorry to hear that you had to cancel some of your summer vacations. As for your refund, Airbnb has been really good with us. We were planning to spend the entire summer in Europe and made many bookings before the pandemic. So far we got everything refunded back to our credit card. We noticed though that AirBnB has been recently changing its policy when they only issue an Airbnb credit when you stay can benefit from a full refund. Not a big deal for us to get a travel credit since we are in Taiwan and still use AirBnB to score greatly discounted long term stays. But if you want your money back, we had great success talking to their support team. They are a bit overwhelmed so it take time to get an answer but they understand the situation. While we had no problem using Airbnb credit, we always prefer getting the money refunded to our card as we are still opening new ones to get these juice sign-on bonus. A long answer to say that you should be able to do the same!

    Looking forward to reading your next financial update! Stay safe, enjoy life 🙂

    1. I booked all our Airbnb with gift card credits so airbnb credit is fine with me. So far it looks like they’re actually refunding to “original form of payment” which is gift card in my case. No expiration date on those gift card refunds as far as I can tell. And I agree, they have been super helpful with manually cancelling and overriding the cancellation policies where the hosts agree to the cancellations and full refund. Still got several more I’m cancelling so hopefully my luck holds.

      1. Keeping my fingers crossed for your remaining bookings! In one situation, we were asked to provide proof that we could not be in Europe at the check-in time of our stay and could not really provide any proof since our inbound flight ticket that was canceled was a couple of months prior to that check-in. They ended up taking our words for it and processed the refund.

        Btw, do you happen to book more than 4 weeks at a time with gift cards? Last time I tried (2019) AirBnB was still not allowing people to use this form of payment for long term stay, which is a bummer as we mostly book stay of 4+ weeks. (#SlowTravel)

        1. I tried to book for a month in the Bahamas in 2018 and I couldn’t do it with gift card. I think I got the host to do a special offer for 27 days and he pinky swore to allow us to stay the 28th day. So we ended up getting the long term rental rate (more than 50% off in this case) but used gift cards to pay! $82/nt for a nice oceanfront 2 BR 1200+ square foot condo with a pool and 2/3rds mile of undeveloped beach. Hard to find deals like that!!

    1. So far so good. I was happy with the old tank unit honestly so this hasn’t been much of an upgrade. I think for those going from electric tank unit to gas tankless, it’s a life changer since you now have unlimited hot water. We never ran out before with gas tank unit so it’s no big deal to “upgrade”. At least we can drink the hot water now since there isn’t a tank or anode rod to corrode and rust like the old one.

  15. Justin-

    With everything going on in the world, it’s comforting to read your monthly update and continuously positive outlook on life 🙂

    1. That’s so weird that you can’t receive the emails! I looked through the emails in my distribution list and didn’t see the gmail one you used to post this comment. Maybe try a different email if you have one? I’m using the “stock” email system from the blogging software so I unfortunately can’t manually add your email address.

  16. Safe travels with the new driver! We go to the DMV next week for my 15 year-olds permit. Combined with her 18 year-old sister, my insurance bill isn’t going to be pretty! However, I hear that it’s cheaper for daughters than sons with insurance, so she has that going for her.

  17. I just found out about your blog and love the content and transparency. The way you methodically built your brokerage account balances over 10 years was very impressive. I love Raise, I’m such a cheapskate and I use it all the time. I actually bought a bunch of $25 gift cards from Raise about a year ago to buy an appliance since the smaller denominations had the biggest discount. The cashier was a little surprised but was a good sport about it. Crazy how the market has been performing the past few months since the bottom in March.

  18. I didn’t see a phone bill on your expenses. Do you prepay for year have another source of communication other than cell phone or home phone? Thank you.

    1. Home phone is free with an Obihai plus google voice.

      Cell service is free through Freedompop (I think they discontinued new sign ups for that service but not 100% sure).

      We do keep a $10 per year international phone with T-Mobile but rarely use it. Just in case we need it.

  19. Always enjoyed reading your updates. I would like to ask with your spending and your net worth why don’t you increase your spending. It seems you can definitely afford to increase your expenses of it.

    1. No need! We’re living large already! Also nice when the market dips 30% we don’t care a bit because our portfolio is still way more than enough to cover our modest spending. Maybe some day we’ll spend more. Also have college costs for 3 kids coming up soon so some $$$ will go toward that for sure!

  20. Nice report man! Man, there’s nothing better than homemade pizza – once I learned I could just flatten out my bread recipe and I had a great go to for pizzas, I haven’t looked back! I find making things homemade is almost always better, not just from a financial perspective but health as well. And it’s just fun to learn new things. Well, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here but good post as always!

  21. With your first child, and I am sure subsequent children, driving you are at serious financial risk if they get in an accident while on your insurance. So I highly recommend if you don’t put them on their own, independent insurance with an independently owned vehicle then if you don’t already have it get yourself umbrella insurance. Even good kids make mistakes and while ninety percent of the time no one is seriously injured, I’ll tell you I’ve had a handful of friends who’s kids were responsible for accidents get sued for personal injuries a year or two post accident before statutes of limitations run out, and in almost all cases they sued for more than the auto insurance payouts. Umbrella insurance is something like $400-600 a year for one to two million worth and the insurance company will more likely go to trial with that much on the line (as opposed to a typical $100K liability limit per person on an auto policy) versus you having to also pay for your own lawyer because the insurance company settled their portion. Just something to consider.

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