October has always been a special month to me. October 2017 was particularly special because my wife and I celebrated our 20th anniversary. We did not go on an all-inclusive Caribbean cruise to celebrate but instead we enjoyed a frozen pizza dinner on the actual day of our anniversary. It was absolutely magnificent.
The day of our anniversary fell on a Wednesday so we actually did have a frozen pizza for dinner and it was a nice break from having to cook a real dinner. We celebrated our anniversary by both taking off on a Monday and spending the day together. We took Maximum for a 3.5 mile walk in the rain around a local lake and got to talk and listen without interruption for more than an hour. That doesn’t happen as often as it should.
Last month we also made a trip up to the cabin and my son and I did a backpacking trip with scouts on the Appalachian Trail. We hiked the area around Carver’s Gap along the TN/NC state line. I believe we were over 5,000 feet elevation the entire hike. I think the highest spot we hiked to was Grassy Ridge Bald at 6,165 feet. We spent one night near the Stan Murray A/T shelter. We had a beautiful campsite but the wind howled all night. I’d guess the sustained wind speed was around 30mph with some gusts approaching 50mph. Fortunately our tent stakes held.
Let’s see how the finances shook out in October.
Net Worth and Invested Assets
Once again we saw excellent gains in both our net worth and invested assets. Net worth saw an increase of $17,018 to bring our total to $711,607. I wondered last month if we would cross the $700k threshold and indeed we did. Of course we could “un-cross” it next month but for now I’m enjoying the new all-time high.
Invested assets grew by $12,984 to bring us to $485,217. Our goal is to break $500k by the end of 2017 and we seem to be on track.
I think of invested assets as just that: funds invested in retirement accounts – not cash in the bank. The net worth numbers above do include cash in the bank so there’s not a direct mapping between home equity + invested asset gains and the net worth increase.
At this point all of our invested assets are in retirement accounts (403b, 401k, IRA, employer retirement plan) and invested in low-fee index funds. Alright, let’s see where we spent in October.
Where Did We Spend?
Primary home mortgage: $1,627.32
Interest only payment on primary home HELOC: $31.70
Cabin mortgage: $3,490.05 ($1,090.05 regular mortgage and $2,400 in additional principal. Got back on track this month paying down the cabin mortgage. Feels good. We’re down to a balance of $126,379.)
Electricity at cabin: $45.50 (Starting to get a little chilly up there now.)
Electricity at home: $141.92 (This is actually two months worth due to how the billing cycle is working. The September bill was $85.11 and in October we spent $56.81. The A/C was still on for part of September – not so in October. Our electric company reminded us again that we are the envy of our neighbors because of our comparatively low electricity usage. Have yet to confirm this with our neighbors. They’re not returning our surveys!)
Internet at cabin: $43.98 (Wish we could get a rate like this for home internet.)
Internet at home: $70.72 (This includes a $10/month modem leasing fee. I need to get our own modem! Still on the to do list.)
Cell phone: $47.41 (I use Google Fi and my wife has Republic Wireless. Google Fi is ever so slightly more expensive than Republic but it has better coverage around the cabin when we’re not on the wifi. Still not sure how Verizon stays in business when other companies charge so much less.)
Natural gas: $15.45 (We use this for heat, cooking, and hot water at home.)
Water/sewer: $70.25 (Water comes in, water goes out. We pay for it coming and going.)
Groceries: $681.00 (Unless otherwise noted, this includes all food and household products/supplies for a family of three. If you’re trying to find ways to whittle down your grocery spending I recommend tracking things very closely and also checking out your nearest Aldi. We seemed to have plateaued with decreasing our grocery spending. We could get it lower if we stopped drinking beer, but I don’t see that happening.)
Gasoline: $177.00 (Gasoline was up this month due to the trip to the cabin and the 5-hour drive to Carver’s Gap on the Appalachian Trail. I also put about $20 worth of gas in the Jeep.)
Cars: $274.38 (Had a new front wheel hub assembly installed on the Subaru. I considered doing this myself and watched a couple Youtube videos on it. I would’ve paid about $75 for the part alone had I decided to do it myself. If I had more time than money I would’ve done it myself, but that’s not presently the case.)
Home maintenance/supplies: $6.80 (I can not remember what this was for. Hope it was important. I did end up selling the generator that I mentioned in this category last month. I asked $500 for it on Craigslist and had it sold in a day for my full asking price. Half of that went to my dad and I kept the other half to finance some clothes shopping.)
Childcare: $199.98 (My son goes to the Y for after school care.)
Health and medical: $155.00 (This covered a prescription, an eye Dr appointment and a couple of $40 copays at our regular Dr.’s offices.)
Life insurance: $22.75 (My wife has a policy outside of the policies offered through her employer. We looked at switching her coverage to a policy offered through her employer and it would actually be about $14 more a month for the same level of coverage, so for now we’ll keep the current policy. I have enough coverage through my employer to pay off both houses and put my son through college.)
Animals: $35.68 (Most of this was for dog food. Also had to pay a couple dollars towards chicken bedding. Egg sales usually cover all food and bedding costs, but I forgot about a bale of bedding we had at home and ended up buying an extra. No big deal, it’ll get used, and will then end up in the compost.)
I’m sure many are wondering what we use for chicken bedding. Well, I’m glad you asked. Here it is:
This product provides me with the “consistent show quality” bedding that my chickens demand. And when they’re done with it it goes in here:
Restaurants: $40.13 (Compost to Restaurants is a nice segue. My son and I got a dinner and a lunch on the road to the backpacking trip. We also got some food the last day of the IBMA World of Bluegrass back in September and that charge posted to our account October 1, so it goes here.)
Entertainment: $59.95($28.00 on hockey game food and beer. Damn that shit is expensive. Parking and tickets for the game were covered but those games are still expensive. Two $6 beers from IBMA last month also showed up in October. I also spent $19.95 on a 1-month subscription to an online music lesson site called Sonic Junction. Chris Eldridge teaches bluegrass guitar on the site and I like the cut of his jib. $19.95 gets you access to everything on the site for one month, which is probably a good deal if you have a full month to dedicate to learning/practicing. Unfortunately I don’t.)
Gifts: $27.82 (This went to a birthday present for one of our son’s friends.)
Kids/School: $23.65 (This covered our backpacking meals and an extra canister of fuel for our Jetboil Flash lite backpacking stove. We got the stove as a Christmas present for my son a couple years ago. I think it was cheaper then. We’ve borrowed a dehydrator from a neighbor so we can try making our own backpacking meals.)
Clothing: $198.46 (Definitely a bit of a splurge here. The bulk of this was two pairs of shoes for me and a pair of hiking boots for my son. We also got some long sleeve quick dry shirts from our scout troop. I quite like these shirts – especially for outdoor activities when weather conditions are constantly changing as they were on our trip to the A/T. I made $250 from selling the generator and we also brought in $168 from credit card rewards, so that was how I rationalized all the clothing purchases. Oh, I also had a $20 off coupon from DSW Shoes.)
Miscellaneous: $20.00 (ATM withdrawal. I think we spent this on produce at the local farmer’s market.)
Y Membership/gym: $58.75 (My wife has a Y gym membership which also gets us a discount on after school care at the Y.)
Total Monthly Expenses: $7,566.65
Total Monthly Non-Mortgage Expenses: $2,417.58 (Our goal for annual non-mortgage spending is $40,000 or less. I started tracking our expenses in August of 2016, so our “fiscal year” is August 1 to July 31. Over the first three months of our current fiscal year our non-mortgage expenses are $8,570.40, which is decently below our three-month target of $9,999.99
What Do You Think?
Thoughts on our October 2017 expense report? We’re definitely not living a life of extreme frugality, but still making steady progress towards our goals. I’m hoping November will be in the same spending ballpark as October.
We’ll go to the cabin for Thanksgiving and I’ll need to spend some money on materials to make repairs to the cabinette while we’re there. We’ll also spend about $20 on a Christmas tree. Christmas tree farming is one of the top economic activities in the county where our cabin is located. We’re fortunate to have the inside track on a place where we can cut our own for cheap.
I’m sure we’ll see some non-typical grocery expenditures next month as we purchase ingredients for our Thanksgiving feast, but our overall grocery bill will probably end up about the same as usual. My wife has been doing a lot of big-batch cooking and our freezers are well stocked with ready-made lunches and dinners.
Looking forward to November and enjoying Thanksgiving with family and friends.