In my opinion, summer is the best of the four seasons. Some people might love winter for its snow, spring for its flowers, or fall for the beautiful colors, but I absolutely love summer!
Food prices are cheap, and produce is fresh. Temperatures are great for grilling, and spending time outdoors without wearing multiple layers of protective clothing is suddenly a very real possibility.
What about our summer utility bills? Don’t they get crazy high?
Nope! While many areas of the country see excessive heat and humidity during the summer months, the Pacific Northwest is a relatively cool and dry spot. Consequently, our utility bills during the summer months are the lowest of the year. There is literally no AC unit inside our home, because it just doesn’t get that hot here.
So yes, I love summer — It’s filled with sunshine, low utility bills, fresh fruit, the bounty of the garden, and plenty of time spent outdoors.
Expenses In June
As you might expect, when food prices and utility bills are low, this leads to very low monthly spending. For the month of June, we spent $5,027.77. This is our lowest monthly spend for the year so far… and summer has only just begun!
By category, our spending broke out like this:
Food expenses were lower than usual in the month of June at $485. We tend to average right around $500 per month for food, but June was unexpectedly lower. Maybe doing more of our shopping at Cash & Carry had an effect.
Note: If we had eaten at a restaurant in June, I would have included it in this category. We didn’t eat out in June. We cooked at home. Cooking at home is a great way to save money, and I highly recommend it for anyone saving for Financial Independence.
Fuel costs were also very low in June at $67. We didn’t go on any road trips in June, so fuel costs were well under our average fuel cost of $100/month.
I did need to get more propane in June, but I’ve included that cost under “Other” instead of fuel.
Mortgage and Childcare
Mortgage and Childcare expenses are always the big expenses for the month — in June they amounted to $4,340. We consider these costs entirely optional because we could eliminate them at any time — I could have the kids home with me 100% of the time (I’d probably have no time to blog), and we could pay off the mortgage at any time.
(Literally, I could write a check today and pay-off the mortgage if I wanted)
Outside those two major expenses, our June core expenses were a minimal $687.52, the lowest for the year.
Internet expenses are finally back to normal after Comcast corrected their mistake — $49.99/month for 100mbit service. It should remain at that price for the rest of the year, at which point I’ll need to renegotiate with my ISP again.
If you’re paying considerably more for your internet service, I recommend making use of the power of a phone call to negotiate a lower rate.
Very few utility bills landed in June (July will have more), but our power bill was the cheapest of the year at $74.51. This includes both electricity and natural gas charges.
Summer also means a lot more time grilling outdoors. Unfortunately my annual propane tank refill needed to happen in June… but this year I was prepared!
The refill only cost $10.29 for 5 gallons (including taxes). That’s the cheapest LPG refill location in my area. I found the place using an online tool.
When you have no way to cool the house, cooking food outside is definitely the way to go on hot days. Most of the time I like to grill, or simply use the slow-cooker outdoors.
For the year so far, we’ve spent $32,687. This includes our mortgage and daycare costs. Outside of those two major expenses, our core spending was a mere $6,646.
Next year, our oldest son will start kindergarten and I expect daycare costs to drop. School costs will rise, but the net dollars spent should decline considerably.
When we finally sell our house in this HCOL area, and move to our new LCOL home, I expect housing costs will also decline sharply.
Dividends In June
Dividends in June amounted to a plentiful $8,856. The end of the quarter always sees the largest dividend payouts — this means March, June, September, and December are months that see the largest dividends.
For the year so far, we’ve collected $25,474 in dividends.
This total is a little less than I wanted it to be as part of our Dividend Growth Plan, but I can’t complain — making over $50k in completely passive income for the year is pretty nice.
Please remember: This dividend income is from our taxable accounts only. We’re not touching our tax-advantaged accounts at this time.
A few readers have asked me if we attempt to smooth our dividend income to help deal with the big swings month to month — The answer is, we don’t! Instead, we simply carry enough cash to handle the months with bigger deficits.
The Sleep Report
Now it’s time for the sleep report — the part of the monthly update I dread. As I wrote about back in March, I’m an absolutely terrible sleeper. I average somewhere around 4-6 hours of sleep per day. It’s probably not very good for my health.
To try to do something about it, I decided to improve my sleep hygiene by setting goals and tracking my sleep habits.
How did I do in June? Terrible! I regressed! I met my sleep goals a mere 4 nights out of 30.
I don’t have any good excuses for this month either — either I was up late blogging, or I was reading instead of sleeping. Clearly I need to try a little harder!
Investment Changes In June
In June the cash continue to pile up. I made no investment changes. Why? Equity investments look expensive to me. At this point, with the Fed planning several rate increases for the year, the downside risk to the general market looks bigger than the upside.
At some point, every investor needs to have a point where they can say “No, that’s too expensive. The long term return is going to be just too low.”
Maybe you watch the Shiller PE ratio, or perhaps you follow the treasury bill to earnings yield spread. Whatever your favorite metric, one day Mr. Market’s numbers just make no sense.
I prefer to wait for a better deal. One day better value for my investing dollars can be realized. While I may occasionally find individual investments that meet my criteria, those seem to be few and far between right now.
Instead of watching the market with frustration, I went for a long hike instead. There’s plenty of ways to spend my time NOT worrying about what Mr. Market is doing.
[Image Credit: Flickr]