Wow, where did April go? It seems like I was just wrapping up our 2016 taxes, and now it’s time to write up one of these monthly reports. The year 2017 is now a third complete!
Thankfully, the Pacific Northwest has finally started it’s drying-out cycle, so we’ve started spending more time outdoors. This means daily walks through the neighborhood, playground time with the kids, and more time spent in the garden.
Expect me to be around the computer a little less — My replies to your emails and comments will probably slow down during the summer months.
For those of you unaware, we have two seasons here in the Pacific Northwest: Cool & Wet and Dry & Mild. Some people have other names for these seasons — “Oh my god this place sucks!” and “Holy shit summer is beautiful here!”
In winter (the wet season) it can rain every-single-day for a month. In summer (the dry season) we often don’t see rain for a month (or longer) and temperatures in the low 80’s.
Our garden is just beginning to show signs of life, but May should really kick things into high gear.
Our family tries to be Economic Gardeners, so we store water in rain barrels during the wet season, and use it again during the dry season. The rain barrels are now full, and I’m ready for some the sunshine.
This helps us save a little money in the garden, but we always end-up needing extra water when mid-summer hits.
Expenses For April
Expenses for April amounted to $5,108.34. This was actually our best month of the year so far!
Let’s dig into all the gory details and see exactly where the financial blood-letting happened…
The Food category came-in significantly lower than usual in April. I’m not sure what happened, but instead of spending $500 on food, we only spent $355.65. We ate normally, and we happened to spend considerably less! Win!
This amounts to $88.91 per person for the entire month of April. This might be some kind of record for us.
Internet expenses were also slightly lower than usual in April at $38.96. My internet expenses were supposed to be going up by $10 per month, but instead they went the other direction.
Why? Well, I’m sorry to say that Comcast made some mistakes. Words were had over the phone, and the result was a correction of the mistake and a $10 credit to my account. Thanks for screwing up Comcast!
Moral of the story: Check your bill closely! 😀
The Other category was $191.87 in April. Essentially there were two major expenses — some additional passport fees for the kids, and a bunch of small Home Depot expenses necessary to change out the dining room chandelier.
We swapped-out the chandelier from a very ugly 80’s fake-gold color, to a more contemporary dark-brown. The “new” chandelier was given away freely by our local Buy Nothing group.
All it took to install was some wire, chain, new light bulbs, and a very tall ladder.
Childcare and Mortgage expenses were unchanged for April, at $2070 and $2270.25 respectively. We consider these costs entirely optional in our monthly expenses because we could eliminate them at any time — I could have the kids home with me 100% of the time (I’d probably never have time to blog anymore), and we could pay off the mortgage at any time.
For the year, our expenses totaled nearly $22k.
This is higher than last year, but not unexpected. While Mrs. Tako continues working, we elected to put the kids in daycare part-time. This gives them plenty of time to socialize with other children, and gives me a sanity-break.
Without the daycare expenses, net expenses for the year would be $8280 less.
Dividends For April
Dividends for April were $3,798.68.
Remember: These are dividends only from our taxable accounts.
As I’ve mentioned in previous months, we’re not utilizing dividends from our tax-exempt accounts (401k’s, IRA’s, etc). Instead, we’re letting those accounts continue to grow while we live off our taxable accounts.
Our dividend goal for 2017 is to grow dividends by at least 10% to $52,000 for the year. It’s probably too early to tell if we’ll make this goal or not.
The Sleep Report
Now for the portion of this monthly report I’m dreading — The Sleep Experiment. As I wrote about back in March, I’m a absolutely terrible sleeper. I probably average somewhere around 4-6 hours of sleep per day. It’s probably not very good for my health.
So, I decided to trying to tracking my sleep habits and improve my sleep hygiene this year by setting some goals.
My sleep goal for 2017 is to:
- Sleep a minimum of 7 hours per day.
- Get to bed by 1AM (or earlier) every single day.
How did I do in April? Well, not so good — I met this goal only 8 nights out of 30.
Yep, still terrible! But better than I did in March. It’s a step in the right direction!
Having the kids now (mostly) sleeping through the night is a HUGE help, and I already feel more rested … except for last night. Our oldest son woke-up at 3am complaining of scary dreams. Daddy Octopus came to the rescue of course.
Reaching my sleep goals is going to be challenging, but I’m making an effort! Sleep is important!
Investment Changes For April
As promised in last month’s report, there were portfolio changes in April!
We purchased shares worth $84,933.73 in two existing holdings.
Yes, we do have a lot of cash sitting around doing nothing, so I was glad to put this money to work. I expect to see dividend payments improve in June because of this investment.
What did we invest in? LyondelBasell Industries (LYB) and our favorite, the Well-Known Energy Company (WKEC).
LyondellBasell composes roughly 11% of our taxable portfolio, and it’s a company I continue to like. The company is a large global chemicals business (mainly plastics), that’s sensibly managed. They pay a solid and growing dividend in a industry that continues to see solid demand growth around the world.
LYB is a value-priced stock, but when shares go further on-sale, we try to buy more. This happened in April.
In April, our stock purchases of the Well-Known Energy Company (WKEC) continued, and NO I’m not giving up the real name yet. We’re still purchasing shares, and I’m still keeping quiet.
The story on this investment isn’t finished yet. When I do finally share the name of this investment, everyone is gonna say, “Well, that was obvious, I knew that was going to do well.”
Uh-huh. The difference is, instead of talking about making big investment moves, I’m actually doing it. This investment is a Big Bold Bet for us — it composes roughly 30% of our taxable portfolio.
Why such a big bet? The world is a rapidly changing place. Make certain you understand how it’s changing.
Hint: I read www.eia.gov almost religiously. Lots of good factual data there.
[Image Credit: Flickr]