April 2018 Dividend Income And Expenses

Most of the time when I write one of these monthly income and expense reports I say, “The month flew by!”  But this time around the month of April just drug on… and on … and on.  It seemed like April lasted 2 or 3 months instead of the usual 30 day period.

I have no idea why.

Maybe it was because the whole family was down with a cold.  I usually keep the kids home with me when they’re sick.  Two sick kids can make for a very long day.

Or, maybe the month seemed long because we weren’t out traveling like last month.  When I’m traveling the time always seems to move faster.

Whatever the case, it was a LONG month…


April Activities

April was also a quiet month around the Tako household.  We’ve been trying to cut back our spending a little after our big-expensive trip to Texas, so we kept things pretty tame and stuck to free activities — Mainly the library, the park, books, board games, legos, and the occasional movie night.

It’s all free entertainment.

April also included some free local sightseeing — We took visiting family members (and the kids) out to see Snoqualmie falls on a dry day.  It was completely packed with tourists, but the kids still enjoyed the rare April day in the sun.

snoqualmie falls.
Snoqualmie Falls. A local “tourist attraction”.  It’s free and not too far away.

We also held a couple parties at our house, but we didn’t splurge big on party expenses.  One of the parties was a sushi party and (as you’ll see) the expense was still pretty low.

What’s a sushi party you ask?  Well, at our house it’s a DIY food experience…

sushi party
Sushi ingredients ready for guests to DIY their dinner.  We like to do sushi parties with our friends, but they’ve got to roll their own.
sushi party 2
Not everyone likes shrimp sushi, so we mix things up with spicy tuna and some sushi-egg for vegetarians.

Decent sushi from restaurants can be very expensive, so we make our own for sushi parties.  We let the guests roll their temaki (hand rolls) rather than doing hours of prep work to prepare rolls or nigiri.

It’s easy enough to learn with a little practice.  Most of the guests have fun giving it a try.  I even have a youtube video that shows how it’s done.

temaki 1
A temaki ‘roll’ about to be rolled-up.  If you can’t master the rolling, you can always go “taco” style and just fold it in half.
A nicely rolled temaki.  It’s pretty easy to learn, and far easier than making traditional rolls.

In total, a sushi party like this probably costs $20-$40 (depends upon the sushi ingredients) and nobody goes away hungry.  By comparison, this much sushi from a restaurant would easily break $100 (not counting tax and tip).


April Expenses

Our expenses in April totaled $5,744.  At first blush this sounds like a lot, but it was actually one of our lowest cost months in a very long time.

april 2018 expenses



After a food-spendy March, we tried to cut back in April.  I think we succeeded (a little).  Food spending was $420, which is lower than our usual by $80.  (FYI:  This is for a family of four with two boys that love to eat.)

As usual we ate almost entirely homemade food, except for a take-n-bake pizza night with friends ($34).   My focus for the month was on making good use of what was on-sale at the grocery store, and using what we had in the freezer.

(Yes, I’m primarily the cook in our household)

I avoided fancy meat and other high value goods.  That meant lots of in-season vegetables whenever possible.

We had some really good meals in April, and I submit the following as evidence that you don’t need to spend big to eat well.

rice gyoza asparagus
Gyoza, asparagus, and rice. Simple, cheap and delicious.

We make a huge variety of cuisines in the Tako household.  Every night is different.  Some nights we go with traditional “Western” staples…

steak and gravy
Mashed potatoes, steak, and gravy with streamed broccoli in a butter-mentsuyu sauce.

Other nights my famous tacos make an appearance…

shrimp tacos
Yes, we love tacos! There was leftover shrimp from the taco party, so I made shrimp tacos.  Not a month goes by without some kind of taco at our house!

There were plenty of salads to go around too.  Nothing quite like fresh vegetables to keep the expenses low.

chicken salad.
Lots of vegetables are great for keeping meal costs low.  Oh, and some tofu too.

Soup is often a popular menu item at our house. We make a ton of soup…

A spicy sausage, bean, and pasta soup. Garnished with green onion, avocado, and parmesan cheese.  One of Mrs. Tako’s favorites!

Not every night is a gourmet dinner of course — some nights our main meal can be quite simple…

japanese meal
A simple Japanese meal. Nothing too fancy — cucumbers, miso soup. and brown rice onigiri.  Healthy and filling.



Fuel costs were lower than average in April, pumping in at $85.  Did we suddenly start driving more efficiently in April?

Nah!  Unfortunately an elderly woman crashed into our car and it was in the repair shop for three weeks.

Everyone was OK, and the accident was completely covered by the elderly lady’s insurance.  We simply drove less as a result.



Internet costs were higher in April at $64.99.  This happens when we transitioned between promotional plans.  One promotion ends, and then I make a phone call to get us signed-up for the next promotional plan.

Normally we pay $49.99 per month for high speed cable internet, but there’s usually a “billing blip” when one promotion ends and another start.

This month was that blip.  Next month the cost will be $34.99 to adjust for the higher bill this month.


Mortgage And Childcare

As usual, our mortgage and childcare expenses make-up the bulk of our monthly spending at $4,380.78.  These are our two largest monthly expenses, but we consider them entirely optional.

I could take the kids out of daycare and keep them home with me (I wouldn’t have time to blog), and we could pay-off the mortgage with cash.  So why do we bother paying for a mortgage and for daycare?

We simply choose to pay these large bills on purpose because of the advantages they provide — The kids are becoming fluent in a second language at daycare, and I get the time to blog a little!

For the mortgage — our interest rate is so low I’m almost 100% positive we can find a better return in the stock market.  Financially we’ll be better-off not paying-off the mortgage.



Utilities might appear to be high at $606, but they’re really not!  We only spent only $106 on electricity and gas.  The rest of the monthly our utility cost was a prepayment of $500 to the power company.

Yes, this is manufactured spending to meet the spending requirements of our new Chase Sapphire card!

We signed up for the card in anticipation of getting the reward bonus, but we spend so little outside of our mortgage and childcare we have to work hard to manufacture enough spending.

Those reward cards can be very lucrative if you can swing it.  I don’t expect we’ll pay another power bill until November.



Other expenses in April included a trip to Home Depot, tax prep software for this year’s taxes, and the $95 annual membership fee for our new credit card.  In total, the Other category was $186.

Nothing terribly exciting happened in the Other category!


Cumulative Expenses For 2018

Our cumulative expenses for the year have stacked-up to reach $24,364.

This is roughly on-pace to match our spending from 2017 which totaled $73,173.  It seems high, but we do live in a very high-cost of living city.  You get use to it (unfortunately).

april 2018 net expenses

However, this fall we begin the (very) long awaited reduction in our monthly expenses.  Our oldest son (Tako Jr #1) starts kindergarten!

Around $1,000 per month will be cut from our monthly expenses, but we’ll gain an estimated $120 in new expenses (school lunches, school supplies, field trip costs, etc)!!!  It should be a net reduction of $880/month.

The long-term plan is to have all of our expenses covered entirely by dividend income without the need to harvest capital gains.  When the kids start school it’s going to make a huge difference in our monthly budget.

Instead of spending around $6,000 per month, our spending will drop to about $4,240 per month — which means expenses should be covered by dividend income.  It’s going to take a while though (Tako Jr #2 has still has two years until he starts school).

Until then we’ll stay focused on growing our dividend income.


Dividends In April

Dividend for April were $1,629.  This was not a big month for dividends, as most of our stocks and index funds did not pay-out during the month April.

Strangely, April’s dividends are mainly from REITs.  I never noticed this before.

Our best dividend months tend to be March, June, September, and December.  We tend to gross about $10,000 for each of those months.

For the entire year, I expect we’ll average a monthly dividend income of $4500.

april 2018 cumulative dividends

For the year 2018, we’ve collected $13,905 in dividends.  Our goal for the year is to maintain the same dividend income we had last year — $53,504.

We should be able to accomplish this goal via re-investing cash and through various dividend raises.  I’m crossing my fingers I find good places to invest money…


Investment Changes In April

Usually this is the section of the post where I find a fancy new way to say “nothing changed” in our portfolio, and then try to write a few words about my investing philosophy.

You see — I’m not a very active investor.  I put money into a new investment and then wait years until I change something again.  Sometimes I’ll hold onto a position for a decade or longer.

I try to stay calm and wait for compounding to do it’s magic.  Making certain your money is going to compound before you invest is the hard part.

I do this primarily by maintaining strong filters to keep out bad investments…

Meanwhile, prices on certain stocks did fall during the month of April, but they didn’t fall quite far enough for me to pull the trigger.  (It actually did happened in early May, but you’ll have to wait until our May report to hear more about it).

Most of my “investing activity” for the month is simply reading and researching new Investing Ideas.  At the behest of my readers I even looked at Altria and Philip Morris this month.

Ultimately I concluded the cigarette maker shares were still overvalued on a long-term runout basis.  Like the rest of the market, I think they have room to fall further.

That’s it for now!  Keep reading for more investing, food, and financial independence fun!


[Image Credit: Flickr]

35 thoughts on “April 2018 Dividend Income And Expenses

  • May 5, 2018 at 2:33 AM

    Oh man, all that amazing food is making me hungry. How much time does it take you to cook every day? I’m super lazy and I hate cooking, so when I’m not eating out, I tend to make big batches (like soups, or noodle dishes) and refrigerate them so I can eat it over 2-3 days. What you’re doing looks so much more skilled though. Not sure I have the patience to do it, but lucky for your friends that they get to enjoy your awesome cooking!

    • May 5, 2018 at 3:30 AM

      Haha, I think you just used the word “skilled” and me in the same sentence! That can’t be right!

      As far as the amount of time spent cooking goes — I ‘budget’ about one hour for it. Sometimes it comes in way less (like 15 minutes) and other days I’ll make more dishes and it goes a little over that hour.

      It just depends on my enthusiasm for cooking that day!

  • May 5, 2018 at 2:42 AM

    Are we allowed to be friends and can I come over to a sushi party?! This makes me want to have my own sushi spread! Did you make the bowl of spicy tuna yourself? (Like mashing the tuna itself?)

    I think we run our dinners the same way. Tonight was spaghetti and meatballs. Yesterday was salad and soup. Day before that was rice and Asian stir fry. Day before that was frozen pizza. It’s never the same!

    That $1000 would make a huge difference in the family budget! Way to grow!

    • May 5, 2018 at 3:32 AM

      Yes, we make the spicy tuna ourselves. It’s way better than any I’ve eaten in a restaurant….

      and yes, I think we’re allowed to be friends.

  • May 5, 2018 at 4:04 AM

    Love your food pics, but I haven’t even had breakfast yet, now I’m starving!! Another optimized month for you, congrats!

    Question – when you call your internet company to get the new promo rate, do they give you a hard time? Do you have to threaten to cancel? Is it Comcast by any chance?

  • May 5, 2018 at 4:45 AM

    Ok. Sushi at home party is genius! And your financials this month are not too shabby either!

  • May 5, 2018 at 6:44 AM

    Outstanding, Mr. Tako! Except now I am hungry and need to go grocery shopping soon. Bad combo!

  • May 5, 2018 at 7:48 AM

    People in your comments appear to be more interested in your food than your financials. This is what FIRE does with your brain unfortunately.

    • May 5, 2018 at 10:08 AM

      Haha! Probably true!

      It appears that the FIRE audience prefers “less technical” content. A lot of times it’s the less technical posts that get far more views and more comments.

      I try to offer a little bit of both types of content. If I was simply chasing pageviews I’d stick with the “fluffy” stuff.

      • May 7, 2018 at 6:36 AM

        I’m definitely more interested in the technical stuff but I understand once you get there you probably don’t want to hear about it anymore! Please don’t stick only to the fluffy 🙂

  • May 5, 2018 at 11:07 AM

    The food look really good! Congratulations!

    Sorry for a long “cold” month. This happens. I can understand that after a month with travel, a month without can feel so slow. Good luck with putting Tako Jr #1 in Kindergarten. This will definitely make a large difference!
    The Poor Swiss recently posted…New ETF Portfolio – Simplicity is key

  • May 5, 2018 at 12:23 PM

    The sushi party is a great idea. As someone who isn’t always great in social situations (sort of shy) it’s nice to have something to do with your hands instead of just sitting on the sofa staring at each other, trying to think of something to say. An ice breaker, if you will.

    Also, sometimes the FIRE audience is just learning the technical stuff–so they may not have a lot to offer to the technical conversation yet. 🙂

    • May 7, 2018 at 11:50 PM

      I’m with you Michelle! I’d much rather have something to do with my hands than be forced into awkward conversation!

  • May 6, 2018 at 12:18 PM

    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, that food looks good!
    I love organizing parties where the guests get involved in making their own meal – entertainment and nourishment rolled into one 🙂
    In our case we tend to go for make-your-own-pizza nights – simple and delicious 😉
    Mrs Smelling Freedom recently posted…Save money by outsmarting your supermarket!
    Mrs Smelling Freedom recently posted…Save money by outsmarting your supermarket!

  • May 6, 2018 at 2:11 PM

    Great looking food and great looking trips you had planned Mr. Tako. Strong dividend income results as well, as always. I was interested to read your conclusion about the tobacco industry. Typically, you’ll see investors flock to high dividend payers after a dramatic price decrease (as we are seeing with consumer staples). But that wasn’t the case for the tobacco industry and I haven’t been reading too much about individuals in the community purchasing shares of PM and MO. It can’t be the best sign for the industry. I decided to hold off as well. Congrats again on another strong month!


  • May 6, 2018 at 8:47 PM

    You’re making me hungry, despite that I just ate like an hour ago. 🙁

    Sushi parties are the best. You can also try dumpling party or pierogi. Yum yum yum!

    Awesome month when it comes to spending I think, especially after you take out the mortgage and childcare amount. Sucks that you guys got into an accident though.

    And manufactured spending is awesome, especially when you’re getting credit card rewards bonus at the end.

    • May 7, 2018 at 11:47 PM

      Yeah, we do dumpling and egg roll parties occasionally too! The more hands wrapping, the better!

  • May 7, 2018 at 12:15 AM

    The sushi party is a great idea that I will have to try. I love snoqualmie falls. I took my boys there a while back and we hiked down to the lower viewing spot along the river. Great inexpensive day trip for Puget Sounders. I’m incredibly impressed with your $54k in dividends last year. How many years did it take to build that dividend portfolio? I’m at $1500 per year I get discouraged that my annual dividend amount grows so slowly. But most of my stocks and etf’s pay less than 3%. Oh well.

    • May 7, 2018 at 11:46 PM

      How many years? Hmm, about 12-14 years I guess. If you check out my dividend history, there’s been big blips over the years. Some up and some down. On year we even passed 100k in dividends.

      I feel like $53k-ish is pretty sustainable now though.

    • May 7, 2018 at 11:44 PM

      Believe it or not, Costco usually has the most affordable tuna around… but it isn’t always good enough for sushi. You kinda have to pick and choose.

      For other kinds of fish, we have a local Japanese market that carries sushi-grade cuts. It’s super expensive so we don’t typically buy a lot of it.

      For the shrimp, I usually just go with your garden variety farmed-and-frozen shrimp from Thailand or Vietnam.

  • May 7, 2018 at 6:10 AM

    I like the idea of breaking out net expenses from core expenses. Seattle is an awesome place to live, but you’re right, it certainly isn’t cheap. I haven’t been to Snoqualmie Falls in who knows how long, but it really is a gorgeous spot.

    • May 7, 2018 at 6:35 AM

      finally someone not paying attention only to the food part!

    • May 7, 2018 at 11:41 PM

      It had been the same for me. They did a renovation of the touristy areas a few years back. It’s totally different now.

  • May 7, 2018 at 10:51 AM

    You are killing me Tako. I am trying hard (HARD!) to get under 200 pounds and you post all these delicious food pics. And I LOVE sushi.

    You are doing great on your core budget items. I spend about that much as a single. Clearly, I have room to improve.

    I do finally appear to have gotten the knack of growing tomatoes. I’ve killed dozens of plants the last 5 years. This year I have to bush style that are fruiting out nicely. A cherry tomato plant I managed to over water and kill of is sprouting back from the roots. And some of the underdeveloped fruit that I planted from same is also sprouting and starting to move beyond the seed leave stage. I’m hopeful for garden fresh tomato served with lemon pepper, cayenne, and olive oil.

    Also, I am human or cephalopod and have checked the appropriate box.
    Financial Velociraptor recently posted…Covered Call Michael Kors (KORS)

    • May 7, 2018 at 11:40 PM

      Ah…sorry FV! We love sushi too!

      And we love growing fresh tomatoes… but it’s such a pain to grow them here. We just have the wrong climate for it. They really need a greenhouse in this part of the world. I bet in Texas they really thrive.

  • May 8, 2018 at 10:50 PM

    Mmm that’s a great idea, a sushi party. The other day I was lazy and wanted to make an onigiri but couldn’t’ bother folding it (or attempted but it did not look very good). Then I just put canned tuna + mayo + a bit of soy sauce and dumped it on some calrose rice and added some strips of seaweed and it tasted great. Perfect for when I have a craving of sushi but not wanting to get takeout.

    I am one of the unpopular few who added some MO shares to my portfolio 🙂
    GYM recently posted…GYM Net Worth Update: May 2018 +0.7%

  • June 13, 2018 at 11:04 AM

    New follower/reader here. Curious as to how you cover healthcare/insurance? I’m not seeing it on any of the monthly expenses?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge
Mr. Tako Escapes