April 2019 Dividend Income And Expenses


Now that spring is here, the rain is finally starting to dry-up in the Pacific Northwest (PNW).  For all the readers that don’t live in the area, we have a very bipolar weather pattern — 4 months of constant rain and clouds in the winter, and then 4 months of absolutely no rain in the summer.

It’s a weather pattern as regular as clockwork… just like the monsoon season in other parts of the world.

Our summers tend to be fairly mild too, so most residents tend to get outdoors as much as possible in the summer.  Like last year, I’m going to be taking the whole family camping this summer.  Unlike last year however, I won’t be borrowing a tent.

riverside campsite
Our campsite along the Methow river last year.  Borrowed tent in the background.

Last year I borrowed a tent from a family member.  It was large enough for the whole family, but it was fiendishly complicated to setup.  Way too hard to setup.  It took over an hour to setup and take down by myself, so this year I resolved to find a simpler tent — even if it cost me a little money.

Almost everyone said I should go to REI to find a tent, so I packed up Tako Jr. in April, and we went tent shopping.

camper setup

Unfortunately, the REI store was a bust.  Turns out, that tent you see Tako Jr. sitting in above was the only tent available to look at in the entire store.  What’s crazy is that all the other tents were locked-up and not available for customers to actually look at.

WTF?  Well, Seattle has something of a homeless problem.  Homeless people apparently were stealing tents from REI before they started locking them up.  Now our local REI store keeps the tents permanently locked-up, and they don’t even unlock them for paying customers.

Store employees told me the only way to get a look at their tents now is to buy one online, and then set it up at home.  Argh!  What a completely wasted trip!

This just emphasizes all of the reasons why I think retail might be dead.

 

Dividend Income In April

Dividend income in April amounted to $1,881.  April was not a big dividend month, but this was expected.  March, June, September, and December are the biggest dividend months in the year.  Meanwhile, months like April tend to be much ‘dryer’ by comparison.

april 2019 cumulative dividends

For the year so far, we’ve collected $15,765 in dividends.  This is $1,860 ahead of where we were last year.  I’m fairly happy with our dividend income so far this year.  I expected there to be a little growth due to newly invested funds, and this seems to be the case.

At this rate, we should be able to reach our 2018 dividend growth goals in December.

 

April Expenses

Expenses in April amounted to $4,989.  This was higher than usual spending.  Expense came in higher due to the purchase of camping gear and booking camp sites for our upcoming summer vacation.  (More on this later.)

To this day, it still thrills me that I can book a vacation and not need to run it past ‘the boss’ first.

april 2019 expenses by category

Food

Whoa!  What the hell happened to food expenses in April?  We spent $631 on food!  After several months of spending less than $500 on food, we finally blew past our long-term average in April.  Two grocery trips in particular stand out as being very expensive — One Costco trip, and one trip to our local asian market.  They made-up half the monthly total.

Those trips were more expensive than usual because we did some restocking on meat and other high-value staples.  While we usually try to eat a low-meat diet (with a greater than average vegetable intake), we are no where near ‘zero’ in the meat department.  We just eat smaller portions of meat and less red meat.  Every once in awhile we still need to restock the freezer.

So what did I cook in April?

It started with soup.  Spring starts slowly in the Pacific Northwest, and we usually have a few cold and rainy nights in April.  Soup is always good when it’s cold, so I made bacon-cauliflower soup.  It didn’t fail to please the family.

cauliflower soup

I’ve also been on a Thai-food cooking kick lately, and have been making a ton of classic Thai recipes.  April included this carrot and chicken Thai fried rice…

thai fried rice

Mostly I cook meals from scratch just at dinner time.  For breakfast I’m usually fasting.  For lunch, I’ll eat leftovers.  There aren’t always leftovers of course.  When that happens, I throw together something quick and easy — like this “kimchi tamago gohan” with avocado…

tamago kimchi gohan

“Tamago gohan” (Egg rice) is a extremely popular breakfast or lunch dish in Japan.  With this dish, you ‘whip’ the raw egg into the rice and veggies along with soy sauce.  I like to add kimchi and plenty of green onion into mine.  It’s delicious and very simple to prepare.

While some Americans might cringe at the thought of eating raw egg, but it’s really not a problem.  Salmonella is exceedingly rare due to very good FDA sanitation rules and inspections.  Our family has eaten thousands of raw eggs like this without ill effects.

Speaking of eggs – one night I made breakfast tacos … for dinner!

breakfast taco 2

It’s sort of my take on “breakfast for dinner”.  I always like mine with plenty of homemade spicy habanero salsa (above).  Mrs. Tako doesn’t like hers quite so spicy, so she and the kids make a toned-down version.

breakfast taco

April included Japanese-style Mapo Tofu on the menu, for which I recently posted a recipe here.  My kids just love it, so I make this dish at least once a month.

mapo tofu

Fuel

Fuel spending in April totaled up to $85.  That’s about two or three fill-ups for our family car.  Not a lot of driving really.

Generally, I limit my driving to times when there’s the least amount of traffic on the streets.  Often this means in the middle of the day when everyone else is at work.  A typical shopping trip during a weekday takes half the time of a weekend trip.  There’s usually only retirees in the store at those times, and they’re relatively easy to dodge with my shopping cart.

Yet another reason why not having a job can actually save money.

 

Mortgage & Childcare

As usual, monthly mortgage and childcare expenses were our two largest expenses in March.  These two items totaled $3694.  This is the bulk of our monthly spending.

Unlike many families however, these expenses are optional for us.  Using spare cash I could easily pay-off the mortgage.  If I wanted to, I could also take our youngest son (Tako Jr. #2) out of daycare, and erase that cost too.

For now, we’ve decided to keep these two expenses because of the flexibility it provides us.  On one hand, not paying off our mortgage means we have plenty of spare cash to invest, should good investing opportunities arise.  On the other hand, Tako Jr. #2 also gets to attend his language immersive daycare (It is a completely non-English ).

Long-term, I continue to believe both expenses are good value for the money.

 

Internet

Our internet expense came in higher this month at $65 because our annual contract with Comcast expired.  I forgot this was going to happen, but a quick call to Comcast got those higher charges backed-out.  Next month our internet service costs will be $35, and then resume for the remainder of the year at $49.95/month.

If you’re curious — We have cable-internet service through Comcast.  The speeds our $49.95/month buys is 60Mbps down and 5 Mbps up cable internet.  That’s probably a little faster than we need, but the price of our internet service hasn’t gone up in two years.  I’d call that a win.  All due to the power of a phone-call.

 

Utilities

OK, this category was a complete surprise to me.  For some reason we had zero utility bills in April.  At first I thought I might have missed a bill — but it’s actually correct.  We still had a slight balance with the power company, and none of our other utilities billed in April.  (They bill every-other month.)

April just lined-up perfect. We had $0 in utility bills.

 

Insurance

Our monthly insurance bill totaled $0 again in April.  Whenever possible, we try to pay insurance premiums annually.  We pay the entire year all in one go.  For example, our car insurance is paid once per year.  It’s always a large expense, but most insurance companies give significant discount for doing it this way — so it’s actually cheaper.

Our last big insurance bill was back in October 2018.

 

Other

“Other” expenses in April were much higher than average at $513.  Most of this was paying for our summer camping trip.  For one, we reserved our campsites for the trip.  Experience has taught us we need to book early, or we end-up with not-so-great campsites.  So, we book early.

The campsite reservations added up to $117, which covers 4 nights of our 5 day family trip camping.  We’ll be camping on two different islands in the San Juan Islands. This works out to be $29.25/night after taxes.

As I mentioned earlier, we had no luck with REI and had to purchase a tent online.  When it arrived, we put it up in the kids “playroom” (really just our living/dining room).  The kids had a ton of fun setting-up and hanging-out in the tent.

little campers

What kind of tent did we get?  We went with a Alps Mountaineering Taurus 6, which we purchased off Amazon.  Unfortunately REI did not have the model we wanted with a full rainfly… so Amazon to the rescue.

Total cost for the tent was $200.19.  There are certainly much more expensive models available from both Amazon and REI, but I was looking for good value (not a indestructible tent).  I think we may have found it.

The quality seems better than your typical Coleman tent (that’s not saying much), and it’s super easy to setup (just two poles).  Oh, and it’s also quite BIG!  At 10′ by 10′ we could barely fit the tent in our living room.

new tent

This should be plenty big for the entire family to sleep in comfort.

Speaking of comfort, we decided to buy new air mattresses this year.  After last year’s camping trip, I decided my old Thermarest inflatable sleeping pad just wasn’t good enough anymore.  My old-man back was complaining after that trip.  Ouch!  I guess I’m not getting any younger.

So, we upgraded — I wanted more cushion and to be higher off the ground.  TPU air mattresses seem to be the current “best technology” for this kind of thing, but they often run into the hundreds of dollars.  Originally I priced-out a Lightspeed Outdoors TPU air mattress on Amazon for $84.

lightspeed outdoors air mattress
7 inches of ground clearance, and large enough for two people. Yet it folds-up smaller than my old Thermarest sleeping pad.  Win!

Right before I was going to hit the ‘Buy’ button, I thought of checking Costco first.  Turns out my instincts were good.  Costco is selling nearly the exact same model for $45 (in-store only).  We purchased 2 of these air mattresses for $100 after taxes.

The other major purchase for the month was equipment and supplies for our car oil change.  After being charged over $100 last time I took the car in for a “cheapo” oil-change, I vowed to do it myself next time.

To do so, there was some necessary equipment to buy (including the oil and filter).  All this totaled $92.

I saved myself a little money right out of the gate, but most of that $92 is a one-time “startup cost”.  I calculate the next time I do an oil change will only cost $50.

 

Cumulative Expenses For 2019

For the year so far, we’ve spent $18,971.  Outside of our mortgage and childcare, this means we’ve spent $4547 in 2019.  Those always seem like big numbers to me.  I always wish we could spend a little less, but this might just be an old habit from the times when we had a lot less.

Old habits die hard.  Especially the penny-pinching kind.

If those sound like very luxurious numbers to you, then you’re absolutely right.  We spend a ton of money, and have a very nice lifestyle… for which I am incredibly thankful.

april 2019 net expenses

 

April Investing Updates

On the investing front, other than watching some options I wrote in March, practically nothing happened.  Basically I just watched the market charge forward, reaching all new highs…

Sometimes that’s what it means to be a good investor — doing absolutely nothing.  Sitting around and collecting dividends when Mr. Market gets a little crazy.

Some people might attempt to time the market OR trade in-and-out of stocks/funds, but I don’t do any of this.  I simply prefer to be a very long-term buy and hold investor.  Some months this means I have no activity to report, as was the case in April.

If patience is one of the hallmarks of a good investor, then I think I did OK in April.  Most of the stocks I was buying in March went up considerably.  In other words, the good deals on all my favorite stocks dried-up.

I guess that means it’s time I start hunting for new investing ideas.

 

[Image Credit: Flickr]

16 thoughts on “April 2019 Dividend Income And Expenses

  • May 4, 2019 at 9:27 AM
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    Hi Mr Tako,

    Nice food pictures as always. The Tamago Gohan looks really good! Would you recommend some recipe in particular or I can just take one on google?

    Congrats on the fact that so far the dividends are higher than 2018. Here in Odysseus household, we had our worst month in 2019 so far, dropping our monthly avg below €1000.

    Concerning the expenses, we also had a huge increase in groceries in April, mainly driven by beer, wine and new products that we wanted to eat.

    I missed your post in March and was not aware of your put options. I started selling some puts this year as well. So far I was assigned on CVS, when the company dropped from ~US$ 66 to US$ 58. Now I’m selling calls on it. Last month I had one position on DFS as well, fortunately not got assigned.

    I wish you and family a nice summer camp. Spend time outdoor is always amazing.

    All the best.

    Cheers!

    Reply
    • May 9, 2019 at 9:27 AM
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      There’s no real recipe I use, but Google might have some good ideas for fun things to try! 🙂

      Reply
  • May 5, 2019 at 11:44 AM
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    Great food pictures. I’ll have to try the Tamago Gohan for lunch someday. I found a new brand of Kimchi at our Asian grocery store. It tastes really good, but I found out later that it was made in China. I’m not sure how much I trust food that’s made in China. I guess it’s okay.

    The tent looks awesome. San Juan Islands are great for camping. I’m sure you’ll have a ton of fun. We’re putting off any vacation planning until our condos are sold. This year, we’ll probably take day trips for the most part.

    Reply
    • May 9, 2019 at 9:29 AM
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      Hmm… kimchi made in China? I typically buy kimchi made locally. At our local asian store, they make it in house.

      Reply
  • May 5, 2019 at 2:23 PM
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    Thanks for the tip on the Lightspeed air mattress! I have been looking for something to “floor camp” at the rentals while fixing them up that would be comfortable, reasonably durable, easy to pack and inexpensive. Picked one up this morning and will test it out tomorrow night. Bonus is that it’s $9.00 less in store than shipped.

    Reply
    • May 5, 2019 at 9:42 PM
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      My pleasure! I was pretty surprised when I found that the in-store price was better than even Costco’s online price. From what I can tell, the differences between the $84 Amazon one and the $45 Costco one are pretty negligible. Worst case, if there’s a problem you always have Costco’s incredible refund policy.

      Reply
  • May 6, 2019 at 10:14 AM
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    That’s unfortunate that REI doesn’t have tents on display anymore. How are you supposed to compare the different tents if you can’t try them out? Solid dividend income as always, we may have you beat in April…although ours is in CAD and yours is in USD. :p

    Reply
  • May 7, 2019 at 7:12 AM
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    Isn’t the whole advantage of retail brick and mortar over online is that you can touch and feel the product before buying. If brick and mortar takes that advantage away then why would people want to shop in a store versus purchasing online?

    Hopefully, your city can deal effectively with the homeless problem.

    Reply
  • May 8, 2019 at 6:56 PM
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    Mr Tako –

    First, awesome on the dividend front! Great job. Further, I love breakfast tacos for dinner and am always a fan of calling the internet provider to keep your low price for an extended period. I just called my provider on Saturday – $35.00 per month for 30 mbps download speed, which suits us just fine.

    Thanks for sharing your month, I have to learn to cook better recipes

    -Lanny

    Reply
  • May 9, 2019 at 5:12 AM
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    Thanks as always for the post Mr. Taco. Does your mortgage cost include property tax?

    Reply
  • May 9, 2019 at 10:01 PM
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    First time checking out your monthly “Dividend Income And Expenses” and I like it.

    My comment are about the tent. From growing up in France, I found most outdoor gears in the US being overpriced & targeting people looking for higher end gear (which REI do a pretty good job at offering). Good news for people living in the US, Decathlon opened their 2 locations in California recently. Decathlon in the French equivalent of REI at the fraction of the cost (in my humble French opinion :D). They also offers entry level products that can let people on a budget to discover a new sport for not much.

    One example is Decathlon’s 2 seconds tent that I personally own. I love that tent as it literally take 2 seconds to setup (for more on how this work, check this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_35Tk3v-osQ). As for the cost a three persons 2 seconds tents cost $79 USD and a two persons cost $59 (product link: https://www.decathlon.com/products/2-seconds-camping-tent-3-persons). While the physical stores are only in San Francisco + Emeryville, if you manage to walk there you will be able to see it by yourself. You can also order online and return if you don’t like it as they have a one year no questions asked returned policy! (Similar to the one that REI offers).

    Reply
  • May 14, 2019 at 6:43 PM
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    I feel like I need to get our food budget in order! I think I have spent more than your family has all year in just the past 2 months! I just don’t think my family of 4 is efficient at all. The problem I have is that The Wife handles that part of our life and every time I bring it up it is like stepping on a 3rd rail

    Reply
  • May 25, 2019 at 6:36 PM
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    Curious why you don’t amortize infrequent expenses like insurance and property taxes so that it shows up like a monthly expense. Could that provide a more useful view of expenditures?

    Reply

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