First off, I need to apologize for the lateness of this post — it’s already mid-May! Sorry folks! I’m running *a little* behind schedule on the blog these days. Let’s just say I’ve been a little distracted by this whole moving process. Not only am I doing a ton of work fixing up the house, but I’m also packing up everything and putting it into boxes.
As I write this, I’m literally surrounded by a sea of boxes — ready to be put into shipping containers and then delivered into storage. It’s an exciting time, but WOW am I tired. I can’t wait until this move is done!
Meanwhile, life still has to go on — The kids need to make it to school every day, meals need to be made, and bills still have to be paid.
And how exactly did we do financially in April? Read on to find out!
Dividend Income In April
Although not usually a fantastic month for dividends, April had a total dividend income of $434. Unfortunately this dividend amount is down versus last year, primarily because I sold a REIT portfolio position late last year.
The sale was well timed, but since the dividend payouts in April tend to be small, this means our monthly dividend income was down a dramatic 56% (year over year).
Fortunately, it’s nothing to worry about! That capital has since been reinvested, and should provide similar levels of income in the following months of 2022.
Here’s the breakdown of our taxable dividend history by month:
As you can see, our dividend income is boom or bust. Feast or famine. Primarily this happens due to the irregular nature of dividend payments. Payments occur quarterly, with the bulk of our dividend payments arriving in March, June, September, and December.
As you can see in the table above, outside of those 4 main months, dividend payouts are lower.
In order to “balance out” these large dividend fluctuations, we keep plenty of cash on-hand to deal with day-to-day expenses and any emergencies that might arrive.
April household expenses totaled $7,582. As I mentioned in a previous post, this year’s expenses are going to be elevated. This is due to our cross country move, but inflation is also playing a part.
April in particular was an expensive month due to the second payment for our house painter. This expense shows up in the “Other” category, and was roughly *half* of our total monthly spending. Youch!
Here’s the breakdown of monthly expenses by category:
Grocery spending for the month came in much lower than usual at $301. In April, we really ramped up the “clean out” of the freezer and pantry in preparation for moving. Most nights we just used items from the freezer or pantry for meals, and spent less than usual.
In a normal month we typically spend around $500 on groceries, so April’s grocery spending was considerably lower.
Now that our freezer is getting empty, our meals are get down to the “last of” certain items. For example, with the last of the ground pork I made this “Thai Style” pork and broccoli stir-fry. It doesn’t really have a name (it’s not a proper Thai dish), but it tasted extremely good despite it’s ad-hoc nature.
The same goes for the last of our razor clams dug on Washington’s Pacific beaches last spring. One year later, we’re using the last of these clams by making a delicious bowl of New England Clam Chowder. Thank you clams!
Not every meal was like this of course, but the fact that we’re trying to clean out what’s in the freezer, fridge, and pantry REALLY makes a big difference in what food makes it to our table.
A meal of gyudon (Japanese style beef bowl over rice) and miso soup illustrates this principal quite well. We don’t normally make gyudon, but some ancient beef was found at the bottom of the freezer, and needed using. At least I think it was beef.
This resulted in the gyudon dish you see below.
Family favorites, (even though we’re running low on food) like this okonomiyaki always seem to find their way to our table. Why? Mostly because the kids love eating these dishes, and request them all the time!
While I will probably cook these dishes again some day, there’s going to be a long period where we go without home-cooked food. We’re going to be living off grocery store deli food, and takeout for a month or more, after the kids get out of school. This has the kids requesting their favorite “last meals”, like Japanese-style mabo tofu (recipe for this dish is here):
Eventually I think we’ll have a kitchen again (maybe by July?), but I can honestly say I don’t look forward to eating-out for the next two months. I can only eat so much fast food before I get sick of it.
Here’s hoping we aren’t homeless vagabonds for longer than that!
Fuel spending in April was considerably higher than in recent months at $154. Primarily I attribute this higher amount to elevated gas prices and somewhat more driving as the COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.
Unfortunately it’s difficult to predict what gas prices will do in the future. Will they be even higher next month? I can’t say! We can only minimize our driving (by walking and biking when possible), and driving as efficiently as possible to keep our fuel spending low.
April mortgage spending amounted to $2,313. This is our usual amount. Our mortgage typically represents our single largest monthly expense, and it includes interest, principal, insurance, and taxes.
Depending upon where you’re from, this might seem like a lot for a place to live. Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately) we purchase our home at a much lower price (and lower interest rate) than the current rates and prices available today.
This will have a large impact on our budget when we sell our home and pay-off the current mortgage. Will we have a mortgage in the future? Or will we be long-term renters? I honestly have no idea what the future might bring! It totally depends on the real estate market.
It may not be easy to purchase a new home, given the state of the market.
Rent and interest rates are rising rapidly (in most places), so I’m definitely planning on higher housing expenses in the near-term.
Internet expenses in April were $58. This amount is higher than usual, due to the ending of our old service contract. In previous years when our contract ended, I would usually sign-up for another 1 year service contract again in order to get the lowest price.
Currently we’re just paying “month-to-month”. I’m not renewing the contract because we’re moving in just a couple of months. There’s no point in signing a contract if we’re moving!
Mobile phone spending in April was $0, again. Yes, it’s really $0!!! It is not a joke! Our low phone spending is a choice we make.
We choose to use a pre-paid mobile service, and pay our mobile phone service only once a year. We just did this once again in May, and you’ll see that phone spending in my next monthly report. (Note: This cheap service does not include a data plan)
When we actually need a data plan (such as during a family vacation), we’ve used Tello in the past. Pre-paid data plans from Tello are an extremely low cost way to go. Sometimes as low as $5 per month (with 2 gigs of LTE data)!
If you’d like to find a similar low-cost plan — watch the Tello website for promotions. They seem to run new promotions every couple of months. You can then go sign-up using my referral code: p3s4bkgq to receive $10 off. (That’s basically 1-month free just for using my referral-code!
Utility spending in April was $129. This was a power and natural gas bill, which we receive monthly. The amount is slightly higher than normal for this time of year, due to strangely cold weather here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s been very cold this spring.
Normally the Pacific Northwest weather starts to warm up in the spring, but for some reason this year the weather is colder and wetter than usual. Perhaps it’s global warming, but spring definitely seems behind schedule in the Pacific Northwest.
Insurance spending in April was $0. This is a normal amount for us. Most of our insurance spending (at least for car insurance) occurs in October, due to the annual billing cycle. Instead of paying monthly, we choose to have an annual insurance bill. Believe it or not, paying annually costs less!
Not all insurance providers allow annual payments of course, but ours does!
(For the curious: We do have home-owners insurance. It’s included in our mortgage. I’m super lazy, and I don’t break that number out here in the insurance section.)
Believe it or not, “Other” spending in April was our most expensive category at $4,627. Normally the “Other” expense category is just a ‘catch-all’ for the minor expenses that don’t fit anywhere else, but in April these expenses were far from minor.
Here’s the breakdown of all “Other” expenses in April:
- $4,040 – House painting (the second payment).
- $229 – Home improvement supplies (This was several trips to Home Depot!).
- $31 – Lunch with a friend. (He helped install the new water heater, so I bought him lunch).
- $151 – Birthday sushi dinner for the kids. (They requested sushi)
- $149 – A weekly afterschool activity for Tako Jr. #2.
- $26 – Filled a small prescription.
Cumulative Expenses For 2022
Total spending for the year so far is $23,743. This was a huge jump from previous years, which I attribute to home selling expenses. In April, the biggest expense related to that process was house painting.
Here’s the breakdown of our YTD expenses by month:
I fully expect to see more of these elevated spending levels for the remainder of 2022, mostly due to our move. Some of the upcoming large expenses include — Staging costs, moving equipment costs, storage fees, travel expenses, and temporary housing costs.
Yes, moving is expensive! I don’t recommend doing it very often!!
April 2022 Investing Update
Let’s not beat around the bush — April was a rough month for the stock market. The S&P 500 was down 7.4% for the month, and 13.3% YTD. That’s not quite the definition of a bear market, but it’s getting pretty close.
And what did I do during all this market turmoil? Absolutely nothing. I was totally focused on home repairs in April. I barely looked at the markets. Meanwhile, almost every major market was having a slump.
While I was avoiding looking at my portfolio, it actually managed to earn a small gain of 2.5% for the year. That’s what I get for not paying attention! And what do I attribute to this investing success? Well, you won’t find shares of Netflix, Amazon, or Tesla in my portfolio! I may have missed the big run-ups in these stocks during 2021, but I’m also avoiding the big losses in 2022.
Why is this important in investing? Because gaining back losses is an extremely hard thing to do. For every 30% loss of the S&P500, it requires a gain of 43% for the investor back to his or her initial starting position. Don’t believe me? Just try doing the math yourself.
It’s surprising, but true! Rebuilding large losses is harder to do! This is why I completely prefer to make tiny gains during bear markets instead of big losses. Here’s hoping I can hold onto these small gains for the rest of the year!
That’s it for April everyone, thanks for reading !
[Image Credit: Flickr]