After a scary couple of months with some massive overspending, it’s finally safe to say things are “getting back to normal” for the Tako family. August was all about optimizing our lifestyle in our new home. We started turning the screws, and fine tuning our fiscal machine.
Now that the massive moving costs are out of the way, our household expenses are finally starting to become (a little) more predictable. We’re beginning to optimize travel routes, learning where to shop (and when), and even modifying our food menu a little to match which goods are more affordable locally.
It takes awhile, and there’s still plenty of work to be done, but I think we’ve made good strides adapting to our new home in Arizona. Not all humans adapt to change easily, but performing this optimization is key to getting our expenses back under our dividend income umbrella.
Read on to find out exactly how we did in August!
Dividend Income In August
Dividend income in August was good, adding up to $1,830. While certainly not the massive income levels we saw back in June, that’s still a good month of income. Hey, I’ll take it!
As you can see in the table below, our dividend income varies significantly from month-to-month.
This payout variability is expected of course, and just the nature of how dividend payments arrive. Most companies pay out dividends quarterly, with the bulk of payments arriving in March, June, September, and December.
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.
It’s definitely something that takes some “getting used to”, but even after years of living this way I still breath a sign of relief when the big quarterly dividend payments arrive.
Expenses in August totaled $4,136. This is a much more reasonable amount than we’ve seen in many months, and a lot of this has to due with the fact that our move to Arizona is now complete. We also sold our house in Washington, so no more double payments!
Here’s the breakdown of monthly expenses by category:
Grocery spending in August was a reasonable $519. When we lived in Washington, we averaged around $500 per month for groceries. I consider this amount pretty good.
How did we go from spending $1,248 in July to $519 in August? This is the fiscal optimization I was talking about. Knowing where to shop is important, as well as how to get good deals! In August, I worked hard on being much more careful with our grocery spending. It translated into good improvements, but there’s more work to be done.
Simple, affordable, homemade food was on the menu — like this gyro plate and homemade tzatziki sauce. It turned out great!
Thai Red curry also made an appearance in August. It’s one of my favorite affordable meals, and it’s always greeted with enthusiasm at our dinner table. I don’t make it super spicy for the kids, but it’s still delicious!
Modifying our menu also played a role in lowering our grocery expenses. In the past we’ve eaten more fish and seafood, but that’s less available and more expensive here. Occasional bargains can be found however, like this mackerel we found at a very good price.
Obviously the typical Japanese groceries we used to find back in Washington are a bit harder to find here, but the local asian grocery store is still fairly well stocked with gyoza, miso, and other Japanese home favorites.
Clearly I still have plenty of work to do in order to get our monthly budget down, but I’m confident I’ll figure it out in time.
Fuel spending on gasoline this month was $129. This is a normal monthly amount to spend on gasoline for us, but the interesting thing to note here is that we’re driving more in Arizona (aka more miles).
So why has our fuel spending remained about the same, despite more miles traveled? Did our cars suddenly get more efficient?
Nope! Gasoline is (roughly) $1 per gallon cheaper here than in Washington! This cheaper fuel allows us to drive further on a dollar’s worth of gasoline!
Finally, no mortgage and rent due at the same time! We only had to pay rent in August, and this was $2200. No mortgage! This will go up slightly next month due to some required liability insurance, but it won’t be a significant change (around $13).
Personally, I’m very thankful to not have to pay for two houses at the same time anymore. This was very expensive experience, and I don’t recommend it to anyone.
(FYI: I didn’t *plan* to pay for two houses at the same time during our move, but the housing market had other ideas. It took much longer than we expected to sell our house.)
Internet expense in August was $29.99. This is for 200Mbit down and 14 Mbit up service. Our normal amount is $39.99, but due to the machinations of the way we’re billed for cable internet, it was $10 cheaper this month. Next month it should be back to our regular amount of $39.99.
Mobile phone spending in August was $0. Yes, I really mean $0!!! Our low phone spending is a choice we make.
We choose to use a pre-paid mobile service, and pay for our mobile phone service only once a year. We did this in May, and you won’t see mobile phone spending again until next year. (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. 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 August was a rather high $498. I attribute this amount to high utility set-up costs in Arizona. Unfortunately, utilities like to charge deposits and non-refundable ‘set-up’ fees for starting new service. These ‘startup fees’ are mostly ridiculous (as if punching your name into a database has a big setup fee), but we have no choice but to pay them. In most cases, a technician didn’t even come out to the house.
Oh well! Here’s the breakdown of our utility bills this month:
- Gas bill – $50.40
- Electricity bill – $172.93
- Water bill – $247.69
- Final energy bill at the old house – $26.91
The setup fees and deposits for the gas, electric, and water amounted to $258, so in reality our utility bills were only $240 this month. That’s a much more reasonable amount!
Insurance spending in August was $308. This was a new 6-month car insurance policy. Normally we wouldn’t have an auto insurance payment until October, but our old insurer does not write auto policies in Arizona. Thus, our recent move required a new auto insurance policy. This amount is for two cars for 6 months.
I expect to see a small refund from our old auto insurer, but the check has yet to arrive.
This is a new category this month! For clarity’s sake I though it might be helpful to break-out how much we’re spending on our kids each month. This might include clothes, school fees, activity fees, toys, games, birthday presents, and the like.
For August, kid expenses were $270. This was primarily two fees – $40 for school fees, and $23o for after school activities.
‘Other’ spending was $190. This category is typically where I put spending that doesn’t fit into any of the other categories, and in August ‘Other was primarily the motor vehicle registration for one car ($139), emission testing for two cars ($24.50), and a couple of small purchases from Home Depot.
Cumulative Expenses For 2022
Total accumulated spending for the Tako family in 2022 is $58,241. This is a large amount of money, but I blame the increased spending primarily on home selling expenses (painting, a new water heater, home staging, etc.), as well as moving expenses.
Moving is NOT cheap, and I recommend anyone looking to engage in geo-arbitrage really examine the cost of moving carefully. For a number of reasons, our move ended-up being far more expensive than predicted.
Here’s the breakdown of our YTD expenses by month:
Clearly, I started “righting the ship” in August, and I hope I’m able to maintain this trend for the rest of the year. Last year our dividend income was $63k, and I’d like to keep our total spending under our dividend income during a down-market environment.
Unfortunately I’m not positive I’m going to achieve that goal in 2022. Moving is just too expensive!
After the recent declines in the stock market in July, I started to feel that certain stocks were becoming affordable again. At least affordable from my value-oriented point of view. In a flurry of activity, one morning in August I put in a series of orders for stocks I’ve been wanting to acquire for months now.
It seemed like a good time to put money into stocks.
Unfortunately those stock purchase orders were never filled because almost immediately thereafter stock prices started increasing again! Oh well! That’s just how it goes sometimes. I set the orders as “good until canceled”, so at any time if stock prices decline again I might just get a chance to see a few of those orders filled.
That said, I think the stock market has probably chased off the bears for awhile — Inflation might be starting to get under control, gas prices are more reasonable, COVID is hardly in the news anymore, and employment is still very high.
Also, I think investors are becoming more realistic about today’s stock market. I see fewer and fewer headlines promoting investing in unprofitable and speculative tech stocks as a path to millions.
Has sanity officially returned? If it has, that can only be a good thing for all investors.
That’s it for August! Thanks for reading!
[Image Credit: MechanicalCaveman]