It seems like the older I get, the faster time passes. January went by in the blink of an eye! One minute it was New Year’s Eve, and now… mere minutes later, it’s February!
How the hell did that happen?
Perhaps this is for the best though — being busy doesn’t give us much of an opportunity for wild and crazy spending. Beyond the mortgage, food, utilities, and daycare expenses we didn’t spend a lot of money in January…
Expenses For January
Expenses for January totaled $5561.60, which isn’t terribly unusual compared to our last few months of spending — which includes higher monthly daycare costs. Outside of our optional daycare costs, core expenses totaled $3426.60.
Here’s the category breakdown:
Fuel and Utilities were slightly higher in January — probably due to the colder temperatures we experienced in January. Colder temps mean higher heating costs in the Pacific Northwest.
Food spending was right in-line with our target – $500 a month. Besides food, this spending also included more Eneloop batteries from Costco.
The month of January included the usual abundance of fantastic food — my Pho recipe, Shrimp Phad Thai (recipe coming soon), Slow-cooker Chicken Tacos, a Surprising side-dish, Butter-Chicken curry, Rice-cooker lentils, Agedashi Tofu, and many more!
We love to eat delicious food, and January was no exception. $500 can go an incredibly long way when you do most of the cooking yourself.
The Other category had a couple interesting things going on in January. First, my driver’s license needed to be renewed in January. The renewal cost was $27.
Second, apparently we were overcharged for a dental bill last year. The difference was returned to us in January in the form of a check. (Yay!)
Being the big spender that I am, I deposited the check and promptly forgot about it.
We also took the kids to our local pool. For $8 it makes for cheap entertainment for the kids.
Dividends For January
Dividends for January amounted to $4,048.16. This more than covers our core expenses. Please remember, we’re only counting dividends from our taxable portfolio here. Dividends in our tax deferred accounts are reinvested.
Compared to last year, our dividend income appears to be $337 lower. But this lower income is unintentional.
In 2016 one of our preferred share issues was redeemed. This resulted in the lost $337 in January. But the funds from the preferred redemption were already re-invested last year. The new investments pay-out on different months (i.e. NOT January).
In other words, our income wasn’t really lower, it’s just been shifted to a different month. We expect the same great dividends (and more) this year.
Our dividend goal for 2017 is to increase our dividend income by 10% to $53,000 — partially from dividend growth and partially by investing new capital.
So far in 2017, we haven’t received any dividend increases, but I expect several increases in the following months.
Next, let’s see how we’re doing on that “investing of new capital”…
Why We Didn’t Invest In January
Despite our plan to invest $80,000 of new capital in 2017, we didn’t make any investments in January.
Mainly, because of the election. No doubt as you may have heard, a new president was recently sworn in. While this is not a political blog, we’d be foolish to believe the investment climate won’t change in response to the political environment. It will.
Just like living organisms, investments have to adapt to a changing climate. This change will create new winners and losers. Unfortunately that’s not going to be an easy thing to predict.
This might mean new winners in the domestic energy industry, or lower corporate taxes. There’s also a lot of talk about protectionism and new trade barriers. How will it turn out? Who knows! Volatility is going to be a popular word in 2017.
I expect a large amount of stock price volatility this year, as cautious investors (like myself) take stock of the changes. While generally frowned upon by most investors, I see volatility as a positive thing. It creates opportunity for long term investors.
So we decided to wait out January. Caution is the better part of valor, as they say. Thus far, a little caution seems like a wise decision. The new administration seems quite serious about following through on their campaign promises.
Now, we just have to pick all those winners and losers.