Is January over already? Some months seem to pass by faster than others, and this January feels like it sped by at light speed. Like most winter months, life was pretty quiet here in the Tako household. We stayed indoors much of the time, avoiding the cold and wet weather. Our activities for the month included plenty of book reading, watching movies, and playing board games with the kids.
Supplemented with a few pleasant walks around our neighborhood when the weather permitted of course!
That might sound a little boring to the folks hitting the slopes at fancy resort ski areas like Aspen or Whistler, but I can guarantee I spent less and didn’t mangle up any limbs or joints in the process.
Meanwhile, I sat back and did what I always do with my investments — Watch the dividends appear in my bank account, and verify that our investments still compounded at good rates of return.
Dividend Income In January
January was also a pretty quiet month for dividend income. Dividend income for the month totaled $1,189. Nothing too crazy, but I’m happy to pocket another $1k of passive income, even during an ‘off’ month.
Compared to last year (January 2021), our dividend income grew by by 32%. That’s a very reasonable increase, and due primarily to some stocks we purchased last year that pay out reasonable dividends in January.
Since this is the beginning of 2022, there isn’t a whole lot of dividend history to report:
Compared to the dividends we received in December 2021, this was a slow month, and that’s perfectly OK! It’s entirely expected because dividend income is not a smooth income source. It arrives in fits and starts.
Some months (like this January) are just a trickle of income, and other months (like December) the passive income stream is a veritable river of cash.
Most dividend payments occur quarterly, with the bulk of our dividend payments arriving in March, June, September, and December. These ‘flush’ months more than make up for slow months like January. We also keep plenty of cash on-hand to pay our day-to-day expenses.
Expenses for the month of January came in higher than usual at $4,412. This was unusually high spending for us, primarily because of some new insurance expenses, a larger than usual utility bill, and a few annual expenses. You can learn more about these items in the sub-sections below.
Here’s the breakdown of our January expenses by category:
Grocery spending returned to normal in January, with a monthly grocery spend of $460. Normally we spend around $500 per month in groceries, so this month’s amount is right in line with what I would expect. After a very expensive grocery bill in December, this was good to see.
I changed very little about our grocery spending in January, we simply splurged a little less, and buckled down on making sure we took full advantage of weekly sales and coupons. The effect was a lower grocery bill, which I’m happy about.
And what delicious dishes did we eat this month? Plenty!
One of my favorites this month is Kai kra pao (with fried egg). It’s a Thai stir fry dish that happens to be one of my favorites.
As usual, we ate mostly at home this January, which means I do a lot of cooking. This homemade pizza is a good example of a January meal made at home!
I also took the opportunity to make a classic “spicy chicken soup” recipe I’ve been making since my college years! Topped with green onions, crispy bacon bits, and sesame seeds, it’s a treat for the taste buds!
We don’t stick to any one cuisine type in our household, but a large number of the dishes do seem to fall under “Japanese fusion”, like this chicken teriyaki with pumpkin soup…
Another favorite Japanese dish this month was “Ochazuke” with salmon. With ochazuke, tea is typically poured over the rice. It’s a bit like porridge (sort of), only tastier.
And finally, this “hayashi rice” was another yummy meal we ate this January. I would describe it as being similar to beef stew in flavor. Typically it’s served over rice.
Well, what do you think? Did we get our money’s worth this month? I think we ate extremely well on $460!
Fuel spending in January was $86. This amount was 2 fill-ups of gasoline for our cars. This is a very typical amount of fuel spending for us during these COVID times, and I don’t expect to see any big shifts as long as we’re staying at home.
Mrs. Tako and I don’t do a lot of driving during the day, and I try to limit my daily driving to almost zero. I try to walk whenever possible, and this helps keep our fuel spending low.
As usual, our single largest monthly expense is our home mortgage. This amounted to $2,313 in January. This mortgage amount includes interest, principal, insurance, and taxes.
Depending upon where you’re from, this might seem like a lot, or a little for a place to live. In my view, housing is extremely expensive here in the Seattle area. Most single family homes in our area sell for over $1 million dollars!
While technically we could pay-off our remaining mortgage at any time, we’ve chosen to retain the money and hunt for better investments instead. So far this has proven to be a very effective strategy. U.S. stock markets have returned far more than our home equity during the life of our mortgage. I hope this continues.
Internet expense for the month was $45. This is the regular amount we pay every month for 100Mbps cable internet from Comcast (our local cable broadband provider).
For the price, it’s OK, but I just heard that Comcast will be raising prices in 2022. Dang inflation! While there are certainly faster and slower internet packages available, we’re pretty happy with the speeds and service we’re getting. I hope the price doesn’t go up too much in 2022.
Mobile phone spending in January was $0, once again. Yes, $0!!!
This might seem crazy to some people, but we choose to pay our mobile phone service once a year. We last did this May of 2021, and it amounted to $34.50 for our two phones. (Note: This low cost service does not have a data plan)
When we need a data plan (such as during a vacation), we use Tello. Pre-paid data plans from Tello are an extremely low cost way to get one. Sometimes as low as $5 per month (with 2 gigs of LTE data)!
If you’d like to a similar low-cost plan — watch the Tello website for promotions. Tello seems to run a promotion every couple of months, and 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 January was $453. This was an unusually large amount of utility spending, which included a bi-monthly water bill ($253), and a monthly electricity/gas bill ($200).
Energy usage was much higher in January, primarily because of lower temperatures compared to last year. We had a cold spell in January, and it cost quite a bit more to heat our home. Water usage remained roughly the same year-over-year.
Insurance costs of $427 in January were a new one — Long term care insurance was initially mandated by the State of Washington. We opted to go with a private insurer, instead of the state plan. This ended up costing us more than necessary, because at the very last minute Washington delayed the long term care insurance requirement until July 2023. Aaaarrgh!
We’re working on getting this amount refunded, but the insurance company is very slow to respond. (No surprise there!)
Other spending in January was $626. This amount is somewhat higher than usual, primarily because I purchased some new contacts from Costco ($201) and our annual HOA dues ($200) needed to be paid.
Here’s the breakdown of our “Other” spending in January:
- $201 — New contacts from Costco.
- $200 — HOA dues.
- $112 — Swimming lessons for Tako Jr. #2.
- $68 — Two certified birth certificates for our kids.
- $11 — Gift for a family friend.
- $34 — New batteries for the kid’s new Christmas toys.
Cumulative Expenses For 2022
As this is only the first month of 2022, our cumulative spending for the year isn’t yet very high at $4,412.
As the year 2022 progresses, I expect our spending will increase above and beyond last year’s average monthly spending of $4,075. Why, you ask? There’s a bunch of maintenance work I need to get done on our home this year. Specifically, our house needs a new water heater, and the outside of the house needs a fresh paint job. Those items will be very expensive, and I expect our annual spending will approach (and possibly exceed) $60,000 in 2022. Ouch!
Anybody know a house painter in the Seattle area that works for cheap?
January 2022 Investing Update
The quiet month continued on the investing front at well. We made no purchases or sales of investments in January. The stock market was declining in January, and I was content to sit back and watch from the sidelines. We’re still a LONG ways from bargains being available on the stock market! No point in getting excited yet!
That said, if the stock markets finally decline far enough, I have several stocks on my “watch list” that I’m ready and waiting to buy.
Right now, I’m content to sit quietly and watch Mr. Market’s erratic chaos.
That’s it for January! Thanks for reading everyone!
[Image Credit: Flickr]