July 2019 Expenses And Dividend Income

Whoa!  It’s already the middle of August and I’m just getting around to posting July’s numbers?  Sorry folks!  It’s been that kind of summer!

I’ve been busy hanging-out with the kids a lot this summer, and July in particular was filled with a lot of fun family activities at very affordable prices…

So what does a financially independent family do for fun in the summer?

Well, in July we took advantage of the kids bowl free program to take the kids bowling for the first time.  While not completely free (we still had to rent shoes), the whole family was able to spend a couple of hours bowling for only $16 (shoe rental was $4/pair).  Not free, but cheaper than a movie.

kids bowl free

While our bowling scores are nothing to brag about, I think the most important part of the whole activity was some low-cost summer fun for the whole family.  Both kids really enjoyed the experience.

bowling 2

Inspired by this low-cost entertainment, I set-out to finally figure out how to get free tickets to other entertainment venues in our area via our library.  This activity ticket program is something I’ve always heard about, but never managed to get free tickets before.  Until this July.

The first time I checked-out the website, I was discourage — no tickets were available. But after speaking to a kind local librarian, I learned enough tricks about how the ticket system worked to score us a free family pass to the Seattle Aquarium.  Frugal win!

Seattle Aquarium1

We made a day-trip out of it.  Keeping with the frugal theme, we packed a lunch, and rode the bus downtown to the aquarium.  We even managed to skip all the lines by flashing our fancy printed pass.  I felt like a rock star, but the real star of the aquarium was a Giant Pacific Octopus…  I believe the aquarium calls him Sam.  He’s huge.

octopus 1

The Seattle Aquarium is OK, but I really think it’s over-priced for the what you get.  For a family like ours, tickets would have cost $91.80.  That’s too much!  I much prefer paying $0.


Dividend Income In July

July is not typically a big dividend month for our portfolio, but we still managed to collect $1,860 in dividend income.  This income is entirely passive, as we do nothing (other than making the initial investment) to collect it.

Year-over-year our dividend income has grown by 13.8%!  This growth comes primarily from two sources — regular dividend increases and from newly invested money (i.e. from dividends, or cash in our accounts).

cumulative dividend income july 2019

For the year so far, we’re received $30,335 in dividends.  That should put us right on track to meeting our dividend growth goals for 2019.

Overall, I’m happy with this income trajectory — Our annual dividends are now approaching median household income levels!

(Note: I do not include income from our retirement accounts in these updates.  We aren’t touching those accounts right now.  These numbers are just dividends from assets in our taxable accounts!)


July Expenses

Our spending in July amounted to $5,235.  This was a very expensive month for us!  Generally, our expenses remain close to our long-term averages, but our ‘Other’ expenses were quite high (more on this later).

expenses by category July 2019


First off is food.  In July we spent $554, which is slightly higher than our average of around $500 per month.  We had a couple of big “stock up” grocery store trips that might account for the higher than average spending, but July’s spending felt about the same as usual.

Does spending only $500 per month mean we’re eating rice, beans, and ramen every meal?  Heck no!  Personally, I feel like we eat very well on only $500/month.

What did we eat?  All kinds of things!

For example. I practiced making different Thai curries in July.  I’ve been trying to improve my Thai recipes lately.  Here’s a Panang curry I made one night.  There’s chicken, Chinese eggplant, and broccoli in there (hard to tell from the photo).  It turned out pretty good, and I think I’ve stepped up my Thai curry game quite a bit.

panang curry

While I was on this Thai food kick, one night I decided to make mango and coconut sticky-rice for dessert.  If you’ve never tried this before, it’s a delicious Thai dessert!

mango and sticky rice

Normally I’m not that into desserts.  Being the main chef in the family, I’m always trying to find ways to get more vegetables into our diet.  One night I got a wild-hair and decided to learn how to make Vietnamese spring rolls (sometimes called salad rolls or ‘summer’ rolls).  It seemed like a great way to bring more veggies into our diet, and they’re much healthier than the fried variety of roll.

spring rolling

Fresh spring rolls are one of my favorites — We load ours up with lettuce, shrimp, fresh basil, mint, carrots, cucumbers, onions, green onions, cilantro, and bean vermicelli noodles.

spring rolled

One of the great things about working with this many fresh ingredients — it’s absurdly easy to whip-up other dishes quickly.  Take for example this Yum Woon Sen (Thai Glass Noodle Salad) that I made from exactly the same ingredients.

(This is what leftovers look like at our house.)

glass noodle salad

Mrs. Tako even got into the cooking game in July and made a Japanese cold noodle dish for us — It’s called Hiyashi chūka.  It’s kind of like a cold version of ramen, and it’s great on a hot summer day.


Speaking of hot summer days — it finally got warm enough here that we started making smoothies.  Somehow we had a ton of dragon fruit in the freezer and mango’s were super cheap…. so we made mango-dragon fruit smoothies.

dragonfruit smoothie

If we’d gone to one of those chain smoothie shops we’d have easily paid $3-$4 for each of these, but instead we made them at home for about $0.25 each.



In July, we spent $118 on fuel.  This is a pretty normal amount for fuel usage, and we average pretty close to $120 every month.

Even though Tako Jr. #1 and I are riding our bikes as much as we can this summer, I’ve been (used) car shopping lately and this requires a bunch of extra driving around to look at cars.

If it wasn’t for all that extra driving, our fuel spending would have come in a little lower this month.


Mortgage & Childcare

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

Unlike many families however, these expenses are optional for us.  Using spare cash we 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 they provides us.  On one hand, not paying off the mortgage means having plenty of spare cash to invest (should good opportunities arise).  On the other hand, Tako Jr. #2 also gets to attend his language immersive daycare (It’s a completely non-English daycare).

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



Internet expense for July was $49.95.  This is the normal amount we pay for “60 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up” cable internet through Comcast.

While some families have much faster internet service, I don’t see the point.  These speeds are plenty fast for our purposes.  If anything, I might consider going to a cheaper package if Comcast ever stopped letting us renew at the same low price.  For the past two years our monthly internet cost has remained the same.



Utilities in July amounted to $401.  This amount includes three utility bills:

  • Bi-monthly water bill – $245.09
  • Monthly power/gas bill – $53.60
  • Bi-monthly garbage bill – $103.15

Normally we don’t have all three utility bills hitting on the same month, but July was a little more expensive than usual because we paid all three in the same month.



Our monthly insurance bill totaled $0 again in July.  Whenever possible, we try to pay the entire year all in one go, to lower the cost.  For example, our car insurance is paid once per year.  This is a large expense, but most insurance companies give significant discounts for doing it this way — so it’s actually cheaper than paying monthly.

Our last big insurance bill was back in October 2018.

(For the curious: We do have home-owners insurance.  It’s included in our mortgage, but I don’t normally break that number out here in the insurance section.)



The ‘Other’ category had unusual high spending in July, at $416.  What did we spend all of that on?  Some of it was just entertainment, but other expenses were a little more necessary than others.  Here’s the breakdown:

  • Bowling for the whole family – $16
  • Pizzas for a friend who broke his collar bone and couldn’t cook – $49.52
  • Vehicle Licensing and Emission Inspection – $97.75
  • Legal fees to draw up our Wills – $175.
  • Misc. household item from Target – $3.33
  • Additional swimming lesson fees – $75


Cumulative Expenses For 2019

For the year so far, the Tako family has spent $33,777.  Outside of our mortgage and childcare, we’ve only spent $8272 so far this year.  I think that’s pretty good!  Those numbers might seem really large to some people, but it’s important to remember that we live in a high cost of living area (a Seattle suburb).

Conversely, if you live in San Francisco or NYC, these numbers might seem absurdly low.  Context is everything I guess.

Most people that live in our area spend considerably more, so I’m pretty happy with this level of spending.

net expenses July 2019

July Investing Updates

July was relatively quiet on the investing front, just like June.  I didn’t buy or sell any shares in our portfolio.  Family time took up a huge chunk of my time, but I did find the time to write a few options:  One call option on CVX shares, two put options on DFS shares, and one put option on LUV shares.

All of these options will expire in August.  I don’t want to give any premature results — but so far the July version of this little option writing experiment is going well.  If my luck holds, these options will generate $512 of income.

As I’ve discussed in previous months, my option writing is mostly an experiment.  I’m doing this to force myself to learn a little about the subject.  I’m a big believer in “learning by doing”, and this experiment is just me sticking my toe in the option-world here, to learn a little.

Maybe I’ll learn enough to add a new tool to my investing arsenal.  If not, I’m not risking huge amounts of capital.  So far I’ve been pretty lucky without any big losses, but his luck might not last forever.  So, I’m actively trying to limiting the bets I make in order to keep the potential for losses low.

Wish me luck!


20 thoughts on “July 2019 Expenses And Dividend Income

  • August 17, 2019 at 5:48 AM

    Nice Tako

    Another great month. Solid dividend income to boot.

    That is so cool about your library program. I know ours do events at the library but didnt know about tickets for stuff outside of them. That is something im going to look into more.

    As always your cooking looks fantastic.
    keep it up!

  • August 17, 2019 at 11:46 AM

    Re: utilities. You don”t have natural gas service? You write that all three don’t hit in the same month. However if 2 are bimonthly & 1 is monthly, won’t all 3 be due in the same month every other month or 6 times per year (50% of the time).

    • August 17, 2019 at 12:21 PM

      Thanks for your questions Dan. Natural gas is part of our power bill, as its provided by our local power utility.

      As far as timing of the bills goes, you’d think it would work out exactly like you described. Oddly, because of the vagaries of ‘time in the mail’ and the ‘time when we pay’, it very rarely turns out this way.

  • August 19, 2019 at 6:43 AM

    Looks like a great month and I am looking forward to hearing more about your options experiment as well Mr Tako. I love Vietnamese spring rolls and once I figured out how to handle rice paper without it sticking everywhere they became easy too. Yum

    • August 19, 2019 at 10:31 PM

      I found that laying things out on a bamboo cutting board worked really well. Plastic might work just as well too.

  • August 19, 2019 at 7:14 AM

    It’s great that you can get passes from the library. I think we only have museum passes at our library and my son isn’t too interested. The food looks great, as usual. We haven’t made fresh rolls in a long time. I’ll see if I can pick up the ingredients.
    I’d like to read more about option writing. One of my friends is doing that to support his ER. Is it sustainable?

    • August 19, 2019 at 10:30 PM

      Based on what I know, it seems to be sustainable. But you have to pay attention though. It’s not a buy and ignore kind of investment that so many people seem to desire these days. Market volatility and market shifts can really throw things in the wrong direction.

  • August 19, 2019 at 8:04 AM

    Hi Mr Tako,

    Very nice food as usual. Another day I was watching some Chef’s challenge on Netflix and the Vietnamise cuisine was the selected. The winner of the day cooked one version of the Vietnamese spring rolls using lettuce instead of rice? based to roll the ingredients. Also the nuoc cham using caviar lemon received good Feedback.

    Good luck with the Options. I’m pretty much like you on the “learning by doing” and this year I’m as well selling some puts on stocks that I would like to own (CVS, ABBV, CSCO and SKT). Unfortunately got assigned in some, and now I started selling covered calls.

    All the best.


  • August 19, 2019 at 11:40 AM

    Wow what a solid spending month. We just finished a move and have been basically lighting money on fire! I am hoping things slow down by mid to end of September

    • August 19, 2019 at 2:13 PM

      Yep, I hear you! Moves are expensive! Best of luck in September.

  • August 19, 2019 at 1:32 PM

    Love the picture of the Octopus. You run into the same problem with zoos. We went to the nearby zoo and it was going to be a little over $90 for a family of 4, but it was only a $100 at the time for a family season pass. We bought the pass and then said this year we are going to try and go to the events like boo at the zoo to get our money’s worth. Free is better, but I’m not one willing for my kids to have no experiences if it isn’t free.

    Looks like you’re doing great on your financial plan. I also saw you spent $175 on wills. The price seems like a do it yourself internet kit price. Be careful because some are not always compliant with state laws even though they claim to be. I always tell people if you go with something like that, take it and write another copy of it in your own handwriting (nothing typed) then sign it and date it as well. Many states still allow holographic wills so if the one is found as invalid you have the hand written one as a backup. Also, will requirements vary from state to state so if you do move to Texas you may need to update them.

    • August 19, 2019 at 2:12 PM

      It wasn’t a DIY kit. We went to a regular law firm, but there were some discounts applied.

  • August 21, 2019 at 9:22 AM

    Nicely done on all fronts. The investing front looks to be pretty interesting in the months ahead – let’s hope your dry powder comes in handy!

  • August 22, 2019 at 3:01 PM

    My wife took the kids to the Seattle Aquarium once when I was in Seattle for work’s training. She thought it was totally over-priced compared to the one in Vancouver. The kids liked it though.

    Nicely done on the options income, over $500 is very impressive!

    • August 22, 2019 at 3:07 PM

      It’s been a long time since I’ve been to the Vancouver aquarium, but from what I remember I think I agree with you! 😉

  • August 26, 2019 at 10:36 AM

    $500 in option income for just dipping your toes…pretty impressive. Would like to learn eventually, for now I’ll focus on building more passive income sources.

  • August 31, 2019 at 3:37 AM

    What is considered a core expense?

  • October 6, 2019 at 3:40 AM

    Love to know what you using to teach yourself about options I would like to learn more but struggle to find legitimate resources…find a lot of sites that want to “teach me” that seem more of a scam.


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