July is a month of abundance. Mother nature provides an abundance of sunshine that produces wonderful fresh food, and families get to spend an abundance of time together on vacation.
The Tako family enjoyed the abundance of life in July on both fronts. We spent part of the month on vacation in Arizona, soaking up the desert sights and the abundance of bountiful sunshine. Our garden also began produced herbs, lettuce, zucchini, and other vegetables faster than we could possibly eat.
Almost every evening I was picking a decent sized cup of raspberries from the garden, which became breakfast in the morning.
To me, this is a life of abundance. Fresh delicious food. Time with friends and family. New sights, sounds, and smells from a little travel.
So what if I don’t drive a fancy new car, or own a gigantic mansion? — Life is still filled with abundance for those who wish to see it.
But what about our finances? Did the abundance of July extend to our finances?
Read on to find out!
Dividend Income In July
Dividends this July were a small but formidable $753. Yep, after mind-blowingly good dividends in June, our portfolio in July eeked out less than $1,000 in dividend income. Oh well, not every month needs to be record breaking!
Dividend income was actually 6.9% higher vs. July of 2020, which I consider very good growth considering we haven’t committed a lot of fresh capital in 2021.
Here’s the breakdown by month for 2021:
If these income swings seem extreme to you, just know that this is all part of the dividend “game”. Some months are gushers, and others are not. It’s perfectly normal when you consider how most stocks and funds make payouts.
Most dividend payments occur quarterly, with the bulk of dividend payments arriving in March, June, September, and November. This means 8 out of 12 months of the year are ‘dry’ months for dividend income (like July). It’s mostly ‘crickets’ for those months, and then comes the ‘big’ months like June — when the floodgates finally open and the cash comes gushing in.
For the year so far, we’ve collected $31,686 in dividend income, which is comfortably above our household spending for the year (more on this later).
Expenses in July totaled $5,171. This monthly total is significantly higher than what we usually spend in a given month, mostly due to higher vacation expenses.
Travel expenses were a significant factor in July, because we were still on vacation in Arizona. Our trip spanned both June and July. You can find most of those vacationing travel expenses broken-down in the “Other” category in this post, and in the June post.
Here’s the breakdown of all monthly expenses by category:
Grocery spending in July amounted to $502, which is right inline with our normal average for groceries. Some of these groceries were bought on vacation, but the bulk of this spending was groceries spent for home cooking.
What can a family of 4 eat on a mere $500/month? Practically anything we want provided we use our resources well!
My basil plants were growing like crazy in July, so I whipped-up some homemade pesto to use the excess. (If anyone is curious, I use a nut-free recipe that employs garbanzo beans!)
This pesto then got used in a delicious pesto spaghetti, using broccoli and some grilled zucchini from our garden. Talk about low cost and delicious!
July also had plenty of Mexican inspired dishes too. Nachos are always a big hit with the kids!
Of course there were tacos too! This month I tried making lime-pickled red onions as a taco topping. It turned out great, and the bright pink really makes the photo pop!
We also had “taco rice”, which is something of a Japanese-American fusion dish. Instead of toppings on a tortilla, it’s served on rice along with lettuce and cheese (in this case we used shrimp for protein). It’s a very popular dish in Okinawa.
As usual we ate plenty of Japanese meals in July. This banbanji (with dressing sauce) is a popular summer dish in Japan.
Just like last month, our fancy remen made an appearance at the table again. We sure do love this dish in the summer!
On a random cold and rainy day, I just had to make another batch of my clam chowder too (using clams from our May clam dig no less)!
And I’m still practicing my Thai dishes! I’m no expert, but I keep trying. Here’s a Thai Holy Basil Chicken dish I made in July. (Made with fresh basil from our garden no less!)
See what I mean? Plenty of delicious food on a $500 budget!
Fuel spending was higher than normal in July at $118. Under Covid-19, our fuel spending has been averaging below $100 per month, but this number is rising again now that we’re traveling.
During our trip to Arizona we did a lot of driving, and a bunch of this driving was done in July. Other than that we did very little driving in July… other than the occasional trip to the grocery store.
As usual, our largest single monthly expense is our home mortgage. This amounted to $2,357 in July. This includes interest, principal, insurance, and taxes. If this seems like a lot of money, please remember that we live in a very HCOL (high-cost of living) area, and real estate is extremely expensive here.
While technically we could pay-off our remaining mortgage at any time, we’ve chosen to retain all that money and hunt for better investments instead.
Home internet expense for the month was $45. This is our usual payment amount for 100Mbit cable internet service from Comcast. While there are both faster and slower packages available (as well as a cheaper), we’re still happy with the price-to-performance we’re getting with the current package.
Anything cheaper would be WAY too slow, and anything faster seems unnecessary.
Mobile phone spending in July came to $0. Yep, zero dollars! This might come as a complete shock to people who are used to spending $60 (or more) for phone service every month, but it is possible to spend $0.
We pre-pay our mobile phone service and pay only once a year. This happened back in May of 2021, and amounted to $34.50 for two phones, and $8.50 for two months of a Tello data-plan.
The Tello data-plan was used during our summer vacation. The serviced worked fine and provided some very low cost mobile data during our trip to Arizona. Normally we don’t need a data plan (I’m almost always surrounded by fast and free WiFi), but we wanted to have some mobile data during our trip. Tello was by far the cheapest MVNO that fit these very minimal needs.
If you’d like a similar low-cost data plan, sign-up using my referral code: p3s4bkgq to get $10 off!
Utility bills in July totaled up to $413. This amount included our water bill ($289), and our garbage/recycling/yard waste disposal ($124).
While these bills are clearly expensive, please remember that our water bill is bi-monthly, and our garbage bill is tri-monthly. Due to the nature of these bills, we won’t be seeing them again for another couple of months.
Insurance costs in July amounted to $0. This is a normal amount for us, even on vacation. I usually decline most of the additional insurance when renting a car, since our car insurance covers rental cars as well.
Our insurance expenses typically occur once per year in October, when we pay our annual car insurance bill. Yep, it’s annual.
We prefer to pay very large once-a-year insurance premiums due to the slightly lower cost (given by our insurance company) by doing it this way.
(For the curious: We do have home-owners insurance. It’s included in our mortgage, but I’m super lazy, and I don’t break that number out here in the insurance section.)
Other spending in July was a gigantic $1,735. Clearly that’s an unusually high amount, but many of the big ticket items this month were related to our Arizona family vacation.
Here’s the breakdown of all the major “Other” items in July:
- $872 – Rental car for family vacation (the Kia Sportage)
- $141 – Restaurant eating on our vacation.
- $224 – July swimming lessons for the boys.
- $392 – Tickets and fee expenses for vacation activities. (Waterparks, museums, cave tours, etc.)
- $30 – Airline checked bag fee.
- $76 – Home depot trip(s) for some home repair supplies.
Cumulative Expenses For 2021
For the year 2021 so far, the Tako family has spent a combined $28,653. That’s an average spend of $4,093 per month, which is below our average monthly dividend income for the year. (So far)
Even though our total spending is higher in 2021 due to travel expenses, we’re still spending less than our dividend income, and this positive trend should continue for the rest the year.
Keeping our spending below dividend income, means the Tako family is financially independent. (A financial status we aim to keep!)
This is the ideal of course (to have expenses 100% covered by dividends), but only time will tell if we’re able to meet my passive income goal of $62k for 2021.
The financial markets have a way of surprising everyone at times, so I’m not ready to call this one “in the bag” yet.
July 2021 Investing Update
July was another uneventful month on the investing front. We neither bought nor sold any investments in July. While doing nothing might not sound terribly exciting, it’s important to remember that excessive activity is usually hazardous to your financial health.
Typically it’s better to sit on great investments and let them compound over time. Patience is the key to winning.
But that doesn’t stop me from doing plenty of reading about investing. For example, in July I borrowed a copy of the new book “Richer, Wiser, Happier” and wrote up my no-hype review of the book.
I also did extensive research on homebuilding stocks as a potential investing idea. There are literally dozens of possible investments in the home building industry, and there appears to be significant demand for homes right now. Could it be a good investment?
I’m still researching the investment possibilities carefully. Home building is of course a very cyclical industry, and not something to jump into without a deep understanding of the industry.
That’s it for July! Thanks for reading!
[Image Credit: Flickr]