There are some months when everything in life just comes together. Income is high, spending comes in low and everyone has a ton of fun. Those months you just can’t help but say to yourself, “I’m winning at life!”
Then there are other months when the car breaks, the roof leaks, you lose your job, and the dentist sends you a big-assed bill. Those months are more like, “OMG, life is so freaking hard! I can’t make any progress!”
Yes, I’ve been there. We all have months like that, so it’s really nice to have a big cushion of assets to fall back on when life smacks you around. This is why financial independence is so freaking awesome!
Thankfully, I’m happy to report that the Tako family’s June was more of the “I’m winning at life!” variety.
The first milestone event in June was Tako Jr. #1 graduating from his language-immersion preschool. They put on a graduation ceremony for the kids and everything.
June also marked the start of summer swimming lessons for the kids. I’m happy to report that our littlest octopus has taken to the water rather successfully:
June also happened to contain the most important day of the year: Father’s Day!
I might be a little biased on the importance of the day, but I was happy to spend a quiet day with my family, riding bikes with the kids, and working on projects in the garage. Mrs. Tako even whipped up this delicious “cold noodle dish with kimchi pork” (yes, I totally made-up that recipe name):
I couldn’t have been a happier octopus. It tasted really incredible. Those fine strips of what look like noodles on top are actually egg sliced very thin. The noodle-part is actually on the bottom of the dish.
(Don’t worry folks — there’s plenty more food photos coming! Keep reading!)
Our expenses in June amounted to $5,078. This includes our mortgage ($2,180) and daycare expenses ($2,200) which made-up the vast bulk of our expenses this month.
That said, our expenses were considerably lower this month due to pre-paying a bunch of expenses back in May to qualify for a credit card reward.
Food expenses in June amounted to $171. Yes, that’s really low for a family of 4 people… and ‘no’ we didn’t start eating rice and beans every meal.
What blog do you think this is?
Our food expenses were mostly lower because we utilized prepaid gift cards to pay for roughly half of the month’s groceries.
Eating really well on a small budget is one of my BIG goals for our FIRE lifestyle. It takes some effort to make all of our meals at home, but I think June was a really successful month!
(Warning: If you get hungry looking at photos of ridiculously good food, now would be a good time to turn away)
Our fanciest meal in June was a homemade sushi night inspired by Lily@TheFrugalGene. We made smoked salmon temaki sushi.
Here’s the sushi spread:
Instead of making nigiri or rolls, we tend to make what’s called ‘temaki’ or handrolls. It’s sort of an easy DIY sushi style that even the kids can do. You make a “hand-roll” by laying it out like this:
After all the toppings are in place, you just roll-it-up. Mrs. Tako made a YouTube video that shows the process. The final result looks something like this:
Not every dish we eat at home is super-fancy of course — some nights our dinner is just a simple sandwich when I’m busy or tired.
Or, maybe it’s just a vegetarian night, and I make a simple miso soup and green salad:
Even simple homemade dishes can bring a lot of happiness to a household as long as they are well prepared.
A humble bowl of my homemade chili can be incredibly satisfying when it gushes with flavor.
One of our family favorites this month was a sausage and bean soup based on a Epicurious recipe. It’s spicy and hearty, with a touch of smoky flavor from paprika.
Other nights I prepare dishes that the kids enjoy, like spaghetti or thin crust pizza. All homemade of course.
My homemade pizza is epic. This pizza better than anything I’ve eaten from a restaurant or store. The kids absolutely love it and I can make it faster than a pizza can be delivered.
Or, maybe we make a Japanese fried chicken called ‘karaage’. The kids always love fried chicken.
And of course, there’s always plenty of tacos served in the Tako household. I like to experiment with new taco flavors and techniques. This month’s favorite was a butter-lime-chili shrimp taco.
For the Tako family, food is part of how we enjoy life and I’m always aiming for delicious, cheap, and easy to make.
What do you think? Was it a successful month in the food department?
Fuel amounted to $115 in June, which is a pretty typical amount despite rising gas prices. We took a road trip near the end of the month, which included one additional fill-up. Other than that, this was a very normal driving month for the Tako family.
Our Internet expense was $0 in June because we prepaid this expense back in May to receive some credit card sign-up rewards. Usually our internet costs $49.95. We prepaid $500 so I don’t expect to see an internet expense for many months to come.
In case you’re wondering, our internet service is 70 mbps down and 5 mbps up, which is plenty for our needs.
Mortgage And Childcare
As usual, our mortgage and childcare expenses make-up the bulk of our monthly spending at $4,380.78. These are our two largest monthly expenses, and without them we would have only spent $698 in June.
That said, I consider both expenses entirely optional.
I could take the kids out of daycare and keep them home with me full-time (I wouldn’t have time to blog), and we could pay-off our mortgage with cash. So why do I bother paying for a mortgage and for daycare?
I simply choose to pay these large bills on purpose because of the advantages they provide — The kids are becoming fluent in a second language at daycare, and I get the time to blog a little!
For the mortgage — our interest rate is so low I’m almost 100% positive we can find a better return in the stock market.
Financially we’ll be better-off NOT paying-off the mortgage.
Utilities amounted to $0 in June because we prepaid the electricity & gas bill in May. Other utility expenses like water, sewer, and garbage are billed bi-monthly, so we won’t see another utility bill until next month.
In total, the Other category was $411 for June. These were largely optional expenses.
First, I got the oil changed in both cars for $160. This seemed really expensive to me, and I’m no longer happy with our local “cheapo” oil-change shop. It used to be a lot cheaper, but it seems like they’ve been raising prices lately.
Grrrr! I won’t be going back for another over-priced oil change after this last experience.
The second big ticket item was campsite reservations for our family camping trip. The reservation cost was $117 and this covers two campsites for 4 nights in July. The average nightly rate was $29.43 after taxes. Not cheap, but it’ll be the kid’s first multi-night camping trip and they’re pretty excited.
As this is our first major camping trip (and we aren’t sure if the kids are going to like it), I’m borrowing an 8 person tent from a family member rather than buying one. If we end-up going camping more often with the kids, I’ll probably end-up buying a decent tent.
For now, I’m getting away with “free” for all other camping expenses.
The next “Other” purchase of the month was a big order of stuff from Amazon at $74.54. In any given month we tend to buy one or more things off Amazon. It’s usually cheaper than running to multiple stores, and with 2-day shipping it’s really convenient.
I hate paying for shipping, so I always sign-up for a free month of Amazon Prime when I need to buy something.
We wanted to watch the kids at night, but rather than spending two hundred bucks on a overpriced Nest baby monitor, I decided to roll-my own with a Raspberry Pi:
If you don’t already know, the Raspberry Pi is a small, cheap single board Linux computer than can be used for a variety of tasks. For now, I’ve turned it into a web-streaming video camera to make sure the kids go to bed at night.
This is one of the hazards of having two boys share a room — they don’t always go to sleep when they’re supposed to. Sometimes they goof-around and play, and I like being able to check on them from my smartphone.
Once they get a little older (and actually want to sleep) maybe I’ll re-use the Pi Zero to build a robot, or perhaps a small retro-game console for the kids.
Cumulative Expenses For 2018
For the year so far, our cumulative expenses reached $37,032. If this seems really expensive, please remember that we live in a very expensive part of the Pacific Northwest. It’s not cheap here!
This rate of spending is very similar to what we’ve spent in previous years, so I feel pretty confident we won’t run out of money anytime soon. Expenses should also start declining in September when our oldest (Tako Jr. #1) starts kindergarten.
Furthermore, I don’t expect any big ticket items for the remainder of the year — travel spending tends to be the largest annual item in our core expenses and that’s already happened.
The rest of the year should remain pretty affordable.
Dividends In June
Dividends in June totaled $10,660. Yup, over ten grand! Woohoo! This was our largest dividend month of the year (so far) and it feels really good to be pulling in twice as much cash as we spent in June.
Most of our big holdings increase their dividends in the second quarter and this is why we saw a $1,000 jump from the March dividend number.
Did I mention how much I love big dividend increases? It’s right up there with avocados in my “like” category.
Dividends account for the vast bulk of how we finance our lifestyle, but we aren’t afraid of realizing capital gains either. My goal for the year is to reach $53k in dividends, but I’ve been a bit lazy on the investing front. We might not reach that goal at our current rate.
Investment Changes In June
During the month of June we made no portfolio changes to speak-of. We mostly just “let it ride” and the market rewarded us with a slight ($10k) drop in our net worth.
Oh well! This is why I don’t report our net worth on a regular basis (other than the annual number)… the market is so volatile and the vast majority of that movement is just noise.
Honestly, I should have been investing our excess cash though — our dividend growth plan precludes that I’m putting money to work. Why didn’t I? I was distracted by other things, but to be perfectly honest I didn’t like the prices Mr. Market was offering.
I’m a stickler for getting in at the right price.
The markets have been pretty flat in 2018, and I expect this trend is going to continue in the back half of the year — As a result I’m not rushing-out with fist fulls of cash to throw at overpriced equities.
These already high prices make me nervous, especially considering the Fed is going to raise rates two more times this year. Rate increases are almost never good for stock prices.
As always, I continue hunting for new investments that put our spare cash to work. I regularly post my more interesting investing ideas monthly, but may or may not purchase shares.
That’s it for my June report! Enjoy your July folks!