Ah!!! Spring is FINALLY in the air. The flowers and trees are blooming, the sun is starting to peak-out again, and the birds are singing songs about… whatever it is the damn birds sing about! 😀
The green stuff is beginning to grow again too — Mrs. Tako is getting the urge to dig out the garden tools and scratch around in the dirt again. It must be spring!
I’m extremely glad winter is finally over. Winter in the Pacific Northwest really sucked this year. Normally we have mild winters, with little snow (because of our proximity to the Pacific coast). This winter was different — we had decent amount of snow… More than I care to shovel at least.
Now that it’s over, our utility expenses should come back down to Earth. It can’t happen soon enough! I’m tired of gigantic heating bills and piling 5 blankets on me to keep warm!
Expenses For March
You ever have one of those months where you think your spending is under control and then you see the results? Yeah, that happened to us in March.
Our expenses were higher than normal, but I’ll get into the “why” part in just a moment.
Expenses totaled $6,092.74, which is roughly $1000 higher than we’ve come to expect. Yikes!
I thought we were kicking-butt on our food expenses, but when the food bill was totaled, it came to $581. That’s higher than our usual $500.
Utilities were also higher at $553, partly because our February utilities didn’t have a few bills. As a result those bills fell into the March billing period.
Internet expenses rose to $45.15 for the month. For all you guys giving me crap about our low internet expense, now’s the time when you get to feel smug. For the past year, our internet package was only $39.99 a month. This promotional package ended in the middle of March.
Next month, we’re on a slightly more expensive package ($49.99/month) as I detailed in The Power Of A Phone Call. I still think it’s a pretty good deal.
The biggest change in our expenses this month was in the “Other” category. This category included the cost of passports for Mrs. Tako, and both kids. Mrs. Tako’s passport had expired, and both kids needed passports for our family trip to Japan.
I also signed up for a new credit card to do a little travel hacking. The $75 annual card fee had to be paid up-front when I got the card. “Them’s the breaks” as they say.
Hopefully it’ll be worth it when we’re on that awesome-yet-low-cost vacation to Japan. I can taste the sushi already.
(Pardon me while I mentally stuff my face with imaginary sushi)
In March, Tako Jr. #1 also signed-up for swimming lessons….in July. Yes, we had to do this in March because the summer swim lesson spots fill-up quickly. The cost was $89. Yeesh!
Normally I’m not keen on all this “activities” stupidity, but I happen to believe swimming lessons are an important life skill. For that, I have to stomach the $89 fee and paying 4 months in advance… (grumble, grumble)
For the year, our expenses are running a little higher than I’d like:
I’d prefer to see our average monthly expenses under $5k per month, so we’ve got some work to do. 🙁
Dividends For March
As expected, dividends in March were excellent. After a slow February, March had $8,134 in dividends. I wish every month was like this!
For 2017, we’ve accumulated over $12,265 in dividends. If we compare this number against March 2016, we’re roughly $2,000 dollars ahead of where we were this time last year.
This kind of forward progress feels great, especially considering this is only the end of the 1st quarter. Most of our dividend increases are going to happen sometime in the second quarter.
As I’ve mentioned in previous months, we’re not utilizing dividends from our tax-exempt accounts (401k’s, IRA’s, etc). Instead, we’re letting those accounts continue to grow while we live off our taxable accounts. These dividend numbers are only from our taxable accounts.
Our stated goal in 2017 is to grow dividends by 10% to $52,000 for the year. It’s too early to tell if we’ll make this goal, but I’m feeling pretty optimistic!
OK, and now for the part where things aren’t going well — The Sleep Experiment. As I wrote about in March, I’m a terrible sleeper. If it’s not the kids waking me up in the middle of the night, it’s my own brain keeping me awake.
I seriously suck at sleeping, and it’s probably bad for my health.
My sleep goal for the year is to:
- Sleep a minimum of 7 hours per day.
- Get to bed by 1AM (or earlier) every single day.
How did I do in March? Not so good — I met this goal a total of 4 nights out of 31.
Yep, terrible…but I’m making an effort to improve.
On the bright side, our youngest son (Tako Jr. #2) has started sleeping through the night! YAAHOOO!!! Anybody with young kids knows what a miracle it is when they finally sleep through the night.
Look-out world! DADDY’S GONNA SLEEP TONIGHT!
Expect improvements in my April sleep report if this “sleeping through the night” business holds… and if I can retrain myself to sleep properly after 4 years…
Portfolio Changes For March
After the big gains in February, equity markets looked really expensive to me. This problem persisted through March, and I had a hard time finding decent investments to deploy capital into. We didn’t make any portfolio changes in March.
Anyone who’s followed this blog for very long knows I’d rather hold onto cash for a few months than make a bad investment….so we did just that — We held onto our cash in March.
By the end of March though, the tide began to turn. I really should have picked up some shares on March 27, but alas my actual purchases didn’t happen until April 3rd.
At any rate, I’m starting to see some decent purchase prices again. Expect more detail on these buys in the April version of this post.
[Image Credit: Flickr]