March 2018 Dividend Income And Expenses

Yup, it’s that time again!  Dividend Income and Expense time!  For those of you who don’t follow this blog regular-like, this is a regular monthly post where I detail the Tako family’s expenses for the entire month.

I also detail how much passive income we earn in the form of dividends.

Why do I do this?  Why not?!  I already track our monthly expenses to this level of detail, so why not share it with my peeps?

not my peeps

No, not that kind of peep!  I mean the readers of this blog !

Readers of this blog tend to be people well on their way to Financial Independence. Or, they’re simply curious about the dirty details of what makes financial independence possible.

So, let’s dig in…


A Southwestern March

As a financially independent family, we tend to travel fairly often.  For roughly half of March, the Tako family could be found traveling around Texas.  It was our first visit to the state, and we had a blast!

Yes, we saw the sun again!  We soaked up a little bit of that Texas heat too!  It felt good to thaw-out from the cold of the Pacific Northwest.

The Texas sunshine and warm weather provided a welcome respite from the cold weather we’re used to.

We spent plenty of money, visited NASA, saw amazing caverns, played on the beach, and ate fantastic food!  It was a really good vacation.  Thanks Texas!

You can read about exactly how much we spent in the trip report.

Some of our trip expenses, (like our flights and rental car) actually happened in February, but most of the trip costs happened in March…


March Expenses

Expenses for March totaled $6,603!  This was our most expensive month of 2018 (so far), and the extra expenses can mainly be attributed to the aformentioned Texas trip.  (Surprise — traveling costs money!)

Here’s the detailed expense table:

march 2018 expenses


Our food expenses were much higher than normal in March.  Normally we spend around $500 per month on food for our family of four.

Clearly this didn’t happen in March!  Our higher food spending was almost double our usual amount, at $1024.  This was probably due to eating-out more while on vacation…

salt lick pit
Higher food expenses might have happened because of all the good food in Texas… like this bbq at the Salt Lick.  Yeah, I might have eaten a little…

We also treated our friends (who were hosting us in Texas) to a $160 sushi dinner.  It seemed like the right thing to do since we were crashing in their spare bedroom.

There was also delicious Bahn Mi sandwiches, wood fired pizza, sushi, fried chicken, taco trucks, yakisoba, and plenty of BBQ to go around.

One of the best Bahn Mi’s I’ve ever eaten!

Prices were very comparable to what we’re used to seeing in the PNW, but portion sizes were definitely larger.

wood fired pizza
Usually I make great pizza at home, but on vacation I had to “suffer” through eating this ridiculously good pizza.  It was agony, let me tell you.

Once we got back home, I went back into to full-on cook-at-home mode and whipped us up a batch of incredible Spanish-style chorizo-potato soup.  Yum!

chorizo soup
I really need to start cooking with chorizo more often — this soup was incredible!

Now that we’re back home, I expect our food expenses will return to normal levels again.  This should show up in our April expense report.



In March, we spent $94 on fuel.  This is roughly average for us.  But…

Wait a minute!  Weren’t we doing a bunch of driving around Texas (which is a HUGE state)?

Afterall, we drove over 1000 miles in Texas and some of that time was just sitting in traffic.

It’s all true — but gasoline is cheap in Texas, and our rental car was of the small and efficient variety.  We only spent $66.50 for fuel during the trip.


Mortgage And Childcare

As usual, our mortgage and childcare expenses were the bulk of our monthly spending at $4450.78.  These are our two largest monthly expenses, but we consider them entirely optional.

Why?  Both expenses can be eliminated at any time — We could take the kids out of daycare and keep them home with me (I wouldn’t have time to blog), and our mortgage could be paid-off with unused cash.

We 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 time to do some blogging!

For the mortgage, I’m betting I can find investment returns greater than the interest on our home loan.  So far this has proven to be true, but I’ve got a good 20 years before the book is finally closed on this one.

Wish me luck.



Utilities for the month were $386.50  This included a bi-monthly water/sewer bill and a monthly gas/electricity bill.

The start of spring in the Pacific Northwest isn’t warm like other states, so our utility bills are still quite high.

snow days
Spring in the Pacific Northwest looks like this…

They should really rename ‘spring’ here to something more accurate…. like “winter-spring” or “wring”.  It might sound dumb, but it’s a hell of a lot more accurate.

Seriously.  We got off the plane from Texas, and had snow at home.  Ugh!



The other category for this month ($598) includes a bunch of travel expenses.  Our hotel room, rental car, parking, and activity costs were all included in the Other category.

If you want to see a breakdown of the individual trip expenses, I recommend reading our Texas Trip Report.  It covers all these expenses in much greater detail.

The month of March also included a trip to our local pool ($10), quarterly HOA dues ($60), some shipping costs ($3.75), and a few household items from Target ($14.66)

(Frugal tip:  If you’re shopping at Target, buy stuff online and arrange for in-store pickup.  Nearly all of Target’s in-store prices are more expensive than online prices.)


Cumulative Expenses

One month of expenses is hardly a trend, so I always like to compare against previous months.  For the year 2018 so far, we’ve spent $18,619.  This is quite a lot!

Comparing to March 2017, our spending was approximately two thousand dollars higher this year.  Ouch!  2018 has been expensive.

march 2018 net expenses

This is a disturbing trend, but it’s mainly due to vacation spending.  Over the remaining months of the year, I hope to bring our expenses down to more reasonable levels.

It’s time to tighten our belts!


Dividends In March

Dividends are always my favorite part of this post because I love passive income!

When it comes to dividends, March was no slouch either — We received $9,895 in dividends!

This wasn’t a personal record like last December, but I’m still pleased with the result.  For the first quarter of 2018, we collected a total of $12,276 in dividends.

march dividends 2018

This passive income is what we use to pay the vast majority of our regular expenses, and I’m on a mission to reach $53k in dividend income (again) this year.

Can we meet our goal?

It really depends upon how much we manage to invest…


Investment Changes In March

As regular readers of this blog know, we have a large amount of uninvested cash that needs to find a new home.  We’ve been patiently waiting for reasonable stock prices before we invest it all.

Well, Mr. Market is finally starting to get the message — The S&P 500 is down 3% for the year and the Dow is also down a similar amount.  We have cash to invest, so down markets are actually a good thing!

When interest rates rise, stocks tend to fall … and interest rates are on the rise again!  Unfortunately Mr. Market hasn’t yet reach a price level I really like, so our cash remained uninvested in March.  We made no new investments.

What price exactly am I waiting for?

Given where interest rates currently are today (the 10 year treasury is 2.79%) and factoring-in a reasonable risk-premium, I feel like the stock market could easily drop another 10%-20% before investing new cash in the stock market makes sense again.

I think we’ve got plenty of room to see further drops!

Frankly, I believe stock prices were inflated at the end of last year, and I’d like 2018 to be a year where stocks finally “return to reality”.  A 20% drop from current levels would be great!

Will it happen?  Who knows!

In the meantime, I’ll just watch carefully…


[Image Credit: Flickr1, Flickr2]

42 thoughts on “March 2018 Dividend Income And Expenses

  • April 4, 2018 at 4:05 AM

    Ooh that food looks amazing! Looks like you had a good vacation.

    And yes, 2018 may very well be the year stocks return to reality. Or not. Who knows. The best part is that we’re both getting our sweet sweet dividends! *dividend five*

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:20 PM

      Dividend five! Yeah!

      Thanks FIRECracker it was a great vacation! 🙂

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:21 PM

      Seriously delicious Bahn Mi in Houston. Yum! 🙂

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:22 PM

      Thanks Caroline! $1,239 is nothing to sneeze at! Keep at it!

  • April 4, 2018 at 8:52 AM

    Nicely done. March is always a good month for dividends 🙂

    We’re also sitting on some cash and are starting to eye the market a little more. There’s never a perfect time, but right now (and probably later this year) looks better than a few months ago. Looking forward to seeing what investments catch your attention.
    Paul recently posted…The Case for Individual Stocks

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:23 PM

      The increased volatility is definitely causing a few opportunities! I’ve got my April investing ideas post coming up pretty soon… Should have some fun new stuff to research!

  • April 4, 2018 at 9:12 AM

    Great job on the dividends. I’m always looking for passive income ideas and high dividend paying stocks is a great option. It’s just you need a ton of money invested in them to get over $50K/year income.

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:25 PM

      I generally don’t chase high-dividend payers, so yes we need a hell of a lot of capital invested to make that kind of income.

      I tend to focus more on the dividend growers instead. The difference of course is subtle, but over time it can make a big difference. 😉

      • April 5, 2018 at 5:08 PM

        Can you share some of your favorite growers?

  • April 4, 2018 at 10:09 AM

    Almost $10K in dividends!!

    I “only” got $4245

    Record for me :0)

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:26 PM

      Hey, $4245 is pretty good MarkG! Be proud of your accomplishment! 🙂

  • April 4, 2018 at 3:24 PM

    Ok, I love seeing your numbers, but let’s get to it – did you paint that cephalopod on the fencepost? Please tell me you did that!

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:27 PM

      Nah, I’m not much of an artist these days. I just liked the look of it.

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:30 PM

      Thanks Poor Swiss!

      Indeed, the bbq was awesome! We really enjoyed Texas.

      Indeed, if the correction does come, I will be happy. We’ll be fine otherwise too!

  • April 4, 2018 at 11:33 PM

    I’m glad you had a great time in Texas. It looks like you ate well, and also presumably slept well with all of the sunshine and activity. It may be that living in the PNW in the non-summer months contributes to SAD and poorer sleep?

    March was an all time record of $10,570 in dividend income (close to your Dec 17 results). It feels great breaking five figures in a month after all these years and no doubt it will be quite some time before the next monthly record is achieved. Full year dividend income is forecast to be north of $85k so this train just keeps a rolling. One day this stream will provide for all our living expenses.

    Take care,


    • April 5, 2018 at 4:33 PM

      Hi Mike H!

      Oh, indeed, SAD takes its toll in the Pacific Northwest! Usually after a day of traveling out in the sun I can hit the bed and not wake up once. It’s pretty fantastic.

      Nice job on your March dividends BTW! $85k is quite a comfortable living already! How much further do you need to go? You guys are in Thailand, right? Isn’t cost of living lower there?

  • April 5, 2018 at 3:48 AM

    Great to see how you did in March. We had high utility bills as well in March; no surprise there in New Hampshire. I always like to think of our winters as a regular snowy winter followed by 2-3 months of a Southern winter. There is no Spring. Hence, our plans to become location independent! Who skips Spring? I mean really? Glad you got to experience the lovely Texas Spring while you were visiting.

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:35 PM

      Yeah, I actually really *like* spring, but up in the Northern climates we do tend to ‘miss’ it.

      Summer is far too short here too. We really want to move to a nicer climate soon!

  • April 5, 2018 at 7:13 AM

    It’s 10 in the morning right now but that BBQ photo looks sooooo good. 🙂

    While timing the market is never my thing, I think it makes sense to look at general trends. The market is going to have a lot of volatility this year given our executive branch, so maybe waiting a little bit isn’t the worst thing. 🙂
    Jim Wang recently posted…These 5 Research Studies Will Forever Change The Way You Spend Money

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:37 PM

      Patience is definitely a good thing. I’m not a market timer either (I have no idea what the market will do), but I do set very rigid standards for my investments.

      If the Market decides it’s not going to pay a reasonable risk premium, I won’t invest. It’s that simple.

    • April 5, 2018 at 4:39 PM

      Texas was a lot more fun than I expected… maybe that was why I enjoyed the trip so much!

      I didn’t set high expectations and I was pleasantly surprised! 🙂

  • April 5, 2018 at 6:33 PM

    The food on your trip looks so delicious Mr Tako! Wood fire pizza washed down with an ice cold beer is one of the best meals!

    Almost $10k in dividend income is just awesome – way to go. I’m also waiting for the market to decline somewhat and although its tough to predict, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see it drop 20% + over the next year or two.

  • April 6, 2018 at 7:14 AM

    Everything is bigger in Texas. 🙂
    The dividend income looks great in the 3rd month of the quarter. Nice.
    What are some of the stocks on your watch list? I’m about ready to start investing in stock after we pay the tax man…

  • April 6, 2018 at 9:53 AM

    Great numbers and awesome trip! I’m hoping to earn 5 figure dividend passive income a month some day too.

    I’m looking forward to reading your upcoming post on investment strategies in a volatile market!

  • April 7, 2018 at 1:50 PM

    Where do you find these dividend stocks?

    • April 7, 2018 at 4:10 PM

      Hi Adrian,

      Which dividend stocks are you referring to? The ones I’m invested in?

      The simplest answer is that I read a lot. I also regularly read many other investing blogs and stock lists.

  • April 7, 2018 at 11:42 PM

    First time here, looks like you average around $4,500 monthly after 3 months or your target of $53K. That’s pretty amazing and 3 times my $1,500.

    Do you share your portfolio?

    • April 9, 2018 at 12:05 AM

      There isn’t a post that lists every asset I own, but I do talk about the vast majority of my holdings in various posts. Astute readers can figure it out.

  • April 9, 2018 at 9:25 PM

    Nice, $9K in dividend income this month to cover all your month’s expenses!

    That Banh Mi sandwich DOES look good. I love a good Banh Mi, crisp and warm French bread and cilantro- mmm!

  • April 12, 2018 at 5:57 AM

    We too are from PNW, started to get tired of cold and wet, yearning for a warm spring time!

    Thank you for posting this, Mr. Tako. It’s very inspiring and encouraging. I always thought we need to move somewhere else (with cheaper housing and living expense) to FIRE. No matter how bad the weather is, we still like the Pacific Northwest. This post encourages me that it is possible to do it here too! There are alternative (cheaper) food source (and yummier!) if we drive a little bit more south.

    Curious to see which Asian grocery you go to, we’ve been hoping around several, but always open for a good, inexpensive one 🙂

  • April 29, 2018 at 3:01 PM

    After seeing you everywhere I look on the FIRE blogosphere, thought i’d come and see what all the hype is… snow in March… nice… i wouldn’t mind.. wearing sunscreen in March isn’t better… wow a FIREee who spends money… i like it!

    p.s. if it weren’t still chilly, you wouldn’t have needed to make that yummy soup!

  • May 3, 2018 at 1:30 AM

    Hi Mr.Tako,
    I’ve been reading your Blog for about a month. I’m in a half of it now. Nice job and great ideas. This is my first Post and also my first question on you. Maybe I missed it somewhere but when you write your expenses, in which category you put the articles from drugstore (I mean toothpaste, washing powder, schower gel and all stuff like cosmetics, things for cleaning house and so on)? I personnaly have separate categories like groceries (all food that is needed to “survive”), drugstore articles (personal cosmetics, cleaning stuff, chemics, toilet paper, …) and extra (alcohol, eating out, sweets, and all things that are wants and not needs regarding eating and drinking…).
    Thanks for an answer.

    • May 3, 2018 at 12:19 PM

      Generally drugstore things like toothpaste and toilet paper fall under ‘food’. We usually buy that stuff at the grocery store when we shop and I don’t bother to separate it out.

      Extra items (like eating out) fall under “Other” in most cases. We don’t drink alcohol so that isn’t usually anywhere in our expenses.


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