I think May has to be my favorite month of the year to live in the Pacific Northwest. Everything is green and blooming from previous rain showers, and the weather finally gets warm and dry enough to spend an entire day outside with the family.
Most of the year here is cold, cloudy and wet. We spend a lot of time indoors playing board games, reading books, watching movies, hanging out with friends, and trying to stay dry….
But when spring finally rolls around, it represents a major lifestyle shift for the Tako family.
The clouds finally disappear, and our lifestyle transforms into one where we spend tons of time outdoors. This is exactly what happened in May!
For example — Instead of going home right after school, I began taking Tako Jr. to the park and letting him play on the equipment. It’s a great way to help him burn-off that excess energy.
On weekends, Mrs. Tako and I try to plan at least one major outdoor family adventure. Usually this takes the form of bike riding, hiking, or some form of outdoor activity.
Even our littlest octopus, Tako Jr. #2, finally has the size and stamina he can get outdoors and do some serious adventuring. On a recent hike he managed 4 miles without too much complaining! Hurrah! No more strollers for this little dude!
Mother nature really does provide some of the best free entertainment around! It does absolute wonders for our entire family’s happiness to just get outside and breathe in all that fresh air…
But what about our finances?
Dividend Income In May
Dividend income in May amounted to $700. Clearly, this isn’t a large amount. May is not one of our bigger dividend months. No need to worry however, this lower dividend amount is entirely expected.
Dividends are paid by our investments quarterly. This means March, June, September, and December are the really big dividend months of the year. Meanwhile, ‘off’ months (like May) tend to be on the lower-end of the dividend dollar scale.
For the year so far, we’ve happily collected $16,465 in dividends. This is $2,162 ahead of where we were last year. I’m fairly pleased with our dividend income thus far. I expected there would be a little growth due to newly invested funds (and a few dividend increases). This is slowly proving to be the case in 2019. Slow and steady wins the race!
At this rate, we should be in good shape to reach our 2019 dividend growth goals by December.
Expenses in May amounted to $4,819. This is a very average level of monthly spending, despite there being a couple of “surprise” expenses this month.
Personally, I think any month that comes in under $5k, is a darn good month!
Food expenses returned to our “regularly scheduled program” after a rather expensive April. I worked harder at shopping grocery store sales in May, and this paid-off with considerably lower food spending at $387.
We tend to average around $500 a month on food, so having a less expensive month like this is a very good thing. (It gives us a chance to splurge a little in the winter months!)
How well do we eat on only $387? I think we eat extremely well on this amount of money, but opinions always vary on these things. Everyone has different standards and expectations for what they consider “living well”. I think it’s just easier to post photos and show people.
For example, my favorite meal of the month had to be these slow-cooker dry-rub ribs. The grocery store had a nice sale on ribs, and I couldn’t resist.
Our most expensive meal of the month had to be the sushi party we held. We do sushi parties like this a couple times a year, and the results never fail to delight the friends we invite over. The sushi spread fed about 9 people, with plenty of leftovers.
Not every meal is that fancy of course. When I’m feeling tired or sick, I just put the meals on “easy mode”. This spaghetti with garlic bread and broccoli is a perfect example. I was sick, and just didn’t feel like cooking that day.
Lately, I’ve also been trying to cook more Thai dishes. Thai cuisine is one of my favorites, but I really hate to go to a restaurant for something I can make just as good (if not better) at home.
Here’s two Thai curries I made in May — A panang curry and a green curry.
Cooking meals at home is a delicious way to live, but sooner or later the refrigerator gets a little too full. The leftovers and odds and ends begin to build-up. When that happens, I usually whip up a quick fried rice meal. In this case, kimchi chicken-bacon fried rice.
I literally used day-old rice, some leftover chicken breast, leftover broccoli, some eggs, kimchi, some cabbage, leftover cucumber, and I think there were even a couple of slices of bacon in there too. Random stuff out of the fridge.
If you want my vote for best “kitchen sink” recipe to clean-up leftovers, then it’s got to be fried rice. Fried rice is one of the easiest and most delicious ways to clean-up ingredients ever!
Sadly, I forgot to take pictures of tacos this month. (Yeah, I know… what the hell?) Rest assured, we still ate plenty of tacos in May.
Fuel spending in May totaled $120. Personally I did A LOT more driving than in previous months. With Mrs. Tako out of town for a week, I needed to pick up both kids after school. This meant I needed to be in two places at nearly the same time. Driving the car was the only way to even come close to achieving this feat. (Sadly, time travel wasn’t an option)
On a typical day, I try to use my own feet instead of driving. It saves money and it helps keep me healthier than if I was to drive everywhere. Now I only drive when I need to go a really long distance OR for a weekend family outing.
Mortgage & Childcare
As usual, mortgage and childcare expenses were our two largest expenses in May. 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.
Our internet expense clocked in at $35 for May. This expense was lower than usual because the cable provider charged me too much in April. Normally we pay $49.95 a month for 60Mbps down and 5 Mbps up cable internet through Comcast.
This is plenty fast for our purposes, and (thankfully) the price of our internet plan hasn’t gone up in two years.
Despite lower spending in many of our May categories, utility spending came in higher than usual, at $407. Mostly, the higher utility costs can be attributed to timing — May included two power & gas bills. One bill for last month, and one for this month. These two electricity & gas bills amounted to $173.
Meanwhile, our water bill was $234. This is a bi-monthly bill, but it seems like a very large bill to me! What do you guys pay every month for water?
With two kids I guess we do use plenty of water — washing, lots of laundry, doing the dishes, taking baths, and watering outdoor plants (only necessary in summer).
Our monthly insurance bill totaled $0 again in May. Whenever possible, we pay the entire year all in one go. 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.
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. I don’t normally break that number out here in the insurance section.
The “Other” category in May amounted to $176. This expense category included:
- New queen size sheets for our bed – $53.89
- Our annual cell phone bills (prepaid for two phones) – $56.90
- A large heavy-duty tarp for camping – $32.77
- Red landscaping bricks and soil for my backyard landscaping project – $32.74
The new sheets were purchased online through Overstock. It had been a long time since we purchased new sheets — but you see the missus finally decided that holes in the sheets were no longer an acceptable form of bedding. (I argued that holes actually added ventilation for summer, but she wasn’t buying that.)
For our cell-phone bills, that $56 top-off will last the entire year. (FYI: We use a grandfathered prepaid plan from T-mobile. It’s no longer available to new customers.) This works out to be $2.37/month.
The landscaping bricks were purchased at our local “orange” store. These are the same bricks I mentioned in the I Survived post, and are part of my summer landscaping project.
Cumulative Expenses For 2019
For the year so far, the Tako family has spent $23,790. Outside of our mortgage and childcare, we’ve spent $5673. Those numbers may seem large, but it’s important to remember that we live in a high cost of living area (a Seattle suburb).
It’s not easy to live cheaply here. Housing is expensive, and child care is expensive too. Until our youngest son completes daycare, I expect our expenses will remain this high… or even slightly higher because of property tax increases and child care price increases.
May Investing Updates
May was a very negative month for our portfolio. Mr. Market was just in a bad mood I guess, and the value of most of our stocks fell. Our net worth declined significantly, but I couldn’t care less.
Markets are supposed to fluctuate! That’s what they do!
Instead of worrying about a falling market, I took advantage of low prices by buying another 500 shares of our “Well Known Energy Company” investment. This was a new investment of $43,250.
I also decided to write put options on 500 shares of Delta stock.
I don’t consider myself a options expert, but Delta is a company I’ve been following closely for some time and I feel there’s a very good opportunity to earn some income. (This will happen when my put expires.) As mentioned in my June 2019 Investing Ideas post, I believe Delta is likely to do well for at least the remainder of the year.
Should the put get assigned, I’m also perfectly happy being an owner of Delta stock.
That’s it for May! See you next time!
[Image Credit: Flickr]