May 2021 Dividend Income And Expenses
With most of the population in Washington state getting vaccinated by the end of May, things have finally started to open back up again. The pandemic is subsiding here, and it seems like life is (slowly) returning to normal.
As you might expect, our travel adventures resumed in May as well. We took full advantage of the fine May weather, and went camping on Washington’s coast, near a small town called Ocean Shores.
Unlike our previous camping trips to the coast, this one included two days of razor clam digging…
The picture above was my bucket of clams. Each of us was allowed 15 clams per day, and we dug on two days. This was a total of 120 clams, roughly the length of my hand.
As residents of Washington state, Mrs. Tako and I were required to buy a 3-day digging permit for $9.70 each. Fortunately, the kids didn’t need a permit and could dig for free… although this did take a bit longer.
The device Tako Jr. is using to extract his clams (in the photo above) is called a “clam gun”. This works much better than a shovel, and you can even buy them on Amazon these days. (We borrowed our clam guns for the trip.) It’s essentially a piece of PVC pipe with a handle and a small hole. You push the ‘gun’ down over the clam, put your finger over the hole, and then suck-out both the clam and the sand together.
As you can imagine, this leaves a LOT of holes on the beach, but they quickly fill back-in after a tide.
It’s been over a year since the razor clam season opened on Washington’s beaches, and there were literally thousands of people on the beach. One news article said there were nearly 16,000 people digging clams that weekend. There was a line of traffic 10 miles long (measured using my car odometer) to get onto the beach.
Yep, you read that correctly — you literally drive onto the beach and park. If you’ve seen the beach race in the movie The Goonies, that’s literally what people do here.
Thankfully we got up just after dawn, and avoided most of the crowds. The early bird got the clams in this case. After that, we spent the rest of the weekend camping, cleaning clams, goofing-around, and looking at touristy things. At one point we even found a small sasquatch.
Dividend Income In May
Dividends in May amounted to $79.53. This amount is certainly nothing to brag about, but it’s still good to see our dividend income continue coming in.
As expected, May was a “low dividend” month. This is a natural lull in our dividend payments that is expected. 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 this May). It’s mostly ‘crickets’ for these months, and then there’s a huge gusher of cash when the floodgates finally open-up again (as I expect they will again in June).
For the year, we’ve collected $16,255 in dividend income, which is slightly below our household spending for the year. There’s no cause for alarm however, this small deficit will be resolved when June rolls around.
Expenses in May totaled $3,947. This number is higher than our long-term average, primarily because we chose to prepay some of our summer vacation expenses. You can find those vacation expenses detailed in the “Other” category.
There’s also the possibility that inflation is causing our expenses to rise, but the effects of inflation still seem pretty minimal from my point of view.
Here’s the breakdown by expense category:
Groceries for the month totaled $56. What!?! Did I miss a zero somewhere? Nope, I triple-checked that number. That’s all we spent in May on groceries! Besides a higher than usual restaurant spending (found in the Other category), we did an excellent job of eating from our pantry and chest freezer in May. This is one of the reasons why I love my chest freezer. It’s a great money saver if you can train yourself to use it well.
For example, I found a bunch of Italian meatballs in the freezer that *needed* to be eaten. These got turned into “hiyashi-meatballs”… a sort of fusion of the Japanese dish Hiyashi rice, and Italian cuisine. Oddly, this fusion dish worked amazingly well:
The frugal cooking didn’t stop there of course! We ate plenty of affordable meals out of the pantry (and fridge) like this delicious ‘egg’ salad:
As usual, we ate plenty of “Japanese home cooking” meals — not the kind of things you’d find at a Japanese restaurant. This ‘Hambagu’ and miso soup is a good example. (For the curious: Hambagu is kind of like a Japanese version of meatloaf)
One of my favorites of the month was a Japanese dish called “remen”. Not to be confused with ramen. Remen is a Japanese cold noodle salad dish, typically served on hot summer days (along with a kind of dressing). We had several hot days this May, so we at remen several times! (I realize you can’t see the noodles in the photo below, but they ARE under the toppings. I assure you!)
Of course, since Memorial Day was in May, I had to get our outdoor grill going, and make some delicious tacos! These were grilled chicken and bacon tacos.
As you can see, despite our ultra low grocery bill for the month, we still managed to eat extremely well. Don’t worry, our food spending in June should be back to normal levels!
Fuel spending in May was $97. Since the pandemic began our fuel spending has been consistently under $100/month, and we saw this trend continue in May.
Even though we drove over two hundred miles on our camping trip, this only amounted to one additional tank of gas (roughly $40) for the month.
As usual, our largest single monthly expense is our home mortgage. This amounted to $2,357 in May. This includes interest, principal, insurance, and taxes. If this seems like a lot of money, please remember that we live in a high-cost of living area, and real estate is quite 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 expenses for the month were $45. This is our usual amount for 100Mbit cable internet service. While there are both faster and slower packages available (as well as a cheaper), we’re happy with the price-to-performance we’re getting with the current package.
Anything cheaper would be WAY too slow, and anything faster would be unnecessary.
Mobile phone service spending in May amounted to $43. This amount includes our annual phone spending ($10 for me, and $20 for Mrs. Tako before taxes), as well as a new data plan.
In preparation for our summer travel, I signed-up for this new Tello data-only plan, costing $8.50 (after coupons and promotions). This plan will provide us with 2 gigs of cell data for two months, which works out to be $4.25/month.
Most of the time we don’t need a data plan of course, we just use wifi — The beauty of the Tello data plan is that I can turn-on or off the service anytime I need a data connection (like when we’re traveling).
Our plan is to use the mobile data connection for the duration of our summer travels, and then turn off the service once we return home.
Since this is a pre-paid plan, there’s no contract, and I’m using my existing phone (It’s a dual-sim phone that allows me to use two sim cards at the same time). Tello has, by far, the cheapest data-only MVNO plan I could find.
If there’s enough interest in Tello’s affordable cellphone plans, I can write-up a proper review in a separate post. Just let me know in the comments if you’d like to see one. So far, the service seems great!
If you’d like a similar low-cost plan, sign-up using my referral code: p3s4bkgq to receive $10 off.
Utility bills in May amounted to $459. This was three different bills — our electricity and gas bill ($82), our water bill ($254), and our garbage bill ($124).
If this collection of utility bills seems a bit expensive, you’re correct. Our water bill is bi-monthly, and our trash bill is tri-monthly. May just happened to be a “triple whammy” month when all three bills hit at the same time.
This is merely an artifact of the billing cycle, and only happens a few times a year. If our utility bills were normalized we’d average around $300/month.
Insurance costs in May amounted to $0. This is a normal amount for us. Most of our insurance expenses occur once per year in October, when we pay our annual car insurance bill.
As usual, 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 May was $889. This “Other” expense category is a ‘catch-all’ for all the expenses that don’t fit anywhere else in the monthly report.
“Other” expenses consisted of the following in May:
- $200 – Swimming lessons for the boys.
- $19 – Three day clam digging permit for Mrs. Tako and I.
- $539 – Hotel booking for our summer vacation.
- $17 – A take-and-bake pizza one night when I was feeling lazy.
- $23 – Dinner from Wendy’s when we were on the road. (Yes, I used a coupon)
- $31 – A few kitchen supplies from Target.
- $58 – Miscellaneous items from Amazon (some were food items, but I decided to include it in ‘Other’ instead of ‘Groceries’).
Cumulative Expenses For 2021
For the year 2021 so far, the Tako family has spent $18,622. That’s an average spend of $3,724 per month. We’re only five months into 2021, but already it appears our spending is up compared to our average monthly spend of $3,497 in 2020.
Could this be inflation causing our expenses to rise? It’s possible, but please remember that our spending in 2020 was artificially low due to the pandemic. We did very little traveling in 2020, and I totally expect our spending to be higher this year.
May 2021 Investing Update
On the investing side, May was another quiet month. The stock market continued to rise, albeit at a slower rate than we’ve seen in prior months. And I continued to mostly ignore it and get-on with life!
However, these ultra high stock prices had me thinking about selling a few shares. Specifically, some of our REIT holdings have now reached unprecedented levels, with Price to FFO levels over 30.
Rationally, this seems like a good time to sell. I’ve never seen my REITs this high before, but I also remind myself this could be a bad idea — Real estate has historically been one of the few assets that’s done well during times of inflation. Currently we don’t yet know how bad this current bout of inflation is going to get, so perhaps it’s a good idea to hold onto those REITs instead.
Maybe… I’m still thinking it over!
If anyone wants to accuse me of market timing, please go ahead. I’ve held these particular REITs for 20 years, and I’m up over 1,000%. So yes, please call me a dirty market-timer. I can handle it.
Incidentally, I’m curious how long you readers have held your stocks. I’m a big believer in letting your winners run. So please, tell me in the comments how old your oldest stock-holding is!
Thanks for reading! Catch you next time!
21 thoughts on “May 2021 Dividend Income And Expenses”
Look at you getting a cell phone plan for the month… nice job! 😉 I’ll have to dig into Tello – I don’t know a lot about them but the price sure seems right!
That clam digging expedition looks like fun… and inexpensive to boot. Glad you guys had a good time.
Jim @ Route to Retire recently posted…Finding Happiness Once You Leave the Rat Race
Thanks Jim! It sure was fun! First time clam digging for the kids too!
That clam digging looks soooooo fun!!!! I want to go too!!! Can you believe I’ve never sold a stock, only bought them????
I bought my first stock in college, which was probably around 2004 or so! I’ll try to look it up exactly.
I’m really impressed with your lifestyle!!!! I’d like to duplicate it!! 🙂
Never? That’s pretty impressive! 🙂
Our oldest stock position is few hundred AMZN with a cost basis of $34 from 2005-2008 timeframe. Didn’t want to sell as we would have to pay income tax and it all worked out. Next is a batch of AAPL MA V BRKB MSFT NFLX and a few others purchased in 2009 March – just letting them ride at this point as they have really low cost basis. I am also a big believer in hold them long and let the winners ride.
Wow, an early owner of Amazon and Apple. You must be doing well! Congrats!
Hey hey, Tako family! Looks like you guys have also found a reason to be a little optimistically happy about the goings-on here stateside—and get out and enjoy some of the world returning! Those digging permits were a pretty great deal for what I’d imagine was a lot of fun 😉
So far as the cell plan: coincidentally, Jenni has been on a 6-month Tello plan (from a web special) for a few months now…and hates it. Haha. She’s had a variety of MNVOs, and I think her preference overall has been Red Pocket. It’s not necessarily Tello itself but I think the Sprint/T-mobile service just hasn’t been great where we’ve been traveling. She’s constantly without service unless we’re in a very populated place and not inside any dense buildings. Meanwhile, I’ve been on FreedomPop now for years and while things are getting pretty wonky with their takeover, the AT&T service consistently works where Jenni’s does not. My most recent prepayment for a year of service was $40 (so $3.33/month) and almost always has plenty of data for me (1GB/month). I had RingPlus when they were still around before FreedomPop which was also on Sprint and didn’t seem to have nearly the service issues Jenni is having with Tello.
And after 20 years, I think you’re free to sell your shares as you please 😉 I think my oldest is BRK.B which I picked up once the shares were affordable with that 50-1 split way back in around 2011.
Chris@TTL recently posted…Our First Flights in a Year (and Our May ’21 Budget Update)
From what I’ve seen, Tello is using T-mobile’s GSM network, so if you’re not happy with T-mobile’s GSM coverage, that will be the case with Tello. For my part, it’s working great, and provided me the best value for my dollar.
Your mileage may vary of course.
I just loved the “Yes, I used a coupon”. I actually laughed out loud. Brilliant!!
I actually only own a few individual stocks but some of those I have owned for nearly 15 years.
15 years is very respectable! Nice job!
Wow, it seems like pretty tasteful and enjoyable month. Your level of expense tracking is awesome, I don’t feel like a freak anymore since I am doing it the similar way.
Never done clam digging before, maybe it’s something I need to look into with the kids. 🙂
Hasn’t T-Mobile subsetted their GSM network? If not, I’d imagine they might do that soon? Something to watch out for Mr. Tako.
Tawcan recently posted…Are groceries getting more expensive in Canada? – Costco vs. Walmart vs. Superstore Comparison
I’m not aware of T-mobile making any changes, their service has worked great for me for a couple decades now.
Digging for clams looks like fun for the whole family. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to your dividend update for June. I imagine it’s going to blow everything out of the water!
The longest stock I’ve held is probably Enbridge. I’ve actually been collecting Pokemon trading cards for over 20 years. I don’t know if those are considered investments. If so, they would be my oldest holdings, lol.
Liquid recently posted…Options trading update – May 2021
Sadly, I don’t think Pokemon cards count as investments. Perhaps there is a market for collectors though. 😉
I’ve held the majority of my stocks for the last 7 years and plan to hold them at least a few decades. The longest investment I had outside this is our starter condo that we were renting out that we moved out of was sold 14 years after buying it.
Seems wise to use the pre-paid SIM in one port and the normal cell SIM in the other. Is it easy to see that you are not using the wrong one when trying to browse the web or use data? And can you use a SIM card from two different countries? That seems like it would come in handy!
How does making phone calls work on Tello – is it all VoIP?
Yes, it’s easy to designate one sim for data and the other sim for calls/texts. Indeed it is a handy feature to have when you have sims from two different countries. In some places in the world it’s not uncommon to travel over the border frequently, and you don’t want to get hit with excessive cell phone roaming fees.
As far as voice calls go, they do both — VoIP and the standard voice call.
We’re heading to the beach this month. We’ll have to see if we can find a clam gun to borrow.
Interesting about Tello. I haven’t heard of them. I’ll have to check them out. The data plan is very affordable.
Be sure to look up the local rules and regulations in Oregon. I’m not sure if they do things anything like here in Washington.
You also want to check to make sure it’s safe — algae blooms have been a problem in recent years. You local Fish and Wildlife department should be able to help you out.
I’ve been seeing razor clams all over the place recently. I’ve got to look up some recipes. How do you all like to eat razor clams?
The Darwinian Doctor recently posted…The sushi wealth test