If I’m being perfectly honest, November is really NOT my favorite month. Where we live in the Pacific Northwest, November tends to be extremely wet, cold and dark. This is usually not very conducive to a positive mental attitude. With only the Thanksgiving holiday, there aren’t even many holiday’s to look forward to in November.
This November was especially difficult, because like many other people we mostly stayed home due to the pandemic. I was feeling a little down to be quite frank.
Some people might like the idea of snuggling up under a blanket and watching Netflix or online-shopping for the entire month, but that’s not the case for me. I’d rather be outside doing something… which is exactly why I took our boys “Black Friday Fishing” this year. The kids had a ton of fun and it felt REALLY good to get outside for awhile.
Don’t worry, we stayed masked-up and well away from other people when we were fishing!
Plenty of fresh air, and a meal of delicious rainbow trout when we finished.
Dividend Income In November
Unfortunately, dividend income for November was one of our lowest months of the entire year – $68 in dividends. I’m not worried however — This is low amount is expected. It’s just part of the regular rhythm of dividend payments, which are typically paid out quarterly.
Most dividends end-up arriving in the months of March, June, September and December. Outside of those months, dividend income tends to be almost non-existent, like it was this November.
For the year so far, we’ve collected $46,145 in dividends. Yes, we’ve been pretty lucky — Most of the stocks in our portfolio didn’t end-up cutting dividends due to the pandemic. A couple did, but their dividend amounts were so tiny those stocks didn’t have a big effect on our annual income.
Dividend income has remained high all year… which is exactly the opposite of what I had predicted back at the beginning of the year.
I’ve never been happier to report, “My dividend income prediction was completely wrong for the year!”
Household expenses totaled $4,231 in November for the Tako family. This amount is a touch higher than our “average” monthly spending, but not amazingly so. Over the years November has become something of a splurge month — We buy fancier foods and plenty of Christmas gifts for ourselves, relatives, and close friends.
Here’s the monthly spending breakdown by category:
Grocery spending in November was $588. This is slightly higher than we usually pay for food every month, and is most likely due to some fancy foods we bought to celebrate. Typically our family spends around $500 per month on groceries, so it’s OK if we spending a bit more on some months.
But what can we eat on a mere $588? Rice and beans? Pasta and cans of tuna fish?
Well, delicious food just happens to be one of my frugal superpowers. We eat very well on this amount, and feel like we’re living a very luxurious lifestyle on $588!
For example, rather than eating turkey on Thanksgiving, I opted to pick-up some steaks. (They were on sale.) Paired with asparagus and potatoes, this made for a fantastic Thanksgiving meal.
Normally we don’t eat that much red meat, but since it was a holiday I splurged a little. Most nights are simple yet delicious homemade food, like this broccoli soup:
Salads are a very common occurrence at our dinner table. They’re healthy, can be made in hundreds of different ways, and they’re quite affordable too. Like this sausage and avocado salad I made one night:
Whenever we can, we try to eat seasonal food — whatever vegetable or food that’s cheap and available during that particular season. In November, pumpkins that were cheap, so we cooked up some fancy rice and pumpkin soup:
A few times every month we also have “Japanese night”, and we cook-up some Japanese homemade favorites… like this tarako spaghetti (tarako is a kind of fish eggs, fairly common in Japanese cooking). I like mine extra spicy with lots of siracha:
Now that the weather is colder, soups and stews make a regular appearance at our dinner table. This white stew (with chicken thigh and bacon) is a perfect example of one stew we cooked up in November.
Does any of this look good to you? I know I enjoyed it, and I enjoy the low grocery bill as well!
Fuel spending in November came to $51. Yep, we didn’t do a lot of driving this month. Mostly due to the pandemic.
We spend a lot more time walking or riding bikes around our neighborhood now, which is a great change from driving the car everywhere. It keeps us healthier, happier, and gets us outdoors more.
As usual, our largest single monthly expense is our home mortgage. This amounted to $2357. If this seems like a lot of money, please remember that we live in a high-cost of living area, and real estate is pretty expensive.
While we technically could pay-off our remaining mortgage at any time, we’ve chosen to retain that money and hunt for better investments.
This decision has proven to be a good one in 2020, with several good investing opportunities appearing. We had the necessary cash-on-hand and were able to make those investments because of our mortgage. If all of our money had been tied up in our home, it’s unlikely this would have happened.
Our internet expense for the month was $45. This is our regular monthly payment for 100Mbps cable internet from Comcast (XFinity) with 5Mbps upload speeds. It might not be the fasted package out there, but it’s more than sufficient for our needs.
While it’s technically possible to spend less in this category, it doesn’t seem like a good idea. The internet has become such an essential service in 2020 that it makes good sense to have “decent” internet, rather than trying to save $10. It’s not worth the extra headaches.
Mobile phone spending in November came to $0. In prior months, I completely skipped over the cost of our phone service… because it’s almost nonexistent.
That said, I totally understand that readers want to see this category… so I’m adding it now in all it’s boring glory! — Zero dollars.
Why is it zero?
Typically we prepay our mobile phone service once a year. This happened back in May of this year, and amounted to $35 for two phones. Yes, that was our annual amount. Google Voice handles most of our telephony needs for free, so why bother paying more than necessary?
Utilities totaled $489. This was three different utility bills — electricity and gas bill at $109, water at $257, and garbage at $122. This was a high monthly amount, but mainly because of the cost of our water bill (which is bi-monthly) and our garbage/recycling bill (which is tri-monthly).
Now that cooler weather is here, our energy usage is rising a bit, as we need to pay for heating our home. This should remain elevated through the winter months.
Insurance costs in November amounted to $0. After a very expensive October car insurance bill, it was nice to get back to paying nothing again.
As usual, we prefer to pay very large once-a-year insurance bills due to the slightly lower cost afforded from doing it this way.
(For the curious: We do have home-owners insurance. It’s included in our mortgage. Call me lazy, but I don’t normally break that number out here in the insurance section.)
Other spending was $699. The “Other” expense category is something of a ‘catch-all’ for all the expenses that don’t fit anywhere else in this monthly report. Any expense that doesn’t fit into the other categories, I put it here.
In November we had a lot of “Christmas gift” spending which really grew the “Other” category. Rather than revealing what certain Christmas gifts are (I know Mrs. Tako reads the blog), this month I’m just going write “Christmas Gifts” for some items.
Here’s the breakdown:
$22 – Two school photos for our boys.
$240 – Various Christmas Gifts from Amazon.
$17 – Christmas Gift from a Internet retailer (must remain anonymous).
$137 – Christmas Gifts from Target.
$77 – Christmas Gifts from Costco.
$21 – Christmas Gifts from Bed Bath And Beyond.
$17 – Emergency fast food meal from McDonalds. (Yes, it was an emergency! I didn’t have time to cook!)
$170 – Swimming Lessons for the boys.
I guess we did a lot of spending on Christmas gifts this year, but I think it’s OK. We didn’t spend much on travel in 2020, so I think it makes sense to ‘give’ a bit more this year.
Cumulative Expenses For 2020
For the year so far, the Tako family has spent $38,467. This works out to an average monthly spend of $3,497. With YTD dividends of $46,145 , our YTD spending is comfortably in the green — $7,678 less than our total dividends!!
That’s pretty good! As long as we spend less than our dividend income, we’ll never need to sell stocks to fund our lifestyle. Instead, we use that excess cash to compound by making additional stock purchases.
December will probably be another expensive month (it typically is). I’d guess our total spending is going to be about $43,000 by the end of the year. This is lower than normal, largely due to a lack of travel in 2020. (The pandemic ruined our travel plans.)
I assume many other people are in a similar boat this year. Here’s to hoping 2021 has more travel!
November 2020 Investing Update
On the investing side of things, November was a fairly uneventful month. We mostly sat back and let stock prices rise in November. Our net worth almost certainly increased as a result, but I try not to check our net worth more than once a year. (The last time I looked was January 2020)
As mentioned back in October, we’ve been trying to acquire shares of Axos Financial (Symbol: AX) at good prices, but November didn’t offer any bargains on shares. I’m up nearly 40% from my initial purchase back in October, so I guess I’ll consider that a success even though I wanted a few more shares.
Instead, I’ve contented myself with trying to sell a few options on Axos, but again the market didn’t cooperate. My attempts to sell more option contracts at prices that I deemed ‘reasonable’ were unsuccessful in November (Update: I’ve had slightly better luck in December).
Oh well! Between rising stock prices and selling options, I’ll take rising stock prices any day!
That’s it for November! Thanks for reading!