Wow! Another month is gone already? Holy-heck did October ever fly by fast! I was pretty productive this October, mainly due to the kids being back in school/daycare. With the kids away, I can generally get a good 24 hours per week to work on various projects around the house…
Which is exactly what I did for most of the month of October! I was so busy trying to get all my outdoor projects done before our ”monsoon season” started, that I even missed International Octopus Day.
For a jobless-bum, I worked pretty hard in October! For the most part, I crushed my TODO list. You can checkout all the results in my Fall Projects And Life Updates post.
October also means the start of “The Holidays”, beginning with Halloween. This year Mrs. Tako made Halloween costumes for the boys — They went as the famous Mario Brothers — Mario & Luigi!
I think Mrs. Tako did a bang-up job on the costumes this year. She made the hats, overalls, and mustaches from fabric scraps and remnants. The red and green shirts were just the boy’s usual shirts turned inside out!
Personally, I think the mustaches were absolutely hilarious!
Overall, the kids had a great Halloween. They had fun trick or treating around our neighborhood… along with all the other ghosts and goblins.
You know what else was scary this October? Our finances. Things did not go as well as I would have liked…
Dividend Income In October
Dividends in October were a fairly unexciting $1855. I suppose I should be happy with all that much money coming in… but compared to our record breaking September($12,627!), dividends were on the lower side.
This is of course, expected. Most of our assets pay out dividends quarterly, so this means 4 months of the year end up having really huge dividends — March, June, September, and December are the biggest payout months.
Year-over-year our October passive income fell by about 1%. That’s roughly $11 lower than last year. Boo! Generally speaking, our passive income tends to march continuously upward, so this month was very much a anomaly. This is the first time in recent memory that our passive income has fallen!
I attribute this drop entirely to lower interest rates in October, since such a large part of our income comes from interest-rate sensitive money-market funds.
For the year so far, we’ve received $45,487 in dividends. That should put us right on track to meeting our dividend growth goals for 2019. We might even break that goal by a little (<$1000)!
Overall, I’m happy with our income trajectory this year — Our dividends are growing at a decent clip above inflation, and our annual dividends are now pretty close to median household income levels!
Expenses in October were $6,797. This was an extremely expensive month, due to a couple of large annual expenses, and a few “one time”-type expenses.
Here’s the spending breakdown by category:
Food expenses in October were $562 for the entire month. We cook nearly all of our meals at home, so the low monthly food expense is a reflection of our eating and cooking habits. Normally we spend on average around $500/month, so October was slightly higher than usual.
While most families would never dream of trying to cook every meal at home, in reality it isn’t all that hard. You just have to stick with it. I actually enjoy the challenge of trying to cook healthy low-cost meals every month.
October was no exception — I cooked up a veritable storm of edible deliciousness at a fraction of what it might cost to eat-out. Need some examples? OK, no problem!
Tacos are always a big hit around our house. This time around I opted for smaller ‘street’ style tacos. Like the kind you might get from a taco truck. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never seen a taco truck serve up something this delicious! (Yes, that’s bacon!)
When the weather gets colder, I tend to make lots of soups and stews. One night I made my famous homemade “chili con carne”. It’s always a hit with the kids even I make it spicy!
One weekend in October Mrs. Tako and I threw a birthday party for a sushi-loving friend and we created this beautiful looking DIY sushi platter. You wrap your own sushi rolls at our house!
Of course big parties always mean having a little extra food, so I used the “leftover” ahi tuna to create Japanese dish called “maguro-donburi”.
Want a close up of that? Here you go!
Yeah, leftovers like that don’t suck! Speaking of leftovers, fried rice is one of my favorite way to clean-out the refrigerator. I tossed together this rather nice looking batch of fried rice one evening in about 30 minutes.
Lately I’ve been on a big Vietnamese spring roll kick… I’m wrapping up a batch of these delicious fresh rolls for dinner almost every week now! All the fresh herbs and vegetables make for a nice healthy dinner!
While I do tend make a lot of Asian inspired dishes, I’m not against trying out other cuisines. One night in October I decided to make ‘huevos rancheros’ for a change of pace. I’m no expert, but I think it turned out great!
Western style recipes tend to be a little meat heavy, but sometimes I do make traditional ‘Western’ fare for some variety. This batch of ribs, mashed potatoes, gravy, and salad was one such meal.
Overall I think we eat pretty well for a family of 4 averaging around $500! Let me know how much you spend on food in the comments!
Fuel costs in October amounted to $116. This is a average amount for us, and amounted to 3 fill-ups. This gas was entirely used by Mrs. Tako’s car on her commute. I didn’t buy gas at-all in October, and instead opted to walk whenever possible. Usually I only drive when I need to run an errand across town. This amounts to very little driving on my part every month (typically less than 300 miles).
Mortgage & Childcare
As usual, mortgage and childcare expenses were our two largest expenses in September. These two expenses totaled $3,945. 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 a good value for the money.
Our internet expense for October was $49.95. This is the normal amount we pay for “60 Mbps down and 5 Mbps up” cable internet through Comcast.
For the past two years our monthly internet cost has remained exactly the same. Next spring our contracted price promotion at this rate will end. So far, Comcast has given me the same $49.95 promotion for the past two years, and I hope we’ll be able to renew it for a third year!
Our utility bills in October amounted to…. zero dollars! Yes, once again we had no utility bills to pay in October. To achieve this masterful feat of savings, I simply turned-off the power, and water to our home. Easy-peezy!
It was the perfect quick-fix to our outrageous utility bills! We just shivered in the dark all month. Surprisingly Mrs. Tako didn’t even complain about the lack of heat, water, or light!
OK OK, I’m only kidding! I didn’t do anything of the sort!
Our utility bills were either already paid due to them being bi-monthly utility bills, or the amounts were prepaid in previous months to get credit card sign-up rewards.
Nobody went cold, and we earned credit-card reward points! Hurray for no utility bills!
Insurance was one of our biggest expenses in October, and the entire reason why it was a much ‘spendier’ month. Normally this category is $0, because we pay our auto-insurance only once a year to lower costs. October is when that annual bill is due, and the expense tends to be a very large … which of course I put on a credit-card for rewards points.
This year, our car insurance totaled $1,440.61. Mrs. Tako and I have had a fairly clean driving record, so this amount was lower than last year. (Note: This insurance is for two cars, a 2006 Honda and a 2016 Forester.)
Hopefully our good driving record continues and our insurance drops again in 2020.
“Other” spending is expenditures that don’t fit neatly into any of other categories. In October we spent $683 in this category, which I think is quite a lot. Here’s the breakdown of all the money spent in the “Other” category:
- $247.25 – Car registration taxes and fees.
- $4.87 – A birthday gift for Tako Jr. #2’s friend. (We used a $10-off coupon. Normal price was $14.87)
- $59.46 – Legos for the kids. (Shhh! This is a Christmas/Holiday gift, don’t tell!)
- $25.50 – School field-trip expenses for Tako Jr. #1.
- $1.19 – I
bribedrewarded Tako Jr. #1 with his favorite candy after he got his flu-shot without crying or making a fuss.
- $344.14 – Eight thousand pounds of river rock delivered for a landscaping project. Covered in my Fall Update post.
- $0.86 – A replacement screw to fix a bathroom sink.
Clearly the landscaping project and our car registration fees were the most expensive items on the list. I’m grateful these large expenses won’t be reoccurring anytime soon.
Cumulative Expenses For 2019
For the year 2019 so far, the Tako family has spent $52,374. Outside of our mortgage and childcare, we’ve spent $15,173 on what I call “Core Expenses”. I think we’re doing pretty good for a family of four in a high-cost of living area!
Note: That “core expense” number also includes our summer travel and entertainment expenses, which can explode quickly during the if we don’t travel-hack.
October in particular was a very expensive month (mainly due to our big annual insurance bill). I’d like to see our monthly net expenses drop below $5k for the rest of the year, but this seems unrealistic given the fact that I’m car shopping right now.
Buying a new(er) car would definitely destroy any hope of having a $5k month!
October Investing Updates
Unfortunately the markets were on absolute tear in October. I couldn’t stomach buying at such high prices, so I simply held onto our uninvested cash and rode-out the party. I didn’t even sell any options in October.
From a investing standpoint, it was a very uneventful month. I was definitely looking around for good deals, like those I featured in my October Investing Ideas post, but I didn’t pull the trigger on any of them.
While many people are perfectly comfortably buying in “at any price”, I’m not. I personally like to remind myself to stay humble. Return is as much a part of the price you pay as it is what kind of asset your buying. If you want good returns, buying at a good price is required. I simply prefer to buy good assets at decent prices, but Mr. Market had other ideas in October.
Thankfully I’m perfectly content to sit on our extra cash until better deals come along. Maybe November will see a few good opportunities arise! Wish me luck!
[Image Credit: Flickr]