Ah, Fall! It’s that time of year when the weather turns chilly and damp, cold drinks get switched out for hot drinks (cocoa, tea, or coffee), and the leaves begin changing all sorts of beautiful colors.
Of course, Halloween is the main ‘holiday’ event in October.
Last year, Halloween was a ‘non-event’ in the Tako household due to the pandemic. We decided to hang back and not do anything in 2020. This year (2021) we kept things pretty ‘quiet’ again, mainly because our kids are still unvaccinated. No Halloween parties, and we only did a little trick-or-treating around our neighborhood. It was pretty quiet overall.
The kids got plenty of candy though — more than enough to rot their teeth!
And speaking of candy – let’s see what sweet dividend treats this October left for me!
Dividend Income In October
October was a quiet month for dividend income, with only $725 received in dividend payments from our various holdings. This lower amount (compared to September) is fairly normal for the month of October. Year over year, dividends for the month were 2.9% higher than last year.
Here’s a breakdown of 2021 dividend income:
As you can see in the table above, we have large swings in dividend income from month-to-month. This is entirely normal, due to the payout schedule of the stocks and funds we own. Some months the passive income stream is a veritable river of money, other months it’s just a trickle of cash.
Most dividend payments occur quarterly, with the bulk of dividend payments arriving in March, June, September, and December.
Clearly October isn’t a huge month for dividend income, and that’s OK. The “gusher” months usually make up for it. 🙂
October expenses totaled $4,273. This was a more expensive month, primarily due to auto-related expenses (insurance and licensing fees). Other than that, most of our expenses remained fairly stable and within our usual averages.
Here’s the breakdown of our monthly expenses by category:
Grocery spending in October was a reasonable $499. Normally we spend around $500 per month, so this month’s grocery bill was right in-line with what we’ve come to expect. Although I’ve definitely noticed prices are rising at the grocery store, crafty use of coupons and sales continues to keep our food spending quite reasonable.
And what did we eat in October? Tons of delicious food!
As the primary ‘chef’ in the house, I’m always cooking-up something delicious to please our taste buds! Our home cooked meals tends to lean towards “asian fusion” style cuisine. That’s just what I like cooking.
This egg fried rice and miso soup is a pretty good example of the kind of ‘average’ meal you’d find at our house.
Japanese home cooking recipes tend to be popular at our house. This lotus root and fried pork dish was one such meal that hit our table in October. Not many people eat lotus root here in North America, which is strange because it’s such a delicious vegetable!
As always, I try to optimize our limited food resources to reduce waste. This meal of hayashi meatballs and gravy over rice was a perfect example of “fusion” and “frugal” in October. (We have tons frozen meatballs that needed eating-up!)
Of course we don’t limit ourselves to just Asian inspired dishes only. I’ll happily cook up a giant pot of New England style clam chowder on a cold October day! It’s a delicious way to warm up, especially using the clams we dug in May.
(As my Dad likes to say: Clam chowder keeps you warm twice — Once when you’re digging the clams, and once again when you eat the chowder.)
One of my personal favorite dishes this month was this batch of Japanese-style friend chicken (known as karaage) that Mrs. Tako kindly made for the family. Mmmm mmm good!
The kid’s favorite meal this month had to be Okonomiyaki. It is something like a savory Japanese pancake. We make it with rice flour and cabbage, along with additional flavorful items like bacon, Japanese mayo, tonkatsu sauce, tuna flakes, and green onions. Mmm…. yum!
Fuel spending was a moderate $127 in October. Obviously prices are rising at the pump, and we’ve definitely noticed! That said, the Tako family doesn’t drive a lot on a normal day. I walk the kids to school every day, and Mrs. Tako works from home. Other than the occasional grocery trip, or taking the kids to soccer practice, we don’t use the car a lot.
Until our daily schedule changes significantly, I expect fuel spending will remain relatively low.
As usual, our largest single monthly expense is our home mortgage. This amounted to $2,313 in October.
The mortgage amount includes interest, principal, insurance, and taxes. If this seems like a lot of money, please remember that we live in a very HCOL (high-cost of living) area. Real estate is extremely expensive here. Most homes in our area sell for over $1 million dollars!
While technically we could pay-off our remaining mortgage at any time, we’ve chosen to retain the money and hunt for better investments instead. So far this has proven to be a very effective strategy. U.S. stock markets have returned far more than our home equity during the life of our mortgage.
Our home internet expense for the month was $45. This is the regular amount we pay every month (at least until our 1-year contract ends). I’m pleased with the performance of our internet package, and 100 Mbps seems to be the sweet spot for price/performance optimization.
While there are certainly faster and slower internet packages available, most of these don’t make a lot of sense for our household. Slower and cheaper packages would be too bandwidth limited for our multi-video conferencing household, and faster packages would be unnecessary.
Mobile phone spending in October came to $0. This might seem shocking to some people, but it’s actually correct.
This is by-design! It’s a choice we’ve made NOT to have extremely expensive mobile phone service.
How do we do this? We pre-pay for our mobile phone service, and pay only once a year. This happened back in May of 2021, and amounted to $34.50 for our two phones. (Note: This low cost service does not have a data plan)
When we do need a data plan (such as during a vacation), I use Tello. The pre-paid data plan from Tello was very low cost, a mere $4.25 per month of service (with up to 2 gigs of LTE data per month).
That excellent Tello promotion no longer exists, but if you’d like a similar low-cost plan, sign-up using my referral code: p3s4bkgq to receive $10 off. (That’s basically 1-month free!)
Utility spending in October was $0. Before you freak-out and think we don’t have electricity, gas, or other normal home utility services, please note that this is simply a billing quirk that happens several times a year.
Many of our utility bills are billed either bi-monthly, or tri-monthly, which means we don’t receive a bill every month. We also had a balance left-over at the Power/Gas company, so there was no need to pay for these services in October.
I expect utility spending in November will return to a normal (non-zero) value again.
Insurance spending was $820 in October. This was our annual car insurance for two cars, which is a once-a-year expense.
Why do we pay once a year? It’s cheaper! We prefer to pay the very large once-a-year insurance premiums due to the slightly lower cost (given by our insurance company) when paying annually. One lump sum ends-up being cheaper, so why not do it that 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 October was $724. This amount was higher than usual, due primarily to annual car licensing costs (see below).
Here’s the breakdown of “Other” spending in October:
- $312 – Car licensing fees and taxes (for two cars)
- $112 – Swimming lessons for Tako Jr. #2.
- $42 – Miscellaneous Amazon purchases (3d printer filament, and a new angle grinder part)
Cumulative Expenses For 2021
For the year so far, the Tako family has spent $40,977. This works-out to an average monthly spend of $4,097.
Here’s the breakdown of spending by month:
When compared to our YTD dividend income of $47,587 — we’re in pretty good shape!
For the rest of the year, I expect our monthly spending will rise a bit (November and December tend to be a bit more expensive due to the holidays), but I fully expect that annual spending will remain below our annual dividend income.
It’s a good place to be! For the entire year, I’m projecting a total dividend income of $62k. Without any surprise expenses, our annual spending will probably be around $52k by end-of-year.
October 2021 Investing Update
The month of October finished with no changes to our investment portfolio. Do I sound like a broken record? That’s because I very rarely make changes to our portfolio. (Surprise!)
I prefer to be a long-term holder of good solid assets, and not a trader of stocks, real estate, bitcoin, or whatever ‘pseudo’-asset is popular that week. It’s an activity that requires a ton of inactivity to be good at it! Clearly, I must be skilled at doing nothing, because it feels like many months since I’ve made any changes to our investments.
That said, big things are afoot in portfolio land. I might just be making some major changes in November! Will I bet it all on black? Keep on reading to find out!
That’s it for October folks! Thanks for reading!