Wow, this post is nearly a month late! While you readers have been patiently waiting for the next blog post, I’ve been goofing-off and taking a vacation instead of writing! Oops! That’s what happens when you become financially independent I guess!
This October, the Tako family decided to take advantage of our proximity to California, and take a 4-day road trip to San Diego.
As you might expect, the October weather was absolutely wonderful in San Diego. The days were filled with 72°F temps, and partly cloudy skies. The weather was practically perfect for spending time outdoors. Which we did a lot of!
During our trip, the Tako boys also got to enjoy their first visit to Legoland!
Being big fans of Lego, this surprise visit went over extremely well. The lines weren’t too long, and the Tako boys definitely enjoyed all the rides and activities appropriate for their age group.
Despite the high prices for tickets to these kind of theme parks, I think it was money well spent. Legoland definitely caters to a younger crowd, and in a couple of years our boys are going to be too old for it.
The other big activity during our trip was a visit to the San Diego Zoo, which is an absolutely amazing zoo. If you’ve never visited the San Diego Zoo, I highly recommend it on your next trip to San Diego.
Thankfully kids could enter the zoo for free in October, and our adult tickets were paid for with some leftover credit card points. This made for a very affordable all-day family activity.
It’s difficult to represent the size and scope of the zoo with just a few words and images, but the San Diego Zoo is huge! The zoo has tons of great animals (and plants) to view, and some you can see very close-up.
The remaining days on our San Diego trip were filled with visiting friends, and a trip to the beach. It wasn’t quite beach weather that day, but the kids didn’t mind in the least.
Overall, the trip was an absolute blast even though we did it “on the cheap”, using credit card points, and Airbnb credit. In total we spent a fairly frugal $458 (including food) for the trip.
Dividend Income In October
Despite the stock market being quite turbulent in October, our dividend income came in at a rock-solid $1,216. For October (typically a low-dividend month), this was a solid level of passive income.
This was also a 67% improvement from last year, which is pretty astounding. Primarily I attribute this to some new investments and dividend increases.
As you can see in the table below, dividend income continues to be very good this year:
Despite the turbulence, we’re doing just fine. While it is possible for dividend income to decline during a recession, my experience tells me this is the exception rather than the rule. Only weak companies cut dividends. Strong companies just keep powering through.
Things have to get really really bad before dividend cuts happen.
Expenses in October totaled $4,065. While this is larger than last month, it’s helpful to realize that $458 of this was spent on vacation in California.
Going forward, I expect our monthly spending is going hover right-around $4k… give or take a few hundred dollars for “fun items”, like vacations and Christmas gifts.
Here’s the breakdown of each expense by category:
Grocery spending was higher than expected in October, at $631. It appears our monthly grocery spending is going to hover around $600/month. This is now the new normal for the Tako family.
In the past we spent around $500/month on groceries. The increased spending is primarily because of inflation, and not our move to Arizona. Grocery prices are roughly similar in AZ, and we haven’t started eating steak and lobster every night. Inflation is clearly having an effect on our grocery budget.
Despite the higher grocery budget, we ate frugally in October. This bacon-asparagus pasta dish really exemplifies Octobers frugal cooking ethic. Simple and cheap.
Frugal doesn’t have to mean flavorless and boring however. This Thai inspired pork loin salad (below) was marinated for 24 hours in ground lemon grass, oyster sauce, and a few other Thai ingredients, and it turned out wonderful. Tons of flavor! It was also the cheapest protein available in the store.
It’s all about working with what’s cheap, and what’s available! Unfortunately I didn’t take a whole lot of food photos in October, but rest assured, we ate very-very well.
Perhaps it was because I was too busy eating delicious things on vacation!
Fuel spending on gasoline was $130 in October. This is surprisingly low, considering we took a 800 mile road trip to California. The big trick to keeping our gas expense low was not buying gasoline in California. At the time, gasoline was over $6/per gallon in CA, but across the border in AZ it was a much more reasonable $3.39/gallon.
The solution was simple — I brought a gas can along, and didn’t fill-up in the expensive CA zip codes.
After years of being home owners, we’re renters again! Our monthly rent is $2,212.50, which includes some required renters insurance. While I don’t really enjoy being a renter, this situation is likely temporary. We’re shopping for a house, but haven’t found one we liked yet.
Our local housing inventory is very limited right now, and we look at every house that hits the MLS these days.
Hopefully we can find a house in the next few months and have a big fat ZERO in this expense category going forward. That’s the plan anyway!
Internet expense for the month was $39.99. This is for cable internet — 200Mbit down and 14 Mbit up service. This is our normal contracted monthly amount, and it should remain this same price for the next 8 months.
For the record, this is slightly faster internet, and slightly cheaper than what we were paying in Washington state.
Mobile phone spending in October was $0, again. I know it’s not terribly exciting to report a bunch of $0 expenses, but this is to make a point: Our mobile phone spending is far lower than your average American family.
How much do you spend?
We choose to use a pre-paid mobile service, and pay for our mobile phone service only once a year. We last did this in May, and you won’t see mobile phone spending again until next year. (Note: This cheap service does not include a data plan)
Utility spending in October was pretty average at $301. This amount included the following bills:
- Electricity (monthly) – $116
- Natural Gas (monthly) – $22
- Water (monthly) – $82
- Trash & Recycling (monthly) – $79
To make a generalized statement about our utility bills here in Arizona, they are roughly similar to what we were paying in Washington state. That said, our gas bill has been amazingly cheap, primarily because we haven’t needed much in the way of heating yet.
Insurance spending in October was $0. We just started a new 6-month auto insurance policy in August. I don’t expect to see any new insurance premiums until January 2023.
Why do we pay our insurance in one lump sum? I like writing big checks! Seriously though, it’s cheaper to pay in one big lump sum, and we can easily afford the big payment due to our accident and ticket free driving record.
Generally speaking, it’s much cheaper to be a good driver.
Kid spending in October was $136, and this was entirely passport fees. You see, our youngest Tako Jr.’s passport expires soon, and we needed a new one for our upcoming international travel.
While it’s not fun to pay these passport fees, this is simply part of the cost of international travel.
‘Other’ spending in October was $614. This category is typically where I put expenses that don’t fit anywhere else. October was a very active month for ‘Other’ spending due to our family vacation to San Diego.
Here’s the breakdown of expenses:
- Legoland tickets for 4, and parking at Legoland – $297
- Vacation food (eating-out) expenses – $161
- Car registration expenses at the MVD – $156
Cumulative Expenses For 2022
YTD spending for the Tako family is $66,220. In past years, our spending has averaged around $4,000 per month. We’re obviously spending considerably more than that in 2022.
I attribute the higher spending to moving expenses and home selling expenses. Our move ended-up being far more expensive than predicted. Now that life has settled down again (and we don’t have big moving costs), our monthly spending has begun to normalized at around $4k/month again.
Thankfully, this year’s dividend income has increased along with our spending. We’re still spend less than our dividend income!
Here’s the breakdown of spending by month:
As you can see in the table above, this year has seen some wild swings in our spending but we’ve been lucky enough dividend income has kept pace. We’re beginning to relax the purse strings a little again!
With any luck, dividend income will continue its slow and relentless climb upwards. Is 2022 going to be another year of compounding? I certainly hope so!
As usual, any remaining cash is going to be reinvested into stocks, ensuring that we keep compounding capital during this down market.
Unlike September, I didn’t make any new investments in October. This occurred primarily because the stock market began a rising trend in October, making some of those “good deals” dry-up.
Back in September I lamented buying shares in a small bank stock “too soon”, and I didn’t get a terribly low price. This situation has quickly reversed course, and I’m back in positive territory as of last week.
Will this positive trend continue for the rest of the year, and into 2023? I find it very unlikely given the continued rise in interest rates… but this is the stock market. Anything can and will happen.
In my opinion, is one of the core tenets of stock market investing — Be prepared for anything to happen, because it just might! Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to witness some of the most amazing swings in investor sentiment, and I’ve realized some good fortune because of it.
So be prepared! We might just have a recession, or a whole new bull-market! Be ready to take advantage, however the market may turn!
That’s it for this month! Thanks for reading!
[Image Credit: Flickr]