September 2018 Dividend Income And Expenses

After a long hot summer in the Pacific Northwest, the clouds, rain, and cool weather are officially back.  This means the Tako family’s expenses begin their seasonal increase as the garden now produces fewer vegetables, and our heating costs grow to match the falling temperatures.

It was a golden summer (probably one of the warmest in recent memory) and I spent a lot of quality time with the kids.  We went camping, swimming, played at our local parks, road bikes, gardened, visited the library, built things together, and (of course) enjoyed the company of friends and family.

It was a pretty wonderful summer and one I will probably never forget.  I’m eternally grateful for all the time Financial Independence allows me to spend with the kids and Mrs. Tako.

I still think “time with family” is one of the best reasons for Financial Independence.

We spent a lot of time outdoors this summer — everyone got well tanned and soaked-up our requisite Vitamin D in preparation for the “dark times“.

Just like realm of Mordor (from the Lord of The Rings), gloom will now embrace the Pacific Northwest and we’ll be covered in perpetual cloud cover and rain for the next 9 months.

(There’s probably a Sauron running things here too.)  It’s super depressing and we probably won’t see a sunny day again until May 2019.

Wish us luck.  I hope we survive…


Dividends In September

Dividends in September totaled $10,898, which is our largest monthly payout this year.  This rather healthy sum occured because our main dividend payments happen in March, June, September, and December.

This just happened to be a ‘fat’ month for dividends.  Other months of the year tend to be a little leaner.

dividends september

Monthly dividend fluctuations like this are perfectly normal, and we make no attempt to “smooth out” the dividend payments.  Our focus is simply on owning the best assets that we can, which means dividend income will always be a little lumpy.

For the year (so far), we’ve received $38,071 in dividends.  Given our current dividend pace, our 2018 dividend income goal of $53k might be slightly optimistic.  I won’t be surprised if we end the year a couple thousand dollars short of our goal. (More on this later)


September Expenses

September expenses totaled $4,949 for the month.  It would have been a cheaper month, but we got hit with a number of inflation increases and “once a year” fees that made September’s expenses considerably higher than I was planning.  Boooo!

Here’s the requisite category breakdown:

september expenses 2018


Do you spend a lot on food?  Some months I think we do.  Compared to the really cheap summer months when our economic garden is producing a maximum, $465 feels like a lot for food.  But really, our annual average works out to around $500, so this wasn’t a terrible month.

As usual, there was plenty of really delicious food to go around.  When the weather starts to get a fall chill, I tend to turn to comfort-food recipes.  Like this homemade clam chowder.

clam chowder

I also whipped up a Mr. Tako classic — Chicken Chorizo soup.  It’s spicy, hearty, and everyone in the family just gobbles it down.  Even the kids!  (Also a great way to use up tortilla chip crumbs)

chicken chorizo

My homemade gyros (of the meaty variety) made an appearance in September too:

homemade gyro

And of course…. there were tacos.  There’s always tacos at Mr. Tako’s house!  We eat tacos at least once a week.  Sometimes more.


Clearly we live a deprived culinary life because we skip over-priced restaurants to make nearly all of our food at home.

World, this is my suffering, and it tastes delicious!



Fuel costs in September amounted to $75, which was unusual low for us (typically we spend around $100-$120 per month in fuel).  I attribute this low fuel cost mainly to the timing of fill-ups, but I also drove very little during the month.  I didn’t need to gas-up in September.  With half a tank of gas left, my car should be covered well into October.

Mrs. Tako did a normal amount of driving and refilled her vehicle twice in September.



Internet expenses in September amounted to $0 … exactly as it was in June, July, and August.  Rest assured we still have very speedy internet service despite a non-existent bill.

Why is our internet expense $0?

We prepaid our internet expenses back in May to achieve a credit card sign-up reward.  Usually our monthly internet bill is $49.95, but we prepaid $500 toward the account giving us a significant credit with our cable internet provider.

Unless a price increase happens, I expect to see our next internet bill in March of next year.


Mortgage And Childcare

Mortgage and childcare expenses was the category that really hit us with surprise price increases.  First, our monthly mortgage payment increased to $2315.05 (instead of the previous $2,180).  Our mortgage is a fixed-rate mortgage, so this increase was entirely to cover rising property taxes.

Everybody likes it when the value of real estate rises, but the downside is quickly rising property taxes.  Grrr!

The second big increase of the month was the cost of child care.  Tako Jr. #2 still goes to a daycare, and that daycare had its annual price increase last month.  The price increased from $1265 in August to $1444 in September.  That also included an annual registration fee, so my next monthly report will include a slightly lower daycare cost when that registration fee falls off.



Utility bills in September rang-up at $277.  This total was comprised entirely of our bi-monthly water bill.  Yes, that’s just the damn water bill!

This was our most expensive water bill ever, and we’re still in shock about the total.  I went around the house looking for leaks, but didn’t find any hidden swimming pools that might account for our gigantic water bill.

All of our other utilities (electricity, phone, etc) were prepaid earlier in the year to capture some nice credit card sign-up points.



The other category included a couple one-off annual expenses this month:  A school photo for Tako Jr. ($10) and the annual license plate registration tabs for our car ($267.75).

Yes, the annual license plate registration is very expensive here in Washington.  There’s not much we can do to avoid this large expense (other than driving fewer vehicles and older vehicles).  As cars age the annual registration fee is supposed to drop, reflecting the depreciated value of the car.

Compared to last year, the price of registration dropped $25.  While I don’t like large annual taxes, this is actually a big incentive to maintain and drive older vehicles.

Long term, that’s probably good for my finances AND the planet.


Cumulative Expenses For 2018

For the year so far, the Tako family spent $51,165.  I know that sounds like a lot, but please remember that we live in a very high cost of living area AND we have two children.

Believe it or not, this is nearly $3,000 less than what we spent at this time last year (2017).  I attribute most of our lower expenses to Tako Jr. #1 starting kindergarten.  As a result, childcare expenses have fallen.

With any luck, we can maintain this same level of lower spending for the rest of the year.

net expenses sept 2018


Investment Updates

Surprise, surprise!  In September, I actually did something with our portfolio!  After a couple years of Wells Fargo failing my dividend scorecards, we finally sold off all 3200 shares (roughly $176,500 worth) of this investment.

This investment represented about $6,000 in annual dividend income that needs to be replaced if we’re going to meet our 2018 dividend income goal.  It’s unlikely that I’ll find a replacement with slightly less than 3 months remaining in the year, so our income will probably lag a few thousand behind our annual goal.  Oh well!

Other portfolio changes in September included a new position initiated in Discover Financial Services (Symbol: DFS).  At the end of the month, we purchased 630 shares at roughly $77 per share.  That’s an investment of $49k.

If you follow my blog regularly, you’ll know that I’ve been considering an investment in the credit-card space for quite awhile.  I considered many of the smaller players in the credit card space and finally settled on DFS.  It doesn’t check all my boxes, but it does check enough of them that I think we’ll be able to safely keep-up with the market.  Here’s to hoping.

Although this investment only yields 2% dividends, it looks like a decent place to store some cash until better options arise.  In the meantime, I’ll keep looking for a market beating rocket ship. 🙂

Clearly we’re cash heavy too (after the WFC sale).  Cash now represents around 30% of our taxable portfolio.  Frankly, I don’t like holding this much cash (it earns less than 1% and it’s really heavy!).  But what’s an Octopus to do?

For now, we’re buying DFS and accepting a lower dividend yield.  In the short term this means a little pain in the “income department”, but over the long term I believe we’ll do better in the “net worth” department.


[Image Credit:  Special thanks goes to Steve @ ThinkSaveRetire for graciously providing today’s featured image…]

33 thoughts on “September 2018 Dividend Income And Expenses

  • October 6, 2018 at 4:01 AM

    Taco power! Nice month, thats alotta Wells Fargo shares, did you have a position on the board 😉

    • October 6, 2018 at 3:57 PM

      Haha, nope! Not nearly enough to be on the board! 🙂

  • October 6, 2018 at 7:02 AM

    Whoa, that’s a pretty big increase in property tax and childcare expense.
    Jr #1 started kindergarten so your overall cost should be down quite a bit, right?
    Nice move with DFS. I’ll check it out. We have a bit too much cash at the moment too, but that will be remedied soon. Our property tax is due next month on 3 properties. The holiday season and more estimated tax payment will drain quite a bit of cash too. Have a great weekend. I hope your migraine is gone now.

    • October 6, 2018 at 3:56 PM

      Right, our child care costs went down for a month, but then they went back up again with the inflation increase. You just can’t win I guess. 😉

  • October 6, 2018 at 8:41 AM

    I’ve been lurking a while and I still can’t believe you spend so little on food here in Washington. I’m in Seattle and feeding just MYSELF seems to run me almost $400 a month…

    • October 6, 2018 at 3:54 PM

      A big part of it is just not eating at restaurants. We cook most of our meals at home and stick to a lot of fruits and vegetables. No prepared foods to speak of.

  • October 6, 2018 at 9:11 AM

    Hi Mr. Tako,

    Those are some expensive property tax hikes. It’s a big move to get out of WFC but looks like you took some nice profit there. I’ve been eyeing DFS but didn’t have the cash on hand to pull the trigger, instead I bought some KHC- slow growth with all the debt but an income play.

    Congrats on the record dividend payout in September. Our September was also strong with a record, coming in at $11,564.65. It’s always nice to have these big months as there is fresh cash coming back in for future purchases. One day we’ll be living off a portion of these after tax funds.

    Stay well and I hope the migraines are getting better.


    • October 6, 2018 at 3:51 PM

      Yup, we held the shares for 10 years so there were some decent profits.

  • October 6, 2018 at 11:51 AM

    Is there a big capital gains tax impact from selling?

    • October 6, 2018 at 3:50 PM

      We’ve held the shares for around 10 years, so it’s not really a small capital gain.

      • October 6, 2018 at 10:03 PM

        So would that be around 20% in the US? Our capital gains tax is 40% of marginal tax based on long term so the highest it can be is 18%

        • October 7, 2018 at 12:47 AM

          In the US, the long-term capital gains rate starts at 0% and increases up to 20% depending upon your income level. Most people fall into the 15% bracket.

          On top of that, there could also be the 3.8% ACA net investment income tax which hits high-earning individuals.

          • October 7, 2018 at 8:08 AM

            You should look at doing some tax harvesting and selling off any losing positions to bring your total income down below $250K and avoid getting hit by the 3.8% NIIT.


          • October 7, 2018 at 9:16 AM

            Good in theory, but we have no losing positions.

  • October 6, 2018 at 12:45 PM

    Best of luck finding some place to put that cash to work! The month didn’t look to bad from an expense perspective, the inflation costs were considerable indeed. But your dividend is doing rather well, not considering the WFC sale. Curious to see where you will end up!

  • October 6, 2018 at 4:19 PM

    We live in the PNW, so I feel your pain. There’s so much I love about this area, but will admit that the winters are rough here. We escaped to Hawaii last year in January to get some sunshine, and were there when the false missile strike alert went out. It kind of put a damper on the vacation mood, as you can probably imagine, but was still a beautiful place to visit.

    I always love your food photos. Proof that you don’t have to eat out to eat well!

    • October 7, 2018 at 12:50 AM

      Thanks BB | sunshineshed! We love Hawaii, but its really expensive isn’t it? That’s the cost of paradise I guess.

      Here’s to hoping we get some nice weather this winter! 🙂

  • October 6, 2018 at 8:15 PM

    I just paid $800 for car registration here in Australia. That’s not a one-off transaction – it comes around every year…

    • October 7, 2018 at 12:51 AM

      Holy cow! $800 for a car registration… per year? What kind of car is that? I thought $267 was bad!

      • October 7, 2018 at 4:04 AM

        Everyone pays the same unless they’re on benefits from the government. I think they get a couple of hundred dollars off.
        I drive a nippy VW Golf.
        Count your blessings. Your health care costs are insane but your food, housing and (obviously) car rego are quite reasonable. 🙂

  • October 7, 2018 at 2:43 PM

    Mr. Tako – that’s a lot of cash in your portfolio! Are you holding that cash as dry powder in case the market takes a drop? Or just holding cash while looking for some value stocks? I hear that Warren Buffett is holding about the same amount of cash. I’m at 10% cash and raising about 1% per month via index fund sales. I think the market is a expensive and I don’t want to wait out another 3-4 year recession & recovery. Thoughts!

  • October 8, 2018 at 12:57 AM

    Nice dividends for Sept, Mr. Tako! That must feel quite nice selling off 3200 shares of WFC all at once. Did you do a countdown in your head (3 -2 -1… )?

    Love the food pics as always. The chicken chorizo soup is making me salivate! 😉

    • October 8, 2018 at 6:56 AM

      Yes, to the salivating! Is there any hope that we can please get that recipe?

  • October 8, 2018 at 12:27 PM

    i owned some wells fargo up until last year, but only about 5,000 bucks worth. i got tired of waiting on them to do better. warren buffet can wait. we own mastercard in the credit card space but that 0.5% yield wouldn’t excite too many dividend investor. DFS looks strong and only pays out 25% of earnings.

  • October 8, 2018 at 2:04 PM

    $51,165/year for a family with 2 kids in a high cost area isn’t that high. And nice work on getting it down by almost $3000 from last year.

  • October 9, 2018 at 4:37 PM

    Man I know I shouldn’t have read this post while hungry. Now I want some food!!!

    $3,000 less than what you spent at this time last year is pretty awesome. Way to go.

    Hard to imagine you received over $10k in September from dividend income. That’s so awesome. Hopefully we’ll hit that level one day.

    • October 10, 2018 at 2:48 AM

      At your rate of growth, you’ll be here soon Bob! 🙂

  • October 9, 2018 at 6:22 PM

    Awesome dividend income results for September, Mr. Tako! 5 figures in 1 month it such obvious proof that dividend investing works. Thanks for continuing to share your expenses and photos of your meals too. I really can visualize myself spending much of my financial independence similar to how you do. Congrats on the great results. Keep it up.

  • October 9, 2018 at 7:37 PM

    Stupid question: When you say “this investment only yields 2% dividends” to hold money, why wouldn’t you use something safer that pays 2% like a CD? My money market is almost at 2%. Also, I find it fascinating that no one comments that you are a stay at home dad (or retiree if you prefer) with kids in full time daycare. As a mother, I quit working when my kids were daycare age and kept the kids in daycare for an extra 6 weeks, and I got PLENTY of comments. You have a very nice audience! Thanks. I enjoy your blog!

    • October 10, 2018 at 2:46 AM

      For the record, I did NOT have my kids in fulltime daycare. They only went part-time so they could learn a second language. Before they could speak, they stayed home with me fulltime.

      Only recently did Tako Jr. #1 start kindergarten and we shifted Tako Jr. #2 to fulltime. This is a new thing for all of us.

      As far as the 2% goes – Unlike your CD, my investment in DFS will eventually see some capital appreciation. That is why we’re holding it.

  • October 14, 2018 at 2:31 AM

    Sorry to read about Wells Fargo – I just covered them on Seeking Alpha. Before, I even wasn’t aware about the string of scandals in this company. It was a risky bet and I think you’re better of putting your money somewhere else. After last days of market correction, there have been some nice occassios to buy the dip – maybe you did.

    Thanks for blogging. Always happy to come back (at least once a month),



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