September 2020 Dividend Income And Expenses

Wait, what?  September is over already?  How did that happen?

With the kids now back in school (well, OK… virtual school) and my focus on keeping the kids focused on their studies, September absolutely flew by.  It was here and gone in a flash!

The Tako family mostly stuck to home and kept to ourselves in September… which I suppose is pretty normal life these days.  You know, because of the pandemic.

Thankfully, September still had a few nice weekends we used to clean-up the garden and prepare for fall.  This turned into a really fun experience when the kids and I discovered this hoppy little guy hanging-out in our garden…

garden frog

With some quick action, I was able to capture Mr. Froggy (above) for the kids to check out.  He turned into a low-cost “one day” pet for the kids.

frog science

(Don’t worry, we eventually returned Mr. Froggy to the “wilds” of our backyard.  He was safe and sound.)


Dividend Income In September

Dividend income in September amounted to $14,470.  This was our highest monthly dividend income for the year (so far), and we’re quite happy to see the dividend income still flowing into our bank accounts despite the pandemic.

Year-over-year, September dividend income increased 14.6%.

As you can see in the table below, dividend income from our portfolio is quite lumpy.  This is expected.

September is typically a big dividend month due to the timing of when we receive dividends from our stocks.  Stocks usually pay-out dividends quarterly, so this means most dividend payments tend to be heavily weighted to the months of March, June, September and December.

dividends Sept 2020

For the year so far, we’ve collected $45,373 in dividends.  Most of our stocks haven’t cut dividends (yet!), and our passive income sources continue to fund our lifestyle.

The year still has 3 months remaining, and I’m not going to put anything past 2020 at this point — Anything could still happen!  Dividends could still be cut!

Despite my earlier estimation of poor dividend growth in 2020, I suspect we’ll actually see some dividend growth this year, due to the effects of compounding additional money during market lows.


September Expenses

Household expenses in September totaled $3,198.  This was our lowest monthly spending in 2020, and I’m pleased with how we kept expenses low this month.

Here’s the breakdown by expense category:

expenses by category


Grocery spending was $378 in September, one of our lowest food spending months in a long time.  Typically our family spends around $500/month on groceries, so it’s good to see these lower cost months once in awhile.

How do we keep the food bill so low?

By avoiding expensive packaged food, and spending carefully to maximize our food dollars (shopping sales, meal planning, etc).  Of course, skipping expensive meals-out and cooking at home saves a ton.

This doesn’t mean we’re deprived of a good food however.  We eat very well!

Take for example this plate of roasted drumsticks, furikake rice, and pumpkin soup (see my recipe for pumpkin soup).  A simple, yet delicious meal!

pumpkin soup

Often times we take good advantage of food sales.  Eggs were on sale in September, and I used the opportunity to whip up some Thai Holy Basil with fried egg.  It’s as good as in a Thai restaurant!

chicken holy basil

Then there was the night we got fancy with a salad, some bacon, and some fried eggs…  Gotta eat those sale eggs up!  Yum!

eggs and salad

Our biggest food splurge of the month was a “sushi night”, which of course we made at home.  We prefer to make a kind of sushi called “Temaki” which we roll ourselves (here’s a quick video about how to roll temaki).  This was the plate of fixin’s.

sushi plate

The results (when rolled) end-up looking a bit like this:


I’m a big fan of these “build it yourself” style dinners.  I thought it would be fun to do a “Burrito bar” one night, and this idea turned out great!

burrito bar

The kids loved picking their own ingredients out, but we still had to help them roll up the final burrito.


Who needs Chipotle when you can build it yourself at home for a fraction of the cost?



Fuel costs amounted to $31 for the month of September.  We aren’t driving much this month due to the pandemic, and this is perfectly OK by me.

We spend a lot more time walking or riding bikes around our neighborhood now, which is a great change from driving the car.



As usual, our largest single monthly expense is our mortgage.  Recently, our monthly mortgage was adjusted downward to $2357/month, which is approximately $3 less per month than previous months.

Why the change?  Our bank realized we had a larger than necessary escrow balance (for property taxes and homeowners insurance).  As a result, they reduce our monthly payment.

While we could technically pay off the remaining mortgage at any time, we’ve chosen to retain that money and hunt for better investments. (More on this later)



As in previous months, our internet expense was $45 in September.  This is our regular monthly amount, and we’ll pay this same price for the rest of our annual contract.

For the curious, we pay 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.


Mobile Phones

In prior months, I skipped over mentioning the cost of what we pay for our mobile phone service… because it’s nonexistent.  We paid $0 in September for our mobile phone service.

But I still get readers asking why we don’t include this item in our numbers… so I’m adding it now in all it’s boring glory!

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’s our annual amount.  Google Voice handles most of our telephony needs for free, so why bother paying more than necessary?



Utilities in September totaled $355.  This includes our energy bill ($60) and a ridiculously large water bill ($295).  During the summer months our energy usage tends be quite low, but water usage tends to be quite high (as we’re watering the garden and plants in our yard).

This phenomenon reverses in the winter, when energy use rises and water usage drops.

Compared to the rest of the country, our weather is fairly mild (but very wet).  This means our utility expenses tend to be fairly affordable throughout the year.



Insurance costs in September were $0.  Whenever possible, we try to pay insurance bills for the entire year all in one go, to lower the total cost.  For example, our car insurance is paid once per year.  Typically in October.

(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.)



The “Other” expense category is something of a catch-all for all the expenses that don’t fit elsewhere.  Any expense that doesn’t fit in the other categories I put here.  “Other” spending amounted to $31 in September.

Here’s the breakdown of individual expenses:

  • $1.20 – USPS postage for a overseas letter.
  • $10.45 – A special cleaner for a car MAF sensor.
  • $19.64 – A picture frame from Amazon.  Nothing too fancy, just a simple frame for part of a gift.


Cumulative Expenses For 2020

For the year so far, the Tako family has spent $29,866.  This works out to an average monthly spend of $3,318.  With YTD dividends of $45,373, our yearly spending is $15,507 less than our total dividends.

Hey, that’s pretty good!  The extra cash means we have some wiggle room in the coming months to either grow expenses or fund additional asset purchases.

Generally speaking, the holidays tend to be a bit more expensive than other months, so I expect our spending levels to increase a bit in November and December.

net expenses Sept 2020

September 2020 Investing Update

With the markets continuing their wild volatility in September, I sat on our excess cash waiting for good prices to arrive.  Mostly that didn’t happen, and the excess cash continued to earn around 0%.

The good news is, I’ve found a stock sector that looks attractive right now.  Namely, banks.  I think there’s some very good investing opportunities to be had in banks.

Yes, yes, I know… the internet is filled with naysayers trying to tell me I’m going to lose my money AND stock returns from banks are going to stink in the future due to low interest rates.  Yes, I got it!

Thankfully, I don’t have to listen to the random opinions of the internet!  They can be safely ignored, and I can go about my business compounding money!

In my opinion, some banks will still prosper despite the lower interest rates.  The trick is in identifying the unique niche that’s going to do well!

While I haven’t made any purchases yet, I believe I’m getting close to finally putting some of that excess cash to work.

That’s it for September!  Thanks for reading folks!


[Image Credit: Flickr1]

23 thoughts on “September 2020 Dividend Income And Expenses

  • October 4, 2020 at 8:59 AM

    Congrats on a great month!

    Pretty disappointed with the name “Mr. Froggy” tho. Next time have a family competition for the best name for your garden buddy.

    • October 4, 2020 at 8:17 PM

      Nice breakdown on the numbers, that’s amazing !! Good job !! Can’t wait to that one day !! Keep up the good work !! Cheers !

      • October 7, 2020 at 10:14 PM

        Thank you! It’s taken quite a while to get here, but it is a very good position to be in! 🙂

  • October 4, 2020 at 11:49 PM

    Hi Mr. Tako,

    Great update. Your food pictures look very nice. But I have to ask you. Is the portion in the picture all you eat for dinner or do you go back for seconds and thirds? Because I’m thinking I’ll still be hungry if all I ate was the portion size for dinner and nothing else…

    Congratulations on a record dividend month. I would have been at a record if not for a few dividend suspensions and cuts (I’m a holder of WFC among a few other financial institutions). My September came in at $13,223.95. This year is looking to be on track for just over $122K, or a 11.3% increase over last year. It’s enough to cover our lifestyle plus have a little surplus for reinvestment. Although that’s barely above 4X the poverty line where you are at on the West Coast, it goes pretty far in Thailand.

    September also marks a nice record for me where I’ve now collected more than $500K in dividends ($502,058.45 to be exact). And the next $500k will come faster – I guess it will be sometime in the year 2024. It took some 6 1/2 years to get to the first $500k.

    Take care out there,

    Mike H

    • October 7, 2020 at 10:14 PM

      Thanks Mike! $500k in dividends is an incredible goal!

  • October 5, 2020 at 8:31 AM

    Great dividend income and you also kept spending low. That’s amazing.
    I put some money back into the market recently. The stock market might drop a bit, but it should be okay in the long run. I doubt we’ll see another 30% drop unless something else big happens…

    • October 7, 2020 at 10:13 PM

      We’ve started dribbling a little in this October, but no major moves yet. The future is murky!

  • October 5, 2020 at 4:28 PM

    The food looks great!!

  • October 5, 2020 at 8:25 PM

    BOOM! Back the truck up! You had a monster dividend income for September. Amazing stuff. 🙂

    Food pics look nice as always. We love sushi but haven’t tried making it ourselves. We really need to try doing that ourselves. Any tips?

    • October 7, 2020 at 10:12 PM

      Fresh fish and good rice? It’s really not as hard as folks think!

  • October 7, 2020 at 2:29 PM

    Hold on, your energy bill is $60 for the month? That includes electricity and natural gas?

      • October 8, 2020 at 2:39 PM

        That’s neat. Is that average for you year round? Ours vary from $70-$130 depending on the time of the year.

        • October 8, 2020 at 2:49 PM

          Nope, there’s plenty of variation throughout the year. At times in the winter when it’s very cold our energy bill breaks $200.

  • October 8, 2020 at 1:27 AM

    Okay, I’ve gotta know how your dividend income is so weighted towards March, June, September, and December. I mean, I know that most companies pay then, so all investors (including myself) have the bulk of their dividends come in then. But how on Earth do you earn only $3 in August and the $14,000 in September? My January and February earn me about 40% of my March income (same for the rest of the year), and I don’t take payout schedules into account when investing. How on Earth did you manage to do that ?

    ARB—Angry Retail Banker

    • October 8, 2020 at 2:50 PM

      Dumb luck I guess? It’s not something I attempted to do!

  • October 9, 2020 at 12:05 PM

    Ah, all that food looks delicious!

    We’re only two people and we somehow spent nearly double your groceries for September in our little report. Crazy! It was an exceptional month and we use it as a luxury/social entertainment for little picnics and whatnot with friends… still, good job!

    Net worth closing in on $4M. Phone bill? Nah. 😉 I love it.

  • October 11, 2020 at 7:04 AM

    Great passive income at your age. Saving and investing is the right thing to do right from the get go.
    Slightly older than you (retired) and Canadian.
    I am just about your dividend revenue for the year but am now going in to the withdrawal phase of my registered accounts which is mandatory up here at 71 years of wisdom.
    Wasn’t as lucky as you in that my major holdings did cut their divs so I will be approx down 20% on the divs by year end. Still holding them as they are still paying albeit less than before.
    Looks like you sold something in Jan and re-invested to boost your March and subsequent quarterly divs.
    My quarters are Jan/Apr/Jul/Oct Not as high as yours but my other monthly are higher.

    Hopefully your kids can keep up the commitment to FI for their future.

    Take care, stay healthy.


  • October 11, 2020 at 1:16 PM

    Mr Tako, thank you for update. How do you spend $0 on the phone? I have looke in your May update and ut shows $12 & $23 annually. Which phones/plans do you have?

  • October 17, 2020 at 5:50 AM

    Dividends are nice to have but for us Canadians, capital gains (for now) are taxed much less than dividends (esp US dividends that are taxed as ordinary income). So Buying stocks and writing covered calls on them is all capital gains.

    I do make quite a bit with dividends but just not my go to investing.


  • October 21, 2020 at 11:53 PM

    Looking great! I’m impressed with your ability to keep expenses so low, especially on food.

    Once your passive income covers your expenses, you can escape the rat race! I love this post because it shows how it’s possible to achieve FIRE yet live a nice western lifestyle. It’s all about minimizing costs and investing in income-producing assets! Great job 🙂


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