Apparently my new cadence is to update these “monthly” financial reports every two months, and right before the next month ticks over. As Regina and I keep asking each other – where has the time gone?! We are definitely in a time vortex these days. Somehow we’re almost in October? I don’t get it. Time is a flat circle and we’ve been in a COVID-induced time warp for over a year and a half now.
Regardless of the time situation, since it is almost October, it’s past time for me to update our spending for July and August. Like it seems like with most years, our summers are the most expensive time of the year. We also ordered a new chest freezer (twice the size and half the energy use of our existing one, thanks to it being Energy Star). We’re using our tax refund for the purchase, though, so it’s not showing up on this report. That, and it won’t arrive until almost mid-November, even though it was ordered in August. Here’s to hoping it actually does arrive in November. Supply chain breaks are real, all, so please consider purchasing anything you need well in advance if you can afford it.
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Food and Drink
Our restaurant spending has been bouncing around more or less the same amount, but wow our grocery bill has gone up significantly. This isn’t because we’re suddenly buying fancier stuff, either. This is thanks to increased costs. Inflation is definitely hitting hard in the food category. At least we are just about done buying eggs for now, so at least there’s that? And the garden has produced well throughout the summer, reducing our produce costs to close to zero.
Thanks to our trip down to Oregon at the beginning of August to visit Regina and her family, we spent quite a bit on “Vacation Food,” after not spending any in that category in June or July. September again is a big fat zero in that category, but here’s to hoping we take at least a couple short localish trips this fall. With Covid exploding all over the PNW and overwhelmed hospitals, it hasn’t felt good to leave our bubble of highly vaccinated population because we’re in a location where we could get into a hospital bed in the case of a medical emergency.
After months of low spending in this category, I took the dogs in for their annual check up in July. Our lower maintenance dog had a small lump on her hip checked, and it turned out to be a mast cell tumor and needed to be removed. July’s spending was the standard annual checks plus an additional clinic visit at the surgeons prior to having the tumor removed.
We take our dogs to the Renton Veterinary Clinic for big medical stuff – like surgeries – so we took her down for this one. That cost shows up on the August expenses. Compared to what we would pay at a more local clinic, it is well worth the drive down to Renton. The veterinarian down there is top notch, and their prices are much, much better.
After not having to pay for my gym membership for a long time while they were closed due to COVID-19, I sucked it up and continued to pay for months after they re-opened, even though I wasn’t going in. I was grandfathered in for a really great price, so I’d kept it in the hopes I would finally go back.
Instead, the gym location closest to my house announced that it would be closing. I immediately asked to cancel my membership, as that was the last straw to finally say goodbye to that gym of more than a decade. They had continued to charge me, though, so I’ve now had to escalate that to disputing the credit card charge. Even calling them out on Twitter didn’t do it. One more reason to pay with a credit card – when a business ignores you, the credit card charge can be disputed to halt that charge.
“Gardening” is more “homesteading” in general now because this includes chicken costs. We definitely spoil our chickies with specialty snacks as well as high quality, local, organic food (and plenty of food scraps from the kitchen).
I’d like to say that their foraging and compost scraps reduce their overall costs, but we negate that with the special snacks that we buy them (like expensive live meal worms and bags of “Party Mix.” But hey, we’re starting to eat some eggs (and compost in the form of chicken manure) too, so maybe it will even out one day? Like…. ten years from now.
The garden is a much more frugal endeavor than the chickens these days, but that’s due to a lot of years of set up. Now, I’ve done a decent job of building soil, the perennial crops are getting a lot larger, and I save and start much of my own seeds. I still buy a few seed packets, Sluggo, and plant starts, so this cost isn’t zero (and a lot of watering after a very hot and dry summer). But we also eat a lot out of the garden, so I’d say this is a net positive now.
July & August 2021 Spending (Excludes mortgage, childcare, insurance)
|Aug 2021||Jul 2021||Jun 2021||May 2021||Apr 2021||Mar 2021||Feb 2021||Jan 2021||Overall|
|Including Mortgage Principal||28%||32%||50%||36%||41%||46%||41%||43%||42%|
Thanks to high expenses, pretty much all the savings the last two months have been unseen – that money never hit our bank accounts (or disappeared immediately to our IRAs). We send extra money to our mortgage every month (plus the standard principal paydown), money to our IRAs, and money to other REIT-like investments without even seeing that money.
We really haven’t had any extra to send to savings beyond that, so these months have felt really squeezy. That’s the point of automatic savings though, right? We still saved 32% of our incomes in July and 28% in August (including standard mortgage principal), and we’re at almost 40% year to date.
That doesn’t even seem possible, considering the additional cash we haven’t been seeing come in. But – that’s the point of automatic savings though, right? So that money disappears to your future self without your current self’s ability to spend it. We are definitely in a privileged, excellent position to have these feel like “broke” months, when they very clearly aren’t.
And then of course, our net worth still somehow continues to skyrocket. The stock market and the housing market are bananas and disconnected from reality, and so our net worth feels very disconnected from reality. Monopoly money, indeed.
It’s been more than three years since I initially downloaded Personal Capital and started actually tracking our net worth. While savings rate is still more important to me because it’s what we can actually control, there is something to be said for having a sense of your overall net worth (though also important to know NOT to look during market volatility if it would make you tempted to pull your money out).
I was unconvinced for a long time that I even needed to track our net worth, but I’m so glad that I finally set up an account where I could track it all. I especially appreciate being able to look at the graphs for individual area, like investment accounts and cash savings.
We have a bunch of separate accounts, so it’s really nice to see them all in one place. I’m also working on growing our overall cash savings, and Personal Capital aggregates them all across four different banks, which makes things a lot simpler.
If you haven’t set up a way to track your net worth, I’d recommend Personal Capital for that purpose. If you use this link to sign up, you’ll also get a $20 Amazon gift card for doing so.