Each month, I share a net worth update for the Brewing FIRE household. This brief summary of our financial standing serves as a progress report on our journey to financial independence.
In addition to giving a snapshot of our net worth, I will take a brief look at our spending, saving, and investing activity for the month.
April 2020 Net Worth
We use Personal Capital to track our net worth. Personal Capital makes it easy to track all of our banking accounts, investing accounts, credit cards and loans all in one place. Personal Capital also has numerous other functions for analyzing your investment holdings, asset allocation and performance, as well as some great retirement planning tools.
Despite all of the chaos and disruption going on in the world these days, our daily lives have been significantly quieter and almost serene. I say “almost,” because we’re still subjected to a daily hangry meltdown or toddler tantrum.
We’ve been taking full advantage of Mrs. BF’s maternity leave and the simultaneous onset of Spring. Our town has seven designated nature preserves with lakes, rivers, and hiking trails that we’ve been visiting almost daily. Of course, we are observing social distancing guidelines, which is pretty easy when we’re out in the woods.
It’s been challenging to keep a 2 year old happy without normal social activities, and also caring for a newborn. Mrs. BF has handled it admirably.
Hopefully we’ll get back to normal soon, whatever “normal” is.
With spring comes yard work. Fortunately, we’ve had plenty of time to tend the yard, till and plant the garden, and work on the various other outdoor projects around the home.
Speaking of the yard, I have an update on the side yard saga that’s been going on since October 2018. In my March 2019 net worth update, I told you that the power company was going to plant 34 fruit trees as a replacement for desecrating our land. In August I told you that they had no more budget and had fired the landscaping company in charge of the project.
Finally, after 18 months of bullshit, we have our resolution. We got a row of forsythias. Cue the sad trombone music. So we won’t have a massive orchard in our side yard, but that’s OK. We still have a nice field for gardening and recreation. And we do have apple, plum, peach, and cherry trees already planted.
My work status has not changed over the past month. Owing to the fact that I’m in chemical research and I can’t take the laboratory home with me, I’m still heading into the office 3-4 days a week. I’ve been trying to work from home on the other days, but it’s nearly impossible with 2 children under 2.5 years old in the house. God bless people that are actually required to do work and tend their children right now.
As I’ve mentioned a couple times, Mrs. BF has been on maternity leave since our son was born at the beginning of February. Unfortunately, she must return to work at the end of May. This is depressing, for a few reasons. First and foremost, our lives have been pretty relaxed during the past few months, because we actually have time for stuff. Mrs. BF has been able to cook dinner, do yard work, go to the dump, etc… which takes the stress off me while I’m working.
Come June, that’s all over. We go back to both working 10+ hour days, book-ended by childcare and exhausting weekends. My desire for FIRE will, I’m sure, strongly re-ignite as soon as we go back to the normal routine, as I’m always looking for ways to claw back time.
April showed a nice rebound from the lows we experienced in mid-March. We’re not quite back to the net worth levels we saw in February, but we’re above where we closed out 2019. I’ll take it!
The chasm between the stock market and the real world keeps growing. I still don’t believe we’re out of the woods, but we will have to wait and see how the “reopening of America” goes in the coming weeks and months.
Spending and Not Spending
|Utilities||$223||No solar :/|
|Student Loan||$0||no payments until October|
|Medical||$862||More baby bills|
|Shopping / Misc.||$386|
Overall, we had a relatively normal month. Here is a breakdown of our spending in April.
Student Loan & Childcare: the government has suspended student loan payments (and interest) through September, which means an extra $900 stays in our pockets. The added benefit is that these non-payments will count toward the 120 payments required under Mrs. BF’s loan forgiveness program (PSLF). In effect, we’re not paying for the loans but getting credit as if we are.
Medical: back in the February update, I told you that we’d be saving approximately 30% on our medical costs of the new Baby BF vs. Kid BF (former Baby BF). Well, we were wrong. The reason for the added cost? The circumcision expense goes against our son’s deductible. What a (literal) pain in the dick!
Stimulus Spending: since everyone’s favorite topic these days is, “how did you spend your stimulus payment?”, here’s our answer. We received $2,900, since the fresh baby wasn’t on our 2019 tax return. We split it into thirds: one third padded our savings account, one third went into our kids’ 529 plans, and one third upgraded my home office. I bought a new Macbook and an additional monitor to replace my 2010 iMac that was barely functioning anymore. With my increased “work from home,” this has been a welcome upgrade.
Utilities: I don’t think I mentioned before that our solar system shit the bed at the beginning of February. Long story short, it has taken Tesla almost 3 months now to fix the inverter (under warranty), and so we haven’t generated any power in this time. I’m pretty pissed off, but I don’t think there’s much recourse against such a large company that doesn’t really give a shit about people or customers.
Income and Investing
After a barrage of monetary windfalls in March, we had quite a drop-off in April income.
Mrs. BF’s short term disability payments and PTO ran out, so she’s not collecting a paycheck until she returns to work. Also, the Basement Bungalow was prematurely vacated in April, so no income there.
I’m fortunately still receiving full pay from my job, and we have a new tenant moving in on May 1st. Mrs. BF goes back to work at the end of May, and the cash flow spigot will be turned on again.
We also collected another $300 from Chase ($600 total) for signing up for a checking and savings account back in January. I’ll probably start looking at new sign-up bonuses in May.
Check out my post – How I’m Investing the Crisis: Part I, for a summary of what we’re doing with our investments right now. The short answer is “waiting and accumulating cash,” considering the market has been mostly range-bound in the time since that post.
How was your April? Did your portfolio recover? Did you lose your thankless job? Let me know how you’re doing in the comments.