Net Worth Update – April 2021

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 2021 Net Worth

via Personal Capital


One of the benefits of moving south is that spring comes much earlier down here. I’m not a fan of cold weather in general, and sometimes in New England the winter tends to drag on much longer than it should. Well, VA hasn’t disappointed me in this regard. In fact, we were experiencing 70 degree days already in March, and April was nearly perfect. We spent tons of time outside, enjoying the (surprisingly strong) sun.

I finally got vaccinated on April 1st, more than four months after Mrs. BF got her shots. In addition, our family up north was all vaxxed up at this point, which means one thing: road trip!

CT Visit

Five months after we left CT, we finally had the chance to return, and visit with family and friends. The kids were very happy to see their grandparents and aunts/uncles, and we were very happy to have a momentary break from parenting.

I got to stuff my face with New Haven pizza (best on earth, btw), hit up my favorite brewery, and get down to the beach. I wouldn’t say I was in dire need of these things.. well, maybe the pizza. VA pizza pretty much sucks.

All in all, it was a really nice visit, and great to catch up with family. As we (hopefully) begin to distance ourselves from this pandemic, the family visitations will be more frequent. We’ve already booked some friends and family coming in VA starting in June.

Getting Accustomed to Working from Home

Transitioning into fully-remote work has been a series of ups and downs for me. Work from home was never really an option during my career. I always wanted to bring the chemicals and instruments home with me, but the DEA/EPA wouldn’t allow it. So it’s new situation, not being tied to a physical location in order to prove my worth.

Don’t get me wrong. I really enjoy being remote. The amount of flexibility I have in my day is great. Being a Project Manager means that I basically determine my schedule, so it’s easy to carve out free time. I can do housework (cleaning, cooking, laundry) between calls, and run to the store whenever I need. It’s such a boost to quality of life, which I’m always talking about.

On the other hand, WFH can become depressing at times. I have nowhere near the level of social interaction I used to enjoy. Sure, I can call colleagues and bullshit, but it’s not the same. I have no “chance run-ins” with people, and no spontaneous discussions about baseball or politics. Combine this with the fact that we know very few people in VA, and I feel starved of human interaction.

Things will get better as time goes on. We’re getting to know our neighbors, and I’m looking into volunteering for some local nonprofits. Maybe I’ll join in some homebrewers club meetings, once they return from the virtual format. Building social networks takes time, I suppose.

And now my obligatory complaint about the house hunt. It sucks. We haven’t even had a chance to put in an offer in the last month. There are some weeks that not even a single house comes on the market in the school district we’re targeting. Literally zero, in an area with maybe 1,000 homes or so. When will supply/demand balance return?!?!

Month-Over-Month Comparison

We’ve hit yet another all-time high in our net worth. As always, I’m debating how much cash we should keep on hand. Once we get the housing issues worked out, then I’ll probably re-assess how much cash is necessary.

Spending and Not Spending

Student Loan$0
Shopping / Misc.$413mostly consumables
Entertainment$251YMCA, travel-related
Subscriptions$154Chase renewal
Travel$490CT Trip
Total$6,744minus the donation

April was a typical spending month for us. As usual, over 66% goes to housing and childcare. Guess who’s rooting for Biden’s universal PreK proposal???

Some other tidbits for this month:

Travel: as mentioned, we traveled to CT in April, totaling 7 days including driving. We stayed with my parents, which was free and also very convenient. Most of the expense was pet lodging for the dog ($285). We didn’t want to drag him back and forth in the car, though we might bring him next time. The rest of the expense was food, gas, and tolls.

Groceries: we were on the road for a week, so the grocery bill was abnormally low. But I think we finally worked out our food buying system down here. We’ll see if we can keep the food bill down next month.

Shopping: I use “shopping” as a catch-all category, mostly because I don’t want to spend a lot of time creating a million sub-categories when it doesn’t really matter. But this category is in the $300-400 range almost every month, which seems like a lot. In Mint, I tag each expense as “consumable”, “durable” or other, and the majority of our expenses are consumables. This would include diapers, cleaning products, toiletries, dog food, and any other recurring purchase that we don’t eat. OK, the baby eats the dog food sometimes. I don’t know what my point is here, except to say that all the miscellaneous things we need to survive cost money. Do you feel the same way about ‘consumables’?

Income and Investing

We each earned our normal W2 income this month. Also, we filed our taxes and received a net refund of approximately $2,600. With all the moving parts in our lives each year, I don’t think we can realistically get much closer to ‘breaking even’ with the IRS, though I’d like to.

On the investing front, I funneled some more money into our taxable account, which we keep with Wealthfront now. I promise to publish my write-up on using a robo-advisor very soon. Edit: here it is!

529 Update

Here’s what our 529 funding looks like for the kids. As I’ve stated previously, we’re roughly targeting $100,000 balances by the time they reach college age (15 and 17 years from now). I’m pretty convinced that higher education could look a lot different in 15 years, so I don’t want to over-invest in these accounts. We normally invest somewhere around $2,500 in each per year, though this may change in the future.

That’s our April update. How was your month? Do you enjoy working from home? How high is your “consumables” spending? Do your kids eat dog food? Let me know in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – April 2021”

  1. man, it’s so expensive to board a dog these days. thankfully we have done nothing but driving trips the past couple of years so banjo! can come along. i don’t know if i would love working from home for the reasons you mention. it’s hard to make new friends as you get older, i have found. i lived in norfolk way back in the 80’s for a couple of years and the culture was a little different from my new england sensibilities.

    at least your money pile keeps growing. must be the new robo advisor.

    • Indeed, it’s the robo-advisor, haha. Yeah, we’re working on building the social network. Having kids creates a lower barrier-to-entry normally, but in Covid times it’s hard to make play dates with other daycare parents. I think that’ll change over time, though. To be honest, we don’t feel culturally ‘out-of-sorts’ here. The suburbs around Richmond are relatively progressive, these days, so it hasn’t been too shocking going from a purple CT town to a purple VA suburb.

  2. Hi there!
    Just a thought on the dog boarding question – I’m curious if you used a professional service or an independent contractor? Coming from the other side of the equation (I pet-sit as a side gig) $40/night doesn’t seem too bad. However, I do see it was more than half of this month’s travel budget, so I can see wanting to reduce (or eliminate) that cost. You may be able to find slightly lower costs with independent pet caretakers or contractors through Rover/Wag/etc. I live in DC where the cost of living is a bit higher than Richmond, so I would think you could find sitters/boarders for as low as $30/night if you want to go that route.

    • We used a traditional pet boarding service. To be honest, I didn’t even think about a pet sitter or the various gig services. This is the first time we’ve boarded a dog in 5 years, but I suppose we should look into it if this becomes a regular occurrence. Thanks for the tip!

  3. This market… UGG. It was bad when I moved to Mississippi last summer (and it’s not even a desirable area) so I can’t even imagine what it must be like there now. I peruse from time to time and there’s nothing here anymore either unless you want to live somewhere very undesirable/major flood zone.

    I would think the post-pandemic world would mean there is some balance in our future, but nothing is predictable these days. I hope you guys get a miracle and can grab something up for a decent price soon!

    • Hey Liz, thanks. Yeah it’s been a struggle, but we have time and just need to be patient. When we met with our realtor last week, she actually said that the buying frenzy has started to drop off. Seems like people are getting exhausted by the market. Now if only the inventory would pick up slightly, we might have a chance haha.

  4. You pretty much nailed the work from home pros and cons. I think more flexibility moving forward–something like three days in the office–would be a perfect balance. I need the coworker interaction and the workplace setting helps to focus me, but the ability for productive micro-breaks at home has been a game changer. Cutting out a commute/having access to my own shower has also allowed for more consistent workouts. It will be interesting to see how this trends as we return to some semblance of normalcy. Great to see another net worth ATH!

    • That’s actually a huge bonus I missed – I’ve never been so consistent with my exercise routines as during the past 6 months. When I was in an office, there were so many ‘work lunches’ or extraneous tasks that would prevent me from maintaining my schedule, it’s really nice not to be disturbed by all the random noise.


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