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
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!
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?!?!
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
|Shopping / Misc.||$413||mostly consumables|
|Total||$6,744||minus 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!
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.