Net Worth Update – August 2020

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.

August 2020 Net Worth

via Personal Capital

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.

August – Chaos, and Order

In the five years we’ve lived in our house, spanning from August 2015 through July 2020, we lost power exactly zero times. Much like the fabled Thanksgiving turkey, I felt more and more invincible as my streak of good fortune grew.

In August, my fragility has been exposed. We lost power this month on three separate occasions, spanning parts of 6 days. The first time was the remnants of hurricane Isaias, which rocked CT and knocked out our power for almost 3 days. Next was a freak (and unexplained) outage the following week. And finally, a cell of severe thunderstorms dropped by neighbor’s tree onto the power line. At least in this case, the cause of the outage was tangible.

some patio destruction

The power loss was quite disruptive to our routine. Because our well pump cannot function without electricity, an outage equals a loss of running water. Accordingly, we moved into my parents’ house after it became apparent that we would be without power for an extended period.

We also had to temporarily evict our new tenant, who found a hotel to stay at for a few nights. I should appreciate the fact that we suffered no real damage during the storms. However, it’s pretty exhausting to deal with two small children and our jobs when we can’t even figure out where we’re going to stay each night.

For someone who preaches antifragility, the past few weeks have really fucked things up. I’m hopeful that the worst has passed, but this is only the beginning of hurricane season. We shall see.

If this wasn’t enough, the dog also had a recurrence of the vestibular disease (vertigo) that he experienced last August. Which means we had a vet visit, and I cleaned up a lot of vomit this month.

Combating Entropy at Home

While fate assails us with unending destruction, our day-to-day resistance to the chaos has been relatively successful. As part of a potential home sale I mentioned last month, we’ve been doing a lot of minor repairs and fixes around the house.

I successfully re-tiled our back entrance way after I accidentally destroyed it some months ago. We repainted a couple rooms, and refinished the ceiling in a few locations where cracks had surfaced or repairs needed to be made. Additionally, I fixed our broken lawn mower myself, which I’m pretty proud of.

celebrating my birthday in style

Big news: Kid BF (formerly Baby BF) is officially 100% potty trained, which will save us on the diapers, the literal waste generated, and the mess. I also convinced her to keep telling people, “I’m housebroken now!” which I think is funny, if not slightly demeaning.

Regarding our potential move / Coast FI plans, I have no new update. Mrs. BF is into month 3 of the interviewing process, so we’re just waiting to see how it pans out.

Month-Over-Month Comparison

We did it We hit a 7-figure net worth! This is pretty remarkable, considering our net worth was in the ~650k range in late March. We’re up more than 50% in just 5 months. Goes to show you how predictable markets are.

I must also mention that our home equity took a substantial leap this month ($28k). The Zillow estimate (Zestimate) on our home jumped, due to some algorithmic update and recent market conditions I assume. I think the new estimated value of our home (~$400,000) is probably closer to reality than the previous value, as we have been watching the comps in our neighborhood over the past few months.

I know that home equity is not the same as money in the bank, but if we do sell the house we’ll actually be converting much of that equity into cash during the moving process.

Spending and Not Spending

Home Insurance$2,022yuck
Home Maintenance$226paint, filters, etc…
Student Loan$0no payments until 2021
Shopping / Misc.$806many random expenses
Discretionary$407Birthday party, booze
Total$8,084$6,062 without home insurance

Home Insurance: I generally pride myself on my ability to make sure I’m never overpaying for a recurring service, such as a utility bill or insurance. Our car insurance, phone bills, and internet costs have been consistently low for the past 5+ years. Home insurance, however, is one thing I’ve failed at repeatedly. I literally cannot get a better price than $2000+ per year for our home. Last year I got quotes from numerous different providers, and called our current company multiple times, and the best I could do was lowering the premium to ~$1,600. And what do they do? Raise it back over $2,000 immediately the following year. Fuck me, I give up. Another reason to get out of Connecticut- over $10,000 per year between property taxes and insurance.

We had a lot of miscellaneous expenses this month, including:

  • A $144 vet bill
  • $180 to split the hotel costs our tenant incurred due to the outages
  • Approximately $346 for a new mattress for our tenant (seriously, we treat our tenants well!)
  • $111 for a new backup hard drive, since my old one has stopped functioning
  • ~$90 for food and booze to celebrate my mother-in-law turning 60
the garden is cranking out tomatoes!

Income and Investing

Our savings contributions this month weren’t very large, since we spent a lot on daycare and home insurance.

We collected rent on the basement bungalow, but this was partially offset by the hotel costs we shared and replacing the mattress in the apartment.

We made a small, token contribution to our brokerages. I’ve been mostly building up a cash “opportunity fund” since I last wrote about investing the crisis.

We made about $300 selling random stuff this month, including some house plants, a CO2 cylinder, and Kid BF’s car bed (she upgraded to a pink bed!).

That’s all for us. How was your August? Did you have any bouts with Chaos, and did you win? Let me know in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – August 2020”

  1. that really sucks about the power outages and the dog vertigo. you gonna spend some more dollars on a generator or just sell the place and let the next people figure it out? hey, i million bucks is one mighty big accomplishment and congrats on that milestone. that home insurance is some pile of b.s. i think ours is around 1800/year and we have an antique house with full replacement coverage or something like that.

    • Everyone and their dog (with or without vertigo) is trying to buy a generator right now. I’m not gonna be THAT guy. If we end up staying, I will definitely acquire a small portable unit so we can keep the water on and the freezer cold, but I wouldn’t ever buck up 10 grand for a situation that happens so rarely.

  2. Congrats on joining the 7-figure NW club!! (says someone who made it here last month!)

    Bad luck on the power outages 🙁 We’ve been lucky that in all our years in this cold climate the only time we had any power outage was during the “polar vortex” couple of years ago.

    That’s a lot of tomatoes for a home garden! Sell them in your farmer’s market?

    • Thanks, we were right behind you guys, as expected. We have an absurd amount of tomatoes right now, that’s just a sampling. We’ve been bundling up a few lbs at a time and dropping them off at our neighbors and family’s houses. As normal, we never actually profit from the abundance of eggs, veggies, etc…


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