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 2021 Net Worth
By most accounts, August was a lazy month. There were no road trips, no hotels, and no visitors. I got a year older. We spent most of our days at the pool, the James River, or generally hiding out from the sweltering heat. We also hit up The Watermelon Festival!
Side note: I’ve intimated, at various times, that summers in CT were hot, humid, and comparable to Virginia. I was wrong. We just did a streak of 15 or so days in a row that topped 90F. It’s definitely hotter down here. I think the big difference is that the heat here is just relentless, whereas we could catch a few cool days in the midst of a Connecticut summer.
Anyhow, since I don’t have any interesting stories this month, I’ll cover a different topic: the cost of looking decent at work.
The Cost of Chemists’ Clothes
I personally spent about $250 on clothes this month. For reference, I typically spend $300 per year on clothing. I’m not a fashionable person, I mostly wear neutral colors (read: grey) so that everything matches, and I wear what’s comfortable. So why the big bill? I’m finally liberated from the laboratory, and so now I can buy some quality clothing for the long haul.
Here was the problem: for the last 15 years of my life, I was a research chemist in a setting that required business casual attire. Most days I wore a button down dress shirt and khakis or dress pants. But I also handled hazardous, corrosive chemicals every single day. In case you didn’t know, even the tiniest droplet of dilute sulfuric acid will burn a hole through cotton instantaneously.
For 15 years, I destroyed clothes at an unbelievable clip. I always wore a lab coat, and went to great lengths to prevent anything from getting on my clothes, but I had to discard a pair of pants or a shirt nearly every month due to the indecency of having too many holes in the wrong places.
I would estimate that I went through at least 5 pairs of pants and 5 shirts each year. It was a mildly infuriating problem. So how did I keep the clothing costs under $300 per year? I only bought clothes on drastic sale. Sometimes Mrs. BF would pick up a pair of pants during her run to the thrift store. Sometimes I bought them on clearance for $10. Often times the clothes didn’t fit properly, weren’t the right size, had a manufacturer’s defect, or were just plain hideous. I bought undesirable clothing, because it had to be disposable.
I have spoken to the many benefits of my new role, including working from home, a flexible schedule and no commute. But another, less obvious advantage, is that my clothes have remained intact since I moved 9 months ago. Hence, I bought a few nice pairs of pants and shoes, because I know they will finally last. It sounds weird, but it was genuinely exciting for me to know that I won’t have to throw these clothes out in 6 months.
We made another net worth high this month, on the back of modest market gains. I’m still amazed how far we’ve come. Our net worth was roughly 50% of it’s current level just 18 months ago. Imagine jumping out in March 2020 to try and time the market, and missing this?
Spending and Not Spending
|Utilities||$268||electric, internet, trash, gas|
|Transportation||$251||gas + minor work|
|Shopping / Misc.||$437||840 diapers and 2,700 wipes|
|Total||$7,620||minus the donation|
Shopping: Costco was running a 20% discount on diapers and wipes this month, so we went crazy and bought $250 worth (and saved $50). I won’t allow our son to potty train until he wears all 840 diapers.. which will probably only last a few months anyway.
Groceries: I have no idea how the grocery bill got that high. Mrs. BF loaded up on proteins, and I made a sizable Costco run, but that’s still pretty high. Officially the first time we’ve spent $1,000 on food (groceries and take-out) in one month. Let’s hope this isn’t a trend.
Other: We signed our daughter up for soccer, which kicks off the dreaded decade plus of getting dragged all around town for kids sports. I’m half-joking, I guess. We want our kids to try out sports and other activities early, pick one or two favorites, and pursue them. I’m hoping she takes a liking to soccer, because I’d rather watch that than ballet.
Income and Investing
We earned our normal W2 incomes in August, and also got $600 from the IRS for our procreative skills. Mrs. BF made her first contributions to her new 457b plan, which I’m super excited about. There’s something about “penalty-free withdrawals” that just makes me salivate.
I also rolled over Mrs. BF’s 401k from her former employer to a traditional IRA. Her investment choices were piss poor in that plan, and she was paying 1.1% to own the total stock market, which sucks. Not to be outdone, the shit retirement plan provider charged $75 to move our money out. Good to see that some places still don’t care about screwing people over in every way possible.
Here’s what our current breakdown of investments looks like.
I promise an update on the housing situation in the next month. In lieu of more information, here’s a picture of the kids burning rubber. Or plastic.
How was your August? Take any trips? Does your job destroy your clothing? What would you do with 2,700 baby wipes? Let me know in the comments.
10 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – August 2021”
oh man, you’re preaching to the choir on chemist life ruining your clothes. i worked with tons of strong acids for years and as careful as you can try to be there was no stopping those little acid pinholes. thankfully i’ve had a “clean” job the past few years.
groceries have gotten crazy expensive. we’re about to buy a week’s worth for the smidlap-con retreat and i’m sure it’s gonna cost at least $250.
I knew you would sympathize with my plight. There was a period of time when I said “fuck it” and started wearing shirts and pants with gaping holes in them. You could see my boxers, and more skin than was decent. I think I stopped doing that when I turned 30 or so.
Congrats on the record highs! Smart move rolling over the mrs. 401k to a IRA. This 401k fees really are secret little killers and only worth it while actively using the account.
Yeah I know the pain/joy of kid soccer. Sort of an epitome of my short parenthood experience. This year we have 2 playing for the first time. Talk about hectic and fun. With the new tax law it’s sure tougher writing off those work expenses. Now that I’m in the office my clothes last way longer, so I’m not spending as much as I used to.
Hey Noel, yeah we’ve already created a “one activity” rule. If they get really passionate about a sport or some other pursuit, I definitely want to support it. But I’ve also seen friends dragging kids from soccer to gymnastics to violin practice to birthday parties and it looks like hell. We’ll see how our rule holds up.
I never actually wrote off clothing, though maybe I could have? What an aggravating experience, I’m just happy to be through with it. And sounds like you’re not either, so that’s good!
Almost a milly in the retirement accounts alone–a nice milestone to look forward to! What an incredible run since March of last year, indeed.
Gotta love the exit fee charges from these institutions–can’t pass up once more chance to piss you off on the way out the door.
I hear you on the expensive dining summer. Making up for lost time at a handful of establishments!
I feel like the exit fee is them literally giving me a middle finger for leaving. But whatever, I’m just surprised how terrible some 401k providers are. My wife and I have been blessed with Schwab and Fidelity only until this point, so it was interesting to deal with an awful provider.
I wish we had something nice to show for all the grocery spending, like some king crab legs in the freezer or a nice steak. Sadly, we don’t. I think the kids are starting to pull their weight, and pushing up the food costs. Oh well!
I just discovered your site – really enjoy the length and plain-spoken approach. Do you plan on publishing an article on your drawdown strategy? Thanks for taking time to publish
Hey Jonathan, thanks for comment and the kind words. I do plan on writing about our drawdown strategy, but right now I have no idea what my strategy is! Definitely something we’re thinking about though, so I will certainly talk about our decisions as we make them.
So, 1.3 million net worth is a serious accomplishment – congratulations.
I’d be curious to know if you have net worth or savings goals? Like, what do you want to have saved by the time you retire?
Hey James, thanks. That’s a great question, and I don’t have a great answer for it at this point. The problem is, we don’t have a clear expectation for “retirement”. I’m planning to leave full-time work in the next 12 months (hopefully), but my wife will be working full-time for at least a few more years, for a couple reasons but mostly due to student loans. To be honest, we’ve already met our long-term savings goals; we could easily retire when we’re 50 in 12-13 years. Right now I’m trying to figure out what the intervening years will look like, but I haven’t had too much urgency because we’re still a few years out from actually making these decisions. Maybe I’ll write about our glidepath / coast to retirement in the near future. Thanks again for the question.