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.
December 2021 Net Worth
And just like that, 2021 is in the books. It was another weird year, much like 2020. In some ways, it felt like the longest year ever, but it also felt like it flew by. Some combination of the pandemic, getting used to life in a new place, and raising two small kids has completely warped my concept of what’s normal.
But that’s enough reminiscing. This post won’t be a 2021 retrospective; I have way too many December updates to talk about.
We Bought a House!
Here’s the (long-winded) post: Our Pandemic Home Buying Journey
And if you don’t want to read the whole story, here’s the TL:DR –
We moved to Virginia last December. We rented at first, and then began looking for a home around March 2021. It was a complete shitshow, and we kept getting outbid in an insanely competitive market. Eventually, we paused the home search to regroup and try a new strategy. We decided to hunt for off-market houses in the neighborhood we loved. We quickly found a seller. After some negotiating, we agreed to a private sale, which we finalized in December. We got a great house at a below-market price in a win-win deal for the buyers and sellers. We close next month and should be moving in March 2022.
We’re really excited to find our next home and begin planting our roots in Virginia. But that’s not the only big news this month…
We’re Getting Roommates!
Here’s a weird fact about me: I’ve cohabitated with people who were not in my immediate family for 13 out of the last 15 years.
I owned a multi-family property that I shared with tenants for 9 years. After that, we bought a single family home and converted the basement into an apartment which we rented out for 4 years. And now, we’ve convinced Mrs. BF’s cousin and her boyfriend to move to Virginia and be our roommates!
I’ve mentioned these family members a couple times in the past. We visited them in 2019 when they were attending graduate school in Sweden, and they also came to visit us here back in October. It was an audition of sorts, as I played tour guide and made my best attempt at selling Richmond as a new home.
They moved back to The States this summer, and have been job-hunting for the past few months. Mrs. BF was able to help her cousin land an interview with the local University/Hospital system doing clinical research, and she just accepted the offer.
They’ll be moving in with us in early January. It’ll be a bit cramped in our rental house, but we will have plenty of space once we move to our new home. We’ve agreed to host them rent-free at first, and in return they will help with cooking, cleaning, childcare etc… Honestly, I feel like this is a great deal for us, as we need the support. Maybe we’ll even get to have a date night for the first time in 2 years? Well, maybe after the Omicron wave recedes.
And one more piece of news related to the new home and new roommates…
We Bought a Minivan!
When our family visited in October, there was one glaring problem: we couldn’t all fit in the same car. Two kids (with car seats) and four adults meant that we had to take two vehicles everywhere we went. Now that they will be living with us, we need to add another car to the mix. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m now driving a minivan.
Actually, it’s kind of fun. The kids love being able to run around inside the van when we’re parked, and it’s much easier loading and unloading. It’ll be really worthwhile for our frequent roadtrips back to Connecticut. And it can haul a ton of crap, which will be useful for my DIY projects at the new house.
Financially speaking, it cost more than I’d like to spend. Obviously, this was an awful time to buy a used vehicle, but we needed to add an another car with the two additional drivers moving in with us. Ultimately, we plan to sell Mrs. BF’s car when we no longer need 3 vehicles, so we wanted to make sure this one lasts at least 10 years.
So far, everyone is a fan of the new whip.
Christmas in Virginia
We also just wrapped up our second Christmas in VA. Last year our family plans were wiped out by the winter Covid surge (and lack of vaccines at that point), but this time around we were able to celebrate in a more traditional way. For the second straight year, our Norfolk Pine did an admirable job serving as our Xmas tree, and we may retain its services for years to come.
My family came down from CT and spent about 5 days with us, which was great. It was nice to not have to travel this time, and the kids certainly enjoyed seeing the grandparents. The grandparents in turn spoiled the kids with lots of toys that can’t even fit in our house.
We closed out 2021 by eking out yet another all-time high for our net worth. As you can see, our cash balance dropped a bunch, as we placed a deposit on our new home, purchased the minivan, and had a few other expenses detailed below.
Spending and Not Spending
|Utilities||$310||electric, internet, trash, gas, water|
|Total||$9,065||minus the donation|
Minivan: In addition to the monthly expenses, we spent $15,500 on a 2012 Honda Odyssey with 115,000 miles, which is a lot of money (MSRP was $38,000, for what it’s worth). If not for the pandemic-induced shortage of used cars, it probably would have cost $12k, but that’s OK. As I mentioned, we plan for this to stay in the family for another 10 years/100,000 miles, so it won’t really matter that we overpaid for it.
Transportation: In addition to the new vehicle, we also paid our semi-annual car insurance premium and car taxes in December. In addition, I had some routine service done on my car.
Vet: I mentioned in last month’s update that our dog Percy has been having some breathing trouble, and was undergoing a procedure ($620) to see if it could help. After a really rough week where I thought he wasn’t going to make it, he’s recovered somewhat. His long-term prognosis is still not very good, but he’s doing better now than he was a month ago.
Income and Investing
We earned our normal W2 incomes in December, along with our final $600 child care tax credit from the federal government.
When comparing notes with my 2021 Investment Strategy, I think we did pretty well. We were able to max out our 401k/457b’s, our Roth IRAs, my HSA, the increased $10,500 dependent care FSA, and I even made some ESPP contributions. We also put $8,000 into our kids’ 529 plans, for which we get a state tax deduction. Finally, we invested the remainder into our Wealthfront account and a bit more Bitcoin.
Stay tuned for a comprehensive 2021/2022 Investing Summary/Forecast, which I’ll try to post in the coming weeks.
How was your December? Did you lay low for the holidays, or did you tell the pandemic to shove it? Any big changes in your life during 2021? Let me know in the comments.
10 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – December 2021”
Wow a lot going on! That was smart to buy the house off market. My car recently died so I had to buy a used car in this terrible market. I don’t want to think about how much more it cost me than if I had bought two years ago. I have benefited from the surge in home prices so you win some you lose some.
Hey Tom, yeah it makes sense to alter your timing where possible, but sometimes things just can’t wait. If we didn’t find the off-market deal, we would have kept waiting. Paying that much for an older minivan was kind of painful, but as long as it doesn’t immediately fall apart, I won’t regret it.
first off, that really sucks about your dog struggling and there isn’t much you can do about it. i swear our previous one seemed to come back from the brink of doom 2-3 times in the last couple of his years. secondly, a mini-van?! it was bound to happen at some point. we really could have justified one a couple of years ago for mrs. smidlap as a painting mover but i steered her towards a wagon. it was subtle but i did it.
also, that’s pretty great you’ll be sharing housing. i have always liked having people around in my life. should be fun for y’all. good luck in the new year.
Yeah, it’s sad about the dog. But on the other hand, he was homeless and then spent two years in a shelter before we rescued him, because apparently no one wanted him. He’s had 5 comparatively awesome years with us, so even if his days are winding down, it was a good stretch. Hopefully he’ll be good for a while now.
I can’t believe my primary vehicle is now a minivan, either, but I kind of like it. It’s ridiculous how much room there is inside of it. Coming from a long history of driving only hatchbacks, it feels like a literal boat.
I also have always enjoyed having people around. I’m an only child, and I think I was kind of lonely growing up, because ever since having roommates in college I’ve preferred to live with lots of people. In fact, I’ve never lived by myself at any point in my life, which is weird. The more the merrier, right?!
Hi BF! Love getting your updates. Our numbers are very similar but I’m in HCOL boston. Curious what you consider your FI number to be and if you’re planning to RE any time soon… ours is $2.1 as best as I can guess and we’re about two years away. Happy to chat more.
Hey Jacob, thanks for reading! I went to school in Boston and still have friends/family there, definitely HCOL for sure, especially when it comes to housing expenses. It’s funny that, after almost 4 years of blogging about FIRE, I still haven’t explicitly laid out a plan. The back of the envelope math is that our post-childcare spending will probably be about $60k annually, and I’d probably use a 3-3.5% SWR, so that puts us around $2M. In reality, we’re at least 4 years from any chance of drawdown scenario (my wife has some loans that will be forgiven via PSLF), and by that time we will most likely be past the $2M mark. I really should write something specifically about our plans, though, so thanks for reminding me!
First off, very sorry to hear about the pup and hoping for a continued recovery. It sure seems like Dec was a wild and crazy month. New housemates, new czar, the holidays! Whew. You must be exhausted. Hope you get moved in quickly and have a bit a respite. Here’s to a spectacular 2022 Adam!
Hey Mr. Fate – yes, quite a crazy December indeed! Unfortunately, it feels like we never get a break; daycare has closed down twice since November, and I’ve been juggling childcare and work for weeks at a time. I hope we can get through the current wave and then hopefully find some sort of normalcy. Or maybe I’ll just quit my job, that’ll solve a lot of problems. Who knows what’s in store for 2022! Hope you are able to enjoy this year as much as the last. Cheers.
Minivan! Now you can get things done. Nothing like having the room in a car, especially for the road trips and home maintenance. That’ll be nice having help with the kids and the home maintenance. Our monthly expenses align pretty close for totals, with the contrasts/reverse being childcare and groceries. Just makes me grateful for my MIL helping us out and me working from home more often that we aren’t paying the outrageous childcare costs. But man, I can’t keep our grocery bill down haha. Anyways, here’s to a great 2022. Congrats again on the house. Look forward to reading about your move in.
Hey Noel, yes the minivan is already proving its worth. This past weekend, all 4 of us went to pick up Mrs. BF’s cousin from the airport, and we fit all her luggage no problem. If we tried to do that in our other vehicles it would have been a circus. The childcare cost is outrageous, but there’s not much alternative unless one of us wants to leave the workforce. I mean technically, we’re getting close to the point where we can actually do that, but not quite. Having family support is awesome, it’s good you can take advantage of the situation. I have a feeling our grocery bill will continue to grow in 2022, but I hope it doesn’t start to compete with the childcare cost- then we’re in trouble!