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.
January 2019 Net Worth
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.
January was, unsurprisingly, a cold month in New England. It’s always harder this time of year to find the motivation to get outside and do things. We did manage to visit a few playgrounds and go for some short walks when the weather cooperated.
Being indoors for longer periods also gives us the chance to “tidy up.” Yes, we have given in to the Marie Kondo craze, and are decluttering our home in a big way.
I absolutely hate clutter, and I don’t have a sentimental attachment to anything. I would live in an empty house with a handful of clothes and a laptop.
Mrs. BF, on the other hand, likes decorating every square inch of horizontal space with knick knacks. It doesn’t cost us much money, because most of the stuff is handmade or acquired from thrift stores, but it slowly fills our house with kitsch (crap).
On a sad note, we had a tragedy in our extended family this past week. A weasel broke into our chicken enclosure, and savagely attacked three of our flock. The two bigger hens were injured but seem to have recovered. I can’t say the same for the third.
Friendly Ghost was a kind soul, and a prodigious layer of eggs. From the class of 2017, she was a veteran presence, and a source of wisdom for the younger chicks. Her spirit will live on, and her death will be avenged.
I’m going to experiment with a new format this month. Rather than covering all the categories, even if they are boring as crap (talking about you, Home Equity), I will give a quick breakdown of our monthly spending, saving, and investing activities.
I am also discontinuing my “Chart of the Month” section, because I will hopefully be posting more in 2019, and I need the material.
Spending and Not Spending
Property Taxes – $3,800: we pay our property taxes semi-annually, so January is half of our ridiculous tax burden ($7600 per year!). Last month I removed our escrow account in favor of paying the taxes out of pocket. Therefore, we opened a new Chase Business Ink credit card and put the tax payment on there. After making a few other purchases, we had our 80,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points. The property taxes are the main reason for the cash drawdown in January.
Upright Freezer – $180: when we bought the house, it came with an old second refrigerator in the basement. We have used this unit for additional storage, but we only use the freezer portion and it’s an electricity hog. So we disconnected it this month and bought an upright freezer on sale.
The freezer is probably our most valuable piece of technology in the house. It absolutely sparks joy. It allows us to make tons of extra food and freeze it, stock up on meat and cheese deals from the local market, and store various sundries like my hops inventory and a dead hawk. Yup, you read that right.
Automatic Chicken Door – $230: talk about an unexpected expense. We have protected our flock from coyotes, foxes, and birds of prey with overwhelming success during the past 3+ years. But once a stealth predator figures out that the wooden box in the yard is full of fresh chicken meat, you’re screwed. We had to install an automatic chicken door to protect the ladies, and we had to do it fast. Given more time, I probably could have built one of these things, but all the chickens would have been dead by the time I flashed the raspberry pi. The good news is that the door is working well, and our chicks are safe!
Income and Investing
Our recurring monthly income comes from my W-2, Mrs. BF’s W-2, and rental income from The Basement Bungalow. We also have sporadic money flowing in from my Brewpub side hustle, quarterly Employee Stock Purchase Plan sales, and a couple other random sources.
In January, we did not see any additional income beyond our normal paychecks and the rent. We did sell a few items during the decluttering that yielded $20 or so, and we should see more Craigslist and eBay sales next month.
As always, we invest the money according to my Investing Hierarchy. We don’t front load our pre-tax retirement accounts yet, but we normally load up the Roths in the first couple months of the year.
One of my 2019 Goals was to build up a cash cushion in excess of $25,000. Well, I changed my mind. I read this Financial Samurai post, and realized that if we’re saving up for an expense that’s a few years away, we should be investing the money. We have time.
Our investments did pretty well this month, mostly since the market recovered. It seems like recession might still be a few weeks/months/years away, so we will enjoy continued economic growth in the meantime.
Also on the investing front, I have a major shift in strategy to announce, but I’ll save it for an upcoming post. Here’s a hint- it rhymes with shmindex chinvesting.
I apologize for all the dead birds mentioned and shown in this post. We only kill the ones we eat!
Thanks for reading along with our Net Worth updates, and let me know what you think in the comments. Cheers!