Net Worth Update – March 2021

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.

March 2021 Net Worth

via Personal Capital


In last month’s update, I described the various ways that our life has been in flux lately.

  1. Mrs. BF’s job uncertainty
  2. My job uncertainty
  3. House hunting struggles

I’m happy to say we’ve made some progress since last month.

Update #1: Mrs. BF got the job!

The plan always had been to secure a job within this particular healthcare system, and she finally got an offer. She’ll be taking a pay cut from her current position, but the hours and benefits are much better. She’ll also have access to a 457 plan for the first time, which has its own unique benefits, such as no early withdrawal penalty. The things that excite personal finance nerds!

Update #2: the company made my role permanent.

As I’ve mentioned numerous times, my job has been up in the air ever since we left CT and I could no longer perform my previous function (R&D). I recently told the story of my employer offering me a promotion to a business development role, which I ultimately rejected based on the fact that there was little to gain from a higher paying, but more demanding job.

Around this same time, my current boss told me he was planning to create a new position based on what I was doing in my interim role. In other words, he was trying to make my current position permanent. Fast forward a few weeks, and the job has been approved, pending the SVP’s sign-off.

I should be ecstatic that I have this relatively low-stress, highly flexible WFH arrangement and basically manage myself, but for some reason, I’m not. My new function is less innovative, and more clerical. I’m not sure yet whether I’d classify it as a bullshit job, but it’s definitely not as high impact as my previous roles.

For now, I’ll continue to plug away and collect the paycheck. But I’m seriously considering a change of pace. Whether its Coast FIRE, or a career change, time will tell.

Update #3: house hunting still sucks.

We’re still having a hell of a time finding a house. Of course, we’re not the only ones. In the particular school district we’ve been targeting, there have been only 3 listings in the past month. Every house has gone for tens of thousands over asking price.

All we can do is keep waiting, I suppose. Hopefully more supply will hit the market as spring turns to summer.

In the meantime, we’ll enjoy the warming weather and the fact that Baby BF is big enough to ride in the bike trailer now.

Month-Over-Month Comparison

I’m getting sick of saying, “hey, another net worth high!” but yeah, happened again. Basically, any month that the market doesn’t drop, we hit a new high. I kind of wish I had started the blog at the beginning of my investing career (2007-2008). Man, that would have been depressing.

Spending and Not Spending

Utilities$9095 months of gas, water bills
Student Loan$0
Medical$124Covid (-); Ear infection (+)
Shopping / Misc.$640CO2 tank, brewing stuff
Entertainment$147YMCA, Fantasy Baseball dues
Discretionary$409Smart watch
Subscriptions$274Prime, renewal
Total$8,355minus the donation

This month exemplifies why budgets are bullshit. We had a lot of random “one-off” expenses, but just because you can’t predict them doesn’t mean you shouldn’t anticipate them.

I guess the only true “one-off” could be replacement of our CO2 tank. I keep a large (15 or 20 lb) CO2 tank in my kegerator for our home-made seltzer, and of course my homebrew as well. T0 make a long story short (and still uninteresting), it turns out my tank expired in the 6 month period since I received it as a swap from the industrial gas house in CT. Scumbag move on their part. The new gas supply place in Richmond wouldn’t accept an expired tank for a swap, and I didn’t want to wait a month for it to get tested and re-certified, so I sold it to the store and bought a new one. It saved me a month without fizzy water/beer, but it cost me about $200. F.

I also had to buy a few parts for my brewing rig, since I sold off almost everything before we moved. I’m back in business! My first beer in almost a year turned out pretty good. The aroma was slightly lacking, which I blame on old hops. Otherwise, it was a solid effort.

Some other costs this month:

Utilities: we finally got our first gas bill after being here 5 months, and it cost us $558 to heat the place all winter. I guess that’s normal-ish. The water bill was also about $150 for two months. Higher than it was when we had a well, but I don’t have to pay for the repair if the water main breaks!

Discretionary: after debating whether to buy a smart watch for approximately 5 years, I finally bought one. Blame it on the stimmy or my bonus check. I wanted better fitness tracking, especially the ability to run outdoors without my phone. I’m happy so far.

Subscriptions: our yearly Prime membership was up for renewal, and I also subscribed to again this year. Baseball is my own guilty pleasure (besides beer).

I’ve debated dropping the Prime membership for years. I’m not sure how important the free 2-day shipping is, but I guess it comes in handy whenever we need emergency baby stuff. Also, I read a fair amount of free books through the Kindle library every year, so maybe $120 is worth it? I dunno.

In the grocery department, our spending finally was closer to our long-term average, at $400 this month. Woohoo! I can attest that we ate as much as most months, so maybe we’re finding our frugal shopping groove again.

Income and Investing

We each earned our normal W2 income this month. Also, we got a sweet $4,200 stimmy from the government (Biden Bucks?). The IRS doesn’t know about our 14 month old baby yet, so it’ll be another year before we collect his winnings.

In addition to this, I also received a substantial performance bonus from my company, which was unexpected. I mean, I expected to get something, but the payout was significantly more than I would have ever imagined. It actually caused me to max out my 401k contributions in March. Obviously, I’m not complaining.

For the coming months, I need to decide whether to put my earnings into our taxable brokerage, or make after-tax 401k contributions (and then Roth conversions). Again, another first world problem we have to deal with.

529 Update

As I mentioned last month, we’re targeting $100k for our kids’ 529 college savings funds. Any shortfall beyond this will be made up using our money, federal loans, or indentured servitude. Who knows what college will cost in 15 years!

That’s our March update. How was your month? Have you ever wanted to quit a cushy, high-paying job because you don’t feel fulfilled? Am I whining too much? Let me know in the comments.

12 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – March 2021”

  1. i’ve had my garmin smart watch a couple of years now. i grudgingly really like it. you must have gotten some premium model. the sleep tracking and heart rate functions are my favorite parts if you don’t mind sleeping with a watch on. well done getting that stimulator and those permanent jobs. i know i would ride that low impact work from home gravy train for years of unfulfilled paychecks! mark that down.

    hey, your o’s won a couple of games already. maybe you’ll make it up to the yards for a game this summer.

    • The discretionary category includes other stuff, such as alcohol. I actually bought the cheapest Apple watch, which I’m sure is more expensive than the Garmin version anyway. I’m a data fiend, so I’m enjoying it so far. I know, the O’s have been somewhat respectable! I have many friends that are Sox fans, so of course I made sure to let them know they got swept at home by a team that’s not even trying to win any games this year. Camden Yards is definitely closer than before. I actually haven’t been to the Nats park yet, so maybe I can catch a Beltway Series there.

  2. Awesome you get to stay in your role at work. I know you said its not the most fulfilling, but its a paycheck till you find something more interesting. If its low stress, then I see that as a win. A stressful job sort of bleeds its misery into other aspects of life. My new role at work is sort of similar to yours now it seems, very clerical and less exciting, but man I’m happy with the low stress.

    I know the pain of living in an out of town market from your team. I lived in San Diego for a couple of years and man it was a struggle to watch games. I ended up giving in with the mlb subscription back then too.

    • Hey Noel. I definitely agree that a ‘boring’ job is definitely better than a stressful job. I’ve had both throughout my career, and so I shouldn’t complain too much now. I think I’m having a hard time adjusting to the lack of interaction with other people. Calling someone on Teams and bullshitting just isn’t the same as talking around the proverbial (or literal) water cooler. When I was complaining about my job to my wife the other day, she pointed out the fact that maybe I just want to interact with people more, and I think she’s right. It’ll come in time, I’m sure.

      The funny thing about the MLB subscription: I’m a lifelong Orioles fan, so technically I’m IN MARKET, for the first time in my life. However, I haven’t had cable in over 5 years, so I wouldn’t be able to watch them anyway without the MLB.TV subscription. Now I have the added inconvenience of needing to set up a VPN and tell the computer I’m actually somewhere else!

      • Ha! I’ve also purchased the MLB package this year–autorenewed on me after I purchased the cheap package for the 60-game season last year. I’m kind of glad it did, forces me to pay more attention. Who knew there were so many baseball fans out there yet.

        • My theory: baseball is arguably the most data and analytics focused sport. Most of us PF nerds (certainly myself) are obsessed with tracking metrics and analyzing our spending/investing data. It’s a perfect match of interests.

  3. Congrats on the work front. Nice to hear about Mrs Brew’s new gig and the permanency of yours. Hopefully, the house will fall into place.

    I agree that budgets are whack. I had in excess of $6K of “one-off” BS expenses in March. Everything from auto repair to taxes to sundry business services. C’est la vie, I guess.

    Anyway, glad you had a great month overall and enjoy that tasty looking beer!

    • Thanks Mr. Fate! It’s definitely nice to have a few pieces settle into place. I’m not overly anxious about getting the house thing squared away, but part of me won’t feel fully settled until we have another mortgage. We’ll see how it goes. I can’t wait for everyone to get vaccinated, so I can start sharing my beer with friends again!

    • Hey Thomas! Thanks for the comment. Expenses always tend to be lumpy I suppose, but as long as they average out to some acceptable level, that’s what matters. I replaced my 2010 iMac with a new Macbook Air about a year ago, pretty happy with it so far.

  4. Childcare, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, is 36% of your monthly spend! Those little, adorable buggers sure are expensive 🙂

    My guilty pleasure is soccer. I have 3 different subscriptions (combination of cable and streaming) to corral in the top leagues in Europe.

    • The cost of childcare is really nuts. Certainly we can afford it, but many other families don’t have the option. Futbol, eh? One of my friends growing up was Scottish, and his dad was obsessed with Celtic; so much so that he had a 10 foot satellite dish installed on their lawn so that he could watch the matches. Good stuff.


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