Dog and flowers

Net Worth Update – May 2019

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.

May 2019 Net Worth

net worth may 2019
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.


May

One of the numerous benefits of my wife’s job is that she gets roughly 8 weeks of PTO per year, in addition to a 4 day work week. This is fairly common in the medical field, and probably instituted to prevent burnout.

The only downside to her abundance of time off is that she needs to request her vacation time 8 weeks in advance. Her department has also restricted PTO between Memorial Day and Labor Day to 2 weeks maximum. Therefore, she normally schedules off the week before Memorial Day, the week after Labor Day, and 2 weeks during the summer. We’re always gaming the system in the Brewing FIRE household.

So as her week off approached, she started compiling her exhaustive to-do list. When summer comes, there is no shortage of yard work and general upkeep that needs to be done.

But instead of proceeding with the planned schedule of tasks, she decided to rip up the living room floor.

Living Room Floor Replacement

floor before
The calm before the storm

We had been talking about replacing the living room floor for a couple years. I generally hate carpet, and I especially hate carpet in high traffic areas. This particular carpet had plenty of stains from decades of wear, and years of fostering not-so-housebroken rescue dogs has also taken it’s toll.

And so before I knew it, the carpet had been removed and my wife was tearing out the subfloor. Here we go…

floor renovation
Installing the backer board

Between my 12 years of being a landlord and the Basement Bungalow project, we’ve assembled a diverse set of DIY skills. However, tiling was not one of those.

Being half Italian, I’ve been told that I’m born with the ability to do masonry and tile. I’m not sure if that’s true. It seems, though, that one can gain proficiency in almost any skill if they watch enough YouTube videos on the topic.

All in all, the project went pretty smoothly, and we finished in time to relax on Memorial Day. Cutting tiles to fit the various odd angles in our living room was by far the most labor intensive part, but I’m fairly pleased with the result.

tiled floor
My back hurts just looking at the floor

Total price of all materials came in at $1,121, or approximately $2.50 per square foot installed. Not too bad!

Chicken Family Expansion

In other news, we added to our chicken family this month!

marshmallow
Marshmallow, the broody hen

I mentioned in my January update that we lost our beloved Friendly Ghost to a weasel attack. This left us with 9 chickens that produce roughly 3 dozen eggs per week.

Our oldest hen, Marshmallow, has a strong motherly tendency. Every spring she hunkers down in a nesting box and broods. Since she tries so hard to produce baby chicks, we normally try to make her dreams come true. This year we borrowed a rooster for a couple weeks so that the eggs could be fertilized. Lo and behold, we hatched two babies.

baby chicks

The expanded family is getting along well, and hopefully they won’t end up being roosters!


Month-Over-Month Comparison

Our net worth took a step back this month. Part of it was our cash drawdown to pay for the central air we installed last month. Mostly, though, it was the retreat in the stock market amidst tariff talks and yield curve inversions.

net worth breakdown

Spending and Not Spending

This is what a normal month of spending looks like for us, minus the floor job.

CategoryMay Spending
Mortgage$1,363
Utilities$162
Loan$972
Childcare$650
Groceries$337
Restaurants$202
Misc. Shopping$424
Entertainment / Discretionary$285
Living Room Floor$1,121

Loan – Mrs. BF has some sizable student loans from graduate school. She’s enrolled in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program, so she should have about 5 more years of these payments before the debt is forgiven. If I had to do it again, I might have encouraged her to just pay it off, but it should still save us money in the long run to do it this way.

Childcare – kids are expensive. $650 covers 2 days a week at an in-home daycare that is the lowest cost option in our area. The daycare also happens to be our next door neighbor, so the convenience factor is nice.

Misc. Shopping – this month we bought some chicken food, a couple car seats, and some more clothes for Baby BF. Did I mention kids are expensive?!?

Entertainment – my softball league started up in May, so this line item includes yearly dues and some drinks after the games.


Income and Investing

In addition to our W-2 incomes and the basement apartment, we also sold a bunch of stuff in May.

The bee whisperer
  • Air conditioner #1: $200
  • Air conditioner #2: $40
  • Bee hive setup: $200
  • Misc. items on eBay: $75
  • Bookshelf: $20
  • Total: $535

After two failed years of beekeeping, we decided to quit. Mrs. BF will miss bee wrangling, but maybe we’ll pick up the hobby again in the future.

Building up Savings

Although you couldn’t tell from our May cash flow numbers, we’re planning to start building a larger cash cushion. The main reason is that we are thinking about doing more real estate investing in the future.

Investing in real estate seems to fit our situation for a couple of reasons. We would like to diversify our investments from primarily paper assets. Also, rental properties are tax-advantaged income generators, which will complement our Coast FIRE plans nicely.

We finally opened an Ally Savings account to store some of the cash during the accumulation phase. Ally currently pays 2.20% interest, which is much better than 0.05% that my local bank pays!

As we begin stockpiling cash, we will temporarily halt contributions to our brokerage accounts. We have already funded our Roth IRAs for 2019, and buckets #1-9 of my Investing Hierarchy are filled. Once we’ve jump-started our savings, we’ll look at splitting further contributions between savings and investments.

That’s all for our May net worth update. What do you think about tile floors, chicken breeding, and real estate investing? Let me know in the comments section. Cheers!

12 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – May 2019”

  1. the world needs more dog photos, and that’s my first takeaway. helluva job on that tile floor. i still wish we had 3 dozen fresh eggs available each week. i always though having a lot of cash on hand couldn’t possibly be a bad thing. i still think that is true. would you look at local real estate or something out of state?

    Reply
  2. Your floor looks great. How did you cut the tiles? Did you rent or buy a saw or did you use a snap cutter?

    I like your real estate investment plan provided you can find the right opportunity. That’s something that we’re going to look into once we’re done paying off our student loan debt. I think it suits our interests as well in a possible Coast FIRE phase in addition to being a bit of added diversification.

    Reply
    • We used a tile saw. My awesome neighbor lets us borrow it in exchange for beer.

      Exactly my feelings re: real estate investing. Having a few cash flowing rentals would work really well in a coasting strategy. We’re going to take our time with this, hopefully to ensure the right decisions are made.

      Reply
  3. A friend of mine did tile for flooring in their, and even with him being pretty handy, swore that they would never do it by themselves!

    Cash is always good …until it is too much cash ๐Ÿ˜€

    Reply
    • It’s funny that you say this. My wife, who is the greatest proponent of manual labor that I know, said at the end of the job, “I will never do this again.” So there you have it. To be clear, we would tackle a small bathroom tile job, but 400+ square feet with a million angles really sucked.

      I have found that larger cash cushions help to reduce my anxiety over a ‘cash crunch’ moment or unexpected bills. It’s a nice feeling to always know you can cover whatever life throws at you without borrowing from another source.

      Reply
  4. Great job on the floor. My husband has done bathroom and kitchen tile flooring and kitchen backsplashes at my old house, my current home and my sonโ€™s rental property. He says itโ€™s hard so kudos to you. My son is on his way to FIRE; he just closed on his third property (8 units). He was actually showing one unit to my daughter (yes, his sister) – the prior tenant trashed the carpet. Mostly because my son allows his tenants to have dogs. Said son also has big student loans from advanced degrees and is also working towards student loan forgiveness.

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing! I definitely understand why having your floor replaced costs so much- tons of labor involved. We allowed one dog in our basement apartment (no carpet), and he trashed the couch, which we just had to replace. Tenants with pets are generally not fun. That’s great to hear that your son is building a real estate empire. Hopefully we’ll set off on that path soon, but I’m a little scared of all the uncertainty with RE investing.

      Reply
  5. I love all of it. The dog. The chickens. The tile floor! The bees! Thank you for sharing the ins and outs of what’s happening! Love reading about it!

    Reply
  6. Love the chicken photos! We’re big proponents of real estate investing. It really changed our FI timeline b/c the cash flow from real estate is more manageable than the volatility of paper assets. it’s also a nice diversification. Finally, the tax and leverage benefits are helpful when you make a push for FI mid-career (we are in our 40’s).

    Reply

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