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
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.
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
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…
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.
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!
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.
The expanded family is getting along well, and hopefully they won’t end up being roosters!
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.
Spending and Not Spending
This is what a normal month of spending looks like for us, minus the floor job.
|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.
- 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!