Net Worth Update – May 2020

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 2020 Net Worth

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 – Back to the Grind

As May turns to June, our lives have taken a turn back to “normal.” Mrs. BF’s maternity leave has just ended, so we are back to the double-income grind. The extra money is good, but the additional stress of long days and exhausting weekends begins again. We just enrolled the kids in a new, more expensive daycare, and so far we’re pretty happy with the choice. Kid BF gets to play outside for hours a day, which is the reason we picked the place.

PS: If you thought the feature image of this post looked familiar, this is why.

Other Goings-On

baby lettuce from the garden

We’ve been pretty busy around the homestead during the past few weeks. This is a natural, seasonal event, as the heating up of the earth causes more activity everywhere. Vibrational energy, or entropy of sorts.

I’m happy to report that, when compared to last year, our garden is a resounding success so far in 2020. The reason? I took my hands off the controls and let Mrs. BF take over. For whatever reason, when we try to co-manage gardens, all hell breaks loose. Last year we planted too early, battled weeds for a month or so, and then gave up.

This year, things are looking much better. We’ve successfully planted lettuce, kale, rhubarb, squash, swiss chard, okra, carrots, tomatoes, potatoes, and garlic. The raspberry bushes and strawberry patch are also doing well.

Covid IPA

In order to replace the void from not helping with the garden this year, I’ve started homebrewing again. My tastelessly named Covid IPA, brewed in April, was a successful take on the West Coast style. Last week I brewed another IPA to replace Covid, and I plan to brew a Kolsch as the summer wears on.

Closer to Coast FIRE?

Over the past few months I’ve been hinting at the fact that we’ve been talking about Coast FIRE a lot. I don’t have any big announcements yet, but I expect that we will be making a major decision in the coming weeks. We’re choosing between two different paths, so I will be sure to update with details once the decision is made.

The driving force behind our Coast FIRE push is based on a few factors:

  1. Since having kids, we’ve become keenly aware of how little free time we have. I want to make sure I’m able to devote as much time as possible to them as they are growing up. It’s becoming very difficult to do this, with all of the other facets of life demanding my energy.
  2. Which brings me to work. Mrs. BF has just returned to her job. During her maternity leave, things were quite relaxed, even with a newborn and a quarantine. Well, things are already much more stressful now that we both have to shuttle kids to daycare, work long hours, and try to fit in cooking, cleaning, etc.. on the margin. This feels unsustainable to our sanity.
  3. Our position of Financial Strength. If there was any reason why we would focus so intently on saving as much as possible and growing our net worth for the past 10 years, this is why. Now that the market has almost completely recovered, I feel even more strongly that we should consider coasting.

I’ll be sure to update on our plans, just as soon as we figure them out!

Suddenly we have another, older baby to deal with.

Month-Over-Month Comparison

We managed to hit a new end-of-month high in our net worth. We’re within spitting distance of our intra-month high, reached in February before the world went to shit. It’s pretty amazing that amidst the pandemic, historic unemployment, and social unrest, the market continues to chug along. I’m not saying I have any confidence in the recovery at this point, but all we can do is continue investing and see what happens.

Spending and Not Spending

Utilities$217Solar is back!
Home Maintenance$448Paint and hardware
Student Loan$0no payments until October
Groceries$449Still stockpiling food
Shopping / Misc.$372
Discretionary$237Beer ingredients, and beer.
May Total$4,372

Solar Power: finally after 3 months of downtime, Tesla came to the house and repaired our dysfunctional inverters. The system is up and running again, and I don’t expect us to have another electric bill until at least November.

Childcare: the kids have returned to daycare for a couple days a week (they are with my family the other two days). We toured a number of daycare facilities before we made our decision last December, and we’re happy with the one we picked. Some places, which I dubbed “baby factories,” actually touted how many children they could jam into small classrooms. The daycare we chose was more focused on small groups and taking the kids outside as much as possible. The choice wasn’t that difficult. But it will set us back roughly $2,000 per month.

Too bad they don’t offer a cuteness discount!

Home Improvement: in the event that our Coast FIRE plans involve Geoarbitrage, we’ve started preparing the house for a potential sale. Really, we’ve just clustered a bunch of minor improvements we’d been planning on doing and just hadn’t gotten to yet. So far we’ve painted a bunch of doors and some trim, touched up a few rooms, and replaced the old hardware throughout the house. I’ve also been repairing a bunch of small things that might get flagged during an inspection. We’re trying to straddle the line between “improves curb appeal” and “wastes our time.”

Income and Investing

As was the case the past few months, there continues to be much volatility on the income front.

Two Paychecks: finally, Mrs. BF returns to work. Though it was great for her to be home for so long, it would be nice for her to start getting paid again. The ~6 week drought was easily absorbed by our large emergency fund (and a stimulus check!), so it hasn’t really been that bad.

No More Brewpub: sadly, my side hustle at the Brewpub will be discontinued as it has permanently shuttered its doors. It’s disappointing, because I enjoyed it, but I really didn’t have the time required to adequately contribute to the operations there. It was a great experience, and really opened my eyes to an industry I knew very little about previously. Hopefully, someday I will find myself elbow deep in a mash tun again.

Would you pay $25 for this work of art?

Basement Bungalow Turnover: Our basement apartment received a new tenant on May 1st. Unfortunately, she will be moving out June 1st, as she has found another employment opportunity out of state. Funny enough, our pilot tenant from last year called us on the same day our current tenant put in her notice. We will be able to keep the basement rented with no gap in income.

Social Distance Selling: $1,512. The biggest discovery we made during the pandemic? There is a shit-ton of pent up demand for retail purchasing! Mrs. BF devised the brilliant plan to do “non-contact sales” and sell a bunch of our old stuff on FB Marketplace. Essentially, she would place the item at the end of our driveway, and people would come and look at it during a specified time. If they wanted it, they leave the money in the mailbox (or use Venmo) and take the item home.

We sold at least 50 individual items during May, including paintings, furniture, a drum set, my old iMac, SNES games, clothing, house plants, and glassware. I feel like Elon Musk, trying to sell everything I own.

How was your May? Are you back to an all-time high yet? Did you sell any junk during the pandemic? Let me know how you’re doing in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Net Worth Update – May 2020”

  1. that dog’s got a big head, but is a good looker. those are some sweet gains from just last year. good idea giving up control of the garden. when i first met the future mrs. smidlap i tried to help her in the garden and she pointed out what “used to be the beginning of a flowering plant” that i had annihilated without realizing. sure, why not coast if you can while y’all are young and before your kids become teens and are no longer interesting in you. i’m looking forward to see where it all goes. good luck.

  2. I’m also eagerly awaiting what’s in store for your family next. The more we talk about it, the more we feel the Coast FIRE life is going to be for us as well. We’re not there yet, but close enough for the conversations to move on from being “some day” to “some day soon.”

    • I really believe Coast FIRE is probably the best path for many people. Rather than grind for years until you can ‘do nothing’, taking a relaxed path with some work and plenty of time for family/other interests seems like a great alternative. I’m pretty excited for the potential shift in lifestyle!


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