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.
November 2021 Net Worth
The end of November marks 12 months since we decided to uproot and move from Connecticut down to Virginia. I haven’t had too much time to process and reflect on this milestone, but here are a few thoughts.
To say that our move was a disruption to our way of life is a massive understatement. Almost everything about our situation has changed since 2020. But then again, many peoples’ lives have been upended by the pandemic, so maybe we’re not unique.
Highlights from the last year
- The weather is great. I’ll gladly take a hotter summer if it comes with a milder winter. I’ve already spent so much more time outside versus 2020.
- The people down here are genuinely friendly. It’s hard to make friends in a new place as an adult, but we met and connected with so many great people since we got here.
- My work routine is almost ideal. I work from home, create my own schedule, and usually can get everything done in 30 hours each week. The flexibility is so refreshing after 15+ years in an office 8-5.
- There’s so much to do here. We’ve got rivers, mountains, beaches and DC all within two hours. Richmond provides all of the food, culture, and events we could want, but isn’t so big as to be inaccessible. I’ve only started to scratch the surface of what this area has to offer, but there are no disappointments thus far.
Lowlights from the last year
- It’s hard starting over with no support network. In CT, we had multiple family members who could help us out with childcare, random tasks, and just general help. We’re missing this desperately right now, especially as the kids keep getting held out of daycare due to Covid precautions.
- It’s weird working remotely. Generally, I like it, but I feel a weird sense of disconnection from the outside world. I spend much time each day talking to colleagues on Teams/Zoom, but it doesn’t substitute for face-to-face interactions.
- It’s also harder to meet people when you work from home. I can often go days at a time without really interacting with people, if I don’t consciously get out and do something.
All in all, we’re pretty happy with our current situation. I miss CT at times, but I don’t ever wonder if we made the wrong decision coming down here. And that’s pretty good.
Speaking of CT. I actually had the pleasure of visiting our old stomping grounds on two occasions in November. Early in the month I flew back up to attend a series of meetings at my employer, and then we drove up as a family to celebrate Thanksgiving with family and friends.
Busy is the Word
Sometime during the summer I hit a really nice equilibrium of work/life balance. I felt really comfortable in my new role with my company, and was able to squeeze my work week down to approximately 30 hours while still accomplishing all of my objectives. The family had free time to explore the city and enjoy our new home. The days were both literally and figuratively longer, and I finally felt like I had some breathing room.
Then Fall hit. Like clockwork, the end of summer coincided with an uptick of germs and colds spreading around the house. Between holidays and exclusion from daycare per Covid protocols, I was forced to take 6 PTO days in September and October. Then my son’s classroom was closed for 14 days due to a positive test in early November, resulting in more missed work.
On top of this, a coworker resigned in October, which lead to a broad expansion of my responsibilities. I’m enjoying the added work in a way, but the slack in my day has been completely wiped out. Add in the barrage of missed days of work, and I’ve been playing catch-up constantly since October.
I don’t want to complain that much. Things are still pretty good. But if you want an explanation for why I’ve stopped writing on this blog, and stopped reading and commenting on others’ blogs, this is why. I have zero bandwidth these days.
The last week of November saw a pullback for the markets. More inflation scares and the looming threat of the Omicron variant set us back for the month. Earlier in November we were at all-time highs, but we’ll have to wait a bit longer before getting back there.
Spending and Not Spending
|Utilities||$266||electric, internet, trash, gas|
|Shopping / Misc.||$693||new (used) bike|
|Clothing||$199||cold weather outfitting|
|Discretionary||$292||misc. – MIL visit|
|Travel||$422||hotel, gas, food|
|Total||$9,187||minus the donation|
I’m pretty sure this is our highest spend month ever. Here’s a little color:
Rent: $2,000. Our rent went up $150 as we completed our lease and are now going month-to-month. We plan to live here for another 3-4 months, so we’ll just have to eat the temporary higher cost. Looking at the SFH rental market right now, I’m glad we’re not looking to rent much longer. Yikes.
Auto Service: $710. Mrs. BF’s car has been making some strange noises for a while. We finally figured out what it was – some bad wheel bearings. The car sounds better now, so let’s hope there aren’t any other major repairs in the near future.
New used bike: $450. We like taking the kids for rides around our home pretty often. Unfortunately, Mrs. BF doesn’t like the bike I bought her a long time ago, and has been using mine. I found a good deal on a $950 MSRP bike with low miles, so I grabbed it.
Vet visits: $486. Our dog has been having some respiratory issues over the last month. It took a few visits and tests to figure out what’s wrong, and the prognosis isn’t great. Hopefully the treatment we just brought him in for will make him comfortable for a while. We’ll see.
Finally, my son was out of daycare for two weeks, which cost us in a few ways. My mother-in-law stayed with us for two weeks, which was awesome. We paid for her gas, extra groceries and takeout, and some other expenses associated with her visit.
Income and Investing
We earned our normal W2 incomes in November, along with a $600 check from the IRS.
I’ve been doing some year-end tax planning and preparation for 2022. I maxed out my 401k in March, partially by accident due to an unexpectedly large bonus, and partially because I didn’t know how long I’d be employed. Mrs. BF changed employers mid-year, so we’re adjusting her contributions to make sure she hits that $19,500 mark by the end of December.
As I mentioned last month, I started contributing to my company’s Employee Stock Purchase Plan again. Normally I sell my shares immediately after they hit my account (with a 15% discount), but I decided I’ll hold on to these shares for a bit. The company has been hitting on all cylinders since the pandemic – the massive semiconductor shortage means we are setting profit records every month, and this may continue for a while.
Here’s our current mix of investments.
I promise to have an update on the housing situation by year’s end! Sometimes things just take a long time.
How was your November? How does the WFH crowd like remote work? Enjoy the freedom, or hate the quiet? Let me know in the comments.