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Here it is- my monthly recap of my spending, saving, doing, and blogging.
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Table of Contents
- What we did in April
- What we spent in April
- Top 10 expenses
- What I read in April
- Blog highlights- April (39 months)
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What we did in April
April was a busy month. For the first time in several years, kids activities have more or less returned to “normal”. Clubs. Play dates. Sports.
We are a very intentional family and make conscious decisions to not overschedule ourselves. But returning to our usual level of activities as a family has been a little bit of mental adjustment.
(I’m not complaining. When there’s nothing scheduled, sibling on sibling violence seems to break out at least twice a day…)
All of that is to say that the month seems kind of like a blur.
What I knitted in April
I am really enjoying knitting. And I am super proud of my latest accomplishment- a cabled hat.
It’s kind of hard to believe how far I’ve come since I started knitting on Christmas. Back then, I tried to knit a scarf (with only knit stitches) and couldn’t go a row or two without making a mistake or adding stitches.
In just a few months, I was able to knit this hat (~10,000 stitches) with zero mistakes following a pattern of knits/purls/cables.
I enjoyed knitting this hat so much, I’m going to knit another one in a different color.
Community garden update
Despite it being one of the coldest and wettest April’s I can remember (it seems like every day was ~10 degrees cooler than the average temperature), we were able return to our community garden plot and start preparing the soil.
- We got a second plot this year!! While I’m excited for all of the extra produce we will hopefully get, we have lots of work to do right now preparing both plots for planting.
- We bought a broadfork to work the soil. This is great because the second plot has plenty of weeds that we need to get rid of before we can plant anything.
What we spent in April
It was another high-spend month for the Gov family. And honestly, I have mixed feelings about it.
With inflation out of control, I feel like we should be trying to spend our money now on durable goods so they won’t cost even more in the future. (Note that this is the hallmark of an inflationary cycle. I’m pretty tired of the news telling me that inflation is a temporary result of the pandemic.)
On the other hand, having several high-spend months in a row makes me feel like a failure as someone that’s working towards financial independence. If our average monthly spending goes up, then we need to save a lot more money to reach our goals.
Yet on still another hand, I know that my fear about spending too much money is illogical. We still save over half of our income. And if we never saved another penny we could both retire in our 50’s with more money than we could reasonably spend (and that’s not even accounting for our pensions…)
So maybe we can afford to replace a dishwasher that never worked right and has been growing a weird orange fungus for the past 5 years. Instead of kicking myself for spending so much money in 2022, maybe I should be kicking myself for not replacing the damned thing years ago.
Top 10 expenses
Home improvement tops the list with the new dishwasher. We also had some vacation expenses from Spring Break that didn’t post until after April 1st even though the trip concluded in March.
We spent between $600-$610 for the second straight month. I think this is a pretty good number for our family of 5- it works out to ~ $1.35 per person per meal.
For reference, the latest numbers from the USDA put the Thrifty Meal Plan for our family at $915.50.
I am perfectly happy with the $610 for groceries, but I know my wife likes to keep it to less than $500 if she can.
I have no idea where our grocery spending will end up for the month of May but it’s comforting to know that minimizing our grocery spending is a game for us and not a matter of going hungry if we mess it up.
Kids ($197.61) vs. Pets ($258.05)
One of the biggest debates in the personal finance space is whether or not kids are expensive. (For the record, I can confirm they are expensive “AF”.)
But I also like to playfully compare my spending on the “kids” category in my budget/expense tracker vs. my “pets” category.
It’s yet another month where the pets cost more than the kids. Kenny needed another 6 months supply of his heartworm/flea/tick medicine and he eats enough dog food for a dog twice his size without gaining any weight. (I really wish I had the metabolism of a greyhound…)
Gas & Auto $149.46
We are driving more. While both my wife and I walk or bike to work every day, we have needed to drive nearly every day in April.
If you don’t have kids, you may be unaware of the school bus driver shortage we are having in this country. While my kids are lucky enough to have gotten bus transportation to school every day this school year (so far), the school district couldn’t find enough drivers to offer a “late bus” for kids involved in extracurricular activities.
So for the past month or so, my wife or I need to drive out to the middle school to pick up the oldest 3-days a week after sports.
I’m very thankful that the high school is within walking distance of our house and that we only have about a month left of these trips.
(Also, I’m thankful that our work schedules allow us to pick her up from her activities so that she can participate in sports. It makes me sad that school sports are limited to kids whose parents have a car and flexibility to pick them up at school.)
Progress towards financial independence
It’s hard to write about progress towards early retirement in a month when you go backwards. I calculated our liquid net worth dropped by about 5% in a month.
And I expect our progress towards financial independence to go backwards for the remainder of the year.
The math behind early retirement is simply the ratio of your net worth to your expenses. The stock market is reducing our numerator and inflation is increasing our denominator.
I’m not sure how long we will have high inflation. Nor am I certain how long the market will continue to pull back. Luckily, my wife and I are both still working and saving lots of money. We will be okay. In fact, when things start to turn around, we’ll be in a fantastic position to capitalize on the market gains.
This negative progress is a good “gut check” about pulling the plug and actually retiring early. It’s helping me think about how big of a cushion I’d like to have before retiring early.
What I read in April
Reading is a cyclical activity for me. When I am in the reading zone, I read like crazy. Then I get distracted with other things and don’t pick up a book for a couple of months.
This past month was definitely a lull. But I did finally get around to reading Die with Zero by Bill Perkins. I really enjoyed the book.
While the book isn’t for everyone (and the author makes it very clear that it’s not) if you regularly read my blog you probably would benefit from reading it.
I’m thinking of writing a post in the future about whether federal employees can really plan to spend down their wealth before they die and what that might look like for a hypothetical fed.
Blog highlights- April (39 months)
I feel like I have no blog highlights. It’s been a struggle to consistently write and publish content.
(I guess I succeeded at doing that, but there were no big accomplishments beyond writing/editing/publishing.)