Money Well Spent- July 2021

By Sam •  Updated: 08/18/21 

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Here it is- my monthly recap of my spending, saving, doing, and blogging.

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What we did in July

I had a great July! In the beginning of the month we took a short weekend trip to a rental house on the shores of Lake Michigan. We’ve gone there many times and have had some great memories there.

This was our “family vacation” for the year… it’s so hard to plan anything with the coronavirus still hanging on. Since the younger kids haven’t been vaccinated we still feel like we need to avoid a lot of activities, so there’s not a lot we can do.

We did stop at a small amusement park in Green Bay that is run by the city and has really cheap rides. (Most rides are just a quarter!)

Gov Worker at an amusement park
Part of me is a little sad no one ever wants to ride the roller coaster with me.

Other than our trip, we’ve been enjoying the outdoors and visiting with our parents.

Community Garden Update

Our garden is producing a lot of vegetables this month. We’ve gotten cucumbers and summer squash and a few tomatoes even. Unfortunately, our tomato plants are full of blight. While I’m sure the blight is a result of letting the 5 year old water them by blasting the plants with a hose, I don’t want to discourage her love of the garden and vegetables.

tomatoes growing in our community garden

Our broccoli plants look really good but they’re not producing fruit. I think that perhaps they are not flowering because they are getting chewed on by a pest. I’ve never grown broccoli before so really I have no idea what I’m doing or what’s wrong with it.

What we spent in July

Each month I share our top 10 expenses. We use CountAbout to track all of our expenses and receipts. I enjoy pulling a CountAbout report every month to look at these different spending categories.

Expenses for the month of July
Percent of total spending, top 10 categories.

Daycare was our biggest expense again this month. The youngest is still in daycare and we have a college-aged sitter for the older two. This is going to drop off significantly in September when all three of them are in school. It is going to be amazing!

Lake wingra at dusk
Sunset over a local park.

Groceries- $675.98

Our grocery total was almost identical to last month’s total. If you’re new to the spending reports, I always compare our food budget against the USDA Thrifty Plan, the minimum amount needed to feed your family a healthy and balanced diet and the basis for food stamp allowances.

For our sized family, the Thrifty Plan is $833.60. If you’re curious about how we feed our family for less than the Thrifty Food Plan, check out my post on our gluten free budget meal plan.

We divide our CSA cost over 12 months. However, we get the bulk of our produce in July-October. Part of the reason our food costs were so low this month is that we were receiving about two grocery bags full of produce each week. Let me tell you that multiple bags of organic produce a week is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it is wonderful, nutritious food, but a curse because you need to have a dedicate plan to consume all of those vegetables before they spoil.

Kids- $226.37

As this pandemic drags on and we’re all cooped together things are starting to get a little stale again. We bought some arts and crafts supplies so that the kids would have some fun things to do with the babysitter and break up their days.

In addition the kids needed some clothes that we couldn’t “shop the basement” for. (Having the youngest grandchildren in the family means we’ve received countless boxes of gently used clothes from family members.) Mrs. Gov and disagree where to categorize kids clothes. We have a clothing category and a kids category. I tend to put the clothes in the kids category (because we wouldn’t buy the clothes if we didn’t have kids).

Pets- $40

Remember at the start of the year when my pet category was much bigger than my kid category? It looks like the tables have turned.

We only spent $40 on the pets this month because we didn’t need to buy any food. The $40 was for a vet visit for our cat. (Seriously, how is the vet so cheap!?)

Picture of Cheeto the cat in the sun.
He’s cute. But he’s cuter when he pees in the litter box.

Cheeto, our 11 year old cream tabby has been peeing outside of the litterbox so we thought we should take him to the vet. It turns out he just was upset with his litterbox hygiene. So he now has his choice of two meticulous litterboxes.

Gas & Auto- $105.08

We spent more on gas than we do in a normal month. In addition to going on vacation we visited our parents. Given the rise in coronavirus cases with the delta variant, I’m glad we drove as much as we did this past month and visted as many people as we did.

Favorite Purchase

I bought a new espresso machine! And I love it.

If there’s one thing that everyone in my family knows about me, it’s that I love espresso. (Technically, I’m hooked on caffè crema– but since they only drink those in Switzerland nobody knows what I’m talking about.) For those of you too unadventurous to click on Wikipedia link, a caffè crema is essentially what happens when you run 6 oz. through an espresso machine.

After doing a lot of internet research, I decided to splurge and buy this super-automatic espresso maker from Tchibo and I love it!

Normally I’d be skeptical of buying this espresso maker since it was less than half the price of other super-automatics. But I had a Tchibo coffee machine when I lived in Switzerland that used capsules. I loved that damned machine so much but they didn’t sell compatible capsules in the US so I couldn’t bring it home.

In fact, I pretty much loved everything about Tchibo, the store (Jede Woche eine neue Welt). Buying this machine did bring back some happy memories of my time there.

The machine is delightful to use and makes an awesome caffè crema with the press of a single button and no mess to clean up. (It makes great espresso too). I love it so much that I’m thinking that maybe we need to have one at work so my colleagues and I can caffeinate however and whenever we want to.

Progress towards financial independence

Every few months I like to plug my current numbers into cFIREsim to see the odds that my current portfolio could support our spending. While the spreadsheet that I got from my friend Jessica of The Fioneers tells me that I’ve got over a year until I reach FI, it’s sometimes fun to measure my progress using a different tool.

cFIREsim simulation results for current net worth.

This month, cFIREsim said that 77.50% of the simulations resulted in my portfolio sustaining our current spending if we quit and never earned another penny. (That’s using a traditional, inflation adjusted withdrawal strategy). What’s crazy is that many of the simulations from historical data show that our portfolio would be much larger than it is now at the end of the simulations. And if I had a more exotic withdrawal strategy, my success rate would increase even further.

Sometimes it feels like I’m super close to the finish line, but it also feels like I’m not getting any closer.

Blog highlights (30 months)

I don’t feel like I have any highlights from the past month. My biggest decision was to hire my friend and amazing copywriter Liz Wilcox to write a killer pitch for me that I can send to podcasts. I’ve just received it and have been working on tailoring it for several podcasts that I’d like to appear on. Hopefully I’ll have some successful pitches this fall.

Beyond that, my blog traffic is doing well. It has continued to grow (slowly) over the summer which is my slowest time of the year. I’m hoping that means I’ll have massive traffic gains when we move into the fall and winter.

So that was my month! If you enjoyed the article, please leave a review


Sam i.e. "Gov Worker" started working for the government at age 18 and loved it so much that he never left. He started GovernmentWorkerFI in 2019 to help fellow federal employees understand their benefits, take control of their finances, and live their best lives.