Money Well Spent- April 2021

By Sam •  Updated: 05/19/21 

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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 April

It is getting really hard for me to remember a time before COVID. We’re still slogging through some sort of pseudo-quarantine existence. I’m still teleworking. The kids are still in a hybrid school model.

However, April represented some small returns to normality. Mrs. Gov and I both got vaccinated. GovTeen and I did a trail race (with staggered start times to reduce congestion on the course). Maybe the most exciting development was we found a (vaccinated) college student to help with childcare this upcoming summer. We had her babysit on an “asynchronous instruction” day and it was magical. These are all super positive developments.

Sunrise over vilas park
I have really come to enjoy my morning walks with Kenny the greyhound.

At the same time, I think everyone is done with virtual school and ready for more meaningful interactions with friends. And I’m sad that a lot of outdoor mass gatherings that happen in summer in my city have already been cancelled.

I’ve been thinking a lot about mortality. I don’t know how long I will live, but my health-span will realistically only extend for another 40 years before I’m immobile and frail. This virus has cost me 2/40ths (or 5%) of my remaining lifetime summer enjoyment. It is so frustrating.

Even though we’ve been the lucky ones in COVID, there’s a lot to grieve.

Community Garden

While I will miss some parts of this summer, we have a new addition to our summer activities. After years of trying to unsuccessfully garden in our back yard (shaded by our neighbor’s toxic black walnut tree) we rented a community garden plot.

Mrs. Gov and I are super excited to have 440 square feet of direct sun to try and grow our own food. When we found out there were still spots available we spent all day discussing how great it could be and what exactly we wanted to try to grow.

And then we finally saw our spot. Our garden plot had clearly been fallow for several years and already was inhabited by foot-tall weeds. We have our work cut out for us.

Lots of weeds in a community garden
I’m not sure what I was expecting when we signed up for the garden but it sure didn’t involve this many weeds.

What we spent in April

This is our first month with no mortgage payments! Since our spending is so different, I thought I’d show our top 10 spending categories. It’s pretty easy to pull together our spending report because we use CountAbout to track all of our expenses and receipts.

Top 10 spending categories for the month of April 2021
Our top 10 spending categories for April 2021.

Now that our mortgage is gone, daycare is our biggest expense. After working without daycare at the start of the pandemic, I can’t emphasize how wonderful it is to have such a great childcare center that my daughter loves going to.

Outside of daycare, there’s a lot of fixed expenses in our top 10 with a few luxuries (piano lessons, gifts) mixed in.

Groceries- $568.21

We spent less than $600 on groceries for the first time this year. It was our best month since the pandemic started and it works out to $1.26 per person per meal.

We consistently spend less than the USDA Thrifty Food Plan budget of $814.20 for a family of our size. (The Thrifty Food Plan is the basis for “food stamps” or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

The $568 contains 1/12th of the amount of money we pay for our Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) box of vegetables from a local farm. Obviously there’s no fresh produce in April where we live. Hopefully we’ll be able to have some very low spend grocery months this summer when we’re getting lots of CSA produce (plus whatever our garden grows).

Kids- $118.11

Spending on kids was back to “normal” this month. We spent most of it on school supplies to get them ready for the return to in person school.

Yes. IN PERSON SCHOOL. I’d pay $118.11 to send the kids out of the house every month in a heartbeat. This seems like a great deal.

Everyone is happy to spend at least a couple of days a week back with their friends. Hopefully Fall of 2021 will be 5 days a week of in person instruction (fingers crossed).

Pets- $116.37

For the first time this year we spent less on our pets than we did on our kids! Most of our spending was on Kenny the greyhound. (Our cat Cheeto hardly costs anything). Kenny got a 6 week supply of food and some Olewo carrots which we add to his food to help him have semi-formed poop. Greyhounds are “greyt”. I just wish they had less gastrointestinal issues.

Greyhound roaching April 2021

Gas & Auto- $40.76

Not much to see here again in this category. After not moving the car for most of the winter we’ve put a few miles on it again as the weather is nicer and we explore more spaces.

Favorite Purchase

Our favorite new item wasn’t even purchased. We borrowed a friend’s broad fork. I’d never heard of a broad fork before but it was a pretty awesome way to prepare our garden. (It’s like a pitchfork that has two handles and a platform for you to stand on it.) Unlike a rototiller, the broad fork doesn’t kill the worms in your garden and gives you a chance to pull the weeds rather than just shred them up and spit them back into the soil.

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While the broad fork has some advantages over the rototiller, it was a lot of hard work turning over the soil. I’m super excited to see how the garden turns out this year!

Progress towards financial independence

I decided to plug our numbers into cFIREsim since it has been a while since I looked. If we both quit our jobs tomorrow and our expenses stayed the same, we’d have a 79% success rate of not running out of money.

cFIREsim simulation of a retirement at our current level of savings and spending
Our cFIREsim simulation for April 2021

Obviously at this point these are just ballpark estimates. If we were planning on retiring early, I’d need to get a better idea of our post retirement expenses. To this point, I have ignored capital gains/income taxes and health insurance. While we are not yet at the point of voluntarily leaving our jobs, I feel very comfortable that we could live on one income at this point.

As we approach the 95% confidence interval in these simple simulations, I’ll start trying to get a more accurate estimation of our expenses and what other margins of safety I’d like to have in place in an ideal world.

Blog highlights (27 months)

After writing a lot about my blog earlier this year (meta-blogging?), I just don’t feel like I have a lot to say about it this past month. The blog is doing well. I’m getting more views and more subscribers each month. I’ve monetized with Ezoic and my blog now covers its expenses and brings in a little bit extra each month.

One exciting blog highlight is that I was featured on the Do You Even Blog podcast! I have been a fan of Pete’s content since I started this blog and it was a really cool moment of validation to actually be on the podcast.

And after years of complaining about never getting any Pinterest traffic, some of my Dogecoin Pins have finally taken off. I feel like I am now the official Dogecoin blogger.

So that was my month! Tweet @ me and tell me how your month was.

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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.