Money Well Spent- June 2021

By Sam •  Updated: 07/21/21 

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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 June

June marked the end of school. We did it. The 2020-2021 school year posed a lot of challenges for the kids (and the parents) but we made it through. As I mentioned in April, we hired a babysitter for the summer. Knowing that the older girls have a dedicated play partner all day makes it so much easier to focus work. Also, all five of us seem a lot happier. While I had a few heart palpitations when I looked at the daycare spending for this past month, I know it was the right decision. I named these posts “Money Well Spent” and not “Money Well Hoarded” for a reason.

Lake Wingra, June 2021

In other news, strawberries were in season for a couple of weeks this month. We went to a pick-your-own strawberry patch twice and bought 4 flats of strawberries (~$60). I’m not sure there’s anything better than freshly picked strawberries. (While I know you can get those giant alien strawberries any time of the year at the supermarket they don’t come close to tasting like real strawberries). Mrs. Gov turned most of the berries into jam, but we also ate a fair amount.

Part of the reason I love summer is the excitement that happens as new foods come into season. Maybe strawberry season is so great because it’s only 14 days. As I write this we are getting the first zucchini and cucumbers. I had forgotten how refreshing a zucchini smoothie can be on a hot day. And I’m positively giddy about tomatoes coming into season in a few weeks.

Summer is a magical time. (But if we lived in an endless summer, I’m sure it wouldn’t be as exciting). I used to spend a lot of time wishing it were summer or worrying about making the most of the precious summer days. But after nearly 39 orbits of the sun, I think I’ve finally grown up a little bit. Instead of trying to wish and struggle to hold on to summer, all I can do is try to be fully present and enjoy experiences as fully as possible as they arrive. Strawberries will be back again next summer in their own time. And if I don’t live until next summer, I can be happy that I got to spend time crouching on the straw swatting mosquitos while getting sunburned to harvest Nature’s beautiful gift.

A special visit

Beyond berries, my other big news from the month of June was that I got to meet one of my favorite bloggers IN REAL LIFE. I’ve been a huge fan of Penny ever since I started blogging. She is able to put so many of the deep feelings I have about parenting and money into actual words. While my prose will never match Penny’s, it’s nice to know there’s someone else out there like me. While the visit was short, I’m hoping that our paths will cross again soon someday.

Community Garden Update

I’ve spent most of this post talking about produce and I didn’t even talk about our own garden. The garden is going well. Remember the weed patch it was in April when we got it from the city?

Community garden, June 2021

It is a weed patch no longer. In fact it looks pretty damned good.

Observant readers may notice a pretty sweet galvanized arch in one corner of the garden. My dad bent some conduit (freehand) into an arch for us. It is some pretty impressive craftsmanship and is damned near the nicest thing I’ve ever seen in a community garden.

What we spent in June

Enough rambling. This is a spending post after all.

Last month I shared our top 10 expenses. I enjoyed presenting our spending this way so will do something similar this month. 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.

spending categories for June 2021

Groceries- $665.93

I just updated our post about how we eat gluten free food for less than the USDA Thrifty meal plan. The highlight of the past month was getting $60 worth of fresh strawberries. I think it would be really interesting to compare one of our pre-COVID grocery confessions posts to a current shopping trip to see how our grocery shopping has changed and how inflation has affected our food budget but that seems like it deserves it’s own post.

lettuce from my community garden
We harvested 6 heads of lettuce this month.

Kids- $111.18

I literally have no idea what we spent money on in the kids category this past month. I think someone got new underwear and there were probably a few other miscellaneous expenses. Beyond daycare, (which was astronomical with summer care this month) we don’t spend a ton of money on the kids.

Pets- $134.89

Mostly just pet food. According to our food’s packaging, Kenny manages to eat enough food to keep a 120 pound dog alive and he is still as skinny as a rail. While my wife and daughters seem partial to our cat Cheeto, I love Kenny and would happily shell out a hundred dollars a month to go on walks with him multiple times a day.

Kenny the greyhound at the dog park
Kenny got to go to the dog park this past month. While it’s fun to see him sprint, we have a lot more fun walking together.

Gas & Auto- $96.40

We filled up the car a few times. We visited my in-laws one weekend, I visited Penny another weekend, and the oldest kid and I had a trail race Father’s Day weekend.

If this post is about money well spent, these were miles well spent. The only time we used the car was to visit people we care about or have some father/daughter time. While most of the time I feel like we don’t need a car, having the ability to do these things is priceless.

Progress towards financial independence

retirement speedometer showing 16.9 months until financial independence

So according to a spreadsheet template that I got from my friend Jessica of The Fioneers, I’m only 17 months away from Financial Independence. At that point, our assets could sustain our current standard of living at a 4% withdrawal rate. If we both lost our jobs, we could in theory survive without earning another dollar.

I have a slightly bigger target in mind for early retirement. But the first step is reaching basic financial independence.

Blog highlights (29 months)

So the big news was that I was featured on USA Today! Being featured on major news outlets is great for the blog. Not only did the feature bring in a lot of traffic, but backlinks are valuable because they tell Google that my site is trustworthy. Links from major websites like USA Today help a lot and I am so thrilled for the feature.

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

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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.