Spring is now over a third of the way through and the weather is starting to get nice and toasty here in central Texas.
I was excited to pick up running again after getting over the peroneal tendonitis that haunted me last month, but it was not to be—I stubbed my pinky toe against the bathroom door early in the month and my whole foot swelled up, making it painful to walk.
I thought I’d be better in a week, but only now—nearly four weeks later—is my foot mostly healed.
I should be good to start doing some light running in another week. I’ll start off slow and build up gradually to avoid yet another injury.
The economy, meanwhile, is injured as well and continues to be a cause for anxiety.
I find myself obsessively scanning the news and Twitter feeds, trying to guess for how long layoffs will go on for, when the recession will start and end, and when the stock market will bottom.
No one knows, of course, and no one will know, no matter how obsessively I search or how anxious I get, making this all a waste of time.
My only reward for this behavior is a bad mood, which then seeps into other areas of my life, but I’ve had lots of trouble controlling myself.
We’re still investing into the stock market every month through our 401ks, but have held out from investing further, choosing instead to build up our savings and take advantage of the high interest rates currently being offered.
This essentially means I’m trying to time the market as I’ve previously written not to do. 🤡
So convenient a thing to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.
In terms of numbers, our total expenses in April were $4,168.34 and my net worth increased by $25,861 to $742,668.1
Here’s how the numbers broke down:
Our mortgage payment was $3,363.61. This breaks down into $1,500.79 for principal, $452.23 for interest, and $1,410.59 for escrow.
As I mentioned in last month’s update, our monthly escrow is higher than it should be this year as we had a shortage last year since it was our first year in the house and the escrow wasn’t set high enough to cover property taxes.
We’re technically getting an interest-free loan as the lender paid the property taxes in full at the end of 2022 and we’re paying them back throughout 2023. Small win.
Our house’s market value—according to Zillow—is down around $50,000 from our purchase price. This seems to be the trend across the country due to the current economic environment.
On the bright side, this decline will provide some property tax relief this year and I’m hopeful prices will rebound over the next few years.
The one number I’m consoling myself with is the 2.375% interest rate on our 15-year mortgage.
With savings account rates close to 4%, we’re at least able to offset a good portion of the mortgage interest with the interest from our savings.
We have $226,992.50 to go until we’re mortgage free.
We paid $69.64 for insurance for our 2018 Kia Soul. The insurance, through Nationwide, covers both my wife and myself.
This was our third month with Nationwide since switching from Progressive. The switch saved us $106 on our home insurance and around $180 on our car insurance due to bundling discounts.
We’re on Nationwide’s SmartMiles program—their pay-per-mile insurance—since we don’t drive much and it’s been working out well so far.
We also spent $20.97 at Costco filling up our tank. Gas is back over $3 per gallon here in central Texas ($3.13 when we fueled up), up from $2.69 in February.
Since we’re planning on doing lots of driving in May, June, and July, April was likely the last sub-$100 month for car expenses for a while.
My parents are visiting in early May and we’ll be doing some sightseeing. Then, for Memorial Day week, we’re planning on going to Big Bend National Park and, in July, to Atlanta to visit my wife’s family.
Our utilities include electricity, natural gas, internet, water, sewer, and trash.
Our electricity bill was $16.88 for 127 kWh.2 This was a big jump from the 78 kWh we used last month and I’m not entirely sure why as I don’t think we did anything different. We’ll see where we’re at next month.
Our natural gas bill was $33.51 for 10 CCF.3
Our house uses natural gas for the stove, water heater, and heating. I’m a little surprised that our usage was this high now that winter is over. I assumed it’d be in the 5 to 7 CCF range. Another number to keep an eye on next month.
Our internet bill was $65.33 for the cheapest plan (300 Mbps) offered by Spectrum. This is despicable highway robbery but I’ve called around multiple times and we don’t have any alternatives in our area.
Finally, our water, sewer, and trash bill from the city was $81.83. This breaks down into $31 for water (1,086 gallons), $29.04 for sewer, and $16.43 for trash, plus taxes.4
We spent $227.23 on groceries, a bit higher than our usual spend.
This broke down into $94.59 at Costco, $78.87 at Aldi, $38.20 at Walmart, and $15.57 at Randall’s.
My wife and I spend around $200 a month on food. See How we eat for only $200 a month for a detailed explanation.
At Costco, we bought almond milk, parmesan cheese5, three 4-pack boxes of tofu, two bags of almonds and two of walnuts, shredded mozzarella, and bread.
At Aldi, we bought our usual fresh produce—avocados, bell peppers, celery, carrots, onions, etc.—and at Walmart, we stocked up on pinto beans, eggs, brown rice, chickpeas, canned sweet peas, and frozen broccoli.
Finally, we received a coupon in the mail for $10 off a $20 order on DoorDash and I used this to buy 20 pounds of lentils from a local grocery store called Randall’s.
20 pounds for $15.57 is $0.78 per pound, which is a great deal as Walmart and Aldi generally charge $1.29.
We set a new high for the year—$195.54—for the Fun category this month, more than doubling our previous high of $95.39 in January.
The bulk of this spend—$163.01, 83.4% of the total—came on a pair of plane tickets for my parents to visit us in Austin for a few days. They haven’t seen our new house yet and we’re excited to show them around.
An impromptu weekend date at McDonald’s cost us $2.16 for two large fries.6
We also spent $8.02 at Walmart and Aldi on ingredients for a pasta sauce and a brownie mix for a dinner with friends.7
And the last $22.35 were spent at Aldi and Walmart8 as well, this time on ingredients for some fun dishes we’ll be cooking for my parents as it’ll be their 33rd anniversary when they visit.
We spent $63.98 on health-related expenses.
We spent $39 on a routine eye exam for my wife and $24.98 at Costco on multivitamins and fish oil capsules.9
Our miscellaneous spending came out to $29.82 this month.
We spent $16.84 at Walmart on bleach and socks10 and $12.98 at Costco on ECOS laundry detergent.
Our home insurance is covered through our escrow with our mortgage lender and both my wife and I get health insurance through our employers.
As the health insurance premium is deducted from our paychecks, it’s not included in the table at the start of the post.
I started tracking my net worth in December 2017, a few months after starting my first full-time job. This first entry came in at $19,054.64.
As of April 2023, my net worth is at $742,668, an increase of $25,861 from last month as the stock market continues to go up.
It’s anyone’s guess whether the recovery will continue or whether we’re heading for a recession and a 15% drop in the stock market as some pundits are suggesting.
My net worth is spread across my savings account, HSA, 401k, Roth IRA, I Bonds, and brokerage account. I don’t include our home equity in my net worth.
April was another good month.
We set up our raised bed and will hopefully eat something from our garden sometime this summer. My foot mostly healed and I did a ton of pull-ups, chin-ups, and push-ups.
As in February and March, we managed to keep our expenses below $4,200, spending only $804.73 outside of our mortgage.
This spending was slightly higher than the non-mortgage spending of $611.51 in February and $553.56 in March, but still within a comfortable range.
I didn’t post as much as I hoped this month—only two new posts—but I did manage to stay mostly upbeat as I aimed to do in last month’s update.
I can still do a whole lot better in this department, however, and I’m looking to continue making progress. There’s no higher aim than learning to be a good person… but it doesn’t come easy!
My goals for May are to work on the blog, start running again, and to have an awesome time at Big Bend—we haven’t been to a national park since we went to Zion, Bryce Canyon, and White Sands in 2021 and we’re mighty excited.
Anyway, I hope April was good to you and that May is even better.
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My wife and I track expenses together but our net worth separately. Our finances are combined for the most part, but we’ve always tracked our net worth separately and never bothered to combine our tracking. ↩
The cost was $0.101 per kWH plus a fixed fee of $3.42 and taxes. ↩
The cost was $0.95 per CCF plus a fixed fee of $21.60 and taxes. ↩
The cost of water is $0.005 per gallon plus a fixed fee of $25.48. Sewer costs $0.006 per gallon plus a fixed fee of $25.31.
The water charge uses your monthly consumption while the sewer charge is based on your average winter usage, that is, your average water consumption during the winter months of November, December, January, and February.
This means our sewer fee will be the same every month until we re-establish our average winter usage later this year. ↩
The Kraft 24 oz container was on sale for $5.69 ($0.24 per oz) which made it cheaper than Aldi ($2.65 for 8 oz, $0.33 per oz). ↩
We used the MyMcDonald’s Rewards app. Their list of deals almost always includes $1 large fries. ↩
We spent $6.78 at Walmart for one pound of ground beef ($4.06) and two cans of petite diced tomatoes ($1.36 each) and $1.24 at Aldi for a box of brownie mix. ↩
$16.03 at Aldi and $6.32 at Walmart. ↩
The multivitamins were $11.99 and the fish oil capsules were $12.99; both were Kirkland Signature brand. We’re thinking of returning the fish oil capsules and waiting until they go on sale as they do on a semi-frequent basis. ↩
I’d last bought socks for myself in May 2019. 😁 ↩