Summer is closing in on us and the weather continues to heat up here in Austin.
I’ve started running again as my foot is finally mostly healed. I’m over the peroneal tendonitis that plagued me in March and while my stubbed pinky toe from April is still not at 100%, I’ve managed to go out for runs by buddy taping it to the “ring” toe.
My goal is to start Hal Higdon’s 5K Intermediate Training plan in June. It’s an eight-week plan with two rest days per week and a weekly mileage hovering around sixteen which should be a good start for me. If all goes well, I’ll start the 10K plan right after.
My parents visited us in our new house at the beginning of the month and we had an awesome time. We walked around Austin during the day and drank and had good food at night. They even got to meet our neighbors as they invited us over for dinner.
My mom kept saying they’d be back next year which made me happy to hear. 👩👦
The middle of the month is a bit of a blur but we capped the month with a weeklong camping trip to Big Bend, which was an otherwordly experience. It was our first time camping so everything was new to us.
We were scheduled to stay in the Rio Grande Village Campground for our first three nights. In our second night, however, the Rio Grande overflowed which flooded our campsite.
Our tent and sleeping bags got soaked and our car got stuck in the mud. We got lucky that Grant, a frat cowboy from Austin with a heart of gold, pulled us out with his truck.1
We left the Rio Grande Village campsite the next morning and headed up to the Chisos Mountains. We parked in the vistor center and slept in the car for one night as we had reservations in the Chisos Basin Campground starting the next day.
Everything was easier at Chisos Basin. We were able to dry our tent and sleeping bags and ended up having an amazing time.
Over the seven days, we hiked the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail, the Boquillas Canyon Trail, the Marufo Vega Trail, the Lost Mine Trail, the Window Trail, Emory Peak, and the South Rim, totaling over 90 miles.
Though we managed to hit all the big trails, there’s still at least another week worth of trails for us to explore at some time in the future. Big Bend is huge and beautiful!
I’ll be writing a more in-depth post about the experience over these next few weeks.
In terms of numbers, our total expenses in May were $4,276.66 and my net worth increased by $88,904 to $831,572.2
Here’s how the numbers broke down:
Our mortgage payment was $3,363.61. This breaks down into $1,503.76 for principal, $449.26 for interest, and $1,410.59 for escrow.
As I mentioned in last month’s update, our monthly escrow will be higher this year as last year was our first year in the house and the escrow wasn’t set high enough to cover the property tax.
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.
Like much of the rest of the housing market, our house’s market price is still below our purchase price. While unfortunate, this will at least lead to lower property taxes than last year.
We have $225,488.74 to go until we’re mortgage free.
We paid $75.84 for insurance for our 2018 Kia Soul. The insurance covers both my wife and myself.
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.
One big reason I went with the SmartMiles program is that it includes a road trip exception, meaning we get charged a max of 250 miles per day.
This came in handy for our trip to Big Bend as the exception cut the roughly 1,000-mile roundtrip to 500 miles—as far as the insurance goes—since we did each leg of the trip in a single day.
We have another roadtrip planned for July so we’ll see how Nationwide reacts to two roadtrips in a six-month period when it comes to renewal time.
I included the gas we used for our usual day-to-day activities—doing groceries, visiting friends, random errands—in this category, but the gas we got for the roadtrip I included in the Fun category.
We topped off the tank twice at Costco for a total of $30.49 and an average price of $2.87 per gallon. This is lower than the $3.13 from last month but still considerably higher than the $2.69 we saw in February.
Our utilities include electricity, natural gas, internet, water, sewer, and trash.
Our electricity bill was $19.37 for 139 kWh.3
Our electric utility company hiked rates4 starting May 1. The fixed monthly charge went up from $3.42 to $4.23 and the per kWh charge increased by $0.0026. This will increase our electricity bill by around $185 per year—not a big deal but still annoying.
Our usage will continue to increase as we head into summer. Last year we used 232 kWh in June, 514 kWh in July, and 611 kWh in August. We’ll see what this summer brings.
Our natural gas bill was $29.39 for 6 CCF.6
Our house uses natural gas for the stove, water heater, and heating. Our usage is in line with last year and should stay at this level until late in the year when winter returns.
Our internet bill was $65.33 for the cheapest plan (300 Mbps) offered by Spectrum since they’re the only provider in our area. Fingers crossed we get a cheaper alternative by the time we have to renew the contract.
Finally, our water, sewer, and trash bill from the city was $82.18. This breaks down into $31.35 for water (1,155 gallons), $29.04 for sewer, and $16.43 for trash, plus taxes.7
We spent $121.40 on groceries, lower than our typical spend as we had spent a bit extra last month and had extra food to work through and because we spent the last week of the month camping and the food we bought for camping is included in the Fun category.
The $121.40 broke down into $47.75 at Costco, $35.56 at Walmart, $25.08 at Trader Joe’s, and $13.01 at Aldi.
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 oats8, walnuts, and almonds.
At Walmart, we stocked up on oats and peanut butter and got a bag of whole wheat flour as Aldi only sells bleached flour.9
At Trader Joe’s, we got peanut butter and coconut milk10, and at Aldi, we got avocados, bananas, eggs, pasta, table salt, and yeast.
We once again set a new high for the year—$357.01—in the Fun category, almost doubling our previous high of $195.54 in April.
The spend came from two events: my parents visiting us for a couple of days at the start of the month and our weeklong camping trip to Big Bend at the end of the month.
For my parents’ visit, we spent $30.08, mostly on alcohol with some snacks and groceries thrown in for good measure.
For Big Bend, we spent $30 on the entrance fee to the park, $112 on campsite reservations for seven nights, $73.25 on camping equipment, $70.44 on food, and $41.24 on gas to get there11, for a total of $326.93.
I’ll soon be writing a post on our camping experience where I’ll break down these costs in more detail.
We spent $80.01 on health-related expenses.
A visit to the dentist for a routine cleaning for my wife cost us $93 and we returned the fish oil capsules ($12.99) we bought last month at Costco.
As I’ve mentioned in previous updates, my wife has an Etsy shop that yields a small profit.
We spent $9.03 this month on envelopes.
Our miscellaneous spending came out to $43.
We bought nail polish remover and a potato peeler at Walmart12, a drop-over greenhouse at Aldi ($20.34) to protect our raised bed from birds and rabbits, and a 2-pack of biker shorts at Costco for my wife ($18.39).
I started my first full-time job in August of 2017 and started tracking my net worth that December. This first entry came in at $19,054.64.
As of May 2023, my net worth is at $831,572, an increase of $88,904 from last month as the stock market continues to go up.
The rollercoaster continues and pundits and analysts are split on whether we’re achieving the mythical “soft-landing” or headed for a cliff.
May was a great month. My parents’ visit was a breath of fresh air as was our week at Big Bend.
Our trip confirmed our suspicion that we’d really enjoy camping and we’re hoping to do some weekend trips from now until the end of the year.
While we went over our $4,200 “budget” for the second time this year, this was to be expected given our camping trip. The entrance fee to the park and the campsite reservations alone cost $142 and we needed to get basic gear as we had none.
Our monthly average for the year is now at $4,354.6613 and I’m fairly confident we’ll be able to end the year close to the $4,200 mark.
The stock market has been on a tear over the last couple of months and it’s possible we avoid a recession and I come to regret the decision to not continue investing.
But as saving account rates are over 4% and I’m still unsure about what will happen with the economy (recession? more layoffs? student loan payment restart? COVID savings running out in Q4?), I’d rather err on the side of caution.
My goals for June are to publish a post every week and come up with a strategy for promoting Path to Simple and increasing the readership, and to start the 5K training plan.
I hope May was good to you and that June is even better.
Stay in touch!
Enjoying so far? Get my posts delivered straight to your inbox each week. 📨
*If this form gives you any trouble, reach out to me at email@example.com and I’ll help you out.
I hope good karma has been flowing your way Grant! ↩
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 $0.103 per kWH plus a fixed fee of $4.23 and taxes. ↩
($4.23 - $3.42) × 12 + $0.0026 per kWh × 3,000 kWh per year = $17.52 ↩
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 the monthly consumption while the sewer charge is based on the average winter usage, that is, the average water consumption during the winter months of November, December, January, and February.
This means our sewer fee will be the same until April 2024 by which time we’ll have established a new average winter usage. ↩
Quaker oats at Costco are at $12.79 for 160 oz ($0.08 per oz) which is slightly cheaper than Millville oats at Aldi ($3.79 for 40 oz; $0.095 / oz) and Avelina oats at Walmart ($1.38 for 16 oz; $0.086 / oz). ↩
We bought 8 jars of Laura Scudder’s Peanut Butter for $1.25 for the 16 oz jar, almost half the price of Trader Joe’s peanut butter ($2.29).
We also bought 8 cans of McCann’s Irish Oats as they were on clearance for $1.88 for 28 oz cans ($0.067 / oz)—cheaper even than Costco’s Quaker oats—along with some bags of Avelina oats. ↩
Trader Joe’s has been dethroned by Walmart for cheapest healthy peanut butter but they still have the cheapest coconut milk—$1.99 for a 13.5 oz can (full fat; it’s $1.79 for reduced fat) compared to $2.12 at Walmart and $2.50 at Costco. ↩
The gas we spent on the return trip will be part of the June update. ↩
$1.05 for the potato peeler and $3.22 for the nail polish remover ↩