Credits & Dividends Yield 78% Savings Rate for June 2020

Our second monthly balance sheet update: with dividends added our savings rate ballooned. See the details for a little financial voyeurism!

Reading Time: 10 minutes

We’re closing out the first half of 2020 with our monthly income and expense review for June. We’ll follow a very similar format as we did last month, hitting the high-level totals and then breaking it down.

As I mentioned last month, we’re still experimenting with how to best visualize the flow of money in and out of our personal accounts. We’re going to use a Sankey diagram again this month.

If you like or don’t like this diagram type, please post a comment to let us know. We’re very open to the idea of trying to communicate this information in a different way.

How did we spend our money throughout June 2020? Where did our income come from?

This Sankey diagram offers a high-level overview of the monthly inflows and outflows that form our budget. The left side is income, which totals as the “monthly budget” at the dark blue line. This then flows through to top level expenses (like Home) and onto subcategories (like HOA fees).

We’ll do a quick, high-level analysis of the month and call out any of the more interesting items.

Monthly Income & Expenses Summary

I’ve spent the month keeping up with an increasing amount of web-related consulting as more higher ed institutions and related agencies bring their offerings online. That’s motivated by COVID-19 which makes me feel it’s a worthwhile endeavor. I’m hoping to continue to scale back work once things have settled down.

Jenni has spent the month doing part-time work. She’s expecting her workload to increase through July as she does training (full-time for about a week or so) at another location within the business in order to offer her emergency pharmacy relief there.

Income now including dividends

Our total income this month was higher than last at over $14K. This can be attributed to three things:

  1. I had a one-time COVID-19 bonus of $1,000 paid by a business (which I operate)
  2. Jenni had three (rather than the typical two) 401k contributions just because of how the dates fell on the calendar
  3. We’ve begun reporting investment dividends, as part of our becoming a millionaire story

We’re incredibly fortunate to not have had our work negatively impacted, at least financially, by the pandemic. Our savings rate of 78% ($10,988.15 of $14,124.01) exceeded last month’s. Jenni has been trying to max her 401k before her paychecks fall to much smaller amounts as she continues to do less work.

I’ve also included dividends and their reinvestments (DRIPs) on the income side this month, which will skew our savings rate higher. The largest portion of our dividends are annual, so we’ll see the biggest amount on December 31.

Despite completing the third part of our series on making frugal purchases that turn into valuable assets that you can then sell for a profit, we didn’t make any personal local sales this month. I made a few business asset sales (I’m still shrinking business activities), but those don’t appear in our personal balance sheet.

Lower than expected expenses

Our expenses, like last month, are less than we have predicted for 2020. This is driven by having less spending on entertainment and travel since venues and countries are closed. Check out our annual review for a deeper dive into the categories.

Home

The only abnormality in our housing expenses this month was $87.61 in home improvement.

Red nail polish on a bathroom door looks more like a murder scene!

Jenni worked hard to repaint our primary bathroom door after a nail polish bottle exploded on the back of it. Strip, prime, and repaint. There are decades of paint on every surface of our home, so it was a good bit of work!

Jenni also repainted our guest bathroom in a soft baby blue. It’s a tiny bathroom under the stairs (not unlike Harry Potter’s room) and it needed a little love. The sink got a fresh coat of caulk, too.

Food & Dining

Our grocery bill remains slightly higher than expected. Instead of searching for the best deal, combining digital rebates and coupons, or even much planning ahead—we aim to simply get in and out safely. We live in an urban area so the grocery store is where we’re most susceptible to coronavirus.

While $448.10 is reflected as our total grocery expense for the month, $219.25 was credited back (of the $731.35 in total credits for the month). Ultimately, that means our grocery cost for the month was just $228.85. The credit came from the fact that Jenni’s Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card switched its $300/year travel credit to also work with grocery expenses. That helps make up for the large annual fee and the fact that we’ll have a little more trouble maxing out the credit with travel expenses this year.

You might recall a fairly significant fast food expense last month, which was really attributed to a credit card annual fee (that had some restaurant credits it came with). Jenni ended up canceling that card as I mentioned was possible. AMEX credited back $250 (of the $731.35 in total credits for the month), the full annual fee amount.

Our alcohol & bars expense ($68.20) came from two breweries/cideries as Virginia entered new phases of reopening. Both had open-air setups, mask-clad bartenders, and loads of (sadly) throwaway flatware & cups. It felt like college again, drinking out of a plastic cup. Still, it was nice to have a taste of normalcy for a moment.

Health & Fitness

The $277.40 on health insurance is just for me. Jenni will lose her employer-sponsored health insurance in July. She’s opted for COBRA and we expect around $400 for health insurance alongside an HRA fee around $100.

Jenni has also elected to continue her dental coverage via COBRA which is another $20-30/month.

I pay an annual dental insurance fee that is around $300.

Travel

Our original plans for July included a domestic trip that we subsequently canceled due to the pandemic. We were going to see friends in Wisconsin who’ve recently had their third baby.

On a positive note, American Airlines refunded our full miles cost (10,000 AA miles x 2) and ticketing fee ($5.60 x 2). We just made the cancelation at the end of June so I suspect the fee will show up as a credit in our next update.

The last trip we scheduled before the pandemic is to Arizona. That’s not until October, we’ll see how things shake out between now and then.

So far we are two for three.

Amusement & Arts

Our one entertainment expense for the month: a state park entry fee. Lots of folks out taking advantage of Virginia’s Phase Two reopening.

We tracked just $10 in our entertainment spending categories. This was for entry into a Virginia state park. Normally, we like to enjoy an occasional movie at the second-run theater, a live performance as a date night on the town, or a museum.

The pandemic has naturally put a stop to most of that.

We’ve been doing lots of outdoors activities with the summer heat in full swing. Hiking, biking, and trail runs.

We did have one movie night, though it was free!

Movie date night on the lawn: Raiders of the Lost Ark!

Our community put together a little socially distant gathering by having a movie night in a shared space. Normally, we have a get together about one a quarter to just say hello and catchup with each other. Usually that’s at someone’s house. To help with social distancing during the pandemic, we got together outside with plenty of space between us and watched Indy’s adventure.

Shopping

Our electronics & software expenses were through the roof this month. I ended up having to replace two different components of my computer workstation. Ultimately, both will wind up business expenses. However, I thought you might enjoy seeing how this $222.95 expense became just 65¢.

American Express, as part of their COVID-19 relief, doubled the DELL bi-annual shopping credit amount to $200. In addition, they were running 10% back in credit at DELL. I purchased a new graphics card (about $150) and a solid-state drive (SSD – about $60). I added a $5 gift card to make sure the total after the 10% credit would still be more than $200 in order to max the $200 shopping credit.

The credit math ended up being:

$22.30 (10% on the total balance) + $5 (gift card) + $157.94 (graphics card) + $37.06 (balance of $200 credit towards the SSD) = $222.30

That’s a pretty great deal! The new hardware is humming along letting me type this very post out for you.

Miscellaneous

Following the AMEX credit explanation in the shopping section, we had two more fun tricks in our “eBay, PayPal, USPS” and “mobile phone” subcategories.

AMEX’s Business Platinum card also offered a COVID-related credit for shipping expenses up to $20. I purchased 36 stamps (36 * 55¢ = $19.80). They’ll get used up for various notes and cards over the year.

AMEX also offered a wireless phone bill credit up to $20. I reached out to a friend that could use the help and paid their wireless bill. They’ll reimburse me for the difference between the $42.62 bill and $20 credit by the end of the year.

I expected to repeat both of these steps over the next months while AMEX is running these promos.

Comcast decided to raise our internet bill from $29.99 month to around $60. Whatever promo we were on previously apparently ended. I called them up and explained it wasn’t a bill increase we wanted to take on at the moment. Verizon was running a promo for $39.99 at a faster speed. Comcast offered to match the price and offer a similar speed. Our bill for June, $41.99, is two bucks more as they prorated the time we were on a higher rate.

They’ll keep us at $39.99 for two years. Speedtest.net shows nearly 120mbps downstream for us.

The gym expense ($111.57) is mostly from Jenni working with a local trainer who has been doing Zoom workouts with a small group. She’s wanted to continue to support the trainer as the rock climbing gym she normally visits (where the trainer works) has been closed.

How Much Did We Work?

We like to keep track of how much time we spend doing work that is paid. For Jenni, this is pretty easy as it’s just her paycheck time.

Our aim is to gradually reduce these hours.

I’ve already reached a lower bound as I’ve cut every bit of work that doesn’t either provide significant satisfaction or fulfillment. I like to guide people I’ve worked a long time with and work on meaningful projects that help people, especially during this pandemic.

Jenni expects to gradually decrease her hours through the remainder of the year to around 70 per month. The pandemic has made for a shifting ground though, and there will probably be a short term spike in July as she needs to complete some training.

So, how did June shakeout compared to May?

MonthChris (Hours Worked)Jenni (Hours Worked)
May 202041108
June 20203896

An average full-time job for two people would be about 347 hours!

We’re still trending down which is the direction we want to see.

What Does July Hold?

We’re planning a potential “staycation” around Virginia, so we might just see some real travel expenses this month. We’ve got a few more house projects lined up although I don’t think we’re anticipating anything too terribly expensive, hopefully the nail polish stays away from the white walls.

With Jenni working a bit more due to a training week or two and COVID-19 still overhead, it might be a fairly quiet month. On a positive note, that gives us plenty of time to keep working through our FIRE plans and building out the base content on this very website.

In fact, while I was writing this very post, our first guest post went live over on IslandPress.org—it focusses on food waste and the related financial costs. It’s been interesting to see how this process unfolds since it began in May!

This month we added dividends into our balance sheet mix. I’d like to add some commentary on net worth for our July review. There’s more to come, subscribe via email (box on the homepage) to get the latest posts emailed to you!


What about you? Did you find your expenses have reached bottom with the ongoing pandemic?

Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!


Tabular Income & Expense Data

In order to be good web stewards, we try to provide accessible data to support any of our charts, diagrams, or graphs. This is especially true in the case of the Sankey diagram in this post.

The table below is intended to be an accessible replacement for any of our readers who may find the image difficult to interpret. Please let us know if we can improve this feature.

Parent CategorySubcategoryTypePersonUSD
Home Monthly BudgetChris $ 1,340.76
HomeMortgage Chris $ 837.32
HomeHOA Fees Chris $ 350.00
HomeHome Insurance Chris $ 65.83
HomeHome Improvement Chris $ 87.61
Taxes Monthly BudgetChris $ 309.13
TaxesProperty Taxes Chris $ 309.13
Food & Dining Monthly BudgetChris $ 114.92
Food & DiningGroceries Chris $ 73.34
Food & DiningAlcohol & Bars Chris $ 41.58
Food & DiningFast Food Chris $ –
Health & Fitness Monthly BudgetChris $ 277.40
Health & FitnessHealth Insurance Chris $ 277.40
Bills & Utilities Monthly BudgetChris $ 194.25
Bills & UtilitiesInternet Chris $ 41.99
Bills & UtilitiesElectric Chris $ 90.10
Bills & UtilitiesCity Gas Chris $ 19.54
Bills & UtilitiesMobile Phone Chris $ 42.62
Business Services Monthly BudgetChris $ 19.80
Business ServiceseBay, PayPal, USPS Chris $ 19.80
Auto & Transport Monthly BudgetChris $ –
Auto & TransportGas & Fuel Chris $ –
Gifts & Donations Monthly BudgetChris $ –
Gifts & DonationsGift Chris $ –
Shopping Monthly BudgetChris $ 222.95
ShoppingElectronics & Software Chris $ 222.95
     
Monthly Budget DividendsChris $ 2,459.68
Monthly Budget CreditsChris $ 262.10
Monthly BudgetGiftGifts ReceivedChris $ –
Monthly Budget Interest IncomeChris $ 2.72
Monthly Budget eBayChris $ –
Monthly Budget ConsultingChris $ 2,923.83
Monthly Budget Local SalesChris $ –
Monthly Budget CashbackChris $ –
Savings & Investment  Chris $ 4,084.68
Monthly BudgetSavings & InvestmentDRIPChris $ 2,459.68
Monthly BudgetSavings & Investment401k ContribChris $ 1,625.00
     
Food & Dining Monthly BudgetJenni $ 452.92
Food & DiningGroceries Jenni $ 374.76
Food & DiningFast Food Jenni $ 18.42
Food & DiningRestaurant  Jenni $ 33.12
Food & DiningAlcohol & Bars Jenni $ 26.62
     
Fees & Charges Monthly BudgetJenni $ –
Fees & ChargesCredit Card Annual Jenni 
Taxes Monthly BudgetJenni $ –
TaxesProperty Taxes Jenni 
Health & Fitness Monthly BudgetJenni $ 111.57
Health & FitnessGym Jenni $ 111.57
Shopping Monthly BudgetJenni 
ShoppingClothing Jenni $ –
Gifts & Donations Monthly BudgetJenni $ 32.80
Gifts & DonationsDonations Jenni $ 5.00
Gifts & DonationsGifts Jenni $ 27.80
Personal Care Monthly BudgetJenni 
Entertainment Monthly BudgetJenni $ 10.00
EntertainmentAmusement Jenni $ 10.00
Auto & Transport Monthly BudgetJenni $ 49.36
Auto & TransportGas & Fuel Jenni $ 14.36
Auto & TransportTolls Jenni $ 35.00
     
Monthly BudgetGroceriesCreditsJenni $ 469.25
Monthly BudgetGiftGifts ReceivedJenni $ –
Monthly Budget Interest IncomeJenni $ 8.72
Monthly Budget PaycheckJenni $ 7,997.71
Savings & Investment  Jenni $ 6,903.47
Monthly BudgetSavings & Investment401k MatchJenni $ 374.58
Monthly BudgetSavings & Investment401k ContribJenni $ 5,351.16
Monthly BudgetSavings & InvestmentCheckingJenni $ 1,177.73

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By Chris

Chris began his financial independence pursuit in 2007 as he learned basic personal finance from Get Rich Slowly as an aspiring web designer and novice investor. After several missteps, he learned the secrets of financial independence and began his pursuit of freedom.

He reached financial independence in 2018 with $1.2M and two businesses. He began the process of transitioning to early retirement in 2020.

Learn more: Meet Chris.

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