Hi all! Here’s what we did in the month of June. I started writing these “Money Well Spent” posts as a way to reflect on the previous month and talk about our spending in some key areas. It’s also a way for me to reflect on the current state of affairs in our family For a larger explanation of why I write these posts, check out March 2019’s post.
So without further ado, here is my money well spent post for June, 2019.
What I did in June
June was a busy month. The kids finished school in the middle of the month. As a parent, school always seems to end with a bang instead of a whimper. The last few weeks of school included a 1st grade class play, 1st and 5th grade concerts, a 5th grade trip to a state park, and a “moving on” ceremony for the 5th grader. I’m exhausted thinking about it!
In past years, we signed the kids up for day camps throughout summer. While expensive, these cause the least amount of disruption for our work schedules. This summer, we only signed up them up for camp for the month of August. For the first six weeks, we’re stringing together vacation days, high school sitters and partial random camps. So far, we’ve really been enjoying the more laid-back approach to summer (and I think we’re saving money too). I know that Mrs. GovWorker is really enjoying the extra time with the kids.
Money well spent- major expenditures in June
I don’t want to just minimize the money we spend, but I’d also like to be frugal in how much we’re taking from the earth. Posting our utility usage helps me be accountable for that.
Electricity & Natural Gas
- Electricity usage was slightly lower than last month by more than 1 kWh per day. It looks like May was a just a random fluctuation up. There were 33 days in our billing cycle this time so that’s why the numbers don’t quite work out.
- The natural gas use is still non-zero. In the summer we use about 3 therms per month cooking. Our billing cycle runs from May 15-June 17. We had one of the coldest May’s I can remember, so we had to run the fireplace insert up until May 15th. As I type this on July 3rd, it’s in the 90’s with 90% relative humidity. I demand a refund for Spring.
I’m shocked/not shocked by how much we drove our car this past month. For reference, we drove 250 miles in the month of May. How could we quintuple it in one month you might ask? It’s not because we started driving to work? Instead it was that we had 1-2 day trips each weekend.
We drove the carpool for two out-of-town soccer games that were more than 50 miles away from the city. I need to rant about that for a little bit. My daughter plays recreational soccer. Why the F do we need to drive all over creation for games? Can’t they find enough kids that want to play in the city to make a league? I think they do this to make it fair for the kids in the suburbs (exurbs? wilderness??). But this is ridiculous. Thankfully my daughter is choosing to play intramural soccer at middle school next year and this should put an end to the driving.
We also drove to Chicago for a vacation (more on that later).
I had three trail races this month. I was able to get a ride with my friends to one of them, but the other two I drove to with my oldest daughter. Sidenote: Is this a double standard? I think it’s wasteful to drive to my daughter’s soccer games, but can justify driving to my trail races? However, I’d pay so much money to do these trail races with my daughter. We have a really great time in the car talking about school, family, politics, or whatever else she wants to tell me. It’s really great bonding experience.
Before we move on, I need to tell you something– I had an awesome month of trail racing!! The highlight was that I WON MY AGE GROUP at one of the trail races. For several years, I thought I had peaked as a runner in 2013. But this year, I’ve been posting some of my best times (since 2013). I think I’m getting back into shape and it’s exciting.
We had a below-average grocery month for us! . In general we try to keep our grocery budget under $1.25 per person per meal. Interestingly, our grocery spending for June of $493 was nearly half of the USDA “thrifty” food budget plan of $882 per month). What’s even more amazing is that of the $493, we spent nearly half of it on fresh produce. We put $118.50 in our “CSA” (community support
Our biggest expense was our CSA (community support agriculture) share. While we pay the total expense of our CSA in December ($710), it is delivered over 6 months starting at the end of May. We decided to track this expense by adding $118.50 to our grocery budget in the 6 months that we get the CSA. (So we really only spent ~$375 on groceries if you want to look at it that way).
We also spent $50 on strawberries this month. So We bought a lot of fresh, local produce this month and not a lot else. Summers are pretty awesome like that.
I’ve written before about how our cargo bike is our second car. Well, The cargo bike needed a tuneup and a lot of parts replaced. I really hate doing bike maintenance. It’s worth it for me to just drop it off at the store and have everything perfectly functional when it comes back.
Having a $400 bike tuneup did cause a little sticker shock. But we’ve put over 3,000 miles on the bike.
The 11 year old has wanted to see Cloud Gate (i.e. “The Bean”) in Chicago for several years. We decided to do a small trip at the start of summer vacation. I took the older two and my wife stayed with the youngest at home. This worked out well for multiple reasons: (1) The youngest wouldn’t get a lot out of it (2) my wife could save some of her vacation days (3) the youngest gets car sick.
The kids and I had a great time. The trip was surprisingly inexpensive. We drove to Schaumburg, where we could get a hotel for ~$110 a night and took the train in every day. All in, we were able to do the whole trip for less than the cost of a single night in a hotel in the Loop District.
Highlights of the trip included the Field Museum
and Maggie Daley Park
Maggie Daley Park was phenomenal. The kids loved it. I think we could have spent the entire 3 day trip just playing here every day. We had a blast!!
Long term progress
Our numbers haven’t changed since last month. Although our spending categories were different from last month, our savings rate was almost identical. Moreover, our progress to FI didn’t really change this past month either.
Lately Mrs. GovWorker and I have been getting excited thinking about our post-mortgage life. We are set to pay it off in less than 5 years. (At that time our %FI will equal our “future %FI” as the latter includes both childcare and mortgage P&I). We recently passed a major milestone in paying off our mortgage, which has really fueled our desire to save. At this point, every unexpected dollar we get we are putting towards the mortgage. It feels so good to see our last debt melt away.
In general, I’m not a fan of Dave Ramsey. And I really want to hate the debt snowball method. But I find we are super motivated to pay off our mortgage (even though it has a much lower ROI than investment in index funds). I find we’re generating extra income just to slay the mortgage. While it’s not a perfect analogy for the debt snowball, I can understand how psychologically motivating the debt snowball effect can be. Maybe Dave is onto something? (Eeek!)