I’ve always heard that keeping a journal makes you more mindful about the passage of time. As I sit here closing this e-ledger on August, it feels like just last week that I was bitching about the cold Weather in December’s update.
If journaling makes you more aware of time – consider me fully aware. Time is flying!
Welcome to the August edition of my monthly Net Worth Updates. Every month, I share my progress towards a goal of nearly $1 million and an early retirement by age 37. If you feel like time traveling, check out the net worth updates page where I keep all the entries since April 2016.
In past month’s updates, I mentioned I was cutting back on summer travel in order to take advantage of the cool, mild northern summers. A smart traveler would limit hot climate travel to the winter, and stay in the cold states during the summer, I thought.
It was a brilliant plan, right until I left the cool, comfortable northern summer weather for the scorching triple digits temperatures of Texas.
I stepped off the plane and immediately reintroduced myself to the warm oven blast that Texans call a summer breeze. In any case, the trip to visit family was as comforting and recharging as only a family visit can be.
Even though I booked the whole trip with points left over from chase’s free $2,000 sign up bonus, it was a friendly reminder just how priceless family really is.
In other news, a proper August 2017 update wouldn’t be complete without some talk of The Eclipse of the Century. Like a good space geek, I ordered my pair of ISO compliant solar glasses, cleared my August 21 afternoon, and looked towards the sky.
I was in Dallas at the time, which according to the surprisingly accurate eclipse predictions, would only experience around 70% coverage. The sight was still a strange experience, and I briefly stopped to consider my tiny, insignificant place in the universe.
Then I immediately wondered why this whole spectacle looked nothing like the advertisements.
Maybe when I’m nice and retired, with zero career obligations, I can take a road trip towards North America’s next total solar eclipse. Here’s a neat graphic showing all the areas with 100% solar eclipse coverage over the next century:
Which future eclipse I see will serve as a nice barometer for how this whole early retirement experiment is progressing. If I don’t reach the goal a little ahead of schedule by April 2024, I’ll have to wait all the way until August 2045!
Other August news included the hazy blur that is Saint Paul, Minnesota’s Summer Beerfest. For one August day every summer, 120 craft breweries take over the local independent league baseball field.
They all stake out tents in the outfield and all around the concourse, and they serve out “free” samples paid for by your $45 entrance ticket. If my buzzed math is any good, that’s actually a pretty good value, since the whole event turns into a non-stop, 4 hour-long power hour of delicious beer sampling. I did my best to report back on the exact value, but I lost track somewhere around my 20th sample, each roughly the size of 1/3 of a beer.
Cheers! Score one for frugality!
But maybe the most important event of the month: I saw this guy driving down the road, apparently trying to set some sort of record for number of pallets carried by a rust bucket.
To the update!
Net Worth Update: August 2017
And the detailed breakdown:
Cash: $8,074 (+$290)
The cash is slowly but surely moving in the right direction. In the mean time, I decide whether to funnel it straight to my Vanguard index funds or keep saving up for some sort of rental property.
Keep reading for my most detailed spending report EVER.
Brokerage: $101,401 (-$1,049)
No contributions this month, which means the fluctuation was just from market swings.
At month end, my brokerage account included:
- $52,400 invested with Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index Fund. (Related: How to Choose a Vanguard Index Fund)
- $49,000 in a mixture of Vanguard ETFs, with a few individual stocks back from the days when I thought I could beat the market. I’ve now wised up and decided not to trade individual stocks.
401(k): $69,543 (+$2,360)
This $2.36K change in account value was driven by $2.33K of automatic contributions and employer matching. After a slow start to the year, I’m still contributing almost 30% of my take home pay so that I make sure I max out my 401K in 2017.
Roth IRA: $18,539 (-$63)
No contributions this month. Investing $5,500 sometime between now and April 2018 (the cutoff date for 2017 eligible Roth IRA contributions) is still a goal of mine. If my cash account keeps growing and no promising rental property investments show up, I may not have an excuse any longer.
My Roth is invested entirely in Vanguard’s REIT index fund. I like this allocation, since I otherwise have no exposure to real estate and do not own a house.
Rent Payable: $719 (+$9)
Same rented apartment, although the monthly obligation went up slightly as the AC worked a little harder to keep the place cool.
Credit Cards Payables: $1,761 (-$629)
This amount equals total outstanding balances for all my credit cards. With the way the billing cycles work out, this number usually represents about a month and a half of credit card spending.
As previously hyped, here’s my most detailed spending report EVER:
Total August Spending: $1,275
Most of the categories are self explanatory. Here’s some explanations for those that aren’t:
- Travel – $36
- Since I booked the Dallas trip on sign up bonus points, my only expense was a few Uber rides to/from the airport.
- Entertainment – $84
- A friend’s wedding, the previously mentioned Beerfest, a Greekfest, and a Food Truck Fest. Apparently August is the month of the fest.
- Vehicle Expenses – $77
- The pesky car insurance bill.
Overall, I topped my frugal July, making this my most frugal month of the year!
If you’re not already tracking your spending, I can say from experience it’s probably the easiest way to start taking control of your spending. I recommend my new most underrated iphone app, or if you want an even easier and automated experience, personal capital.
Readers, how was your August?
- How I’m Analyzing Investment Property
- Should I Invest in My 401k? (Even with High Fees?)
- How to Choose a Vanguard Index Fund