Highlights for April
- We like to take advantage of 0% APR balance transfers and other credit card offers for free money. We earned a $500 bonus on our last offer on new Capital One Spark credit card.
- Our properties are listed on our balance sheet based on their cost basis, not current market value. We did this while the real estate market was riding high and we continue to do it now during the slide. I believe real estate is too illiquid to list based on recent sale transactions. For those interested, our April Zillow property estimates are: $193,593; $121,465; $296,140 (which recently appraised for $270k); and $233,195.
- Re-renting our 1st rental which has a lease ending in July was my primary focus in April. I outsourced some landscaping $310, exterior painting $1450, and purchased a new lawnmower $147. I was able to sign a 2 year lease and still raise the rent a bit. I am feeling good that the heavy lifting on this project is done for now.
- April was a disappointing month from an investment perspective. My actively managed portfolio lost value, while the VTI benchmark gained a little. I'll post my investing report shortly.
I took a couple days off this week just to catch my breadth and spend a little time with the family. Today I took my 3yr old daughter to the local science museum and had a lovely day enjoying the warm weather and learning a few things alongside my child.
While I was sitting at an outside park bench at the museum I started to bask in how wonderful it was to let things slow down and enjoy things like the outdoors with my family. Why can't I do this all the time? Working hard sucks. It reminded me of everything I miss out on when I'm working most of the time. I can remember in college when lifeguarding at the community pool for the summer seemed to last forever, now a year goes by in the blink of an eye.
Today reminded me of why I'm working so hard in the first place - it is not for some net worth aspiration, but more freedom to chose how I and my wife spend our time in the future. I sorta wish that time was now, but its still too early to check out of the rat race. We are still 8-11 years away from our financial freedom goal and that seems too far away on days like these.
Highlights for March
- We like to take advantage of 0% APR balance transfers and other credit card offers for free money. In January we earned a $500 bonus on a new Capital One Spark credit card.
- Our properties are listed on our balance sheet based on their cost basis, not current market value. We did this while the real estate market was riding high and we continue to do it now during the slide. I believe real estate is too illiquid to list based on recent sale transactions. For those interested, our March Zillow property estimates are: $193,369; $120,123; $292,803 (which recently appraised for $270k); and $231,405.
- March was a big month from an income statement perspective. I received my annual bonus this month as well as received an $8k advance from my employer for something we are working on that I'm hoping to share next month. In the meantime the $8k shows up in "Cash & Savings" and is offset under "Other Liabilities" with a corresponding $8k liability since it hasn't been consumed yet.
- March was also a pretty good month from an investment standpoint with my personally managed portfolio returning 4.5%+ in March.
- I have to admit now with a 3 year old and a 6 month old and my other commitments that I'm starting to struggle to regularly post to this blog. Weeks fly by in the blink of an eye. My family is my priority so posting will likely be more sporadic until my time commitments lighten up.
Here is an offer that sounds great if your looking for something exciting to do for an upcoming weekend. Why not grab a free rental car for the weekend and get out of dodge?
Mr. Pickles has documented a recent free card rental by making a weekend car rental reservation @ avis.com and using coupon code "TUEA002". He was able to rent a 2013 Chrysler 300 for free for a weekend.
I did a quick search on avis.com and was able to make a car reservation using the coupon code for <$2 (taxes) for a weekend rental.
Each year I am learning a bit more about the costs for raising a child. It is clear my initial thoughts on the expenses of raising a child were naively simple when we had our first child. I wanted to capture a snapshot of our current child rearing expenses as I think this could be useful for future financial planning for families.
Major Financial Cost Drivers for Our Family with a 3yr old:
- Preschool - Our child's preschool currently costs $210/mo. I've heard that is very inexpensive compared to many other preschools, but haven't done the research myself.
- Food -- Our food bill is higher, but hard to distinguish, part of it is likely lifestyle changes for us and a small part due to our child. After all she has her favorite foods - yogurts, kids snacks, etc that we regularly buy just for her. I'd estimate our food costs are up about 10%, rather small compared with all the other expenses.
- Health Insurance -- We held off on buying dental insurance initially, but my wife did take our 3yr old for an initial visit to the dentist this year for a total cost of $59. My wife felt it was important to get her exposed to a dentist and found a special offer that kept the cost low. We have had health insurance from day 1 from my employer for an extra $110/mo.
- Presents -- Not only do we have gifts for holidays (Christmas, birthday, etc), but we also have social engagements and birthday gifts for all her friends too. There is at least 1-2 birthday parties a month so I anticipate $25-$50/mo for gifts alone.
- Annual Birthday Party -- $250-$300/yr. With our time at such a premium the only way we can throw a decent birthday parts is to buy one. We had her 1st & 2nd birthday at our house which was less expensive, but with more obligations and pressing needs for time, we are now just buying a birthday package at a local place -- bowling alley, kids fun place, etc.
- Clothes - $150-$200/yr. Kids out grow clothes fast. The keys that have helped us keep clothing costs manageable are hand-me-downs; shopping consignment sales/2nd hand store; and clearance sales at clothing stores.
- Child care - ~$300/yr. drop in daycare and babysitters. This would be considerable more, but we have significantly cut down on our evenings out and instead have stayed in most of the time. Still my wife and I need quality time on occasion and without family close by we tend to rely on babysitters. A good suggestion I've heard from friends is to do swap sitting with other families, but we just haven't been organized enough to have much success with this yet.
- Extracurricular Activities - $55/mo. Currently my daughter is taking a weekly dance class and a local dance company. We've also previously signed up for swim lessons and plan to join a soccer team in the future. We generally try to have 1 extra-circular activity going at a time to manage/throttle the expenses.
- College Savings - We are currently socking away about $150/mo in a 529 plan for our 3yr child. I have seen many estimates out there, but the general consensus seems to be to target saving $250-$400/mo for college so we may have a bit of catching up to do.
I'll also note as I've done previously that probably the single largest expense is our time commitment to raising our child. The time required is exponentially the largest expense for us, but absolutely worth ever penny.
Last 15 Personal Finance Entries
03/17/2013 | Investment Performance February 2013 (+0.49%)
03/06/2013 | February 2013 Net Worth Update (+$8,144)
02/27/2013 | Lowes $10 off $50 Coupon
02/24/2013 | Householding Accounts for Airline Miles
02/18/2013 | Investment Performance January 2013 (+6.72%)
02/10/2013 | 2012 Passive Income: Rental Property
02/04/2013 | January 2013 Net Worth Update (+$43,105)
01/27/2013 | 2012 Passive Income: Dividends
01/20/2013 | 2012 Investment Performance Review
01/14/2013 | 2012 Net Worth Growth
01/09/2013 | Investment Performance December 2012 (+3.09%)
01/03/2013 | December 2012 Net Worth Update (+$6,595)
12/10/2012 | $10 Walmart Gift Card with $100 Gift Card Purchase
12/10/2012 | Investment Performance November 2012 (-0.20%)
12/05/2012 | November 2012 Net Worth Update (+$11,111)