Hey, everyone. Hope everyone is enjoying the last few weeks of summer. 

We got to visit Turtle Back Zoo again in August. I thought that there might be more people this time due to summer break, but it was actually pretty empty. We even had the playground (shown above) to ourselves for a good 30 minutes, which was great. The amount of people might have been sparse partly because we went on a weekday too.

August was a little different for us, financially speaking. We overpaid our federal and state income tax this month.  Opps. I wish I could say that it was Mr. FD’s fault, but the truth is, I had a mental lapse too before realizing the mistake too late. 

In any case, here’s our monthly update.

Monthly Spending and Income

August 2021 Spending

Primary Residence – Property Tax+Assoc. Fees $290
Rental – Property Tax+Assoc. Fees $215
Internet $40
Cell Phone $32
Gas + Electric $113
Water/Sewer $119
Food (Groceries/Household) $1268
Food (Eating Out) $558
Transportation [Gas+Registration] $218
Car Insurance $0
Life/Home/Umbrella Insurance $90
Health/Dental Insurance $127
Misc/Buffer [Zoo, Netflix/HBOMax, Shoe Rack, Gifts, Clothes, Masks] $332
Total Monthly Spending $3,403

Most of the expenses are expected and generally unremarkable. Grocery and eating out is on the higher side. Still, when I calculate the average over all months this year, it’s still pretty closely in line with my expectations before starting this blog.  We average just under $1060 a month on grocery and household items. (I expected $1000/month). We spend on average a little more than $410 a month eating out. (I expected $600/month). I’m not sure why this bothers me so much that I’ve singled out these spending categories and not the others. I think many bloggers and FIRE articles focus on cutting back on food expenses in favor of cooking at home or reducing grocery spending in savvy ways.  As a result, I feel like I’m failing a bit here.  My justification is that I get a lot of comfort and happiness when I eat something delicious. In contrast, I find little joy in making food for myself or shopping for bargains. Until that changes, we’ll probably continue to have these two large spending categories every month. 

The bulk of the miscellaneous spending is comprised of a rather large purchase of disposable KF-94 masks for everyone in the family. There’s no virtual school option in NJ this year, so I figured I might as well get fancy masks to help lower my anxiety levels about my kids potentially catching the Delta variant in school. I don’t know how crazy this sounds, but the pandemic keeps me up at night. Anything to help alleviate this is on the table at this point.

August 2021 InCOME

Rent $1,400
Child Tax Credit (Federal) $500
NJ Tax Rebate $500
Hobby Site $459
Mr. FD Freelance $1,350
Total Monthly Income $4,209

Mr. FD’s freelance income was lower than usual this month due to less hours spent working, but the abnormally low amount above is a result of us overpaying federal and state taxes. Big sigh. When we estimated taxes, we did a straight multiplication of our tax bracket percentage (22%) on our income, which is of course incorrect. From now on, we’ll use the calculators provided by the IRS to at least sanity check our numbers before submitting payments. Lesson learned, hopefully. I’d read about this many times before, but for some reason doing our own numbers resulted in a gigantic brain fart. The silver lining is that we shouldn’t need to pay any more federal and state income tax this year, and hopefully we’ll get a little of it back come tax time.

In addition to our monthly Advance Child Tax Credits , we also received another $500 from the state of New Jersey in the form of a Tax Rebate. I’d initially heard about this rebate last year but didn’t think much of it at the time. It was a pleasant but unexpected surprise getting the check in the mail in August.


Solo 401k Contributions HSA Contributions
$0 $0

We missed contributions to our 401k this month, but we’ll make a bigger contribution next month. Life happens, and it’s not a big deal.

By subtracting our expenses from our income, despite a few snafus we managed to save a little this month.

August Savings: $4,209 – $3,403 + $0 + $0 = $806 in total

Spending and Savings Summary for the year

Here’s a summary of our spending and savings for this year.

  Spending Saving
January 2021 -$4,977 $6,259
February 2021 -$4,288 $3,632
March 2021 -$2,567 $11,802
April 2021 -$5,632 $1,591
May 2021 -$3,271 $9,888
June 2021 -$3,207 $9,880
July 2021 -$4,850 $11,881
August 2021 -$3,403 $806
TOTAL -$32,195 $55,740

Net Worth for the year

For net worth, here’s how we’ve been doing. I calculate net worth near the end of the month, but not always on the final day of the month. Most of our net worth increases or decreases are heavily dependent on the stock market. I’m also including our total FIRE assets, which is arguably more important.

Our net worth went up just shy of $40k again this month, and our FIRE assets went up about the same. Year-to-date, our net worth is up more than $280k.  For us, that’s 5.5 years worth of expenses. Looking at this table, it’s pretty crazy how much our assets have increased this year.  Our assets have gone up by $30-60k every month this year. It doesn’t seem like it should keep going in this direction (based on nothing but gut instinct), so I’ll count my blessings for now and try to remember this when it does eventually come down.

  Net Worth FIRE Assets
January 2021 $2.15 M $1.55 M
February 2021 $2.18 M $1.59 M
March 2021 $2.23 M $1.63 M
April 2021 $2.29 M $1.69 M
May 2021 $2.32 M $1.72 M
June 2021 $2.36 M $1.76 M
July 2021 $2.40 M $1.80 M
August 2021 $2.44 M $1.84 M

FIRE Failure Indicators

Mr. FD still works more than not, so we’re still transitioning towards FIRE. However, I think this section is a good sanity check for us. That’s why I keep doing it every month.

  1. So far this year, we’ve spent about $32, 195. If we do a simple projection on this to the end of the year (divide by 8, multiple by 12), it looks like we’ll spend about $48, 292 in total. That’s not too bad. However, big caveat, this total should increase by a decent amount in coming months because health insurance premiums have increased more than 8-fold.  You’ll see this month next month. Had we not made so much money this year (a good problem), we would have probably kept our expenses below $50k. So, we’re still fine here.
  2. If Mr. FD were to stop working today, we’d have a withdrawal rate close to 2.75%. Below is a simple table of withdrawal rates and how much that would amount to given our current FIRE assets. We want to keep our spending at or below 3%, so we’re good here too.
    Withdrawal Rate Withdrawal Amount
    4.00% $73,614
    3.75% $69,013
    3.50% $64,412
    3.25% $59,811
    3.00% $55,210
    2.75% $50,609

Happiness Indicators

On a scale of 1-10, how would I rate my happiness?

I think I’m about a 7. My Fall grad course is in full swing, but I’m not. Maybe I relaxed too much this summer. I’ve got to devote more time to it if I don’t want to have a bunch of stressful, sleepless nights in the near future. Also, the Delta variant is weighing on my mind a lot. I wonder if I should pull my kids out of school and homeschool until the vaccine for 12 and under gets approved for emergency use. I have until Sept. 9th to decide. The FIRE-transition state that we’re in gives us options, but it’s still hard making the right choice. 

I’m continuing to run a 2-3 times a week. In August, I attempted a 7 mile run and made it, but that was at the cost of some muscle and joint pain/discomfort. So, I’m back to 6 miles again for now. The interesting thing is that doing 6 miles now is noticeably easier after having attempted 7.  I think I’m slowly getting stronger and building up endurance, which is a good feeling. I’ll try for 7 again maybe later in September if my body feels up to it. Also, language learning is on the back-burner a bit, though I still do Duolingo almost daily.

Thanks for reading! Stay safe and healthy!