It’s December already! Thanksgiving has come and gone. It’s crazy how time flies. I hope it was a good one for all of you. We’re not turkey folk, so we did Asian hotpot instead, which translates to less time cooking and more time eating!

All our financials were down for November. Oh my goodness! Omicron! There’s more to worry about on the pandemic side, which seem to be rattling the financial markets these days.  Our numbers dropped as I was putting together November’s summaries.  Also, Mr. FD and I revisited our taxes, and we realized we’ve been underpaying. So, this month, we’re looking at negative “income”. 

In any case, here’s our monthly financial update for November.

Monthly Spending and Income

November 2021 Spending

Primary Residence – Property Tax+Assoc. Fees $290
Rental – Property Tax+Assoc. Fees $1,961
Internet $40
Cell Phone $70
Gas + Electric $27
Water/Sewer $0
Food (Groceries/Household) $1,231
Food (Eating Out) $472
Transportation [Gas, Oil Change] $82
Car Insurance $0
Life/Home/Umbrella Insurance $385
Health/Dental Insurance $127
Misc/Buffer [Dentist, HBOMax/Hulu/Netflix, Gifts, Books, Clothes, Masks] $751
Total Monthly Spending $5,411

Our grocery expenses are higher than average and our eating out expenses are a little lower. Counting this month, our new average monthly grocery/household spending for 2021 is $1,082. Our eating-out totals average about $436 per month for 2021. Though I wish these were lower, it is what it is.

Our health insurance premium was low this month, thanks to overpaying a few months ago. Next month, it should be back up to normal again.

We paid property tax on our rental this month. We also paid our umbrella insurance policy premium. We actually didn’t pay anything additional for our personal cell phones, but we purchased an emergency phone for the kids with a Tracfone promotion (1500 minutes/texts + 1.5G data). Hopefully, that $70 will last us a year. The kiddos have been learning about 9-1-1 in school, and we figured it was time for them to have a phone to use in case of emergency.

Our miscellaneous spending is huge this month. We bought more masks, clothes, and books for the kids. There’s a birthday party coming up, so we also purchased some gifts for that. We paid for 3 media subscription services this month – Hulu, Netflix, and HBOMax. The kids use Netflix the most, and I took advantage of the $0.99/month Hulu promotion. The HBOMax was for Mr. FD to see the movie Dune. We liked it, and we didn’t want to see it in theaters due to the pandemic. The main expense in the miscellaneous section is a dental fee. We’ve learned this month that our dental coverage isn’t that great. We pay about $30 per month for the insurance alone, which is covered in the insurance section of our spending, but cleanings, x-rays, and routine check-ups end up costing us somewhere around $400 total for both of them for one visit. We’re shopping around now, so maybe we can do better next year. We’ll see.

November 2021 InCOME

Rent $1,400
Credit Card Rewards $200
Child Tax Credit (Federal) $500
Hobby Site $414
Mr. FD Freelance -$4,400
Total Monthly Income -$1,886

Mr. FD’s freelance income is negative this month. We started going through 2020 tax forms and trying to estimate our taxes (income + self-employment) more carefully. In the past, I thought we had overpaid. In reality, we’ve probably been underpaying. It’s our first year navigating self-employment. I don’t think we’ll know whether or not we’ve done it right until we actually file our taxes. Also, the fact that Mr. FD has been self-employed for only part of the year complicates things. Next year, once we know better, I’ll try to write a post on where we got things right and where we were wrong. In any case, that’s why our normally positive income is very negative this month. 

Rent came in as expected. The hobby site brought in a decent amount. We cashed out some credit card reward points. And, we had another month of Advance Child Tax Credits.


Solo 401k Contributions

Mr. FD contributed to his Solo 401k. This month is higher because we’ve been a little conservative in our contributions compared to what we’re actually allowed to contribute.

By subtracting our expenses from our income and retirement contributions, we had our first negative savings month of 2021. That’s definitely worth noting.

November Savings: –$1,886 –  $5,411 + $6000 = -$1,298 in total

Spending and Savings Summary for the year

Here’s a table 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
September 2021 -$6,837 $8,896
October 2021 -$6,056 $7,402
November 2021 -$5,411 -$1,298
TOTAL -$50,499 $70,740

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 changes are heavily dependent on the stock market. I’m also including our total FIRE assets, which are invested and expected to grow in our retirement.

Our net worth went down by about $13k this month, and our FIRE assets went down about the same. This is mainly from the markets falling recently. Year-to-date, our net worth is up roughly $325k.  For us, that’s more than 5.5 years worth of expenses. It’s not as rosy as last month, but I’ll still take it gladly. Our net worth dipped below 2.5 M, but I’m hopeful we’ll cross it again some day. 

  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
September 2021 $2.44 M $1.83 M
October 2021 $2.50 M $1.89 M
November 2021 $2.49 M $1.88 M

FIRE Failure Indicators

Here’s our sanity check for the month.  

  1. Is our spending on track? So far this year, we’ve spent about $50,499. If we do a simple projection on this to the end of the year (divide by 11, multiple by 12), it looks like we’ll spend about $55k in total. Given the higher health insurance premiums we’re paying due to Mr. FD’s income, that’s acceptable for us. In retirement, we would have likely spent less than $55k, with lower insurance premiums. We still have one more month to go for the entire spending picture for 2021. The holidays usually encourage us to spend more. I’ll be interested to see how we look at the end of December.
  2. Is our withdrawal rate okay? If Mr. FD were to stop working today, we’d have a withdrawal rate close to 3%. That’s right around where we want to be. Below is a table of withdrawal rates and equivalent withdrawal amounts given our current FIRE assets. We want to keep our spending at or below 3%, so we should be fine if and when Mr. FD decides to stop freelance work.

    Withdrawal Rate Withdrawal Amount
    4.00% $75,200
    3.75% $70,500
    3.50% $65,800
    3.25% $61,100 
    3.00% $56,400
    2.75% $51,700

Happiness Indicators

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

I struggle a bit with this section because it feels so subjective. But, I guess happiness is kind of like that anyway. So, I give myself a 7.5 this month.

My Django project has stalled. That’s okay. The good and bad about retirement is that things can wait.

The pandemic, as always, has been on my mind even more. I’m trying not to feel so anxious about the new Covid-19 variant, especially since we know so little about how the vaccines’ effectiveness will be impacted. However, I wish the Omnicron variant wasn’t even in the picture. On a good note, our little ones will be getting their second doses of the Pfizer vaccine soon. We signed them up for their first doses as soon as we could in November, so they at least have some immunity as of now. Mr. FD and I will soon both be getting our boosters. We’re doing the best we can, given everything. I should feel lucky we have access to the vaccines.

Running. I got sick a little bit in November, so running took a hit as well. I got as high as 6 miles for my long run before getting knocked down again. Also, the weather has been getting colder here in NJ. I’ve actually never run outdoors during the winter. Before the pandemic, I’d always run on a treadmill, especially on snowy days. For now, I’m wearing warmer clothes on my runs, but eventually I’ll probably need to find some indoor alternatives when the ground gets slippery.

If you made it this far, thanks for sticking with me! Stay safe!