Slowly Sipping Coffee

March 2017 Spending: Our Money Went Where?

March was a pretty good month. The “year of spending” seems to continue as we had another month and another round of big ticket items show up. Specifically, the fence got replaced, well on 3 sides of the yard anyway. Our other neighbor didn’t feel like replacing the side we share, so that’s fine with us. On the upside, we also got about 30’ of fence replaced that no one paid for. Not us or our backyard neighbors. At $22/ft. that saved us about $330 (that’s going halvesies with the back neighbor). We dumped my bonus into the kids 529’s so they got a nice boost, but beyond that, there wasn’t a lot of craziness in our spending.

A quick look at our FI target shows that we’re still at 84% of our goal, down ~0.5% from last month. That’s all market driven as we’re still contributing the same and just watching and waiting. Some fun stuff that happened last month was our first trip out to look for property for the Lifestyle Change. For more details on that plus where the rest of our spending went last month read on.

Vacuums Suck: Especially When They Don’t

Beyond replacing the fence, we also had our vacuum die. It was an 8 year old Dyson vacuum that we got to deal with the pet hair. The vacuum itself still works, but the motor that spins the brushes died. At that point, our little stick vac was doing a better job even though the Dyson “never lost suction”. It seems this is a common issue, and looking at replacing that motor versus getting a new “non-Dyson” was almost a wash, so we just got a new vacuum. Not a huge cost, but not trivial either.

Knowledge is Power!

We also stocked up on books for the kids to work on reading as well as a bunch of ‘homework’ type books for the kids to work on over the summer. Our youngest likes to “do homework” and complains when she doesn’t get to do any because “monkey see, monkey do” when it comes to copying her older brother. He has done a lot better with his reading and writing since he’s been working with his tutor. We’re hoping keeping him active with writing, reading, and math over the summer won’t let that atrophy too much in his brain.

Feeding turtles at a winery we stopped at.

Feeding turtles at a winery we stopped at.

Pets Can Be Spendy

The pet spending is still a bit high as we’re trying to figure out a good food for our new greyhound. Her stomach doesn’t like the food we’ve been feeding Lola, so we are trying new things there. It hasn’t been easy figuring that one out but hopefully we get it dialed in soon. I think we will just use 2 separate dog foods, since both dogs tend to do better with different brands. Not the most convenient, but meh, pets have their downsides sometimes too.

It's hard not to love these ladies!

It’s hard not to love these ladies!

FFLC Kickoff!

Finally, a recap of our trip to look at property and how that affected our spending. The little things that popped up were gas, from diving out to Hill Country and driving all over the area we were interested in. Groceries and eating out crept up a little even though it was only a 2 day trip. Nothing crazy, but more than if we’d stayed home. Pet sitting money was another spend that was directly trip related. It’s only $30 but we would’ve spent $30 less staying home.

Not so much of a lake or Hill Country view

Not so much of a lake or Hill Country view

We were looking at a lot next to a State park, right on a lake, and while we liked the lake, and the feel of the neighborhood, the rest of the area didn’t pan out well for us. Even the neighborhood felt a little tight in regards to home spacing. We think this was because the only fence you could install was a wrought iron style fence that is see through, which gave no a sense of privacy. The main nearby town had a crazy go-go-go feel to it, probably driven by the highway setup. It was a 6 lane highway with a 75 mph speed limit that had one way only frontage roads. These were filled with shopping malls, strip malls, car dealerships, and more, but nothing like the rural quiet community feeling we were wanting. It was a fun trip though and we found a couple of cool parks for the kids to play at.

Great view, but no lake access...

Great view, but no lake access…

We looked at a lot more lots around that area, but then realized the other thing that was missing in this area – Hill Country views. Because this area was on top of a ridge, you don’t see any other topography changes when you look out and around the horizon. It didn’t have much of a hilly feel to it. Unlike Canyon lake, where we were driving around this weekend, you get great hills and great views from anywhere around there. So while we didn’t find any lots we liked in March, We found a lot of things about what we do and more importantly what we don’t want in our lot.

That’s it for our March update. Hopefully your spending stayed low and your happiness stayed high.

27 thoughts on “March 2017 Spending: Our Money Went Where?

  1. Brian

    Great photos!

    You can’t go to long without a good vacuum when you have kids and pets. A necessary evil. Thank goodness for bag-less vacuums these days.

    Great lake views, but agree, it would be perfect if you had a bit more going on on the horizon. Good to find things you don’t like and mark them off the list.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yeah, hooray for bagless vacuums! I still remember tugging around the 30 lb atrocity I grew up with, eesh…

      It’s definitely been more eye opening on finding things we do and don’t like, surprising some of the stuff that comes up in the don’t likes. For instance, great view, but no water access. We’d rather have a yard and space than a great lake view. We definitely want more of a rural feel than any suburban/city sort of feel. We’d rather have seclusion over a great lake view as well. Interesting stuff…

  2. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    RIP, Dyson vacuum! I got my Dyson at a Black Friday sale a few years ago and it’s been awesome. At least you got some good life out of it, but I thought those suckers (eh eh?) lasted longer than that!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Haha, nice one! Yeah I would’ve expected that they lasted longer than that too. That one didn’t even get used in a full carpet house. our last house and this one we have tile down across 90% of the main floor so except for bedrooms there wasn’t a lot of carpet to wear that brush out. It was kind of annoying that it was even in a “light work” scenario and didn’t last very long. The vacuum I used growing up we ahd and it ran for over 12 years and it wasn’t a super expensive brand name vacuum.

      Oh well…

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yet – is the key word, we hadn’t found it yet. :) You’re in a tough spot in being able to “test drive” communities that you may like or really not like. That last place we went too looked great from google maps and city-data.com research, but it didn’t feel great. Too busy, too rushed. I mean who wants to deal with a speed limit of 75 mph while getting around town? No thanks! 😀

      Good luck with your search!

  3. Elephant Eater

    “Vacuums suck, especially when they don’t” Ha, Ha! Like that, but maybe I’m just simple.

    We had one of those years last year where it seemed like every month our spending was up more than the one before. I think a lot of people think about high market valuations and low interest rates when looking at 4% research and assessing risk, but our experience last year showed us that it is equally likely and potentially more stressful when spending needs change. I think the 4% rule and rule of 25 is a good starting point for planning, but the constant spending assumptions are not at all realistic for early retirees. Especially with the unpredictability that comes with kids and long time frames where interests and needs change. This is why I think you’re positioned well with the flexibility of your FFLC and we have adopted the concept as well in our planning.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Haha, thanks! That just popped in my head when I was trying to think of header titles, lol. It’s up there with typical dad jokes. :)

      I agree that the 4% rule and/or 25x is a good starting point but there are so many contingencies that could come up and throw it off. You could ahve high spend years followed by market crashing and low returns and yeah averaged out over 25 years, you may still “win” but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be some “years of suck” mixed in there.

      That’s the biggest thing I’m learning from tracking spending and reading other blogs and financial articles, is that unless you really, really over save, be prepared for some “years of suck” sprinkled in along the way. Maybe we’ll have some side income coming in so it won’t make them as bad as they could have been, but flexibility and knowing it’s not all roses and champagne I think is key.

  4. Freedom 40 Plan

    Good luck with the Dog food. My parents moved to homemade. Basically cooked chicken and rice with peas and carrots. Works well for their picky dog with tummy issues.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yep, that’s our current strategy and what we’ve done to get her tummy back to normal. Then we tried the other dog food brand and umm… yeah, we’re back to rice and peas and carrots and ground turkey. Ugh, dogs… It’s a good thing she’s so adorable, lol.

      Actually, except for the time involved, I bet the homemade dog food is even cheaper in the long run. Especially since greyhounds are corn intolerant (thanks to years of cross breeding) and those foods can get spendy quickly.

  5. Mrs. BITA

    Sorry to hear about your dog’s tummy issues. We’re going to incur some pet expenses in April and possibly also in May. April is our annual check up and vaccines month. We discovered that our husky has an infected tooth. We don’t yet know if it will need extraction, but if it does that is going to be a whopper.

    Glad to hear your son is doing well with the tutor. Overall, sounds like a happy March!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Ooohhh, sorry to hear about the tooth. That funky one that we found that led to a cleaning for Lola ended up just being some stain that looked like it was cracked and infected. eeewww, and hooray at the same time, so she got to keep it, it just got cleaned really well. :)

      Yep, overall, March was pretty good. Last night he was able to do 5 pages of homework with minimal help from me – especially math, he’s really picked up on the math quicker than the reading – but he was able to read most of it and sound out what he didn’t know, and there wasn’t one crying/meltdown episode during the whole thing. I was super impressed. Win!!

  6. Mr. Need2save

    After our Oreck vacuum ran into some electrical issues, we decided to try a Shark vacuum that was on sale at Target. Most people rated it highly, but we think it sucked. So we decided to get the Oreck fixed and we are back in business.

    I hear you on the pet expenses. Our labradoodle needs a good grooming a few times per year and it’s around $100 with tip. That said, the groomer does a fantastic job with him and we are happy to support a local family owned business.

    I sure wish our sons (age 17 and 18) still liked to do homework :-)

    1. Mr. SSC

      I forget what we ended up with but it wasn’t a Shark. Something similar ins tyle that got good ratings and we found it on sale so we thought, ehh, what the hell, let’s try it. Fingers crossed it lasts longer than the Dyson, and so far it has worked great but it’s only been a month or so.

      I was thinking about it last night and we’ve spent over $1k on pet expenses this last quarter. I think well over $1k, but between Quinn getting sick/old age catching up, and getting her in the vet every couple of weeks her last month or 2 she was around, and then Lola’s teeth cleaning, and Zoe’s adoption and then stomach issues… Man, the charges add up pretty quickly.

      Our oldest doesn’t like it and I keep telling him, “Buddy, you’ve got another 12 years of homework, so don’t start getting so upset with it right now. Give it a while…” lol I’m sure when our daughter gets homework “for real” she won’t be nearly as happy to do it. :)

  7. Ms. Montana

    We have dry erase homework books for our 4 and 5 year old. They are awesome! Have had them since our 9 year old was about 3! We need to pick up packs of dry erase markers from the dollar store occasionally. :)

    1. Mr. SSC

      Oh, dry erase homework books! That’s pretty genius, except for whoever makes them because like you found out you just need one set that can last years, lol.

  8. Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover

    Hoo yeaa! So cool to read you’re already on the lot search! I guess it’s a a great feeling going with the family looking for the “promised land”
    Great pictures by the way keep us in the loop!
    Cheers. Erik

    1. Mr. SSC

      Looking at lots for this next stage of life has definitely almost immediately changed my mindset on a LOT of things. It’s been pretty amazing actually. The Lot search has brought about a lot of interesting discussions and feelings for the both of us. Probably enough for a whole post about it, but yeah, it is definitely exciting!

      The next round of pictures I didn’t do as good of a job documenting, and they’re a lot of trees, so I’ll have to get creative when I post them. It will be like, “Look, more heavily wooded areas! I promise there’s a great backyard hidden in there waiting to get some of the cedar and underbrush cleared out! :)

  9. Mrs. COD

    I hope you find a wonderful lot for the next home soon! Kind of disappointing so far, I bet, but at least you have a better idea of what you really want!

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks! We actually are under contract on one. Eeep!!

      We did figure out what was important and what wasn’t as important, so that worked out well taking the earlier trip.

  10. The One In Debt

    I’ve had my Hoover windtunnel pet vac for 4-5 years now… Love it. I bought it on sale at Kohls with a coupon. I saved like $40-$50 on it. worth it!

    Well least you had fun searching for property. all part of the journey.
    btw – pet sitting at $30 sounds like a great deal.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah, our pet sitter is a great deal, and that is for 2 dogs and 3 visits a day. So it was more than $30 since we had her come Friday twice, saturday 3x and Sunday once but still…

      We got some sort of Bissell – probably a pet version to deal with hair – although except for the Spring time, Greyhounds don’t shed like our last border collie like mutt did. Oh Quinn, I don’t miss your hair tumbleweeds, lol.

  11. Troy @ Market History

    My spending in March went way over budget, and April isn’t shaping up to be any better. I left my phone in my bag by the shore, and whilst I was out in the water I didn’t realize that it went from lowtide to hightide. Needless to say, my bag got flooded and phone got destroyed.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Oh man, that sucks about the phone. I left mine in our pool bag and didn’t realize it for a day or so and then fished it out of a wet bottomed bag. Fortunately it dried out and went back to working once it was charged again, whew….

      We’ve had something hit almost every month this year it seems like. Good luck with may when it gets here. :)

  12. Fruclassity (Ruth)

    So cute that your daughter wants to do homework like her brother : ) Let’s hope that lasts. It’s exciting that you’re actually looking for properties now. You’re smart to do it early. No rush – no stress. You’ll get exactly what you want when you want it.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Yeah it has been prety low stress looking for lots now. We actually found one last trip and went under contract on it this past weekend. Almost 3 acres, ehavily treed with oaks and pretty well secluded from potential neighbors, all while still being in a neighborhood that has decent lake access, hiking/walking trails, and a pool. There’s also a fishing pond, but I think that’s for grandparents that don’t want to take the grandkids out on the lake, lol. It will be a good place to tech the kids how to fly fish when they get a bit older though. Probably would be fun fly fishing for bass in it, but then there’s a big lake with lots of other fish in it right next door…

      I hope our daughter’s drive for homework keeps up too. The struggle is already real to get our oldest to do homework.

  13. ZJ Thorne

    I really want a dog when my lifestyle and finances allow, but I always forget about the need for a stronger vacuum and more cleaning to be presentable. My March was good, I got to see my girlfriend’s new home and city. I got the feeling I would love it there, which is excellent since we may have me move.