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May 2017: Our Money Went Where?!

May. The end of spring and kickoff of summer and what a month it has been. We had some bumps in the road with our spending, and there is room for improvement, but in general it wasn’t bad. We were able to close on our lot in Canyon Lake, so we now have an official place to kick off Phase 1 of our Lifestyle Change. We reviewed our budget situation and decided that we can make the house work if we build it sooner than later, so we met with a custom home builder and designer this month and are on track to start designing our house probably by the end of the week. We found a couple of plans that we like ~90% of the layout, and we have a powerpoint presentation (because who doesn’t use powerpoint for everything?) with notes and details for the other things relating to homebuilding beyond the layout. I think it will come together pretty easily as we seem to be on the same page for almost every design aspect we’ve come across so far. Getting back to our spending, here’s where our money went this past month.

The Good

This is the last month of paying for daycare and after school care as the kids wrapped up their year at the end of May. They’ll be home with Mrs. SSC all summer, so that will be exciting, and scary.  End of the school year means gifts for their teachers, so between that and the kids’ birthday presents, we still managed to keep it all under $200. Woohoo for the small wins. Otherwise, it was a 5 Monday month so daycare was a shade higher than normal.

House upkeep was low this month, see not every month needs a big house expense. Don’t worry, it gets made up for in June, but that’s a story for next month. Car registration rolled around for Mrs. SSC, so that was another expected, low bill.

Almost no vet bills this month, as the hookworm issue finally got resolved. That means we’ve been able to switch Zoe back onto Lola’s food and hooray, they’re both eating the same food again, Zoe’s put on some weight, and things are mostly good in that realm. We did buy a thunder shirt for Zoe because we found out she is a thunderphobe. Yep, she goes bonkers during thunderstorms and we thought the shirt might help. It hasn’t cured her, but it does seem to help some because she’s calmed down by about half since we got the shirt.

Everyone loves pie, right?

Everyone loves pie, right?

The Bad

Man did there seem to be a lot of bad. Not bad, just higher than usual in some categories. Family fun was up to $252 this month with ~$100 of that coming from Astro’s tickets over Memorial Day weekend. I forgot I could have saved $20 by getting tickets through my company discount. D’oh!

Shopping was up with purchases for the dog, summer, and the upcoming travel that we have planned. Speaking of travel, we paid for the rental car for our MT/ID vacation next month and that was ~$700.

The Ugly

Our grocery bill was close to $700 this month, I think related to me doing a couple of grocery runs and having the in-laws in town for Mrs. SSC’s dad’s 70th birthday celebration. Well, we had a nice dinner and hung out, no real big party or anything. We’ll have to keep an eye on it and adjust accordingly in future projections if we keep missing our $500/month target.

We also spent ~$55k on our Canyon Lake lot, which I don’t count as “ugly” per se, but it was a huge chunk of change to spend. I should get used to that though because if want to have our house built by next summer, there will be lots of these over the next year.

Can you find the deer?

Can you find the deer?

The view from our new lake access!

The view from our new lake access!

From the shoreline

From the shore, mostly.

Our total monthly spending was just shy of $8k, not including the lot purchase or 529 contributions. Not bad, but it could be better.

Fully Funded Lifestyle Change (FFLC) Spending Estimates

Now that we know where we’ll be kicking off our FFLC, it is a LOT easier to estimate things that can vary state to state like property tax, cost of living, healthcare (hahaha I know, no one can estimate that), and other things. Our biggest expenses will be property tax (~$5500/yr), groceries (~$6700/yr), and then allowance (~$4800/yr), which we’ve already cut in half. Canyon Lake has a cost of living index of 82 which is pretty darn good. If we are estimating $40k/yr + travel and have $50k/yr total living then we are looking at a withdrawal rate of ~3%.

That is assuming ZERO side income in that scenario. Like I keep reminding myself, if we can even find enough side income to cover property tax, that’s 10% of our yearly budget. So we’d need a side gig that makes ~$6k/yr or $500/month. I’m fairly confident Mrs. SSC and I can find something that fits that, along with flexibility so it fits our Lifestyle. If you really break it down, that’s just $250/mo we’d each have to come up with to create a 10% financial plan buffer. Pretty crazy when you think about it like that.

That’s our month, hopefully yours went well and you didn’t find yourself covering any unexpected expenses.

26 thoughts on “May 2017: Our Money Went Where?!

  1. Mrs. Picky Pincher

    Congrats on closing on your lot! Now the real fun begins. 🙂 We’re also considering buying a lot (in several years, mind you), so I’ll be interested to see how your homebuilding experience goes. Sorry it was a spendy month, but I’m sure you’ll do wonderfully in June. 🙂

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks! I’m sure there will be blog posts galore about the process, hiccups, and expenses associated with homebuilding. Yep, there’s 7 more months to work on keeping things reined in. 🙂

  2. Mrs. COD

    Ohh, those lake views! How wonderful! We’ve had an expensive past month or so, considering we bought our new house and there are a lot of expenses associated with that! Now on to figuring out our internet and other services, which will unfortunately be higher as we’re a bit rural now. We’re definitely enjoying more space and more nature already, though!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Oh yeah, new homes have all sorts of hidden vampire costs that pop up. 🙂 That’s great that you’re already getting to enjoy being in your new place. It looked awesome!

  3. Tawcan

    Wow the lake views are awesome. We managed to get our expenses down in May. Having some unexpected expenses in beginning of the year has bumped up our 2017 averages so far. Need to focus on lowering expenses for the rest of the year.

    1. Mr. SSC

      At the beginning of the year Mrs. SSC joked it was going to be “the year of spending” between the dog issues and other house issues that came up. Hopefully, it was just “the first half of the year of spending” and it doesn’t continue into the second half.

      I should suggest doing a spending challenge for the next few months. We used to do those often just to work on hitting spending targets and making that the norm again. Thanks for the reminder!

  4. Freedom 40 Plan

    Wow – that childcare piece of the pie is a big one! I’m starting to tune in to that expense as we’re expecting in Sept. In the DC area we’re looking at about $2200 a month to put the kid in childcare! Blech!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Yes it is… When both of them were full time daycare/preschool it was at or just above our mortgage each month, but that was still only ~$2k per month for 2 kids. If we had to pay that per kid, it would have been a huge budget hit. Be aware that at least our day care didn’t offer any discounts for the second kid when they got enrolled. I mean maybe $50/mo but not much when it’s close to $1k/ month.

      Good luck with that expense, we’re down to one more year, but at least we got the summer off. 🙂

  5. Mrs. BITA

    Congratulations on the end of daycare, that is big! The end of the hookworm issue is a close second though – so many wins for you this month. I’m excited to see how the home building shapes up – that lot looks simply gorgeous. Poor Zoe and the thunder – it is so pitiful to watch a dog who is scared of a storm, you feel so powerless to make them feel better.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks! It’s at least the end of daycare until August when our youngest goes back, but it’s her last year. Eeeee!!!! lol It’s funny to get so excited over actually losing that bill for good. There have been a lot of wins this month, and it has been a nice feeling.

      Our lot view is only trees, but the neighborhood lake access has amazing lake views. 🙂 We might get a little lake view from the 2nd story, but I doubt it.

      It has been tough dealing with Zoe and her thunder issues. Maybe she was too ill from the hookworms the first few months we’ve had her to get upset because she didn’t used to do this, it has just recently popped up as an issue this past month, but holy hell does she not like them. She hops around whines, barks, causes all kinds of chaos. The thunder shirt calmed her down by about half, so fingers crossed she goes back to not caring about them sooner than later. I used to enjoy thunderstorms…

  6. Brian

    Congrats on the lot closing, house plans, and end of daycare bill! I need to look into the thunder shirt, our Mushu is having a hard time with thunder and fireworks. I hate seeing him react like this. What’s the timing on the house build?

    1. Mr. SSC

      We’re hoping to get it done to use for next summer. That may be a bit ambitious, but we’ll see. We meet the builder this friday for a “under construction tour” of a couple of homes they’re currently building and then most likely will sign a contract for designing the house with them if not on Friday, then on Monday.

      After that, it will depend on how quickly we get the design done and start working to break ground. We’re hoping to have it done by next summer though, preferably the beginning. 🙂

      Good luck with Mushu’s storm issues. They’re tough to deal with.

  7. Erik @ Hippies de Land Rover

    Wow! great views. After all, you got the lake view from the Lot!
    Great pictures and I guess itàs a great place to live on FFLC 🙂

    Let us know more details on the home building/planning process and how that is shaping up.
    We’re very happy for you guys, you’re one step ahead!

    BTW, I missed how big is the Lot size?


    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks, but the views from our lot are just trees. Maybe we’ll get a little view from the second story, but most likely, it is more of a forest feel on our lot. The lot size is 2.46 acres and a decent layout, not just long and skinny, but nice room on each side to avoid being close to neighbors. 🙂

      I’m sure there will be plenty of posts about homebuilding. At least until I see readers drop off and comments like, “we’re tired of your home building posts…” lol

  8. Amber tree

    Congratulations on the lot…

    We found out we missed 30 EUR discount on the zoo season pass… Too bad.
    So, we already went twice. That leaves us with 51 weeks to make one more visit for break even.

    1. Mr. SSC

      Our zoo season pass is similar. It pays out after just 3 visits so for us, it’s already more than paid out this year. It’s so close and easy to do in the mornings.

      I’m sure you’ll get the break even on yours this year too. good luck!

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks for the suggestion on the DAP infuser. she has gotten a little better, and I hope eventually it goes away, because I didn’t remember this the first few months we had her, but maybe she was feeling too ill to care about thunder? Who knows. She’s been a handful though, that’s for sure.

  9. Fruclassity (Ruth)

    Those are beautiful photos. (And I’m pretty sure I can see the deer – like a leafy silhouette.) It’s good you’re so transparent about all aspects of your spending month. At first I thought, “Don’t be so tough on yourself about the groceries,” but then I thought you were just being realistic. $700 on a regular basis would be a problem if you’ve budgeted for $500. I think 2 things will happen to help make your FFLC work: 1. You will get a side-income. 2. You will have the time that you don’t have now to hunt down bargains, sales, etc. so that you will spend less than you might think. Here’s to June : )

    1. Mr. SSC

      Thanks! I’d been out on the lot for about 1.5 hrs measuring walking around, sketching out tree canopy locations and measurements and turned around and I was 15′ from that deer. She didn’t seem to mind, and just looked at me like, “You want something? I’m eating over here…” When I took some pictures she wandered away a little bit, but just another 10′ or so. I think I’ll definitely need a high fence and good buffer around the fence on the garden plots. I’ve already seen deer, rabbits and even a road runner out here, so it will be interesting from a gardening standpoint.

      Exactly, it’s not bad, except Mrs. SSC seems stuck on the $500/mo grocery budget, and I have seen that it seems more rare that we make that cutoff. Even in our yearly estimations I bumped it up to ~$560 because like you pointed out, we’ll probably have time to shop better and pay attention to it more, but just in case I raised it a little to account for those not so great months. I think a little buffer seems reasonable. I think it may just have to get bumped up and we can surprise ourselves when we actually start hitting that number. 🙂

      1. Fruclassity (Ruth)

        A road runner? I’ve only seen one on Looney Tunes. I don’t even know what a real one looks like. Moving the groceries up to $560 seems like a good idea – in part because it sets you up for success.

  10. Tim Kim @ Tub of Cash

    Thank you for sharing! I think you hit the nail on the head regarding finding some work to cover the 10%. I think people forget that it doesn’t always have to be all-or-nothing. Humans are pretty adept. And to try to get to 100%, is a huge loss in opportunity cost (in the other direction – time), and there’s diminishing returns as well between the amount you can save per year vs. the growth you get on average per year, from your portfolio. Every additional year of work will contribute less and less to the overall pie.

  11. Mrs. Groovy

    Congratulations on the lot purchase. Beautiful views! And a good price for two and a half acres. We’re not having much success finding out property but we have a few listings to look at next week when we visit Mr. Groovy’s family.

    What rental car company did you go for with MT/ID?

    We were informed by our neighbor who is selling his house that an inspector found structural damage — and it looks like ours has it too. He was quoted $7,500 to fix it. We don’t think our fix will be as costly, but we have time on our side. Our neighbor can’t list his home until the damage is fixed, otherwise he needs to disclose the problem.

  12. M&M

    Great post and great town to build. I’m less than an hour south of you in San Antonio and we love Canyon Lake.
    Came to your blog after hearing your interview on Choose FI–nice job btw.
    Any ideas on how to hack property taxes? We pay nearly 10k/year– that’s a huge chunk of a post FI annual budget. I’m not at FI yet but I spend a lot of time thinking about how to optimize property taxes. Haven’t found much yet. Of course we could move, but taxes are still pretty close to 3% of home value.
    Also, will you do your own decorating or do you have any budget decorators lined up you can share?
    Lastly, don’t know of any FI folks in my neck of the woods. Aside from the annual or semi annual camps, do you know of any meet ups that are local to south Texas? Would be good to connect w locals who have similar goals.

    1. Mr SSC Post author

      Thanks that was my first interview and podcast, so I’m glad it turned out alright. Not too sure on how to hack property taxes but out there it seems like they stay fairly stable and don’t just go up 10% each year period. That’s kind of a concern with us since a lot of the houses around us are on more expensive lots and are ‘yuge! We’ll just protest each year and cite the fact we can’t build on about 1/4 of our lot due to drainage easements for a dry creek bed, lol.

      We haven’t gotten to the decorating stage yet, but will most likely do our own decorating. I do have a choosing a builder type of house post coming up soon, but we’re trying to keep it fairly budgeted, which for that area seems to be in the $130-$140/sq ft range… Crazy…

      Mrs. Picky Pinchers is another PF blogger in San Antonio, you could check out her site and contact her about other locals. I don’t know of any around San Antonio besides her, but there seem to be a few in Houston. Maybe you guys could get momentum on a PF/FI meetup locally and see who shows up. I’ve heard that can have good results from the bloggers I’ve read that try it. Let me know if you get a group going. We hope to be out there sooner than later, but it still may be another 2 years. Sigh…

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