The past 6 months have been crazy for our family, which is the primary reason I skipped over a quarter 1 financial update. Overall we have been very fortunate the first half of 2015, but we also experienced a few set backs as well.
Situations Affecting Our Financial Update:
1) Very good Spring Season: I worked non-stop from December through April. Typically I don’t have work in December and January. This kept us from going backwards during the winter. My fall season starts at the beginning of September and looks like it will last into December. I should have the ability to repeat my winter buildings and grounds role at D.C. Cook and effectively stay busy September 2015 through April of 2016.
2) Purchase of 4.5 Adjacent acres: This is the old railroad bed behind our house. I paid $3,500 for this, which was a big hit to our cash reserves. I truly believe that this purchase easily increased the value of our property by over $10,000 (the taxman has it assessed at $15,600). In additional to the bulk land, we also gained over 120 feet of access to the small creek right behind our house. Originally we only had about 10 feet. As an added bonus, I just found out last night that the plat map I have is wrong and the property actually extends about 250′ further North than I originally thought. This gives us access to the bigger creek the one behind our house flows into. With 130′ feet of frontage on the big creek and 130 feet on our little creek this purchase gives us a total of over 260′ of creek frontage, way better than the 10′ we originally had!
3) Custody of our nephews: Mrs. C.’s little sister passed away in January of 2014 very unexpectedly. She had two young children who since her passing had lived with their father. He has been having a lot of struggles getting himself established in life, so for now Mrs. C. and I have taken in the two little dudes.
4) Dental Bills: So far we have spent $1,500 at the Dentist this year. I had two wisdom teeth pulled and Mrs. C needed a crown. In the next couple months Mrs. C. has some more work which will total around $2,000. We plan on paying for this out of our HSA. We were able to save over $200 on dental expenses thanks to getting a dental discount card.
5)Investments in Myself: I took the OSHA 30 exam and the CAPM exam this year. Combined I spent roughly $500 on these tests. In the near future both of these exams will easily earn me more money with my employers.
6) Payments from ex-renter: Our former renter started paying us for the damages on the house during his tenure that he could not afford when he moved. He is paying us $200 a month until our agreed upon total is paid off. This was completely unexpected so it is nice to be able to recoup some of that money that we had already written off.
7) Increases in Home Equity: Mrs. C’s mom moved into our rental house and is covering the payment. The house is currently cash flow neutral, but is building equity. It is also far cheaper than she could rent anywhere else, so it is a win win for both of us. The house is on a 10 year mortgage so it is quickly being paid off.
8) Health Insurance: After getting custody of our nephews we took another look at health insurance options. Due to the complexity of our situation using the online form at Healthcare.gov did not work for us. Mrs. C. has spent upwards of 30 hours on the phone with Healthcare.gov and subsequently Michigan DHS and MiChild. It looks like the dust is finally settling and ultimately our health care insurance will drop from the $315 we were paying to $120 per month. Saving $200 a month is a pretty big deal!
9) Vehicle Repairs: Our 2004 Odyssey which now has over 150,000 miles on it needed the timing belt replaced. In addition to the timing belt we also needed to adjust the valves. Overall the total came to just over a grand. Hopefully it will keep the van rolling for another 150,000 miles.
Where We Stand:
Tracking: We are working on using Personal Capital to track our finances, vs. the spreadsheets I have been using for years. The summer months are usually flat for us in terms of wealth growth, so our Personal Capital Net Worth chart is rather boring, by the quarter 3 financial update it should start looking interesting again. The great thing about Personal Capital for us is that it combines all three of out bank accounts together, making it much easier to track our expenses. Instead of having to log into 3 accounts I can see everything together; at the welcome screen I get this view of my income and expenses immediately.
We have broken 1 year of assets in retirement savings! only 24 more to go! Two years ago, right before I started on this focused journey towards financial independence we had less than 2 months of expenses in retirement savings. Our savings rate and total dollar amount of savings are both increasing and should continue to do so for the next few years.
Emergency Fund: Our emergency fund remains fully funded at the beginning of July! We had a $400 appliance repair bill two weeks ago, but were able to cash flow it without touching our emergency fund.
House Pay Off: We are still throwing an extra $200 per month on our house and at the end of the year will be able to put a large lump sum on it, Hopefully somewhere between 5% and 10% of the outstanding balance. The house being paid off early is a big part of our plan to be financially independent by age 45. We still owe 71% of the original purchase price on the home. With the additional acreage purchase, upgrades we have done to the home, and the great deal we got on the purchase price our total equity position on the house is right around 43%.
Action Economics Blog:
Action Economics is now 22 months old, rapidly approaching it’s second birthday! I currently have over 150 articles containing over 140,000 words published on this site. Organic visits has stayed consistent at around 900 visits per month. Total visits per month has been around 2,000, with the exception of June when The Penny Hoarder shared one of my articles on Facebook. This resulted in over 3,000 additional visits. J$ at Budgets Are Sexy hosted a guest post for me in January on my side hustle of pumping septic tanks and Justin at Root of Good hosted a guest post from me on my Semi Retired Summer at the beginning of July.
Having 4 kids makes blogging very difficult. I have time to work on it, but with the chaos in this house being able to actually concentrate for longer than 5 minutes is rare. I am publishing around 6 articles a month, which is less than what I would like, but about all I can write with quality for now. Perhaps when I am on the road this fall I will be able to ramp up to two articles a week again.
How have the last 6 months been for you? What are you doing to stay on task to reach your goals?