Quarter 3 2018 Update

Quarter 3 was a tough quarter for us, both financially and emotionally.  I’m going to try to cover this quarter in chronological order rather than by category.


I’m off work during the summer so I have all day with the kids.  Our summers seem to be jam packed all the time and with 4 kids tend to get over scheduled. We live only a few miles from Lake Michigan and we take the kids down to the beach frequently, as well as to local parks.

We took a trip to Potawotami zoo in July which we have a membership to.  The zoo is currently working through some upgrades and they are now setup so that visitors can feed Bison.

Kid #2 went to summer camp with Mrs. C.  for 4 days in the middle of June with his cub scout troop.

At the end of July there was a terrible fire at a motel that a family we are friends with was living in.  The mother and her 5 children died from smoke inhalation.  Two of her boys were best friends with two of my boys.  We’ve known the mother for well over a decade.  In addition to this horrible tragedy this story made national news resulting in tons of negative judgement on the family.  I wrote a response to this detailing where most people got the story wrong at.  Kiarre was a hard working great mother and her boys were growing up to be excellent young men.  Her husband and baby daughter miraculously survived.  I’m very thankful for Lory’s place, a local grief counseling service that is free to all.  The boys attended after Mrs. C.’s sister passed away 4 and half years ago and two of them are now going back due to this tragedy.


We looked at possibly cancelling the Disney trip, however we went ahead with it and I’m glad we did.  A few weeks before my trip I was talking on the phone with my sister and she had thought that we would be going in late August, which was our original plan, but I moved it up due to my work schedule.  Because of this change her and her daughter were able to fly from California and join us in Disney World.  I will work on a more detailed post of our Disney trip in the near future.

Dog Fence: After Disney I bought 8 large fence sections off of craigslist and had them delivered for $100.  I put the fence up in August, however we have yet to find the right dog for our family, but the new addition is coming soon.

Responsibility and extra work seems to gravitate towards Mrs. C. and in addition to running a lot of the cub scout program, she is also in charge of this years Popcorn sale which kicked off at the end of August.  The sale runs through early November.  There is a ton of coordination and accouting needed to manage the popcorn program, but she is doing a great job.  It looks like the boys are on track to sell over 25% more than last year.



Mrs. C.’s dad bought a house at the start of September.  We spend a few days over there clearing back brush.  The house is a fixer upper that looks to have either not been lived in, or at least not had any exterior work done on it for several years.  The surrounding woods had slowly grown in on it, so there was a lot of tree work to do.

The kids went back to school right after labor day.  Kid 1 is in 9th grade, kid 2 is in 4th grade, kid 3 is in 1st grade, and kid 4 is in Kindergarten.

In Mid September a friend of ours needed to leave a domestic violence situation and we were in a position to help. Mrs. C. drove the 3.5 hours to go get her and her kids and brought them here, adding 4 people to our household.  Mrs. C.’s friend has been doing an excellent job at getting reestablished up here, has a new job and is moving forward.  The house gets a bit more hectic now with a total of 7 kids in it, but honestly once you hit 3 kids total it’s all chaos anyways ;).


I returned to work in September.  Truth be told, I got too comfortable and lazy with planning jobs.  For the past several years I have had a full season of work from one of my employers during the off season of the D.C. Cook Nuclear plant.

For those just tuning in, I work as a maintenance contractor at nuclear plants during refueling outages.  My primary role is at D.C. Cook.  Most nuclear plants have a refueling outage every 18 months and these outages take place in the Spring and the Fall.  Therefore every 18 months I have a season without work at my primary plant which has two units.  During this time I work for a different employer.

Anyways, that employer is having a relatively light workload this season and it caught me off guard. I was able to book a job at the Vogtle plant on short notice.  Overall this season will be OK, but it won’t be moving us ahead as much as I had anticipated, slashing my hopes for a 50% savings rate for the year (we will probably be around 33%, which is still pretty darn good.).

I’m currently working at Palisades nuclear plant which is also local, and I may have a small prep job at D.C. Cook for a couple weeks after Thanksgiving. Uneven cash flows and uncertainty drive me crazy sometimes, but in the grand scheme of things I still end up earning an above average yearly income with half the year off, so I’m good with my current career choice.



Stocks: Overall our portfolio was down substantially this quarter, headed by Tesla.  I love the company, and I love Elon Musk, but my god, will someone install a filter on that guy. The stock had a large drop at the end of the quarter and has since recovered quite a bit.  Tesla is the only individual stock I have a significant allocation in (roughly 15% of total invested assets).  Overall I highly recommend only investing in index funds and any money put in individual stocks should be something you are able to completely lose and not have any plans derailed.

Savings Rate.  Negative for the quarter, drives me crazy, but my focus is already on next year, which is looking like we may be able to hit a 40% savings rate next year.  This year overall it looks like we will end up around 33%, but there are still a lot of unknowns. I only worked a couple weeks this quarter so a negative savings rate should be expected.

I’m still planning to put a large chunk of cash on our primary residence at the end of the year, but smaller than originally hoped.  I’m aiming for $8,000, which will drop our mortgage to $55,000.

Investing in rental real estate:

Mrs. C. and I are taking a hard look at investing in rental real estate in the greater Benton Harbor, MI area.  As it stands now our focus will be on larger homes that we can rent through the Section 8 program.  The first property or two will be purchased with a HELOC, and all rental income will go towards paying these down.  Once we finish paying off our primary mortgage we will continue to pay off these properties in quick order.  Within 5 years we will have no debt and will be buying new rentals at a rate of roughly 1 per year with cash. We have a ton to learn about investing in rental real estate and I will be sure to share what I learn on this blog.  I’m looking forward to diversifying our streams of income and starting to build a semi-passive portfolio.

Replacing my car:

My car is running on a prayer right now.  Mrs. C. got a killer deal on my 2000 Corolla over 4 years ago when she paid around $1,000 for it. The car is on the precipice of hitting 250,000 miles and has several issues that just aren’t worth fixing.  I’ve always maintained that a running vehicle is worth $500, but this car may be the exception.

  • 3 of the 4 Doors don’t open from the inside have to roll the windows down to exit.
  • Major suspension issues, which is why my sister in law refers to it as the “death hoopty”
  • passenger door leaks onto the seat anytime it rains.
  • Rust, rust, and more rust. In addition to the normal Michigan rust I also have driven the car to work at D.C. Cook Nuclear plant during 5 winters, which uses FAR more salt than any other facility on this planet.
  • Check engine light is on and the duct tape covering it fell off, lol.

Anyways, it’s time for an upgrade. Mrs. C. wants to drive it over the scale, but I think we can get a couple hundred above scrap price for it. I’m actively looking for a new car in the $2,500 to $3,500 range.


Well that’s about it for this quarter.  How has quarter 3 treated you?

John C. started Action Economics in 2013 as a way to gain more knowledge on personal financial planning and to share that knowledge with others. Action Economics focuses on paying off the house, reducing taxes, and building wealth. John is the author of the book For My Children's Children: A Practical Guide For Building Generational Wealth.

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