If you’re just joining, our family of four is on a three-year journey to double our net worth and become location independent so we can move. Each month(ish), I’ll keep you apprised of our progress. This year, we’ve got some major goals, including paying off our outstanding debt (car and apartment in Chile), replacing our roof, AND saving around $70,000. As of July, we were roughly 20% of the way to doubling our net worth.
We are now in September. School has started, my work has started, and we have weathered the transition pretty well, for being a week and a half in. I’ve focused on making our morning routine for school better, and so far it’s been great. Both our boys have focus medication they take, so I’ve started giving it to them right as they wake up. Then, it has time to kick in and they can actually get their clothes on, come down to eat breakfast, and get their teeth brushed without a zillion reminders, getting distracted with Legos, or staring off into space for half an hour. Better yet, I’m not yelling at them all morning.
That may sound like crazy talk to people who don’t have kids with attention problems, but it’s our reality. I was talking to a teacher this morning, and she (who also has ADHD) said she noticed the kids in her class whose parents yelled in the morning. “Anytime I raise my voice in the slightest,” she said, “they’ll reflectively wince, like they’re hyper-attuned to yelling.” I gulped. I’ve seen my kids do that in the past. Hurts my heart that I was yelling that much. But I’m so grateful that we’ve changed things up, and they’re taking their medicine earlier. They’re able to get dressed, get their breakfast, brush their teeth, and pack their bags, with minimal reminders. And they’re so proud of themselves. With zero yells and lots of “great job this morning!” It feels so awesome. So my fingers are crossed that our mornings keep going so well.
Summer flew by. August was a relaxed month. Each kid had one week of camp, and we spent our days outside, enjoying the summer, inside, putzing around the house, and visiting friends and family. I never wanted the summer to end, but it did, and everyone has reluctantly returned to a steady routine.
Each time summer ends, I’m reminded why location independence is so appealing. While we love routines, and I think we’d enjoy a routine in a new place, having the freedom to explore, visit with family, and plan our days in the moment is a beautiful way to live. Routine weighs us down. Summer lightens us up, gives us travel wings.
Speaking of wings, we booked our flights to Santiago this weekend. So we’re officially booked for South America during Christmas and New Year’s. We’re debating whether to AirBnB our house while we’re gone, as a way to earn some extra spending money for the trip.
August brought us a small up-tick in our net worth. Our Personal Capital Net Worth is actually showing higher than our own Excel spreadsheet, since Zillow has decided to increase the value of our house significantly in the last few weeks. I don’t know if it’s the new roof we put on or an increase in the local market (I suspect it’s the latter) but they’ve upped the Zestimate of our house by about 5%. I’m ignoring it, though, as I only update our house and car estimates at the beginning of each year.
As of August 31st, our net worth has increased by a total of 21% from our starting point in December of 2016. In order to hit our goal of doubling our net worth in three years, we’ll need to increase our net worth by an average of 2.77% each month (or increase it by 33.33% by December), but we know that progress won’t be completely linear. Our net worth increased less than 1% from last month, but we estimate/hope the increase in the last quarter will make up for that, when we pay off our last two debt payments with an end-of-the-year bonus.
We plan to increase our savings rate next year, when the mortgage on our apartment in Chile and our Prius are paid off, which we plan to do by the end of this year. That will allow us to start a taxable retirement account and hopefully funnel lots of money there.
Here’s a graph to track our progress:
This is as a percentage of our total goal:
Since we spent so much money on eating out this summer, my goal for August/September was to eat out none. Unfortunately, we’ve eaten out three times since I made the goal. Once, I met a friend for lunch, because we’d made plans several months before and I’d cancelled on her twice. The other two times, Mr. ThreeYear wanted to go out for lunch at our favorite Mexican place, so we did (I’ve learned to pick my arguments over the years, especially when it comes to my monthly habits. He *might* get annoyed at my propensity to try these monthly money experiments. Hehe. However, we’ve definitely eaten out less than we would have if I hadn’t made it a priority. And now that the school year has started, we’ve gotten into a good routine and don’t even think about eating out.
This month I’m listing our expenses a bit differently–they’re a little bit more spelled out for transparency.
Housing: $2024. This includes the house mortgage (15 year mortgage) and the apartment in Chile. We paid slightly less into our Chilean bank account this month because we had a bit extra in the account from overpaying in past months.
Prius payment: $263.71. Will be paid off in December.
Gas: $141.72 Includes one outstanding car payment and gasoline.
Groceries: $1211.61. We had houseguests, so we’re over our norm. (This category is always so painful for me to share).
Eating Out: $282.26. Before I made my new goal to not eat out, we took our family, who was in town visiting, out to eat. 10 people made for an expensive meal. This, plus our Mexican food, lunch with a friend, and a stray lunch or two, rounds out the balance.
Kids’ expenses: $174.45. Back-to-school expenses plus rec soccer fees.
Entertainment: $203.28. When our family was in town, we visited a local craft fair (and saw Steven Tyler! One of my first celebrity sightings, apart from Mrs. Frugalwoods!!), went to a local dairy farm, and ate local ice cream.
Housekeeper: $200. We had a housekeeper come clean our house twice this month. It was nice. We haven’t made it regular yet though.
Fitness: $350. Mr. ThreeYear joined a local gym for the next four months. He’s gone almost every day, so this purchase has been worth it.
Cell phone: $50.18. We pay for my phone and Mr. ThreeYear’s company pays for his.
Propane: $0. None this month!
Haircare: $162.85. My quarterly cut and highlights ($100 with tip) plus all three boys’ haircuts.
Home phone: $4.09 through Ooma.
Home Maintenance: $127.89. A couple of stainless steel thermoses for the kids, and stainless steel tumblers to replace our plastic cups. Car charger for the phone and new sheets for the guest room.
Clothing: $75.06. Four pairs of shoes for the boys and one pair of boots for me (I paid for most of them with a gift card).
Gifts: $89.05. Housewarming gift for a friend, niece’s birthday present, birthday present for one of the boy’s friend’s.
Auto maintenance: $25. Getting my winter tires off (in August, yes).
Vacation: $351.71. Plane ticket for a girls’ weekend coming up this month. It was on my list of goals/accomplishments for 2017, and my friend and I finally found a date that worked. I didn’t use miles because they wanted some ridiculous amount, like 50,000.
Total: $5980.49. We spent a lot, kind of like usual. It just goes to show that if you can keep costs low in the big areas, like housing, transportation, and food (or two of the three areas, anyway!) you can still create financial independence for yourself (read more of our story, here).
The School Year Starts
September is truly the nicest month of the year in New England, so we’re enjoying it. Last weekend we hiked to the top of a local mountain, this weekend we hit a Family Fair at our local ski slope, and we plan to do some apple picking and corn mazing as well.
We know winter’s coming, but we’re prepared. We bought discounted ski passes back in March and we’ll be getting the boys geared up with loaners soon. Plus we have our three week trip to Chile to look forward to.
As always, we’re optimistic for the future. We try to remember that some seasons are for resting (and it was a glorious rest) and some are for working. And it’s reaffirming when small changes help our lives so much (like changing the time the kids take their medicine). It’s one of the reasons I’m such a big fan of habits. We’re in the “head down, push ahead” phase of our three year experiment, and while it may not always be fun, it’s necessary.
Hope you’re having a great fall in your neck of the woods!