2017 has started to accelerate at a pace that is leaving me breathless. It feels like just yesterday I was standing before you, giving you the lowdown on July. Between now and the end of the year we have a holiday in Europe, a trip to Napa Valley with friends, two aunts and an uncle coming to visit from India, a conference in Florida, Fincon in Texas, another trip to Europe, and my parents visiting us from Botswana. Add to this birthdays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it promises to be quite the ride.
Mr. BITA’s parents and my 5 year old nephew visited us August. I mentioned in a previous monthly update that the shower in our bathroom upstairs had sprung a nasty leak. The leak was inside the wall, and we noticed it when water started to puddle on the shelves in the pantry downstairs. In years gone by we would have immediately summoned a plumber. This time around we decamped to the other bathroom, cursed a lot, and considered our options while we licked our wounds. Then, despite being handicapped with eighteen thumbs apiece, we attempted a bit of DIY. It was not a spectacular success, but we did manage to pinpoint the shower as the cause of the leak. We then made a list of 4 plumbers (based on recommendations) and Mr. BITA called them all to get quotes. The cheapest one of all charged $160/hour, and they all had a minimum charge of one hour to come out and look at the problem. We cursed some more and recommenced our procrastination with a vengeance.
Then the Grandparents BITA announced that they had finalized the dates of their impending visit and we started to panic about our non-functioning bathroom. Mr. BITA picked out a day that he could stay home from work, and we resigned ourselves to a plumber and his ungodly hourly rate. At this juncture, ever so casually, like it was no big deal at all, Grandfather BITA texted to ask if the leak was fixed yet, and if it was not that he was planning to come out 3 days earlier, and fix our shower problem for us. Mr. BITA had mentioned the problem to him once back when we were trying to DIY it. My in-laws are just awesome pants. Grandfather BITA got here and set to work with a vengeance. He is a wizard with his hands, and our shower didn’t stand a chance. He found not one, but two leaks. He replaced several pieces whose names I won’t even begin to pretend to know.
And lo and behold, we had a working shower again. He wouldn’t even accept payment for the stuff that he procured from Home Depot. There was no permanent damage to the drywall, so yay!
Their visit was so much fun. Toddler BITA enjoyed every moment with her grandparents and cousin. We made good use of the pool in our backyard, grilled burgers and made s’mores, visited a park that offers a train ride, went to the beach and watched Sing at the outdoor (free) movie night at our community center. The icing on the cake was that the grandparents offered to watched the kids for a night while Mr. BITA and I drove to San Francisco for dinner and some dancing with a group of our friends. Oh, and for the duration of the visit I borrowed a booster seat for my nephew from my fantastic Buy Nothing group.
This month was also the first time we had Toddler BITA’s hair cut. She is over three years old, so this is probably bordering on negligent. We took her to the hairdresser who cuts both my hair and Mr. BITA’s. I am pleased to report that we made it through the shampoo, cut and blow dry with zero crying, and Toddler BITA was rewarded with a lollipop for being such a grown-up.
We ticked off a long-overdue todo item this month. We visited a lawyer and had our estate plan drawn up – including our revocable living trust. #Adulting. Yay! I’ll be writing a separate post on the details of our estate planning soon. I had signed up for the Hyatt Legal Plan this year, a benefit offered by my company. They deduct $9 per paycheck, and then bear most of the costs if you do actually have to visit a lawyer. So our estate plan cost us $234 in payroll deductions and $220 out of pocket for certain things that were not covered by the Legal Plan. Our lawyer said that they normally charge $1,800 to draw up an estate plan, so that was a win.
The other major event this month was our annual neighborhood ‘festival’. It is held on the grounds of our community center. There is a surplus of free stuff for the kids – bouncy houses, a variety of slides, including a water slide, face painting and booths to make crafts with foam and glue. Neighbourhood businesses set up stalls, there is a band and some food trucks. Our Buy Nothing group put up a stall to popularize the concept. I contributed baked brownies to the stall. We spent a very happy day there, and ate altogether too much ice-cream.
Oh, and speaking of free stuff, a Little Free Library has opened shop on our street.
The Little Free Library is a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering community and a love of reading. They encourage folks to open these ‘mini’ libraries on their front lawns. You can find a map of all these mini libraries on their site.
Enough about free, let’s talk about the dollars now.
Adding Cash to the Financial Independence Stash
This month we added $19,175.54 to our Stash.
- The pre-tax portion of Mr. BITA’s 401k was maxed out in January, and I hit my contribution limit last month. Mr. BITA’s company gave him his full company match in January, and with this month’s contribution, I have now also received my full company match.
- As is usual, we shoveled more cash through Mr. BITA’s mega backdoor Roth. We should hit the $54,000 limit ($18,000 pre-tax + $9,000 company match + $27,000 after-tax) next month.
- I received the next installment of my patent payments this month, so that gave us some extra to pour into our taxable account.
While our new investments are pleasing, our existing investments did not have a particularly good month. We are down $2,804.99 for the month.
Overall, combining savings and growth (or the lack thereof), Aug 2017 has been our worst performing month this year.
The Financial Independence Plan vs. Reality
YTD we have saved and invested: $224,673.86.
YTD market growth: $119,099.85
Another way of looking at our savings rate is that YTD we have saved at the rate of 64.2 cents per minute.
As usual, I’ll end this monthly update with the Stairway to Heaven.
1218 days to go!
Financial independence status: Ahead of the plan.