The BITA household perspired its way through a really warm July. Though sweat trickled down our backs on more than one occasion, our iron resolve did not waver and our thermostat stayed put at a robust 84. I have alluded to our uncomfortable thermostat setting in past posts, but I’ve never explained why we are such masochists. Our home is old-ish (built in the 1950s) and our HVAC system is not efficient, so running the AC does cost us a pretty penny. In and of itself though, that wouldn’t be enough to force us to be so stingy with the use of our AC.
The real reason is that one fine day I realized that I had started to become dependent on air conditioning to be comfortable in the summer. Worse still, Toddler BITA was growing up in a world where the temperature is always a comfortable 70-ish degrees. In an effort to not turn into a wuss nor have Toddler BITA grow up to be one, I petitioned Mr. BITA to consider a higher thermostat setting. So here we are now, gamely sweating through a sweltering Bay Area summer.
Other than working up a dewy glow, we spent time at a local farm, at the Children’s Discovery Museum (Toddler BITA’s grandparents bought her a membership for her birthday), and at a local park with fun water features. We also made good use of the pool in our backyard. Toddler BITA is getting better at floating on her back. She has graduated from flat, shrill, outraged refusal to grudgingly lying on her back for eight seconds (supported), occasionally flailing her arms around.
We continued on our slow churning journey by acquiring the United MileagePlus Explorer card this month. For $3,000 of spending over 3 months we will receive 70,000 United miles. We can also check up to two bags for free, and get priority boarding on United flights. We plan to make use of these benefits in September when we fly to Europe on United (we bought those tickets using miles from other Chase cards). We also got two one-time-use passes that allow us access to a United Club lounge. One blow to our churning is that Toddler BITA’s daycare is outsourcing their payment system to a third party starting in August, and they charge a hefty fee if you choose to pay via credit card. Bye-bye free credit card payments! We no longer have a trivial way to spend over $1,000 a month on a credit card to aid our churning efforts.
This month I made the trek up to San Francisco to acquire a visa for our travels to Europe in September. While Mr. BITA and Toddler BITA are citizens of this fine country, I am not. I can’t just waltz into the EU whenever I please. I have to lug a small mountain of documents in triplicate to a consulate and politely persuade the officials (at a cost of $128) to take my measure and hope that they don’t find me wanting. Mr. BITA had the day off, so he accompanied me. We took the train up to the city, walked to the consulate, sauntered to a restaurant for lunch, took the scenic route back to the train station and journeyed back to the South Bay. Two weeks later, my passport followed me home, complete with a 3 year multiple entry Schengen visa.
The highlight of the month was our camping trip. It was Toddler BITA’s first time camping, and mine. I wrote about how we acquired a tent for free, and sleeping bags for $5 at a yard sale. We had such a wonderful time, and I can’t wait to do it over again. Our campsite had a view had to die for, and in all our time there I crossed paths with a total of zero mosquitos.
We spent our days there hiking trails, and our evenings around the campfire cooking, eating, drinking and enjoying the company of our friends.
Our splurge for the month was dinner for the adult BITAs at Din Tai Fung. We took advantage of the Parent’s Night Out feature at Toddler BITA’s daycare. Once a month for the princely sum of $40 they allow you to leave your kid at daycare for an extra 5 hours (6 p.m. to 11 p.m.). All you have to do is pack pajamas – they even provide dinner. Toddler BITA loves it as much as we do – what is not to love about an evening with her friends, with teachers she is familiar with, pizza, games and a movie.
We ate altogether too many xiaolongbao and wontons, and washed them down with cocktails and beer. I am pleased to report that the Bay Area branch does live up to the hype. The food was yummy and well worth the $125 we spent on it.
Enough about spending, let’s see how we did with the saving.
Adding Cash to the Financial Independence Stash
This month we added $38,638.42 to our Stash.
- Mr. BITA’s 401k was maxed out in January, and I hit my contribution limit last month. Mr. BITA’s company gave him the full match in January, mine will continue to give me a ‘true-up’ through the rest of the year.
- As is usual, we shoveled more cash through Mr. BITA’s mega backdoor Roth. We will hit the $54,000 limit before the end of the year ($18,000 pre-tax + $9,000 company match + $27,000 after-tax).
- This was another good month for stock – both Mr. BITA and I had RSUs vest. We each sold on the day our stock vested, and moved that money into index funds.
- I received a bonus this month, and we put some of that money into our taxable account. We’ve held some back for tax payments.
The tailwinds of the market grew our stash by a glorious $27,031.93.
The Financial Independence Plan vs. Reality
Thus far this year we have been saving at the rate of 67.3 cents per minute.
YTD we have saved and invested: $205,498.33.
YTD market growth: $121,904.84
As usual, I’ll end this monthly update with the Stairway to Heaven.
1249 days to go!
Financial independence status: Ahead of the plan.