March was an eventful month at the BITA household.
My father, who works in Botswana, decided to pay us a surprise visit (my mother had been with us since January). Mr. BITA conspired with him and on the Saturday in question, told me that he was going rock climbing with his friends while Toddler BITA napped. What he actually did was drive to the airport and pick up my father. I was thrilled to see him, and Toddler BITA was over the moon. We spent two happy weeks together before it was time for my parents to return to Botswana.
One of the best parts of the visit was that my father wanted to hear about our financial independence plans in considerable detail. He had many questions and is very excited for us. He then asked me to double check his retirement plans and I was pleased to find that my parents should enjoy a pretty comfortable retirement.
I honed my culinary skills while my mother was here. I learned to make rotis from scratch (knead the dough, roll out the rotis and then cook them) and we also started to make yogurt at home. We were buying grass-fed, organic, yogurt at exorbitant prices. Given the amount of yogurt we eat in a week, this was a significant chunk of change. The worst part of this spending is that I wasn’t even that happy with the yogurt – it didn’t quite taste like the homemade stuff I grew up with. I am pleased to report that now not only do I enjoy yogurt that tastes right, but our wallet is also happier. To get our yogurt started I asked an Indian friend for a yogurt sample that we would use to set our first batch. The great-great-great-great grandparents of this yogurt sample were smuggled to this country in a flask many years ago. I like the fact that like me, my yogurt comes from immigrant stock, though my own immigration was a tad more legal.
Toddler BITA graduated to pre-school. Her school moved her up to the 3 year olds classroom, even though she isn’t three yet. They claimed it was because she was ready. I (cynically) think that it was because they wanted to make room in the 2s classroom. Thankfully the transition went very smoothly, and resulted in our monthly daycare dues dropping by 22%. Wheeeeee!
From a financial perspective March was not a month of rainbows and unicorns. All my medical bills showed up, and we begrudgingly paid them. I did manage to extract some lemonade from those lemons. I met the minimum spend for my new Chase Ink Preferred card much sooner than expected and will soon be rewarded with 80k yummy Ultimate Rewards (UR) points, bringing our UR stash to a little over 220,000 points. It feels good to replenish the stash after having spent a bunch of points recently to book our vacation to Europe in September.
We claimed our dependent care FSA for 2016 this month, and having a cheque for $5,000 show up in time to offset the medical bills was pretty sweet.
March was an excellent month for the Bayalis blog. I guest posted up (way up) at the 1500 days site and was inundated by more traffic than ever before.
Adding cash to the financial independence stash
This month we added $18,202.84 to our stash.
- Mr. BITA’s 401k was maxed out in January, so that is why you only see contributions to my 401k and my company match.
- Mr. BITA enjoyed some mega backdoor Roth action.
- We added a modest amount to our taxable brokerage account.
- The biggest boost to our savings this month came from having RSUs vest.
The markets were less than euphoric this month, and hence the market growth of our stash was a modest $5,002.01.
The financial independence plan vs. reality
Our plan for 2017 calls for us to add a total of $160,000 to our stash this year. Remember that only our savings count towards this number; market growth does not. In the first quarter of this year we have saved $85,836.51, putting us a little over the halfway mark. That seems impressive, but January was a bumper month (bonuses were received and banked), and I don’t believe we’ll see another month like that this year. Our target for the rest of the year is now $8,240.38 per month. April is going to be a rough month for savings. We are going to owe somewhere between $15k and $20k in taxes. Ouch!
And now, the moment you have all been waiting for: bullish me climbing the stairway to heaven:
Financial independence status: Slightly ahead of the plan.