May as well get straight to the shock/awe/horrify number: in October we spent $896 on groceries and $414 on restaurants. That total of $1,310 represents 32% of our monthly budget of $4,100. Check out this screenshot from our Personal Capital account:
We’re clutching our pearls and fanning ourselves over here…or are we? Let me explain to you two reasons this makes sense.
First, it’s very time-consuming to itemize receipts from big-box stores like Walmart. I’ve got Personal Capital set to default Walmart to the “groceries” category because while that’s our biggest expenditure there, we frequently also buy stuff from other categories. School and auto maintenance supplies, pet food, Birkenstock knock-offs (bacon for the feet), health and beauty products, and so forth. So I guesstimate that our “grocery” bill includes at least $250 per month of non-grocery spending.
It’s therefore either do what I think of as an excessive amount of fiddly bookkeeping, or accept this number—and THAT’S the reason I shoot for a month-end spending total of $4,100. As long as we hit that, I’m fine with whatever we spend it on.
Which: in October we obviously exceeded. Should I be concerned and/or pissed off?
Ha-ha. You gotta be kidding. See, my wife took a part-time slash hobby job at a bakery. She loves baking, it gets her out of the house, she’s making $14 an hour, and she works twenty or more hours a week. Call it $1,000 a month in supplemental income.
I don’t believe in “my money/your money,” but she likes eating out and she likes nice vacations. So we’re going out more, and at her request, I net our restaurant spending out of this supplemental income and put the balance in our “vacation fund,” an imaginary pot of money we spend down whenever we travel. For instance, we just got back from the beach and we’re currently planning a month-long trip to Ireland next summer (to which we’ll be applying the Chase Ultimate Rewards points from my recent foray into churning, but that’s another story.)
So if I ever think about complaining to my wife about how much we’re spending in these categories, please thwack me in the back of the head with a croquet mallet before I manage to get the words out, mmmkay?
And now here’s the monthly change in our net worth: $2,359,164 from $2,319,855; a jump of $39,309 or 1.6%…not bad for a single month.
Reasons. One is that Amazon has gone up something like $150 a share. We own 70 shares. Zillow also says our house is something like ten grand more valuable, and the rest of our stocks and funds have moved up too.
About that Amazon. I’ve since switched over to index fund investing, but when I bought AMZN in 2012 and again in 2014, I was an individual equities guy. This changed in part because I found myself with a big-ass tax problem, i.e. raising cash for bills while minimizing capital gains tax…and of course there was also the problem of paying too much in commissions.
Check it out, then: our average AMZN cost basis is roughly $255 and it’s currently trading at $1,103. That’s a 330% return–a home run by any definition–but again, it gets us back into that tax problem. How are we supposed to sell these shares to raise cash to live on without taking a major capital gains hit?
Well, we’d have to offset those gains with losses…except that we don’t have any losses. Not one single dollar. In the last six weeks I’ve harvested all the losses we have to raise cash for the next eight months (subject for another post), meaning literally that everything we own is winning.
Yeah, yeah…nothing to whine about. But you gotta admit, it’s instructive.
Anyway, that’s a summary of October. As always, if you’d like more detail you can leave me a message in the comments.