April 2020 was our first full month in quarantine, and our expenses reflect that! Outside of normal fixed expenses (mortgage, insurance, taxes, etc.) we spent only $833.03 on variable expenses which is quite low for us.
These are wild times, and I’m making a lot of extra effort to see the beauty in the world right now and minimize my life and my time down to only the parts that make me happy.
I’ve been finding joy in the simple routine of waking up without an alarm in the morning. These early hours see me trudging to the kitchen for a delicious cup of homemade cold brew and then going outside to see what new surprises await me in my garden. I find a lot of comfort in caring for each plant to make sure blossoms are pollinated and produce is picked at its peak.
Next, I go on a morning walk around our neighborhood with Mr. Hippie. I take care of the day’s tasks as they come and drink homemade iced tea during the long, hot Texan afternoons. In the evening, I exercise, read, cook, or catch up with friends and family on Zoom. In April, I virtually spent time with friends and family in 4 different time zones and did normal things like movie nights, game nights, crafting circles, networking, happy hours, attending a lecture, and even going to a wedding all from my laptop.
Here’s Our April 2020 Expenses
This month’s total is quite low after spending almost $800 last month preparing for quarantine. We had a lot of shelf stable and frozen foods still socked away so this money was primarily produce, milk, coffee, and other fresh foods. It is also just slightly lower (~$20) due to the produce from my backyard victory garden and my new baking hobby. My squash will start producing in May, so garden savings will increase just a little more!
*Special Note on Take Out
Getting take out has never been a regular part of our routine, and to be honest it felt odd to try to insert it as part of our routine during a time when we aren’t yet FI, are on a budget, and are avoiding contact with the outside world. We will also both be looking to increase our income in the near future, and spending on the luxury of someone else preparing me food feels irresponsible.
On the other hand, I do know how much restaurants are struggling right now and I absolutely wrestle with the guilt of not supporting them financially when I am financially privileged. That being said, the loss of my business in this category is less than $100/month usually, so at the end of the day, I have to chalk this up to me doing the best I can with what I do have. We also exclusively shop at local grocery stores and buy our coffee beans directly from a local roaster, which alleviates a bit of guilt.
It is HOT where we live and is only getting hotter! Our utilities tend to be lowest in the winter and peak in August/September when we just can’t take the heat anymore.
This month Mr. Hippie and I celebrated a pretty big anniversary together (10 years!). This reminded me of why we are on this FIRE journey in the first place. We spent the day thinking about growing old together, making each other laugh, and finding meaning and beauty in the world even during the darkest times.
Our plans went from multiple out of town trips in April to leaving the house so little we didn’t even need to fill up on gas once. We normally try to schedule a getaway for our anniversary to focus on each other and all the things we love about being together. This year we were tossing around the idea of experimenting with van life at the nearest national park. Unfortunately, in the age of COVID, we didn’t feel comfortable with traveling far from home and spending time near large crowds, so we are tabling that idea for a future trip.
Instead, we took the day off and went on a luxurious hike near home. I made homemade pancakes. We sat on the porch together in the afternoon under an umbrella during a rainstorm. We listened to our wedding playlist and reflected on how grateful we are for each other. Then we made a pizza from scratch together and spent the evening dancing in the kitchen.
This was almost exclusively our roof patch earlier this month! You can read more about that adventure and what I learned from it here.
This will be even lower next month thanks to my insurance audit in early April.
$16.23 for a family Spotify account.
April 2020 Expenses Total: $2,488.74
April 2020 Expenses Total – Mortgage: $902.73
Annual Goals Update
My goal this year is to read 52 books, and I have fallen behind a bit during quarantine. In April, I finished only 2 books, bringing me up to 12 books finished this year. On the upside, the 2 books I did finish were 1,389 pages combined which brought me to 6,354 pages read in the first 4 months of 2020 — pretty good compared to 17,779 total in 2019. As the year continues, I imagine I’ll read more books that are shorter, so these will even out.
Right now we are just pulling from our Big Pile of Cash and collecting our monthly dividends, so we are not funneling money into tax advantaged accounts. Since it is now May, I have to admit that this is absolutely killing me since stocks are on sale! I haven’t waited this long in the year to fund my 401k or IRA in a very long time. It’s a strange feeling! While it stresses me out, I know I should be relaxing and enjoying it for now. A full-time position will be here taking up all my free time again before I know it.
Thanks to beginning my dedicated academic sabbatical 6 months ago, I sped up my graduation timeline and will finish with my Master’s degree this month. It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication to complete and satisfies an important life goal for me! The decision to pay for an optional post-graduate degree out of pocket is not particularly common for those on the FIRE journey. So, I’m curious. Are folks interested in a cost breakdown for this? Or a write up of why I made this choice? Do let me know!
How were your April 2020 expenses?