State of the Blog: April 2016

Each month, we’ve done a review of where we are with our finances and goals, where we need to update previous posts, and what’s going on in the Jividen household.

This has been a hard month to review. The first half of April was about work, work and more work. That got me a little discouraged and a little tired of concentrating on saving money. 

The second half has been much better rested and so a little more positive. Being rested and positive has made saving money a little easier, reminding me how often my spending in the past was used as a stress release. I was also spending as an entitlement indulgence, boredom cure, and laziness enabler.  At least I’m a little more aware now.

I’ve revisited some investment ideas for the first time in a long time with posts on proxy statements and annual reports. While I track my investment performance quarterly along with our net worth, I haven’t been putting as much time into it lately as I need to. I’m actively trying monitor my investments more closely now, but it probably won’t result in too many changes now that I have gotten rid of most of my crappy high-expense mutual funds.

Reading A New Book

In March, I wrote about several of the women in my family. This month my aunt gave me a book called Tar Heels in Wooden Shoes by Charles W Riesz Jr. It’s about the Dutch families that settled in the Wilmington NC area. It included details about all 4 of my mom’s grandparents that I didn’t know, particularly her father’s parents. My Swart great-grandfather would have fit right in with the PF community.

There was a lot to be proud of. My great-grandparents came to this country with very little except a large family and a good work ethic. They struggled at first and lacked even basic necessities like enough food.  My great-grandfather, my grandfather and several of his brothers had to take all sorts of different jobs at first. By working together and making sure all resources went into the family coffers (frugality! self-reliance!), they were able to build a large and successful dairy business. By the time they had decided that the dairy business had become too regulated and concentrated , they had developed a thriving flower business to fall back on (side hustles! multiple streams of income! financial independence!)

The family was also known to be generous, and tended to be the first in their area to give raises to their employees. When other farmers complained that they couldn’t afford to match the wages the family business was paying, my great aunt Helena would tell them maybe they needed to drive less fancy cars. Workers said the family worked as hard as they ever asked anyone else to work.  My great-grandfather was also known for helping out neighbors, especially during the Great Depression.

Like a lot of other families, the further we’ve gotten away from the immigrant generation the further we’ve gotten away from their mindset. The flower farm was sold in the 70’s and I’m not sure if any of my generation farm. As far as I know, none of us have ever wondered where our next meal was coming from. Thinking about those who came before me is a good reminder, though, that the ability to work is still a great resource for wealth-building and I need to do a better job of leveraging it.

Spending Report

Yay! Grocery spending came in under budget! I don’t think it’s as much due to any changes we’ve made as due to the fact that I don’t think we went as often.

We were also a lot better with “little trips” this month. If we went to the store for milk, we did a much better job of limiting ourselves to $15 worth of stuff instead of $50. I’ve noticed in the past if we limit or eliminate the midweek trips we are much more likely to stick to our budget. Unfortunately we always seem to need a midweek trip for milk.

We did have some expenses elsewhere, so it wasn’t a cheap month. We spent more than we had since December, due to a combination of expenses getting paid in April that are actually for future months. Jon loves the ballet and picked up tickets for 4 shows that will keep us cultured up until 2017.. I love the beach and rented a cottage for later this summer, including a large deposit that we expect to get back. Take those two items out, and our April spending looks in line with what we’ve been spending for the last 4 months, but those initial spreadsheet numbers caused a little heart skipping.

I did spend the first money I’ve spent on a book all year this weekend: $2 on an organic pest control book. Jon and Little Bit bought me 6 apple trees and a pear tree as an early Mother’s Day present (planted on Arbor Day.) We spent this past weekend getting the trees planted. I can’t say that I’m an expert digger, but I managed to do my share with the shovel and post hole digger this weekend.

I grew up with a giant fig tree in the yard, and remember how nice it is to be able to walk out and pick a fresh piece of fruit from the yard. I also remember how the yellow jackets would swarm as soon as the fruit started to get ripe. Hopefully we’ll manage to get some good fruit harvests in a few years and I’ll have a bunch of apple-centered recipes to try. I’ll have a lot to learn though to make our little orchard pay off, starting with how to keep those pesky yellow jackets from making it unapproachable.

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8 Responses to “State of the Blog: April 2016”
  1. Miss Thrifty 05/02/2016
    • Emily Jividen 05/03/2016
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    • Emily Jividen 05/04/2016
  2. Prudence Debtfree 05/04/2016
    • Emily Jividen 05/04/2016

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