Monday, October 31, 2011

10/31 Monthly Financial Breakdown

Well, another month has passed and this means I need to do a financial breakdown.

Previous Monthly Financial Breakdown post here

If I sum up total expenses from 10/1 through 10/31 I get -$944
A rough calculation would put my yearly expenses at $11,328 just over :(
lets take a closer look.

Food costs: -$273 or -$68 per week (includes a dinner for visiting relatives and a lunch for a sailboat captain)
Regular Fuel: -$204 or -$50 per week (includes  the two trips to do sailing class and day sail)
Leftover Renting Expenses: -$0 (HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA)
Van: -$32 (includes: sink water pump)
Insurance: -$50 per month   (I pay in 6mo intervals to reduce the premium but still counted as monthly)
Clothing: +$29 (New golf pants and shirt purchased but I returned the boating shoes so I have a credit)
Fun: -$403 (club day sail was 85 plus 318 for ASA101 class)
Misc:  -$5.38 (can of paint)
Storage:  -$32   (plus a sunk cost of 15 per month for mailbox)

Things that were not necessary this past month: The two dinners cost me $100 plus the extra fuel to go sailing which is approximately a tank of fuel so $40 bucks and the ASA class of $318  bringing my luxury expenses to $458. Almost half of my monthly expenses, Yikes!! Without that my yearly is at $6000... :)

Ok,  clean out the unusual stuff and do a monthly for the rest
Food and fuel: -$350 (I don’t have any long distance driving trips planned for next month)
Storage and box:  -$47
Insurance: -$50 
Clothes: -$100 (smartwool shirt and misc)
Van:  -$100 (still need an oil change but I don't anticipate any large projects for next month, revised down)
Fun: -$200 (number revised upwards, Upcoming Thanksgiving holiday will incur dinner expenses, parking fees, etc...)
Yearly expense estimate with the new numbers: $10164

Good to see a slight decrease but still disturbed by fun expenses

Cannot wait for next month's expense sheet, should be interesting. 

Note: I was able to sell a few items this past month. The remaining pachinko machines, the bed frame, dvd player and air mattress. If I could get rid of the mattress and a few more large items I might be able to reduce my storage unit to a 5x5 and pay less per month (embedded note: just checked prices and it seems that they have gone up since I started renting and I would only save a dollar per month unless I moved to a new location but would only save four dollars per month)

Here is the status of my dividend income:
Since I re-aligned my investment strategy I've been putting extra cash into dividend paying stocks and other investment opportunities. I started out by doing a broad overview of what I had in a previous post and now it is time to put up my progress. Last post it was at 9%.

Previous Monthly Financial Breakdown post here

Current level is now estimated at 16% (pending the actual dividend payments at the end of Q4)

Such slow progress, I might have to sacrifice everything that isn't absolutely necessary to achieve a better increase for next month. At the current rate I would need to put away more then 20 paychecks just to cover basis expenses and I honestly do not know if I have 40 more weeks worth of work in me. I may have to sell off my growth stocks and put it all into the dividend plan.  It is at this point that I regret spending so much on fun activities because I see the real cost in future comfort, that sailing class basically cost me $100 per year in dividend income (using AGNC stock and dividend as a basis).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

10/24 weekend update and quarterly dividend payouts

Well, I survived yet another end of the world prediction and also had a lot of fun at the Halloween costume party. I did not do a full setup of the camper because it was unnecessary, I barely had time to sleep in it.

I am out of propane again, 15 days after I last filled it up 10/10. Seems like it always runs out in the middle of the night. This may be the one part of the van that limits my long trips that I have planned. If I only have 15 days worth of propane then I guess that is the longest amount of time I can be away and still keep fresh food. I will have to play with the temperature knob and see if I can get a few extra days by turning it to a warmer setting, right now it is on max cold. Max cold is cold enough to cause frost buildup on the cooling grates, definitely needs a circulation fan. It seems like the small amount I use for cooking does not have much of an impact


I finally received the quarterly dividends from the two companies that I own stock in that pay quarterly dividends. Total income was $48, woot!!, equal to 2% per year on the cash I need although I only received a small portion of one stock that was recently purchased and I think that it has something to do with the time owned not being a whole quarter. (note: this is income is before I realized that I needed to redistribute to increase the dividend payouts, Q4 should be much more profitable, although it always is due to end of year capital gains payouts)

Friday, October 21, 2011

10/21 - Weekend Goals and Dometic Fridge observations

Assuming the world does not end on midnight tonight...who knows if crazy old preacher guy will be right or wrong this time.

No sailing this weekend, I have a Halloween costume party to go to saturday night and it is as far away as the marina but in exactly the opposite direction. This will be the second time I get to use my Napoleon Dynamite costume. I purchased a wig and glasses kit but made the "vote for pedro" shirt. I am looking forward to using all the camping equipment on the van as intended. The party is at a farm and I plan on staying overnight, hopefully the weather won't be too cool and I will get to put up the pop top. I will try to get a photo of it fully set-up.

Vandwelling observations:
Having a dedicated night parking spot will greatly reduce the stresses of daily life and allow you to develop a daily routine. Without a routine, time gets wasted about thinking what to do next instead of doing.

The dometic fridge works better then I had initially thought. I have managed to keep fresh herbs and strawberries as well as freeze a cucumber. Without knowing the exact temperature I would still be wary of keeping dairy or meat for long periods. (Not an issue for me since I am a vegetarian) The performance is definitely tied to what ambient air temperature is, anything above 80 and it just keeps things cool but not cold and struggles to recover from heat gain after opening.

Notes about food placement within the fridge: This is not a normal fridge, the shelves are strange and storage is an issue

The door holds water bottles very well but the trick is to find the right size water bottle, mineral water bottles fit very well.I put my kiwis in the top shelf of the door because this shelf is the most protected and kiwis fit very well up there.

Strawberries and other fruits that are prone to going bad quickly need to be put onto the middle shelf as this is nearest the cooling fins, however it is just below the water drip tray so do not place food that can be damaged by water.

The floor level is where I put oranges, bananas and peanut butter and jelly jars. The floor collects water that gets splashed off of the drip tray so only put food with waterproof skins or jars down there.

The top shelf is for breads and apples or other fruit that gets damaged easily, this shelf is the second most protected but the last to cool down. Garlic and tomatoes also go up there.

Another tip is to not store anything in a bag inside the fridge. There is a wizard that come out of hiding when you close the door and will transform the bags into knotted piles of plastic which somehow absorb large quantities of water that will only drain out once you remove them from the fridge and drench the carpet. Avoid produce bags at all costs. The exception is carrot bags, these have magical anti-wizard features.

Best of luck finding properly sized tupperware to fit the shelves. I have a couple that work but only if I tilt them at certain angles.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It is getting cool at night

Last night it was 57 F. Tonight will be 47 F due to a cold front blowing in. So far the brown fuzzy blanket is keeping me at a comfortable level however in a couple of weeks it may be time to switch over to my comforter.

I have noticed a significant temperature difference between the windows with covers and those without so I would say that they were a good purchase. Once it is cold enough to have all windows closed I will start using the rest of the window covers, right now I have just the back covered and the windshield.

I will be very excited when daylight savings comes around. It is getting very difficult for me to wake up in the dark.

Monday, October 17, 2011

10/17 - weekend update

Once again I went sailing. this time it was unplanned. The school was looking for another person to go on the "skills building" session that is included with the ASA101 course. Naturally I agreed to go and was even more excited when they told me that the boat we would be using was a racing boat. Unfortunately there was not a lot of wind on Saturday.

The skill building session was approx. 3 hrs long which left me with plenty of "free" time that afternoon/evening. I ended up hanging around the marina till dusk and then wandered around the boardwalk to see all the flashing lights. After walking the boardwalk and checking out the moon-rise I ended up back at the van and went to sleep early. I was too exhausted to go and listen to the band at the monkey bar.

While relaxing at the boardwalk I saw a vw westfalia drive into the parking lot, same white but two years older then mine. I sprinted over to the van and had a good conversation with the owners.

Not much happened on Sunday, I came back before noon and ended up reading Born to Run at the bookstore. A couple of games of starcraft after that and then I parked in a new hotel parking lot, I plan on parking there all week as an experiment to see if anyone will notice.

Stuff update: Sold the bed frame on friday and will hopefully sell the dvd player this week.
Added a new blue polo and the beige golf pants to the work wardrobe to replace the cotton versions.
Returned the REI base layer shirt and also returned the sperry boat shoes. I want to get another smartwool shirt in another color, with two of them I could do just about eliminate all of my other shirts.

I need to get rid of more crap.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

More sailing stuff

Got some photos from the first club sail. Such hard work ;)






Monday, October 10, 2011

10/10 - weekend update

Sailing went well, I passed the test but the sunday sailing part of the course was rained out. I'll have to come back some other weekend and join the next class. I now have rain gear on my list of things to get, my only jacket is just weatherproof and not waterproof.

I have a problem with unplanned free time. This is only a problem when I know that I have stuff to do but can not remember what it is or am unable to do it due to lack of resources.

After the sailing class I did not know what to do. The club sails have parties afterward and that is what I had expected to happen but everyone left for the day leaving me on my own. What to do with a free evening?
I did what all the other tourists do, walked the boardwalk (although I didn't spend any money) and got soaked by the ocean bashing into the seawall. (getting soaked while wearing quick dry clothing is fun, need to get a haircut though).  At night I wandered into a bar with the best sounding band, had a few beers and met the band/locals. There is nothing more satisfying then walking from a bar back to an RV and going to sleep next to the place you need to be in the morning (just remember to take off your clothes before falling asleep).

Side note:
I had a very enjoyable sunday evening in the parking lot of starbucks. It was raining, I cooked up some gnocchi with pandora running and then watched Into the Wild. I was in a zen like state and everything outside of the van seemed to have disappeared.

Friday, October 7, 2011

10/7 - Weekend Goals

Yet another weekend thus approaches.
I now have running water, the new pump came in yesterday and after an hour of digging around the cabinets it was fitted and operating. I believe that the new pump has a higher flow rate which means I need to get a diffuser or some way to reduce the flow to conserve water. Actually, I take that back, conserving water is not the priority, not filling up the grey water tanks is my priority.  Speaking of grey water tanks, I think the shut off valve leaks.

This weekend will look very similar to the last two in that I will be down at the marina except that I will be doing the ASA101 basic keelboat course instead of a club sail. It is a two day course and should be lots of fun. I've been studying the book all week. Lots of strange terminology like Clew. By the end of the day sunday I should be capable of sailing a 20ft boat in light to moderate winds.

I've been seeing a small wet spot behind the rear of the van, something must be leaking. I need to investigate this, also found out that the high pressure oil switch had been bypassed several years ago so I need to reattach it and see what is going on. I have no idea where my soldering iron or multimeter is so I guess ill have to get another one.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Mental gaps

After the financial post I decided to do a broad overview of all my finances and investments. I've been hanging out at www.earlyretirementextreme.com and going through some very interesting articles/posts. Lots to learn over there but more importantly I wanted to know how I would do if I was totally unemployed. I have always thought that my financial knowledge was great and that I was implementing what I needed to do to achieve my goals but in reality I have only put it on autopilot and in the hands of others.

If I was unemployed my investments would be capable of supplying  9%  of my basic expenses without drawing down the capital. NINE...I feel ill. This comes from dividends (common stock) and capital gains (mutual funds).
For all the time I have spent building elaborate investment spreadsheets all I have to show for it is a single digit and that is only possible because I no longer pay rent. If I include rent I would be down to 4% but if I went to a car-free lifestyle I would be up to 16%

Most of that 9% came from recent purchases of high dividend stock.
The more I learn about stocks and the market the goofier my common stock purchases seem to be (almost lottery ticket goofy) but now that I have a tiny bit more knowledge I feel that I can increase my percentages.
I wish I had known what I know now before I was hired, I could  have put away some serious cash and would feel significantly better about my financial situation.

Ugh, 9...

How many paychecks would it take to totally cover your daily expenses if you purchased shares of CEL, AGNC or CIM?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

No running water, no gas, no heat, no fridge...How do you survive?

I ran out of propane last night, approx 17 days of continuous fridge use and several pots of rice and beans and one large gnocchi meal last weekend. This time I will try to convince the guy filling the tank up that my vehicle is propane powered so that I can get it at the cheaper price. Obviously the fridge stopped working but a quick mental check (since the fridge is very slow to cool stuff down you have to remember everything that is inside and decide what you want before opening to conserve the precious cold air) revealed that the only items in danger are my remaining strawberries(which may already have gone bad), the mini peeled carrots, and leftover rice/beans/corn from last night. I may spend some time with the fridge off and see if it negatively impacts me.

Water pump will hopefully arrive on Thursday, I've been using water bottles in the mean time and refilling by dipping them into the water tank. An inconvenience but I still wouldn't want to be paying rent in an apt.

The weather around here is finally getting back to the nice daytime, 90s, temperature with cool nights. By cool I mean low 60s. Now I need to sleep with both a sheet and a blanket! Soon, like late November, I will have to start using the down comforter or sleeping bag. I think a wool hat would help, maybe a red one like what Steve Zissou wears.

Monday, October 3, 2011

10/4 - Weekend Update

I went on a club sail again, this time there was way more people and lots of food. I signed up to take the asa101 course next weekend and the sailing book I ordered last week arrived today so I have a week to study it.
The club sail was so relaxing, perfect weather and very sunny. I am disappointed whenever the guests turn on the radio, listening to the sea is so much nicer. When this happens I just go hang out on the bow and watch the waves and the coast pass by.  There were a couple of dolphins that followed us for a few hours.

The water pump for the van's sink decided to die on sunday so I had to order a new one today.

Sunday I just followed the dock hands around doing what they do and trying to learn as much as I can about boats. A new boat owner wanted to know if we did boat maintenance and wanted to hire us, sadly I was not in any position to do so but the other guys were. Working with the dock hands did not feel like work and it was nice to be outside. I doubt they get paid much.

A cool thing about being in a marina is that the people there are very friendly. I met way more people in one day then I know from working for two years in an office.

The drive back home was depressing.