Life Update - August 2020
What a fun filled adventure the month of August has been for us. The first weekend of the month was Allanah's 29th birthday (nearly the big 3-0, gee we're getting old!), and her birthday gift this year was spending 5 days in Kelowna, BC with one of her good friends Patty.
It was a pretty strange feeling for her being in an airport during this whole COVID pandemic. There's definitely a lot less people traveling by plane than there used to be just 8 months ago. Everyone that does choose to fly is required to wear a mask at all times while in the airport and on board the plane. It's kind of becoming the new normal to have to take these kinds of protective measures, even for us in a small town of less than 1,500 people.
To get to Kelowna from where we live you have to drive 5hrs to Winnipeg, catch a 2hr flight to Vancouver, and then board another 1hr flight to get to Kelowna. A bit of a trek to get there but well worth it for the beautiful wine country you get to experience. I've been to Kelowna once before with Allanah's brother Alec (we road tripped across Canada playing golf, lucky us) and the time I spent there didn't disappoint. The same could be said for Allanah's trip as well.
Her time was spent relaxing with good wine and great company. She got to visit a few local breweries and about 6 wineries in total. Each day was packed full of activities and was a great way to spend a birthday long weekend.
As an added bonus, the flights to get there were absolutely free, thanks to the reward points we had acquired on our credit card. In the personal finance world this is called "travel hacking". We're still new to the whole travel hacking scene, but we always use a credit card for our purchases where possible so we maximize the amount of points we can accrue.
A quick disclaimer though, we never carry a balance (meaning we pay in full every month) so we don't pay a cent in interest. We basically use a credit card like we would a debit card. If we couldn't pay for it in cash, we won't put it on the credit card. Plain and simple.
Throughout the month of August we also got stuck right into camping, and we love it. We will have totaled 5 trips in 6 weeks and visited multiple provincial parks in Ontario. It's also a great way to spend the weekends rather than being cooped up inside or glued to electronics.
The first camping trip we went with 2 friends and our second trip was just us a family. We hadn't gone camping with just the 4 of us as a family before but we managed to survive and have fun while doing it! After those 2 trips we've alternated going with some friends and going solo.
I think we've got the packing portion down pat too. I have a method of stacking the car in a Tetris-like fashion so everything has a specific spot. Allanah likes to be in control of what gets packed into which container, so she knows exactly where things are when the time comes to use it throughout the weekends. We have a 4dr Chevy Tahoe SUV and that thing gets packed to the rafters even for a 2 day trip. We feel like your typical old country campers now!
Camping is a pretty cheap alternative to regular travel too. You pay around $80 for a two-night stay at most parks around us, which sure beats $200 a night to stay in a hotel somewhere. All the parks we've stayed at has access to multiple playgrounds, which the kids love (and I've busted out a few pullups and dips there too!), and we have access to the "beach" if we want to take a dip. I placed beach in quotations because it's not your typical Aussie beach which leads out to the ocean. These beaches are the edges of lakes rather than oceans, but they still have sand so they look and feel just like an Aussie beach.
The kids love our camping trips too as it means they get to have s'mores, go exploring on multiple hiking adventures, and splash around in the lake. Our summer is drawing to a close though and the first week of September will be the last camping trip for us before it starts to cool off. WINTER IS COMING!
We came in a bit under our savings target for the month, primarily due to spending a little more on travel than planned and having to renew my annual gym membership which I hadn't planned for. Our saving rate was quite low, like you can see in the image below, but we only planned to save about 20% this month due to all the travel we had planned.
We paid for Allanah's birthday weekend and all the camping adventures without dipping into our savings. We solely used what we'd been paid for the month to fund it all and still managed to save 16%, which I consider a pretty good result.
No travel plans for September so we should see our savings rate jump back up. Although we only inched 2% closer to our annual goal in the month of August, we're still slightly ahead of our target for the year. With Christmas fast approaching we need to budget for that to ensure we stay on track to hit our annual goal by mid-December. I'm confident we can do it!
NET WORTH SNAPSHOT
A good month for our net worth, with an increase of of about $9k, which brings us to about $312k. The main gains for the month came from retirement investment contributions and adding to our cash savings.
I figured out that by the end of the year we should have increased our net worth by over $100k in 13 months. That will be a huge milestone for us that we didn't think could be possible 9 months ago. It's amazing what you are capable of with a plan, a bit of self-education and strong discipline.
So there you have it! Even with a month full of activities we still managed to tuck away some savings and stay on track to meet our goals.
I'd recommend if you build a budget that you truly want to stick to, you have to plan for "fun", which will mean different things to different people. Having a budget that's too rigid will likely spiral into disaster as it feels restrictive and a burden on your life. Give yourself a little freedom, it'll make the world of difference.
Blake - FIRE with a family