Life Update: September 2021
Where to begin with September! Well, actually, it wasn't that much different from August. Started in lockdown and nearly ended in lockdown. Feels like this pandemic is never going to end.
In Australia, Father's Day falls on the first Sunday in September, which for this year was the 5th. Callum and Addison made special homemade cards for the occasion and a had purchased a few small gifts. It did seem a bit odd that they gave me a book on how to make cocktails though... Maybe that was Allanah's doing.
The other bag of goodies was an assortment of chocolate, most of which was liquorice flavoured. I sense that was a bit of a setup since the kids and Allanah like liquorice but I don't. It's the thought that counts though!
To try and keep things "normal" during school hours, the kids have a team meeting every school day with their classmates. No actual school work gets done during these calls and it's more of a catch up and a chance to see each others faces. One of the days the class had a "crazy hair day", which Addi loves to participate in.
This year, she requested dual buns with pencils poked into her hair. Not sure what the other kids did, but she was more than happy with her choice.
Since we've been house-bound for quite some time now, the kids have taken a liking to seeing the garbage man come and collect all the rubbish every Wednesday morning. I don't know why the big old garbage truck fascinates them so much but they both rush to window when he arrives in the morning.
They both pile onto the couch near the window and giggle every time the truck's mechanical arm lifts the bins up to dump the rubbish into the back of the truck. They even have friendly bets as to how the bin will land when he places it back down. If the bin is placed back down and falls over they let out a big belly laugh. We always get the full story from them once the garbage collector has completed our street.
Kids will be kids, and I'm glad they find ways to entertain themselves. Even if it is laughing hysterically on garbage collection day.
It was the end of the school term around mid-September, which meant the kids had two weeks of holidays and no home schooling! They were pretty happy with that, and so was Allanah - the chief home-schooler of the house.
Since they had total free time throughout the day, they decided to turn one room into a fort together. They chose Callum's room to be the oasis for the holidays. I'm pretty sure they used every blanket and pillow in the house to construct their masterpiece, but they were proud of what they'd created.
Addison used her craft skills to fashion a "TV", which consisted of a cardboard box with a hole cut out for the iPad to sit. I should mention that we have two large television's in our house already, but how could that beat an 8 inch screen inside a cardboard box!
With the majority of our family still in lockdown across the state, our only way to stay in contact was via Facetime and Zoom. We regularly have calls with Alec and Brydie who live on the central coast and Allanah had a great idea to play a virtual escape room with the two of them.
It was a pretty cool idea and something you should look up if you want something to do with friends online while you're stuck at home. It's much cheaper than the actual escape rooms that you go to so it's a pretty cost effective way to have a bit of fun.
The website we chose is "Virtual Escaping", which has 3 options to choose from. We've completed two out of three so far and both of them have been challenging but fun. Check out the link > Virtual Escaping.
Given the weather now has a few spurts of warm days, the lawn has started to grow again which means I just had to splash out on a new Honda line trimmer (known as a "whipper snipper" in this area of the world)!
To be fair, I didn't have to buy a new-beaut Honda, but I wanted to. They are renowned for being top quality and always reliable so I think it's a fair investment. Besides, the lawn mower is a Honda so now everything matches. Probably a bit of OCD there.
You might be thinking these life updates have gone south and I've gone a bit loopy since I'm waffling on about garden care now, and I don't blame you. But the real story I wanted to tell you was about the ever-so-cute little creature we found crawling around in our backyard.
To be honest, I thought I was about to run over a pinecone with the lawn mower. That was, until it moved! Then I thought it was a moving pinecone, but the rational brain took over and realised it was a live animal.
We had a friendly neighbourhood echidna in our backyard! To those in the northern hemisphere, the echidna is basically our version of the porcupine.
I had nearly mowed down an iconic animal that lives on Australia's 5c coin! It's probably pretty safe to say the little guy would have been pretty traumatised from the event. Luckily I didn't make contact with him, and when I noticed what it was I backed up and shut down the mower to call the family outside for a look.
We think he had wandered into our backyard from a neighbouring fence that is close to bushland. After about an hour he managed to wander back into the neighbours yard and then off to what we think is his home in the bush. We haven't seen him again since.
Another exciting bit of adulthood for the month was when our couch finally arrived to complete our loungeroom. We ordered it 5 months beforehand and we were excited for it to arrive.
Up until that point, we had outside furniture inside, which did the trick. Now we've shifted the outside furniture to it's rightful home outside and are able to enjoy the big new couch!
It arrived just in time because we got out of lockdown that Friday, which meant we could have visitors from outside of the house. Since it was coming up to the second week of the school holidays, my mother and sister made the trip down to Orange to see the kids, and them take them back to Cobar for a week away.
The kids were super excited about that, and wanted to leave with them as soon as they arrived at our house on the Saturday. Poor kids, they had to stick it out for an additional two days at their parents house!
We made the most of our new freedom and enjoyed a meal out and a few drinks with family at home. A pretty good end to month.
September was a spendy month for us. We had the remainder to pay off our new lounge, as well as some other household furnishings for the spare room (we're turning it into an office / toy room). All of that added up to well over $10k for the month.
An unexpected cost that needed to be paid for was the new air conditioner for our property in Cobar. In total that was $6,400 and we had to pay the final half of that in September. Thank the lord for the emergency fund!
So in total we easily forked out over $15k, which meant zero savings for the month. The good news is we've purchased the majority of the "big" house items so we shouldn't see any massive expenditures for the house in the near future.
One recent change we've made to our financial plan is to put a pause on investing for now, and save aggressively for a house deposit. Currently we're in a one year lease with a rental property, which will be up for renewal in May 2022.
To be honest, I'm not too keen to shell out a ridiculous amount of money just for a house to live in. Especially if the money is coming out of our pocket and not coming back into our pocket like it would with an investment property. But this decision is more of a lifestyle and stability one. We plan on staying in this town for the foreseeable future and would like to have something we can call our own.
Property prices here have gone through the roof over the last two years, and they don't look like slowing down anytime soon. For what we're looking for, it will likely be upward of $800k, which sounds bonkers when you say it out loud.
So that's our next big focus. Buy a house. Most likely within the next year. Hopefully it can all work out!
NET WORTH SNAPSHOT
Due to our heavy cash spending for the month and the market not doing so well, our net worth dropped by $21k. This isn't a surprise for us and we're not bothered by the market not performing well in September. I still actively contribute 5% more than the 10% minimum to my Super account (so 15% total from my gross wage), so that contribution should add around $25k to my Superannuation portfolio each year.
Currently we have $21k in our SelfWealth account, spread over 3 ETFs. Since we've chosen not to add anymore to it each month until we buy a house, this amount will sit there and continue to grow (and drop sometimes) until we come back to it.
In October we'll likely finalise all the Christmas gifts and have no big unplanned spend events. So we should see our net worth tick back up again.
Blake - FIRE with a family