April 2020 Progress Update

What happened in April? I deviated from my normal custom of writing the monthly update in “real time.” Due to the pandemic and its attendant uncertainty, I successfully managed to avoid checking our investment balances from March 31 until April 30. I was pleasantly surprised to see that we’d picked up nice gains during April to finish the month almost exactly where we were one year ago. 

This month was strange because a lot changed for us, while simultaneously nothing changed. April felt interminable and endless, yet here I am surprised that we’ve reached the end of the month. Let’s dive right in. 

Our state’s shelter in place order remained in effect and tightened, then loosened slightly at the end of the month. The midwest weather was unseasonably cold, which added insult to injury. We celebrated the birthdays of several neighbor friends at safe social distances. We seized the few good days by going for long hikes in the woods. One day we even cooked out and built a fire to make s’mores. Despite the circumstances, which interrupted our lives and routines, we found joy.

Mr. Vine’s layoff continued until the last week of April, when he was abruptly called back to work. We both had mixed feelings about his return. A significant pay cut was imposed which, although typical in this environment, is a huge bummer to our plans. 

I made a major career move in the middle of the month. That felt so awkward to do while we were all working remotely. I was sad not to say goodbyes to my team in person. The new job came with a big pay bump for me and is a different step in my career. So far, it feels like it was a good move. This job change will eventually require us to relocate a couple of hours away. We will phase in that move as the return to on-site work comes closer for me. We will share more about those details as the situation evolves. 

With both of us at home (even though I worked), it felt like a dress rehearsal for early retirement. We enjoyed the extended time together. Many of the things we have planned for early retirement, like going to see movies or socializing with friends, were reduced or canceled. Still, neither of us felt bored. Any disquieting feelings I had were around the uncertainty of our careers and the disruption to The Plan. Being halfway to financial independence provided so much financial security. It was nice to know that we could sustain a long period of unemployment if that’s how things turned out. 

Despite the job changes and layoff, our spending remained consistent overall. However the type of spending changed. We spent less on unnecessary items. But , we spent more on groceries than normal (mostly due to some minor stocking up). A bulk order of pork also became available for us, which led to larger than normal grocery expenses. We canceled our trip to Savannah, Georgia that we had planned for late May. Our semi-annual car insurance premiums were also paid in April, so that increased our numbers. Due to Mr. Vine’s furlough, we pulled back our investment amount, so you’ll see that drop on the chart. With his recall, we have increased our contributions again for May. 

It is time again for the quarterly update to our net worth chart. I already spoiled this by noting that it is down considerably from last August and December, to land about where it was a year ago. This is only the second quarterly dip we’ve had since we started tracking in 2017. We will just have to wait and see what happens for the rest of the year. 

Goal setting has been a strange exercise during this time. I tried to keep our goals low key for April, let’s see how we did:

April Goals:

  • Mr. Vine back to work
    • This was not a great goal because we had little control over it, but it happened!
  • No unplanned spending
    • I’m giving us full credit for this one. Our budget and spending looked decent for the month, despite several large expenses
  • Combine HSAs (Ms. Vine)
    • I actually put in all of the effort to figure out how to do this, only to discover that I need to print and mail a form to complete it. While typing this I realized that Mr. Vine can print this for me now that he’s back to work!
  • Stay healthy
    • We did this! Another bad goal because sort of vague and beyond our control, but we did it.
  • Declutter at least one area of apartment
    • I’m not sure if I had an area in mind, but I reorganized my closet and came up with a few items to send to new homes when donations are allowed again. I also organized and decluttered our paper files.
  • Maintain run streak
    • Done! It’s one of those things helping to keep me healthy and sane.

Here are our goals for May:

  • Combine HSAs (Ms. Vine)
  • Perfect month closing all activity rings
  • Clean out garage
  • Celebrate our anniversary
  • Stay healthy

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