Denali Northern Expenditure

Month: July 2020

Dipnetting: 2020

As a reminder, dipnetting is how we get our salmon for the whole year here in Alaska. I’ve explained the dipnetting process here and even shared our salmon recipe if you want to know how we cook it weekly.

This year I needed this dipnetting trip more than ever. We went with a family that is also avoiding other humans, stayed two nights, and it was so much of what I needed: sunshine, beach time, socializing time, etc. So therapeutic!

Penny and Florin tried dipnetting this year for the first time as well and each of them caught their first even salmon this year, so that was very exciting!

How did we do? It was a slow year. We worked hard and stayed two nights, but again, it was just what I needed. Total count: 25 salmon. – This equals just over 58 lbs of edible meat. The fish were also pretty small this year. Our smallest fillet: 9 oz (we’re going to try our hand at home smoking the little ones this year!). Biggest fillet: 30 oz (42 oz is our record).


Every year I calculate all the expenses associated with dipnetting to see just how good of a deal we’re getting on our salmon.


  • $58 – Fishing licenses for Mr. T and I.
  • $21.59 – Ice to keep the fish cool after catching.
  • $22.63 – Gas for the car (at least this cost is lower than previous years!)
  • $70 – The cost to camp on the beach two nights and drop our stuff off.
  • $139.99 – We used to get our salmon professionally smoked, but they went out of business, so we bought ourselves a smoker this year and decided to give it a try (no idea how that will go yet).
  • $22.32 – Blizzards at Dairy Queen for the whole family on the way home.
  • $79.99 – Waders for the girls. Price of them catching their first salmon: PRICELESS. (you saw that one coming, didn’t you?)

Total Costs: $414.52

Total Cost Per Pound: $7.15

It was our lowest meat haul since starting the blog and our most expensive per pound costs ever, but again, I feel like the therapy of going and doing was worth it. We actually got a vacation in the time of COVID and relaxation therapy. And with the salmon running pretty slow, I’m pretty happy with our haul.

For the first time, we kept the salmon bellies and smoked them. We also saved the salmon bellies from the friends that fished with us. They added up to an extra ten pounds of salmon. If you include those, it helps!

Total Cost Per Pound (Including Bellies): $6.10

What does salmon cost per pound where you are?

Q2 2020 Plan Update

Well, the world continues to explode around us and here I am posting on a useless blog. Some days, I feel like I could do so much more to solve the problems of the pandemic, systemic racism, gender inequities, the wealth gap, and SO MUCH MORE. I have poured my energy the past few months into two things: work (full-time COVID research) and teaching my children to care (translates to: talks to my children maybe WAY TOO MUCH about the above problems. Their generation is our hope). I remember learning about a year ago that some people actually thought men had NO benefits over women in society, employment, safety. IT BLEW MY MIND. Now, you can imagine my COMPLETE SHOCK AND ANGER to find out that people have this same belief about RACE. I mean, THAT IS NUTS. We have a huge history of terrible laws and policies that have held Black people back (starting with SLAVERY – no one should ever get over that). It’s been a quarter. In case it isn’t clear to you, I am a white, cis-gender woman with SO MUCH PRIVILEGE. My journey is completely unfairly weighted in my favor. You need to know that. And hopefully, we can make this journey more equitable for all!

In our “free time,” we continue the house projects which will be never ending. Most days, I’m so grateful for my wonderful life, but full-time COVID research causes a certain amount of existential angst I’ve tried to combat by spending more time reading in the sunshine in my new backyard.

The Money Stuff

This still feels like the least important conversation ever, at best, and unfair bragging at worst, but I committed to being transparent and that will continue. The most helpful thing to me on my journey was people sharing actual numbers. I hope ours can prove useful to someone else.

Still have a giant new (as of March) mortgage. $335,000. We are locked into a 15-year at 3%, so all logic indicates we should let it ride the full 15 years, but we’ll see if I last doing so. At least for now, we’re actively saving for an addition we have planned next summer, so other than rounding my monthly payments up to make them even (which adds a whopping $20 of extra principle a month!), we’re paying no extra on this.

I’m actually both grateful and furious the market hasn’t tanked yet. On the one hand, this is the kind of thing that causes me existential angst because I feel like the market is only still up because THE RICH PEOPLE ARE OKAY. And it’s SO UNFAIR. So while I’m angry the rich are getting richer in the midst of all this (while definitely realizing I’m counted among them!), I’m also glad we haven’t (yet) jumped into a depression because that will ALSO negatively impact people in terrible ways (primarily the poor, again). That being said, our investments currently sit at $317,000.

Also happy to report I finally updated to the widgets to the right. It’s been awhile. And I raised the $500,000 to $1,000,000 because even though we’re not there (or close), it feels possible now.

2020 Goals

With Mr. T and I both working, I had said that my goal was to max out all the retirement accounts for the first time ever. With the current climate, I’m not sure I’m going to do this. I currently plan to max out both of our 401ks and our 2019 Roth IRAs (this week!), but am unsure on 2020 Roths or a SEP-IRA. Mainly because I like cash hoarding and we also have an addition planned next summer… I might feel more comfortable now with more cash.

  • Max Out My 401k ($11,200/$19,500) – Fun fact: my company uses percentage of pay instead of actual dollar amounts, so I’m gonna have to play with that to get close.
  • Max Out Mr. T’s 401k ($7,700/$19,500) – Another fun fact: Mr. T’s work uses an arbitrary slider for contributions. So, he can contribute something $784 or $832, but no number in between… so, we’ll have to play with that to get close this year as well.
  • Max Out my Roth IRA for 2019 ($0/$6000) – with the extended July 15th deadline for this, we’ll maybe be able to do it!
  • Max Out Mr. T’s Roth IRA for 2019 ($0/$6000)
  • Max Out my Roth IRA for 2020 ($0/$6000)
  • Max Out Mr. T’s Roth IRA for 2020 ($0/$6000)
  • Figure out and Contribute to a SEP-IRA

Take Care of Yourselves

I ended our Q1 update this way, but I think it’s still important. Please take care of yourselves. If you live in the US, we’re in for a really bumpy ride. As of today, we’ve broken the 50,000 cases/day record and both case counts and hospitalizations are up or flat in every quadrant of the country. PLEASE avoid the 3 C’s: close contact, crowded places, and closed places. AND PLEASE WEAR A MASK IN PUBLIC.

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