Author Topic: Trying to figure out the next step in getting closer to MMM lifestyle.  (Read 452 times)

wirednuke83

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 26
Hi all,

My wife and I have been gradually improving our financial situation. This Monday I came across this website and started reading through the blog. I have some questions/request for advice at this point.

My story:

I was in the military, and originally my retirement plans consisted of staying in for 20 years and reaping the benefits of the pension. For various reasons, that journey ended at my 13 year point, and alas I do not have access to said pension. I did end up getting a disability rating, which supplies a small stipend of income every month.

So here I am in my early 30's with no 401k or retirement fund to speak of. I did see some of the writing on the wall, and my wife and I managed to pay off all our consumer debt and save up about 80,000 dollars before we left.

I didn't have any problem finding work, but my work is located in an extremely expensive area (because the wife wanted to live by family). This forced us to look about 45 mins- 1hr away to find a house and property taxes we could afford.

Good things we did:

So I make about 110k a year (including bonuses and disability) so I have a decent income, and great benefits in a very secure field (Energy utility). I am supposed to get a 21% raise after I finish my training.
I have a 6 month emergency fund in a high yield savings account (1.85% interest)
I am putting as much into my 401k as I can afford, but haven't maxed it yet. I plan on raising it up to the max once I get the raise.
I started a Roth IRA, and I maxed it for this year with savings and plan to use the tax-free disability money to continue maxing it out.
I still have about 17,000$ in liquid assets sitting in savings, that i'm not sure what to do with.

Stupid things we did (hind sight is 20-20): 

We used a VA loan and bought a 270k $ house at an interest rate of 3.25% (Looking back, this is a lot more than we probably should have spent)
We get a discount with GM, so I lease my wifes car at about 130$ a month, and I bought a new car at a large discount, but still pay way more than I should have (374$ a month, I owe about 26,000)... I guess the only plus side here is the interest rate is very low, and it gets 60 mpg so I don't spend much on gas.

Right now with our expenses we are able to put away about 20-25% of our annual income. (Which has been going to pay down the car instead of saving) Which means I am still a total slave to my poor choices.

My gut tells me to sell the cars, and unload the lease when its up (in 3 months) and find some less expensive transportation. I will feel pretty stupid in front of my family, selling a car at a loss right after buying it. But as I learn more, and do more math it's becoming hard to justify spending all that money on wheels. I do drive about 20,000 miles a year so it's nice to have reliable transportation with a warranty, but I could probably find something reliable at a much lower cost. My wife is also against selling the cars, but I think she doesn't want to look/feel stupid either.

We have unloaded our expensive cell phone plans, cut back on eating out, cut back the grocery bill, got rid of cable, and pretty much everything else that isn't essential to life.

As for the 17k in liquid assets, we do have a few repairs/rennovations we'd like to perform on the house that would cost a few thousand dollars, but what should I do with this money? Just park it in one of the vanguard funds?

Being financially independant seems a long way off/semi-impossible, but I am sick of being a slave at work, just to make other people rich. I want to retire before i'm 65, and we want to change to do it.

Any advice is appreciated,

Thanks,

Wired


bacchi

  • Magnum Stache
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  • Posts: 3121
You're actually in pretty good shape.

You should do a Case Study. There's a sticky post on how to construct one.

Does your wife work?

Yeah, your car note is high. Look at a slightly used hybrid -- same mpg but depreciation was paid for by the first owner.

wirednuke83

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
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  • Posts: 26
I will check out the case study thing.

The wife doesn't work right now, but in the Fall both kids will finally be in public school and she plans on finding a full time job. I think she'll pull in the neighborhood of 25-30k a year.

I agree about the car note, and I feel stupid about it. I'm going to have to run the numbers and figure out the best way to get out from under it.

Thanks,

Wired

Kierun

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  • Posts: 171
  • Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
Have you looked at the option of federal jobs?  Those military years would count towards your federal retirement so those 13 years won't be "lost".  You'd just buy back your military time for federal retirement.  You'd have to run the numbers in comparison to your current career path, at 110k/year and 21% increase, personally, it'd be tough for me to leave the private sector for federal.  I'd also consider how stable the career, life balance, growth potential, etc.

Additionally, you might have some funds in the TSP, have you looked to see if you did contribute?  It was a few years after I left the service that I realized I had some money chilling in the TSP.