Author Topic: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?  (Read 2839 times)

GuyinTexas

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Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« on: May 08, 2019, 05:46:55 PM »
Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?

Life Situation: IRS filing single, 0 dependents (withholdings are at 2 I believe), Texas.
Gross Salary: ~$86k/yr

Individual amounts of Pre-tax deductions:
401k - $4,250
HSA - $3,500
Medical - $2,895
Parking - $1,105
Dental - $817

Other income: None

Adjusted Gross Income:  $72,433

Taxes:
Estimated Federal: $9,091
Social Security: $4,861
Medicare - $1,136.98

Current Expenses
Rent: $875/mo
Car Payment - $545/mo
Car Warranty $129/mo
Car Fuel: $120-$160/mo
Parking Garage: $85/mo
Tolls: $80/mo
Car Insurance: $109/mo
Grocery : $440/mo
Dates / Dining out : $400/mo
2 Gym Memberships - $50/mo
Apartment Electricity - $50/mo
Home Internet - $54/mo
iPhone X Payment : $56.16
Cell Phone Unlimited Data Plan: $90/mo
Current Monthly Expenses: $3,083.16

Assets: As of April 16, 2019:
401k Ė $49,754.44 (contributing 6% currently)
Roth IRA Ė $3,951.47(no set amount but trying to max out annually starting 2019)
Total Retirement: $53.7k

Depreciating Assets value as of May 2019:
Car - Trade-in Worth ~$15k
DSLR - ~$500
MacBook Pro 15" 2018 - $1,900
Road Bike - $800
Apple Watch - $300
iPhone X - $600
Current Depreciating Assets Value: $19,100


Current Liabilities:
Car Loan Current Payoff: $9,106 (originally financed $31,107.45 at 1.9% APR in March 2016)
iPhone X Loan : $730.24 (0%, 12 more payments to go)
Car Warranty: $1,421.75 (paying $129.25 a month) - Covers me until March 2024 or 120k miles which ever comes sooner
Dental Related: Owe $2,480 gets taken out of HSA
Total Debt: $13,737.99

My commute to work is about 32 miles per day round trip. On a good day that is 70 minutes. On a bad day itís closer to an hour and 45 minutes. I have looked at apartments closer to work but those are around $1400/mo.

841 FICO Score, pay my bills on-time, paid about $10k in taxes last year which seems like a ton. I am probably one of the more frugal people in my friends circles and amongst my coworkers. Iím not where I want to be at this age. I did consider selling the car but $9k out of $81 is really not that much.

Taxable Earnings By Year (slightly altered):

2018    $                                                              81,605.30
2017    $                                                              65,843.08
2016    $                                                              61,385.55
2015    $                                                              56,039.90
2014    $                                                              55,278.66
2013    $                                                              48,198.75
2012    $                                                              29,655.31
2011    $                                                              15,512.47
2010    $                                                              17,597.38
2009    $                                                              29,854.11
2008    $                                                              35,763.20
2007    $                                                              29,099.87
2006    $                                                              25,524.45
2005    $                                                              18,431.55
2004    $                                                              14,599.38
2003    $                                                              11,427.56
2002    $                                                              12,910.08
2001    $                                                                6,358.63
2000    $                                                                7,289.70
1999    $                                                                1,922.08

Looking for advice from those who are more successful from me. What should I be doing now that I'm not doing? I'd like to be early retirement optional 15 years from now in the year 2034. That would make me 50 years old.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 10:58:27 PM by MBAVisionary »

Goldielocks

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Re: 35 On The Grind
« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2019, 05:51:27 PM »
You have a large salary.  Your goal is to get to $150k ASAP in retirement monies or other savings.
Once you are there, then the pressure is off.  You can let it ride for another 25+ years and it will be enough, with reduced SS, to live on.   It is an awesome gift that you give to yourself.

Along the way, grow and foster your relationships with friends / Sign. Others.  Spend a bit of time / money being with others however that looks for you.  You do not want to be 50 years old without a "family" around you.

Freedomin5

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Re: 35 On The Grind
« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2019, 05:58:20 PM »
Stop buying new vehicles every few years. Drive the one you currently own into the ground.

Once your phone is paid off, use that phone until it dies. Or sell the phone if possible and get a cheaper phone (if it makes financial sense to do so).

Is there any possibility of biking to the train station to get to work?

Youíre single and making a good salary. Challenge yourself to save at least 50% of your salary this year.

GuyinTexas

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Re: 35 On The Grind
« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2019, 08:58:17 PM »
You have a large salary.  Your goal is to get to $150k ASAP in retirement monies or other savings.
Once you are there, then the pressure is off.  You can let it ride for another 25+ years and it will be enough, with reduced SS, to live on.   It is an awesome gift that you give to yourself.

Along the way, grow and foster your relationships with friends / Sign. Others.  Spend a bit of time / money being with others however that looks for you.  You do not want to be 50 years old without a "family" around you.

At my current salary hitting $150k does seem doable in the next 3 years. Sooner if I were to pick up a side job, get promoted, etc. I completely agree with you friendships are important. I have friends scattered across the country and have no siblings. A few friends suggested I move to a higher CoL area that is more gay-friendly but I'm not so sold on the idea of paying state income tax and having rent be 3 times what I pay just to be in a vibrant urban community. One of my friends makes a 6 figure salary, yet is currently sleeping on a couch due to some poor financial decisions he made. Expensive taste, and medical bills mostly. This is after filing for bankruptcy. So maybe not the best example.

My iPhone X does basically everything I need a phone to do for the next year, likely 2. Plenty of space, great camera for taking video, lightweight. Plus I have a DSLR for more professional quality shots. Don't see myself upgrading again anytime soon.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: 35 On The Grind
« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2019, 09:22:57 PM »
Just some feedback, this is a tough case study to read. Itíd be helpful if you followed the suggested format with income and expenses. Your history of spending over the years isnít helpful. Youíre humans we all have things we regret. Focus on what youíre doing right. Also, what is your goal? You want to FIRE? If so, what time frame? If not, then what? Work backwards from that. There are other sections to address your dating life. You might want to keep a journal in that section. Use this to get you financially closer to where you want to be. Whatís helped me is tracking my net worth and reducing my spending and when I do spend, outside of food, focusing on experiences, not things.

GuyinTexas

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Re: 35 On The Grind
« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2019, 09:51:31 PM »
Stop buying new vehicles every few years. Drive the one you currently own into the ground.

Once your phone is paid off, use that phone until it dies. Or sell the phone if possible and get a cheaper phone (if it makes financial sense to do so).

Is there any possibility of biking to the train station to get to work?

Youíre single and making a good salary. Challenge yourself to save at least 50% of your salary this year.

I'm never buying a new car again. This is my third one in 8 years. Even a 1-3 year old one is substantially cheaper. I use my iPhone for everything, it's like crack. All my social media apps, streaming to my tv, financial apps, work and personal email, pictures, acessing paystubs, apple pay at the store, use my data plan for my laptop to access internet in certain public places with bad wifi, and HBO. It also syncs with my Apple Watch that I use for walking and biking. I love tech, guess I'm tied into the ecosystem. Though just because I love it doesn't mean I need to pay for the latest and greatest all the time.

I did downgrade to a cheaper cell phone plan from what I had. It's 89.53 a month, was $101.06. I don't have cable tv at home just internet for about $53/mo. I switched electricity providers recently, cut my bill almost in half. I kinda feel like all my "little" bills have been piling up. $50 to $100 here or there. All those bills add up, gas ($120-$160/mo), tolls ($80/mo), parking in the work garage ($84/mo) insurance ($109/mo), HSA ($264/mo), dates and dining out ($400-600/mo), Roth IRA contribution (ideally $400/mo).

On the topic of commute. I pulled some numbers. It would be a 15-20 minute drive to get to the train station, 37 minute train assuming there are no delays. A train monthly pass would be $96.00/month. I honestly didn't feel safe at the train station just walking by in the daytime. Lots of homeless people, panhandlers. There have been a few violent incidents on the train or at the station.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2019, 11:20:45 PM by MBAVisionary »

GuyinTexas

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Re: 35 On The Grind
« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2019, 09:54:01 PM »
Just some feedback, this is a tough case study to read. Itíd be helpful if you followed the suggested format with income and expenses. Your history of spending over the years isnít helpful. Youíre humans we all have things we regret. Focus on what youíre doing right. Also, what is your goal? You want to FIRE? If so, what time frame? If not, then what? Work backwards from that. There are other sections to address your dating life. You might want to keep a journal in that section. Use this to get you financially closer to where you want to be. Whatís helped me is tracking my net worth and reducing my spending and when I do spend, outside of food, focusing on experiences, not things.

I was in a rush when I posted. Didn't even see the sticky. I will rewrite.

MoneyizHere

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2019, 08:19:38 AM »
You've got to adjust your thinking.  Sure its $1400/month for apartment close to work - but you'll save much more than that if you took the right steps along the way.  You obviously do not want a long commute - and the commute is sucking all your wealth, and your time and your sanity.  Move closer to work within walking/biking distance. 


1.  Get a roomy / split the cost of the rent and move closer to work (enough that you could bike to work, walk for groceries)- you could probably be about the same rent as right now...
2.  Make sure the apartment has a gym so you could cancel your membership.
3.  Sell the car - get a used car that you could pay with cash from your car sale - then you won't have a car payment (then reduce your insurance coverage to liability only). Or if you think you really don't need the car that much later on - get on the ride-share instead of paying for a car - use it only when you need to I guess.  You're currently spending $13k a year on transport.  Thats alot of ride-shares (especially if your normal commute is a bike ride from an apartment closer to work).  You won't have the parking garage fee, probably cut your gas consumption to 1 tank a month, reduce in tolls
4.  Cell Phone plan - get together with friends and split a family plan -you could halve your cell phone plan (still being unlimited everything) - if you switch carriers and buddy up - the iphone would be free for a family plan of 4 btw on tmobile - then you sell that extra iphone. 
5.  Then increase your 401k contribution to be 22% (which would max out your 401k @ $19k). You'll be surprised how much less tax you're hit with if you did this. 
6.  Instead of ROTH do TIRA instead max at $6k. 
7.  review your Dental insurance - that seems pricey to me - if you don't have much work needed to be done - then you could get an annual cleaning for about $200 cash (maybe cheaper if you negotiate).
8.  If you have anything left over - I think you invest the rest in taxable funds (or even better if your work 401k allows after tax contributions after filling that 19k pretax- to do after tax contributions to mega-back-door to ROTH account (since you like roth investing).

You'll hit your number by 50 and you'll be happy that you moved closer to work and got out from that horrid commute. 

Tuskalusa

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2019, 08:43:46 AM »
Youíre in good shape. A few suggestions.

Pay off phone and then switch to Cricket wireless or similar provider. You can get you bill down to about $40 per month with unlimited data. Keep you phone till it dies. Moving forward only buy phones for cash (you can usually get good deals on refurbished phones on eBay.)

I agree with the advice to reconsider living closer to work. You the rent trade off is worth the time trade off.

If you love your car, keep it and aggressively work to pay it off early. If you can sell and get a cheaper car for cash, this would be a good option too. Especially if you decide to move closer. A reduction/elimination of car payments could offset an increase in rent.

The great thing here is that weíre just talking about moves to optimize you financial plan. You have a solid foundation here. That gives you a great opportunity to optimize fir the future.

DeepEllumStache

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2019, 09:35:46 AM »
Do you work downtown (pretty sure your original post mentioned the city and your commute sounds like a downtown one)? If so, there are apartment options that are much closer in nice areas that are cheaper than $1400/month. The safe, fancy area I used to live in has 1 bedrooms for ~$1k a month and had a 20 minute driving commute on backstreets. Or biking on trails (though downtown biking can be frightening). Craigslist also has options. Or find something on the train line. You probably are focusing on the areas that attract young professionals but those are overpriced.

You are spending $840/month on food for one person between the groceries and dining out. This blows my mind. If you spent less time and mental energy on your painful commute, you could free up some serious savings. Aldi is crazy cheap and ubiquitous in the area. Your grocery budget could be cut in half easily. The budget bites website has great recipe options. Dates can be done for much cheaper with the added bonus of more frugal dates being a good filter for partners who also value being financially responsible.

MDM

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2019, 09:40:48 AM »
Individual amounts of Pre-tax deductions:
401k - $4,250
Why not $19K?

See Investment Order for more.

Goldielocks

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2019, 09:52:33 AM »
You've got to adjust your thinking.  Sure its $1400/month for apartment close to work - but you'll save much more than that if you took the right steps along the way.  You obviously do not want a long commute - and the commute is sucking all your wealth, and your time and your sanity.  Move closer to work within walking/biking distance. 


1.  Get a roomy / split the cost of the rent and move closer to work (enough that you could bike to work, walk for groceries)- you could probably be about the same rent as right now...
2.  Make sure the apartment has a gym so you could cancel your membership.
3.  Sell the car - get a used car that you could pay with cash from your car sale - then you won't have a car payment (then reduce your insurance coverage to liability only). Or if you think you really don't need the car that much later on - get on the ride-share instead of paying for a car - use it only when you need to I guess.  You're currently spending $13k a year on transport.  Thats alot of ride-shares (especially if your normal commute is a bike ride from an apartment closer to work).  You won't have the parking garage fee, probably cut your gas consumption to 1 tank a month, reduce in tolls
4.  Cell Phone plan - get together with friends and split a family plan -you could halve your cell phone plan (still being unlimited everything) - if you switch carriers and buddy up - the iphone would be free for a family plan of 4 btw on tmobile - then you sell that extra iphone. 
5.  Then increase your 401k contribution to be 22% (which would max out your 401k @ $19k). You'll be surprised how much less tax you're hit with if you did this. 
6.  Instead of ROTH do TIRA instead max at $6k. 
7.  review your Dental insurance - that seems pricey to me - if you don't have much work needed to be done - then you could get an annual cleaning for about $200 cash (maybe cheaper if you negotiate).
8.  If you have anything left over - I think you invest the rest in taxable funds (or even better if your work 401k allows after tax contributions after filling that 19k pretax- to do after tax contributions to mega-back-door to ROTH account (since you like roth investing).

You'll hit your number by 50 and you'll be happy that you moved closer to work and got out from that horrid commute.

I certainly agree that moving closer to downtown and giving up a car could be an ideal situation even with more rent, would net less costs.   
If you don't live close to your friend -centre now, and they are downtown, or would meet up more easily downtown, that is a win.  With a place downtown, you could have friends over to your place instead of eating out for your get-togethers.  Make it potluck (they bring the booze, you cook the spaghetti), etc.

Couples and families do better moving out further from work, but they are not looking for a social scene anymore.

In regards to moving to a HCOL area - if you save that $150k for retirement in 3 years, you then have the freedom to move anywhere that you can get a job.  At that point, you can reduce your savings to the "normal" 5% for retirement, plus savings for vacations / cars / emergencies, and spend the rest, if you like... as long as you are willing to work through age 60+.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2019, 09:54:59 AM by Goldielocks »

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: 35 On The Grind
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2019, 08:13:00 PM »
Just some feedback, this is a tough case study to read. Itíd be helpful if you followed the suggested format with income and expenses. Your history of spending over the years isnít helpful. Youíre humans we all have things we regret. Focus on what youíre doing right. Also, what is your goal? You want to FIRE? If so, what time frame? If not, then what? Work backwards from that. There are other sections to address your dating life. You might want to keep a journal in that section. Use this to get you financially closer to where you want to be. Whatís helped me is tracking my net worth and reducing my spending and when I do spend, outside of food, focusing on experiences, not things.

I was in a rush when I posted. Didn't even see the sticky. I will rewrite.

See, thatís much better. Next people will say, follow the investment order and max out your pre-tax retirement accounts, then create a plan to eliminate your debts. Then develop a budget and stay on track. If youíre giving yourself 15 years, you need $930k to maintain your current lifestyle but you should also think about, how will your life be different when you Retire? Do you want to travel? What will that budget look like? I have a now and then budget and build my stache goals off my then budget (and that budget is generous).

GuyinTexas

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2019, 11:01:29 PM »
Do you work downtown (pretty sure your original post mentioned the city and your commute sounds like a downtown one)? If so, there are apartment options that are much closer in nice areas that are cheaper than $1400/month. The safe, fancy area I used to live in has 1 bedrooms for ~$1k a month and had a 20 minute driving commute on backstreets. Or biking on trails (though downtown biking can be frightening). Craigslist also has options. Or find something on the train line. You probably are focusing on the areas that attract young professionals but those are overpriced.

You are spending $840/month on food for one person between the groceries and dining out. This blows my mind. If you spent less time and mental energy on your painful commute, you could free up some serious savings. Aldi is crazy cheap and ubiquitous in the area. Your grocery budget could be cut in half easily. The budget bites website has great recipe options. Dates can be done for much cheaper with the added bonus of more frugal dates being a good filter for partners who also value being financially responsible.

Being objective, I got too fancy and let lifestyle creep set in. Also Downtown / Uptown areas in Dallas are kinda pricey. A drink or two, appetizer, and an entree. Looking at $40+ tip easily. Then going out with friends for dinner in Irving, I got a drink, entree, and dessert. $30+ tip. That and eating out maybe twice a week say a day of lunch during the workweek ($10), and takeout Chinese ($15). This week I brought lunch with me to work 5 days. I told my bf I was spending too much eating out, he too is guilty of the same thing. So he made dinner for the both of us. He's saving to buy a house come year end so I think positive habits can benefit both of us.

I am getting increasingly eager to move somewhere new. Been in the same general area 8 years and almost 5 in this 1br apartment. Think laying all the options on the table is a good start. A 10-15 minute walk or drive to work would literally be nothing, basically cutting my commute time 75%.

My grocery bill ranges from $70-100 a week usually. I shop at Sprouts which is healthier than some of the other options but the packaged goods aren't cheap. I could start using some coupons, leverage my costco membership more, cook meals that are healthy but have a lower cost per meal. I have a pressure cooker and a slow cooker both of which make it a lot easier.

jeroly

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2019, 04:39:17 AM »
Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?

Life Situation: IRS filing single, 0 dependents (withholdings are at 2 I believe), Texas.
Gross Salary: ~$86k/yr

Individual amounts of Pre-tax deductions:
401k - $4,250
HSA - $3,500
Medical - $2,895
Parking - $1,105
Dental - $817

Other income: None

Adjusted Gross Income:  $72,433

Taxes:
Estimated Federal: $9,091
Social Security: $4,861
Medicare - $1,136.98

Current Expenses
Rent: $875/mo
Car Payment - $545/mo
Car Warranty $129/mo
Car Fuel: $120-$160/mo
Parking Garage: $85/mo
Tolls: $80/mo
Car Insurance: $109/mo
Grocery : $440/mo
Dates / Dining out : $400/mo
2 Gym Memberships - $50/mo
Apartment Electricity - $50/mo
Home Internet - $54/mo
iPhone X Payment : $56.16
Cell Phone Unlimited Data Plan: $90/mo
Current Monthly Expenses: $3,083.16

Assets: As of April 16, 2019:
401k Ė $49,754.44 (contributing 6% currently)
Roth IRA Ė $3,951.47(no set amount but trying to max out annually starting 2019)
Total Retirement: $53.7k

Depreciating Assets value as of May 2019:
Car - Trade-in Worth ~$15k
DSLR - ~$500
MacBook Pro 15" 2018 - $1,900
Road Bike - $800
Apple Watch - $300
iPhone X - $600
Current Depreciating Assets Value: $19,100


Current Liabilities:
Car Loan Current Payoff: $9,106 (originally financed $31,107.45 at 1.9% APR in March 2016)
iPhone X Loan : $730.24 (0%, 12 more payments to go)
Car Warranty: $1,421.75 (paying $129.25 a month) - Covers me until March 2024 or 120k miles which ever comes sooner
Dental Related: Owe $2,480 gets taken out of HSA
Total Debt: $13,737.99

My commute to work is about 32 miles per day round trip. On a good day that is 70 minutes. On a bad day itís closer to an hour and 45 minutes. I have looked at apartments closer to work but those are around $1400/mo.

841 FICO Score, pay my bills on-time, paid about $10k in taxes last year which seems like a ton. I am probably one of the more frugal people in my friends circles and amongst my coworkers. Iím not where I want to be at this age. I did consider selling the car but $9k out of $81 is really not that much.

Taxable Earnings By Year (slightly altered):

2018    $                                                              81,605.30
2017    $                                                              65,843.08
2016    $                                                              61,385.55
2015    $                                                              56,039.90
2014    $                                                              55,278.66
2013    $                                                              48,198.75
2012    $                                                              29,655.31
2011    $                                                              15,512.47
2010    $                                                              17,597.38
2009    $                                                              29,854.11
2008    $                                                              35,763.20
2007    $                                                              29,099.87
2006    $                                                              25,524.45
2005    $                                                              18,431.55
2004    $                                                              14,599.38
2003    $                                                              11,427.56
2002    $                                                              12,910.08
2001    $                                                                6,358.63
2000    $                                                                7,289.70
1999    $                                                                1,922.08

Looking for advice from those who are more successful from me. What should I be doing now that I'm not doing? I'd like to be early retirement optional 15 years from now in the year 2034. That would make me 50 years old.

The fact that you are saving does put you on the right track, but your spendy spending keeps you off the fast track. There are a bunch of things that you can do to accelerate. Some of them are super easy.

1. You are spending an insane amount for your cell service / phone.  Switch to something like Mint or Republic Wireless. Heck, even T-Mobile would save you $360/yr. If you absolutely adore your phone, and can't give it up, don't. Don't replace it in a year with the shiny new model, either.

2. You do not need two gym memberships (you could just pick up running and avoid 'needing' any, but that's a different story). Cancel the one you use less.

3. You are spending an INSANE amount on your car.  You are spending, when you add it all up, $13,000/year!!! (That's in line with what the spendy top 20% of American households, with their $188,000 average incomes, spend on their clown cars!)

- Do you really need to pay for parking??? In Texas??? I have lived in NYC and DC and have never needed to pay for parking, even when I've needed to manage two cars!
 
- I am sceptical about the value of your warranty - is it cancellable?

- Your insurance seems high. Look to increase your deductibles to the highest possible level, and cancel your collision and comprehensive when you've paid off the car loan. This will save a bunch. Drop uneconomical coverages like roadside assistance. Shop around with GEICO, USAA, Progressive, etc. This is easy to do these days and you can even get online quotes.

- as said earlier, drive that car into the ground, and the next time buy a 4-6 year old car with low mileage on which someone else has already taken the depreciation hit.

- if you can't reduce the miles you commute, look into carpooling, public transportation, and telecommuting.  Carpooling might also let you use HOV lanes / avoid some tolls.

- even with all that commute driving your spending on gas seems insanely high. What's the mpg on your car? At 30 mpg, 160 mpw, you'd be paying $2.60x5.33x4.33=$60/month

4.  Moving forward, the key is to be satisfied with what you have and not to spend more than you do currently.  Bank all raises, bonuses, etc. If you do that and you see your income grow to $150k, you'll be financially independent in no time flat, even if you maintain your current spendy habits!

GuyinTexas

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #15 on: May 13, 2019, 01:03:56 AM »
Writing this at 2am, so apologies in advance. This posting more than anything made me realize how stubborn and defensive how I am about certain things. I'm actively looking for apartments closer to work. It's kind of weird how I could go 5 miles south, have rent go up 50% and the length of a commute go unchanged.

I've seen firsthand how undesireable some of the places are closer to work. Almost everyday I pass two different homeless shelters. The city has over 4k homeless walking the streets. I see people pushing carts, carrying bags of clothes. Some of them have visible issues with alcoholism, mental health, or drug use. Some of the places smell like urine. Yes these people do need a place to live. I'm taking a stand though in saying I don't want to be around them. My first day walking in the area after an interview I had two people ask me for money.

I thought about roommates. I'm really not that close to any of my friends, and really value my personal space. The idea of living in close quarters with a stranger terrifies me a bit. Especially in a 700sq foot place with almost no privacy. I grew up with no siblings, in a 5 br. house. Maybe that makes me spoiled. I think toughing things out another year might be the best option at this point. Currently I pay $10k/yr in rent. One of these downtown apartments would start at $15k yr, something I really like is $20k/yr. Every choice has pros and cons.

My action plan:
1. Cancel the gym membership I use once a week. It's too crowded if I go right after work and a few of their treadmills are just broken.
12*10.77 = 129.24  + 52.99 = $182.23

2. Keep the car warranty and the car. $4k + for a CVT replacement (see attached). These things need to be babied in order to last. Car is past the initial depreciation hit, makes sense to drive it until the wheels fall off. Probably 150-200k or 7-10 years. I've driven smaller / slower cars before. They don't feel safe when I'm around huge semis or pickups doing 75+ on the highway. Get gas at costco when it makes sense distance-wise. Car gets 24mpg. My city is really spread out, over 300 square miles. Not really bike friendly and I can't telecommute.
Savings: 30 cents a gallon * 18 = $5.40 * 52 = $280.

3. Focus on making my dollar last longer. If I go out and have the opportunity to choose, pick more affordable places. Cook more at home, continue not spending $11 on a takeout salad near work. Don't be afraid to go to the ethnic stores if I can get a better deal than Whole Paycheck, or the local farmers market. Use coupons. I think I can save $20/week on my dining / activities bills by doing this.
Savings: $20*52=$1,040/yr.

4. Discontinue my obsession with having the latest and greatest. Even things a generation old still have most of the function of something brand new and cutting edge. I can only use my current GSM iPhone X on AT&T or T-Mobile. T-Mobile's service is way worse and an unlimited plan costs about the same as with AT&T.

5. Save on everything. Switch to a credit card that offers 3% cashback for a year and 1.5% (Chase Freedom Unlimited) after that instead of 1% with 5% rotating categories that don't always appeal to me.

6. Follow the order of investing. Put back $2k in the emergency fund. This should take no more than 8 weeks. Go back to fully funding the 401k as much as possible. This has much lower fees than Betterment + ETFs. I paid $15k in taxes last year. Lowering that burden important to me. 50% savings rate would be nice but my short-term overhead I think it too high for that. 20% is possible with some more disciplined spending.

7. Continue investing in myself. Time, money, My income isn't set in stone. There are people out there who earn $150k, $200k, $300k per year. This could involve a move at some point in the next 3-5 years.

8. Research alternative auto insurance carriers. I have $1k deductible for collision, $500 for liability, uninsured motorist coverage and the car I drive is 300hp so that commands a premium over say a 2012 Honda Fit.

9. Cancelled YouTube Premium. I didn't mention it before here, but I pay $12.99/mo to have an ad-free experience on YT. I don't use any of the other features. That's bonkers. $156 a year. Will experiment and see how I feel about it.

10. Keeping my dental insurance. Orthodontia is expensive and I'm currently getting more of a benefit than I'm paying each year.

11. Remember to live. I went years focusing on paying debt and not really wanting to do anything. I think balance is important. Lots of fun things can be done with a reasonable budget. This weekend I did brunch for $12 including tip, biking around town with friends, $3 popsicles. Saw a show for $40, carpooled so I saved on parking / gas.  Drank water for $3 instead of wine for $8. I'm not seats to a big name musician's concert for $250 a pop. I do know people who have though.

I know I'm not perfect but these changes can go a long way. I appreciate everyone's comments!

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #16 on: May 13, 2019, 10:18:07 AM »
You are spending $144/month on internet (home internet + unlimited data).    That's, um, a lot.  Home internet pricing sucks in Texas, so that's not gonna get much lower.

Will your phone work with ting?  We use ting - you pay $6/month +  only for what you use.  It's $10/Gb per data.  Are you using more than 90 Gb of data every month?  And, if so, can that ratchet back, by using wifi more or doing more offline?

For you, this is going to end up being more of an opportunity to question your lifestyle and philosophies.   Commuting sucks, and it's expensive - not just the parking and tolls, but also the increase in packaged foods.  (Your grocery bill is about 75% of what I spend for 5 people, and I don't consider myself that mustachian with groceries.)   

My family is slowly cutting expenses by looking at what we want our lifestyle to be like and working our way in that direction.  Have you read Your Money or Your Life?  That might help you to focus yourself on what you truly value, and make sure that your spending reflects that.

DeepEllumStache

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #17 on: May 13, 2019, 11:37:52 AM »
This is a pretty consumerism focused city so itís hard to balance that with fiscal responsibility. Learning to step back and viewing your decisions with a Mustachian eye will be helpful.

Cutting your commute will be a huge win in terms of time, healthy lifestyle, and general stress. Iím glad youíre looking at it. Also thereís the benefit of if you move into the city, then you can use the massive public library systemís branch downtown. That cut our book/movie spending, you put a hold online and run in to pick it up when they have it set it aside. Plus they have a solid ebook selection too.

Slow cookers are awesome. Consider batch cooking on Sundays to have easy to bring meals for work.

GuyinTexas

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #18 on: May 15, 2019, 11:17:11 PM »
You are spending $144/month on internet (home internet + unlimited data).    That's, um, a lot.  Home internet pricing sucks in Texas, so that's not gonna get much lower.

Will your phone work with ting?  We use ting - you pay $6/month +  only for what you use.  It's $10/Gb per data.  Are you using more than 90 Gb of data every month?  And, if so, can that ratchet back, by using wifi more or doing more offline?

For you, this is going to end up being more of an opportunity to question your lifestyle and philosophies.   Commuting sucks, and it's expensive - not just the parking and tolls, but also the increase in packaged foods.  (Your grocery bill is about 75% of what I spend for 5 people, and I don't consider myself that mustachian with groceries.)   

My family is slowly cutting expenses by looking at what we want our lifestyle to be like and working our way in that direction.  Have you read Your Money or Your Life?  That might help you to focus yourself on what you truly value, and make sure that your spending reflects that.

Ting sounds really interesting, more for my parents who use very little data than myself though. Even cutting my data usage back significantly I'm looking at 9GB/mo. The wi-fi at work blocks a lot of secure messaging apps which my friends like to use. I use lots of data for basically everything - music, gps, youtube, social media, backup for my laptop when wi-fi isn't available. I'm starting to see the benefits even after a week of eating out less. Still working on planning my meals ahead of time. I came home from work tonight after having grabbing a drink and slept for literally 2 hours.

One win today was finally cancelling that gym membership. Saving $182 a year. Doesn't sound like a lot but that covers my gasoline usage for 5+ weeks.

For home internet I may switch back to Frontier. They have a $29.99 50/50 plan or a 39.99 250/250 plan for 24 months. There is an installation / activation fee which I think is $69. Hoping the issues with customer service I had last time around have been resolved. Some apartment complexes only offer AT&T, Spectrum or Frontier FiOS, kinda makes a big difference if I could be moving in August.

CoffeeR

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #19 on: May 15, 2019, 11:28:43 PM »
4. Discontinue my obsession with having the latest and greatest. Even things a generation old still have most of the function of something brand new and cutting edge. I can only use my current GSM iPhone X on AT&T or T-Mobile. T-Mobile's service is way worse and an unlimited plan costs about the same as with AT&T.
You can go with AT&T Prepaid or Cricket or one of the many MNO's such as Red Pocket.

Tuskalusa

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #20 on: May 16, 2019, 07:49:25 AM »
Another vote for Cricket. We have 3 iPhones on Cricket with unlimited data for $100. Service seems no different from AT&T.

mlipps

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #21 on: May 16, 2019, 09:37:22 AM »
How has no one commented on the $130/month car warranty yet?? You own a nearly new car. Is there anyway to cancel that? Seems like a total waste of money.

Add me to the list of people who are baffled by your grocery spending as well. Also a single woman around the same age...I spend $250-300/month on average and I know I could cut this by $100 if I tried. I have a CSA subscription for meat from a local farm, eat tons of seafood, etc. I think you need to dig into that because I don't think I could spend $450/month if I tried.

In regards to the internet/cell phone situation--I've reluctantly switched to XFinity Mobile & must admit I have no difference whatsoever from my old unlimited Verizon plan. I also use a crazy amount of data & didn't want to stop...XFinity is unlimited for $50/month. Spectrum has the exact same deal except I think theirs might be $5 cheaper. Make sure you negotiate your internet plan to be as cheap as possible before you switch as they're obviously using it as a carrot to get customers to stay with them.

Lastly, stop counting your fancy electronics in your net worth. They're don't count. It's just a mental game you're playing with yourself to make yourself feel better about spending a lot of money on toys.

Enigma

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #22 on: May 16, 2019, 09:58:35 AM »
Ting sounds really interesting, more for my parents who use very little data than myself though. Even cutting my data usage back significantly I'm looking at 9GB/mo. The wi-fi at work blocks a lot of secure messaging apps which my friends like to use. I use lots of data for basically everything - music, gps, youtube, social media, backup for my laptop when wi-fi isn't available. I'm starting to see the benefits even after a week of eating out less. Still working on planning my meals ahead of time. I came home from work tonight after having grabbing a drink and slept for literally 2 hours.

One win today was finally cancelling that gym membership. Saving $182 a year. Doesn't sound like a lot but that covers my gasoline usage for 5+ weeks.

For home internet I may switch back to Frontier. They have a $29.99 50/50 plan or a 39.99 250/250 plan for 24 months. There is an installation / activation fee which I think is $69. Hoping the issues with customer service I had last time around have been resolved. Some apartment complexes only offer AT&T, Spectrum or Frontier FiOS, kinda makes a big difference if I could be moving in August.
Another option for your phone is StraightTalk sold at walmart (Any network).  You can stay on T-Mobile's network if that is good for you.  Cost is $45/month and includes 25GB at high speed interenet, unlimited talk, unlimited text, and then unlimited data at 2G network if you use up all your high speed.  Also the new iPhone isnt great because the 5G network is only recently rolling out.  I just had to replace my Galaxy phone and got a S7 (3 generations behind).  When I replaced my father's iPhone, I got him a iPhone 5.  The older generations cost me about $150 for a one time purchase.

I have a couple of friends in Dallas but I wouldnt consider them MMM.  They like to roll out the carpet when I visit and throw lavish parties.

Most of the expenses that I noticed was from your car.  Hey we all make mistakes and you just recently seem to have found MMM.  So learn from that one.  Other than that I think you are on a pretty good track.  Mostly because you are learning and now hearing other stories. 

Finances_With_Purpose

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Re: Reader Case Study - 35 On The Right Track?
« Reply #23 on: May 17, 2019, 01:21:25 PM »
Looks like you've already figured this out, but the car is driving tons of spending (literally).  For one, car warranties, like many other warranties, are basically worthless: you'd do better by insuring your own losses yourself.  Warranties are largely commissions.  Your warranty likely has all kinds of limitations in it that make it more valuable to the company issuing it and less valuable to you if you ever need to use it.  Warranty companies also like to dispute payouts, because they know that the people who buy warranties aren't terribly likely to have the time or disposable income to fight them on it (nor is it even worthwhile much of the time).  I rank them just above payday loan dealers in terms of scrupulousness. 

So, in the future, avoid car warranties.  Maybe you can cancel this one, but it sounds like you've decided to keep it for now. 

You want to get to a place - and you easily can - where you can self-insure the loss of your car itself.  What you really want to buy is insurance to cover things that you could not - like a $500k accident, or $1M umbrella policy.  It makes far less sense to insure against a $20,000-ish loss unless you *know* you're extremely high-risk.  (And if that's the case, then you really need to re-evaluate whether it makes sense to keep buying $20k-ish cars that you're going to ruin.  It doesn't sound at all like this is the case, which is why the warranty doesn't make any sense.) 

Own your own car, and you suddenly once again control your auto insurance amounts/coverage, and everything else.  Then you can really drive down that spending. 

Right now, you're buying a lot of fancy car and a little bit of retirement, when you could be buying exactly the opposite.  Though, to your credit, it sounds like you're moving things in the right direction.

It sounds like you realize this, but also, you want to knock this out now, while you're single and flexible.  The situation only gets more challenging as you introduce kids, houses, or other variables into the mix. 

One final idea, which I don't see mentioned here: band together with someone to buy your internet together/share.  You live in a place that monopolizes what it allows, which increases your costs.