Author Topic: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?  (Read 5793 times)

InsideOut

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FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« on: August 06, 2017, 12:14:21 PM »
Life Situation: Married; Both 37 years old.  My wife is self-employed.  Three children; 7,5,10 months.  Live in New England suburb.

Gross Salary/Wages: 2017 $162,064 ($93904 Me, $ 68,151 Wife)

Individual amounts of each Pre-tax deductions:
My 401k about 8k 2017.  On pace to max out at 18k this year.   Family Health and Dental Insurance $6,890 annually ($265 bi monthly paycheck)
 
Other Ordinary Income: N/A

Qualified Dividends & Long Term Capital Gains: None

Rental Income, Actual Expenses, and Depreciation: Have a rental property where mortgage payment and escrow is $1548/mnth.  Rent is $1380/mnth.  So since we are not cash flow positive here I thought I would just note it in this column.   

Adjusted Gross Income: $157,230 ($162,064-$4,815) (deductible self-employment tax.)
Income; $13,102/month


Current expenses:
Mortgage Primary Residence; $2,262 ($536 Principle, $1169 Int, $953 Escrow)
Rental Property; $2004 (Pay weekly with extra towards principle; Min payment $1,548 ($397 principle, $639 int, $513 Escrow)
Child Care; $2000
Groceries; $1500 (I know this is gross and it might be more.  Currently trying to first nail down and track with WNAB.  Between different stores, cards, farmers markets, tracking is weak here.  Food quality/health is a high value to our family but I know that we can do much better than this and most of this is straight sloppiness.
Eating out; $600 (Again, Face Punch!) Date night out about 3x per month and my wife buys lunch 2-3 days per week.
Wife Student Loans; $276 (2.25% int)
Car (GMC Acadia); $262 (2.6%)
Gas; $300
Electricity; $160
Heating (Gas); $200
Phone; $152
Car Insurance; $136
Clothing; $100 (Mostly Kids)
Personal Care; $100
Continuing Education; $130(One big conference per year and books, certs, ect)
Travel/Vacation; $350
College Funds; $135
Personal Care (Wifes Hair mostly); $100
Child Programs/Sports; $50
Roth IRA’s; $912 (Max out both)
Furniture; $125 (0% int)
Charity; $25
Life Insurance ; $45
Total Expenses; $11,924/month


Assets:
Primary Residence; worth about $375k, outstanding mortgage of $330k, so about $45k in home equity
Rental Property; worth about $190, outstanding mortgage of $145, so about $45k in home equity
My Roth Ira; 12k
Wife’s Roth Ira; 13k
Work 401k; 20.5k
College Funds; 5k
Cars/Misc; 15k
Savings Account; 5k
Assets; $160.5k (Equity in houses included)
 

Liabilities:
Mortgage - previously mentioned, balance of $330,000, interest rate 4.25%, 27 years left, minimum payment $2,661 ($536 Principle, $1169 Int, $953 Escrow)
Mortgage rental property – balance of $145,000 interest rate 5.25% 19 years left min payment $1,548 ($397 principle, $639 int, $513 Escrow)
GMC Acadia Car Loan – Balance $12,000, interest rate 2.6%, minimum payment $263, 48 months remain
Wife’s Student Loan #1 – Balance $6050 interest rate 3.03% (variable) minimum payment $276
IRS Payment Plan- $3300 .5% monthly (Last years taxes) underpaid throughout year and had larger bill than expected due to poor planning.
Liabilities; $21,350 (House and rental not included because equity factored in to asset side of equation

Net Worth; $139,150


Specific Question(s):
1)   What would it take to become financially independent in 7 years?  I am not asking if it is possible, or realistic.  I am asking in the manner in that if someone told me that I would be shot dead seven years from today if we were not financially independent.  What changes would need to take place in order to live in this situation.  What would we need to get our expenses down to and what type of income would we need to earn?  In other words “what price are we going to have to pay to make this happen”?
2)   What are the first steps that we should take to gain control over our situation that will give us the most bang for our buck?

Please bear with me here as I know that I might not appear serious to many of the readers of this post.  I promise that I am, and that I will prove this to anyone that puts time in to read and respond to my post.

LDoon

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #1 on: August 06, 2017, 01:54:52 PM »
Without any changes, you're basically spending $7100/month.  I took out the rental mortgage (see below), child care will go away, and Roth contribution would disappear.  Comes out to about $7100/month = $85,200/yr = need $2,130,000 in assets.

Short answer for getting from $140k to $2.13M in 7 years?  Save and invest $18k per month

Clearly the expenses need to come down.  Couple suggestions to get started:

Dump the rental house.  Rental properties that are not cash flow positive are a waste of time.  Plus there will be repair expenses coming that will end up being out of pocket.  Sell it now and simplify.  Use the equity to boost your investments.

As you know, the food costs drastically need to be reduced.  Track it and then nail the easy parts.  Set a goal (e.g., $900 for all food costs) and then work towards it.  Then set another goal, etc. Spending $2100/month is too much if want to retire in 7 years.  Current spending levels would take at least $630,000 ($2100 x 12 x 25) in assets to cover (just for food alone).  Keep that in mind if/when it seems hard to spend less.

You didn't include internet/TV, and that can sometimes be an easy one to reduce.  Same for hair care.  Appointments every 6-8 weeks instead of every month, etc. 

Vehicles are another area to examine.  You have a larger vehicle with a loan, which costs you extra each month in loan payments and gas.  If that's something of value to you because of kids, that's understandable but means have to look hard at other areas to compensate (phone, vacations, etc.)

I think you are missing some items in your budget.  Start tracking every penny for next 60 days.  YNAB or Mint are helpful, or just use Excel.  In the meantime, start looking at reducing food costs and getting rid of the rental.  Then report back with an update and move to next round of reducing expenses.

« Last Edit: August 06, 2017, 03:23:12 PM by LDoon »

KungfuRabbit

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #2 on: August 06, 2017, 05:11:09 PM »
What is the back story on a rental that loses money??  Why own it??  Sell it 

You can get high quality food cheaper than that. Look around here for recipes.

Trade in your car for a used mini van. Lower payments, lower gas, lower insurance.

There are cheaper cell phone options than that.

You need to cut drastically if you want any hope of retiring early.

Then the next thing is make more money.  Ask for a raise, find a higher paying job, etc. or look at side gigs, no matter how minor.


mustachian816

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #3 on: August 06, 2017, 07:17:42 PM »
Starting with no assets you have to save 75% of your post tax income to retire in 7 years, given that you already have a net worth of $139k you'll have to shoot for 65-70% to get there in 7. 
House:
Try to refinance to 15 year fixed or 7/1 arm and pay off in 7 years.  You should be able to get a rate in the low 3's or possibly better.  If you extinguish this $1700/month liability for principal+ interest, you'll need to save $512k fewer based on 4% rule.  Also shop around for home owners insurance and raise your deductible.  If you have cash in the bank, a unlikely $5000 deductible won't ruin you.
Groceries:
Your grocery spending is astronomical! Healthy food is not expensive, vegetables are the cheapest items in the grocery store!  Take a look at budgetbytes they have tons of cheap, easy, healthy meals, some as low as $1-1.50 per person/meal.  Instead of whole foods, check out aldi they have a great selection of healthy and organic foods now. 
Healthcare:
I also don't see a HSA in your budget, I suggest you max that out for current and post retirement healthcare needs. 
Eating Out:
By my calculations you are spending about $150/date night, you can cut this down by not buying drinks or at least cut out the alcoholic ones and not over ordering so you are stuffed/have left overs. Try just getting 2 entrees or splitting 1 app +1 entrée +1 desert.  Check out trying the hole in the wall but highly rated ethnic restaurants in your area.  Typically these are cheaper than high end American restaurants and give you more of an adventurous experience.
Life Insurance:
When you are financially independent life insurance isn't really needed.
Car:
Either trade in your Acadia for something more economical such as a $15k van or at least keep it to at least 200k miles.  Not having a car payment in retirement reduces the amount of passive income you need.  You don't mention a second car, if you do have one you can probably cut it out when you are ready to retire to reduce gas/maintenance/insurance/etc expenses.
Furniture:
After you pay off your furniture loan, only buy furniture with cash going forward.   0% furniture loans are tempting, but you end up spending way more than you would with cash.  A $125/month furniture loan requires you to save up an extra $37k to fund that based on 4% rule.
Phone:
Look to get this down to $30/line or less.  Join a friend or family members plan, adding a line is much cheaper than having your own account or check out Google Fi.  Avoid phone leases/payment plans, they almost always trick you into thinking your paying less for a phone buy showing you the monthly payment than if you bought it outright and kept 3+ years.

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #4 on: August 06, 2017, 07:25:04 PM »
LDoon,

Thank you for the thoughtful reply.  A couple of interesting notes;

On the rental; I have a very interesting tenant who pays the rent late every month with on average $150-$200 dollars in late fees.  This has gone on consistently for the past year.  On average this brings me very close to break even.  Big surprise in that I haven't tracked it.  I will back log track and then track moving forward from here.  I would image it would still be a clear sell even with this info?

Also, my tenant asked if we would consider selling and I threw out a price that I would be thrilled with probably slightly above market value.  I figured if I could sell to him with no real estate transactions it would be a huge win.  He said he would consider in the future and seemed somewhat interested.

On tracking; Purchased WNAB last month and am tracking everything through it.  I ran the free trial back at the beginning of the year.  To be honest with you I was overwhelmed, not by WNAB but just through the process of tracking everything.  I understand that that is the only way though and purchased the software.  I plan on just trying to diligently track now for 2-3 months and getting all of my numbers more accurate as now they are sloppy.  I played with Mint a while back and had an account.  Would just WNAB do or would it help to run Mint as well?

On missing expenses; My mother lives with us in our finished basement.  She moved it and handles the cable/internet and netflix.  We def have other missing expenses I am sure but that accounts for those obvious ones.

On cars;  With the three kids I felt a larger SUV/minivan type was necessary.  We had a Kia Sorento that was relatively new (5 years old purchased with 2k miles on it).  Moved to higher/rural/more snowy area and car was terrible in the snow do traded it in.  Probably could have done better than a few year old GMC Acadia, but couldn't sell the wife on the minivan.  I was driving an old volvo that died at 200+.  Just picked up older Saab for 3.5k in cash.

On groceries or food in general;  This category is completely out of control.  I plan on working on one change at a time each month.  Food will be first and I will post plan and progress with more detail.  We recently joined Costco which should really help.  In the eating out category my wife purchase lunch at the restaurants below her business 2-3x per week.  She realizes this is a problem and I am going to start packing her lunches everyday to help cut back on this.

Thanks again. 
 

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #5 on: August 06, 2017, 07:40:29 PM »
What is the back story on a rental that loses money??  Why own it??  Sell it 

You can get high quality food cheaper than that. Look around here for recipes.

Trade in your car for a used mini van. Lower payments, lower gas, lower insurance.

There are cheaper cell phone options than that.

You need to cut drastically if you want any hope of retiring early.

Then the next thing is make more money.  Ask for a raise, find a higher paying job, etc. or look at side gigs, no matter how minor.

Thank you Kungfurabbit.

Back story on rental;  Starter home.  I suddenly lost my job as well as all of my savings (about 6 months living expenses) six years ago with a one year old daughter and one on the way.  We put our tail between our legs, moved back in with my in laws and rented out our house to get back on our feet.  Kept renting ever since.

Minivan;  Maybe its not too late.  I will but a bug in her ear :)

Cell phones;  I know we are way over paying for our cell phone service.  Probably a stupid question, but with one of these cheaper carries can I still have access to audible and podcasts.  I am not willing to give this up.

Make more money;  I agree completely but I when I looked back and saw that over the past 6 months 100k has come into our account and 98k has gone out a light bulb moment hit me.  I realized that unless we get control of our expenses we will always somehow match our income.  The only reason why we are not in much worse shape then we are is because I did one thing right in paying ourselves first.  If that wasn't the case I am pretty confident that it would all be gone.  The plan is to attack the income side of equation hard but only after we gain control of the expense side.  Need to plug the holes the boat first before upgrading the engine.


InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #6 on: August 06, 2017, 07:54:05 PM »
mustachian816,

Thanks for the reply.

Mortgage;  Never thought of 15 year 7/1 arm as option.  I wonder that the overall payment will be with that.  I will look into it.  Would def be a great springboard to my plan at the 7 year mark if possible.

Life insurance;  Really good point about not needing life insurance when FI.  But with 140k net worth I think I need it now.  When I get the ball rolling on this plan and move towards FI I will look towards cutting back/removing here.

Furniture;  Never thought of paying 4% on 0% furniture over time.  thanks for that insight.

HSA;  Open enrollment is in late November I believe.  I will check into and max out then. 

Other stuff;  You seem right on in line with the other replies.  I will attack that systematically and keep this post updated.

Thanks again

kenaces

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #7 on: August 07, 2017, 11:44:06 AM »
FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?

Both you and wife committing 100% to this goal!

You have a large income so I think FI in 7 years is doable with some MAJOR lifestyle changes

Laura33

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2017, 12:08:27 PM »
Read this:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

You have some money saved, so you are not at the very beginning of this, but this might be helpful as you evaluate to what degree you are willing to cut your spending or work more, and the effect of those choices on your FIRE date.  FWIW, I suspect 7 years is very aggressive, given your current income and lifestyle -- but 10 years may be feasible. 

Other thoughts:

- Ditto food.
- Sell the rental.  Relying on your renter to fuck up so you can almost break even is not a sound investment strategy.
- Talk over the giant SUV with your wife again.  It's not just the up-front cost, it's the atrocious mileage and other carrying costs. 
- What is your goal for funding college?  $135/mo for 3 kids will not come close to funding in-state tuition for 3 kids.  Do you want to fund it all, even at the cost of delaying FIRE?  Do you want to FIRE, even at the cost of leaving your kids largely on their own to figure it out?  Something in-between?  There isn't really a right or wrong answer here, as long as you are saving the right amount to implement that particular plan.  Just recognize that if you are still making $150K+ when they go to college, the school will expect you to foot a large part of the bill yourself (meaning that either you come up with that money, or your kids take out private loans to cover that gap).
- Since your wife is self-employed, look into a SEP-IRA or some other tax-sheltered option for her retirement savings.  At your income level, you will likely benefit far more from putting your Roth money into tax-sheltered accounts. 

Question:  is your drive to FIRE in 7 years driven by your past experience of losing the job/house with an infant?  If so, that would be completely understandable -- we've lost the primary job with a newborn as well, and had to sell my dream house and move to another state for DH to be able to find a new job.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through, and it left me for years afterwards feeling like the Sword of Damocles was dangling over my head.  So it is completely logical and natural that you would come out of that wanting to FIRE ASAP, so that if the shit hits the fan, you can just say "fuck this" and walk.  The problem is it takes years to get there -- even on an extremely tight budget.  So how do you feel secure in the interim?  FWIW -- and this is just from my own experience, so YMMV -- to me, the best way I found was to keep all of our necessary expenses to what we could afford on the lowest earner's income.  That way, I knew that I wouldn't ever have to leave my dream house and uproot my life again if we didn't want to.  You guys make a very good income, but you are also locked into some significant expenses, so that has to wear on you personally a bit, knowing that your family is vulnerable if it all happens again.  If I'm at all on point here, I'd suggest acknowledging that stress to your wife as a preface for these conversations about balancing current lifestyle against time to FIRE.
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sirdoug007

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2017, 12:36:40 PM »
Without any changes, you're basically spending $7100/month.  I took out the rental mortgage (see below), child care will go away, and Roth contribution would disappear.  Comes out to about $7100/month = $85,200/yr = need $2,130,000 in assets.

Short answer for getting from $140k to $2.13M in 7 years?  Save and invest $18k per month

Clearly the expenses need to come down.

He is really starting at $50k in invested retirement assets, not $140k.  However, the $45k equity in the rental should be turned into invested assets given the rental is cash flow negative.

I get similar numbers on what it would take.  ~$192,000/year to get to $1.75 million to support $70k/year spending in 7 years at 7% real rate of return.

Obviously that is not likely.  More likely is get spending down to $40k/year and increase earnings to ramp up savings.  Even then, you are at $29k/year retirement savings now and could maybe get that to $50k/year which would put you at FI in about 10 years.  To get there in 7 years would take $80k which would require a serious earnings increase.

So it's not all doom and gloom.  Even FI at 47 is pretty awesome!

You need to do some hard thinking on your priorities.  How important is achieving financial independence compared to how important are all the high quality groceries and trips out?  Make sure you are putting your money towards your priorities.

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2017, 10:08:51 PM »
Thanks you for your thoughtful reply.

Quote
Read this:  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/01/13/the-shockingly-simple-math-behind-early-retirement/

You have some money saved, so you are not at the very beginning of this, but this might be helpful as you evaluate to what degree you are willing to cut your spending or work more, and the effect of those choices on your FIRE date.  FWIW, I suspect 7 years is very aggressive, given your current income and lifestyle -- but 10 years may be feasible. 


I am fortunate to love my job.  When we do FI I will continue to work/just in my own capacity and on my own terms.  Honestly if it takes 10 years instead of seven that is still a helluva lot better than the 25-30 years we are on pace for at this rate.  I think 7 is a number that scares me.  It would take everything that we have to reach that so I think it is a worthy goal.

Other thoughts:

- Ditto food.
Quote
- Sell the rental.  Relying on your renter to fuck up so you can almost break even is not a sound investment strategy.

Lol!  Well said.

Quote
- Talk over the giant SUV with your wife again.  It's not just the up-front cost, it's the atrocious mileage and other carrying costs.

I will talk to her for sure.  We do live in an elevated/harsh winter/rural area so I really feel all wheel drive is a must.  With my mom living with us we need to be able to seat six.  She does have a bad 1hr commute (works 4 days per week)  All of that said does anyone have suggestions on a safe reliable car that will meet those needs?  Should I make a separate post in another area of the forum? 
 
Quote
- What is your goal for funding college?  $135/mo for 3 kids will not come close to funding in-state tuition for 3 kids.  Do you want to fund it all, even at the cost of delaying FIRE?  Do you want to FIRE, even at the cost of leaving your kids largely on their own to figure it out?  Something in-between?  There isn't really a right or wrong answer here, as long as you are saving the right amount to implement that particular plan.  Just recognize that if you are still making $150K+ when they go to college, the school will expect you to foot a large part of the bill yourself (meaning that either you come up with that money, or your kids take out private loans to cover that gap).


Half in state for each child.  I know that we will have to up that considerably but just wanted to get those accounts started and running automatically when they were young.  Will look into an plan for that.  Thanks.

 
Quote
- Since your wife is self-employed, look into a SEP-IRA or some other tax-sheltered option for her retirement savings.  At your income level, you will likely benefit far more from putting your Roth money into tax-sheltered accounts. 

We need to look into the next steps for this.  thanks for reminder.


[/quote]

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #11 on: August 07, 2017, 10:41:28 PM »

Quote

Question:  is your drive to FIRE in 7 years driven by your past experience of losing the job/house with an infant?  If so, that would be completely understandable -- we've lost the primary job with a newborn as well, and had to sell my dream house and move to another state for DH to be able to find a new job.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through, and it left me for years afterwards feeling like the Sword of Damocles was dangling over my head.  So it is completely logical and natural that you would come out of that wanting to FIRE ASAP, so that if the shit hits the fan, you can just say "fuck this" and walk.  The problem is it takes years to get there -- even on an extremely tight budget.  So how do you feel secure in the interim?  FWIW -- and this is just from my own experience, so YMMV -- to me, the best way I found was to keep all of our necessary expenses to what we could afford on the lowest earner's income.  That way, I knew that I wouldn't ever have to leave my dream house and uproot my life again if we didn't want to.  You guys make a very good income, but you are also locked into some significant expenses, so that has to wear on you personally a bit, knowing that your family is vulnerable if it all happens again.  If I'm at all on point here, I'd suggest acknowledging that stress to your wife as a preface for these conversations about balancing current lifestyle against time to FIRE.


Great question.  As experiencing a very similar situation and by the tone of your question a can tell you can relate.  There are very few days that go by that I don't feel the intense pain from those times.  I don't think that feeling of letting my family down and feeling like I had been emasculated will ever leave me, and that pain will push me to not stop until a financial wall is built around my family.  That being said I don't think my drive to FIRE is a completely a fear based decision.  What we went through as a family gives me confidence that we can handle anything thrown are way.  I am no longer scared anymore.  I am sure that there are lower lows but we hit a pretty deep rock bottom and climbed our way out of it.  If that happens again as long as we have each other we will climb out again. 

That first step of getting back on our feet was about regaining safety that had been lost.  This second step of going FIRE is about freeing us up to move towards the third step of self-actualization.  I feel like going FIRE is a necessary step towards self-actualizing and reaching our full potential in life.  How can you reach your full potential if you are not free to do what you want to do in life, if you have to work for that next dollar.  I want out of that race.  It is an exciting/long term/delayed gratification goal that will take everything that we have to achieve.  This is why I want to FIRE.

fuzzy math

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to tak
« Reply #12 on: August 07, 2017, 11:21:48 PM »
How long is your commute? Any reason she can't drive the Saab during non snow months?
Why are you pre paying on the rental? Put the $ in something tax deferred like her 401k
Can MIL help w child care? Is she helping out w food?
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InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to tak
« Reply #13 on: August 07, 2017, 11:59:10 PM »
How long is your commute? Any reason she can't drive the Saab during non snow months?
Why are you pre paying on the rental? Put the $ in something tax deferred like her 401k
Can MIL help w child care? Is she helping out w food?

My commute is 18 mins.  I think that if we plan it with kids we can do some swapping.  Also, she has a job with a business partner where she could potentially move the office to about 30 min away/and or work from home one or two days a week.  From the outside looking in it really makes no sense why she needs to go into the office for 60 min 4 days per week, but it is her business and I feel I have to pick and choose my battles and can only push so hard...

Good pick up on the rental.  I am paying weekly with extra towards principle.  I set that up when it was primary residence.  Maybe I should look towards paying the minimum while looking to sell?.....

Mom buys most of her own food but eats dinner with us 2-4 nights a week.  She has her own fridge/freezer downstairs.  Believe it or not those child care numbers are with her helping out 2x during the week and for about 2 date nights per month as well as getting kids off the bus for an hour or two Mon-Thurs.  My second child is going into Kindergarten this fall and I am trying to push towards asking my mom to watch our 1 year old 4 days per week.  My wife thinks it will be too much on her and is planing for 2x with a baby sitter for the other 2x.  I love my mom, but I don't think asking her to watch our son for 4x a week when she is retired while living with us rent free is too much to ask.  And decreasing our expenses by $1800/month, that's a game changer IMO.  My wife thinks its asking too much of her.  I think that if we can get our food bill under control and basically eliminate or child care costs or situation just got a whole lot better and the boulder is moving on our chances for FI in 7.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 12:02:45 AM by InsideOut »

fuzzy math

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2017, 06:35:17 AM »
Good thing it's your mom and you get to ask as opposed to it being your MIL and you not being able to ask. If your mom doesn't work and she lives rent free it's a great situation. If your wife is at home every day except for 3 hours (2 hrs driving and 1 at the office), why does it cost so much? Does she have the sort of job where she can do work near the kids or early mornings/ late nights or on odd hours when the youngest is napping? Has she hired full time care even though she's in the home? I would highly suggest that she goes in for 2-3 hrs 1-2x a week. The gas costs alone are killing you.

My youngest of 3 starts kindergarten next week, and I so understand the excitement at lowering costs. For us, it was a SAHP for 10 years who is now able to focus on their career. It will get easier someday!
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InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #15 on: August 08, 2017, 08:22:46 AM »
Quote
Good thing it's your mom and you get to ask as opposed to it being your MIL and you not being able to ask. If your mom doesn't work and she lives rent free it's a great situation.

Absolutely.  I think as we hash out this plan I will be able to sit down with my mom and just have an honest conversation.

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If your wife is at home every day except for 3 hours (2 hrs driving and 1 at the office), why does it cost so much? Does she have the sort of job where she can do work near the kids or early mornings/ late nights or on odd hours when the youngest is napping? Has she hired full time care even though she's in the home? I would highly suggest that she goes in for 2-3 hrs 1-2x a week. The gas costs alone are killing you.

She works four full days (about 8am-6PM with commute) When school gets out my mom would get my oldest/now oldest two come fall off the bus at 4pm until my wife gets home.  She might be able to swing some kind of that work if she is organized on off hours.  She has a partner and says that she needs to go in to work 4 days a week because they work best that way and that everything is in the office but I think the real reason is that change is hard when you are used to doing things a certain way, especially when it involves getting another person to change as well.  I think that she could work from the local starbucks at times but haven't sold her on the idea.  Feel like we have some bigger fish to fry first with food/day care/ect.  before attacking this, but will let it run in the background.

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My youngest of 3 starts kindergarten next week, and I so understand the excitement at lowering costs. For us, it was a SAHP for 10 years who is now able to focus on their career. It will get easier someday!

Congratulations!!! If I could do it all over again I would have busted my a in my 20's to make this happen.  Such an exciting new chapter!

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to tak
« Reply #16 on: August 08, 2017, 08:27:53 AM »
Any reason she can't drive the Saab during non snow months?

Done.  Had convo this morning.  My wife loves driving the Saab and we will swap cars during the non winter months.

A very small win but a win none the less.  Gotta get the ball rolling.
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 08:42:47 AM by InsideOut »

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #17 on: August 08, 2017, 08:39:04 AM »

House:
Try to refinance to 15 year fixed or 7/1 arm and pay off in 7 years.  You should be able to get a rate in the low 3's or possibly better.  If you extinguish this $1700/month liability for principal+ interest, you'll need to save $512k fewer based on 4% rule.


What does anyone else think about this as an option?  The more I think about it the more it gets me excited. If we eliminated the $1800 child care cost, cut total food cost by 50% savings of $1000 ish per month sold the rental house or even just stopped paying the $200-$300 extra on the mortgage would this option make sense to consider?  That would free up about $3k per month to throw at mortgage.  Our payment now is $2661 on (345,000 30y 4.25%).  What would an estimated payment be on a 15y 7/1 (3.0% that we plan to pay off in 7 years?

Seems like if we are serious about becoming FI in 7 that having no mortgage would be a giant foundational block in achieving this.  Thoughts???
« Last Edit: August 08, 2017, 08:41:53 AM by InsideOut »

Laura33

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #18 on: August 08, 2017, 09:32:06 AM »

House:
Try to refinance to 15 year fixed or 7/1 arm and pay off in 7 years.  You should be able to get a rate in the low 3's or possibly better.  If you extinguish this $1700/month liability for principal+ interest, you'll need to save $512k fewer based on 4% rule.


What does anyone else think about this as an option?  The more I think about it the more it gets me excited. If we eliminated the $1800 child care cost, cut total food cost by 50% savings of $1000 ish per month sold the rental house or even just stopped paying the $200-$300 extra on the mortgage would this option make sense to consider?  That would free up about $3k per month to throw at mortgage.  Our payment now is $2661 on (345,000 30y 4.25%).  What would an estimated payment be on a 15y 7/1 (3.0% that we plan to pay off in 7 years?

Seems like if we are serious about becoming FI in 7 that having no mortgage would be a giant foundational block in achieving this.  Thoughts???

FWIW, we have a 15-yr mortgage that we got specifically to coincide with our planned RE date (honestly, at below 3%, I just couldn't resist -- that's basically free money).  But I am a little worried you are putting the cart before the horse.  We did the mortgage after we had maxed out all available retirement vehicles, had kids' college covered, had a full EF, and had post-tax savings as well -- in other words, it was the last step in our RE plan, not the first one.  You don't just need a place to live after you FIRE, you need assets to live on.  And the odds are very strong that you will get a better return from investing in the market than from prepaying a tax-deductible debt in the 4% range.

Another issue is that a shorter-term mortgage locks you into a higher payment.  Which is fine if all goes well and you succeed in the cutbacks you plan.  But I would hesitate to commit that money before you demonstrate to yourselves that you are both happy with the "new" lifestyle and can live with the new budget long-term.  You can always choose to prepay your current mortgage without locking in the shorter term.  Or, if you invest the money and decide later on that you want to pay the mortgage off, you can always draw that money from your investment account (very likely a smaller amount than the account will have by that time) and pay it off.  It's a lot harder the other way around. 
Laugh while you can, monkey-boy

sirdoug007

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #19 on: August 08, 2017, 09:37:40 AM »
I agree, get the major changes done first and build up your retirement accounts.

Once that is all smoothed out you can think about refinancing to a 15 year. 

And don't forget to read the hundreds of posts on the keep your mortgage vs. payoff threads on this forum!

Bee21

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #20 on: August 09, 2017, 06:10:15 PM »
You can either make more or spend less. In my experience, it is easier to spend less.

Definitely sell the rental. You are paying monthly, so that somebody has a place to live.unless it appreciates in value, it is not a good investment.That 45k in equity would look much better on your own house. Or retirement funds.

You have a really good income, so I suspect there is some entitlement and " i deserve this", "we can afford this" going on, this is why your spending is that ridiculous. At that age, and with that income, your net worth should be much higher.
Work on this. Be more careful with your resources.

Start with cutting food expenses, this is the easiest to attack. With a bit of planning, you can bring it way down.  Maybe have a month with severe austerity measures and lot of planning and see how low you can go without compromising the quality of life.

Can you pay your mom for childcare?

Better Late

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #21 on: August 09, 2017, 08:59:05 PM »
I'm confused on your tax situation.
You list your Adjusted Gross Income as $157,230. The only taxes etc I see you mention is the $4,815  (deductible self-employment tax.) and the $3k you owe the IRS from last year.   
What am I missing?

Feivel2000

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #22 on: August 10, 2017, 10:30:52 AM »
Regarding audible /podcasts: this is not linked to your phone provider. If you often download the audio books or podcasts while on the go, you need enough data, but you could always pre-load them at home via wifi. That way it's possible to use audible and podcasts without a data plan.


NH Chestnut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #23 on: August 10, 2017, 11:59:08 AM »
One expense that I didn't see was real estate tax. If you are in an area like us in New England, they can be pretty substantial.

Layla

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #24 on: August 11, 2017, 07:20:30 AM »
I wouldn't ask my Mum to do childcare in exchange for rent. Instead, assuming she wanted to do it, I would pay her the going rate for childcare minus the going rate for rent. Yes this would slow down my progress compared to the option you are considering, but why should my mum subsidise my retirement. She has done enough for me already. I also think looking after a 1yo four days a week would be very demanding.
« Last Edit: August 11, 2017, 07:24:12 AM by Nora »

Verdure

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #25 on: August 11, 2017, 09:33:12 AM »
Regarding audible /podcasts: this is not linked to your phone provider. If you often download the audio books or podcasts while on the go, you need enough data, but you could always pre-load them at home via wifi. That way it's possible to use audible and podcasts without a data plan.

Another thing to look into is what your library offers in terms of downloadable audiobooks. Most libraries use a company/app called OverDrive. (Hoopla is fairly common as well)  You tend to have to put stuff on hold, so you can't necessarily get it the instant you want it, but I just put a bunch on hold and usually by the time I finish one, another one is ready. OverDrive has a wishlist function too, so if you've maxed out your holds, you can mark the ones you want, and then when you have room in your holds you just go to your wishlist and place more holds.  Wishlist is also good for tracking stuff you want to listen to that doesn't have holds.  Anyway, I listen to about 4-6 audiobooks a month for free, no Audible subscription.

tyort1

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #26 on: August 11, 2017, 11:55:06 AM »

Quote

Question:  is your drive to FIRE in 7 years driven by your past experience of losing the job/house with an infant?  If so, that would be completely understandable -- we've lost the primary job with a newborn as well, and had to sell my dream house and move to another state for DH to be able to find a new job.  It was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through, and it left me for years afterwards feeling like the Sword of Damocles was dangling over my head.  So it is completely logical and natural that you would come out of that wanting to FIRE ASAP, so that if the shit hits the fan, you can just say "fuck this" and walk.  The problem is it takes years to get there -- even on an extremely tight budget.  So how do you feel secure in the interim?  FWIW -- and this is just from my own experience, so YMMV -- to me, the best way I found was to keep all of our necessary expenses to what we could afford on the lowest earner's income.  That way, I knew that I wouldn't ever have to leave my dream house and uproot my life again if we didn't want to.  You guys make a very good income, but you are also locked into some significant expenses, so that has to wear on you personally a bit, knowing that your family is vulnerable if it all happens again.  If I'm at all on point here, I'd suggest acknowledging that stress to your wife as a preface for these conversations about balancing current lifestyle against time to FIRE.


Great question.  As experiencing a very similar situation and by the tone of your question a can tell you can relate.  There are very few days that go by that I don't feel the intense pain from those times.  I don't think that feeling of letting my family down and feeling like I had been emasculated will ever leave me, and that pain will push me to not stop until a financial wall is built around my family.  That being said I don't think my drive to FIRE is a completely a fear based decision.  What we went through as a family gives me confidence that we can handle anything thrown are way.  I am no longer scared anymore.  I am sure that there are lower lows but we hit a pretty deep rock bottom and climbed our way out of it.  If that happens again as long as we have each other we will climb out again. 

That first step of getting back on our feet was about regaining safety that had been lost.  This second step of going FIRE is about freeing us up to move towards the third step of self-actualization.  I feel like going FIRE is a necessary step towards self-actualizing and reaching our full potential in life.  How can you reach your full potential if you are not free to do what you want to do in life, if you have to work for that next dollar.  I want out of that race.  It is an exciting/long term/delayed gratification goal that will take everything that we have to achieve.  This is why I want to FIRE.

I also lost my job at a time when we'd just locked in some high expenses and we completely blew through our savings over the 9 months it took me to find another job.  Here's what I realized after finding MMM during that 9 months and putting it to work immediately upon getting my new job:

In the old days I had a $120k/year lifestyle.  Which meant I ALWAYS had to hear $120k every year in order to support that.  Once I started to dial down my expenses, I got down to about $70k per year, and I realized 2 things.  First, I was able to save $50k per year, which is way, way more than I had ever saved before, so $$ started piling up, quick.  Second, I realized, if I ever lost my job again, I DON'T NEED ANOTHER $120K YEAR JOB.  We only spend $70k per year, so we can get by just fine if I had to take a job for lesser pay.  Holy crap was that a load off my shoulders. 

But to echo what others have said here - look at your expenses and be aggressive about reducing them.  ESPECIALLY recurring expenses.  As you get spun up on YNAB, look at every single bill and try hard to eliminate or reduce it.  Many things you won't even notice a difference, once you make the change. 

Oh, and sell the rental if you can't get substantially more rent out of it.  Sounds like you need a new tenant anyway.  For me, if it's not generating substantial positive cash flow, it needs to go.
Frugalite in training.

HildaCorners

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #27 on: August 11, 2017, 08:29:58 PM »
While other people punch you in the face about the big things, I'll tap you on the shoulder about the small ones.

Phones: As long as you have a smartphone (iThing or Android) and a wifi connection, you can download podcasts and the like. Cell provider is totally irrelevant. For streaming services, you need a provider who offers data — and they all do, at different costs. If you can figure out how many GB of data you currently use, you can cost out how much the cheap service providers will cost you.

Electricity, heat:  $150/mo for electricity is high. You can get a free home energy audit that will tell you how to save money on electricity, gas, heating oil, etc. They may even give you (free!) LED lightbulbs, power strips ... even a setback thermostat! There's definitely room to save here.

Commute: you said your commute is 18 minutes by car. Can you bike commute at all? Even a couple days a week in the warm months will make a difference in car expenses.

Do you really spend $1200 a year on kid's clothing? Three words: Hand. Me. Downs.  My kids wore 90% hand me downs (I'd buy new shoes and coats), and they survived.

Finally ... the software is You Need a Budget, YNAB. No W in sight.
Been there, done that

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to tak
« Reply #28 on: August 19, 2017, 04:11:13 AM »
Thank you for the response and I apologize to everyone for my delay on responding to the thread.  Just got back from vacation last week and right back into lots of work this week.

How long is your commute? Any reason she can't drive the Saab during non snow months?

Done.  Had convo with my wife and we plan on switching cars until snow tire season.  5 for 5 this week on driving the gas guzzler so we are off to a great start.  She loves the Saab.  Thanks for this suggestion!

Quote
Why are you pre paying on the rental? Put the $ in something tax deferred like her 401k

No good reason. I calculated what it would take to pay off the house by my eldest daughters high school graduation.  Now that our strategy is to sell the house and I have a better handle on strategy for what we are trying to accomplish I will call the mortgage company and start paying the minimum.  Will follow up when that is done.

Quote
Can MIL help w child care? Is she helping out w food?

Yes.  She has her own fridge and food although she has meals with mostly 5 or 6 times per week.  I will answer this in response to another question more in depth.

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #29 on: August 19, 2017, 04:26:32 AM »
I wouldn't ask my Mum to do childcare in exchange for rent. Instead, assuming she wanted to do it, I would pay her the going rate for childcare minus the going rate for rent. Yes this would slow down my progress compared to the option you are considering, but why should my mum subsidise my retirement. She has done enough for me already. I also think looking after a 1yo four days a week would be very demanding.

This is a great idea.  Trying to create a win-win here.  Had this conversation with my mom and it is going to come down to an energy issue.  I calculated roughly and basically 2 days a week plus some extra help getting my eldest off the bus and watching for an hour or two comes out to rent+utilities.  We would love her to watch our son the other two days as;
1) We would feel much better with him not going into day care or with a nanny or sitter that we have to vet and trust
2) Would save us some money
3) Would give her more of a financial buffer which she definitely could use

Other factors.  My mother in law is getting remarried in October and she said that after the wedding she wants to come up and watch our son 1 day per week so that she can spend time with him as she is about 90 min away and can't just drop by.  Unfortunately she is not reliable and will often call out sick or for some other reason.  Anyway we won't count on this and will take this as a bonus for us and my mom on the times it comes.

So from the financial aspect of the equation we will pay my mom $600/month for 2 days extra per week (1 on the weeks my mother in law comes up which I can't really estimate, could be 3x a month, could be 1x every two months)

Current child care is $1800/Month so this will save us $1200/month if it works.  We are all committed to September and then reevaluating from there.

Thanks again.


InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #30 on: August 19, 2017, 04:32:34 AM »

House:
Try to refinance to 15 year fixed or 7/1 arm and pay off in 7 years.  You should be able to get a rate in the low 3's or possibly better.  If you extinguish this $1700/month liability for principal+ interest, you'll need to save $512k fewer based on 4% rule.


What does anyone else think about this as an option?  The more I think about it the more it gets me excited. If we eliminated the $1800 child care cost, cut total food cost by 50% savings of $1000 ish per month sold the rental house or even just stopped paying the $200-$300 extra on the mortgage would this option make sense to consider?  That would free up about $3k per month to throw at mortgage.  Our payment now is $2661 on (345,000 30y 4.25%).  What would an estimated payment be on a 15y 7/1 (3.0% that we plan to pay off in 7 years?

Seems like if we are serious about becoming FI in 7 that having no mortgage would be a giant foundational block in achieving this.  Thoughts???

FWIW, we have a 15-yr mortgage that we got specifically to coincide with our planned RE date (honestly, at below 3%, I just couldn't resist -- that's basically free money).  But I am a little worried you are putting the cart before the horse.  We did the mortgage after we had maxed out all available retirement vehicles, had kids' college covered, had a full EF, and had post-tax savings as well -- in other words, it was the last step in our RE plan, not the first one.  You don't just need a place to live after you FIRE, you need assets to live on.  And the odds are very strong that you will get a better return from investing in the market than from prepaying a tax-deductible debt in the 4% range.

Another issue is that a shorter-term mortgage locks you into a higher payment.  Which is fine if all goes well and you succeed in the cutbacks you plan.  But I would hesitate to commit that money before you demonstrate to yourselves that you are both happy with the "new" lifestyle and can live with the new budget long-term.  You can always choose to prepay your current mortgage without locking in the shorter term.  Or, if you invest the money and decide later on that you want to pay the mortgage off, you can always draw that money from your investment account (very likely a smaller amount than the account will have by that time) and pay it off.  It's a lot harder the other way around.

I think you are right about putting the cart before the horse as I was getting a little excited.  Did put a call into the mortgage company and got come numbers on 15 fixed and a 30y 7/1.  If our initial steps go really well and stick it could fit into the plan but we have bigger fish to fry for now.  Putting my shot gun away and getting my pan out to fry those fish.

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #31 on: August 19, 2017, 04:35:17 AM »
Regarding audible /podcasts: this is not linked to your phone provider. If you often download the audio books or podcasts while on the go, you need enough data, but you could always pre-load them at home via wifi. That way it's possible to use audible and podcasts without a data plan.

Another thing to look into is what your library offers in terms of downloadable audiobooks. Most libraries use a company/app called OverDrive. (Hoopla is fairly common as well)  You tend to have to put stuff on hold, so you can't necessarily get it the instant you want it, but I just put a bunch on hold and usually by the time I finish one, another one is ready. OverDrive has a wishlist function too, so if you've maxed out your holds, you can mark the ones you want, and then when you have room in your holds you just go to your wishlist and place more holds.  Wishlist is also good for tracking stuff you want to listen to that doesn't have holds.  Anyway, I listen to about 4-6 audiobooks a month for free, no Audible subscription.

Thank you.  I think my yearly audible subscription is up in September.  Will check on that Asap and check library options.  Will post when that is done.

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #32 on: August 19, 2017, 04:38:02 AM »
I'm confused on your tax situation.
You list your Adjusted Gross Income as $157,230. The only taxes etc I see you mention is the $4,815  (deductible self-employment tax.) and the $3k you owe the IRS from last year.   
What am I missing?

Honestly, I am confused by my tax situation and don't have a complete handle on it. Embarrassed to admit but true.  I just pulled the numbers off last years tax return.  Any hints on where I should be looking to gain a better understanding? 

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #33 on: August 19, 2017, 04:40:30 AM »
One expense that I didn't see was real estate tax. If you are in an area like us in New England, they can be pretty substantial.

Yes, baked into my escrow.  Have to check exactly but about $7,200/yr primary residence and $5,400/yr on rental

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #34 on: August 19, 2017, 04:52:15 AM »
Quote
While other people punch you in the face about the big things, I'll tap you on the shoulder about the small ones.

Quote
Phones: As long as you have a smartphone (iThing or Android) and a wifi connection, you can download podcasts and the like. Cell provider is totally irrelevant. For streaming services, you need a provider who offers data — and they all do, at different costs. If you can figure out how many GB of data you currently use, you can cost out how much the cheap service providers will cost you.

On the radar.  Attacking food now and some other things this month and plan on doing this next month or as soon as possible.  Trying to make small changes over time so that they stick.

Quote
Electricity, heat:  $150/mo for electricity is high. You can get a free home energy audit that will tell you how to save money on electricity, gas, heating oil, etc. They may even give you (free!) LED lightbulbs, power strips ... even a setback thermostat! There's definitely room to save here.

We actually ran the free energy audit last year and it came down.  Last months electricity bill was even worse (over $200)  will check it out.

Quote
Commute: you said your commute is 18 minutes by car. Can you bike commute at all? Even a couple days a week in the warm months will make a difference in car expenses.

Unfortunately No.  Would have to take a few major roads to get to work and am not willing to do that.  Two young fathers recently died in my town riding bikes and I am not an experienced biker. 

Quote
Do you really spend $1200 a year on kid's clothing? Three words: Hand. Me. Downs.  My kids wore 90% hand me downs (I'd buy new shoes and coats), and they survived.

I might have overestimated that but will track better and get on it.

Quote
Finally ... the software is You Need a Budget, YNAB. No W in sight.

lol.  no idea Y i put a W in there :)

InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #35 on: August 19, 2017, 05:00:42 AM »

You have a really good income, so I suspect there is some entitlement and " i deserve this", "we can afford this" going on, this is why your spending is that ridiculous. At that age, and with that income, your net worth should be much higher.
Work on this. Be more careful with your resources.


I agree and there def is some of that but our income has not been at this level for long and was pretty poor in the recent past so part of it is that as well.  AGI since job loss looks something like this 2012 25k 2013 75k 2014 105k 2015 134k 2016 157k


InsideOut

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #36 on: August 19, 2017, 05:01:34 AM »
Thank you to everyone for all of the advice.  I think that we have a better handle on our plan because of it.  Going forward I would love to journal this so that we can be held accountable along the way.  What would be the best way to proceed?  Should I start a new thread in the journal section and link it to this thread?

Thanks


zoe2dot

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Re: FI in 7 years; what is it going to take?
« Reply #37 on: September 15, 2017, 12:21:06 PM »
The journals forum is overwhelming so I've been reading through the case studies.
How is September going in relations toward your goals?