Author Topic: FIRE - 6 months in  (Read 8927 times)

benjenn

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FIRE - 6 months in
« on: January 31, 2016, 08:16:46 AM »
Wow.  Six months ago today was our first day of retirement.  We spent that day driving (a 14 hour drive) from Oklahoma City, where we lived, to the beautiful white sand beaches of Gulf Shores, Alabama where we had our wonderful 15th floor condo overlooking the Gulf of Mexico waiting for us.  And we haven't looked back.  We paid off the our condo as soon as we got here and burned our mortgage on the beach!  :) 

Our son is at the University of Oklahoma for the next couple of years but he loves it down here and we know he'll visit when he can.  Our daughter, son-in-law and two grandbabies (including the newest who was just a week old when we left) were also in OKC where SIL is in the Air Force and stationed at Tinker AFB.  We told them we knew they'd be transferred somewhere else eventually so staying in OK just to be close to them didn't make much sense.  Sure enough, they got transferred the first of December to Biloxi, MS -- now they're only 2 hours away from us instead of 14!  Awesome.  :)

We miss our friends, of course, but it shouldn't be too much to ask them to come to the beach to visit us.  :)

Being retired felt surreal for quite a while.  The first couple of weeks, it really felt like we were just on vacation (except that neither of us was checking emails or working remotely).  We loved not having to wake up to an alarm (although we're morning people so we still get up in time to watch the sunrise most mornings).  We loved having the freedom to choose whatever we wanted to do - every single day.  And, since we were at the beach, just spending time on the beach relaxing was something we did pretty often.  It was wonderful.  And it still is.

We still thought about work way too often.  DH and I both had stressful jobs and were responsible for a lot.  Having that taking up so much of our thoughts for so many years, it didn't just disappear overnight.  We gave ourselves to the end of the year to decompress -- and now, I think we're pretty much there.  Every so often, we'll mention something about work and how grateful we are NOT to have to think about it anymore.

We've made a lot of new friends here.  Quite a few of them are retired and older than we are (51 and 52), but we've always had friends in a wide range of ages.  We've made friends who are our age who are not retired but own in our building and just come down as often as they can (like we used to).  Because we're in a vacation location, having fun is what everyone here wants to do so that's great.

We've played lots of golf and lots of tennis since getting here.  Any day of the week, any time of the day we feel like it.  That's been awesome. We have loads of wonderful bike trails here and we've spent hours and hours just riding our really cool, fat tire bikes on all the trails. We joked when we first got here that we weren't going to get a boat, we were going to get friends with boats instead -- but just recently, DH stole a boat (well, got such a good deal it felt like stealing it) and will work on fixing that up.  He loves having projects like that so that's good.  By the time spring is here, we'll be able to boat anywhere we want to go so I'm sure that will take up a lot of our time, too.

DH loves to work on things around the condo and didn't take him much time to get everything as perfect as it can be.  He's gone on to do things for others in our building... Fixing their toilets, changing faucets, changing ceiling fans... Fun stuff like that (which he is great at and loves doing).  Although he won't take money for helping them, we've gotten lots of gift cards as thank yous.  :)

I've been catching up on my reading... Something I love but just didn't have time for while I was working.  I read 21 books from the end of July, when we retired, until the end of the year and I've read 6 books in January so I think I've just about caught up.  It's so amazing to spend hours reading and not feel guilty for not doing chores or running errands.  :)

I used to grocery shop every Saturday morning and the do laundry on Sundays.  Now I go grocery shopping whenever I need to and do laundry the same way.  I couldn't tell you what day I did them last... I'm not usually even sure what day it is.  :) I heard on GMA this morning they've discovered Sunday is such a stressful day for most people because they dread going back to work on Monday.  It's awesome to never have to feel that way.

DH starting volunteering a couple of weeks ago at the big Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, which is right up his alley (he's a retired flight engineer from the AF).  He gets to work restoration on old WWII airplanes that have been pulled up from the bottom of Lake Michigan.  We both signed up to volunteer for Big Brothers/Big Sisters and are waiting for those matches to come through.  We volunteered at the big Gulf Shores Shrimp Festival for the Chamber of Commerce back in October and we're planning to volunteer at the big Hot Air Balloon Festival coming up in May.  Neither of us have been tempted to get part time jobs... We haven't had any problems finding things to do.

While I told myself I'd work out every single day when we retired, I admit I've fallen way short on that one.  I am better when it's warmer but it's been really cold here this month... Some days only reach the low 50s!  LOL.  Okay.. So that's not nearly as cold as winter in Oklahoma but that's still my excuse. I hate the treadmill but have used it a few times.  As soon as it consistently warms up into the 70s (it's goiing to be that temp the next 3 days here), I promise I'll get better.  At least it's not like we're couch potatoes.. Between golf, tennis and the bikes, we are at least staying pretty active.  :)

As for the budget, we are fortunate that DH has his AF retirement and gets a monthly pension. We also have health insurance from his service, so not having to pay a lot for that definitely helped us retire early.  We had some money set aside to spend on things that weren't going to be monthly expenses - like some of the things he wanted to do to the condo, some fun stuff like our golf membership, etc.  For the most part, we've kept our actual expenses below our pension income.  Enough so that we're happy with where we are there and don't need to supplement our income with work.  We don't plan on touching our 401Ks for at least 8 years and we think we'll be fine with that. 

It was only 3 1/2 years ago that we first came up with the idea of retiring early (we were planning to retire then when we were 58 and 59 -- that would have been full retirement age for me at my job).  At the time we came up with the plan, we thought it would take us 6 years -- June 2018 was our target date and that was almost 5 years early.  Once we found MMM and made a few, simple changes that saved us a ton of money, we started moving the target date earlier and earlier.  It helped us realize that all we needed was enough and once we had that, we'd be okay.  We didn't have to keep working just to accumulate more and more.  The date changed to January 2016, then December 2015, November 2015 and then finally, July 2015.  The six year plan turned into a 3 year plan.  It was awesome. 

We wake up every day just amazed that we never have to go back to work again.  It's a wonderful feeling.  I know a lot of people here on the MMM forum will get to this point way sooner than most people ever dream to.  It's not always easy but I have to tell you it is SO worth it.

I can't wait to see what the 2nd 6 months are like.  I have a feeling they're going to be even better than the first because we're already in the groove.  :) If you're ever in Gulf Shores... Look us up!

Khaetra

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #1 on: January 31, 2016, 08:23:43 AM »
It's a great feeling not to have to get up and go to the grind every morning isn't it?  Your place looks wonderful and there's nothing better than retiring to the beach!  Congrats to you both!

PharmaStache

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 08:29:33 AM »
Awesome story!  Thanks for sharing.  I'd be on that balcony reading all day if I lived there!

soccerluvof4

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #3 on: January 31, 2016, 08:30:41 AM »
Congratulations and ENJOY!!

Zamboni

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #4 on: January 31, 2016, 08:38:42 AM »
Congratulations and it sounds like things are working out really well for you.

And, yes, Sunday can be a stressful day for the working . . . probably for the reason you cite.

GoCubsGo

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #5 on: January 31, 2016, 10:48:01 AM »
Congrats! Sounds like you will be an ER success story.  I've been hearing and reading good things about Gulf Shores, looks like a great place to visit and even better to retire too.  Keep posting updates occasionally as it's great reinforcement to others who are very close to reaching ER.

Cassie

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #6 on: January 31, 2016, 11:20:17 AM »
That looks so wonderful! How expensive are the condos on the beach? Looking at snow right now & I feel jealous:)).

benjenn

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #7 on: January 31, 2016, 11:45:54 AM »
That looks so wonderful! How expensive are the condos on the beach? Looking at snow right now & I feel jealous:)).

Units like ours in our building are selling for $300-310K right now for 2 bed, 2 1/2 bath, 1,236 sf and all of them have the same amazing view of the gulf.  We bought ours 5 years ago... Just a couple years after the housing crash and just a few months after the big oil spill (which really didn't affect the area, just the prices) so we got ours for about $80K less than that.  We had no plans to move down here then, we just figured if we didn't buy then, we would kick ourselves later.  Now we're so glad we did.

And if I never see snow again in my life, I'm good with that.  :)

Cassie

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #8 on: January 31, 2016, 12:35:25 PM »
Thanks for the info!  YOur view is beautiful. The cost is similar to what we could get for our house now. So glad you guys got a great deal.

mozar

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #9 on: January 31, 2016, 01:08:17 PM »
This is awesome. What a great idea to volunteer for festivals. I can see doing that. I made one of my tele-work days be Monday so it's less stressful.

benjenn

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #10 on: January 31, 2016, 02:18:31 PM »
This is awesome. What a great idea to volunteer for festivals. I can see doing that. I made one of my tele-work days be Monday so it's less stressful.
That's a terrific idea!  :) I guess I'm weird... Monday was always my favorite day of the week.  Maybe not so much by the end when counting the days until retirement made it so tough.  LOL.

AlwaysBeenASaver

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #11 on: January 31, 2016, 04:13:32 PM »
Awesome, I loved reading this!

Basenji

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #12 on: January 31, 2016, 04:30:35 PM »
So inspiring, thanks for sharing. Please do update, I love FIRE stories. Any detail is great: what you planned for, what was unexpected, finances, etc. Enjoy!

NorcalBlue

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #13 on: January 31, 2016, 07:14:53 PM »
Good for you guys. Very cool.

FiveSigmas

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #14 on: January 31, 2016, 07:32:02 PM »
Benjenn, thanks for the update! It sounds like you two are thriving. Please keep us posted on how things go in the future.

BTW: Keep up the exercise. :-)

Scubanewbie

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #15 on: January 31, 2016, 08:03:33 PM »
Congrats!  Sounds fantastic!!!  Wishing for your 70's soon.  They're calling for bordering on freezing here, which while 5 degrees doesn't make much of a difference it'll mean the difference between rain and a blizzard coming through so think warm thoughts for us up here in WI! :)

okits

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #16 on: January 31, 2016, 09:36:57 PM »
Your FIRE life sounds wonderful!  Congratulations on the happiness you've built for yourselves and please share any updates you'd care to (beach pictures particularly welcome!  Boo, January!)

Greenroller

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #17 on: January 31, 2016, 10:25:35 PM »
Very inspirational! Love the view and hope to capture one like it if my own someday....

Aussiegirl

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #18 on: January 31, 2016, 11:15:22 PM »

It was only 3 1/2 years ago that we first came up with the idea of retiring early (we were planning to retire then when we were 58 and 59 -- that would have been full retirement age for me at my job).  At the time we came up with the plan, we thought it would take us 6 years -- June 2018 was our target date and that was almost 5 years early.  Once we found MMM and made a few, simple changes that saved us a ton of money, we started moving the target date earlier and earlier.  It helped us realize that all we needed was enough and once we had that, we'd be okay.  We didn't have to keep working just to accumulate more and more.  The date changed to January 2016, then December 2015, November 2015 and then finally, July 2015.  The six year plan turned into a 3 year plan.  It was awesome. 


Congratulations Benjenn!  Such an awesome story!   

What were the few simple changes that saved you a tonne of money?

Turnbull

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #19 on: January 31, 2016, 11:22:41 PM »
We were just at the Naval Aviation Museum on Tuesday! We have friends that moved to the Perdido Key/Pensacola area and we stayed with them for about a week. We love the Museum and it has a very Mustachian price tag ;)

happy

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #20 on: February 01, 2016, 03:26:52 AM »
Quote
It helped us realize that all we needed was enough and once we had that, we'd be okay.
This is such an important concept and central to mustachianismů having lots more than enough doesn't increase happiness.
I enjoyed your update.. I remember you posting about retirement a while ago.

benjenn

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #21 on: February 01, 2016, 06:31:04 AM »
Congratulations Benjenn!  Such an awesome story!   

What were the few simple changes that saved you a tonne of money?

I think the biggest change we made to begin with was just realizing that all we needed was enough - we didn't need to keep working to just accumulate more just to have it.  That was huge.  If we had continued to work for another 3 years, our original retire early plan, we would have ended up with WAY more than we'd ever need.  I suppose if we'd done that, we wouldn't have to worry much about a budget but I'd trade budgeting versus working any day, especially now that I know what it's really like.  DH and I were both high income earners and walking away from that wasn't easy.  But it's defintely been worth it.

As for actual money-saving ideas we got from MMM, there were quite a few.  We dropped our cable TV ($185 mo.), we moved from AT&T to Repbublic Wireless (going from $245 mo to $32 mo - with the data rebate), we worked our grocery budget and went from spending over $800 mo to about $450 (sometimes even less).  We limited eating out and save about $200 mo doing that (even though our grocery bill went down eating at home more often).  We shopped car insurance and saved $65 mo. 

We cut our clothing budget, especially once we realized we could make do with the work clothes we had because we wouldn't need them much longer.  DH dropped off a huge bag of his work clothes at a donation bin on our way out of town - you just don't need slacks and button down shirts at the beach.  :). We've found some great thrift stores and always go there first if we decide we need something.  In the 6 months we've been here, I think we've spent $8 on clothes.  :)

We even found a way to cut our wine expenses (which is an actual line item in our budget!).  We discovered box wine thanks to MMM!  The same wine we bought regularly in bottles came in boxes and the cost was almost half!  We love the box wine because we never have to throw any away - it stays fresh and sealed.  That saved us over $100 mo.  :)

Even if you don't do your own car maintenance, it pays to do some research and learn what you can.  We recently took our car in to the dealer for a problem with the power steering.  The dealer told us they'd have to replace it and the cost would be over $700.  DH came home and researched it, finding a Honda service bulletin describing the problem we were having due to a defective o-ring that cost $1.52 at the dealer.  There was a video on You-Tube on how to fix it.  DH saved us $722 doing it himself. 

I scoured the budget looking for every way we could trim - and we started this a couple of years ago after finding MMM.  So we really haven't had to make any changes since retiring, we just keep doing what we've been doing.  If you add up all the changes I mentioned above, it really adds up! There's no way we could live on our pension if we hadn't make those changes.  Now, it's easy.

I've always had our budget forecast out to the end of the year but once we decided to retire early, I forecast it out for 10 years.  That gave us our first target date for retiring early.  Then, making the changes we made thanks to MMM, we could see what a difference that made in our forecast and we saw our target date move earlier and earlier with every change.  That was pretty cool to see. 

We've had so many people tell us how impressed they are that we set a goal and then followed through to achieve it but with the goal being NOT WORKING and moving to the beach, it wasn't all that difficult with that waiting for us.  It's been so worth it.

So set that goal and do whatever you can to get there.  I promise you, it will be better than you even imagined!

Basenji

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #22 on: February 01, 2016, 06:42:26 AM »

I've always had our budget forecast out to the end of the year but once we decided to retire early, I forecast it out for 10 years.  That gave us our first target date for retiring early.  Then, making the changes we made thanks to MMM, we could see what a difference that made in our forecast and we saw our target date move earlier and earlier with every change.  That was pretty cool to see.

That's excellent. Can you say more about this? How did you predict expenses? What tools did you use?

AZDude

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2016, 09:46:05 AM »
That view looks wonderful. It made me jump on Zillow to see how much similar ones cost!

Congrats and enjoy. You have earned it!

FrugalZony

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2016, 10:21:04 AM »
Awesome, congratulations!!
Your view looks lovely!

Love to hear others' stories!

We are really close as well. My SO has been Fired for a while already and I'll join in the course of this year.

We'll be driving through your area possibly sometime next year!

benjenn

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #25 on: February 01, 2016, 11:01:26 AM »

I've always had our budget forecast out to the end of the year but once we decided to retire early, I forecast it out for 10 years.  That gave us our first target date for retiring early.  Then, making the changes we made thanks to MMM, we could see what a difference that made in our forecast and we saw our target date move earlier and earlier with every change.  That was pretty cool to see.

That's excellent. Can you say more about this? How did you predict expenses? What tools did you use?

I just use Excel for my budget.  I tried Mint for awhile but I didn't really get much out of it.  In Excel, I have a column for each month of the year and a row for each income or expense item.  I start with our beginning balance, add each month's income, total the expenses for the month and then start the next month with the previous month's ending balance.  I adjust expenses for the current month as they come in so that the current month is always accurate but the future months are estimates.

The next worksheet is for the next year.  It starts with the previous year's ending balance as the beginning balance and projects through each month again.  The next worksheet does the same for the following year.

Each year I go in and try to calculate what I think the increased cost will be due to inflation.  So I'll go up $50 a month next year on groceries and add 10% in for the electric bill, car insurance, etc.  It's not going to be exact but it's a pretty good start at least.

Here's a list of the items in our monthly budget.  The boat is a new addition since we just got it a couple of weeks ago. We got to delete the mortgage line item this year (we knew we were going to do that) and we can change anything we need ot change but just having an idea of what to expect for the next several years made planning easy.

Income                                                       
 Jennifer   
 Ben   
 Ben's Retirement
 Misc
Total
    
 Expenses                                                      
 Boat                                                
 Condo   
 Property Insurance
 Property Taxes
 Electric   
 Cell Phones
 Car Insurance    
 Gas & Maintenance
 Groceries   
 Insurance    
 Wine    
 Hair
 Clothes   
 Vacation   
 Christmas        
 Gifts    
 Misc.   
 Taxes   
 Cash    
 Savings
Total

Balance Forward

Northwestie

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #26 on: February 01, 2016, 11:13:04 AM »
Thanks for adding some of the details - these are always useful as anyone can pick up ideas.  I like the very simple Excel sheet - that's what I've ended up with after trying other systems -

Cookie78

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #27 on: February 01, 2016, 11:30:04 AM »
Wow!! Awesome! Congrats. :)

BFGirl

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #28 on: February 01, 2016, 11:57:29 AM »
That looks so wonderful! How expensive are the condos on the beach? Looking at snow right now & I feel jealous:)).

Units like ours in our building are selling for $300-310K right now for 2 bed, 2 1/2 bath, 1,236 sf and all of them have the same amazing view of the gulf.  We bought ours 5 years ago... Just a couple years after the housing crash and just a few months after the big oil spill (which really didn't affect the area, just the prices) so we got ours for about $80K less than that.  We had no plans to move down here then, we just figured if we didn't buy then, we would kick ourselves later.  Now we're so glad we did.

And if I never see snow again in my life, I'm good with that.  :)

ooooh...that's about the value of my townhouse...something to consider for the future!  Congrats and enjoy!

Aussiegirl

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #29 on: February 01, 2016, 02:54:23 PM »

I think the biggest change we made to begin with was just realizing that all we needed was enough - we didn't need to keep working to just accumulate more just to have it.  That was huge.  If we had continued to work for another 3 years, our original retire early plan, we would have ended up with WAY more than we'd ever need.  I suppose if we'd done that, we wouldn't have to worry much about a budget but I'd trade budgeting versus working any day, especially now that I know what it's really like.  DH and I were both high income earners and walking away from that wasn't easy.  But it's defintely been worth it.

As for actual money-saving ideas we got from MMM, there were quite a few.  We dropped our cable TV ($185 mo.), we moved from AT&T to Repbublic Wireless (going from $245 mo to $32 mo - with the data rebate), we worked our grocery budget and went from spending over $800 mo to about $450 (sometimes even less).  We limited eating out and save about $200 mo doing that (even though our grocery bill went down eating at home more often).  We shopped car insurance and saved $65 mo. 

We cut our clothing budget, especially once we realized we could make do with the work clothes we had because we wouldn't need them much longer.  DH dropped off a huge bag of his work clothes at a donation bin on our way out of town - you just don't need slacks and button down shirts at the beach.  :). We've found some great thrift stores and always go there first if we decide we need something.  In the 6 months we've been here, I think we've spent $8 on clothes.  :)

We even found a way to cut our wine expenses (which is an actual line item in our budget!).  We discovered box wine thanks to MMM!  The same wine we bought regularly in bottles came in boxes and the cost was almost half!  We love the box wine because we never have to throw any away - it stays fresh and sealed.  That saved us over $100 mo.  :)

We've had so many people tell us how impressed they are that we set a goal and then followed through to achieve it but with the goal being NOT WORKING and moving to the beach, it wasn't all that difficult with that waiting for us.  It's been so worth it.

So set that goal and do whatever you can to get there.  I promise you, it will be better than you even imagined!

That is impressive! We are in a similar position - have bought our place by the water and now just counting down to when we can trade the hectic city lifestyle for the more relaxed country water side life.   I have just started looking at trimming our expenses in anticipation of FIRE in about 18 months.  I was thinking I was going to be one of those OMY girls, but reading some posts on this blog about trading the OMY mentality for "I may have to go back to work part time in the future if the markets shitty"  makes me think that FIRE in 18 months is definitely what we should be aiming for.  And your post makes me see that there is still such a lot that I can do as well.  Fortunately my DH is very handy - he can make or fix most things and already does every second service on our car. 

I am super glad that you would trade budgeting for working any day!!   One question - how did you handle leaving the high income jobs.  That's going to be one of our problems, especially other peoples reaction to giving up the good $$ only to have to budget and forgo the expensive wines / eating out that they all take for granted.  They wouldn't DREAM of drinking anything that came out of a cask. 


benjenn

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #30 on: February 01, 2016, 03:39:51 PM »

That is impressive! We are in a similar position - have bought our place by the water and now just counting down to when we can trade the hectic city lifestyle for the more relaxed country water side life.   I have just started looking at trimming our expenses in anticipation of FIRE in about 18 months.  I was thinking I was going to be one of those OMY girls, but reading some posts on this blog about trading the OMY mentality for "I may have to go back to work part time in the future if the markets shitty"  makes me think that FIRE in 18 months is definitely what we should be aiming for.  And your post makes me see that there is still such a lot that I can do as well.  Fortunately my DH is very handy - he can make or fix most things and already does every second service on our car. 

I am super glad that you would trade budgeting for working any day!!   One question - how did you handle leaving the high income jobs.  That's going to be one of our problems, especially other peoples reaction to giving up the good $$ only to have to budget and forgo the expensive wines / eating out that they all take for granted.  They wouldn't DREAM of drinking anything that came out of a cask.

That's what we decided... Worst case scenario, we have to find some kind of part time job to get us through if we need more money.  We think we can handle that and honestly, I don't think it will come to that.

We haven't had a single person react badly to us leaving our high paying jobs.  Most people seem to be honestly envious that we can do it.  We really didn't tell too many people the details or that we'd be living on less than 20% of our previous income after we retired.  I'm sure that would have really freaked out a lot of people because I think most people think it just isn't possible to live happily on so little -- but it really is.  I think most of our friends assume we are living on WAY more than we are and I don't feel the need to tell them otherwise.  Since we moved away from where we had lived, we don't have to turn down invitations to eat out.  Everyone knows how wonderful our condo is so no one thinks we're not living very well, which we really are.  :)

Having a boss I didn't respect or trust made leaving a whole lot easier, too, money or no money involved.  I couldn't be happier.

ahawkchick

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #31 on: February 03, 2016, 07:58:27 PM »
What an inspirational story, thanks for sharing!

Jon_Snow

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #32 on: February 03, 2016, 10:19:17 PM »
Ah, a 6 month FIRE anniversary story...brings back the memories - wait, I'm only 16 months in myself. :)

Congrats benjenn!

Need2Save

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #33 on: February 06, 2016, 10:47:14 AM »
benjenn! awesome, congrats, keep it up!

Please post more regularly so we can learn from your newly minted FIRE status!  Your posts have a lot of good information in them.  I remember reading your posts last year when you were leading up to the big event.  Recently my hubby has been checking out the real estate options in that part of the Gulf Coast.  So we are also curious about options to keep you busy in the 1-3 hours range from your new full-time home.  Like where would you go if you had the itch for a day trip for a change in scenery? 

Also - curious with one son still in college, is he almost done?  did you set aside funds allocated for college tuition part from your FIRE plans?

Hope you don't mind others living vicariously through you!


benjenn

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #34 on: February 06, 2016, 03:50:41 PM »
benjenn! awesome, congrats, keep it up!

Please post more regularly so we can learn from your newly minted FIRE status!  Your posts have a lot of good information in them.  I remember reading your posts last year when you were leading up to the big event.  Recently my hubby has been checking out the real estate options in that part of the Gulf Coast.  So we are also curious about options to keep you busy in the 1-3 hours range from your new full-time home.  Like where would you go if you had the itch for a day trip for a change in scenery? 

Also - curious with one son still in college, is he almost done?  did you set aside funds allocated for college tuition part from your FIRE plans?

Hope you don't mind others living vicariously through you!

Thank you for the nice compliments.  I'm glad you've found my posts helpful.  :). We love to think we can be inspirational for others trying to get out of the rat race.

I hope you can find something you like along the gulf coast.  We think it's the most beautiful place around.  We love how clean the city is, how friendly the people are and how reasonable most prices are down here.  We do pay 10% sales tax but we figure the city offers so much, it's a small price to pay.  Gulf Shores is our favorite area down here but Orange Beach is popular, too.  We like how laid back Gulf Shores is... Orange Beach just feels a little too crowded for us.

As far as day trips go, there's a lot to do.  New Orleans is a 3 1/2 hour drive.  Driving east along the beach is a beautiful drive in itself.  Pensacola (where the Blue Angels are stationed and the awesome Naval Aviation Museum is) is just 30 minutes east.  Past that you have Pensacola Beach, Destin, Navarre and other beachfront communities. We're not big on casinos but Biloxi, MS is FULL of them.  It's about 2 hours away.  We haven't even begun to explore all the areas surrounding us in Alabama but I'm sure there are all kinds of great places waiting for us to find them.

If you ever make it down here to scout out the area, please look us up!  We'd love to have a glass of wine with you and your hubby on our balcony.  :

Our son is halfway through his junior year and he is now on his own as far as tuition goes.  We're still helping him with living expenses, which we had set aside from our budget.  We had him sign a contract with us when he was starting school.  The deal was that he could graduate with a 4 year degree and be debt free but he had to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.  He didn't make that his first semester so we put him on probation and told him he had one more chance - he had to bring his GPA enough to maintain a 3.0 for the year.  He managed to do that so all was well. 

The next semester, it dropped again but he was already enrolled to study abroad in New Zealand for a year.  We told him then that even though his grades had dropped we would pay for that because we wanted him to have that experience but he was on his own after that and would need to get student loans to cover his tuition and books.  We have stuck to that but this was the first semester he's had to cover.  He may graduate in December but if not, he will graduate in May 2017 - so the most he'll have to pay for is 2-3 semesters.

We are really proud of him... He's a terrific young man and so smart.  But we feel that we've got to stand by our word.  We told him he'd been on the "Mom & Dad Scholarship" and it was no different than any other scholarship... If you don't abide by the rules, you lose the scholarship.  He hasn't given us any pushback on it... I think he knew we were serious from the start and he was actually surprised we paid for New Zealand.  Honestly, I think once he graduates, we'll probably pay off his student loans as a graduation present... We had the money set aside, we just wanted to him to accept the responsibility and sweat it out a bit.  :). We're only giving him $500 a month toward his living expenses, too, so he has to work for the rest. 

I understand living vicariously through us and anyone else who has made it out of the rat race.  I know I certainly did that, especially toward the end of my working days.  I promise you, it's even better than you think it's going to be.  :). Keep it up... You'll get here, too! 

Aussiegirl

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #35 on: February 06, 2016, 04:06:00 PM »

I understand living vicariously through us and anyone else who has made it out of the rat race.  I know I certainly did that, especially toward the end of my working days.  I promise you, it's even better than you think it's going to be.  :). Keep it up... You'll get here, too!

Love your work Benjenn.  I am very much looking forward to that day!  Thanks for the inspiration.

Cannot Wait!

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #36 on: February 06, 2016, 04:41:13 PM »
Wow!  I love this story and the view is stunning!
I'm going to mark the date on my calendar for my 6 month in mark and will hopefully have something great to report.

Need2Save

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Re: FIRE - 6 months in
« Reply #37 on: February 08, 2016, 06:58:07 AM »
benjenn! awesome, congrats, keep it up!

Please post more regularly so we can learn from your newly minted FIRE status!  Your posts have a lot of good information in them.  I remember reading your posts last year when you were leading up to the big event.  Recently my hubby has been checking out the real estate options in that part of the Gulf Coast.  So we are also curious about options to keep you busy in the 1-3 hours range from your new full-time home.  Like where would you go if you had the itch for a day trip for a change in scenery? 

Also - curious with one son still in college, is he almost done?  did you set aside funds allocated for college tuition part from your FIRE plans?

Hope you don't mind others living vicariously through you!

I hope you can find something you like along the gulf coast.  We think it's the most beautiful place around.  We love how clean the city is, how friendly the people are and how reasonable most prices are down here.  We do pay 10% sales tax but we figure the city offers so much, it's a small price to pay.  Gulf Shores is our favorite area down here but Orange Beach is popular, too.  We like how laid back Gulf Shores is... Orange Beach just feels a little too crowded for us.

As far as day trips go, there's a lot to do.  New Orleans is a 3 1/2 hour drive.  Driving east along the beach is a beautiful drive in itself.  Pensacola (where the Blue Angels are stationed and the awesome Naval Aviation Museum is) is just 30 minutes east.  Past that you have Pensacola Beach, Destin, Navarre and other beachfront communities. We're not big on casinos but Biloxi, MS is FULL of them.  It's about 2 hours away.  We haven't even begun to explore all the areas surrounding us in Alabama but I'm sure there are all kinds of great places waiting for us to find them.
Our son is halfway through his junior year and he is now on his own as far as tuition goes.  We're still helping him with living expenses, which we had set aside from our budget.  We had him sign a contract with us when he was starting school.  The deal was that he could graduate with a 4 year degree and be debt free but he had to maintain at least a 3.0 GPA.  He didn't make that his first semester so we put him on probation and told him he had one more chance - he had to bring his GPA enough to maintain a 3.0 for the year.  He managed to do that so all was well. 

The next semester, it dropped again but he was already enrolled to study abroad in New Zealand for a year.  We told him then that even though his grades had dropped we would pay for that because we wanted him to have that experience but he was on his own after that and would need to get student loans to cover his tuition and books.  We have stuck to that but this was the first semester he's had to cover.  He may graduate in December but if not, he will graduate in May 2017 - so the most he'll have to pay for is 2-3 semesters.

We are really proud of him... He's a terrific young man and so smart.  But we feel that we've got to stand by our word.  We told him he'd been on the "Mom & Dad Scholarship" and it was no different than any other scholarship... If you don't abide by the rules, you lose the scholarship.  He hasn't given us any pushback on it... I think he knew we were serious from the start and he was actually surprised we paid for New Zealand.  Honestly, I think once he graduates, we'll probably pay off his student loans as a graduation present... We had the money set aside, we just wanted to him to accept the responsibility and sweat it out a bit.  :). We're only giving him $500 a month toward his living expenses, too, so he has to work for the rest. 

Thanks for the info on the area.  I have visited Pensacola before so I'm familiar with that area.  Also, I think your approach to your son's tuition is a good one.  We also have money set aside, but expect both of our sons to continue to earn our help by maintaining a decent GPA.  My first will be going off this fall so this is an active ongoing journey for us that is just starting.