Author Topic: Are we doing this wrong?  (Read 51855 times)

KittyFooFoo

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Are we doing this wrong?
« on: May 03, 2016, 10:06:50 AM »

celticblue

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2016, 10:34:45 AM »
I live in Manhattan (overlooking Central Park), maybe considered the wrong end of town as its Harlem.

I am saving a high percentage of my net income. My income is similar to one half of this couple. Perhaps I can do that because I didn't buy a 'weekend cottage' ?!?! And maybe my apartment does not seem small because I did not add a dog into it? Anyway sarcasm aside I meet endless numbers of people here who say they are 'struggling' and they live much more indulgent lives than me, dress better, take more vacations, eat out more. And still think they are deprived. Its insane how good we have it here - and insane what inflated expectations people have.
How on earth can she talk about cutting up Bounty towels and then drop in that they bought a 'weekend cottage' just to have somewhere to 'escape' to.
Lol.

joleran

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2016, 10:37:19 AM »
So they have an $800k place that they put 30% down on.  That gives them a 30 year fixed mortgage of around $2700/month.  Google says they should only be paying at most another $1000/month on property taxes.  Figure their co-op fees are also $1000/month and round up, that's $5000/month on housing.  That's rough.

But wait! Their actual take-home (if they neglect their 401k's) at their $500k salary should be approximately $26,000/month!  What the hell are they spending $21k on?

Jack

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2016, 10:55:41 AM »
Quote
We pretend it’s normal to spend an hour commuting 6.2 miles in the 106-degree subway as we straddle a puddle of human pee in our new discount sneakers.

Yep, that's "doing it wrong." Riding a bike would get you that distance in half the time.

But wait! Their actual take-home (if they neglect their 401k's) at their $500k salary should be approximately $26,000/month!  What the hell are they spending $21k on?

That is a very good question!

I'll also note that even if they did max out their 401ks, it would only be $3K/month, barely making a dent in that $21K.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 11:01:37 AM by Jack »

chesebert

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2016, 11:06:04 AM »
So they have an $800k place that they put 30% down on.  That gives them a 30 year fixed mortgage of around $2700/month.  Google says they should only be paying at most another $1000/month on property taxes.  Figure their co-op fees are also $1000/month and round up, that's $5000/month on housing.  That's rough.

But wait! Their actual take-home (if they neglect their 401k's) at their $500k salary should be approximately $26,000/month!  What the hell are they spending $21k on?

I bet their co-op fees are more like $3-5k/month, if not more. Same goes with property tax.

I stared down that NYC life five years ago and backed away. A friend (with 2 school age kids) is making $700k+ and struggling... NYC is weird.

NESailor

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2016, 11:09:12 AM »
She writes pretty well, though.  I thought it was funny.  What's also funny to me is how skewed their perspective is.  In my small town WAAAAAAAY up north from the city...they could comfortably work as lawyers and pull in 100K each...buy a giant house in a decent school district with enough acreage to put a small plan runway on for 300K.  Or get a fixer upper for less, save a crapton of money (and time) and FI/RE before they hit 45.  Ahhh...if only I could make my friends and family see that.

TravelJunkyQC

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2016, 11:09:49 AM »
The math just doesn't work out. 500,000$ a year and they can't make it work? Fist, meet face. I don't understand anything anymore.

BigRed

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #7 on: May 03, 2016, 11:12:03 AM »
We live in West LA, so I'm familiar with that feeling that, maybe (quite likely?) the life that you've built just is too much of a reach financially and you should blow the whole thing up and leave.  That's an interesting avenue to explore and could make an excellent piece.  Going through that process of evaluation now and it really is a difficult thing to do.

But, we have 2 kids, 1 adult in graduate school, send the kids to private school and we're still saving over 20% of our income.  And I haven't had to endure the "shame" of cutting any paper towels in half lately, nor have we bought any vacation homes or drawn down our checking account to single digits.

Yikes.

RoseRelish

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2016, 11:15:47 AM »
I think the answer to their inability to save is self-diagnosed...they live a "big life". Eating out every meal. Buying "clearance shoes" from luxury stores is still expensive. Taking a cab to/from work quite a few times a week.

Adding in a country cottage adds another set of bills.

I'm sure they're just terrible budgeters. They prioritize lifestyle over savings.

joleran

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2016, 11:18:46 AM »
I bet their co-op fees are more like $3-5k/month, if not more. Same goes with property tax.

I stared down that NYC life five years ago and backed away. A friend (with 2 school age kids) is making $700k+ and struggling... NYC is weird.

Co-op fees maybe, but NYC property taxes are relatively low.

But even then!  Suppose they're spending $13k/month on housing, they still have $13k left, which is still crazy to blow through.

chesebert

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2016, 11:23:59 AM »
I bet their co-op fees are more like $3-5k/month, if not more. Same goes with property tax.

I stared down that NYC life five years ago and backed away. A friend (with 2 school age kids) is making $700k+ and struggling... NYC is weird.

Co-op fees maybe, but NYC property taxes are relatively low.

But even then!  Suppose they're spending $13k/month on housing, they still have $13k left, which is still crazy to blow through.

their combined student loan payments are probably $4-5k/month.

Few dinners per week at $50/person, some cab rides, a few "discount" designer bag at $2k a piece..and you are probably there...

Anyway, unless one or both make partners, their income will likely decrease in the future...
« Last Edit: May 03, 2016, 11:25:57 AM by chesebert »

Jack

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2016, 11:39:59 AM »
I bet their co-op fees are more like $3-5k/month, if not more. Same goes with property tax.

I stared down that NYC life five years ago and backed away. A friend (with 2 school age kids) is making $700k+ and struggling... NYC is weird.

Co-op fees maybe, but NYC property taxes are relatively low.

But even then!  Suppose they're spending $13k/month on housing, they still have $13k left, which is still crazy to blow through.

their combined student loan payments are probably $4-5k/month.


Okay, fine: even then the $8K/month they would have left over is still more more than the median household's entire monthly income!

Few dinners per week at $50/person, some cab rides, a few "discount" designer bag at $2k a piece..and you are probably there...

Yep, that would have to be the ludicrous part, especially given that I've been led to believe that NYC is the land of awesome, relatively-cheap restaurants.

MgoSam

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2016, 12:36:02 PM »
Quote from: Jack link=topic=55066.msg1073776#msg1073776 date=1462297199

[quote author=chesebert link=topic=55066.msg1073752#msg1073752 date=1462296239
Few dinners per week at $50/person, some cab rides, a few "discount" designer bag at $2k a piece..and you are probably there...

Yep, that would have to be the ludicrous part, especially given that I've been led to believe that NYC is the land of awesome, relatively-cheap restaurants.
[/quote]

Probably not where high-powered attorneys eat unless they are going somewhere off-grid. I imagine that due to their work schedule, they probably order takeout or delivery quite a lot.

In general, I can't imagine living in NYU or SF.

sheepstache

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2016, 04:54:37 PM »
She writes pretty well, though.  I thought it was funny.  What's also funny to me is how skewed their perspective is.  In my small town WAAAAAAAY up north from the city...they could comfortably work as lawyers and pull in 100K each...buy a giant house in a decent school district with enough acreage to put a small plan runway on for 300K.  Or get a fixer upper for less, save a crapton of money (and time) and FI/RE before they hit 45.  Ahhh...if only I could make my friends and family see that.

Ha ha yeah, this pretty much hits the nail on the head. Honestly I think reading it as a personal finance article is "doing it wrong." The point is that because of the high cost of living, it takes an enormous amount of money to get what people in the suburbs would consider basics.

It's like pointing out that if you live in the northeast you can't get as big a yard as you could in rural Alabama. But that's not extreme and therefore not as funny. Making half a million a year and not being able to have things like a dryer or a bathtub is so absurd that it strikes people as funny. Humorous. Droll. It's really not that complicated.

And the author makes it clear that she's in the situation by choice. Including the financial hardship wrought by buying the cottage. You can live cheaply in the city but there's no way to recreate the ease and comfort of living in the suburbs that so many take for granted. When friends going out of town ask us to take their car (because they can't just park their car somewhere for a week like you could in the suburbs because of alternate-side parking rules) we'll usually use it for a daytrip and then swing by a "real" grocery store (!) where you get a cart (!) and it takes more than five minutes to walk through the whole store and at some point we will look at each other in delight at the realization that we can get any amount of canned stuff, juice, olive oil, etc. we want without having to think about how much it weighs because we don't have to carry it home(!!!)

And you do have that moment of, "I'm a successful, employed adult living in a place most people think of as fancy; why am I excited by the luxury of something that so much of the country would consider mundane?"  You visit relatives in the summer and they're like, "Guess this isn't as exciting as the big city, huh" And you're like, "No, this is very exciting. I've been walking around all day and never smelled urine!"

Again, it's more about the deliberate trade offs than finances. And the choices she outlines are spot on. The property taxes and commuting costs aren't worth it to be in the neighboring suburbs unless you're _really_ high-earning so you live with the roaches or move to another part of the country entirely. I mean, these are not insurmountable challenges, plenty of people creatively get around them, but they are the challenges we face and hearing them described so accurately is funny.

Tjat

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2016, 06:23:25 AM »
Yes, you are doing it entirely wrong. If you put your life on hold to focus on your career/schooling AND live in a dump with no money to feel like you're working in said career, you're doing it wrong. If you realize you're doing it wrong and instead double down on an expense country home on top of your already stupid lifestyle, you're really doing it wrong.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #15 on: May 04, 2016, 12:35:32 PM »
I guess this is why I see so many New York plates around here. But damn is that a long commute...

ariapluscat

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #16 on: May 04, 2016, 01:22:26 PM »
I think if any couple is making $500,000/ year and can't be happy with their daily living situation they're doing it wrong. And if you can describe yourself as part of the 1% and then mention the one time you cut a paper towel in half only semi-ironically, you're def doing it so wrong on so many levels.

Also, if you're paying a large amount of co-op fees, you and the co-op should be able to pressure the community to have better things like no pests or dog-friendly common areas or fun kid friendly events.

More so, if you are living with a cat/dog and also with mice - you should've gotten a mouser cat.

When I 'Devil Wears Prada' imagine myself, I imagine myself with a giant maine coon cat and the best crazy-wonderful friends possible in a politically active co-op.

sirdoug007

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2016, 02:08:50 PM »
Yes, you are doing this wrong.

I love the part where she laments how cramped their apartment is... then they mention a mouse running under A FUCKING BABY GRAND PIANO!!!!


patchyfacialhair

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2016, 02:23:42 PM »
I just did a quick rental search of 2x2 apartments in the UES, and found many in the 4-6k range. Assuming a 50% effective tax rate, that's about 20k per month for these folks.

So let me give this a good ol' college try:
5000 rent (so she doesn't have to share a tiny shower stall)
1000 utilities (because premium channels, right?)
3600 food (20 per meal per person, because why the heck not)
3000 bars/clubs (50 per day per person; is there any other way to network?)
1000 clothes (no more clearance racks yo)
2000 vacation/travel (i mean, ski trips and beach vacations don't pay for themselves)
2000 possibly debt (i'm just trying to fill in numbers at this point)
2400 savings/bullspit

20000 total

I can't even comprehend any of those line items. These folks are insane.

Dollar Slice

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2016, 02:28:17 PM »
I love the part where she laments how cramped their apartment is... then they mention a mouse running under A FUCKING BABY GRAND PIANO!!!!

I also live in Upper Manhattan and the other day I was on the subway and overheard a couple having a conversation about whether they should take the piano that a friend of theirs was giving away. It became clear that the piano didn't even work (she said it was "a sick piano," ill with a bad case of verdigris, and would be expensive to fix) and she just thought it would look nice in the livingroom.

NYC is a very strange place. But these people are still doing something heinous with their budget. My apartment sounds nicer than theirs - though smaller - is in a better neighborhood (IMO) and I'm only making five figures and still saving a decent amount.

dandarc

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2016, 02:35:24 PM »
I just did a quick rental search of 2x2 apartments in the UES, and found many in the 4-6k range. Assuming a 50% effective tax rate, that's about 20k per month for these folks.

So let me give this a good ol' college try:
5000 rent (so she doesn't have to share a tiny shower stall)
1000 utilities (because premium channels, right?)
3600 food (20 per meal per person, because why the heck not)
3000 bars/clubs (50 per day per person; is there any other way to network?)
1000 clothes (no more clearance racks yo)
2000 vacation/travel (i mean, ski trips and beach vacations don't pay for themselves)
2000 possibly debt (i'm just trying to fill in numbers at this point)
2400 savings/bullspit

20000 total

I can't even comprehend any of those line items. These folks are insane.
Yeah - seems the answer is to sell the apartment and rent.  Free up maybe $400K (assuming they didn't cash-out to buy the cottage) and lower expenses at the same time!  Price to rent is over 35 in NYC - by owning you're speculating vs making a rational housing choice.

StockBeard

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2016, 05:13:30 PM »
I can't empathize at all with the author of this article.
As others have pointed out, with an income of $500'000 a year I don't think there's anywhere in the world a couple couldn't live comfortably, New York included.

The article reveals lots of financial liabilities: taxi, gym membership, a second house, prepared/processed food, a dog, bourbon, and if you read between the lines you can see an obvious addiction for expensive clothe brands. Yes, these things are cool, but the problem is in having all of those and refusing to make choices.

I have friends who are like this, both bring big salaries, but think they deserve to live the "high life". Can't get ahead financially and complain a lot about it. Eat out for lunch and dinner, every day.

I understand that some people like to live in the city. I've lived in Tokyo for years and can't wait to get back there, it's convenient and entertaining. It's no excuse to forget common sense.

db_cooper

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2016, 05:27:58 PM »
They're absolutely doing it wrong. Costco paper towels have perforations in the middle.  No shame necessary.

Cassie

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2016, 05:32:35 PM »
They are broke so their solution is to buy a vacation home?  Who in their right mind does that.

tyort1

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2016, 05:33:16 PM »
The problem is that they want to live a prestige lifestyle, which has at it's heart - social status.  And status is an external locus of control.  She is starting to notice that having status does not confer long term happiness, and in fact detracts from it because it's an endless hole that you can never fill. 

She won't be happy until she figures out "Hey, all this 'stuff' doesn't make me happy", and follows that up with "Hmm, I wonder what DOES actually make me happy?"

aasdfadsf

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2016, 09:57:15 PM »
But wait! Their actual take-home (if they neglect their 401k's) at their $500k salary should be approximately $26,000/month!  What the hell are they spending $21k on?

I have never seen one of these "Sad Tales of the One Percent" articles in which the numbers come even close to adding up. Even making the most generous assumptions possible, there are thousands of dollars left over every month unaccounted for.

Either these people have some dark secret they're not letting us in on, or far more likely, they indulge in huge amounts of thoughtless luxury spending. Mentioning that would make it harder to wallow in pity though.

GrumpyPenguin

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #26 on: May 05, 2016, 05:25:24 AM »
They're absolutely doing it wrong. Costco paper towels have perforations in the middle.  No shame necessary.

Ha! True!

MonkeyJenga

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #27 on: May 05, 2016, 05:56:11 AM »
TRIGGER WARNING: she had to cut a paper towel in half once

Best trigger warning I've seen to date.

Data point: I spend under $2,000 a month in NYC, with ridiculous-to-me rent included.

dogboyslim

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #28 on: May 05, 2016, 11:25:28 AM »
So they have an $800k place that they put 30% down on.  That gives them a 30 year fixed mortgage of around $2700/month.  Google says they should only be paying at most another $1000/month on property taxes.  Figure their co-op fees are also $1000/month and round up, that's $5000/month on housing.  That's rough.

But wait! Their actual take-home (if they neglect their 401k's) at their $500k salary should be approximately $26,000/month!  What the hell are they spending $21k on?

I'm guessing their take-home is more like $21k a month assuming they contribute to the 401k and have other benefit costs that are netted out of the paycheck.  It doesn't really change the argument, but I do think you overstated monthly take-home.

Daisyedwards800

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #29 on: May 05, 2016, 11:37:15 AM »
http://observer.com/2016/04/are-we-doing-this-wrong-the-doubts-of-one-wealthy-new-yorker/

TRIGGER WARNING: she had to cut a paper towel in half once

A few things:  it does suck to have a million dollar home and still have mice and cockroaches.  Secondly, anywhere even within Manhattan takes 30-60 minutes to get to work, if you aren't in walking distance.  Building in time for the subway is necessary so you aren't late.  So even though they live near work, they still have a really long commute.  Sucks.

sheepstache

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #30 on: May 05, 2016, 01:56:24 PM »
Quote
We pretend it’s normal to spend an hour commuting 6.2 miles in the 106-degree subway as we straddle a puddle of human pee in our new discount sneakers.

Yep, that's "doing it wrong." Riding a bike would get you that distance in half the time.


Not to nitpick, but not necessarily. An express subway during rush hour or through midtown is way faster than driving and you face the same issues as drivers when biking. True, you can roll past a block's worth of congestion as cars wait at a red light, but that's only if your "lane" isn't filled by double-parked delivery trucks, food carts, and impatient pedestrians who left the sidewalk because it's blocked by people "walking" while typing on their smart phones (</rant>). And there are traffic lights on every block (~1/10th of a mile). So it's really inaccurate to assume anything based on how fast you can bike 6.2 miles anywhere else. Even when traffic is moving freely, the lights are timed for vehicle speed so if you can't keep up with that you'll get stopped pretty frequently. You save time by being able to roll directly to your destination rather than walking to/from the subway, but for a convenient commute the walk won't be that far so you may lose just as much time as you gain carrying your bike out of your apartment building and locking it up at the destination.  I'm not saying this to support any complainypants saying they can't bike commute in New York. But time-wise there are plenty of routes where it's not worth it or only worth it if you've got good reflexes and a willingness to cruise through red lights.  Lest this all sound too subjective, you can look up a couple routes on google maps and see for yourself. For example Upper East Side to Lower Manhttan is 24 minutes on the local train and 34 minutes by bike.

Dollar Slice

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #31 on: May 05, 2016, 02:23:31 PM »
Lest this all sound too subjective, you can look up a couple routes on google maps and see for yourself. For example Upper East Side to Lower Manhttan is 24 minutes on the local train and 34 minutes by bike.

Yeah, my commute is roughly four miles through Manhattan and the subway is probably faster by 5-10 minutes. And it's much more flexible not to have to drag a vehicle around with you all the time. And she mentioned taking the 4 train which is an express line, so it's even faster.

P.S. For non-New Yorkers, the subways here are air-conditioned. Claiming it's "an hour commuting 6.2 miles in the 106-degree subway" is simply a lie. My summer commute is ~5 minutes on the unpleasantly hot subway platform and 15 minutes on the air-conditioned subway car to go 4 miles. This level of "woe is me" hyperbole probably tells you everything you need to know about the author.

serpentstooth

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #32 on: May 05, 2016, 02:33:35 PM »
So they have an $800k place that they put 30% down on.  That gives them a 30 year fixed mortgage of around $2700/month.  Google says they should only be paying at most another $1000/month on property taxes.  Figure their co-op fees are also $1000/month and round up, that's $5000/month on housing.  That's rough.

But wait! Their actual take-home (if they neglect their 401k's) at their $500k salary should be approximately $26,000/month!  What the hell are they spending $21k on?

Generally the way coops work is you pay one bill for the coop's fees, and it includes the property tax for various legal reasons. My co-op fee for a 2 bedroom in Queens is $775/month, and that covers the property tax ($2700/yr), all utilities except air conditioning, salaries for the building staff and repairs to the exterior, wiring, plumbing and public parts of the building. I would guess their coop fee, including property tax is closer to $3000/month. Older buildings tend to have a lot more costs than mine, and if they are in a landmarked area, there are limitations on what kind of work the buildings can do, which drives up costs.

serpentstooth

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #33 on: May 05, 2016, 02:39:31 PM »
She writes pretty well, though.  I thought it was funny.  What's also funny to me is how skewed their perspective is.  In my small town WAAAAAAAY up north from the city...they could comfortably work as lawyers and pull in 100K each...buy a giant house in a decent school district with enough acreage to put a small plan runway on for 300K.  Or get a fixer upper for less, save a crapton of money (and time) and FI/RE before they hit 45.  Ahhh...if only I could make my friends and family see that.

Ha ha yeah, this pretty much hits the nail on the head. Honestly I think reading it as a personal finance article is "doing it wrong." The point is that because of the high cost of living, it takes an enormous amount of money to get what people in the suburbs would consider basics.

It's like pointing out that if you live in the northeast you can't get as big a yard as you could in rural Alabama. But that's not extreme and therefore not as funny. Making half a million a year and not being able to have things like a dryer or a bathtub is so absurd that it strikes people as funny. Humorous. Droll. It's really not that complicated.

And the author makes it clear that she's in the situation by choice. Including the financial hardship wrought by buying the cottage. You can live cheaply in the city but there's no way to recreate the ease and comfort of living in the suburbs that so many take for granted. When friends going out of town ask us to take their car (because they can't just park their car somewhere for a week like you could in the suburbs because of alternate-side parking rules) we'll usually use it for a daytrip and then swing by a "real" grocery store (!) where you get a cart (!) and it takes more than five minutes to walk through the whole store and at some point we will look at each other in delight at the realization that we can get any amount of canned stuff, juice, olive oil, etc. we want without having to think about how much it weighs because we don't have to carry it home(!!!)

And you do have that moment of, "I'm a successful, employed adult living in a place most people think of as fancy; why am I excited by the luxury of something that so much of the country would consider mundane?"  You visit relatives in the summer and they're like, "Guess this isn't as exciting as the big city, huh" And you're like, "No, this is very exciting. I've been walking around all day and never smelled urine!"

Again, it's more about the deliberate trade offs than finances. And the choices she outlines are spot on. The property taxes and commuting costs aren't worth it to be in the neighboring suburbs unless you're _really_ high-earning so you live with the roaches or move to another part of the country entirely. I mean, these are not insurmountable challenges, plenty of people creatively get around them, but they are the challenges we face and hearing them described so accurately is funny.

Whenever I go back home, I must look like a recent defector from the Soviet Union. This grocery store! So big! So clean! So much food! So much selection! The people, so civilized! Etc. As it is, I need to deal with Logistics when I go to Costco to shop with the baby. I tally up the weight of my food relative to the weight capacity of my stroller.

We're saving up to move back to my hometown, which will leave Mr. Tooth commuting 2 hours each way to keep the property taxes and housing costs sane. I am STILL projecting our costs going up due to the need to run one, if not two, vehicles. I'd leave the region entirely, but unless Mr. Tooth changes careers, that really isn't possible.

serpentstooth

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #34 on: May 05, 2016, 02:42:10 PM »
I guess this is why I see so many New York plates around here. But damn is that a long commute...

I take the Bieber bus from the Port Authority to Kutztown to visit my grandmother and if you take it at the right time of day, you will see the NYC commuters. There are these free newspapers they hand out to subway commuters and they are FULL of ads for houses in the Poconos. People do the commute, which is boggling.

Also, now I want Josh Early chocolate.

serpentstooth

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #35 on: May 05, 2016, 02:50:13 PM »
Also, if you're paying a large amount of co-op fees, you and the co-op should be able to pressure the community to have better things like no pests or dog-friendly common areas or fun kid friendly events.

I'm not sure the building can do much about the pests, which are kind of a feature of urban life. My building has an exterminator on retainer, and I have the supplies to treat my own apartment between his monthly visits, and I STILL get a few roaches a month. I can't control how my other forty neighbors handle food and other pest risks in their apartment rigorously enough to maintain a roach free building, and it's not like my coop board can either, and nor can we control what people in OTHER buildings nearby do to provide a friendly environment for pests.

Cassie

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #36 on: May 05, 2016, 04:51:55 PM »
4 hours/day of commuting sounds horrible. Are you sure it will be worth it?  That won't leave much family time.

serpentstooth

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #37 on: May 05, 2016, 04:55:07 PM »
4 hours/day of commuting sounds horrible. Are you sure it will be worth it?  That won't leave much family time.

It's quite common in this area, and my father did it as well. We're already at 3 hours. New Yorkers have some of the longest commutes in the country. There are real tradeoffs for moving, but there are significant advantages that would accrue to our children, including seeing their grandparents daily.

FINate

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #38 on: May 05, 2016, 05:43:56 PM »
The problem is that they want to live a prestige lifestyle, which has at it's heart - social status.  And status is an external locus of control.  She is starting to notice that having status does not confer long term happiness, and in fact detracts from it because it's an endless hole that you can never fill. 

She won't be happy until she figures out "Hey, all this 'stuff' doesn't make me happy", and follows that up with "Hmm, I wonder what DOES actually make me happy?"

So true!! The prestige lifestyle includes things like sending your kids to the "right" schools. A big part of the motivation is so mom and dad can brag to their friends about where their kids go/went to school.

onlykelsey

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #39 on: May 05, 2016, 05:52:52 PM »
She writes pretty well, though.  I thought it was funny.  What's also funny to me is how skewed their perspective is.  In my small town WAAAAAAAY up north from the city...they could comfortably work as lawyers and pull in 100K each...buy a giant house in a decent school district with enough acreage to put a small plan runway on for 300K.  Or get a fixer upper for less, save a crapton of money (and time) and FI/RE before they hit 45.  Ahhh...if only I could make my friends and family see that.

Ha ha yeah, this pretty much hits the nail on the head. Honestly I think reading it as a personal finance article is "doing it wrong." The point is that because of the high cost of living, it takes an enormous amount of money to get what people in the suburbs would consider basics.

It's like pointing out that if you live in the northeast you can't get as big a yard as you could in rural Alabama. But that's not extreme and therefore not as funny. Making half a million a year and not being able to have things like a dryer or a bathtub is so absurd that it strikes people as funny. Humorous. Droll. It's really not that complicated.

And the author makes it clear that she's in the situation by choice. Including the financial hardship wrought by buying the cottage. You can live cheaply in the city but there's no way to recreate the ease and comfort of living in the suburbs that so many take for granted. When friends going out of town ask us to take their car (because they can't just park their car somewhere for a week like you could in the suburbs because of alternate-side parking rules) we'll usually use it for a daytrip and then swing by a "real" grocery store (!) where you get a cart (!) and it takes more than five minutes to walk through the whole store and at some point we will look at each other in delight at the realization that we can get any amount of canned stuff, juice, olive oil, etc. we want without having to think about how much it weighs because we don't have to carry it home(!!!)

And you do have that moment of, "I'm a successful, employed adult living in a place most people think of as fancy; why am I excited by the luxury of something that so much of the country would consider mundane?"  You visit relatives in the summer and they're like, "Guess this isn't as exciting as the big city, huh" And you're like, "No, this is very exciting. I've been walking around all day and never smelled urine!"

Again, it's more about the deliberate trade offs than finances. And the choices she outlines are spot on. The property taxes and commuting costs aren't worth it to be in the neighboring suburbs unless you're _really_ high-earning so you live with the roaches or move to another part of the country entirely. I mean, these are not insurmountable challenges, plenty of people creatively get around them, but they are the challenges we face and hearing them described so accurately is funny.

Whenever I go back home, I must look like a recent defector from the Soviet Union. This grocery store! So big! So clean! So much food! So much selection! The people, so civilized! Etc. As it is, I need to deal with Logistics when I go to Costco to shop with the baby. I tally up the weight of my food relative to the weight capacity of my stroller.

We're saving up to move back to my hometown, which will leave Mr. Tooth commuting 2 hours each way to keep the property taxes and housing costs sane. I am STILL projecting our costs going up due to the need to run one, if not two, vehicles. I'd leave the region entirely, but unless Mr. Tooth changes careers, that really isn't possible.

I sometimes stand in peoples' living rooms outside Manhattan and spin around with my arms out like a bird, just because I can.

serpentstooth

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #40 on: May 05, 2016, 05:54:50 PM »
She writes pretty well, though.  I thought it was funny.  What's also funny to me is how skewed their perspective is.  In my small town WAAAAAAAY up north from the city...they could comfortably work as lawyers and pull in 100K each...buy a giant house in a decent school district with enough acreage to put a small plan runway on for 300K.  Or get a fixer upper for less, save a crapton of money (and time) and FI/RE before they hit 45.  Ahhh...if only I could make my friends and family see that.

Ha ha yeah, this pretty much hits the nail on the head. Honestly I think reading it as a personal finance article is "doing it wrong." The point is that because of the high cost of living, it takes an enormous amount of money to get what people in the suburbs would consider basics.

It's like pointing out that if you live in the northeast you can't get as big a yard as you could in rural Alabama. But that's not extreme and therefore not as funny. Making half a million a year and not being able to have things like a dryer or a bathtub is so absurd that it strikes people as funny. Humorous. Droll. It's really not that complicated.

And the author makes it clear that she's in the situation by choice. Including the financial hardship wrought by buying the cottage. You can live cheaply in the city but there's no way to recreate the ease and comfort of living in the suburbs that so many take for granted. When friends going out of town ask us to take their car (because they can't just park their car somewhere for a week like you could in the suburbs because of alternate-side parking rules) we'll usually use it for a daytrip and then swing by a "real" grocery store (!) where you get a cart (!) and it takes more than five minutes to walk through the whole store and at some point we will look at each other in delight at the realization that we can get any amount of canned stuff, juice, olive oil, etc. we want without having to think about how much it weighs because we don't have to carry it home(!!!)

And you do have that moment of, "I'm a successful, employed adult living in a place most people think of as fancy; why am I excited by the luxury of something that so much of the country would consider mundane?"  You visit relatives in the summer and they're like, "Guess this isn't as exciting as the big city, huh" And you're like, "No, this is very exciting. I've been walking around all day and never smelled urine!"

Again, it's more about the deliberate trade offs than finances. And the choices she outlines are spot on. The property taxes and commuting costs aren't worth it to be in the neighboring suburbs unless you're _really_ high-earning so you live with the roaches or move to another part of the country entirely. I mean, these are not insurmountable challenges, plenty of people creatively get around them, but they are the challenges we face and hearing them described so accurately is funny.

Whenever I go back home, I must look like a recent defector from the Soviet Union. This grocery store! So big! So clean! So much food! So much selection! The people, so civilized! Etc. As it is, I need to deal with Logistics when I go to Costco to shop with the baby. I tally up the weight of my food relative to the weight capacity of my stroller.

We're saving up to move back to my hometown, which will leave Mr. Tooth commuting 2 hours each way to keep the property taxes and housing costs sane. I am STILL projecting our costs going up due to the need to run one, if not two, vehicles. I'd leave the region entirely, but unless Mr. Tooth changes careers, that really isn't possible.

I sometimes stand in peoples' living rooms outside Manhattan and spin around with my arms out like a bird, just because I can.

When we closed on our 1000 sq ft apartment, we ran round the empty living room in circles just because we could. Our last place was 650 sq ft and this place feels HUGE.

smella

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #41 on: May 05, 2016, 06:11:38 PM »
This is horrifying! My wife and I live extravagantly (by mustachian standards) in a hip neighborhood of brooklyn and still put away 60% of our low-6-figs combined income.   we don't have a bedroom for our son, but hey, its not like we can touch all 4 walls at once.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #42 on: May 06, 2016, 05:03:30 AM »
I guess this is why I see so many New York plates around here. But damn is that a long commute...

I take the Bieber bus from the Port Authority to Kutztown to visit my grandmother and if you take it at the right time of day, you will see the NYC commuters. There are these free newspapers they hand out to subway commuters and they are FULL of ads for houses in the Poconos. People do the commute, which is boggling.

Also, now I want Josh Early chocolate.

A few times a year I have to go into Philadelphia (I take the Bieber bus from Quakertown), and that's unpleasant but manageable - less than an hour in the bus if you take the 6:15. I could do it every day, for a while, if I lost my work-from-home job. I can't comprehend spending three hours of every day on the bus to and from New York. But my wife has SAHM friends whose husbands do it.

But I guess a rowhouse in a decent part of Easton must feel luxuriously large without losing the urban neighborhood feel, and it's certainly quite a bit cheaper.

People also pay to take buses from New York City to come to the Lehigh Valley and spend all day in one of the municipal parks. That makes New York seem absolutely miserable.

obstinate

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #43 on: May 07, 2016, 02:47:38 PM »
So they have an $800k place that they put 30% down on.  That gives them a 30 year fixed mortgage of around $2700/month.  Google says they should only be paying at most another $1000/month on property taxes.  Figure their co-op fees are also $1000/month and round up, that's $5000/month on housing.  That's rough.

But wait! Their actual take-home (if they neglect their 401k's) at their $500k salary should be approximately $26,000/month!  What the hell are they spending $21k on?

I bet their co-op fees are more like $3-5k/month, if not more. Same goes with property tax.

I stared down that NYC life five years ago and backed away. A friend (with 2 school age kids) is making $700k+ and struggling... NYC is weird.

Nobody is making 700k+ and struggling in Manhattan unless they are stupid.

serpentstooth

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #44 on: May 07, 2016, 03:07:09 PM »
I guess this is why I see so many New York plates around here. But damn is that a long commute...

I take the Bieber bus from the Port Authority to Kutztown to visit my grandmother and if you take it at the right time of day, you will see the NYC commuters. There are these free newspapers they hand out to subway commuters and they are FULL of ads for houses in the Poconos. People do the commute, which is boggling.

Also, now I want Josh Early chocolate.

A few times a year I have to go into Philadelphia (I take the Bieber bus from Quakertown), and that's unpleasant but manageable - less than an hour in the bus if you take the 6:15. I could do it every day, for a while, if I lost my work-from-home job. I can't comprehend spending three hours of every day on the bus to and from New York. But my wife has SAHM friends whose husbands do it.

But I guess a rowhouse in a decent part of Easton must feel luxuriously large without losing the urban neighborhood feel, and it's certainly quite a bit cheaper.

People also pay to take buses from New York City to come to the Lehigh Valley and spend all day in one of the municipal parks. That makes New York seem absolutely miserable.

My hometown is within driving distance of NYC, and there's a state park on my street. In the summer, it fills up with New Yorkers by 9 am. On occasion, the police have had to close our street entirely to keep the crowds under control. They'd only let you in if you could show proof of residency.

RagingRanter

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #45 on: May 15, 2016, 10:34:50 AM »
I have never seen one of these "Sad Tales of the One Percent" articles in which the numbers come even close to adding up. Even making the most generous assumptions possible, there are thousands of dollars left over every month unaccounted for.

Either these people have some dark secret they're not letting us in on, or far more likely, they indulge in huge amounts of thoughtless luxury spending. Mentioning that would make it harder to wallow in pity though.

Yah, but who wants to write about their blow habit? Even if she was honest about it, the editors would never publish it. So any controversial or "scandalous" spending is simply left out. And it may not be anything as bad as that. Maybe they like blowing a few grand in the casinos once per month. Maybe they take very expensive vacations 3x per year because "we work hard and we deserve it". And who knows? Maybe those items <i>were</i> included in the article, but the editor took them out so the author would seem a little easier to empathise with.

I believe that status-seeking is what can explain the black hole you mention. Living the NYC lifestyle 24/7 means so much to them. If you can't participate in the daily conversations of your well-heeled friends, colleagues and clients because you haven't eaten at the pricey restaurants, visited the exotic places, and drank the vintage wines that they have, then you don't have status among them. Period. Plus, you need to have done a few expensive things that nobody else has done, right? Otherwise you're just a pathetic try-hard desperate to fit in. Status means mindless conformity and carefully-crafted individuality in just the right balance! Considering all that, that black hole of spending is probably pretty mundane. Just filled with a million expensive, stupid luxuries that no sane person could need, and most of us don't even want.

Blindsquirrel

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #46 on: May 15, 2016, 06:55:32 PM »
   Wow, half a million a year and broke? WTF if you spent $1000 a day on hookers and blow along with a place to stay you would still be doing the same after taxes. SMH.

franklin w. dixon

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #47 on: May 15, 2016, 09:46:59 PM »

Seppia

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #48 on: May 16, 2016, 02:12:14 AM »
The article is insane.

Yes the city is crazy expensive (especially in terms of housing), but when we lived in NYC, my wife and I were
1- living in a better neighborhood (battery park city) than these people.
2- earned significantly less than half this couple
3- went on dive vacations on tropical islands twice per year (one 10 day long and a shorter 5 day one)
4- plus a trip to the western USA in summer (Colorado, Utah, Washington etc depending on the year)
5- plus one or (more often) two trips back to Europe per year to see family.
6- had guests at home at least twice per week and paid for all food and drinks

and still saved more than 50% of our income.

It's true that unless you make a shitload of money it's incredibly hard to save more than 50% in NYC, but I still think it's definitely worth it since salaries are so much higher in certain fields.

Saving 30% of $100k is equal to saving 50% of 60k, and (assuming you aren't one of those who think you cannot ever move) it's only the absolute value of your savings that matters, not the savings rate.

tyort1

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Re: Are we doing this wrong?
« Reply #49 on: May 16, 2016, 12:58:12 PM »
The article is insane.

Yes the city is crazy expensive (especially in terms of housing), but when we lived in NYC, my wife and I were
1- living in a better neighborhood (battery park city) than these people.
2- earned significantly less than half this couple
3- went on dive vacations on tropical islands twice per year (one 10 day long and a shorter 5 day one)
4- plus a trip to the western USA in summer (Colorado, Utah, Washington etc depending on the year)
5- plus one or (more often) two trips back to Europe per year to see family.
6- had guests at home at least twice per week and paid for all food and drinks

and still saved more than 50% of our income.

It's true that unless you make a shitload of money it's incredibly hard to save more than 50% in NYC, but I still think it's definitely worth it since salaries are so much higher in certain fields.

Saving 30% of $100k is equal to saving 50% of 60k, and (assuming you aren't one of those who think you cannot ever move) it's only the absolute value of your savings that matters, not the savings rate.

That's a really good way to look at it - maximize "absolute" amount of $$ saved in a HCOL, build the stache at an accelerated pace, then move to a LCOL for FIRE.  Smart.