Author Topic: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)  (Read 18334 times)

PharmaStache

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Also, if your DH is under-compensated, do you take that in to account in your charitable giving?  If I was working for a church (or other non-profit)  that paid me $5000 a year (as an example) less than I could make elsewhere and required me to have a phone but didn't pay anything for it, I'd look at that as a de facto $5500 charitable donation because I'd be donating my skills in a way, and saving the church $5500, which is about the same as giving them $5500.

This!  It sounds like him working there is your form of charitable giving. 

freya

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Congrats on the progress!  And, thanks for the tip about medical/scientific writing.

I suggest taking the money that's sitting in checking/savings and wiping out the car loan.  Take the rest and open a high-interest online savings account, like Ally Bank or Barclay's.  Opinions may vary, but I personally like to keep at least 6 months expenses there.  After that you can think about starting a taxable investment account - congrats when that milestone comes up!

The one thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is the electric bill.  I don't understand the reason for the $200 in an area with probably low electricity costs.  Are you using incandescent light bulbs, leaving lights on all day/night?  Is your refrigerator ancient?  Is that $200 only in summer because you're using air conditioning, or is it also electric heat in winter?  Do you have extra chest freezers and dehumidifiers running?

If you aren't sure where the juice is going, get a Kill-a-watt meter and check power consumption of every gadget you own.  If the culprit is an old appliance, consider how long a replacement will take to pay for itself in lower electricity costs.  Try closing off rooms you don't need to heat/air condition.  Turn off lights and gadgets you don't need.  Weatherstrip the windows.  Buy LED bulbs on Amazon - they're getting pretty cheap now.

good luck!




startingsmall

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The one thing that hasn't been mentioned yet is the electric bill.  I don't understand the reason for the $200 in an area with probably low electricity costs.  Are you using incandescent light bulbs, leaving lights on all day/night?  Is your refrigerator ancient?  Is that $200 only in summer because you're using air conditioning, or is it also electric heat in winter?  Do you have extra chest freezers and dehumidifiers running?


This number is from this summer, with air conditioning set at 75 degrees in 2000 sq ft house with big windows and minimal shade in NC (where the summer was one of the hottest in recent years). I anticipate that it will be lower in the winter. (We moved in back in April and the first month or two was around $100-150ish, I think.... though I don't have exact numbers in front of me right now.)

All but $2000 of our cash is with Capital One 350 at 0.75% APY.  Could get a bit better with Ally or Barclay, I guess, but not quite enough to lure me to make a chance when I've been happy with Capital One 360 (and previously ING) forever.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2016, 07:17:38 PM by startingsmall »

myhotrs

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I keep my emergency fund at Lake Michigan CU (lmcu.org), they offer a 3% checking (on up to $15k) with a few easy hoops to jump through (dd, e-statements, and 10 debit card uses a month). I just pay my electric bill $2 at a time or 10 $1 Amazon gift cards, etc.

Anyone can join and they've been great to work with the few times I needed to call in.

hoping2retire35

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Just curious why are you both driving that far to work after moving? NC piedmont region, I know, has some really rural areas without a lot to do but that only goes on so far until you find a fun town.

startingsmall

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Just curious why are you both driving that far to work after moving? NC piedmont region, I know, has some really rural areas without a lot to do but that only goes on so far until you find a fun town.

Our jobs are located 22 miles apart. We could cut mileage a bit by living a bit more directly between our two jobs, but there was nothing for sale along that road. Instead, our house basically sits at the 90 degree angle of a triangle connecting our house to our jobs - the house is 5 miles south of his job, 20 miles west of mine.

A lot of my husband's commute comes from the fact that he does daycare dropoff/pickup most days. Daycare is about 8 miles southwest of our house. Next year, when our daughter starts school (very close to our new home), his commute will be go down to 10-12 miles per day. Mine will stay approx 40 mi/day until I find something that lets me work from home.

We're in a pretty nowhere area (rural / small town) and pastor/veterinarian aren't exactly jobs that you can find just anywhere, so this is as good as it's going to get unless we relocate to a new area completely (something that he is not open to at this time, though it will hopefully happen eventually). He does not want to leave his church and the only vet clinics near his church are not places that I would be comfortable working from an ethical standpoint. So a lot of driving is kind of inevitable.  At least we decreased it from the old house.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2016, 08:42:06 PM by startingsmall »

ohsnap

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I'll give the counterpoint to some of the suggestions to cut charitable giving.  Your charitable giving is very reasonable given your income and spending levels.  You've done a great job of increasing your total savings in the last couple of years. I'm not sure why some posters have suggested cutting charity - where would that "savings" go? You have plenty of income to cover retirement savings AND charitable giving, and it looks like quite a bit left over, at your current income level.  Obviously you'd cut it some if your income got cut.  I'd suggest making a budget for your projected income & spending with your reduced work schedule and see what you come up with.

I know this is a financial board, but it's also a place where we talk about maximizing happiness...money is just a tool.  For a Christian, as long as you're not neglecting your bills, some level of charitable giving is non-negotiable, and I believe it contributes to happiness and satisfaction with life. (if it doesn't, then don't do it...God loves a cheerful giver).

Also see Luke 12:16-21.  You have an abundant harvest but a nice barn already; don't store it all up.

startingsmall

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So.... it's been a year and a half. Time for an update!!  (For anyone who's interested, but also just because I like having these to look back on.)

Last week was my last week of full-time employment as a veterinarian. Hopefully ever.

I took a new position, working only 15 hrs/wk. The rest of my time is now devoted to my freelance writing business, my family, and some volunteer work. This is AMAZING. This week was my first week of the new schedule.... I feel like I'm already reaping all of the benefits of FIRE and could go at this pace forever!! In my mind, I'm basically semi-FIRE. I know that I may not always be so content with even PT work, though, so we're still focusing on savings.... albeit with less urgency.

Income:  $130-150k/yr
My PT job: $50k/yr
Husband's FT job: $50k/yr (salary plus reimbursements)
My freelance income: The big question. I've averaged $20k/yr over the last few years, but I've turned down a lot of work due to lack of available time. Last week, I made $900 on freelance work and could have taken on even more. So, realistically, I'm expecting to make at least $30-50k.... hopefully even more. We'll see. 

Current expenses: $6047/mo
mortgage - $1146
water - $30
electric - $130
internet/phone/cable - $145 
trash - $25
Netflix - $10   
lawn guy - $65 (averaged over year)
cell phones  - $188
car insurance - $210
truck payment for husband - $466 (facepunch away, but necessary for marital peacekeeping. could have paid cash but it's at 0.9% so I financed)
NY Times   - $15
disability/life insurance - $110
child care - $190 (averaged over year - afterschool care & summer camp)
gas for cars - $150
charity- $432 
pets: food, meds, etc - $125
horse boarding - $150
groceries - $516
fun money (meals out, purchases, etc) - $344
YMCA membership - $80
health insurance - $1370  (COBRA. We were denied insurance through husband's church.)
meds for husband - $150 (he has a chronic illness that requires a high-tier drug)

Assets, excluding home: $283k
Investments (401k, Roth, husband's church pension, taxable investments) - $237k
HSA - $6k
Daughter's 529 - $23k
Checking - $2k
Savings - $15k (1.6% Capital One money market)

Liabilities, excluding home: $24k
Auto loan - $24k @ 0.9%

Home equity: $83k
Home value - $275k
Mortgage - $192k @ 3.75%

I know there are some definite facepunch-worthy expenses in there. Some are necessary for marital compromise (the truck and associated expensive insurance), others are a factor of other lifestyle choices (too many pets). But the horses are aging and won't be around forever, the daughter will eventually not need afterschool care or summer camp, etc. Overall, I feel like we're on the right track. Still trying to convince my husband to give up cable, but so far it's a losing battle.

I do wonder about making changes to my disability/life insurance. Of that $110, $82.35 is for long-term disability - $4500/month with a 90 day waiting period. $24.17 is for $500k term life insurance . The remaining few dollars are for AD&D and a rabies prophylaxis benefit they offer. Since I'm currently doing a combination of vet work AND writing, would that affect my ability to get a disability payout? I feel like I should still keep it at the same level that I currently have... but, if anyone's especially insurance-savvy and wants to help walk me through making that decision in an educated manner, I would really appreciate it!

Also, I see that I never DID cancel the NYT, despite all previous discussion. And I rarely use it anymore (trying to avoid the news because it's too depressing.) Writing myself a note this very moment to figure out how to cancel it. 

Basically, the plan right now is to live off the earnings from our salaried jobs and almost of my freelance income (except for maybe a couple of hundred per month) will go to savings. I have extra federal/state taxes pulled from my paycheck so the taxes on the freelance income paid out of my salary.

Not really sure what's next....
- Maybe I'll enjoy being a vet just 2 days/wk and stick with the current vet/writing combo for the foreseeable future? It's kind of fun to "go to work" and get to have fun social time with my coworkers 2 days/wk, while knowing that none of the drama or headaches are really mine to deal with.
- Maybe I'll try to downshift to just the writing work in a couple of years, once our savings is further beefed up and I've built more of a freelance income? It'd be nice to have zero days per week that I'm scheduled to actually be anywhere at a specific time. And I could always get human interaction through volunteer work.
- Maybe I'll do something completely different and unexpected? We've talked about relocating, which may bring new options and opportunities. This is probably at least 5 years down the road, though.

We'll see. But overall, I'm happy with our progress, I'm happy with taking a step back from FT salaried work, and I'm okay with taking a step back from hardcore work/save mode for a while. Life is looking really damn good right now, with the current balance.... planning to maintain this course for the next two years, then re-evaluate.

So glad we've reached the point that both of us could feel comfortable with me taking this step!!
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 07:05:28 AM by startingsmall »

Cassie

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #58 on: May 27, 2018, 01:25:58 AM »
You guys have done a great job!  I think working p.t. is really the best of both worlds.  Congrats too on getting writing gigs.

Jaayse

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #59 on: May 27, 2018, 05:28:48 AM »
I really enjoyed reading through this thread, I can see you've made some really good improvements and congratulations on the new part time work, that has to feel great! 

I know you've just begun your PT career, but maybe some of that extra time can be used to help bring down expenses once you've gotten into your new daily rhythm.  If I recall correctly you only have a .5 acre lot now?  I know that it only took me about an hour with a push mower to mow the lawn at my parents house (.5 acres) when I was living there, it may be a worth while task for fitness and money saving to take on.  I'm sure you will continue to make progress, it is awesome to see the time lapse you've got.

starguru

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #60 on: May 27, 2018, 06:39:05 AM »
Since your are freelancing you should set up a SEP IRA or Individual 401k.  I didn’t see one in your list of retirement accounts.


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startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #61 on: May 27, 2018, 07:00:07 AM »
Since your are freelancing you should set up a SEP IRA or Individual 401k.  I didnít see one in your list of retirement accounts.


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Even only working PT, I can contribute to my employer 401k and get a match. (Granted, they'll only match to 3% of my income, so $1500/year). Can I get a SEP IRA or Individual 401k in addition to that? I thought that was an either/or thing.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2018, 07:03:48 AM by startingsmall »

starguru

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Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #62 on: May 27, 2018, 10:02:45 AM »
Dlete

starguru

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #63 on: May 27, 2018, 10:07:37 AM »
Since your are freelancing you should set up a SEP IRA or Individual 401k.  I didn’t see one in your list of retirement accounts.


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Even only working PT, I can contribute to my employer 401k and get a match. (Granted, they'll only match to 3% of my income, so $1500/year). Can I get a SEP IRA or Individual 401k in addition to that? I thought that was an either/or thing.
I pretty sure you can.  I believe you can put 20% of your freelancing money into some sort of 401k/ira, up to $53k a year across all accounts, but you need to research the details.

Good to read that your are balancing the more drastic ideology of MMM against practical concerns of being maintaining a marriage.   Sometimes not everyone is on board.  Your are saving a good amount and it seems like you are,  above all, happy,  which is the entire point.


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englishteacheralex

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #64 on: May 27, 2018, 10:57:54 AM »
Hi startingsmall,

I don't have any real advice about your budget, but I wanted to support you in your giving, since it often seems like the MMM forums push back on this a lot. Your family and mine are living in different areas and have different professions, but our ages and annual income are about the same. We have two kids under four. I'm a teacher and my husband is a social worker for the VA. I'm 38 and my husband is 35. We also have a Mazda 5! Fist bump for the mini-minivan. :)

We are Christians and try to give 15% of our annual income. Our net worth is ~$300k (This includes equity in our home, retirement, 529 and cash), so according to MMM doctrine, when considering our age and annual income, we're giving way too much. However, a lot of our money philosophy dovetails with MMM, but the spirit that motivates us is often different from the spirit that motivates MMM.

Our frugality stems from a desire to be good stewards, not from a desire to pile up earthly wealth. I wanted to point you to a few resources that have shaped our giving philosophy:

http://northpoint.org/messages/crazy-like-us/you-just-think-you-are/ Andy Stanley is probably my favorite contemporary preacher. I love everything he has to say about money.

Freedom of Simplicity by Richard Foster This is my favorite book on the subject. It's a classic and I read it whenever I start to see our giving as an obstacle to our acquiring "larger storehouses". Richard Foster is a Quaker--a denomination well known for their emphasis on Christian simplicity.

Good luck! Thanks for sharing your story.


Trifele

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #65 on: May 27, 2018, 10:58:44 AM »
HI StartingSmall -- Just wanted to say congrats on the part time work!  That is completely fantastic.   I hope to be following in your footsteps soon. 

freya

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #66 on: May 28, 2018, 09:36:53 AM »
Congrats, startingsmall!  A well paid part time job that you enjoy and time to pursue your writing?  You could stop there and call it a major success story.

A few things struck me reading your budget info (I so love reading these case study reports...):

- Your husband is working full time as a vet for $50K with no health insurance, and apparently no other benefits?  For the same pay that you are getting to work 15 hours a week?  Is this correct?  If not, it sounds like your husband should look around for another job.  The COBRA is what's killing your budget, and what are you going to do when it ends?

- With the new tax law, it's now way better to be an independent contractor than a wage employee with minimal benefits.  See if you & your husband can arrange to be paid on a 1099 rather than a W2.  This will open up a world of opportunities to minimize taxes & improve tax-deferred savings.

smaller potatoes:
- The internet/phone/cable bill:  It started at $70, went up to $90, and now it's up to $145.  What's that all about?  Optimizing this might be worth spending a bit of time.  Instead of the cable company's phone plan, maybe try an independent box with service provider (e.g. look into Obitalk - I got myself a free home phone by pairing it with Google Voice).  And perhaps your husband would be ok with replacing cable with an HD antenna to get local channels plus maybe a subscription for sports or whatever it is he likes to watch?  Nobody needs 1000 channels for $100/month.  And is there more than one cable company in your area?

- Cell phones:  I get it about Verizon for the service quality in rural areas, which could be especially important for a vet on call.  Perhaps your phone could move to a low cost provider since you are now spending more time at home?




startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #67 on: May 28, 2018, 11:20:59 AM »
Congrats, startingsmall!  A well paid part time job that you enjoy and time to pursue your writing?  You could stop there and call it a major success story.

A few things struck me reading your budget info (I so love reading these case study reports...):

- Your husband is working full time as a vet for $50K with no health insurance, and apparently no other benefits?  For the same pay that you are getting to work 15 hours a week?  Is this correct?  If not, it sounds like your husband should look around for another job.  The COBRA is what's killing your budget, and what are you going to do when it ends?

- With the new tax law, it's now way better to be an independent contractor than a wage employee with minimal benefits.  See if you & your husband can arrange to be paid on a 1099 rather than a W2.  This will open up a world of opportunities to minimize taxes & improve tax-deferred savings.

smaller potatoes:
- The internet/phone/cable bill:  It started at $70, went up to $90, and now it's up to $145.  What's that all about?  Optimizing this might be worth spending a bit of time.  Instead of the cable company's phone plan, maybe try an independent box with service provider (e.g. look into Obitalk - I got myself a free home phone by pairing it with Google Voice).  And perhaps your husband would be ok with replacing cable with an HD antenna to get local channels plus maybe a subscription for sports or whatever it is he likes to watch?  Nobody needs 1000 channels for $100/month.  And is there more than one cable company in your area?

- Cell phones:  I get it about Verizon for the service quality in rural areas, which could be especially important for a vet on call.  Perhaps your phone could move to a low cost provider since you are now spending more time at home?


Thanks for the support & suggestions!!

My husband is a pastor, not a veterinarian. We'll likely start looking for a new job for him in a few years, but it will likely require relocation and may or may not come with better pay. His church would pay his for his insurance if he qualified for their insurance.. but apparently the denomination keeps costs down by ONLY insuring folks with pre-existing conditions if they apply within the first few months of starting work there. We didn't at that time, because he was covered under my insurance and we didn't think he'd end up staying at this job for very long. When plans changed and he applied for  their  insurance, he was denied. His church did, at least, him a $10k raise to help compensate for that.

When COBRA ends, we'll have to go on an ACA plan unless something changes. Maybe husband will be ready to move on by then. Maybe the laws will have changed and the vet association will be offering insurance again. We'll see.

As for the internet/cable, I'd cancel the TV in a heartbeat but husband isn't up for that. The $70 was when we had internet only, the $90 was a promo rate for all 3, and the $145 is the current rate for all 3. We've tried a couple of highly-reviewed antennas and can't get any reception in our area... and yes, there's only one cable company. Husband mostly watches various food/cooking channels & HGTV.  We actually don't even use our home phone (ended up unplugging all of our phones & answering machine after getting many, many calls each day intended for the person who formerly had our number)... but when I called to cancel, it was cheaper to keep it as part of the bundle than to cut it.


And yes, we stick with Verizon for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I hadn't considered keeping husband on Verizon and switching me to cheaper coverage. That may be an option. Thanks for the suggestion!
« Last Edit: May 28, 2018, 11:50:21 AM by startingsmall »

freya

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #68 on: May 29, 2018, 06:51:03 AM »
My mistake on that one :-)

I'm surprised at the church taking such a hard-line stance on the insurance.  Fortunately, there are several healthcare options for clergy that you might look into.  Not to mention lots of other discount possibilities.  Definitely ask Verizon & cable company about this!

Have you looked at Sling TV?

Psychstache

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #69 on: May 29, 2018, 07:07:14 AM »
My mistake on that one :-)

I'm surprised at the church taking such a hard-line stance on the insurance.  Fortunately, there are several healthcare options for clergy that you might look into.  Not to mention lots of other discount possibilities.  Definitely ask Verizon & cable company about this!

Have you looked at Sling TV?
+1 for Sling TV or YouTube TV. Either one would be cheaper with Internet only and they are non contract. Could be a meet in the middle with the hubs.

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startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #70 on: May 29, 2018, 08:04:33 AM »
My mistake on that one :-)

I'm surprised at the church taking such a hard-line stance on the insurance.  Fortunately, there are several healthcare options for clergy that you might look into.  Not to mention lots of other discount possibilities.  Definitely ask Verizon & cable company about this!

Have you looked at Sling TV?

We've looked into the healthsharing ministries, but all of them exclude pre-existing conditions for a period of at least a few years. With a potentially expensive condition (ulcerative colitis), we aren't comfortable going that route. It's never occurred to me to ask if Verizon or Charter offer any sort of clergy discount -  couldn't hurt to ask!

Never heard of Sling TV but I'll look into it! Thanks!

robartsd

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #71 on: July 13, 2018, 03:47:19 PM »
And yes, we stick with Verizon for exactly the reasons you mentioned. I hadn't considered keeping husband on Verizon and switching me to cheaper coverage. That may be an option. Thanks for the suggestion!
You can use Verizon towers without being on Verizon. My phone is on Page Plus Cellular which uses Verizon. https://www.androidcentral.com/complete-list-verizon-mvnos

startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #72 on: February 16, 2019, 01:40:32 PM »
UPDATE TIME!!!

I am still insanely happy with the current arrangement. I work 2 days/wk (15 hrs/wk) at a corporate veterinary practice.... and although they don't technically offer health insurance to PT associates, some weird feature of their ACA compliance means that they do (briefly, and without fanfare) offer it to all salaried PT veterinarians at the end of the year if you happen to catch the fine print in a tiny email. So we're now insured, at least for the next year, for just $260ish per month. Who knows if I'll get the same option for 2020, but for now I'm just thankful for the pleasant surprise!

Freelance writing income has grown and I've also supplemented a bit with some relief work at friends' practices (more out of a desire to be helpful than for the money, but the money is nice!).

Because we're so happy with the current situation, we've loosened up our spending a bit. Feel free to facepunch if you'd like, but I'm not in any rush to accelerate our plan. Husband is still fully committed to working until typical retirement age. I'll likely keep the writing/relief work forever, but could see potentially leaving the PT job someday if management turns crappy. Otherwise, though, not in any rush to change anything. I truly feel semi-retired right now.

We're still saving plenty... roughly $50k/yr in tax-advantaged accounts. We max my 401k, two Roths, an HSA, and an SEP for my freelance business. We put a little in my husband's church retirement plan, but not a lot because the laws don't protect church plans like other retirement plans. Extra goes into a taxable account or toward house paydown.


Here's the current situation:

Income:  $140-155k/yr
My PT job: $50-55k/yr (depends on bonuses)
Husband's FT job: $40k/yr
My freelance/relief income: Was $38k for 2019. Expecting at least $45k this year, with $60k as a stretch goal. (Already at $10k for Jan/Feb.)

Current expenses: $6324/mo
mortgage - $1146
water - $30
electric - $150
internet/phone/cable - $170 
trash - $25
Netflix - $10   
lawn guy - $65 (averaged over year)
cell phones  - $195
car insurance - $143
truck payment for husband - $466
car payment for me - $728
NY Times   - $15
disability/life insurance - $110
child care - $170
gas for cars - $150
charity- $532 
pets: food, meds, etc - $200
horse boarding - $150
groceries - $516
fun money (meals out, purchases, etc) - $645
YMCA membership - $58
meds for husband & I - $250
travel sinking fund - $400

Assets, excluding home: $345k
Investments (401k, Roth, husband's church pension, SEP, taxable investments) - $286k
HSA - $6k
Daughter's 529 - $25k
Checking - $3k
Savings - $25k

Liabilities, excluding home: $45k
Auto loan - $20k @ 0.9% (will be paid off Jun 2022)
Auto loan - $25k @ 0.0% (will be paid off Jan 2022)

Home equity: $85k
Home value - $274k
Mortgage - $189k @ 3.75%


So yeah, there's the update. Not really looking for any specific feedback, but I wanted to update because I like having it here to review periodically and I always get some new ideas/perspectives when I share.

The only thing I'm currently trying to decide is a set "strategy" for the money that can't go in a tax-advantaged space. Keep investing in taxable accounts or focus on paying down the mortgage? I don't know. I know the pros/cons of each, but can't decide where I fall.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2019, 05:09:41 AM by startingsmall »

Gin1984

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #73 on: February 16, 2019, 04:30:10 PM »
Thanks for updating, I have enjoyed following along and watching your progress.

startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #74 on: February 16, 2019, 04:51:50 PM »
So, I just went back and found this quote on the first page...

"I can't see myself ever retiring, but I'd really love to go down to part-time sometime in the not-too-distant future (5 years? 10 years?).  I love what I do, just hate the daily grind of it all... and I think cutting back to 10-20 hrs/wk would let me truly love it."

Holy crap. It's been 5 years. I won!! Yes, there's still room to cut back a bit more, but I met my goal. Wow.


Neustache

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #75 on: February 16, 2019, 05:02:04 PM »
So, I just went back and found this quote on the first page...

"I can't see myself ever retiring, but I'd really love to go down to part-time sometime in the not-too-distant future (5 years? 10 years?).  I love what I do, just hate the daily grind of it all... and I think cutting back to 10-20 hrs/wk would let me truly love it."

Holy crap. It's been 5 years. I won!! Yes, there's still room to cut back a bit more, but I met my goal. Wow.

That's so great!  I want to be part time in 7 years.  Congrats! 

Freedomin5

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #76 on: February 16, 2019, 05:05:11 PM »
Congrats!

Your mortgage interest rate is only 3.75%. I would keep the mortgage and put the funds into investments.

lhamo

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #77 on: February 16, 2019, 05:23:11 PM »
Wow -- you sound SOOOOO much happier!  Very happy that you were able to work things out so that your life has more balance.  You'll be rolling in money once you get those cars paid off!

Trifele

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #78 on: February 17, 2019, 03:40:09 AM »
Congrats @startingsmall!  Great job.  :)  Thanks for the update.

startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #79 on: February 17, 2019, 07:29:40 AM »
Wow -- you sound SOOOOO much happier!  Very happy that you were able to work things out so that your life has more balance.  You'll be rolling in money once you get those cars paid off!

Yep! And the plan is to keep both cars for at least 10-15 years... so I'm already trying to think ahead to how we'll use that money.

The other issue is that we'll probably be sending our daughter off to college in ~15 years. I suspect I won't be working much at that point, and surely a pastor's income will qualify us for decent financial aid if daughter gets in to a spendy school... so I'm kind of vaguely thinking ahead to those days. That would be an advantage of knocking out the mortgage - so we really can just live on his income and better position ourselves for need-based scholarships. Having a huge taxable investing account won't help much there.

The likelihood of us moving between now and then is probably about 95%, though, so we can always change things up at that point... by making a huge down payment to keep our mortgage lowlowlow. The only drawback to that plan is if we move when the stock market is down a lot. That's why I'm torn on mortgage payoff vs taxable investing. We'll likely move without much notice, so it won't really be something we can plan for very effectively.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 07:30:08 PM by startingsmall »

startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #80 on: February 18, 2019, 11:50:07 AM »
So, my PT vet job is back on a "no cell phones at work" kick... which has me thinking that maybe I WON'T stay here indefinitely after all.

At the risk of sounding like a total entitled bitch... dude, I'm a doctor. I'm an adult. I'm not a high school kid working retail. I have an IQ in the top 0.1% [corrected] and the only thing that allows me tolerate the mind-numbing nature of my job is being able to surf MMM, Facebook, NY Times etc. to feed my brain a bit all the little 3-5 minute chunks of downtime between appointments. (Not to say that test scores are everything, but I've finally acknowledged that I'm  just as out of place in the normal world as a person with an IQ in the bottom 0.1%.) Now I'm just supposed to stare at the wall or gossip with the techs? Really? I'm thinking about pulling out my book... they didn't say no books!

So, yeah. If they stay on this kick for long, I may rethink my plan.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 06:50:28 PM by startingsmall »

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #81 on: February 18, 2019, 11:56:01 AM »
So, my PT vet job is back on a "no cell phones at work" kick... which has me thinking that maybe I WON'T stay here indefinitely after all.

At the risk of sounding like a total entitled bitch... dude, I'm a doctor. I'm an adult. I'm not a high school kid working retail. I have an IQ in the top 0.01% and the only thing that allows me tolerate the mind-numbing nature of my job is being able to surf MMM, Facebook, NY Times etc. to feed my brain a bit all the little 1-2 minute chunks of downtime. If they stay on this kick for long, I may rethink my plan.

Weird. How would youíve coped in the prehistoric times 10 years ago before ubiquitous cell phones were such a thing? I think thatís the craziest anti-work stance to take. Sheesh. Take to colleagues, read a book, play with an animal or go for a walk around the block and use your phone then. I wouldnít ever call you the names you did to describe what you, but I canít support your thinking. Itís your life of course, just, wow!

startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #82 on: February 18, 2019, 12:05:26 PM »
So, my PT vet job is back on a "no cell phones at work" kick... which has me thinking that maybe I WON'T stay here indefinitely after all.

At the risk of sounding like a total entitled bitch... dude, I'm a doctor. I'm an adult. I'm not a high school kid working retail. I have an IQ in the top 0.01% and the only thing that allows me tolerate the mind-numbing nature of my job is being able to surf MMM, Facebook, NY Times etc. to feed my brain a bit all the little 1-2 minute chunks of downtime. If they stay on this kick for long, I may rethink my plan.

Weird. How would youíve coped in the prehistoric times 10 years ago before ubiquitous cell phones were such a thing? I think thatís the craziest anti-work stance to take. Sheesh. Take to colleagues, read a book, play with an animal or go for a walk around the block and use your phone then. I wouldnít ever call you the names you did to describe what you, but I canít support your thinking. Itís your life of course, just, wow!

Historically, most vets (and me, earlier in my career) had a desk or office where we/they could read journals, read a book, etc. This practice doesn't offer doctor workspace, though - there are two stools in back with 5+ people working at a time.

I may try reading, but I suspect that will be viewed more harshly than the phone. Can't leave the treatment room for more than a bathroom break, so stepping outside isn't an option.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 12:11:07 PM by startingsmall »

hops

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #83 on: February 18, 2019, 12:13:36 PM »
Congrats on your progress! When my wife's in certain parts of her gargantuan hospital (for humans), there's no cell service. She always has books, magazines, and printouts from medical journals to keep her busy when there's no escaping and no phone distractions (and no more notes to write or dictate). I'd be curious whether your employer allows that.

lhamo

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #84 on: February 18, 2019, 12:13:59 PM »
How about doing some physical stuff (stretching, etc) and/or short meditations to try to calm that active brain of yours a bit.  You have become habituated to using the phone to fill time.  It isn't really necessary.  Try to replace it with something else.

This is a pretty good PT gig otherwise, no?  That took you awhile to nail down?  I understand wanting to push back on silly rules, but really do take the full cost/benefit into account. 

bacchi

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #85 on: February 18, 2019, 12:30:29 PM »
Try the age old practice of putting a book inside a journal. Put your back to a wall and read away.

For that matter, you could put your phone inside a journal and do the same thing as long as you don't swipe too often.

red_pill

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #86 on: February 18, 2019, 02:48:57 PM »
So, my PT vet job is back on a "no cell phones at work" kick... which has me thinking that maybe I WON'T stay here indefinitely after all.

At the risk of sounding like a total entitled bitch... dude, I'm a doctor. I'm an adult. I'm not a high school kid working retail. I have an IQ in the top 0.01% and the only thing that allows me tolerate the mind-numbing nature of my job is being able to surf MMM, Facebook, NY Times etc. to feed my brain a bit all the little 3-5 minute chunks of downtime between appointments. (Not to say that test scores are everything, but I've finally acknowledged that I'm  just as out of place in the normal world as a person with an IQ in the bottom 0.01%.) Now I'm just supposed to stare at the wall or gossip with the techs? Really? I'm thinking about pulling out my book... they didn't say no books!

So, yeah. If they stay on this kick for long, I may rethink my plan.

This is going to sound harsh, but your response to this cell phone policy is completely disproportionate to what would be rational.   

You know what youíre feeding your brain when checking your phone? Itís not information to satisfy your insatiable appetite for knowledge due to your incredibly high IQ.  Itís dopamine.  Thatís it. Youíre addicted to your phone. Just like the rest of us.  I donít believe for a second that someone who is apparently one of the 35,000 smartest people in the country gets their intellectual itches scratched by 3 minute doses of Facebook and MMM.  Nope.  Itís not like youíre doing particle physics in your spare time there.

And if your job is so mind numbingly boring that the only way you can survive your part time hours is by constant distraction / dopamine hits, then thatís reason right there to move on.  Not because your fix wonít be available, but because itís not a challenging enough job. 

Your attitude on this has actually motivated me to reduce my phone time substantially.  I hope you do the same.
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 02:52:24 PM by red_pill »

frugalfoothills

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #87 on: February 18, 2019, 03:18:47 PM »
I get the whole "I'm an adult, I shouldn't have rules around when I can/can't use my cell phone" complaint... I agree that at some level you should feel that you've earned the right and privilege to self-regulate in that way, and banning cell phones outright feels pretty high school. Agree that as a practicing veterinarian, you've earned the right to scroll on your phone if you have the time. Maybe everyone can't be trusted not to abuse that privilege but it's understandable to feel like you can. It's why our hourly employees aren't allowed to use their cell phones/have Skype, but after a certain salary level or job band, you're free to do what you want. With great power comes great responsibility and all that.

The thing I don't understand is your willingness to bail on what you've described up until now as a dream situation over this minor irritation. I mean, I'd be peeved if suddenly I was told I'm not allowed to use my cell phone at my desk during the day, but I love my job and my company and the few minutes of mindless scrolling I do every now and then are not worth more than the satisfaction this job brings to my life. I'd say if you're willing to jump ship over something so stupid, there are bigger issues at play here. Maybe it is time to move on.

FWIW, I don't think you're a bitch for being irritated about the no phones policy, but I do think you would benefit from some self-reflection around why you feel like your "top 0.01% IQ" means that you can't spend a few minutes "gossiping with the techs" between appointments, as if the idea of chatting with people who are not as objectively successful as you is completely beneath you. In fact, it sounds like dropping your phone and spending some QT with your coworkers instead (even if they are just loooowly techs) would do you a bit of good.

startingsmall

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #88 on: February 18, 2019, 05:30:20 PM »
Definitely some great food for thought here... thanks!!

Congrats on your progress! When my wife's in certain parts of her gargantuan hospital (for humans), there's no cell service. She always has books, magazines, and printouts from medical journals to keep her busy when there's no escaping and no phone distractions (and no more notes to write or dictate). I'd be curious whether your employer allows that.

I currently only receive one in-print veterinary journal. I usually read it at home, but definitely could put it in my purse to take to work for reading there. Excellent idea! As for the online info sources that I keep up with, printing lengthier articles to read at work is also a great idea. Thanks!!

How about doing some physical stuff (stretching, etc) and/or short meditations to try to calm that active brain of yours a bit.

Great idea. I could probably work in some squats or something and get exercise, too!

So, my PT vet job is back on a "no cell phones at work" kick... which has me thinking that maybe I WON'T stay here indefinitely after all.

At the risk of sounding like a total entitled bitch... dude, I'm a doctor. I'm an adult. I'm not a high school kid working retail. I have an IQ in the top 0.01% and the only thing that allows me tolerate the mind-numbing nature of my job is being able to surf MMM, Facebook, NY Times etc. to feed my brain a bit all the little 3-5 minute chunks of downtime between appointments. (Not to say that test scores are everything, but I've finally acknowledged that I'm  just as out of place in the normal world as a person with an IQ in the bottom 0.01%.) Now I'm just supposed to stare at the wall or gossip with the techs? Really? I'm thinking about pulling out my book... they didn't say no books!

So, yeah. If they stay on this kick for long, I may rethink my plan.

This is going to sound harsh, but your response to this cell phone policy is completely disproportionate to what would be rational.   

You know what youíre feeding your brain when checking your phone? Itís not information to satisfy your insatiable appetite for knowledge due to your incredibly high IQ.  Itís dopamine.  Thatís it. Youíre addicted to your phone. Just like the rest of us.  I donít believe for a second that someone who is apparently one of the 35,000 smartest people in the country gets their intellectual itches scratched by 3 minute doses of Facebook and MMM.  Nope.  Itís not like youíre doing particle physics in your spare time there.

And if your job is so mind numbingly boring that the only way you can survive your part time hours is by constant distraction / dopamine hits, then thatís reason right there to move on.  Not because your fix wonít be available, but because itís not a challenging enough job. 

Your attitude on this has actually motivated me to reduce my phone time substantially.  I hope you do the same.

So, I gave this a lot of thought this afternoon. While I don't want to say that I don't have SOME element of phone addiction (because really, I get the research), the truth is that I've always a high level of what I would call "information addiction." This has been a lifelong issue (problem?) for me.

Some random examples:
- I learned to read at 2.5 years old. By sometime in elementary school, I had read all of the books in my home (although, admittedly, Dianetics and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance were totally lost on me at that age!!).... so I started reading the encyclopedia. No joke. I'd pick a topic, read the entry, then see what thoughts that triggered and follow them to another entry. For hours and hours.
- I always read books at school during any free moment of downtime, to the point that I would literally walk into trees or other students because I was reading while walking between classes.
- When I was 16 and finally able to drive myself to the county library and get a library card, I spent my entire winter break researching homeschooling. It wasn't an option for me and I didn't know anyone considering homeschooling, but I somehow became fascinated by the issue and decided to read multiple books on the issue so that I could form an educated opinion. I don't know why I remember that so clearly, but it was a fabulous few weeks. I'd spend all day at the library, check out books to take home at night, and had an entire notebook full of thoughts, ideas, opinions, citations, etc. (WTF? Who does that?)
- In college and vet school, I read for fun like crazy (walked into a lecture hall and pulled out a book until the second the professor started speaking), took as many electives as possible, and randomly found related or unrelated topics to research and obsess over. The coursework was never enough. Usually, what I was learning on my own was totally unrelated to my academics.
- I can't remember the last time I listened to music. I'm all podcasts, all the time.

In the pre-internet/pre-smartphone days, books served the same purpose as my phone (and still do).... there's always a book in my bag. It's just less socially acceptable to pull out a book (whether fiction or nonfiction) and read a few pages while leaning up against a counter at work than to pull out your phone and read a quick article. When you're reading an article, people assume you're just texting or watching silly cat videos.

Reading all that makes me sound incredibly bizarre, but I DO pass as normal-ish in many situations. For a little while, anyway. LOL.

And I totally agree on needing to leave the boring work, but I haven't found anything more stimulating in my rural area. That's my goal behind FI, or at least going to part-time. Less busy work (corporate vet med is a lot like retail), more intellectual stimulation. That's also why I like the writing - it's so much more interesting and engaging than vaccines and customer service.

FWIW, I don't think you're a bitch for being irritated about the no phones policy, but I do think you would benefit from some self-reflection around why you feel like your "top 0.01% IQ" means that you can't spend a few minutes "gossiping with the techs" between appointments, as if the idea of chatting with people who are not as objectively successful as you is completely beneath you. In fact, it sounds like dropping your phone and spending some QT with your coworkers instead (even if they are just loooowly techs) would do you a bit of good.

First of all, I definitely don't love my current job. I tolerate it and I feel that I'm well paid for 15 hrs/wk. I still watch the clock and wait for the days to end, but it's just 2 short days per week. The rest of my workweek, which is the freelance writing? THAT is the part of the week I love. Much better suited to my personality - more interesting, more flexible, and I'm just better at it.

Anyway, I probably didn't express myself correctly, based on your comment above. In general, I'm an introvert book nerd who is more comfortable reading a book or magazine than talking. Has nothing to do with who is on my level or beneath me - the same thing applies with other veterinarians. If there isn't time for a substantial conversation in which I can learn something new, I don't really have any interest in small talk... and it's hard to have substantial conversations in the few minutes overlap that we have between exam rooms. Every now and then it happens, but not often - usually it's more complaining about clients and that sort of thing.

Maybe the IQ thing has nothing to do with it... but when my husband suggested a few years ago that he thought I had Asperger's, I did some research on Asperger's that led me towards some research on gifted adults. I kind of assumed the high-IQ thing lost relevance once I reached adulthood, but a lot of books and articles suggest that it doesn't and that it could maybe explain a lot of my bizarre tendencies. That's when I actually looked into my percentile. (I'd always known it was top 2%.... just learned about a year ago that it was top 0.1% - NOT top 0.01% as I mistyped earlier.) And who knows, maybe it has no relevance to why I find most jobs so insanely boring after the first month or two, but it seems like it could.



Anyway... for today, I just focused on taking my full allotted appointment time with each and every client. I answered all of their questions thoroughly, chatted them up, played with their puppies (if they weren't too aggressive), and basically stayed in each room until I knew my next room was ready for me. Drove the techs and practice manager crazy since it wasn't super-efficient, but the clients loved it and I enjoyed it, too!
« Last Edit: February 18, 2019, 07:38:04 PM by startingsmall »

freya

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #89 on: March 07, 2019, 07:18:14 AM »
I think I'd have a similar reaction to being a professional who just got treated like a junior high school student.  It isn't about the phone, it's about the rule-making.

I'd probably bring a book, knitting, Rubik's cube, or whatever else fits into a white coat pocket for those bits of downtime - while plotting to get out of that Dilbert-esque situation.  If you still like being a vet, why not gather up a colleague or two and start your own practice?  Or you could even do something like start your own house call business.

All other things being equal though - you've done really well.  Congrats!

Slow&Steady

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #90 on: March 07, 2019, 08:08:48 AM »

Anyway... for today, I just focused on taking my full allotted appointment time with each and every client. I answered all of their questions thoroughly, chatted them up, played with their puppies (if they weren't too aggressive), and basically stayed in each room until I knew my next room was ready for me. Drove the techs and practice manager crazy since it wasn't super-efficient, but the clients loved it and I enjoyed it, too!

DO THIS!!!  I hate spending $50-100 per vet visit for like 5 mins of time with the vet and I walk away with the vet just confirming what I pretty much already knew and giving me some medicine.

former player

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #91 on: March 07, 2019, 08:24:49 AM »

Anyway... for today, I just focused on taking my full allotted appointment time with each and every client. I answered all of their questions thoroughly, chatted them up, played with their puppies (if they weren't too aggressive), and basically stayed in each room until I knew my next room was ready for me. Drove the techs and practice manager crazy since it wasn't super-efficient, but the clients loved it and I enjoyed it, too!

DO THIS!!!  I hate spending $50-100 per vet visit for like 5 mins of time with the vet and I walk away with the vet just confirming what I pretty much already knew and giving me some medicine.

I've just had a bad scare with my elderly collie, and the vet who took the extra time to answer my questions and find solutions to his ongoing care (handfeeding his mushy tinned dog food is the answer: how could I have found that otherwise?) is someone who will always have my gratitude.

Slow&Steady

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
« Reply #92 on: March 07, 2019, 08:36:53 AM »

Anyway... for today, I just focused on taking my full allotted appointment time with each and every client. I answered all of their questions thoroughly, chatted them up, played with their puppies (if they weren't too aggressive), and basically stayed in each room until I knew my next room was ready for me. Drove the techs and practice manager crazy since it wasn't super-efficient, but the clients loved it and I enjoyed it, too!

DO THIS!!!  I hate spending $50-100 per vet visit for like 5 mins of time with the vet and I walk away with the vet just confirming what I pretty much already knew and giving me some medicine.

I've just had a bad scare with my elderly collie, and the vet who took the extra time to answer my questions and find solutions to his ongoing care (handfeeding his mushy tinned dog food is the answer: how could I have found that otherwise?) is someone who will always have my gratitude.

OP maybe you could push customer surveys or something to the clients that you are spending extra time with.  This will give you a little more muscle behind you for pushing back about efficiency.

civil4life

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Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
« Reply #93 on: March 09, 2019, 07:48:45 PM »
internet/phone/cable - $170 
lawn guy - $65 (averaged over year)
cell phones  - $195
NY Times   - $15
groceries - $516
fun money (meals out, purchases, etc) - $645

Just read your entire post.  Great progress over the years.  It is fun to get the instant gratification of finding a post that has been around a long time and get to see the progression over time.

Small face punch....Since I read your whole post just now I know you have said you would cancel the NY times 3 or 4 times and lower at least your cell phone.  Also the internet etc....70 to 90 to 145 to 170.  If nothing else call both of them up to get a new deal.  I wanted to mention Total Wireless.  It is another cellular company that uses the Verizon network.  I switched over about a year ago and have been very happy with it.  I pay $26 a month for unlimited talk and text and $10 per 5 gb data which typically lasts me 2 months.  You can order a sim card online and since you are Verizon you probably can keep your own phone.

Especially with more home time you could definitely work on the grocery budget.

Could you become a freelance Vet?  Just working for various vets that are on vacation or sick...Like a substitute teacher?  Or like another mentioned making house calls?

I totally understand the work phone thing.  I work in the public sector as an engineer.  I worked at a place that watched every move you make and treated you like you were in elementary school.  I changed jobs just over 2 years ago.  It is a total 180.  Everyone respects each other and we just do our jobs.