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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 01:58:28 PM

Title: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 01:58:28 PM
Originally posted in November 2014. See February 16, 2019 for most recent update/progress!

Facepunch me gently, as I'm new to this whole MMM thing.  My husband comes from a decidedly non-Mustachian background (his family loves to shop, laments how broke they are on a regular basis, and never had productive conversations about finances while he was growing up).  My family tends towards the more Mustachian, but I've become kind of lax since we got married seven years ago.  Additionally, my husband just started his first full-time job after a lengthy period of grad school and unemployment, so we're making up for a period of lost income and also trying to simultaneously start some new habits.  Go easy on us, please!!

Monthly Income: = $9160/month
My monthly take-home pay:  $5585
Husband's monthly take-home pay: $1420
Reimbursements:  $2155  (husband's housing allowance, health insurance is reimbursed by both of our employers)

Current expenses: = $6810/mo
HOME EXPENSES = $1700/mo
mortgage -1275
electric - 275  (Crazy-high, I know, but we live in a big house!  Trying to work on it, but not sure how much we can reasonably do.)
internet/phone - 75 (Probably cutting home phone soon, esp. now that husband isn't home with our daughter all day.  I was hesitant
          before, because he's bad to let his cell battery die and I worried about what would happen in an emergency.)
trash - 20
Orkin - 45  (will be dropping this when our contract ends in a year, but we had a serious bee issue and were desperate.)
Netflix - 10   
OTHER EXPENSES = $5110/mo
cell phone    - 160  (Verizon.  <facepunch>  Tried to go with PagePlus or other low-cost plan last year, but my husband balked and so
        now we're stuck for another year. Hopefully I can convince him this next time.)
horse rent - 150 (We have two horses, which we are fortunate to be able to board at my husband's parents' house cheaply.)
car insurance - 115
NY Times   - 15
health insurance - 1050 (Almost entirely covered by reimbursements, but I still itemize it in the budget.)
disability / life insurance - 110 (Long-term disability and $500k term life on me.)
daycare - 630
car payment - 310  (Facepunch.  Wanted to find a used Mazda5, but our old car suddenly needed expensive repairs and we couldn't
       find a used one that met our needs.  Bought new Mazda5, but it's financed at only 2.9% and will be paid off early.)
gas for cars - 500  (We commute A LOT. More about that below)
charity- 435 (Includes a monthly deduction to one charity, church contributions, and other charitable donations. Need to increase
      this, but want to get an emergency fund in place first.)
pets: food, meds, etc - 225 ( 2 aging dogs, 2 horses, and 3 chickens,  high number but can't really be adjusted much right now.)
Citibank debt - 380  (Credit card debt at 0.0% through September, on track to pay off before then and this will go towards savings or charity.)
Cash for groceries/fun - 1030 (240/wk) (This is sort of odd, but it's the closest that I've ever come to getting my husband on a
     budget so I'm rolling with it.  Once a week, I pull out $240 cash.  I keep $10 for myself and give the other $230 to him.  He goes
     grocery shopping (he's in charge of groceries/cooking), and whatever is left is used for meals out, entertainment, clothing for us
     and our daughter, etc.  The downside is that I can't itemize any further than "groceries/fun" because he loses receipts.  I'm
     guessing he spends about $130 of that on his weekly Walmart trip - groceries, household supplies, diapers,etc -  and the other
     $100 goes to eating out, toys for the kiddo, clothing, etc... but I'm not entirely sure.  The plus side is that this is way better than
      this time last year, when we would sometimes spend $1000/mo on restaurants alone!!)


Assets:   = $117,517
Roth IRA - $65,955
Rollover IRA - $38,733
Simple IRA - $500
Daughter's 529 - $9829
Checking/savings - $2500

Current contributions:
- My job: 7% of my salary + 3% employer match into Simple IRA = $9660/yr
- Husband's job: $5k/yr into church-sponsored retirement fund
-Since husband getting a job just happened a few weeks ago, the current plan is to contribute $2280/mo to savings as follows:
ROTH IRA   - 25 (Not a focus right now, but I want to get in the habit of contributing.)
Daughter's 529 - 25 (Most money in the 529 is gifts, but we also contribute a small amount. Want to pay 50% of in-state expenses.)
Short term savings (house repairs, car repairs, visits to family, holiday gifts etc) - 500
Emergency fund- 1700  (Will stop when we hit $10k and reallocate this money to car loan, +/- Roth, +/- charity)

Liabilities:
Citibank credit card - $4292 @ 0.0% through Sept (between currently monthly payment & expected tax return, will pay off early)
Auto loan - $16.8k @ 2.9%
Mortgage - $208,769 @ 3.5% (purchased Dec 2011 for $228k, estimated current value $262k on Zillow but more realistically I think ~ $250k)



Specific Question(s):

I'm not okay with our housing and commuting costs. 

When our old house unexpectedly sold after several years on the market, we were looking for a 2000 sq. ft house on 1/2 acre in the $200k price range.  There was nothing in that range that met our needs at the time, so we ended up falling in love with a 2500 sq ft house on 5 acres priced at $250k.  It ended up being a great value, as we were able to get it for only $228k, but we've since realized that it is much more house than we need.  It's nice that we'll be able to accommodate my entire family for a week at Christmas (parents and 2 adult brothers), but unnecessary.  Mortgage payment is a bit higher than I'd like, utility bills are significantly higher than I'd like, time that we have to spend on maintenance is WAY too high (the 5 acres is all grass and needs to be mowed at least every other week in the summer), and I ended up with a job change that made my new commute horrendous.

My current commute is 66 mi/day.  My husband does daycare duty before/after work, so his commute is 38 mi/day.  So we total approximately 105 mi/day, 4-5 days per week.  This sucks.  Unfortunately, we live in a rural area near my husband's family (he's unwilling to move away from them, and being near them  does have it's perks) and there's not much out here in the way of daycare alternatives or job alternatives (he's a minister and I'm a veterinarian, so pretty specialized fields).... so shortening the commute would almost certainly mean selling the house.  Even given that, though, the shortest we could possibly get our total daily commute (if we found a house just off the highway that runs between my job and the daycare) would be 64 miles/day.  Yeah, that's 40% less than now, but I can't decide if that's quite enough of an increase to take the financial hit of moving from a house that we've owned for such a short period of time.  I bounce back and forth, so any thoughts on how to make this decision would be MUCH appreciated!! 

Also, any ideas/suggestions/facepunches on all of the other details I've posted would be welcome as well, but please be gentle!  I think I know what I need to do and it's just a matter of doing it (drop Orkin, cancel home phone, escape from Verizon, etc).... except when it comes to the house, and there I'm completely stumped!

ETA: I'm 35, husband is 30, daughter is 2 :)
Current vehicles - 2008 Nissan Frontier with 145k miles (mine before marriage but hubby now drives it and argues, somewhat justifiably, that we do significant benefit from having a truck, avg 20-22 mpg), 2014 Mazda 5 with 3k miles (avg 26 mpg).
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: Gin1984 on November 30, 2014, 02:07:44 PM
Does your state give you a deduction for your 529?
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 02:11:54 PM
Yes, deductible from state income tax.  (And when gifts go into the 529 from other family, those are checks that were sent to me and deposited into my account and then I turn around and transfer to the 529, so I get the deduction on those.  Maybe that's evil, but my family is in a state without state income tax!)
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: mm1970 on November 30, 2014, 02:38:36 PM
How much time would you gain back if you were commuting 64 miles/day instead of >100?
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 02:49:26 PM
It's all highway miles on back country roads without traffic, so if we could find something just off the highway we'd gain about 40 minutes per day total.  That would be split somehow between the two of us depending on where along that highway a house came available, or would be further decreased by how far off the highway we had to be.  I guess a more realistic estimate would probably be that we'd save 30 minutes/day (because the chances of finding something right along that road are slim - it's mostly trailers through there)  and therefore I'd get about 20 minutes/day and he'd get about 10.  Every little bit helps, but it's not quite a huge life-changing difference from that perspective.   I dunno, maybe it should be?  I guess it would really depend on the exact location of the house.

Love these questions!  Great food for thought - keep 'em coming! :)
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 03:14:25 PM
Seeing all the facts written out and discussing the actual change in our available time, I think I'm starting to think that moving DOESN'T make sense.  Unless someone wants to play devil's advocate and convince me otherwise :)  Maybe I'll someday be able to find a job closer to our house... it sounds like that would probably be a better plan than trying to move at this time. 
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: Gin1984 on November 30, 2014, 03:46:25 PM
IMO, your EF should always be a line in your budget, that money can go to a Roth (after five years), cash or taxable account, but you should always be putting money into it.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: MDM on November 30, 2014, 04:53:57 PM
$9160/mo take home implies ~$150K annual income.

Any reason not to put $35K/yr into 401k plans, and $11K/yr into Roth IRAs?

You should still have plenty left over....

Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 05:20:54 PM
We're a bit under $150k, but close. 

The plan is definitely to max out my Simple IRA & two Roths (hubby doesn't have one yet, so we'll need to open one).  Husband's plan is a 403(b)9.  We haven't yet received any info about it (except that his employer will contribute $5k/yr) so I'll have to look into that further once we get some info.

Regardless, I feel like I should hold off on that stuff until we get pay off the credit card and have a $10k emergency fund.  Agreed?
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: Gin1984 on November 30, 2014, 05:28:56 PM
We're a bit under $150k, but close. 

The plan is definitely to max out my Simple IRA & two Roths (hubby doesn't have one yet, so we'll need to open one).  Husband's plan is a 403(b)9.  We haven't yet received any info about it (except that his employer will contribute $5k/yr) so I'll have to look into that further once we get some info.

Regardless, I feel like I should hold off on that stuff until we get pay off the credit card and have a $10k emergency fund.  Agreed?
I would not.  If you support yourself on one income, I'd pay off the debt before the Roths but not before the pre-tax accounts.  The EF should be line item but I would not wait to fund your other accounts before you get it to $10,000.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: MDM on November 30, 2014, 05:43:22 PM
Unless you have had some amazing returns in that Roth IRA, you have your emergency fund already established: Roth IRA contributions can be withdrawn penalty-free at any time.  The Roth IRA contributions are >$10K, correct?

Rather than use cash for groceries, etc., you could use one of the rewards credit cards instead.  That would save you 1-2%, plus you could download the CC transactions to Quicken (or Mint, or...) so you know where the money is going.  Identifying overspending is the first step toward reducing it.

I don't think you have to wait for the CC payoff to fund the tax-advantaged (401k or 403b) accounts to the maximum allowed by the IRS.  But you should check that with your own numbers.  You can use the spreadsheet template (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/ask-a-mustachian/how-to-write-a-'case-study'-topic/msg274228/#msg274228) in the How to Write a Case Study thread if you don't have your own budgeting software.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 06:07:38 PM
Okay, so to make sure I'm understanding.... you would 1. max out my SIMPLE IRA and hubby's 403(b) ASAP, drawing that money out of our current EF budget, 2. continue paying off the credit card debt as planned, 3. start funding the Roth(s) up to the max as soon as debt's paid off.  I know that I can withdraw contributions from my Roth and I've read the arguments in favor of not even having a traditional emergency account but instead using the Roth for that purpose, just not quite sure whether it's something I feel comfortable with. 

Previously used a rewards credit card for all purchases, but hubby gets out of control with that.  I'd go back to it in a heartbeat if it was just me, but right now the cash system seems to work better for us.  (Except gas - that we do with the credit card.)
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: Gin1984 on November 30, 2014, 06:16:37 PM
Okay, so to make sure I'm understanding.... you would 1. max out my SIMPLE IRA and hubby's 403(b) ASAP, drawing that money out of our current EF budget, 2. continue paying off the credit card debt as planned, 3. start funding the Roth(s) up to the max as soon as debt's paid off.  I know that I can withdraw contributions from my Roth and I've read the arguments in favor of not even having a traditional emergency account but instead using the Roth for that purpose, just not quite sure whether it's something I feel comfortable with. 

Previously used a rewards credit card for all purchases, but hubby gets out of control with that.  I'd go back to it in a heartbeat if it was just me, but right now the cash system seems to work better for us.  (Except gas - that we do with the credit card.)
Yes, however, I should add one thing.  Cut the 529 contributions until the debt is gone. 
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: MDM on November 30, 2014, 06:21:16 PM
Okay, so to make sure I'm understanding.... you would 1. max out my SIMPLE IRA and hubby's 403(b) ASAP, drawing that money out of our current EF budget, 2. continue paying off the credit card debt as planned, 3. start funding the Roth(s) up to the max as soon as debt's paid off.  I know that I can withdraw contributions from my Roth and I've read the arguments in favor of not even having a traditional emergency account but instead using the Roth for that purpose, just not quite sure whether it's something I feel comfortable with. 

Previously used a rewards credit card for all purchases, but hubby gets out of control with that.  I'd go back to it in a heartbeat if it was just me, but right now the cash system seems to work better for us.  (Except gas - that we do with the credit card.)
Good point on that potential downside of credit cards.  Seems you understand the trade-offs and you know your situation best.

On your points #1, #2, and #3: yes to #1, and I would do #2 and #3 simultaneously.  At least, I think I would - prior to anything (call it point #0 if you will), I'd use some budgeting tool (YNAB or roll-your-own Excel or the link given above) to confirm that #2 and #3 (and the 529, and some taxable investing) can in fact be done at the same time, assuming #1 is done.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: MKinVA on November 30, 2014, 07:52:51 PM
Get rid of the NY Times just as a matter of principle. You can read a number of articles for free each month. You don't need a subscription. Also, if you have five acres, why can't the horses be on your property? And finally, your husband is losing receipts? Tell him to stop that. He's not a baby, he's a grown up and if he is going to be ministering to a congregation, he'd better get his act together. There will be couples coming to him for advice on just these stresses in their marriage. Ask him to practice what he will tell them.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on November 30, 2014, 08:02:15 PM
I typically go over what the NY Times allows for free, as that is my major source of news.  Point taken, though.

Horses can't be moved to our house at this time because we have no fencing and no barn.  That may happen at some time in the future, but at the moment it seems easier and more cost-effective to have them at the in-laws then to spend the ~$20k on horse fencing, cross-fencing, and a barn that we would need in order to move them here.  (Additionally, they're pastured with my in-laws two horses and the four of them have been together for 12+ years, so there's stability associated with keeping them there.  Stressed horses = colic and injuries, all of which mean $$$$ vet bills.)

Point taken on the receipts as well, but that's not a battle I'm willing to fight.  His family spends money like its going out of style, puts everything on credit cards, and constantly harasses him for the fact that I'm so "cheap."  The fact that he's willing to limit himself to a cash budget is good enough for me.  He'd find a way to save receipts if he felt like it were truly necessary (ie. we will have our house taken away if we do not do XYZ), but his logic is that we're already doing better than 99% of the people in this poor, rural, uneducated small town by even saving 10% for retirement and therefore we should just relax a bit.  It's hard to argue with that, because our finances are combined and therefore its his decision just as much as it is mine.  Would I like to lower that weekly amount even more? Sure. But first I'll need to convince him that we need to stop eating out for other reasons.  (Been making a lot of progress in that department for two reasons - a) we both need to lose weight, and b) now that he has to get up early for work, he's finally realizing why I don't want to make the long drive into town at night just for dinner.  I think I may be able to get him to okay a slight weekly reduction sometime within the next few weeks.)
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: yoga mama on November 30, 2014, 08:20:34 PM
Congrats on all the great changes you are making.  I agree with others on stopping the 529 contributions.  What you have right now, with gifts from family and compounding, will be a very nice sum by the time your daughter is in college.  Check out MMM post on paying for college.  I'm with you on helping her out with higher education - we plan to do that for our kids too, but I've stopped the 529 contributions.  You can use many retirement accounts for tuition without penalty (don't remember details, sorry). 

Also second maxing out pre-tax accounts, both yours and hubby's.  Start now because there are some accounts that you have to contribute to by Dec 31.  (Some allow contributions till April.) 

Question.  What is your goal?  Do you want to retire?  Work PT?  Accumulate FU money?  Having in-laws nearby is great.  Are they planning to retire any time soon, and would they be willing to cover PT daycare at that point?  Knowing what you're working toward would be very helpful! 

Re: NYT - I love it too but finally cut off the $15/mo because I wanted to use my time more productively.  I stopped reading much news at all and found myself much happier for it.  I read Huffington Post when I just need something to do for a few minutes but I've tried to get away from spending so much time in front of the screen and have found it to be a positive change.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: Gin1984 on November 30, 2014, 09:06:15 PM
I typically go over what the NY Times allows for free, as that is my major source of news.  Point taken, though.

Horses can't be moved to our house at this time because we have no fencing and no barn.  That may happen at some time in the future, but at the moment it seems easier and more cost-effective to have them at the in-laws then to spend the ~$20k on horse fencing, cross-fencing, and a barn that we would need in order to move them here.  (Additionally, they're pastured with my in-laws two horses and the four of them have been together for 12+ years, so there's stability associated with keeping them there.  Stressed horses = colic and injuries, all of which mean $$$$ vet bills.)

Point taken on the receipts as well, but that's not a battle I'm willing to fight. His family spends money like its going out of style, puts everything on credit cards, and constantly harasses him for the fact that I'm so "cheap."  The fact that he's willing to limit himself to a cash budget is good enough for me.  He'd find a way to save receipts if he felt like it were truly necessary (ie. we will have our house taken away if we do not do XYZ), but his logic is that we're already doing better than 99% of the people in this poor, rural, uneducated small town by even saving 10% for retirement and therefore we should just relax a bit.  It's hard to argue with that, because our finances are combined and therefore its his decision just as much as it is mine.  Would I like to lower that weekly amount even more? Sure. But first I'll need to convince him that we need to stop eating out for other reasons.  (Been making a lot of progress in that department for two reasons - a) we both need to lose weight, and b) now that he has to get up early for work, he's finally realizing why I don't want to make the long drive into town at night just for dinner.  I think I may be able to get him to okay a slight weekly reduction sometime within the next few weeks.)
That is a good point.  There are things that people on here say are not good, but make my husband happy.  Marriage is a compromise. 
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: feelingroovy on November 30, 2014, 09:21:41 PM
Is your husband's commute mileage including taking your daughter to daycare?  What will happen once she's in school? 

And is your husband's housing allowance dependent at all on what you're spending for housing or is it a fixed amount?  Because really, his job is covering the housing costs.

I think given the housing limitations and your husband's wanting to not feel too budgeted, your best bet is going to be to start with things that either affect only you or are painless.  Examples of the latter are replacing light bulbs to reduce electricity or shopping to reduce insurance rates.

The biggest example for the former is your Mazda, which it seems you're commuting in. 26mpg isn't the worst possible, but it's not great.  With your commute, you'd be a great candidate for a hybrid.  If you could get a used Prius for $10-11k it would both reduce car payments and have a huge reduction on the gas.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: NinetyFour on November 30, 2014, 09:48:35 PM
Call up the NYT and tell them you need to cancel.  Then ask if there is currently a sweet deal.  They will usually offer something like 99 cents for a month or $5 for 3 months.  Totally not necessary to pay the $15 per month.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: TexasStash on November 30, 2014, 10:20:22 PM
As a married person, I appreciate having difficulty with discussing money with a spouse. But it needs to be said that your situation appears to be driven mostly by his family history and lack of financial responsibility. The rest of the solutions offered here are basically window dressing until the bigger issues are dealt with. The hard part is seeing them as worthwhile battles. This isn't about a few dollars here or there. This is about whether you will work together as a family unit without family interference and whether he will be responsible with stewarding God's gifts.

I certainly don't suggest you go in with guns blazing but it sure seems like your husband hears all of the negatives of your MMM approach and only the supposed positives of spending. Perhaps you could take some time to think about what your approach will do to set up your family for future success, like "we should do this because it will give us financial independence in X years" or "Daughter's college could be fully funded and she will start her career one day with zero student loan debt".

In the meantime, you be the one to go first (as you are doing) and show him that you're willing to spend less and that it doesn't cost you anything in terms of sacrificed lifestyle.

Also don't forget that contracts don't have to be completed. If it makes more sense to pay an early termination fee than to serve out the contract, then do it! The best day to make a change is today!

Prayers and well wishes as you go about your project of not only changing the family financial situation but overall mindset toward finances!
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: ClaycordJCA on December 01, 2014, 12:34:45 AM
Is solar a viable option to reduce electricity costs?  Might be worth exploring a 20 year solar lease.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: former player on December 01, 2014, 02:56:39 AM
You've both been through grad school and have no student loans: big congratulations are in order.

At a rough calculation you will be saving about $40,000 per annum: your job contributions, your husband's job contributions, proposed savings and your mortgage principal.  Not too shabby, that.

Moving is expensive: don't do it unless you have to.  Bringing your husband along gently is essential: congratulations also due on how you are managing that, and don't push too hard too fast - gentle steps will get you to the same place in the end.

Sorry to hear about the commutes: looks like you are stuck with them until you retire or find closer jobs and childcare/schooling.  As your husband settles into and then becomes resentful of all the driving, it will be an added gentle incentive to him to further adopt the way of the mustache.

The only suggestion I'd make at the moment is to adjust the chickens into the pot as and when they stop producing eggs, but as you describe them as pets I can understand it may not be an option.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on December 01, 2014, 04:53:54 AM
Thank you guy so much for all of the great feedback!!  So glad that I decided to suck it up and sit down to write that long-winded post :) To answer some questions....

yoga mama - 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.  Husband just started his career and therefore has no intention of retiring anytime soon, but pastors experience a high burnout rate and therefore I know that the longevity of a ministry career is often pretty short-lived unless he can find his way into some sort of chaplaincy or nonprofit work, so I'd like to be prepared for that as well.   My MIL is retired from teaching but currently works PT.  Even if she weren't working, I'm not sure that she'd offer much in the way of daycare assistance.  She watches daughter if she's sick or if John has commitments after daycare closes but before I get home from work, but she has other grandkids, has a pretty busy social/church life, and feels that it's really important for kids to be in daycare.  (Our daycare is an excellent and I must admit that our daughter has learned a lot just in the last two weeks).    With this many people chiming in about the NYT thing, I guess I need to take the plunge :)

feelinggroovy -   Yes, his mileage includes taking her to daycare.  Once she's in school, it will go down from 38 mi/day to about 15 miles per day, which is a huge improvement!!  It seems like she'll be in daycare forever, but unfortunately I guess kindergarten is only 3 years away :)  Husband's housing allowance is $1000/month, so we have a little bit of room to decrease our housing expenses before that would decrease. 

NinetyFour  - Will try that idea first, then cancel if I can't get it cheaper :)

TexasStash - We've gone over the Shockingly Simple Steps chart and I do finally have him on board with the concept, we just disagree on how extreme to be.  Given that we're currently saving a pretty big chunk WITHOUT any complaints from him, I'm trying to go easy and not push him out of his comfort zone.  It'd be totally different if we were at opposite extremes, but we aren't.  Appreciate the feedback, though.

ClaycordJCA - We're in NC, which is pretty unfriendly towards residential solar.  (Corporate solar is another issue- our property backs up to a huge solar farm!)  My understanding is that residential solar isn't helpful in this area due to high fees charged by the utility companies, but I'll look into it!  Thanks for the idea!

former player
- 'The girls' are still laying well, but something tells me we'll be keeping them even when they aren't.  Luckily, they're our cheapest pets by far :) 




Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on December 01, 2014, 05:36:46 AM
Would have bought a hybrid, but I have family that visits from out of state at least every month or two and we often take day trips to the mountains while they're here. Factored in cost of gas and everything, and the Mazda 5 was still cheaper than renting a minivan during their visits. It's the most efficient 3rd row vehicle on the market... If they introduce a third row Prius V here in the United States, I'm on it!
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: A mom on December 01, 2014, 07:32:12 AM
I disagree about the NYT. They are one of the few decent news sources left and they are struggling financially. I would call it money towards making the world a better place (or keeping it from getting worse).
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: kib on December 01, 2014, 07:42:13 AM
What if you gave your husband a debit card instead of cash?  That would force him to be somewhat cognizant of the balance as well as giving you an automatic paper trail.

Your husband sounds similar to mine, and one thing that has helped is giving him more control over money.  I reworked the budget so that he's paying for gas out of his own discretionary spending, and that made a big difference in his attitude toward gas guzzlers. Paying his own verizon bill?  Voila, we now have RW.  For every bill he actually sees as taking away from his enjoyments, there is a corresponding reduction in wasteful spending that is NOT coming about due to nagging.  Yay!  (I bump up his discretionary spending allowance by the amount I feel is reasonable. For example, he had a $75 verizon plan.  I felt that comparable service could be had for $40, so I added that much to his monthly allotment and shifted the bill to his discretionary account. When he felt the bite of $75 a month he decided to go with RW, so he now has a $10 phone bill, he has an extra $30 in hand and our joint account has an extra $35.) 

(Granted, there is a financial reward for him in reducing his waste, that money is still usually being spent on something he wants, but turning it from mandatory spending into discretionary cash is still freeing up some money and making him more aware of the idea that money has to come from somewhere finite, as well as his spending pattern in general, which is a step in the right direction.)
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: MayDay on December 01, 2014, 08:01:26 AM
I think the cash for groceries and other monthly expenses is reasonable.

I think your car's are insane. If it was my husband he'd be getting a major facepunch on the truck and insisting on living so far from your jobs. Pick one. If he wants such a long commute then it's time for a prius.

And why in the world did you pick a Mazda5 with its fairly awful mileage when you have such an insane commute?- just read that, sorry. Although given your commute it still seems you'd be ahead driving two economy cars and just taking them both on family trips.  I'd say the person with a shorter commute drives the Mazda and the other drives a prius, and the truck gets sold.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: starbuck on December 01, 2014, 08:04:56 AM
Point taken on the receipts as well, but that's not a battle I'm willing to fight.  His family spends money like its going out of style, puts everything on credit cards, and constantly harasses him for the fact that I'm so "cheap."  The fact that he's willing to limit himself to a cash budget is good enough for me.  He'd find a way to save receipts if he felt like it were truly necessary (ie. we will have our house taken away if we do not do XYZ), but his logic is that we're already doing better than 99% of the people in this poor, rural, uneducated small town by even saving 10% for retirement and therefore we should just relax a bit.  It's hard to argue with that, because our finances are combined and therefore its his decision just as much as it is mine.  Would I like to lower that weekly amount even more? Sure. But first I'll need to convince him that we need to stop eating out for other reasons.  (Been making a lot of progress in that department for two reasons - a) we both need to lose weight, and b) now that he has to get up early for work, he's finally realizing why I don't want to make the long drive into town at night just for dinner.  I think I may be able to get him to okay a slight weekly reduction sometime within the next few weeks.)

I'm going to push you on this, because I don't understand why you would refer to this as a 'battle' and sidestep the issue. Since your spouse is in a leadership role, both as a parent AND a minister, I think he needs to step up his game. Collecting receipts is NOT considered a hardship. Stick an envelope in the car and ask him to put them in there. Or some box next to the front door. The data that you can get from tracking ALL (or 90%) of your spending is very very powerful. Since CCs aren't practical, tracking by receipts is the other option.

Let your spouse know that this is important to you, and honestly that should be enough for this small ask. If he's not willing to do it, well then you probably need to explore with him the why behind that. I feel like the unwillingness to collect receipts is a symptom, and it's very very important to uncover the disease. (Not just for financial reasons, but for emotional and relationship well-being too.)
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on December 01, 2014, 08:33:20 AM
I feel like the unwillingness to collect receipts is a symptom, and it's very very important to uncover the disease. (Not just for financial reasons, but for emotional and relationship well-being too.)

The disease is a lack of organizational skills.  He'd hang onto the receipts, but they'd end up all over his car, going through the wash in his pockets, etc.  It isn't an unwillingness to collect them, but an unwillingness to get them home in an organized-enough manner to be useful to me.  He can keep his work stuff organized, but when it comes to home he's one of those people whose desk is always buried under a foot-tall pile of stuff.



Husband would be glad to drive a more fuel-efficient car (ie. he'd take the Mazda5 and I could get a Prius), as long as we keep an old 'beater' truck around for hauling hay, horse feed, fencing supplies, yard waste, chicken supplies, etc.  Maybe I need to re-evaluate the math on that, but last I checked I couldn't make it work.  Then again, that was before he had the work/daycare commute, so maybe it would be different now.    (Realized that I hadn't quite made that clear in the initial post, so I went back and edited.  He doesn't need a truck for image reasons, but because he feels that we need it for functionality.  While we don't NEED it, we do use our truck as a truck on a regular basis - ie. picking up multiple truckloads of hay bales for the horses.) 
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: kib on December 01, 2014, 08:44:12 AM
Just wanted to mention, your mazda 5 can probably tow a $250 harbor freight trailer.  I have a matrix that will tow 1500 pounds and fit an amazing amount inside as well, so a 35 mpg car actually does double duty as a "truck" when needed.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on December 01, 2014, 09:45:27 AM
Just wanted to mention, your mazda 5 can probably tow a $250 harbor freight trailer.  I have a matrix that will tow 1500 pounds and fit an amazing amount inside as well, so a 35 mpg car actually does double duty as a "truck" when needed.

Yeah, I've suggested that but he has pointed out that the Mazda5 (or any car) may not be able to get through his parents' muddy pastures to their barn, along the bumpy treeline back to the storage building on our property, along the deeply-potholed muddy road back to the hay barn at the farm where they purchase their hay, etc.  We live in a really rural area and so our truck does go off-road a good bit.  I know the MMM philosophy is anti-truck, and I get that, but we really do USE our truck more than most people.  Again, I'll have to run the numbers... maybe having 3 vehicles with a 'beater' truck would be justified.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: startingsmall on October 02, 2016, 07:55:41 PM
So, here it is two years later... and we've made some progress!!

1. Our realtor contacted us with a client who really, really, really wanted a house just like ours. He offered us $250k, which we couldn't refuse. So we moved.... resulting in:
  - My commute decreasing from 66 miles/day to 38 miles/day (I still have the 2014 Mazda5, but far less gas expense)
  - My husband's commute decreasing from 38 miles/day to 27 miles/day (he still has the 2008 Nissan Frontier, but far less gas expense)
  - Lower costs and much less maintenance.  We used to easily spend 1-2 days per week on the house. Now we're down to a few hours/wk.
  - MUCH better school district (honestly, our major motivating factor)
WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN!

2. I changed jobs. I went from making a long commute 4 or 5 days a week (alternating) two years ago to now making a shorter commute only 3 or 4 days per week (alternating). I went from working 40 hrs/wk to now working 32 hrs/wk. I took a paycut, but it was well worth it. I'm now much happier and spending much less on commuting. Also, I'm now working for a corporation, so my benefits are better. WIN, WIN, WIN.

3. With my new free time, I've started doing freelance medical/scientific writing from home. Apparently, I'm pretty good at it. My hourly rate is nearly 2x what I make at my FT job, the work is less stressful (partially because I'm doing it from home, partially because I'm burnt out on vet med and enjoying the change of pace), and it fits my schedule. WIN, WIN, WIN.

4. My husband sees the progress that we're making and he's excited. We've struck a balance that results in us being slightly-Mustachian, but really without feeling like we're sacrificing AT ALL. I feel like we're amazingly spendy, but we're making progress so I'm okay with it for now.

So, I figured I'd update here for a few reasons. First, so that I have a place to track our progress. Second, because I want to give up my FT job for a combination of PT work and freelance... but I can't decide when it will be 'safe-ish' to do so.

Income:  $145k-ish
My FT job: $80,500/yr (down from $92,000/yr)
Husband's FT job: $45,000/yr ($25k in taxable income, $15k in non-taxed allowances, $5k into church-sponsored retirement fund... up from $40,000/yr)
My freelance income: $20k this year, maybe???  I just took the decrease in my work hours a couple of months ago, which allowed me to pick up a LOT of additional work with one particular client in
        the last couple of months. I've earned $3000 in the last month and that should continue for many months. My 2016 YTD freelance income is currently at about $14k.

Current expenses: $5430/mo (down from $6810)

HOME EXPENSES = $1625/mo (down from $1700)
mortgage - $1160 (down from $1275)
electric - $200 (down from $275)
internet/phone/cable - $90 (up from $75.... they offered us cable for only $20/mo, so we okayed it. will cancel when the price goes up after one year) 
trash - $25 (up from $20)
Orkin - N/A (down from  $45)
Netflix - $10   
Lawn guy - $140/mo during the summer months only (facepunch away, but we decided that this was well worth it... the savings in gas for our riding mower pay the lawn guy)
 
OTHER EXPENSES = $3805/mo (down from $5110)
cell phone  - $170 (up from $160.... We're with Verizon and I know that we need to look into the low-cost providers, but we're in a rural area with poor coverage and therefore I'm scared to change.
         Need to suck it up and do it anyway.) 
horse rent - $150 (unchanged)
car insurance - $180 (up from $115.... he had an accident and we filed a claim instead of paying out of pocket. I need to call and drop collision and comprehensive on his truck to get the rate back
        down.... adding that to my to-do list right now!!)
NY Times   - $15/mo (unchanged, can't bring myself to give it up!)
disability / life insurance - $110 (unchanged, long-term disability and $500k term life on me.)
daycare - $650/mo (up from $630, but now paid through dependent-care FSA so the actual cost to us has gone down)
car payment - $310 (unchanged, @ 2.9%)
gas for cars - $200 (down from $500!! YAY!!)
charity- $795 (up from $435)
pets: food, meds, etc - $100 (down from $225 following the loss of one dog and giving away the chickens)
groceries - $645
fun money (meals out, purchases, etc) - $400
YMCA membership - $80 (husband started encountering weight-related health issues and lacks motivation to exercise outside of gym setting, so we got a family membership and I'm also getting
    in better shape)

Assets, excluding home: $197,998 (up from $117,517)
Retirement accounts - $160,991 (up from $105,188 - Roth, 401k, husband's pension)
HSA - $4700 (up from zero)
Daughter's 529 - $15,307 (up from $9829)
Checking/savings - $17,000 (up from $2500)

Liabilities, excluding home: $9637 (down from $21,092)
Citibank credit card - zero (down from $4292)
Auto loan - $9637 @ 2.9% (down from $16.8k)

Mortgage - $198,884 on a house worth $235k (down from $208,769 on a house worth $250k)

I realize that there's still more that we could be doing to optimize expenses, but this is where we are right now. It's a comfortable place, where we're both relatively content with no disagreements over money and I'm happy with our progress...

Except that I don't want to work so much.

Next year, my daughter will start kindergarten. (Also, we're trying for #2.) Working four or five full weekend days per month (which is what my current job requires) isn't a huge deal right now, because I can keep her home on a weekday to spend some time with her. Next year, though, that option won't exist anymore. Also, the typical work-until-6-or-7pm veterinarian schedule makes it hard to have evening time with young kiddos, especially given the unpredictable nature of a vet's schedule (sometimes we leave at closing, sometimes it's an hour or more later). I want one of the cushy 'mommy vet' PT jobs, working 3-4 half-days per week (they do exist, though finding one may take some patience).

Cutting my vet work back to 15-20 hrs/wk, I would likely be able to earn about $30-40k/yr. My husband's job will be able to take over providing our health insurance, but we'll lose out on my 401k, HSA, and some other benefits. I'd likely continue to do freelance writing on the side, though, so my actual income if I cut back to PT work should be around $50k/yr, which I think is doable. If I wait until next year, our non-home net worth should be close to $250k.... so if we cut back retirement contributions significantly at that time (to the $5k contributed by his church and my Roth, for example), I think the accounts would still grow to a retirement-worthy level by 'normal' retirement age in the worst-case scenario, right? I'm 37 and my husband is 32, so normal retirement age is 30 years away... we'd like to FIRE earlier, but I'm okay with a longer path if it means more time with my daughter (+/- future kiddo) while she is still young.

Thoughts?

Obviously, finally addressing the cell phones and adjusting insurance coverage on the truck are priorities on the expense side, but is my plan doable? It looks like it should be, but it just seems too good to be true, given where we were two years ago.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: MDM on October 02, 2016, 09:38:20 PM
Cutting my vet work back to 15-20 hrs/wk...we'll lose out on my 401k
Great progress - congratulations!

Regarding the quoted line, see Solo 401(k) plan - Bogleheads (https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Solo_401(k)_plan) for some things you might consider....
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: Gin1984 on October 03, 2016, 12:27:04 PM
How did you get into the medical/scientific writing?  I have a master's in neuroscience and would love to break into that field.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on October 03, 2016, 12:53:33 PM
How did you get into the medical/scientific writing?  I have a master's in neuroscience and would love to break into that field.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

I started out editing for Edanz - https://www.edanzediting.com/   Their pay is decent - they pay by the page (or by the project for specialized tasts) and I usually average around $40-50/hr. They have an unpaid training that they require you to complete... it was time-consuming, but a very helpful refresher.

Once I had been doing that for a while, I landed a few small jobs on Elance (now Upwork) and then eventually applied for an ongoing freelance job with one of the primary producers of educational content for veterinarians. That's the overwhelming majority of my work now, though I still edit for Edanz and occasionally get invited to apply for other random jobs on Upwork.

I'm also a member of the American Medical Writers Association (amwa.org) - haven't found any jobs through them, but I feel like I've learned a good bit through their forums and journal.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: Gin1984 on October 03, 2016, 01:19:46 PM
How did you get into the medical/scientific writing?  I have a master's in neuroscience and would love to break into that field.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Sent from my SPH-L710 using Tapatalk

I started out editing for Edanz - https://www.edanzediting.com/   Their pay is decent - they pay by the page (or by the project for specialized tasts) and I usually average around $40-50/hr. They have an unpaid training that they require you to complete... it was time-consuming, but a very helpful refresher.

Once I had been doing that for a while, I landed a few small jobs on Elance (now Upwork) and then eventually applied for an ongoing freelance job with one of the primary producers of educational content for veterinarians. That's the overwhelming majority of my work now, though I still edit for Edanz and occasionally get invited to apply for other random jobs on Upwork.

I'm also a member of the American Medical Writers Association (amwa.org) - haven't found any jobs through them, but I feel like I've learned a good bit through their forums and journal.
Thank you so much!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: Cassie on October 03, 2016, 02:58:38 PM
YOu are giving away 9k/year to charity so this would be a good place to cut. If you were rich it would make sense but it does not in your position.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on October 03, 2016, 03:17:50 PM
YOu are giving away 9k/year to charity so this would be a good place to cut. If you were rich it would make sense but it does not in your position.

We're Christian and my husband is in the ministry, so we feel pretty strongly about giving and this is not something that we are comfortable cutting. I would actually like to see us up closer to 10% of our gross income,  but this is level at which we are comfortable giving right now. We don't do the whole tithe thing (less than half of that money goes to our church, the rest to other organizations) but we do believe in giving generously(ish). We are rich, at least compared to those in our community.

We would decrease the charitable giving if our household took a pay cut (still trying to keep it at least 5-10%+ of income) so that does give us some wiggle room if I go PT, but we will not cut while we remain at this income level.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: Cassie on October 03, 2016, 03:19:38 PM
Well then subtract that amount from what your husband earns and that is what he really makes which is going to make a difference if you want to leave your job.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on October 03, 2016, 03:39:27 PM
Well then subtract that amount from what your husband earns and that is what he really makes which is going to make a difference if you want to leave your job.

Huh? I'm counting it as an expense, with limited flexibility in the event of a significant cut in income. It's doesn't matter if I subtract a percentage off our incomes or add it as an expense.
Title: Re: Case study: Need baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. Should we move?
Post by: robartsd on October 03, 2016, 05:10:18 PM
internet/phone/cable - $90 (up from $75.... they offered us cable for only $20/mo, so we okayed it. will cancel when the price goes up after one year) 
Netflix - $10   
Facepunch for cable (even if it is only $20/month). Only reason to get cable is when the dumb telecom will give you cable + internet for less than internet alone. You could give up Netflix while paying for cable - or go without both and rely on the library for entertainment

cell phone  - $170 (up from $160.... We're with Verizon and I know that we need to look into the low-cost providers, but we're in a rural area with poor coverage and therefore I'm scared to change.
         Need to suck it up and do it anyway.) 
OK, here's the real reason I responded. I've been happy with Page Plus Cellular (https://www.pagepluscellular.com/). It runs on Verizon's network (but doesn't usually roam). IP Daley pulled a recommendation for them when they were bought out by TracFone. No Verizon VMNO currently meets IP Daley's criteria for a recommendation. http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-son-of-the-superguide!/ (http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/communications-tech-son-of-the-superguide!/)

Since you have a home phone, how much do you NEED mobile communications. For true emergencies, a phone without a service plan will still be able to call 9-1-1 if there is coverage. Of course others wouldn't be able to reach you (and both of your careers sound like there's some amount of being on call).

groceries - $645
fun money (meals out, purchases, etc) - $400
YMCA membership - $80 (husband started encountering weight-related health issues and lacks motivation to exercise outside of gym setting, so we got a family membership and I'm also getting
    in better shape)
All these are areas you could be more frugal - you could easily cut out $300 in expenses here.

Assets, excluding home: $197,998 (up from $117,517)
Retirement accounts - $160,991 (up from $105,188 - Roth, 401k, husband's pension)
HSA - $4700 (up from zero)
Daughter's 529 - $15,307 (up from $9829)
Checking/savings - $17,000 (up from $2500)
That's starting to look like too much cash sitting around in bank accounts losing money (after inflation). If you're already maximizing all available retirement accounts, then it might be time to start a taxable investment account.

$15k for college before starting kindergarten is a nice start at paying your daughter's college expenses - could already be enough to pay for a 4-year state college education when the time comes. Personally, I'd invest in time with your children over money for their college - no need to contribute more here at this time.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on October 03, 2016, 06:53:32 PM
robartsd:

- Cable facepunch accepted. I let myself be talked into it when we moved a few months ago, because they were going to charge me a $40-50 reconnection fee that would be waived if I added cable tv at $20/mo that I could cancel at anytime. But, here it is 4 months later and I haven't cancelled yet.

- Thanks for the feedback on Page Plus. We actually considered going with them a year or two, but we wanted to get some more info from a real-life person. The two Page Plus dealers in our areas were both in incredibly sketchy smoke-filled stores that appeared to be full of stolen merchandise. We got completely skeeved out (and had our daughter with us, who we don't like to  have breathing heavy smoke) and stuck with Verizon. Any tips to get past that?

- We definitely need the cell phones. My husband is on call 24/7 except for his 3 weeks of vacation per year. (And even then, he still needs to be reachable in case of emergency, though he gets the leeway of taking a few hours to respond.) My on call duties are limited, but they are there. We could probably get rid of the home phone, though. When I decided that we needed to keep the home phone, my husband was a SAHD with our daughter (who was just a baby at the time). We lived on 5 acres in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't get past the new-mom anxiety of what would happen if there was an emergency and his phone was dead, or missing (neither of us is a keep-the-phone-on-us-at-all-times person, so sometimes it gets left in a room or sitting in a pair of dirty pants on the dresser), or whatever. Now that our daughter is 4, she spends most of her day at daycare, and we live on 0.5 acres with neighbors all around us, the home phone can probably go.

- We could definitely cut on groceries and eating out. We haven't, because this is the compromise that we have reached, but it's true that we have plenty of room to tighten up if I went to PT vet work and then ended up with a lean freelance month or two.

- Some of the cash (about $3k) is for some planned kitchen repairs happening over the next week. It is true that we keep more cash than necessary, but it's the only way that I'll be able to convince the husband to let me go PT.

- We've only contributed a few thousand to the college fund. The rest is all gifts that she has received (everything since she was born 4 years ago). Now that we're at $15k, I don't plan to make any further contributions.

Thanks for the feedback!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: ponyespresso on October 03, 2016, 07:40:43 PM
about page plus -- you don't have to go to the store. I ordered our SIM cards on their website, and we brought our own phones. You can buy the refills/pins/etc on their site as well. Now we pay about $80 month for two smartphone plans (vs 120 or whatever it was with Verizon.) And of course there are cheaper plans, too, but we like having cell data.

It was a bit of a pain getting it all working at first in terms of automatic payments, but PP seems to have fixed some issues and everything works smoothly now. The only thing I really miss is the visual voicemail. but I have survived.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: Villanelle on October 04, 2016, 02:10:55 AM
If your husband needs the phone for work, then shouldn't work be paying for the phone, or at least part of it?

And yes, call *today* to cancel the cable.  Is watching HGTV (or your channel of choice) more important than quitting your FT job? 
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: 2Birds1Stone on October 04, 2016, 05:12:30 AM
Great progress!! It's amazing what you can do by making a whole bunch of smaller changes that eventually end up cutting years or decades off your freedom date =)
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on October 04, 2016, 05:54:36 AM
If your husband needs the phone for work, then shouldn't work be paying for the phone, or at least part of it?

And yes, call *today* to cancel the cable.  Is watching HGTV (or your channel of choice) more important than quitting your FT job?

I absolutely agree, but he works for a small country church that is very set in their ways. We've been trying to get them to increase his non-taxable housing allowance to cover all of our housing expenses (and even said to then subtract that amount from his salary) but they won't. His pay (quantity & details of how it's done)  is determined by a group of 80+ year old individuals from a farming community. (We're in the very rural south.)
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: Villanelle on October 04, 2016, 07:20:35 AM
If your husband needs the phone for work, then shouldn't work be paying for the phone, or at least part of it?

And yes, call *today* to cancel the cable.  Is watching HGTV (or your channel of choice) more important than quitting your FT job?

I absolutely agree, but he works for a small country church that is very set in their ways. We've been trying to get them to increase his non-taxable housing allowance to cover all of our housing expenses (and even said to then subtract that amount from his salary) but they won't. His pay (quantity & details of how it's done)  is determined by a group of 80+ year old individuals from a farming community. (We're in the very rural south.)

Is quitting 100% not an option?  Could be make more money elsewhere and/or could you have a lower cost of living?  What's your #1 priority?  If it is getting you down to part time, then it seems all other things, including DH finding new employment, should be on the table.  If that's secondary to him working this job in this place for whatever reason, fine, but recognize that you are making that choice in your list of priorities, and that you do have more control over all this.  I've found that when I acknowledge that I'm making a choice, even if I'm making it because the other option simply isn't remotely palatable to me, I tend to feel less frustrated.

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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on October 04, 2016, 08:09:46 AM
If your husband needs the phone for work, then shouldn't work be paying for the phone, or at least part of it?

And yes, call *today* to cancel the cable.  Is watching HGTV (or your channel of choice) more important than quitting your FT job?

I absolutely agree, but he works for a small country church that is very set in their ways. We've been trying to get them to increase his non-taxable housing allowance to cover all of our housing expenses (and even said to then subtract that amount from his salary) but they won't. His pay (quantity & details of how it's done)  is determined by a group of 80+ year old individuals from a farming community. (We're in the very rural south.)

Is quitting 100% not an option?  Could be make more money elsewhere and/or could you have a lower cost of living?  What's your #1 priority?  If it is getting you down to part time, then it seems all other things, including DH finding new employment, should be on the table.  If that's secondary to him working this job in this place for whatever reason, fine, but recognize that you are making that choice in your list of priorities, and that you do have more control over all this.  I've found that when I acknowledge that I'm making a choice, even if I'm making it because the other option simply isn't remotely palatable to me, I tend to feel less frustrated.

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.


Husband staying in his job is the priority right now.  He may leave in the future, but not right now. We're already in a very LCOL area, though our mortgage doesn't really reflect that. (Being in a particular school district was a big priority for us due to cultural factors - 'redneck pride' - at the other schools in our area.)

My husband has also suggested decreasing our charitable giving, for the reasons you outlined. He has a BS in Biology and a master's degree... any other master's degree (other than divinity) and he could be making a lot more. We'd still have to give a small amount to the church and I'd want to give to other charities, but maybe we could decrease a bit. It feels weird, but I'll give it some thought.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: robartsd on October 04, 2016, 08:38:47 AM
- Thanks for the feedback on Page Plus. We actually considered going with them a year or two, but we wanted to get some more info from a real-life person. The two Page Plus dealers in our areas were both in incredibly sketchy smoke-filled stores that appeared to be full of stolen merchandise. We got completely skeeved out (and had our daughter with us, who we don't like to  have breathing heavy smoke) and stuck with Verizon. Any tips to get past that?
Use an online dealer. I haven't used them, but Kitty Wireless (http://www.kittywireless.com/) has an excellent reputation for customer service. I use prepaidonline.com (http://prepaidonline.com) to get a small discount. Assuming you're not under contract with Verizon, you should be able to use your current devices with Page Plus.

- We definitely need the cell phones. My husband is on call 24/7 except for his 3 weeks of vacation per year. (And even then, he still needs to be reachable in case of emergency, though he gets the leeway of taking a few hours to respond.) My on call duties are limited, but they are there. We could probably get rid of the home phone, though. When I decided that we needed to keep the home phone, my husband was a SAHD with our daughter (who was just a baby at the time). We lived on 5 acres in the middle of nowhere and I couldn't get past the new-mom anxiety of what would happen if there was an emergency and his phone was dead, or missing (neither of us is a keep-the-phone-on-us-at-all-times person, so sometimes it gets left in a room or sitting in a pair of dirty pants on the dresser), or whatever. Now that our daughter is 4, she spends most of her day at daycare, and we live on 0.5 acres with neighbors all around us, the home phone can probably go.
It's worth considering how much of your mobile usage could be moved over to the home phone when considering what plan you need. However, it doesn't take all that much before you get to the point that an unlimited cell plan and no land line is the best value. You can also look into VOIP for home phone service to get the most bang for your buck (see IP Daley's guide).

- We could definitely cut on groceries and eating out. We haven't, because this is the compromise that we have reached, but it's true that we have plenty of room to tighten up if I went to PT vet work and then ended up with a lean freelance month or two.

- Some of the cash (about $3k) is for some planned kitchen repairs happening over the next week. It is true that we keep more cash than necessary, but it's the only way that I'll be able to convince the husband to let me go PT.
As income becomes more variable, the need for cash on hand increases. I don't yet save enough to max out retirement accounts, so I like to remember that Roth IRA contributions can be withdrawn at any time without penalty - that helps me allocate more to tax advantaged savings.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: PharmaStache on October 04, 2016, 11:41:06 AM

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. 
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: freya on October 05, 2016, 02:25:14 PM
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!



Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on October 05, 2016, 07:13:55 PM

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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: myhotrs on October 06, 2016, 12:26:24 AM
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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: hoping2retire35 on November 07, 2016, 12:19:52 PM
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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on November 07, 2016, 08:33:48 PM
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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: ohsnap on November 08, 2016, 08:56:51 AM
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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATE -- PROGRESS!!!!!)
Post by: startingsmall on May 26, 2018, 07:48:01 PM
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!!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: Cassie 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: Jaayse 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: starguru 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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Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: startingsmall 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.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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.
Title: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: starguru on May 27, 2018, 10:02:45 AM
Dlete
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: starguru 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.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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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Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: englishteacheralex 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/ (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.

Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: Trifele 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. 
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: freya 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?



Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: startingsmall 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!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: freya 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?
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: Psychstache 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 &amp; 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.

Sent from my Pixel using Tapatalk

Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: startingsmall 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!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: robartsd 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 (https://www.androidcentral.com/complete-list-verizon-mvnos)
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: startingsmall 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: Gin1984 on February 16, 2019, 04:30:10 PM
Thanks for updating, I have enjoyed following along and watching your progress.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: startingsmall 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.

Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: Neustache 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! 
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: Freedomin5 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: lhamo 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!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: Trifele on February 17, 2019, 03:40:09 AM
Congrats @startingsmall!  Great job.  :)  Thanks for the update.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: startingsmall 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: startingsmall 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: MrThatsDifferent 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!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: startingsmall 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: hops 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: lhamo 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. 
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: bacchi 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: red_pill 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: frugalfoothills 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: startingsmall 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!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: freya 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!
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: Slow&Steady 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: former player 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 2/16/19)
Post by: Slow&Steady 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.
Title: Re: Case study: Baby steps so I don't scare the hubby. (UPDATED 5/26/18)
Post by: civil4life 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.