Author Topic: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?  (Read 14379 times)

Norrie

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Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« on: October 05, 2013, 11:35:05 AM »
This is going to be long, but I tried to include any and all relevant information.

(tl;dr: husband is in a band for a living, and is 12 years older than me. No debt aside from small-ish mortgage, but almost no retirement and zero investments. Huge tax burden. Financial literacy is in the early stages. Iíd say that weíre in about third grade.)

Our special snowflake situation:

My husband is 49 years old, owns a recording studio, but also tours with two bands (which is our main source of income). Right now heís earning well, but the shows could dry up at any time, at which point heíd go back to earning about $45,000/year from running the studio. Heís only been at this higher income for the past 2.5 years. Right now we set aside 30% of all that he makes for taxes. Last year we owed the IRS and state more than my annual take home pay. Shoot me.

Iím 37, have my Masters degree in social work, and work 30 hours a week as a researcher at a state university. It does not pay well, but the benefits provide our family with much-needed health care benefits. My hours are likely to get cut down to 20/week fairly soon. I am still eligible for benefits at 20 hours, but I will have to pay a larger percentage of them (which means that my income will go down further than just from lack of hours).
Iím developing a side hustle with a friend, but have next to no idea if it will earn income.

Over the past three years, weíve paid off over $65,000 in debt, saved up an emergency fund that would cover 12 months of living expenses, and started Mr. Nís retirement account. We also bought my car brand spankiní new (I know, facepunch), but paid cash. We keep cars forever and run them into the ground.  Oh, and paid taxes. Lots and lots and lots of taxes.
Prior to this time, we were really struggling week to week. We lived below the poverty level so that our daughter would qualify for state Medicaid, which was desperately needed to save her life. We did this for six or seven years, and it was brutal. (Just to explain a bit of background and why weíre so fucked in so many areas.)

Places that we hemorrhage money that arenít up for reduction:

Our kids are 12 and nine years old, and go to a small, hippie, private school. Total tuition is $20,000 a year. It only goes through 8th grade, so our daughter will be there for 2.5 more years, and our son 5.5 more years. Theyíll both go to a public high school. (Right now we have exactly $0 saved up for college. Ack.)

I grew up in Australia, and aside from my parents and brother, my entire family still lives there. We fly over every other Christmas and spend a month with family. We start saving for the next trip pretty much as soon as we get home from the last one. Iím guessing that these trips cost about $13,000-15,000 each.

Places in which weíre pretty tight:

We donít shop for fun, we research most purchases to death, Mr. N and I are both fine with wearing Levis and free band t-shirts until they rot off our body, heís bald and doesnít require haircuts, I only get them once every five months, and our friend cuts the kidsí hair for free. We rarely drink, and Mr. N brings home tons of booze left over from their tour rider. We donít have expensive hobbies (unless you count going to Australia every other year). The mister gets his guitars, amps, strings, and picks free from sponsors. Oh, and free shoes from sponsors. All four of us get those. (And itís fine for me to go to work looking like a teenage boy, so I donít spend money on fancy work clothes.)
Our house is solid, though extremely dated, and has no pressing need for repairs. But goddamn, one day Iíd love to replace the bright yellow fake marble counters in the bathroom. Iím not going to lie, we have some ugly ass stuff up in here (circa 1967).

Places in which we deserve facepunching, or at least a little slap and tickle:

We blow through way too much money on food, both in groceries and in take out. We are total assholes about this, and know it.
Our utility bills can be reduced greatly. Working on this now.

Income (itís impossible to provide a monthly income, as dhís varies by thousands each month. I canít even average out years for you, as that changes drastically too):

This year should be around $150,000 combined. Previous years have been less.

Current monthly expenses (we are financial infants, so we do quite a bit of monthly expenses a la Dave Ramseyís cash envelopes. Donít hate):

Mortgage  $1048.99
Cable/Internet  $200? We just upped the service, because Mr. N was struggling to get the mixing and mastering projects uploaded. He works from home much of the time when not on tour, so much of this is a business expense
Phone  $110 Ė Mr. N's cell phone, which he uses almost exclusively to run his business
Utilities  $400 Ė water, trash, electric, and gas
Groceries  $500-600
Entertainment/dining out - $150
Medication  $100 Ė daughterís lung disease requires significant meds
Household  $80  - light bulbs, toilet paper
Car maintenance and tags  $40
Gifts  $20
Christmas  $45

Assets:

Mr. N retirement $29,000  - SEP IRA, starting to do 15% of all income
N retirement  $12,500
Cash  $19,000
Credit union savings  $75,000 - this includes our tax stash, upcoming tuition stash, savings for travel, and 12 months living expenses
Cars  $24,000?
Guitars/studio equipment Ė donít know, still waiting for my husband to total this up, but likely between $50,000-75,000
Jewelry  $6,500
House equity  $95,000 Ė conservative estimate

Debts/Liabilities:

House  $67,000  at 7.5% (our credit was TERRIBLE, and this was the best that we could do. Itís still dreadful, despite working on it and paying everything on time, so refinancing isnít an option. Weíre just paying it off ASAP, hopefully within 1.5 years)

Net worth: around $311,000

Specific questions:

We clearly have dreadful credit, which causes a 7.5% interest rate on our mortgage. Though we don't have a debt emergency, I feel like we have a mortgage emergency (followed by a retirement emergency, an investing emergency, and a kids' college emergency). Are we right to focus our attention on paying off the last $67,000 of mortgage?

Husband is almost 12 years older than me. I would like to retire by about 45 (just over seven years from now), if itís at all possible. Husband will likely never retire, as he has the greatest life ever. Iím struggling to figure out where to stash our money given the age difference, possibility of his main source of income slowing down or stopping entirely, etc.

We have not invested at all yet. I've been reading and researching, but am having a hard time figuring out what would be best for us. The age differences and unpredictability of income throws me off, and the whole thing just feels so damn overwhelming. I know that we need to just start somewhere, but where?

I know that we can be doing better at protecting ourselves from tax liability. Right now we write off the normal things associated with being self-employed, and stash bits of money in his SEP IRA. Iíd like to drastically reduce how much we send off to the IRS and state each year. Any ideas on where to start?

My apologies that this is so long. If you read the whole thing, you're a total champion. I promise that future posts will be much more concise.

Any recommendations, facepunches, hand-holding, mocking, or advice is very much appreciated.

(Edited to remove some identifying details)
« Last Edit: October 15, 2013, 10:08:14 AM by Norrie »

Peony

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2013, 11:46:48 AM »
What you'll pay in private school tuition over the next five years would pay off your house and then some.

madgeylou

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2013, 11:48:38 AM »
wow, you really do have a special snowflake situation. i don't have any face punches for you, but here's some things you could look at:

- i think by law you can put up to 25% of your mister's total income in the IRA each year. upping his contribution would let you protect some more of his earnings from the tax man.

- can you afford special private school for your kids? $20K/yr is a LOT of frickin money to spend on primary school, especially when you're wanting to save for college and haven't been able to yet. that's like almost $2K a month. how bad are your public schools?

- the australia trips are quite spendy, too -- you are basically spending $700/month on going to see your family. maybe it's worth that much to you? but there are probably ways to at least get that price down, like travel hacking, using rewards credit cards for all your spending (even the private school tuition if you can swing it!), and traveling at not such a peak time.

hoodedfalcon

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2013, 12:22:38 PM »
Eh...I have to just sort of geek out here and tell you that I grew up listening to your husband's band/s. Seriously in my top 5 of all time. :)

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #4 on: October 05, 2013, 12:30:29 PM »
Eh...I have to just sort of geek out here and tell you that I grew up listening to your husband's band/s. Seriously in my top 5 of all time. :)

Ha! I thought that I was keeping things nice and generic, and even went so far as to change my screen name, but your kung fu is stronger than mine. I grew up listening to them too, and like to geek out in the privacy of my car.

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #5 on: October 05, 2013, 12:34:57 PM »
What you'll pay in private school tuition over the next five years would pay off your house and then some.

Yeah, I know.  :(
Basically our daughter was brutally bullied last year, and the school did nothing to correct the situation aside from telling us that we need to teach her to toughen up and fight her own battles. This kid has battled to just breathe and stay healthy for the past 10 years, and she doesn't deserve or need any more struggle in her life.

So we yanked her out of school, intending to homeschool her. That was a terrible choice for her - she was miserable without school friends. So we found a small, private, totally safe school, and she has totally blossomed there. She calls her classmates her tribe, and is just so happy. She also has gone almost 1.5 years without hospitalization, which has never happened before. I think that some part of that is due to the school.

We committed to keeping her there, even if it means that we can't help with college. We moved our son over at the beginning of this year, because my husband is gone a fair amount, and it's not physically possible for me to get both kids to school on time otherwise. They're right down the street from work, and I can make it there in three minutes if our daughter has an emergency medical need.

So that's our justification, even though I know that it sounds weak. I promise that we're totally open-minded on every single thing other than leaving this school, and stopping the trips to Australia.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #6 on: October 05, 2013, 12:35:52 PM »



You know if you put something into a "we spend too much but it's non-negotiable category" you're still going to get asked why you're so firm on that, so let's get that out of the way first. ;)

If you're okay with your kids going to a public high school, why is elementary and middle school not an option? You'd be saving an additional $20K a year, that you could be putting into a college fund for them instead. Your kids could still do extremely well in public school and have you (the parents) supplement their extracurricular learning yourselves with outings to the museums, doing at-home experiments, discussions, art projects... (especially if your work hours are dropping soon). I shouldn't have to tell you that there are literally thousands upon thousands of successful and smart people out there that attended public school. And don't get me started on fancypants colleges. State colleges are awesome and sending them to a well-rated state college (after getting basic credit courses out of the way at community college) is a great option. If they want to go to a fancy college, they should earn the marks in high school to get a scholarship. And then again, college isn't an absolute. I know plenty of highly intelligent and successful folks that don't have a college education... it depends on the kid and where their talents and ambitions take them in the end.

You want to retire in 7 years, have a starter stache and make quite a bit of money, but have poor spending and saving habits and some debt. The retirement could be pretty difficult unless you're willing to change your mindset, and that does include understanding that nothing should be off-limits when it comes to stuff that are not needs. That is really great that you've paid off so much debt lately and I think maybe you're already getting to the point of switching things up to really get serious, so as long as you're okay with plain-speaking and not having an automatic "oh, we can't do that" reaction, you'll get some really good advice from the forum that should help you get to your goals.

Your total monthly bills add up to $2,793 - that is not including any payments towards the SEP or savings for your tuition/vacation funds. If you take that amount x 12 months, that means you're only paying out $33,500 a year. Add in the $20K for the tuition ($53,500) and the SEP/vacation funding, and there is still a large portion of income unaccounted for. You're not including things like car insurance, clothes and non-monthly expenses like repairs and other stuff, but even with that, there's still a big chunk missing. Where is the rest of your money going? Because that means there's over $50-70K+ unaccounted for. There's no way you could be spending that much or more on vacation and stuff you're not aware of, so where would it be going?

First thing, you need to start tracking your spending. Suggestions on this forum are usually for Mint or YNAB. Once you really start seeing where everything is going, it will be easier to see what you can stop doing and funnel more money into retirement and investments.

Why is your credit so horrible? Your interest rate on the mortgage is pretty shitty, so I have to figure you've got a bankruptcy or something in your backgrounds. The mortgage interest being that high, definitely you'd want to pay that sucker off sooner rather than later.

I'd say that you definitely need to get the money in/money out situation solidified, and then start questioning the tuition.

If it was me in the same situation, I'd use the tuition to fund the college savings, start a Traditional or Roth IRA for you and your husband both and max those each year, and start upping the SEP contribution as well... all the while hitting that mortgage with as much as I could throw at it each month. Once that mortgage was paid off (and any other debts), the extra money would go into a taxable investment account.

Peony

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #7 on: October 05, 2013, 12:37:42 PM »
Have you thought about paying for a consultation with a good CPA about tax planning? I'm guessing it could be a deductible business expense for your husband.

Frankies Girl

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #8 on: October 05, 2013, 12:41:54 PM »
And just saw why the private school is a need. That makes sense and I'd probably do the same in your situation, so definitely feel free to ignore my first post suggestions regarding the tuition. Just seems like trying to track down where the rest of the money is going is a "plan b."

Peony

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #9 on: October 05, 2013, 12:53:19 PM »
Re: the taxes, you don't say how *much* more than your take-home your husband pays, but $22,500 is only about 15% of $150,000. That's not actually an inordinately big bite, especially if we're talking both federal and state. If he pays a *lot* more than your take-home, that could be quite different. In any case, this is a matter for which I, personally, would seek a knowledgeable professional.

Peony

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #10 on: October 05, 2013, 01:00:32 PM »
Also, I get it about the school, especially for your daughter. But if you feel your son could do OK in public school, could you possibly pay a local mom or teenager to take him there and pick him up? If you paid $50-$100 a week for that service during the school year, it would still be much less that $10,000. (I'm not necessarily horribly opposed to the school, but just trying to think creatively.) When you're looking at 5 more years until HS for your boy, this could be a substantial savings.

Daleth

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #11 on: October 05, 2013, 01:25:09 PM »
Totally with you on the need for private school, especially since middle school is typically the worst for bullying--get them through 8th grade and whew! About college, think creatively. Get them on board with the need for scholarships (and feel free to explain, if they feel hard done by, that you spent their education money on private elementary/middle school bc that's when it was most needed). Be aware that your kids could go to college in Canada for far less than anything private or Ivy in the US, less than most public colleges actually, and have a cool international adventure. Or they could go in Australia, right? Much cheaper, I'm guessing, and a net way to bond with their extended family and explore their heritage.

Speaking of Australia, can you change the time of year to save significantly on tickets? If not, how about you go every 3 years instead of every two? Can't your family come visit you some years?

Left

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #12 on: October 05, 2013, 01:33:08 PM »
um... not sure this is possible... but could you work at the private school?
Not as a teacher but as an administrator or councilor? With the master in social work, I'd think there would be a way to swing that to them. Anyways I'm saying this because my friend's father worked at a private school (was a college though) and because of that he got discounted tuition going there. And since you think you'll lose hours/pay anyways, there's no reason why switching jobs wouldn't hurt either. Unless you don't want to be the "mom" that works where your kid is.

I'm still holding out hope that obamacare will free people from employer for their insurance. Might cost more, but being able to move around might be worth it.

not sure about the highschool you'll have them attend. I did the IB program for highschool. I got more in scholarships than tuition cost so I made money going to college. That aside though, it's also one of the few "american" public highschool diplomas that are accepted at overseas colleges (from what I've been told, so it should make attending one easier). This might not be something they'd want but it does open that path for them if they decide to.

edit: could you and Austrilian family meet in Hawaii? It's about half way and costs would be half. But then they would incur plane ticket cost... but well, they might not be opposed to it. Or see if they could offer to cover part of it for you if they dont want to meet halfway. I mean sure you are going to see family, but they are also seeing you so both parties benefit from you flying there. You're just the one doing the "leg work" to get there.

edit: I'd mention that if you didn't mind taking the entire summer, can you take that long from work?. Anyways I have an aunt that lived in Austrilia and I did this before in highschool. But it took the entire summer break but I took a cruise over to Australia (cost about half of the ticket to fly there). But since it took so long, I decided to just live there for the summer (and flew back since I didn't have time to sail back). Anyways, it was a bit odd being a single (not marital status) teenager on the cruise ship but they took care of me pretty well. Made sure I didn't get lost/etc (looked after a kid since I wasn't an adult type of thing). I'm not sure if cost is worth it enough to take that much time off from work for you. But it was pretty fun too, got to meet people since you're pretty much stuck together with them for a month.

edit: talking about australia, do they have a program where they sponsor kids of australian ex-pats to visit? My mother is Taiwanese and I've visited Taiwan before using this program where they paid for the flight/lodging/food for children so they can experience Taiwan. Their goal was to cultivate Taiwanese culture in the international community. I don't know about Australia, but might be worth a shot to ask.
« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 02:05:00 PM by eyem »

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #13 on: October 05, 2013, 02:12:57 PM »
Lots of great thoughts here. I appreciate all of them.

I realized that I wasn't too clear about the husband's income. This will be his first year of making $150,000, and it hasn't happened yet. The past two years have been more between $90,000-115,000.

And crap, there's a ton of spending that I didn't list. $150/mo in car insurance, which I'm working to reduce right now. I can hopefully get it around $90. Last year spent $20,000 in cash on my new car (VW Golf, not the fancy version). Year before spent $6,700 on boob reduction surgery for me. I have chronic migraines, and the hope was that having less weight pulling on my neck would help. Only minimally reduced the migraines, but heavens to Betsy, my boobs are cute and perky these days.
This spending was all pre-MMM, as I just found it a couple of weeks ago. Until then, we were using the Dave Ramsey plan, which seemed to be, if you're out of debt and have covered all of your shit, go for it. I may have interpreted it a bit more loosely than intended.

No foreclosure ever, but came super close. We've had liens due to taxes, every single thing (student loans, credit cards, old car loan, etc.) was defaulted upon, and we had tons and tons of medical debt in collections. It took a very long time to comb through all credit reports, track down who currently had which collection account, and pay them all off.
Our credit score hasn't really moved, as we paid off a car loan and student loan, have absolutely no credit cards, and live off of cash. The only thing that we really have is our mortgage, which is in my husband's name. I'm considering getting a secured credit card through our bank. Is that foolish?

The private school thing is a mixed bag. I hate shelling out the cash, but it's done incredible things for our kids and our entire family. We considered keeping our son in a public school setting, but he was starting to be bullied (the kid is nine and is literally the size of a five year old, has a quirky name, and is just sort of weird kid...I say that with pride, but it doesn't work out too well for school). We've made a lot of mistakes along the way in our lives, but this school is the first thing that dh and I both feel is one of the best decisions that we've ever made. Financially, not so much. Every other way, absolutely.
The public high school that they'll attend is an arts and science school, and the director is a very old friend of mine. The kids there are free to be weird without getting piled on, and the kids are strongly prepared for scholarships. We've already started talking to both of them about needing to find a strength and really develop it in order to apply for money for school. Our daughter has danced for 10 years and is already strongly involved in community volunteering. Our son has declared that he wants to skip college, just like his father, but we'll see about that. At nine he's already a solid drummer (like, he could almost be in a real band).

In terms of Australia, we couldn't meet in Hawaii, as there are just too many family members involved, and a couple are almost 100 and can't travel. But we definitely could push it back to every three years. I'm honestly not sure why we hadn't considered this before. My aunt and uncle actually arrive in Oklahoma on Monday, so they do come and visit as they can, but there are so many more.
We've always gone at Christmas, because I get a big chunk of time off work then, and it is only worth going if you're there for about 3.5 weeks, but if we go every three years, we could go during our summer/their winter. I'm going to price tickets to see the difference. I'm sure that it is well worth missing Christmas.
These are wonderful ideas, and I feel like a dolt for not considering them earlier.

Eyem, the school is tiny and not currently hiring, but I'll definitely keep an eye out for positions. I'd love to work there, and discounted tuition would really be worth it. I've also started considering switching jobs to see if I can find something corporate with a bigger paycheck. I LOVE my job and love my boss and coworkers, so it's painful to think about leaving, but my assessment and research skills are likely worth quite a bit more money.
I'm also considering asking a friend who runs a large marathon in town if she'll let me do some assessment for them for free this year. Perhaps I could start a consulting business? I don't know.

Super interesting about your high school experience. I'm going to read up about it. It seems like high school and college are so far off (because in my mind, our daughter is still four), but they are really looming. She's a great student, is driven, and very community-minded, so I think that it's likely that she'll get some scholarships, but we need to think about it a lot more.

You guys seriously rule. Thanks so much for the advice so far.

apennysaved

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #14 on: October 05, 2013, 02:46:57 PM »
I traveled to Australia once at Christmas time in 2006 and it was about $2500/per ticket before taxes & fees.  The other two times were in April 2007 & March 2012. Both were closer to $1700/per ticket before taxes & fees.  Coach tickets all 3 times.  I would definitely try to price watch.  I have flown twice on Qantas & once on United.  Virgin Atlantic can have some pretty good deals, too. I have seen advertisements for as low as $999-$1299 out of LAX for these 3 companies.  Also, I have found it cheaper to take Southwest Airlines to either LAX or Dallas before taking my international flight.  Definitely takes more effort, but have often been able to shave off a couple hundred bucks.  My sister married an Aussie, so she is much in the same boat as you as far as needing to travel over there, and helped me with some of her price saving strategies.

lhamo

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #15 on: October 05, 2013, 03:34:14 PM »
Definitely look into rewards cards -- especially if your DH has a lot of expenses to cover while on the road.  You could probably earn at least a couple of RT tickets in a 2-3 year period that way. 

You are underearning, but you know that.  Explore the options.  Consulting might be a good way to go.  Since you work part time and are near the school, could you possibly offer before/after school care as a way to bring in a little extra?  A couple of kids at $50/week would cover your food bill. 

Your mortgage interest is high, but the balance is low.  With your income you could knock that off in a couple of years if you are diligent about it.  That would free up $1000/month.  Seems like a goal worth striving for.

Why are your utilities so high?  $400/month seems insane to me.  Try to find ways to bring that down.  Electric bills can drop a lot if you condition yourself to tolerating lower/higher temps (see MMM's post on that somewhere in the archives -- it was focused on air conditioning.

As an expat, i get both the travel expense and the private school thing.  We typically make 2 trips back a year to see my family, and our private school bill is more than double yours.  Our mortgage is higher and our combined income slightly lower than yours.  We're still plowing about $15k/year into retirement and college savings, though, plus an extra $7200 via employer match.  I think you really need to track expenses in detail -- you can't plug a hole if you don't know where it is.

Welcome and good luck getting things into shape!  Glad your daughter's health has stabilized and that the school is working out for them.  Having just gone through a school change ourselves, I know how significant it is to find a place that "fits".


Self-employed-swami

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #16 on: October 05, 2013, 03:41:30 PM »
Eh...I have to just sort of geek out here and tell you that I grew up listening to your husband's band/s. Seriously in my top 5 of all time. :)

Ha! I thought that I was keeping things nice and generic, and even went so far as to change my screen name, but your kung fu is stronger than mine. I grew up listening to them too, and like to geek out in the privacy of my car.

And now I'm super curious what bands he plays in... ;)

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #17 on: October 05, 2013, 05:07:16 PM »
I seriously can't thank you guys enough.
After my self-righteous "these things are not are for debate" bullcrap, I've spent all day thinking about things that you guys have said. Yes, we'll still go to Australia, but instead of insisting that we go every other Christmas, I now see that we could go in the off-season if we go every three years instead. I was going to make big excuses about how my cousins can only get over to Perth during Christmas holidays, but then realized that their kids have a different school schedule that gives them three weeks off throughout the year. I bet that we can find a way to make that match up.

And I also realized that while I love my job, I can be doing a lot better financially. I've taken the first step to reach out and ask my friend if I can do some free assessment work for her this year (just to get my feet wet and see if I can pull it off well). Up until today, I really hadn't considered the idea of working for myself in this way.

Swami, unless you're a fan of old punk rock, you'd never have heard of them.  :)

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #18 on: October 05, 2013, 05:24:41 PM »
I used to be a radio DJ, so I would likely recognize the band. But I totally respect your choice to remain anonymous too.

Peony

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #19 on: October 05, 2013, 06:19:27 PM »
I also think $20K is a lot of money to have tied up in a car (even if there's no loan involved). Not only is your money locked into that depreciating asset, but it's expensive to insure, since the replacement cost would be high. Plus, a VW can be expensive to maintain. The Passat wagon I owned once upon a time nearly ran me into the ground (I now happily drive a 2006 Scion XB for which I only purchase liability insurance).

marty998

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #20 on: October 05, 2013, 07:24:00 PM »
I seriously can't thank you guys enough.
After my self-righteous "these things are not are for debate" bullcrap, I've spent all day thinking about things that you guys have said. Yes, we'll still go to Australia, but instead of insisting that we go every other Christmas, I now see that we could go in the off-season if we go every three years instead.

I might be biased, but nothing beats an Aussie summer, beer in one hand, BBQ tongs in the other, in a singlet  and thongs playing beach cricket. IMO worth the extra cost of paying peak prices :)

I love this thread for its uniqueness. Thankyou so much for posting.

I also think $20K is a lot of money to have tied up in a car (even if there's no loan involved). Not only is your money locked into that depreciating asset, but it's expensive to insure, since the replacement cost would be high. Plus, a VW can be expensive to maintain. The Passat wagon I owned once upon a time nearly ran me into the ground (I now happily drive a 2006 Scion XB for which I only purchase liability insurance).

For most of us we can get away with driving a proverbial shitbox, but I wonder if Norrie's husband will lose a lot of street cred for doing it too? I can see some future earning problems if a punk rocker is caught by the papparazzi driving an "uncool" car.

« Last Edit: October 05, 2013, 07:26:43 PM by marty998 »

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2013, 07:38:42 PM »
Oh god, Aussie summers. There is nothing like them. Seriously. Nothing in the world comes close for me.

The husband wouldn't lose any street cred driving a boring car. As it is, he drives a 2006 Pacifica, and my car replaced a 1996 Saturn station wagon (god bless that wonderful little car). I'll be the first to admit that I could have chosen a lesser car, and I'll somewhat sheepishly admit that when we bought it, I was having a case of the damnits, I have worked since I was 15 and went to school for eight years and want something nice to show for it. It is ridiculous, but I often am. Buying used is a bit tricky for our daughter's health, but we could have managed. We have to know with 100% assuredness that no pets were ever in the car, it was never smoked in (this is the easiest), and that there were no leaks/windows left down in rain that caused mold.

I'm in love with my little white car, perhaps to an unhealthy degree, but I'd be willing to part with it under the right circumstances. In that case, I'd probably like my husband to off-load some guitars too. He can only play one at a time, right?

StarryC

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #22 on: October 06, 2013, 12:20:18 AM »
On the car front, I know several people who only have one "kid friendly" car. 
Mostly, they had a baby and felt that babies could only be safely transported in new giant SUVs and any smaller, or car produced more than 12 months ago car would simply be to dangerous.  So, anyone taking the child, takes the giant SUV.  That is crazy.  But, your case sounds more legit.  Perhaps if your husband's car is sufficient, that becomes the "kid car,"  your car gets sold, and a replacement car is purchased for him.  You could try to find a pet and smoke free car, but it would be close to impossible to verify no animal has ever been in the car.  Perhaps add an extra $500 to have the car professionally steam cleaned/ dry cleaned whatever to reduce as much contamination as possible in case your daughter must be in that car for a brief time.

But, I'm not sure it's worth it.  Surely, your car is worth way less now than you paid.  As low as $14,000 or up to $16,000.  Then, when you buy a replacement car with a less than certain history and the potential for repairs and inconveniences to get back about $8,000.  Then, presumably you will have to replace that car in 5-7 years instead of 10-12 years.  The calculation you need is how much sooner could you retire if you had an additional $6-8,000 in investment accounts now and compare that to the enjoyment/ convenience you get from the car.  My guess is not that much sooner, and that the car is worth it to you.

Since there isn't an interest rate on it, comprehensive insurance due to a loan, or a super high gas bill, I'm not sure it's face punch worthy.   

limeandpepper

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2013, 03:06:05 AM »
I love this thread for its uniqueness. Thankyou so much for posting.

I agree!

I'd probably like my husband to off-load some guitars too. He can only play one at a time, right?

Let us know if you have any success in convincing him! My boyfriend is not a pro musician and it is still no easy feat trying to get him to sell off some of his instruments. :p

Aloysius_Poutine

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2013, 06:10:36 AM »
I'm racking my (bad) brains trying to figure out your husband's band! A hint?

If not, I totally respect and understand that.

edit: figured it out. All-around awesome!!! One of my favs.
« Last Edit: October 06, 2013, 06:15:41 AM by M523 »

Dee18

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2013, 10:25:33 AM »
So enjoyed your posts.  Sounds like the private school is totally worth it, for both kids.  I moved my daughter to a private school in 8th grade and she has blossomed there, so she will stay there even though it drives me crazy that her tuition is more than half our monthly expenses.  With a masters in social work is there a way to work as a counselor at the university?  Or perhaps when you go half time as a researcher to have a private counseling practice on the side?  I realize you may not, at this point, have some necessary training for that...just a thought. And you may not want to try it now, but perhaps plan for it in the future.   Also, does your university employment include free tuition for your children?  Mine does and the benefit continues even if I retire--worth checking out to ease your mind about college savings.

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #26 on: October 06, 2013, 08:06:56 PM »
Limeandpepper (great name!), he's actually open to the idea of selling at least one. At this point, I have no idea how many he has, and I probably don't want to know. There are a few that have a ton of sentimental value and will never go anywhere, but I also know that there are a few that could go without many tears. I'll let you know if it really happens though.

M523, I've proven to be terrible at anonymity. I'm going to give up on a career as a superhero. I listen to the Bad Brains on my way to particularly stressful days at work. I Against I helps get it all out.

Dee18, I've worked in direct practice before, but it's not a great fit for me. I thought that I'd love it, which is why I went for the Masters, but it turns out that the research side of things is way more my speed. I think that I can do some research work in other departments, but need to look into it more. Funding is often complicated. My university does't have free tuition benefits, which is super bogus. I'm not sure why they don't offer them, as it's a state school.

The husband and I went to the mall today to return some items bought pre-MMM, and ended up gaining $135 out of the deal. We moseyed around a bit and looked for Christmas ideas, but realized that we had no real interest, and booked it out of there.

I'm having a really good time reading old posts, both on the blog and on the forum. Lots of really interesting folks here!


Melody

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #27 on: October 07, 2013, 06:32:13 AM »
I'm a bit late to the party here to give advice as you look like you've already got some great ideas for other posters... but as a punk (and Perth girl) I just wanted to tip my head in and say hi and wish you and your family the best of luck on your journey!

The only thing that sprung out that hasn't really been fully explored is, if your kids are Australian citizens you may not need to stress about college. Tuition is about $7k per year (3 years not four). They should be able to fund this themselves and a basic lifestyle while working.  (For example the last job I had at  uni was in a bar, pay was $23/hour, working 20 hours (e.g. Fri and Sat night) after tax this would bring in $440/week, leaving $310 to live on if you were putting money aside for tuition each week. It would be tight but doable, especially with a little parental support for stuff like textbooks.

willn

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #28 on: October 07, 2013, 12:27:47 PM »
Just a few comments, based on the income and expenses listed it looks like you would come home after taxes and be able to save about 5K a month.  Based on your lifestyle, health expenses, and the income volatility I'd keep a big stache of cash, 6 months of expenses.

So that's 60K  left over. More if you can carve some budget items.  Put a quarter of that in college savings funds.  The rest into your 401K/Roth/retirement.

How about life insurance?  Didn't see that listed either.  Maybe shop for a 10yr term policy that pays for the house and college and a few years income replacement.  Shouldn't be too expensive.

Not sure my numbers are perfectly accurate, but you get the idea--when you look at money in yearly terms, it gives you the big strategic overview that monthly tactics need to accomplish....

I think, especially if you can get your income up, (doubling it wouldn't be hard--and gives you a buffer if your husbands income drops again) you'll be doing fantastic!  You are worth way more than 22K.  Loving your co-workers is important but so is change and growth and getting what you are worth.  I personally faced this after leaving a job I was comfortable in after 7 years...it was the best move I've ever made!

Re: investing, don't be intimidated. Read the blog post here by MMM that talks about Vanguard.  Really you'll be looking at index stock funds in IRA accounts, Roth and otherwise.  Not sure if Vanguard does college savings but there are 529 tax advantaged accounts you'll want to find for those.





« Last Edit: October 07, 2013, 12:35:16 PM by willn »

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2013, 05:50:42 PM »
Bumping to say holy shit, Batman. Encouraged by MMM's recent blog post, I decided to put a little work into Mint. I set it up years ago, but haven't really done much with it since. I've spent hours today, going through and categorizing things, adding accounts, etc.

The whole process has been extremely eye-opening, motivating, and a wee bit depressing. Okay, a lot depressing.
If you had asked my husband (or me) whether we spend a lot on shopping, but of us would have answered with a resounding "nope". Bullshit. Mint tells a different story. I was so sure that they were wrong that I went through and looked at every single transaction in the past 12 months, and goddamn.

I can't even talk about the restaurant or travel categories, because I'm too busy face punching myself. And medical expenses. I knew that we had a lot, but OMG.

I seriously don't think that I'll ever look at our finances the same way again. And so begins Operation Get Your Shit Together. Things that won't happen in the next year:

* travel, for any reason other than the husband going off to work
* continuing to pay $152 a month for car insurance
* cable TV (I really want to keep it through basketball season...wah!)
* clothes shopping unless it's for a child who has outgrown their stuff, or with a gift card received for Christmas or birthdays
* Starbucks (again, unless there's a gift card used)

We have $500 in cash budgeted for Christmas this year, and while it sounds like a lot, it's way, way less than we've spent in the past. We may even be able to stay well below that, if we're wise. We can certainly cut people from the list of people to buy for. Baked goods and a nice card will suffice.

I'm seriously sick over all of the waste. I thought that we were doing so well, because we were following Dave Ramsey's plan to a tee, and also putting aside tons for taxes, tuition, and extra mortgage payments. Well, it turns out that Dave isn't telling us to quit being consumeristic assholes, and apparently we need to be spoon fed this stuff.

Oof.

Self-employed-swami

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2013, 08:12:19 PM »
Hey, don't beat yourself up too much!  You are here, and you've realized what you have to do, so that puts you ahead of 99% of everyone else (Completely made-up statistic, but I'm sure it is close to true).

Be kind to yourself, and $500 for Christmas sounds reasonable.  Practical gifts are awesome, and you can make all kinds of things yourself.

Watchmaker

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #31 on: October 13, 2013, 08:45:13 PM »
I know exactly what you mean when you say looking at past spending makes you sick.  I just went through the same thing a couple months ago when I found MMM.  Remember that feeling--and use to it motivate yourself to track your spending and make sure nothing like that happens again.

lifejoy

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #32 on: October 14, 2013, 01:03:13 AM »
Quote
* travel, for any reason other than the husband going off to work
* continuing to pay $152 a month for car insurance
* cable TV (I really want to keep it through basketball season...wah!)
* clothes shopping unless it's for a child who has outgrown their stuff, or with a gift card received for Christmas or birthdays
* Starbucks (again, unless there's a gift card used)

We have $500 in cash budgeted for Christmas this year, and while it sounds like a lot, it's way, way less than we've spent in the past. We may even be able to stay well below that, if we're wise. We can certainly cut people from the list of people to buy for. Baked goods and a nice card will suffice.

Some thoughts for you:

-Missing baseball season would suck! Here's a thought: bring some homemade kettle corn (easy, cheap) to a friend's house and watch it at their house. Or swallow your pride and watch it at a bar while drinking water? Or a $0.75 cranberry juice? Get creative! Can you watch it online?

-Clothes shopping: I tell myself I can buy new clothes if I sell old ones (or old anything). Do you live in the US? Have you heard of Plato's Closet? They buy old trendy clothes that target a teen a young adult audience. Maybe that won't be relevant now, but keep it in mind. I also do clothing swaps with friends :) These are great fun, we turn it into a potluck, and we make it into a party!

-Starbucks. Oh man. I feel ya, but damn if it doesn't warrant a facepunch (sorry). My suggestion: NEVER go there. Make it not an option. Bring coffee from home, with you. Learn how to make better drinks for yourself. Use this: http://www.bodum.com/gb/en-us/shop/detail/1963-01/ if you need "steamed" milk. Go to starbucks once a year, on your birthday. Plan out the drink you want to buy, put that amount of money on a starbucks GC (For yourself). Then register it online and get a free drink on your birthday :)

Dave Ramsey is a great start but if we look at his house I think we'll see his philosophy is not very mustachian: http://www.coolsprings.com/news/dave-ramseys-house/

And lastly, good luck!!! If you were my mom, I'd be very proud :) Keep doin' what you're doin'!

(Side note: eating out tends to be very unhealthy, AND costly. Opt out whenever possible. Read books like Fast Food Nation and Salt, Sugar, and Fat.)

Dee18

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #33 on: October 14, 2013, 06:28:04 AM »
Checkout Apple TV.  I gave it to my daughter (one time purchase price of $ 99) and we now get espn.  Not sure if that would meet your sports viewing needs, but it has delighted my daughter, the college football fan.

theSchmett

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #34 on: October 14, 2013, 06:52:32 AM »
Somebody face punch me if this is illegal, but I feel like I've beard it somewhere.

Is there any chance you can work for the band or studio and thus somehow bring down taxes? I'm not putting work in quotes, you've got a masters and ostensibly some absorbed knowledge of the businesses... and of course in addition to your 30 hours a week. I have no idea how the math works or if I'm totally out of my skull here.

BTW I would have pulled my kid out too - but never let it out of my teeth if someone told me to toughen her up. I've heard from teacher wife that there is the potential for criminal negligence type charges if bullying isn't taken seriously. 

kkbmustang

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #35 on: October 14, 2013, 09:41:43 AM »

Dave Ramsey is a great start but if we look at his house I think we'll see his philosophy is not very mustachian: http://www.coolsprings.com/news/dave-ramseys-house/


OMG. That house is insane. Even if you can pay cash for it, who needs that much space? As far as I understand it, his kids are grown now so it would be for two people. And an average electricity bill of $1300/mo? Um, just, wow. I thought our electricity bill was high. (It is.)

To the OP - Keep being shocked by your former waste. We've all been there. It will motivate you to get better and smarter and more observant.  Mint is definitely eye opening.

Numbers Man

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #36 on: October 14, 2013, 09:49:40 AM »
It's amazing what you discover when you write stuff down. Keep up the good work. Knowing where you're at now makes it possible to get to where you want to be in the future.

Catbert

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #37 on: October 14, 2013, 01:14:16 PM »
You have enough in your cash accounts to pay-off the mortgage completely.  JUST DO IT!  Save that 7.5% interest.  Then I'd take the monthly mortgage amount and build that cash account back up.  MMM isn't big on keeping a lot in cash, but I completely understand the need when your major source of income is so variable.

I second (third?) the suggestion to spend time/money with a tax expert.

Watchmaker

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #38 on: October 14, 2013, 02:04:35 PM »
I'd second Mary's suggestion about paying off the mortgage.  Or at least calculate how much extra interest you are paying by paying the loan off over 1.5 years rather than right away--and then make the call.

I'd also second the suggestion above about selling the car for a cheap (reliable) car to free up some cash.

CopperTex

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #39 on: October 14, 2013, 02:31:11 PM »
I'm dying to know what band it is! I grew up on punk, played guitar in a punk band for 3 years, and am currently wearing a Rancid shirt.  Give me a hint!

Peony

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #40 on: October 14, 2013, 04:25:08 PM »
I agree with the idea of paying the mortgage off, then throwing the amount of those payments to the emergency fund.

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #41 on: October 14, 2013, 04:32:00 PM »
Ooh, hadn't thought of paying the house off. A big chunk of that cash is reserved for taxes, but once this damn risotto is finished, I'll see how we'd fare without it. God, I can't even imagine having the mortgage gone. CANNOT IMAGINE.

JPinDC

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #42 on: October 14, 2013, 04:40:35 PM »
If your husband works from home (not sure if the studio is there?), are you writing off expenses like internet, phone, a portion of the utilities?

oldtoyota

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #43 on: October 14, 2013, 08:05:03 PM »
I listened to your DH's music too. Nice. =-) I was part of the DC punk "scene." Ah, the combat boots and smelly sweaty bodies at small and dark clubs where luxury condominiums now sit.

Melody

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #44 on: October 15, 2013, 07:19:43 AM »
Hi, I wanted to chat more about how punk and mustachianism fit together but I didn't want to hijack Norrie's thread.
If any of you are keen to contribute http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/forum/welcome-to-the-forum/mustachianism-and-punk

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #45 on: October 15, 2013, 08:09:19 AM »
Oldtoyota, my husband lived in D.C. for a while before joining this band.  He really loved it (back in the early 80s...sounds like it has changed a lot).
Melody, great thread idea!

I'm a bit embarrassed about my super lame undercover skillz. I even worked on de-identifying as much as possible. I may go back and edit out details that could pertain to the entire band, since it's somewhat private information that they didn't share.

I also cringe at my pompous bullshittery about things being non-negotiable. Y'all (I live in OK, so I can say that without irony) have been super kind with the face punches, but I at least deserve a few for that. My apologies. It won't happen again.

lifejoy

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #46 on: October 15, 2013, 10:11:01 AM »
I also cringe at my pompous bullshittery about things being non-negotiable. Y'all (I live in OK, so I can say that without irony) have been super kind with the face punches, but I at least deserve a few for that. My apologies. It won't happen again.

It's all part of the process :) I can't believe how unnecessarily extravagant my bf and I were just 6 months ago! Welcome to facepunch land! But don't beat yourself up over it - just look back and feel proud that you now can see it for what it is.

You're on a good path!! Way to go :)

Gray Matter

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #47 on: October 15, 2013, 06:19:09 PM »
Hey Norrie:  I just wanted to stop by and thank you for your support in my journal.  I've enjoyed yours posts--this thread in particular has been a great diversion for me.  I love your approach to life, your self-awareness and openness.  Plus you just have an interesting life.

Norrie

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #48 on: October 15, 2013, 07:00:25 PM »
Thanks, Gray Matter! You've been on my mind a lot today, even though I know that it doesn't help in any useful way.

I realized that I accidentally missed responding to some posts. So sorry!

I got the name of a good CPA, and intend to call him tomorrow to set up a meeting. I definitely feel that we've come about as far as we can (aside from cutting back more spending) without some professional help.

Jamiedc: we definitely do write off all things that we can in terms of dh working from home. We legitimately do have a dedicated home office that is solely used for mixing, plus a full studio across town.

In talking to my aunt about coming over to visit in July instead of at Christmas, she pointed out that then we'd be able to get up to Broome and Exmouth, which we've always wanted to do, but haven't because it's hurricane season when we're usually there. She was really excited about the idea, and had a ton of great ideas. Unfortunately she thinks that we're going over NEXT July, when I was more thinking about 2015. Still need to have that conversation, but she'll understand.
It's funny that something that I was so dead set on keeping exactly the same (we must go to Australia only during Christmas) is actually turning out to be a really cool opportunity to see different parts of the country. Gee, it turns out that being a bit flexible won't kill me after all.

I've also started really thinking seriously about how I could work for the kids' school. It's teeny tiny, with no open positions, but a friend is on the board of directors. I'm going to ask him if I could do assessment work for them in exchange for a discount. Anything would be rad.

Oh, and I totally think that Dave Ramsey is a tool, and not just for having a ginormous house. He's a total blow hard. But he did save our asses when we were in incredible debt, and gave us little, easy to follow steps. Most people don't need that level of instruction, but we really did. We were still so shell-shocked from our daughter's lungs failing and my parents both having cancer at the same time that we just needed a set of instructions. But it makes me SO HAPPY to be able to swear here.

theSchmett: I hadn't even thought of the taxes/working for dh thing. The best part is that I DO work for him quite a bit. Thanks for that. I'll definitely as the CPA about it.

Dee18: we have AppleTV, and the kids love it. I still don't know how to use it, because the only time that I turn on the TV is to watch my beloved basketball. Have I mentioned that it's my main weakness? I don't drink, smoke, go out, have expensive hobbies, or do anything illegal. All I want to do is watch NBA in peace. I could watch some games on major network stations, but to get all of them I either need to buy LeaguePass or watch FoxSports. Ugh.
I feel like this is the moment of truth (well, this and my car). Am I really ready to walk the walk? MMM would face punch me over clinging to something so ridiculous. At first I was all, "we are totally getting rid of cable. Next spring. After basketball season". Now I feel like a giant jerk every time I think about it.

Good Lord, I can ramble.


StarryC

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Re: Case Study: Can a Professional Punk Ever Retire?
« Reply #49 on: October 15, 2013, 08:35:47 PM »
How is your TV antenna situation?  If it is good, and you can get local games on your broadcast TV, NBA League pass might be a good option.  $180 a year is cheaper than 2 months of cable, but "local market blackouts" happen.  You could look in to a VPN to try and solve that problem though.