Author Topic: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years  (Read 15913 times)

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #50 on: February 25, 2015, 03:16:42 PM »
I think you are coming at it from the wrong way. Instead of asking where to cut, I would decide what you have to spend, and decide how to spend that. You save 55%, you have some mandatory expenses, and then what is left? That is what you have to spend, now pick the priorities for that spending from the rest of those categories. But there isn't any more money to spend than that, so it's going to seem very tight at first. It will seem like you can't do it, yet people do it every day. Once you figure out how to live on that amount, it will slowly just become the new you. You might miss things for a while, and some things you might really miss for a long time, but you will reach your goal and you can find ways to enjoy life at the new spending level. But I think that is the way to make it work, not by deciding where to cut, but deciding where to spend.

This is a great idea.

Chrissy also had a ton of good advice especially since she lives in the area, I hope you take that to heart!

Other than that the things that hugely jumped out to me were the buying prepared foods and the $100/month on hair/nails/brows (oh and the Ubering but the Peapod idea sounds like it might alleviate that). OMG just no. I am a crazy spendy mcspenderpants (seriously I am barely mustachian) and I can't even imagine spending that much on that stuff!!

For the prepared foods, I don't have great advice on how to break the habit (although if you get your groceries delivered I guess that removes the temptation), but for the lady stuff... do you have a super high-maintenance haircut that needs to be touched up often? Could you think about trying a different hairstyle? I totally understand the appeal of a nice hair place, mine is $60+tip (facepunch I know) but my hair is such that I can get away with 2x a year. I absolutely love gel manicures and pedicures but they are a total volcano of wastefulness... I might splurge on one pedicure per year as a way to pamper myself before a race, and maybe ask for a gift certificate from my bf or parents as a birthday present so I get one other one. Brows, I also understand wanting a pro touchup once in a while but learn to deal with it yourself in between... 1-2 waxes a year isn't gonna break the bank but if you do it frequently they really add up!!

Oh yeah and that's a fuck ton of money to spend on travel if you are really trying to make this budget work. What kind of travel are you doing?

4alpacas

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #51 on: February 25, 2015, 03:32:12 PM »
Excellent catch as I totally did not list my 401k loan in here.  I revised my original post to include this expense of 628/month.  This will be paid off this June.  You can facepunch me for it but I promise I've learned my lesson!!

I really try not to do facepunches, but it's good you've learned not to do 401(k) loans! 

...I could consider a less expensive place in Chicago; but what amount am I shooting for here?  I think my biggest problem is I haven't put real numbers on what my budget categories 'have' to be...I've listed 'what they are'...but I think in order for me to get on a clear path to FI I need to know exactly what to reduce everything down to...

DISAGREE TO INFINITY, particularly with your last sentence!  Remember, the perfect is the enemy of the good

If you sit around and try to nail down your spending per month to the penny, you will sit around for weeks, months, or years feeling like your budget isn't precise enough - "where will I cut another $50 from?!?!"  It doesn't matter where you cut from.  Simply give yourself less money to spend, and you will automatically start spending LESS.  It doesn't have to be a precise amount less, and it doesn't have to come from a certain category you put a label on.

Don't worry about where you're spending too much right now; you have a ton of fat to cut.  Double your 401(k) contributions RIGHT NOW, and I promise you: you will suddenly find that you get along just fine with $270 less per month.  You might spend less on groceries.  You might go out to eat less.  You might find that you do dance lessons on a night of the week when classes are free or cheap.  You will find a way to do it.
+1

Think about making gradual cuts to get you to your goal.  Start with something easy and painless.  It will serve as motivation when the cuts get to things that you think are necessities.   

For example, I was spending $800/month on groceries and $400/month on bars/restaurants (for two people).  I started by cutting out ordering pizza by keeping a few frozen pizzas in our freezer.  Is it healthy?  No.  Did we stop spending $25 on a pizza delivery?  Yes.  Did it put me at my goal?  Nope.  The next month I focused on cutting back on packaged food, bulk cooking from scratch.  The month after that I focused on avoiding food waste.  Now we spend $250/month on groceries (includes toiletries, paper products, personal care products).  We're trying to spend under $100/month for restaurants. 

Good luck!

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #52 on: February 25, 2015, 03:33:57 PM »
I think you are coming at it from the wrong way. Instead of asking where to cut, I would decide what you have to spend, and decide how to spend that. You save 55%, you have some mandatory expenses, and then what is left? That is what you have to spend, now pick the priorities for that spending from the rest of those categories. But there isn't any more money to spend than that, so it's going to seem very tight at first. It will seem like you can't do it, yet people do it every day. Once you figure out how to live on that amount, it will slowly just become the new you. You might miss things for a while, and some things you might really miss for a long time, but you will reach your goal and you can find ways to enjoy life at the new spending level. But I think that is the way to make it work, not by deciding where to cut, but deciding where to spend.

This is a great idea.

Chrissy also had a ton of good advice especially since she lives in the area, I hope you take that to heart!

Other than that the things that hugely jumped out to me were the buying prepared foods and the $100/month on hair/nails/brows (oh and the Ubering but the Peapod idea sounds like it might alleviate that). OMG just no. I am a crazy spendy mcspenderpants (seriously I am barely mustachian) and I can't even imagine spending that much on that stuff!!

For the prepared foods, I don't have great advice on how to break the habit (although if you get your groceries delivered I guess that removes the temptation), but for the lady stuff... do you have a super high-maintenance haircut that needs to be touched up often? Could you think about trying a different hairstyle? I totally understand the appeal of a nice hair place, mine is $60+tip (facepunch I know) but my hair is such that I can get away with 2x a year. I absolutely love gel manicures and pedicures but they are a total volcano of wastefulness... I might splurge on one pedicure per year as a way to pamper myself before a race, and maybe ask for a gift certificate from my bf or parents as a birthday present so I get one other one. Brows, I also understand wanting a pro touchup once in a while but learn to deal with it yourself in between... 1-2 waxes a year isn't gonna break the bank but if you do it frequently they really add up!!

Oh yeah and that's a fuck ton of money to spend on travel if you are really trying to make this budget work. What kind of travel are you doing?

I only get my hair cut once a year.  But I'm an African American female that wears my hair natural so getting it straightened costs $70 without a tip.  I haven't paid less than $60 to get my hair pressed anywhere since going natural 14 years ago and trust me I've been to lots of salons.  The process would take me 4 hours at home.  And it only lasts 2 weeks or so...if I work out lot like right now it's even less.  Anyways, to alleviate the cost 'most' of the time my isn't straightened from the salon; it's usually pulled all the way back in a natural bun and that's it.  I'm averaging the hair, nails, brows thing out over the course of a year and this is my best guess on how much those things add up to.  There are months I don't get my hair pressed or nails done at all.  Then there are months where I may go on a trip and have to present at work and end up getting all of these things done twice that month.  So it may be a little overstated but not by a whole lot. 

So....in regards to the travel, I don't usually do what I consider to be a whole lot.  Last year I traveled to SC and VA back to back (twice) for two funerals and I went to Miami in both October and December.

This year, I plan to go to St. Martin for 4 days in June, Puerto Rico or Mexico 5 days in September, and for 2 more trips...probably a weekend in Miami or Atlanta, and home to SC (or wherever my mom would like to go) in December.  This will be the most I've ever traveled in one year.  However, I have traveled internationally recently for my job and accumulated miles so I will get to use them for probably 2 of the trips....
« Last Edit: February 25, 2015, 03:36:59 PM by EconDiva »

mozar

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #53 on: February 25, 2015, 08:35:43 PM »
I'm an African American female with natural hair as well. Check out https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenBeautyChannel for hair care tips that are actually helpful. I hear you on wanting to look professional by getting your hair pressed. What kind of people do you work with? Liberal? Conservative? What do other women of color do with their hair? My workplace is pretty liberal and are aware that they could be accused of discrimination if they express a problem with natural hair. I see afros, braids, etc getting more popular in the workplace. I have a short afro myself. And I don't change my hair for trips around the country when I am interacting with clients.

Can you get a roommate for your swanky 2 bedroom?

For working out I bought this and put it in my home: http://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-98516-Easy-Up-Manual-Treadmill/dp/B000NPXWMU

I've decided not to do personal travel (except weddings and funerals) until FIRE because I want to retire that badly. I make similar income to you.
Moving up north to make more money isn't helpful if you are spending it all.

daymare

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #54 on: February 25, 2015, 10:07:52 PM »
Your attitude about spending is confusing me.  You say you want to know how much to cut every spending category to be FI in 15 years.  Well, why do you want to be FI?  What do you value?  I think you will be more successful with cutting spending if you start by re-framing your goals and needs.  The beauty with spending consciously is you realize that you don't need to spend a lot to be happy.  And it's a gradual process - you start by eliminating some wasteful habit, then you realize life is still good and you don't feel any worse, then you feel more comfortable applying that to other areas, questioning, not doing something just because others do, and not caring.

Congrats on upping your 401k to 10%!!  My suggestion: start tracking all your expenses.  Sign up on mint.com (or personal capital) and go through every evening, or once or twice a week, and move all of your expenses into a spreadsheet, breaking spending out by categories.  This will be eye-opening and you'll see how much you actually spend on everything.

Rent: 1010
You said above that you have a 2 bedroom!!  That's totally crazy for 1 person, why not get a roommate?
Internet (mandatory for work purposes): 50
Can you get this lower?  What about using http://www.chicagocheapinternet.com/ to find a cheaper option, then calling your provider to cancel and switch, and getting a lower rate from them as they do what they need to to keep you as a customer?
Utility: Gas 60
Utility: Electric: 80
What can you do about your utilities?  Can you call your provider and have them do an energy audit? My husband and I pay about $20 for electricity.  Do you make sure to turn off lights in rooms you're not using?  To you keep appliances unplugged?  Can you talk to your neighbors and see how your bills compare?  Can you put up insulation for your windows?
Cell: 50
Switch to an MVNO (look it up on wikipedia - I have a Verizon MVNO called Page Plus Cellular, my phone (iphone 4s) costs $33 every month, and there's no contract.  You can do even better depending on your needs.  How much data do you need since you have wifi at home and work?  Why not try disabling data on your phone to curtail random facebooking etc and see how much data you don't need?
Train (mandatory): 185.25   
Food (including restaurants): 400
You can do so much better.  If you're not a confident cook, talk to your friends who like cooking and ask for some of their easy or in-a-time-crunch recipes.  Are you happy to eat the same thing for dinner multiple times if it's food you like? Try bulk-cooking so you have several meals (like http://www.budgetbytes.com/2013/05/italian-wonderpot/), and keep snacks handy for times you're hangry (granola bars, hard-boiled eggs, veggies + hummus, etc).
Student loans (mandatory): 300   
Travel:  300
Are you doing the bare-minimum work like getting credit cards with bonuses?  Check out Barclay Arrival Plus and Chase Sapphire Preferred- they have promotions like spending 3k in 4 months and getting 50K points.  If you spend that anyway, it's an easy way to save tons of money on flights.
Gifts: 100
Who are you buying for?  That's a lot of money - are you doing this because you love to, or because it's a habit you never questioned?  Talk to friends/family you gift for, see if they might not prefer something experiential (that can be inexpensive) like getting gourmet coffee then going for a walk, or coming over to your place for some wine and conversation.
Lady stuff (hair, nails, brows): 100
Hmm.  Plugging your own eyebrows is really easy (and I actually have come to really enjoy it).  Buy some nice tweezers and a magnifying mirror, and you're good basically forever.
Uber rides/cta transit rides: 150
Going out (play/concert/museum/movie/bar/dance class/etc.): 100
I'm sure the default among your friends might be going out for dinner or for drinks, so be proactive about the inexpensive things you can do - people will probably be amenable to a change in plans as long as it doesn't require effort of them.  There are lots of things in Chicago - http://www.timeout.com/chicago/kids/activities/free-museum-days.  Also, consider hosting  your friends at your apt - a box of wine and some baked potatoes and garlic sour cream sauce (or cheese and crackers) are all you need if you've got the awesome people.  This will be a lot cheaper than going out, especially if other friends take turns hosting.
Gym: 50
Do you actually go?  Check out some groupons for short-term memberships, or where you pay $X for Y visits.  Figure out what kind of exercise you can do at home - I personally do crunches and have a pair of 8lb dumbbells.  I'm sadly really inactive in the winter when it's cold, but come fall/spring/summer, I'm all about running outside, which is totally free and doesn't require any gym membership.
Clothes: 102.03
I too love clothes and looking good.  But you need to cut this out - eating well and exercising and being fit is what will make you look good, not clothes.  Spend an evening going through your closet (fun music and glass of wine go well with this), go through all your clothes and figure out what you don't wear/don't like/feels uncomfortable, and donate all that.  With the rest of the clothes, try on different outfits and combinations, and remember how many awesome things you have to wear.  Unsubscribe from all the store emails - they'll just make you want to shop.  And stop using shopping as a recreational activity - stay out of stores and you'll shop less.  Some of this will depend on your personality - I am totally fine not shopping, but of course whenever I do go into a store I have all sorts of desires to buy cute dresses, etc, again.  So I pretty much don't shop, buy necessities from Amazon, and when I look at stuff for fun (like a new hiking backpack), I put it on my wishlist and don't buy.  The key is if I really want something or need something, I get it, I don't deny myself.  I just spend consciously and generally that means when I'm thoughtful I buy less.

Good luck!

Ynari

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #55 on: February 25, 2015, 10:59:38 PM »
I'm going to try to tackle the Chicago-specific stuff.  You can discard this when and if you decide to move away from Chicago, but you're really spending a pretty penny for your chosen arrangement up here.

Rent in Chicago shouldn't be over $700/mo for one person.  It CAN be, sure, but if you can't find a decent living space for less, you're not looking hard enough.  I've lived within an hour (Hyde Park, Logan Square) CTA/Metra ride from the Loop for a few years, and an apt with a roommate or two usually costs $500-$600.  For a while there I was paying $425, and it was a nice place along the Blue Line (3 roommates + me, but with a huge kitchen which I adored).  I biked to work in the loop every day because it was so close.

Why do you pay so much for the Metra AND CTA AND Uber???  You live WAYYYY too far away from your work if you are paying for a $185 metra pass, plus still finding yourself needing the CTA and Uber that much.  You should live close enough where your monthly pass for work is around $100, and extra transit on top of that should not really be more than $50/mo.  And then get a bike so you don't have to take transit so much.

Food in Chicago can be expensive (I spend $250/mo, but I'm a hippie who likes organic stuff. Trader Joe's helps with some items but it is not the cheapest for everything. I buy a lot online and a lot of cheap staples at asian grocery stores), but $400 is too much, wow.  Lower that immediately to $300, and then see if you can tidy up any more in the future.

Start buying thrift-store clothing.  There are lots of great thrift stores in Chicago, but online is great too. (liketwice.com/tFIOz is a great site for quality used clothing.)

JustTrying

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #56 on: February 25, 2015, 11:31:38 PM »
I do agree with others who are asking you to consider finding a lower cost place to live closer to work. I can personally tell you: For the first time in my life, I live walking distance to work, and it is AMAZING. Not having a commute significantly improved my quality of life!

As a woman, I also challenge you to consider your expense on beauty stuff. Lots of beauty can be DIY! I took the plunge into cutting my own hair over a year ago, and I'll never go back! (And my hair is actually kind of cute - I get compliments). I've done blunt bangs, layers, whatever. The key is to buy good scissors, and watch a lot of Youtube videos first. And also remember that if you mess up, you'll just have to go pay for a professional to cut your hair, which is where you'd be if you didn't cut your own hair anyways! I will admit that my hair is long (below my shoulders). I think it would be harder to do a nice-looking short haircut on oneself.

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #57 on: February 26, 2015, 08:22:12 AM »
Excellent catch as I totally did not list my 401k loan in here.  I revised my original post to include this expense of 628/month.  This will be paid off this June.  You can facepunch me for it but I promise I've learned my lesson!!

I really try not to do facepunches, but it's good you've learned not to do 401(k) loans! 

...I could consider a less expensive place in Chicago; but what amount am I shooting for here?  I think my biggest problem is I haven't put real numbers on what my budget categories 'have' to be...I've listed 'what they are'...but I think in order for me to get on a clear path to FI I need to know exactly what to reduce everything down to...

DISAGREE TO INFINITY, particularly with your last sentence!  Remember, the perfect is the enemy of the good

If you sit around and try to nail down your spending per month to the penny, you will sit around for weeks, months, or years feeling like your budget isn't precise enough - "where will I cut another $50 from?!?!"  It doesn't matter where you cut from.  Simply give yourself less money to spend, and you will automatically start spending LESS.  It doesn't have to be a precise amount less, and it doesn't have to come from a certain category you put a label on.

Don't worry about where you're spending too much right now; you have a ton of fat to cut.  Double your 401(k) contributions RIGHT NOW, and I promise you: you will suddenly find that you get along just fine with $270 less per month.  You might spend less on groceries.  You might go out to eat less.  You might find that you do dance lessons on a night of the week when classes are free or cheap.  You will find a way to do it.
+1

Think about making gradual cuts to get you to your goal.  Start with something easy and painless.  It will serve as motivation when the cuts get to things that you think are necessities.   

For example, I was spending $800/month on groceries and $400/month on bars/restaurants (for two people).  I started by cutting out ordering pizza by keeping a few frozen pizzas in our freezer.  Is it healthy?  No.  Did we stop spending $25 on a pizza delivery?  Yes.  Did it put me at my goal?  Nope.  The next month I focused on cutting back on packaged food, bulk cooking from scratch.  The month after that I focused on avoiding food waste.  Now we spend $250/month on groceries (includes toiletries, paper products, personal care products).  We're trying to spend under $100/month for restaurants. 

Good luck!

Wow, that's a big change...How long did it take you to get to spending the $250/month on groceries?

Congrats on making such huge strides...I am taking everything in that everyone has written and do understand this will be a gradual process.  I know that habits aren't broken easily and will take time and constant adjusting.  Just dreaming of the day I reach my goal...sigh...

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #58 on: February 26, 2015, 08:32:22 AM »
I just wanted to say thank you to everyone for all of their input/comments/suggestions/encouragement thus far.  I am going to frequently be re-reading everything everyone has posted and continues to post in this thread for a long time to come.  I really do appreciate all of the help.

It's obvious that I need to gradually cut my discretionary categories wayyyyyy way down.  I will start using Mint to help with tracking the spending in these buckets (I've had Mint for a long time just haven't bothered using it in years :/). 

I must say that the hardest choice many have suggested is the moving part (moving closer to my job).  As mentioned earlier I'm 6 months into a 2 year lease and have moved on average every 1.5 years for over a decade now so I guess the thought of moving again is a little overwhelming.  I've also changed jobs that frequently.  Not saying I'm not considering it, I just am not sure about where to start even thinking about it.  I moved to Chicago to be close to the city and all it has to offer so the thought of moving to Lake Bluff, Illinois is scary because I'm 99% sure I won't like it.  And if I don't stay at my current job 1, 2, 3 years or however long down the line it won't be pretty having to orchestrate another job and housing move back into the city of Chicago where all of the jobs are. 

I just don't know if moving closer to my job is the answer...?  It seems my other option if I stay in Chicago is get a roommate or two.  My current place has 1 bathroom which means I'd be sharing it with someone.  Or, I still move out but stay in the Chicago area and rent a room.  Or lastly...a roommate in a 2Br/2Ba.  I'm trying to wrap my head around what are my best options here in terms of decreasing my spend on housing.  The only other option I could think of is renting my room on airbnb...if I could pull in $200 or so monthly doing that I'd 'think' it may be worth staying put...at least until my lease is up.

Thoughts?  It seems most people are pushing that I move closer to work.  I do dream of how much better I'd feel having a under-15-minute commute.  An hour and a half in this weather and snow right now had me dreaming of moving back to the south this morning! 


ioseftavi

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #59 on: February 26, 2015, 08:37:21 AM »
I started by cutting out ordering pizza by keeping a few frozen pizzas in our freezer.  Is it healthy?  No.  Did we stop spending $25 on a pizza delivery?  Yes.  Did it put me at my goal?  Nope.  The next month I focused on cutting back on packaged food, bulk cooking from scratch.  The month after that I focused on avoiding food waste.  Now we spend $250/month on groceries (includes toiletries, paper products, personal care products).  We're trying to spend under $100/month for restaurants. 

Good luck!

Wow, that's a big change...How long did it take you to get to spending the $250/month on groceries?

Congrats on making such huge strides...I am taking everything in that everyone has written and do understand this will be a gradual process.  I know that habits aren't broken easily and will take time and constant adjusting.  Just dreaming of the day I reach my goal...sigh...

4alpacas example (working on her food budget) is extremely true-to-life, in my experience.  You'll notice she didn't start by writing out what she was going to spend on food, to the penny.  She didn't immediately jump from $800 to $250.  And she didn't get to a certain point and say "OK, I'm done, that's it."  She's still working on it.

That's what it's all about - pick a category.  Figure out a way to spend less.  Once you've made it your "new normal", re-examine it.  If further change doesn't scare you or feel impossible, see if there's another way to reduce costs, and tackle that next.

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #60 on: February 26, 2015, 08:49:12 AM »
I'm an African American female with natural hair as well. Check out https://www.youtube.com/user/GreenBeautyChannel for hair care tips that are actually helpful. I hear you on wanting to look professional by getting your hair pressed. What kind of people do you work with? Liberal? Conservative? What do other women of color do with their hair? My workplace is pretty liberal and are aware that they could be accused of discrimination if they express a problem with natural hair. I see afros, braids, etc getting more popular in the workplace. I have a short afro myself. And I don't change my hair for trips around the country when I am interacting with clients.

Can you get a roommate for your swanky 2 bedroom?

For working out I bought this and put it in my home: http://www.amazon.com/Phoenix-98516-Easy-Up-Manual-Treadmill/dp/B000NPXWMU

I've decided not to do personal travel (except weddings and funerals) until FIRE because I want to retire that badly. I make similar income to you.
Moving up north to make more money isn't helpful if you are spending it all.

Nice to meet another 'natural Mustachian' :)

Thanks for the youtube link!  I will definitely check it out.  To answer your question, to be completely honest I do think I'm in more of a liberal environment.  I have seen natural styles, short fros, braids and locs at my job.  Now, there aren't a ton of black females where I work by any means at all, but out of the ones I've seen around only 2 I've noticed with regularly straightened hair-one of which is wearing a lacefront.  Anyways, you know how we can be when it comes to hair and I pretty much have a 'do you' sentiment about it. When I first went natural I wore braids and my then my own hair in twists for...years.  Nowadays its a bun or straightened...guess I'm kinda boring lol.  Those 2 things are pretty damn quick and easy to either do (bun) or have done (press). 

In regards to the roommate suggestion, please see my post directly above this one...I'm tossing it around but haven't decided the best option for tackling the housing cost yet.  That's crazy the link you posted because I was just looking at one of those manual treadmills!  Do you like it?  The main reason I didn't buy it is because I wasn't sure where to put it...if I turn my empty 2nd bedroom into a guest room I wouldn't want it in there, and there's no room in my bedroom or anywhere else really.  My place is nice on the inside but it's small...not really a 'true 2 bedroom' in my person opinion.  In other words, the 2nd bedroom could only comfortably fit a twin bed if you wanted to be able to walk around the perimeter of the bed without being squished up against a wall.

Just curious, how much time do you have until FIRE?  Do you miss traveling?  I have to admit that this is the first time in my life where I've made enough money to go on a trip or 2 a year, and I love traveling so I guess I've been in the mode of thinking "I deserve" when its obviously a luxury and maybe I need to cut that out completely too?  I was kindof surprised more people didn't zero in on that and simply say 'no traveling' for now...

When you said "Moving up north to make more money isn't helpful if you are spending it all."  I really needed to hear that and it really resonated with me last night.  Before I moved here I had a friend who told me my move didn't make sense because I wasn't getting paid enough to move.  In other words, she was arguing that moving from Atlanta to Chicago to go from 45k to 55k was unwise because of the higher COL in Chicago.  Honestly, I am paying 1010 rent here when I was paying 700 rent there so there's truth to it.  My mid term goal, as mentioned in an earlier post is to move back to the South but only once I've gotten enough experience here to demand a similar salary there...I wanted to move back to Atlanta or another southern city where the cost of living is lower once I feel confident I can demand at least 80K moving back.  I think I've let my costs rise moving here and that's not good...even though Atlanta is less expensive on the COL scale I feel I can still live at about the same cost I was paying in Atlanta when I left there about 3 years ago.  It will require adjustments, but I believe it can be done........

yandz

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #61 on: February 26, 2015, 08:52:51 AM »
You know...from following this thread, my impression is that you love where you live and as a city dweller myself,  I have a hard time encouraging you to move the 'burbs. I love that my area is walkable and close to everything I need - work, groceries, fun, etc.  I would encouraging you to find a new job in Chicago proper - close to where you live or where you want to live. Moving house seems "easier" because you have more direct control over it.  But frankly, changing jobs sounds like an option to me.  You mentioned you have been advancing in your career and gaining skills to get into the role you want.  Without knowing exactly what you do, I will just say that people tend to stay in jobs "too long" during phases of rapid career growth. When you are acquiring marketable skills at a fast rate, you don't need to stay in that position for 4-5 years. 1-2 years (so long as you are on resume building projects and managing your work as such) is often enough to land you a new job.  throughout my 20s, I have changed jobs every 1.5-2 years - each time a strategic move and step up.  In that time I more than doubled my salary (44k out of college; 96k now + ~17% bonus and equity in a fast growing company. ETA: "now" is me at 29/yrs old).  For me this meant working my butt off but also working 5 jobs in 9 years. I never would have progressed as I have if I had stayed longer at each company.  Now I am in a career phase that will likely mean staying longer in my current role.  I am blabbering now, but I will just say - don't discount a job change and look closer to where you want to live.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2015, 08:59:24 AM by yandz »

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #62 on: February 26, 2015, 08:58:40 AM »
Your attitude about spending is confusing me.  You say you want to know how much to cut every spending category to be FI in 15 years.  Well, why do you want to be FI?  What do you value?  I think you will be more successful with cutting spending if you start by re-framing your goals and needs.  The beauty with spending consciously is you realize that you don't need to spend a lot to be happy.  And it's a gradual process - you start by eliminating some wasteful habit, then you realize life is still good and you don't feel any worse, then you feel more comfortable applying that to other areas, questioning, not doing something just because others do, and not caring.

Great questions...and even better suggestions!  Thank you very much; I will be continuing to look back on everything you've noted in every category of your original posting.

In regards to your question, why do I want to be FI, here are the reasons:

-I don't like working a job much at all.  I want to be free from the obligation to report to a job every day.  I want to choose if/when to work and for long, and I don't like the feeling of 'needing' a job to support myself...it feels 'unstable' so to speak.
-I want more time to myself.  I'm a dreamer.  A creative thinker.  A photographer.  I'm basically an introverted (INFP) artist at heart working in a fast paced corporate type environment and I don't want to be doing that when I'm 60.  For one, I won't be able to maintain this speed of work until that age.  For another, I am sure to be seen as less valuable the older I get once I hit 50ish or so.  I want to be able to have time to do things I enjoy which are mostly leisurely things.  And I don't want to be too old with little time left to enjoy those things.
-I had a few family members pass last year and I'm realizing every day that we are not promised tomorrow.  I moved away from all of my friends and family and the only thing I have 'going' for me so to speak right now...is my job.  My mother will be 57 this year and if I can FI earlier than planned, maybe I'll have more time to spend with her in her old age, like I wish I would have had to spend with my grandfather who passed last year.  Again, it comes down to giving myself time back.  Wanting to have more time with my mom is part of the reason I've justified traveling more...either for her to see me, me to see her, or for us to take a trip together 1-2 times a year.  That's pretty costly.  Now, my mom is in the process of foreclosure down in the south and not doing too well financially for herself (she's been out of work for 3 years) so that's an entirely different story altogether.
-I don't want to end up like some people I've seen.  I don't want a mortgage at 65.  I don't want to only have 100K in the bank at 59.  I want to feel more secure than that. 

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #63 on: February 26, 2015, 09:25:18 AM »
Sticking out your lease would make some sense if you can find a roommate for the 2nd bedroom.  You'd still be paying too much in train costs, IMO, but the amount you spend on rent is the bigger issue.  Roommates are easiest found through networks (any alumni from a high school or college in the area? Any friends-of-coworkers looking for a place to stay?) but craigslist can also work out. I've personally never found bathrooms to be an issue (I've dealt with 4 people to 1 bathroom before, but I prefer a more relaxed 2 to 1 ratio), but I'm usually out of the house for most of the day (as well as my roommates, who have been similar full-time professionals or students), so the biggest concern is usually shower scheduling.  (Sorry if this is too individual to be helpful, though. I try to remember that just because I am OK with something, it doesn't mean other people are. I don't mean to be dismissive of your needs, just remember that having a private bathroom is costing you $500/month!)

Another option is subletting your apartment out for the remainder of the lease (most leases allow some form of sublet, but you should check).  Then you can move somewhere closer to work.  (Or, as Yandz said, try to find a job in the city proper!  But Lake Bluff is really far away to be living in Chicago itself.)

I know moving isn't fun, but it can be really worth it. I personally downsized enough such that all of my stuff (if I pack it efficiently) fits in a Ford Transit Connect I rent from Zipcar (It's actually a really big car). It then costs about $40 to move within Chicago (plus finding a willing friend to help me move the boxes).  Even if you need double that for two trips, that's little compared to the $300-500/month you could be saving finding a new place. 

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #64 on: February 26, 2015, 09:33:08 AM »
You know...from following this thread, my impression is that you love where you live and as a city dweller myself,  I have a hard time encouraging you to move the 'burbs. I love that my area is walkable and close to everything I need - work, groceries, fun, etc.  I would encouraging you to find a new job in Chicago proper - close to where you live or where you want to live. Moving house seems "easier" because you have more direct control over it.  But frankly, changing jobs sounds like an option to me.  You mentioned you have been advancing in your career and gaining skills to get into the role you want.  Without knowing exactly what you do, I will just say that people tend to stay in jobs "too long" during phases of rapid career growth. When you are acquiring marketable skills at a fast rate, you don't need to stay in that position for 4-5 years. 1-2 years (so long as you are on resume building projects and managing your work as such) is often enough to land you a new job.  throughout my 20s, I have changed jobs every 1.5-2 years - each time a strategic move and step up.  In that time I more than doubled my salary (44k out of college; 96k now + ~17% bonus and equity in a fast growing company. ETA: "now" is me at 29/yrs old).  For me this meant working my butt off but also working 5 jobs in 9 years. I never would have progressed as I have if I had stayed longer at each company.  Now I am in a career phase that will likely mean staying longer in my current role.  I am blabbering now, but I will just say - don't discount a job change and look closer to where you want to live.

Not blabbering at all...this is very important information.  Just curious to know what industry you're in if you don't mind sharing?

The thing is, I'd been looking to work at this type of company for...I don't know...5-6 years.  Now that I'm here I'm hesitant to only give it 1-2 years because I like my team, the salary, and the learning environment.  You are reminding me not to become too complacent, and I appreciate that.  I think my best way to approach this is to 'look and see what's out there'.  I admit I'm not that open to looking right now because I 'worked so hard to finally make it here'.  But it doesn't hurt to see if I can do better.  For me, my current job 'is better'...it's the 'best its ever been for me so far'...so the pay/environment/etc. has balanced out the horrific commute.  It's one of those places that, in my industry, in this city, is kinda where everyone wants to be.  The kinda place when you leave people say...why would you leave X company?  The fact I'm supposed to get a work from home day soon is kindof like a 'dangling carrot' in that I'm just drooling to get it as soon as possible for some sort of relief from this commute situation.

As you can see, the issue is I like the job itself enough to not want to leave and the city itself enough to not want to move.... :/
« Last Edit: February 26, 2015, 09:39:16 AM by EconDiva »

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #65 on: February 26, 2015, 09:51:11 AM »
Lake Bluff has an apt now on Craigslist that has a gym in it in the 925 monthly range.  I'd hang out in my spare time commuting on Craigslist and see if I could get a lower rent/cut the commute/lose the train fees apt.  And then I'd go into Chicago on the occasional weekend to socialize/enjoy the big city enviro.  I moved lots of times when I was younger and renting...always to save $$s.

On the job front, if you want to make bigger money so you can move back closer to family in the future, when was the last time you had a convo w/your manager or the HR dept about what it would take for you to move up?  Doing any continuing education?


EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #66 on: February 26, 2015, 10:15:07 AM »
Hi:

I'm going to zero in on your food bill because cooking is my favorite mustachian thing.

First consider your sourcing.  A lot of people here love Aldi's.  We don't have them in my state but we do have Grocery Outlet which is excellent.  Got lucky there yesterday and arrived just as they were marking things down.  Came home with 20 lb. of assorted cheese (keeps for months in the fridge) for less than $40.00.  Every trip is not like that but I love it when it is.  Other good sources include ethnic grocery stores and small fruit markets

1.  Congratulations on making your own breakfast wrap.  Are you making these in bulk and freezing them or are you making them one at a time an frequently throwing out leftover bits of fresh vegetable that get mushy.  If the former, bravo; if the latter, you have something to work on

2.  Turkey jerky from Trader Joe's.  Does it have to be protein?  If so consider a boiled egg or a small piece of cheese bought on sale and cut yourself.  Even a slice of homemade meatloaf would probably be cheaper per gram of protein.  If not, the sky is the limit on stuff you make yourself.  If it needs to be something you keep in a desk drawer take a look around the above grocery stores and find something cheap that keeps well.  I keep the Hub's desk drawer full of Odwalla Bars from Grocery Outlet.  I think I calculated the cost of the last bunch at 18 cents/bar.

3.  Baked chicken and brussels sprouts from the grocery store deli.  I assume you were craving something hot.  If you don't have a place to warm food that you bring from home it's time to think about a good thermos.  If you do have a place to warm up food at work, you know what to do.

4.  Tacos.  Sounds pretty good, just watch for wasted vegies

5.  Almonds and apple slices.  Almonds from anywhere are fairly pricey.  Are you getting enough pleasure from them to slow down your retirement for?  If so continue, if not consider making popcorn.  Apple slices, what happened to the rest of the apple?

 

I am going to try Aldi's...there is one off of the train line not too far away from me.  I did read an article this morning about some horse meat scare they had 2 years ago though??? Apparently horse meat was found in meat they were claiming was 100% beef....anyways, I digress :/  My neighborhood is one of the most diverse ones in Chicago...there are also tons of ethnic grocers so I will check those out and also look into if any local 'markets' will be opening up once warmer weather hits.

Wraps-I've only been making them 2 at a time.  I can do better with this and start making them in bulk and freezing.  I'm usually good with the vegetables; I try to use all of them up before they go bad.  I have a habit of not buying too many when I do grocery shop.

Turkey jerkey-it doesn't have to be protein but I find protein filling and I'm trying to go low carb right now.  Thanks for the suggestions...I keep Lara Bars in my desk but have also done Odwalla ones too :)

Baked chicken/brussel sprouts-These come from a place called Food Ease that mostly consists of a buffet line of 'healthy foods', along with a few produce items and pre-packaged 'healthy snacks'.  Its my weakness.  I wasn't craving something hot that day so to speak, I was just being plain lazy.  I'd been going there and buying pre-cooked meals for lunch/dinner (facepunch time, I know!).

Apples/almonds-Fruits are the worse for me.  I end up never eating all that I buy.  I need to watch this closer.  If I buy a whole apple, I never eat the whole thing.  I end up buying sliced apples in a bag, which are more expensive.  But at least I usually eat all of those.  Almonds...another luxury.  I can quit those.  But one bag usually lasts me three months (I keep it in my drawer at work and snack when I'm hungry to keep from buying something in the office).....

yandz

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #67 on: February 26, 2015, 10:34:46 AM »
You know...from following this thread, my impression is that you love where you live and as a city dweller myself,  I have a hard time encouraging you to move the 'burbs. I love that my area is walkable and close to everything I need - work, groceries, fun, etc.  I would encouraging you to find a new job in Chicago proper - close to where you live or where you want to live. Moving house seems "easier" because you have more direct control over it.  But frankly, changing jobs sounds like an option to me.  You mentioned you have been advancing in your career and gaining skills to get into the role you want.  Without knowing exactly what you do, I will just say that people tend to stay in jobs "too long" during phases of rapid career growth. When you are acquiring marketable skills at a fast rate, you don't need to stay in that position for 4-5 years. 1-2 years (so long as you are on resume building projects and managing your work as such) is often enough to land you a new job.  throughout my 20s, I have changed jobs every 1.5-2 years - each time a strategic move and step up.  In that time I more than doubled my salary (44k out of college; 96k now + ~17% bonus and equity in a fast growing company. ETA: "now" is me at 29/yrs old).  For me this meant working my butt off but also working 5 jobs in 9 years. I never would have progressed as I have if I had stayed longer at each company.  Now I am in a career phase that will likely mean staying longer in my current role.  I am blabbering now, but I will just say - don't discount a job change and look closer to where you want to live.

Not blabbering at all...this is very important information.  Just curious to know what industry you're in if you don't mind sharing?

The thing is, I'd been looking to work at this type of company for...I don't know...5-6 years.  Now that I'm here I'm hesitant to only give it 1-2 years because I like my team, the salary, and the learning environment.  You are reminding me not to become too complacent, and I appreciate that.  I think my best way to approach this is to 'look and see what's out there'.  I admit I'm not that open to looking right now because I 'worked so hard to finally make it here'.  But it doesn't hurt to see if I can do better.  For me, my current place 'is better'...it's the 'best its ever been for me so far'...so the pay/environment/etc. has balanced out the horrific commute.  The fact I'm supposed to get a work from home day soon is kindof like a 'dangling carrot' in that I'm just drooling to get it as soon as possible for some sort of relief from this commute situation.

As you can see, the issue is I like the job itself enough to not want to leave and the city itself enough to not want to move.... :/
The details of my situation is a little different, but I also have a job I love with a horrible commute.  I know this flies in the face of everything mustachian, but I'm not going to change it.  I have a very specific skillset.  I have my dream job.  I'm highly paid.  My situation isn't optimal, but I'm okay with it. 

Set your personal goals and go for it.  Don't worry about whether or not it's mustachian. If city living and a job in the suburbs is what you want, then find a way to make it work while hitting your financial goals.

Yeah, this is good advice. I have worked at some miserable places and being somewhere you love is so worth it (whatever "it" is). I just remembered you saying you need to stay a couple years to get marketable skills and if THAT were the only reason, I would say hunt. Getting the skills is important; waiting some arbitrary period of time is not.  But it sounds like you truly love it.  That is a different thing.  To answer your question, I am a product manager for a medical device company. I need to hang out "at this level" now for a bit before going for a director type position. I hope to be FIRE before that happens ;)

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #68 on: February 26, 2015, 10:42:33 AM »
You know...from following this thread, my impression is that you love where you live and as a city dweller myself,  I have a hard time encouraging you to move the 'burbs. I love that my area is walkable and close to everything I need - work, groceries, fun, etc.  I would encouraging you to find a new job in Chicago proper - close to where you live or where you want to live. Moving house seems "easier" because you have more direct control over it.  But frankly, changing jobs sounds like an option to me.  You mentioned you have been advancing in your career and gaining skills to get into the role you want.  Without knowing exactly what you do, I will just say that people tend to stay in jobs "too long" during phases of rapid career growth. When you are acquiring marketable skills at a fast rate, you don't need to stay in that position for 4-5 years. 1-2 years (so long as you are on resume building projects and managing your work as such) is often enough to land you a new job.  throughout my 20s, I have changed jobs every 1.5-2 years - each time a strategic move and step up.  In that time I more than doubled my salary (44k out of college; 96k now + ~17% bonus and equity in a fast growing company. ETA: "now" is me at 29/yrs old).  For me this meant working my butt off but also working 5 jobs in 9 years. I never would have progressed as I have if I had stayed longer at each company.  Now I am in a career phase that will likely mean staying longer in my current role.  I am blabbering now, but I will just say - don't discount a job change and look closer to where you want to live.

Not blabbering at all...this is very important information.  Just curious to know what industry you're in if you don't mind sharing?

The thing is, I'd been looking to work at this type of company for...I don't know...5-6 years.  Now that I'm here I'm hesitant to only give it 1-2 years because I like my team, the salary, and the learning environment.  You are reminding me not to become too complacent, and I appreciate that.  I think my best way to approach this is to 'look and see what's out there'.  I admit I'm not that open to looking right now because I 'worked so hard to finally make it here'.  But it doesn't hurt to see if I can do better.  For me, my current place 'is better'...it's the 'best its ever been for me so far'...so the pay/environment/etc. has balanced out the horrific commute.  The fact I'm supposed to get a work from home day soon is kindof like a 'dangling carrot' in that I'm just drooling to get it as soon as possible for some sort of relief from this commute situation.

As you can see, the issue is I like the job itself enough to not want to leave and the city itself enough to not want to move.... :/
The details of my situation is a little different, but I also have a job I love with a horrible commute.  I know this flies in the face of everything mustachian, but I'm not going to change it.  I have a very specific skillset.  I have my dream job.  I'm highly paid.  My situation isn't optimal, but I'm okay with it. 

Set your personal goals and go for it.  Don't worry about whether or not it's mustachian. If city living and a job in the suburbs is what you want, then find a way to make it work while hitting your financial goals.

Yeah, this is good advice. I have worked at some miserable places and being somewhere you love is so worth it (whatever "it" is). I just remembered you saying you need to stay a couple years to get marketable skills and if THAT were the only reason, I would say hunt. Getting the skills is important; waiting some arbitrary period of time is not.  But it sounds like you truly love it.  That is a different thing.  To answer your question, I am a product manager for a medical device company. I need to hang out "at this level" now for a bit before going for a director type position. I hope to be FIRE before that happens ;)

I do have to clarify...I don't like working all that much, so I don't 'love' my job by any means :)  I don't expect to ever love any job actually...just not in my personality.  But instead, I 'like it enough' in that it fits the goals I wanted to reach for salary and the needed learning experiences *for now*.

Nice job you have there :)  I was looking at those types of positions at one point...pay seems great.  Rather, I come from a clinical research coordinator role (in the hospital setting) and am now doing clinical trials research for a biopharma company.  My role is just a step below a Clinical Trial Project Manager. 

4alpacas

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #69 on: February 26, 2015, 10:44:57 AM »
Hi:

I'm going to zero in on your food bill because cooking is my favorite mustachian thing.

First consider your sourcing.  A lot of people here love Aldi's.  We don't have them in my state but we do have Grocery Outlet which is excellent.  Got lucky there yesterday and arrived just as they were marking things down.  Came home with 20 lb. of assorted cheese (keeps for months in the fridge) for less than $40.00.  Every trip is not like that but I love it when it is.  Other good sources include ethnic grocery stores and small fruit markets

1.  Congratulations on making your own breakfast wrap.  Are you making these in bulk and freezing them or are you making them one at a time an frequently throwing out leftover bits of fresh vegetable that get mushy.  If the former, bravo; if the latter, you have something to work on

2.  Turkey jerky from Trader Joe's.  Does it have to be protein?  If so consider a boiled egg or a small piece of cheese bought on sale and cut yourself.  Even a slice of homemade meatloaf would probably be cheaper per gram of protein.  If not, the sky is the limit on stuff you make yourself.  If it needs to be something you keep in a desk drawer take a look around the above grocery stores and find something cheap that keeps well.  I keep the Hub's desk drawer full of Odwalla Bars from Grocery Outlet.  I think I calculated the cost of the last bunch at 18 cents/bar.

3.  Baked chicken and brussels sprouts from the grocery store deli.  I assume you were craving something hot.  If you don't have a place to warm food that you bring from home it's time to think about a good thermos.  If you do have a place to warm up food at work, you know what to do.

4.  Tacos.  Sounds pretty good, just watch for wasted vegies

5.  Almonds and apple slices.  Almonds from anywhere are fairly pricey.  Are you getting enough pleasure from them to slow down your retirement for?  If so continue, if not consider making popcorn.  Apple slices, what happened to the rest of the apple?

 

I am going to try Aldi's...there is one off of the train line not too far away from me.  I did read an article this morning about some horse meat scare they had 2 years ago though??? Apparently horse meat was found in meat they were claiming was 100% beef....anyways, I digress :/  My neighborhood is one of the most diverse ones in Chicago...there are also tons of ethnic grocers so I will check those out and also look into if any local 'markets' will be opening up once warmer weather hits.

Wraps-I've only been making them 2 at a time.  I can do better with this and start making them in bulk and freezing.  I'm usually good with the vegetables; I try to use all of them up before they go bad.  I have a habit of not buying too many when I do grocery shop.
Bulk cooking is the best!  I try to make at least one recipe a weekend, and I freeze individual portions.  It makes packing lunch easy, and I get the variety I crave. 
Quote
Turkey jerkey-it doesn't have to be protein but I find protein filling and I'm trying to go low carb right now.  Thanks for the suggestions...I keep Lara Bars in my desk but have also done Odwalla ones too :)
I'm a HUGE fan of hard boiled eggs as a snack.  I'm wasteful and just eat the whites, but I eat about 2/day.  I make a dozen at a time.
Quote
Baked chicken/brussel sprouts-These come from a place called Food Ease that mostly consists of a buffet line of 'healthy foods', along with a few produce items and pre-packaged 'healthy snacks'.  Its my weakness.  I wasn't craving something hot that day so to speak, I was just being plain lazy.  I'd been going there and buying pre-cooked meals for lunch/dinner (facepunch time, I know!).
Avoiding take-out was difficult for me too.  The bulk cooking made it so much easier to eat at home.  My trigger was being tired.  When I realized it was faster to just eat something already prepared at home (rather than going someplace to pick up something), I really cut back on eating out.
Quote
Apples/almonds-Fruits are the worse for me.  I end up never eating all that I buy.  I need to watch this closer.  If I buy a whole apple, I never eat the whole thing.  I end up buying sliced apples in a bag, which are more expensive.  But at least I usually eat all of those.  Almonds...another luxury.  I can quit those.  But one bag usually lasts me three months (I keep it in my drawer at work and snack when I'm hungry to keep from buying something in the office).....
Why not cut up the apples yourself when you buy them?  I went through a similar struggle.  Apple slices are so convenient.  I keep a knife at work, so I can slice it up while I'm eating it. 

yandz

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #70 on: February 26, 2015, 10:46:08 AM »
Well...if you feel like coming further north, Minneapolis metro area is the mecca of med device so there is lots of opportunity. But that requires both moving AND changing jobs ;)

ETA: it is actually a super great place to live if you don't think about the winter. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/the-miracle-of-minneapolis/384975/
« Last Edit: February 26, 2015, 10:48:39 AM by yandz »

mozar

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #71 on: February 26, 2015, 03:36:06 PM »
I'm sorry to hear about the foreclosure. My dad's house foreclosed in 2014. It was a good thing for him (IMO) because he can finally start getting his finances together.

I like the treadmill. It took me a month to learn to use it. It's about 3 times as hard as a regular treadmill. You have to move yourself forward, make the belt turn, and keep your balance at the same time. I keep it against the wall in my living room and people don't even notice it when they walk in.
If it is OK with your landlord I think you should get a roommate. You can put in your craigslist ad that you are looking for someone who will participate in cleaning. That helped me weed some people out when I was looking for a roommate.

On travel I say do the trips this year to get it out of your system, then stop. I love travel too and I did some slow travel for a few months five years ago. Feeling like you should go on trips because you have more money is what we call "lifestyle inflation" around here. It's tough to give up what society says we should have because we deserve it. But frugality is a muscle that you have to keep building. Try reading "the millionaire next door." It's about how people think they are wealthy because they spend lots of money. But people who are truly wealthy get there by not spending on status symbols.
My FIRE date could be as soon as 8 years from now, depending on a lot of factors.
Remember that you are doing fine for a "normal" person, but we want to see you get to the next level.

caseyzee

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #72 on: February 27, 2015, 10:31:46 AM »
I know you've gotten a lot of great advice and it's hard to put yourself out there for all the MMM world to see.  Good job.

The one thing I wanted to pipe up on was tracking your money.  It really sounds like the monthly expenses you've listed are a bit of a guess, and that you perhaps don't really have a handle on it?  I could be wrong!  But with so much leakage between declared expenses and income, I think you really need to track and look much closer to where every dollar is going.

I get the high grocery spending and the prepared foods thing.  I'm busy and if a grocery store isn't between work and home, I'm just not going.  The only exception for me is Costco, I go monthly or so, but it's not far for me, just not on the way to work.  So I shop at TJs and WF, although I try to limit it, I have a list, and I had to give up sesame honey cashews because they were just too expensive - and carby, dammit.  One thing that could work for you there is weekend cooking with meal planning.  Make a couple great meals on the weekend and freeze them in individual portions.  In a few weeks time, you could really have some good meals, with variety, sitting right in your freezer waiting for you to thaw for breakfast or dinner, or pop in your bag for lunch.

Good luck.

GregO

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #73 on: February 27, 2015, 12:45:55 PM »
Have you read MMM article about commuting(http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/10/06/the-true-cost-of-commuting/)?

I know it isn't what you want to hear, but that is definitely the biggest way to cut your spending.  As long as you didn't get an expensive car, it would almost assuredly save you a lot of money.  And it would be guaranteed to save you a lot of time, which definitely translates to money (either through savings or working a side job).

Maybe reading the article will give you a fresh perspective on the commute.

MashedBanana

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #74 on: February 28, 2015, 03:13:57 PM »
Not sure if this has been suggested yet as I haven't read all the comments.

Buy a few nail polishes in the colours you love and do your own nails.

Shave your legs rather than posing for someone to wax them. (And lady parts)

Dye your own hair instead of paying for it. Especially if you're brunette!!!! I gather that it's harder to dye your own hair blonde.

Pluck your own eyebrows.

If you grow your hair long than you should only need to get a cut once a year unless it grows ridiculously fast.

Cut back on clothes and shoe shopping. Set small challenges for yourself for a start, see if you can go for a month without buying any new pieces, put together a new combination of clothes. purge old items that you don't wear you could still them online and use the money to buy fabric dye to breathe life into your favourite blazer that's faded.

Zamboni

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #75 on: February 28, 2015, 06:34:35 PM »
Great job on bumping the 401k!

I've noticed that all of your trips are to warm places.  Heck, I live in the South, and I'm still thinking about tropical vacations when Dec hits.  Completely understandable.

Given all you have written, it seems like you should work on getting a roommate for now but also seriously look for jobs back in Atlanta.  Think about it this way: you've got 18 months left on your current lease to find something in GA, and you can break the lease if you find something great!

You won't feel the need to spend so much on travel once you are back there.  Your housing costs will be lower, your commuting time will be much less, and you'll be back with friends and family. You CAN command what you are earning (or even more!) in Atlanta I think.  You are extremely articulate and bright.  Many employers pay a huge range for the same position, and they tend to pay what people ask for upon hire.  So, since you seem to be doubting that you can be paid what you are making now when you move back south, try to pick up a book at the library called Ask For It: How Women Can Use Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.  This book changed my life, and you have plenty of time to read on the train :-)  Then make a long list of what you want at your current job and from a future job and make it happen!  Good luck!

myrax

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #76 on: March 01, 2015, 10:26:26 AM »
Play around with optimizing your commute and rent with the Walkscore Apartment Finder page or Padmapper. You can set up constraints like "90 minute max commute by transit" and "grocery store within 15 min walk" and generate a map of where you can live. There are also apartment ads, but you can easily just screenshot the map and then look on any rental site for a place that fits within the blue lines.



Howdy, fellow Chicagoan!  $1010 isn't bad for North Chicago.  I'm paying $1035, and I'm off the same Metra line as you.  There are killer rent deals to be had in Rogers Park, and the neighborhood is improving quickly.  Seems to me you'd want to be off one of the Evanston stops or Wilmette, though your rent might actually go UP.

See if you can find a place without gas. 

What's going on with your electricity?  Mine is $35-$40/mo.  Put everything on surge protectors and turn it all off when you leave.  Your internet, tv, phone and toothbrush chargers are sucking $40/mo away from you when you're not home.

Ubering to get groceries home is damn 'spensive!  I have a delivery pass to Peapod which runs me $69 for 6 mo ($11.50/mo).  Check it out.

See if you can move closer to work and NOT get a car.  Is there an area within 2 mi of work with a gym and grocery?  If so, move there, and come in to Chicago on the weekends on the Metra.  You're kinda living this way already, sounds like, except you spend 3 hours commuting everyday!  (Is this right?  Or do you sometimes work from home?)  I would totally trade 15 hrs/wk of commuting to work for 6 hrs/wk of commuting to fun.

Phone.  I switched from AT&T ($67 w/ employer discount) to Airvoice ($30/mo).  Brought a free phone from my sister.  Got to keep my number.  No problem.

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #77 on: March 01, 2015, 11:09:54 AM »
Your attitude about spending is confusing me.  You say you want to know how much to cut every spending category to be FI in 15 years.  Well, why do you want to be FI?  What do you value?  I think you will be more successful with cutting spending if you start by re-framing your goals and needs.  The beauty with spending consciously is you realize that you don't need to spend a lot to be happy.  And it's a gradual process - you start by eliminating some wasteful habit, then you realize life is still good and you don't feel any worse, then you feel more comfortable applying that to other areas, questioning, not doing something just because others do, and not caring.

Great questions...and even better suggestions!  Thank you very much; I will be continuing to look back on everything you've noted in every category of your original posting.

In regards to your question, why do I want to be FI, here are the reasons:

-I don't like working a job much at all.  I want to be free from the obligation to report to a job every day.  I want to choose if/when to work and for long, and I don't like the feeling of 'needing' a job to support myself...it feels 'unstable' so to speak.
-I want more time to myself.  I'm a dreamer.  A creative thinker.  A photographer.  I'm basically an introverted (INFP) artist at heart working in a fast paced corporate type environment and I don't want to be doing that when I'm 60.  For one, I won't be able to maintain this speed of work until that age.  For another, I am sure to be seen as less valuable the older I get once I hit 50ish or so.  I want to be able to have time to do things I enjoy which are mostly leisurely things.  And I don't want to be too old with little time left to enjoy those things.
-I had a few family members pass last year and I'm realizing every day that we are not promised tomorrow.  I moved away from all of my friends and family and the only thing I have 'going' for me so to speak right now...is my job.  My mother will be 57 this year and if I can FI earlier than planned, maybe I'll have more time to spend with her in her old age, like I wish I would have had to spend with my grandfather who passed last year.  Again, it comes down to giving myself time back.  Wanting to have more time with my mom is part of the reason I've justified traveling more...either for her to see me, me to see her, or for us to take a trip together 1-2 times a year.  That's pretty costly.  Now, my mom is in the process of foreclosure down in the south and not doing too well financially for herself (she's been out of work for 3 years) so that's an entirely different story altogether.
-I don't want to end up like some people I've seen.  I don't want a mortgage at 65.  I don't want to only have 100K in the bank at 59.  I want to feel more secure than that.

It sounds to me like you're starting to question the basic reasons you went to Chicago in the first place. If so, maybe start thinking seriously about going back South? Keep negotiating different positions until you have a salary you like, and then see if they'll pay a relocation bonus. Best of luck to you.

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #78 on: March 01, 2015, 11:21:28 AM »
Not sure if this has been suggested yet as I haven't read all the comments.

Buy a few nail polishes in the colours you love and do your own nails.

Shave your legs rather than posing for someone to wax them. (And lady parts)

Dye your own hair instead of paying for it. Especially if you're brunette!!!! I gather that it's harder to dye your own hair blonde.

Pluck your own eyebrows.

If you grow your hair long than you should only need to get a cut once a year unless it grows ridiculously fast.

Cut back on clothes and shoe shopping. Set small challenges for yourself for a start, see if you can go for a month without buying any new pieces, put together a new combination of clothes. purge old items that you don't wear you could still them online and use the money to buy fabric dye to breathe life into your favourite blazer that's faded.

I have a small polish collection so I'm good to go there and will just reconsider getting them done next time I'm feeling an itch for a mani/pedi. 

I only wax if I'm going on a beach trip somewhere...otherwise I do Veet creams and such.  Brows are much harder...I do pluck them in between threadings and usually get them threaded every other month for about $12.  My hair is past my shoulders so I do wear it pulled back in a bun most of the time which means I 'could' go many months without a salon visit if I chose not to get it straightened.

Clothes/shoes-my biggest problem right now.  Thanks for the tips...this is the best area for me to focus on at the moment by having some type of 'no spending' challenge for myself....

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #79 on: March 01, 2015, 11:22:57 AM »
Lake Bluff has an apt now on Craigslist that has a gym in it in the 925 monthly range.  I'd hang out in my spare time commuting on Craigslist and see if I could get a lower rent/cut the commute/lose the train fees apt.  And then I'd go into Chicago on the occasional weekend to socialize/enjoy the big city enviro.  I moved lots of times when I was younger and renting...always to save $$s.

On the job front, if you want to make bigger money so you can move back closer to family in the future, when was the last time you had a convo w/your manager or the HR dept about what it would take for you to move up?  Doing any continuing education?

I've only been at my current job for 1 year.  But I just had my first review and it went well, so if all continues to go well I 'may' be looking at a promotion the very end of the year/beginning of next year. 

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #80 on: March 01, 2015, 11:24:17 AM »
Well...if you feel like coming further north, Minneapolis metro area is the mecca of med device so there is lots of opportunity. But that requires both moving AND changing jobs ;)

ETA: it is actually a super great place to live if you don't think about the winter. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/03/the-miracle-of-minneapolis/384975/

I've heard great things about Minneapolis.  If I end up needing to move again in the near future for job purposes I would consider it.

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #81 on: March 01, 2015, 11:43:20 AM »
Great job on bumping the 401k!

I've noticed that all of your trips are to warm places.  Heck, I live in the South, and I'm still thinking about tropical vacations when Dec hits.  Completely understandable.

Given all you have written, it seems like you should work on getting a roommate for now but also seriously look for jobs back in Atlanta.  Think about it this way: you've got 18 months left on your current lease to find something in GA, and you can break the lease if you find something great!

You won't feel the need to spend so much on travel once you are back there.  Your housing costs will be lower, your commuting time will be much less, and you'll be back with friends and family. You CAN command what you are earning (or even more!) in Atlanta I think.  You are extremely articulate and bright.  Many employers pay a huge range for the same position, and they tend to pay what people ask for upon hire.  So, since you seem to be doubting that you can be paid what you are making now when you move back south, try to pick up a book at the library called Ask For It: How Women Can Use Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.  This book changed my life, and you have plenty of time to read on the train :-)  Then make a long list of what you want at your current job and from a future job and make it happen!  Good luck!

Thanks for the encouragement.  I do believe that since moving to Chicago I feel compelled to travel more to 'get away', especially when it is cold.  But also because sometimes the travel includes seeing people I've moved away from.  Until this thread I hadn't considered moving back any sooner.  I'd just been so focused on the fact I 'finally got this good job' that I'm fearful to 'rock the boat' and try moving to another job...yet again. 

My concern about finding another position where I can command the same salary is moreso centered around the industry I work in.  I work for a Pharma company and that industry is not as big in Atlanta, hence the pool of positions I could apply for are much much lower.  Re-reading back through this thread, though, I must admit I'm thinking about this now.  I thought I would try to get a remote position with my current employer (so I could move back to Atl) but that could take yearssss to finagle.  If I could (1) figure out a quicker way to get this type of position with my current employer, or (b) find one with another employer then I could move back relatively soon....

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #82 on: March 01, 2015, 11:47:26 AM »
Great job on bumping the 401k!

I've noticed that all of your trips are to warm places.  Heck, I live in the South, and I'm still thinking about tropical vacations when Dec hits.  Completely understandable.

Given all you have written, it seems like you should work on getting a roommate for now but also seriously look for jobs back in Atlanta.  Think about it this way: you've got 18 months left on your current lease to find something in GA, and you can break the lease if you find something great!

You won't feel the need to spend so much on travel once you are back there.  Your housing costs will be lower, your commuting time will be much less, and you'll be back with friends and family. You CAN command what you are earning (or even more!) in Atlanta I think.  You are extremely articulate and bright.  Many employers pay a huge range for the same position, and they tend to pay what people ask for upon hire.  So, since you seem to be doubting that you can be paid what you are making now when you move back south, try to pick up a book at the library called Ask For It: How Women Can Use Negotiation to Get What They Really Want.  This book changed my life, and you have plenty of time to read on the train :-)  Then make a long list of what you want at your current job and from a future job and make it happen!  Good luck!

Thanks for the encouragement.  I do believe that since moving to Chicago I feel compelled to travel more to 'get away', especially when it is cold.  But also because sometimes the travel includes seeing people I've moved away from.  Until this thread I hadn't considered moving back any sooner.  I'd just been so focused on the fact I 'finally got this good job' that I'm fearful to 'rock the boat' and try moving to another job...yet again. 

My concern about finding another position where I can command the same salary is moreso centered around the industry I work in.  I work for a Pharma company and that industry is not as big in Atlanta, hence the pool of positions I could apply for are much much lower.  Re-reading back through this thread, though, I must admit I'm thinking about this now.  I thought I would try to get a remote position with my current employer (so I could move back to Atl) but that could take yearssss to finagle.  If I could (1) figure out a quicker way to get this type of position with my current employer, or (b) find one with another employer then I could move back relatively soon....

No reason not to pursue both of those options. See which coalesces first.

EconDiva

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #83 on: March 02, 2015, 10:11:17 AM »
Your attitude about spending is confusing me.  You say you want to know how much to cut every spending category to be FI in 15 years.  Well, why do you want to be FI?  What do you value?  I think you will be more successful with cutting spending if you start by re-framing your goals and needs.  The beauty with spending consciously is you realize that you don't need to spend a lot to be happy.  And it's a gradual process - you start by eliminating some wasteful habit, then you realize life is still good and you don't feel any worse, then you feel more comfortable applying that to other areas, questioning, not doing something just because others do, and not caring.

Great questions...and even better suggestions!  Thank you very much; I will be continuing to look back on everything you've noted in every category of your original posting.

In regards to your question, why do I want to be FI, here are the reasons:

-I don't like working a job much at all.  I want to be free from the obligation to report to a job every day.  I want to choose if/when to work and for long, and I don't like the feeling of 'needing' a job to support myself...it feels 'unstable' so to speak.
-I want more time to myself.  I'm a dreamer.  A creative thinker.  A photographer.  I'm basically an introverted (INFP) artist at heart working in a fast paced corporate type environment and I don't want to be doing that when I'm 60.  For one, I won't be able to maintain this speed of work until that age.  For another, I am sure to be seen as less valuable the older I get once I hit 50ish or so.  I want to be able to have time to do things I enjoy which are mostly leisurely things.  And I don't want to be too old with little time left to enjoy those things.
-I had a few family members pass last year and I'm realizing every day that we are not promised tomorrow.  I moved away from all of my friends and family and the only thing I have 'going' for me so to speak right now...is my job.  My mother will be 57 this year and if I can FI earlier than planned, maybe I'll have more time to spend with her in her old age, like I wish I would have had to spend with my grandfather who passed last year.  Again, it comes down to giving myself time back.  Wanting to have more time with my mom is part of the reason I've justified traveling more...either for her to see me, me to see her, or for us to take a trip together 1-2 times a year.  That's pretty costly.  Now, my mom is in the process of foreclosure down in the south and not doing too well financially for herself (she's been out of work for 3 years) so that's an entirely different story altogether.
-I don't want to end up like some people I've seen.  I don't want a mortgage at 65.  I don't want to only have 100K in the bank at 59.  I want to feel more secure than that.

It sounds to me like you're starting to question the basic reasons you went to Chicago in the first place. If so, maybe start thinking seriously about going back South? Keep negotiating different positions until you have a salary you like, and then see if they'll pay a relocation bonus. Best of luck to you.

Sigh....I think its moreso I'm beginning to question to myself "Do I really need to stay another 3, 4, 5 years to again enough additional experience and marketability to be able to move back down to the south at a comparable salary to what I make now?"

Maybe I can move back in 2 years....or 1...depending upon how I position myself...?

Bracken_Joy

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Re: Case study: PLEASE help me figure out how to retire in 15 years
« Reply #84 on: March 02, 2015, 12:47:54 PM »
Your attitude about spending is confusing me.  You say you want to know how much to cut every spending category to be FI in 15 years.  Well, why do you want to be FI?  What do you value?  I think you will be more successful with cutting spending if you start by re-framing your goals and needs.  The beauty with spending consciously is you realize that you don't need to spend a lot to be happy.  And it's a gradual process - you start by eliminating some wasteful habit, then you realize life is still good and you don't feel any worse, then you feel more comfortable applying that to other areas, questioning, not doing something just because others do, and not caring.

Great questions...and even better suggestions!  Thank you very much; I will be continuing to look back on everything you've noted in every category of your original posting.

In regards to your question, why do I want to be FI, here are the reasons:

-I don't like working a job much at all.  I want to be free from the obligation to report to a job every day.  I want to choose if/when to work and for long, and I don't like the feeling of 'needing' a job to support myself...it feels 'unstable' so to speak.
-I want more time to myself.  I'm a dreamer.  A creative thinker.  A photographer.  I'm basically an introverted (INFP) artist at heart working in a fast paced corporate type environment and I don't want to be doing that when I'm 60.  For one, I won't be able to maintain this speed of work until that age.  For another, I am sure to be seen as less valuable the older I get once I hit 50ish or so.  I want to be able to have time to do things I enjoy which are mostly leisurely things.  And I don't want to be too old with little time left to enjoy those things.
-I had a few family members pass last year and I'm realizing every day that we are not promised tomorrow.  I moved away from all of my friends and family and the only thing I have 'going' for me so to speak right now...is my job.  My mother will be 57 this year and if I can FI earlier than planned, maybe I'll have more time to spend with her in her old age, like I wish I would have had to spend with my grandfather who passed last year.  Again, it comes down to giving myself time back.  Wanting to have more time with my mom is part of the reason I've justified traveling more...either for her to see me, me to see her, or for us to take a trip together 1-2 times a year.  That's pretty costly.  Now, my mom is in the process of foreclosure down in the south and not doing too well financially for herself (she's been out of work for 3 years) so that's an entirely different story altogether.
-I don't want to end up like some people I've seen.  I don't want a mortgage at 65.  I don't want to only have 100K in the bank at 59.  I want to feel more secure than that.

It sounds to me like you're starting to question the basic reasons you went to Chicago in the first place. If so, maybe start thinking seriously about going back South? Keep negotiating different positions until you have a salary you like, and then see if they'll pay a relocation bonus. Best of luck to you.

Sigh....I think its moreso I'm beginning to question to myself "Do I really need to stay another 3, 4, 5 years to again enough additional experience and marketability to be able to move back down to the south at a comparable salary to what I make now?"

Maybe I can move back in 2 years....or 1...depending upon how I position myself...?

Why not send a couple resumes out right now? See who bites and for how much? If you don't like the offers, just don't take them and wait a while. Really no potential for loss here, except for costs associated with traveling for interviews as necessary.