Author Topic: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement  (Read 16857 times)

SKL-HOU

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CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« on: November 05, 2015, 12:20:28 PM »
Hi everybody! I have been reading the forums for about a year now and finally decided to get an account and ask for some expert opinions. I apologize in advance that this is rather long and confusing. I am a little all over the place with what I want to do. Well rather what is possible for me to do. My ultimate goal is to not work a minute more than I have to. I have plenty of things I would love to be doing rather than working for a living. Volunteering with a rescue, growing a huge edible garden, crafts (knitting/crochet), and most importantly spending more time with my son and pets are at the top of my list. I am sure all of these are things that could be utilized for some income but my current job pays me pretty good so I would rather maximize my income while I can.

Life Situation: I am a 39 year old, divorced mom of a 3 (almost 4) year old boy. I am a mechanical engineer. We live in Houston. My ex lives in a different state. He is not involved in our son's life at any capacity by his choice. It is a long story. The only relevant part is that he pays zero child support and child support will stay at zero in the foreseeable future. We also have 2 dogs (large) and a cat. I realize I should be at a much, much better point financially at my age. I can list all kinds of reasons why I am where I am but it wouldnít change anything so I am hoping I have learned from my past and I am looking at the future.

Gross Salary/Wages: $108,000/year

Current Take Home Pay: $72,250 annual/$6020 monthly (Income minus all deductions-see below for deductions)

Pre-tax Deductions (every two weeks):
Federal Tax:       $528.95
SS Tax:          $240.24
Medicare Tax:       $56.19
Flex Spend:       $192.31 (daycare expenses-maxed)
Dental:         $18.92
Vision:         $2.98
Health insurance:                  $75.63 (high deductible plan)
HSA:                                 $0 (currently not contributing. Iíve put in $2342 for the year and my employer puts in $2300)
401k:          $249.60 (6%, employer matches 50% up to 6%)

Post-tax Deductions (every two weeks):
Dependent Life:    $0.92
LTD:      $7.88
Optional Life Ins:   $7.01 (3 times salary)

Additional income:
Unfortunately, being the only parent with no other family around, I donít have the option for any additional work. And I would rather spend what little time I have outside of work with my son, especially since I am the only parent in his life.

I just started doing swagbucks and seem to be doing pretty good. I spend a lot of time but it is when I am watching tv (after my son goes to bed) or during the day (set up ipad to cycle through videos at home). I expect this to be negligible income, maybe $50/month (seems about this for far, not sure if it is sustainable).

Current expenses (monthly):
Rent      $2150 (explanation below)
Utilities      $200 (this is an estimate. We moved to this house a few weeks ago so not sure on average costs yet. Includes electric, gas, water)
Daycare   $445 (This is actually $860 but I am subtracting flex spend money which I reimburse myself from. I couldnít figure out where to account for that. Hopefully this will go down to just aftercare once he starts pre-k next year assuming he gets in the free program in school)
Cell Phone:   $10 (It is actually about $90 but up to $80 is reimbursed by work)
Internet/cable:   $70 (We watch stuff via netflix, and via the internet. This includes a wireless modem and some cable channels. It is a promotion I just signed up for. We donít really watch cable much and there arenít many channels but it was a better deal. Since we stream a lot of stuff via the internet I got a fast internet package-50 MB)
Netflix:      $10
Credit card mins:   $360 (see below for details)
Little Gym:   $90 (for my son)
Car/Renterís Insur.   $120 (full coverage on the car plus renterís insurance)
Fuel         $100 (estimate)   
Groceries/Misc   $800 (more information below)
Travel   $350 (all of my family lives out of the country so we visit them at least once a year, tickets can be anywhere from $1400-2500 for both of us. Next year we are going to Paris Disneyland with my sister/nephew/BIL and to my home country in the same trip so total cost will be about $4000 plus probably a beach vacation or cruise)
TOTAL:      $4705
Remaining:   $1315 (current plan is to throw all of this at credit cards)

Assets: total $61,460 (excludes car value)

Vehicle: 2005 Ford Expedition (KBB value about $4-5k), paid off
CapOne360:        $350
ShareBuilder:        $3437
IRA:           $2146
Old 401k:        $27601 (at T. Rowe)
HSA:          $1410
HSA (invested):        $2140
Current 401k:        $19334 (at Merrill Lynch)
Regular Savings:    $1000 (more like a short term emergency fund)
In FSA:         $2042 (saved up that I can reimburse myself)
Deposit:      $2000 (from the place we just moved out, I should receive this by November 20)

Liabilities: total $12,636 

Numbers are rounded. Priorities listed to show in which order I plan to pay off. Plan is to pay them off by the end of 2016, the latest.

Chase Slate      $782 (0% for about another 10 months, priority 6)
Chase Sapphire      $3349 (0% for another 16 months, priority 7)
Macyís         $1150 (high interest, priority 2)
Cap One      $1475 (0% for 12 months, priority 5)
Citibank1      $1520 (high interest, priority 3)
Citibank2      $2940 (high interest, priority 4)
Wells Fargo      $1420 (high interest, paying this off with extra payments currently, priority 1)

Housing:
We live about a mile from my work. Daycare is within a mile. We have almost everything we need/want within 1-2 miles. The house is zoned to an excellent public school. There arenít very many houses that are zoned to this school that is any less in rent. There are apartments but with our pets it would be too difficult to take care in an apartment. We just moved here from a townhouse with a tiny patio and it was a pain in the butt. Now we are in a single family house with a large yard.

I would like to purchase a single family house in the same area. The prices start around $400k with yearly taxes around 8-10k. I cannot purchase just yet because I had to do a short sale after the divorce for my property left in the previous state (where the ex is). So I am still in the waiting period. Truthfully, with the housing prices in the area I am looking at, it will be an FHA mortgage unless I wait a long time. Even though I really, really want to buy in the area I live in, I am also considering going further out, which would mean switching schools and a commute in Houston but I would get better value for my money. I have always been very spoiled with a short commute in my previous city and here with every job I held. Housing is part of my questions below.

Groceries/Misc:

I donít keep very good track of groceries and miscellaneous expenses as some are purchased with cash, some are debit, etc. I estimate grocery part to be about $400. This includes extra calorie milk for my son which is about $62/27 small packs through amazon, the cheapest I found. He was a micro-preemie (born at 25 weeks) and he is still trying to catch up on weight. Food is not something I am willing to cut on.

The miscellaneous category also includes dog/cat food, cleaning supplies, occasional babysitter, eating out, shots for pets, occasional charity donation, etc. I might be estimating on the low end.
In order to figure out the actual spending and cap it, I plan on implementing a cash only system and take out $400 each paycheck to pay for all of the groceries and extras.

Prescriptions/health charges and HSA:

Like I mentioned above my son was a preemie and even though he is healthy for the most part, he has asthma medicine and other medicines, doctorís visits, etc. These currently are at about $250/month and they come out of the HSA account. I keep my fingers crossed to not end up at ER with a cold that turned into an emergency as the current deductible is at $4000 (HD plan). It is not that I cannot afford to pay for that but would rather have my son healthy and keep the money in our account.

I am currently not contributing to the HSA account for the rest of the year. I put in about $2300 already for this year and my employer puts in $2300 (divided monthly). I stopped contributions to speed up the debt payoff.

Specific Question(s):

In the upcoming year health insurance, etc costs will change but I donít expect them to change a whole lot (hopefully). Please take into consideration that I am considering purchasing a new/used vehicle in the upcoming year.
My long term goal is to get to a point where I have enough savings (not sure how much) where I donít worry about a job but I would continue working PT at my job. We have 20 or 30 hour options at work, the pay obviously would be less but even at 20 hours it will be at least $50k. I wish I could do this now so I could spend more time with my son while he is young.

Also, I absolutely plan on helping my son pay for college (hopefully pay for all of it).

1.   Should I max HSA for tax purposes or any other reason next year?

2.   Should I max 401k even though I am still paying off debt? I know this is typically not the advice but I was
wondering if it would be a good idea to reduce my taxable income so I can get the child tax credit even if it is partial.

3.   How should I plan for the short term and long term financially?

4.   Should I buy a house? Continue renting? Is it ridiculous to buy where I currently live at outrages prices? Or should I trade cost with commute? It already feels like I have no time to do anything without added commute.

5.   Any other suggestions/comments?

Thank you for taking the time to read. I appreciate all suggestions and comments.

Axecleaver

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2015, 01:30:24 PM »
Hi SKL-Hou, good first post!
Your questions:
1.   Should I max HSA for tax purposes or any other reason next year?
You have a year plus of CC repayment; I don't think you can afford to do this.

2.   Should I max 401k even though I am still paying off debt? I know this is typically not the advice but I was
wondering if it would be a good idea to reduce my taxable income so I can get the child tax credit even if it is partial.
Probably not; the interest rates on your CC will probably be more than you'd get from the tax credit, but use Taxcaster to model it. Definitely do contribute enough to get all of the match, though.

3.   How should I plan for the short term and long term financially?
Pursue child support for long term financial health, build a 3-6 month emergency fund, pay off credit cards, then reassess.

4.   Should I buy a house? Continue renting? Is it ridiculous to buy where I currently live at outrages prices? Or should I trade cost with commute? It already feels like I have no time to do anything without added commute.

You'll need 20% down to buy a house. For 400k houses, that's 80k. If you got any credit rating damage from the divorce, you need time to repair that. You'll need about 7 years to pay off CC and save enough to afford a house. I'd put this aside for now and look at renting something cheaper.

Other advice:
Most preemies catch up to their peers in terms of height/weight by the time they're a year old. If your son is still behind on the curve at two, he will likely be there until his teens, no matter what you do, and it's totally fine. We had a normal birth weight, but a very skinny kid growing up; at two she was in the 75% for height and 3% for weight and that didn't change much until she hit puberty, when things evened out a bit. As long as he has a healthy diet, he should be fine; expensive supplements are not necessary for your situation.

Your ex should pay child support, even if he isn't currently working. Courts award payments based on work history and ability to earn, not completely based on current job. It's going to be very difficult to get ahead without that. You should get a judgment now just in case he turns things around.

In terms of making progress with what you have: There is some room to cut some things from your budget. Little Gym, an expensive/large vehicle (insurance will be more on these, registration is higher, tires, fuel, etc. all higher), and $800 for a little boy and one adult is a lot. Your housing expense is high at over 1/3rd of your take home pay. Your call whether these things are worth cutting to get your finances fixed up.

It's tough digging out from a divorce with debt, and I agree that eliminating your CC debt should be a top priority. Optionally, you may want to put a bit more in your emergency fund before you tackle the CC, you don't have enough to fund even one month of expenses today. Rough estimate (I don't know your CC interest rates) is about 10-12 months to pay off your CC balanced with your surplus; some budget cutting can accelerate that.

Good luck and please come back and update us on your progress.

Mother Fussbudget

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2015, 01:42:48 PM »
Hi SKL-HOU - welcome.  Taking action by posting a case study is the first step in the road to financial recovery.

I'll answer #3, #5 and the rest of your questions with tough-love (from a divorcee who was in your shoes 5 years ago) in one statement:
You have a HAIR-ON-FIRE DEBT EMERGENCY - you should have laser focus on paying OFF those Credit Cards

Your priorities are good, and the goal of putting $1,315 per paycheck toward these debts is good - but you need to be going above and beyond until they're paid off.

Where to save:  1) Eliminate $90 little gym - bike, or go to the park instead.  2) Sell the gas guzzler Expedition, and buy a used Rav4 or other more economical vehicle.  3) Do NOT buy a house / Do NOT take on $400K ADDITIONAL DEBT.  Renting is a better / cheaper option for you now.  Home ownership comes with additional taxes, services (sewer, trash, electricity, gas, HOA dues, etc) that sneak up on home owners, and renters can happily ignore.

Read MMM's article News Flash:  Your Debt is an Emergency, and take it to heart. 

And YES... You CAN Do It!

Platypuses

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2015, 02:52:13 PM »
Welcome to the forum.

Axecleaver basically answered all your questions the same way I would.

One option to consider is to take the money out of your Capital One Sharebuilder account ($3,437) to pay off CC debt. I can almost guarantee that you are paying more in interest than you are getting in returns in your investment account. First I would pay off the Wells Fargo and Macy's credit card, leaving you with $867+/- which would go to cc priority #3. I would also use the $2000 refund check to pay off high interest cc debt leaving you with only $1593 in high interest cc debt at the end of November. Assuming you keep at putting an extra $1315/mo to cc's you should have all the ones with high interest paid off by mid January.

I would then switch your priority 5 and 6 around (due to 0% interest period), although it really won't matter since you should be able to pay them all off in an additional 3-4 months. (($3349+$782+$1475)/($360{cc minimum none going to interest now} +$1315)) = ~3.4 months.

So by next May you should be debt free.

I personally would pay off all cc's w/ high interest before building an emergency fund.

Thanks for the post and good luck!!
« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 03:12:54 PM by Platypuses »

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #4 on: November 05, 2015, 03:07:38 PM »
Thank you all for the responses.

Unless something comes up, I should be able to pay off the debt before the end of next year (as long as I make it an absolute priority and I already have). Saving up for the down payment will definitely take a little longer. The good thing is my debt will go down and my income will go up. After I typed this, I saw the final response. I will think over the strategy to put the sharebuilder and the deposit money to the debt. I feel better having some sort of savings but maybe I need to rethink that since that strategy has not been working for me. It is easier not to spend the money if I don't have it available in my savings.

As for my son, his height is average but he is right about 2-3% for weight. That could be due to him being a preemie or that both myself and my ex were pretty skinny kids, maybe it is genetic. The Little Gym is for him to be more active and to learn some of the physical skills. He really likes it and it is helping him be more active. He walked pretty late and he is very accident prone, falls easily, etc. So this is a way for him to learn balance, etc.

I have had a few conversations with my lawyer regarding the child support. We both came to the conclusion that it is not worth pursuing financially or emotionally. The best case scenario (estimating his income) is I might get $400, maybe $500 but most likely much less especially since the daycare costs will be going down with school. It would cost me probably 5k in lawyer fees (I am totally estimating this from my divorce), possibly more if he doesn't just say yes, which he won't. He will most likely request visitation just to be spiteful. And even though he did not object to us moving away, my lawyer says it is a possibility that the court might push that cost on me. And then there is the emotional part of dealing with all this. Maybe in a few years... The reason for no child support was not because of unemployment (although he was unemployed at the time). Having to pay CS would have made him lose his house since he wouldn't have enough money so he chose his house over his kid basically. He asked to have his parental rights terminated just so he wouldnít have to pay CS. I still couldíve pursued CS but then he would have asked for visitation and how could I trust a guy who had just asked for his parental rights to be terminated. So I agreed but the judge wouldnít allow him. So the settlement was written with no child support/no visitation. In addition, he has two kids from previous marriage that he pays CS on. Long story short, this is not an option I want to pursue at this point even though it is unfair to our son and to me.
And the gas guzzler  I do plan on replacing it sometime next year but it is not really because of the gas or insurance costs. I estimate the gas costs about $100/month, the full coverage insurance is about $90. I donít think these would go down much, especially since I would purchase a newer vehicle.

I agree on the house. It is not like I am ready to purchase tomorrow anyway so who knows what will change by then. So I will continue renting in the foreseeable future. I will divert part of the monthly excess in my emergency fund and the rest into the CCs. Once I get my deposit back and reimburse myself from FSA I should have about $5-6k cash for emergencies.

Thank you again for your comments.

justajane

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #5 on: November 05, 2015, 03:28:45 PM »
I'm not sure why you need to pay so much in rent for a good school district when your son isn't even in school yet. You'll hear from a lot of people on here that the school doesn't matter as much during the early elementary years. This means you could likely rent a cheaper place for at least three years so that you can kill that debt and start building your stash. I understand wanting to be so close to work, but is there no workaround here on how high your rent is? I really do sympathize with you about the commute, especially since you are a single mom. It doesn't make sense for you to live and send your child to school in one place and work in an entirely different place. That would add a lot of stress to your life.

If you're not willing to compromise on rent or food/household supplies, it's going to be a lot harder. Little Gym and other cuts will gain you some money, but the true gains are going to come from one of the two above. To give you an idea of how much you are spending, we spend $600 a month on food/household for a family of five. And it's not because our groceries are cheaper. I have a friend here in the Midwest from Houston who was bemoaning how much more expensive things are here than they were in Houston.

Can you clarify the credit card debt? How did you get it? Are you still charging on those? Have you changed the behaviors that lead to the debt? Or is it all from the divorce?

merula

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2015, 03:42:24 PM »
My long term goal is to get to a point where I have enough savings (not sure how much) where I donít worry about a job but I would continue working PT at my job. We have 20 or 30 hour options at work, the pay obviously would be less but even at 20 hours it will be at least $50k. I wish I could do this now so I could spend more time with my son while he is young.

I think you can do part time work while your son is young. I think you can do this once your credit card balance is $0, and I think you can do that faster than you think.

It all boils down to this: What are you willing to give up for more time with your son?

What if you took him to the park instead of the Little Gym, so that in a year you could spend the whole afternoon at the park?

What if you bought an older, smaller (but still perfectly safe car) and got to spend that much less time driving it?

Are you willing to get rid of your pets (who are costing you maybe $200/month conservatively based on your misc expense category, plus doubling your housing expenses) to keep your son in the school district you want him in without spending an exorbitant amount of your income on rent?

There are plenty of people on this board who earn less than your potential part-time salary and still manage to save for early retirement. It looks like your goal isn't even early retirement, it's part-time work, and your part time would earn you a salary that's above the US median household income. You can definitely live on $50,000 if you prioritize well.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #7 on: November 05, 2015, 03:52:23 PM »
He will be in school next year. The area that I was looking at rarely has houses for rent in this price range anyway. I was in the same school district paying $1500 in rent for a townhouse. I realize staying there would have been financially much, much smarter. However, with the dogs it was getting to be so much harder since there was no yard. So the move was partially a convenience thing. 
I have an 18-month lease. I haven't fully decided what I will do at that point. 18-month lease puts me at the 3-year waiting period for FHA loan. That is why I was asking about purchasing a house. To be honest, I am not sure what I want to do.

Just to clarify we do not spend $800 on groceries alone. I estimate groceries to be about $400. It is possible to bring it down, which I am starting to work on. The remaining $400 is for miscellaneous stuff like dog/cat food, babysitter, eating out, etc. I need to get a handle on what I am spending on to be able to cut so my goal is to go all cash on all of these to try to cap spending and start lowering. It is too easy for me to lose track of total spent when I spend with my debit card even though I balance my checkbook with all transactions.

The credit card debt is my black hole that has been lingering for a long time. I don't use them anymore (recently transferred some of it to 0% cards). The behaviors that lead to debt has changed. Most are actually from years ago, none from divorce (all paid in cash). I really need to make them a priority rather than any kind of savings because if I have the money it is easier to spend it. And that is why they are still not paid off. I keep trying to build up savings first and it gets spent. So I need to stop with attempting to save first.

I moved here from Midwest. Even though Houston has no tax on most food, I think Midwest was cheaper, at least where I lived.


 

lhamo

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #8 on: November 05, 2015, 03:57:19 PM »
I understand the challenges of an international family, but with the hair on fire debt situation you have you are not really in a position to be considering the Paris Disney/family visit trip, much less that PLUS another fancy vacation.  If it isn't paid for already, I would bite the bullet and tell your sister you can't do it until your debt is paid off.  Regular skypeing can be a way to maintain ties to overseas family without the costs of travel.

Given your child's asthma, it might be wise to consider re-homing the pets.  That would also make it easier to consider less expensive housing options. 

Is your current house large enough that you could potentially share with another single mom, preferably someone with a boy your son's age?  Maybe you can trade off childcare responsibilities so that you both can work extra, or you could watch her child for some extra money while still spending more time with your own.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #9 on: November 05, 2015, 04:02:45 PM »
My long term goal is to get to a point where I have enough savings (not sure how much) where I donít worry about a job but I would continue working PT at my job. We have 20 or 30 hour options at work, the pay obviously would be less but even at 20 hours it will be at least $50k. I wish I could do this now so I could spend more time with my son while he is young.

I think you can do part time work while your son is young. I think you can do this once your credit card balance is $0, and I think you can do that faster than you think.

It all boils down to this: What are you willing to give up for more time with your son?

What if you took him to the park instead of the Little Gym, so that in a year you could spend the whole afternoon at the park?

What if you bought an older, smaller (but still perfectly safe car) and got to spend that much less time driving it?

Are you willing to get rid of your pets (who are costing you maybe $200/month conservatively based on your misc expense category, plus doubling your housing expenses) to keep your son in the school district you want him in without spending an exorbitant amount of your income on rent?

There are plenty of people on this board who earn less than your potential part-time salary and still manage to save for early retirement. It looks like your goal isn't even early retirement, it's part-time work, and your part time would earn you a salary that's above the US median household income. You can definitely live on $50,000 if you prioritize well.

Well, the reason I can't do part time work is because there is no one that can watch him while I am at work. He is at daycare during the day while I am at work. If I get PT work, between the sitter and high income taxes due to my income, it would be hard to justify I think.

That is a great question. What am I willing to give up to spend more time with my son? I am willing to give up my personal spending or at least cut it way down but I am not willing to cut things for him. I think part of it is the feeling of guilt. I feel bad that he already is missing something huge in his life (a dad) so I am not willing to make him do any sacrifices. Probably not a very healthy way of thinking but it is how I feel.

I am not willing to give up my pets. I am one of those crazy pet people who see their pets as family so I would rather work longer than to give them up. Plus they are older, one will be 10 in January, the other just turned 9. They are large breed dogs so realistically they don't have that much time left. :(

I totally realize with my salary I should be doing much better but I haven't always made this much and I wasn't thinking of the possibility of early retirement until recently. How I wish I could go back in time. I would be completely retired by now. But back to reality :) I would like to have a paid off house before I go the PT route so that is one more reason not to buy a 400k house. Like I said I am all over the place with what I want.

justajane

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #10 on: November 05, 2015, 04:08:44 PM »
I am not willing to give up my pets. I am one of those crazy pet people who see their pets as family so I would rather work longer than to give them up. Plus they are older, one will be 10 in January, the other just turned 9. They are large breed dogs so realistically they don't have that much time left. :(

I was going to ask you how old your dogs are. I would encourage you not to replace them with new dogs when they die and not to prolong their lives with excessive medical procedures.

Not having the large dogs to support would really help you get ahead financially. I agree with you about not getting rid of them, but just resist the temptation to replace them, at least until you have significantly more in savings.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #11 on: November 05, 2015, 04:09:27 PM »
I understand the challenges of an international family, but with the hair on fire debt situation you have you are not really in a position to be considering the Paris Disney/family visit trip, much less that PLUS another fancy vacation.  If it isn't paid for already, I would bite the bullet and tell your sister you can't do it until your debt is paid off.  Regular skypeing can be a way to maintain ties to overseas family without the costs of travel.

Given your child's asthma, it might be wise to consider re-homing the pets.  That would also make it easier to consider less expensive housing options. 

Is your current house large enough that you could potentially share with another single mom, preferably someone with a boy your son's age?  Maybe you can trade off childcare responsibilities so that you both can work extra, or you could watch her child for some extra money while still spending more time with your own.

The plane tickets are paid for. I did consider not doing the trip but I decided to go ahead with it because we would do an international trip to visit my parents anyway. This way we get to visit them and also my son gets to enjoy this trip with his cousin that he doesn't get to see very much. I know it all sounds like an excuse. But it is part of my guilty feeling for having a broken home for my son.

His asthma is virus induced so he is on a preventive inhaler but it is so when he gets a cold, it doesn't escalate. Although at times it does.

I don't really know any single moms that I can share a house with. And honestly I don't feel comfortable sharing a house with a stranger. My mom comes and stays with us for a few months occasionally so if she does, that is when I can definitely look into PT work.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #12 on: November 05, 2015, 04:11:43 PM »
I am not willing to give up my pets. I am one of those crazy pet people who see their pets as family so I would rather work longer than to give them up. Plus they are older, one will be 10 in January, the other just turned 9. They are large breed dogs so realistically they don't have that much time left. :(

I was going to ask you how old your dogs are. I would encourage you not to replace them with new dogs when they die and not to prolong their lives with excessive medical procedures.

Not having the large dogs to support would really help you get ahead financially. I agree with you about not getting rid of them, but just resist the temptation to replace them, at least until you have significantly more in savings.

Yes that is definitely the plan. We will still have the cat, which is much less maintenance. If I had my son prior to the pets, I definitely wouldn't have this many, not only from cost standpoint but also amount of work it takes to take care of them. I can always foster for a rescue at that point rather than having dogs of my own.

mm1970

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #13 on: November 05, 2015, 04:29:54 PM »
You've gotten some pretty good advice already -

1.  I agree that you should not pursue child support.  It sounds like more pain than it's worth.  It makes me sad to think of what your son is going through (I have a 3 year old boy).
2.  I also agree that you should not pursue part time work.  I've got 2 kids and a full time job (and a husband!) - time with my kids is too precious.  However, in addition to swagbucks, maybe your crafts can bring in some extra money.  And maybe gardening too.  (I'm an engineer.  There was a period of time where my coworkers paid me to crochet baby blankets.  This was long before I had my boys.)
3.  I think being so close to everything is great.  I wouldn't move.  But how big is your house?  Is there a spare bedroom that you could rent?
4.  Cancel Little Gym, or find something cheaper.
5.  Pay off those credit cards!
6.  You cannot afford to travel that much, and the CC's show it.  You've already bought your plane tickets, but you should set aside money for the rest.  Needless to say, there is no money for an additional beach vacation or cruise.  Unless you Air-BNB your house out while you are gone and make money.
7.  Don't buy a house.  But I also would avoid increasing your commute.
8.  Cut that food bill (I'm not saying start eating crap, mind you).  You should probably start diligently tracking what you buy (food and otherwise) and figure out where to cut.  You can't really afford a babysitter or charity if you are in debt, right?

goldensam

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #14 on: November 05, 2015, 05:20:05 PM »
I live in the Houston area and work downtown. I can't tell you how much I recommend NOT moving to the suburbs. My drive is about 28 miles and I spend no less than an hour and a half commuting (round trip) every day, and I've had days where it has taken me two hours one way. I leave my house by 6AM because if I wait until 6:30, my commute will easily double. I am counting the days until we move into the city.

I also have two large breed dogs and am very involved in rescue. I'm happy to talk to you about that if you want. :)

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #15 on: November 05, 2015, 05:30:13 PM »
You've gotten some pretty good advice already -

1.  I agree that you should not pursue child support.  It sounds like more pain than it's worth.  It makes me sad to think of what your son is going through (I have a 3 year old boy).
2.  I also agree that you should not pursue part time work.  I've got 2 kids and a full time job (and a husband!) - time with my kids is too precious.  However, in addition to swagbucks, maybe your crafts can bring in some extra money.  And maybe gardening too.  (I'm an engineer.  There was a period of time where my coworkers paid me to crochet baby blankets.  This was long before I had my boys.)
3.  I think being so close to everything is great.  I wouldn't move.  But how big is your house?  Is there a spare bedroom that you could rent?
4.  Cancel Little Gym, or find something cheaper.
5.  Pay off those credit cards!
6.  You cannot afford to travel that much, and the CC's show it.  You've already bought your plane tickets, but you should set aside money for the rest.  Needless to say, there is no money for an additional beach vacation or cruise.  Unless you Air-BNB your house out while you are gone and make money.
7.  Don't buy a house.  But I also would avoid increasing your commute.
8.  Cut that food bill (I'm not saying start eating crap, mind you).  You should probably start diligently tracking what you buy (food and otherwise) and figure out where to cut.  You can't really afford a babysitter or charity if you are in debt, right?

I thought about making money through crafts but i am not that good and when i looked at places i can sell like etsy, my stuff doesnt look up to par :) so it is just a relaxing hobby for me. As for gardening, i plan on starting a garden but i think it will be just enough to bring our own groceries down, probably not enough to sell. I probably wont have time to take care of a huge garden and aldo i dont want to invest too much money since this is only a rental.
I can get the grocery and extra spending down. Food waste happens a little too much at home do i need to get better at planning.
I will look at other programs to replace little gym. It is a little further away than i'd like so i can look closer too.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2015, 05:33:39 PM »
I live in the Houston area and work downtown. I can't tell you how much I recommend NOT moving to the suburbs. My drive is about 28 miles and I spend no less than an hour and a half commuting (round trip) every day, and I've had days where it has taken me two hours one way. I leave my house by 6AM because if I wait until 6:30, my commute will easily double. I am counting the days until we move into the city.

I also have two large breed dogs and am very involved in rescue. I'm happy to talk to you about that if you want. :)

I work and live by the galleria. So even my 1 mile commute (slightly more with daycare stop) takes a while due to crazy traffic. When i took this job i was living in Katy, almost by cypress, that was a nightmare.
I am not ready to volunteer with a rescue yet due to time constraints but once my son is a little older, i would like us both to be involved.
Do you happen to be in another money forum with the same screen name? Because i am pretty sure we had a conversation about this on that one. :)

Dee18

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2015, 05:48:53 PM »
My daughter just went to college, but I have been a single parent by adoption the whole time.  My advice: single parenthood is quite manageable but single home ownership is crazy...only partly joking.  I truly preferred renting.  As you get to know more people you might find a better rental deal in the area you like.  Do not feel like you have to spend money on anything because you have a "broken home."  Hopefully that feeling will fade quickly.  Celebrate the advantages of a tiny family.  Once in a while --after my daughter was school age and realized other girls' moms would say, "you'll have to check with your father..."--I would say something like, "want to go on a picnic for breakfast?"  "Yes? Great, since we agree, let's go...we don't have to ask anyone else."  Instead of looking for another gym program, just play.  As an engineer you can figure this out!  Maybe go to Home Depot for a 4x4 that's 6 feet long for him to walk on, balls to throw and kick...or get a kids yoga book and do it together.  He gets plenty of playtime with other kids at daycare.  Sorry to tell you, but my daughter does not remember the trip to Disney from when she was 4....but my Dad loved it, and died just a few years later so it was worth it.

Noodle

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2015, 06:00:10 PM »
One thing to keep in mind with your planning is that Houston has school choice. So although there are no guarantees as to the process, you do not absolutely need to be in the feeder area for a particular school (especially if you can be flexible among several good schools). There are lots of good elementary schools to choose from; it's at the middle and high school levels that it is a bit tougher to find good schools.

One argument for continuing to rent is that it gives you more flexibility to minimize commutes if you have a job change. I know several people whose offices have moved, even if the job stayed the same. As you point out, in Houston a short commute is a key to happiness! Also, 400K seems like quite a stretch on just over 100K salary, esp since property taxes are high. I think there is a rule of thumb that your housing should no more than 2-3x your annual salary...
« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 06:02:03 PM by Noodle »

justajane

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2015, 06:01:37 PM »
I'm not sure how your area of Houston would work for this, but I've heard of some people doing well with Online Verdict (https://www.onlineverdict.com/). Basically, if there is a case in your area and someone wants jury focus groups, they will pay you pretty well to answer survey questions if you are in their target demographic. I signed up but have never heard because I live in an area without too much crime or cases. Anyway, it's worth a try to add this to your Swagbucks income. I think someone on here said they made decent cash this way. 

goldensam

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2015, 06:06:32 PM »
I live in the Houston area and work downtown. I can't tell you how much I recommend NOT moving to the suburbs. My drive is about 28 miles and I spend no less than an hour and a half commuting (round trip) every day, and I've had days where it has taken me two hours one way. I leave my house by 6AM because if I wait until 6:30, my commute will easily double. I am counting the days until we move into the city.

I also have two large breed dogs and am very involved in rescue. I'm happy to talk to you about that if you want. :)

I work and live by the galleria. So even my 1 mile commute (slightly more with daycare stop) takes a while due to crazy traffic. When i took this job i was living in Katy, almost by cypress, that was a nightmare.
I am not ready to volunteer with a rescue yet due to time constraints but once my son is a little older, i would like us both to be involved.
Do you happen to be in another money forum with the same screen name? Because i am pretty sure we had a conversation about this on that one. :)

lol yes! And I just realized who you are :)

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #21 on: November 05, 2015, 06:13:13 PM »
My daughter just went to college, but I have been a single parent by adoption the whole time.  My advice: single parenthood is quite manageable but single home ownership is crazy...only partly joking.  I truly preferred renting.  As you get to know more people you might find a better rental deal in the area you like.  Do not feel like you have to spend money on anything because you have a "broken home."  Hopefully that feeling will fade quickly.  Celebrate the advantages of a tiny family.  Once in a while --after my daughter was school age and realized other girls' moms would say, "you'll have to check with your father..."--I would say something like, "want to go on a picnic for breakfast?"  "Yes? Great, since we agree, let's go...we don't have to ask anyone else."  Instead of looking for another gym program, just play.  As an engineer you can figure this out!  Maybe go to Home Depot for a 4x4 that's 6 feet long for him to walk on, balls to throw and kick...or get a kids yoga book and do it together.  He gets plenty of playtime with other kids at daycare.  Sorry to tell you, but my daughter does not remember the trip to Disney from when she was 4....but my Dad loved it, and died just a few years later so it was worth it.

That is a great idea about putting together a gym at home. I will definitely look into it.
I am sure he won't remember Disney when he grows up but the important part is he will enjoy it while we are there. i will enjoy seeing him happy. I guess the way i see it is anything can happen tomorrow and i dont want to regret not giving him these things when i can (Within reason of course).

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #22 on: November 05, 2015, 06:21:21 PM »
Noodle, technically i dont need to live in the school zone. This particular school is very good and they usually fill up just within the zone. They open it up to outside after the students that live in the neighborhood. It is pretty much right across the road from my work and it is very good. It is either that or live in a cheaper neighborhood and send him to private school. But majority of private schools are religious schools which i dont like. My father always told me and my sister they have done the best they can and we should aim to do even better for our kids, which i totally agree. So i am ok with paying extra either for school or rent to get him the best education i can afford. Maybe he would do just fine in a not as good school but i dont know.

There are good schools with much better house rent/sale prices but that would require a commute.

I am definitely going to check out onlineverdict.com. I also thought about tutoring but i would make a terrible teacher.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 06:22:55 PM by SKL-HOU »

LouLou

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #23 on: November 05, 2015, 09:23:50 PM »
That is a great idea about putting together a gym at home. I will definitely look into it.
I am sure he won't remember Disney when he grows up but the important part is he will enjoy it while we are there. i will enjoy seeing him happy. I guess the way i see it is anything can happen tomorrow and i dont want to regret not giving him these things when i can (Within reason of course).

No, don't go to Disney now, get out of debt, save up, and celebrate your financial turnaround by paying cash for a Disney trip two years from now when he can actually treasure those memories!  You cannot afford a Disney trip with that much debt.  And your son would also be incredibly happy in a pile of leaves or at free/discount day at your local zoo in the meantime.  (There are animals in zoos.  Kids love animals).

Take it from me.  My childhood was very unstable.  Part of that was my bad relationship with my father, who also stopped being involved.  But the rest was my mother's incessantly bad financial choices that ruined the stability that she could have honestly provided on her own.  She would spend money - out of a great and real desire to have fun and see me happy - but the moment something bad happened later (rents rising in the area, lay offs, etc), she couldn't protect me because we had no cushion.

I say enjoy life the less expensive way, become financially healthy, and have a long and prosperous life with your son.  A disney vacation that he won't remember is not worth sacrificing that.

Villanelle

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #24 on: November 05, 2015, 09:45:11 PM »
My daughter just went to college, but I have been a single parent by adoption the whole time.  My advice: single parenthood is quite manageable but single home ownership is crazy...only partly joking.  I truly preferred renting.  As you get to know more people you might find a better rental deal in the area you like.  Do not feel like you have to spend money on anything because you have a "broken home."  Hopefully that feeling will fade quickly.  Celebrate the advantages of a tiny family.  Once in a while --after my daughter was school age and realized other girls' moms would say, "you'll have to check with your father..."--I would say something like, "want to go on a picnic for breakfast?"  "Yes? Great, since we agree, let's go...we don't have to ask anyone else."  Instead of looking for another gym program, just play.  As an engineer you can figure this out!  Maybe go to Home Depot for a 4x4 that's 6 feet long for him to walk on, balls to throw and kick...or get a kids yoga book and do it together.  He gets plenty of playtime with other kids at daycare.  Sorry to tell you, but my daughter does not remember the trip to Disney from when she was 4....but my Dad loved it, and died just a few years later so it was worth it.

That is a great idea about putting together a gym at home. I will definitely look into it.
I am sure he won't remember Disney when he grows up but the important part is he will enjoy it while we are there. i will enjoy seeing him happy. I guess the way i see it is anything can happen tomorrow and i dont want to regret not giving him these things when i can (Within reason of course).

He will also enjoy a day in the park with you, tossing a ball, maybe flying some $5 (or homemade!) kites, dancing to music, doing an obstacle course you put together (for the balance work and physical activity you are looking for) and wade through with him, and activities like that.  Anything can happen tomorrow, yes.  And right now, if it happened to you, what would become of your son?  Even if you just lost your job?  You can work toward more security for him, while sacrificing *zero* happiness, especially at the younger ages.  Google "free kids activities in Houston" and see what you come up with.  See if your local library has a story time.  See if any local kids museums have free or cheap admission days.  Check pinterest and just brainstorm activities you can do for free or for less than $10.  You seem to be equating "expensive" with "happiness-inducing", when there is actually no correlation between the two for a young kid.  He just wants to spend time with you exploring his world. 

Imonaboat

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2015, 05:32:18 AM »
Internet/cable:   $70 (We watch stuff via netflix, and via the internet. This includes a wireless modem and some cable channels. It is a promotion I just signed up for. We donít really watch cable much and there arenít many channels but it was a better deal. Since we stream a lot of stuff via the internet I got a fast internet package-50 MB)

You probably don't even use the enhanced internet unless you are downloading huge programs or streaming multiple HD channels at once. You could cut this and would probably not even notice.

You can also find a modem that will work with your internet (They should have a list of modems that will work) and buy one of those for $30 instead of paying $10 a month forever.

Allison

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2015, 07:07:14 AM »
For part time work, what about doing some CAD Drafting on the side.  If you have the tools and background, every engineering firm I know is looking for drafter.  Might be a way to have part time work from home that pays decently.  A staffing agency would be a great place to start.

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2015, 07:11:16 AM »
I work and live by the galleria. So even my 1 mile commute (slightly more with daycare stop) takes a while due to crazy traffic.
  Are you physically disabled?

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2015, 07:29:03 AM »
We do the free activities and others in Houston. This is a kid who had to get physical therapy and occupational therapy when he was younger. Yes we go to the park and do other activities but I see value in a structured class where they teach them the right way to do things. I hope that makes sense.

Up until about 4 weeks ago I had slower internet and I was paying about the same (uverse). Now with Comcast I get much faster internet. I can tell the difference because while we don't download movies, we stream movies/tv shows/etc. Other than Netflix, that is what we watch. But in hindsight, I probably could have been fine with the 25 MB package. So I will check if the cost of cancellation would be worth saving $10 or if there are cheaper options. I thought about buying the modem but it was a lazy moment. I will check that out also.

I do not have AutoCAD or Revit at home and they are rather expensive programs. But I will look into this to see if I can find a company that would give me the program to do CAD. I will also check to make sure it wouldn't be conflict of interest with my current job.

Am I physically disabled? No. I guess that was sarcastic. The daycare is 1 mile one way, my work is the other way 1+ mile. So even though there is traffic, it still takes much less time to drive than to walk or bike. Besides I work at a professional job and would rather not show up sweaty or wet (this is Houston, either humidity or rain most of the time). And frankly I don't see any value in walking or biking to work. My time is more valuable than the little money I would save from gas. I get off at 5, we get home by 5:30 if we have no errands to run. If we walked, it would be past 6. There aren't enough hours in the day to justify that. Same thing in the mornings. It is already a challenge to get ready on time. I am tired all the time.

thek1d

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2015, 08:12:18 AM »
I think you are in okay shape to get this turned around. You need to focus on getting the CCs paid off because that will free up some extra cash.  I imagine your fuel estimate of 100/mo is high, considering you said you have a really short commute to work/daycare. I think your rental expense is fine because that's the sacrifice you make for not having a commute. I own a home in Cypress and bus commute downtown - 2 hour roundtrip.

It's interesting that this thread was titled "dreaming of partial/full retirement" but I don't think you mentioned a plan for that? Instead you want to buy a 400k house?! That's crazy talk! If you really want to own I think you need to look for a new career in the suburbs and then buy in that suburb, so you don't have a bad commute.

All in all, you say you have $1300 extra a month that you apply to credit cards:

1) Wells Fargo $1,420 - 1 month
2) Macy's $1,150 - 1 month
3) Citibank1 $1,520 - 1 month
4) Citibank2 $2,940 - 2.5 months
5) Cap One $1,475 - 1 month
6) Chase Slate $782 - 1 month
7) Chase Sapphire $3,349 - 3 months

Total - 10.5 months

I guess the way i see it is anything can happen tomorrow and i dont want to regret not giving him these things when i can (Within reason of course).

Personally, I hate this thought process. If anything can happen tomorrow, why bother wasting money on paying down debt? Why? Because chances are nothing will happen tomorrow and you're trying to set yourself up for long term success.

I was raised by a single mom. I can't remember any vacations we took prior to my teenage years. I can remember vacations I went on with my dad - and guess which one is out of debt? Focus on getting some financial security before blowing THOUSANDS a year on trips. You can use skype/facetime to talk to your family overseas. Drive down to the beach on the weekends if you want. Taking a 3 year old to Disney just seems crazy to me.

Villanelle

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2015, 12:33:05 PM »
We do the free activities and others in Houston. This is a kid who had to get physical therapy and occupational therapy when he was younger. Yes we go to the park and do other activities but I see value in a structured class where they teach them the right way to do things. I hope that makes sense.

Up until about 4 weeks ago I had slower internet and I was paying about the same (uverse). Now with Comcast I get much faster internet. I can tell the difference because while we don't download movies, we stream movies/tv shows/etc. Other than Netflix, that is what we watch. But in hindsight, I probably could have been fine with the 25 MB package. So I will check if the cost of cancellation would be worth saving $10 or if there are cheaper options. I thought about buying the modem but it was a lazy moment. I will check that out also.

I do not have AutoCAD or Revit at home and they are rather expensive programs. But I will look into this to see if I can find a company that would give me the program to do CAD. I will also check to make sure it wouldn't be conflict of interest with my current job.

Am I physically disabled? No. I guess that was sarcastic. The daycare is 1 mile one way, my work is the other way 1+ mile. So even though there is traffic, it still takes much less time to drive than to walk or bike. Besides I work at a professional job and would rather not show up sweaty or wet (this is Houston, either humidity or rain most of the time). And frankly I don't see any value in walking or biking to work. My time is more valuable than the little money I would save from gas. I get off at 5, we get home by 5:30 if we have no errands to run. If we walked, it would be past 6. There aren't enough hours in the day to justify that. Same thing in the mornings. It is already a challenge to get ready on time. I am tired all the time.

If he truly needs the structure of Little Gym because of his difficulties, he probably still qualifies to OT services, which would likely be free or very low cost (assuming you have decent insurance). 

If you don't want to make changes, that's fine.  But mostly, you seem to have a lot of excuses.  You don't see the value in "justifying" a walk home, and yet in the same post you are talking about spending time with your son, getting more exercise for him, etc.  Of course he can't walk a mile at age 4, but he can certainly walk an occasional half block, even if that slows you down and you don't get home until 615.  With a change of clothes at work and a jogging stroller (used), you could jog some of that distance and make up the time.  (I believe MMM has a post on the whole "I'd get too sweaty if I biked" thing, and biking 2 miles is unlikely to leave you super sweaty.  Some baby wipes in your office should more than suffice.) And as you walk (or jog, or bike) you can be talking to him and pointing out things on the street and asking about his day and teaching him new words and singing songs and teaching him to make exercise part of his daily life.  You don't see value in that, but you do see value in a $90 class tuition and a trip to Disneyland? It might take more effort on your part than it does to let the gym staff and Mickey Mouse do the planning, but don't pretend there aren't ways to make this work and still meet your stated goals.  If you don't want to do those things, that's fine, but recognize that it is a *choice*, not that there is no other way.  And that the choice you are making is delaying paying off your debt and getting yourself in a better financial situation, both for yourself and your son. 

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #31 on: November 06, 2015, 01:13:14 PM »
I have not mentioned a plan for retirement, partial or full, because my priority before I can even plan for it is to get out of debt. And I am not 100% sure on what I want. I want the house in the neighborhood but I don't want the payments that comes along with that and if I get a house that expensive, that pretty much stops me from partial or full retirement. So my current plan is to pay off CCs while continuing to rent. When I am out of debt and have some money saved, I will come back to house purchase and re-assess. Maybe I will buy further out or maybe I will buy as a rental property but for now I don't have a plan regarding house purchase.

I somewhat agree on the expensive trip and its timing being wrong. My initial reaction when my sister mentioned the trip was maybe we will go, then we started talking more and decided this would pretty much be the only time for a while we can do this. My nephew is 1.5 years older than my son. Both my son and nephew are shy boys but they do really well with each other. Unfortunately they don't get to spend much time with each other being 6000 miles apart. He is starting 1st grade next year and my son will be in pre-k. They will have different holidays, spring breaks. So that leaves the summer. In the summer plane tickets cost twice as much. That is my thought process behind why agreed to go on the trip. If we didn't go on that trip, we would go to home country to see my parents and sister and nephew in the summer which would be more expensive. Yes we can video chat and we already do every week but it is not the same thing. My son was with my parents for a few months at the beginning of the year and believe me when I tell you seeing each other on the screen was much different than being with each other. He is already growing up without much family around so while the trips back home are expensive, they are a necessity for a good relationship with my family, better for his emotional health to be around more than one person that loves him as much as I do.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #32 on: November 06, 2015, 01:23:20 PM »
We do the free activities and others in Houston. This is a kid who had to get physical therapy and occupational therapy when he was younger. Yes we go to the park and do other activities but I see value in a structured class where they teach them the right way to do things. I hope that makes sense.

Up until about 4 weeks ago I had slower internet and I was paying about the same (uverse). Now with Comcast I get much faster internet. I can tell the difference because while we don't download movies, we stream movies/tv shows/etc. Other than Netflix, that is what we watch. But in hindsight, I probably could have been fine with the 25 MB package. So I will check if the cost of cancellation would be worth saving $10 or if there are cheaper options. I thought about buying the modem but it was a lazy moment. I will check that out also.

I do not have AutoCAD or Revit at home and they are rather expensive programs. But I will look into this to see if I can find a company that would give me the program to do CAD. I will also check to make sure it wouldn't be conflict of interest with my current job.

Am I physically disabled? No. I guess that was sarcastic. The daycare is 1 mile one way, my work is the other way 1+ mile. So even though there is traffic, it still takes much less time to drive than to walk or bike. Besides I work at a professional job and would rather not show up sweaty or wet (this is Houston, either humidity or rain most of the time). And frankly I don't see any value in walking or biking to work. My time is more valuable than the little money I would save from gas. I get off at 5, we get home by 5:30 if we have no errands to run. If we walked, it would be past 6. There aren't enough hours in the day to justify that. Same thing in the mornings. It is already a challenge to get ready on time. I am tired all the time.

If he truly needs the structure of Little Gym because of his difficulties, he probably still qualifies to OT services, which would likely be free or very low cost (assuming you have decent insurance). 

If you don't want to make changes, that's fine.  But mostly, you seem to have a lot of excuses.  You don't see the value in "justifying" a walk home, and yet in the same post you are talking about spending time with your son, getting more exercise for him, etc.  Of course he can't walk a mile at age 4, but he can certainly walk an occasional half block, even if that slows you down and you don't get home until 615.  With a change of clothes at work and a jogging stroller (used), you could jog some of that distance and make up the time.  (I believe MMM has a post on the whole "I'd get too sweaty if I biked" thing, and biking 2 miles is unlikely to leave you super sweaty.  Some baby wipes in your office should more than suffice.) And as you walk (or jog, or bike) you can be talking to him and pointing out things on the street and asking about his day and teaching him new words and singing songs and teaching him to make exercise part of his daily life.  You don't see value in that, but you do see value in a $90 class tuition and a trip to Disneyland? It might take more effort on your part than it does to let the gym staff and Mickey Mouse do the planning, but don't pretend there aren't ways to make this work and still meet your stated goals.  If you don't want to do those things, that's fine, but recognize that it is a *choice*, not that there is no other way.  And that the choice you are making is delaying paying off your debt and getting yourself in a better financial situation, both for yourself and your son.

He does not qualify for state sponsored OT/PT because he is over age 3 plus he would not qualify because he is capable of doing enough. Before he turned 3, he was getting speech therapy and I was paying $300+/month through the state. I could certainly do the PT/OT through private provider through insurance but my insurance is high deductible and next year's deductible is $5000. He does not need PT or OT. He just needs to learn to be more active.

I understand why you think I am full of excuses and I do have excuses. But I guess I am little different than most of the people on this forum where I am not trying to live as cheap as possible forever. I want to have a good balance now and later. I don't have to take my son to Disney, or the park , or buy him anything but I choose to because while he will not remember, the things we do together whether they are free or not will be a part of who he is. He does not care that Disney costs money or not but I know he would love spending this time with his nephew, he loves a bunch of Disney characters and I make decent money, I will not go into debt for this trip. So why would I not? If I was within a few years of retirement, I would possibly things like this trip but I am realistically still pretty far off (even without the trip). This is my one and only child.

Edited to add: About my excuses... Most of the things mentioned are things I have already considered and while I try to explain my reasoning there is a whole lot more to it than what I can just write here without writing a whole book.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 01:32:55 PM by SKL-HOU »

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #33 on: November 06, 2015, 01:41:13 PM »
I would like to thank everyone for the opinions and suggestions. So this is my plan going forward:

1. Nail down miscellaneous and grocery spending and reduce.
2. Pay off credit cards aggressively.
3. 6% to 401k until debts are paid off, no HSA contribution. I can always go back and put in after tax and take the tax deduction.
4. Freeze all trips (except for the already paid for Disney trip).
5. Look into other options than the Little Gym, possibly build a similar set up at home (we have the room indoors and outdoors).
6. Look into CAD work as side income.
7. Look into online verdict site for side income.
8. Get a wireless modem and eliminate cost from internet. Look at other packages and see if it makes sense to downgrade from cost vs penalty.
9. After CCs are paid off, save save save.
10. The rest will come as my situation evolves but a potential house purchase or rental purchase.

mm1970

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #34 on: November 06, 2015, 02:42:19 PM »
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Am I physically disabled? No. I guess that was sarcastic. The daycare is 1 mile one way, my work is the other way 1+ mile. So even though there is traffic, it still takes much less time to drive than to walk or bike. Besides I work at a professional job and would rather not show up sweaty or wet (this is Houston, either humidity or rain most of the time). And frankly I don't see any value in walking or biking to work. My time is more valuable than the little money I would save from gas. I get off at 5, we get home by 5:30 if we have no errands to run. If we walked, it would be past 6. There aren't enough hours in the day to justify that. Same thing in the mornings. It is already a challenge to get ready on time. I am tired all the time.

It might not be a bad idea to consider it though. 

I used to ride my bike to work a couple of days a week.  10 miles, about 50 minutes one way.  I even did it a bit after having my son (but not until he was weaned!)

So, it actually was relaxing and saved me time.

Driving:
15 minutes each way = 30 minutes
Separate Exercise = 45 minutes
Total time = 1 hour 15 minutes

Biking: (note I only biked in one direction)
Biking: 50 minutes (all exercise!)
Driving: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 5 minutes

So, you could keep an eye on the weather and maybe just do it once a week?  I found it very relaxing.  You know, pick a day (for me, Friday, when I know we are having leftovers or frozen pizza for dinner).

So if you are walking, then you are looking at:
1 mile to daycare
2 miles to work
Total of 3 miles (approximately), or one hour.
If you do it 2x a day, that's 6 miles, or about 2 hours.  But you don't have to do it every day.

And you mentioned that everything is in the opposite direction from the house (work/ daycare). So how about:
Walk 1 mile to daycare, and 1 mile home (2 miles, 40 minutes).
Drive to work (1 mile)
Drive to to the afternoon pickup.
(There you just added 40 minutes of exercise, and reduced your driving by 1/3).

Or:
Walk 1 mile to daycare, 1 mile home
Drive to work
Drive home
Walk the 2 mile RT to daycare
Then you are walking 4 miles (1 hr 10 min)

Again, you don't have to do it every day, and you don't have to do the whole trip. 

As someone who (at times) walked to work, or biked to work, and now don't (because I have two kids and two pickups at two different places - total of an hour), I miss it.  Each week I try and think of how I can squeeze it in again.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #35 on: November 06, 2015, 03:48:23 PM »
Ok since everyone seems to be insisting on walking/biking option:

First of all, i am not that great of a biker to ride a bike, especially with a toddler in tow. So walking is an option. But help me understand what that eould accomplish. My total commute hone-daycare-work in the morning and work-daycare-home probably adds up to about 5-6 miles. We'll go with 6 as worse case. A typical month has 20 work days. That is 120 miles a month. My gas mileage sucks so 12 miles/gal, gas is a little over $2/gal, let's say $2.5/gal. So 10 gallons for my work commute is about $25. How do i justify an added about hour to my commute everyday, total of 20 hours a month for a $25 savings? That is not even $1/hour. Yes there are other benefits to health. But i would have to rush even more in the morning, have less time to do things at night. Grocery run is usually incorporated into my commute so i'd have to go home, get the car and go back to the store. Plus i'd feel icky all day, baby wipes wouldn't do it for me.

Orvell

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #36 on: November 06, 2015, 03:56:02 PM »
Ok since everyone seems to be insisting on walking/biking option:

First of all, i am not that great of a biker to ride a bike, especially with a toddler in tow. So walking is an option. But help me understand what that eould accomplish. My total commute hone-daycare-work in the morning and work-daycare-home probably adds up to about 5-6 miles. We'll go with 6 as worse case. A typical month has 20 work days. That is 120 miles a month. My gas mileage sucks so 12 miles/gal, gas is a little over $2/gal, let's say $2.5/gal. So 10 gallons for my work commute is about $25. How do i justify an added about hour to my commute everyday, total of 20 hours a month for a $25 savings? That is not even $1/hour. Yes there are other benefits to health. But i would have to rush even more in the morning, have less time to do things at night. Grocery run is usually incorporated into my commute so i'd have to go home, get the car and go back to the store. Plus i'd feel icky all day, baby wipes wouldn't do it for me.
Obviously you get to do what you want with your life. And that includes driving. :) But this is the type of advice and suggestion you're going to get from this site.

Personally, I can't imagine living 1 mile away from work and not commuting by people-power while physically able to do so. I currently walk my mile, because I live in the north and frankly walking is easier in snow than biking.

Do what you got to do, but just try to open your mind a little that there ARE options out there that bust the mold. Presumably that is why you came to this site. The walking/driving is just one example, but I think you are fighting these suggestions rather than listening to them. If they don't work for you, that's totally fine! Everyone seriously does get to live their life... but part of asking for advice is listening, and actually thinking about it, not just gut-reaction-no :)

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #37 on: November 06, 2015, 04:02:40 PM »
Yes i definitely came here for suggestions and i have received some really good ones. You don't live so close to work and not consider walking to work :) And i have considered even prior to this site. I understand this is the type of advice i would get but this seems to be just a general one-size advice for everyone. I explained why it doesnt fit my life, at least currently. It is not a gut-reaction no. Like i said i have considered and even walked to work on a couple of occasions.

lhamo

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #38 on: November 06, 2015, 04:19:15 PM »
Ok since everyone seems to be insisting on walking/biking option:

First of all, i am not that great of a biker to ride a bike, especially with a toddler in tow. So walking is an option. But help me understand what that eould accomplish. My total commute hone-daycare-work in the morning and work-daycare-home probably adds up to about 5-6 miles. We'll go with 6 as worse case. A typical month has 20 work days. That is 120 miles a month. My gas mileage sucks so 12 miles/gal, gas is a little over $2/gal, let's say $2.5/gal. So 10 gallons for my work commute is about $25. How do i justify an added about hour to my commute everyday, total of 20 hours a month for a $25 savings? That is not even $1/hour. Yes there are other benefits to health. But i would have to rush even more in the morning, have less time to do things at night. Grocery run is usually incorporated into my commute so i'd have to go home, get the car and go back to the store. Plus i'd feel icky all day, baby wipes wouldn't do it for me.

Great to see you thinking this through at the level of detail you need to in order to maximize your use of both your time and money!

So, let's push it a bit further:  if your commute only costs $25/month and you are also picking up groceries on most of those trips, where is the rest of the $100/month gas budget going?  Can you reduce your non-essential driving in order to save some money there?  Given that you are paying a premium to live in your neighborhood, see how much you can limit your driving so that you can actually enjoy the benefits it provides.  I bet if you put your mind to it you could bring the monthly gas budget to $50. 

mm1970

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #39 on: November 06, 2015, 04:23:20 PM »
Ok since everyone seems to be insisting on walking/biking option:

First of all, i am not that great of a biker to ride a bike, especially with a toddler in tow. So walking is an option. But help me understand what that eould accomplish. My total commute hone-daycare-work in the morning and work-daycare-home probably adds up to about 5-6 miles. We'll go with 6 as worse case. A typical month has 20 work days. That is 120 miles a month. My gas mileage sucks so 12 miles/gal, gas is a little over $2/gal, let's say $2.5/gal. So 10 gallons for my work commute is about $25. How do i justify an added about hour to my commute everyday, total of 20 hours a month for a $25 savings? That is not even $1/hour. Yes there are other benefits to health. But i would have to rush even more in the morning, have less time to do things at night. Grocery run is usually incorporated into my commute so i'd have to go home, get the car and go back to the store. Plus i'd feel icky all day, baby wipes wouldn't do it for me.
Again, I'm not suggesting that you do it every day.  I'm also suggesting walking not biking.  I even noted that if I were you, I wouldn't even walk the whole commute, I'd maybe only do part of it.  And probably only one day a week.  Really, I'd walk in the morning to daycare and back home, then get the car for the rest of the day.

Will it save you a lot of money?  Probably not.  But it will help you slow down.  I know it seems counter-intuitive because you are "losing time".  I recently started walking my kid to school one day a week.  It's 0.75 miles one way.  So it takes 20 mins to get there (the kids are slow!) and 15 minutes to get back.  Yes, it's an extra 30 minutes.  But 20 of those are with my kid and his friends.  So I get to listen to them and talk to them.  I've noticed it's really helped me relax a bit about life and all.  It's hard to explain.

Last year I never went to the school.  Maybe 3 times?  I was at work at 7:30 am and picked my kid up at 5:20 pm.  I was so hyper sensitive to being efficient.  This year I'm forcing myself to chill out a bit.

rpr

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #40 on: November 06, 2015, 04:42:52 PM »

Will it save you a lot of money?  Probably not.  But it will help you slow down.  I know it seems counter-intuitive because you are "losing time".  I recently started walking my kid to school one day a week.  It's 0.75 miles one way.  So it takes 20 mins to get there (the kids are slow!) and 15 minutes to get back.  Yes, it's an extra 30 minutes.  But 20 of those are with my kid and his friends.  So I get to listen to them and talk to them.  I've noticed it's really helped me relax a bit about life and all. It's hard to explain.

Last year I never went to the school.  Maybe 3 times?  I was at work at 7:30 am and picked my kid up at 5:20 pm.  I was so hyper sensitive to being efficient.  This year I'm forcing myself to chill out a bit.

mm1970: I totally agree with this. Walking is  a fantastic combo -- you can relax and exercise at the same time :)

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #41 on: November 06, 2015, 04:43:52 PM »
To be honest not sure where the rest of the gas goes. We certainly do other activities that require driving, doctor's visits, etc. $100 is just an estimate probably on the high side. I will start tracking this better and try to combine trips. I need to get better at planning overall.

Again, on the issue of walking... Even partial walking increases my commute time. I could possibly deal with it at night but i have no time in the mornings to add. Next year when he goes to school, that is actually when i can seriously consider walking because school would be directly on my way and more convenient, less time consuming.

I hope you all don't think i am just opposing every suggestion. I appreciate everything you are saying. Just some of the typical advice might not fit my life at the moment. I've been reading mmm for a while so most of this is exactly what i expected. I guess i may need more direction on how to proceed after CCs are paid off to pursue my dream, ie max HSA, 401k, purchase rental, some other investment, etc.

Villanelle

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #42 on: November 06, 2015, 04:44:22 PM »
You said you won't go in to debt for this trip.  Yes, you will.  You have debt, and instead of paying it off, you allow it to continue to accumulate interest so you can go to Disneyland.  So this Disney trip costs you whatever you pay for it, plus whatever interest accrues on your debt for the additional time you have the amount that you could have paid off with the Disney money.

You seem fine with sticking mostly with what you are doing.  Cool.  Despite your comment to the contrary, this forum isn't actually full of people who want to save every penny in every way.  I spend a lot of money on a lot of things.  But I am also not in debt.  And I am not at all dissatisfied with where I am financially.  You clearly are, or you wouldn't have posted this.  If you liked where you were, then Disney and debt and driving every day despite a very walkable commute, and everything else would be fine.  But you don't like where you are, and yet you aren't willing to change anything that might feel even a bit like sacrifice.  That's pretty much the definition of complainy-pants.  You want different things, but you don't want to give up anything you want or that is easy or comfortable.  So decide which is more important.  Financial security for you and your son (because, as you point out, you never know what could happen tomorrow including disability, illness, job loss, death of your son's sole provider, etc.), or not having to walk, planning your own enrichment activities for your son (you've been going to Little Gym long enough that it should be easy enough to copy), finding other friends for your son (even if it takes work due t his shyness; many many kids live across the country or world from their extended family and do just fine because they only feel it is wrong if their parent gives them that impression.  Otherwise, they will consider what they have to simply be normal), and other suggestions.

Again, do what you want to do.  But don't pretend there aren't other options or that you are somehow depriving your child if you do things differently.  Recognize that you are making *choices*, even when there are other perfectly valid options.  If you are okay with that, cool.  Keep on keeping on.  If you aren't don't create lies to yourself about how there is no other way. 

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #43 on: November 06, 2015, 04:46:59 PM »
I dont think the walk would help me chill, it woukd just make me more anxious. However, one thing i have recently started doing to feel more relaxed is i stopped planning all the things that need to get done on the weekends. I was never getting to do all of them and that was giving me anxiety so i stopped planning. I do things as i feel like doing them, which motivates me better.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #44 on: November 06, 2015, 04:56:29 PM »
Villanella, i hardly think a maximum savings of $25/mo will make a difference in my financial security. That savings at a greater cost than the $25 that would save me.
He has been going to the little gym for about 3 weeks so i wouldnt say long enough to copy anything.
Disney trip is already paid for. So i should lose $1500 for the flight? I already said i will put future trips on hold until i am out of debt. I am not sure what else i can do at this point.
As for my son and extended family... it is very easy to judge by just a few posts. However, without writing my whole life's story i dont think you can judge if my son can do fine or that i give him that impression. i have read the same posts about the walking and disney several times and responded to all with my reasons. It is not that i am not willing to change anything, i am willing to change things that make sense and that have value. Walking at this point is not one of them. Disney is paid for so not much to do about that.

Edited to add: About your other suggestions above... We already do the story times. I have the kids activities in houston as a short cut on my computer and do those activities regularly. We take walks with or without our dogs around the neighborhood, just opposed to walking to work in a time crunch when i already barely get to work on time. Both my son and i sweat easily. Even when i lived in the midwest, in the winters i would have a fan blowing on me while drying my hair. I get hot just walking from house to the car. So i am not saying these things just to oppose suggestions or because i dont want to change things or to be complainypants. You can appreciate that not all of the same advice you give everyone will suit them.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2015, 05:15:08 PM by SKL-HOU »

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #45 on: November 07, 2015, 06:39:20 AM »
You have a six figure income.  You live a mile from work.  You could be retired in 10 years.  Instead, you travel out of the country, including taking a three year old, who will not remember it, to Disney in Paris.  You live the life of a billionaire.
1.   Should I max HSA for tax purposes or any other reason next year?
  No, that is, not unless you think you will need that amount for ongoing medical expenses for you or your son.

Quote
2.   Should I max 401k even though I am still paying off debt? I know this is typically not the advice but I was
wondering if it would be a good idea to reduce my taxable income so I can get the child tax credit even if it is partial.
  No.  Your hair is on fire.  Please read or re-read this article.  http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2012/04/18/news-flash-your-debt-is-an-emergency/ 

Quote
3.   How should I plan for the short term and long term financially?
   You are smart, or you would not have a six figure income.  Start looking around at ways to maximize your life and live efficiently.  As I am typing, it is 70 degrees in Houston.  Stop feeding us crap about how sweaty you would get walking in 70 degree weather.  Monday is supposed to be 61 as a low in the morning.  Wake up.

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4.   Should I buy a house? Continue renting? Is it ridiculous to buy where I currently live at outrages prices? Or should I trade cost with commute? It already feels like I have no time to do anything without added commute.
  No, you should not buy a house.  Your finances are a mess.  Please read or re-read - http://jlcollinsnh.com/2013/05/29/why-your-house-is-a-terrible-investment/ and http://jlcollinsnh.com/2012/02/23/rent-v-owning-your-home-opportunity-cost-and-running-some-numbers/

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5.   Any other suggestions/comments?
  Rent a smaller place.  Take on room mates.  Turn off the HVAC (you live in Houston, and it's November).  Start walking/biking.  Try no driving in November.  See if you can put that hundred bucks for gas into your debt snowball.  Look for ways to cut your $800 trip to the grocery store (I have a family of five and do not spend that!  And I eat at least a pound and a half of meat a day, unlike all the rice and beans vegetarians on this web site, and, yes, my grocery store runs include more than food, just like you and everybody else in the world).  I am assuming you already pack a lunch to work every day.  No going out or doing anything with a babysitter until your debt is paid off.  Focus and determination.

Disney trip is paid for?  You paid for $1500 tickets.  That is all, right?  You estimate $4000 for the trip in total in your original post.  Sorry to say it, but, yes, you are better off losing the $1500 tickets and not losing the entire $4000.  Simple math.  The difference is $2500, which is not insignificant.  Just because you made a stupid decision does not mean you should lose even more money on frivolity.

But let's pretend that all of your options in the entire world are (A) lose $1500 plane tickets or (B) Spend thousands more on frivolity while in credit card debt.  Do something else with the tickets.   Sell them.  Craigslist.  Give them away as a gift.  Talk to the airline about any other options you may have.  It is a long ways away . . . you are 100% certain they are nonrefundable?

Your life is brimming over with luxury like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, transAtlantic flights and Disney Paris . . . really?  So, if it is non-negotiable for you to take a kid who will not remember it to Disney in Europe, stop whining about how $4000 of credit card debt seems sticky and hard to get rid of.   You are making choices here.

I am the one who asked if you were physically disabled, and NO, it was not sarcastic.  I wanted to know.  If you were disabled, I was not going to ask why in the hell you are driving one mile to work and one mile to daycare.  Maybe you need a walker or experience terrible pain when supporting your weight on your legs.  I did not want to be insensitive.  I just had a hard time imagining why a healthy person would not want to walk a mile on a nice day with temperatures in the 60s.

Bottom line - you make a six figure income and live a mile from work.  There are lots of ways to work this out and FIRE in a very short time period. None of those ways involve the choices you have been making so far with respect to spending, transportation, foregoing child support, travel, groceries, and much more.

If you want to change, then you must change.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 07:03:51 AM by Malum Prohibitum »

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #46 on: November 07, 2015, 06:45:12 AM »
Villanella, i hardly think a maximum savings of $25/mo will make a difference in my financial security.
  You did NOT estimate your gasoline spending per month in your gigantic SUV with a V8 at $25.  It was, instead a three figure sum.  In addition, you do realize that there is MORE to the cost of driving than gasoline, right?  It is a mistake only to calculate the actual cost of the gas you burn and run out the tailpipe while idling in traffic on your little one mile commute as the only expense to driving.  You are vastly underestimating the cost.

Why feed us BS?  We do not know you.  Stop being so defensive.

And twenty five bucks is twenty five bucks.  That's $3000 every ten years.  Twenty five bucks is money you earned and should keep rather than throwing away.  And that is just your (lowball) estimate for one simple change.  Another change for a few more bucks, and another, just eking out efficiency, a little here, and a little there, and soon it adds up.

And do not forget the health benefits of using your legs.  This could be a beneficial change for you, and enjoyable one, especially now that the weather has cooled off.

No, I would not walk in July in Houston.  I get it.  But it's November.  Next month is December . . .
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 06:49:03 AM by Malum Prohibitum »

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #47 on: November 07, 2015, 06:53:44 AM »
Please take into consideration that I am considering purchasing a new/used vehicle in the upcoming year.
  What?
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My long term goal is to get to a point where I have enough savings (not sure how much) where I donít worry about a job but I would continue working PT at my job. We have 20 or 30 hour options at work, the pay obviously would be less but even at 20 hours it will be at least $50k. I wish I could do this now so I could spend more time with my son while he is young.
  Then start making the choices that will get you there.  Excuses are great, but they accomplish little.

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #48 on: November 07, 2015, 07:02:32 AM »
To be honest not sure where the rest of the gas goes.
Out your tail pipe.  It is a mistake to calculate mileage using the dashboard computer.  It cannot possibly account for your style of driving, which is starting the car every mile.  It takes a lot of gasoline to start a cold engine.  The onboard computer accounts for this for people who drive normally, several miles, warming up the car to full operating temperature and buzzing down the interstate at 70 mph.  It does not account for starting a cold engine, idling for a mile in sluggish stop and go traffic, and shutting it off, only to start it again cold and drive another mile.  It also takes a lot of gasoline to idle in traffic.

In other words, you are probably doing significantly worse than the 15 mpg you guestimated.

Twenty five bucks is off, as in too low.  It also does not account for the other costs of driving (ever buy tires for that rig?).


SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #49 on: November 07, 2015, 08:53:45 AM »
Ok we will walk/bike everywhere and won't go to Disney. Ok?