Author Topic: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement  (Read 16803 times)

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #50 on: November 07, 2015, 09:22:07 AM »
Ok we will walk/bike everywhere and won't go to Disney. Ok?
  As you wish, SKL-HOU.  It is your life, your finances, and your goals.  The means of reaching your goal is a decision only you can make.  If you do not like my suggestions, then please feel free to discard them.  I just do not see how the numbers work if you include transatlantic European vacations.  If you can make it work, then great.  You make a lot of money, much more than most single parent households.  These dollars are yours to do with as you wish.

My suggestions were not intended to be offensive.  Take the ones you find useful in meeting your goal and ignore the rest.

Cpa Cat

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #51 on: November 07, 2015, 09:43:05 AM »
Your low hanging fruit for cutting spending are groceries/misc, travel, and internet/cable (maybe - is this under contract?).


Groceries: Even with some specialty items, your groceries/misc are total insanity. You need to get a firm hold on where that money is going. How much do you pay per meal? How much is your lunch costing you?

What are you actually paying for vet/shots/pet food? Are there cheaper alternatives? Have you priced out other vets? Other food?

It seems like you already plan to tackle this - as you do that, make sure you're budgeting per meal. Look up $5 Dinner Mom and other cheap eats sites. Really put thought into your lunch meals and figure out how to bring that down.

Travel: It's been covered. You know how it goes. $4,000 PLUS a beach vacation or a cruise?? That's crazy talk. Maybe find a way to compromise - you can likely pay a minor fee to re-assign your tickets so that you meet your family in your home country instead of going to Paris first. Nix the beach vacation or cruise. The purpose of your trip is to see your family, not do a bunch of fancy stuff!

My family lives out of the country, too. It can be expensive to visit. When I was a child, I lived in Canada and my grandparents/family lived in the UK. We went to England once every 5 years or so. It was fine. Now I live in the States and my immediate family lives in Canada, and I see them once every 3 years. It's fine.

For you, it looks like $4,000+ a year on vacation travel. Make the currently planned trip cheaper, and forego more travel - don't go more than once every other year, and save your money. When your child gets older and your debt is paid and your savings is in a better place, add in another vacation with just him and you where you go somewhere fun in the States. We have Disney in the USA.

Internet/Cable: By your own admission, you're not really using the cable. You're probably not using the high speed internet. Anyway, no matter how good the deal is, you'd probably pay less for stand-alone internet. If this isn't under contract, go down to internet only + netflix  and shop around while dropping your internet speed a notch. Maybe you'll save $30-$40/month? Small potatoes, but right now you're spending that $30 on something that adds literally nothing to your life. Dropping it will add $360-$480 to your debt repayment over the next 12 months, and that's nothing to sneeze at when you have five figure credit card debt.

P.S. The Car: You should reconsider buying a newer car. You barely truly need to drive the one you have. Why would you need a newer car in order to drive 1 mile to work, 1 mile to daycare, and (I'm guessing) 1 mile to the grocery store? Your car serves a function: to drive you 2 miles round trip wherever you go. You don't need anything fancy for that. You barely even need a reliable vehicle, but I understand why you'd want one. When you drive your current vehicle into the ground, spend $5,000 tops on a new car with better gas mileage.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #52 on: November 07, 2015, 09:51:57 AM »
Your low hanging fruit for cutting spending are groceries/misc, travel, and internet/cable (maybe - is this under contract?).


Groceries: Even with some specialty items, your groceries/misc are total insanity. You need to get a firm hold on where that money is going. How much do you pay per meal? How much is your lunch costing you?

What are you actually paying for vet/shots/pet food? Are there cheaper alternatives? Have you priced out other vets? Other food?

It seems like you already plan to tackle this - as you do that, make sure you're budgeting per meal. Look up $5 Dinner Mom and other cheap eats sites. Really put thought into your lunch meals and figure out how to bring that down.

Travel: It's been covered. You know how it goes. $4,000 PLUS a beach vacation or a cruise?? That's crazy talk. Maybe find a way to compromise - you can likely pay a minor fee to re-assign your tickets so that you meet your family in your home country instead of going to Paris first. Nix the beach vacation or cruise. The purpose of your trip is to see your family, not do a bunch of fancy stuff!

My family lives out of the country, too. It can be expensive to visit. When I was a child, I lived in Canada and my grandparents/family lived in the UK. We went to England once every 5 years or so. It was fine. Now I live in the States and my immediate family lives in Canada, and I see them once every 3 years. It's fine.

For you, it looks like $4,000+ a year on vacation travel. Make the currently planned trip cheaper, and forego more travel - don't go more than once every other year, and save your money. When your child gets older and your debt is paid and your savings is in a better place, add in another vacation with just him and you where you go somewhere fun in the States. We have Disney in the USA.

Internet/Cable: By your own admission, you're not really using the cable. You're probably not using the high speed internet. Anyway, no matter how good the deal is, you'd probably pay less for stand-alone internet. If this isn't under contract, go down to internet only + netflix  and shop around while dropping your internet speed a notch. Maybe you'll save $30-$40/month? Small potatoes, but right now you're spending that $30 on something that adds literally nothing to your life. Dropping it will add $360-$480 to your debt repayment over the next 12 months, and that's nothing to sneeze at when you have five figure credit card debt.

P.S. The Car: You should reconsider buying a newer car. You barely truly need to drive the one you have. Why would you need a newer car in order to drive 1 mile to work, 1 mile to daycare, and (I'm guessing) 1 mile to the grocery store? Your car serves a function: to drive you 2 miles round trip wherever you go. You don't need anything fancy for that. You barely even need a reliable vehicle, but I understand why you'd want one. When you drive your current vehicle into the ground, spend $5,000 tops on a new car with better gas mileage.

Thank you for the comments. Yes figuring out and lowering the grocery/misc category is at the top of my list. Unfortunately cable has a 1-year contract but i will buy a modem and save the $10 plus i will see if i can downgrade the internet speed and get rid of cable part without costing more than the cost to wait til the end of contract.

The other vacation idea was really just as a consideration. So definitely no other vacations.

The car purchase is something i've been thinking on and off for a few months. I couldnt pull the trigger on it because i didnt really see a reason other than just wanting one. I guess i was looking for more of a confirmation as to how unnecessary it is. The only immediate thing i need to do is get the ac charged and take care of the check engine light before inspection at the end of the year. I have a good and not very costly solution/ideas for both.

rpr

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #53 on: November 07, 2015, 10:33:30 AM »
OP: You have received lots of responses and suggestions. Some of those may be applicable to you and others not. Since we don't know you, the suggestions will be somewhat generic. You already seem to have figured out that you need to improve in some areas. That is great. Rationally examine every single area of spending with a critical view towards the long term. Question yourself objectively whenever it seems like you are justifying something.

Your situation is actually quite good and as others have pointed out, there is a lot of low hanging fruit.  Furthermore, you have a decent sized shovel to dig you out of your debt hole. A good income with a surplus of $1300 to put towards eliminating debt and/or increasing savings. As a first step, try tracking just your CC balance every month. It should come down by at least $1300 minus any interest. Therefore, after 4 months, your CC balance must be down by at least $5000. Track this zealously every month.

Best wishes! You can do it.

soupcxan

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #54 on: November 07, 2015, 10:41:27 AM »
You do not need to spend $5k on a lawyer to pursue this deadbeat for child support. The state of Texas will do it for you (see link below). If he owns his home then he has assets. You are doing your child a disservice by not filing for this. Divorce happens but you cannot just abandon your kid financially.

https://childsupport.oag.state.tx.us/wps/portal/csi/ApplyOnline

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #55 on: November 07, 2015, 11:10:35 AM »
You do not need to spend $5k on a lawyer to pursue this deadbeat for child support. The state of Texas will do it for you (see link below). If he owns his home then he has assets. You are doing your child a disservice by not filing for this. Divorce happens but you cannot just abandon your kid financially.

https://childsupport.oag.state.tx.us/wps/portal/csi/ApplyOnline

The divorce was in Missouri. I spoke with my lawyer and at this point it is not worth it because there is the risk of costing more. Missouri state can apply to adjust CS if i show a change in circumstances or every 3 years. However, since we did not stick to form 14 and the judge approved a change, they cant do it, i have to go through court. If i do that, i would not represent myself because i would want the best outcome. It seems retarded but apparently there is the risk of me getting stuck with transportation costs if he asks for visitation and he most definitely will if i ask for CS. MO is very much different than TX.
CS does not go by assets, it is by income. My estimation is he makes about a third of what i make currently, if that. If i fill out form 14 without including daycare (typical), it would be maybe 300, i dont recall exact numbers. even including daycare it is a little more. He has 2 kids from his previous marriage that he pays CS for, carries insurance, etc so that makes a difference too. It is very unfair but i have considered this, researched this extensively and at this point it is not worth it financially ( could even hurt us) and definitely not emotionally. Otherwise i would be all over it!

soupcxan

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #56 on: November 07, 2015, 12:12:03 PM »
The divorce was in Missouri.

The child and you live in Texas. Texas now has jurisdiction, not Missouri.

You could fill out the Texas form for free and see what happens, but it sounds all the facts in the world aren't going to change your opinion.

LadyMaWhiskers

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #57 on: November 07, 2015, 12:16:16 PM »
Fellow single mom here who admittedly hasn't read all the other comments in detail.

Firstly, you're doing a good job. It's hard to find breathing room being a single parent. It sounds like you don't beat yourself up too much, and that's good. No need to feel beat up by Internet strangers either. Mustachians mean well, and they are going to raise hell if you go to Disney and drive  a mile to work. Oh wel.

Secondly, did you consider a renter? I didn't read all the comments. If you live in a single family house with just one kid, it might be feasible and add several hundred per month to your debt payoff equation. Maybe even get another single parent or fur baby parent and swap some caregiving.

Good luck! You're already doing it!

Malum Prohibitum

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #58 on: November 07, 2015, 12:28:09 PM »
The divorce was in Missouri.

The child and you live in Texas. Texas now has jurisdiction, not Missouri.
Over her and the child, but not over the father.  Personal jurisdiction is a constitutional issue.  http://www.lsnjlaw.org/Family-Relationships/Child-Support/General-Information/Pages/Child-Support-Issues-For-Parents-Living-In-Different-States.aspx#.Vj5QNkuRYpE

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #59 on: November 07, 2015, 02:36:02 PM »
The divorce was finalized in MO. It takes more than just filing for CS in TX to move the file here. And in TX the CS would even be less because he has 2 prior kids who get priority in CS.

I can't take in a renter. I am a renter myself. If i had room, the option would be to ask the landlord to add a renter but i do not know anyone that i would be ok living with that needs a place. I am not going to let just anyone of the street live in a house with me and my child. Plus my mom comes and stays with us for a few months to help out and to spend time with my son. So when she comes (no current plans), i will look into PT work for extra income.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #60 on: November 07, 2015, 02:41:20 PM »
The divorce was in Missouri.

The child and you live in Texas. Texas now has jurisdiction, not Missouri.

You could fill out the Texas form for free and see what happens, but it sounds all the facts in the world aren't going to change your opinion.

What you are presenting are not facts unless you are a lawyer. I talked to my lawyer in MO who did the divorce and seeked opinion here in TX.

One thing i do not appreciate is that some of you assume i am not capable or something. I have already looked at these things. It is not some genious idea you came up with. I am not saying cant be done just to be stubborn. I am saying it because i already investigated and telling you what i found. Sure, i could ask other lawyers until i find the answer i would  love to hear (to get CS with no other change) but how could i trust a lawyer that just paints a pretty picture just to take my money.

With CS, it is what it is. I feel very lucky that i can provide everything my son's needs and then some all on my own. I feel lucky to have a supportive family. I am not going to dwell on the few hundred dollars my ex should be giving for his son. I believe in karma, sure, cash would be much nicer but it is what it is. I looked at the risks, pros and cons and at this point it is not worth it.
« Last Edit: November 07, 2015, 02:47:31 PM by SKL-HOU »

Villanelle

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #61 on: November 07, 2015, 05:46:28 PM »
The divorce was finalized in MO. It takes more than just filing for CS in TX to move the file here. And in TX the CS would even be less because he has 2 prior kids who get priority in CS.

I can't take in a renter. I am a renter myself. If i had room, the option would be to ask the landlord to add a renter but i do not know anyone that i would be ok living with that needs a place. I am not going to let just anyone of the street live in a house with me and my child. Plus my mom comes and stays with us for a few months to help out and to spend time with my son. So when she comes (no current plans), i will look into PT work for extra income.

If your mom comes to visit for a few months on a regular enough basis that it is a consideration with your housing situation, then what is all this business about having to travel internationally to see your family?

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #62 on: November 07, 2015, 05:52:44 PM »
I have more family than a mother. Honestly, are you just looking for reasons to attack? Please carry on.

frugal rph

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #63 on: November 07, 2015, 08:31:14 PM »
Fellow solo parent here just chiming in to say hang in there. Unless someone has become their child's only parent when the other parent just decides to drop out, they can't understand your situation.  There is no way I would pursue this toxic guy for CS. You can support your child alone, and he is better off without this man inserting himself into his life just to get back at you.

I also would not consider taking in a renter unless you found a nanny who you wanted to live in. I also get why you aren't walking to work. When it's just you 24/7/365, every minute is precious. Your finances will ease up when your son starts school.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #64 on: November 07, 2015, 08:41:28 PM »
Fellow solo parent here just chiming in to say hang in there. Unless someone has become their child's only parent when the other parent just decides to drop out, they can't understand your situation.  There is no way I would pursue this toxic guy for CS. You can support your child alone, and he is better off without this man inserting himself into his life just to get back at you.

I also would not consider taking in a renter unless you found a nanny who you wanted to live in. I also get why you aren't walking to work. When it's just you 24/7/365, every minute is precious. Your finances will ease up when your son starts school.

Thank you. I am glad finally there is someone that can understand my specific situation :) it is not that i dont appreciate all the comments and suggestions but it seems people get offended if the same suggestion they give everyone does not fit my life. I would love to find a live-in nanny but they are so expensive :( you are right, when he starts school costs will go down and at the same time CCs should be paid off so i should have at least $2000/mo to put towards after-tax savings.

Imonaboat

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #65 on: November 08, 2015, 05:44:26 AM »
I know you have gotten some harsh responses and it may even feel like you are getting picked on a bit, but hopefully you can take away that you should be questioning your own purchases at least as harshly as we have, even if they take you out of your comfort zone a little. If you get into the habit of seriously weighing the real need for a purchase and the cost of that purchase over years instead of in the moment, you will no longer need a budget and will never find yourself with 5 digit credit card debt again.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #66 on: November 08, 2015, 09:25:43 AM »
I don't mind harsh responses but i mind the repetetive, getting stuck on small things.

 $25 or $50 of savings i would get from walking is not a good use of my limited time. I understand small savings add up but as limited as my time is this particular savings is not worth it. If i was making 30k and barely getting by, sure that would make a difference but not in my situation. Even with my debt, i think i can be picky with what is worth my time and what is not. Saving money on my cable/internet bill even if it is $10/mo however, is a good savings because it does not take more than half hour once.

RetiredAt63

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #67 on: November 08, 2015, 11:09:55 AM »
I just read the whole thread and have some thoughts.  Sorry it is long, but I put in details and the reasoning behind the suggestions.

Dogs - what do you feed them?  I have a medium-size arctic breed and I feed her grain-free - not expensive, Costco has two versions and my grocery store has a house brand.  I mix them all together, she loves it and she is healthy.  Dogs can digest plant material, yes, they are not obligate carnivores like cats are, but they do not digest grass seed.  I trust your cat is getting a food meant for cats?  They have higher protein requirements than dogs do.  Dogs love cat food, as I am sure you have noticed, but they do not need the higher quality protein, so don't let them snack.

Walking - fall is a wonderful time to walk.  You could combine dog and kid walks by walking your son to daycare with one dog, and walking to pick him up with the other one.  That way both dogs get a 2 mile walk and you and your son have quality time together. You can freshen up in the morning when you drop the dog off at home, and drive, if you still think the drive is worth it after getting used to walking.

Car and gas - I started driving in 1967 - back when cars were mechanical, not electronic.  A wonderful way to see what you are doing re the car and gas is keep a car journal - get a little notebook and keep it in the glove compartment.  Have headings - I have Date, mileage (odometer reading), price, litres (gallons for you), cost and location.  With this you can calculate all sorts of things - how much gas you are using, how much you are spending, miles/gallon (do it after a week of short trips and after a long trip, you will see a big difference, or a long trip driving at 65 mph versus 55 mph).  Using this lets me see how gas prices have fluctuated, and where the better gas stations are that do not require me to drive out of my way.  It also convinced me that 100 kph is way better than 118 kph (I learned to drive in Quebec, I loved doing 125 kph but not any more).  You can also record all maintenance in it.  Remember short trip driving is much harder on a car than long tip driving, it is all cold, and the alternator doesn't get to recharge the battery well.  It may sound like a lot of work, but it isn't - I just fill everything in when I get gas, and run the numbers when I feel like it.  You might want to also list what the trips were for - just work, or errands, or something else - either in the car book, or on a notepad in the house.  This would let you see what you are using the car for.  And a thought - you have a large vehicle for a one adult, one child household - is it because you need the space for the dogs?  If yes, hold off on a replacement until the dogs are at the Rainbow Bridge - then you will need a much smaller car.

Son and father - given what you have written about your ex-husband, it sounds like you have done your son a favour by having him grow up without a toxic father to deal with.   Living in a single parent home with a parent who loves him is much better for him.  So please do not automatically think you have to "make up for" not having a father, and get rid of "guilt spending".  If you don't believe this, head over to Captain Awkward's web site some time and see how many people are traumatized by their toxic parents, to the point that some have cut their parents totally out of their lives.  And Disney - yikes.  My DD went twice to the one in Florida, and barely remembers the first visit.  She remembers the one when she was 7.

And as someone who is in a house (all by herself) because she has the dog and loves gardening - unless you love gardening, it will be a chore.  All you really need for the dogs is enough yard for them to "exercise" in.  Real exercise is walks, chasing a doggie Frisbee, things like that. 

Tracking money - there are two schools of thought here.  One is cash - it hurts to spend, but if you don't track it, it evaporates.  If you can get it in the US, I strongly recommend watching Gail Vaz Oxlade's 'Till Debt do us part.  She does cash budgeting very well.  Otherwise, using a debit card (one where you are not allowed to go into a negative cash balance in the account)  and Mint/YNAB will let you see exactly where your money got spent.  Both ways work, it depends on the person which is preferable.

Please don't knock the "little things" suggestions.  If you reduce/eliminate a recurring cost it is done for good, and the savings accumulate.  Go for the "low-hanging fruits" first, since they are by definition easy to implement, but if you can keep major costs (like housing and transportation) down, that saves you a lot for a long time.

SKL-HOU

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #68 on: November 08, 2015, 12:15:44 PM »
The dogs were getting Beneful up until a couple of months ago. After seeing awful reviews, i switched to Blue Buffalo. It is more expensive but better quality which should help with avoiding future health issues, so kinda like preventive maintenance. I dont have a costco membership and not sure if there is one nearby.
The cat gets cat chow. She doesnt like wet food.

Fall would be a great time to walk but not in the mornings for me. I dont understand why everyone keeps coming back to this. To do what you are saying my son would need to wake up much earlier, which means he would have to go to bed sooner. So either quality time with him or rushed time in the morning with him. We take walks around the neighborhood when we dont have to rush. If the point of the walking is saving money then the savings is not worth the time it takes. If it is for health reason then we can and we do that when we are not in a time crunch.

I am not trying to make up anything by throwing money at it. Other than this Disney trip, i dont spend much money on toys and almost none on clothes (my nephew has a whole bunch, all brand new). Again, the point is not about him remembering in the future, the point is he will be happy to spend time with his cousin. He will get to see his aunt, grandparents.

I think i have explained the walking and disney enough at this point. I do not need any more comments on them. of course you are free to comment on them but please dont be offended if i ignore and not answer.

Car and gas... I need to track my gas spending to get a better number than estimated $100/mo. There is definitely room for improvement by planning trips and avoiding unneccessary ones. Currently i do not try to limit my driving at all. If i think of something i need or something to look at, i go. In fact general planning is something i need to work on, both with these types of trips and groceries. I cook everyday or every other day depending on what the leftovers are. I have things we typically eat prepped in the freezer. We eat a lot of yogurt, i used to make it myself but not lately. That is part of planning better so i can start making yogurt and other stuff at home.

shelivesthedream

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #69 on: November 08, 2015, 02:57:12 PM »
Ok, here's my two cents having skimmed the thread:

1. Keep the dogs. You can't just get rid of pets. But definitely do not replace them and do not get locked into expensive end-of-life care. When the time comes, have them put down and let them die a peaceful dignified death. While you still have them, you should only be paying for food and vet bills - no toys, no grooming, etc.

2. Go on the damned Disney vacation, but this is your last vacation until you have no debt and a six month emergency fund. Any vacations after that will be cheap and saved up for in advance. And they are not a necessity! Even to broaden your som's mind or whatever.

3. With regard to your son, don't feel like you need to compensate for your 'broken home'. There are millions of children with divorced parents. Better to have a stable single-parent home than a crappy two-parent one. He needs SECURITY and LOVE. You cannot buy those by buying things.

4. I'm going to go against the grain here and say stop thinking about earning extra money. It's not worth it. You are standing under a firehose of cash just with your day job! You don't need to work more. Use the extra earning time to play with your son.

5. You've had a lot of advice about housing, groceries and biking. You've explained why you can't change any of those. Do yourself a favour and just try out some of the advice temporarily. Just have a look and see if you can rent somewhere cheaper but still in the right area. Maybe you can, maybe you can't. But just give it a go. Likewise, pick a day with good weather and just walk to and from work once. Yes, maybe it will suck and take forever. But maybe it won't! Like with small children and food, I'd recommend trying things three times before you say definitely not. If after three walks (not necessarily consecutive, once a week would be great) it's still awful - then hey, you tried and found out what it was really like. But don't assume what things will be like until you have tried them. (Also, FWIW, I cycle and have found the sweat thing to really not be that much of a problem as long as you cycle at 'cute Amsterdam' speed, not 'Tour de France' speed, which will be perfectly adequate for a mile or two.)

6. Don't worry about having a skinny kid unless it's causing actual problems. Someone has to be at the bottom of the bell curve! I come from a skinny family (bottom 5% as a baby/child) and it's no big deal. We're all still here.

7. In terms of education, I'd be wary of obsessing over primary education. What you can do out of school (especially reading to your child, talking to your child and regularly taking him to the library) can more than make up for an averagely-rated primary school. Read Penelope Trunk's education blog for thought-provoking material on this. She homeschools and posts some pretty out-there stuff but she is evidence-driven and will get you thinking about where real learning happens.

8. Don't buy a house.

9. Pay off all your debt before you do anything else.

10. Go you! Most people will never have the courage to take an honest look at their finances, let alone actually change anything. You've taken the first step already!

shelivesthedream

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #70 on: November 08, 2015, 03:01:33 PM »
Also a final thing about walking - I think you said when your son goes to school it will be on the way to work? You can always start walking then. Better late than never and that would cut out all the looping back and give you some wonderful time with your son. It's a great habit to inculcate in him too - when I have children my goals are to get them in the habits of: walking/cycling, eating good food, going to the library and doing chores. I reckon that'll set them up for a good and long life.

Goldielocks

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #71 on: November 08, 2015, 04:24:23 PM »
Ok we will walk/bike everywhere and won't go to Disney. Ok?
I get that family is important, especially for a single mom.

What about this -- if you have the tickets...   Take the flight, don't go to Disney, rent an AirBNB in the back of beyond and visit with family..?  Maybe they could shift their vacation plans to accomodate this new style?   I know my sister would not give up a planned Disney trip for me, but she would shift a few days.

If the flights are paid, and you get a place with out a car (take the train out the outskirts where you can find a cheap rental), where you can walk and make your own meals, then the France idea is not so bad....  at least you can cut your additional DEBT due to it WAY down.  More if family share with you.


Supplemental foods -- definitely keep supply on hand for any onset of illness.  Your little one won't do as well if they go off food when sick.   Friends of ours in the same situation started to make banana / whole milk shakes for the kids to ease off the doctor recommended Pediasure. The kids had trouble eating enough calories, but the milkshakes were a hit starting at age 4, and did not fill them up too much. Also, check out Soylent.com powder.  Works out to under $1 for 250 cal,only make what you need, easy to pack to France ;-).  My son loves it,especially with fruit or maple syrup added. (the name is a pun). 

Lastly,  do check out what you can get for your car and downsize options.   We had 10 MPG on a lighter mini van, due to all the start / stop / 2 mile driving DH did with the kids when DH was disabled.  As you say, you don't drive much but depreciation and maintenance on a large vehicle add up.  The only reason I suggest it is all that CC debt does not show a great year over year habit.  Maybe you are great month to month, but then a 'rare' expense (family trip, car repair, etc) comes up and you skewer yourself again.

I think you would enjoy a walk part way.   Single mom, newly moved.  It is hard.  Make it easier on yourself.... slow down a bit if you can.





« Last Edit: November 09, 2015, 12:04:18 AM by goldielocks »

BeanCounter

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #72 on: November 08, 2015, 07:36:19 PM »
If the goal is FIRE or even semi-FIRE then I would think about it this way: every five hundred dollars you can shave off your monthly expenses means that you can decrease your 'stache target by $150k. Putting you that much closer to the finish line where you are free.
What things you can to do to shave $500-$1,000 of your monthly expenses is up to you. Only you know what will work best for you and your son. Only you know how bad you want to be free from the constraints of full time work.
Use whatever funds you have in savings and taxable accounts to pay down the credit cards and then pay the rest off as quickly as possible. Then start some savings goals to get to partial FIRE. Find some cuts that work for you all and see what that does to your savings requirements and your timeframe. Doing this math exercise in Excel can be incredibly motivating.

pbkmaine

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CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #73 on: November 08, 2015, 07:59:13 PM »
I would just like to chime in and say that it IS the little things that matter. Saving money on small things brings changes that become habits and adds up to big money, financial security and early retirement. I was a financial planner for many years, so I saw what was actually in people's bank accounts. The ones who retired early with $1 million were not the people you expected, the ones with the big salaries. It was the teachers who drove old small cars, lived in a modest house or apartment, brown bagged their lunches, bought meat on sale and took their kids to museums on free days. They did many small things consistently.

turketron

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #74 on: November 08, 2015, 08:25:43 PM »
This may not be a viable option now if your credit rating took a hit during your divorce, but down the line if you can work on getting that repaired credit card churning might be a great way for you to help bring down your travel costs.

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2014/10/13/credit-card-churning-for-mustachians-or-sucka-consumers/

flan

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Re: CASE STUDY: Single mom dreaming of partial/full retirement
« Reply #75 on: November 13, 2015, 02:05:37 PM »
I've lived in Houston for a long time, so I'm hoping I could try to help you out with some more specifics.

In skimming through previous comments and your responses, I'm getting the feeling that you'd rather take on 'large plunges' that can make a larger monetary difference than focus on 'small changes' that take more effort that are more of a lifestyle change. Hoping that I can try to focus on what would be helpful for you, I have a few specifics to ask:

Rent: I think this is an area where perhaps a big change could be made. I'm not sure where specifically in Houston you are, but there are a lot of options for less than $2150/mo. I don't think it would be worth moving away from that awesome 1-mile commute and disrupting your whole life (Houston traffic/commuting/idling on highways IS THE WORST), but would you be up for moving to a different house with more rooms and potentially sharing it with another family or another co-renter? That may slash your monthly fixed spending by as much as $500-$1000!

Misc. spending: This is another area where I can see your expenses dropping. If you can't remember what you dropped a few hundred dollars on, that's a problem! I definitely think just using some sort of tracking (Mint.com, YNAB, Excel spreadsheet, etc.) can be a really good way to at least look at where your money is going and whether those expenses are more important than your FIRE goals.

Debts: Good job on figuring out your priorities on which CC cards will have an interest rate next! Previous readers have posted the debt article from MMM already, so keep throwing all you've got over there before you put money into investments.

Savings/Investments: Does your company have a company match? If so, DO ask HR to deduct up to that % match, ASAP.