Author Topic: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian  (Read 4893 times)

mgFIRE

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Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« on: September 28, 2016, 02:48:10 PM »
Life Situation: Married filing jointly, no dependents but in the process of trying (having some trouble), live in NJ right outside of NYC, wife and I are both 34, and we have a 2 year old dog.

Gross Salary/Wages (combined income): ~$170,000

Pre-tax deductions: 401k (Me: 10%, Wife: 6%; health/dental/vision/LTD insurance through employers: ~$400/month

Other Ordinary Income: n/a
Qualified Dividends & Long Term Capital Gains: n/a
Rental Income, Actual Expenses, and Depreciation: n/a

Taxes: Federal - 25%, state/local - 5%, and FICA - ?.

Adjusted Gross Income after taxes: $98,880

Current expenses: I attached the Mad Fientist FI Spreadsheet detailing September's expenses under the "Averages" tab (and also contains a lot more information like rent, savings, etc).  Note that we did spend quite a bit this month for a vacation we are taking in October, but this normally only done once per year.

Assets: n/a (we've paid off about 60% of a 2013 Honda Accord - about $6,500 remaining)

Liabilities: As mentioned above we have a car loan on a 2013 Honda Accord.  The original loan was for ~$10,900 at a rate of 2.5% over 5 years.  Monthly payment is $278.  We have about $6,500 left over 24 months.  I haven't considered paying more than the monthly payment given the low rate.  No other loans/liabilities other than credit cards which are paid off twice a month after paydays.

Specific Question(s): First I just want to note that I tried to download the MMM Spreadsheet, but my work network blocks Google Drive, so I used the Mad Fientist one instead.  Please let me know if this is lacking in any necessary info, and I'll complete the spreadsheet when I'm at home.

The reason for posting a Case Study is mainly due to the fact that ever since I was a kid with my first job I have been TERRIBLE at saving money.  I always saved up for the shiny new gaming system or sports equipment, and blew everything I had all at once.  Basically, my excuse was that I could die tomorrow, so why not enjoy whatever I want now?

Now that I've been reading into FIRE I want to change my ways.  Right now, FIRE really seems like a pipe dream.  I've brought it up with my wife recently and she thinks (paraphrasing) "it's a good idea to save, but that 'normal' people don't actually do that - you have to dedicate your life to doing that and never do anything fun".  She is a pretty good saver (she contributed most of our savings when we were married in 2013), but I don't think she gets the whole FIRE thing.

My main questions revolve around what to focus on first.  I know our spending this past month was REALLY BAD, as seen in the attached spreadsheet.  However, we make a decent combined income even for an expensive location, so I think we have a good base to really start saving.  My main focus right now is to reduce discretionary spending on restaurants and clothes/merchandise/etc.  Is this a good goal to start with?

I know that reducing the "big stuff" is usually recommended.  We have talked about moving to a cheaper area, but our entire family lives in NJ and MD which are just about equal in Cost of Living (MD is a bit better, but not by much).  I love the outdoors and would love to move to Colorado, but the wife just isn't on board, especially since we are trying to start a family, and our parents would play a big part in day care.  And, believe it or not, $2,100 for a 1 bedroom in our area is on the cheaper end - I would even say that you can't find any 1 bedrooms for less than $1,900.  Our savings is really for a down payment for a house in the next few years (which is why it's all in savings and not Vanguard indexes), but we are happy renting for now since with both work in NYC and the commute is very good from where we live.

If anyone has any suggestions on what else to focus on, or things that I'm missing, please let me know.  And feel free to ask for more info that could help.  Hope this wasn't too rambling!

-mgFIRE

englishteacheralex

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2016, 03:27:20 PM »
Gotta get wife on board before you do anything else. What makes her tick? Personally, I have no desire to retire early. I love my job. However, I am extremely interested in giving as much money as possible to causes I believe in. I also want very much to be able to pay for my children's educations. Another goal I have with my husband is to purchase real estate to rent at below market rates to people who could use a leg up. Generosity motivates me--when I look at purchases I generally think of the big picture of what else that money could do.

Doesn't mean we don't do fun stuff. But we don't experience the extreme difference in our income and our outlay (we give/save around 45% of our income) as a deprivation, because we both have a larger sense of purpose for our money.

Do you have those fun, dreaming conversations with her? Take her out to dinner and go for a walk and have some big picture dreams. Goal-oriented, united money can do a lot for a marriage.

The nitty gritty budget stuff will fall into place as your priorities change as a couple. Saving money has become a fun game for my husband and me.

Without a shared sense of purpose, I think you will always feel tension on the subject. It won't be fun. And--Early Retirement is just one possible big picture for money. That's the biggie on this forum, but even within this community there are plenty of people who have different ideas about what they want to do with their above-average savings. Your wife may be more motivated by the prospect of paying for fertility treatments or adoption or staying home with future children. Present the early retirement thing, maybe, but she's right--it IS a pretty extreme ideology, and just because she might not be on board with THAT doesn't mean she wouldn't be on board with a more moderate, but still focused, goal.


mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2016, 04:57:56 PM »
Very good points.  We haven't really talked big picture, long term goals other than having children, saving something for their education, and buying a house.  It seems really obvious now, but we should probably figure out what else we want long term.

She doesn't LOVE her job, but I think she likes having something to do and making money.  After 10 years in the insurance industry I can definitely say that a cubicle/office job is not for me.  I've done well, but I don't get any form of accomplishment from what I do.  Every day is a grind.  I think if we can save enough for me to leave the office life and do something part-time (e.g. handyman, carpentry, photography, etc.) I would be happy.  Maybe I can take the next 10+ years to save and acquire those skills so that I can semi-retire, or change careers without worrying about money.

tomorrowsomewherenew

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2016, 05:17:49 PM »
The main body of your sheet is not so bad, really, but your spending on restaurants and shopping is RIDICULOUS!!! Get those categories as low as possible, and start shoveling it into your retirement accounts (401k, etc.)

Darryl Musashi

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2016, 05:22:49 PM »
I've had luck targeting specific habits and changing those to save money. For example:
  • If you eat out for lunch, you're losing like $8/day. On Sunday, make a big pot of something (soup, casserole, salad) and portion it off into five meals for the week -- then you don't have an excuse to eat out.
  • If you live close enough, bike to work one day a week. Then two next week. Then three. And so on.
  • If you and your wife do a Friday "date night" type of thing where you go out to eat/drink, maybe offer to make her a romantic dinner in. It's cheaper, more fun, and she'll appreciate the work you put into it.

As you start shaving expenses off of your monthly budget, you can bump up your 401(k) withholdings accordingly til you hit that golden $18K/yr mark.

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2016, 05:31:59 PM »
The main body of your sheet is not so bad, really, but your spending on restaurants and shopping is RIDICULOUS!!! Get those categories as low as possible, and start shoveling it into your retirement accounts (401k, etc.)

I know!!  We had some emotional spending this month due to some bad news, but it's not an excuse.  We aren't usually THIS bad.

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2016, 05:34:08 PM »
I've had luck targeting specific habits and changing those to save money. For example:
  • If you eat out for lunch, you're losing like $8/day. On Sunday, make a big pot of something (soup, casserole, salad) and portion it off into five meals for the week -- then you don't have an excuse to eat out.
  • If you live close enough, bike to work one day a week. Then two next week. Then three. And so on.
  • If you and your wife do a Friday "date night" type of thing where you go out to eat/drink, maybe offer to make her a romantic dinner in. It's cheaper, more fun, and she'll appreciate the work you put into it.

As you start shaving expenses off of your monthly budget, you can bump up your 401(k) withholdings accordingly til you hit that golden $18K/yr mark.

Thanks for the suggestions.  I do meal prep on Sundays so I bring breakfast/lunch to work most days (wife doesn't so much), and we do cook most weeknights.  Cooking on Friday is doable, but we prefer a break on Friday & Saturday night.  It's really the weekends that kill us in terms of going out.  Restaurants are pretty expensive around us.  While we try to go to BYOB places sometimes we just throw caution to the wind. 

I would totally bike to work, but getting into Manhattan from New Jersey is rough.  You aren't allowed to bike through the tunnels, and I'm not sure about the George Washington Bridge.  It may be possible, but it would take several hours.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 05:36:24 PM by mgFIRE »

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2016, 05:54:18 PM »
Are you really spending $50,000 a year out of taxed income on restaurants, shopping and travel?  Wow.  That is more than half of your after tax income.  Fussing about the rent you pay seems ridiculous in the light of that spending.

Does your wife know how you feel about your job, that it is a grind from which you get no satisfaction and that you would rather be doing something that pays about a quarter as much?  If kids do come along, what are the plans for looking after them?  Will you both still be working full time?  Could you live off less income with the added expenses of kids?  Do you have cash savings to see you through the expensive years of child rearing and if anything goes less than perfectly?  You have plenty of "hooks" which should interest your wife in spending more carefully that have nothing to do with retiring early.

You are spending a lot on food, and possibly on alcohol as well, but apparently nothing on exercise.  That seems a bad place to be in, health-wise, if you are trying for a family.

PharmaStache

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2016, 06:15:55 PM »
WTF is shopping if it's not groceries or gifts?  Clothing?  $1900/month on whatever it is is insane.

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2016, 06:36:38 PM »
Are you really spending $50,000 a year out of taxed income on restaurants, shopping and travel?  Wow.  That is more than half of your after tax income.  Fussing about the rent you pay seems ridiculous in the light of that spending.

Does your wife know how you feel about your job, that it is a grind from which you get no satisfaction and that you would rather be doing something that pays about a quarter as much?  If kids do come along, what are the plans for looking after them?  Will you both still be working full time?  Could you live off less income with the added expenses of kids?  Do you have cash savings to see you through the expensive years of child rearing and if anything goes less than perfectly?  You have plenty of "hooks" which should interest your wife in spending more carefully that have nothing to do with retiring early.

You are spending a lot on food, and possibly on alcohol as well, but apparently nothing on exercise.  That seems a bad place to be in, health-wise, if you are trying for a family.

Yep, the spending is bad.  That was going to be my focus to start. 

Well, we have a gym in our apartment building which is free for residents - I also practice jiu jitsu which has a membership fee, but I've been out due to injury for a couple months.  The wife has a free gym at work that she uses, too.  We are pretty healthy.

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #10 on: September 28, 2016, 06:39:30 PM »
WTF is shopping if it's not groceries or gifts?  Clothing?  $1900/month on whatever it is is insane.

I forgot to mention I included our dog walker in there ($15/day x 2), physical therapy copays due to a sports injury, and an upgraded cell phone.  But I agree, it's bad.

Knitwit

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #11 on: September 28, 2016, 08:26:25 PM »
WTF is shopping if it's not groceries or gifts?  Clothing?  $1900/month on whatever it is is insane.

I forgot to mention I included our dog walker in there ($15/day x 2), physical therapy copays due to a sports injury, and an upgraded cell phone.  But I agree, it's bad.

Hang on, are you saying you spend ($15/day x 2) = $30 x 30 days in a month = $900 a month for someone to walk your dog?

Even if you mean you spent $15/day x 2 days per month ($30 a month), this is still too much to be spending for someone to walk your dog. You should be walking your own dog.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2016, 08:28:06 PM by Knitwit »

MDM

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #12 on: September 28, 2016, 11:23:11 PM »
...I tried to download the MMM Spreadsheet, but my work network blocks Google Drive, so I used the Mad Fientist one instead.  Please let me know if this is lacking in any necessary info, and I'll complete the spreadsheet when I'm at home.
Others have also had the "work network blockage" issue.  I've used Google Drive because
1) I can update it easily, and
2) I don't know any better way. :)
Open to access improvement suggestions.  Of course, if it is only a minor irritation to download from home then perhaps it ain't broke so we ought not fix it....
Probably worth your while to fill it in.  Not that it is "better" than MadFientist's, just "has a different perspective."

Quote
My main questions revolve around what to focus on first.  I know our spending this past month was REALLY BAD, as seen in the attached spreadsheet.  However, we make a decent combined income even for an expensive location, so I think we have a good base to really start saving.  My main focus right now is to reduce discretionary spending on restaurants and clothes/merchandise/etc.  Is this a good goal to start with?
Yes, it is.

At the same time, how about changing your 401k contributions immediately so you and your wife each contribute $18K this year?  And immediately establish Roth IRAs and fund them with $5500 each?  At $170K/yr gross and $100K in the bank, all that should be very affordable.  Good luck!

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2016, 07:54:03 AM »
WTF is shopping if it's not groceries or gifts?  Clothing?  $1900/month on whatever it is is insane.

I forgot to mention I included our dog walker in there ($15/day x 2), physical therapy copays due to a sports injury, and an upgraded cell phone.  But I agree, it's bad.

Hang on, are you saying you spend ($15/day x 2) = $30 x 30 days in a month = $900 a month for someone to walk your dog?

Even if you mean you spent $15/day x 2 days per month ($30 a month), this is still too much to be spending for someone to walk your dog. You should be walking your own dog.

We have her walked twice a day for $15 a pop (going rate where we live) while we are both at work for 9-10 hours across the river in NYC.  We walk her several other times throughout the day when we are home, and on weekends (we aren't THAT lazy).

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2016, 07:59:40 AM »
...I tried to download the MMM Spreadsheet, but my work network blocks Google Drive, so I used the Mad Fientist one instead.  Please let me know if this is lacking in any necessary info, and I'll complete the spreadsheet when I'm at home.
Others have also had the "work network blockage" issue.  I've used Google Drive because
1) I can update it easily, and
2) I don't know any better way. :)
Open to access improvement suggestions.  Of course, if it is only a minor irritation to download from home then perhaps it ain't broke so we ought not fix it....
Probably worth your while to fill it in.  Not that it is "better" than MadFientist's, just "has a different perspective."

Quote
My main questions revolve around what to focus on first.  I know our spending this past month was REALLY BAD, as seen in the attached spreadsheet.  However, we make a decent combined income even for an expensive location, so I think we have a good base to really start saving.  My main focus right now is to reduce discretionary spending on restaurants and clothes/merchandise/etc.  Is this a good goal to start with?
Yes, it is.

At the same time, how about changing your 401k contributions immediately so you and your wife each contribute $18K this year?  And immediately establish Roth IRAs and fund them with $5500 each?  At $170K/yr gross and $100K in the bank, all that should be very affordable.  Good luck!

I will definitely take a look at the MMM Spreadsheet tonight.  Different perspectives are always good IMO. 

Thanks for the feedback!  I think addressing our spending and 401k contributions goes back to one of the first responses confirming that the wife and I need to discuss our future plans & goals, and what we want to do with the money that we are able to save, and get on the same page even if that means just knowing each others positions.  Our 401k's will definitely play a big part in this.  I've been creeping mine up slowly to "ease into it", but I guess too slowly.  Started at 6%, then moved to 8% last year, and now up to 10%.  You are right, we should definitely be able to contribute the max and still be fine if we cut discretionary spending.

PharmaStache

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #15 on: September 29, 2016, 08:58:58 AM »
WTF is shopping if it's not groceries or gifts?  Clothing?  $1900/month on whatever it is is insane.

I forgot to mention I included our dog walker in there ($15/day x 2), physical therapy copays due to a sports injury, and an upgraded cell phone.  But I agree, it's bad.

Hang on, are you saying you spend ($15/day x 2) = $30 x 30 days in a month = $900 a month for someone to walk your dog?

Even if you mean you spent $15/day x 2 days per month ($30 a month), this is still too much to be spending for someone to walk your dog. You should be walking your own dog.

We have her walked twice a day for $15 a pop (going rate where we live) while we are both at work for 9-10 hours across the river in NYC.  We walk her several other times throughout the day when we are home, and on weekends (we aren't THAT lazy).

So you're spending $7800/year for someone to walk your dog....out of 98k, that's 8% of your take home pay.  8% of your combined working time is spent working so that you can pay someone to walk your dog.  If you think that is normal, I'm not sure if we can help you :P

Axecleaver

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #16 on: September 29, 2016, 09:32:18 AM »
A healthy dog should be able to go 10-12 hours without a problem. Older dogs may be closer to 8 hours. So worst case, cut back to once a day halfway through the day, five days a week (you should handle all weekend walking duties). That reduces your costs from $900/month to just $300/month. And you get more quality time with your best furry friend.

That saved after-tax $600 translates to ~$880 in 401k deposits per month. I'm guessing you're around 25% federal tax, 6.4% state, and 3.6% nyc marginal income tax. That means every dollar in your 401k only costs you guys 65 cents in usable income. Or looking at it another way, every dollar you cut out of your budget, you can add $1.53 to your 401k's. 

Your goal is to hit $1500/month into your 401k's for each of you. That will maximize your tax advantaged space, and reduce your income tax bill, while ramping up your retirement savings.

Set goals and a budget for your restaurant and shopping spending. Get SO on board ASAP and see what she's willing to sign up to. I realize $170k is not a lot of money in your neighborhood, so these cutbacks may be hard to swallow at first. I also wouldn't put much time and effort into buying a house at this stage of the game, because you don't have the money to do it in your current budget. The property taxes and maintenance (service providers are very expensive in your area) are unaffordable.

Good luck! Hope to see a post from you in a month with a totally new set of case study numbers.

Nick_Miller

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #17 on: September 29, 2016, 09:42:04 AM »
I love dogs as much as anyone, and I totally understand how you'd feel bad about leaving your doggie home alone all day with nowhere to pee or run around. I get it.

But...

I don't see how anyone can justify paying over $7,500 for the privilege of owning a dog. That's $625 per month, or basically the food budget for a family of four!

So yeah, I'd say there is a huge choice to be made just with that, not to mention the shopping and restaurants (which I understand you said were high because of a vacation).

But back to the dog....$625 per month, invested in a fund with 7% returns, over 10 years (life of the doggie), would amount to $107,000. That's what you're giving up for having the dog in this situation.


mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #18 on: September 29, 2016, 10:20:11 AM »
I love dogs as much as anyone, and I totally understand how you'd feel bad about leaving your doggie home alone all day with nowhere to pee or run around. I get it.

But...

I don't see how anyone can justify paying over $7,500 for the privilege of owning a dog. That's $625 per month, or basically the food budget for a family of four!

So yeah, I'd say there is a huge choice to be made just with that, not to mention the shopping and restaurants (which I understand you said were high because of a vacation).

But back to the dog....$625 per month, invested in a fund with 7% returns, over 10 years (life of the doggie), would amount to $107,000. That's what you're giving up for having the dog in this situation.

I know, I know - you're totally right. I'm ashamed we are paying so much, but yes, our feelings for our furry friend get in the way.  I'm going to bring up at least dropping the walks to once per day during the weekdays (we do all the walking on weekends, all mornings, and all nights).

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #19 on: September 29, 2016, 10:26:16 AM »
So clearly there are bigger areas of concern but why is your internet $190 a month? And there's $0 under cell phone? Do you have everything rolled together via Verizon?

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #20 on: September 29, 2016, 10:27:54 AM »
I damn near hyperventilated when I read that $30/day dog walking expense.

But, it's just a example of how you've viewed money so far. You pay the going rate for things and don't think about whether it makes sense. Thankfully you make good money and you're not in debt. But a job loss could put you in big trouble with this mindset.

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #21 on: September 29, 2016, 10:29:12 AM »
A healthy dog should be able to go 10-12 hours without a problem. Older dogs may be closer to 8 hours. So worst case, cut back to once a day halfway through the day, five days a week (you should handle all weekend walking duties). That reduces your costs from $900/month to just $300/month. And you get more quality time with your best furry friend.

That saved after-tax $600 translates to ~$880 in 401k deposits per month. I'm guessing you're around 25% federal tax, 6.4% state, and 3.6% nyc marginal income tax. That means every dollar in your 401k only costs you guys 65 cents in usable income. Or looking at it another way, every dollar you cut out of your budget, you can add $1.53 to your 401k's. 

Your goal is to hit $1500/month into your 401k's for each of you. That will maximize your tax advantaged space, and reduce your income tax bill, while ramping up your retirement savings.

Set goals and a budget for your restaurant and shopping spending. Get SO on board ASAP and see what she's willing to sign up to. I realize $170k is not a lot of money in your neighborhood, so these cutbacks may be hard to swallow at first. I also wouldn't put much time and effort into buying a house at this stage of the game, because you don't have the money to do it in your current budget. The property taxes and maintenance (service providers are very expensive in your area) are unaffordable.

Good luck! Hope to see a post from you in a month with a totally new set of case study numbers.

Thanks for your feedback!  I already set up a budget/spending/saving date with my wife for Saturday night over (boxed) wine on the couch.  Definitely discussing: cutting off the crazy discretionary spending, upping 401k contributions, and dropping the dog walker to once per weekday.

I'll let you know how things turn out!

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #22 on: September 29, 2016, 10:32:02 AM »
So clearly there are bigger areas of concern but why is your internet $190 a month? And there's $0 under cell phone? Do you have everything rolled together via Verizon?

$190 is for cable/phone/internet.  Not that we need a landline, but it's part of Optimum's "Triple Play", which is cheaper than getting cable & internet separately.  I've just been reading about cord cutting which may be an option. 


Nick_Miller

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2016, 10:36:38 AM »
I'm married too and just recently got my wife (mostly) on board with FIRE sacrifices, so just a few words of free advice...

1) Read the "How to Convert your SO" thread in the Welcome area of the forums

2) Focus on long-term goals, i.e. the things you'll earn from making sacrifices now. No on wants to make sacrifices just for the sake of making them. Talk to her about buying your freedom, or whatever you're looking for in FIRE. More travel? More time for volunteer work or potential kiddos? Just more free time and less stress? What floats her boat?

3) Let her talk...a lot. I guarantee you'll learn a lot about her priorities.

4) Prepare to "lose" some disagreements. It's inevitable. Just focus on progress. I would love to dump our monthly housecleaner ($100) and our eating out money ($200) but I don't make all the decisions, and we've cut a LOT in the past few months.


mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2016, 11:09:38 AM »
I'm married too and just recently got my wife (mostly) on board with FIRE sacrifices, so just a few words of free advice...

1) Read the "How to Convert your SO" thread in the Welcome area of the forums

2) Focus on long-term goals, i.e. the things you'll earn from making sacrifices now. No on wants to make sacrifices just for the sake of making them. Talk to her about buying your freedom, or whatever you're looking for in FIRE. More travel? More time for volunteer work or potential kiddos? Just more free time and less stress? What floats her boat?

3) Let her talk...a lot. I guarantee you'll learn a lot about her priorities.

4) Prepare to "lose" some disagreements. It's inevitable. Just focus on progress. I would love to dump our monthly housecleaner ($100) and our eating out money ($200) but I don't make all the decisions, and we've cut a LOT in the past few months.

Thank you sir!  Very helpful.

1) Will do now.
2) Good advice.  For me it's transitioning from an office job to something less stressful, or something that I can do to satisfy my creative side that will pay something (like a trade I do part-time).  I am very interested to see what her future wants are - crazy that I don't know that now that I think of it, but we have always been a "let's save what we can and we will figure it out in the future" couple.
3) Done and done.
4) Already expected lol

scantee

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #25 on: September 29, 2016, 11:44:49 AM »
Good gravy.

Well, the good news is that you have a lot of places to cut back so you should be able to reduce your expenses and increase your savings while continuing your comfortable lifestyle without it being too painful.

The shopping is out of control, as everyone has mentioned and you already know. I'll focus on the dog walker because I employ a dog walker for my super energetic pup so I'm probably a bit more sympathetic to that expense than some people. You do not need a dog walker twice a day. That is absolutely nuts. Just by cutting down out the second walk you will be savings several hundred dollars a month. Can either of you work from home one or two days a week? That would allow you to only use the dog walker a few times per week and to cut down this expense by another hundred or two a month.

Restaurants. What is your spending pattern? A few very expense meals every month or less expensive meals much more frequently? Whatever the pattern is, start with cutting down by 25%, so maybe one less fancy meal each month or 4-5 less expensive meals. A change of that magnitude shouldn't really impact your ability to enjoy eating at restaurants.

Travel. Same thing here. Start with taking one less trip each year. Based on your budget, I'm guessing that means you'll still be taking two very nice vacations each year. That is more than enough. Try to cultivate some cheaper traveling interests like camping or weekend stays that can be reached by car.

Making some small changes over these categories should save you between $1000-1500 without forcing you to really sacrifice at all. Once you get comfortable with that level of spending, you can find ways to cut back a little bit more. Starting to cut back now is absolutely necessary preparation for once you eventually have kids, otherwise you're in for a whole lot of hurt about the things you'll need to give up to pay for child care or for one of you to stay home.

mgFIRE

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Re: Case Study: Wannabe Mustachian
« Reply #26 on: September 29, 2016, 01:32:28 PM »
Good gravy.

Well, the good news is that you have a lot of places to cut back so you should be able to reduce your expenses and increase your savings while continuing your comfortable lifestyle without it being too painful.

The shopping is out of control, as everyone has mentioned and you already know. I'll focus on the dog walker because I employ a dog walker for my super energetic pup so I'm probably a bit more sympathetic to that expense than some people. You do not need a dog walker twice a day. That is absolutely nuts. Just by cutting down out the second walk you will be savings several hundred dollars a month. Can either of you work from home one or two days a week? That would allow you to only use the dog walker a few times per week and to cut down this expense by another hundred or two a month.

Restaurants. What is your spending pattern? A few very expense meals every month or less expensive meals much more frequently? Whatever the pattern is, start with cutting down by 25%, so maybe one less fancy meal each month or 4-5 less expensive meals. A change of that magnitude shouldn't really impact your ability to enjoy eating at restaurants.

Travel. Same thing here. Start with taking one less trip each year. Based on your budget, I'm guessing that means you'll still be taking two very nice vacations each year. That is more than enough. Try to cultivate some cheaper traveling interests like camping or weekend stays that can be reached by car.

Making some small changes over these categories should save you between $1000-1500 without forcing you to really sacrifice at all. Once you get comfortable with that level of spending, you can find ways to cut back a little bit more. Starting to cut back now is absolutely necessary preparation for once you eventually have kids, otherwise you're in for a whole lot of hurt about the things you'll need to give up to pay for child care or for one of you to stay home.

Thanks!  Definitely a lot to think about here!