Author Topic: Case Study: Where do we go from here?  (Read 8789 times)

ruraljuror

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Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« on: March 08, 2016, 04:47:33 PM »
Life Situation: Married filing jointly – both of us are 35 years old.  I’m pretty frugal and my wife is less so. Children ages 2, 6, and 10, living in LCOL area.  I work for a government agency in a fairly high stress position and my wife does not work outside the home. My salary has been significantly higher over the past 4 years than in previous years. 

I began tracking expenses and savings in August 2014 and began focusing on savings rate.  Prior to this time, I was naturally frugal but missed many optimization and tax saving opportunities. 

Earnings and Deductions - 2015
Gross Earnings      $11,784
Health Insurance   $136
Dental Insurance   $85
Life Insurance      $65
Deferred Comp      $1,500
401a         $940
Vision Insurance   $10
Federal income tax   $658
Medicare      $154
Social security   $612
State income tax   $514
Net Pay      $7,064

In 2015, we also received $5696 federal income tax returns and $1,300 in state income tax returns.  We invested the vast majority. 

2015 Monthly expenses:
Contribution         $106.67
Mortgage/Taxes/Insurance   $1,710.38
Water            $67.23
Kid activities         $107.50
Cable and Internet      $120.97
Cellphones         $103.80
Gas/Power         $264.52
Insurance         $124.00
Student Loans         $519.87
Doctor Bills         $148.77
Prescriptions         $148.87
Auto (Gas & Maintenance)    $105.40
Groceries         $717.14
Entertainment (Movies, Etc.)    $56.52
Toiletries/Haircare/Diapers   $117.33
Clothing         $284.86
Eating out         $120.43
Travel            $151.36
Miscellaneous         $308.47
Home Improvement      $137.24
Gifts & Special Events      $250.97
Total Expenditure   $5,707.74

Mortgage principal is currently $10,000 (about half of total) for the year.  We saved close to $50,000 in 2015 not including mortgage principal.     

Assets:
Home - $235,000 value (reduced by 6% for realtor commission)
Emergency Savings - $20,000
457B - $83,849
Old 401a - $73,126
Roth IRA - $60,821
Vanguard Index - $54,192
Spousal IRA - $10,825
Stock - $11,153
401a - $10,481 (started investing partway through 2015)
Total - $548,966

Liabilities:
Mortgage - $155,735.  15-year at 3.5%.  Paid off in 12 years.
My student loan - $30,210 at 2.75%
Spouse student loan - $51,586 at 3.15%
Total – $237,431

Net worth: $322,016

Current Plan: My plan is to keep spending at current levels plus around 3% growth each year.  We will continue to max out the 457b, spousal IRA, and Roth IRA.  The $18,000 401a contribution is locked in and cannot be changed while with current employer.  I’m clearly focused on deferring taxes.  Any remaining funds (about $18,000 in 2015 thanks to income tax return) would be invested in Vanguard VTSAX.  I would like to retire in my early 50s with a likely work slow-down (less stress, less pay) before then.

Not in the Plan: I do not plan to pay extra on loans due to low interest rates.  I also do not plan to fund 529 accounts; rather we will help with some college expenses from cash flow based on spouse’s income at that time (which will be minimal).

Specific Questions:
Does the way that I’m allocating “retirement” funds and other savings make sense?
Does the current plan (above) sound reasonable?
Can I get feedback on current spending levels? 

I appreciate each of you for reading this.  Thank you.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2016, 07:28:11 PM by ruraljuror »

nereo

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #1 on: March 08, 2016, 07:09:23 PM »
Hello ruraljuror

well written post.  I'd say that overall you are doing very well - saving $300k+ by age 35 is something to be proud of.  $50k/year in savings will get you to your goals very quickly.
Quote
Specific Questions:
1) Does the way that I’m allocating “retirement” funds and other savings make sense?
2) Does the current plan (above) sound reasonable?
3) Can I get feedback on current spending levels? 

To #1 - I see no problems how you are allocating your "retirement" funds, though I fail to understand how a 401(a) plan cannot be changed.  ::shrug::

To #2 - two critiques; first why are you planning on not retiring (or at least reaching FI) before your early 50s (15+ years from now).  Based on your current savings rate, mortgage etc I see no reason why you couldn't in your mid 40s (or perhaps even earlier).  Second: why do you want to keep your spending at current levels (see #3, below)

To #3: Feedback on current spending levels. 
a) your life insurance policy seems insanely high.  For comparison, I have a 10y/$500k term insurance plan for about $264 and I am the same age.
b) groceries are high, clothing is high, and a few other categories are high (what's costing $308/mo for 'Miscellaneous'? - ditto for "gifts and events").  Even just trimming these categories a bit could net you another $5k/year.
c) I';m just floored by how much various insurances are costing.  $1632 health, $1019 Dental, $774 life, $124 vision, $124 (car?) insurance... and yet you are still paying $296/mo in doctors bills and medicine.  You might have special cirumstances but unless I'm reading that wrong you are spending $3,845/month on health care?  That's about what most families of 5 spend all year.

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2016, 07:56:52 PM »
Nereo - great observations and I appreciate the kind words.  I apologize for causing a bit of confusion with my numbers.  I updated the post b/c it originally had salary and deduction info for the year and expenses by the month.  Actually, I had put together detailed info for months and multiple years in tables that didn't transition well to the forum post.   I divided the annual numbers by 12, even though with 26 pay periods it doesn't technically work that way. 

I would certainly like to keep expenses flat or even cut back in the areas you suggested, but "miscellaneous" and "gifts/special event" areas have become spousal compromises.  I've assumed a 3% increase due to inflation and children potentially costing more as they age.  I've put together a massive spreadsheet and the numbers indicate that I'll reach 25x expenses in my early 50s. 

The 401a is a secondary account to the 457.  It's a defined contribution plan and each employee gets one opportunity to elect their contribution level.  When the account was created, I elected to contribute $18,000 per year. 

MDM

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2016, 10:10:07 PM »
Deferred Comp      $1,500
401a         $940
We will continue to max out the 457b, spousal IRA, and Roth IRA.
Just checking: $940 does not appear to be a "max out" number...?

Quote
In 2015, we also received $5696 federal income tax returns and $1,300 in state income tax returns.  We invested the vast majority.
Consider adjusting your W-4 so you get more take-home in each pay check, and auto-invest into your taxable account.

Quote
Cable and Internet      $120.97
Cellphones         $103.80
Clothing         $284.86
Three areas that seem ripe for reduction.

Quote
Gifts & Special Events      $250.97
Seems high at first glance, but we don't know how special the events were. :)

Quote
My student loan - $30,210 at 2.75%
Spouse student loan - $51,586 at 3.15%

Student Loans         $519.87
Seems low for the P&I quoted, assuming a 10 year payback.  Maybe you have a longer arrangement?

Quote
Miscellaneous         $308.47
You don't need (and shouldn't want) to account for every stick of gum you purchase, but if you can keep Misc to ~2-3% (you are at ~8%) of your non-loan repayment spending, you may find some hidden opportunities to reduce.

Quote
Current Plan: My plan is to keep spending at current levels plus around 3% growth each year.  Any remaining funds (about $18,000 in 2015 thanks to income tax return) would be invested in Vanguard VTSAX.
Looks reasonable, assuming you consider the various "areas to cut" suggestions you are getting.  The main "usual suspect" item that is missing is an HSA - have you considered the HDHP/HSA combination?  You also might consider adding 1-3 funds to your asset allocation - see https://www.bogleheads.org/wiki/Three-fund_portfolio - or go with something like VTTSX or VASGX.

Quote
Not in the Plan: I do not plan to pay extra on loans due to low interest rates.  I also do not plan to fund 529 accounts; rather we will help with some college expenses from cash flow based on spouse’s income at that time (which will be minimal).
Looks reasonable - no suggestions.

All in all, you are doing great - keep up the good work!  Items above are closer to nit picks than substantive suggestions.

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2016, 08:06:16 AM »
I really appreciate the responses. Here are a few follow-ups:

I'll be contributing $18,000 per year going forward into the 401a.  $940 was the average for 2015. We started the 401a around midyear. 

W-4 Changes - I made those after receiving those ridiculous refunds last year.  Just started my taxes and it looks like I'll be getting back $2,000 fed and $1,000 state this year.

Clothing - definitely an area to cut.  Spending on kids clothes seems to have gotten out of hand.

Gifts and special events - we had a few very special events :) but most were other kids' and family birthday gifts, events at church where we brought food/decorations, and holidays.  All targets for sure, so thanks.

Student Loans - we consolidated loans right out of college to 25 and 30 year terms. I can't remember now who guided us to that decision, but given the low rates I plan on making minimal payments - unless someone can convince me otherwise (which I'm open to).

Can't tell you how much I appreciate the review and "nitpicks".

nereo

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2016, 08:24:55 AM »
I really appreciate the responses. Here are a few follow-ups:

I'll be contributing $18,000 per year going forward into the 401a.  $940 was the average for 2015. We started the 401a around midyear. 

W-4 Changes - I made those after receiving those ridiculous refunds last year.  Just started my taxes and it looks like I'll be getting back $2,000 fed and $1,000 state this year.

Clothing - definitely an area to cut.  Spending on kids clothes seems to have gotten out of hand.

Gifts and special events - we had a few very special events :) but most were other kids' and family birthday gifts, events at church where we brought food/decorations, and holidays.  All targets for sure, so thanks.

Student Loans - we consolidated loans right out of college to 25 and 30 year terms. I can't remember now who guided us to that decision, but given the low rates I plan on making minimal payments - unless someone can convince me otherwise (which I'm open to).

Can't tell you how much I appreciate the review and "nitpicks".
As long as those SL are fixed I agree that there's no good reason to pay them off any earlier than you have to.

The only other 'nitpicks' that i have are these:
1) your grocery budget is still very high for a family of five.  I'd shoot for $500/mo, and there are lots of ideas online about how to achieve this.
2) drill a bit deeper to determine where $308/mo is going in the "Miscellaneous" category. 
3) Life insurance is still quite high for your age considering you should be 'self-insured' within about a decade.  what kind of insurance is this?
4) cable/internet and cell phones are both areas where you could  cut in half with little/no change in service.

Otherwise just keep doing what you are doing. You should be FI in about a decade.

DebtFreeBy25

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2016, 09:38:27 AM »
Your plan seems solid, and you have a lot of good things going for your family. I'm going to jump in with a few suggestions on three biggest opportunities I see: miscellaneous, grocery and clothing.

Regarding the miscellaneous category:
You've already quantified spending in this category which is a great first step. Next you should attempt to break down all of the individual purchases in the line item. Once you have a complete picture of what this spending looks like (Girl Scout cookies? ATM fees? Parking meters?), you can develop a plan to better manage it. 

Regarding groceries:

For produce, meat (if you eat it) and other fresh items, do some research on which local store has the best overall prices. If you have an Aldi's, they're probably the least expensive. Plan to buy most of these items at this store. The exception to this guideline would be to pick-up the "loss leaders" (items advertised in the store's circular for a good price) at another store if you're already shopping there.

For household necessities, toiletries and packaged foods: Aim to combine coupons with in-store sales and promotions. If you can get a non-perishable necessity, like toilet paper, at a great price, stock up. Here are some tips if you're totally new to couponing:
1. Download digital coupons from your store's website onto your loyalty card
2. Obtain weekly inserts from a family member or friend who's a newspaper subscriber (if possible)
3. Find the coupon blogger for your store of choice (ie. KrogerKrazy.com). These blogs save you tons of time by researching the best deals each week and providing full inclusion lists for promotions. The blogs will tell you how to match up coupons, rebates and promotions for the best price.
4. Print out a coupon if you know you want to buy a specific item. Coupon blogs will typically link you directly to the printable coupons.
5. Consider signing up for rebate sites like ibotta. (I don't do this, but we're a two person, low consumption household.)
6. Make a list and check it twice.
7. Set aside all of the physical coupons you plan to use on this trip.
8. Shop, save and submit for rebates (if you're using Ibotta, Savings Star, etc.)

Regarding clothes:
The best way to save money on clothes is by following this hierarchy for purchases. Start the search at the beginning and buy when you find an acceptable item.
1. Sale day at a thrift store (There are great finds to be had here. I've bought Banana Republic sweaters for $.25. Obviously, this isn't a great option for an immediate need.)
2. Yards sales or rummage sales- For yard sales, check the posting/ad for what size clothing they're listing before you go. Some sales may be a complete bust, but when you score, you often score big because the sellers typically will take whatever price they can get.
3. Regular price at a thrift store
4. Online second hand retailers-Ebay, ThredUp, Poshmark, etc. This is a good option if you're looking for something specific.
5. Consignment stores- Their merchandise is priced higher than thrift stores, but they're much more selective regarding the quality and condition of the items.
6. Clearance at an outlet store. Note that most items at outlet stores are specifically manufactured for the outlet and was never intended to be sold regular retail.
7. Clearance at a retail store. Sometimes you can find better prices here than at an outlet.
8. Comparison shop online. (Good if you're looking for a specific item.)
Hopefully by this point you've found what you need. If not, the search proceeds with sale or promotion eligible merchandise from outlets, then retail stores, etc.


« Last Edit: March 12, 2016, 09:40:06 AM by DebtFreeBy25 »

esq

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2016, 11:53:40 AM »
Welcome, ruraljuror.  I'm just trying to figure out how to say your name three times fast. =)

nereo

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2016, 11:55:14 AM »
Welcome, ruraljuror. I'm just trying to figure out how to say your name three times fast. =)

oooh, that really is a tongue-twister! 

LouLou

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2016, 12:44:26 PM »
Welcome, ruraljuror. I'm just trying to figure out how to say your name three times fast. =)

oooh, that really is a tongue-twister!

This is from 30 Rock correct?

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #10 on: March 12, 2016, 02:02:21 PM »
Welcome, ruraljuror. I'm just trying to figure out how to say your name three times fast. =)

oooh, that really is a tongue-twister!

This is from 30 Rock correct?

Yes. Obscure reference to a really funny episode.

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #11 on: March 12, 2016, 02:08:15 PM »
Your plan seems solid, and you have a lot of good things going for your family. I'm going to jump in with a few suggestions on three biggest opportunities I see: miscellaneous, grocery and clothing.

Regarding the miscellaneous category:
You've already quantified spending in this category which is a great first step. Next you should attempt to break down all of the individual purchases in the line item. Once you have a complete picture of what this spending looks like (Girl Scout cookies? ATM fees? Parking meters?), you can develop a plan to better manage it. 

Regarding groceries:

For produce, meat (if you eat it) and other fresh items, do some research on which local store has the best overall prices. If you have an Aldi's, they're probably the least expensive. Plan to buy most of these items at this store. The exception to this guideline would be to pick-up the "loss leaders" (items advertised in the store's circular for a good price) at another store if you're already shopping there.

For household necessities, toiletries and packaged foods: Aim to combine coupons with in-store sales and promotions. If you can get a non-perishable necessity, like toilet paper, at a great price, stock up. Here are some tips if you're totally new to couponing:
1. Download digital coupons from your store's website onto your loyalty card
2. Obtain weekly inserts from a family member or friend who's a newspaper subscriber (if possible)
3. Find the coupon blogger for your store of choice (ie. KrogerKrazy.com). These blogs save you tons of time by researching the best deals each week and providing full inclusion lists for promotions. The blogs will tell you how to match up coupons, rebates and promotions for the best price.
4. Print out a coupon if you know you want to buy a specific item. Coupon blogs will typically link you directly to the printable coupons.
5. Consider signing up for rebate sites like ibotta. (I don't do this, but we're a two person, low consumption household.)
6. Make a list and check it twice.
7. Set aside all of the physical coupons you plan to use on this trip.
8. Shop, save and submit for rebates (if you're using Ibotta, Savings Star, etc.)

Regarding clothes:
The best way to save money on clothes is by following this hierarchy for purchases. Start the search at the beginning and buy when you find an acceptable item.
1. Sale day at a thrift store (There are great finds to be had here. I've bought Banana Republic sweaters for $.25. Obviously, this isn't a great option for an immediate need.)
2. Yards sales or rummage sales- For yard sales, check the posting/ad for what size clothing they're listing before you go. Some sales may be a complete bust, but when you score, you often score big because the sellers typically will take whatever price they can get.
3. Regular price at a thrift store
4. Online second hand retailers-Ebay, ThredUp, Poshmark, etc. This is a good option if you're looking for something specific.
5. Consignment stores- Their merchandise is priced higher than thrift stores, but they're much more selective regarding the quality and condition of the items.
6. Clearance at an outlet store. Note that most items at outlet stores are specifically manufactured for the outlet and was never intended to be sold regular retail.
7. Clearance at a retail store. Sometimes you can find better prices here than at an outlet.
8. Comparison shop online. (Good if you're looking for a specific item.)
Hopefully by this point you've found what you need. If not, the search proceeds with sale or promotion eligible merchandise from outlets, then retail stores, etc.

Thanks so much for the specific recommendations, these will be a great help.

LeRainDrop

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2016, 06:04:11 PM »
Current Plan: My plan is to keep spending at current levels plus around 3% growth each year.  We will continue to max out the 457b, spousal IRA, and Roth IRA.  The $18,000 401a contribution is locked in and cannot be changed while with current employer.  I’m clearly focused on deferring taxes.  Any remaining funds (about $18,000 in 2015 thanks to income tax return) would be invested in Vanguard VTSAX.  I would like to retire in my early 50s with a likely work slow-down (less stress, less pay) before then.

Not in the Plan: I do not plan to pay extra on loans due to low interest rates.  I also do not plan to fund 529 accounts; rather we will help with some college expenses from cash flow based on spouse’s income at that time (which will be minimal).

Specific Questions:
Does the way that I’m allocating “retirement” funds and other savings make sense?
Does the current plan (above) sound reasonable?
Can I get feedback on current spending levels? 

I appreciate each of you for reading this.  Thank you.

#1, yes, makes sense to me.

#2, yes, I think your "current plan" is a great plan, though I personally probably would not add in an annual 3% increase.  Your largest expense, the mortgage should not be increasing year over year (unless, like me, your property taxes keep going up, so the lender asks for a higher escrow amount).  The 3% thing is pretty interesting, though -- perhaps I should consider adding a percentage to my own plan.  Also, VTSAX is a very good holding.  I personally do VFIAX and VTIAX, but those are what I started with; if I were starting anew from $0, I would probably pick VTSAX, like you.

#3, most of your spending levels seem reasonable to me, though there are a few categories that look a little high in my opinion, including:

Contribution         $106.67  What does this category mean?  Retirement funds?
Gas/Power         $264.52  This looks pretty high for a single month.  Do you run the laundry too frequently and with smaller, rather than full, loads?
Groceries         $717.14  For your size family, since you count your toiletries and diapers in a separate category, I would aim to keep this groceries category no higher than $500 per month.
Clothing         $284.86  This sounds pretty high to me.  Growing up, my mom would agree to my dad's budget on this, but then she always bought me and my brothers a little extra and said, "don't tell your dad."  Of course, since they had their money in a joint account, he always figured it out but not until later in the month when it messed up his budgeting and balancing the checkbook.  Not sure what the lesson is -- maybe that if you were to try to be strict, your wife might still go over budget anyway, so it's a good thing that you're already compromising here.

These categories sound like they probably overlap to me, so I would look at them as a whole and figure out if you can cut some of the spending down.  The latter two categories especially stand out to me as areas that can probably be reduced.

Kid activities         $107.50
Entertainment (Movies, Etc.)    $56.52
Travel            $151.36
Miscellaneous         $308.47
Gifts & Special Events      $250.97

All in all, I think you and your spouse have put your family in a great position and are doing quite well.  My comments are also just nitpicks since you asked for them, not things that stood out to me as absolutely necessary changes.  I hope you stick with this forum and join in a variety of conversations on here!
« Last Edit: March 12, 2016, 06:08:29 PM by LeRainDrop »

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #13 on: March 12, 2016, 09:12:40 PM »
Contribution is giving to church, which will be going up this year
Our electricity is high due to a money sucking swimming pool.
Clothing definitely has to be a focus

I'll take each critique to heart and appreciate the affirmation. Thank y'all.

wintertell

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #14 on: March 13, 2016, 04:39:49 PM »
I really like the idea of breaking down the "Misc" category so you get true optics on what is going in the catch all category.

Only other thing to add:
Also, maybe set budgets for kids' birthdays, relatives' birthdays and Christmas? So X amount for your own kids, cap presents at $15 or less for not-your-kids birthdays, and then a Christmas budget? Our Christmas budget all in is $700.

So not saying cut automatically, but that you and your spouse try to place a budget on this to bring it down.  Also maybe push back if there is a lot of expensive gift-giving with your bigger family vs. experiences or just getting presents for the kids, etc.

Also, we use cash reward CCs and save up all year to subsidize either our family vacation or Christmas.

I bet you could bring it down to an $125/month or so on average instead of $250/month.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #15 on: March 14, 2016, 06:15:08 AM »
Apparently cleaning your pool filter often can really reduce the electricity usage of your pump.

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #16 on: March 14, 2016, 07:23:23 AM »
Wait wait wait . . . A Swimming Pool???????????

Interested to hear the value that this adds to your + family's lives against the costs + maintenance time and cost of alternatives (public pool, friends with a pool). Is it heated? How often is it used, etc.

nereo

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #17 on: March 14, 2016, 07:59:09 AM »
Wait wait wait . . . A Swimming Pool???????????

Interested to hear the value that this adds to your + family's lives against the costs + maintenance time and cost of alternatives (public pool, friends with a pool). Is it heated? How often is it used, etc.
Yes, that raised my eyebrows a bit too, but...
NOT caring for an existing swimming pool can be far more expensive than daily maintenance.  If it's heated, turn the heater off/down (and get a cover), if you're paying someone else to care for it stop and learn to do it yourself (it's not hard). In the future, don't buy a house with a pool unless you are FI.

I speak as someone who spent 8 years managing residential and neighborhood pools.

Apples

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #18 on: March 14, 2016, 09:05:30 AM »
Welcome, ruraljuror. I'm just trying to figure out how to say your name three times fast. =)

oooh, that really is a tongue-twister!

This is from 30 Rock correct?

Yes. Obscure reference to a really funny episode.

I just watched the several episodes referencing The Rural Juror in the last week.  I was so hoping that's where your username came from.  It's the only reason I'm on your thread hahaha.

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #19 on: March 18, 2016, 03:06:10 PM »
Wait wait wait . . . A Swimming Pool???????????

Interested to hear the value that this adds to your + family's lives against the costs + maintenance time and cost of alternatives (public pool, friends with a pool). Is it heated? How often is it used, etc.
Yes, that raised my eyebrows a bit too, but...
NOT caring for an existing swimming pool can be far more expensive than daily maintenance.  If it's heated, turn the heater off/down (and get a cover), if you're paying someone else to care for it stop and learn to do it yourself (it's not hard). In the future, don't buy a house with a pool unless you are FI.

I speak as someone who spent 8 years managing residential and neighborhood pools.

Surprised it took so long for someone to punch me for that one.  Another spousal compromise - she fell in love with the house when we relocated to another state 2 years ago.  Since discovering Mustachianism, I've threatened to get a quote for having the thing removed. I maintain the pool myself and have never paid anyone for work associated with the system.  The pool is used virtually every day during the warm months - often multiple times per day.  I've yet to calculate the full costs, but I budget for salt and chemicals in "home improvement", which I believe to be reasonable as a whole (see original post).  electricity is likely the killer and our bills are nuts in the summer.  My wife has agreed that our next home will not include a swimming pool. We recognize the cost of the pool and limit other activities to make up for the expense.  We also have the kids help with routine maintenance.  The pool is not heated.  We don't currently have a cover and getting one might be expensive given that the pool is huge and custom. 

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2016, 03:09:12 PM »
Welcome, ruraljuror. I'm just trying to figure out how to say your name three times fast. =)

oooh, that really is a tongue-twister!

This is from 30 Rock correct?

Yes. Obscure reference to a really funny episode.

I just watched the several episodes referencing The Rural Juror in the last week.  I was so hoping that's where your username came from.  It's the only reason I'm on your thread hahaha.

That's it exactly.  I've never lived in a rural area nor have i been a juror.  Those are funny episodes and I need to watch them again. 

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #21 on: March 26, 2016, 07:39:03 AM »
Is it crazy to consider removing a 5 year old pool?  Anyone done this?

nereo

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #22 on: March 26, 2016, 09:30:16 AM »
Is it crazy to consider removing a 5 year old pool?  Anyone done this?
well, my first job in and out college was working for a company that serviced residential pools.  It sounds like you are talking about an in-ground, fairly large residential pool (do you know the volume?).  If so, the costs of removing it are pretty sizable.  It's basically an excavation job requiring heavy equipment, digging permits and a couple of containers full of debris.

First question I have is whether it's operating as it should.  Any large underwater leaks (are you constantly having to refill it)?  Is the white coat (the surface of the pool) in good condition?  Filter systems all good?  If yes, yes and yes, it seems premature to dig it up, especially since it sounds like your family gets a lot of enjoyment out of the pool.  You might consider enjoying the pool until you have a major problem, and then paying (several $k) to remove it instead of fix it.  It's not like you can sell a pool like you could an SUV to recoup some of your loses.

Also, what climate are you in?  Are you somewhere that the ground freezes in winter, or can it be used year-round?

I highly recommend looking into getting a pool cover.  It will reduce the amount of chemicals you need (Chlorine evaporates) while reducing algae buildup. Covers also limit the dirt & leaves that get into your water.  They can be a PITA to take on and off though, so you'll have to weigh that with cost savings. Even floating covers will save you money in the long run.

ruraljuror

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2016, 01:46:41 PM »
Everything on the pool works well.  We've put very little money into it so far other than chemicals, salt and operating costs.  It's somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 gallons. 

I may go ahead and get quotes for removing the pool (which my spouse may never allow) and for a custom cover.  Fear with the cover is that the cheap ones can be very dangerous if a child were to fall in.  We live in Arkansas so the pool can't be used in the winter as it's not a heated pool.  But, we have to run it in the winter to keep the system from freezing and keep the water from getting too gross.  I'm assuming a cover will keep us from running the system all winter if we drain the system???

Here's another question - If we move within the next 5 years, I would be interested in keeping our current home as a rental. Based on the specifics I provided in the case study, do you think this could work within our overall financial picture?  I would need to refinance to a 30 year mortgage for the cash flow to work out, I think. 

apricity

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #24 on: April 07, 2016, 01:53:27 PM »
Just popping in to say I laughed out loud at your screen name. I remember that episode. HA!

meandmyfamily

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2016, 08:37:12 PM »
I am a SAHM with 4 kids and our clothing budget is only $75 a month average.  I think that is one area you could work on.  Our kids are 12, 10, 5 and 5.

We also only spent $84 on haircuts last year.  Once you are out of diapers that category could be lots less. 

I don't know if your wife likes finance blogs but this one inspires me:  http://www.frugalwoods.com/

We have a pool that I LOVE and my husband would love to remove.  We live in AZ and use it March through Sept.  It does cost extra.  The kids and I love it.  The lowest I can get our electric bill down per month is $110 (that is only in the winter).  I know it is mostly the pool.

I agree misc. needs to be broken down.  I love YNAB for this.  Gifts is high unless that includes Christmas.

We spend WAY more on kids activities but that is just what jumped out to me.  Every family is different.


« Last Edit: April 08, 2016, 08:45:41 PM by meandmyfamily »

randymarsh

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #26 on: April 08, 2016, 09:08:52 PM »
I say keep the pool! I love home pools. I know they're not really practical, but they provide a great outdoor living space and maybe even encourage a "staycation". Sounds like you guys get a lot of use out of yours.

Full disclosure: I'm never had to take care of a pool.


nereo

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Re: Case Study: Where do we go from here?
« Reply #27 on: April 09, 2016, 08:36:11 AM »
Everything on the pool works well.  We've put very little money into it so far other than chemicals, salt and operating costs.  It's somewhere between 30,000 and 35,000 gallons. 

I may go ahead and get quotes for removing the pool (which my spouse may never allow) and for a custom cover.  Fear with the cover is that the cheap ones can be very dangerous if a child were to fall in.  We live in Arkansas so the pool can't be used in the winter as it's not a heated pool.  But, we have to run it in the winter to keep the system from freezing and keep the water from getting too gross.  I'm assuming a cover will keep us from running the system all winter if we drain the system???

Just catching up on this.  Certainly if you have young children a floating cover can be dangerous, and you'll need more expensive 'fixed' cover (one that attaches to the decking around the pool.

What a cover does is keep debris out and reduce the amount of chemicals (particularly chlorine) you need.  Sunlight (UV) destroys chlorine, as does any organic thing in the pool (whether that's people or leaves). When your pool is covered you'll need maybe 1/10th the chemicals.  I wouldn't advise draining the filtration system, but a covered pool doesn't need constant filtration.  Instead, you could run your pumps for 10-15 minutes ~4x a day.  Because there's very little debris getting into the system you can backwash maybe once/month (whenever the pressure starts to climb).
You'll also notice in teh springtime that your pool will be in much better shape... no scum-line, no need to 'shock' the pool.

you've got a big pool for a home so a cover might be several $k.  Still worth considering IMO.  G'luck.