Author Topic: Couple working on mustaches--then job offer two hours apart!! Seeking wisdom...  (Read 3844 times)

Masha

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Hi there Mustachians,

I've been reading MMM since April, and have been so excited to learn about this way of life that is so much more exciting than thinking of myself simply as "cheap."
In the couple of years since I finished my graduate degree, my DH and I have paid off about $6K in student loans, and, more importantly, we've used this time to catch up on medical/dental care to the tune of $15K out of pocket. We are taking baby steps together to control our "fun" spending, mostly because we both grew up in families that had terrible financial management(and no money, hence all the dental work), so money is an extremely loaded and emotional topic for us. Little tiny baby steps together....

After being freelance for the last couple years, I have been offered my dream job in a town two hours away from our current home. We are planning to take the job, for several reasons including eventually wanting to live in that town anyway, instead of in the boonies like we do now. DH will be keeping his job. Of course I know this probably seems crazy to a lot of people, but my field is a tiny and highly specialized and I can't fathom turning it down.

It looks like we can make this move without maintaining two households, which should allow us to live on the smaller of the two incomes and continue getting our mustaches groomed, so they can grow beautiful bushy handlebars. Here's how: DH has family near his job, so he can live at home during the week(for free or close to it), and we can can set up house in the town with my job. My dilemna is that we are currently renting a house and there is going to be some overlap for a few months so I'm struggling with seemingly insurmountable indecision about whether I should get a very small apartment for a few months, or go ahead and rent a house that will work for us  longer term while we position ourselves to buy a house.

Here are some numbers-- I would really appreciate some MMM input, apply facepunches as needed.

Net income:
DH $3572
Me $100-500 (will be $2000)

Debt:
Student loan 1 $29K @2.125%
Student loan 2 $7K @2.125%

Assets:
DH's TSP(retirement)  $25K
my Roth IRA               $6K
old account                 $1700  (this is the 401K from an old job, its needs to go somewhere so it can work for me!)
SO EXCITING-- new job has 5% match for me!

Savings   $15K  (I sleep better at night with an e-fund, but I realize it probably doesn't need to be this much)
Checking $ 2431                             
 
Cars fully paid for: two fuel efficient economy cars, and a hobby car/daily driver that brings DH enormous joy

Monthly spending:
Rent           700
Power         100
Phone         84  (landline- only available internet here)
Cell             95 (Verizon, switching to prepaid when contract ends in March)
Insurance    140 (auto and renters)
Stu. loan 1   75
Stu. loan 2  200
gas/auto     300 (we live/work in a rural area that requires driving for everything- this is part of the appeal of moving to the city job)
food           450
TSP            240 (to get  5% match)
Roth IRA     100
Savings       425  (this is mostly earmarked for heating oil, eventual car, and medical dental costs)
Mad $$        200 (this goes straight to DHs account and is the money he can spend no questions asked)
Netflix         8  (just switched to streaming only)
Cats            20 (Badassity--I found a clinic that sees them for routine care for $0-10)
Other          350-600 (I've been watching this all year to see where it goes, and while there is some clothing, fun stuff, it seems like most of it goes to what seem like legit expenses-auto repair, oil for heat, professional dues and memberships, and fun stuff like an auto mechanics class this month) this is the one that makes me feel like an MMM fail because I don't want to be a whineypants, but it seems like there's something every single month.

Total monthly spending:  $3487

So whats our ultimate goal? We are both very productive people, and we love what we do and I can't imagine a time we would ever not be tinkering on several projects that are technically "work," so our idea of FIRE is simply to have choices about the work we do.  I made a lovely YMOYL chart of spending last year, and was really happy to see that we only spent more than we earned one month, when we had an emergency auto repair for which we pulled from savings. For us, this is huge progress, although I realize even saying that probably deserves a facepunch. 

With my new job, some of our spending will go down, and my goal is to cover our basic living expenses with my salary, about 2K net. This frees DHs salary for heavy saving and paying off student loans.

Damn, this got long. I'll go ahead and post and answer/ explain as needed. We are 31 and 35, no kids.
Thanks so much!

RoseRelish

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My wife and I have been doing the "commuter couple" thing since Halloween. I stay with my brother in the big city and she stays in our new house back home. We used to split the difference, but a great house came up for sale that we pounced on.

Just be mindful that living separately during the week sucks. I mean totally terrible. We lived apart during the week during college too, and didn't care for it then - but knew the end was close. For the last few years we've seen each other every day and got spoiled I guess.

When will your DH be moving to the city with you? Is he actively looking for new jobs? That's the key to your decision here...you need to have a plan for ending the separate living arrangement.

Masha

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Thanks Widerhaken, Yeah, we know how bad it sucks. For two years we were 5-8 states apart. We swore we wouldn't do it again.

....and then we moved back together and its been great (yay!) but I've only been working off and on, and having a horrible time find anything(and I do mean anything) local. I applied for anything remotely related, and started leaving huge chunks of education/experience off my resume in the hopes that it wouldn't look so over-qualified for the kinds of jobs available. 

Then this offer came along and I feel like I can't turn it down, so I'm trying to think of ways to make it the best possible situation for us.

Financially we're just getting on our feet, and I keep telling myself if I focus on that, we can make it work.

You're so right though, we do need a plan for when it will end. Husband's gig is as secure as any, and as noted, pays nearly double what mine will, but he will eventually want to move on.

RoseRelish

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I'd say to take the job and give yourselves 12 months to figure it all out. You don't want to let your skills and obvious desire to do the job you've been offered go to waste. If in 12 months it's not working for the two of you, make the tough decision that something has to give - either you come back or DH comes to you - that way it's not an indefinite period of time. Heck, make it a 6 month experiment! Whatever you can stomach.

Another Reader

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Yours is the new job and still the smaller income of the two.  In your shoes, I would rent cheap near your new job and find a new tenant for your existing rental so you can get out from underneath that expense.  I would not even consider buying until I had paid off the remaining debt and was secure in the job.  The hubby would have to transfer and move as well.

I would pay off the smaller of the student loans yesterday.  The interest rate is very low, but these things are dangerous if you get into trouble because there is no way to get out from under them.  At your age, you should both be saving more in retirement accounts.  Some of your budget items should be cut as well.  In fact, you need a budget because you are not accounting for the $300-$600.  I would discuss reducing or eliminating hubby's "allowance."  He is not 9 years old, and it needs to be included in your budget.  By moving to a studio apartment or sonething like that near your new job, the housing-related expenses should drop dramatically and you can increase the debt pay-off and savings by a lot.

In your shoes, I would work out the bare bones plan and sit down with your spouse and talk it through.  See how little you can agree to spend so you can pay off the debt (your hair is smoking...), catch up on retirement, and move forward with your lives.

twinge

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I think psychologically the being apart during the week and having weekends together can work pretty well if you don't have kids--especially given that you're only 2 hours apart.  I think the trick is to make your weeks super work-productive, get your errands and crap done, and do all your introverted alone time stuff during the week and then each weekend seems like a date and you're really happy to see each other, you plan fun (cheap/free :) ) outings etc.  Another key thing will be, whichever place you stay in for the weekend has to feel like "home" to both people.

Jill the Pill

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I'd take heating oil out of the "savings" and "other" categories.  It's a major, inevitable, routine expense.  Get your total from last year and divide by 12. 

You might want to do the same with auto repairs, medical bills, and professional fees.  It will help you separate out the necessary, somewhat-predictable expenses from discretionary ones and unmask the illusion of earmarked savings.  In other words, if you put away $300 for the oil bill, that isn't really your saved money; it's money you just haven't spent yet. 

Another Reader is right --  if you're really only saving about $100 a month, $200 fun money for the husband seems quite high. 

Quote
With my new job, some of our spending will go down, and my goal is to cover our basic living expenses with my salary, about 2K net.

Don't be so sure.  Your car expenses may increase with the distance between you.  You will need work clothes, and you may have less time to cook or shop around for discounts.  You can probably decrease spending with effort; don't assume it will happen spontaneously. 

James

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In your shoes, I would work out the bare bones plan and sit down with your spouse and talk it through.  See how little you can agree to spend so you can pay off the debt (your hair is smoking...), catch up on retirement, and move forward with your lives.

Just want to second this.

Christiana

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Would it be possible for you to go car-free in your new city, and so have one less car?

Masha

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omg my hair IS SMOKING AND IT STINKS!!!

Wow, seeing responses to my own case study is certainly humbling, even in the relative anonymity of the web.
Thank you all for you excellent suggestions so far.

We can get a 1BR or Studio with utilities in the new city for less than our current rent, there are even options close enough to my new job that I can walk/bike. Going carless in the city may be possible, but that will depend somewhat on my job-I will have to travel some for work and the expectation is that I'll use my own car. I'll have to start the job and see about this. I am totally open to getting rid one if we can. That would be badass.

talk about a fucking wake up call. Another Reader, you hit this right on the head, I have been doing all this reading, tracking where our money goes and wanting to make badass plans, without really having a plan with my spouse. I just haven't wanted to bother him with something he hates talking about. He gets upset and starts talking in extremes-"I'll sell everything I own and cancel the appointment for my root canal tomorrow." But I guess we just have to grow up and deal with this. I'm going to give all of this some thought and talk with him over the weekend to come up with a plan--maybe sell some stuff, but the root canal/crown is long-term value. Its also the last major dental expense to get us both in good health. Thank goodness. 

Jill-- oohhhhH. Thats why it doesn't feel like we're saving. hm. we're not. how could I not have realized this? I did make a month-by-month list of expected costs(dental cleanings, auto reg and taxes, vision exams, cat rabies shots, professonal dues, etc) but I have not added them up to figure out average monthly costs. I will do this tonight based on my calendar. To risk a dumb question--how do you keep track of that money? do you keep a separate account, or just a running tally somewhere?

Luckily my work wardrobe is in pretty good shape. I will have to dress nicely, but I have maintained my wardrobe while unemployed, and have a good base of quality pieces. You are right though that there will be some increased costs--gas and food are the most likely culprits.

$200 fun money is high. There's no real reason for it either--we started this when we lived apart before so I didn't have to track every sandwich of his from 1000 miles away. Can be done away with when DH and I discuss plan.

In some ways reading these responses I feel so clueless for not seeing a better way on my own, but I have ro remind myself that until three years ago, our household income was never over 25K.  In three years since our income increased, we've paid off 5K in CC debt, 6K in student loans and 15K in dental work,along with moving between staes twice for work, so dammit, we can do what needs to be done. We need to agree on a better way.

As part of the new plan, I am considering using 10K of our e-fund to pay off 7k loan and start on 29k. That leaves 5K to keep me sleeping well. If we do that, would it make more sense to throw everything we can each month at the remaining loan, or divide between the loan and retirement catch-up?

Thank you again for the suggestions. I'll update on the new plan after our conversation.

Another Reader

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In your shoes, I would see how much money I could squeeze out of the budget before I allocated the money.  You have three goals, paying off the student loan, saving for retirement, and buying a house.  I would try to balance the retirement catch up against the student loan at first.  My goal would be to get the balance down on what will be $26k after the proposed payoff to a point where I could sleep well knowing it had to be paid and I had only one income to work with.  I would also want to get the benefit of compounded growth on the retirement.  For me, buying the house would wait until I was completely on track with the first two goals and could save up a substantial down payment.  I would be much less stressed about being a homeowner if my income was healthy and predictable and all my other financial obligations were minimized and stable.

Mint.com is a useful tool for tracking money in your situation.  If budgeting is the problem, lots of folks here really like You Need a Budget (YNAB).  Now, go get the hubs on board!