Author Topic: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?  (Read 9135 times)

drew61199

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Modified for requested more info:
Combined gross income - 120k yr plus 5-10k in bonuses / extra pay
These are all monthly:
Net is around $6900 (taxes, insurance, retirement contributions - doesn't include bonus/extra pay)
Rent - 880
Utilities - 550 (water, elec, trash, cable/internet, cell, car ins)
Daycare/child support - 1550
Car payment - 260
Debt - 1175 (can knock a 1/3 of that out now when I sell our boat)
Fuel - 400
I'm sure there are some minor odds & ends, but that is the bulk of it. No monthly budget - spend pretty freely (like went to Disney last weekend to tune of $700 for a day, but those are things that we do enjoy / will be hard to initially sacrifice)

I'll apologize in advance for the length, but feel it's necessary to explain our situation. Also, the situation is set - no time machine exists, so I can't change what's been done (wouldn't want to anyway b/c I'm happy). So, in your MMM mindset, what, if anything, can we do?

I stumbled across this site a few days ago and have read quite a bit. I've also read / listened to Dave Ramsey recently and my wife and I are ready to start our path of financial freedom. We're 34 and 32, combined income of $120k (plus 5-10k in bonuses / extra pay). Have some consumer debt (cc and 1 vehicle), but nothing we can't knock out in 18-24 months w/ focus and determination. Minimal liquid savings ($2k emer fund), but have a positive net worth when retirement acct factored in ($75k). We have some expensive mandatory obligations - daycare is $1300/mo (and that's part time b/c we juggle our work schedules on T/Th) and my child support of $250/mo. I'm ready to cut cable, scale back on shopping, eating out, etc, but have one HUGE dilemma - "clown cars"

This is both of our second marriage and we each have one child from our first marriages and now two together (so four combined). We rent a house from my in-laws that is honestly too small (3bed 1200sq/ft), but manageable for the short time while our children are young (8,5,1 and 10wks) and we only have all four half the week. We LOVE the town - both grew up here, family here and the best school district in the state. It is expensive though, so buying a sizable house (4 bed) does pose a problem. We both work 45 miles away (north), but don't want to live in that area (big city) b/c crime, schools, traffic, etc are less than desirable (obviously not ALL schools, but the good ones come w/ high housing costs too). Our jobs don't exist in our town. I work for a federal agency (13yrs) and there are only 15 or so of my positions in the state and the next closest is Orlando (over 100 miles away). I'm not leaving b/c I love my job, great benefits and have a pension (ideally work to 57 and retire at 40%). My wife is in retail, so she COULD work just about anywhere, but has been at her company over 10yrs, is well regarded and has a higher than avg pay (also her boss's "succession plan" when he moves on). That's an incentive to stay b/c then she'd work from home & have a company car.

My step-daughter lives w/ her father 130 miles away and we have her every weekend, all school holidays, summer, etc. Sooo, we drive a TON. It is out of necessity though. My wife leaves every Fri morning to drive the 2hrs to pick up her daughter from school and then the 2hrs back.  Then Sun evenings we drive halfway to meet her father. This is unavoidable. So w/ daily commutes, I drive almost 25k, my wife 35k miles!! Moving further south would make us closer to her, but lengthen our daily commutes or pose an opposite problem that I would have to drive to pick up my son. We have three vehicles - 03 Golf diesel (252k), 02 Yukon XL (165k) and 11 VW CC (80k). Golf is my commuter, Yukon is family ride and CC is my wife's. The addition of our little girl two months ago is causing us problems though. We regularly find ourselves in situations where we have more butts than seats (at least legally). My wife takes my son and two babies to school on Mon & Tues, but I pick them all up. So either she drives the Yukon and I have to go to her work to swap vehicles(10 miles outta my way) or one of us is having to put a 5yr old in the front seat (illegal and not safe). On Fridays my wife picks up all four kids. The Yukon is a gas hog and the higher mileage makes us nervous (not if I'm driving, but heaven forbid it stranded my wife/kids - especially if 100+ miles away). It's paid for though, so I don't want to sell it. The only car we owe on is her CC (upside down $2k). We're not in the position to outright buy a larger vehicle. So, does MMM approve of financing a "3 row" vehicle for the safety of my wife & kids? I may then have to sell my Golf (paid for, but 5spd and my wife "can't" drive it) and start driving the Yukon to eliminate swapping vehicles with her and avoiding legal/safety concerns of my son in front of the car. The only other option I see is getting her the "newer" (NOT NEW - looking for something under $20k w/ 50k or less miles) and sell the Yukon too, but we're back at swapping vehicles again AND two financed vehicles b/c she refuses to drive a 5spd (said she tried learning in her teens and couldn't do it). I'd rather not owe on two and it does actually work out to be cheaper to daily drive the Yukon than pay a 2nd car loan (if you don't factor in environmental or the "a$$hole" factors).

In addition to that, when it comes to homes, the market is on fire here again. We're not ready though - I know that much. WHEN we pay everything off, it will take at least another 18-24 months for down payment (so we're talking 4yrs total down the road). Kids will be bigger and this house will seem even smaller. Do MMM advocate retirement loans for down payment? I'm guessing not. I've considered just renting a larger house, but we have a great deal on this one (in-law owned) and a 4 bed w/o that "connection" will run about $800-1000 more (which will slow our progress). There's also a stigma of "lifelong renters" that we're missing out on appreciation plus it'd be nice to have a "free" place to live in retirement.

So, I'm open to discussion on vehicle / housing issues. The housing isn't as important right now as vehicle, but the day will come. Are there any lifelong MMM renters? Any MMM long-commuters? I realize that goes against the philosophies and that brings me back to the thread title. Is it impossible to live MMM-like?
« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 06:47:32 PM by drew61199 »

mm1970

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 11:39:02 AM »
Okay, I don't understand a couple of things.

If you are picking up the kids, why is the 5 year old in the front seat?  You should have room for 3 in the back.  You can google "3 car seats in a VW Golf" and find pictures, though you may  have to choose your carseats and placement.  I have a small car and for awhile picked up 3 kids, all 3 in carseats.  And then it went to 4, and one of them was in the front.

FYI, in California, you are allowed to have a child under 7 in the front seat AS LONG AS THE BACK SEAT IS FULL OF CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 7.  So, while it's not the safest, during the time I picked up 4 children, there was a 7 year old in the front seat for the 3/4 mile trip home from school.

Certainly I'd sell the Yukon and replace with a used minivan that's better on gas, if you are often driving with all 4 kids.

lhamo

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 12:16:16 PM »
What's your overall budget like?  Understand that the childcare/child support bill is high, but presumably your rent is reasonable.  Gas will obviously be high.  But still, you shouldn't be living paycheck to paycheck in FL with a 120k+ annual income. 

The cars may seem like the main issue, but I'm guessing it is really more a matter of getting overall spending in control.  Post more details on your budget breakdown (preferably using the case study template) and you will probably get better feedback.

Rezdent

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2015, 12:33:16 PM »
Welcome to the forum.
Here are some of my thoughts when I read your post:

Yep, entirely possible to become more like MMM.  There's quite a few here with lots of kids, they are doing awesome.

The bigger the ship, the longer it takes to turn it.  You didn't get in this spot overnight, and it will take you some time to optimize.  Really recommend that you do a case study.

As the kids grow, it doesn't mean the house will be more crowded.  Lots of people have kids in small houses and it works out fine.  Buying sometimes works out cheaper than renting, but you don't sound like you're in a position to buy anytime soon.

If the cars and commutes are truly non-negotiable, you'll have to double down hard on everything else. But I think you'll find some leeway in both areas once you start analyzing.  Sometimes it makes sense to get rid of a vehicle even if you lose money.

You are making good money.  If you are not able to cobble together cash for a used car, you are living too close to the edge...hair on fire stuff.  Again, really recommend you do a full case study.


tweezers

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2015, 12:35:29 PM »
mm1970 is right.  Three across in a Golf is doable, and even if you have to buy three new car seats it will be far cheaper than a new vehicle (e.g. Diono Radians are very narrow).

Car-seat.org is a fantastic resource, and there are several threads like the one below.  If you don't find one that covers your specific situation, post a new question.  Babies-R-Us will allow you to try out seats before buying.

http://www.car-seat.org/showthread.php?t=130129

TrMama

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2015, 12:38:32 PM »
I'd sell the Yukon and just make do with the two smaller cars. If you all need to go somewhere together, you'll have to take both cars, but I can't see that happening very often. There are car seat forums where you can get advice on which carseats and configurations will work with your cars.

Most newer vehicles have a weight sensor in the front passenger seat that disables the front airbag unless the person sitting there is over 60lbs. The VW CC should have this feature. My car has this and I've been letting my kids ride in the front seat for years.

The older VW is likely nearing the end of its useful life and when you replace it, you can make sure you get one with a weight sensor.

Kitsune

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2015, 12:48:46 PM »
I'm the oldest of 3, and all 3 of us squeezed into the back seat of a Golf/Jetta until we were old enough to move out, car seats and all. It fits. Sometimes not comfortably, but it fits. ;)

Seriously, though: 45 mile commute? Each way??!?!?! I commute 25 miles twice a week and I consider that to be thoroughly unreasonable!

I'd seriously re-evaluate the 'high crime rate' of the space closer to work - in my experience, it's seriously not that bad. And evaluating what you spend in maintaining 3 cars (eek) instead of 1 with 2 bikes for going places, and seeing if with those savings you can't swing a house in a better school district closer to work with less car-clowning going on, might be helpful.

Seriously, though: 45 miles? So you're spending an hour and a half in the car, EACH, in SEPARATE cars, every day, without even accounting for traffic? And you consider this to be an acceptable hit to your quality of life? Really?

BeanCounter

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2015, 01:02:13 PM »
I don't know if it helps you any, but I think we are pretty mustachian and my DH has a 42 mile each way commute. It's not ideal, but it doesn't mean you can't pursue your own version of MMM.
Buy quality vehicles USED and do not finance them. (we like the Honda Accord because it's durable, safe, fits three car seats, and you can find them used easily) Cut back in other areas to make up for the gas spending.
FWIW- we had a VW at one time, rear facing car seat in that was a total bitch. I feel your pain. Plus the repair costs on those VW's as they age are awful.

drew61199

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2015, 01:19:50 PM »
I edited original post for some more specific info. To answer a few questions:

I have done 3 in the rear of the Golf once, but my son's booster wouldn't fit - he just sat in the middle "seat". Definitely doable though. Baby is rear facing and has to be on pass side b/c otherwise I am up against the steering wheel (6'2"). Toddler behind me. My goal for this car is 400k - one owner and been VERY reliable, so I don't want to sell it either. I'm gonna check out some of the carseat websites.

Yes, wife's CC has sensor for front seat. Since this is a "sporty" car, it has two "buckets" for rear seat. There is a center console in the rear and no 3rd seat belt...

Jacksonville is not a great area - especially part of town where I work (someone just shot less than a mile from my job today!) I also work at 5am, so I'm definitely not biking! My commute is 40min, zero traffic. My wife's is 45-50min. We live 2 miles from the interstate and both of our jobs are close to interstate (mine is 1/4 mile, hers is under 1). Near my wife's job is not a bad area and could be an option. We LOVE the school our babies attend though and one of the few that allows part-time (especially for infants b/c the ratio is so low, 3 kids to 1 teacher, that very few want to take in a lower rate for the spot). We would have to find somewhere else to send them if we relocate otherwise we'd be backtracking just to bring them. The main problem is I have run the figures many times and by the time I factor driving back to St Aug to pick up my son on weekend, take him to school Mon, pick him up from school and take him again Tues, it just isn't fair to him / my wife (remember, I'm at work) or make sense to drive that much in the morning. His mom lives in St Aug and she is custodial parent, so no way around that unless I want to forego time w/ him (not happening - I am very involved in his life, school, etc). It's an added complication, but one that I can't get around.

I think the best option is selling CC and Yukon (we have cash for the upside down part of CC and Yukon would help knock out some debt and only two cars will lower our insurance $30-40/mo). My wife has her heart set on a 2009 Mercedes R320. I know, not very MMM. She wants it b/c it's diesel and gets better mileage than just about any other 3rd row vehicle and should last awhile (my Golf is going strong). She found one for 19k w/ 42k miles. Comparable price Honda Odyssey would be in the 30-50k mile range, but a year or two newer (not that that matters much). I'm a fan of German cars and know their maintenance can certainly cost more - that's the only thing that really deters me.

« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 01:23:59 PM by drew61199 »

nereo

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2015, 01:43:47 PM »
Hello Drew, and welcome to the forums :-)

I'll begin by echoing what a few others said and suggest that we can be of even more help if you posted a complete case study.

Now, to respond to your first post, I'm going to challange a few of your inherent (perhaps even subconscious) reasoning and see if we can find a better, happier future for you and your family.  Let's start with your 4-wheeled transportation.

As I see it, you have two core issues here. 
The first is how to go places as a family when there are currently 3 car seats to deal with and three legacy vehicles, and
The second issue is your current lifestyle which requires a massive commute for both you and your wife.

Regarding the cars - the best thing about vehicles is that you can always sell what you have any buy what you need.  In your case, you really need to sell ALL THREE cars and purchase two that make sense for your current lives.  The Yukon is no good because it is a gas hog and you have anxiety about its reliability.  The golf is not ideal because your wife refuses to drive a 5-speed manual, so it won't work for you as a couple, and the CC just isn't useful for anyone that has 4 children.  Ignore the fact that you are underwater - it's a 'sunk-cost' and you thankfully have the income to suck-up to your past mistakes. 
There's a lot of info on this forum about optimal cars for families with small children - a Mazda 5 (for example) could seat your entire family and gets almost double the MPG of your Yukon.  There are other choices as well. 

now on to the dual-decision of commuting and your housing situation.  Where you live and how far you drive and so intertwined that we must consider them together.  You asked "Are there any lifelong MMM renters? " - and the answer is: "Yes, lots". In fact, most people realize that owning a home is a poor investment, and many people are much, much better off renting as opposed to buying.  You are driving 45 miles each way, every day, and I can only pray that you are commuting to work together (although it sounds like you are not).  Because of your step daughter you understandably don't want to move closer to work because that would lengthen your commute.  You say your wife could work from anywhere, but she likes her current company.

I had an old boss that liked to say once you detect a problem you have three choices; ignore it, change it or get rid of it.  You are collectively driving 60k miles per year - way, way above the national average.  If we look at the 'true cost of commuting' you and your wife could be spending ~$71k per year on commuting costs.  That seems like a 'hair on fire' kind of emergency that I, personally, could not ignore.  With $15k/year daycare costs and just one person's commuting costs, one of you could quit work entirely and you'd have more money, not less.

There are a few options here to you.
option 1) One of you quit work entirely and become a SAHP.  Pros: save $15k in childcare and tens-of-thousands in commuting cost and time, which woudl offset the loss of income.  Cons:  One of you needs to make that change

option 2) Move at least 30 miles closer to work..  Pros: it cuts out the bulk of both of your commutes, saving you both thousands per year.  You'll have an extra hour+ of time per day since you won't be commuting as long.  Cons: The trip for your step-daughter will go up a similar amount, but the math heavily favors this since you make up to 5 round-trips towards your jobs every week and just 1 round-trip for your step daughter.  You are worried about the school systems and crime in certain areas... but I'd do an exhaustive search for suitable locations close to work before I'd give up on this option.

option 3) One or Both of you get new jobs close to work.  I suspect that you've become a victim to the comfort of having a job and haven't explored this very heavily.  You are in your early 30s now, and this kind of lifestyle will kill you in every way imaginable if you try to keep it up for another two decades--- socially, physically, mentally.   
 I realize your job with your state government might not be possible in most locations, but the good news is that there are OTHER jobs available in other sectors.    Your best play here is to move closer to your step daughter to a town where both of you can find employment.  Imagine what it would be like living less than an hour from your daughter and less than 10 minutes from your job.  Heck - maybe you could live in the same town!
What's important is to kill both of your commutes.  If you and your wife both didn't have to drive 60k combined miles it could fundamentally change your life.   A quick guestimate shows your wife is spending about 15 hours every week just inside her car.  Because of what you'd save on commuting time and costs, you both coudl take jobs that paid considerably less and wind up with more time and more money in the end. 

a 40% pension for working an additional 23 years is, IMO, absolutely not a reason to stay at your current job.  I could show you how you could retire within 20 years without needing any pension at all - but it all starts with ending this ridiculous car commute that both you and your wife feel locked into.  You stated in your OP that "I'm not leaving my job" but from what you described it's either your life or your job.  Currently both you and your wife have chosen your jobs at the expense of your life.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 01:46:58 PM by nereo »

Jack

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2015, 02:56:47 PM »
My goal for this car [the Golf] is 400k - one owner and been VERY reliable, so I don't want to sell it either. I'm gonna check out some of the carseat websites.

Yes, wife's CC has sensor for front seat. Since this is a "sporty" car, it has two "buckets" for rear seat. There is a center console in the rear and no 3rd seat belt...

Okay, keep the Golf, sell the CC and the Yukon. Teach your wife to drive stick, whether she likes it or not. (I made it clear to my wife that driving stick was not optional back when she was still just my girlfriend.)

I also work at 5am, so I'm definitely not biking!

You say that as if the conclusion follows naturally from the premise, but it doesn't. Bicycles can have headlights too, you know!

My wife has her heart set on a 2009 Mercedes R320. I know, not very MMM. She wants it b/c it's diesel and gets better mileage than just about any other 3rd row vehicle and should last awhile (my Golf is going strong). She found one for 19k w/ 42k miles. Comparable price Honda Odyssey would be in the 30-50k mile range, but a year or two newer (not that that matters much). I'm a fan of German cars and know their maintenance can certainly cost more - that's the only thing that really deters me.

If you insist on having a three-rows-of-seats vehicle, I can condone that. (I also agree with nereo's suggestion for a Mazda5.) However, I think you can be badass enough to avoid needing a large vehicle at all.

nereo

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2015, 03:11:11 PM »
Modified for requested more info:
Combined gross income - 120k yr plus 5-10k in bonuses / extra pay
These are all monthly:
Net is around $6400 (taxes, insurance, retirement contributions - doesn't include bonus/extra pay)
Rent - 880
Utilities - 550 (water, elec, trash, cable/internet, cell, car ins)
Daycare/child support - 1550
Car payment - 260
Debt - 1175 (can knock a 1/3 of that out now when I sell our boat)
Fuel - 400
I'm sure there are some minor odds & ends, but that is the bulk of it.

Just wanted to point this out - based on your numbers above there's about a $1600 'leak' in your budget (i.e. there's $1600 that isn't accounted for above).  You did not include food or restaurants, so I'm sure that's some - as is money spent going out.

Also - the $260 car payment does not seem to account for the damage you will do driving a combined 60k miles every year.  Even purchasing used with ~80k miles on them you'll likely need to replace a car every 2 years on average.

drew61199

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2015, 04:36:24 PM »
Quote
Just wanted to point this out - based on your numbers above there's about a $1600 'leak' in your budget (i.e. there's $1600 that isn't accounted for above).  You did not include food or restaurants, so I'm sure that's some - as is money spent going out.

Also - the $260 car payment does not seem to account for the damage you will do driving a combined 60k miles every year.  Even purchasing used with ~80k miles on them you'll likely need to replace a car every 2 years on average.

The $260 is current CC car payment. With Mercedes or similarly priced family hauler, it will most likely go up $100. The $1600 unaccounted for is food/restaurants/gifts/spending money. Whether it is aforementioned trip to Disney, vehicle maintenance, whatever - no real budget up till this point. Remember, we're not driving 60k on ONE vehicle - it's spread across three, so lifespan is greater than two years.

You pose very good serious points in your previous post and I guess that's sort of what we weigh. What I guess I didn't make clear in my first post (but did in a follow-up) is that I have a son from previous marriage too. He lives in our current town. If we move closer to our daughter (or work) that just adds a commute in the other direction. We talked extensively about an "in-between" town for the kids, but then we're living in a location where we have no family and we're both 60 miles from either child. Hell of a predicament right? We chose what seemed like the best option...

Yes, we are comfortable in our jobs. I honestly can't think of a scenario where I would leave mine. Without seeming like I'm only making excuses, but I consider this a badge of honor - my wife and I have our positions and salaries w/ only high school educations. Of course it took lots of hard work, dedication and superiors that recognized our potential. At the risk of overly simplifying things, my wife manages a retail shoe store and I a fleet garage. It is highly unlikely I could duplicate my success as I provide all of the health benefits, aforementioned pension, etc. Yes, with a large enough salary, anything can be done, but w/ a lack of a degree and my field, it won't be easy. You mention that we won't have to make as much, but that brings me to the next point...

Your commuting costs are certainly inflated. It takes IRS cost-per-mile calculations (.51 cents) + paying oneself for the time spent in the car. That only works out if you can / or are willing to work and make your current salary for the time you saved in the commute. So you didn't really gain any free time? I use my commute to listen to "learning Spanish audio", so it offers some personal life gain and my Golf costs just .06 cents per mile in fuel. In the last year I have replaced just the battery, tires and EGR valve (brakes are next). I'm a mechanic, so do all the work myself so that works out to another .03 mile - saving me .42 from IRS calculations. Of course this doesn't factor in the cost of the car, but I bought it 50k ago for $4k, so even if it died tomorrow, that's another .08. Grand total .17 cents, but every mile a drive past now brings that avg down. I calculate the CC at .21 (running cost of .12 and car cost of .09 - we bought it used for $15k and 60 months which is 165k miles). Of course at payoff time it will have roughly 205k miles and negligible monetary value. 

With all of that being said, I would LOVE for my wife to stay home. It would make it so much nicer b/c there are times she would love to volunteer more with the kids school, but her being home w/o producing any income yet still driving 15k yr and needing a newer, reliable car seems like a pipe dream right now. I guess that's my ultimate goal here - pinching enough pennies to make that happen.

I'm not against your suggestion of selling all 3 vehicles in lieu of two that make more sense, but not sure I can do much better than my Golf. It and the Yukon combined are worth maybe $10k. If we use $2k to pay down the CC and break even, that leaves me 8. Certainly would buy me a newer, lower mileage car, but didn't eliminate any of our debt and unlikely reduced operating costs. If I keep the Golf, sold the Yukon (6), paid our 2, then that leaves 4 for debt reduction. Overall this may get us closer to financial freedom and my wife staying home, but at the gamble of the Golf being reliable for an unknown period of time.

Our best solution is my wife staying home, yet somehow still producing SOME sort of income, but we haven't been able to figure that out yet. She has contemplated becoming a realtor, but she can't make appointments and show up w/ two babies. An irregular work schedule will make childcare difficult and if we opt for a regular childcare schedule, then we're back at step one again! Ugghhh

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2015, 05:02:37 PM »
When I was at home working on a degree, I used to do Leapforce At Home. It's hardly a gold mine (starts at $13.50 per hour) but if your wife is interested in staying home, it might be worth looking into. She could try it out while working her current job.

lhamo

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2015, 05:19:58 PM »
Modified for requested more info:
Combined gross income - 120k yr plus 5-10k in bonuses / extra pay
These are all monthly:
Net is around $6400 (taxes, insurance, retirement contributions - doesn't include bonus/extra pay)

Your net seems ridiculously low for your family size -- there's a $43200 gap between 120k and hat you claim to be taking home.  Can you break the deductions out further? Do you get a huge tax refund?  Is your insurance payment crazy?  How much are you putting in retirement? 

Also, you need to start tracking your spending, at a minimum, and get on a budget.  In your last update you mentioned a mysterious boat that hadn't come up in the previous discussion.  And you don't have a clue what you are spending on food, which is one of the main places where most people find it is easy to economize.  Details on the "bills" section will probably show places where you can cut back, too.

BTW, I don't know how it would do with 3 car seats, but I'm loving my Ford C-max hybrid, which i got new for around $20k all in.  I'm getting 45mpg with it.  Might be a better choice than the Mercedes considering your commutes.  My brother's family has a Mazda 5 and they like it -- the extra seating in the back is great for hauling kids around.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #15 on: October 26, 2015, 06:22:22 PM »
Sorry I didn't read too deeply, but I saw that you are spending beyond what my FI family does, yet you are 10 years younger and not FI...  soooo, the easy answer IMHO is this: you still have Time on your side.  You need to treat every dollar like it works for you, not you need to keep working for it.  If you embrace this fully, in 10 years time, you can get all of the goodies you are currently enjoying, but you get them 'for free'.  Better yet, you get kids that learn to appreciate the trickle of treats as opposed to spoiled brats. 

I dunno, I think that is the MMM philosophy, except for the part about getting to spend like a drunken sailor once you hit FI, maybe you'll rethink that when you get there...

And sorry about the somewhat sarcastic post, I'm getting a little exasperated about how hard it is to change the course of the Titanic, I really do hope you well and maybe even convince others that there is a better way to live.

drew61199

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2015, 06:33:55 PM »
Modified for requested more info:
Combined gross income - 120k yr plus 5-10k in bonuses / extra pay
These are all monthly:
Net is around $6400 (taxes, insurance, retirement contributions - doesn't include bonus/extra pay)

Your net seems ridiculously low for your family size -- there's a $43200 gap between 120k and hat you claim to be taking home.  Can you break the deductions out further? Do you get a huge tax refund?  Is your insurance payment crazy?  How much are you putting in retirement? 

Also, you need to start tracking your spending, at a minimum, and get on a budget.  In your last update you mentioned a mysterious boat that hadn't come up in the previous discussion.  And you don't have a clue what you are spending on food, which is one of the main places where most people find it is easy to economize.  Details on the "bills" section will probably show places where you can cut back, too.

Well, it was a rough calculation - eg - we're paid biweekly, so I figured for two checks a month. In reality, it is more than that b/c there are 26 pay periods. So, it is closer to $6900 or $83k yr. I lose $1k per check from deductions and I don't have one of my wife's stubs in front of me, but she certainly is less than that b/c I pay our healthcare and more into retirement. Round numbers, but federal taxes total  378, retirement 234, healthcare 150, donations 26, flexible spending accct (for daycare) 185. I have re-included my FSA repayments in our net though b/c I get back roughly $400 /mo. Last year received $6k refund. My wife only worked about six months b/c we had our daughter, she quit her job (just to get rehired early this year) and it was her year to claim my stepdaughter, so two extra deductions than 2013. We had another daughter this year, but won't have my stepdaughter, so still have the two dependents (I never get my son - stupid move on my part during divorce). My wife only took 3 months off this year, but our return should still be larger than it needs to be. I didn't factor in the "extra" income b/c it isn't guaranteed. I can occasionally work extra days and my wife has quarterly bonuses if goals are met.

Other than DirecTV, there isn't much for bills that can be cut completely. I guess internet could be trimmed if I wanted a slower speed. My cell is $73 and I have a 14 months left (my wife is still on her parents' plan). Otherwise we just have utilities. I have season tickets to a sports team ($80 no interest payments), but last one due in Nov and it is my last year on my contract - I'm not renewing. Also pay $15/mo for Sea World annual pass (buy everyone else $90 "Fun Card" b/c we only need me to have a pass for the free parking, food discount, etc). Theme parks are easy day trips for us being two hrs away, but I realize it's a luxury - granted not as much as for people out of state. We can trim it, but w/ young kids that enjoy it (and my wife & I are park junkies ourselves - both growing up in the area w/ annual passes), what are we working for if we can't afford a grand or so per year to visit SW a few times? We did just use part of my wife's bonus to hit Disney last weekend. I know, not very MMM, but that's why I'm here - to help refocus our efforts. Honestly though, we haven't truly family vacationed since June 2013 (a week in west FL off of Groupon) and these little weekend park getaways do help keep us sane.

Boat is paid for. Too small for all of us now. Worth roughly $6k. That money will go toward cc debt. We have roughly 30k. Scary as $#!% and that is what is prompting this life reevaluation. With sale of boat, Yukon and next tax return, we could knock out just over half of that. That should free up more money to keep the momentum going for the other 40% or so. I've also considered suspending my retirement contributions and use that money to pay it down faster. Just a hard mindset for me to commit to that.

We don't track food (or really any expense) and I know that is our largest opportunity. We have a Sam's membership, so do buy in bulk and I frequently buy discounted gift cards to restaurants (even a few % adds up), but honestly if you count fast food, we eat out probably 5 times a week if not more. It didn't used to be that much, but in order for us to put kids P/T, I took the 5am job and my wife works more nights. I'm not much of a chef, but she is amazing. We just have to get disciplined enough for her to prepare meals in the AM and me take more initiative to cook when she doesn't.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2015, 07:13:28 PM by drew61199 »

drew61199

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #17 on: October 26, 2015, 06:44:16 PM »
Sorry I didn't read too deeply, but I saw that you are spending beyond what my FI family does, yet you are 10 years younger and not FI...  soooo, the easy answer IMHO is this: you still have Time on your side.  You need to treat every dollar like it works for you, not you need to keep working for it.  If you embrace this fully, in 10 years time, you can get all of the goodies you are currently enjoying, but you get them 'for free'.  Better yet, you get kids that learn to appreciate the trickle of treats as opposed to spoiled brats. 

I dunno, I think that is the MMM philosophy, except for the part about getting to spend like a drunken sailor once you hit FI, maybe you'll rethink that when you get there...

And sorry about the somewhat sarcastic post, I'm getting a little exasperated about how hard it is to change the course of the Titanic, I really do hope you well and maybe even convince others that there is a better way to live.

Sarcasm is my forte, so no offense taken. I don't recall every saying I wanted to irresponsibly spend money when I hit FI though. My life goal has always been retire at 57 w/ hopefully 2M saved. I'd like to make as much in retirement as I did when I worked. This website is showing me that that isn't necessary, but I certainly want to enjoy myself. No yachts, music videos, or raining dollar bills, but I want to regularly travel. My parents always had an RV when I was growing up and we road tripped quite a bit. I LOVED IT. They did it solely on hard work and credit. Same trap that got me (product of my environment). I want to do it and PAY CASH the entire time, take the grandkids, etc. Hell, I'd like to do it w/ my KIDS before the grandkids and that is why I'm here. Dunno if burning dinosaurs while towing a portable home is MMM-like, but surely everyone has their own goals for FI. I consider it a better vacation than flying and staying in hotels....

Dee18

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #18 on: October 26, 2015, 06:53:06 PM »
Others have talked about cars, but I want to mention house size.  My experience as a parent was that older kids use much less space than younger kids.  They do all their physical activity like bike riding and ball playing outside.  They can sleep in lofts (and like it) leaving room for desks and comfy chairs below.  When inside, they are pretty stationary.  They'll have to share rooms in college too.  So don't assume you'll need more house as they get older.

Astatine

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #19 on: October 26, 2015, 07:34:50 PM »
Given your situation, I reckon Dave Ramsey's baby steps are probably a good way for you to get started. I know Dave Ramsey isn't super popular on this forum, but I have read one of his books and I do think the baby steps are great if you've got hair on fire debt and aren't used to thinking with a frugal mindset.

lhamo

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #20 on: October 26, 2015, 07:51:25 PM »
...what are we working for if we can't afford a grand or so per year...?

Here's your problem.

It isn't just the theme park trips (another 4 hours RT, plus all that gas you are burning) adding up to "a grand or so per year."  It's that plus:

Direct TV
Fast internet
Expensive cell phone plan
Season tickets to sporting events
A boat
3 cars for 2 drivers
Fast food 5 nights a week

All of that adds up to THOUSANDS if not TENS OF THOUSANDS a year in untracked/comparatively mindless spending that you don't seem to think will make a difference if you cut.  Excuse me while I shout for a minute:  IT WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE!    Let's add it up a bit:

DirectTV at $80/month to Netflix at $10/month (I think it might actually be cheaper -- don't know, I don't have cable, satellite or Netflix)= $840 year

Reduce internet speed from 5mbps at $60 to 1 mbp at $50 = $120/year (I could give you a pass on this one if you cut the Direct TV)

Change phone from $70/month plan to $30/month plan (try T mobile, which is what my son has -- 5gb of data and unlimited calling/texting -- or one of IP Daley's recommendations) = $480/year

Get rid of season tickets (good for you for already making this decision) =  $960

Sell boat = $1200 in annual expense reduction (guessing here) + $6000 cash infusion to put toward debt

Replace most gas guzzling car with a high mileage model, and use that car exclusively for the long kid pick up/drop off trips as well as one long commute = $1200 savings in gas alone, probably more with insurance discount for going to 2 cars

Reduce # of meals eaten outside the home by 50% -- estimated savings of $100/week or $5200/year.  Get ok with giving your kids pb&j, quesadillas, toasted cheese sandwiches, etc with a side of silced carrots/cucumbers or fruit a couple of times a week. Heck, I've been known to give my kids cereal for dinner!  Every meal doesn't have to be a masterpiece, especially when you are working long hours.  A box of pasta and some jarred sauce will also do in a pinch.  And any of those meals is probably more healthy than fast food, anyway.

Cut # of theme park trips in half = $500 (I expect you are spending more than $1000/year on these trips, but will give you the benefit of the doubt on your estimate)

840+120+480+960+1200+5200+500 in savings = $9300 in relatively easy spending adjustments.

Plus $6000 for the boat

Puts you at $15,300 in extra cash to put towards the credit card debt in the next year.  Plus your tax return.  Plus, I predict once you put your mind to it and see that reducing spending, when done thoughtfully, does not necessarily mean reducing quality of life, you will find other places to cut.

You can do this.  You just need a bit of a mental adjustment.  That sentence I pulled out above is KILLING you.  That "it's only a couple of grand" way of thinking has gotten you 30k in f-in credit card debt.  You don't have an income problem, you have a spending problem.  A doozy of one.

This may seem harsh, but it's just tough love.  If you need an even stronger dose, call up Dave Ramsey.   

Dee18

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #21 on: October 26, 2015, 08:50:59 PM »
Well said Ihamo!

Expatriate

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #22 on: October 27, 2015, 03:28:03 AM »
Just repeating the great advice here so far.

Start recording every single dollar on every account you have (bank, credit card, cash). It's not that hard of an effort. You'll be amazed to see how much leaks away.

Only when you see it in hard numbers per category, you can decide what to do. Now you're just best-guessing.

kendallf

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #23 on: October 27, 2015, 07:07:31 AM »
I won't repeat the spending and transportation recommendations you've gotten here, as they are good ones.  However, I live in Jacksonville, and I would like to encourage you to look *hard* at moving nearer your jobs, if you are dead set on keeping them. 

Jacksonville is so large, and the neighborhoods are so diverse, that I'm sure you can find an inexpensive place to live near your work.  We bought a place in Murray Hill and renovated it a couple of years ago and cut our driving down hugely.. SO worth it!  Rents are not appreciably higher in Jax than St. Augustine, as far as I can tell.  Based on some of your other posts here, I don't think you should be looking at buying a house until you get your spending and debt fixed, but there are still bargains to be had. 

Oh, there's also a huge cycling community here in Jax, and many people who ride to work regularly (I'm one).  Best part of my day.

BeanCounter

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #24 on: October 27, 2015, 07:32:58 AM »
After reading the additional info you provided I would strongly suggest (as others have) that you spend at least a year tracking your spending and making efforts to cut it down. I think what you have done here is latched onto one of MMM's big tenants to stop driving, when in fact the rest of your spending is the bigger problem.
And, sorry to face punch, but it's probably necessary to motivate change- your kids don't need to visit theme parks every year, and certainly not multiple times a year. I'm going to pick on this one thing you said because I think it holds the key to your overall mindset. It's showing them a lifestyle that you can't really afford, and setting difficult standards for them to achieve as they move into adulthood. There are LOTS of free things to do as a family. Go to a park. Have a picnic. Take a walk. Make a special meal together. Volunteer. Do manual labor outside and get them to help. Go to the library. I like to think about how children were raised 40 years ago, and it wasn't with membership's to theme parks, and eating out all the time. Those things should be saved for special days like birthdays. Teach them that the simple life is the good life and it will pay dividends for all of you.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #25 on: October 27, 2015, 08:31:52 AM »
Is it possible for it to be impossible? Yes. While making $120,000 a year in Florida? No.

EscapeVelocity2020

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #26 on: October 27, 2015, 08:54:01 AM »
Sorry I didn't read too deeply, but I saw that you are spending beyond what my FI family does, yet you are 10 years younger and not FI...  soooo, the easy answer IMHO is this: you still have Time on your side.  You need to treat every dollar like it works for you, not you need to keep working for it.  If you embrace this fully, in 10 years time, you can get all of the goodies you are currently enjoying, but you get them 'for free'.  Better yet, you get kids that learn to appreciate the trickle of treats as opposed to spoiled brats. 

I dunno, I think that is the MMM philosophy, except for the part about getting to spend like a drunken sailor once you hit FI, maybe you'll rethink that when you get there...

And sorry about the somewhat sarcastic post, I'm getting a little exasperated about how hard it is to change the course of the Titanic, I really do hope you well and maybe even convince others that there is a better way to live.

Sarcasm is my forte, so no offense taken. I don't recall every saying I wanted to irresponsibly spend money when I hit FI though. My life goal has always been retire at 57 w/ hopefully 2M saved. I'd like to make as much in retirement as I did when I worked. This website is showing me that that isn't necessary, but I certainly want to enjoy myself. No yachts, music videos, or raining dollar bills, but I want to regularly travel. My parents always had an RV when I was growing up and we road tripped quite a bit. I LOVED IT. They did it solely on hard work and credit. Same trap that got me (product of my environment). I want to do it and PAY CASH the entire time, take the grandkids, etc. Hell, I'd like to do it w/ my KIDS before the grandkids and that is why I'm here. Dunno if burning dinosaurs while towing a portable home is MMM-like, but surely everyone has their own goals for FI. I consider it a better vacation than flying and staying in hotels....

Yeah well, as you might have noticed, people here are all about the essentials.  RV for roadtripping - can easily be done with a tent and AirBNB (or many other websites / apps).  Yacht - go in with friends or get a Groupon.  Burning Dinosaurs - probably will be available a la Flintstone drivethrough in a decade or so :)

begood

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #27 on: October 27, 2015, 08:56:18 AM »
I lived in Orlando for almost 7 years, and we did have annual passes to Sea World/Busch Gardens during that time. We took our nieces several times to Disney and SW. But here's the thing: THEY DON'T REMEMBER the trips. They were between 4 and 8 when we took them. I'm sure they had fun that day, but it didn't register in their consciousness.

So when I see you have kids ages 8, 5, 1, and 10 weeks, I think you could easily drop the theme-park passes for at least three or four years, save up that money, and take them when at least two are old enough to remember the visits!

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #28 on: October 27, 2015, 09:33:44 AM »
Hello again Drew

We're talking, so that's good.  A few thoughts on your responses.
1) I can't take credit for the "true cost of commuting" as it wasn't my calculations.  However, it does show fairly accurately what an 'average' commuter would pay to make various commutes.  Because you are a mechanic (which I didn't know) who buys used vehicles your costs will be lower than the IRS's $0.51/mi average, and might be as low as you can get them - but including car replacements and/or a few major repairs you will likely see closer to $0.18-0.2/mi.  That is still $12k/year and doesn't include the time you spend in your car or working on your cars.  Your time is definitely worth something, regardless of whether you spend it earning more or spend it with your kids.  Don't discount that.  Also, your estimates seem based on fuel being ~$2/gallon.  If fuel costs return to $4/gallon your expenses will go up considerably.

2) I'm sticking by my figures for how frequently you will need to replace your vehicles (about every 2-3 years if you buy used and drive 60k miles/year).  It doesn't matter that you own 3 cars - that fact doesn't cut the number by 3.  It's all an average.  With 3 cars you might not need to replace any cars for 6 years,but then you'll suddenly need to replace all three in a short time frame.  Even if you had a fleet of 10 cars the math works out the same.  On average you'll replace your purchased-used cars every 2-3 years with your current level of driving.

3) I empathize with your current dilemma of not wanting to move because of your other children.  Since you won't change your job the easiest fix would be for your wife to either be a SAHP or find employment near where you live.  BUT, I'd urge you not to rule out the possibility of moving to be where you work (since you won't change jobs).  Yes it increases your weekend trips dramatically, but the weekday hours it saves (5 trips/week for two people) still means less driving overall, more time with family and more money saved.

4) I love your golf diesel.  I wish I had a golf diesel myself.  BUt it's got two problems - 1) your wife won't drive it (if I understand you correctly) and 2) it has 250k+ miles on it.  Sure, drive it until it dies if you like, but sell the other two cars and get something that seats your whole family with car seats and that your wife can drive.  Then, when the golf finally dies you can search out other options. 

mm1970

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #29 on: October 27, 2015, 10:41:57 AM »
I edited original post for some more specific info. To answer a few questions:

I have done 3 in the rear of the Golf once, but my son's booster wouldn't fit - he just sat in the middle "seat". Definitely doable though. Baby is rear facing and has to be on pass side b/c otherwise I am up against the steering wheel (6'2"). Toddler behind me. My goal for this car is 400k - one owner and been VERY reliable, so I don't want to sell it either. I'm gonna check out some of the carseat websites.

Yes, wife's CC has sensor for front seat. Since this is a "sporty" car, it has two "buckets" for rear seat. There is a center console in the rear and no 3rd seat belt...

Jacksonville is not a great area - especially part of town where I work (someone just shot less than a mile from my job today!) I also work at 5am, so I'm definitely not biking! My commute is 40min, zero traffic. My wife's is 45-50min. We live 2 miles from the interstate and both of our jobs are close to interstate (mine is 1/4 mile, hers is under 1). Near my wife's job is not a bad area and could be an option. We LOVE the school our babies attend though and one of the few that allows part-time (especially for infants b/c the ratio is so low, 3 kids to 1 teacher, that very few want to take in a lower rate for the spot). We would have to find somewhere else to send them if we relocate otherwise we'd be backtracking just to bring them. The main problem is I have run the figures many times and by the time I factor driving back to St Aug to pick up my son on weekend, take him to school Mon, pick him up from school and take him again Tues, it just isn't fair to him / my wife (remember, I'm at work) or make sense to drive that much in the morning. His mom lives in St Aug and she is custodial parent, so no way around that unless I want to forego time w/ him (not happening - I am very involved in his life, school, etc). It's an added complication, but one that I can't get around.

I think the best option is selling CC and Yukon (we have cash for the upside down part of CC and Yukon would help knock out some debt and only two cars will lower our insurance $30-40/mo). My wife has her heart set on a 2009 Mercedes R320. I know, not very MMM. She wants it b/c it's diesel and gets better mileage than just about any other 3rd row vehicle and should last awhile (my Golf is going strong). She found one for 19k w/ 42k miles. Comparable price Honda Odyssey would be in the 30-50k mile range, but a year or two newer (not that that matters much). I'm a fan of German cars and know their maintenance can certainly cost more - that's the only thing that really deters me.
Seriously, that's a lot of money for a used car.  I mean a 2009 Sienna would be half that.  Plus you have to consider insurance.  I don't know about FL, but insurance on that Mercedes would be $150 a month where I live.

begood

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #30 on: October 27, 2015, 10:48:04 AM »
For a family of six, the Mazda 5 is pretty much the perfect vehicle - less expensive than a full-size minivan, highly rated by Consumer Reports, decent gas mileage.

A used Odyssey or Sienna would also work, but nothing hits that sweet spot of price and functionality the way the Mazda 5 does.


TrMama

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #31 on: October 27, 2015, 11:35:01 AM »
The plot thickens. You don't just have a car problem.  You have a huge "throwing all our money into a black hole problem". How on earth does a family with 4 children, two of whom are tiny babies, eat out 5 times a week? When my kids were small, eating out felt like torture. You couldn't have paid us to take them to a restaurant.

Get yourself some boxed Kraft Dinner and some raw veggies and serve that for dinner once a week. It takes less time to cook than it does to load all those kids into the SUV and run them through the drive thru. Make a list of all the things you do know how to cook. I bet there's at least 3 meals there. Serve each of them once a week. Involve the 8 and 5 year olds. The 8yo is old enough to cook a simple meal for the family. Assign one night to her. Make a meal plan for the other nights.

How does a man with 4 children have time to attend an entire season's worth of games? How is it fun to drag 2 tiny babies through a theme park? Put all these things on hold until you get a handle on your finances and your kids are old enough to go without throwing a tantrum.

Sign up for mint.com immediately. It has a 90 day lookback so you can instantly get 3 months worth of spending history.

La Bibliotecaria Feroz

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #32 on: October 27, 2015, 03:32:12 PM »
Even frozen chicken nuggets from the grocery store would be easier, cheaper, and healthier than fast food! My kids are also big fans out oatmeal (you know, Quaker Old-Fashioned) cooked in a large microwave bowl with maybe a spoonful of maple syrup or peanut butter.

trailrated

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #33 on: October 27, 2015, 06:03:25 PM »
I am going to start out with a few face punches.

Reading your about your plight from my perspective sounded like hearing a fat person say they want to lose weight... but then I keep reading and see that you don't want to change your diet (or at least don't know what it is and don't care to find out), and further than that I also see that you don't really want to exercise. There is always an excuse, there will always be an excuse.

You have to want to achieve your goal more than all the other bullshit in your life. You need to know what you want, is it to send your kids to college? Is it to make sure you don't have to move in with them when you retire because at this pace you will not be able to support yourself when you get that old? Once you put a goal in effect other things fall into place. You are not just getting fast food or dropping a few dollars on some random shit, it becomes a vacuum stealing money that could be supporting your family.

For me that "aha!" moment came when my son was born. I was in a similar situation to you making about 80,000 a year but living paycheck to paycheck. I was making way to much money to have nothing to show for it. The great news is that you stumbled upon MMM and are searching for answers.

Welcome to the forums, you will find plenty of people who want to help and you are taking a step in the right direction towards changing your life. I went from -$10,000 to a NW of about $75,000 in a span of two years and I still have plenty of room for improvement. Kick ass and take names.




snuggler

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #34 on: October 27, 2015, 07:01:47 PM »
I echo what TrMama says- it is almost always faster and easier to cook at home than to get takeout, even fast food. All it takes is a little foresight.

For example, when I cooked dinner tonight, I made a triple batch. We ate 1/3 of it, packaged up 1/3 of it and stuck it in the fridge, and packaged up the other 1/3 and stuck it in the freezer. 3 meals done right there. When we want to eat those meals, all we need is 3 minutes in the microwave. That is at least an easy 10 minutes of time saved, given the time it takes to travel to the restaurant, order, pay, and wait for your food.

I also try to make freezer meals whenever I get a couple of hours free. The more ready-to-go freezer meals you have, the easier it is to avoid restaurants.

I always found it really difficult to cut out restaurants, but now that I have worked at becoming a better cook, and have gotten much better at creating delicious meals that can be frozen, I am saving a ton of money on food.

Seriously- nothing is faster than popping something from your freezer into the microwave or oven. Delicious, nutritious, easy-peasy, and cheap. What more could you ask for?

drew61199

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #35 on: October 29, 2015, 06:22:57 PM »
To those that question taking my children to a restaurant, theme park, etc - just know that we have VERY well-behaved, well-adjusted children. They are in advanced classes, get straight A's (or O's), regularly use their manners, etc. They are not the tantrem throwing "daddy I know I have a week old Lego set, but I don't have thiissss one" type. To you they may seem spoiled, but sadly, we are the "strict" house. Remember the oldest two are from split households and at the "other half" they eat out CONSTANTLY (and we're not talking fast food - my daughter regularly eats Carrabba's and gets the kid's steak dinner!)
Honestly to some a theme park w/ 4 sounds like the worst day ever yet we have some of the best times. No, they may not always remember it, but IT ISN'T ALWAYS ABOUT THEM! I will NEVER forget the first time my son (prob 2 at the time) saw a Shamu show. His face lit up and he didn't stop laughing the entire time. It warms my heart just thinking of it now. Yes, I have fond memories like those of "free" things too. We spend days at the beach, do touristy things when they offer "free resident days", grab a $5 pizza and spend a few hours at the park throwing the frisbee, soccer, etc. Sorry to go on this tangent, but I am very protective and proud of my children.

For what it's worth, the day after I created the post I pulled some soup outta our freezer and made grilled cheese to go with it. Last night I made tacos and never turned on the TV. Besides the grocery shopping I did for some staples, I think I've spent $3 on fast food this week. I have cancelled DirecTV, ordered an antenna to take its place and we're contemplating Hulu or Netflix. I requested Google Fi. I also hit the library yesterday, got a card, checked out a book for the kids and a digital magazine and book for my tablet (who knew the library offered that...besides all of you!). We passed on the Mercedes, but the diesel still tempts me b/c I'm a big fan of its efficiency and longevity. BTW, our full coverage insurance for 3 vehicles is only $140 month. More advancements to come.

I know it seems like excuses, but I appreciate the conversation this has invoked. I sincerely love my job and yet changing jobs is the only possible scenario that can change our situation (besides reigning in the spending which we WILL do). It is VERY hard to give up the guaranteed security of a paycheck and health benefits w/ 4 young children at home. I also checked Zillow yesterday and for a 3bed (which we believe is silly when there are 6 of us) in an area we could enjoy / within two miles of my wife's job (which is 10 miles from mine) would require a minimum rent of 1700. We pay 880 now. That's a HUGE difference to make up and it won't simply come from fuel. I also think everyone has missed the fact that my SON ATTENDS SCHOOL IN ST AUGUSTINE. So, it isn't simply "saving your commute 5 days a week and just lengthening the weekend for your daughter". Two days a week we would have to drive to St Aug to take him to school AND THEN BACK IN AFTERNOON to pick him up (so that's two days worth of trips in one day). I've run the figures dozens of times over the last few years (factoring for different vehicles, fuel prices, housing locations, etc) and it NEVER saves any money from our situation now. The M-F commute is almost a wash and the lengthened drive on the weekend negates what's left. Factor in the rent price, school district, proximity to family (free babysitters within miles of us) then IMHO, it's a no brainer. It isn't ideal. Trust me, we know that. We're just making lemonade...
« Last Edit: October 29, 2015, 07:41:19 PM by drew61199 »

Villanelle

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #36 on: October 29, 2015, 08:48:40 PM »
Have you read the blog, starting at the beginning?


It seems you are unhappy with where you are, given that you came here and made this post.  You say you want to retire at 57 with $2mm.  How much do you want that?  Enough to not eat out, to skip Disney (and maybe do a local trip to the zoo for less than $100, instead, or better still a nearly free picnic in the park flying $5 kites and tossing a football)?  You don't need Mickey in order to have "some of the best times".  It might take more planning, but you can get the same amount of great family time for 1/10 the cost.  if you want to.  If you don't, that's okay, too.  But it seems like you want to have all the things you have, and yet you also want your imagined retirement, yet you can't have both.  So which do you want more?  If it is financial security and that retirement, then you are going to have to stop making excuses, and start doing all the things posted on the blog, around these boards, and in this thread. 

You mention your kids behavior as justification to go to restaurants.  I don't care if they are silent as monks.  It's about the money you are spending, not whether you kids throw tantrums.    Three bedrooms for 6 people?  No one will die, especially because you don't even have 6 people most of the time.  If necessary, give the master to the kids and take a smaller bedroom for yourselves.  You looked at homes in "area you would enjoy"?  Would you "enjoy" it more than you'd enjoy meeting that retirement goal?  If so, by all means.  If not, then reevaluate your priorities.  There are things I would enjoy, but I know I'd much more enjoy FIRE.  Delayed gratification.  Is it absolutely unchangeable that your son *must* attend school so far away?  Truly unchangeable, not "don't wanna"?

You say you want something different, but it doesn't seem like you are willing to give up the things required to get it.  You've made some great changes but have a long way to do.  So it's time for the hard questions.  What do you want more?  Disney and restaurants and keeping the same jobs and everything else?  Or making sure you have enough money that you can retire and that you don't become a burden to your kids in 40 years?

Jakejake

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #37 on: October 30, 2015, 09:59:17 AM »
Lots of appropriate face punches have already been given, so I'm reluctant to join the pile on. But there was a comment that stuck in my head upthread about college. It looks to me like you have 4 children, two of whom are halfway to college age, and zero savings for their tuition. I'm picturing having to tell my daughter "We can't afford any college for you, but wasn't it fun watching that whale that one day?"

Every time you spend $700 on a day (!) at a park, you've just thrown away almost an entire semester of tuition for one of your children at a local college.

I get that it's rewarding to see your children smile for a day, but that's just not a trade-off I could make.

I'm also very debt-averse (aside from a mortgage) and tend to view credit card debt as money that's not mine - it belongs to someone else, it's money I already spent to buy things I wanted. So I would not make a decision to spend someone else's money to take my kids to a park. Same goes for meals out - I would never borrow money or spend money I'd already "spent" (but not paid) to hire someone else to cook for me. For me to borrow money, it needs to be an actual necessity, not a luxury. Your posts look to me like you are borrowing to pay for a lot of luxuries at this point, without paying for the things you've already bought.

markbrynn

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2015, 10:03:09 AM »
Just wanted to point out that your (OP) situation with the kids (the 2 who split houses) doesn't have to stay the same. If you moved closer to work it is always possible to adjust your schedule (agreement with ex required, of course) to something that works better. I would strongly recommend making sure that you don't stick to your maximum time with kids at all costs. It is better to have parents who you see a little bit less, but who are happy, healthy and have their finances in order.

It is an extremely sensitive subject that most divorcees tend to resist exploring. It can be very important to your long term happiness and financial health to consider. Don't let guilt (of seeing your kid one day less per week) get in the way of a good plan that still allows you to maintain a great relationship with them. If they are with Mom and Dad differing amounts (2 days/5days, 3.5/3.5 or 5/2), they are always still with one of you and their well-being is unlikely to take a big hit. Dealing with a split family is difficult, but there is more than one model that will work.


formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2015, 03:56:37 PM »
We're a blended family, too, and when we married we relocated to live closer to my stepdaughter.  Which means I now have a 30-mile commute (1 hour) each way because it is difficult to find a job that pays as well as mine if I worked closer to my house.  I hate the commute, but it's worth it for me because one of our priorities is to be able to be involved in her activities.  So I do understand your wish to stay close to your son even though it means that you have a commute.

It is not an option in my family to see our children less in order to make/save money.  I'll gladly work an extra year or two to make sure that we get our time with them.

Our current annual income is pretty close to yours, and we are able to save about 25% of our income (which is about $130k).  We don't have your high daycare costs, but we do have a mortgage (our housing is $1k more per month than yours), and we are paying for college, so those two expenses of ours add up to your daycare costs.  There's no real reason you shouldn't be able to save 25-30% of your gross income too.  For full disclosure, I'm not even a good mustachian.  If I were like most people on this forum, my savings rate would be astronomical.

What helped us most was making a list of our financial and family goals, and then examining our spending against that.  Our goals look something like this:
  • We want to live close to all the kids.  That's a non-negotiable for us.
    We want to retire with $1.5 million by age 52.
    We want to pay off our house by age 49.
    We want to pay for 4 years of public university tuition for each of our 3 kids (but not housing).
    We want to go on awesome family vacations.

When we looked at all of our priorities, our money allocation didn't make sense.  We made specific changes to meet our goals, and you may have to do so as well.

*Instead of taking one or more vacations a year, we committed to one vacation with the whole family every other year.  We set a max amount that we will spend, and we put money each month into a vacation fund so when it's time to go it's paid off.  In your case, sure, go to Disney.  Just go once a year instead of a few times a year.
*We bought a much smaller house than we could afford and pay extra every month so that it will be paid off by our target date.
*We cut down on a lot of stuff we used to buy - including eating out - and done a lot of substituting.  For example, we had paid memberships to the zoo and the natural sciences museum.  Now instead of paying for those memberships, we are doing a park tour.  Two or three weekends a month, we pack a lunch, choose a public park we've never been to, and go play outside.  The kids love it!  Different playgrounds, splash pads, etc....and it's all free.

The biggest change we've made:

My husband quit his job as a mechanic and went back to college.  He's now a full-time student and part-time SAHD.  This cut our need for childcare, and it means that he can do a lot more cooking, etc, at home, saving us money.  He'll graduate in 2.5 years (at age 40), and I expect him to start out at about 150% of his former salary.  His new career will have much greater growth potential, and his salary should steadily increase. Less than 10 years after he graduates, I predict we'll hit our numbers for early retirement.

Would this make sense for you or your wife?  Could one of you go back to school and come out earning a lot more money than you do now?

I recommend Mint.com if you want to start tracking your spending.  It also lets you enter in goals for yourself and tracks how well you are meeting them.

pbkmaine

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2015, 05:29:26 PM »
I live in Florida, too. There are so many things to do here that do not cost much money. What about a state parks pass and picnic lunches? What about walks on the beach? You can go to Merritt Island and see the birds or Cape Canaveral and see rocket launches. Watch sunrises and sunsets. Go stargazing. Every town has Christmas lights. Take the kids and go caroling. Florida is full of festivals and art shows and street musicians. Go to high school football games and root for the team. There is so much more here than Disney.

Food cost is another big issue for your family. Teach the kids and give them responsibility for some meals. Use websites like Budget Bytes and Theprudenthomemaker.com or many threads here for ideas. Thanksgiving dinner is super cheap to make at home because of all the sales. Buy a few extra turkeys and cut them up for meals.

Amy Dacyczyn, who wrote The Complete Tightwad Gazette (another great resource) said that frugality without creativity is deprivation. I think your family is running around so much that you have lost time for that creativity. See if you can get it back.

former player

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Re: Possible to be impossible to live MMM-like? What would a MMM do?
« Reply #41 on: October 31, 2015, 03:48:56 AM »
I think staying at your current job is fine: you obviously like it, it pays well, it's secure and you get good benefits.  Congratulations for getting all that without the student debt that so many here have.   I think the benefits of your wife staying at her current job with its long commute and lack of benefits are much less clear.  She obviously has good family connections in her home town, so perhaps she could use those to network and find something close to home?  It might take a while to pan out, but the benefits both financially and in family time would be enormous.

I also think your staying at your current home is fine - which is good, because with that hair on fire CC debt you can't afford to move. 3 beds/1200 sq ft is entirely doable for a couple with two very small children and two part-time children, especially in Florida with the glorious weather and some outside space.  Have a look at all the decluttering threads around here, and perhaps check out the Marie Kondo book from the library.  The less "stuff" you have in the house the more spacious it will feel.  I'm also betting that you have a fair bit of stuff that you can sell off and put the proceeds to the CC debt.  Once you've decluttered, make sure to control what new stuff you bring in - which should also save you money.

Cars.  You obviously know what you are talking about here.  But I did note that the suggestions here for a new (to you) family car were for a Mazda 5 and you jumped straight to "Mercedes".  Please don't buy yourself a Mercedes until you are completely out of debt (by which time hopefully you will have realised that it is not a good use of your money).    You don't have Mercedes money at the moment.   And I don't necessarily agree with you about the lifelong stigma of renting, but would you really prioritise buying a here-today-gone-in-a-few-years Mercedes over saving for a downpayment on a forever house?

Now, all this talk about houses and cars is all very well, but lets get back to that hair on fire CC debt.  What interest rates are you paying?  Can you borrow the money more cheaply?  Are your credit ratings good enough to move to cheaper cards?  You are talking about it taking 2 years to pay off "with focus and determination".  Focus and determination are good, but if you start by putting in some thinking time to 1) not putting any more purchases on credit unless you can pay it off immediately without affecting the pay-down on your debts (ie using your credit card as a debit card in return for rewards), 2) immediately refinancing what you can at cheaper interest rates, and then 3) paying off the remaining highest rate debts as fast as you can, you should start to see some rapid progress.

Finally, you live in Florida!  Instead of taking your kids to theme parks, take them to the beach, to the everglades, and along with them learn about the awesome natural world you live in and the fantastic wildlife it has.  Teach them, and yourselves, the joy of seeing wildlife in the wild, rather than in captivity and doing tricks.  It's free, its educational, and it sounds to me as though your kids would love it.

Good luck.