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Archive for November, 2014

Odds and Ends

November 24th, 2014 at 04:26 pm

This month's cleanse has been enlightening. I'll probably keep on the low car and high veggie diet for a while to keep losing weight. But it has been interesting how eating vegetables and fresh fruit can be expensive as eating meat and carbs. Our bill will likely be as expensive more with the slight modifications in diet. What I found interesting is that we barely ate out as well thus far (it should be going up) my BIL is town for thanksgiving. We usually go out to eat and will be hosting him and his girlfriend. So I'm guessing we are breaking the budget.

But on a serious note, I can see why people on a limited budget eat less healthy food. It's cheaper to eat a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup than a full veggie meal. Or a bag of goldfish for $1.99 is cheaper than 4 apples or 4 yogurts.

We are going on vacation in a few weeks for a few weeks. Leaving in two weekends till after the new year. We are trying to decide between vrbo in San Diego. One is in Pacific Beach (PB) and other in Ocean Beach (OB). I prefer the PB location and it's great a block from garnet and on the beach. I found it through VRBO, but the guy only advertises on there. You have to mail a check and sign a lease, but you can't book through VRBO. This is the first time its happened to me. I usually book through the vrbo website so I'm nervous and why I'm considering booking the OB site though we don't love the location. I will say the PB rental did offer me to pay through paypal by check.

What have people's experiences been? Should I be worried? My DH prefers booking through vrbo he thinks it gives us an extra layer or protection. Does it?

Also we've gotten a good deal on the mininvan we're renting. We're staying with my in-laws at the VRBO so we need a minivan. And a one way rental of a small car from SD to LA so we can leave for Hawaii. I can't wait to get away from the start of winter and see family (even my in-laws). The only thing left is organizing gifts for family and teachers.

I bought 4 cookie skillets from costco for $18.99 and will give 1 skilled to each teacher with a $20 starbucks gift card. I bought two sets and figure it's a nice christmas gift. I may add in a dry cookie mix I make as well or a book. Last year was cookies and banana bread with SB gift card. The year before was hot chocolate homemade in containers and SB gift card. End of the year gifts were target gift cards and plants. If anyone has creative gifts I'll take it.

I wrote a few weeks ago I was floundering and I still am in some ways. I applied for a couple more positions and my DH has a phone interview with a small company on the west coast. But he's had so many it's hard to get excited. However reading that post, I realized I have to keep moving forward and counting down the months. If we move without jobs it'll be important we purge and minimize.

Plus my DH and I have been talking more. The third child is still on the table perhaps later than I would wish but it is. We've done nothing permanent and we have all our baby stuff. I don't feel complete but I do desire to move and having a third would change our timeline.

On a depressing thought my Dad is 84 has said that he is not coming to visit me again. The trip is too long. So this June my oldest finishes preschool and wanted my parents to see her little ceremony and visit. It'll be warm since it's June so my mom is coming. My Dad said no. So it really is coming now or never. My in-laws have also said they don't want to see us in the winter anymore where we live. It's too far a trip and they feeling the transfers as well.

But with 2014 wrapping up I am trying to think positively. I am trying to be in a good frame of mind. I am definitely purging, losing weight, and just focusing on moving.

Balancing now for later...

November 22nd, 2014 at 03:17 am

Nika brought up a great point about enjoying your money now and later. That it's hard to find the balance between spending and saving. It really is. It's so very easy to get miserly and not spend money. At the same time it's also easy to go off on a spending spree and justify all your spending because you make $X.

So how do you balance spending now versus saving for later?

My thought, it depends on what your priorities are. Do you want to retire early? Do you want to have time with your kids now by staying at home? Or perhaps time later by retiring early? Can you never imagine retiring early because you want a certain lifestyle? Or do you feel obligated if you have kids to pay for college so retirement is out of the question?

There are so many choices and no one right answer. All of the choices above are valid. The choice you make is the one that will lead your financial decisions.

About a year ago when I submitted our financials to MMM blog for a reader case study, I realized that without knowing it we were mustachians. I also realized and confirmed that my DH and I bought wanted the financial security of being "financially independent" from working. He's still unsure about "retiring early" but my DH is completely on board with having money to say FU to anyone, anytime. To know that if we didn't have an income we'd still make it as a family. How did this realization affect us?

We have never lived up to our income and never been big spenders. But that realization that really living on a budget, curbing our spending, and watching every dollar meant we might be closer to "FIRE = financial independence early retirement" than we ever imagined. We had $462k in retirement, we now have in 9 months $519k. We had $163k taxable and $54k cash, now we have $167k and $58k cash and our liabilities has gone down to $3800 car payment gone in 6 more months. Also according to zillow (very underestimated) our house went from $609k to $647k, I am guessing more like $750k to be honest.

Are we there yet? Projections say no. But I do think that we are definitely closing in fast on a FI number but more importantly we are much more focused on becoming FI to decide what we really want to do.

Sighing at people

November 21st, 2014 at 01:56 am

So my no sugar, meat, dairy = vegan diet is still one. One more week and it's been eye opening. I've lost a little over 10 lbs. We'll see how this eating change goes long term. I am thinking about doing 100 days of real food next. I have to say it's been great for the eating out budget but bad for the grocery budget I believe I'm over our $500/month allotment and it's still another 10 days and a house guest. But our eating out budget is under $50 and I usually budget $300.

Why am I sighing at people? Well first I was in line at whole foods buying a Kabocha Pumpkin (required for diet). Only thing I bought and I was standing in line behind a woman who spent $270. Well it took three credit cards and breaking it down to afford it. Seriously? Why are you shopping at whole paycheck if you can't afford to pay for it?

I was in a discussion about finances (well I nodded) with a couple of friends since one of them just bought a new car. One friend said to the other "I try to pay a little more than the minimum on my CC, and one of my four weekly paychecks goes to my car loan." Okay my eyes nearly fell out considering the woman drives the supersize Mercedes SUV that seats 7 diesel. She said her husband picked it because he loves diesel engines. Seriously 25% of your income a month is for your car? The other woman said it hurt to have a car payment of $1k/month. I was stunned with another sigh.

Finally DH's best friends came over on Sunday for dinner and talked about buying a house he'd just seen over the weekend. His wife lives cross country and is planning on moving in February at 32+ weeks pregnant. He's in a mad rush to buy so he said "how bad would it be to make an offer on a house she hadn't seen?" My answer "if it were my DH, he should next talk to a divorce lawyer because making our biggest financial decision without me would piss me off." He said "but we could lose out on a great house. Another sigh.

But the follow up, two days later he said he'd made a mistake and decided he couldn't buy in that town because the school district was worse than he thought. So rushing to buy a house would have lead to a terrible decision.

Another friend who complained to me about my "staying at home raising kids," said she couldn't afford to do it on her husband's income. At least not the lifestyle they want. They just bought a $10k miele fridge and have $100k worth of cars in their driveway (Acura MDX and Honda Pilot). So it's not like they are hurting financially. Nor would one income be small. It'd just be more modest. I would guess $200k versus $400k. I bit my tongue and didn't say well many people stay at home on less. I can't talk because we make equivalent to their one income. But I know there are many people who make less and stay at home with nice lives.

Finally my BIL is coming with his ex girl friend to our place for thanksgiving. Not his current gf. Good thing I "clarified" so I don't out him. Besides the fact that he got into a car accident a couple days ago and totalled his car and is now saying he wants to buy a BMW. My DH is trying to convince him that he should at least buy it used.

These are the unreal stories around me. There are others but perhaps I should save some for another day.

Nest Egg

November 16th, 2014 at 04:27 am

I've been contemplating what our number "nest egg" is. People always say 25x expenses or 4% withdrawal rate. Maybe 33x expenses or 3% withdrawal rate for early retirees.

So assuming we need $40k/year to live on, a little more than we do now, we need $1M or $1.3M to retire. I go back and forth on whether we should count SS as part of the $40k, especially if we retire early. Or should we just assume we'll have to provide all of that income in retirement.

Another assumption for us is that $40k is a paid for home. Right now that seems so out of reach, but if we moved we could very well have a paid for home.

So I guess the question is when can we retire? My gut says 10 years at 45. Why? Because I think our house will have appreciated enough and we can sell it for a lot more, while paying down principal. And we'll have had 10 years of saving and investing which might bring us to surpassing our nest egg number of $1.3M. Currently we are at about half that number but the next half should go faster since our investments will start to generate more savings and our income should increase to allow us to save more while we curb our spending.

What was your nest egg number?

In an aside it's day 11 of my detox/cleanse and it's been both easy and hard. Hard not eating out and preparing exact meals. Easy in that meal planning is done for me and the food is quite filling considering it's fruit and veggies mostly. I guess I'm done 7 lbs.

Struggling here

November 10th, 2014 at 05:36 pm

I am struggling where I am. Not with the cleanse, not financially, but where I am mentally. My DH had a phone interview last night with a company on the West Coast. I feel so up and down at the same time. I am excited by the possibility, yet anxious that it'll be another disappointment.

I feel the strain of hoping, planning, and praying we move. I am torn by the fact I face another two winters where we live and I HATE it. I hate everything about it. I wonder if we shouldn't pull the trigger this coming summer 2015. I feel like our lives are on hold in so many ways.

I struggle because I don't want to tell people our crazy plan because it is nuts. We are going to dump our house, quit a good paying job, and move. I don't know where or what we are going to do.

I do know my DH is no longer desperate for a job. He wants to do a career change and is excited at the prospect. He's found a niche he'd like to get into and thinks it's a better fit for him.

But what do we do? Do we move without jobs to Seattle? Portland? Or go to the more expensive San Diego or San Francisco? When? I am struggling because financially we should stay put. But at the same time financially shouldn't we take the risk?

My cleanse

November 9th, 2014 at 07:46 pm

So I am doing the 21 day ultimate reset by beachbody. It's to cleanse and reset my eating habits. I don't know how it's going to go but I'm on Day 5 surprisingly and not hungry. It's supposed to teach me to eat no sugar, no caffeine, and eat whole foods mostly fruits and veggies.

What's the first week been like? Giving up red meat, all meat, dairy, sugar, and junk food. I didn't think I was a terrible eater but apparently I was. The hardest part so far has been giving up caffeine. I drank 1-2 cans of diet soda/regular soda/day. Now I usually get it on the deal of $2.50/12 pack but still it adds up calorie wise.

This new cleanse is making me feel very fiberous. I feel healthier I'll admit without the sugar, caffeine, and meat. But at the same time I feel stuffed from eating so much food because I'm eating a ton of veggies. The recipes and portions are large because they are such minimal food.

I have a bet going with my mom that I will see her at Christmas having lost 15 lbs (I wanted to say 20 lbs) but felt that was too ambitious. I'm not sure yet what I've lost but I feel like this is a big lifestyle change.

Will it stick? I hope so but I'm not sure. I can guarantee once off it I'll probably go back to eating dairy and some meat. But I might try to get off the carbs. I might also try to stop caffeine and sugar as suggested until 2015 since I'm supposed to wait a month until after the 21 day reset.

Right now the reset ends on 25th of November. My BIL is coming to visit on the 24th so we'll be probably eating out but I'm going to stick on my packing food and eating differently. I will try to post more about this journey.

My next challenge will be following the blog 100 days of real food.