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Archive for June, 2016

Lifestyle choices

June 29th, 2016 at 03:04 pm

We're in the midst of another road trip so we've been chatting a lot in the car. I'll post pictures if I can figure out how of cool stuff we see.

We're doing our due diligence and starting to focus on areas we'd like to live permanently. Right now DH works around 20 miles from work he'd like to cut it down to 10 miles. I'm all for him having a shorter commute that's in line with our values and lifestyle choices.

But he brought up potentially moving out of the suburbs and moving into the city. He would be within 3-5 miles of work, bikable/fast transit, one car family, convenience/urban and fun. Trade offs are smaller home, not a big deal, postage yard (big deal to me), lack of privacy, and not great schools potentially. So he suggests maybe private school instead for the kids? Something we've never really considered both being products of public schools.

So now I'm torn. Do we shorten his commute considerably and change our lifestyle drastically? Is it in line to be really close to work, 1 car, no yard, I don't mind a small house but hate having neighbors right there, and private school? Is this a lifestyle I want or does he? We're really struggling because this would be permanent.

I know it'd be cost efficient probably to buy a house in the city for less money potentially in a bad school district and do private school. We'd save on time and costs. But I'm really not sure I'd enjoy it.

I have been a huge proponent of living where you love. That people in HCOLA who shouldnt' live there or LCOLA not making much should live where they love. And now we're at that same point.

DH could love the commute and he likes walking to places. But at the same time we aren't sure about living so close to neighbors and doing private school. What happens if he loses his job? While other jobs are in the area and he'll likely find one in the same area we'll be on the hook for private school tuition no matter what. But many people pay for private school even in good school districts for different reasons. Would we consider private school anyway in the suburbs? We have neighbors and friends doing private school now.

I think I'm feeling more pressure because before we always felt we had flexibility and time to make a mistake and correct it. But now the kids are getting older and more settled and I don't want to keep on moving. This is just difficult because it really is a lifestyle decision.

More talking to commence. FWIW we've been looking at houses in the city and they are fine. The parks are cute and walkability is amazing.

Do you like where you live? Do you wish you lived in the city or suburbs or more rural? And do you do private school and why did you choose it?

financial planning for 2016

June 28th, 2016 at 06:47 am

So a fun financial benefit with DH's job is that he gets free food. No more brown bagging it. He's actually a little sad. He's always brown bagged lunch since I've meet him and it's something we've done as part of our lifestyle. Now it'll be weird to not plan leftovers as lunches. Someone at the company a single guy told DH he saved $700/month eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner on the company's dime. I would estimate he'll save $20/month. I am curious if we'll see a difference in our grocery bill. I'm sure we'll start eating out again.

But on a serious note we've decided already to max out the 401k for the rest of the year. Typically companies allow you to contribute up to 50% of your salary so we decide to rachet it up to 50% of his salary and hit the maximum as fast as possible.

We are also planning on maxing out the 10% ESPP contribution as a general saving plan. With the 15% discount on stock purchase we tend to use the ESPP as a long term savings vehicle we hold in case of emergencies. We tend to sell it after 2 years of purchase because according to tax laws it becomes long term gains but the 15% discount is taxed as ordinary income.

Because of this I think we might be short monthly with the extreme 401k contribution. We decided that we'll use our savings to make up the difference. It'll smooth out next year with a normal income and I think we still might be able to manage since we live pretty frugally.

We also decided to tap our cash savings and contribute to our Roth IRAs $11k and Coverdell ESA $4k as soon as DH starts working. Typically we'd funnel it from our paychecks but this time with the market on sale it makes sense to contribute asap. Plus I am pretty sure we won't qualify for a Roth IRA after this year.

We are also calculating our taxes and potentially refiling 2015 taxes. We have DH's 401k from his old job and we are considering rolling it to his Roth IRA. We could move it to a Rollover IRA and recharacterize a certain amount up to the 25% tax bracket married ($150k). We might not have the chance again. DH quitting mid year and getting a job mid year means that we stretched out our tax basis over 2 years.

But we're not sure about the Rollover IRA. If we do the rollover IRA, DH told me that we couldn't do the backdoor Roth IRA in the future. He said if we did then we couldn't move the money from a non-deductible IRA to a Roth because it'd be pulled from a Rollover and non deductible IRA. So we have a lot to consider.

We have a lot to do in the next month organizing our finances. We also get real insurance and dental insurance and vision. DH hasn't gone since last august so he's been waiting.

I'm so excited. The budget nerd in me is screaming and waiting to get started. I can't wait! I can house hunt and run numbers and spreadsheets and projections. I write this because I am so weird and only people here would understand.

It's official!

June 28th, 2016 at 06:24 am

DH got a very nice counter offer and took it on the spot. The company called and gave them offer and said he could think about it. The woman barely finished talking before DH jumped on it and said he'll take it. Very excited. They sent it electronically and he signed.

We also resigned our lease today. Property manager sent it to us and we signed and scanned it back in. So we're set for another year.

I also accomplished disposing of a 36 outfits at the second hand store. I donated another 40 items, and threw out about 20 items like crayons, shells, whistles, and toys from the car. I am up to 740 items gone. Not quite halfway but I am feeling like I could potentially hit maybe 1200 for the year? Imagine where I would be if I didn't even try. I may have to keep this up every year.

I also won my second month of my transformer bet by 0.2 lbs. OMG yes! So an offcial win. I will say I sort of cheated because I was ahead in month one by almost a pound so I lost less than I needed. And barely eeked in a winning weight. I am already up above the number the next day. Sigh. Well at least I am moving forward to transform. I struggled a lot this month.

And the dice says...

June 25th, 2016 at 04:06 am

Well it turns out the gamble was correct. DH landed his dream job. He got two very solid offers from two great companies. Company A offered $x + bonus less money than Company B. But Company B is a lower salary and higher bonus guarantee. He likes Company A but asked for more money. Company B told him to name a number that would guarantee he'd work for them. He's spending the weekend thinking because he really loves Company A.

We've decided he'll take company A even if they can't match the compensation of Company B. It's worth it. Besides the biggest thrill? It turns out that he's making more money than he was making last year. Cheers! Lower cost of living, more money, happier/closer to family, and DH got a year to be with us. Life couldn't be sweeter. Guess the gamble paid off.

We spent the last two days desperately looking at home to buy for pricing ideas and rentals. We decided we just aren't comfortable taking the risk of moving into a shorter commute with the chance we might hate the neighborhood. We don't want to risk moving our kiddos three times in three years. So instead DH has agreed to suck it up and try this commute. If it's miserable our new goal and plan is to spend every day/weekend looking at homes and neighborhoods to figure out what might work. We're going to hang out this weekend in the cities and walk around, see shops, libraries, parks, and overall impression.

We've been very insular since we've moved focusing on where we are and making friends in our area and it's been successful. But now we are honestly able to not focus on studying/school and get out more.

We made a plan that in 1 year we'll be moving into a rental or house no matter what. That we will have a decision made. We've also decided that if DH is miserable we'll hasten the timeline and take a hit on our lease agreement. I'm really impressed DH is taking this hit for the family's well being by making a commute I know will make him unhappy. But this is delayed gratification and in the long term we'll be better off is why he's making this sacrifice for me and the kids. We've always valued minimum commuting time and time as a family has always taken #1 priority. He proved it last year walking away from his job and moving into the unknown. So this sacrifice I know is huge.

Finally our dog survived his surgery. Sounds stupid but I was super worried with him being put under for anesthesia and the dr did say it was possible he wouldn't pass the liver test and the surgery was impossible. He had a fractured tooth that had to be extracted along with other teeth and 10 skin tags that needed removal. He did great and survived. I know it's ridiculous but we were really worried that instead of helping him we might have sent him to die on the table. I'm really glad he's okay. I know our time is limited, but he really is my best friend and support. I walk him 2-3x a day and it's the only time I get to really think and clear my head alone. He listens as I talk and think.

Well life is beautiful. If you had told me we'd be in this position a year ago I'd tell you it'd be a dream. Turns out sometimes it happens.

Now I'm off to figure out the next steps of our plan.

2 offers are coming

June 22nd, 2016 at 04:56 am

OMG this is it. Two job offers are coming in. I am crossing my fingers that they are good. I think so. At least DH is happy with the potential employers. This is a huge deal. Before the 1 year mark the bet we paid is looking to payout. An income again. Potentially moving locally.

Looking over the benefits we are losing some of the 401k match before it was 3% matched at 200% = 6% of salary. Now it's 50% match of 7% so 3.5% of salary and about the same price for slightly worse medical benefits to be expected because we had premium medical care before. Also slightly less vacation 21 days a year versus the 26 days year DH got.

Do you think it's worth moving for a shorter commute into another neighborhood and paying $1000 more a month for a slightly larger house? And testing out another area? Or should we try to buy? Or just be content renting?

My phone died on Sunday so I've been using the free Nokia phones we got last year when we switched to T Mobile. Going to look into replacement by warranty.

counting up!!!

June 21st, 2016 at 05:12 am

So we probably got rid of around 200 sheets of art work and kids papers this weekend. Took pictures, scanned in and managed the kid's stuff. So with everything else I'm purging we're up to 633 items this year. It is eye opening. I know it sounds ridiculous but I don't count too many broken toys or clothes that are torn. But I do count stuff like all this paperwork that piles up. It's sort of thrilling secretly to be at 600+. I'm gleeful.

On a quick note I think DH has a job offer coming in tomorrow and crossing my fingers on the other two. This is way to nerve wracking.

I also pulled a muscle in my back or it's sciatica. Ughh. I have muscle relaxants and pain meds. Tell me this gets easier.

job hunting is a full time job

June 16th, 2016 at 05:17 am

Job hunting is stressful in a different way than the bootcamp has been. Both things have been tiring. Honestly having a job was easier since DH would go to work and be done when he got home. He rarely worked late and rarely brought work home. He might go in early and stay late but not on a consistent basis.

During the bootcamp he left very early and came home late everyday, then ate dinner and went straight back to studying. Basically like being in college except he had a wife and two kids who saw him for a few minutes at dinner. Plus on the weekends he would go into the school and study all day, come home, eat dinner, and study more.

I must say his frugality muscles were amazing and everyone in his cohort commented. They said "of course DH brought his lunch, how do you do it with two kids? And they asked him how do you just go home and eat?" He'd pack chips in a sandwich bag, granola bars, etc to tide him over until he got home. Spending money eating out for convenience was not something he ever did. But truthfully this was the exact same thing he did since we've meet through grad school (both of us did) and after when he was making big bucks.

Then the job hunting started and he could relax his schedule. He could leave for school after the kids were up and come home and eat dinner and help put them to bed. Or even cook dinner some nights. But at the same time there were many days and nights where he'd leave around 2-3 pm and be home around 10 pm after a networking event. An average week he'd go to 3-4 networking events. Then there was a conference he did from Friday 6 am to Sunday 10 pm.

It's been interesting watching the job hunt go on while unemployed. It's very different than job hunting while employed. The amount of effort really is a full time job if done properly with studying and networking and just taking the time to tailor each resume and cover letter.

I can see how people can get complacent and stay at a position they hate. Or how it can be very difficult to switch jobs. Sometimes it's just easier to stay put.

Anyway onward we go. Let's see if this ends soon or if we continue on this merry go round.

job update

June 15th, 2016 at 03:52 am

So we are five weeks out from DH finishing his program. We are 40 weeks since the last paycheck. Our retirement accounts and investments have rebounded and we're still doing well. We've burned through a large chunk of cash with living and tuition.

But DH is hot on the job hunt. He hit a lull I'd say for a month with applications going out and having companies taking time to get back to him. But he is in the final stage of interviewing onsite with 3 companies. He is very satisfied with all three companies. We've agreed if nothing pans out then he'll regroup and apply to more jobs and lower the bar. But right now he's excited at the prospects.

Our lease is supposed to be up July 31st, but we aren't sure we want to stay. All three positions are in the city and where we live isn't the easiest commute. But we're not really ready to rush into buying, but aren't sure we want to commit to staying put. So we're twisting in the wind between buying and moving to another rental.

I'm really torn. I hate the idea of moving the kids after 1 year then potentially moving again if we rent. However we might be able to land a rental in the neighborhood we'd like to buy so perhaps it's a good idea.

Cross your fingers. My DH's week of hell is starting tomorrow. His onsites start Wednesday, Friday, and Monday. I pray that he gets one offer and more than one would be perfect.

DH said the hypothesis we made 1 year ago is about to be proven one way or another. I don't know if we can ever make up the money we burned through not having an income for a year. But instead I feel as though we took a year of early retirement for an opportunity we couldn't pass up and a chance to be happier until we "retire".

Financial Infidelity

June 15th, 2016 at 03:20 am

Went out with another 4 moms on Saturday. LOVELY night first time in new place and wow it was fun. Settling in. But my reason for writing?

I was the only one out of 5 moms who is transparent with my DH. All the other four talked about stashing money and paying for things without telling their spouse. Two work and two stay at home and the two who stay at home said they wanted to work to stash their money and not tell their husbands what they spend on. The two that do work, keep their money as theirs and spend it as they wish.

Okay I don't get this at all. This mentality is something my mom tells me all the time. "LAL you need to work so you can have your own money and spend it as you wish!" That way your DH won't tell you how to spend his money.

I say and I repeated this Saturday, why would I do that? I mean truthfully we don't have enough money (in my opinion) for me to go out and spend whatever I make on whatever I want. I don't have the luxury for us to live on DH's salary and waste mine "income" on whatever I want.

The truth is that even if I got back to work and I make say $2k/month I can't spend that on clothes, makeup, hair, etc. Honestly my DH and I would sit and look at our entire budget and work out where we should put that money. In all honesty if I go back to work the money I make is earmarked already for college savings for both DK. I can't go out and get highlights, waxes, facials, etc. We don't make enough even if I work.

My DH would be pissed and honestly rightfully so if his "income" is for us to live and save on and I blow my "income" on luxuries. My mom says that's what women who work deserve. My answer is that's fine if it's like her a 2nd marriage and you keep things separate.

But a 1st marriage? I mean I was shocked all the other moms thought it perfectly reasonable to do this. I found it shocking the SAHM are sneaking extra money on the side to do what they wish.

Truthfully I can get why people in the US get divorced. I think it's the financial infidelity. People in the US don't save enough and because we as a country like to spend money when you have two people married and NOT communicating or on the same page for spending I can see how problems arise quickly.

My DH and I aren't perfect. We do have our struggles with out budget and sometimes DH does give me "crap" about stuff I buy. I am the "spender" in our relationship. But i'm transparent about it.

I also think that he knows how practical and logical I am in general about money (i'd say I'm in the top 5% of people with financial savvy of the general population. If you are reading this you are too likely).

But I can't help but wonder how many other couples don't talk about money? And are financially unfaithful? How many hide and lie about money? Or have control issues?

I have no problem with separate accounts as long as it's transparent. But I wonder if couple divorce because they can't reconcile their habits? And then more importantly lie about it? The lying would drive me out of the relationship more than the spending or debt. I would be pissed if DH went around hiding money or charging up CC and then lied about it and it came out. I don't know if I could trust him again. Sometimes it's not the act but the lying.

Do you think most financial sound couples are transparent?