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Dog Adoption Lament

May 21st, 2018 at 10:50 am

So most of you know we've been without a dog now almost 18 months. This is pretty much the longest DH and I have been without a dog but life's been busy. And we've been on wait lists for about a year with rescue groups. But we haven't been proactively looking either other than putting our names on lists.

But on a more serious note. I want to write about how weird this experience has been. This is the first time we've tried to adopt a dog post-kids. Our kids are now 8 and 5. We've finally also moved into a house with a yard. So we seem like an ideal family now right?

WRONG. Now we have kids and a lot of rescue groups or petfinder don't want to talk to me anymore. Apparently when we were young and dumb DH and I were great candidates. Now with 2 "small" children we aren't. We're next exactly new to this rodeo but they aren't thrilled without "candidate" package.

So right now I'm mulling buying a dog. I cringe as I write this because that makes me choke a bit on how expensive it is. Plus truthfully I feel really guilty based on how many dogs need homes. But now what? We need a dog that is hypo allergenic. But other than that age isn't a big deal and type isn't either. A good disposition. We can work with them.

I'm unsure where to go from here. Do we really buy a puppy?

Have you calculated your commute?

May 8th, 2018 at 10:33 am

Have you ever calculated the cost of commuting? I say that because now we have a direct cost. My DH commutes on average 30 minutes one way instead of 1 hour plus. And an hour is generous because usually coming home before it was 75-90 minutes. But assuming he saves now 1 hour an day total in commute he's saving 5* 48 weeks = 240 hours a year. What is an hour worth?

That's the question. If it's worth $25/hr then it's $6000/year of $500/month he's saving. So we could "shave" off $500/month on our mortgage payment moving closer. If we calculated the hour is worth $50/hr then it's $12,000/year and $1k/month. That makes moving closer a lot more beneficial.

Personally I think moving closer worth $50/hour. Assume we go out to eat more, pay more in gas, pay more in child care, etc I think we can easily save $12k/year moving closer. But some people live next door to their parents so they commute far. If i had that sort of deal I'd do it too.

Have you ever calculated what your commute cost you? Was it worth it to move farther? Why?

Blue Apron?

May 7th, 2018 at 10:35 am

So I saw for $24.99 a meal package from Blue Apron at Costco. I was super curious. I didn't pull the trigger but I was tempted. I mean I'd like to learn how to cook a different/new meal. But $24 for a meal seems pricey. Of course Blue Apron is a genuis. I mean seriously it wasn't on my radar at all. I usually don't spend money on online shopping and I don't browse for stuff.

But that being said I decided I would read the website this week and maybe give it a whirl using one of the online 1st time user discount.

Talking with DH he said look at the big picture. $25 for a meal is MUCH cheaper than eating out. It serves 4 so $6/portion is less than you pay eating out. True.

But it's not for people who know how to cook. It's cheaper to buy the ingredients yourself and do it. But maybe for a new dish it's worth it. Before investing in the spices it's worth trying to see how easy or complicated and if you'll like it. And I can see how for people who don't cook it's way better and cheaper than eating out.

Anyone do blue apron? I'll review it after I try it. Because I will try it.

credit card arbitage

April 24th, 2018 at 10:08 am

I'm interested in starting to use credit cards to get rewards and miles for traveling. I am reading a bit. But truthfully right now I'm still really busy with catching up after tax season, finishing setting up in the house after the remodel. I am actually proud to say we have been trying to be more thoughtful about putting stuff away and asking if it makes us happy and if not we are donating or selling it. (thank you to everyone in FB organized friends I have been both inspired and motivated reading stuff you purge).

That being said I really would love to have a lot of miles to travel with. So what cards do people love and use? Right now we don't really use travel cards but it's more laziness and we hadn't wanted to bring our credit down with too many inquiries.

But we have a house and car now so I'm thinking it might be okay. I have to wonder though I've found it difficult to use miles so flexibly as people who do these credit card arbitage. I've a friend whose always done it but he travels last minute on a whim. Literally he'll book a ticket the night before knowing they open seats and is willing to take the risk. Also he has a job where if he doesn't show up it's not a big deal. He can work from "home" and remotely if need be.

But it's not as easy for us. Until now we've never had jobs so flexible.

But how do people really use miles to travel so much? How does it align so easily with school vacations and breaks? I find that I end up paying a lot of the times because of our more rigid dates.

personal capital

March 28th, 2018 at 09:48 pm

I just linked tonight all our data on personal capital website. It was an interesting and enlightening snapshot of our assets and investment allocation. I did it myself earlier this year. Gave me fits figuring everything out efficiently because I worked with what my DH had done and with his 401k.

First up, we have enough in our investments to pay off our mortgage. Not enough in taxable but more than enough to pay it off if we cashed in our retirement accounts. Hadn't every really looked but interesting. Only thing taxable is the 401k and looking at it, I think we'd still have enough after taxes. Very nice.

Second, they checked my target asset allocation and I pretty much hit it dead on. I'm interestingly at a higher 90% stocks and 10% bonds mix. Higher than I thought. I thought I was at 85% and 15%. I wanted to be more at 80% stock/20% bonds. But I guess it's okay.

I just readjusted DH's 401k from VINIX to a mix of a small cap, mid cap, international growth and more bonds. I think we are holding cash that it makes sense to perhaps put a bit more into bonds even with the cash. Actually looking at it more carefully this portfolio does not include our cash position so with it included we are at my 80% stocks/bonds 10%/10% cash so maybe I shouldn't have adjusted the 401k. But I feel like this year bonds might go big and the stock market is due a correction.

A really impressive point is my management fees were evaluated at 0.07%. Yes that's awesome I think. Something I am considering is building a stock dividend portfolio. Investing in our taxable account maybe 5 stocks that pay heavy dividends.

I am also 52.2% US stocks and 23.74% international stocks. I guess things are looking good overall. This is a very nifty tool.

I also am considering buying RE as a diversification play. This is something I want to put 25k into or as much as $50k into a rental. We are talking about partnering with friends, which we'll see.

Finally the retirement projections. Well it says I have a 96% chance of retiring at age 53 with $7600/month. Substantially more than the $4k/month I was projecting. I'd like to hit that instead in 10 years but we have save more than I'm projecting which is entirely doable because I'm projecting only saving $40k/year, right now we're doing more but I want to be conservative.

We are also projecting unfortunately to be $30k short for each kid's college fund by 18. I'm thinking we might be closer to $15k. Why? Because I think it's assuming we won't have the projected $81608 by the time they start which is true. But we still have another 4 years to "save" the $2k/year we are doing and that takes care of $8k. And seeing the number in black and white being a projected $30k short each, means that if I for the next 10 years saved an extra $2k/year we wouldn't be short for either. I'm thinking maybe this year we do a one time $10k contribution to each kid for college and call it a day? I think we might have that the cards.

Anyway try using personal capital. It's an amazing website. https://www.talkable.com/x/cbBCMQ

checks

March 17th, 2018 at 07:17 am

Wow okay so I wrote over 50 checks last year. Crazy. I thought checks were a thing of the past turns out not. Check bill pay does not seem to work for me. I tried 3 times to have them mail a check to the guy who came and cleaned our gutters. I also am told to send a check to the school for activities. They don't seem fond of having an electronic check sent. Nor does the music teacher. Pretty much any kid activities wants a check cut unless they take credit cards.

I only realized this as I am looking over our annual spend and figuring out our taxes. I am pretty sure pre-kids we pretty much never wrote a check.

Oh well. I guess this explains why we run through checks a lot faster than I thought. When I told DH his eyes opened wide. Of course he pays no bills and hasn't cut a check in years. So he was floored. I can now see how many moms walk around with a check and comment "i am constantly cutting checks for every activity." More kids = more activities = more checks. Yes even if it's one activity it's still one check.

do i need an ef?

March 15th, 2018 at 05:46 pm

Years ago we ran so lean that every penny had to be accounted for so we didn't overdraw on anything. Our credit cards functioned as float but we basically ran it as a check register. No extra pennies anywhere. We squeezed dollars till they screamed.

But the things got easier for awhile and then we had kids and went down to one income and it was tight again for awhile. Then we decided time to get serious again and we started saving hardcore looking back we were at 50% savings again. We had made a plan in Christmas 12/2012 for 6/2016 that we were going to save 1 year of living expenses and move without jobs. We bumped it up to 6/2015 and we saved more than expected.

Anyway we lived on our savings (ie spent it the horror!!!), then knew we wanted to buy a house so we kept a lot of cash on hand for 2 years from 6/2015 to 6/2017 and then even after. We paid 100% cash out of pocket for our $75k renovations this year. No debt. We also bought a car and put down $8k.

But it appears we are unsure what to do about our saving again. We are back to having a "normal" EF of about 8 months cash. The problem is my DH I think feels insecure now and talks about having 1 year sitting in cash. I think not a good idea.

Second, I think that maybe we should start running lean again and have 1 month cash on hand and the rest we invest in something.

I'm struggling because I do think the stock market is high and I'm not sure I want to invest more in stocks right now. Second I'm really becoming interested in investing in real estate as a diversification in our overall portfolio. Not something we fall into but a real investment and bought solely with cash flow in mind.

But the the housing market seems red hot right now and I'm not sure it's the right time to plunk down cash. I mentioned the duplex a co-worker is selling that I've considered. It wasn't enough of a return to generate making it worth investing right now.

But if we are serious about getting into RE i think we need the cash to put as a down payment so investing it in stocks doesn't seem wise either. Nor does running with a lean EF. We probably should have a fully funded rental EF.

For people who invest in RE what's the wisest decision? For people not invested in RE is it because of the entry barrier in cost? Too much time? Too much risk?

I have been pondering this for awhile actually. What we should do regarding our Emergency Fund and whether to invest it for now or to wait and perhaps buy a property.

rethinking college costs

February 6th, 2018 at 11:26 am

So I've been rethinking college costs as I investigate into 529 more. I think I'm going to pass on it for now.

I really have been considering putting more than our $2k/year away for the DK. But since FASFA considers children's accounts more heavily than parents it might make more sense to keep the money in our accounts and use it for that purpose than to ear mark it now.

I see a lot of parents paying out of pocket for college. I know the timing usually works since you are usually making more by the time your kids are 18 than when they are 2. But I wonder if this is the tack to take? I guess there is so much uncertainty about what college will costs. How hard it will be to get in and go? How do you really plan?

That being said we did fund 2017 and 2018 ESA with $2k/year. So my DK 8 in 2nd grade has about $27k and my Dk 5 in kindergarten has $19k. I think it's something. They both lost a lot this week since they are both in VTI only. But at least we are taking the risk.

Assuming college will be $100k if we can manage to save $50k by 18 for both I think $50k over 4 years will be $12k and we could afford to cash flow that.

ceding control of investments

February 5th, 2018 at 12:08 am

Reading TexasHusker's post made me reflect a little. From the start my DH and I had conflicting investment strategies. He believed he could beat the market, I never thought so. So when we met and before we married we had pretty much nothing. We were struggling to stay out of debt and pay our bills. When he got his first job we finally were married (got a green card), and started saving and investing. We each had a Roth IRA and his 401k. We put the 401k into investments chosen by his company and I picked them. Then we agreed to invest our Roth IRA ourselves. We could each choose to invest risky or not. He decided to buy individual stocks. I chose to invest in boring ETFs. I did better than him.

That being said. In around 2010 with the birth of our first child I cede control of my Roth IRA to DH because I fell into deep post-partum depression/anxiety. I was on medications for about 18 months until I was again pregnant. Then I was off for a few months but mid-way again I needed the medications. Please don't say I didn't need it, I did and yes I saw someone and I can describe now as this anxiety of wanting to throw myself off the roof or constant anxiety and fear of being crazy. I wasn't myself until I finished breastfeeding my DK2 at a little over a year so end of 2013. My hormones made me crazy. I suffered a miscarriage as well between DK1 and DK2 hence their 30 months apart instead of 24 months as I planned.

So I handled basically our budget, living expenses, and oversight of taxes. But I relinquished all investment control during this time and I couldn't tell you what we were doing. I could see it from our tax statements but I had no energy to care.

But we lost a ton of money in our Roth IRAs during this time though the market was good. DH was trading oil commodities. Lesson learned. Turned out this lesson made him realize he couldn't beat the market.

So he began investing in index funds and he changed his mentality after losing the money. That also allowed him later to get on board with hands off investing into index/etfs. Tomorrow I'll finally dig into our finances during that time.

day 5

January 18th, 2018 at 10:52 pm

Good day eating I guess. It's boring.

Day 5
1/2 oatmeal
salad with 4 oz of chicken alfredo - lunch
1 cup split pea/ham soup
butternut squash roasted for dinner
blueberries and strawberries 1 cup for snack

Day 4
1/2 oatmeal
salad for lunch
fried rice 1/2 cup measured
2 dumplings = 2 oz weighed
roasted butternut squash
1 cup watermelon
1/2 strawberries

I saw a friend post on facebook they bought this food plate from amazon for $20.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071GT5XZW/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_m9wyAb8E30HMT?th=1

It sorts your food and portion controls. My DH said if you use it for 1 year and lose weight it's worth every penny. I am going to think on it until after hawaii. Then I'll come back and if i'm losing weight i'm thinking I'll buy it.

As it stands I think I've lost 3 lbs. But I feel like that's my normal flux and I also feel like I gain and lose the same 20 lbs all the time.

My mom comes next week and we tend to eat out so that will be interesting.

Fire Success Rate

January 17th, 2018 at 10:52 pm

So I calculated that maxing out our 401k and IRAs for the next 15 years will give us a 100% success rate of retiring for 45 years with a $90k/year income. This is with $0 SS income coming in.

2032 retirement gives us a 2% chance of failure. 2031 retirement gives us a 14% chance of failure. So if we continue down our path the earliest I think we could retire is 2031.

However if increase our savings to $40k/year, saving $10k/year outside for 13 years the failure rate is 2% in 2031. And in the year 2030 it's 12% failure, and in 2029 it's 18% failure.

Also adding back SS does nothing to the success rate. Because we're assuming a lower SS and taken at age 62 even if we retire at age 55.

I think it would be easier to lower the number we need to retire not $90k/year. If we lowered it to say $60k/year we can retire in 2028 or 10 years with 1% failure rate saving $30k/year and 50 years of retirement. That would take us to 100 years old. About what I guessed off the cuff.

I have always said DH and I are about 5 years away from FI. According to Fire Calculator we are. If we save $100k/year for the next 5 years and spend $60k/year, we would have a failure rate of 1% of living on $60k/year for 50 years to age 95.

But the reality is while I know we spend around $60k/year and live well, we need more because we aren't done with say college. Plus I'd rather know that everything above and beyond is gravy rather than cutting it so close.

Have you ever calculated?

day 3

January 17th, 2018 at 03:02 pm

Another good day with eating. Same old same old.

Oatmeal 1/2c
Salad for lunch with 3 oz of smoked salmon
salad for dinner with 4 oz of quiche
1 cup watermelon
1 cup strawberries
Broccoli, bell pepper, and asparagus

So far today day 4
1/2 C oatmeal
salad with 2 tbsp dressing
1 cup watermelon
1 cup strawberries

The breakfast and lunch is super easy but I was hungry last night interestingly. I hadn't been in awhile. I am busy at work so I have to hurry and eat at 2 before getting kids.