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DDDD- Dialing down, deleveraging, diversifying...
Old 03-30-2017, 09:25 AM   #1
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DDDD- Dialing down, deleveraging, diversifying...

Hey

Alright, first post here, please overlook the lack or misuse of abbreviations here... e.g. I think DH means ... spouse? But if I accidentally misuse it in the context of a designated hitter or something... just tell me (and feel free to laugh at me behind your screen).

Also, I hope I'm posting this in the proper forum. Moderators, feel free to move it or tell me how to if not.

>> This is a "calling for all wisdom" from you older, wiser folk who have seen more than I have, experienced more than I have, and from the looks of this forum... thought a lot more than I have about life, marriage (I'm particularly grateful for all the openness and vulnerability I've seen on E-R.org) and investments.

I'm also going to do my best not to lay down in the chair and treat you all like you are my therapist, attempting instead to focus here on the practical aspects of a couple conundrums which make up my financial life.


1- Humbling myself: I don't want to learn my lessons through suffering, I'd rather just listen and be shown/proven what I'm doing, what it could cost me, probabilities, and the intuition of the masses here at E-R.org, before the loss and suffering come.

What am I talking about?

I'm the guy with all his eggs in one basket.

But it feels like I have a golden-egg laying goose that will only produce them into this one basket!

I'm having a hard time deciding what to do next.


Story/Work: For about 5 years, I worked in real estate (specifically, the financial, acquisitions, capital raising and development side of real estate) in a pretty small and homogenous town.

I spent 3 years putting together a real estate investment portfolio of 9 single-family homes, 4 duplexes, and 1 fourplex, all within a couple miles of each other (not diversified geographically). I'm about to go under contract on another duplex in the same town (hoping today or tomorrow).

I also own my personal home, in a separate city from the rentals.

These rentals are in a college town, I started picking them up in 2012, and historically I've had less than 5% vacancy on the entire portfolio. I have a property management team that is not perfect, but my company of choice in that town, and they are professional, expensive, and not slum lording by any means... since I hired them the overall expense ratio of properties is around 50%, and they aren't old or class-C properties.

The assets would likely be appraised just over $4 million, I've recently refinanced three and am closing another big refinance in the next week or two. That will land me with five 30-yr fixed mortgages, excluding my personal home (15-yr fixed), and all the rest are ARM's, generally 5/1's with either 20 or 25 year amortizations.

The Bank Debt = about 64% of market value.
The Private Debt = another 20% of market value.

So... deep breaths... I'm 84% leveraged. I say deep breaths because, I feel a small pang of anxiety just typing that out. A year or two ago, I was probably at 94% , but the real estate market recently experienced some growth.

That makes my real estate equity (pre-closing costs of a sale) around $600,000. (Swells with pride, then remembers that if the market hiccups he loses 1/3 of his net worth with a 5% drop in the market).


*** I have about $2,500 in stocks. (Pauses for the crowd's laughter to die down).
*** I probably have $100,000 or so in equity in my personal home.
*** I own an unsecured note receivable for $117,500 on lame terms from a real estate deal that went bad, and the payor is making I/O payments on that, with a balloon here in just under 6 years. I hardly count this on my personal financial statement because of the rocky nature of the history behind this...
*** I own a couple pairs of jeans, a printer... ok, ok, cheesy, I'll stop.

(Just realized I've been saying, "I" this whole time, without properly introducing my wife and daughter, so pretend I've been saying "we"...)

We have probably ~$50,000 or so of cash in the bank.


2- In light of #1 above, you might have already guessed that I'm a typical guy on this forum, but maybe with a bit more naivety than most of you... but what we have in common is a (desperate?) desire to have financial independence. I want to retire as early as possible, not because I'm tired of my day-job (I've never really had one), but because I want to live my life playing, having fun, exploring, and discovering.

I'm not one of those, "I love work" guys. I do want to have a full "contribution bucket" in my life... but I don't quite know what makes me feel that way, and I want to be free to discover that without pressure and the need for a paycheck alongside it.

I also want all of the above with a wife who is happy with our finances, content, and understands what she needs to in order to continue life successfully if I were to die. We do have term life insurance ($1 million to my wife, $450K to a real estate company I founded that relies heavily on me for asset management), and my wife is very intelligent, but also pretty dependent on me for the handling of all the ins and outs of our (somewhat complex) financial/real estate situation.

My wife and I do fall into the category of, "Not financially compatible,"... but somehow we've survived. How? Combination of luck, upbringing, fear of abandonment, and sincere loving commitment (some good ingredients, some bad, but we are where we are). Advice here is welcomed.

So, while these real estate assets have been snowballing and making the net worth figure grow pretty rapidly, which is so hard for me to let go of... it feels like I need to make some big changes to our balance sheet, and the financial operations of our life-- lest the day of doom fall upon the little town my portfolio is in, crushing everything, or the grim reaper visit me and leave my wife with a complicated situation to deal with along with her grief.

It seems that if I make a big change now: (A) I might be dodging a major bullet that could manifest, but (B) I might be selling my golden-egg laying goose underpriced, and signing myself up for the career horror stories I've always personally avoided and that I read about here and elsewhere on the internet, as well as see my peers experiencing on a weekly basis.


3- I'll try to just make this third one succinct, I thought about not mentioning it at all, but it just feels too relevant.

::Lays down on therapists bedside couch:::

Another factor in my life is that 15 months ago, my wife and I were 26 weeks pregnant, visiting family out of state, and our beautiful daughter decided Christmas Eve was simply too gorgeous of a night to not experience outside the womb.

So, we were blessed with the experience of having a 26 week micro-premie 2,000 miles from home and community, and we journeyed through the rollercoaster of her growth to full term in the NICU. It changed us.

Upon our return, we were different people, so we moved from our city of friends [who had become strangers to us, because of our being different people] to a new city (this is why I live away from my portfolio now), and we are in the midst of a unique version of "Post-NICU Trauma" that has me a bit confused about what I want out of life, work, career... and the DH (??!?) is certainly just as deep in the trenches of, "Who am I? What do I want? What do I do next?".... as I am.

I just mention this because it's a subjective but important factor in the equation. And I would like to welcome any wisdom or advice here as well.

Allegedly 97%+ of couples who have a long-term NICU stay like ours end up divorced, and while we don't judge divorcees at all, it's not what we want. Some days it's hard (actually, some months) but we have also become much, much closer through the past year and a half... more honest with each other, more humble, more accepting... yet also more stressed, more easily triggered, less tolerant of things we don't like about each other's behaviors...etc


Throw that in there with #2 and #1, and tell me what you think. Anything. Advice on marriage, advice on my financial situation, what to do next, how to still keep early retirement as a top priority amidst feeling like your wife deserves and has easily earned $500K of do-whatever-you-want money (she just gave and gave and gave to our baby in such an intense season... while I basically emotionally short-circuited on hour #1).


Thanks in advance, if I take a while to respond... I will, just give me time.
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Old 03-30-2017, 09:55 AM   #2
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"*** I have about $2,500 in stocks. (Pauses for the crowd's laughter to die down). "

My first reaction is that nobody on this forum is remotely likely to mock you for not having a lot of funds in the bank or market. Particularly with that impressive RE portfolio! So there is one small thing not to worry you.
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:24 AM   #3
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Hi and welcome,

Term Insurance: good, er great idea.

How comfortable are you that your real estate portfolio will not tank: given the economy of the region where they are located? If you feel you have too much in one pot, then taking a profit on one and investing the assets in a balanced portfolio might be something to pursue.

You worry about selling any part of your portfolio too soon. There is no too soon, there is only too late.

Is the $50k your emergency fund? How many months of expenses does it cover? If it isn't enough for 6 months (or whatever your SAN* factor needs), then you need to dip into your real estate portfolio. I am reading that while you own 9 properties, it will soon be 10.

I'm not saying that real estate couldn't provide an income - but you do need to diversify beyond real estate.

That baby girl will need college some day, where in all of this is the start of setting aside something to help her in the future? Kids are expensive, as I'm sure you are finding out.

Beyond that, some reading is in order.

Any book by Jane Bryant Quinn. This is personal finance, I'm sure you know a lot about it, but, given that you have new goals for yourself and your family, it might be time to refresh your knowledge.
"How to Retire Happy Wild and Free" and "The Joy of Not Working" by Ernie Zielinski.
"All About Asset Allocation" by Richard Ferri

Check out the Links section for other resources (personal blogs by early retirees, web sites, etc.).

Hope that helps,

- Rita

*SAN sleep at night
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:30 AM   #4
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Welcome to the forum!

I used to be a neonatologist (I know you know what that is!) and I actually did some research on family stress following the birth of premature babies, so I have a pretty good idea of what you and your DW (dear wife) have gone through. I hope your little bundle of joy has overcome her alphabet soup of early challenges (RDS, PDA, IVH, BPD, ROP, etc etc) and is developing well. You know, of course, that even the healthiest babies born this early have increased risks of attention deficit disorder, squint and various other challenges, so the stressors may continue. The good news is that young people who were born very prematurely, when interviewed as teens, in general, tend to be quite positive about their lives and optimistic about their futures.

I hope you and DW have good health insurance and the family and social support that you need. I'm curious why you felt the need to move. Does your little girl require regular health services not available in your former home? While it is true that the divorce rate is higher among parents of premies, I don't believe it is anything like 97%. Try not to be one of those couples. Be kind to yourselves, and take all the help you can get.

So, I'm a landlord too, and all my rental properties are at a distance, and managed professionally. It does eat into profits, but I don't want to be called in the middle of the night to unblock a toilet! Where we differ is scale. Not counting my home, which I own free and clear, I have 5 properties and 3 mortgages. My properties are leveraged to the tune of ~25% and falling. Combined, they account for less than 15% of my investments. So I have a modest property portfolio allocation, and you have a job as a property investor. In a couple of decades, you will probably be richer than most of us, but only if your tenants continue to pay down your mortgages. That requires plenty of stewardship, including cost management. Knowing when to sell, and when to invest, is key. What is your plan to pay down debt? Do you plan to diversify to other investments?
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:33 AM   #5
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Welcome to posting!

I won't repeat the previous posters' points, which are good.

Congrats on the baby and getting her home! I think the 97% figure you cite as the "alleged" long-term NICU parent divorce rate is likely overstated. (Couldn't find a study on that just now, but given the stats in PTSD-oriented literature in this area, seems too high.) In any event, you and your DW (looks like you are the Dear Husband), seem to be addressing the situation properly; talk, talk, talk some more--and throw some hugs, backrubs, and more in.

DW and I did not do Real Estate, other than losing money on all of our houses so far. Some of the posters on this forum, however, have had long experience with it. If you are in a college town and the college is well-situated, you should be in a better position than most. To a certain extent, you are in a relatively high risk/reward situation. Maybe branch out with some rentals in your new town--if it is economically distinct from the old?
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Old 03-30-2017, 10:52 AM   #6
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Best wishes with the marriage and raising a "preemie." I'll defer to wiser folks on some of your inquiries. But on buying your freedom, get there ASAP. Freeing up your time to be available to your daughter (and your DW) will prove a value beyond measure.

Some retirement blogs you should peek at:

MMM (Mr. Money Mustache) - a lot of out of the box thinking on cutting expenses. I don't drink the Kool-Aid, but it helps me find numerous ways to chip away at frivolous but costly crap (ie, +$100 cell phone plans, cutting the cable, gym dues).

JL Collins NH - practical advise on investing (should you opt to diversify - and you should)

Can I Retire Yet - Similar to JLC above

Millennial Revolution - I don't agree with everything, but folks who retire in their thirties are walking the walk.

All of these sites are a trove of investing / spending / retirement knowledge with the added benefit of humor and sarcasm.

Good luck!
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Old 03-30-2017, 12:02 PM   #7
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We raised a preemie and it all worked out well. Welcome to the forum.
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Some quick replies and thank you's for people thus far
Old 03-30-2017, 12:55 PM   #8
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Some quick replies and thank you's for people thus far

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amethyst View Post
"*** I have about $2,500 in stocks. (Pauses for the crowd's laughter to die down). "

My first reaction is that nobody on this forum is remotely likely to mock you for not having a lot of funds in the bank or market. Particularly with that impressive RE portfolio! So there is one small thing not to worry you.
Amethyst, thank you for this, it does seem that the overall climate is warm and welcoming here. I'm already grateful for all the replies here on this post.


Quote:
Originally Posted by aja8888 View Post
We raised a preemie and it all worked out well. Welcome to the forum.
Ah, that is so good to hear, aja8888. And thanks for the welcome.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Red Badger View Post
Millennial Revolution - I don't agree with everything, but folks who retire in their thirties are walking the walk.
Excellent, I will check out this resource-- I have visited the others (MMM a good bit, JL C NH I will check out more now that you +1 it) but hadn't heard of this and it looks promising. Thanks Red Badger.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2017ish View Post
I think the 97% figure you cite as the "alleged" long-term NICU parent divorce rate is likely overstated. (Couldn't find a study on that just now, but given the stats in PTSD-oriented literature in this area, seems too high.)
It may be, I haven't verified. Our reference is from a book by Kayla Aimee called "Anchored" we read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 2017ish View Post
In any event, you and your DW (looks like you are the Dear Husband), seem to be addressing the situation properly; talk, talk, talk some more--and throw some hugs, backrubs, and more in.
2017ish, this is exactly the kind of advice that helps me right now in my marriage. And I do think that we are talking talking talking, and it's nice for someone to point out that this is exactly what we should be doing. Thank you so much! And jeez, finally I know what DH and DW actually mean, hah. Yes, I meant "DW"!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
I hope your little bundle of joy has overcome her alphabet soup of early challenges (RDS, PDA, IVH, BPD, ROP, etc etc) and is developing well. You know, of course, that even the healthiest babies born this early have increased risks of attention deficit disorder, squint and various other challenges, so the stressors may continue. The good news is that young people who were born very prematurely, when interviewed as teens, in general, tend to be quite positive about their lives and optimistic about their futures.
Ah! A neonatologist! I feel right at home now. Our daughter...She is a bundle of joy indeed. She did well on all of the tests you mentioned, but I have not heard of squint before. What is that? Anywhere you could point me to research it, or even just simple tips that I can keep an eye out for in her development?

Quote:
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I hope you and DW have good health insurance and the family and social support that you need. I'm curious why you felt the need to move. Does your little girl require regular health services not available in your former home?
This is good for me to think about. My wife and daughter are a part of a bill-sharing program. One of the drawbacks of my early entrepreneurial endeavors that I'm on my own for all benefits. Currently, my wife and daughter are a part of a bill-sharing program called Medishare. Fortunately, Medishare covered the $1.8 million bill (or whatever it was) for our 100+ day stay at the NICU.

You are helping me compile a list of things I can ask later on this post... gaps in my current situation, blind spots, etc.

Our social circle is growing, but we changed so much that I admit we are on the hunt for friends that we share more in common with now. We do have supportive family and they are only a few hours drive away.

Our daughter does not have an intensive ECD situation right now, we had some home visits early on, but she checked out well and we haven't had to do a lot since then other than some extra pediatric visits, and a follow up at an eye doc soon.

Also, I don't think that we really felt the "need" to move, more just a desire. I had wanted to move for a few years, but wanted to wait until the DW () really wanted to as well, rather than her doing it out of compulsion for me.


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Knowing when to sell, and when to invest, is key. What is your plan to pay down debt? Do you plan to diversify to other investments?
This is helpful. If I'm honest, it wasn't until recently that I even felt I wanted to pay down the debt. I wanted to run the portfolio like a big corporation would, continuing to cash-out refinance my way to heaven. I've somewhat blindly just pushed pushed pushed. I read a quote a year ago that included this phrase as a part of a point the author was making, "...lest you play the fool, who, uncertain of his direction... doubles his speed."

I'm trying to avoid that, and that's part of this post.

My plan was always to push hard until I hit 30, and then diversify. I'm a little less than 6-months from that deadline, and so this post is aptly timed to get some grey-hairs speaking into my plan.

What would you suggest, being a landlord yourself? I'll mention some things below that I would appreciate your thoughts on... specifically an idea I have.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Gotadimple View Post
How comfortable are you that your real estate portfolio will not tank: given the economy of the region where they are located? If you feel you have too much in one pot, then taking a profit on one and investing the assets in a balanced portfolio might be something to pursue.

You worry about selling any part of your portfolio too soon. There is no too soon, there is only too late.
My mind thinks I should be comfortable that the portfolio won't tank. Even 2008 - 2010 didn't affect this market much, it's 1/2 college students, which keeps rents and leases stable (the whole town requires each individual student to have a guaranty that is guaranteeing the lease "joint and several"... so everything is strong and there are a lot of rich parents backing the leases).

But my emotions are up and down. I feel like it could, I feel like a stock investor who is holding a stock that tripled in value... and doesn't want to miss out on the next 300% gain, but also doesn't want to lose his current gains.

I like your idea about selling one. Honestly, it's ideas like these that I need to consider. For some reason I keep thinking all or nothing, so I appreciate this idea. Thank you.

RE: "... there is only too late." --- love this. Memorable and helpful.

RE: SAN* and $50K---- I need to figure out what my SAN number is. The $50k as of now is just sort of an arbitrary number. Mortgages, escrowed, run me about $22,500 per month.

RE: "Jane Bryant Quinn" --- excellent, I have some reading to do!






For all of you, thanks again, and I'm going to ask some questions in a second that are specific, if you feel like contributing I appreciate it
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Old 03-30-2017, 12:56 PM   #9
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Some ideas of how I could re-allocate/deleverage:

1- Find an equity partner who would replace my “Private Debt” (20% of market value). Or multiple equity partners. Form a partnership, continue to own a sizable chunk of this portfolio, which would then be leveraged only at 64%.

Then get a job. Hopefully with a spectacular salary, limited hours, and excellent benefits.

Or jump into something entrepreneurial, but I think my family just needs cash flow more than anything else right now.


2- Same plan, except make this modification: instead of raising equity to simply replace my “Private Debt” >> raise another $200,000 and give up extra ownership in the partnership. Take that $200,000 and invest in a diversified portfolio.

Then, also get a job. Same applicable questions.


3- Does anyone have another idea for what I could do to dial down, deleverage, diversify?



Where the two ideas I mentioned above would land me:


- Significant tax bill. These assets have some accumulated depreciation. I can’t 1031 exchange to defer those taxes if I’m simply raising equity into a partnership.

- I would need to get a job. This is the scariest part for me. I’m not even sure my family is ready for it. The DW is used to me being around to help a lot with our daughter, and I’m personally used to being the boss of my own schedule (alongside the DW ).


Questions:

Anyone in their 30’s or 40’s have a work situation that they like?
I’m introverted, I value freedom, focus, quiet, flexibility, calmness, enjoyment, architecting, curiosity.
More secondary values: thoughtfulness, creativity, continuous improvement, exploration, fun, reflection.

Where could I go to work, make a decent wage, great benefits, flexibility and freedom? Or… What’s the closest thing to this that exists?
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:03 PM   #10
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Squint:

have eyes that look in different directions.
"Melanie did not squint"
synonyms: be cross-eyed, have a squint, suffer from strabismus
"he has squinted from birth"

https://patient.info/health/squint-s...us-in-children
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:08 PM   #11
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Squint:

have eyes that look in different directions.
"Melanie did not squint"
synonyms: be cross-eyed, have a squint, suffer from strabismus
"he has squinted from birth"

https://patient.info/health/squint-s...us-in-children
Gotcha-- she is getting checked out for that specifically here in about a month

Thank you
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:18 PM   #12
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Allegedly 97%+ of couples who have a long-term NICU stay like ours end up divorced, and while we don't judge divorcees at all, it's not what we want.
Can this possibly be true?

If it is, vaulting this obstacle is job #1 for you and your wife and your baby.
Other outcomes would be bad to very bad for some or all of you. Best of luck!

Ha
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:28 PM   #13
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Alright, first post here, please overlook the lack or misuse of abbreviations here... e.g. I think DH means ... spouse?
Actually, "DH" is "Darling Husband"
Check out this link for a list of the slang.


Quote:
Originally Posted by wandering View Post

The Bank Debt = about 64% of market value.
The Private Debt = another 20% of market value.

So... deep breaths... I'm 84% leveraged. I say deep breaths because, I feel a small pang of anxiety just typing that out. A year or two ago, I was probably at 94% , but the real estate market recently experienced some growth.
Well, got good news and bad news for you...

The bad news is you are 525% leveraged, you have leveraged your 16% up to 100%. Leverage is Debt/Equity (84/16=525%)

The good news is you were 1,566% leveraged!

You do not mention how old you are (being 30 is a lot different to being 60!), but personally I would not worry too much about the real estate leverage if you believe the value is stable or rising. I would consider adding more to other forms of investments for a while until you balance out your portfolio a bit. The good new is if you are 30, the rentals pay for themselves and you do not refi, when you are 60 you will have 4 million in property kicking off a nice cash flow!

Having a child make it though the NICU and moving on to new stages of life are a great achievement! Relax, don't push and move slowly and you will be fine.

Welcome aboard!
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Old 03-30-2017, 01:34 PM   #14
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Can this possibly be true?

If it is, vaulting this obstacle is job #1 for you and your wife and your baby.
Other outcomes would be bad to very bad for some or all of you. Best of luck!

Ha
I found a reference to it on the internet, but it was a writer quoting someone else, which places the statement in doubt. This study from the Netherlands (link below) showed that the divorce rate over 19 years doubled (26%) when the premature baby had a disability, compared to 14% when there was a premature baby without a disability. Of course, these data may not apply to the US, where the baseline divorce rate is higher. Perhaps the doubling of the rate became mythologized as urban legend (50% x 2 is 100%). But I searched and could find no recent US data. Certainly, my experience in Canada was that the majority of couples with tiny premature babies stayed together.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23777961
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:05 PM   #15
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Actually, "DH" is "Darling Husband"
Check out this link for a list of the slang.
Perfection-- I went and brushed up a bit. Some of those are pretty funny.

Can't wait for the 1st post I use "OMY" in...



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The good news is you were 1,566% leveraged!
Ha! Gotcha, and thanks-- I don't confuse people about my leverage, and it's nice to hear you don't think I'm way over leveraged.

Quote:
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You do not mention how old you are (being 30 is a lot different to being 60!), but personally I would not worry too much about the real estate leverage if you believe the value is stable or rising.
I'm 29, will be 30 in August.

I do rely heavily on the cash flow from the portfolio for our budget.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChiliPepr View Post
I would consider adding more to other forms of investments for a while until you balance out your portfolio a bit.
Definitely agree. It's tempting to keep buying more real estate but I need to stop and look at the big picture.

Would you take a look at the job-question I posted here and tell me what you think?

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Originally Posted by ChiliPepr View Post
Having a child make it though the NICU and moving on to new stages of life are a great achievement! Relax, don't push and move slowly and you will be fine.
Welcome aboard!
Thank you very much
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:07 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
I found a reference to it on the internet...Certainly, my experience in Canada was that the majority of couples with tiny premature babies stayed together.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23777961
The Canada experience is super encouraging. Maybe I just need to throw this 97% figure out of my head and tell my DW we're just not going to worry about other people.

Our marriage feels spectacular, with the associated challenges I mentioned earlier. But that statistic isn't doing much for us.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:12 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by haha View Post
Can this possibly be true?

If it is, vaulting this obstacle is job #1 for you and your wife and your baby.
Other outcomes would be bad to very bad for some or all of you. Best of luck!
I have made it center-stage for now. Modified work hours, spending a ton of time at home... it was an adjustment, but then again it's part of what I want out of early-retirement. Time with the family at home. So I'm enjoying it for the most part.

Also, extra date-nights, wine, movies, trying to spend lots of time talking talking talking with my wife... as 2017ish mentioned earlier.


Any other thoughts on this? I'm realizing the statistic we read in that book could be questionable, so we can move on from it if it's unreliable anyways.


Thank you again to everyone who's responded. It's fun talking to actual people instead of just browsing the web and searching for blog posts relevant to my situation. I've enjoyed hearing y'alls thoughts.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:21 PM   #18
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Maybe I just need to throw this 97% figure out of my head and tell my DW we're just not going to worry about other people.

Our marriage feels spectacular, with the associated challenges I mentioned earlier. But that statistic isn't doing much for us.
Exactly. Sounds like you are a strong team. Focus on keeping that up! Also, remember that the number one financial obstacle to early retirement is divorce. Right, forum?
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:23 PM   #19
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Hello and welcome. I'm a long-time lurker but had to register to reply - specifically about your preemie daughter. Best wishes to you there.

My DD was a 27 weeker (and did it to share my birthday). That was very long ago but it was such a lprofound experience that I feel I remember much of it as if it were yesterday. (Add RSV to the alphabet soup in her case.) At least we were home so all those NICU (and later PICU) visits were pretty easy.

I'm sure medical interventions are so much better now than they were back then (almost 28 years ago) and I hope everything is fine for your DD. Our DD did have learning disabilities (mild enough that it wasn't diagnosed until 6th grade, though I knew she was struggling with reading even if the school didn't). Maybe she still does have them but she learned to cope. We tried meds to no avail and did lots of tutoring, special classes, etc. Middle school and even high school were rough until she figured it out. Sometimes my heart broke to see how hard things were for her and how other kids were to her and how her self-esteem cratered. I'm the mother and by the time she was 10, I backed off work to part time to do more with my kids. Never give up - you are in it for the long haul.

She's now in a Ph. D. program (social work but way paid - no loans needed) and thriving. Thriving! When I look at her and I look at her brother I think that an easy early life (his) isn't as valuable as a rougher one (hers). She was also uncoordinated - another thing they predicted on day 1 - but after she found out one leg was half inch shorter than the other and got a orthotic, she became quite a runner.
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Old 03-30-2017, 02:32 PM   #20
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Maybe the divorce rate is high for that group because of who has preemies. They might be the same group that has high divorce rates in general. In our case - no divorce, but we were older than the usual parents of preemies and different socio-economic class. In fact we were the age of the grandparents of most of the preemies (and both Ph. D. scientists).

We never doubted we could care for her. In fact she was on oxygen at home until about age 3. We weighed her 4x/day and measured fluids in and weighed diapers and did pulse-ox measurements. And got her up every night for an extra feeding until she was ~3. And it was our life for a long time. And we're so lucky to have her and in a way I'm glad it was so intense. She's my daughter and I'm so glad/lucky for it.

Another thing that helped in our case - my DH had quit his job to start a consulting business less than a month before she was born. So he worked out of the house while we hired a nanny to watch the kids. But he was always there.
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