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Hello!!! 33yrs old and not a clue in North NJ
Old 04-19-2014, 06:23 AM   #1
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Hello!!! 33yrs old and not a clue in North NJ

Hi I'm new to this site and forums. A buddy of mine told me about ER a few years ago but just like my own retirement plans I put it off for much too long.

I am currently married with one child and one on the way (any day now). We have a house that we purchased in 2010. we both have 401ks with our jobs about 35K in total. We have about 10k saved but no way near the amount we would need for emergencies.

I personally have over 65K in debt between student loans (from grad school) and CC's. We currently net 120K per year and our living expenses have varied between 90 to 110 per year.

Being that there are so many areas that I need to address, I realize that nothing is too impossible and I'm looking for advice, threads and any links on how I can ramp up plans for retirement, start college planning for my two little ones and any ways that I could invest.

We are looking to relocate from north jersey to somewhere in the south for a potential for lower cost of living. However we also realize that we need to further game plan out personal finances or we will wind up in the same position in our new locations. Your guidance is greatly appreciated!!!

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Old 04-19-2014, 08:04 AM   #2
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Welcome to ER! Spend some time reading here and you'll learn plenty in a hurry. The first item of business for you is to beef up your emergency fund. Next, knock out the CC debt first and then go after the student loan debt. Looks like you have $10-20k per year to apply toward debt payment and then savings. If you haven't done so already, put together a budget with cash flow so you can see exactly where your money is going. This will help you eliminate wasteful spending and free up more cash for debt payment and savings.

Good luck to you and your family!

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Old 04-19-2014, 10:28 AM   #3
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Welcome! I think the best jumping off point is the Bogleheads Wiki. Even if you elect another investment strategy, the points they make about reducing expenses, increasing savings, emergency funds, etc. are good for everyone.


Start with the "Getting Started" link.
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Old 04-19-2014, 02:56 PM   #4
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Step 1 is to put together a budget - list all of your expenses and figure out what you can cut out. I bet you can trim 20% easily if you're willing to make sacrifices.

Also when you say you "net" 120k/year, do you truly mean net after taxes, or do you really mean gross, before taxes?

Finally - congrats on taking control of the situation and asking questions. That alone will make a huge difference if you put good advice into action.
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Old 04-19-2014, 10:25 PM   #5
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Welcome Robby! You sound overwhelmed - but remember, the only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

Take a long view of prioritizing saving for retirement and reducing debt. Assuming the CCs are high interest that should be a top priority. Building more of an emergency fund is a close second. Until you can knock down those two limit your 401k savings to what you need to save to maximize any match.

Backburner college savings for now. Time will come for that later.

Do a through budget of income, taxes, expenses debt reduction and savings so you can set realistic goals of when to have the CC debt paid off and the emergency fund built up.
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:03 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by RobbyMcd View Post
.... We currently net 120K per year and our living expenses have varied between 90 to 110 per year. ...
Hi Rob,
As others have said, develop a budget. I'll go a bit further: you're spending too much! (Sorry, if this sounds harsh). Closely examine needs vs wants. Until you get rid of the CC debt forget about new cars, vacations, and other luxuries (Starbucks, premium TV channels, expensive nights out, etc). Google 'how to cut monthly expenses'. Good luck!
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:31 AM   #7
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Robby - It's great that you are interested in planning your financial future.

I think you would benefit by reading some of the articles here - Mr. Money Mustache

It's a website by a guy who advocates a much simpler, less consumer driven lifestyle and how that money freedom brings happiness and a much earlier retirement. There are thousands who follow him and there's a very active forum of like minded people.
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:23 AM   #8
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We lived in NJ during our working years and the first few years of ER.

The advantage of working there is the abundance of jobs and the relatively high salaries. Moving to a lower CoL area may result in lower salaries as well. We felt that we were well served by working & saving in NJ and then moving to a lower CoL area.

I second the Mr Money Mustache suggestion. He can be an opinionated windbag sometimes, but read it and take what works for you.

All the best.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:34 AM   #9
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Welcome Robby…You're only 33 so do not worry too much about what you should've/could've done. You've lots of time ahead of you to steer ER in right direction. First step is to be debt free. CC, Car and Student loan must be paid asap. 90-110K expense is too much…downsize and LBYM. As your career picks up in future, you may be able to buy a nice house again but goal for now should be to save as much as possible. Two kids…keep in mind that 529 plan after you pay of your debt. My daughter is entering PharmD college this fall and I'll have to pay the full cost(26K in state college near my home). Not even a merit scholarship of any kind after getting 2170 in SAT…how weird is that
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Old 04-25-2014, 08:50 PM   #10
Confused about dryer sheets
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Thank you all for the great advice and info!!!
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Old 04-26-2014, 07:12 AM   #11
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Robby; in addition to setting up a budget, I suggest that you start tracking your expenses in detail. You could use a program or a website like, but I prefer to do it myself on an excel spreadsheet. There is something about reviewing your checking account transactions and credit card transactions in detail monthly that helps you to understand where all of the money is going. I'd also suggest you check out Dave Ramsey's radio show and archive podcasts. His philosophy on debt reduction and wealth building is empowering and motivating.

Also start reading personal finance books and blogs. Try "Get Rich Slowly". With some luck, you'll become addicted to the cause and it will become easier.

One final suggestion-bring your wife on board for this journey. If you aren't both of the same mind, it will become more difficult.

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