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Old 11-05-2014, 12:59 AM   #1
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Howdy folks

Hi, just found this site in the last two weeks and have been lurking, figured I'd add a login I'm 39, married (46), and have two kiddos (9, 6). Just starting to think more seriously and learn about this early-retirement concept. Wife and I fortunate to have sizable mid-100k salaries each and have been maxing 401ks for a bit now - about 625k combined now in Fidelity with a fairly aggressive allocation, just opened our first 10k with Vanguard for taxable investing in VTSAX, and have been doing 529's for the kiddos. After learning about various fund fees, I was pleased to see the Fidelity auto-tune-by-age has me in mostly low-cost Vanguard funds. Also just realized the investing benefits of our HSAs, have us both dialed up to max for next year, and sent my first 1k into a lowish cost Schwab S&P 500 index fund. Its exciting starting to put our money to work for us, instead of wasting it at Target...

Speaking of which, we're fighting the inflationary lifestyle monster. Though we have bounced credit card & auto loan debt free and are ostensibly committing to stay that way, I'm realizing that my spouse isn't on the same page (chapter?) yet... but looks like she'll play ball. We do have 480k left in our recent "dream house" purchase on a 3.75 30-year, but have learned how paying down that mortgage is one of our lower pri's. We're starting to see the light and ratchet down expenses to enable saving more, but it'll be a journey. Recently funded a switch over to LEDs for all of our frequently used lights in the house and am seeing real elect bill drops!

Really inspired by the stories and advice I'm seeing here and at similar sites - please keep it up! For as many great successes there are here, there's likely 100s or 1000s more out there not aware & tuned in to the importance of saving. Thanks!

PS - I read the rules of engagement for the "Hi, I am..." threads after posting; apologies for the non-descriptive subject line!
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:59 AM   #2
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Welcome growerVon! You're on the right path. ER starts with a good plan. See Firecalc link at the bottom of each web page for a great retirement calculator. And here's a link to list of retirement questions. Some Important Questions to Answer Before Asking - Can I Retire?

Good luck in your journey to FIRE
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:48 AM   #3
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Hi, welcome to the site. I've mostly been lurking while I track expenses and get a better understanding of where I stand, but this site has a lot of useful information and helpful people.
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Old 11-05-2014, 10:41 AM   #4
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Welcome growerVon!

There are quite a few threads around where people have discussed how they work through situations where they and their spouse don't see eye to eye on spending - suggest browsing through the FIRE and Money forum for them.

And of course, feel free to ask your own questions - we're a friendly bunch and you'll generally get a diversity of opinions on just about anything!

I have been debating about the LEDs and two light bulbs (CFLs) just burned out this morning so I think I'll replace all of the bulbs in that room with LEDs as a start. Thanks for the tip.
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About those LED bulbs
Old 11-05-2014, 05:46 PM   #5
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About those LED bulbs

Quote:
Originally Posted by MBAustin View Post
Welcome growerVon!

There are quite a few threads around where people have discussed how they work through situations where they and their spouse don't see eye to eye on spending - suggest browsing through the FIRE and Money forum for them.

And of course, feel free to ask your own questions - we're a friendly bunch and you'll generally get a diversity of opinions on just about anything!

I have been debating about the LEDs and two light bulbs (CFLs) just burned out this morning so I think I'll replace all of the bulbs in that room with LEDs as a start. Thanks for the tip.
Thanks, Ronstar, Katiek and MBAustin.

MB, a note on LEDs. Check out the user reviews at a major home store retailer, because some manufacturers & bulb variations have issues that you want to be aware of before buying. Common issues include audible buzzing/hums and light that is too bright. What is worked for my crew are 40w regular bulb replacements (found the 60w replacements hummed noticeably and were quite bright) and 65w replacement interior floods. Some have issues with dimmers, so it is worth it to read up first and then buy in small batches until you're confident in the bulb variation & manufacturer. Cheers!
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Old 11-05-2014, 07:15 PM   #6
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Welcome!

It is indeed a journey. And your & DW's resolve will grow as you realize what FI can really mean for you.

Recording all our expenses really helped us. Just the act of recording and reviewing the expenses led to our questioning the value of some of them & actually increasing spend in other areas. Dominguez's Your Money of Your Life has a good discussion on this.

Another tactic that helped us - once we started recording expenses - was to aggressively go after any monthly expense (cell phones, insurance, utilities, cable etc.). You'll find that, in many cases, you can get more or less the same service with less cost - or, you find that you're not really using the service enough to pay for it. Bargain with the providers. Threaten to go to competitors.

Check out the mr. money moustache site for ideas.

All the best.
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Old 11-05-2014, 09:07 PM   #7
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Welcome growerVon.
I found the expense of switching to LEDs was lessened by waiting for sales to purchase them. I replaced the heavily used lights first - and left CFLs in the less frequently used lamps/lights... as the CFLs die out - or usage increases, we're swapping them out for LEDs.

We saw a huge drop in the power bill when we switched to CFL several years ago. The change from CFL to LED wasn't quite as dramatic - but still a nice savings.
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Old 05-06-2015, 11:57 PM   #8
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6 month update

Its been an educational stretch since I first posted. Here a some things I've been up to:
Learned about tax-advantaged asset allocation
Read Bogleheads guide to Investing, almost done with guide to Retirement
Set up my uber tracking spreadsheet
Have DW and I max'ing our 401ks, HSAs, and keeping to the 2k/mo into taxable
Figured out my megacorp's 401k has the mega backdoor Roth IRA feature and am about to do my first in-service distribution of after-tax contributions into a Roth IRA
Realized DW and I need to be doing "normal" Roth backdoors and will do that in Sept/Oct (bonus season at mega)
Progress with reducing our expenses; just seeing where the spend is at has resulted in DW becoming more conscious and we're poised to hit Sept with little to no credit card debt - something we haven't done in years

Even DS is getting in the game and wants to get into a fund with his savings. I have another thread on that which I'll update later this year after we've pulled the trigger.

Stats (delta from last)
401ks - 700k (+75k)
Roth IRAs - 17k (flat)
HSAs - 5.3k (+3k)
Taxable - 26k (+16k)
Magic number - 3mil-ish

Something else that is worth mention: I think I'm starting to emerge from that early stage of FI/RE obsession; I still track near-daily but don't take the highs and lows of the daily markets quite as much to heart as I did in the start. It is a long road DW and I are on and we're happy with the awareness and path ahead. Cheers!
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Old 05-07-2015, 11:01 AM   #9
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Nice update, growerVon! Glad to hear you are making progress on spending and relaxing a bit about Mr. Market's ups and downs. You're right that this is a marathon, not a sprint!
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Old 05-07-2015, 12:42 PM   #10
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Thanks for the update! You mention that DW is getting more active in the saving area - is she also active in the investment area? I find the more involved I am in establishing savings and life goals, the easier it is for me to commit to the plan. It's one thing to say "lets save as much as we can" but it's easier to understand "If we save xxxx dollars per year, we can retire in yyy years" or "if we save xxx dollars per year, we'll be financially independent in wwww years"
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Old 05-09-2015, 09:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katiek View Post
Thanks for the update! You mention that DW is getting more active in the saving area - is she also active in the investment area? I find the more involved I am in establishing savings and life goals, the easier it is for me to commit to the plan. It's one thing to say "lets save as much as we can" but it's easier to understand "If we save xxxx dollars per year, we can retire in yyy years" or "if we save xxx dollars per year, we'll be financially independent in wwww years"
Thanks for asking, KatieK. DW is at a different place than I wrt interest in retirement planning and possibly even at being realistic about how money & life work... or at least at admitting to it. She'll stress and fume about her job, worry about layoffs & re-orgs, profess to wanting to be laid off & get a package, yet is averse to looking into any of the details with me. She says she appreciates what I'm doing and is "so glad I'm looking out for us", but also chafes at the awareness to budget and being planful with purchases.

Being professionals when we met, we kept separate accounts with shared joint accts for savings & joint-costs. There is a lot of fat in her side of the "budget" that I see indirectly and found when we did some calculating for our actual 2014 spends. The tactic I've taken is to make sure she & I both "pay ourselves" in joint checking, taxable, and 401ks/HSAs and leave what remains in our own checking accts for us to do with as we will & need - we each have responsibilities in the household costs that are about equal. Picking my battles, so to speak. She frequently is short because she is still carrying a high COL (spa, clothes/shoes, breakfast & lunches, eating out, etc) so seeks a bailout or puts things on the CC out of lack of planning. We've even had to acquiesce that this year she won't be investing much if any of her HSA money b/c she didn't really do anything to build a buffer for her HI deductible - my bad, too, on that one b/c I should have predicted it and built it into our "pre-paids" for the year. For next year I will.

In other areas, she plays ball very well: maxes 401k and we pool our annual bonuses & stock awards and allocate them to areas we both agree on (initially proposed by me but signed off by both of us). But there is no doubt I'm driving the bus here. I shrug off the flak I get from her and the kids - I can't blame them b/c I was part of our high COL lifestyle enablement for these preceding years, and they seem to get the core truth of LBYM and like being able to joke about how cheap I've become. A ship can't be easily turned 180 and it takes time, so I'm doing a crawl-walk-run with my family and making sure the core amounts I want us building are happening. The youngest, DS, is the most onboard and DW & DD are slowly coming around. Another way to think of our situation is that it is ME who has recently changed (it is true) with this LBYM "crap" so I'm tempering my expectations & picking battles, while continuing to appreciate & cultivate the "special flowers" of the family I have
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Old 05-10-2015, 07:54 PM   #12
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It's hard to balance between motivating family and coming across as not caring about the goals and priorities of other people in the family. It sounds like you're doing a good job of establishing financial priorities that will create a solid base for FIRE and respecting the choices of your family. Sometimes you need some splurges to keep motivated for long term financial goals.

And the more you can keep them focused on the end result of the sacrifices and the freedom it will give you both, the easier it may be for them to see the value of the sacrifices.
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Old 05-10-2015, 09:53 PM   #13
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Read. Study. Read. Study. Repeat.

That way you won't make the same idiotic mistakes people like me did for far too long. I'd have more than a few extra $100K laying around if I'd found this advice years ago. Eventually I did find it, and retire in just 4 days as a result.
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Old 05-11-2015, 09:28 AM   #14
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Congrats, Options!
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Old 11-07-2015, 10:15 PM   #15
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1 year update

Chugging along. As mentioned at my 6-month update, definitely mellowing on my intensity of tracking & reacting to investment progress... August & September were a good learning experience and gut check on how I handle the turbulence now that I'm paying attention. I'm also continuing to learn and find the space quite interesting. Enjoying the personalities, conversations, and insights from everyone here!

Retirement Investment Stats (delta from last update)
401ks - 713k (+13k)
Roth IRAs - 23k (+6k)
HSAs - 8k (+3k)
Taxable - 37k (+11k)
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Old 11-08-2015, 12:16 AM   #16
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Just found your post. Sounds to me like you're well on your way! Keep up all the hard work!
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Old 11-08-2015, 07:43 AM   #17
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Keep up the good work. There was a point in time that if money hit my checking account then it was spent. So I put mechanisms in place to "pay myself first" with savings deducted from my paycheck and that helped a lot. Over time, LBYM became more entrenched in our day-to-day lifestyle and now it is just second nature.
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Old 11-08-2015, 08:02 AM   #18
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Very nice progress! Is DW more or less on same page? Sometime seeing the graph move up helps

Sent from my HTC One_M8 using Early Retirement Forum mobile app
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Old 11-08-2015, 09:46 AM   #19
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Thanks for the update, I especially enjoy reading about the ongoing progress. Glad to hear you're still on track for FI and that you're laying a solid foundation for your family's success.
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