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Old 07-08-2008, 09:33 AM   #41
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The take out thing often isn't very healthy and is expensive. You might consider taking some time to make up a bunch of pre-made food and freeze it. Soups can freeze well. Greg makes huge batches of pea soup and veggie soup and freezes some and it tastes great. Lasagna and spaghetti meals freeze well too.
I can sympathize with OP. His kids are younger than mine, but I have been down that VERY TIRING long road. For a few years, it seems your kids consume every ounce of energy, you get little sleep, etc. It makes you throw in the towel because after a long crappy day at work, the last thing you want to do is put an apron on and make 5 meals of spaghetti.........

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Chop up veggies and keep them in the fridge and eat on them all the time.
I started doing this a couple years ago, works great. In order to get my kids to eat celery, I had to "cheat" and put peanut butter on it. Oh well, I guess that Oprah appearance isn't coming soon..........

Oh, I am jealous of your spa tub.[/quote]
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:33 AM   #42
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Oh, I am jealous of your spa tub.
Don't be. Consider how much it would cost you to keep the contents liquid year round.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:37 AM   #43
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Sandiego sounds nice. Maybe we can come down in our RV, live in their driveway, and cook for the Laurences.
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:53 AM   #44
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Take out taxes out of 170k, and I assume it is, including CA state taxes, federal taxes, social security, property taxes, etc., down to aruond 110-120k... thus 22% or 37k of 110-120k is actually more like 32-36%, which is very good on most metrics. We are as a group, however, perfectionists. There is no need, no matter how well you are doing, to not want tos trive to be better. Know that you are actually doing pretty well, but keep trying to minimize costs on the credit card and eating out, there are always creative ways to save money that adds up over time.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:23 AM   #45
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Sandiego sounds nice. Maybe we can come down in our RV, live in their driveway, and cook for the Laurences.
The heck with the Laurences, let us know if you're interested in taking your show to Hawaii!

Now that you mention it, during our kid's toddler years in San Diego I remember an awful lot of dinners of frozen pizza, spaghetti with canned sauce, or leftover BBQ burgers... only because it seemed less difficult to haul my butt into the kitchen to reheat in the microwave than to wait 30 minutes for DiMille's to deliver Italian to Kensington.

So Laurence, maybe half the solution is to cook an extra 50-100% on the nights you guys do cook. But you're probably doing that already.

Another entertaining idea might be to get SDG&E and the water company out to your house for audits. They used to give away a lot of CFL bulbs and low-flow showerheads (we still have our free bucket!) and they might be able to kick loose $50-$75/month. Half the fun for the kids, though, is following the guys around the house while they work through the checklist.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:27 AM   #46
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The heck with the Laurences, let us know if you're interested in taking your show to Hawaii!
It might be kind of expensive to ship the RV to Hawaii.
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Old 07-08-2008, 12:06 PM   #47
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Sandiego sounds nice. Maybe we can come down in our RV, live in their driveway, and cook for the Laurences.
Sounds great! We'll try it out on a trial basis - after ten years we'll re-evaluate!

Take out isn't healthy, and we've put some weight on since the second was born. We've been trying to work on that, and have done a few things to improve the snacking. We were throwing out a lot of rotting fruits and veggies and found these green bags that keep them fresh. Now we hardly throw anything out as they stay good enough to eat for quite a long time.

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Sorry, this is not going to be a "feel-good" response. You are basically leaving free money on the table that you should be scooping into your pockets..

No need to apologize, I'm trying to get a reality check, definitely. You mention the low cost mortgage - I have a dirty little secret, we have a small HELOC that gyrates wildly on it's interest rate (o.k., it's pegged to Bernake but all signs point "up"). We are paying that off (17k left) and then we have a decision to make. While I understand that in the long term I can beat the 5.125% that I'm paying on the mortgage, it's still a big mandatory payment - almost $2,000 a month (20 year fixed). Our aggresive plan to pay it off has us debt free at 43 years of age, which will afford us some measure of FIRE sooner rather than later. I'm really torn by this one. Right now I just take all the matching they give me, and we max DW's SEP IRA. We are on track to pay off the HELOC in a year, then we'll need to make a decision.

I think what I will do is creep up the 401k contribution and see what happens. I suspect we won't miss the money.
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Old 07-08-2008, 12:41 PM   #48
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I guess I'm in the same boat. My gov't salary is over $100K less, but I never had a budget. DW and I are pretty frugal, but don't spare the toys and occasional splurges (like $400 to build a new PC).

DD is 2.5 so I expect expenses to increase with her age, but so far been able to hold the line shopping at consignment stores for baby clothing. Shoes are going to be a problem tho! Hard to find shoes of intermediate size.

I'm sure I could do better saving. Currently 18% into my TSP/401K, but have a COLA'd pension already in the bag (starting at age 60) and working on federal pension each year I stay.

I'm trying to slowly increase automatic contributions ($50 a month to Vanguard ROTH) and TSP each time I get a raise. Also doing the debt snowball to erase my last car payment, leaving only mortgage debt.

I think the secret is to pay yourself first thru automatic contributions and only spend what's left!
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Old 07-08-2008, 01:16 PM   #49
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It might be kind of expensive to ship the RV to Hawaii.
Nah, she just has to pay the toll at the Long Beach Tunnel.

I have the the same response if you offer to ship you and your RV out here with the homebrew equipment-- it's worth it!

Of course you'd have to be in front of your Bloomberg by 3 AM for the market open. But it's a lot easier out here to catch the Tokyo open.

Spouse and I enjoy preparing meals about as much as a sanitation engineer enjoys pumping septic tanks.
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Old 07-08-2008, 02:04 PM   #50
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When I was a working mother I used the crock pot a lot . I just put all the ingredients in the night before , plugged it in in the morning and came home to dinner . It's much more relaxing to come home to a ready to go meal . I 'd also put chicken in the oven the minute I got in the door and then I had time to chill out while it cooked or a quick stir fry is good . The trick is to have a bunch of quick easy recipes so you will not be tempted by take out .
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:05 PM   #51
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One more thing, your income appears to be on the cusp of losing some important tax benefits such as the ability to contribute to Roth IRAs and qualifying for the child tax credit. You can reduce your AGI by contributing more to your pre-tax retirement plans and that can keep that child-tax credit going into your bank account. But you have to plan ahead.

PS: it's very easy to eat very healthily with only take-out - after all you are in southern california. Maybe northern folks don't realize how healthy the california life-style can be.
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:08 PM   #52
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Take out isn't healthy, and we've put some weight on since the second was born. We've been trying to work on that, and have done a few things to improve the snacking. We were throwing out a lot of rotting fruits and veggies and found these green bags that keep them fresh. Now we hardly throw anything out as they stay good enough to eat for quite a long time.
I'm in San Diego as well with a similar income and very similar toys, but no kids. I'm sure that helps us a lot, but eating out is still one of the expenses that creeps up on us every once in a while. I track and categorize everything we spend (although we have "allowance" for some eating out and going out).

I can see the months where we don't put any meals on the card vs the ones where we're charging dinner 3 or more times a week. Once you look at that 100s or 1000s a month in eating out with only weight gain to show for it, it really gives you some incentive to tighten up.

We're also very careful about spending our money. I really do want that new BBQ, but my old one does have a few more years in it, and we can wait. The wii - we were waiting in line the day it came out. It's all about priorities. I was wondering about those green bags - hadn't bought them cause I didn't know if they'd be worth it, but it sounds like they might. Had some rotten bananas this morning.
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:11 PM   #53
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My mom did a lot of cooking one Saturday a month. Everything went into the freezer to be pulled out during the rest of the month. Of course, freezer clean-out day was never fun. If it looked like it might work, it went in the pot. We called it garbage soup. Sometimes it tasted good, sometimes it needed salt.
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Old 07-08-2008, 03:28 PM   #54
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We were throwing out a lot of rotting fruits and veggies and found these green bags that keep them fresh. Now we hardly throw anything out as they stay good enough to eat for quite a long time.
Would you point me in the direction of those bags? We also throw away too much fruit sometimes and I would love to find a way to reduce that.

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While I understand that in the long term I can beat the 5.125% that I'm paying on the mortgage, it's still a big mandatory payment - almost $2,000 a month (20 year fixed). Our aggresive plan to pay it off has us debt free at 43 years of age, which will afford us some measure of FIRE sooner rather than later. I'm really torn by this one.
Yeah I have struggled with the same question. After maxing out tax-favored retirement plans, I always seem to end up just splitting the difference between additional savings and paying down debt like the mortgage.
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Old 07-08-2008, 04:21 PM   #55
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One more thing, your income appears to be on the cusp of losing some important tax benefits such as the ability to contribute to Roth IRAs and qualifying for the child tax credit. You can reduce your AGI by contributing more to your pre-tax retirement plans and that can keep that child-tax credit going into your bank account. But you have to plan ahead.

PS: it's very easy to eat very healthily with only take-out - after all you are in southern california. Maybe northern folks don't realize how healthy the california life-style can be.

That's right, our tax preparer (step-mom) warned us of that, that's it, I'm upping the 401k

Lusitan:
https://www.greenbags.com/?cid=402572

p.s. they seem to work more than the advertised 10 times. Now we can let fruit really sweeten! Wal Mart and Costco are both carrying it now in my neck of the woods.
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Old 07-08-2008, 07:19 PM   #56
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I would be happy with the 22% if I could live in San Diego. I would love to tell you about my higher savings rate in Dec-Feb

I wouldn't sweat the savings rate - remember this board is full of Michael Jordan caliber players. And in some cases, I bet a few had 20-25% savings rates and along came that little bull market.
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Old 07-08-2008, 08:14 PM   #57
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Hi laurencewill,

i've read just a couple of the responses (and will be back to read all 'cause this is a great thread) but just wanted to say... I think you have got to be one of the richest persons on this board.
I don't mean it in a trite way. Or patronizing manner. But I've read your posts for quite awhile now.
I always hear a joyful living of life in your posts, which are full of tidbits of friends, colleagues, neighbors.
Man, you are rich rich rich.
One day the currency stuff will catch up with your goals.
Until then, your life is fuller than lots of millionaires I know (I don't know any billionaires, but I would guess them too). Take cheer!
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:03 PM   #58
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I would be happy with the 22% if I could live in San Diego. I would love to tell you about my higher savings rate in Dec-Feb
No kidding... I'm saving more than that, but I lost the "boys" to frostbite the last time it plunged to -50F with the wind chill. Turns out that your tongue isn't the only thing you should stick to a flagpole in February.

(yes, I'm kidding)
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Old 07-08-2008, 09:48 PM   #59
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I am in the same boat. I'm 37, live in NJ. We make 230k gross and I'm struggling to save 25%. 600k fixer upper with roughly 85k poured into it already in improvements. Sure it's a nice house in a very nice area and yes those translate to increased value for the house but what will it return long term as opposed to a mutual fund I cant say.


*sigh*

I'm trying to tell myself that 25% plus the home principle per year is not bad. Sometimes I'm not very convincing.
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Old 07-08-2008, 10:47 PM   #60
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Hi laurencewill,

i've read just a couple of the responses (and will be back to read all 'cause this is a great thread) but just wanted to say... I think you have got to be one of the richest persons on this board.
I don't mean it in a trite way. Or patronizing manner. But I've read your posts for quite awhile now.
I always hear a joyful living of life in your posts, which are full of tidbits of friends, colleagues, neighbors.
Man, you are rich rich rich.
One day the currency stuff will catch up with your goals.
Until then, your life is fuller than lots of millionaires I know (I don't know any billionaires, but I would guess them too). Take cheer!
Well thank you! We are definitely rich in the things that matter, part of my motivation to FIRE is to spend more time with the family and friends around me I can't spend time with when I'm at work.
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