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Old 09-21-2016, 08:55 PM   #121
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That's funny. I think I remember Clark talking about your story on his podcast .

You should do a segment with Clark Howard about traveling to Europe on a budget with kids.

Clark Howard has discussed this whole movement or fad that's popular with The millennial generation of working just 10 years and saving 50% of that income and retiring early hoping that Vanguard will take you to the promise land.
That would be interesting. I might be doing a local news segment on budget travel / travel hacking (3 weeks road trip for $1000). Not sure I can swing Europe on a budget, nor am I sure I want to or need to. I am salivating over some of the cheaper budget destinations in Europe, but lower cost of living areas are just one consideration.

In the context of this thread, I'm happy with the level of budget we have that enables us to travel just about anywhere for basically the whole summer. If I were still working full time to fund a higher level of spending, no amount of money would allow me to spend the entire summer on vacation (assuming I didn't quit my job). Our main constraints right now are the kids' school schedule and not wanting to spend 21 hours on a plane or deal with really hot climates (so no SE Asia for us right now ).
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Old 09-22-2016, 04:35 AM   #122
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Not answering your question exactly because not FIRE'd yet...but...

We budget in two buckets. Needs and wants. Let me make up some numbers for example and show how things WOULD work for us...

Assume needs are $30k/year
Assume wants are $20k/year
Assume our "target" growth on our portfolio is 5%, and we have $1M...so we'd get $50k/year

In mid 2016 we would sit down and plan for 2017
We would budget $50k/year for 2017 and move the $50k in early 2017
Spend the $50k as planned throughout the year

In mid 2017, compare actual return (from mid 2016 to mid 2017) vs. the 5% growth target. Let's assume it was only 3.6%, or about $34k on the $950k remaining. Then we only plan to spend $4k on "wants" and the other $30k on needs.

Repeat annually.

If the growth exceeds the target, we have a choice of building a cushion by leaving it in, or spending more. Of course the risk is what happens if the growth is less than what's needed to meet "needs"...in that case we would skip vacations/fun until things recover. It's not as bad as it seems...as our "ratio" of wants to needs is higher than I've shown above. It will be rare that in any given year we have to completely forego any "wants"
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Old 09-22-2016, 07:53 AM   #123
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That would be interesting. I might be doing a local news segment on budget travel / travel hacking (3 weeks road trip for $1000). Not sure I can swing Europe on a budget, nor am I sure I want to or need to. I am salivating over some of the cheaper budget destinations in Europe, but lower cost of living areas are just one consideration.

In the context of this thread, I'm happy with the level of budget we have that enables us to travel just about anywhere for basically the whole summer. If I were still working full time to fund a higher level of spending, no amount of money would allow me to spend the entire summer on vacation (assuming I didn't quit my job). Our main constraints right now are the kids' school schedule and not wanting to spend 21 hours on a plane or deal with really hot climates (so no SE Asia for us right now ).
I can almost guarantee he would like to interview you. Last Christmas, I did some work with his charity (Clark's Kids) and had the opportunity to chat with him for a little while. Of course the subject of frugality and early retirement came up and he was interested in doing an interview with me. Since I do value my privacy (and I don't think my story is that remarkable) I politely declined.

Or maybe not. Since you are clearly a FERB and not REALLY retired.
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Old 09-22-2016, 08:19 AM   #124
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I'm 55 and three years into retirement. I was earning $140k when I retired, but juts spending $40k a year. I get a $20k pension and $20k from rent so my retirement lifestyle is similar to when I was working.
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Old 09-22-2016, 10:31 AM   #125
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That would be interesting. I might be doing a local news segment on budget travel / travel hacking (3 weeks road trip for $1000). Not sure I can swing Europe on a budget, nor am I sure I want to or need to. I am salivating over some of the cheaper budget destinations in Europe, but lower cost of living areas are just one consideration.

In the context of this thread, I'm happy with the level of budget we have that enables us to travel just about anywhere for basically the whole summer. If I were still working full time to fund a higher level of spending, no amount of money would allow me to spend the entire summer on vacation (assuming I didn't quit my job). Our main constraints right now are the kids' school schedule and not wanting to spend 21 hours on a plane or deal with really hot climates (so no SE Asia for us right now ).
I was under the impression that your lifestyle requires a budget?

If you are able to travel just about anywhere for three months with a family of five you must have a pretty large travel budget ?
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Old 09-22-2016, 10:36 AM   #126
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I can almost guarantee he would like to interview you. Last Christmas, I did some work with his charity (Clark's Kids) and had the opportunity to chat with him for a little while. Of course the subject of frugality and early retirement came up and he was interested in doing an interview with me. Since I do value my privacy (and I don't think my story is that remarkable) I politely declined.

Or maybe not. Since you are clearly a FERB and not REALLY retired.
It is interesting when Clark Howard talks about the Mr. Money mustache crowd.

Clark Howard totally gets it and understands the lifestyle but you can hear it in his voice that he knows his audience for the most part isn't going to be able to do it
So he's very careful when he talks about it,it's kind of interesting.

You can hear the skepticism in his voice but obviously Clark Howard knows it can be done.
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:15 AM   #127
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I was under the impression that your lifestyle requires a budget?

If you are able to travel just about anywhere for three months with a family of five you must have a pretty large travel budget ?
The travel budget is $10,000 right now but we have flexibility to move more funds to that line item in most years. Add in a good bit of travel hacking and think of that as $15000 to $25000 if you want. And we can't handle 3 full months. School gets out mid-June and starts back at the end of August but we also want a week or two of free time before/after school starts. So think 8-9 weeks max.

I think ~$1500-2000/wk is plenty to travel to just about anywhere in the world assuming we're doing our typical slow travel (1+ week in most places; local transit, cook some meals at our airbnb which we get a discount on because we rent by the week).

As an example, we spent $4500 for 7.5 weeks in Mexico (not including some free flights). A summer in Europe (most expensive continent in the world??) would probably see us in cities with costs of living at 50% (Budapest, Prague, Ljubljana ) to 250% (anywhere in Switzerland lol) more than that of Mexico. Let's say 200% more, for the sake of argument. That's $13,500 if we scale up our Mexico expenses. And I'm not sure if the costs scale linearly, since there are tons of budget airlines and cheap trains and buses in Europe, often cheaper than in Mexico! Grocery store food also appears very reasonable in much of Europe.

Can we spend 3 months in Zurich at a nice hotel and dine out every day? No! Can we spend 8-9 weeks traveling around Europe in a mix of low, medium and some high cost locales? Pretty sure we can but won't find out till we do it next year.

And we are unlikely to spend every summer in Europe. I'd like to spend summers going forward (in no order): road trip across US; Latin America (Peru? Columbia? Guatemala?); Mexico (again). None of those places will require >$10,000 spending plus many thousands of dollars in travel hacking. I expect we'll have a surplus in most years (like we will this year, only spending $5000-6000 or so for 3.5 weeks road trip and 3 Caribbean cruises).
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:26 AM   #128
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It is interesting when Clark Howard talks about the Mr. Money mustache crowd.

Clark Howard totally gets it and understands the lifestyle but you can hear it in his voice that he knows his audience for the most part isn't going to be able to do it
So he's very careful when he talks about it,it's kind of interesting.

You can hear the skepticism in his voice but obviously Clark Howard knows it can be done.
I attend a local "Mr Money Mustache" meetup every few months. I don't think a single person subscribes to the "retire on $30k per year with $800,000 in the portfolio" philosophy. So even his most diehard followers don't buy it. I could certainly get by on $30k per year and have done so for several years, but it isn't something I'd want to be locked into for 4-5 more decades. The consensus among real life people that have thought about this for a while seems to agree with my sentiments.
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Old 09-22-2016, 11:38 AM   #129
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The travel budget is $10,000 right now but we have flexibility to move more funds to that line item in most years. Add in a good bit of travel hacking and think of that as $15000 to $25000 if you want. And we can't handle 3 full months. School gets out mid-June and starts back at the end of August but we also want a week or two of free time before/after school starts. So think 8-9 weeks max.

I think ~$1500-2000/wk is plenty to travel to just about anywhere in the world assuming we're doing our typical slow travel (1+ week in most places; local transit, cook some meals at our airbnb which we get a discount on because we rent by the week).

As an example, we spent $4500 for 7.5 weeks in Mexico (not including some free flights). A summer in Europe (most expensive continent in the world??) would probably see us in cities with costs of living at 50% (Budapest, Prague, Ljubljana ) to 250% (anywhere in Switzerland lol) more than that of Mexico. Let's say 200% more, for the sake of argument. That's $13,500 if we scale up our Mexico expenses. And I'm not sure if the costs scale linearly, since there are tons of budget airlines and cheap trains and buses in Europe, often cheaper than in Mexico! Grocery store food also appears very reasonable in much of Europe.

Can we spend 3 months in Zurich at a nice hotel and dine out every day? No! Can we spend 8-9 weeks traveling around Europe in a mix of low, medium and some high cost locales? Pretty sure we can but won't find out till we do it next year.

And we are unlikely to spend every summer in Europe. I'd like to spend summers going forward (in no order): road trip across US; Latin America (Peru? Columbia? Guatemala?); Mexico (again). None of those places will require >$10,000 spending plus many thousands of dollars in travel hacking. I expect we'll have a surplus in most years (like we will this year, only spending $5000-6000 or so for 3.5 weeks road trip and 3 Caribbean cruises).
So I guess your overall total spending for everything in life annual budget is a lot higher than I thought?

Your travel cost projections for a family of five seem a bit unrealistic to me but I guess anything is possible .
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Old 09-22-2016, 12:18 PM   #130
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So I guess your overall total spending for everything in life annual budget is a lot higher than I thought?

Your travel cost projections for a family of five seem a bit unrealistic to me but I guess anything is possible .
We budget $40k per year right now. Last two years we spent $25k and $33k (incl. almost $9k for major exterior renovation). We are on track to come in under the $40k budget this year in spite of spending $8000 on a new (to us) minivan and taking 4 international vacations. I don't know. Somehow we make it work. We probably live like a family earning $60-80k, except our taxes are almost zero, we have no mortgage and no work-related expenses. And I'm good at saving money.

As for travel, I'm not sure why it seems unrealistic. $10-15k (plus free flights to/from Europe - thanks United!) for a summer in Europe that's slow travel and not exclusively London/Paris/Switzerland.

1 week:
$700 for airbnb rental
$150 groceries
$200 dining out (1 meal most days; basic places; some take out)
$300 intercity train tix plus some local transit/uber; rental car 1-2 days/wk
$300 sightseeing; admission fees

That's $15000 for 9 weeks and I'm sure most weeks we won't spend that much. Lots of family discounts on the train tix and for admissions.
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Old 09-22-2016, 12:47 PM   #131
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We budget $40k per year right now. Last two years we spent $25k and $33k (incl. almost $9k for major exterior renovation). We are on track to come in under the $40k budget this year in spite of spending $8000 on a new (to us) minivan and taking 4 international vacations. I don't know. Somehow we make it work. We probably live like a family earning $60-80k, except our taxes are almost zero, we have no mortgage and no work-related expenses. And I'm good at saving money.

As for travel, I'm not sure why it seems unrealistic. $10-15k (plus free flights to/from Europe - thanks United!) for a summer in Europe that's slow travel and not exclusively London/Paris/Switzerland.

1 week:
$700 for airbnb rental
$150 groceries
$200 dining out (1 meal most days; basic places; some take out)
$300 intercity train tix plus some local transit/uber; rental car 1-2 days/wk
$300 sightseeing; admission fees

That's $15000 for 9 weeks and I'm sure most weeks we won't spend that much. Lots of family discounts on the train tix and for admissions.
If you can make those European traveler money numbers work. More power to you.

It just seems a bit optimistic to me.
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Old 09-22-2016, 12:51 PM   #132
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WE took a caribbean cruise last year which was cheaper then most because it was a re-positioning cruise and the basic cost was 3k before any island trips, extras on the boat, flights, etc so no clue how you are doing 3 cruises for 5 people plus long road trip for 6k?
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Old 09-22-2016, 01:49 PM   #133
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WE took a caribbean cruise last year which was cheaper then most because it was a re-positioning cruise and the basic cost was 3k before any island trips, extras on the boat, flights, etc so no clue how you are doing 3 cruises for 5 people plus long road trip for 6k?
$1000 road trip. Hotel pts, we drove, a couple of airbnb discount codes (we were cancelled on; gift card from credit card signup, etc). Ate out about 1x per day, cooked at the airbnb (which was amazing for $70/nt!!), invited friends over for lunch one day.

Cruises: from memory, we paid $1400 for a five nighter for 5 of us in Jan 2016. $800 for 5 nighter for 3 of us (2 oldest kids are stuck in school, ha ha suckas!!). $1600 for 7 nighter (2 kids sail free in our balcony room; grandma going with, and 1 kid in her cabin got a discounted rate). Add in $200-300 for tips per cruise plus gas plus parking (we park off site for 0-50% of the port fees; drive down instead of fly - it's 4.5-11 hours to Charleston, Jacksonville, FLL, or Miami). We rarely do excursions and instead explore whatever port on foot, use local transit, or stay on the ship. So cruise + tips + parking + gas is all we pay for.

I guess that all adds up to closer to $6k, but we got 2x $500 reimbursements from credit card signups (Barclay Arrival Plus card). Lots of free hotel nights in the mix too (Starwood Preferred Guest credit card sign up bonus).

We stretch the travel budget pretty far.
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Old 09-22-2016, 01:55 PM   #134
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If you can make those European traveler money numbers work. More power to you.

It just seems a bit optimistic to me.
I may be wildly off base (never been to Europe!), but I've done enough research to think I'm in the ballbark. Looks like decent $100/nt airbnb rentals in just about every place we're visiting. Some places have rates half that if you negotiate and get a weekly discount. Train tix can be very affordable for families (kids ride free in some places; Germany Bahn seems to have €19-39 euro advance ticket sales for every route). Vienna transit tix are free for kids during mid-july and August.

Also keep in mind we're doing this budget travel style. Lunch might be a picnic some days. We aren't staying in 5 star hotels. We might skip some castles/museums if admissions are €100+ for the family (gotta fight castle/museum fatigue because kids are involved).

We enjoy free/cheap/authentic stuff like walking the city, finding parks, letting the kids take a dip, street music/performers (I often google "free things to do in [insert city name here]). This may come as a surprise, but there's often a cheap/free alternative to the busier, expensive tourist attractions.

YMMV of course. Budget travel IS a slight sacrifice that enables long term world travel for our family while the adults are still in their 30's and the kids are still living at home with us. The alternative would be to work another decade or two to enable first class luxury travel without any regard to costs. No thanks!
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:07 PM   #135
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I may be wildly off base (never been to Europe!), but I've done enough research to think I'm in the ballbark. Looks like decent $100/nt airbnb rentals in just about every place we're visiting. Some places have rates half that if you negotiate and get a weekly discount. Train tix can be very affordable for families (kids ride free in some places; Germany Bahn seems to have €19-39 euro advance ticket sales for every route). Vienna transit tix are free for kids during mid-july and August.

Also keep in mind we're doing this budget travel style. Lunch might be a picnic some days. We aren't staying in 5 star hotels. We might skip some castles/museums if admissions are €100+ for the family (gotta fight castle/museum fatigue because kids are involved).

We enjoy free/cheap/authentic stuff like walking the city, finding parks, letting the kids take a dip, street music/performers (I often google "free things to do in [insert city name here]). This may come as a surprise, but there's often a cheap/free alternative to the busier, expensive tourist attractions.

YMMV of course. Budget travel IS a slight sacrifice that enables long term world travel for our family while the adults are still in their 30's and the kids are still living at home with us. The alternative would be to work another decade or two to enable first class luxury travel without any regard to costs. No thanks!

Budget travel is healthier and more real life. It's not about luxury, it's about experiencing the local lifestyle.

I went to Italy this year. My best memories were walking around, seeing Roman ruins underneath Alba, a wine tasting tour with a translator and private driver (68 Euros per person) and just seeing the relaxed lifestyle of small town Italy.

Travel is about seeing places where people don't speak English and don't care.

There is no sacrifice in budget travel.


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Old 09-22-2016, 02:29 PM   #136
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Fuego: so what cruise lines are you getting the deals for and how are you finding them? We love to cruise but find it expensive. We also do a ton of walking when we travel. We love to walk and do not do excursions at every port. A cheap beautiful place to visit in Europe is Poland. My DIL is from there. Krakow is really nice. YOur $ goes a long way there because they are not on the Euro. For example a beer is a dollar and we had filet mignon for 8.00.
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:37 PM   #137
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I may be wildly off base (never been to Europe!), but I've done enough research to think I'm in the ballbark. Looks like decent $100/nt airbnb rentals in just about every place we're visiting. Some places have rates half that if you negotiate and get a weekly discount. Train tix can be very affordable for families (kids ride free in some places; Germany Bahn seems to have €19-39 euro advance ticket sales for every route). Vienna transit tix are free for kids during mid-july and August.

Also keep in mind we're doing this budget travel style. Lunch might be a picnic some days. We aren't staying in 5 star hotels. We might skip some castles/museums if admissions are €100+ for the family (gotta fight castle/museum fatigue because kids are involved).

We enjoy free/cheap/authentic stuff like walking the city, finding parks, letting the kids take a dip, street music/performers (I often google "free things to do in [insert city name here]). This may come as a surprise, but there's often a cheap/free alternative to the busier, expensive tourist attractions.

YMMV of course. Budget travel IS a slight sacrifice that enables long term world travel for our family while the adults are still in their 30's and the kids are still living at home with us. The alternative would be to work another decade or two to enable first class luxury travel without any regard to costs. No thanks!
I am a three-star traveler so I definitely know about sacrifice
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:51 PM   #138
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A cheap beautiful place to visit in Europe is Poland. My DIL is from there. Krakow is really nice. YOur $ goes a long way there because they are not on the Euro. For example a beer is a dollar and we had filet mignon for 8.00.
But why go for filet mignon in Poland? Why not $1.50 barszcz soup and $3 pierogi like locals do?

Also: FUEGO's number for European travels are close to our family of 5, except that we spend more on entry fees and slightly more on food (our kids eat way more than his girls )

If you are patient (I treat is as a hobby) travel deals are to be found.
In two weeks I'm leaving for my "6 European Capitals for $600 airfare trip" and I'm planning to spend less than $400 for 3 weeks there (CPH->VNO->TLL->RYG->WAW->KRK)
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Old 09-22-2016, 02:56 PM   #139
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Budget travel is healthier and more real life. It's not about luxury, it's about experiencing the local lifestyle.
Agreed! When our son was about 12 we did the National Lampoon European Vacation. 3 weeks, 6 countries, Eurorail passes, toting too many bags. But my son, who is now in his mid-30's, still talks the most about the 5 days in northern Italy, in the town where his grandfather was born. We stayed with extended family, walked the hills to to the different villages, and just enjoyed the slower paced lifestyle.
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Old 09-22-2016, 03:06 PM   #140
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Sailer: we took my DIL's parents to the fanciest restaurant in their town and they had never eaten there because of the cost. The filet mignon was the most expensive thing on the menu. They cooked a lot for us and we wanted to treat them. We love the local food and the people. Fuego: I don't doubt your numbers-I am just trying to copy you.
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