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Old 11-09-2009, 08:55 PM   #41
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Have you accounted for income taxes? You say you need 98k, but then you show us how you'll get 93k worth of pre-tax income. Thats a big gap.
To be clear that 98k would be if (1) we moved a year from now to a smaller house (2) we had one child living in a dorm and two living at home and (3) we didn't make an effort to reduce the more discretionary expenditures.

When we actually retire we will surely be in the smaller house -- selling this house is a key to reducing our expenses. In the last 12 months we spent roughly $85000 in housing related expenses -- mortgage, taxes, utilities, repairs, maintenance. If we move to a smaller house of the price we are considering, we would reduce that by about $50000 annually!

Now, at actual retirement of both of us -- which is a few years away from now, we will likely only have 1 child at home (she would be a senior in high school) and the other two would be finished or nearly finished with college.

The point being that most of our retirement time will be just the two of us, and re won't have the expenses that are child related.

I also know that some of the expenses that I have in that year from now budget are discretionary and likely could and would be reduced. For example, DH and have already talked about substantially reducing gift expenses immediately, reducing cable TV immediately, reducing phone in various ways, etc.

When I figure expenses (including taxes) for true retirement with just the two of us it comes out from $60,000 (basic with not much discretionary spending) to $90,000 (most everything I really want). The true goal is probably closer to the $75,000 to $80,000.
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:11 PM   #42
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You don't have a problem other than not being willing to downsize. the median household income in the us is about 50K.

Median household income - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Your husband is going to retire shortly and you don't want to keep working after he is retired. Your choices are to keep working or downsize. Thats about it.

Your goal seems to be to maintain your high lifestyle rather than to retire early. Sure you are on the right board?

High lifestyle and ER do not usually go together unless you are very well off.

Consider moving to a lower cost of living area. Texas is pretty good but Houston elite subdivisions are not the cheapest. Paying MUD taxes?
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Old 11-09-2009, 10:32 PM   #43
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Your husband is going to retire shortly and you don't want to keep working after he is retired. Your choices are to keep working or downsize. Thats about it.

Your goal seems to be to maintain your high lifestyle rather than to retire early. Sure you are on the right board?

High lifestyle and ER do not usually go together unless you are very well off.

Consider moving to a lower cost of living area. Texas is pretty good but Houston elite subdivisions are not the cheapest. Paying MUD taxes?
I guess I'm not quite sure I understand your post. I not only am willing to downsize, I'm downright desperate to do it. If I could sell this house tomorrow I would. My actual plan is to get the house ready to list in spring hoping we could sell in the summer. The area we live in has very unique houses so houses can stay on the market a long time unless someone happens by who really wants whatever unique features your house has (the house across the street which is a 3 bedroom in a sea of houses with lots of bedrooms has been on the market for a year and a half). But then others sell quickly so who knows.

I want to downsize, intend to downsize as quickly as possible recognizing that we will still have 4 people in the house unless I want to through my DH or teenagers out on the street.

I don't want to maintain a high lifestyle. I want to sell this house and save the $50k a year that I will save by moving somewhere smaller. I agree that other cuts in expenses are good, hence my posting this thread. If I didn't want to get feedback and ideas I wouldn't have posted.....

<i>Texas is pretty good but Houston elite subdivisions are not the cheapest. Paying MUD taxes? </i>

Good heavens, no. When we moved from our last house I said I would never pay MUD taxes again. This house has a lot of expensive maintenance but the one good thing is no MUD taxes. On the other hand, when the well went out a few months ago we had to pay the $3000 for the resulting repairs.

I wouldn't call this an elite subdivision either. The houses are all different from one another, there are very loose restrictions, most are on 2 acres or more with a lot of people having a couple of horses. We are all on well and septic and really things aren't very fancy. It is just this house was built about 15 years ago, is quite large and not energy efficient and the extensive trees (although beautiful) are difficult to maintain and to clean up after storms.
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Old 11-12-2009, 07:57 AM   #44
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I want to downsize, intend to downsize as quickly as possible recognizing that we will still have 4 people in the house unless I want to through my DH or teenagers out on the street.
I've been trying to follow this thread - IIRC, you're living in a 4000+ SF house and feel you can't downsize until the kids are out? Honestly, I don't understand that...why can't four people live just fine in a 2500 SF house? I consider 2500 SF to be HUGE. When I was growing up, it was three of us in 864 SF of living area plus a full basement.

And that $6000 electric bill...yowza. I can't imagine how many lights, gadgets and toys must be running 24/7 to run up a bill like that. I live in upstate NY, so I have cold weather to contend with and all my utilities combined (cable TV, cell, landline, gas & electric and trash pickup) only totaled $3218 in the last 12 months. I live on 1.8 acres with a well and septic and lots of trees (woods) as well. My house only has '80s era insulation with 6 1950's single pane windows still to be replaced.

My sense is that you want to live a smaller life, but you're hung up on a bunch of erroneous assumptions, like "it's impossible for 4 people to live in less than 4000 SF". I suggest the first thing to do is pick up a copy of Your Money or Your Life and read it cover to cover. A basic premise of the book is the "fulfillment curve" and understanding what's "enough".

I make $64,700 per year and I'm currently putting $18K into my 403b and trying to figure out how to up that to the max of $22K. If I had anything like your income, I'd be figuring out a way to retire a week from Tuesday!
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Old 11-12-2009, 09:14 AM   #45
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So true hguyw, we spent about $3000 last year on phone, lights, gas, water, trash for the entire year.

Here is a sample of our budget last year. It covers a 1500 square foot home in Missouri.

Auto repair and maintenance $400
Home Repairs and Maintenance $300
Insurance (Home 475)
Electricity $840

Total for the year $2015

If I had anything like your income, I would need to work about 4 years (of my entire life) then I could retire.

Kats your total for these same four items came to $17,868 I know you have a larger home but there must be some way to cut these costs. On the bright side you are saving about $18,000 a year in Missouri state income taxes by living in Texas.
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Old 11-12-2009, 10:08 AM   #46
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
Right now we have a large house (over 4000 square feet), 2 garages, and a guest house.
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Originally Posted by Katsmeow View Post
I want to downsize, intend to downsize as quickly as possible recognizing that we will still have 4 people in the house unless I want to through my DH or teenagers out on the street.
(bolding emphasis mine)

This is as puzzling to me as it is to those posting previously. I wonder if you are being completely honest with yourself. Who knows what the real reasons are that you are clinging to this huge home and doubtlessly ostentatious lifestyle - - maybe you grew up poor and are worried that downsizing would be a step backwards? Or maybe some other reason. I don't know you, but I can tell that this situation has been distressing for you and I am sorry that it is.

I hope you find happiness in your life, and that you can somehow figure out how to save enough to retire in the lifestyle that you prefer, while spending at the rate you now prefer to spend, on your present income. Right now, I don't see a way for that to happen. I fear that you may end up feeling miserable, resentful, and bitter in your later years due to insufficient financial preparation, leading to less money when you are older than you could otherwise have.
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Old 11-12-2009, 06:37 PM   #47
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Hey Kats,

Can you do all your own meal preparation, and bank the eating-out money? I imagine your lovely big house comes equipped with as much kitchen as a cook could ask for.

We may not be 5-star chefs, but we've gotten good enough at meal preparation that we don't really enjoy restaurant food any more. At least, not the kind we could afford on $200.00 per month, assuming that includes tax and tip.

We don't skimp on groceries--we buy top-quality food and spices, and taught ourselves to make a couple of dozen favorite dishes and desserts, plus wine selected from the "under $10.00 and preferably under $8.00 a bottle" shelves. Also, for $100 or so, we picked up some professional chef's knives that make the chopping, slicing, etc. much easier.

Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but it's a thought.

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Old 11-12-2009, 07:58 PM   #48
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I've been trying to follow this thread - IIRC, you're living in a 4000+ SF house and feel you can't downsize until the kids are out? Honestly, I don't understand that...why can't four people live just fine in a 2500 SF house?
I entirely agree. That is why we are going to put our house on the market in the spring! Until 4 months ago, we had 6 people living in our house. Right now, we have 5. By next fall it will be 4. Thinking it will take awhile to sell the house we are putting it on the market in the spring. We plan to buy a house between 2000 and 2500 square feet and will have 4 people living there.

Truthfully sort of baffled that anyone thinks that I have ever said I can't downside until all the kids are out. I thought the thread was clear that we want to downsize now and don't want to wait until the kids are all out (which won't be for least 5 years).


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And that $6000 electric bill...yowza. I can't imagine how many lights, gadgets and toys must be running 24/7 to run up a bill like that.
Not really. I walk around turning off lights all the time. We do have computers that are usually plugged in. They are set to go to sleep and turn off the monitor after a period of inactivity. We have TVs (I personally haven't turned on a TV in months). But they aren't run all that much.

The house is not very energy efficient and it is all electric with no gas. We have programmable thermostats which are programmed to reduce costs as well. The house does have lots and lots of windows including a sunroom that is entirely large windows.


Quote:
My sense is that you want to live a smaller life, but you're hung up on a bunch of erroneous assumptions, like "it's impossible for 4 people to live in less than 4000 SF".
No, I think we could live fine in 2000 to 2500 SF; hence my desire to sell this house come spring.



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I make $64,700 per year and I'm currently putting $18K into my 403b and trying to figure out how to up that to the max of $22K. If I had anything like your income, I'd be figuring out a way to retire a week from Tuesday!
When people say that kind of thing to me I tell them I will trade my income but they have to have my family and my expenses. You get my children and their special needs. You get the two rare genetic disorders that two of my children have (these are not life threatening but took time and money to find and diagnose). You get my son who attended a therapeutic school and you have to be located where I am with the transportation options that I had. In addition, you have to be married to my husband who when we married had just finished supporting 3 children and was still putting a child through college.

Look, yes, I've not always made the best decisions in my life. Hindsight is 20-20. Right now, though, I'm planning to sell this house at the earliest opportunity that I have (around here far better to list in spring than this time of year) and personally I'm happy that I've paid off the six figure debt that I had just a few years ago and now have less than $5k in non-mortgage debt.
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:16 PM   #49
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(bolding emphasis mine)

Who knows what the real reasons are that you are clinging to this huge home and doubtlessly ostentatious lifestyle - - maybe you grew up poor and are worried that downsizing would be a step backwards? Or maybe some other reason. I don't know you, but I can tell that this situation has been distressing for you and I am sorry that it is.

I guess I just don't get it. It is November, which is a poor time to put the house on the market. We also need to have some minor work done to put it on the market so even if I started tomorrow would put it on the market in mid-December -- terrible time to do so.

We plan to put it on the market in the Spring, hopefully March. I just don't see why waiting until March -- a good time to put it on the market -- means I am clinging to this house?

I can't wait to downsize. My oldest son will go away to college next fall and there will be 4 in the house once he goes.

You quote me saying "I want to downsize, intend to downsize as quickly as possible recognizing that we will still have 4 people in the house unless I want to through my DH or teenagers out on the street." I guess I don't see why you think that means we aren't going to sell this house.

The only point I am making with that is that we will have to downsize to a house that will hold the 4 of us. Given that we will have a son and a daughter still at home, we could not for example downsize to a house with 2 bedrooms.

That is only downsizing dilemma that we have had. DH and I have discussed when to downsize. If we waited until all the kids were gone (at least 5 years from now) then we could downsize to a smaller home with fewer bedroom that we can downsize to when there are 4 people in the house. We have decided we want to downsize now.

Oh, and I'm not sure what an ostentatious lifestyle is but I know I don't have one. I have to go to a social event next weekend and I have a dilemma as my clothes are of two types: Clothes for work and jeans and T-shirts. I do not have anything else and jeans are inappropriate for the event. The dining out budget is mostly lunch out at work once a week, Subway, one or two dinners a month with DH usually at the neighborhood Chinese or Mexican food place with the occasional family outing to Chili's.

Quote:
you can somehow figure out how to save enough to retire in the lifestyle that you prefer, while spending at the rate you now prefer to spend, on your present income. Right now, I don't see a way for that to happen. I fear that you may end up feeling miserable, resentful, and bitter in your later years due to insufficient financial preparation, leading to less money when you are older than you could otherwise have.
I guess I don't see it that grimly. If DH retired and took his lump sum and we never put another penny in retirement savings, I think we would be OK if we sell this house. Right now that total of lump sum + 401k would be about $1.05 million.

In reality, DH doesn't plan to retire for 4 more years, we will be putting money into our 401ks. If DH takes SS at 66 and I take it at 62, combine SS is almost $50k.

So I don't really see that big a problem. Remember the budget I posted in my first post was not a retirement budget. It was a budget based upon moving to a smaller house, but while 2 kids are still at home.

Ideally I would, however, like to retire before 62 and that will require more adjusting to the budget but I think it is entirely possible. Just this week I've adjusted several things so that I've cut expenses by $265 a month. Now that isn't a huge amount of cutting compared to selling this house but I was still pleased with it.
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:22 PM   #50
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Auto repair and maintenance $400
Home Repairs and Maintenance $300
Insurance (Home 475)
Electricity $840

Total for the year $2015
....
Kats your total for these same four items came to $17,868 I know you have a larger home but there must be some way to cut these costs.
Auto repair and maintenance - we gave the high maintenance older car to our son. That cost is now his problem (and one he is glad to have).

Home repairs and maintenance - The primary way we plan to cut these costs is by selling the house.

Insurance - The house insurance will go down some when we sell the house. The auto insurance we can't do much about unless our son is no longer a resident in our house and is not our dependent. Since he is a senior in high school neither of those is happening. On the bright side, he does pay for his share of the auto insurance so that is really a pass through cost for us.

Electricity -- We have actually reduced this one somewhat by using the programmable thermostats and turning off lights, etc. However, the real solution is selling this house which we hope we will be next summer (plan to put on market in spring).
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:28 PM   #51
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I think a 2200 to 2500 sq.ft. house is reasonable . When you have children they come back to visit and bring their spouse or SO and their children . Our house gets filled during the holidays and that much sq.ft .is just right . Plus I now share the responsibility of my Mom with my Sister so the extra space really helps . Everybody has space requirements and mine are 2200 sq.ft .and Katsmeow you do not have to explain yours .
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Old 11-12-2009, 08:45 PM   #52
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you can somehow figure out how to save enough to retire in the lifestyle that you prefer, while spending at the rate you now prefer to spend, on your present income. Right now, I don't see a way for that to happen.
I thought more about this so I ran over to Firecalc (which I've done in the past). I tried various scenarios and they all came to 100%. Finally I was able to get it down to 96%.

To do that I put in spending of $90,000. 35 years. Retire in 2013. SS in 2013 for DH and 2016 for me (filling in our estimated numbers). Current portfolio of $350,000 no additions to it, except for $700,000 lump sum in 2013 (when DH retires). Doing that ending up with a 96% success rate.

In reality we do plan to contribute to our 401ks and putting that in gets it to 100% again. Doing that it says we could retire in 2012.

Maybe I'm missing something but it looks fairly good to me. (Yes, of course this assumes that we will sell the house in the meantime).
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:08 AM   #53
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To do that I put in spending of $90,000. 35 years. Retire in 2013. SS in 2013 for DH and 2016 for me (filling in our estimated numbers). Current portfolio of $350,000 no additions to it, except for $700,000 lump sum in 2013 (when DH retires). Doing that ending up with a 96% success rate.
I would check this. For a 96% success rate, your SWR (safe withdrawl rate) would not be above 4% -- meaning you need at least 25x your spending rate in portfolio.

This means for $90k spending you need $2-2.5 million.

Wish your results were true....
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:44 AM   #54
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$90K spending with $50K coming from social security would leave one with only about a $1 million nestegg needed which is about what $350K + $700K is. Anyways, it's all guesswork at this stage, so get to a year where you only spend $90K (including income taxes, but maybe not FICA) first. Also make sure that some of that $1M is not used to buy a house.
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:48 AM   #55
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$90K spending with $50K coming from social security would leave one with only about a $1 million nestegg needed which is about what $350K + $700K is. Anyways, it's all guesswork at this stage, so get to a year where you only spend $90K (including income taxes, but maybe not FICA) first. Also make sure that some of that $1M is not used to buy a house.
What does "social security" mean ? Just joking. I expect SS to be extremely means tested in the future and I wouldn't count on it for nearly 50% of my retirement.

So the whole plan looks uncomfortably tight and optimistic to me - especially given the expense history.
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:52 AM   #56
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Yes, it does look borderline to me as well ... for the same reasons. We do not know what will happen to SS over the mid-term. Also, until this couple drops to spending $90K a year in real-life, I'm not sure they can do it despite the numbers in this thread. We are spending around $90K a year even with expenses lower than those proposed by Katsmeow. OK, we go out to eat a lot.
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Old 11-13-2009, 06:27 AM   #57
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Can your DH take his pension as an annuity? May have better cash flow than what you can do on your own with the cash. Mine is that way.

Also better figure on only the highest of the social security amount for whichever of you gets it in your budget. Eventually that is what the survivor will get. Or are you going to downsize twice with the house selling and moving expenses? If twice you better build that into your budget.

2000 to 2500 sq feet will be a bit large when there are only two of you. I have 1800 and it is more than I need for my wife and me. Did have two kids at home but empty nest now. Its not the cost of the house but the ongoing expenses that will eat you up. As you know property taxes are high in Texas due to no State income tax. Getting your property taxes down is a lever you can pull in your budget. Every 1000 you spend yearly requires abt. 25000 invested.

I would advise you live on your budget before you retire and make sure its realistic. Not that you can make it any higher, you probably need to make it smaller.
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:17 PM   #58
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We are counting Social Security. DH is 62 so I think his is safe. I'm 55 and I think mine is most likely safe. I am assuming in my planning that they will be fully taxes however. DH is adamant that he only wants to move one time so downsizing twice is not in the card. Me, I don't mind moving really and if I was alone would live somewhere quite small.

Our current plan:

1. Sell current house -- best case scenario is next summer but it can take awhile where we live.
2. Move to much less expensive to maintain and smaller house. Live on DH's salary (we have looked at this and think it could be done). Save my entire salary (except for taxes of course). If that works then our 401k goes up and we know we are in shape to....
3. Retire

There are some other possible variables but they all hinge on first selling our current house.

Lazarus -- DH can take retirement as a non-COLA annuity with me having a 100% survival option. However, if his company were to go under he would get less under the pension guaranty fund and if he died I would only get 50%. And, frankly, I don't trust the long term stability of the pension guaranty fund so at present he and I are inclined for him to take the lump sum.
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Old 11-13-2009, 04:32 PM   #59
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Yes, it does look borderline to me as well ... for the same reasons. We do not know what will happen to SS over the mid-term. Also, until this couple drops to spending $90K a year in real-life, I'm not sure they can do it despite the numbers in this thread.
I don't think it looks borderline really. The budget in the first post was a budget now but in a smaller house. The retirement budget for when kids are gone is for quite a bit less. And, of course, I think we will be adding to retirement savings over the next few years.
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Old 11-13-2009, 05:36 PM   #60
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Live on DH's salary (we have looked at this and think it could be done).
Of course it can be done. My wife and I live on 1/3 your household income.
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