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Old 06-17-2013, 06:08 PM   #61
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Yes, but when you retired $500k would have been enough to purchase North America! Or at least everything west of the Mississippi..........
That is fantastic!
Comicbook...have you taken any steps yet to leave or are you still in the talking/planning phase?
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:25 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by FIREd View Post
Very impressive given where you live. With only $650 left per month for food, pets, health care, utilities, insurance, etc... I don't know how you do it.
My approximate monthly expenses are as follows -

Rent (including utilities) $640
Food $300 (approx)
Pets $100 (approx average food + litter + annual wellness checks and shots for 3 cats)
Phone $8
Internet (DSL) $23
Bicycle maintenance $8 (approx average)
Clothing $10 (approx average)

Total $1089

I pay myself $1300/month from my portfolio and have an average extra income (cash in hand) of ~ $100/month from a very minor part-time job for a total income of ~ $1400/month. The difference between my basic expenditure as outlined above, and income is ~$300, which serves to provide for extra spending + emergencies. I have built up a cash cushion in the last few years of $3K in my checking from this modest income, so it all seems to be working. If there are larger unforeseen emergency expenses, I can take them from my portfolio, with possible adjustments to WR, if necessary.

My land-line is cheap because I take advantage of the lower rates for low-income households via the California Lifeline program. For a household of 1-2 people, you qualify if are earning under $25,100 per annum, which easily covers me. The DSL service is one of the basic lower speed DSL services available, but it still works for streaming movies from the internet.

I have no cellphone, or cable/satellite TV.

For healthcare, I use a program of clinics in the county I live, under which I qualify as a low income resident. I was particularly concerned when first applying for this, that I wouldn't qualify due to my assets. I made several phone calls, and repeated my concern while being interviewed for the program. The answers I received were all the same - that assets are not taken into account. They are only concerned with earned income, or income from savings interest, dividends etc. I showed them my tax return as proof of my income, and was accepted. Only about half of my assets are in taxable accounts, and the dividends from the index funds put me well under the federal poverty level. As a result, my healthcare costs are negligible. Next year, I will be eligible for Medicaid under the PPACA. I will still be using the same system of clinics (I think) but will be covered with Medicaid instead.

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Originally Posted by clifp View Post
Well where you live matters a ton, I knew ComicBookguy lives in the Bay Area which is one of the most expensive areas in the country. I don't know where Major Tom lives in CA but I am guessing if he spends $460/month it isn't in the Bay Area.

One of my best friends, a well paid IP lawyer, actually retired a bit earlier than me at 38. He couldn't convince his firm to let him work part time so quit and hasn't gone back to work. He has continued to live in the Bay Area for the last 15 years. I'm think he had between 500K to 1 million. The rest of us have always commented about his monk like existence he has led, studio apartment, basic cellphone, old computer. Now I don't know how much of this is by necessity and how much by choice. But it would be too spartan for my comfort level.
You transposed 2 of the figures in my rent; I am actually paying $640/month, though that is still a low figure for the Bay Area. I live in a fairly nice part of Oakland, about 15 minutes walk from Lake Merritt, in an old house (very early 20th century) that has been divided into studio apartments. The house has seen better days, but has a lot of dark wood paneling and tons of character. My apartment has a lovely view into the dog park next door, through the branches of a palm tree, which is a haven for birds and squirrels. My cats love sitting in the bay window and looking at the the dogs, birds and squirrels - well, except for the blind kitty

My existence is probably much like the monk-like one you describe of your friend clifp, though my life doesn't feel spartan. Last weekend, there was a big celebration at the lake to mark the completion of a big landscaping/development project to beautify Lake Merritt. Musicians were playing all around the lake. There was salsa dancing at the north end, and at the other end, a group playing wonderfully loud Brazilian-style drums and dancing sambas, while the local population came out to enjoy. We took a $5 ride on the lake on a Venetian gondola piloted by a real Venetian gondolier. Even just across the bay in San Francisco, I bet there are many people who don't realize that Oakland has a lake on which you can take a ride in a real Venetian gondola - we have 2 of them here! The cost of this lovely afternoon was $5 each for the gondola rides, and yet it recharged our spiritual batteries a good deal. Fun, enjoyment and happiness can indeed be had quite cheaply.

One more thing I want to mention. I have been wary of detailing my finances here for the simple reason that I knew if I shared them, at some point, someone would ask how I managed my healthcare. I'm pretty sure there are members here who will question my use of a system that is most likely intended for the working poor, as opposed to people with assets, such as myself. I wondered the same thing at first, but came to the conclusion that if I legitimately qualified, then I felt comfortable with applying for, and using the service. There are other government programs that specifically disqualify those with significant assets, so I took that as "proof" as it were, that it was OK for me to go ahead and use this system. To sum up my attitude in this area, I am comfortable taking advantage of government programs and subsides, as long as I legitimately qualify (i.e. don't have to lie in order to get them, something I will not do).
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:28 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by citrine View Post
That is fantastic!
Comicbook...have you taken any steps yet to leave or are you still in the talking/planning phase?
Still in the talking/planning phase. I need to wait to see how this Obamacare works out in 2014, so I'm going to go try stick it out for at least another 6 months. Don't want to pay the COBRA crazy plan. I will qualify for low income subsidy, so I should be ok(unless they start changing the subsidy to be asset based, then I'm screwed!).

I have explored options within the department.
I have spoken with the boss to step down to a lower paying position. That was denied. I have asked for an unpaid leave of absence of 60 days, that was denied.

I took 1 month paid vacation and my health was great for that 4 weeks. I was sleeping well. I didn't feel tired at the end of the day. I didn't need to medicate myself with booze. As soon as I came back to work...all my health problems reappeared.

So my plan is to quit in 2014, go back to school and change career. And if that doesn't work, just stop working and live like I always have, and I will be fine.
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Old 06-17-2013, 08:38 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by Major Tom View Post
My approximate monthly expenses are as follows -

Rent (including utilities) $640
Food $300 (approx)
Pets $100 (approx average food + litter + annual wellness checks and shots for 3 cats)
Phone $8
Internet (DSL) $23
Bicycle maintenance $8 (approx average)
Clothing $10 (approx average)

Total $1089

I pay myself $1300/month from my portfolio and have an average extra income (cash in hand) of ~ $100/month from a very minor part-time job for a total income of ~ $1400/month. The difference between my basic expenditure as outlined above, and income is ~$300, which serves to provide for extra spending + emergencies. I have built up a cash cushion in the last few years of $3K in my checking from this modest income, so it all seems to be working. If there are larger unforeseen emergency expenses, I can take them from my portfolio, with possible adjustments to WR, if necessary.

My land-line is cheap because I take advantage of the lower rates for low-income households via the California Lifeline program. For a household of 1-2 people, you qualify if are earning under $25,100 per annum, which easily covers me. The DSL service is one of the basic lower speed DSL services available, but it still works for streaming movies from the internet.

I have no cellphone, or cable/satellite TV.

For healthcare, I use a program of clinics in the county I live, under which I qualify as a low income resident. I was particularly concerned when first applying for this, that I wouldn't qualify due to my assets. I made several phone calls, and repeated my concern while being interviewed for the program. The answers I received were all the same - that assets are not taken into account. They are only concerned with earned income, or income from savings interest, dividends etc. I showed them my tax return as proof of my income, and was accepted. Only about half of my assets are in taxable accounts, and the dividends from the index funds put me well under the federal poverty level. As a result, my healthcare costs are negligible. Next year, I will be eligible for Medicaid under the PPACA. I will still be using the same system of clinics (I think) but will be covered with Medicaid instead.


You transposed 2 of the figures in my rent; I am actually paying $640/month, though that is still a low figure for the Bay Area. I live in a fairly nice part of Oakland, about 15 minutes walk from Lake Merritt, in an old house (very early 20th century) that has been divided into studio apartments. The house has seen better days, but has a lot of dark wood paneling and tons of character. My apartment has a lovely view into the dog park next door, through the branches of a palm tree, which is a haven for birds and squirrels. My cats love sitting in the bay window and looking at the the dogs, birds and squirrels - well, except for the blind kitty

My existence is probably much like the monk-like one you describe of your friend clifp, though my life doesn't feel spartan. Last weekend, there was a big celebration at the lake to mark the completion of a big landscaping/development project to beautify Lake Merritt. Musicians were playing all around the lake. There was salsa dancing at the north end, and at the other end, a group playing wonderfully loud Brazilian-style drums and dancing sambas, while the local population came out to enjoy. We took a $5 ride on the lake on a Venetian gondola piloted by a real Venetian gondolier. Even just across the bay in San Francisco, I bet there are many people who don't realize that Oakland has a lake on which you can take a ride in a real Venetian gondola - we have 2 of them here! The cost of this lovely afternoon was $5 each for the gondola rides, and yet it recharged our spiritual batteries a good deal. Fun, enjoyment and happiness can indeed be had quite cheaply.

One more thing I want to mention. I have been wary of detailing my finances here for the simple reason that I knew if I shared them, at some point, someone would ask how I managed my healthcare. I'm pretty sure there are members here who will question my use of a system that is most likely intended for the working poor, as opposed to people with assets, such as myself. I wondered the same thing at first, but came to the conclusion that if I legitimately qualified, then I felt comfortable with applying for, and using the service. There are other government programs that specifically disqualify those with significant assets, so I took that as "proof" as it were, that it was OK for me to go ahead and use this system. To sum up my attitude in this area, I am comfortable taking advantage of government programs and subsides, as long as I legitimately qualify (i.e. don't have to lie in order to get them, something I will not do).
Wow. $640 for rent in the Bay Area. Nice!
I had a co-worker that lived in Pacific Height and was paying $800 for a 2 bedroom(rent control)!!! Market rate was $3,000 for the same apartment for a new tenant.

I'm living in LA right now and paying $1,400 for rent. If I quit working, I will move to a cheaper place that cost about $1k a month. Or I can always move back in with my parents in San Francisco and live in the in-law unit and pay $700 a month for food and utilities.
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:01 PM   #65
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Or I can always move back in with my parents in San Francisco and live in the in-law unit and pay $700 a month for food and utilities.
Or for just 30K, you could buy a 1 bed 1 bath condo in a large casino in Reno (which used to be the MGM Grand). The HOA fees are only $28/month and include use of the spa/hot tub, gym, rec room, sauna and shuttle bus.

Just kidding, just kidding (though the deal is real).

2500 2Nd St, Reno, NV 89595 - Home For Sale and Real Estate Listing - realtor.comŽ
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:06 PM   #66
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Wow. $640 for rent in the Bay Area. Nice!
I had a co-worker that lived in Pacific Height and was paying $800 for a 2 bedroom(rent control)!!! Market rate was $3,000 for the same apartment for a new tenant.
I lucked out - had already been living in the Bay Area for 2 years and checking Craigslist regularly before finding this deal. The owner is an elderly gentleman who doesn't seem interested in maximizing his investment. He's more interested in having tenants that pay rent on time and don't cause trouble. What's more - he rarely raises the rent. We have very long-term tenants here that are paying significantly less than me. One gentleman has been here for over 30 years. I don't think he's ever going to move out...........
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:11 PM   #67
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My approximate monthly expenses are as follows -

Rent (including utilities) $640
Food $300 (approx)
Pets $100 (approx average food + litter + annual wellness checks and shots for 3 cats)
Phone $8
Internet (DSL) $23
Bicycle maintenance $8 (approx average)
Clothing $10 (approx average)

Total $1089

I pay myself $1300/month from my portfolio and have an average extra income (cash in hand) of ~ $100/month from a very minor part-time job for a total income of ~ $1400/month. The difference between my basic expenditure as outlined above, and income is ~$300, which serves to provide for extra spending + emergencies. I have built up a cash cushion in the last few years of $3K in my checking from this modest income, so it all seems to be working. If there are larger unforeseen emergency expenses, I can take them from my portfolio, with possible adjustments to WR, if necessary.

My land-line is cheap because I take advantage of the lower rates for low-income households via the California Lifeline program. For a household of 1-2 people, you qualify if are earning under $25,100 per annum, which easily covers me. The DSL service is one of the basic lower speed DSL services available, but it still works for streaming movies from the internet.

I have no cellphone, or cable/satellite TV.

For healthcare, I use a program of clinics in the county I live, under which I qualify as a low income resident. I was particularly concerned when first applying for this, that I wouldn't qualify due to my assets. I made several phone calls, and repeated my concern while being interviewed for the program. The answers I received were all the same - that assets are not taken into account. They are only concerned with earned income, or income from savings interest, dividends etc. I showed them my tax return as proof of my income, and was accepted. Only about half of my assets are in taxable accounts, and the dividends from the index funds put me well under the federal poverty level. As a result, my healthcare costs are negligible. Next year, I will be eligible for Medicaid under the PPACA. I will still be using the same system of clinics (I think) but will be covered with Medicaid instead.
I think we have a similar health care program in the city called "Healthy San Francisco" for lower income households. I am impressed by your thriftiness! Cell phones and cable TV are really expensive. I've talked to DW about giving up my iPhone and going for a prepaid dumb phone. She looked at me like I was from Mars!
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Old 06-17-2013, 09:38 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Major Tom View Post
My approximate monthly expenses are as follows -

Rent (including utilities) $640
Food $300 (approx)
Pets $100 (approx average food + litter + annual wellness checks and shots for 3 cats)
Phone $8
Internet (DSL) $23
Bicycle maintenance $8 (approx average)
Clothing $10 (approx average)

Total $1089
Thanks for sharing your budget, Major Tom. I am really impressed at how low you can keep your expenses.

I am working on DH to get rid of cable TV. With all of the shows on the Internet plus Netflix and Amazon Primes, I think we'd be fine without it.
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Old 06-18-2013, 12:08 AM   #69
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Cell phones and cable TV are really expensive. I've talked to DW about giving up my iPhone and going for a prepaid dumb phone. She looked at me like I was from Mars!
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Originally Posted by daylatedollarshort View Post
I am working on DH to get rid of cable TV. With all of the shows on the Internet plus Netflix and Amazon Primes, I think we'd be fine without it.
It does get a little more complicated with couples. We all have the things we feel we need and those we can do without, and those sets of requirements rarely align perfectly when another person is involved.

It has taken a few years to get my expenses down to this level, but it has not been hard. In some ways it has been a process of self-exploration, to see how I can live within my means without sacrificing the things that bring me contentment - and because those things change from time to time, it is an ongoing process.

Also, I'd like to add that I am in no way an inverse snob when it comes to money. I don't follow LBYM principles with religious-like zeal, and certainly don't think of spending less as being more virtuous than spending more. I know I could shave a few more dollars off my budget if I wanted to, but at a cost to my sense of well-being. Yesterday, I came across this interesting looking blended ale near the checkout at Trader Joe's and bought a few bottles. Later that evening, I split them with my SO. We drank them slowly as the last rays of weak golden sunlight filtered in through the trees and into the window, had great conversation, and both marveled at how wonderful it was to be alive, and in each other's presence - and all for only $2.99 a bottle

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Old 06-18-2013, 08:09 AM   #70
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Major Tom - Your retirement lifestyle is eye opening. I think it shows us corporate soldiers that we do always have a choice in how we choose to live and manage our expenses.
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Old 06-18-2013, 08:58 AM   #71
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Comic book....the in-law suite sounds awesome! I am very certain that you will be fine...as Major Tom illustrates...it is not how much you make, but how much you save. We don't need a lot to be happy, just a roof, some food, good health, and good family/friends....everything else is just icing on the cake
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Old 06-18-2013, 09:30 AM   #72
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We DID... We're 43 & 49 and have $1 mil total of taxed / deferred (almost 50/50). We generate 75-90% in general and went to Coastal Mexico to live for now. DW wants to w*rk 10-15 hrs to keep busy. Me, don't want to, but doing 10-20 isn't killing me.

DW will get $900/mo in 6 yrs if we need to.

One person does reduced reduce the risk and health insurance is less to worry about now Imo. SS I figured 50% of what "they" say.

Our expenses are currently $2500-3000 down here, living comfortably but frugally. We were living in LA, CA on $4k/mo for reference. Most of our $ is in super conservative places.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:28 AM   #73
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Or for just 30K, you could buy a 1 bed 1 bath condo in a large casino in Reno (which used to be the MGM Grand). The HOA fees are only $28/month and include use of the spa/hot tub, gym, rec room, sauna and shuttle bus.

Just kidding, just kidding (though the deal is real).

2500 2Nd St, Reno, NV 89595 - Home For Sale and Real Estate Listing - realtor.comŽ
That is funny I actually gave it a thought a few years ago as a few of them pop up occasionally, as I like to ski and sports bet. But there is also an additional hotel charge of $600 a month, too. You would definitely have to get in the rental program to absorb those monthly costs. I also believe they still have a policy there at the Grand Sierra that you can only live 28 consecutive days in it. I have rented a few of those out, and there is no way I could live in them permanently even if allowed. The walls would close in on me after a few days.
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Old 06-18-2013, 10:46 AM   #74
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That is funny I actually gave it a thought a few years ago as a few of them pop up occasionally, as I like to ski and sports bet. But there is also an additional hotel charge of $600 a month, too. You would definitely have to get in the rental program to absorb those monthly costs. I also believe they still have a policy there at the Grand Sierra that you can only live 28 consecutive days in it. I have rented a few of those out, and there is no way I could live in them permanently even if allowed. The walls would close in on me after a few days.
Aaah, so it's not quite as good a deal as I thought. That figures.

Even though at first, I thought it was something of an indulgent dream to live in a casino, I have to agree that it would feel very limiting after a while.
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Old 06-18-2013, 11:03 AM   #75
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Aaah, so it's not quite as good a deal as I thought. That figures.

Even though at first, I thought it was something of an indulgent dream to live in a casino, I have to agree that it would feel very limiting after a while.
They are nice, though, and they have really upgraded the casino. The pool is in fine shape, too. It would make a great conversation if you could live there full time, saying "I bought a no money down condo and my mortgage payment is $140 a month. But the bad news is I am paying $650 a month in fees.
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Old 06-18-2013, 05:05 PM   #76
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Aaah, so it's not quite as good a deal as I thought. That figures.

Even though at first, I thought it was something of an indulgent dream to live in a casino, I have to agree that it would feel very limiting after a while.
Sort of the common man's version of Howard Hughes.
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Old 06-18-2013, 06:51 PM   #77
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Sort of the common man's version of Howard Hughes.
And believe me, I could be very common once I had a few of those casino happy-hour deals inside me
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Old 06-18-2013, 07:45 PM   #78
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We drank them slowly as the last rays of weak golden sunlight filtered in through the trees and into the window, had great conversation, and both marveled at how wonderful it was to be alive, and in each other's presence - and all for only $2.99 a bottle

It sounds to me like you have a wonderful life and that you truly appreciate the simple things in life. Contentment is a terrific thing.
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Old 06-19-2013, 09:55 AM   #79
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comicbookgujy, have you thought about looking into Ecuador or Panama, or even Thailand? I have known a few expat retirees who have been able to retire in countries (several offer incentives to retiring expats with that kind of money).

I know it may not be your cup of tea, but I have always thought of doing that once we make it to a million. With the incentives programs, plus my own interest I think it could be very doable. I would want to work part time to keep some money coming in, but that would only be because I would go crazy doing nothing all day. Hopefully it would be something I actually loved doing though. Later in the more 'elderly' retired phase I might look to move back to my home country. We have been expats for a decade though, so I might be a bit more open to it than most.
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Old 06-19-2013, 10:32 AM   #80
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We DID... We're 43 & 49 and have $1 mil total of taxed / deferred (almost 50/50). We generate 75-90% in general and went to Coastal Mexico to live for now. DW wants to w*rk 10-15 hrs to keep busy. Me, don't want to, but doing 10-20 isn't killing me.

DW will get $900/mo in 6 yrs if we need to.

One person does reduced reduce the risk and health insurance is less to worry about now Imo. SS I figured 50% of what "they" say.

Our expenses are currently $2500-3000 down here, living comfortably but frugally. We were living in LA, CA on $4k/mo for reference. Most of our $ is in super conservative places.
I'm not sure that a couple with a million is the same as an individual with 500K, though an in-depth discussion of budgets, with numbers would be interesting. If you are both disciplined, you're in a better position than an individual with 500K (housing costs, for example). That said, my situation wasn't directly applicable to the OP either, as I ESR'ed with a little more than 500K (between 600 and 640K IIRC).

Excuse me if I'm being dumb (I probably am), but what does "We generate 75-90% in general" mean? I know that can't possibly mean that you generate a return of 75-90% on your investments. It must be something obvious that I'm missing.
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