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Glimpse of a different life
Old 11-01-2007, 06:45 PM   #1
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Glimpse of a different life

DW and I recently took a two-week vacation. MIL (reitired) and SIL came over to visit for a week before and after, and to watch the house and dogs while we were away.

WOW!!!

DW and I both work, and have both worked since our marriage, in fairly demanding careers. We come home after a hard days w*rk, cooking/cleaning/miscellaneous life tasks like taking the car in for inspection are not high on the list. As a dedicated LBYMer, I'm ashamed to admit that sometimes bills don't get paid on time simply because the paperwork gets (physically) buried, and we have to pay fees.

Come home from w*rk, the house is clean and non-cluttered, delicious smells coming from the kitchen, MIL mentions "Oh, I weeded part of the natural area and planted some flowers". But she's doing it as part of her normal day, puttering around, doing things at a comfortable pace.

Oh, and the dogs were THRILLED at all the attention.

Last year, for the first time, I hired a lawn mowing service. I was travelling every week for almost a year, Sunday through Friday, and the last thing I wanted to do with my day-and-a-half home was mow the lawn.

Maybe down-shifting and delaying ER is the right move for us - or DW could quit now and handle those things, while I continue on the same career path (DW enthusiastically endorses this plan! ) - or - well, I don't know - but I DO know that the grind is wearing us thin.
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Old 11-01-2007, 07:21 PM   #2
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My sympathies. I did that for decades.

I would recommend that you set up autopay for your bills. Generally it can be done on line and it sure saves a lot of hassle and occasional penalties, especially with greedy credit card companies.
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Old 11-01-2007, 08:08 PM   #3
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TickTock: That's my favorite thing about vacations, except usually I get the glimpse from where I GO. Congratulations on the home spruce-up.
Before DH and I ERed the household chores were a grind for us too, and didn't always get done. OK, let's say our home decorating theme was "chaos". Some things that helped:

-crockpot (slow cooker) started in the morning so there was a hot meal waiting when we got home. I assembled ingredients the night before, stored in plastic in the frig.
-have bills paid automatically from our credit card. Works for most utilities and a few other things. I just call up the company and give them my CC number. Saves time, hassle and stamps and racks up those mileage points for future vacations!

Now we still don't get ALL the chores done, but who really cares? Martha Stewart does not live here. We're too busy enjoying ourselves.
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Old 11-01-2007, 10:11 PM   #4
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I DO know that the grind is wearing us thin.
My partner and I are feeling it too. We both turned 50 this year. We commute together one hour each way. We live in Oregon on 3 acres.

The growth rate in Oregon is incredible. The blackberries can over take a house in a few years. The lawn is not like a nice suburban lawn at all. We don't mow all three acres, but I'd guess we mow 3/4 acre.

Since May we've been working to get the house ready to sell. I just don't feel I have the energy to keep it maintained. We're thinking of buying a townhouse in the city to cut our commute and yard work.

I'll miss the privacy and beautiful setting, but not all the work and certainly not the commute.
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Old 11-02-2007, 07:28 AM   #5
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I'm a procrastinator. Stuff piled up when I worked long hours, stuff piles up now that I am ERd. I always have something more important to do than whatever is piling up. At least now I feel like I will have unlimited time to to get at the pile if I decide get around to it.
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:17 AM   #6
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travelover and toofrugalformy cat,

For the last couple of years, I balked at online bill pay, as our credit union charges $3.95 per month for it. Now I think I was being penny-wise and pound-foolish, as the stamps plus one mistake and late fee per year wipes it out. Also, I now judge it a good value for the price.

MIL has all her bills going to her credit card (with her approval before they're paid), and then pays the credit card from her bank. That way she gets more points on the credit card.

Okay, I'm gonna do it! I put "set up online bill pay" on my written to-do list. Thanks for giving the nudge that put me over the top!
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:26 AM   #7
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For the last couple of years, I balked at online bill pay, as our credit union charges $3.95 per month for it. Now I think I was being penny-wise and pound-foolish, as the stamps plus one mistake and late fee per year wipes it out. Also, I now judge it a good value for the price.
Is it always $3.95 a month no matter what? My CU has a $4 monthly charge for online bill pay, but they take $2 off for direct deposit and another $2 for electing online statements instead of mailed statements, so in effect it can be free.
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:36 AM   #8
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Why not get a cleaning lady ? Not sure where you live but we have these places that will prepare meals .You just pick them up and reheat . It's called "Thyme for dinner ".
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Old 11-02-2007, 10:05 AM   #9
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Not willing to pay for a cleaning lady. We do, however, have an iRobot Roomba cleaning robot, and the big Christmas present this year will be the Scooba floor washing robot.

Not willing to pay for dinner preparation, either. More just lamenting the lack of time, and looking forward to doing those things at a reasonable pace when ER'd!

I'll do the mowing and lawn fertilization myself once ER'd.

Hmmm, how much spending can I cut out of the ER budget?
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:45 AM   #10
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It's a common thought by many successful and wealthy people that if it costs less than you make per hour to do something, you're better off outsourcing it. This would seem to be dependent on being an hourly-based employee or biller (e.g. lawyer, accountant, etc...) but perhaps the principle holds true if it frees you up to spend your time on things you enjoy rather than chores. There is a line, however, in that if you outsource most of your chores, you'll never learn how to do them very well and can't oversee how someone else does them (i.e. making sure they do a good job).
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Old 11-02-2007, 11:52 AM   #11
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I have everything go to the credit card, no approval involved. I get emails when the charges are made, and I glance at them to make sure they are right. This method rocks.

Also, for example, for 10 years of having the health insurance go to the credit card, we will be getting $522 in "rewards" cash.
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:03 PM   #12
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How do you autopay your health insurance via credit card, Al? Is that something you setup on the insurance end or does your credit card provider offer a bill pay service?
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Old 11-02-2007, 12:08 PM   #13
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I've had everything autodebit from my checking account, except I have no way to have the credit card company's autobill me for the full balance. They'll take the minimum payment but thats it. So I have to manually pay those. The autodebits dont cost me a thing.

I'm missing some money on rebates for bypassing the credit cards, but after the third time i had to go to 15 web sites and update credit card numbers and expiration dates, I decided that exceeded the hundred bucks or so in rebates I'd get.

Plus i'm already exceeding the maximum annual rebates on 3 credit cards as it is.

(I know the penfed visa card is the best and has no limit, but I could barely use it. Sams club only takes mastercard and discover and costco only takes american express and those are 95% of my purchases)

Only thing I've had problems with was vendors failing at the autodebit and then trying to charge me late fees because they made a mistake. Which doesnt work for me by the way. My local water company took three tries to get it right, mostly because the department head had to authorize new banks and vanguard wasnt on their list, and it seems the department head wasnt in the mood until asked three times. Comcast failed several times and then attempted to drill me for late fees and reactivation fees for cable boxes I dont even have. Directv also missed on one month and did the debit a day late another time, and also tried to charge me late fees for their errancy.
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Old 11-02-2007, 03:51 PM   #14
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Not willing to pay for a cleaning lady. We do, however, have an iRobot Roomba cleaning robot, and the big Christmas present this year will be the Scooba floor washing robot.

Not willing to pay for dinner preparation, either. More just lamenting the lack of time, and looking forward to doing those things at a reasonable pace when ER'd!

I'll do the mowing and lawn fertilization myself once ER'd.

Hmmm, how much spending can I cut out of the ER budget?
The meal preparation is freakin' awesome. We use Let's Dish. You can either go prepare the food yourself, take it home, and put it freezer; or you can have them prepare the food, take it home, and put it freezer. DW did the calculations, and it was something like $4-5 per serving, which wasn't too bad. Plus, the food is pretty good. Definitely consider it.

- Alec
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Old 11-02-2007, 04:06 PM   #15
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How do you autopay your health insurance via credit card, Al? Is that something you setup on the insurance end or does your credit card provider offer a bill pay service?
On the insurance end. I just called Blue Cross California and gave them the credit card number.

PG&E only does it through a checking account, and it goes through VanguardAdvantage. Water is paid to a neighbor who runs the neighborhood well, so that's an online check payment (VA again). Telephone (AT&T and Kallcents) and propane charges automatically go to the CC as do my monthly Renner cardlock station gasoline bills.

My computer reminds me to pay the CC bill each month, and I can download and categorize/track all transactions.

This really is an improvement in quality of life, and was instigated by posters on this forum. Well worth the risk that AT&T will charge me $45,000 by mistake.
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Old 11-02-2007, 04:24 PM   #16
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Well worth the risk that AT&T will charge me $45,000 by mistake.
I have paid all my bills except insurance online for over 5 years. None of them have been off by even a penny. Be brave!

The added quality of life has been amazing. No more worrying about bills (since I LBYM anyway), no more late fees, no more "oops, I forgot" due to CRS. The latter advantage is wonderful for those of us over 55 years old who occasionally forget things. The payments proceed very smoothly, and all show up when I check my bank account online, so I can check the amounts easily from one centralized place. They don't withdraw the money until they need it, so I suppose I save an infinitesimal amount in interest.

When I moved into my house, I turned off the automatic payments relative to my apartment at both ends... both at the electric company (or gas company, or phone company, or whatever), and at my bank. It seemed to work quite nicely though some companies want a month or two notice.
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Old 11-02-2007, 04:46 PM   #17
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I don't know if this is CRS or poor Quicken interface design, but every month I have to use my cheat sheet for downloading transactions:
Download transactions

Accept the Prime MM transactions first, like this:

In Prime MM, click on transaction, then choose to edit it. Set proceeds to go Vanguard Advantage Checking

In Vanguard Advantage Checking, you'll see two transactions for every check. One is the Sweep to brokerage, and will match the transfer that you set up above (amount in black). The other is the check itself (amount in red), and should match a transaction if you entered it ahead of time. Accept both.

If you didn't enter it ahead of time, edit the transaction.

Note that PG&E will have a transaction, and there will be one for Mastercard.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:31 PM   #18
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The meal preparation is freakin' awesome. We use Let's Dish. You can either go prepare the food yourself, take it home, and put it freezer; or you can have them prepare the food, take it home, and put it freezer. DW did the calculations, and it was something like $4-5 per serving, which wasn't too bad. Plus, the food is pretty good. Definitely consider it.
ats5g,

Oh, we have considered it. We just judge that we wouldn't get enough value out of it for us to do so.

I recently began reading Your Money Or Your Life. We didn't do their 'is this purchase in line with your values and does it give you good value to you for the money spent' explicity, but we did generally consider that any dollar spent is a dollar not saved/not available for another purchase. So we judge that the extra money above what cooking at home would cost us is not worth the time it takes.

Someone else can easily make the opposite judgement for them. And we'd both be right.
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Old 11-02-2007, 05:46 PM   #19
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Here's an example: both DW and I get massages once a month. Now, we both have a reputation for being tightwads, but we don't consider that we deprive ourselves, and we do spend where we think we get good value for the money. We also happen to highly value ER, so what might seem like deprivation to someone else doesn't to us.

For me, I get so darn stressed (my masseuse once asked me, "Have you been in a car accident since last session?") and tense in my muscles that a massage is very relaxing for me. I think that once ER'd, most of that stress will go away, and I'll drop the massages. (Interestingly, during last massage after our vacation, I could feel a huge difference from previous massages - afterword it usually felt like someone had been whacking at me with a ball-peen hammer (in a good way, though ), but this felt completely different (and better ). I asked my masseuse if she felt any difference, and she said "You normally carry yourself so tightly that I spend most of my time breaking through that. This time you weren't tense.")

That was another BIG motivator for me to hasten the ER process.

For DW, a host of minor problems - headaches/irritability/minor pains - have pretty much vanished since she started the massages. I think she'll continue them in ER.


PS - on the tightwad reputation - a buddy of mine once asked, "Does a $20 bill actually cry when you take it out of your wallet?" I replied, "Don't know. Never tried."

Now, both of us were mostly joking, but you get the idea...
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Old 11-03-2007, 12:17 AM   #20
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travelover and toofrugalformy cat,

For the last couple of years, I balked at online bill pay, as our credit union charges $3.95 per month for it. Now I think I was being penny-wise and pound-foolish, as the stamps plus one mistake and late fee per year wipes it out. Also, I now judge it a good value for the price.

MIL has all her bills going to her credit card (with her approval before they're paid), and then pays the credit card from her bank. That way she gets more points on the credit card.

Okay, I'm gonna do it! I put "set up online bill pay" on my written to-do list. Thanks for giving the nudge that put me over the top!
All this talk of electronic billpay is interesting.

But for me, I still get a charge out of writing paper checks and mailing them. Keeps me for sure always on top of the bills and who is charging me what, and I don't have to go to a ton of different websites to figure out what I am paying for. Since most our miscellaneous purchases are done on credit card anyway, writing one check to pay credit card company is easy.

Besides, I like to balance my checkbook every month. And once every few years I like to select what design I want on a new order of checks.

Just call me one from the old school.
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