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Old 08-18-2010, 04:56 PM   #21
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Have you ever considered owning rental property? Although many do not choose this option, it could be a good way to boost your retirement income. If you were to purchase a multifamily unit (4-6 units), you could potentially speed up the date you are able to retire. Here's an example:

You purchase a 5 unit building for $500,000. Rent the units for approx $900/month each. Your mortgage payment is $2500/month. Put away $1000/month to cover maintenance costs,insurance, and savings for unexpected costs. After all is said and done, take the extra $1000/month and put it toward the mortgage.

If you continuously increase rent according to inflation, say every 2 years, and put the extra amount toward the mortgage, you could have the place paid off in 10-15 years. At that time, you could sell the property for about $700K or continue to manage the place for the inflation equivalent of $3,500/month after expenses. These numbers are very simplistic obviously but just trying to give you an idea that this could be a financially self sustaining addition to your retirement plan.

This is in addition of course to your savings you would continue to do from you and your wife's j*bs. The combination of the two could easily let you retire. Not everyone is up to being a landlord though so you will have to decide that for yourself. Just my $.02
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Old 08-19-2010, 01:38 PM   #22
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All I did was added the OP's total Debt and total Savings that were provided. I'm not including his dwelling, because he needs to live somewhere.
Aida, That doesn't work. If you exclude the value of his "dwelling" then you can't deduct his mortgage as debt. You're effectively trying to tally his house as debt and leaving out the fact that it's an asset that has value. Based off the information he's provided, his net worth is substantially higher than $40k whether you include the dwelling or not.

Op, you are on the right track to retire at some point but honestly haven't given enough information to even guess when you could retire. We would need all your assets and liabilities as well as your current and complete retirement strategy. Regardless of what people say, owning a home is an investment. We're just not sure if it's a good investment, bad investment, or something that shouldn't be factored in to your retirement at all. You would need to provide more information.

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Old 08-19-2010, 02:06 PM   #23
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Aida, That doesn't work. If you exclude the value of his "dwelling" then you can't deduct his mortgage as debt. You're effectively trying to tally his house as debt and leaving out the fact that it's an asset that has value. Based off the information he's provided, his net worth is substantially higher than $40k whether you include the dwelling or not.

Op, you are on the right track to retire at some point but honestly haven't given enough information to even guess when you could retire. We would need all your assets and liabilities as well as your current and complete retirement strategy. Regardless of what people say, owning a home is an investment. We're just not sure if it's a good investment, bad investment, or something that shouldn't be factored in to your retirement at all. You would need to provide more information. Owasso
Yes, I do see your point, but let's just agree to disagree whether to include house or not in one's net worth.
I'll just outline the way I think, but not to try to prove that you're right or wrong.
Yes, I'm aware that many people buy house as an investment especially in the past. So, yes, if there's a big profit after its sale and NOT used for the next house, then it adds to the net worth, that's LIQUID but if it's tied in the next house, I don't consider it net worth. What if a person paid ZERO down or he's got very little equity?? What if its value is less than it was purchased for or it's less than its morgaged for? What about people who bought houses in the peak of the housing boom, but later had to shortsell them or got foreclosed on them. I don't see it as an investment in such cases. The mortgage payment is like a rent to me for today and going forward until it's paid off. I chose to have a house, but instead I could have leased an apartment.
Anyway, some 'experts' include house in calculating one's net worth, but others don't and I side with the latter UNLESS you purchased as an investment and you PROFIT from it and that profit will not be used for the next dwelling. I purchased our house as a dwelling, not as an investment. When or if we sell it, I'll need that money for the next house to live in. If not to purchase I'll have to cover rent somehow.....sure my kids will profit when I kick the bucket.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:17 PM   #24
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Yes, I do see your point, but let's just agree to disagree whether to include house or not in one's net worth.
I'll just outline the way I think, but not to try to prove that you're right or wrong.
Yes, I'm aware that many people buy house as an investment especially in the past. So, yes, if there's a big profit after its sale and NOT used for the next house, then it adds to the net worth, that's LIQUID but if it's tied in the next house, I don't consider it net worth. What if a person paid ZERO down or he's got very little equity?? What if its value is less than it was purchased for or it's less than its morgaged for? What about people who bought houses in the peak of the housing boom, but later had to shortsell them or got foreclosed on them. I don't see it as an investment in such cases. The mortgage payment is like a rent to me for today and going forward until it's paid off. I chose to have a house, but instead I could have leased an apartment.
Anyway, some 'experts' include house in calculating one's net worth, but others don't and I side with the latter UNLESS you purchased as an investment and you PROFIT from it and that profit will not be used for the next dwelling. I purchased our house as a dwelling, not as an investment. When or if we sell it, I'll need that money for the next house to live in. If not to purchase I'll have to cover rent somehow.....sure my kids will profit when I kick the bucket.
There are good reasons to include a house in net worth and good reasons not to include it in net worth. That's why I'm not arguing about whether or not to include it. However, I will say that if you make smart decisions related to home ownership, over the long run, you will not lose money....period. Still doesn't mean it was a "good" investment.

You are using net worth and investment interchangeably and they are not. A home is an investment, whether one considers it such or not. It may be a good investment or it may be a bad investment...you won't know that for sure until you no longer own it.

I'm not trying to be snide but I don't understand how your questions above pertain to the discussion really. It's true that we all need shelter. And whether you own a home or rent, you are going to have a payment. And there are people that do a short-sale either because they've made poor decisions or have decided to cut their loses. Doesn't change the fact that owning a home is an investment. Bottom line, you can't include a persons outstanding mortgage and exclude a value for the mortgaged property when calculating net worth. It's not really something to argue about...I don't think you'll find any professional that would calculate net worth like that.
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Old 08-19-2010, 05:47 PM   #25
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I'm don't get it. You seem to have been saving well and have $200,000 accumulated. Your debt is low and reasonable. You make $140,000 a year but only manage to save $18,000 with that kind of debt. Unless you paid off a significant portion of that house already, your payment can't be that high. Same with the car. You say you don't live an extravagant lifestyle, but your implied spending on stuff besides house, car, college and savings seems pretty high.

Not calling you out, but what are you spending all that money on? Are your house and car payments really high, but you have paid the balance way down? If not, are you eating lobster every night and wearing Armani suits to work in the yard? Something is missing from your description of you finances and spending. At first blush, you have a lot of catching up to do and a lot of discretionary income to do it with.
DreamingBig, don't be discouraged and do take the above comments in the helpful spirit in which they were intended. It is good advice.

It's very important to track your current expenses. Many people who think that they don't spend much are surprised to find out that actually there is substantial 'leakage'. See e.g. 50 year old lawyer seeks enlightenment as to ER, where the o/p initially described himself and his wife as frugal, but upon closer inspection learned that his family's annual expenses were more than double the amount he had estimated.

I second flyfishnevada's recommendation of Your Money or Your Life.
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Old 08-19-2010, 07:37 PM   #26
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Have you ever considered owning rental property? Although many do not choose this option, it could be a good way to boost your retirement income. If you were to purchase a multifamily unit (4-6 units), you could potentially speed up the date you are able to retire.

Oh, Oh, Oh..... be very careful with this one. Unless you love being a land lord and you enjoy fixing things that are broken, and dealing with stupid clueless tenants, etc., this may not work out at all for you.

I have one rental in a resort area. I only have it because I need it to pay the mortgage. The rental is on my retirement house. When I bought the property with more than 20% down my mortgage was 6.02, and I was paying about $1400 in mortgage, 200 in taxes, and 125 in insurance per month. My renters gave me $1000 a month, and they paid untilities. In the first year, I replace the hot water heater for $600, $1000 worth of plumbing issues, and the cookstove for $600. In the second year I replaced the dishwasher, and had another $400 in plumbing issues as well as electrical issues. Before they even moved in I had to put in about $4200 in heating equipment.

I live in fear of a major problem with the well, or the septic system.

This year I got new renters. The old renters tore up the carpet because they said it was musty and put it in the garage with my permission, but now it is musty, so I have to go up and put pergo down for about $1000, which would be about $2000 if I had to pay someone to do it. The toilet mechanism in the bathroom has died twice to the tune of $55 each. On and on it goes.

My brother used to be a landlord and got out of it since it was nickel and diming him to death along with the occasional multiple Franklin. He now is a very large rental management company of more than 500 properties, and he deals with the renters.

There is nothing easy streak about owning rentals unless you are very very frugal, very very smart, and have a skin as hard as diamond.

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Old 08-19-2010, 07:58 PM   #27
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. dealing with stupid clueless tenants


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Old 08-20-2010, 12:07 AM   #28
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Just as a general hint, not specific to any one particular poster, some of you are rediscovering (for the very first time) soil which has been exceedingly thoroughly plowed and perhaps overly fertilized.

Those of you with one or two digits in your post counts may wish to review the FAQ Archives (Early Retirement FAQs - Early Retirement & Financial Independence Community) and search for a few of your favorite keywords.

(FAQ archive) Landlording/Real Estate Investment

(FAQ archive) Should I pay off the mortgage or invest the money?

(FAQ archive): Bernstein's "Retirement Calculator from Hell" articles
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:50 AM   #29
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All I did was added the OP's total Debt and total Savings that were provided. I'm not including his dwelling, because he needs to live somewhere.
Umm...you can't count the liability (what is owed on the house) and not count the value of the asset.

I could live with not including either the asset or the liability in net worth, however, you can't cherry pick and just include the liability without including the asset.

To give an example: Let's say some has $500000 cash and a mortage of $500,000. You're message says that the net worth is zero even if the house is worth $50,000,000. Like I say, I can see the argument not to include the house at all but it is misleading to include only the debt and not the asset.
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Old 08-20-2010, 08:06 AM   #30
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Umm...you can't count the liability (what is owed on the house) and not count the value of the asset.

I could live with not including either the asset or the liability in net worth, however, you can't cherry pick and just include the liability without including the asset.

To give an example: Let's say some has $500000 cash and a mortage of $500,000. You're message says that the net worth is zero even if the house is worth $50,000,000. Like I say, I can see the argument not to include the house at all but it is misleading to include only the debt and not the asset.
What about if the same house is worth $200K instead? So, I sell the house and give $200K to the bank. I'm still $300K on the hook (so cash goes down to $200K) and I need to buy another house (hopefully cheaper this time).
Yes, I DO I DO understand your and Owasso's points and I agree with you both. I guess, I'm going to withdraw from this particular argument about the dwelling, because I can dig myself into a deeper hole. All I'm saying is that I personally do not include it in my net worth. Perhaps I am very wrong to think this way but I've done this since the housing market burst... I thought "well, many houses are like new cars now. Its value is much less than a loan, but I still have to make the loan payments".
So, OK, to make peace with you, I can add another $100K ($140 total), for his net worth. How better is it considering their income?

OTOH, we all add to this thread, but where's the OP?
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:02 AM   #31
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All I'm saying is that I personally do not include [the value of my house] in my net worth.
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

With apologies to the Princess Bride, "net worth" has a very specific and clearly-defined definition: assets - liabilities.

That's it. Just because you happen to live in one of your particular assets doesn't mean you don't include it. You include your car, even though you drive it to work. You include your cash, even though some of it is going to go to paying bills later this month. You include all assets and all liabilities. That's what "net worth" is.

What you're calculating is not "net worth." It's something else entirely. If you hadn't called it "net worth" from the start, we wouldnt' be having this argument. The problem is not your choice to consider housing mandatory, the problem was your misuse of the word "net worth."
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Old 08-20-2010, 10:11 AM   #32
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

With apologies to the Princess Bride, "net worth" has a very specific and clearly-defined definition: assets - liabilities.

That's it. Just because you happen to live in one of your particular assets doesn't mean you don't include it. You include your car, even though you drive it to work. You include your cash, even though some of it is going to go to paying bills later this month. You include all assets and all liabilities. That's what "net worth" is.

What you're calculating is not "net worth." It's something else entirely. If you hadn't called it "net worth" from the start, we wouldnt' be having this argument. The problem is not your choice to consider housing mandatory, the problem was your misuse of the word "net worth."
"Net worth" has been the subject of frequent discussion over the years. A few examples:

Calculating your net worth
Net Worth - Adjusting for Taxes?
Poll: Components of net worth
How do YOU figure your Net Worth

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Old 08-20-2010, 11:08 AM   #33
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I also choose to exclude the value of my house in my net worth calculation, but have no quibble with those who do (while it is true that one has to live somewhere, it is also correct that downsizing to a small home or rented accomodation is always an option).

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Umm...you can't count the liability (what is owed on the house) and not count the value of the asset.

I could live with not including either the asset or the liability in net worth, however, you can't cherry pick and just include the liability without including the asset.
Presumably most people on this board paid off their mortgages some time ago ... in which case the issue of a corresponding liability has no application.

Anyway, it is not really worth debating. Include the home or not, as you see fit. No one has to justify their approach.
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Old 08-20-2010, 11:48 AM   #34
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DreamingBig, don't be discouraged and do take the above comments in the helpful spirit in which they were intended. It is good advice.

It's very important to track your current expenses. Many people who think that they don't spend much are surprised to find out that actually there is substantial 'leakage'. See e.g. 50 year old lawyer seeks enlightenment as to ER, where the o/p initially described himself and his wife as frugal, but upon closer inspection learned that his family's annual expenses were more than double the amount he had estimated.

I second flyfishnevada's recommendation of Your Money or Your Life.
Ya, if my post came off as cranky, that wasn't my intention. I was just trying to point out that spending can trip us up, many times with out even realizing it. It may seem that you are spending wisely, but we thought so too until we really examined out spending. Then we found things we could easily do without. A month is a long time. It's easy to lose track of your spending if you aren't tracking it well. Those bigger discretionary purchases stack up and pretty soon all your money is gone.

One thing we did was track our bigger outlays of cash and spread them out. For instance, last month we had both vehicle registrations so we took it easy on other stuff. This month its school stuff for the kids. Next month is kind of free from scheduled expenditures so we are going to purchase the plane tickets for our trip to Jamaica in March. We aren't really spending less, just spending it wisely and spreading it out so we don't end up short. It also causes us to think more about what we are buying. We have changed out minds on several large purchases just because by the time we got around to buying them, we discovered we just didn't want them as much anymore.
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Old 08-20-2010, 12:48 PM   #35
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I also choose to exclude the value of my house in my net worth calculation, but have no quibble with those who do (while it is true that one has to live somewhere, it is also correct that downsizing to a small home or rented accomodation is always an option).

Presumably most people on this board paid off their mortgages some time ago ... in which case the issue of a corresponding liability has no application.

Anyway, it is not really worth debating. Include the home or not, as you see fit. No one has to justify their approach.
I Agree it is perfectly reasonable not to include the house in net worth. I was merely taking issue with someone deducting the liability which the OP has from OP's net worth without including the value of the house.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:20 PM   #36
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Some fun sites to check out...

Choose to SaveŽ for a "ballpark" estimate of what you'll have to spend in retirement given your savings

The figure is another estimate of where you need to be relative to retirement.
Sheesh. Using Quicken's retirement planner we continue not to be able to afford to live till 93 - our plan fails at 89. The gal's Mom is 95 now, so we need to plan for an extended period I figure. Choose to Save says we have 129% of our required amount. Given that our holdings are in exotic investments like rentals Firecalc is of no help. Maybe I can call Suzy Orman and ask her if we are ok and have her permission to buy a comic book and some candy.

Count on yourself; more and more I am aware that real estate agents, financial planners, landlords, lawyers, dentists - everyone! - is driven by self interest first.
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Old 08-20-2010, 02:30 PM   #37
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Thanks all for the advice and ideas. Although, I think I will stay out of the rental property business, fixing and repairing things is not my strong point.

I realize I was rather vague in my info, but being new to this I didn't fully realize all the info that I should have included. Yes, we make a good combined salary, and yes I agree we probably should have more saved. Instead, we paid of hefty student loans (wife is a Dr.) rather quickly, 8 years before we had to. So, we just recently over the past 3 years have been able to get serious about really wanting to retire early and save. We've accumulated most of our savings in the past 3-5 years.

I only recently discovered the site, and read it daily. Great advice that only makes me want to save more and work harder to retire early with sufficient funding to do so. Hope to be able to leave the work force around 50-55.....we'll see.

We have increased our 401K withholdings over the past week, and are putting money into our Roth's monthly, instead of annually. Idea is to put atleast $3500.00 - $5000.00 for each of us annually.

Thanks again for all the advice.
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:09 PM   #38
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You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

With apologies to the Princess Bride, "net worth" has a very specific and clearly-defined definition: assets - liabilities.

What you're calculating is not "net worth." It's something else entirely. If you hadn't called it "net worth" from the start, we wouldnt' be having this argument. The problem is not your choice to consider housing mandatory, the problem was your misuse of the word "net worth."
YEP, you nailed it - WRONG TERMINOLOGY on my part . After posting my most recent post, I tried different variations in my head to change the "net worth" to something else as regards to what I was trying to say, because I'm familiar with the balance sheet definitions (A - L = E) .
Maybe it's more appropriate to say 'savings' in a broad sense. But might be wrong again, who knows. E.g. we've got a house and no mortgage. It's wonderful, assets (and equity) are way up, BUT it's just subliminal to me. We sell it and buy another house: got a house, no money. So, I don't know how to call it, but it's definitely not on our retirement sheet.
I tried to find some articles where I was picking my ideas, but I failed . Generally speaking, my ideas come from here (it's changed a bit since I visited last time) AnalyzeNow, Retirement Planning (one of the articles is in Helpful Articles --> Planning, Pre-Retirement --> Are your retirement savings on track?)
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Old 08-20-2010, 03:17 PM   #39
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I realize I was rather vague in my info, but being new to this I didn't fully realize all the info that I should have included. Yes, we make a good combined salary, and yes I agree we probably should have more saved. Instead, we paid of hefty student loans (wife is a Dr.) rather quickly, 8 years before we had to. So, we just recently over the past 3 years have been able to get serious about really wanting to retire early and save. We've accumulated most of our savings in the past 3-5 years.
Well, now reading this piece of information I can tell that you're doing great because I was making assumptions that maybe you started saving at 25. This piece clarifies why you're where you're today and it changes my opinion I posted initially on this thread.
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Old 08-22-2010, 07:55 PM   #40
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IMO, you are doing fairly well so far. However with that income level and IF you are really serious about FIRE, then you should try and save much more than you are doing already. This will get you used to living on less (I am assuming that you spend what you don't save T/F?)

I would shoot for 50% savings, You're currently at about 18%. $70K is nothing to sneeze at. 50% for living expenses including all taxes. All salary increases (if those still exist) should be immediately put into the plan.

We have been successfully FIREd for a bit over 3 years. We 'pressed the button' at the absolute worse time (check recent historical economic history). We had an income around where you are and had saved about 50% of it for the last few years. I credit the 'success' to having over-engineered our FIRE fund portfolio. Not exactly by design, but more by accident (my goal was to retire after 30 years with Megacorp, which I did). I also was one of the lucky (few now) ones that have a pension (non-cola'ed though) and have funds that throw off enough to add to the pension, which is enough to live off of (with significant travel included). We have not had to take down any of the principal (the market had done a fine enough job at that for us). Our swr is just a bit over 1%. So these are the advantages of over-engineering ones FIRE portfolio. In the absolute worse of all financial markets since we FIREd, we are relatively stress free (after rationalizing the huge drop in 2008, ...etc.).

Note: I have adjusted our AA (now 40/60 instead of 60/40) to ensure that dw has a better chance of sleeping at night since our portfolio has recovered a bit (still about 10% down from the top, but that's life).

In any case, you are well on your way. You have the opportunity to make it happen. Best of luck to you.
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