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What a difference 3+ years makes
Old 05-11-2011, 01:14 PM   #1
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What a difference 3+ years makes

According to that ol' box thingy on the right, I last logged in 10-02-2007. So, I don't imagine many remember / "know" me. But, I thought an update (as a way of checking in) was in order.

In the last three in a half years, we moved to Michigan (so a big hi to any other Michiganders, especially if you're mid-state!). We both quit our high-paying megacorp jobs with the move here. DW hasn't been working for about a year now and I'm making about 65% less (including the loss of a 401(k) + match, generous group health insurance, bonuses, etc). But, I'm working from home which has been pretty agreeable (window open, birds singing, breeze blowing in).

We own dirt now and so are starting a garden. We heard that you're supposed to start small and grow as you learn. So, we're ignoring conventional wisdom (of course). Once it's all said and done, we'll have about 2000 square feet planted, maybe a little more. We've started about 600 seedlings indoors; not bad for beginners I'd say... some small failures and lessoned learned of course, and lots more to learn!

Unfortunately, we're way off track against our retirement plan. We need to sit down and re-evaluate that and get it back in the right direction (which means I'll be bugging you all again). I'm 33 now, DW is 32. No kids. Just over $210k in retirement accounts (split between both of our rollover IRAs and a little in a 403(b)). Bulk of that money is in two Vanguard Target Retirement 2050 funds (pulling an Uncle Mick and lying about my age )
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:33 PM   #2
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Interesting question that actually makes me feel good. If I project out 3 years here where I will be:

Good: Retired 1 year 1 month and 12 day (now who's counting)
DW retired 1 year 11 months (good for her)
House finally paid off
3 years closer to SS

Bad: will be 59 going on 60 (I know it's just a number but ...)
Probably have a few more aches and pains
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:43 PM   #3
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Unfortunately, we're way off track against our retirement plan.
I take it that offtrack means offtrack in the wrong direction versus the correct direction lol?

Beeing a similar age as yourself the ability to retire would be wonderfull but for now it's mostly me dreaming the dream.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:48 PM   #4
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I take it that offtrack means offtrack in the wrong direction versus the correct direction lol?

Beeing a similar age as yourself the ability to retire would be wonderfull but for now it's mostly me dreaming the dream.
Right, the loss of 65% of our income (with lower, but not 65% lower, living expenses) definitely put us... if not on a train going the opposite direction... at least a train with the engine hooked up wrong.

But, we're closer to our family now and, it turns out, we actually like our relatives. Even my mother-in-law is pretty awesome! (apparently they drug the water here to have me saying things like that).

I'm dreaming the dream too. Was shooting for retiring in my late 40's but it's time to see when I'll go from dreaming to living.
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Old 05-11-2011, 02:28 PM   #5
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It's a very brave decision you made. It is hard to take a big paycut but at the same time quality of life is important. I too believe that what's important is now and not how early you retire.

Read a study once where it discusses what makes a person happy. Money will make you happy up to your necessities. After that, marginal happiness is very small. What makes that marginal happiness go up is relationship, goals, and one other factor I can't remember.
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Old 05-12-2011, 08:43 AM   #6
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Hi Webzter - it sounds like you have made some great life choices! In the past few years, I, too, took a step back and re-evaluated. Partly with the realization that I couldn't retire from my fed job before my MRA, due to the uncertainty that would throw into my health care costs, I determined that I didn't need to save nearly as much money as I was, because I'd be working an extra 5 years and then have good health care coverage.

So, instead, we bought a cabin in the mountains in WVA, which added another mortgage to our debt. It stung at first, but you know what? We are out at the cabin almost every weekend, and we absolutely love it. I wouldn't change the decision for anything.

So, good luck, and enjoy. You have learned one of life's important lessons: balance.
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Old 05-12-2011, 10:00 AM   #7
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Welcome back! My wife and I escaped MI in 07' for Virginia due to my need for a job. We hope to retire or semi-retire back in MI at least by 2017. We have a lot of family in the metro D area.
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Old 05-12-2011, 04:33 PM   #8
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Ok you may have gone off track financially, but do you think what you have gained by way of quality of life compensates?
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Old 05-12-2011, 05:02 PM   #9
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I'm working from home which has been pretty agreeable (window open, birds singing, breeze blowing in).
Working for yourself or someone else? If I could work from home, for myself, on my own schedule, I'd be more than okay with reduced pay. It would be like being semi-retired. I just haven't found an opportunity that suits me for at home work but it sounds like you have and at only age 33. If you can make enough to cover your bills then you're set. Well done.
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:52 AM   #10
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Ok you may have gone off track financially, but do you think what you have gained by way of quality of life compensates?
Very true. I wouldn't put a cash value on living 5 miles away from a grandpa and grandma in their 70's that we enjoy dearly but it's been worth the trade-off (not to mention, my folks are just 3 hours away instead of 15)

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Working for yourself or someone else?
For someone else... for now. In IT (I'm a programmer), I think you're always planning on your next move, even if it's just a subconscious thought. I'm not sure how long the ride will last, but I'm enjoying it while I can!
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Old 05-13-2011, 09:53 AM   #11
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Welcome back! My wife and I escaped MI in 07' for Virginia due to my need for a job. We hope to retire or semi-retire back in MI at least by 2017. We have a lot of family in the metro D area.
Michigan is definitely a bring your own job kind of state right now! See you in 2017. I'll bring beer and help unload the moving truck.
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Old 05-16-2011, 02:07 PM   #12
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Hello fellow Michigander; we are in NW lower. We tried the garden routine too but couldn't find the time to do it justice. This year for the first time we are joining a co-op farm where we just go and pick up a box of fresh produce every week. It's a bit spendy but hopefully the trade off in quality of produce and quality of life / free time is worth it.
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Old 05-16-2011, 09:38 PM   #13
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Hello fellow Michigander; we are in NW lower. We tried the garden routine too but couldn't find the time to do it justice. This year for the first time we are joining a co-op farm where we just go and pick up a box of fresh produce every week. It's a bit spendy but hopefully the trade off in quality of produce and quality of life / free time is worth it.

Hi neighbor!

We were part of a CSA in Minneapolis and enjoyed it. If you actually eat/trade most everything in the box then you do come out ahead versus what you'd be spending on similar quality/variety. If you're not 100% in control over what's in the box (I know some CSAs offer this, our's didn't) then I'd highly, highly recommend a book like From Asparagus to Zucchini (Amazon.com: From Asparagus to Zucchini: A Guide to Cooking Farm-Fresh Seasonal Produce (9780972121781): Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition: Books). I always thought I was an adventurous cook but sometimes it was a scramble to figure out what to do with the stuff in the box (first time I was in trouble was when the burdock root showed up).

You might also consider just an 8x4 raised bed garden intensively planted with stuff you eat lots of (we have several just for potatoes!) Intensive plantings do take much less time (less watering, less weeding) and might be a fun way to dip your toe back in.
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