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Re: Another new guy
Old 06-29-2006, 08:12 PM   #21
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Re: Another new guy

In your original post you mentioned that your monthly costs are $4500 a consider this frugal?

I am 30 and also mortgage free and am spending approximately $1500 a month and I don't feel like I'm lacking anything at all.

Does your wife like shopping?
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Re: Another new guy
Old 06-29-2006, 08:34 PM   #22
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Re: Another new guy

I re-read that myself, and was somewhat surprised at that figure myself. So I spent part of today entering recent checkbook transactions into Quickbooks.

The last three months we spent $3300/month. That includes the BMW that is $650/month and what will go away quickly once we sell the business. And we got a nibble today! Hopefully something will come of that.

However, March was closer to $6500 (including $2k worth of taxes - $1240 of that was 1% annual local income tax). In January we replaced garage doors at $2k.

I really think that once the car is off the books we'll average closer to $3k per month. I guess at the time there were a lot of one -time expenses that were cropping up. And no, my wife doesn't enjoy shopping. I really need to finish the Quickbooks analysis to see our distribution of money. $300/mo in property taxes, $300/mo for martial arts (!), probably another $300 in utilties, water, sewer, another $150 in cable, Netflix, DSL; $200/mo in health insurance (HSA) premiums; $650/mo in food; $150/mo car insurance; $150/mo in gas. Probably other categories I'm missing as well, and then there are bigger purchases that get averaged in - furniture, electronics, vacations. I honestly do believe we're frugal compared to our income.
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Re: Another new guy
Old 06-30-2006, 04:42 AM   #23
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Re: Another new guy

Originally Posted by Kronk
Well, a month into ownership, the manager gave notice.

I'm a bit of a chance-taker by personality, but I think this experience is going to temper my enthusiasm for throwing large sums of money around. I'll probably still consider doing something business-wise, but I'll definitely be more cautious. Maybe in 15-20 years I'll open my own dojang if I'm still as into martial arts.
I've always felt that the value of any business is totally dependent on the key people who make it go (not always the senior people either). In our type of biz, buyers won't touch a company without the Founders and key employees signing up to stick around for at least a couple of years. I guess you normally wouldn't think of that in a Mom&Pop type business but it's probably just as important.

Sounds like your reasons for cutting the cord are good and like you say, maybe another try later in life. After my little business has run its course I'm looking at buying a small existing Mom&Pop biz in the location we want to semi-retire. Your experience has already taught me something.
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Re: Another new guy
Old 06-30-2006, 11:13 AM   #24
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Re: Another new guy

Well, I'm not sure how many conclusions you can really draw from our experience. I would expect that each business has its own challenges, and I wouldn't really figure that our challenges would be the same as you might find. And, no, I don't believe in this case the value of the business is dependent on the key people. The manager leaving meant DW had to spend time finding and training a replacement, who didn't end up doing as much as the original manager.

But there is a hefty component of the perceived value of the product itself. In this case, a bad employee might drive some members away, but I don't believe that has ever happened to us. It seems more to be a disinterest among the target demographic.

A franchise is easier than a solo operation. An existing business is easier than a start up. In our case, the existing franchise still equaled a heck of a lot of work.

Well, yesterday we did get a nibble. We'll be getting them to sign a nondisclosure and then we'll give them the financials next week. So hopefully something might come of it.
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Old 10-01-2007, 08:52 PM   #25
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Anyone remember me?

It really was too depressing to look at this board when our finances were going backwards. The value of the business kept dropping. And dropping. We finally sold the business as of July 1st -- we bought at $299,000 and sold two years later at $125,000. We did have positive cash flow, so at least losses were limited to the business value. There is still some mop-up work to be done, and we'll have an enormous business loss wiping out most (or maybe all) of our earned income for this year. But that chapter of our lives has mercifully come to an end (almost). It was truly a nightmare.

On to the positive side. We have zero debt. We own our roughly $400,000 house outright. We have a 2005 BMW 330i with 35,000 miles, and a 2007 Hyundai Elantra with under 1,000 miles, both free and clear.

We also have a "Sheltered Sam"-esque sliced and diced Bernstein portfolio, totaling around $250,000.

80% stocks:
Total Stock Market - 21% (mostly in an IRA)
Value Index - 20% (401k)
Small Cap Index - 12% (Roth)
Small Cap Value Index - 12% (Roth)
REIT - 10% (IRA)
International (small) - 20% (401k)
International (large) - 5% (401k)

20% bonds:
Intermediate Bond fund - 100% (401k)

We're in the process of establishing an after-tax Vanguard total stock market index account. That's where almost all of our after-tax savings will go.

Our expenses over the last 12 months were as follows on a per-monthly basis:

Automobile - $375 (Insurance, tolls, maintenance, gas)
House Expenses - $500 (Home Improvement, Insurance, Lawn Mowing, Property Taxes)
Utilities - $300 (Energy, Phone, Sewer, Trash, Water)
Food - $675 (eating out, groceries)
Health Care - $425 (HSA Health Insurance, Massage, Chiropractor, health care)
Health Clubs - $250 (Tae Kwon Do, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Yoga)
Other Living Expenses - $175 (Pets, Clothing, Accountant)
Entertainment - $190 (Cable, internet, magazines, Netflix, travel)
Discretionary Spending - $625 (Big ticket items, books, movies, chartible contributions, gifts)

Total: $3500/month

My gross income is around $125,000 per year. DW is looking for a new career, and might be going to get a Master's in Public Health. So we're living well below our means, though I expect expenses will be a bit higher over the next year (a few hundred per month). I'm tentatively targetting age 45 (we're both 33 now) for FIRE with $1.5 mil in today's dollars, but we'll see how things go between now and then.
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Old 10-02-2007, 02:45 PM   #26
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I remember! What a relief it must be to have the business sold. You came out much better than many many people I have seen over the years who had struggling businesses. You are young and debt free, you should do just fine.

No more lawyer stuff, no more political stuff, so no more CYA

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Old 10-04-2007, 09:38 PM   #27
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Very interesting - lots of valuable learning from your experience.

Guess I am gut-less; every time i think i can take my hard earned dollars and put it into a business, I get chicken and realize that i can probably do no better than a bank cd,- at least it has limited downside and i can sleep at night.

As i hit 40, i find i am getting more and more conservative - hanging on to what i have. not wanting to lose it. Lost most of it back in 2000 and 2001 and I don't want a repeat. has taken 7 years to "recover".
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Old 02-17-2014, 07:33 AM   #28
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Grave digging!

Okay, yes, this is Me. I started checking out the forum again a couple of weeks ago and see a number of familiar handles, so some people might be curious whatever happened to me.

DW and I are now both 39, and we decided to cheat. In 2013, we sold our house, both cars, gave away almost all of our stuff, and then moved to well-known expat haunt Cuenca, Ecuador for a low-cost FIRE. We've been here for about 10 weeks now, and I've been retired for closing in on 5 months now.

Here's what the last few years have brought:
Following the sale of the business, DW started and completed a Master's in Public Health degree. She was unable to find a full-time job in our area, and it wasn't worth it to move, so she had a part-time job in her field.

In 2010, we thought about remodeling our kitchen and decided to look at Open Houses in our area to get kitchen ideas. Fell in love with the first one we visited, and bought it. Then we installed a 10kW solar array and a geothermal heat pump for heating/cooling.

In 2012, the BMW was totaled as a guy rear-ended my car and smacked me into the SUV in front. Bought a 1999 Miata to replace it, which cost half the amount the insurance company paid me for the car.

In the summer of 2012, DW and I started joking about dumping it all and retiring to Mexico. After some internet research, we figured there were better places for us than Mexico with its drug cartels. Ecuador topped the list.

In October of 2012, I was let go as a consultant at the same place I'd been a consultant for the previous 13 years. 2 weeks later, we were on a plane to Ecuador for 3 1/2 weeks. Fell in love with Cuenca, and decided to pull the plug.

In January, 2013, we got the house on the market. In March, still not having found a buyer, I took a 6 month contract. In May, we finally found a buyer (yay!) and agreed on a price that was a significant financial loss (boo!). At the end of July, we moved in with MIL. At the end of September, my contract ended (yay!) and I retired.

In October 2013 we started traveling: 4 days in San Francisco (Government shutdown, Alcatraz closed?! boo!), then a week later flew to Geneva, Switzerland for a few days. Took a train to Venice, and hopped on a cruise ship. In order, on the cruise, we saw: Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, Izmir (Turkey), Messina, Naples, Rome, Pisa, Marseilles, Barcelona, Mallorca, Malaga, Canary Islands, Turks and Caicos, and New Orleans. It was awesome. In total, the trip was 37 days, with 28 of them on the cruise ship.

Near the beginning of December, 2013, we flew to Ecuador with everything we were going to bring with us: 2 50 pound suitcases, 2 50 pound duffel bags, a backpack suitcase, a French Horn, and 2 backpacks. It was kind of funny watching the two of us schlep this stuff around. We stayed with friends for a couple of weeks (a couple our age from back in the States who decided to do the same thing), then moved into our furnished rental in the beginning of January, 2014.

Our budget is around $1700/month, though monthly spending has been closer to $1300 so far. Travel isn't included in the budget, but we're not planning much for a while at least until we get our residency visas. The $1700 is under a 2% withdrawal rate, so we're feeling pretty comfortable about things.

And it has been awesome so far. I'm still in the early retirement decompression stage, which means I don't want to do much of anything, and I'm happy doing very little. With the Olympics on, we're spending all day watching things. We can sort of communicate in Spanish, but need a lot more time to learn. There are plenty of expats here, which makes it less intimidating. I play tennis twice a week, DW has connections that will hopefully get her in to a couple of local community orchestras, there's a community theater group just starting that I may get into, and a bunch of other expat-centric activities for those who are inclined. I haven't even gotten back into martial arts here, though I do know of a BJJ gym I'd like to go to.

Anyway, that's been my life. Kind of interesting rereading a thread 8 1/2 years old all about me.
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Old 02-17-2014, 08:19 AM   #29
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Kronk….Wow! Despite loss on business and house, you never gave up your dreams. bravo...Very inspiring and positive story. All the best for your retirement and welcome back to forum.
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Old 02-17-2014, 11:41 AM   #30
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Thanks for checking in and sharing. It is real helpful to get the long view. Hope you keep the board updated on your foreign adventure.n
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Old 02-17-2014, 12:06 PM   #31
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Really nice update. Way to move ahead.
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Old 02-17-2014, 01:01 PM   #32
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Well done. Let us know How is Cuenca after 6 months - after honeymoon phase. Also interested to know how you chose that locale. How's health care and such. Again well done.

17 months and counting..... Hopefully.
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Old 02-17-2014, 05:20 PM   #33
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In regards to financial losses, those were mitigated by a couple of instances of good timing. Our first house that we were in from1998 until 2010 appreciated by about $150k over that span. When we bought the second house, we went from no mortgage to a large mortgage and invested the difference. That choice may have netted us around $100k, counteracting the loss on the house itself.

We researched a number of possible retirement destinations, and quickly eliminated most of them. We were scared off from Lake Chapala, Mexico, after kidnappings/beheadings in 2012. Costa Rica seemed a bit too expensive. Belize seemed too hot. Panama a bit too expensive where it wasn't too hot or too small. Guatemala seemed too underdeveloped. We wanted to stay in the Western Hemisphere, so Ecuador seemed like our best bet, up in the mountains. After visiting, we were sold.

The city of Cuenca is around a half a million people, but it feels a lot smaller. You don't need a car here, as public transportation is good. Food and rent are cheap, and there are more restaurants than you could eat at in a year. Italian, Thai, Mexican, Argentinian, Peruvian, Japanese, American, Chinese restaurants are scattered around, in addition to local cuisine. There are several thousand English speaking expats, which means there's a bunch of activities, parties, and gatherings. My social life is more interesting here than it was back in the States.

That said, there are some downsides, but nothing that bothers us very much.

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Old 02-17-2014, 05:28 PM   #34
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I had to laugh... sell everything you own, move to a new country, and "still in decompression stage...don't want to do much of anything" :-) You've already done more than most of us here will end up doing!
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Old 02-23-2014, 04:00 PM   #35
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thanks for coming back and filling us in. Congrats on your ER
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