I have read most of the posts, the blog, and the book. It all resonates with me a lot, a simpler lifestyle focusing on better priorities. I thought that I would come out and get your thoughts on my own situation.
I think of myself as high-income/high-expense, and in need of some help, but a lot of people I hang out with think I am actually fairly frugal. I make an effort to fight the current, but I am a long way from some of the champions on this forum! I am probably a bit of an outlier here in many dimensions, so I have been very hesitant to post, but I hope I am doing the right thing.
I will also say that I have three wonderful kids, that I am self-employed with a reasonable lifestyle and fairly enjoyable work -- in fact, I don't think I am looking to retire full-time, I just like the flexibility to take time off when I want, and I would like to work shorter hours. I think I am already part of the way there, but there is also a lot of room for improvement. My wife is not a major spender, but also not necessarily into extreme frugality.
Here is the rundown on my average monthly expenses:
Mortgage: $ 1,500
Property taxes / HO insurance: $ 550
Home maintenance: $ 700
Bills: $ 350
Cars (insurance, gas, maintenance): $ 400
Health expenses: $ 350
Food and groceries: $ 1,000
Travel: $ 800
Phone and internet: $ 150
Clothes: $ 150
Donations: $ 500
Tuition: $ 1,200
Other (gifts, etc.): $ 650
Total: $ 8,300
Being self-employed, my net income is a bit harder to calculate than if I had a paycheck, but it's probably in the $ 12-15,000 range. So my saving rate is 30-40%. I have $700k in assets and $300k in home equity.
So, for full FI, I am maybe 30% of the way there, but, on the other hand, I think I will keep myself always partially employed, since I can do it with flexibility, so I am not too worried about getting 100% there. Also, once the kids are grown up, my expenses will adjust (I hope), above and beyond what I can do now.
The three items that I am sure will leave people puzzled are:
1. Housing -- I live in an expensive area; I consider my house bigger than I need, but it's actually average in the area. I have tried to convince my wife to rent some of it out, but to no avail. The mortgage is @3.25%, so I have elected not to repay it back (for now) -- it's the only debt I have.
2. Travel -- I go visit my family in Europe every year. With 5 people, that goes up pretty quickly. But that's important -- it's about relationships, and less about extravagance.
3. Tuition -- I have one kid in private school. The school is great; it is truly out of the ordinary and he is happy there. It's not a snotty prep school, quite the opposite -- it's a small independent school run by people that have a taste for life (simple life -- no consumerism!) and transmit it to him. My wife eventually may do some work for them and could get free tuition.
Thank you, to Jacob and to all of you, for all the insight -- I gained tremendously by reading this forum.