Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

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Matt3121
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Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

So I achieved ERE/Leanfire about 10 months ago if I recall. I did this by drastically slashing my expenditures from 5500 a month, to about ~1,200 (I thought it would be about $1,000 but things always come up). Now these are my raw and total expenses. Over the last 9 months I've found even more ways to whittle down my monthly budget so I wanted to share those things in case anyone is maybe on that path and is looking for useful tidbits (side note, I posted this on reddit on leanfire, but I realized that this might actually be more helpful here). I have a few things going on:

- I own my house outright, and I bought a small one so property taxes are low. (sub 100k house, I'm literally saving 2k a month over where I was living before, 18k saved in 9 months, so house cost is effectively 70k at this point.).
- I own my car and drive A LOT (33k miles per year, for fun, I hate being home).
- I have a family member paying me $600 a month, but my total costs of $1,200 a month are before I factor in that rent.
- I am working on things for fun.

So my actual monthly burn, assuming I didn't do anything at all, is $600 per month, when you factor in my family member paying rent. So even at minimum wage it would be pretty easy to pay my bills. My investment income handles that easily, but yeah that's my situation.

Now just wanted to share a number of things I did to get that $1200 below $1000! This is the part below I had on reddit. Before I post it I just wanted to say that the biggest benefit of learning frugality is that you start to have this gradual shift where you are thinking about things like "Hmm, I wonder if I can reduce this, how could I do it". And each little victory is so much fun. Every time you find savings, it's MUCH more fun than actually making money. Anyway here goes. Hope this is helpful to someone who really wants to live a frugal lifestyle

**Side note**: I built my own furniture, and that is OK (I'm not great at it), but getting furniture for free on the side of the road is way more fun.

1) Cut my own hair. Savings ($25 per month, $300 per year, $1,500 in 5 years). I did this pre-corona but it ended up having a 2 fold benefit for me. Obviously it was required for a lot of people with corona, but the reason I did it because I HATE getting a haircut. I'm a guy, and maybe that's part of it, but I just don't like waiting around, then having them do a so-so job. Plus, now it takes me 30 minutes, instead of a hour (with 15 minutes both ways). It's a little challenging at first, but people say they don't notice anything different.

2) Switching from TMobile to Mint Mobile ($95 per month, $1,140 per year, $5,700 in 5 years) - This was a huge win for me. I found out that they both use the same network... I tried it out without switching my phone over. Now I pay (20 a month * 2) + ($15 a month that TMobile was paying for my netflix account). So $55 a month now vs 140 a month before! This was my biggest win by far but it was so satisfying. I love the service (and the app is better than TMobile. I have 8 gigs of data a month, which is fine. I'm cutting it close sometimes, but still I'm doing good on that. My total expenses for the year are only 12k, so saving $1,140 a year is an ENTIRE MONTH for me.

3) Down grade my Internet plan ($27 per month, $324 per year, $1,600 in 5 years). I had Comcast's 100 mbps plan when I really only needed 25. Max streams we have at one time is 2, and that isn't too often. So now I'll be on their lowest plan. Isn't that great though? Finding savings where you didn't really know you could? Literally nothing changes for me and I'm gonna save a lot. This took about 20 minutes to figure out and change. And considering it will earn me $324 a year, doing the math that comes out to $972 an hour as far as the rate I'm earning for my time. Being conscious of your spending and whittling down expenses has a ridiculously high rate of return.

4) Buying my own router ($15 per month, $180 per year, $900 in 5 years) - While I was checking my internet services I realized that I was renting that stupid Comcast Modem. I went online to see if there was a good replacement. Sure enough, for $120 I could get a great one and it would pay for itself in 9 months. But instead being the cheap sucker that I am, I decided to buy a used one from Amazon Warehouse for $60. Sure it's gonna be beat up, but I could buy 2 for that price. So even if it only lasts for a year I can buy another similar one for that price. Win! (Note, it will take 4 months to break even on it, but after that total profit). Took about an hour, so 180/hr!

A lot of people complained about this one, I couldn't find good usage data, they said that all the energy.gov calculators are wrong. I'm ordering a watt meter to really check this out, but the numbers seemed to work out like this for me
5) Turning my coffee marker off when not in use ($40 a month, $480 a year, $2,400 in 5 years) - So this began as an investigation as to why my electric bill was so high. I started going out to the meter and literally using a stop watch to see how fast the meter was spinning per minute. As I was doing that I noticed that it starts FLYING ahead (1 rotation was taking 60 seconds, then it went to taking 2 seconds!!!!). I couldn't understand what was going on. So I started looking up the watts on things I use. 300w or so for the fridge, can't do much about that. Then I came to the coffee maker. 900watts!!! And we leave it on all the time. My dad and I drink coffee, at least a pot and a half of coffee a day each (yes it's a lot I know lol). But if you do the math 900 watts * lets say 20 hours a day * .16 cents per watt hours (which I pay), comes to $86.50 a month. JUST ON MY STUPID COFFEE MAKER. I had no idea! So the solution was to get a big restaurant sized thermos so after we use it we can stick it in there and it keeps it pretty hot for quite a while. CRAZY that this could have been the cause of my high utility bill. Took like 3 hours to figure out. So 'only' $160/hr (https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/maps ... calculator)

6) Change my own oil ($40 savings quarterly, $160 per year, $800 in 5 years). I was always a cheap sucker, so when I was 18, with no knowledge I went and changed my brakes on my own, calipers and roters as well. This led to fixing things like Alternators and starters. (Brakes one time were going to $1,700, I did it for $225). I always avoided doing oil because it's a dirty process, which it is, but it takes nearly 2 hours at the dealership where as it takes me about 45 mins to do it myself. I hate waiting lol. The savings is even larger if you are working. It took about $100 in parts (ramps and stuff), so it'll take a few times of doing it to break even. But the hour I get back is invaluable.

7) Signed up for an Amazon credit card ($100). They had a free promotion where you get $100 if you sign up. You don't get a physical card, it's just used for amazon purchases. I'll never use it, but it's awesome I got it for free!

Total Savings per year: $2,584
So literally without giving up much, and not even counting the savings I got by time saved, I am saving $216 a month or almost $2,600 a year. In just 5 years that'll be $13,000 (more if you invest it). When you figure that my yearly burn is $12,000 that is a 21% savings on my whole year expenses. With that money I could buy all new furniture, a small boat, many great TV's, a new computer or two, a cheap car payment or probably a million other things. In my case I'm just gonna invest it probably, but really this didn't take me that long and now I'm gonna save a bundle. I love it!

So yeah, that's it. I honestly didn't need any of these savings, but being ultra frugal is fun in and of itself. Now I have a $800 a month burn instead of $1000.

Hope this helps some of you! It was a really great feeling for me! Happy savings!

UK-with-kids
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by UK-with-kids »

Thanks Matt 3121, I enjoyed reading that. I know we are meant to change our mindset and not rely on lists of tips, coupon cutting, etc. But sometimes it's nice to read something practical. You've really made me think about electricity usage - ours is way too high but I've never got(ten) round to figuring out why.

How did you make your own furniture? I was thinking about trying to make an outdoor table out of free pallets - I can't believe how much people spend on outdoor furniture, which only lasts a few years in the damp winters we have here in the UK. And then I started to feel bad that I spent £1,000 on a bed (many years ago) when I now see I could have made that out of pallets as well!

horsewoman
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by horsewoman »

As far as I know shipping pallets are often treated with chemicals to make them more resistant to water and bugs... I don't know how widespread this is but personally I'd look into it before building furniture out of them.

jacob
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by jacob »

It's funny how we (ERE HQ) already do all these things w/o even realizing that it's a thing.

For cheap DIY furniture, I prefer 2x4s (framing lumber) for my wood source. In the US, this is sold in home construction stores as SPH/HF (SprucePineHemlock/HemlockFir --- they interbreed, often randomly) although it depends on which area of the country you're in. It comes in different dimensions, like 2x4, 2x6, 2x2, or 4x4 in lenghts of 6, 8, 10 or more feet. Because of the milling it's actually 1/2" shorter on each side, so a 2x4 is 1.5x3.5 with rounded edges. You can plane or resaw them into something nicer looking which I usually do. Aesthetically, building straight out of dimensional lumber is a dead give-away :) However, there are many books and websites about 2x4 furniture. If you don't want to go the way of handtools, you can get all the way to functional furniture with just a chop saw, a drill, and a pocket hole jig. One thing about the price ... DIY will rarely compete with "free" or "thrift store" on price. It will, however, easily compete with IKEA and any other new box store furniture. The main advantage is that you get stuff built exactly as you want it, e.g. if you need your desk to be 38" wide and 29" tall, you make it 38" wide and 29" tall. No need to suffer from a wrong height or spend extra for an adjustable one when you can build everything to spec.

AnalyticalEngine
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by AnalyticalEngine »

Thanks for sharing Matt! This was helpful to read. It's always inspiring to hear from people who used to spend a lot but were able to ERE-makeover their expenses.

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

UK-with-kids wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 4:19 am
Thanks Matt 3121, I enjoyed reading that. I know we are meant to change our mindset and not rely on lists of tips, coupon cutting, etc. But sometimes it's nice to read something practical. You've really made me think about electricity usage - ours is way too high but I've never got(ten) round to figuring out why.

How did you make your own furniture? I was thinking about trying to make an outdoor table out of free pallets - I can't believe how much people spend on outdoor furniture, which only lasts a few years in the damp winters we have here in the UK. And then I started to feel bad that I spent £1,000 on a bed (many years ago) when I now see I could have made that out of pallets as well!
Glad it's helpful. I agree in general that you should be in that mindset of saving and maybe not rely on lists, but I think lists a lot of times open your eyes to what you maybe weren't aware of, or even just give you that motivation to change things. When Jacob broke down how his expenses were that was a really big eye opener for me.

As far as making furniture, like I said I'm not good at it. I just bought 2x4's and 2x2's and, really with no plan, just started cutting them to size and made a bed frame. It's almost 3 feet off the ground. Initially it wasn't very sturdy but I kept shoring it up until it's good now. I did that so I could store lots of things under the bed. That actually worked initially but getting at those things has been really hard. I'm going to convert it into a murphy bed so I have more room in my room (less than 800 sq ft house).

To make that work better I'm working on a bench that I can store stuff in. This is why I say it's not worth it, because it's already cost me $100 in lumber, and I realize I could get something for free and modify it MUCH cheaper than doing this. Still it's not expensive but it is very hard work and I don't really have the proper workbench (or space) to build my own furniture.

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:24 am
The main advantage is that you get stuff built exactly as you want it, e.g. if you need your desk to be 38" wide and 29" tall, you make it 38" wide and 29" tall. No need to suffer from a wrong height or spend extra for an adjustable one when you can build everything to spec.
Yeah, I wanted a bedframe with a ton of storage underneath and this really made it much more possible. I spent maybe $60 in lumber, while the quality is not great, it is useable, and something similar would have cost probably $500.

The other big benefit of building your own furniture is learning a new skill, when I realized "Oh pilot holes, that makes so much sense!". It gives you so much power when you realize "hmm, okay, I could totally build that". I'm going to be building a towable camper for the back of my car later this year. I live in the North East and I HATE the cold winters. So I'm going to build a camper my honda civic can tow ( Probably 800lbs MAX) down to Florida, where I'll live at campsites for a couple of months.

Those things go for a lot of money, so I won't have a problem selling it after if I want to.

tonyedgecombe
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by tonyedgecombe »

horsewoman wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 5:57 am
As far as I know shipping pallets are often treated with chemicals to make them more resistant to water and bugs... I don't know how widespread this is but personally I'd look into it before building furniture out of them.
They are usually marked to indicate any treatment.

https://www.1001pallets.com/pallet-safety/

Laura Ingalls
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Laura Ingalls »

Thanks for the positive Mint mobile review. Thinking about it for my crew of 4 lines.

Scott 2
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Scott 2 »

How did you solve the health insurance / health care problem? Subsidized ACA plan?

How did you ensure acceptable neighbors with the sub-100k home?

anesde
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by anesde »

jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:24 am
One thing about the price ... DIY will rarely compete with "free" or "thrift store" on price. It will, however, easily compete with IKEA and any other new box store furniture. The main advantage is that you get stuff built exactly as you want it, e.g. if you need your desk to be 38" wide and 29" tall, you make it 38" wide and 29" tall. No need to suffer from a wrong height or spend extra for an adjustable one when you can build everything to spec.
Completely agree. I built my own bed once as the (tiny!) room was 76” wide x 10’-2” long and I wanted to put a full size mattress (53”x75”) lengthwise to take up less space. I tried and tried but couldn’t find a bedframe less than 77” (even the ones marked “for small spaces”). I built my own with a 1/2” on either side out of standing 2x10s with a 2x4 frame on top. Added bonus of building sliding drawers underneath as well. Beyond ability to build to spec it gives a great satisfaction I think, as does most anything when you produce something tangible of your own labor.

At OP - I too learned the value of pilot holes during that exercise!

EDIT - meant to add this exercise was not cheaper than buying a used bedframe, but none available would work. Between the materials and more than a few mess ups it ran me c. $120

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

Scott 2 wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 12:35 pm
How did you solve the health insurance / health care problem? Subsidized ACA plan?

How did you ensure acceptable neighbors with the sub-100k home?
I have a somewhat subsidized ACA plan. I could have actually gotten it for free, but I chose to pay 115/mo. Even if I was paying the full $275 though I could afford it without an issue.

So the house, I paid about 90k. There are a few things that went into finding a good house. For one you just have to accept less space. The second thing is that it takes a while. I looked at a bunch of houses all over my area, some where like 150k but not even as nice (though they are larger). Also you have to pick a more rural area. I have FIRE'd so where I live doesn't matter much, but even if I hadn't fired I could live here.

Honestly you can get a decent Sub 100k house in almost every state. Just go to the more rural areas and have a look. To be sure that this area was legit I drove by dozens of times, all times of night and I checked out the crime stats really well. The other thing I have going for me is that all my neighbors have a min house value of like 170k. So I have the worst house in the neighborhood.

It's not perfect, someone a few streets over launches A LOT of fireworks, but normally it's over by 10pm. IT's just a very quiet area.

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

anesde wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 1:32 pm
At OP - I too learned the value of pilot holes during that exercise!
Woodworking it like 10x easier once you learn that lol!

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

jacob wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 7:24 am
It's funny how we (ERE HQ) already do all these things w/o even realizing that it's a thing.
Haha, well you are basically the Godfather/Yoda of ERE/Leanfire, so I just assumed in was some sort of once in a generation gift :lol:

classical_Liberal
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by classical_Liberal »

@Matt3121

I've read some of your transition before. You're basically the poster child of a high earner on a consumerist path changing overnight and being able to take up ERE. It's pretty frigg'en impressive and admirable. Thanks for detailing all this stuff, because I think examples help many people who may be reading this in the "woodwork", so to speak.

I'd like take another angle on this if you'd edulge me.

I think for many people the financial numbers can be made to work, pretty quickly. Move up to a Wheaton 5+, and already have a bunch of money saved or able to in short order (ie based on ERE-level spending). However, for some reason there is emotional or psychological baggage that holds people back. Things like, oh I don't want to give up the security of my high paying career. Or It's just easier to earn money than learn to spend less. Or I'm worried I won't be happy living more rural or outside expensive countries, so cheap housing is out. Or I don't want to lock myself into a $1000/mo lifestyle. Or I'm worried what my parents or social network will think.

What do you have to say to those types of issues? How were you able to get over this stuff and take the leap? Did you even think of these things? If I recall you had some health issues, did that play into your ability to change?

Thanks in advance!

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:18 pm
You're basically the poster child of a high earner on a consumerist path changing overnight and being able to take up ERE. It's pretty frigg'en impressive and admirable.
I'd take slight issue with this only because I wasn't much of a consumer, I rarely bought myself things, I was just blowing way more money on rent, food and transportation. I simply hadn't realized that I could reduce those. But essentially yeah I was spending way too much.
classical_Liberal wrote:
Thu Jul 02, 2020 11:18 pm

I think for many people the financial numbers can be made to work, pretty quickly. Move up to a Wheaton 5+, and already have a bunch of money saved or able to in short order (ie based on ERE-level spending). However, for some reason there is emotional or psychological baggage that holds people back. Things like, oh I don't want to give up the security of my high paying career. Or It's just easier to earn money than learn to spend less. Or I'm worried I won't be happy living more rural or outside expensive countries, so cheap housing is out. Or I don't want to lock myself into a $1000/mo lifestyle. Or I'm worried what my parents or social network will think.

What do you have to say to those types of issues? How were you able to get over this stuff and take the leap? Did you even think of these things? If I recall you had some health issues, did that play into your ability to change?
Good questions really. I think you are pretty much spot on. When I tell people what I'm doing they think I'm absolutely some kind of loser because I'm not working 40 hours a week and not living "a normal life". Reducing expenses is not rocket science, though it's kinda hard in the beginning because you have to work through a TON of things. It's more that people really are attached to that stuff as you said.

I think for me it was very easy. There are a couple of factors that made it simple.

1) I truly dislike society in general, not people but just how they live. I don't even know why per se. I have a cousin who LOVES high society, expensive suits, expensive watches, etc. He doesn't make a ton but he loves it. To me that is the worst thing in the world. The rich people I've known are people I dislike generally, very selfish, so that just doesn't appeal to me. I think that pushed me the opposite way. To go together with that:
2) I grew up pretty poor. My mom had died and my dad never held a steady job. So we never had money, just whatever he could borrow. And while that was pretty awful and motivated me to work hard, I also had experiences that richer people do not. We didn't have a car, we had to walk everywhere so you got exercise and were out of the house a lot. We didn't have money so when I got something free or cheap It was always great. You valued it more.
3) I had a 10 year window where I earned gross 1.7 million, one year cracking 400k. But then I got real sick with this bacterial infection and it just tore me down. I was pretty good with my money, I never really bought anything (27k car. 1 Ipad in that time, 1 computer), and I saved a good amount of money but certainly not ANYWHERE near what I'd need passive income wise to sustain my lifestyle at $5,500 a month burn. So for me that forced my hand a bit, and probably made me more receptive. I'm like "I'm in the top few percent of earnings in the US and I don't have enough to stop working... What the heck. Few people are going to reach 400k (including me, I don't know if I could get back there), yet it didn't radically alter my ability to live without working. So once I got sick and I couldn't work I had to figure a new path.
4) And this is probably true of all of us who love ERE, I really value my time highly. I wanted the freedom to work on what I wanted to work on. I couldn't care less about material things or status. I had an incredible income at 33, but I realized that it didn't change anything at all. The whole time I just wanted to not have to work. Now that's probably because I was sick, and physically very tired because of it, so other people probably don't have that draw.

Idk if any of that made sense, I mostly rambled on, but that's the psychology of why it works for me. Since I hit my 'retirement', I've been able to work on health quite a bit. With all the time I've had, even though I haven't felt great for most of it, I' worked on my diet and it had a big big impact on my health. I wouldn't say I'm cured, but I'm like 10x better. (still probably half of my old capacity, but at least I'm not bed bound).

Also in that time I wrote a whole software product I'm going to launch soon. It's just a nice little task management system with some unique and I think valuable features (tons of charts, nice colors, very responsive, lots of little fun things). I'm going to release it as a piece of SAAS software. My recurring rev. pays the bills just fine, but I just wanted to work on this.

Site Note: Interestingly I'm going to charge $5 a month, and the beauty of it is that unlike most start ups which need a tremendous amount of money to pay their bills, I need less than 200 paying customers to pay ALL my bills. And because I literally have no expenses I basically can't fail as a business. I can keep tweaking it until I have something that people really like. And I'll have that IP forever. It's really amazing what ERE allows you to do. You can really pursue your dreams. And the best part is, it's extremely low stress. I work on it maybe 2-4 hours a day, when I feel like it, and I'm almost done. No 100 work weeks. Okay rant over.

So that's it really. I wanted the freedom to do what I wanted to do with my time, and now I've got it, and it's better than I expected. Meanwhile my old boss is paying $1,000 per month on his car note. And he's always telling me he's broke and there is nothing that he could do about it. For me, sure, I don't get the respect he does maybe. But who cares. he's still a slave to the company he works for.

idk if that helps lol, but I tried my best.

Quadalupe
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Quadalupe »

Also in that time I wrote a whole software product I'm going to launch soon. It's just a nice little task management system with some unique and I think valuable features (tons of charts, nice colors, very responsive, lots of little fun things). I'm going to release it as a piece of SAAS software. My recurring rev. pays the bills just fine, but I just wanted to work on this.

Site Note: Interestingly I'm going to charge $5 a month, and the beauty of it is that unlike most start ups which need a tremendous amount of money to pay their bills, I need less than 200 paying customers to pay ALL my bills.
Just FYI, Patrick McKenzie wrote some stuff about SaaS pricing. It might be an interesting read for you!

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

Quadalupe wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 3:58 am
Just FYI, Patrick McKenzie wrote some stuff about SaaS pricing. It might be an interesting read for you!
Yeah this seems like fairly standard advice on SAAS pricing. I think it's a bit different because in this example they are primarily interested in making money, where as in my case I'm more interested in it being used and getting traction. It's more of a social experiment than a business.

classical_Liberal
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by classical_Liberal »

@matt3121
Thanks for the reply!

#1 I think is pretty common around here. Seeing a "sick" society.

#2 is interesting because I have seen people grow up in poverty who go both ways. A good friend of mine is still "running" from it, and wants his outward appearance to never reflect "poor". In your case it seems to have given you a good sense for hard work, agency, and skill/confidence to get by with less. Side note: Any advice you have for me to help my friend?

#3 Decent income really helps with speed of accumulation, at ERE levels. I mean 400K in a year can get you enough for 3% 1-JAFI alone. But doesn't do much if you spend 100K. I think the low spending required of ERE opens a whole bunch of options for the median and less income folks too though. Particularly with the idea of semi-ERE added in. I think there's a huge number of people out there, that look at places like MMM and multi million dollar retirement funds as unattainable. But a 100K, some potentially value producing hobby skills, and a flexible part time job is well within their grasp in short order. Particularly if already in 30's and 40's and not a total financial train wreck, they may already have a big chunk of those funds. This is/was me (although I increased my income for a while, sacrificing life satisfaction to reach my goals). For "us" the emotional/psychological issues are the hardest.

#4 Necessity is the mother of invention, I guess. I wonder if there are other ways to get people like me to feel it is a necessity?

Congrats on the app, BTW! I hope it goes well for you, figuring your market, ect.

Matt3121
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Re: Reducing my already low expenses by 20% and nearing 1 Jacob

Post by Matt3121 »

classical_Liberal wrote:
Fri Jul 03, 2020 2:14 pm
#2 is interesting because I have seen people grow up in poverty who go both ways. A good friend of mine is still "running" from it, and wants his outward appearance to never reflect "poor". In your case it seems to have given you a good sense for hard work, agency, and skill/confidence to get by with less. Side note: Any advice you have for me to help my friend?

#3 Decent income really helps with speed of accumulation, at ERE levels. I mean 400K in a year can get you enough for 3% 1-JAFI alone. But doesn't do much if you spend 100K. I think the low spending required of ERE opens a whole bunch of options for the median and less income folks too though. Particularly with the idea of semi-ERE added in. I think there's a huge number of people out there, that look at places like MMM and multi million dollar retirement funds as unattainable. But a 100K, some potentially value producing hobby skills, and a flexible part time job is well within their grasp in short order. Particularly if already in 30's and 40's and not a total financial train wreck, they may already have a big chunk of those funds. This is/was me (although I increased my income for a while, sacrificing life satisfaction to reach my goals). For "us" the emotional/psychological issues are the hardest.

#4 Necessity is the mother of invention, I guess. I wonder if there are other ways to get people like me to feel it is a necessity?

@classical_Liberal - Yeah you made some interesting points here I wanted to respond to.

2. I think I was running away from being poor for a long time, but I personally just never cared about appearances. I was just afraid of having no money. I think being ERE is the ultimate in running away from being poor really. It actually allows you to be rich. Other than my house being small I could buy any car really with the money I've saved. (Okay maybe not a brand new Rolls Royce but you get the idea). As far as your friend I just don't know really. I try to convince people all the time and they just think I'm nuts.

3. I definitely earned a lot, I should mention though, that my calculations were a little off because I forgot there were 6 month periods where I couldn't work during that time and so I probably burned off 80k of my savings there, which hurt. Another thing is that I gave away probably, idk, maybe 60k, something like that to charitable causes. And of course my burn was fairly high during those years, had I really understood frugality I could have saved A LOT more. The 400k year I was on a contract in Denver (not my home base), and so I was paying rent in 2 cities. 1,700 in 1 plus 1,000 in another for an airbnb. No way around that really because of the nature of the job I could have gotten cut at any time. Regardless though it was a ridiculous amount of money.

So this is, to me, the most interesting thing of all. I have spent HUNDREDS of hours in the last year analyzing how I could have done this on less income, and how little of an income I would have needed. Obviously if someone in major debt that is a different story, but assuming no debt, and you are healthy, I realized I could have retired from start to finish in 3-4 years on minimum wage. Min wage in my state is roughly $10/hr.

I think the break down is something like this.

Take home is $1,450 per month.

Expenses

Rent: 400 (gotta hunt to get this cheap, but you can find it even with utils)
Healthcare: 115
Food: 100 (Gotta work somewhere you get some free food, like a restaurant)
Clothes: 50
Phone Plan: 25
Random: 100

Total: 790 total burn
Net Savings: $660

You are going to need 2 years of work history to do the next step so let's fast forward 2 years. You have saved $15,840. Not bad for having a low income. Now we're going to buy a house for 90k, We'll need another probably 4k for a down payment and closing costs, so lets go to the end of year 3. You buy a house for 90k, 3 bedrooms. (One close to me sold for that price, it was decent).

Total costs with property tax, mortgage, and home insurance is roughly 600 a month. You rent out 2 rooms for 500 each. So your cost to live went from 400 to -400 (1000 rental income - 600 mortgage ).

So now your monthly burn is actually -10 a month. Now your total take home from your job and savings is $1,450 + $10 savings instead of $660. Things can go wrong in houses obviously so you need some money obviously, so you work 1 more year saving $1,460, gives you $17,512 in the bank. ( forgot utils. So maybe $150 a month for that ($1800 a year), so your savings is $15,512.

So that right there basically gets you to where you need to be. I guess you would still need to make $1800 a year to pay those utils (or raise rent. Most rent in my area is 700 a room, so that is pretty doable.) But at that point you can basically 'retire' and have a decent nest egg. If you keep working you could just build on that amount and for extra income you could buy a duplex for like $100k, you'd probably net 700 a month from those. That would easily pay the bills and give you spending money.

And if you don't want to live in the original house with roommates then you just sell the original house, take that equity and roll it into a medium size duplex.

Obviously this is all a mental exercise, but love doing it because I want to see what I could have done had I not had the financial advantages I did have. Most people are gonna want a car obviously, and most people can probably earn more than 10/hr so YMMV.

But yeah, I think it can work for some people.

To answer #4, Idk, honestly I always hated work because I was tired. I might have felt differently if I wasn't so tired. But if don't feel it's necessary maybe it's not so bad?

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