RooBadley's Journal.

Where are you and where are you going?
Cheepnis
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by Cheepnis »

Thanks for the rundown, looks like I was pretty much correct with my guesses. That MFJ shit is pretty cool! haha
I can't discuss this with my coworkers because they would never believe it's possible to stash all that money and live on 51k.
I once tried explaining to a coworker how if he were to save 10k in his 401k that doing so would only require him to actually save $7,800 dollars since he's firmly in the 22% tax bracket. I know that math is a little oversimplified, but I was trying to highlight the benefit of the tax shelters. He didn't get it. At the time I already had a reputation for my financial knowledge (which is really very small!). I've since stopped talking about this stuff altogether because it was leading to people asking too direct of questions: "how much do you put in?", "what do you do?", "what should I do with my 401k money?". Questions I don't want to or don't feel qualified to answer even if it was appropriate for me to do so in the first place.

jacob
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by jacob »

Cheepnis wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:46 am
... I've since stopped talking about this stuff altogether because it was leading to people asking too direct of questions: "how much do you put in?", "what do you do?", "what should I do with my 401k money?". ...
As a starting point most concrete oriented folks are just looking to copy the behavior of someone they trust or rather someone they identify with. Deducing actions from abstract principles is a step too far and can not be assumed.

PS: I've seen worse: Using the 401k as a savings/emergency account w/o realizing the penalty+taxes for early withdrawal. Repeatedly.

Cheepnis
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by Cheepnis »

Well put, Jacob. As you pointed out this absolutely matches my experiences.
PS: I've seen worse: Using the 401k as a savings/emergency account w/o realizing the penalty+taxes for early withdrawal. Repeatedly.
I've got this coworker as well. ::buys tractor with IRA money:: ::months later bitches about taxes due to tractor purchase:: ::buys boat with IRA money:: Some folks just can't help themselves.

Hristo Botev
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by Hristo Botev »

jacob wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:54 am
As a starting point most concrete oriented folks are just looking to copy the behavior of someone they trust or rather someone they identify with.
My first gig out of law school was with a federal judge who was known for giving a "personal finance 101" presentation to ALL new law clerks (not just his own) as part of their orientation at the beginning of their 2-year stint at the courthouse. His presentation came from a place of wanting the law clerks, who were at the beginnings of their promising law careers, to have the freedom to do what they actually wanted to do, and to use money as a means and not an end. So that the best and brightest young lawyers would have the freedom to choose less lucrative employment as government or non-profit/advocacy lawyers, or better yet, joining up with a small firm or even hanging your own shingle. Anyway, people would joke about the judge's presentation, but I know lots of folks (including one of my current law partners) for whom that presentation at such a pivotal point in their lives had a drastic impact--people who managed to avoid living paycheck-to-paycheck, who had the freedom to do what they wanted to do with their law degrees, as opposed to being forever stuck working for a churn-and-burnout megafirm just to afford lifestyle inflation and student loans.

ETA: These presentations only worked because people looked up to the judge who was giving them; he'd had a career (and a family life) that a lot of young lawyers looked to emulate, at least in parts. And the judge was giving the step-by-step that they could apply in their own, concrete lives.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

jacob wrote:
Wed Sep 09, 2020 8:54 am
looking to copy the behavior of someone they trust or rather someone they identify with.
I was one of the people avoiding the subject with well-meaning mentors. It's because I was ashamed of the fact that my personal finance situation was AFU. I never looked at my 401k because I had zerohedge. I knew that the banksters were out to destroy the middle class and that the financial system was doomed.

Out of 100 coworkers, maybe 4 or 5 that I could see getting on this train. A good way to drop a breadcrumb is to recount a past mistake of my own. If they're talking car, it's "Yeah, I had a car loan once. I totally knew how stupid it was to pay for a car twice over but did it anyway, I'm dense that way. Have you looked at the huge difference between full coverage and liability only? You've seen my 98 Honda? In 20 years that thing is going to be seriously cool."
Last edited by RooBadley on Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:18 pm, edited 4 times in total.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

The financialization of college has made it very hard for me to plan for the future. I despise the f***ing vultures preying on teenagers and playing on parents' irrational emotions.

The 529 college fund was simply a tax break for me. Place handcuffs on a pot of money and receive substantial relief on state taxes in return.
The unintended consequence (which I saw coming from a mile away) is that DW speaks to our kids as if the whole college life experience is something they can just reach out and pluck from a tree.

By the time they're of age, this fund will still be nowhere near covering even one semester. And waiting for the college bubble to burst is not a viable strategy, they're already 12 and 10.

I'm more of a Mike Rowe fan. Trade school was right for me and my college degree is a distant memory that provided no benefit. My poor long-suffering dear parents are too generous for their own good.

OTOH, if either of my kids wants an engineering degree what am I going to do? I want to help provide for them the professional career that I was supposed to have for myself. Pathetic, I know. Financial help, but with strings attached.

Never been a dad before. Where am I on the spectrum between good nurturing guidance and trying to control their choices about their own futures.
Last edited by RooBadley on Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

Hristo Botev
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by Hristo Botev »

RooBadley wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 8:57 am
Funny how there seem to be themes that develop across different threads.

We also do the 529 thing ONLY for the state tax break. DW has a cousin in the financial services industry (I gag as I type that) who specializes in 529 plans, and even he admitted that those future college cost calculators you see on 529 sites are total BS, as the costs are totally unsustainable (and of course the 529 sites have a huge incentive to freak out about figuring out how you're going to pay for college).

That said, regarding the engineering question: is starting off at a community college a possibility? Not sure if that translates to engineering, but I know DW (who hires folks out of college) always moves to the top of her resume pile folks who did the first 2 years at a community college, because she reasons they are sensible.

ETA: I'm a little behind you (my kids are 8 and 10), but I'm definitely not at a freak out point for college yet. My guess: we force our kids to get after-school and summer jobs starting at 16 at the latest, and from that they figure out pretty quickly the basic economics of employment, and the myriad of ways you can make a living (provided you keep spending in check) without sacrificing 4 years of your life and tens/hundreds of thousands of dollars for a 4-year degree in a field you probably won't even work in ultimately. If they want to go to college, fine, they can have whatever is in the 529 plan for that. If they want to go to trade school or the military, even better. If they've already had enough of having a boss by 18, such that they want to start their own business, wonderful!

EETA: I'll note we're likely not the type of parents who expect their kids to be out of the house at 18. Quite the contrary, we'll give them whatever support they need, provided they are making themselves useful and otherwise not thumbing their noses at our values (e.g., if you want to live with your fiance before you get married, then we're not paying for the wedding).

EEETA (OK, I'll stop now): We've got a bunch of engineers in the family, 3 of whom got their educations (including masters degrees) paid for by the military, via service academies and ROTC.

NoItsNotLikeThat
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by NoItsNotLikeThat »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:03 am
if you want to live with your fiance before you get married, then we're not paying for the wedding
Yikes, that's a bit draconian. It's interesting how you have somewhat non-traditional view on college/careers/earning a living, but are extremely conservative on that point.

A question - if you do the 529 plan *only* for tax benefits, what happens to the money if they don't even use it? Or are you saying that you expect them to use it, but a trade program is an acceptable alternative to university?

RooBadley
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Aug 25, 2020 10:47 am

Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

Hristo Botev wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 9:03 am
community college a possibility?
Yes to community college.
During my years of fits and starts ('84-'95) I gained experience at two universities and two community colleges. I can tell you anecdotally there's no comparison whatsoever. And not just because I was a drunk. Community college all the way for ticking off required classes.
Last edited by RooBadley on Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

NoItsNotLikeThat wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:04 am
the 529 plan *only* for tax benefits
Any type of school qualifies for the 529 money, and it's in my name so I can spend it on whomever I choose.

Hristo Botev
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by Hristo Botev »

NoItsNotLikeThat wrote:
Thu Sep 10, 2020 10:04 am
At the risk of taking over RB's journal, I think you're conflating "traditional" with "what's become the norm in the past couple decades." The rise of the meritocracy is a relatively new phenomenon, as is the widespread acceptance of what, until very, very recently, was referred to not only by my own Catholic church but also all of the mainline Protestant denominations as "living in sin." So I disagree that my views on college/careers/earning a living are "non-traditional," or that my views on pre-marital co-living arrangements (you know, to "test it out") are "extremely conservative."

That said, try this instead:

EETA: I'll note we're likely not the type of parents who expect their kids to be out of the house at 18. Quite the contrary, we'll give them whatever support they need, provided they are making themselves useful and otherwise not thumbing their noses at our values (e.g., [insert whatever non-negotiable values you have]).

As for the 529, if neither kid ends up going to either college or trade school (unlikely), there's still flexibility involved with how the money is spent, and you can change beneficiaries (perhaps to a related godchild, grandchild, etc.). Ultimately, it's such a small amount of money from a net worth perspective that taking a 10% hit on it wouldn't be the end of the world, and probably worth the tax savings through the years.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

The 529 fund is actually my current high water mark in the optimization game.

My state changed it last year from tax deduction to tax credit. Previously you contribute whatever you want and deduct up to $4865 from AGI. That lowers state tax due by about $400. Not bad.
Now it's a $300 tax credit that progressively favors lower income filers. At AGI below $70k, you contribute just $600 to get a $300 credit.

And the best part is that they allowed a carry forward on the tax deduction from previous years. I discovered this last October so I had just two months to come up with an extra $4865 for the year. So when I do my turbotax in January I'm going to get the whole $700 off my state taxes due. Hell yes.

I never liked the restrictions placed on this money anyway, so dialing the contributions way back is fine with me. In my mental ledger I'm using my TDAmeritrade account for my kids' launching costs. Going forward I'll use the 529 account to just keep turning 600 into 900 every year.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

DW is hardwired to help all the poor critters in need. Two years ago in the aftermath of the fire that destroyed Paradise CA, she went to volunteer at the makeshift animal hospital at the Chico fairgrounds, camped out in the car for a week, and did what she does.

We live near the Cascades, near the PCT, with state and national forest all around. Sometimes it feels like the fire danger is ratcheting up a little every year and we're always discussing bug-out preparedness. But really, what do you do? You grab all the stuff and drive away...

She has 3 cats and a dog and some rabbits, no problem. But the hens? "Good luck, ladies." The turkeys? "We hardly knew ya."
Unfortunately we have no disaster plan for the pigs. We raise a couple livestock pigs every year. They come home in the car which they quickly outgrow. No plan other than call the livestock rescue volunteers that DW knows and hope for the best.

The real problem we have is Poppy. She's a big problem, like 200 pounds big.
The neighbor who provides us with the raw milk for our pigs has all sorts of animals living in squalor. DW's heart aches every time she goes over there. She zeroed-in on this poor pet pig that was near death.

Two years later Poppy is healthy and happy and unbelievably charming. That Samuel Jackson line in Pulp Fiction.
Poppy is pure love. Actually, from within 50 feet she's pure barnyard odor but besides that, she's pure love.

We have this little utility trailer with the fold-down tailgate made out of steel mesh. There's no way Poppy could ever be led up the tailgate, she's totally unreasonable and has weird feet. So I'm making a carrier out of pallets. I have an old pair of snow skis to mount the carrier on but I still need to find two heavy duty wheels to make a sort of chariot.

This evacuation plan feels like about 12 minutes so obviously we'll need to do practice drills. I'll incorporate it into a kid-friendly exercise routine around the yard.
Last edited by RooBadley on Fri Oct 09, 2020 3:11 am, edited 4 times in total.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

12 minutes was wildly optimistic.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

My number for August 2020 is 167,700.

401k : 123,100
Taxable: 33,600
his IRA: 24,200
her IRA: 7,000
HSA: 16,400
kids' 529: 11,800

mortgage: (48,400)

Six accounts minus mortgage equals 167,700

My goal number was 614k by June 2028. This number is being revised upward based on the last 20 months progress. Not quite sure yet my new number, but if I assume 5% returns it goes way up over $700 k.
Last edited by RooBadley on Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:51 am, edited 2 times in total.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

DW sets out a mousetrap every night back where all her animals live. I have to stop what I'm doing to go release the mice. I don't mind at all because it's a forced opportunity to ride down to the river and back.

She includes a container filled with cat food and the hens' sunflower seeds. It's a ridiculous quantity of food. As if the mice are going to meet 100 new friends and have a welcome to the neighborhood party. There is still food scattered there from the last time. One time I brought back the container half full, and she got a little peeved about that. So now I have to take a minute to secretly separate cat food from sunflower seeds and give it back to their respective species.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

This journal is helping me. Similar to exercise, I'm seeing positive benefits already. It looks like there are 4 areas I will be working through here, in no particular order.

1. Tracking my number: Personal finance, goals, progress, setbacks, June 2028, and so on.
2. Envisioning what my retirement will look like.
3. Marriage: Marital tension is a ****ing drag. This journal will include Roo, holding up mirror, conducting marriage counseling sessions with Roo.
4. Mental health: Depression, anhedonia, avoidant, schizoid, the whole stinking crockpot.

I've had recent success in all 4 domains and this personal journal is definitely helping. Very encouraging.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

At work I need to keep track of my 90/180 Schengen restrictions. I'm allowed to stay in a Schengen zone country any 90 out of a rolling 180 days.
Ordinarily when I'm working outside the US I will be on a 21 day on/off rotation. My cross shift coworker is on duty now when I'm home.

The Schengen days get counted when immigration stamps your passport at the airports, so my travel days count against my Schengen 90. A 21 day rotation is really 23/19, so every 4th tour I need to take extra days off to reset.

Covid messed up everything this year. I was due to shift in to a Schengen country Feb 1st but didn't enter until about July 1st. My employer had to get my name onto some special paperwork as an essential worker and I also had the 4 week furlough in May.

My plan was to step on the accelerator to make up for all the lost income. Forget trying to remain steady 90/180, just max out 90 days in the Schengen country and then work in a non-Schengen country in November December until the calendar allows me to get back on a steady 90/180 with our Schengen zone customer. So far the plan is working great.

My European manager was in a real jam due to covid so she was happy to let me do 28 day tours this summer. She'll worry about finding someone to cover for me November and December later. My US manager is OK with it too. I'm essentially on loan for a daily rate from my employer to this European maintenance company.

I don't know what kind of temporary work situation I'll find myself in for Nov/Dec. This always induces anxiety because of the different group of people. As with any organization, more than half of these people I would really rather not see. But it is what it is and the extra overtime and per diem go along way toward making up for the furlough.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

Stop procrastinating, Roo. Computer off until woodshed full. Go.

RooBadley
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Re: RooBadley's Journal.

Post by RooBadley »

The woodshed is full. Yay me. The prepper.
It holds about 4 cords and we go through about 2 each winter. This week's task was to split and stack the two cords that will now season until next year. All I have outside now are the rounds I harvested last year.

Half of the western US is on fire this month. It seems to me that Mother Nature would like us to get a little more serious about thinning. Defensible space? Check. When we moved in 8 years ago, the elderly neighbors on either side were happy to let me go all defensible in their yards too.

When I get home from my next work trip a few days before Halloween I'll head out to one of my wood gathering spots for my favorite part, marking. Choosing recently downed dead trees sitting up a bit on older downed rotten wood. Stepping quietly all around planning out my chainsaw day for maximum efficiency. A great solitude day.

Then DW comes out with me for chainsaw day. Loud and stinky. (The chainsaw.) After that a couple more great solitude days gathering up the rounds. Doing my token gesture to help unwind a century of fire suppression.

About 10-15 years ago I thought all self-respecting preppers needed plenty of guns and ammo. Over approximately 5 years I traded a lot of perfectly good cash for a safe full of guns and a ton of ammo that is sitting with desiccant in cat litter pails. My perspective changed with the help of The Archdruid Report and I was able to easily sell a few firearms before they changed the law requiring federal paperwork for private sales.

I'd still like to go Marie Kondo on 4 firearms and a half ton of ammo. Just keep basic home defense. But I'm going to lose real money. I placed a few half-hearted ads on Armslist.com. The only nibbles I got were from felons asking if I'm willing to sell without the background check. And it looks like ammo collections sell for not even half retail. Horrible 'investment'.

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