reepicheep's journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Long time reader, first post. I've been reading Mr. MMM for a couple of years (three? four?) and Jacob for at least a couple, but only started my first real grown-up job in March of 2014. so mostly my knowledge up to this point was theoretical. I just did a lot of reading.

I'm 24, an officer in the military, currently stationed in Europe. I have 3ish years left on my commitment and I'm most likely not going to re-up (I like it but husband doesn't and isn't willing to follow me around for years). I may join the Reserves or the Guard. I'm most of the way through a MA in Psych but haven't finished my thesis, because I hate my thesis and also can't remember how to do statistics. It's on the to-do list.

I'm newly married and about to buy a house in the states. Husband is 38, basically zero savings and about 25k in student loans. He is, however, much more employable than me. He's a Culinary Institute of America grad with 10+ years of corporate restaurant experience in NYC, which means he can and has worked every job in a restaurant from dishwasher to general manager. It's very easy for him to find and keep jobs, he's just really shitty at saving money and also experienced about a year off work a couple years ago from a medical condition that eventually led to back surgery (he's fine now but it basically wiped him out financially. One of the reasons I may go reserves is to mitigate the potential cost of health insurance over the next several decades).

I was born lucky and have been able to graduate without debt, thanks to the generous forethought of my grandparents and substantial scholarships. Skill-wise I'm somewhat limited to what I currently do for work, which basically means I need to work for the military or a three letter agency (and this limits my location options as well--the house we've bought is not located somewhere where I am likely to find a job doing something like what I'm doing now). After I get out of the military I'll be able to take advantage of the G.I. bill if I want to go into some new line of work. No idea what that line is, though. At the moment I'd like to work for NOLS or Outward Bound (I did a NOLS trip after I graduated high school) or make furniture. Neither of those require more education, just work experience.

Where I'm at currently:

Vanguard Taxable account: $82,000
-61k in VTSAX
-21k in VTIAX
(This is the last vestiges of my trust fund, I just used 20k of it to put a downpayment on a house. More on that later. My mission here has been to not screw up a good thing. At the moment I contribute about $60/month to this account, mostly just to have the habit of putting money into it instead of taking money out of it. I lived off of it for 5 years before and during college, though I didn't have to take tuition money out until I started a graduate program, which is now fully paid for.)

Vanguard Brokerage account: $140
(This is an experiment based on some of what I've read here about dividends, I buy a share at the rate of about 1.5/month...I realize this gets me basically nowhere. I contribute $100/month to this account.)

Vanguard 529: $4000

-$3,500 in Vanguard Total Stock Market Portfolio
-$750 in Vanguard Total International Stock Index Portfolio
(I contribute $100/month to this, it's in my name right now but not for me--I eventually plan to have a kid. Most likely I'll adopt. I was enormously lucky to get substantial help with my college degree and graduated debt free, and that's something I care about passing on to my future child. However, after witnessing a lot of problems with my sister's use of her trust fund, I decided that a regular brokerage account that transferred ownership to the child at 21 wasn't how I wanted to do things--hence, the 529. If my kid decides not to use it, I'll find a qualified beneficiary in the family or pay the penalty of withdrawal, I suppose).

Roth IRA in USAA: $1900
-5 shares in Amazon
(There used to be other investments here but I moved it all to Lending Club...I've gone through several different brokerages with my Roth IRA over the last few years).

Husband's Roth IRA: $1000
-All in the Vanguard 2030
(He's unaware he has a Roth IRA, but he won't let me help him use my money to pay off his remaining student loans, some 25k at 6%, 7%, and so I'm not going to let his tax-advantaged space go to waste. Plus if something happens to me or our relationship he'll have some savings, and I want him to be taken care of. He's not anywhere close to as interested in finances as I am, though I've seen a lot of improvement in that regard over the last 4 years. I'm hoping to max this out in 2014 but I'm not sure I'll be able to--we just got married a month ago. I should be able to max it in 2015).

Lending Club Roth IRA: $18000
(I max this out every year and have for the last several, I see about an 11% ROI though I expect that to go down over time).

Lending Club taxable account: $10000
(Opening a taxable account was a terrible idea, if you're thinking about it don't do it. Taxes are a nightmare. I'm slowly drawing this down--I don't make any re-investments with the interest I receive--and putting the money into my LC Roth and using the money to pay off a 25k loan I took out at the beginning of my military career. More on that later).

Thrift Savings Plan: $11000 in the Roth version, I'm putting a tiny smidge each month in the Traditional version as well. I'm putting a smidge more than $1500/month in now. My tax brackets are basically a crap shoot, I'll probably be at 15% my whole life, but I like the Roth version because when I get out of the military I can roll it over into an IRA and then withdraw the principal after 5 years.
C Fund Common Stock Index: $4000
S Fund Small Cap Stock Index: $3000
I Fund International Stock Index: $2000
G Fund Government Securities: $1400
(I was only able to put about $1000/month in this between March 2014 and December 2014, and I wasn't able to contribute immediately after entering active duty as it takes time to set-up. I also had to reduce contributions prior to moving to Europe as I needed a bit of extra cash wiggle-room to get a rental agreement set up and pay for some moving expenses that I eventually got reimbursed for. I'm hoping to max it out in 2015 and put the full 18k in.

Random other assorted accounts:
-About 1.5k in a joint account I have with my husband. I took 1k out of it to put into his Roth IRA because I needed cash to open up the 2030 account. I contribute $250/month to this account. He has been as well but for various reasons his contributions (more later) have been temporarily stopped. I am also paying in an extra $70/month for the next 20 months to put back in the $1500 I needed to withdraw for my new rental deposit. I'm hoping to get it up to about 5 or 6k now that we've got the house to worry about.
-At the moment, ~27k in a checking account. This is downpayment money, we're closing (hopefully!) on the 27th of February. The downpayment will be $25,300, I've already sent in $1300 escrow and paid for a bunch of inspections and insurance from this account. Seller will cover further closing costs.
-An editing business account with about $200 in it at the moment. I've steadily lost money on this business for 2 years now, but I'm working hard to turn that around and I think I've finally cracked the code on how to make money at it (the answer was as simple as charge more...people are apparently willing to pay absolutely incredible amounts to get their essays edited...I've been shocked at how much).

-18634k debt at 3% interest, I pay $500/month to this, about $40 more than I have to. I took this loan out when I was still a ROTC cadet and invested it in Lending Club. I've managed to make enough interest in Lending Club to more than cover the amount of interest I will be charged if I pay it off slowly over the next 4ish years (it's a 5 year repayment plan and I've been paying it for a year now. As I stated above, I've been moving what I invested in a taxable account into a Roth IRA with Lending Club, and also paying down the original loan with the interest I've made. I took out a few withdrawals as well, mostly to cover the cost of a $2500 motorcycle and the assorted gear I need to ride it safely).
-$3000 on a Chase slate card at 0% interest. I have about 9 months left to pay this back before it switches to 12%. I threw $1500 at it this month, I don't expect to have any issues getting it to zero before it goes to 12%.
-$1300 on a business credit card at 4% interest, mostly for accounting reasons I don't want to put my business charges on my slate card even though I wouldn't have to pay any finance fees. This is a recurring balance; I'm paying someone for SEO and I'm not making enough yet to cover the SEO expense. Giving that a six month trial period (we're on month 2) before I axe it and call it quits with the business, basically).

Totalish: $6584
-$2934 Base Pay (This gets taxed)
-$253 BAS (This is for food, it's tax-free)
-$1444 BAH (This is for rent and utilities and it's tax-free, but it's a little complicated. It fluctuates with the exchange rate. Overseas, I don't get to keep any excess BAH the way I would in the states. Instead, the military pays my rent exactly and I transfer the money automatically to my landlord. However, my rent is about $785/month. The excess is for utilities, so if I spend 0$ on utilities I pocket an additional $660/month or so. In Europe, they charge an estimated monthly bill for utilities--gas and electric. For me, my bill is at $120/month. However, I never turn on the heat and I rarely turn on the lights--I walk around with an LED rechargeable head-lamp or a solar-powered lantern. The only time the lights are on is if I'm cooking, which I spend a whole day on about once a month. I also rarely shower at home--I bring my stuff to the gym on base, work-out, and use their hot water heaters to enjoy a luxurious shower and sauna on the gov't dime. Having the heat off in the bathroom and it being 1 degree C outside does not encourage home-showers. I'm kind of a wuss that way. Anyway long story short, I expect get money back from the utility companies next January, because I doubt I'm using all of the $120 I'm paying them. Additionally, now that I'm married, unaccompanied, and my husband lives back in the US, I'll receive the dependent-rate BAH at his zip code while I'm still stationed here in Europe. So for the next 21 months I'll get an extra tax-free $1600/month in BAH. After I move, whether I continue to get this money or not will depend on where I am stationed and whether he is added to my orders, and I have very little control over either of those things I think).
-$353 COLA (This is tax free and is designed to maintain my purchasing power from the dollar to the euro, it fluctuates with the exchange rate).
-Random other shit, my paycheck changes every month a little bit because the military personnel system is fucked up. Last month they took out $358 because they overpayed me in November. I never see the same end-of-month figure twice.

House (I don't know whether to classify this as an investment or a liability):

The house is $135,000 and we'll be taking out a mortgage on $108,000. For those following the numbers, husband contributed 10k to the down payment. The inspection didn't find any immediate big issues, but we will need to install a radon system (Radon at 4.0) and the garage roof will likely need to be replaced in a couple of years. I'm anticipating about 5k in maintenance over the next 3-4 years. Interest rate isn't locked in yet but will likely be around 3.65%, according to our lending agent (little tip: DON'T use USAA, I had to switch because they were just god-awful). House is a duplex/condo, single-level, with a $100 HOA. Mortgage will be something like 700/month, I forget the exact number. Husband will be covering the mortgage while I'm living overseas/stationed elsewhere.

General Lifestyle
-As previously mentioned, I don't use electricity or gas heating. I do use hot water for washing dishes and clothes, but I don't use the dish washer or dryer. I have no idea how much money this saves, but I don't feel a real lack in my life (I don't tell my co-workers that I walk around my house with a down jacket on though).

-I own a motorcycle, an electric bike, and a regular mountain bike. I've been using the regular mountain bike to get to work since I got here in November, and have thus far ridden a couple of days in snow and ice-rain and down to temperatures as low as -1 degree C. My co-workers are fairly impressed by this, even though my commute is only 3 miles and mostly on bike paths. The motorcycle is currently sitting unregistered and un-fueled in the garage after shipping it here...but I'm keeping it because I'm 24 and I like motorcycles. And eventually I'll get my shit together and get it ready to ride. I'm trying to sell the electric bike (because I'd rather get the exercise). So far no takers, but a lot of inquiries, so I'm hopeful.

-I spend a lot of money on train tickets and food when I'm out travelling, probably about 200-300 euro a month, though that's declined a bit as the house purchase has loomed. So far I've been able to Couchsurf wherever I go so I save money that way, but travel is probably my number one expense after rent.
-I don't know how much I spend on food, but not very much for what I cook and eat at home (when I'm not gallivanting around Europe). Probably about $150/month. I make large batch crockpot meals and freeze them, and take breakfast/lunch/dinner to work every day (I spend a lot of time at work).

-My landlord and I split a wifi connection, I give him 20 euro a month.

-I like to order stuff on Amazon. For me, for other's a weakness.

-I buy clothes only rarely (I'm on the same pair of jeans for 2 years now, I darn my socks when they have holes, and my mother in law likes to give me clothes on the regular).

-I cut my own hair (I shave it down to an inch, I look a bit like a hedgehog...haven't figured out how to taper it properly. It's a new thing for me...I saw the prices here and decided I wasn't going to pay 35 euro for a damn haircut. It used to be waist length, but I thought it'd be easier to buzz it).

If you've made it this far, I commend you. Things I'm thinking about:

-What's the best use for that extra $1600/month? Ideally husband would use it to pay down his student loans, but he has the silly idea that they are 100% his responsibility and that he must use only his own earned money to pay them off. I've basically lost that fight. He wants to put it all into the house and pay down the mortgage ASAP. I'm fine with this idea in the sense that there's certainly lots worse things we could do with an extra 35k ($1600 x 21 months), but it's such a low interest rate that I know (in theory) we could get more by investing it. Also, I'm not sure that the house we've bought is going to be our forever home--my goal is a little piece of property with an off-the-grid cabin on it somewhere in the Pacific Northwest or Colorado, and husband is down for that as long as there's internet--and I don't know that building up so much equity in this house when we might end up renting it out or selling it in a few years. He's open to other possibilities and we are going to top up the emergency fund/joint account before we throw it all at the house, but I don't really know what else to do with it.

-Dividend investing vs. index fund investing and the overall future of the stock market. My Vanguard account was put together by my grandfather, who was a big fan of low-cost index fund investing and really did right by my sister and I (read: If it was good enough for him, how arrogant would I be to mess with it?). He had the money in a number of different funds when I was able to access it at 21, ranging from a health care fund to an energy fund. Over the last several years I've been a pretty staunch Boglehead and consolidated down to basically a 2 fund portfolio (I had a bond fund for awhile as well, and a REIT for a year, but when I was able to access the G fund in the TSP I stopped investing in bonds in my vanguard account). I don't fully understand dividend investing and I'm not sure it's right for me at this time in my life, but like all of you I want to be able to say Fuck You to full-time paid employment pretty quickly here and I'm considering that index fund investing may not be the way to do that, and/or that the US economy may go belly-up sometime in the next 5-10 years, making dividends more attractive than the S&P 500. That said, the majority of my monthly contributions are going to tax-advantaged accounts and the TSP doesn't have anything like dividends, so if I continue to invest the way I have been there won't be substantial dividend funds in my future, unless I convert what I currently have in Vanguard.

-I have no real sense of my expenses each month. I throw gobs of money at investment accounts and gobs of money at the debt I have, but I really don't know how much I spend each month, and sometimes I have credit card debt that carries over because I've decided on the spur of the moment that I need train tix to go to Amsterdam this weekend. My interest rates on my cards are very low and so this irresponsibility doesn't really have any painful consequences, but the rates are low because of the Service Member's Civil Relief Act and they won't stay that way after my commitment is up. One of my goals for this year is to get a handle on my monthly expenses. I've tried Mint and YNAB and neither really works for me, for various reasons. My next attempt is going to be a spreadsheet starting in March (we're waiting for the house stuff to settle); husband and I will be tracking expenses together. Hopefully it will be illuminating for us both.

-I feel compelled to finish my thesis basically because it's all that's left between me and my MA, but I don't see any actual future where having it is useful to me. I don't have to pay any more money to get it, but I do have to write the damn thesis. I'm not going to be a psychologist or a counselor or anything that requires a degree in psychology (my BA was in Middle Eastern Studies). However, I don't have a clear idea of what my post-military career/life is going to look like, and everybody in my life is telling me I need to finish it.

-Eventually we're going to have some kind of real-fake wedding. We eloped, it was $150, I spent $299 on the rings. My parents don't know we're married and I would at some point like to have an actual wedding. We were originally intending to have it on a beach at Point Reyes, CA, in April 2015 and barbecue there, so it wasn't going to be expensive, but now I'm not sure how much it'll be/when it will be/where it will be.

-If I'm going to buy a car, I should probably do it while I'm stationed in Europe. I learned to drive stick on my sponsor's car once I got over here, and got practice on her 1996 BMW for 3 weeks before I got fully settled and able to bike for the majority of my transportation needs. I generally feel like the inspection process is stricter over here and the highway speeds higher, so the cars available for sale on the base lot are better taken care of than a lot of used cars in the U.S. Plus, I can get a manual, and if the car is older than 20 years I don't pay any taxes when I take it home with me. However, I don't particularly want a car...I'm pretty happy with my bike, and also think that if I had one I would be tempted to drive to work when it's cold and nasty out instead of toughing it out and biking. When I get back to the states, though, I don't know what my living/work situation will be and I may really need a car. It's unlikely I'll be stationed near husband for my last year of service, so I can't use his car (he has a 2008 Subaru Outback Automatic).

-Is there a job where I can teach people how to save and invest that doesn't require me to push high-fee index funds I don't believe in?

So long! Very long! Didn't read! :-p And (my) (parenthesis) are (so) messed (up).

Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Thought I'd burn through the 21 day makeover, just for funsies.

Day 1: Finding a place to live

My current rent is $785/month. This fluctuates a little bit based on the euro to dollar conversion rate, but it doesn't really matter. When overseas in the military, each person gets a certain amount available for housing depending on their rank and number of dependents (dependents who live with them). I am substantially under my total available amount, something like $1500/month, but unfortunately I don't get to keep the excess. I reported my lease amount when I in-processed and I receive exactly that amount each month. When I was looking for housing, though, my priority was to find someplace that I could bike to work from. This apartment was the closest available place to my work, about 5 km, and I'm very happy with it. I live above my local landlord and his family and have worked hard at establishing social capital with him. I bring gifts for his kids when I travel, take his 10 year old daughter to the movies and work with her on her English, and go shopping with his wife. In return, I get to borrow their vacuum, get the occasional ride to work when it snows, and they feed me sometimes (tonight I had delicious potato soup).

Verdict: Current living situation is acceptable per ERE guidelines.

Husband has previously been paying $1100 month for a one bedroom in the states. We received a lease termination notice about 5 weeks ago (it was 4 AM and I was in Amsterdam when he started texting me freaking out). After several days of brainstorming, we decided the best way to solve this problem was to buy a house. For various reasons, some rational and some emotional, husband is very against any kind of shared living rental situation, though he's promised he'll consider renting out a room in our new house and I intend to hold him to that. He's at least going to need to put it up on craigslist and see what kind of interest he gets. I'm hoping that being the landlord in a shared living situation will mitigate some of his concerns. The new house, including the HOA and property taxes, will be around $800/month.

I am not overly thrilled with the fact that we are purchasing a house in the location that we're purchasing for the amount we're purchasing it for, however it seems to be the best solution to the current problem of "where will husband live and how will he afford it?" House is not in the same state where husband is currently living, but it's closer to a large city with reasonably good public transportation options into said city, with more outdoor activities access and more importantly, more water access. Husband is not really into worrying about climate change, but his current location is going to be even more of a climate problem in a few years than it already is. House is also within a 3 mile bike ride of a grocery store, a library, and public transportation into the city (though unfortunately it's a bus to a train), as well as a number of other business and facilities that I'm fairly pleased about. However, I don't know how accessible it will be to whatever I'm doing for work in a few years when I get out of the military, because I don't know what I'll be doing for work. If I'm building furniture in the garage then no problem, if I'm commuting into the city 1.5 hrs one way it's going to be a lot more obnoxious. Hopefully my editing business can pick up some of the slack by the time I get out of the military.

Husband also got let go from his job shortly after receiving the termination of lease notice. He's reasonably happy about it, under the circumstances, since he was going to be giving his 2 week notice pretty shortly anyway, but at least this way he can collect unemployment for a few months. He ran a successful kickstarter recently and raised twice as much as he was trying to get for a new business, which has been steadily picking up steam over the past year. This business requires him to fulfill orders through the mail, but he also needs to establish wholesale connections and sell at farmer's markets and fairs, so wherever we're living he's going to be driving around the surrounding areas with boxes of product in the back seat and there's really no way around that. If he can't get the business to cover living expenses, he'll need to find a full time job in the area and that's going to require either a commute into the city or a reverse commute out into wine country.

I'm not happy that we're taking out a mortgage for 108k, but owning a house was in the 10 year plan before all this shit happened. My ideal was to spend about 60k on a piece of property and build a cottage/small house of some kind. I'm really into the tiny house movement, husband thinks he needs about 600 sq ft to be happy. He's also not a big fan of the loft beds common in many tiny homes, and in fairness...those low ceilings do not really promote vigorous sexual activity. Regardless, if the plan had continued as intended I think we would have found a way to compromise when the time came. We were also saving about $500 a month in preparation for this house, but that fund has been pretty close to wiped out by the new house purchase/job loss/moving expenses/1k I put into a spousal IRA for him.

Now that we have this house, I don't necessarily think that the 10 year plan has been smooshed to smithereens, if anything this series of unfortunate events has perhaps sped up the plan. A mortgage is actually an excellent savings vehicle for husband, because he sucks at saving and because once you put money into a house it's much harder to take it out than it is from a savings account. We aren't paying PMI and home values are rising steadily where we've purchased, so it's quite likely that in 10 years we'll be able to sell the home and get a fair bit of equity out of it--maybe even enough to do the property/cottage idea in cash. If we don't need the cash, we may keep the home and rent it out, then live elsewhere. I'll have access to the VA loan when I get out and we may find a way to take advantage of that somehow as well.

Verdict: Husband's house situation is as good as it's likely to be in the short term. If he takes in a renter he will be close to ERE guidelines; when I am out of the military it'll be about $400/month for both of us so pretty close to that $300 figure. Location relative to my future work is an unknown. I don't anticipate selling the house within the next 5 years as I think that would be financially a wash.

Day 2: Stuff is Stupid

I sell stuff on bookoo when I don't need it...I've had some decent luck with that (apparently cheap humidifiers are hot commodities here!), and also acquired a number of items I needed when I moved in, either from bookoo or for free from my landlord. I also got rid of a lot of stuff when I moved out to Europe, or never bothered to acquire it when I entered active duty in the first place.

My possessions do NOT include:
-A kitchen table
-Kitchen chairs
-A couch
-Any kind of living room furniture
-Book shelves
-Coffee tables

My possessions DO include:
-1 memory foam mattress (on the floor)
-1 computer table and desktop computer (computer built by husband)
-several plastic boxes I store clothes in
-a crockpot (basically my most useful possession after my bike)
-various other kitchen gadgetry, some of it broken because I apparently don't understand European electricity (I've tried to fix everything I've broken...some of it was repairable and some of it isn't, but I also can't figure out how to get rid of the shit that's permanently broken because I don't understand how the trash works, either)
-a couple of plates, silverware etc, mostly a lot of pyrex for storing and feezing large quantities of food
-2 pedal bikes and assorted safety gear
-1 motorcycle and assorted riding/safety gear
-about a dozen books, I buy digital copies now for almost everything but can't seem to part with the last vestiges of my little library
-lots of posters and maps and pictures of places I've been
-1 snowboard, boots, helmet
-Clothes mostly given to me or bought at the thrift store
-A couple of folding TV tray tables
-File folder box for papers
-Ottoman foot stool (hollow, used for storage)
-Pull-up bar, kettle-bell, jump rope
-Sleeping bag, thermarest, 2 hard-shell suitcases
-Solar powered lantern
-back pack
-1 sheet set, toiletries, one camping towel
-An enormous number of pillows (I like pillows)
-Some art and drawing supplies
-1 pair hair clippers
-2 pair sandals, 1 pair flats, 1 pair sneakers, 1 pair work boots, 1 pair work dress shoes, 1 pair motorcycle boots, 1 pair snowboard boots (I think I could probably get rid of at least one pair sandals)

Possessions that aren't coming with me when I leave/stuff the military is loaning me:
-about a dozen carpets I bought off bookoo because I never turn on the heat and the floor is fucking freezing
-two wardrobes the military loans me
-hot water heater (borrowed from landlord)
-kitchen table (borrowed from landlord)
-kitchen chairs (borrowed from landlord)
-washing machine and dryer the military loans me (I don't use the dryer, I just hang dry stuff)

I expect that when I leave in 2 years I'll be selling a lot of stuff before I go. I hope to leave with less stuff than I arrived with, but in the meantime I've listed a few items on bookoo and will probably continue to sell stuff as the mood strikes me. Anybody want a pile of small broken electronic shit?

Not really sure about husband's stuff. Our apartment in the states is across the street from a thrift store and we acquired a lot of cheap furniture when we moved in. He is trying to take it with him to the new house and it is increasing the cost of moving (when we moved to the apartment 2 years ago we could fit all of our stuff in the Subaru, now he is having to rent a U-Haul for just his stuff). However, a lot of the need for the U-Haul is related to the fact that he has boxes of product in the living room--several hundred pounds--and he can't fit all that in the Subaru along with the rest of his stuff. On the whole, we don't own very much. New house is also coming equipped with a microwave and washer/dryer, fridge/freezer, so at least we won't need to shell out for that.

Verdict: If my coworkers knew I slept on a mattress on the floor and ate off a broken kitchen table that'd been left outside for six months, they'd probably wonder what the hell is wrong with me. Husband's stuff is mostly related to his business and is otherwise negligible. Hopefully he won't be tempted to fill the house with more stuff--it's smaller than the apartment, but has another bedroom, so we'll see.
Last edited by reepicheep on Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Ok! Second attempt at food!

First, unrelated to 21-day-challenge:

I've been talking to a young co-worker of mine over the last several weeks. Our first conversation focused on the fact that she had some kind of money from family--grandparents I think--and she was thinking of investing it in stocks or otherwise moving it from where it's currently invested, though she didn't know how it was currently invested. So we spoke about the difficulty of stock picking and how she really doesn't have time to be a day trader, which was her general impression of how the stock market worked. We also spoke about the TSP and the differences between Roth/Trad accounts, IRAs, etc.

We've had several more conversations since then, including one where I recommended she check out Mr. MMM after she told me she was reading "Rich Dad, Poor Dad." To my surprise, she mentioned yesterday that she had in fact started at his first blog post and was making her way through...and had also started reading the blog at ERE. I assume she got here from MMM, because I didn't tell her about Jacob (I didn't want to scare her off so soon!). I am pretty excited about her interest in this subject, because now there is somebody at work I can chat with. I even bought this book: ... ry+finance so I could read it and give it to her afterwards (I also loaned her Jacob's book from my kindle). Maybe we can even start some kind of finance club., if you see this, hello! Now you know how crazy I really am.



1. I don't know how much I spend on food. It's not close to $80.

2. I spend a lot of money on food when I'm travelling.

3. I eat a pretty strict Paleo diet and have some fairly substantial health issues with gluten. I also have a hard time digesting sort-of-paleo staples like beans, rice, and lentils. I can eat a little bit at a time once or twice a week, but if I make any of that a main part of my diet I have severe stomach pain. About the only cheap staple I can keep on hand and eat a lot of is potatoes and onions, though I do occasionally eat small quantities of rice and corn flour (in tacos).

4. I currently shop off of recipes instead of loss leaders.

5. If I buy vegetables and don't cook them they go bad. Raw veggies and me don't like each other.


1. I'm able to shop and cook once a month for all my needs. Because of my car situation (or lack thereof), I go shopping with landlord's wife and we load up her mini-van. She gets access to American products on base, I get to buy a bunch of food at once. Win-win. Cooking is generally 2-3 large crockpot (6 qts) meals along with 3 dozen eggs mixed into some kind of egg-muffin (contents vary, this month it's a tomato-spinach-Havarti cheese blend). I also go through a LOT of Clementines, frozen blueberries, and mixed nuts. This is the book I get crockpot recipes from: ... UTF8&psc=1. I've been very happy with it.

2. If I need to, I can actually do grocery shopping by bike. The commissary is on my way home from work and one day for the lols I went shopping there. I managed to get 2 grocery bags bungi corded to the back of my bike and 3 dozen eggs in my backpack, so if landlord's wife for some reason couldn't take me shopping...I wouldn't starve to death. I also have a kiddie trailer for my bike that I could hook up and do substantially more hauling with, though I've never used it for anything except to take my dog for a ride (dog was not a fan). If I'd actually planned my shopping trip and brought a duffle bag, this picture wouldn't look so ghetto.

3. On-base shopping is tax-free and in USD, not the Euro. There's also a VERY cheap meat section where the stuff that's getting close to it's expiration date is frozen and marked down. I buy a lot of meat so while I worry about the quality, this is where I shop from.

Solutions to problems:

1. Starting March 1 I'll be tracking food costs. I've got an excel spreadsheet and everything, I'll probably share it here once there's something actually on it.

2. I'm thinking all solve this with some kind of paleo banana-almond-egg bar, like a home-made MRE or Cliff bar or something. I don't travel for the food, most of the time, I just haven't brought enough with me to get me through my little weekend jaunts, or at least offset the cost of a few meals.

3. If somebody knows a paleo-friendly staple that can sit in my kitchen for a month or two, I will gladly buy more of it (even quinoa tends to cause me problems).

4. I'm not going to worry about this until I solve the first two problems. If I solve the first two problems and then find that I'm spending substantially more than $100/month on food, I'll start trying to build my crockpot meals off of what's on sale.

5. Unless I hit some obvious nutritional deficiency I'm not going to worry about this. I put a lot of veggies in my crockpot and egg meals. I understand that long slow cooking can remove some of the nutrients, but better to get something that way than to buy vegetables and throw them away 2 weeks later.


Despite being a Culinary School grad, husband really doesn't like cooking (I think school beat the pleasure out of it for him). At the moment his diet consists of Trader Joe's salads and the occasional take-out pizza, so lots of room for improvement, but it's not something I really plan on harping on. His diet of pre-made salad is substantially better than it used to be--before we moved across the US we ordered a ton of take-out, because our kitchen was super tiny and he had a much more stressful full-time job in the corporate restaurant world. I'm more concerned with his nutrition than how much he spends on food, and if pre-made salad is what it takes for him to eat reasonably well then pre-made salad is where it's at. When I'm home on leave he does eat better, though we also go out more (because I'm home on leave and it's usually some kind of special occasion...last time I was home we got married). When I live at home full-time we'll be back into some kind of normal routine.

The house we're buying also comes with an extra freezer, left behind by the previous tenants, so eventually when I get out of the military we'll buy half a grass-fed cow or something and freeze it. I was able to do this with my dad a few years ago when I spent most of the summer with him and it was absolutely amazing to have all that good meat readily available for so cheap. Maybe as husband de-stresses from moving and finds his feet with his new business, he'll consider doing this as well, just for his own benefit.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by bradley »

Regarding your husband's eating habits, it's best to lead by example. When I met first my fiancee he basically ate TV dinners and pre-packed frozen food. I did mention to him once or twice that all that was incongruous with his fitness goals, but I didn't nag him. I just ate my homemade meals with fresh assorted fruits and vegetables, complete proteins, and little fluff. I wouldn't say he's made a complete 360, but he now eats salads every night, cooks at least twice a week, and ditched his soda habit. So there is certainly hope yet!

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Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

@Bradley, I've seen a lot of progress from husband these last few years, though I don't know how much to attribute to my own habits. He's stopped drinking soda almost entirely--the occasional diet coke, maybe once a month, is really all he drinks other than water (and a bit of bourbon now and then). So, I'm hopeful. I think spending a bunch of time around farmers markets selling his product will help too. :lol:

Well, been an interesting few days.

The bad:

1. Dropped my (new) phone. The screen is cracked and the swipe function is no longer working, and I am kicking myself for not buying a case. Sooo...I'm dropping $500 on a new phone and $40 on a case as close to the Otterbox as I can find, and this had better be my last new phone for a good many years. I know there are cheaper solutions out there, like I could buy a plan here in Europe and probably pay a dollar or two for a phone if I were willing to commit to a contract, but that monthly $40-$50 Euro is just...rough. Over the two years here I'd spend almost $500 more than just the price of a phone to be on a plan, and then when I went back to the states I wouldn't necessarily be able to even use the phone. Right now I spend $12/month for pre-paid minutes and limited data...and I'm happy with that, I don't need more.

I could also have bought a cheaper phone, or a refurbished phone, but I've been down that road before (multiple times) and have never ended up happy buying a bargain. I obviously don't NEED a smartphone (nobody needs a smartphone), but I do use it for almost everything when I travel, from GPS to train schedules to my bank to Whatsapping my Couchsurfing hosts, and it's hard to imagine replacing all of those functions with paper maps and Garmin and paying for phone calls and texts (that may make me pound foolish and penny wise).

And I could try to fix the phone, too, but it already had problems charging and so I think I'm just going to send it back to Amazon. Maybe they'll refund me, maybe they won't.

2. I also need to replace my motorcycle battery in preparation for an upcoming course that my safety rep wants me to take in order to get the bike registered here (even though I technically don't need to...the military, le sigh). The motorcycle has been in storage for 4 months and is now making a clicking noise instead of turning over the engine...I don't actually know that the problem is the battery. I just think it is based on a conversation with a rider in my office, and it's also possible that trickle charging it would do the trick, but I don't know how old the battery is. I figured to be on the safe side I ought to both replace it and buy a trickle charger for next winter. I'm picking it up tomorrow and it's going to be about 60 euro.

3. And continuing the bad news, due to a snafu with my TSP contributions, I'll only be receiving about $600 in my end of month paycheck. My entire TSP contribution is going to be taken out of that end of month paycheck instead of split between the mid-month pay and the end of month pay. Of course, I got paid more in mid-month, but most of that money has been spent already--mostly on credit card payments and gone into husband's Roth. I thought that the mid-month boost was from the increase I got to my BAH from being married--it was almost exactly the same amount. Turns out not, and with the closing date for the house looming (27th!) and my own rent needing to be paid at the end of the month, it's going to be very, very tight. It'll be good practice though I suppose. I'm trying to avoid removing anything from savings. How little can I spend between now and the 15th of March?

The good:

1. My younger sister got accepted to a Birthright Israel trip this summer and so will be able to come out and visit me for a few weeks afterward. Birthright is a "free" trip to Israel for Jewish youth aged 18-26, and it's a lot of fun. I did it a few years ago as well, you just have to accept that "free" comes with a whole load of Israeli propaganda and that you get a rose-colored view of Israel.

2. My sister is quite the intrepid young traveler herself, and so when I mentioned taking a bicycle tour (something I promised myself I'd do while I'm out here), she was more than game. I'm very excited about this as it's the kind of trip I've wanted to take for a long time, but haven't had anyone willing to go with me. I'm more than willing to fling myself on a train and into a stranger's living room, but it's a bit more challenging to conceive of a solo-bike trek, at least for my first time.

Now there is so much to plan for. Do I buy a touring bike? I'm not riding my walmart-special across Europe, and my sister won't be buying a bike while she's here. Should be both rent? Where should we go? Is there any reasonable chance of planning it ourselves, or should we stick to self-guided organized tours with housing and luggage transfer arranged? I'd be alright with a self-planned trek at some point in the future, but I'm a bit less willing to subject my younger sister to my lack of experience for both of our first trips. Plus, I'm not sure I'm prepared to invest in the gear or bike really required of an extended bike journey. What if I take this trip and never want to do another? I think it's unlikely, but 25-30 miles a day is not the same as a 6 mile round trip commute. Will I like it as much as I think I will? There are a number of trips that are fairly reasonably priced--500 to 600 euro or so, including the bike, accommodations, luggage transfer, and breakfast for 7-8 days. I don't think I could really do it cheaper at this point, especially with my sister needing to rent all her gear when she gets out here. Still, the idea of doing a real adventure trip--camping, cooking, the whole works--is really tempting. I love that kind of thing, I just don't know whether my sister would hold up to it, and I want her to enjoy her trip here.

3. My financially-minded co-worker has ripped through Jacob's book and told me she plans to buy a kindle version herself so she can read it several more times. We have a prodigy on our hands, folks. We're also now mutually planning the first meeting of a finance club. A fellow from the Airman and Family Readiness Center who teaches finance is going to come talk to our respective offices sometime in early March. I've had to find a place for his talk (I think I have a place, not confirmed yet though) and my coworker is sparking up some interest--she has a sign up sheet of 16 people so far, and that's not including anyone from my own office. I'm hoping we can get this guy to do two different sessions so that the different shifts all have an opportunity to attend, and then after these sessions we can collect names of people who are interested in meeting regularly to learn more about personal finance.

I'm not sure how to organize those sessions, exactly, if there's even enough interest for more than one. I doubt anyone has time for a book club, but maybe I could arrange a series of guest speakers? (Any European ERErs want to come talk to a room full of young American military folks?) Everyone's interests are so broad, I feel like if I address some of their questions myself I'll leave out half the I'm just a rank amateur when it comes to stock investing, which some of them are very interested in. I've taught basic financial classes in the past, the problem is these folks are all on different levels and I don't know how I would tailor the material to meet their needs best.

Regardless of whether we manage to get an ongoing club going or not, I'm pleased there's so much early interest and hopeful we can find a time, day, and location that work for most people who want to attend.


Day 4: Cell Phones

Well, you got me here, Jacob. I am spending WAY TOO MUCH on the phone itself, even if the data access cost is minimal. My job requires me to be reachable even when I'm not working, though, so until I no longer have this job, I do actually need a phone (I did meet an instructor without a cell phone once...he was a bit higher ranking than me though and more able to get away with it).

Here's the math on the monthly plan:

$12/month x 300 = 3600 / ~2368 = 1.52 months delay

Not bad, but it doesn't reflect the amount of money I've spent on phones in the last year (which I really don't want to think's close to 1k. I shouldn't be allowed to own a phone without a run-over-me-with-a-truck-and-I'll-still-function case). Back in the states, I'm still on the family plan, which my mother and my aunt are paying for. I have no intention of reminding them that I'm an adult and should pay for my own phone until they force me to, though. The phone payments are the last vestiges of my childhood. My part of the plan is currently on military hold, so nobody is paying anything.

Husband's work paid for his phone and his plan, but when he got laid off he had to give the phone back and didn't have the plan anymore. I convinced him to check out Republic Wireless before he went into another AT&T contract for 2 years, something he was really loathe to do anyway so it didn't take much convincing. He purchased 1st Gen Moto X and I think the $30/month plan and hasn't complained since then so I think he must be reasonably content with the phone quality and data access. I think Republic Wireless will be a good choice for him. With the business and driving around to new locations to sell product I think the data access he has will be definitely helpful for GPS and managing orders away from the computer. I imagine he may also use it to take credit card orders, though he has a fairly shitty tablet that might work for that too.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

We've had a series of really interesting last minute snafus with the closing--I knew the last week before closing was going to be stressful, but I thought it'd be over financing, not all this other shit.

1. The title company waited until the very last moment to send the paperwork to my mom, who has power of attorney for me while I'm overseas. She signed everything, but then all the paperwork got held up by UPS because of a snowstorm. Instead of closing on Friday, we won't be able to close until Monday at the earliest.

2. The title company also needed my boss to fill out some paperwork basically verifying that I work for the military, how much I get paid, when my next raise is, how secure my job is, and whether or not I'm a POW/MIA (apparently me speaking on the phone with them is not enough to verify that I am alive and free). They waited until the very last minute to send this paperwork, too, and neglected to let me know the full scope of what they needed. If they had, I would have filled it out for my boss and presented it for his signature, saving him the trouble of looking up my records and working at night from home. To his credit, however, he's been really excellent about assisting me and very prompt with his responses. He's done everything he can to enable this process, including getting my leave approved, while I was still in training (a much more difficult process) on 4 hours notice several weeks ago so I could go home and get married/house hunt. He's what military leadership should be, but often isn't.

3. Since we were unable to close on Friday, we thought that husband might need to get a hotel for a couple of nights and keep the Uhaul an extra day. This was going to be really complicated as he's hired someone from our local area to drive the Uhaul while he drives the subaru. This person was also supposed to help him unload on Saturday night. Because of his previous back injury and surgery, he really ought not to be unloading the whole truck himself. The mattress is of particular concern since it is so large and unwieldy. The guy husband hired is flying back home early Sunday, and so if he wasn't able to occupy until Monday he would have had to hire someone else to help unload.

However, the sellers were willing to make a deal with us as closing on Monday would require them to pay an additional $400 to their lender(apparently mortgage interest isn't pro-rated and they would have been charged for the entire month of March). We are sending them $400 in cash to make up the charge and they are allowing us early occupancy over the weekend, solving the majority of these issues. Certainly it would have been more than $400 for husband to get a pet-friendly hotel for two nights, put up his helper in a hotel, keep the Uhaul for an extra 2 days, and hire someone new to help him move stuff out of the Uhaul.

Of course, none of this has happened yet because it is still early morning there and nobody but husband (who is currently driving) is awake to deal with all of this. And I'm still not 100% sure it's going to happen, it could all go to pot. I haven't heard from my real estate broker or the selling agent since last night my time, and nothing was finalized before I went to bed at 2 AM.

4. On the plus side, my lender assures me there are zero issues with financing and as soon as they get the documents we'll be good to go on that front. :roll:

5. And finally, I've put out some feelers on craigslist to people looking for room-share situations in the house location. There are a few likely prospects, older people with good employment who all say they are looking for a quiet, drama-free situation. I'm hoping that one of them works out.

Husband is quite leery of having a a house-share situation. In college his most memorable experience with a roommate was when the fellow drunkenly peed all over husband's clothes. Husband is a bit of a germaphobe already and so that no doubt made a bad situation worse. However, I am going to ask him to meet with anyone who expresses interest in what we have to offer. He can veto any particular renter if he wants, but he still needs to meet with them, at least. It'll be a much easier financial situation in the short-term if we can get him and a renter both paying down more than the cost of the mortgage each month, along with whatever extra we throw at it from the BAH we'll receive. We could double or triple our mortgage payment, at least for 2-3 years.

In other news, I was able to replace my motorcycle battery. The engine turns over now. Even this small, simple level of motorcycle maintenance feels good to have accomplished myself. I also bought a couple of gallons of gas and brought it home on the back of my bike; the tank had to be emptied for shipping and so there was just a few drops in there to get it running.

I'll be registering it next Friday and hopefully won't have to take the safety course (again)...and also hopefully won't have any major issues at the inspection. I've had to order a few pieces of hardware to replace some items that the movers lost, but so far it's been very straightforward to put the windshield back on and get a replacement bolt for the battery case. There are no obvious mechanical issues, however I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for and so it's quite possible that the inspection is going to find something else to replace or fix.

I've also managed to get two different finance seminars set up for my office. The guy from family readiness is coming next Thursday and the Thursday after to give a talk to anyone who wants to come; I've sent out an email, my coworker continues to recruit people to come. Hopefully there will be a decent sized crowd, though in retrospect I wish the email hadn't gone out on Friday afternoon. I may need to actually talk to people and remind them about it. :oops:

I would count it a success, though, if even 5 people showed up for each session. Whoever comes can be educators and catalysts for the rest of the office, and maybe they'll be interested in continuing to meet regularly.

I bought and read this: ... TF8&psc=1/ over the weekend. I can't say I was too impressed with it, honestly. It felt incredibly basic and almost too philosophical--not enough nitty gritty details about the financial realities of how to make early retirement happen.

That said, Newman warns that he's not going to discuss investing in depth and that readers will need to be familiar with these concepts or do some additional reading. The Appendices and the resources are all very good, and they considerably make up for the rest of the book. Bottom line I think I'm probably just not the target market for this book and that's why I didn't get much out of it--I'm already past the point of wanting to retire early and I'm well past the point of saving a butt ton of money every month to do so. I don't need any convincing that retiring early is possible or desirable, and that's his target market.

Oh well, maybe my coworker will get something out of it. I told her I'd bring it to her on Monday.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Well, you guys, I, at the ripe 'ol age of 24, now owe the bank $112,000 as well as property taxes and insurance in perpetuity.

It kills me how people in the same situation as me say that they own a house. You don't own a house, the bank owns the house. You're renting from the bank for somewhere between 0 and 30 years. After I expressed how stressed and upset I was about owing so much to the bank to husband, he called his mom and she emailed me explaining how I needn't be worried, that a mortgage was an investment, that it was "good" debt, that most people never pay off their mortgage unless a parent dies and leaves them money, etc. She's right inasmuch as most people no doubt feel this way about having a flaming pile of burning cash chained to their necks for 30 years, but I am NOT going to pay $64,000 in interest because of this house. I want it paid off by the time I get out of the military, 3-4 years from now, and we're going to make it happen.

I love my Mother-in-law, don't get me wrong. We actually have a fantastic relationship; I've spent multiple holidays at her house and she treats me like a daughter. When it comes to her (and her son's) attitude about finances, though, we largely disagree. MIL is largely reasonable financially, she's a 1st generation immigrant who divorced her husband shortly after arriving in the U.S. in her early 20's. She worked her way up to where she is now--a very good, well paid job with her local community. She has a pension and manages a bunch of people and money, and has worked there for several years. She is going to be fine when she finally decides to retire, even if she's no where near as extreme as I am. However, a combination of factors (largely the divorce when husband was young and the resultant guilt I think) has led to her providing him economic outpatient care throughout his adult life--including a once or twice bail out when he gambled too much money and couldn't pay when he lost. She's given him two cars, including the one he's currently driving, and probably thousands upon thousands in cash that he'll eventually "pay her back" for. Everybody involved in this process knows he's never going to pay her back, though if I can swing it I'm going to try to get her the 1/3 downpayment back that she gave as a gift for the house...eventually. The mortgage comes first.

I recently read "The Millionaire Next Door" and have bought her a copy. It's on its way, along with a note asking her to read Chapter 5. At this point in her working career, not much else is useful--she's on the doorstep of retirement--but Chapter 5 is about providing economic outpatient care to adult children and I'm hoping to have a discussion with her about it once she reads it.

She's largely on my side these days--after she emailed me I called her and explained that I wasn't as stressed as I convinced husband that I was, that I'm not any more worried about money now than I was before the house closed, but that in order to get him to DO ANYTHING I have to basically light his pants on fire.

I also told her that if I manage to convince him to take a renter, she needs to not convince him that he'll be miserable and that she needs to support me. She agreed, said she'd tell him that we had talked and that I still sounded stressed about the mortgage, and that if we decide to take a renter she'll support me and not tell him that he'll hate it (a large part of his attitudes towards taking a tenant come, I believe, from the messages he gets from his mom about how unhappy he'll be).

It's difficult to get everybody rowing in the same direction because of course I myself have a substantial amount of family money and having it is the only reason I was able to buy a house at this young age, so it's difficult to point the finger at MIL and say "stop giving your adult son so much money! You're enabling him!" when I grew up with a silver spoon and am still benefiting from the largesse of my family, just in a different way. It's easy for MIL and husband to think I am a hypocrite (though MIL has admitted she enables him), though I would argue that my trust fund is largely irrelevant. It sped up the home-buying process by a few years, but nothing significant. If I didn't have it, I would have been able to buy a house in cash 3 years from now at the rate I'm saving, just with the job I have...if I'd really wanted to buy a house.

I actually did ask my own mom for help with the down-payment, too--she turned me down (and rightfully so, in retrospect) and said if this was important to me I needed to use my own money. She did help me out by coming to view homes with us (I paid for her plane ticket and hotel) and she also served as my POA for the whole process.

Anywho, the mortgage isn't unreasonable, $638/month + $100 HOA fee, but being in so much debt so young scares me. With this debt my net worth is basically zero. To top it off, husband has been very insistent that he doesn't want a renter, thinks he'll be miserable, etc. Insists he can pay the mortgage, and he can, but that's not sufficient. Frankly, fuck that. He's 38, but has zero appreciable assets and a chain of student loan debt; terrible credit, and his mother had to contribute his part of the down payment (1/3 to my 2/3). His name isn't on the mortgage or title. He would never have been able to buy this house with me and his mom bailing him out, so his vote is close to zero in this regard as far as I am concerned. He has the assets of a college student, he needs to deal with living like one until he improves his financial situation. When I can move in I doubt we'll have a renter, but before I get there he's going to put that 2nd bedroom to financially-productive use.

All that said, we have reached what I think is an acceptable compromise. His business is growing steadily and he's had some very good growth in the last couple of weeks. He told me that if he can't pay the mortgage + $400 extra each month by the end of summer (we agreed on August), he'll look for a tenant. $400 comes from what we think we could get from a tenant. In the meantime, he'll pay the mortgage and I'll throw some amount of the extra BAH towards the mortgage as well, after I fully fund his Roth IRA for 2014.

I'm liquidating my taxable LC account to assist with that process before April 15 rolls around, as well as using that money to pay off the rest of the credit card debt I have. I think after this I'll cut up the cards...the bonus points are nice but even with the low APR it is too easy for me to get into trouble.

I don't think he'll be able to make $400 extra payments to the mortgage, plus I think we could get more than that from a tenant (closer to $500), but if he makes it then great. I'll be super proud of him and if the fear of having a tenant spurs him to work hard and pay off the mortgage early then that is acceptable to me. I won't force him to ALSO take a tenant on top of that extra $400 (though I will strongly encourage him to do so).

If he can't make that extra $400 payment, well...I already have a tenant lined up. She's a senior lady living on social security whose lease expires in September and they are raising her rent to the point where she can't afford it. We've been going back and forth via email for a week now and I hope that even if we can't get her a place to stay I eventually meet her--she sounds awesome and I think we'd be great friends. And I want to help too because her current living situation sounds really unpleasant for a variety of reasons and I believe (provided husband can get over being a grump about it) that our home and situation would be much more comfortable for her.

I so want it to work out, because it seems like on many levels she'd be the perfect tenant for husband--willing to help look after the dog, willing to help him fill orders so he can get away from the business for a few days occasionally, willing to cook during the day, compatible with his lifestyle. Of course we wouldn't take advantage or anything--there'd either be a sufficient reduction in her rent for her to do all or some of this stuff, or husband would pay her hourly when he needed help. But I think it'd be great--husband could get the occasional help he needs to not be tied to his business 24/7, somebody would be around to play with and hang out with the dog when he's away or busy, and we could provide a secure, comfortable, and affordable living situation, as well as some light employment, to a senior in need.

After he settles in a bit more, probably in April, I'm going to arrange a meeting between the two of them. Ideally they hit it off and he decides he doesn't need to wait until August to figure out if he can pay the mortgage without a tenant, that this tenant will be perfectly reasonable. If they don't hit it off, at least it gives her plenty of time to find an affordable living situation for September. I'm trying not to over-promise here and I don't want to put her in a situation where she's up against a tight deadline because we didn't work out.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by leeholsen »

I am in total agreement with buying a house, the bank then owes you.

I did the math on what the avg American pays just in interest per month on a 150k house with a mortgage rate under 5 and it was $300 a month. now you know why banks do so well, a used car doesn't make the loaner that kind of money.

my parents hound me to get a bigger place almost every 3 months and I just lie to them. although they are financially secure, they don't get that paying more money to a bank on space i'll rarely use is financially stupid.

(btw, the avg American also pays $300 monthly in interest charges from the avg credit card balance of 15k).

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

@leehoisen: So what you're saying is, I should go into business as a bank? :-D

Maybe your parents want you to buy a bigger place because they want to move in with you? Or they think it will compel you to fill the home with grandbabies?

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by leeholsen »

no, they're already set thanks to my sisters; they just follow the consumer culture and if you can afford more house; buy it even if you dont need it.

besides, i hear babies dont like cigars.

Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

I don't know that anyone has ever done a scientific study about the cigar preferences of babies. We should investigate! We'll break new ground! We'll be published in the most popular journals! We'll...

I'm going to sleep now.

Posts: 364
Joined: Mon Dec 29, 2014 7:45 am

Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Welp, crashed the motorcycle on my first day out this season. Slid out on a roundabout. I was mildly injured--some bruising--but I had a substantial amount of gear on, including knee high racing boots that far out-strip the kind of riding I do, and top-of-the-line knee pads. My left foot was trapped under the bike for 5 or 6 feet during the slide, but is totally uninjured thanks to my amazing boots. My knee pad has a spot worn through on the outer fabric where it slid on the pavement--I am very glad it wasn't my knee that took the impact.

The bike is going to be a relatively cheap repair--the ignition key broke in half during the crash, but that may have been the only actual issue, not counting that I had to get it towed because I don't have a spare key. There was some cosmetic damage to the left side of the bike. I'm having the shop that came to tow it check the oil as well.

Husband is, naturally, quite upset, and we've been fighting all week about my desire to continue to ride. I can't justify it financially--I am as mobile as I need to be with a pedal bike--it's all just for fun, and for longer trips where the train isn't convenient. He's also been incredibly sick for the last couple of days--maybe the flu--so more recently he's kind of forgotten about my crash.


I've been playing tag with the finance office because they lost the paperwork for my updated BAH (surprise). On Friday I went in for an appointment with a friend-of-a-friend who works there--someone with more authority than the clueless A1C who lost my paperwork the first time. I filled it all out again and they gave me a certified copy then walked it around the office to different stations in front of me; in theory I will be getting backpay and my monthly allotment in my end of March paycheck. So, we'll see.

In other news, I held the 2nd of my two finance seminars last week. We had a total of 9 people show up over 2 weeks; the first group was mainly mid-level and senior NCOs, all but one already contributing to the TSP. The second group consisted of more junior airmen, including a young woman who still lives in the dorms and has been in the military less than a year. Another young woman learned about the Service Member's Civil Relief Act at the seminar--she said that knowing about it was going to save her more than 75k in student loan interest over the next 10 years. All of my attendees expressed interest in continuing the conversation at a later date, so I plan to put together a series of lunches or meetings where we discuss different topics. I'm very pleased at the level of interest displayed and hope to continue the momentum.

Additionally, one of the attendees at my first seminar--a fellow Lt--invited me to a seminar she was giving her flight last weekend. She made it mandatory for them (privileges of being a Flight Commander I suppose) and went through a 30 minute presentation about the TSP. She invited me because she knew I might have some additional expertise and knowledge to share, and I was able to ask and answer several good questions during the presentation. She also had a senior NCO present--possibly her flight's sergeant, though I'm not sure--and he too displayed a high level of financial acumen. He was present at my first seminar as well. Between the three of us, it seems as though we're making good inroads at bringing a basic level of financial awareness to the squadron(s), and establishing ourselves as good resources for financial questions. It's a bit of a personal quest of mine to keep the 18 year old Airmen from buying 40k cars at 29.9% interest.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

This is just a quick update.

Motorcycle crash ended up costing me $170. Oil check, general check of the bike, they did something to the steering column, and got two new keys made. I also tipped very generously...god only knows when I'll need to be back. Oh and they had to jump me twice before I managed to get off the is now going to spend the rest of it's life plugged into a trickle charger when it's not actually being ridden.

I also got a riding lesson from the mechanic...don't squeeze the front brake during low speed turns. And I'm now deathly afraid of roundabouts.

A lot of money, but it could have been worse. Husband and I have hashed out the riding, more or less. I'm never going to get his blessing but he's not going to freak out about it either--he won't ask if I rode and I won't tell him, basically. I could see this being a problem once we live together again, but I can't see myself riding if we have a kid, so I don't think it'll be that big a deal.

In other news, my worms came! Composting here I come! I'm unreasonably excited about this.

And finally, I've made some progress at finding a renter (or perhaps a series of renters). I posted my ad from the Classifieds here on reddit in a variety of subreddits--some of you may have seen it. I didn't really get much interest until I posted it in I Want Out...that seems to have been the right subreddit for it, as my inbox has blown up and I have someone with a reasonably firm level of commitment who wants to come out in October-January of this year. It'll be good to have a bit of extra cash coming in, and someone to hang out with, too.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Today was a good day.

My worm farm came:


The worms got here last week and have been slowly committing suicide ever since by climbing out of the bag they came in and trying to get as far across the kitchen floor as they can before they dry out and die, so I'm glad I now have somewhere more worm-friendly to put them.

I tried to talk to my landlord's wife a few days ago about giving me kitchen scraps to feed the worms--I hope that she can use the compost in her garden as I expect she'll have more time for those pursuits than I will--but I think my request got lost in the language barrier and I have to try again when my landlord (who speaks English) is home.

I naively thought that I could bring the box with the worm farm home from the post office on the back of my bike...and that was an epic fail. I managed to bungi cord it to the back and get about .25 of a mile away from the post office before it totally fell off when I tried to ease the bike over a curb (I got off of the bike and everything to do this) and then I just couldn't get the damn box back on. After 30 minutes of trying different bungi cord configurations, a guy in a giant Hertz truck pulled up next to where I was and asked if I lived on base and did I need any help.

I gratefully accepted, we put my bike in the back of his empty Hertz truck (he's moving today), we stopped at the gas station so he could get a ration card for the truck, I bought him a couple of beers (which he then refused...I found out on the 4 minute ride home that he's Mormon), and the worm farm, the bike, and another package with posters in it from a friend of mine all made it home. I offered to help him move boxes today too, but he refused that as well.

What a guy.

In other news, took a mock fitness test today in preparation for taking my real test at the end of April (unit policy is to schedule a mock ~45 day before the real one--I was on my way to the mock test when I crashed the motorcycle two weeks ago and had to reschedule). I'm on profile for push-ups at the moment because I kind of messed up my shoulder more than I thought in the motorcycle crash, so I didn't do those, but I maxed the sit-ups and did much better than I've done in a long time on the run--14:40 min 1.5 mile. I've done basically no running for months--just a few miles in the last 60 days or so--and really just done biking and a lot of kettle-bell swings and burpees, as per Jacob's density training program (though I've taken a break since I injured my shoulder and have just been biking for about 2 weeks).

It's a pretty great feeling to realize that I don't have to spend endless hours running to do reasonably well on the PT test, and it's great that I'm actually seeing an improvement in my run times just from doing the bike commuting and other non-running exercise. I have a long-standing and seemingly untreatable problem with my left foot; I get severe foot cramps when I walk for too long or run. Some days I'm fine and other days it's really painful--the Asics sneakers I wear help a lot but don't mitigate 100% of the problem. So naturally, running isn't really my exercise of choice. Biking is truly wonderful though, I enjoy it so much.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Somebody is actually paying me $70 to look after this adorable little girl:


I'm also a member of Paws Abroad and somebody approached me to foster a dog in late April. That's volunteer-based, but I may still make some money off it and it'll expose me to somebody else who may need pet sitting occasionally. I'm hoping to build up a few clients for the extra cash. Plus, I get to hang out with dogs and not pay for their food or vet care.

On Friday and Saturday I'm going to two different Seders. The Friday one is on-base and I offered to help clean up. I think this will allow me to take home some of the leftover food...I'm bringing tupperware. I'm also hoping to make some connections in the Jewish community here. I'm not particularly Jewish--more cultural than anything--but there's a trip to a concentration camp next week I want to go on and I think it would be good to get into the community a bit as there's probably people who will invite me over on Friday (and feed me), and maybe somebody has some yardwork they want done or babysitting or something and I can start getting some social capital there. Plus, I'm a little bit socially isolated at the moment and need to make a point of making more friends.

On Saturday I'm going to the house of one of the higher ranking folks in my unit, so again there will be food, plus I'll get to hang out with him and his family socially, and frankly it's never a bad idea to be friendly with somebody who outranks your boss (not that I have any issues with my current boss, he's awesome).

I'm also doing some transcription work on Transcribe Me. It's not much--$20/spoken hour--but it's pretty great beer money. I expect to be able to make about $30/month on it, with the time I have available.

So I'm basically making money hand over fist. I was able to fully fund husband's Roth IRA for 2014 and will be working on it for 2015 more slowly as I finish liquidating my taxable Lending Club account (which I'm counting as income). USAA sent me $400ish because of an overpayment error with my home insurance (I paid AND the title company paid out of escrow). We got the security deposit back from our apartment that husband just moved out of it, another $1250 pocketed. I also got backpay for extra BAH since Jan 27; now that I'm married I get BAH for husband's zip code. My income for the month is above 15k, all told, which is just ridiculous. I managed to pay off a substantial amount on my credit card this month and it's now under 1k. I expect I'll get the rest paid off in the next 3 months (It's at 0% APR until December).

Breakdown of expenses and investments: ... sp=sharing

I know they say there's no such thing as an unusual spending month...but this was a pretty unusual month, what will all these miscellaneous sources of income that don't come by too often. I don't pull down anywhere close to 15k on a regular basis.
Last edited by reepicheep on Sat Sep 05, 2015 10:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by Kriegsspiel »

That's a pretty awesome looking dog, what breed is it?

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Dachshund. She's great. Super sweet.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

I wrote this in an email to Husband yesterday.

It's a slow day at work and I'm in a philosophical mood (somewhat inspired on the daily by listening to this podcast on the way to work:

So I've been thinking about how I view money and what it means to me, and I think how I look at it (and what it does for me) is part of the reason we have such a hard time communicating about it. I think you look at it very differently than me.

This isn't a lecture, it's not a brag, it's not designed to elicit any kind of response from you or convince you of anything, it's not a judgment on you, so please don't read it like that. This is just the kind of thing I'm thinking about a lot these days, and I wanted to share with you.

I've got all my accounts set up on Mint, and while Mint isn't great for tracking individual purchases (hence the spreadsheet), one thing it does well is track the account balance over time. It's got a great graphical interface where I can see how much the amount of money in any particular account (or all the accounts) goes up or down over time, when I made big jumps in deposits or withdrawals, etc.

And I've realized lately that looking at my balance--particularly my balance in the TSP, which makes huge gains every month, is kind of like playing a video game. We've talked about how I play and enjoy Skyrim in large part because I like the sensation, the visceral pleasure, of leveling up. Seeing those big jumps (they look like stairs each month) looks like I'm leveling up in real life, gaining RPG points or skills or something. What I'm *someday* going to use that money for is totally irrelevant, the fact that I can't get at it until I'm 60* is totally irrelevant, the mere fact of saving so much just gives me pleasure (more pleasure than spending it would, apparently--I can't even think how I would spend the amount that I save each month--I would have to actively try to blow at least some of it I think, to get it down to zero. I'm sure I could loosen up a little bit--do some more extravagant travel, own a car, eat out more, etc, but even then I think I'd have money left over that I wasn't sure how to spend).

The other thing that appeals to be about saving so much is that I am a little bit uncomfortable. I've set up my daily life in such a way that I don't have much spare cash--I have to be a bit thrifty, I do things other people consider "extreme." Biking to work isn't totally unheard of here, but not owning a car period is pretty unusual. I'm the only officer who lives so close to work in my office, and so I'm consequently one of the few people at my office who can bike at all. I get a kind of stoic joy out of biking in the rain. At that point it's not about the money, it's about the challenge of it, the desire to see how long I can keep it up, how cold or nasty it'll get before I cave and buy a car, how many groceries I can bungi cord on the back or how big of a box from the post office I can carry on the back before I need help to get my stuff home.

This is a challenge against my own inherent nature to be lazy, to seek comfort. I've made my life harder than it has to be intentionally, ostensibly to save money...and I most certainly do, even a 2k car would really cost more like 5k-6k after inspections, registration, gas, taxes, etc. But it's no longer really about the money. It's about becoming tougher. Doing something hard just because it's hard.

And I think a lot of modern life would benefit to a great degree from being harder. Our lives are so easy--most of us. Flip a switch, electricity! Turn a handle, fresh, clean water! Turn a dial, cool off a room or heat it up. People can manage to a very high degree how their environment feels to them, and so there's very little forced adaptation. People can't tolerate physical discomfort as well as they used to be able to. In fact, physical discomfort is something to be feared and avoided at all costs for many--there are a few crazies, I'll give you, the people who do Tough Mudders or triathlons or so on, people even more extreme than me. But they inspire me.

I never felt as alive as I did on my NOLS trip; I wish in many ways that my life were more like that every day, even though a trip like that is still very dependent on the outside world--we were resupplied twice in 30 days, we rode a bus to and from the trailhead, 100% of our gear was high-tech manufactured items designed to afford us a degree of comfort even on the trail. But the physical and mental challenges of that trip felt more real to me than much of my daily life does. I have more vivid memories of those 30 days than I do of most of my life thus far. Am I romanticizing that experience? Falling into some "Agrarian Ideal" trap? Maybe. Probably. Would I really want to play "Little House on the Prairie" forever? I don't know. Even the most extreme of homesteaders these days seem to have pretty damn good wifi connections. I don't know that I could ever give up Reddit. But, all things being equal, when I get the same amount of pleasure out of sitting around a campfire roasting marshmallows after walking up a mountain all day vs. dining at Morimoto's, it's hard to justify the latter. Have I earned the latter? Do I deserve the latter? I did not climb a mountain to get to Morimoto's.

Long story short, I don't think more money could buy me a better life, though of course I say that from the privileged position of having a shit ton of money in the bank, which is an inherent amount of mental and physical security that someone forced to live the way I do out of necessity would not enjoy. But still, spending more money wouldn't buy me a better life. My "better life" comes from challenging myself and overcoming those challenges, in spite of an inherent desire to be lazy and a general lack of mental and physical toughness that I have to force myself to fight against every day.


Husband did not respond to this email, but I didn't really expect him to. He frequently surprises me by bringing up info or points or things that I've sent him months later that he never commented on at the time, so I'm hopeful that he read it and that he's mulling it over.

Husband has never in his life had savings, except for maybe the past year or so where he was steadily putting away first $100/month and later $250. We managed to get our joint account up to around 5k (thanks in large part to me dumping in all my Christmas and birthday money for two years) before he lost his job/we moved/I needed a safety deposit of 2 months rent for my apartment here/he needed some extra money to finish off the last of his kickstarter orders. Our E-fund is basically empty now, just a couple hundred bucks in it (except for when I'm funneling money in and out to contribute to his Roth IRA--he hasn't noticed, because he doesn't read bank statements/doesn't log-in online ever), and he said to me the other day that, "I don't know why we bother to contribute at all, we're just going to find a way to spend it. And if something happens we'll always find a way to manage."

I conceded the point because he's basically right--any money in any account that he actually has access to isn't going to last very long. It's not like he took it out to fund snicker bar impulse buys at the grocery store--he needed that cash, and I know from personal experience that it's tough to get a business off the ground. Someday I hope he has an E-fund for his business to get him over the dry spells AND we have a personal E-fund, but that fund isn't going to come from the joint account any more. I'm not going to subsidize his business with my birthday gifts--my cash savings are going elsewhere.

The truth is that he thinks his E-fund is my investments/my ability to hoard cash/his mom. And he's more or less right about that in the sense that I'm not going to let the mortgage default, but I've said "no" to requests for cash from my personal funds in the last 5-5 years more than I've said "yes." I'm not his bank. At some point when we live together and have an actual join plan for our future I may be able to reconsider my position, but if he needs another infusion of cash for his business because there's nothing left in the's not coming from me. If the business isn't off the ground before the gravy train dries up (end of unemployment/some small cash gifts from his mom), he's going to need to get a job--and I'm talking to his mom about NOT subsidizing his lifestyle past the end of summer. I sent her "The Millionaire Next Door" and asked her to read chapter 5. We talked about it. She readily acknowledges that she's enabling and infantilizing him and even says that she's going to stop giving him money and needs to worry about her own retirement (she's done very well for herself), but she's said such things before and I'm not sure I believe her.

Nevertheless, I'm hopeful. Despite how it may sound here, husband has made a lot of improvements to his personal finances in recent years and has become much more attentive to them. Personal growth and change in this area is hard for many people, and I'm in such an extreme subset that I know my expectations are far, far too high for someone with a more conventional outlook. Nobody else I know personally thinks about personal finance and ERE to the degree that I do.

I am pretty sure that he is going to be working the rest of his life. I don't believe there will be any "ERE" for him unless I buy it for him, and I am pretty sure that I am not going to be financially successful enough to manage ERE for two. However, his business is growing steadily every day and he is pulling in more and more each week, so it's quite possible that he will be wildly successful at earning money and in a couple of years far outstrip my salary (which I calculated yesterday at around 61k after taxes...a totally ridiculous sum for someone my age, and it includes only the salary from my main job and none from my myriad side hustles). When we live together/I get out of the military, he can give me whatever surplus he's pulling in from the business and I'll hide it away out of sight and manage the defense side of the house, and he can go out and play offense. He's even expressed a preference for this--he really wants me to take over the finances when it makes sense for me to do so. I expressed a hesitancy at the time because I would really like him to learn more about this topic and be a part of our joint household management, but he may be simply unwilling or unable to really manage his money well.

In the meantime, I can only worry about myself and encourage him to keep his focus on the business (and contribute to a Roth IRA on his behalf--I figure I'll tell him about when it's around 20k, and then not tell him all the ways he can get his money out before 59.5). He tends to get distracted and drop projects before they are self-propelled, so I'm doing my best to express my praise and admiration for every successful retail order or for each store that takes on his product.

*Of course I have no intention of leaving this money in the TSP until I'm 60, but I didn't want to confuse him. I'll likely roll over most of what's in there into a Roth IRA (probably not a Roth in LC) as soon as I separate. It sucks to give up the low expense ratios, but if I need my investments to live on I have to be able to invest them as I see fit.
Last edited by reepicheep on Mon Apr 06, 2015 9:49 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by Did »

Hi there R. Enjoying your story. You are really switched on. And I don't think "for your age" but you are young to have such an interest and understanding in such things. I didn't! You don't need my advice, but I would just keep leading by example with your hubbie. People change. But nobody likes a know it all :-)

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Re: reepicheep's journal

Post by reepicheep »

Did wrote:Hi there R. Enjoying your story. You are really switched on. And I don't think "for your age" but you are young to have such an interest and understanding in such things. I didn't! You don't need my advice, but I would just keep leading by example with your hubbie. People change. But nobody likes a know it all :-)
@Did, thank you for the advice you said I didn't need. :D

I tend to channel Hermione occasionally. It's tough for me to deal with other people who don't see things the same way I do--I need to practice patience more.

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