Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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Frugalchicos
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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:47 am

MDFIRE2024 wrote:
Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:56 pm
Not even at Aldi? Aldi rocks here! I must say, it is contributing we are speeding up in achiviement our goal because of them. Prices are like 1/3 of Jewel and below Walmart. Meanwhile, quality is still pretty good.
It is great that with Aldi, we as Germans, have a good company abroad who make ERE-customers happy. :-)
I am also a fan of Lidl in Europe!

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:47 pm

George the original one wrote:
Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:46 pm
Frugalchicos wrote:
Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:32 pm
- For animal proteins, we usually buy chicken thighs (the ones that come with skin and bones, they are at $0.69/lb)
Dang it, our local prices just don't get that low! Too far away on the supply line.
Actually, it is at $0.99/lb :? . Just bought them this morning, what is still pretty good though

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by sky » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:31 am

How are you doing with minimizing your stuff? That will be key in moving across the Atlantic.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Sun Jun 11, 2017 3:49 pm

sky wrote:
Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:31 am
How are you doing with minimizing your stuff? That will be key in moving across the Atlantic.
Hi Sky,

We have been living off a couple of lugagges for the past 4.5 years, every piece of furniture we own is Ikea or Target (based on our experience, much easier to sell on Craigslist).

We previously sold pretty much all our stuff a couple of years ago and it only took us lile 5-7 days to have our condo empty. That was kind of a good experience getting to know how easy and quick you can make everything dissapear :D

We have also been conciously downsizing our stuff, not buying clothes in 2017, getting rid of wathever doesn't have a real use for us, and selling wathever we can on ebay.

I think the biggest challenge for us will be by the end of 2019, beginning of 2020 selling the condo and car. The rest, like glasses, cookware and plates will be sold on Craigslist or donated to friends.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue Jun 13, 2017 12:14 pm

Need to record this in the journal since I consider it important:

There has been always one thing that I feared most when living away from my family, and that is getting an unexpected call from home informing about a relative being ill or something along those lines.

My father had a minor heart attack last week. He is recovering and seems to be fine. Hopefully he realizes the importance and severity of the event, quits smoking and starts taking care of himself.

This unfortunate event brought up some mixed feelings and thoughts about what is really important in life. It makes me doubt about if somehow, I am wasting some precious time that I could be spending with my parents and raising my own family close to them. On the other hand, I also think that 3 more years into this journey and we will be better off back home. We will have more time and flexibility to take care of my parents and see our kids growing.

In fact, the number one reason we started this journey was because we wanted to have a more tranquil life and enjoy our time with family. We think about money as a tool that will allow us to have more options and opportunities. What I can say I learnt from this event is that we need to know when to say enough is enough and take the plunge when the time comes.

I am going back home for two weeks in August. I will spend some quality time with my parents and take over a condo renovation project my father was doing.

I know this entry is a little bit of mix thoughts here and there but that is how I've been feeling for the past couple of days.

Take care,

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by bryan » Tue Jun 13, 2017 1:12 pm

Glad to hear your father came out of the episode OK and hopefully he will be able to improve his health.

I think in current times it would be useful to consider, moreso than in years previous, alternative investments to stocks/bonds. Basically I think the alpha strategy will do reasonably well into the future. This may mean beginning to invest in Spain before you are actually ready to move there? The tough thing to predict is if there is some poor performance in stocks/bonds, what it means for your alternative investments (e.g. will Spanish real estate depreciate faster?).

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by George the original one » Tue Jun 13, 2017 2:11 pm

Frugalchicos wrote:
Fri Jun 09, 2017 11:22 pm
George the original one wrote:
Fri Jun 09, 2017 7:46 pm
Frugalchicos wrote:
Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:32 pm
- For animal proteins, we usually buy chicken thighs (the ones that come with skin and bones, they are at $0.69/lb)
Dang it, our local prices just don't get that low! Too far away on the supply line.
Not even at Aldi? Aldi rocks here! I must say, it is contributing we are speeding up the achiviement of our goal. Prices are like 1/3 of Jewel and below Walmart. Meanwhile, quality is still pretty good.
No Aldi, no Walmart. We have Safeway (12 miles away), Fred Meyers (local brand owned by Kroger, 24 miles away), and Costco (not a member, 23 miles away). Such is life on the scenic Oregon coast.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by bryan » Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:30 pm

@George, not to co-opt the thread.. but what is it about the Oregon/north CA coast that resulted in no big cities? Suggest some reading for me? I know the winters are bad..

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by George the original one » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:10 pm

bryan wrote:
Tue Jun 13, 2017 3:30 pm
@George, not to co-opt the thread.. but what is it about the Oregon/north CA coast that resulted in no big cities? Suggest some reading for me? I know the winters are bad..
Transportation in rugged terrain is the simple answer. Railroads didn't get put through to the coast until after 1900 for the most part, so sea travel was the primary route until then... explains Astoria (gateway to Columbia River), Coos Bay (sheltered port with good entrance) as the larger ports. The highway from Portland to Seaside wasn't put through until 1939. Primary industries were fishing, logging, and dairy; today we can add tourism. Tourism begins making a difference around 1900 as Willamette Valley residents are then able to take a train to the seaside towns. Outside of dairy, agriculture stayed in the Willamette Valley and the primary market in the 1800s was California, so things either went overland via the I-5 route or by sea out the Columbia River.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by bryan » Tue Jun 13, 2017 8:43 pm

I guess it makes sense.. I suppose Portland is basically a "coastal city" but not on the coast. But why isn't Astoria more populace than Portland (weather?)? If one wanted to live near the OR coast, what would be the best bet (I'm thinking proximity to airport, "big city"?)? Around Florence/Reedsport? Probably will have to take another coastal bike ride in the next year or two.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:36 pm

@Bryan

Hi Bryan,

Thanks for the support.

I think the strategy for when we move will be something like the following:

- Change our investments to 75% stock & 25% bonds. Instead of 90% & 10% as we currently have.
- Keep our investments in Betterment since I consider the European market is politically complex and more volatile than the American. I also want to keep it simple and don't move money around to much.
- Before we leave, we will have a 1 year worth of expenses in cash ($14,400) and live off it in the Basque Country without touching the stash.
- When we move, we will definitely be FI, but it doesn't necessarily mean we will stop working. We are thinking in opening an English School in my town in order to sustain ourselves and let our investments grow. We will take the ESL course by the end of this year, beginning 2018. Having our own business is kind of a dream too.
- We are thinking in renting a small condo that my parents are renovating. Their idea is having us living there for free. However, I prefer to pay a small rent, so it doesn't create resentment in my sister. (probably $200/month) - So, no buying a condo for us in a while.
- Chica will convert her 401K into IRA and will probably try to do the IRA conversion ladder (need to figure that out..)
- I will cash out my life insurance, close to $12,000. We will invest that money or keep it in cash as our 1 year expenses stash.
- All the money we get from selling our condo, car and others will be invested.
- There is also a possibility of Chica being able to work from Bilbao for her actual company being paid in American salary(or close to).

We also entertained the idea of buying property in Spain and rent it, but real estate is quite expensive and not very profitable. If so, I rather keep our condo in Chicago and rent it, but I think it would be a headache and might incur into other costs like management or fixing stuff.

So, answering to your question, I wish the Spanish market could be a better and more profitable place to invest...but I think for now, we will leave our investments in Betterment and enjoy the low cost of living from Spain. Also, It will be helpful setting up a business that gives us the desired flexibility and necessary profit so we don't have to touch our savings.

Well, that's all I can think of right now... Any suggestion will be much appreciated!

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue Jun 13, 2017 9:39 pm

@ George the original one

Man! I hope you have some good local markets close by! If not, you really need to plan your groceries very well to avoid driving that much

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by bryan » Wed Jun 14, 2017 2:38 am

Not much advice, really. Just a recommendation to give "Alpha Strategy" a quick skim (there should be a pdf copy online somewhere) if you haven't yet. It might make some sense in the current climate of very strong USD and if you have any further ideas about what you would do once FIRE that has some $$$ cost (e.g. buying a house or opening a distillery).

And of course for more typical investing, explore @Tyler9000's website http://portfoliocharts.com/ if you haven't yet.

> - Change our investments to 75% stock & 25% bonds. Instead of 90% & 10% as we currently have.

For instance, if you are on an accelerated path to FIRE as many EREers are, it's actually not a bad idea to have a conservative portfolio during accumulation. Upon FIRE you can keep the conservative portfolio but re-balance each year into the more aggressive portion (e.g. stocks). You can arrive at this conclusion by playing with Tyler's calculators or exploring this post https://www.kitces.com/blog/should-equi ... ly-better/

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Wed Jun 14, 2017 1:58 pm

@ Bryan

Thank you very much for the links, I will definitely check them out since we have a LOT to learn...

One thing that worries me is the currency exchange :roll: and the fees for transferring the money within international banks.

We are keeping it simple for now accumulating as much as we can by 2020. But I bet we will get a more complex plan and nail down the details as time gets closer. I guess that's the beauty of a journal, being able to go back and see how the process went :D

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Fri Jun 30, 2017 9:38 am

Time to vent, I am pretty heat up:

Sometimes I feel I am loosing my sanity and giving up my youth and happiness for the fact of staying in Chicago working towards the monetary goal. I feel I got to a point where I am fed up of the lack of respect and common sense of people (neighbors, drivers and so on). I also know my job is a dead end job and there is no more new challenging waiting for me, just more money.

These are all the things I hate right now/need to change:

- Living in Chicago: winter freaking sucks, driving anywhere here sucks too (you feel like you are in a Mad Max movie, everyone wants to fucking screw you). Crazy people everywhere, tired of the fucking crazy homeless wondering around.

- As I said, driving here would drive nuts even to the Dalai Lama and make him say "fuck you m*** f***)" . I am pretty much exposed to have an accident every day. I need to drive 12 miles for work. I would like to ride my bike, but I would need to cross a pretty sketchy and unsafe part of the city to come to work (I call it the walking dead area).

- My job, don't really hate it. But it is fucking boring and not challenging. The big paycheck is the only reason I continue doing it. I also switch careers 2 years ago, so I think this is the highest paid and less stressful job I could get right now.

- Some of the residents of the building where I live are a pain in the ass. I had less headaches when I used to rent down the street. Sometimes I feel it would make more sense to just sell the condo and dump the cash in Betterment.

- I know I was done 2 years ago with this chapter of my life (being an expat and experiencing "new" things). I want to go back home, have a family and live a tranquil life.

- It is ridiculous how consumerist, wasteful and dumb this country became. Not the principles and values I want to be surrounded of.

- I also feel I am putting my life on hold, only looking forward to 2020 when we decided we will move to Spain. Sometimes it doesn't really make a lot of sense to me, feeling I might be wasting some good years of my life and that money won't really make a huge difference on my happiness.

- I need to challenge myself, professionally and personally. Working on an English school project and trying to meet interesting people (not really trying).

I am aware that not everything is going to be rainbows and butterflies once we move. But damn! sometimes I just feel like punching people in the face when they are disrespectful and selfish. I think I am going to sign up for the UFC gym down the street to punch some bags and channel this frustration for now...

Have a good weekend and happy 4th.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue Jul 04, 2017 4:50 pm

Alright guys, it is time for an optimistic entry.

June was a pretty good month for Chico & Chica. We just wrapped up our first month of the year of Airbnb and were able to save over $7,630! Not too shabby :)

We are also just $1,000 away from a Southwest Companion Pass - very excited to put that to use. Planning in traveling around the US and perhaps Caribbean for the next 1.5 year. We would like to see few places before we head back to Europe. San Francisco, Washington DC, Costa Rica, Cabos, NYC (again), Boise, Nashville and Boston are on our list.

This month our goal is kick Airbnb's ass and our own -- hoping to shed a few pounds before we head out on vacation at the end of this month. Chica's goal is to lose 7lbs and Chico is hoping to just lose some belly. We are going no-carb for the next 3ish weeks (except for tonight, gotta eat a hot dog on the 4th of July!). We are not overweight by any mean, but we always look for ways of getting fitter and richer!

Ok enough about that.


JUNE INCOME - $9,374.51
Chico's Salary - $4,031.51
Chica's Salary - $3,570.00
Airbnb - $1,433
Chica's Babysitting - $340

JUNE EXPENSES - $3,713.66
Mortgage: $1,944.89 (note: $1,125 went to principal, counting that as a savings)
HOA: $244.83
Car Insurance: $69.30
Gas (Car): $100.60
Groceries: $328.91
Cellphones: $21.74 (note: Chica's work pays her cellphone bill, this is just Chico's phone plan with Lycamobile)
Internet: $48.88
Gas (House): $59.14
Electricity: $38.82
Chica's Gym: $39.99
Chico's Gym: $10
Misc./Entertainment: $806.56 (note: this includes $200 in annual CC fees + birthday gifts)

This month, we saved 72.39% of our take home salary. Note: this doesn't include any 401K contributions. 

CURRENT ASSETS: $187,829.23 - Increase NW $7,630.62
Cash savings: $3,510.20
Investments: $53,403.30
Chico's Retirement: $6,313.40
Chica's 401K: $33,715.84
Home Equity: $90,886.49

Thanks for reading and happy 4th!

-Chica & Chico
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Last edited by Frugalchicos on Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by MDFIRE2024 » Wed Jul 05, 2017 3:06 am

Great progress. High SR and high income. I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July. Your travel plan makes me also want to travel.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:50 am

@MDFIRE2024

Thanks! I hope you enjoyed your 4th of July too. We are planning in travelling for pretty cheap, so it won't affect our financial goal dramatically. I also think the experiences will be worth the couple of thousand dollars.

Chica figured out the Southwest companion pass that will allow us to travel pretty much for free for the next year or so (up to 10 round tickets each, depending on points and destinations). And we will stay in Airbnb's that we also have some travel credit due to hosting.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by FIEuropeanStyle » Wed Jul 05, 2017 9:58 am

Hi Frugalchicos,

I am also on the track to FI and move back to Spain. I was wondering if you considered the following issues.
1.- How are you going to generate income when in retirement ?
For me the problem is that dividend and capital gains are all taxed at close to 20% not matter how low they are. Have you figure out a way of avoiding paying this tax ?

2.- Helthcare. As you said in Spain basically health coverage is universal, that is if you are Spanish. I think your wife is a US citizen how are you going to handle this? Will she became a Spanish citizen ? In my case my wife is Spanish but I am not, so I am trying to figure out how to get into this universal coverage.

I hope we can share some tips.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Wed Jul 05, 2017 10:24 am

@ FIEuropeanStyle

Hello!

Glad to hear somebody else has similar plans than we do.

1 - We are planning in achieving FI by 2020. The figure can be somewhere between 350K-420K. It all depends on the market, side hustles, etc.. We are thinking in opening an English School in my town (we are taking the ESL course in fall) and live off that income. We will probably work full time from Monday to Thursday. This is perhaps not considered ERE. However, we will be working on something we created and on our terms. We will see our savings grow as we will probably keep contributing. We will definitely retire early at some point within the next 10 years. In the meantime, we want to be able to enjoy life and continue our plans, like moving in 2020 (regardless the savings 350-420K, have kids, etc..)

2 - Healthcare. If you are legally married in the US to a Spanish citizen, go to your closest Spanish consulate or embassy and register your marriage. This will allow you to ask for the resident card (kind of a green card) as soon as you land in Spain. Therefore, you will be eligible to all the rights a citizen has (except voting). You can apply for a Spanish passport after a year of being a resident and living in Spain uninterrupted.

Hope it helped!

Cheers,

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue Jul 11, 2017 8:32 am

Some thought:

We are thinking in getting a roommate in our second bedroom. We are currently doing Airbnb as last year. We do it from June to the first week of November.

Airbnb has its pros and cons, for the most part is fun and easy money. However, having different people over all the time is getting a little old... On the other hand, having a roommate will mean giving up some privacy. However, it would be a more passive income since that person would be responsible of his/her own thing.

We are doing some interviews for now and considering what is the best for us. Airbnb is like about $1,200/month with a lot of cleaning and different people going through our doors. Roommate would be $975, less privacy but more passive income and less worries about checking people in or out.

Whatever we decide, this will probably be the last year we do Airbnb/roommate since we will start trying to have a baby starting next February/March.

Let's see what happens...

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Wed Jul 12, 2017 9:51 am

Well, that was quick! we found a roommate, a very nice guy from Spain coming to Chi Town to study for 6 months, awesome!!

Another good new, as a birthday gift for Chica, I bought a domain and we are live!! Please, visit us at http://frugalchicos.com/

Cheers!

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Fri Jul 21, 2017 12:43 pm

Amazing news!

We just got the Companion Pass from Southwest! We have at least enough points for 5 - 6 round trip tickets!

The companion pass means that you can book your free ticket with points + a free ticket on the same plane for FREE. It sounds crazy, but Chica explains it very well on her blog http://frugalchicos.com/want-free-fligh ... two-years/

It honestly didn't take more than 2 months to get it, and it doesn't require any complex strategy. Anyone can do it!

I can't wait to go to San Francisco and Washington DC. We will aslo go to KC for a wedding and probably Boston to spend Christmas with Chica's family.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue Aug 15, 2017 1:51 pm

Alright, back in business:

Just came back from a 2 week vacation back home and Lisbon. Had an amazing time with the family, reconnected with my parents and sister and got to appreciate how lucky I am for having them in my life.

Chica joined me for the second week and spent some time together with my family at the beach, eating and drinking (wayyyy too much). We also got to spend 3 incredible days in Lisbon, it is a beautiful city with tons of stuff to do and plenty of fish to eat (and hills to climb... :)

This trip was kind of an eye opener/good reminder for us since we got to appreciate the support we will enjoy once we move. We were also able to enjoy the little things The Basque Country has to offer (plenty of pintxos, warm people and astonishing landscape). It was especially enlightening to see Chica being so happy and comfortable around my family in my home town. Seeing that makes me feel good and confident about moving back home!!

Uploaded some pics of my hometown and the famous pintxos:
http://s557.photobucket.com/user/frugal ... sort=3&o=6
Last edited by Frugalchicos on Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Jason » Tue Aug 15, 2017 2:04 pm

Although somewhat annoying to me, I can see how your optimism could be infectious to those around you. You seem to really enjoy life which is a nice attribute. You would make a really good game show host. Or owning a restaurant where you make everyone feel at home.

I hope you and chica make it home asap. You seem to well adjusted for US considering the times.

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