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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Let's go Back Home - Frugal chicos journal

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu Apr 27, 2017 12:43 pm

Hello Everyone,

Alright, let’s start with a brief introduction.

Me, a 34-year-old guy from the Basque Country, studied business management and came to the US a little bit over 4.5 years ago. Actually working in international commerce. Salary: 75K

Wife, 28-year-old Midwestern. Working in marketing for the same great company since graduated from college. Salary: 65K

Goal: Go back home to the Basque Country. It sounds quite straightforward and easy. However, the dream/plan has some complexity since the current youth unemployment rate in Spain is about 41.5%. In addition, the housing market has been adjusted during the post crisis years, but it is still 25% inflated. At this point we are still deciding what our monetary goal is. It can vary from 350K to be FI to 500K to be ERE.

The purpose of the journal is to write about our daily struggles and dreams (plenty of day dreaming by the way) and find some help and support from this wonderful community. We will also give more details in regards to our goal, philosophy, expenses, savings and projected wealth.

Thanks for reading and catch up soon.

Chico & Chica

Link showing where the Basque Country is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basque_Co ... er_region)
Last edited by Frugalchicos on Wed May 03, 2017 8:23 am, edited 2 times in total.

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

Post by bryan » Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:51 pm

Posting to follow.

Why is it a problem to go back? I guess you mean while you are still working/accumulating $$$?

What part of the USA do you live and what is it that you miss about Basque Country? My sister has been living in Donostia for the last 8 years or so and loves it. She has been saying that rural houses in Basque Country are quite cheap..

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

Post by Jason » Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:30 pm

I had to google Basque County as I have no sense/interest in geography. It looks beautiful. Like a safe place to trip on mescaline and meet some really friendly nuns.

Good luck getting back there.

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:43 pm

bryan wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 1:51 pm
Posting to follow.

Why is it a problem to go back? I guess you mean while you are still working/accumulating $$$?

What part of the USA do you live and what is it that you miss about Basque Country? My sister has been living in Donostia for the last 8 years or so and loves it. She has been saying that rural houses in Basque Country are quite cheap..
Hi Bryan,

Oh boy, I didn't expect a comment so quickly!

There is not a real problem to go back since we could sell everything on Craigslist and pack our clothes tomorrow. However, I see (and experienced during my working years there) that the market is quite harsh. Employment conditions are quite unstable and low paid, the sense of full time job is somehow fading with a mix of short term contracts and non-paid internships. To be honest, I even get more motivated (and freakin frustrated) to save more every time I look for jobs there…

On the other hand, real estate in the Basque Country (at least in city areas) is one of the three most expensive in Spain with Barcelona and Madrid, not being able to stretch the dollars as much as we would like to (thinking in going for a smaller condo).

Keeping these factors in mind, we got to a compromise of saving enough money in the next 3-4 years to live comfortably and still have plenty of money invested.

In regards to what I miss from the Basque Country…. Let me start with the food! Haha, I hope you had the chance to visit your sister in Donostia so you understand what I mean. But, what I miss more is obviously my family and the sense of community you get from living close to all your relatives and friends (probably the factor that provides more happiness to anyone). We are also thinking in starting a family in a couple of years and can’t think of any better place for raising a kid.

We live in Chicago.

Thank you so much more reading and your support.

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu Apr 27, 2017 6:59 pm

Jason wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 2:30 pm
I had to google Basque County as I have no sense/interest in geography. It looks beautiful. Like a safe place to trip on mescaline and meet some really friendly nuns.

Good luck getting back there.
It is beautiful! I recommend getting high on pintxos.

Here you have a picture of a bar full of pintxos:
Image
Last edited by Frugalchicos on Fri May 05, 2017 12:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by bryan » Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:42 pm

Sounds like a good plan. Indeed, my sister has told me she makes a lot more money than locals, but by American standards it's pretty low. Many of her friends there feel lucky just to have jobs. She is quite deep in the food scene there.. Which is great for when I visit her :D I'll actually be there again this summer.

My sister has a kid herself and it seems like a great place to raise a family. Her lone negative feeling on that subject (well, other than being away from our family) seemed to be her perception of high school quality? She's made comments how the high school students there always seem to be loafing around and smoking cigarettes.

Looking at that pic makes me wish it were time to pack up for the trip already :)

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:33 pm

So, in this post I am going to write a little bit more deeply about the goal.

The goal, or the purpose of why we are saving so much...

If you allow me to rewind a couple of years, we found ourselves trying to be like the average young couple buying a house (300K) and a used car (16K). Pretty soon we realized that we wanted a more meaningful and slow pace life. We started to mature the idea of moving to the Basque Country and start a family there, be close to my family and travel to the US during summers to visit Chica's family. However, we want to set ourselves up for success and want to save 350-400K (original plan, might change overtime) in the next 3-4 years (we are definitely moving in 2020).

As I explained before, nothing really stops us from moving tomorrow (or tonight if we take the 4:30pm flight). However, I believe we have a magnificent opportunity to build a stash that will help us to make this journey the best experience ever.

I will explain in the next post the mechanics and financial plan in order to achieve the goal.

Cheers!

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:38 pm

bryan wrote:
Thu Apr 27, 2017 8:42 pm
Sounds like a good plan. Indeed, my sister has told me she makes a lot more money than locals, but by American standards it's pretty low. Many of her friends there feel lucky just to have jobs. She is quite deep in the food scene there.. Which is great for when I visit her :D I'll actually be there again this summer.

My sister has a kid herself and it seems like a great place to raise a family. Her lone negative feeling on that subject (well, other than being away from our family) seemed to be her perception of high school quality? She's made comments how the high school students there always seem to be loafing around and smoking cigarettes.

Looking at that pic makes me wish it were time to pack up for the trip already :)
Thanks Bryan! I bet you enjoy the food and Donostia!

The students scenario wondering around and smoking cigarettes sounds quite familiar.... but has nothing to do with the actual education they receive in the school. It is probably more aligned with their own attitude, circle of friends or education received at home.

Take care!

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

Post by JeanPaul » Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:59 am

In an international context, both American and Spanish schools are pretty lousy on average, but "average" is pretty meaningless - the variation is enormous. There are good public schools in some affluent Chicago suburbs, but most of the time, schools will be better in the Basque country.

And it's true Spanish salaries are a lot lower, so it's not a good place to save up money (since savings are not adjusted for cost of living!) But if you already have some money saved and are happy to get by while investments grow, it's not bad - cost of living is much lower, even in the Basque country, especially on health care (of course), but also housing and food, which means pretty much everything.

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Fri Apr 28, 2017 7:17 am

JeanPaul wrote:
Fri Apr 28, 2017 1:59 am
In an international context, both American and Spanish schools are pretty lousy on average, but "average" is pretty meaningless - the variation is enormous. There are good public schools in some affluent Chicago suburbs, but most of the time, schools will be better in the Basque country.

And it's true Spanish salaries are a lot lower, so it's not a good place to save up money (since savings are not adjusted for cost of living!) But if you already have some money saved and are happy to get by while investments grow, it's not bad - cost of living is much lower, even in the Basque country, especially on health care (of course), but also housing and food, which means pretty much everything.
Hi Jean Paul,

Totally agree, education might get lousy anywhere, and there is where the parents play the role of educating and motivating their kids to do better and excel.

Also, as you said, since cost of living is much lower, you don't really need to build wealth as you would in the US. Honestly, with a modest 120K house/condo paid off, you could live with 12,000 euro/year (keep in mind education and health care are basically free and food costs a fraction of what it does in the US)

Cheers!

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue May 02, 2017 5:41 pm

In order to get to the goal strong and motivated, we got something very clear: money = freedom. Freedom to choose and freedom to be set up back home.

Alright, lets get straight to the topic:

Last year was the first year we actually got serious as a team in our finances (after multiple chats, walks and a couple of tiffs), last year was also the first year we talked more seriously about what we wanted for our future and what was the kind of life we wanted to carry.

Since last year we have been aggressively saving (gradually becoming more efficient and adjusting our budget). Doing this, we were able to save $51K from March to December 2016 (63% our take home income without counting 401K or retirement contributions), refinance our house and pay off the car.

Every 4th of the month we schedule a meeting and check our expenses, % saved, total assets and talk about accomplishments and goals for the next month. We also talk about health and fitness goals, happiness and motivation. This meeting not only help us to save like crazy but to get us closer and feel we are working toward something together.

However, the most motivating is seeing how our wealth grows over the time:

Image
Last edited by Frugalchicos on Sun May 07, 2017 7:07 am, edited 11 times in total.

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue May 02, 2017 6:24 pm

Here we have the numbers from our meeting from April 4th:

MARCH INCOME – $7,490
Chico’s Salary – $3,994
Chica’s Salary – $3,496

MARCH EXPENSES – $3,899.53
Mortgage: $1,944.89 (note: $1,098 went to principal, counting that as a savings)
HOA: $244.83
Car Insurance: $68.95
Gas (Car): $102.58
Groceries: $250.55
Cellphones: $27.48 (note: Chica’s work pays her cellphone bill, this is just Chico’s phone plan with Lycamobile)
Internet: $68.98
Gas (House): $76.74
Electricity: $36.48
Chica’s Gym: $39.99
Chico’s Gym: $10
Chica’s Spanish Classes: $240
Misc./Entertainment: $788.06 (note: we each get $60/week allowance, that’s included here)

Our take home combined salary each month is $7,490. So that leaves $3,590.47.

Our investments consist in basically throwing all our savings into our Betterment account (90% stocks, 10% bonds) - on top of Chica’s 401K and Chico's retirement plan.

We contribute $200 every two weeks (try to alternate the contributions, so we buy every week) and Chica’s complete salary ($3,496) totaling $3,896.

With our mortgage principal payments and Betterment contributions, we saved 69% of our take home salary this month. Note: this doesn't include any 401K contributions or retierement plan.


For May's meeting, we are thinking in coming with some Taliban budget in order to get the desired 70% saving rate.

CURRENT ASSETS: $166,092.85 - Increase of NW $5,453.05
Cash Savings: $3,691.57
Investments: $37,757.06
Chico’s Retirement: $5,439.78
Katie’s 401K: $31,685.78
Home Equity: $87,518.66

Image
Last edited by Frugalchicos on Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Tue May 02, 2017 6:44 pm

Hey guys,

Apologies for the small graph, I will try to figure out how to make it bigger, so we don't have to buy coke bottle glasses to be able to see it.

Cheers!

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu May 04, 2017 8:17 am

Hello Everyone,

Back with our monthly meeting, these are our numbers for April:

APRIL INCOME – $7,490
Chico’s Salary – $3,994
Chica’s Salary – $3,496

APRIL EXPENSES – $3,933.37
Mortgage: $1,944.89 (note: $1,114.95 went to principal, counting that as a savings)
HOA: $244.83
Car Insurance: $68.88
Gas (Car): $190.61
Groceries: $216.79
Cellphones: $27.48 (note: Chica’s work pays her cellphone bill, this is just Chico’s phone plan with Lycamobile)
Internet: $68.98
Gas (House): $83.34
Electricity: $34.24
Chica’s Gym: $39.99
Chico’s Gym: $10
Chica’s Spanish Classes: $240
Misc./Entertainment: $768.36 (note: this month includes $105 spent on emissions testing for the car and $35 toward our camping trip later this month)

This month, we saved 62.4% of our take home salary this month. Note: this doesn’t include any 401K contributions.

CURRENT ASSETS: $172,672.26 - Increase NW $6,579.41
Cash savings: $3,696.18
Investments: $41,939.12
Chico’s Retirement: $5,730.31
Chica’s 401K: $32,670.95
Home Equity: $88,638.70

Image
Last edited by Frugalchicos on Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:05 pm, edited 10 times in total.

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu May 04, 2017 8:27 am

During our monthly meeting, we also talk about how we can be more efficient and cut on expenses. These are our goals and plans for the near future:

- Chica will stop taking Spanish classes at the end of May. Even though they were helpful, they were the biggest expense and the easiest to eliminate. (this change will help us to save $240 x 7 = $1,680 in 2017)
- Allowances: Well...this has been the biggest challenge for us since we had $60 a week to spend in whatever we wanted. We compromise that starting in June, we will have $40 instead, and when we don't spend it, it will be invested. (Hopefully we get to save an extra $120/month, so $840 for 2017).
- The above cuts will help us to save $2,520 that will be invested in Betterment.
- We also talked about focusing more in our happiness and fitness. Want to start jogging in the weekends (if weather permits it...) and practice some yoga (I recommend doyogawithme.com, they have plenty of videos and it is mostly free).
- I will also try to use more veggies as the base for our meals (I cook pretty healthy for the most part).

Thanks for reading!
Last edited by Frugalchicos on Thu May 04, 2017 9:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

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

Post by Jason » Thu May 04, 2017 8:46 am

I don't know about your personal stuff but the Pintxos look delicious.

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

Post by Cornerman » Thu May 04, 2017 9:54 am

Good progress , moving to Spain with a bit of cash is a good idea. Especially if you already have family there. And jogging and running can always be done ;) , even with a bit of "bad" weather. Good luck with everything.

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

Post by bryan » Thu May 04, 2017 11:35 am

> - Chica will stop taking Spanish classes at the end of May. Even though they were helpful, they were the biggest expense and the easiest to eliminate. (this change will help us to save $240 x 7 = $1,680 in 2017)

Nice savings! Does she plan on learning through some other method? Curious as I wouldn't mind picking up Spanish in a frugal, lazy way. Couldn't even be bothered to use free smartphone apps to learn vocabulary..

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu May 04, 2017 12:19 pm

Jason wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 8:46 am
I don't know about your personal stuff but the Pintxos look delicious.

Hi Jason,

Thanks! yes, pintxos are out of this world... and good comment, I realize I didn't really tell much about myself. I will post more about interests and things I like to do shortly!

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu May 04, 2017 12:22 pm

Cornerman wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 9:54 am
Good progress , moving to Spain with a bit of cash is a good idea. Especially if you already have family there. And jogging and running can always be done ;) , even with a bit of "bad" weather. Good luck with everything.
Hi Cornerman!

Thanks for the encouragement! yes, having family there and knowing exactly where you are going makes things much easier (and realistic). In regards to running...yes, it is just committing yourself to it and stick with it.

Cheers!

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Thu May 04, 2017 12:32 pm

bryan wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 11:35 am
> - Chica will stop taking Spanish classes at the end of May. Even though they were helpful, they were the biggest expense and the easiest to eliminate. (this change will help us to save $240 x 7 = $1,680 in 2017)

Nice savings! Does she plan on learning through some other method? Curious as I wouldn't mind picking up Spanish in a frugal, lazy way. Couldn't even be bothered to use free smartphone apps to learn vocabulary..
Good to see you again Bryan!

Yes, cutting the Spanish classes was a tough decision but necessary for the goal. Chica has it easy since I speak Spanish myself. We committed to speak in Spanish at home more often. I will also try to download a teaching guide or something like that so I can teach her the grammar accordingly.

My recommendations for learning any language are:
- find a girlfriend/boyfriend who speaks the language you want to learn (probably the most passive and fun way of doing it)
- Duolingo to learn some vocabulary ( I find it somehow limited once you start advancing)
- Read a book of a movie you already watched in your language so you can follow the story (only when you have some basic grammar)
- Watch a show or short clips in youtube with captions in the language you want to learn...

Those are some of the free ways I can think of since I did them when I was learning English... Will keep you updated since I have to find a way to teach Chica!

Cheers!

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Fri May 05, 2017 8:30 am

Happy Friday!

Apart from numbers, I would also like to use this journal to take notes of myself and see how I evolve over these years.

- Things I currently like / enjoy doing:
- Being with my best friend (wife)
- Cooking (yes, I will definitely post some kick ass recipes in here)
- Traveling
- Hanging out with friends and family (sometimes challenging when it comes to those spender friends... have been eliminating them from my agenda over the years)
- Watching soccer (only the team I support, don't waste time watching any other games)
- Movies and documentaries
- Reading about economics and finance
- Lifting weights
- I love walking
- Camping and hiking.
- Riding my bike to the beach.
- Playing play station, Mostly online Battlefield and Fifa

- Things I want to start picking, doing and learn in the near future:
- Thinking in start reading books only in French. I want to get back to it and become fluent again.
- Learning new recipes and become a bad ass chef (got an associates degree in culinary while I was in college)
- Learn more about economics and investing (already had a peak at the recommended reading list).
- Learn how to be more patient
- Start going to the gym for 1 hour/ day, 5 days a week instead of 30 mns a day as I am doing now.
- Learn more about car maintenance. I guess youtube has all the answers.
- Practice yoga at least once a week. Will help with the patience and stretching.
- Learn how to teach Spanish to Chica

That's all for now, I bet I will come up with more things shortly. But for now, it is a good start.

Wish you all a great weekend!

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

Post by Jason » Fri May 05, 2017 11:06 am

Frugalchicos wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 12:19 pm
Jason wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 8:46 am
I don't know about your personal stuff but the Pintxos look delicious.

Hi Jason,

Thanks! yes, pintxos are out of this world... and good comment, I realize I didn't really tell much about myself. I will post more about interests and things I like to do shortly!
Are they like nachos? I love nachos. I once had these nachos on vacation in New England that gave me so much gas, my wife told me that if I farted one more time in the hotel room, she was going to go home. The problem was that we were on the second floor and the balcony overlooked the hotel courtyard, so if I went outside to fart I would gas up everyone eating in the courtyard. It was like the Sophie's Choice of farting. Ultimately I decided to save my marriage as opposed to the good will of the other guests.

Anyway, back to point. I have never heard of these pintxos, but maybe you could sell them here in America. I'd test them out.

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

Post by Frugalchicos » Fri May 05, 2017 12:27 pm

Jason wrote:
Fri May 05, 2017 11:06 am
Frugalchicos wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 12:19 pm
Jason wrote:
Thu May 04, 2017 8:46 am
I don't know about your personal stuff but the Pintxos look delicious.

Hi Jason,

Thanks! yes, pintxos are out of this world... and good comment, I realize I didn't really tell much about myself. I will post more about interests and things I like to do shortly!
Are they like nachos? I love nachos. I once had these nachos on vacation in New England that gave me so much gas, my wife told me that if I farted one more time in the hotel room, she was going to go home. The problem was that we were on the second floor and the balcony overlooked the hotel courtyard, so if I went outside to fart I would gas up everyone eating in the courtyard. It was like the Sophie's Choice of farting. Ultimately I decided to save my marriage as opposed to the good will of the other guests.

Anyway, back to point. I have never heard of these pintxos, but maybe you could sell them here in America. I'd test them out.
Hey Jason,

No, they are not like nachos, they are more like high cuisine in miniature that usually goes on top of a slice of bread. They won't give you gas :), just happiness

And yes, I thought about the pintxo/wine bar multiple times. Basque don't really have a lot of representations here in the US with the exception of Boise and some parts in Northern California. I am proud to say that Basque cuisine is among one of the best in the world (being a Michelin Star heaven with 19 stars in the region)

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

Post by Jason » Fri May 05, 2017 12:42 pm

I think you should try it. I know its easier said than done but in a foodie-tourist town - like Portland Maine where people just walk around all day looking at and occasionally buying overpriced shit, something like that would be a hit. Especially if its guaranteed fart free so people won't be afraid to go in there if they are at that stupid stage in a relationship where they are actually trying to impress the other person. Because if that nacho episode had taken place at that stage, I would not be married, at least to my current wife.

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