Douglas journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

My wife got a job a couple weeks ago. We will net about $1,500 more a month after associated costs of her going to work are accounted for (child care). Net gain will stay like this for a couple years but will gradually increase as the kids get older. She is really happy about going back to work after a few years as a stay at home mom and it is nice to get a cash bump while we are still in the first half of accumulation years.

And we are getting a cleaning lady. At least for a while until we get our rhythm back. We'll see if it is worth it but it would be nice to get extra sets of hands to clean while you have kids. I guess count this along with owning a home as one of my most un ERE things I've done.

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

Today I consider our net worth to be conservatively $0. That is, we could pay off our mortgage if we liquidated our savings and 401k and used it towards principal. I actually thought we reached this milestone 6 months ago but due to an accounting error in my spreadsheet I was sorely disappointed that we were still $60,000 short or so. It took me a while to recover from that one.

With a kid now in daycare our SWR has also taken a hit. It was trending down nicely but now is above 30% and will likely stay there for a while. With another kid on the way we're looking at more than a few years until it starts aggressively heading south again. Eventually they will be potty trained and in elementary school...or so I have been told. Positive side is that my wife has gotten her career back on track and so that should make us more financially resilient in the long run.

With a mortgage, a couple kids, and now a cleaning lady I'm not sure I should be allowed to participate in the ERE forums. I guess I will hang around until I get booted. Maybe I am still here because they need some diversity on the forum.

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

This week we finally crossed into positive net worth including our mortgage as debt. SWR took a hit though because my wife got a job and kids are going to daycare (monthly spending increased a lot). Net worth still has a good trajectory.

Image

wolf
Posts: 1090
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Douglas journal

Post by wolf »

Well done Douglas! A true milestone indeed!

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

Thanks Wolf! If you look at the numbers in multiple ways you can pass milestones with higher frequency.

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

It's been a long time coming for an update. About a year ago I stopped tracking our spending because my wife got a job and our elevated spending levels made me not want to see it. I want to start tracking everything closely again as she just got a new job that pays significantly more, which all else being equal will decreases the time to FI, which makes the number crunching interesting again. FWIW we are currently at ~7x yearly living expenses saved up if you include home equity and retirement accounts. After tax accounts will get a big boost in about 8 months once we pay off our mortgage. Aiming to be FI in 6 years with a paid off house and $1 million in retirement and after tax accounts.

I have some confessions to make though that aren't very ERE and just need to air it out. I haven't pulled the trigger yet on many big ticket items but it will likely happen sooner than later. We definitely have had spending creep now that we have money saved but for now I am going to put pressure on pure spending waste and direct our dollars to long term investments into our health and happiness.

- we hire people to clean our house every other week + we bought a rumba. We pay $85 for just under 1200 square feet (2 1/2 baths) for the services and $450 for the robot. I still feel like I do a lot of cleaning so I can't imagine life again without this help. It is also a marriage saver. Once you have at least 3x years expenses saved up I highly recommend getting help to clean the house, especially if you spend significant amounts of time in your house and your spouse insists that it stays clean.

- we want a really nice house, ETA 2-4 years. Nothing crazy maybe 2500 square feet with a yard for a garden and a big garage in an above average school district. Problem is that could easily cost over $500,000 where we are. We might put our cap at $600,000 but then probably live in the house for 15 years before downgrading. We'll try to go for the deals though and aim for a fixer upper if possible. Another downside is we would likely be further from our jobs (currently 10 minute bike rides for both of us!) but with work from home likely becoming a long-term trend this might not be an issue.

- we want a truck, ETA after we get the house but might happen sooner. Probably will be midsize but man would it be nice to have a big truck,,, for reasons that are not logical (don't want a boat, don't want to haul big trailers). Want to put a small camper on the back for cross country camping and use it to haul stuff around town. Ideally it will sit in the garage not being used for most of the time. Looking to spend $20-40k on a new or used truck. At the end of the day it will just be a luxury but if things turn out according to plan we could have many many great times exploring the USA by truck and camper (of course we will also bring bikes), which is a lot of adventure for not a lot of money.

- I want a nice MTB / trail bike, ETA 1-3 years. Currently my commuter is an old-ish trek road bike which is great, will also use this for triathlon racing of which I will participate in my first one next year (not trying to place). In the future though I want to do MTB and bikepacking and that can easily cost $2-6k for a bike. Plus I'll need to get my wife a new bike for the trails because that's how we roll. I don't very much like riding my bike with cars flying past me, when I heard about bikepacking on dirt roads and trails with very few cars something clicked...fear of dying by car while riding a bike was greatly reduced...This is definitely how I want to spend my time in the near future.


that's about it, other than that it's just a couple hundred dollars here or there to satisfy my tool and outdoor sporting habits. I'm not trying to eliminate / reduce my outdoor sporting to save money (that was when I was in student loan and credit card debt) but I am interested in trying to get as much as I can out of my investment when I do finally fork over the bucks. I do the "write what you want to buy" thing on our chalk board and see if you still want it after a few months. Most things on my list end up getting erased and never purchased. We also put long term goals and other self-improvement reminders close to the material wish list. I find it is a good conversation starter when guests come over.

Hristo Botev
Posts: 792
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 3:42 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Hristo Botev »

Just read through your journal and I'm glad I did. Congratulations on passing from negative to positive NW; that's fantastic!
Douglas wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:47 pm
- we want a really nice house, ETA 2-4 years. Nothing crazy maybe 2500 square feet with a yard for a garden and a big garage in an above average school district. Problem is that could easily cost over $500,000 where we are. We might put our cap at $600,000 but then probably live in the house for 15 years before downgrading. We'll try to go for the deals though and aim for a fixer upper if possible. Another downside is we would likely be further from our jobs (currently 10 minute bike rides for both of us!) but with work from home likely becoming a long-term trend this might not be an issue.
I see a crazy amount of similarities between your path and my own. And if my math is correct (you're the engineer, not me), I'm just about 2 or so years ahead of you on the life/family path. That's why this bullet about the house upgrade screamed out at me. About 5.5 years ago (right before our oldest kid was going to start Kindergarten) DW and I convinced ourselves we needed to switch from a ~1,400 sq. ft. house (we'd bought for $385K and sold for something like $580K) to a ~2,600 sq. ft one with a big yard and a garage for $600K+ (it was in a good school district, but so was our first house), for which we had to get a primary and secondary mortgage, in addition to still making payments on a family loan that we'd got so we could buy the first home. Our thinking was with 2 kids getting older we needed more space. Anyway, it was a BIG MISTAKE. We had to pay to maintain the big yard, to clean and maintain and heat/cool and furnish all those square feet, and although we could "afford" the home based on the funky math the mortgage/real estate industry uses (i.e., you can make the payments based on current income, assuming nothing goes wrong), it was a MASSIVE cash suck. I'd give anything to have never left that first house, which we now realize was more than big enough for the 4 of us plus the dog. We've since sold the big house (at a loss, once you factor in transaction costs) and downsized to a 1,300 sq. ft. townhouse, which is great, but I'd prefer to be back in the original house, which ain't going to happen because the market has increased so much since we first bought in 2010. Anyway, I know your situation is of course very different from mine; but I felt compelled to share that little anecdote. The grass was DEFINITELY not greener (and there was a lot more grass to try and keep green).
Douglas wrote:
Fri Sep 25, 2020 3:47 pm
- we want a truck, ETA after we get the house but might happen sooner. Probably will be midsize but man would it be nice to have a big truck,,, for reasons that are not logical (don't want a boat, don't want to haul big trailers).
Ha! We just bought a Ram 1500 (a few months ago), and honestly, we love it. Neither of us drives for work, and so the truck mostly sits in the driveway. But man, we love the versatility of a truck. It's certainly a luxury, but we can cram 5 soccer kids into the truck to get to/from practice/games; seems every other week I'm building that social capital by helping someone from the church, school, local non-profit, extended family, etc. move something. And there's a good chance we'll end up with a camper trailer in the near future, which is why we decided to go ahead and get the truck. It's certainly not a good idea for a commuting car, but if you've only got one car and you don't need a car for commuting, groceries, etc., it's a helluva lot of fun.

wolf
Posts: 1090
Joined: Fri Jan 06, 2017 5:09 pm
Location: Germany

Re: Douglas journal

Post by wolf »

Great progress. You saved 7 years of expensens in just over a year. Is that right? Well done. Congrats for your wife's job, too.

2Birds1Stone
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Joined: Thu Nov 19, 2015 11:20 am
Location: Earth

Re: Douglas journal

Post by 2Birds1Stone »

I think he went from not counting house equity (crossing NW of $0) to including it in his "years of expenses saved" multiple, which may skew the numbers a bit.

I've read your journal back when you first started posting, and it sounded like you were slowly getting on the ERE bandwagon, but that last post has me scratching my head.

ertyu
Posts: 1289
Joined: Sun Nov 13, 2016 2:31 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by ertyu »

Seconding everything you said about hiring cleaning help. It's worth it for a single person, too. For instance, my depressed ass benefitted a lot from having someone prevent my living environment from spiralling out of control when i had a hard time coping with anything much due to depression. Cleaning help is cheaper than therapy and marriage counseling, and in general is way worth it. You are also usually putting money directly in the hands of people who can use it, and who would then turn around and spend it. It's a net positive for society, too.

Currently, I am single and unemployed, and I solve my cleaning issues by living in a very small apartment with very few furnishings. Clean-up has been manageable even for someone like me.

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

yeah my mind has wondered from the ERE mentality as of late, thanks to the forums I hope to get back on track. It began when my wife finally got a fresh career start over a year ago, and when the kid went to daycare I saw the progress we made on our SWR destroyed just like that. I stopped checking in on the ERE forum and with literally no one around me pursuing similar goals we went astray. It's not too late though! ... I read Hristo's and 2bird's responses yesterday and it got me second guessing yet again the need for a bigger house (don't want to let 2bird down!). The wife is not insisting on it so might as well try and push it out as long as we can. I still want a truck though but maybe buy a much cheaper one and keep it parked on the street. In the meantime I'm also looking into pulling a small trailer for our Honda Fit and/or get a roof rack if we don't get a truck. I guess we probably shouldn't buy another house just for a bigger garage. First world ERE problems indeed.

The 7x living expenses saved up does include money we've used to pay down the mortgage. I stopped tracking SWR so this was my new way to include home equity. If needed we could sell our house fairly quickly. Its not as liquid as cash or stocks but IMO it is still a big chunk of money that should be accounted for somehow before the mortgage is paid off.

With our jobs we're now pulling in $250k / year for our family (before taxes). We could be lean FI in five years or maybe four if we really get our act together (assuming we don't buy another house). I don't think we will want to stop working at that time though. Maybe take a really long camping road trip and then get back to work and find a less demanding job or just coast on the current ones. I would be hesitant to turn off the fire hose of money prematurely but at some point we'll let go.

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

Finally started tracking our financials after hiatus, it feels good. My python skills have come a long way and now it only takes a couple hours now which not too long ago would take me a couple days to complete. Nothing fancy just combining data tables and summary statistics. I made it less painful by having some spending calculations exclude daycare. Goal is for our monthly average to get to $3,500 excluding daycare ($42,000 for year)...this past month was hopefully a (high) outlier as we move forward. We pay a mortgage but I don't count principal paid as spending on home (it counts as savings).

House will be paid off next year then we will shovel money into after tax accounts. My FI race started in 2013 and I added my partner in 2015....we are just now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel here in 2020. Trying to pick up the pace in the final stretch and not lose focus, hence the more regular journal posts complete with fresh data. Our FI date is pegged for end of 2025, could be sooner if we make big life changes (like move into an RV,,, or move in with my parents!)...you never know.

Image

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

sharing a medium term goal of mine and unveiling more about myself. I married a french woman and we live in the U.S. She just got her american citizenship so now the attention has turned to me getting a french citizenship. We've done some research and it seems I can apply for citizenship after so many years of being married, even if we do not live in france. Next year I will be able to apply for french citizenship and the year after I should be taking the exam. The end goal is to have flexibility with work and travel. As a french citizen I can work anywhere in the EU...if I wanted. This is very appealing

The biggest roadblock is the language comprehension part. I basically need to be able to read, write, and speak french at an intermediate level. I have been working on my french for 5 years now with some but not a ton of progress. I am kicking it up a notch in the final stretch though. Caught wind of "LingQ" on this forum and signed up for $8 / month. I like it a lot...takes care of the reading, writing, and listening comprehension parts. For the speaking part just need to keep speaking at home...we dedicate a couple of hours a day to just speaking french. I am still at the beginner level but plan to be solid intermediate by 2022. I don't want to go into the exam nervous, I want to be over-prepared and confident.

Alphaville
Posts: 1586
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Location: Quarantined

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Alphaville »

the easiest way to learn a language is via immersion. pardon my misspellings & grammatical maladroitness due to long years without practice, but i will attempt to explain and demonstrate to you here:

la chose plus importante que vous devoir faire c’est demander que votre femme parles à vous exclusivement en français pendant, peut être... deux heures par jour. interdit de traduire. elle peut expliquer les choses avec des gestes où d’images, mais pas d’anglais, pas de tout. si vous avez besoin d’un dictionare, vour pourrais utiliser seulement un dictionaire français. même chose avec la lecture: il faut lire en français, il fau penser en français. et plus, c’est facile de télécharger des dictionaires avec les livres electroniques pour consulter directement sur la page.

bon chance monsieur... et vive la france 🇫🇷

Douglas
Posts: 59
Joined: Fri Feb 10, 2017 11:36 am

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Douglas »

Nice, Alphaville. I would say if you could pop that out without notice you would pass the exam with just a little bit of brush up. I understood right away what you are saying but I am a ways off from coming up with a stand alone paragraph like that, at least without taking an hour to write it and looking up a bunch of words.

My wife talks to the children almost exclusively in french so some of that does trickle down to me, but unless we make the effort to speak exclusively in french she will start speaking to me in english. We're speaking in french more now though since I am in the home stretch.

Alphaville
Posts: 1586
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2019 10:50 am
Location: Quarantined

Re: Douglas journal

Post by Alphaville »

mais... il faut parler seulement en français quand on practique. absolutement pas d’anglais. la traduction est la mort de l’apprentissage de la langue. il faut l’apprendre instinctivement, comme les enfants. c’est pas une chose intellectuelle. en citant tristan tzara, “le pensée se fait dans la bouche.”

la télé et la musique aident aussi:

https://www.france24.com/fr/direct

n’avez-pas peur des erreurs... la perfection arrive plus tard (beaucoup plus tard... peut-être jamais :lol:)

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