Pammys Path

Where are you and where are you going?
pammys
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Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:50 am

Starting with the 21 day makeover, copy and pasted some from the Intro thread (hope that's okay).

Day 1: Finding a place to live- Currently in a paid older mobile home, lot rent is $180 a month which includes water/sewage/trash. It is 7 miles to dh's work and stores. It's 1120sqft, 3 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath. There are 3 of us that takes 2 bedrooms, the third is when my daughters family comes to visit, and any excess storage like tools and such. It's not too big or too small for us.

Day 2: Decluttering and managing stuff- I've got this pretty well under control already. I went from living in/out of my van (and only what could fit in to it) to paying cash for this older mobile home, nothing came in here unless it was: cheap (I was broke), gifted, or served a purpose. My dh and his son moved in and really only brought extra beds and clothes, they sold everything else before the move, I had everything else that was needed and I loathe clutter. They are already attuned to my rule of 'stuff' in the house, haha. Working on the car issues, at the moment. Currently at 4, one is up for sale. The son is graduating this year and will be off to pharmacy school, so that's his paid car '95 mustang, was gifted from my dear dad. The paid '07 Vibe is dh's daily commute, motor is losing compression, has been over a year but keeps going and great on gas, so will drive it til it quits. The paid '05 Grand Caravan is newly acquired, it's the family car and hauler (love those stow and go seats!). The paid '83 G20 big van is up for sale as we speak. This home does not have much storage, or a garage, so it's fairly easy to not have excess 'stuff'.

Day 3: Grocery shopping- Dh works at the grocery store, so his commute also translates to shopping trips. I shop the sale adds, make a list, he brings them home from work. I cook almost everything, eating out is a treat. There are always ways to cut it even more by bulk-buying, yet the big stores are an hour and half drive. I can't yet justify the gas to go get the bigger bulk purchases. Still working on the two men here that name brand isn't always 'better', home cooked tastes better than eating out, and cost per servings adds up. Our grocery expenses are in the $300-350 range. This will go down after son leaves for college (glad football is over, that boy could eat!!!) I'm always experimenting with cheaper meats, making from scratch, bulk cooking for the freezer, making from scratch and soaking up everything I read on the subject. Always room for improvement.

Day 4: Drop the cell phone plan- Would love to!! haha I do have this cut down as much as possible and still keep the peace in the house. Three cell phones, no contract, pay-as-you-go, unlimited talk/text, no data, $60 a month for all of us. The phones can use wifi, and everyone can keep in touch. For now it's handy to coordinate since the son isn't driving yet, between picking him up for school, getting him to and from work, and physical therapy. Where I live we aren't in the range of a home phone line. Would be fine with me to have no phone, I hate talking on the phone! I've looked at other services that are cheaper, some towers don't cover this place. We've got at&t towers, airvoice was more expensive than at&t's pay-as-you-go. Straighttalk was spotty the month I tried them. Am hoping coverage up's their game and someone can be more competitive here for folks that just want a cheap phone with a cheap no frills plan.

Day 5: Find a free hobby- Free hobby is reading, love it!! I read economics, philosophy, self-help, DIY's, gardening, and non-fiction of whatever I'm researching at the time. The library people know my name. Other hobby costs roughly $150 year for the subscription. Future hobby will involve gardening when I get the place to do it. :)

Day 6: Clothes- Already a non-issue. At present I am going to school online, I can wear pj's. I rarely go anywhere I have to dress up, and when I do, it's casual. I very much prefer the thrift-shop over store bought for many reasons, being, used is way cheaper, and I can see what is crap and what isn't as it's usually had some wear and washing so you can spot the better made items. In the past year I might have spent $100 total. The hubby had hardly any clothes preferring to buy them for his son, but we've rounded out his wardrobe a bit from the thrift-store. He was like a kid in a candy store, haha. He's spent maybe $150 in the past year that also includes work attire. The stepson already has a closet full and isn't real big on needing a lot of new clothes. He might get an item or two between birthdays and Christmas and he's happy. I see no reason that any of this will change.

Day 7: Going car free- We are car heavy at the moment. As stated above, we have 4. One is up for sale (someone test driving the big van tomorrow). One is the stepson's who's heading off for college in the fall. One is limping along that hubby uses for his commute. And last one is mine, multi-purpose, I rarely go anywhere (homebody). All are paid for and not worth much, all bought in cash cheap or gifted (I didn't pay over $1500 for any of them). Two will be gone within the year. Dh's car may or may not get replaced when it finally dies. If replaced, will be an older used pickup that will never be financed. We live 7 miles from town on a high-trafficked county road that oilfield trucks drive on, no sidewalk, no shoulders. No way I would ever feel safe for anyone to bicycle on that road. Best we can do in this circumstance.

George the original one
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by George the original one » Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:19 pm

Okay, I'm impressed!

> Currently in a paid older mobile home, lot rent is $180 a month which includes water/sewage/trash.

That is an incredible deal from what I've seen. Judging by comments below, I take it you're living somewhat remote, yet somewhere there's a population center.


> Our grocery expenses are in the $300-350 range.

If that's for 4 people, your food spending is again very low. Even at 3 people, that's a very favorable cost, less than half the national median cost.


> Future hobby will involve gardening when I get the place to do it. :)

As much as I love gardening, don't be in too much of a rush to get there. In other words, your living costs right now are very low, so if a garden involves increasing the living costs greatly (e.g. buying land/house), then don't put the stash at risk trying to reach for a garden. Depending on how closely packed the mobile homes are, see if there are neighbors who would let you garden their spaces?


> No way I would ever feel safe for anyone to bicycle on that road. Best we can do in this circumstance.

Motorcycle? Scooter?

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bryan
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by bryan » Thu Jan 11, 2018 5:37 pm

Posting to follow here as well!

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:19 pm

George the original one wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 1:19 pm

That is an incredible deal from what I've seen. Judging by comments below, I take it you're living somewhat remote, yet somewhere there's a population center.

> Our grocery expenses are in the $300-350 range.

If that's for 4 people, your food spending is again very low. Even at 3 people, that's a very favorable cost, less than half the national median cost.

> Future hobby will involve gardening when I get the place to do it. :)

As much as I love gardening, don't be in too much of a rush to get there. In other words, your living costs right now are very low, so if a garden involves increasing the living costs greatly (e.g. buying land/house), then don't put the stash at risk trying to reach for a garden. Depending on how closely packed the mobile homes are, see if there are neighbors who would let you garden their spaces?

> No way I would ever feel safe for anyone to bicycle on that road. Best we can do in this circumstance.

Motorcycle? Scooter?
Currently living in a mobile home park that is 7 miles to a decently populated city. Although living here is okay and cheap, we aim to move this place to some land dh inherited from his mom. I think I clocked it at 8 miles from this same city. There is already a septic system in place, the water will need to have a well dug, and the road needs some work before we can do this move. It's in the workings, but will come out with a home on land that we own outright, no rent or mortgage, and utilities will be electric (was on the land previously, so it shouldn't be hard to connect), and a large propane tank for heat.

Will aim for my attempt at gardening when we get moved and there is more land. :) As for now, only thing that has been tried and we have room for is some tomato plants that did pretty well. Baby steps. :) Yep, the $300-350 for 3 (stepson is now 18, so 3 adults), not too bad, but can always improve.

DH would LOVE a motorcycle, lol, former biker. We've actually considered it. I have hesitations, as his history of motorcycle wrecks doesn't sit too well with me, liked his speed haha. He's okay with an older pickup when the old Vibe quits on us, and it will be useful when we get to move to our land. A compromise, if you will.

Time for day 8....
Last edited by pammys on Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Fri Jan 12, 2018 12:24 pm

Day 8: Get engaged!- I used to blog when I was doing my van stuff. Mostly it was stories about everything and anything mixed in with some van trips. :) I loved writing. It's still there, just my path has changed and I haven't played around on it in a while. Have entertained the idea of starting a new one on moving, cheap living, saving money, homesteading, rants and raves, just anything. Writing is therapeutic, even if no one reads it. Great outlet. Usually when I get my mind into something, I really, really get in to it. Will have to think more on this challenge.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Sat Jan 13, 2018 12:52 pm

Day 9: Budgeting- Interesting thoughts on how to quantify money spent on potential earnings. I'm very into the money spent aspect of this now. Our income now is low, so I do everything I can to drastically reduce money spent. The income will improve: dh is waiting for better paying position to open, looks like April, and I'll get out of school and find work. But am laying the ground work now for keeping the expenses low, which I aim to keep doing even when the income goes up. Might take a few talks when more money is in hand, as the dh isn't used to this line of thinking, but he's already coming around. For now, my goal is to get set up to reduce drastically living expenses to better utilize future earnings. My thinking is, the less needed to support current living expenses means less amount needing to be saved and a quicker achievable goal for FI.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:05 am

I'm behind! School started back with a vengeance. Will catch up:

Day 10: Calculating net worth- A long ways away from FI. Currently working on the reduction of expenses (what I can control), and then will work on increasing the income to put into investments. I have a lot of work to do! :) Current living expenses will go down after we get moved and do the things I'm aiming to do, income will increase when position will open up dh's waiting on and I get out of school. I predict this reversal will happen exponentially within 5 years.

Day 11: Connecting your stuff with your neighbors- Already have been doing this with family and friends. My dad usually has that odd tool or thing you never think to keep around. And dh has friends and past coworkers that he calls on for odds and ends. Likewise, we do the same for them. Current neighbors are likely to 'borrow' without asking and not return them, so we keep to the circle already established. :)

Day 12: Establishing a savings account- Although not there yet, lots to think about. Had always assumed long term safe investing was what I should be doing, but did not think of the aspect of needing to be able to liquidate for unforeseen reasons. Makes perfect sense. Had thought of keeping cash saved up til I could contribute big hunks, but that doesn't seem to be the only way. Will definitely be reading up on this more. I do have savings accounts with low yield interest accrual for things I already save up for, planned purchases and expenses, but need better alternatives for longer term with easier liquidity. Thanks for making my brain do some work. :)

slowtraveler
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by slowtraveler » Wed Jan 17, 2018 10:50 am

Cool journal. I love the commitment to the 21 day make over. It's an amazing start.

For investing, look up Wellesley. It's had low volatility with strong, relatively stable returns since its inception. I'd stay with the domestic version since it's got a long established track record and your spending is domestic with no intention of changing that.

For Savings account, I have Capital One 360 at 1.4% in the money market. Ally or short term treasury bills would be other possibilities that are likely useful and highly liquid.

Motorcycles are fun. In Thailand it's the main way I've gotten around the last few months. Every girl I've dated who's lived in Asia has some scars and stories of motorcycle accidents so I get your concerns about the health risks.

I'm curious, is your husband on board with FI? A lot of spouses have been converted by members on this board of the years of seeing more freedom or seeing the numbers on spreadsheets.

Jason
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by Jason » Wed Jan 17, 2018 1:29 pm

pammys wrote:
Thu Jan 11, 2018 10:50 am

Day 3: Grocery shopping- Dh works at the grocery store
Does he get an employee discount? I always wanted to ask the workers at my super market when they are shopping.

Interesting blog btw.

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bryan
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by bryan » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:18 pm

@Jason: viewtopic.php?f=1&t=9564&p=159169#p159169 (yes, 10%). I was curious too!

Jason
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by Jason » Wed Jan 17, 2018 6:40 pm

Oops. Thanks.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:07 pm

@Jason: the savings accounts I have are with Capitol One 360, as well. :) Have been using them since '05 with no issues. I'll look into Wellesly, thanks!! Oh, yes, new hubby on board so far with FI, he's just very new to this kind of thinking. I think he likes the idea of FI, and wants to achieve that. The test will be, however, when we are still living well below means and taking excess $$ to invest, we will then see how committed he is about this. We've been together a year, and only married for a month. Previously, he would spend when money was in his pocket, no worries about tomorrow or bills coming due. Enter, me. It almost bothered him I had money stashed away and didn't understand why I was holding on to it. A few minor car repairs and hot water heater issue later, for which I had an emergency fund for, he got it. He's lived so long hand-to-mouth while raising his son alone, all of this is new. So he is cool with me being super anal about making sure bills are paid, paid ahead, and emergency fund there. So far so good.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:35 pm

Day 13: Insurance- My goal is to self insure. Keeping belongings at a low replacement cost I will be cover losses with an emergency fund (ie. house, vehicles, etc.). For example, my previous small brick home cost over $1644 a year to insure, I bought the house for $85k, I live in tornado alley, so the rates weren't ridiculous for this area. But now (I'm about to shock some of you) I got a steal of a deal, paid $1500 cash for this mobile home. Home insurance is ridiculous for a mobile home in this area, so I said no to insurance on this place. I don't have anything in here of great value, I intend to keep it that way. Another can be found with cash in hand. We should be moving this one to our land, same scenario, if it gets blowed away, bring another, carry on. It's just a roof over your head, a place to sleep, and hold some things. I'm okay living this way, on the cheap side and easily replaceable. You can make anything homey on the cheap, even things of low value. Cars, same thing, easily replaceable. I carry the legal minimum insurance on all. They get me from point A to point B and can be replaced fairly easily with cash in hand. Hail dents, who cares? Risk assessment wise, when you don't have much, being able to replace it is easy. Health insurance is a biggy and concern for all. I'm the only one not covered at the moment, with no health issues. An HSA sounds perfect for our needs, as none of us have conditions requiring constant medical attention, lucky in that department, but no guarantee.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Thu Jan 18, 2018 12:46 pm

Day 14: Investing- I have some reading to do!!! I've really only looked into easy-peasy mutual funds for long term growth, max out Roth's, no real knowledge on investing. Those book recommendations will be on my book list. :) We have tossed around the idea of investing in real estate for rental income. Our area is oilfield industry, so many foreclosures in the last 2 years it would be a great time to snap up some homes for rental property. We aren't there yet, getting the living expenses settled first, but this will come.

slowtraveler
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by slowtraveler » Fri Jan 19, 2018 10:27 am

Sweet progress.

I also keep my possessions to a minimum in terms of the sum of their value. My passport is the most stressful thing to lose for me and it'd only take a day or 2 to replace. Everything else is worth under a thousand total. A backpack and small carry on suitcase with clothes, electronics, and hygiene goods. It's a relief to not be constantly worrying about my stuff. Sounds like you were already somewhat downsized before starting this journal.

In terms of HSA, I have elements. It is good for no ongoing expenses but bad if you want to invest since fees can get high. Bogleheads forum has many long threads on HSAs.

On investing, you have 2 people who can fully fund an IRA. Either a Roth (backdoor if income is too high) or Traditional IRA depending on income-sounds like you're already well on track with your research. Vanguard, Schwab, and Fidelity are the big 3 investment brokers. I'm with Vanguard since shareholders are also clients and I can have low fees with my Wellesley and index funds but I've heard the other 2 have better customer service, the other 2 also reimburse all ATM fees. And there's nothing wrong with index funds or easy mutual funds. You don't have to spend your life doing research to get 5-10% annual returns, and that's enough for me.

I have to say, it sounds like you've been on this track longer than just 14 days.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Sun Jan 21, 2018 12:14 pm

Day 15: The first two weeks- Feel like I got a solid B for the big three. Housing is cheap, cars are there but cheap, and have a pretty good handle on the food budget. Plus, I aim to work on the existing getting them even lower cost: getting moved and no rent/mortgage, stepson will take over his own car expenses, always working on lowering the food budget which will improve if gardening works out.

Declutting, hobbies, clothes, budgeting, getting engaged, and connecting stuff I'd have to also say there is another B.

Stuff that needs work: Insurance (for me), net worth and investing. All need definite improvement, I'll give myself a D in those areas.

Overall everything can improve and I'm aiming to do just that.

@slowtraveler, yes, I feel like I've been aiming for this my whole life: the need for less to insure a better future. I'm glad I found a place here where I don't feel alone in this line of thinking. I'm glad to be able to read others experiences and learn from others. Thank you all!!!

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Mon Jan 22, 2018 11:36 am

Day 16: The stuff you actually keep and use- The stuff I have, with very little exception, were acquired used. I had every thing I own in a van, at one point, and it didn't go in there unless it served a purpose, and usually more than one since space was at a minimal. When I got the home, things acquired were either given to me, or bought used at a way lower price. Space is still at a minimal, there isn't much storage here, so every thing that came in here had to serve a purpose and had to have a place to store it, so any new purchases were well thought out, like dishes and cooking appliances. I got lucky with the major appliances in here as they had upgraded the fridge, dishwasher, stove/oven, and range/microwave within the past year with energy star appliances (the stove/oven alone cost my sis over $2500 for the exact same one, more than I paid for the whole house). Shoes and the like I tend to shop around and find the best deal on the brands I know last, and then wear/use them until they die.

I'm kind of torn over the electronics, as I believe in the planned obsolescence of manufacturers, so cell phones or laptops I don't spend a lot on those, just the cheapest I can find, knowing they intend for these to break or become obsolete. And thinking along those lines, I never buy into the latest fad or gadget everyone seems to own. I keep the basics and let the idiots buy the fads. My cheapo laptop I had lasted 8 years, I'm okay with that as I didn't spend a ton on it, I think $400 at the time (they've since gone down in price, as they tend to do), meanwhile some friends bought the latest gaming laptops and spent well over $3500 on theirs, I was still able to play the same game on my cheapo just fine.

I guess I'm on the side of not holding the physical things I have at a high value. I kind of don't want to worry about breaking something or losing something I've spent a lot of money on in the first place. Nothing physical in my possession is hard to replace.

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:41 pm

Day 17: Maintaining and repairing things- I've always been pretty good with a needle and thread, no problem. And the hubby is pretty good at fixing most things himself. In the past year we've resealed the roof, worked on the water heater, a/c ducting and fixed a water leak on the house. On the vehicles, replaced a window motor, wiper motor, recharged the a/c's, and did tune-up's. Way cheaper than paying someone else to do any of these things. We're pretty resourceful on this topic. :)

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Wed Jan 24, 2018 2:50 pm

Day 18: Join a challenge- Dh already set up his own, he's doing a 300 push ups a day challenge. One for me is a little hard, will think more on this. Already at a good level on clothes shopping, cutting the grocery bill, no spending other than necessities, slashing utilities and insurance, saving up change and dollar bills,.. I got it: My personal challenge is to find a challenge. Will report when I come up with something. :)

pammys
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Re: Pammys Path

Post by pammys » Sat Jan 27, 2018 10:12 am

A few days behind, catch up time!

Day 19: Getting rid of your tv addiction- We are internet only here. I've had a severe hate of commercials for years now, cut the cord a long time ago. If we have any tv going it's Netflix or amazon without commercials. I tend to watch documentaries, some series and occasionally a movie. Though we do tend to zone out in the evening watching a series, and that needs some work. I'm hoping with the move there will be other things we can work on to occupy this time. Internet is my addiction, I love reading. Between that and schoolwork I seem to spend a lot of time on the net, and this needs some work, I admit. :)

Day 20: Own classics- Most everything we own has been bought used or gifted, and I haven't had to replace any of the big stuff, so far. When I do have to acquire something, I look for quality. I'm kind of on the other spectrum, though, having had really nice, durable, heavy furniture and it really limited my options. With it came a ton of responsibility. When my former hubby passed, I had a house full of high dollar classics. Some years later I was pretty much stuck in a situation I wasn't sure how to get out of mainly because I had all these belongings, didn't have a place to go or help to move them, that stuff weighed a ton, physically and emotionally. The weight of all this classics spiraled me into depression. I took a different course, different outlook, sold the entirety of it in one shot for way less than it's worth. Do I regret it? Not. One. Damn. Bit. I don't ever want to be in that position in my life again. Require less, find it used, cheap, or free, make-do, do without. I'm okay with that. For me, the less stuff I have the better I feel. I know this might not make sense to some people, and that's okay. We've all lived different lives and have had different experiences. I just don't want my possessions to own me.

Day 21: Investing for early retirement part 2- Definitely an area I need to research more. Dogs of the Dow on the list. Will most likely save up some before I dip my feet in. :) Good things to come!!

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