July 2019

A quietly steady month for us. Markets have been doing their upward trajectory. There is a big group of people who think a correction is due, including me. It could come in a couple of months, in a couple of weeks, or we could be in the middle of one right now. Who knows? That’s why we keep investing every week, every month.

Major expense for last month was our semi-yearly auto insurance premium for $839. Obviously an expected expense, and we plan and save for this throughout the year.

Other than that, summer has been treating us well. We have a few short travels – extended weekend – planned for this and next month. Life is good.

A big change in FIRE plan

In one of our first posts, The Who and the What, we had alluded to our plan (hope?) of being FIRE by 2023. The time has now come to throw some light on activities behind the scenes that will radically change the 2023 timeline.

First, why 2023? With the accelerated pay-down of our mortgage, we would outright own our home in 4 more years. Assets would have grown as well and it would be the perfect time to bow out of full-time jobs.

What’s changing? Well, we are going to super charge one of our RE (not quite the FI) date and slow burn the other’s FIRE date.

M is going to stop working full-time by beginning of 2020. (possibly earlier)

W is going to work full-time, foresee-ably, till 2030.

Why is the timeline changing so drastically and differently for both of us?

Long-ish story …

M started a job last year that increased the paycheck by about 50%. But with that added money comes the multiplied baggage of corporate America – longer hours, more responsibility, travel. Ah, travel. M has been traveling every week since the beginning of the year! People within this industry are are expected to, and do, travel a lot. Before taking the job we were aware about the travel aspect but did not quite understand the rigors it would put on the entire family. The burden it puts on one parent to take care of everything in the home.

Especially, not being home for our child, D. One thing that became painfully apparent was how much M was missing D, and vice-versa. So Travel, bye Felicia!

Another factor is the culture of the industry M works in. People are very, VERY driven. Most will not think twice before putting in an 80-hour work week. The unwritten “expectation” is 60 hours, which M was aware of and have no problem in following. The more M interacted with senior leadership the more M questioned whether M want to be like them in 5 years or so. So completely invested – heart and soul – into the company and what it stood for and the work. It is not in M’s nature to be that invested in work.

Maybe switching to a job that did not involve travel, or moving to a different industry, could be the cure?

This led to a greater introspection of what M wants from a job or life in general.

What M realized is that spending time with family is the #1 thing right now. Especially since D is growing up so fast that missing days away from family is akin to missing a new facet of personality developing. Even a job that doesn’t require travel would require going in to work from 9 to 5. During the summer. On a gorgeous day.

Go out and play. Hit a ball. Catch a fish. Kick a ball. Ride a bike. Throw a ball. Build a castle in the sand. Ride kayak. Get a couple of bruises to reminisce about.

When being at daycare is grandly trumped by the above actions!

FIRE, technically, should give us the time to spend together as family. There is a meme doing the rounds of social media. It says,

We get 18 delicious summers with our children. This is one of your 18. If that’s not perspective, I don’t know what it is.

As parents we get 18 years to really interact with our progeny to mold them into functioning human beings. I would argue that it is actually less than 18 years when you subtract the 0-4 years in front, and possibly the 4 years of high school. 10 full years. If we can’t give our kids the highest priority for these formative years, which is on average one-eighth of our life span, what does that tell about us?

Another thing that came out of the conversations was how W did not see the RE aspect of FIRE the same way M does. W really likes the work, the workplace, the people interaction. Even if we stayed on our current plan, and were to be on the verge of FIRE in 2023, W is not sure if quitting the full-time job would be the calling. W’s health insurance continuing through work is another added bonus, which in turn keeps our out of pocket costs down.

This double realization – where M does not want to continue full-time work and W does want to continue full-time work – made us stop and rethink our FIRE path forward. Could we be at a point where if we did not put in a single dollar towards investments, we still could end up being FIRE in 11 years?

And running the numbers, the answer is a resounding yes!

From our end of June post, we have $604k in retirement accounts. If we stopped funding all of our retirement accounts right now, at the end of 11 years, that sum would have grown to $1.16M, at 6% compound interest. Which is quite a conservative estimate.

It is a very realistic scenario that we might be truly FIRE by year 9 or 10.

Adam, over at Brewing FIRE, had this very lucid and dear to heart post about “Coast FIRE”. He explains the “stopping point” where “we will stop pedaling and let our momentum carry us to financial independence“. Encourage everyone to go over there and read his piece in entirety. He ran some good numbers as well.

We think we are at this coast point now. We can cut back on work, we can remain thrifty (maybe a bit more so), and can start to appreciate the mundane aspects of life.

Wait, what will M actually do after leaving full-time job? Being more involved in taking care of the family is where most of the freed up time will now be spent. Things like cooking dinner most days of the week. Mowing the yard and cleaning the house, and not outsourcing those chores. Less or no before and after school care for D. Even self-care activities as going to the gym regularly, playing on recreational adult sport teams.

M is certain to do some sort of part-time work as well in RE. M really wants to pursue some hands-on endeavor where the fruits of labor are tangible. Coaching athletics/sports, substitute teaching, tutoring school aged kids. Getting a commercial driving license and doing some seasonal work. Maybe get a CFP certification and become a financial planner to help families who aren’t as savvy. Maybe getting involved in local and grass-root activism. There are plenty of options around.

Netting around $1K a month shouldn’t be a huge deal with a few days worth of few-hours-a-day work.

M has worked all 15-years of professional life sitting in front of a computer. That is about to change and the excitement is palpable 🙂

June 2019

We hit two milestones last month. First, our assets crossed over the $1M mark for the first time ever. Second, our Net Worth went over $800K, for the first time too.

Increase of $37K in a month? That’s a new record for us!

Mostly this is a result of the markets swinging up by over 7% in June. Always remember, the markets will show volatility in the short term, but over the long run – think 15, 20 years – the markets will trend upwards.

Major expenses for June was $1,379 as down payment for a fence we are getting installed. The work will be done in July. Remainder payment of ~$2.5K will be made later this month after the installation.

We also bought an ecobee – smart thermostat – last month for $214, which is supposed to “pay for itself” in a few months due to reduced electricity and natural gas consumption. I have my reservation about how much we will actually save, but hey, the little device is cool. It is integrated with Alexa – Amazon’s voice assistant – and now our thermostat can play music. Wow.

Debt went down by almost exactly $4k, which is about par for us.

I’ve alluded to some changes coming about. Need to find the time and the mental clarity to put that in a post!

May 2019

Our first month in 2019 where we turned red month-over-month.

The markets declining about 6% in May had a major role to play.

Major expense last month was a $2.5K payment for an emergency room visit from 2 months ago. All good on health front though. Another $2.75K on flights for one set of parents. This is a yearly expense baked into our finances.

Reduced debt by $4.2K by mainly paying extra on the mortgage principal.

Besides that another month of the usual. Markets could go down even more. Or it could rise. That’s how the markets work. It’s all good.

Mortgage – To get the longest term or not

The basic premise of this post is this:

You should get the longest term mortgage that you can get. Say, 30 years.

You should try to pay it off much faster. Say, 10 to 12 years.

Note: If on the 30-year mortgage you were to pay every month as if you were paying a 15-year mortgage, you WILL NOT be able to pay off your 30-year mortgage in 15-years.

It will take you a few more payments, depending on the rates of each mortgage. That is the premium you would be paying for having a greater rate of interest, but lower monthly payments.

But, let’s suppose, you were to pay your 30-year mortgage as if it were a 10-year mortgage, you WILL pay it faster than if you took out a 15-year mortgage and paid the standard calculated mortgage payment every month.

As an example, let’s work with the following numbers. Here is the link to the Google sheet that lays out the numbers …in all their gory details 😀

(Rates are from about 5 months ago)

Principal mortgage amount: $300,000

Rate on a 30-year mortgage: 4.5%

Rate on a 15-year mortgage: 3.875%

If you were to take out the 30-year mortgage, and if you were to make the full 360 payments, you will end up paying $247,220 in interest on your $300k loan.

But we don’t want to do that. This is the control option. We want to know what the interest number is but we will not be following this option.

If you were to take out the 15-year mortgage, and if you were to make the full 180 payments, you will end up paying $96,057 in interest on your $300k loan.

Now …the scenario we want to focus on.

In this scenario, you are paying your 30-year mortgage as if you were paying down your 15-year mortgage – i.e. you are rounding off your monthly payment to what would amount to if you were paying a 15-year mortgage, an extra $680.26 that goes directly in reducing your outstanding principal every month. In this case, you end up paying $120,893 in interest, and you pay this over 192 payment.

More than a 50% decrease from $247K to $120K. Voila! But still more than what you would pay for a 15-year ….

Why 192 payments? Because it won’t be 180 payments as less is going towards paying down the principal than if you actually had a 15-year mortgage. This amounts to paying around $96 more in per month for what I call the “premium for safety” that you pay for not taking out a 15-year mortgage.

Whew. Still with me? We have one more scenario to cover.

Now …we come to the scenario that I really want to focus on.

Look into the second sheet/tab in the worksheet.

What if you were to pay down your 30-year mortgage as if you’re paying a 10-year loan (with the rates from the 15-year loan).

You would end up paying only $76,035 in interest and pay off your mortgage in 125 months (still more than 120 payments if you actually took out a 10-year mortgage, but close enough).

I’ll repeat the theme of this post here again: Get a 30-year mortgage. Then pay it down as if you were paying a 10- or 12-year mortgage.

You will pay far less in interest, $20K in our example. But you also have the option with a lower monthly payment if you cannot accelerate fast enough.

There you go. Download the worksheet and play around with your own numbers.

_____________________________________________________________

There is one more scenario which in the third sheet, that tells you what is the optimal number of payments you should aim for if you want to come closest to paying the total interest if you had a 15-year mortgage. In this case it comes out to 148 payments.

April 2019

We were less than $2.5k away from being “asset millionaires”! (That doesn’t really mean anything, but the little joys of “millionaires” and “we” being in the same sentence :D)

At ~$23K, we posted our lowest year-to-date monthly increase of net worth. I can’t even begin to imagine how privileged we are to be in our position. Some of it comes with being judicious with our spending and automatic savings/investment. Our incomes helps as well. But where we started off in our adult lives, or for that matter the factors that precedes our birth, play a major though silent roles in where we are. #acknowledgePrivilege.

We paid taxes last month! On April 15th, automatic direct deductions were made from our account: around $2.5K to Federal and $500 to state. For the past 9 years or so we have owed money at the end of the year. This is expected as we would rather owe money than get a refund. Ideal case would be if we had paid the exact amount of tax in the prior year, but that’s hard to pull off. I’m perfectly fine with the government giving us an interest free loan for a few months, on which we earn interest! We have a savings account earmarked for taxes that pay 2.5%, so it’s a win-win for us.

Nothing else really worth noting for April. Markets have been on an upward swing. No major spending. Just a good ol’ solid month.

We as a family made a major decision last month. Not quite ready to reveal it here as we need a little more time to flesh it out. Stay tuned for some big update in the next month or so.

March 2019

The markets have been relatively flat over March but we have been pumping in our usual amounts to our respective 401(k)s, joint brokerage account, and 529 for the kiddo.

Also, we made most of our Roth and traditional IRA contributions for 2018 last month. We were pleasantly surprised that we’re still able to contribute for Roth, though our MAGI was in the phased out section. Don’t think we’ll be able to contribute to this bucket for tax year 2019. The reason we waited to make our contributions so late is we wanted to know for sure how much we’d be able to contribute in our Roths, knowing well that we would either be over the range, or close to the top. Once we filed our taxes mid March, we got the AGI, and then the MAGI, to determine how much we can contribute.

Asset for March is at an all time high, so is Net Worth. Liabilities are down by almost $4.5k compared to February.

A $10k bond we had for the past 20 years reached its final maturity last month. For the time being we have kept that in a checking account.

Remember: Markets will fluctuate. Maintain course!

Read here on what makes up our Assets and Liabilities.