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March 28, 2011


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Interesting, my fiance and I did something similar, we moved to Buffalo, NY instead of staying Ca for his grad school because the COL is lower here and the pay was the same. I like the reader profiles.

Good job Steve. Sounds like you've got it together.

Steve, what's the number you're considering for "financial independence"? One rule of thumb is 20x annual spending, which would be about $1 million for you. Do you have a different number in mind?

I like this new section! These will be really interesting to read.

LotharBot - I generally like the 4% rule, so that would be around $1 - $1.5M depending on what numbers I use.

IF I can continue to save around $60-70K year and IF I get returns of around 8%, I'd hit those numbers pretty quickly. If my income drops a bit and I return 0% or less for a while it's pretty far away. Either of those scenarios seem very possible, thats why I tend not to bother doing much math in this area other than basic rules of thumb.

The fact that at your age you already have your family, a good education, a good financial plan, no debt, and a wife that is way above average and already running her own business, I would say that you are in the top few percent of couples in your age group and should have a bright future and a great life ahead of you.

The biggest future unknown for all of us is "How is our country going to get back to good growth, full employment, a balanced budget, and keep Medicare and Social Security solvent in the future?"

Nobody has the answer and it's not something that individuals have any control over. However if you stay on your current track, no matter what the future brings you and your family should be doing far better than the vast majority, which is the best you can hope for.

Steve - your idea of proposing telecommuting is an interesting one to me. I may have to try that at some point. I would love to live in my hometown 2000 miles away and still be able to have my job, and my employer does have a history of allowing for that, to people who have proven they are valuable, which I believe I have. All in all, I am very impressed with your financial situation.

This is a super-useful idea, FMF, I love reading the situation of people who are about my age or perhaps a bit older. We can all learn so much from one another.

FMF - any chance of grouping these profiles together as a section on the blog?

Bad Brad --

They are all grouped -- with new ones added to the group as they post. They are under my "Reader Profiles" category which you can find here:

Steve sounds like a good example for everyone to follow in one way or another. Most of my habits mimic his and will try a few of his examples in the future. Good article!

Good job Steve.

I think these reader profiles are a great feature for the FMF site. Usually, with close friends and family we don't discuss personal finance specifics very openly. But with the anonymity of the internet it is easier to share and it's so helpful to see how people in various age groups and other parts of the country/world make financial decisions.

In particular, this post provided a really valuable suggestion for those lucky enough to have the right type of job for it: telecommuting. My spouse and I both work part time and we both telecommute. This has resulted in us only needing one car, and it has greatly reduced the amount spent on gas/maintenance, not to mention less pollution, etc. It also, as Steve demonstrates, allows you to live in a less expensive area than you otherwise might if you had to be physically in the office every day.

Great post and good luck in continuing to achieve your financial goals, Steve!

I laugh every time I see a comment on FMF about the importance of a frugal wife. Being a woman, I think it is important to have a frugal husband (I do have one). Many of the big, wasteful spenders I know are men.

Bad_Brad - Plan on how to show you can do your job without physically being there (best one being a "trial period" in which you just work from home and don't actually move) and show what's in it for your employer ("instead of a raise" that you deserved is a nice straight forward one). Then think about what you would do it you did move and eventually lost your job (would you move back? are there other opportunities in the new town, etc?). Then DO IT!

Laura - "Many of the big, wasteful spenders I know are men" - Yep, this is a huge reason why frugal wives are so important ;-) Seriously, I think we are the very stereotypical couple where I cringe at the additive effects of "shopping" and my wife has a heart attack whenever I mention the price of a single big new toy, which all helps us keep each other in check with our weaknesses.

My wife and I are both "Cheap". I like that word better than "Frugal".

Our middle child, a daughter has turned out even cheaper than us. She sometimes even buys used clothes at the Goodwill stores and even did it before she divorced her husband of 18 years who was a very wealthy attorney. I have a fabulous collection of much admired Coogi and Tundra 3-D sweaters but rather than pay $400 each for them I get them used on eBay for a max of about $30, but now I have run out of room in my closet.

Being "Cheap" and also "Rich" is when you have no problem telling anyone that your house wine is an Australian Chardonney from Lucky's that costs $2.49/bottle, with 10% off when you buy a case. We buy it because we like it very much - what other reason is there? My wife of 55 years is also a great coupon clipper. I ask her frequently if she needs an increase in the money I give her for housekeeping but she always says, "No Thanks, I'm managing very well". She also has her own pension and SS checks and her biggest expenses are cosmetics and weekly visits to the beauty salon, which I think is money very well spent indeed.

I also do all of my own yard maintenance, help my wife with the house cleaning, and the menial chores involving cooking, wash the cars, fix almost everything in the home that needs fixing, and grow all of the fruits and vegetables that grow well in our particular climate, which is quite a lot.

Laura - I agree with you. Although, thru the years, I did spend a lot. I did it on little things, my husband did it on big things. I threatened to kill him a week after he died. As I've said on here before - we didn't have a lot. I was cancelling one of his checking accounts and found the next to the last check was $1600 for a tractor, about which I knew nothing. I just said, "I'm going to kill the man." The banker looked at me funny and I had to laugh and say, "Oh yeah, he's already dead."

And before you think I'm awful and cringe like the banker did, I was married to the man for over 44 years and I found that his weird sense of humor had rubbed off on me. I miss that a lot, but our kids also took after him and are very nutty funny. Also, I found that I still had the tractor and sold it for $100 less than he paid for it. But, as we had our own spending money for such things, it was 100% profit to me.


Do you ever regret not working for a big law firm? It was a desire for you at one time.

If your child wanted to attend law school would you be for or against it?

Did your grow up in a larger city or rural environment? Im not in NYC but I sometimes dream about a more rural environment.

Do you think you will stop working once you reach your magic number or do you think you will continue or continue on a part time basis?

Tyler -

Do you ever regret not working for a big law firm? It was a desire for you at one time. - As a driven person that attended law school I considered that to be required for 'success'. After getting to know the big firm associates/partners and growing up a bit, I realized what I failed to acheive wouldnt have made me very happy anyway. In a big way I 'failed' in my career, which is what I think makes my financial wellness and new work horizons (its only tangentially related to law, but something I'm very good at) much more interesting. My wife and kids and community also became much more of my defining of self than my work, so I could never really regret a path that led to me working from home rather than the big law firm office.

If your child wanted to attend law school would you be for or against it? - if he had the right qualities, sure. but one of those qualities is being a better student than I (and I was fairly solid). Its pretty tough out there for those that don't graduate in the top 10% of their class right now from good schools to find any work that'll pay off what law school costs these days. But my twisting path would have been drastically different without law school, so I'd say it did work out for me. But my work did put me for years in close proximity of many bright people that were pyschologically beaten down by not "succeeding".

Did your grow up in a larger city or rural environment? Im not in NYC but I sometimes dream about a more rural environment.

Grew up rural. 18-32 in cities. Cities are great when you're young and free.

Do you think you will stop working once you reach your magic number or do you think you will continue or continue on a part time basis?

I think anyone who owns their own business knows the difficulty of answering this question. I think I'd love to be able to continue working as I'm really enjoying the new frontier of this business, but imagine I'd prefer to wind down the hours to a good balance (what is the perfect work/life balance for someone relatively young? 25 hours/wk? 10?) But the drive to make a business succeed/better/continue is one that tends to require your time whether you need 100% of the corresponding pay or not, so I don't have a grip yet on how to wind down the hours a lot without completely quitting. And I'm not interested in quitting yet, I'm feeling like I just found my place in the work realm of life. If I was still in the place I was before this business and hit the number, I'd quit in a heartbeat.

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