It's a sad story. Outside of TMF boards I know maybe three couples that have their plan worked out. It amazes me. I had an eye-opening conversation...everyone else assumed that taking a loan from your 401k was normal and unavoidable. One guy was using it to pay off his vacation loan. Most of the other people were two-income couples. Even though I tried to play down what I was doing, it came out that my family (one income, six people) didn't ever borrow from the 401k, and the only reason we reduced the contribution from 10% to 8% was because of extra taxes involved in recharacterizing a regular IRA to a Roth. I didn't throw the information ou there, but I didn't lie when asked, "Do your parents help with the kids' tuition?" No, none of our parents help with tuition for the private elementary school tution. They didn't really notice that we drive a van with 135,000 miles and an 11 year old chevy sedan. They didn't notice that three of the them had April tans from a Florida golf weekend, trip to South Carolina, and a Hawaiian vacation, while I was planning a camping trip "up north" in July. They didn't notice that this was a rare lunchtime brownbag discussion because my wife and I usually didn't accompany them for their "nights on the town." Before kids, we'd all go out, but after everyone had kids, they kept it up while we didn't. [One particular shocker--"We just don't know where the money goes." "Didn't you just spend $150 for a night at a hotel in the nearby big city just to 'get away from it all?'"]
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