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My general theory is that if you earn a decent income, live frugally and invest the difference, financial independence will take care of itself over a period of two or three decades.

Thanks, Seattle. I certainly hope so. This is what we're planning for.

That approach doesn't appear to be working for you folks. Can you provide information on why not?

It is working so far. We're much better prepared than we were; we just don't know if it will come through in the end. There's a long way to go between here and FIRE. Some setbacks we started out with were: student loans (x2), car loans (x2), DH's credit card debt, partial wedding expenses (parents helped), and DH putting little into his retirement plans before 35 (I started mine at 25). We didn't buy more house than we could afford, but our payment certainly isn't small. Leaving CA isn't likely because both of our families are here, and so are most of our job opportunities. However, we might consider leaving the state if everything aligned financially so that it made sense for us.

Now, we've paid off everything but our house, we've been maxing out our retirement plans for years, and we've got additional after-tax savings as well as a separate E-Fund. We've traveled a bit, which I don't regret, but it did cost us. We've made a few larger purchases I am not thrilled about (could've spent less on our mattress, etc.), but those didn't hurt us too much. The biggest factor is that DH took a 40% cut in pay about two years ago, and his salary hasn't recovered since. (I used to think of it as a 30% or 33% cut, but that wasn't including guaranteed bonuses.) So, he's currently making what he did over 10 years ago. OUCH. We could most likely not afford our house payments on his current income alone.

With two people working for presumably a number of years, I would expect that you have the earning decently part taken care of.

DH was doing alright for awhile but is currently underemployed. I am doing all right but would love to be in a position where I didn't have to work (i.e., DH's earnings could carry us). Because of the volatile nature of... well, everything... even if DH were to get a better opportunity, I don't know if it would be wise for me to exit the workforce. In addition, some of his job opportunities are not local, and moving would be extremely tricky right now due to the state of the housing market.

Have you always lived frugally, or was there a hangover of spending and debt that had to be addressed? I could also imagine big student loans or the high price of housing causing a problem.

I have always lived frugally, but DH not as much so. We did address all student loans, car loans, and ccs, and DH soon saw the benefits of frugal choices. He does tend to be swayed by some of the fancier or higher-ticket items (we once bought more car than I was comfortable with), but for the most part we are both very good. The next car we bought was much more economical. Where we both tend to fall down is on travel (usually done w/ ff miles or points; we don't shop a lot, but we go for the activities and experiences).

I'd sure do some hard thinking about children ---- there's a decision that deserves to be made sooner rather than later!

Absolutely.

Good luck and good planning---

Thanks! --AF
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