Extreme Saving and Early Retirement

mmm financial independence chart

Image Credit:  andhigherstill.com

Are financial freedom and financial independence still possible for me? Are they possible for you?

I’ve started thinking that once I’ve eliminated this mountain of debt, I could keep my savings rate high for a few more years to try to do some catching up on retirement savings. I know its too late to catch up to 20 lost years of compounding interest. I know that Financial Independence (complete retirement) may never be possible, but at least I could get to place of ‘Financial Freedom’ (aka ‘working retirement’) within the next 10 years.

Meaning that I’ll have to keep working after 50, but I can work where and how I want, knowing that I’ll have enough return from my investments to always have money to afford a basic place to sleep and food to eat. No staying at a terrible job out of desperation. For example, once in Financial Freedom, I could do contract work for 6 months each year and then travel and relax the other half of the year, or get a job overseas, or take a lower paying job in a cool environment with less stress, or hell, work for myself. It’s easy to get giddy at the possibilities.

What do I mean by Financial Freedom and Financial Independence? The image below shows my (over)simplified definitions.

Freedom vs independence

Image credit: doubledebtsinglewoman.com

 Image term definition: * FU Fund = F@%% You! Fund – This is the money that you keep in savings to protect you if your good working environment suddenly becomes toxic/unstable/etc., and you have to leave before lining up another job.

Want to learn more about extreme saving and early retirement?  Two of the best known sources on this topic are Mr. Money Mustache and Jacob @ Early Retirement Extreme. Both of these men ‘retired’ in their early thirties as a result of living on little and saving a lot.

Mr. Money Mustache:

The Shockingly Simple Math Behind Early Retirement

Getting Rich from Zero to Hero in One Blog Post 

How I Retired at 32 (Yahoo Finance Article)

Jacob @ Early Retirement Extreme

 How I became financially independent in 5 years

How I live on $7,000 per year

As you can tell, Jacob is the more extreme of the two. Both of them have great information-packed sites including forums and other resources.

Could I save 75% net income for 7 years to reach Financial Freedom?  I’ve seen this table in a few places online, so I’ve re-created it here.

Retirement Chart

At this savings rate, I could be out of debt in 3 years, and ‘working retired’ (financial freedom) 7 years after that at 50 years old. Wow!  Is this even possible for me? Right now my living expenses account for about 23% of my net income per month for a 77% savings rate. Yes, it is possible with sacrifice. Is this reasonable for me over the long-term (several years)? Hmmm.

Therein lies the rub. At this rate I don’t know if I will last in this career for 10 years. I don’t even know if I’ll last in this job for another year. The last few months have been quite stressful. I don’t know what the future holds. Even so, it’s still a goal to aim for and food for thought.
Anyone else consider extreme saving for early retirement?

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

Renting a New Room and Writing a New Budget

rent-room

(This is not a picture of my new room. My room will not be as nice as this, but it’s somewhat similar.)

As you may know from my past posts, I have been sharing (one roommate) an overpriced apartment for the past year. One of my goals for 2014 was to find a cheaper and cleaner place to live once my lease ended.  Well, the good news is that I have! I found a room on Craigslist a week or so ago that I went to see.

It was not love at first sight.  The picture in the ad left much to be desired, but the rent was affordable so I had to at least check it out. It is  a few towns over from where I live now.  I decided to walk there from the public transit station along the busy main street. It was unusually hot that day and there were a couple of  points where I thought I’d miscalculated the distance on the map and wanted to turn around and go back home, but I didn’t and eventually found the place.

There are three roommates, all women in 40s/50s, pleasant, so that may be a positive change. The room, like the house, was small, old, and a little dark, but neat. At first I didn’t like it at all, but the more I kept thinking about it, the more it made sense to rent the room.

purple-flowers
Image credit: photographymad.com

I went back a few days later to drop off the deposit, sign the lease and see the room again. Talk about a big difference! I took a different route to get there by walking along a green walking and biking path that I’d learned about thanks to Google Maps. It was cool, breezy, and calm. I got there before I knew it, and realized that the house is within a few blocks of a small public library (win!), a popular local natural grocery store (big win!) and a small gym.

One of my long-standing goals is to find a way to get in shape. For the first time in my life I have developed the dreaded muffin top. My skin, which was never clear to begin with, has gone completely to crap, and I have the ironically named ‘laugh lines’ exploding all over my face.  Why? It’s not from laughing, I assure you. I’ve been stressed out to the point of burnout over the past year.

I’m hoping that being near a good grocery store and a running path will make it easier for me to make some much needed health improvements.  I don’t know if I’ll spend money to go to a gym, but if I can at least start running that’s half of the first battle. Anyway, as I said, what a difference a few days made. I’m glad that I didn’t pass this place by because of the Craigslist picture. I’m glad I didn’t turn around on my way to see it that first day. I can make this room work. As long as its  safe, clean, and bug free, I’ll be fine.

stack-of-money
Image credit: stackthatmoney

I’m mostly excited about the rent. Did I say it was affordable? It is only $500 /month INCLUDING all utilities and wi-fi!!

Depending on where you live, $500 per month may not seem special, but where I live now, rent that low is RARE to find. So my housing costs will drop from $1500 /mo. to  $500/ mo. for a $1000 savings each month! I can’t wait to start throwing all of it towards this credit card debt. With this housing shift, I will be back on track to kill this credit card debt entirely this year!

I won’t be living high on the hog, or even low on the hog. You all know I’d MUCH rather have my own place, but by doing this I’ll have less and less debt to stress out over. I hope to be in the room as little as possible and spend more time outside for once, so that’s another goal.

After this credit card debt is gone, I’ll reformulate my basic budget

 MY AUG – DEC. 2014 BASIC BUDGET

Q4 2014 Budget

Yeah, that phone charge is out of control. I felt like I had to go unlimited because I currently work from home 2 days per week and with all the conference call meetings i’m on everyday – I kept running out of minutes and getting slammed with extra charges.  (I don’t get a company phone.) I will be looking into how to reduce this.

I really hope this new room works out for me and I can stay for a while. This may be the best shot that I have for while to cut down this debt.  I’m finally getting back on track to follow my own advice.

Cutting down on housing and transportation expenses are the quickest ways to save the most money. If you’re thinking about taking the leap yourself…

Do it  credit - thetaline dot org
Image Credit: thetaline.org

“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)

Breaking All the Rules – Failing My Financial Goals

Breaking_The_Rules

Over the past month I have made big changes in my life. I have moved to a new state and started work at a new job.  After I got and accepted the official offer, I packed up and flew out of town less than a week later to no fanfare.  I never heard anything from my former co-workers and they won’t be hearing anything from me. Not because I’m mean, but because I’m embarrassed about how my time there ended. It’s obvious that they don’t miss me anyway.  I was miserable there for those last few months before I got axed. It was time to move on. So one quiet morning, one of my roommates drove me to the airport, helped me get my luggage on the airport curb, gave me a hug and wished me good luck.

When I arrived in the new city all alone, I had temporary lodging that I booked online.  I had no housing arranged. It is impossible to find a place to live remotely via Craigslist. I figured that 10 days would be enough time to find a cheap room to rent. Boy was I wrong. What resulted was a cascade of financial rule breaking that has set me back at least one year in my debt payoff goals.

I’ll break down just some of what happened. I am not proud of this, but am blogging it as a learning lesson of some kind.

1. FIND CHEAP HOUSING =  FAIL

My main goal was to find a cheap place to stay here.  The housing market here turned out to be much, much more competitive than I thought it would be. While in temporary housing, I lived on Craigslist from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep. After becoming used to paying $425 per month in rent in my low cost of living pacific northwest suburb, I wanted to find a place in this new high cost of living California city for between $500 – $800 per month.  For the area, this is very low, but possible. But doing so was not possible for me, at least not in the time I had allotted to look. In that price range, lessors were flooded with people replying to their ads. Most ads that I answered, I never heard back from. For the ones that I did get to see, most were in not safe neighborhoods or were disgusting. I wish I could have taken pictures to show you some things that I saw.

There were a two places that were very nice and with a good price.  I really wanted them. Unfortunately, so did  50+ other people. When I went to see one of the places, she said that I was the 10th person she’d seen that day. I didn’t audition well enough and was not selected for those two places. By this point I was desperate. I was in temporary housing and burning through $75+ a day. Unsafe areas and disgusting places were out because my health and safety come first. I was exhausted and frustrated. I had to go up in rent.

Long story short, I am now living in a two bedroom apartment with a roommate that I found on Craigslist. I am paying over $1,400+ per month. This is high; even for this area. I do admit that the location is killer (near public transit for work etc.), however this expense has all but destroyed my anticipated budget.

burning-money (1)

2. NO MORE FURNITURE = FAIL

Now with this apartment, I needed furniture for my bedroom.  I plan to be here for almost a year, so it became apparent that I would need to get a bed, dresser, table and chair, which I did. $$

3.  NO USELESS SPENDING = FAIL

While I was at it, I lost my mind and bought a new 32″ television. Yes. I know. I don’t know what I was thinking. Although cable is included in the rent, I didn’t by it for that. I bought it to watch Netflix, which I reactivated. $.  I also bought a monthly gym membership. Granted the gym is actually needed to improve my increasing health issues, but it is money. Oh, wait, it gets worse!

evil-credit-card-companies

4. NO CREDIT CARD = FAIL

Yes! I charged most of these things on my credit card; the card that I vowed I would never touch again. I had some rationalization about wanting to keep as much cash in my bank account as possible until I started getting paychecks.

5. NO ADDITIONAL CREDIT = FAIL (AND WIN!)

At my new job I am required to have a corporate credit card for work expenses, I have that in my name although my employer will reimburse expenses. I didn’t have a choice on that one.

In addition to that I have opened up two new credit cards. Now don’t faint, I did NOT open them up to spend more money.
I opened them because with my new increase in income, I am now finally eligible for 0% promotional APRs for balance transfers. So I am transferring all my Citibank debt at 19.99% interest over to these two cards which have 0% interest for 12-15 months. This will save me from over $400 per month in interest payments.  I hate having more credit cards to deal with, but once the promo rates on these cards end, I will close them. The money that I save will let me get some traction on my debt.

6. BUDGET FORECASTING = FAIL

This job pays a lot more than the job I was fired from – over $25,000 more. Sounds great right?!  Well, not so fast.

First, that $25,000 will be subject to various tax withholdings totaling about 35%.  So that money is gone off the top.  That leaves $16,250.  That still sounds great right?  Well, the rent I have now is $1000 more per month than I had in my old town.  Then, there are the $200 per mo transit pass and $100+ – $200+ per month for  health insurance. My last employer paid for all of our health insurance premiums. I was shocked to find out that I have to pay for that now out of pocket.

This is indeed a high cost of living area. All this means that painfully little of all that extra money will go towards debt, at least for one year. When my lease is up I will have more time to look for a reasonably priced living arrangement. Let that be a lesson to anyone reading this. Do a real world cost calculation when evaluating a higher salary.

I am still working my intermittent online job, but it can be very time consuming for the amount of money that I get paid. I want to quit it, but I can’t. I need that extra money to go towards the debt, at least until this credit card debt is paid off.

Injured Piggy Bank WIth Crutches

NEXT STEPS

Once I get my first paycheck, I’ll have a better sense of what I will have to work with. That was just some of what I’ve been dealing with for the past month.  More will follow.  This should be interesting.

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“Debtor’s prison is real, and opportunity cost is a bitch.” (DDSW)