The Rent vs Buy Argument

With my whole mold dilemma going on it has me revisiting the idea of buying.

I’ve been in the real estate business for about seven years now doing mainly rentals and I’ve always thought that buying and renting are personal decisions. For the most part they are, but with everything happening in my life right now, I’m leaning towards buying.

I’d say it’s also heavily dependent on your financial situation. For some, renting is the only option.

Here Are The Benefits Of Renting.

1)It’s Flexible.

I like the idea of having a lease that’s short term. Either 6 months, 1 year or 2 years, it’s nice to know that you’re not fully committed to a property. I can leave at the end of my lease if I’m unhappy or if it becomes too expensive. You can usually leave mid-lease if you’re able to find a takeover tenant that qualifies. Overall, I believe that the flexibility is great for people who travel for their job, relocate or need something that offers financial flexibility. (Example: if you work on commission and earnings change year to year)

2)Initial Costs Are Low.

Most of the time you can find an apartment without a broker by contacting the property management directly. Websites like Apartments.com, Zillow and Trulia make this possible.

Even if you have to pay a brokers fee, it’s usually no more than 1 months rent. Up front fees include security deposit which could be as low as $500 to 2+ months of rent.

Compare that to your closing costs which are 2%-5% of a homes value plus a 20% down payment! Not everyone has that kind of money available.

3) Allows You To Stay Liquid.

And that brings me to my next point, if you’re you’re able to put together a down payment and closing costs, that means you have the financial opportunity to pursue other investments.

Generally it’s said that a home isn’t a good investment. The only value you really get is a roof over your head at a somewhat stable cost. It gains an average of 4-6% value each year depending on your location and that’s with inflation plus the updates you’ll need to put into it. Compare that to the stock market, the Dow Jones historically has gained 8-9% each year. So stock would be a better return but is more volatile than buying a home.

Pitfalls To Renting

1) Neighbors

Generally, you’re not in control of who your neighbors are and they are a lot closer to you when you’re renting. Renters usually are in apartment buildings where neighbors are sharing walls and tight living quarters. If you buy, you can choose the neighborhood and even a property that is more isolated with less risk of a nuisance neighbor.

2) Absentee Landlord.

The owner of a rental is obligated to make the apartment habitable and make reasonable repairs to the apartment. Somehow that doesn’t motivate some management companies to act correctly and do basic work like fixing leaky pipes or sealing drafty windows. I would say most landlords, even those with massive wealth, would rather wait for the attorney letter demanding repairs than make major repairs of their own free will. Repairs tend to cut into their profit and they hate that.

The Benefits To Buying

1) Tax Incentives

The tax incentives for buying a home and getting a mortgage are pretty nice. It’s almost like a rebate on part of your purchase, that’s how good of an incentive it is. You can write off your closing costs, mortgage interest, and any major repairs on your house. My dad once told me his housing tax incentive was equivalent to a $6000 tax credit.

It’s also a great way to shield your income from tax obligations if you’re in a higher tax bracket.

2) Control Over The Property

As I learned with my whole mold situation, I have no control over my environment as a renter. Mold is literally growing underneath my floorboards and I had no idea and no control. When issues arise, the landlord can choose how they want to fix problems and sometimes they go for the quick fix.

By owning a home, you have complete control over the property. And can choose the best and most efficient option to repair. You can do your own repairs, if you’re skilled enough, and you can make changes to the finishes as you wish.

3) Building Equity

Like I mentioned before, buying a home isn’t the best option for an investment when you’re looking for a high return but you’re still building equity and personal wealth by paying off the principle of your mortgage.

There is some flexibility if you want to increase your liquidity for investments or capital ventures but they involve more risk. Once you’ve paid a significant enough percentage of your principal balance, you can apply to refinance and get a personal loan, apply for a line of credit against your home or for a second mortgage. This is a bit more risk, since defaulting could result in foreclosure, but this allows banks to lend money to you at a better and lower interest rate.

Pitfalls To Buying.

1) Fluctuating Costs

The nice thing about renting is that you always know what your rent is going to be. It’s not a surprise and any repairs that need to be done, the landlord is supposed to be able to fix. Housing costs for a renter should remain stable.

Compare that to a home, which depending on the condition you bought it in, may have some major renovation costs down the road.

My parents have owned their house since 1991 and I’ve watched them pour money into it like it was a bottomless pit. Over the 30 years they’ve owned their home they’ve done a bathroom renovation, built a bathroom out, windows replacements, insulation installments, kitchen demolition and renovation, roof work, landscaping each summer, boiler replacement, basement refinishing, installed backyard and front yard pavers, tree removal, central air installation and bought new laundry appliances. This is an exhaustive list.

After all that work, I don’t feel like my parents came out with much of a profit. There were definitely months where they had to go into debt or take loans to make these payments. They bought their home in 1991 for $190K and it’s probably worth $450-500K at this point. But with 30 years of inflation and renovation costs, it’s not a particularly great deal.

2) Less Flexibility

Because the initial costs to buy and sell a home are so high, including closing costs and broker fees, buying a home is impractical if you plan to move within 5 years.

A home is more of a long term investment just to break even with the costs.

If you’re a person that’s constantly relocating or unsure of where you’ll be in 5 years, renting is a better option.

———————–

Overall, for me the choice seems to be leaning towards buying. The uncertainty of renting is starting to wear on me.

Buying is one the biggest financial decisions of your life so take your time and weigh all the options.

Here’s a great buy versus rent calculator. You can find out which is a financially better option. I’ve always used it to consider whether my apartment was a good deal.

Happy real estate shopping! ūüôā

How To Live With Student Loans & Pay Them Off Faster

Hello my name is.

I have major student loan regret. ¬†I’m not going to lie, looking back, I was not well educated on how loans worked. ¬†I didn’t understand the financial repercussions of signing on for those loans. ¬†In my mind, they were a necessary part of getting an education. I was a person that needed a lot of student loan debt help.

Actually, everyone was getting loans, so to me it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary.

I didn’t understand how much I had until graduated undergrad with about $20K in loans. ¬†At the time, that seamed like a behemoth amount. ¬†But it would only grow as I went off and took a risk going to law school for 1 year.¬†By the end of that year, I finished with 49K worth of loans.

Still, I was in denial of how much in loans I owed.  I paid off a little here and there and sat on some unused loan money for a few years, while I was trying to build a safety net of emergency funds.

From the age of 18-24, I was not smart with money.

From 2011-2014, I was making small $200-$400 payments, it wasn’t until 2015 I realized I couldn’t forebear any longer and made my mind up to commit to the 10 year payment plan. ¬†By that time, my debt had ballooned to nearly $60K. Mind you, the student loan payment for a 10 year payment plan for the average overall student loan of $25K is $280.

Until now I’m still paying a minimum of $871 towards my principle and interest. ¬†But I’m working towards pushing and paying off my loans in bulk. ¬†Earlier this year I paid off a $10K loan in full!

I’m lucky, I’m at $24K-25K in remaining debt, down more than half after deciding to get real about my student loan debt. ¬†And in 3 more years, if not two, it will be completely gone.

Here are some tips to live with student loan debt. ¬†Sometimes it’s inevitable to have to take out loans but we can at least minimize the shortfalls and reduce college debt.

  1. Pay Off Your Loans While You’re In School:

I had these stupid minimum wage jobs that brought in a couple hundred here and there. If I put at least 150 a month towards my loans, starting day 1, do you know how much of a dent that would have made in principle and future interest? ¬†Whoosh, I don’t even want to think about it. Probably closer to 10K but I’m here not to regret and feel sorry for myself but to hopefully wake up a few other people who are still in dreamland about their loans!

2. Stop pretending you’re loans aren’t that bad.

Whether you have $1000 in loans or $200K in loans, you need to face them as soon as you’re financially able to. ¬†Make a plan on how to pay or at least minimize your loans.

My sister is a great example of understanding how deep of shit she was in. ¬†She went to two Ivy League Schools, Cornell for Undergrad and Columbia for Grad. ¬†She was a smarty pants in many ways, and got a practical degree in engineering. ¬†Still, her $70K salary doesn’t seem like enough to pay off her $125K in student loans from 6 years of Ivy education.

She was smart in the sense she worked during those years and put whatever she could working paid internships and hosting at restaurants towards her loans.  She saved herself thousands by doing that.

Though she makes a decent salary, she still lives below her means and drops 2K a month towards her loans. ¬†That bad boy is going to be paid off in 5-6 years. ¬†Considering the size of the loan, that’s incredible!

3. For Godsake, go to college for something practical!

I had a friend that started for speech pathology in college and spent two years pursuing that. Then she changed direction and decided to do performing arts, even though our school wasn’t a performing arts school. ¬†She then transferred to another private college, lived on their Manhattan campus and finished her schooling there. ¬†She finished with a liberal arts degree, because the other school she transferred to wasn’t a performing arts school either.

She worked a few years, then decided to go back to school for teaching.  She went back for another 3 years of undergrad or grad and is finally a teacher.

But OMG she is in too much debt.  Nearly $200K worth of debt with only a $50K salary?  Like how was this ever going to work for her? What was she aiming to do with all these changes and all these expenditures?

My friend is just one gleaming example of all the people I know who weren’t practical in choosing or at least funding their degrees. ¬†I have nothing against less practical degrees like art, liberal arts, and philosophy. ¬†But did she really need to spend $200K to get that? ¬†Wouldn’t it have been better for her to just go to a community college first and then transfer?

I’m not perfect and I’m one of those people who didn’t think about the practical nature of my degree, Legal Studies. ¬†But I made the most of it and got my real estate license through the course I took.. ¬†I realized that I couldn’t keep running from the hardness of finding a path and managed to carve one out through an opportunity provided from my education.

4. Live Frugally to Save Even Move Towards Loans

For me living very frugally felt like punishment.

“I can’t afford certain things because I made this bad choice and collected all these loans.”

Still to this day, I struggle with frugal living BUT you can take small steps to at least spend your money wiser.

I’ve stopped buying coffee outside like at Starbucks or DD. $1.95 3X a week for a cup of coffee adds up. ¬†Over a year, that’s exactly $304 a year just on coffee. ¬†With that money, you can buy a $30 coffee maker and 2 years worth of coffee grinds! ¬†It just didn’t make sense.

I stopped buying frivolous things like random makeup and clothes to build a wardrobe that was already big enough. ¬†I stopped going out to drinks on every occasion. ¬†My socializing cut back a little bit, which kind of sucked. ¬†But I invested in spending time with people who didn’t need to spend money to have fun, like my parents and sisters.

Cutting the non essentials was a hard change, but putting it towards my student loans was liberating.

5. Work a side hustle

I’ve never had a chance to tackle this but I would encourage this in anyone who has the free time or talent.

Taking on a 2nd job like Uber or working at the pizza place down the street can definitely help you.

Imagine taking on a part time holiday position on top of your 9-5 full time job.  If you earn an additional $600 a month, you can put all of that towards your loans on top of the payments you usually make.

This can help you make a nice dent in your loans and help you pay off your loans faster. I’ve heard of people paying off their large five figure loans in just a few years with this method. ¬†Combine that with all the other methods we just discussed and that could be the way out of debt.

________________________________

Overall, I hope this post has helped you to realize that even though we had to take these godforsaken loans to get ahead, there’s no reason why these loans should keep us behind financially.

Wishing you all prosperity and financial wellness ūüôā

 

 

Marriage, Finances And Money: The Benefits And Pitfalls

The bride counts the money. Wedding expenses. Bride with a piggy bank

When we think of marriage, we think of wedding bells and dresses, flower girls and ring bearers, and a couple expressing their everlasting love to one another.

No party is as fun as a wedding and very few life experiences can alter your life in such a meaningful way.

I’ve written a few posts on love and relationships but I don’t think I need to remind anyone that there is a financial consequence to marriage. ¬† In fact, I think most of us consider FIRST the tangible benefits of being with a partner more than the intangible aspects like character, honesty, integrity etc.

A perfect relationship is a balance of the two. A perfect compromise of tangible and intangible benefits. I’m going to talk about the financial pitfalls and benefits that come from marriage. ¬†In this post, I’ve discussed some of the more intangible benefits. ¬†Sometimes money and relationships can mix like oil and water.

Benefits:

1. Sharing expenses in a relationship and couple finances:

Definitely something couples discuss when moving in together but when married, you need to take it to the next level. It goes beyond utilities, rent and groceries. It’s time to talk about retirement, spending habits, saving and buying a house.

Two people are better than one in this type of division.

To give you an example, imagine this scenario:

Jim lives on his own, he rents a $1400 one bedroom right outside of NYC. He has one car. He pays $300 between payments and insurance. Groceries cost him about $200 a month but he orders out a lot so it adds up to an additional $200. His utilities for electric and internet cable are $150. On the weekends, he likes going out to dinner/drinks with friends. His entertainment spends are around $300-$400 a month.

Jim works as a IT tech earning 75K annually or $6250 monthly. After taxes he brings home $4275.

Take home income

$4275

Minus

Expenses

-$1400 apartment

-$300 Car

-$400 Food

-$150 Utilities

-$400 entertainment

-$600 Misc.

Net savings to go toward personal savings, 401K and Medical savings accounts.

$1175

*This is a very simplified budget but you get the picture.

Now let’s look at Jane and Sam.

They are newly married. Jane works as a teacher and makes 40K. Sam works in construction and makes 60K between hourly and overtime. They live in the same apartment building as Jim and pay 1400 for rent. Actually their spending is almost identical. They spend 600 on food, share a car for $400, $150 on utilities and spend 600 on entertainment and $600 on misc.

Together they bring in $8333, after taxes it’s an estimated $5,833.

Take home pay

$5833

Expenses

-$1400 apartment

-$400 Car

-$600 Food

-$150 Utilities

-$600 entertainment

-$600 Misc.

Net Savings for personal savings, retirement and medical savings:

$2083 or $1041 per person.

The point of this example is that even though Jane and Sam both make less then Jim, their still able to save roughly at the same rate each because they are pooling together for their major expenses and budgeting as a couple.  This is one of the best financial things to consider when either moving in or marrying.  The couples budget is everything and couples who are able to leverage their joint spending will come out on top in the long run.

2. Sharing Manpower.

They say two people are better than one.  And I would say that when it comes to domestic tasks, couples find that they are able to get more free time by splitting it up.

I’m not sure this is the biggest financial benefit to being married but it can definitely pinch a few pennies and save a lot of hours. ¬†Having an extra pair of hands ¬†for 1) doing laundry, 2) cleaning, 4) grocery shopping, 5) cooking meals for the week, 6) bargain shopping can add up to a lot of savings.

A single person only has so many hours available them, they have to either do these tasks themselves and lose some free time or pay a 3rd party to handle these tasks like a housekeeper, or eating out/ordering in, wash/fold services, and food delivery like FreshDirect.  They can either keep their free time to themselves to do other endeavors or pay for these conveniences.

3. Spousal Employment Benefits.

One of the biggest is insurance. ¬†You can’t really quantify how important insurance is until you don’t have a job that offers it to you. ¬†Then you’re either paying hundreds out of pocket just to get simple blood work done or you’re paying $500+ premium for a private insurance for married couples that still has a large deductible or copay.

One benefit of being married is that health insurance for married couples is generally cheaper than paying health insurance for two single people.

Being able to add a spouse to your work insurance is amazing and something only allowed for immediate family members/dependents by most insurance carriers.

For my Husband and I, we’ve always had insurance that covered us through work. ¬†But there was this one year that we had to go without and that was the sketchiest year I ever went through. ¬†We never went to see the doctor because it was too expensive and we prayed neither of us were ever involved in an accident because how could we ever pay?

My job also has some married life insurance benefits that if I die, K get’s X amount and if K dies I can get X amount. ¬†It’s comforting to know that we’ll have some fall back if (God Forbid) either of us ever pass away.

Pittfalls

1) Spending habits

Sometimes people can get so caught up in the love and the connection they have for the other person, that looking at habits like spending can seem like a non-issue.

You might look at someone who never seems to wear the same piece of clothing twice and never wonder how they can afford to such a large wardrobe.

You might see someone drive an Audi and not realize that their car payments are near $500 a month and it’s a squeeze with all their other expenses.

It’s not until YOUR money is commingled with your partner’s that you start to realize how small spending habits can add up to big expenditures.

For a long time my husband liked to play poker with his friends. He became so good his friends stopped playing with him. It was always, “maybe next time.” They were scared to lose money to him. ¬†Eventually he joined some poker clubs in the city and played there once or twice a year. Then he found some casinos near us that offered poker comps and he would go occasionally there too. He loved the game of poker but it was bleeding us $500-$1000 every time he lost.

Thankfully he doesn’t play anymore, we had a pretty serious conversation about his gambling and now I have complete control over the cash. But it just goes to show how a small insignificant habit can turn into a ravenous expense.

The same story could be told with shopping addicts or forever entrepreneurs who can never seem to get their business off the ground.

The solution is to think long range about how your finances with your partner would work and weeding out financially incompatible partners out. In my case, I nipped out early what was potentially a serious gambling addiction.

I would recommend financial planning for couples before getting married. ¬†Sometimes when things feel out of control, it’s great to consider a financial planner for financial help with married couples.

Expensive Wedding and Even More Expensive Divorces

“My husband and I, fight over money.”

People spend an average of $27,000 on a wedding. ¬†Those are pretty expensive parties. ¬†I don’t have anything against big fancy parties to celebrate the joining of a couple but when we start to look at divorce rates, those big weddings start to look like a waste. ¬†It’s estimated that nearly 40%-50% of marriages end in divorce. ¬†According to an article written by CNN, couples that spent more than $20K had a divorce rate of 1.6X more than those who spent only $5K-$10K.

In some ways marriage is a crapshoot, you can never know if some devastating skeleton is going to come out of your partner’s closet and change your whole relationship with them.

It’s when you consider that the average divorce costs $15K, marriages have a risk of being a financial hole once everything is said and done.

Then Add Children and Divorce

If your divorce included children, then there will likely be one party that pays child support.  There will still be an increase in housing costs because the divorced couple will need separate places for themselves and for their children.

It can be very costly and difficult to manage your time and finances when expenses increase and resources are nearly cut in half.

Unfortunately in some cases, divorce is the only option for two people who turn out to be incompatible to stay sane and happy.  But children can definitely make divorce messier and more expensive.

I’m not writing this section to make children sound like a burden but for the most part, nobody has children to make a profit. ¬†They have children for the generational and personal wealth that it brings to a family. ¬†We grow our family to keep tradition and create memories.

Nothing brings a family together like children, but nothing makes it harder to separate and divorce cheaply than children.


 

I would say marriage comes with a lot of different types of benefits but something we should never take our eye off of is the financial outcomes that can result from saying “I Do.” ¬†Ignoring that important fact can lead to marriage troubles over money.

On the other hand, marriage can be a blessing that can pay itself back in ways that can’t even be accounted for. ¬†For many, the risk is worth taking.

I hope you read this with hope in your heart and practicality in your mind.

Feel free to read my other relationship posts:

The Biggest Red Flags In A Relationship

Why Dating Culture Doesn’t Work Towards Marriage

Dear Single Friends, This Is Why You Are Still Single. Love, Your Married Friend.

I Can’t Afford To Retire: Essential Tips On Filling The Gap

AdobeStock_192798999.jpeg

I was on Reddit r/PersonalFinance last week, I was just browsing when I came across this  quote:

“There’s no insurance, no loans for retirement.”

If you’re short on cash to retire, well then you’re just SOL. ¬†Straight up, prepare to be homeless if you don’t have family to help you out or are unable to continue working through your 60s and 70s. ¬†It’s a rude awakening for so many of our elderly population. ¬†I see older homeless people all the time and I wonder, “Why???”

When I think of my own retirement, I think about living in Florida, poolside somewhere in some assisted living luxury community. ¬†I don’t think about the reality of just trying to keep my food costs down so I can pay the taxes on my house and not end up homeless.

The truth is that so many American families are living hand to mouth, check to check, that they are forced to decide between eating and saving for the future.  Where is the extra disposable income they can put in their 401K or IRA?

Here are some things to consider when trying to build a retirement fund.

Social Security Will Not Be There:

There are still some people holding on to the idea that Social Security will be enough. STOP IT. ¬†There is not enough social security. ¬†It is a Ponzi scheme. ¬†And to be honest, to be a real conspiracist, Social Security’s main role is no longer to provide financial support for the elderly and other people unable to provide for themselves. ¬†I mean, maybe that was never the purpose. ¬†Social Security and their designated numbers are a means to track you for tax collection purpose.

I work with many elderly people to get them apartments and when I see their social security statements, I can’t even consider that income for the purpose of qualifying them for the apartments. ¬†It’s a pitiful amount.

The other day my client Jenn had 1.4M between annuities, 401K and other investments. ¬†She was sharp, I could tell she had been working her whole life. ¬†She was earning $819 dollars a month from Social Security! ¬†Try living in NYC with $819 a month, you wouldn’t last a week! ¬†This is someone who probably paid into Social Security $100K+ over her lifetime and now when its time to collect she’s getting $819 a month? Something isn’t adding up…

Start Early.

Everyone tells you this but OMG this is the best and greatest financial advice anyone can give you. ¬†At 18, nobody’s really thinking about their retirement. ¬†They’re thinking about the future, “what career path will I choose, what will I major in at school?” But even putting $100 a month towards your retirement is a HUGE jump start.

I played around with a retirement calculator and here’s what I found:

When I was 18, I was working a shit job selling pretzels at Auntie Annes, working minimum wage. ¬†I was lucky if I earned as little as 600-700 a month in pocket money. ¬†If I started putting $100 a month into an IRA or 401K from the age of 18- 67, ¬†I would have roughly $500K saved by the time I’m ready to retire. ¬†And that’s ASSUMING, I don’t increase my contributions as my earnings increase over the years. ¬†Not enough to retire. ¬†But not a bad figure to start with.

Now let’s consider someone a little older:

Life got me good and I had all these expenses, children, a mortgage, an expensive marriage, an even more expensive divorce. ¬†I wasn’t able to get it together until I’m 40 to start saving for retirement. ¬†I would have to contribute $500 a month at the age of 40-67 in order to have roughly $500K saved by the time I’m ready to retire. ¬†But that’s still not enough to retire with and at 40, time is no longer on my side. ¬†I’ll need to double down and make monthly payments of $1100. ¬†That’s the only way I can save enough so I have at least 1M available when I want to retire at 67. ¬†I still don’t think that’s enough to retire on but you can work with that.

Moral of the story: If you’re able to start young (most people can) and save a modicum amount, you are still in a much better position than someone who is older and needs to play catch up. ¬†Compound interest is a bitch like that.

Get a Side Hustle:

Money doesn’t grow on trees. ¬†If you don’t have the money now to set aside for retirement, when will you?

“If you always do what you did, you’ll always get what you got.”

In this type of scenario, somethings gotta give. ¬†You’ll need an additional source of income. ¬†A lot of people reading this now are going to start shaking their heads thinking, “I don’t have money and I don’t have time.”

Well, make time because old age don’t feel so good when you’re broke. ¬†The time to make a move is when you’re young and capable. ¬†It might be hard, it might be challenging but side money is the kind of money you can put ASIDE for retirement.

Here are some ideas on low cost ways to make money:

  • Uber- Drive and get paid. ¬†You already have your own car so thats already taken care of. ¬†Keep track to mileage, maintenance and gas costs. ¬†Hustle for tips.
  • Work a 2nd job. ¬†Any job. ¬†Work at the McDonalds across the street. ¬†Let your kids hang in the seating area quietly if there’s no one to watch them. ¬†Don’t worry if you get fired, it’s only a side job, so speak up for what you need and hustle until it works ¬†for you.
  • Blog and Youtube- this is actually a very long process to build income off of. ¬†I would only recommend this if you have the time and the means to do this.

Mortgage vs Retirement vs Kids College

The truth that none of the other retirement gurus really are able to touch on is that  99% of us will only be able to makes so much money in our life time.  Most of us are on a fixed income of salary and paying off fixed expenses.

A lot of us are still paying off student loans, we have mortgages, car payments, insurance costs and the list goes on and on.  This is just a reality for most Americans.  There might be some left over to save, but is it enough?

Probably not.

In this case it’s important to prioritize the most important needs first.

Mortgage- when deciding to buy a house, there are so many factors to consider. I’m not going to go into buying vs renting, that’s for another post, but here are my top tips on how to make sure the mortgage burden does not overtake the other financial responsibilities.

  • Live in the cheapest, smallest apartment you can comfortably manage. Of course you wanted the nicer and bigger house in the better neighborhood but you need to really consider your reasons for wanting that home. ¬†Is it ego? ¬†Is it an expectation you had for yourself? ¬†Is it maintaining the lifestyle you had as a child? ¬†It’s time to reconsider and evaluate your expectations. Times have changed, money don’t flow like it used to.
  • Only consider a more expensive neighborhood if it means a better school district for your children. ¬†And even then, consider a cheaper neighborhood with the option of a good private school. ¬†Compare the costs.
  • Small is good. ¬†You can dress up small. ¬†Trust me, I’m a real estate agent in Manhattan. ¬†There’s no such thing as too small. ¬†I’ve actually seen some charming 400sqft studios! ¬†But more importantly, small is cheap. ¬†You don’t need the extra bathroom, it’s just more space to clean.

Retirement: As I discussed earlier in my post, retirement is the main priority. ¬†Make it so. Focus on maintaining a retirement fund that will at least allow you to maintain the same quality of life you’re used to.

Kids College: As someone who had to spend 12+ years paying student loans, I don’t think I want my children burdened with that same issue. ¬†At the same time, I don’t think it would be fair for me to burden my children with my living costs if I don’t have adequate retirement funds. ¬†Paying for the kids colleges is the least important financial concern you should have. It’s nice if you can afford it but the kids can take out student loans or go to community colleges, there’s no loan for retirement.

————————————————

To cut to the chase retirement is something we need to think about NOW.  Pensions and social security are out the window. They can be considered supplements but not a fall back.  Make efforts to educate yourself on what you need to do to meet your financial goals.

Wishing you the best of luck!

Check out my other posts:

Flashpass to Retirement: FiRE and LeanFiRe Strategies

Why I Budget and How to Budget: Personal Finance In A Nutshell

Motivational Book Club: The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey

 

How To Get To Early Retirement: FiRE and LeanFiRe Strategies

Get to early retirement Reddit LeanFiRe
Get to early retirement Reddit LeanFiRe

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“If only I didn’t have to go back to work.” I think this WAYY to often, especially on my Sundays before I have to clock back in for my work week. I often daydream about how to get to early retirement as I surf through reddit leanFiRe strategies.

My friends say, “Alex, I think it’s time for a new job. You’re burnt out. There’s another company that can be the right fit for you.”

But I think it’s much more than that. I think I just don’t like work. I don’t like feeling obligated to go and be somewhere at a certain time. ¬†I don’t like commuting. I don’t like being on teams I didn’t choose for myself. I don’t like not being able to spend my time as I choose. And at the bottom of all those things I don’t like is the basis for a job. In college, I didn’t like not having money either so I went into the world and made a career for myself.

Sometimes I have to remind myself to grow up. ¬†Like, having a job is just part of life. A majority of our society NEEDS to work in order to put food on the table or clothes on their back. But then I started to wonder about an alternative. What if, I didn’t have to work? What would it take to live like that? Is it possible for me?

That’s when I came across FiRe or Financial Independence and Retire Early. I’ve been following Personal Finance on Reddit for a while and stumbled across the subreddit. On reddit I also found LeanFiRe strategies. It’s not just people retiring early at 50 instead of 63. It’s people retiring earlier and younger at 35 and 40! I honestly can’t look through Reddit LeanFiRe without feeling a tinge of jealousy. I really want to be those people. ¬†I want to know how to retire early. I also want to know how much I need to retire early.

The concept of FiRe goes beyond Personal Finance-which discusses getting out of debt, buying a house and paying for college, as well as other difficult financial choices that neither high school nor college ever prepared us for. FiRe is just specifically about retiring early and what it will take to get there and the kind of sacrifices you need to be willing to make.

Looking through the subreddit, I can’t help but feel…what’s the word for it? Ah yes, INADEQUATE. I feel inadequate because here are these 19 year old kids that are planning their hustle for the next 10-15 years to be totally independent off a job! At 19, I was buying Frappachino this and coach shoes that. ¬†I was twiddling away my hard earned money because, at the time, I didn’t consider my minimum wage slave money to be……real money. ¬†It was just money I was earning before I had a career; before I made a real salary. ¬†Talk about regret over missed opportunity. Regardless, now that I’m aware this is possible maybe there’s time for me to turn things around. ¬†I’m making 3-4X what I was making on minimum wage, so hopefully I didn’t miss too much of an opportunity.

Personal Finance and FiRe pretty much go hand in hand but FiRe is a long term game. Once you pay all of your debts and start really gaining wealth, FiRe commits to continuing to live a modest lifestyle until you reach your FiRe goal date. For people that are successful at FiRe, this means living at your parents home until you’re 30 or putting a $10K pay increase towards a portfolio option instead of taking a much needed vacation. It means couponing; living on a cash basis and giving up the convenience of the credit card. ¬†It sounds so simple, “Just don’t spend money? I hate spending money, I only spend money when I need to!” But DO you? Do you REALLY?? ¬†Credit cards/subscriptions, Venmo are super convenient. For credit cards, any points you earn on the card are already spent on the overspending you did due to the “convenience.” ¬†And we all like convenience. Retiring early means less convenience and less money spent on pleasures that we usually indulge in as a reward for hard work.

It takes an incredible amount of self control to retire early. Year after year, you’ll need to make sacrifices in your own indulgence, spending habits and choices. Vacation to Miami with friends? Nix that. Those really nice designer shoes? Nope. Weekly happy hour bar tabs with coworkers? ¬†Um, no. Forget about the new car lease and living without roommates. ¬†What you’re sacrificing in quality of life now, you’re planning to get back later when you’re able to retire 15-20 years early.

You’ll also need to be somewhat knowledgeable on tax laws. Should I invest in a 401K or IRA or both? What should I do after I max on my contributions? I’m about to surpass my income tax bracket, what can I do to minimize this years taxes? These are decisions you can’t just leave to the wind when planning an early retirement. Because year after year the wrong decision will cost you.

Once you start saving all this additional money, how do you optimize it to allow an early retirement? Well, that’s entirely up to you. Some people invest in individual stocks, mutual funds or rental properties, or a mix of diversified options. The choice is yours depending on the skill set you have. Some people like to park their money and not think about it again until they need it, some like to be more involved in the trades, others like the idea of home equity. Some enjoy high risk, others low risk. To make FiRe truly effective you’ll need to take some risk to optimize your hard earned money.

Now let’s talk Reddit LeanFiRe. What is that? How could FiRe get any leaner, you’re already cutting out the pleasures of life! Oh it can get leaner. ¬†Way leaner. Some of you may have read this article rolling your eyes, like “I don’t make that kind of money, Alex. I’m not overspending and there’s nowhere to cut.” Lean FiRe is early retirement for those who make an average or below average earnings. I swear, the Lean FiRe Reddit is no joke! They will make feel shame for your current lack of retirement plans. These are people making 40K -70k a year (or less!), and killing it with their retirement goals.

How do they do it? Incredible sacrifice and resourcefulness. These are people who really hate their job and are like, “Oh hell no! I can’t be doing this forever!”

I read about this one guy that ditched his car even though it was a 40 minute bike ride each way. Luckily he lived in a place where the weather was nice nearly all year round. He was saving money off of the weather! Other people are gardening and living off the literal fruits of their labor and land, thus cutting down food costs.

Then there are the people who are extreme in their housing solutions. One guy was homeless for a year! You heard that, homeless! Like, living in his car and showering at the gym while going to work every day and pretending he had a home. The moral of that story is that he really saved a lot at the time since housing is probably our largest expense. A lot of the Reddit LeanFiRe people take to frugality and minimalistic living. There was one couple that bought a Tiny Home and lived in a trailer park. Their Tiny Home cost 15k and they bought it outright, then parked their home for a couple hundred dollars a month at a trailer park. They really didn’t need to earn so much money after that.

Theres also strategy to increase their income and put that money aside for retirement purposes only. These people were resourceful with their talents and skills. ¬†They started blogging, and you-tubing to earn some extra cash. It’s a slow income stream but it’s cheap and easy to get into. Some opened etsy shops, making homemade soaps, balms, greeting cards, ornaments and whatnot. Some just did the good old fashioned way of getting a second job and driving Uber on the side.

Those Reddit subreddits really put me to shame. When I hear real life stories like that, I wonder WHY CAN’T I BE LIKE THAT?

Because I don’t want it enough. I’m not willing to sacrifice my daily pleasures or I do, and then I can’t stick with it long term. But practice makes perfect, and I’ll keep at it until I’m finally willing to make the sacrifice long term. In the meantime, I’m going to keep reading the inspirational stories FiRe and LeanFiRe have to share with me. Because with a little inspiration, who knows, maybe I’ll be able to retire early too.

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