Travel

Travel can be great…but it can also be such a pain in the butt. This past weekend Mr. SFF had a long weekend business trip planned to Florida and I got to tag along. The plan was to leave Thursday afternoon, work Friday and into Saturday if needed, then drive 3 hours to see my Memere (grandmother) for the night before flying back home in Sunday.

As we strolled in to the airport on Thursday afternoon everything seemed grand. There was literally no one in the security line, the terminal was brightly lit by sunshine, and everything we thought would go just as planned…until we sat at the end of the runway for seemingly no reason for at least 15 minutes (with no ac). This is certainly not great with only a 40 minute layover but we thought we should still have enough time since our gate was in the same terminal. Continue reading “Travel”

Loosening the Purse Strings

Since starting our journey to financial independence I have really tried to buckle down on non essential expenses.  I may have gone a little too extreme in some respects as I do of course still need to enjoy life.  A few weeks ago I posted on the Financial Independence boards of Reddit posing the question of what are others planning on retiring to.  I have this slight fear that I will be bored once I no longer have a full time job.  Some people found this question strange but being that I have a Type A personality who likes to have things neatly planned, this was an important question to me.

One of the things that I realized after reading all of the posts was that I had actually cut out some hobbies because they cost money.  One in particular is sewing.  I love being able to create things and sewing is one great outlet for this.  So this past month I decided I would loosen the purse strings a little and delve into some sewing projects.  I found a few free skirt patterns online that I liked as well as wanting to reuse a pattern for a dress I made 7 years ago.  With coupons in hand I headed over to Joann Fabrics to find some fabrics.  They had a few bins with fabrics up to 70% off so that is where I started.  I found two fabrics that would work well for two of the skirt patterns and on another sale rack I found two stretchy knit fabrics which were also on sale.    One I planned to make a colorful mini skirt and the other I planned for the dress pattern I have used before.

With a pile of fabric in hand I got to work.   Continue reading “Loosening the Purse Strings”

Fearing Older Car Repair Bills

I recently had a bit of a scare with my beloved 2007 Honda Fit.  First let me start off by saying I love my car.  I bought it when it was only a year old and never regretted it.  It has been so trustworthy and even though it has 128,000 miles on it I have had very few problems.  That was until we started to notice water INSIDE the car.  Yup, that is not supposed to happen.  And it has been a rainy spring.  So when we kept noticing water collecting in the rear passenger foot wells I called to make an appointment.

When it comes to water related issues, whether it is with a car or even a house, it can sometime be hard to diagnose.  This is due to the fact that water runs.  So you could have a problem in one spot but the water runs to a different place making it hard to find the actual culprit.

Initially we thought the water issue was due to the after market roof rack we had purchased which had damaged the seal at the top of the doors.  It turned out to be a good thing that I had to wait over a week for my appointment as one day when driving around Mr. SFF noticed a sloshing sound.  Low and behold after a little searching, he realized there was water the in rear, hiding in the compartment with the spare tire.  We then deduced that it was more likely a leak in the rear hatch and that water had sloshed into the rear passenger foot wells when going down a hill.  We removed the spare tire, tire iron and jack and pumped out this water and then had another week to evaluate.  I guess it was a good thing that it was rainy all week as we we able to note which side the water was at least running from.  We didn’t know exactly where it originated but we had at the very least narrowed things down a little.

A small puddle formed in the spare tire compartment after rain overnight.

Continue reading “Fearing Older Car Repair Bills”

Would a Shorter Work Week Do The Trick?

This whole journey towards FIRE (Financial Independence Retire Early) really has to do with changing our lifestyle and giving just just a little more time to play or do what we want instead of being stuck in the office.  Heading to the office five days a week, spending the whole time looking forward to those two days that make up the weekend, is just not a great fit for me.  Even though I get out at 4:30 every day I feel that most of the day is gone and between eating dinner and winding down for the day I don’t have enough time to do fun things.  My job is fine but I don’t love it.  And sometimes I end up mentally take the job home with me, making the day seem worse. Continue reading “Would a Shorter Work Week Do The Trick?”

Vitality – An Amazing Program!

For the past few years my employer has offered an amazing wellness program through Vitality.  Unfortunately in February my employer announced that they will no longer be offering this program after 3/31/17 because participation has been too low.  First of all, I am incredibly bummed that they are no longer going to be offering this benefit, and secondly, why were people not enrolled?!  This program was AMAZING! Continue reading “Vitality – An Amazing Program!”

Taxes: How They Have Messed Up Our Timeline

We have our tax returns prepared by an accountant every year.  I know, I know, many in the FI community do their own but with Mr. SFF being self-employed and now having two rental properties, I would just rather have someone else, who is may more knowledgeable, do the returns for us.  Last week we got the returns back and were they a doozey!  We usually try to plan our taxes so we end up pretty close to zero.  We don’t feel the need to give the government a free loan throughout the year (getting a return) but we also don’t want to write a check huge check.  But I guess 2016 was a year where we were off, by A LOT.  It was bad enough that our accountant gave us a bottle of wine.  Yup, some good old alcohol to drown out the pain.

What contributed to this big change?  First of all we purchased a new duplex in mid January of 2016 so we had just shy of a full year of rental income with this new property.  Our other duplex is owner occupied and we usually only show a couple hundred dollars of taxable income from this one so I really had no idea what to expect from this new property.   Continue reading “Taxes: How They Have Messed Up Our Timeline”

Vacation Turned Delay-cation Turned Stay-cation

Last Tuesday we were supposed to fly out to the Denver area for a combined ski trip and also to visit my sister in law, her husband and my nephews.  Even three days out from our departure date we knew that this trip wouldn’t go quite as planned.  There was a blizzard on the horizon set to arrive on Tuesday, the day of our departure.  We got a notification on Saturday that one of our flights might be a problem as we were scheduled to go through New York right in the heart of the storm.  With this advance notice we were given the option of changing our flight without incurring any change fees.  We changed our first flight to go through Detroit instead of NY and as we were set to leave at 5:45 am we figured we would be able to fly out before the storm hit.

Sleeping the night before an early morning flight never goes well but even after tossing and turning for well over an hour, we got a notification that our flight was cancelled around 11 pm.  Bummer…but at least we knew the night before so we didn’t have to make it all the way to the airport in the wee hours of the morning before finding out.  We slept in a little bit (does 7:15 count?), had breakfast, and then decided it would actually be easier to drive over to the airport and figure out our options instead of waiting on hold for hours with the airline (the hold time on Saturday was 2 hours).  This turned out to be a great decision as the airport was a ghost town.  We didn’t see a single passenger, despite there not be a flake of snow in the sky, and only a few airport employees around.  Even all the shops were closed.  Apparently only 2 flights made it out that morning before things closed down which meant we had the full attention of the counter agent.  We decided since the forecast was estimating a couple of feet of snow it would be silly to head out west to ski/ride on Wednesday, plus the likelihood of actually getting out on a flight Wednesday was not likely as the storm was set to continue well into the day.  So with our flight rescheduled to Thursday we headed home to rest after a horrible night of sleep. Continue reading “Vacation Turned Delay-cation Turned Stay-cation”

Where Will Our Retirement Income Come From?

The journey towards Financial Independence is all about saving money but what about once you hit your FI goal?  That is when things change and you go from savings mode into spend down mode.  When in the car the other day both Mr. SFF and I admitted that the thought of actually spending our hard earned money was a little terrifying.  Yup, terrifying is the word we both used.  When you are a natural saver, like both of us have been our whole lives even well before starting this journey to FI, the thought of not only stopping saving but spending that hard earned money is a completely foreign and scary prospect.  I think this is part of the reason I am overestimating how much money we will need.  But in addition to overestimating our needs we are also trying to create other income streams so that we don’t actually have to rely on just our investments.

Now I think the term “spend down” might be slightly misleading for us as ideally we don’t want the value of our investments to go down over time.  Once we hit FI we need our investments to not only keep up with inflation but also cover any unexpected costs that could come up over the decades that we will be spending in our retirement.  This is even more important for those of us who will be spending so many years out of the full time workforce.  If you retire well into you 60’s and you haven’t been diligently saving over the years then you will likely be drawing down your money but as we likely have 40 or more years in our retirement we need to make sure our investments are still growing and ensure our needs are covered.  This means either making sure we have more than enough saved in our investment accounts or create other income streams.
Continue reading “Where Will Our Retirement Income Come From?”

The Power of the “F-U Fund”

Mr. SFF calls it the “Go To Hell Fund” but I call it the “F-U Fund”.  But whatever name you use, it is basically the sum of money you have saved that gives you the power to just quit your job at any point, usually when you get fed up with one thing or another, without having to stress about buying groceries or paying your mortgage.  FI is pretty much a giant F-U fund as it means you don’t ever have to find another job but the F-U Fund often starts with having just enough money to give you the power to quit your job at any moment and survive without rushing into another horrible or unsatisfying job.   Continue reading “The Power of the “F-U Fund””

2016 Savings Review

I will admit that I get excited about this post and, and more specifically the data it contains, every year.  This is the one time where I really get to look at all of our information, jointly as a couple, rather than just my income and savings.  As Mr. SFF and I keep separate checking accounts and credit cards so I don’t see the whole picture until I make him sit down and give me all of his data.   I try to get an update mid-year just to see now we are tracking but it is year end numbers that I like to see.  Yes, I know how much he has saved as he moves money periodically to the joint checking and then I move the money to our investment accounts, but I don’t how much he has made and if this is a large percentage of his take home income or not.  Since all of our benefits and 401(k) savings comes out of my paycheck Mr. SFF’s savings makes the biggest impact on our overall savings goal. Continue reading “2016 Savings Review”