Making Sure You Have 40 Quarters of Work

I might be strange to discuss Medicare stuff as most of us on this early retirement journey are years from Medicare eligibility but as most of us in this community are planners calculating every need that might arise, I figured it was an important topic to cover (plus I have been doing some insurance CE on the topic so I figured I could share my wealth of knowledge).

Most of us don’t know the costs associated with Medicare and might even think that we just automatically get Medicare once we turn 65 for free.  In reality, we have to “earn” this benefit by paying into the system over the years.  For the average person this isn’t an issue because it takes them a few decades to amass enough money to retire but for those of us in FI community we have BIG dreams and those dreams often mean not working the majority of our adult lives.

Continue reading “Making Sure You Have 40 Quarters of Work”

Hello Mr. Tax Man!

Normally receiving a letter from the tax man, either the feds or the state, is not a good thing.  Did we file our taxes incorrectly?  Do we owe them money?  The list of questions as I opened that envelope were endless.  But as I read the letter from the state tax man it had great news: our property taxes were going down!  Woot, woot!  I know, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement!

Our little state has a homestead exemption where they offer tax relief for households making lower incomes.  When Mr. SFF was fully employed we didn’t qualify but part of the way through 2014 he was laid off and started working for himself making less money (but still plenty for our frugal household).  2015 was the first full year of his self-employment and so our total adjusted gross income was much less so low and behold, we now qualify!  We file the form every year and I usually don’t even think twice about it so when I received the letter from the state department of taxes I was pleasantly surprised.  We are certainly going to enjoy the $1,244 tax savings this year and likely just put this money towards our goals.

But with this came the bigger revelation, our income will be even lower when we reach FIRE and are only working part-time meaning this credit should be even larger.  This is huge news! Continue reading “Hello Mr. Tax Man!”

Monthly Food Update – #7

I will admit that I have been slacking on my food logs recently, hence the delay in this post.  This past month as a little out of the norm.  We had a super relaxing vacation but then spent the following week changing over two apartments.  As a result I fell behind on logging receipts until there was a huge pile and often forgot to take photos of our meals.  Alas, that is life.

Costs this month are not quite as accurate as usual as we spent a week on vacation in Rhode Island.  We share a house with my mother in law, an uncle and all of our meals are generally cooked so thankfully dining out costs end up being fairly low.   Usually I am the one in charge of tallying the share of costs at the end of the week but since we left a day early this year my mother in law was the one in charge.  She never asked us to give her any additional money so the grocery store runs we made likely covered the cost of all of our food for the week.  For the purposes of this blog post I am just going to assume we spent an even $100 for the two of us for the entire week and broke it out between breakfast, lunch and dinner costs.  This could be off but is probably close enough.

Per the suggestion of one reader I added another page to my site with some of our favorite recipes.  These may not be the most cost effective recipes but they are some of our favorites in regular rotation.  I will try to add more as the seasons change and as different types of meals get added to our regular schedule.  When possible I might also try to add the average cost of those meals but I haven’t gotten there yet. Continue reading “Monthly Food Update – #7”

Mid-Year Savings Update

The SFF household has been busy so this post is slightly delayed but we finally had a chance to sit down and review our total income/expense numbers for the first half of the year.  I have been anxiously awaiting this info as we keep our individual income and expense money separate so I was a little in the dark as to how we were doing as a couple.  But I am happy to report that we have increased our savings rate from last year!

In 2015 we saved 28% of our joint net income.  This was a little lower than I had wanted but we have both made an effort to decrease our spending even more and Mr. SFF has been transferring money to our joint accounts more consistently resulting in a higher savings rate.  Based on my calculations we have saved approximately 46% of our net income so far this year.  Woohoo!  I am pretty psyched about this as it is a drastic increase from last year and we both still have buffers of extra money in our individual accounts which is not included in this number. Continue reading “Mid-Year Savings Update”

Monthly Food Update – #6

I know, another food update.  I promise I am working on some other topics but I just gotten distracted lately.  So this past month was a little brutal.  Our grocery store food costs were actually OK but a long weekend to CT completely blew our food budget with four meals eaten out.  We spent more money dining out in just those four days than we have probably spent all year.  Ouch!  Did we have a great time visiting friends?  Yes without a doubt.  But it certainly hurt the wallet.  The funny thing is that we used to dine out all the time but now it is just painful when I look at the numbers.

On a positive note, this past month I made a mini chalkboard to list our weekly meals.  I keep our weekly meal plan on a google spreadsheet but now we have a nice little visual right in the kitchen.  I already had the supplies to make the chalkboard, including the chalkboard paint, so this little project didn’t cost anything.  It’s not perfect but it seems to work pretty well.

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Last weeks menu as set on Sunday.

Continue reading “Monthly Food Update – #6”

How Our Rental Property Has Accelerated Our FI Date

Rental properties are certainly not stress free but man, do can they provide income!  Our new duplex has had a little bit of stress and work associated with it but really nothing substantial.  We continue to have good communication with the tenant who was paying rent late and this past month he was on time so there was improvement.

But one of the best things about a rental is the cash flow.   Continue reading “How Our Rental Property Has Accelerated Our FI Date”

Growing Up in a Hoity-Toity Town

I was recently thinking about how the town I grew up in might have shaped the way I feel about money.  Both Mr. SFF and I had similar backgrounds even though we grew up in different states.   Our home towns were both upper middle class and great places to raise children but as we both watched as our families struggled through difficult times and I can’t help but wonder if this shaped the way we manage our money today.  (And to be clear, neither of us have even been given or inherited any money from our families. All of our wealth we have created on our own.) Continue reading “Growing Up in a Hoity-Toity Town”

How Our Journey to FIRE Has Strengthened Our Marriage

The divorce rate in the US has statistically been high in over the past few decades.  For a while it was believed to be around a rate of about 50% although new data (thankfully) shows this number has actually declined.  Now there are many reasons for divorce but a couple of the consistently top reasons are money and communication.  For the SFF household though, this is certainly not the case. Continue reading “How Our Journey to FIRE Has Strengthened Our Marriage”

Tax Time is Here

Are you the type of person that absolutely loves this time of year?  I mean, the whole processing of the tax return can be a pain but many people get money back so it can be pretty great.  Or do you dread the April 15th (or 18th this year) deadline as you know this means you have to write a big check to the good old US of A?  For us I don’t look forward to tax time but I also don’t really dread it. Continue reading “Tax Time is Here”

Our First Investment Property Hiccup

When you own an investment property you know in the back of your head that nothing is guaranteed and that something will come up.  Well it turns out that for our new property, it only took a couple of months before we had our first hiccup.

As we sort of inherited the tenants when we closed on the property in January we actually know very little about them.  We have their names, email addresses and phone numbers and that is basically all we know.  We are kind of stuck with them until their leases are up this summer. Continue reading “Our First Investment Property Hiccup”