Abandoning Early Retirement

January 7, 2017 - Leave a Response

I mentioned that I went on a brief early retirement kick a few months ago.

At the time, I had just switched to a new job that was proving to be completely unfulfilling. The pay was amazing, but I’ve learned that no amount of money can really make up for a boring job. Although I knew realistically that I could leave whenever I wanted (my old bosses wanted me back, and I had offers from another company), the day-to-day reality of waking up and going to that job wore me down.

The timing for this malaise was especially bad since we’d just bought our house and wanted to try for Baby #2.  I punched number after number into J Money’s Retirement Calculator, tweaking the numbers for every possible eventuality. I started reading blogs like Freedom 35 and Early Retirement Extreme and even Mr. Money Mustache, at least until the hyper-frugalism and frugal smugness grated too hard.

Early retirement is only slightly easier to plan for than regular retirement.  Would we keep the house or sell and move to a lower cost of living area? Would we downgrade to less demanding jobs or work part-time or just be bums? Every set of numbers had a different set of assumptions, and this can make the answer really different.

Interestingly, though, one truth became clear: people can retire – are retiring – on what we currently have saved.

And like a baby sucking its thumb or hugging a teddy bear, my calculations were soothing to me.

I’d done something similar when I hated my first job and considered going back to school full-time.  Calculating living expenses vs. savings and knowing that I could quit at any time and still finish school made it easier to go to that soul-sucking job every day.

(Of course, I’m older and wiser now and more skilled and more likely to speak up for myself.  I went to my boss and told him it wasn’t working.  He immediately changed my duties to be more in line with my experience and the job I hated quickly became a job I loved. Early retirement suddenly seemed way less important.)

Still, the knowledge that I really wasn’t tethered to a job – any job – was a little eye-opening.

Realistically, I get way too many of my feelings of self-worth from working. I also have a pretty neat job in a really cool industry where I get paid a healthy salary. And even if admitting this makes me a  terrible mother, I’m also way more partial to working than to childcare (sometimes it’s just nice to sit and drink a whole cup of coffee while it’s still hot, you know?), though Mom Guilt often sneaks in and it’s hard to balance everything.

So what do you do when you’re sort of financially independent except you’re risk averse and not interested in not working?

I was inspired by a former coworker who worked 2 days a week for about 10 years. Her resume has no gaps, and I doubt any future employers will ask her if she worked 40 hours per week during those years. I wasn’t interested in working quite that little (plus we depend on my benefits too much).

Our solution is for D and me to each work 4-day weeks.  This gives each of us a chance to get chores and errands done, or to spend an extra day with the kids. With the arrival of Baby #2, it was a good opportunity to ask our bosses for these reduced schedules.

My concern in the short term will be my control freak tendancies at work and the lack of understanding from our coworkers.  I found that three days a week was too hard – too hard to get my work done, too hard to meet with other employees, and too hard to be as involved as I wanted to be with our projects.  I also got a little bit of pushback from some coworkers. Why can’t we have a meeting on [day you’re taking off]? Can you cover XYZ that’s not only on your day off but also at 8pm? How long are you going to be part-time? Etc.

In theory, this does make our nominal budget very tight, especially since the two biggest line items – mortgage and daycare costs – are relatively fixed. That said, we can always work more if money becomes a problem.  Right now, the lowered stress and extra time with our kids seem to be in far shorter supply.

What would you do with almost financial independence but with a lot of uncertainty?


4 years later…

November 18, 2016 - 2 Responses

*cracks open wordpress, bats fly out*

It has been nearly 4 years since I wrote an entry.  I had no plans to stop blogging, though by that point I think my updates were coming monthly.

When I wrote that last post, I didn’t even know I was pregnant.

I lost that baby.

It was already dead, though my body (for whatever reason) decided to hold onto it for an extra month.

At the time, we’d been struggling with some fertility issues. Minor surgery corrected the problem, but we’d been trying for nearly 2 years by that point.

It was a blow.

I didn’t realize then how common miscarriages are.

At the time, I think I considered writing a post about it, but it was still so raw.  As time stretched on, it seemed exhausting to go back and share everything.  Finances didn’t seem important (and by that point, as DINKS with engineer salaries, it was a steady drumbeat of automated savings… fun to watch it grow, but nothing interesting to share).

I got pregnant again.  I held my breath, keeping it a secret as if that would keep this baby safe.

He’ll be three in February.

Baby #2 was born in August. I go back to work on Monday.

We bought a house.  We bought another new car. I switched jobs after my promotion was denied 3 years in a row. I started teaching yoga classes. We’re inching closer and closer to major net worth milestones, we surpassed various salary milestones. We itemized taxes for the first time.

I’ve wanted to blog again, now that there are so many more things to think about.  How we’ll pay down our mortgage.  How we’ll afford $30,000 for daycare for both kids. How we’ll handle college savings.  How we’ll manage to keep our house clean with both of us working full-time.

I’m still reading most of the blogs I used to (the ones that are still going), though I don’t think I’ve commented.  I was also reading a lot of Early Retirement blogs for a while, though I’m off that kick now.

I don’t know that I’ll blog again, but that’s what has been up with me.

Miss you.

2012 In Review

January 3, 2013 - 2 Responses

2012 was a year of great uncertainty. Last January, we weren’t sure when D would finish school, if he’d find a job, if we’d buy a house, etc. You all remember when D got his job offer, so at least that’s one question answered. We’ve deferred the house hunting until 2013, though, so the uncertainty isn’t going away any time soon (have you ever tried to make a budget without knowing how much one of your major expenses will cost? It’s impossible!).

This was a year of mixed blessings. D got a new job, but his commute currently takes about an hour. We bought a new car, but we struck a compromise between my insistence on fuel efficiency and D’s desire for space, with the result being that I think the car is a gas-guzzler and D thinks it’s too small. I still enjoy my job, but I had a promotion get turned down and I’m struggling with some bitterness about that.

I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. We got to take a couple of great vacations this year, and we’ve been visiting family more than ever. I never want to forget that I am very lucky and my complaints are really very small.

Overall, I had a good year. But I’ll be honest – I didn’t look at my goals at all this year. I should start doing a review at least halfway through the year. I met my financial goals (which is probably just the result of setting conservative goals and having a higher income) but epically failed on being the kind, charitable, minimalist type of person I want to be. Below, a summary.


1. Max out retirement accounts.

I maxed out my 401K, and we currently have money set aside for our Roth IRAs. I have just been lazy about actually making the desposit! D doesn’t become eligible for his company’s 401K until late 2013, so no deposits made to his.

2. Save/earmark an additional $15,000.

We put just over $45,000 into savings, but $30,000 of that was money we took out to pay for the car. I feel OK about this number since D only worked part of the year and because we cashflowed all of the things that were supposed to be earmarks.

I’m going to be honest – this was a strange goal when I set it. That said, I can’t really complain about our savings account balances.

3. Stay under personal budget.

I haven’t run the numbers for December yet, but I’m pretty sure I came in under this budget item despite higher spending on fitness stuff (yoga classes are expensive, yo!) and books/music.

4. Donate $100/month to charity.

I set aside the $1200, but I’ve found it hard to pull the trigger on any one charity. Charities I’ve donated to in past years just keep sending me fundraising information. I’m have so many address labels (with my maiden name), calendars, stickers, etc. I’m a little bit grossed out by it all, to be honest. I’ve been wanting to find a charity that’s not spending their money on mailings and salaries, but even Charity Navigator isn’t really helping me.

I’m weighing several options for using this money, but that’s a topic for another discussion…


1. Get at least 4/5 on my year-end review.

I got a 5/5, but it was bittersweet because of #2.

2. Ask for a promotion.

Asked for it, and it got rejected by a nameless executive who has no idea what I do.

I tried to write a post about this several times. I’m struggling with a lot of bitterness about it. Our department had a LOT of turnover this year, and my bosses leaned on me very heavily, counting on me to do work far above my current level. So when the promotion got rejected, it was pretty demotivating. I’m embarrassed, because I really think I deserve the promotion, so this made me feel as though I’ve overestimated my abilities. My bosses have promised me a promotion in 2013.

3. Train on at least one new task/discipline.

Done, in spades.


1. Work out 4 days per week.

Done! There were a few weeks where I might have worked out 3 times, plus there was a two-week period where I was on crutches and didn’t work out at all. Still, I’m pleased with how well I did this year, and I have actual muscle tone in my arms for the first time… ever.

2. Take an extra yoga class.

I have definitely taken a lot more yoga classes this year! I abandoned the cheaper 8-week series in July for multiple reasons, but I found another studio with awesome classes, even if it costs quite a bit more than $5/class.

2013 will include more yoga goals!

3. Set one food-related goal per month.

I’m going to be honest – I totally forgot about this goal until I reread my 2012 goals post! I know I made them for a few months, but consistently failed to meet them. Then I think I stopped, and never restarted.

Being Better

1. Work 15 hours for a non-profit.

I didn’t do this AT ALL. The animal shelter that I decided on wasn’t taking new people in January, and then I just… never looked again.

2. Read 100 books and jot down a quick summary/review.

I read about 80 books (which is close to my 2011 total) and created a GoodReads account and started off the year jotting down note in a small diary. And then I left the diary at my sister’s house. And then I basically avoided the internet for a few months. So, fail all around!

3. Institute a one-in-one-out shopping rule.

I explained earlier about my weight loss this year. I still think it’s temporary (and my unhealthy holiday eating habits might have pushed me back up!), so I haven’t donated anything. I have put some things into storage, but I don’t think it counts.

Eyewear Sticker Shock

October 4, 2012 - 6 Responses

I’m lucky enough to have avoided most health problems in my life, with one exception: my eyesight is terrible.  When I was twelve, my dad (who also has bad eyesight) tried on my glasses and was amazed that the prescription was so close to his own.  Luckily, my prescription has tapered off by now, but I still need glasses and/or contacts to function like a normal human.

I went to the eye doctor last week to update my prescription and order new contacts and glasses. I have one pair of contacts left, so I need to reorder. I haven’t had new glasses in years, but the anti-glare coating on my current pair has started flaking off, so they need to be replaced.

Right now I’m going through a little bit of sticker shock!

For contacts, the doctor is saying I should go for daily lenses.  They gave me some free daily lenses to try out, and let me tell you, those things are luxurious.  No need to worry about remembering to pack a contact case or solution, no need to track how long it has been since I last swapped to a fresh pair.

However, do you know how much those things cost?? It’s $650 per year.  Normal 2-week lenses are only $250 for a year.  I am also worried about how much waste goes into the daily lenses.  That’s 730 little plastic blister packs with foil seals.  That’s a lot!  And it seems like such a stupid thing to worry about (especially since I contribute my fair share of waste to landfills), but seeing the pile from just a week of these babies made me feel like a bad global citizen.

I was considering getting a 6-month supply of daily lenses and then just wearing them half-time with glasses, which would at least decrease the cost/guilt slightly.

Unfortunately, it looks like glasses are going to be expensive too!  My insurance will only cover a specific amount for either glasses or contacts, so either way I’ll have to cover a chunk of cash.  Here is the glasses breakdown:

Frames: $250 (The cheapest pair they had were about $200, my favorites were, of course, around the $400 mark)
Lenses: $100 for thicker lenses OR $200 for thinner lenses, + $100 for anti-glare coatings

I could keep my old frames, but in all honesty, they have not fit properly since I bought them.  They look good on my face, but they slide down my nose.  Plus the plastic is discolored in places (and oh my gosh I walk around like that all the time, what is wrong with me).  The lenses would definitely need to be replaced, which I might end up also doing to have a backup pair.

I’ve also been looking at some of the online retailers that promise glasses for $100, but I’m a little wary of them.  Maybe as a backup, but that still means spending the $400 – $600 on the primary pair.

The debate in my mind seems a little silly since obviously I need to see, but at the same time, it makes sense to optimize my spending, especially when we’re talking about over $1000.

Do you wear glasses/contacts?  What kind do you use, and how much do you pay?

To Accomplish, October 2012

October 3, 2012 - Leave a Response

I feel like this year has flown by; I am just completely baffled that it’s October already. That means it’s time to check my yearly goals and panic over how far I am from meeting them. It also means it’s time for pumpkin-flavored everything, baking lots of cookies, and panicking over what gifts to buy everyone for Christmas. I also feel as though I will have no free weekends until 2013!  At any rate, this is a busy month so this will be more of a To Do list than anything involving actual goals.

To Accomplish, October 2012

1. Workout 5 days per week.
My sister is getting married in a few more weeks, and then we’re going to Hawaii. I need to step it up!

2. Read 10 books.
This is ambitious, given that I’ve been struggling to meet my 8 books per month goal. Still, with a loooong flight at the end of the month and a couple of days of vacation, I should be able to make this. Hopefully.

3. Buy D a birthday present.
OK, this is cheating because I’d remember to do it no matter what. But it’s on my To Do list, so it goes here.

4. Get ready for my sister’s wedding.
This involves a bunch of random beautify tasks, such as using those terrible teeth whitening strips, buying nail polish, making sure my makeup still works, etc. I also have to buy jewelry and shoes. And get my dress tailored. Ack!

5. Register to vote.
I attempted to register to vote when we moved here, but thanks to a DMV employee who fulfilled all of the stereotypes of DMV employees, my application was rejected. Since I’d like to be able to vote in the upcoming election, I should really get on this.

6. File my work expense report.
I always forget to do this and I’m pretty sure the people who work for the Travel group hate me. I can’t help it, it involves a.) keeping track of receipts, b.) filling out paperwork, and c.) finding a fax machine. That’s way too many things.

7. Figure out what to do with my stock options.
I got some stock options a long time ago and they’ve just finally vested. Now the question: Do I sell the shares or keep them for future emergencies?

What I’ve been up to

September 14, 2012 - 2 Responses

One of the most most difficult parts about being a slacker blogger is that each week I skip posting, there’s more and more stuff I want/need to post about.  Posting goals & wrap-ups as my two posts a month just feels like cheating, so I skipped those too.  This is stupider, since now it has been 6 weeks since my last post (boo).

Is it more forgivable if I don’t have internet access at work?  One of my coworkers was just fired for looking at “obscene material” (!!) on his work computer, so now no one can access anything outside our company’s intranet.  We can access company websites, that’s it.  I’ve started taking cell phone breaks (because we can’t have those either, lest someone take a picture of some drawing and sell them to a competitor. Which has happened.) at lunchtime, but it’s really hard to blog on that thing!  It’s hard enough to send a decipherable text message.

So here you go.  An infodump.


So… we have two incomes again.  This is a magical thing!  The problem? I forget that after a few years of “famine” (and since our household income has been above $100,000 each year thanks to D’s grad school stipends, I mean it’s like a famine where you have to eat cheddar and drink apple juice instead of having caviar & wine) it’s not a good idea to gorge yourself on everything you’ve been missing.  We basically spent D’s 2012 after-tax income on a new car.  Then we booked a trip to Hawaii (we have a travel fund that should just about cover it, but still!).  We’ve been taking weekend trips and buying brand name groceries.

I’m aware this is all very tame.  But for someone who blogs about personal finance, this is rock bottom or a cry for help or SOMETHING.

(These are First World Problems.)

Now I’m itching to make The Biggest Purchase of my life.  I’ve been looking at houses on Zillow, and all of a sudden, I want one.  Badly.  If certain houses on Zillow had a Buy It Now option, I’d probably have 5 or 6 by now.  My brain keeps running the numbers and saying, “If you just wait a little longer…” and I calm down for a day or two and then one of my favorite houses sells and I panic all over again.

D and I have agreed not to do anything until after my sister’s wedding.  We at least have to replenish our savings accounts!


Remember how I was going to buy quality not quantity and stop shopping at Old Navy?  Yeah, not so much.  You see, I accidentally lost 10 pounds (accidentally- see my explanation below) and then none of my clothes fit.  And of course, I sold off or donated most of my smaller clothes last year, thinking, “There’s no way I’ll be that small again.”  I’ve been wearing most of my too-large clothes anyway, but sometimes it’s hard to ignore that I look frumpy.

Since the whole thing was an accident, I assume that this size is temporary.  I think my body generally prefers to be about 5 lbs heavier, which puts me right back in my bigger clothes.  So I’ve been justifying cheaper shopping sprees.

Also, my personal budget keeps getting eaten up by yoga classes and iPhone apps.

That said, I’ve been enjoying buying some accessories (they always fit!).  My quality-over-quantity purchases this year have been a Kate Spade necklace (it’s reversible!  Which means I got TWO expensive necklaces for the price of ONE exorbitantly expensive necklace!) and a J. Crew purse.  Both were more than 50% off but still cost well above what I’ve ever spent on one item.


I started taking a kickboxing class!  I even did something out of character and bought gloves after 2 classes.  This is something normal people do all the time, but I am so cheap that I won’t buy yoga accessories and I’ve been doing yoga regularly for 3 years now. The gloves are blue and I like to tell people that I bought them because they match my new purse.

It’s a lot of fun, even if I end up with bruises from kicking the pads wrong.

I said above that I accidentally lost weight.  This is an obnoxious thing to say.

The truth: I tend to eat whatever D eats.  When D went on a diet earlier this year, I was eating less without thinking about it.  I still worked out at the same level, but I was actually eating healthy.  Will this continue once D moves on to maintaining?  Maybe, but I’m not holding out much hope.


Work is going well.  My boss is putting me in for a raise!  It’s not a sure thing – I’m just at the cusp of the experience level – but I sent her an updated resume that basically plagiarizes the  job postings they’ve had for the next salary level.  Fingers crossed!

So what have you been up to?  I still have 200 unread posts in my Google Reader (this is down from 500!), but slowly & surely, I’m catching up on everyone’s lives!

July Wrap-Up

August 1, 2012 - One Response

I’ve never been so glad for a month to be over!  Long work hours made this a very stressful month, but my body is almost back on a normal sleep schedule and my wallet is much happier due to the insane amount of overtime I earned.  We spent a chunk of our savings on a new car, so that has me scrambling to figure out what will happen to our house down payment and travel fund. (For all my talk about being a planner, I did a terrible job of remembering that our 2nd car was only a loaner and if D had to drive any distance to work, we’d need a new one.)

August isn’t shaping up to be much better since I’ve got 2 parties to plan for my sister’s wedding (shower + bachelorette).  D & I are going on our first couple-y vacation since our honeymoon, though, and even if it’s just a long weekend, I’m going to enjoy every minute of it!

1. Work out 4 days per week. Done!
I don’t even know what to say about this any more, but since this is the only goal I consistently meet, I refuse to say anything bad about it.

2. Read 8 books. Fail.
So close!  I read 7, and was most of the way through #8 but opted to watch the Olympics instead.  Four of the books were simplistic YA books, though, so I can’t brag too much.  Never take book recommendations from your 11-year-old cousin.  You will probably get sucked in and then you will be ashamed and you will also want to tell her why love triangles are terrible.

3. Figure out all of the financial stuff that has changed. Mostly!
We’re not outside the Roth limits (yay!), but our tax bill will be ridiculous.  I’ve upped my withholdings, so hopefully we’ll get close to the right amount for 2012.   We renewed our lease at our current apartment complex, mostly because there wasn’t enough time to do anything else.  We spent way too much money on our car, but we’ll be able to replenish our savings by early next year so we can start looking to make an even bigger purchase – a new house.

4. Post at least 2x per week. So much fail.
I honestly was thinking we’d spend our time picking out a car and looking for 0% financing and looking up negotiation techniques.  Instead, we bought a car after swearing we wouldn’t and didn’t have to do any of the research I thought we’d have to do.  So, good for stress levels, bad for blog content.  You will all have to be content with my 3x per month schedule (sorry).

5. Plan my sister’s bridal shower. Mostly!
The party is coming up in August, and I AM GOING INSANE.  We decided to DIY some major parts of it, and it was just a stressful choice.  I’m planning on taking a day off work to get everything done.  It will end up being the cheaper option, but the time tradeoff is not feeling worth it right now.

6. Use massage groupon. Fail.
I didn’t even try, but mostly because I want to use it after the shower.  No point in getting the massage and then hurting my back from sitting hunched over DIY table runners for hours.

7. Go to the farmer’s market. Fail.
I totally forgot about this goal, but we haven’t had a non-working weekend at home all month.  I worked the first 2 weekends, we were out of town on the 3rd, and D had to work last weekend.  We’re just lucky there’s food other than condiments in our fridge!

8. Bake at least one recipe I’ve pinned on Pinterest. Fail.
But!  I’m using several images as inspiration, including fruit kebabs, which are kind of like baking except without all of the ingredients and using a stove and stuff.  I’ll definitely be getting my bake on before the shower, though.  Wah.

9. Go hiking at least once. Fail.
I was tempted to give us a “Kinda?” on this goal.  We did go for walks several times per week, and I’ve mentioned the no-weekends thing.  Still, this is technically a fail, and there’s no shame in failing at really easy things on the internet.

We accidently bought a new car already

July 24, 2012 - 11 Responses

I mean, the title of this post kind of sums it up, doesn’t it?

We started off with grand plans.  There was a long list of cars we wanted to check out, and we even made the nerdiest spreadsheet of all time, which listed car costs and features.

D test drove a couple, and we test drove a few together.  We went to test drive the top car on D’s list, a Honda CR-V, one night after work.  On our way there, we promised each other, “We’re not buying a car tonight.”

Fate laughed in our faces.

First of all, it’s a nice car!  And it had some amenities that were on our “desirables” list (again, see the nerdsheet).  More importantly, it had all of the qualities that we deemed important: all-wheel drive (D’s requirement), not-too-terrible gas mileage (mine), cargo space (D’s, but I agreed it would be nice), big back seat (both), USB hookups (both, and I’m aware that this is such a shallow thing to insist upon in a car).

Knowing that the price on the sticker is a big fat lie, we asked what they really wanted for the car.  The brought back a sheet with a bunch of numbers and also a sheet with the monthly payment (they seemed to think it was really important, but we were all, “whatever” and just looked at the bottom line, the out-the-door price).  We said, “Wow that’s a lot,” and got up to go because we were hoping to test drive a Subaru that same night.

Our salesman told us to wait, scurried off, and came back with another price.  This made us pause, because it was lower than Edmund’s True Market  Value (thanks Tom and StackingPennies for that suggestion!).  Still, we’d made our pact – no buying.  The salesman left and came back again with an even lower price, but we still didn’t want to take the plunge.

The salesman got a little pushy at this point.  We’d mentioned we were interested in the Mazda CX-5, and he just started trash talking the hell out of it.  So I did something I’m not proud of – I whipped out the nerdsheet.  I pointed out that the mid-level CX-5 comes standard with all of the features that we’d have to upgrade to get on the CR-V, so we’d basically be paying more to get the same.

He came back with a higher out-the-door price that had us paying less for the car but included an extended warrantly.  At that point, I slung my purse over my shoulder and said that if we weren’t going to buy the car at the lower price, how could he expect us to buy it at a higher price?  I was really cranky because the Subaru dealer was closed and I’d all of a sudden realized that we were haggling over a car that we weren’t sure we wanted to buy yet.

One more price. It included a stupid prepaid maintenance “club,” but he wouldn’t take it off.  Even so, the cost of the “club” + all of the car stuff was still under the invoice cost listed on Edmunds.com.   It was invoice, you guys. We accidentally negotiated down to invoice. I had Edmund’s open on my phone, and I whispered this to D. And then we very politely asked if we could have a few minutes. And we decided to go for it, if they’d give us a cargo tray for the back (it was like $100, probably cost them $30, so not a huge coup).

Our sales guy was a little slimy.  It’s to be expected (I don’t think people become car salesmen to help others).  So he said we had to finance the car to get the price. Fine. We put down the maximum down payment on the car that he would allow (and we’ll just pay off the rest when the bill comes), and put as much on the credit card as he’d let us ($2500).

We though we were done, but then it was time to bully us into the extended warranty AGAIN. They even offered us 0% financing, but it wasn’t worth the $1800 that the extended warranty would cost.  They had the financial guy take us to his office and refuse to let us leave for AN HOUR. Finally, we just were “rude” and said we didn’t want it and that we were sick of being there and being hounded.  Then they acted all offended, but thankfully stopped badgering us. We signed the papers and picked the car up a few days later.

The best part? When we got home, we read the paperwork, and we could cancel the prepaid maintenance club.  Meaning that we ended up paying $250 under invoice.

I’m not fooled into thinking that spending over $25,000 on a car is “saving,” but I’m happy with the price we paid and the car we got.  The only thing we’re kicking ourselves over is the fact that we probably could have canceled that extended warranty too, which would have saved us another $375.  Still, I could spend weeks lamenting the extra money we could have squeezed out of the dealer, and it’s just not productive. Next time, though, we’ll know.

And that’s how we accidentally paid under invoice for a new car.

Big Purchase on the Horizon: New Car

July 11, 2012 - 4 Responses

I’ve mentioned before that D’s parents loaned us a car while he was in grad school.  It was technically already loaned to his sister, but since she lived in a very car unfriendly city, she was OK with us taking it for a few months.  However, she’s now moving, and our loan has been called in.

This, by the way, is perfectly reasonable.  We were very lucky to have that car, but now that we are back to having two incomes, it’s more than fair that we pass it along.  Unfortunately, though,this means we’re now down one car.

The way I see it, we have a few options:

1. Live with one car.

We did this for over a year when we lived in LA, and on and off while we lived here in VA.  It wasn’t impossible then, but things are a bit trickier now.  Before, we either worked in the same city or one of us could take the Metro. Now, D works nearly an hour away, so I would have no access to car all day.  This is not an insurmountable problem, since my job is very close to our apartment.  I could walk or bike many days, or D could drop me off and pick me up.

I’ll be honest: D is not interested in this idea.  He’s not a personal finance blogger, he doesn’t care how much money we’d save by going down to one car.  All he sees is how inconvenient is would be – and has always been – sharing one car.  We make decent salaries and could buy a new car in cash, so in his mind, there is no good reason to have only one car.

My inner cheapass is quieted only because I know that when we move in a few months/a year, my commute will no longer be 2 miles and then we WILL need a car.  It would probably be easier to spread out these larger costs so we’re not simultaneously wrestling with buying a car and making a down payment on a house.  Which leads us to our other choices…

2. Buy a used car.

I’m afraid that this post is going to make D sound like a wanton spendthrift, but he isn’t.  I tracked my spending obsessively for 4 years when we lived in California and saved almost $40,000.  D didn’t track anything for those 4 years, and he also ended up with $40,000.  I’m into spending on lots of little things with a complete inability to spend on large purchases. D doesn’t spend much money day to day, but he is willing to splurge hard on something he likes.

That entire paragraph is leading up to this confession: we’re getting an SUV. A small one, but still.

I railed against this choice for days.  How it’s socially irresponsible to get anything but a Smart Car.  I offered to take a scooter on the highway every day.  I pulled out EPA Fuel Economies for dozens of vehicles.  I even started throwing hybrids into the mix (then quickly retracted that since the cost of the car is also a huge factor)!

It was no use. D wants the cargo space, the leg room (he’s 6’1″), and he’s not willing to give up on that.  Even hatchback sedans couldn’t change his mind (which, you know, good call. Because they are ugly.).

Here’s the thing about late model used SUVs. They aren’t that cheap!  We searched for a little while on CarMax, but there was nothing that met out requirements for space, attractiveness, MPG, and cost.  And that’s when we decided that we might want to make the worst PF decision of our lives (dun dun dunnnnnn!)…

3. Buy a new car.

I bought my car, a 2006 Toyota Corolla, new.  I was right out of school, had just moved to LA, and that was what I thought you were supposed to do.  I didn’t (don’t) know anything about cars, so buying new just seemed safer than buying used.  I got an OK price but terrible financing.  Still, that car probably ended up making me money over the years.  I was so bereft over the crappy interest rate on the loan that I started looking on the internet for financial advice on getting ridof debt.  I discovered MSN Money, The Simple Dollar, and the world of blogging. A monster was born!  Despite being the worst blogger ever, I have done well financially.

We’ve test driven a few cars recently, and can I just say that new cars are NICE these days?  My car is 7 years old and I always thought it was a big deal that it had a 6 CD changer and nice speakers.  The cars we’ve been testing have iPod hookups and touchscreens and even refrigerated glove boxes.

Yes, they probably had us test drive those types of cars so they could sucker us into the upgraded packages.  IT WORKED.

Even though I still yell at D about how much cheaper a used car would be, no matter how ugly he thinks it is, I secretly want all of the nice new car stuff.  And of course, now I’m ashamed because I used to think I was above all that, but instead I’m just as shallow as all the normal people.  My financial asceticism does not extend to Bluetooth, apparently.

If it’s not totally obvious by this point, we are seriously considering going new. We have the cash to pay for it (although I may still go for financing if I can get one of those sweet 0% loans), and my hope is that we will be able to keep it for years and years, or at least until society starts breaking down because there’s no more oil left.

So!  My hope when I put this out into the intertubes was to get some others’ inputs/experiences.  Did you buy a new or used car?  How did you decide?  How did you haggle? And if the loan interest rate is 0.9% and my savings earn 0.84%, does it make sense to pay cash?

To Accomplish, July 2012

July 6, 2012 - 2 Responses

I haven’t had a day off in almost two weeks, so I was guarding the fourth of July as my day to wear pajamas and make poor food choices. Instead, we made a long road trip to my sister’s new apartment for a barbecue.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to find the motivation to “give up” my days off since I then feel like I need another day to recover. I have to remember when I skip parties, I’m missing out on more than eating a pint of ice cream in my sweat pants.

Do you ever have trouble finding the motivation to be social? What did you do for the 4th (even if it wasn’t a holiday for you)?

To Accomplish, July 2012

1. Work out 4 days per week.
I’m participating in a 10,000 steps per day challenge, just to change things up!

2. Read 8 books.
There’s got to be at least 1 goal that I will definitely fail!

3. Figure out all of the financial stuff that has changed.
Some of this is pretty basic. I’d like to figure out how D and I should handle taxes (I’m sure we’ll be jumping brackets); I need to confirm we’re not going to be phased out of our Roth IRAs (hopefully not), and just in general, we need to figure out what our monthly budget is going to look like.

Then there are the other, bigger questions. D’s commute is too long, so we probably want to move. But to where? And should we buy or rent? We also legitimately need a new car (post on this coming soon). We’re also thinking of doing some traveling soon, but how much can we afford (especially given house+car thoughts)?

4. Post at least 2x per week.
I’ve justified my absence from this blog by saying that there was nothing going on for us, financially. Even otherwise, we didn’t do much traveling or spending or eating out, mostly because I was worrying about money. I’d loosened up this year, but that only made me want to post less – I should not admit to buying $100 Kate Spade necklaces on the internet!

Now, though, there are no excuses!

5. Plan my sister’s bridal shower.
Since I’m the only bridesmaid who is nearby and had financial means, the planning of the bridal shower has fallen to me. I’m getting to deal with the bitchy bridesmaids, the bridesmaid who emails and says she has no money, and my mom, who is extremely opinionated about what these things should look like. Yay!

6. Use massage groupon.
If I can get an appointment. I may also push this off until August, because I get the feeling I’ll need some stress relief after finishing the above party planning.

7. Go to the farmer’s market.
I’ve been bugging D about this one for a while, but for some reason, waking up early enough on the weekends is too hard and putting on real clothes is even harder. With my work schedule, we probably won’t get to this one until the end of the month, but I’m committed to making it happen!

8. Bake at least one recipe I’ve pinned on Pinterest.
I’ve determined that Pinterest is just where I put aspirational things (elaborate cakes, DIY projects, and clothes) that I will never use. A friend and I were joking about it, and she said we should have a monthly Pinterest baking thing, where we pick one recipe and each bake it. I love it as a way to keep in touch (she just moved to Seattle, so I think she’s trying to maintain her connection to here), and I’m willing to endure baking for that!

9. Go hiking at least once.
D and I booked our annivarsary getaway – we’ll be going to Shenandoah and hiking Old Rag, which someone said is one of the best hikes on the East Coast. D and I are good hikers, but we’ve been slacking lately. Hopefully we can get in at least one hike, and a few longer walks before we go!