Monday, September 9, 2019

Tiny Privileges from Buying in Bulk

I went to Target this weekend for some last minute shopping for our upcoming trip to Europe with Baby AF. It was our third trip to Target, recently, because no matter how many lists I make there's always something I think of later.

The worst part is that, thanks to an ongoing renovation at our Target store, I can't even engage in my favorite junk food shame: ordering the chicken fingers from the little food court in the store, placing the cardboard container directly on the seat of the cart where rando babies put their rando bums with only a napkin in between, and then walking through the store to shop for the things I need. Sure, I get some weird looks, but they are just jelly of my chicken.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Trust Fund Baby AF?

There's a certain amount of pride that I feel, being the son of an immigrant. I like that part of my personal history; after the divorce, I was raised by a Filipino woman. She taught me lessons borne out of her life of poverty, in another country, in a culture very different to that in the US.

Before spending a dollar, she'd tell me, ask yourself three times whether you really need to spend it. 

No matter how much or how little you make, Brian, always set aside something for savings: pay yourself first. 

The world is not always fair. To even the odds, you need to work harder than others: they may be bigger or richer or smarter than you, but never let them outwork you.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Baby AF Goes to Europe

Baby AF Goes to Europe
After a two year haitus while Mrs. Done by Forty was pregnant and, then, while she was somehow finishing her PhD dissertation and dealing with all the stresses of Baby AF's first year of life, we are finally taking another international trip next month. And this time, Baby AF is along for the ride.

With apologies to our fellow travelers who will have to deal with some crying and constant complaints to crawl/walk down the aisles of the plane, we're sucking it up and making it happen.

So I figured I'd dust off one of my favorite posts to write: a summary of the trip we're taking, and how we're trying to keep the costs down using some points.

Monday, August 19, 2019

America's Dumb Approach to Childcare

America's Dumb Approach to Childcare
Mrs. Done by Forty was offered a new position recently, which means in addition to enjoying the ridiculously unfair tax benefits and the joy that comes from being a two income household, we'll also get to experience what it's like to pay for full time childcare for Baby AF.

We got recommendations on childcare from friends and family. We made calls, asked questions, looked up rankings when possible, and visited about six of the facilities we thought might be the best fit. Finally, we settled on a place we really liked, and where a couple of our friends had sent their children. While the hourly costs were higher, they had a pricing system that allowed us to only pay for the hours we needed and wanted: scaling up or down as needed for vacations, or working fewer hours in the office.

So we'd settled on our choice of daycare.

And then I heard an amazing short podcast on the American approach to childcare from the University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty, and why our system is so flawed. So let's talk about that today: our system of caring for children, and how it might be improved.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Two Years Out: Are We on Track for Financial Independence?

Two Years Out: Are We on Track for Financial Independence?
Today's my birthday. I turn thirty nine, one away from the big year where I leave my thirties, turn forty, and run against the number I foolishly set as my goal for reaching financial independence.

Astute readers will note that I'm only one year from turning forty, and wonder why the post says I'm still two years out from the goal.

A while back I decided to give myself a little wiggle room: that if I hit financial independence by the last day I'm still forty years old, I'd call it a success. I used to post net worth updates and budget porn posts, giving readers (and myself) a monthly check in on all the financial details in the Done by Forty household. Somewhere along the line I decided I didn't like doing that, so now you voyeurs just get one chance a year to peek in.

So let's take stock and see where we stand. Are we on track to make the goal in time?

Monday, August 5, 2019

Even Out the Tax Benefits for All Workers Saving for Retirement

Even Out the Tax Benefits for All Workers Saving for Retirement
We are awash in big news these days. Right after reaching the milestone of paying off our mortgage we found out we maybe, technically might have achieved the goal this blogger set out to accomplish way back in 2012: being financially independent according to the 4% rule.

With all that still fresh in the air, last Friday Mrs. Done by Forty accepted a full time post-doc position to begin when we return from a trip abroad. She'll get to work in her field, and locally, too: two things we never thought would be possible at the same time when she entered the PhD program.

Her new job will bring on some changes, which we're going to tackle in our first ever collaborative post in the coming weeks.

But today I wanted to talk about one big change that's going to occur specific to our financial independence plans: Mrs. Done by Forty will have an employer-sponsored retirement account for the first time in over a decade.

Monday, July 29, 2019

The Investor Class & the Working Class

The middle class is one of my favorite things to think and write about. I've tried reframing the classes into quintiles, I've written about the difference between having a middle class income and having middle class wealth; about how your location determines a lot about what kind of income you need to be considered middle class. This blog has posts about how class and inequality are inexorably linked, and how one of the traditional definitions of being middle class (doing better than your parents did) is completely unsustainable.

These days I'm not really sure I love the terminology.

What if we're using some antiquated ideas of lower, middle, and upper classes that don't mean much anymore?

Monday, July 15, 2019

Wait, Did Paying Off Our Mortgage Kind of Make Us Financially Independent?

So, we did it. We sold a bunch of stock, pulled together our dividends and ESPP payments from June, scrounged up all the cash we could find, and paid off the mortgage last Friday. Pending some paperwork that has to go from the bank to the county, we are mortgage free and own our home outright.

It's a great feeling, if a little more subdued than we thought it might be. Maybe it's because we'd been mortgage free once before. Or maybe it'll just take some time to sink in.

Maybe we're a bit distracted as Mrs. Done by Forty was offered a job on the same day, and her decisions on that are more pressing than celebrating a milestone.

Monday, July 1, 2019

So We're Going to Pay Off the Mortgage

So We're Going to Pay Off the Mortgage
Talking things over with a few friends last week helped us make a decision: we're going to pay off the mortgage. All at once, by using the remaining cash we have from selling our two rental properties, but mostly by selling investments we have in our taxable accounts.

I already know from our mortgage swoop posts that most people probably won't like this idea. I'll try my best to explain our rationale, which I really do think is sound. But I'm not trying to convince other people that this is what they should do. Instead, I want to explain where we're coming from, our thought process, and just want to be as transparent and honest as I'm comfortable with on the blog.