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October 18th, 2010 — , ,
Yes, it has been a full year since the little monster inside me decided to and pop his head out. Now he is basically a mini-me with his daddy’s face. My husband wrote a very detailed reflection on and I feel that I should write about how the first year of motherhood has been for me.
This year went by extremely fast for me just because I had so much to do every single day. Although I got up earlier every morning the days just seemed shorter because I spent hours feeding the little guy every single day. In the beginning he ate around 12 times a day, and yes, I was After I went back to work in January I started to pump milk to send to the babysitter, and at home he still drank my milk. I did do exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months, and although it took a lot of time, I felt that it was worthwhile because he did not get sick at all during that time period.
When he was around six months I started to make baby food for him, but soon we started to just let him self feed and stopped with the purees. He was still getting most of his nutrients from breast milk but he learned to self feed quickly. Now he eats a wide variety of foods by himself as long as I cut it up into small pieces. He still drinks breast milk now, but he is slowly weaning himself so he isn’t drinking nearly as much breast milk as before.
I also starting at 4 months, and he was doing really well for a long time. It got to a point when he would just poop at home during the morning and evenings in his potty and his babysitter rarely had to change poopy diapers. Now he turned one and he is starting to stand up while he his on his potty, and much to my dismay, there has been more accidents just because he is less inclined to sit there and do his business.
In short, it has been a generic viagra best price of work, but watching him grow has been quite rewarding, too. I guess I never understood why moms posted Facebook updates of their kids’ every little development until I started doing it myself. I think every parent has that unexplainable joy and pride in their babies’ achievements, no matter how small and silly it is. All this work is worth it to me because my child is absolutely amazing in my eyes. My husband said to me once that my baby is probably my biggest accomplishment, and my mom actually said that I am doing a better job than she ever expected with my child. That is a huge compliment coming from a critical Asian mom like her.
After having my baby, I am even more deeply convinced that being a wage slave for your entire life is not the way to live. It does not make sense to pay someone to be away from my child just to earn money, but that is the dilemma so many working moms face. My son makes me want to retire early even more because I want to be able to take him to the beach any day of the week. He is changing so quickly that I just feel like that I would miss something if I wasn’t with him. Although I have very little time now to write, I am still working on increasing my side income, and we are still saving very aggressively so perhaps we will be able to get out of the rat race sooner than planned. I do have a target for my side income. Basically if I can earn 50% of my current salary in side income for 6 months, then I would be ready to quit because we would actually come out ahead economically in that case. The main reasons are that we would pay a lot less in taxes, and I would not have to pay for childcare. Additionally, I will have more time to build up even more side income. Right now my side income is up to 20% of my salary, so I am hoping to reach my goal by the end of next year.
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May 3rd, 2010 — ,
Several people have said to me that if I were to retire early then I would lose out on a great deal of Social Security benefits. The fact is that the earlier I retire the more return I would receive from Social Security. Here is the reason why those who want to get more from Social Security should retire early.
First of all, I am still 40 years from what Social Security calls the “full retirement age”. That is when I can collect 100% of the benefits I am entitled to. In 40 years I have no idea whether or not this program would be around. If it is not going to be around anymore then it seems to make sense to pay as little into it as possible.
Next there’s the issue of how your retirement benefits are calculated under Social Security. Basically, the calculations work out so that those who pay more will get less of a return on what they paid. Here is theof how Social Security benefits are calculated this year.
Using that worksheet lets do a real example of two hypothetical people that both start working in 1991 and reach their full retirement age in 2010. (This is possible since some immigrants start working in America later in life.) Suppose person A works for 10 years from 1991 to 2000, and person B works for 20 years from 1991 to 2009. Also suppose that they both start off with a salary of $32,000 per year and get a raise of 2% per year. The is that person A has a monthly benefit of $866.49, and person B has a monthly benefit of $1180.58. So basically, person B paid more than twice the taxes as person A, but has a benefit of only 36% more. Why isn’t it 100% more? The reason is that the formula is meant to replace more income of a person with lower lifetime earnings. It’s pretty easy to see that this is a system of diminishing returns, and it is better to retire early if you can because the rate of return you get on your taxes would be higher than if you retired later.
Finally I think a lot of people have a misconception of how Social Security works. All the money we are paying now are going to current retirees. None of the money is being saved into an account like a 401k. So in the future the benefits we collect will come from younger folks. It is supposed to be an insurance system since a lot of people die before ever collecting any benefits, but it is really another system that forcibly transfers income, and there is no point in paying for it more than you have to.
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March 25th, 2010 — , ,
So yes, the ginormous I am not going to get into the politics and nitty gritty of the bill, but I will write about how this affects our early retirement plan.
If this reform works like it is supposed to then it is actually a positive change for those who want to retire early and live a modest but comfortable life. The main reason is that the government will hand out subsidies for health insurance costs to those who make less than 400% of the poverty level. If you use the , you will see that a family of four with an income of $44,000 a year is required to pay 6.3% of its yearly income on health insurance and the rest will be subsidized. This works out to be $2765 a year or $230 a month. So even if this family’s health insurance actually cost $12,000 a year, at that income level the family would have to pay only $2765. That is equivalent to a bonus of more than $9000 a year. I think that we will be just fine on $36,000 to $44,000 of income a year in retirement so we will be receiving a subsidy since there do not seem to be any asset limits.
This subsidy also makes me think that it is much better for us to pay off our mortgage early instead of using investment or other income in retirement to pay for the mortgage. The reason is that if we lived in a mortgage free house we would not need the income to cover the mortgage, and a lower income means a larger subsidy. I know that some early retirees keep their mortgages because their rates are very low and their investment incomes surpasses the mortgage interest rate, but now it is possible that some may be able to save more in health insurance costs by reducing their incomes.
I am pretty sure that these subsidies will ultimately push health insurance costs up, and it is definitely wealth distribution, but it is unlikely that this law will be repealed. The law definitely makes health insurance affordable to many people through other people’s money, but I do not see much in the bill that actually reduces healthcare costs. I am just hoping that the plans available in the future health insurance exchanges are reasonable, and the flood of newly insured folks do not overwhelm the healthcare system like it already did in Massachusetts.
Ultimately, I think the passage of this law just reinforces my belief that we should retire early, live more, and consume less. I will keep a close watch on how this plan rolls out in the next few years, but at least for now those who want to retire early and do not have health insurance from a former employer can get a fairly clear budget of their health insurance costs based on their incomes in retirement.
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December 1st, 2009 — ,
Today my hubby went back to work after spending 7 weeks with me and the baby. He is a really hands on dad and he calms the baby down better than I can in some instances. In these weeks he also got a lot of gaming time and he loved it and needless to say he didn’t want to go back today. I think having the baby and this break made us reaffirm our desire to reach financial independence as soon as possible so that we can enjoy our time the way we want to. So here is a quick review to where we are and where we need to be.
Since we got married we have been, and right now I think we are still on track to “retiring” in 7 to 10 years as long as we both work and continue to save and invest. Last year I wrote that I only , and that makes the deadline 2015. That is an extremely stretch goal now that we have a baby and a house. However, if we pay off the house as soon as possible we will eliminate a pretty big fixed expense and it would be easier for us to retire since housing costs the most after taxes. I have made a budget for us if we stopped working and paid off the house, and assuming that I still have my current blog income we would only need to withdraw around $25000 a year from our nest egg to live fairly comfortably. That means we don’t really need $1.4 million in our nestegg. A smaller nestegg of 650,000 to 750,000 would be enough as long as we stick to a safe withdrawal rate of 4% and manage it carefully. This would be what Jacob at calls a “25 year emergency fund”. Of course, if you include a paid off home the entire portfolio would be worth over $1 million. Essentially, the money we pay into the home will essentially be generating the rent money we would have paid. In the long term of 50 to 60 years paying off the home and living in it is still worthwhile since rent will go up. In California property taxes cannot go up by more than 2% a year due to proposition 13 so according to my calculation it would take around 72 years for our property tax to go up to an average rent price now. By then we are probably dead anyway.
There are also a couple other advantages to “retiring” early. First of all, we will still have some income, but it will be a lot less than what we earn now. This means we will pay a lot less taxes and qualify for more tax credits. Additionally, having less income is advantageous when it comes time for our baby to apply for college financial aid. The current FAFSA system looks at parental income to determine how much a student should receive in aid, and some private colleges give large grants to low and middle income families. As I wrote in , sometimes the same scholarship offers huge discrepancies in monetary award just because of parental income. As long as we raise our kid well, then we could possibly save a bundle by retiring before he applies for college because we would have financial need based on income. Don’t get me wrong, we are saving for his college fund, too, but we would rather spend more time with our baby and let him work for the bulk of his college financing since he will be an adult then.
Anyway, we are really in love with our baby now, and hopefully we can achieve financial independence in less than 10 years because he will still be a kid then. We might have another kid, too, but that won’t happen for a couple years. I really feel like I’m living in that Nationwide tagline “life comes at you fast” because so many life changing things have happened since I started writing here. It is pretty awesome, and I am thankful.
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June 19th, 2008 — , , , , , ,
Today I read a rather refreshing article called on the LA Times. Basically it tells the story of an ordained pastor named Dave Dixon who gave away pretty much all of his possessions and started to live on a boat and sing songs in a restaurant a few hours a week. His expenses are $565 per month, and he says that “time, not money, is the real commodity in life”. He says that his lifestyle is divinely inspired and “sees himself living out God’s message that faith and people, not possessions, are what is of true value.”
Interestingly enough, I wrote on Wise Bread and this article reflects the first proverb I wrote about, “generic viagra best price Time is definitely more precious than money, and Dave Dixon has that figured out. Additionally, I think it’s great to see that someone realizes that you really don’t need much to survive in this world. My friend the Retirement Hobo said that in South East Asia he was able to eat well on $1 a day, and $10000 is a good retirement fund there. He might be exaggerating a bit, but I really think that if we are able to let go of a lot of luxury that we have we can live well on very little money.
I think it is awesome that this pastor Dixon seems to trust God so much with his lifestyle. Though, it’s funny that the author of the article describes Dave as “quixotic” multiple times in the article. Obviously, some people might think that Dave is a fool for trusting God with his health and not having health insurance, but apparently God provided for him when he had a kidney stone. He may seem like a stupid bum living on a rickety boat, but I know so many people with huge houses that they slave over and complain about. Can these people with so many more possessions than Dave Dixon say that they are really truly free and happy? Dave said in the article, “my possessions made me work harder and stole my time”, and I agree with that sentiment. We all have an extremely ephemeral existence on this earth, and for us to devote so much time and effort to acquire things we can’t bring with us to the next life is quite pointless.
Now, would I sell everything and go live on a boat? Probably not because I don’t like boats very much, but I wouldn’t mind living in a faraway city in Asia where rent is less than $100 a month. I could even have a little piece of land where I can plant some tomatoes, peas, and corn, and raise a few chickens and ducks. These are all things I had when I was a kid in China, and really that’s all I need to be happy. It is a dream lifestyle that is so far removed from my current daily grind in a glass tower, and maybe one day I can convince the hubby to go there.