Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Reader Case Examine: Hoping To Swap an House for Acreage

Rebecca and Robert are newlyweds dwelling with their two cats in Washington, DC. Rebecca works in environmental sustainability and Robert is in donor relations at a non-profit. Their final purpose is to purchase a house in a rural space with numerous pure magnificence and the chance to develop their very own meals. In addition they have goals of touring full-time sooner or later–maybe with their future younger youngsters. Proper now, they’re dwelling in a one-bedroom condo within the metropolis and wish our assist mapping out their subsequent transfer.

What’s a Reader Case Examine?

Case Research handle monetary and life dilemmas that readers of Frugalwoods ship in requesting recommendation. Then, we (that’d be me and YOU, expensive reader) learn by way of their state of affairs and supply recommendation, encouragement, perception and suggestions within the feedback part.

For an instance, take a look at the final case examineCase Research are up to date by members (on the finish of the submit) a number of months after the Case is featured. Go to this web page for hyperlinks to all up to date Case Research.

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There are three choices for folk fascinated about receiving a holistic Frugalwoods monetary session:

  1. Apply to be an on-the-blog Case Examine topic right here.
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  3. Schedule an hourlong name with me right here.

To be taught extra about one-on-one consultations with me, test this out.

Please word that area is proscribed for all the above and most particularly for on-the-blog Case Research. I do my greatest to accommodate everybody who applies, however there are a restricted variety of slots out there every month.

The Objective Of Reader Case Research

Reader Case Research spotlight a various vary of economic conditions, ages, ethnicities, places, objectives, careers, incomes, household compositions and extra!

The Case Examine sequence started in 2016 and, to this point, there’ve been 91 Case Research. I’ve featured people with annual incomes starting from $17k to $200k+ and web worths starting from -$300k to $2.9M+.

I’ve featured single, married, partnered, divorced, child-filled and child-free households. I’ve featured homosexual, straight, queer, bisexual and polyamorous individuals. I’ve featured girls, non-binary people and males. I’ve featured transgender and cisgender individuals. I’ve had cat individuals and canine individuals. I’ve featured people from the US, Australia, Canada, England, South Africa, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany and France. I’ve featured individuals with PhDs and folks with highschool diplomas. I’ve featured individuals of their early 20’s and folks of their late 60’s. I’ve featured people who stay on farms and folk who stay in New York Metropolis.

Reader Case Examine Pointers

I in all probability don’t have to say the next since you all are the kindest, most well mannered commenters on the web, however please word that Frugalwoods is a judgement-free zone the place we endeavor to assist each other, not condemn.

There’s no room for rudeness right here. The purpose is to create a supportive surroundings the place all of us acknowledge we’re human, we’re flawed, however we select to be right here collectively, workshopping our cash and our lives with constructive, proactive solutions and concepts.

And a disclaimer that I’m not a educated monetary skilled and I encourage individuals to not make critical monetary choices primarily based solely on what one particular person on the web advises. 

I encourage everybody to do their very own analysis to find out the most effective plan of action for his or her funds. I’m not a monetary advisor and I’m not your monetary advisor.

With that I’ll let Rebecca, right now’s Case Examine topic, take it from right here!

Rebecca’s Story

Rebecca & Robert using horses in Iceland!

Hello, Frugalwoods! My title is Rebecca, and my husband Robert and I are each 29 and stay in Washington, DC with our two cats. We each presently work full-time – I work in environmental sustainability and Robert works in donor relations for a non-profit. We met on day one in all faculty over 10 years in the past (although we grew up dwelling shut to one another, we didn’t meet till we each moved to DC!) and have been collectively ever since. We had been married earlier this yr in a phenomenal setting in New England and launched into a two-week street journey by way of the Pacific Northwest for our honeymoon.


The primary pastime we do collectively is mountain climbing. We love spending our weekend days within the woods both in DC or in close by Maryland, Virginia, or West Virginia. Robert is an avid homebrewer and volunteers as a little bit league baseball coach, and I can by no means have too many books in my ‘to be learn’ pile. I additionally adore swing dancing (though this has been on hiatus with the pandemic), and volunteer as a tutor throughout the college yr. We take pleasure in cooking collectively and each give you concepts and like to eat, though Robert does many of the cooking and I do many of the cleansing. With the additional time spent at dwelling throughout COVID, we ventured into making sourdough, kombucha, pickling, and home made sodas and jam. We additionally love touring – we’ve been to three nations and 24 states collectively and have a really lengthy journey bucket checklist. The primary factor that forestalls us from touring extra usually is our lack of paid time-off.

Our Goals

Selfmade Beer in progress

We’re beginning to consider rising our household from the 2 of us and our two cat youngsters, to ideally add just a few human youngsters. Our dream is to depart the skilled workforce when our future youngsters are nonetheless younger and to journey with them around the globe collectively.

Just a few years in the past, I used to be touring with a buddy in South America and we met a household with three younger boys (I feel they had been 10, 7, and 4) who had been nearly completed with a year-long journey around the globe. Listening to about their expertise and seeing their boys so completely satisfied, practically fluent in a number of languages, and so nicely tailored to their way of life was unbelievable. Since then, we’ve been fascinated by the concept and have been following different touring households for continued inspiration.

We’re undecided what would come after that journey, however perhaps shifting to a small home within the woods and homesteading. We dream of a giant vegetable backyard, a small orchard, and acres of woods we will protect. I studied overseas in Europe in faculty and my host household had an enormous apple tree in entrance of their home. Annually, they invited the complete neighborhood to affix them as they pressed the apples into contemporary cider. It was such a enjoyable neighborhood expertise and nothing beats home made cider all yr lengthy. Each of us additionally grew up with vegetable gardens at dwelling and I’ve not too long ago had the chance to handle the neighborhood backyard at work. What may very well be higher than to eat (and drink) contemporary produce day-after-day that we’ve grown ourselves?

One other dream is shopping for an RV and touring across the nation to go to all of the nationwide parks. Robert additionally goals of seeing a sport at each Main League Baseball stadium. We began tenting throughout the pandemic and have beloved the low-cost alternative to discover the nationwide and state parks all through the mid-Atlantic.

What feels most urgent proper now? What brings you to submit a Case Examine?

Now that we’re married, we’re making an attempt to work by way of what’s subsequent for us.

Selfmade Kimchi

Due to all of our large goals, we’d like to verify we’re setting ourselves up for achievement on whichever paths we select to pursue. We positively wish to retire early, and I feel essentially the most sensible purpose for us is coastFIRE, which we perceive as saving sufficient in our retirement accounts inside the subsequent few years to permit us to cease contributing and go away the skilled workforce. We’d additionally like sufficient saved in money to have the ability to take off utterly and journey for just a few years. Once we return, we might each begin working part-time jobs in fields we love – ideally at a brewery for my husband and at a science middle for me. We’re each gaining expertise in these chosen paths now and the purpose can be to make sufficient cash working part-time to cowl our annual dwelling bills whereas having the ability to spend so much of time with our kids throughout regular day-to-day life in addition to touring.

We’re leaning in direction of coastFIRE as a result of we wish the pliability of not working full-time, however we aren’t certain our dream is to cease working utterly. From what we will see, a number of the FIRE bloggers we observe proceed to work in some capability after reaching FIRE, so if coastFIRE can get us to an identical place considerably sooner than full FIRE, then that is a crucial consideration for us!

What we’re actually scuffling with is our subsequent steps–particularly because it associated to housing–earlier than we obtain coastFIRE.

The best way we see it, we’ve got three choices for housing:

1) Proceed renting in DC:

  • We’re completely satisfied in our present hire managed, one-bedroom, month-to-month lease condo and if nothing modified, we may see ourselves persevering with to stay right here for the foreseeable future.
  • Professionals: We like our condo and our neighborhood, know the workers within the constructing and haven’t had points with administration, and have sufficient area for the 2 of us and our cats to stay comfortably. Renting additionally offers us with important flexibility over a home.
  • Cons: Lack of out of doors area, a tiny kitchen (lower than 20 sq. toes), no dishwasher, and no area for household to remain after they go to. Plus, if we develop our household, we might think about shifting right into a two-bedroom condo, which may considerably enhance our hire. Though we expect we’d have the ability to handle to remain in our one-bedroom plus den condo with one youngster.

Selfmade Bagels

2) Purchase a home within the DC metro space (in all probability the DC suburbs as we’re doubtless priced out of DC itself):

  • Final yr we had been satisfied this was the best transfer – to the purpose the place we put in a suggestion on a home in June – however we’ve been reconsidering this.
  • Professionals: Extra space to develop our household, a bigger kitchen, a yard, and area for our mother and father and siblings to remain after they go to. This might be particularly essential if we’ve got a baby. We additionally wouldn’t want to depart our present jobs.
  • Cons: Actual property prices within the space would doubtless imply maxing out our funds on a home that wants work or doesn’t meet all of our wants, shifting away from the conveniences we take pleasure in within the metropolis with out the advantages of dwelling in a rural space (decrease prices, entry to outside areas), and realizing that we dream of touring and dwelling within the woods, not dwelling within the suburbs.

3) Purchase a home within the woods:

  • One among our goals is to purchase a home the place we will create a small homestead.
  • Professionals: Residing nearer to locations we will hike and revel in time outside, spending ‘dwelling time’ outdoors, and rising a few of our personal meals.
  • Cons: Shifting out of the DC metro space would require important life and job adjustments and we’ve got a little bit of resolution paralysis concerning the actual location we wish to transfer. Additionally, if we’re contemplating beginning a household, making two giant way of life adjustments without delay – and probably shifting additional away from my mother and father – may very well be overwhelming.

What’s the most effective a part of your present way of life/routine?

We take pleasure in dwelling in DC – we love our condo, we’ve got good pals right here, and we each take pleasure in our jobs. We’re in a position to stroll to a farmer’s market, we’ve got an unlimited range of eating places at our fingertips, and we’re in a position to get to concert events, theaters, and ball video games all through public transit or strolling. Other than the COVID years, we’ve got been in a position to journey yearly. Once we’re near dwelling, we spend a number of time mountain climbing and exploring the pure areas round us.

What’s the worst a part of your present way of life/routine?

Farmers Market Haul for Sauce

The uncertainty about what’s subsequent. We’re shortly shifting right into a part of life the place our pals and siblings are getting married, shopping for homes within the suburbs, having youngsters, and settling down. Whereas we’ve gotten married and are contemplating youngsters, the considered settling down in DC is daunting.

Actual property is so costly that it may imply doubling (or extra) our month-to-month housing and commute prices. We’ve checked out a number of homes, run the numbers with a mortgage lender, talked with a realtor and pals that personal properties about their extra prices, and so forth. We’ve additionally thought-about considerably compromising on the areas the place we wish to stay, however we’re undecided we’re keen to try this.

Additionally, in contemplating the place we wish to find yourself long run, we all know we wish to transfer to a rural space finally. Whereas we each grew up within the suburbs, we think about the suburbs to be the worst of each worlds – away from the conveniences of town and with out the advantage of being surrounded by pure areas (no offense to these dwelling within the suburbs 😉).

The problem is, neither of our jobs can be keen to have us be full-time distant, which implies we would want to search out distant jobs or jobs close to wherever we select to stay. We’re each pretty new in our jobs resulting from each of us being laid off from our earlier jobs final yr (thanks, pandemic funds cuts).  I’ve been at my present job for simply over a yr and Robert at his for just below a yr – and we don’t wish to begin over once more fairly but after the stress of our sudden job hunts final yr.

That mentioned, neither of us are in our ‘dream’ jobs. I actually take pleasure in my job and the general public I work with, however I don’t like–and have some ideological variations with–the group the place I work. Regardless of the group, although, I feel the work I’m doing right here is essential and making a small however constructive influence on the world. Robert then again, works for a non-profit doing unbelievable work with some great co-workers. Nonetheless, whereas his function in donor relations is important for the group, it’s not his most well-liked sort of labor.

We additionally haven’t determined precisely the place we wish to calm down. In contemplating proximity to household, climate, value of dwelling, proximity to mountains and the ocean but in addition cities for conveniences like airports, and so forth., we’ve got just a few concepts, however none are a transparent winner.

Plus, realizing that we wish to journey full time sooner or later and that our households stay elsewhere – my mother and father are within the mid-Atlantic and Robert’s household (and the remainder of mine) are in New England – makes us extraordinarily hesitant to place down that important of an funding for the time being.

The place Rebecca and Robert Need To Be in Ten Years:

Mountain climbing in Arizona


  • We wish to be fortunately semi-retired.
  • We wish to have the ability to work the place we wish, after we need, whereas realizing that we’ve already saved sufficient for retirement and solely want sufficient cash to cowl our day by day dwelling bills.


  • I’d like to be both actively touring full-time or not too long ago returned from doing so.
  • Different goals embody dwelling on a small homestead or in an RV touring the nation.


  • If we’re working, I’d like to be working part-time someplace I can educate children about nature and the outside.
  • Robert would like to work part-time at a brewery.

Rebecca and Robert’s Funds


Merchandise Gross Earnings Deductions & Quantity Web Earnings
Rebecca’s revenue $7,725 403b contributions: $1,716.25
Pre-tax transit: $50.00
Taxes: $1,639.36
Robert’s revenue $5,333 401k contributions: $1,653.34
Healthcare: $593.17
Taxes: $582.90
Pre-tax transit: $10.00
Month-to-month subtotal: $6,823
Annual whole: $81,875

Money owed

Merchandise Excellent mortgage stability Curiosity Charge Month-to-month required fee
Automobile Mortgage $10,572 2.99% $325


Merchandise Quantity Notes Curiosity/sort of securities held/Inventory ticker Title of financial institution/brokerage Expense Ratio 
Rebecca IRA (contains rolled over 401k and TSP from earlier jobs) $81,109 I don’t contact this account 90% inventory, 10% bond together with  VTI (83%), VXUS (7%), BND (7%), BNDX (3%) Vanguard VTI 0.03%, VXUS 0.07%, BND 0.03%, BNDX 0.07%
Rebecca Taxable Funding Account $41,201 I add $1,000 month-to-month 90% inventory, 10% bond together with  VTI (83%), VXUS (7%), BND (7%), BNDX (3%) Vanguard VTI 0.03%, VXUS 0.07%, BND 0.03%, BNDX 0.07%
Robert IRA (contains rolled over 401k from earlier job) $39,868 Robert doesn’t contact this account 90% inventory, 10% bond together with  VTI (83%), VXUS (7%), BND (7%), BNDX (3%) Vanguard VTI 0.03%, VXUS 0.07%, BND 0.03%, BNDX 0.07%
Robert Taxable Funding Account $39,438 Robert provides $1,000 month-to-month 90% inventory, 10% bond together with  VTI (64%), VXUS (8%), BND (5%), BNDX (3%), VOO (18%), VYM (3%) Vanguard VTI 0.03%, VXUS 0.07%, BND 0.03%, BNDX 0.07%, VOO 0.03%, VYM 0.06%
Rebecca Financial savings Account $39,000 That is emergency fund and extra money Earns 2.25% curiosity proper now Capital One NA
Robert Financial savings Account $36,023 That is emergency fund and extra money Earns 2.25% curiosity proper now Capital One NA
Rebecca Present 403b $24,896 I max out my contributions to this account and obtain a ten% match from my employer; the choices are very restricted. If/once I go away this job, I’ll transfer this into my IRA for the higher expense ratios. QCBMPX and QCSTPX TIAA QCBMPX 0.28%, QCSTPX 0.29%
Robert Present 401k $10,160 Robert maxes out his contributions and receives 0% match for his first yr of service, then 8% per yr (beginning Feb. 2023 for him), and shall be vested after three years of service. FXAIX (80.8%), FXNAX (9.75%), FTIHX (9.44%) Constancy FXAIX 0.015%, FXNAX 0.025% , FTIHX 0.06%
Robert Taxable Funding Account 2 $3,857 Robert’s mother and father began this account when he was in highschool and simply transferred possession to him – we have to transfer it to Vanguard. The stability is at a low level given the market proper now – does it make sense to modify it to Vanguard now or wait till it recovers? Pioneer Choose Mid Cap Development Fund A Amundi 0.99%
Rebecca Checking Account $1,500 That is the place paychecks are deposited and payments are paid from Earns 0.10% curiosity Capital One NA
Robert Checking Account $1,140 That is the place paychecks are deposited and payments are paid from Earns 0.10% curiosity Capital One NA
Whole: $318,191


Car make, mannequin, yr Valued at Mileage Paid off?
Subaru Impreza 2017 $18,300 41,000 No, the quantity I owe is listed beneath part 3. Valued at quantity is predicated on KBB valuation of a typical mannequin at $16,500-18,300, however we’ve got a restricted mannequin so I assume it’s on the larger finish.
Whole: $18,300


Merchandise Quantity Notes
Hire $2,181 Contains annual renter’s insurance coverage
Journey $775 That is considerably larger than most years (esp. contemplating pandemic years) due to our marriage ceremony/honeymoon journey, touring for different weddings (that is our busiest marriage ceremony yr), and the primary time we’ve ever completed a major group journey with pals (that means we didn’t have full management over prices)
Groceries $483 Contains some cleansing provides
Automobile Fee $325
Eating places $188
Items $120 Larger than a traditional yr resulting from a number of bridal showers, bachelorette events, and weddings this yr, plus the traditional small birthday and vacation presents for household
Cable and web $119 Contains cable and web; we have to discover a option to get this down, however our constructing solely offers entry to 2 firms they usually elevate costs yearly
Family provides $110 Contains toiletries, bathroom paper, {hardware} provides, some cleansing provides, the occasional improve or organizational device, and provides for the occasional DIY challenge
Automobile Gasoline $81
Actions and leisure $80 Contains tickets (ball video games, theatre, and so forth.) and occasional tenting provides
Pet $75 Contains meals, litter, and vet visits
Garments $66
Automobile Insurance coverage $60 Paid biannually, averaged month-to-month
Taxes and different life admin $58
Automobile bills $39 Contains annual registration and parking allow, servicing, different parking, and so forth.
Laundry $33 Our constructing fees $4 per load (we grasp dry about half our garments to assist decrease prices)
Cellphone service $27 Rebecca not too long ago switched to Ting (5 gigabyte plan primarily based on noticed utilization). Robert continues to be on his household plan, however we plan to modify him to Ting too, that means this can double.
Private Objects $20 Occasional go to to a bookstore, hair cuts, and so forth.
Subscriptions $14 New York Occasions and Disney+ (Rebecca’s household shares Disney+, Netflix, and Hulu, with the others paying for these plans)
Month-to-month subtotal: $4,854
Annual whole: $58,248

Credit score Card Technique

Card Title Rewards Kind? Financial institution/card firm
Rebecca:Capital One SavorOne Money Rewards (affiliate hyperlink) Money Again Capital One/ Mastercard
Robert: Uncover  Money Again Uncover

Rebecca’s Questions For You:

  1. Selfmade Pizza with Spent Beer Grain

    Ought to we purchase a home or preserve renting?

    • If we proceed to stay in DC however don’t purchase, will we remorse not doing so if we find yourself staying within the space for one more 5+ years?
    • Different issues: if we don’t purchase now and wait till after we journey, our understanding is that it is going to be very tough/inconceivable to get a mortgage if we don’t have a gradual supply of W2 revenue. Alternatively, if we personal a home after which resolve to journey for an prolonged time, we’ll want to contemplate what to do with the home after we’re gone and think about the likelihood that touring may change our priorities and we could not wish to return to the home we personal.
  2. What’s the easiest way to save lots of for a purpose – akin to touring full-time – that may be 5-10 years away?
    • Now we have our cash in high-yield financial savings accounts, however ought to we make investments that cash since we anticipate it to be a while earlier than we’d like it?
  3. Contemplating we’ve got quite a bit in money proper now, ought to we repay our automobile although the rate of interest is low?
    • If the choice is to not purchase a home and proceed renting, an alternative choice may very well be to take a position something above our emergency fund in our Vanguard taxable funding accounts.
  4. How can we decide how a lot we should always save when the longer term is unsure?
    • We’re planning important life adjustments – youngsters, shopping for a home/RV, touring full-time, and so forth. How will we all know when what we’ve saved is sufficient? How quickly would possibly that be (the earlier the higher 😊)?
  5. With us being so younger, how can we probably estimate how a lot cash we’ll want in retirement as a way to really feel snug leaving our full-time jobs within the skilled workforce?
  6. Is there anybody on this neighborhood that has transitioned (with youngsters or not) to full-time journey?
    • Any steerage on how a lot to save lots of and easy methods to know while you’re able to take the leap can be a lot appreciated!
  7. What are peoples’ experiences with coastFIRE?
    • What may be some sudden challenges we should always pay attention to? And is it value pushing aside coastFIRE for just a few extra years as a way to obtain full FIRE?

Liz Frugalwoods’ Suggestions

Mountain climbing in Oregon

Rebecca and Robert are on the precipice of a brand new life and I can really feel their exuberance coming by way of the display. They wish to embrace the entire world and do all of it. I really like their enthusiasm and their want to plan. Nonetheless, lots of their questions don’t have a proper or unsuitable reply as lots of them are questions of discernment. I can’t inform them what to do with their lives, which path to decide on or whether or not that path will make them completely satisfied. I can define completely different monetary eventualities in gentle of their completely different objectives, however solely they’ll decide what to do with their money and time. And I’ve each confidence they’ll achieve this superbly! With that in thoughts, let’s dive in.

Rebecca’s Query #1: Ought to we purchase a home or preserve renting?

It relies upon.

One thing that jumps out at me are Rebecca’s repeated mentions that they don’t wish to stay within the suburbs. But, they’re contemplating shopping for a house within the suburbs. I’m wondering if this curiosity in home-buying stems from a way that they ought to purchase a home? That purchasing a home is the path to wealth constructing and correct maturity? I encourage them to interrogate their curiosity in shopping for a house since they’ve articulated that the suburbs aren’t the place they wish to stay.

Rebecca makes a salient level that it may be more durable to get a mortgage in the event you don’t have a W2 job since banks don’t appear to love or perceive FIRE (and infrequently don’t take belongings into consideration–solely incomes, which is ludicrous, however a truth). Nonetheless, once more, we’re again to the foundation challenge: why purchase a house in place you don’t wish to stay?

Might this be a rental property?

Cat studying

After all one purpose to purchase a house you don’t wish to stay in is to show it right into a rental. I’m not tremendous aware of the rental panorama within the DC suburbs, however I think about it’s in all probability fairly good given the proximity to town. If Rebecca and Robert are fascinated about buying this dwelling with the intention of turning it right into a rental, that would make a ton of sense.

They’ll have to discover the viability of this concept:

  1. How frequent are leases within the areas they’re looking to buy a house? What number of items are rented versus owned?
  2. Would they be in a House Proprietor’s Affiliation (HOA) with guidelines/restrictions concerning renting out your private home?
  3. What’s the tenant inhabitants? In different phrases, who can be fascinated about renting their dwelling?
  4. What’s market price hire for the world? Does this embody utilities, garden care, snow removing, and so forth?
  5. Would they handle the rental themselves or rent a property supervisor? If that’s the case, how a lot can they anticipate to spend?

And likewise consider these monetary issues:

  1. Mountain climbing in Shenandoah

    Will rents preserve tempo with the mortgage, taxes, insurance coverage, property supervisor charges, repairs and upkeep?

  2. What is going to your web return be every month?
  3. Do you could have sufficient money for a strong upkeep reserve (for when the roof must be changed, the boiler dies and the range breaks all in the identical month)?
  4. Do you could have sufficient money to cowl vacancies and tenant transitions?

I encourage Robert and Rebecca to dig into this analysis and see what they give you. It may be that the areas they’re focusing on are fabulous rental propositions and that this may very well be a wonderful cash-flowing enterprise for them.

If It’s Not A Rental…

If the numbers don’t pan out for this dwelling to be was a rental, the impetus to purchase appears a lot much less engaging. It’s robust to interrupt even (not to mention earn cash) in the event you promote a house quickly after buying it, so I can’t say I’d ever suggest somebody purchase a house in a spot they know they don’t wish to stay.

This Is Too Many Modifications at As soon as (IMHO)

Stepping again a bit and searching on the holistic overview Rebecca offered us with, I feel she hit the nail on the pinnacle when she mentioned, “…if we’re contemplating beginning a household, making two giant way of life adjustments without delay – and probably shifting additional away from my mother and father – may very well be overwhelming.” I 100% agree.

Rebecca and Robert are contemplating making 4 completely different seismic adjustments:

  1. Having youngsters
  2. Shopping for a house within the DC suburbs
  3. Touring full-time
  4. Shopping for a house in a rural space

As Rebecca famous, #2-4 are in battle with one another and #1 makes all the pieces extra sophisticated. Fantastic, however vastly extra sophisticated. I do know that I personally wildly underestimated how transformational having youngsters can be to my life, my time, my cash and my priorities.

Relating to Kids and Journey

Mountain climbing within the Smokies

If it had been me, I’d have the youngsters first and then see how I felt about touring with them full-time. There are households who do it with infants, however most of them have already been full-time vacationers–in different phrases, they didn’t begin touring after they had a child, they had been already touring and had a child alongside the best way. There are such a lot of unknowns on this recipe that I encourage Rebecca and Robert to get rid of/pare down as many variables as attainable forward of time.

Theoretical youngsters are compliant, completely satisfied, colic-free and sleep by way of the night time from delivery! Precise youngsters have, uh, very completely different concepts about what includes a very good time… “3am screaming get together in my criiiiiibbbbbb! Everyone’s invited as a result of I wakened all of the neighbors after pooping myself awake! WOOHOOO!! Additionally I have to eat once more. Please ignore the truth that we simply had this get together at 1am and may have it once more at 5am.”

Then there’s the query of college as soon as the youngsters are kindergarten age. There are many road-schooling/homeschooling choices, however that’s one more variable you’ll be able to’t know till you could have the youngsters. One other factor to remember is that, when the youngsters are older (say age 5+), they’ll have the ability to truly respect the travels and gained’t simply nap by way of the complete Grand Canyon. Plus, they’ll have three months off each summer time together with quite a lot of week-long holidays all through the college yr (my children have a full week off each December, February and April).

Shopping for A Rural House

That is one other space ripe for analysis for Robert and Rebecca! She famous that they “…have a little bit of resolution paralysis concerning the actual location we wish to transfer to.” Rural doesn’t imply the identical factor to everybody and it definitely doesn’t look the identical in each state/area. I encourage Rebecca and Robert to dig in on what rural means to them and what sort of property they’d like to have. Your area issues quite a bit while you go rural as a result of, not like the largely homogeneous American suburbs, rural areas range WILDLY. This can even be an opportunity to do numerous enjoyable AirBnB weekend explorations! My husband and I had a lot enjoyable traipsing round Vermont for a number of years investigating completely different areas and visiting tons of obtainable properties/properties. You’ll be able to learn my sequence documenting our search right here: The Frugal Homestead Sequence.

Mountain climbing in Arizona

I’ll additionally add that renting out a rural property is commonly a tricky proposition. It’s unlikely you’ll have the ability to money stream it, though in the event you’re happy with dropping some cash, you’ll be able to doubtless discover a caretaker-type one who will take care of the place for you in change for nominal hire. Once more, that is area dependent, however usually there isn’t as a lot infrastructure–or tenant range–for managing a rental in rural areas.

Nonetheless, in the event you purchase in a fascinating space–say, close to a ski resort or mountain climbing trails–you would possibly have the ability to AirBnB a rural place, offered you’ll find somebody native to handle your AirBnB. This appears to be the key sticking level for lots of parents I do know who wish to AirBnB a rural place–there’s nobody to wash it, flip it over and handle renter relations. That’s one of many main the explanation why we determined to not pursue placing an AirBnB spot on our property–I don’t wish to spend my days cleansing one other home!

Rebecca’s Query #2: What’s the easiest way to save lots of for a purpose – akin to touring full-time – that may be 5-10 years away?

Cat at work

Early and infrequently. I jest, however in actuality, the easiest way to economize is to just do that: reserve it. The car it’s in is at all times secondary to your capacity to not spend it. And Rebecca and Robert are doing this splendidly! Generally, in the event you anticipate needing cash inside a ~5 yr timeframe, you need it to be in both a high-yield financial savings account or one thing short-term and assured, akin to a authorities bond. You doubtless don’t wish to make investments this cash within the inventory market as a result of it’s solely attainable you possibly can lose cash in that brief timeframe. Investing is a long-term proposition that doesn’t favor pulling cash out and in of the market.

Let’s check out Rebecca and Robert’s full asset rundown:

1) Money: $77,662

Between their 4 completely different checking and financial savings accounts, they’ve $77,662. Since they solely spend $4,854 monthly (v. frugal!), this implies they’ve nearly 16 months of dwelling bills in money. This makes them overbalanced on money, which Rebecca famous. In the event that they had been focusing on having solely an emergency fund in money, they’d wish to cut back their money place to someplace between three months value of their bills ($14,562) to 6 months ($29,124).

The explanation to not preserve extreme money mendacity round is the chance value.

Money loses worth day-after-day because it doesn’t sustain with inflation. Plus, while you’re overbalanced on money, you’re lacking out on the potential funding returns you’d take pleasure in in case your cash was invested in, for instance, the inventory market or a rental property. Therefore, the crux of Rebecca’s query is whether or not or not they should preserve this a lot cash in money, which is one thing solely they’ll reply.

Think about:

Costa Rica Making Pals

In the event that they wish to purchase a home within the near-term, they’ll completely want this a lot money (and certain extra).

In the event that they wish to give up their jobs and start touring full-time within the close to time period, they’ll completely want this a lot money (and certain extra).


In the event that they wish to proceed renting for the following ~10 years and THEN retire (totally or partially) to a house within the woods and/or to full-time journey, then it’d in all probability be wisest to take a position this cash.

The place to Preserve This Cash

Undoubtedly in a high-yield financial savings account. Robert and Rebecca have their money unfold out over 4 completely different accounts, which is three too many accounts in my view. Except there’s a compelling purpose–for instance in the event that they intend to maintain their funds separate completely–I strongly counsel consolidating to ONE high-yield account. They’ve a Capital One account incomes 2.25%, however there are accounts incomes even larger percentages proper now, such because the American Categorical Private Financial savings account, which–as of this writing–earns 3.30% (affiliate hyperlink). That implies that in a single yr, their $77,662 would earn $2,563 in curiosity!! Woohoo!

2) Retirement: $156,033

Let’s see how they’re doing in line with Constancy’s Retirement Rule of Thumb:

Purpose to save lots of no less than 1x your wage by 30, 3x by 40, 6x by 50, 8x by 60, and 10x by 67.

Since Robert and Rebecca are nearly 30, they need to have 1x their mixed gross incomes, which is ($7,725 + $5,333 = 13 058) x 12 = $156,696. In gentle of that, they’re proper on monitor for conventional retirement.

3) Taxable (non-retirement) Investments: $84,496

Mountain climbing in NH

Very nicely completed! Since Robert and Rebecca have accomplished the primary three steps of economic administration:

  1. No high-interest debt
  2. A completely-funded emergency fund
  3. Maxing out their retirement accounts yearly (which in 2023 is $22,500/yr per particular person)

They correctly opened taxable funding accounts! And as Rebecca herself identified, “If the choice is to not purchase a home and proceed renting, an alternative choice may very well be to take a position something above our emergency fund in our Vanguard taxable funding accounts.” I couldn’t have mentioned it higher myself.

Expense Ratios

Rebecca and Robert get an A+ on choosing funding funds with low expense ratios. Expense ratios are the share you pay to a brokerage for investing your cash and, as they’re charges, you need them to be as little as attainable.

As Forbes explains:

“An expense ratio is an annual price charged to traders who personal mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Excessive expense ratios can drastically cut back your potential returns over the long run, making it crucial for long-term traders to pick mutual funds and ETFs with cheap expense ratios.”

In gentle of their significance to 1’s total long-term monetary well being, I encourage everybody to find the expense ratios for your entire retirement and taxable investments and make sure that they’re low! Right here’s easy methods to discover an expense ratio:

  1. Google the inventory ticker (for instance: “VTSAX”)
  2. Go to the fund overview web page
  3. Take a look at the expense ratio.

Screenshot under for reference:

And completed! Woohoo! To offer you a way of whether or not or not your investments have cheap expense ratios, the next three funds are thought-about to have low expense ratios:

  • Constancy’s Whole Market Index Fund (FSKAX) has an expense ratio of 0.015%
  • Charles Schwab’s Whole Market Index Fund (SWTSX) has an expense ratio of 0.03%
  • Vanguard’s Whole Market Index Fund (VTSAX) has an expense ratio of 0.04%

Mountain climbing in Vermont

You can too use this calculator from Financial institution Charge to find out what you’ll pay in charges over the lifetime of your investments, primarily based on their expense ratios. When you discover that your investments have excessive expense ratios, it is going to be nicely value your time to research whether or not or not you’ll be able to transfer them to lower-fee funds. This isn’t at all times attainable with employer-sponsored 401ks/403bs as you’re beholden to no matter funds your employer presents. However, it’s at all times value wanting by way of all out there funds to pick those with the bottom expense ratios.

This brings me to a different tidbit Rebecca requested about:

“Robert’s mother and father began this [investment] account when he was in highschool and simply transferred possession to him – we have to transfer it to Vanguard. The stability is at a low level given the market proper now – does it make sense to modify it to Vanguard now or wait till it recovers?”

The important thing consideration right here is the “value foundation” for this inventory. That’s what you initially paid to purchase the inventory. If the inventory is value MORE than the price foundation, that is thought-about a capital acquire and promoting it is going to be a taxable occasion. Conversely, if the inventory is value LESS than the price foundation, it’s thought-about a loss. So, if Rebecca and Robert wish to switch these shares over to a different brokerage (by way of what’s known as an ACATS), they’ll wish to first decide the price foundation and whether or not they’ll be posting a capital acquire or loss, which can decide the quantity they’ll have to pay in taxes. For extra on this, take a look at this text from Charles Schwab: Save on Taxes: Know Your Value Foundation.

Rebecca’s Query #3: Contemplating we’ve got quite a bit in money proper now, ought to we repay our automobile although the rate of interest is low?

I imply, the rate of interest on the automobile mortgage is actually low (2.99%), however the stability remaining ($10,572) can be actually low in gentle of their money place. This resolution hinges on whether or not or not they’re going to purchase a home within the close to time period. If Rebecca informed me, “We’re positively shopping for a home within the subsequent ~5 years,” then I’d say not to repay the automobile mortgage as a result of they want the money for a downpayment. My recommendation can be precisely the alternative in the event that they’re not shopping for a house within the close to time period. 2.99% is low, nevertheless it’s nonetheless cash being misplaced each month to service this debt.

Rebecca’s Query #4: How can we decide how a lot we should always save when the longer term is unsure?

Iceland Waterfalls

“We’re planning important life adjustments – youngsters, shopping for a home/RV, touring full-time, and so forth. How will we all know when what we’ve saved is sufficient? How quickly would possibly that be (the earlier the higher 😊)?”

As I famous above, these are 4 discrete objectives that contradict one another considerably and have very completely different worth tags. Once more, I counsel Robert and Rebecca spend the following few years isolating the variables:

  1. Have children (assuming you positively need children).
    • You’ll know A LOT extra about your loved ones and your objectives as soon as the infants are born.
  2. Purchase a home within the DC suburbs or don’t.
    • Decide if it may be bought now and transitioned right into a cash-flowing rental later.
  3. Analysis places to your rural homestead.
    • Decide buy costs and native or distant job alternatives.
  4. Journey or don’t.
    • Decide if the home(s) will be rented when you journey.
    • If they’ll’t be rented, this turns into a tricky proposition of paying for a house you’re not dwelling in. That math solely works in the event you’re a multi-multi-multi-multi millionaire.

When it comes to how a lot cash is required to completely FIRE, there’s debate about this, however essentially the most generally sited rule of thumb is the 4% rule. What this implies is that it is advisable have sufficient in investments to have the ability to withdraw 4% of these investments yearly to cowl your dwelling bills. Right here’s how that math would work for Robert and Rebecca:

Their bills = $58,248 yearly

It at all times comes again to what we spend, doesn’t it? That’s why I harp about the necessity to monitor your spending. It’s inconceivable to know the way a lot cash you want for retirement (or anything) in the event you don’t know the way a lot you spend. I exploit and suggest the free expense tracker from Private Capital as a result of I wish to automate all the pieces I probably can (affiliate hyperlink).

Iceland Campervan

If Robert and Rebecca wish to proceed spending $58,248 yearly (assuming will increase for inflation), they’d want an funding portfolio of ~$1,470,000 as 4% of $1,470,000 = $58,800. That is fairly fundamental, back-of-the-envelope math, nevertheless it offers a tough sense of their FIRE (monetary independence, retire early) quantity.

Their present belongings = $318,191

They’d want to save lots of and make investments one other $1,151,809 to achieve their FIRE variety of $1.47M. After all, the much less you spend every year, the decrease that quantity. Nonetheless, I at all times warning in opposition to slicing it too shut. Higher to have greater than you anticipate needing than much less! Rebecca requested how lengthy this can take to achieve and the reply is predicated on how a lot they’ll save and make investments every year. In the event that they assault it from each side of the equation–earn extra and spend much less–they’ll get there sooner.

One other Choice: CoastFIRE

Selfmade Irish Soda Bread

Rebecca mentioned they may be extra fascinated about reaching CoastFIRE versus full FIRE, which she appropriately recognized as incomes sufficient every year to cowl your entire bills, however not sufficient to contribute something extra to your retirement and taxable investments. The concept being you’ll be able to give up your full-time job and transition to one thing with manner fewer hours (and decrease pay). Then, you let your investments “coast” and proceed to develop out there till you wish to totally retire at a extra conventional retirement age.

Rebecca mentioned that neither of their jobs permit for totally distant work and so, I’m wondering in the event that they’ve thought-about discovering jobs that do? Most white-collar jobs nowadays do permit for (and even require) primarily distant work, which might be great for both full-time journey or dwelling someplace rural. 


  1. Cat 1 and a couple of

    Spend the following few years isolating your variables and refining your objectives:

    • Have children (assuming you positively need children).
      • You’ll know A LOT extra about your loved ones and your objectives as soon as the infants are born.
    • Purchase a home within the DC suburbs or don’t.
      • Decide if it may be bought now and transitioned right into a cash-flowing rental later.
    • Analysis places to your rural homestead.
      • Decide buy costs and job alternatives.
    • Journey or don’t.
      • Decide if the home(s) will be rented when you journey.
      • If they’ll’t be rented, this turns into a tricky proposition of paying for a house you’re not dwelling in. That math solely works in the event you’re a multi-multi-multi-multi millionaire.
  2. Quite a lot of your questions can’t be answered till you realize the solutions to those 4 questions.
  3. Don’t fret–you’re doing all the best issues to allow your objectives. Proceed:
    • Residing under your means
    • Maxing out your retirement accounts
    • Investing in your taxable funding accounts
  4. Think about consolidating your entire money into one high-yield financial savings account
  5. Decide to researching all the avenues we mentioned right now and benefit from the course of!
    • You’re at an thrilling juncture and I can’t wait to see what you resolve to do subsequent!

Okay Frugalwoods nation, what recommendation do you could have for Rebecca? We’ll each reply to feedback, so please be at liberty to ask questions!

Would you want your personal Case Examine to look right here on Frugalwoods? Apply to be an on-the-blog Case Examine topic right here. Rent me for a personal monetary session right here. Schedule an hourlong name with me right here, refer a buddy to me right here, or electronic mail me with questions (liz@frugalwoods.com).

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