Ideas from other FIers

Sometimes FIers send us great stories and ideas. Here are three. Tell us yours.

Long-time FIers Mike and Linda Lenich wrote: We just finished our Monthly Tabulation for February 2009.  We were very surprised to discover this is Monthly Tab #200.  200!?!??  Wow… 200 Monthly Tabulations already.  And this and the previous 199 Tabs continue to inform and help align our focus.  Each month, there is a new insight, be it one more dot on the Wall Chart that illuminates a new pattern, or a realization we’re still managing to spend less then we take in (even with our move from Chicago to Ludington, MI).

Andy Mcrae and his wife Chris just found a novel way to get the graph paper for their wall chart (some people get stumped and stuck on this one issue: where to get the big sheets). He had an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of graph paper enlarged by a local print shop.

And Jane Dwinell, who we’ve cited before, wrote this:

I’ve always asked myself my own version of the 3 questions which goes like this: this thing I want to buy — do I really need it? this thing I want to buy — can I get it another way (borrow, buy used, do without, substitute, make it myself, etc)? this thing I want to buy — does it fit in with my values?

Because my husband and I were always self-employed at various occupations at various times, it was always a small nightmare to figure out our real hourly wage, so I basically gave up. We also had various professions that had very low overhead, and that we enjoyed, so our expenses didn’t change drastically when we stopped working.

We are dealing with life changes, however, that we didn’t really anticipate financially when we were planning for FI3 — like that we would live part time abroad, and that our young adult children would (one of them, anyway) pay their share of household expenses, and then both move out (planned for this coming May).

The other thing that happened was just this fall when we had a major landslide on our property that cost us $105,000, cash. That got rid of most of our cushion and our cache (but we had it!!!!) This, certainly, was nothing we could ever anticipate — it was a freak of nature thing — and I am forever grateful that we did have the cash and the financial sense to not be completely freaked out about it. Though it has changed our possibilities, and we’ll have to build up our cushion/cache again.

I also feel grateful that our capital is all in Vermont bonds given the vagaries of the market this year, and that both our Vermont home and our France home are paid for, and in Vermont we have enough land to grow a serious amount of food, have firewood to keep us warm, and could get away with not having a car at all, if need be.

Children moving out will change our expenses but, it’s hard for me right now to know exactly what they will be…. obviously, food will go down, electricity will drop some as our son tends to stay up half the night on the computer, and water use will drops as he’s the one who likes long, hot baths….. our property taxes will probably go down as, in VT, they are based on household income, which will drop. Some costs will stay the same — insurance, for example — and now will be divided among 2 people, not 3. We’ll have to get out another six months or a year to really know what our costs will be (and this info is all from tracking, not from the questions).

Of course, with children moving out, we might choose to live in France full time and rent our house here, which would also change things.

What I’ve realized is that you can’t really anticipate everything, but just having the strong basis of financial intelligence goes a long way in guess-timating, and in reducing stress. We really don;t want to go back to work, but would rather try and reduce expenses instead. We can always cut out skiing :^) if we have to. And in the worst case scenario, sell the boat in France (though this isn’t the best time to do that…. plus that would be a very sad thing).

I would recommend to others to have, perhaps, a one-year cushion, instead of six-months. Of course, our $105,000 landslide was a 4-5 year cushion, so that may not be the answer either.

I guess “don’t be surprised by anything” is the bottom line.


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