10 Things of Thankful

TenThingsBannerI’ve been reading other bloggers post their 10 Things of Thankful which made me so happy to read. I am thankful for all the typical things you are thankful for: health, my husband, my family and friends, my job, and freedom. Here are different things that I’m grateful for.

Money

I remember being sick right after college when I had a full-time job. The job paid little so when I went to the drug store to buy medicine, I distinctly remember having to buy the generic cold medication because I could not afford the premium brands. I felt very defeated at that moment, having worked my ass off and knowing that I deserved better. And I vowed never to be in that position again. It took me some time to get here, but I want for nothing because I fought and continue to fight to be compensated for my true worth. Takeaway: Don’t ever settle!

Potato Head

I’m thankful I never owned a TV nor am I a couch potato because watching TV is mindless, when you could be educating yourself or being productive. I grew up in libraries. Books were my best friend when I felt alone. Books were my ice-cream when I felt depressed. Books inform and educate, and will make you better. Takeaway: Ditch the TVs!

No or Low Technology

I am glad I grew up in an age where we didn’t have cell phones. I reminisce on the days when we were beholden to our word and meeting up at a certain time meant meeting up at that time! No texting that we were running 15 minutes late. It makes me sad that we can no longer enjoy each others’ company, that iPhones and iPads are so prevalent, that it’s now more important to capture the moment than to experience it fully. Takeaway: Live for the moment, not for the picture!

UC Berkeley

I used to think I had a great college experience, but that was because I didn’t have anything to compare it to. In retrospect, going to Cal was brutal. Organic Chemistry, Physics, Physiology. And don’t think it was just the hard sciences. My English courses (#1 English Department in the country) were just as challenging. Oh how I cried! My college experience taught me a lot about competition and persistence. After I graduated I felt like I could do anything I set my mind to. And I wear the scars with pride. Takeaway: Subject yourself to challenge and competition. It makes you stronger.

700 square feet

I feel very liberated living in a cheap (comparatively for San Francisco) 1-bedroom apartment with my husband. We don’t have a lot of stuff, nor are we emotionally tied to any of it. I’m actually very grateful that we currently don’t have mortgage payments. It’s very freeing to know that you can just pick up and go, and not have to worry about material things or finances. Takeaway: Stop buying more shit. Reduce, reuse, recycle.

Loaves and Fishes Jesus

Selling a home has got to rank as one of the top most stressful life events, right behind getting married or moving across the country. We spent all weekend at my condo, painting, cleaning, staging.

What drives me nuts is when people guarantee a deadline, then don’t meet it. Maybe I don’t completely understand because I’m not a contractor, but if I’m constantly late, then I’d probably build a buffer into my timeline and say, “Well hell, I typically don’t deliver on-time, so instead of being done on Wednesday, let’s just say I won’t be done until next Wednesday for good measure!”

Right? Wouldn’t you want to underpromise and overdeliver? Isn’t that the basic tenet of contracting?

But no. Come Friday night, we’re nowhere near done. Come Saturday when I’m expecting my real estate agent to come by, we’re nowhere near done. It’s now Monday and we’re still not finished.

Throughout the weekend, I started hyperventilating, thinking, what would Jesus do? That’s my Lenten promise, to take a deep breath, calm down, and think of Jesus. But every time I thought of Jesus, I thought about the time he went to the synagogue and saw that people had turned the place into a Biblical Walmart. He opened up a can of whoop ass and went postal! He was so mad at these people for disrespecting the temple of God, for taking advantage of the poor, and profiting off of the lowly.

And I thought yeah. Jesus got mad and I can get mad too, because I feel taken advantage of. This isn’t Monopoly money we’re talking about. This is tens of thousands of cold hard cash. This is my blood, sweat, and tears. This is the only home that I own, this is my savings. And people are telling me they’re going to be done on a certain day and they’re not. So every single day we’re late is money down the F*ing toilet.

So yesterday my husband Dean’s telling me to chill out, it will get done when it gets done, and I went all Jesus on him. Not loaves and fishes Jesus, but protesting, tirading, anti-Walmart Jesus.

“WHAT PART OF LOSING MONEY DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND?!” I screamed in my sacred Lenten voice.

That didn’t help any. I tried to simmer down. I walked out of the apartment and downstairs into the backyard (which also needs work, but I cannot even deal with that right now). I walked back upstairs into the apartment and sat down on the couch, twitching with subdued rage. Since I can’t assist with the painting and I cleaned everything I could possibly clean, I’m completely useless. I pick up our book club book, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, hollering at Dean, “Well I’m just going to sit here and read my book club book about a man who murders his wife. You let me know when it’s time to go home.”

Money Monday: We Retired Early

My friend and fellow Burner, Amazing Affinity, has recently retired and gosh, am I envious. Despite her “life of leisure,” she is a fervent supporter of the arts and has been a rockstar volunteer for the Black Rock Arts Foundation and the Burning Man Project. She is such an asset to our community that she was recently bestowed the honor of having an award named after her: the Affinity Award. The Burning Man Project vision hopes to lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a sense of culture, community and cultural engagement. Affinity is this vision in human form. She never ceases to amaze me! I admire her so much, I asked if she would inspire us with her advice on how to retire early just like her! Here is her well thought-out post.

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My friend Catherine asked me to write a post for Money Monday because my husband and I each retired at 63, and she thought you might like to know how we did it.

When I met my husband I was 45 and about $45,000 in debt including a $5,000 student loan from law school that had blossomed thru the years to about $17,000. The first thing he encouraged me to do was make a debt plan and start making double payments. I was only making $57,000 at the time so we went on a “paying the debt off binge”. It took me about 3 years to get out of debt. And the only debt I have had since is a mortgage; I use credit cards for purchases but pay them off every month .

The second year of our relationship, 1994, an apartment became available in our neighborhood. We lived on Russian Hill so it had never occurred to me that I might be able to buy there. It was a walk up (70 stairs) and a tenants in common building so they required 25% down on the price of $150,000, so we each had to come up with $20,000, and I was in debt still and he did not have any savings. We each borrowed the money from our friends and family for the down payment, and paid them back over time, and sold the apartment in 2006 for $550,000. Let’s be clear that was luck, we bought at the bottom of the market and sold at the top of the market, everyone would love to do that.

But what was not luck was our being satisfied with our one bedroom apartment for 12 years. The first time my best friend came to visit she said, “This is nice, but it is a starter apartment, you will want a larger apartment or house soon.” We replied, “No, we intend to live here as long as we can, and love it, we want to retire early.” “We do not want to overbuy a home, then if the market plunges we will not be in over our heads.” I also suggest you pay the mortgage off if you can. Then you have the option of living in it or selling it to move where you might retire, and use the money to buy elsewhere.

And I think the best thing we did was take full advantage of our 401(k)s. When I was paying off my debt I only made a deferral to the extent of the matching contribution my company was making. But after my debt was paid I maxed out my 401(k) every year. If you can afford to put it into the Roth portion of your 401(k) then do that. If you make a Roth contribution you will not receive a tax deferral for your contribution but all of the gains you earned will come out tax free. There are two kinds of “free money” out there; the matching contribution to your 401(k) plan and the Roth gains that are never taxed. Take the most advantage possible of these features.

I know you already know all of this, but let me tell you what a joy it is to be retired, and traveling and not worrying about work while on vacation. Good luck.

So my early retirement tips are:

1. No debt except your mortgage.
2. Don’t overbuy your home,
3. Pay into your 401(k) as much as possible, especially in your early years, but always at least to the extent of any matching contribution.
4. My final suggestion is that you see any financial windfalls (bonuses, etc.) as ways to get ahead rather than splurge. Take 75% of the windfall and save it, or if it is from your job you may be able to put it in your 401(k) if you had not maxed it out that year. And then take the 25% and splurge.

It has been fun talking about money, feel free to contact me if you have questions: affinitymingle@gmail.com

I also have a plus size fashion blog and I would love for you to stop by and check it out if you have an interest or know someone who might enjoy it. It is more of a D.I.Y., how to make it work and a resource blog than a true fashion blog. http://affatshionista.com/

I Found Your New Apartment

Is anyone looking for an apartment in the city? Because I while away a portion of my free time assessing apartment and home prices, I found this 2-bedroom, 2-bath in Potrero Flats for $2700 on Craigslist. What a deal, right?! Open house starts tomorrow.

If any of you readers pounces on this, I expect a finder’s fee!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since we’re on the topic, I am totally torn on whether or not to sell my condo. I need to put together a decision matrix! There are pros and cons to both options. If I could extract the equity from our condo, the world is our oyster in terms of buying a new place. But with that money un-touchable, we are constrained in our choices. I need to win the lottery.

The Unsettled Home

I’ve been super-frazzled lately because we’re going through a remodel. It’s a remodel that we don’t welcome, but mandated by the apartment complex. All of the bathrooms and kitchens for every unit are being remodeled. Bathtub is being replaced by a standing shower. All the tile will be caca brown. All the sinks and cabinets will be replaced and will look consistent throughout the building. In my opinion, the remodeled units look worse than before. I like the dilapidated, but unique antiquated character that we had.

So our bathroom is now being remodeled. We’ve been using the bathroom in a unit down the hall. I feel like I’m back in the dorms. You have to wear your robe, lock your apartment door, unlock the door of the other unit. In the middle of the night when you have to tinkle, same process. It’s maddening.

I give the bathroom model 2 weeks, then the kitchen remodel another 2 weeks. So unsettling.

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