The Road To Early Retirement – Part 3

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Navigating along this winding road leading to financial freedom, we check back in with the savvy millennials who have laid out the path for their cohorts to follow. Keep saving your pennies kids.

Excerpted from: Millennial Revolution – How We Got Here, After The Crash

2010

After the happy-go-lucky-fun-times of 2008/2009, I’m finally feeling relaxed and getting back into the rhythm of things.

Work is going so well, I decide to acquire a comb! Because unlike when I worked for “The Gulag”, I actually have time to shower, brush my teeth, and comb my hair. Finally, I’m starting to look and smell like me, instead of a pile of garbage disguised to look like a human being.

My new boss, Scott, is great. He leaves Lindor chocolates for us on his desk, takes us out for team lunches, even invites us to his house for summer BBQ’s. And unlike my old boss, he actually calls me by my real name, instead of “What’sHerFace”.

One day, I come home to find that Wanderer has scattered rose petals on the floor, placed vanilla-scented candles on every surface, and even set up a massage table in the middle of our living room.

After giving me a nice, long, aromatherapy massage, he gets down on one knee, and says: ‘this is what your life will be like from now on. Marry me?”

I blink. Once, twice. Three times. I’m having trouble seeing. What is this strange, unfamiliar wet stuff in my eyes?

But just as I’m about to answer “Yes! Yes! A thousand times yes!” our 70-year-old half-naked landlord bursts into the room in his tighty-whities yelling “HEY! NO CANDLES IN THE HOUSE!”

And that’s the story of how we got engaged…

The next week, we start planning for a big, elaborate wedding. But while we’re struggling to choose between Chiavari or Bentwood chairs for the reception (on the form, I write in “who gives a shit” but that just makes the wedding planner mad), I throw my hands up, and decide fuck it, we’re eloping. So instead we go to Aruba and choose a simple beachside wedding package, consisting of Wanderer, me, and the giant pile of money we’re NOT going to blow on a pointlessly extravagant wedding. To keep my in-laws from disowning us, we agree to let my mother-in-law invite whomever she wants to the reception back home.

On our big day, our perpetually frazzled wedding planner gets all the details wrong…from the flowers (we asked for lilies, we got hydrangeas), to the color scheme (we asked for red, we get gray), to even the cake (carrot cake?!? What kind of monster are you?).

But as I stare into Wanderer’s big doe-like eyes and fuzzy caterpillar brows, I think “Who cares”? I’m marrying my best friend, and we are going build one kickass empire.

We are married. On a beach, at sunset, overlooking the Caribbean. I’ve married the boy who’s been my lab partner and BFF since 2nd year university. This turns out to be my best life decision ever.

And now that we’re married and saving up for a house, I actually start to dig into our expenses.

“Hey, do you know we’re spending $500 a month JUST on beer?” I ask Wanderer.

“But beer is delicious! We can’t just NOT drink beer. That would be insane.”

“Yeah, but you know they have beer in STORES right? Why can’t we buy beer and drink it at home?”

Wanderer looks at me, confused for a second. “I…don’t…know.”

Around here we also just woke up and realized that the ritual of paying a cover charge to get groped by random strangers who are 80% Axe body spray, also known as “clubbing” is incredibly stupid. So our food budget drops effortlessly by $500/month ($300 saved by buying beer at the supermarket rather than bars, $200 saved by no longer going clubbing) . YEEHA!

Spending:

Category Cost / Month Comments
Rent $800
Food/entertainment $1700
Bus pass/utilities/misc $300
Vacation $154.17
Wedding/Honeymoon $833.33 $10,000 total for that year which includes: Aruba wedding package: $1000, Aruba honeymoon vacation package: $7000, Wedding dresses: $100+$300 (bought from an outlet),Wanderer’s suit: $400,Hair and makeup, photographer, misc: $1200,Reception: $0 (Actual cost $10,000 but it was covered by cash gifts from guests)
Savings $8329

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Miraculously, I managed to somehow not fuck up at work, and get another promotion. At the end of the year, this is what our balance sheet looked like.

Category Amount Comments
Combined income (after tax) $145,400
Total Spend $45,450
Savings $99,950
Savings Rate 69%
Total Net Worth $380,250

nw_2010

2011

Now that we’re married, it’s time to act like real adults and start shopping for a house.

We look around the neighbourhood and find one that’s decent. It’s a semi with no parking, low ceilings, and an unfinished basement, but I do like the kickass backyard and balcony.

We ask for the price and the listing agent tells us “$750,000”.

“WHAT? But it doesn’t even have parking!”

“If you don’t want it, I have eight other buyers lined up.”1

And it’s not just this house. Let me tell you a story about “Devil House”.

You see, Devil House, is this dilapidated, two story house we see every day on our way to work. To say that it’s a fixer upper would be the biggest understatement ever. Why? Because DH wasn’t just falling over, it was inhabited by a man who would have made Charles Manson look normal. One time we walked by and saw the word UFO smeared over all his windows with what we could only hope was red paint. Another time he put up signs all over his yard ranting about the government trying to steal his eyes. And one time we walked by and saw him digging a bunch of six foot-deep holes all over his front and back yard. (This is NOT a joke. This actually happened.)

So you can imagine our shock, when, one day, we see a sign on the door that says “FOR SALE”.

“Who in their right mind would buy this house?” I ask Wanderer, incredulous.

“I bet some idiot’s going to buy it for $500k”

I burst out laughing. “No one’s THAT dumb.”

One week later, SOLD. $500k.

“WHAT?!?”

And to prove my point, a flipper moves in, slaps some dry wall and hardwood floors on it, and sells it for $800K two months later.

The floors were uneven. There was no parking. And a cursory home inspection would’ve revealed that the basement was a portal to Hell. But of course, no one bothered with an inspection because they had to drop all conditions to participate in the ensuing bidding war.

To this day, we have no idea how many bodies the new owners found under the floorboards.

Oh, and speaking of dead bodies I see every day, my team narrowly escapes the guillotine during a massive re-org, and we move to a new department.

Things are eerily quiet when we walk into the new office. No one is laughing. No one is smiling.

People find it strange that we joke during meetings. They find it strange our boss talks to us in human language, instead with barks and growls. They start whispering amongst each other whenever we are around. I suspect this is NOT a good sign.

Right around now we decide to take a break from all the fruitless, idiotic house shopping, and go on a vacation to Las Vegas. I have a blast. Literally.

When I come back from our trip, I learn that I have a new Director. She’s constantly mad, and with her long shaggy hair and sizeable canines, she kind of looks like a dog. So I call her MadDog. And my boss Scott has, somehow in the course of 2 weeks, gained a whole bunch of gray streaks in his hair. The reason why is obvious, as he is being constantly barked at by MadDog.

One day, he announces our work is quadrupling. Orders are coming from the top that our performance, which had racked up awards in our old department, was now somehow “unacceptable”, and we now needed to submit weekly reports detailing why we shouldn’t be immediately fired and replaced.

And just when I was starting to like this place…

Spending:

Category Cost / Month Comments
Rent $800
Food/entertainment $1700
Bus pass/utilities/misc $300
Vacation $583.33 Vegas, Cruise, Orlando for $7000
Savings $10575

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And at the end of the year…

Category Amount Comments
Combined income (after tax) $167,500 Wanderer gets a second promotion. Work is getting hellish for me, with lots of overtime, but at least our salary goes up.
Total Spend $40,600
Savings $126,900
Savings Rate 76%
Total Net Worth $507,150

nw_2011

At this point, our cash in the bank has peaked above half a million bucks, and we start saying, “Holy crap, this is kind of a lot of money.” The plan was always to buy a house, considering it’s the “grownup” thing to do, but… considering how my work is quickly morphing into “Gulag 2.0” and the housing market is just getting more and more idiotic, we start searching for better options.

And one fateful morning while browsing finance blogs, we idly scroll by one that catches our eye.

“Hmm…” Wanderer says. “The Greater Fool…”

Yin-Yang-symbol copyHarley 1

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