I’ll tell the story of learning and embracing FIRE, but here’s the where-we-are-now post where we talk about the numbers.
Income: Joseph had a small raise this year (he’s been at the same job for 8 years), and the hourly rate for 40 hours a week (no over time allowed) is $27, for an annual salary of $56,000. Of course, taxes are withheld…
Danielle stays home during the day and works about 7 hours a week for a job that has an annual pay stipend of $10,000 before taxes.
The three investment properties we currently have bring in $10,000/year after calculated expenses such as vacancies, repairs, taxes, insurance, and mortgage payment. We do not use any of this money and it simply stays in a money market account at our bank until we can reinvest it in our next property.
Expenses: here’s the key—our monthly income is ~$4,400 after taxes and health insurance withholding (not including the investment property returns since we never touch those). Of that amount, $1,190/month goes directly into our money market account (OOS/OOM, out of sight/out of mind account!) that we never touch except to invest. Some of the money is set aside for our FSA through the employer for medical bills and some is donated through a program for matching donations through the employer to local charities (roughly $80/month).
$940/month goes into a separate account (OOS/OOM) at another bank that is set aside for tithe (currently $320/month), sponsorships ($80/month), life insurance (we have term at about $90/month), car insurance (about $500/year), and small savings for medical expenses or other unexpected expenses.
Our monthly budget of what’s remaining, and what actually shows up in our main checking account is: $2,099. Our set expenses, mortgage, phone for Danielle (Joseph has one through work), gas/electric/water/trash, internet, and gift savings for birthdays (we transfer to savings), is set at: $1,234/month. Leaving us with roughly $216/week for gasoline, car repair fund, pet costs (vet, food, etc), groceries, and “miscellaneous”—which includes clothes, shoes, eating out, toys, any other purchases.
Of the original combined gross income of $75,000, our annual checking account expenses is about 1/3 of that income.
Of the original combined gross income of $75,000, our annual checking account expenses is about 1/3 of that income. If we include the savings account that pays for insurance and tithe, then our expenses are at 49% of our gross income.
That raise I mentioned? We immediately changed our direct desposits so that the entire amount of the raise and then some goes to our money market account for investing. In fact, we miscalculated and have ourselves a pay cut in our checking account (due to additional contributions to FSA and matching employer contributions as well).
With a family of 5, our grocery budget is $440/month. It’s tight. Some months, it feels crazy. We do it to ourselves! BUT—we are potentially in range of retiring in 5 years. We live without so much, and we live in a small 900 sq ft house so that we can save. We want time with our family more than anything fancy.
One way we make it work is that we have set our sight on a goal and our competitive spirit sees it as a challenge to live on very little and save a lot!