Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Successful Maine Trip

Well, the trip to Maine was a success.  We took a long weekend and opened the cabin for the summer.  Opening the cabin requires a bit of work, but it's pretty fun.  And we had plenty of time left over for relaxation.

First of all, we had to de-winterize everything.  The well pump started right up, which was great.  The pipes, toilets, dishwasher, and washing machine are all winterized using non-toxic RV antifreeze.  Getting it out of the pipes and toilets is simple - just add water.  The dishwasher and washing machine have to be run once with nothing in them to get all the antifreeze out.

Next, there was plenty of cleaning to do just to make things shine.

Afterward, we took care of the outside.  We put a new tarp on the carport.  It looks a lot better than the old one, which was getting ratty.  We also put the dock in the water.  That requires the most heavy lifting out of any of the jobs, but we managed with a little teamwork.  Finally, we put out all of the lawn furniture.

That was enough for one day, so we made our way over to Suds Pub for some drinks and a nice dinner.

Suds!  Our favorite place.

The next day we wrapped up the cleaning and a few little jobs, then got the kayaks out for some fun on the water.  It was a little windy and choppy, but still a blast.

Finally, we settled down with a couple of (very full) glasses of wine.

To a job well done!
Oh, and we also found that we have a new neighbor - a muskrat.  Given that the pond has had a lot more lily pads over the past few years, and muskrats eat water lilies and cattails, I'm happy to see the little guy (or gal).

Anyway, now that we're back from the trip, I'll be back on schedule and get some more posts flowing.  Until next time!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Favorite Spots - Gorham NH 4th of July

Since we're busy road-tripping to Maine, and I won't be doing any blogging while we're there, here's one I was planning to save for later...

Gorham, NH does their 4th of July celebration right!  They put on a fun parade with lots of old timey fire trucks and such, plus candy for the kids.  There's a carnival on the town common with rides, games, and all that.  The town is usually pretty sleepy, but it's completely hopping when this is going on.

At night they put on the best fireworks show I've ever seen.  The coolest part about it is that Gorham is surrounded completely by mountains, so a few seconds after the fireworks go off you get an echo of the boom.  It rumbles for what feels like forever.

Note: This is NOT a paid advertisement or anything like that.  We're just talking about a place we like.  
By the way, these pictures are from our 2016 visit.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Going to Maine!

We're headed north to open the cabin for the summer!  I will follow up with a post about the process.  I can't wait to hit the road.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Step 4 - Sell The House In Virginia

Step 4 of The Plan is selling my house in Virginia and using the proceeds to pay off the mortgage on the house in Maine.  This will allow me to begin retirement without a mortgage, making my monthly housing costs very low.  Here's how the rough, back-of-a-napkin math works out:

I bought my house in Virginia for about $180k back at the beginning of 2013.  I put down 20% in order to avoid PMI.  For a while I paid extra on the mortgage, but eventually I started paying the normal amount and investing the rest.  So as of the writing of this post, I owe about $132k at 3.5% interest.

I bought the house in Maine in 2015.  After a gift of equity to cover the downpayment, I ended up with a $100k loan at 3.875% interest.  As of this post, I owe a little under $96k.

My idea was to look for the point at which these numbers would intersect, making it so that selling the house in Virginia would pay off the one in Maine.  Of course, predicting this perfectly is impossible since without a crystal ball, it's impossible to know what the house will sell for years from now.  So the assumption I'm going with is that the value will remain flat, and I'll be able to sell it for exactly what I paid.  It's a stab in the dark, but I feel like it's not overly optimistic or pessimistic.  I'm also assuming no extra payments on either mortgage.

So, if I sold the house for $180k, I'd end up paying $10,800 in realtor commission (figuring on 6%).  That leaves me with $169,200.  If I sold it today, paying off the $132k I owe on the loan, I'd be left with $37,200, which obviously wouldn't pay off the $96k Maine mortgage.

Using the magic that is an amortization calculator, I can look into the future a bit and see the following:

DateVA MortgageCleared From SaleME MortgageLeftover $$$Comment
June 2017$132,000$37,200$96,000-$58,800Definitely not yet.
June 2020$119,400$49,800$89,700-$39,900Some people buy cars for that much.
June 2023$105,800$63,400$82,800-$19,400Ok, could pull that from savings.
June 2026$90,700$78,500$75,100$3,400Woohoo!

That puts me slightly in the positive right when my kiddo is set to graduate from high school.  That $3,400 would go a long way toward funding an Appalachian Trail thru-hike.  Now let's imagine that the value of the Virginia house is $200k, which is about what Zillow says it is today.

DateVA MortgageCleared From SaleME MortgageLeftover $$$Comment
June 2017$132,000$56,000$96,000-$40,000Still nope.
June 2020$119,400$68,600$89,700-$21,100I could probably do that, but why not wait a little?
June 2023$105,800$82,200$82,800-$600Close enough!
June 2026$90,700$97,300$75,100$22,200Yowza!

Ok, I like those numbers even better, but I'm not going to bank on them since they're assuming my house sells for $20k more than what I paid.  But essentially hitting the crossover point three years early looks pretty nice.  Now, what if things went sour and it sold for $20k less than I paid?

DateVA MortgageCleared From SaleME MortgageLeftover $$$Comment
June 2017$132,000$18,400$96,000-$77,600Heck no!
June 2020$119,400$31,000$89,700-$58,700Nope!
June 2023$105,800$44,600$82,800-$38,200We're in overpriced car territory again, at least.
June 2026$90,700$59,700$75,100-$15,400Well, darn.  But not horrible.

That definitely wouldn't be ideal but it wouldn't be insurmountable either.  I could pull that out of savings if I absolutely needed to.  Or at least make up a chunk of that by selling off all of the furniture, electronics, and such that I won't be bringing up to Maine with me.  Another alternative would be to start tossing an extra $125/month or so on one of the mortgages to make it even out, but being that it's just an estimate, and a pessimistic one at that, it's probably not worth it.

So anyway, as long as my neighborhood doesn't end up a smoking crater, I should be within striking distance of making the two mortgages cancel each other out.  And I will likely even have a little something leftover to put toward step 5 (which will be coming soon).

Until next time!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Favorite Spots - Suds Pub

Time for a little diversion.  Let's talk about one of our favorite spots...

One of our favorite places to go while we're in Maine is the Suds Pub.  It's this fantastic little pub in the basement of an old Victorian style inn.  They pour their drinks tall, the food is great, and our favorite bartender has a wicked sense of humor.  It's one of those interesting spots where tourists and locals collide.  We always feel very welcome there and really love the atmosphere.  The prices are great, aside from the lobster roll (but that's probably just there for tourists anyway).

"Hoot Night" is always an adventure.  That's their open mic night.  There are some talented folks around.  There are some other folks too.  Either way it's a good time.

They have a cocktail-style Ms. Pac-Man / Galaga machine there that gets my geek juices flowing.  One of my hobbies, other than hiking, is fixing old arcade and pinball machines.  My lovely girlfriend likes to gather up as many quarters as she can find in her purse and give them to whatever little kid is playing on the machine.

Note: This is NOT a paid advertisement or anything like that.  We're just talking about a place we like.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Win A Free Hiking Pillow

I decided to try out doing an Amazon Giveaway for a chance to win one of those hiking pillows I like so much.  I'm hoping it will get some more people checking out this site, but I also wanted to share it with those of you who are already reading.

So here is the link for a chance to win a free Topnaca Ultralight Hiking Pillow -https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/5a410a93c2eec9f9

No purchase necessary.  You have to tweet a particular message for a chance to win.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Step 3 - Retire

Ah... retire.  The word has such a nice ring to it.  It is the end of a career and the beginning of freedom.  It's also step 3 of The Plan.

On the surface, this one might seem like the simplest of the steps, but there is a lot more to it than you might think.  How can you make sure you're ready, both financially and mentally?  What about the logistics - how exactly does one retire?  Don't you have to be old to retire?  What about all those articles out there saying that Gen-X and millennials will never be able to retire?

Slow down there, Sparky.  Let's tackle the questions one at a time.

How can you make sure you're ready, both financially and mentally?  

Now, I'm not a financial genius, nor would I ever claim to be.  But I read.  I read a lot.  And the best article I've found to set the stage on how to be sure you're ready financially for retirement is this classic Mr. Money Mustache article -

I'll wait right here while you read it.


Ok, back already?  Good.  So, let's summarize for the person in the back of the class who didn't actually go read it.  You need to have 25x your yearly expenses saved and invested in order to attain what is commonly known as the 4% safe withdrawal rate.  I'm slightly more conservative than that, so I'm hoping for a 3.5% withdrawal rate, which would be 28x my yearly expenses.  You'll have to decide for yourself what number makes you comfortable.

Once you hit your number, you're ready to retire, at least financially.  [Side note:  We'll talk more on this blog some other day about some of the things I'm doing to try to hit my number faster, but for now let's just say that there are two basic ways to speed up the process - save more money and/or reduce your expenses.]  Financial readiness isn't the only readiness you have to worry about though.  What about mentally?  Are you ready to give up the career, or are you one of those folks who think you will die if you stop working?

You need to be honest with yourself.  If your career defines you, maybe you should keep working.  For me, it doesn't.  I love what I do, but I love my hobbies and interests more.  If the choice is working or hiking, I'll choose hiking every time.

What about the logistics - how exactly does one retire?

I'm still figuring this part out.  Hey, if I had all the answers I'd be retired already, right?  😏

As far as I can tell, you need to make sure you have your ducks in a row financially, including figuring out how you're going to access the money you'll use to support yourself in retirement and what you'll do about healthcare.  Then you need to work out a date with your employer.

My expectation is that I will make sure I have the finances in order, then give my employer a few months notice.  Since I am planning on retiring early, I'm not sure I will call it "retirement" when talking to them, but I will let them know that I am moving to Maine after a certain date, and help them find and hire my replacement.  I will want to ensure that I am not leaving them in the lurch, and will want to treat them as fairly as they have treated me.

Don't you have to be old to retire?

No.  Many people retire early.  Look at all the financial independence blogs that exist.  Heck, even my parents both retired before traditional retirement age.

What about all those articles out there saying that Gen-X and millennials will never be able to retire?

I don't think there is anything preventing a particular generation from retiring.  I think it's about choices.  If you are determined to make it happen and make enough money to be able to save some of it, you can eventually retire.  If you want to spend every penny you earn (or more) to drive fancy cars, eat dinner out every night, go on expensive vacations every year, and live in a McMansion, you probably won't be able to retire.  If you want to major in underwater basket weaving and never make any money in the first place, you probably won't be able to retire either.

Thanks for reading.  Keep an eye out for step 4.