020 - Entry Level Middle Class Lifestyle and a FI approach to Insurance

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1 - 26 Jonathan Mendonsa Ok Choose FI welcome to Episode 20 of the Choose F-I radio podcast on this episode today. Brad and I are going to peel back the curtain and show you exactly what two guys living an entry level middle class lifestyle while pursuing financial independence. We're going to show you exactly what that lifestyle and budget actually looks like. Welcome to the show. Hi Brad. Welcome back to the studio.
26 - 29 Brad Barrett Hey Jonathan. This should be a good one. Yeah. Really looking forward to it.
29 - 61 Jonathan Mendonsa Same here. Now we have actually had a little bit of a change for our audience. You know if they if you remember for our first 10 episodes we basically it was just me and you man just unpack and content and then we we took we took a little bit of a step away from that and we moved to this really probably frankly in some cases more awesome model where we brought in these contributors and bloggers these really rock stars and the personal finance space that really unpacked their content and just dropped some bombs of knowledge on us and really that's been for the last two to three months. But now we're back and we're doing a special episode.
61 - 92 Brad Barrett Yeah it should be really should be a good. We had just such an amazing run of guests and we're certainly going to continue that. So no worries out there. We're definitely working to get the best guests that we can possibly get. But you know frankly we just like talking and we like talking about this. You know Jonathan I said sitting here two feet apart and you know we just we just love talking about about fi and about how to save money and life hacks and all these things and you know so we're going to throw these episodes and you know intersperse them in with guests certainly as as the weeks go by.
92 - 175 Jonathan Mendonsa So let's just real quick let's catch up what all have we talked about so far what sort of what sort of things have we unpacked. We walk through how to crush your food budget. We walk through fitness while being frugal. We walked through investment the basic principles of investing with William Collins. We've talked about building a money framework with Mr. 1500. We've unpacked how to save 75 percent of your take home pay with frugal woods. We unpacked tax loss harvesting capital gains and capital losses with go Curry cracker. And we've talked about how to oh my goodness we talked about one of my favorite was millionaire educator how to save 100 grand a year in pretax buckets and the unfair advantage for teachers firefighters police officers. And then we unpack travel rewards how to travel the world for free. So you know it feels like that was so long ago. But at the same time it feels like it was yesterday. And Brad and I had this goal from the very beginning of telling a story and kind of walking you through all these completely different ideas and then building a story and showing you how it fits together so you can figure out how to take all this stuff and put it in your own personal framework and I think at least to that point you know I believe we've accomplished that. But I believe y'all are telling us that we are doing that we are we are we are giving you that content so this is the episode where we just pat ourselves on the back for that and then we keep on going right.
firefighter, fitness, lossharvesting, police, teacher, travelrewards
175 - 244 Brad Barrett Yeah that's exactly right. And you know in today's episode we're going to take a little different approach so we're going to kind of go line by line through our major expenses on our budget. You know each and every month and talk to you guys about about what we're doing where there are places where we're saving. You know we are we have Life Hacks and we're saving money and you know maybe even some frugal fails right like where we're spending money. I know. You know we have like an alarm system on our house which is is absolutely ridiculous frankly. But you know that's a couple hundred bucks a year is just completely wasted. But you know these are the kind of things that you guys need to hear. You need to hear you know the hacks where we're saving but you also know that we're regular middle class guys you know we're not we're not doing anything revolution and we're really living a normal life. But just a little bit smarter. So you know that's that's what this is all about. You know this is taking a lot of inspiration from Mr. Money Mustache's article How to go from middle class to kick ass. I think that's that's where I got the idea for this particular episode. But whereas his is just kind of you know made up essentially you know we're to actually talk to you about about what we're spending in our real lives.
Brad_Catchphrases, savings
244 - 312 Jonathan Mendonsa And we're just going to kind of go through a one line item at a time. So I think one of the things Brad and I are really just two regular dudes and I know that you all think that because you tell us you guys are just too regular dudes. Yes. Yes we are. So we we both kind of have found this sweet spot that we think is a sweet spot. This is entry level middle class lifestyle. Now we don't quite fit into the Money Mustache 24 grand a year scenario because we don't have paid off mortgages. I think both of us are strongly considering that you know at some point and if we did I'm sure that we would be kind of in that twenty five thousand thirty five thousand dollar range but we're just going to get it going to go through all the different things that we spend money on and maybe where we were and then how we optimized it. And you know where we may still be failing frankly in many cases. So I think you might be surprised and I think I might be embarrassed by some of the things that I have to tell you during this conversation. But yeah hopefully that this is fun and useful and and just give us your feedback you know in the end the show notes and the comments you know leave us serve you on iTunes if you appreciate the show and yeah let's go and get started. So Brad what what line items you want to start with.
312 - 322 Brad Barrett I think let's start with the big one. Let's start with mortgage I think that's you know housing prices mortgage that kind of thing. I think that's a good way to jump off.
322 - 435 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah so some mortgage so my mortgage between my mortgage my property taxes currently that all averages out to around twelve hundred dollars a month and I picked that intentionally. We when we were moving to a home we searched for a neighborhood that was going to be in a good school district it had access to a library it had access to you know a grocery store that was relatively close. One of the things when we are picking up the home and we are driving by it I wanted to make sure that you could actually slow down on the street to actually look at the house on your left and your right I mean there were a lot of houses that were in there were more expensive but they were on really busy roads and I felt nervous frankly just to slow my car down and actually see take a look at the house. And so for me that was always just when you're picking out a home and when you're trying to decide what neighborhood to move to. That was one of my criteria. I just want to be able to slow down in the neighborhood to feel safe not feel like someone's going to run into me and not feel like my child is there's any danger of them running out onto the road and getting run over. My wife had the criteria that it needed to be in a good school district and then you know it needed to be accessible to different amenities. All those are pretty basic things. I also looked for like an older neighborhood. I didn't want necessarily a cookie cutter brand new home. We picked something that was probably made in 1975. It was an older neighborhood but I could tell that it was going through this kind of generational turnover. And actually that has been true so all the families were you know it was an older neighborhood when I got here. And as they were moving off in many cases their kids were coming in and buying and all the kitchens had to be redone. You know and there was definitely room to grow. But what I'm seeing now in this same neighborhood is the houses are just getting snatched up like that. So I don't know if there's a life hack there. I'm not great at real estate Brad and I want to do some stuff with real estate going forward. But those are just the different things that I looked for when we were moving into a neighborhood. You think there's any value there Brad.
families, library
435 - 615 Brad Barrett Yeah I think for sure. You know certainly buying into an established neighborhood. I think there's definitely value there. I think you know finding you know in the Richmond metro area where we both live you know there are a lot of these ritzy New developments that you know you're buying new construction and you're paying a huge premium for it whereas you know there are a ton of these neighborhoods that are established where you can get a really nice middle class or upper middle class you know 2000 square foot house thereabouts for for 200 grand or thereabouts and you know honestly I live in a slightly more expensive area than Jonathan does but I think we took like a life hack type approach to purchasing which was when we did the research and we wanted to move down here. You know we we looked around and it was pretty clear to us that we wanted to be in this one general area and you know there's lots of shopping. It's kind of in my opinion it's the epicenter of the Richmond metro area. And you know there are tons of very expensive homes in that area. And you know obviously that was not something where we were interested in at all. So what we did was we tried to find the sweet spot which is what we're always looking for at that point. We wound up buying a really nice four bedroom house in one of if not the absolute best school districts in the whole area. And you know it wasn't in an established you know huge neighborhood it wasn't brand new but it was new enough. It was only like 15 years old at that point. And nice four bedroom house. And I think our purchase price was 270000 which is very very reasonable especially now after refinancing a couple of times our our mortgage payment is only $1150 a month. And you know most people when you say oh I live in the short pump area which sounds silly to people outside of Richmond but when you tell people you live there it's like you know people must think you know your house is expensive. You must be paying out the nose. And we're just simply not. I mean of of that 1150 I'm looking at my spreadsheet here over 350 of it goes to principal. So you know we're under $800 a month in expense every. That's it. $800 to have a four bedroom house in what I would argue is the absolute best part of the metro area to live in and of that 800 some of that we get back because some of that is you know interest and tax deduction. So you know our actual net out of out-of-pocket costs to live there is well less than $800 a month. So I mean that's remarkable really to spend. Well less than $10000 a year on on a house and it's just again being a little bit smarter we could have bought a significantly newer house we knew perhaps we could have bought a significantly larger house but we knew what what we needed and what we needed was four bedrooms and what we wanted was to live in this one particular school district and it just worked out well for us so I mean you know we were very intentional about that purchase.
Brad_Catchphrases, housing
615 - 703 Jonathan Mendonsa Very cool. Very cool. Let's see here I don't have a ton of hacks on real estate right now as you are going to figure out. Now Brad and I after you know we are we are absolutely committed to tiptoeing into real estate and maybe starting something down the road and we'll share a little bit more with you. We're not quite there in terms of presenting that to you all but as we move into fall I think you'll start here a little bit more about how we're preparing to get involved in real estate. We'll probably have some more real estate life hacks to present to you at that point in time. But right now just for the sake of transparency that that's what's going on. Let's talk about homeowners insurance for a little bit. Anything anything there. I mean is there any any room that you have for savings any advice that you would give to anybody. I mean I think with anything insurance related it would just be shop around. Get a couple of quotes and don't be complacent. It's easy to just pay your homeowner's insurance or your car insurance every single year and just kind of put it on autopilot. But I would definitely suggest and you know I fall down on this too. You know I don't check as often as I want but. Or I should but maybe every year every two years just just get some quotes. There's no literally no downside to it. You could basically send out an e-mail to a local agent or two and just get a couple of quotes and see what you can save. Jonathan I think has some some hacks on car insurance potentially about comprehensive inclusion insurance and you know he's a little more in-depth than than I am at that. So maybe he can talk about it. But as far as homeowners insurance I would say just just simply get some quotes.
househacking, insurance, savings
703 - 811 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah I mean I'm definitely skeptical on insurance. I mean you need it. I realize that you need it but you've got to also realize that everything is a pay now or pay later situation. And it's a risk to benefit. I think that's a way that we analyze every single line item in our budget. When you decide to pay more for insurance you got to also calculate and to that end to that equation the likelihood that you may actually need it. And then also what's the worst that could happen if you didn't have it. So I kind of use that operating principle when I'm deciding you know not if I need coverage necessarily but how much coverage I need and I think from the fire community at some point down the line you kind of are self-insured to a large degree just by having a massive emergency fund and a large nest egg that you've been tucking away. And so I think in most cases you know I come down the side that you should still have it to cover the worst. But do you need their premium package that gives you all the features. No probably not. Because in many cases you can cover a 5000 or 10000 dollar expense in the odd chance that it were to happen. What you really need protection from is the apocalypse right. So just keep that in mind so you know. Almost all my insurances I moved my deductibles up to 500 or 1000 or 2000 or whatever. they'll Let me get away with and I'm looking for that savings in premium which is my guaranteed savings and I backslide on the other half which Browder's talking about which is holding them accountable and price shopping. I am the worst at just I don't want to take the time to call five or six people. So initially I absolutely do that I price shop I find a price. And unfortunately they know that you're going to be lazy about it and so you'll see them every year they hike up your premiums on almost everything five or ten dollars. So it's almost you should be required to at least every couple of years you go and you price shop to make sure they're still being competitive. But I don't take my own advice on that so I'm going to be honest.
insurance, savings
811 - 829 Brad Barrett Yeah. No I totally hear you. It's easy to say and hard to do but yeah you know if you haven't done an in X number years just make the calls or shoot an e-mail so you know one other aspect of insurance is life insurance. I don't know. Jonathan have you guys got life insurance yet posts.
insurance, lifeinsurance
829 - 1080 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah you know historically I never really felt like I needed it because the worst case scenario my student loans just weren't going to get paid and there was really nothing that they could grab as collateral so you know I just wasn't too worried about it. But with a child almost being here I do have some some thoughts on it and I can go ahead and share those with you if you're ready for. No I do not know all the ins and outs of the life insurance industry. I think probably at some point we could probably get someone involved that can really share with us all the nuances but just for the sake of where I'm at. I really am still Dave Ramsey guy on this one. I listen to Dave Ramsey for years and if you did you know that he tells you you know term term term term and without going into all the reasons he says why. Let me just tell you my thoughts on it. Like I said earlier at some point you're going to self-insured What is the purpose of life insurance. The purpose of life insurance is to take care of those that will outlive you. If for some reason you don't have a nest egg. so you die there's going to be about an immediate $20000 cost to your death. Who's going to bear that burden. You know is it going to your Who's going to have to bury you and can they afford that $20000 that $20000 cost. That's the immediate cost. But then there's the loss of earning potential. So you are the main income provider for your family. And if you are making 40000 or 60000 or 80000 that income is now gone. So you have an obligation to make sure that those that are outliving you are not in a worse financial situation due to your passing. It's just morbid stuff. But essentially though if I died I don't want my wife to be you know to be broke or on the street and so at some point though you guys got to realize this the path that you are on will self-insure you now hopefully you have a good relationship with your spouse and she's not waiting for the day that you're worth $2 million because she doesn't need you anymore. But realistically from a financial perspective at some point if you are creating passive income you're no longer in the situation where you need to make sure that they are going to be your income is going to be replaced because you've already taken care of that you've self-insured yourself if you're worth a million dollars and you die the spouse is going to be ok especially if you guys have been working as a team to build this framework for your family of you know the fire financial independence lifestyle she's going to great she's going be phenomenal. You may have been holding her back. So you know just keep that in mind. So how do you apply that. You don't need life insurance for life. You need it for a period of time. So there's two different types of life insurance. There's whole life insurance and there's term life insurance and I'm not going to really dig into a whole life because I'm going to show my ignorance if I do. But I'll just focus on the term term basically says you have to have insurance for a period of time and you can pick it it can be a 10 year term it can be a 20 year term or it can be a 30 year term if you were to pass away within that period of time you will get paid out a certain amount and you can specify what that is if it's 500000 if it's 100000 if it's a million dollars. And so the way the premiums are determined are based on whether or not you picked a you know a 10 year term or 20 or or a 30 year term. The longer the term the higher that monthly premium is going to be. And then also the second factor is the the the the value of the term how much are they going to pay out. So if you were to die within that 10 year window are they going to pay you $100000 a million dollars. Five million. You know you pick that as well. And then the third factor is how old are you. And do you have preexisting conditions when you apply for it. So it does behoove you to get it at a younger age which decreases your premium. And then also you know that term how long you're going to have it for so 20 is going to cost more than 10 30 is going to cost more than 20 so my sweet spot is going to probably be a 20 year term. And I will set that for you know you've got to pick something. But basically you could calculate it based on how much your lifestyle cost. So if you need essentially the same math that we use for the safe withdrawal rate you know if you need 40 or $30000 a year in an passive income in order to maintain your lifestyle so you would probably need somewhere around 700 to a million dollar payout. You know essentially provide you with that and then your family is going to be just fine. And depending on what you end up choosing and what that number came out with you should price shop. But you're looking at somewhere between 20 to 70 bucks a month. How does that sound right.
college-loans, families, lifeinsurance, passiveincome, ramsey, relationships
1080 - 1135 Brad Barrett Now that sounds exactly right. And it's you know. Term life insurance is just a simple bet. You know basically you're paying the insurance company X number of dollars per year and you know if you die they hand your family a whole boatload of money and if you don't you just you know keep paying that policy premium every single year. And at the end of the the term it just expires and that's that. So it's you know it is insurance in the simplest form. So yeah I mean Jonathon's exactly right. This is something where you know people on the fi path aren't can think about it a little bit differently. Like he mentioned you know the the 25 times the the annual expenses is you know essentially what you would need and obviously if you have money saved up you know then that kind of bites into that total amount you need. So you know whereas an insurance agent might say oh you need $2 million in term insurance. Chances are you need a fraction of that. So be cognizant of that.
families, lifeinsurance
1135 - 1307 Jonathan Mendonsa And on that same line also when you talk to an insurance agent every single time it doesn't matter if you tell them I'm only interested in term life insurance. At the end of the conversation they're going to come back and they're going to suggest cash whole value life. I mean every single time without fail they're going to suggest it to you and and maybe in some specific scenarios it may be good but in fact one of our contributors Edmund has posed the point that there may be some value there and I'm willing to consider that we're not dogmatic about anything. I'm not 100 percent against them but my preference is if you want to invest and he says it would be a good idea as an investment vehicle. My preference just naturally speaking without more information would be if you're going to invest pick a really good investment like Vanguard is just keep it simple. I don't need the nuances necessarily if you if you want an investment vehicle choose a great investment vehicle like Vanguard if you need insurance. My thought is that you only need insurance for a short period of time while you're in this window from when we talked about Jeremey the financial freedom clock right you get to zero and now you're working on getting to financial independence the financial freedom clock get started. my thought is you're going to get there within 10 years if you're doing all this stuff. I mean just I think the math works for you I think we've demonstrated that. So you just need that short window of time. And then I don't care about it anymore. I mean once your 20 year term is up and you're financially independent and you're worth $2 million just drop it. I mean now you're saving 50 70 bucks a month. You can start thinking about long term care insurance or some of this other crazy stuff and I don't know anything about that so maybe I can ask Brad his opinion but I'm just saying in the short term for right now you know my life from an insurance perspective yeah I have car insurance but I just use liability because I can cover 500 to 2000 to $5000 in an accident if it were to happen. But I need something in case I were to do something stupid or something bad would happen to put someone else's life in jeopardy. I need something to protect me from from the big what if. home insurance. You know I can cover the 1000 2000 dollar expense no problem. I need something. If my house were to burn down or something really bad were to happen that way out of my control and then see I have that same perspective when it comes to life insurance. I need the term because right now if I were to die it would you know it would it would crush my wife's financial future right now. But you know 10 15 years from now it's going to be a non-factor. I will be self-insured just by virtue of having implemented all the other stuff we're talking about and insurance agents by and large make all of their money they make almost no money from term from term because there's no extra commission built into that. So we don't have any Northwest mutual fans in our audience. They just they just shut off on us most or most of the fire community. They stop listening because what I'm telling you it's cutting into their pocket. But fortunately I don't have any friends in the in that space that I need to protect. And I don't have any any reason to like pull my punches on this. I think it's a total crock and I would just do term. Yeah that's the way I see it.
10yearstogo, lifeinsurance, savings
1307 - 1376 Brad Barrett Yeah I'm with you on just a final note on this since we're pulling back the curtain. That's the whole point of this is you know our term insurance for for my wife and I we did 30 year policies which you know honestly if we could do it again we would probably do 20 because the the annual expense would have been less. But I think I have a $700000 policy and it costs $500 per year. And Laura I believe has a $500000 in policy and it costs about $350 per year. So you know these are pretty small total amounts. You know it's under $1000 per year that we're spending. And you know obviously this is to safeguard our family and our kids if something happened to us so you know those are not the No. 2 Million Dollar death benefit that the insurance agent will tell you you know $500000. We could easily pay off our mortgages we could put money away and you know for college and still have some leftover. And you know that's on top of all the money that we have saved you know in our normal net worth. So you know that's that's more than sufficient as far as we're concerned so yeah that's what we're doing for insurance.
college, families, lifeinsurance, networth
1376 - 1412 Jonathan Mendonsa And this is now stealing from from Dave but really from from other people that look at it. It's called You know buy term invest the difference so go get a quote for for whole life and then go get a quote for term. See what the difference is. Pick the term and then invest the difference and Vanguard and you're going to be just fine. Now having said that we're that's very nuance that's like a gimmick to get somebody to save just a little bit extra. We're already at a 50 60 70 percent savings rates in some cases. So you know you probably don't need that. All you're trying to do you're already so focused on that it's a non issue for you guys. But that's kind of my my personal mental philosophy on this.
lifeinsurance, savings
1412 - 1419 Brad Barrett All right so let's move on to another big line item which is automobiles. Jonathan do you have any car payments currently.
1419 - 1511 Jonathan Mendonsa Damn I didn't want to answer this one. I got I got one this but I got one man. I got my. So gosh how do I want to do this. We're going to do an episode on the true costs of car ownership and I'm going to unpack for you all my new framework you know with a relatively new I did this math. Now that we have this podcast and this platform to teach people about these different things I created this this article called The True Cost of car ownership and we're going to have a companion podcast to walk you through the simple math of it so you can see for yourself. But I didn't have the benefit of this when I got it when I picked up his car payments so yeah we have a $350 car payment which I'll I'll pay that sucker off. Probably either I can do it this year I could have it paid off by the beginning of next year. Honestly the only thing that would make me do one or the other would just be when you have to pay down debt. It forces you to take your income which pushes you into a higher tax bracket. And because I was already I already pay I'm paying finishing up my student loans. I'm already I'm already moving towards the end of the income bracket that I wanted to be in. You know I learned so much from Millionaire educators so like I'm all I'm thinking about things way differently than I did like five years ago. And so I don't want to go into these higher tax brackets. And so my interest is like less than 2 percent. And so it's kind of one of those things where I'm like I might just let it ride so beginning of next year and then pay that sucker off and one fell swoop. So anyway that's my thought process and that's my guilty confession. But I am going to be debt free on my car and then I'm excited about what that looks like for my cost of living after it's gone.
college-loans, debt, podcaster
1511 - 1513 Brad Barrett So was that a was that a new car when you bought it.
1513 - 1541 Jonathan Mendonsa Well I did what you did. I did the CarMax thing where it was like two years old. I got it. I bought a Jeep Compass. I had 10000 miles on it. I got it for 18000 and it came with a warranty on it. I mean it was just it's a it's a beautiful car. It was a great price. The gas mileage is good just filled every single need. And you know I I've I feel so guilty just even saying this out loud on this podcast but yeah I've got a car payment. It is what it is.
1541 - 1571 Brad Barrett No I hear you. Yes so my car situation is that we have no car payments currently and haven't for some time. My car is a 2003 Honda Civic that I bought brand new way back when in 2003 for about $15000 and it currently has 110000 miles on it and going strong. I mean I drive that thing you know two to three thousand miles a year. So you know it can probably last indefinitely until the autonomous vehicle fleet takes over. Hopefully.
1571 - 1576 Jonathan Mendonsa I've heard you talk about that. I don't think it's coming anytime soon man.
1576 - 1577 Brad Barrett Sooner than you think.
1577 - 1653 Jonathan Mendonsa We'll see we are alright guys we're we're kicking this one down the road just because car ownership is such a big line item now. We wanted a kind of big picture this for you guys and go through all those things so we're hitting on it. But obviously we could talk about the car payment and the cost of cars way more so if you like this episode and you want to know more about the true cost of car ownership I'm thinking that article is going to drop sometime in May in the podcast. I don't know exactly when that's going to land but we're we're planning it out right now. So you're going to hear this long before that comes. But it will change the way you look at cars. I mean I've already done all the research I've I've got it distilled and the way I want it it tells a great story it's going to be you're going to take it and take your own specific scenario and you're going to come away exactly with what that car is actually costing you. And then it'll actually then allow you to come up with a plan for how you can beat the system. And that's what we're always doing right we're trying to show you how to beat the system. I'm promise you that I'm taking my own advice in this and going forward. It's this information that Brad and I have been researching and putting together that I'm going to use for my car decisions moving forward and I'm crazy excited to share that with you. But we're just going to kind of end that one truncate that one to move on to maybe the next line item for today.
1653 - 1667 Brad Barrett Yeah that makes sense. Let's let's move on to another big one where I think there's some savings for a lot of people. Is cell phone. Jonathan I know you've done a ton of research on this. What are you spending on your cell phone what kind of plan do you have. You know tell us a little bit about that.
1667 - 1884 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah there's only in America anyways there are only two plans that I could in good conscience recommend to anybody right now and one of them is Republic Wireless. And the second one which is the one that I'm using currently is project fi and I I'll tell you a little bit more about Project FI right now a project file is actually owned by Google and it's called an MVNO which I'm not. I didn't take the time to actually look up what that stands for but there's a bunch of services that offer MVNOs but obviously Google is a big name. They've got money to put into the infrastructure for this thing. It's going to be a leader. You know there's just no way it's not going to be as good as possible. Pros and cons to MVNO. So the pro is because they don't actually have to build all the towers. They're using preexisting lines like they may run on Verizon lines or Sprint lines or T-Mobile lines. It's a fraction of the cost. So the way the project fi works it will actually only charge you I think they charge you $20 a month for the line for actually cell phone line and then $10 a month for each gigabyte of data that you use. And then anything you don't use they will credit you back or credit for towards the next month. So 100 percent efficiency. Now this is kind of now segue into the inefficiency of most people's cell phone bills. This is like to me is the most ludicrous loss of money that I willingly bought into for years and then only finally just checked myself and realized how ridiculous it was in its instant savings. So at one point in between my cell phone bill and my internet and cable bill I was sending Verizon no less than $250 a month. Wow. Yeah that's all 140 for the cell phone and a hundred and ten for the for the Internet. And that was because I was getting one of their deals right. They're double package right. Thank you Verizon for all those savings. But I mean if you think about it that is an expense that you're sending to them that your parents couldn't even conceive of right wasn't even there. But now it's an essential Oh I have to have it. I have to have this. And you just got to look at things a little differently and see what the alternative is. So with the cell phone my life is exactly the same. I have a brand new phone it's a nexus. It does in fact a lot of the pictures that you see that are taken on the Web site where you know you can tell that's one that I've actually taken. Those were taken with an Nexus phone it is a ridiculously awesome phone. The service is unbelievable so MVNOs work a little bit differently. They encourage you to use Wi-Fi when possible so you can make calls while you're on your Wi-Fi. You're going to be doing things slightly different so when you go somewhere that has Wi-Fi you're going to try to get connected to that for free. That's always ideal but then when you don't have access to Wi-Fi you're able to use the surrounding towers. So in this area a runs on Sprint coverage in other areas it may run on something else. I think it's T-Mobile and maybe Verizon I'm not sure about that. But you know you have both you have the best of both worlds. And any time you're running something no Wi-Fi you're not using bandwidth so bandwidth on cell phones is the number one thing that cause people's cell phones to go through the roof using bandwidth on your cell phone is incredibly inefficient so if you see your child you know watching the YouTube video while you're commuting home in your giant gas guzzling SUV you slap that phone on the floor and you need to make a change because you should not be watching YouTube videos on your cell phone while you're out and about. I mean that is just that's crazy. And if you have Facebook on your cell phone and it auto plays a video as soon as you open your app that's crazy you've got to stop that is costing you you're bleeding money. So those are just couple of life facts that I give me about it but anyway I moved away from my Verizon cell phone plan and I just moved to project fi and now my cell phone just cost me you know 30 bucks a month.
cordcutting, savings
1884 - 1941 Brad Barrett Yeah that's cool and I'm actually on Republic Wireless. I have one of their slightly older plans so I'm not sure that this is publicly available right now but I think Republic is pretty comparable to project FI. Might be slightly more expensive for for people who are just signing up for it. But yeah I mean my my cell phone situation was this we were in the dark ages until about a year and a half two years ago. I mean I literally had like a flip phone you know no joke an actual flip phone. And we're doing pay as you go through T-Mobile it wound up costing because I was essentially home all the time or in my office I was never a time whereas actually using a cell phone. So you know it was pay as you go per minute to cost me like two dollars a month or something ridiculous like that. Yeah and you when you. Yeah that was that was pretty good. But you know I have since gotten into the real world and joined the rest of America with you know having a phone that actually has data on it.
1941 - 1959 Jonathan Mendonsa This guy has multiple businesses online and he was operating. It always amazes me like at some point how ridiculously good he is with his online businesses and at the same site at the same time how much he is perfectly willing to just be in the dark ages he's totally cool with that it's amazing.
1959 - 1977 Brad Barrett You got to hear Jonathan make fun of my piece of garbage computer. I literally have a 200. I think a $250 like garbage HP laptop. I mean it's a piece of junk and you know he's constantly made because Jonathan is a big Technophile he loves state of the art stuff right.
1977 - 1980 Jonathan Mendonsa I mean that's I got it. It's my thing man and I'm a sucker for it.
1980 - 2104 Brad Barrett I Am the exact opposite. You know I would love to own nothing. I mean I don't get any value from any of this stuff. You know as long as it works that's all I care about. But you know with cell phones you know we realized eventually we needed to check e-mail and all that stuff you know actually on our phones so I am currently on the Republic Wireless plan where you basically buy a gigabyte of data every month and they refund you similar to project FI sounds like where they refund you the unused amount. So my cell phone costs me somewhere between 12 and $16 a month. So that's it all in. And you know I use this thing and you know again like Jonathan said it's it's about making making smart choices. Right so if you and this actually reminds me of just an unbelievable quote that I heard on the Tim Ferriss podcast in the last couple of weeks which was hard choices easy life easy choices hard life. Now take that in. I mean that is a brilliant brilliant quote right. And you know it's an easy choice to just use your cell phone indiscriminately. Right. To stream YouTube videos or movies on your cell phone. And and quote unquote need gigabytes upon gigabytes of data every month right. That's an easy choice but that makes for a hard life because you're spending hundreds of dollars a month on your cellphone. Right. I'm making a slightly more difficult choice which is just to be mindful of my cellphone use which is I'm just trying to use as little data as I can. Now does that mean I'm a crazy person about it. No. I mean if I'm out and about and I want to check my Gmail or check check Facebook I do that. And that's no big deal because that doesn't take a ton of data but I'm not streaming movies. So am I giving up something. Am I making a slightly more difficult choice. Yes but if that means I can get a $12 cell phone bill as opposed to the normal Bozo down the street who's paying hundred bucks a month that's that hard choice and I'm willing to make very very easily.
2104 - 2132 Jonathan Mendonsa No. Yeah that's really cool we're on the same page with that. I definitely place more of a value in technology. And like you said I'm the Technophile. So for me and you know I'm perfectly willing to drop my extra 15 but for me that was the choice down from you know literally 140 down to you know between me and my spouse less than 50 now. So I completely understand your decision tree. And yeah that's it that's a tech upgrade for you. OK. So then the next one we have internet and cable.
2132 - 2141 Brad Barrett Yeah this is something that we're kind of in flux about. So in my perfect world scenario we would cut the cord and just kind of cut cable entirely.
2141 - 2142 Jonathan Mendonsa Oh you have cable.
2142 - 2164 Brad Barrett We kind of do we kind of do kind of don't. It's a very weird story I'll try to unpack it here. We essentially tried to cut the cord but you know it always comes back to you need the Internet. Right. And the you know Verizon Comcast whoever you have we have we have Verizon now so you know they know you need Internet.
2164 - 2168 Jonathan Mendonsa Oh I can help you with this then I can hop in front of this for you. So you have internet and cable.
2168 - 2168 Brad Barrett Yes.
2168 - 2170 Jonathan Mendonsa How much are you paying a month.
2170 - 2173 Brad Barrett We are paying all in about 80 bucks.
2173 - 2183 Jonathan Mendonsa Alright you can call Verizon. They don't offer it online but you call them and then you're allowed to request just the internet package. I have just Verizon wireless for less that for about $45 a month.
2183 - 2184 Brad Barrett OK.
2184 - 2216 Jonathan Mendonsa So we can nip this in the bud and get that extra 40 bucks back for interest. They do not offer it on the on their Internet Web page you will not find it. But if you gotten one of their packages and you like me and you're offering all these deals I don't want a triple package service with a phone line that I'm not going to use and you're going to charge me extra fourty to keep it unlisted. I don't think I really use the cable I just want the internet but I don't see that option. It's because they hide it and then they hide it some more. But you can call them and just ask for a quote specifically on their internet only package. And yeah I did that and I was able to that's what I have.
2216 - 2225 Brad Barrett Very cool. That's as we always say actionable tips on picking up. That'll be 35 bucks a month when I get back into my finances.
2225 - 2304 Jonathan Mendonsa I totally did that. I know I got mine down. I was at $110 a month and then I realized I don't need 75 25 cable. You know like this ridiculously crazy fast internet package and I went down to the twenty five twenty five which is still crazy crazy fast me you could download multiple movies at a time if you wanted to without any you know slowing down at all. And yeah now 45 bucks a month and I am incredibly happy with that I mean to operate my business from that. That's my source of entertainment. Watch TV from that. You know that's just there's so much value to me in having the Internet that it's not it's a no brainer so. And this from Brad nice perspective specifically from mine. I am not a minimalist. You'll pick up on that very very quickly. I dip a toe in the minimalism world because I understand it I understand their decision tree and I can appreciate it. But what I try to do is take the essence of what they're about and figure out how I can use that in my own world which is I just want to do things a little bit smarter than my neighbor. And you know I want to have that lifestyle for a fraction of the cost. So you know it's just you know you got your own perspective you can pick and choose what you want. But for me it's kind of just I want to do everything in an optimized way but I'm still a technophile. I love technology. I'm not going to live in a place that doesn't have internet I couldn't do it.
2304 - 2314 Brad Barrett Yeah. Now I totally hear you definitely need it. No doubt about it but yeah that's cool. So you know Jonathan do you guys have Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu or any of that kind of suffering that you have.
2314 - 2395 Jonathan Mendonsa I have amazon prime Amazon Prime. We have had netflix off and on. You know I love Netflix is great. Right now I just have Amazon Prime. Yes. And we have the Roku too by the way. I think liz from frugal woods mentioned that and that's fantastic. I mean and also one of the things that I've learned you know I'm I'm big on I love TV but at the same time TV is the enemy of life. Like I loved watching TV I could watch Seinfeld all day long. But when I spend time on a bender just watching TV you know the only thing I really want to do is just eat which then affects my health which then affects my mood. But you know in this world they say it's not actually that you don't have time it's that you don't have motivation and your time is getting sucked up by all the dumb stuff. And when I get in these places where my extremely energetic and motivated that's where I do things like build Choose F-I or write up five new articles or make five new contacts and just you know you just supercharge your life. But then when you look at the times where nothing got done and you didn't feel like you have any time how much time do you spend watching TV. I mean TV is a total waste of time for the most part. There's entertainment. You know it's cool. I get it. I'm not anti TV but I am anti TV when you complain about how you never get anything done and how your life doesn't feel like it has any purpose or anything else. I mean what happens if you just didn't have access to it all were just gone. What would you do with all that free time.
2395 - 2437 Brad Barrett You know it's funny I was just listening to a podcast this morning about that was saying I guess his son decided to. This is the good dad project. It's it's it's a nice podcast to listen to. He said his son for Lent gave up all screens and wound up happening was the entire family took over. And you know now they have all these hours where they're not just sitting there staring at their screens and you know they found it's just improved their family life dramatically to the point where you know they're talking at night. They're playing board games. They're doing all sorts of actual quality time with their family. Yeah I mean that's that's a huge one. You know just a little sidebar but I thought it was interesting.
families, podcaster
2437 - 2441 Jonathan Mendonsa All right. So let's talk about gym memberships. You have a gym membership.
2441 - 2475 Brad Barrett I do actually. About a year and a half ago one of these low cost gyms called Crunch opened up about a mile from my house and it's only $10 a month which is pretty fantastic. They actually have an upgraded membership for a whopping $20 a month where you get unlimited classes group classes. And for some reason with my mentality like that's just something that I really enjoy. Sue I actually get some value out of those classes and you know I do personally have the $20 per month membership.
2475 - 2625 Jonathan Mendonsa So yeah I've always had a gym membership up until recently I've been at the gold's where you know $30 a person so me and My wife would have been 60. I didn't move to one of the lower cost options so in my case it was Planet Fitness for $10 a month which is great because instead of being around with a bunch of you know dudes that are all wearing spaghetti tank tops you're just with a bunch of like 50 year old people that are all on the cardio machine. Nobody's touching the weights right. So. So that was great for a while actually. Now I just I just dropped it. Yeah I haven't really I don't I stopped altogether so I have a $0 gym membership and what I did is I did some I guess you could call it radical in-sourcing actually turned one of the the the the entryway room in my house into a little mini gym Brad I'll tell you it's legit but I dropped probably close to a thousand dollars getting all the equipment in there. And my biggest thing was time. So once your post financial independence you have you know an unlimited amount of time that you can then figure out what you want to use and obviously a lot of that should go to fitness and health. But when you're in the grind when you're on the hamster wheel you have a very limited amount of time and you have to choose how to effectively use that. So for me the decision was not just how much is a gym membership costs but what is the mental hurdle of actually preparing to go to the gym going to them coming back and then getting ready for the next activity. And so I was having to put myself through contortions like getting up at 4:00 so that my wife and I could go at 5 so that she could be back at 5:45 to get ready to go to school at 7. You know and then she's she's she's pregnant and she doesn't want me to go without her. And so she wants to go with me but that's overly stressing her out or conversely you know she and I maybe she gets back. And then you know after eight hour nine hour day or trying to go together and then the gym is completely packed in and you really you get through it and you're able to do it for maybe six seven eight weeks but it doesn't add joy to your life. It just feels like something you're going through the motions of doing and you just hate it. And that's kind of the place I was finding myself and now I'm not saying that's all. That always needs to be the case. But that is where we felt like we were at. We were not enjoying it. So by me moving at all just cutting it out doing a replacement focusing on functional fitness and then what I could do in this and this home gym really there was no sacrifice there and in fact it allowed now the time element is completely gone. I move from one activity I knock it out I can go back and I've loved it and so now I've got you know essentially I've saved 60 bucks a month so if you multiply that times the safe withdrawal rate of you know 25 that tells you the value of what my gym is you know every every single every single year yeah.
fitness, health
2625 - 2632 Brad Barrett I'll say for sure hit his gym is legit. I mean it's awesome if you could if you could help me build that for a thousand bucks I'll do that in a in a heartbeat.
2632 - 2708 Jonathan Mendonsa I could post the link for some of the stuff I got some of it was on Amazon you like that was actually interesting. When you're buying the gym it's I'm all about getting stuff used. I've been big on that for a while. That sounds great but at some point when you start talking about heavy items you realize that you're going to have to be strategic with where you get these things so things like a squat rack you know in a treadmill if you decide do all of that what do you put it and you got put it in your little econo hatchback you know so let's say you go find a deal. Nobody in Richmond has it but you find one in Maryland. I mean this is really a situation I was in I went in Maryland that has it. Are you going to go there you're going to disassemble it you're going to put it in the back. You all think you're going to hire a U-Haul I mean you just got to really think through that stuff. So in some cases after I did all the math on it I was like oh I could just ordered this on Amazon and it'll come to my home shipping you know prime so no shipping it'll be right there and the time that I'll save the money I'll save is actually what it cost me more to buy it used one of those hilarious instances. And there's a few of those that you stumble across in this world we're buying something new and then having it shipped directly to your door actually cost you way less than finding a great deal in another location where you have to figure out transportation and other things. I mean I just think for the sake of irony it was hilarious and I'll post the link for the squat rack that I found somewhere that you can check it out. It was a really good deal.
2708 - 2820 Brad Barrett Yeah that's super cool. And just to piggyback here on even though this isn't gym per say this is definitely fitness related it is just in the last six months or so I've started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu actually. And after listening to the Jaczko Willink podcast on Tim Ferriss and then and then his own podcast I know we had Mr. 1500 on and and he quoted Jaczko with his discipline equals freedom which is to go along with that Tim Ferriss quote that I mentioned earlier just another just phenomenal phenomenal quote but it really got me interested in in jujitsu and you know if you go to a regular jujitsu place it's going to be 100 to $150 a month which is which is crazy and there was just simply no way that I was going to do that. But what I did was you know again it's with the FI mentality it's thinking a little bit differently. And you know I just did a ton of research and I actually found Grisi jujitsu which you know there the the the family who essentially created jujitsu in Brazil and they have these things throughout the country because they don't have that many of their certified training centers. They have what's known as Grisi garages. So if you know a couple of people in a metro area want to get together and practice and study Gracie jujitsu but they don't live anywhere near a certified training center. They can literally do it at their house and you know there is some of these things where they need to you know you need to have mats and you need to have you know X Y and Z and you literally buy their DVDs and you train in in this garage for free. It's $0. So I'm very fortunate. There's one only about 10 minutes away from my house and the guy who runs it is has been studying this for seven years. He's essentially an expert at teaching the beginnings of jujitsu. And it's I mean literally cost me $0. I go there. Yeah it's amazing.
Guest_Catchphrases, families, fitness, podcaster
2820 - 2822 Jonathan Mendonsa I assumed you paid for it. I didn't know.
2822 - 2894 Brad Barrett It's completely free and so I go twice a week to this guy's house there's six of us who show up and I mean it's legit. We train for real and you know I'm on my path you know to get started with this and you know jujitsu aside it's what I like to look for is like how can I get better over my lifetime. And you know this is maybe like a higher level and not for this particular podcast but you know to unpack fully. But you know that's that's something that I can learn for the next 10 or 20 years and just get better and better and you know I like take a step back and get out of the daily grind and just say like What can I do that I'm going to be better at in my life. How is my life going to be better 10 years from now. And you know something like that or you know for me it's a lot of these things are physical. It's you know just getting in better shape getting more flexible you know practicing yoga. And that's something I'm actually doing with my girls now four and my wife is one of the four of us are doing yoga every single day. You know it's just it's just getting better every day and that's something we're working on. So anyway. Another little sidebar but just something we're doing that's you know a FI hack that really just makes our lives better.
2894 - 3046 Jonathan Mendonsa Very cool. Let's see. So we talked about we've talked about a bunch of stuff already and there's only probably a few line items left that are on my just guaranteed monthly expenses. I mean everybody has discretionary spending and the thing about discretionary discretionary I mean you could just not spend money on that stuff. But there's a few more that are kind of baked into everybody's daily lives that we'll talk about. So food and alcohol. We've gone in depth on this so we're not going to spend a lot of time on this one. But what I found is just tracking it and having a plan can literally cut your food budget by 30 to 40 percent without even blinking an eye. And I found in the past that I could easily spend over 8 hundred dollars a month on food just for two people. I mean that's not it's not it's not difficult especially if there's restaurants and alcohol baked in my wife and I consume very little alcohol just almost none. I'm not against it at all. The problem with it. You know there will be a will by a six pack a mixed six pack and put it in the fridge. But it kind of it slows it down from a fitness perspective. It's not a large social thing for us. So you know just for us that's the nonfactor. I think there's probably room for balance in there. I know people do craft brews people homebrew at home. I think there should always be thinking about the value so if it adds community if it allows you to if it's a hobby for you it's something you know that's your thing that's great. But if you're drinking alone you just have got to ask yourself what the value is a couple of other so auto and gas. I mean this is kind of this is pretty straightforward. If you drive a big SUV or a truck that gets 15 miles to the gallon and or conversely you drive like an econo hatchback that gets 30 miles to the gallon. Let's say that you work 15 miles away. You know one way that that difference over the course of a year is about 500 600 700 dollars just in gas so just you know making a small change like that. Moving to one of these little 30 mile per gallon gas sippers can make a big difference in your life and a budget. And then finally you know travels so Brad and I both have talked nonstop especially episode 9 about how to use travel rewards to travel the world for free. I've told you all in detail how I used to plan on saving upwards of $300 a month so that my wife and I could travel to Africa. You know every couple of years does the family. And that line item has essentially been removed. So just for the sake of brevity we'll kind of use that as a as a final place to stop. But this was just a quick picture at some of the things that Brad and I both have spend money on. Everybody spends money on and then kind of maybe how you could look at optimizing that Brad. Do you have any final thoughts.
families, fitness, savings, travel, travelrewards
3046 - 3066 Brad Barrett Yeah I just wanted to ask you and I'll talk about these too but just real quick. Are there any any line items in your annual budget that you feel are just like completely frivolous or like you're embarrassed about or you know places or maybe even pivoting just like places where you spend your money intentionally that other people may not but you get value from.
3066 - 3190 Jonathan Mendonsa Yeah. So definitely cable internet like some people were happy to have much slower Internet. I am not. The amount of stuff that I do from home I'm perfectly happy to spend money on that. I also like fast computers. So I'm perfectly happy to spend money on almost anything technology related. I get value from it. I'm kind of an embarrassment to the FI community from a car perspective. It took me a long time to mentally be in the same place as other people on cars. I really would love to be the guy that has an urban moped and a bicycle but I'm just not. And I think I don't know if part of that is because my job I can't show up to my work sweating you know like you get that physical exercise from being on a bike ride to work. I'm shirt and tie man I'm I'm in it so I don't know maybe I'm tied to the car from that perspective. I've always had trouble just visualizing what that would look like. But I got to say I'm feeling like I'm more every single year I get more optimized I mean every single year I feel like I'm a little closer when I started. It was just gaping inefficiencies and so now I'm kind of like three years in and a lot of these things are wrapping up themselves the car payments gone the cable's gone the cell phone the expensive cell phone is gone and I have all these kind of optimized replacements that have been made based on the math right that I've looked out over time. The car insurance just got moved down from comprehensive to liability and one of my vehicles. So I actually do this is the decision tree that I use when I'm when I'm doing these things and going forward my car purchases will be you know my mentality on that has totally adjusted. So you've got to start somewhere. But then once you start these are some of the thought processes that I went to get to where I am and yeah I do I still spend money. One thing Brad and I didn't really talk about is discretionary spending. You know you can spend money on a ton if some people have like buying clothes or shoes or all these other things and that's great. And you probably need to dial it in if you're if your progress to FI is being slowed down by it. But these are the fixed expenses that most people have. And this is how I analyze them to see whether or not I could get them lower and so bad you know in that same same vein. Is there any and anything that you want to talk about in terms of maybe where you spend money that people would be surprised by or what you get value out of that. Maybe people will be surprised by.
cordcutting, insurance
3190 - 3351 Brad Barrett Yeah definitely and you know before we go into that real quick I just want to say I think you know what we've talked about in this episode just on these major expenses these major line items. This is the difference between the Joneses and people on the path to fi and what we've talked about here. And you know we're not doing anything crazy. Jonathan and I aren't depriving ourselves and our lives were just being a little bit smarter. Right. And when you're a little bit smarter on most of the major line items on your budget it amounts to huge savings to the point where instead of saving nothing or saving a minuscule five or 10 percent. I mean I'm saving 60 to 80 percent of our income every single year. I mean depending on the year and that's a crazy amount. And if you just heard that in passing in theory you would think that person is just depriving themselves and living this awful life and I mean that is the farthest thing from the truth. I feel like we're awash in spending like we're you know a joke with Laura that we're you know spend like drunken sailors and you know and it's really not that big of a dollar figure when when you everything together but when you're just mindful and you know in where we spend money just to answer Jonathan's specific question is you know we're not misers at all like one of the things that we get value from. Is is are our local pool in the summer. So our pool membership costs $500 a year and my girls love to swim they're on the swim team. I mean so between the bathing suits we have to buy for the swim team and the actual swim team membership and you know any kind of lessons I mean we're spending a couple hundred dollars extra per year. So are you talking eight hundred dollars plus per year on our local pool which you know most people would say are you going to be out of your mind that's crazy. But you know we go there every single day for three months straight and we get a huge amount of value. I mean that is like our social life for the year it's something we look forward to the whole year because we have tons of friends in that pool. We spend hours a day there it's less than a mile from our house. And I mean you know while in in a vacuum that hundred dollars sounds like a big figure. That's a pittance for what we're getting for it and we're just getting so much community out of that and so much enjoyment so that's something even if it was double that I would pay without blinking an eye. So you know it's something like that you know. I mean that's that's really the big thing for us. It's being intentional about your money. So this is not being a miser you know following the path to fighting is not about depriving yourself it's just being smart. And you know some people out there might say you're not being smart by spending that kind of money. But I reject that completely. So it's about value in my opinion.
Brad_Catchphrases, savings, valuist
3351 - 3423 Jonathan Mendonsa That's awesome. And you know I have this. If you're in this place where you are working on debt and you're trying to get out of debt go sign up for our email list and then specifically request access to the get out of debt template. And one of the first ones I go over is that monthly expense tracker it actually shows you what those expenses look like. But just for the sake of this conversation today. I was just looking at the math on it actually blows my mind. So once you come to the end of the optimized trail of what my life actually costs and again I'm talking about kind of the fixed expenses I'm not this does not include discretionary spending but like you know in a worst case scenario where you're not doing any discretionary spending you're only just what's the cost of our lifestyle as we have it right now with with the mortgage and property taxes included my life cost twenty six thousand dollars a year. That's what it cost I make well over six figures. And there is a lot of margin there too to hit FI very very quickly once you get that optimized path. If I didn't have a mortgage if I chose to pay my mortgage off the cost of my life without any discretionary spending would just be $14000 14 freaking thousand dollars. That's nothing right. My life cost nothing in general and how much flexibility and freedom does that give you when you're making these life choices.
3423 - 3425 Brad Barrett Yeah that's that's a remarkable figure.
3425 - 3481 Jonathan Mendonsa And I was just I was looking at it you know before I optimized it you know and it wasn't too bad even before but I was kind of doing this this alternate path where you got car payments and student loans and all this stuff. You know even with all those choices it was like at 44000 you pay all of that off so you've optimized everything using the suggestions we just gave you. You're down to now you know. Twenty six thousand dollars with a mortgage for 14000 without one. And then how much room does that give you. You now have like literally that gives you $16000 in discretionary spending. I mean you can do a lot of stuff a 16000 discretionary spending and you're going to feel very comfortable so when we talk about living that entry level middle class lifestyle but smarter. That's what we're talking about. We don't feel like we're depriving ourselves and so we could hit I could I could have 16000 discretionary spending and still keep my total cost of living under $40000 a year without it. No problem. Yeah. That's amazing and.

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