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  • KaiM
  • January 18, 2019 06:01:29 PM
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A Little About Us

Want to retire early? Looking to be financial independence? Join us on our journey to F.I.R.E. We post tips and tricks for those we want to attain early retirement.

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Saturday Night Read 2 – Benefits of Real Estate Investing

We believe that real estate investing is one of the best ways to build passive income and massive wealth. In fact, all of the wealthiest people own real estate. Now, here are what the FIRE community thinks about real estate investing and their benefits. New article post Saturday Night Read 2 – Benefits of Real Estate Investing appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

We believe that real estate is one of the best ways to build passive income and massive wealth. In fact, all of the wealthiest people own real estate. Now, here are what the FIRE community thinks about real estate investing and their benefits. 

7 Great Tax Benefits of Investing in Real Estate By Passive Income

“As a quick summary though, the main four ways to do this are:

  1. Appreciation – The property goes up in value over time.
  2. Cash Flow – Real estate can be a source of monthly recurring cash flow.
  3. Mortgage paydown – Your mortgage gets paid down by your tenant increasing the amount of equity you have in the property.”

The Incredible Tax Benefits of Real Estate Investing by Mad Fientist

“Unlike other business expenses, depreciation is a paper loss. This means you don’t spend any money, yet you still get the expense. This expense can offset taxable income and save money on your tax bill.”

How To Become A Real Estate Investor With Just $500 by The College Investor

“Many people who have reached financial independence have done so investing in real estate (in fact, it’s one of the most common ways to become a millionaire). This might seem like an impossible achievement if you’re only looking at the end result, but by starting out with small steps and making continued forward progress, you can make your way to “real estate mogul” even if you only have a smaller dollar amount to start investing with.”

Want to learn about Real Estate Investing? Click here for more real estate articles.

What is your way of building wealth? Leave us a comment below.

New article post Saturday Night Read 2 – Benefits of Real Estate Investing appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Financial Tips For College Graduates

If you have recent college grads in your life who could use some help getting started, consider passing along these three financial tips I always give New article post Financial Tips For College Graduates appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

The millennials will overtake the baby boomers to outnumber every other generation in America this year. As a group, they tend to be socially responsible, committed to their values, and less likely than previous generations to follow traditional family or career paths.

According to Deloitte, many millennials also have an innate distrust of financial institutions and money managers. On top of that, they are mostly risk-averse, with less than 30% of their wealth invested in the stock market. Most are probably cautious from what transpired during the Great Depression in 2008. 

This concerns me not only as a FIRE (finance independence early retire)  advocate but also as a millennial myself. I want my friends and my millennial peers to lead a fulfilling, independent and productive lives. And I believe a big part of that is introducing them to prudent money management and investing. If you have recent college grads in your life who could use some help getting started, consider passing along these three financial tips I always give to young investors and those looking to starting out on FIRE.

1. Make saving a habit

Building a secure financial future starts with saving for your future. That might sound simple, but knowing how much to set aside and where to put it can get confusing, especially when you’re working toward multiple goals. It is not about how much you make, but it’s how much you can save that matter most. Here are some tips on getting your saving in order and making it a financial habit in your life.

  • Get your employer Benefits: If your employer offers to match a percentage of your contribution to the company 401(k) or other retirement plans, contribute at least enough to capture the maximum. Sign up for ESPP and HSA plans and max out the contributions. Otherwise, you’re walking away from “free money”.
  • Cut back on credit card debt: Yes, credit cards are convenient, but they also can lure you into spending more than you can afford, leaving less for savings. Personally, I can think of no bigger waste of money than paying interest on credit card debt. If you’re in over your head, make a plan to pay off persistent balances as soon as possible, then redirect that money to savings. Find more ways to save here.
  • Build a rainy-day fund: Even if you’re young and healthy, expensive and unexpected events can occur. Aim to save enough to cover three to six months’ worth of necessary expenses, such as food, insurance, rent, and utilities.
  • Prioritize retirement: Finally, revisit your retirement savings. A golden rule for your retirement savings is to put away 10% to 15% of your gross income. For every dollar earned, stash away 10 cents every single time IMMEDIATELY before expenses. Starts early in your 20s will make a big difference due to the power of compound interest. If you wait until your 30s or later to start, you’ll need to set aside a much bigger chunk of your paycheck.

This is one of the hardest financial tips to follow through on in my opinion. However, once you’re on board with these four steps, you can expand your horizons. This can be a good time to save toward the down payment on a home or a major vacation or to accelerate payments on long-term debt such as student loans. Calculate how much you’ll need and start stashing away any disposable income.

2. Start investing

With your savings in place, the next step is to start accumulating long-term wealth by investing. Before you begin, make sure you understand the basics:

  • Go slow but steady: Sometimes, the hardest part of investing is getting started, and that’s where dollar-cost averaging comes in. With this strategy, you invest a set amount of money at regular intervals—say, once a month. When the market is down, your allotment buys more shares; when it’s up, your allotment buys fewer shares. Over time, this approach allows you to build a sizeable portfolio without having to venture too much, too quickly.
  • Put your eggs in many baskets: Diversification means spreading out your investments across and within asset classes by distributing your money across different sectors, industries, and companies, for instance.
  • Take advantage of your age: Having more time in the market is perhaps a young person’s greatest investing asset, thanks to the miracle of compounding interest and the cumulative growth potential of stocks. Dipping in and out of the market, on the other hand, is a good way to derail your plan.
  • Understand your assets: Markets go up and down, but over the long run, stocks (as measured by a broad market index like the S&P 500®) have grown in value—and quite a bit more so than bonds or cash investments.

I also urge young investors to invest in low-cost index funds or ETFs. These will help with diversification and allow you to be investing in the market with little to no experience. You don’t have to lose sleep over which stock to invest in or worry about a company going bankrupt. 

3. Seek advice

My final advice for every young investor is to ask lots of questions along the way. Talk with your parents, take advantage of online resources and in-person workshops, and ask for help if you hit a roadblock. The world of investing is large and complex, but turning to knowledgeable and trustworthy experts can help you become a confident and informed investor.

Personally, I found an investor group on MeetUp. From this group, I met a commercial real estate expert who taught me how to buy CRE. There are a lot of resources around you. All you need to do is go out there and search for it.

What financial tips do you think is extremely helpful that everyone should know about? Let us know below!

New article post Financial Tips For College Graduates appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Don’t let FIRE Ruin Your Life and Steps to Prevent This

While pursuing FIRE, don't let FIRE ruin your present. I had been burned and there are 3 steps to prevent you from getting hurt. New article post Don’t let FIRE Ruin Your Life and Steps to Prevent This appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

The path toward FIRE can be very addicting, time-consuming, and mentally challenging. All of these can take a toll on your physical, mental, and relationship health. I too was having issues with my personal life because of my pursuit for FIRE. The alluring of more money toward FIRE caused me to make a lot of mistakes. Don’t let FIRE ruin your current life. You can read more about it My Mistakes Of Choosing A High Paying Job here. Looking back at the choices that I made, I realized there are many ways to prevent future mistakes with these 3 steps.

Step 1 – Create a Weight Comparison List

Creating a weight comparison list will help you make tough decisions in your life. This is like a pro and cons list but you will have to assign to pros and cons a score.

The comparison list is to give a number and visual aid to the decision that you make and would it help achieve your goal. In the left column (criteria), you need to list out all the important factors that affect your decision and how much each factor weight for you personally. The weight of each factor is like how much you value each factor. It can be physical, metal, family, friend. In short, what’s important in your life. And in the right column is where you assign a weighted score to each criterion. Assigning a score will help you clearly how much weight that factor is for you.

As for me, the commute to work is weighted as a 10 because I do not like a long commute. Since commute to the current job only takes 30 minutes vs 1.3 hours to the new job, I rated the current job as a 10 and the new job as a 5. 

In the end, you need to take a total of all the criteria. The decision that has the most points wins! In my case, it is clear that I should have stayed at my current job. The list below is only an example which I should have done when I was looking for a new job. You can use this toward whatever decision you need to make in the future. P.S the numbers in the parenthesis are the ‘weight’ of each criterion. 

CriteriaCurrent JobNew Job
Commute (10)105
Salary (7)47
Work Load/Free time (10)105
co-workers (6)63
Career Advancement (7)47
Total3427

 So what if it comes out to be tied or you can’t make a decision?…. Move to Step 2!

Step 2 – What’s the worst-case scenario?

Close your eyes and imagine what the worse case scenarios that can happen. If you don’t know what the worst-case scenario is, then imagine if the decision resulted in what you fear the most. When I close my eyes and imagine spending time at a stressful job, long commute, and with people who are unfriendly, it took a toll on my physical health. The worst-case scenario for me was my physical health decreased and at the time I did not consider this at all when moving to a new job. It was only after the fact that I knew I did not want to work in such a stressful environment. 

What’s your worst-case scenario? How do you think it will affect you, your family, and friends?

Step 3 – Will You Regret Your Decision?

With your worst-case scenario in your mind, now, ask yourself will you regret your decision? Will you be able to live with the worst-case scenario? For me, I did not regret my decision because I wanted to test the water. If I didn’t like the new job, I can always find a new job. 

However, there are many other scenarios that you can’t undo or replace. For example, If I continue with a stressful job, my health can continue to decline to a state with no reversible solution like a heart attack. Therefore, if your worst-case is irreversible, then you might want to reconsider. 

What are some of the decision you are trying to make now? You can share your decision-making skills in the comment section below.

New article post Don’t let FIRE Ruin Your Life and Steps to Prevent This appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Saturday Night Read 1 – Dealing With Childcare While On FIRE

Childcare is one of the biggest expense for a US family. If you are planning to have a child read how to budget for childcare while on your path toward FIRE. New article post Saturday Night Read 1 – Dealing With Childcare While On FIRE appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

While on our path toward FIRE, childcare is an important factor that we as a couple has a difficult time planning for because we do not have a little one to take care of yet. And to be honest, planning for and having a child can be quite scary. However, we should learn from those who have walked the path and start thinking outside of the box on how we can minimize the cost. 

CHILDCARE SWAP: HOW TO SAVE BIG MONEY ON CHILDCARE by HerMoney

“For the next year and a half, we swapped kids, eventually each taking the girls two days a week, which gave us each 16 hours of free childcare weekly. Even on the days I had both girls, I was able to get more done than I could with just my child around since she had a playmate. It was life changing.”

The Cost Of Fourth Trimester Childcare: Potentially $40,000 And Up by Financial Samurai

“My first reaction upon hearing the cost of help was: no, save your money. But as I listened to the reasons why they are strongly considering hiring help, I felt that spending $44,000 over a three month period might be the best money they could ever spend.”

10 Reasons St. Louis is a Great Place to Raise a Family by Financial Pilgrimage

“St. Louis is a great place to raise a family with its affordable housing market, thriving economy especially for female entrepreneurs and start-ups, excellent schools, tons of free and low-cost activities, and a thriving music, theatre, and sports scene.”

For folks who plan/have children, how are you taking care of childcare? Do you have any tip or trick to share?

Click Here to Read More on Childcare!

New article post Saturday Night Read 1 – Dealing With Childcare While On FIRE appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Our Financial Reflection – June 2019

Things are heating up this summer! June 2019 was a good month for stock and the weather. This was the hottest June ever record New article post Our Financial Reflection – June 2019 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.

Things are heating up this summer! June 2019 was a good month for stock and the weather. This was the hottest June ever recorded on Earth with numerous heatwave across the Americas and Europe. Stock is now at an all-time high again, just like how it was last June before the big correction from September – December. Will there be another correction at the end of this year? I sure hope not. Our company finally decided to give a raise after more than 1.5 years of sweating and breaking our wrist for them. 

Things That Went Well

Recently, my co-workers decided to have a BBQ and Hotpot every Thursday. One person prepared the food and the rest chip in about $10. This is a great alternative to going out and I can spend lunchtime eating with my co-workers.

At work, both of us got a title change and a raise. Like an old saying, ‘there is no such thing as a free lunch’. We only got raises because more work is being assigned to us as we speak. Mr.WoF is now considered as a “tech lead” but it is only internal to the team and there is no official title change for that. This just means more work and no raise. Though, he did get a promotion to the next level.

We planned our 3 nights and 4 days Vegas hotel and flight trip for $70! You read that right. The total is $70. Through, Mr.WoF company, we were able to buy a cheap timeshare hotel for 3 nights. We used points from Chase Sapphire to book 2 round trip flight from San Francisco to Vegas for FREE. It’s amazing how credit card points can save you money. Note, you do need to spend 4k the first 3 months you received the card. 

Things That Went South

One of Mr.WoF’s co-worker passed away at an early age of mid-40s years old due to cancer. This event made us think about how we should start taking good care of our body and continue our goal toward FIRE. Mr.WoF was shocked when he first heard the news from his manager and was unable to work for the rest of the day. He knows that the co-worker was having health issues and it was only recently that the coworker went on medical leave. But no one realized it was that serious. 

Imagine yourself working for 20+ years in your career and to be hit terminal illness. You didn’t even get a chance to enjoy your life, to enjoy your ‘soon to come retirement’. This is why we choose FIRE, so we can have more time to enjoy what we want in life before our fragile body deteriorates with old age. Without health, you won’t be able to do anything to bring wealth. If you have health, then you will have the energy, motivation, and the drive to be wealthy. Health is wealth.

Unfortunately, my co-worker, delicious well-prepared lunch did not stop us from eating out more. We were not able to keep up with our goal of eating out only 3 times a month. Ever since we came back from our China trip, we stopped tracking how many times we eat out. This is why keeping track of your spending is really important. Once we stopped keeping track, we are not conscious of the number of times we are eating out. We hope to start eating out less in the coming month by keeping track again.

Expenses

Beside our eating out expense, I had to pay for my MLS realtor association. That was a big chunk of the paycheck =(. If you are considering becoming a realtor as a side job, I shared some of my thoughts about this subject through Side Hustle as a Realtor: Yay or Nay? article. 

The remaining of Mr.WoF bachelor party bills is reflected in this month credit cards bill from last month. Mr.WoF also put a $300 restaurant bill on his credit card; this was during our cherry-picking trip with my coworkers this month. The cherries were super sweet and delicious, however, I learned the hard way that cherry is a natural laxative. The credit cards expense does not include the cash from people paying back Mr.WoF which is ~855.

June 2019 Expenses
expenses this month

Investment Reflection

There was a lot of growth in the retirement budget in June. For 2019, the maximum contribution that you can make to your Roth IRA account is $6,000. I maxed out my Roth IRA account in June. This is one reason that the retirement investment increased so much this month. 

Another large increase is in my HSA plan. I used Livelyme (affiliate link) to invest my HSA money in SPDR Portfolio Total Stock Market ETF (SPTM). My account increased by 6.6% in June! If you need more information on how to invest your HSA, check out Why You Should Use HSA As An Investment

Side Hustle Reflection

We created a dropshipping business! YAY! Unfortunately, we have not made any sales yet. We are still a novice at drop shipping and is trying to learn the ropes. Hopefully, we will be able to make a successful business out of this. And when we do, we will share everything we know with you guys! 

Mr.WoF is working on a new project with a couple of his friends. I can’t really disclose anything yet since it is still in the idea phase and they are looking to launch a minimum viable product (MVP) sometimes this year, hopefully. Will this make us a millionaire? We have no clue but one can only dream right.

Looking Forward

We are looking forward to making our first sale online. Going to need to do more Facebook Advertisement to find our target audience for the first order. We are also looking forward to our Vegas in September! I have never been to Vegas after I turned 21 years old so we are very excited to party, celebrate our anniversary, and birthdays!

Overall

Our passive income went down this month because last month we received cash back from the seller for the commercial real estate deal. The stock market up-trend helped increased our overall retirement and investment accounts this month. Our goal to be a millionaire is up 5.55% =)

In total, we had reached 21% of our goal to retire, 79% more to go. 

June 2019 overall investment
Our overall investments

New article post Our Financial Reflection – June 2019 appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


Is Buying a House a Good Idea For Finance Independence

Buying a house would be one of our biggest purchase in our life time! Would this purchase fit with your path to financial independence? New article post Is Buying a House a Good Idea For Finance Independence appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE...

Is buying a house a good idea for financial independence? At a certain age, buying a house is a rite of passage. After getting a fat student loan, now we are planning to get into more debt. There are a lot of ideas about buying a house as an investment. I agree that real estate investment is a great investment but does your first home count as a good investment? 

A graph of home prices in San Jose showing the peak average price in 2009 is 506k million.
June 2009 San Jose Average House Price $506k From Zillow
A graph of home prices in San Jose showing the peak average price in 2019 is 1 million.
November 2018 San Jose Average House Price $1.01 Million From Zillow

If you were able to buy a home back in 2009 in San Jose, CA, you will double your money by 2019. Yes, I know the graph below is say Nov 2018 but for the sake of simple math let’s round-up. This means that you earned 10% a year for your house. But, do you actually gain 10% after including all of the fees/cost associated with homeownership? Let’s take a closer look at the actual cost of homeownership.

Trust Cost of Homeowner Vs Renting

There are a lot of expenses other than a mortgage payment when you own a home. You will need to pay property tax, insurance, maintenance, and/or HOA. One website that I love to use to calculate rent or buy is Realtor.com. It has most of the costs of homeownership.

As of writing this post, the average home in San Jose, CA is 930k. Currently, My boyfriend and I are paying $850 rent a month for a room with both utility and internet included. Our landlord said there won’t be any rent increase, but for the sake of inflation or change of heart on the rent increase, the calculation will include a 2% rent increase.

In 2009, the housing market crashed. Therefore, the average house price was $506k. If you were able to buy a house during the 2009 crash, you would earn a big chunk of profit. Now, let’s say that you are not so lucky and bought at the high of 2008. Would you be able to recover? 

The peak of 2008 San Jose housing market average home price is $670,000
Peak of Hosing Market 2008 Average San Jose House Price ~ 670k

As you can see in the graph the highest point of the housing market was in 2008 with an average price of 670k. After 10 years, the average house price in San Jose is 1 million. 

  • If you hold the house for 10 years, the total appreciation is 49.25% ((1000000-670000)/670000*100). 
  • Annual appreciation is 4.92% (49.25/10). We will be using this number as appreciation in the Realtor.com calculator. 

Result Buying at Peak Price

As you can see, buying at the highest price back in 2008 would be a bad decision compared to renting. One thing to consider is that we are renting a room in a house. The rent for apartment living style would be more expensive. 

Result Buying at Downturn 

Looking at the history of the housing market, you will earn a buttload of money. PERIOD. The question is are you going to be able to afford a home during an economic downturn? Will you still have a stable job to pay for the monthly mortgage?

Counter Argument Buy Vs Rent

Some of you would be kicking and yelling as you read this post. How can your rent be less than 1k in the bay area? You can read “Tackling the Biggest Spending Categories Part I – Housing” for ideas to decrease your rent. 

What about people who have a big family and need more space and can’t rent a room? There are plenty of places that would let you rent an in-law unit which will be cheaper than renting an apartment. If you are not able to move out of the apartment living style, let’s do the same calculation for living in an apartment. According to RentCafe, the average apartment in San Jose is $2730. Let’s do some calculation for renting an apartment.

From the height of 2008 until 2015, it took 7 years for the housing market to recover when you look at the median sale price graph above. You are owning a house that has negative equity for 7 years. This means for 7 years you are paying more for a house that is worth less than the market rate. To actually earn the 4.92% annual appreciation what we mentioned above you will need to hold the house for 10 years when buying at peak price. 

What If Buying a Cheap House Right Now?

In San Jose right now, there are 5 fixers upper single family for sale under 650k. We don’t know what will be the future appreciation price, so let’s put 2%. The rent will be the average rent in San Jose, $2,730. For 30 years, it would still be cheaper to rent than to buy. Due to home appreciation is at an all-time high, it is not worth it to buy a cheap house.

Buying a house VS renting in san jose area for 30 years
Buying VS Renting Calculator

Buying a House Make Your Financially Vulnerable 

Does your new house need two income earners’ paycheck to pay for the mortgage? What happens if one person loses his or her job? Will you go into default? Now, that is a huge risk of owning a house. If your paycheck is required for your family not to go into bankruptcy, then you are stuck with your job until your house is paid off. 

Would Your House Help Buy a Cup of Starbucks?

People always said that buying a house is their biggest investment. In some cases, it is true. People can buy a house to rent it out to make extra income. In this scenario, yes, buying a house would help you buy many cups of Starbucks.

In reality, most people would only buy a house because they need a place to live in. If you are not doing house hacking which is renting extra space of your house, then your house does not help you buy any Starbucks.

When We Will Be Buying A House?

There are only two of us so having all the extra space and responsibility do not seem to be a wise choice for us currently. However, if home prices come down to $500k in the south bay area, then we believe it would be a good price for a couple to own a single-family house. 

When are you planning to buy a house? Leave a comment below.

New article post Is Buying a House a Good Idea For Finance Independence appeared first on We on Fire - Our FIRE Journey.


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