I Will Teach You To Be Rich- OMD EDITION

Do you want your lovely gorgeous stunning friends at OMD to help you live your rich life? Post case studies here! Share what you like from numbers to thoughts and feels and we’ll give you kind rich-life-inspired feedback.

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I don’t currently have anything to be case-studied but I am so in for this generally.

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I can’t wait!

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So excited!! I am hereby committing to doing one of these.

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Aww yiiiiissssss so excited!!

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Yay! I ran some numbers this morning and will write mine up during lunch :blush:

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I’ll bite, for the sake of inspiring conversation.

Background: from childhood through about 3.5 years ago, “optimizing finances” for me meant minimizing expenses and increasing savings. Then for about 2 years, the same plus starting retirement savings and paying back a family loan.

We are now stable enough that even as we pursue Big Goals like a CA sized down payment and FU/lean FI, I strongly believe we should give generously. And while I do get positive feelings from both seeing the food bank charge in Mint and sending a generous gift to a friend, I also get feelings of guilt, an internal voice berating me for throwing money to the wind! It also feels awkward and condescending to offer or send big gifts to a friend who earns less (typically for her kids in some way).

How do I realign these feelings of guilt and/or approach personal/direct generosity in a sensitive way so it can be integrated into my Rich Life?

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This is an interesting question! For me, part of what drives my donation budget is guilt if I DON’T spend it and a feeling that I would be ashamed for people to know how much wealth I have without at least trying to make the world a better place.

I feel a personal obligation to share some of that wealth along the journey rather than trying to cultivate a more generous mindset once I’ve reached some sort of FI. And that’s a good thing for me because as I’ve gotten older and realigned my values the FI number has gotten higher and further away (I refuse to say that chosing to buy a house and have a child is lifestyle creep lol).

It was hard at first but some things that helped:
Step one was deciding on two fixed $/month recurring donations to organizations we believe in. A few years later I made a specific budget category for donations and committed to spending it to zero each month. That could be giving some money to a friend or go fund me, or it could be donating to a 503c org but when I reconcile the budget every month I usually have to decide where to spend it that day. I have a few stand by orgs if I don’t have something pulling on my heartstrings but frequently I donate to the issue of the week (Ukraine, indigenous covid resources, BLM, etc)

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It’s interesting that giving can ping as condescending to you and also that it can make you feel guilty. How do you feel when you are in the position to receive from others? Or maybe you haven’t been on that end of things? Of course I think people can give in a condescending way, but I don’t think it’s the giving so much as the intent and attitude behind it.

Giving is such a joyful thing in my life <3 I look forward to giving more the more I have. I think I had a lot of good examples of that growing up. I’m so lucky in that way. I get excited when I up our donations each time our income goes up–I stopped tracking here because I decided that wasn’t right but I track privately and it makes me so happy!

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I use giving as a way to assuage some of privilege/wealth guilt so I’m probably approaching this from the opposite side of the emotional spectrum, but I don’t give to people I know IRL unless they are actively having a fundraiser (like a GoFundMe) or if I can link it to their work somehow (we gave a friend who runs art/drama classes and tutoring money at the beginning of the pandemic money for the business and gave another friend who is a writer a new laptop). Other than that I only do stuff like pay for tickets or dinner. Now that I’m writing this out I’m wondering if my assumption that they’d refuse the gift if there wasn’t a “good reason” is a projection, but I don’t want them to feel beholden to me OR entitled to more money so I just haven’t touched it.

ETA: but step one is deciding an amount! I do 10% but I didn’t have student loans and have more family money every year so while we would have a LOT more in savings without that it hasn’t been restrictive. Also every time we give away more money we get a windfall, so maybe karma is real.

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This is also really interesting. Do you not trust whoever you gave the money to to make good decisions with it?

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Ok, here goes! :cold_sweat:

CW: Ridiculously wealthy/privileged person trying to find the right balance of stress around money
CW2: I am a verbose person who provides too many details

About me: Married with one kid in a VHCOL area.

“Big Insights”

Why yes, I had a really great upbringing but with constant money worry in the background. We had a lower-middle class income but an upper-middle class life with stress about having enough for the grocery store and the credit card bills. As I got older, the situation slowly improved. A mix of privilege, aptitude, and desire to be in a different situation meant graduating college with reasonably small debt and successfully pursuing a very high income career.

Wealth

$1M in investments, $700K Mortgage Debt, $100K home equity, $10K emergency/home repair fund

Rich Life Successes
  • We bought a home we loved last year, despite the price tag. Do indeed love it. There’s a long list of aesthetic improvements we’d still like to make ($30-70K) but it’s fully functional.
  • We are going on two vacations this year!!! (Total cost ~$5K, already paid for)
  • We have made several upgrades to our little home
  • My child wants for nothing (except sharp objects and watching tv all day :stuck_out_tongue: )

Ok, so what’s the problem?? Last week I would have said that I’m having a hard time justifying spending the money on our house that we want to spend in the next 1-2 years instead of painstakingly spread out over the next 5-7 years while still adding the majority to investments. And that I have a wish list of personal items I’d like to justify spending money on.

Surprise Twist: We are likely going down to one income for 4+ months due to startup-world shenanigans. We’ll reassess after 3 months and if things are not improved, spouse will look for a new job.

Yikes, we need to cut spending! Help me figure out what’s reasonable and assure me we are not suddenly on the path to financial ruin?

The Monthly Numbers
Categories Average
Fixed Housing Costs (Mortgage, Utilities, Property Taxes, Car/Commuting, etc.) $4,800
Childcare $2,200
Food (Groceries/Restaurants/Alcohol) $1,050
Other Life Expenses (Household goods, Kid stuff, Medical, parking, etc.) $2,300
Luxuries (Vacations, Home Upgrades, etc.) $1,950
Donations $600
Total $12,900
**Current Monthly Take-home ** $12,950
One Income Take-home (with 401K) $8,050
One Income Take-home (without 401K) $9,500

Even if I stop retirement contributions we’re going to need to give up all luxuries, donations, and cut our food + life expenses budget by ~$1K/month. We will move takeout from 1/week to 1/month. Make coffee before we go on a family walk instead of walking to the little coffee stand, etc. I think we can do it?

We can definitely do it. How to do it with a ‘rich life’ mindset instead of a ‘panic mode!! We will only eat beans and rice for the next 6 months’ mindset?

Would you buckle down and live as cheaply as possible? Plan to use some of the emergency fund as a savings buffer so you could still re-pave the patio as planned?

If you were me, how would you think about donations vs fun spending during this time since we are going to be in a high income but high fixed expenses window?

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Hi hi! I’m excited for this new thread. :smile:

Ah the joys of startup land. Fingers crossed for spouse and their job!

So, it looks like for a little while your fixed costs will be taking up most of your income - housing+childcare is $7k, food for 3 people is going to be something even if less than $1k. That’s already most of your $9.5k takehome. It would obviously be great if you could keep expenses within your takehome pay but making a big jump like that instantaneously can be really hard to actually do, especially with high fixed costs.

I think a lot of this is about your risk tolerance! You definitely could lean entirely on your investments and still re-pave the patio but selling stocks in a down market isn’t ideal. And you could also work on cutting back on expenses while still leaning a little bit on your savings/investments - it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

From what I’m reading, you have a $10k emergency fund which would cover a little less than 1 month of your expenses, right? That’s the first thing that jumped out at me. If you kept spending at current levels, with one income, you’d deplete that in 3 months. My focus would probably be on saving up a bigger cash cushion…probably diverting 401k money in order to build that up, though I’d have to run the numbers and convince myself that was a good idea.

If only I knew how to convince my brain that there are in between options available, lol. :sweat_smile: Here’s one point - if you tried to close 50% of the gap with cutting back expenses and 50% with your savings, the savings would last you 6 months. Which is plenty of time for spouse to get a new job, hopefully! So I might aim for something like that, at least for the next month, and see how that feels.

This is such a personal thing! Ideally I would want to keep donations at the same relative level - before, you were spending 5%ish on charity/gifts, so maybe cut back so that it’s still 5% overall? TBH figuring out “how much is the right amount” stresses me out which is why I go with a percentage based system. :sweat_smile: But also you can pause donations now and check back in after a month or two - see how your budget feels, make “catch up” donations if you feel able to, take some of the pressure off yourself.

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Oof I have been there(ish) and it was Not Fun. Just after I started my job there were some Shenanigans at H’s small company and his paychecks were very irregular for a year. But also he was still working so there weren’t SAH person savings.

We were still coming off grad student lifestyle and going from holidays into spring (historically lower spending), so we went back to that mindset and were a bit more conscious of take out, but we still got rock climbing gym memberships (and new gear). I did not cut back retirement contributions, but I did postpone paying back a family loan (and eventually did it in a year).

I think in your case, I would also postpone (not cancel!) any purchases, improvements, vacations type luxuries that seem reasonable, ie go see family or to a wedding but don’t plan a new trip to Europe. And maybe reevaluate food spending if you have bandwidth (not judging, I’ve stopped tracking mine :grimacing: I just know my food budget can be trimmed). But also if you need to pull from EF for regular life things the first month or two while you adjust… give yourself grace :two_hearts:

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I will answer this as if I were suddenly you and dropped into your life facing the exact same scenario. Brevity is not my gift, either. :laughing:

Summary

I would approach this period as a time for growth and reassessment. A consumption cleanse, if you will, so the focus is less on what you’re (very temporarily) losing and more on what you can gain. I would not cut donations but I would cut most luxuries but probably not vacation- I would keep at least one vacation for the year because with $1 million in investments that’s totally reasonable IMO.

Food costs can easily be halved without eating only rice and beans and with plenty of fun extras! I would give up drinking alcohol for the time period in question too, to really make the focus not just MONEY STRESS but also, life reset, habit reevaluation. I would also make a goal of putting one free thing on the family calendar per-week, at least. Even if you don’t do all of them! It can be simple like exploring a park (but make it specific, which park and when?) or going to a street fair or having a designated taco bar and movie night at home with kiddos friends or libraries, free days at museums, free farm events, free conservation center events, etc. I think seeing that there is still a ton of possibility without spending anything is super empowering, and I think you might end up doing some things you wouldn’t have otherwise!

I would be spending a lot more time on doing things to save money during this period, too. Food prep and lunch packing and cleaning if you currently have a cleaning person and cutting your lawn if you currently have a lawn person, etc. I would use these tasks as a character exercise and a gratitude practice. I would also make a list of all those little life-improving things that I’d been meaning to get to but had been “too busy” to do, like reorganizing drawers or going through old boxes or organizing old photos, hanging pictures in a new way, moving furniture around, etc. And I would have a personal list of indulgences that are still open to me- podcast and bubble bath, self pedicure, free online pilates, walk with friend, crafting if that’s your thing, baking something new, etc. Maybe there are other goals too, if you have them- like getting outside once a day for 20 minutes, meditating for 5, etc. It can be small! The goal would not be to see this as a THIS MANY DAYS CHALLENGE but more like, reset. Rest. Stop. Look. It’s not about doing every single free event and a million goals and reorganizing your entire house- this stuff is partly just so you don’t have a single moment of “there’s nothing to do!” or “I’m bored!” and also to inspire you to remember there are so many options for how you spend time.

I would also not see it at all like money panic mode! I think you can maintain a rich life mindset easily, but to make sure you do I would create a word document with hard facts. How much will your net worth be in 30 years if you don’t invest another penny? I’ve heard doubling every decade is a rough estimate- so $8 million? I’d write that down along with whatever other facts you can come up with. These should be facts that disprove the idea that you are in financial peril, so maybe also the average income for your respective fields, etc. When I read the document later, during emotional times, I would make a rule of asking myself: does this sound like someone who is in financial peril? Of course it’s no, and so then you can remind yourself “I feel stressed because conditions in my life have changed and change is highly stressful, but I am not in real danger. I am more protected from peril than most people in the world, and most of them are ok, so I will be ok.”

I think that helps to acknowledge that yes, something is happening. And yes, it is stressful because it’s new, but it’s not a disaster or a tragedy. It could even be an adventure! It’s possible more changes will have to be made if things don’t go how you’d like, but even that could end up being a great thing! For example, I am so happy my husband and I ended up priced out of our last city. I have made such good friends where I am now and I never would have met them otherwise! Who could have predicted it?! This can be a wonderful chapter that drops you neatly on the other side with renewed confidence in yourself and your family and maybe with some new interests or realizations or hobbies or who knows what!

I think the key is focusing on positive possibility while actively doing things that will benefit you if things persist longterm. I would also recommend having someone you can confide in about the experience, unfiltered, but not someone who will pile on. Tap into your positive can-do attitude IRL friend for venting and pep talks that make you feel better and not worse after! It’s ok and normal to be stressed at so much change.

Oh and I second @iualia’s cut back plan- the one month e-fund would bother me a bit day-to-day. I think it’s good you have some timelines in mind already, too.

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Yes, this is the issue! If he we’re actually unemployed he would have extra time to be cutting the grocery budget and possibly cutting down childcare costs! But I don’t want to be penny-wise and pound-foolish if they do pull through with a buyout or big partnership in a few months.

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YOU WANT TO FIRE THE POOL GUY?!?!?!

Sorry, I had to :joy::joy::joy:

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My family exercised generosity, eg my mom would always welcome and feed my friends (even teenage boys!) without batting an eye, we had dinner parties, they would take my friends on outings and not accept reimbursement for tickets, we had a pretty generous bday gift budget for friends. But we didn’t/don’t give money as a gift, generally. For logistical reasons we got gift money from grandma but it was earmarked for “you have to go get something you like and tell grandma about it.”

We did not formally give to charity or organizations. For some reason (possibly the not giving money), that action got coded not to “like personal gift” but to “like buying something” and buying nothing is objectively a bad deal :joy:. I mentally know that I’m buying a little better world for everyone, and I have vetted the org, but rewiring the feelings is harder!

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If he (60%, and you, 40%) have faith in the company and see a potential upside, it’s totally valid to stick it out! I like that you’ve already picked a date to reevaluate. We did the same, especially knowing we are both inclined to loyalty to colleagues, if not organizations, and were likely to be last to jump ship.

I will say, those months were at times stressful due to uncertainty, but there were also days of like “holy moly I can afford to provide 2 people a basically middle class lifestyle in a VHCOLA on my own! How rad am I!?”

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This is such a great way to think about it! We can definitely cut back a lot of the gap, I’m confident we can cut out the luxuries full stop which brings our current average spend (including donations) to $10,600. That’s only about a $1000/month gap so if I can bring that down further then the savings fund lasts longer.

I’m thinking that we set donations at $300/month and then play a little mind game that if we are successful at reducing expenses then anything ‘extra’ at the end of the month below my take-home salary gets split evenly between fun stuff for me and donations. That way the donations budget gets a bit bigger but I also get some frivolous things?

ETA: And by “me” I mean the family of course :stuck_out_tongue:

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