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Living On One Income

Conventional wisdom says save 10% of your income and you are all set. We all know this is bogus. The only thing that will be set is your working career lasting 40 plus years. The two obvious ways to increase the amount of money you are saving is to increase your income and decrease your spending. There is an interesting life event many people go through where both of these scenarios can happen at once, and it is when a couple moves in together.

As I am in my late twenties and everyone around me is getting married or moving in with their spouse, so I have seen the common scenario. Spouse A pays $900 per month for rent and spouse B pays $900 per month, so when they move in together they get a nicer place in a better location for $1,800 per month. For most people housing is the budget category they spend the most on per month, and they miss an opportune time to decrease it. We all know what this is, it is lifestyle inflation. Couples see their income double when they move in together and start spending more right away.

I have another idea about what should happen when a couple moves in together. Try living on one income. You heard me. Pretend as if you only had one income and try to spend according to that one income. I know this can be a hard task, but hear me out as the benefits are tremendous.

Crush financial goals. In essence, living on one income is saving half of your income (if both spouses earn the same). The extra cash flow left over at the end of the month can pay down student loans, save up for a house down payment, speed up investment goals, etc. Saving half of your income means you can possibly retire in 17 years if you invest it. That is less than half the time of a conventional working career.

Remove money stress. If you’re living on one income and one person gets laid off, what happens? Your savings will go down but you will still be able to meet all of your financial obligations. You might not be paying off debt or investing in your brokerage account with the same vigor, but rent will be paid every month. You will be able to pay for groceries. No debt will be wracked up while the second spouse finds a new job. This also makes it much easier when making the decision if you want to start a family and have one spouse stay at home. Is one spouse really burnt out and needs to take a sabbatical? That’s okay since six months off won’t break the bank. Does one spouse have a passion that does not yield much of an income? It actually is now possible for one spouse to go down that path.

Take risk. If you are living on one income, you can go a period of time without the second income. Does one spouse have a great idea and the entrepreneurial itch? Instead of having to raise money from others to start your venture, maybe you can bootstrap it yourself since your spouse is able to pay all the bills. Starting that business no longer has extreme consequences if it does not work out. We know entrepreneurship is one great way to possibly earn an upper class income and it is much easier to take that risk to potentially earn that great reward if you can live on the other spouses income.

I know this isn’t possible for everyone, but I believe it is something to shoot for at a minimum. If you want to take it even one step further, try living off the income of the spouse who earns less. This will boost your savings rate above 50% and help you crush your financial goals in short order. Financial independence will now be a very achievable goal.

Could you and your spouse live on one income? If so, do you?

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Don’t Leave Them Hanging

Don’t leave them hanging. Specifically don’t leave your spouse hanging financially. Recently my girlfriend introduced me to someone who recently widowed. She is in her late 60’s and is now trying to figure out life without her partner. I’m sure it is a scary time as I have lost aunts and grandparents and I know their spouses go through a lot trying to cope with their new life, which I am sure can feel lonely. What makes this situation even harder is being thrown into something you have never had to worry about in your entire life, money.

From what I have seen it is pretty common in a relationship where one spouse may fulfill a certain role and the other spouse may fulfill a different role. Maybe one spouse cooks and the other does the dishes and laundry. Maybe one spouse earns an income and the other stays home to raise a family. Maybe one spouse takes care of the home, while the other handles the money. Now this is where a big problem may lie.

Say your spouse has done the laundry for the last 35 years and you don’t know how to wash your dirty underwear. I am sure your kids or relatives or YouTube could teach you how to run a washing machine and clothes dryer in about five minutes. Don’t know how to cook? I’m sure those same friends and relatives could teach you how to bake some chicken or use a slow cooker one weekend so that you don’t starve. All the years of not washing your own clothes or cooking your own food can be remedied, quite easily I might add. The issue lies if your spouse has “taken care of” the household finances your entire life and never involved you in that process. This can leave scars that are very hard to remedy.

Back to the woman I met. Her husband took care of the money throughout their marriage. Now she is left alone trying to learn how to pay her bills, where the money is, where the debt is, and what to do with their little nest egg they have left. Why? “Because he always handled the money and I maintained the house.” People who do this might think they are helping their spouse by not letting them worry about the household’s finances, but what they are really doing is hurting them. When the person who handles the finances passes away, suddenly loans against life insurance policies make their appearance, credit card collectors start calling asking for their payment, and you are stuck mourning your loss while wondering if you need to sell the house to be able to meet your living expenses.

This is a wake up call to those who think they are helping their spouses or even children by saying “don’t worry about the money, I’ve got it.” What you are really doing is making their time without you that much harder. It might be easy to learn how to mow the lawn or vacuum, but leaving a spouse to scrape together an income in their 60’s to survive is not how it should be done. Invite them to a monthly money talk and make it fun with booze, snacks, and maybe some Frank Sinatra. Make it a team effort. Involve them from the beginning of the relationship, even if it isn’t “their thing.” This will be something that stays with them long after you are gone.

Do you and your spouse handle money as a team? If not, why not?

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Upping the Emergency Fund

I have historically been against having a huge emergency fund for those who are employed and living below their means. Savings accounts earn about 1% interest nowadays and I would rather have that money invested and compounding.

Personally I have kept $10,000 in a savings account as my emergency fund. This would cover at least four months of expenses for me currently. I’ve always felt comfortable with that amount for multiple reasons. First, if I were to get laid off from my job I would get paid out severance most likely, along with accrued PTO, which would total over 12 weeks of gross pay. Second, I have no debt and don’t own a home, and therefore large unplanned cash outflows are not something I worry about. Third, I’m an accountant by trade and with my certifications and experience I would expect myself to find another job in short order (I’m an optimist) that would at a minimum cover my expenses.

Lately I’ve been feeling an itch to increase my emergency fund to $20,000 up from $10,000. Below are some reasons why I think I’ve felt that way.

Investment Opportunities – All of my net worth, with the exception of my emergency fund, is tied up in low cost index funds. At some point I’d like to diversify a little bit more. I currently have zero interest in being a landlord at this point, but maybe down the road that may change. I recently came across a real estate private investment opportunity. A friend’s in-laws had been investing through the real estate development firm for years and years and only had nice things to say. After looking at the numbers, reading the investment memorandum, and analyzing the related risk, I figured it would be something I would eventually want to look into further. Unfortunately at this point the investment carries a minimum investment of around $100,000 so I don’t think I’ll be partaking anytime soon. In the meantime I’d like to have some extra cash around for various investment opportunities, if they present themselves and I do my homework and decide they would be a good fit for my portfolio.

Starting a business – I’ve always thought I’d start a business at some point. Right now the golden handcuffs keep me concentrated on my day job, but I could see pulling the plug in the next 5 years or so and trying to make it on my own. Who knows what type of business I’d start. Maybe it would just be doing what I do now as a 1099 employee or maybe it would be something completely different. Having an extra cash buffer will help smooth the transition if I ever decide to go the self-employed route.

Home purchase – I don’t think a home purchase is in the cards anytime soon. I like the freedom of renting and with my current career it just wouldn’t make sense. But I do see a home base in my future. I’m constantly on Zillow when I have down time, so I could see myself potentially going after a great deal if it was a perfect fit for me.

Car purchase – I don’t own a car and things could change in my life that would require me to purchase one. I’d much rather have the cash on hand to do so, if I decide to purchase a vehicle. Cash gives you the upper hand when negotiating a car purchase. I’ve always wanted to try out Uber, and I can’t do that unless I have a car. But it obviously wouldn’t be a reason I would buy one.

Cash is king – Cash gives people a sense of security. I don’t think I’ll ever be kicking myself for having a little too much on hand.

Luckily with my cash flow it should only take me a few months to get my emergency fund up to $20,000. I wonder if I’ll feel satisfied when it’s at that level or I’ll want to push it to $25,000 or $30,000. Personal finance is as much about emotion as it is about numbers.

How much do you have in your emergency fund? What is your reason for having that amount (i.e. strictly numbers based, emotional reasons, etc.)?

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Everyday I’m (Not) Hustlin’

It’s been a while since my last post. Summer has flown by as they all tend to do. I’ve settled into my Midwestern lifestyle quite well. The bike I purchased when I moved out here has been getting put to work at least five times per week. I’ve been trying to make it to the gym four times per week. I’ve been traveling all over the place for weddings, holidays, and family events. During travel I’ve been plowing through interesting podcasts. I’ve made a conscious effort to read a lot more. I just finished “How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World” by Harry Browne and I’m now onto the 700 plus page behemoth “Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.” by Ron Chernow (I’ll report back on this one when I finish it in 2018).

My personal finances have pretty much been on auto pilot for some time now. Moving to the Midwest provided some excitement for a while as I didn’t know exactly where my expenses would fall out. But now that I’ve been here for a few months everything is kind of boring on the financial front again.

Researching personal finance, financial independence, investing, etc., has taken up a lot of my spare time in the past few years. Now I’m at a point where I am at a very comfortable spot with my financial plan. My systems are in place and everything is running like a well oiled machine. My 401k contribution is set to max early in the year, my HSA contribution is set to max, every two weeks I invest my surplus cash into Vanguard like clockwork, my debt is gone*, and I’m happy with my run-rate expenses (haven’t cut cable yet but that may be coming soon).

Even though everything looks great from 30,000 feet, I get a little stir crazy at times. I feel like I should be doing MORE. For the past couple years I have been optimizing everything related to my personal finances. Increasing income, trimming expenses, funding emergency fund, investing, paying down debt, etc., all of which took a lot of work, time, and planning. Now I read other personal finance blogs and everyone is talking about that side hustle life. Making extra money outside their normal day jobs to help them reach their financial goals faster. Honestly reading about all this hustling makes me feel a little guilty that I’m not doing more.

After months of figuring out what else I could be doing, I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that it is OKAY to not pursue a side hustle. By no means do I think it is a bad idea to have a side hustle, I actually think it’s a great idea. But for me right now, it just doesn’t make sense. My day job income has been increasing fairly rapidly as of late allowing me to reach my financial goals much faster than originally projected. Therefore the gap between my income and expenses continues to grow. I no longer have debt looming over my head. The more my day job income increases, the more significant the side hustle would have to be to make a dent in my financial goals. I’ve accepted that it’s okay to use my time outside of work to do things that don’t earn money and bring me joy instead.

Part of this FIRE journey is charting your own path without concern for what others are doing. I know I shouldn’t be comparing myself to others, but that doesn’t mean it’s an easy task. The journey itself needs to be enjoyable. I do not need to feel guilty when I’m going for a bike ride or watching Netflix with my girlfriend instead of starting a business on the side. Some may say it’s risky to have all of one’s income completely concentrated in one source. I would agree to a point, but the further your income moves away from your expenses, the less of a risk it actually is. At the end of the day hustlin’ for me would most likely have a slight positive impact on my financial picture, and a larger negative impact on my personal life. And for that reason – everyday I’m not hustlin’.

Do you ever feel guilty when you’re not leveraging your spare time to earn more income? How have you gone about dealing with it?

* – I paid off my last student loan a week ago. I am now DEBT FREE!

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The Stigma of Subsidized

Everyone has been given money, services, or goods at some point in their lives. Usually the main givers are parents. In most cases they at least provide food, shelter, and clothing until the age of 18, at a minimum. In addition, some parents even provide vacations, private music lessons, college education, inheritances, house down payments, cars, investing lessons, and passed down heirlooms. Everyone’s situation is different, but does that mean any one way is “more right” or “more wrong” than the other?

I am a big fan of reddit. In the Financial Independence subreddit there are over one hundred thousand subscribers, many of which share invaluable stories and information which help thousands of other people get ahead financially and reach their FIRE goals. Some people ask advice about how to start on the path to FIRE. Others share how they FIRE’d at 35 years old. Others ask what to do with a recent windfall.

Time and time again I’m shocked at the responses people receive if they received a leg-up financially. Parents paid for college? That is cheating on the path to FIRE! Aunt Ada worked as a secretary until she was 70, always saved money, and left all her grand nieces and nephews $30,000? Well those grand nieces’ and nephews’ financial accomplishments from then on aren’t earned. I don’t know where this negativity stems from. Maybe it is jealousy or it is just internet trolls who have nothing better to do.

I honestly could care less how you got to the financial position you are in? What people have to realize is everyone’s family and upbringing are different. So inherently their financial lives are going to have different paths than yours. In my mind, someone who was taught about retirement accounts and saving half their income growing up will be much better off than the person who received a free college education and $30,000 gift coming from a family that didn’t talk about money.

From growing up in a very rural town, to working in Manhattan, to now living in the Midwest, I’ve seen all sorts of financial situations. Some friends have fully supported themselves since 16, others are in their late 20’s and receiving large amounts of parental financial support such as Manhattan apartment down payments from their parents.

Personally my parents provided the necessities (and more) until I was 22. They would of done it longer but I wanted to act like a grown up and move out on my own. My family covered a little over one year of college and I footed the rest of the bill. Does that mean I’m better than my peers who had all four years paid for by mom and dad? Do my financial accomplishments matter more? HECK NO!

I know that if anyone was to hand me a check for ANY reason, I would put a huge smile on my face and say THANK YOU! Does that make me wrong? I sure hope not.

What is your take on being subsidized financially? Do you receive all gifts (even monetary) with open arms? Why the stigma?

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5 Nights in Cancun on Points

I am by no means a travel hacking professional, but I am trying to learn more and move past being an amateur. I’ve probably opened a new credit card once every six to twelve months or so for the past few years, but haven’t been that strategic about it.

I have a friend (let’s call him Mike) who I would classify as a semi-professional travel hacker / credit card churner and he’s been egging me on to get more serious about it like him. I have obliged somewhat, but when I start mentioning FIRE to him, he doesn’t return the favor.

Mike went to the brand new Hyatt Ziva Cancun all-inclusive resort right when it opened at the beginning of 2016. He was only there two nights but couldn’t stop raving about it. He told me “YOU HAVE TO GO!” I brushed him off for a while, but then started getting the vacation itch. The girlfriend and I were trying to think of what we wanted to do next for vacation. Europe was high on the list and we talked about it for a couple of months. We discussed the different destinations and possibility of visiting some friends over there. But in the end schedules didn’t work out and we decided to put this off until second half of 2017 most likely.

Then I started putting my travel hacking hat on. I started inquiring with Mike and reading some travel blogs. It seemed that Hyatt was offering a smoking deal for it’s Chase credit card. If you signed up for the card you received a $50 statement credit along with two free nights at ANY Hyatt property once you spent $1,000 in the first three months. The annual fee is waved for the first year, and then $75 per year after that. On every anniversary of receiving the card, you also receive a free stay (some restrictions) which will easily offset the $75 fee. This seemed like a no-brainer to me. I discussed with my girlfriend and she agreed, so then we both applied for the card.

Once we received the cards and both spent the $1,000 (we just did this with our normal spend), we were armed with a total of four free award nights. After doing some more research and talking to Mike, we were super pumped about booking the Hyatt Ziva in Cancun. I thought “if we’re flying down to Mexico, let’s try to stay another night.” So with a little more research I found out booking a 5th night was only 25,000 Hyatt points. I had 11,000 from work travel, my girlfriend had 5,000, so I only needed to come up with 9,000 more. Luckily Hyatt is a transfer partner for Chase Ultimate Rewards. The Chase Sapphire card is my everyday card so transferring over 9,000 for an extra night was nothing!

I was a little nervous how much of a pain booking it would be since we were using my two nights, my girlfriend’s two nights, and 25,000 in points. I called with both of our Hyatt Passport numbers and booking it was easy peasy. It took less than 10 minutes. At the end of booking the reservation the Hyatt representative said “you know… if you booked this with cash it would have cost about $3,200!” I also have Hyatt status so she said there was a good possibility we would be upgraded. As a reminder this place looks like the bee’s knees and is all-inclusive.

Flights were pretty simple as well. We’re traveling in January which is pretty far away so I wanted to book flights that wouldn’t cost me an arm and a leg to change or cancel. When you book with Southwest using points, you can change or cancel your flights with full redemption of points and fees. So we booked two round-trip tickets to Cancun on Southwest for 47,000 Southwest points (transferred from Chase Ultimate Rewards) and $157 on fees. The Points Guy values Southwest points at 1.5 cents each so our flight “cost” us 47,000 x 0.015 + 157 = $862. Since there is no repercussion for canceling these flights, I’m going to be keeping an eye on flights using cash and if we can get a good deal, I’ll save the points for another day.

As you can tell we’re extremely excited for this trip but it’s still far away. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying the summer and having a winter trip to look forward to.

Am I still a travel hacking amateur? Have you used points for a recent vacation? If so, share your story.

Note: I am not affiliated with any of these brands and the blog is not monetized. This story was just too good that I had to share.

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Mid-2016 Update

Man have I been busy, and not paying much attention to Fervent Finance. The month of May included packing up my old apartment, selling furniture, moving to the Midwest, traveling for work, traveling back to the Northeast for a wedding, finding a new gym, researching purchasing a bike, and many more things I’m probably forgetting. June, so far, has included traveling for work, buying a bike, and another wedding.

The move to the Midwest has been a great transition for me so far. I am enjoying being back in the burbs with lots of room to roam and with my significant other. I have a nice home office setup which has worked out great.

From my picture at the top of this post you can see I just bought a bike! I’m super excited about it. I have spent about $350 on the hybrid bike and accessories so far (accessories not mounted in the picture). There are bike paths and trails all around me that I’m pumped to explore. I’ve found I live in a pretty decent biking community. This is a pretty big expense for me, but it’s much cheaper than buying a car! I hadn’t biked since I was a kid and forgot how much fun it is. Definitely no regrets so far.

My finances have been way more boring than my actual life. My expenses have averaged $2,453 per month for the first five months of 2016. My goal for 2016 is to spend less than $30,000 (or $2,500 per month), so I’m on pace. I think I should definitely hit that goal since for a little over four months of this year I was living in Manhattan, and now I’m in the Midwest. My savings rate is hovering around 60%, but this should go up the remainder of the year due to the fact that my compensation is somewhat concentrated in the last four months of the year due annual raise and bonus time falling then.

I’ve recently ratcheted up my 401k deferral to 60% in an effort to max it out in July. It is a little tough to see my paychecks shrink, but will be nice to have my paychecks for the final five months of the year be without 401k deferrals. My brokerage account will definitely feel the love during that period.

The girlfriend and I have already devised a nice system for splitting expenses. It’s working great so far. Personally I believe since we discuss finances regularly, it puts us ahead of the game, and gives us one less thing to argue about.

I’m attempting to up my amateur travel hacking game and am currently in the process of booking a free trip to Cancun for the winter. Haven’t locked it down yet but I have the award nights and points in the bank to do it. I haven’t been to Cancun since spring break in college and think it will be a nice change of pace to go with my significant other, rather than during spring break with my college friends. Can anyone say cocktails, naps, and the beach?

The blog has definitely fallen to the wayside due to me spending more time with my significant other, getting into biking, continuing to work out, and traveling for work. But hey, priorities tend to change and I like to be outside during the summer months (at least when work lets me get away from my computer for a while).

How is the start to your summer going, personally and financially? Do you find yourself concentrating on different hobbies and projects as time goes on and seasons change?

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The Move

The Move is officially complete and I’m publishing this post from the Midwest. The last month has felt like a blur. With a bachelor party, grabbing dinner and drinks with friends/coworkers in the city before I left, actual work, cleaning my apartment, throwing junk away, donating clothing, and selling furniture (I ended up selling basically all of my furniture and netted about 440 bucks which I was pumped about), I’ve been quite busy.

Figuring out how to get myself and my stuff to the Midwest was stressful to say the least. I learned that moving companies price their one-way truck rentals based on supply and demand of each location. The big name truck rental companies wanted about $1,200 for a one way truck rental. I almost spit out my coffee when that popped up on my computer screen multiple times. Apparently they need trucks in the Northeast and don’t need them in the Midwest. If I wanted to drive a truck from Atlanta to NYC, it would of only been around $200. Renting a truck quickly fell off my list of ways to move.

So then the wheels started spinning in my head of what to do. I could rent a bigger car or SUV and drive it to the Midwest with my stuff. But then I would have to sell all my furniture. I ran into the same pricing issues with driving the truck rental one way. I’m way too frugal to spend an arm and a leg on a car rental to move my not-that-valuable crap to the Midwest.

Then the best plan of them all came. My sister volunteered to drive her SUV the 2.5 hours to my apartment in Manhattan and help me load it up and bring it to my parents’ house. I thought this was great idea, because it would really force me to pair down my stuff and then I could find a cheap flight to the Midwest and call it a move. I’ve been trying to welcome more minimalist qualities so this ensured that I would have to sell my furniture, donate a ton of clothes, and throw away stuff I didn’t use. This option was a win on all accounts.

This plan worked to perfection. I paid my sister for her gas and troubles, and took her out to lunch. I then booked a $150 flight out to my girlfriends’ in the Midwest (I also got upgraded to first class and was able to check three bags for free, that has to be a good omen for the move and relationship right?). The approximately $200 in moving costs definitely trumped the driving time and potential $1,200 plus gas I would have had to spend on a truck rental or $500 plus gas I would have had to spend on a car/SUV rental.

My parents are doing me a big one by letting me store a bunch of stuff at their house. I luckily (or unluckily, depending on how you look at it) have to come back to the Northeast about a half a dozen times this year for weddings and other events, and will fill a big suitcase every time I swing by my parents. Aren’t parents great?

The stress of the process was a pain, but I’m very happy the move is finally over and that it went according to plan. Now I can concentrate on living the Midwestern life, my girlfriend, and my FIRE goals.

Other happenings

On a side note, some of you saw my tweet a week ago about how an email saved me $2,000. Without going too far into the weeds, when I moved to NYC work loaned me $2,000 with the expectation that I’d pay them back when I moved out. Well that time came and HR emailed me to start figuring out my repayment plan. I obviously would rather keep the $2,000 for myself so I replied to the email noting that I didn’t think it was necessary for me to repay the amount for XYZ personal situation reasons. I didn’t hear back for about a week and then I got an email noting that forgiveness of the loan was approved and it’ll be treated as income, but they’ll foot the tax bill as well! It never hurts to ask people

My boss, who I discussed in my last post, took a group of us out to dinner for my farewell. It was a great time. The core group of guys I work with are the reason I haven’t left my company, even though I could make more elsewhere. We enjoyed a great dinner at a nice restaurant, with a few bottles of red. I felt appreciated which was nice and these types of events funded by work are something I’ll definitely miss when I leave.

I’ve had a string of good fortunes lately which I cannot deny. I hope I don’t revert back to the mean anytime soon with a string of bad luck. I hope everyone’s Mays are off to as good of a start as mine.

Any big life changes on the horizon? Anyone moving to another state?

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Attaining A Remote Work Arrangement

In my last post I shared how although my job is in NYC, I will be working remotely for six months and moving in with my girlfriend in the Midwest. It is an exciting time, of which I spend a lot of figuring out the logistics of the move (which will take place in May) and what to do with all my stuff. I am currently in the process of going through my belongings and donating, throwing away, and selling things (cha-ching!).

Let’s take a step back and talk about how I was able to convince my employer to allow me to do this. I’m going to be fully transparent when I say it took a little bit of skill and a lot of luck to make this happen. To be considered for a remote work arrangement, I think you and your job need to meet certain criteria.

Do a majority of your work from a laptop. In my line of work I spend 95% of my time staring at my laptop. We even do conference calls from out laptops now and don’t even have to pick up the phone! If you’re a plumber, carpenter, or high school teacher, it is very highly unlikely for you to get a remote work arrangement for this reason. In my line of work I travel once a month on average and this will allow me to catch up with coworkers on a regular basis to ensure they know I’m still around. If work or clients don’t sponsor trips like this, it can be harder to have real life face-time with your coworkers and bosses.

Be highly rated and respected at work. Let’s face it if you’re the average worker just punching the clock, it’s less likely your boss would approve something like this. I don’t plan on my career lasting until I’m 65, so I don’t see a point in wasting my time now coasting by. I try to show that I care about work and exceed expectations. This allows me to get away with certain things that some coworkers may not. It gets me more autonomy, more paid for lunches and dinners, and apparently a six month remote work arrangement.

Convey to your boss that your performance will remain the same. Some people have a bad perception of remote work arrangements. Maybe people think you’re just going to sit on your ass all day in your pajamas and get nothing done. I actually do great work when I’m not at the office since I don’t have many distractions. I made sure to convey that my work product would not change at all. My boss did voice concern about my ability to develop those in the ranks below, but I assured that this would not be an issue.

Have a good boss or one who seems to care somewhat about your well being. I’m quite friendly with my main boss. Me working for him wasn’t exactly random. I knew I liked the guy and working on his projects, so once I had the opportunity to work for him, I made sure to do a bang-up job so that he’d keep me around and it’s definitely paid off. He’s a family man and values his time out of the office, and therefore seems to value mine as well. If I was consistently working on projects for the people who eat, sleep, and breath for working at the office, they probably wouldn’t have been as supportive. Some people think that you don’t have any control over who you report to in your career, but I’ve found out with careful planning and some effort, this can be managed to your benefit.

Get lucky! I understand this isn’t an option for everyone and realize that luck did play a role, and for that I’m very grateful.

After the fact I did some reflecting on how I actually presented this idea to my boss. In hindsight I realize I didn’t really ask permission. I had been trying to meet with him live for over a week but he was traveling, so the first thing I did when I caught him in his office was joke that I wasn’t putting in my two weeks to lighten the mood. I laid out my plan for working remotely from my girlfriend’s (he knew I was in a long distance relationship) and assured him we could make it work, that my performance would remain high, and that this was something personal I needed to do. He voiced a couple BS concerns of which I countered, and then he voiced his support. I wonder if my outcome would have been different if I walked in and asked his permission instead…

Do you work remotely? If so, how did you negotiate that arrangement? If not, what is keeping you from asking/telling your employer this is what you would like to do?

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Fervent Goes West

Not to burst your bubble but I’m not financially independent and I haven’t quit working for the man to start a new exciting business. What I did do though, is attain the fabled “remote work” arrangement from my employer (for a six month period)!

I don’t delve into my personal life too much on Fervent Finance, besides my personal financial life of course, but my significant other lives in the Midwest. We have been doing the whole long distance thing for going on two years now, and it’s just getting old. We have talked about her potentially moving to NYC or perhaps us both moving to another major US city where my job has offices as well. To be blunt, I’ve had my fun in Manhattan these last two plus years and I’m ready for a change from city life. I was born and raised in a very small town in New England and kind of miss the slow pace of life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a blast in Manhattan but I’d like to move away from a culture where people pride themselves on how much they work and how much cash they blow on brunches, bars, dinners, and rent. I’m ready to slow down a little and of course be closer to the ole GF.

Here are the quick details. In about a month I’ll be moving to a small city in the Midwest into a condo my girlfriend rents. I’ll still be based out of NYC for work and will travel as usual for work, but I won’t have to report to the office. Can anyone say Manhattan salary with a Midwest cost of living??? Geographic arbitrage for the win! After six months of this remote work arrangement my boss and I will sit down again. I’ll most likely try to squeeze some more time out of him, but he could ask me to report back to NYC at that time. I’m not worried about that yet, I’m going to enjoy my remote work arrangement and worry about that when the time comes. There are a ton of potential opportunities at that point which may include saying no and playing hardball, getting another job, just moving back to the NYC area, starting my own business, etc. Only time will tell.

Now let’s discuss what everyone has been waiting for – how the arrangement will affect my finances:

  1. Rent – Off the bat it appears my rent will go down by over two thirds and I’ll be living in a space that is more than twice as big as my current apartment. No surprise here, as Manhattan real estate is a tad on the highly priced side.
  2. Utilities – I’ll be moving to a bigger space and splitting utilities with one person instead of two, so this will naturally go up a little.
  3. Travel – Unfortunately I won’t have as many big airports nearby so personal travel will be more expensive. Luckily since my rent is decreasing, I will be able to recoup some of the extra potential cost of personal travel to fly back to the Northeast to see family and attend the multitude of weddings I have this year in that area. Why can’t eloping become the new hot thing to do? I kid, I kid.
  4. State income taxes – I’ll be moving to a state whose income tax rate will be less than half what I’ve been paying in NYC, and also has lower sales tax. One of the disadvantages of living in Manhattan is the NYC resident tax which is on top of NY state income tax if you live within the five boroughs. This is an additional ~3.5 percent tax on my income for the privilege of living in NYC.

I’ll definitely miss Manhattan. I’ll miss my reasonably priced gym within walking distance of my apartment, with four squat racks. I’ll miss the farmer’s market on my block with incredible produce and very reasonable prices. I’ll miss the convenience of walking everywhere and public transportation. I’ll miss three airports within an hour’s travel which made personal travel cheap. I’ll miss the overall convenience and buzz.

I won’t miss dogs doing their business anywhere they please, tourists walking four-wide on the sidewalk, staying at the office for long hours as a badge of honor, inclement weather when I need to walk somewhere, smokers blowing their pollution at my face, among other things.

I do look forward to time with the GF, more easily accessible outdoors, new adventures, slower pace to life, and of course being in a lower cost of living area.

For those wondering how I was able to convince my employer to let me do this, I’ll share that story in my next post. Hopefully it will benefit others looking to do something similar.

Who wants to help me move? Has anyone negotiated a remote work arrangement with their employer? Personally, could you go back to working at an office after working remotely for six months?