Why We Decided to Hold Off on Children

By guest author June, she’s a new blogger over at Dinks.co, read about her journey!

After marriage, one of the first questions that many young couples get is, “So, when are you going to have kids?” My partner and I have gotten used to the question, which has been repeated in a variety of forms in the years since we have gotten married. The truth is that while we do want kids, we are also enjoying our lives without them. As a two income household without any children, we have been able to reap financial rewards from our decision to put off starting a family. This will ultimately put us in a better position once we do decide to have children.

We Are Better Able to Manage Our Home

The first major purchase that we made as a couple was our house. While we love our home, it requires quite a bit of time, money and effort from us. We spend a lot of time on improvements, and have put quite a bit of work into make it our dream house. Without kids in the picture, we can devote our weekends to things like retiling the kitchen or adding on a deck. These not only increase our enjoyment of the place but they also increase its value — something that will be useful if and when we decide to sell. Putting off having children has allowed us to take our starter home and turn it into a beautiful showpiece.

Being child-free has given us more than time to do these home improvement projects. It has given us the money to purchase high quality tile and top of the line appliances to replace broken or outdated ones. We can handle mishaps with relative ease (such as when the old hot water tank broke) because we are not spending $1000+ a month on daycare.

We can also put more money each month towards our mortgage. Based on a mortgage calculator, the few hundred dollars that we add to our mortgage payment every month will shave more than 5 years off of our mortgage — along with tens of thousands of dollars in interest payments. Waiting to have kids allowed us to make this happen, which will free up our money later to devote to other things, like saving for college.

We Can Pay Down Debt Sooner

Each of us came into the marriage with certain debts, like student loans from college. We also had some credit card debt that had to be addressed. Because we each earn a healthy salary, we are able to dedicate ourselves to paying down our debt, focusing ourselves on a particular strategy (the debt avalanche) to become debt-free before we become parents.

We know that once kids arrive, certain expenses cannot be avoided — diapers, clothes, new clothes and shoes, car seats and more. By devoting our extra money to debt now, we can start off on the right financial foot while we have the spare cash.

High interest rates can make it incredibly difficult to get out of debt. That is why we are so devoted to putting as much money as possible towards our high-interest debt. By waiting to have kids — and taking the financial hit of setting up a nursery, maternity leave and so forth — we can chip away at our biggest debts until we pay our debt off early.

We Can Save for Retirement More Effectively

Finally, by waiting to have kids, we are in a better position to save and invest. With two incomes and no children, we have more financial freedom than we otherwise would. This gives us the ability to max out our 401(k)s, contribute to Roth IRAs, and even start investing to maximize our nest egg. If we currently had children, saving for that dream retirement would be much more difficult.

Once we have kids, we would either be bringing in less money, or paying more each month in order to earn the same amount. One parent would likely need to either stay home from work or cut back to part-time, or we would be paying a fair amount of money for child care. This significantly reduces the amount that we can contribute towards retirement and other savings and investment.

On top of that, we would also have to start contributing to a college fund, paying for numerous other expenses, and otherwise plan our finances in part around our child. While the joy of a baby would be worth it, we know that we aren’t ready yet — which is why we are taking advantage of being child-free for now to maximize our saving and investing.

Final Word

There are many financial advantages to having two incomes and no kids. The ability to manage our household better will give us an edge in the future, when our home has greater value and we owe less on it. We can also use this time to pay down our existing debts, and to continue to save and invest as much as possible. By taking all of these steps, we are positioning ourselves to be in the best place possible when we eventually do decide to become parents.

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Healthcare, Assisted Living: Our Future in Mexico

Q&A with a Reader

Hi There!

My husband Paul and I just moved to Mazatlan in September and love where we are renting, but I am now looking forward to finding an affordable 2 bedroom cottage or apartment, that allows pets, and has retirement living amenities.  A place where we can add on in-home care as needed in the future sounds perfect.  Then we won’t have to keep moving.

We are both 64 years old.  I will turn 65 this year, so also wondering if there are age restrictions for starting Long Term Care Insurance?

Do any retirement communities in Mexico give a locked in price if you commit to staying longterm?  We are living on our social security with almost no savings (a business failed at just the worst time).

We would be interested in Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo San Lucas, Todos Santos, Huatulco, Puerto Escondido, Lake Chapala, or possibly beach areas in Eastern Mexico (we are not familiar with that side).  My husband prefers staying near surfing beaches.

Thank you for any advice or resources.

Best regards,

Mary and Paul

Hi Mary and Paul,

Thank you for writing.

Congratulations on finding an affordable retirement location despite the financial roller coaster you both have been through. We understand and we send our best support to you both!

First, let me say that “retirement communities” with retirement amenities are a new idea in Mexico. The older members of the family are taken care of by the younger members of the family, often having Grandma and pa move in with them, so that there is inter-generational living. I think that Mexico is seeing the business possibilities of this idea (with more and more Boomers retiring and moving to Mexico) and there are plans in the works for facilities such as you mention.

I am going to give you some links where you can do research on your own, or links to forums where you can ask those who are living locally what the rental and “aging/assisted living” situation is in their location. The forums are free to join.

You might try looking at our Chapala Medical Care page that lists assisted living facilities in the general area (scroll down to almost the bottom to find this section). Several of them have nurses on site and regular doctor visits to patients are available. Some also provide taxi service to take you to your doctor as well. Some even have “comfort dogs” on site.

Here are some links to forums – 

Chapala Web Board Forum    Chapala Club      Inside Lakeside

A couple of articles:

Continuous Care: Opening Up the Conversation

Questions on Continuous Care in Latin America | RetireEarlyLifestyle.com Blog

And here is our Relocation Page where you will find Expat forums where you might be able to post your questions in order to have locals answer them.

In terms of what you might do in the meanwhile, you can always hire a local to do your shopping, cooking and cleaning. You can hire a nurse to come to your home on a regular basis to check in on you, administer meds, take your blood pressure or other simple procedures. Doctor visits can be arranged, either having them come to your home or more likely, having a taxi service on retainer to bring you to your appointments and back. These services are far more affordable in Mexico than in the States.

As far as Long Term Care Insurance, I personally don’t know anything about it, but you could take a look at our Medical Insurance Page to see if any of the underwriters offer this option.

I would advise keeping yourself open to new prospects and to not get discouraged. With a little creativity you could put together something that works for you.

If you have further questions, feel free to write.

Wishing you both the very best,

Akaisha

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I Want to Simplify and Travel

Q&A from a Reader

I just came across an article about your decision to leave convention behind and really live.  I need help to convince my conventional husband that we can do the same thing.

Can you help?

I will be looking into your books, etc. but appreciate anything else you have for “ammunition”.  I am a free spirit that thought security was more important than anything.

We are both over 50 now and I have learned that we will do well in whatever we put our mind to.  My husband is cautious by nature and loves the idea but is afraid to step forward.

Help!

Thank you for your inspiration!

Rachel

Hi Rachel,

Thanks for taking the time to write, and for your interest in our website and books.

We do explain in both of our books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, about finding out what your net worth is, tracking your spending so you know what you are spending per year and per day. We also speak about the Safe Withdrawal Rate, where if you spend, say, 4% of your net worth or less per year, the theory is that you will never run out of money.

If you track your spending, there will be no surprises about how much money you have or where it goes. If you do it daily, then you can aggressively manage that figure to be what you want it to be to keep you in line with having a sustainable retirement.

We also discuss the 4 categories of highest spending in any household — housing, transportation, taxes and food/entertainment. If you modify any or all of these categories, then you are able to “find extra money” to either spend elsewhere or to invest.

Be free to travel! Be free to LIVE!

In Your Retirement Dream IS Possible, we discuss when partners have a different vision of retirement, and give suggestions on working those challenges out.

One thing to do is to focus on what will make your partner happy, what they are attracted to, and — say in your case — how you can make it sustainable, practical and “secure.”

Partners often will fight the idea because they have questions that are not resolved or they feel threatened in one way or another (“You” want to travel “they” want to stay home. “You” want to work on being a pillar of the community, mentoring, using your expertise, “they” want to be a vagabond and let go of heavy responsibilities — and so on.) The best way to get a partner on board is to appeal to what they like, and work out a viable plan between you, where you both get what you want.

Pushing, or threatening or emotional blackmail (not that you might do this, but we have heard from other couples) doesn’t work. The partner entrenches their feet into the ground, and then you have a bigger problem.

Akaisha and her Maya friend, Panajachel, Guatemala

You might take a look at our Retirement Issues Page as well as our Preferred Links Pages which address many issues of retirement and they give you options. Also, take a quick look at our Annual Spending Update which is recent as to the end of 2017.

Feel free to write to us any time with your questions, as we are happy to help.

Again, thank you for writing.

Best Regards,

Akaisha and Billy

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Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring a Moving Company

 

 

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5 Things Your Mover Wishes You Knew

 

 

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Don’t hang up your gardening hat just yet, check out these clever wintertime gardening ideas

 

Thank you for visiting the RetireEarlyLifestyle Blog!

This post is no longer live, but if you want to know more about financial independence, world travel and medical tourism, please visit our website.

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

Thank you!

 

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Online shopping for new mattresses made easy

Darren Wilson

Everybody needs sleep especially when very tired. Your body needs to rest if you want to function well the next day, but you can’t have that if you are sleeping on a rock-solid bed or a mattress that’s already falling off the seams. You know why? Because it can damage your back and will cause so much discomfort that you would rather sleep on your couch. Also, people who already have an existing back problem will not appreciate having a foam that could damage their backs even more.

Choosing the best mattress can be hard because there’s a lot that you will need to consider like the brand, how it could affect your spine, and so on. But it’s even harder for people who have no time to go to the mall to do their mattress shopping. So what do they do? They order online and of course; most people may think that it’s not OK to look for your new mattress online because you can’t try it out. But what they don’t know is that there are a lot of benefits when you choose this method too.

No salesperson to hover around you

Imagine shopping alone and there’s a person asking you all kinds of questions that will irritate you more than help you out. It’s only natural for employees to do this but you will really know when they are trying to hit their quota because they will pressure you in buying their most expensive products for extra incentives. Before you do your shopping online, you can research mattress reviews or use a reputed forum to ask and get answers and then look for a reputable store (offline or online) that has the product you like.

You get to buy a cheap but high-quality mattresses

When you go to a mall, you will probably notice that almost all items are overpriced but once you check for the online price, you will see that there is a huge difference with the online price being cheaper. The reason why stores will mark up their prices is because they are also paying for other expenses that comes with operating a store. Ordering online will really make a difference and you’d get to own that mattress you have been eyeing for a more affordable price.

It’s more convenient when it’s shipped right to your address

No more tying your brand new mattress at the top of your car or paying for an extra delivery charge when your house is just a few blocks away from the store where you just bought it because most online-only mattress brand will ship it you at no cost especially if you’re a first time customer. Just look for the right online mattress manufacturer and you’re good to go.

Shopping online isn’t so bad as long as you have the idea on what you want to buy and which online store/shop can give you only the best. it’s true that there are disadvantages like it’ll be hard when you try to return it, but the easiest solution for that is to do extensive research first in order to avoid being in that situation.

 

 

 

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Pros and Cons of RV Living and Other Housing Options

Q&A with a Reader

Hi Billy and Akaisha:

Thank you both so much for sharing your wonderful experiences and wisdom about early financial independence and retirement in your fantastic newsletter and guidebooks!  I thoroughly enjoyed the recent article on your newsletter about Akaisha’s early adventures riding on a motorcycle to Alaska and across the U.S.

I was wondering if you have ever written an in-depth article about your time traveling across North America together in a Fifth-Wheel RV.

I know many of your readers, including myself, are considering an RV to replace the “Bricks and Mortar” conventional home to allow for a more mobile retirement adventure.  In contrast to an RV retirement route, however, I also see the strong appeal of your recent comments on pursuing the lowest infrastructure in retirement.

Simple infrastructure!

I realize that everyone’s thoughts on retirement will differ, but I am truly curious as to your personal thoughts, experiences, advice, pros/cons, costs vs. benefits, and so forth, regarding an early retirement involving an RV for a traveling home compared to your current far lighter, more nimble, and zero maintenance & repair choice.

Best regards,

Kevin B.

Hi Kevin,

Thank you for your enthusiastic comments regarding our newsletter and website. We appreciate it!

In regards to your question about living the RV life in retirement, we would say the following:

It is a GREAT life.

The people you will meet on the road and in the RV parks are friendly, open, and are of a wide variety of personalities, and income brackets.

We would suggest that you start out purchasing a used RV – search Craigslist (especially in RV retirement locations like Arizona, Southern California, New Mexico, Florida, etc.) There is no reason to purchase new and when you buy used you will literally save yourselves thousands and thousands of dollars. If you purchase in a state with no sales tax, then you save again.

The simple life…

We chose to have a tow vehicle (a used 1 Ton pick up) and a separate 5th wheel. In this way, there was only one motor to worry about, and if your truck or tow vehicle is in the shop, you still have a place to live. We know of people who chose a Class A RV, with the slide outs, washer and dryer and so on (lots of motors) … and if anything needs repair, then they are in a hotel (spending money) until the repair is done. If the new RV is still under warranty, then one must go to special repair places and parts need to be ordered, and again… one is in the hotel without the means to cook meals or the convenience of your home.

One couple we know just started out on a two month trip, with 1 month of food purchased and stored and then needed repairs to their Class A. They couldn’t use the food in the freezer and refrigerator since they had to wait so long for the repairs to be done. I think they gave the food away

It’s something to think about. I know those slide outs are very attractive, but when they don’t work… it’s a hassle.

Relaxing by the beach

Also, there are size limitations in some National Parks so if you have a unit that is too long, you have to forego seeing that park. Do a bit of research so you know what you are looking for in an RV – size, price, age, slide outs or not, washing machines or not, and so on. Remember, the heavier your RV, the less miles per gallon you will get with your fuel.

Also, we recommend to travel slowly. There really isn’t a reason to drive hundreds and hundreds of miles in a day (the price of fuel will add to your costs) then stay a night or two somewhere, and then drive hundreds of miles again 3 days later – only to stay a night or two somewhere else.

We “lived the life.” That means we often bought a month’s rent at a time (a discount is often available) in places that allowed us to stay a month. (some only allow you to stay a week.) Then sometimes we would stay in a campground for a week… travel 7-10 miles down the coastline, and stay in another park for a week.

We would mix upscale park sites in between staying in BLM dry camps (Bureau of Land Management). These campsites, because they are dry camping and you are not hooked up to electricity or water are cheaper. Sometimes we stayed in Wal*Mart parking lots or even in a friend’s driveway. The slower you travel, the more you save on fuel and rental prices for your site.

RV resorts offer lots of amenities

In the days that we were RVing, there was no internet or WiFi, but today there is. So I would research how to get hooked up to the internet so that you have communication — Email, Skype, Facetime, paying bills, banking/managing your finances and so on. You can also stream TV or movies these days. Research whether or not you want a generator in case of power failure and whether or not you want some sort of solar paneling to help with utility costs.

You can also consider doing Workampers which will save you money on site rental and you might even be able to make some money.

There are lots of sites to give you current information such as Good Sam Club, Woodall’s Campground directory, and the RV forums and park reviews. (Check out our Travel Housing Page.) Also, you will probably need an online mailbox system to monitor and retrieve your mail. We use Traveling Mailbox. This article explains how it works.

As an alternative lifestyle, you might also consider a combination of house sitting and various hotel and apartment rentals. This is also a terrific way to travel and manage the housing cost portion of your retirement.

House sitting can be “free” housing, and sometimes the owners will pay you for watching their home and pets. Apartments and hotels will give you a discount for a month’s stay. In this way you have no particular cash outlay (like for an RV and tow vehicle or for a snowbird location) but you can still travel all over the world.

The world is a big place! Travel and Explore!

We have a small park model in Arizona, and if you have not read this article on Worry Free Housing, I would recommend that you do so. It explains the benefits of having such a home. In this way, you could stay in one favored location for 6 months of the year, and perhaps house sit for the other 6 months.

In general, housing options these days for a retired couple are much broader than ever. We would suggest that you not limit yourself and try several different styles until you find one that suits you best. Enjoy the journey of discovery.

I hope this answers your questions and if you have any other ones, feel free to write and let us know. We’d be happy to answer them.

Sending our best regards,

Akaisha and Billy

 

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Questions on becoming immersed into the Latin culture

Q&A with a Reader

Hello,

My wife, young daughter and I are looking to do our first out of country trip. We are looking to spend a month learning about Latin American culture.

We like small towns and because we are bringing a child along, safety is our number one priority.

We are looking at the San Pedro Spanish school to do a home stay with a family there and take day trip from there. However, we are open to other options.

Sounds like you know this area well. Can you make any suggestions or direct us to previous articles that may guide us?

Thank you so much!

Chris

Hi Chris,

Thanks for taking the time to write.

What an exciting trip you have planned!

First, I would recommend our book, The Adventurer’s Guide to Pana Living. It will give you the ins and outs of the Lake Atitlan area which is a real heart of the Maya culture.

Akaisha and her Maya friend, Panajachel, Guatemala

I would also take a look at our Guatemala page. This lists other pages of interest, including Antigua information, and our Adventurer’s Guide to Guatemala.

If this is the first out of country trip you have ever done, please realize that Guatemala – while having the ultra-modern city of Guatemala City, and the gorgeous Colonial city of Antigua – is fairly rustic. I would bring with you a few things like Dramamine (or the seasickness preventing aid of your choice), baby wipes to wash your hands often, Imodium and a vegetable laxative so you have both sides of the “colon issue” covered. I would also bring some sort of mosquito repellent. It’s the rainy season here now, and hence, more mosquitoes.

Bring a hat or ball cap, a light jacket in case of wind, and some sunscreen for your nose and face. Bring some solid shoes for you to walk the cobblestones and for perhaps walking around the volcanoes (with a guide).

Santa Catarina Arch, Antigua, Guatemala

Make sure your debit card (for use in the ATMs) uses the Plus, Star or Cirrus systems. This is how you will obtain local currency, about $280USD per withdrawal. I wouldn’t plan on using your credit cards for much of anything. Local businesses are pretty small, and from what I have seen, those who use their credit cards have been subjected to a 25% surcharge on their purchase. Most businesses (unless it is a hotel or a larger import-export business) have no means of accepting a credit card.

Do not drink water out of the tap. There is bottled water available everywhere.

There are several Spanish schools located in San Pedro and there are schools located in Panajachel also. San Pedro is a little funky hippy-style town with a lot of young 20-30 year old tourists. Pana is a little more sophisticated, with a wider choice of banking, ATMs, restaurants and markets to purchase foodstuffs. Each town around the lake has its own flavor.

Maya children playing in the Plaza fountain, Antigua, Guatemala

So long as you don’t take off hiking on your own into the mountains (hire a guide) you should be fine in regards to your safety. If you have computer gear, make sure you have something like a PacSafe to lock up your valuables, including your passport.

There is a lot to share with you about traveling to Guatemala, but if you take a look at the above links, this will give you a good start.

Have a GREAT time in Guatemala. Enjoy the people and the stunning natural beauty here at the lake.

My Best Regards,

Akaisha

 

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How Senior Homeowners Can Supplement Their Income and Win in Retirement

Thank you for visiting the RetireEarlyLifestyle Blog!

This post is no longer live, but if you want to know more about financial independence, world travel and medical tourism, please visit our website.

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

Thank you!

 

 

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