Ask the Grumpies: What to do 10 years before retirement?

First Gen American asks:

 Things to think about/do now when you are ~10 years from retirement…assuming the cash side is all set.

Sadly, #2 and I completely came up with a big old blank when we discussed this question. Personally, #1 has trouble thinking about next week, so a 1 year plan is out and a 10 year plan is pretty unthinkable. She realized while contemplating this question that in 10 years, her 10 year old will be 20 and will probably no longer be living at home. Crazy! And difficult to contemplate. That’s another world from now. (Kids got lots of extra hugs.) Ten years is a long time!  I also suspect that even if it’s a year before retirement I might think, “Let’s worry about what to do next, you know, after retirement. When I have time.” If I retire.

#2 also says, “keep living your life”. And, “How can you be bored if you have books?”

We came up with a lot of good ideas, but they were all about the cash side, which in this question is already set. If the money tells you it’s 10 years until retirement… keep working? Earn more money? Don’t quit? So, uh, you should read the getting the most of your social security book (or run through the software if that’s more your style), but again, that’s money stuff.

Fortunately a lot of these Early Retirement gurus spend time thinking about the non-monetary parts of retirement.  So we’re punting and linking to Our Next Life.  Here’s their https://ournextlife.com/ten-questions-to-retire-early/ . Not all 10 questions are about money. So maybe that will help?

Grumpy Nation, what better advice do you have for First Gen American?

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What food do you love that nobody else likes?

One of the problems with other people is that they have different food preferences than you do.

This can be a benefit if the food in question is something you can purchase in small quantities or that doesn’t go bad, because then you can buy it for yourself and have no competition from eating it.  But it’s problematic if it’s something that you can’t share and will thus go to waste if you get too much of it.  If the other people in the household are vocal about their distaste, then you might not get/make the item unless the loudest is not there for whatever reason.  (A reason our family orders Hawaiian pizza only when DH is away on business.)

I really like grapefruit juice, but I’m the only one in the house who does, so I can’t drink an entire carton before it goes bad.  I do, however, order it whenever I see fresh squeezed on the menu at a bunch place.

The rest of the family doesn’t mind beets, but I’m the only one who really loves them.

DH rarely gets to eat Brussels sprouts because the rest of the family ranges from meh to yuck.  DC1 used to love sardines but has outgrown them (the cats got almost an entire tin the day DC1 discovered zie no longer wants to eat them, but they have been missing out on smaller amounts since).

#2’s husband is a vegetarian, so… meat.  Especially bacon. He’s not that enthusiastic about pesto or soup, but he’ll eat it if it’s there.

What food do you love that nobody else likes?

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So I guess DH will be working in April now? Maybe May?

DH really loves his job, but sometimes it is kind of ridiculous.

Remember how his company was taking a break from April – July?  Yeah, well, that’s not happening anymore.

DH was busily working on a grant proposal when the company CEO emailed to tell him that he’d signed DH up for a conference in April.  DH responded that he had been planning on consulting for my employer (technically for free for me, but he didn’t say that) in April because he thought the last pay period ended in March until July funding.

The CEO replied, “That’s news to me.”  So DH’s boss talked with the CEO and got an update.  Apparently they currently have enough money to get through May if everybody takes a 85% pay instead of the 90% pay they’re currently getting (with the CEO taking no salary and loaning the company money and DH’s boss taking a larger % cut).  But they’re also welcome to take some unpaid time off as well, which DH may do in June.  He has a lot of work to do in April (he no longer has to half-ass a month’s worth of work in the final week of March) and will probably have a lot of grant writing in May.  Plus the kids don’t get out of school until almost June.

On the one hand, I’m a bit bummed because I was looking forward to working with DH.  On the other hand, he likes this job and I’m a big fan of his salary.  So…

We’ll see what happens.  85% pay isn’t as compelling as 100% pay plus retirement.  He’ll be figuring out if/when he should do that in conjunction with his boss as it gets closer to June.

In the meantime, we’ll be getting a couple months more of his salary that I’m not entirely sure what to do with.  I guess we’ll just stick it in cash savings until we know more about what the future will bring.

Link Love

Thank you.

KANSAS:  Special election April 11th!  Meet James Thompson.

Here is why you should call about Gorsuch  More info here.

This thread is correct (I have seen expert economists make these points as well)

Republican’s original sin on Obamacare

fibonazi

A bad encounter

Laptop “ban” is bad and dangerous.

Well played

Planned parenthood and Medicaid

Managing academia

18th century insurance

free reads from KJ Charles

SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Is there something here today?

Ask the grumpies: Alternatives to mint?

Linda asks:

I decided yesterday that I need to give up on Mint so I’m looking at replacements. I don’t really need a “budgeting” app. I use Mint mainly to track my spending, look at trends/patterns so I can make adjustments as needed to meet goals, and export reports for taxes. Doing some searches has led me to CountAbout as an option. It’s not free, and it seems that in order to get the automatic downloading of account data you have to pay $39.99 a year.

What do Grumpy Nation folks use? I’m open for suggestions.

The reason I’m giving up on Mint is that it simply will not connect to my mortgage or Ally Cashback credit card. I just get vague messages about security, although I can’t understand why there are problems since the security on these accounts don’t seem very different than others. I’ve tried their customer service chat more than once, and each time has ended with a “I’m sorry it’s not working” message. Ugh! These aren’t tiny financial institutions, and they are pulled up in the Add Account drop down, so some people must be able to get their accounts synced. I’m so tired of entering these transactions manually as “cash” transactions.

https://www.fivecentnickel.com/best-budgeting-tools/ people seem to like YNAB and Quicken, but that’s budgeting.  Leigh has programmed her own software.

#1 uses Mint, but not that carefully since it also usually doesn’t connect to one of her credit cards (despite working with her DH’s credit card from the same company) and doesn’t at all connect with her credit union.  We download all the tax stuff individually in February and just don’t pay that much attention otherwise.

#2 doesn’t use any program.

Grumpy Nation, surely you have better advice for Linda!  What software do you use to get your spending information all in one place, if any?

Book review: A Gentleman’s Position by KJ Charles

A Gentleman’s Position is getting its own review because it is the best regency romance I have read in a long time.  It is new and different and thought-provoking and very Courtney Milan.  I loved it so much!

It’s actually the third book in a series, but I read it first since Sarah Maclean’s recommendation caught my eye.  It is the best book of the three (unless you prefer the second which is also extremely good and explores sub/dom relationships) and I think the other two books are actually better for having read this one first, so long as you don’t mind spoilers.  (And if you’re reading regency romances… you probably don’t.)

What makes this book special?  Well, it’s about a male/male relationship in Regency London.  It does an amazing job of exploring the very real problems that people in this situation in this time period had, as well as class conflicts and how to pull together a relationship under these constraints.  The conflicts are real conflicts that sensible people in too realistic situations might end up with.  It also plays with standard romance tropes in a new setting that makes them all the more ridiculous in the standard male/female setting given the very real reasons they keep the two heroes apart in this setting.  Oh, and there’s a clever heist (technically a swindle) and I love clever heist books.

The two main characters don’t include a standard female trope in male body (or worse, tired Regency stereotypes that include the word “mincing”), but instead are two standard Regency heroes with slight tweaks to fit the setting.  Richard, the aristocratic hero, is your standard responsible lord of the manor trope (usually seen paired with either a manic pixie girl or with his sensible childhood friend as they keep a manic pixie out of trouble).  Here he’s the spare rather than the heir which allows him to remain unmarried without the duty to procreate.  Cyprian, his valet, is usually seen as the bastard brother of nobility (often working as his brother’s confidential secretary) or the whore’s bastard who now runs a gambling hell.  He is a superior Jeeves style valet in this book, but with far more ambition than to work for someone like Bertie Wooster.

There is explicit sex, much like the kind you’d read in a modern male/female Regency, and I guess it’s pretty vanilla given the biological differences in a male/male pairing?  (The other two books have heroes who are a bit more adventurous, and so are a bit more risque, particularly in the second book, and I’m only on the first chapter of the second book right now.)  (update:  still more risqué)

The minor characters are also interesting, and reading the previous two books in the series is like reading the back stories of old friends.  If there’s any complaint it’s that the book is a sausage-fest with very few female characters (oddly, at least two women are named Euphemia), but that’s forgivable given the circumstances of their segregated society and the illegality of homosexuality during this time period.  [Update:  Having read many of her other books, this is the only series that is a sausage-fest– the Magpie series, the Sins of the City* series, and her stand-alones have a lot more women as minor characters.  Also, all maiden aunts are named Lucie.]

This book is a great exploration of love against constraints.   I normally dislike love stories between an employer and an employee, but so does our hero, Richard, and figuring out how to make things work in that setting is a large part of the story.  How do you get equality in a society that wants to keep you apart?  Both heroes are incredibly likable and reading about their struggles reminds the reader of the very real struggles of GLBT couples today.

Also, the book is a lot of fun.  Especially the second half when everything comes together.

Strongly recommend!

*After writing the first draft of this review I went on a massive KJ Charles binge.  An Unseen Attraction in the Sins of the city series is the only one of her books available right now that isn’t a light-hearted regency.  It fits more in the gritty late 19th century murder/suspense genre than the long-regency romance genre.  The heroes will not end unscathed and some of the pain will be heartache.  Her magpie series also has magic and definitely fits in the 19th/20th century magician genre. (She has more books written than are currently available, but one of the companies that published her books has gone out of business so she’s going to re-release as self-pub ebooks in the near future.  I will read the rest of her Magpie books at that time!)

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Saving isn’t necessarily “easier” for people who save more: A deliberately controversial rant

One of those bloggers who makes a ton and spends a ton and is always complaining about debt/bragging about purchases/letting other people buy hir necessities often talks about how it’s just *easier* for other people to not spend money on luxuries and trips.  Other people just don’t enjoy such things as much as zie does.  Other people aren’t *really* sacrificing.  Other people don’t know what it’s like, having friends who like to go out and spend money, wanting to go on trips, wanting to buy nice things.

Every time I read something like this, I want to say @#$#@ you.  I mean seriously.  You are not a special snowflake.  @#$@# you.  Sacrifice is NOT fun.

It isn’t easier for me to not have things I want.  I don’t get my kicks from saving instead of spending.  I would *love* to take vacations and eat out all the time and live someplace amazing and buy all sorts of fancy stuff.  But I don’t.

Why don’t I?  Two main reasons:

First:  That feeling you’re always complaining about?  The one where your budget comes up short and you don’t know where the missing money is going to come from?  The one where you’re getting lots of sympathy from your blog followers?  That one.  I HATE that feeling.  I hate it so much that I have something called an emergency fund.  I hate it so much that I set my fixed expenses low enough that there’s some extra every month.  So much that we’ve never had consumer debt and we paid off our loans ages ago.

Second:  You know how your family bails you out when you don’t have money for a broken appliance or the kids’ tuition or a whatever the latest emergency is?  Yeah, I don’t want my parents, my parents who make less money than I do, to be bailing me out as an adult.  I don’t want them to @#$3ing sacrifice their wants because I wasn’t willing to sacrifice my own.  Emergencies happen on a pretty regular basis and you should plan for them.  If you can’t, then you can’t really afford those trips with friends.

So yeah, @#$@ you.  Sacrifice sucks for everybody.  That’s why it’s called sacrifice.

And maybe it’s easy to spend less for people like Mr. Money Moustache or Frugal Woods, but you don’t have to be an early retirement extreme junkie to be responsible with your finances.  And even with MMM and FW, it may just be that their values for the environment or for early retirement are stronger than their desire to spend.  That doesn’t mean they don’t have a desire to spend, just that there’s something more important to them than spending.

It’s not easier for other people to not spend.  It’s easier for you to let people bail you out or to have those regular feelings of panic than it is for the rest of us.