***If you don’t care about my dog that’s fine. But you MUST scroll down to the bottom of this post and respond to my question about a dress that is breaking the internet. This debate could very well destroy my marriage.***

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As many of you probably know, we got our dog Nova, about a year and a half ago. Nova is a Hungarian Vizlsa (Vee-Shluh) and pretty much the best dog in the whole world. She came from a breeder out of Montana, and we picked her out (from her seven siblings) when she was six weeks old (we didn’t bring her home until she was 8 weeks however).

If you are like 99% of people out there who don’t know what a Vizsla is, allow me to inform you:

  • Vizslas self-clean. Like a cat.
  • They are an odor free dog. No dog smell.
  • They produce no natural body oil, so no greasy hands after petting.
  • They are completely brown (eyes, nose, paws, belly, toenails).
  • They are a “pointing” dog, bread to hunt birds.
  • They have insane stamina and are considered extremely high energy.
  • Their average adult weight is between 45lbs and 60lbs.
  • They are extremely trainable (goes with the hunting breed).
  • Rub em down with a dry towel weekly and they are clean as a whistle. They only need to be bathed once a quarter.
  • They cost between $1,000 and $1,800 as a pup.
  • They are super sensitive. You yell, they cower in fear.
  • They are known as the Velcro Vizsla because they attach to you like glue.

We paid $1,000 for Nova and couldn’t be more in love with her.

We will never own any other breed. And I’m not just saying that to be dramatic. We’re totally convinced Vizslas are the best kept doggy secret.

How much does a dog cost after the purchase? 

Being new puppy parents, Girl Ninja and I had a lot of learning to do and Nova had a lot of vet appointments to attend.

As soon as you get your pup you should schedule a vet visit. The vet will check the overall health of the dog and probably give them some shots. This will happen every couple months for the first year of their life. Kind of like a baby, puppies have a weak immune system.

Our vet charges $50 for each visit, plus the cost of any medications/supplements/etc provided.

Thankfully, Nova has only been to the vet for routine appointments. We had her spayed at about 6 months old which cost us $437. That was definitely the most painful of the vet bills, but they took good care of her.

With all the shots and vaccinations young dogs require, we’ve spent a total of $950 on veterinary visits (this includes the $437 spay) over the course of her life.

Since we did not have a dog before getting Nova, we had a handful of purchases to make prior to getting her. A leash, collar, kennel, dog bed, some toys, doggy shampoo, dog food, etc.

We buy her a good quality, grain-free, dog food called Taste of The Wild off Amazon. It is the only food she’s ever been fed outside of the occasional treat, and she seems to do great with it. It’s a little pricey at $45 a bag, but it’s a heck of a lot better than that Purina crap. A 30lb bag lasts us about 6 weeks.

Nova’s costs break down as follows:

- Purchase price: $1,000

- Flight to get her from Montana to Seattle: $250

- Vet bills, including spay: $950

- Food, toys, supplies: $500

- Total cost in first 16 months of life: $2,700. 

If you are thinking about getting a puppy, your costs will likely be pretty close to ours. We don’t spoil her rotten by any means, but when it comes to her health we make sure she’s provided for. If you’re not willing to buy a quality dog food, or make all your vet appointments, I’m not sure you should get a dog.

Similarly, if you don’t have $1,500 to spend for all of these things, I’m not sure you should get a dog.

Things should taper off a good bit from this point forward, and I expect her annual cost to us to run about $500/year between shots, vaccines, and dog food.

We love her to death and she’s seriously been the sweetest dog to Baby Ninja. He tugs on her big floppy ears. Rolls around on the ground with her. And has even taken a dog toy right out of her mouth. She totally gets that he is fragile and when she is around him she treads very carefully.

We were a little concerned that her energy might be an issue and that she would bulldoze him, but that’s not how it is at all. While there is no denying she is a fireball with endless energy, she knows that outside is the place to get that energy out. When she’s indoors she is pretty much just following us around or sleeping.

She’s the best.

And now is the time where I get to show her off to you…

First time meeting her…

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Her first time meeting Baby Ninja…

 

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Looking like they expect me to entertain them…

 

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She stood like this for five minutes…no joke…

 

 

 

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Getting out her energy…


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I’m going to explode from all the cuteness…

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She loves to do tricks…

 

But hates her doggy conditioner…

 

 

p.s. People that think I’m terrible for buying a dog from a breeder instead of a shelter; save your breath. I don’t really feel like I need to justify why I wanted a dog from a breeder. Much like I don’t feel a need to justify my love of meat to vegetarians. To each their own.

 

 

MANDATORY READER RESPONSE.

This dress is causing a tizzy all over the Internet. When you look at it do you see a white and gold dress, or a black and blue one? I see the former, Girl Ninja sees the latter. It blows my mind.

 

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Back in the Occupy Wall Street hayday, Circa 2011, I wrote my 8th most popular post ever. It was simply titled “I’ll be so pissed if Student loans are forgiven“.

Yesterday I read an article by the New Yorker titled “A Student-Debt Revolt Begins“. Here’s a snippet from the article, but make sure to click through and read the whole piece.

On Monday, Heiney and fourteen other people who took out loans to attend Corinthian announced that they are going on a “debt strike,” and will stop repaying their loans. They believe that they have both ethical and legal grounds for what appears to be an unprecedented collective action against the debt charged to students who attended Corinthian schools, and they are also making a broader statement about the trillion dollars of student debt owed throughout the country.

If you took the time to read the whole piece, you’ll learn that it’s pretty clear Corinthian was likely not putting the students’ needs first. But then again, what would one expect from a for-profit entity? Of course the executives primary concerns are going to be how much money they will make, and how much money they can make for their investors.

It’s also abundantly clear Corinthian was taking advantage of the government’s generosity just as much, if not more, than they were taking advantage of their students.

Does this sound familiar? How about just a few years ago when all the financial institutions utilized predatory lending practices, knowing the fed was there to bail the bank out in the event the crap hit the fan.

Tons of upside. Virtually no downside. 

But to be honest, I actually feel for Heiney and think she should pursue legal recourse. If the college operated unethically, and the Dept of Education, requires that colleges do operate ethically, then I don’t know if the blame can necessarily be placed on her decision to enroll.

If she was deceived and lied to, how can I demand she pay back her loans. Lord knows if I was unknowingly ripped off, I’d like a chance to plead my case and get some type of relief.

BUT

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If she is successful in getting her student loans forgiven, then I would demand she forfeit any degree or credential she earned from her student-loan subsidized education.

I mean, her whole case is predicated on the fact that the school she attended sucked, wasn’t actually worth a single penny, and she feels her degree is useless.

Fine.

Give up the degree and I’m cool with you being able to explore student loan forgiveness.

Treat student loan forgiveness the same way that we treat foreclosures and bankruptcy.

I don’t get to revolt against my mortgage AND keep my house. No. The bank will kick my butt out, take back the house, and essentially forgive my loan (and damage my credit a good bit).

I don’t get to file bankruptcy, but keep my vacation properties, fishing boat, two dirtbikes, and $40,000 in personal savings. If I go to Bankruptcy court and convince the judge I can’t afford to pay back my creditors, the court takes whatever I do have, and distributes it amongst my creditors. My loan is forgiven, but I have to forfeit most of the things that debt allowed me to acquire.

So yes, even in Ms Heiney’s situation, as sad as it is. I will still be SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO pissed if her student loans are forgiven.

You can not have your cake and eat it too. 

Where do you see the student loan forgiveness issue going?

I think it’s inevitable and within 10 years student loan forgiveness will be a thing. And I’m sure it will be abused just like bankruptcy and foreclosure often are.

Heck, I’d take a damaged credit score for a couple years if it means I can swoop a free degree in the process.

*** keep in mind I graduated college with $28,000 of student loan debt, which was above the national average for my graduation year, so I’m intimately familiar with the “Frick, what did I do” feelings that come with a student loan obligation***

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Remember that time I wrote a post about why I hate my Roth IRA and why I would probably never contribute to it ever again.

But then, like a week later, I wrote a follow-up post saying I still hate my Roth IRA, but I’ll probably keep contributing to it for the foreseeable future.

Or how about that time, a few weeks ago, when I wrote a post about having a ton of money available to me at retirement, maybe even too much?

But then my most recent post talked about how I was going to add even more to my retirement accounts, specifically my 401k.

 

This personal finance stuff can be confusing

What might sound good one week, may not be my cup of tea the following week.

With a government pension waiting for me on my 57th birthday, and social security kicking in shortly after, I’ve always just kind of resigned to the fact that I would work in to my late 50’s.

I mean, I’ll never make a huge salary in my line of work, so the idea of retiring early seemed like a foreign concept.

 

A Changed Perpective

But after reading J Money’s recent post on Early Retirement, and poking around with the spreadsheet he made, I found myself wanting to dig deeper.

According to J’s spreadsheet, if I change nothing about our spending (or saving) habits, I’m looking at being able to retire when I’m 45 years old. Check it…

early retire

Basically, the early retirement rule of thumb is you need to have 25 times annual expenses banked before you can retire.

Since our plan is to spend about $48,000 per year, we need $1.2 million stored away before I can call it quits. As soon as I hit that number, I can work my last day with reasonable certainty that I wont have to work ever again.

So the question remains, even if I had $1.2 million invested in my 401k right now, how could I possibly access those funds without paying the an IRS mandated 10% penalty for early withdrawal?

 

Introducing the IRS 72t withdrawal program. 

Without boring you to death, the 72t program allows an individual to withdraw an “equally substantial distribution” each year without paying a penalty.

Basically, if I have $1,200,000 in my retirement accounts by the time I turn 35 years old, I could take advantage of the 72t program and withdraw $56,420 from my 401k each year without paying a penalty.

There are, of course, a few catches to the 72t program. One of the most important being that you are required to continue making withdrawals until age 59 1/2 or for five years, whichever time period is longer. So no withdrawing some years, and not withdrawing others. It’s definitely a long term commitment for those that choose to retire early.

But hey, how bad can retiring early really be? 

Another big whopper for the program, is that if you modify your series of payments in any way, the 10% early distribution penalty is retroactively imposed on all money you’ve withdrawn. Ever. Yikes! That would be a very costly mistake.

Basically, once you pick an amount to withdraw each year (in this example $56,000), you have no wiggle room to withdraw any amount other than that from your 401k.

If you want to learn more about the 72t rule you can do so here

Some other things worth noting 

So far I’ve only been talking about withdrawals from my 401k, but as you all know, I’ve also been an avid contributor to my Roth IRA and most recently, a taxable investment account.

Having my retirement portfolio diversified across a number of avenues sweetens the pot. With the 72t rule and my example above, I was only allowed to take out $56,000 a year.

No more, no less. 

But what if I have Girl Ninja and I decide to buy a new car, or pay for Baby Ninja’s first year of college, or a potential future daughter’s wedding. Where is the money for those types of things going to come from?

My Roth IRA. Duh.

I’ll be able to use my Roth as a means to buffer any abnormal spending requirements. Because, as I’m sure you already know, Roth contributions can be withdrawn at any time.

Or in other words, I’d have about $75,000 of tax-free/penalty-free money accessible to me at any given time by my 35th birthday.

 

But wait there’s more. 

As you might recall from my post on Home Equity Lines of Credit, Girl Ninja and I have decided to stop keeping so much darn cash in the bank and begin throwing all our discretionary income in to our taxable investment account.

That’s right. Screw our savings account!

As our taxable investment account continues to grow, I can take advantage of all sorts of tax loop holes to to minimize my tax obligation on withdrawals, possibly even completely eliminating taxes altogether. Tax loss harvesting anyone? Or how about dividend investing? The loop hole list goes on and on.

Don’t believe it’s possible?

You’re wrong. Check out this inspirational blog post from a couple that paid NO TAXES in 2013.

 

It’s time you start drinking the kool-aid!

Like I said before, I’d always assumed early retirement was for two types of people.

Either the mega wealthy for obvious reasons.

Or

People like Mr Money Mustache, who live such a frugal lifestyle that they spend less than $25,000 per year. (editor’s note: Nothing wrong with the frugal and resourceful lifestyle, I personally am just not as interested in giving up my vehicle, moving to a cheaper cost of living area, growing my own food outback, etc. I’m lazy in that respect and am willing to pay the premium for it I suppose.)

Now that I’m digging deeper and getting in to some of the nitty gritty aspects of personal finance, my eyes are open to a whole new way of thinking. While I might not be retiring at 35 like the examples above, I could see 45, or maybe even 40 being a real possibility. And I don’t know about you, but that sounds a heck of a lot better than retiring at 57 like I’d always planned on.

 

P.S. I’m aware the future will obviously have some expensive seasons ahead (multiple children in high school, potential house projects, big family vacations, etc), but we will also have seasons of reduced expenses or greater income(paying off our mortgage, kids moving out and becoming self-sufficient, Girl Ninja going back to work, pension, social security, etc). 

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For Oh Won Kay.

February 19, 2015 · 22 comments

In the blink of an eye, my overtime income that I blogged about two days ago is gone. Rest in peace, hopefully we will meet again.

Where did it go?

I’m glad you asked.

As soon as I learned the opportunity for overtime was available, I immediately began deciding how to purpose this new found income.

And like a true personal finance nerd, the result was about the most boring thing you could possibly imagine.

My 401k. 

While I’d like to pretend you didn’t see that coming, I imagine you nerds would have been just as nerdy and probably done the same nerdy thing.

Seeing that I have no idea how long this overtime option will be available to me, I want to make sure I take advantage while I can.

For now that means I’ll be throwing $1,600/month in to my 401k instead of the $600/mo I have been doing.

Since my agency matches 5% of my income each month, I have to be careful about how fast I max out my 401k.

If I hit the $18,000 limit by, let’s say August, then I would no longer be allowed to contribute to my 401k for the rest of the year (September to December). Which means, my agency wouldn’t be able to provide me a 5% match (since I’d no longer be contributing).

Or in other words, I’d lose out on about $2,000 of 100% FREE MONEY.

No way in heck I’m going to let that happen, so even though the overtime I’m working should theoretically gross me an additional $2,400/mo. I’ll only be throwing in $1,600 towards my 401k.

Leaving me with about $600ish dollars to tinker around with after tax.

To make sure things don’t get too exciting around these parts, I’ll probably just set up an auto-transfer and have that extra money go straight to my brokerage account.

Sexy by the worlds standards? Hardly.

Sexy by not-being-an-idiot-with-new-found-money standards? Absolutely. 

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Overtime.

February 17, 2015

My field office has been one of the hardest hit field offices in the country in terms of work load. We have fallen way behind because we don’t have enough agents to complete all the work that comes in. We’re generally known as a busy office, but things have gotten so out of hand that we aren’t […]

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The first $100,000 is the hardest.

February 12, 2015

I’ve been feeling a little nostalgic as of late and have been rummaging through old files on my computer. That’s when I happened upon this gem of me back in my glory days…. Look at those thunderous calves. Those luscious locks. Those chubby cheeks. It’s no wonder Girl Ninja desperately wanted to bear my children. After […]

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You wish you could be like me.

February 10, 2015

At the end of each calendar year I review our financials, update my Excel spreadsheet, and calculate just how much Girl Ninja and I were able to increase our net worth (NW) by. We started 2014 with a NW of $234,000, and ended with a NW of $288,000. In other words, we improved our financial position by […]

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