Early Retirement: Roadblocks & Contemplations

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I never thought I would be the type of gal who stays up late reading about taxes, 401k’s and Summary Plan Descriptions (SDC), yet here I am and I blame my friend Fritz

After-Tax 401k Contributions

Last week, during an early morning van ride to the airport in Tucson, I popped in my earbuds to listen to Fritz wax poetic about his retirement plans on the Choose FI podcast.  During his interview, Fritz mentioned a not so commonly known way to pad your retirement with After-Tax 401k contributions.  You can read all about the method and its pros and cons HERE, but the main issue is whether or not your company allows it.  My employer, I have come to find, sadly does not.  Roadblock #1.

Ok, honestly, I am not all that upset about it.  I mean, I don’t like knowing I can’t do something (I have never been great with authority), but until a week ago I never even considered doing an after-tax contribution so it’s easy for me to let this one fly.  The next roadblock, however, I am not taking so lightly…

In-Service Rollovers

While I had my retirement provider on the line, I figured it was as good a time as any to confirm another huge (for me) early retirement factor, In-Service Rollovers.  An in-service rollover means taking money from your 401k and rolling it to an IRA while you still maintain employment at your company.  Why would anyone want to do this?  Easy – more diversity, better investment options, and increased control over the future of those funds.  What kind of control you ask??  For me, early retirement control via the Roth IRA conversion ladder.  Let’s dissect this a bit…

Have you heard of the Roth IRA conversion ladder?  If not, here is an overly simplified explanation:

  1. Contribute max to traditional 401k (18k pretax as of 2017)
  2. Quit job, roll 401k to a Traditional IRA
  3. Roll a portion of your Traditional IRA into Roth IRA (yes, taking a tax hit on the conversion but skipping the 10% early withdrawal penalty)
  4. Let it season for 5 years
  5. Withdraw the rolled portion from the Roth IRA free and clear of taxes and penalties

Further reading can be found by these dudes who can explain it far better than I…

So back to the phone conversation with my retirement provider.  Turns out… Continue reading “Early Retirement: Roadblocks & Contemplations”

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When is a Loophole or Hack Immoral? And Can It Be Considered Theft?? Asking for a friend…

This post was featured by Rockstar Finance. If you clicked over from there, THANK YOU, and I hope you enjoy the read. If you just happened to wander over here and are interested in all things Personal Finance or FIRE (Financial Independence/Early Retirement), I highly recommend you hop over to Rockstar Finance to check out their site and all the awesome bloggers they host weekly.  Oh, and don’t forget to check out the Rockstar Finance Forum where you can chat PF to your hearts content. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you will follow along on my long and winding road to FI!

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I have been sitting on an issue that has had my brain a mess and I didn’t think until now to get your take.  Maybe because I fear you would side against, or maybe because it is too multifaceted to really discuss.  In the end, I decided to write about it because this community means the world to me and I’d hate to let a little hiccup tarnish my view on it, or on people’s views of me.

First off, I would like to say that I am no Mother Teresa.  I stole when I was a kid.  A lot (sorry, mom). My best friend at the time, C, was a girl who had moved from the city to the burbs and for some reason still unknown to me, she befriended me first.  C immediately became the most popular girl in school and, by proximity, I became one too.  She was much more “mature” than the rest of us girls so I always felt like I was rushing to catch up.  C had boyfriends that were older, parents that were divorced, and a house that was bigger and more grand than any of my other friends.  Her older sister smoked cigarettes and I remember the day we sat out back of their large house, under the stair well, while they pressured me to try my first cigarette.  It was not my finest moment, and I certainly didn’t look cool.  But I am getting off track…

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C also taught me how to steal.  She was used to being sneaky (escaping her big home to go out with boys at night took some mad skill), I was not.  I remember the time when her mom dropped us off at the mall.  These were the days of Z Cavaricci’s and IOU sweatshirts and to be anyone who is anyone you had to have them.  Both brands were expensive and my baby sitting money was precious to me.  I never thought much about brand names, but hanging with C meant I needed to up my game.  I used to borrow C’s clothes but, while in the mall that day, she decided it was time for me to have my own pair of Cavs.  We found our way to Merry Go Round, the hottest store in the mall, and picked a pair that she thought would look good on me.  C made sure there were no tags that would set the alarm off, then rolled them up, put them in my arms, and pushed me out the open doors to the mall.  I was shocked when nobody came yelling and screaming and so I followed her instructions, walked to the bathroom in the food court, and waited in a stall for her to meet me.  Those few minutes seemed like a lifetime while I played out all the things that could possibly be taking her sooooo long (360 seconds?), the worst being that she had been caught.  But she wasn’t.  A few minutes later she strolled in, knocked on the door, and I opened it to her Cheshire cat smile.  We had gotten away with it, but it didn’t feel good.   Continue reading “When is a Loophole or Hack Immoral? And Can It Be Considered Theft?? Asking for a friend…”

Adventures in Landlording – The “Leak”

Welcome to my new (and hopefully sporadic 😉 ) series, Adventures in Landlording.

Anyone who has ever been a landlord knows unexpected issues occasionally arise.  Wearing my landlord hat, I personally have dealt with 3 am lockouts, bounced checks, plumbing issues, fire issues (it was actually a pizza that set fire in the oven while my tenant was passed out on the couch), and broken appliances.  There is no way to guard yourself against said issues so it’s best to be in the mindset of rolling with them.  Of course, you can mitigate your personal impact by hiring a management company to handle your properties, but what fun would that be?!

The “Leak”

It’s been a few years since I’ve been a landlord but I am happy to see not much has changed.  Only 2 weeks in with my new tenant and the adventures have already begun…

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Yup – with this one text it was obvious we were both going to have a case of The Monday’s.

After assessing where the water was coming from, I called my plumber to give him the scoop.  Luckily, he was nearby and not busy because as my conversation with my tenant continued I gathered that her original “leak” was more of a cascade… Continue reading “Adventures in Landlording – The “Leak””

The Do’s & Dont’s of Walking the Camino de Santiago

Taking a break from finances today to talk about my other passion – travel!  This is a continuation of my guest post So You Want To Hike the Camino De Santiago published today at GoCurryCracker.com.  If you are interested in knowing the In’s & Out’s of walking the camino, please hop over there to check it out.  If you’re interested in the Do’s & Don’ts, keep reading….

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Points along my 2013 Camino

Of all the lessons I have learned in life, I have learned the most from my mistakes.  The Camino De Santiago was no different.  It took a failed first attempt to wisen me up before being able to successfully complete the 500 mile hike multiple times since.  Today’s lesson is for you to learn what to do and what not to do before ever setting foot on the trail so, unlike me, you can be a first time success.  You’re welcome in advance.  🙂

First, a brief bit of history…

The Camino De Santiago is an ancient footpath in Spain with many starting points but only one ending point, Santiago De Compostela (SDC).  The history of  The Camino dates back to the middle ages when it was once (and still for some) used as a pilgrimage to the visit the remains of St. James The Apostle, located in SDC.  Since then it has also been used as punishment for thieves, bragging rights for Kings and Queens, and more recently, for historical, spiritual, or tourist related purposes.

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Now, I don’t pretend to be an expert on hiking nor on the camino itself, but the following are tips that I have picked up over my past 5 camino’s.  I hope you find them useful!  🙂

The Do’s & Dont’s of Hiking the Camino De Santiago

First, the DON’TS:

1.   DON’T BE AN ASSHOLE – this one should be easy for most but let me break it down just in case there is any doubt… Continue reading “The Do’s & Dont’s of Walking the Camino de Santiago”

Lola, Landlording, & Life

It’s been a while, ladies and gents!!  Let me give you a quick catch up before we can move on to the latest…

AUGUST

  1. PORTLAND – Far Away Friends, Couchsurfing, & Lola Retreat!

Have I mentioned how much I LOVE the Pacific Northwest?  I DO!!  Many moons ago I lived in Ashland OR and, looking back over the years, I still consider it one of those magical times in my life where my surroundings had the ability to refresh and energize me.  The trees, mountains, and clean air (compared to city life, that is) were a true delight.  Every time I am back, I feel right at home…

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Born Treehugger

I arrived in Portland a day before Lola Retreat so I could meet up with my friend, Angela.  Angela and I met in 2013 while hiking the first ever European Peace Walk (EPW).   The hike itself was tough, but the friendships made on that trip were solidified by an unspoken bond that only happens when you hike painfully long days in excruciating heat across 6 countries with little-to-no route information.  Such a BLAST!!  🙂 Since then, I have met several of my US-based EPW buddies on work overnights, some met me in Spain to hike, and last year while on vacation, I met Angela in her home town of Dublin.  It was only proper that I meet her when she visited the states.

We made our plans a week before Lola but when I checked for accommodations I realized the downside of our timing – the fucking solar eclipse!  NOOOOOOOO!!!  As awesome a sight for many, this “once in a lifetime” event put a damper on our plans…until we consulted Couchsurfing.  Now, I have stayed in a ton of random places during my travels (barns, old classrooms, churches, monasteries), but I have never Couchsurfed for fear of being murdered in my sleep.  I am happy to say that fear is now gone…and it was so easy!  Not only were our hosts super accommodating, they were also very informative (all for $0!!!).  They told us about a local hike called the 4-T Trail.

Continue reading “Lola, Landlording, & Life”