What would you do with a windfall?

by Rhett

What would you do with an extra (after tax) $2500 month?

Totebaggers have kids no longer in day care, kids aging out of the need for a nanny, some even graduating from college. Others are getting new jobs, promotions, etc. What are some of the things you’re doing or would like to do with these newly available funds?

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296 thoughts on “What would you do with a windfall?

  1. It’s not very exciting, but when our first graduates from college this year, we will funnel a lot of that cash flow into retirement savings. There are some things we’ve wanted to do to the house, 15 year old couches that will be replaced, etc, and a little more travel for just DH and I that we’ve wanted but didn’t have the spare cash flow to do, so those things will be funded now. But we have both hit 50 now, and layoffs have been aggressive in his company, so by far our highest priority is building up savings.

  2. We would need to buy a ranch style house.It wouldn’t be downsizing but moving to one level housing.
    Housekeeping, I would like to outsource.

  3. First, put in a pool. Then, split half to paying off mortgage and half for a cool vacation every year.

  4. Weekly massages instead of monthly. Would spend $ on the extra fee to have someone bring the table to our house, and to turn a basement alcove into the massage room.

  5. Simple: VSTAX.

    Yeah, I’m boring that way. Have what I need and a lot of what I want, so the next best thing I can think of is buying myself more free time by quitting the day job.

    Heck, if that $2500/mo was an annuity vs. something associated with my employment, I might hand in my notice today — that’s the equivalent of another $750K in my Roth under the 4% rule. :-)

  6. Do more work on the house! Painting the exterior and replacing the first few courses of wood with Azek or similar. Then replacing the god-awful backsplash with paintings of lilies on it. Also, weekly housecleaning instead of once every 2 weeks.

    Actually, though, we would probably split it between home improvements and saving more for college.

    Rhett, how did you come up with the 2500 number? Can’t we talk about something more exciting like an extra $25K a month? ;)

  7. In the past when we’ve gotten these kind of bumps we’ve just saved more or did projects on the house. Dh wants to diversify a little so he has said he’d be open to buying a rental property on the Cape since our house is just about done. I’d also maybe consider private school for my oldest with the money.

  8. Bah! Just had a money spat with DH last night. We’ve recently spent a chunk of savings on things-that-are-important-to-him. Justifiable things, but nothing that will bring me any pleasure. He is now concerned about the state of the savings account and wants to cancel building the new deck this summer, which I was really looking forward to having. So if I had a windfall, I’d build my /!@& deck. :P

  9. I would take one of those Roads Scholar type trips that Meme posts about. I’d be looking at international destinations, so those would be more expensive than the domestic ones.

  10. I would buy a nice car. And then bump up the savings account. I would also get more massages and save for a kitchen remodel.

  11. $2500/mo
    – Definitely start something I really want to do: Sunday night dinner out. We’ll be empty nesters come the fall and though I’m not religious I would accompany DW to 5pm mass and then we could go out to a local place (tbd) that has a fairly wide menu (pick away, Finn) so we could eat light or heavy, kinda fancy or really simple. I’d want it to be maybe up to two places so we could alternate but still be ‘regulars’.
    – Outsource all the yardwork except for maintaining my vegetable/herb garden
    – upgrade the deck to include a built in wood/charcoal burning grill. Not a gas-fired guy.
    – increase charitable giving $250/mo. Not a tithing-thing, but we can afford to do more than we do and this would be a good oppty.
    – replace our sound system, do some built-in speakers thoughout the house.
    – include a sauna in the bathroom remodel…timetable very tbd.

    More later on L’s suggestion. Time for real work.

  12. Can’t we talk about something more exciting like an extra $25K a month? ;)

    I’d totally get the S550. The only other thing would be more London for a long weekend type trips. And maybe move to the Mandarin:

    http://www.778boylston.com/

  13. House on Cape Cod that we could rent out and use ourselves.

    I can see if you’re retired but I just don’t get the appeal vs. this if you’re only going to be there 10 days a year*.

    http://www.wequassett.com/

    * Although I think you mentioned being there for a month in the summer so that changes things.

  14. Well, you know what i did with slightly more than that (not actual after tax annuity, but after tax investments). Mom passed away 9 years ago. Can’t believe it has been that long. If I had the additional amount suggested by Rhett I’d rent a small apartment in Santa Cruz year round and put a good cat sitter on retainer.

    Rant time. Microsoft’s latest update disabled the save function on my installed Excel 2011. Haven’t tried Word yet. However, they do let me buy the 2016 “student” edition instead of requiring a subscription, and I can deduct it against the stipend I get from my non profit treasurer gig. DH has the windows edition of office. Wonder how long his will continue to work.

  15. I’d put more to college and daycare/current education.

    Then I’d stash a lot towards a new house. First update this one for max resale. Then use extra for mortgage once we purchased said house.

    $25k per month AFTER taxes? Pay off everything. Update house. Max retirement college and daycare/current education costs. Open mutual fund as an HSA. Increase savings rate. Move to a better house/neighborhood.

    I’m boring. But I’d go on better vacations!

  16. I feel like the next portion of this exercise is supposed to include Rhett telling us *HOW* we can realize this extra $2,500 per month right now simply by calling toll-free and signing up for his no-obligation seminar (for just three easy payments of $99) that will put us on our way to financial independence by acquiring and turning around distressed rental properties with no money down.

    I would probably do the same as LfB, namely buying our financial independence that much sooner. I could get this boat with $2,500 per month:

    http://www.boattrader.com/listing/2015-ranger-tugs-r31-102903937/

    but the reality is that, until I stop working, I don’t have the time to enjoy it the way I’d like to.

  17. 25K, I would definitely have more staff (landscaping for the park-like grounds, etc.) and then also better vacations. I might also quit my job. :)

  18. Rhett – we do go for a month in the summer and I’d love to head up there for Christmas some years. We also want to have a house there eventually anyway for our family.

    The Wequasset is nice though – have a cousin who got married there.

  19. From time to time I’ll buy a scratch-off lottery ticket to see if I can win that $2500/week for life. That, of course, is taxable so maybe I’d see $6500/month. At that level, in addition to the $2500 above:
    – upgrade to a much nicer gym.
    – accelerate the retirement timetable to the date where I’m eligible for the ‘retiree’ benefits so health insurance is mostly paid for
    – plan that 1yr, 12 places each for a month trip I want to do for the 1st year of retirement
    – take care of all the prudent and the want-to-do things to do on the house sooner than the current timeline suggests (roof, front walkway & plantings, both bathrooms, maybe add a 3/4 bath to the basement, kitchen, some new carpet)

  20. Even, If the $25k appeared from somewhere, our parents would be horrified if we quit doing an honest days work. We’d have to get some sort of pretend gig just to show that we are not lounging around, till at least 58.

  21. Pay down my mortgage, top up the kids 529 accounts, put some aside for private school tuition. Boring, but we are not at a splurge stage of life yet.

  22. Louise – meanwhile, I come from a long line of retire-early hedonists who likely find me somewhat pathetic and unimaginative because I *am* still doing an honest day’s work.

  23. How fun! At 2500 extra per month, I would also be boring and invest it. Yeah but also hire someone who can come in 2-3 days a week to cook for couple hours.

    for 25k extra, I will just quit and travel the world. Homeschool the kid.

  24. $25k/mo and I would get my regular babysitter to move in and provide fulltime care. Plus the fulltime housekeeper. Probably a few more vacations a year. I don’t really want a second home, but maybe look in to something in a ski town or near the beach. Save/invest the rest.

  25. Well, if the last few years and then this year are any indication, we’d spend it on psychotically expensive vacations with the kids. This October we’re doing two weeks in Greece. Did you know that four round-trip Polaris business class tickets to Greece is crazy-expensive? Well, now you do! Because DH and I are too old to fly that far in economy, and of course we can’t put the kids in economy because that would be mean. And my yoga retreat (one of the two weeks) is on Amorgos, but we have to see Athens and Santorini too, and oh my god.

  26. RMS – did you ever ask your DH if he’d take me along, to keep you company at the retreat? I think that’s what we discussed – that he’d like to pay my way for purposes of keeping his wife happy. Or was that not it …

  27. of course we can’t put the kids in economy because that would be mean.

    They better put you in the fancy skilled nursing facility when the times comes.

  28. Great post, Rhett. It’s great to hear from some folks who haven’t been posting much lately, and one new poster (welcome!).

    “Rhett, how did you come up with the 2500 number?”

    I’m guessing because it’s something many of us will actually experience, e.g., paying off a mortgage, having a kid graduate from college (probably one who’s getting financial aid).

  29. “If I had the additional amount suggested by Rhett I’d rent a small apartment in Santa Cruz year round and put a good cat sitter on retainer.”

    Perhaps you can work something out with RMS for less than that.

  30. With $2,500, I would schedule some regular things to make life easier/more enjoyable: Get a twice-weekly housecleaner; go out to eat once a week; get a massage every month; get my hair professionally colored, rather than doing it myself. These are things that many of you do now, but DH and I probably have less income than the median totebagger (but also more time).

    With $25,000, I think I would increase philanthropy substantially. Not so much because I’m such a nice person, but largely because I think it would be really fun to be a Big Important Donor whom my charities of choice would fawn over.

  31. Well if DH wouldn’t quit (which he wouldn’t) then a second home in a more appealing location that is easy to get to from here on commercial flights.
    Help with grandkid college funds.
    Replace the hot tub
    Replace existing pool with a 25 meter lap pool
    Move my Dad to nicer facility
    Travel business class on every flight over 4 hours
    Weekly massages sound awesome

  32. And yes make substantial increases in charitable contributions. None of which will go to the unrestricted funds at any university.

  33. I am waiting for the exact date for the upcoming wedding to make arrangements to take her up on her offer. Finn – the point would be that I would have my own place, perhaps even a small car, and the funds to fly out whenever I want.

  34. We know from prior posts that this cohort is not typical of the overall population because many Totebaggers save more than the average American, and/or earn a lot more than the average American. Our responses tend to reflect that $2500 wouldn’t be life changing, but it would be more of a nice to have to make our lives easier or more secure. I was thinking about a recent conversation I had with my mom because I offered to give her some extra money to pay for an unexpected expense. I could see the relief on her face, and I know it means a lot to her to have this money right now. I know several family members including my mother and brother for which this windfall would be completely life changing. If they used it properly, they could make very different choices in their daily lives.

  35. Mémé, I get that, but OTOH, you don’t have that extra $2500/mo, and RMS has made the offer. . .

  36. I would save it and pretend like it wasn’t there only to much later surprise myself with something awesome. Totally boring I know.

  37. about right for a family of five.

    On one of the tiny house shows the other night, a family of 5 was moving into a 330 sq ft home. There is nothing even remotely appealing about that to me.

  38. that he’d like to pay my way for purposes of keeping his wife happy.

    That would be great, and the credit card bill is going to be so big he’d probably never notice the increase.

  39. Mémé is welcome any time, but I can understand why she wants her own space. We do have a friend crashing there for a few weeks this month. And we do go there ourselves occasionally. I’d go more often all by myself, but DH gets sulky about being left at home to work, and I can certainly understand that.

  40. Oops, I meant I would get a twice-monthly (not weekly) house cleaner. I’m not that much of a slob!

  41. “we have to see Athens and Santorini too”

    RMS – Squeeze in Mykonos if you can too. Athens- 1 (full) day – 2 tops, then move to the islands. Heavenly. (My single days seem so long ago . . . )

  42. Kerri, I’d skip Athens altogether if I could, but DH has some stuff he wants to see again (he’s been to Greece several times). I think it’ll be four days TOPS. Then Santorini and then the yoga stuff. It’s in October, which messes things up a bit because a lot of the usual inter-island transit it closed.

  43. 330 sq ft for 5 people? Hell F-being No! My children would be dead. Or I would. Me, that would be best.

    I am utterly boring with money. But after a an unexpectedly large tax refund, we are dreaming a bit. I really don’t want to be boring! Sigh. Maybe a long weekend in FL. I owe DH a trip to Harry Potter land. Savings? New car down payment? Daycare? A really nice piece of jewelry? Upstairs closets? I’m boring. Sigh.

  44. We know from prior posts that this cohort is not typical of the overall population because many Totebaggers save more than the average American, and/or earn a lot more than the average American. Our responses tend to reflect that $2500 wouldn’t be life changing, but it would be more of a nice to have to make our lives easier or more secure. I was thinking about a recent conversation I had with my mom because I offered to give her some extra money to pay for an unexpected expense. I could see the relief on her face, and I know it means a lot to her to have this money right now. I know several family members including my mother and brother for which this windfall would be completely life changing. If they used it properly, they could make very different choices in their daily lives.

    Absolutely. I spend a lot of time around people whose take home pay is $2,500 a month or less.

  45. On one of the tiny house shows the other night, a family of 5 was moving into a 330 sq ft home.

    Where is it? The only way I could see that working is if it was in Hawaii or someplace where you’re living outside most of the time on a big deck/patio.

  46. Finn If/when the west coast grand babies come, I’ll reprioritize spending and find the money.

  47. I’d like to think of how I could help out imaginary future grandkids, maybe paying for college.

  48. Our church charity is in Haiti. I think we could get another doctor through med school there with that amount and ongoing contributions.

  49. Our mortgage will be paid off just in time for the newly freed up money (plus more!) to continue flying out of our account, but to a different destination (college tuition).

    Although if my oldest decides he’d rather spend his first couple of years at the local community college or flagship, more of that money could stay home to keep us company, at least until he then headed off elsewhere probably around the same time his sister heads off to college herself. (She’s already looking at dorm rooms at her college of choice and trying to talk all her friends into going there, so fat chance of her deciding to stay home for the first couple of years.)

  50. (probably one who’s getting financial aid).

    Between those going instate and those who are cashflowing some of the cost, I think $2500 is a fair number. IIRC it’s a minority that will be paying cash for Harvard out of a 529.

  51. “On one of the tiny house shows the other night, a family of 5 was moving into a 330 sq ft home.”

    My porch is 300 sf. I’m picturing triple bunks in one corner, a double bed for DW and me in another. That’s two bedrooms. Then you just need a living room, bathroom, and galley kitchen.

    It’d be cozy, but not impossible.

    “Between those going instate …, I think $2500 is a fair number.”

    I agree.

  52. For the $2500. What we actually did as our income went up about that amount was to go to weekly cleaning lady, start eating out every Friday night, refi to a shorter mortgage term & pay extra on top, save more, and spend a bit more $$ on big ticket items each year like vacations and house projects.

    For $25,000/month in perpetuity, we’d both retire tomorrow. NO question.

  53. “Our mortgage will be paid off just in time for the newly freed up money (plus more!) to continue flying out of our account, but to a different destination (college tuition).”

    Great minds think alike (sometimes). We took a similar tack, and directed cash flow to mortgage principal rather than college savings accounts so we could have it paid off before firstborn flies the nest.

    So we’ve lived Rhett’s scenario. We paid off the mortgage recently, with the intention of using that cash flow, redirected cash flow currently paying kids’ tuition, merit aid, and savings to cover college costs (kids will be expected to kick in some funds from summer/PT employment).

    The small window between payoff and firstborn’s first college bills was a sweet spot for travel as a family– kids old enough to not restrict what we can do, old enough to appreciate and remember, and DD still young enough to sometimes qualify for kid pricing. Partly influenced by opinions here, we used some of that increased cash flow to take several trips.

    We also are used some to remodel some bathrooms, although that was mitigated by limiting the scope (floors and tubs still in good shape, so we kept those) and doing the work ourselves (i.e., I did most of the work).

  54. “Oops, I meant I would get a twice-monthly (not weekly) house cleaner. I’m not that much of a slob!”

    Oh, it is really nice to have a weekly housecleaner. You basically don’t have to do any interim cleaning beside daily upkeep like dishes/counters or the occasional bathroom clean up.

  55. Along the lines of Lauren’s point, $2500/mo is $30k/year.

    Around here, that’ll pay for private school expenses for one kid, but it’s probably not enough for that for Kerri.

    It’s close to in-state tuition or COA (cost of attendance) for many schools, but is less than half of COA for private schools many of our peers’ kids will attend. For those with young kids, it’ll probably be well under even in-state COA.

    OTOH, this group seems to be a bit different from the larger group of its SES cohort in putting less of a premium on college experience or branding.

  56. “Our mortgage will be paid off just in time for the newly freed up money (plus more!) to continue flying out of our account, but to a different destination (college tuition).”

    This is our plan too. Bonus if DS goes to public school for MS and/or HS. Our state flagship costs would be covered at $2500/month, full price.

  57. “For those with young kids, it’ll probably be well under even in-state COA.”

    Yeah, I don’t think so. There’s not going to be more money coming from the government for loans, and interest rates for borrowing are not getting any lower.

    “OTOH, this group seems to be a bit different from the larger group of its SES cohort in putting less of a premium on college experience or branding.”

    You’ve got to be joking.

  58. Rhett, if that $2.5k was a monthly pay increase if you changed jobs to being a mall cop (big hypothetical, I know), would you do it?

  59. You’ve got to be joking.

    Other than maybe WCE everyone here would pay for Harvard/MIT/Stanford if it was in the cards. Where we might differ from the norm is paying for Bowdin or Middlebury vs. state flagship.

  60. S&M,

    Would I get to travel around the country and patrol various malls or would I be stuck at one mall?

  61. HM, there’s merit aid available at flagship U for kids with decent test scores (>1200 SAT or 23 ACT) and grades (3.5).

  62. MBT, is it just that arrangement of so many people in so little space, or do you find the notion of living an any tiny house to have no appeal for you? What is it you enjoy about the show?

  63. “Where we might differ from the norm is paying for Bowdin or Middlebury vs. state flagship.”

    Is that the norm for affluent families? I’m not so sure, partly because many of these families believe the quality of the college experience and/or branding at these “middling” schools is just fine.

  64. “Our state flagship costs would be covered at $2500/month, full price.”

    Are you taking into account the increases in COA between now and when your kids attend?

  65. No travel. You’d be like the guy who was standing at the entrance to the hallway to the bathrooms at the mall today, telling people they’re being renovated, but this is how to get to the food court bathrooms.

  66. Fred, restating my question: what if the $2500 was monthly and came with the hitch that you’d have to quit your current job and be a mall cop.

  67. standing

    Then hell no. A nice comfy chair and internet access and then we can talk.

  68. Meant to write: believe the quality of the college experience and/or branding at these *state* schools is just fine.

  69. “Are you taking into account the increases in COA between now and when your kids attend?”

    No, was thinking more about both in 2017 dollars. But it’s all hypothetical anyway. Yeah – college costs have been skyrocketing, and it’s going to cost a million dollars for my kid in 9 years…I’m not sure I buy that college costs will keep going up so much more than the COL.

  70. Is that the norm for affluent families?

    It likely varies by region but around here (and in Westchester I’m almost certain) it is.

  71. Speaking of Middlebury, here is a study involving a trifecta of Totebag themes — expensive colleges, political arguments, and a cool graph.

    “We have crunched some numbers using data gathered by the non-partisan Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and found that the schools where students have attempted disinvite speakers are substantially wealthier and more expensive than average. Since 2014, there have been attempts at some 90 colleges to disinvite speakers, mostly conservatives. The average enrollee at a college where students have attempted to restrict free speech comes from a family with an annual income $32,000 higher than that of the average student in America. In the figure below, we plot every university in America based on the proportion of students from families with incomes in the top quintile (vertical axis) and from the bottom quintile (horizontal). Marked in red are the “disinvitation colleges” described above. The pattern is clear: the more economically exclusive the institution, the more likely the students have attempted to hinder free speech.”

    https://www.brookings.edu/opinions/illiberal-arts-colleges-pay-more-get-less-free-speech/

    Unfortunately, I lack the skills to replicate the cool graph.

  72. “Where we might differ from the norm”

    Rhett – The Totebag median is $250k. I would be very confident in arguing that the norm at that income level, throughout the United States, is not anywhere near the Totebag level of obsession with “college branding or experience.”

    Now, in your real life, if you live in the Northeast/DC or certain suburbs, if you primarily associate with other private school parents, it’s understandable that you would think this. But it is not the norm.

    My brother and his family fled Moxiemom’s area in part because of the school pressures, and as we discussed the neighbors at his new place (with all houses typically valued around the seven-figure mark) “these people all think JMU is a ‘great school.’ They’ll be thrilled if their kids go there.'”

    You really think the people here:
    https://www.trulia.com/property/3164275610-2950-Blue-Ridge-Dr-Norman-OK-73026

    are spending several hours a week online chatting about the relative merits of Bowdoin or Middlebury, how to strategize their SAT scheduling, the new SAT vs. the old SAT, and who made NMSF?

    Fu(k no.

  73. “Meant to write: believe the quality of the college experience and/or branding at these *state* schools is just fine.”

    @COC – I agree. It’s a small subset that is really thinking about HSS. I bet if I used that acronym with my UMC coworkers/neighbors/relatives who have kids in HS, they wouldn’t have the first clue what it stands for. One cousin chose her school for next year based on the soccer coach. Even at the competitive test-in HS, an ex-counselor was telling me that they have trouble getting their kids to look beyond the Big 10, although they do have a handful of kids who end up at HPYS every year. I’m sure part of it is regional – not THAT many kids really want to go halfway across the country to go to school, even if they are high-achievers. I’m sure we have more kids who want to go to Miami of Ohio than Bowdoin.

  74. “Other than maybe WCE everyone here would pay for Harvard/MIT/Stanford if it was in the cards. Where we might differ from the norm is paying for Bowdin or Middlebury vs. state flagship.”

    That’s not the sense I got during earlier discussions here. The consensus definitely seemed to be that an undergrad degree is a ticket, and there’s not much difference in value between tickets from different schools. Grad school is where it is worth paying for a brand name school.

    A specific discussion about someone Mémé knew was consistent with this.

    In later discussions, especially the one specifically about Harvard, there were some contrary opinions expressed, suggesting different rules for Harvard and, implicitly, MIT/Stanford.

    I suppose than in early discussions many might have assumed less than top tier schools, but I would think most here would include those in the range of possibilities.

  75. “Other than maybe WCE everyone here would pay for Harvard/MIT/Stanford if it was in the cards.”

    It won’t be in the cards, anyway, so the point is moot, but I’m honestly not sure I would.

  76. Our youngest is finishing up with daycare this year and we’ll see an extra $1500 in cash each month. Some of that is earmarked for before/after school care, but the rest of it is being spent on more vacations, or a different type of vacation (we’ll fly instead of drive, stay at a nicer and slightly more expensive vrbo than in the past). I need new ski boots, so I’ll just go out and buy them, instead of hemming and hawing and then get another season out of the old ones. So much of our money is funneled into savings (retirement and emergency cash) that it is so nice to finally have more fun money. So frivolous.

  77. I’m honestly not sure I would.

    If they were busting their ass to make it happen and it happened you’d say no? Would you actually tell them to relax because even if they get in you won’t pay?

  78. I live in a typical Totebag area and even here people aren’t nearly as obsessed about colleges as you all are. Not even close. Maybe the parents of the TJ kids and the very top at the 2 public schools, but no one else seems to be. Tons of our neighbors go to JMU, Virginia Tech, William & Mary, etc and the parents are very happy. UVA makes everyone super happy.

  79. I’m not sure that people typically buy a $900k house with a $150k income, but either way

    That’s what they say. I can’t imagine it either.

  80. “Would you actually tell them to relax because even if they get in you won’t pay?”

    I think it’s exceedingly rare that kids would tend to jump through all the required hoops to be competitive for admission to those schools without a lot of intense parental pushing and coordination, and I don’t see us doing that.

  81. Milo,

    Didn’t your brother go to Brown? You’ve mentioned that your parents didn’t put an inordinate amount of pressure on the both of you.

  82. I’m not sure I buy that college costs will keep going up so much more than the COL

    That’s what I was telling myself 10 years ago . . .

    Finn, unfortunately his profile is more like excellent scores and indecent grades. But at least his grades in the two college classes he’s taken were decent, which I guess is a hopeful sign.

  83. UVA, Virginia Tech, and William&Mary are pretty darn good schools. Your experience is what it is because you live in a state that, for better or for worse, has decided its flagship schools should be truly elite. I know a number of people in VA who send their kids to out of state schools because their kids can’t get into those. One friend, for example, ended up sending her kid up here to Hofstra.
    In the northeast, especially New England, there isn’t the same level of expectation for the state schools. UMass is nice, but nothing like UVa.

  84. Scarlett, is that graph normed in any way to take into account the number of guest speakers and the subset of those who are top-dollar speakers? In over words, does it assume that making decisions about hundreds of guest speakers is the same as deciding about <20 per year, and that when I gave guest lectures at Mt Holyoke and Ohio U, it was the same thing as Milo Y?

  85. One of the moms of one of the kids in my oldest son’s crowd – a bunch of very geeky, smart boys – has gone on record that she is happy that her oldest is at one of the CUNYs, in the honors college. A couple of the other moms said to me that they were suprised that she would “settle” for a CUNY. Well, until I said that my kid was looking at SUNY and CUNY too!

    If my kid were at the level of being able to get into MIT, CMU, or Stanford, I would find some way to deal with it financially. I just don’t see the point of taking out bazillions of loans for Wesleyan or Tufts.

  86. exceedingly rare that kids would tend to jump through all the required hoops to be competitive for admission to those schools without a lot of intense parental pushing a

    I think the drive is more likely to come from the kid. My friend drove her kid around to different schools and assisted with organization, but the decisions to go to TJ and one of those three Va universities were all his own.

  87. The whole Middlebury incident was just disgusting. That is one of those schools I always stereotyped as entitled. And they seemed to fulfill that stereotype.

  88. Now I am curious – we had several of the smart-ish kids from my HS go to Tufts. I wonder if they got lots of merit aid or loans or both? Even so, BITD the loan amounts weren’t as big as they are now.

  89. Thanks Rhett!
    How did you do that?? This time I’m putting it on a post-it note on the computer.

    UVA is a public Ivy, and most of our fellow parents in the private school community who had large families and no trust funds were really hoping for UVA or William & Mary. At that time, the tuition at either college was less than what we were already paying for high school. But because there are so many qualified Totebag kids in northern Virginia, they didn’t all get in. U-Md was not nearly as appealing to the Maryland parents.

  90. We do have good state options. I looked up the average ACT scores (I don’t understand how SAT scores come to when I took them). 27 for Virginia Tech and 30 for W&M. So, decent. But not spectacular. Something that many good Totebagger children could achieve. Especially if their parents kick in for some kind of review class (which I understand that all Totebaggers now do).

  91. “One friend, for example, ended up sending her kid up here to Hofstra.”

    Lord only knows why:
    Google: “With room, board, and other fees combined, total cost of attendance is $58,035.”

    So she didn’t get into UVA/VT/W&M. Try George Mason, James Madison, Mary Washington, Virginia Commonwealth, Christopher Newport, Old Dominion, Longwood, Radford….

  92. How did you do that?? This time I’m putting it on a post-it note on the computer.

    Scroll down to the image and right click and select “copy image address.” Then post that here but you see where it says .png?

    170314reevesfreespeech.png?w=768&crop=0%2C0px%2C100%2C9999px&ssl=1

    Delete everything after the png and it should post.

  93. “I just don’t see the point of taking out bazillions of loans for Wesleyan or Tufts.”

    What about Hofstra?

  94. OTOH, in contrast to Kate’s experience, our experience at one of the Fairfax elementary schools that sent a lot of kids into the old GT program, which was a feeder school for TJ, was that many parents were extremely interested in the whole process for getting on that track, but did their best to pretend that they weren’t. This was BITD before there were blogs like DC Urban Moms to discuss every nuance and rumor to death.

  95. I’m one who thinks the undergrad school is relatively unimportant for the vast majority of people and especially if the bachelors degree comes with some sort of honors on the diploma.

    At my kids’ private HS, there are some kids who are on 100% need aid and some more who get less than that, but something. The preponderance are full pay, so the median income is definitely in the totebag range. That said, there are a some guys each year who go to HSS. Of the other 95% I would say 25-40% go to each of
    – SUNY schools few of you would have ever heard of,
    – Catholic and particularly Jesuit colleges in the northeast
    – non-religious private schools that are not highly selective
    plus a few go to out of state state Us and the local community college.

    There is not a lot of discussion about getting into HSS, I think mostly because most everyone (parents) is pretty successful in our careers and financially, few of us went to HSS undergrad. I would not call my undergrad HSS back in my day given the grades and test scores I was accepted with.

    Most parents at my kids’ school and in town (public school kids) are just happy their kids are going to college.

  96. The AAP thing is still nuts. Parents totally freak out over it. I think because it is so over-inclusive that everyone thinks their kid is left behind out of college prep if not in it. But it seems to settle down by HS. Maybe because at that point your kid is or is not the type to go to HYP.

  97. “Even so, BITD the loan amounts weren’t as big as they are now.”

    BITD, COA weren’t anywhere near as big as they are now.

  98. “many parents were extremely interested in the whole process for getting on that track, but did their best to pretend that they weren’t.”

    During back-to-school night this past Fall, I was reading these assignments that the teacher had posted in the hallway in which the students completed a sheet All About Me! There were questions like “What should Mrs. _______ know about you? What do you like to do in your free time?”

    All the boys wrote things like “Mrs. W. should know that I sometimes forget my homework and get distracted. I like to play video games. My favorite is [whatever]”

    Then there’s one Asian girl who writes “I want Mrs. W. to know that I will get straight As every quarter this year. In my free time, I enjoy studying and playing the violin.”

  99. It is my impression that most parents here would be willing to pay top dollar for top-ten universities but not for private schools rated lower. However, most parents realize that their kids’ chances of getting into one of those schools is iffy.

    “A couple of the other moms said to me that they were suprised that she would “settle” for a CUNY.”

    Maybe because CUNY still suffers from the poor reputation they earned decades ago? But what schools are they aiming for? I would imagine some of the better SUNY schools are included in the mix.

  100. Kate, I think that your kids are still pretty young? There is a lot of sorting in high school, so that the truly gifted kids can move ahead more quickly. Elementary and middle school, even in a place like McLean, can be a slog for the kid who has already mastered the topics and is reading his own book under the desk.

  101. Scarlett, one more way of phrasing my question about that chart: assuming that people with money send their kids to schools that have more money (in tuition or endowments), and that one advantage of a “better” college is the opportunity to hear guest speakers on campus, then there are many more opportunities for those schools to cancel speakers (you can’t cancel what you don’t have, and if you have very few speakers each year, they are likely to be considered much more carefully. How does this “non-partisan” study account for that?

  102. on Hofstra – I’d bet a kid from Virginia is relatively out of their usual market, so if s/he had good grades and test scores there would be merit money for those + maybe a little something for geographic diversity, so the cost would be well below $58k. Still more than the long list of VA state schools Milo mentions.

  103. “Then there’s one Asian girl who writes “I want Mrs. W. to know that I will get straight As every quarter this year. In my free time, I enjoy studying and playing the violin.” ”

    To be fair, that could also have been written by Lisa Simpson.

  104. Maybe it’s coming from Massachusetts (where yes, UMASS is fine but it’s no where near UVA/UNC/Michigan) but I would absolutely pay for a Wesleyan/Tufts/Colby level of undergrad. I never even looked at a public universities and neither did my sisters, because my mom’s family had always gone to private colleges.

    My husband clerked for a judge after law school who had gone to Brown undergrad and UVA for Law School and in his eyes Brown was no where near the stature of “The University” as he called it.

  105. Milo, I have close relatives who used to live in that general vicinity of OK in that general type of house. Both are OU grads and their college aspiration for their DD was Boomer Sooner all the way.

  106. Milo, both those answers sound like they came straight from the parents. Did kids write those in the classroom?

  107. S&M,

    You’ll have to ask the folks at Brookings, who did the study.
    My impression is that most colleges have lots of guest speakers on all sorts of topics. It doesn’t take a lot of resources to attract them. Take them to dinner, put them up at the campus hotel, present them with college swag, and they’re happy.

  108. “Especially if their parents kick in for some kind of review class (which I understand that all Totebaggers now do).”

    Not necessarily. I believe it was WCE and perhaps Rhett who have pointed out that test prep classes tend to target a certain group of students, and students outside that group (e.g., those who already do well without prep) will not benefit as much.

  109. “I just don’t see the point of taking out bazillions of loans for Wesleyan or Tufts.”

    What about Hofstra?

    I would have put Tufts considerably ahead of Hofstra, but East Coast private colleges aren’t my area of specialization.

  110. Scarlett,

    Just a note sometimes it may say .jpg rather than .png and I think .gif works as well.

    Testing:

  111. CoC – I jumped to Oklahoma thinking about MBT’s comments on Tulsa yesterday. And I’m ever-so-slightly familiar with Norman.

    The Duggar Show did an episode at OSU recently. Son-in-law Derrick Dillard is an alumnus, and one who also did a stint as OSU mascot Pistol Pete. He was thrilled to be taking his family back for homecoming. Everyone there seemed like such nice, wholesome people, like a place where I’d be very happy. And one got the impression that nobody there was obsessing over HSS.

  112. “Did kids write those in the classroom?”

    Yes. All the more revealing that way.

    I heard guest lectures from, among others, Antonin Scalia, Ross Perot, Elizabeth Dole, Ben Carson, Alan Keyes, and Tommy Lasorda. Those were the most memorable, off the top of my head. Perot’s delivery of one liners…OMG. Same with Lasorda.

  113. OSU, and OU even moreso, are using merit aid quite aggressively to increase their academic profiles.

  114. Scarlett – I totally get why parents obsess over AAP. Fairfax county schools are kind of a mess. No one wants to learn that their third grader is no longer on the college track. Especially if you know you have a bright kid who is going to get tortured by being taught how to add 2 digit numbers when he figured that out years ago in pre-k.

  115. “Both are OU grads and their college aspiration for their DD was Boomer Sooner all the way.”

    Honors college?

  116. I remember wondering if there would be protests when Bernie Sanders visited Liberty University. There weren’t.

  117. “If they were busting their ass to make it happen and it happened you’d say no? Would you actually tell them to relax because even if they get in you won’t pay?”

    Yeah, that’s potentially our dilemma.

  118. that’s potentially our dilemma.

    How is that possible with you spending so much extra for private school?

  119. “How is that possible with you spending so much extra for private school?”

    That would have been my question.

  120. “exceedingly rare that kids would tend to jump through all the required hoops to be competitive for admission to those schools without a lot of intense parental pushing…

    I think the drive is more likely to come from the kid. My friend drove her kid around to different schools and assisted with organization, but the decisions to go to TJ and one of those three Va universities were all his own.”

    I’ve heard from several parents whose kids transferred into my kids’ school for HS that is was the kids who initiated things. E.g., one of DW’s best friends has two kids; the older went to local public HS, but the younger decided she wanted to attend my kids’ school and asked her parents to send her there.

    Among my DS’ friends, and those in most of his classes (e.g., AP Calc, AP Physics), many of the kids are quite competitive and do a lot of the research into getting into HSS themselves. It’s kinda like most of the kids who really excel in athletics; the parents can provide them with genetic material and facilitation, but internal motivation is what really elevates them.

  121. “most colleges have lots of guest speakers on all sorts of topics”
    I can’t tell if you’re joking. Please excuse the following if you are being sarcastic with that response.

    I count 17 remaining in March on this Stanford schedule
    https://events.stanford.edu/byCategory/2/
    And 3 for the rest of the month at CSULB, the 3rd largest campus in the Cal State system.
    http://specialevents.csulb.edu/MasterCalendar/MasterCalendar.aspx?utm_source=website&utm_medium=homepage&utm_content=menulink&utm_campaign=JumboMenu
    Many are simply too focused on teaching to put on lectures, and don’t have the resources to devote to putting on events.

  122. “How is that possible with you spending so much extra for private school?”

    Yuge difference in cost between current school and HSS, and similar difference between HSS and NQSSS (not quite so selective schools) offering generous merit aid.

    As others have pointed out, money not spend on undergrad education can be carried forward for grad school. Current COA for a top law school is ~$90K/year.

  123. More generally, spending doesn’t come easily to me, and spending yuge amounts of money (~$200k to $240k range) won’t come without a lot of thought and consideration of alternatives.

  124. My colleague who seems very far from obsessed with colleges has a DD who got into both state flagship and Duke. They both are recognizable names. He hasn’t said that he will not pay for Duke but he’d like to have to not pay for it.
    I know a few families here who are relaxed about things and their kids do wind up having to make a choice between the flagship and a private school. Most of these kids are not going to SLACs but places like Cornell, Duke etc.

  125. “More generally, spending doesn’t come easily to me, and spending yuge amounts of money (~$200k to $240k range) won’t come without a lot of thought and consideration of alternatives.”

    But you’ll spend $390k on K-12 (and effectively more than that, in comparison, since it was 1) earlier, and 2) not 529-advantaged?

  126. Current COA for a top law school is ~$90K/year.

    Which will be canceled after 10 years as a ADA or you can pay it off while on the big law partner track. Anything else and you have no business going.

  127. Apparently I’m more aligned with others here than I realized; there seems to be somewhat of a consensus WRT paying for top tier HSS (Milo notwithstanding). I may actually be more on the other side of that particular case than I initially thought.

    DW and I were also pretty clear with DS that we wouldn’t pay HSS money for a school that wasn’t significantly better than schools with lower net COA, and kids that can get into a HSS will have many options with generous merit aid.

  128. Rhett – the problem with that is that you don’t know when you enroll where you will land. LSAT score doesn’t correlate with much other than passing the bar. And it will take at least 8 years (so many associates get tossed out along the way, many to their surprise) to figure out if you are biglaw equity partner material.

  129. CoC said”But what schools are they aiming for? I would imagine some of the better SUNY schools are included in the mix.”

    In this group, I think good SLACs – Trinity, Bowdoin, Holy Cross, Wesleyan, Grinnell – would be seen as a good placement. No SUNYs. One of the kids dearly wants to go to UMichigan. His parents will need a lot of financial aid, and unfortunately, it is tough to get need based financial aid if you are out of state

  130. Hofstra isn’t that good but they are making a major push, with much money involved, to go up a tier. So I would not be suprised if the kid got good merit aid.

  131. I’d put the extra $2,500 into savings. Like others have said, I’m not in a very exciting life right now. This post made me wonder at what age do you expect to retire? Would you retire at that age even if your nest egg isn’t quite where you want it to be? I’ve been thinking about Meme’s post about not waiting to retire. Maybe this question is directed more towards LfB and Milo. I am more uptight about money, but DH isn’t. DH also had never planned on wanting to retire, but I think that is changing.

    I went to talks my senior year at my very liberal college to hear Charlton Heston, Ann Coulter, Dinesh D’Souza, and George Will. The Heston one was protested – he was the president of the NRA, but the protest was pretty mild. I think kids wore costumes or something. Coulter must not have been very famous as it was in a classroom where about 50 kids showed up. I was pretty oblivious to politics and didn’t know much about any of the speakers. I recall enjoying George Will and thinking that D’Souza made some good points. Heston spoke for maybe 10 minutes and seemed frail. Coulter seemed vapid.

    Speaking of what kids write. At conferences they had the first graders write what they would do when they were 100. My DS has said he’d never had kids, but his said, “When I am 100 years old, I will teach my kids to play soccer.” So I’m guessing that he might get around to having kids when he is 90 or so. Another girl in his class wrote something along the lines of, “When I’m 100 years old, I will still eat healthy and be flexible. I will eat all my vitamins and will run all the time.” I think it was more body conscious than that but DH wouldn’t let me take a picture.

    CoC – I keep meaning to send in a topic here to discuss how do you handle it when your kids have friends who you don’t like or don’t think are a good influence? I know Finn mentions paying for private school to help influence peer group, and we do a similar thing. But I’ve been thinking about this more because of some of the kids we encounter in sports where we can’t influence the peer group as much. I think next year one of my kids will most likely have a teammate who is a jerk. I was talking to a mom I had just met at the park when the kids were playing a pick up game of soccer. The mom matter of factly stated that the boy was an a$$hole. I was shocked that she stated it so directly. The other moms around us all nodded their heads in agreement. I’ve been thinking to about “little kids, little problems; big kids, big problems”. How do people address issues with friendships when kids are younger? How does it change when they get older? Do people have secret systems with kids about how to get out of bad situations? (There was a recent viral story about having your kids text an “x” when in trouble.)

  132. There was a recent viral story about having your kids text an “x” when in trouble.

    FYI, I sent that one in for a post already. But I don’t think it overlaps too much with the rest of your topic, if you’re asking CoC to use your comment as a post.

  133. Tcmama, what makes you think your kid will befriend the a-hole? Mine would keep a wide berth between them.
    Where did your university that had all those speakers fall on the ranking of parental incomes at universities (assuming you saw that post a few weeks ago)?

  134. Finn, the most exciting speaker I remember at college was Freeman Dyson. I got to meet him at the invited-student reception.

  135. To be fair, that could also have been written by Lisa Simpson.

    No, she plays the sax, not the violin.

  136. “This post made me wonder at what age do you expect to retire? Would you retire at that age even if your nest egg isn’t quite where you want it to be?”

    I anticipate having $5 million in invested assets by the time I turn 50. My youngest should graduate college the year that I turn 53. I think we might retire at that point. I will have worked full-time, un-interrupted, for 31 years. that’s long enough. Our normal living expenses would be covered by a 2% dividend, and the principal should continue to grow. But if the nest egg is not there, then I’ll keep plugging along, God willing.

    I may also take a break for a year or two and decide that I want to do something like yacht sales for fun. Whatever it is, it will not be in an office.

  137. I agree with SM on the graph. It doesn’t say how many speakers each school invited, and how many of those were “conservative” or “controversial”.

  138. I have teased Finn in the past about paying for LSJU out of pocket if it comes to that, but I think he finds himself in an unexpected position. He and his DW have ended up more prosperous than they expected. His DS has ended up at the top college qualification level, not near top as he anticipated. Admission is another matter and we await news if he chooses to share. The private public school environment in his town, for historical reasons, is such that HM s choice is considered the peculiar one.

  139. Nine kids from my DD’s class have been accepted to UVA. It will be interesting to see how many end up there and where the others decide to go.

  140. “@Milo maybe by then you will have replaced the dishwasher”

    It’s still going strong. “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.” ;)

  141. Mémé on March 15, 2017 at 4:58 pm
    @Milo maybe by then you will have replaced the dishwasher
    Unless there’s been a problem with water pressure in the shower. ;)

  142. Milo, from your comments Monday, I assume that the last two are not acceptable in your home?

  143. I may also take a break for a year or two and decide that I want to do something like yacht sales for fun.

    Have you ever considered making the move sooner?

  144. “Have you ever considered making the move sooner?”

    Not seriously. We’re happy where we are, I’m paid reasonably well, great benefits. So I have a strong sense of obligation or duty to capitalize on that. But under the circumstances I described, at 53, I would feel like I can let it go.

    Touche, saac. The solenoid that operates the driver’s door lock on my CRV just died. So now I make do by unlocking the door with the key. I haven’t done that since 2003.

  145. Touche, saac. The solenoid that operates the driver’s door lock on my CRV just died. So now I make do by unlocking the door with the key. I haven’t done that since 2003.

    Why doesn’t that meet the well pressure/water heater capacity criteria? Personally, I’m fascinated by everyone’s accounting system where some lavish expenses are totally reasonable and other are considered ridiculous.

    Although I have to say, I’ve never encountered one quite as extreme as Finn’s lavish private school spending but balking at LSJU.

  146. ” I’ve never encountered one quite as extreme as Finn’s lavish private school spending but balking at LSJU.”

    Having $5MM but living off $100K a year seems more extreme to me.

    Finn’s cost will probably double over private HS, and his son could have some really great options that are far less. I think it’s practical to think it through very carefully, and I appreciate Meme’s post. I don’t know what I would do – I don’t really expect to be in the same position with my 3rd grader, but I guess you never know. He’s a bright kid, but I have a hard time picturing him building the kind of resume that would put him in that position, and it is not something that we would actively push. Hard to say what we would do if he came to the interest organically while at a Totebag MS/HS.

  147. The “disinvitation database makes for some fascinating reading. Probably one of the few databases in which Obama, Bill Ayers, Henry Kissinger, Ben Carson, George Bush, Ward Churchill, Stanley Tucci, Pat Boone, and Demond Tutu appear together.

  148. ” Coding for Classicists.” This is a shining example of why “coding” is such a stupid term. They are not learning “coding” in that class. They are learning a field called text mining, which is heavily used by people who do digital humanities research. If they are teaching them any programming at all, it is likely Python’s NLTK package (natural language toolkit) which IMHO is a poor choice for humanities people – most of them use GATE which is an entire natural language processing system that lets you do very sophisticated work while avoiding lowlevel code.

    My research actually uses a lot of the same concepts, though the texts we parse and categorize and analyze are not humantiies texts. I use a system called UIMA which is somewhat GATE-like

  149. Scarlet, what did you find out in that additional information? Did they use some sort of percentage of speakers disinvited, or is a disinvitation of one of those stellar speakers at tcmama’s liberal arts college treated the same as one at say, Marquette or UW Whitewater? (Not knowing where she went to school, I’m taking a shot in the dark at guessing schools with similar sized student bodies but lower parental income levels).

  150. “But you’ll spend $390k on K-12 (and effectively more than that, in comparison, since it was 1) earlier, and 2) not 529-advantaged?”

    It’ll end up being more than $390k, but that’s for 2 kids.

    I just went through the annual re-enrollment exercise, in which we consider whether to send kid (for the first time it’s just DD) to school again next year. It’s gotten easier over time, in no small part because many of the discussions here have made it clear that kids’ school had done a good job of dealing with many of the issues others have complained about here.

    So we’ve decided that it’s worth the money.

    College is a different ballgame, in large part because there are so many more options. With K-12, there were a couple of privates we were willing to consider as alternatives to public school (had they gone public, there probably would’ve been a few more we’d have considered for MS or HS), but financial aid was not available. With college, there are similarly several HSS we’d consider full pay, but there’s also a whole bunch of options below that with financial aid. For K-12, there was no analogous option.

    In the bigger picture, DW and I decided many years ago that private K-12 and local flagship was a better option than public K-12 and the best college that would accept our kids (in which case we’d probably be positioned for full pay).

  151. MM, when I read that ad, I wondered why they would be writing their own programs in Java or something when there are so many tools available that serve exactly the purposes listed (see http://dirtdirectory.org/categories/text-mining ). You may be right that they are simply showing people how to use them. That is so old hat that it makes their ad copy, and apparently the course, sound silly.

  152. A lot of people here pay for private middle and high school with the hope that their kids then go to UGA or GA Tech and college is then free (Hope Scholarship). But those schools only take so many from each school so even in the elite privates kids are falling all over themselves to get in.

  153. They are likely doing more than just showing people how to use a tool. I am guessing they are teaching the field of natural language processing and text mining. Those are real, intellectual fields, not just some “how to use a tool” thing.

  154. “lavish private school spending but balking at LSJU.”

    It’s not LSJU or nothing (or LSJU or HCC).

    It’s more like LSJU full pay or USC, which I believe has a stronger alumni network here, with a full tuition scholarship, leaving money available for grad school.

    There is no aid to top grad schools that I am aware of for which DS would qualify.

  155. The wikipedia article mentions sentiment analysis. That is what my kid is doing for his research project, using a combination of Python NLTK and some algorithms that find statistical patterns

    “Sentiment analysis involves discerning subjective (as opposed to factual) material and extracting various forms of attitudinal information: sentiment, opinion, mood, and emotion. Text analytics techniques are helpful in analyzing, sentiment at the entity, concept, or topic level and in distinguishing opinion holder and opinion object.”

  156. “A lot of people here pay for private middle and high school with the hope that their kids then go to UGA or GA Tech and college is then free (Hope Scholarship).”

    Not all states have public schools like UGA and GT. In states with strong public schools, competition to get into those schools is often quite fierce (e.g., UCs, UT).

  157. $100k annually is more than we spend now, and we’ve got three extra mouths to feed.

    What is LSJU? Louisiana State Jesuit University?

  158. “In states with strong public schools, competition to get into those schools is often quite fierce (e.g., UCs, UT).”

    Which makes it seem all the more absurd to pay for the privilege of stiffer high school competition and reduced chances of admission to the target school.

  159. Milo, I was within a couple of miles of that house you linked this past weekend. I can give you a definitive no!

    Rhett, that house was outside San Antonio.

    SM, it is the five people, including 3 young kids (2 preschool age) that is unappealing to me. Those 3 kids, sharing bunks and a trundle in a small loft, are going to be driving each other crazy when the weather doesn’t allow them to go outside. I require a certain amount of quiet in a day for my sanity. That mom will not be getting any quiet for at least a decade. I am not opposed to small spaces, and think they make great sense for a single person, especially if they can pay cash for it and have minimal overhead. I’m interested in the design of them. But these particular people and their choice would make for a miserable existence for me over a several-year timeframe.

  160. Milo, for some reason (and itreally annoys me) everyone “in the know” has started calling Stanford LSJU. Leland Stanford Junior University.

  161. “I’m interested in the design of them.”

    Tiny houses often have some great ideas for storage and efficient space utilization that can be applied to larger houses.

  162. Sorry, I can’t resist…

    “Rhett, that house was outside San Antonio.”

    So is mine.

  163. Mooshi, I guess you wouldn’t be familiar with tools used for textual analysis, because that’s not what you do, but several of the tools on that list do exactly the things you said. “Using a tool” doesn’t just mean pounding a nail, when the tool is more sophisticated than a hammer.

  164. Thanks, MBT. When people say they watch a show about x and that they can’t stand x, I always wonder why they are watching. I get it now that that’s not what you’re doing.

  165. Thanks, Rocky.

    So, on the topic of making do. We had problems with the water line in our GE refrigerator freezing. Ultimately I figured that if I could better insulate that portion, then it wouldn’t freeze. So I got some thin foam insulation and some painter’s tape and solved that problem from the inside of the door.

    A few other times, it would periodically make a loud buzzing noise (loud enough that DW and I had to crank up the volume on Fargo last night — great show btw). It was doing it again tonight when I checked Google and Yourube to learn that it’s not the compressor, but the air fan that collects frost, gets out of balance, and vibrates like Hell. So five minutes with a hair dryer blowing into the air intake solved *that problem*.

    With all the money I saved, I can retire a week earlier.

    MBT – why not that house? You don’t like Norman?

  166. If you pay for independent private school, you have to take into account the Finn situation.
    BIL/SIL are aiming for HSS at least for their older kid. I think they will cross the cost bridge when they come to it.
    At the time they enrolled kids in independent private school, I don’t think they thought they would be spending $480k. The other thing is the private school they enrolled their kids at, is newer as doesn’t have the track record of getting kids in HSS as some of the older schools do. They are trying to switch their older kid to a more established school for high school but it is competitive and harder to make the switch.

  167. “many parents were extremely interested in the whole process for getting on that track, but did their best to pretend that they weren’t.”

    Yes, it can be difficult and/or awkward to discuss things with other parents if their kids are in different tracks, or if you don’t know what track your kids and their kids are on or will be on.

    That was one of the things that drew me to TOS and got me to post there. People were openly discussing issues that are unique to parents of bright kids in a civil, rational, supportive manner.

  168. Milo – that happened to us with our old Samsung refrigerator (which was only two years old). Dh ended up having to unplug the whole thing and let it defrost at one point. I hated that thing – something about the ice maker being in the front caused the problems.

  169. Hm, maybe they do write actual lines of code. I went looking for the name of a certain product and came across this https://tedunderwood.com/2012/08/14/where-to-start-with-text-mining/ It includes the following.

    I went into this gig thinking that I wouldn’t have to do my own programming, since there were already public toolsets for text-mining (Voyant, MONK, MALLET, TAPoR, SEASR) and for visualization (Gephi). I figured I would just use those.

    But I rapidly learned otherwise. Tools like MONK and Voyant taught me what was possible, but they weren’t well adapted for managing a very large collection of texts, and didn’t permit me to make my own methodological innovations. When you start trying to do either of those things, you rapidly need “nonstandard parts,” which means that someone in the team has to be able to program.

    That doesn’t have to be a daunting prospect, because the programming involved is of a relatively forgiving sort. It’s not easy, but it’s also not professional software development. So if you want to do it yourself, that’s a plausible aspiration. Alternately, if you want to collaborate with someone, you don’t necessarily need to find “a computer scientist.” A graduate student or fellow humanist who can program will do just fine.

    If you do want to learn to program, I would recommend starting with either Python or R. Of the two languages, Python is certainly easier. It’s intuitive, and well-documented, and great for working with text. If you expect to use existing tools (like MALLET), and just need some “glue” to connect them to each other, Python is probably the way to go. R is a more specialized and less intuitive language. But it happens to be specialized in some ways that are useful for text mining. In particular, it has built-in statistical functions, and a built-in plotting/graphing capacity. I’ve used it for the sample exercise that accompanies this post. But if you’re learning to program for the first time, Python might be a better all-around choice, and you could in principle extend it to do everything R does. [Later addition: You could do worse than start with The Programming Historian.]

  170. I’ve been driving carpools for hours so I am just catching up now on all of the posts. It is very difficult to get accepted to Tufts or Wesleyan. I am not sure if it is easier if you are applying from another part of the country, but Tufts is considered very academic. My friend with the kid that just got into the school near Fred didn’t think she would have a chance of getting into Tufts. She is that same kid with all of the 5s on the APs, captain of a soccer team, straight A average and lots of community service. The only thing she is missing is perfect SAT/ACT scores, but she checks most of the other boxes. The reason it is so challenging for her to get accepted is because there are 1000s of other kids just like her. It is the opposite of Milo’s example of the 1000s of parents that are not talking about these HSS or SLAC schools.

    Many kids from our HS intend to go to Penn State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware, UMass, Illinois, etc. They will pay out of state tuition to attend because they don’t want to go to a SUNY even though the education might be the same or better at a Binghamton or Stonybrook. They are looking for the intangibles that some of you don’t seem willing to pay up for vs. state U. Some of these HS seniors don’t just want to go to school for another four years with kids from their own state. They want bigger or more different experiences. In some cases, they want to start over and they don’t want to be in college with kids that they were just with for 13 years from K-12. They want to meet kids from different parts of the country, they want the whole big sports thing, they want fraternities or sororities. So many parents in counties such as Fairfax, Bergen, Fairfield, Cook, Marin, etc. are willing to pay full freight at Tufts or even lesser ranked schools because they aren’t just focused on the ranking of the school. They want their kid to be happy; they are looking for “fit”. They’re not just there to punch a ticket to get to a prestigious grad program.

  171. I wanted to say that my kids bring down the Asian A++.
    They write things like – my favorite time at school is recess, my favorite class is art.
    Or worse if in a bad mood things like – I identify with the character in the story because like him, I hate school. Oops.

  172. “At the time they enrolled kids in independent private school, I don’t think they thought they would be spending $480k.”

    Because they never learned applied multiplication?

  173. They write things like – my favorite time at school is recess, my favorite class is art.

    My youngest once fit in two separate references to his love of watching tv in a single “About Me” poster.

  174. S&M, your list is filled with lots of special purpose tools, all of which do various tasks that fall under the broad area of NLP and text analysis/mining. Believe it or not, I know of quite a few of them, and many others I can guess what they do, but haven’t had need for them. This is really quite a hodge podge, everything from PDF extractors (kind of a low level utility), to WEKA which is a hardcore, very well known system that provides machine intelligence algorithms. There are chunkers and named entity recognition system, and annotators in there. I have my own little set of faves that I use. The problem is – if you don’t know something about the field of text mining, how can you choose the tool you need? Worse yet, for anything interesting, you likely need several tools, all lined up in order. So people who are really working in this area use pipeline systems like GATE or UIMA, which let you take tools and run them in order, passing annotations from phase to phase. The system I put together has a preprocessor, a phase that does stemming and part-of-speech, a specialized annotator from the NIH, my own very specialized annotator that I built myself, and a translator that spits out a specialized representation that we can then use for other purposes. All of this is in a UIMA pipeline.

    From that class description, it is really hard to tell what they are doing but they do mention parsing, analysing, and filtering. They could teach them to do all that in code with NLTK, but if the students don’t understand it, what is the point? Understanding the concepts and algorithms, so you can choose the tools that meet your needs and understand how to combine them, is what I hope they are doing.

    Info on GATE, which is really popular for all kinds of text understanding projects
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Architecture_for_Text_Engineering

  175. Milo – at the time it was all about getting the best possible education, total cost K-12 for two kids was not a consideration.

  176. We have that same problem with our refrigerator (also a Samsung). We have fixed it ourselves several times, and it kept happening. So now I just buy a bag of ice at the grocery store every week and we use that. $0.99, and I actually prefer that ice to the ice our refrigerator used to make.

    We have been in this windfall situation, and we bought our beach place. It was a really good decision for us in terms of lifestyle/pleasure units. Like other posters here, the next time we anticipate a similar situation is when oldest goes to college – expect to be debt free that same year.

    Milo – one consideration on your question of why pay for private school but not want to pay a lot for college, is how good is your public alternative. In our case, our public school options are terrible. I would make a lot of sacrifices before I would send my kids to public in this district. But there are so many good college alternatives that it doesn’t feel like the balance is the same.

  177. “$100k annually is more than we spend now, and we’ve got three extra mouths to feed.”

    In case it wasn’t clear, my thought isn’t that you should spend more money, it’s that you should retire earlier with less. Get that yacht sales job earlier & spent more time at the lake. But I am totally sold on retiring as early as feasible.

  178. Lauren, I don’t see so much interest in our town in the schools you list “Penn State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Delaware, UMass, Illinois”. OK, Penn State. But our HS students seem to be more likely to want to stay close to home. One year I went to the awards ceremony, and they featured the top ten seniors – and 8 of them were going instate – good schools to be sure, but instate ( Columbia, Cornell, SUNY, CUNY, and Fordham). Another was heading to Delaware, and another to a school in New England – forget which one. In our town, Fordham is really really popular, as are other Catholic schools like Fairfield, Sacred Heart, and the elite Catholic schools like Georgetown or Holy Cross. And there are the strivers who want their kids to go to Cornell, Colgate, Hamilton, Trinity, Amherst, etc. I see very little interest in the Midwest unless it is an elite like UChicago. My son’s friend who wants to go to UMichigan wants to go there not for football but beause of some special program in their physics departmetn.

  179. Penn State is really popular around here. I don’t quite get it. But those THONners are everywhere!

  180. But I am totally sold on retiring as early as feasible

    I’m the opposite. I really, really like my job. (drops voice to confessional whisper: sometimes I have to drag myself away from it to go get my kids)

    DH asked me the other night what I’m going to do with an empty nest, and I told him in all seriousness I hope I am working more.

  181. This is how I fixed the frozen waterline problem. Posting since it seems to be a common issue.

    This is an example of using what I learned in Heat Transfer 3XX for good use.

  182. “She is that same kid with all of the 5s on the APs, captain of a soccer team, straight A average and lots of community service. The only thing she is missing is perfect SAT/ACT scores, but she checks most of the other boxes. The reason it is so challenging for her to get accepted is because there are 1000s of other kids just like her.”

    That is so true. And the lack of tippy top test scores is what puts so many of those kids in the random selection box. All of those other parts of the package are easier to massage into a competitive application, even though it can take years and a lot of $$ to do so. But it’s very hard to move the needle on test scores from “maybe” to “shoe-in.” College admissions officers like to say that four hours on a Saturday morning is not as important as four years in the classroom or on the playing field, but they don’t *really* mean it.

    “They’re not just there to punch a ticket to get to a prestigious grad program.”

    There is a lot of truth to this observation. Most parents we know, even Totebaggy ones, are not necessarily focused on graduate school. And even those who are thinking about it don’t understand, for example, that PhD students are (or should be) fully funded by their departments.

  183. “Get that yacht sales job earlier & spent more time at the lake.”

    Yeah, there’s not much money at the lake. I’d be making $30k a year selling a couple pontoon boats and bass trackers to Joe Sixpack.

    Yacht sales, I mean a little bit of selling, a little driving boats to the various shows around the country, hanging out, shooting the breeze.

    I’ve got to make real $$ before I can do that.

  184. Mooshi, i thought we were wondering if they actually teach programming in that class or just standard text mining. You seem to be in a different topic. I know that you want to explain what data mining is, as if I didn’t know, but I can’t figure out why. We are apparently on different topics. What is yours?

  185. Since I can’t post the pic, I’ll describe that pillow. It has a 1980s looking sunburst done in gold metallic, like you might seem in a teenagers room. The gaudy, shiny look is antithetical to looking sophisticated. For $325. To spend the entire windfall, you’d need 8 of them.

  186. Milo, the house I didn’t like was the tiny house with 5 people. I like Norman fine (and better than OKC). People there with $150K income would not buy a $900K house. Housing is cheap, so people would much rather buy a $250K house plus a lake house and boat. And Derek being Pistol Pete is the whole reason I started watching the Duggars. I can’t believe I missed the homecoming episode. The people are very nice – my DS decided in middle school that he was going there because people were so nice. (He’s not, even though he could go there more cheaply than instate with scholarships). When DD was planning to go there, we were buying some logo merchandise, and salesgirl asked where she was from. DD said Houston, salesgirl asked if she knew anyone, DD said no, and salesgirl said “Aww I would be your friend, but I am graduating.” It really is a great community. I love going back to visit.

  187. S&M, stemming, parts of speech tagging, and annotation are not things people in data mining do. Trust me on this one. I don’t do data mining and I wasn’t explaining data mining to you. Perfectly nice field, just not the same as mine.

  188. DW and I had to crank up the volume on Fargo last night

    Which season? I’m looking forward to the new one next month.

    That was one of the things that drew me to TOS and got me to post there. People were openly discussing issues that are unique to parents of bright kids in a civil, rational, supportive manner.

    That’s because there wasn’t a politics thread :)

  189. Mooshi, you explained yesterday that your neighborhood is slow to change and I am not surprised that some of the schools that you listed are close to home. The micro districts have different personalities. For example, the two school districts that border your town are filled with families that spend 12 years trying to make sure that their kids get into top tier schools. The families in those school districts are essentially “private” publics and many of those families can afford to send their kids to any school in the country.

    My town is a mix of people that have been here forever plus families that moved here from Manhattan. They come for two reasons; schools and easy commute. There are many seniors that do look for schools in NY state, but there are an equal number that are trying to get into other state schools or private schools. There are plenty of kids that would love to attend Michigan or UNC, but they can no longer get in because those schools are very competitive. They turned to Wisconsin instead of Michigan because they are looking for that type of experience. The kids that like Penn State from my town are looking for a big change. They’ve been with the same kids for 13 years, and the graduating class is small (approx 175). Schools such as Ohio State, Penn State, or UMass are large and they can finally be in a big pond. They want a good education, but they also want to have fun. Some of the out of state schools are closer than the SUNYs. My friend’s daughter just chose Maryland with some merit aid vs SUNY Geneseo. It is much closer and it wasn’t much more expensive with the merit $ that they offered her if she maintains a 3.0.

  190. Mooshi, I still don’t know what page you’re on. Does it relate to the question of whether that class is actually about coding?

  191. @Milo – You could do the yacht sales job & spend Mon-Thurs when not somewhere better & when sales are slow at the lake. And spend slightly more liberally on the principal.

    @Lark – I hear people like you, and I can’t relate. Yet I don’t hate my job or career. I like it more than anything else I could realistically get paid for. I have friends at work & feel pride in my career. But I’d rather do other things with my time if we didn’t need income.

  192. Mooshi, Oh, I see I did mistype at 7:38, wrote data mining instead of text mining. But that was after your posts which confused me.

  193. Ivy, I’m with you. One of the nice things about my job/career is that it lends itself to moving to part-time.

  194. “You could do the yacht sales job & spend Mon-Thurs when not somewhere better & when sales are slow at the lake. And spend slightly more liberally on the principal. ”

    I could. But if I’m selling boats, I would be spending less from investment earnings, not more. The other consideration is that around this time we may have elder care concerns. If you have kids when you’re already old, you’re the sandwich generation. If you have them when you’re relatively young, as soon as you get rid of them, *then* its time to deal with the seniors. :)

  195. “Woot! Woot! Congratulations HM & Finn.” — Did I miss something?

    @TCMama — our plans are about five or so years behind Milo’s, largely because we had kids later. Our first “plan” a few years ago (when we actually ran numbers and set a goal) was to retire at 62, when DS graduates college (or 61, when we pay the final tuition check). More recently, we think we might be able to pull the trigger when DS leaves for college (so 58), but that is tighter, so we’ll see.

    It’s funny, DH and I used to be totally aligned in future retirement plans: we both enjoy our careers and are in places that are generally making us happy; I’m terrified of running out of money and eating cat food and so want to save massive amounts; he wants to live large and doesn’t want to retire until we have a very large pile of cash saved to we can continue to live large in retirement; ergo, we both started off planning to work for a long time. But my attitude has done almost a complete 180 since my stepdad died — he had *just* retired, hadn’t even received a SS check. Turns out that the one fear that I have that is even larger than the cat food one is dying before I have a chance to do any of the fun stuff I still want to do. So I have gotten less patient with work and more eager to be gone, to the point that I *think* I would be happy to walk now.*

    But I don’t think DH actually wants to retire — he just loves the tech, and it’s not like that’s something he could do in retirement. So we’ll see. If this new project goes, he is locked in for 3-4 more years, but in a good way, because it’s something he’s massively excited about. If it doesn’t go the way he wants (e.g. they are considering other locations, and he ain’t moving), then who knows, he might just bail within the year — although even then he’d probably look for some version of a Beltway Bandit job. And for me, I don’t see much point of sitting around the house if he’s working full-time — then I just take on responsibility for all the house-and-kid tasks that I don’t like. :-) So for now, we both keep working, and I am toying with the idea of part-time to carpe a little more diem within the constraints of still having kids in the house and a DH working full-time.

    But that also goes back to why the $2500 would go directly into savings — it’s all about whether I want the vicious cycle or the virtuous one. If I put it to savings, that’s the equivalent of having another $750K post-tax in my account, today, which accelerates the feasibility of retirement significantly. OTOH, if I use it to increase my lifestyle, I just pushed my retirement back even further, because now I need another $750K post-tax saved to support that extra $2500/mo lifestyle in perpetuity. For where my head is right now, that’s a no-brainer.

    *I note that this is easy for me to say, as there is basically zero risk DH will call me on it and decide we should both quit today.

  196. But my attitude has done almost a complete 180 since my stepdad died — he had *just* retired, hadn’t even received a SS check. But that also goes back to why the $2500 would go directly into savings…

    Wouldn’t that make you want to spend it now? Who knows if you’ll make it till tomorrow, let alone 58 or 62.

  197. Finn — Although you’ve frequently posted about merit aid opportunities, I was somehow under the impression that you’d be willing to pay full freight for Harvard/MIT/etc. Your comments about the importance of peers lead me to believe you think the private school peer group has been instrumental in your children’s success. If your kids get into top schools but find the finances don’t work out, I see a “gift of the magi” element to the situation.

    I considered private k-12 school for my kids, but it probably would have been with some merit aid to cut down the costs. As it turned out, they were extremely resistant to leaving their public school environment. In any case, it would have been quite an extra burden to pay for private prep school and also private college.

  198. It’s more like LSJU full pay or USC,

    The University of Spoiled Children? You really want them involved with that kind of peer group? ;-)

  199. The University of Spoiled Children? You really want them involved with that kind of peer group? ;-)

    Hehe ! Neither do you want them in the LSJC marching band.

  200. @Rhett — yeah, I said that wrong — I said it the way I meant to earlier. I am more into carpe diem mentality right now, but for me that means freedom vs. stuff. So to me, if it were an annuity for $2500/mo, that is the equivalent of an extra $750K in my retirement kitty, so I can re-do my budget with that additional income stream added in, and I am now that much closer to convincing DH we can retire to his desired lifestyle. If it were job-related, e.g. a $30K raise, it would go into savings to help bring that day closer — or, maybe, to justify my decision to go part-time.

    But the one thing I wouldn’t want to do with that money is increase my lifestyle, because every $2500/mo I get used to living on is another $750K I need in investments to support an extra $2500/mo permanently. So choosing to spend that $ on something appealing, like a car, means I actually have to work longer, so that I can save more to support that increased lifestyle in retirement. Sure, I could spend it now and then cut back the lifestyle when I retire. But part of the reason we are not retired already is because of hedonic adaptation — we really like our current lifestyle, and we (DH) aren’t willing to make cuts to retire now. So if we are struggling with that at 50, I’m not going to assume that we will somehow be magically able to resist that at 60.

  201. LfB,

    I am more into carpe diem mentality right now

    Nut you’re not. Your comments only make sense if you are certain you and your husband will make it to 58. You may not and then you’ll regret that trip you didn’t take this summer.

  202. @Rhett — well, my point was more that an extra $2500/mo would allow us to turn 58 into 54 or even sooner. Whereas getting used to another $2500 in my monthly expenses pushes 58 out to 62 or so [note: English major math — haven’t whipped out the old spreadsheet here. It’s an illustration]

    The “real” situation is that we already have a pretty freaking awesome, not-remotely-deprived lifestyle (I mean, I am probably buying a Giulia within the next year — it’s not a Porsche, but it’s also not like that sucks, you know?). We could retire today if we wanted to without eating cat food, but it would require cutting back significantly on travel and eating out (and cars). Or we can wait 8-10 years, continue to live exactly the same non-deprived lifestyle, and retire without having to really cut back. So IMO, since I am happy with today (and can’t travel with kids in school anyway), I’d rather put an extra $2500/mo toward cutting down that 8-10 years.

    But my answer would probably be different if I weren’t already doing most of the stuff that I want to do and that I can do with kids and a job. Per the above, if I didn’t already have a cleaning service every 2 weeks, damn skippy that’s the first thing that that $2500 goes toward.

  203. HM/CoC – I think my questions can either go with HM’s article or I could write up a separate post. CoC – let me know if you want me to send something in. I would spend more time articulating my thoughts.

    SM – I went to the same undergrad as LfB. I didn’t look them up on the chart / missed the post. I’m not sure if the environment is the same as it was when I was there. I think my teammate was an officer with the College Republicans and arranged a lot of the speakers. My team was very diverse in political views – roughly 1/3 voted for Bush, 1/3 voted for Nader, and 1/3 voted for Gore. We had fantastic conversations.

  204. So, I’m another ~5 years on from LfB, meaning ~10yrs removed from Milo. Youngest will graduate from college, in theory, when I’m (cueing the Beatles) 64. That’d probably be the earliest retirement date. We’d have plenty of income from investments to not touch the principal thru age 91 for me.

    My biggest concern re retirement is, after the year long trip around the world, what will I do with my time? Meme would say I’d/we’d have plenty to do, but I’m not yet convinced.

  205. Serious question for those who want to retire before age 65: what will you do for health insurance? Even if the ACA survives, it’s still a significant cost outside of employer-provided. I would not want DH to retire until we are both eligible for Medicare, for that reason alone. Better to just work a little less.

  206. Milo/LfB – thanks for the responses. I had been more conservative in my retirement plans, but between DH being about the exact opposite and my mom dying when she was 61, I have been less conservative lately. I think we’ve swung too far to DH’s live in the moment, so now trying to swing back the other way. The big thing for me is that I finally had a vision of what I wanted to do in retirement and now have a tangible goal to work towards.

  207. Lark – I can “retire” from my employer based on years of service and age before I’m Medicare eligible. Currently, that “retirement” includes employer paid health insurance so I’m counting on that in my pre-65 retirement plan. We’ll see.

  208. @TCMama — Sounds familiar. :-) Awesome about the goal — care to share what it is?

    @Lark — This is part of why the target date is pushed out as far as it is, as I am assuming significant health care costs in whatever the market is at that point until 65. I also have some pre-existing conditions that I know will not put me in the “cheap” part of the market.

  209. I also have some pre-existing conditions that I know will not put me in the “cheap” part of the market.

    Community rating seems like it’s here to stay.

  210. tcmama — Please send in your topic because I think it’s a different slant from HM’s. It’s actually a topic near and dear to me and I’d be very interested in the discussion.

  211. Fred, I didn’t realize you had one so close in age to mine–always think of you as having recent experience going through what we’re doing now, because of what you write about your oldest.

    That piece about the guy who advocated healthy living passing on at 58 sounded humorously ironic, until I got to the part about his dad dying 2 days earlier. You can die of a broken heart when your partner goes; why not when a parent dies?

    LfB/Rhett, I can see that LfB’s plan is more “seize the future” than seizing the actual day today, right this instant. As she said, she can claim to want to retire now, because her husband is unlikely to call her on it. But yeah, that plan is for maximizing gross hedonism over a period of <1 decade.

    On health insurance and early retirement: doesn't AARP have group rates? Their solicitation is a very well-known "welcome to oldsville" card everyone gets when they turn 50.

  212. “The big thing for me is that I finally had a vision of what I wanted to do in retirement and now have a tangible goal to work towards.”

    What’s your vision?

    Lark – About health care… By that time, they’ll work something out that can cover unemployed 50-somethings with a very modest taxable income. It won’t be difficult to make our income appear low.

  213. saac – AARP only sells medicare supplement plans. Everyone between 50 and 65 (and dependents) without employment based coverage – current or early retirement – would have trouble in a free market environment. Do you and your son have a non exchange private plan? Or something (no need to go into detail) that you get in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act?

  214. Oh, sorry — since it was directed at HM and Finn, I thought I had missed a post about college acceptances or something.

    But “maximizing gross hedonism”? Wtf? Hell, if I were doing that, I’d have already bought a 911 4S Cabriolet, instead of dithering over a Giulia.

  215. Meme, not sure I want this to get the full commentary treatment from everyone on the blog, but you might be able to help, and most people will be on the new thread now, so here goes: our insurance is a mess. We don’t have any. I purchased insurance from BC/BS over the phone (after research online), never got anything in the mail or email about it, so I called three weeks later. No current policy. They couldn’t sell me one because the enrollment period had expired. So I called ACA, After being bumped up a couple of levels, I got someone who seemed to know exactly what was going on and what to do. She did find evidence of the policy, and saw that it had been canceled a week earlier, for no apparent reason. She filed a request for a special enrollment period for me. I’ve just gotten word that it was denied. I will appeal that decision, but am starting to think I need to find another way/place to buy it.

  216. Laura, I hope that did not offend you! You wouldn’t spend that windfall now, because you want to retire earlier and not be deprived in retirement, which would give you more years of pleasure than buying something now.

  217. “I’d have already bought a 911 4S Cabriolet, instead of dithering over a Giulia.”

    There was a FB meme recently that said “In the comments section, name the first car that you drove faster than 130 mph.”

    I was about to write “My brother’s old 911 Carerra 4 with the top down,” but I figured there was a good chance it would show up in my mom’s news feed, and I kept my counsel.

  218. S&M – Good luck with your search. We always talk about how many pitfalls there are in navigating the health care and government programs in general, and you appear to have been tripped up. I assume your policy was cancelled because they never received the first payment. When I was on Exchange plans (administered by MA) there was a very short deadline for submitting the payment. I had to pay the exchange, but I also selected my plan online via an exchange website – I did not call in the insurance company directly. Not sure how it works in FL. I would immediately figure out what you can get for your son. I think minors are more easily insurable under various programs.

  219. 911 4S Cabriolet

    Totebaggers have, in my opinion, a little too much faith in their living into their 90s.

  220. @SM — Ah, yes. That’s it exactly. It is “free time” vs. “stuff”: Right now, I have sufficient stuff to be happy, so if I had a windfall, I would use it to buy more free time instead of more stuff. On the flip side, I do not value my time so highly that I am willing to give up a significant portion of my current stuff to have 100% free time now (though I am willing to give up far more than DH is — my budget says 2 more yrs, his says 8-10). So I guess that means that as a pair, we are probably close to optimal stuff levels for ongoing happiness.

    Until the shit hits the fan, at least, and all best-laid plans go out the window. :-)

  221. LfB – I want to live in a little itty-bitty apartment in London for a month or two a year and walk around the streets and stare at all the buildings. We went with the kids between Christmas and New Year’s, and both DH and I had the same vision. Some people are happy in nature or by the beach. We want to be around really old buildings and history. I wanted to go hug the buildings. Not even joking. We went to Parliament and my mind was blown that the hall had been there for 900 years. I’d also like to go to the English countryside more too. We did a week trip a long time ago where we rented a car and drove to the big, old houses and toured them. Heaven.

    Vacation tip – don’t go to London between Christmas and New Year’s. The crowds were insane. We took the river boat and got off by Parliament and the amount of people on the stairs was unreal. We went to Paris before London and the crowds were busy but nowhere near as bad as London.

    I’d also like to spend a month or two in NYC and go to all the Broadway shows and stare at all the buildings and go to the museums.

    I think we could do those trips relatively inexpensively if we rented an apartment and didn’t eat out all the time. I’d even fly in coach ;)

  222. “Totebaggers have, in my opinion, a little too much faith in their living into their 90s.”

    Rhett, you are just an evil bastard — first the Giulia .gif, now this? It’s more like “Totebaggers still require a functioning back seat that seats mostly-grown people so they can do carpool stuff.”

    But, yeah. Ideal world is probably Giulia until kids are gone, then trade in that and the Mustang for The dream car. But I have also had actual conversations with DH about how sometimes “not yet” becomes “never” — e.g., I’ve had a knee-hip problem, and sometimes I wonder whether I’ll still be able to drive the 911 stick in 8 more years.

    But then I drive the Giulia and think, damn, you know, as a second choice, Giulia + Mustang as a permanent option Does Not Suck. If only it had a stick . . . .

  223. @tcmama — how awesome! Yeah, our current vision of retirement is exactly along those lines — just going to live in a place for a month or two at a time, renting an apartment and living like normal people (not one place in particular; we have several on the short list). If we like it, we can go back; if not, oh well, it’s a big world.

    This is also why our retirement target is 58 vs. now — hard to do that with kids in HS. :-) But also why I have been pushing DH that 58 + lower budget is better than 62 + higher budget — I want to be gone as soon as the kids are!

  224. “Serious question for those who want to retire before age 65: what will you do for health insurance? Even if the ACA survives, it’s still a significant cost outside of employer-provided.”

    As of today, if we retire before 65, we have the opportunity to continue on the retiree health plan, which costs significantly more than we pay now, but significantly less than private insurance. Depending on what changes in the next 15 years (approx target date) with both the private health care market, tax credits, and DH’s employer plans, we may have to adjust something. But a lot can happen in 15 years. A lot could change with medical insurance/cost/taxes. Also – we could have major periods of job loss. DS could get accepted to Harvard full-cost. ;) Or we could have significant pay increases or DS could get a full ride for college. We also don’t know how long we will end up paying for private school. So…our plan will have to adjust with the circumstances. Right now, we are just in the save as much money as possible while maintaining what feels like a pretty cushy lifestyle, without increasing that lifestyle to the point that we have to keep working to maintain it. (kind of what LfB said)

  225. tcm – that sounds great. DW wants us to go to London next summer. Ugh. That means I have to get on a plane.

    LfB – I’m more aligned with your train of thought that wonders what a 911 gets you that a Mustang or even Acura doesn’t. In real world terms. You can go slightly faster around a corner before the electronic nannies dial you back. You can accelerate faster from a red light, and stop more abruptly at the next one. You can merge onto 695 a couple seconds sooner. But being realistic, the experience is only marginally distinguishable from Meme’s RAV4.

    On the other hand, for the cost of 2.5 Porsches, you can have this:
    http://www.boattrader.com/listing/2015-beneteau-america-gran-turismo-38-103006111

    Which opens up a whole new world of experience you’ve never tasted. And you and DH are both into toys and mechanics and physical experiences. Driving a modern 911 down the BW Parkway is hardly different than driving a modern RAV4, but driving a 38-foot cruiser with twin-300 hp diesels at wide open throttle across the Chesapeake Bay, launching over the moderate swells, getting dinner in Easton or Cambridge at a dockside restaurant, that’s an entirely new thing.

  226. LfB – One more thing…driving 40 mph across the water is a lot more thrilling than 100 mph on the highway.

  227. Laura, I’m disappointed in the ending of your sentence on why totebagger retirees require a back seat.

  228. Thanks Meme. I may look into Fla Healthy Kids for him. The salesperson took my card no. on the phone, but no payment ever went through. Perhaps I should have called and said “take my money” earlier.

  229. “But being realistic, the experience is only marginally distinguishable from Meme’s RAV4.”

    See, you had me until here. But I’ve known both. I’ve driven both. And Senator, a Rav4 is no 911 4S Cabriolet. :-)

    So all I can say is it is a visceral thing. The way you describe driving that boat, *that* is what I get behind the wheel of a 911. It’s not just about speed — it’s about the 100% confidence that there is nothing I can do that can send that car off the road, because my “oh shit” level is about 5% of the car’s “oh shit” level. I do not feel that confidence in the Mustang, because it would be very, very, very easy to put that thing into a tree. So I can enjoy the feeling of downshifting into a tight curve without the fear of imminent doom, and I can do it safely at a much higher rate of speed.

    But we are thinking about a slightly different version of this — I think there is a benefit to having an “everyday” car and a “play” car, vs. one big-expensive one — it’s the knee of the curve issue, and do you really get that much more joy out of that much more money? There are lots of old cars that you can get in the $30-60K range and drive for a few years and sell — the Shelby replicas have currently grabbed my fancy, but there are a lot of others (e.g., I tend to love 1940s Chevy pickups). So I could have a nice-but-not-ridiculous driving car, and we could continue to have some version of a cheaper play car that we then sell and replace with another version when we get bored.

    BTW, I meant to say, those boats you posted earlier were both pretty cool — I was going to complain about the mini-fridge in the cheaper one, but then I realized that it also had a wine fridge, which strikes me as a reasonable trade-off. :-)

    And honestly, I could do the boat thing — at least, I’d be interested in giving it a try. Unfortunately, DH’s enthusiasm for boats is about at the same level as his enthusiasm for renting/buying an RV and traveling around the country.

  230. Milo, you have an aversion to flying?

    tcm, that sounds nice. I’ll be a bit of a wet blanket though, and mention that there have been lots of articles over the last couple years about how expensive it is to live in London, it’s pricing itself out of the young creative types it needs, etc. But a month or two in a flat would still be less than staying that long in a hotel!

  231. “But I’ve known both. I’ve driven both. And Senator, a Rav4 is no 911 4S Cabriolet. :-)”

    I’ve driven both, too.

    The first boat I posted the other day, the smaller one, is a very economical coastal and inland cruiser. It’s perfect for the Loop.

    The second one, the Nordhavn, is an absolute tank in which I would happily set out for Hawaii and not even bother checking the weather. You can secure the doors, and if it gets rolled in a storm, it will right itself.

    We very well may buy something like the first, do the Loop, and decide that we want more space and we want to venture farther without necessarily hugging the coast and waiting for favorable weather. DW, lover of Anne of Green Gables, would love to set a destination for Prince Edward Island. On the way, we could do a week in Martha’s Vineyard, a week in Nantucket…

  232. “Milo, you have an aversion to flying?”

    I hate everything about it. And it often makes me nauseated.

  233. tcmama – I love your idea of a month in London – I would like to do exactly the same thing! I go read every single plaque on the buildings and let out a little scream when I realize who lived there!
    We were there between Christmas and New Years about 8 years ago, and it was crazy. Everything we did first thing in the morning was fine, no crowds, but whatever place we went after lunch was mobbed. I remember being surrounded by Italians in Westminster Abby trying to fight my way through to look at various things, but it was wonderful.

    We were at both the Churchill War Rooms and the Tower when they opened, and it was perfect.

    Re: insurance when you are under 65 but not under an employer’s plan: we faced this when DH retired from corporate life. We were not allowed to do COBRA, so I looked into signing up for Blue Shield. They wanted so much information from me about every illness we had ever had (and this was when my kids were younger so they were still getting stuff) for the past 5 or 10 years that I was going crazy. I figured if they ever found out that I had not mentioned that DS had some ear infection back in 1999 they would cancel our policy. It ended up not mattering because DH got disgusted and signed us up with Kaiser. I was not happy at the time, but it has worked out well. So I know that Kaiser lets individual people sign up, but it isn’t cheap. Not sure how many states they are in now.

  234. The loaded RAV4 is fun for me because I have always had a bare bones car, although not as bare bones as DH’s 04 Matrix – crank windows. All the gadgets are great. It is a beautiful color (Galactic Aqua). However, it is utilitarian. No illusions. I am still getting used to the handling and will report back if it ever feels zippy.

  235. tcmama Send it to gntotebag @ gmail.com.

    The idea of visiting various locations for a month at a time has been expressed by a few totebaggers as a retirement goal. It is mine, and recently even the idea of renting out my home on AirBnB as way to cut costs was discussed here.

  236. “the idea of renting out my home on AirBnB as way to cut costs was discussed here.”

    Is that legal where you live?

    I’ve mentioned before that we have a big problem here with illegal conversions of housing to short term vacation rentals. I’m not sure what that law says about short term rentals of one’s own residence, but I don’t think DW would want strangers in our house with all our stuff.

  237. “Totebaggers have, in my opinion, a little too much faith in their living into their 90s.”

    For a lot of us, I don’t think it’s that so much as conservative financial planning to make sure we don’t run out of money if we live that long.

  238. “58 + lower budget is better than 62 + higher budget”

    Does it have to be an either/or? Can you start throttling back at 58, and ramp down to zero at 62?

  239. “driving a 38-foot cruiser with twin-300 hp diesels at wide open throttle across the Chesapeake Bay, launching over the moderate swells, getting dinner in Easton or Cambridge at a dockside restaurant, that’s an entirely new thing.”

    Isn’t it a pretty long way from Chesapeake Bay to Cambridge?

  240. “Serious question for those who want to retire before age 65: what will you do for health insurance? Even if the ACA survives, it’s still a significant cost outside of employer-provided.”

    That’s definitely a limitation we need to plan around.

    When we last had to pick insurance companies/plans, DW had the best option through her employer, so our family is covered through her, and we haven’t had reason to change. I’m older and will probably retire first, so we can plan things for me to be covered under her plan until I hit 65.

    If she stays with her current employer until she is eligible for retirement, one of the benefits is continued medical insurance coverage; I’m not sure, but I think she’ll have to pay her contribution as well as the contribution her employer would make before she retires . If both kids are on their own before I turn 65, she can dial down her coverage to an individual plan, in which case, out of pocket will be similar to what it is now for family coverage.

  241. “The University of Spoiled Children? You really want them involved with that kind of peer group? ;-)”

    USC is in play largely because they’ve made a big effort to increase their academic profile by using generous merit aid to attract top kids. They’ve been notably active at my kids’ school, so that gives us a window into the types of kids that go there, and for the most part they are probably from the top quartile, a combination of top kids going there in part because of the merit aid, and kids a notch below HYPS.

    Our nephew is a student there now, and he characterizes most of the students as nerds who spend most of their time studying.

  242. “Isn’t it a pretty long way from Chesapeake Bay to Cambridge?”

    LOL. that one made me laugh.

    Cambridge, Maryland.

  243. “They’ve been notably active at my kids’ school, so that gives us a window into the types of kids that go there”

    Selection bias. A number of coworkers went to lunch at McDonald’s today, so that gives me a window into the types of people who go to McDonald’s.

  244. I’ve definitely thought about the medical insurance aspect of earlyish retirement, partly because I’m 3 years younger than Mr WCE. A seasonal job (summers in Alaska, winters off?) or academic school year job (engineering academic adviser/instructor) appeals to me if we live here, partly because working in the winter doesn’t seem that bad.

    My jobs have never been that demanding- it’s managing life (grad school followed by kids) on top of the job that can be challenging. I would like to be in a position where Mr WCE can retire and I can earn enough to maintain our standard of living post-kids.

  245. “Selection bias. A number of coworkers went to lunch at McDonald’s today, so that gives me a window into the types of people who go to McDonald’s.”

    Perhaps as informative, we also have had a window into who doesn’t go there, e.g., kids who were turned down.

    Both have been consistent with what we’ve seen in college search guidebooks and websites.

  246. WCE, would Mr WCE then be lead parent, or would you still be juggling kids & career?

  247. “Perhaps as informative, we also have had a window into who doesn’t go there, e.g., kids who were turned down.”

    Don’t forget that they only want so many kids from each school.

    “or would you still be juggling kids & career?”

    she said post-kids

  248. “Don’t forget that they only want so many kids from each school.”

    The data I’ve seen suggests they’re more interested in increasing their profile than protecting their yield.

  249. Good health — that’s the most important thing.
    It’s so hard to enjoy retirement, especially travel, if you or your spouse are managing chronic medical conditions requiring frequent medical appointments.

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