Category Archives: Intelligent Consumerism

Travel Hacking: Round Four

Time goes by fast when you are having fun.  It seems to go by faster when you are having fun travel hacking.  This is my fourth post on travel hacking in 2018.

In Travel Hacking: Round Three, I wrote about the American Express Business Gold Card. This post is a little bit different.  In round four, I am going to cover two cards.  As you will see, there is a special reason for that.

The two cards that I recently hacked are two of the Chase Southwest Airlines cards.  The first card I opened was the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.  The second card was the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card.

The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card has a generous sign-on bonus.  This card allows cardholders to earn 60,000 points when you spend $3,000 in the first three months.  Some other benefits include 6,000 points every year on the card member’s anniversary.  There is a $99 annual fee that will appear on the first billing statement.  Cardholders will earn 2 points for every $1 in spend on Southwest and Rapid Rewards hotel and car rental partner purchases.  Other purchases will allow cardholders to earn 1 point for every $1 in spending.  Please keep in mind that this card cannot be opened if the applicant has exceeded the Chase 5/24 Rule.

The Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit Card also has a great sign on bonus.  The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Credit card has a sign on bonus of 40,000 points based on spending $1,000 in the first three months.  This card has a $69 annual fee that is applied to the first billing statement.  Additional points are accrued in the same way as the Premier Business Credit Card.  Cardholders who keep this card open for one year will receive 3,000 points on their one year anniversary.

The reason that I opened these two cards together was to earn the sought-after Southwest Airlines Companion Pass.  The Southwest Airlines Companion Pass is obtained when a cardholder reaches 110,000 in Rapid Rewards points.  Since I earned 100,000 in sign on bonus points, the other 10,000 had to be earned by way of additional spending.

Many travel reward experts refer to the Southwest Companion Pass as the Holy Grail of Travel Hacking.  This top-level status is the highest tier that a Southwest Rapid Rewards loyalty program member can achieve.  The required spend to reach this status is a challenge for some cardholders.

What makes the Companion Pass so awesome?  The Companion Pass allows cardholders to book an additional ticket for free when they book a flight. The only additional costs that are due are taxes and fees.

There are no limits on the number of flights that a cardholder can use the Companion Pass for.  The Companion Pass is valid for the year that it is earned as well as the following year.  The cardholder can use accrued points to book their flight or pay for their flight.

For me, I travel with my wife.  The Companion Pass is an ideal program for both of us.  We will be using both our points and companion pass in 2019.

In 2019, I have ambitious goals for my travel hacking. My wife and I normally only take one or two vacations per year.  My plan is to get at least three flights out of my 110,000 points and Companion Pass.  That should not be an issue based on the total amount of points that I have.

Our last two big vacations were to Europe.  Next year, I want to stay in the USA and take a trip out to the West Coast.  We were talking about going to California but decided on taking a trip to Seattle, Washington.  We love California, but both of us have been there a few times.  We have never been to Seattle and my wife just binged Gray’s Anatomy, so Seattle it is.  While in Seattle, we are planning on taking a trip to Mount Rainier as well as visiting Victoria, British Columbia. 

The second tip that we are going to take in 2019 will be to South Bend, Indiana in the fall.  Why South Bend, Indiana?  The same reason why most people go to South Bend, Indiana in the fall, to watch a Notre Dame Football game.  I have not decided on what game, but it will most likely be one of their first home games.  Southwest Airlines does not fly into South Bend, Indiana.  We are planning on Flying out of Philadelphia and flying into Chicago, Illinois. South Bend from Chicago is less than a two-hour drive.  We will fly in on Friday and fly home on Sunday morning.

The third trip that I am planning on taking advantage of the Companion Pass is for is to visit Key West for some tarpon fishing.  The only difference is that my wife will not be attending.  A nice feature of the Companion Pass is that it is not limited to one person.  It can be changed up to three times per year.  My friend Tim is going to be accompanying me on this adventure.  We will be flying out of Newark to Miami and will drive to Key West.  Tim was the guy who set-up my blog, so bringing him with me is my thank you gift to him.

Next year is shaping up to be a fun year for traveling.  While traveling is fun, it is even more exciting when you are travel hacking and traveling for free.  If you have a high credit score and are responsible for paying off your balance every month, travel hacking is a great way to travel for free.

Thanks for taking the time to read about my fourth round of travel hacking.  If you want to learn more about travel hacking, keep an eye out for Travel Hacking: Round Five.  It will be published in the next few months.

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Travel Hacking: Round Three

This post is the third post in my new series on Travel Hacking.  In Travel Hacking: Round Two, I was expecting the third round to be about using the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Card.  Life happened and I had to amend those plans.

The change in plans was due to an unexpected expense that recently occurred.  When you own a house, unexpected bills occur.  When you own an older house, they tend to pop up more frequently because things get old, wear out, and break.

These unexpected repairs always seem to occur at inopportune times.  Our most recent major repair came when we returned from vacation.  We came home and noticed that we did not have hot water.

The lack of hot water was due to our oil furnace not working.  It was installed in 1992 and I knew it was on its last leg.  Over the years, I replaced valves that wore out, but I was aware that the boiler was getting old and that I was going to have to buy a new furnace soon.

The benefit of having an emergency fund is to cover unexpected expenses.  Some people debate that, but I am not one to split hairs about when an emergency fund should be used.  In my opinion, if your house does not have heat or hot water, that is an emergency. 

The cost to replace my furnace was $6,300.  Talk about tossing six grand out the window.  The benefit of my new furnace is that it is more efficient.  I swapped out a 150 BTU furnace for a smaller 118 BTU furnace.  I live in a rural area, so switching to a lower cost heating option like natural gas is not available. 

The cash for the repair was sitting in the bank.  There was not any panic about this repair.  I just did not want to spend that much money without being rewarded. 

The next set of credit cards that I was planning on using were the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Card and the Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Credit Card.  Those two cards are set-up for all of my household bills.  It is forecasted that I will have enough points to earn the sought-after companion pass soon.

Since I had this large unexpected bill, I wanted to pay for it on a premium credit card.  This single purchase was large enough to cover more than the required three month’s worth of spending to qualify for bonus points on a top card.  Most of these premium cards reward bonus points are earned when a new cardholder spends $5,000 in three months.  I was more than covered.

Another aspect that I had to consider was that I am following a plan similar to the Chase Gauntlet that was made popular by the guys over at the ChooseFI Podcast.  As part of the Chase Gauntlet, the Chase 5/24 rule is a major aspect.  The Chase 5/24 rule restricts people from opening fewer than 5 credit cards in the past 24 months.

The way that I was able to open another card that did not apply to the Chase 5/24 rule was to open a business card.  I was able to open a business card because of this blog.  It was created as a business.

The business card that I decided to open was the American Express Business Gold Card.  This card had a $0 introductory annual fee for the first year and then $175 per year after that.  The welcome offer was 50,000 points with $5,000 of qualifying spend in 3-months (I had more than that with one purchase).

The American Express Business Gold Card had impressive featured benefits.  Cardholders have many options to earn 3X points.  3X points can be earned when flights are purchased directly from airlines, on advertising with select media, at U.S. gas stations, U.S. purchases for shipping, and other business expenses including U.S. computer-based purchases from specific providers. 1X points are earned on every other purchase.

Premium Roadside Assistance is a great benefit for cardholders.  I will not have to renew my AAA membership this year ($100 in my pocket).  The American Express Business Gold Card offers roadside assistance in case of a breakdown or flat time.  They will pay for emergency services up to four times per year.  They will even come to your home if it is for a jumpstart or flat time.

This card includes some nice travel benefits.  It includes car rental and damage insurance.  You can receive baggage insurance.  Travel insurance is a benefit.  There is also a Global Assist Hotline that provides medical, legal, financial, and other emergency assistance services when a cardholder travels more than 100 miles from home.

The American Express Business Gold Card offers shopping benefits.  Cardholders can shop with confidence when they use this credit card.  Some benefits shoppers receive are extended warranties on eligible purchases, purchase protection, return protection, and entertainment access for presale tickets.

While all of those benefits are nice, the main reason that I signed up for the card was to earn points.  How much are those 50,000 points worth?  According to the Points Guy, they are worth about $950 in travel rewards.  Those points will come in handy when it is time to book next year’s vacation. 

As a personal finance blogger, I enjoy saving money and building wealth more than spending money.  When I do spend money, I like to do so on things that I enjoy.  While I do enjoy hot showers and a warm house in winter, buying a furnace is not an enjoyable purchase.  Being able to score over $900 in points reduced the pain of having to replace my furnace.

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Travel Hacking: Round Two

Travel hacking is a great way to travel for free.  Travel Hacking is the practice of opening premium rewards credit cards to capture the generous initial bonus points that these credit cards offer to new cardholders.  The hack is based on getting the bonus points, closing the card before the annual fee is due, and never paying interest or carrying a monthly balance.

I first learned about travel hacking from reading The Millionaire Educator.  It sounded interesting.  It was not until I attended a Rockstar Finance Meet-Up in New York City that I really got turned on to this practice of traveling for free.

In my post Travel Hacking: Round One, I wrote about my first experience with Travel Hacking.  The first card that my wife and I opened was the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.  We used the bonus points from this card to buy two round-trip tickets from Newark, NJ to Dublin, Ireland.

As the result of my first experience, I have decided that travel hacking will be a major part of my financial plan.  My wife and I take at least two vacations per year.  Even though I am frugal, we still have the monthly household spending to earn enough points to pay for two trips per year.

The second card that I opened was the Chase Preferred Ink Business Card.  Unlike the Chase Sapphire, the Chase Preferred Ink Business Card is a business card.  In order to qualify, having a small business like a blog or an Etsy store would qualify.  For sole proprietors who do not have a tax id, they could use their Social Security number when signing up for business credit cards.

Another benefit that the Chase Preferred Ink Business Card offers is that it does not count against the  Chase 5/24 rule that Chase has for opening new cards.  Chase only allows individuals to open 5 cards in a 24 month period from any issuing bank, you will not be approved for new Chase credit card.  That also applies for anyone who is an authorized user.  Since it is a business card, it is not counted as being part of the 5/24 rule.

The Chase Preferred Ink Business card offers a very rich benefits program.  After the cardholder spends $5,000 in 3 months, they receive 80,000 bonus points.  When you redeem those points through Chase Ultimate Rewards, 80,000 points are equal to about $1,000 towards travel.

When you open the Chase Preferred Ink Business Card, there is a $95 annual fee.  Unlike the Chase Sapphire Preferred card, that fee is not waved for the first year.  Based on the value of those 80,000 travel points, it is easy to justify the $95 for one year.

On additional spend, cardholders earn 3 points for every $1 in spending.  The 3 points for every $1 in money spent is good for up to the first $150,000 charged.  After that, cardholders earn 1 point for every $1 in spending.

My wife and I used this card for all of our monthly expenses.  We try to put all of our monthly reoccurring bills on the card.  We also use it when we go out to eat at a restaurant or fill up our car at the gas station.  It took us two months to reach the $5,000 in spend to equal the 80,000 points.

So, how did we use these points?  My wife’s birthday is in December.  She does not know it, but I booked a Western Caribbean Cruise.  While going on a cruise is exciting by itself, this cruise departs on December 23rd.  What makes that exciting is that winter is in full swing in Pennsylvania at that point, so we will even appreciate the cruise more.

I wish that I was able to report that I was able to book the cruise for free.  Unfortunately, that was not the case.  Hopefully, I will be able to share a post about taking a free cruise with you in the future.  I have not reached that level of travel hacking success yet.

What I did apply the points towards was our flight.  I have never booked a flight from Pennsylvania to Florida in December.  When I went to book this trip, I was shocked to find out how inflated the prices are this time of year.  After giving it a little bit of thought, it makes sense due to the holiday traffic and snowbirds who are flying south for winter.

The normal cost for a ticket from the Scranton International Airport to Tampa is around $300.  This flight cost $625 per person.  Our flight to Ireland was less expensive.

The total amount of points that were required to cover our two tickets were 112,000 in Chase Points.  At this point, I had 88,000 in chase points from the Chase Preferred Ink Business Card.  My wife and I also had 30,000 in points from our spending on the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card.  By combining the points from the two cards we were able to cover the airfare.

With the remainder of our points, we booked our hotel.  The cruise departs on Sunday, December 23.  We are flying down the day before.  I was surprised, but we were able to pay for one night at a 3-star hotel for only 6,000 points.  That was the only value that I have found so far on this trip.

Even though the flight was expensive, it ended up being free for us since we took advantage of our points from the Chase Preferred Ink Business Card.  Otherwise, we would have had to shell out over $1,200 for a 3-hour flight from Pennsylvania to Tampa, Florida.  It might seem expensive, but I am sure that I will be happy to be cruising the Western Caribbean instead of dealing with at best a wintery mix at home in Pennsylvania.

I am excited about the money that I will be saving on travel as the result of travel hacking.  Even though it sounds fun, be warned that travel hacking is not for everyone.  Travel hacking is only for those who are ridged and hyper-focused when it comes to managing their personal finances.

If you struggle with paying off your credit card bills every month, travel hacking is not for you.  If you do not have enough in normal monthly spend, travel hacking is not for you.  If you have to try to generate artificial spend to try to earn points, travel hacking is not for you.

Please keep your eye out for my next post in this series on travel hacking.  The next post will be about the Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Business Card.  I look forward to sharing about how I am getting free flights and to share with you about where we are planning on visiting next.

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Customer Service Saved the Sale

Very few purchases are as stressful as buying a new car.  Next to buying a house, a car is the second largest purchase that most people make.  Since it is such a large purchase, it is wise to do some research before you sign on the dotted line.

We recently decided that we were going to buy a new car.  My wife and I live in North East Pennsylvania.  While there are parts of the country that do receive more snow than we do, we start to get snow in November and this year it kept snowing until late April.  As the result of our long snow season, we find that Subaru is our best option.

The all-wheel-drive comes in handy on bad road conditions.  In the past, Subaru did not provide very good miles per gallon (MPG) for the size of their cars.  Now, with the CVT transmission, they average around 30 MPG.  In my opinion, that is good for an all-wheel-drive car.

We decided that we wanted a Subaru Outback.  The Subaru Outback matched our needs.  We like to go to our local lakes and the Outback is rated to tow up to 2,700 lbs.  That is more than enough to pull our kayak trailer.

As a member of the financial independence community, I am extremely frugal.  I don’t like spending money, but when I do, I shop for the best value.  I view salespeople as competition.  That is especially the case for big-ticket purchases like a car.

My approach to car shopping is simple.  I know the make and model of what I want before I head out to buy it.  I know how much I want to spend.  As the result of KBB, the value of my trade in is already known. 

To find a car, I just type in what I am looking for in Cars.com.  It is based on year, brand, model, budget, and I search for certified used.  The distance that I am willing to travel is 150 miles. Based on where I live, the 150-mile distance covers both New York City and Philadelphia where there are high volume dealers that offer better prices.  The last part of my search is to sort by lowest mileage on the car.

After I performed that search, the first car that came up was a 2017 Subaru Outback Premium with 4,000 miles for $24,995.  When I looked at what the average price for the same exact car, the closest that I was able to find was one for $27,500, but it had 30,000 miles.  I am willing to drive two hours to save $2,500 and to get a car with 26,000 fewer miles.

Now that I picked out the car, I reached out to the dealer.  I told them that I wanted to buy the car.  My initial call was on a Tuesday.  I made an appointment for the following Saturday.  They did inform me that they could not hold the car but would reach out to me if it was sold. 

Over the course of that week, I had communicated with the car dealer every day.  There was at least one email per day and a few phone calls.  Friday rolled around, and they sent me an email to verify my appointment.  We were all set.

When Saturday arrived, my wife and I drove down to Allentown, Pa to buy our new car.  The dealer was right off of the highway and easy to find.  I thought that it was going to be a simple process.

When we arrived, I asked for the salesperson who I was dealing with.  When he came out, he had bad news.  He told us that the car was sold that morning.  I was annoyed, and my wife was pissed.  She asked him, why did they not call us?  He apologized and said that they have other used Outback’s and would find us another car.

At this point, I had a feeling that I was not going to buy a car from this dealer.  I looked at their online inventory and they did not have any deals that were as good as what I came down for. The salesman asked if we wanted to see their used inventory and I just played along.

He showed us about 10 used Subaru Outback’s that they had in inventory.  One was $1,000 cheaper than the one we drove down for but had 43,000 miles on the odometer.  That was a no.  Most of what they had were the Limited model that was a step above what we wanted to buy.  They were nice.  The Limited had more features like leather and other fancy crap, but they were $30,000 and higher.  I saw one that I liked and asked if he could get it down to $25,000.  He did not think that he could do it.

At this point, I was already looking for a new car on my phone.  I found a very similar deal in New Jersey.  It was only 40 minutes away and I was ready to drive there.

The salesman knew that we were not interested in what he was selling.  I flat out told him that I drove 60 miles for a specific deal.  We only buy cars every 8-10 years and I am willing to travel to buy a cream-puff used car.

He asked if we were willing to sit in his office while he went and spoke to the Sales Manager.  I was not mad at them for selling the car I came down for.  It is just business.  However, I was not going to pay any more than what I budgeted for and was not willing to accept a car with more miles.

He disappeared and left us in his office.  My wife was already over the experience and thought the deal was a basic bait-and-switch.  I was programming the other Subaru Dealer into Google Maps and ready to drive to New Jersey.

About 10 minutes passed and the salesman came back.  He asked what we thought about buying a brand new 2018 model.  I thought to myself, here comes the bait and switch.  He is going to try to sell us a $30,000 plus car.

He told us that he spoke to his Sales Manager.  The best that they could do was to sell us the exact same car that we drove down for except it was brand new and cost $25,300.  It took me about 1 second to review the offer and I said, “you got a deal”.

The Sales Manager came over and told us that he wanted us to leave the dealership satisfied.  He knew that we drove over 1-hour and he felt that he had to offer us a better deal than we came in for.  He reduced the price on the brand-new car from $29,500 to $25,300.

Even though our initial opinion of this dealer felt shady, they ended up saving the sale.  I wish that I could tell you that it was the result of my negotiation skills, but it was not.  My wife and I were just willing to walk away and never come back.  The Salesman and Sales Manager both knew that.  To save the sale, they had to sharpen their pencil on a new model to close the deal. They did what they had to and it was one of the best displays of customer service that I ever experienced.

I was more than satisfied with this deal.  More importantly, my wife was satisfied.  It is her new car.

Even though they had to drastically reduce the price, they saved the sale.  As the result, they made the customer happy.  Without knowing it, they benefited by me sharing this positive experience with my friends, family, and everyone who reads this blog.

As the result of their excellent customer service, I highly recommend Ciocca Subaru in Allentown, Pennsylvania. They are about 60-miles from Philadelphia and about 90 miles from New York City.  If you live in the Mid-Atlantic Region and are looking to buy a Subaru, I would contact Ciocca Subaru.

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The House We Did Not Buy

Buying a house is a major decision.  For most people, it is the largest major financial decision that they will ever make.  There are many aspects to consider when deciding on a house.  Do you want to live in a city, the suburbs, or in a rural area?  Finding your dream house and neighborhood can be a major undertaking.

My wife and I have lived in our current house since we were married.  She bought the house from a relative before I was in her life.  It is nice house and we live close to many of her relatives.

The house did need some upgrades when I moved in.  It was built in 1964 and much of the house was outdated.  After I moved in, we remodeled the kitchen, bathroom, added a deck, as well as many other upgrades.

The house was about 1,200 square feet and we wanted a little more room.  We added a nice 320 square foot addition.  That addition is our sitting room and we spend most of our time in there.

The house is almost paid for.  We only owe about $30,000 on the mortgage.  The house was appraised for $226,000 in 2012, so we have a nice amount of equity in the house.

By staying in this house, my wife and I have avoided lifestyle creep.  Having a small mortgage and low taxes enabled us to have a high savings rate.  If we upgraded to a $500,000 house, we would not have been able to save 50% of our gross earnings over the past 10 years.

We are not planning on retiring until 2028.  After we retire, we are planning on buying a house on a lake because we enjoy kayaking, boating, and fishing.  We are planning on staying in Pennsylvania for 9 months per year.  For the winter months, we plan on becoming snowbirds and head south for the winter.

A major life event caused us to rethink our plan.  A close family member recently passed away following a four-year battle with cancer and other major health issues.  Watching him suffer made us think about living more in the present and not focusing on what our life will be like in retirement.

We decided to look at some houses that were for sale on the lakes that are close to where we currently live.  The nice thing about living in the Pocono Mountains is that there are many nice lakefront homes.  The region is also known for private gated communities that attract people from New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston who buy weekend homes in these developments.

We started by looking online.  What I found did not surprise me.  Most of the lakefront houses were very expensive.  Older houses that were lakefront cost $400,000 and needed upgrades.  The newer houses are much more expensive.

Our next move was to look for a house that was not lakefront but had lake rights.  This was a more modest priced market.  Houses that were only 5-years old were less than $350,000.  That was more in our price range because we would be putting about 60% down on the house.

We found a few that we really liked and decided to spend a Sunday looking at these houses.  The first few were nice but way too big.  We do not need or want 4,000 square feet of living space.

After looking at 5 houses we were starting to get tired.  It is fun to look at these houses, but also overwhelming.  Before we called it quits for the afternoon, I wanted to look at one last house.

The last house was a little less expensive.  It was listed at $258,000.  This house was in a private community that is only 8 miles from where we currently live.  It also comes with lake rights to a private 150-acre lake.  It is a serene lake that does not allow outboard motors.  Only sailboats, kayaks, or boats with electric motors are allowed.  It is also a catch-and-release lake that is stocked with bass, trout, catfish, and walleye.

For me, it was love at first sight.  For my wife, she really liked the house, but more legwork was needed before we decided.  We both agreed that we needed to do our due diligence and not buy a house after our first visit.

The next day, I called the realtor to set-up an appointment to tour the house.  The realtor was nice as well as transparent.  She gave me some interesting details about the house.  In 2010, the house sold for $389,000 and is now listed for $259,000.  I did not want to admit it, but that was the first red flag.

I asked why there was such a deep discount on a 10-year old house?  She said that the taxes doubled because of a county reassessment.  There is also a homeowners association (HOA) that charges $2,500 per year.  The total annual cost of the taxes and home owner’s association fees would be $8,200.  We now pay $2,700.

I was not happy about the major jump in taxes and fees.  It was, however, not a deal breaker.  I was smitten with the privately stocked lake.

The next evening, my wife and I decided to take a ride over to see our potential new house.  We were excited.  Our excitement, however, did not last.

We pulled into the driveway and got out to walk around the house.  It was not currently occupied by the owners.  We only took about two or three steps and we saw the neighbors Doberman Pincher as he came barreling towards us.  Luckily, the dog’s owner was in his yard and called the dog back.

The Doberman caused me great concern.  I am not afraid of big dogs, but my wife and I have a little dog.  His safety trumps everything.

I was happy that the neighbor was outside.  He came over and spoke with us.  He seemed like a nice guy.  He was young.  I would guess in his early 30’s.  We spoke about the house and of course what the fishing was like at the lake.  I asked him about the homeowners association.  He said they are not too bad to deal with, but he gets in trouble with them often.  He said that he gets in trouble with the homeowners association for driving his ATV and snowmobile at night.

On our drive home, I was still thinking about fishing on a private lake every evening after work.  At this point, my wife decided that she did not want to buy the house.  She did not say anything to me on our drive home because she did not want to bust my bubble.

That evening, I could not sleep.  My anxiety was out of control.  I did not fall asleep until after midnight.  The house was very nice, and I loved the lake.  Deep down, I knew that it was not a good fit.  All those red flags would not go away.  They kept running around in my mind.  I could not justify all of these issues.

As a member of the financial independence community, I do not like to pay taxes.  I love fishing but hate taxes.  Having my taxes go up almost 200% did not sit well with me.

The second source of anxiety was our dog.  We don’t have children, so our dog is our baby.  He currently has his own two-acre field to enjoy without worrying about being eaten by a Doberman.  I would never do anything to put him in an unsafe situation.

The third warning sign was the neighbor.  He did seem like a nice young man.  However, I am not willing to put up with him driving his ATV at night.

When I awoke, my wife said that she wanted to talk.  She told me that she loved me and wanted me to have a lake house.  I worked and saved for over two decades and she wanted me to be happy.  She just felt that this house was not for us.

I told her that I agreed with her.  There are many reasons why my wife and I have a happy and successful marriage.  We love each other, communicate well, and think alike.  If a situation is not right, it is wrong.  The house was not the right fit for us.

We could have afforded the house.  It might have caused our saving rate to go from over 50% to 40%.  That does not sound like a big deal, but I am more interested in saving and reaching early retirement than owning a lake house at this point in my life.

We have not since looked at any other houses.  It was too emotional of a process for me.  At this point, I think that we are going to stay in our current house until we retire.  I have said this before, once you become a saver, you will never be a spender.  As a saver, I will have to settle for fishing at our local state parks and public lakes instead of a private lake until we retire.  Life can be much worse.

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