Life Updates: Home, Body, and Family Maintenance
I'm turning 40 this year. We are 6 years into home ownership. Our house was built in the 1950s. Our roof began leaking in multiple places during the recent storms. It's looking like the best quote to replace the roof is for $18,000. I need to shore up my gums too... apparently, they get tired over time and start to sag away from their usual location against your teeth as you age. It reveals the area of the teeth below the gumline and increases the chances for cavities and tooth decay... which is the last thing I want complicating my health in my old age. I already shored up one area two years ago for $5,000 out of pocket. I am due for another surgery... presumably costing another $5,000.
Major change of plans: we are no longer on the FIRE path. Instead of retiring ourselves early, we decided to retire my mother in law. I just became my own hero. One of the things that I admired in my dad was that he had planned and saved for years anticipating the inevitable requests for financial assistance that would occur when family members needed help. He was able to be extraordinarily generous, without needing to give it a second thought, when cousins got married, when my grandpa needed surgery, when my aunt needed a place to rent near my grandma's hospital so she could take care of her, when my grandpa left an inheritance and excluded his daughters... each time my parents were able to come through for the family in a financially impactful way. I always wanted that for myself - to be well-positioned to help the people in my circle.
So we are in the beginning stages of getting quotes for building out a living space for my mother in law on our property. Interest rates being 8% right now means that money is borrowed at a high price. For every $100 we borrow, we pay $108 for it. It behooves us to lower the amount we need to borrow right now. My partner plans to borrow portions of the cost from his 401k and from our home equity. We also plan to decrease our spending in hopes of saving enough of our earned income towards this project. It's looking like we will not convert our garage into a spare room, as it would lose us a parking space and potential place to charge a future electric vehicle and not be as versatile as an ADU in the future, should we choose to rent out space.
We are in conversations about which parts of the backyard require what work to make space for an ADU. California requires every new build to have solar panels, unexpectedly adding to our costs. We are also anticipating that SDG&E plans to change their rates to discourage people going solar after this year. They are doubling the price of gas, so we may want to lean more on solar anyway if we can generate it... we are also now thinking about going off-grid, given the cost-prohibitive nature of the electricity bill charging mostly for being connected at all, and unrelated to actual usage.
The vision we are marching towards is a multi-generational family living comfortably together, with our child having much more access to Grandma. We are adding housing to our neighborhood, thus doing our own part in the midst of the homelessness crisis. We are living into our values of having our family taken care of, and that includes our child having a place to live in case he fails to launch.
I have a few colleagues who are in the prime age to retire, but they have personal goals to fill their children's trusts to a certain amount before doing so. The amounts are not bare minimum nor basic levels, where the children could survive living a modest lifestyle. The amounts are more than I am aiming for for my own early retirement! Once those kids receive the trust, they won't need to earn extra money unless they have extra wants in life. We can't all get parents like this, but what an idea and just imagine the kinds of influence these friends can have on your thinking over time. I know they are making me wealth-build for my own child. My short term goal is to remove the financial burden from whichever family he lands in if my spouse and I die before he's old enough to fend for himself.
I remember how, as a 7ish year old, my parents sat me and my younger brother down to tell us what would happen if we were orphaned. They had just set up their will and trust and they wanted us to know our rights. We would have gone to live with our aunt and uncle, and the money to raise us to adulthood would have come from our parents' trust. They told us we should remember to be grateful and not be a pain, as our aunt and uncle would be raising us as a favor to our parents. They told us the remaining money would directly become ours incrementally when we turned 18, and that we would be free to be adults and decide our own lives after that point. I came away from that conversation with a deep calm, understanding how deeply my parents had considered us... to the point even past their own deaths. It was so comforting. My brother had a different takeaway. He wanted to sleep in my room every night that week and discuss our parents' potential to die. I said it's ok if it happens, because we'll be ok. He couldn't get over the idea that our parents could DIE, as he hadn't considered that before that conversation. He was also worried about living with our aunt and uncle. I assured him I would look out for him in their stead if we ended up orphaned. "But what if YOU die?!" "I don't plan on it, but if it happens, you'll live with aunt and uncle and bide your time until your own adulthood, learning and doing what you can in preparation for that. You won't be alone - we have other family."
It's my time, it's my turn. I am ready. Our family will be all set.