Wildflowers in Missouri

Kate lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her husband Dan in a condo she bought back in 2013. She enjoys her job in marketing and Dan likes his work in manufacturing. Kate is in the process of considering the purchase of a marketing firm with her business partner, which means she’s paying extra attention to her personal finances these days.

She and Dan maintain completely separate finances as that’s the system that works best for them. In the near-ish term, the couple may move to the Pacific Northwest. In the long-term, they’d like to move to British Columbia, Canada which is where Kate grew up. We’re off to midwest to help Kate chart a path forward!

What’s a Reader Case Study?

Case Studies address financial and life dilemmas that readers of Frugalwoods send in requesting advice. Then, we (that’d be me and YOU, dear reader) read through their situation and provide advice, encouragement, insight and feedback in the comments section.

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A Not So Friendly Peacock in Hvar, Croatia

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The Goal Of Reader Case Studies

Reader Case Studies highlight a diverse range of financial situations, ages, ethnicities, locations, goals, careers, incomes, family compositions and more!

The Case Study series began in 2016 and, to date, there’ve been 87 Case Studies. I’ve featured folks with annual incomes ranging from $17k to $200k+ and net worths ranging from -$300k to $2.9M+.

I’ve featured single, married, partnered, divorced, child-filled and child-free households. I’ve featured gay, straight, queer, bisexual and polyamorous people. I’ve featured women, non-binary folks and men. I’ve featured transgender and cisgender people. I’ve had cat people and dog people. I’ve featured folks from the US, Australia, Canada, England, South Africa, Spain, Finland, Germany and France. I’ve featured people with PhDs and people with high school diplomas. I’ve featured people in their early 20’s and people in their late 60’s. I’ve featured folks who live on farms and folks who live in New York City.

Reader Case Study Guidelines

I probably don’t need to say the following because you folks are the kindest, most polite commenters on the internet, but please note that Frugalwoods is a judgement-free zone where we endeavor to help one another, not condemn.

Frankfurt, Germany

There’s no room for rudeness here. The goal is to create a supportive environment where we all acknowledge we’re human, we’re flawed, but we choose to be here together, workshopping our money and our lives with positive, proactive suggestions and ideas.

A disclaimer that I am not a trained financial professional and I encourage people not to make serious financial decisions based solely on what one person on the internet advises. 

I encourage everyone to do their own research to determine the best course of action for their finances. I am not a financial advisor and I am not your financial advisor.

With that I’ll let Kate, today’s Case Study subject, take it from here!

Kate’s Story

Skiing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Hi! I’m Kate, I’m 31, and I live with my husband Dan, who’s 38, in a condo that I own in St. Louis, Missouri. We were married in 2018 and do not plan to have kids, but we would one day love to have a pet dog. For now it’s just the two of us and a boatload of plants in various stages of decay :).

Dan works in manufacturing and I work in marketing. We both like what we do and have steadily been increasing our incomes over the past couple of years. However, we would love to earn more as we begin to feel the squeeze of inflation and the economy looks like it might be headed for a bumpy road. Dan is also in school part-time finishing up his undergrad degree. His job is unionized which affords us AMAZING healthcare benefits. This is a huge plus for us because I have a chronic immune disorder and without the union health insurance, my monthly medical costs would be through the roof.

Kate & Dan’s Hobbies

We both have a budding interest in gardening and what we lack in skill, we make up for in enthusiasm! We’ve become particularly adept at cooking with jalapeños and chives because those seem to be the only things we can grow…

Atop the Fortress in Valletta, Malta

I love reading, paddleboarding, tap dancing, painting, and rollerblading. I also serve on two non-profit boards in our area. Dan likes to play guitar, hockey, golf, and snowboard. We like going out to eat and trying new restaurants and bars whenever one pops up. We both love music and like to plan trips around going to concerts in other cities.

Our favorite thing to do together is travel. We try to do a big trip–usually across the pond if we can swing it–every year. This past spring we went to Malta for a week, which was supremely cool!! Next spring we’ll celebrate our 5 year anniversary and are hoping to do so while visiting Slovenia and Austria.

What feels most pressing right now? What brings you to submit a Case Study?

It feels like there are a lot of moving parts and I want to make sure I’m maximizing our potential for best outcomes! I have some goals that I want to work toward and I want to make sure we’re prepared if ever something catastrophic were to happen.

Most recently, in addition to my current job and side hustles, I’ve been looking for a marketing business to buy with my investor/partner. This is a big step and an even bigger risk but since Dan’s job is stable, I feel like there’s no better time to do it. I’m also looking at it as an investment vehicle with the hopes that I’ll eventually have a sizeable asset I can sell when I’m ready to retire. Since this is a huge purchase that will likely require $60-80K down and an SBA (small business administration) loan, I have been extra cognizant of what this could do to our finances.

Dan and I keep our finances almost entirely separate, and my goal in buying the business is to NOT have it impact Dan’s life. Meaning just because I’m making this huge purchase and have been scrimping like crazy, I don’t want him to feel guilty if he wants to buy a new snowboard for instance. I see this as my financial sacrifice that I’m able to make because he has a steady job and our expenses are relatively low.

Keep ‘Em Separated

Flowers from the Farmer’s Market in Paris

We keep our finances mostly separate because we have somewhat differing philosophies on personal finance. I find it prevents petty fights as long as we stay aligned on the big stuff! I am borderline draconian when it comes to cutting expenses and Dan is less fixated on being frugal, which honestly is probably the healthier way to be – I tend to get a little obsessive!

Prior to pursuing business acquisition, I’d been saving aggressively and working toward my goal of being able to retire at 50. Setting aside cash to put into a business has taken me a bit off-course but I’m hoping to make back what I’m investing and have a profitable asset that I can sell later on down the road. With the rise of automation in manufacturing, we know that Dan’s job isn’t going to be around forever so we are working on a contingency plan in case his situation changes.

Looking to the Future

Our tentative plan for the next 5 -10 years is to relocate, possibly to the Pacific Northwest. Our long-term goal (20 years or so from now) is to move to British Columbia, Canada which is where I grew up. We realize that the cost of living in St. Louis is far cheaper than both the PNW and BC and we will have to plan for costs associated with that in addition to tax/immigration implications, etc.

What’s the best part of your current lifestyle/routine?

  1. Chili Wreaths at the Farmer’s Market in Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Our life is pretty great and we feel extremely lucky that we get to do so many fun things. We are fortunate to be really close with both of our families, especially my parents who live just five minutes away.

  2. I have so much flexibility in working from home. I was a bit miserable working in an office pre-pandemic and I find that I am so much happier working from home. I love being able to pop out for a quick walk or to run an errand whenever I feel like it.
  3. We love our home and are very comfortable with what we have. Neither of us is super into material things and are a bit minimalistic–but not in the stark, cold, only-owning-one-plate-and-one-fork kind of way. I like that we don’t have a bunch of stuff tying us down as it gives us a lot of flexibility and freedom.
  4. Our condo is small by midwest standards (1 bed, 1 bath, 825 sq ft) but I love it. I can clean it in 10 minutes, it’s low maintenance, the building is great and we live in the top destination for shopping and restaurants in the city. We also have great amenities (roof deck, terrace, party rooms, gym etc.) so we save money on gym memberships and yard maintenance.

What’s the worst part of your current lifestyle/routine?

  1. A Church in Ponta Delgada, Azores

    I spend a lot of time working at my computer and I wish I had more time to be outside and do things with my hands. I enjoy making things but struggle to set aside time and prioritize those activities.

  2. Right now, with so many things on the go, I am starting to feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends. I’m trying to earn as much money as I possibly can to set myself up for success and fund the business acquisition but I don’t want to burn out. Although I enjoy all of my jobs, I’m hoping to scale things back a bit once we land on an acquisition so that I can properly focus on that.
  3. It would be great to spend less money on entertaining ourselves at restaurants and bars and more time enjoying nature. Unfortunately, the climate here can be harsh in the winter and brutally hot/humid in the summer so I would love to live somewhere that I could enjoy more time outdoors year-round. Of course I know this comes with a higher price tag 🙂
  4. Lastly, I wish I had somewhere in my home to designate as my office. Right now I primarily work at the kitchen counter but am a bit of a nomad in the condo. I’ve looked into co-working spaces but haven’t been able to justify the cost.

Where Kate & Dan Want to be in Ten Years:

  • Fishing Boats in the Old Village Marsaxlokk, Malta


    • I want to feel secure about the future so that I can retire before I turn 60.
    • I’m hoping to feel more relaxed and less guilty about spending money.
  • Lifestyle:
    • I hope to continue traveling, hopefully with more disposable income to do so and maybe even swing a business class flight if possible, haha.
    • Basically keep doing what I’ve been doing, just with some extra financial freedom.
  • Career:
    • I hope to be running a successful business that is doing good work and keeping people gainfully employed.
    • With my consulting business, I would like that to continue to stay small so I can do it on the side of whatever else I have going on. I like the opportunity that it affords me to use a different skill set than I get to use in my day-to-day work.

Kate’s Finances

Note: since Dan and I have separate finances, everything listed below represents my share.


Item Amount Notes
Kate’s Income $3,502 Agency salary minus 25% 401K contribution
Kate’s Income (from side HR business) $1,250 Average monthly distributions from HR business
Kate’s Income (from freelancing) $350 Freelance marketing work
Monthly subtotal: $5,102
Annual total: $61,224

Mortgage Details

Item Outstanding loan balance Interest Rate Loan Period and Terms Equity Purchase price and year
Condo Mortgage:

My parents gave me $23k for the downpayment so they own 25% of the condo. I bought it pre-Dan, so I own the other 75%. However, he is entitled to his 37.5% should something ever happen.

$32,372 4.25% 30-year fixed-rate mortgage $37,003 $90,000 in 2013


Item Outstanding loan balance Interest Rate Loan Period/Payoff Terms/Your monthly required payment
HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) $50,000 1.49% until November 1 when promotional period ends, after that it goes up to 7.99% Monthly interest charge is $63


Item Amount Notes Interest/type of securities held/Stock ticker Name of bank/brokerage Expense Ratio
Savings Account $78,049 This is where I keep my savings. I’ve been hesitant to move this money in case I need to pull it out to cover my share of the business purchase Earns 1.75% interest Capital One
Old 401k $68,926 Old 401K 60% VTSAX, 20% VTIAX, 10% VSIAX, 10% VIMAX Fidelity 0.15%
Roth IRA $26,451 I max out the contribution every year T ROWE PRICE CAP APPRECIATION Fidelity 0.68%
Kate’s share of a joint Taxable Investment Account $16,447 The account has double the amount referenced but half belongs to Dan T ROWE PRICE CAP APPRECIATION Fidelity 0.68%
Stock Account $8,069 These are individual stocks that I’ve picked. I opened the account right after graduating from college and this is sort of my “play” money for the stock market. My rule is I don’t put any new money in there, I just re-invest my dividends. Charles Schwab 0.05%.
SEP IRA $6,807 I have not contributed to my SEP IRA since 2015 when I was fully self-employed. VT – VANGUARD TOT WORLD STK I Merrrill Lynch 0.11%
Current 401k $6,609 Current 401K Ta Vanguard Target Ret 2055 Ret Acct Transamerica 0.15%
Checking Account $6,000 This is where my pay check gets deposited Bank of America
HR Business Checking Account $3,300 The account has double the amount referenced but half belongs to my partner. Mercury Bank
Savings Account $2,200 Savings account, doesn’t really serve a purpose and could probably be consolidated Bank of America
My half of our Joint Checking Account $1,905 The account has double the amount referenced but half belongs to Dan Bank of America
Art Account $1,500 I own a minuscule share of a Basquiat and a Kusama Masterworks
Total: $226,263


Vehicle Estimated Worth Mileage Paid Off?
2016 BMW 228i 27,000 30,000 Yes


Dan and I split all household-related expenses, such as HOA fees, mortgage payments, groceries, etc. All the expenses below are my half. Every month we each move a set amount from our individual checking accounts over to the joint account to cover those expenses.

Item Amount Notes
HOA Fees $670.00 Covers water, heat/AC, internet, basic maintenance and security
Travel $600.00 This is a biggie but it’s our favorite thing to spend money on. 2-3 international trips, 6-7 domestic per year.
Restaurants & bars $470.00 This is another biggie but it’s our main source of entertainment and socializing and we truly enjoy going out to eat. While we do go out a LOT, we try to be frugal about it so I’ll usually order a salad and a glass of wine vs. an entree and a bottle. I also try to take advantage of happy hours whenever I can.
Mortgage $341.28
Groceries $200.00 Includes food, alcohol, and vitamins
Property Tax

Car Insurance



Personal Care $100.00 Highlighting my hair and the occasional massage when I feel I’ve earned a treat
Entertainment $60.00 Concerts, symphony, hockey games, charity events, magazines
Gas $50.00
Gifts $50.00 Averaged out over the course of the year. We don’t buy a lot of gifts, if we do they are mostly experience related. We also draw names at Christmas to keep costs down.
Medical $40.00 Average cost for insulin and quarterly doctor visits. Premiums are covered by Dan’s union.
Subscriptions $40.00 Dan pays for a couple of services, I pay for a couple. Spotify, Netflix.
Electric bill $40.00 All other utilities and internet are covered by our HOA
Transportation $40.00 Ubers and rental cars
Clothes $30.00 I don’t buy a lot and I’m a big clearance shopper. I also give something away anytime I buy something new.
Condo Insurance $25.00
Misc. shopping $25.00 Trinkets n’ gadgets
Cell phone $20.00  I’m on my mom’s cell phone plan so I pay her a lump sum once a year
Fitness $20.00 Average of classes I drop in on or equipment I buy (roller blades, tennis racquet etc.)
Charitable Donations $15.00 PBS, art museum and a couple of local charities
Hobbies $15.00 Gardening! Plants on plants on plants!
Coffee shops $12.00 I don’t even like coffee but I do several meetings each month in a coffee shop nearby
Household items $10.00 We don’t spend a lot here. I try to opt for re-usable options whenever I can so I save on paper towel, plastic wrap, tin foil etc.
Cloud storage $5.00 So. many. photos.
Dental $0.00 Covered 100% under Dan’s plan
Vision $0.00 Covered 100% under Dan’s plan
Monthly subtotal: $3,155.28
Annual total: $37,863.36

Credit Card Strategy

Card Name Rewards Type? Bank/card company
Kate & Dan’s Chase Freedom Unlimited (R) (we only use this to book travel) Cash Back/Travel Chase Bank
Kate’s Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card Cash Back Capital One

Note: the credit card links are affiliate.

Kate’s Questions For You:

Getting directions from some friendly cows on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores

1) How should I finance the business acquisition?

  • I don’t know when the purchase will occur so I’ve been living in limbo keeping money in my Capital One savings account that’s accruing 1.75% interest.
  • Will likely require $60-80K down and an SBA (small business administration) loan:
    • This will be split with my partner so I’ve ball-parked $35K for my share and my name would be on the loan.
  • I also borrowed $50,000 from my HELOC because I was offered a promotional rate of 1.49% interest until November. My thought was to keep that money in the Capital One savings account so that the interest I’m earning offsets the cost of holding that money (in case I need to use it to buy the business).
  • In the meantime, I’ve been saving up as much as I possibly can and spending as little as I can without totally losing my quality of life!

2) Are there better ways to invest our money (for example I-bonds)?

3) What steps can we take now to enable ourselves to move to the PNW in 5 – 10 years and eventually to Canada in 15-20 years?

Liz Frugalwoods’ Recommendations

Fisherman’s Wharf in Victoria, British Columbia

I’m excited to have Kate as our Case Study today because I haven’t had many Studies of couples with separate finances. I so appreciate that she shared her story with us! Separate finances work very well for some couples and Kate and Dan are a wonderful example of that.

I think there’s an assumption that, once you’re married, your money is automatically shared, but it doesn’t have to work that way. Plenty of folks in longterm partnerships/marriages find that keeping their finances separate works best for them. There’s no one right way to manage your money and I’m delighted to highlight a different technique this month.

Kate’s Question #1: How should I finance the business acquisition?

–>Kate’s approach of keeping the money in a savings account: Makes sense to me!

Since Kate doesn’t know exactly when the business purchase will take place (or the precise cost), it makes sense to keep this money in an easily accessible savings account. In general, you don’t want to restrict money you’re going to need in the near future in something like taxable investments or retirement accounts. If you think you’re going to need the money, keep the money where you can access it without penalty.

I commend Kate for having a high-interest savings account! That’s one of the easiest ways to leverage your money. I will note, however, that there are other accounts with even higher interest rates, such as the American Express Personal Savings account, which–as of this writing–earns 2.25% in interest (affiliate link).

–>Kate’s plan to apply for an an SBA Loan: Makes sense to me!

Watching the Minnesota Wild

The Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan Program is great! It’s basically the business equivalent of an FHA loan guarantee for buying a home. With an SBA loan, the government is essentially taking on the risk for people to buy a business that’s too risky for a bank to lend on.

In exchange for this great deal, the government has some rules:

  1. SBA loans have a personal guarantee, which means if you default on one, the lender can come after you personally and your assets. If you are married, this means both people. Even though Kate and Dan’s assets are separate in their books, the government will come after Dan too because the government views a married couple as one financial unit. Yes, even if you file your taxes separately.
  2. SBA loans come with a lien on your home, which means if you default, the bank can take your house in order to pay the loan.
  3. The SBA requires that any entity that owns 20% or more of the business also have a personal guarantee. Thus, Kate’s business partner will also have to include a personal guarantee on the loan. In other words, 19% is the maximum threshold for an ownership stake without a personal guarantee.

It’s also best to use a lender who specializes in SBA loans and does a lot of them. Every bank will say “sure, we do SBA loans” but there’s a huge difference between a loan officer who does 100 of these a year versus 1 a year. The SBA publishes a list of the top originators of SBA loans, which is public data, so check out that list and select a bank that does a ton of these every year because it’s a very paperwork-intensive process.

–>Kate’s HELOC: Makes sense to me!

Fancy Feast in Chicago

Since an SBA loan puts your house on the line anyway, the HELOC (home equity line of credit) is sort of like being in for a penny, in for a pound. I will note that the more debt you have on a business, the harder it’ll be to make your payments. The wisdom of using debt on your primary residence to purchase a business depends heavily on how easily the business will be able to service the debt. In other words, it depends on how much cash flow the business throws off.

Since Kate didn’t ask us to do a valuation of the business, we can’t consider those actual numbers today. But, Kate should do her due diligence to ensure the viability of the company before purchasing it.

Summary: everything Kate’s doing to prepare for this purchase makes sense to me. The key will be for her to keep an eye on the debt she has on the business versus its projected revenue.

Kate’s Question #2: Are there better ways to invest our money (for example I-bonds)?

Not really because since Kate’s planning to buy a business in the near term, she’ll want to keep her money as liquid as possible. Tying up her cash at this point really doesn’t make sense as she intends to deploy it soon. Once the business is purchased (and debts are repaid), she can consider investing any leftover money.

Let’s take a look at where her money is right now:

1) Retirement: $108,793

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Between her 401ks and IRAs, Kate has $108,793 in retirement investments. Fidelity’s retirement rule of thumb says:

  • Aim to save at least 1x your salary by 30, 3x by 40, 6x by 50, 8x by 60, and 10x by 67.

Since Kate’s 31, she should have 1x her salary, which is $61,224. According to this metric, Kate’s doing great! Way to go and keep on keeping on with these contributions!

In terms of where this money is invested, Kate has a very smart mix of total market low-fee index funds for her old 401k, SEP IRA and current 401k–well done! On the other hand, her Roth IRA’s expense ratio could stand to be lower, so I encourage her to investigate the other lower-fee offerings her brokerage (Fidelity) has.

2) Cash: $91,454

Kate is correct that, as an emergency fund, this is way too big. Since she only spends $3,045.28 per month, she technically only needs $9,135.84 (3 months’ worth of her spending) to $18,271.68 (6 months’ worth of her spending) in cash. However, in light of the impending business acquisition, it makes total sense to keep this much money liquid. Once the business is purchased, she’s paid back debt, and she has a good sense of her income and outflow from the business, she can consider funneling any leftover cash into her taxable investment account.

In terms of where this money is kept, Kate could definitely stand to move her cash to a higher-interest rate savings account. No reason to have money in a low (or no) interest-bearing account. As I mentioned above, the American Express Personal Savings account, is currently offering 2.25% (affiliate link).

3) Other Investments: $26,016

Blue Caves in Croatia

It’s always exciting to see folks who are invested in the market beyond just their retirement accounts and I commend Kate for accomplishing the prerequisites to opening a taxable investment account:

  • No high-interest debt
  • Fully funded emergency fund
  • Fully funded retirement investments

In terms of where this money is invested, Kate probably already knows what I’m going to say.

  1. The expense ratio on the joint taxable investment account is too high.
    • Fidelity has a lot of other lower-fee total market index funds to choose from. I encourage her to explore these options. There’s just no reason to pay high fees.
  2. I’m not a fan of picking individual stocks because it limits your diversity and exposes you to a lot more risk because, if one company tanks, that stock is toast.
    • However, Kate has enough money to play around with and, if she enjoys picking stocks, it’s not coming at the detriment of her overall financial pictures.
  3. The art investment also seems suspect since we can’t know when/if those works will appreciate.
    • However, as noted above, Kate has enough money to play around with and if this is something she wants to invest in, I am not going to stop her.

Kate’s Question #3: What steps can we take now to enable ourselves to move to the PNW in 5 – 10 years and eventually to Canada in 15-20 years?

The Habour in Valletta, Malta

Honestly, you’re already doing it! When planning for a super long-term goal, the best thing you can do is follow the basics:

  • Spend way less than you earn
  • Invest your leftover money
  • Keep yourself on track for retirement
  • Avoid high-interest rate debt
  • Maintain/increase your income
  • Research your future plan extensively so that when the time comes, you’ll be able to make informed financial decisions

Having a routinized system of financial management is something Kate and Dan very clearly already have. And once you have a system in place, it’s just a question of doing it over and over again until you hit your goal–either the dollar amount or the calendar year. That’s about it! Kate and Dan are doing great!


  1. Continue to keep your cash liquid so that you’re prepared for the business purchase.
  2. Once the purchase is complete and you’re settled into revenue and expenses–and the HELOC is paid back–consider investing any leftover cash.
  3. Ensure that you and your business partner are informed about all aspects of the SBA loan program, including the personal guarantee requirements.
  4. Consider moving your cash to a higher-interest savings account.
  5. Keep on the path you’ve established with your retirement investments.
  6. Explore moving away from your high-fee investments in favor of lower-fee total market index funds.
  7. Re-evaluate the individual stock and art investments to consider if they match your risk tolerance/overall goals.
  8. Continue to iterate on the excellent system of financial management you’ve established.

Ok Frugalwoods nation, what advice do you have for Kate? We’ll both reply to comments, so please feel free to ask questions!

Would you like your own Case Study to appear here on Frugalwoods? Apply to be an on-the-blog Case Study subject here. Hire me for a private financial consultation here. Schedule an hourlong call with me here, refer a friend to me here, or email me with questions (liz@frugalwoods.com).

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  1. I feel like there is some cognitive dissonance here. “I’m super frugal and scrimping” usually doesn’t come with high dollar amounts on entertainment, going out, subscriptions, etc. (Not that these things are bad! Our line items look extremely similar to yours! In fact, together, my husband and I spend around $6,200 per month in our child free household so it seems like we match really well as this is your half.)

    The thing that threw me the most was, I think, such a small loan for the condo especially as compared to your salary. I personally would have paid off all loans on the condo had I been in this situation. That would free up a decent enough amount of cash flow for you that it would help offset cost of living and also reduce your and Dan’s monthly costs.

    I also wouldn’t be committing to own a business if my goal was to move to another area and start a new life. I don’t know that I’d be wanting to move twice, either. I’d likely focus on moving to Canada ASAP if that was where I truly wanted to be, which would make me question why I want to own an American business at all. Moving would mean saving, of course, which would go even faster with the paid off pad and the extra cash to invest.

    Feeling somewhat useless here… is Canada a long term goal or a pipe dream? Can you take the business with you?

    1. The more I’ve thought about this, the more I feel like the cognitive dissonance is there and probably causing stress without you realizing it.

      Looking at the worst parts first…
      1. I spend a lot of time working at my computer and I wish I had more time to be outside and do things with my hands. —> Life is about what you prioritize. It’s nice to work toward goals, but the present is just as important, and looking at your past shows you how you got here. Do an evaluation of where you are spending every minute of your day. What’s it spent on? If it’s not bringing you joy, cut it. What do you want more of? Prioritize it. Are you scrolling your phone all day? Put an application timer/lock. Are you spending a lot of time on TV, movies, etc. that could go toward gardening or crafting or spending time with friends and family? Switch it. Also – you can include family and friends in your meals out, or invite them over and cook for them. Bonus! I am also at a desk all day at home, and my gym class time keeps me sane because – doing physical things! Totally get it!
      2. Right now, with so many things on the go, I am starting to feel like I’m burning the candle at both ends. —> that does NOT change when you OWN a business – it gets worse, by a factor of 100. Starting a business is a sprint that turns into a marathon, with you the only one on call (anyone who says otherwise got lucky). Be VERY careful and have the correct expectations going into this, because you have NO ONE to bail you out if the business fails. I’d be a lot more focused on freelance work and consulting work that I enjoyed, that you can add or subtract are needed, since you said you enjoyed your job but just want to bring in more income. If everything is too much, it’s okay to just let go, as well. Life is about more than money or career climbing. (Unless those are actually your things, in which case, cool.) I have five different side hustles I wander into and out of at will.
      3. It would be great to spend less money on entertaining ourselves at restaurants and bars and more time enjoying nature. —> As someone who is NOT a nature person, I don’t agree. Looking at your photos, I am assuming you shared your favorites and most memorable, and every one of them seems to be taken within a city/townscape. Are you actually a nature person, or does it just seem like a romantic ideal of who you want to be or think you should be? I live in Florida because I love the sun and the warm and the beach, and I still spend lots of time in restaurants and bars, even though I’m perfectly happy outside 90% of the year (and we enjoy inside and outside restaurants and beach bars to the tune of $600ish a month). The 10% (Jan and Feb), I’m in sweaters and wishing for warm, but nothing in life is perfect. That all being said, skip the bars and restaurants and find new hobbies if that’s really what you want to do. Cities have gyms, parks, museums, and all sorts of other spaces you can enjoy once you put your mind to finding them. Also, frequenting the same spaces allows you to make connections which can lead to more friends. If you love a specific place, consider volunteering there, too – like a docent in a museum.
      4. Lastly, I wish I had somewhere in my home to designate as my office. Right now I primarily work at the kitchen counter but am a bit of a nomad in the condo. I’ve looked into co-working spaces but haven’t been able to justify the cost. —> You should absolutely have a designated workspace. Look at wall-mounted folding laptop desks, hutch desks, floating desks, any of which could be set up against a wall in the living room and hidden away when not in use. And don’t feel guilty about spending money on a new smaller couch to make it happen or whatever you have to do, because a really comfortable dedicated workspace is really great for mental health and sanity, and it allows a division of “this is where I work” and allows you to better “leave work at work” when working from home. You can afford it.

      And this brings us to…. your best things!
      1. Our life is pretty great and we feel extremely lucky that we get to do so many fun things. We are fortunate to be really close with both of our families, especially my parents who live just five minutes away. —> so why move away, since this is your number one best thing? A reevaluation of your life and priorities will be key to figuring out what you really want, and it’s okay for situations to change, and it’s okay to change your mind a dozen times, too. Like “hey, we are getting older, my parents are getting older, I want to stay close to them.” You will have to pull back on all the “so many fun things” if your cost of living goes up, too.
      2. I have so much flexibility in working from home. I was a bit miserable working in an office pre-pandemic and I find that I am so much happier working from home. I love being able to pop out for a quick walk or to run an errand whenever I feel like it. —> What specifically made you feel miserable? The work itself, the people, the environment, or the dedicated 9-5? I agree, I love the flexibility I have now, but I also love not being forced to find private space for confidential phone calls, not driving to a building, not feeling obligated to lunch with coworkers I’m not keen on, and overall being in control of everything that’s in my space. But that means I need to make extra effort to spend time with friends and family, and to ensure that my socialization doesn’t all fall to my husband. I go to OrangeTheory and Crossfit 5 days per week, and I have weekly girls’ nights at my house. I was making progress with family time when my parents moved down, but the hurricane cleanup has my parents too busy right now 🙁 but we will get back to our monthly date nights with them soon enough, I hope. If you’re looking for a coworking space, SOMETHING is missing. Figure out what it is, and add it in (even if it is just a dedicated workspace)! If it is actually a coworking space, go along guilt free 🙂
      3. We love our home and are very comfortable with what we have. –> us too!
      4. Our condo is small by midwest standards (1 bed, 1 bath, 825 sq ft) but I love it. –> We also love our space, but it is not small. We have a cleaner. It keeps the household sanity. I bet your situation makes traveling REALLY easy for you. Lock up and go! Add a second trip each year but find ways to make them cheaper. And all that being said, if you do feel like you want more space, don’t be afraid to find it, either. A second room for hobbies and work might really increase your quality of life, in which case, it would be worth it.

      So you love all these things, but want to make a lot of big changes, and therein lies the cognitive dissonance. Nothing on this list to me says “buy a business and move to another country.” Is it simply that you feel too settled and too restless? That you need something new to shake things up? If so, career changes obviously do that, as does taking on more consulting work. You might also consider a new hobby – which could mean adding a new friend group depending on what it is, which could be a whole slew of fun new people to add to your life and even some to possibly travel with and ALL OF THE THINGS. I’ve found an extreme amount of satisfaction adding in gym time every day, I founded a nonprofit during the pandemic, I am part of multiple book clubs, and I make a monthly effort to reach out to my oldest friends and this year was able to travel to one of them and spend over a week with them, just the two of us and her new baby for the most part.

      Something that Mrs. Frugalwoods can’t speak to – she has children, and they take over, and they are constantly shaking things up, even when it seems like nothing else is changing. They make it “easier” to carry on carrying on because you’re too focused on raising a human to have time for other things. They’re like built in entertainment that fills up life. Parents automatically clump together, a built-in friend group that often only has “having a child” in common. Childfree adults have to find other ways to shake things up and keep things interesting, but the world is our oyster and there are no limits. It sounds more than anything like you’re in a slump and just need something to pull you out of it.

      Wishing you the best of luck, however you decide to craft your best life!! 🙂

      1. Wow! Excellent analysis here… I got to the end of this case study and was kind of like, “Huh…” It felt like something was missing and I was really surprised that the advise was “Keep on, keeping on.” I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. There seems to be a misalignment between what the OP thinks they want/immediate term goals and their overall values. This is something these case studies usually do a good job of digging into, but in this case it went unmentioned so I’m glad you dug in.

      2. This! You have gone so much further than I did in my mind. 100 percent agree more thinking is needed. This post almost feels like Kate is at a cross roads.

        What I see is an incredible women who is slowly building her own business, why would you then spend money on buying someone else’s business? This doesn’t make sense to me… I would suggest using the savings you have built up to get rid of your mortgages and put money aside for future you and get the dog now, perhaps that is what is missing 😀!

        All the very best Kate for what you decide.

      3. I agree, there are a lot of contradictions here that need sitting with. No bad choices probably but – if you do X you possibly cannot do Y. And moving countries, even within North America, is a big deal, if that’s the ultimate aim then why have anything in the middle? Or stay in the PNW and just visit.
        I’m struggling to understand how they’d afford PNW house prices without taking out a substantially higher mortgage. Perhaps that’s the plan? But it will definitely eat into expenses, and it wouldn’t be a bad idea to also save up to offset the jump in costs.

      4. I agree. My first reaction was wondering why you would buy a business in an area that you plan to leave in 5+ years. Did you investigate opportunities in Vancouver?

        And though eating out and other luxuries are wonderful, it begs the question….do you need to do so quite so much?

        My husband and I have kept our finances separated throughout our marriage, and never have had an issue there. I am delighted to see you maintaining that, esp. with the risk you are about to incur. I don’t know the laws in your state, though, so one question is simply, if the business fails, as a married couple, is there any risk to your husband’s finances? An uncomfortable question, but I do hope you have researched this. When I started my own consulting business, I did need to take certain steps, despite our separate finances, to insure that he wasn’t at risk.

      5. Thank you so much for this beautiful, thoughtful comment/analysis! It actually helped me to look at my life through different lenses too ;))

      6. I agree with everything that you’ve written here, especially the “parents nearby, move twice to get to Canada” parts. What??? If you want your own business, why not go to Canada and get it started there? The Pacific Northwest bit is peculiar. If Canada is your retirement goal (being blunt), is that because you anticipate that your parents will have died by then? If so, how does the Pacific Northwest help, while they age? What about Dan’s parents – where do they fit in?

  2. We kept our finances separate for many years, but I eventually realized we were missing out on potential growth and making some mistakes by doing it that way. You can still keep things separate, but here are some suggestions from my experience:
    1. Make sure you have access to each other’s accounts in the event of an emergency. We saw this happen to a family member who became incompetent suddenly. No one else had access to their accounts while they were living so it made a really tough situation even worse. People tend to plan what will happen with their finances when they die but far fewer people plan for this in between phase. A person who is mentally incompetent can still live for a very long time.
    2. Look at the big picture of your joint finances. We both had separate retirement accounts. I never asked my husband about his. When I started looking at our finances as a whole, I learned he had 100% of his retirement account in bonds. Mine was in a target date fund that included bonds so we had WAAAY too many bonds between the two of us, especially for our young ages. He still keeps his in 100% bonds (he’s very risk averse), but I have moved mine to 100% stocks. We would have missed out on a lot of stock market growth over the last few years if I hadn’t discovered this and changed my investment allocations. Another example – we had both saved up a good chunk of money, with plans to put a down payment on a larger home. I also had student loans. I realized there was enough money between the two of us to pay off my loans AND still have a down payment. He let me borrow some of his money to pay off the loans, but if I hadn’t looked at the big picture to see we had enough money to do both, we would have continued wasting a lot of money on student loan interest. (Eventually for us, keeping track of whose money was whose and who owed who what became pointless and too much of a hassle. We mixed everything together and streamlined our accounts).
    Good luck!

  3. I’m old, my wife and and I have been married 54 years. It is beyond my comprehension how a marriage works without the idea that everything – income, goals, debts, assets, home, etc. is not OURS.

    When I read about a married person and they use I and mine, especially related to finances and goals,, it amazes me. The only assets of any kind my wife have in our own names are IRAs which is required by law. Our purchases are in sync, we don’t ask permission, but we know our prudent limits. It’s not two people trying to understand the other or sharing mine and yours, it’s one married couple always focused on the common good so to speak.

    I sure would like to better understand todays philosophy which I read about often.

    1. Also old and I don’t understand the mindset of separate finances either. It’s a partnership, when one falls on hard times are you not going to support them anyway? These two seem to have such a commonality of goals that to merge assets will get them there faster. Not judging just genuinely curious as to the reasoning. Money is a personal integral part of moving through the world together. I have young relatives that keep their finances separate and it always seems so cold to me when there is a note pinned to their kitchen cork board “you owe me such n such for the mortgage” I was raised in a different time and I guess I’ve emotionalized money too much? I realize that’s not what this column is about so I understand if you don’t publish this but I would be interested to hear more about the whys of separate money.

      1. Typically it seems to work best when the couple are in similar places financially but one is more of a saver and one is more of a spender. If things are totally joint, Saver can feel like “Why are you wasting OUR money on makeup/video games/fixing up old cars/fountain pens/fancy kitchen gadgets/fancy coffee/fancy clothes/whatever other thing that doesn’t matter to me when we could be saving it!”, and either try to talk Spender out of their spending or let silent resentment brew. Whereas if things are separate, Saver can more easily detach themself, because hey, it’s Spender’s money, so if Spender spends some of it on things that make them happy, fair enough. (And on Spender’s side, they don’t feel guilty about spending money Saver earned on things that only matter to Spender.)

        1. Ding ding ding. This is how my partner and I handle things. We have joint checking, savings, and brokerage accounts but still retain our own personal checking/savings accounts from before we got together. We’ve each set things up with our respective payroll departments so that we automatically contribute the same amount to our joint checking/savings accounts each pay period, then whatever is left (after 401k deductions, etc.) goes into our personal accounts. I am faaaaar more of a saver than my partner, so this helps ensure we meet all our financial goals as a couple without me having to stress about my partner’s approach to saving/spending. We don’t nickel and dime one another when it comes to our joint money, because that’s not worth stressing about.

          It has nothing to do with us not being committed or not being willing to support one another in the ways that really matter. I’m in grad school now, and we’re paying for it out of our joint account even though it’s a hefty expense that’s just for “me” at this point.

          We value our independence as humans separate from our relationship and know that this approach works best for us as individuals and as a couple.

          1. I don’t understand the acceptability of having to construct a payroll saving structure to have one partner not stress over the others saving and spending. To me that should be built into the relationship.

          2. That totally makes sense to me. I mean we do now that we’re older have a small cache of our own money for the odd splurge (which as I say it please know I understand the tremendous privilege that reeks of) and I DO know that women need to protect themselves. Growing up my mom always said have a job/profession you can fall back on if need be. But if one person is a better saver then aren’t they essentially doing all the saving for the common goal?

        2. Then they are not working as a team, as one. The spender is irresponsible and immature in this case – detached as you say and that is my point or rather my point of not understanding.

        3. Bee, you are spot on- this is EXACTLY why we keep things separate 🙂 I am definitely more concerned with how much things cost and whether we really need them, while Dan is a little more impulsive. We tried sharing accounts early on but I found the resentment brewing when I would see expenses that felt like they were unnecessary or could have easily been avoided (I’m looking at you late fees)!

    2. See, this idea that two married people become one, and there is no longer “yours” or “mine” but “ours”—it’s kind of a legal fiction. Or a faith-based belief. But in reality, no matter how long I’ve been married, I will always be a separate person from my spouse. And as separate individuals, we have separate interests, priorities, and preferences. Even two people who have very similar financial values will have some differences. So my investment and spending decisions are not the same as my husband’s.

      One way to deal with this is to negotiate and come to a mutual agreement about what to do with joint accounts. But it’s a lot simpler just to keep the accounts separate, avoid the negotiation, and each make our own decisions. We have one joint account for a few joint expenses (mortgage, utilities, car, groceries) and all the discretionary spending and saving is individual. There’s really no downside (as long as you have good estate planning in the event of death or disability, as someone else mentioned).

      And all that is true even if you never get divorced. Prenup + separate accounts will also put you in a better place in the event of divorce. And of course, we can’t necessarily predict divorce in advance—plenty of people wind up divorced and kicking themselves that they didn’t plan for it before/during marriage.

      1. We are talking finances here. Not two individuals becoming one. I think investment and spending decisions must be on a common collective basis. So, in theory what happens if one is the prudent investor saver and the other saves not a penny, even spends to debt? When it comes to retire, what happens? Should one partner absorb the debts of the other? The way I see it, the person who is perhaps reckless with money is showing lack of respect for their partner and their marriage.

        1. This is what I was trying to say, Richard, in my second comment above, you phrased it much more succinctly. We ARE retired and this is sometimes an issue! It has nothing to do with a loss of individuality but when one person wants something extraneous and the myriad of emotions around how it affects the distribution frequency and amount. And then, when you are old throw in the uncertainty of health and how much longer will this person really be able to enjoy this better do it now and go without later when it doesn’t matter as much (i.e. your world starts shrinking) This is a tangent now, I’ll stop! 😂

        2. Richard this is very much my parents’ case. They were married 40+ years before my father passed away. You’re correct, one pulled more weight and made sure retirement was squared away etc, but I think that one decided everything else was good enough to stay married and separate finances facilitated that.

          Not that this is what is going on in this case study necessarily. Just saying that sometimes that may be true and you still decide to stay in the relationship for other reasons.

    3. I’ve personally known women trapped in poor quality marriages due to not having separate bank accounts. One of them had a husband who spent all his money and then hers as well while racking up credit card debt, and since she divorced him last year, she is now debt free other than her house and built up an emergency fund, while he squandered away his $40k payout from their house and is racking up debt again. Yes, there are other problems in these relationships, of course, but not ones that they had their eyes open to before marriage. Yes, it’s a kind of safety net, but I’d rather have a safety net than only be with my partner because I can’t figure out how to not be. We are at almost 5 years or marriage, and it took some trial and error, but separate finances work well for us.

      1. This is something my newly minted fiance and I are currently analyzing. I have a bit of concern/baggage in this area for two reasons: 1) I make twice as much as he does and most likely always will, and 2) I was married before and divorced, so I’m a little gun-shy about the risks of a marriage breaking up. Not that I think this one will, of course, but I do think it’s important for everyone to be financially independent from their spouse. I want to integrate our money as much as possible, but I also want the security of having some of my own money be mine. Can I ask how you decided the ways you would separate your finances?

    4. 54 years of marriage-please be mindful that in 1968, your wife could have not a bank account in her own name, a car loan in her own name, a mortgage in her own name. She was forced to have joint finances. My parents have been married 52 years and have joint finances but also have their own fun money accounts. My mother in 1970 had a salary double her student husband and wasn’t allowed a credit card in her own name. We don’t know if this is Kate’s case but many younger generations have inherited trauma around not having their own money or access to money.

        1. I’m not sure where you live, Richard, but in the US, the Equal Credit Opportunity Law only passed in 1974.

          Heck, even in 2018, a newly married colleague was told she had to get spousal consent on her 401(k).

      1. As a young woman, my mom had to have her dad on her apartment lease, and then once she was married, she had to have her husband’s name on her credit card. Her own mother stayed in an unhealthy relationship due to the inability to support herself and her children on her own. I’m thankful for how far we have come.

    5. Get what you are saying Richard. But things can work differently particularly when you already come to a relationship with considerable assets like Kate has. We have joint shared finances but separate individual ones. We spend and invest quite differently. So when hubby loses a ton on the share market I don’t worry as its his money!

      1. Can’t see how it isn’t half your money. You don’t count on both your and his money for your future, like retirement? It wouldn’t hurt if he lost his entire 401k as an example?

    6. Beautifully put, Richard. My former husband insisted on 50/50 split on joint costs (mortgage, utilities etc.) but earned, in the early part of our marriage, 50% more than me – ten years older and further on in his career. It caused huge arguments when I said “I can’t do xxx because I can’t afford it.” I realised that it was pure selfishness when my earnings outpaced his, because the “very junior lawyer” (me) became the “senior, very well-paid lawyer” and suddenly, he wanted “to commit to properly sharing, because we’re a team”. Divorce thankfully followed but I would never commit to marriage again (assuming no children involved from earlier relationships), without full disclosure and full sharing.

    7. When we bought a house together we started a joint account for the mortgage and household expenses. Over time we’ve married and had a child. We pay the same proportion of our salary to meet our joint expenditure, so currently he pays about 55% of our monthly contributions to the account and I pay 45%. We started off 50:50, then his salary outpaced mine due to the sector, so decided it was fairer to pay the same proportion of our salary. I should be promoted in the next few months and will be paying slightly more than he will. The rest of our money we have separate to do with what we want.

      My elderly mother has no control over or really any access to the household finances beyond the cash my father gives her, there’s no way I’d want that for myself. We both have good pensions and decent savings and investments, but just prefer to manage these separately.
      We’re both on roughly the same page financially with fairly frugal tendencies or I wouldn’t have married him. We know where each other’s money is and how it’s invested, we have slightly different approaches to risk, and I feel the psychological need for a large cash emergency fund, he was happy to stooze on credit cards and invest the proceeds. If anything changed like long term sickness or our work pension fund exploded, of course we’d support each other.
      But in the absence of that happening I have control over how I spend my money day to day and he over his, and that suits us just fine. I don’t need to know how much money he wastes on niche things for his hobbies and he doesn’t need to know how much money I waste on mine! (One person’s waste is another’s perfectly justifiable/aligned with their goals spending)

  4. As a married person who also keeps finances mostly separate, I loved seeing this example of another couple relatively close in age doing the same thing. To me, there are two big reasons to keep finances separate, and the first is exactly what Kate mentioned above– different money philosophies! Obviously it’s important to be on the same page about big picture things, but if I want to buy shoes and my husband wants to buy baseball jerseys, it’s nice to not have to nitpick about those things. We do share a lot of things, and as the higher earner I cover a lot of his expenses, so I certainly feel like we have a joint approach even if things are physically separate. I am also the more financially savvy of the two of us and like to be able to personally manage things. Granted, this is all very dependent on the fact that both of us are willing to put forward our fair share of whatever the cost may be, but I think that would be the case in a joint finances situation as well.

    The other reason for separate finances that I would call out is simply having a personal safety net, especially as a woman. Every person wants to believe that their marriage or relationship is forever, but that’s not always the case. Having been in a traumatic relationship in the past, being able to leave was only possible for me because I was financially independent, and even then, I lost a lot of money in the process. Maybe that makes me cynical, but even people you think you know really well can have really unexpected reactions in angry and tense times, and I will always be grateful for the foresight to look out for myself.

    1. I do agree that is important to make sure that in an emergency or (God forbid) a death that everything is appropriately set up either as joint access, POA, and/or with beneficiaries. I’ve see family members go through the nightmare that can happen when that is not the case. Overall though sounds like Kate is in a great position to explore her future options and has considered a lot of the variables.

      Agree that for some keeping finances works for some and I was very excited to see a case study with this also. My husband of 10 years and I have separate accounts with the exception of a joint savings that we use for major purchases like a car, new roof, etc. I think for us it works well since we were older when we got married and had both been adults on our own for 10 years prior to forming a household and just very used to handling the specifics differently. We’ve agreed on who takes care of which bills and who saves for which goals. For us, this was particularly important in that my husband is a freelancer and has very irregular income.

      We did make some of our accounts joint accounts so we can easily pass money back and forth and we’ve linked our separate accounts on each other’s Mint accounts, so we can see everything that’s going on. I think the issues tend to arise when people start hiding and lying about money, which can happen regardless of if they are combined or separate.

    2. Great point. Survey data shows that the #1 reason women give for not leaving an abusive relationship is that they believe they could not pay their bills without their partner. Every person should have at least one bank account and one credit card in their own name that no one else has access to.

  5. 3rd generation Vancouverite here. There are VAST differences between the Canadian west coast and the USA Midwest so you can’t do enough research. The COL for one (the price of real estate is among the highest in NA) and socialized medicine for another (it’s not all free and the trade off is LONG waits). Also, I’m not sure but operating a US based business remotely could be tricky! Just a few caveats – congrats for doing v well so far –

    1. I echo this. As someone who has lived in BC for more than a decade (after living in the Midwest US), I still have sticker shock. Some of the Frugalwoods reader’s monthly food budgets make me want to cry with jealousy! 😉 I love it here and understand the impulse (my family is here too), but feel the need to caution that the equity in your condo, even when totally paid off, may not even be enough for a down payment in many parts of BC.
      Also, you mention that your parents are 5 minutes away and that you like this about your life right now. That’s a big thing! We’ve just come off of 3 years of worrying and helping my elderly in-laws on the East coast, and it’s been both hard and expensive.
      All this to build up the possibility of considering a later long-term visit situation to BC (or anywhere PNW) when you’re older and closer to having more flexibility. Maybe instead of a full-on move you might consider planning regular 4-month visits/stays? Or something along that line of thinking? I say this with mad respect for the financial progress you’ve made at your young age, because I know how much it will serve you later. So just a note of caution about driving towards such a dramatic move… quadrupling your cost of living would mean a lot of sacrifices, now and later.

  6. I guess I’m much more risk averse than you and Mrs Frugalwoods, but I wouldn’t take out any loan that put my home on the line for a chance to invest in a business/own a business. Especially, Kate, as you write that you want to separate your finances and risk associated with the business from your spouse–this doesn’t make sense if the very home you live in is on the line.

  7. In a few days the interest rate will go to 8%????? I understand taking advantage of the promotional rate, but without an imminent business purchase and bank interest much lower than 8%, I’m struggling to understand why having that 50k debt is a good idea. Mrs. Frugalwoods didn’t recommend cutting expenses, which also seemed unusual. I’m confused about how to buy a company and buy in the PNW where home prices are many hundreds of thousands more than MO with finances the way they are. But maybe I missed something?

    1. I agree about questioning the debt with a rate that will be rising to 8%, especially while keeping other costs high. As a small business owner myself, I can speak to the stress that accompanies the uncertainty of running a business. It made a world of a psychological difference having zero debt and a significant cushion built up as I started. If buying the business requires an investment of $60-$80K, you’d be depleting your savings, carrying a very sizeable debt, and will likely be investing your all of your time, and thus, reducing your freelancing/consulting income. This seems like a precarious position to be in to start a business.

      1. She said there was a promotional rate on it. We did the same thing…we have $75k from our HELOC sitting, waiting for our next move, and it’s locked in at the 1.75% for 5 years. If we use it buy a property, sweet, if not, we’ll just pay it off at the end of 5 years.

  8. My wife and I have been married 9 years and spent the first year with separate finances. I am the frugal one and my wife and she did not appreciate the all the expense tracking and wanted to have some discretionary spending to be separate. As such, she opened a bank account and money gets moved over that she has total control of no questions asked. She is going back to work full time so we are in a time of transition as we plan to have her full paycheck go into her account and we will work on transferring money to our joint account to offset household expenses. I believe the more finances are combined are the better in order to fully take advantage of managing the whole situation. But having some separate funds has also worked at least in our case by giving each a worry free way of managing funds.

  9. As a person who is/has taken care of both of my divorced parents affairs as they transitioned to assisted living and beyond, during my 50s & 60s – I wonder about the plan to move far away from their parents , when parents might need more help in 10-20 years. Something to think about and also plan for.

  10. My partner and I also leave our finances separate! We would have broken up otherwise.

    Let me know if you want recommendations for Slovenia: we have gone there for the last 13 years for our big vacation). If you want, get my email from Mrs. Frugalwoods!

  11. Just a few thoughts.
    If Kate is just looking for an occasional spot to work at outside of the home, many libraries offer suitable environments. Often, there’s a limit to the consecutive hours you can use a private room, but if she’s not on calls much on a given day, that’s a free option.
    Dinners and all that – if there’s a common friend group, considering rotating through the homes. Who cares if the condo is tiny. It’s about the community. Cooking and drinking at home is fun and usually much cheaper than going out, but you also get the social aspect.
    Not sure on this, but with those SBA items mentioned… would putting the condo in a trust, for example, get around that?

  12. What a great idea to look towards the future. I have worked Internationally for many years, but love coming home to KY. I live near my family and friends and the cost of living is low. I have thought about moving, but the costs out weigh the benis. You have great airport connections in SL and extremely low cost of living for the US. I would suggest you choose to continue to live there and enjoy that you can save so much money to travel. Also think about if both of your jobs will allow you to move and continue the cost of a higher priced life. Maybe you just need a larger condo. Travel may have to be cut back if you move to the two areas you mentioned and more thrips may have to be back to SL. I wish you only the best in your business decisions, travels, and home life.

  13. After 35 years of marriage my husband and I still keep our finances somewhat separate. It works for us and it seems like it works for you, so please don’t let the negative comments by some people make you question your arrangement. I would suggest you spend some time thinking about what you really want in life. If you buy a business, you likely will not be able to move (especially to a HCOL area), won’t be able to retire early, and won’t be able to travel as much.. As someone who has watched family members that own small businesses work long hours and not get much time off, I would seriously think about what is more important to you – owning a business or doing all the other things (moving, travel, outdoor activities, etc.). Owning a business will require a lot of trade offs that you might not be happy with in the end.

    Loved your travel pictures. Thanks for sharing the pictures and your financial adventures.

    1. YES – Personal finance is personal. 33 year first marriage here and have always kept our money separate. Both have accounting degrees, both want to look after our own investments and one a bit more frugal than the other. This doesn’t mean we aren’t on the same team. Big decisions are still made together.

      If I had to sit by and watch my husband time the market with joint funds, I would lose it. So he jumps in and out and I let it ride. I end out coming ahead.

      So please ignore the negativity – you do YOU!

  14. Thanks so much for sharing. One thing stood out to me: I wonder if you like spending time outdoors as much as you think you do. A year ago I moved to Victoria, BC from Ontario to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and I am so glad I did. There weren’t as many interesting places to do outdoor activities in Ontario and most of the year was too hot and buggy or too cold. BUT, while in Ontario, I did still do outdoors things and that’s how I knew I liked them. I went hiking, canoeing, and camping even when it was buggy, hot, or cold. And I planned all my vacations around awesome hikes, not cities or concerts. I just thought it might be worth mentioning. Congratulations on getting yourself into a position where you have so many options!

  15. As a female business owner, you might qualify for grants. You should look for the Women and Minority Owned Business groups in your city, county, and state governments.

  16. Hi Kate,

    Thank you for sharing your very impressive story!

    Home location
    As someone who lives in (and loves) Seattle, I still suggest focusing on moving to BC since that’s your and Dan’s ultimate destination. After all, it’s easy to visit Seattle, Oregon, etc. from BC

    – Since you sound community-minded, you may want to look into cooperative housing which could be an option for a home where you could age in place with strong community connections. Langley BC new/in development co-housing => https://www.compasscohousing.com/start-here/ and established co-housing on Whidbey Island, WA => https://fifthstreetcommons.com/
    – “Exploring Alternatives” channel by a Canadian couple who feature a wide range of living options.
    – Also, I enjoyed “Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community Around a Pot of Soup” by Maggie Stuckey

    – You mentioned wanting a dog. Do you have a timeline in mind?
    – I volunteer with the dogs at a local no-kill shelter and *love* my weekly dose of dogs.
    – In the past, I fostered dogs and loved helping them relax, gain confidence, and find a loving new home. I’ve read that fostering improves a pet’s chances of adoption by 80%. Even if the number isn’t that high, fostering clearly makes a big difference (e.g., more relaxed, exhibits more positive traits and better able to connect with prospective families). This could be good way to explore which types of dogs work best for you and Dan.

    A question I’m wondering about for you is, if you didn’t need to buy a business, would you buy it? Perhaps you’d prefer to adopt that dog, move to BC and savor a lifetime of connection and adventures with Dan.
    – When I need to get clear about my core needs/callings, I try to take a 1-3 day quiet retreat. I’m not saying you need to do this inquiry, just sharing the following info in case you find it to be of use.
    – It’s possible to do a retreat at home, but even better if you can leave the familiar and distractions.
    – I try to stay someplace where I can easily go for walks, stay offline and off the phone. This helps me to slow down, take time be quiet, go on extended walks, slowly eat a meal, savor a cup of tea, (my friend recommends long baths), notice the surroundings.
    – Also, I meditate/reflect/journal/collage about, for example, when I’ve felt most alive, what I’m most proud of so far, what I’d do if I had one year to live, (or if my parents had one year to live, or a best friend), etc.
    – Helpful questions for me include: “If I didn’t have to earn money, what would a day in my life look like?” and being specific with my answer, mapping the day out from beginning to end. I’ve asked this question about a year in my life as well. Another focusing question is, “What is/are my unique gift(s) to the world?” I ask this to remind myself that, just because I *can* do something, doesn’t mean that’s what I should be doing or that it’s my gift/need/joy/calling.

    I’m excited about your journey and hope we’ll get to hear your follow-up. 🙂

    Best wishes!

  17. The home ownership sounds complicated with your parents owning 25% of your condo I would pay them back/buy them out so they no longer own the home and then decide with your husband what percent each of you owns (post nup/will).
    Having separate or joint accounts is an individual choice, however we are missing the big picture without the other person’s money in the case study. Is there money for either spouse to carry the total household budget should there be no income due to accident, cancer, surgery or unemployment?
    I don’t know this field to know the pros and cons of buying an existing business vs. starting your own. Are there grants or loans in this field or a particular geographic area for women entrepreneurs to begin their own business?

  18. Glad to see a fellow St. Louisan here! And you’re right that the weather can be difficult, but hey, do you really want the constant rain in B.C.? Ha. The parks, forests, etc. near us are actually very good and not as crowded as so many places.
    The downside to having a low cost of living is that your home probably won’t grow in value as much as the coasts, meaning it will be more difficult to get equity for a move. But you’re doing great. Good luck.
    As for the separate money accounts… Many couples do many different things. I’d just want to make sure you two share information openly.

  19. Just wondering why the partner is not buying the parent’s share of the condo (and a portion of her’s) to give them equal shares. Less messy if they split, equal share of the mortgage would get it paid off quicker, equal share of maintenance etc costs. I’m in NZ perhaps there are rules in US I do not understand. I understand keeping things separate but with the other elephant in the room – her health care needs – how come she is relying on his job to cover this. If she intends to move forward autonomously, surely taking care of own health needs is part of that. Fantastic they are benefiting from his plan but it seems perhaps she needs a similar unionised job or make other arrangements. Savings could get gobbled up quickly.

    1. My husband and I keep separate accounts, and we have two children. We equally put a certain amount of money into the household checking account and the kids’ expenses checking account each month. We’ve used this system for four years now, and it has worked well for us.

  20. This doesn’t seem to add up, I can’t see how spending average $600 a month ($7,200 a year) can come close to paying for 2-3 international trips, 6-7 domestic per year for two people. My wife and I just took a 23 day road trip around the US and it cost over $8,000.

        1. My thoughts: if you’re traveling internationally you’re likely flying, so credit card hacking and using points for travel. If they are also flying into cities domestically there’s no rental car or fuel costs, just food, lodging (credit card points), and experiences. If you shop sales that’s quite reasonable. I found a roundtrip ticket to a major city from my major city for under $100 yesterday. I love roadtripping but it never seems to save me as much as I think it should, your mileage may vary!

    1. I went to the London Olympics and stayed about 2 weeks for ~$2,500 including tickets to events, which is one of the most expensive City’s at one of its most expensive times. Traveling cheap can be done. Just takes some creativity and research. I would say most of my husband and my domestic trips the past few years have been in the $500-$800 range and I feel like we were splurging a bit. Helps when you don’t have kids and can go off season.

  21. I agree with most of what has already been written. There is confusion. You love where you live, but want to move. You love your jobs, but want a new one (business.) You want financial security but have a loan, that could literally cause you to lose the roof over your head. You wanted to retire at age 50, then age 60. You want to travel, but if you own a business, work could be 365 days a year with no day off. I’m not against separate finances, but some things have to be joint, in my opinion. Why are your parents still on the condo and not your spouse? My best advice to you is pay off every single loan you have, even if that depletes your large savings. Eat at home a little more often. Do NOT under any circumstances buy a business. Work less and find a way to destress with some physical activity or one of the many hobbies you listed. I truly wish you well. Best of luck.

  22. I do want to raise something Kate may want to consider about buying the business. Similar
    to Liz’s note that SBA loans could implicate your partner if you default, in many states, married partners’ assets are considered “community property,” and if Kate and Dan were to divorce, he might be entitled to half the business. Kate does not mention whether she and Dan have a prenup that might address this. If you do go through with purchasing this business, I strongly suggest working with a qualified attorney to protect yourself. It is not pleasant to contemplate divorce, but if Dan is not the one scrimping and saving to buy this business, he should not be entitled to the assets in a divorce.

  23. It’s great to read a case study about separate finances. A major part of my divorce was due to years of chronic fighting over differing money approaches. It’s still possible to be cooperative partners with common goals with separate money. It’s also wonderful to hear this story since many people who are married are miserable but just stay together because they don’t think they can make it financially apart. How great to constantly choose your partner for who they are and not just because you have no better options.

    1. Very sad indeed. If it’s possible to be cooperative with common goals with separate money, why does it seem harder with everything being “ours.”

  24. I’m disappointed by the rigid, judgmental thinking in so many of the comments. How wonderful that you found a money management system that works for your relationship! 20 years is plenty of time to live in two different places!

  25. I appreciate that we are seeing a case study about separate finances! After about ten years of struggle, my husband and I separated our finances four years ago; it saved our marriage. We no longer fight about anything, essentially. We both equally put money into the household and kids’ expense accounts each month, and any bigger purchases (down payment for house, travel, etc.) we split evenly. This helped him become more responsible with his money, and it helped me be able to have a proper savings, which rests my mind. I wish we had separated finances sooner. We are the only ones of our friends who have this setup, and I also fully respect those who choose to keep their finances together.
    If I were you, Kate, I’d be a little concerned about taking on the HELOC at the higher percent starting in November plus the SBA loan interest that will come once you take that on. Being a new business owner in itself is risky since it would replace your current income, and you would also be risking your current savings plus adding a significant amount of debt to the equation. Adding all of this debt on top of that sounds stressful. Is there a way to pay cash for the business acquisition between you and your partner, rather than taking on more debt?
    I’m impressed with your assets at your age; I would imagine that you haven’t had a lot of debt since you’ve been able to build your assets. And you clearly spend significantly less than what you make, so if I were you, I would be piling away as much cash as possible in order to take on as little debt as possible to make the business purchase.
    Your life sounds lovely, and the pictures of your travels are beautiful!

  26. I am 65 and hubby 68, we have always kept finances separate- married 40 plus years, have 1 daughter, granddaughter and son in law. We live in a 1200 square foot house- paid for, put daughter thru college, paid for wedding usual things. I am still working by choice and hubby is retired . Thru communication and negotiation team work can be accomplished. After all marriage really is a business agreement with emotions and alot of other factors all rolled into one

  27. as an owner of several small “mom and pop” size businesses over the decades i want to give a different perspective on entrepreneurship. while many struggle working long hours and no vacations to “barely make a profit” this is not always the case. if fact, setting your own hours and smart strategy very often yields a much better work/life balance. my wife and i have owned both of our businesses and we pick up and drop off the kids at school for the duration of our parenting lives. we take lots of vacations and contribute to our communities in ways we are proud of. i hear the meme of business owners complaining about businesses “owning” you and work “never being done.” these same business owners likely struggled with the same boundary issues while employed. does mrs. frugalwoods strugle with work life balance? sure seems like a cake and eat it too scenario through (hyper?) vigiliant planning and diligence. i am not writing this to pat myself on the back but to simply say owning a business can play to your benefit just as easily. i would also strongly challenge the thinking that buying an existing business for $100,000’s of is the only way to do it. what are you buying exactly? clients, employees, office furniture, business infrastructure? there is so much “blue sky” and potentially emotional security in something that is established vs building it for you by you. you will much likely get what you want if you build it for yourself especially if it is a service oriented business with few employees and infrastructure. you will possibly spend your 30’s simply paying off business debt. you are in an amazing position and clearly have many great habits. i would challenge you to spend $20,000 on consultants and work on building your own business over next 5 years rather than paying off SBA loans for the next 10. you clearly know how to side hustle. you did not buy a business to do that. just expand that mindset slowly. best of luck. you will have success either way. double income no kids and being somewhat frugal? how can you fail? you will just arrive at it quicker and on your own terms.

  28. It always amazes me how much people give to charity versus spending on themselves
    Guess they need more than this hurting world
    So saf

  29. Very interesting case study, and Kate is doing great! You didn’t list your credit card strategy in the notes, but if you aren’t already “travel hacking”, this seems like a natural fit for you, particularly given that your highest expenses are restaurants and travel. Mrs Frugalwoods has some info, but I’d also recommend the Frequent Miler blog for someone interested in points and miles. In addition to personal credit cards, you’d also have the option to get a credit card for your side hustle business, which expands your options. Of course, it bears repeating that one should only get credit cards if you can pay them off in full each month — but I suspect you are already doing that.

  30. Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. If I had to summarize it in one short sentence, I think the meme is “working hard, focusing on long-term goals”. My question is why saving your joy for later? If you want to move to Canada, find a way to do it right now. Spend a month every year working remotely from Canada, play, explore and have fun! I wouldn’t add a transition point on the way to Canada, because moving, buying, and selling houses is expensive.

  31. I live in a 650 sq ft, one bedroom condo and both my partner and I have room for our own desks, his in the living room and mine in the bedroom. If designating someplace in your home as an office space is a priority for you, spend some time thinking about how to achieve this in your current home. This should be achievable in a couple of weeks! You have 175 more square feet than I do and you don’t have a dedicated desk?

    Does your condo have a den area or large hallway or extra closet that you could turn into a workspace? Have you looked at smaller sized desks? I have an adjustable height standing desk by the brand “Fully” that is only 36×24 inches, plus a monitor arm holding up a 27 inch monitor. I would go bigger if I had a laptop also that needed desk space but I don’t. I also have a stool on wheels that tucks under my desk that I find more comfortable than any office type chair I’ve tried. You may have to get rid of or change out some other furniture to make it happen but 825 sq ft is plenty of space for at least one dedicated desk.

    Can you put the desk by a window? You want to spend more time outside. You have a lot of plants. Surround your desk with plants to bring the outside in to the space you spend the most time in.

    Ask your work if they will reimburse you for home office equipment. You could save a thousand or so by getting reimbursed.

    Since your field is marketing, I’m confused about why you would pay to acquire another business? I understand why you might need to take out a small business loan for a year or two while you get off the ground. But marketing is a professional service field that doesn’t require a lot of capital to get started. Have you considered building up your own clientele and working as an independent consultant? I would consider using the $78k you have saved to get you through the first two years of your own business instead of buying another business.

    I also just want to throw in a vote for team separate finances as I’m in the same boat. My partner and I have been together 12 years and we keep accounts separate but we look at the overall picture together about once a month, are transparent with each other about our accounts, communicate about separate and shared goals, and contribute in a way that we both feel is equitable to shared household expenses.

  32. I don’t understand – the HELOC interest rate goes up to almost 8% next month! Seems like paying that off ASAP should trump everything…

  33. I have no problem with separate finances, but in case they don’t already have this in place, please be sure each has access to the other’s bank accounts, bill due dates, amounts, etc. A friend of mine always had her finances separate from her husband’s, and it worked great for them, until a drunk coming off an all-nighter ran over her husband on his bike. He was in a coma for days and in intensive care for over a month. My friend was going nuts, when she was already struggling with the near-loss of her husband, trying to figure out how and what she needed to do, while without access to his accounts.

  34. Question about relocating — what would happen to your healthcare costs? You listed healthcare benefits as a major item but it was not mentioned in the evaluation.

  35. Mrs FW, you say that this is a judgement-free zone. Some of these comments about shared vs separate finances (not all!) are getting pretty far from being “positive, proactive suggestions and ideas,” which is your commenting guideline. I usually really appreciate reading the insights of readers here, and am disappointed today to see these comments be allowed. Multiple comments are judging and condemning people and their relationships, rather than focusing on useful advice or encouragement.

    1. Well-said, Jess. Many of the above comments are turning me off the FW community. Time to start moderating, perhaps?

      Kate, I’d strongly recommend looking at Ramit Sethi and his guilt-free spending philosophy. That is what you need right now — not judgmental cheapskates who think this is the 1970s.

  36. I’d be curious to understand how people separate finances if someone doesn’t make any money (raising children or a homemaker) or has very disparate incomes. If a person doesn’t make any money but does other things to support the family, does this mean they don’t have a say in how the money is spent? Or if both partners work and they are relatively equal salaries, what happens if a partner becomes disabled? Does that mean that the working partner makes the disabled partner go through all their savings to pay for “their part” until they run out and then have no say in the finances?

    1. Separate finances doesn’t mean a 50/50 split into perpetuity.
      — My husband and I do a 58/42 split based on our pre-tax incomes that we adjust if needed.
      — In a past relationship when my boyfriend moved into my house, he was working as a grad student and just paid me about $250 a month to cover the increase in my bills (just rent to live somewhere else would have been $800 per month, so this was extremely fair for him).
      — My ex’s mother (who stayed at home) was extremely spendy, so her husband would send $400 a week to her personal account to cover groceries and miscellaneous things she wanted to buy and just paid for everything else himself (including more groceries), and she only had a debit card. She spent every last penny every single week. Even if it was a dollar left, she’d buy a candy bar. But he loved her very much, and they made it work.

      The couple agrees to what they feel is fair and comfortable, and as things change, they practice empathy and open communication. Also, situations change all the time. Generally, if one member of the couple is a stay-at-home parent, the working parent puts more money into the joint account to cover expenses or just starts covering more of the expenses from their accounts. It should come as no surprise that children are the most common catalyst for switching from separate finances (with or without a joint account) to just dumping it all in a joint account.

      The situation you describe (where one of the partners has no say) is not separate finances — that situation is financial abuse and control, which is why you should always have a bank account with some money tucked aside that your partner cannot access, so that you could get out of the situation if needed, as financial abuse often trickles into other sorts of abuse and isolation.

    2. This is always my remaining question. It’s NOT judgmental, everyone can do whatever. But here is the crux, one person is a saver and for their peace of mind saves away the other person not so much. Up comes a situation where the non saver hits a situation they can’t pay for, healhwise, auto wise or new couch even. Are you the saver not going to bail the person you supposedly love out? Then what’s the point of keeping it separate when if push comes to shove there goes all the money you’ve saved. I don’t see most of the comments people aren’t liking as being judgmental I see the people calling them out as feeling superiorly autonomous

      1. Bringing up potential scenarios like this is constructive and totally fine. The comments I don’t like are saying things like “the spender is immature and irresponsible” (which is harsh, given that they could be spending at totally reasonable levels), and commenting on the “acceptability” of the arrangement.

  37. This study is a great example of a couple making things work for them and their finances are in great shape. I’m not sure why there’s so much discussion about the joint finances since that’s not something they’re looking to change! I do agree with the comments about determining what they truly want because a lot of them are conflicting. My gut feeling was that they love their lives as is and might just need a few small tweaks to improve them. Living in a lcol area near family with the time to travel and do hobbies sounds great! A lot of that would change from moving to a higher cost of living area, building a new community, and having the time demands of owning a business. I think even the spending on entertainment and dining is fine if that’s what they’re enjoying! There might just be a few small tweaks like adding in a few outdoors focused trips if that is what you want to do more of, getting the dog, finding a coworking space, maybe taking an annual trip to BC in the same area to have a little piece of home there, or determining which aspects of work you like best and focusing on those. I think it can be exciting to dream up a totally new life but you might not realize all of the things you love that you would have to give up from the way things are. Then if you aren’t saving everything for later you can focus on smaller, immediate changes and start living your ideal life sooner.

  38. My husband and I married later – he was 42. So we created a joint account and also kept our separate accounts. We communicate a lot, and have a joint budget that Ms. Frugalwoods would probably groan at – our joint credit card should average $3,000 per month over a year! No tracking of where the money goes, just paying attention to the gross. It works well for us. When we moved into a new house and hadn’t sold the old one, we agreed to rein in our spending. Again, no tracking, just mutual agreement.

    However having a spender and a saver can lead to trouble if divorce shows up. My friend figured who cares if she spends all her money and I invest all mine? Then they got divorced. No prenup so she got half his savings. Oops. He’s bitter about that.

    Also, as a small business owner, I wish we had learned more about why the case study wants to buy a business instead of create it on her own. There could be good reasons. Yet I’ve known many people who think that owning a business is the same thing as making money. I’ve lost money owning a business (I did well with another one), and people I know have lost 10 times as much as I have per business. I favor growing a business instead of buying one – that’s why my losses were so low comparatively. I would be curious – have you owned a business? why do you want to? what assumptions do you have? how would you deal if the business goes under? Personal guarantees are scary! Please, please make sure you know what you are buying, who you are buying it with (partners go south for so many reasons), and make a plan to shut down a failing business instead of throwing more money after bad (another reason my losses were limited – I bailed when I realized the business was spending more money per month than it was bringing in with no reason to see that situation changing while my partner bought me out and went bankrupt).

    And I agree, I’m confused about why this case study wants to move. We are told reasons to stay, but no strong reasons to go? I sense a lack of a clear goal. Which explains, to me, why so much spending compared to saving. Why sacrifice now when the payoff is unclear? Which isn’t saying that moving isn’t a valid choice, and it may be a deep seated desire. But it’s hard to provide useful advice when my first impulse is to say, stop, and tell me more. How can I help you achieve a goal that seems so nebulous? Why move to Canada? Have either of you lived there? What advantages would it have that would counteract being so far from your parents? Do you have siblings? Where do they live? Ditto for your husband? Friends? If your main joy is traveling, good for you! Live somewhere cheap so you can afford to go abroad.

    Re: Nature. So many case studies profile people who love the country and hiking and being outside. And I go, hmm. I donate to Nature Conservancy, and meanwhile I stay in cities. So I second the observation that cities seem more attractive to you.

    My main advice is to clarify what you want, why you want it, and if you want it together (okay with separate finances, but unclear about husband’s life goals which is much more of a potential problem than sharing all finances)

  39. I see that you have a business partner and experience in marketing and HR. I question why you want to buy a business rather than build your own. In a professional services business it is common to purchase into an established business (become partners in an active business). Taking over a business where the product is intellectual and relationship based without original partners; not as much of the value is going to be in the business as you think. The original owner is going to see their hard work, client relationships and goodwill and likely over value what CAN be sold in order to fund their retirement. I would caution you on taking on a fair amount of debt to do this in business that does not have any sellable assets or collateral of its own. It may feel like you’re jumping into an established business but it may not be- particularly if you don’t have an extended period of transition and continuity (I’m talking years not months – depending on your client cycle).
    Build your business the slow way from scratch or by creating a business relationship that makes sense to transition over time.
    It’s not the HELOC or personal guarantee that worry me- it’s what is the genuinely transferable value of what you are buying.

  40. Just a few ideas FWIW..
    -Definitely agree that there are lower cost options from Fidelity. For example, we own FNILX, which is just an SP500 index fund that has 0 fees and 0 expense ratio for Fidelity customers. Can’t really get better than that!
    -Another option for the cash and emergency funds to get higher rates while still providing some liquidity is creating treasury ladders. Buying 4 week Tbills at greater than 4% and perhaps other longer durations with staggered maturities would allow periodic access to funds as needed. Often, the whole sum needed for a purchase isn’t needed right from the start, and as those funds unlock they can be used to fund a large purchase. The treasuries are also viewed as risk-free for the most part, so most interested parties view them as cash equivalent from a risk perspective.
    -One last personal note. Most people would say that the emergency fund is too large. I want to make a small counter argument to that from recent, personal history. We live on a small island in south west Florida. Hurricane Ian came through and, besides our vehicles and about a bag of clothes each, took everything we owned, including the house. We, at 45 and 53, are starting over again. Now, I will say that the positive is that it kind of forced us to “minimalize” and purge a few things that really didnt add value to our lives, and gave us the space to reevaluate what is important, but overall it was a devastating loss. With her pension, the cash position we had (some cash, some treasuries) really was about 10 years worth of living expenses. Well above the typical emergency fund guidelines and certainly not mathematically optimized from an expectancy perspective. However, as a statistician/CI professional, I have a deep understanding of statistics, probabilities, and “tail events.” If anyone has ever read “Black Swan” by Taleb, they will understand. Never underestimate the power (both financial and emotional well being) of cash-at-hand. “Cash is trash” until it isn’t, believe me! I certainly am grateful that large cash position has allowed us to find a new place quickly, negotiate a great price below ask, and we will be moving into our new home in a month.
    Best of luck to you on the ventures!

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