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Starting on that hedonic treadmill?

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  • Starting on that hedonic treadmill?

    I've posted a few times about my family but to quickly recap: We just moved to Japan for the military. My wife is an Air Force Flight Surgeon. We have a 13 month old and 2 dogs.

    We've been here 1 month now and I have estimated that we have spent $850 so far on snowboarding. We also felt we needed to both have vehicles and so each bought a car with cash. The total was $5k. We also would like to make our new house feel like home since we will be here for 3 years, so that means a little furniture and home decor. We've also eaten out a lot and basically threw our normal monthly budget out the window.

    Now I understand that moving to an entirely new country is going to come with some unique financial ramifications for a little while, but hopefully it doesn't continue this way because our credit card bill literally made me queasy to look at, although maybe that's just all the sashimi and ramen

    I made this post to serve two purposes. 1: A reminder for myself not to get too caught up in living in a new place and to make sure to use our new income (went from $60k as a gen surg PGY2 to $85k as a flight doc) to mostly boost our Roth TSP and Roth IRAs. Keep that lifestyle creep down! 2: A warning for others who get a raise or move to a new place to watch out for that darn treadmill. It comes along silently and if you aren't careful can sweep you off your feet.

  • #2


    although maybe that’s just all the sashimi and ramen
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    Enjoy some for me, please! Don't forget to have some fun along the way. And good luck with the little ones at home!

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    • #3
      The food was a great surprise. The ramen here is on an entirely different level. It's certainly not the $0.10 ramen I used to eat in college!

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      • #4
        How long will this last?  Is there a private physician salary in your future?  Are you also a resident physician?

        Without getting an itemized list of all the home decor, none of that seems too bad.  Owning and operating two cars in Japan might be expensive, but it might be easier being military.

        If I was living in Japan I'd probably spend more money too.   

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        • #5
          enjoy. spend the money on the things that make you happy. none of those items sound like killers. its the house, cars on credit, and unpaid CC bills that will do you in.

           

          we went to japan a few years back. one of the few places i would go back without any argument!

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          • #6
            I'm sure it would be very hard not to go overboard living in Japan. Of course you do want to make sure you take advantage of the amazing opportunity of living abroad. If I were in your shoes I would go cheap on stuff (e.g. second hand furniture and basic decor) and spend on experiences.

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            • #7


              How long will this last?  Is there a private physician salary in your future?  Are you also a resident physician?
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              We will be here at least 36 months, with a possible 12 month extension. We're still very early on in my wife's military career and both still young (both 28), so it's still a coin flip as to whether or not she will continue to practice in the military or get out into the civilian world. I'm an industrial engineer, or so my diploma says but I've been a stay at home dad for the past 13 months. Now that we are in Japan I've applied for some government jobs and awaiting a reply.


              we went to japan a few years back. one of the few places i would go back without any argument!
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              So far it's been fantastic! We've spent most of our time with the other doc/nurse/dentist families, and everyone has been very friendly and enjoy doing the same outdoor activities that we do. Now we just have to make sure to make some off base friends as well to make the most of living abroad!

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              • #8
                I think the spending can be blamed on being in a new, different, and exciting environment.  You're spending money to experience all these new things, almost like you would while on vacation.  Add to that the fact that you may view this as an extended multi-year vacation of sorts, and choose to live it up while you can, which I wouldn't disagree with, and I also wouldn't necessarily consider it problematic or getting on the hedonic treadmill.

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                • #9
                  I know you probably posted with hopes of getting some support in getting off your current "hedonic treadmill", but I think you'll find the opposite here.  Many of the posters in this forum are older than you and further into their careers, and looking back would probably love to have an experience as you as describing.

                  As Peds said, its really the big issues, too much house, cars on credit, any amount of credit card debt, that will get you in the end.  In my opinion you got super lucky and are deployed in a fantastic location, and you should take advantage of all the ramen, sushi, and other experiences that you can afford.  You won't find this stuff anywhere else.

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                  • #10
                    Try to max out the TSP and the IRAs every year.  Other than that, enjoy the diving if you're down in Kadena, Tokyo if you're up in Yokota, the skiing up near Misawa, and plenty of Space Available travel on long weekends and holidays no matter where you are!

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                    • #11
                      Oh, if you're putting in for GS jobs on base, make sure you get on the wait list for the child development center ASAP if you haven't done so already.

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                      • #12


                        I know you probably posted with hopes of getting some support in getting off your current “hedonic treadmill”, but I think you’ll find the opposite here.
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                        It was mostly just a cautionary post for myself. I had a great time doing all the snowboarding, soaking at onsens, and trying out new food. However, doing it all the time isn't a habit I want to continue, as spending that extra $1,000 a month instead of investing it could leave a big hole in our nest egg in 30 years. Or maybe not. That's one of the things that bugs me about being so young in our career/life. We don't know how our lives will play out, so I want the best balance of saving and having fun


                        its really the big issues, too much house, cars on credit, any amount of credit card debt, that will get you in the end.
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                        Thankfully we haven't screwed up too bad in this area yet. Have only ever rented places that were easily within our budget, paid off our CC entirely at the end of every month, and only financed too much car once and that's probably subjective as it wasn't anything ridiculously overboard (took out a 16k loan for a 2009 Murano we purchased in '14). I will also freely admit to being a total worrywart over our finances, as I think there's a lot of room to invest more than we currently do while still getting to take advantage of all the things Japan has to offer us.


                        Try to max out the TSP and the IRAs every year.
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                        I max out my spousal Roth IRA, and we're putting slightly more than that into my wife's TSP right now. This is definitely a sticking point between the boss and I. With the extra income from her new job, I think we could get much closer to maxing out the TSP, but that would definitely require more sacrifice than she's willing to give right now. At the moment, we're still contributing exactly what we were before the move, so at least beefing up those contributions a bit is definitely something I'm wanting to do soon. We also just switched over to the new blended retirement system. Yay for TSP match! Now if I can just get a positive response from one of my job applications, then that would give us more tax advantaged retirement space and the extra income to help fill it up!


                        Oh, if you’re putting in for GS jobs on base, make sure you get on the wait list for the child development center ASAP if you haven’t done so already.
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                        We got super lucky with this. We put our daughter down on the wait list about 4-5 months ago, and we got an email during our second week here letting us know they had an open spot for her. She just started last week, so of course we are all sick now

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                        • #13
                          Buying a house-- Not sure about this one. Being in the military, with a kid, in another country makes it a unique situation, I hope Dahle or someone with military experience weighs in.

                          Expenses-- This one's easier. Buy as much disability insurance as you can get. Build an emergency fund. Max out your Roths. Don't take on non-mortgage debt. Enjoy the rest.

                          As the spouse, are you working? If not, consider starting a side-business doing something you enjoy.

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                          • #14


                            Buying a house
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                            Not an option for us. Families are forced to live on-base, and therefore do not receive a housing allowance.


                            disability insurance
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                            This is definitely something we need to see about amending. Not sure if being in the military overseas changes things when it comes to getting disability insurance.


                            As the spouse, are you working?
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                            I'm not working as of now. I hope that changes soon, as I have a few job applications open.

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                            • #15
                              Having lived and worked in England many moons ago I too had free housing and food. I saved quite a bit and invested it. My only regret now is not using some of my earnings and my vacations to explore the Continent.

                              Enjoy the three years there and explore the country and learn the language and do other fun things. It will never come back, even though you will have more than enough money in your fifties. Experiences early in life are some of the most cherishable since nostalgia kicks in later in life and makes it even better.

                              Luckily I did locums in my free time in various locations in England and Scotland and got to see various small and large towns whilst also getting paid.

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