Thursday Rant: Disasterous Drivers and Airbnb Adventures

In my real life, I work on a contract basis. I write code for a nice hourly rate and that’s about it. Since I’m not an employee, I don’t have to deal with stuff like reviews or silly employee surveys. I simply do my work and collect a check every week.

The downside of this arrangement is that I give up some benefits. If I have to travel for work, I pay for it myself. While my travel is infrequent, I always take time to figure out the cheapest way to make the 1000 mile journey from Denver to Chicago. Usually, driving comes out cheaper.

The work trip I’m currently on is no different. I left my home last Friday and drove to Madison, Wisconsin to meet up with a relative for the weekend. Because of her chaotic living situation, I hooked up with an airbnb property. That was an interesting experience as you’ll see in a moment.

Anyway, I’m far too busy right now to compose anything close to a coherent post. However, I have had my Rant Radar turned to full power the whole trip. Here are some of my random observations.

IMG_20140927_105335942_HDRI am a calm driver, but I go out of my mind when people do their best snail imitation in the left lane. The left lane is for passing. If you want to go 55 while (insert one: chatting on the phone, facebooking, looking at yourself in the mirror), please move over to the right lane and stay there. I have places to go.

Equally annoying is when people fly past you in the left lane, get in front of you and then slow down. I have my cruise control on, so I know it’s not me. Continue reading

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Secret Millionaires on my Street

I’ve changed the names in this post, but everything else is true.

My completely boring street

A boring (and bad) picture of our boring street. Zzzzzz.

A thought that I frequently have is that most people misunderstand what real wealth looks like. This thought was driven home during a conversation with neighbor Jasmine a couple weeks ago. She started talking about another set of neighbors who I’ll call the Spendywoods (a name shamelessly inspired by the Frugalwoods).

  • Jasmine: Wow, the Spendywoods sure have a great life!
  • Me: Hmmm, what do you mean?
  • Jasmine: They have such nice cars and look at their home. They must be the richest people on our street!

I had to bite my tongue. The Spendywoods do have luxury cars. They have a beautiful home and their children go to private schools. However, I know they are far from rich. They make good money, but figure out ways to spend it all and then some. Jasmine has no idea what real wealth looks like. She would be very surprised to learn that there are at least* 3 very wealthy households on our street, you just wouldn’t know by looking at their homes or possessions.

Normalville, USA

We live on an average looking, dead end street with 29 homes on it. The street is so boring, I almost fall asleep just thinking about it. The cheapest home that sold recently was ours at $176,000. The most expensive one just sold a couple weeks ago for $425,000. The neighbors are a mix of working class and white collar types. Nothing would stand out if you drove down it except maybe the crapcycle exploits of our new neighbor across the street. One thing is for sure; you wouldn’t be able to pick out the Secret Millionaires’ homes. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Do you believe in buying a house?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

The roar of the crapcycles

The roar and stench of the crapcycle

The roar and stench of the crapcycle

A couple weeks ago, we asked what we should do about our new neighbors. A small band army of people moved into the rental home across the street. They brought with them a battalion of vehicles and a platoon of animals. There are new developments.

About a week ago, a bunch of the people moved out. With them went at least half of the cars and most of the yapping dogs. Great! However, the fun wasn’t over.

These people are Craigslist addicts and a couple days ago, they pulled up with a load of very sorry looking motorcycles. No idea whose backyard pile of junk these things came from, but they’ve all seen much better days. We call them crapcycles. Anyway, the yap-yap-yap of the barking dogs was replaced with the revving of motorcycle engines in the driveway. When it started, it didn’t bother us too much. After all, how long can you sit in your driveway and rev up a motorcycle engine? Turns out that this activity can occupy some people for hours and hours. Also turns out that we weren’t the only annoyed ones. Another neighbor called the cops and the roar of crapcycles has been silenced.

For now, all is calm. We have no idea what other unpleasant surprises our new friends have in store for us (fireworks? rudimentary experiments with gasoline? death metal band practice in the backyard?). At least life isn’t boring. Continue reading

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Blogs you should be reading, part 3

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 once again.

French quarter

French quarter

Earlier this week, I ran two posts here and here listing blogs you should be reading. (Mr. 1500 and I just got back from a blogging convention, where we met a ton of people.) My original intention was to let you know about some newer bloggers, but I realized that there are some older bloggers you may not know about. I mixed older blogs that I had never heard of, in with the newer ones. So here are a few more who may have been around a bit longer, that you may or may not have heard about yet.

I had a great conversation with Jacob from i heart budgets. Jacob’s story is not unlike many others – blowing through massive amounts of money with nothing to show for it but a pile of debt and a car he thought was sweet. He came into $100,000 at a very early age and spent it all in less than 3 years. Right before he got married, he was given a Dave Ramsey CD, which turned his life around. Now he writes to help others see their financial situation in a whole new light. Continue reading

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Thursday Rant: Mr. 1500’s Fashion Guide

!!!???

!!!???

I was on a flight recently and popped open one of my favorite business magazines. I was a bit taken aback when I opened an article that discussed a watch that costs $176,300. Holy hell, people pay one-hundred and seventy-six freakin’ thousand dollars for a watch?!? To put this in perspective, the home we bought in June of 2013 set us back $176,000. Yes, this watch costs $300 more than my home. Let’s contrast the watch and my home for just a moment:

My home is a structure where I sleep, work, bathe and ummm, relieve myself.

The watch tells you what time it is.

My home has sophisticated systems that keep me warm in the winter, dry when it rains and cool in the summer.

The watch tells you what time it is, just like your smart phone (which also makes phone calls.)

The home has fancy devices that I use to store and prepare food.

The watch tells you what time it is. From that picture, it must be able to tell you something else with those other dials. I’m too lazy to look up what those dials tell you, but surely those features aren’t worth $176,300 unless they successfully predict the stock market, cure cancer or teleport you Star Trek style.

Of course, no one buys this watch because they have to know what time it is. The main purpose is to express to others how much money you have. Continue reading

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Blogs you should be reading, Part 2

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 again today.

Stairway in Maison Vitry

The astonishing staircase in Maison Vitry.

Yesterday, I published a post about blogs you should be reading. Mr. 1500 and I just got back from a financial blogging convention, where we rented a house with The Mad FIentist, Johnny Moneyseed, and Mrs. Nickels. Johnny Moneyseed booked the house, and I didn’t know anything about it until we got there. Imagine my surprise when I discovered we were staying at Maison Vitry! This is an historic house in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans. If you are a fan of American Horror Story, you will recognize it from the 3rd season about witches.

And now more blogs I discovered…

I had a nice chat with Lazy Man and Money before the whole conference ever got started, and I ran into him several times every day. He started blogging about managing your money the lazy way, and circumstance has pushed him into more of a consumer advocate role. He doesn’t think much of multi level marketing schemes, and has no qualms telling you all about their faults.

I finally met up with Erin from Broke Millennial. Jeff from Sustainable Life Blog organized a cocktail tour, and we found each other at the last stop, the Hotel Monteleone. (If you have a chance, go check out their carousel bar. It spins continuously!) Thanks to Jeff for putting that together. I don’t know if I would have gotten out to those parts of the city without the tour.

One woman I did not get nearly enough time to talk with was Maria from The Money Principle. Based in the UK, Maria has chronicled her journey from $160,000 in consumer debt through her 3-year payoff, and continues now in her quest to save $4 million for retirement. If all that isn’t impressive enough, she won Best International Personal Finance Blog at the end of our conference. Congratulations Maria! (Also, she is Bulgarian, and I am fairly certain I impressed her with my one Bulgarian phrase, which is ‘Merry Christmas and Happy New Year’.)

I went to a breakout session with LaTisha from Young Finances. She was gave us a ton of information about making your own videos and uploading them to YouTube. We haven’t had the time to do that just yet, but until we get some up on our site, here is a link to her YouTube site. She has over 50 videos, all short, all entertaining. Thanks so much LaTisha! Continue reading

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Blogs you should be reading

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

Frugalsaurus and Spendosaurus photo bomb the FinCon photo shoot.

Frugalsaurus and Spendosaurus photo bomb the FinCon photo shoot. From left to right: Frugalsaurus, The MMM, Brad, Jim Collins, The Mad Fientist, Spendosaurus, Mr. 1500

The Mister and I just got back from our annual financial bloggers conference, held this year in New Orleans. We had a great time, learned a ton, and made a lot of new friends.

I talked to brand-new bloggers, as well as those you probably already know. I checked out a lot of those blogs, and wanted to share some of them with you. Stop back by tomorrow to check out even more awesome bloggers I discovered this weekend.

Mr. and Mrs. Nickels from MyShinyNickels provided hours of delightful conversation. Anyone who writes “Fist bump to you, Mr. Thoreau” when talking about Henry David is awesome in my book.

I had a very lively conversation with Joel from Save Outside the Box at a party hosted by Betterment. We bonded over our mutual hatred of mushrooms. By day, he produces the Clark Howard show, but by night, he blogs about his views on personal finance, shaped in part by some fairly difficult financial times as a child. He is a microbrew afficionado* and I’m also pretty sure he is 11 feet tall, which makes him very easy to find in a crowd, but difficult to talk to when you clock in at 5’4″. Next time, I think I will stand on the stairs…

Leah Manderson is a financial planner and money coach, working with young adults to help them create budgets, savings plans, or debt reduction plans. Her blog is filled with great advice, and reads like she is your best friend, casually discussing money. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Should you pay off your mortgage?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today, asking for your thoughts about paying off your mortgage early.

I have seen “paying off your mortgage early” vs. “keeping it for the duration” debated numerous times. I think both sides have valid points, but now I want to see what my readers think.

My new best friend!

My new best friend!

And now, let’s go check out the answers from last week’s question, What do I do about my new neighbor?

If you will recall, one man moved in two weeks ago, along with his wife, his brother, 5 adult children, a brother and sister-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law, and various and sundry other people.

They also have 15 vehicles and six dogs. SIX DOGS!!! Six dogs who love to bark at anything and everything. I didn’t know what to do. I cannot stand the sound of a barking dog!

I have to admit, I was a little hesitant to post this. Most people are very dog friendly. I was blown away by the sheer number of you who have also lived next door to ridiculous people or situations.

Many of you suggested that I contact the landlord to see if they know about all these extra adults in the house. In most circumstances, this would be a great suggestion. Many landlords specifically prohibit adults from living in the home without also being on the lease. But this landlord is the opposite. He doesn’t care who is there, as long as the rent gets paid on time. Not a wise strategy. From everyone on the Bigger Pockets forums, this will come back to bite you in the backside just about 100% of the time. Thanks to Mrs. Frugalwoods, Million Dollar Ninja, Even Steven, Mrs. PoP, and Reader Scooze for the suggestion. Continue reading

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10 Questions and a Pizza Place with FI Fighter

Today is the 41st edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions and a Pizza Place. (The 1500′s are pizza fanatics.) We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all 17. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

A few weeks back, we asked ‘Who do you read?’ We were looking for recommendations for personal finance/financial independence blogs. Many of you recommended FI Fighter. Up until I wrote that post, I had not heard of FI Fighter, and apparently I was the only one who had not.

I contacted him that evening and asked him if he would please answer our 10 Questions series, and he graciously obliged. Without further ado…

DuckiesTell me about your blog and why it’s great.
www.fifighter.com started off as kind of my own personal journal for documenting my progress to get to early FI. Originally, the plan was to get there at age 37.5. That number has since been condensed down to age 30. I try to keep the blog interesting by covering different topics: early FI, investing, travel hacking, etc. The main objective, though, is to share my experiences, learnings, mistakes, etc. with the readers as they are happening in real-time. Hindsight is 20/20 and everyone looks like a genius analyzing yesterday. So, you’ll get a lot of numbers and transparency!

What is the worst financial mistake you made?
Not knowing what a “once in a lifetime” opportunity we really had between 2009-2012. I was fortunate to be able to pick up a lot of undervalued assets, but I didn’t have the experience/knowledge/conviction to really capitalize during the downmarket. I met a fellow Bay Area investor who has since retired from his day job because he did so exceptionally well during that time period (increased his net worth to $3MM or so in those 4 years).

What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?
Probably leverage it up and purchase an apartment or commercial space in the Bay Area. Although the safe and sure thing to do would probably be to re-invest it into blue chip dividend stocks. $40,000/year in truly passive income would just about do it, no question.

What kind of car do you drive?
A 2008 Lexus 400h. It was a gift for my dad but he didn’t want it. One of my first major purchases (mistakes) made after graduating. If I do move overseas, I will seriously contemplate selling it.

Continue reading

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Interview with the Frugalsaur

Frugalsaurus before he was Frugalsaurus, somewhere in Montana.

Frugalsaurus before he was Frugalsaurus, somewhere in Montana.

About 10 years ago, Mrs. 1500 and I were going through an old box of random stuff*. She pulled out a little green dinosaur and said, “What is this?” To which I replied, “Wow, I’ve had that dinosaur since I was a little kid. Let’s keep him!”

Shortly after that day, a goofy tradition was born. The dinosaur would travel with us and get his picture taken. Our little green plastic toy has probably traveled more than most people.

Recently, the dinosaur has taken on a new role. Of course, I’m referring to his ongoing role as Frugalsaurus on this blog. Frugalsaurus makes frequent appearances, most recently in this rant.

Anyway, I thought you’d like to learn a little more about Frugalsaurus, so he agreed to be interviewed by Frugal Hound (you read that correctly, a greyhound is interviewing a plastic dinosaur). Today, please flip over to Frugalwoods to read the interview.

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 8.35.04 PM

*This past weekend, we pulled a baseball out of another box that is worth as much as $6000. That is a story for another time.

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