Thursday Battle: The 1500 Crappy Christmas Tree Conflict

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about a battle Mrs. 1500 and I were having over the thermostat. Writing it was a lot of fun, but we usually get along well, so I didn’t expect to write about another fight this soon. (Mrs. 1500 note: I wouldn’t characterize this as a fight…more like a disagreement because I am right and he is not…) However, a new conflict has broken out in the 1500 household. This time, it’s over our wayward Christmas tree.

The garage of doom

The garage of doom

Somewhere in our garage of chaos, there is an ugly plastic Christmas tree in a battered box. “Somewhere” is the key word because we have no clue where it actually is and the garage remains a disaster. (Mrs. 1500 note: I wouldn’t use the word ‘disaster.’ Let’s say untidy.) The tree is the plastic version of the Charlie Brown tree, so ugly that it’s barely even worth looking for. However, the holidays are upon us and Mrs. 1500 insists that we set up a tree. The kids eagerly support her position, so I’m outnumbered.

There are 2 problems: Continue reading

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If I had to marry a tool, it would be Tessa the Tile Saw

Tessa and I sharing a quiet moment

Tessa and I sharing a quiet moment

I’ll get right to the point, I love Tessa the Tile Saw because of the huge amount of money she has saved me installing almost 2,000 square feet of tile. If I had paid for all of this tile work, the labor would have run about $20,000 over the course of our last 5 remodels*.

I bought mighty little Tessa at Home Depot about 10 years ago for the price of about $100. At the time, I was deep in student debt, so I just grabbed the cheapest saw off the shelf. She wasn’t the fanciest, but I knew she’d do the job. Besides, some of the pricier models, while beautiful, looked like they’d be high maintenance.

Tessa has asked for almost nothing in our decade together. A couple years back, she needed a new diamond blade (even girl tile saws love diamonds) that set me back about $25. And that’s it! $125 for $20,000 in tile labor. Before I sing the praises of Tessa, I first need to convince you to learn how to tile. Continue reading

Posted in Uglyhouse | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Ask the Readers: What is the best thing that happened to you in 2014?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today, asking about the best thing that happened to you this year. So keep that in the back of your mind while you read about ways that other readers reward their kids.

You will recall that I have found myself giving food rewards to my kids, and wanted to stop doing that. They don’t need the sweets, and that can start bad food relationships. But I did that because I don’t want to reward with “stuff” that we don’t need. We already have too many toys, clothes and shoes. I think we single-handedly keep Crayola in business.

Retire Before Dad does very small sweets as rewards, like a few chocolate chips. They tried cars for potty training, but it didn’t really stick.

Kirsten from Indebted Mom says she sometimes rewards with craft projects. This is a great idea and I have already implemented it. Thanks, Kirsten!

Reader Hannah suggested reading The Five Love Languages. I hadn’t heard of that before, so I did read the wikipedia entry. I think this has a lot of information in it. Thanks, Hannah!

Both Reader Stephanie and The Roamer from Traveling Wallet suggested the reward should be the job well done. I am trying to ease into this, because I do want them to know I am proud of them, but they are right, in the real world you don’t get rewards for doing your job.

It seems like I am not alone in the sweet treat reward, which makes me feel like I am not doing everything wrong. Sometimes as a parent, it seems like a win when they are alive at the end of the day…

So on to this week’s question. What is the best thing that happened to you in 2014? We (briefly) reached the double comma mark, but otherwise it has been a relatively unexciting year. Which is good. A friend’s family had every member going under the knife this year. (They are all fine, now.) Sometimes, boring is good.

So how about you? Let’s talk about your year. What amazing things happened to you this year?

Posted in Ask the readers, Mrs1500 | Tagged | 28 Comments

10 Questions and a Pizza Place with The Roamer at The Traveling Wallet

Today is the 50th (!) 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.

The Roamer (TravellingWallet) is a relatively new blogger – she stumbled upon Mr. Money Mustache and discovered a whole new world where talking about money isn’t taboo! The PF/FI/ER world! Welcome, Roamer!

At 27, she was like a lot of her peers, student loan debt and wondering if she could ever retire. She graduated with $46,695 in debt, including $10,000 at a whopping 10.75% interest rate. She has paid off more than $100,000 in 3-1/2 years, and her blog follows her on her journey to Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

photo

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great?
I am just starting out on the blogging journey at Traveling Wallet. It’s great to be able to express my own voice and talk about all that I’m learning. I think we have been on the right track for the most part but since discovering FI we are on over drive. My blog is about money management and how it relates to parenting, traveling and FIRE. Really I like to critique current culture and how all these decisions we make affect our money. As a parent a lot of it does come from that perspective. Really I’m just documenting my journey and providing steps about how I am working to not give up traveling, not neglect parenting and still save enough to be able to retire.

I’d really like to reach the people who need it most. I know it’s outside of my circle of control but it saddens me to see people who have the potential just piss it away. I’m still trying to figure out how but my goal is to figure out a way to market to the people who need it most. Whether that’s high school students in poor neighborhoods or young adults or people my mom’s age.

On a side note: I liked your name so much I did a bit of math myself and found I have 150 months till retirement. Doesn’t have quite the same ring as 1500. What do you think Mr. & Mrs. 1500 it’s definitely much father of in the horizon but its my number so I’ll take it.

What is the worst financial mistake you made?
I would say there are several. Continue reading

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Thursday Rant: Foolish FroYo Frugality

Oh yeah!

The topping bar, oh yeah!

If you haven’t been to a self-serve frozen yogurt (FroYo) place yet, it works like this.

  1. First, grab a cup.
  2. Fill it with frozen yogurt of your choice.
  3. Add toppings from the topping bar.
  4. Put your concoction on a scale and weigh. You pay by the ounce.

I like these places because I can make myself a treat exactly how I like it in a small portion.

A couple weeks ago, we were at the local FroYo place waiting in line when I noticed a mother in front of us yelling at her 2 children. I thought she was scolding them for running around like rabid banshees. Nope, not even close. Here is what she was yelling about: Continue reading

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Why I threatened to leave my wife for a houseplant

My future wife?

My future wife?

Today, you’re in for a special treat. Even Steven interviewed me and I greatly enjoyed it. In the interview, among other fun facts, you’ll learn the following:

  • What I plan to do on the day I retire. Hint: It involves beer in more ways than one
  • What James Earl Jones, Christopher Walken and Pee Wee Herman have to do with my upcoming book
  • My 3.5 tips for acquiring great wealth
  • Why I threatened to leave Mrs. 1500 for a houseplant

Please click over to Even Steven and read about some of my insanity.

Posted in Something Completely Different | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Ask the Readers: How do you reward your children?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today, wondering how you reward your child for a job well done.

But before we delve into that topic, let’s talk about last week, when I asked you if your family exchanges gifts among the adults.

Mrs. Maroon from Mixing Maroons would like to forego adult gift-giving and just buy for the kids, except they are the only ones who have kids on either side of the family. Adding to the issue is the fact that one sister is upset about not having settled down yet, and another met her Mr. Right later in life and won’t be having children. She feels “…pretty much hog-tied to continuing adult gifts. …” Exactly how I feel.

Reader Beth chimed in right after, saying she is the single sister in her family, and would LIKE to stop giving adult gifts, as everyone has everything they need already. But “…I get shot down every time I try to suggest change. I’m painted as cheap, ungrateful and not having any holiday spirit. Holiday guilt, anyone?” Me too, Beth.

Or I get the “You don’t have to buy us anything, but we are buying you gifts.” As though we can’t afford the gifts, which is why we want to forego them. When people see our house, it is extremely obvious that we are tight on space. I’m working on getting rid of things, but right now we just have way too much stuff. We downsized, which is something that is perplexing to some relatives. “You had such a nice house… It was so big…” Sigh. Continue reading

Posted in Ask the readers, Mrs1500 | Tagged , | 21 Comments

10 Questions with Even Steven Money

Today is the 49th 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.

My favorite part of blogging is connecting with like minded people and Even Steven (Stevie?) is no exception. Even and I were able to meet in person on one of my work trips to Chicago. We chatted over pizza and beer and like everyone else I’ve met in the blogosphere, Even did not disappoint.

Even writes about a variety of topics including his adventures as a landlord, but one of my favorite posts is the one where he talks about meeting Michael Jordan.  I believe working your ass off is the most important factor to determining success in life and this story is a fine example of this principle. Also, you’ll learn why I referred to Mr. Even as “Stevie” above.

stevie

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.

I’m working on paying all my debt back, becoming Even Steven, and Building Financial Independence. I started my blog recently but have gone through many life and personal finance experiences to share with everyone. I have done everything from buying a Mercedes, working for Michael Jordan, to becoming a landlord, and I share my stories because to me that’s what makes my blog great, telling my story.

What is the worst financial mistake you made? Continue reading

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Thursday Rant: Gift receiving for tasteless and selfish people

Yesterday, the Mrs. Frugalwoods wrote an excellent guest post on gifts that she and Mr. FW have exchanged. I love their carefree, unforced and quirky approach. If you haven’t read it, go check it out.

Today, I present you with a tale of someone who is completely clueless and tasteless when it comes to gift giving receiving. I’m putting it mildly.

As a child, I loved the Christmas tradition of gifts. I’d wake up at 4 or 5 in the morning and patiently wait for my parents. We’d open gifts and create a huge mess. Great memories.

Spendosaurus is a dinosaur of varied tastes

Spendosaurus, a selfish dinosaur of varied tastes

As an adult, I have grown to detest it. I have everything I need. So do most of my family members. It all feels very forced. If I happen to stumble across something that I think a friend or family member would really enjoy, I buy it no matter what day of the year it is*. In the case of the holidays though, if it were up to me, we’d abandon the whole notion of holiday gift giving between adults.

Our solution this year is to explicitly tell people not to buy Mrs. 1500 or I anything (beer and chocolate covered pretzels excluded). If they feel bad about that, we’ve given them some charities that they can make a donation to in our name. Half of the problem is solved.

However, no one else in our families can let it go. Even Mrs. 1500’s minimalist sister who has about 6 possessions in the world insists that she likes to receive gifts. Sigh…

This year, the gift tradition soared to a new depth when a 35 year old family member posted this terrible awfulness publicly on Facebook: Continue reading

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The Frugalwoods show how to give a great gift

This is part 1 of a 2 part post. I have a nasty rant brewing for tomorrow about a relative who, shall we say, could use a bit of refinement in regards to gift giving and receiving. I had that mean post all ready to go when I noticed this on Frugalwoods:

piston2

Pay no attention to sassy Frugal Hound. This post is about the friggin’ (by “friggin,” I mean completely awesome) tank piston.

Did you see the tank piston in the picture? After I saw it, I could barely read the rest of the post. I had to know more about it.

Mrs. Frugalwoods responded to my query in the comments, explaining that it was a Christmas gift for Mr. Frugalwoods. I had to know even more. The story about gift giving is a good one that makes a great counter-post to my Thursday unpleasantness. I’ll let Mrs. Frugalwoods take it from here.

The Frugalwoods Tank Piston

Frugalwoods_Piston1I once gave Mr. Frugalwoods a ‘70s-era Soviet T72 tank piston (used in Eastern Europe) for Christmas. And he loved it! We don’t exchange gifts for every holiday or anniversary, but this particular Christmas was early on in our dating career–we were still in college–and I remember really wanting to nail it and demonstrate my devotion. After all, nothing says love like a Cold War relic.

Continue reading

Posted in Good Role Models, Guest Post | Tagged , , | 28 Comments