Performance Update, Day 1641: Falling on the Beerwagon

My main goal was to build an investment and cash portfolio of $1,120,000* in 1500 days**, starting from 1/1/2013 and ending in February of 2017. I made my goal last year and my 1500 Days are over, but in the interest of openness, I’ll continue to share my numbers.

Our 7-year-old is very expressive. Here she is eating Costco pizza. I admit that the pizza isn’t that great, but from the look on her face, you’d think that we were feeding her rat poison:

She is also expressive in her art:

I didn’t know this about rhinos:

A couple week ago, she presented Mrs. 1500 and I with this piece:

  • Me: What is this?
  • Child: It’s beer! You and mommy like to drink beer!
  • Me: Oh, ok, thanks?!??
  • Child: Are you going to hang it up on your office wall with my other art?
  • Me: Ummmmmm….

First, we don’t drink beer out of a glass that looks like that. Our child calls all adult beverages beer. Her art was a picture of one of Mrs. 1500’s wine glasses.

But that is one small detail. The real issue is this:

Let’s back up a minute… Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Finding your Tribe

I walk a lot, especially early in the mornings and late at night when it’s not hot. I’ve noticed some danger signs lately in my rapidly gentrifying neighborhood:

  • Cleaning crews: At least 10% of the folks on our street hire a cleaning crew to take care of their homes. For a family with working parents, I can see why this may be necessary. Life can be overwhelming. Been there, done that. I’m not sure why the empty nesters can’t clean their toilets though.
  • Lawn service: This is something I’d never pay for. But again, if you’re super busy, this may be a compromise you have to make. But why do families with teenage boys pay for a lawn service? Put those kids to work!
  • Ice cream delivery: I didn’t know this existed until I saw an ice cream delivery truck in front of a house.

But, I like my neighborhood and see good examples too:

  • The guy who owns the rental across the street is worth millions and isn’t afraid of hard work. When his renters moved out on the sly late one recent evening, they left mountains of crap that they had collected from Craigslist. There were also piles of actual crap (courtesy of their herd of dogs and cats). Every day for the past month, I’ve seen the landlord carry junk out to a dumpster. He’s gone through at least two.
  • I have 80 year old neighbors who live a lively life of travel and adventure. When they aren’t camping or in Europe, they’re working on their home or exploring the neighborhood on foot.

From my judgmental tone, you can tell I’m more like the landlord or 80 years-olds than the folks who have ice cream delivered to their home.


Finding my tribe (and seeing what you want to see)

Finding my tribe wasn’t always easy. I don’t have much in common with folks who hire an army of people to serve them so they can watch more TV. That’s not my style and I struggle finding common ground.

And lifestyle inflation is dangerous. Don’t get too comfortable when times are good or else you won’t be ready when they end. You don’t want to be foreclosed on when the economy takes it’s next dump.

Instead, figure out how to live right and  don’t change no matter how much money you end up with. Do you want to control money or do you want money to control you?

But I digress. Continue reading

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Friday Gratitude: Frugal Travel with Friends (and The Jim Collins Lounge Lizard Tour!)

The best (and most unexpected) part of blogging is all of the great friends that we’ve made from interesting parts of the world. Some are fellow bloggers while others are just nice people I’ve run into at meetups or chatted with over email.

I recently mentioned that we’re going on a big trip to Maine, Vermont, NYC and Scotland. However, I didn’t mention that this trip mostly revolves around people. Instead of running around to see stuff, our priority this time will be hanging out with friends.

On our last trip, we spent time with the Physician on FIRE family and found that we enjoyed visiting with friends more than the site-seeing. And who am I kidding, I don’t like blowing money, so free room and board doesn’t hurt!


Frugal Travel with Frugal Friends

On this trip, we’ll be going to a bunch of places we’ve never been before including Maine, Vermont, New York City and Scotland.

In Maine, we’re visiting my friend who goes by A. Noonan Moose and blogs over at Frugal Fringe. Moose is a local friend from Colorado who spends his summers in the Northeast. Jim Collins, New Hampshire’s most famous resident, may also join us:

Bonus fact: Not many know that Jim was a Vegas lounge singer before his career as a professional blogger took off. He recently came out of retirement for a brief tour of the Northeastern seaboard that coincides with our travels. We plan to catch every performance during our time there:


Next up is Vermont where we’ll be spending time in the woods with the Frugalwoods. My children know that the Ben and Jerry’s factory is nearby and coincidentally, they have been asking this question every 3 seconds: Continue reading

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How I Invest in Real Estate without the Hassle

I love investing in real estate. In the past, I’ve flipped homes and owned rentals. In the most dramatic example of the former, I flipped a fancy lakefront home:

My current home is nothing to sneeze at either:

However, I haven’t been very successful at flipping or renting lately. We live in a white-hot housing market where bidding wars are the norm for single-family homes. And it’s even worse for multi-family units.

Last year, a four-plex came on the market for $800,000. It was bringing in about $6,000/month in rent. The units needed a lot of work and weren’t in the best part of town. It was overpriced, but that didn’t stop a bidding war from breaking out anyway. It sold for $960,000. No thanks.


Investing in Real Estate without the Hassle

I’ve found other ways to invest in real estate through private lending and crowdfunding: Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Frugality versus Minimalism

I had this conversation with Mrs. 1500 on Saturday:

  • Me: Why do we have a million boxes of cereal?
  • Mrs. 1500: When I see it on sale, I stock up.
  • Me: But we don’t have a huge kitchen. We should just buy what we need for the next couple of weeks. I don’t care if it costs more.
  • Mrs. 1500:

Mrs. 1500 note [after she saw this image]: “You’re sleeping on the couch tonight!”

Mr. 1500 note: Great! The couch is right next to the kitchen and the 108,000 boxes of Cap’n Crunch! How is the milk supply?

We don’t have thousands of boxes of cereal, but we have a lot: Continue reading

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Being Yourself is Sexy

I started blogging way back on January 1st 2013. I didn’t have any expectations. I just knew that I enjoyed writing and thought that holding myself publicly accountable on my journey to financial independence would be fun.

My first big break came about four months later on Budgets are Sexy. My wife wrote about how we bought stock for our children to teach them about investing. The post generated loads of new readers for our site and we wanted to thank J. Money. We knew he’d be at a blogger conference we’d be attending, so we brought a couple six-packs of beer from a local brewery to give him. But there was one problem; I was looking for the wrong person.

I had remembered that J. Money got fired from his job and I assumed he was the guy in the picture from the post:

It turns out that he looks nothing like that: Continue reading

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The Friendly Russian Lives the American Dream

Ask the Readers takes a holiday break today.

I usually post about gratitude on Friday, but I wanted you to see this one in time for the 4th of July holiday. You’ll know why when you read it. Thanks Friendly Russian for your excellent words. The ending made me all mushy inside. Take it away Stan!

It’s 5:15AM in the morning. My wife and two daughters are still sleeping; perfect time to write down something new.

First, I would like to thank you to Mr. 1500 for this great opportunity to write this Friday Gratitude post. When he told me that I was welcome to write it I got really excited and scared at the same time. But the challenge was accepted and there’s no way to turn back.

Whipped ass

Hello, I my name is Stanislav, but you can call me Stan. I am a Russian immigrant and have been living in the States since June of 2013.

My story is really simple, I came to America with no English, no money or job. I quickly learned 15 words – all in Spanish and started reading about early retirement movement.

As far back as I remember, I always wanted to live in the United States. This country was a mysterious place for me and many other kids who were born in USSR and grew up in Russia.

Coming to America. The plane that brought Stan to the States.

The funniest and craziest thing is this: I’d never been there before I immigrated. I got all my impressions from Hollywood movies. Probably not the best source of information, but in the late 80s, that was all we had. And by the way, no Internet at that time, remember that? Continue reading

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Friday Gratitude with Mustard Seed Money

Today’s dose of gratitude comes from Mustard Seed Money. Mustard Seed is an accountant in his late 30s who hopes to retire at age 40. Take it away!

When Gratitude Requires Hindsight

Growing up, my parents and grandparents enjoyed recounting their stories about how they met.  My grandparents lived in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn and became childhood sweethearts in grade school.  They were inseparable, until World War II called my grandfather into action.

My grandfather dutifully served, but he refused to talk about the war with us.  As a result, none of us knew exactly where he was or what he did.  He would always say that he sat in a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  He joked that the sun from the Pacific was so hot that it burned off all his hair, hence his baldness.  Shortly after he returned from the war, my grandparents married and started a family, like so many others from the Silent Generation.

My parents are both baby boomers and attended Virginia Tech.  They met while waiting outside to enter into a science class.  My dad was a sophomore while my mom was a freshman.  My dad was clearly spitting some game as he was able to convince my mom to go with him to a frat party later that night.  When I got older, I heard the full story.  My dad actually showed up a little tipsy for the date as he decided that he needed to pre-game beforehand.  But clearly, my mom didn’t mind too much.  My dad rocked a sweet ‘stache at the time, so my mom probably figured that my dad was a hot commodity. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Favorite Places on Earth?

Last Friday, I had a magical experience. I had told the girls on Thursday evening that I’d be taking them to Rocky Mountain National Park. I looked outside on Friday morning and was annoyed by the heavy clouds. The girls would be upset if I told them that the trip was off, so I pushed ahead. I hoped that the clouds would break so we could see the park.

I became more annoyed as we approached RMNP. Instead of the clouds breaking, they got worse. As we entered the park, it started to rain. The main thought I had was:


I forged ahead. Up Trail Ridge Road we went. This road goes to one of the highest points in the park (12,000 feet). At about 10,000 feet, we were driving through clouds:

  • Younger Daughter: What’s going on? Is this fog?
  • Me: No, we’re driving through clouds.
  • Younger Daughter: No way dad!!!!

And then, we were in sunshine. The clouds flowed like rivers in the valleys below us. It was stunning:

We arrived at the visitor center at the top of Trail Ridge Road where the wind was blowing:

I’d like to know what places move your soul. First, we must get to last week’s answers when I asked about the $1,500,000/year people who complained about about their wealth:

Here is what you had to say: Continue reading

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Friday Gratitude: Bring It

Action may not always bring happiness, but there can is no happiness without action. -Benjamin Disraeli

I had always heard that early retirees lead busy lives, but I didn’t believe it. However, it’s totally true. I left my job on April 13th and I’ve never been busier. It’s only been 2 months, but if feels like 2 years. The job is a tiny dot in the rearview mirror.

I’ve regretted nothing. I thought that I’d miss the big checks and maybe I do, but just a little tiny bit. My freedom feels so much better than those paychecks.

Lake Monona

And now that I don’t have a normal job, it seems that the forces of nature technical recruiters are conspiring harder than ever to get me back into the workforce. About the same time I quit, an old colleague let me know of an opening with his company:

And lately, recruiters are throwing out big dollar amounts in emails. Software developers are in demand. I received this last week:

Information Technology was a wonderful career. I love to code and I still do it, but I have no interest in a 40 hour workweek ever again.

But this post isn’t about working to live, it’s about living to work. Continue reading

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