10 Questions and a Pizza Place with Life Part 2

This is the 39th 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.

Today’s 10 Question features Jonathan Look from Life Part 2. In 2011, at the age of 50, Jonathan decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world; one country at a time, one year at a time. His plan is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn’t intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
Life Part 2 is kind of a hybrid retirement, travel and lifestyle blog. I try to show people what is possible when they quit sacrificing their lives on the altar of consumerism and live life as an adventure. I don’t offer a lot of tips or advice but I do try to inspire people to wake up to some of the possibilities. Continue reading

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Thursday Rant: 1500 Portfolio, Part 3: No Empire Lasts Forever

“No empire lasts forever.” -a sign on a co-workers desk

“There have been thousands of American car companies. Almost all of them are now gone. When the car came out, instead of investing in a car company, a better idea would have been to short horses.” -Warren Buffett at the 2013 shareholders meeting.

I for one, do not approve of your portfolio allocation!

I for one, do not approve of your portfolio allocation!

What do those quotes mean? More on that in a moment. First of all, I need to show you the rest of my portfolio* including my single largest holding :

  • Fidelity Contrafund (FCNTX), $247,519: I’m not a big fan of this fund, but it happens to be the least evil option in my 401k. The fees aren’t terrible, but they aren’t great either. However, the company match ($2000/year) and the incredible tax benefits of a 401k make it worthwhile.
  • Vanguard S&P 500 (VFIAX), $108,322: This is my first move towards a rational investment strategy! When I started this blog, I didn’t really know much at all about index investing. MMM and Jim Collins set me straight, although I probably should have purchased VTSAX instead.
  • Vanguard Technology (VGT), $69,411: I’ll always have a soft spot in my heart for technology stocks. This Vanguard, sector-specific index fund allows me to invest in technology, but be a bit diversified.

No Empire lasts forever

Investing in individual stocks is dangerous business. Most companies that have ever existed are now long gone. Incredibly, according to this article, most businesses now only last 15 years. It’s easy and fun to ride a hot stock up, up, up. It’s much harder to know when to sell. Back in the Internet boom around 2000, I was jumping up and down when an Internet mutual fund I bought went from $10 to $120. I wasn’t jumping up and down when it sank back below $10. Just a short time ago, Blackberry and Nokia were on top of the world. Now Apple, Samsung and Google have toppled their empires. Amazing.

What if the Apple or Google or facebook that I hold now is at the top of its apogee? I could be in for rough times. On the other hand, what if I sell and the apogee is still 2 decades away? Continue reading

Posted in Rants | Tagged | 36 Comments

An Open Letter to All College Students

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today. I would like to talk to you about how you handle your finances during your college years. (This is a fairly long post, but bear with me – it reads fast!)

Pac-Man advises college students to save, save, save.

Pac-Man advises college students to save, save, save.

I will start with a horror story. Mr. 1500′s littlest sister arrived 14 years after he appeared in this world. His parents were much older, and by their own admission, “tired” by the time she came along. It is far easier to just give your child whatever they want, than to teach them the value of a dollar or how good it feels to be rewarded for hard work. (There is a reason Sister 1500 is known to readers of this blog as SpongeSister SpendyPants.)

Fast forward 18 years, and she is now in college. She went to a state school, received in-state tuition, and various scholarships to bring her college bill way down. While I am not sure of the exact total, she graduated with less than $20,000 in student loan debt. For a 4-year degree, this is pretty good. However, her parents earned too much money to qualify for federal student loans, and her loans were unsubsidized, which means interest started accruing immediately. She did not work during the school year, and also did not work in between the school years, either. She “likes to have her summers off.” Continue reading

Posted in Bad Role Models, Good Role Models, Mrs1500, Saving and Investing Money | 37 Comments

Ask the Readers: How do you plan for health care in early retirement?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 back for the Monday Ask the Reader question. Mr. 1500 has been asking for the last couple of weeks.

A few months ago, I asked you what do you want to know. I had been running out of questions for the readers, and thought maybe you had some questions I hadn’t thought of. And you didn’t disappoint!

Today’s question came from two different people. Mrs. Y from Live Happy Retire Early wanted to know how you are planning for health care with or without young children in early retirement, and Reader Jon wanted to know about your experiences with the Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare.

***WARNING*** Please keep your comments about the health care act to personal experiences. Do not use this forum to bash one political party or the other. I do not remove comments very often, but profane and/or irrelevant comments will be deleted. I will let you have your respectful say, but will not tolerate hatred. Continue reading

Posted in Ask the readers, Mrs1500 | Tagged , | 16 Comments

10 Questions with Ryan from Peer and Social Lending

This is the 38th 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.

I haven’t written about it much lately, but I love peer lending. I’ve been on both Prosper and Lending Club before they were cool (over 4 years). I think that both of these companies will redefine much of the way banking is done in the not so distant future.

Today’s post features a blog about peer lending. Please welcome Ryan from Peer & Social Lending. However, it doesn’t stop there. Ryan already has a rental property and graduated college with money in the bank. Did I mention he’s only 25? Ladies and gentlemen, I wish I had my stuff together like Ryan when I was his age!

My favorite answer is his advice to someone just out of college. I see my young relatives doing this all of the time and they would do MUCH better in life if they followed Ryan’s advice.

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

Peer & Social Lending (www.peersociallending.com) aims to help retail investors maximize their p2p lending returns.  It is focusing on educating people who want a hands on approach to managing Lending Club and Prosper accounts.  I feature all of the third party tools to automate investing and document my experience along the way. In addition, I also feature content to help borrowers as well as feature other companies in the industry. The main focus is to help others like myself with their accounts.

What is the worst financial mistake you made?

Investing in a high cost mutual fund that I knew nothing about and didn’t understand even when it was explained to me. I didn’t lose money, but could have done a lot better and wish I would have known then, what I do now.

What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?
Continue reading

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Thursday Rant: Corn cobbin’ it!

Last week in my rant, I wrote about how some people who struggle with money bring on their own problems through ridiculous spending*. There is no shortage of folks who live like that here in the States. However, I recently read about the opposite; people who have gazillions of dollars, but pay loads of money in an effort to live like those who struggle.

Frugalsaurus is pretentious and cheap, but even he draws a line in the bathroom here.

Frugalsaurus is pretentious and cheap, but even he draws a line at corn cobs.

I love living in modern times. A thought that I often have is that I’m very thankful to have been born in an era with airplanes, air conditioning, long lifespans, computers, safe drinking water and modern medicine.

The goal of this blog is early retirement through financial independence. Retiring only halfway through life is a fantastic thing and a very new concept. Think about it. If you were born in 1900, you couldn’t count on living to be 50. You worked, worked, worked your whole life and then you died. Game over. Do not buy golf clubs or a Cadillac. Do not pass the Florida state line. Go directly to the worm farm.

In the present day, most of us expect to retire. If we play our cards smart and right, we can even retire with a good part of our lives ahead of us. This is spectacular and the reason behind it is technology.

However, some people just don’t see it this way. Check out this article in the Wall Street Journal** about some pretentious people who want to live like it’s the 1700s. This lady spent $1,000,000 remodeling her old home and decided to forgo electricity in parts of the home so she could have a more authentic experience. What?!? Continue reading

Posted in Rants | Tagged , , | 42 Comments

1500 Portfolio, Part 2: Rare Leadership

Last week, I started telling you how some insights led me to purchase three stocks that have done really well. Today, I tell you about another strategy I have.

Again, this is not advice. This is just me being transparent and showing you how my brain works. In a lot of ways, my belief system around investing has changed and this portfolio is a relic that points to past thinking. Most of these purchases were made years ago. The oldest, Google, I bought exactly 10 years ago today in its unusual IPO.

I’ll never be a CEO, CIO, VP, director or anything close to that. I’m glad, too. I have good friends who have ascended to those roles at their company and they bring home a hefty paycheck. However, nothing comes for free. A friend who was promoted to a director at a large retailer last year put in 80 hours a week for months on end. His two kids missed their father. I can’t live with the tradeoffs that I’d have to make to climb to a corporate leadership position.

There are lots of other things that I want to do with my life besides earn a paycheck. I’m thrilled that my ego doesn’t demand a position where I manage people or have a fancy title. I love programming. If I just wrote code for the rest of my working life, that would make me really happy.

Just because I won’t ever be a director or VP doesn’t mean that I don’t know a good leader when I see one. Today, I’ll tell you about some of the people in business who I admire most and what investments I’ve made as a result. Continue reading

Posted in Performance | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Ask the Reader: Should we rent and flip?

An awful kitchen makes for a great flip candidate.

An awful kitchen makes for a great flip candidate.

Last week, I asked you about your rules for landlording. In the past, I put a lot of emphasis on the credit report. A fellow landlord told me he thinks the rental history is just as important. Here is what you think:

Mario (a seasoned landlord) from Debt Blag had this to say:

…rental history has been a better predictor of how reliable a tenant they’ll be than credit score.

I think about it this way: The only reason credit scores even exist is because we all needed a way to figure out how much to trust someone when nothing tangible is at stake other than being able to borrow again in the future.

Very wise words. I had never thought about it like this, but it makes perfect sense.

Reader Chris mentioned this: Continue reading

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10 Questions and a Pizza Place with My UnhoardED Life

This is the 37th 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.

Today’s post features Zoe from My UnhoardED Life. Her blog is a very open and honest view of a childhood overshadowed by hoarding, her inability to deal with that at such a young age, and her eventual turn to an eating disorder to help her cope. She now lives her life trying to recover in a healthy way and shares her experiences with her readers.

Mrs. 1500′s parents like their things and her brother could almost qualify for the hoarding TV shows. She is waging her own battle against accumulation, and it is slow going. Progress is made every day, but measured in inches, rather than feet.

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Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My blog is a recovery blog – recovering from an eating disorder and recovering from growing up as the child of hoarders. I picked up many of my parents’ compulsive saving and shopping habits, so my blog talks about why I spend money on wasteful things and why and collect things. I’m trying to teach myself how to make better decisions. Hopefully others can learn from my mistakes. Continue reading

Posted in 10 Questions | Tagged | 4 Comments

Thursday Rant: How the poor back-load their lives with front-loader washing machines

Not so ugly!

Still not done, but no longer ugly!

I wasn’t going to post today as we’re very, very busy with lots of different projects. We’re trying to finish up the outside of Uglyhouse our house before the cold weather sets in and it’s consuming vast amounts of time. However, I saw a picture today on an acquaintance’s facebook feed that drove me to post.

I didn’t grow up in poverty, but we weren’t too far away from it. Our lower, middle class lifestyle was filled with financial struggles. My dad was frequently laid off when construction season slowed in the winter and money became an instant struggle. I noticed the same problems with my neighbors and friends.

I now realize most of the problems in my family and these others were due to lifestyle inflation. When work was abundant and good money was flowing in, my parents immediately found ways to spend it. The most dramatic example was when my parents blew a $400,000 inheritance in a just a couple years. I learned from the mistakes and vowed not to repeat them. Struggling with money hurts in a bad way. Continue reading

Posted in Rants | Tagged | 45 Comments