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

Posted in Ask the readers, Mrs1500 | Tagged , | 24 Comments

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.

Posted in Something Completely Different | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Ask the Readers: What do I do about my new neighbor???

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

Our street has 29 houses, 5 or 6 of which are rentals. For the most part, we have great renters on our block – they treat the house like it were there own. But last month, we got a new neighbor. Or I should say, new neighbors PLURAL because that is the problem. There are so many of them!

But before I tell you my first-world-problem tale of woe, let’s go back to last week’s question, where I asked you where you start? What is the first step toward financial freedom, or financial betterment?

I have a very dear friend who has been hiding her financial status for a while. She is not very good with money, and finally confessed her financial sins to me. The advice I gave her was to start with writing everything down. You can’t know where to make cuts if you don’t know where it is going in the first place. But I wanted to know what you thought, too. I wanted to make sure I was giving the right advice.

Mrs. PoP from Planting Our Pennies responded very quickly, and backed me up. “I always tell people the first step is tracking your spending. Until you know where all your money is going, it’s going to be much harder to figure out what doesn’t match up with your values and can be cut permanently and what does, but can be trimmed in the short term until you get to a better place financially.”

Reader Zaxon, Aldo from Million Dollar Ninja, Wade from Destination Financial Wisdom, Debs at DebtDebs, Emily from EvolvingPF, Even Steven, Kipp from Frankly Frugal Finance and Reader VDB all said the exact same thing. So many great financial minds can’t all be wrong. Continue reading

Posted in Ask the readers, Mrs1500 | Tagged | 51 Comments

Blogs I Dig: Richmond Savers

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

Besides his wealth of travel knowledge, Brad is a really nice guy.

Besides his wealth of travel knowledge, Brad is a really nice guy.

We have been collecting Airline Rewards points for years, and been able to use them on our own with relative ease. But then the rules changed, and we moved from the O’Hare Airport area, to the Denver Airport region. What we didn’t know, was that our airline mile redemption ability was about to change, too.

Over the course of our time in Colorado, we have amassed 200,000 miles on British Airways, along with 65,000 Chase Rewards points, that we were suddenly not able to easily use. (Think 2 and 3 stops each way, flying in the opposite direction first, etc.) Enter Brad from Richmond Savers.

#49012-RichmondSavers.com-final

Brad has studied the ins and outs of many major rewards programs, learning the best way to use them. But what is even better, is that Brad loves to share his knowledge with others. He offers free rewards travel coaching that includes access to his free travel rewards coaching video series!

Those Chase points I mentioned above are actually quite valuable. Had I known just how valuable, I would have paid more attention to the statements and made sure I received my 50,000 point bonus after spending the required amount. I missed the amount by $300, which makes me really upset with myself. Sigh. Continue reading

Posted in Mrs1500 | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Thursday Anti-Rant: Life Ain’t Bad

Life has been pretty great lately. I’m too happy to wrap my mind around a whiny post today.

Yep.

Yep.

I’m amazed that I’ve almost reached the $1,000,000 mark. I pinch myself daily.

For my first 25 years of life, money was a huge struggle. We weren’t poor growing up, but we weren’t far from it. Sometimes, life was a bit miserable as my family made poor financial decisions (“We bought a timeshare!!!”).

I turned the tide in my war with money 15 year ago when I graduated college. I finished up college with $60,000 in debt, but going from making $4.25/hour in the college computer lab to a job where I was well compensated as a programmer was amazing. Still, I never thought I’d have anything close to what I do now. It is strange. Deep down inside, I still feel like that struggling college kid eating almost nothing but spaghetti because it was cheap.

But I digress.


Last weekend, I went to the MMM meetup with a group of friends (shout out to L from Longmont and B and L from Loveland). I love being around this type of crowd. I’m an introvert, but I have a hard time shutting up in a group of MMM aficionados. It was wonderful to meet with E from Denver, D and S from Boulder and E from Fort Collins. I look forward to spending time with all of you in the very near future.

Over Labor Day weekend, we went camping near Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The weather was perfect, the conversation was good and the beer was cold. Trifecta!

Oblgatory mountain picture

Obligatory mountain picture

IMG_20140831_175711590

Marshmallows! (I have the girls convinced that they grow on trees!)

Marshmallows! I have the girls convinced that they grow on trees.

No matter how old I get, this still makes me giggle. My sense of humor stopped maturing in the 7th grade.

No matter how old I get, this still makes me giggle. My sense of humor stopped maturing in the 7th grade.

Don’t worry Rant Fans, Mrs. 1500 and I are working on something extra whiney for next week!

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My Favorite Hikes (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Reset My Brain)

IMG_2033

Half Dome as seen from Glacier Point

Some of the greatest joys in life are the simplest things:

  • Reading! I’m in the middle of reading The Firm now for about the 100th time. I could spend 8 hours a day with books, magazines and newspapers.
  • The beach: What is better than watching the waves roll in? I’d be happy on a beach anywhere.
  • The smile of a baby: Just kidding. I hate it when people say stuff like this.
  • Exploring on foot: A great hike is yet another joy and this is what I’ll be talking about today.

I love long walks. Putting your feet to the pavement and hitting the open sidewalk or rocky trail is one of my favorite things. I open my mind, camera lens, shut my mouth and observe.

A good walk hits the reset switch of the brain. If something is bothering me or I need to work a problem out, by the end of a walk, I’ve usually found a solution. I also come up with some of my best ideas on a walk. I wasn’t surprised when a Stanford study revealed that a good walk boosts creativity.

Vacation_HoundFrugalwoods

Have you checked out Frugalwoods yet? If not, you should. Mr. and Mrs. FW are relatively new on the scene and are already writing some really great stuff. They also have a greyhound* and their blog features some highly amusing pictures of her dressed in various garb.

Anyway, it turns out that the Frugalwoods also really enjoy hiking. So today, the Frugalwoods and I both present our favorite hikes. Please flip over to their site to read about some of their favorites.

My Favorite Hikes

Mist Trail (Yosemite National Park, California)
Yosemite National Park is one of the greatest places on Earth. Continue reading

Posted in Something Completely Different | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

Ask the Readers: How do you start?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today. This week’s question is How do you start? What is the first step in getting out of debt, changing your spending habits, living within your means or below your means so you can save up for retirement?

But first, let’s jump into the wayback machine and check out the answers to the question two weeks ago, How do you plan for healthcare in early retirement?

I tried to look up the Medicare rules, but I couldn’t get a straight answer. Whatever they are, I know that most early retirees are not eligible for Medicare benefits at the time of their retirement.

Wade from Destination Financial Wisdom says From what I read, the Affordable Healthcare Act is a mini-boon for early retirees. Can it support itself? Will it be changed?” Continue reading

Posted in 10 Questions, Mrs1500 | Tagged , | 50 Comments

10 Questions with My Shiny Nickels

Wow, today is the 40th 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 we feature Laura from mySHINYnickels. I love hearing about people who realize that they’re not living right and then make a big change. This is exactly what Laura did, going from big time debt to bigger time savings in about 2 years. Very cool.

Finally, I am asked all of the time why I want to retire early. Laura provides a very good reason in this post.

Screen Shot 2014-09-06 at 8.24.49 AMTell me about your blog and why it’s great.
I’m one of those “used-to-be-40k-in-debt-now-on-my-way-to-early-retirement” folks.  I was once like so many others, drowning in a downward financial spiral.  And while I offer my perspective, I don’t pretend to know it all, because I really don’t!  My blog (mySHINYnickels) is about personal finance, with a dash of humor and real-life blunders mixed in.  I think people can relate to that.

What is the worst financial mistake you made?
How many characters do I have?  Ok, ok, just teasing. While I do have a couple to choose from, I’ll say that taking on a $400k mortgage in my 20’s ranks up there pretty high.

What is the best financial move you have made?
Now THIS one is easy.   Continue reading

Posted in 10 Questions | Tagged , , | 15 Comments

Thursday Rant: SpongeSister Strikes Again

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

Yes! Yes!! YES!!!

Yes! Yes!! YES!!!

I try to stay away from speaking negatively about Mr. 1500’s family. They are his to complain about, and I really have very little to do with them on a regular basis. But this one in particular bothered me, so here I go.

Mr. 1500 has two sisters. The older of the two has a track record for choosing horrible boyfriends. They don’t abuse her, but they are not the right fit for her (or anyone else with more than 10 brain cells). She has been with her current guy off and on for about 5 years now. He is the one who never stops watching TV, and they pay $350 per month for their cable bill.

She came out for a visit a few weeks back, and lamented that she is done with him because he never wants to do anything but watch TV. She said she was planning on moving out at the end of that month. Continue reading

Posted in Bad Role Models, Mrs1500, Rants | Tagged , | 38 Comments