Performance Update 45/50: Claw Machine Scheme

My main goal is to build a portfolio of $1,120,000* in 1500 days**, starting from 1/1/2013 and ending in February of 2017. I made my goal a couple months ago, but believe that it’s a worthwhile exercise to continue with my financial updates until the end of 1500 Days, so I continue.

It’s time to take a look back at September. But first, I must discuss a recent confrontation that I had with the immortal enemy of all parents, the claw machine.

Claw Machine Scheme

Everyone knows that the claw machine is a silly waste of money.


This evil device exerts a magnetic force on children. Within a millisecond of spotting one:

Mom! Dad! Can I have some money to play the claw machine!! Please! Please!! PLEASE!!!

My answer is always:


Well, almost always.


A month ago, our youngest child (D) spotted one of these dreaded devices and as usual, begged for money. My ‘No’ was followed up with a lecture about how no one ever wins anything. My words fell on deaf ears.

Then, I started thinking about it. Maybe letting her lose, just this once, wasn’t such a bad idea. I could use the experience as a teaching tool. After she lost, I would have a little talk with her:

  • Certain things are just there to steal our money: The claw machine is a child’s version of the lottery. It is false hope.
  • Compound interest: I’d tell her how much money she’d have if she invested the $.50 instead. Not much, but to a 6 year old, a couple dollars is big-time wealth.
  • The futility of life!: No one ever wins at the claw machine, and no one gets out of life alive. I know, too deep for a young child, so maybe I would have held off on that one…

Anyway, I gave D the $.50 and observed. With great excitement, she put the quarters in and grabbed the controls. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Why FI?

Why FI??!!! Really Mr. 1500, what a crap title! Can’t you come up with anything better?

Yes, that is another horrible title. What I’m really asking is this:

Why do you strive for Financial Independence?

As crazy as it sounds, when I started this blog, I didn’t really know what my goal was. I was running away from a stressful job, but not running toward anything except a big pile of money. Money is a facilitator, not an end.

I’m in a better place now. I keep track of all of my post-job goals and dreams in online document called FI. It has over 100 items in it now and grows every week. I have some core goals that are at the top of that list. A trip last week made one of them clear, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

First I must get to my favorite responses from last week’s question; do other’s judge you? I wanted to know if you’ve been called a cheapass or some other lovely name because of your frugality. Here is what you had to say:

Mr. Tako:

Sure, I’ve definitely been judged for being frugal. I’ve been called “cheap” or “stingy” way too often!

But it’s water off a duck’s back. I didn’t get to multiple millions because I cared much what other people thought.

Reader SJ:

My mother is most critical of my lifestyle. To be fair, she’s always judged me, but when I became an aggressive saver she really got annoyed.. and annoying… it obviously got under her skin and made her hyper sensitive to her own life failings and uber nit-picky with my behavior.

I’ll bet SJ’s mother is angry at herself for her own shortcomings, failures and regrets.

Mrs. Picky Pincher reminds us how different we all are:

I get judged all the time. In fact, it’s so bad that I can’t even tell my coworkers any details about my life, for fear of letting the frugal cat out of the bag. I was dumb enough to mention our renovation was financed with cash, and they looked like they’d been hit by a car. Once I accidentally said we’re paying off our student loans in a year, and the room actually went silent.

Reader Beth:

I once had a tow truck driver give me grief about being able to pay for an unexpected tire repair without even flinching. “Must be nice to have a car repair fund.” grumble grumble grumble.

I bit my tongue but was put off by his response. Why yes, it is nice to have a car repair fund. It didn’t fall out of the sky. I didn’t win the lottery. It was planning and money management. When you drive a 12 year old car, that’s just what you do.

And finally, Mike Hardy makes a nice point:

True excellence in any endeavor (FIRE or profession or sport or etc) requires large set of behaviors that are different from the norm (or they would generate mediocrity) so pursuing excellence will always make you different, eventually you won’t be able to hide it, and differences get teased. C’est la vie


Why FI?

Continue reading

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10 Questions with How Do I Money?

This is the 66th edition of our guest post series called 10 Questions. It also will be one of the last. Everything must come to an end and 10 Questions will say ‘”Good bye!” near the end of 2016. If you’ve already sent me your answers or told me that you’re going to be doing so, don’t worry; I’m still going to publish you.

Today we hear from Derek at How Do I Money? Derek and his wife Carrie get down to the brass tacks about finance on their blog and podcast – which is one of my favorites!

Derek and Carrie are a shining example of what TO do with your finances after you are married. They started off their marriage going through a short sale of Carrie’s home – possibly the most stressful start to a marriage ever. They came out on top, even more in love, more trusting, more committed – and you can hear it in every episode of their podcast.

Derek, take it away!

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
I’ve been blogging & podcasting about money for five years now.

It wasn’t until I read an article that said two-thirds of the population doesn’t do a monthly budget, lives paycheck-to-paycheck, and can’t cover a $500 emergency that I came up with the idea for How Do I Money.

I was talking with my wife about the article and said something brilliant like, “Maybe we need to dumb it down and keep dumbing it down until everyone gets it.”

That’s how How Do I Money was born.

We write about, podcast about, and teach the basics of money and we plan on sticking to the basics forever. The basics are so important and will always be important no matter where you are on your financial journey.

Our tagline is pay off debt, grow your net worth and have fun doing it! Continue reading

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Guest Post: Fear of Financial Independence

Today is a guest post from by buddy Eric over at I loved Eric’s story at first read. By the age of 30, he had created a mini real estate empire and became financially independent. He also knows how to live. These lines from his About page put a huge smile on my face:

I sometimes will work for two weeks straight, wake up early, and work tirelessly. Other times I take trips for no reason other than to have a new experience. That’s the great part about independence, we are free to do what we want.

This is good too:

I’m free to travel anywhere I want to travel or live anywhere I choose to live. In 2015 we decided to go on a trip across the country. We literally left the following day. That trip was my first time going to Texas, and my wife and I fell in love with it, so we decided to stay. Three weeks after getting back to Massachusetts, I was already back in the car headed to Texas.

Eric is one guy who’s doing it right. Instead of being dragged around by life, he’s making the most of it.

In today’s post, Eric writes about the fear of financial independence.


Fear of Financial Independence

Screen Shot 2016-06-11 at 4.59.02 AM


I’m writing this because Mr. 1500’s recent post really got me thinking about judgement, financial independence, and people’s mentality.

A few months ago one of my good friends told me about a conversation of which I was the subject.

An acquaintance asked him what I do for work. This acquaintance swore that I must be a CIA agent because I “live a life like 007”.

From his perspective I never work, I travel the world and the U.S., and every time I come up in a conversation I’m off doing something else cool.

My life isn’t actually that interesting. It’s just coincidence that I come up in conversation 4 or 5 times a year and I happen to be doing something cool. I probably get mentioned specifically because I’m doing something cool, hence the coincidence.

But the funniest part of it all – my good friend couldn’t really answer the question. He doesn’t really know how or where my money comes from – he just knows that it’s somehow related to rental real estate. To him, it’s like magic that money appears in my account every month.

This got me thinking more about financial independence

Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Do Others Judge You?

Last week, Mrs. 1500 asked if you’re judgmental of others. I am super judgmental, more on that in a moment. First, Mrs. 1500 is here to discuss last week’s answers.

OK, so now for my part – last week’s answers to the question, “Do you ever feel judgmental about money?

A little backstory, The 1500’s went camping and I was hit with a major flashback to our Douglas County days – where everybody spends all the money they have like there’s some unspoken neighborhood contest.

It was obvious that many of our fellow campers knew each other, and were trying to impress each other with their campground decorations. Reader Chris questioned the strength of this story, and I guess anyone who didn’t live in this neighborhood may not fully understand it. It doesn’t seem all that big a deal if people want to spend hundreds of dollars decorating a campsite.

I was judging them based on my Douglas County experiences. And I was SUPER judgmental when I lived there.

I read a lot of good answers. Kate from Cashville Skyline said she was called out by her sister for doing this recently. She continued, “It’s none of my business if other people don’t want to save for their future.”

The control freak in me disagrees, but the teeny smidge that’s rational agrees with this completely.

Jon from Be Net Worthy comments, “That’s one of the downsides of running a personal finance blog, the judgement! I am definitely more aware of what other people are doing and how they are spending their money.”

I think I was always conscious that other people spent more money than I did, even before this blog. Maybe I’m just super judge-y. I can’t change other people, I can only change myself. (Who am I kidding, I can’t even change myself…)

Mrs. Picky Pincher starts her reply with “Ayuuup” which reminds me of the Stephen King book Pet Sematary (and this is the second time that book has come up…) She continues, “I really try to mind my own business, but it’s hard not to be judgmental when you see people making spendy choices. My issue is that it appears they don’t know another way–I have an internal struggle debating whether I should let them know there’s another way or if I should keep my mouth shut.”

How many of us had any sort of personal finance education in our younger lives? 0%? 1%? I just want to share what I know. Of course, I am not so receptive when I’m on the other end, and I’m a terrible teacher, so it comes out all preachy and judge-y…

But there were a few completely different arguments that resonated the most with me. First was from Full Time Finance, who said, “I remind myself that I don’t know their circumstances.” I really can’t add anything to that.

Financial Panther said, “I’m big on the concept that personal finance is personal. What I value isn’t at all what someone else might value, so I try not to pass any value judgments based solely on what people choose to buy.”

Amanda from PassionatelySimpleLife said, “Yes, sometimes I just need to get off my high horse and realize that a lot of people have made money related mistakes, including me.” I’ve made quite a few stupid money choices in my life…

And Done by Forty feels that it should be fair game… “I’m super judgmental with some of my friends’ decisions with money — but often, it’s justified. Like, not in a subjective, this is my opinion way…objectively justified. So whatever: judge away, right?

Everything else in life is free game for judgment: political views, whether an action’s moral or not, the way people dress, whether this movie or song is cool or not. I mean, with so much at stake with our finances, why not subject that area of our lives to the same critiques?”

And Joe from Retire by 40 threw it back at me… “Even when I’m judgmental, I keep it to myself…mostly… *cough* lake house *cough*” Touché, Joe.

Back to Mr. 1500 for this week’s question.

Ask the Readers: Do Others Judge You?

I am really judgmental. I keep it all to myself, but I can’t help but think bad thoughts occasionally. I started thinking about why and I came up with two reasons: Continue reading

Posted in Ask the readers | Tagged | 53 Comments

10 Questions with The Biglaw Investor

Today is the 65th edition of our guest post series called 10 Questions. It also will be one of the last. Everything must come to an end and 10 Questions will say ‘”Good bye!” near the end of 2016. If you’ve already sent me your answers or told me that you’re going to be doing so, don’t worry; I’m still going to publish you.

Today we hear from The Biglaw Investor. The focus of his blog is a little different than most Personal Finance/Early Retirement blogs – he writes for the high income professional.

He’s a lawyer by day (and night because lawyers work 1000 hours a week) and blogs in his spare time about the surprisingly common money issues that high income professionals experience. Take it away Biglaw!


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
I blog at The Biglaw Investor and talk about lawyers and personal finance, including financial independence and other challenges associated with having a high-income. I’ve found that when you’re making a lot of money and living in a high cost-of-living city it’s easy to waste a lot of money.

“Biglaw” is a term used in the legal market to define working for a large law firm (usually over 100+ attorneys) that pay market salary.

What’s market salary?

Here’s some legal industry gossip for you: every Biglaw lawyer gets paid the same amount of money and gets automatically promoted each year. It’s a weird system.

In case you’re curious, the current Biglaw salary scale is as follows: Continue reading

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Other Stuff

Other Stuff.

That is the worst title ever in the history of blogging.


For me, creativity comes in waves. Sometimes, I’m overflowing with ideas. Other times, I come up empty. Sometimes, I can come up with 5 great post ideas in 5 minutes. Other times, I think all day and can’t come up with a decent title. I’m in a trough today, at least when it comes to clever titles.


Some days you ride the wave. Other days, the wave rides you.

Anyway, I thought that I’d fill you in on some of my other appearances around the web.


Adventures in Stock Picking (@ InvestmentZen)

I don’t discuss it very much, but I used to pick stocks. I still hold most of them. And, I’ve done really well. This year, I’m beating the S&P 500 by 10% in my stock trading account. The green line represents me:


eTrade account for 2016


In 2015, I beat the S&P 500 by 26%:


eTrade account for 2015


As an experiment (more on that later), I opened an account with Motif and created my own mini-portfolio. This experiment is young, but I’m killing it there too:


Blue line is my portfolio


Despite my success, I’m an indexer now. Why would I change? The reason is simple and timeless; I think that I’ll make more money over the long term as an index investor. Read why over at InvestmentZen.


Mad Fientist

In case you missed it, the Mrs. and I interviewed the Mad Fientist for his own Financial Independence Podcast.


In the interview we discussed:

  • the Fientist’s childhood
  • how he acquired Fientist superpowers (nuclear accident)
  • why someone would get an advanced degree from an Ivy League school right before retiring (the Mad Fientist isn’t really mad, but I think this is slightly insane)
  • the joy of reading IRS documents
  • boxers, briefs or unfurnished basement?


I’m in South Africa!

Not really. However, I am on a blog that is based in South Africa. My friend and TEDx speaker Angela, featured me in her Spotlight On series. In the interview, you’ll learn about why we downsized homes, but 40 months later, are still decluttering.

Big old house, new small house (before remodel)

Big old house, new small house (before remodel)

Less is powerful. Less is beautiful. Less is great. Less is more.

Except when it comes to blog titles.


Posted in InvestmentZen | 19 Comments

Interview with the Mad FIentist

The Mad Fientist and I go far back, all the way to 2013. Don’t judge; that’s an eternity in internet time. We met at a blogging conference in St. Louis where we drank too much beer and stayed up too late (this pattern repeats every time that we meet).

In 2015 the Fientist interviewed Mrs. 1500 and I for his excellent Financial Independence Podcast. The Fientist and I were both terrified (nothing scares Mrs. 1500), but we got through it. Beer helped:


On stage in Charlotte (shout out to Pliny the Elder!)


Last month, the Fientist let me turn the microphone on him. Our podcast timeslot was set for 10:30 in the morning, so unfortunately, Pliny the Elder didn’t make a repeat appearance. Despite the lack of beer motivation, we had a great time:


Note the awesome t-shirts that Brandon and I are sporting!


On the podcast, you’ll learn about: Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Do you ever feel Judgmental about Money?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

screen-shot-2016-10-09-at-8-29-04-pmActually, we’re tag-teaming this post, so Mrs. 1500 will be here in a moment to recap last week’s answers to the question, “Has Money Changed You?

But this week’s post, coupled with a camping trip last weekend made me realize that I am starting to become super judgmental about how other people spend their money.

But first, let’s look at last week. Take it away, Mr. 1500!

Mustard Seed Money stated something that I’ve been thinking about for quite a while now. That is, money gives us the security to let our real selves shine through. I think I’m more real now that I’ve even been:

On the flip side I feel like I can take more risks on projects since I’m not as worried about a paycheck. This has worked in my benefit since my risk aversion has greatly diminished and I am more comfortable speaking my mind at work.

Reader G-dog makes a good point in that it is impossible to separate money from our lives:

How do you separate the money from everything else – age, experience, self-esteem, relationships, etc.?
I think I am less anxious, I pay less attention to money on average, I pay more attention to investing, I am not as driven as when I was younger.

Physician on Fire’s mentality echoes mine. I too had a lake house, but like him, I just don’t care what anyone else thinks now:

To be honest, now that I have more of it, I feel no need to show it. When I first started making money, I had to have the big waterfront home. Let the world know I’d arrived.

Roadmap2Retire shared my financial insecurity:

I used to spend many a nights worrying about my financial situation dreaming that I would go broke. Now that we are much more comfortably and stable financially, those nightmares are gone

And Jeff from Jersey commented on the Porsche GT4 that I was carsitting:

How are you restraining yourself from not having your own “Mr. 1500’s Day Off,” and taking that garage sitting Porsche out for a spin? Just make sure to drive it home backwards to roll the mileage back. (hehe)

Jeff, you have no idea. I had all kinds of crazy, devious and wicked thoughts about the GT4. That Porsche and I were going places. Mountain roads, sweeping country highways and hell, even the Taco Bell drive-thru. Then, my friend took the keys with him. Hey friend, if you’re reading, just kidding! Maybe…


At least Spendosaurus got to pose, Tawny Kitaen style, on the hood of the Porsche

So back to this week’s question: Do you ever feel judgmental about money? Continue reading

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10 Questions with The Picky Pinchers

Today is the 64th edition of our guest post series called 10 Questions. It also will be one of the last. Everything must come to an end and 10 Questions will say ‘”Good bye!” near the end of 2016. If you’ve already sent me your answers or told me that you’re going to be doing so, don’t worry; I’m still going to publish you.

Today we read about the Picky Pinchers, a name I was always curious about.

Turns out, they are picky about which pennies they pinch, and this makes a ton of sense. Personal finance is p-e-r-s-o-n-a-l. What means a lot to you might mean nothing to someone else. YOU get to choose what you cut back on and how you spend your money in general.

Save money where you can, so you can spend it on things that matter. Be picky about the pennies you pinch, and it isn’t so difficult to stick to the plan to achieve the goal. Nice.

Anyway, here is Mrs. Picky Pincher.


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
While Picky Pinchers focuses on money-saving topics, I also focus on living consciously and avoiding consumerism. I believe it’s okay (and encouraged!) to be Picky. The frugal life isn’t about depriving yourself. Picky Pinchers is all about teaching people to live a full, rich, and Picky life that enables them to pay off debt, save money, and retire early.

It’s also about throwing in good puns, like dulce de lechwhey.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
I want my blog to come off as fun and approachable.

I’m an avid reader of Mr. Money Mustache, but I think I found him to be a bit intimidating when I was first starting out! That lack of confidence made it difficult for me to embrace frugal changes.

So I consider my blog a success if I can reach out to at least one person who doesn’t think they can live this lifestyle, and show them that it’s possible. If I can do it (while being a very Picky person!), they can, too.

It’s a small goal, but it’s something that I really care about.

Continue reading

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