Ask the Readers: Are you Creative?

I’ve been thinking about creativity lately. As explained on Wait But Why, there are basically two types of folks in the world, chefs and cooks. Chefs invent the recipes while cooks follow instructions. Chefs are the creative ones, coming up with new ideas through experimentation, trial and error.

Creativity is powerful. It is underestimated and under-appreciated. Most of us accept the status quo and refuse to flex our creative muscles.

More on this in a moment.


Last week

Last, week, I asked you if you were in tune with your body. I also discussed poor conversation skills and truck nuts:

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Here is what you had to say:

Matt from Distilled Dollar passed on some Warren Buffett wisdom:

If we can improve our communication skills by 50%, we are guaranteed to double lifetime income. I got that wise idea from Buffett.

Eric from poses an interesting point. I think he is on to something. If you’re at a dinner party, do you really care to hear about your Anne’s job at The Yarn Barn? Probably not. But, perhaps we act interested for some ulterior motive (Anne can get you yarn discounts or makes really good cake). I’m too tired right now to think about it much, but under the surface, there is a lot going on.

Reading this article makes me wonder… does anybody really care about what other people have to say?

Reader Daniel Patton likes Seeking Wisdom (book I mentioned last week) and also recommends Nasim Taleb. I haven’t read any of Nasim’s works yet, but other smart folks that I know have mentioned him, so I’ve added Nasim to my list:

In terms of books, Seeking Wisdom is so good. One of the few I will revisit often.
Also, anything by Nasim Taleb.

Finally , Gwen from Fiery Millennials took the day with her comment. I mentioned that Truck Nuts happen to come in different colors and she had this to say: Continue reading

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10 Questions with InvestmentZen

Today is the 49th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. 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 of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

Today’s 10 Questions features Nate from InvestmentZen. Nate is an interesting cat. He went to university, but bypassed the traditional job route completely in favor of starting businesses/entrepreneurship. How cool is that? People who retire when they’re 35 are living incredible lives. However, skipping the cube farm altogether takes it to the next level in my book.


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
Why is the blog great? I don’t know if I can say it’s great – it’s a constant path of gradual improvement, but we do try to find kick-ass writers like Mr. 1500* who share certain core values and work with them to publish good stuff.

Speaking of which, hey Mr. 1500, is it too early in the interview to start throwing in my own pitch? It’s never too early you say? In that case, if you have an interesting personal finance story or investing case study to share and you want to publish a guest post, feel free to reach out to me at nate [at] I’d love to hear from you!

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
We want to spread the word that if you make the right choices, money can work for you, instead of you having to work for money.

We want to spread that message by tying financial lessons into interesting stories and case studies. How do you get people to eat their financial literacy veggies when everyone wants junk food? Continue reading

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Performance Update 40/50: Dumpster Fire Edition

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. Every month, I provide an update on my status. It’s time to take a look at April.

Urban Dictionary, tell the readers what a Dumpster Fire is (Caution: naughty words ahead):

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Urban Dictionary never fails to amuse my juvenile sense of humor

So yeah, my stock portfolio has been a dumpster fire lately. Not good.

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Apple: The iPhone, Apple’s cash cow, has probably peaked. It is somewhat reassuring that one of Warren Buffett’s lieutenants (Ted Weschler or Todd Combs) just bought a billion dollars in shares for Berkshire Hathaway.
Dumpster Fire Rating:  Mostly smoke. This one isn’t going to burn the portfolio down.

Lending Club: The CEO was caught up in some naughty, naughty business. So far, it isn’t looking good for him.
Dumpster Fire Rating: Small inferno. Keep back people. This one could get worse…

Solar City: This company issued crappy guidance and is burning through loads of cash in it’s very own dumpster fire. Mr. Market is not impressed.
Dumpster Fire Rating: Not as hot as the Sun, but getting there. This fire will either be extinguished or this company’s story will flame out in blaze of gory dumpster fire glory.

Tesla Motors: Mr. Market doubts Elon Musk’s ability to produce the Model 3 in mass quantity. Musk hasn’t always been on target with his dates, but I have a feeling he’s going to pull this one off. Don’t bet against Musk. The dude lands rockets after all.
Dumpster Fire Rating: Nowhere near as hot as a lithium ion battery fire.

These dumpster fires are precisely why I don’t do much stock picking any more. Almost all invested money since I started this blog has gone into index funds. Simple, easy and effective. If I want to play, I buy sector specific funds like VGT.

Dumpster Fire Update: April!

April was a down month. My investment portfolio started at $1,111,360 and ended the month at $1,102,113: Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Are you in Tune with your Body?

Two weeks ago, I asked you what you’re reading. Before I get to your answers, I have to tell you why I asked. Before that though, here are some cool pictures that I took on a brief jaunt to Utah last week:


Have you ever met someone who doesn’t know how to have a conversation? Instead of even acting interested in what you’re saying, they just wait to talk bleat. Here is how conversations are supposed to happen:

  • Me: I went to Utah last week to learn how to take better photos.
  • You: Cool! Where in Utah did you go?
  • Me: Moab. It was great! Lots of rocks to photograph and the night sky was beautiful. I even saw a shooting star that briefly lit up the sky.
  • You: Neat, I’d to see some of your pictures!

Here is how it goes down with someone who doesn’t know how to converse: Continue reading

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10 Questions with The Frugal Vagabond

Today is the 48th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. 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 of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

Today we are visited by The Frugal Vagabond. I LOVE this guy. I’m a super real estate geek, and he writes about real estate, so right there we’re already practically best friends. Then he went and wrote a post about integrity in the Personal Finance Blogosphere. (There’s a link in the article.) I really enjoyed reading through his blog, and have made it a bookmark – something I never do. (Mrs. 1500)

The Frugal Vagabond

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great
The Frugal Vagabond is equal parts travel hacking and personal finance blog.  While my fiancé and I are aggressively pursuing early retirement, we’re also finding creative ways to avoid compromising our shared passion of exploring the world and making real connections with people everywhere we go.  We save over 50% of our income, but we also use credit card rewards, error fares, and lateral thinking to go on exotic vacations as often as we can, too.  It’s really important to us to show people that you can live a rich, exciting, and fulfilling life while pursuing early retirement.

Whether it’s travel or finance, I’m always trying to think what I wished someone had explained to me when I started out.  In particular, the world of real estate investment (one of our primary paths to FIRE) is designed by that industry to be opaque.  Everyone is looking to cash in on the perception that real estate is confusing and heard.  I want to break every step of our journey down to manageable, easily understood parts.  That was the inspiration for a lot of my real estate articles.  I hope that I can help others to take their first steps in real estate without feeling intimidated or frightened. Continue reading

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The Joy of DIY

I’m taking a brief break from blogging while I finish one last home project. More on that in a moment.

Want to retire early? One of my best tips is this:

Do it yourself!

Here are some things that I do myself:

  • Mow the lawn
  • Cut my hair
  • Change the oil and perform maintenance on the cars
  • Basic repairs around the house

Twenty dollars here and twenty dollars there add up to tens of thousands over decades.

My favorite DIY activity is home improvement. For most* projects, If I can do something, there is no way I’m paying someone for it. The advantages are many:

  • Saving loads of money: In many projects such as tile setting, electricity and plumbing, the labor costs far more than the materials. By doing these tasks and others myself, I’ve saved at least $100,000 on my own home remodel.
  • No unreliable contractors: Ever have workers not call you back, not show up or not honor the terms of their contract? For me: All. The. Time.
  • No sloppy contractors: Many times, the “pros” aren’t so professional. Take your time and you’ll do a great job.
  • It’s not hard: The best tool in the world is free and it’s called YouTube.
  • No contractors having mental breakdowns in your driveway: Yes, this happened. I hired some guys to help me with framing. Halfway through the project, one of the guys found out his wife was cheating on him. This led to some interesting screaming episodes among the workers. It was like having a live soap opera right in the driveway.
  • Tremendous sense of achievement: It is wonderful to step back after you’ve completed a big project and look at your work.

Anyway, I’m now working on my final major project! Holy crap, it feels good to type that. We’ve been at it for almost 3 years, far longer than I anticipated. But now, we’re near the end.

Our home has these ugly 4×4 posts holding the roof up around the deck:


Every time I look at them, I cringe in horror. Continue reading

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10 Questions with Financially Alert

Today is the 47th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. 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 of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

Late last year, my family and I spent some time in Southern California which also is the home of Michael from Financially Alert. I took the opportunity to meet Michael on the rooftop deck of a microbrewery right next to the Pacific Ocean:

beer + ocean views + great conversation = Perfect Afternoon

Michael is an inspiration because he has crossed over the threshold to FI and retired. How cool is that? So many of us write about it, but few of us have taken the leap. Way to go Michael! Keep kicking ass in life!

Any maybe most importantly, Michael brought me delicious, homemade chocolate chip cookies. That will take you a long way with me. A very long way.


Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
The dream for my blog is to help as many people as I can to find financial freedom as quickly as possible.

Screen Shot 2016-05-07 at 6.30.38 AMI define financial freedom more as a mindset, rather than a number. Being financially free simply means you no longer worry about money as a necessity, and have the ability to actively pursue work that you love.

Financially Alert is my site where I share openly my own personal journey to financial freedom at the age of 29. I also am documenting my journey to financial independence and actively pursuing a net worth goal of $10M. It is my sincere hope that this full transparency helps to inspire you to take action towards your own goals. If I can do it, anyone can!

My mission is to help you to appreciate the present, celebrate your progress (large or small), and embrace challenge and adventure. The path to financial freedom is one sought often, but frequently travelled. I’d like to be your guide along the way and help you maximize your true potential. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Read anything good lately?

Hoooooo, weeeeeee!!! I type this from Omaha where I’m at the end of a little road trip. First, I drove from Colorado to Chicago with a pit stop in Wisconsin. I spent the week in the Windy City doing actual work (shudder). On Thursday, I jumped back in the Honda Element and headed west. I stopped here in Omaha where I met Mrs. 1500 to attend the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting.  Other friends attending included Income Surfer, Even Steven and the Penny Planters.


Berkshire Hathaway is Warren Buffett’s little holding company and the shareholder weekend is always a blast. On Saturday, we attended the actual meeting followed by a Mr. Money Mustache meetup.

Frugalsaurus and Spendosaurus ham it up for the camera

Frugalsaurus and Spendosaurus ham it up for the camera

I made a horrible mistake when I formally committed to the Berkshire 5K by paying the $50 entry fee. No backing out after I parted with the money.

On Sunday, the day of the 5K,  I woke up to horrible weather. It was cold and raining. I am a poor athlete to begin with, so I dreaded the 5k and now it would be even worse. It was all downhill from there (except the actual 5K, which was mostly uphill). A couple minutes before we departed, I realized that I didn’t pack my knee brace that holds the IT band syndrome at bay. Shit! Continue reading

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10 Questions with the Finance Zombie

Today is the 46th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. 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 of them. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.

Today, for the first time, we feature a zombie! Not just any zombie though, the Finance Zombie! Everyone knows that the undead have an appetite for brains. Not many know that zombies are also financial wizards. Today’s zombie comes all the way across the pond from the UK!

The Finance Zombie

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
First of all, thanks so for much for having me.  Hello Mr and Mrs. 1500days and 1500days readers, all the way from the west coast of England.  It’s like London, but with much, much, more drizzle.

I started the finance zombie around September 2014, following some pretty intensive reading sessions in the summer.  One lunchtime at work was spent researching saving strategies for retirement, in truth I was looking for a little pat on the back,.  I was saving 20% towards retirement and knew this was more than plenty of my peers, so assumed I was some kind of savings god.

“You are a Mega Savings God” – is what I wanted confirmed by the Internet.

Talk about a smack upside the head.

Meh, you are ok” – the Internet told me.I stumbled across loads of blogs about saving for financial freedom or financial independence.  Queue reading for about 3 hours straight then working late to make up for it, haha.  It blew my mind clean off it’s hinges, there were people out there saving more than 50% of their income and there were others who were already ‘retired’, younger than me (I was 32 then) and living the good life.  I was hooked.  So I decided to get super serial about saving and trying to get the option of retiring early. Continue reading

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On bended knee is no way to be free

IMG_20160421_190856420_HDRI’m on the road for a work trip. Flying is boring, so I drove instead. On Friday, I jumped in the old Honda Element and made my way to Iowa. I met up with the Gwen (Fiery Millennials) and Reader Ginnie* for dinner. On Saturday, my first stop was at the the National Motorcycle Museum followed by a quick visit to the takeout counter at Toppling Goliath, a world renowned brewery in rural farm country. On Saturday evening, I met up with Kyle from Kythesis. Kyle treated me to some of his home brewed beer and then we hit the town for some adventure**.

This week will keep me plenty busy, so I’m signing off for now. Don’t worry though; my incessant bleating will return before you know it.

One more thing before I go though. I was listening to random music on the drive. One album which I greatly enjoy is Eddie Vedder’s Into the Wild soundtrack. It occurred to me that the last track, Guaranteed, captures the spirit of FI perfectly. My version of it anyway. What do you think? Continue reading

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