Four Day Kitchen Remodel

I love to challenge myself! I strongly believe that we get better when we push our comfort zones and stretch our limits. If you’re just moving with the crowd, you’re going to arrive at the finish line with the crowd. No thanks.

Dinosaur Bob, my tile assistant

Dinosaur Bob, my tile assistant

I like working in short, intense bursts. I can’t stand it when projects drag on and on. This means that when I start something, my days go from 5am to 10pm in a mad rush to get the project behind me while still putting in at least 8 hours at my normal job.

Over the weekend, I finished the floor tile in two bathrooms. Mrs. 1500 grouted today and sometime tomorrow, we’ll go from having 1 toilet to 3! Happy, happy day!

The grouting has commenced

The grouting has commenced

However, the next project is right around the corner. It’s the kitchen. Our current one is ugly, ugly, ugly. The cabinets are worn out. The tile looks like it belongs in a fast food restaurant. We don’t like the layout. This weekend, everything changes. Starting Friday evening and over the course of the next four days, I’m going to attempt to remodel my kitchen. Here is what I need to do: Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: What do YOU want to know?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today, getting kind of a late start this morning.

Today, I want to know what YOU want to know. Are there any questions you are grappling with, financial or slightly otherwise, that you would like to pose to the readers?

But first, let’s recap last week with Mr. 1500′s question, How do you keep track of your spending?

Mario from DebtBLAG recommends Mint.com, saying “It’s far more powerful than people give it credit for. It’s got lots of options for customization, entering cash purchases, splitting up purchases (if, for example, you put a whole dinner for four on your card and accept cash), and so forth.” Emily from EvolvingPF, Mrs. PoP from Planting Our Pennies, and Refine. Rinse. Repeat. all give Mint their thumbs up, too.

Allie from Allie’s Everyday Adventures and reader Nicki both recommend the GoodBudget app, which allows you to set up virtual envelopes, fill them with “cash” and as you enter your purchases, it deducts the cash from the appropriate envelope. It is available for both iPhone and Android phones.

Mom over at Three is Plenty recommends You Need a Budget. This app for your phone costs $60, but is “worth it” according to Mom. She describes it as “fundamentally envelope budgeting.” Reader Mary says she cannot rave about YNAB enough and Reader Lou really likes it because you can plan a budget in advance.

Jen from JenSpends uses Mint but doesn’t like that she cannot plan budgets in advance, and that sometimes it has difficulties connecting to certain accounts. She is waiting for YNAB to go on sale. Thanks for that tip, Jen.

There were plenty of you who just use a spreadsheet on your computer, or paper and ink like we do. Mint seems like a really handy tool, if you don’t need to make future budgets, and YNAB seems like a great way to keep to a prepared budget. Thanks for all the responses!

And now to this week’s question. I started this whole Ask the Readers way back when I wasn’t sure if I should hold a garage sale or just donate to charity all the things we didn’t need. After the overwhelming majority of you said to donate it, I did just that.

But I have asked all the questions I have wanted to ask so far, and a few weeks have grasped at straws. So I am turning it over to you. Do you have any financial-related questions to pose to the readers? Anything you are struggling with? Let’s hear them, and I will ask them, starting in two weeks. Next week we will recap our meeting with the brewery/pizza place and ask if you would invest, given all the information.

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10 Questions with Big Guy Money

Today is the 25th 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 find that most people don’t really change. Reinventing yourself isn’t easy and most people stay who they are, good or bad.

Eric from Big Guy Money isn’t like this. He has made some painful mistakes, but recognized them and chose to become a better person. He shares his stories in brutal detail.

As you may have inferred from his blog name, Eric is also a big guy (take a look at his bench press goal (!) below). So, if you ever find yourself wandering the plains of North Dakota and happen to run into him, reach up high and give him a pat on the back for all of the positive changes he has made.

Big Guy Money Family Logo

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

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Thursday Rant: Spendy Encounters of the Third Kind

I hear people yap all the time about how they have issues with money. It comes in many forms: “I can’t make ends meet!” “I need a second job!!” “The car payments are overwhelming!!!” However, in almost every case, there aren’t really issues with money…

We really love our neighbor. She’s a great grandmother who I’ll call Julie. Unfortunately, she’s going to move soon, partly because of poor decisions by her granddaughter. The granddaughter is who today’s post is about.

Encounter #1

armadatower

Spendy Encounters of the 3rd Kind*

I first noticed the granddaughter shortly after we moved in last June. She dropped by Julie’s home to drop the great-grandchildren off. I immediately noted her car, a Nissan Armada (base price almost $40,000). It was jacked up and had a $2,000 set of wheels on it. The truck was outfitted with all kinds of other fancy stuff. It looked ready for a safari. She was either wealthy or a big spender. I hoped it was the former. Continue reading

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Performance Update 15/50: March Crapness

My main goal is to build a portfolio of $1,000,000 in 1500 days with no debt*, starting from 1/1/2013. Every month, I provide an update on my status. My goal for 2014 is to get my portfolio up to $768,536. Because we saw exceptional returns in 2013, I have accomplished this goal. Time to look back on the month of March.

The goal

In March, my retirement pile was brutally assaulted on 2 fronts:

  • My cash pile was depleted due to home construction expenses. I had a bunch of bills to pay and pay I did to the tune of $25,000 (wow, I hate writing these checks!). I’ll still have other expenses (flooring, trim, railings, sigh…), but I shouldn’t have to dig into my savings again. I hope to start building my cash back up again as the year progresses.
  • My investments also took a hit as my tech heavy portfolio got walloped. This is a bit of a relief actually. The markets, especially technology stocks, were (still are) overheated.

201403 chart

Here are the numbers as of 4/1/2014: Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: How do you keep track of your spending?

photo (4)Two weeks ago, we asked you about investing in a local business. A local pizza place/microbrewery is looking for investors to help open a new location. While I’m intrigued, I also know that we must proceed with extreme caution. This is something that the Mrs. and I know almost nothing about. However, we received great responses. Here are some of our favorites.

Dave from New York Budget made a couple really good points that resonated with me: Continue reading

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Thursday Anti-Rant: New Friends and California Dreamin’

We’re on Spring Break now and it’s pretty great. We found cheap airfare to San Diego, so we jumped on a plane and aren’t straying very far from the Pacific Ocean our whole time here. As I type this, I can hear the waves rolling in about 100; behind me. If I lived near that sound, falling asleep would never, ever be a problem.

New Friends

Are Ya Gonna Eat That? Heck yes I am (and already did)!

Are Ya Gonna Eat That? Heck yes I am (and already did)!

In the past week, the wife and I have had a chance to meet some people who we’ve connected with through this blog. First, we met J and L who came to our hometown. They are actually considering moving to our neck of the woods and we showed them around our little city. In San Diego, we met up with Anna from Are Ya Gonna Eat That?

Now, I have a bit of a confession. Continue reading

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10 Questions with Michelle from Fit is the New Poor

Today is the 24th 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 Michelle from Fit is the New Poor. Michelle is on a quest to pay off a mountain of debt and ‘afford all of the shoes’. I can completely relate to the debt because just a mere decade ago, I had a pile of college loans about the same size as Michelle’s tormenting my finances. It sucks. It really sucks. However, it’s pretty neat and inspirational to see Michelle chip away at that evil mountain.

Because I can be happy with 2 pairs of shoes, I cannot relate to her other goal. But again, I’m a guy and I’m sure Michelle doesn’t share my obsession for remote controlled vehicles of all types and mobile operating systems. To each, his or her own!

However, Michelle and I do agree that:

  • Chicago and its food (oh Portillo’s and Pequod’s, I miss you both immensely) are both pretty awesome
  • Wes Anderson is making some of the finest films around
  • Paris is spectacular
  • Ikea is it’s own circle of Hell

Take it Michelle!

Oh wait, one more thing. I LOVE cookies (I eat boxes of those coconut Girl Scout things, you know, the ones in a purple box, in a single sitting). As soon as I get back from our vacation in San Diego, I’m going to whip up the recipe that Michelle has included below.

Read on.

fit

Tell me about your blog (Fit is the New Poor) and why it’s great. 
I’m not financially savvy at all. That’s really not a good selling point, but I am like most people my age. I have no idea how retirement plans work, and I have little experience in investing. I think that me going through the process of becoming an “adult” with my money could give courage (or at least a good “what not to do”) to others my age. 
 
What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?
I’d start by paying off all of my student loans and credit card debt. That still leaves me with enough money to buy my mom a new car, invest in some property, and put the rest in to various investment fields (with the help of someone so much better at this stuff than me). 
 
What is the best financial move you have made?
To be honest, it’s not buying a house. Many of my friends my age have bought houses recently, and I have seen many regret it. After a year, many of them put their houses back on the market because they wanted to move or they couldn’t afford the mortgage. I’m glad I didn’t fall in to the get married, buy a home, and have babies routine. 
 
What is your favorite place to vacation?
My favorite place in the world is Paris. I’ve been there twice now, and I’m already talking about going back. I am a big city person, but I also love vintage charm and open air feelings. Paris checks all of my boxes. 
 
What is your fondest memory?
My first niece being born is engraved in my mind. I was 15 at the time, and I had just gotten my driver’s permit. My dad wanted to take me out on a practice drive out on the back country roads. About half way through my first drive, my dad got a call from my brother letting us know that my niece was on her way. My dad grabbed the steering wheel and wildly veered me off the road. Without telling me what was going on, he got out of the car and made me switch. However, I had no idea how to put the car in park, so the car just rolled a bit and almost hit me. We got to the hospital with about 10 minutes to spare before Madison was born. 
 
What are your biggest goals in life?
Professionally, I want to be a writer. I’d love to publish a book one day. If I could write about anything, it would be a Lincoln biography, but that market is pretty saturated. Outside of my professional life, I want to afford a lifestyle that allows me to travel and see the world. I want to continue discovering. 
 
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be? 
I would probably yell at myself about some of my fashion choices… but really, I would tell myself to be brave, to stand up for myself, and to not be afraid of what anyone thinks. Younger self has potential and the power to be awesome. 
 
What is your favorite movie? 
Ooo! This is a tough one. I am a big fan of Wes Anderson movies. I cry every time I watch the end of Life Aquatic, and I can quote almost any line from Rushmore.
 
What advice would you give a 24 year old self just out of college?
Considering I’m just 26, I would tell myself to start concentrating on an exit strategy. At 24, I had just started a job that I thought was awesome because it paid me to do nothing. But that shine will wear off fast, and I will spend two years picking up the pieces. 
 
What is your favorite recipe?
I’m Italian. My zia Pina used to make these amazing cookies around the holidays. When she passed, I was distraught until my aunt dug up the recipe and gave it to me as a wedding shower gift. Here is the famous Pina cookie recipe!:
  • Flour, 5 cups
  • Butter, softened, 3/4 cup
  • Baking soda, 1/2 tb
  • Eggs, at room temp., 4
  • Lemon extract, 1 tsp (or more for flavor)
  • Sugar, 1 1/2 cups
  • Milk, 1/2 cup
  • Vanilla frosting of your choice
  • Sprinkles (optional)
1. Mix flour and sugar in a large bowl and cut softened butter. Mix until it makes crumbs. 
2. Beat eggs and mix in milk. Add lemon extract. Slowly pour in to dry mix while blending until it makes a sticky dough.
3. Refrigerate the dough for one hour.
4. Drop dough in larger pieces on to greased cookie sheet, bake at 325 degrees for 13-15 minutes. Watch the cookies carefully because they burn easily. The cookies are done when the  bottoms are a golden brown. 
5. Frost lightly and add sprinkles.

Thank you for your contribution Michelle! Be sure to check her out at Fit is the New Poor, on Twitter and on facebook. And Michelle, next time we’re in Chicago, we’ll meet you at Pequod’s. Thick crust is required. Do not think of suggesting any other style!

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How to Kick Ass at Work

“Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.” – George Carlin

photo (25)I saw this quote on The Simple Dollar recently and unfortunately, it really hits home. We have a big remodel going on and I try to do as much as I can myself. I’ve already run the electricity and plumbing. Soon, I’ll be painting, tiling, hanging doors and putting up all of the finish trim. However, I can’t do it all myself and in almost every case, the people who I hire are a disappointment.

  • The HVAC guy has been at it for over a month and still isn’t done. When I do see him, he regales me with tales of trips to Mexico and California. Mr. HVAC guy, I love travel too, I really do. However, I’d really like to have heat in half of my home. It wouldn’t kill you to work past 4pm.
  • The roofing guy doesn’t live anywhere near me, but that doesn’t stop him from only working 3 or 4 hours per day. When he does show, he whines about how he ‘underbid the project.’ Mr. Roofer, if you worked 8 hours a day, this would have been finished in under a week. If you stretch it out to a month and have to make 20 round trips to my home, you’re not working efficiently. Your problem, not mine.
  • I’ve spent many hours fixing the sloppy work of Mr. Buttcrack Builder. Much of his work was poor. Even worse, some of it was dangerous.

I don’t operate like any of these people. If you’re not going to do it right, even if it’s a lowly task like scrubbing the toilet, don’t bother with it at all. Do your best at everything in life. At the end of the day, you have to live with yourself.

All of this got me thinking about my own principles and how they helped me get ahead.

How to Kick Ass at Work Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Would you invest in a local business?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 once again, asking if you would invest in a local business. But before I give you all the juicy details of my opportunity, let’s recap last weeks answers.

If you recall, last week I asked you how you handled being “The Rich One.” The one in your group of friends or family that saves your money, rather than spending at least all you have. People notice that you don’t have a brand new car, or new clothes all the time, or designer watches, purses, shoes, etc. They make comments, they chide you for being a saver, but most of all, they expect YOUR money to be spent on them. So how do you deal with it?

save. spend. splurge. said “You call them out.” Her brother would always let others pick up the tab, until she finally made him do it. She is sure he has finally figured out that he needs to pay his own way now that she has said something. YAY!

Done by Forty agrees that sometimes, you get a sense of pleasure being able to treat someone. But when it isn’t my idea to do the expensive thing, it really doesn’t make me feel so good to foot the bill.

Reader Renee has family that just assumes that since she attended college on a bunch of scholarships and has no student debt, and since she doesn’t have cable and rents a cheap apartment, she should pay for everyone. She has explained that isn’t the way the world works, and thinks she might be getting through… Good luck. I would love to hear about how you made it through school without debt. Continue reading

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