10 Questions with Steve from ThinkSaveRetire.com

Today is the 4th edition of our new periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 NEW 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. (If you have already answered the first set of 10 questions, please feel free to answer these new ones.)

Today’s 10 Questions features Steve from ThinkSaveRetire.com. Like many of us, Steve started out on the wrong path. However, at the ripe young age 33 he has seen the light and is now pursuing early retirement full throttle. Way to go Steve!

think-save-retire

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great

I run ThinkSaveRetire.com. This is a kick-butt blog because it keeps me honest every step of the way. I made a vow to myself to post virtually everything that I buy, whether a wise expense or otherwise. The last thing I want to do is publish a financial mistake and be relentlessly ridiculed for that dumb decision that I made that winded up costing me some of my hard earned dough. My readers love to keep me honest, and that’s why I love them so much.

For example, here’s how my wife and I are going to Glacier National Park for $11.20 a piece.

And this one talks about some of my bone-headed financial mistakes of…THE PAST!

I am especially proud to write about my retirement renaissance, and how I turned my life around and got back on the gravy train to early retirement, baby!

What is the best financial move you have made? Continue reading

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Thursday Rant: My Hate-Hate relationship with mainstream money media

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 8.24.41 AM

Hmmmmm…

 

Continue reading

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Interview with Gangster Collins, Part Three: Blues Brothers, black holes and a book contest

Welcome to final part of the interview with Mr. Collins. If you haven’t read the previous two, check them out here and here. Mr. Collins also answered my 10 Questions.

In this post, you’ll learn about:

  • Mr. Collins’ music preferences: Does he prefer Country or Western?
  • Gangster Collins favorite Geto Boyz song
  • The Triumph that was a failure
  • More about FY money

Bonus book contest!: I am going to give away 3 copies of Mr. Collins new book. The first person to give me a correct answer to each of the questions below wins a signed book. Leave your answer in the comments. From easiest to hardest:

UPDATE: All questions have now been successfully answered. Good work, especially on the black hole one. You people know your stuff! I’ll reply to the winners in the comments end of day.

  • What is the name of the Country and Western bar in the Blues Brothers movie?
  • When Mr. Money Mustache asked for a guest post, what compliment did MMM pay to Mr. Collins?
  • Mr. Collins has professed his love for physics. Somewhere in this post is a reference to astrophysics. It is obscure, but if you’re a science geek, you may just get it. Hint: It has to do with black holes.

 

The original FI Gangster flashing some FI signs. Don't mess with this guy.

The original FI Gangster flashing some FI signs. Don’t mess with this guy.

Mr. 1500: You and I both have ties to Chicago. No film is more Chicago than the Blues Brothers. Is your favorite kind of music Country or Western? Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Chicago, what is your favorite hot dog place? Also, please don’t tell me that you out ketchup on your hot dogs.

J. Collins: Yep. Chicago is my home town and I still have fond memories of the place. I grew up and spent my single adult years there. No better place and still my favorite large city in the world. Not that I’m biased.

And, of curse, this being the case I loved the Blues Brothers. Classic Chicago boys at play.

I’m afraid I’m not much for either Country or Western music, although as I described in this post – http://jlcollinsnh.com/2011/06/22/the-worst-used-car-ever/ – I once tried very hard. A pretty blonde girl was involved: Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: What do you drive (and one more thing)?

I want, I want, I want.

I want, I want, I want.

Mr. 1500 coming at you this week to ask about your wheels. I’m surprised we haven’t already asked this. Maybe we have? I really don’t remember and Google is saying that we haven’t, so I’m going to ask it anyway. Besides, I’m exhausted after a day of hiking and working on our house.

Anyway, I finally drove a Tesla recently and it was astounding. This thing is a technical marvel. However, first I’ll turn it over to Mrs. 1500 to respond to last week’s questions.

Last week we asked what is the income disparity between you and your significant other, inspired by a Dear Abby letter from a woman who feels that since she works so hard to make $XX, she doesn’t want to date anyone who makes less than she does. Mr. 1500 has always made more than I do (did) but it was never an issue between us. He knew I wasn’t dating him for his money. (It was for his dinosaur collection, of course.)

I wondered what you all thought, and you did not disappoint. Debtless in Texas‘s wife makes more than he does, to the tune of 5 digits! Go, Mrs. DiT. But he also had a really amazing comment, “I would much rather have someone who makes less than I do and saves 80% of it than someone who makes more and spends 120% of it.”

Charles Makes Sense said, “There is no income disparity in our house, even though my paycheck accounts for 99% of our current income. In our house, what’s mine is hers and hers is mine–we make the same amount of money, and we always will. In our view, being married means we have everything in common, and that includes income.”

I actually got several responses similar to this, “What’s mine is theirs and what’s theirs is mine.” I totally get that, and that is how the 1500’s view money as well. I stay home to raise the girls while he works. Our littlest starts Kindergarten in the fall. As luck would have it, she just missed the birthdate cutoff last year, so she will be almost 6 when she starts Kindergarten. She will be going to full day Kindergarten, and I will have to find something to occupy my time.

I am trying to build up a real estate business, and our local real estate market is ridiculously hot. This is good if you are a seller, and great if you have clients. If you are just starting out, in a town you just moved to and don’t really know many people, this isn’t such a great thing. Everyone and their mother is a real estate agent. Anyone you meet already knows 15 other real estate agents. I got my license to facilitate our own property purchases, but it would still be nice to sell a house every once in a while.

Several people made the comment that perhaps the woman from the original letter had been used by men for her money. That is certainly what it sounded like in the letter, but the way she phrased it made it seem as though anyone who didn’t make the same money she did was automatically discounted. That just seems snobby to me.

What about people like teachers? They make nothing, and the things they have to put up with from the kids and parents is ridiculous. My sister is a teacher, and the things she tells me makes me want to slap some of these parents. I would much rather be with a teacher, who was passionate about their work and a genuinely nice person on top of that, than some high paid executive who was a massive tool.

The income disparity among readers varied greatly, from almost nothing, to more than 21 times their partner’s income. Holy cannoli!

(Note to Zaxon, did you propose yet?)

Yes, it actually has an "Insane" mode. And let me tell you, I made the most of it.

Yes, it actually has an “Insane” mode. And let me tell you, I made the most of it.

And now back over to Mr. 1500 to discuss cars. I’m glad he gets to talk about cars to you for a while. Believe me, there is no shortage of car-talk in the 1500 household…

Electric madness

A couple weeks ago, I drove a Tesla P85D. This is the new, 691 horsepower, all wheel drive version of the Model S. I even got to try the new Insane mode on an autocross course. It was mind blowing. If I wasn’t so addicted to saving, I’d pry 10% off my money pile and go buy one. That would be ridiculous though. I will buy an electric vehicle at some point, but that is a story for another time. The Tesla deserves a post all its own.

So tell me, what do you drive? Let us know make, model and how many miles. Bonus points will be awarded to those who own a vehicle with a manual transmission.

One more thing

A rare selfie. Please don't make fun of my hairy legs

A rare selfie. Please don’t make fun of my hairy legs

Some of our blogger buddies are coming in from out of town and we’re planning a little get-together this Saturday evening.

There will be food and dinosaurs. I’d love to meet some new frugal friends. If you can make it to Boulder County, hit me up over on the contact page.

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Thursday Rant: Greatest hits, sort of

Confession #1: While this blog is about early retirement (and fart jokes), when I started writing, I had deep doubts about whether I could actually leave my job at the tender age of 43. The concept just seemed so foreign and crazy.

Out for a walk...

Out for a walk…

However, my mind is changing.

One effect of writing about personal finance is that I pay close attention to the financial habits of others. The main thing I’ve learned is just how different I am from most people. Two things really stand out and I’ll bet these resonate with you too:

Saving money makes me happy

When people buy something, we get a little shot of dopamine in the grey matter which gives us some temporary happiness. Who knew that crazy consumerism all boiled down to brain chemistry?

When I hit the Submit button to send some dollars over to an investment account, I feel really good. I suspect that it’s the same kind of happiness that others get from buying stuff.

I’ve always been this way. I’ve always had jobs and enjoyed the game of earning money. Seeing a pile of cash (I like to think of it as “untapped potential”) grow ever higher feels really good.

I prefer lifestyle deflation to inflation Continue reading

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Interview with Mr. Collins, Part Two: 50 Shades of FI

Welcome to part 2 of the interview with Mr. Collins. Be sure to check out part 1 if you missed it last week. In this week’s post, you’ll learn about:

  • The future of Mr. Collins’ epic Stock Series
  • The Mr. Collins Beanie Baby
  • Mr. Collins’ upcoming book. Rumor is that it will be just like 50 Shades of Grey, but you know, personal finance related. Here is a sultry sneak preview (make sure the children are in another room):

JLC-243x300“Does this mean you’re going to buy stocks tonight, Christian?”

Holy s***. Did I just say that? His mouth drops open slightly, but he recovers quickly.

“No, Anastasia it doesn’t. Firstly, I don’t buy stocks, I buy index funds…”

 

Mr. 1500: Mrs. 1500 is very stubborn. Like a mule, but without the unpleasant smell and better looking. However, I’m even worse (on all three of those fronts). It takes a strong argument and sometimes years before I will change my mind on certain things. One of those “things” is investing. However, your stock series really struck a chord with me. Despite my short term success (luck?) as a stock picker (“short term” is key here), I’m in the process of dumping most of those risky investments for index funds.

Your epic series started April of 2012 and the most recent update (#27) was published just last November of 2014. So, I have some questions surrounding the piece:

  • I have heard that you started the blog as a way to help your daughter. Is this true and if so, was she what you had in mind when you wrote the series? Has she read it?
  • Does the series have a finite end?
  • Do you still own any individual stocks (The horror. The horror.)?

Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: What is the income disparity between you and your significant other?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today. I am looking to see if you are with someone who makes a similar income as you, or is there a significant difference. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

But first, let’s see what you look for in a neighborhood. If you will recall, last week we talked about meeting our new neighbors, and one of the reasons they chose the buy on our street was because of the work being done to other houses on our street. Namely ours.

Mrs. PoP from Planting our Pennies looks for “…Older, smaller home with good bones, lots of natural light, views of nature in a nice neighborhood with no HOA that I could jog to the beach without crossing any major streets from.

Mrs. Frugalwoods says, “We definitely wanted a house we could improve ourselves! Our current place was the lowest price per square foot for sales of habitable homes in all of Cambridge the month we bought it. We absolutely wanted something with the potential to appreciate in value–and boy has it. We also sought out an up-and-coming neighborhood, the gentrification of which has added to our home’s increase in value.

Reader Beth writes, “A mixed neighbourhood. I like neighbourhoods with larger buildings and houses as well. I’d like to avoid areas overpopulated with students, but close enough to the colleges/universities, a bus route and walking distance of amenities so I can rent the place later on if I choose. I too would like to be in a neighbourhood that’s on the upswing.

Mrs. SSC is looking for “…a house with good bones, that won’t need walls moved, but we are hoping to be able to do some major renovations – to turn it into our style. So, looking for outdated bathrooms, kitchens – stuff that will help us get it for a good price! Continue reading

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10 Questions with Flipping a Dollar

Today is the 3rd edition of our new periodic guest post series called 10 Questions. We have a list of 17 NEW 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. (If you have already answered the first set of 10 questions, please feel free to answer these new ones.)

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 doing the intro today. Flipping a Dollar is my new favorite blog. I love the finding-the-needle-in-a-haystack concept of purchasing items at the thrift store and garage sales and turning around and selling it for big money on eBay.

Dollar Flipper had a great series recently about brand names to look for when thrifting, along with what to look for in each item and what sells best.

So without further ado, here is Dollar Flipper from Flipping a Dollar, to tell you all about himself.

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
I blog about re-selling items I find at garage sales, thrift stores, and flea markets on eBay (mostly) and Amazon. My blog is a good place for anyone who’s into re-selling, from the beginner to the expert.

It’s a better option than the thrifting Facebook groups that are out there. These groups will bombard you with information about items that you should be on the lookout for “BOLOs,” but someone who’s still learning won’t understand why the items are selling and can make a lot of mistakes. I give context to each item and point out the pitfalls too. I try to go over the process of selling on eBay instead of just the buying. Buying is all too easy (and fun – search for YouTube “thrift haul ebay” – it’ll get your hopes up plenty), but if you buy a ton but don’t list it, you can easily become a hoarder! I try to reign people back in so they can get a realistic idea of how they can make money re-selling online. Continue reading

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Thursday Rant: My chunky ass

I had two experiences recently that let me know that I wasn’t in the best of places.

Snowboarding Struggles

IMG_20150311_203159464I went snowboarding in late December when I realized something horrible about myself. If you’ve ever been snowboarding, you know what part of the ritual is plopping your butt down in the snow so you can fasten your bindings. When I did this, my gut got in the way. I had gained so much weight that I was having a hard time bending over to reach my boots. My stomach fat was blocking the motion. I sat there and considered the situation for at least a couple minutes. I was not happy. And my butt was now wet.

The first thing I did when I got home was weigh myself. The scale blinked a distressing 176.o at me. An all time high. I have a light frame, similar to a skeleton with some skin and facial hair. I wear 156.0 much better.

75 year old gym rat

This month, I was at the gym pedaling away on the stationary bike. There was a lady on the one next to me. I’m competitive in all aspects of life, so I snuck a glance to see what level she was pedaling at. If you’re next to me on the stationary bike, we are racing. Continue reading

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Interview with James Collins from jlcollinsnh, Part One

I have known about James Collins (I’ll refer to him as “Mr. Collins” from this point forward) from almost the start of my blogging career. I learned about him while I was reading through Mr. Money Mustache and stumbled on his guest post. I remember clicking over to his site and reading a bit. Eventually I made my way to his Stock Series. More on that in a moment.

Real Life Mr. Collins

Screen Shot 2015-03-09 at 9.56.22 PMSometimes I worry about meeting people in person. I don’t want the image I have of them to be shattered if they turn out to be a jerk. So at my first FinCon (Woodstock for financial bloggers) back in 2013, I was a bit apprehensive to talk to people. However, like 99,9% of the folks I’ve met in the personal finance community, Mr. Collins did not disappoint. Mrs. 1500 and I enjoyed the conversation we had with him and then repeated it at FinCon 2014. If you ever have a chance, I highly recommend you meet Mr. Collins in person, perhaps even at one of his Chautauquas in Ecuador. I’m planning on going in 2016. However, I have another mission today. That is, to promote Mr. Collins and his views on investing.

Mr. Collins convinced me to change direction

I’m a stubborn dude and it takes a lot to change my mind, particularly about money. However, I come here today to tell you that Mr. Collins’ Stock Series changed my mind. When I started this blog in January 2013, I barely knew what an index fund was. Now, I’m in the process of shifting most of my investments to them, mainly based on the teachings of Mr. Collins.

The paradox of the stock market is that the simplest way is the most effective way. Index funds were popularized by John Bogle and have lately been famously praised by none other than Warren Buffett. They are dead simple and amazingly effective. Isn’t it great in life when the right answer is the simple and easy one?

“There seems to be some perverse human characteristic that likes to make things difficult.” -Warren Buffett

“My advice to the trustee could not be more simple: Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s.) I believe the trust’s long-term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions or individuals – who employ high-fee managers.”

-Warren Buffett in the 2013 Berkshire letter

Mr. Collins was kind enough to answer my 10 Questions last month. However, I wanted to learn more and was thrilled when Mr. Collins agreed to an interview. This was originally going to be one post, but things got out of hand to the tune of 6000 words, so I’m breaking this up into 3 parts. Today is part 1. I hope you enjoy it.

Warning: Mr. Collins is no stranger to profanity including the real F-bomb (not my click bait). If you are offended by rough vernacular, please avert your eyes. Or, at least refrain from sending me hate mail! However, if you can handle the F-bomb, do yourself a favor and watch the YouTube clip I’ve included below. This 1 minute of video will teach you everything you need to know about financial independence. And colorful metaphors.

Enough babbling, let’s kick this thing off! In part 1 of this 3 part series, you’ll learn about: Continue reading

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