Roadtrip: Part 1

Ask the Readers takes a break for a couple of weeks while I’m on my trip. Instead, I’ll regale you with tales from the road.

I loaded the girls into the car bright and early on Thursday morning. We spent an evening in Ankeny Iowa before moving on to the Twin Cities.

 

Adventures in the Land of Uff Da 

I’m looking Iowa, and feeling Minnesota*:

Question that people frequently ask me: Are you a farmer?
Me: No, but I play one on TV.

I don’t stay at the Bedbug Inn. However, I really hate staying at luxury hotels where there is a charge for everything. A hotel must have free Wifi and breakfast:

Yes.

 

Pancake Miracles

And what wonderful times we live in: I had never seen this device before, but the Pancake Machine was a little miracle: Continue reading

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Friday Gratitude with My Son’s Father

Today’s dose of gratitude comes from My Son’s Father(MSF). MSF is quickly making a name for himself with his awesome Lego skills:

As a father of two young children, I can totally relate to MSF’s post. Kids tend to be selfish creatures, so instilling a mindset of gratitude isn’t easy. I like MSF’s approach so much that I’m trying it in my own household.

Take it away MSF!

Gratitude is a muscle. The more you use it the stronger it becomes. However, when you don’t use it, atrophy sets in. When that happens, less desirable mindsets can lay claim to your perspective.

Sometime last year I noticed this happening with my two boys. A few of their comments betrayed a less than impressive outlook: they were becoming ungrateful. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I also heard a hint of entitlement.

Entitlement? Not in my house!

Action needed to be taken, so I began mentally preparing a twelve-point lecture about how good they have it (the tone of which was eerily similar to Mrs. BITA’s letter to herself). After a two hour lecture they’d surely see the error of their ways, right?

Okay, so a 6 & 7 year old might not respond to this approach. Really, no matter what their age, they wouldn’t respond to this approach. But something had to be done. Continue reading

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All-Time Highs!

Not that kind of high! Just because I live in Colorado where the green stuff is legal doesn’t mean I partake. I can see where you might think it though given some of my posts. No, I’m talking about market highs.

The Market is High!

I have a friend in his late 20s who is trying to time the markets. To this I say, consult the experts.

Warren Buffett:

We continue to make more money when snoring than when active.

Our stay-put behavior reflects our view that the stock market serves as a relocation center at which money is moved from the active to the patient.

Peter Lynch:

Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves.

This one from Alan Abelson is great:

Do you know what investing for the long run but listening to market news everyday is like? It’s like a man walking up a big hill with a yo-yo and keeping his eyes fixed on the yo-yo instead of the hill.

But the best argument against market timing is in the chart:

Even major pullbacks gradually become minor blips over the very long term. Read more of what I think about over on InvestmentZen.

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Performance Update (Day 1580): Chaos in FI (Flatulence Independence)

My main goal was to build an investment and cash portfolio of $1,120,000* in 1500 days**, starting from 1/1/2013 and ending in February of 2017. I made my goal last year and my 1500 Days are over, but in the interest of openness, I’ll continue to share my numbers.

Leaving formal work has been wonderful, great, super, fantastic and awesome. But there was a period of adjustment. I should have sat around for a week did nothing except for eat Cheetos and watch TV (Mmy fingers aren’t orange and the TV remains asleep, so I did neither).

I tried to do everything else though. And it didn’t go so well. First though, let’s start with some fart humor.

 

Flatulence Independence

I joined my daughter at a museum sleepover with her school. Right before bed, we watched the Fart Presentation. The Fart Presentation was a talk given by a scientist about farts and other disgusting body functions. The kids loved it (who am I kidding, so did I!):

Then came bedtime. We all camped out on the floor in front of the museum’s display cases:

Sleeping in front of the turkey exhibit

My stomach was grumbling with incredible gaseous distension, but my moment was about to arrive. As soon as the lights were turned off and I had the freedom of anonymity, I expelled gas with wild abandon:

Welcome everyone to Fart Presentation, Part 2!

The audience was receptive (giggles everywhere). There was even an outburst of:

Check your pants! I think you sharted!

The things I do to entertain children…

 

Here is What Else I Did

Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Summer?

There are a lot of things that I look forward to in life post-job. Near the top of the list is slow travel. During the year, I’m grounded because the girls are in school. However, the kids get out of school next week and we’re not wasting any time.

We leave the day after they get out. I’m going to tell you about my big travel plans. First, we must get to the question from a couple weeks ago: What would you still not do, even if money was no object?

Reader Wendy said:

I would still clean my own place, wash my own clothes, buy & cook most of my own food, etc. I can’t fathom outsourcing basic care of myself and my possessions unless I physically lose the ability to do it.

Ms. Montana from Montana Money Adventures would still shun “luxury” items:

Most any luxury clothing items or jewelry. Spending $800 on sunglasses or for $1500 uncomfortable shoes would make me feel like an idiot and a sucker.

Reader Nancy S. shared:

If money were no object I still wouldn’t do my regular grocery shopping at Whole Foods or other fancy grocery stores. I just can’t see paying a premium for basics like paper towels and canned beans.

Not paying for luxury items seems to be a theme. (Not really a surprise there, though.) Reader Spiffi says: Continue reading

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A Swift Kick in the Pants (with Mrs. BITA)

Mrs. BITA came up with an awesome Friday Gratitude post! It’s so awesome that I’m publishing it a day early. Thanks Mrs. BITA!

Last week was a rough week at work. Deadlines were looming, unreasonable demands were lurking behind every cubicle wall, and panicked managers were scheduling a meeting a minute. During the accumulation phase of financial independence and early retirement, there is nothing like Corporate America at its very worst to make one feel a close affinity to Sisyphus. The last straw that broke this camel’s back was when we were handed our annual performance evaluations and my salary increase and stock grant were lower than I expected. By the time the weekend rolled around I was a whining ball of discontent.

I’ve spent the last few days realizing that I was behaving rather badly. So when Mr. 1500 gave me the opportunity to write a Friday Gratitude post, I jumped on it.

I’m going to write to myself, to remind myself of all the reasons that I have to not be a thankless, dissatisfied brat.

Dear Ingrate BITA,

I love you. You know I do. Use that as lubricant to make it easier to bear what is to follow.

Yes, you suffered through a few meetings that made you want to smack your head against a wall repeatedly. Yes, your raise was smaller than you expected. Boohoo. Allow me to remind you that you and Mr. BITA have set a goal of saving $160,000 this year, and in the first third of this year you were more than halfway there. You are trying to save more than most folks on this planet make in a year. So no, you entitled brat. You don’t get to whine about a smaller-than-you-would-have-liked raise. You get to be extremely grateful every minute of every day for the extraordinary luck that has put you in the position to save as much as you already do.

Putting aside the money for a minute, how about some gratitude for Toddler BITA?

When you and Toddler BITA took a walk early last week, you chanced upon a worm. Toddler BITA bent low to examine it with the respect all worm-like creatures deserve, and then announced that it was a ‘dead worm’. Later than night, at the dinner table, it occurred to you that you didn’t know what exactly Toddler BITA thought dead meant. So you asked her. And she said, “It means so long”, and, when questioned, steadfastly refused to elaborate. You weren’t sure if she was being deeply philosophical, or just a weird toddler. A few days later, Toddler BITA was playing with the toy pictured below – those are gears, she calls them ‘flowers’:

As she started playing, she informed Mr. BITA that she was going to make a ‘flower dead’. Confused, he asked if she meant a flower bed. She looked at him with pity, sorry that he was so slow on the uptake. She built out what you see above and then said, “See! A flower dead. It is so long.”

Do you remember how you both laughed till your stomachs hurt? How is that gift of laughter not something to be extremely grateful for? Continue reading

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Dialing it Back

Ask the Readers returns next week. I need to dial it back, just for a moment…

Above all, post-life work has been stupendous. It took me about 2 milliseconds to forget about my job. Formal work ended 31 days ago, but it feels like years. (Mrs. 1500 note: I told you!)

I didn’t sit back and rest for even a moment. On the weekend after I left my job, I joined older daughter for a sleepover at Denver Museum or Nature and Science:

Camping out in front of a wild turkey exhibit

I then went to Wisconsin to see Jim Collins and The Wealthy Accountant. I also checked out an Acura NSX that happened to be close: Continue reading

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Interview on My Sons Father

I stopped my 10 Questions series earlier this year. Recently, another blogger, My Son’s Father (MSF), asked me if he could carry it on. While he certainly didn’t need to ask for my permission, it was a nice gesture.

Today, I answer MSF’s questions. Click over to learn:

  • Why I never kill spiders
  • My hottest stock tip for 2017*
  • What song I want played at my funeral
  • The secret and surprising relationship between dinosaurs and financial independence**
  • What I’m insecure about
  • A really good fart joke***
  • My favorite post

What are you doing still here? Click over to My Son’s Father to read this titillating post!

*Lies

**More lies

***Even more bullshit!

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Ask the Readers: What Would You STILL Not Do, Even if Money was no Object?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

So Mr. 1500 and I flew to Florida last weekend to watch the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting with Mr. and Mrs. PoP from Planting our Pennies, Bryan from Income Surfer and Brian from Grumpy Goat Coffee. (Because we’re all dorks.)

Fast times in PoPland

But before I ask you about today’s question – and how I came up with it – let’s hear from Mr. 1500 and the answers from a question posed two weeks ago, How did you discover the FI movement?

Slow Dad found the message through JD Roth:

I’d just worked out the pending arrival of my second kid meant my existing financial plan wasn’t going to scale.

Around the same time I heard JD Roth on some random podcast I had stumbled onto while searching for details on fixing a broken client website hosted on Bluehost. From memory I’d googled bluehost web hosting and landed on one of those awful “this is how you set up a personal finance blog in 5 minutes” posts.

I gave it a listen, figured most of the “get rich from blogging” stuff the host was blathering on about was bullsh*t, but couldn’t so easily dismiss JD’s message.

Researching that led me to the usual suspects: MMM, Jim Collins, AffordAnything. I’m not a fan of minimalism myself, but the rest of what they discussed held up pretty well to scrutiny.

A few years on I’m FI myself.

Like most of us, Reader Adam was led to the light by MMM: Continue reading

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Friday Gratitude with Coach Carson

Today’s edition of Friday Gratitude comes from Coach Carson. I added some happy photos from a recent trip to Wisconsin.

When Mr. 1500 wrote his first Friday Mindfulness post, I was impressed. He said he wanted to regularly share the good things in his life in order to make himself happier. Here were his words:

In an effort to be happier, I’m working at being mindful of all of the great things going on in my life and beyond. It isn’t easy, but these post help me ignore the crap and focus on all that is good.

When I saw the post I quickly messaged Mr. 1500 and said: “I want in on this!” After all, plenty of scientific research shows that regular practices of gratitude boost your happiness and well-being (check out this summary at Harvard Health Publications). I didn’t want to let Mr. 1500 hog all the happiness to himself!

So, here are some random Friday Gratitude/Mindfulness notes of my own, primarily related to money and the FIRE community.

Lake Michigan shore at dawn

Winning the Ovarian Lottery

Like Mr. 1500, I follow Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger regularly. Buffett has a habit of telling people how fortunate he was to be born in this particular time and place. He calls it “winning the ovarian lottery.”

I couldn’t agree more. And I’m very thankful for this in my own life.

In his biography, The Snowball, Buffett explained it this way: Continue reading

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