10 Questions with Design Independence

This is the 79th 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!” soon (one more to go!).

Today’s answers from Matt Miner over at Design Independence. 10 Questions is almost over, so I’m going to shut my mouth and turn it right over to the guest. Take it away Matt!

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

I know from personal experience that many high earners (doctors, lawyers, and fancy-pants MBAs) have always focused on growing their incomes, and not their net worth.  Also, many of the mainstream financial pundits are focused on serving the broad middle, and that advice often doesn’t resonate with this crowd, even when they could benefit from it.  High income earners feel like advice directed to folks earning middle incomes is not for people like them.

These big earners have two huge risks to their finances.  First, they may earn an absolute fortune throughout their lives while saving and investing very little of it.  Second and more subtly, they tie themselves to very competitive, stressful work for way too long, and they don’t create a path to exit, when, from the FI community’s perspective, they easily could.  For any of these high-income paths, you lock in at a very young age without knowing how you’ll feel about your vocation in your thirties, forties, or fifties.

On the other hand, if high-earners can catch the vision, they can break free and do a ton of good in the world with their wealth.

Design Independence is totally focused on addressing these challenges.  My early posts begin at the beginning, trying to help people as they’re considering school, while they’re in school, and immediately after school.  I write a bunch about business school because that’s my particular experience, but the topics are highly generalize-able.  I write about other personal finance, business, and life topics too.

What post are you most proud of and why? Continue reading

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I Love Owning a Home

Loads of folks hate home ownership lately. I’m not one of them. Under certain circumstances, a home can be both a place to live and an investment. And I should know; I built the core of my nest egg with live-in flips.

My houses

I buy houses that only a remodeler could love. I think the following are awesome:

  • blue toilets
  • brown appliances
  • peeling yellow vinyl floors
  • nasty smells

I like this ugly bathroom:

Note the damaged drawer.

And I like these ugly cabinets:

Why are the handles on an angle?

I even bought this ugly house:

I like ugly ducks because I can make them beautiful:

And when you make them beautiful, you make lots of money.

Rehabbing ugly spaces isn’t the only way to make money though. If you have the mindset of a dividend investor, house hacking is for you.

Read about my home ownership strategies over at  InvestmentZen.

Posted in InvestmentZen | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Passive Income (and Inspiration) from Laura at Laundromats101

I absolutely love stories of people who are doing great things in life because they work hard and are willing to crunch numbers. I love the story even more if the people behind it are awesome. My friends, Laura and Randy fit this description perfectly.

Awesome story: Laura and Randy went from never owning a business to running two successful laundromats. If you’re interested in owning a laundromat, their site Laundromats101 is an awesome resource. No fluff either. Laura dives into the numbers. She knows her stuff.

Awesome people: I first met Laura and Randy at a blogger conference in New Orleans back in 2014 and liked them immediately. We met again in Colorado a short time later and have since had fun hiking around San Francisco and San Diego.

And I love this guest post from Laura. It’s inspirational and hilarious, but it also details how Laura and Randy took a huge leap of faith to become first time business owners. I hope you enjoy the post as much as I did!

(Photo credit: Me)

There’s an annoying saying that goes something like:

You’ll regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did do. 

(In fact, there are a lot of annoying sayings, but we only have so much time here.)

My best guess is that we find them annoying because we kinda sorta know these inspirational one-liners are probably true, and that fact haunts us a little.

And for me, it began a little over two years ago. I felt stagnant. We had paid off our debt, we were saving over half of our income, and our net worth was slowly but steadily climbing each month. But it was like watching grass grow. Or paint dry. Man does that get old after a while. And when things get boring, I tend to stare off into space and drool a lot. 

I needed something new to get our net worth figure really moving upwards. But new is scary. And I could swear I started to hear those annoying inspirational one-liners in my dreams.

You’ll never know if you don’t try!

The only race you can’t win is the one you don’t enter!

A watched pot never boils!  (Ok, this one is completely unrelated, but thought I’d throw it in for good measure.)

Everywhere I turned, there they were. Facebook, bumper stickers, Starbucks mugs, posters at the doctor’s office. Annoying inspirational quotes plopped on top of a breathtaking photo of a mountain. It’s like when you’re interested in a particular car and suddenly you start seeing them on the road…everywhere.

So it was time to start thinking outside the box. I wanted to increase our income, but selling a kidney or becoming a famous rapper were not on my short list.

Laura’s Swinging Idea

Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: What is your Net Worth?

No holding back here on 1500 Days with the questions we ask of you Readers. Today, we ask a doozy, but first, we must get to last week’s answers when I asked about prenuptial agreements. I asked Mrs. 1500 for one and she was less than happy:

The wrath of Mrs. 1500

If you want to know more about prenups, The Vigilante is a wealth of knowledge:

If you do get a divorce and you don’t have a prenup, guess what? The decisions you could have made together as a couple, when you loved one another, will now be made by the “prenup” built into the divorce laws of your state! And, most likely, the interpretation of those divorce laws and application of them to your divorce will be determined primarily by your own choices (as an emotionally upset divorcing spouse!) and the attorneys who will be hired to represent your best interests under those laws. Personally, I’d rather have that decision be made by two people who care about one another rather than by an adversarial proceeding involving strangers and laws that might be inapplicable to our lifestyle choices!

Read his whole comment here. It’s really good.

Fervent Finance’s thinking echoes mine:

Getting a prenup does not mean you plan to fail. It just means you plan to figure things out ahead of time.


Gwen from Fiery Millennials is kicking ass in life and says yes to the prenup:

Single lady here. I will absolutely expect to sign a prenup. I have worked very hard to get where I am today. In my age group, I’m definitely in the top 5%. Finding a guy with equal status is doable, but difficult. So to protect myself, a prenup will be signed.

Reader Steve saved a lot of hassle because his dad had a prenup:

I thank my lucky stars that my dad had a prenup when he remarried. I regard my step-mother fondly, but administering his estate is hard enough with just my siblings without the extra drama of adding step-brothers and step-sisters

Most of you didn’t get a prenup including Reader Jeff from Jersey:

We have been married for 10 years at this point, and have a three year old son. Before we got married we dated for about 7 years, so we knew each other pretty well. While I am from a divorced family, never thought about needing to have a prenup.

The Tako family also didn’t get a prenup:

A prenup (or even talking about one) definitely sends the message that divorce might be a real possibility…and that’s not going to be a terribly popular conversation topic.

That would certainly be Mrs. Tako’s reaction if I had ever brought it up.

Finally, I laughed hard at Mr. Zero’s comment: Continue reading

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10 Questions with Mapped out Money

This is the 78th 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!” soon (two more to go!).

Today’s answers come from Nick True over at Mapped out Money. Nick is one of the 10 Questions participants who I’ve met in real life. We chatted for a while at a blogging conference in San Diego last year. Like almost everyone else I’ve met through the blog, Nick was someone who I’d invite over for dinner on a regular basis if he lived closer.

After dinner, we’d probably sit down for a game of Monopoly. There would probably be heated moment, but I’m sure we’d get past it. Or maybe we wouldn’t. Maybe one of us would lose our cool and throw a hotel at the other. The one who got smacked in the face with the Park Place hotel would angrily stomp out and we’d never speak to each other again.

Just kidding! Maybe…


Tell me about your blog and why it’s greatnick-pics-11-26-2016-053-small

Over at mappedoutmoney.com, I focus on 2 main things:

  1. Mapping out your money (my way of saying budget/planning)
  2. Self-Awareness about money <— I’ll touch on this in a minute

Investment strategies, tax planning, credit card churning, manufactured spending, and debt paydown are all fantastic things to learn and study. But the problem is that most people never even make it that far. The vast majority set themselves up for failure because they don’t have a realistic plan and they don’t understand their own biases around money.

My goal is to help them change that.

What makes you think you’re qualified to blog about finance anyways?

I’m not. None of us are… And yet all of us are… Let me explain.

Blogging is just a form of story-telling. It’s your story. It’s my story. No, I don’t have any formal financial training or letters after my name. But I have a money story and I intend to tell it. The reason I blog is because I’m not qualified to blog about finance.

My story is that money is actually pretty freaking difficult. Do you understand what I’m saying? It’s actually very hard for us humans to do money well. Yet all these financial gurus want to tell you that it’s easy. Ever been in class and the teacher does this:

Class Really Easy Problem

When a teacher tells you a problem is easy, but you don’t understand, it makes you feel like an idiot. Then you’re afraid to ask questions because it’s supposed to be easy. A lot of people are doing that right now in personal finance. They’re talking about how easy it is to retire early and live the dream. All you have to do is save more money than you spend. See. Easy.

The problem is that practically doing it is extremely difficult and emotionally exhausting. But people are told it’s easy. Then they won’t asking questions or talk about real issues out of fear of embarrassment.

That’s why I blog. I do it for the people like me who are tired of hearing how easy it is and want to learn how to actually do this finance thing.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!). Continue reading

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Redefining Wealth

I googled wealth the other morning and nearly spit out my cereal when I read the definition:


This especially annoys me:

an abundance of valuable possessions or money

At its core. Financial Independence means having enough money to not have to make any more money. Got that? In other words, we worry about/save/invest money when we’re young so we don’t have to think about it later.

Money shouldn’t be the primary goal though. And possessions? Don’t even get me started.

Anyway, in my post today over at InvestmentZen, I redefined wealth. Click over to read my new definition.

Posted in InvestmentZen | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Guest Post: Lessons from a Frugal DIY Renovation

Today’s post comes to us from The Picky Pinchers! While Mrs. Picky Pincher calls me a ‘whiz at fixing up houses,’ I’m not sure about that. I readily admit that my renovations come with no shortage of puncture wounds, trips to Home Depot (sometimes more than one trip in the same hour) and profanity. Lots of profanity. I am no stranger to the colorful metaphor.

And yes, renovating can be tough. Mrs. Picky Pincher hilariously (in retrospect anyway) described it:

Our nights and weekends were consumed with manual labor. Mr. Picky Pincher demoed the kitchen and installed cabinets. I painted and painted and painted. Most days we were nothing more than roommates who inhaled sad little McDonald’s hamburgers together in silence.

But holy cow, look at the before and after pictures. They’ve created some beautiful spaces that they’ll enjoy for many years.


Lessons From A Frugal DIY Renovation

It’s no secret that Mr. 1500 is a whiz at fixing up houses. In fact, it seems like so many people in the FIRE community are into either real estate or house flipping and are regular wizards at it. With so many people to learn from, I figured I had all my ducks in a row when it came time for my own DIY home renovation.

We purchased our first home back in September after much hand-wringing, foot-stomping, cursing, and crying over pints of ice cream. Little did I know, the real work hadn’t even started yet.

While our house was livable, it hadn’t been updated since the 1980s. It also didn’t help that one of the rooms was lime green from floor to ceiling. I’m not joking; look at this mess!

And yes, that is a green popcorn ceiling, ladies and gentlemen. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: About the Time I asked Mrs. 1500 for a Prenup (and a giveaway)

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today.

Mrs. 1500 and I share our dinosaurs. And our finances.

Last week, I asked you if you combined finances with your spouse/partner, or if you kept them separate.

I have my own thoughts on this subject, but I’ve been feeling super-judgy lately, and was really really glad I asked this question. Mrs. Picky Pincher summed up my feelings after reading your responses pretty well,

…But now I understand that all couples work differently. Different strokes for different folks; some people prefer the security of separate accounts. …

I was able to see the other side of the fence from the conversation between The Mad Fientist and his wife in their recent podcast where he interviewed her. She makes a lot of money, and enjoys spending a lot of money – at least in the beginning.

She now sees the power of being Financially Independent, and while she still loves her job and loves to work, she also loves being on vacation, and FI allows her to do that when she chooses, and for how long she pleases.

Holy Cow did you all have something to say about this question. I don’t think we’ve ever had a more popular Ask The Readers Question!

And it didn’t seem weighted toward one side or the other, you are about 50/50 for sharing or not.

Some of you do it because of independent personalities or because you had been living on your own for a long time.

Mrs. S from Royally Frugal:

When we got married we started with separate finances. I have strong fear of not having my own money. Before getting married I was quite independent and we always split every single expense in half. As married life progressed … almost all of our investment is in a single shared account….

I wonder where this strong fear of not having her own money stems from? Did she see a loved one struggle? My best friend in 8th grade’s father left her mother, and it wasn’t financially pretty.

Freedom 40 Guy was the first of many to make a great point: Continue reading

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10 Questions with My Money Wizard

This is the 77th 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 wrap up our 10 Questions series with The Money Wizard, a 20-something who discovered the concept of financial independence and early retirement in his teens – and started planning for it before he even went to college to major in economics and finance.

He freely shares his Magical Wizardly Money Secrets to wealth building – which really aren’t all that magical or secret – that helped him build his net worth, which hovers around $150,000 and that keep him on track to retire at age 37.

My Money Wizard

Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
I started MyMoneyWizard.com when I was 25 year-old, a week after I hit the $100,000 net worth milestone. I’m now 26 and update my net worth numbers monthly.

Readers have described the blog as “hilarious” “fascinating” and “perhaps the greatest website on the internet.” I may or may not have made up all three of those descriptions.

On the other hand, I have actually heard I’m one of the youngest personal finance blogger chasing early retirement. Readers have said my early stage in the journey makes for a pretty relatable story, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!)
I didn’t get serious about blogging until I graduated college and punched my entry ticket into real life. Fresh out of school and with a front row seat to my friends’ entries into the real world, I was horrified by the quick path towards financial destruction they immediately began.

My dream is for MyMoneyWizard.com to play the role of the financial education we all should have received in school. In the very possible chance that I’m writing about a topic you’ve seen before, I hope to provide a fresh perspective. Or at least be a fun work or study distraction for you.

Aside from the investment ideas and money saving tips, I also take on a lot of deeply seeded societal beliefs. Some of the ideas I’ve challenged include why you don’t really want a big house, how to stop wasting money, and the brilliant marketing scam that created the $32,641 wedding.

I feel pretty passionate that the world would be a better place if we all stopped to question these things now and again. Every time a reader tells me an article of mine changed their outlook, it’s an unbelievably rewarding feeling. Continue reading

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Why I Sold my Apple Stock (and my Litmus Test)

I owe you a post on my portfolio. It has changed much since I last wrote about it in December of 2015. For now, I’ll tell you about one of the biggest moves I’ve made in the past decade.

Disclaimer: Do not take this post as investment advice. These thoughts are mine. Make up your own mind.

I am done with Apple. A couple weeks ago, I had almost $97,475 in the company and it was my 3rd biggest holding.


Chart from Personal Capital*.

On January 3rd, almost 10 years to the day I bought my Apple shares, I sold them all**. Now, my top 5 holdings looks like this:

Screen Shot 2017-01-19 at 11.19.23 AM

Bye bye Apple.

Before I explain why I sold, I must explain why I bought.


January 2007

I wasn’t an Apple fan and paid almost no attention to the company until 2006. That year, I started hearing rumors that Apple may be coming out with a smart phone. I was intrigued because the state of smart phones was abysmal. In January of 2007, I watched with the rest of the world as Steve Jobs took the stage and introduced iPhone to the world. I had two thoughts immediately: Continue reading

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