Ecuador Part 2: My Peeps 4 Keeps

You know you’re reading high journalism when the title of the article resenbles a text from a 13-year-old girl. Stay with me folks, it will all make sense. Or maybe it won’t.

I wrote an overview of the Ecuador chautauqua experience last November. Today, I continue with Part 2.

I love Peeps. Who doesn’t? Life doesn’t get much better than a piece of processed sugar (marshmallow) that’s covered in more sugar and then made into the shape of a deformed animal or symbol of love:

What is more romantic than a lump of corn syrup and gelatin in heart form?

Nothing says romance like a clump of processed sugar and gelatin.

Short of eating a deep fried ball of lard wrapped in bacon, there aren’t many things more unhealthy than a Peep. I limit myself to one package a year which I devour in about fifteen seconds. Like a starving savage, I bite the head off before I stuff the rest in my mouth.


Wait a second, what on earth am I talking about? This post is supposed to be about the other kind of peeps; people:


Thanks Urban Dictionary.

Specifically, this post is about the folks I met at the chautauqua in Ecuador. The attendees were what made this event special. Sure, it was cool to fart around the Andes Mountains. And the presentations by the four main speakers were very good. However, the greatest part of the event was the company, even if they sometimes saluted me with vulgar hand gestures: Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Do You Combine Finances With Your Spouse/Partner?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 asking yet another question this week. I want to know if you combine your finances with your spouse or partner.

But first, let’s look at what you said last week, when I asked you What’s the Cheapest Thing You’ve Ever Done?

If you recall, The Mad Fientist met up with his then-girlfriend now-wife in Switzerland, chosen for cheap airfare. They soon discovered that nothing else in Switzerland was cheap, and restaurants didn’t serve tap water. MadFi drank water from the bathroom faucet instead of ordering a drink, in an effort to save money.


I thought this was super-funny, and wanted to know if any of you have ever pulled a super-cheap stunt.

And boy did you NOT disappoint!

Usually I recap in the order I receive the comments, but sorry. Casey B. from CodeAngler wins hands-down with his story:

I’ve many useful items others have lost or discarded. Along High Lonesome trail, I found someone had thrown out underwear as trash. I packed them out as litter, but at home washed them and these are in my rotation.

No contest. Although Reader Shay comes in a close second with her comment Continue reading

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10 Questions with Ten! Factorial Rocks

This is the 76th 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’s interview is with Mr. TFR from Ten! Factorial Rocks. I’ve been out of school for a while and when I first saw the exclamation point after the number 10, I was confused. I kinda remembered that it was some math thing, but my brain was temporarily failing. I closed my eyes, blew out the cobwebs from my neurons and it came back to me. In case you don’t remember, Mr. TFR explains it here.

Mr. TFR, I hope your 10!$ dreams come true!


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My website ( is based on 4 simple maxims that drive my life and hopefully, many other seekers out there:  They are: a) Save Money b) Avoid Traps c) Invest Well and d) Find Meaning (of life, spirit, work, relationships, people….whatever appeals to you).  These are captured in my Ten Factors that outline what my website is all about.

Ten Factorial Rocks (TFR) was created to chronicle my journey towards retirement while sharing my views on the learning’s, absurdities and pitfalls along the way towards my search for a more meaningful life. Wall Street finance and stock option riches have one thing in common – they never passed through my life!

TFR is not just about financial independence.  TFR is also about self- empowerment while getting to financial independence, and our search for a better, meaningful life (of which early retirement is just one milestone).  See why I chose this strange name.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
Screen Shot 2017-01-12 at 1.23.46 PM
I want TFR to be the reliable compass to help anyone navigate the complex, changing and often, confusing world we live in.   My topics cover the gamut of modern life, involving money, work, relationships, investing and also, analysis of interesting news.  

Truth in writing and objectivity in analysis are my anchors that I hope my readers come to appreciate.  I want at least a million readers of my website to have made better decisions in their life journey and live a better and meaningful life! 

What goals do you have for your blog, short and long term?
I started recently but I hope to have 100,000 unique readers for my blog in the short term, going up to 1 million regular readers in a year.  Ambitious, I know, but as you said, dream big or not at all! Continue reading

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Performance Update 48/50: 2016, where did you go?

My main goal is 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 earlier this year, but believe that it’s a worthwhile exercise to continue with my financial updates until the end of 1500 Days, so I continue.

It’s time to take a look at the month of December and 2016.


2016, where did you go?

If there was a theme for 2016, it was that we were extremely busy. Between our jobs, this blog and finishing up our home, we never slowed down. Not very fun. I greatly look forward to taking it much easier in 2017.

Random note: Most of the pictures you see throughout this post are from my 2016 travels.


Sunrise in Salida, Colorado


Money (+$200,000)

The blog is supposed to be about money, sweet money; so let’s start there:

  • Investment portfolio: The non real-estate, non dinosaur part of my portfolio went from $1,057,961 to $1,257,128. Out of the $199,167 gain, about $100,000 came from new contributions. The S&P 500 ended up 9.6% for the year, so after I take into account the cash portion of my portfolio, my returns were similar to Mr. Market’s. Note that my portfolio still has a lot of stocks in it from my old days as a stock picker. See my last portfolio update here.
  • Net worth: My net worth went from $1,307,961 to $1,627,128 for a gain of $319,167 (!!!). $110,000 of this was due to an increase in our home’s value after we completed our improvements.
  • Moving money: I opened a self-directed solo 401(k) to allow for pre-tax investments outside of the stock market. So far, I’ve invested $145,000 in two real estate deals. One is hard money while the other is private equity.
  • Mrs. 1500’s job: The wife found her groove at her semi-new job which has been wonderful. She loves it and her employer is very flexible. We mostly lived off Mrs. 1500’s salary and invested mine.

Thoughts: Because of my new part-time work arrangement, 2016 was the last year for big contributions. This makes me sad because I enjoy deploying money to various investments.

Pismo Beach, California

Sunset in Pismo Beach, California


Life (no more Mr. Wheezy!)

Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: What’s the Cheapest Thing You’ve Ever Done?

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 asking the question today. Brace yourselves readers:


Before I tell you about Mr. 1500’s fancy dinner plans, he needs to recap last week’s answers, when we asked you to Tell us about your amazing 2017 plans! He also asked about you to name our future Komodo Dragons: Continue reading

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10 Questions with The Happy Philosopher

This is the 75th 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’s 10 Questions comes from the Happy Philosopher (HP). HP’s answers are pretty great, so I’m going to abandon my practice of attempting a witty introduction and let you get right into it. Take it away HP!


Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My blog is a download of my brain to the internet, with an attempt to share my best ideas, random thoughts and the occasional experiment or two. My blog is about happiness and freedom and how to get there. It is great because…I’m awesome, and who wouldn’t want to peek behind the curtain and see what goes on in my brain…actually come to think of it this probably includes a lot of people.

Tell me how you’re going to change the world with your blog (dream big or don’t dream at all!).
When we go through a tough time in our lives we feel very alone. We don’t think anyone can possibly be going through the same thing, but this is simply not true. Reading blogs was one of the main tools I used to figure out what path I would take when I was burnt out. Now these blogs I read may not have changed TheWorld™ but they changed MY world completely. I’m now going to change other people’s worlds by inspiring them with my ideas and stories. Continue reading

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Guest Post: 7 Misconceptions About the 4 Percent Rule

I think about numbers almost every waking hour. Yes, I’m a nerd. I’ll bet you wouldn’t know it from looking at me. On second thought, maybe you would:


Numbers I think about include my weight, the price of various stocks, my net worth, the amount of money I spent on recent purchases and the closing level of the S&P 500.

Another number I’m obsessed with is 4. I think about it relative to the 4 Percent Rule. In case this is the first article you’ve ever read from a financial blogger or website, the 4 Percent Rule is a guideline for spending in retirement. Although I embrace the 4 Percent Rule, it is quite controversial.

Today,  DJ from My Money Design guest posts to tell you some misconceptions about the 4 Percent Rule. Enjoy!

How well do you think you know the 4 Percent Rule?

screen-shot-2017-01-03-at-9-00-42-am… You know … the rule that says you should withdraw no more than 4 percent from your retirement nest egg in order to make it last 30 or more years?

Despite its popularity and some controversy, one of the unfortunate things about the 4 Percent Rule is that it is often misrepresented and misinterpreted.   

You will often see it mentioned in financial articles, but while doing the research for my latest ebook “How Much Money Do I Really Need to Retire …”, I noticed that the facts are sometimes quite skewed. 

What’s more: When you actually read through the articles that made the 4 Percent Rule famous, there is quite a bit more valuable information to them that hardly no one ever discusses.

Here’s a few facts about the 4 Percent Rule that you may not have known.

1) Bengen vs The Trinity Study

It is often misquoted that Bill Bengen’s 4 Percent Rule has a 95% chance of success. In reality, this statement is a combination of two sources that have become intertwined over the years. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Tell Us about Your Amazing Goals for 2017!

I have always claimed to hate New Year’s resolutions. Why must we wait until the year turns over to commit to big changes in our lives? However, I must not hate them as much as I like to think because I can’t get them off my mind. Turns out that I have many of them:

  • Get my ass in the best shape of my life:


    Whoah, a resolution about getting healthier; how unique! That’s just amazing Mr. 1500!!!

I know, I know. However, this is a little different for me. Being healthy is my natural state. However, we were so damn busy in 2016 with the home remodel and work, I let myself go:


Danger Will Robinson! Avert your eyes!!

In the summer of 2015, I would jump on my road bike and pedal into the mountains at least twice a week. My total mountain rides for summer of 2016: zero, nada, zip, zilch – complete and total failure. ***looks down, shakes head*** Anyway, this is the year where I get rid of my gut and turn my body into a manly, potent, virile, fierce, killing machine:


That or get my body fat under 10%. Continue reading

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Get Comfortable Talking About Money

First pic of 2017, our street

First pic of 2017, our street

Hi there, Mrs. 1500 today. Let’s talk about money.

We have been blogging for exactly 4 years today. Mostly Mr. 1500, but I pop in from time to time to share my views or ask a question.

Our life has changed substantially in those 4 years. We downsized our house, joined the Double Comma Club, fell out of the Double Comma Club, bounced in and out of it for a while – and will probably continue to do so. I got my current job as a direct result of this blog.

We’ve met a lot of like-minded people who are involved in Personal Finance through this blog.

We talk about money.

We share tips on saving money. It isn’t taboo to ask financial questions.

Then I switch back to real life, where it is taboo.

I was visiting Jim Collins at a lake house in Wisconsin over the summer. Jim is part of this open-financial discussion life I lead, and mentioned to me that his brother in law invested in real estate, and suggested we chat. Continue reading

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Four Phases of FI

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect. –Mark Twain

I think a lot about my life. Probably too much…

Phase 1: Normal life
: 1973 to October 2012
: $0 to -$60,000 (college debt) to $700,000 

My original life’s plan was to retire in my 60s. I call it my normal phase.

At the age of 38, I found myself married living in a normal subdivision filled with normal cookie cutter homes. Mrs. 1500 and I had purchased two new cars and produced two children. We parked the cars in the 3 car garage and parked the children in our 4500 square foot home. The notion of leaving my job before the age of 62 or 65 never crossed my mind. I had known of no one who had ever left work before their 60s. This is what I had known:

Put 10 or 15% of my income into the 401(k).

Work for 40 years.

Move to a warm state and start drawing from the retirement accounts.

I wasn’t completely normal though. I enjoyed earning and investing money. I worked hard at my job and increased my income quickly. At the same time, Mrs. 1500 and I flipped houses. We made the mistake of not maxing out our 401(k)s every year, but still managed to accumulate a healthy chunk of change. In October of 2012, I had about $550,000 in investment accounts and $150,000 in home equity. Then came the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.

Our fancy house.

Our fancy house from a previous life.


Phase 2: Run to a big pile of money
: October 2012 to early 2016
: $700,000 to $1,500,000

I started this blog because of a Google search. I had very bad day at work and googled something like. Continue reading

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