The Greatest Life Hack of All

Writing doesn’t come easily. Here is how it usually works:

  1. Inspiration!: I come up with a very basic idea for a post. Most of the time, the spark arrives comes when I’m doing something completely unrelated to the blog. I record the idea in a notebook so that I don’t forget it. I spend a lot of time seeking inspiration.
  2. Start writing: When I’m back in front of the Macbook, I start translating my notes into a post. It’s at this time that I usually realize there isn’t enough substance to the initial idea. I rarely complete a post on the first try.
  3. Find the missing pieces: I think about the rough idea when I’m walking, driving and ahem, in the bathroom. Sometimes, I find the missing pieces in a random conversation or observation when going about my daily routine. As more words come, I modify and revise. I spend a lot of time here.
  4. Revise infinitely: I repeat step 3 over and over. I’ve revised a post 100 times. This process can take hours, days, months or even years. There are posts I started in 2013 that I still work on occasionally.
  5. Publish: When I feel the post is passable (Note: not done, it’s never really done), I schedule a time to publish.

While the process may sound laborious, I enjoy it. Writing forces my mind to go to places it has never gone before. I love the challenge.

And sometimes, I’ll come up with a missing piece after the post is published that seems so obvious, I can’t believe I didn’t think about it when I was composing. Last week’s post about life hacks was one of those times.

I’m a Big Dummy

When I was writing about life hacks, I tried to come up with examples from my own life. The ones I wrote about were weak, but passable. I was frustrated, but scheduled the post anyway and went to bed.

After the post went live, lots of life hacks started magically floating into my head. I was mad at myself for not thinking of them: Continue reading

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Friday Mindfulness: Wonderful Warren, Pianos and NYC Pizza

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.

Warren Buffett

Warren Buffett, in duck form

Warren Buffett released his annual Berkshire Hathaway letter last Saturday. It’s impossible to read it and not be happy and optimistic. Here are some of my favorite parts:

In this passage, Buffett reminds us how to behave when Mr. Market isn’t being nice:

 

Buffett has a bet that states that the S&P 500 will outperform a basket of hedge funds over a 10 year period. The bet has less than a year to go and Buffett isn’t going to lose:

 

And Buffett reminds us of the value of index funds and the dangers of pessimism: Continue reading

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A Chat with Mr. Tako

A Chat With Mr. Tako

Mr. 1500:  Hi Mr. Tako!  It’s great to talk to you again… I haven’t featured you since we did that 10 Questions post last year. What’s happening?

Mr. Tako:  I’m doing fantastic! Life has continued to improve since I left work – it’s never been better actually!

Mr. 1500:  Hey, that’s great! Since you’re one of the few who has passed through to the Other Side, I wanted to ask you a few questions. Loads of us write about the pursuit of financial independence, but not many of us have actually done it.

Mr. Tako:  Sure Mr. 1500, anytime! Grab a seat, your tasty beverage of choice, and fire-away with those questions!

Mr. 1500:  I’ve been thinking about post-work life lately, but like many other people close to FIRE, it’s difficult to pull the trigger. What was the kick in the ass that convinced you to finally quit? Was it difficult? Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: What’s your Best Life Hack?

Hey Readers, I’ve been obsessed with optimizing my life lately. Truth be told, I’ve always been obsessed with it. This list could be 1,001 items long:

  • I hate wasting energy at home: This leads to never ending spousal battles over thermostat settings and light switches.
  • I hate wasting fuel: I plan car trips for maximum efficiency. I minimize my miles and left turns. If I know a light is going to turn red, I gently coast to it. This usually pisses off people behind me who step on the gas to get around me. I then get nasty glares from them when I catch up 10 seconds later at the light.
  • I hate wasting water: If it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown, flush it down.

OK, TMI on that last one. Sorry.

And now, this book has made me even crazier than I already am:

I liked the book so much, I bought it. Of course, owning the book flies in the face of optimization. I need less stuff in my life, not more. However, it is perpetually checked out from the library and this is one I want to read repeatedly.

More on life hacks in a moment. First, we have to get to last week’s question: Is fear keeping you from your best life? Here is what you had to say: Continue reading

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Friday Mindfulness: Distraught Daughter, Donating Doctor and a Lovely Shower

So, I’m trying to be more positive. One reason for this is a passage I read in Seeking Wisdom, a book that I’m enjoying very much. This is on page 10:

And it’s just more fun to go through life with a great attitude. However, it isn’t easy. My genetic programming combined with insecurity makes me a worrier. I’m also not a happy person by default.

One way I’m trying to overcome my melancholy is by focusing on good things. It’s a struggle, but knowing that I’m going to write a post where I highlight some positive stuff forces me to be mindful. I won’t write a post like this every week, but I’m going to try for at least two per month.

 

Distraught Daughter

Our youngest daughter just learned about tornados in school. She is now absolutely terrified that one will show up and take our house away. Recent questions include:

  • Daughter: Dad, where do we go if a tornado comes?
  • Me: Under the stairs. It is 100% tornado proof.
  • Daughter: Dad, how many tornados are there in Colorado?
  • Me: None. They don’t like the mountains, so they stay in flat places like Nebraska and Kansas.

Sidenote: There was a tornado in our town not more than two years ago. It didn’t touch down, but still…

  • Daughter: Dad, what happens if a tornado sucks you up?
  • Me: It just takes you for a little ride. Before the tornado goes home, it sets you down somewhere else and you have to walk home or get a ride back from a friend. Wouldn’t it be fun if the tornado set you down in front of the frozen yogurt place?

I’m probably not going to win Father of the Year for these blatant lies. However, the truth results in excessive crying and trauma which culminates in 2am visits to our bedroom:

MOM! DAD!! I THINK THERE IS A TORNADO OUTSIDE MY WINDOW!!!

I need my sleep, so I lie.

 

14,000 Things to Be Happy About

Despite our best efforts, daughter is still completely and insanely terrified. Any time we go for a walk and there is wind, she cries hysterically. This happened on Wednesday:

Mrs. 1500 and I tried to comfort her, but the situation was too funny not to laugh about (when she wasn’t paying attention): Continue reading

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Ecuador Part 3: Passion Reignited

 

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. –Helen Keller

 

I previously wrote about my Ecuador trip:

Today, I finally get around to part 3. First though, there are two thoughts that have been on my mind lately:

  • You should structure your finances so that you can leave work at the earliest possibility.
  • Work is the key to happiness. A life without work is hell.

On the surface. those thoughts are contradictory. I’ll get back to them in a bit…

 

Life is Good

I’m fortunate in many ways. It’s no understatement to say that I’m thankful every day for my fairy-tale life. Near the top of the list is finding something I enjoy doing that pays me (the old-school term for this is work). It wasn’t easy for me to figure out.

At the age of 23, much to the dismay of my family and a girlfriend, and despite being an honors student, I quit pharmacy school. I loved the organic chemistry and pharmacokinetics, but knew that working at Walgreens would be vastly different.

My decision to quit happened very quickly. I had wanted to drop out for a while, but needed a catalyst. This came in the form of a conversation I had with a computer programmer roommate in 1998. It went something like this:

  • Me: I don’t like pharmacy, but I don’t know what else to do with my life.
  • Roommate: There are loads of computer jobs with Y2K coming up.
  • Me: I’m not excited about going back to school for 3 or 4 years. I only have 2 more years of pharmacy school to go.
  • Roommate: You don’t have to. DePaul offers a 30 week class in mainframe coding. It’s a great program and if you get through it, you’re almost guaranteed a job.

I made the decision on the spot to quit pharmacy school. It felt completely right and I never questioned it.

After 20 weeks in the computer program, I had gone on 10 interviews and received 8 job offers. I took one of them and coded into the sunset.

However, I haven’t been doing much coding in my current job; more systems administration and support duties. In Ecuador, of all places, I rediscovered how much I enjoyed coding. Continue reading

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Ask the Readers: Is Fear Keeping You from Your Best Life?

A couple weeks ago, I asked you about fear. The wife and I had volunteered to give a talk to college students about financial independence. Like most, I don’t enjoy public speaking. (side-note: Mrs. 1500 fears nothing and was completely unfazed.) The big day was last week. Here we are:

Me and Mrs. 1500 (she likes to talk with her hands)

My mind was calm up until the night before the presentation. I had a little anxiety that evening, so I slept like crap. The next day, I had a hard time focusing as I let fear creep in. Continue reading

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Real Estate Investing from a Distance

Today’s post was written for us by Rich from Rich on Money. Like Dr. Hartman who grew up to be a cardiologist, Rich was appropriately named at birth, possibly even unconsciously directed toward the path to wealth.

Today, Rich shares his thoughts on passive income generation through long distance real estate investing. If real estate interests you, this post gives some really stellar tips for success.

My name is Rich.

I love real estate.

I grew up in Southern California.  I remember thinking about buying real estate as a kid.  I was twelve years old.  I thought if I could buy a house then, I would be able to sell it when I was eighteen and have enough money for a car!  I was always fascinated by how fast real estate appreciated in certain places, especially near the beach.

Real estate is tricky for me.  I’m in the military, which means I move every two to three years.  Ten of the last sixteen years I’ve been overseas, including currently.

What kind of real estate investor moves every two to three years? 

That will never work!

I’ve found a way to make it work for me.  Over the past three years, I’ve purchased several buy-and-hold rental properties with cash.  The income they provide has made me financially independent.  Most of these purchases have been made from overseas.

Maybe some of my methods could be useful to you.  I’ll summarize my advice in three main points: Continue reading

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Why I Write from the Throne

Ask the Readers takes a break today. Last week, I asked you about conquering fear. I wanted to know how to get over an old fear of public speaking because the Mrs. and I are giving a talk this week. Since the presentation doesn’t take place until Wednesday, I’ll wait until next week to tell you if I was able to conquer my fear.

Last week, I hit Day 1500. Today, I tell you about the future of the blog.

TMI alert: I may have composed some of this post from the throne. Yes, that throne. More on that later in the post.

This blog started out as a passion project. I didn’t have many expectations, but I did remember having the following thoughts when I started:

  • I’ll be accountable: I’ll show the world my goals and finances. This will help keep me on the right path.
  • I’ll be transparent: Money-talk is taboo in America. I want to react against that, so I’ll share my finances. I ended up sharing much more including embarrassing pictures.
  • I’ll include dinosaurs!: OK, I’m totally lying. I had no thought of including dinosaurs when I started the blog. Frugalsaurus (the green one) is a leftover from my childhood that somehow survived one of my mother’s toy purges. He’s at least 35 years old. On a whim (and I readily confess that alcohol may have been involved), I took a picture of him and he appeared on the blog.

The blog took a long time to gain momentum because I did everything wrong, but it’s successful today (at least by my loose definition) and gets about 100,000 pageviews per month. We’ve been on major sites like CNN Money, Farnoosh Torabi and the front page of Yahoo!: Continue reading

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Day 1500

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. – Lau Tzu

 

Day 1500 is here:

Well that flew by

The Journey: Days 1 – 1500

Day 1 (January 2013)

When I started this blog, I was running away from a stressful situation (work). Not only did I not know where I was going, I didn’t even realize how important it was to have a destination. I only knew that I was running to a pile of money that would allow me to be free from the shackles and worries of work. I had never considered what came after that. How foolish I was.

I also had no expectations for the blog. I wanted to keep myself publicly accountable, but at the core, I started 1500 Days because I always enjoyed writing.

Somewhere around Day 1000

And then it hit me:

You can’t quit your job just for the sake of quitting. You’ll be bored if you have nothing to retire to.

“Oh shit!”, I thought. What was I going to do now? I can’t quit my job. What do I do with this blog? The internet police will tear me a new one when I tell them I’m going to continue working because I fear boredom. I was lost and felt ridiculous.

Day 1000 to the Present

After much deliberate thought, the answers started to materialize.

I noticed that on rare days off when the children were in school and I didn’t have to work:

  • I’d spend 2 hours at the gym instead of 40 minutes.
  • I’d spend hours at the library, reading magazines, newspapers and random books.
  • I’d write for hours, often working on five posts at once.
  • I’d spend more time with the children. After school, I’d take my time helping them with their homework and then we’d going for a walk or play games.

On these days off, I’d reflect before bed. I noticed that I was a happier person. I even fell asleep easier (one of my constant struggles).

More than anything, I noticed that I never had enough time. Even when my work schedule went to three days per week, my Mondays and Fridays flew by.

 

Day 1500+

Not my circus, not my monkeys. -Polish proverb

And, I’ve realized that the life that many of us accept as normal isn’t for me. Working until 62 sounds like torture. The world is wide and I want to experience it. There won’t be enough time in the years that I have left, but I’ll do what I can with what I have.

And I don’t think I’m so different from you. Most of us don’t take the time to consider a life of freedom because the concept is so foreign. I never once thought about financial independence before discovering Mr. Money Mustache. However, I think that deep down, most of us have passions that we’d start following tomorrow if a mysterious uncle left us $10,000,000.

To follow my own passions, I have to leave parts of my life behind.

I can’t be who I want to be;
I can’t do what I want to do;
I can’t live how I want to live;
without letting go.

It’s slightly scary, but mostly amazing.

I’m so thankful for it all.

 

Epilogue: I owe you so much more. My journey isn’t yet complete. One of the underlying themes of this blog is quitting work and I still have a job. At a minimum, I owe you an explanation of where 1500 Days is going. More on Monday.

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