Today is the 45th edition of our periodic guest post series called 10 Questions and a Pizza Place. (The 1500′s are pizza fanatics.) We have a list of 17 questions we pose to fellow financial bloggers, and they are free to pick and choose 10 or answer all 17. Let us know if you would like to be featured in a future edition of 10 Questions.
There are a lot of people with early retirement dreams, but Justin from Root of Good actually crossed the threshold at the amazingly young age of 33. I for one, am a bit terrified of crossing over to the other side, so I appreciate people like Justin blazing the trail.
That isn’t the only trail Justin is blazing either. Take a look at his response on favorite place to vacation. I’ll be following Justin’s early retirement trail long before I follow his culinary one.
Why is your blog so awesome?
I write with a personal touch. I talk about my own early retirement experience, how I got there, and tricks you can use to get there, too. However, it’s not all business at Root of Good. There’s the occasional silly post. I also like to share tales of my travels and photography.
Here are a few of the most popular articles at Root of Good:
How we made a six figure income but pay almost zero tax: $150,000 Income, $150 Income Tax
How we developed our $32,000 retirement budget: Developing A Retirement Budget
The full story explaining how I retired at 33: Early Retirement at 33: An Overview
One of a series of almost-monthly updates on what I’ve been enjoying in early retirement: Loving Nine Months Of Early Retirement
What is the worst financial mistake you made?
I have to pick just one? I’m tempted to say “going to law school.” It took three years to get the Juris Doctor degree, cost a fair bit of coin, and I missed out on three solid years of earning money in engineering (which is what I ended up pursuing full time).
I’m sure the law degree helped me in my career, but I doubt it offset the cost (tuition plus opportunity cost). At least the coursework was interesting!
I think I managed okay in spite of that one false start.
What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?
Invest it? That would put us over the $2 million mark. I’ve arbitrarily set $2 million as the threshold where I can be silly with money and give way or spend whatever I want. Maybe I would donate some to charity each year, or fund my nieces’ and nephews’ college tuition. Or part of it anyway. I have 12 nieces and nephews.
What kind of car do you drive?
2000 Honda Civic for me right now (although I don’t drive very often). We’re thinking about converting to a one car household once Mrs. Root of Good joins me in early retirement in a year or so. We’ll probably keep her 2000 Honda Accord.
What is the best financial move you have made?
Ditching Edward Jones and switching to Vanguard and Fidelity. The tens of thousands I have saved up front on commissions plus the ten thousand or so I save every year by virtue of having low cost investments make switching to a low cost index fund strategy the best financial decision I’ve ever made. And it keeps saving me money every year.
What’s your favorite tip for saving money?
Automate it. Divert as much money as you can stand away from your checking account automatically. Have enough taken out of your account monthly to force yourself to max out an IRA. Max out your 401k before you even get a paycheck. Get used to living on whatever is left over after your automatic investments are taken out. If it hurts too much, you can always back off your aggressive savings goal.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
Mexico. I spent a couple of summers south of the border during college. Once for study abroad and the second time for fun because I had a blast during the first visit.
The food is incredible. If you want to put the hurt on some awesome food, the best place to visit is one of the open air markets that often have a dozen or more food vendors cooking up a variety of different dishes. You can get some seriously authentic stuff. Roasted grasshoppers and cactus. Mmmm…
I’m also a cheap bastard at heart, so paying a fraction of the US price for food, beverages, accommodations, and transportation all appeal to my inner frugal nature.
I’m hoping to make it back down there some day and bring our kids this time. Knowing the language certainly makes traveling in Mexico a lot easier!
What is your fondest memory?
To follow up on my favorite vacation spot, my “happy place” (the place I go to sometimes when I’m in the dentist’s chair, for example) is a beach in Veracruz, Mexico. It was deserted except for Mrs. Root of Good and me (and the waiter bringing us beer and coconuts). We were cooling off in the shade cast by umbrellas made out of woven palm fronds set atop bamboo poles.
The water wasn’t particularly beautiful and the sand wasn’t particularly white. I think it was the simplicity and serenity of our beachfront hideout that made it so memorable.
Mac or PC?
PC (and android) all the way. Cheap, reliable (enough), simple.
Dogs or cats?
I’m more of a kid person than a dog or cat person. I mean we have a cat, and I like it, but I’m not a cat person. Kids eventually potty train and get more responsible with time whereas pets plateau around six months to a year.
Prosper or Lending Club? Please explain.
Neither. I’m sticking with stock market investments for a chance at decent long term returns and simplicity. My index funds only require my attention a couple times per year.
If you have children, how do you raise them to be financially responsible and frugal?
We have 3 kids, so I have some experience with this. Let them make their own spending decisions early on. They quickly figure out that it’s not smart to waste money. They comparison shop. They save their money. They understand when I say “That ice cream bar is $5, how about we have one at home for $0.20”.
Let them make mistakes. You can warn them that something they are about to buy is pure garbage, but occasionally let them make a dumb purchase. It’s better to regret wasting $5 when you’re 9 years old than $5,000 or $50,000 when you’re 19 or 29 years old.
What is the worst personal finance mistake you see people making?
Not saving early enough. The magic of compounding only works with time. Let the years drive financial growth.
What is your favorite recipe?
Maybe not my favorite, but so easy I have to share (and I eat it all the time). You know the shredded chicken tacos and chicken quesadillas you get at the Mexican restaurant? You can have that same chicken (or pork) filling at home and it’s incredibly easy. Two pounds of skinless chicken breast, a can of tomatoes (spicy, with chilis if you like it hot!), and a pack of taco seasoning (or chili powder, cumin, garlic, onion and salt to taste). Maybe add a sliced onion 10 to 15 minutes before the dish is done if you want to get fancy. Or get extra fancy and throw a can of beans or corn into the mix. Wow.
Throw everything in a pot, and add a little water to partially submerge the chicken. Put on medium heat, stir every 10 minutes, and once it comes to a boil, reduce heat and let it simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the chicken or pork is tender enough to shred with a fork (pork tends to take longer). Shred the meat and put back in the pot. Stir and let it sit for a bit to mingle with all the juices in the pot. Voila.
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