At this moment, I happen to be in Abandoned Cubicleland. AKA, the Twin Cities. Head writer at Abandoned Cubicle, Cubert, resides in the
frozen mosquito-infested north. I even got to see him last night at a local watering hole:
Although I love Minnesota, I’m not sure I want to live in a place where the choice is freezing to death or being sucked dry by mosquitos that are only slightly smaller than California Condors...
Take it away Cubert!
Your Internet Ramblings
There are approximately 476,492,292,928 personal finance blogs last time I checked. Why should we read yours?
Wow! I had no idea that the number had grown to 928! Last I checked (yesterday) we had 476,492,292,900 in our community. Man. Somebody at WordPress is raking it in… Anyhow, I reckon folks would like www.abandonedcubicle.com because it challenges some of the pollyanna out there about early retirement. If you want to hear from both sides of the equation, i.e., “should I stay or should I go?” then come on over. Besides, I occasionally write new posts, and the perspective is like butter. Golden dairy. Pure creamy delight.
What is one post that you’ve written that you wish would have gone viral?
All of them. How can I possibly pick one of my children over another? Funny thing is, most of the posts I enjoy and appreciate tend to get the most views. The ones I “mail-in” get what they deserve – crickets.
Why did you start your blog?
Well, back then there were only 476,492, 192,928 personal finance blogs. So I figured there was a niche or a gap I could easily fill, and make millions in turn. Things have worked out exactly as planned these past 2 and a half years. I’d be Richy Rich if I sold a tee shirt. Starting a blog was just a way to channel some of my creativity. Work doesn’t allow that. Starting a blog also gave me a community to keep me accountable to some big lofty goals. Put up or shut up, I never say (but firmly believe).
What has surprised you about blogging?
How the passion for it can ebb and flow. There are seasons I am “all in” and look forward to writing up something juicy. Then, there’s a season where I obsess over the technical details and go nuts figuring out how to speed up load times and optimize my UX. Then, there’s the season I’m in now, which is, “Shit. I’m kind of out of new information to share. Better ease up on the publishing of crap just to keep a schedule.”
What is part of your blog that you wish you could do better?
Write with more consistency and flare. And monetize without the blog looking like the Vegas Strip.
Is there anything else you’d like to promote?
I really like the blog “mrmoneymustache.com”. I HIGHLY recommend him to any of your readers who haven’t stumbled upon this little gem of a site.
Where do you live? Do you love it, hate it or just meh.
We live in the Twin Cities of Minnesota. I love it during May, June, July, August, September, and October. I hate it during November, December, January, February, March, April. Do you think snowbirding is in our future?
Do you rent or own? What are your thoughts on home ownership?
We own, and we don’t have a mortgage. Paid it off earlier this year. I love homeownership because it fulfills a basic need for me: security. One less cloud of debt over our heads. Oh, and I love that we can paint the walls whatever color we want, and landscape how we prefer, etc. etc.
Transportation (how do you get around): car, train, bus, bike or VTOL.
Honda Fit, baby! MMM convinced me I needed to have this car, so I bought a used ’09 one. It’s been a fantastic little beater. Great for getting around town on commutes and rental errands. It’s really impressive how much that little car can pack in. Oh yeah, I also bike to work (10 miles each way) when the weather is decent. Fortunately, where we live we are within walking or biking distance of many amenities. This is a glorious thing during those six months of the year in the “love” category…
How do you stay fit? (If you’re one of those crazy Crossfit people, please don’t tell me that I suck because I don’t do it. This has happened.)
Functional fitness (way better than crossfit – aka “injury central”). We use kettlebells, ropes, and body weight exercises to get er done. I sling 45 pounders for squats and presses. Then use a 70 pounder for deadlifts. The pull up bar mounted on a basement joist gets frequently used too. I like to run 2.5 miles once a week, and mix in a lot of casual cycling and long walks. I want a Concept 2 Rower for my birthday. (Thank you!)
Financial Independence, Investing, and Money
Is your goal financial independence? If so, where are you on the journey?
I’d say my goal is contentment. That can occur whether or not you’re FI, though being FI sure removes a thick heavy cloud. I’m probably FI now, but like you, I’m unnecessarily padding my stash.
Are you leanFIRE or fatFIRE or fartFIRE?
None of these. I’m probably best described as SemiFIRE. I subscribe to the Scandihoovian model (blessed Danes) of work less, enjoy life more. Not as drastic as “don’t work at all and figure it out”, which I know works for many, but I don’t think it’d work for me. Not yet anyhow.
Do you tell others of your FIRE plans or are you in the closet?
Very few people at work – only one or two friends know. But then, my plans keep changing, so they’ve probably given up listening to my whiney ass.
You rub a magic lamp and an evil genie pops out and says this: “You must pick one, specific investment to have all your money in for the next decade!” What do you pick?
Evil genies aside, what is your investing strategy? Stocks? Index funds?? Real estate??? Crypto????
Just kidding on that last one. My magic potion is 50% real estate rentals, and 50% index funds (tax-advantaged – 401K, HSA, IRA).
What is your favorite money management tool? (Yes, you can include your affiliate link.)
Microsoft Excel. I expect great things from this little software shop. You just watch.
Do you track your spending? If so, how?
I do and I use Excel. It’s for no better reason that to try to hold myself accountable and avoid spending too much.
What is your worst money mistake?
I don’t have one that sticks out. Not yet anyway. Maybe adult braces?
What is your splurge? Don’t be shy. Mine set me back $45,000.
Hookers and blow. But don’t tell my mom, please! Seriously, I’d say our new kick-butt home theater is the latest. Not a huge price tag, but I’ve finally got a hook-up that makes movies at home a lot more fun.
Your best friend tells you that he just got a raise at work and is going to buy a new car to celebrate. His current car is in perfect working order. How do you react?
I suppose it depends on the overall picture. If he’s happy, and doesn’t have some major financial crisis going on, then I’m not going to rain on his parade. Besides, I might enjoy a spin in those new wheels!
What did your parents do to raise you to be financially smart?
The best thing they did, granted it was unintentional: They fought about money. This convinced me as a child that I didn’t want money to be a source of conflict in relationships. Probably a key reason why I’ve tried to be good about my finances. (Oh yeah – I also remember my step-dad reinforcing the fable of the grasshopper and the ant. That grasshopper was a dumbass.)
If your 18-year-old child told you this: “Parents, I want to go to a $250,000 school and study doorknob design,” what would you tell him or her?
“Sure, but you have to lock in scholarships and be willing to work through college to pay for what we can’t cover.” Fortunately I have another 10 years to consider how to best answer this one!
Ideal vacation: road trip, beach, mountains, forest or city?
I really do best with mountain forests and forest-lined beaches actually. There’s a scientific finding about the power of a walk in the woods – how healing it can be (and such a stress reducer!) Cities can be fun, but also hectic and stressful. And expensive!
What is the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?
Fjords of Norway. Machu Picchu. A tie between those two.
What travel destination is highest on your bucket list?
Italy. No wait. Japan. Ummm… Maui? Sigh… Okay, we’ll stick with Italy for now.
How is the world going to be better because you lived?
The narcissist in me wants to say it will be better. I do hope that my contributions to charitable causes and taxes, plus raising good kids, will generate something positive to offset the craziness all around us.
What is one thing you firmly believed 5 years ago that you no longer believe?
That I MUST retire early.
What is one thing you believe that most others do not?
You do not need a shiny, nice, luxury car or truck to be happy.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
What was the worst or best phase of your life?
Best and worst: College.
What do people misunderstand about you?
I didn’t set out to be this intelligent. Cut me some slack if I come off as smug or condescending. I’m trying, dammit! (love, Sheldon) Seriously, if I’ve learned one thing over the years, it’s how LITTLE I truly do know, and how much more I learn from others. Recognition that you’re not as smart as you think is a powerful thing.
If you have a magical power that allowed you to change one set of beliefs in others, what would you choose?
Violence against other people is never okay.
Name one living person that you look up to. Tell us why.
Elon Musk. He is a terrible family man, and I don’t look up to him for that aspect. I do look up to him for making his visions more real than 99% of us do. And I happen to appreciate a vision that transcends the problems our society is creating.
Elon Musk: Crazy megalomaniac or a brilliant guy who is changing the world?
Megalomaniac. Certifiable. But we’re happy to have him, right??
Favorite beer? Favorite pizza place? (this is a throwback to the original series)
I’m big into craft lagers. Can’t deal with wheat beers anymore – gluten sensitive. Pizza – doesn’t take much to please me. Cheese pizza is the best.
What is the best movie you’ve seen recently?
Avengers Endgame. I don’t get to watch many grown-up movies since the kids were born. So when I do get out to the movies, it’s typically a blockbuster film. I’d describe this one as emotionally draining, exhilarating, and funny. I didn’t expect that first quality. Quite a work of art, if you ask me.
Cubert, our time last night was short, but fun. I hope to see you again soon. Be good and generous my friend.
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Thank you for letting me share a bit more about me and my journey, Carl! It was really fun to hang out at Surly and chat about early retirement with you. I’m more motivated now to forge my best path — thank you for THAT!
Cubert recently posted…What You Should Know Before Subletting Your Apartment
Financially Fit Mom says
I see a Surly trend here… 🙂
Financially Fit Mom recently posted…Rent vs Buy, Move vs Stay, Options Overload
Mr. 1500 Days says
Surly you must be joking.
Surly bike, Burley trailer… reminds me of my time in the biz twenty years ago!
Fun fact: I made the dozen-or-so cut of 50+ people who flew to Minneapolis to interview for one of eight positions with Surly Bikes’ parent company. Didn’t land a job, but man that would’ve been fun.
Wow Adam – sweet!! Was it a design related role? Or more a corporate gig with them?
Just a phone jockey — taking calls from bike shops for orders, solving compatibility problems, that sort of thing. This was back in like 2003; I was barely out of college. But they do a lot of promoting from within, so who knows what I’d be up to now…?
Nice to see your steed getting used! My poor cross bike is here right next to my desk, not being ridden very often. The beer joints around here are too walkable to bother.
Water rower. The feel is a little more solid than a concept 2. The swooshing is calming.
Really? I’ll have to look into that! I’ve used a water rower before. I’d agree – it probably does offer some stress relief with the water wooshing sounds.
Ha! Well played, FFM! 🙂
Cathleen Cooks Stuff says
Seems like the midwest folks have the most fun. Probably because they have to pack it all in during the nice weather months, and store it up like a bear for winter (I went to undergrad in Milwaukee….worst….idea….ever).
I don’t think I’ve even watched a movie in the theater, except this one time for Winter Soldier when I was in DC for work and the friend I was staying at made me go, since BEFORE my kid was born. I keep going and looking at the ticket prices, and going “nope!”. Plus, popcorn is hideously marked up.
Well, we’re good at making it SOUND fun… 🙂 But yeah, you learn to appreciate the few good months of weather and make the most of it. Milwaukee sounds truly awful….
Winter Soldier is one of like 3 Marvel films I haven’t seen yet. I’ll rely on good ol’ Vudu to rent that one! (And hey, with theaters, you could still spring for one or two “gotta see pics” per year, right? Matinee prices are still a thing at AMC!)
Cathleen Cooks Stuff says
I think for movies, it’s more of a “snacks are crap and expensive, and you wont let me make snarky comments with my friends” (and I’m paying $15+ for this!). Yeah, coming from Hawaii to Milwaukee…that was a terribly bad decision. Here, if its below 72, it’s cold, and people break out sweatshirts. They still wear shorts and slippers, but god forbid if your arms are cold.
B.C. Kowalski says
Hey, a fellow Midwestern blogger! What up?
It’s nice to see more Midwesterners in the FI space. I started my own blog because I didn’t really see myself reflected in many other FI blogs (though I share a lot of kinship with MMM for his love of bicycles and disdain of consumerist waste). Anyway, hello from the state to your right!
Hi BC! Are any of your kids named “AD” by chance? 😉
I’m definitely okay with bloggers from Wisconsin. No matter what Carl says…
Physician on FIRE says
I love the fact Cubert rides a Surly bike and drink Surly beer. #SurlyFIRE
If only I live further out west I could marry another named Shirley, and go for the hat trick!