Today is the 10th 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.
Today’s post features Buck from Bucking the Trend. Buck has his stuff together. He has dreams of early retirement (Buck prefers “financially unchained”) and is well on his way to achieving the goal. He even has some very cool plans for what he’ll do after he loses those chains.
I had the pleasure of meeting Buck and his family earlier this year. We chatted about our jobs, personal finance, road trips and fast cars over Cuban burgers. Be nice to him and he may just share the recipe. I can’t pass up a good burger and this one was spectacular.
Tell me about your blog and why it’s great.
My family and I have been gunning for financial independence for a little while now and we think we see a faint glimmer of light at the end of that tunnel. We’re hoping it is financial freedom and not an oncoming freight train.
We’ve started socializing a bit with our immediate family and friends our desire to be financially unchained (I hesitate to use the word “retired”) and the things we plan to do once there. Like many of us that share this goal and happen to mention it others, we often receive looks like we had just said we were getting tattoos on our face a la Mike Tyson.
A minority of those we inform are intrigued and tend to ask follow-up questions. I expect more of this and thought it may be of some use to start documenting our journey so for those who genuinely ask “how did you do it?”, I can point them to my site.
As far as the blog goes, if you are looking for highly opinionated, high entertainment about personal finance, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you want to hear about one more family’s story on their quest to financial independence with as much transparency as possible, feel free to have a look. My main objectives for writing are mostly for myself to 1) be able to keep myself accountable to the goals we set out and provide some sort of historical log, 2) meet like-minded folks and share stories, and 3) become a better writer.
What is the worst financial mistake you made?
Probably not my worst, but certainly my most recent: Last year, I lost over $5,000 in one week rather ingloriously as I dipped my toe in the house rental business. This was a blessing in disguise as I learned pretty quickly I’m not cut-out for that type of work and was bailed out without additional loss by a lottery-winning instant multi-millionaire who ended up buying my failing rental for sentimental reasons. I’ll save that story for a future post.
What would you do if you inherited $1,000,000 (after taxes) today?
(In my best Aretha Franklin singing voice): R-E-T-I-R-E-D!
I’d quit my job tomorrow and spend the summer hiking, camping, and playing sports with my twin boys. Then, at the beginning of the next school year, I’d pack up the family and move to Spain where they would attend school and I would teach English and practice my futsal with the local neighborhood kids.
What kind of car do you drive?
I drive a 2005 Dodge Neon SRT-4.
The SRT stands for Street & Racing Technology it is a souped-up version of those dinky Neons. It is not something you usually see a family-man in his late 30’s driving. I bought it used and had to outbid a bunch of pimply-faced 17-year-old tuner kids. I like it because it balances my need for performance (something I’ve tried to quell) and economy (it is still a 4-cylinder that can get nearly 30 miles per gallon if I’m able to lay off the gas). That and it has four doors and is able to accommodate my entire family. One of my boys calls it The SuperCar. The other refers to it as The Orange Skittle.
What is the best financial move you have made?
Stashing the maximum amount possible into my company-matched 401k plan from the first week I started earning a salary.
What is your favorite place to vacation?
This is a great question and one I should be able to answer pretty easily, but I can’t. I love to travel and have been to some pretty cool places but it is hard for me to pinpoint one as my favorite. For every incredible place I’ve visited, I always opt to visit someplace new when the opportunity arises.
Since we have younger kids, however, it’s hard to top visiting the grandparents at their winter relief spot in southwest Florida during spring break.
What is your favorite pizza place (Mr. 1500 is a pizza nut)?
Having lived nearly a decade in Chicago, it’s hard to go wrong with a deep-dish stuffed spinach with jalopeños from Giordano’s. The leftovers are even better as the spice from the peppers tends to permeate the entire thing and can really set your mouth on fire the next day.
Mrs. Buck and I both agree, however, the absolute best we ever ate was from the pizza homeland in a little mom and pop shop in La Spezia, Italy – the gateway to Cinque Terre. This was over 10 years ago and we can’t remember the name. Who knows, it may no longer exist but you can bet if we ever return, we could find that place just off the main drag of this little port town.
What is your fondest memory?
Some of my fondest memories are of growing up in Minnesota and playing pond hockey with the neighborhood kids at the outdoor rink at the end of our block.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
Keep doing what you’re doing. I have very few regrets in life – although I do wish I attempted to be my alma mater’s mascot during college hockey games.
What is your favorite movie?
I’m a pretty simple guy and spent my formative years in the late 80’s, early 90’s. Here are some of my favorite movies from that time that I’ve always appreciated: Back to the Future, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Shawshank Redemption, The Usual Suspects and I’m embarrassed to say, I still laugh hysterically watching Weekend at Bernie’s (the original – don’t even think about watching the sequel).
What advice would you give to a 24 year old, just out of college?
My Wealth Manifesto represents the list of rules I wish Marty McFly would handed to the 24-year-old me as I was just starting my career.
What are your favorite personal finance websites?
www.1500days.com – a lovely family who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting recently. Intriguing for me because we seem to be in almost the exact same place in life and have similar goals with similar time frames
www.mrmoneymustache.com – great advice, entertaining, always positive and optimistic
www.gocurrycracker.com – not exactly personal finance specific, but a blog I admire with great photography. I aspire to have my own turn into something like this once we reach our magical number.
Prosper or Lending Club? Please explain.
Right now, I’m invested in neither but the interest is certainly there (pun intended). I’ve looked into it in the past and want to better understand the time commitment involved to research loans, put a plan together, and ultimately do well while minimizing defaults. I’m not what you would call an ‘active’ investor. A better description of me would be a ‘lazy’ investor as indexed mutual funds have largely been my modus operandi.
If you have children, how do you raise them to be financially responsible and frugal?
Give them ways to earn money so that they have their own means to buy items that we find ridiculous. Yes, they will make some bad choices, but better they learn from some bad choices now with a $15 toy than a $50,000 car later. It is much easier to learn from your mistakes than to learn from your successes. Let the kids fail a bit, it’ll be good for them in the long run.
What is the worst personal finance mistake you see people making?
I think the biggest killer mistake is lifestyle inflation – increasing your spending proportionally as your income increases. Spending 90% of your first paycheck just out of school while you try to get on your feet is one thing. Spending 90% of your income fifteen years into your career having at least doubled your starting salary is quite another.
What product or service epitomizes consumerism?
We just recently cut the cord and wow, what a difference. TV is like the consumerism devil’s playground. Not only is the time sitting in front of the boob-tube completely unproductive and not beneficial to your health, but you are pelted with highly effective marketing intended to make you feel inadequate about yourself for 8 out of every 22 minutes of programming. And this is something we opt to pay for?
I do like to watch sports and will miss more than my share of the NHL playoffs and college football games. But for those absolutely can’t miss events, I can still go to the bar a couple times a month and spend luxuriously on beer while watching the game and still come out ahead.
What is your favorite recipe?
While the 1500’s can attest that I do make a pretty mean pressed Cuban Burger (even if I forgot one of the key ingredients!), my Indian wife’s family reunions have inspired me to reach out a little further and now I’m able to make some more complex Indo-Chinese dishes (Chili Chicken, Chicken 65, classic Orange Chicken are a few).
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