Items I Can’t Live Without

One of the ways to achieving financial independence is to hone your skill at determining wants versus needs. As you travel the journey to financial freedom, you may find yourself selling things you bought in the past, but have found that you don’t really need. We talk here often about developing “adult” money skills. These are things like being able to spend money to save money, and in this case, dealing with “sunk costs.” Selling something at a loss to reverse a bad decision shows you are able to isolate the purchase of it, and analyze the current benefit. Materialism Becoming less materialistic is what I’m driving at, here. But don’t confuse that with an elimination of materialism. If you want to live in a modern society and have friends, you will need to buy and own things. What you should be striving for is another “adult” money goal – spending more money in the short term to buy something that will last longer. For example, if you spend $50 for shoes that last six months, you will have owned four pairs of shitty shoes in a two year period. Compare that to the “money adult” who pulled the trigger … Read more…

$10 Per Month Cell Phone Plan – My Experience with Republic Wireless

Recently I decided to stop overpaying for my mobile/cellular phone service. At $150 per month for two lines, I realized there had to be a better and cheaper way. Finding a New Plan Locking myself and my wife into a neverending stream of contracts, two year commitments on a phone barely designed to last one and a half. Even the top model phones can’t stand two years of service, losing battery life and generally acting like a ten year old shitty computer after a few months of use. Smartphones have become an integral part of our lives. Just sit on a park bench or watch people on public transportation. Hell, just walk people walking down the street, sneaking a look every few steps at the ground to make sure they don’t get run over by a car. And the recent story where a woman died after running back into her burning house for her cell phone, injuring a police officer in the process, shows more than anything that our smartphone addiction is reaching dangerous heights. So in addition to saving money, I challenged myself to do away with the 24/7 smartphone. Republic Wireless, one of the newer cell providers that … Read more…

Four Essential Things Needed for an Overseas Trip

Last month, my wife and I returned from 9 days in Croatia, with a brief stopover in Munich. We took our nine year old daughter on her first real vacation. It was her first time flying, and her first time leaving the country. Needless to say, I think she (and we) have a great deal of new and lifelong memories, mainly from our daughter meeting her extended family for the first time. Since I just got back, I’ve been thinking about the things we brought, and the things we didn’t. As usual, we traveled with one bag each (I’ll talk more about this below). This means that packing has to be light, both for weight’s sake, and not to draw the wrath of the airlines, who do everything they can to get extra fees from you. When away from home for a good amount of time, the key is to balance necessity and comfort with the very real and very important notion that this is an opportunity to get away from the objects that fill our homes. Even if you are staying in a luxury hotel, 10 days away from home is a chance to restart your life in a new place … Read more…

My Cousin Thinks I’m Cheap

Have you ever gotten into a fight with a family member over money? I did, and it may have cost me a relationship with a cousin who lives overseas. I want to start off by saying that we should generally try to help family members when they are struggling. I will also say that we should never loan money to family members, or otherwise mix money into our family. I know what you are thinking, this sounds like a contradiction. That’s because it is. Mixing money with family is something that can easily happen, and a scenario that can easily go wrong. Whether it is loaning money to a relative or going into business with them, what you have is an almost foolproof recipe for disaster. How I Lost a Relationship Over $100 In two weeks I am taking my wife, daughter, and a small group of friends (including my boss and supervisor) on a 10 day vacation to Croatia. The flights we purchased took us to Trieste, Italy, where we planned to rent a car and drive the remaining two hours to Istria. I was having trouble finding a large car that would fit five people and their luggage, … Read more…

The Retirement Industrial Complex

billion dollar lottery

A few weeks ago I was perusing one of my favorite forums – the Bogleheads – and saw a post about one of my other favorite online places, Mr. Money Mustache. The gist of the post was questioning whether he was a hero or some sort of scam artist, and what played out in the commentary revealed a lot about the people who are active Bogleheads. It started like this:   Mr. Money Mustache: Hero or Foolish? by StarbuxInvestor » Mon Mar 31, 2014 10:10 am Personally I don’t get this guy or want his lifestyle and see no way this is going to end well when he is older. Am I missing something? That said if he and his family are happy then more power to them.   It had become clear to me lately that most Bogleheads aren’t like me. First off, they are doing way better in their financial lives. The ones who post frequently seem to have worked many years in high paying jobs. Though they are extremely in touch with their finances, I am a bit sad to find out that they seem to be out of touch with “normal” people. I still haven’t yet … Read more…

6 Reasons I’m Spending $6,000 on a Vacation

I feel like I’m out of touch with money. I watch things inflate and deflate. People with more education get less money. I don’t even know what is what. It is through that lens I ponder whether it’s totally normal to spend $6,000 on a vacation, and whether or not it is crazy. I suppose it could be both or neither. Either way, the plane tickets are booked for my 4th trip to Croatia, happening in less than three months. Before I continue with my self-rationalization, let me break down how I’m spending my money for this 10-day trip. $3,900 – airplane tickets $1,000 – villa rental for one week $500 – car rental $500 – various pre-trip costs (passport renewals, new backpack, sunglasses, etc) $1000 – on-the-ground spending (gasoline, food, attractions) 1) I Love to Travel This is my number one reason, and it should be the number one reason for which you do anything. I suppose this reason could also be translated into: “But I wannnnnnaaaaaaaaa!” and I”m OK with that. Once I figured out that you can’t take it with you when you die, seeing the world seemed like a logical way to spend my money. I … Read more…

Personal Finance is a Middle Class Escape Plan

billion dollar lottery

I don’t know what more to say than this – saving money for retirement is boring. I am losing my mind from it. I don’t know how anyone does it…oh wait, no one does. People spend. People have fun. People cross their fingers, say a prayer to Baby Jesus, and hope that whatever they are doing works out. They are lucky if they are American. Things will probably work out for them, even if they don’t save enough. We won’t let them starve. But we will make them work until they drop dead. For some, that’s a fair trade. Saving money is so boring that it almost made me more obsessive about money than I was when I was in debt. I didn’t even think that was possible. As I mentioned in my last post, I was checking my Mint.com account ten times a day and counting the hours until my next paycheck, so I could work on my goal of fully funding two years’ of Roth IRAs in just 14 months. What if Saving for Retirement is the Wrong Choice? What if all the personal finance bloggers you follow are wrong? What if the old saying “you can’t take … Read more…