Monday, April 14, 2014

Bill and Ted's Excellent Investing

Today we have a guest post on investing from a new blogger: Islands of Investing. Hey, where are you going? Wait! Don't leave! I know your first instinct when being told of a guest post is to click away and read some other post from one of your old standbys. But this is a legitimately good post on investing, and the mistakes we can make with our money. If you don't stay and read it, you will probably be poor and unpopular forever, and will likely regret this one key decision when you look back on your life from your deathbed.* Don't let this day be another wasted one, filled with feelings of what might have been. Carpe...something.

*Disclaimer: reading this post will probably not have any material impact on your wealth, popularity, or anything else. The blog does not recommend any specific form of investing, such as picking single stocks. Like everything on this site, the following post is for entertainment purposes only and should not be considered investment or financial advice. Consult real professionals before making financial decisions.You have been warned.

Monday, April 7, 2014

What Are You Going to Do When You Retire?

That's the big question I eventually get whenever I share the idea of retiring at forty with friends or family. What am I going to do with all that time? What am I going to do with my day? And my answers are really unsatisfying to them. I can tell, because they tell me they'd be bored (and if they're especially blunt, that I will, too). Instead of doing what I want to do (which would be crazy), they suggest that I should volunteer full time somewhere, or write a book, or go back into teaching. Basically, the assumption is that I should trade fifty hours a week of one activity for fifty hours a week of some other, singular, lower-paying or non-paying activity that I would like more.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Sex Sells...Health Insurance

Sex Sells Health Insurance
With today being the deadline to sign up for ObamaCare, healthcare companies are making their last ditch efforts to sign up as many new customers as they can. One example caught my eye recently. There's a non-profit health insurance co-op in Colorado that's using an old trick to sell our nation's new health plan: beautiful models standing in front of a booth. Colorado HealthOp hired four young, tightly dressed models to convince more people to sign up. At least there were two male and two female models, so even the ladies have some eye candy to enjoy while they ponder their health insurance options. And, let's face it, it's easier to decide whether you want a plan with a Health Savings Account when there's an attractive model walking you through the options.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Opportunity Costs are Sunk Costs

Opportunity Costs are Sunk Costs
Ever since we paid off our house early, I've had a nagging feeling that we'd done something a little foolish. Like Johnny Moneyseed says, paying off your mortgage early is silly, right? In the timeframe that we did it, from 2010 to 2013, it was downright costly. This handy calculator from dqydj.net shows that we gave up a 17.4% annualized return by not putting our extra mortgage payments into the S&P 500. Because the market went on a tear during those years, the money we put towards the house had significant opportunity costs. Opportunity costs are what you sacrifice when you take one course of action instead of another. Every choice has opportunity costs: you go down one path, and you pass up the chance to go down another. Two roads diverged in the woods, and all that. In this case, we gave up historic gains in the market in order to book a 4.25% gain by paying down the mortgage. And it frustrates me, because who knows when an opportunity like that will come again?

Friday, March 21, 2014

That Time Someone Ran Over My Scooter

Didn't I ever tell you about that time someone ran over my scooter with an SUV? No? Well, it happened about a year ago, in a parking lot. I was doing some errands and scooted on over to Target to pick up the basics: deodorant, some makeup for my wife (don't judge), and a package of toilet paper that I'd have to tie down with bungee cords. I'm always nervous about our scooter getting hit in parking lots, since it kind of hides in a parking space. When going down an aisle, it initially seems like the parking space that our scooter is in is empty, so I can see how a driver might pull halfway into the spot before realizing there's a scooter in there. So I parked in a spot far away from the entrance, and without  a car on either side.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Renters, Utilities, and Moral Hazard

Renters, Utilities, and Moral Hazard
We live in an old house. It was built in 1950, back when cement block was the material of choice here in the Phoenix valley. The little details, like the low pitch roof and the long, skinny windows that wrap around the corner of each bedroom, made us fall in love with the place. We put in our offer the first day we saw it...and then waited over nine months, through a short sale and a foreclosure, to finally close on the house. Those cute little details, unfortunately, are also what keep our energy usage so high.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Rashard Mendenhall is My Hero


Rashard Mendenhall is My Hero
I stumbled across an interesting article on ESPN today: Rashard Mendenhall, former running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, is retiring. The interesting bit is that Mendenhall is only twenty six years old: right in the prime of the typical NFL player's career. The main reaction from sports outlets seems to ask, "Why?" While Mendenhall is not a premier running back, it's likely some team would have wanted the former first round pick to join their stable of backs. Considering the financial consequences of the decision, it's hard to imagine why he would leave this lucrative career. Even role players and bench-warmers make extremely good money: NFL players with six years of experience earn at least the minimum salary of $715,000, not including any signing bonuses. It's possible Mendenhall could have made a good deal more than that: last season he earned $2.5M with the Cardinals.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Rent to Own

Rent to Own
Mrs. Done by Forty and I were driving home from a date night earlier this week, when we passed an Aaron's. Aaron's is a rent to own business, like Rent-A-Center, that leases everything from furniture to big screen televisions. I said to her, "We need to close that place down."

"Why?"

"They take advantage of poor people. Rent-to-own places are just like payday lenders: they make their money by exploiting the fact that poor people don't have money available right now."

"Is it that different than what any money lender does?" Mrs. Done by Forty asked.

"Um, no."

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Relative Costs

Hi, Done by Forty readers. Work has picked up lately, so I am recycling a post from back in February 2013. The blog got about one reader a day back then, and I am pretty sure that reader was my wife, most days. Sweet as she is, she wouldn't admit it, letting me think at least someone outside the walls of our home was reading my words. But the bottom line is that, hopefully, the post will be new to you. I'll be back with original articles soon.
From madmarv00 at Flickr Creative Commons
I'm writing to you from the island of Oahu, as my wife is attending a conference here and we decided to make a vacation of it. We've hiked a lot, up to Manoa Falls and Diamondhead and along the North Shore, watched the surfers take on ridiculous waves at the Pipeline, rode "Da Bus" everywhere for a surprisingly affordable $2.50 (which apparently includes unlimited transfers), and are trying to get our money's worth out of the snorkels we bought at Target back home. It's been a great time and we still have a few more days to enjoy it all.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Psychology of a Tax Return

Psychology Tax Return
Yesterday morning we got our federal tax refund deposited into our checking account. And at almost $700, it felt great. Mrs. Done by Forty and I started talking about some of the fun things we could do with this money: we could put it towards an upcoming vacation, or maybe spruce up the house with a DIY project. But after a while, I had to catch myself and ask: why am I getting excited about our tax return? Isn't it a bit odd? We give the government money that we earned, all year. And then when we get a little of our own money back, it's like we won something: like it's some prize we're lucky to receive. Like Teddy KGB says in Rounders: it's a f-ing joke, anyway. Uncle Sam is paying me with my money.