Monday, October 16, 2017

Housing, Mobility, and Opportunity

Housing, Mobility, and Opportunity
My family has always been mobile. My mother moved here from the Philippines in the seventies with an associates degree from the lesser known MIT: Mapua Institute of Technology. My father took his mechanical engineering degree from Massachusetts to chase the jobs where they led him: South Africa, San Francisco (where he met my mother), Arizona (where I was born), Nevada, Montana, before finally settling our family in Pittsburgh, where the pay was pretty good and you could buy a big house in the suburbs with good schools on a single income.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Inside the Index

Inside the Index
If you write about personal finance long enough, you find yourself walking some well-worn ground. After a while, it seems we all take a crack at the same tired problems that so many other writers have over the years.

We've all written about paying off consumer debt. And who hasn't had a hot take on a way to be just a little more frugal?

So with my apologies, today I'm writing about a subject that you've all heard about too much these days: genocide, and why it's not good.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Budget Porn: September 2017

Budget Porn: September 2017
They say that you never bury the lede, so here it is: September destroyed our budget.

We spent way above our long term monthly average, most of our spending was completely discretionary, and this month threw off our future financial independence projections pretty significantly.

We might have screwed up.

Let's dig into the details to see how.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Visit to Copenhagen

A Visit to Copenhagen
Happy Monday, friends. We are going to try something that hasn't been accomplished on this blog in years: writing weekly. And to keep the streak going, today we're going to tell you about our trip to Copenhagen.

We went, as we tend to do, with our good couple friends who have similarly leaned into travel rewards, thanks to Brad at Richmond Savers. We ended up doing a stopover (a long, multi-day layover) in Copenhagen, that allowed us to also visit Berlin, come back, and then continue on the same ticket on our way to Stockholm. Basically, on our (nearly) free ticket to Stockholm, we took a extra week in between to visit another couple cities.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Median Income, Middle Class

Median Income, Middle Class
The Census Bureau came out with a new report last week, which gives me a chance to write about my favorite topics: the middle class, and middle class income.

It's such a charged term: middle class. Everyone has an idea of what it means, even if we don't agree on a single definition. But a median household is a decent place to start, as no matter what your definition of "middle class", I bet the median household fits within it.

So let's take a look at what that median household earns.

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Triumphant Return of Budget Porn!

The Triumphant Return of Budget Porn!
After a multi-year hiatus, we are bringing back the blog's most popular running series: budget porn.

I took down all the porn after I was interviewed for an article by a reporter, and then, that night, quickly freaked out about our anonymity being blown. I emailed the reporter and pleaded with her to please kill the article, which was a jerk move on my part as she'd already started working on it.

She was nice enough to acquiesce, but the interview brought our feelings about what we wanted to keep private into focus.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Three Years Out: Are We on Track for FI?

Three Years Out: Are We on Track for FI?
Two weeks ago, I turned thirty seven. It's a weird feeling, getting old. I don't feel old. I feel like the same person, minus a little softness around the tummy and a hairline that isn't quite where I left it.

And yet here I am, older, supposedly an adult; not some kid trapped in a man's life, still playing kickball and board games and drinking too many beers on a school night.

As each year comes, we hit another milestone on our path to financial independence. We've only got three mile markers left before the big four-o. Will we make it?

Let's see what the Mad Fientist's laboratory says.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Iceland's Ring Road in a Kuku

Iceland's Ring Road in a KukuOn our recent trip to Northern Europe, we were able to use hotel points for all the countries except for one: Iceland. A friend had suggested that we try driving around the ring road in a van, and we immediately fell in love with the idea.

We always stay in hotels or AirBNBs. Why not a van for a change?

We started reaching out to rental companies to see if we could score a deal in exchange for writing a review. (Full disclosure: we received a discount on the rental, and some free items for the van, like sleeping bags, pillows, and a GPS.)

Kuku Campers was the first to write back, and they had the added bonus of being a funky, cool company, to boot. See that picture to the above? That's our van. Adventure Time!

Monday, August 7, 2017

Taxes, Behavior, and Regressive Incentives

Taxes, Behavior, and Regressive Incentives
As the latest attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act have recently failed, it seems that Congress is moving on to the next item on their agenda: tax reform. I guess that's why I keep stumbling on articles suggesting drastic changes to the tax code: like eliminating the mortgage interest deduction.

My main beef is not with any specific deduction in our tax code. (Though the mortgage interest deduction is curious, to say the least.)

Rather, I think our system of deductions runs counter to the goals of our progressive income tax system itself. Looking at most of the incentives, the more you earn, and the more tax you pay, the more you benefit from the programs.