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.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Selling a Rental We've Never Seen

We're finally back from our trip to northern Europe: three and a half weeks of travel hacked goodness spent with our good friends from Phoenix. We'll have some posts and plenty of pictures to share from the trip in the coming weeks.

But we first wanted to tell you about the sale of one of our rentals, that we managed to accomplish mostly via email and digital signatures, from a smartphone.

Let's start at the beginning. How did we come to even own this house?

Monday, June 26, 2017

Hard Externalities in a Long Supply Chain

Hard Externalities in a Long Supply Chain
USA Today recently put out a great in-depth report on short-haul trucking out of LA, called "Rigged". These are not the 18-wheelers you pass on a cross-country road trip, but rather trucks that take goods from a port in Southern California to local warehouses and rail yards: "one small step on their journey to a store near you." 

After taking on unexpected debt at the behest of their employers, these short-distance truckers became embroiled in what has been described as a modern day form of sharecropping: coerced into debt by employers who then used that debt to exploit them, and to keep the workers captive.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Our Trip to Asia

Our Trip to Asia
We're about to leave for our next travel hacked trip, thanks again to the help of Brad at Richmond Savers and ChooseFI. We're making a little loop in northern Europe, from Denmark, to Germany, then Sweden, Iceland, and Scotland. It'll be our last hurrah before we settle down and try to make Baby Done by Forty.

And I'm realizing I never bothered to write up a post on our last trip to Asia. We'll keep it short on the words and heavy on the pictures this time around, for some easy Monday morning scrolling.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Interview on LifeHacker

The sun has shined on our little blog, as Kristin Wong, she of LifeHacker and New York Times fame, asked to interview me recently on a post I wrote back in April: "Boredom, Cognitive Ability, and the Mental Retirement Effect". After Mrs. Done by Forty and I danced around the living room like children, and I texted every person I know to brag, I said yes.

You can read her piece, "Why Early Retirement Isn't as Awesome as It Sounds," along with all the rest of Kristin's excellent work, on the Two Cents section at LifeHacker.