Monday, November 28, 2016

Deep Work, Financial Independence, and Escape

Deep Work, Financial Independence, and Escape
I've been with my current company for four years. Coincidentally, I have about that length of time to go before we reach financial independence, or at least that's what the Mad Fientist's laboratory tells us.

Four years seems like a very short time to reach early retirement. One presidential term. One Olympics.

In another, more real way, the way that involves me going into a job every weekday for nine straight hours, and stressing about work while I'm off the clock, four years is a pretty long time. It's too long to just gut it out: to put my head down and grit my teeth until we're financially independent. I need to find a way to actually make my career more fulfilling and enjoyable, so that these next four years aren't just a slog.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Viceland, Payday, and the Hustle

Viceland, Payday, and the Hustle
This weekend, I heard about a new show on Viceland thanks to a tweet from J Money. It's called Payday, and the show "follows twenty-somethings over the course of a single pay period to see how they spend, struggle, and thrive."

Mrs. Done by Forty and I are hooked already. It doesn't hurt that the show is shot beautifully, like a film that's just artsy enough to be visually cool, but not pretentious and distracting

Monday, November 7, 2016

Onto My Bike, Into My Neighborhood

Onto My Bike, Into My Neighborhood
Just a short post this week, and thanks again to J Money at RockStar Finance, and Eric Ravenscraft and Kristin Wong at LifeHacker for featuring my little blog over the past couple weeks. I really appreciate you sharing a couple recent posts with all your readers, and I've been smiling all week as a result.

Arizona's weather is weird. Now that fall is upon us, we can finally turn off the AC for good and get outside again. A couple weeks ago, I put a new tube on one of my bike tires and decided to pedal on over to our kickball game. It was only about a mile ride, but it was fantastic.

Monday, October 31, 2016

You're Not as Busy as You Think You Are

I keep having the same conversation these days, and it bugs me every time I have it. Coworkers, family, and friends keep telling me about how busy they are. In detail.

At happy hours and dinner parties, it's always the same old tropes. Work is crazy. Management just let go of more people and is trying to do more with less. We're burning the candle at both ends.

This sense of busyness boils over to our personal lives, too. We're so buried during the work week that our weekends are spent cleaning the house, doing yard work, and catching up with the kids. When it's all said and done, there's hardly any time left for yourself, your exercise and hobbies, or personal maintenance.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Your Purchases Can't Buy You Class

Another Monday, another post chock-full of middle class goodness.

The notion that our economic class is defined, not by our income or our wealth, but by our purchases, is fairly prevalent. If you own a house, or a second car, and take the family on a vacation now and again, maybe that means you're middle class. If you rent and take the bus and don't get time away from work, maybe you're not. Middle class people wear certain types of clothes. They eat certain types of food.

This purchase-defined class structure has a historical basis, and it's been portrayed predictably, and inaccurately, throughout the years in television and in movies.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Middle Class & Income by Location

Sad Cayenne doesn't think she's in the middle class.
As we're in an election year, the two major party candidates are talking about how we need to improve things for the middle class. It makes sense. There's a great deal of mythology about the middle class in America, and it's a deep well for politicians to draw from. It doesn't hurt that we still don't have a consistent definition of what it even means to be middle class, despite the efforts of this little blog.

Nonetheless, the middle class exists, even if we can't agree on how to define it, and, somehow, everyone thinks they're middle class. While I like the idea of defining the middle class in terms of household income quintiles, most of us can agree that the middle class is a relative term, not an absolute one. To be in the middle, you need something on either side.

Monday, October 3, 2016

It's Not Going to Stop

It's Not Going to Stop
Paul Thomas Anderson is my favorite director. All his movies are perfect, and if you disagree with me, that's your right and your opinion. But you are wrong. My favorite of his movies is Magnolia (though Boogie Nights makes it a tough NSFW). It's a tear inducing drama about a web of human heartache from which its characters try to escape.

The movie illustrates, in painful and beautiful detail, the problems that we humans bring upon ourselves over and over, like addicts. We want to quit, but we can't. Part inherited, part self-inflicted, the story rings true because I think, most of us have a story like that. The thing we want to quit; the way we need to improve, and we try, but we can't seem to make happen. We viewers identify with the poor characters, because we, too, try hard, and fail, and wonder to ourselves lying in bed at night, what is wrong with us?

Monday, September 26, 2016

Early Retirement, and Where Our Property Taxes Go

Early Retirement, and Where Our Property Taxes Go
Last week we got our property tax bill. And just like every year, I was strangely excited to open it. I know this means I'm an odd duck, but there's a part of me that likes seeing how my tax dollars support the local government. It makes me feel connected to my city.

Plus, there's the fact that our property taxes benefit from a cap: they can only increase 5% each year no matter what happens to property values. But there's no limit on how much they can fall. So when we purchased our home in 2010, our property tax bill was a preposterously low $872. They continued to fall each year until 2013, hitting a low of $762, as the assessments seemed to lag behind the property value trends. Then, as property values in Arizona fully recovered, our tax bills only increased 5% each year. So, somehow, our taxes are lower now than they were at the depth of the real estate crisis of 2009 and 2010, even though our home is worth double what it was back then. Ain't local government grand?

Monday, September 19, 2016

Always Be Frontloading?

Quick apology for the hiatus. We have a new puppy, Cayenne, who is adorable and is pictured there on the right, but also wakes us up four times a night to go outside and pee, and who needs constant supervision all day, and has already given us two scares with the vet. So we're sleep deprived in the Done by Forty household, and all our attention is going to the pup, and to life, and to sneaking in short naps to stay sane. But back to the blog...

As you've surely found out by now, we've stolen all the ideas we use for financial independence. The concept itself we got from Mr. Money Mustache. We learned how to invest in index funds from Jim Collins. We learned that living with our parents well into our forties was okay from Joe and O.G at Stacking Benjamins. So, I borrow from the real experts. But what do you expect? I majored in English, not Finance.