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.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Spending is Arbitrary

Spending is Arbitrary
I really like the ChooseFI podcast. While I love me some MarketplacePlanet Money, and Stacking Benjamins, the ChooseFI show is the only podcast in my rotation where the specific issues impacting financial independence and early retirement are front and center. Plus, their opening music is indistinguishable from 1970's porn music, so it's got that going for it, which is nice

Monday, May 8, 2017

Stagnant Wages, Inequality, and Early Retirement

Stagnant Wages, Inequality, and Early Retirement
The other day the missus and I were browsing through our wage history on the Social Security Website, ssa.gov, because we are nerds. Or, at least I am, and my wife loves me enough to humor my personal finance oddities.

My first wages? All the way back in 1994, when I was earning $4.25 an hour busing tables on the weekends at King's: Pittsburgh's crummy version of a Denny's. (Our good version? Eat'n Park. If you have the opportunity, by all means try the salad bar, a coffee, and a smiley cookie.) Since then, it's been a fairly steady march towards higher and higher wages, with some big jumps coinciding with big life choices (leaving the public sector, turning my back on teaching, and selling out to become a corporate shill).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Boredom, Cognitive Ability, and the Mental Retirement Effect

Boredom, Cognitive Ability, and the Mental Retirement Effect
Anybody bored these days? Me, neither. Things have been moving a good-but-hectic pace the last few months. Between all our house stuff, making a farmhouse table (credit to Mrs. Done by Forty for the cool stain and finish and our friends for all the distressing), work deciding to pick up out of nowhere, and learning how to maintain a pool on the fly, I don't have the gall to feel bored. At all. Every day has a list of things to keep me occupied, and I kind of like it.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Should I Stay in My Lane?

Should I Stay in My Lane?
Sorry again for the long haitus. We have been juggling a lot with unpacking, getting ready for our housewarming party, which was lovely, building a farmhouse table in time for our party guests to distress with random tools, and selling our house. In case you were wondering, we went with option 2, selling to the investor for $225k, with them paying for all the closing costs.

There are never any good excuses for not writing for three whole weeks, but I suppose these reasons are better than most that I give. We're settling back in to a normal routine and I'm aiming to publish something new every Monday until our next trip in July. Here's to making it happen.