Monday, October 28, 2013

Embracing Either/Or and Opportunity Costs

Tonya at Budget and the Beach wrote a thought provoking article last month that, among other things, discussed the dichotomy of the "either/or" versus "both" approach. In a nutshell, she posited that when you are presented with two good options, there are benefits, especially as a freelancer, of choosing "both" rather than one or the other. The either/or mentality represents a self-imposed glass ceiling of sorts, that unnecessarily limits your potential. While I agree that having both is a great option, this post takes the counterpoint and argues the merit of choosing between two good options.

Friday, October 25, 2013

May Be Living In Peru for a While...

So Mrs. Done by Forty's research is going a bit more slowly than we'd planned. She is putting in crazy hours, usually not leaving to go home for the night until 10 or 11 pm. And she works seven days a week. Still, she is not progressing at the rate she needs to in order to actually finish her research by February. The bottom line is that it's likely that she'll have to go back to Peru for a second stint early next year. This poses a significant problem since this research is gathering the data for her dissertation but, more importantly, it means I might be away from Mrs. Done by Forty even longer. This isn't going to work because, readers, I really miss my wife. We're only a month in and I am hurting. Life is not going great without her. I'm not eating right, not sleeping right, I can't focus at work or on this blog, and the thought of even more time apart is a deal breaker. So, if things proceed like they are, I have to figure out a plan to go to go down there and work from Peru while Mrs. Done by Forty finishes up.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Cherokee Land Lottery: What Happens When You Randomize Wealth

Cherokee Land Lottery: What Happens When You Randomize Wealth
Back in August I wrote a post on Give Directly, a charity that simply gives money to poor people, and it sparked one of the better debates on the blog. CashRebel recently wrote a post on the subject as well, and he specifically asks whether such a program would work here in the United States. Would simply providing wealth to American familes have long term positive results? Would the lives of those families improve?

As interesting as these questions are, they are a bit academic. It makes for good debate, but how do you get data? Because even if you could give life-changing sums of wealth to people here in this country, it would take decades to see the long term impacts of that charity. Maybe generations. Wouldn't it be great if someone had performed a natural experiment about randomized wealth a long time ago, here, in this country? Well, thanks to an idea of Georgia politicians in the 1830s, an article by economic professors Hoyt Bleakley at the University of Chicago and Joseph Ferrie at Northwestern, and the excellent podcast from Freakonomics, we get to learn of a quirky and sad bit of American history. (And if you have thirty minutes, I definitely recommend listening to the podcast.) Their work reveals what happened when a huge sum of wealth was randomly distributed in the Cherokee Land Lottery.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Do Credit Cards Actually Increase Spending?

There are surprisingly few studies that explicitly examine the impact of credit cards on spending. Several studies have noted a correlation of higher spending with credit cards, but there are several possibilities that can explain the correlation. For example, credit card users as a whole may be more affluent, which might account for higher spending when compared to cash users. And consumers may segment their purchasing behavior, paying for smaller ticket items with cash simply because they have enough cash in their pocket to cover the cost of the smaller purchase, but will pay for more expensive purchases on a card out of necessity or convenience. Additionally, cash buyers may simply spend less due to liquidity constraints: buying fewer items or less expensive items simply because they do not have enough cash on them at the moment. All that goes to say that the correlation observed in prior studies between higher spending and credit cards doesn't necessarily point to credit cards causing that change.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Do It Now!

Emily Capito writes an excellent blog about lifestyle design, leadership, productivity, and unconventional living. Today she wrote a post about striking while the iron is hot, and it reminded me of a similar idea I had started writing about weeks ago, and then, of course, let it sit untouched. I have dozens of these half-started, half-baked posts lying around in my draft folder. Most of them haven't been touched for months, and this particular post was sitting there ironically since it is all about doing remembered tasks now, contrary to the typical prioritization of activities that Covey and other productivity gurus recommend.

Friday, October 11, 2013

We're Getting a New Housemate

Remember when our housemate (let's call her "N") gave notice that she was leaving at the end of October? About that...it turns out she and her boyfriend ("C") are open to the idea of moving in here. We'd all talked about it before, but the general thought at the time was that it might be too crowded. Well, after some consideration, C and N decided that $400 in rent split between two people sounds like a pretty good deal, and we'll have four people living under our roof come December 1st. I'm both excited and a bit apprehensive about the change. Let's run through the pros and cons, and maybe you readers can help me decide if this is a good idea or not.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Notes from Peru

I have no financial insights or opinions today - just a quick post on how the missus is doing in Peru. Mrs. Done by Forty and I have been talking every day over Skype. (And let me cast my vote for VOIP as the best telecommunications innovation of my lifetime. How does this exist?) While a lot of our talk is about missing and loving each other and stuff like that, some of my favorite things to hear about are the differences between life in Peru and here in the U.S. She's too busy right now to type these out herself, worker bee that she is, but here are some of the interesting bits:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Appalachian Trail & an Interview with Haley Miller

Haley Miller
So I've owed you a post on my section hike on the Appalachian Trail for a while now, but I first wanted to include a story of a cool person I met on the flight out east. 

I had a direct flight to Pittsburgh on Southwest but somehow managed to be the very last person in line, in the dreaded "C" group. Seating choices were limited but I did find a middle chair near the front. And being one of those people who tries to meet his neighbors in the plane aisle instead of immediately pulling out a book, I turned and introduced myself to both the women next to me. We got to talking about the reasons for our trips to Pittsburgh and, wouldn't you know it, the woman I was sitting next to just happened to work on the Appalachian Trial in the past, and now works on trails in the state of Oregon. Her name is Haley Miller and she is an insanely cool person with a career to match. So I asked if she'd let me interview her for the blog.