Monday, July 15, 2019

Wait, Did Paying Off Our Mortgage Kind of Make Us Financially Independent?

So, we did it. We sold a bunch of stock, pulled together our dividends and ESPP payments from June, scrounged up all the cash we could find, and paid off the mortgage last Friday. Pending some paperwork that has to go from the bank to the county, we are mortgage free and own our home outright.

It's a great feeling, if a little more subdued than we thought it might be. Maybe it's because we'd been mortgage free once before. Or maybe it'll just take some time to sink in.

Maybe we're a bit distracted as Mrs. Done by Forty was offered a job on the same day, and her decisions on that are more pressing than celebrating a milestone.

Monday, July 1, 2019

So We're Going to Pay Off the Mortgage

So We're Going to Pay Off the Mortgage
Talking things over with a few friends last week helped us make a decision: we're going to pay off the mortgage. All at once, by using the remaining cash we have from selling our two rental properties, but mostly by selling investments we have in our taxable accounts.

I already know from our mortgage swoop posts that most people probably won't like this idea. I'll try my best to explain our rationale, which I really do think is sound. But I'm not trying to convince other people that this is what they should do. Instead, I want to explain where we're coming from, our thought process, and just want to be as transparent and honest as I'm comfortable with on the blog.

Monday, June 17, 2019

I'm a Goddamn House Cat

I'm a Goddamn House Cat
Thanks to some changes at work, I've been slacking on all things internet: writing for this blog, reading and commenting on others', and keeping up with the latest nonsense on Twitter.

We just went through a re-org, the first I've had to go through in seven years at this company. That means I have a new role, a new team, a new boss, and a new and exciting level of work and stress that I need to get acquainted with. 

As long time readers of the blog know, I work in procurement and have ever since I was getting my undergrad. I worked in my university's procurement office during the day, negotiating prices and contract language, running RFPs, managing our supply chains and cutting POs, and then went to classes at night to earn my BA and then, later, my teaching credential.

Monday, June 3, 2019

Middle Class? How about Middle Quintile? (2019 update)

It’s been four years since I wrote a post on household incomequintiles, in a vain attempt to reframe the way we think about the middle class. I’ve never liked the way that the term ‘middle class’ was simultaneously poorly defined and yet somehow still critical to the way we talked about finances, the economy, and politics.

Nearly everyone considers themselves middle class.  A household earning $30k can define themselves as middle class, even though a family of three at that income level would qualify for some federal subsidies, being within 150% of the poverty line. But most millionaires also consider themselves middle class as well, absurd as that is.

Either the middle class has a definition that is so broad that it includes both the wealthy and those skirting the poverty line, or it’s a term so poorly defined that anyone can claim membership just based on how they feel.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Battling Internet Addiction with a Time Lock Safe

Battling Internet Addiction with a Time Lock Safe
I’ve never thought this blog was meant to help people. For one, I’ve never been particularly good at helping. I have no insights into helping with someone’s nutrition, or the kind of exercise that will finally stick, or how you can get to sleep at a reasonable hour.

Even the thing you’d probably expect me to have good advice on, money, is oddly something I’m not all that good at advising on. The tactics that worked for me may not work for you. We’re outliers in a lot of ways. And just because we’re be able to work towards an early retirement doesn’t mean I have some secret on how to do so; some plan that you can follow, too. 

(If there is any secret, it’s this: we were able to retire early because we earned about double the median household income for the entire time we were working towards FI, and we did so in fairly low cost Arizona after moving here from ridiculously expensive San Diego. That’s kind of it. We might seem more frugal than people who earn as much as we did; but we’re not far more frugal than the median family…who just happens to be stuck earning the median income, too.)

Monday, May 13, 2019

Tariffs are Just Regressive Taxes

Last week I put up a poll on Twitter, asking all three of you readers to decide what I should write about.

Would you rather read a post on tariffs being regressive taxes or, what I assumed would be more popular, our latest life hack that involves a time delay safe?

Apparently a slight majority of you would like me to be an amateur tax policy blogger, so this week I will try to write again about the dumbest part of our revenue system: regressive taxes.

Monday, April 29, 2019

Our Truly Regressive Tax: Social Security

Our Truly Regressive Tax: Social Security
A reader asked me a good question last week, after reading my jumbled rant on systemic problems, and the individual tactics that aren't going to solve them. What, short of running for public office, can we citizens do to encourage systemic solutions?

I have to admit that stumped me a bit. Thinking about changes to the system is nice. Actually coming up with plans to do so is harder.

Executing them? Who even knows how to do that?

So let's give that a try today. Let's talk about the system we use to fund most Americans' retirement: Social Security, one of the few truly regressive taxes out there.

Monday, April 22, 2019

Systemic Problems, Individual Solutions

I've always been a bit of an asshole. While I try my best to be nice, to get along, sooner or later people realize that I'm actually kind of mean.

One of the biggest issues I deal with is being fairly intolerant of others' ideas.

Specifically, I'm really bad at accepting when other people have a different solution to a problem than I think is best. Because, you know, I like my idea.

So let's talk about that a bit today. Let's dig into systemic problems, and talk about the jagoffs who think individual tactics are the right approach to solving them.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Thinking in Bets about FIRE

Annie Duke was always one of my favorite poker players. Like everyone else who watched Rounders in the late nineties, I was immediately hooked on Texas Hold'em and the new ESPN shows devoted to the game. 

Unlike many of the personalities being promoted in WSOP tournaments, Duke wasn't brash or petty or argumentative. Her game was calmly, ruthlessly aggressive: no need to ham it up for the cameras. Duke finished in tenth place (out of 512 players) at the 2000 World Series Championship, while nine months pregnant. 

In the first year of the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, an invitation only event where ten of the world's top players competed for $2M, she faced the best, including her brother, Howard Lederer, and beat them all. Take a look at the final segment of the tournament, where she schools Phil Helmuth heads up. After she beats him, he spends the rest of his time on camera complaining what a long shot she was to even be in the tournament. He can't believe he lost to a woman.