Monday, December 2, 2019

Does FIRE Make for Healthy Comparisons?

Does FIRE Make for Healthy Comparisons?
My good friends recommended a great podcast recently, Dr. Laurie Santos' The Happiness Lab. The show is based on Santos' immensely popular class on positive psychology at Yale, "The Science of Well-Being", which at one point had over a quarter of the students at Yale enrolled, with hundreds of thousands more enrolled online for free through Coursera.

The podcast tackles the myths of what we think will make us happy (but doesn't), while also outlining the science of what actually makes us happy (even though it's not often what we think).

Monday, November 25, 2019

Gone Too Soon

Gone Too Soon
I broke my writing streak last week, as I went home to Pittsburgh for a funeral. My good friend from high school, T, passed away suddenly. He lived in the same neighborhood as me, and we graduated together. If not for some weird last minute circumstances, he was going to be a groomsman in my wedding. He was my age: not even forty years old yet, with a daughter left behind.

The trip home was a conflicted one. The gut-wrenching feelings of seeing my friend in the casket and knowing that this would be the last time I saw him were paired with a rare reunion: getting to see all my old friends again, all in one place for once. I caught myself feeling happy at times in seeing loved ones I hadn't seen in years, and then felt guilty for feeling that way. Why should I be happy at a time like this?

Monday, November 11, 2019

The CEO of Me Inc., Quitting, and FIRE

I've often heard that people should think of themselves as businesses: that I am the CEO, the Chief Marketing Officer, and sole employee of "Me, Inc." I honestly kind of like the metaphor. I like the idea that, when it comes to our money, we should think about it in terms of profit and loss statements, of investing in ourselves the way a business invests its capital into its own people and its equipment, and how it might be helpful to have some sort of formal vision statement to guide this little company of Me, LLC.

I like the organized nature of this kind of worldview: its commitment to efficiency. And I find it empowering, in a way, to think of myself as the CEO of this tiny organization. You and me and everyone we know: we're all the head boss in charge, in a way.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Our Half Baked Slow Travel Plans

You'd think that after working towards financial independence and early retirement since 2012, a full seven years, that we'd have a thorough plan of what we want to do right after leaving work. Even though we have some decent ideas of what we'd like to fill our days with -- walking Baby AF and yet-to-exist MC Baby to school, volunteering at school and with local charities, helping with homework, making dinner as a family, writing more on the blog, making a podcast and maybe creating a boardgame -- none of these things on their own is necessarily a 'life plan', whatever that is.

They're a lot of things we enjoy, of course. But they're also things that we are either doing right now, or that we could do if we wanted to. None really require us to leave full time work.

But after years of traveling at our quick pace, maybe four or five days in a city and then on to the next, and seeing that Baby AF traveled like a champ earlier this fall, we've finally come up with a thing we'd like to do that truly would require the freedom of a retirement from our current jobs: some slow travel.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Mental Accounting and HSAs

It's open enrollment time for Mrs. Done by Forty and me, a strangely exciting time for a board game geek like me, since open enrollment decisions are like a very nerdy puzzle. One to be noodled over, guessing at how likely certain outcomes will be, weighing costs and tax benefits, and picking the right combination of options between our choices for optimal benefit outcomes.

I think I need to find a new boardgame.

In the meantime, we get to stare at the beautiful puzzle of our combined benefits.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Way Too Transparent: All the Money We Made

Whenever someone asks me how we're able to even consider hitting financial independence or an early retirement by the time I'm forty, I try to be honest. I try to avoid the temptation to tell them it's because we drive a paid off car, that we use our bikes or scooters when we can, or that we budget and watch what we spend on food.

I try not to tell them it's because we travel hack to get cheap travel, or that the things we like to do, like board game nights with some friends and a twelve pack, end up being cheaper than hopping from bar to bar.

Not that those things aren't true. They are, and to some small degree they do save us money. I just think leading with those details of frugality is, well, kind of misleading.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Baby AF in Daycare

Today is the first day of Mrs. Done by Forty's new job, a cool post-doc position that will let her work in her field for a couple of years and let us stay local, all complete with a hardly-believable set of benefits. We're both excited for this opportunity for her to use her PhD in a project that just sounds so cool to me.

I'd tell you about it, but we're weird about keeping our anonymity. Just know that her job is way neater than mine.

It is a little bittersweet though, as that also means Baby AF will be going to daycare for the first time. He's sixteen months old now, and has never spent a day away from Mrs. Done by Forty and me. 

In fact, Baby AF has only been truly babysat by time. So this might be an adjustment for all of us.

Monday, October 7, 2019

To Jax

It was two days before we flew back from Germany that we got the email.

"Please call when you can, son. It's about Jax."

Due to the time difference there was no answer when we called. We spent the day thinking the worst, but felt relieved when we finally were able to get in touch later that evening. Jax was having trouble walking, but, honestly that is something we've seen before and it's usually just that he sleeps directly on the tile rather than on his bed. He has arthritis in one of his hips but, even still, when it's too hot he prefers the cool tile to a soft bed. 

I told my mom to convince him to sleep on the bed and to turn down the AC a bit, and I bet he'd be walking fine in a day or two.

But then we got another email the day before we were getting on a plane. Jax wasn't eating now.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Of Course They Don't Want to Talk Politics

Of Course They Don't Want to Talk Politics
Our flight to Paris was canceled due to a mechanical issue, which I suspect was the result of the under-reported mechanics' strike. Workers of the world unite, but do you think you could let us make our connecting flight?