Monday, February 17, 2020

Maybe We Won’t Retire Just Yet?

Mrs. Done by Forty and I have always been planners. Early on in our relationship, we created a New Year's Day tradition of going to The Olive Garden and planning out the upcoming year over salad and breadsticks.

The restaurant has changed but the routine is the same: we both bring our notebooks, we ask for a booth, we eat too much, and just talk about everything that we think would be cool to do with this one big life we’re making together. By the end of the meal, we have a few pages of things we both will try to make happen: travel, work goals, money goals, family goals, all of it.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Middle Class Wealth - 2020 Update

When I saw CBS's video on how America's wealth was divided between quintiles, the five groupings that each hold 20% of all households, I remembered that it had been over five years since I'd written a post outlining how much wealth each quintile had.

How had things changed?

Unfortunately, the Census Bureau stopped providing wealth data in a quintile format right after I'd written that post in 2015.

So without access to the raw data for future years (and let's be honest, I'm no data scientist so I'm not sure what good I could do even if I had those figures) I just was not going to be able to provide the same breakdown from the Census Bureau's data.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Tax Refunds: CDs with a Positive ROI, not "Interest Free Loans"

Tax Refunds: CDs with a Positive ROI, not "Interest Free Loans"
We're almost through January, so that means winter has set in, our resolutions are getting harder to stick to (or have bitten the dust entirely), and personal finance bloggers are trying to figure out how to get a few dollars of affiliate income from a tax prep software industry that has spent the last twenty years trying to keep citizens from filing their taxes for free.

You see, the IRS and the tax prep software agency struck a deal decades ago: the IRS would agree not to create its own free tax filing software, if the industry agreed to offer a free version to middle income and low income filers. Everybody wins, right?

Except the tax prep software industry apparently used a series of tactics to prevent people entitled to the free software, including a particularly disturbing approach targeting military service members, from actually filing for free.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

2019 Spending in the Done by Forty House

We haven't done many spending summaries on the calendar year here at the blog. We used to post a series of Budget Porn posts, sharing all the nitty gritty details of the past month's spending and how much we invested, too. For years, we used to share our net worth on a monthly basis, too.

But somewhere along the lines, we stopped. It felt weird after a while: like we were humble bragging. But instead of bragging like a huge jerk just once, we kept doing it over and over again.

Then recently we decided it might be good to be more transparent. We even decided to share the details of all the money we've ever earned, since, you know, the higher than average income was the real reason we can work towards financial independence, not our lukewarm frugality.

So in that vein, I figured why not share our spending from 2019?

Monday, January 6, 2020

Making One Car Work, and the Hidden Happiness in Small Challenges

Making One Car Work, and the Hidden Happiness in Small Challenges
Our Matrix looks remarkably like this, but with terrible, chipping paint.
One of my recurring internet distractions is looking at vehicles online. I've written about my car lust in the past, and it keeps coming back no matter how many times I tell myself that, since I work from home, we don't really need a second vehicle.

My favorite tool is Search Tempest, a site that runs your search through all the craigslist sites across the nation: an invaluable feature when you look for weird vehicles like I do. Wagons with a stick shift, or an imported Japanese Hiace camper, ideally with 4WD, diesel, and sure, while we're at it, why not throw in a manual, too. 

When I'm not searching for unicorn cars (Why do Americans love automatics? I'll never understand.) I find myself settling for something more reasonable and popular, like a Toyota Prius V, the large, station wagon model. True to form, even this has been discontinued. It seems that whatever cars we like are bound to be unpopular.

Monday, December 30, 2019

A Short Visit to the E.R. on Christmas Eve

I woke up a little after midnight with a pretty intense pain on the right side of my stomach. I'd felt something earlier in the evening but thought it was maybe just gas.

I snuck out of the bedroom Mrs. Done by Forty, Baby AF, and our dog, Cayenne were all sleeping in while visiting my in-laws, and crept into the bathroom to, um, validate whether or not it was just gas. It was not.

I managed to ignore the throbbing and get back to sleep, but then the pain woke me up again around two in the morning. I started googling and it seemed like I might have appendicitis.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Daycare or Not Daycare

Daycare or Not Daycare
The other day, a good friend of ours asked if we knew a specific date we'd be hitting financial independence. Unfortunately, I told her I didn't think we could give an answer. At least in our case, I'm not sure we'll really be able to do a lot of forecasting.

Financial independence, ironically, becomes less in our control as we get closer to it. More and more is in the hands of the market, while our contributions make up a smaller and smaller portion of the overall portfolio. If the market goes up the next year or so we'll likely hit financial independence in my fortieth year without much problem.

If the stock market dips hard, then there's literally nothing we can do to make up for it. Those are the breaks.

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?