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?

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.