Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Quick break...

Hi all,
I have to apologize again for the lack of writing as of late.  I have been pursuing a new opportunity that I hope to write more about shortly, but it has been taking up free time in the evenings and on the weekends.

I will put out a monthly check in for December this week though and, with some luck, will have some news that improves our bottom line.

*Photo is from mike@bensalem at Flickr Creative Commons.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Why we...Scoot!

Our Vino
...with our old landlord's Land Rover in the background
We bought our scooter in San Diego when gas first shot over $4 a gallon back in 2008.  My wife found a little 125cc Yamaha Vino on Craigslist, advertising an amazing 80+ mpg.  It looked immaculate and seemed to be gently used.  So we met the seller in a drug store parking lot that weekend before realizing, hey, we don't actually know how to ride this thing.  Luckily, riding it around the parking lot was about as easy as riding a bike, and we realized immediately that riding on two wheels is a lot better than riding on four.  So we tried negotiating a lower price, but it turned out we were dealing with a savvy seller.  Given that gas prices were at historic highs, he was showing the scoot over the weekend before taking offers that Monday.  With the situation as it was, we ended up being in a multiple-offer scenario. Our full price offer was trumped by another, but the seller asked if we were willing to beat it. Thinking this might be a ploy, I said we'd match: and he could choose who he wanted to sell the Vino to.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

How We Think About Money

If you're reading this, you probably spend at least some time thinking about money.  And not in the "I-wish-I were-rich" or the "I-want-to-buy-a-new-iPhone" thinking kind of way. Folks of our ilk think of money in the way that engineers think about machinery or fuel.  We consider efficiency and design and improvements.  In short, when it comes to Benjamins, we are a special breed of nerd: the kind who enjoy redirecting spending money to investment accounts, and then also enjoy making a spreadsheet about it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why We.....Have a Housemate

Today starts a new series of posts on the things we do to save and earn money called "Why We...".  I'll write about things we actually do and know, at least a little, about.  So any bad information you see here won't be from sheer speculation -- if we mess up, we'll do it together.  Up first: why we have a housemate.

My wife and I have had housemates since we started dating.  In fact, it turns out that neither of us has had a place of our own in our entire lives: from childhood to now, we've been living with people.  Maybe we don't know what we're missing.  But when we rented, we always rented a room advertised on Craigslist.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Monthly Snapshot: October 2012

A former boss once told me that I'd never really be done with a project if I didn't know what success looked like.  Suppose that I came up with an idea to improve an internal process within the company: employees don't know how to file their TPS reports.  I might decide to create an instructional guide, and to offer some training sessions.  But I want to make sure the plan is accepted by the employees, so we'd need to think about change management, as well.  I could find all the stakeholders and subject matter experts, identify the root cause of the problem, create an implementation plan and even put that plan into action.  But if I didn't know what success looked like, how could I be sure that the plan worked?  After all that work, what evidence would we have that showed employees filing their TPS reports with the proper cover page?

Personal finance is like that, a lot of the time.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Nuts and Bolts

Saying you want to be financially independent by forty is one thing.  Having a plan is another.

So, here is our plan:

  1. Pay off our home by January 1, 2014.  This is really where our family is different from the others on the block, and from some the other early-retirement/financial households.  The math almost always says to put your money into the market rather than to pay down low-interest, sometimes-but-not-always-deductible home debt.  It does in our case, too: we have a fixed 15 year mortgage at 4.25% and an index mutual fund will beat that most years.  But here is one area where our psyche wins over the spreadsheet.  I want the psychological freedom of having absolutely no debt.  To that end, we're making an extra payment to principle every month.  My gut says that once the home is paid off, my work performance may improve as I'd be willing to take more risks and to advocate interesting ideas, possibly making the psychological benefits financial ones, too.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Goal...

My goal is to reach financial independence by the time I am forty. I am thirty two years old today, leaving me eight years to accomplish what most people fail to do over a lifetime.  Or, I suppose, almost nine if I allow myself to get out of the rat race while I'm still forty.

Why am I doing this?

Because while money is really crumby at buying love or happiness, it's really good at buying time. When working for money is strictly optional, fifty to sixty hours of your week clear up immediately. With a home, basic utilities that turn on when I flip the switch, two cars and a moped, and enough cash to feed the family, I feel like I have enough money. I definitely don't have enough time. My life is a marathon sprint from one pressing need to another: to work, to the family, to church, to personal development, to recreation and back to go again. I want enough time that this series of sprints turns into a lazy, meandering walk.

 How am I doing this?