Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Psychology of a Tax Return

Psychology Tax Return
Yesterday morning we got our federal tax refund deposited into our checking account. And at almost $700, it felt great. We used a free e-file program that gave us a pretty accurate estimate of what to expect to get back so it wasn't a huge surprise.  Mrs. Done by Forty and I started talking about some of the fun things we could do with this money: we could put it towards an upcoming vacation, or maybe spruce up the house with a DIY project. But after a while, I had to catch myself and ask: why am I getting excited about our tax return? Isn't it a bit odd? We give the government money that we earned, all year. And then when we get a little of our own money back, it's like we won something: like it's some prize we're lucky to receive. Like Teddy KGB says in Rounders: it's a f-ing joke, anyway. Uncle Sam is paying me with my money.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

President Obama Emailed Me About the Minimum Wage

President Obama Minimum Wage
The blog must be getting pretty popular, because recently I started getting emails from President Obama. Pretty cool, right? The economy must be still recovering though, because he's always asking me for money. Dude makes $400,000 a year, but mismanages his pay so badly that he has to ask me to send him money every week. Every time I send him five bucks, I think, man, this is the last time, Barack. But I've got a soft spot for him. I sent him a link to Mr. Money Mustache the other day, but I get the feeling he isn't going to start biking around D.C. or hanging his laundry out to dry on the front lawn of the White House.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

BLS Consumer Statistics: What Do They Tell Us?

BLS Consumer Statistics
I stumbled across some Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) numbers the other day, outlining the average amount American household's spending on everything from clothing, to transportation, food, and housing. This is a treasure trove of data for a personal finance nerd like me. As I dug into the statistics though, I found myself getting a little discouraged by the whole thing. Somewhat surprisingly, it looks like the average "Consumer Unit" (what the BLS calls various groups of people living together) is making pretty good money: nearly $66k before taxes. But, unsurprisingly, we Americans are spending almost all of our income. Let's dig into the numbers:

Monday, February 17, 2014

Anchoring My Expectations

Anchoring My Expectations
Our time in Hawaii had to come to an end sometime, so yesterday we stepped onto a 767 and woke up back in Arizona. We snorkeled in a sea of fish, hiked on lava rock paths, saw waterfalls and petroglyphs and even an active volcano, and we ate way, way too much. I won't go into all the nitty gritty details of our trip, but if you find yourself hungry in Kona, I highly recommend visiting Broke Da Mouth Grindz (try the Garlic Furikake Chicken...just $9 and enough to feed two people) and Da Poke Shack (and try anything, because all the raw fish is delicious).

Now that I'm back, the next big thing coming down the road is my annual review. This will be my first performance review with my new employer, and I'm not entirely sure what to expect. Normally I would let my mind run wild, day-dreaming of raises and fancy promotions. But after hearing about a friend's recent experience, I am taking a different tactic and throwing an anchor on my expectations. Let me explain:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Limit Your Options, Expand Your Wallet

Hi there, Done by Forty readers. My wife and I are still in Hawaii and loving it. Though, sadly, our time here is coming to a close this weekend. On the plus side, that means I'll have time to read the posts you've written while we were away. 

Today, we have a cool guest post from The FIREStarter. He's a UK blogger who writes about reaching Financial Independence & Early Retirement on that side of the pond. Today, his post is on the pitfalls of having too many options, and the paradox of choice.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Give Yourself Credit (Progress is PROGRESS)

Give Yourself Credit (Progress is PROGRESS)
Hi there, blogging buddies! Mrs. Done by Forty and I are on vacation this week, stuffing ourselves with good food and trying to work it off by hiking around this beautiful island. I'm sorry that I haven't been able to keep up with your blog posts, but I'll catch up soon! Today, we have an intriguing guest post from FI Fighter about the psychological hurdles involved with reaching an early financial independence. 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

There Ain't No Rest For the Wicked

"There ain't no rest for the wicked.
Money don't grow on trees.
I got bills to pay.
I got mouths to feed.
Ain't nothing in this world for free.

No, I can't slow down.
I can't hold back,
Though you know, I wish I could.

No there ain't no rest for the wicked
Until we close our eyes for good."

-Cage the Elephant