Monday, November 23, 2020

Baby, Baby

Like so many other Americans, we celebrated a bit these past couple weeks. We felt some relief that a (too-small) majority of Americans made a choice for competence, decency, and democracy. And because of that, we're allowing ourselves to feel a little hope, too.

It's premature. The primary problem with voting an authoritarian into office is that they're hard to get out by the same method. Trump was never going to go quietly. He's already using the office of the presidency to spread outright lies, misinformation, and blatantly trying to incite chaos and violence on behalf of his supporters. By the time we're reading this on Monday, Trump's legal team will file even more baseless lawsuits in the hope that one of the cases might make it to the Supreme Court that he's stacked with unqualified allies.

Which all goes to say, it's not over. When you're facing a political opponent without morals or an allegiance to our country, it never really is.

Monday, September 21, 2020

The Justice We Choose

I don't know what to write about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg passing. I only know enough to be dangerous about her tenure on Supreme Court, the significance of her service, or what this will mean for the nation.

I think I know what will happen next in the Senate. Republicans will prove once again that they stand for nothing besides power, and they will give a new justice the hearing and confirmation they would not grant to Merrick Garland

These GOP senators listened to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford's testimony, and then listened to Kavanaugh's unhinged response, and decided to confirm him anyway. It seems naive to pretend these same Republican senators are going to suddenly find a conscience, or be shamed into decent behavior by pundits pointing out their hypocrisy by reading their own quotes on Merrick Garland.

Senate Republicans will confirm the justices they want and will refuse to consider justices they don't. It's as simple as that. 

Monday, September 14, 2020

FIRE Buys You Class...Whether You Want it or Not

Pursing financial independence is an exercise in class mobility. No matter what economic class you start in, or what class you like to tell people you're a member of, when you have enough money to never have to work again, you're functionally wealthy: you're now part of the upper class.

Doing so at an age so young that it can barely be understood by friends and coworkers just underscores the point. 

You're not just wealthy, you've become part of this new class at an insultingly young age, and everyone around you would appreciate it if you would at least feel a little bit bad about it.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Equality or Equity?

We Americans, it seems, are at the end of our pandemic ropes. Whatever collective actions we were going to take to whip this virus, it sure looks like we've already taken them.

We are tired, tired of all of this, and we want to return to some sort of normalcy. Return the kids to school because we're told we have to return to the office. We want to return to our favorite restaurants and vacation spots. To sports. To campus. To the way it was before.

Safely, of course. With masks and distancing. We don't want anyone to get sick. We are good and caring people, but we can't stay inside forever. Life must go on.

Monday, August 17, 2020

One Year Out: Are We On Track for Financial Independence?

I turned forty last week. It felt weird.

But my birthdays always do. I've never been a big fan of the day. The attention, the singing, the taking stock of the past that is supposed to happen: all of it feels odd to me. I appreciate the sentiment that I am loved and that people care enough to let me know it. But the bad feelings tend to outweigh the good. I'd just as soon pretend it was a normal Wednesday, have a beer or two, and call it a night.

To add to the pressure, there's this whole financial independence goal that thirty-two year old Brian thought would be a good idea to write about, you know, before actually doing any math to see if it was possible. As the date gets closer, my pessimism grows. And the goal is public, which just adds to my anxiety.

We're a year out from the deadline. Will we be financially independent by then? And even if we are, will we feel confident enough to leave work by then?

Let's take a peek at the numbers and see what's what.

Monday, June 29, 2020

What Number Is It?

What Number Is It?
Sometime this past week, our kitchen sink started draining really slowly. None of our usual tricks, like plunging the sink, or running the garbage disposal or dishwasher to try to push through the clog, had any real effect. If anything, they made things worse.

By Thursday, the water wasn't receding at all. I resorted to scooping the water I could out of the sink with a big mason jar into a bucket and dumping that into the backyard. 

I disconnected the pipes under the sink to get the rest of the water out, and tried to snake the drain with a little manual snake from Amazon. The thing kinked up and turned on itself (behold my DIY skills) so after an hour of that, I did what I hate doing: admitting I can't fix something myself and calling a professional.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Your Tax Dollars, Hard at Work

Our Tax Dollars, Hard at Work
Like a lot of you, I'm dealing with emotions right now. Anger, and sadness, and frustration at the terrible violence Black people have been suffering at the hands of police, and the continued violence the police and national guard dole out to citizens who dare to protest that violence.

I am dealing with these things as someone who is not Black, which is to say, I am dealing with a tiny portion of the issue, and in an easy, superficial way. A way that raises my awareness just a bit, but I can put the whole thing away whenever I like. I can feel bad for a week or two, donate some money, and then put the issue on the shelf if I want and go about my day.

It's a convenient way of dealing with it all. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

In This Together

In This Together
Sorry for staying away so long, friends. I've always found it weird when bloggers apologize for not writing, but I do feel a kind of guilt for being away for two months. I wish I had a better excuse other than the fact that I've been busier than I've ever been, either at work or at home. Now I'm experiencing both, so something has to give and that something is writing.

My category space at work is collaboration: the software and related hardware necessary for collaborative apps, video conferencing, whiteboarding, instant messaging, soft phones, virtual conferences, and the like. The increase in work in this space is completely unprecedented. It has me working some nights throughout the week. Even headsets, the supposedly easy commodity in my space, are eating up a lot of time, as we work through a global shortage.

Monday, March 16, 2020

It's Been a Minute

I've been sick, dear readers. For the past two plus weeks, I've had something that feels a lot like the flu. Though I was tested for the flu and it came back negative so I guess that means it was something...other than the flu. But the only test available was the flu test, so that's all I really know.

Mrs. Done by Forty and Baby AF had it, too, but got better quicker than I did. After the second week, I got a nasty (viral?) rash all over [photograph redacted], and that's what finally got me in to the doctor. 

They took a biopsy of a piece of skin on my left arm, I got my very first stitch, and we're still awaiting the results. I'm on a steroid and some sort of antihistamine pill, and, thankfully, as of today I'm feeling mostly better. I just have a bunch of weird tiny scars all over me.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

A Little Past Financial Independence

Before we dive in to this week's post, I wanted to mention that I was a guest on one of my favorite podcasts last week: Jamila Souffrant's Journey to Launch.

I've been listening to Jamila's podcast for while and it was such a cool, surreal experience to get to chat with her. (Though like everyone else, I hate the sound of my voice, so I had to listen to the episode in five minute chunks before hitting pause and berating myself for sounding the way I do, and for letting inane thoughts fall out of my piehole.)

Jamila and I talk about financial independence (what else?), specifically digging in to whether financial independence is possible for everyone and anyone, education, debt, and a lot more.

Here is the link to the episode. And if you're not listening to Jamila's show yet, go ahead and add it to your podcast rotation. You won't be sorry.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program.

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.