Monday, October 18, 2021

Government Makes the Market

Early retirement has been a blessing in these long days of the pandemic. Our days went from a non-stop juggling of work, parenting, cooking, and cleaning to, well, a leisurely juggling act of the same things. Mrs. Done by Forty decided she wanted to keep working and it's been a very good thing for both of us: she's happiest when she gets to put her PhD to use and getting to do so from home is kind of a dream scenario. 

My time is filled with puzzles, toys, crayons and walks with Toddler AF, along with diapers and eye gazing and coaxing Baby JC to sleep. In the breaks, there are a lot of online board games and yard work.

Monday, September 20, 2021

Wealth Quartiles, and Who Is Rich, Anyway?

The other day, a question came up on my Twitter feed. Do you consider yourself rich?

I like this sort of question. Ideally, it inspires a little introspection and gets me to step back and get some perspective. Do I understand where we stand financially? Do I appreciate how lucky we are?

To get that perspective, it helps to understand what kind of money the average family has. We've written a lot about average incomes and income quintiles with this in mind.

Monday, September 13, 2021

I Guess I Like Cars Now?

So there was a slight omission in our last annual "are we on track for FIRE" post. Okay, two small omissions, that totaled twenty thousand dollars. Unintentionally following a trend that swept America while we were cooped up in a pandemic, we bought not one, but two, used cars: a 2015 Lexus RX350, and a 2006 Saab 9-3 2.0T wagon (or "Sportcombi" for Saab nerds).

What would have possessed us to buy two additional cars, mere months after writing an ode to the Matrix and the happiness of making one car work?

Monday, August 30, 2021

Stuck in the Middle with You

Stuck in the Middle with You
Bill Simmons once mentioned that people have a weird quirk when it comes to talking about weddings. No matter how many people you had at your wedding, if someone had twenty more people at their wedding, then they had a huge wedding. If someone had 20 fewer people, they had a small, intimate ceremony. Your wedding, though, was pretty normal: just enough loved ones to celebrate your beautiful day.

It's stuck with me, and now I notice this sort of relative comparison everywhere. People with homes larger than yours, or with things like workout rooms or finished basements that you don't have, are too big. Who could even use all that space? Can you imagine what it's like to clean that place?

Monday, August 23, 2021

Zero Days Out...Were We On Track for Financial Independence?

Zero Days Out...Were We On Track for Financial Independence?
I turned forty one a couple weeks ago, which was kind a bummer. I've never been a big fan of my birthday and this has only gotten worse with age. I'd like to stop commemorating it altogether, but I have these people who love me and reminding me is a way to show that love, which is great. It's also a bittersweet reminder that, yes, I have less time now than I did last year.

It doesn't feel like I have so little time, to be honest. I don't feel forty one. And I don't feel old. I feel like I did all through my twenties and thirties: I just feel good, and I feel like the same guy. Yes, I have kids now and, sure, my body isn't as taut. But I'm me.

Monday, June 28, 2021

For Me, it's the RE

The correct thing to do in FIRE is to focus on the financially independent part: the freedom you gain from having financial security. If you no longer needed to work for money, what would you do with your one and precious life? Would you travel the world full time? Write that book you've been thinking about for decades? Start a business or non profit?

I feel some shame for not having great answers to many of those questions. Or, maybe I should say that the things I'd choose to do are not all that different from what I'd already been doing while working: playing board games, writing and reading, hanging out with my friends, watching the kids, cooking, tending to the house and the cars, taking some tasty naps. But these are mundane and totally ordinary pleasures. None of them require retirement. The only somewhat impressive thing we'd like to do once financially independent is travel more abroad, and we were kind of doing that already

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

And Then We Were Four

We left for the hospital just before midnight. The on-call OB said that if Mrs. Done by Forty's contractions were five minutes apart and consistent, then it was time to go. We called our friend to come over since Toddler AF was asleep, grabbed the suitcase, and drove off. 

At the hospital though, the nurses weren't so sure Mrs. Done by Forty was in labor. Early labor, sure. Regular, intense contractions, yes. But not "labor labor". After being told "let's wait another hour and see where we're at" the entire night, they finally released Mrs. Done by Forty at 9 am, nine hours after we arrived, and told us to come back when we were really in labor.

"But I feel like I am in labor."

Monday, April 19, 2021

No Job. New Plan?

It's been a couple months since my sudden retirement, readers, and the days have been calm. Rewarding, even. This is the type of balance I need, at least while the pandemic drags on, Mrs. Done by Forty continues to work, while nearly nine months pregnant, and Toddler AF seeks our attention every moment. It's a lot, but it's a balance we can live with. For me, taking the corporate job out of the routine has added by subtracting. I'm happier. Calmer. More at peace.

What am I doing with my days? The short answer is spending a lot of time with Toddler AF, which means coloring (and buying packs of coloring books when I can find them on sale), reading children's books (and flying through the library's recommended reading lists), teaching him how to type out words on the laptop, squishing playdough into shapes, finding science experiments to do online, and getting all the time in the backyard we can before Arizona's sadistic summer drives us back inside or into the pool.

When he finally, thankfully naps around one, I catch up on reading, ride my bike (though that is not working the past few weeks as it's already too hot by the afternoon), work on the cars a bit (oh yeah, we bought, um, two used cars since I wrote that post about making one car work), taking my new-to-me Saab station wagon out in search of highway onramps, and catching up with friends on the telephone. Or nap. Sometimes I just nap.

Monday, March 22, 2021

Is $400k Middle Class? Income Quintiles: 2021 Update

Is $400k Middle Class?  Income Quintiles: 2021 Update

2021 is determined to deprive us of nice things, so some tired click bait has been making the rounds again: claiming that a $400k income somehow qualifies as middle class in some coastal cities.

I don't have to link to this junk, right? No, I don't. We won't. We don't have to give wealthy misanthropes the attention they thirst for.

Still, anytime that popular media goes off the rails with definitions of the middle class, it's a good time to center our understanding on what people actually earn in this country. As always, I'm using my favorite, easy to understand method: income quintiles.

Monday, February 8, 2021

A Kinder Means Testing

Don't Means Test Stimulus Checks
Now that congressional Democrats have moved past the Republican's latest political showboating (this time in the form of a twelve hour vote-a-rama) the non-fascist party can move forward with a COVID relief bill. They'll likely do so through reconciliation, a process that allows certain bills to pass with only 51 votes in the Senate instead of 60. Since it's apparently not possible to get ten Republicans on board with a relief package if they don't control the White House.

The catch with reconciliation is that it can only be used once per fiscal year, and only for laws related to taxes and spending. Who and what determines whether a bill is related to taxes and spending? The Byrd Rule, named after West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, provides a six pronged test of the bills. And the Senate Parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough (the first woman to hold the position), will deem which parts of the bill adheres to the Byrd Rule.

Okay, now that I've scared off most of the readers with parliamentary wonk links, the three of us can get to what I really want to talk about: what's being reported about the Democrats' misguided plans to provide relief checks to fewer Americans than was provided under the Trump Administration & the prior split Congress.

Monday, January 25, 2021

And I'm Out

I wasn't sleeping, and for the usual reason. I was so stressed from work most nights, thinking about deadlines I wasn't able to meet and the series of conversations I'd need to have explaining when we could deliver, that I couldn't turn my brain off enough to relax & doze off. Sometimes I'd be up just to one or two in the morning, sometimes I'd be up through the night. 

After that, being productive at work the next day was more or less impossible. I'd end up even further behind by the end of the day, even more stressed out about how everything was going to be done in time. Lather, rinse, repeat.

COVID certainly wasn't helping. Mrs. Done by Forty and I were juggling full time work and Toddler AF, trying to make sure the kid was engaged and learning (or at least not running face first into furniture) all while sticking to our rule of no screen time. Throughout the day, we'd take turns stepping away from the laptop to relieve the other, swapping our employee and parent hats, and using nights and weekends to catch up on work. And we have a new baby on the way in April, which just added to the anxiety.