We’ve got healthcare! “Health share”, actually

Published March 27, 2017   Posted in How to Think

As we wind down our working careers and slide naked into our next life of full-time travel in an RV, figuring out our healthcare options was the major remaining task on our plates. After months of research, we’ve decided on healthcare.

Without making you read a bunch of text before spilling the beans, here goes: We chose Liberty HealthShare.

Technically, it’s not insurance, but it still qualifies under the Affordable Care Act as insurance. Thus, we are being good little citizens of this wonderful country of ours by submitting to the requirements established by our political class.

Quick health check: I almost never go to the doctor. I work out routinely and lead a healthy life. We eat mostly vegan at home. Occasional drinks. Last blood test returned perfectly normal. More or less, I don’t need much in the way of insurance. My wife suffers from migraines, but she is as active and healthy as I am.

Why Liberty HealthShare?

We hate health insurance. In fact, we hate insurance in general. The insurance industry is a huge money-maker for large corporations in the United States, and there’s a reason for that. Thankfully, we have USAA for our car insurance – which helps to ease the psychological burden of maintaining insurance, but with healthcare, we didn’t want to touch the whole “Marketplace” thing if we could avoid it…even with subsidies.

Healthcare is also more difficult for full-time RVers, like us. Most traditional health insurance companies won’t cover health costs once you leave your home state. While we do maintain a home address, we won’t actually be at that address the large majority of the time. We’re travelers, damnit.

Insurance just doesn’t work for us. But, a health share can. You incur a medical expense. You submit a claim. Done. It doesn’t matter where in the United States you are.

What is a health share? More or less, you’re sharing the medical costs among those who are generally healthy. Monthly dues are all pooled together and collectively fund the healthcare costs of those who are members of the health share. Health share services are about as straightforward as anything I’ve seen in the healthcare industry.

Liberty HealthShare happens to be a non-profit organization, which means revenue is not the predominant factor in health services for its members. However, they aren’t required to cover medical expenses, either. More on that below.

How much do we pay for this service?

We signed up for Liberty’s “Complete” plan, which covers 100% of eligible healthcare costs up to $1,000,000.

As a couple, we pay $299 / month for service on both of us. We also paid a $135 signup fee upon acceptance into the program. The plan requires a $1,000 Annual Unshared Amount, which is Liberty’s way of describing out-of-pocket expenses.

There is no such thing as “in-network” doctors with health shares. For our $299 / month, we can go to any doctor at any hospital – a requirement for those of us who travel.

The downside of health shares

While health sharing services can be quite a bit cheaper and more flexible than traditional insurance plans, they also aren’t governed by the same laws that insurance companies operate under. This means that health shares are under no legal obligation to cover your medical costs.

In addition, most require their members to abide by certain ethical rules – such as no smoking or excessive drinking, etc. And if you’re skydiving and hurt yourself, they probably won’t cover those types of expenses. If you are engaging in selective activity that increases your chances of huge healthcare costs, health shares may not cover you.

Including pre-existing conditions. My wife suffers from migraines, which is a pre-existing condition. Liberty HealthShare will not cover migraine-specific treatment for the first year. While not ideal, I can at least appreciate the fact that we know that up front.

Health shares aren’t required to accept you. If you are overweight or lead an unhealthy lifestyle, you may not be a candidate for membership. That’s just the way it is, and it helps to keep costs down for all members.

Check out their “Do I Qualify?” page for more on how Liberty runs their ethical rules and system of beliefs.

Even with these downsides, Liberty HealthShare was a clear winner for us. It enables us to maintain our mobile lifestyle and allows us to meet the federal government requirement for healthcare at a reasonable cost. It also lets us avoid the whole Obamacare thing and the uncertainty around what it might look like down the road. Liberty HealthShare is a simple solution for us.

And, we like simple.

The Friday Feast ~ the 24th of March

Published March 24, 2017   Posted in Friday Feast

The personal finance community is filled with so many talented writers and inspiring families in search of something better out of life than the traditional society-approved plan of buying lots of stuff and retiring in your 60s if you’re lucky.

Here is a look at the best of this week’s personal finance blogs.

In this episode of Friday Feast: Cantankerous Life, Enwealthen, Fireball Finances, Shift Upwards, Cait Flanders, The Financial Diet, Farmhouse Finance, Minimalist in the City, Investing Doc and Humble Buck. (more…)

Is this blog dead? No, but…

Published March 20, 2017   Posted in Having some fun

ThinkSaveRetire.com is a blog I started to chronicle our path towards early retirement. Now that I’ve reached that goal, I am confronted with a question that I had never anticipated answering: Where do I take the blog? Is it dead? Maybe just…hibernating?

I’m going to unload a little more honesty for you good people. I’m sure you’re used to that by now… 🙂

From an early retirement standpoint, mission accomplished. Job done. Good for me…moving on.

But, I would be kidding myself if I tried to make you good people believe that I continue to value the time I spend maintaining this blog as much as I have in the past. Frankly, I don’t. I feel like I’m moving on to bigger and better things – both personally and professionally, and I promised myself that once this stopped being fun, a change needs to be made.

Truthfully, I did not start this blog to get a bunch of hits. Although I sometimes strut around on Twitter with some blog accomplishment, I genuinely don’t care. I don’t care about running the most popular blog. No fucks given about SEO.

Now, what’s next? Rest assured that I have absolutely no intention of shutting down the blog because my wife and I accomplished our goals. Instead, the blog needs to change its focus. It no longer follows our journey towards early retirement because we’re there. And, I am sure you noticed that I’ve eliminated my Wednesday posts.

For the past couple of years, my regular publishing schedule included a new article Monday and Wednesday with the Friday Feasts going out…you guessed it, on Fridays. Now, I’m nixing the Wednesday article. My hope is to maintain a Monday and Friday posting schedule as much as possible as my wife and I travel the country.

No promises, but that’s my goal. When life gets in the way, life will come first. Travel will come first. Getting out in the middle of nowhere without Internet access and beautiful scenery comes first. The blog comes somewhere after that.

And yes, this blog will remain an outlet to funnel shit straight from my brain and onto the digital screen. What kind of shit?

Ah, now we’re talkin’. I have thought a lot about that question lately.

What’s next for ThinkSaveRetire.com?

This is where I would love some feedback from the congregation. You may have already noticed an influx of guest posts, and that is something that I hope to continue. I love giving other writers an outlet to offer their own perspective on money, jobs and lifestyles.

For example:

I also covered several non-financial related topics in the not-so-distant-past:

What next?

First, I have an announcement to make. I have officially joined the Rockstar Finance team! I am in a CTO-type role in Rockstar and spearhead a lot of the technical and development efforts that stem from J$’s brilliance. We have a LOT planned for the future of Rockstar and its influence within the community, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.

Isn’t retirement amazing? I quit full-time work at 35 and I’m easily busier now than I was before. The main difference? I am doing things that I truly enjoy. No more time cards. No more performance reviews. No more eight to 10 hour days working on projects that I really don’t care one way or another about. When I want a day off, I take a day off. Or maybe two. This…is livin’.

But, what about the blog?

I plan to keep the weekly Friday Feast posts around at least until we begin traveling. Thereafter – honestly, I don’t know. Curating articles for the Feast takes a great deal of time. Reliable Internet access is a must. At the moment, it is tough to predict whether or not these posts will continue. Time will tell.

Like I said, no more Wednesday posts. Monday and hopefully Friday, at best.

I am taking a page out of the Essentialism book and will strive to never publish another blog post again that’s greater than 1,000 words unless absolutely necessary. Substance beats word count, and I’m taking that to heart going forward (this post has 921 words!).

I would love to cover more lifestyle-related topics, especially unique or uncommon ways of life.

My goal is to make this blog more approachable to those who may not already live within the PF community. Basically, appeal more to a mainstream audience without clickbait headlines or those insipid “10 ways to…” articles. I hate those.

The one thing I do know is this: I want this blog to be fun. Fun to write and fun to read. The second that this blog stops being fun…I’m done. Out. This means I will probably continue to swear and post stupid memes. Write about more light-hearted topics instead of boring personal finance stuff. Whatever suits my fancy.

What would you like to see? Are there any topics that you guys would love to see covered in more detail on the blog? If so, let me know in the comments section below. 

The Friday Feast ~ the 17th of March

Published March 17, 2017   Posted in Friday Feast

The personal finance community is filled with so many talented writers and inspiring families in search of something better out of life than the traditional society-approved plan of buying lots of stuff and retiring in your 60s if you’re lucky.

Here is a look at the best of this week’s personal finance blogs.

In this episode of Friday Feast: Two Cup House, Becoming Minimalist, High Fiving Dollars, Physician on Fire, Millennial Revolution, Hello Suckers, Montana Money Adventures, Reaching the Crest, Miss Mazuma, Our Next Life. (more…)

Working ’til retirement scares me to death

Published March 15, 2017   Posted in Guest Posts

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today, I bring you a guest post from a newer blogger in the Personal Finance blogosphere, Cody from Dollar Habits. He and I have something in common – we both hate the idea of working until 65. Cody, take it away!

Limited Exposure to Early Retirement

Growing up, I didn’t have many examples in my sphere of influence of anyone who retired early. My older relatives, for the most part, all worked up to the traditional retirement age before pulling the plug on a 40+ year working life. My mom retired almost 6 years ago at age 58 (thanks to a government pension) and I remember thinking that was the coolest thing ever. Soon after, I adopted the goal of retiring by 58 as well.

Side note – I am super proud of my mom for being able to retire as early as she did, especially with as many odds stacked against her as she had. She’s now busier in retirement than she ever was when she was working. Grandkids certainly help with this. Out of curiosity, I frequently ask her if she misses working or regrets retiring when she did. She is always quick to reply that she could not be happier with her decision and would have retired even earlier if she could have. Noted.

A few months after I graduated from high school, I was recruited and “sponsored” to join a well-known multi-level marketing (MLM) organization. Fresh meat. I bought in (literally) hook, line and sinker. Despite my best efforts, I spent a bunch of money and didn’t make a dime, but all was not lost. First, I was exposed to books and other personal development materials I likely would not have come across on my own. At a young and still impressionable age, these were life-changing. Second, at the conventions (oh yes, I went), the speakers spoke of a lifestyle which seemed foreign to me.

“Get rid of your J-O-B, your boss and your commute.” “Travel the beaches of the world.” “Don’t wait until you are old and gray to have the freedom to live life.”

Hold the phone!

“This is possible?!” I remember asking myself. The propaganda fulfilled its mission because the thought of that type of freedom and the ability to kill my 9-5 lit my fire and I doubled down, although, again, to no avail.

And Then There was the Internet

Fast forward about 6 years or so … I had recently been laid off and was pretty jaded on jobs at the time. I had been reading personal finance blogs since about 2007, but I wasn’t a regular reader of any with a slant toward early retirement. Thanks to some divine intervention, early last year, I inadvertently stumbled into the beautiful world of early retirement blogs.

Cue the amazement and bewilderment. My mind was blown. I couldn’t believe the stories I was reading. People walking away from full-time, high paying corporate gigs in their 30s?! Yes, please! I was hooked and have pretty much been obsessed ever since. For the record, we are a long, long way from reaching FIRE, which brings me back to the title.

The Thought of Working Until Traditional Retirement Age Scares the Crap Out of Me

I recently turned 30. This means if I work until the (current) traditional retirement age, I have another 37 years or so left to go. Couple this with the fact I’ve been working since I was 16 and all in, I will have worked for a total of 53 years. NO.THANK.YOU! The mere thought leaves me with a knot in the pit of my stomach.

53 years of work breaks down like this:

2,650 weeks

636 months

13,992 days

111,936 hours

6,716,160 minutes

* Assumes two-week vacation each year and a conservative 8-hour workday. All in, I’m currently committing around 10-10.5 hours per day to my job, including my commute.

What it all primarily boils down to for me is a matter of opportunity cost and fear of loss.

To be more specific, here’s why the thought of working the next 37 years of my life sends shivers down my spine.

  • Missing out on my kids growing up. Feel free to skip over this bullet point if you don’t have kids or don’t want ‘em. For me, this is the leading driver for pursuing early retirement, or at a minimum, creating a lifestyle with freedom over my time. I remember when I was approaching graduation from high school and people would tell me time flies after you get out of school. I thought they had lost their marbles because that made no sense to me at the time. Little did I know, they were right and having kids provides tangible evidence of just how quickly time does pass. I didn’t choose to have kids so I could spend 10+ prime waking hours away from them every day. I have a love/hate relationship with the early retired bloggers with young children. I envy the amount of time they have to spend with their kids.
  • The best hours of the best days of the best years of my life traded for dollars. Youth is wasted on the young. Today was a gorgeous day: not a cloud in the sky and temperatures in the upper 80s. Was I outside with my shades on soaking up some vitamin D? Nope. I was pushing paper in a dimly lit interior office choking on the aroma of burnt microwave popcorn (the same dude burns it every.single.time. It’s not rocket science, Bro.). I can think of a million and one things I would have rather been doing on such a beautiful day instead of working. I hate with a fiery passion the whole YOLO thing, but in this case, it does apply. We only get one shot at life. I don’t want to squander mine working any longer than I must.
  • Family members and co-workers died shortly before, or just after, retiring at traditional retirement age. This is heartbreaking. I have several aunts and uncles, as does my wife, who worked their entire lives and passed away within weeks of retirement. I do not want this to be me. This is actually a big one for me. I want to have as much time as possible to live the life I want to live, on my terms, before checking out.
  • Inability to reach full potential due to constraints of a job. We’ve established that jobs take up a ton of time. With so much time devoted to a job and factoring in other responsibilities and time commitments, there’s not a whole lot of time left to allocate to becoming the best possible YOU. Physical, emotional, financial, spiritual. We could devote all our extra time to improving just one of these quadrants, let alone all four, but they are what make us whole and keep us in balance. Many of us could become great and do great things if we had the time to focus on reaching our full potential, whatever that may be.
  • Too focused on making a living to focus on making a life. It takes a lot of energy and effort to focus on earning an income to provide for ourselves and our families, so much so that at times we inadvertently lose sight of what’s truly important in life. Couple this with the societal pressures we face, it can be easy to find ourselves in this position. After I’ve accomplished my goal of becoming a centenarian, and I see the light at the end of the tunnel, I do not want to look back on my life with the regret of spending too much time and mental energy on making a living, no matter how pure or noble the motive. I cannot forget to build a life.

Using Fear as a Motivator

Motivation can stem from both positive and negative factors. In fact, negative motivation can be equally as effective as positive motivation, if not more so. Fear is one of the primary “negative” emotions, but if harnessed and used correctly, fear can be a powerful tool.

It is fear – my fears of working in a job for the next 37 years – which motivates me the most. Sure, the positive motivation for retiring early is awesome and certainly lights my fire. Things like control over my time, no more boss, no more commute, the ability to travel more, etc. are all incredibly motivating. However, far more motivating for me to get my financial house in order to pursue an early retirement are the fears and negative motivation outlined above.

My sincere hope and desire is these fears will never materialize and we will be able to, at some point, retire early (no small feat as a one-income family). I am now quite aware of just how early you can retire if you truly put your mind to it. While my framework for early retirement has evolved, I will still be happy as a clam if I can retire by 58, like my mom. However, knowing now what is possible, I plan to reach that holy grail far sooner. Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.

How did you come to find out about the online early retirement community? Did you have any offline examples of early retirement in your life? Do any of these fears resonate with you?

Every company I’ve worked for fails the Essentialism test

Published March 13, 2017   Posted in How to Think

I’m reading a book called Essentialism. It’s the manuscript for simplifying your life and removing much of the bullshit that clutters our minds and distracts us from those things that are truly important. No organization I’ve worked for has done this. At all.

Essentialism, by Greg McKeown

If you’ve ever read anything by Tim Ferriss, you already know the premise. Keep meaning. Remove crap. Pick and choose ruthlessly. Only, this book wasn’t written by Tim Ferriss. Greg McKeown is the mastermind behind this one. Link is to the right (Warning: Affiliate link!!!!).

It all started to hit home beginning with McKeown’s discussion of the word priority. “The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years.”

Then, the 19th century hit and society began to redefine the word, bending it to include more, and more, and more. Now, we have multiple “first things”. We must not direct our limited attention spans to a single, unifying purpose or goal. Instead, organizations and people insist on dividing up our focus to so-called “multiple priorities”.

Ever heard the phrase “list of priorities”? Of course you have. If you work at a typical organization in corporate America, you hear this all the time. Whiteboards contain these lists. The “10 top list of priorities”. Every organization I have ever worked for – and likely yours as well – bends the word “priority” to include more. As much as possible.

What’s the problem with more?

Humans are not machines. We suck at multitasking. Our attention spans are very often limited. The faster we go, the more mistakes we make. Any society that equates “doing” with “productivity” is guilty of this more syndrome.

I do not work well within organizations that incessantly clamor for more. Perhaps that’s why I retired early.

Many evenings I spent in the office – generally after everyone else had more wisely departed for the night, grinding through an assignment. The office was eerily quiet. Occasionally, I would look up from my computer monitor and listen. Listen to the nothingness. Outside, the sun quickly faded – as it often does. It felt strange wandering a quiet, empty office at night. I would peek into cubicles and take note of desktop clutter. What must that person be doing right now? Dinner with family, maybe? Relaxing with a beer?

Why was I stuck in this fluorescent hell pounding through lines of code until some sweet harmonic convergence finally put the pieces of the puzzle into place? Was I really this much of a sucker?

…but I digress.

Naturally, everything needs to be done “now” or, more cleverly, yesterday. Then, we can’t stop there. We need more.

More features. More power. A hell of a lot more widgets…as many of those damn things as we can possibly cram into a product. Always, more.

But, here’s the sad truth:

More does not equal better

The more we do, the faster we work. The faster we work, the more mistakes we make. We are human, after all. Not machines. And even machines fry under loads that they weren’t designed for. They smoke and die. Or steam, like an overheated car engine.

What makes us humans believe we were designed to endure insane workloads? Split our focus among a dozen “priorities”? The idea that we can fully operate at near-100% of our mental and physical capacity under the guise of “more” is flawed to its very core. More creates burnout.

And I don’t know about you, but I hate frying. Tell me, has any of your organizations successfully navigated the not-so-complex waters of essentialism? Doing few things well? Identifying a single priority? Eliminating, not adding, nonsense to your everyday employment life?

How many management presentations were shorter than you expected, not longer? How many suited presenters yielded the remainder of their time due to sheer efficiency of message rather than overrunning their allotment?

A few additional notables from the Essentialism book:

On page 121:

Cooperation deteriorates
when there is a lack of purpose.

On page 159:

The latin root of the word
means “to cut”, or ” to kill”.

On page 181:

I know someone who always thinks it will take her five minutes to get to the store because she made the journey in five minutes once.

On page 230:

Essentialism isn’t just about success. It’s about meaning and purpose.

The Friday Feast ~ the 10th of March

Published March 10, 2017   Posted in Friday Feast

The personal finance community is filled with so many talented writers and inspiring families in search of something better out of life than the traditional society-approved plan of buying lots of stuff and retiring in your 60s if you’re lucky.

Here is a look at the best of this week’s personal finance blogs.

In this episode of Friday Feast: Money Boss, The Resume Gap, The Happy Philosopher, Debt Roundup, Debt Discipline, Modest Money, I Vigilante, Smart Money Guide, Penny Thots, Budgets and Cents. (more…)

Is your credit score bullshit?

Published March 6, 2017   Posted in How to Think

I guess I have a “thing” for skinny British guys – and once I saw John Oliver’s bit on credit scores and how dangerous that three-digit number can be, I naturally got a bit intrigued.

In case you haven’t seen it, here’s his spiel on YouTube:

“Measuring credit enables businesses to know who to lend to. It’s critical to our economy and it always has been,” he began. Landlords, insurance companies and potential employers all use credit checks to make decisions on doing business with YOU. In most cases, the accuracy of the report is hugely important.

Before we get too far into bashing credit reports, let me state this: I understand the intent of these reports. By analyzing a person’s financial history, future lenders can make a more informed decision about that person’s ability and likelihood to pay the loan back in full. In theory, it makes sense. History, after all, very often repeats itself.

However, these credit reports are fraught with problems and, arguably, are overused to the max.

The problem stems from the “Big Three” credit agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) marketing these credit numbers well beyond simple money lending. In short, these agencies try to convince us that not only do credit scores reveal a person’s likelihood to pay back a loan, but they also indicate how good of an employee they might be during the interview and hiring process.

Ah, another market! Corporations always seem to be hiring somewhere, aren’t they? And when they all rely – at least in part – on people’s credit numbers, business for these credit agencies naturally picks up. Go figure!

But, it’s bullshit.

A representative from TransUnion admitted to an Oregon legislature that there is NO correlation between a good credit report and a person’s ability to do their jobs well. “…we don’t have any research to show any statistical correlation between what’s in somebody’s credit report and their job performance or their likelihood to commit fraud.” (Source).

But the problems only begin with creating demand for these misleading reports.

Credit reports contain mistakes

“Credit reports can contain a shocking number of errors”, Oliver states. About 1 in 20 credit reports, according to a news clip featured in Oliver’s report, contain errors significant enough to make people pay more for a car loan.

Putting the wisdom of taking out an auto loan aside, this is frightening.

Judy Thomas looked at her credit report and saw debt from the state of Utah that she didn’t recognize, only to find out that that debt belonged to a woman named Judy Kendall, not Judy Thomas. “What the hell is her debt doing on my credit report?” Ms. Thomas asked. And rightly so. What the hell is that woman’s debt doing on YOUR credit report, Ms. Thomas?

Where’s the accountability?

And by the way, there was another Judy Thomas, back in 2002, who got confused with the very same Judy Kendall on her credit report. If you or anyone you know is named Judy Thomas, I am truly, truly sorry for your/their dumb luck.

Oh, and damn you, Judy Kendall. Damn you.

Actually, scratch that. Let’s not damn Judy Kendall. She’s doing what all good Americans do, after all – acquire debt. She wasn’t the one who erroneously (and repeatedly) put her own debt on other people’s credit reports. The system, through its mindless and blinding complexity, did. A system that we clearly cannot trust, but routinely use as a basis for making important decisions in our society.

The numbers don’t lie (though your credit report certainly can). A Federal Trade Commission study from 2013 found that as many as 42 million Americans have mistakes on their credit report. Basically, the entire population of the state of California has mistakes on their credit reports.

I mean…holy shit.

And yet, these credit reports remain heavily used. They are integral documents in loan decisions. Potential employers consider them. They effect our lives in very real ways. This is flat crazy.

And then there are background checks

They sound wonderful in theory, but a striking number of background checks contain omissions and errors. “This whole industry seems uncomfortably complacent”, Oliver argues. And, that’s a huge part of the problem. When background checks and credit reports are used to make incredibly significant decisions for people, the least that these agencies can do is ensure their accuracy.

But, none of these agencies accept any responsibility for delivering inaccurate background checks or credit reports. Instead, they blame unnamed upstream entities for the mistakes. They claim “middleman” immunity. If they deliver a bullshit report on a person, it becomes that person’s responsibility to clear their name. But very often, it’s too late to save their jobs. Or their homes.

The same problems that exist with credit checks also exist with background checks.

Examples of mistaken identities are all over Google. Here’s one published by USA Today of a Darlene Martinez who applied for a nurse’s assistant job at Scottsdale Healthcare. She got the job – pursuant to a background check.

Oops! The background check revealed a felony conviction for drug possession.

The problem? It wasn’t her. Her background check included information for another woman, Darlene Foster – that’s right, not even the same name, birthday or social security number. Ms. Foster was born 10 years after Darlene Martinez. Ms. Foster was the one with the drug possession charge.

Sadly, too bad for Ms. Martinez who got screwed out of a job thanks to a mistaken background check.

The job offer was rescinded and left Ms. Martinez with a mess on her hands to clear her record. She also hopped onto public assistance to pay her mortgage.

How in the world does this happen? How can a background check for Person A include damaging information about Person B with a different name and social security number, but yet, Person A still gets screwed out of a job? And the background check company throws up their hands and says “Oh well, not our problem.”

Why is it Person A‘s responsibility to clear their name – which can take years, of wrongdoing based on no fault of their own, lose their new job and live on public services?

This is maddening

If I hadn’t read story after story of erroneous background checks screwing people into truly unfortunate circumstances, I never would have believed it was possible…or at the very least, not this bad. Not in this country. We have blazing fast Internet access from virtually everywhere. We have insanely smart fraud detection systems connected to our credit cards. Oh, and I don’t really care about sending a man to the moon, but we can do that too…

But yet, we can’t perfect identity protection. Worse, if credit or background checks include inaccurate information, it becomes our responsibility to fix it – usually after we’ve been screwed out of a job, car or home. Almost zero accountability. It’s completely disgusting.

Have you checked your credit lately?

The Friday Feast ~ the 3rd of March

Published March 3, 2017   Posted in Friday Feast

The personal finance community is filled with so many talented writers and inspiring families in search of something better out of life than the traditional society-approved plan of buying lots of stuff and retiring in your 60s if you’re lucky.

Here is a look at the best of this week’s personal finance blogs.

In this episode of Friday Feast: Freedom Is Groovy, Reaching Our Balance, Studenomics, She Picks Up Pennies, Four Pillar Freedom, Self Employed Movement, The Financial Diet, Wallet Hacks, Darius Foroux and Go Curry Cracker. (more…)

Do you find money talk boring? Try this instead

Published March 1, 2017   Posted in How to Think

I will be the first to admit that I find money talk exceedingly boring. Especially stocks, diversification, yields, compound interest, price-to-earnings ratio, whatever. Seriously, I fall asleep when I hear or read about that stuff. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m not alone.

For all those who find money talk boring, I feel ya. It’s dry and mundane. Numbers. Charts. It’s not inherently fun for all of us.

But you know what? Making smart decisions with your money is how wealth is built. It sets the pieces in place to enable insanely early retirement. Master your financial picture and watch your stockpile of cash move faster than a toupee in a hurricane.

Don’t ignore money. Instead, try reframing the topic to something that’s much more interesting to talk about.

This kid thinks that talking money is boring. I’m with ya, brother!

Talk about your future

Ultimately, money helps us to achieve our future goals. Especially when we’re young, the idea is to score a high paying job and work for years (or decades) to amass a respectable fortune. Then, we retire and do those things that make us happy.

So, talk about that stuff! Does your future include mountain biking and rock climbing? Or maybe it’s surfing and scuba diving. Whatever it is, talk about it – often. Focus your energy on your future goals and talk about them. A lot.

Before I called it quits at work, my wife and I would talk on our evening walks. It wasn’t about money. It was about our future and the things that we want to do and the places we need to go. Money was always an implied element, but it never took center stage.

Nothing boring takes center stage in our family.

We chat about the fun stuff. The shit we want to be doing. It keeps us focused and motivated, and it doesn’t put us to sleep.

Talk about your career

Whatever we do for a living, it is very much an integral part of us. The money we earn makes a huge impact in our ability to achieve our goals. Hell, our futures depend on it! The accumulation phase of our lives sets us up for fun – every day – in the next phase.

But, careers also affect our happiness and overall satisfaction in life. When we spend eight to 10 hours a day doing some “thing”, it’s going to have a huge freaking impact on us. It sure did me, and I didn’t like the impact it was having.

The money was great, but I also derived very little satisfaction out of it. It was a huge energy drain. I hated management bullshit. I struggled to care one way or another about the projects I was involved with because, even if I did a stellar job with one, I’d start right back at ground zero with the next. Over and over. It was relentless.

Regardless of whether or not you like your job, talk about it. Talk about where you want to go. The things you’d like to do. In five years, do you want another position? Work in a different company? Heck, maybe start your own business?

Talk baby, talk! Talk it out, even if it’s only with your dog. Talking helps to hone your perspective on your career. Your career, clearly, heavily impacts your income. It can make or break your money situation.

Talk about what wealth means to you

Uncle Scrooge diving into beautiful money

Quick – think about wealth. What do you picture? Are you picturing nice cars and big homes, or perhaps sipping a Miami Vice on the beach? Maybe your idea of wealth is never worrying about money again. Then again, perhaps it’s lounging on a chaise on your deck and soaking up all that beautiful (and free!) vitamin D – without a care in the world.

But you aren’t nude. Please say you aren’t nude.

Wealth is a beautiful thing, but only after we understand what it means to us. What happens if you fall into money tomorrow? Like, $10 million – right out of the blue. Let’s say you have a rich family member that you didn’t even know existed. They died and your cut of the inheritance is enough to live on for the next 1,000 years.

You’re instantly wealthy. Super wealthy. You have dollar bills oozing out of your pours. Basically, you’ve become Uncle Scrooge.

What do you do with all that money? This is a much more difficult question to answer than many people think. It can be fun to think about, but also frustrating when we don’t have all the answers.

But, that’s okay. Nobody has all the answers. Except, of course…  🙂

When you do need to talk money, make it easy

You’ll never completely avoid the discussion of money (and you shouldn’t, either). Even for my wife and I, money is a topic of conversation from time to time. But you know what? I don’t think we’ve ever uttered the phrase “price-to-earnings“, “bottom-up investing“, “imputed interest” or any other nonsensical sleep-inducing term about money.

We discuss things like our savings goals, or maxing out our 401ks at work, or automatic money transfers into a Vanguard brokerage account. Easy stuff. Straightforward terms. Neither of us has any interest in confusing the other with complicated financial terms that generally mean nothing to us.

Early retirement and retirement savings is easy. It really is. Easy.

It takes time, but it is not difficult. We don’t need to understand the complexities of compound interest and yields to retire early. I certainly don’t – and I did! Whenever we talk money, we keep it simple and focused on the things that matter the most to us.

We talk about things like:

  • How much we save and spend every year
  • Strategies to implement a “no-spend” Christmas
  • Amount of money we allow ourselves to go out to eat
  • The wisdom of maxing out our retirement accounts early
  • Whether our ex-Honda Ridgeline was worth the insurance payment

Easy stuff. And here’s a tip: The more automated your savings, the less that you’ll need to talk about them.

For example, both of our retirement accounts were automated through our respective companies. We also setup monthly transfers from our bank account into our Vanguard brokerage account. In addition, money was automatically added to our interest-bearing Ally savings account each month that we use as our emergency fund.

Cool as a cucumber.

We set this stuff up once and never thought about it again – except to make small tweaks to the transferred amount. And even then, these discussions were quick and easy. We discussed. We decided. That’s that.

Our philosophy was, and continues to be, simple: Money talk should be easy and straightforward.

How many out there find money to be a stimulating conversation? Can you carry on a conversation about yields and earnings and, well…stay awake?