Frugality in Beast Mode

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As an aspiring professional athlete,* one of my favorite kinds of stories is the kind of story about professional athletes who do amazing things with all their professional athlete money. Amazing things like completely ignoring it.

Last year, my favorite story was about Daniel Norris, an MLB (that’s baseball, goofball) pitcher who lives in a van. A van!

This year, hands down, the best thing to come out of the NFL (football!) is from my neck of the woods, now retired and truly FIREd** Seahawk Marshawn Lynch. Apparently he never spent any of his NFL salary and instead lived off side gigs like product endorsements and saved money through standard frugal favorites like avoiding fines by performing at press conferences.

So now he’s retiring at age 29 with a cool $50 million in the bank. Assuming a conservative 4% withdrawal rate, that leaves him $2 million per year to live on without ever touching his principal or earning another penny. That’s a lot of Skittles!

I’m hoping to do something similar, though maybe on a smaller scale (?). Just as soon as my product endorsement checks start rolling in . . .

 

 

*I am not an aspiring professional athlete.

**FIRE = Financially Independent / Retired Early. Not “fired” as in terminated from employment. Duh. Nobody would fire Marshawn! Sad to see him go, but I support his decision 12,000% and wish him nothing but the best. And I really hope he reads this post.

So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

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Ever since I was a kid I’ve been very goal oriented and weirdly motivated by the endorphin rush that comes from checking something off my to do list. So it should come as no surprise I enjoy this time of year — reflecting back on what goals I accomplished the past year, kicking myself with a few face punches (metaphorical) for the ones I didn’t, and looking ahead and making lots and lots of lists for the coming year.

2015 was a mixed year for me, though I would say I leave it with a sense of generally pretty spectacularly amazeballs awesome — overall, financially, it was a very solid year, though not without some important lessons. Personally, it couldn’t have been better — Sweetie Pie moved closer to me after being in a different city for two years; I traveled a lot and saw many, many old friends; I started to feel like my house is becoming my home; and I started exploring all sorts of new pursuits outside of work (like this blog!), and somehow managed to achieve some balance of not feeling perpetually “busy” (I chalk that one up to good old fashioned gratitude!). Professionally, however, last year was a disappointment — I had some tough days at work and have been embroiled in some deep soul searching about where I might want to go next, how to get there, and the best recipe for lemonade in the meantime.

In terms of my specific goals, here’s the rundown: Continue reading So long 2015, Onward and Onward to 2016!

Is Grad School Worth It?

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I’ll admit I’ve been delinquent in my writing recently. I have a good excuse, though — maybe the best excuse. I’ve been on a multi-week, joy-filled, and overwhelming high after attending my 10-year grad school reunion. It really couldn’t have been any better — great friends and amazing people doing amazing things.

Am I one of those people? Sort of — I work in a related field, but it’s not what I went to school for and I went on to get ANOTHER degree after this one that’s required for my current job. (Yes, I be crazy. Way too much schooling.) So I have a somewhat random Master’s degree on my resume that always confuses people and no one’s quite sure what to make of it. To be honest, neither am I.

But was my two-year academic jaunt “worth” it? Continue reading Is Grad School Worth It?

Investing 102: I am a Robot

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I’ve been distracted recently and haven’t given this blog the attention I’d like, with several other creative projects (more to come on this!) taking priority, plus the taking-longer-than-wanted-but-not-unexpected basement refurb. Thankfully, though, my finances are robotocized (that’s a word, I swear) and I don’t have to worry about making sure I’m on track.

So how do I robotocize my financial life?

  1. Direct deposit. Did you know you can set up a direct deposit to multiple accounts? I only figured that out recently. I get paid every two weeks and set up direct deposit with my employer. The general amount I need for living expenses (or at least what I budget) is deposited to my checking account and the rest goes to my savings/brokerage account at Schwab.
  2. Automatic bill pay. Many banks and credit cards offer options to set up automatic bill pay through your accounts directly. I’ve taken a more piecemeal approach and set up automatic payments through each billing account, but now I don’t ever have to worry about making sure my bills are paid on time, including everything from my mortgage and car insurance to electricity and gas to state and federal taxes to full payment of my credit card balances every month.
  3. Automatic investing. Once my paycheck gets deposited in my Schwab brokerage account, a few days later I have a semi-monthly automatic purchase of $300 of a total stock market index fund. This means I invest $600/month without even thinking about it. Through my employer, I also have my 401(k) withdrawal with every paycheck — I front load it with a whopping 50% of my paycheck at the beginning of the year.
  4. Automatic dividend reinvestment. Whenever I buy a stock or fund, I select the option to automatically reinvest dividends — free money to invest before I even know I have it.
  5. Automatic rebalancing. I have my 401(k) account set to automatically rebalance once a year. This ensures that the asset allocation I’ve selected will stay generally the same from year to year — in a nutshell, if I have a great year in stocks, I’ll shift some of the gains over to bonds, and vice versa, ensuring maximum diversity for maximum growth over the long haul (there’s an important life metaphor in there somewhere!).

Easy peasy, nice and breezy! Now if only I can find a way to robotocize the rest of my responsibilities …

The Best $4 I Ever Earned

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There are so many things I’m learning on my path to financial independence — one of those is that sudden recognition that I have no idea what I want to do with my time when I am no longer beholden to The Grind. I know I will always want to keep working to a limited extent, but I don’t have a “dream” job in mind. Ihave a lot of hobbies I enjoy doing, but nothing that really grabs me as something I’d want to do even close to full time or would be capable of doing as a means of income production.

In the dual interests of figuring out what I might want to do with more time on my hands and making the most of my current situation, I’ve been trying to pursue more creative endeavors this year and have generally been doing a pretty good job of that — from writing this blog, to refurbishing my basement, to making lots of art, to maybe finally, eventually, really for reals opening that Etsy shop I’ve been talking about for so long.  Continue reading The Best $4 I Ever Earned