“When I grow up, I want to... *crickets.*” This is one of the hardest questions to answer. It seems like no one is working in the field they earned their degree in anymore. Who knows how long a career in a certain field will even last? With all the positions you’ve held, what has your career path even been? And how do you find the job you really want?
I take pride in my frugal habits, especially house hacking (basically living in a 2,300sq ft luxury home for free). When it came time to buy a car, shouldn’t it have been small and gas-efficient? After all, a truck is a very non-mustachian vehicle. To all my mustachian friends, I must simply say that I had different priorities than the money alone. However, I was honest with myself about the true cost of ownership and had firmly evaluated the decision before pulling the trigger. In sharing my reasons, I’m not advocating the purchase of a truck. Instead, I’m trying to paint a clear picture of my approach to this large purchase. I’ve now owned my truck for a year, and it was definitely the right choice for me.
I’ve already started organizing for tax time, but it only means gathering my receipts and organizing my bills. I have a great Certified Public Accountant (CPA) on my team who will be doing the actual preparation and filing for me, which means a little less work on my end. I consider my CPA to be an MVP on my team, but not just because he will be preparing and filing my taxes. No no no, he will be busy optimizing my return now that we’ve strategized all year.
Opening a Roth IRA is the biggest thing you can do to give your child (or your grandchild) a head start on their path to financial independence. The money deposited today has the potential for 50-60 years of tax-free growth. You can open the Roth IRA for them at Fidelity. As the adult, you control the account until age 18, even if it’s in the child’s name. (It does have to be registered with their social security number.) At age 18, the account is theirs, so don’t tell them about the account until later if they are not good with money. Just think of that extra 18 years of compounding before they even reach adulthood!
I’ve been investing in my Roth IRA since I was 17. I had landed my first job as a bagger at a grocery store and held multiple other jobs through college. Each year, I diligently tucked away money that will be able to grow until age 60, which is over 40 years. At certain points, my effective tax rate was essentially 0%, which is the ideal time to contribute. Every penny withdrawn will be tax free, and $5,500 with 40 years to grow will be worth over $100,000* tax-free dollars without adding a penny more! If you’re still young and paying minimal taxes, open a Roth IRA.
The house, the cars, the corner desk and executive title, fancy vacations, private schools, private yachts, private jets, the glamour, the luxury, it all can become yours if you want it. But is all that stuff really what you want out of your life? Or is the thing you want actually the intangible quality that a millionaire has of simply not worrying about money because they have more than they need? You don’t have to have a million dollars to be a millionaire.
Living in a house has always been my preferred lifestyle choice, and getting paid to live in my house is even better. When I moved down from Michigan, I had already been researching my area for 8 months. The houses were extremely expensive, so I intended to get roommates to help with the cost initially and figured a partner could split the cost with me later. The roommates turned out to be a disaster, and only brought in $1200/month anyway, so I decided a change was needed. I tried hosting in my house for AirBnB in June, and found that it was far preferable to roommates, so I invested in the necessities to turn it into a solid business.
International trips can be extremely eye opening. You are able to immerse yourself in a culture unlike your own. However, there are a couple things you have to remember before you can jet away to exotic new locales.
I have a subscription for Amazon Prime, and I find it extremely valuable for more than just free two-day shipping. I end up saving more than the annual fee just from the extra services, so it’s worth it for me. You still should always shop around when making purchases, and you can use CamelCamelCamel.com to check the historical price of your Amazon purchases. If you won’t use any of the other perks, I still recommend just using free standard shipping for Amazon purchases over $25.
Cutting the cord is a sensitive topic for people who “need” it, and fortunately or unfortunately, a lot of people see lazily watching TV for the week as one of the best parts of their vacation. It makes cutting the cord much harder when your goal is hacking your house for maximum profits.
You only have one chance to make a good impression before someone will move on to the next listing. The photos of your space make up a huge part of it. Listings with great photos have significantly higher traffic, which leads to higher bookings.
I’ve had some great experiences meeting guests, from wine nights to Elf on the Shelf. Overall, I find guests are respectful of my space. Many leave my house as clean as they found it. I regularly get asked about any negative AirBnB experiences, so I’ve decided to keep a running list. None of the following are bad enough that I’d hesitate to continue hosting.
I had a very specific list of wants when I was buying my second house, including no pool. Then I picked a fancy area where over 95% of the houses have pools and found a foreclosure for 77% of market value. “I guess I’m about to learn how to maintain a pool!”
Before closing on my second house, I would balk at even the idea of a 401k loan. That money is earmarked for retirement and is supposed to be growing tax free. The loan is almost always a slippery slope that leads to less savings, especially since it’s mentally easier to take a second loan after the first. The momentum from compounding/investing is lost when the money is taken out of the account. There were small fees for my administrator. I didn’t mind paying myself interest, but still. Additionally, if I wanted to quit or was laid off from my job, I would have to repay the loan in full. With great trepidation, I decided to take out the loan anyway so that I could purchase my house.
Debt may not seem like a big deal, but having debt deeply affects your lifestyle. Even small amounts of debt cause people to lose sleep, weigh on the mind, and can impact your relationships. Large debts can lead to large monthly payments which can lead to even more debt. Job loss can wipe out a debt-laden family. Even if you only have a small amount of debt, it needs to be addressed now before it becomes a big problem.
I have a lot going on this year, so it’s a bit harder to commit full weekends flying to the exotic trips I’ve been enjoying. However, it’s a great opportunity to up my frugal road trip game!
I’m the kind of person who loves to learn. I’ve always enjoyed the classroom setting and had a knack for school. My company offers tuition reimbursement of up to $5,250 – the IRS limit – for every calendar year for any pursuit of higher education. I decided that it would be worth pursuing a free MBA (although at a slow pace) since it would ultimately be a free degree, and hey, why not? The annual reimbursement amounted to two and a half classes a year, so some of it was out of pocket, but I had planned to be in corporate America for the next 20 or 30 years anyway and most of my mentors had graduate degrees.
I will always rent out my house on AirBnB when I’m out of town because it’s such an easy way to cover the cost of the trip. No matter how dirty things are when you get home, you can scrub things down and clean them well. If things break, guests will usually pay to replace them, and I keep my valuables and important breakables safely hidden/locked away. AirBnB takes the guest’s money up front when they book and directly deposits into my account the day after they check in, protecting us both. AirBnB does a great job marketing. They also do a great job with conflict resolution. See AirBnB’s insurance policy for more details on how they help protect their hosts.
When I moved down from Michigan, I had sold my house and most of my belongings. Rather than carry them across the country to a new home where the décor may or may not work, I decided it would be far easier to let it all go. That meant that when I closed on my new house, I had next to nothing to put in it.
After graduating college in 2012 and finding my first job, I kept living in my mom and stepdad’s house for about half a year. I took advantage of the opportunity to save as much money as I could. I first paid off my remaining debt, including the rest of school costs and a small wardrobe for my new professional career. Then I focused on setting up my 401k and building a mini-nest just to get it moving. After, the house fund was started. I bought the house in June 2013.
Owning a home is a lifestyle choice. A house is an expense, not an investment. It’s expensive (often a money drain) and time consuming. If you are living there, it is NEVER an investment. The housing market is not guaranteed to keep up with inflation, and you may even have to pay extra money to sell if the market tanks and your mortgage is underwater.
I genuinely enjoy traveling alone. It allows me complete control over every aspect of my trip, from date flexibility to the experiences I have. I am better able to maximize spending for my personal happiness, even though there is no one to “cost-share” with. If I’m not enjoying an activity, it’s ok to just move on. I can go to bed and wake up when I want to, and I’m the one who sets the pace of the day. I don’t have to wait around for my companion to get ready or pack up. It’s a chance to really learn about new cultures since I’m focused on the world around me instead of my companion. I actually find it easier to blend in with the crowd. It makes the trip so much more personal, and it’s immensely satisfying to know you don’t have to rely on anyone else to get where you want to go.
Frugal travel means taking one bag. It counts as your personal item. This bag should be easy to carry, sturdy, well-made and lightweight. Check any travel size restrictions for your personal item before buying a bag. Having a smaller bag forces you to pack less.
If you get the big things right, the little things don’t matter. You have to be frugal before you can be reckless. Get the core four (flight, lodging, transportation, food) right, and then rely on the good habits you’ve developed to help guide your experiences throughout your trip.
Frugal means sparing or economical with regard to money or food. Reckless means without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action. How can you be frugally reckless? It seems impossible. A perfect oxymoron.
The experiment has been a success. It's time for an update after four and a half years of marriage .
I'm quite fortunate in that my company is on an annual raise and bonus cycle, which kicks in on January 1st. Every year before the wint...