Browse Month: August 2017

Dumb Financial Decisions: Not Taking Care of Myself

Early RetirementI have a confession to make to my readers:

I have horrible eating habits, don’t exercise nearly enough, and do a poor job managing stress.

The result is that right now I’m 20 pounds overweight, lack the energy I had a decade ago, and am likely headed towards significant health problems in the coming years if I don’t do a better job taking care of myself.

People on the path to financial independence and early retirement generally do a good job prioritizing future needs over present wants. Without a lot of planning and discipline around one’s finances, it’s hard to successfully make the journey to financial independence.

But this almost blind focus on the future – I just need to put my head down for the next five years, work hard, spend prudently, and invest well, and then life will be perfect! – can have a detrimental impact on the present.

It certainly has happened to me.

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Geographic Arbitrage: The Least Expensive States for Retirement

Geographic ArbitrageGeographic arbitrage is a popular concept in personal finance.

It involves working or living somewhere where you can earn more or spend less than if you worked or lived someplace else.

For example, someone who works remotely from home might decide to live someplace with a lower cost of living. Or a doctor might choose to work someplace where high demand for his or her specialty results in a larger salary. Or a retiree might move from a high cost of living area like New York City to a less expensive state or country, so the money they earned over their career has more buying power.

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ROMT’s FIRE Prowess Score

FIRE Prowess ScoreLast month, The Green Swan introduced a new FIRE metric that has received a lot of attention, the Swan FIRE Prowess Gauge.

FIRE Prowess is easy to calculate. It’s simply the change in your net worth, divided by your gross income, for any time period.

FIRE Prowess = Change In Net Worth / Gross Income

Most of us will have FIRE Prowess scores between 0.0x and 1.0x. The higher your FIRE Prowess number is, the better you are doing at increasing your net worth.

Numbers above 1.0x mean your net worth is growing faster than your income, which is an incredible result, presumably driven by both a relatively frugal lifestyle in the context of your income, and strong investment results.

A negative number means your net worth is headed in the wrong direction, which could be caused by spending more than you earn, a job loss, borrowing money to purchase depreciating assets, poor investment performance, or many other factors.

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Investing 101: Bank Products

Bank ProductsLast month, I started a series of posts about investing, to help build a foundation of knowledge for readers who are newer to the topic.

As I noted in my initial post, bank products are probably the most familiar type of investment to many readers, and include products provided by your local bank or credit union, such as savings accounts, checking accounts, money market accounts, and certificates of deposit.

We’ll start with a list of things to consider before investing in any bank product, and then go into more specific details about the primary types of investments you can get at a bank.

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The Solar Payoff: Our Electric Bill Fell By 91%!

Solar EnergyWe recently received our first monthly power bill since we decided to install solar panels on our roof.

As I posted previously, we did not expect our electric bill to actually go to zero.

But our results were pretty much as good as we could have hoped!

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My Costly – and Depressing – Trip to the Dump

DumpThe ROMT family tries to live a reasonably frugal and environmentally-friendly lifestyle.

We have our own vegetable garden and berry plants to provide a small, but healthy, portion of our diet.

We try to encourage the ROMT children to be members of the clean plate club.

We’re certainly not conspicuous consumers, and try to purchase only things we need.

We donate what we can’t use anymore to family, friends, local charities, our church, or Goodwill.

We recently embraced solar energy.

And we recycle everything we can.

Even so, we still have a way of accumulating junk.

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