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December 27, 2016

"Retirement" is Here

This (photoshopped) Dodge ad shows how I left my office for the last time.
It's taken a couple days for it to sink in, but as of December 24th, I'm "retired." Woo-hoo!

December 12, 2016

The Obsessive's Guide to Rooftop Solar

We recently installed a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on our house.* As usual, I did an inordinate amount of research before committing to anything and I discovered a few things I think are worth sharing with anyone else considering going solar.

November 20, 2016

We Bought a House – “Retirement” Imminent

The funky house we almost bought.
I’m not sure we were really ready for this step, but we stumbled upon the right property and now we own it. That means my retirement date is all but set for the end of this year (although my boss doesn't know that yet, so let's keep this just between you and me). Happily, that coincides with my 30th birthday. Here’s the story of how we ended up with a house long before we planned.

October 26, 2016

The Personal Finance Blog Charity Challenge (Updated 3X)

Image from Charity Motors
I just read Mr. Money Mustache’s post about donating $100,000 to charity and I got excited. Not just about the money he is donating, which will surely do much good, but also about the publicity he is bringing to the organizations he decided to donate to. I suspect this publicity will multiply the effects of his giving, so I have a challenge for my fellow personal finance bloggers that will hopefully do even more good.

October 22, 2016

Our Hunt for Affordable Housing

A huge part of our early retirement plan involved selling our expensive home in the Los Angeles area, which has appreciated significantly since we purchased it four years ago, and finding something significantly less expensive. This has proved much more challenging than I anticipated.

October 15, 2016

Don't Call me Cheap!

People have used a lot of colorful adjectives to describe me over the years, but the most common one is probably cheap, or cheapskate. I usually wear that title like a badge of pride, but it’s starting to wear on me. In my opinion, there is a big difference between being cheap and being frugal. I want to believe I fall into the latter camp, and in this post I will explore the difference between the two.

October 5, 2016

How I Limit (but Don't Eliminate) My Frivolous Spending

My most frivolous purchase, as I found it.
We all want things we don’t need. Frugal people like me are better than most at resisting the urge to purchase those things, but every so often there’s something I just have to have. Fortunately, I have a system for regulating my frivolous spending, and I learned it from my dad—only use credit card cash-back rewards for frivolous purchases.

September 24, 2016

How to Save Money on a Fabulous European Vacation

Being cute in Lake Como. We got in trouble shortly after this for going in the water.
For many Americans, a European vacation is the ultimate in luxury travel. The “old world” has a mysterious draw that is hard to avoid. Unfortunately, it can also have a price tag that is hard to afford. Fortunately, I have a couple tips that can dramatically reduce the cost of an incredible European adventure.

August 31, 2016

Why We Bought a Brand New Car

Editor's Note: Sorry about the long delay in getting a new post up. We've been really busy with a bunch of exciting things you will read about soon, including the topic of this post.

Alternate Title: Why People Hate Car Dealers
I work in the automotive industry, so any time we are in the market for a new (to us) vehicle, I get excited. I tend to over-analyze every purchase, but with a car, I have much more expertise and can therefore extra-over-analyze it. What should have been a fairly simple purchase ended up being an extremely stressful experience, and we ended up with a completely different car than we expected.

August 3, 2016

How to Give Great (Frugal) Gifts

I recently read a post on another blog about how the author and her husband don't give each other gifts for events like anniversaries. They give some long-winded reasons why, but it mostly comes down to saving money.
I strongly disagree with this policy, so I will explain why I think gift giving is important and how to give great gifts without spending too much.

July 21, 2016

Why I'm Not Saving for My Child's College Education

Most financial advisers seem to recommend prioritizing saving for retirement over a child's college education. However, I'm taking that advice to the extreme by not saving anything for our child's education; let me tell you why.

July 9, 2016

Is Extremely Early Retirement Worth the Trouble?

Site of Henry David Thoreau's cabin near Walden Pond - Photo by Pablo Sanchez
The long version of this question is more like “Is being able to quit your job a few years early worth scrimping, saving, and depriving yourself during your working years and retirement?” Obviously, I think the answer is YES, but let me tell you why.

July 3, 2016

My Plans for "Retirement"

We all have a vision in our head of what retirement will be like. Most people see a silver haired version of themselves sipping a cocktail on a tropical beach. That sounds nice, but I see a slightly older, much less stressed version of myself doing all the things I don't currently have time for.

June 24, 2016

Is it Unethical to Accept Government Handouts?

I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who expressed disappointment that we were planning to let the government help pay for our healthcare after I "retire." He claimed we would be "mooching off the government and every American taxpayer." I can see where he's coming from, so I think it is worth explaining why I think what we plan plan to do is morally acceptable.

June 17, 2016

How to Reduce Your Monthly Bills

It's relatively easy to cut spending on miscellaneous purchases, but your regular monthly expenses can add up quickly, and they're easy to overlook. However, there are numerous ways to cut your monthly bills, and I will share many of them here.

June 11, 2016

Our Perfect Portfolio

I admit, there probably isn't a perfect, one-size-fits-all portfolio out there, but I've created a portfolio that's perfect for us. Today I'm sharing our perfect portfolio, and if it sounds right for you, feel free to copy it.

June 6, 2016

Why I'm Ready to "Retire"

I just realized I’ve declared I’m ready to “retire” and started this blog, but I haven’t really explained why. This is a very personal subject, which I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about, but will probably struggle to write about, so I’ll do the best I can.

June 2, 2016

How to Start a Business

Starting a business is a great step toward becoming Fiscally Free. It's OK to start small, but it is important to start.

I wanted to start a business for a long time, but I procrastinated for years because I was intimidated by the perceived complications and potential expense. My fears were unfounded.

Starting a business is easy! It is at times annoying, but still easy. Follow along as I guide you through how to start a business in Torrance, California (in Los Angeles County).

May 25, 2016

Found Furniture, and Other Free Stuff

This could be me on an early morning scavenging walk.
When I was in college, I coined the phrase "Free equals baller." If you're scientifically minded, the formula looks something like this:  $0 = :)
If you're still confused, I was basically saying if you don't have to pay for it, anything is a good value.
In this post I will discuss where to get free stuff and list some of the things we've gotten for free.

May 22, 2016

How We Saved $11,000 on Various Purchases

I very rarely pay full price for anything. It’s pretty easy to get a small discount by shopping around, but when I’m making larger purchases, I usually find a way to save a substantial amount, and it isn’t hard.

May 8, 2016

Retirement Planning Step 5: Consider Generating Income in Retirement

Image courtesy of WSJ.
The final step in planning your retirement is thinking about whether or not you will generate any income during your retirement. The impact on your retirement date of even a small stream of income can be significant.

May 7, 2016

Retirement Planning Step 4: Recalculate Retirement Date with Reduced Spending

My last post covered reducing your spending in retirement and I calculated my family’s spending could pretty easily be dramatically reduced from $108,000 per year now to under $30,000 when I retire. In this post we will discover how this reduction in spending will impact our retirement date.

May 4, 2016

Retirement Planning Step 3: Determine How to Radically Reduce Spending

In my last post I demonstrated how to calculate when you can retire if you maintain your current spending. Using my own family as an example I determined I won’t be able to retire until 2035 if we keep our current spending habits. I don’t want to work that long, so in this post I will describe Step Three of my retirement planning process, which is determining how to reduce spending in general. I will then see how much I can reduce my family's spending in retirement.

May 2, 2016

Retirement Planning Step 2: Calculate Retirement Date with Current Spending

Image courtesy of Tapped Out Wiki.
In my last post I analyzed my family’s current spending. In this post, I will do some calculations to determine when we could retire if we maintain those spending patterns.

May 1, 2016

Retirement Planning Step 1: Review Current Spending


So far I’ve written mostly about how to save money in everyday life, which is helpful for retirement, but isn’t the hardcore retirement planning advice some people want. That changes now.

April 23, 2016

How to Throw an Awesome Wedding Without Breaking the Bank

Our Wedding in 2011
I've heard there are two things people will spend irrationally on--weddings and funerals. With the average wedding cost creeping toward $30,000, I believe it. With the right mindset and a few tips, I can help you be rational and control the cost of your wedding, while still providing a great time for all.

April 18, 2016

Simple Financial Rules to Live By

Photo by Harold Pollack
Managing your finances is pretty simple. I don't know how Kiplinger's still exists. All they seem to do is repackage the same advice over and over. I will give you most of the financial rules you will need right here, and with them almost anyone can become Fiscally Free much faster than they thought.

April 10, 2016

How to Save Money on Food

I've heard a lot of people complain that food is too expensive, especially healthy food. I believe that couldn't be further from the truth. Good food is cheap if you follow a few rules.

April 3, 2016

California Maternity Benefits Explained


One of the most stressful parts of the pregnancy for me (Andy) was trying to figure out what benefits Chrissy and I were entitled to from the government.  Unfortunately, it is not easy to find clear information on this subject.  It was so annoying, Chrissy suggested we might not want to bother, but I figure we've paid a lot of taxes, so we deserve to get back every cent we can.