About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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I Grew Up Poor and Learned Financial Literacy Late. Now, I’m Investing for My Children and Teaching Them to Become Millionaires

a man and a child playing with a bucket

For those who are going to comment, “What’s this have to do with BoardingArea?”, the answer is nothing, so don’t bother. Close the tab and leave.

If you’re still here, know that I’m so excited to travel and can’t wait to post more travel stories. This article has a story behind it.

It was originally published on August 25, 2022, on NextAdvisor in partnership with TIME on the Time.com domain. That site folded in early 2023 and the story disappeared into internet ether. I thought it was a good one, so I want to republish it now—on my own blog—for posterity so it isn’t lost forever.

I’ll admit: It’s definitely on the personal finance side of things. It relates to my own personal finance journey that I’ve chronicled here since 2019 (a literal different world ago). It’s a great complement and explains more of my thinking and personal finance philosophy.

And so, I hope having one more personal finance post is OK. This one’s mostly for me, and I hope you enjoy it too.

I Grew Up Poor and Learned Financial Literacy Late. Now, I’m Investing for My Children and Teaching Them to Become Millionaires

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70% of the way to $500K! Will I reach my goal by August? – February 2024 Freedom update

a close up of a fur

I’m creating my own nail-biter over here. This is the third month in a row of a new net worth high. That feels dang good on its own: At nearly $350K, I’m 70% of the way toward my $500K goal.

But the goal is to hit $500K by August 2024. That’s in 7 months! Being $150K short means I’ll have to increase my net worth by over $21,000 each month on average until then to achieve it.

That’s… a lot. Is it realistic?

February 2024 Freedom update

Sleep < Haircut

I mean, probably not.

Is it also incredible? Heck yeah! I continue to be amazed at how compound interest truly has a life of its own.

I’ve had plenty of months with gains and losses of that size. But to have 7 winning months in a row? I’m my own underdog. It’s unlikely but it would be soooo cool if it happened.

Even if it doesn’t, I think I’ll get pretty close. Either way, 2024 is already shaping up to be an incredible year.

February 2024 Freedom update

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New Year goals, up $8K, and an announcement – January 2024 Freedom update

a purple and blue background with white text

Like last month, this one finds me at yet another new net worth high. But unlike last month, it also finds us with a brand new baby girl. That’s right – we are now a party of five and have spent the last week getting to know our sweet new baby!

a man holding a baby

POV: you fell asleep on Dad

Even with all the expenses associated with delivery, my overall net worth continued to tick upward to over $342,000.

I’m excited and so tired. We’re currently on an adventure and making new memories in a new place. Here’s how it’s playing out as I start 2024.

January 2024 Freedom update

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Up $30K, goal almost 70% complete, and closing in on $350K – December 2023 Freedom update

December 2023 Freedom Update

I’m at a new net worth high. In fact, a year ago in December 2022, I was also at a new high: $266K. Must be the so-called “Santa Claus Rally.”

This month I’m at $334K.  That’s $68,000 higher than this time last year and $166,000 left to go to hit my $500,000 goal.

If I can increase my net worth by $18,000 over each of the next nine months, I’ll hit the goal. Is that possible? Well, this month I’m up nearly $30,000 so… if the trend keeps up I just might make it.

But I also know how quick it can turn, so don’t want to take mental possession of it yet.

December 2023 Freedom update

I went to a Christmas market in Oslo last week

That was a lot of numbers. Here’s one more: I’m 67% of the way there.

Whether I hit the goal by the end of August 2024 as planned/hoped for or not, I’m gonna go ahead and give myself some grace. I’m doing so good.

December 2023 Freedom update

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Bouncing back, up $19K, and are we on an upward trend? – November 2023 Freedom update

November 2023 Freedom update

Somehow I’m back at 61% of my $500,000 savings goal and up nearly $19,000 this month. Not gonna lie, last month was devastating being down so much.

So while I love restoring growth, I know better than to get attached or assign mental possession to it. It could just as easily slide down again (and it has). In my case, it will.

Because we have a lot of expenses coming up in the next few months. The only thing that could provide levity is for the stock market to keep going in this upward trend, which… is it? 

November 2023 Freedom update

With my upgraded Hilton Aspire card

There’s been a lot of positive economic news lately (in the world at large), and my 401k has nearly recovered all the losses from earlier in the year. This month, my other investment accounts rose back to their October 2023 levels. If the market continues to improve, it could seriously make up for (and exceed?) my upcoming expenses.

And if the housing market improves, I could add to my home equity. Again, trying to stay level, but there it is: that hope that things will start to turn around.

Either way, I’m staying on track, adding cash to accounts when I can, cutting expenses wherever possible, and steadily paying down debt—all at the same time. As I have someone managed to do for years.

November 2023 Freedom update

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Down $27K and accepting more future losses, today – October 2023 Freedom update

October 2023 Freedom update

I’m coming in sheepishly! My Travis Scott ticket reselling fiasco made a splash—for others in my situation and in the ticket reselling community. I’ve already talked about that here and don’t have more to say about it… for now.

I mention it because I sold stock for the first time in my life to correct my mistake and allll the life lessons that came along with that. Anywhomst’ve, I’m completely at peace with it. I learned my lesson, and I’m moving forward. It sucked, but it’s over.

October 2023 Freedom update boy boss

Alt text: Blurry Tulsa hotel boy boss pic

You’ll see that debacle, a market that struggled through most of September (with one of the lowest days since March and the Dow that went negative for 2023 YTD), and a big decline in my home value reflected in this Freedom update.

As of now, I will most likely NOT hit $500K by August 2024. As my toilet stopped draining last week and lead to further large repair reckonings this month, I had my freakouts and regrouped. Here’s a link to the amazing BOY BOSS t-shirt from the photo above if you want one. (Sorry for the jarring transition.)

Life has changed a lot since I made that goal way back when. I will have multiple millions by the time I retire—even without adding another cent to my savings. And it’s true that, in general, I’m focused on the day-to-day more now.

I accept all that. And, not to get too philosophical, realized it’s not that serious. Spending money now, while I don’t love it, is what I have to do right now. (And maybe I do love it? Because we’re always getting what we want.)a screenshot of a woman with her mouth open

All that to say, anything could happen and I’m still sticking to my plan of investing heavily, paying debt, and reducing expenses. There are speed bumps now. They won’t always be there.

Anyway, let’s talk about it.

October 2023 Freedom update

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Life lessons from my risky ticket reselling attempt (so far)

a man with a beard

The post below is in reference to this post about ticket reselling. 

Since last week, I’ve been spinning out because of this whole Travis Scott ticket reselling fiasco. Like, literally been saying some variation of, “Harlan, what did you DO?”

Well, today I did some 0% APR balance transfers and cashed out some stock (which I have never done before in my life) to take some pressure off the situation.

Somewhere in there, I realized how fortunate I am to have financial tools that can get me out of a mess—including the one I made for myself.

Or maybe I’m just intellectualizing the whole thing to feel better about something that was profoundly dumb and risky.

a man with a beard

Pic for attention (on one of my walks)

Either way, I’ve learned a lot about my risk tolerance, evolving money philosophies, and how I’ve shifted to a place of security. Yes, security. Even after all that.

Lessons learned from ticket reselling

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Update: My American Airlines account is back post-hack (kinda)

AA account hacked

AA account post-hack is an update to this post.

My AAdvantage account was brutally hacked back in July. Someone got my login info and used nearly all the miles for an award flight.

They also used my email to sign me up for literally thousands of emails lists—I’m still unsubscribing from them to this day. It was a clever move, because the emails from American Airlines could’ve easily fallen through the cracks. I guess that’s what they were hoping for.

a screenshot of an account

Keeping the “Since 2006” was a nice touch

Stuff is mostly back. All my activity ported over, along with Loyalty Points, elite status… even the date I joined AAdvantage. ✈️

I basically didn’t have an account for ~2 months. And I’m still discovering all the things that don’t quite work the way they should.

I’ve spent hours and hours on hold and talking to various American staff. It looks like more calls are needed.

Starting over isn’t easy following a hack.

What works in my AA account post-hack

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Adventures in concert ticket reselling for points (NOT for me, this is terrible!)

a screenshot of a music website

Ugh. I have a huge pit in my stomach. Inspired by hopes of quick points and miles, I went all-in on tickets for the upcoming Travis Scott tour. Like, alllll in.

I bought blocks of them, thinking I’d resell at face value right away. Well, they’re not moving and I can’t tell whether I’m in over my head, not the right type for this, or profoundly irresponsible (especially in light of my ongoing FIRE journey). Or just way too impatient.

a screenshot of a music website

Come on Travis, do your thing

I bought the tickets last week and the tour begins next month (October 11 in Charlotte). My first show tickets are for October 20 in Kansas City.

Since I bought them, all I’ve been doing in my spare time is refreshing the seat maps. I’m already thinking: Do I have to take a loss? Why did I do this? How else can I offload these things? 

There are all sorts of ways to earn extra miles and points. For this one, I jumped in feet first wayyy too soon.

Travis Scott ticket reselling

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Thinking out loud: Another move and new net worth $313K high – September 2023 Freedom update

September 2023 Freedom update

September is my personal new year. I had a birthday last week and turned 39. And next week, Beck will be 1. [times flies, etc.]

It’s also a countdown to my $500,000 goal – one year left.

It’s looking unlikely that I’ll hit it—unless something massively shifts (which is always a possibility) with an unprecedented bull run, influx of cash, huge real estate increase, or something of that caliber.

September 2023 Freedom update

Daddy mode

Not to say that won’t happen, just that it’s easier for me to grasp if I’m realistic. But there’s still that dreamer in me.

Right now, I’m at ~$313K. That’s $187K short. To hit $500,000, I’d need to collect $15,583 per month for the next 12 months.

I’ve had months like that before. And every time the stock market rises even 1%, that’s a huge gain for me. But it’s more than I can produce on my own.

So this month finds me, as always, pondering where I can place the best 20% of my efforts to get closer to 80% of the overall results I seek. 🌠

September 2023 Freedom update

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Yotta review: A savings account that lets you gamble in a daily lottery for free

Yotta review

Savings and gambling! What could go wrong? 😹

Yotta, an online-only savings account, lets you play the lottery in such a way that you always win. Or at least, never lose.

Instead of earning interest like other high-yield savings accounts (where interest rates are currently 4% or more), Yotta pays you in daily lottery tickets with drawings up to $1 million.

Fascinated? Horrified? Maybe a little curious? That was my initial reaction.

Yotta review

Also, why not?

When I saw their partner banks are FDIC-insured and then literally 1,000s of 5-star reviews on the App Store, I decided to throw in $100 bucks (which gets me 4 free daily tickets) just for fun.

I don’t have to pay for these tickets, and on average, Yotta claims to return 2.70% APY with winnings included.

But let’s be real. Yotta is about the thrill. The dream. The “what if?” The “somebody’s gonna win, and it could be me!”

Hey, in this world, we need to have fun whenever we can. And if Yotta gives you a daily boost of feel-good chemicals well… that’s worth it.

My Yotta review

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I bought land on the internet and earned credit card rewards

a field with trees and a house

Just what the headline says: buy land with credit card. I think it was purely luck. But now I’m wondering if I could do it again.

buy land with credit card

Plus the document fees, which were another ~$300

I paid with my Bank of America Customized Cash card, had my bonus category set to “online shopping,” paid through PayPal and earned full + bonus rewards for the purchase.

I’ve been trolling eBay looking for other parcels. So far, I haven’t found anything as sweet as the one I bought, but there have been a couple where I came close.

Questions I immediately had were:

  • Is this legit?
  • They’re selling the crappiest lots, right?
  • There could be soooo many issues with the land, the title, the neighbors, access, easements…….

Here’s what I’ve discovered so far.

Buy land with credit card? Apparently yes!

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