FIRE

Category Archives for FIRE.

Hitting a major rough patch & down $35K – May 2020 Freedom Update

Selling my Dallas condo has consumed most of my energy this month. Every time I check the Zestimate on Zillow, it falls a little more (yeah, I know it’s not reliable, but seeing the number go down gets me in the worst way). The value was above $200K for a few years, and now it’s dipped below that.

I get the resale certificate tomorrow. At this point, I’m seriously considering offloading to a cash for homes place just to get rid of it so I can move on with my life.

Because of Covid-19, I was able to get a 90-day forbearance on the mortgage. So I’m hoping that whatever’s going to happen will work itself out in the next three months. Cuz it’s seriously stressing me out.

May 2020 Freedom Update

What good has come from this situation? I’m meditating again and preparing for life’s next chapter

In the background, I’ve taken time to reconnect to my meditation practice (remember when I did that 10-day meditation retreat when I first got to Dallas?). And I’m seriously considering going full digital nomad when I no longer have a mortgage pinning me down. I want to travel again – this time, for a long time.

I’m also cutting my losses. Mourning in advance, if you will. So while my numbers are down this month, it means I’m going to have to work that much harder (or smarter) to keep my goals on track. Either way, I feel I am winding down my time in Dallas.

May 2020 Freedom Update

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Booked: How I used points to save $2,000+ on five days at FinCon 2020

fincon 2020

Dang, conferences are expensive these days! Especially if you’re paying for it yourself and not getting reimbursed from a job. But FinCon is one I’m happy to self-finance.

I’m genuinely interested in the content, meeting like-minded peeps, and immersing myself in a world of ideas about money. Now that I’m FIRE-ing up my efforts more than ever and missed last year in DC, I simply had to go. But I didn’t want to pay the piper.

So I burned a batch of old Marriott points for a five-night stay only four minutes from the conference hall, plus a few Amex Membership Rewards points. And used Citi ThankYou points and statement credits to fly there and back. The only thing I’ll pay for is food, rideshares to/from the airports, and dog boarding. 💥

fincon 2020 points

There’s yours truly among the revelers at FinCon

All told, I think I paid ~$100 for the flights and hotel. FinCon, here I come!

FinCon 2020 with points

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Invest Vs Pay Down Credit Card Debt & Up $11,000 – January 2020 Freedom Update

Most of my thoughts recently have been on money instead of travel. Now that I have aggressive financial goals, I want to meet at least a few milestones before I take another big trip.

I’m seeing the juncture of points & miles with personal finance so clearly. I’m understanding how much you can really save on travel by accumulating credit card rewards – and sinking the extra funds into investment accounts.

Of course, I’ve always known how awesome points are if you’re passionate about travel. And you bet your bottom dollar I’m gonna treat myself to a nice big award (!) trip to celebrate soon enough.

January 2020 Freedom Update

Travel will always be my #1 passion. Now I’m wondering: where is the intersection of traveling cheap and living frugally?

This month, I was waiting for the right time to post this update. But there is no perfect time and things will always be in flux.

With that in mind, let’s dive into what happened in January!

January 2020 Freedom update

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My First Month of Diligent Saving & Net Worth Is up $20,000 – December 2019 Freedom Update

November was the first month I got down and dirty with my new financial goals. Having them in mind gave the month shape and purpose – I felt for the first time in a while that I was working toward something urgent and real and palpable that I could measure.

If naming things is empowering, creating a plan is getting superpowers. I watched as each dollar flowed into and out of my accounts.

Slow and steady wins the race, but I have an out-of-control, flaming emergency! I have GOT to pay off my credit cards by April 2020 before the 0% APR rate expires. And I’ve got over $14,000 left to go.

Last month, a combination of strong market and aggressive payments boosted my overall net worth to $115,806 – a full $20,000+ increase.

And while it’s nowhere near the $500,000 goal I want to hit, it’s an awesome start. And to that end, this is my first Freedom update (Freedom is what I call money). I hope I look back on these posts and marvel at my progress. One day…

December 2019 Freedom Update

Getting started on my FIRE in a big way – getting rid of credit card debt is my #1 prerogative right now

I know “never say never” buuuut… I will NEVER have credit card debit ever again as long as I live. In the future, I’ll dip into my healthy savings account. Because this hurdle really freaking sucks.

December 2019 Freedom update

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My Audacious Plan to Increase My Net Worth to $500,000 in 5 Years – November 2019 Freedom Update

I’ve been wanting to talk about personal money stuff for the longest time. After all, my tagline has always been “Investing. Positivity. Oh, and travel.

Fear held me back because I didn’t want to sound like I didn’t know what I was talking about. I was afraid of impostor syndrome. And revealing financial details can introduce shame because you’re officially throwing out your yard stick for everyone to see.

But you know what? I started this blog over six years ago before I knew what I was doing with miles and points and learned as I went along. I got a lot of stuff wrong, things changed, and I grew. I was scared then too. But also:

  • YOLO
  • Eff it
  • Jump in both feet first
  • Learn as you go
  • Start somewhere
  • Do it ugly
  • Nothing is ever lost by creating

The biggest point of contention was that – I’m 35 now – a strapping young buck to be sure, but when I see other financial bloggers retiring at 30 and I still have student loans and credit card debt I’m like… feeling so behind.

This is me 10 years ago in LA. I wish I’d done more to help him (he wasn’t thinking about FIRE) – but I can start helping future me right now

But by what measurement? I can’t – and shouldn’t – compare someone else’s end point to my in-process. Although I wonder… what the hell have I been doing for the last 15 years? 😵

In the spirit of starting somewhere and being where you are, I want to keep myself accounted for and confess my dirtiest financial deeds.

November 2019 Freedom update

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STOP Leaving Your Money in Checking Accounts! Make It Earn FREE Interest Instead!

When I pull cash out of an ATM, the receipt always says I have something like $100 in my account. Yeah, in my checking account.

The truth is I keep my checking account balance low on purpose. Because money in a checking account ain’t doing nothing but sittin’ like a bump on a pickle (#SouthernSayins).

I want my money to work for me. Every day, for years. Compound interest is a wonderful tool that can work for you – or against you. So make it work FOR you!

At the very least, keep your money in an interest-bearing savings account. Pay your bills from checking, then transfer the excess to a high-interest savings or investment account.

earn free interest

Compound interest is one of the most powerful forces in the universe

Whatever you do, stop using checking accounts to park your money!

Get an interest savings account and/or an investment account to earn free interest

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Did Fidelity Just Become the Best Investment Bank? 4 New FREE Funds!

Very cool news from Fidelity.  There are 4 new total market funds with ZERO management expenses and NO minimums to start investing.

Plus, they’ve slashed fees and minimums on several other funds.

I wrote about the best IRA accounts and which banks let you start investing right away with a single $1. What’s cool with Fidelity is you can pair your IRA with the Fidelity Visa, which earns 2% cashback on every purchase. Then sweep the cashback rewards into one of these free index funds. The card is free to have – so it’s literally free money to invest into free funds.

fidelity zero index funds

Fidelity just made a bold move with 2 FREE funds

Everyone should have an IRA account. Here’s more info on Fidelity’s new mutual funds.

Fidelity Zero index funds

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LAST DAY: $499 FinCon Passes – This September in Orlando!

Update 7/31/18: It looks like the $499 price is going strong because of a “Summer Sale”! I’d still say to act ASAP if you’re interested!

Looking for inspiration, truly great networking opportunities, and a ton of personal finance information in one jam-packed 4-day event?

I attended FinCon 2017 in Dallas. As soon as it was done, I immediately registered to attend Orlando 2018, though I didn’t know how I’d fit it in at the time.

Flash forward to now. In 2 short months, I’ll be in Orlando for a week of CardCon, FinCon, and maybe even Disney World (when in Rome, right?). 🏝

Last year’s FinCon was a turning point in my own financial development. Plus, I got to meet some of my favorite bloggers in person (Paula from Afford Anything, Chonce from My Debt Epiphany, and Summer from Mommy Points) – and so many other knowledgable, inspirational peeps.

This year’s conference will be in Orlando at the Rosen Shingle Creek hotel from September 26th through 29th, 2018. Today is the last day to lock in a basic pass for $499. As of tomorrow, the price jumps to $599. So if you’ve been on the fence, now’s the time to get the best deal! 

fincon 2018 orlando

Spend a few days delving deep into finance at FinCon this September

Plus, I’ll be there! 🤑

FinCon 2018 Orlando event information

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Why I Bought a New Car (With a Car Note!) Despite FIRE

Also see: 

I wrote how I bought a car with credit cards in early 2016. It was a used 2004 Subaru Forester. And it fit my needs at the time.

I swore I’d never buy a new car. It’s a badge of honor within the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) community to have an old car with tons of miles on it. It means you’re frugal. And saving. And “doing it right.” A quick search on Reddit returns more opinions than you can ever filter through.

There’s even a rap song called “No Car Note.” (“I love my ’98 Honda!”)

But after running the numbers, I broke my own rule. And bought a 2017 Nissan Versa Note. With a car note.

New or used car? Why I went new

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Best IRA Accounts: 8 Companies Compared (Self-Directed, Apps, & Roboadvisors)

Update 8/3/18: Fidelity now has the cheapest fees and NO minimums to start investing. Check out my full write-up!

Also see: 

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Acorns, an app I think is a great place to get started with investing (especially for millennials). Talking about investing is dicey. For one, because it’s personal (duh). For that reason, everyone has an opinion on it. And that’s where the confusion starts.

My view is: it doesn’t matter where you begin, so long as you do. You can always switch things around later. To that end, I feel Acorns has the most approachable interface for a beginner “despite” costing $1 a month. And there’s no minimum to start investing.

best ira accounts

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is RIGHT THIS SECOND. Start NOW!

That said, it’s an app and doesn’t let you choose your own funds (you pick from their portfolios). Same with StashWealthsimple, and Betterment. Of course, you’ll get the best deal with a self-directed account – but the minimums are dauntingly high for a beginner, with the exception of TD Ameritrade.

I’ll compare these companies for expenses, account and fund minimums, and quirky extras:

I am focusing on IRAs here – although they all have the option to simply be an investment account (which is why I excluded Robinhood – they do NOT have IRAs).

8 Best IRA Accounts Compared

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House Hacking Through… Airbnb? My 1st Month Numbers!

Also see:

I’ve written extensively about my adventures hosting on Airbnb. I’ve always leased apartments, then listed them on Airbnb. That formula worked in New York and continues to work in Dallas.

The Airbnb service is intended to rent space in your primary residence. I’d never done that because I didn’t want strangers in my actual home. But last month, I took a weekend and converted my spare bedroom and bathroom into a private guest room and listed it on Airbnb.

airbnb house hacking

My guest bedroom

And so far… wow! The response is incredible. Guests are loving it. And something that surprised me… so am I!

A nice benefit is I’m earning more than if I had a roommate. And I’m even thinking it could get to the point where it could cover my entire mortgage payment – I could live in my own place for basically nothing!

Airbnb house hacking… for real?

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