Brian from one of my favorite blogs, DebtlessInTexas.com, nominated Think Save Retire for the Liebster Award, which is a way to learn more about newer blogs and especially the people who make all the magic happen behind the scenes. I like the idea, so I will take the bull by the horns and complete my part of this experience.
As part of the award, blog authors are asked to provide a little bit of information about themselves that blog readers probably wouldn’t know. I’m a bit of an open book, so here goes!
I am an adrenaline junky. I rode a Yamaha R1 sportbike for years and nearly killed myself too many times to continue riding that sucker. It was a blast to ride, just a ton of fun. But alas, I have “upgraded” to an old-man bike, a cruiser. I’m riding a Honda VTX 1300c now and thoroughly enjoy it.
I hate changing my bed sheets. My gawd, it’s like literally getting my teeth pulled. I can do the laundry all day long, but there is something about the act of changing my bed sheets that I absolutely abhor. Sucks, cause slipping into a freshly-washed set of sheets feels wonderful.
I’m a sucker for Judge Judy. It’s not that I particularly believe the drama of her courtroom show entirely, but I like Judge Judy’s no-nonsense “put up or shut up” attitude. She is definitely my guilty pleasure. “I’m the boss, applesauce!”
I am a vegan, but not really. For the longest time I thought that I could never give up meat. But after giving it a try, I was amazed at how easy it is to do. I like the way that a meatless diet makes me feel, and the reduction of my waist size is definitely an added benefit. Meat is expensive too. Screw that. I will still eat meat and dairy occasionally, but not nearly as much as I once did.
I hate IPA beers, but only because I enjoy tasting food afterwards. To me, the hops in IPAs completely destroys your pallet, and quite frankly I don’t enjoy the taste of hops nearly enough to make it worth it. Give me an amber and I’m a happy camper. Give me the Deep Canyon Amber from Thunder Canyon Brewery and I will love you forever…or at least until the beer is gone.
I am musically challenged, big time. Listening to me try to play an instrument as simple as the recorder is the audio equivalent of the feeling you get after eating a bad piece of cheese, or maybe getting punched in the gut by that drunk friend of yours. Seriously, stand clear. I completely suck at making pleasing sounds.
Questions from Debtless In Texas
1. If you could sit down and have a beer with anyone, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Believe it or not, I’d have a beer (or maybe a couple shots of whiskey) with Wyatt Earp. I’m a sucker when it comes to the old west, and Earp is one of the most recognizable figures in the history of the west. He was a Deputy Sheriff in Pima County, AZ (where I live), a gambler and, of course, wildly spewed rounds of ammunition during the famed gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone.
I’d want to know what motivated him. The movie, of course, made him out to be a money-grubbing bastard, and that may be. But Hollywood’s goal is movie ticket sales, not historical accuracy. I want to know for myself, straight from the mouth of Wyatt Earp. I’d ask him, “Mr. Earp – are you an asshole?” I’d probably then duck for cover.
The truth is Earp was a savvy businessman. He originally moved to Tombstone – at the time an “up and coming city”) – for its silver-mining potential, but realized his true fortunes after his appointment as Deputy Sheriff and tax collector, which paid today’s equivalent of nearly $1m a year. Like him or hate him, Earp was motivated and determined, and I want to know what makes him tick.
2. What has been your biggest financial regret and what did you/are you doing about it?
My biggest financial regret was buying shit that I didn’t need. Like I wrote about earlier, I graduated from college and immediately plunked down almost half of my salary on a used Corvette and proceeded to dump another half year’s salary (at the time) into upgrades. But that was only one example of my spending habits. I spent damn good money going out to eat every damn day back when I lived and worked in Virginia, and that stuff adds up – fast.
I wish my biggest financial mistake wasn’t so easy to point out, but in my case it is. A couple years ago I got into guns, so I blew through a few thousand procuring a few hand guns and ammunition. Last year I bought a Honda Ridgeline, not exactly the hallmark of motorized efficiency. Damn, I was a mess.
Since my wife and I made the decision to retire early, we have completely streamlined our spending. We don’t spend money on junk any more. In fact, we feel much more satisfied when we rid our lives of stuff rather than augmenting it with crap. We’re literally swimming in cash now that we pour into our short or long term savings accounts. We have shorter term goals of buying some property in Sedona, AZ and longer term goals of, well, retiring before I hit the sweet old age of 40.
It’ll happen on schedule. Actually, screw that. It’ll happen before schedule because we are devoted to living a non-ridiculous lifestyle that prioritizes saving rather than spending, of the elimination of shit rather than the accumulation of it. I have come a long, long way since making the decision to retire early.
3. If you could retire tomorrow – what would you do with your time?
I would focus more on this web site and work to get my TSR podcast off the ground. I would also look to start building up a photography business and turn my hobby into something that I do “for a living”. Since I’d be retired, I can accept the jobs I want and turn down the ones that I don’t. But, I thoroughly enjoy working with my camera and capturing life’s most precious moments, and if I can bring that joy to other people, I’d be a richer person for it.
4. If you could only give one piece of advice to someone new to personal finance what would it be and why?
Don’t think of saving as money that you can’t spend now. Instead, think of saving as money that you can spend later. Understand that you are not simply “depriving yourself of happiness” now. Instead, you are increasing your level of happiness later. Do you really want to get your ass out of bed at 6am when you’re 60 to commute to a job that you hate…or even one that you like? If you’re like most people, hell no. Every cent saved while younger is more money that can be used for retirement later.
The problem is most people view savings as money that can’t be spent until they reach the typical, society-approved retirement age…somewhere in your early 60s. But, when committed to a simple and frugal lifestyle that keeps financial independence as the ultimate goal, then a couple decades are easily shaved off of that magical age where you can begin living off of your savings – for good. Try your early 40s, not 60s.
5. Who inspires you?
My dad. He retired at 49 and showed me that responsible living really does work. He instilled in me the belief that a positive attitude towards life and a commitment to fiscal responsibility is the best way to ensure your happiness throughout life, and that the accumulation of useless stuff is rarely the source of any genuine happiness.
My dad was a math major in college and holds two Masters degrees. He isn’t a person to let emotions get the better of him. Instead, his decision-making tends to be structured and reasoned, and I observed that behavior throughout my life both as a young person and an adult.
Who is the next contestant?
I would like to nominate three worthy personal finance and early retirement blogs that I have come to read often and appreciate.
Work To Not Work – This blog is run by Zee who, like me, is an early-30s guy working in the IT industry and looking for a way out of the rat race. We have much of the same outlook on life and we’re both looking forward to the day where we can call our jobs in the IT industry a thing of the past.
Big Guy Money – This blog definitely keeps it real and I enjoy reading content from the Big Guy. The perspective he takes is interesting and thought-provoking (where family and finance collide), and I’m proud that he successfully accomplished his 30 days without soda challenge.
FI Under The Big Sky – Cool blog, and I like their attitude and what they are doing over there. Especially their crockpot posts. Like my wife and I, the folks behind this blog love to travel and experience some new and pretty seriously exotic stuff. Love it! Screw normalcy.
And the questions that I’d like to ask of them? Here goes…
1. What makes you think that you can retire early?
2. What is your single greatest achievement in life?
3. If you could make a living with one of your hobbies, what would it be?
4. Beach, mountains or the plains…where do you want to retire?
5. How would you define your future happiness?
Steve is a 38-year-old early retiree who writes about the intersection of happiness and financial independence. Steve is a regular contributor to MarketWatch, CNBC, and The Ladders. He lives full-time in his 30′ Airstream Classic and travels the country with his wife Courtney and two rescued dogs.