Hard-hitting Motivation

I spend a lot of my leisure time these days, reading Personal Finance (PF) blogs and one that I’m exploring pretty heavily is 1500 Days.

I was looking at his most-popular posts and one of them was simply titled “Enough.”

From there, I found a piece of motivational speech that shook me pretty hard. The thing is, it’s not a new idea or even a difficult concept to grasp. Here’s the quote by Mr. 1500 as he’s called on the site:

“I don’t have much fancy stuff, but I have more time. You can’t buy any more of that. Ever.”

That’s pretty heavy, right?

We can never buy more time. Maybe right now, time isn’t important to you because you’re having fun accumulating wealth or partying with your friends or anywhere in between on that spectrum. At some point this quote should shock you to your core. Have you ever heard of a person on their death bed wishing they had just made a little bit more money?

If you want to derive action from this quote, it might be earning enough money so that you DO have more time. More time with your family. More time not worrying about your future. More time enjoying the life you’re actually living now instead of continually dreaming for something marginally better.

I should probably take this advice too…

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Current Strategy

So…

I understand that there are split feelings on this service, but we’ve decided to invest with Betterment.

We threw $200 in there as a start and over a couple weeks, we’ve amassed a whopping $0.41. We’ve also developed a plan to meet a goal we’ve set through the service that will help us in retirement. My plan is to invest with them despite (not IN spite) what other popular blogs say about it.

We may be giving up control and paying higher fees with them vs. Vanguard or DIY solutions but I’m of the mindset “something is better than nothing.” And we never ventured into the investment realm before now (401K, TSP aside).

In addition, I’ve rebalanced my Traditional TSP to include the C Fund so that it’s not so heavy into Bonds (I intend to do a write up of TSP investing at a later date).

Why did our investment journey begin so late?

Just like most people, we’ve been focusing on getting through life comfortably. Comfortable is the ability to buy what you need when you need it. We denied ourselves very little but we also didn’t have super expensive habits or tastes. We took out a mortgage on a home a few years back and we both have loans on modern cars. We don’t have much credit card debt but our spending habits could definitely improve.

Our journey began when I learned about the FIRE community this year. We took the first step and signed up for Personal Capital to take a look at our finances…

If you haven’t done this yet, do it now!

Seriously, I’ll wait here. You NEED this service because it’s free and it does the work categorizing your expenses for you. It can help you track bad habits like daily coffee spending, monthly bills you forgot about (subscription boxes, anyone?), and how much you’re spending month to month.

Next I read JL Collins’, The Simple Path to Wealth which you can buy from Amazon, HERE.

The book teaches you about Index Funds which are funds that invest in the total index or every publicly-traded stock. This means that your investing is tied to the market instead of an individual stock. The stock market always goes up despite crashes (read: corrections) so it’s risky in the short term but a safe bet for the long term.

DISCLAIMER: So I probably should have posted this in the intro but you need to know that I am not a financial planner and hold no certifications or licenses related to personal finance. As such, use the information on this blog and any linked blog at your own risk. I can’t be held responsible if you read the info here, invest all of your money, and then lose it if the market declines or corrects. Be a responsible adult and do your own reading and make your own educated choices.

Thanks for reading!

The Cost Per Use Rule

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve found about being frugal (specifically, about being more mindful of your spending) is the Cost-Per-Use (CPU) rule.

Here’s how it works.

Set a limit for yourself on the CPU of anything you purchase from here on out. Obviously this only works on physical, non-consumable goods… like a hammer, or coat, or deluxe baby stroller.

For me, I’ve set the limit at: $1.00

When you go to a store and you’ve got a product in your hand, take a few seconds to estimate what the CPU is based on how many times you will use the item in a year. If the number of times you will use the product multiplied by your CPU is greater than the price of the product, don’t buy it!

Example:

You want to buy a new flashlight that costs $12.00 and you remember that you went camping six times last year where you used the old flashlight and used it twice to rummage through your car at night and you used it for five nights when you helped the school crossing guard for evening classes. Based on that estimate, your math looks like this:

$12.00 (Price) x $1.00 (CPU) = $12.00 / 13 (estimated uses) = $0.92 CPU

Buy it!

If my math is wrong, forgive me, it wasn’t my strongest suit in school. Also, I’m aware that this goes against the theory that you should always buy the best version of whatever forever product you plan to own, but this is less a rule and more a way of looking at frivolous spending.

In the scenario above, if the flashlight cost $25.00, the CPU would have been higher than the price and you probably shouldn’t buy it. It’s important to be honest with yourself about the number of possible future uses because you can convince yourself that you will use ANYTHING more than you actually will, just to buy it.

This rule also gets a little tricky when you consider Feature Creep.

“It’s only $3.00 more to get the flashlight with the built-in carabiner! This deal’s a steal!”

IF… and that’s a HUGE IF, you went to a store on purpose to buy just one product, you weren’t planning on buying a flashlight with a carabiner. So you probably don’t need it. And… that carabiner option probably only cost about $0.12 for the company to add. It’s NOT a deal.

Welcome To Bootstrap FIRE

First.

 

I decided to make a blog to chronicle my family’s march towards Financial Independence (FI) and Retiring Early (RE)… sometimes written as “FI/ER,” or “FIRE,” or “FI/RE.” Before you dig too deep, be aware that I am not a licensed financial planner and hold no certifications or official positions in the PF field. As such, please use any advice you read here or at the linked websites at your own risk. If you want to learn more about the basics of what these ideas are, you can cruise over to one of the MANY websites designed around the concept:

Mad Fientist

Go Curry Cracker

Mr. Money Mustache

JL Collins NH

Financial Samurai

Millennial Revolution

Retire By 40

Those are just some of the most talked about. As a quick note, if you’re going over to Mr. Money Mustache, be aware that the community there takes Frugalism and investment seriously. The attitude feels a little elitist, but there’s tons of great information there.

Why BootStrap FIRE?

Because I’m presently serving in the United States Air Force and have reached 20 years of service making eligible for retirement from the military with a pension. Because of my position, you will need to take some of the information I plan to post here with a grain of salt. My family’s health care bills are covered which, I understand, is a huge portion of the budget for many families. Also, we don’t pay tax on a portion of my income and we have access to TSP (which we do contribute a bit to). There are some other perks that enable us to have some money to put into savings but those are the biggest items.

Why a Blog?

Because I want to tell the story of my investment journey and discovery of the FIRE community from the beginning and from the POV of someone who started late in the game (currently 37 with no investments other than TSP). We have only been contributing around 5% (fluctuates based on personal choice) to TSP monthly.

I believe this blog will also help others in the military who don’t get a lot of training on investments and saving for the future. If you stumble upon this blog, as a service member, please pass it on… I will be doing updates on TSP performance and what I’ve learned about the program here.

The blog will also have fun frugal ideas I’ve learned from other sites and some I’ve come up with on my own. It was surprising to learn how fun frugalism (read: smart choices, not, being a cheapskate) can be and I hope to pass on some of that excitement.

I hope you enjoy your time reading here (outdoorsy posts also incoming) and if you do, let your friends and family know.

Thank you!