Frugal Living

The Master Archive!

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Paying Off the Mortgage vs Investing the Difference

By Keith Taxguy / September 24, 2018 / 19 Comments

One of the most difficult decisions you can make as you struggle toward financial independence is deciding between paying off the mortgage quickly or investing the excess funds instead. The water is more muddy when we see a roaring stock market for as far back as the eye can see coupled with low interest rates. The answer seems simple and obvious: pay off the mortgage as slowly as possible and invest the difference in broad market-based index funds.

You might also think people well past the mile-marker of financial independence would have an even easier choice. Once the risk of a market decline passes due to your excessive net worth, it is tempting to automatically choose the course with the greatest opportunity for maximum gain.

Your favorite accountant has struggles with the same decision: pay it off  or invest. It all came to a head recently when the topic came up on Facebook. I gave my opinion and the fur flew. Before long my inbox was stuffed with requests for a fully fleshed out explanation of my position.

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Free Tickets to Any NFL Game for You!

By Keith Taxguy / September 10, 2018 / 3 Comments

I preempt our regular programming. I had an awesome post planned for today, but then my oldest daughter returned from college and told me something that made my mouth sweat. (You can enjoy the planned awesome post Thursday.)

Regular readers may remember I swore off commercial television decades ago, including my beloved football (not to be confused with soccer, my non-North American friends). Still, football is a massive part of the backwoods lifestyle of Phuket, Wisconsin. (Can you blame us? It’s all we have! Either that or admiring our frozen tundra.)

Now I know what you’re thinking. You like football and if you enjoy the sport you should be able to enjoy the sport. I agree. But readers around here are frugal and it takes a king’s ransom to get into the game! If you’re lucky enough to be in the 1% it’s still affordable, but if you’re in the 1% somebody else paid for those tickets or you don’t attend such extravagant events. Paying for NFL game tickets is for the 99% and chumps.

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How to be Admired and Have the Wealth You Want

By Keith Taxguy / August 30, 2018 / 5 Comments

Certain characteristics tend to show up again and again. If you admire people with money you might notice they tend towards frugality and index fund investing or own a business. You can emulate that easy enough. You might notice many travel and want to do the same. By following their example you increase the odds you will accumulate more resources to travel.

There is no guarantee you will get the same results. A person in prison will have limitations from the rest of the population. Nelson Mandela is a perfect example. He gained the respect of the guards and the people of a nation while imprisoned. He was fortunate that he was released and led South Africa for many years. Other people doing the same thing will almost certainly get a different result.

This blog is about wealth. It might depress you when I say you can search the traits of those you admire and incorporate those traits only to find less admiration than those you worked to emulate. That misses the whole point. Successful integration of quality traits do not guarantee anything and shouldn’t even be the goal! It is the daily effort to improve yourself with the traits you acquired that makes you wealthy.

The daily journey is the reward, the riches you seek. You can examine the admired of your community and work to integrate those positive traits into your persona. But please, kind readers, make plenty of room for you. Explore the qualities already inside you.

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Marriage and Money: Finding the Perfect Mate

By Keith Taxguy / August 27, 2018 / 9 Comments

From the outside it can look easy. Watching a couple together for 30 years and still madly in love is something everyone can enjoy and learn from. We forget the ride from when they met to this very day where they are still together wasn’t a smooth one. Life intervened. Money problems arose, fights broke out, angry words were uttered and myriad other problems interjected into the relationship.

Mrs. Accountant and I are such a couple. We celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary earlier this year. Some people like to throw a party as they reach anniversary milestones. Mrs. A and I prefer a more solitude ceremony of two. We share stories and wondered what we did that was so special we would beat the odds.

Both of us came from poor, lower middle-class backgrounds. Mrs. A had a small car loan when we met and a modest balance in the bank. I was starting to make headway, but money was tight. I say this with a brave face. It’s easy to forget how hard we had to work to build our wealth and maintain a stable relationship.

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If You Love Spending Money This Will Make You Rich

By Keith Taxguy / August 20, 2018 / 10 Comments

“Should I feel guilty when spending money?” It’s a common question when I consult with clients. They are so tuned into frugality they sometimes start associating negative feelings with money. It’s a bad thing to start feeling.

Spending money is NOT an evil activity! In modern society we have it so easy that we tend to either overspend (the vast majority) or become hyper-frugal (a significant percentage of the demographic reading this blog). Both lifestyles are unhealthy. Overspending leads to serious problems when the bills come due and income might not keep up. Debt is a serious issue I ask clients (and readers) to consider purging. The opposite of overspending is the hyper-frugal drive. This can suck the pleasure out of life as fast as a heavy debt burden.

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The Day Jordan Peterson Schooled the FIRE Community

By Keith Taxguy / August 13, 2018 / 37 Comments

Most people familiar with Jordan Peterson and his work comes from the litany of YouTube videos. From college classroom lectures to podcasts to interviews, Peterson has covered a wide variety of topics. Sometimes he is controversial in his stance, bringing him viral traffic. Most of the time his presentations are extraordinarily deep probes of the human psyche.

Whether you love or hate him, the one thing we should all agree on is that he makes us think. His latest book (12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos) is must-read material. Unlike most books, this one you must own. A library copy will not be enough. You will read and re-read this material again. The message is so deep that one reading only scratches the surface. As I read Peterson’s book I could rarely finish a page without stopping to think about what I just read. Sometime I had to walk away and make sense of what I was just presented. By far, this is the slowest reading of a book for me in over a decade.

For over 730,000 words I’ve been trying to convey a message with this blog. While reading 12 Rules I discovered Peterson said more clearly what I intended in only 500 words. (Yeah, I feel exactly how you would expect.)

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How Debt Spurs Economic Growth

By Keith Taxguy / August 9, 2018 / 36 Comments

As mankind evolved they needed a way to store value that wasn’t cumbersome. Sure, trading a cow for supplies seems like a good idea, but what about wages? Do you get a cow or a peck of barley for a good day of labor? Well actually, yes. That is exactly what happened. It held back commerce because you needed an immediate need between two or more parties to have an equitable exchange of value. And God forbid you were really good at mass-producing something. The oversupply of that item would make it worthless.

Even before mankind invented money as a store of wealth, people were able to borrow. Rather than make an equitable trade now, you would promise to provide a good or service later. And you better keep up your end of the bargain. The punishment for reneging on a debt was severe. You could lose a hand, be imprisoned, forced into servitude (slavery) or outright killed. No, in the early days of money and prior, it was best to honor your commitments. The alternative was unthinkable.

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The Minimum Wage and Inflation

By Keith Taxguy / August 6, 2018 / 7 Comments

Economic growth is pushing towards 10 years as of this writing. The 2008-09 recession was deep and slow in recovery. Fewer jobs at lower wages coupled with the long time frame unemployed people had to wait to even get a job at any wage caused tempers to flare. The minimum wage was raised in 2007, 2008 and 2009 to the current federal rate we have today.

Jobs available as the recession eased were not the same quality as jobs lost. More workers were among the working poor, earning minimum wage or close to it. Eventually a vocal crowd demanded a $15 an hour minimum wage. It all sounded good. And fair to workers making less. Business owners also made powerful points. In the end nothing of consequence came of the movement. The expanding economy lifted more wages, nullifying the demands of the activists. Better jobs with higher wages started appearing, too. People used to a higher income had greater opportunity to explore a pay increase at a new employer if the current employer didn’t increase wages.

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