Frugal Living

The Master Archive!

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The Minimum Wage and Inflation

By Keith Taxguy / August 6, 2018 / 10 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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Planning a Spending Fast

By Keith Taxguy / August 2, 2018 / 6 Comments

Like regular fasting, a spending fast has different levels of commitment. The idea is to start small, building your financial muscles before advancing to the next level. As your financial skills increase, you can engage in some truly historical spending fasts. And the good news is you get to keep all the money.

Before we begin I must point out spending fasts are not about frugality or cutting spending. The fast is designed to train you mentally and socially to live a normal life without money as part of every step. Enjoying a walk in the park with a significant other is an awesome and free experience. You can leave the wallet at home. Another lesson to learn is to walk out of a retail store without buying anything (or stealing it) if the item you were looking for wasn’t available. Shopping for the sake of finding a “good deal” is the mother of poverty.

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Easy is the Hardest Thing in the World if You Want to Be Rich

By Keith Taxguy / July 30, 2018 / 7 Comments

Richard Branson outlined in his autobiography, Finding My Virginity: The New Autobiography, 75 times he had close calls in his life. Recently he published number 76 on his blog. It seems strange for such a successful man to have had so many close calls. Branson has several successful businesses and a life most can only dream of. He is living the dream.

From the outside it always seems easier. I hear the same thing from readers. “You make it sound so easy, Keith.” To which I respond, “Then you haven’t been reading close enough.” Life has been anything but easy for me. Most people have difficult lives. It is these difficulties that define us. We either rise to the occasion and grow or wither and die. One path leads to a sense of accomplishment, the other pain and loss.

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How Small Amounts of Money Grow Very Large

By Keith Taxguy / July 23, 2018 / 27 Comments

Periodically I get a message from a reader congratulating me on my financial success in life. The topic also comes up in consulting sessions more than I care to mention. The inquiry is always respectful and congratulatory. These people think I did something extraordinary when in fact it was actually a straight forward and simple process.

Part of my financial success is a direct result of living in my 50s. Time does a lot for net worth. Another huge advantage is I spent my entire adult life (except for those 14 months I played janitor at the church after I got married) self-employed. Business allowed me to control my income and taxes thereon more so than if I have a W-2 job at the local mill.

I’ve shared the story you are about to read many times in my office. By writing it down I hope it is easier to grasp the concept and how you can build a very large nest egg in short order. I get the feeling when I speak this concept it goes in one ear and out the other. I get it. However, this is too important—maybe the most important part of personal finance to reach financial independence—to just let it go as is. Once you grasp today’s message you have all the ammo you’ll ever need to control finances in your life and create a massive liquid net worth.

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Raising FI Children in a Media Insane World

By Keith Taxguy / July 5, 2018 / 6 Comments

Raising kids in the best of times is challenging. Add the modern world of distractions (social media, cable and network television, Netflix, email and cell phones) and it’s a wonder every parent isn’t a prime suspect in the mysterious disappearance of their children.

In a bygone era frugality was a virtue. Spending less than you earned was the norm. Money was borrowed in the rarest of circumstances for large items. Borrowed money was paid back as quickly as possible. This has been replaced by the litany of people writing me whenever I publish posts like this one reminding me they borrow money responsibly. By *responsibly* they mean they run the numbers to see how much they can afford to borrow if nothing ever goes wrong. Then they add a really small margin of safety, just in case. Of course, life intervenes. Their responsible handling of debt leaves them working 40 years and broke at the end. Thank God for Social Security.

Friends pressure friends to ‘live a little!’ Raising your children with the right financial attitudes isn’t enough. School, friends and even family members will constantly chip away at their truly responsible behavior with money.

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Unlimited High Speed Internet You Can Take Anywhere for $10 (or Free)

By Keith Taxguy / June 25, 2018 / 20 Comments

The quest for reliable high-speed internet is a never-ending battle when you live in the backwoods of Wisconsin. The available options did not send their best. Normal wired internet isn’t even an option. Satellite and wireless choices helped me reach a stage of complete baldness early.

In desperate need of quality internet service I turned into a resilient cuss since I had plenty of time on my hands without the internet to distract me. Local wireless internet providers were expensive and spotty. Without other choices the local guys could thumb their nose at me. Bad idea, guys.

Time kept counting until more options materialized. The local library loaned out a wireless internet service that worked pretty good. Unfortunately, a lot of people—even in town—needed fast, reliable internet service that didn’t require a second mortgage. The library solution needed

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The FIRE Community Needs to Make Room for Semi-Retirement

By Keith Taxguy / June 18, 2018 / 11 Comments

The FIRE (financial independence/retire early) community is a growing demographic still trying to find its way. The FI part of the equation is easier to understand than the RE part. The issues revolve around the definition of retirement and what constitutes the appropriate lifestyle once FI is reached.

Some of the wealthiest individuals of the last half century provide an example. When Sam Walton was the richest man alive on the planet he still drove a beat up old pickup truck. He saw no reason to spend money on a new truck when the one he had was comfortable, did the job and gave him pleasure (a bit of a status symbol). In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal, Warren Buffett confessed he has been semi-retired for decades. Charlie Munger, Buffett’s right-hand man at Berkshire-Hathaway, joked Warren is good at doing nothing.

Like Walton, Buffett doesn’t go for the extravagant spending so common among the rich. Buffett’s suit is off the rack and he eats at McDonalds. He also lives in the same home he bought in 1958.

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Teach Children to Follow Their Dreams

By Keith Taxguy / June 4, 2018 / 3 Comments

From a young age I knew exactly wanted to do. Then I changed my mind.

Such is youth. My dad had different plans for me. My childhood was spent on the family farm and it was an awesome life. My dad owned an agricultural repair business and the plan was in place for me to slide right into the company. There was only one problem: I hated the work.

My children are now adults. One is in China while the youngest just graduated high school. My fondest hope was that at least one of the two would be interested in tax and accounting work. No dice.

Forcing your children into a family business is always a bad idea. The kids might love the work and they should then be welcomed with open arms if they do. But most kids don’t want to follow in their parent’s footsteps. Their dreams are different. Most often they follow their parent’s path because they don’t know where else to turn.

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