Showing posts from 2017

The Dust Settles

I am getting things settled. I will spare the details for now, but I think I'll have the last lease signed in 2-3 weeks. That last one is another one that involves government agency approval, henceforth the slow progress, but it's all good.

Let me go back to something I mentioned last post: the scarcity vs. abundance mindset. I know, I KNOW that technically every penny saved is equivalent to 1.33 or so pennies earned in my tax bracket. Yet I cannot seem to pull off all these FI tricks that other bloggers do. I tend to be the luckiest motherfucker I know. I was once described as catching angels as they fall. I also have a doctorate, so I'd like to think I'm not quite as dumb as a box of rocks, yet I can't do it. Therefore, I CALL BULLSHIT.

They're all like, "Shop around for insurance, save $900 per month!!!" Uh, no. I started with car insurance. It didn't work out. See my post about that adventure here. 
One of my personal strengths, however, is m…

The Rent Lady Speaks

In two weeks, I closed on 5 units. I am, as one of my residents put it, "the rent lady" now. Of those five units, two came rented, one (which I will forever lovingly refer to as "my problem child,") I rented surprisingly quickly. Like really. That's been my biggest surprise. Another one has an application pending, there is a government agency involved in terms of housing vouchers, but I expect that one to be (*fingers crossed*) occupied by the first of the month. And of course, the one I thought was the best and would be easiest to rent, it's still open. I've had some interest, not a ton. Except from one drug dealer, but that's a whole 'nother story.

For some reason, every time I hear "rent lady" an image of Madea comes into my head. Maybe that's just because of the tenant who called me that.

I have learned an amazing amount about rentals and business in general in just my 3 weeks of landlording. I have stories to share with you...…

Going Dark

The blog has been quiet for a while. I had some posts planned, but I got distracted. Distracted by real estate.

I realized that one of my main criticisms with the FIRE movement was the so-called "scarcity mindset" of it. It's very much a movement where I feel as though if you walked by an old penny on the ground in a parking lot, the would tell you you're crazy if you don't stop and pick it up because it's tax-free money!!! *eye roll*

I'm very tired of being broke from my 7 years of graduate education and two years of residency. I was feeling pulled more towards an "abundance" mindset. Now I'm not all hippy-dippy-woo-woo, like I don't sit around and meditate on the abundance of the universe or anything, but basically, I want to take some risks and make some money, and keep going to Starbucks. That's me and YMMV.

So yeah, I've gotten real distracted by real estate lately. You must understand that when I get fixated on something, …

Adventures in Car Insurance and Free Associations regarding Side-Gigs

Whew! It's been a while since I've posted. I know all 2 of my readers (both of which are my friends to whom I've happened to mention this domain name) are on the edge of their seats, just waiting for more!

A lot has been going on. Like, a lot a lot. But as I repeatedly state, I ain't got that much time because I work and stuff, so I'm going to limit this post today to a recent adventure in car insurance purchasing that I had recently.

Many other blogs talk about doing things like cutting your cable or re-negotiating your car insurance and how this ONE TIME negotiation for better rates then repeats indefinitely into the future to infinity and beyond! It saves you MILLIONS of dollars over your lifetime, all with just TEN MINUTES of work!!!

Uh, no.

I decided to test this out, so a while ago I started tinkering with the insurance estimate on my car. I found out I could save a few bucks if I dropped some optional coverages and increased my collision deductible from $10…

Social appropriateness and other random free associations

It occurs to me I have a number of socially stigmatizing hobbies. I love to talk about personal finance, cutting up fixed brains, and statistics, woo! For some reason, no one wants to talk to me about these things for the most part. And for the most part, they will also actively tell me they're trying NOT to think about the financial part, especially if they have student loan stress. (The stats and the brains I have a little bit better luck talking about at work, but the finances are a no-go about anywhere.)

Now, I do kind of have friends. But it was interesting because tonight a friend of mine invited me to hang out at an event where people run and drink beer. I jokingly responded that I would have nothing in common with those people because I need to meet people who drink wine and want to chat about poisson distributions. He did not pursue the issue. (I hate running. I'd rather be set on fire. Also GF for about 7 years, so not much for beer either.)

I am a fine wine connoiss…

The POWER of TSP contributions...and a long digression on student loans


It's a Sunday evening and I'm sitting here geeking out. Every time I listen to a finance podcast, I get all motivated to increase my TSP contributions. So, I'm going to document some of the considerations, but at least at this point in my typing, I don't intend to put all the numbers together and make a decision right this second...but hey, you never know.

The Deal-io: When I started working for Uncle Sam, I knew they matched TSP contributions up to 5%. Now the little catch here is that it takes 3 years for 1% of that to vest, but the rest of it is yours right off the bat. (And if you read the fine print of the TSP website, all those non-vested 1% TSP contributions are what keep the investment expenses so low - they apply all that defaulted money towards that. Cool, huh?) Right away, I signed up for the 5% because I'm no fool!

After that, I made sure I had enough to live on. You know, starting a new job and all. I had a budget and thought I knew how things w…

The Great Coffee Fiasco

I sincerely wish I had never started drinking coffee. I basically didn't in college. For some reason, the smell always made me nauseated. I think this was probably because it was always blended with the smell of the cigarettes my family members smoked, which was more than enough to put me off of both. Then, after a few years away from them, in grad school, where it was the thing to do, I picked up the habit.

This has been problematic. Y'all have heard of the latte effect, right? Bloggers all over the world make a big deal out of the price of a cup of coffee, or a HUGE deal out of the price of a frou-frou coffee drink, and the most cited example of financial waste in the entire universe is the cost of buying a cup of coffee from a coffee place rather than making it at home and bringing your own on a daily basis.

Well, I have news for you. My coffee sucks. Theirs is better.

I have no idea why this is. I assume there is some special barista-knowledge that I don't have. I hav…

Feeling the Burn

So it was 2.5 weeks ago now, my dog had a freak accident while hiking. She's fine now, but it took one regular vet visit, then another, then an emergency vet visit, then I think two more follow-up vet visits....and the wound just closed a few days ago. It was not pleasant. Also, a few days ago, I had an arthrogram done. That is basically torture. I think it's illegal to do that shit to prisoners of war. Fuck me. It was so miserable.

All that to say it's been a rough few weeks. Should I be cranky about all that? Probably not, but I've never been that well-adjusted, so I am. Also, I'm pretty sure that arthrogram single-handedly (or needle-ly as the case may be) gave me adrenal fatigue. I haven't been this tired in maybe years. Therefore yes, I am disgruntled.

Now, the worse part of all this is that because of my recent focus on FIRE, I'm doubly upset. All that "a dollar saved works twice for you - what you saved and what you make from investing it!"…

My Dog, the Luxury Item

It's been on my mind quite a bit lately, so I wanted to address the concept of "pet as luxury item."

My dog is not a fucking luxury. You know what's a luxury? You popping a baby out of your cooter. The Earth is over-populated by how many millions of people? And yet somehow, you can justify bringing another being into this world? Fuck you. My dog is an act of charity. I adopted her to help ease her suffering and reduce pet overpopulation through proper spaying and neutering. How many kids have you adopted? How much money have you donated to Planned Parenthood lately to reduce human over-population? I have donated on multiple occasions to the shelter from which I adopted her in her honor, because she is genuinely so awesome that I want to help them to help other people to share the experience I've had.

My dog is also my best friend. As a therapist, I can say quite truthfully that one of the best things I've figured out from my years of experience is that many …

Credit Card Spectacularness - Part 1

In my quest to conquer the little things that won’t take me hours of my time once they’re over and done with (i.e. – fixing your credit card shit may take you a few hours one day, but you may only have to do it again every few years, vs. obsessive-compulsively clipping, cataloging, organizing, doubling and using coupons EVERY FUCKING WEEK FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE – as a healthcare professional, probably not an efficient use of your time) I reviewed the credit cards I have and which ones I can get rid of.

If you have an IQ above 50, you can probably skip this paragraph: Pay your damned credit cards on time. Pay them off every month. If you’re reading this blog, I hope I don’t have to tell you that not paying them on time will cause you to be charged late fees, and that they have truly atrocious interest rates. If you can’t do these things, please go read a blog about credit card debt and how to get out of that. Same principles, but I’m not going to tackle that here.
Let’s outline why…

Increasing my Savings via Itty Bitty Tiny Little Baby Steps - Part 2

Alright, so I did my homework. It turns out that although we were all underwhelmed, .65% right now is pretty sweet. There are some places that will give you all of 1%, but is it worth an extra .35% to do the paperwork to have an account with another bank, get the statements, track that, transfer money back and forth from bank to bank….nah. Personally, I don’t think so. I’m just going to try to keep less in that account so that I’m not losing money to inflation.
That might be a little too “risky” for some people. Let me say first of all, that if I get hit by a bus, I have options. In my case, I do have a long term disability policy (this issue is TBD in another post). That kicks in after 90 days of disability, so if something truly catastrophic happens, I’ve only got to have enough in my cash on hand and credit cards to cover those 90 days. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll get fired, both because I don’t suck and because I’m a government employee, so I’m also not super concerned abo…

Increasing my Savings via Itty Bitty Tiny Little Baby Steps - Part 1

So I was talking to one of the interns today (one of my favorite things to do, BTW, and what may keep me working full-time longer than necessary) and I mentioned my interest in finance and that I might do some blogging. She took the opportunity to chat me up about financial stuff, which was very wise of her. Ah, grasshopper….
Anywho, she mentioned that she and her husband kept a bunch of money in a savings account. I pounced on this opportunity to share Mr. Money Mustache’s concept of all your dollas being little green soldiers, who, while sitting around in a savings account, were basically on an all-expenses-paid-by-you Caribbean vacation. I explained that in most savings-account scenarios you were actually losing money since your piddly .0-whatever % interest wasn’t even keeping up with 2% inflation. I also happened to mention that I had some saved up money in a money market account, and that this at least should keep you from losing money while your soldiers are on R&R leave. …

Why the F*ck are the other Blogs Retrospective?

So here I am, trying to put this blog together…it’s kind of a lot of work. They say that any author should read more than they write, and with all the other FIRE blogs out there, other doctor-y blogs, and the general financial stuff on CNBC and Motley Fool and whatever, reading a lot definitely isn’t a problem. I think I read for about 3 hours today while I waited on them to fix my dog at the emergency vet. Ugh. (I love her and was concerned, but was also concerned about now not being able to max my 2016 IRA contributions because she was costing me $500. Better safe than sorry though. Anywho, my dog is not a luxury (blog post on that will be coming down the pike soon!).

Back to the original point though, a lot of other FIRE blogs are retrospective. Now that I’m trying to do this, I can see why. I guess the first issue there is that if the bloggers/authors/whoever haven’t actually done the FIRE thing successfully themselves, there’s not a lot to separate them from the snake-oil salesm…

Why Try to Set Shit on FIRE?

I think they the interesting question is: Why do I want to be a part of the FIRE movement? My motivations are very different than many of the other bloggers out there, or at least I think so. It’s interesting because some of them seem to want to be nomadic and travel the world. Others want to be able to stay home and spend time with their kids. Still others hate their jobs. I would say that I do not fall into any of those categories. Let me explain.

I do not want to live a nomadic lifestyle. I’m not even that big on traveling. The furthest away I’ve ever gone has been to Hawaii. In order to do that, I had to sit 9+ hours on the airplane each way, each time wedged into a seat like an itty-bitty little sardine, worrying that I was going to get a DVT which was going to turn into a pulmonary embolism, and that I would die before reaching the destination. So to me, travel is not all that appealing. As I’ve gotten older and I’ve made a bit more money and have been able to upgrade to econom…

Why the fuck did I choose to do this in my spare time?

I would say that I’ve always had the natural tendency to be a math nerd, although I didn’t really appreciate it until graduate school. When I was younger, I made it through algebra and geometry and all that, then pre-Calc started to fuck with my mind, and by the time I got to trigonometry in college I just gave up. It wasn’t so much the lack of ability as a lack of motivation or interest. But then I went into psychology, had to take a lot of statistics classes, and I thought those were kind of okay. When I got to grad school, I realized I had an unusual penchant for research, and luckily due to a supervisor seeing great potential in me, I was selected for a research-based postdoc which is where I learned to code syntax and really delved into the Rainman side of my brain. What I mean when I say that is when I get really in the numbers, I can literally feel my left hemisphere turn off. I remember one time after several hours of coding, I went out on a dinner date and had difficulty maki…