Give yourself a 33% raise

Give yourself a raise

Tax day has come and gone.  I hope you squirreled some money away into your tax-deferred accounts.  What’s that? You don’t think deferring taxes will really help your finances?  Let’s turn to the numbers and see what tale they tell.

First, here’s a brief rundown of the tax-deferred accounts that may be available to you:

  • IRA (Individual Retirement Account) – available to everyone but has some income limits. [retirement account]
  • 401(k) – available only through your employer, but many employers offer them in some form. [retirement account]
  • 403(b) – this is the equivalent of a 401(k) if you work for a non-profit organization. [retirement account]
  • 457(b) – this an account that supplements your 401(k) or 403(b), if you have one, and is very similar to them.  Mostly only available if you work for a state or the federal government.  A key difference between 457(b)s and the other two is that independent contractors can participate in 457(b)s while they cannot participate in 401(k)s or 403(b)s. [retirement account]
  • HSA (Health Savings Account) – available only if it comes paired with a high-deductible health insurance plan. [account for covering health-related expenses]
  • 529 – available to everyone.  These are offered by individual states to help defray education costs. [account for paying education costs]

That’s quite a list! And it pretty much covers it unless you are self-employed.  Self-employed people get their own versions of IRAs and 401(k)s, those special little snowflakes.

You may be thinking, “how is that alphabet soup supposed to help me earn more money?”  I’m glad you asked.

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The Dream of the 90’s is Alive in Portland

Shamrock RunThat is, if the dream of the 90’s is running a half-marathon.  That’s right, dear reader, Mrs. Dragon and I ran the Shamrock Run Half Marathon in Portland last month. It was an awesome week long trip to the Pacific Northwest.

One of my best friends lives in Portland and Mrs. Dragon has a good friend who lives in Tacoma, Washington.  So last fall we booked some flights to go out and see them.  It also happened to be my buddy’s 30th birthday, so we decided that we should all run a half-marathon to celebrate.  Right.  Cuz that’s a celebratory activity?

While we were out there, we also drove down and spent two nights at Crater Lake National Park.  It is seriously beautiful there.

The reason I’m writing about the trip on this blog is twofold.  The first is that this trip wasn’t cheap.  Plane tickets, a few nights at the cabin, lots of eating out, the race registration, the list goes on and on.  But that’s OK.  The point of monitoring your spending (at least for us) is to make sure you spend your money on things that make you happy.

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Borrowed Time

The Clock
Out of time

The Clock Man

“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

The clock man asked the child.

“Not one penny,” the answer came,

“For my days are as many as smiles.”


“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

He asked when the child was grown.

“Maybe a dollar or maybe less,

For I’ve plenty of days of my own.”


“How much will you pay for an extra day?”

He asked when the time came to die.

“All of the pearls in all of the seas,

And all of the stars in the sky.”

-Shel Silverstein

My grandfather passed away last week and his passing has made me pretty introspective recently.  Thinking about family, my own mortality, and what is truly important in my life.  Of course, we all know what’s important.  People.

No one cares about their $100k car when they die.  They don’t care about their million dollar home.  They care about seeing their loved ones one last time.

I’ll miss my grandfather.  He was a good man, and I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time around him in my formative years.

The road to financial independence can be characterized by a single question: “If you could forgo some material possessions in your lifetime in exchange for more time with your friends and family would you make that trade?”

I bet if you asked a stranger this question, it’s likely they would respond with an immediate yes.  The issue is that people DON’T think about their spending in this way.  They don’t consider the fact that every dollar in their possession was earned by exchanging time.

Similarly, if you ask a random stranger, “What is more valuable: time or money?” most people over 40 would respond “time.”  But those same people trade their time for money, and they trade their money for trinkets.  There are stories all over the blogosphere about bloggers who are met with incredulity when they tell friends and family about their plan to retire early.

“Why deprive yourself?  You’re young, you’ve got plenty of time to earn money.”

“I could never do that.  I love eating out too much!”

“Yeah, that’d be cool.  But I reaaaally want this new winged chariot!”

I wonder if their responses would change if they thought about those dollars as days of their lives?  After the introspection, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m more dedicated than ever to staying on the path to financial independence.

This may surprise you but sometimes people get confused by information on the internet.  Shocking, I know.  Here’s a big one when it comes to wanting to retire early.  It’s not about money.  It’s about many things to many different people, but rarely is it about wanting to be “rich.”  It’s about time.  It’s about freedom.  It’s about having options and security.

We are all on borrowed time.  I’m trying my best to make good use of mine while I’m here.  And, call me crazy, but I don’t think the best use for my time is working 9-5 for a paycheck every day.

At what age do you think people stop viewing money as more valuable than time?  I put 40 in this post, but I have no idea where the real tipping point is.


Expenses: March 2015

ExpensesExpense report!  Since I’m a total voyeur for finance, these types of details are exactly the kind that I love to read on other people’s blogs.

Don’t get me wrong though, these numbers are primarily written for me and Mrs. Dragon.  Every good FIRE breather knows that to be successful, you have to track your expenses.

You have to track them like Link tracks Zelda.  How else will you know when your Hoard is big enough for you to retire?

We had several one-time expenses that really drove our spending up this month, including closing costs for the house and a trip to Portland, OR, and Tacoma, WA, that I plan on writing a post about soon.

Without further ado, here are the numbers for March (rounded to the nearest dollar):

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