November 4, 2013 | Posted in:How Life Works

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1. Learn the ins and outs of the US tax system.

The tax code may be one of the most boring and complex collections of documents in the history of the world. But — hidden under all of the Washingtonian lawyer jargon is some extremely valuable information. Information that could shave years off of your working career.

Have you ever heard of tax hacking? Traditional to Roth conversions? The fact that if you make less than $19,500 a year you don’t have to pay taxes whatsoever?? A tax-free life sounds pretty First Class to me.

Luckily there are actual human beings out there that have translated the cryptic tax hieroglyphs into human-readable format.

2. Own vs. Rent doesn’t matter. Size and function do.

There are advantages and disadvantages to owning AND renting. Equity vs. Mobility. DIY vs. Landlords. I know wealthy people that love being homeowners and others that have chosen to never settle in one place. Semantics!

What does matter is the size of your dwelling, and it’s intended purpose. Generally, the more space you require, the more it’s going to cost and the more it’s going to cost to insure. The bigger the place, the more you’ll feel inclined to fill it with unnecessary stuff.

Only buy/rent as much as you actually need and feel the added benefit of an increased positive cash flow. For example, we downsized our house which saves us around $16,500 every year.

3. Eat food that’s good AND good for you.

Food that’s actually good for you never tastes good, right? Once upon a time this might have been true, but the Internet tells us otherwise.

Vegan food can be delicious. Carb-free diets can be delicious. Healthy snacks like fruit, nuts and avocados ARE delicious naturally.

There are entire websites dedicated to providing healthy eating tips and recipes for creating amazing, delicious, good-for-your-body food. Feel free to leave other great health food blogs in the comments.

4. Do something about those love handles.

The most exercise that the average person gets on a daily basis is the walk to and from their car. It’s insanity! What are you doing in line for the elevator when it only takes about 2 minutes to climb 20 flights of stairs!? Exercise whenever the opportunity arises.

Make walking, biking, swimming, and general aerobic exercise a staple in your day-to-day life. Got a few minutes? Do some pushups, lunges, sit-ups or planks. Staying physically healthy significantly reduces the chances of medical treatment, ie. reduced health-care costs.

The easiest way to a long, happy, hip-replacement-free life is staying in shape.

5. Challenge yourself. Set goals. Plan.

When I started this site my intention was to be able to retire within a 7 year period, by age 35. As time went on my cash flow has significantly increased, and my plans have been accelerated more than I could have imagined.

What type of voodoo sorcery pushed me toward success? The simple application of goal-setting.

Create a plan for the next year, next 5 years, 10 years, 20 years. Once you write out a finite list of things that you want to accomplish, and make those goals a priority, you’ll find that you’ll become unstoppable.

6. Stop watching, start reading.

At what point in human history did “unwinding” turn into watching TV for 4-5 hours every night?

Call your telecomm company and remove cable from your account. You have better things to do with your time that are going to empower you in ways that the CBS Fall Lineup can’t. Plus, you’ll save about $900/year — so let them charge you a damn cancellation fee — who cares!

Figure out what your passions are, and start reading about them. There are self-help books about everything from sewing to learning how to master your finances.

7. Avoid small thinking AKA excuses and complaints.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talking about the “Government Shutdown”, the “Fiscal Cliff”, “Obamacare”, or countless other Capital Hill talking points. These people have been trained to think that it helps to be informed about the latest crisis-of-the-day in Washington.

They complain about new policies that may or may not be in effect. And they stress out about the “what-ifs”.  They also think that their paychecks are under attack by taxes, but don’t realize that we currently paying the lowest taxes in US history!

Choosing to ignore political chatter will put you on the fast track to a First Class lifestyle. No one likes hearing other people complain. Especially about politics, so why join the conversation in the first place?

8. Mock convenience. The hard road is much more satisfying.

America is the convenience capital of the world. From the fact that almost everyone in the country has the following items: A cell phone, a car, access to clean water and toilets, and at least one convenience store or Wal-Mart within a 5-mile radius.

Why are we so obsessed with convenience? It’s because we’re fuckin’ lazy!

Your mission here is simple: Never step foot inside another convenience store, for any reason, ever. That includes Wal-Mart.

9. Optimize constantly.

No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER have the perfect budget. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for perfection though.

I try to optimize my family’s spending every single month. There’s always at least one category that needs our immediate attention. Anything from eating out to electricity usage to grocery spending is fair game. Not once have I ever had a perfect month, but we continuously try to improve where we lack.

Pare down your spending in all major categories, then focus on the categories that fluctuate the most from month-to-month. They’ll be easy to spot, and when you’re constantly thinking about optimization, your spending in these categories will nearly disappear.

10. Keep job related costs to a minimum.

Here’s the logic: You go to work to get paid, so any money that you spend on/at work reduces your pay by exactly that much. A $10 lunch 5 days a week isn’t just a $50 credit card payment, it’s $50 you had to spend when you were supposed to be EARNING money.

Thankfully, it’s really easy to counter this type of blatant wasteful spending. Here are a few ways to reduce the cost of being employed:

  • Bring your own lunch to work. No seriously, this saves so much money it isn’t even funny.
  • Bring a coffee pot to work and use it. Why tempt yourself into buying coffee on the way to work?
  • Keep a bunch of snacks in a cabinet at work. Peanuts, cans of tuna fish, whatever.
  • Carpool. Ride a bike. Rideshare. Public transportation. Stop driving a 2-ton vehicle to move your less than 300 pound body.

11. Buy used, refurbished, or last year’s model.

A great way to avoid the typical Middle Class lifestyle is to stop allowing advertisers to fill your heads with wants and desires that you don’t actually care about (this is another reason why ditching cable is a great thing).

I buy everything used or refurbished. Last year we were able to score a brand-new-to-us yet refurbished vacuum cleaner from Amazon, and we paid half-price. It works exactly like a brand-new product should.

Everything from furniture to electronics to books can be purchased second hand or refurbished. Why would you ever spend more money on something you could get cheaper? If you’re in the market for “new” stuff try typing in “refurbished” after your search term at Amazon. Or just go to Google and type “yard sales”.

12. Upgrade your cell service by “downgrading”.

For the past 15 years cell phones’ services and capabilities have increased at a logarithmic rate. Which means that newer cell phones really aren’t all that impressive anymore. Even Apple, the frontrunner, hasn’t done very much with its flagship iPhone over the past couple years.

So what happens when consumers are satisfied with the current array of top-tier devices? Anyone!?

This is when the cell phone providers have to do something different to attract customers — ie, drop the month-to-month cost of the standard bill.

Companies like Republic Wireless have taken this model to a whole different level. They’re offering a no-contract top-tier phone with unlimited everything for HALF-PRICE with plans starting at $5 that range up to $40 per month depending on features. While you might be leaving your big name provider, you’ll be able to keep up to $80/month every month by “downgrading”.

13. Embrace frugality.

It’s cool to be frugal these days. Seriously. Try posting the words “I just saved $50 at the grocery store” to Facebook and see how many ‘likes’ you get.

My mom (a Baby Boomer) got a lot of her clothes from Goodwill when she was younger and it was horribly embarrassing for her. Second hand clothes used to be ugly, but now they’re awesome.

And saving money is cool again, so you can show off your “new” threads and brag about the price you bought them for. It’s a best time ever to be a consumer!

14. Collect memories instead of stuff/things/junk.

One easy way to live a First Class life is to shift your value system – from caring about having stuff to caring about having experiences.

Oftentimes, people dream about travelling during retirement. Yet they spend their entire working careers buying more and more stuff. Wasteful spending is the reason why many people have to work into their 70s, and the reason they don’t get to travel while they’re still working.

When you’re on your deathbed, you’ll think about all of the things you DID in your life rather than the things you HAD. A significant reduction in spending can help to pad your “vacation savings” enough to be able to travel at least once per year. Internationally, if you do well enough!

15. Buy for life, not for the moment.

When my wife and I got married we bought a house and some basic tools…at Target. Needless to say, the tools didn’t last more than 6 months. At which point, we were forced to buy replacements.

They sell power drills at Target for $25 and at Home Depot for $100. You can imagine the dilemma. Do I spend less money for something that I know won’t last another 6 months OR do I spend the big money ONCE?

This question needs to be asked whenever you’re about to make ANY purchase. Do you want something kinda shitty for less, or something that’s a little more expensive but could possibly last forever?

16. Keep your car running for 200,000 miles (at least).

Financed vehicles cost as much (if not more) annually than the places we live. Yet, when our vehicles start to “get old” and have “high mileage” we trade them in for a new car payment and more insurance.

Your car is a 2009 with 85k miles on it?? That’s practically BRAND NEW!

Have you ever heard of a Haynes Manual? They teach you how to fix ANYTHING on a car. They make them for every make and model vehicle from Chevy to Ford to Qingpi. They’re like $20 and will pay for themselves a million times over if you can keep your car running for the next decade.

17. Build and maintain relationships that make you happy.

If you asked a million people what they wanted in life the most common answer would be “to be happy”. While happiness can only be achieved by individuals, it’s always nice to have a little bit of help from our friends.

Surrounding yourself with people that have a positive impact on your life and distancing yourself from those that drag you down can be very empowering.

It doesn’t take any money whatsoever to be happy. Achieving happiness is the only thing you need to live a First Class life.

Start your own Kick-Ass blog in less than 10 minutes.

I will help you via email for the first month of your blog’s existence, free of charge. You can bounce ideas off of me, ask me for tips on building up a following on social media, among other things. Whatever you need help with, I’m here for you.

How to create a Kick-Ass Blog in 10 Minutes

43 Comments

  1. Laurie @thefrugalfarmer
    November 5, 2013

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    All great tips, JM, but I love #7, #13 and #9!! Optimizing has been key for us, as has bucking the excuses, and we are feeling super cool now that we’ve embraced frugality. Great post!

  2. Holly@ClubThrifty
    November 5, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    These are great! The only one I might disagree with is this one:

    7. Avoid small thinking AKA excuses and complaints.

    “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard people talking about the ”Government Shutdown”, the “Fiscal Cliff”, “Obamacare”, or countless other Capital Hill talking points.”

    I couldn’t care less about any of those issues except when they have a detrimental effect on my life. In the case of the Affordable Care Act, my insure premiums are going to double (going up $400 per month) and I will still have a $10,000 deductible. I don’t think it’s “small thinking” to be concerned with my health insurance costs doubling. We should all be concerned when our costs double through no fault of our own.

    Optimism is a good thing but turning a blind eye to huge problems is not!

    I really do like #8 as I am trying to avoid going to Walmart if at all possible. That place is not the least bit convenient and I always seem to leave angry for some reason.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      November 5, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      Holly — It isn’t small thinking to be informed. It’s small thinking to obsess over things that we can’t change. Complaining doesn’t solve anything.

      It sucks that your insurance premiums are increasing! But, there’s a chance that as time progresses your premiums could drop. Even though you’ll be paying $800/month now that’s still less than the average Canadian pays. Most people think they’re health care is free.

      http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/nadeem-esmail/canada-free-health-care_b_3733080.html

      • Holly@ClubThrifty
        November 6, 2013

        Leave a Reply

        I actually think that people should complain! Otherwise, what do we all do? Just sit and accept whatever legislation is passed?

        If all citizens adopted that mentality, I shudder at the thought of the world we would live in. Scary stuff, indeed!

        I think it’s easy to dismiss it as complaining if your own premiums aren’t currently being affected.

        I feel fortunate that my current plan ($377 per month) doesn’t expire until December of 2014 for some reason. I’m hopeful that more issues will be worked out by then. After that, we’ll have to pay whatever premium is available which at this point will be $738 per month all the way up to $1300 something per month.

        Oh, and by the way, the cheapest plan on the exchange doesn’t qualify for an HSA for us since the out-of-pocket max is too high ($12,700). If we chose that plan, we won’t be able to pay for our healthcare costs with pre-tax dollars even though the plan has a 10K deductible. To qualify for an HSA, we’ll have to buy one of the more expensive plans.

        These are all things that people should know and care about. And yes, maybe we should complain.

        • Mrs. Moneyseed
          November 6, 2013

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          I think “complaining” is perhaps not the right word? Maybe an actual “call to action” is in order. I’m honestly surprised something along the lines of Occupy Wall Street hasn’t sprung up?

          Complaining is what many of us see our friends/family and acquaintances doing on Facebook and other social media mediums on a daily basis. Is their whining accomplishing anything besides driving us crazy? No, not really.

          I think this is maybe what Johnny meant? Perhaps not. But if you are a well educated citizen who has actually taken the time to figure out how this new legislature is going to affect you (as you clearly are), then I would rather listen to you “complain” than the average citizen simply spouting the talking points word vomit that comes from Fox News, etc.

          It is fortunate that your plan is staying in effect for more than another year; I know many people are not finding themselves with this luxury right now. I think we can all remain hopeful that many of these issues and any new ones that arise are worked out over the next year or so. But, we must also educate ourselves. Too many people rely on what the big news sources WANT you to think instead of going out and hunting down the actual sources of information for themselves. (This “laziness” is where the nonsense complaining comes from.)

          • Holly@ClubThrifty
            November 6, 2013

            I don’t have television so all of the information I find is stuff I’ve read….and you’re right. There is a lot of misinformation and grumbling going around and very, very few facts. I actually saw someone complain about Obamacare yesterday (on Facebook) who I know is on Medicaid because she talks openly about it. My head almost exploded!

            Anyway, I really do think that part of the problem is that real information is difficult to find. For instance, I’m completely perplexed why some of the high deductible plans on the exchange say that they aren’t compatible with health savings accounts. So, I called the healthcare.gov hotline to find out. After escalating my question to two different departments, they still couldn’t get an answer. I have to wait two to five days for someone to call me back!

            I am personally thrilled that my plan won’t expire until a year from now. I really do hope that some things are worked out before then. I also hope that more insurance companies start offering plans on the exchange since only two currently offer coverage in my state.

        • Mr. 1500
          November 9, 2013

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          Health care in America is one huge, massive mess. My health care is becoming drastically more expensive as a result of the ACA as well.

          I have mixed feelings about the ACA too. I keep myself in pretty good shape and don’t smoke. Why should I pay the same rate as a 400 pound guy who smokes 2 packs and watches 8 hours of TV/day? He’ll pay less for his insurance and now I’ll pay more

          I’m trying to see some positives though and I’ve come up with a couple.

          This is high motivation for me to get my ass in super good shape and keep it that way. One can never eliminate all risk, but by eating right and exercising, we can eliminate a whole lot of risk.

          The ACA actually benefits early retirees who have large nest eggs, but minimal incomes. Health care was always one of my concerns going into early retirement. Now, it’s eased a bit.

          • Holly@ClubThrifty
            November 12, 2013

            “Staying healthy” is the only thing I plan to try to do about it, really. I can’t do anything about my premiums doubling but I can (hopefully) avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor! Eating right and exercising is my current healthcare plan =)

        • 2l2r
          November 25, 2013

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          Hi

          What monetary value do you place on the elimination of lifetime caps and pre-existing condition clauses.

      • Susuu
        November 6, 2013

        Leave a Reply

        JM, your source for this information, is not terribly reliable. He writes for the Fraser Institute, a well-known Canadian, right wing think tank. I’d expect no other conclusion from that source.

        I’m old enough to remember private medical insurance coverage. If anything, things have improved. If treatment is medically necessary, it’s usually covered under my provincial plan. My waiting times seem quite reasonable to me. My choice of practitioner is not restricted. Again, medical necessity is the only criterion with which I’m faced.

        Nothing is free. I pay high taxes, but, generally speaking, I get reasonable value for my money. Would I willingly return to the old system of privately-run coverage for basic medical and hospital insurance? Not a chance. By the way, I voluntarily pay for private, supplementary medical insurance coverage ( medical devices, services of paraprofessionals, dental, etc.).

        The various provincial medical insurance plans are far from perfect. However, I don’t think you’ll find many Canadians who’d choose to return to a system similar to that found in the United States.

        • Johnny Moneyseed
          November 6, 2013

          Leave a Reply

          It seems like no matter where I’m trying to pull information from that healthcare costs on a per capita basis are around $3k-$4k per year. That means that married couple would be paying around $6k-$8k alone, in Canada.

          Can you find any source that goes against this information? I don’t want to support anything that is overly conservative or liberal. I don’t really care about the politics involved. I do care about the numbers though.

          • Holly@ClubThrifty
            November 6, 2013

            So, $8,000 for a couple? Do they have to pay a deductible on top of that?

            The new plan available to us under the ACA will cost $738 per month, or $8,856 per year. On top of that, we will have a $10,000 deductible. After the deductible, the plan only covers 60% of costs until the out-of-pocket max of $12,700 is reached. And as I stated above, that plan doesn’t qualify for an HSA so we would have to pay all of our expenses with after-tax dollars. If we met our deductible and max out-of-pocket, that would mean we spent $21,556 on healthcare in one year alone! And that is what families making $94,000 or more per year are facing since that is where the subsidies drop off.

            This is in no way comparable to the healthcare that Canadians enjoy.

          • Holly@ClubThrifty
            November 6, 2013

            And I totally agree with Johnny about politics. I hate politics! Just care about numbers. And in this case, the numbers SUCK.

          • Susuu
            November 6, 2013

            JM, I’m afraid I can’t provide you with any tax information. However, your source in the Fraser Institute didn’t cite any factual information, either. Where did you get your tax information?

            As I admitted, taxes in my province (Ontario) are high. However, I have no idea how you’re able to break down the amount that is used to provide OHIP coverage. Perhaps an economist can figure it out. I can’t. Nonetheless, I’d be extremely reluctant to go back several decades to our privately run system.

            I’m not trying to suggest that some version of one of the Canadian systems would be good for the US. Americans will decide for themselves. I’m just trying to point out that your source of information about the Canada Health Act (the basic legislation governing each province’s insurance plan) is suspect. He has an axe to grind. I’m simply giving you my opinion of what we’ve now got.

            As I conceded in my last message, there are plenty of changes that could be made to improve our system. I just wouldn’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. Right now, if I need to see a doctor, I make an appointment, show the receptionist my OHIP card, and see the doctor. The same applies to hospitals. No deductibles or co-pays. Medical necessity is the only factor considered.

            I’m sure that waste, fraud and abuse are, to some degree, part of the system. Regardless, the system works pretty well for me, and I’d not want to trash it. Improve it, yes, but dump it for a return to private coverage, not a chance.

  3. Retire Before Dad
    November 5, 2013

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    Johnny,

    Great list of reminders, and great new look on the website. How did the transition go?

    -RBD

  4. Robb
    November 5, 2013

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    Great post. My household has finally been coming around on #15, being willing to spend some real money on those few things where quality actually makes a difference. After so many years of honing our frugality, it can be a rough transition! lol

    • Brad
      November 15, 2013

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      #15 I prefer to buy moderate quality tools at bargain prices down at the local pawn shop, just check in once a week. If you buy the basics as they come available you can stock a toolchest for almost nothing. I have bought ratchet / end wrench set for $18, screwdriver set <$5, drill set <$3 etc, got a cordless skill saw set ($425 on Amazon) for $75 and only had to replace the battery new for $45.

      They have a 30 day return policy so I check the prices online after I get home to see if I got ripped off, so far I have never been disappointed in the price paid.

      Then anything that I use enough to wear out I buy a higher quality version of, like the reciprocating saw, would run the battery out after about 5 cuts so I got a brand new corded Dewalt that cuts everything, eeeverything.

      • Johnny Moneyseed
        November 15, 2013

        Leave a Reply

        Brad — That’s a pretty solid way of doing business. You’re saving a ton of money, buying all of the things you need (or know that you’ll need) and avoiding the possibility of getting ripped off. Genius.

        Another good way to obtain good tools is to rent them. There are people out there that go out and buy a chainsaw because they want to take down a branch or two. Instead, you can pay $20 (instead of hundreds) and return the thing after a day. Plus when you do this you don’t have to store anything.

  5. Brian
    November 5, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    If you have no children and a decent job, there really is no reason you cannot travel abroad once a year. Like most things in life it is about priorities.

    I think the biggest one for me to add is “Slow down.’ Just taking time to stop and smell the roses or just look around can improve your life a lot.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      November 6, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      You’re definitely right about that Brian. Even with kids you can travel abroad once a year as long as you’re hitting all of the other necessary wickets (retirement, saving, as well as living a happy day-to-day life).

      It may be kind of expensive, but there’s always travel hacking as well…

  6. Kurt @ Money Counselor
    November 5, 2013

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    Since you invited: my favorite nutrition site is http://nutritionfacts.org.

  7. This Life On Purpose
    November 5, 2013

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    Excellent post! I will be sharing this one with a certain few :)

  8. Eric
    November 5, 2013

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    Expanding on number 16 a bit: I had the manuals for my last car, but they didn’t really go into the HOW as much as I needed. There were a lot of diagrams, exploded views and part numbers. But I couldn’t find how to get my cruise control working again (one of many examples). I’ve had a lot of luck just searching for the problem on YouTube and finding a video for it. Also, probably the best automotive item I ever bought was a OBD2 reader. A bit overpriced at $130, but it told me why the CHECK ENGINE light was coming on and over the years has saved me way more money in stress and shop visits than the $130 for the reader. If you’re planning on running your car past 150k, you should definitely consider one.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      November 6, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      That would be a convenient thing to have, but Autozone will read your engine codes for free without having to purchase anything.

      I should have added Youtube to the list of how to fix your car! Haynes aren’t perfect, but they’re about as good as you can get without having actual experience as a mechanic.

      • Warren D
        November 22, 2013

        Leave a Reply

        I have 2 cars 2003 and a 2005, both are paid for and unfortunately both transmissions failed on them within 2 months of each other.
        I checked around to see what the costs would be to get transmissions replaced $2600 lowest place for the 2003 and $3200 for the 2005 parts only labor doubled it.

        I’m not a trained mechanic and biggest job I ever did was changing an alternator, but youtube (soem of the best on youtube eric the car guy/ real fixes real fast/ and scotty kilmer), car forums for your car brand, paying for the actual service manual of your car used off ebay, car-part.com (used parts out of wrecked/totaled vehicles) partsgeek.com (for new parts when you can’t use used) is awesome, and for the times you need to buy the actual manufacture part look up and see if there is a dealer in your area or out of town with internet rates you can save 30% usually, and soemtimes even source the part from partsgeek.com or wherever if you do a little research and save 50%. Or the little secret that if you drive a lexus, acura, or infiniti look at toyota, honda, and nissan parts they usually cross match. last and not least pick a part places they can be a life saver.

        So I ended up getting the parts from a wrecked out 2005 for 900 dollars 150 for shipping and changed it from a automatic to a manual transmission spent an additional 800 to recondition the front end to like new and saved over 8000 to 8500 in labor and parts cost for just the 2005

        I found the company that reconditions the transmissions here on the west coast and got it with a warranty 5 years or 500K miles for $1325 shipped same part that would have come from the dealer at $4000 and a 2yr/36K warranty. I also reconditioned the front end for about $800

        I did all the work myself and now I have 2 basically new cars. I know my situation is extreme, but my 11 yr old daughter and 6 yr old son learned a ton spent great time together and I hope they learned not only that you can fix your car but to take the chance, because I figured if I fucked it up the worst that was going to happen is I need to go shopping for new/used cars.

        Hope this inspires someone to do their own brakes, or change an alternator.

        • Johnny Moneyseed
          November 22, 2013

          Leave a Reply

          Warren — If no one else, I’m inspired.

          Thanks for this comment, it’s super helpful.

          LOOK EVERYBODY, A SUPER HELPFUL COMMENT!

  9. Micro
    November 5, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    I really like #4 and #11. I will almost always try to take the stairs if I can and if I have to drive to a store I park further away from the store. I get a longer walk in and I don’t have cars around me when I need to leave, it’s a win win. Also a huge fan of refurbished items because they come with the same manufacturer warranty that brandy new items have. So there is absolutely no risk for the reduced price electronic.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      November 6, 2013

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      Just as long as you aren’t paying extra for a warranty then that is definitely an added bonus. Paid warranties kind of fall into that whole ‘self-insurance’ category: Just save your own money, because you know your stuff could break.

  10. Sky
    November 5, 2013

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    You make some really awesome points, especially regarding buying things for the long term and putting memories before stuff. I agree completely and that’s definitely something I’m working on right now.

  11. Jeremy @ Go Curry Cracker!
    November 6, 2013

    Leave a Reply

    Hi Johnny

    Great list! Thanks for sharing it

    Expanding on #1, you can get nearly $20k in ordinary income AND ~$70k in dividend income and long term capital gains and still pay no taxes. It’s nice to get your income from dividends and LT gains

    I might add #18 to the list, “Be comfortable with taking risks” (or my personal motto, Safety Third.) There is no such thing as a guarantee in life, and aiming for one in the early retirement game could have one working many years too many

    All the best

    Jeremy

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      November 6, 2013

      Leave a Reply

      That’s really good to know. Especially being a future early retiree. More or less, you can make $90k a year between wage earnings and dividend income and still not pay taxes. Mind blowing.

      I wish I had known about IRA conversions when I first started investing. I’ll probably max out Traditionals up until retirement, then start the conversions once my income levels out.

      I think that sounds like a great #18. There were a few others I could have added as well. Like pretty much anything about investing. Buying freedom. Etc.

  12. Justin @ RootofGood
    November 6, 2013

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    I think there are 16 solid suggestions and one kind of weird suggestion. #8 – mock convenience – never shop at walmart?

    Where else can you buy motor oil, windshield wipers, a gallon of milk, a toilet seat, paint rollers, a head of lettuce, new socks, and a frying pan? Dude that place is awesome! Just budget an extra 30 minutes to wait in the ridiculous lines at checkout. I mean I freakin hate walmart but it’s way better than visiting 5 different stores.

    Otherwise, this list is on fire! Save on taxes, optimize constantly, done whine about stupid stuff, embrace thrift, don’t waste money on job-related costs, and maintain your car and drive it into the ground at 200k+ miles. That, sir, is why you are going to retire early.

    • Johnny Moneyseed
      November 6, 2013

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      I was really hoping that you were joking about Walmart! I don’t need there to be an electronics department (among other ridiculous things) in my grocery store. I honestly have no reason to ever step foot in a Walmart.

      You even reinforced my logic when you said: “I mean I freakin hate walmart”. Why would you ever step foot in a place that you hated? I think this is a case of Morals vs. Convenience. For me Morals will always win the battle when I’m shopping.

      • Justin @ RootofGood
        November 6, 2013

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        Driving around town to five different stores to finish the days errands vs. suffering through one mildly unpleasant experience? I’ll take the single mildly unpleasant experience. Odds are I can’t escape an unpleasant experience at one of the other stores, or at a minimum on the road to get to one of those stores. And replace “convenience” with “optimize” and you’ll see why I prefer walmart over five different stores.

        My optimization routine says “minimize unpleasantness”. Shopping is just generally unpleasant (to me at least). Might as well knock it out in an hour or two and do something way more awesome with the rest of the day, right?

        I don’t really need an electronics department in my walmart either. That’s what amazon and ebay are for. :)

        • Johnny Moneyseed
          November 6, 2013

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          I really like grocery shopping, so I happily shop away from the fish tanks, the clothing departments, and bicycles. I can see how most people would think how unpleasant it is. But the fact that we get so much stuff for so little money excites me every time we do it (which is weekly).

          We hardly ever shop for anything else. Yeah sometimes you need dog food, or oil, or gifts. But how often do you really need to shop ANYWHERE that isn’t the grocery store? That’s why Walmart doesn’t make sense for me/us.

          General shopping is an awful experience. That’s why I tend to not want to go anywhere where people think it’s okay to wear wife beaters and sweatpants in public.

          • Justin @ RootofGood
            November 6, 2013

            Sorry about the wife beater and sweat pants. Just trying to hide my millionaire status.

            I actually need to shop at places that aren’t the grocery store about once a month. Seems like we need something once a month from one or more of the following sections: hardware, auto, clothes, or yard care.

            In addition, consumables like toiletries, personal hygiene, and paper products are often significantly cheaper at walmart than the grocery store. Soap, mouthwash, shampoo, floss, and toilet paper, for example. With a family of 5, this stuff adds up.

            As a side benefit, the people watching partially offsets the unbearable waiting in line. In fact, it provides entertainment WHILE waiting in line.

  13. Tom White
    November 7, 2013

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    Try this website for a good “eating plan” – http://www.nosdiet.com

  14. Broke Millennial
    November 7, 2013

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    Thanks for linking! I am going to refute stop watching and start reading. There are educational things you can watch too, including finance shows! Plus, there are so many truly terrible books out there (50 Shades of Grey anyone?) they are the same as watching the boob-tube.

    • Erin @ Red Debted Stepchild
      November 7, 2013

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      Team TV! I love reading too, but I will never stop loving TV :). Erin, please tell me you’ve never read 50 Shades of Grey? I’d have to consider disowning you.

  15. Lisa E. @ Lisa Vs. The Loans
    November 11, 2013

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    Holy crap – this post is insanely helpful!

    I am a huge advocate for writing down goals. It not only keeps your mind motivated, it also increases your chances of actually achieving those goals!

  16. Dear Debt
    November 12, 2013

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    Great post! The only shows I watch are Anthony Bourdain shows which I find really illuminating and inspiring! I try to stick to most of these and hope to continue to have a better life as the years go on.

  17. Stefanie @ The Broke and Beautiful Life
    November 15, 2013

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    These are great. Eating well and exercising extend so far beyond immediate health benefits just as developing meaningful relationships extend so far beyond companionship. All of these things build a well rounded life- financially and otherwise.

  18. Syed
    March 27, 2014

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    Great list. Will definitely be paring down the cable later this month. Bookmarking this post!

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