It’s Halloween and the Dow is at a breathtaking 23,377 roughly 100 points off of the all-time high reached earlier this month. Yes, I’m a little spooked at these heights and so are some of my friends I’ve been talking to recently. None of us participating these conversations are stock brokers or financial advisers; just motley fools that can’t believe our good fortune and trying not to screw it up. We’ve read FIRE blogs, watched CNBC, and heard the low cost index and diversify advice so many times prior; but we still get acrophobia. And why wouldn’t we? My crew is filled with cynical forty-something Gen Xers who experienced the euphoria of dot com fever in our 20’s , purchased homes with little or no skin in the game in our 30’s, and watch it crash and burn. . . twice. We don’t need investment advice; we need group therapy. Continue reading “The Stock Market Is High, Don’t Get Spooked!”
Mrs. R and I have recently become big fans of financial independence and early retirement blogs and podcasts. We’ve been so busy living our frugal lives that we didn’t notice there are a bunch of people online talking about how they are doing the same. We were also unaware that the way we have chosen to live our lives had been given the cool sounding acronym F.I.R.E. Some of our friends occasionally comment about us being good with money or call us frugal, but we don’t have in-depth conversations like the ones we see and hear on-line. Maybe we’ve misread our friends and they were trying to open up a conversation about money, but overall it has been our experience that most people where we live aren’t comfortable talking about personal finances. Also, as I’ve stated before we are pretty guarded about letting people know the full extent of our financial affairs. So retiring early definitely is outside the norm for our local peer group, but not retiring early also feels outside the norm for our online peer group. Which has recently led me to ask myself, “why am I still working as someone else’s employee?”.Continue reading “Why I Am Not Retiring Early”
It is possible these days to stay perpetually distracted, which may be why some people talk about the need to “be present”. I like this idea of being present and focusing on my wife and kids when we are together. It’s unfortunate how easy it is for me to get distracted with trivial things and not give the people I love my full attention. Another area where some of us are lacking presence is in our personal finances. Even after consuming financial advice books, seminars, and radio programs some people continue to live in a financial illusion. So a different perspective might be helpful, and Mesa Verde seems like a good place to start. Much of my youth was spent in the Southwestern United States and I was fascinated by the history of the Anasazi people, also called the Ancestral Puebloans. They lived in the area now known as the four corners region of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona. Mesa Verde in Southwestern Colorado was home to a large number of Ancestral Puebloans for approximately 700 years, from about AD 600 to 1300. According to the National Parks Service, “sometime during the late 1190s, after primarily living on the mesa top for 600 years, many Ancestral Pueblo people began living in pueblos they built beneath the overhanging cliffs. The structures ranged in size from one-room storage units to villages of more than 150 rooms. While still farming the mesa tops, they continued to reside in the alcoves, repairing, remodeling, and constructing new rooms for nearly a century. By the late 1270s, the population began migrating south into present-day New Mexico and Arizona. By 1300, the Ancestral Puebloan occupation of Mesa Verde ended”.
Unfortunately I never had the opportunity to visit Mesa Verde when I was a kid, but Mrs. R and I took our children to see it once. It’s a rare treasure that in my mind rivals the pyramids of Egypt, and far too many Americans take it for granted. Seeing the structures built into the side of the cliffs by these ancient people is an amazing spectacle. If you allow yourself to imagine the men, women, boys, and girls who once lived there, your mind will start to be Continue reading “FI On A Green Table”
When I was a kid I loved watching the show Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous. The host, Robin Leach, took viewers on open house tours of some of the world’s wealthiest estates. It was fun to gawk at and then talk about the elegantly decorated mansions with guest houses larger than most American’s homes, and garages full of luxury sports cars. At the end of each show Robin would say his signature catchphrase, “champagne wishes and caviar dreams” while enjoying someone else’s yacht, swimming pool, or Learjet and then send viewers back to their average and anonymous reality. The show highlighted a very small percentage of society and a lifestyle that very few people will ever know. It was successful in part because it highlighted beautiful places and luxury products, but more than anything it played on people’s emotional fantasies of living in stress free self indulgent luxury and the narcissistic desire to be special. The reality is that the television show was primarily an advertising vehicle for the travel industry, similar to the currently popular The Bachelor television franchise. Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous highlighted beautiful travel destinations around the world and created the illusion that being rich and famous is like being on a permanent vacation. The show was an early form of reality television that presented an overproduced faux version of real life.
“champagne wishes and caviar dreams”
I think most people don’t actually want to be famous, but most want to feel significant and accepted. Some people choose to live an inflated lifestyle by spending money on things that visually communicate to others and give the impression that they are a person who possesses wealth and status. Even though many people can’t afford to buy designer, luxury, and lifestyle brands they will because they want to enjoy nice things, but also to be seen by their peers as having achieved a level of success and status. There are people in every community who actually have some wealth and they live a life that lets everybody around them know that they have money. Typically these people are not on the same level as what was featured on Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous, but their wealth appears to be greater than the majority of people living around them. The reality is that some of these people are also living an inflated lifestyle built on credit that is at risk of being upended. However, even truly wealthy people who don’t have debt issues can fall into the envy trap. Continue reading “Lifestyles of the Rich and Incognito”