What Would You Do For a 10% Raise? (Plus a half dozen other “Would You Rathers!”)

What Would You Do For a 10% Raise? (Plus a half dozen other “Would You Rathers!”)

pug in blanket

Came across this ridiculous study by LendEDU but can’t stop looking at it, haha…

They asked 1,200 employed Americans a series of “would you rather” questions to see what they’d give up in exchange for a 10% raise, and their answers were as crazy as they were entertaining 😉

Here are some of the results – would you do any of these??


40.06% would give up dental care for a 10% raise

(No. F’ing. Way.)

12.2% would breakup with their partner or significant other

For just 10%?? You might as well break up with them now if that’s all their worth, haha….

53.55% would give up all social media for 5 years in order to get a 10% raise

I do like this one a lot 🙂 And just shows yet again how much we actually don’t gain from social media despite our hours of addiction to it!!

18.9% would give up access to health insurance for the next five years

Nope nope nope… you’d blow through that 10% in the first year when you break your leg!

55.9% would work an extra 10 hours per week for life

Why not just get a second job??? Where you’d make more than 10% and have your own freedom to change it forever?? This one just doesn’t make sense…

9.13% would give up their child’s or future child’s right to vote in all elections for life

Come on!!

50.65% would give up watching movies for the next three years

I would do that 🙂

88.61% would give up watching Game of Thrones for life

Yes. Easy! Aren’t we on the last season or so?

73.42% would give up all alcoholic beverages for the next five years

Now THIS one is good… I know I could do it for at least one year – but five?? That is a lot, haha…. I’m sure the extra savings on top of the 10% income boost would help keep you motivated though!

5.33% would eat a single tide pod 🙂

And possibly kill yourself??

50.4% would work one day every weekend for the next year

Again – same thing as side hustling or taking on an extra job – you don’t need to wait for the Would You Rather fairy to grant you that! Just go out and make it happen!


And that last part there is the key 😉 You don’t have to give up anything or do something crazy to earn an extra 10% – most of us have the power within ourselves to accomplish this! You just gotta want it enough!

  • You can take on an extra hustle
  • Be a bad ass and EARN that raise yourself
  • Cut back on your expenses so you don’t need an extra 10%
  • Pay off your debts to free up 10% of interest
  • Or any combination of the above

But of course that doesn’t make for a salacious study, so… 😉

Since we’re on the topic of Would You Rathers though, why don’t we dig up some of our own posed here over the years? We’ve done dozens of them!

Here are some of my favorites:

I can play this game allllll day long, ladies and gentleman…

Share your answers below and we’ll continue gawking! 😉

[Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash]


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/what-would-you-do-for-a-10-raise/

If You Want FREE Money Coaching – Read This Post :)

If You Want FREE Money Coaching – Read This Post 🙂

this is the sign you're looking for

We interrupt our regularly schedule programming to bring you two pieces of news today:

  1. In case you didn’t know, it’s Financial Literacy Month! Be sure to tell all your friends so they know how cool you are!! 😉 (And so they finally get your hints to start paying attention to their money – hah)
  2. Capital One is offering FREE money coaching services!! TO ANYONE WHO WANTS IT – NOT JUST CAPITAL ONE CUSTOMERS! (Whaaaaaaaat?)

Yup  – as a partner of theirs I just learned of this, and wanted to make sure you were aware of it as I’m a HUGE proponent of money coaching having been one myself and seeing just how much it can help people. Sometimes you just need a little accountability and to make sure you’re headed in the right direction! Which $$$ coaches are perfect for!

(And which doesn’t require having gobs of money to invest either, something financial advisors are notorious for only caring about… Money coaches will help you whether you have $0.00 or $1,000,000 laying around, but set you up so you *can* invest later in the future whenever you’re able/ready to!)

What’s better – these sessions by Cap One are shaped around your *life* and *goals* vs the money itself, since that’s going to be the driving force behind your success anyways. The “why” as they say!

If you don’t know what you TRULY want to get out of life, ain’t no money planning going to help you as you need that set of values and priorities down right. And this money coaching they offer is set up to guide you in exactly this manner.

Here’s what they cover:

  • Session 1: “Get Clarity” — You’ll explore what matters to you, and where you want to go with your life and money.
  • Session 2: “Remove Roadblocks” — You’ll uncover what’s weighing you down and keeping you from making changes.
  • Session 3: “Make a Plan” — You’ll create a plan with your coach so you can do more to reach your goals.

So yeah – if that sounds like something you need in your life right now, you can learn more here, or check out their list of Ccafés which offer these free coaching sessions here.


I also caught a bunch of stats from their “2018 Financial Freedom Survey” which you also might find interesting…

Nothing TOO crazy in them, but if you find yourself in the majority of the win section here, it’s something to feel pretty proud about for sure 🙂 Be thankful you’ve come this far!

  • “Nearly half of non-retired Americans are still struggling to save money for the future and don’t think they earn enough to save sufficiently for retirement – same as in 2015.”

(This is why it’s sooooo good to get started EARLY on this mission!! Get use to diverting some money early on before you miss any of it, and then gradually increase it as you go and get raises/bonuses/promotions/etc. Lifestyle inflation is the devil!)

  • “While most (69%) non-retired Americans are saving some amount for retirement, just 15% are saving more than 15% of their income for retirement.”

(Better than 0% though! Or 10% – which is the industry “standard” for some reason? It, of course, depends on what stage you are in all this, but the faster you can bump those numbers up, the better chance you have at living that ideal lifestyle of yours and hopefully being able to retire at a decent age… or at least work on the stuff that really matters to you and not have to worry or think about $$ as much! Which is the ultimate goal of financial management – dealing with money now so you don’t have to deal with it later! :))

  • “Only one-fifth of women (22%) say they are very confident they’re sufficiently saving (compared to 39% of men).”

(I don’t know enough to guess why women and men are so different [and not going to dare guess, haha…] but if you’re a woman here reading this, please chime in below and we’ll discuss :))

  • “63% are willing to give up meals at restaurants and 61%, big ticket items. Millennials and Gen X are most willing to give up these luxuries.”

(Good!!! That’s what you’re going to have to do if you want to build up that $$$ faster! Unless of course it’s your #1 or #2 priority – which is fine – but only if you’re cutting back on all the stuff that *isn’t* in that case. I don’t care if you blow all your money on stuffed animals or marbles – just make sure it’s going towards something that makes you happy and not stuff that doesn’t!)

  • “If Americans had access to an extra $1,000, more than half (52%) would save it or use it to pay down debt; only 10% would use it to buy something special.”

(Gotta love it 🙂 It’s not 70% or 80%, but hey – baby steps! Although what people *say* they’d do and what they’d *actually* do are usually quite different, haha… It’s much harder to not spend all that cash when it’s smack in your lap than when some magical genie pops up and asks you about it ;))

So basically…

  • Pay attention to your money now vs later for the best shot of success!
  • Align your life with your goals/values, while keeping the Big Picture in mind – since that’s really what you’re after in the end, not the dollars and cents!
  • Remember to be proud of how far you’ve come over the years, even if it’s not as far as others. (And spoiler alert – you usually never know how *well* everyone else is doing anyways – they’re good at putting on a show!)
  • And lastly, if you can benefit from some good ol’ fashion accountability, make sure to take advantage of Capital One’s free money coaching sessions hosted at a number of their Cafés! It’s going to be an ongoing thing, and all you have to do to grab them is make an appointment.

See ya back tomorrow for another riveting post! We’re going to cover some fun “Would You Rathers” and see how far you’re willing to go for your finances 😉

#FinancialLiteracyMonth has never looked so cool!

internet high five

PS: For other Cap One tools you might find helpful, see below:

  • 360 Savings Account: Fee-free, and comes with the ability to open *multiple* accounts so you can have a ton of savings buckets going on for all your goals! (Emergency fund, house fund, vacation, Xmas, etc). You can see a review of them we did over at Rockstar Finance here, and then here’s a post we featured on why having *more than one* savings account can be better for your finances.
  • 360 Money Market Account: Fee-free online savings account offering a high-interest rate (currently 1.5% for $10Gs+).
  • Capital One Cafés: Something I can’t wait to come to the DC area!! I want to work out of one so bad! –> “Our Cafés are inviting spaces where you can go to bank, get answers to your financial questions, recharge your devices, or simply connect with people. All with a handcrafted Peet’s® beverage and local pastry in hand.”

PPS: This post was sponsored by Capital One… in case it wasn’t super evident by now 🙂 I use them for all my biz banking accounts and have been pretty solid for me over the years.

[Top photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash]


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/capital-one-offers-free-money-coaching-sessions/

Do You Know Your Insurability?

Do You Know Your Insurability?

yellow vw bus at beach

If you’re currently on the hunt for car insurance, and/or love all things relating to car insurance (and who doesn’t, am I right??), I got something for you that might help 🙂

(If you’re not in the car mood today, avert your eyes now and check out this fun little ditty instead! –> “Smart“, by Shel Silverstein.)

I just partnered up with a new (to me) company trying to make the whole insurance searching and “locking in” part easier for people, and me thinks you might find it helpful as well.

the zebra logo

They’re called The Zebra (where you can find insurance “in black & white” – zing!), and they’re pretty much a *search engine* for car insurance.

You fill out some data, hit submit, and then it’ll load up a bunch of companies it thinks will be your best options which you can click through and go on your way. And since they’re independently run and not associated with any insurance companies, they’re free to be nice and transparent.

But what I REALLY LIKE that they offer, mainly just because I love taking polls/quizzes/games and seeing how good I’m doing, haha, is their Insurability Score™ tool. Which analyzes a bunch of data you enter, and then spits out how “insurable” you are to companies. As well as how to improve your standing if you happen to not score as high as you’d like 🙂

Here’s a clip off their site:

“Car insurance companies use more than 43,500 factors to calculate your risk and determine your rates – but they don’t tell you how they do it. The Zebra formulates a number from 400 to 950 which represents your individual level of risk and the financial vulnerability you create for insurance companies – your Insurability.”

I just took the quiz right now (of course), and here’s what it pumped out for me:

insurability score

Beautiful! Haven’t changed or looked for different insurance in approximately 20 years (USAA for life, baby!), but it was fun to see where I fell in case the apocalypse ever hits 😉

What was really cool though, was that they show you *how your rates change* with every question you answer as you’re filling it out so you can see how they all play a part. The goods, the bads, and the so-so’s.

I missed it the first time I took the questionnaire (it’s in the upper right hand corner of the site), but I started over and retook it again, just so I can take notes and give y’all the play-by-play 😉

Here’s how it went down, with the starting point being $141/mo for the “Minimum” plan which the below changes are based off… I also included my answers in the first set of parentheses, along with the changed rate as I went along in the second set of parentheses so you can see how it affects one another.

Here we go!

  • How much do you drive yearly? (< 7,500 miles) — dropped by $7.00 ($134.00)
  • Where do you live? (added address) — increased by $11.00 ($145.00)
  • When were you born? (added bday) — dropped by $14.00 ($131.00)
  • Married? (yes)– dropped by $9 ($122.00)
  • Credit score? (excellent) — dropped by $41!! ($81.00)
  • Level of education? (bachelor’s degree) — dropped by $3 ($78.00)
  • Own or rent home? (rent) — $0.00 difference (fascinating! thought it would lower it?)
  • How long have you been insured? (chose longest period) — dropped by $13 ($65.00)

Then there was a speed round, along with a bunch of check boxes you can check which made it hard to follow/determine all the price changes – but here were a handful more questions I answered:

  • Any accidents, tickets, or claims in the past 3 years? (nope)
  • Moved in past 2 months? (yup!)
  • Currently employed full-time? (yup… at least full-time income :))
  • Active duty military or veteran? (nope)
  • Do you pay in full at the start of your policies? (nope – but I know it saves you $$$ when you do!)
  • Do you set up auto-pay from bank account? (yes – also usually saves you money)
  • Do you go paper-less? (yes)

After all was calculated the final rate it spit out was $98/mo, down $43.00 from the original $141.00 we started at. Not nearly as good as my USAA rate of $63.56/mo!, but it’s pretty hard to compete with them and one of the reasons I’ll never stray 🙂 (Though within minutes after completing the form I did get an email which I suspect was not a coincidence from Geico offering me $63.43/mo — beating them by a whole 13 pennies! Haha…. Good try, Geico!)

Then when you’re finished filling out the tool, it passes you your Insurability Score™ along with a more detailed *report* that goes along with it.

Here’s what mine looked like:

zebra insurability score report

(I probably should have lied on some of them so you can see how it recommends changes, but I really wanted to see my score, haha… You can check out their main Insurability page though to see examples of other reports :))

Oh, and then here’s an example of what the “search engine” dashboard looks like too if you want to see what that looks like (I got consumed by the insurability stuff!):

zebra search engine dashboard

They also have resource pages on all the major insurance carriers out there if you want to compare, which could give you another way to help make your decision easier. Just for fun, here’s one of the pages I randomly selected 😉 –> USAA vs Gieco.

**Look interesting? Check out your Insurability Score here**

Lastly, here’s a fun “myths” page that threw me for a loop because I got a third of them wrong!! 🙂

Which of these do you think are true, and which do you think are false?

  • You can negotiate your insurance rates
  • Your abilities/disabilities (i.e. vision, mobility) affect your quoted rate
  • The color of your car impacts your insurance rate
  • Parking tickets affect your insurance rates
  • You have to wait until your policy term ends to switch insurance companies?

Here’s the answer key: they’re all FALSE 🙂

Crazy, right?? I got the parking tickets one and the color of the car totally wrong – which I could have SWORN affected your rates!! I literally would have put money on it. And I now blame my dad for all those times he denied me red cars just because of insurance, haha… YOU WERE WRONG, POPS!!

At any rate – there you have it.

  • If you’re looking for help finding new car insurance, give The Zebra a try: TheZebra.com
  • If you’re bored or just want to see if you can beat my Insurability Score, you can take their quiz here and then rub it in my face 😉 — thezebra.com/insurability-score

A quick warning that there *is* a bunch of data you have to fill out though, as well as providing your email address (which I told them to change so more people would test it out!), but outside of that it’s a pretty neat thing to see. Especially as most insurance companies tend to keep us in the dark about this stuff.

So yeah – car insurance! Something you hate to pay for, until the day you don’t! 😉

Whether you check Zebra out or not though, let us know how much you’re currently paying for car insurance, as well as who you use and why! Just fill out this sentence here so we can all compare easier:

“I drive a _______ in the state of _______, and it costs me $_____/mo through _______. I use them because _________.”

Here’s mine: “I drive a 2008 Lexus RX350 in the state of Maryland, and it costs me $63.56/mo through USAA. I use them because they’re cheap, reliable, and have excellent customer service.”

Your turn!

zach galifianakis thumbs up gif

This post was in partnership with The Zebra, meaning I was compensated to talk about them today… Something I only do for companies I like and think will help our community here! Loved their insurability analyzer the second I saw it, and thought it was a fantastic exercise to take whether you’re in the market for insurance or not. It’s always good to know where you stand in the different areas of your financial life!

[Photo up top by Nick Baker on Unsplash]


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/the-zebra-car-insurance-search-engine/

A bodily experience of man-made earthquakes

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive. Installation view STUK. Photo: ©Joeri Thiry, STUK

The province of Groningen in The Netherlands has the largest gas field in Europe. Since the early days of extraction in 1959, the field has produced billions of cubic meters of the natural resource. The exploitation is a lucrative business but, because the extraction process is causing earthquakes, it is also ruining the lives of the local residents. Many of the houses in the area have been so badly damaged by the man-induced earthquakes that they are uninhabitable.

Gas field in Groningen. Photograph: Jasper Juinen/Bloomberg/Getty Images, via The Guardian

House in Groningen. Image via CBS

Sissel Marie Tonn‘s artwork The Intimate Earthquake Archive is an attempt to understand and communicate the psychosomatic effects that these man-made seisms have on the people who live in the area. The research behind the installation combined an exploration of the vast amount of data available in scientific archives (from core samples to sand and soil lab tests, to data on seismic activity recorded by the Dutch Meteorological Institute or KNMI) with a collection of the personal stories told by the inhabitants of Groningen, who describe how they feel the earthquakes passing through their bodies and homes.

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive. Installation view STUK. Photo: ©Joeri Thiry, STUK

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive. Installation view STUK. Photo: ©Joeri Thiry, STUK

The artist collaborated with Jonathan Reus to turn the digital siesmic archive of the KNMI into a tactile archive, one which can be physically accessed and experienced by the visitor through their body when they don a specially-designed waistcoat with embedded surface (skin) and bone conduction transducers.

The artists have selected 12 earthquakes of cultural and political significance to be part of this sensory archive, and have worked to transform these data sets into vibratory compositions that move across the body and at the subsurface of the skeleton, producing a composition of tremors on the surface of the body – in the same way the seismic waves move across the land.

The Intimate Earthquake Archive is not only an interactive installation that invites “deep listening” within the body but also a reflection on how anthropocentric geological changes might be recorded, experienced and how they can be reproduced for other people in order to help them attune themselves to a future marked by man-made geological changes.

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive, 2017. Video

I was supposed to go and experience the work back in February when it was exhibited at STUK in Leuven (Belgium) during the Artefact festival. Unfortunately, one of the joys of the winter was that i got very ill and had to cancel the trip. My only consolation was that Sissel Marie Tonn has kindly agreed to be interviewed about her project:

Hi Sissel! The The Intimate Earthquake Archive started with a research into the blurring between nature and culture in The Netherlands. What is so special about it in the country? Could you give a few examples?

I guess I believe that the scale of anthropocentric modifications of the biosphere has made this separation between nature and culture somewhat impossible. What I find interesting living in The Netherlands is how land management and stewardship is so integral to the Dutch cultural history and mentality.

When researching the phenomenon of the man-nmade earthquakes in Groningen I also started looking into the peat industry in the country, emerging in the 11th century, up until around the 1960s. Peat is is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation and other organic matter that can be used as fuel, and the extraction methods of peat was eerily similar to the mining of fossil fuels today. When the reserves most easily accessed had been exhausted peat diggers developed new methods and technologies to reach further into the bogs and mires. This industry has left a visible mark on the landscape, where some areas look like thin-toothed combs of land strips cutting through the water-filled bogs. The peat industry has made it into the cultural history of the country as well – from social history of the poverty of the peat diggers, to developments of canals to distribute the peat, to museums, street names and archives commemorating this use of the land, and the benefits and repercussions it had on culture and life in general. Looking at this part of history I became interested in the idea of how the gas-induced earthquakes that have taken place in the province of Groningen since the mid 80s would enter into Dutch cultural history as a form of archive as well.

I had a look at this phenomenon of man-made earthquake and at the protests of the local population. From what i could read online, it’s very damaging for the houses. But you are more interested in the intricacies between nature and culture of course.

Could you explain the impact these earthquake are having on the human body of course but also maybe (if this has been documented) on the environment in general?

The starting point for this research was a curiosity towards how living with man-made ecological change changed one’s perceptions of place. I had a hunch that experiencing subtle or profound changes within ones immediate environment somehow amplified a sense of a presence of that space, giving an opportunity to grasp the interconnectedness between body and surroundings. This was something I had been working on for a while, but in 2015 I heard about this strange phenomenon – man-made earthquakes. I got in contact with some people who were living in the town where the gas was first discovered in the 60s – really lovely people that hosted me while being there.

I became interested in how they described the earthquakes: physical sensations, metaphors describing how they sounded and felt, as well as the stories they told of dealing with the bureaucracy around damage claims towards the NAM (Dutch earth gas company), the feeling of being ignored by the state and politicians for decades, and the anxiety of not knowing what could happen. The aspect of uncertainty connected with the phenomenon, and the fact that the scientifically predicted “highest magnitude” has changed (and is, essentially, impossible to calculate) brings quite a lot of anxiety and fear to the people living in this area.

I was interested in how some people claimed to wake up seconds before an earthquake was felt. To me this show a tangible relationship between what philosopher Felix Guattari calls the interconnection between the ‘social’, the ‘mental’ and the environmental ecologies. Guattari stated in his essay ’Three Ecologies’ already in ’86 that we would never be able to solve the ecological crisis without addressing these other ‘ecologies’, and I find that very interesting in the context of the man-made earthquakes. When people feel neglected by the state and industry it is as if they develop bodily attunements towards these changes – almost as a mode of survival. At around the same time I was also visiting various governmental institutes that were gathering information on the phenomenon – a huge warehouse full of all the core samples that has ever been taken from the ground, laboratories researching new opportunities for extraction in the material samples from the earth, and the seismologists working on the huge digital database of all the seismic activity recorded in the area. These very different encounters sparked the idea of creating the Intimate Earthquake Archive.

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive. Installation view STUK. Photo: Kristof Vrancken

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive. Installation view at Artefact festival, STUK. Photo: Photo: Kristof Vrancken

How did you recreate the feeling of earthquake on bodies? Did you work with people living in the area to have feedback on how close the sensations are compared to what they feel?

The Intimate Earthquake Archive is not an attempt to recreate the feeling of an earthquake per se – it’s not an earthquake simulator. It is rather the gesture of taking a digital seismic archive (managed by the Dutch Meteorological Institute and which can be accessed here) and bring it into the realm of the sensing body – to create an opportunity to know about this phenomenon through the body (rather than the overwhelming amount of scientific information already gathered). I found it interesting that the meteorological institute had made this archive public, yet the data one can retrieve on there is very abstract to someone without specialised knowledge.

Together with artist Jonathan Reus, as well as with the technical help of Marije Baalman and Carsten Tonn-Petersen, I developed The Intimate Earthquake Archive, which connects the digital seismic archive of the man-made earthquakes in Groningen with the sensing body of the visitor. We have designed a wearable interface with embedded surface (skin) and bone conduction transducers.

We have chosen 12 earthquakes of cultural and political significance to be part of this sensory archive, and have transformed these archival data sets into vibratory compositions that move across the body and at the subsurface of the skeleton. Visitors choose which earthquake compositions they want to experience by positioning themselves within a network of long-wave radio transmitting core samples, where proximity to the samples increases the intensity of experiencing that entry. The vibrations move across the skin similarly to how the earthquakes moved across the land, and are intended to inspire a ‘deep listening’ experience within the body.

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive. Installation view STUK. Photo: Kristof Vrancken

Sissel Marie Tonn, The Intimate Earthquake Archive. Installation view STUK. Photo: Kristof Vrancken

What do visitors experience exactly? What are the sensations on the body like? How strong or unpleasant is the feeling?

The visitors put on the vests, as well as noise cancelling ear protection muffs. Then they enter the installation where, as they approach different core samples, compositions of vibrations play out on their bodies. The transducers are distributed so that there’s a mixture of vibration of the skin through parts of the body, and direct transduction of sound through the bones at other parts of the body. So what they feel is a composition for these different modes of experience, based on the seismic recordings, which communicates information on how the earth was vibrating along the x, y and z directions (measured at stations at multiple distances from the epicentre of the earthquakes). The compositions take advantage of the multiple types of vibrations that the vests allow the visitors to feel. For example with bone-conduction you have the sensation of sound coming from within the body, and from no particular direction, whereas with haptic transduction of the skin, it’s really a tactile experience. These different dimensions combined to create a kind of deep listening experience that’s internalised through the body, and this experience is strengthened by the earphones that block out all other environmental sound.

Did you manage to answer the question mentioned in the description of your work “is the sensation of a man-made earthquake fundamentally different than the sensation of a natural one?”

First of all I think there is just something fundamentally weird about the whole concept of ‘man-made earthquakes’. Earthquakes is often connected with the ‘force’ of nature, something outside of our control. But now to a larger and larger degree humans have the capacity to act as geological agents. Therefore I think there is something jarring to the experience of an earthquake that is produced by our dependence on fossil fuels. Furthermore, what I mentioned earlier about how the occurrence of these earthquakes are entwined in mistrust toward the government and industry, resulting from years of neglect and the feeling of being silenced to protect industry, as well as the anxiety of the unknown. These social and mental factors play into the experience of an environmental change that is anthropogenic, and needs to be taken into consideration.

I’m quite curious about the core samples made of sand stone that hang over the head of the audience. Why did you use sand stone?

I used sandstone because this is the kind of stone where the gas is found. I liked the idea that these hanging objects in a way represent the beginning and the end of the phenomenon (core samples being drilled to research whether that particular sedimentary strata contains gas, and the earthquake resulting from the drilling). The samples are kindly donated to us by the TNO (The Geological Survey of The Netherlands). We have been very lucky to get help and information from a lot of scientists working on the phenomenon in The Netherlands.

Why is it more important to you to transfer a physical experience rather than provide information about the phenomenon?

I am interested in moments where relations between our body and the environment around us are revealed to us, and perhaps make us more aware of our place in and effect on the earth system. I am particularly fascinated by how evolutionary processes, such as our senses and perceptual modes of attention, affect our ability to perceive environmental changes, and thereby affect our capacity to act upon them. In that sense I think it’s important to move away a bit from the more cerebral aspects of dealing with the issue of man-made ecological change. Therefore I often create wearable ‘tools’ that challenge the body’s preconfigured modes of perception, for instance by amplifying signals of environmental changes that slip below the radar of our senses, or which exist in a time other than the present. I am interested in how these ‘tools’ can create an awareness of the reciprocal relationship between the body and the surrounding environment, as well as question how artifacts, forms of knowledge, and architecture, shape our perception of the environment. What can we take from these situations, where people living with man-made ecological changes start relying more on the senses of their own bodies than that of scientific measurement systems? I am interested in implicating the body of the visitor, of showing that these changes (in the larger picture) will fundamentally affect the body, and perhaps that we need to attune our bodies more towards these changes in order to act upon them.

Sissel Marie Tonn in collaboration with Jonathan Reus-Brodsky, Sensory Cartographies (video still), 2016

Sissel Marie Tonn in collaboration with Jonathan Reus-Brodsky, Sensory Cartographies, 2016

You designed The Intimate Earthquake Archive as “a kind of test ground for the visitor to attune herself to a future marked by man-made geological change.” Is this something you are interested in pursuing beyond TIEA? And which kind of other man-made geological change do you think you should brace ourselves for?

I am working with Jonathan Reus on an ongoing research-based project called Sensory Cartographies, in which we develop worn biometric and body-extension instruments that challenge the body’s pre-conditioned modes of paying attention. We see them as way-finding apparatuses for reshaping a worldview – knowing momentarily without focus – creating an alternative cartography that is attentive to subtle fluctuations of change.

Sissel Marie Tonn, Becoming Escargotapien at the Jan van Eyck Open Studios in Maastricht. Image courtesy of the artist

Sissel Marie Tonn, Becoming Escargotapien at the Jan van Eyck Open Studios in Maastricht. Image courtesy of the artist

You have recently installed another of your artworks, Becoming Escargotapien at the Jan van Eyck Open Studios in Maastricht. What is the project about?

Becoming Escargotapien is a project I started last year. It deals with the many ways in which the human body is fundamentally entangled with the surrounding world. Living in a world where bi-products of industry seep into our bodies, where ocean acidification bleaches coral reefs and perforate the shells of mollusks, and plastics make it back into our bodies, it seems urgent to me to think about what power-laden distinctions we draw between nature and culture (as we talked about earlier), but also between human and non-human, and between body and environment in general. The Escargotapien is a speculative species I have invented, a kind of tool to explore these distinctions through a story.

The installation that I set up at Jan van Eyck consists of a spoken ‘tale’ that connects the developments of calcified matter in organisms during the Cambrian Explosion with contemporary use of 3d printing technologies used in regenerative medicine. Specifically, it deals with the use of mother-of-pearl as material for reconstructing human bone: Some 550 million years ago, when the oceans underwent a sudden mineralization, the soft organisms of these ancient waters started developing spinal cords and exoskeletons. From then on, species developed along separate paths. But something in the body still recall this shared past, making this marriage of bone and nacre (mother-of-pearl) possible today – bone doesn’t easily forget its mineral origins. Similarly, fossils of the deep past can reveal astounding facts about their environments through material traces embedded in the petrified bone.

The tale is told through a direct vibratory connection between the bone of the visitor and the 3d-printed ‘porosified’ fossil making up the listening devices (the sound is transmitted through a bone-conducting transducer). The tale almost becomes embedded into the body of the visitor, as a felt memory of vibration, that they take with them – for a while at least.

The installation also contained an architectural intervention into the studio space, where the floor was raised in order to bring visitors close to the windows. The movements of the outside world is thus brought into closer relation with the immersive experience of listening/being in the space. The soft ‘mat’ covering the platform requires the visitor to balance and move differently around the space, while being made aware of the repercussions of such small perceptual changes and repositioning of the body, through the audio.

Thanks Sissel!

The Intimate Earthquake Archive was at Artefact Festival, STUK, Leuven, BE and is shown again as part of Hyberobjects Exhibition which opens on 13 April at Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, TX, USA.

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/a-bodily-experience-of-man-made-earthquakes/

Put Savings Towards Mortgage Balance, or Nah?

Put Savings Towards Mortgage Balance, or Nah?

home glow

That was the subject line of an email I just got 🙂

And since we’ve been on a roll dishing out real life #’s and journeys, let’s add another to the mix and help a reader out, shall we? What would you do if you were in her position?

(The first thing I’d do is crack open a bottle of champagne and celebrate!!! Check out their incomes!!)

From “Method & Madness”:

Hi J Money,

Thank you for all you do for the online community and being a general butt-kicker. I’ve been a huge fan since the podcast days. I was wondering if I could pose a question/situation to you and the BAS Community. I always learn a TON when you’ve posted scenarios with all the numbers attached. Those posts are my favorite to read comments on because of the breadth and depth of knowledge you and your community have. My question is about taking our extra savings and applying it to the balance of our mortgage.

There a few things you should know about my husband and me. We are in our mid-to-early thirty’s, we live in a high tax, high cost of living area and have a mortgage balance of $206,000. Our home is worth approximately $460,000. We currently have a combined income of $350,000 but we both are in Sales so our income has the potential to fluctuate quite a bit. We are anticipating having that same income for 2018 but in 2019 and on it could go down by $50,000. Or more, you never know in sales!

We are currently maxing out our 401(k)s at work. In 2018, that is $18,500 per person (like you don’t know…). After that, on a monthly basis we are putting $3,000 into a post tax investment fund through Betterment (which I love). We also save a minimum of $1,500 a month in an account which started out as a “fluctuating income” fund, but over the last 24 months that has accumulated $122,000. We just transfer our extras/bonuses in the account, so it doesn’t stick around in the checking and get spent 😊. We do have an emergency fund of $25,000 and various other funds for ongoing expenses like house/car maintenance, vacation, my husband’s toy fund (there’s various off-road vehicles owned and on the wish list LOL). Our current mortgage payment is $1,600 a month, we pay an extra $1,000 towards principal.

Here are the deets:


  • 401k’s: $152,495
  • IRA’s from Old Jobs: $29,700
  • Pension: $29,000
  • After Tax Investments (Betterment): $14,716
  • Savings Account in consideration: $122,558
  • Add’l Savings not being considered (Emergency, Vacation, House/Car Maintenance): $38,564


  • Mortgage Balance at 3.625%: $207,852


  • Monthly into 401k’s: $3,083 (two separate 401k’s)
  • Monthly into After-tax Investments: $3,000
  • Monthly into Savings Account in Question: $1,500 every month, 4 times a year + $5,000-10,000
  • Monthly extra on Mortgage: $1,000

We would like to (or we think we would like to) take the “fluctuation income” fund money and apply it to the mortgage balance. The remaining $84,294 would take us 14-19 months to pay off depending on how aggressive we get and successes at work.

On the personal side, we think we would feel more liberated to live a different version of life if we didn’t have a mortgage. We are unsure whether we want retire early, take a sabbatical, or if we just want to be financially independent. Either way, we want to be smart and focused. PLUS! We don’t have anything else we want to “do” with this money (not off-road vehicle related😊). This seems like a great goal to go after together.

I’d love to know your thoughts if you have a moment. Thank you for being a beacon of bad-assery,

– Method & Madness

Let’s just get this out of the way – definite first world problems here 🙂 But good for them! They’ve figured out The Hustle and are now reaping the sweet sweet benefits of it. We should all be so fortunate!

The first thought I had was actually why they didn’t have even *more* banked with incomes like that (answer to come in a sec), but my rule with all this sorta stuff is pretty straight forward:

Do what excites you the most.

So long as it increases your net worth in the end, just jump in and start slaying whatever it is that moves you! You’re always MUCH more likely to keep going with things when you’re passionate and on a mission than you are just doing the “more responsible” thing. Who cares if you don’t maximize every last penny – you gotta do what best fits your personality and lifestyle!

(Unless your personally is motivated by chasing the most optimum route – in which case you crunch those numbers like a champ and do yo damn thing!)

And remember this too – we’re always allowed to change our minds. You may want to pay down those debts or save/invest/cut expenses *now*, but who knows what life will hit you with later or what new dreams will come your way. You have to be able to adapt to this stuff even if it flies in the opposite direction than it used to. As long as you’re always focused on the one thing that drives you NOW, there’s no way you can go wrong in the end.

(Again, so long as it all pushes your $$$ forward and not backward — we’re not talking about snatching up new cars or shoes or boats anytime you’re excited about them 😉 Just *financial options*.)

So obviously you know my stance with our reader’s situation here (GO FOR IT!! PAY DOWN THAT MORTGAGE AND GET YOUR FREEDOM!!!!) but here’s more data for you before you chime in with yours…

The only thing I saw missing here to better put things in perspective were their general monthly expenses, as well as wondering why they “only” had $300k or so saved up with those types of incomes.

Here’s what she responded with:

Great call out on the income. Yes, it is relatively new to us, 18 months new. Our income went from $200k to $350k. And even though we get giddy and proud at that number at the top of the sheet, much of our income are bonuses (40-50%) and are subject to the federal tax on bonuses. Once it comes into our pocket it’s 40% gone. California can be a biatch.

We’ve also been mind ninja-ing ourselves in small steps to get to the savings rate we are currently at. So any time we realize an increase in pay (base pay raise) or a decrease in spending (cutting cable), that next month we up the amount into one of our savings accounts. That’s slow work. So both of your assumptions are correct, both the income and savings rate is new to us. That’s the reason for the lower account balances.

We also used some of that for large purchases in the last two years – $18,000 vehicle paid for in cash last year, – $10,000 off-road vehicle, etc.

$206,800 is the income that hit our bank account after 401k, taxes & benefits were taken out in 2018.

By category this is our “normal” monthly expense at $6,600 out going. We do our best to pay for larger, infrequent expenses (ie fence repair) in the months we have extra income come it. I haven’t included that in the average monthly budget below.

  • Giving – $685
  • Housing (not including extra on mortgage, but does include things like Cell Phones, Internet, Utilities, Ongoing Maintenance & Upkeep) – $2,500
  • Car Gas & Maintenance – $220
  • Food (Groceries, Restaurants & Bars, Coffee, Hosting BBQ’s/Dinners) – $1,165
  • Lifestyle (Gifts, Weekend Travel, Netflix, Haircuts, Shopping, Housecleaners, Hobbies) – $1,250
  • Health & Wellness (Chiropractor, Massage, Vitamins, Meds, Gym, Yoga) – $525
  • Taxes/Insurance – $178

I’m excited (and nervous) to hear what you have to say.

Now we have the bigger picture 🙂 In other words, they spend the same amount of money every month as I do, only with three times the salary! Haha… Which leaves a looooooooooooooot of extra money for $$$ goals which again is just amazing!

So if I were them I’d be maxing out every last financial checkbox as well just in case it does come crashing down one day… They can take away your job, but they can’t take away your wealth!! As long as you’re building a nice fat moat around it like they’re well on their way in doing.

So my vote is yes – 100% pay off that mortgage and free up that mind! Not only do you have plenty of cash flow and padding all around you, but it’ll only net you even MORE $$$$ once that house is paid off! It’s a beautiful thing!

And if liquidating all $122,000 in savings is still scary, maybe pull $80,000 from it to start with, and then throw the other $40,000 into your “Emergency, Vacation, House/Car Maintenance” fund giving you a whole *12 months* of expenses banked and ready to be used in case the $hit hits the fan… Which of course the odds are a long shot – especially with all your other $$$ stashed – but still. Might help you feel more confident and knowing you’re covering all the bases before going “all in” 🙂

Those are my thoughts – how about you guys?? Is she safe to start storming the mortgage?? Would you change anything else with her setup?  Do you wish you had those levels of income too? 😉

Drop your thoughts/comments/questions below, and our dear reader here will be pouring all over them and hopefully getting closer to a good answer for her family. Just please keep it respectful! Y’all kinda went buck wild on the last one – which is fine – but keep in mind it’s not that easy divulging your goods to the world so please keep it as attack-free as possible…

If you missed the last few articles like this we’ve posted, here they are again:

Happy gawking! 🙂


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/put-savings-towards-mortgage-balance-or-no/

How The Pursuit of FIRE Got Me a Girlfriend

How The Pursuit of FIRE Got Me a Girlfriend

welcome to las vegas

[Morning! Have a fun – and super adorable – story for you today by Erik of The Mastermind Within blog. The next time someone tells you you’re not going to find love being a financial nerd, you can just send them right to this post! 😉 Happy Friday!]


Risk is a funny concept.

Many people talk about risk like it’s something tangible and concrete.

Heck, there are entire divisions in big corporations dedicated to identifying operational, credit, and reputational risks in order to estimate the dollar amount associated with these risks.

Some people are risk-adverse, and others are risk-seeking.

In the financial independence community, we hate risk and love stability.

“Invest in index funds!”

“Stay away from Bitcoin!”

“Bonds are your friend in retirement!”

Well, I’m here to tell a different story.

This story is about opportunity, risk, the pursuit of financial independence, and why I went on a second date in Vegas.

Pursuing Financial Independence

In 2013, I came across the world of financial independence.

Reading about how everyday people could become wealthy in a short amount of time and do what they wanted with their time sounded amazing.

I dove into learning about real estate investing, the stock market, getting out of debt and the impact of fees and taxes on your wealth over time.

All of this was theory at this point in my life as I was still in college.

2 years later, I was finishing up my Master’s degree and ready to start building wealth.

While I had a negative net worth in 2015, I was making $63,000 at age 22 and had all the tools and strategies to eliminate my student loan, make smart choices about my investments, and to start creating wealth for the future.

Dating and the Pursuit of Financial Independence

I’ll be blunt: dating is difficult when pursuing financial independence as a single person.

In 2015, the girl I was dating didn’t understand why I wanted to buy a house and have my 3 friends pay down my mortgage. She didn’t realize why it was so important for me to still live like a college student so I could crush my student debt.

Unfortunately, we didn’t work out.

Over the next few years, I went on a number of dates, dated a few women, but when money came up, we were always on a different page.

A pile of debts? I don’t know about that.

Shopping sprees and going out to eat 5 times a week? That probably won’t work.

Endless make-up and pedicures!?!? Ugh.

While it was tough, I stayed positive. No reason to stress! I was on the path to financial freedom!

The Real Reason You Need an Emergency Fund

Let’s fast forward to the summer of 2017.

In the past 3 years, I’d accomplished quite a bit on the financial front: I’d paid off my student loan, paid off my auto loan, bought a house at 22 and grown my net worth to over $100,000 through house hacking, and now was sitting with a fat bank account.

Last June, I hosted a BBQ at my house for like-minded individuals. I invited some bloggers, entrepreneurs and other people with the goal of financial freedom.

I met my girlfriend there – and it’s all because of my pursuit of FIRE!

But that’s not the end of the story.

That next Friday, 5 days later, I was at work texting my new special friend. She was off to Vegas to meet some of her friends for the weekend and mid-flight had just found out that her friends were not going to be there after all.

“I wish I was coming up to Minnesota to hang out with you instead of going to Vegas alone!” I read on my phone.

I’m not one to mess around: I bought the second house I looked at, bought the first car I test drove, and when I see something I like, I go for it.

I replied, “I could come to Vegas for the weekend….? How much is housing? Tickets are $648, is that good?”

“Housing is free, I was going to stay in my friend’s condo, but they aren’t going to be there. All you’ll have to do it pay for the plane ticket.”

Opportunity, Risk, and Taking Chances

I take chances. I’ve failed many times in my life, but I’m also one of the more successful 25 year olds out there. With a net worth approaching $200,000, a great job paying nearly 6 figures, and multiple lucrative side hustles, I’m doing okay.

With all decisions in life, there is risk. There was risk when I bought my house. There was risk when I joined a multi-level marketing company in college for a month. And, there was risk when I was considering buying a plane ticket to Vegas to meet a financially driven young lady for the second time.

I looked at my bank account: $11,260.73.

All I would have to do is pay the tickets to get there? Free lodging in Vegas? A weekend with an awesome girl?

I bought the tickets. (Don’t tell my mother!)

16 hours later, I was off to Vegas for my girlfriend and I’s second date.

The Couple That Spreadsheets Together Stays Together

I have a confession to make. Actually, two confessions.

First, I’m so cheap that before this trip, I didn’t have a line item in my personal finance tracking spreadsheet for travel.

Second, since it was the beginning of July, and my girlfriend happens to be another personal finance blogger, we spent one afternoon of our 3 day second date updating our spreadsheets together 🙂

updating spreadsheets date

Other than that, it was a pretty low key Vegas vacation (as far as those go). As financially minded people, we kept our losses to $100 total throughout the few days we gambled, and even ate at home at the condo for a few meals!

I don’t think that second date will ever be topped… and it’s all because of my pursuit of financial freedom.

It All Starts With An Emergency Fund

What happens when the furnace or AC goes out in your house? What happens if your car breaks down, or you get sick? What happens if you need to go to Vegas last second??? There are so many unplanned emergencies to account for. Take it from me: it’s amazing the feeling of having some cash in the bank.

However, around 70% of Americans don’t have $1,000 in their bank account.

That has to change.

An emergency fund is so critical for financial success.  Cash is king!

Here are 3 tips you can apply in your life to build your emergency fund and build a strong financial base.

#1. Look at your expenses and identify any areas of weakness you could work on

  • Tracking your income and expenses is the first step to financial success. Even finding savings of $10 a day can add up over time. $10 a day is $3,650 a year. $3,650 a year for 30 years at 7% compounded is over $300,000!
  • Get a budget! You are literally reading this article on the site, Budgets are $exy.

#2. Work on destroying your debt and eliminating this monthly burden

  • Guess what – debt sucks. I’m sure you think this as well.
  • It’s easier to save money if you don’t have a monthly debt payment
  • Credit card debt is the worst. Paying 20% in interest every month is not something you want to do if wealth and stability is your goal. Destroy your debt!

#3. Invest in yourself and grow your income

  • The best investment you can make is in yourself
  • If you earn more, you will be able to save more. If you save more, the better chance you will have of being in a situation where if times get tough, you will be ready.
  • Become more valuable for more responsibilities and higher pay

After building your emergency fund, you can use this as a launching pad on your way to saving money, building wealth, and reaching financial freedom!

I Met My Girlfriend Pursuing Financial Freedom, What Could You Do?

The path to FIRE isn’t as difficult as it may seem: live below your means, look to eliminate your debts over time, save some money each month, and BOOM, 5, 10, 20 years later, you are wealthy!

Here’s the thing:

I’m not any better than you.

I’m not any smarter than you.

I’m just an ordinary guy in Minnesota doing ordinary things. I wake up in the morning, get dressed, and head to my 9 to 5.

5 years ago, I decided I was going to be financially free and pursue FIRE. Along the way, I met an amazing girl, went on a second date in Vegas, and now am continuing to grow my wealth with the support of a loving partner.

I’m just an ordinary guy doing ordinary things. What could you do in your pursuit of FIRE? (And what are you willing to risk for it?)

Erik runs The Mastermind Within, a blog and podcast geared towards helping you reach your full potential. Erik has way too many side hustles, loves talking about personal finance and self-improvement, and looks to inspire and help others grow and succeed in their career and life. He can also be found on Twitter at @MastermindWithi

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is not the first couple to come out of personal finance blogging 🙂 A couple other bloggers (Romeo & Latisha) actually met at one of our conferences and then GOT MARRIED!! Maybe it’s time to start a blog if you’re having trouble finding “the one” too? Haha…


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/how-the-pursuit-of-fire-got-me-a-girlfriend/

Net Worth Voyeur Time: $801,707.30 (Down $10,000 – PLUS: Some Juicy Events This Month…)

Net Worth Voyeur Time: $801,707.30 (Down $10,000 – PLUS: Some Juicy Events This Month…)

net worth update

That time again! Another month, another net worth report while being another month OLDER as well! Haha… I swear I still feel like the same 28 year old when I first started tracking these, do you??? 🙂

Three juicy things that went down this month:

  1. The markets continued its crashing (which you already knew)
  2. I had to withdraw our ROTH IRA contributions as it turned out we weren’t allowed to contribute (!!!)
  3. I tried bitcoin and hated it!

We’ll skip item #1 up there since it’s nothing we haven’t covered here before (i.e. just avert your eyes and keep going with the plan!), but let’s talk a little about events #2 and #3:

#2. Roth IRA boo-boo

You know how I always wait until Tax Time each year to max out our IRAs after meeting with our accountant? Which I’ve faithfully done for the past decade and it’s been working like a charm? Well, for whatever reason I decided to go rouge this time around and max it out three months early, and of course its the ONE TIME I mess it all up, haha…

Turns out we made too much money last year to be able to contribute *anything* to our Roths (due to the Rockstar sale), and so the $5,500 we each put towards maxing it out had to be reversed unless we wanted to do a dance with the devil. A good problem to have, but still a problem no less, and is why you see such a large cash infusion up there in our net worth graph this month 🙂

It wasn’t because we were straight up hustling – it was because we straight up made a mistake!

I eventually got it all cleared up (had to file two “Correction of excess contribution” forms, which then gets it withdrawn + any profits it made), and now we just await to see how much we’re gonna get dinged for the honor of making this mistake 😉 The good thing is that we caught it *before* the tax year ends which should help, but I’ll report back once I know more when I get the details…

If you ever come across more money than you’re used to though, don’t be like me and excitedly start maxing stuff out! Make sure you’re playing inside the rules! 🙂

#3. Bitcoin Experimenting

This was another one that threw me for a loop this month… For years I just ignored and ignored and ignored the crypto craze and told everyone who asked me, “No! Stay away!” but when a good friend of mine started getting into it I couldn’t help but get sucked in… And before I knew it I had my entire spavings fund ($2,300+) dumped in Bitcoin et al seeing what it was all about!

Whelp, it was fun for a little bit, but my pea brain just couldn’t get into it *long term* like I had originally planned, and as fast as I had “invested” it I had gone in and cashed it all out, haha… I couldn’t stop staring at the screens every day wondering where it would bounce to next!! Even though I kept telling myself it’s a long play and to stop doing it!

Interestingly I did end up coming away with an extra $332.61 when it was said and done (and re-invested into that same spavings fund – which is why it’s up larger than normal this month), but it was by pure accident and literally the next week it all crashed harder than the stock markets…

I’m glad I gave it a shot though because I hadn’t tried any new experiments in a while, and it only reinforced my love for “regular” investments, haha… And I have to give mad respect to all y’all who are invested long term as well, because I really do think it’ll be around for a while – even if it looks different – and if you’re better than I at averting your eyes and focusing on its strengths, I’m sure you’ll be handsomely rewarded later (if you haven’t been already). My friend is very much still “in”, and I have a feeling he’ll be rubbing it in my nose years from now 🙂

Here are some other quick notes from my experience:

  1. I used Coinbase to do all my buying/selling – it was so easy!! Loved having it all in one “wallet,” and seems to be the popular choice for people (though you’re limited to what types of digital currency you can buy there)
  2. I bought three types of cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. Of which all but Ethereum made money, though I think they’ll be the clear winner when all the dust settles…
  3. I spent way too much time reading – and laughing – about Cryptokitties!
  4. And there’s about 1,000 new articles on bitcoin and company every day so you’ll never get bored 🙂 One of the more feistier ones came from Mr. Money Mustache, though it still didn’t stop me from experimenting on my own, haha… “Why Bitcoin is Stupid

Would love to hear how many of you are invested in it, and what your experience has been so far? Have you been involved for a while, or just recently started out? Any good articles/resources you can share with our community here?

So yeah, a wild month this round! And that’s on top of packing up all our stuff, moving to our new house, and then un-packing all our stuff while prepping for a new human in our lives 🙂 But more on that in a bit.

Onto March’s Net Worth Breakdown…

[As always, these reports are shared to keep things transparent and start great convos around money. Sometimes we’re up, sometimes we’re down, and sometimes we’re just plain boring – but whatever the case, we disclose it all and hope it helps you in your journey too!]

CASH SAVINGS (+$14,261.41): You already learned the trick to this on (just contribute money to your IRAs when you’re not supposed to, and then take it all back! ;)), but there is $3,000 or so that was on top of that which was great… We’re definitely out of the cash flow problems we were once in while the wife was finishing up grad school…

SPAVINGS FUND! (+$366.97): Another nice boost here, mainly due to the bitcoin experimenting as noted above, as well as some other little finds scattered around (like saving $20 from tweaking our renter’s insurance policy). You can learn more about the “spavings” idea here.

THRIFT SAVINGS PLAN (TSP) (+$421.07): The only shining light in our “investments” section! Haha… Mainly because the pot isn’t big enough yet to consume any contributions being made to it on a regular basis 😉 At some point they’ll just be drops in the overall bucket, but we’ve still got a ways to go for that to happen as this one’s relatively new (two years).

ROTH IRAs (-$14,195.89): A big drop, where $11,000 of it came from withdrawing 2017’s maxed out contributions… Though it wouldn’t have stopped the funds from being in the red anyways this month!

SEP IRA (-$10,553.80): Same here – when the market moves, the market moves. Although in April we WILL be contributing money to this account after triple checking with our accountant this time 😉

Here’s a snapshot of how this account has progressed since switching to Vanguard:

vanguard returns

(PS: Everything’s in VTSAX over at Vanguard – a “total market” index fund)

CAR VALUES (-$163.00): Nothing too crazy here – just the cars doing what they do… Here are their values per Kelly Blue Book:

  • Lexus RX350: $9,565.00
  • Toyota Corolla: $3,022.00

Total change in net worth this month: $10,195.85

At least we beat last month’s $30,000 drop! That’s something! 🙂

And here’s a look at how the past 12 months have gone, to put things into even better perspective:

net worth - past 12 months

Overall we’re definitely up from this time last year!

And now onto our kids’ net worths… which hopefully they appreciate one day 🙂

baby net worths

So that’s March! How about you?? Anything good happen?

In “life” news — something we’ve started adding to these reports — here’s what’s been going on:

1) We moved!!! All boxes in and about 70% unpacked already – not too bad 🙂 It was the first time I’ve ever had to move just a mile down the street (here’s why), and WOW was it much easier than in the past. Because we were so close and had a two week overlapping of homes, we were able to do the following:

  1. Make daily car trips to move some of the fragile/fluffy/weird-shaped items from one house to the next
  2. Make bigger moves over two weekends using friends’ trucks and trailers
  3. And then renting one 16 ft van for a few hours to move over all remaining furniture

It took a lot of *time*, but much easier/smoother doing it over the course of two weeks than all in one main day. And it barely disrupted my kids/pregnant wife’s lives too 🙂

2) THE BABY IS COMING THIS MONTH!!! I don’t know when, but I know it’s coming and just praying towards the END of the month vs in the beginning/middle, haha… I’m ready, but not that ready.

3) I’m finally fine, and enjoying, my freedom from a billion and one projects 🙂 And I don’t even want to start a new one anytime soon – imagine that?? My trick of trying to do the *least* amount of work possible every day, while still doing work and being effective, is starting to pay off, and I only hope I don’t lose my hustle bone as the months tick by, haha…

4) Lastly, if you ever come across a box of old coins in your attic or from family members, feel free to mail them over to me and I will value them and liquidate for you! I jokingly said I’d do that for a friend the other day as it’s something I really have done over the years, and not only did he take me up on it but it should be arriving to my house any day now!!! I CANNOT WAIT!!!! It doesn’t even matter if there’s junk inside – it’s the thrill of the unknown that gets every collector trembling with joy, haha… So thanks, Anthony! You made this nerd’s entire month!

And that’s all I got for y’all today 🙂

This month’s Life Meter: 80% Happy / 10% Busy / 10% anxiously awaiting a new human.

How about you? Life/business/love/money?

j. money signature


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/net-worth-update-801k/

Handbook of Tyranny: a guide to everyday cruelties

Handbook of Tyranny, by Theo Deutinger, an architect, writer, lecturer, illustrator and designer of socio-cultural maps.

On amazon UK and USA.

Publisher Lars Müller writes: Handbook of Tyranny portrays the routine cruelties of the twenty-first century through a series of detailed non-fictional graphic illustrations. None of these cruelties represent extraordinary violence – they reflect day-to-day implementation of laws and regulations around the globe.

Every page of the book questions our current world of walls and fences, police tactics and prison cells, crowd control and refugee camps. The dry and factual style of storytelling through technical drawings is the graphic equivalent to bureaucratic rigidity born of laws and regulations. The level of detail depicted in the illustrations of the book mirror the repressive efforts taken by authorities around the globe.

The twenty-first century shows a general striving for an ever more regulated and protective society. Yet the scale of authoritarian intervention and their stealth design adds to the growing difficulty of linking cause and effect. Handbook of Tyranny gives a profound insight into the relationship between political power, territoriality and systematic cruelties.

Animals slaughtered per second worldwide and slaughterhouse floor plan

Animals slaughtered per second worldwide

The Handbook of Tyranny‘s infographics and texts bring to light the nonhuman entities that restrict, govern and guide our daily existence. They lay bare a vast ecosystem of coercion that is (often insidiously) interwoven into the fabric of cities, of society, of every day life.

Some of these ‘small cruelties’ are engineering innovations, others are small design tweaks. Some are massive and overwhelming, others are subtle, their unpleasantness concealed behind a veneer of propriety, comfort or security. Some affect the existence of only a limited part of humanity (the refugees or the prisoners, for example), others target each and everyone of us as we walk around the neighbourhood, go on holiday or look for a place to sit in the park.

Bunker Buster

Prison cells

We might resent some of these objects and strategies of control but that doesn’t mean that will will automatically condemn them. At least not if we are told that they have been designed to ensure our safety and protect us from undesirable behaviour.

Handbook of Tyranny is a sharp, enlightening and beautifully designed book. It told me about anti-injecting blue light, urine deflectors that ‘pee back‘ at you and bunker busters that delay their explosion until after they have penetrated layers of earth or concrete. It also made me think about the responsibility for the authoritarian features of modern life: they do not reside entirely into the hands of ‘the powers that be’ but also in the ones of architects, designers, engineers and, to a certain extent, the rest of us.

Theo Deutinger & Lars Müller Publishers present Handbook of Tyranny at Pakhuis de Zwijger

Refugee Camps

Crowd Control

Crowd Control

Walls & Fences

Related story: Book review – Unpleasant Design and Design and Violence. Part 2: violence where you wouldn’t expect it.

from Finance http://we-make-money-not-art.com/handbook-of-tyranny/

“I’m Semi-Retiring at 43!”

“I’m Semi-Retiring at 43!”

frugal vegan mama

Got another fun email for ya today!

Got me grinning from ear to ear over here, and hopefully it inspires you to get out there and make your dreams happen too. Or at least try and get your expenses down even more – this woman is living off $1,000/mo! For a family of four!!

How does she do it? Clues – and her budget – down below 😉

Enjoy!! Y’all are killin’ it out there!


Hello J. Money,

I love 😍 reading your posts.

I have 43 work days left at my full-time job (minus any of the numerous sick days I have left to burn…shhhh!! 😁)

I’m SUPER PUMPED about it! I’ll be semi-retired at age 43!

I plan to keep my part-time job that I love at the local homeless shelter.

This summer I will also join my husband and two (homeschooled) sons at summer camp. We are gonna be serving up delicious vegetarian food at a peace building camp in our area. It will be his 5th summer going there to work – but my first!

I haven’t saved enough ($210K) to never wanna or need to work ever, but I don’t need a whole heck of a lot to live – under $1,000 per month does us just fine. No debt – house and our shared hybrid car all paid off & we eat a lot of rice and beans!

I have no plans to spend the $200K… just let it keep growing over at Vanguard. I’ll keep $10K out for any emergencies.

I haven’t seen any bloggers speak about earned income tax credit and child tax credit, but it’s worth mentioning that keeping a part-time job and earning only $8,000 a year would give a married couple with two children under 17 years old $4,000 in free tax money. That’s the bare minimum to cover our living expenses ($8k + $4k living off = $1k/mo)…

(Max EITC in 2017: $3,400 (1 child); $5,616 (2 children); $6,318 (3 children) + Plus up to $1,000 for up to 3 children in Additional Child Tax Credit – under 17))

I do think that once I’m in my semi-retirement mode that I will explore other possibilities to generate income doing things I enjoy.


  • More intentional time with family and friends…
  • More time to read/learn new things, relax, cook, exercise and just be FREE to make the choice of how to spend my time on earth!
  • Exploring the possibility of downsizing to a tiny house on wheels… or at least converting a sprinter type van to deluxe travel mobile!
  • I’d like to check out intentional communities across the US and learn about permaculture, herbal medicine, yoga and have a huge organic garden!
  • Maybe starting a blog?

But definitely keeping up with J. Money… You’re my F.I.R.E. hero dude!

Frugal Vegan Mama


What an email to get!! Did you catch all the gems there??

– Paid off house

– Paid off car

– Doing what she loves on the side (homeless shelter)

LIVING OFF ONLY $1,000/mo (!!!!!)

I of course had to respond and try to get her to divulge more, and again she did not disappoint 😉


Thanks for replying!

I’d been itching to share the info with someone… someone who wouldn’t judge or tell me I’m crazy for walking away from a decent paying job! Most people around me don’t get it. But I know in my heart that it’s time to walk away and embrace life differently.

I just really love following your stories/posts because you are so open and freely share where you were and where you are now. It’s always been a taboo topic to talk about money with many people I know–mainly family…but many are skittish to talk about it and when some do….I see that many are in poor shape financially.

Here’s the breakdown of our expenses: (we live in Kentucky and share one car and one cell phone. It’s very rare… like once or twice a year… that we eat out at a restaurant)

Electric $150
Heating Gas $75
Water/Sewer $75
Auto insurance (Full coverage) $37.50
Property Taxes $55
Homeowners Insurance $50
Internet $10
Cell phone $40
Trash service $17
Food $400
Netflix/Hulu $25
Fuel for Car (It’s a hybrid – electric & gas powered) $25
Misc. Household Supplies, Clothing, Etc. $40.50
TOTAL $1,000



And that’s how the sausage is made, ladies and gentlemen 🙂 An amazing thing… And approximately 500% better than our current spending of $6,000/mo – hah!

So yes – you need to start a blog, Frugal Vegan Mama!! We need you up in here sharing your tricks and secrets! Make it happen! (But first, quit that job and enjoy the freedom for a bit :))

PS: For another dumping of raw thoughts like this, check out last week’s email if you missed it –> “You might get a kick out of our recent financial journey”


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/frugal-vegan-mama-journey-into-semi-retirement/

Is Net Worth Tracking The New Budgeting?

Is Net Worth Tracking The New Budgeting?

cash money face

I caught myself blurting something out the other day while on a podcast:

“Net Worth is the new budgeting”

I don’t know where it came from as I’ve never said that before – or even thought it? – but once it came out I started racking my brain for a list of comparisons to see how right or not I was 😉

  • Does tracking your net worth hold you accountable like budgeting? (Yup)
  • Does it keep you motivated and more conscious about your spending like budgeting? (Yup)
  • Is it faster and easier and have approximately 1,000x better shot of you not burning out later? (Yup, yup, YUP! Haha…)

It’s also great because it gives you a better *overall* picture of your finances too, rather than just concentrating on cash flow which is only one side of the equation (albeit an important one).

On the other hand, if you only focus on your net worth you miss out on a handful of great budgeting benefits as well!

  • Knowing the ins and outs of your income and expenses
  • Being able to pinpoint trouble areas in your daily spending
  • Not thinking you’re hot $hit when the market rises and your net worth doubles!
  • Not thinking you’re a hot MESS when the market crashes and your net worth gets cut in half 😉
  • And of course, having more #’s to play along with if you’re a big ol’ fiscal nerd

So pros and cons with both, but an interesting thing to consider… Particularly for those who’ve failed at budgeting time and again and are looking for something to stick!

Because I’ll tell you this much – you have a MUCH better shot at keeping something up that only requires your attention *one time* a month for 15 minutes than you do each and every day, haha…

And that’s not even incorporating the *emotional* wins that come with taking control of your finances either. Because while you’re technically only tracking your numbers once a month, it still very much seeps into your consciousness and affects your daily activities/spending for the better as well.

There’s a reason we share our net worth here month after month after month – it does wonders!! For both your mind and your money! And is why you’re about to be hit with our latest net worth installment too in a few days, haha… #123 in a row, baby! Haven’t missed a month yet!

But I’m definitely not here to convince you that your net worth is more important than your budget, especially with budgeting literally being in my blog name 😉

I do think it could be a great alternative though if you’re currently stuck and feeling pretty bad about your budgeting fails. With net worth all you have to do is copy and paste over some numbers – and voila!

It was one of the first things I used to do with my money coaching clients and boy did it open up a world of enlightenment… They loved being able to see everything in one spot and only have a *single number* to compare each month instead of a million ones with budgeting… Here’s the simple spreadsheet I gave them, which also included a section for income and expenses which we tackled later: The “Money Snapshot” spreadsheet

In a perfect world, though, doing your net worth AND budgeting would be best, of course. It gives you the ultimate superpower of seeing your money from all different angles instead of just one! Or even none!

Here’s the key:

  • Budgeting + Net Worth tracking = Wonder Woman
  • Daily budgeting – OR – Net worth tracking = Wonder Girl
  • Doing nothing at all = The Joker 😉

(It literally took me 30 minutes to come up with that, haha… was it worth it??)

At the end of the day, it’s all about testing different things until you find the one that *clicks*. And when you finally do, you ROCK THE $HIT OUT OF IT AND NEVER LET GO!!! You ride that puppy straight into Financial Freedom and count your lucky stars along the way!

Some people find it on the first try, and others are still searching decades later. Whatever it takes, just don’t give up. And in the meantime, we’ll keep sharing whatever ideas pop into our heads here to help you get to that point sooner than later 🙂

Questions, comments, concerns – drop them below and we shall discuss…

PS: If you’re just starting out in your journey, I *highly* recommend budgeting and tracking every last penny that comes in and out of your life FIRST before skipping right to net worth tracking. It does wonders once you know yourself and your habits well, but until you can get to that point you need to understand where all your money is going and why. You have to start as Super Girl before you can grow into Super Woman!

PPS: Here’s the podcast I was on that instigated today’s thoughts –> Interview with J. Money from Budgets are Sexy. If you hated it, you can blame Alain 🙂


[For more $$$ nuggets, head over to Budgets Are Sexy!]

from Finance http://www.budgetsaresexy.com/is-net-worth-tracking-the-new-budgeting/