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Does Owning a Vacation Home Make Sense?

It was a crisp, cloudless autumn day in 2004. My son and I set off on mountain bikes from a trailhead in rugged north Georgia. We climbed gradually on an abandoned logging road. It led up through beautiful old hardwood forest to near the summit of a stately mountain. We leveled out, then began the …

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Financial Simplicity: What is Your Time Worth?

“Is the oil spilled? Is a little wine stolen? Say on the occasion, at such price is sold freedom from perturbation; at such price is sold tranquility…” –Epictetus Money is a stepping stone to more important things. If you’re on track to your financial goals, you may not need to manage your wealth so tightly. …

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Financial Freedom on a Shoestring

I’ll admit it. I’ve led a life of some privilege. Maybe I didn’t have it easy. But I didn’t have it hard either. Simply by virtue of birth, I inherited most of the essential assets for my journey to financial independence…. No, my parents weren’t wealthy or powerful. I wasn’t given money or land or …

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Roth IRAs and Roth Conversions: Who Needs Them?

Roth IRAs are the darling of the financial media. Maybe it’s because they’re relatively newer. Or because the rules have changed, allowing more people to access them now. Or because, in some situations, they can save you more on taxes. Whatever the reason, there is a pervasive belief that Roths are somehow a better place …

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Do-It-Yourself Estate Planning

Benjamin Franklin famously noted that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Death and taxes. Two of our least favorite topics — also two of the most inevitable. In keeping with the generally upbeat mood at this blog, I rarely focus on either of these morbid subjects. But, …

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My Income Taxes: 2014

Are taxes going to be your single biggest financial concern in retirement? A ravenous velociraptor stalking your financial security? Many pundits say so. Or, are taxes just another expense, and by no means your largest one? Despite their scary reputation, I don’t worry about taxes much. I laid out the reasons why — my political …

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Frugal Home Renovation: Kitchens, Bathrooms and More…

Home expenses might be your single most important decision variable on the road to financial freedom. Buying and maintaining a home that’s bigger or more luxurious than you need, is one of the most common detours along that road. The amount of money typically spent on a large trophy home, especially if you must hire …

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Having Kids vs. Retiring Earlier

How does raising children impact the journey to financial independence? If you choose to have a family, does that mean you’ll be working forever? Does electing to have no kids, or fewer kids, supercharge your way to wealth? And, should the desire for early financial independence even play into decisions about if and how many …

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Renting vs. Buying: The True Cost of Home Ownership

Rent or buy? We’re about to choose a new home in a new location. So the question of renting vs. buying has come to the foreground for us again. Whether you’re newlyweds starting out, a middle-age couple downsizing, or seniors contemplating retirement communities, you too will likely need to evaluate the economics of renting vs. …

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Short-Term Housing

I’ve always been leery of owning two homes at once. I’ve heard too many stories of people stretched thin between two properties — trying to sell their previous home while setting up life in the new one. The costs of maintaining a second, empty residence can be punishing. So, when we put our house on …

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Living Efficiently in a Small RV

Travel is a big part of retirement for many, but it can be expensive. Owning a small RV is one good solution for traveling relatively cheaply in retirement. House swapping and off-season journeys are others. However you do it, developing your own personal angle for reducing travel costs is an essential part of retiring on …

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How We Sold Our House in 24 Hours

It’s true. We’ve downsized, and it happened fast. Our house was listed last month, late on a Tuesday evening. Early Wednesday morning, while packing to be out of town for a week, we started getting phone calls. By the time we left for the airport after noon, a half-dozen showings were scheduled. Late in the …

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Protecting Your Assets in a Digital World

As anybody who has made progress along the road to financial independence knows, building wealth doesn’t make all your problems go away or automatically bestow peace of mind. Along with increasing financial assets come inevitable concerns about protecting what you have. And in today’s digital world, the rules and techniques for ensuring financial safety have …

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How to Buy a Used Car

We’re in the market for another vehicle in our family and, though it hasn’t always been the case, it will almost surely be a used one. I confess we’ve bought our share of new vehicles over the years, back when we had more money than time, and before I knew better. And that wasn’t a …

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Why I Don’t Fret About Taxes

On either side of the aisle these days, it’s not politically correct to be ambivalent about taxes. If you lean to the left, you’re supposed to feel the tax code should be more progressive, that taxes should be higher on the wealthy and on corporations. And if you lean to the right, you’re supposed to …

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Retirement Savings Vehicles: What Do You Drive?

A primary rule of retiring earlier is to “live below your means” — spend less than you take in. An unavoidable conclusion is that you’ll have money left over. So what do you do with that? Where do you put it? The first, second, and third thing to know about saving is just do it. …

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Luxury or Essential?

It’s safe to say that most of us in line to become financially independent or retire early do not lead lives of luxury. For example, I shave with bar soap, buy socks at Walmart, don’t pay for cable, and still don’t own a Smartphone. I’m just a life-long cheapskate who’s been privileged to splurge in …

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8 Tips for Saving Big and Retiring Earlier

A key aspect of financial independence and retiring early is controlling your expenses. While developing your career to earn more gives you powerful leverage over the retirement equation, saving more is a simple strategy that you can apply every day. Living cheaply is easy once you get in the habit. But it does require some …

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Choosing a Compact RV or Camper for Retirement Travel

An article I posted a while back about our solution for cheap retirement travel — a small RV — continues to receive a lot of traffic…. Nearly 10% of U.S. households own an RV of some sort, and the number is rising. Of households that don’t own an RV, almost 15% express some interest in …

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Larceny and Road Kill: Self-Insuring Revisited

It’s only human to form opinions based on experience. But reality often conspires to modify our views. When things don’t go as expected, I find it’s best to study what went wrong, refine your thinking, and keep moving ahead. I recently re-learned that lesson.… We just completed a 6-week, 5,000-mile road trip from the Southeast …

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What is Your Personal Rate of Inflation?

Inflation is often seen as the termite of the financial world. Gnawing away at your assets over long periods of time, it’s an insidious threat. Hard to detect over short time frames, it can seriously damage your assets over the long term, robbing your portfolio of much of its growth, and crippling your purchasing power. …

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