Resources

Please know that as a longtime writer I’m a big believer in paying the artist. But to keep this blog free to you, I’ve joined several affiliate programs. I may collect a small commission if you click on a link and/or buy a product I’ve listed. However, buying something through my links will NEVER cost you a cent. Finally, if I don’t believe in it, you won’t see it. Thanks!


Software:

In the twenty-five years since I started the FI/ER journey, I’ve spent a gadzilious number of hours testing and using most of the financial management software out there.

Compared to Excel, Quicken, and Mint, I chose Personal Capital for form/function, reliability, and accuracy.

Click on the image at left to create an account, or read my in-depth review here.


My family considers Amazon Prime to be an invaluable DIY, frugality, and cost-cutting tool.

In 2016 I estimate that our family saved AT LEAST several hundred bucks through our Amazon Prime membership. Three reasons:

I do as much of our appliance repair as I can. With Prime I can have competitively-priced parts at my door in two days. This saves us days if not weeks of hand-washing dishes, trips to the laundromat (and the corresponding $$$), as well as service call price-gouging.

Prime Video helped us cut the cable and keeps us out of movie theaters. In the past year we’ve watched Downtown Abbey, Thunderbirds are Go, Sneaky Pete, The Good Wife, Deadwood, and others. Many many many hours of entertainment for $99 a year–cheaper than Hulu and Netflix.

I read one free Prime-eligible Kindle book each month. There are hundreds of thousands to choose from.

So do yourself a favor. I STRONGLY encourage you to try a free thirty-day trial by clicking here.

 


Trim: instant rebates on purchases.

Trim’s essentially a free auto-coupon service with a twist: instead of product discounts you get instant rebates in certain spending categories. I researched it and got curious enough to set up an account, and ended up for the most part being glad I did.

It works like so. When you set up an account at Trim and log in, you first need to link up your Visa cards. (And only Visa…Trim doesn’t work with any others.) Trim then shows you a number of savings offers based on your spending.

Right now I’m participating in three of Trim’s categorical promotions: groceries, restaurants, and movie theaters. Anytime I meet the minimum spend in one of these categories, I get a kickback.

So for starters, I’ll get back a buck every time between now and July 30th when I spend $5+ at grocery stores or restaurants.

Those aren’t big rebates…but the drips of money are automatic and they add up soon enough. We hit the grocery store once or twice a week on average, and since my wife and I have date nights, we might eat out as much as four or five times a month. So there’s fifteen or twenty bucks already.

The best promotion for us, though, is the movie theater rebate of $10 on a $20+ spend. When combined with our Stubs membership (it’s an AMC movie theater rewards thing, blah blah blah)–we rarely go to the movies for less than half off full retail, and occasionally for free.

Like I said, Trim’s essentially free money. Click here to set up an account!


Must-read finance books

  • For anyone who survived the housing bubble and subsequent financial crisis, and/or is still feeling the repercussions of it, Michael Lewis’s The Big Short will put everything into context for you and will completely change your view of financial markets.

 

  • Likewise, Lewis’s Liar’s Poker will open your eyes to the corruption of the 1980s bond markets. It now seems prescient given the dot com and housing bubbles–a real “Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it” story.

 

  • Ben Graham’s The Intelligent Investor is the seminal work for prospective and veteran investors alike. His common-sense approach to value-based stockpicking changed the game,
    especially for this next guy:

 

  • Warren Buffet. What can you say about him that hasn’t been said? In The Essays of Warren Buffet you’ll find the collected wisdom and experience that’s made him, in my opinion, the greatest investor on the planet.

 


  • If you’re in financial trouble or just looking to establish a sounder financial footing, I recommend Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover. While Ramsey himself may be a controversial figure, apply his step-by-step approach and you’ll have a solid foundation on which to build your financial independence.

Biography/Autobiography

Geniuses fascinate me. These three biographical/autobiographical works are among the most important inspirations in my life.

Steve Jobs, called by some the world’s biggest asshole, is a penetrating look into a sharp and ruthless…OK, let’s call him a “genius.” I’m sitting in a coffeeshop as I’m writing this, and from the couch where I’m sitting I count eleven Apple products.

 

 

A modern map of the Arabian Peninsula still reflects the vision and guiding hand of T.E. Lawrence,” Lawrence of Arabia.” Seven Pillars of Wisdom is his blow-by-blow account of uniting the warring Bedouin tribes to expel their Turkish overlords during WWI.

 

 

 

Desert Solitaire. Edward Abbey. It’s tough to choose one of his many books as “the best,” but I certainly found this one to be the most inspirational.

 

 

 


General nonfiction

Fiction


Resume Critiquing, or How I Landed a Great Job

During my career I circulated dozens and dozens of my own resumes and evaluated hundreds from people who wanted me to hire them. Let me tell you: I tossed a lot of these resumes straight into the trash on the theory that if someone couldn’t put at least a minimum of effort into coming up with a professional resume, I couldn’t depend on them to put in the proper effort at work, either.

To help maximize your chances of getting that new job, I can offer you a great resume critique for a reasonable price. For more info email me at EarlyRetirementDude@gmail.com.


General Fun…

I love bicycle touring and backpacking and car camping. My favorite gear includes these three things:

-The ALPS Mountaineering Lynx 1-Person Tent. Weighs practically nothing, folds up into practically nothing, and costs practically nothing–or something like $90, anyway, which might sound expensive, but compare that to the Big Agnes one-persons in the $300-$400 range that aren’t, IMO,  any better in terms of quality or performance.

 

The Sawyer PointOne Squeeze water filter. One time on a trip I contracted some kind of atomic gut-blasting dysentery-esque GI tract woe, and I’m convinced it was for lack of proper water filtration. Many many many gallons through this thing, however, and no problems. None expected.

 

The Etekcity Ultralight Stove. I eat fat city on trips, which means for years I’ve had to lug around stoves that weigh, like, nine pounds and cost, after currency exchange, sixty. But I ran across this thing and decided to give it a shot, and liked it. Give how light it is, it’s not as durable as some, but at this price point if one should fail you just recycle the metal and tear a new one off the roll.

OK…that’s the fun…so let’s move along to more fun.

6 thoughts

  1. I read the book about Steve Jobs. I liked it too. I would recommend the biography of Benjamin Franklin by the same author. I like that Franklin did many different things. A very smart guy and a Founding Father of our country.

  2. I don’t think it’s wrong for you to make money of these offers, I do think however for full disclosure you should mention that you make money of these offers if somebody buys through these links.
    People won’t be angry if you are upfront and honest, but if you don’t mention it it comes across as a bit shady.

  3. I want to see you add Barbarians at the Gate to the list…

    I think we’re starting to see round two of this, passive indexing is leading to the rise of the activist investors attacking lazy management. I want to crack a beer and watch from the sidelines

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