With the glorious help of credit card churning, Amanda and I (and now our 1 Year Old Kiddo) made another trip to Europe this summer and we had a splendid trip soaking in the beauty of these cities: Oslo, Vienna, Prague, Berlin, Copenhagen. Our total out of pocket cost for the entire 2-month trip was around $2,040. We run a tight ship here!
We did it folks – another full orbit around the wonderful star at the center of our Solar System! Considering humans haven’t achieved immortality (yet), we only have a limited number of these sweet orbits to experience. Thus, I try to remind myself on a regular basis that life is short and one should carpe diem the shit out of each and every year.
Twenty Eighteen was one hell of a year for us. We traveled to Canada for a month in the winter, traveled to Europe for 3 months in the Spring while Amanda was pregnant, and then successfully added another human to planet Earth in late August. A wild experience!
The year ended with stock markets down about 6%, but for most of the year our total portfolio was floating pretty high around $1,300,000. In this post we’ll break down the super detailed specifics of our expenses for the last two years!
Alright folks, it’s time for another mural! After painting my first mural two years ago, I’ve been on the hunt for the ideal location for painting my next one. I found the perfect spot in my neighborhood and proceeded to harass the building owner for months until he finally gave me permission. I’m offering to paint a mural for free, but this guy still hummed and hawed – insane. Now, before reading any further, please consider the following question: How many hours do you think it took for a doofus amateur like myself to paint this big beautiful two color mural?
Amanda and I have really enjoyed the start of our “3 Months in Europe” trip. We loved our time in Lisbon and now we’ve just had the wonderful pleasure of spending two weeks in Barcelona. This being my first time to Europe, I can’t help being truly wowed by how well designed the cities are. My overall experience in Barcelona left me wondering: Dang, why can’t American cities be this delightfully livable!?
Ohh Early Retirement, you make every day feel like a Saturday: the day of freedom, the day of sleeping in, the day of doing whatever one’s precious heart desires. Do you feel like going for a bike ride? Maybe you’ll go to a Pilates class, do laps at the local pool, or if you’re really up to it: lift some weights! Do you have any lofty dreams or life aspirations? Maybe indulge yourself in a few puffs of some legal cannabis, play some wonderful music and think about it.
Recommended lofty dream: Make yourself an avocado-kale-banana-berry-protein powder smoothie (ahh, so delicious and healthy)!
We’ve mentioned several times about our foray into the world of hosting strangers in our home overnight; this phenomenon made popular by the online company Airbnb. But how lucrative has it been for us? Over this Labor Day weekend, we hosted a group of five 50 year old guys who were in town for a soccer tournament. They paid us $930 to stay in our basement suite for three nights and were close to perfect guests. Money is certainly the upside, but what are the downsides?
As with any travel adventure, you often see the best and the worst of people. We heard strangers giving words of encouragement on a difficult hike in the snow. People picking up litter out of the goodness of their hearts (this was usually Travis) or giving a jump to someone on the side of the road. On the flip side, we witnessed road rage (sometimes Amanda’s) and pure unkindness towards fellow man (to which Travis left a note asking to “help make America great again” by not stealing other people’s parking spots). Bruno had an unfortunate run-in with a bozo, but remains optimistic about the future.
“That’s so Yellowstone” could be heard several times inside Bruno over the last few days in Wyoming. We had a marvelous time in the Jackson Hole Valley: beautiful free campsites and snow hikes in Grand Teton National Park. Further north we encountered a buncha crazy Yellowstoners in Los Angeles-level gridlock. Technically not gridlock. It was Bison-lock.
Bryce Canyon National Park is smaller and more subtle than its Park neighbors. What grabs you is the varying shades of rust color and how fragile it all seems. Over in Zion Canyon, we experienced our first taste of Disneyland – National Park style. Most memorable was hiking 4 miles up a river through a narrow canyon. We then finished off our tour of Utah by gettin’ down with The Book of Mormon. We’re impressed!
Off-roading is one of Bruno’s great loves and something I had been looking forward to on this trip. Southeastern Utah is where we let it all hang loose! And speaking of, we’ve been seeing a lot of Smokey Bear signs along the road. If there’s one thing we’re learning, it’s that Smokey doesn’t like shirts. He only likes pants. Dislikes shoes and absolutely no socks.
Well, it took us all of four days to complete the horizontal leg of our trip. We reached the Rio Grande in Albuquerque, New Mexico and set out to follow it northbound. Since our trip to Central America, we’ve significantly improved our camping arsenal. We added a secondhand tent, propane fuel burner, and killer Klymet Static V air mattresses. Swapping our 12V refrigerator for a plastic cooler alleviates auxiliary battery headaches, but requires constant monitoring of the ice situation. After a few days, our food tends to float like a raft on Tennessee’s Ocoee River…
He’s adopted a sedentary lifestyle for the past year and made an asphalt driveway his home. He’s hauled lumber, rocks, mulch, and our sorry asses around town, but Bruno the 4Runner hasn’t gone more than 450 miles from home in over a year. He was proud to roll us over to the Women’s March on Washington back in January, but we didn’t even camp! All Bruno’s dreams are about to come true, as we pack up to leave NorCar for the summer.
GREAT SUCCESS!! Four days ago I set out to cut a giant hole in the back of the house. This project was a mother-expletive-deleted and involved questionable ethics of a sliding patio door purchase. We started with this:
2016 was a big year for us! We finished touring Mexico with Bruno, hunted for the Best Early Retirement City and decided to buy a house with cash in Asheville, North Carolina. At the end of the year, we found a wonderful house-sitter who cared for our foster cat – Fluffles – and also managed our Airbnb reservations while we traveled to Canada and spent one month with family. In this post, we’ll do a total financial breakdown of our spending and income for the year 2016. In short: Are we broke yet!??
It’s no secret that people who struggle with credit card debt are making executives and shareholders rich. For some reason, these credit card companies are also using these profits to give away free money to people who sign up for certain credit cards. All you need is a good credit rating and the ability (read: willingness) to spend $4000 on the card in a period of three months.
Normally I try to avoid political issues on this blog, but given the seriousness of the political nightmare that is currently unfolding in the US, I feel compelled to share some thoughts. There is a general feeling down here that the inmates have taken over the asylum and I think we all need to talk about it. Whether you’re a classic liberal, conservative, libertarian, or progressive – I think we all feel uneasy about what just happened.
Bruno the Blog may be suffering from neglect, but Bruno the 4Runner is still proving his unlimited worth! What’s kept us away from the blog, you ask? Well, we’ve sufficiently finished our indoor repairs to dabble with hosting Airbnb guests. This lucrative side hustle will definitely show its impact in year-end financial posts. The arrival of Amanda’s parents at the end of August also kicked off the marathon work project that is “landscaping”.
We were pretty confident that $1M would be more than enough to retire on. All our research indicated that it should be pretty straight forward with just a bit of self discipline and smart money management. After all, for the most part, all one needs to do is live in a city with a reasonable cost of living, right? Well, for Amanda and I, it turns out that this advice is easier said than done.
July in the South East is hot hot hot. You would think that spending 8 months in Central America would have prepared us for the heat and humidity of the Carolinas… not so. I’m still melting. Another confession: I never read the classic Financial Independence book: Your Money Or Your Life! I was able to fit it in around the new home renovations and hiking with our friends: some of the four-legged variety that we check out of the local adoption center for a fun day out.
The front page of MSN.com recently featured an article titled How this couple saved $1 million and retired in their 30s. Bruno was happy with this, since it’s always a great opportunity to potentially inspire and encourage new readers about financial independence. However, unbeknownst to Bruno, the posting of this article also turned out to be a poking stick that gently nudged a hornets nest. The incalculable fury of two notorious internet gangs was henceforth invoked. They call themselves The Doomers and The Denialists and upon reading about Bruno, they conspired to join forces and unleash a rainbow of disgruntled comments online. Tighten your internet seat belts folks, shit’s about to get serious.
It started with The Denialists tap-dancing all over the comment section of the MSN article, dropping such golden denial nuggets as: