11 Sep

Making Money With Airbnb in Asheville, NC

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?

Read More

23 Jan

Bruno & Co.’s 2016 Spending

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!??

Read More

18 Dec

News Alert: Credit Card Companies Are Making It Rain

flat800x800075f-u2

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.

Read More

13 Nov

Somehow Trump Got Elected – Should We Move Back to Canada?

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.

pic-donald-trump-as-fat-lady-pic-1024x652

Read More

06 Oct

The Honest Truth: You May Want More Than $1M Before Retiring

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.

crw_7666

Blue Ridge Mountains in October

Read More

25 Jul

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Material Possessions

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.

CRW_7299-2

Read More

27 Jun

The Impossibility of Early Retirement

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:

msn_comments_1

Read More

08 Jun

An Idea for Retirement: Painting A Mural

I’ve wanted to paint a mural for a number of years. While I actually made some progress on this mission while living in Oakland, CA, it turned out the spot I wanted to paint was a freeway underpass and I ran into serious permitting issues. On top of that, who the hell has time for painting a mural when working a full-time job? Ultimately I threw in the towel.

Now that we’re in the artist-embracing city of Asheville, NC, what better time to accomplish my dream of painting a mural! Since we’ve bought a house, but can’t actually move in until July 1st, I’ve got plenty of spare time on my hands.

CRW_7235

Read More

16 May

The Day We Watched $270,000 Leave Our Bank Account

As early as 2007 I can remember Travis saying he wanted to live somewhere with more trees. We were living in Calgary, Alberta at the time, where the Great Plains of North America meet the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. We set our sights on Northern California and thoroughly enjoyed our time there until just last year. 10 months of traveling southbound into the jungle climates of Central America taught us that we longed for cooler temperatures – but not long winters. Say hello to our newest friends: the trees of the Appalachian Mountains of Eastern North America!

CRW_7156

Read More

25 Apr

Our First Year of Early Retirement

A year ago our portfolio hit $1 Million and we quit our jobs, packed up Bruno the 4Runner, and began our journey driving south from California to Costa Rica. The following twelve months became the best of my life to-date, hands down! So now that it’s been a whole year – how much money did we end up spending, and how well did our portfolio survive?

IMG_20141005_121335

Our last camping trip in the San Francisco Bay Area (on Angel Island) before quitting our jobs and driving south into Mexico.

Read More

14 Mar

Hunting for the Best Early Retirement City

Without a job dictating where we’ll live, we’re able to develop our own criteria. We’d like to live somewhere with a happening downtown core, reasonable cost of living, good weather, bike friendly, open-minded people, decent public schools, and lots of nice trees. Quite the list, right? For our 50th post and the one-year anniversary of this blog, we’re sharing our hunt for a U.S. city to settle down in, with Bruno of course. A place to hang our hat until the next trip starts to take shape.

asheville2

Asheville, NC (Joe Franklin)

Read More

10 Nov

Bruno’s Path to Financial Freedom

Hi everyone, Amanda and Travis here! We’re a young couple in our early thirties and we saved $1,000,000, quit our jobs, and began our journey of financial independence. We planned our first big adventure: driving from California to Costa Rica. We bought a used 2000 Toyota 4Runner and aptly named him Bruno. We fixed him up so that we could sleep in the back, then we hit the road to camp and travel our way through Central America!

costa_rica_river_cross

Crossing a river with Bruno (our Toyota 4Runner) near Sámara, Costa Rica!

Read More

21 Oct

Six Months of Early Retirement

Back in March, everything was coming together nicely: we had reached our financial goal of $1M, quit our jobs and cleared out our two-story rental home in Oakland using Craigslist. We had successfully purchased and fixed up Bruno – our used 2000 Toyota 4Runner, and we started driving down to Costa Rica from California. It’s now six months later and in this post I’ll answer such questions as: Have you run out of money yet? What do you do in Costa Rica? and Did Bruno break down and fail you yet?

Playa Pelada, Costa Rica

Playa Pelada, Costa Rica – This is our beach, a two-minute walk from our back yard!

Read More

12 Aug

50 Best US Cities for Early Retirement

Upon becoming financially independent, we decided to move away from the expensive San Francisco Bay Area. Although we’re currently enjoying life in Costa Rica, we will soon be driving Bruno back up to the US and need to figure out which cities are good candidates for living in.

To help us make this decision, I wanted to see which US cities have the lowest cost of living, are considered somewhat liberal, and also have mild winters.

Read More

24 Jul

Early Retirement With Zero Income Taxes

Everyone loves taxes, and now that we’re traveling the world and no longer going to work everyday, what better time to plan for our future income taxes?

After years of working hard at our careers, we were curious to see how much of our previous income we’ve already paid to income taxes. Here is a table showing our income and taxes over the last seven years:

Year Income (AGI) Federal Tax CA State Tax Total Tax Paid Effective Tax Rate
2008 $177,863 $26,290 $11,445 $37,735 21.22%
2009 $158,857 $26,192 $9,713 $35,905 22.60%
2010 $146,863 $23,407 $8,574 $31,981 21.78%
2011 $149,305 $24,775 $8,229 $33,004 22.11%
2012 $207,581 $38,892 $13,507 $52,399 25.24%
2013 $204,718 $38,241 $13,729 $51,970 25.39%
2014 $234,992 $43,428 $16,368 $59,796 25.45%
Total $1,280,179 $221,225 $81,565 $302,790 23.65%

Read More