Fiersprinkler is Moving to Burrito Bowl Diaries

http://BurritoBowlDiaries.com come over and say hi

Hey guys, just wanted to give you a quick update.  We are moving Fiersprinkler and rebranding as Burrito Bowl Diaries.

You can find our new blog at http://BurritoBowlDiaries.com

Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/burritobowldiaries

Follow us on Twitter @MrBurritoBowl

I really appreciate everyone who’s been following the blog over the last year!  Come over to Burrito Bowl Diaries!  It will be real fun.  Everyone is doing it.

If you come sign up for our Newsletter and say you came from Fiersprinkler you’ll be entered twice to win a copy of my book The Adventures of Gunnar McGregor- A Romance Novel

See you there!

Advertisements

5 Life Lessons Shooting Water up my Nose Taught me

In 2016 I became stuffed up in one nostril.  It didn’t go away. In fact, it kept getting worse. After about 6 months, and several discussions trying to convince my wife I did not in fact have allergies that only affected one nostril, we went to the doctor.

I did not have allergies.  What I had was a pulip the size of a golf ball growing in my nasal cavity.  Super not fun.

We scheduled surgery for a few months later.  We had a honeymoon in Thailand coming up and didn’t want me to be recovering from surgery on our honeymoon. Plus it made getting my underwater diving certificate more interesting having a blockage that made it impossible for me to equalize.

I eventually had the pulip removed.  From now on, once per day, I have to shoot salt water mixed with budesonine up my nose to make sure the pulip doesn’t grow back. It’s not particularly fun but it isn’t too bad once you’re used to it.  It’s just a small annoyance like putting contacts in.

Being forced to consistently do this uncomfortable ritual has taught me a few lessons that translate into life in general and our journey to reach financial independence.

  1. Consistency is key- Consistency is the key to not having to go through that f**king surgery again.  I can’t just shoot a bunch of water up my nose one day and then nothing else the rest of the week.  The same goes with managing our money.  It’s an everyday occurrence.  We can’t just be really good about packing a lunch one day and then eating out every other day.  If you want to reach your goals, whether they are physical, mental, or financial you need to be consistent.  You can’t just go to the gym one day and work out for 7 hours and skip the rest of the month.
  2. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure- Going through the post-surgery recovery was one of the worst experiences of my life.  It felt like there was a hole in the middle of my head that I couldn’t reach.  I felt like slamming my face into the counter just so I could feel the sensation of pain somewhere that I could touch.   Irrigating my nasal passages everyday is annoying but not nearly as painful as having to go through that surgery and recovery again.  The same is true with finances.  It’s annoying to set up retirement accounts or transfer over your old 401k or consistently save part of your paycheck but not nearly as painful as ignoring it and finding out too late in the game that you aren’t prepared for retirement.
  3. Don’t wait to fix small problems- I knew something was up with my nasal cavity but I was busy at work and didn’t want to make an appointment.  What was once a small polyp grew into a huge polyp.  I suffered through months of waking up panicking in the night because I couldn’t breath.  My mouth would be dry and I felt like I was drowning. Don’t wait to fix small problems with your finances.  Maybe you have an advisor who is charging you a fee but it’s not that big of a fee and you don’t have that much money invested.  Fix the problem now while it’s manageable.  Don’t wait until you’ve wasted decades of investment returns being eaten up by fees or bad investments.
  4. The more you do something uncomfortable the easier it becomes- When I irrigate my nose every day it only takes a few minutes.  It isn’t painful and I hardly mind the sensation of water shooting up and around my nasal passages.  When I don’t do it for a few days it becomes much harder to start again.  My passages get a little clogged and the sensation of water feels a little more foreign.  Once you start doing something difficult like getting in shape or eating out less or picking up more hours it’s hard at first.  The more you do it the more you get used to doing it and it becomes easier.  Start now.  Find a few easy ways you can improve your health or finances or happiness and start doing them consistently.  If you fall off the horse don’t bemoan the fact that you messed up, just get back on the horse.
  5. Don’t waste time regretting your situation- I could spend my days wallowing in self pity that I have to irrigate my nose.  It looks ridiculous and feels weird.  Who irrigates their nose?! But I’m don’t wallow.   I could be mad at myself for not going to the doctor sooner.  Maybe this irrigation situation could have been avoided.  I don’t beat myself up about what might have been.  I look at the bright side.  Doing this daily irrigation keeps me polyp free and gets me into a routine.  In a small way it’s easier to find other things I can do everyday because I have this one thing that I HAVE to do everyday.  Maybe you have a debt situation you have to deal with.  Don’t constantly beat yourself up about it. It is what it is.  Move on. Be proud of yourself for attacking the situation now rather than being disappointed with yourself for being in this spot.

Those are 5 lessons I’ve learned by shooting water up my nose.  I hope my misfortune can be your gain.

If you enjoy my articles please ‘like’ and follow along and be sure to share this blog with your friends and enemies.

5 Ways I keep in my Wardrobe in Check and Why

Last week I posted an article about how I avoid decision fatigue by structuring out my mornings.  One aspect of that is my wardrobe.  I love my wardrobe.  I love my wardrobe because I have very little in it and I only wear what fits the best and is the most comfortable. If it isn’t comfortable or doesn’t go with everything else I’ve pretty much gotten rid of it.

Cool story, bro, what’s your point? 

The reason I’m saying this is because I’ve been doing some thinking lately on how to avoid bad days.  You can’t avoid them entirely but having a comfortable wardrobe that doesn’t cause you to make a bunch of unnecessary decisions to start your day certainly helps.

We all have that one pair of jeans that doesn’t quite fit right but you paid good money for them so you wear them every once in a while.  They aren’t comfortable but you don’t want to get rid of practically new jeans.

Get rid of them! I got rid of every bit of clothing I don’t love to wear.  By doing this I never have days where I’m uncomfortable and I never feel overwhelmed trying to decide what to wear.  I never get stuck wearing an outfit that doesn’t fit or isn’t comfortable because all of my clothes are comfortable.  Focus on buying fewer but higher quality clothes rather than accumulating a closet full of clothes that are cheap and uncomfortable.

  1. I have one pair of nice jeans and one pair of work jeans-  Once my nice jeans start to wear out I convert them to work jeans.  Usually by that time my work jeans are pretty thrashed and I convert them to a back-up pair of work jeans or I just get rid of them.  I don’t ever have to think about which jeans go with which shirt the best.  I have a nice pair and a work pair.  They are both super comfortable and go with everything.  I buy Joe’s Jeans from Nordstrom’s Rack but I see Amazon has them as well.  They are a little spendy at around $80 but I wear them all the way out.  I would rather have 2 pairs of perfectly fitting jeans that cost a total of $160 rather than spend the same amount of money and have 6+ pairs jeans ranging from cheap and uncomfortable to fairly expensive and tolerable.
  2. I almost exclusively wear the same brand of t-shirts- Once or twice a year I go onto Amazon and buy several Next Level t-shirts.  They come out to around $6/shirt and are the most comfortable t-shirts I’ve ever worn.  Like my jeans, I keep my newer shirts nice and my older shirts are converted to work shirts.
  3. I only buy Calvin Klein Cotton Stretch Underwear- This might by too much information but nothing ruins a day faster than an uncomfortable pair of underwear.  It doesn’t matter how stretchy your jeans are if your underwear bunches up into your nether regions.  Calvin Klein Cotton Stretch underwear fits me well.  I’ve bought other brands that are basically the same but they don’t fit quite right.  I’m still working on finding the most comfortable pair of socks but I’ve got the underwear thing handled.  I have one nice pair and one…just kidding. I have lots of underwear, in case that was about to be a concern.  I’m not an underwear minimalist.  However, I did recently have to get rid of several pairs of brand new underwear that I ashamedly bought because they were cheaper than the Calvin Kleins.  Predictably they weren’t nearly as comfortable.  The sunk cost fallacy made me keep them for way longer than I should have.
  4. I keep my dress shirts to a minimum- I don’t need to dress up very often so why keep around 10 different dress shirts.  I have one nice comfortable white dress shirt for real formal occasions and one light blue dress shirt for less formal, but still button up, occasions.  This is borderline one too many dress shirts. Both my dress shirts fit my body well.  They aren’t boxy or too long and they aren’t stiff or too tight.  They fit really well and are very comfortable.  Again, for the same amount of money, I’d rather have one or two nice dress shirts than 10 ill-fitting dress shirts.
  5. If I find myself dreading wearing a particular article of clothing I get rid of it-  It’s a micro-stress but it’s still a stress.  I kept a flannel shirt for several years because it looked good.  I never wore it because the buttons would always come undone and it wasn’t very comfortable.  It was nice and new though so I kept it around.  It didn’t take up much space and I had room for it but whenever I looked at it I would feel bad that I didn’t wear it more often.

I admit this is much easier for a guy but ladies the same theory still applies. I know you may not be able to get away with one pair of jeans but do you really need 47 t-shirts of various shades of yellow stuffed into your dresser?  Do you often find yourself trying to get dressed but you’ve got a Netflix amount of options to choose from?

Unchain yourself from an overcrowded wardrobe full of clothing you’d rather not wear.  Get rid of everything that isn’t your favorite and see how much less stressful getting dressed can be.

What are some of your go-to brands of clothes that make up your wardrobe?  Bonus points for pointing me towards ultra-comfortable socks.

As always, if you like my writing please ‘like’ and share this article with your friends and enemies.

 

7 Things I do Every Morning to Avoid Decision Fatigue and 3 Things I’ve Cut out- The Importance of Morning Routines

As a young lad I had no set morning routine.  My alarm would go off and I would lay there trying to figure out what my first move would be…well, my first move after hitting the snooze button…several times.

I remember it being so hard to wake up early.  SO HARD. It didn’t really matter what hour ‘early’ fell into.  If I needed an alarm it counted as early and it was hard.

Fast-forward to today as a spritely 31 5/6 year old I am much more adept at waking up early.  I routinely have to wake up around 5:40am, or as I would have called it in my younger years, ‘the middle of the blankety-blank night.’

It’s so much easier to wake up now than it was when I was a youth.  Part of this is my body isn’t going through some alien growth puberty thing the other part is I have morning routines.  My morning routine seems simplistic and probably ends up looking similar to most people’s morning routines.  The main difference is I’ve purposely cut out almost every decision I have to make.  This saves me from decision fatigue and keeps me from being paralyzed in bed. I do my routine in the same order every day.  I don’t have to decide whether I want to get dressed first or make coffee first.  The decision has already been made.

  1. 5:40am- We wake up earlier than we have to- We have to leave the house by 6:40am everyday.  We don’t decide once our alarm goes off if we want to sleep in until 10 minutes before we have to leave.  We wake up at 5:40am so that we can start our day off relaxed and not rushed.  It’s going to be just as hard to wake up at 5:40am as it will be to wake up at 6:30am.  The difference is whether our day starts off rushed and stressful or relaxed.  People who hate mornings tend to sleep until they are scrambling to make it to work on time.  They haven’t built anything enjoyable into the beginning of their day.  No wonder they hate mornings.
  2. 5:41am- First step is coffee and tea- Every morning when I first wake up a stumble into the kitchen and prepare french press coffee for myself and tea for my wife.  Having this first activity is crucial because I don’t have to think or make a decision. I make coffee.  Every day.  It doesn’t matter what else is going on that day.  My first step is to wake up and make coffee/tea.
  3.  5:50am- Next step is to get back in bed and check my email- I always read The Skimm (a daily quick news rundown) first followed by whatever financial articles I subscribe to look the best.  Again, no decisions.  I don’t get back in bed and wonder what I should do.  I read The Skimm.  I don’t even decide whether I want to read The Skimm first or a financial article.  The Skimm comes first, everyday.  By the time I’ve finished the The Skimm I’m finally awake enough to make my first decision of the day- What financial article should I read?
  4. 6:20am- I get up and make my wife breakfast- She has to be at work before me and she likes eating breakfast so I usually make her some type of burrito bowl thing while she’s getting ready.  I don’t have to think about whether or not I feel like making her breakfast that day.  I just do it.  It’s part of my daily routine. Twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time for me to be finishing up making her breakfast just when it’s time to leave.  I don’t even have to think about when I should start making her breakfast. 6:20am.
  5. 6:39am- I download Up First It’s daily 10-minute podcast going over yesterdays news.  It’s a lot like The Skimm but they cover different topics and it’s good to see issues from more than one viewpoint.
  6. 6:40am- We get in the car and I take my wife to work- She eats her breakfast while I drive. I drop here off and play Up First.  I don’t even have to decide what I want to listen to on my short commute back from dropping her off.
  7. 7:00am- I get back home and am ready to start making harder decisions- I’ve now been awake for about an hour and half.  Even at this point I try to keep my decisions as easy as possible. I usually either take a quick shower, read or write a blog article, do a quick 10-Minute workout or get dressed and go to work.  None of those decisions take a lot of brain power and the world won’t end if I choose one or over the other.

Structuring my mornings this way makes my day so much easier.  Each item looks inconsequential but together they start my day off easy and consistent.  The important thing for me, a person who isn’t naturally a morning person, is to eliminate as many decisions from those first couple hours of the day as I can.

Each decision we make takes up brain power and weighs us down slightly.  Even the smallest decisions are like adding another sheet of paper on top of us.  By itself one decision won’t paralyze you but added all together it’s overwhelming and causes you to just want to stay in bed.

A couple other points about my routine.  I start off with some things I like, coffee then article reading.  I don’t wake up and first second out of bed start doing push-ups or something else that I will dread and want to make up an excuse for why I can’t do it on that particular day.  I always want coffee.  It’s not a line item I have to get done it’s something I want to get done.

I can’t stress enough how much easier it is to roll out of bed when my mind isn’t scrambling trying to figure out my next move.

Additionally here are 3 things I’ve eliminated from my mornings to make them easier:

  1. Weekdays I take my coffee black- I do this because I practice Intermittent Fasting. I don’t sit there and think about whether I want to put cream in my coffee today, and not fast during the morning, or whether I want fast.  If it’s a weekday I drink my coffee black.
  2. I don’t eat breakfast- Again, because I’m intermittent fasting.  I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat for breakfast and sit there trying to decide if I’m hungry enough to cook something or if I just want to eat some yogurt. I don’t eat breakfast on weekdays.  No decision to be made.
  3. I keep my work wardrobe small- This decision is part minimalism and part decision fatigue avoidance.  I only use one pair of work jeans, a couple pairs of work shorts and a handful of work t-shirts.

During the winter I have a few other work pants that I rotate in when my jeans are dirty, but during the summer my only decision is whether or not to wear jeans or shorts.  I have a bunch of similar shirts I wear for work, the only variation is the color.  Pretty much my only concern here is not wearing a short/shirt combo that clashes.  All my shirts go with my jeans and 90% of my shirts go with my shorts.

Granted I’m in the construction industry so I don’t have to look cute and match my outfits.  Not everyone can have their wardrobe be as small or as easy as mine but everyone can downsize their wardrobe.  Decision fatigue is a very real thing many of us are internally exhausted from making small insignificant decisions all morning before we even leave the house.

If you don’t already have one I highly recommend finding a morning routine that works for you.  It seems so unimportant but I promise it saves me so much unnecessary stress.

Be unwavering with your morning routine.  Plan out the first few minutes with something you will always want to do.  Wake up earlier than you have to so that you aren’t rushed. Eliminate as many small decisions as you can.

That’s my two-cents.  What are some of the things you use to make sure your day starts off on the right foot?  Let me know in the comments. (Full disclosure: I feel super dumb saying that but I want people to comment and share ideas.)

As always if you like my articles please ‘like’ them and share them with your friends and enemies.

Purchasing a Vehicle with Financial Independence in Mind- Part III

If you haven’t read Purchasing a Vehicle with Financial Independence in Mind- Part I AND Purchasing a Vehicle with Financial Independence in Mind- Part II then I recommend you read those before reading this. Unless you’re one of those people who likes to skip to the last page of the book and find out why it’s called Where the Red Fern Grows. 

I will from this point forward assume you have read Part I and Part II or are fine with spoilers.

Without further adieu here is what we decided to buy…

Ok some a little more adieu…

THE RUNNER-UP:

Coming in hot to take second place in our car search was a 2014 VW Jetta Sportswagen TDI.  This car came in out of left field for us.  It was a real dark horse.  A real underdog story if you will.  In the previous post I talked about the possibility of getting a VW Golf Sportswagen TDI but we found the older Jetta TDI’s to be much less expensive and a little bit larger.  At different times in our lives a smaller vehicle would have been preferable but the Jetta gave a few more inches in the backseat for whatever you want.  Like, I dunno, carrying a rear-facing car seat.

If you’re unfamiliar with VW vernacular the TDI means it’s a diesel.  The reason we almost bought this car was because the TDI’s are selling for much cheaper than the Kelly Blue Book price.  This is because a few years ago VW got in massive trouble for lying about the emissions their diesel cars were putting out.  The bad press has made buyers wary and has driven the price down.

We actually owned the sedan version of the Jetta TDI at the time.  The scandal itself was perfect for us because we really regretted buying such an expensive car.  Volkswagen got their hand slapped and had to buy back or fix all current TDI vehicles that had the emissions problem.  Ours was one of those so we were able to sell our car back to them for almost what we paid for it.

Fast-forward a few years and you can now get a used 2014 Sportswagen Jetta TDI with low miles for around $15,000.  We happen to not be in the camp of folk that feel like spending $15,000 for any vehicle so we weren’t interested…until

We found (we being my wife. I did no scouring of the internet.  I played Candy Crush while she looked over Craigslist and compared prices around the Northwest for countless hours) a 2014 Jetta TDI with under 60,000 miles for $12,900. Panoramic sunroof, check.  Navigation, check. Backup camera, check.  It was a white automatic with leather beige interior.  It checked all the boxes.

When you buy a certified VW from a VW dealership you also get a 2-year unlimited mile bumper to bumper warranty.  This peace of mind is a huge benefit when buying a used car because you never know what you’re going to get.

Ironically, the bumper to bumper warranty doesn’t cover the actual bumper which had a small amount of body damage that we saw in person that was not evident online.  We wondered why the car was $3,000 below the other similar models around.  It had a few other dings and scrapes.  Whoever was the previous owner was not great at avoiding objects despite the backup camera.  Still, it was a pretty good deal.

I did my best to negotiate down on account of the body damage and inside we went.  We sat there wide-eyed but wiser than we were a few years ago.  Back in a familiar VW dealership.  Everything about the car felt like a good deal comparatively.  As we talked with the sales guy he started getting my personal information.  My wife sat there as the memories of buying her new Jetta several years ago, and the regret she felt, started to pour in.

“I think we should go talk about this for a while,” she said.

We got up and went for a walk, talking about the pros and cons.  It should be a great car for a screaming deal.   We don’t really car about the body damage, we care about function.  In fact the body damage probably saved us several thousand dollars.  It would be a work vehicle for my business so we would be able to write it off on our taxes.  That doesn’t make it free but it certainly helps.

We had every reason to buy it.  It was nice.  Woooo that gas pedal was responsive.  Those features.  That leather.  That PANORAMIC SUNROOF!  Think of all the stars we could see under that thing.  It was a deal. It was more than a deal, it was THE deal.  We had the cash to buy it. No car payment.  We work so hard. I mean, we work kind of hard.  We deserve it!

But, it was still $12,900.  It was a more luxurious car than we were accustomed to by several notches, but it wasn’t the most practical car we could get for pursuing financial independence.

We told them we’d think about it and left.  We said to give us a call if they would be willing to go down to $11,500.  We knew they wouldn’t.

We drove the long road back to Portland.

The sun was setting as we cruised the freeway north.  We were a little sad to let that car go but we were happy to not have to deal with DMV, insurance and all the other headaches and monthly expenses that go along with a second vehicle.  The extra $12,900 still in our pockets didn’t hurt either.

“I’m just worried about making a bad decision,” she said with her usual amount of concern.

“This car isn’t so bad,” I said looking around at our dilapidated Honda Fit complete with stains, dust, construction tools and debris.

“You think it can fit a rear-facing car seat?” she asked.

“It’s called a Honda Fit, not a Honda does-not-Fit,” I replied.

“Yeah, baby. I’m glad you’re so smart and brave and articulate and funny.  Let’s get some ice cream,” she may have said.  It’s hard to remember conversations word for word.  Point is after months of car shopping and research we are keeping our Honda Fit.

It just FITS into our pursuit of financial independence the best…get, get it? It FITS into our plans?  Huh?  Honda Fit.  Ok I’m done.

Thanks for reading!  If you like the blog please like it and share if with your friends, or enemies.  I don’t care which.

 

DIY Car Air-Freshener

Are you tired of paying exhorbitant prices to the Little Trees company in order to keep your car smelling like Summer Linen or in hopes of your passengers mistaking your car for a Spring Meadow? Are you sick of small fractions of your window being taken up with those cardboard trees dangling from your rearview mirror? Can anyone afford to pay up to $2.99 every few months and still save for their children’s college?! Well you’re in luck, friends, your money saving ship has finally come in.

I’ve developed a state of the art air freshener that will leave your passengers breathless.  The best part is you can make this scent at home! Much like the developer of the polio vaccine I’ve decided to give this secret formula away for free, to my readers, like some sort of modern day aroma hero.

All you need to do is take a freshly used lawnmower you already own (preferably with grass attached) shove it in your car along with a gallon or two of gasoline and leave it there for 6-8 hours on a hot summer day.  Just like magic your car will smell like a refreshing combination of freshly cut grass and high octane fuel.  It’s the perfect breezy scent to start your Summer of 2018 off right.

Car and Driver magazine may have even called this the “Scent of the Year” for 2018.*

So stop paying those ridiculously expensive air freshener prices and stop making unwanted trips inside the gasoline station.  Use my non-patented Mower and Gas DIY air freshener and start taking control of your life again.

 

*If Car and Driver had a category called “Scent of the Year” it may have won, who’s to say it wouldn’t? Also if I patented it, which I did not.

Disclaimer: May cause massive staining and tearing of vehicle interior.  Consult your physician before attempting to lift lawnmower into car.  Fiersprinkler and Co. take no responsibility for any number of things that may go horribly wrong with the use of this product.  

 

 

Backstory: Why you should consider skipping college and what you should do instead

Fresh out of high school I had no idea what I wanted to do when I grew up, I just knew I didn’t want to be stuck digging a ditch or flipping burgers the rest of my life.  The general sentiment at the time was if you want to make real money and not end up working in a fast food joint you need to get a college degree. So in May of 2005 I graduated high school with an honorable 2.7 GPA, a head full of confidence, and skipped off to college.

Even being a dumb 18-year-old kid I knew I didn’t want to rack up a bunch of student loan debt so I went to a community college and got a two year degree before transferring to a semi-real Christian college in Oklahoma (I lived in Montana).

Once there I earned money by working the night shift at a Love’s gas station.  I saved money by living in my truck so that I didn’t have to pay for the ridiculous meal plan, which was required if you lived in the dorms.  My friends let me crash on the couches when it was too hot outside and keep some extra clothes and food in their dorm.  For the most part everyone thought it was entertaining that I hated the meal plan so much, that I lived in my truck to aviod paying for it, that they supported me in any way they could.

I also saved money by not purchasing any textbooks except for the ones I simply couldn’t get by without (“Wow, how smart of him using the library books instead of paying for his own,” you might be thinking.  Nah, I just opted to not really study, instead.) After working the night shift and sleeping in my truck my brain was operating at about 30%, on a good day, so studying wasn’t really in the cards.

I graduated college in the spring of 2009 with a GPA that was about as impressive as my high school GPA but I retained even less of the information than you’d assume a guy who didn’t study and lived in a vehicle would retain.  I also knew I didn’t want to go to graduate school so I figured my GPA wasn’t that important.  C’s get degrees was like a war cry for me.

Why I even went to college?

I went to college because I didn’t know any better.  I went because that’s what was expected.  I went in order to get a magical piece of paper that said I jumped through the required hoops, but I didn’t go to learn.  I went because I was told that’s how you get a high paying job, even though I didn’t see how the two were related.  I didn’t know what I wanted to do so I got a generic business degree.  I’m grateful to my past self that I at least had the foresight to get a business degree.  There were certainly other degrees that would have been more fun and netted me far less job options after graduation. I’m not singling out and particular degrees.  I’m not even thinking about an art degree or a liberal arts degree or a basket weaving degree or any such thing while I’m writing this.  All degrees are special in their own way.  (Actually a basket weaving degree would at least qualify you for a job weaving baskets so maybe that’s not such a terrible option.)

You may be thinking that my parents paid for my education and if I had to pay for college myself I would have taken my studying a bit more seriously.  Nope.  Sure wouldn’t have.  I DID have to pay for college myself, I’m just a moron.  I was tripping over dollars to pick up pennies.  I figured I would forget whatever random trivia I had to learn in order to pass the classes anyway (which is probably true) so I may as well be earning some money and lowering my student debt.

I am also extremely happy with my past self that I worked so hard to lower my student debt before graduation.  I wish I would have spent more time actually learning college type stuff but I left with about $30,000 in student loans.  That probably seems like a lot if you haven’t glanced at tuition lately but it was far less than most of my friends. Many of my friends had racked up six-figures of debt before they even stepped a foot into the working world.

Why I’m happy I went to college and what I would do differently:

If I could go back I’m not sure what I would change because I’m aware of the butterfly effect and I’m happy with how my life turned out.  That being said I made some really dumb choices. I think you learn a lot in college that you probably don’t notice at the time, but most of that is social, not academic, at least for the average college student.

It’s a time to stretch out and pretend to be a grown up without being under your parents thumb, but where the stakes aren’t as high as they are in the real world.  It’s a time to meet lifelong friends, most of who you’ll lose touch with a few seconds after leaving campus for the final time.  With any luck you’ll meet a few people who will leave an unmistakable mark on your life and still be your friends even after you’ve made your last student loan payment at the age of 75.

There are a few friends I met in college that I wouldn’t trade for the world.  A few I’d trade for jar of dill pickles, and I don’t even like dill pickles, but those few lifelong friends are priceless.

So if I didn’t go to college what would I do instead?  I’m glad you asked….

I would go to a trade school and learn a skilled labor job such as plumbing or electrical.  They pay great and you don’t have to rack up the student loan debt.  Plus you can start earning money when you’re 18 rather than waiting until you’re 22 and with a mountain of debt.  Read my full write-up on trade school here.

 

 

Why you should consider skipping college and what you should do instead

Kids are priceless joys to be cherished.  Priceless, dumb, cherishable joys.  Once they jump through some hoops we give them a high school diploma and shove them out the door to jump through more hoops and get a coveted college degree.  An undergraduate college degree is almost worthless these days with everyone and their mother getting one.  A degree sets you up for the future…. a future life of debt.  Boom! Shots fired.

Most kids have no idea what they want to do when they grow up.  Sending them off to college right out of high school is akin to sending them out into the woods with a stack of $100 bills and a lighter and telling them to figure out how to survive the night.

Some kids are smart and will become doctors or lawyers or some other smart person title and they know their destiny from the word go.   Those kids should go to college. Some kids are like me and haven’t the foggiest idea what they want to be when they grow up.  Those kids go to college and rack up a bunch of student loan debt and then are shat into the workforce with eyes wide and not a clue how to begin to pay off the mountain of debt.  Then they find out that the manager of Payless doesn’t care about their art degree and they’ll have to work most weekends.

Another option:

If you’re one of those kids who doesn’t know what you want to study in college here’s another option to consider:

Learn a trade- I now work in the building industry as a project manager. Just about every skill required for building a house can pay between $50-80K per year and almost none of them require a college degree.  People who become plumbers, for instance, go through plumbing school and on the job training.  They get paid well to be an apprentice and once they graduate they already have a job lined up where they can make $40+ dollars per hour. Plus they have the added benefit of not racking up a huge amount of student loan debt.

If your goal is early retirement skipping college for a high paying job in the building industry can get you there years faster than a traditional route.  Instead of being a 22-year-old with $100,000 of negative net worth (due to student loan debt) you could be a 22-year-old with $100,000 of positive net worth (due to making $50,000 for the last four years and saving 50% of your income) and four years of experience as a plumber.

If your goal is to get to your FI number (25-30x your annual expenses) as quickly as possible then learning a trade essentially gives you a $200,000 head start.  Plus, you’ll be making at least $50,000/year whereas most college graduates are not able to walk into a $50,000/year job right out of college.  Most likely the number is much larger than just $200,000.

That being said, if you don’t plan on retiring early then eventually having that college degree may surpass the trade job in terms of income and overall net worth.  If you want to work in an office until you’re 65 and climb the corporate ladder the ceiling on a business degree is much larger than the ceiling on being a plumber, unless you start your own plumbing business.

There are risks associated with forgoing college and jumping right into trade school. What if the economy crashes and people stop building houses?  In that case, yeah a plumbing job might be harder to come by, but so will a business job.  If the market crashes jobs are going to be hard to come by regardless of if it’s an office job or a skilled labor job.  You’ll be in a lot better spot financially if you spent the last few years before a recession earning money rather than borrowing it.  Right now the supply of skilled laborers is not even close to meeting the demand.  Nearly every day I talk with electricians, plumbers, HVAC guys and carpenters who can’t find enough good workers.

Meanwhile I talk with recent college grads complaining about how they have a degree but nobody will hire them without real world experience.

Another benefit of learning a skilled labor trade is it gives you an idea of what you may not want to do.  If you hate manual labor then doing it for a year or two while you think about what you DO want to do the rest of your life might not be such a bad thing.  It would be way better to wait until you’re 20 and go to college and get the degree that will lead to the job your really want, rather than going as an 18-year-old and just picking a major with no plan for how that will lead to a job after college.

For some people college is great.  For a lot of us though the job we end up with has almost nothing to do with the degree we got in college.  If you don’t know what you want to do after high school or if you have a child in that situation please consider taking a year or two and learning a trade.  For many people college is an unnecessary waste of time and money and starts you off stressed and in major debt.

I was one of those dumb kids who didn’t learn much in college. Luckily I have a job that has little to do with the degree I received.  I was aware enough to be conscious of debt even in college so my student loan burden was much smaller than most of my peers.  Still, even for me, a trade school would have been a much smarter choice financially.  Read my backstory here.

Don’t get me wrong, skipping college would mean missing out on a bunch of benefits.  It’s easier to make friends in college, some of which will stay with you for life.  There’s also benefit to being forced to put your head down and study even when you don’t want to.  I mean, I assume.  I can’t honestly say I have a ton of experience in this category, but i’m sure it’s not NOT helpful.  You may not remember what you learned in college algebra but you’ll remember the amount of focus and hard work it takes to understand a foreign concept.

I’m not saying everyone should skip college, but everyone should at least explore if college is right for them. There may be better way to reach financial independence and lead a life of freedom.

 

Pelicans- not known fans of leg day

Some people are blessed with killer legs.  My wife has killer legs. Her legs are great and when she consistently works out they look even more great. I have the legs of a pelican.  That being said, I never skip leg day.  I never skip leg day because although my legs are that of a pelican they used to be that of a sickly pelican.  It’s in my genetics.

It’s in my genetics to have scrawny legs. I have them.  My dad has them.  My grandfather probably had them but he didn’t believe in wearing shorts, maybe because of his skinny legs.  My dads scrawny legs are partly his own fault because growing up I was told the importance of pull-ups (super important exercise btw) but I never saw him complete a single leg exercise my entire life.  It’s possible he accidentally found himself in a squatting position and had to think of some way to lift his body up.  After running through a Rolodex of arm exercises I imagine he used his legs to get himself back to upright.  But it wasn’t the norm.

We have great genetics as far as not having a slow metabolism and being able to build upper body muscle fairly easily.  Unfortunately our legs are shit so I have to work very hard on my legs so that I don’t wind up as in internet meme.

Scrawny legs breed scrawny legs.  Set your future children up for success by not having tiny ass legs.

Listen, just like me, you need to work on your legs.  If you go to the gym fairly regularly but find yourself not feeling well on leg day and then you start back over with chest day then I’m talking to you!  I try to be consistent with the gym but some days I get busy and then I’m tired and then it’s been a few days and before you know it an entire week has gone by without me getting in the gym.  When that happens my first gym exercise upon my triumphant return to swoletown is squats.  Always.

It’s human nature to want to skip legs.  They are a large muscle group and it’s hard and it hurts to exercise legs.  You don’t get that satisfying pump and your shorts don’t feel like they’re going to rip at the seams.  It burns and it’s hard.  Nobody is going to notice if your legs aren’t massive.

Unfortunately we tell ourselves this so much that we never want to do legs and eventually people do notice.  They notice that our legs are the size of a T-ball bat.  That’s not a good look.

Don’t be a pelican.

 

 

Internal vs External Locus of Control- Who to blame when plans go awry

If you’re unfamiliar with the term locus of control it refers to the extent to which people believe they have power over the events in their lives.  If you have an internal locus of control you believe you are in control of your life and destiny.  If you have an external locus of control you believe the world around you controls your destiny.

Here’s an example: Imagine you miss your alarm and are late for work.

Is your first thought, “Shitbags, I shouldn’t have stayed up so late.”

Or… “UGh, the universe is out to get me! WHY ME?!”

If you naturally are the type of person who takes responsibility when things go awry, congratulations, psychologists say you’re more likely to be successful in life than someone who, for instance, blames their bad luck on Mercury being in retrograde.

If you naturally are the type of person who thinks the universe has some master plan to keep you down, or that you just have the worst luck, be advised, Cosmopolitan says you shouldn’t date a Capricorn because of stardust, or something.

Point is, you will, on average, be less successful than those around you who take responsibility and don’t read horoscopes.  I made up the last part, but anecdotally it makes sense.

Blaming others for our misfortunes feels good in the moment but it lets us off the hook from learning a lesson and incrementally improving our lives.

Say, for instance, you have your favorite coffee cup on the corner of the counter and someone walks by and bumps it, causing it to crash to the floor.  “Gah, eff-word, Mondays,” you think to yourself.  It’s pretty easy and satisfying in the moment to blame whoever knocked the coffee cup to begin with but a better approach is to learn the lesson that maybe you shouldn’t set your coffee cup right on the edge of the counter.

Either way, your favorite coffee cup is in shambles.  There’s no fixing it now.  You have two choices on how you move forward.  It feels really good to let them know that this wasn’t just a regular coffee cup they accidentally broke, it was your favorite, or favourite, if you’re British.  But don’t do that.  Blaming someone else for your misfortune will make them feel even worse than they already do, assuming they aren’t a cat and did it on purpose, and it won’t protect you from it happening again.

If you take the responsibility yourself then you are much less likely to have the same thing happen again because you’ll control what you can control and set your coffee cup away from the edge of the counter.

If someone in the car in front of you suddenly stops and you have to slam on your breaks, instead of immediately assuming they are an idiot, focus on controlling what you can control.  Obviously, you’re going to call them a bag-of-dicks.  This is natural. But after you’ve thrown one or two clever insults in their general direction consider what you could have controlled in that situation.

Maybe you were following too close or weren’t paying close enough attention.  Maybe you were driving too fast or were daydreaming about reading The Adventures of Gunnar McGregor so you didn’t notice the red light up ahead.  Rolling your eyes at the driver in front of you feels better but it won’t help protect you from the next time someone in front of you stops suddenly.

Situations aren’t always within our control but how we react to them always is.  The rain falls on the just and the unjust, the successful and the unsuccessful.  The successful people notice the rain and grab an umbrella, the unsuccessful people complain that the rain is out to get them while they stand there getting wet.