Howdy, friends! This summer, there will be another chautauqua on financial independence in Ecuador. You should consider attending. These Ecuador chautauquas — which are unrelated to the European chautauquas — are always a fun, educational, and bonding experience.
Clarification: At some point, chautauqua founders Cheryl Reed and JL Collins parted ways. Now JL runs the European chautauquas — which are on hiatus — with Katie and Alan Donegan. Cheryl continues to run the unrelated Ecuador gatherings. Both events are excellent.
I often speak about the intersection of money and meaning when I attend.
As part of my new commitment to just being me, I hope to share a lot more random stuff around here — just like I used to. Instead of waiting for weeks (or months) in order for inspiration to strike for a longer essay, I want to share the best of the interesting money stories (and semi-money stories) that I find around the interwebs.
Think of it as Apex Money, I guess, but instead of sharing three to five discoveries each day, I may share one or two a week. And instead of editing and polishing these pieces, they'll just be quick braindumps with minimal attention to detail.
Today, for instance, here's a 103-minute YouTube video about the lines at Disney theme parks: Continue reading...
Kim and I are back from a week-long beach vacation with her brother and his family. We traveled to a luxury timeshare resort where it was super easy to practice social distancing because almost nobody was there. (The place was running at maybe 10% capacity because of COVID, and the level of cleanliness was mind-boggling. I felt safer there than at home! Sanitizer, mask, wipe your feet. Instant-read thermometers. Digital menus. Etc. Etc. Etc.)
This trip was a terrific early test of my spending moratorium resolve. I was mostly good.
The vacation itself cost money, of course, but I'm okay with that. We scheduled it months ago, long before I decided to take a year off from spending. I didn't cancel it, and I'm not canceling the other trip we have planned for March. Instead, my aim is to keep my spending as low as possible for both trips. Plus, I have no plans to book other vacations this year.
Hello from Portugal!
Last Thursday, I returned to Europe for the fourth time in the past ten months. This time, I'm here for work. I'm speaking at yet-another chautauqua about financial independence and early retirement. As always, it's fascinating -- and the people attending the event are amazing.
For this trip, I decided to experiment with ultra-light packing. I am not a minimalist, but I like minimalist travel. I wanted to see if I could carry everything I needed for 20 days of travel in a single small backpack.
I like to travel. Over the past decade, I've probably made an average of two international trips per year. But you know what? Never once in that time have I tried to track how much I spend while exploring the world. Sure, I log my numbers in Quicken (as I do for everything), but I've never analyzed the cost of an individual trip.
This month, I flew to Europe to hang out with my cousin Duane again. He and I enjoy traveling together. Because I was curious, I decided to be diligent about tracking my expenses for this trip.
Note, however, that I didn't try to do anything different. I didn't adjust my normal behavior simply because I knew I'd be reporting to GRS readers. I did what I always do. I spent in ways that felt normal to me.
Howdy. My name is Michael Robinson. While J.D. is visiting Europe with his cousins, I volunteered to share how my wife and I have leveraged the power of geographic arbitrage to pursue our dreams -- and to build our wealth.
Geographic arbitrage means taking advantage of the differences in prices between various locations. You earn money in a stronger economy (San Francisco, maybe, or the U.S. in general) and spend it in a weaker economy (South Dakota or Ecuador, for instance).
Geographic arbitrage is a powerful tactic worth considering if you want to increase your saving rate so that you can better pursue your financial goals. Several times over the course of our lives together so far, my wife and I have managed to unwittingly stumble upon the benefits of geographic arbitrage.
It's a GRS tradition! Each year on Halloween, I publish a story about planning for death. Usually these are general articles about estate planning. This year's story is personal.
When my best friend died in 2009, one of my biggest regrets was that I hadn't made time to travel with him.
Sparky had previously asked me to join him on trips to Burning Man (in 1996) and southeast Asia (in 1998) and Mexico (in 2003). I'd declined each invitation, in part because I was deep in debt but also because I thought there'd be plenty of time to do that sort of thing in the future.
Two years ago today, Kim and I returned to Portland after fifteen months traveling the United States in an RV. Believe it or not, I've never published an article about the trip and how much it cost. Although we kept a travel blog for most of the adventure (including a page that documented our expenses), I've never gathered everything into one place. Until now.
Today, I want to share just how much we spent on the journey -- and some of our favorite stops along the way. It seems like the perfect post to celebrate the start of summer, don't you think?
The Lure of Adventure
All my life, I've wanted to take a roadtrip across the United States.
This guest post from Marla Taner is an example of the things money nerds do when they get together. I first met Marla five years ago. Since then, she's become a good friend. Plus, she's my "travel hacking" mentor. (Travel hacking, for the uninitiated, is the practice of using credit card points and various loyalty programs to get free or discounted flights and hotel stays.) Marla was in town earlier this week, so she took the opportunity to teach me about the Priority Pass.
I met J.D. in 2013 at the first-ever money chautauqua in Ecuador. We see each other just once or twice a year. When we do, we have a lot of fun.
Part of the fun for me is teasing J.D. about his seeming inability to master the basics of travel hacking. Let me give you an example. J.D. first learned about travel hacking in 2011 when some of his friends urged him to sign up for a Chase credit card in order to get 100,000 British Airways miles. (He even wrote about the experience for Get Rich Slowly!)
Historically, I haven't been a big fan of credit cards. That's probably due to the fact that they led me deep into debt at an early age. I discovered credit cards in college, and used them to leverage myself to a lifestyle that I couldn't actually afford. I abused credit cards for almost a decade, then abandoned them completely for nearly as long.
In June 2007, after almost ten years away, I re-entered the world of credit cards. At the urging of Get Rich Slowly readers (who believed I was mature enough to give it another go), I picked up a Capital One No-Hassle Cash Rewards Visa. It's been my primary card ever since -- and I haven't had a single problem with it.
I think the difference between the old me and the new me is that I treat my credit card as a tool instead of a way to cheat the system by spending money I don't have. Because I'm the CFO of JD Inc, because I'm the boss of my money, my credit cards are conveniences that can help me make better use of my money. But I treat them with respect, and I have rules.