A Night at the Focus Group


When I received a call one evening promising $75 in exchange for participating in a two hour focus group, I figured “easy money”. It turns out it’s not only easy money but a fun time if you’re into observing humans and watching the industrial marketing machine at its finest.

At the end of May I left the house a couple minutes past 5:00 pm destined for the office building where the focus group session was being held. Since I was traveling during rush hour I allowed a few extra minutes to reach my destination that, according to Google Maps, was supposed to be 12 minutes away during normal traffic.

I’ll be honest. I hardly ever drive in rush hour traffic (I’m retired). The drivers next to me gently reminded me it’s hell, or at least a scalding hot version of purgatory. Within a mile of my house, my minivan was almost the victim of insane aggressive driving not once, but twice. Where are all these people going in such a hurry? I bet commuting is the worst part of the work day for a large minority of employees.

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May 2016 Financial Update


May proved to be another good month financially for us. Our net worth continued its upward march with a $13,000 addition, bringing total net worth to $1,565,000. Our income ballooned to $10,826 while our spending increased slightly to $2,979 to almost match our monthly spending target.

Summer sneaked up on us this year. The hot, humid air that just appeared in North Carolina is a reminder that spring is no longer with us. Fortunately, we’re escaping the heat by heading north to Canada for a couple of weeks. Our kids have four more days of school before they are out for the summer, which means us parents get to sleep in seven days per week.

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One Thousand Days of Early Retirement


1,000 days ago I retired early without really knowing it. When I walked in the office on the morning of August 26, 2013, I didn’t know it would be my last day of work forever (probably). I suspected something might happen to me on that Monday because another coworker was suddenly and unexpectedly terminated the previous business day and housecleaning often happens in clusters.

I spent the first hour of that day catching up on emails from the previous week that I missed while I was on vacation in Chicago. Then I jumped on a quick 9:00 am conference call to discuss the financial model for a new toll road proposed for the southern part of town. Then BOOM! The boss walked in the door with a fistful of bad tidings.

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April 2016 Financial Update


Now that April is over, we are one third of the way through 2016. How are we doing? Where are we going from here?

Financially, April was a great month on all fronts. Our net worth increased by $23,000 to $1,552,000. Our income remained strong at $2,471 even though it’s been a few months since we received any pay checks from employers. Our spending dropped significantly compared to last month to $1,829 (not buying a new minivan certainly helped keep expenses low).

On the personal side, April was an incredibly busy month. The weather was nice so we spent a lot of time outdoors. We were busy with kids’ school events and volunteering, hanging out with friends, and enjoying the wonderful life we have built through a decade of financial butt kicking. We capped off the month with a day trip to the beach for a wedding.

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