A Night at the Focus Group

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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

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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

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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

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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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