Tis the Season of Thankfulness

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US, so I’d like to take a moment to briefly reflect on what I’m most thankful for.

We are days away from hosting almost 30 people for Thanksgiving at our house.  I’m very thankful we have ample wealth to pay for all the food and fixings without putting a dent in our budget.  I’m also thankful we don’t have to work so that we have plenty of time to cook all the good food we’ll be enjoying.  I’m thankful that both of our immediate families live in town, making getting together a lot easier and less stressful for all.

Last year I posted about all the things I’m thankful for, and some of those things merit mentioning again.

 

Technology

I know I mentioned this last year, but I’m still amazed at all the inexpensive electronics available today.  Smartphones under $100, tablets at $50, computers for $300 or less, and high definition TVs for a few hundred dollars.  There’s so much free content to watch and read that it’s hard to justify paying for anything.  But for $8-9 per month, you can get a half dozen lifetimes’ worth of high quality content streamed in HD to whatever device you’re on from Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.

Our library offers free e-books for tens of thousands of titles.  When I’m too lazy to physically go to the library, I can access a huge selection of free books instantly wherever I am.

This stuff is amazing.  Having all this entertainment and intellectual stimulation at my fingertips means it’s not hard to fight off boredom.

 

Wealth

We were fortunate to have solid incomes for a decade, and the foresight to save most of those incomes over the years.  Just ten years after college we crossed into millionaire territory, which brought us financial independence.

Along the path to financial independence, we enjoyed increasing levels of freedom and flexibility.  Now that we are financially independent, we have the ultimate freedom to do whatever we want all day.

We have plenty of food, a cozy house, more cars than we need, and all the material possessions we want.  There’s enough money in our budget to fund crazy adventures like our seven week trip to Mexico, a 2,500 mile road trip to Canada, and a cruise about once per year (with another one planned for January 2016!).

This year, we transferred some cash from savings and sold a little stock to pay off the last bit of our mortgage.  Now that we are mortgage free, we know we’ll at least have a house to live in even if our investment portfolio disappears (which it most likely won’t).

Adios, mortgage!

Adios, mortgage!

On the investing front, it’s so easy to invest in low cost investments on your own that you don’t need to pay an expensive money manager.  Transact your business online any time you want and get instant information on the entire universe of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETFs.  How can you not manage your own money these days?

Since we are financially independent now, Mrs. RoG has a lot of flexibility to ask for crazy stuff at work.  First, she snagged a three month paid sabbatical last summer.  Then when she tried (but failed) to quit, she negotiated a four day workweek out of our house while keeping her full time salary.

 

Economic and political stability

It’s hard to realize how fortunate we are in the US (and most of the rest of the developed world).  We take economic and political stability for granted.  But it’s truly something to be thankful for.  It affords us the opportunity to earn high wages.  After we pay for our living expenses, any extra income goes to accounts at banks and investment companies that will be there for us tomorrow, next year, and next decade.

Even though the 2016 elections season is rearing it’s ugly head right now, in general life is pretty good (regardless of which candidate you support).  The fact that we get to choose who we vote for in an open and free election isn’t a privilege enjoyed everywhere (I’m looking at you, Venezuela).

Unlike Syria, we don’t have warring factions fighting for control of our country with millions of refugees fleeing with not much more than the clothes on their backs.

That could be our fate, but it’s not.  And for that, I’m thankful.

 

 

What are you thankful for this year?

 

 

39 comments

  • I’m with you, so much to be thankful for everyday. Your posts on taxes, SS, etc very helpful to us. However, if we all just focused on being thankful for more than just one day we’d all be richer, happier and the world would be a better place. Otherwise the other stuff doesn’t much matter.

    Cheers,
    EE

  • That’s great that your relatives are so close. My side of the family is scattered all over the country so typically our thanksgiving dinner is just for Mrs. C’s side. Our total is about half the amount of people as your dinner. Couple questions on logistics…Is your oven a single oven or a double oven? We struggle a bit with getting everything cooked on time…this year we are planning on pre-cooking the pies in the morning and warming them up after dinner. Do you do 1 large turkey or two turkeys?

    • I know you asked your question of RoG, but I’ll add my answer anyway. We have a dinner party of 16-20. We have, and use, two ovens, but that isn’t necessary with proper planning of cooking times. Pies are made ahead of time (on Wednesday, actually). On Thursday, the turkey cooks first. It takes at least an hour to cool before slicing, so the casseroles go in the oven while the turkey is cooling. We can fit them all in the oven at the same time, and just put them in and out according to their individual cooking time requirements. The rolls are ready to go in as soon as the casseroles are done. Since the rolls don’t take long to cook, the casseroles are still hot even with sitting out for those few extra minutes.

      We use the second oven for ham and then a second tray of rolls (my family likes bread!).

      • I just saw your comment after responding to John C. Pretty much the same strategy we use, except we start a little earlier since we have just 1 oven. Mrs. RoG’s sister usually brings ham so we usually don’t make our own ham for Thanksgiving.

    • Hey John!

      We have a single 27″ wall oven. Mrs. RoG wanted to spring for the double oven but that would require reworking the cabinetry, rewiring for a 50 amp service, and probably a breaker box upgrade ($$$$). And we would only really need to use the double ovens 1-2x per year, though it would be a nice luxury to have given how much we cook.

      We usually cook one large turkey, typically 21-25 pounds (the largest I can find of the $0.37/lb on sale variety). I keep a spreadsheet of Thanksgiving meal planning just so I’ll know what went over well and what didn’t, what got ate and what was mostly untouched. And prep times.

      The turkey took 4.5 hours at 425F and my notes indicate it might need a little less cook time this year. We’re also rocking just a 21.5 pound bird so I’ll probably adjust down to 4 hours total and see if it’s done at that point.

      The veggies and casseroles go into the oven at the same time or in shifts (we can fit about 3-4 medium to large dishes in the oven at once). These took 1.75 hours to cook last year. The bread goes in right before meal time (12 noon for us). So I’ll back up 6 hours and put the turkey in at 6 am so that everything is done on time. We leave the turkey out for 2 hours and it’s still steaming hot when we carve it just before meal time. The foil tent we use during the first 90% of the cook time goes back on the turkey when it comes out of the oven at T -2 hours, and the foil tent keeps most of the heat inside the turkey and pan.

      We also did something new this year – bought a second $0.37/lb turkey to cook later in the weekend for intentional leftovers. The meat freezes well and we like turkey but rarely eat it during the year. I might even grab a third turkey later today depending on how much room I have in the fridge once the 1st bird goes in the brine marinade pot in a few minutes.

      • Awesome thanks for the info! I think cooking the pies beforehand will help a lot this year. I feel the same way about a 2nd oven, in theory its a nice thing to have but, yeah only once or twice a year would it actually be used. I think I might grab another turkey as well, they are certainly way cheaper this time of year.

        • We use a roaster oven for the turkey ($35ish). It just plugs into the wall. It is nice because it free up the oven. It also keeps a lot of the moisture in the bird and cooks quickly. It makes the logistics of a large crowd a lot easier.

          I love the spreadsheet idea to track everything. It makes meal planning much easier going forward. Thanks!

      • I Love that you keep a spreadsheet of the plans! We totally do the same thing for both Thanksgiving and Christmas with all the recipes on our Google Drive. Then it’s all right there. (Us PF geeks make meals!) Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

  • There’s a lot to be thankful for! Of course we’re thankful for finally starting to get it together in terms of retirement and forming a solid plan. We’re extremely thankful for all of the traveling we get to do and being able to see the beauty in nature that most people don’t get to see.

    One thing we’re always so thankful for is our health. We’re always conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies and making sure to work out a few times a week at least to keep active. Without health, nothing else matters!

    • I was just enjoying the beauty of the frosty yards this 28 degree morning here. As long as you bundle up, it’s not that cold for a morning stroll to school, right? 🙂

      Health is a good one. Definitely thankful all of us are (mostly) able bodied and the kids were born healthy and don’t have any problems. It makes life and finances much easier for sure!

  • I’m definitely thankful for this community, Vanguard, and my family/friends 🙂 Enjoy the holiday with your big guest list!

  • We’re thankful to be rocking along and gainfully employed during another Houston energy downturn, good friends, family and health.

    Cheers to 2016.

  • I’m thankful for my family, friends, and good health. I’m also grateful for things that I have in life. Life is good for me and I’m very grateful for that. Have a great Thanksgiving.

  • We *dream* of the day when we get that “paid in full” stamp on our mortgage statement… we’re getting there! We’re thankful for this incredibly supportive community, for having a roof over our heads and food in the kitchen, and for having wonderful friends and family… oh, and health insurance. Thank goodness for that! 🙂

    • It’s a nice feeling – no more mortgage. For the last several years it was just an exercise of transferring $ from one pile to another, but now that it’s gone we own the house completely free and clear.

  • I’m with you on political stability. I don’t want a revolution. Just slow, gradual tweaks around the margins. We have it made and I don’t want to throw it all away for some untested ideological dreamscape.

    • Well said. There’s room for improvement, but a slow, deliberate process is preferred over a complete re-do. Perhaps excepting our US healthcare payment system. Although I guess our current approach is incremental in a way (assuming there’s some post-ACA plan that’s an improvement).

  • We obviously don’t have Thanksgiving in the land of Oz, but the concept of actually appreciating what you have is something that any aspiring early retiree should be aware of 365 days a year! If you can keep that in mind then you’ll want less, save a whole lot more, and have a lot more time on your hands much earlier in life.

    Like Fervent, I’m very thankful for this community as it’s an endless source of motivation for continuing my early retirement journey.

    Enjoy the holiday, the turkey and whatever else is customary on thanksgiving!

    • It’s pretty much just a huge celebration of overeating and buying a whole bunch of crap. 😉 And (American) football watching on the TV. I’m mostly a fan of the overeating and tend to skip the football and shopping (unless it’s something I really really need and can get online at a remarkable deal).

      I’m with you on the value of reflecting on the gifts you have as often as possible. It seems like those most blind to their own fortunes are the least happy in life (not that more fortunes would ever make them happier!).

  • Mrs LC and I have a four hour drive one way to join about 10 family members for the Thanksgiving feast. The upside? I cook nothing. I am only required to eat a lot. A warm bed, some shopping and the four hour drive home on Friday. Then I get to enjoy some leftovers for at least a week. I’m thankful for this forum and for you setting the great example Justin.

  • Happy Thanksgiving! I’m very thankful for a relatively secure life. We have good finance, security, and family life. I know a lot of people doesn’t have that. Great job on the mortgage. I’m still keeping our mortgage for a while. 🙂

    • Thanks, happy Turkey Day to you, Mrs. RB40 and the little guy.

      On the mortgage front, we made a slightly less than perfect decision by selling an investment back in the spring to pay it off. That investment is up 1.8% since then and the interest on the mortgage would have been only around 1%, so I lost out on almost a percent. I guess that’s a nice “problem” to have – regretting the fact that we paid off the mortgage a little too early. 🙂

  • Regardless of circumstances, we all have much to be thankful for throughout the year. In our case we had reasonably good news on the health front, took many trips, and next month our daughter will be joining us living in the South, and only 5 hour away in NC. I truly hope everyone can find in their own lives those things to be thankful for as well. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, in particular to the whole RoG family and friends.

  • We are having about 32 at out house tomorrow for Thanksgiving dinner. I fixed 2 turkeys. Will reheat them before we eat about 12:30. Family will be bring some sides and pies. I am making mashed potatoes, homemade rolls, green beans, tea and lemonade. I Also made 2 pies today. This is my first time commenting. Love your blog! The tax info is very helpful. My husband and I retired this year. We are 62 and 61. Loving the retired life!!

    • That sounds delicious, Mary! I hope it all turned out well for Thanksgiving. We ended up with 29 and plenty of leftovers. 🙂

      Glad you are enjoying the blog and enjoying your retirement!

  • Love the technology being cheaper and cheaper everyday! I am grateful to have great family here. Happy Thanksgiving!

    BSR

    • Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!

      I tried to get some of that cheap technology today in the form of a $10 Moto E smartphone but the quicker shoppers out there beat me to it.

  • We often do a “what we are thankful for” check during the year as well as the holidays because we’re often surprised at how far we’ve been able to come financially and otherwise in a relatively short period of time. In terms of material possessions, we’re thankful that we’ve been able to have what we need, but we’ve never been able to use those as a gauge of happiness because we just don’t care that much about them. I had a friend in high school who had a Ferrari and eventually became a multi-millionaire w the house and the lifestyle and he was miserable every day of his life – still is from what I can tell.
    I second your thankfulness for political stability because a lot of people in the US – esp in the media – take how good we have it here for granted. Anyone – including the media – who claims that the average person cannot “make it” in the US is wrong. Work hard in school, stay out of trouble and stay focused on your goals and anyone can make it in the US. That is something to be thankful for, a true miracle of economic and political stability, freedom and opportunity. BTW Making it doesn’t mean you get everything you want, it means you get to work hard and try to get everything you want…most of us, to paraphrase Mick Jagger, get what we need.
    For that I am grateful.

    ; )

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