Confessions Of A Frugal Millionaire

Unless you are an heir to a big fortune or you have won the lottery, you have to work hard to have money.  To accumulate wealth, you have to make more money than you spend.  The key is to keep your expenses low.  And there will be sacrifices.  Nothing crazy though.

At the Root of Good household, our clothes are not from the mall, we don’t dine out at Ruth’s Chris, or deck out our split level home with the latest from Pottery Barn or Williams Sonoma.  We choose not to quench our thirst with Dom Perignon or Dasani.  Yes, we have made sacrifices.  At first we balked at some of these sacrifices, but we gave them a try.  You never know until you try right?

We have decreased our expenses by carrying our lunches in disposable plastic grocery bags (which also make great suitcases).  We refill disposable water bottles and reuse disposable straws and plastic utensils.

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How to Pay for College while Early Retired

One of the top questions I’m asked when people see “retired at 33 with 3 kids” is “yeah, but what about college?”. The truth is I never really gave it a lot of thought because the total cost is well into the future (though closing in fast for our oldest kid) and not huge relative to our total net worth. I had a very vague goal of being able to cover the tuition and fees for four years of in-state tuition for all three kids.

We funneled some cash into 529 accounts when North Carolina offered a tax credit for doing so. We earned a $350 tax credit for contributing $5,000 per year to the 529. When that tax credit was eliminated, I stopped contributing to the 529s and stopped thinking about college funding. Paying tens of thousands of dollars for college is no biggie when you have a million or two, right?

It turns out my lazy attitude toward college funding won’t spell disaster for my children’s higher education future. Between what we have saved in 529s, our large investment portfolio, and a plethora of other funding sources, the kids will be perfectly fine when the college tuition bills start piling up. You’ll have to read on to find out why I’m so confident (or is it cocky?).

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My Semi-Retired Summer

Guest post from John at Action Economics: One of the major advantages to my line of work is that I tend to have the entire summer off. I work as a contractor at nuclear power plants during refueling outages, which normally take place during the spring and fall months, since the plants want to be producing power during the peak usage summer and winter months. Having summers off helps our family save a decent amount of money and headache by reducing our childcare expenses, but it also gives me a sneak peak of what early retirement may be like. Currently I am planning to hit Financial Independence by age 45, which is “only” 16 short years away. Having the summers off has shown me that regardless of whether I have to go back to work in September, I certainly won’t be bored with a surplus of free time.

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Retiring Abroad – Could We Do It?

We are in the middle of our seven week adventure in Mexico right now. Although we traveled to Mexico just for fun, I’m also viewing the trip as an opportunity to explore a few places where we might spend prolonged periods of time in the future. That might mean spending a year or more living abroad or spending summers or winters chasing nice weather.

Mexico tends to top the lists of places to retire abroad. I think I know why: inexpensive living, good weather, and close proximity to the US. But it’s not all rainbows and unicorns south of the border.

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What Will We Miss About Home While On The Road

Right now we are rushing to pack the last few items in our backpacks so we can hit the road for our seven week adventure in Mexico. I’m sure we’ll all have a great time while on the trip, but travel fatigue is also a possibility.

Before we leave, it’s a good time to reflect on how great our lives at home are by thinking about the things we’ll miss the most. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, as they say. Even though we don’t spend a lot of money, I recognize by world standards that we live a luxuriously bountiful life that offers everything we need and then some.

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My Version Of Financial Independence As A 17 Year Old

Half a lifetime ago I developed a financial independence plan before I knew anything about financial independence and early retirement. My 17 year old self scribbled out a poorly refined plan to never work again and live off of savings from a minimum wage job. The bottom line: I thought I needed $120,000 to fund a perfectly adequate lifestyle forever by living on $600 per month in interest.

The year was 1997, the place was North Carolina in the wonderful United States of America. The federal poverty level back in 1997 was $657 per month, which meant that I was planning on living below the poverty line (before I even knew what a poverty line was).

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Why We Chose The Worst School In The District

In my last article asking whether we should conceal our wealth, I mentioned the high poverty school that our children attend. We had a choice of many different elementary schools, and decided to go with the objectively worst school available based on traditional measures like test scores, percent of students in poverty, percent of students with limited English proficiency, and other demographics that most would say indicate a failing school. What persuaded us to choose this “failing school” was the direction it was headed and the fact that it was in our neighborhood only a few blocks away.

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Should We Conceal Our Wealth?

“Today my teacher asked me how we are able to go on another cruise so soon after the last one. I told my teacher that my daddy is retired and my mommy is about to retire, too. Then a kid in my class asked to borrow a few thousand dollars from me.”

That’s what my nine year old told me at dinner a few days ago. Some parents might freak out about how honest their kid was with their teachers and fellow classmates. Not me. But should I be more concerned?

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Crazy Things Made Possible By Early Retirement

For those who love their jobs or those that can’t manage to ever save any money, they may not understand why anyone would want to retire early. “Won’t you get bored?” they ask. Not yet! In fact, having huge blocks of free time opens up a lot of possibilities that aren’t very feasible while working full time.

I used to write a monthly summary of what I’m up to in early retirement like this, this, this, and this. I haven’t kept this diary of excitement up to date lately, but I wanted to share a small sample of the tiny and huge things that early retirement permit.

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