Our Journey To Debt Free

The lights go down. The music starts. My heart begins to race as the anticipation builds. I’ve been waiting for this concert for 12 years. The best selling solo artist of all time and he is back in action. Ah, to celebrate the progress we’ve made. You see, every time we pay concertoff $5,000 of our debt we take a little date night. And over the weekend we took our big date. It was awesome. Finally, the whole process of paying off our debt is getting close to the end. Only two more to go. We are almost there. I can almost taste the finish line.

We started our married life with a few small student loans, some rarely used credit cards and then, after a few years, a little brick house. Once we combined our finances we just took the money we had saved up and paid off the student loans. I’ve never really been a fan of payments and I tend to avoid getting into long term contracts for consumable items if possible. I enjoy the flexibility and simplicity of keeping the income that we make without paying out that money to service debt. But do we really need to be debt free? Continue reading Our Journey To Debt Free

Eating Nasty Food and Watching TV on Vacation

I spent last week traveling for work and vacation. For anyone that goes on the road frequently, one of the biggest challenges we face is maintaining the habits and routines that we create when we are at home. However, new adventures are also part of the fun when we travel somewhere. We get to mix things up, go different places, try new things, and hang out with different people.

fast food feastI love to eat. I’m always interested in trying new foods and eating different things when I travel. At home, we tend to eat healthy meals at the house and much less healthily when we occasionally go out. When we go out, I typically just order whatever I want and run a little more the next day if I eat too much. At home, I also rarely take the time to turn on the television and if it does come on it is often a single episode of one of our favorite shows on netflix or prime. I don’t have the opportunity to spend as much time vegging out watching sports center like I did years ago. However, vacation is different. I seem to throw all routine out the door and spend my time eating, drinking, and watching whatever comes my way. Continue reading Eating Nasty Food and Watching TV on Vacation

The Efficiency of Killing Clutter

Simplifying life is one of the recurring themes here at Simple Economist. In many ways, clutter, both mental and physical, is one of our biggest competitors to an efficient life. Ironically, I’ve lived with a lot of clutter. There have been times in my life where I was a ‘collector’ of anything of value. I had the strange part of my brain that wanted to hang on to everything just-in-cluttercase. I hated the idea of recycling or throwing something away just to have a need for it a few weeks later. I’ve since learned that I could minimize most of the extra in my life and simply replace it with cash.

For years I only thought of clutter in relation to its physical presence. I considered all clutter, stuff. However, I’ve since expanded my view and now I think about clutter in terms of mental clutter, organizational clutter, and physical clutter. Each different type has a different effect on my body, yet they all keep me from living an efficient life. My goal is to live a life devoid of waste. And mental, physical, and organizational clutter often build over time and end up squeezing out the important things in my life. My physical space is easy to observe. Anyone who walks into my house will instantly notice if I have clutter strewn around. However, dealing with organizational and mental clutter provides a different, but equally important challenge. Continue reading The Efficiency of Killing Clutter

When It Makes Sense to Buy The Popular

Marketers are pretty good about translating the things we buy into statements about ourselves. Instead of just owning an object for its current functionality, an additional layer of social status has been interjected into the objects we own. This process can be good or bad. We often identify with our purchases or, on the other extreme, will choose not to purchase something because of the identification associated with it.

iphone6Popular items tend to have a polarizing effect. Apple spent millions of dollars on marketing their products to a (former) niche that suggests ‘think differently’. The strategy paid handsomely and their products have reverberated through the tech and popular sectors. However, with their success, many people (especially the uber-hipsters in my town) will no longer buy the popular products due to the very lack of uniqueness.

Despite the mental push back it takes to buy the popular, I often find that my economizing ways lead me to buy objects that are recognizable and easily obtained. Even if there are superior products available, it often makes sense to buy the popular for a variety of reasons. The benefits of buying the popular include having a well-developed (large) support community, high liquidity when buying or selling, availability of parts and accessories, and easy access to information when trouble arises. Although this notion could be extended into plenty of other areas, I’ll keep the focus on larger consumer purchases (cars, technology, housing) to make the point more succinct. Continue reading When It Makes Sense to Buy The Popular

Your Personal Rate of Inflation (Destroying Inflation)

General inflation typically refers to the tendency of goods and service price levels to increase over time. Basically, one U.S. Dollar will buy you fewer loaves of bread than it did when your parents were born. Personal inflation is a subset of inflation that looks at our own (often rising) personal consumption choices over time. The general assumption portrayed by society and economists at large is that we need increasingly more (often higher priced goods) as we grow older. As we will see, we often have a lot more control over our personal rate of inflation than the economy at large.

inflationThe bottom line is that inflation in developed countries is overrated for efficient people and early retirees. In fact, I would make the argument that we can actually train ourselves to utilize our income more effectively as we gain more life experience. As we age, we gain a much better understanding of what our wants and desires truly are. We get better at understanding what is a need versus a want, and what luxuries actually make us happier. In addition, with a few lifestyle changes, we can position ourselves to maintain constancy while our peers’ personal consumption drastically increases over time.

Continue reading Your Personal Rate of Inflation (Destroying Inflation)