Millionaires Don’t Buy New Cars?

Go Curry Cracker had a good article on his purchasing decisions for his new car. It starts with some of the basic advice of the book, Millionaire Next Door. He then walks through his decision making process on what to buy, used vs. new, electric vehicles, cost of ownership, and financing vs. cash purchase. Overall its an excellent article for anyone thinking of getting a new/used vehicle in the near future.

My history (and Mrs. 39 Months) is interesting, in comparison to the Millionaire next door. The book discusses the pluses and minuses of purchasing new and used, when to trade in, when to lease (almost never). For us, we tend to purchase new, and then drive the vehicles forever. I have owned four vehicles in my life, and two of them I have left on the side of the road after 100,000+ miles/multiple years. Literally driving them till they died.

My third vehicle I put 280,000 miles on over 10 years, and finally traded it in when the creaking on it (whenever I braked) go too bad. I’m now driving my fourth car, a 4-door sedan, with 180,000+ miles on it over 11 years. I hope to keep driving this one till I decide to retire – and then it’s a truck!

Mrs. 39 Months has only owned two cars. The first she drove for 16 years before trading it in, and the current one, which she has driven for 14. While she doesn’t put as many miles on it as I do (due to work) she also doesn’t see a need to purchase a new one every 3 years.

Well, Mrs. 39 Month’s car has started to have some electrical problems (bad symptom) so she has started looking for something new. She has a good idea of what she wants, but due to the current issues with the automotive supply chain, we haven’t been able to find what she is looking for available. So we’re nursing her car along right now until maybe 2022. Hopefully…..

The benefit of being FI and in good financial shape is that we’ll be ready to pay with cash on this (and my future purchase). Hopefully we can get a good deal here and she’ll have another car she can drive for 15+ years. Wish us luck.

What is your car buying story?

Mr. 39 Months

Getting interviewed by my professional magazine on finance

Back in May of 2011, I wrote an article for my professional society (www.IISE.org) magazine, titled “Graduate Finances.” After the 2008-2009 recession, I wanted to share some basic financial ideas with future graduates, so they’d have an idea of what to do when they get their first job. The article covered basic budgeting, investing, benefits. Etc. In the years since, I  have had folks comment positively on the article.

Just recently, IISE has reached out to me for their new Podcast, and asked me to interview and discuss the article, and recent changes that might be made to the advice. The provided a list of questions they would be asking. I’ve included them below, and my answers to them.

Below are some starter questions to help prepare you for the interview, though I will surely ask additional questions based on the course of the conversation:

  1. This conversation surrounds an article you wrote for Industrial Engineer magazine (now ISE magazine) called “Graduate Finances,” and we’ll provide a link to the article on our show notes at the podcast website. You initially wrote it in early 2011, which was just a few years after the punishing fiscal bomb that was the Great Recession. What prompted you to give this advice to young engineers starting out?
    • I had become very interested in investing and saving for retirement around the year 2000 (dot.com bust). When 2008-2009 hit, I saw a lot of people jump out of the market (rather than just let it sit) and knew that was the wrong answer.
    • My professional IISE chapter often goes to our local colleges and presents/discusses issues with students, and I’ve spoken at regional and national conferences before. I found that most engineers didn’t have any financial knowledge from college or high school (almost no graduate does).
    • I often got questions about what to do with their first job, and I wanted to provide some guidance.
  1. You open the article with “Day 1,” which typically involves an introduction meeting with a company’s human resources representative. Obviously, we’ve each been through this more than once in our careers, but for our younger audience who may be entering the real world soon after listening to this, what should they expect to learn about in that initial HR meeting?
  2. I’m assuming we are talking about financial aspects of HR. There will be a host of policies and programs that are not financially related that HR will bring forward.
  3. Other benefits that will save you money (insurance, legal, education, medical)
  4. Medical benefits – look for high deductible plan and an H.S.A. (Health Savings Account). This is almost a super Roth-IRA. You can save it before taxes, invest it, and then use it to pay medical bills later on
  1. I faced a battle with cancer a few years into my career and after joining my third employer (which just happened to be IISE). Before that, I will admit that I didn’t pay that close of attention to medical benefits and insurance details. Between youthful ignorance and newspaper veterans telling me that the insurance covered “next to nothing,” I lost sight of its value. Having cancer changed that for me. What would you suggest engineers ask HR about on Day 1 regarding their medical coverage?
    • They need to understand the costs involved and relate that to their potential budget. Coverage is a key point. Most company’s benefits will cover catastrophic issues, but the key is the deductible. How much do you want to pay out of pocket before the medical gets picked up.
    • Often you can get a benefit/cost reduction for regular checkups, not smoking, etc. Look into this.
    • For the younger ones, most feel their invulnerable, so they don’t pay much attention to medical.  I would suggest they look into a medical plan with a high deductible with an HAS – a Health Savings Plan. This lets you save money before taxes, and you can invest it in the market and let it grow. It can be used to pay medical expenses now, or 10+ years from now.
    • I don’t recommend an FSA – you have to spend that in the calendar year, and it’s a tracking nightmare. 
  1. I started my career in newspapers (back when people still subscribed to their local paper en masse) and I remember feeling a lot of pride when I received my first paycheck. It said to be that I was an adult and a working journalist. Unfortunately, it was only around $750 after deductions for two weeks of work and I didn’t fully grasp the expenses that were about to be dumped on top of me, like student loans and living expenses (my folks weren’t all that cool with me living at home after graduation). What was your experience like as you were coming into adulthood and suddenly trying to learn your new job as well as set yourself up for a financial future? In what ways did you feel like you got it right early on and where did you make your biggest errors?
    • I was an anomaly getting out, because I went into the military, so the first 5 years I had government housing, medical, etc.
    • Once I got out, my wife and I had to learn a lot of this (housing, medical, etc) but we were a little more mature, and had our spending in line.
    • For someone starting out, I’d look for someone maybe 5 years older they could use to mentor them on this. There is also some good information on the internet. I’d look into the FIRE community for this.
  1. What insights should young people entering the American workforce understand about deductions removed from their pay? Where is that money going?
    • Taxes (Fed, State, local) – obvious. Should be considered when you are looking at jobs.
    • Social Security/Medicare – Tax to pay for benefits to older Americans
    • Unemployment – paid into by you and your company
    • Other – state dependent (my state has Family Leave, Disability, Workforce Development)
    • Your choice in benefits – Medical, Dental, Vision, 401K, Insurance, etc.
  1. The combination of career success, bad luck on the health front and poor decision-making, among other factors, led me to a lifestyle rooted around minimalism – not in the “live like a hermit” context that many people believe it to be, rather to develop an ability to determine what has the most value and what has no value. And it’s become evident to me over my adult life that budgets, even simple ones drawn on a napkin, can go a long way into showing me just where I stand when it comes to income and expenses. What budget methods would you recommend to graduating students, such as the “60 percent” rule or the “50/20/30” model?
    • I gave several versions in the article, but I am a real enthusiast for the “pay yourself first” model. Do your investments first (401K to at least the match, HAS, Roth IRA) maybe 10% – 20% of your paycheck.
    • Every year from that point bump it up at least 1% (i.e. if you get a 3% pay raise, one third of that goes to new investments like 401K or Roth IRA)
    • Then you have your 80% – 90% left to spend.
    • Budget for any debt (student loans, etc).
    • What is left over is what you have to live on (housing, food, transportation, etc)
    • Remember that, unless you have a real disaster, the first couple of years will be the tightest. Every year, every pay raise, every debt payoff, it will get  a little easier
  1. For anyone who has been out of college in the past 20 years, we’ve witnessed a lot of events that have made an impact on the national and/or global economy – the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks; the housing market crash in 2008; and our current pandemic. These types of events have made investing a shaky proposition for me personally, but I’ve done more of it in the past few years albeit conservatively. I’m fairly certain you’re not one to recommend investing in Bitcoin or other risky ventures. Unless I’m wrong, what factors do you recommend young graduates consider when it comes to investing? Should they start investing in stocks and bonds right out of the gate or focus on their 401Ks and/or Roth IRAs, or anything deemed low risk?
    • The biggest issue, I think, for young engineers is the long term nature of investing. Most people at 22 can’t envision 10 years from now, let alone 40 years.
    • I’d have a “core” of investments in the basics (401K, Roth IRA, etc) and if you’re young, I’d invest almost 100% in stock index funds. The market has never been down over a 20+ year period, and young folks have that sort of timeline for their investments. As you get older, you can shift more to bonds or other fixed investments.
    • Index Funds/ETFs!
    • Maybe have 5% – 10% of your funds for “fun money” where you invest in Bitcoin, Tesla, etc. Just assume that you will be gambling.
    • Again, I’d do some reading on the FIRE movement (Financial Independence, Retire Early). The concept there is that if you bust your butt to pay off debt and invest, you can get yourself into a situation where you are Financially Independent and don’t have to work. Then you can do the sort of work you really enjoy!
  1. In the original article, you listed about a dozen sources for further reading and education on money and personal finance, but it’s been a long decade since “Graduate Finances” first published. Do you have any new favorite digital resources like websites or podcasts that have a better reach on younger generations? Any books or authors that you would recommend as well?
  2. Take everything with a grain of salt. Everyone’s situation is different, and some folks like to take more risk than you may be comfortable with.
  1. As you wrote in your article, ISE students graduate with a strong foundation of functional knowledge applicable to their careers – the ability to research and investigate, to analyze data, etc. Should colleges and universities provide more opportunities or add emphasis on personal finance education? Are there opportunities for parallel teaching (think the Daniel/Mr. Miyagi relationship in “The Karate Kid”… “wax on, wax off; sand the floor; …”)?
    • I think there should be a personal finance course as an option, but that is just me.
    • If not, at least provide additional opportunities to study this
    • The issue is that most young folks just don’t think personal finance is an interesting topic. Often discussions of money are considered “dirty” in our culture. 

What would you add or change to these?

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Mr. 39 Months

Do you have a SHTF plan?

For many folks, the advent of Covid played havoc with their work status, with layoffs, reduced hours, or just getting let go/company failing. This isn’t fun, and the economic fallout from the Chinese Flue hasn’t ended yet. The number of people who have chosen this time to retire (or had the time chosen for them) is large, and probably growing. Even if you don’t assume a virus causing havoc, you should still have a “S&$t Hits the Fan” plan. You never know when your company may fail (Enron?) or a change in management happens which causes job changes.

The first step is to try and understand how much money you may receive, both upon being let go, for the next several months, and then beyond.

  1. Vacation time: Check to see how much vacation time you have remaining. If you do, you’ll get paid this out with your last paycheck.  
  2. Severance/Separation Package: Its possible that the company letting you go  will provide you with a package, depending on your years of service. I’ve seen as much as 1-2 years, though the standard appears to be one weeks pay for every year of service. This package could also include medical care for a period of time, or other benefits.
  3. Unemployment: In the US the have unemployment insurance, which pays a percentage of your income (up to a certain max). As a US worker, you pay into that with your paycheck every week, so its not exactly “free money.” I’ve been paying into it for 30+ years, so I don’t feel guilty collecting it. The unemployment period can be up to 26 weeks, though it has been extended to longer in times of extreme distress for the US economy.
  4. Personal Investments: Its possible that your investments (dividends, real estate, etc.) is already paying you and income stream. Take this into account as well.

Now its time to look at your expenses. Are there specific expenses that you can cut out in order to reduce the outflow? Is there additional expenses that will hop up due to your being let go?

  1. Possible expenses reduced/eliminated: Investments (401K, IRA, other), Gas, Dining, Charity, Hobbies, etc.)
  2. Expenses that may go up: Medical. In the US, you are eligible for COBRA insurance, which is where you can continue to get your former companies health insurance – but it will cost more, as you are paying for your co-pay and the company’s share

Once you’ve got an idea of what your inflow and outflow is, you have some idea of how long you can last until you have to really start dipping into your retirement/other funds. The key is to do this sort of planning well ahead of time, so that when SHTF, you don’t have to react entirely with emotion.

Example SHTF plan:

Severance$17,395.16
Remaining Vacation$4,348.79
Unemployment (26 weeks)$20,306.00
$42,049.95
Cobra (12 months)($16,961.36)
Remaining Funds$25,088.59
Monthly after-tax income$2,090.72
Property Taxes($534.47)
Utilities($506.00)
Insurance (home, auto, life, flood)($297.76)
Groceries($450.00)
Other expenses($300.00)
($2,088.23)

As you can see, there is sufficient funds in the SHTF plan above, primarily due to a generous amount of unemployment for 26 weeks. Based on this, you could last 9-12 months before having to pull money out of your investments. Hopefully this will help you find another source of employment. Of course, the benefit of keeping your expenses low and paying off your debts/mortgage dramatically help here.

Luckily, this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I will say that I am expecting it in 2021. They’ve moved several new, young engineers into my group and are starting to train them in areas that have been my specialty. My assumption is that when the time is right for them, management will let me go. Since we’re in OK financial shape right now, I’m not fearing it – I’m just hanging out, doing work I enjoy, and collecting the paycheck till they make the decision.

Kevin

Hope your holidays are going well!

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Mr. 39 Months

Need something to do during winter in Covid Season? How about a home inventory?

OK, for many folks that sound more like punishment than fun, but for a lot of us in the FIRE community, we love to create and monitor lists, reports, finance sheets, etc. So this sort of thing can be enjoyable. I know, we are sick individuals.

Its also an excellent spur to make folks embrace minimalism?

Over at Women Who Money, they’ve written a pretty good article on why you need a home inventory and some practical steps on starting one. The key reason is that every year “One out of 20 households has to file insurance claims due to theft, fire, wind and water damage.” Having the items you need replaced inventoried, photographed and ready to go will dramatically help this – and may make you review your insurance to make sure it covers the needs.

The article goes through the variety of helpful aps and computer programs that could assist you in it. Some of the ways folks can do it is:

  • Make a video and describe items and their costs. One for each room
  • Photos. Again, documenting details, including brand names and serial #s
  • A digital inventory. FIRE folks friendly list, using apps, online tools, or just a spreadsheet

For some of the more expensive and/or hard-to-replace items, they suggest you include:

  • Brand
  • Size
  • Model number 
  • Cost – include the receipt if you have it
  • Store where purchased
  • Purchase date
  • Serial number
  • Photos or videos (close-ups are helpful)
  • Appraisal of antiques and collectibles
  • Replacement costs

I think one of the best things the article covers I getting started. Rather than “eating the whole elephant” they suggest you start with selected categories and do them one at a time, then branch out as necessary. The ones they suggest you start with are:

  • Electronics (don’t forget phones!)
  • Appliances
  • Jewelry
  • Art
  • Collectibles
  • Furniture

For storing the inventory as you complete it, they suggest a physical copy in a fire safe at home as well as one off-site (safe deposit box?). Also have digital copies, including out on the cloud.

I’ve had an old version of the inventory, but haven’t updated it in years. Going to start this Thanksgiving weekend with the electronics and appliances, and then go from there.

I liked this article so much, I added “Women Who Money” to my blogroll. Looking forward to reading more from them.

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Mr. 39 Months

Stay Prepared for the Months Ahead

I’ve spoken before about the need to prepare for emergencies, and with the advent of Hurricane Season (Sep/Oct), The wildfires in the West, and the coming winter, I thought it would be good to revisit. As the Boy Scouts say “Be Prepared.” I was reading an author with some good ideas (I won’t link, because some folks might not like his politics).

Here are the “must have” items that you will need:

  • A two-month supply of your prescription medications and your over-the counter medications.
  • 20 AA and 20 AAA batteries.
  • Two good flashlights per person plus extra batteries
  • 20 Bic lighters.
  • 25 candles. 
  • Two portable radios plus extra batteries
  • 3 rolls of Duck Tape
  • 2 extra tarps.
  • 200 feet of 550 lb. paracord.
  • An everyday carry knife for each person
  • A professional bleed/trauma first aid kit
  • 2–3 bottles unscented household bleach

For this food section, the author attempted to generally balance the total calories — 50% carbs, 30% protein, and 20% fats.  Buy items that you like to eat already; avoid items that you have never tried.

  • Rice: 25 pounds total            
  • Dried Black Beans: 1- 4- or 5-pound bag
  • Dried Pinto Beans: 1- 4- or 5-pound bag
  • Dried Garbanzo Beans: 1- 4- or 5-pound bag
  • Dried Kidney Beans: 1- 4- or 5-pound bag
  • Dried Lentils: 1- 4- or 5-pound bag
  • All Purpose Flour (unbleached): 1- 10-pound bag per person
  • Yeast: 2 ounces per person
  • Rolled Oats: 10 pounds
  • Corn Bread Mix: 4 packages
  • Muffin Mix: 4 packages
  • Canned Tuna: 60 oz. total
  • Canned Pink Salmon: 36 oz. total
  • Spam or Beef Stew: 12 cans
  • Chili and Beans: 12 cans
  • Powdered Milk: 4 cups reconstituted per day per person
  • Powdered Hot Cocoa Mix: 2 cups reconstituted per day per person
  • Olive Oil: 1- 51 oz. bottle
  • Canola Oil: 1- 48 oz. bottle
  • Mayonnaise: 2- 20 oz. jars
  • Peanut Butter: 2- 48 oz. jars
  • Jam/Jelly/Honey: 3–4 large jars
  • Salt: 1- 26 oz. Morton Salt
  • Brown Sugar: 1- 32 oz. envelope
  • White Sugar: 1- 4- or 5-pound bag
  • Assorted Nuts: 1- 2.5 pound jar

Overall a good list of items. Some other points to consider:

  1. Keep your cars fueled up to at least ¾ of a tank (folks in NJ during Hurricane Sandy found that a large percentage of gas stations had no power – so no gas)
  2. Check car status (spare tire) and buy a couple of quarts of oil
  3. Fill propane tanks (can use grill to cook if needed)
  4. Check your cell phones OS and apps are updated
  5. Make sure your important papers are available and able to be moved. Maybe make a copy and send to someone you know

Stay healthy and be ready.

Mr, 39 Months

Frugal Tip – Fixing your mistakes, instead of letting them compound

We’ve noticed some stains around the base of our downstairs toilet, and after doing a little research, it turns out this is a sign of water leakage. I had just changed out this toilet last year, so I was a little disappointed – it meant that I had not done the install correctly.

So I watched a couple of videos online and referred back to a few of my books – then took the plunge. The initial thing to check was the wax seal, which goes around the flange on the floor, and the toilet “seals” to. This is usually where the system fails and the leak begins.

Tools you will need:

  1. Wrench, 11mm or 7/16” (or adjustable wrench)
  2. Scraper (to clean off old wax seal)
  3. Towels
  4. Rubber or Nitrex gloves
  5. New Toilet bowl wax ring (Typically $2 – $3)

In order to do this, you have to do the following steps:

  1. Turn off the water supply to the toilet (typically a knob to turn near the floor on the left or right back of the toilet, which feeds to the tank
  2. Flush the toilet and then drain the tank and toilet (you can use a wet/dry vac, or just a sponge & bucket – which is what I used). Make sure you wear rubber gloves
  3. Disconnect water supply from upper tank (it should be something you can easily unscrew)
  4. Use an 11” wrench, 7/16” wrench, or an adjustable wrench to take off the two bolts holding the toilet to the floor
  5. Once the bolts are off, you should be able to lift up the entire toilet assembly. Place it off to the side, on a towel
  6. Examine the wax seal and flange. In this case, I had put in on wrong, which caused it to leak. You need to put the wax ring on the flange on the floor, not on the toilet.
  7. Clean off any old wax residue, then put on the new toilet wax ring. You may need to replace the bolts in the floor if you bent them when you pulled off the toilet.
  8. You then place the toilet down, aligning it with the bolts that are sticking up from the floor. When you place the toilet down, it will dig into the wax ring on the ground, sealing it in. My mistake was to place the wax on the toilet hole at the base, and assume it would seal
  9. Once you place the toilet down, push on it from above/sit on it and rock gently back & forth. This will help dig the toilet into the wax ring.
  10. Put the bolts back on and tighten down. Do not over-tighten or you might crack the toilet
  11. Reattach the water to the top tank, and then turn the water back on. Toilet should refill
  12. Flush the toilet a couple of times to get water back into the toilet bowl

Once this is done, monitor the toilet for the next week to make sure the leakage doesn’t reoccur.

My brother-in-law was a contractor and said that “once you’ve changed a toilet 3 times, you can do it in your sleep.” I hope he’s right.

Mr. 39 Months

Year of Saying “Yes”

A very good article from Leftover Dollars on their “Year of Saying Yes.” Basically, they had a loved one who passed away after an illness of 2-1/2 years. That person had lead a rough life, without a lot of funds, and at the end, even when they had the opportunity, they chose not to spend money or time trying to experience or enjoy parts of their life that they had expressed an interest in. They maintained their “I don’t have enough money” attitude all the way up to the end.

Leftover Dollar noted that the experience of watching this “played a huge role in my FIRE journey.” Because of LD’s childhood, she was a natural saver and very frugal, so even as things went well and money became available, purchases and lifestyle inflation was put off, due to a fear of being broke “and scared of the chaos that ensues when the money runs out at the wrong time.”

I’m not sure how many folks in the FIRE community pursue it due to deep emotions on poverty and not having enough money (probably a significant portion). In this case, LD used her loved one’s final situation as motivation to start “saying yes” to all the things she wanted to do, but had been holding out on. She sought out a new job because she didn’t enjoy her current one. She traveled, visited old friend, and embraced life. “Basically, whenever an opportunity arose that I really felt would enrich my life or satiate some longstanding curiosity, is said yes. I acknowledged that I could afford it and made it fit into my budget.”

Its an excellent read, and I suggest you take a look if you have the time.

How many of us are holding back while pursuing FI, trying to put in that last dollar into our retirement funds? How many things have you passed up, even though you wanted to? While I definitely don’t embrace the “YOLO” lifestyle (you only live once), Mrs. 39 Months and I have done our share of traveling, spending and generally enjoying life. I came late to the FIRE movement – I only got to saving 40%+  of my income in the last couple of years. Before that, it was more like 20%.

Still, I find as we get closer, I’ve had the urge to say “yes” to a lot more. Once we hit our FI goal (8 more months?) I plan on saying “yes” a lot more often.

How about you?

Mr. 39 Months

Frugal Tip – Another instance of doing some of your own home repairs

In light of my recent failure to take care of my home items, I thought I would take the chance to show that, yes I can do stuff around the house that helps keep our costs down. Doing your own home repair work and home maintenance is an excellent way to reduce your costs, live frugally, and learn some skills that you could, conceivably, turn into a side hustle as you move towards FI.

In this case, one of our toilets has been slowly leaking over time, leading to small amounts of water on the floor. This has caused some issues with the trim, and if not dealt with, could cause issues with the subfloor/flooring as we move forward. Better to jump on this now when the issue is minor.

My brother in law was a handyman/carpenter for most of his adult life, and I had the chance to work with him for a couple of months when I have first gotten out of the military. One of the things he told me was that replacing a toilet was easy, and once you had replaced three, you knew everything you needed to know and could do it with ease. “The problem is that most folks never replace three toilets in their lifetime” he said. He also commented that this was true with most home repairs/fixes – installing flooring, cabinetry, etc.

There is a great wealth of information through books and on the internet in reference to home repairs, so I’d urge everyone to consider it before they pay someone a lot of money to do some of the basic stuff.

In my case, I went and bought a $150 toilet at the local home repair store, about $40 of additional items needed, and read a bit on how to do it (I’ve replaced one before, but wanted to catch back up). Then it was on to the process.

  1. Turn off supply & drain the tank
  2. Remove nuts, lift off tank and toilet bowl
  3. Put wax seal on new toilet and install on floor with washer & nuts
  4. Attach tank and hardware (don’t tighten too much)
  5. Re-attach supply, fill tank & test for leaks
  6. Attach the toilet seat

Overall, the process was done in about an hour, and so far no issues. Saved probably $250 in the cost for a plumber to do it – it wasn’t very complicated. You just had to be willing to get a little dirty (not with crap, but with the wax seal, water, etc.)

Any experiences on your part doing home handyman work?

Mr. 39 Months

Frugal Tip – taking advantage of business travel

One of the things you often read in our community is people’s love of travel. Some folks make it a full-time career once they hit FI! For those of us still working, we sometimes get selected for business travel.

My father was an engineer in Oak Ridge, TN (where they helped make the atomic bombs) and did extensive business travel all over the US. One of the things he told us near the end of his life was the regrets that he had, that in all his travels he did not take an extra day or two off, and see the sights of the local areas that he visited. The company spent all that money to send him to these places – and he did not take advantage of the free travel.

I have tried to take that to heart in my business travels. As an industrial engineer in the logistics industry, I have had the chance to travel to about 20 different states, and some of the major cities of the US (LA, Portland, Denver, Dallas, Orlando, Miami, Boston, etc.) and done international travel to Canada and Sweden. Not only has this enabled me to rack up some airline and hotel miles, but also I have tried to take advantage of the site seeing opportunities.

I have even had the benefit of taking Mrs. 39 Months along with me. We have traveled to Orlando, Portland OR, and a few other places where she has been able to go see the sites, and I have done my work.

Recently I had to travel down to Miami for a warehousing conveyor project (it is not going that well) and had time to run around for half a day on Sunday. I hit Miami’s south beach, sampled a lot of Cuban cuisine, and toured an interesting house down there called Vizcaya. It’s a mansion built in 1920 to look like an Italian villa, for one of the founders of the John Deere Company. Nice gardens, nice home, a lot to recommend it if you happen to be in Miami.

Hope your travels go well this holiday season

Mr. 39 Months

Mr. 39 Months Mom takes a trip….

And you thought travel was just for FIRE folks?

I owe an awful lot to my mother, like most of us. She helped form my character, assisted me in getting a start in life, and provided loving (though sometimes critical) support. She also was an excellent example of how to live a life of abundance and frugality.

We grew up in the upper middle-class, with my stepfather and mother both management professionals that earned a good, but not fantastic wage. We never had to go without, but at the same time, we never had the latest toy or gadget. When we reached the age to drive, there was a third car, the old beater car that we inherited after our Mom got a new one. We had clothes, plenty of food, and the opportunity to try new hobbies and interests, but again – never a lot of new, hip stuff.

We all got jobs when we hit 16, so that we could earn our own money (and spent a lot of it on gas for the beater, since it was expensive then). Our college wasn’t paid for us, we had to get scholarships, and work through our college years to pay for it (as well as take out loans). I’m aware that the price of college back then was much less than it is now, I’m just pointing out that it was not expected for the parents to assist at that time.

After we left the nest, my stepfather and mother traveled a lot, but they also saved a lot, not spending more than they took in, and living a fun but frugal life.  Well, my mother is now in 81, and after my stepfather passed early this year, she chose to get back out and travel. She signed up for a 2-week cruise around the Greek islands, and took off in early October.

She just got back this weekend, and in talking to her, she really enjoyed herself. While she wasn’t as mobile as they were in the past, she did get to see a lot of stuff, and met some new people who took her “under their wing” as they ran around. While she isn’t sure about international travel going forward, she still plans to travel more. In fact, she’s coming up to see me in New Jersey and my brother in Vermont for Christmas. On the road again…..

Why do I write about this? Just to remind everyone to plan for the long term, because you are going to stay healthy and want to run around for a long time. Be ready and enjoy it!

Mr. 39 Months