I Dream of FIRE

In pursuit of financial independence and personal fulfillment

Sharing coupons is a simple way to bring a smile to someone’s face

How many times have you walked into a store or restaurant with a whole page of deals out of the weekly mailer, bought your item, handed over the relevant coupon and walked out with a bunch of coupons that will only end up in the recycling bin?

Instead of trashing the rest of those discounts, next time you walk into the store, take what you’re going to use and give the rest away to anyone else in the joint who wants them. Continue reading

Dreamcatcher: Posts and podcasts that inspired me this week

Welcome to the Dreamcatcher, where I share the things that inspired me in some way this week, whether to take action or think differently. Continue reading

The credit card superpowers you probably forgot about

Do you know your credit card’s superpowers?

Oh sure, you probably know about fraud protection and cash back or travel rewards.

But did you know your credit card can reimburse you for something that was damaged, stolen or (possibly) just lost? Or that you automatically get an extended warranty beyond most manufacturer warranties just by purchasing something with your card? Continue reading

My CD collection is freakin’ enormous, and I won’t give it up

This is my CD collection. It represents 25 years of memories. Even though it’s all duplicated on the iPod and hard drive on the floor, I have no plans to get rid of it.

This gigantic stack of black cases is my CD collection. It’s about 4 feet tall, weighs more than 30 pounds, numbers more than 2,000 CDs and takes up the better part of a heavy duty shelf in the basement.

Those tiny things on the floor, a 160-gig iPod and a 1TB hard drive, each contain the same 25,000-plus songs as the enormous stack.

If everything is digitized, better organized, significantly smaller and uber portable, why do I keep that ridiculous tower of plastic?

Because it represents something far more to me than recordings of music and thousands of dollars of investment. It is a physical manifestation of a core element of my being: a deep love for music of all types.

Yes, I listen to Spotify and Amazon Music. I have most of it on my iPod. I don’t actually play the CDs anymore.

Looked at logically, it’s totally irrational. I have no reason to keep 2,000 plastic discs of outdated media that have already been converted and stored in a far more efficient manner. But it isn’t about logic. It’s about who I am.

I tie music back to countless memories from all the eras of my life. Getting rid of these discs would feel like letting go parts of my history.

What’s your cluttery pleasure?

You probably have your own ridiculous collection. It could be comics, baseball cards, houseplants, coins, candles, Fiestaware, books — heck, maybe you’re the neighborhood cat lady with 12 borderline ferals and a forklift for moving 55-gallon drums of kibble. Chances are, you’ve got entirely too much of something because, for whatever reason, that thing “speaks” to you.

And that’s OK.

That’s what you should stock up on and fill your cabinets and shelves and garage with. It’s like the idea Marie Kondo writes about in The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up: Does this item spark joy. For me, pulling all those discs off the shelf and flipping through the pages absolutely did. But I can’t say I would go to the next level of Kondo’s practice and display all those CD cases. That’s a bridge too far for this particular collection.

However, that’s not to say I haven’t let go of sentimental things that once brought me joy.

Recognizing when it’s time to go

I’ve gotten better over the years at chucking stuff I thought I was holding onto for sentimental reasons. About once a year I’ll go through boxes of things I keep stored in the basement and get rid of more things that I wasn’t ready to the year prior. Every year it gets easier to recognize when I’m just holding onto something for no good reason.

I have eclectic tastes. Foxy Shazam, Miles Davis, Eisley, Marilyn Manson, Led Zeppelin, Bayside, Nickel Creek and Jim Brickman are a decent representation of the spectrum of genres in my collection.

A year ago I sold off my first drum set. I’d hauled it around three states, but for the past 10 years it sat unplayed in various closets. Despite the years of good memories, I knew it was time to see it go to someone else. I even sold it for less than I asked because I had to be honest about what it was worth to someone who didn’t have all those memories attached to it.

I’ve sold, donated or throw out other things that I once used a lot or had honorable intentions of using in the future. It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking you’ll get around to using those things one day. But when you take an honest look it’s easy to see where intention and reality part ways, and that, in turn, makes it easier for you to part ways with things.

That’s a great exercise that can be cathartic as well as clutter reducing.

For now, those stacks of CDs remind me of different moments in my life: Where I was when I bought each disc, trading discs at high-school music camp, college road trips, driving across the country and blindly pulling out CD after CD hoping to surprise myself with what would come on next. They still bring me joy.

They’re still keepers.

Vote for the best personal finance posts of 2017 in the Rockstar Rumble

Many of you may already be familiar with Rockstar Finance, the aggregator site of all that is awesome in personal finance blogs. Every day, Rockstar posts three of the best recent articles from more than 1,000 blogs and shares them with the world.

Right now there’s also a friendly contest going on, the Rockstar Rumble, where they’re also posting eight of the best personal finance pieces from 2017 each day. The posts are pitted against each other March Madness-style, and the post with the most votes in 48 hours moves on to the next round in the bracket.

Continue reading

My wife’s a big winner (and you could be, too)

My wife has an uncanny knack for winning prizes. Not the land-a-ring-on-the-bottle-and-win-a-giant-bear kind of prizes, but more like the enter-to-win kind. To be honest, it’s gotten to the point where we just expect to win something anymore. Continue reading

Desire paths: The unconventional way to live your life

I can’t tell you how excited I am to be J. Money’s guest today at Budgets Are Sexy.

Regular readers of my Dreamcatcher posts may have seen way back in July, when I said “there was something in this particular [99% Invisible] episode that sparked an idea for a future post — several actually. I most enjoy when I can synthesize an idea from one field with a concept from another, and that’s what happened here. Now I just have to get around to writing the post about it!” Continue reading

Can you recognize the seasons of your life?

We go through life on a linear time scale, a logical rhythm of seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades. Time is orderly, and so we often group ourselves and others according to how much time we’ve spent on Earth.

This is important to people in their 20s. This is what people in their 30s are facing. This is what we should be doing in our 40s. These are the changes people in their 50s will see.

So much advice is based on the idea that life happens in stages, and those stages are age-based. But age often has less to do with our best course of action than the circumstances we find ourselves in. Continue reading

Dreamcatcher: Posts and podcasts that inspired me this week

Welcome to the Dreamcatcher, where I share the content that inspired me in some way in the past week. This week, I didn’t listen to any podcasts (gasp!), but I watched some videos that inspired me. Maybe I need to tweak that headline? Continue reading

10 punk rock songs for the frugal badass

Kanye West and Jay-Z can sing about living the expensive life, and 50 Cent can be broke as hell and still pretend to be rich. But punk rockers don’t play that game. They get by on minimalism, DIY and not caring what other people think. Here are 10 punk songs to help you get your frugal on. Continue reading

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