One of the local radio stations was having listeners call in to answer the question, “What are you going to spend your tax refund check on?” I didn’t even want to listen to the responses. I knew most, if not all, would be about the purchase of frivolous material goods. As if the IRS is their interest-free layaway program. Due to a planning mistake on my part, I too was about to get a very sizable refund. Enough to buy several tech gadgets, fancy clothes, some bling like a new watch, and still have money left over to go on vacation for a couple weeks to an all-inclusive resort. So what was I going to buy? All of them…I “deserve” it. Right? Wrong. Such is not the way of someone trying to retire early. I can’t wait to get my refund check, only to immediately turn around and deposit it into my brokerage account. Every single penny of it. One step closer to retirement.
The cost of convenience…is synonymous with burning your money. I’m amazed at how much money people waste for convenience. Buying fruit that’s already peeled and cut up (and spoils sooner). Buying hamburger meat that is already pre-formed into a shape of a burger (for a 40% increase in price).
Here’s a big one I learned today. It’s finally nice outside and I felt like grilling some burgers, except my tank was out of LP. I looked online at the local big box stores for their price of exchanging cylinders. It was $16-18. And then something caught my eye. It said that the tanks are filled with 15 lbs of propane (LP). I thought, “That’s weird. These are 20 pound bottles. Why only fill 75%?” This is a trend we’ve been seeing a lot lately, especially in the grocery store. They decrease the size or amount, and charge the same or even more for it. A great example is ice cream from the store. The cartons were always a half gallon. Now they are 1.5 quarts (75% of a half gallon). Our minds are programmed to think they’re the same size as always. Or gigantic boxes of cereal or big bags of chips, that are only half full. You think you’re getting the full amount, like for the LP tank. After all, the tank is the same size, but since you can’t see it in, you can’t see that they’ve only filled it 3/4ths.
In the case of the propane, the next thing I did was to call a business that fills propane bottles. Remember when we used to do that, because there was no convenient exchange? They charge $1.99 per gallon. It took a short investigation to find out that it takes 4.7 gallons to completely fill 20 pound tank. That’s with 20 pounds, not 15. So, 4.7 gallons * $1.99/gallon = $9.35 for 20 lbs. The cost of convenience of an exchange is $16-18, for only 15 lbs. The exchange works out to about $5.00/gallon vs. the $1.99/gallon at the filling station. That’s 2.5 times as much. Wow. It didn’t take that much longer for the nice lady to fill up my tank (plus we a nice conversation) versus the “convenience” of exchanging it at a kiosk at the big box store. I might as well put a $10 bill in the burner on the grill. That’s like burning money.
(Photo: Burn Money by Images Money (CC BY))
It seems fitting that the first blog post should be an introduction. How and why does one start a blog? I guess there are as many reasons as there are blogs. Each have their own unique reason. Some love to write. Some just chronicle. I guess I fall in the latter, and definitely not in the former. I envisioned myself having a blog after I retired, had a sailboat and sailed off to explore the world, like many of the blogs that I currently read. But I also wanted a record of my journey to get there.
And it will be a long journey. There are many hurdles to overcome. The biggest is finances. And that takes time. It turns out that my minimum savings “number” could occur right about the time that my only child begins college. Another hurdle is learning how to sail, buying a sailboat, and preparing it for the adventure. Instead of starting this blog after all of this has occurred, I thought I would start chronicling the journey to get there. I will be discussing spending less, saving more, and preparing financially for retirement. Part of that preparation is my plan to buy a sailboat, outfit it for live-aboard, and sailing away to the Caribbean.
I am seeking escape. I am seeking escape from hyper-consumerism. I am seeking escape from debt. I am seeking escape from cold winters. And mostly, I’m seeking escape from the daily grind.
And so it begins…