An Interview of Sorts with 1500 Days

First off a big thank you to 1500 Days for taking time out of his busy schedule to share a little about himself and deal with my crazy interview questions, I hope you all enjoy it.

Can you share a little bit about who you are, just pretend we had that weird introduction at a party and you are supposed to tell a perfect stranger who you are and what you do, except the difference is we care.

I’m a 41 year old family guy who writes software for a living. I have two daughters, ages 7 and 5. The older one is just like me while the younger one is just like my wife. Strange how that worked out.

In my freetime… Hold on a second, I have no free time. This is because I’m in the middle of rehabbing our home. Just this weekend, I put up a bunch of shower tile in 2 bathrooms. The whole house should be done in 6 months or so.

When I do actually have moments to spare, my favorite activity is enjoying the outdoors here in Colorado.

Oh, and I have my little blog (1500days.com). The core focus of the blog is early retirement (hopefully at 43), but it’s also my outlet. There is no shortage of things and people who annoy me and I enjoy writing about them.

If you didn’t spend all your time blogging about money, Frugalsaurus, and early retirement what would you be doing?

Question 2

Frugalsaurus, me, Spendosaurus

 

I like to build stuff, I like to work with wood and also 1s and 0s (software for you non-geeks). I have a crazy treehouse planned for my children that I’ll build in the spring. I also have a long list of projects lined up after I retire. One is a murphy bed in our guest bedroom. Another project is a microbrewery app for my state of Colorado.

Recently you hit the 1 million dollar mark in your investments, what did you do to get there, was it just saving your 9-5 paycheck or was it more than that?

The most important part is participating in my companys’ 401ks. Between the wife and I, 401ks are about 50% of our portfolio. A 401k is a complete and total no brainer. Every time someone tells me that they don’t contribute to their 401k, I want to yell and scream. I control myself and limit my criticism to some mild passive-aggressiveness.

A bathroom I designed and built from the studs for a past flip

A bathroom I designed and built from the studs for a past flip

Before we had kids, we flipped houses and this was highly profitable. The US tax law has an amazing rule that states that if you live and own a home for 2 years, you don’t have to pay capital gains where you sell. On one of our flips, we made 100K. All. Tax. Free. The proceeds from the flips went into after tax savings. Our little home flipping adventures have greatly contributed to our bottom line.

While 1 million dollars sounds pretty good, I’ve made plenty of mistakes including not maxing out my 401k when the markets were tanking in the last recession. Another mistake was blowing $20,000 on a new Honda Element 11 years ago. Live and learn.

One final thing I want to say is that you don’t have to make doctor or lawyer money to build a large nest egg. While I’ve never divulged my income, I make far less than the Penny Planters (180-200K/year). It’s all about saving until it hurts when you’re young. Then, save a little more.

I know a lot of us who are looking to retire early talk and practice being frugal, while here at Even Steven Money we put into practice many of the same frugal habits, is there any that you pay extra or care more about quality than price?

Yeah, absolutely. I buy good, quality tools for construction, no Harbor Freight for me.

I also like Apple products because they last forever. I’m typing this on my old Macbook that is over 7 years old. I drool over the MacBook Air, but it would be a silly purchase since this one works fine.

Finally, quality pizza and beer is a must. If I’m going to ingest crappy calories, they must taste good.

Blogs and Podcasts are relatively new, do you think this is something that will continue in the near future or can you take a look into your crystal ball of the future and see what’s next?

People have short attention spans and we are overwhelmed with information. Twenty years ago, the idea of Twitter would have sounded ridiculous. Now, it is a part of our daily lives. If you write a 2000 word blog post, it better be really, really good or folks are going to click elsewhere.

My best guess is that media in short form (whatever that is) will become more and more popular.

If you were writing a book, what would it be called and who would you have narrate the audiobook?

I am writing a book. The working title is Money, Life and Little Plastic Dinosaurs. It still has a long, long way to go, so don’t hold your breath. The introduction totally kicks ass though. It came to me when I was standing in the valley of Yosemite National Park. Really, it is great. Now, I just have to finish the rest of it.

As far as narrating the audiobook, my number one choice would be James Earl Jones. Can you imagine the voice of Darth Vader telling you about the Rule of 72? Second would be Christopher Walken. He is a quirky guy and I love his bizarre speech mannerisms. Third would be Paul Reubens in his Pee Wee Herman voice.

In this same book that we just decided you are writing, one of the chapters is called “The 3.5 Keys to Wealth that Mom and Pop Pop Didn’t Tell You”, what’s in this chapter?

  • Be very careful where you live: If you live around by Spendy Pants type of people, you may get sucked into their consumer craziness. If you don’t conform, you may feel like an outcast. This very thing happened to us.
  • Work your ass off while you’re young: When I first started working at my real job, I put in 80 hours weeks for 6 months. I had no family, so it was easy to do. The right people noticed and I grew my salary aggressively and quickly. Now that I have a family, I am through with the crazy work weeks. However, I’ve been able to maintain my healthy income ever since.
  • Study computer science: I didn’t realize that I’d enjoy programming computers until I was 24. At the time, I was in pharmacy school and quit it to pursue software development. It was one of the top 3 decisions of my life. I love the work and there is incredible demand for it, so you’ll be paid well.
  • (3.5?) Use your brain: The mainstream media throws so much crap at us. This seems especially true with money. Most of it is fearmongering. The best thing you own is your brain. Question everything. Accept nothing without careful consideration.

What makes you want to retire early?

The world is beautiful. Catch it while you can.

The world is beautiful. Catch it while you can.

There are so many things I want to see and do in this world and work just gets in the way. Take a look at any National Geographic magazine with the curiosity of a child. The world is huge, beautiful and spectacular. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit 39 states and a handful of foreign lands, but I’ve barely scratched the surface of our pretty blue sphere. I want to see and do as much as I can while my body is in good condition.

Besides that, I love to read. I love to build. I want to spend more time with my children. I want to exercise more.

Retiring will free up my life.

What makes you think you can retire early?

The thought of early retirement actually terrifies me. I started working when I was 14 and have always had a job since. The thought of not working a regular job doesn’t sit well with me at all. However, this problem is with me and my money security issues.

I love numbers. Numbers are the truth. I know how much I spend per year, so I just apply the 4% rule to that.

What’s the Awakening moment that sends you to retire and sit in the rocking chair whittling wood all day?

I want 1 million and no debt. Currently, I have about a million, but I also have a mortgage balance of $120,000. Since borrowing money is so cheap (3.25% in this case), there is no way I’m paying it off early. So, my compromise is to have enough money to cover the mortgage or $1,120,000.

How important are your kids and wife in the decisions and effort you are taking to retire early?

They are very important. I earn all of the money and they spend it. Just kidding. Sort of.

Really though, everyone has to be “in” on the goal. If I had a wife who demanded fancy cars or $1000 purses, early retirement wouldn’t be so early. Plus, I’d probably go nuts and have to be locked up.

However, the family is on board. I found a used bike on Craigslist for our 7 year old. It was in spectacular condition, almost new. When I gave it her for her birthday, I cringed when she asked me if it was new or used. I told her it was used. To my relief, she said, “OK that’s fine.” She jumped on and went for a ride.

Mrs. 1500 is very thrifty as well. If she ever threatens with a stupid purchase. I tell her that maybe I’d be better off married to my plant that demands nothing more than water and a spot by the window. Mrs.1500 then usually threatens to “water” the plant with bleach or gasoline. The plant is still doing OK, so all is peaceful. For now.

My 20+ year old plant. I like to remind Mrs. 1500 that I have known Mr. Plant much longer than I've known her.

My 20+ year old plant. I like to remind Mrs. 1500 that I have known Mr. Plant much longer than I’ve known her.

When you first started blogging the idea was to share your story and hold yourself accountable, has there been anything that has surprised you along the way good or bad?

The best and most surprising part has been meeting some really great people through the blog. Some live near me and they have become friends. This Sunday, a bunch of us are going snowshoeing together up in the mountains.

When I’m on the road, I get to visit with other bloggers and readers. Recently, I was honored to meet none other than Even Steven at one of my favorite pizza places in the world.

WIthout exception (well there is one exception, but I won’t go there), everyone I’ve met through the blog has been spectacular. If I could design the world, you’d all live in my neighborhood. Except that one person.

What are you going to do on the first day you retire?

Mr. Money Mustache gave me the idea that I could retire early and for that I am grateful. He also happens to live near me. The first thing I’ll do is jump on my bike with a 6 pack of beer and leave it on his doorstep (I wake up very, very early and I suspect he may still be asleep).

After that, the wife and I will drop the kids off at school  take a bike ride out into the mountains.

I’ll then do some reading and maybe take a nap, something I haven’t done in years.

After lunch, I’ll set to work on a project, maybe building a website I’ve been thinking about or tinkering in the garage a bit.

I’ll pick the kids up from school and then discuss their day with them.

After homework is done, we’ll have a celebratory pizza and beer.

I’ll end the day with one of our favorite activities, a family walk down by the river.

While I’m familiar with you, please tell everyone where they can find you and if you have any projects or anything fun coming up that you want to share.

Since I’m in the middle of remodeling, upcoming posts will feature some of my work. I also want to inspire you to do some of these projects, so I’ll be providing lots of instructions and hints.

Also, I had to change jobs recently and this is going to result in some interesting financial choices which I’ll be writing about::

  • I have about $260,000 in my 401k. I’ll be telling you my plan for the rollover of the money.
  • In my new position, I had to establish a corporation and this is an adventure in itself. I have to buy my own health care, establish my own 401k and take care of a whole bunch of other fun stuff.

I hope to see you over at my blog, 1500days.com. Finally, a big “thank you” to Even Steven for sharing his little piece of Internet real estate with me today. I promise not to call you Stevie any more.

30 Responses to “An Interview of Sorts with 1500 Days

  • Nice interview! 🙂

    I would love to hear the story about that “one person” you met through the blog that turned out to be… not nice (Thursday Rant Subject?!)
    theFIREstarter recently posted…How to Stop Your WordPress Site from being HackedMy Profile

    • It is no one you’ve ever heard of, but here is this story:

      I was at the FinCon conference and I noticed a blogger who lived in my neck of the woods. I made a mental note to go up and introduce myself at some point.

      I noticed he was stalking the big guys at the conference (MMM, J$) as some people do. Anyway, I saw him in the hall one day and went up to introduce myself. We started talking for a bit. Some blogger that this dude wanted to talk to more than me walked by. What does he do? I’m mid-sentence and he just turns around and walks off.

      So, it isn’t like he stabbed my firstborn, but he was quite rude.

      • EvenStevenMoney
        3 years ago

        I’ve met that guy before. Not specifically but when I was coaching and big name coaches would be in the area, that guy is usually a guy I wouldn’t hang with putting it nicely.

      • Hah, how rude! It’s hard to escape those sort of people, no matter what group you hang with!

        Thanks for sharing the story and satisfying my nosiness/curiosity 🙂

  • Love reading more about the people behind the blogs I find so interesting. And like Mr. 1500, I enjoy using our blog as an outlet to share my opinions of other people. I seem to find no shortage of people making bone-headed decisions about their money. so instead of letting it fester inside me, I share it with the wide world of our readers (maybe a little exaggeration) and then vow to never do the same… Thanks for the info to digest this morning!
    Mrs. Maroon recently posted…Bah Humbug!My Profile

    • YES, exactly! In a lot of ways, the blog is my outlet and psychologist. It allows me to clear my mind. Also, it is the one place where I can be my true self at all times; no filters.

  • Great interview, nice to get to know Mr.1500 a bit more. I think we all want to know who that “one person” is.
    Brian @ Debt Discipline recently posted…PassionMy Profile

  • Great interview, guys! And I had no idea that you were once in pharmacy school, Mr. 1500! Looks like you made the right choice switching to a career in computer science. Thanks for the 401k advice! I’m about to have access to one for the first time in several years and I’m definitely planning to save until in hurts!
    Kate @ Cashville Skyline recently posted…Young Professionals Need a Side HustleMy Profile

    • Yep, pharmacy school. I can talk about aromatic compounds (organic chemistry) in addition to 401ks. I really like the school and earned good grades (Honors baby!). However, the work of a modern pharmacist is counting pills and fighting with insurance companies. No thanks.

  • Great interview. Definitely didn’t know that Mr. 1500 was in pharmacy school before switching over to computer science. It’s so neat to learn more about your fellow bloggers.
    Tawcan recently posted…November dividend updateMy Profile

  • What a wonderful interview guys, really great questions and answers! I love that all the bloggers you’ve met (with one exception noted) have been fantastic, and that Even Steven was absolutely no exception! I’d love to meet some of you one day when I make it to the States (or of course, if you ever make it ‘down under’!).

    • The land Down Under is on the list, although won’t happen anytime soon.

      Thanks for the kind comments!

  • Awesome interview! Love that the “10 Questions” tables were turned–nicely done, gentlemen! 1500–I’m so excited to hear about your book plans! Can’t wait to learn more…
    P.S. how does the houseplant cope with a sub-60 degree thermostat?
    Mrs. Frugalwoods recently posted…7 Great Gifts For Frugal WeirdosMy Profile

    • The plants to just great at cooler temps. We were gone for 10 days over Thanksgiving, so they never saw temps north of 55. They were a little dry when we got back, but otherwise fine.

      Don’t hold your breath for the book. Introduction is written and the chapters are outlined. That is about it. 2016 maybe?

  • Love the plant. I have one that I got the first day I moved into my dorm room freshman year in college (13.5 years and counting). My roommate and I named it Harry, and he is still with me – living on the lanai these days. In fact, Harry has been propagated and pieces of him live on with many of my good friends from different stages of life and cities I’ve lived in. Though occasionally I have to remind those friends to trim their Harrys when I visit them. =)
    Mrs. PoP recently posted…Our Latest Insurance DanceMy Profile

    • Propagation! I wonder if I can do it with this one? I’d love to. Thanks for the idea and Merry Christmas Harry!

  • I like the idea of the blogger neighborhood/world. But who is the one person who is not invited??? =)
    Holly@ClubThrifty recently posted…Why We’re Joining a Healthcare Sharing MinistryMy Profile

  • Great interview…big fan of Mr. 1500 and frugalsaurus. I’ve been interested in the early retirement part of personal finance for a few years and it’s definitely nice to read about other people’s journeys. In the mainstream media and in my office, it’s always about how it’s tough not to get into credit card debt or live paycheck to paycheck. I cannot relate to that. I’m with Holly…who isn’t invited to the blogger neighborhood =)
    Andrew@LivingRichCheaply recently posted…How Many Credit/Debit Card(s) Do You Carry?My Profile

    • Andrew, thanks for kind comments!

      As far as the uninvited blogger, I’ll never tell! Unfortunately, he is actually one who DOES live near me. He isn’t anyone big, so you’ve probably never heard of him.

  • Hey… what happened to Smarties?!?!?!? That MUST be on your list of post-retirement projects. I’m not ever going to stop bugging you to get those on the market 🙂

    All kidding aside, I love reading your posts and really look forward to hearing about where you are putting your rollover money, how you selected health insurance and incorporating… these are all issues I face today.

    Cheers,
    Ree
    Ree Klein recently posted…Don’t Wait! The Time is Always Now.My Profile

    • Ha yes, I really want to get the Smarties thing going. It is on and off project, currently off. Thanks for the kick in the ass though! I need it!

  • Awesome interview, Steven!! Couldn’t agree more about being careful where you live. Our move to the country was the catalyst for us getting our financial house in order. I suspect that if we still lived in our “elite” suburb, we’d still be working hard to keep up with the Joneses. And, Mr. 1500, I love your low key plans to celebrate reaching your early retirement goal. Sounds like a perfect day. 🙂

    • Laurie, thanks for the kind comments! Yes, living next to the wrong people is a recipe for misery. I don’t miss that at all.

      I can’t wait to write that post on the day I retire. That will be a good one.

  • We almost got sucked into lifestyle creep eating at our savings when we relocated to Houston. Our neighborhood is loaded with “Spendy Pants” types and it was tempting to up our game in regards to lifestyle, cars, etc… Then we remembered, Oh yeah, we only have 5 years left and we can move wherever we want for retirement and raising the kids. Yeah, we’re good keeping our lifestyle the same comfy frugal one it is. Great interview!
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Hurry up retirement!My Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      Neighborhood envy can happen so easily with a Range Rover in every drive way and a new boat rolling down the street being pulled by the big new SUV, it’s easy to ask why don’t we have that in our driveway. Pass on some of stuff in the driveway for the big investment account, that’s what makes the difference.

  • The 1500 Days blog is one of my favorites. I kind of hope we become more like Mr & Mrs. 1500, and I say that seriously.
    Done by Forty recently posted…An Embarrassment of RichesMy Profile

    • EvenStevenMoney
      3 years ago

      I agree with you DB40, they provide a great example of leading the way to early retirement.

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