Rich Examines Moving Expenses, Minimalism vs. Serial Killers, His Cat’s Shopping Habits, Modern Living, and The FIRE Desire

Dear Penny,

I thought it’d be interesting to compare our actual moving expenses with our estimated moving expenses. And I believe this will lead into a rant about modern living, early retirement, and education. We’ll see.

Let’s take a peak out the window of our new situation.

Is this home?

Before we moved, I estimated $30,000 in expenses. The big expense was our car, because now we need 2 cars as modern dual income working professionals. We also needed a bunch of furniture because all we owned was a couch, a bed, and an old dresser.

Well, the numbers are in — gaze upon them and be astounded:

Click on image to enlarge.

I’m not sure what’s astounding about this, I just wanted a dramatic transition.

Mrs. Rich told me my estimates were too low, and she was right. That said, I was expecting it to be worse. Every time we leave the house we spend a few hundred dollars on something. I’m not complaining at all — we knew we’d spend a lot getting a car and getting our apartment set up. $6,000 isn’t nothing, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. I decided long ago I don’t want to lose sleep over money. 

Here are some observations about minimalism vs. frugality, modern professional living, and FIRE (financial independence / early retirement).


The personal finance blogosphere has already noted this apparent paradox, that minimalism (desiring fewer possessions) is often at odds with frugality (desiring inexpensive possessions). I think we’re a good example of this.

I was telling someone about the furniture we needed, and they commented, “You could find a lot of that on Craigslist.” I can’t remember what I said, but I was thinking, “Do people still buy second-hand merchandise from would be serial killers?”

But seriously, the Rich family doesn’t use Craigslist. Mrs. Rich and I agree that we don’t really want a cheap find; we want a quality piece of furniture that we enjoy and would like to keep. That’s minimalism vs. frugality. So when you look at the line items like Rug, Dressers, End Tables — that’s what you’re seeing.

Even the cat is getting into the act, showing an interest in Crate And Barrel!

Do not give this animal a credit card.


I would describe us as modern professionals. We’ve got the dual careers, the dual cars, the school activities, and the Vitamix. This is what we want. But in the midst of this tumultuous transition, I need to say something: I understand.

I understand the desire for simplicity — something you, Penny, have expressed over and over in one way or another. My life right now isn’t difficult, but it isn’t simple either. And this is mostly by choice, and the consequence of a life where one moves around.

We’re busy, juggling school related activities and work related activities. On top of it all, I volunteered to coach Kindergarten soccer. What was I thinking? Yet another activity.

Most of our stuff is still on a boat, so we’re eating take out on paper plates. At night we’re exhausted. It won’t last forever, but it’s been quite week. Or two.

I understand your mixed feelings about education in America. We went from a small cozy international preschool to a huge chaotic urban elementary school. Our boys, so far, don’t like it very much. All the rules, regulations, and impersonal interactions … I understand why you can’t stand it. Part of me wanted to pull them out after the second day, drop everything, and move to Finland.


I understand why people strive for FIRE — Financial Independence and Early Retirement.

Continue reading “Rich Examines Moving Expenses, Minimalism vs. Serial Killers, His Cat’s Shopping Habits, Modern Living, and The FIRE Desire”

Rich’s Travel Journal: No Spain, No Gain! (Part 1 — Barcelona)

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A while back I wrote about my 3 Key Ingredients For A Great Vacation. The ingredients are Exciting Destination, Quality Lodging, and Memorable Activities (all geared in some way to accommodate me, Mrs. R, and our twin 5 year olds). And now it’s time to tell you about how this works in practice. In April, you see, the Rich family took a 2 week vacation to Spain! Exciting Destination? Check.

Our vacation was essentially 2 trips combined into one. We started off with one week in Barcelona and then flew south to Andalucia for the second week. These are completely different areas of Spain, they don’t even feel like the same country. I won’t get into the details but Barcelona is part of Catalonia, which has grumbled off and on for independence for many years, while Andalucia is solidly Spanish, the “real” Spain, as it were.

We started in Barcelona.


I’d always wanted to visit Barcelona, so I was pumped to spend a week there. Our arrival, however, wasn’t entirely smooth. During the flight over, we noticed one of our boys had a finger that had turned into a giant red balloon. He’s a tough kid, but it was bothering him and kind of freaking us out because we didn’t know what it was. Broken? Sprained? Bee sting? Cat scratch? No idea.

Our hotel called a doctor who kindly came to our room to check him out (another perk of a nice hotel), but Mrs. R had to take the boy to the emergency room anyway, and yadda yadda we got a bunch of medicine and lotions and still don’t know exactly what it was. We lost one day of activities, and eventually the swelling went away, probably on its own. Added a little spice and annoyance to the trip. All part of the fun!

In addition to this medical situation, we had the normal 2-3 days of crazy transition. The boys always test our limits in a new environment. Thankfully, the environment was awesome, the epitome of quality lodging. Our hotel, the Alma Barcelona, is one of the few in the city that has an indoor pool. It was the perfect temperature and depth for kids, while being stylishly located in the hotel spa. It wasn’t the Fargo Holiday Inn, if you know what I mean. We were often the only ones there and it was an oasis of fun.

Lots of swimming

Our suite encompassed 2 separate rooms — one for the kids and one for us.  Each room was huge, with its own bathroom and sitting area and complimentary snack fridge. Yes, pricey, but there is no way we will sleep in the same room as the boys while on vacation because it’s impossible to actually sleep with them jostling around.

Lodging was good, so what about memorable activities?

It took us a while to get rolling in Barcelona. The first day gave us the finger, ahem, and the second day we had scheduled a visit to the Aquarium. The Aquarium was nice, but honestly there are great aquariums everywhere. Probably wouldn’t do that again.

It was much more fun to find lunch in the nearby neighborhood of Barceloneta. We stumbled on a cool fish place that was chaotic and crazy and awesome and happens to be a gastronomic icon: La Cova Fumada. The boys downed octopus like it was candy.

La Cova Fumada. Crazy and crazy good.

Fun. And then we just wandered. I think we stopped at a playground where the boys played with some random kids. Cool part of town.

Continue reading “Rich’s Travel Journal: No Spain, No Gain! (Part 1 — Barcelona)”

Penny’s Travel Journal: Harry Potter World on the Cheap

Dear Rich,

You used to love going to water parks. What happened?

I would LOVE to go on a water park vacation! I was seriously going to plan a road trip where we would hit a bunch of great water parks in the United States. It was going to be called The Great Water Park Tour of North America (even though all of the water parks were in the U.S., I thought “of North America” made it sound better).

But, alas, it never came to be. We are not able to vacation like we used to. When my husband was an elementary teacher, we would go on all sorts of vacations in the summer. Now that he owns his own chiropractic practice, and he’s the only doctor there, he is not able to take that much time off from work.


This past year we made it a priority to go to Harry Potter World at Universal Studios in California. I had finished reading all the books to our third child, the seven year old (the others had read them with my husband already), and we were all simply crazy about Harry Potter. The trip was the culmination of our love affair with that wonderful wizard.

Mr. Penny took a long weekend. We had to fly out there, of course (previous vacations had us always driving, since it was less expensive), since we didn’t have time to drive, but we got cheap plane tickets (only $111 each) and off we went!

It was amazing! We had so much fun. And here are 3 reasons we could do it on the cheap:

Continue reading “Penny’s Travel Journal: Harry Potter World on the Cheap”

Rich’s Travel Journal: 3 Key Ingredients For A Great Vacation

Dear Penny,

You might be wondering what a Rich family vacation looks like, especially after I revealed that we spent $36,000 on travel in 2016. Well, thanks for asking! I’ll be posting regularly about my travels, but first I need to describe our recipe for cooking up a great vacation.

Every Rich family vacation has to have 3 key ingredients: Exciting Destination, Comfortable Lodging, and Memorable Activities

1) Exciting Destination: It starts here. Are Mrs. Rich and I genuinely excited about the location? I’m always surprised when people tell me about their planned vacation with precognitive dread. And often, they’ve done the same mediocre trip multiple times. Typical conversation:

Me: “So Jimbo, are you excited to go back to Florida this year?“

Jimbo: “Yeah, well, we have the timeshare. It’s ok. Wouldn’t mind trying something new, but been going there since ‘05. Last year there was a funny raccoon … ”

Me: “Zzzzzzzzzzz.”

Jimbo: “Zzzzzzzzzzz.”

Why do people do this? They already know the trip is boring! And when we’re excited, the kids get excited by osmosis.

Ballynahinch Castle, County Galway, Ireland

2) Quality Lodging: Is there a conveniently located hotel that will provide enough space and comfort so that we all don’t drive each other completely bonkers? HINT: THIS MEANS A SEPARATE ROOM FOR THE KIDS. (In case you missed that, I bolded, italicized, and underlined it for emphasis. And made it blue.) What can we do with the kiddos when they wake up at 5am or get bored at 7pm? And how’s the food, and the gym/spa?

Continue reading “Rich’s Travel Journal: 3 Key Ingredients For A Great Vacation”