Woohoo it’s Friday – Time for House Hunting!

A short boohoo for the Ohio teams that are no longer in the NCAA tourney. We started the bracket with four teams including my Ohio State Buckeyes, but were down to only one by the start of the Sweet Sixteen. Xavier was the last team standing, carrying the banner for the rest of the Ohians out there.

Ah well, there’s always next year. Now on to the good stuff.

really nice house smaller

Probably not the next Casa de Frugal Buckeye

The one fun thing about moving

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Operation Declutter

green army men

Moving can be a painful process. Luckily for us we have found someone to buy our current house so the only things left are finding a new place to live and moving all of our stuff there. Yay (sarcasm denoted).

I think that the worst part of the whole moving process is packing, and specifically, having to go through your stuff and deciding what gets packed and what gets thrown in the goodwill pile. And like most people, you end up telling yourself that you really need to keep that macaroni picture frame that you made back in third grade. Sure you haven’t pulled it out of the box that you packed it in from the last move, but you’ll definitely find a spot for it in the next house. Right.

When we moved into our current house my company paid for movers. Holy Cow! It was so awesome! We basically let the 3 guys loose on our house and they packed up everything for us. Some of the best money my company has ever spent 😉 It was a blessing and a curse because we didn’t have to think hard about getting rid of a lot of stuff, but we are now paying the price with a lot of junk that we probably should have gotten rid of last time.

Time for Operation Declutter

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Woohoo it’s Friday!


Steve Urkel loves Friday, do you?

Friday is a great day. Infinitely better than Monday. Have you ever seen those stats about the increases in heart attacks on Monday morning because of people stressed to head back to work? Yowzah! Friday marks the end of another work week and signals the beginning of the weekend, which by its very nature is full of possibilities. The weekend belongs to you and you get to decide what to do with it.

Because of Friday’s universally loved status as the best day of the week (I don’t think ABC could have legally called it TGIF* if this wasn’t the case) I figured it would be a great day to write about something I’m grateful for and to highlight what I thought were some of the best posts and articles from the past week.

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How to make $10,000 in 1 week!

I know that headline sounds really scammy, but hear me out. We are in the midst of selling our house right now and this time we decided to do the work ourselves and sell the house “by owner”. By doing this we forego paying the 3% fee to a selling real estate agent and instead take charge of all the things that they would do. Such as: setting the price, taking pictures, hosting showing, hosting the open house, negotiating with buyers, etc.

So far the whole experience has gone really well. We had a bunch of showings and got an offer within a week of listing the house! So, fingers crossed, everything will go smoothly from here and we’ll be done with the process and moved out in a little over a month.

sold   Flickr - Photo Sharing!

I’ll do a longer post after the process is over and let you know the full details, but just from a rough numbers standpoint it makes a lot of sense to do this on your own if you can. Our house will sell for a little over $300k so paying a realtor to list your house at 3% costs you almost $10,000.

So what do you think, would you ever list your house for sale yourself?

Photo by smemon

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Busyness is a Shitty Excuse

It’s been a little while since I’ve last posted, and there are a couple reasons for that. I’ve take on a brand new role at work, we’ve been prepping our house for sale and looking at new ones to buy, I’ve been doing the legwork to list our house ourselves (without a realtor), and we’ve been prepping for the arrival of Frugal Buckeye Junior numero dos. I don’t want this blog to turn into one where 2-3 months go by between posts and everyone starts with “Man I’ve just been so busy lately I haven’t had the time to sit down and blog”. Unfortunately if I keep on like I’ve been, then that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

But busyness is usually just a shitty excuse that’s masking the real reason you haven’t done something.  And in this case the real reason is I was procrastinating writing anything because I was scared to. Which in the grand scheme of things is a pretty silly thing to be scared of. Seeing that on the screen it seems even more ridiculous than I knew it was in my head. I was scared that I wasn’t cool enough or had enough early retirement/ frugality street cred to be writing a blog, scared that I wasn’t…

saving enough of my income – Frugal Woods

posting all of my net worth and financial foibles for all to see – J Money

doling out enough hardcore finance numbers to help people save more of what they make – MadFientist

posting about living in awesome places during FI – GCC

handing out punches to the face in the name of badassity – MMM

handing out life tips on dealing with sponge sisters and drunken dinosaurs – 1500days

But in the end I figured there’s no way I’m gonna be any of these guys/gals, and there’s a bunch of people out there that are just like me who are still working to be able to give up their cars and bike everywhere, or travel the world, or save more and spend less, so all I’ve got to do is focus on being me and writing what I want to write and what some people might want to hear.

So that’s what I’m gonna do from now on. No more being scared.

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Why is it called a Roth IRA?

investing pyramidThis post continues my thoughts on the best ways to put your money to work. In the first post I introduced my investing pyramid strategy, and talked about the 401k which serves as the base and first location for my investible dollars. The next place I like to invest my money to work for me, and the next level of the investing pyramid, is the IRA/Roth IRA.


IRA stands for Individual Retirement Account. An IRA functions similarly to a 401k, where you can put money into an IRA and it grows without the hindrances of taxes on any appreciation or dividends. The “normal” IRA is pre-tax meaning you can deduct the amount of money you put in it from your income that year, and you only have to pay taxes on the money when you withdraw it. The Roth version is after tax, which means you don’t get to deduct your contributions from your income, but you do get to withdraw the money without paying any additional taxes on it.

One thing with an IRA is that you must have employment compensation i.e. income from a job in order to contribute, so if you or your spouse does not work you are unable to contribute (bummer for stay at home spouses). But because of some of the quirks of the IRA and Roth IRA they are a great tool to use when planning for financial independence and early retirement.

Another thing to note with the “normal” IRA is that there are income limits that kick in and remove the tax deduction if you make over a certain amount in a year. If this is the case for you, you’ll want to contribute to the Roth IRA instead, that way you don’t pay taxes on it twice.*

IRA limits

So for 2015 if you are married, and you and your spouse make more than $118,000 you can still contribute to an IRA, but you lose the ability to deduct that amount from your taxes. But the Roth IRA is a pretty sweet consolation prize. Especially for those of us aiming for FI and early retirement.

The super-de-duper Roth IRA

The reason the Roth IRA is so sweet for the FIRE** crowd is because you don’t have to wait until you’re in your 60s to start withdrawing from it. The Roth was initially intended as a starter retirement account for people that aren’t sure they can afford to put away money for retirement. What this means is that you can withdraw all of the money that you’ve contributed to the Roth, except for any of the appreciation. Here’s an example.

Let’s say you’ve decided to start saving for retirement and you think the Roth IRA is the way to go. You contributed $5,000 for the last three years, $15,000 in total. But because the market has been on a tear lately, that original $15,000 has grown to $18,329, giving you a gain of $3,329 over that time. Say you want to start a business or need some money for a down payment on a house.*** Since it is a Roth IRA you can withdraw the $15,000 you put in, but the $3,329 gain has to stay in the account until you hit 59 1/2 just like a traditional IRA.

This early withdrawal without any penalties makes the Roth IRA a great option for those of us who are lucky to retire early. Using the Roth IRA you can grow your investments tax free and then withdraw your contributions to fund your early retirement until you reach 59 1/2  and can take normal distributions.

I'm gonna help you save some money!

I’m gonna help you save some money!

Quick Tangent – I didn’t know where the name Roth came from so before writing this I decided to look it up. The Roth IRA was made possible as part of the Tax Relief Act of 1997, and is named after the bill’s sponsor William V Roth Jr. a Senator from Delaware.

Another technique that you can use in early retirement is to convert portions of your normal IRA into Roth IRA when you are in early retirement and are probably in a lower tax bracket than during your working years. The Mad FIentist has a few great posts on IRAs and this process that he calls IRA laddering. So hop over there to take a look if you are interested.

With all of the benefits of the IRA/Roth IRA the reason that it ends up second in priority is because of the contribution limits. For 2015 the maximum you can contribute is $5,500 or $6,500 if you are over 50. The Roth IRA is great, but you’ll need to sock away more than $5,500/year if you want to hit FI well before most people.

Well that wraps up the second layer of the pyramid. If you have any questions or comments on how you invest differently please let me know.

*Confession from Frugal Buckeye – This is another reason why it is good to understand these types of things and track your income/spending. I had an automatic withdrawal set up for my IRA and the next year when I received a raise at work that bumped me over the IRA deduction limit I forgot to change it to deposit into a Roth until after a few deposits had already been made. Not a huge mistake, but still something that could have been avoided with some planning.

** Financial Independence Early Retirement – not firefighters, although I suppose it’s still an awesome option for them too.

*** Note, not that raiding your retirement is always a good idea for either one of these plans, but this is just an example.

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Is your college degree worth $4 Million?

cardale ntl champIt seems like every story you see about athletes in the media is about them making a boneheaded decision. Either they’ve done something dangerous like driving under the influence, something awful like domestic violence, or just something stupid like going broke during retirement after making millions during their playing career. So it’s always nice to see a story where someone makes a good decision – even better if it’s a player that you’ve rooted for.

If you missed it, which how could you, the Ohio State Buckeyes played a little game o’ football against the Oregon Ducks on Monday night, and won the first ever College Football Playoff championship game. As you might have heard the Buckeye’s season was tailor made for a Disney sports movie. And one of the biggest stars of the show was Cardale Jones, the onetime third-string quarterback who became the starter at the end of the season after injuries to the first and second-string quarterbacks. Continue reading

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The amazing investing pyramid and the doubling dollar

dollar-bills_05_20_14-592x382The key to building wealth and achieving Financial Independence is by putting your money to work for you instead of spending it. This is one of those keys that is just so simple once you grasp it, but unfortunately can elude someone (myself included) for a long time. In this respect my wife is much smarter than I. Early in our marriage she got me to go along with her to talk to an investment advisor that her and her parents used, and we agreed to put away a little bit each month. It was nowhere near enough, but at least it was something.

These days I’ve got a whole lot more respect for the work that those dollar bills can do when given the chance. Here is the strategy that I use for investing and putting my money to work for me. Continue reading

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Go Bucks!

Bucks-Win-Sugar-Bowl-560x420Chances are that many of you out there in the interwebs are football fans, but even if you’re not, you still might have heard the results from the opening round of the first ever College Football Playoff. How the Ohio State Buckeyes, who are on their third-string quarterback traveled down to New Orleans and thumped the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Sugar Bowl, and earned themselves a place in college football’s first ever playoff championship game. As you can imagine this is a pretty momentous occasion for the Frugal Buckeye household, being as we reside in the Buckeye state and yours truly is also an alum of The Ohio State University (and yes you have to say the the every time you say it).

If you were going to write a script for a sports movie you could do a whole lot worse than using the story of the Buckeye’s season this year. Hyped as a top 5 team and poised to make a run at a national championship, their All Big Ten quarterback hurt his shoulder before the season even began. Many sportswriters (and not a few fans) wrote off the season as a lost cause before they had the chance to play a single game. The second-string quarterback, a freshman, taking his first start in almost two years, due to breaking his leg as a senior in high school, looked shaky in a loss to a not great Virginia Tech team in the second game. The hopes and dreams that were alive before the season looked to be on life support, if not yet dead. Continue reading

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Big news for the Frugal Buckeye Household!

We have some big news around here!

Well actually we have two!! items of really big news that affect the frugal buckeye family in different ways. Continue reading

Posted in News! | 3 Comments