By | May 12, 2016

Hand coming out of the sand. That rhymes.

I love your emails. I do. I know I haven’t replied to you or maybe I replied to you once, you replied back and then you never heard from me again. I’m terribly sorry. Please know that I’ve read it though and your kind words make my day, my week, my month, my life. Here are some questions that I receive quite a bit and my general responses. Or rather, these would be my general responses if I weren’t such a lazy sack of flesh and I actually replied to you.

What books do you recommend?

  1. Your Money or Your Life. I know you’re shocked to see this at the top of the list. This is easily my favorite personal finance book because it taught me how to think about money and work and value. Its only flaw lays in the investing advice (at least in the older version I read). My inspiration for my wall chart, my visual aid, came from this book.
  2. The Bogleheads Guide to Investing. John Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, didn’t actually write this book.
  3. A Random Walk Down Wall Street. I like this one because it gives an overview of all types of investments. In the end, it still recommends good old low-cost index funds. I’m thinking of this one mostly because it’s sitting on the table next to me.
  4. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This isn’t a financial book, but it changed my life. I steal my resolutions chart ideas from Gretchen and that alone was worth the price of the book. It’s one of the few items I’ve purchased and not rented through the library. That is the highest praise this thrifty gal can give.
  5. JL Collins’ forthcoming book on investing, The Simple Path to Wealth. It’s a combination of #1 (how to think about money) and #2 (the investment advice I follow and exactly why) and #4 (some wonderful insights on happiness).

I have a TON more that I could recommend, but this post was getting kind of long. Reading is my favorite activity in the world and I am always looking for book suggestions, so if you have any, please let me know! If you’ve already sent me a book recommendation, I’ve taken your advice and read it – thank you! I’ll be more likely to read it if it’s fiction and not about personal finance.

Oh, and I know you know this, but get these books from the library. The library is a magical place. I would live there if I could.

What is your investment strategy?

VTSAX. I like a simple, time-tested and logical investment strategy. I’m writing a longer review of Jim’s book (#5), because he’s already said everything I think so eloquently.

How much money do you actually have saved?

Enough to make me feel “not anxious.” I don’t like going into details about numbers because I don’t think the numbers themselves matter. My lifestyle (no kids, no house, traveling, hates stuff) is probably very different from most of your lifestyles, so I don’t think a direct comparison is healthy or productive.

That poor dog.

That poor dog. Statue in Buenos Aires

Why did you go to law school if you didn’t want to be a lawyer?

I was helping my sister study for the LSATs and I found that I really liked doing the logic games. Sister decided she didn’t want to pursue a graduate degree, but I played with her prep book for a couple of weeks and took the test for kicks and giggles. At that point, I was working in insurance, bored out of my tiny little mind, and searching for a way out. I did well on the test and schools tempted my thrifty heart with waived application fees. “Get an advanced degree” was on my life bucket list and I figured it was a good time to cross that off.

There was no grand plan. I knew about the pricetag, but I also felt confident in my ability to pay it off. Life is a journey and it was all a part of the process. I met some wonderful friends there. I learned a bunch. I have a badge on my resume that seems to impress people. No regrets.

You’re cute. Do you want to go out with me?

Aww, thanks. I should work harder on the “not dying alone” worry, so….maybe? My problem is that I really dislike emailing back and forth with strangers. I know pretty quickly when I meet someone if there’s anything there, but it’s a chemical thing and not something easily conveyed through the series of tubes known as the internet.

I’m a wanderer right now and not really staying in one place long enough to form the requisite bond. I don’t know. I’m still working on this problem. Not very hard and not very often, but when you email me asking me out, I do contemplate it for a minute. I’ll let you know when I figure it out. Do you have any suggestions?

Here is my list of qualities I’m looking for in a guy if that helps.

Thriftygal’s Mate Wishlist

  1. Smarter than me
  2. Funny
  3. Not wasteful
  4. Shivers
  5. Vegetarian
  6. Logical
  7. Not religious
  8. Likes to travel
  9. Good cuddler
  10. Optimistic

#4 is the only mandatory quality and that’s the one I can’t gauge over emails. This list is much longer, but I’m starting to understand that some of my criteria are unreasonable. I’m pretty sure that nobody can teleport. #1 is the hardest trait to find. See? All of my humor isn’t self-deprecating!

What is your weirdest list?

None of my lists are weird! Okay, I do have an archenemy list. It mostly consists of various jars of salsa I couldn’t open throughout the years. Really, I think it’s just prudent to write down your hatred so you can let it go.

You seem awesome! Can we be email buddies?

Aww, thanks, but as I described in my first paragraph, no, probably not. I’m not really looking to add more email time to my life. One of my favorite things about retirement is that I am not a slave to any electronic device or my inbox. I love going out in the world and doing things. I carry my phone with me, but I don’t have my website email connected to it. I also don’t have the Facebook or the Twitter connected to it. I prefer people/animal watching and people-interacting.

A dog riding a motorcycle in Rio.

A dog riding a motorcycle in Rio.

I have enough emails on my to-do list from the people that I know in real life and it’s one of my least favorite revolving door chores. I understand why some postal workers go crazy. I’m sorry. I’ve written about this before because I really do feel guilty about this. There are so many awesome people out there and you take the time to email me and I feel so lousy when I see my bloated inbox taunting me.

It kills me because I LOVE receiving and reading your emails. I love the constant reminder that the world is full of so many awesome people! I just don’t have the druthers to keep up. Druthers is a fantastic word, isn’t it?

Aren’t you afraid?

Nah. Not about my retirement, anyway. Not about money. Not about leaving a lucrative profession to live a life I absolutely love. When I quit my job, I jumped up in the air and clicked my heels together. Then I fell because I’m not coordinated. True story.

I approached this as a new adventure and not something to fear. I’m young and I’m hard-working when I need to be. I’ve never had trouble finding a job. Money stopped being meaningful to me after a while. It’s like apple picking. Yeah, maybe I’ll eat the first few apples, but how many can I digest? At some point, that extra dollar is kind of meaningless. If you continue to live just to earn, then you’re wasting your life. I can’t eat all those apples. They’ll go bad before I can finish them and I don’t have enough freezer and pantry space for canning. Why waste my time picking them? Why not go for a hay ride instead? I think this metaphor is breaking down. In real life, I would eat none of the apples because I’m allergic. But you get my point.

Honestly, it never really occurred to me to be scared until you started emailing me asking me if I was.

Huge dog in Prague.

Dog in Prague. That also rhymes.

Can you look at my finances and tell me what to do?

I thought I would love doing that, but no. Maybe I’ll pick up the project again eventually, but I just don’t want to make the time. I think you know what to do. Most everything is a want. Pick a few comforts and ditch the rest. I can’t tell you what to prioritize because I don’t know you. If someone went through my finances and told me to stop buying earrings, I’d tell them to shut their gaping pie hole. Pick your top three or top five or top two comforts and eliminate the rest, putting everything you have towards your goal.

Your website is ugly.

That’s not a question.

26 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. Patrick

    I have to say that this is one of your best posts. Have you ever taken a Briggs Meyers assessment? I would be interested to learn what your type is? I love your candor, and directness!

  2. joes4u

    Can I please ask you to make a sworn promise (under pain of watching an entire series of a Kim Kardashian reality TV series if you lie) that you will inform your readers once JL Collins book is published?

    On another note, I shiver. I’ve never met anyone else who does when they aren’t cold. I don’t know why it happens, it just does. I’m not trying to suggest I’m your perfect match though, for a start I’m only at 9/10 from your list and I’m not sure your “Dog in Prague” caption actually rhymes, at least not with my British accent, despite the numerous different pronunciations I tried. I really did want it to rhyme but I feel a little let down. Because of this I don’t think we are really suited to each other and should just be friends.

  3. Chio

    Thanks for posting! As always, entertaining, insightful and inspiring.

  4. Liz

    The picture of the second statue is the shewolf of legend that kept Romulus and Remus alive as infants, who then went on to found Rome and the rest of western civilization. So, that’s your unsolicited nerd fact of the day!
    Also, thanks for continuing to share your life because watching you enjoy your freedom is tremondously inspiring. I think if we are willing to do the introspection and honest assessments of our personal goals and values, the advice you provide here is all we need. Looking forward to future ramblings!

  5. Alex9803258722

    Nice. I enjoy reading your site, keep it up. Learned about you from MMM. Your website isn’t too ugly.

  6. Simon Kenton

    IANAL but I suspect that if Ms Gal begins to offer personalized responses to finance-advice requests, she may be a fiduciary under the new regulations. Almost impossible to discharge that responsibility by email to strangers.

    There is a second meaning to the story of the she-wolf from which the Roman world derived. Livy 1.4.6: Tenet fama cum fluitantem alveum, quo expositi erant pueri, tenuis in sicco aqua destituisset, lupam sitientem ex montibus qui circa sunt ad puerilem vagitum cursus flexisse; eam submissas infantibus adeo mitem praebuisse mammas ut lingua lambentem pueros magister regii pecoris invenerit — Faustulo fuisse nomen ferunt; ab eo ad stabula Larentiae uxori educandos datos. Sunt qui Larentiam volgato corpore lupam inter pastores vocatam putent….

    The legend is that the floating basket the little boys had been exposed in washed up in a shallows; a thirsty she-wolf from the mountains thereabout had bent her wandering course to the infant boys, gently lowered her teats to them and began to lick them, when the master of the king’s cattle found them. It is said his name was Faustulo. He took them to his wife Larentia’s stable to be brought up. There are those think that from the way Larentia kept her body common, the local shepherds called her Lupa….

    “Bent her wandering course” – first occurrence of what has now been a cliche for 2000 years. “Began to lick them” – the Romans thought the post-partum licking that mother animals gave their babies actually formed them, structured their bodies. Survives in English as “lick them into shape.” “Lupa” – whore, as well as she-wolf. If the story actually began as a woman of sullied reputation providing mother-love to exposed infants, the wolf tale would be a back-formation based on the pun.

    We’re all nerds here.

    Were I not married, in competition on all but 5. You can’t have a name like Simon Kenton and eat nothing but loathsome decoctions of chlorophyll. The thought induces shudders rather than shivers. I would note that there’s arguably a solecism in trying to assert both 5 and 6.

  7. tt

    Excellent post!

    Several ‘tells’ indicating you are not likely to be a poet…

    Use of phrase: “gaping pie hole.”

    Bonus: “shivers.”


  8. rudi schmidt

    You shiver or ‘he/she’ shivers?, probably doesn’t matter.
    We know how it all ends, but “Conspiracy of Fools” about Enron is a terrific read–and ‘educational’, if that matters.
    And I’m guessing you’re an ENTJ….probably doesn’t matter either.

  9. chc4

    You say you’d like someone smarter than you. Why would they be interested in you if you are not as smart as they are? I’ve been happily married for nearly 50 years to a very smart man who’s easy to be around and who I find very exciting. I always feel safe emotionally and physically with him. Here’s the deal… most men bore me after a short time. I’m smart and quick and I need someone who “gets” me. My husband does. He doesn’t think as fast as I do but he definitely is as smart as I am (whatever that means), and his responses are always well thought out. He’s the ying to my yang and it’s worked easily for years.

  10. Carrie

    This post made me laugh and smile. Thank you

    I love the way your humility and awe of living life comes through the writing.

  11. Simon Kenton

    @rudi schmidt

    “And I’m guessing you’re an ENTJ….”

    The social meet-ups, the evidence-based decisiveness in striking out into retirement; you could well be right; it could be so. But I’ll see you and raise you one: my guess is Ms Gal is an INFP. One of the rarest types, not really comprehensible to any of the other types except their own and the INTJ, their partners think themselves stunningly lucky to have landed such an exotic creature, but rightly live in fear that at any time the Spirit calls, “their” INFP could just … go. I’ve known well only 2 of them, a rocket scientist (literally, orbital physics) and an attorney who just went, and is studying to be an ayahuascadero. Paramahansa Yogananda’s autobiography is a great self-portrait of one. Interesting at least to me was that this spiritual leader at one point urges us all to save at least half our income while young, so we can follow the spiritual path unencumbered later.

    INFPs are never really yours; can’t be, no matter how they try to will it; are always God’s. I intuit some of that from Ms Gal.

  12. Classical_Liberal

    I didn’t realize blogging garners so many date requests… Maybe its an authority thing, or maybe thrifty gal is just really hot. In any event, goodbye OK cupid, hello, Classical_Liberals blog.

  13. Thriftygal Post author

    All the discussion about my Meyers Briggs status is causing me to break out in hives and I honestly wasn’t sure how to answer these comments. I’ve taken the test before, but I don’t remember the outcome. I have it written down on a list somewhere, but I couldn’t locate it. Sorry to disappoint!

  14. walter

    wait…setting aside Meyers Briggs for the moment, has this Mate Wishlist passed through the family and friends vetting process first?

  15. Darren


    I have been percolating this question for awhile and this seems like the best place/time to ask it. What are your thoughts on how/where to meet women who are interested in financial independence? I would think that a lot of the men who read your blog would be interested to hear your thoughts on this. I am 28 and all of the women that I meet are on the house/kids/ridiculous consumerism kick. Because of this, I stay single as well and don’t date very much. Any advice on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks 🙂

  16. Alex9803258722

    @Darren and @Thriftygal There are actually MMM meetups in many cities. I’d recommend going to a meetup to simply meet people. Meeting people is often a good place to start.

    1. Thriftygal Post author

      Yes! I second this suggestion. There’s one in Chicago tomorrow (5/17) that a reader alerted me to.

  17. Mike

    It was great to meet you tonight, Anita! Congrats on your continues success in retirement! And your writing is really good, so keep it up!

  18. zeejaythorne

    I love the idea of picking your favorite luxuries and foregoing the rest.

  19. Jan Stukenberg

    I loved your spunky story of you in the Rockford newspaper. It reminds me of a young gal I met in Palm Springs, CA who was a couch surfer. Didn’t own much except her tiny typewriter on which she wrote poems
    For people who stopped to visit her on a street corner in various cities. At night she’d find a couch in someone’s home. The poem she wrote for my daughter and me was priceless. I think you and Abby should meet some day..your philosophies are so similar. Keep on blogging and entertaining your readers.

  20. KruidigMeisje

    Both on money as on mate advise: read the Dispossessed of Ursula Le Guin. She also has a few nice things to say about the universe, but you can skip that.

  21. Steven Maggio

    You are living out what I’m hoping to do in about 5 years (it’s been my goal as well for the last 5). I’m struggling with what to do with the assets. I know you’ve invested a lot of your savings, but I’m curious about a few things.

    How confident are you in the (net worth*.04)/12 calculation?
    Have you thought about diversifying into an annuity instead of index fund? Or even buying a house and renting it out for income?
    How did you arrive at $1,500 a month? Has that been ample? Too much? Too little?


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