How Much Money Do You Make?

"How much money do you make?"

“How much money do you make?”

This is the question that Carl Richards, the NYTimes Financial Sketch Guy, used to open his most recent piece. As he tells it:

“Recently, I tried an experiment. I just started asking people how much they make or how much they’re worth. The results were pretty consistent. They’d look at me in shock and stammer a bit.

We’re not comfortable talking about money. We’ve been taught that it’s rude. Even more important, we may be afraid of what the numbers say about us.”

By hiding these numbers, though, Richards asserts that we turn to other status symbols to demonstrate our wealth and our income to the world. And that’s where folks get into trouble. They buy expensive cars (and other Big Hats) to demonstrate that they’ve “made it” when those Big Hats are often hiding a distinct lack of cattle (err, net worth).

Richards encourages NYTimes readers with the following:

“Maybe this idea is too radical, but for the next week, I’d love for you to test this theory. Try living as if everything you did financially was public information. How does it affect your decisions? Do you find yourself still doing things that just look good, or are you doing things that actually are good for you? Do you find it easier to be your authentic self? And, perhaps most important of all, do you now understand the difference between buying the trappings of success and actual success?”

Been There, Done That…Wrote The Blog

Continue reading How Much Money Do You Make?

IKEA And The Florida Keys, An Unfortunate Juxtaposition

Manatee with calf via

This weekend we took a mini road trip and headed to the Keys to put Mr PoP’s recent SCUBA certification to good use. It had been a few years since we last made it down to there, but it didn’t disappoint. Mr PoP went diving with a group of folks he met through his certification course, where they saw some jellies, a whole bunch of stingrays, and even a loggerhead turtle.  (Color me jealous, as they are one of my happy animals!)

I had planned on tagging along to snorkel while they SCUBA-d, but as conditions weren’t great for snorkeling a couple miles out, I had to be content with sticking close to shore and renting a paddle board and doing some exploring via paddle board (and parking next to the mangroves for some SUP yoga) on my own. But I still got to see a manatee (or was it a chubby mermaid?), a small shark, some adorable mushroom-like jellyfish, and an adorable little fish with a long nose that danced across the surface of the water on his tail fins for a good 30 feet or so.

Side Note: We should really learn more of the names of these lovely sea creatures, as otherwise I am reduced to calling them 1-Ups or Jesus fish.

All in all, it was a wonderful time. Continue reading IKEA And The Florida Keys, An Unfortunate Juxtaposition

He Said She Said – Blogs We’re Reading Lately

Today we’re bringing you another round of He Said/She Said. These posts are really your chance as readers to hear how discussions (and sometimes disagreements) play out when managing our lives with each other. For a look at some of the past He Said/She Said discussions – check ‘em out here.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhile Mr PoP and I love each other and share many interests, there’s actually surprisingly little overlap in our reading lists from day to day. (Personal finance sites are one area of obvious overlap, but even within that niche, we tend to lean toward different sites.) But sometimes we find ourselves reading sites that we find so neat and so interesting that we have to share them with one another even if it falls outside the normal overlap of our reading lists.

Mr PoP’s reading has been trending more towards some of our longer-term goals, specifically slow travel by boat after FIRE, while I’m focused a little more on our nearer-term goal of fixing up the kitchen.

He Said

Continue reading He Said She Said – Blogs We’re Reading Lately

When To DIY And When To Outsource

Even Kitty PoP helps DIY in the PoP house!

Even Kitty PoP helps DIY in the PoP house!

We’ve been talking about our DIY kitchen remodeling project for months now, but the truth is, it’s not going to be 100% DIY.


I know, that isn’t really that much of a surprise since we already fessed up to hiring a structural engineer to provide plans that would guide us through the major structural changes of our remodel (moving a wall and modifying our roof trusses to vault the ceiling) without sacrificing any structural integrity of our house.

But that’s not where the outsourcing is going to end… Instead of DIY, we’re going to outsource other parts of the project that (unlike the structural plans) we’re pretty sure we could do ourselves.

double gasp!

But instead of could, we need to also ask the question: should we do everything ourselves?

Yes, even for hard-core DIY folks like us there’s comes a point in projects when outsourcing can make sense. But there’s also no easy “line in the sand” where it always makes sense to DIY for certain projects and always outsource for others. Instead we find ourselves asking some of the same questions time and time again when evaluating the DIY-ness of a given project. Here’s what those questions are.

Continue reading When To DIY And When To Outsource

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

idyllic backyardMr PoP and I are truly spoiled by the peacefulness and tranquility of our little suburban neighborhood.  Seriously.  I’m sitting here on a Saturday on our back patio looking out over the little lake in our backyard and across into the yards of the half dozen or so other homes that share our lake pond as a backyard.  (The internet tells me it’s a pond, but our realtor called it a lake – that must mean “lakes” sell better than “ponds”.  Pardon me if I use these interchangeably.)

Growing up, this kind of set up was foreign to me.  I couldn’t imagine a backyard without walls, usually cinderblock, that rose any less than six feet out of the ground with thick mesh metal gates locked with padlocks.  You know, to keep people out.  Because other people are all bad and must be kept out at all times… or at least that’s the impression those walls leave me with when I think about them today.

Our current backyard setup would have seriously weirded me out as a kid, but I don’t know how to describe it … sharing space with our neighbors just seems natural now.  After all, “no man is an island entire of itself”.

Continue reading Won’t You Be My Neighbor?