How Much Does Burning Man Cost?

As Mrs. PoP and I get closer to FIRE, we’re slightly more inclined to loosen the purse strings when it comes to awesome travel destinations and interesting experiences. Going to Burning Man this year checked both of those boxes for me, and it’s been something that I’ve had on my bucket list for at bm2016least a decade now. True to the purpose of this blog, here is a complete run down of how much it was for a first timer like myself to get to Burning Man and back.

So What Is Burning Man Anyhow?

There are as many answers to that question as there are people at the event, but here goes. Burning Man is a temporary camp/art installation/party of 70,000 people erected every year in the middle of the Nevada Desert. It lasts for 7 days, relies on a “gift economy” to exchange goods and services, and involves more fire, art, drugs, music and just plain weirdness than anything else that I know of.* You are completely responsible for your own safety and are expected to leave no trace when you leave the desert-this means bringing your own food, water, shelter, transportation and packing it all back out when you go.


It’s basically magic.

Temperatures range from 100F during the day to 40F at night; sandstorms cause white-out conditions most afternoons and the EDM music shakes the whole playa from sunset to sunrise, making the whole event look like a cross between Mad Max and a rave. If this sounds like your thing, congratulations, you’re probably as sick of your office job as I am of mine.

Everybody’s trip to BM is different; mine involved flying across the country to San Francisco and prepping for 3 days with a good friend before renting a U-haul van and being at the event for 4 days/3 nights. Included are all expenses, including those incurred in San Francisco while getting our proverbial shit together.   Continue reading How Much Does Burning Man Cost?

Lessons Learned From Bed…

Have you ever seen the movie My Left Foot? If you haven’t, you should. In the meantime, I will tell you that in this excellent movie, Daniel Day Lewis plays Christy Brown, a role which earned him a Best Actor Academy Award. Christy Brown was an Irish man with cerebral palsy who learned how to write and paint, and live a full life with just a single controllable limb – his left foot. It is a true story, and the movie is based on Christy Brown’s memoir (which I am just now realizing I should have read ages ago).

I am currently in the complete opposite scenario as Christy Brown. For the past 2.5 weeks, I have basically been down one left foot as I’m still in the non-weight bearing portion of my recovery from foot surgery. And I have to say, Christy Brown probably had way more perseverance and fortitude in his left foot than I have in the remainder of my body, because the past couple of weeks haven’t been ideal. Nonetheless, I have learned a few things about myself.

Item 1: I’m More Acerbic When I’m In Pain…

Continue reading Lessons Learned From Bed…

Happy Friday – Lucky This Time

We don’t talk much about exactly where we live (ya know, privacy and all). But we’re in one of the areas that people are evacuating to (not from!) with Hurricane Matthew.  Mr PoP’s office is all working remotely, and mine is playing it more by ear since we’ll probably get some outer bands.  But given the alternative that so many others are facing, we know we are very lucky.

Today, at least.  Hopefully we’ll be writing another post saying we’re lucky again next Friday since it’s looking like Matthew is going to loop around and take another swing at south Florida.

That said, for now, our thoughts are with friends and other Floridians (and Georgians, and South and North Carolinians) that are in the direct path. Stay safe!

PoP Balance Sheet – September 2016

Welcome to our September 2016 Balance Sheet!

We use the structure of a monthly income statement and balance sheet in tandem to make sure we are keeping our expenses low and planting our pennies wisely. If you’re not already tracking your finances using these two methods, go to and get started today! If you have any questions about how we do this just post a comment and we’ll be sure to help!

The main action on our balance sheet this month was updating the values of our real estate since it had been over a year for all of them, and it was getting really overdue.  All at once, the changes look pretty big, so when you’re looking at the “pop” (hehehe…) in the graphs this month, try and remember that those changes were actually much more gradual than the way we are representing them here (and I’m too lazy to update our property values with current comps every month).

The updates have also gotten Mr PoP and I talking about how useful different parts of our financial tracking are to us, so I think we’ll continue with this structure at least through the end of the year, but will probably change it up a bit after that.  (Open to suggestions if you have favorite personal finance metrics that you find useful to track!)

Here are the numbers for September:

  • Our total assets went up by $158.6K, most of which is due to those 3 long overdue updates to our property valuations
  • Our total liabilities went down by $0.3K 
  • Net worth went up by $158.8K 
  • Total net worth as of the end of September is $1,239.5K, which represents a 14.69% increase this month.

For the details…

Continue reading PoP Balance Sheet – September 2016

PoP Income Statement – September 2016

Welcome to our September 2016 Income Statement!

Mr. PoP and I put these income statements together for two reasons. First, we want to be transparent about our finances because we’re trying to be role models for other people who are trying to plant their own pennies (and end up with dollars someday!). Second, we do this to make sure we’re on track to meet our own long-term goals. If you’re not tracking your income statement and balance sheet, we highly recommend you start using a program like Mint to keep track of it all.


Most of the counter, assembled with a rough hole where the kitchen sink will go.

So if last month was one of the most expensive we had ever seen due largely to us prepaying for some travel and a fancy camera for Mr PoP, then this month is one of our least expensive months due to the money that we were anticipating all coming in at once.

Mr PoP’s collectibles sold and his parents sent us the proceeds, which we counted against our shopping budget since those were specifically sold so he could buy the camera.  And then Mr PoP’s friend sent us the money that covered his portion of their shared Burning Man expenses, which was pretty close to the $1K that I had guessed it would be.  This money got counted against our travel budget, since that’s what those expenses had been allocated as when they went out the door.  All that basically means that two categories have pretty big negative totals this month, and make it look significantly less spendy than it otherwise was.

Even absent those, this month wasn’t too spendy – a pleasant result given that medical problems can so easily bleed into overspending across lots of categories for convenience.  Our most unusual expense was paying $950 to get our 50+ year old live oak trimmed by a local arborist.  The last time we did this was four years ago, and we wrote about our choice to go with the pricey option then, and it was a no brainer to us to make the same choice again, despite his prices going up since then.


How we joined the corner piece of the counter together. We made a stair step pattern to make it more visually interesting than just a straight line. A pain to do, but we love the result, so worth it!

We also spent about $553 on the kitchen this month as we’re still trying to make progress there, despite being slowed down a bit by the lack of mobility.  Most of that was on baseboards, but we also bought our kitchen and drinking water faucets since our counter is getting close to being done and despite the top not being finished yet (the cherry wood will deepen in color after applying the wax), it’s looking pretty beautiful already, IMHO.

The Bottom Line

  • Earnings before principal paydowns and savings allocations of $9,952.  

And the details…

Continue reading PoP Income Statement – September 2016