Avoid Spending Money to be Happy

It’s bad training.  Deliberately try to make your happiness activities not connected w/ spending money, and over time you’ll get better at being happy on the cheap.



Wow, I’m a failure.  I just spent that much on Nintendo stuff.  I had the crazy racing heart thing.  I thought it was going to be more like $200… well I’m definitely still not perfect!  derp!

– Super Smash Bros. Wii U

– Super Smash Bros. 3DS

– Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker

– Wii U Pro Controller

–  5 Amiibos (Samus, Kirby, Yoshi, Peach, and Pikachu)

These even totally fits with my tendency (and the consumer  psychology mentioned by the ERE guy) around collecting.  I knew it when I was there!  I spend so much time on this and I still gave in.

Minimum San Jose Lifestyle

I wanted to see what the minimum salary I think a person could make in San Jose and (1) survive (2) get ahead.


Rent: $500

Gas: $50

Car Insurance: $50

Health Insurance $200

Monthly food: $450

Internet: $20

Phone: $30

Total:  $1300

And let’s say I’m $300 wrong.  $1600.  1600*12 = $19,200.  15% federal tax and 4% california tax.  I’ll ignore the prorating and just call it 19%.  $19,200 / .81 = $23,703.  Let’s round to $25k.  $25k salary to get by.  That’s $12.50 an hour, 2000 hours a year.  So to save, you need to either (a) work more than full time, like nights and weekends or (b) get a higher paying job.  To get ahead, I think a person needs to be saving at least $1000 a month, spending it on debt, education, or investments.  So that’s $25k + $12k + $3k (tax) = $40k a year.  To get by and save enough to dig yourself out of the hole, you need to be making $40k a year, which is $20/hr full time.  An Uber driver makes $43k in San Jose.  And certainly you could probably make more than that by working more.  Cab drivers make around $60k.

Is this a fun life?  No way.  This is a shitty life.  But it’s possible.



A monthly mystery box of… stuff.  The thing I think is, “Wow this isn’t optimized for happiness at all.”  I mean, I guess maybe it’s like the lottery.  You’re paying $13 for the *idea* that you’ll “win” by getting something better than you expected.  And yeah, I have a Paizo subscription that’s a lot more expensive, and I don’t use any of that stuff.  So I’m nowhere near perfect.  What about a service that intentionally tried to make you happier every month, instead of throwing some random crap in a box and then hoping?

The Hole We Are Already In

Recently, I’ve been listening to Alexa Von Tobel’s audio book, “Financially Fearless.”  I think it is a pretty terrible book, for the following reasons:

1)  Her advice only leads you to work for 30 years and only be able to retire when you are old.

2)  Her advice assumes that expenditure scales with income, (50/30/20 rule).  30% of income is spent on “fun”… regardless of your income, debt level, etc.

3)  The book doesn’t even try to be funny.

4)  The book continuously tries to sell you on her company’s (Learnvest) service.

5)  The book contain repetitive, uncreative marketing bullshit (e.g. Fearless Tip #45)

6)  Valley girl / sex in the city tone (but what is the point when you have no humor??)

7)  Audio book reader sounds like old school marm

In short, it’s an uninspired marketing barf for her company.  But it has a 4.5 star review on Amazon, the same as Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover.”  Maybe the bar is low for these kinds of books?  Or maybe my expectations are too high?  I’m thinking we need some financial explanation that is more like “The Oatmeal” or Mr. Money Mustache.

Starting out a discussion targeted at Millennials, I think the most important thing to emphasize is that the game has changed.  That’s not a pessimistic view of the future.  If our future has the same great market increases as the baby boomers, we’re still starting with so much less that our lives won’t be as good.  You can tell that just looking at current conditions.

But our psychology hasn’t adjusted.  that’s why we have a negative savings rate.  We’re young and we think that everything will work out, and we have enough time that we can worry about it later.  But that’s not true.

The problem is, it takes time for psychology to adjust.  A person has to be told over and over again before they really internalize it.  So I have to convince people just to stay and listen.  Humor will help people stay.  Also, promises of future wealth and happiness.

2014 Tax Time

Total Income = $145k

Social Security Withheld: $7,254

Medicare withheld: $2,001

Federal Income tax withheld: $27,867.72

State Income tax: $10,686.66

Total withheld according to W2: $47,809.38

Property Taxes: $2,376

Sales Tax (conservative estimate): $1000

= $51,185.38 – $2,272 (refund)

= 33.7%

So basically the government taxes a third of my money.  This means I work for the government until some time in May every year.

Interest paid on mortgage is $2,046.02 according to this Bank of America form I got.  I’m suspicious, because according to my transaction history:

$250.50 + $304.69 + $302.52 + $300.35 + $298.17 + $295.99 + $293.80 = $2046.02

Thing is, these transactions are only for the new loan!!  They don’t include any of the interest I paid on the old loan!  WTF B of A!  I guess I should be receiving another 1098 from B of A.  Good thing I wrote this post!

Called B of A.  I’d paid $2347.51 before that, so my total was $4393.53, I paid about 65% of the interest I paid before ($6787).  My refund is now at $2272.  Woot.  Sadly, that is a drop in the bucket compared w/ the $50k I’m paying in taxes overall…

Outstanding Paperwork:

– Dividend stuff from Edward Jones (probably isn’t much, sadly)

– Extra 1099 MISC from consulting (full amount already considered in return)