Five Ways I’m Weirder And Richer Than Average


Everyone likes to think they’re normal.  We wake-up every single day and tell ourselves this little white lie of normality.

“I live a normal life.  I work a normal job.  I earn a normal income.   I live in a normal home and save a normal amount of money.  Life is pretty good”

Why do we tell ourselves this lie?  I think it’s because being normal is comfortable.  No one criticizes normal.

As a species, humans seek-out comfort.  From the temperature we set on the household thermometer, to the clothes we wear, most of our modern society is built upon providing greater comfort for humans.

It’s nice to have a comfortable life, and live in a society where everyone accepts you.  People who are outliers get criticized and live on the “fringes” of society with hardly any comfort …

Right?  Not always…

 

Mr. Tako Is A Big Weirdo

Frankly, I’ve always been a pretty frugal person.   Like many people, I grew up in a middle class household; with everything I needed and some of what I wanted.

But even within this well defined “middle class” there were loads of people who lived an “easier” lifestyle.  We didn’t.  My family had to work extra hard at having that middle class lifestyle.  We had everything other middle class families had, we just had to work extra hard for it.

This is where I probably first started to become a weirdo.  Being extra frugal sometimes means you have to do unusual things to save money or achieve similar results with less money.  Essentially, being a big weirdo.

Yes, I’m a weirdo.  I totally admit it.  I’ve embraced my weirdness over the years, and it’s not a just “phase” I’m going through.  It’s who I am.

I understand this means I’ll never lead a “normal” life.  I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never have tons of friends or be accepted by “normal” society.  I might even miss out on some of the “normal” comforts of modern life.

This doesn’t bother me.  I’m happy with my weirdness.  I’m happy only having a few close friends that “get” me.  It’s made me financially independent and richer than average.

So what if I miss-out on a couple creature comforts? — My weirdness has purchased me the ultimate comfort: The freedom to do whatever I want with my life.

How am I weird?  Oh, let me count the ways…

 

1. No Coffee, Thanks!

The fact that I don’t drink coffee always throws people for a loop.  “What do you mean you don’t drink coffee?  How is that possible?” they ask.

In this day and age it’s hard to find an adult that isn’t hooked on the beans.  It blows their mind when I tell them I don’t know the difference between a latte, a mocha, a cappuccino, or brewed coffee.  Those four words are the total extent of my coffee knowledge too!

It’s not that I’m depriving myself to save money either, I just don’t drink the stuff!

(Yes I’ve tasted it a few times but never really liked it.)

Maybe it’s weird that I’m not big on coffee or other kinds of flavored water, but I’m perfectly happy just drinking water.  It’s also worth mentioning that I don’t drink alcohol either.

kona coffee sample
We sampled some fresh Kona coffee in Hawaii. I know it’s supposed to be premium stuff, but I didn’t care for it.

Over the years this has turned-out to be a good way to save money.  When co-workers would “go for coffee” or “out for drinks”, I’d stay behind and save my money instead.  Rinse and repeat nearly every day of my life and this adds up to serious money.

 

2.  What Subscription Services?

If I did a quick straw-pole of my friends, family, and former co-workers, the vast majority of them would each be signed-up for two or more subscription services.  The variety would be extremely numerous — Magazines, Newspapers, Cell phones, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Cable TV, Pandora, Home alarm services, Meal kit services, Wine of the month clubs, Organic veggie boxes … you name it!

There’s a vast array of subscription services available in this modern world.  Maybe it’s odd, but I don’t subscribe to ANY of them.

meal kit
Meal kit box services are very popular right now. I don’t use these services because they’re expensive. You pay a high price for convenience.

Don’t get me wrong, many of them are great services, but I prefer my consumption to be à la carte.  I believe in consuming only what I need.  If I don’t consume, I don’t pay.

In my mind, subscription services are the devil’s highway to overconsumption.

I’ve literally seen people’s jaws drop open when I tell them I prepay my cell phone for the entire year and it only costs me $10.

“Why is it so cheap?” they ask.  My answer is simple — I just don’t use the phone much.  I don’t need a fancy data plan because it’s unnecessary — I’m constantly surrounded by a sea of wifi hotspots.  If I need to call someone I can always use Google Voice to make or receive calls.

Certainly some people believe they need to consume considerably more in life, but after decades of living without, I can honestly say that subscription services are unnecessary.

 

3.  Clipping Coupons & Shopping Sales

I have this rich Seattle techie friend who laughs at me every time I excitedly tell him about a great coupon or bargain I found at the store.

“I don’t do any of that.  What a bother!  I just buy whatever I want regardless of whether it’s on-sale or not.  Why waste your time clipping coupons?”

This kind of thinking seems completely insane to me — Why would a person willingly pay more when it takes two seconds to clip a coupon or plan a meal around what’s on sale?

It’s not like I make special trips to every store in town — I’ll go to my same grocery store every week, using coupons and planning delicious homemade meals around the store’s weekly promotions and loss leaders.

Yes, meal planning is more than just deciding what to eat — it’s about optimization.  One week eggs will be on sale, so I’ll make omelettes and huevos rancheros.

When life gives me cheap eggs, I make huevos rancheros!

Next week it’ll be broccoli and dungeness crab — so I make broccoli soup and cook up some crab.  It’s really that easy.

I still get to eat “whatever I want” (just like my rich techie friend) but with a few constraints.  I save a reasonable amount of money doing this too.  Our monthly food bill averages about $500 for a family of four people.  That’s not bad!

So yeah, you go ahead and keep laughing at me for using coupons.  I’m sittin pretty eating delicious low-cost meals during my financial independence.

 

4.  Frugal Cooking Is a Weird Skill

While I’m on the subject of food, I might as well talk about frugal cooking.  Frugal cooking is an actual skill that has be learned and practiced.  Not only that, it requires a little creativity to do it well.

I first learned the ropes of frugal cooking in the kitchen of a 4-star restaurant.  It was the nicest restaurant in town, and I worked there during high-school.  As a kitchen-hand, I washed dishes, made simple recipes, cleaned-up after the chef and sous chef, and did pretty much any needed.

This head chef was a master of frugal cooking.  In his career, he’d already started, run, and sold 4 successful restaurants — the restaurant where I worked was just his latest project.  “I do this just for fun!” he would say to me.

One of the first lessons I learned in his kitchen was about food waste.  Food waste is evil.  We did everything we could to NOT have food waste at that restaurant

It started with inventory management — only buying what they thought the kitchen would need.  This was always a guess because we never knew what dish might be popular with the customers.  Sometimes we’d run out of a popular dish, but inevitably there was always extra of some ingredient.

That’s when creative remixing came into play —  Monday’s french onion soup became the base for Tuesday’s onion baked potatoes.  The fresh tomatoes for Tuesday’s salad would be put into Wednesday’s marinara sauce.  Wednesday’s vegetable side became part of Thursday’s stir fry recipe … and so on.

chorizo soup
Waste Not Want Not! Being a creative cook to use up ingredients and reduce food waste is a great way to save money.

We constantly reused and remixed fresh ingredients.  It was a never-ending frugal battle to avoid the waste of fresh ingredients before they went bad.

Yes, I know it sounds weird, but the customers raved about the food.  Even today (decades later) the same restaurant maintains a 4 out of 5 star rating on Yelp.

Now that I’ve a kitchen of my own, I use this trick all the time to keep our food waste minimal — I meal plan so that leftover ingredients to find their way into soups, stir fry recipes, curry ingredients, or maybe even the base for a tasty sauce.

Weird, but effective.

 

5. Investing Is Awesome

If you’ve read this blog for very long at all, you already know that I’m a big DIY investor.  Our portfolio contains a mix of many individual investments (ETFs, Index Funds, preferred shares, REITs, and individual stocks).  This is entirely self directed and I spend a lot of time researching investments and reading 10k’s.

I get a lot of comments on this blog asking me why I bother.  Most people don’t want to spend their time researching investments.  They have better things to do (they never seem to tell me what these ‘things’ are however).

Why don’t you just invest in index funds and then forget about it?  You’ll save yourself a ton of time!

The truth is, I love it.  Investing is awesome!  I love reading and researching different companies and investments.  They’re like unique little machines or puzzles that I need to figure out, and they’re always moving and changing.  Never the same.

It’s the kind of difficult puzzle that stimulates my mind.

Future For Investors
I love reading investing books too! This site has a page with all my favorite investing books.

DIY investing has also brought some incredible wins to our portfolio over the years.  We maintain a relatively concentrated portfolio, and that concentration means BIG changes can happen when good events occur — One year we made over $100k in dividends.  Other years we significantly outperform the indexes.

In general, I would say DIY investing has been an incredibly positive experience for us.  Are we going to see such great performance all of the time?

Probably not, but if I followed the “standard path” our net worth would be considerably less today.

 

Weird Isn’t Bad

OK, I could probably keep writing about how weird I am for days, but I think you get the general idea.  (I should write a Part 2 to this post)

Yep, I’m a bit of a weirdo.  While some people might use that word in a negative way, like “Oh, he’s such a weirdo!“, I actually view my weirdness as something incredibly positive.

Being weird means I get different results out of life.  I don’t just dream about them, I actually realize different results that are far from average.

If I wasn’t this incredibly weird person it’s unlikely I would have reached financial independence at such a young age.  If I was normal, I’d probably be drinking my wealth away, eating out frequently, driving new cars, and paying some financial advisor to do my investing for me (assuming there was any money left).

Thank god I’m not normal.

 

[Image Credit: Flickr, Flickr2]

45 thoughts on “Five Ways I’m Weirder And Richer Than Average

  • July 25, 2018 at 5:52 AM
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    You’re definitely one of my favorite weirdos! I wish I had the foresight to not get hooked on the beans early in life… but I’ve made peace with my one-cup-a-day for like 20 cents habit. These all sound pretty common sense to me, so I must be a frugal weirdo too! Hooray!

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:04 PM
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      🙂 Thanks Budget Epicurean! You’re my kinda weirdo too!

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 6:27 AM
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    Nothing wrong with being a weirdo. We are weird in our own way. You just gave me a post idea hehe. 🙂

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:05 PM
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      Oh good! I hope I get full credit for the idea! 😉

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 8:25 AM
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    How about tea Mr. Tako? Do you like that? I

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:06 PM
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      Yeah, I like tea far better than coffee. It’s the only “water flavoring” we keep in the house. Far cheaper too!

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 8:35 AM
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    Man, you’re weird in good ways.
    I think we all want to conform when we were young, but that feeling lessen as you get older. Now I prefer to be a nonconformist. Normal people are not doing too well in life. 🙂

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:08 PM
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      Thanks Joe! Sometimes being this weird doesn’t always feel good, but overall I’m pretty happy with the results! 🙂

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 8:45 AM
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    Like you, I actually don’t do some of the things you mentioned above. I don’t think tea or coffee, and I have had A LOT of people telling me things like “Oh why?” “Do people drink coffee in Vietnam?” (yes, we’re the 2nd biggest coffee producer in the world) and “Hmm maybe drinking coffee is an American thing.”

    We subscribe to Amazon Prime and nothing else beyond that. I wonder if Costco membership counts as subscription. I’m with you on Blue Apron and the like. It’s a waste of money, time, and resources.

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:11 PM
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      I didn’t count the Costco membership as a subscription since I can still control how much I spend there. They won’t keep charging my credit card over and over again either.

      But you’re right, that one is kinda a grey area. It’s not quite like Amazon Prime, but similar in some respects.

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    • August 25, 2018 at 3:05 PM
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      Wow, I had no idea Vietnam was the 2nd largest coffee producer, I figured it would be somewhere in South or Central America.

      Those ingredient-to-home subscriptions like Blue Apron… having been a packaging engineer and being an environmentally-conscientious person… good grief, all that packaging!!

      Where I live they won’t even force you to recycle, so I’d bet most of it just goes to the landfill.

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  • July 25, 2018 at 8:48 AM
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    I grew up wearing my weirdo self as a badge of honor, so people just have to take me as I am. I have to say, I do put a good part of my high self esteem on how positively I was raised by my parents, but it sure makes life easier when you don’t feel like you have to “fit in” with everyone else.

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:13 PM
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      I agree! Support from parents and family members makes a huge difference. Wish I had more of it when I was younger.

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 8:50 AM
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    Just like you, I don’t drink coffee either. A lot of people surprised because it seems like I’m the only anesthesiologist who doesn’t drink coffee! Sure, my job requires me to wake up ultra early; I just try to get enough sleep to combat tiredness. In fact, in the times I have had coffee (it’s been several years ago), I felt even more tired. It’s probably because that Starbucks cup I had was loaded with fattening cream and sugar! Ha!

    My wife and I don’t do subscription services either. Not only are they expensive, but we find them very wasteful. So much plastic packaging that ends up going to the landfill. And that gooey frozen packs… not sure how safe that is for us.

    We prefer frugal cooking at home too.

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:48 PM
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      Way to go Dr. McFrugal! I figured I’d get a ton of criticism for the “no subscription” thing, but it’s nice to see a fellow non-subscriber.

      They’re hugely wasteful in most cases! 🙂

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 10:50 AM
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    Hi Washington neighbor! Great post – I’ve been called weird more times than I can count. In high school I decided to embrace it, maybe even lean into it (purple hair anyone?). I also don’t drink coffee – it makes my heart impersonate a hummingbird’s. As for subscriptions I pay for ½ a Netflix account that my partner and I share with his family, which is literally 13 other people. Frugal cooking is an area I should improve my skills in – I only learned to cook about a year and a half ago. This seems like a good next step. Thanks for making us weirdos feel a part of our own weird community!

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:49 PM
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      Being weird is great isn’t it? Having fellow weirdos around makes it a little less lonely too! 😉

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 1:03 PM
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    Let’s hear it for the frugal weirdos! Weirdos are great!

    I actually love driving my old car. I love not worrying if someone parks too close to me and might ding it, love not worrying about keeping it clean/shiny at all times, love my manual windows that seem far less glitchy than my friends’ electronically controlled ones, love my super-low registration fee, etc… having an old car gives me such peace of mind!

    I think the library is an amazing and (sadly) underused gift, and each time I gluttonously head out the door with an overflowing armful of books, I shake my head at how ridiculously awesome it is that I can get all that knowledge and entertainment for free!!

    Our weirdnesses are wonderful parts of who we are. Cheers!! 😀

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:49 PM
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      Dead-on Juli! On all accounts! Weird is wonderful! 😀

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 1:05 PM
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    I’m not going to rag on you, or anyone else, for doing what you do. I admire your frugality, but draw the line at your lack of a newspaper subscription. Anyone lucky enough to have a decent newspaper available in their area should thank their lucky stars these days. Having a wide ranging source of local, national and international news, as well as financial and sports news, is essential. Of course all this information is available on line, but it’s just not the same. Sitting down in the morning and reading about what’s going on in your town is not replacable.

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:52 PM
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      I read all my news online. I read like 4 newspapers a day. Our local papers aren’t very good, so why would I want to pay for that? Believe it or not, our local TV stations do a WAY better job at capturing news stories (not that I watch TV).

      So sorry, I’ll need to disagree. 🙂

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 1:20 PM
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    No cryptocurrencies?

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:53 PM
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      Nope. If I want entertainment I’ll just go to the library and get a DVD. 😀

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 2:18 PM
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    Frugal behavior doesn’t mean you are a weirdo! Or many of us would be:) Crap! That’s why they look at me funny!
    On the subscription front, are your kids starting to ask for certain shows or programs they hear about at school?

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:56 PM
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      No, our kids don’t really watch a lot of TV. They hardly know any of the characters!

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  • July 25, 2018 at 2:21 PM
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    Funny and interesting post mr Tako! Funny thing about coffee is that even though I drink one-max 2 cups a day and I appreciate it, it can easily be seen as the “normal” thing to drink while it is more drunk out of habit than anything else. If we grew up in a beanless our lives would be probably very similar to what we have today :).
    The funny thing with being a weirdo is that first you do unconventional things (like the couponing, no coffee, no booze) and people laugh at you and then in the long run the returns show and then you get respect (and some still laugh of course). People are always intrigued to hear that one of my first investments was the rental of 2 parking spots.

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    • July 25, 2018 at 10:58 PM
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      I’m still waiting for that respect to happen. Could be a long wait. 😉

      Seriously, even among the PF community I’m a weirdo. I don’t drink beer and there’s something of an obsession with craft beer in the PF community.

      Reply
  • July 25, 2018 at 7:31 PM
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    Yay for being weird. Now I get why your are such a great & frugal cook. Lots of time to play in the kitchen. And you probably have the knack for cooking in the first place. That’s so great that the restaurant worked creatively to use up an excess ingredient.
    I was just thinking the other day how I pretty much drink water all the time as part of learning to be frugal. Now it’s second nature with preference. Both coffee and alcohol have decreased substantially. But I still love my tea.

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    • July 25, 2018 at 11:00 PM
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      Tea is about the only flavored water I’ll drink these days. It’s far cheaper than coffee or alcohol too!

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  • July 25, 2018 at 8:03 PM
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    As long as you aren’t harming yourself or others, then you be you. You have plenty of money to live life the way you do. On the flip side, many people miss simple opportunities to save even more money when they are making good money and working toward ER, and don’t even realize the inefficiencies because they think they are doing really well. Folks don’t optimize pre-tax accounts like 401k’s, FSA’s, or HSA’s. Or they miss deductions or tax optimization strategies to the tune of thousands of dollars.
    The other thing, reading your post, reminded my of Peter Lynch (One Up on Wall St.) – using ‘the next hot things’ like certain subscription services or at least knowing people that use them can give you investing ideas and/or business ideas. Sometimes following trends or trying new things can expose you to a good investment. Not that you need it though, congrats on breaking out of the middle class!

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    • July 25, 2018 at 11:07 PM
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      Thanks! I’m kind of half in agreement with Peter Lynch on the subject of using what you know to invest. On one hand, it can help the average consumer identify a business that might have good returns on capitol… OR it might not. They could just a likely pick a stinker like SNAP or KHC.

      Lynch was a sophisticated investor, and he had significant advantages over the average investor. Yes, some popular consumer stocks do “break out” due to critical mass and escalating returns on capital employed. Peter Lynch was able to see those, but I doubt the average consumer could.

      Generally, I avoid consumer stocks in my own investing.

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  • July 25, 2018 at 8:32 PM
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    I guess it’s all relative – you (and we) may be weird relative to the masses, but compared to the personal finance blogosphere, you’re right down the middle.

    And while not drinking coffee may make you an outlier, I’ve often questioned the many-year process required to go from hating to tolerating to loving that bitter brew. I tried explaining once to my son why I loved something that “smelled like tar” and realized how silly it sounded!

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    • July 25, 2018 at 11:10 PM
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      Right down the middle of the pf blogosphere? Hardly! I don’t drink alcohol and that pretty much makes me a big outlier even in the pf world. They certainly don’t invite me to their parties… but whatever!

      Personally I think coffee smells like burnt dirt.

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      • July 26, 2018 at 4:43 AM
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        Mmmmmmmmmmmm…burnt dirt

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  • July 26, 2018 at 12:57 AM
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    You may be weird, but it sure as heck is working out well 🙂
    Looking at your points, guess I’m weird too! Albeit definitely not as good on the investing research. Very lazy, rather go outside and workout.

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  • July 26, 2018 at 1:53 AM
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    Fly your freak flag high Tako!! I’m weird too. Although coffee is good I must say 🙂

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  • July 26, 2018 at 6:32 AM
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    Man, you’re such a weirdo! Of course, so are the rest of us. We all have our quirks for sure – yours seem to be smart ones though!

    I guess there are two of us out there that don’t crave the java. I never drank it, but I just don’t drink anything with caffeine in it… I’m too wired as it is!

    That’s actually really incredible on the subscription services. Not a lot of folks that could say the same… no wonder you’re financially free!

    — Jim

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  • July 26, 2018 at 7:34 AM
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    The statement ,”Live life like no one else so you can live life like no one else” comes to mind.

    I share some similarities with your weirdness (I don’t drink coffee except on very rare occasions and I clip coupons even though I have a multi-million net worth). It doesn’t matter if you are rich, like you said, why leave money on the table?

    I do have a Netflix subscription and do mainly investing in index funds and syndicated properties, so we differ a bit there. But I’d like to think I’m a level directly below you on the weirdness scale and you know what, I’m happy with it 🙂

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  • July 26, 2018 at 8:23 AM
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    I support being weird. I actually sometimes exasperate it! LOL.

    Ugh I hate coffee too. My family tried to get me to drink it at a young age, but I couldn’t stand it. I only know about differ coffee types, because I worked in a coffee shop for my first job. I also don’t like cilantro…but that’s a whole other issue.

    I am a subscription person and working to get things down. But I love cable TV.

    As for the DIY investing. I’m trying to learn, but it’s overwhelming. I need to sit down with someone to figure everything out (me being more visual learning), because reading it in text literally confuses me. I don’t get it, which makes it difficult to want to do my own investing. I do my best by putting more and more into my accounts each year. But I still let companies handle it.

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  • July 26, 2018 at 10:00 AM
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    I figured out I was a weirdo in high school when just expressing my personal opinions meant being frog marched to the school psychologist. Learned to embrace it.

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  • July 26, 2018 at 10:12 AM
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    I’m weird in the kitchen, too. I find that between coupons and buying only in-season produce we save a ton of money. There is always a flood of a particular vegetable or fruit when it comes into season, so I stock up and process the excess for the winter months. Plus, the food just tastes better when it is fresh and doesn’t have to travel halfway around the globe to get to me! Reducing food waste is another way to save in the kitchen, and we have the smallest garbage can for our city service which saves even more.

    Reply
  • July 29, 2018 at 3:51 AM
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    My daughter called my son weird during a typical sibling disagreement when he was a toddler, early in our family days.

    I sat them both down for a stern talk and explained that in our family, weird means creative, and this is among the highest compliment we can pay one another. Years later, they still bring up this anecdote.

    I suspect your outsider sense of self has a lot to do with your success, not only in resisting the irrational impulses of normal society, but seeing with different eyes that can identify opportunity.

    Long time silent lurker on your blog, but this one spoke to me.

    Thanks,

    CD

    Reply
  • July 29, 2018 at 7:32 AM
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    Might you be an INTJ personality type (Myers Briggs)? I am, and have definitely fallen into the weird (but only mostly on the way to being rich- another 4 yrs to FI) category. INTJs are optimizers and planners, a lot of us end up FI earlier. I’ve mostly given up trying to explain myself to others, fortunatley I have a very patient and understanding wife, and a few good friends that even if they don’t “get” me, like to hang out.

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  • August 4, 2018 at 10:12 AM
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    Ahh coffee…was never a big fan of coffee either. I wonder if it’s a cultural thing. None of my Asian friends are really I to coffee (they are more into bubble tea and smoothies) but pretty much every North America n or Europen I know are obsessed with coffee. Ditto with craft beer.

    Hooray for being a weirdo! Uniqueness is meant to be celebrated. The world would be a boring place if everyone was normal.

    Reply

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