C40's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
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C40
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Post by C40 » Mon Aug 22, 2011 3:02 am

_________________
JULY 2011
________________


Image


I increased my 401k contribution this month. I'm gambling that 72(t) or some other way to get the money penalty-free will work out for me.

Savings rate: 79%

I had a pretty good month. For home expenses, this was the first month that I only had rent in the new place ($500). I also got $250 of my deposit back from the old apartment. I spent a ton on food, which includes a lot of fast food. I'm expecting to spend less in August. Up through July, I had been eating the same exact thing for about 7 months (plain chicken and vegetables) and I got tired of it. So I'm going to switch back to what I was eating a lot last winter (a mixture of beans, lentils, chicken or sausage, rice, some vegetables, salsa. It ends up kind of like Jambalaya when I use the sausage and salsa). So that is something different to eat, plus it’s pretty cheap.
Entertainment was a little higher than normal because I bought 4 books for my Kindle, a computer game (Civilization 5), and a PS3 game (Fallout New Vegas). For Cycling I had some costs of stuff that happened in June (race fee's, and some new clothes), plus a bit for regular maintenance parts. 

So it was a pretty good month really. It's good to see the move paying off. You can see the impact on my monthly spending and FI ratio:

Image



Also note in the Net Worth graph that I added in my work pension value. I never had this on before. I was looking at work retirement stuff and reviewed some Pension information. It seems like they changed how it works within the last couple years. Before, you would use a formula to calculate how much money you can get when you retire. You just do this math with how many years you work and your age and your highest salary, and it spits out a monthly figure. But now when I go look at it, they show a specific value, $19,300, that is supposedly mine. The pension is fully vested, and from the short explanations I've read, that means that they owe me the money, and my employment ends tomorrow, they have to give me that $19,300. So I added that to my net worth total. I was surprised how much they are putting in there - over $5,000 this year, which comes to 7% of my salary. I estimated how much the value would've been for all the months before July, so it shows up on the net worth graph like it was always in there. 

Image


So I kind if like seeing the bottom chart in the picture above that shows years to FI. The thing that stands out to me is how big the swings are when comparing months that I save different amounts. Getting my spending consistently low will make a big difference!

Image

Next month I think I will show a before/after comparison of the move. I’ll have a Pareto that shows how the related expenses have changed.

--------------------------
INVESTING
--------------------------

So I've been learning about investing lately. I have a lot to learn. I’ve taken a liking to the Permanent Portfolio. I moved my 401k money into PRPFX. I was hoping to build a PP myself but the ETFs I initially wanted to use (VTI,TLT,SHY,IAU) are not available through my work’s mutual fund options. I think it’s just because they are ETFs and I can only use mutual funds. I do have to pay an extra fee of 0.34% to use the mutual fund window (this is on top of the fund’s 0.8x% expense ratio). So I’m paying a lot, but I’m much more comfortable with this than the 100% stock mutual fund portfolio I had before.

I do need to investigate my options more to try to build my own PP. I think I could have the E.R. down to about 0.2%, which would make the total around 0.5-0.6% instead of the 1.1% I have now. Also I think I prefer the straight 4x25 allocation over PRPFX’s.
If you're unfamiliar with the Permanent Portfolio, here is some info: 
Podcasts by the guy who came up with it (Harry Browne): 
http://www.crawlingroad.com/finance/harrybrowne/radio/

Forum about it: http://www.crawlingroad.com/finance/harrybrowne/radio/
Blog: http://crawlingroad.com/blog/
Mad Money machine blog/podcast: http://madmoneymachine.com/

One thing that Harry Browne’s book and podcast has helped me a lot is how clear he makes it that the future cannot be known. So much investment advice depends upon speculating what will happen in the future. It helps me a lot to accept that I nor anyone else can know what will happen.


--------------------------
CYCLING
--------------------------

- I won a race. Yay!
- Don't feel like racing a lot more this year
- Definitely not trying cyclo-cross this year
Last edited by C40 on Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by C40 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:14 am

_________________________
AUGUST 2011
_________________________

Image

TOTALS
TOTAL PAY - $4,730
TOTAL SAVED - $3,644
SAVINGS - 77%
After tax pay: $3,086

401k Contribution: $1,644
Home Expenses - $664
Food - $170
Entertainment - $271
Cycling - $137
Transportation - $205
Other - $0

Saved, After tax - $2,000

NOTES:

Transportation included 6 months of car insurance, $162. Gas was down to $40 from a pre-move level of about $160.

Entertainment included 3 PS3 games ($38) and a used stereo receiver ($100).
I’m going to try to get my expenses below $1,000 for at least one or two months this year. With my current expenses, it’s possible, but it’ll take some focus.


Avg Expenses. Spending Vs Saving:
Image
http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6205/6101 ... cd8c_o.png


Net Worth. FI Chart.
Image
http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6210/6101 ... 8d6d_o.png



Avg Expenses. Savings. Years left.
Image
http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6083/6101 ... b751_o.png


MOVE ANALYSIS:

The chart below has a pareto of my expenses. They are not actual numbers but it was easier to use some averages to illustrate. They’re close. The full bars are my expenses before the move. The one’s that reduced have their new values shown in blue. They have an average total monthly expense of $2,220 reduced to $1,660. (a $560, or 25% reduction)
On the other big costs - the $500 per month cycling cost will go down substantially without racing. Maybe to an average of $100 per month or less. Food will probably go down a bit also. To maybe $200 per month. I could have it lower but I want to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables.

Image

I know that It is possible for me to have months below $1,000 expenses (while keeping my current avoidable recurring costs). It would only happen in November this year thought. For September I have already made a trip to Nebraska to visit family (and friends). In October my friends will be coming here and I’ll be spending some for that. December I will probably travel to see family for X-mas. So that only leaves November for this year. The first few months of 2012 will be opportunities.

--------------------------
CYCLING:
--------------------------

I think I’ve gotten my fill of bicycle racing and I’ve decided to stop. I may still race a few times next year depending on whether I feel like it and if I’m still in good enough shape. Maybe I’ll get serious about again in the future. For now I will definitely will not be dedicating such a huge amount of my time to training.

After making this decision, I’ve actually felt at times like I’ve removed a burden. I now have a lot more flexibility with my time and my mental ‘energy’. I think I will perform better at work - I now find myself thinking about work stuff outside of work. Previously it was the other way around - I would think about bike racing while at work.

Some of that physical and creative energy I was devoting to training/racing, I expect I will now devote to more productive things. And for some, I will try to take on other hobbies that are more economical.

I think I had been gradually coming to this decision over the course of the year. My 2 main concerns were safety and the cost. But maybe a turning point was during that 10-day series in June that I was performing poorly. Between some races I stayed with a teammate. He seems to put a lot of thought behind his actions and opinions, and I often listen closely to what he has to say. We were talking about bike racing and he mentioned what everyone knows but either doesn’t care to think about or just doesn’t bring up - that bicycle racing is a very unproductive hobby.

My thoughts:
-- You can’t make any money doing it. It can be pretty expensive
-- You don’t really improve yourself much, or the world in any way by doing it (other than maybe helping to make other people happy.. but the impact is very low compared to effort)
-- It can be very dangerous. It you’re racing frequently, you’re likely to crash a couple times each season. Most of the time you’ll avoid any injury, but you could get a serious injury such as concussions, broken bones, etc. One of my team mates crashed over a year ago and has not completely recovered (and might never). When my brother visited and came to a race, he mentioned afterwords that every guy on my team had scars on the arms/legs from crashing.
The good side of bike racing is that it encourages/requires you to be very healthy and fit. It is also a lot of fun. Winning is great - better than sex, drugs, etc.

Basically, I don’t get enough enjoyment out of it anymore to make it worth all the work. So it’s on to other things now.

I started this thread to get some new ideas:

viewtopic.php?t=1247#post-16369

------------------------------------------------
TRAVEL HOME
------------------------------------------------

I went back "home" - to the state I grew up in mostly and spent about 11 years before moving to where I live now. This was the first time going back since moving up here. I'll discuss it more in another post, but in short, the trip made me realize that for the last few years my life here has been pretty out of balance. I haven't made friends or had any significant relationships here. As comfortable as I may have felt with this, I think I've been missing out on some very important parts of life. I need to make some significant changes on this.
Last edited by C40 on Sun Dec 08, 2013 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dragoncar
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Post by dragoncar » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:20 am

gotta say, I don't like the way your graphs drop off at the end... it makes me sad until I realize that month just hasn't happened yet. Otherwise, keep up the good work


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Post by C40 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:27 am

Yes, I really don't like that either. I tried some changes and believe it's not possible in Apple Numbers to get them to just stop at the last actual values. I experimented with other graph types that don't do that (line), but I prefer the stacked bars much more, even with the funny drop off.


m741
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Post by m741 » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:05 pm

77% savings - very nice!


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Post by C40 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:05 am

Booyah!

I've been using Mint to check my account balances at one place. It was at $69k at the start of the year. It seemed like I was stagnated at $92-93k for a few months when my 401k was losing value. In July I moved my 401k money to more stable asset choices. Nice to break $100k!
(this mint net worth number doesn't include my work pension, which is around $20k... The Mint "net worth" is what's called "savings" on my table of numbers)
I'm getting a fair amount of cash piled up. It's in a money market account getting barely any interest. I'm starting to consider investing it with an ETF Permanent Portfolio. I do intend to use most of the money on a home. Just not sure when that will happen.


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Post by m741 » Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:49 am

Congrats on breaking the 100k milestone. Only a few more to go :)


palmera
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Post by palmera » Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:09 pm

Congrats! You've come a long way. Your journal is my favourite, I hope you don't mind if I copy your style of graphs when I start my own :)


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Post by C40 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:15 am

Thanks m741 and palmera. I won't mind at all if you copy my graphs. I pretty much copied them all from other places anyways.


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Post by C40 » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:21 am

---------------------------------------
SEPTEMBER 2011
--------------------------------------
-- Income, after tax: $4,633 (three paychecks this month, normally get 2)
-- Spending: $1,464
-- Put in Savings: $3,200
-- 401k Contributions: $2,466
-- Saving: 80%

- Home Expenses: $547
- Food: $273
- Entertainment: $270
- Cycling: $0
- Transportation: $185
- Other: $37

Entertainment includes $140 for a football ticket. My old college friend came out for the weekend and we went to the a college football game. Definitely the most money I’ve payed to watch an event so far in my life. The game wasn’t worth the money, but it was a good excuse for my friend to come out, so I don’t mind. The weekend had Friday in September and Sat/Sun in October, so the extra spending I did on Booze, food, and gas is spread out in the two months. I didn’t spend all that much. My friend isn’t consumerish about eating and drinking, so when we left Saturday I packed enough food that we could carry around in our pockets and eat all day (a couple bananas and a boat load of trail mix kind of stuff - nuts, raisins, etc..), plus a flask, and a couple bike water bottles of mixed drinks. So we were set for most of the day with that stuff.
I mentioned in a previous post the trip I made in early September to visit family and friends made up much of the transportation cost. There’s $42 of booze in the food total. This trip was a good reminder for me that I need to focus on having a social life. I believe I’ll be discussing my progress on this in the upcoming months. The Transportation total for September includes gas for that trip - a bit over 500 miles each way, plus a lot of driving there. I’m wondering if I may have lost a gas receipt.

I’ve lost around $7,700 in my 401k in the last 5 months. ouch.


TABLE:


Image


SPENDING / SAVING:

Image



I like the trend on my expenses here. My changes are working out well.


EXPENSE PARETO & SAVINGS PROGRESS:

Image




I changed the Pareto so it only shows the average since I’ve moved. It’s just the last 2 or three months so far.

NET WORTH:

Image

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6099/6210 ... 8e18_o.jpg



(I photoshopped this picture so the values don't drop off to zero. Maybe I'll do it for both this and the spending/saving on in the future)

FI CHART:

Image

http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6027/6209 ... 8d69_o.jpg



YEARS TO FI:

Image





_____________________
QUESTION
____________________
When people calculate their savings %, are they factoring in 401k contributions like I do?
Savings rate = Savings / Income

Where:
Savings = (After tax $ saved) + (401k contribution) + (Employer 401k match)
Income = (after tax income) + (401k contribution) + (Employer 401k match)

One thing that I've been considering is I should just take Income minus expenses for the "Savings" amount. Because otherwise I could be saving more or less in a month and my checking account just goes higher or lower. So the amount I move into savings isn't exactly the amount I "save", at least not in the short term..
_________________
HOBBIES
__________________
Since I’ve decided not to bike race, I’ve been thinking about what to do next. Here’s

what I’m thinking:
-- GARDENING -- I live in an apartment and I don’t believe there’s a way for me to have my own garden. I did read about CSAs in a the reader comment section of the Mr Money Moustache blog. I did some looking around and there is one about 5 miles away. I can pay $300 per year for a bunch of weekly produce, or I can go work on their farm in exchange for it. I’m going to look into working there. The details on their webpage don’t clearly indicate the amount of hours, so we’ll see. I believe the $/hour will be very low, but it would be a good opportunity for me to learn gardening (I have no experience), and maybe meet some like-minded people. Since I can’t have my own garden at the moment, this might be the next best thing. Anyone have experience with this kind of thing?
-- PHOTOGRAPHY -- I’ve always been into photography and will probably start doing more again. There is some potential to make money here, tough I haven’t ever tried much before. I was thinking about trying to do Senior pictures for high schoolers this fall. I’m guessing it’s too late to start that now. I am good at nightlife (club) photography, but I don’t know if I could really make money doing that. I am also good at shooting bicycle races, but again, not much money. I’ve had a couple people who are local journalists compliment my pictures and say I could shoot events for news. I think I’ll ask them more about that. I would probably be good at shooting other sports also, though I’m guessing I’d need a 200mm lens for many sports, and I only have a 50mm now. Also, I did do some photography for my bike racing team this year and some of the pictures I got might be the type that other teams would pay for.
-- READING -- There are quite a few books I want to read. I’m halfway through “How I found Freedom in an Unfree World” and have enjoyed it very much. The first half of the book alone has helped me a lot and allowed me to look at some decisions I’ve made / am making with more clarity.
I have a Kindle, so I’ll start with older books that are free. One that I’ve seen mentioned in many places and sounds good from the conversations it gets mentioned is Meditations (Marcus Aurelius).
______________________
TO DO NEXT:
______________________
- Get my food expenses lower
- Move some of my cash into higher risk investments. I went into the PP with my 401k a few months ago (the mutual fund). It has since went down. That might mean it's a good time to buy more, though with my cash I could use the ETFs that I'd prefer instead of the mutual fund. I'm not entirely sure I want to do this, so the first step is to decide.
Last edited by C40 on Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

George the original one
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Post by George the original one » Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:16 pm

> When people calculate their savings %, are they

> factoring in 401k contributions like I do?
Yes, that is the usual way of doing it. A few people elect to not do so.


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Post by palmera » Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:45 pm

I guess you could stand to lower your food budget, but you're on track. Your expenses are so clean and low (benefit of being childless and single!) - focus on your social life now (as you mentioned) and let your hair down a bit ;)
Do you like, care about certain causes and stuff? I met some AWESOME lifelong friends through volunteering...plus if you volunteer for events, they're often catered which means a free meal + take home leftovers!


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Post by jforest » Tue Oct 04, 2011 8:58 pm

I absolutely love the layout of your spreadsheet. I have now shamelessly stolen the idea.
You look to be in fantastic shape so far, as one person supporting a family, I'm jealous of your ability to shrink your expenses ;)


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Post by C40 » Wed Oct 05, 2011 12:43 am

Thanks folks.
Palmera - No, I'm not really into volunteering. I don't mind helping people that I know well, but there aren't groups of strangers or some general cause that I wish to support. I think I'm more likely to meet people I'll get along with well at other places, doing things that I enjoy.


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Post by sshawnn » Wed Oct 05, 2011 1:09 am

Nice work C40. I appreciate your organization and detail in your journal. re: cycling photography. Each "big" event I have done in triathlon has offered for purchase a series of photos of myself and the race venue. The agreements for these events may be in place and held by a large company but you could possibly due contract type work for them. (brightroom.com) photography has done at least one event.


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Post by C40 » Sat Oct 15, 2011 7:24 pm

Thanks for the suggestion sshawnn. I looked into brightroom and would be a bit hesitant to work for them. It seems they want you to shoot a TON of pictures. I only have one camera and I might not want to put so many actuations (many thousands) on it for one event, where I might work 8+ hours and make a couple hundred dollars.
Some Investing updates:
-- I moved some of my after-tax savings into a Permanent Portfolio (VTI, SHY, TLT, IAU). I do worry a bit about losing that money, but I'm pretty confident that it is a safe way to invest it.
-- I'm not too happy with PRPFX. I have all of my 401k money in it since I don't believe I can use ETF's like those listed above. PRPFX has not done very well this year. I think a problem with PRPFX is that it has a significant portion of Swiss Francs. I guess Switzerland recently decided to peg the Swiss Franc to the Euro. I don't know all of the details/impact of this, but I know I don't like the sound of it. PRPFX dropped significantly over the last month, and I don't know if that was more due to gold going down, or people bailing on PRPFX because of the Swiss Franc pegging.
I guess I'll start investigating more aggressively if there is a way to build my own PP with my current 401k. I also need to investigate IRAs and if it might be worth it to be converting my 401k (as much of it as I can) to an IRA so I can invest how I want.


KevinW
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Post by KevinW » Sat Oct 15, 2011 9:16 pm

Implementing PPs inside uncooperative 401(k)s has been discussed quite a bit on the PP forums. I added a section to the wiki page about some commonly-used strategies:
http://earlyretirementextreme.com/wiki/ ... 9_lemonade


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Post by akratic » Wed Oct 19, 2011 9:29 pm

There were two problems with PRPFX that were exposed recently.
First, Swiss Francs were held as an inflation hedge, but you're right, they got pegged to the Euro, so they stopped performing this function.
Second, PRPFX is weak on deflation protection. The crawling road forums have long recommended an additional holding of EDV or TLT to balance out PRPFX. Example. And 30Y bonds have been up enormously recently. TLT is up 17% since August 1st, but PRPFX didn't get the benefit.
I suspect the underweighting of long term bonds hurt more than the Swiss Francs.
Still, to keep things in perspective, PRPFX is still crushing all the other passive portfolios this year, just not as well as the 4x25 ETF version of the PP.


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Post by C40 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:55 am

Thanks Kevin and akratic. I haven't figured out what I want to do yet, but I'll be investigating more soon.


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Post by C40 » Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:56 am

---------------------------------------
OCTOBER 2011
--------------------------------------


TOTALS:

Income, after tax: $3,086
Spending: $1,150
Put in Savings: $2,500
401k Contributions: $1,644
Saving: 101%


INVESTMENT INCOME:
Interest on 401k: $5,460
Interest on Savings: $169


SPENDING:
Home Expenses: $,590
Food: $183
Entertainment: $148
Cycling: $10
Transportation: $215
Other: $4
Sales: $1,106


I got pretty close to breaking $1,000 this month. My car battery died and I spent $114 on a new one. Without that I would’ve been really close.

I’ve been looking into using google voice on my phone to eliminate my monthly text message cost ($15/mo). Got the idea from a MMM post. I might get a phone in January from work, so my cell phone cost might go to zero for a while. Using google voice might work well with that situation because I can give my google voice number to everyone outside of work, and then control call forwarding as I wish.

-------------------------
FOOD
-------------------------

So I’ve been living in this small town where I work since April. Possibly the biggest drawback of the move is that the grocery stores here have horrible produce. You can’t buy a good apple in this town (even in the fall, up here near apple orchards). There’s a farmers market in town but it’s during the daytime on wednesdays and I don’t want to leave work for it. I drive to a big city every once in a while. Mostly to go to bars on Friday or Saturday night. I think I’ll start taking a cooler in the car and buy produce before going to the bars.

I haven’t been eating well at all lately since deciding to stop racing. I also have not been exercising much. I went on a really long bike ride (~120mi) last weekend with a bunch of local bike racers. I could tell 20 miles in that I am not nearly in the kind of shape I was in July (very very good). It was a really tough ride for me and once we got up to about 90 miles, I couldn’t even hang on with the group.

I knew I was losing fitness from not riding, but I also think all the crappy food I was eating had a big impact as well. I’ve gotten sick too - twice! Not very bad either time, but definitely more than I think I would’ve gotten if I was in top shape and eating better. And in general, I can just tell the difference. Being in good shape feels so much better, and the better in shape you are the better you feel - so with this quick drop off and getting sick, I've noticed the difference. I suppose it’s just a good reminder for me of how important it is to take good care of myself.


Image
http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6223/6296 ... 22d0_o.png



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http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6231/6296 ... 2d91_o.png




-------------------------
Savings Calculation
-------------------------


I made a change to how I calculate my savings %. While I used to use:
Savings rate = Savings / Income
Where savings = (After tax $ saved) + (401k contribution) + (Employer 401k match)

Income = (after tax income) + (401k contribution) + (Employer 401k match)
So savings was how much I actively moved into “savings” accounts. But fluctuations in my checking account would cause this to not be entirely accurate. So I now also include in the savings number: (Checking account value + Cash on hand at end of month) - (Checking, Cash at start of month)
My savings rate shows over 100% this month. This is because I sold some bike racing gear - just over $1000 worth. I don’t count these kind of sales as income. To me they are negative expenses (since in the past they were expenses, and now I’m recapturing some of the money). I use these categories, and the sales number is not included in my savings % calculation.

- Normal Income
- Extra income
- Sales
- Expenses

-------------------------
INVESTING
-------------------------

I moved $15k of my after-tax savings into an ETF PP. Made $200 on that ($160 after taking out the cost of buying the ETFs), or more than I made all year so far on money market interest. I have this great Bloomberg app on my phone where I can input how much of each ETF I have. Then when I open the app, it shows how much the prices have changed today, how much money I gained today, and how much I’m up/down in total. It’s something nice to check at work to see I’m making this other money on top of that.

PRPFX did go most of the way back up, after dropping a whole bunch last month, but I’d still much rather use a real PP. Haven’t made any recent progress investigating how to do this with my current 401k limitations... I’d like to kind of figure this out by the end of the year.

-------------------------
PHOTOGRAPHY
-------------------------

In a funny coincidence of timing, I got a random Flickr message from an art director of a small local newspaper asking to use a couple of my pictures from last year’s Halloween for an article. They used two of my pictures and I got a small check in the mail 2 days later.
Last edited by C40 on Sun Dec 08, 2013 10:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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