Cambridge Fire 2016

Rental Insurance and Holy Shit, Cambridge Fire

Last Saturday there was a ten alarm fire in Cambridge, MA, the largest fire in the area since the 80s. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, but still – holy shit. Eleven buildings, over 60 people affected, multiple fire departments on the scene, and now that area looks unrecognizable.

It started scarily close to Fergus’s grad school apartment, making me even more thankful nothing similar happened to that fire trap of a house he lived in for years. Seriously – an electrician came by once to fix a problem and basically said “This house would be up in flames instantly if there was a fire,” which unfortunately is not that uncommon with the older homes in Cambridge. And of course those living in these fire traps are often lower income, students, or immigrants – people who don’t have a choice.

We know at least one family that’s been displaced. Apartment, car, all material possessions – gone during one awful day. And no rental insurance. Like many others, they took to crowd funding (we contributed), but not everyone can rely on that.

What does rental insurance cover?

Rental Insurance covers a few different things, the core being (more detail below):

  1. Cost to replace personal possessions
  2. Costs related to loss of use of insured location
  3. Personal liability
  4. Medical payments to others

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Chromebook

To Chromebook or Not to Chromebook

I just got a new computer. And I love it.

I primarily wanted something for writing (this blog + other random projects), and for general checking email, browsing the web and the like. I needed something lightweight and portable, something I could pick up on a whim for hours of creation. I went with a Chromebook and am very happy with my decision.

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How I Made $0 In 13 Months of Blogging

And you, too, can be just like me!

In all seriousness, that is my actual earning statement after officially blogging for 13 months (well, more like -$99 due to hosting and domain name). I’m writing this post for two reasons:

(1) It is insanely easy to glamorize the lives of your favorite bloggers, or to envy those that actually make a living at this; they make it look so easy. When you think, “Hey, I have ideas, I want to blog, too,” it’s disheartening to see what appears to be everyone else, except for you, succeed.

This is called survivorship bias. Lots of people fail or struggle, you just don’t see it. This post is me showing the world (okay, the optimistically nine people who regularly read this blog), that I have tried and failed at generating any kind of “side hustle” income from this blog. That I have spent easily over 100 hours of just writing for negative financial returns. We so rarely publicize and try to learn from failures.

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Free Events in and Around Boston

The weekend before last we went to the Boston Local Food Festival on the Greenway in Boston. While we used the opportunity as our one fancy “nom out” for the month (see this post for details on our monthly adventures), there were loads of free samples, a cooking competition, and demonstrations all for free. We even got free parking using Spot Hero**).

There are so many great, free activities in any city, and this post is a guide to what’s available in our own neck of the woods. However, most of the tips are valid across the country. This doesn’t cover the most touristy things you can do for free in Boston (freedom trail, etc), but Boston on Budget has a great article covering that base for your reference.

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Saving Money on Money (International Transfers)

This is not a sponsored post, but there are affiliate links to TransferWise, a company we enthusiastically support and reached out to.

I love technology. So much information at our fingertips, such almighty power compared to twenty years ago. So why is so much banking technology awful? At work I could spin up a network of VMs in minutes, so why does it take multiple days to make a transfer of funds from one bank in Massachusetts to another bank in Massachusetts? Why? Why does it need to be that way?

The worst culprit by far has been international transfers and exchanges. We have family outside of the US, and occasionally we like to send money overseas. Our first experience with transferring money was just painful. We searched around, trying to find the best combination of rate and fee for our use case.

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Diving With Octogenarians and Not Worrying (So Much) About Money

These past 6 weeks have been crazy busy. Three work trips and a 10 day vacation totaling $5883 (over five months rent!!).

The work trips were actually pretty great in their own rights. I was able to get in some sightseeing, meet up with family I haven’t seen since I was literally a baby, and grow friendships. I’ve always been fairly friendly with work colleagues, but now I’m building more honest-to-goodness friendships – the kind where we would actually keep in touch if I quit work tomorrow. It’s pretty awesome.

And that vacation? Best ever, hands down. Me and Fergus, my 80-year-old grandparents, and two of their “retired” friends spent 10 days in the Cayman Islands full of sting rays, sunscreen slathering, and scuba diving. Yes, scuba diving. Continue reading

Not Quitting?

It has officially been just over a month since my last post. Part of the reason has been working slightly longer hours and exercising more, both in a good way. I’m contributing more and feeling needed, and I’m feeling better in general because of basic taking care of myself.

The larger issue has been fully working out what is going on in my head – what it is I want out of life.

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Index Funds: What John Oliver Left Out

Last Week Tonight With John Oliver is just a glorious show. This Sunday’s show was no exception.

If retirement accounts and fund choices scare you, that video is a fantastic introduction to investing that touts the benefits of index funds and the dangers of non-fiduciary financial advisors.

The thing is, I was an index investing convert even before I joined the working world, and I was still completely confused when it came time to choose investments for my 401k. As Fluffster now holds a Bachelor of Financial Advising (you can too, just click that link ;), here is a hopefully-straightforward supplement.

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Be Lazy, Eat In: Frugal Kitchen Breakfast Edition

I am spoiled. Fergus is in charge of cooking, and for good reason: his food is delicious (plus he enjoys cooking). Some mornings I literally wake up to the offer of breakfast in bed.

Yet as I write this Fergus, is away on a business trip. And I can’t cook. And I hate cleaning the kitchen. What’s a frugally minded, culinarily-impaired engineer to do? Since we only go to restaurants rarely (and they have to be special, not just a convenience purchase), eating out is not an option. That would be weak.

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How to Gala on a Budget

Hey all!

Yesterday my guest post for the Millennial Money Man was published! Read about my trials and tribulations attending a gala. That’s right, a gala. On two days notice. Yeah…

If you would also be freaked out and have no idea what to wear, definitely check the article out. I cover basic dress code guidelines, and of course all the frugal options – including rich people secrets I learned while undercover as a respectable gala attendee!