Also learned that Revanche is afraid of living statues...boo!

Life as a Living Statue, Party Crashing, & New Friends (FinCon Recap)

FinCon is an annual conference for money nerds of all sorts, meaning I was with *my people* for four days (even longer, actually, as the wonderful Kara from Bravely put me up in Austin for three nights)! Two separate podcasts interviewed me (the Plutus award-winning Stacking Benjamins, and the soon-to-be-Plutus-award-winning Fairer Cents), I have half a dozen projects and/or inquiries to follow up on, my closet is now 100% stocked with workout shirts courtesy of exhibit hall swag, and I am pumped full of inspiration and drive.

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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

Montreal and New Straw

We went on vacation to Montreal earlier this month! During a snowstorm! And it was fun!

We live in the Boston area, meaning we’re about a five hour drive away from Montreal. And yet, in our years living around Boston, we’ve never visited Canada. A foreign country, with a foreign language (in Quebec province), right there, close enough to take Fluffster along for the ride. Granted, most people there speak English, but I still got to order a croissant in French.

At this point you might be wondering why “straw” is in the title, much less “new straw.”

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Travel Hacking – Does it Work?

And more importantly, how much time and effort does it take?

Fergus and I try to have a balanced view of financial planning – we’re not about to spend all our evenings and weekends working just to reach retirement a little sooner. At the same time, we’re not going to spend hard earned money on a fancy car or house that really won’t improve our lives when all is said and done. Most of our decisions seem easy. Do we need a new couch? No, ours is just fine and Fluffster loves it. Should I buy that dress? No, I already have three dresses, and that shade of green reminds me of pea soup in a bad way.

Some questions are a little more nuanced, like what is travel hacking and what’s the cost/benefit analysis?

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