Fighting giraffes, surreal landscapes, dancing with unicorns and restoring a Vanagon

eat ice cream daily

What better advice than this?

As I mentioned last time, this whole retirement thing has turned out to be a bunch busier than I would have guessed. Or have planned for.  Like a kid dishing out his own ice cream, I’ve heaped far too much stuff into my bowl.  At least for the first part of the year.  Net result?  My planned post for today on Social Security is still under construction.

I am please to report I have passed the various exams and am now fully VITA certified by the IRS in Basic, Intermediate and Advanced Tax Preparation, along with Ethics.  Hmmm.  Seems I can’t have client refunds directed into my personal account after all.  I can’t even put out a tip jar!

This past Tuesday I attended the second of our French classes.  I am reminded as to why I struggled so with it in college. What makes it challenging for me is looking at how the words are spelled and then hearing how they are pronounced. Big difference. Hopefully, with time, it will become more obvious. With Spanish, I can look at a word and be pretty close at guessing the pronunciation. With French, I’ve a lot to learn!

Ordinarily, I save these collections of cool stuff for you for when I slip away for a few weeks or months.  But, why wait?

Let’s start with these…

tree Dancer920.jpg.CROP.article920-large

surreal landscapes

There’s ways of looking and then there are ways of seeing.


Who knew giraffes were fighters?


These guys look pretty beat up, right?

Three Princeton students pose after the Freshman, Sophomore snowball fight.

Snow ball fight??  Seems college guys were tougher in….

1893. Princeton, NJ.

Image 1

The only known photograph of an African American Union soldier with his family.


No question, in places like Spain these are hard days.  This brought a smile to my face and a tear to my eye:  Here Comes the Sun.

And this guy is just incredible.  Just wait til he goes up the lamp post.

Here’s FemmeFrugality on…..

unicorn mask

….what to do when you have all the money in the world.

Here’s James Altucher on….


 ….the Six People You Must Find Today.



10 Reasons You Have to Quit Your Job This Year

Glenn writes a blog called To Simplify about living and traveling in his van.  Recently he decided to downsize even further.  He picked up an old Vanagon, gutted it and has begun rebuilding it.  His posts on the project have fascinated me.  Maybe you, too:


Simple Living thru Insane Projects

There’s finally some ambition lacking going on over at Lacking Ambition.

lacking ambition

a moment of ambition lacking

Meanwhile, Paula had trouble renting this beautiful house:

rental house

$2700 lesson learned

Mr. Money Mustache presents his annual review of not-so-much money spent:

MMM revealed-134x180

Living the high life on low bucks

101 Centavos tells us what we really already know:


Bacon is way better than New Year’s Resolutions

You’ll find my tale of a vanilla/bacon milkshake in the comments.

My pal Sean is back posting in a big way.  Learn how to…

Go Broke with Self Storage



What We’re Up Against

Finally, if Monday will see you returning to the daily grind, here’s…


How to Tap Dance to Work

Until then, have a wonderful weekend!

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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. Michael Crosby says

    Jim, interesting that we gravitate to the same blogs. Lacking Ambition, MMM, To Simplify, yours and ERE are my favorite blogs. Though ERE is pretty much on hold, I still enjoy reading his old stuff, just lots of wisdom as far as I’m concerned.

    This Lacking Ambition fellow is a very interesting character to me and inspiring. He is so young and has personal finance figured out so early in life.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      He is all that and even more in person.

      Since he’s only about an hour motorbike ride from me we had a chance to meet for coffee last summer. Good guy and a good time.

      • RobDiesel says

        That’s pretty cool. I stumbled across his blog many moons ago and was struck by his simple statement that he just doesn’t want to work. That was an honest proclamation that is 10% me. People look shocked when I say I don’t. The thing is after retirement I am sure there will be plenty of things to fill my time (with joy) but it won’t be actual work-for-money.

        I have to make a (motorcycle?) trip up to the Norfeast (pronounciation joke) and visit you, . (lackingambition) and Bart Centre (the guy behind
        I’m not sure what it is with the Northeast, but it does collect some interesting characters.

        BTW, I never found English all that hard to learn. I did start learning it in 3rd grade, but when I moved here as not-quite-a-legal-adult, I realized school learning wasn’t even half the battle. Yet, six months of total immersion and I started dreaming and thinking in English and then it was all just working on my pronunciation. French and German were never my strong points. I am proud to say I could probably get to where I need to go if you dropped me off in the middle of each country, but I’d have to speak Italian (wave my hands a lot) to augment my butchering of their languages. 🙂

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Hi Rob….

          If you make it up to NH, I’ll buy the coffee. We’ll speak English. 🙂
          Where are you coming from?

          I’d also be interested in meeting Bart. The link to his site in your comment didn’t work, so here it is for those interested:

          It reminds me of my standing bet offered to those who know when the world will end:

          all of mine/all of yours. you pick the date the world ends. if you’re right, you get all of mine. if the world’s still here, I get all of yours.

          For some reason I’ve yet to have a taker…..

          • RobDiesel says

            Thank you, and English will be your reward for treating me to a coffee. 🙂 I’m currently residing in Texas, but can’t wait to trade that in to return to the West Coast.

            Bart is a hoot (thanks for sorting the link) and was gracious enough to autograph his two books for my girlfriend. His site was actually “for real” for about two years if I remember right, and he did interviews and news coverage about it. Hilarity ensued. He came out later and admitted it was a gag, which was very clever and lead to even more laughs.

            The world ending was interesting – not only did it spawn religions (7th Day Adventists/Millerites were waiting for the 2nd coming of Christ, he didn’t show, Miller misread, they waited again, Christ didn’t show, etc but they still exist) and interesting behavior in people, but the later ones don’t get publicly shamed forever and ever (he nutters about May 21st, then oh, June, no wait.. Mayans about December 21st) as they should.

            I was curious, of course, so I watched the markets and didn’t see a single blip indicating that people feared the end. Of civilization, that is. The fiscal cliff was feared, mostly because it was real.

            My money didn’t do anything different. The stocks increased, my 401(k) from the old job rolled into VTSAX, most everything is on autopilot that way. Netflix has been a boon to my portfolio as one of my earliest “smart” investments, Sirius Radio and 3D Printing as well.

            The markets go up. You just have to be in them. 🙂

  2. The Keichi One says

    French sounds difficult! One thing I can say about Japanese is that there is no trick to learn about pronunciation. Now if there just weren’t so many kanji!

    Your link to Glenn’s blog about the Vanagon found me reading nearly all of his posts from the last four months. What a great project! I can’t wait to see how it turns out. His music isn’t half bad either!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      A number of years training in Shotokan taught me, if nothing else, to count to ten in Japanese. Usually while in pain. Other than a few commands I don’t remember but would likely respond to, that’s it. 🙂

      Glad you’re enjoying To Simplify. Great vicarious fun!

  3. spaarolifantje says

    In the defense of French: you English also have a really weird way of writing down your words. Only we Dutch know how to pronounce words in the right way. Everybody else is just ignoring some letters here, adding some unnecessary sounds there and abusing the beautiful ou, au and ui combinations…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      no need to defend French, the shortcomings in the learning process are entirely mine. As for English, I’m eternally grateful it is my native language. From what I hear, I wouldn’t want to have to learn it as an adult.

      Some one told me that Dutch and English are very similar. True?

      • spaarolifantje says

        I should have added a 😉 to that previous post. 🙂

        English and Dutch share some things, like paying little attention as to whether a word is male or female, the way we make verbs past or future tense, and how we don’t change a word depending on its role in a sentence (genetiv and dativ in German, things like “the postman did something, the postman’s dog, talk to the postman, hit the postman”, where in German this would ask for different endings of “the” and of “postman”).
        We also share words, especially a lot of words about the sea, like sea/zee, boat/boot, fish/vis, keel/kiel and scurbuk/scheurbuik . You can sit on a stool and we will sit on a stoel, but our stoel is actually your chair and your stool is a krukje here.

        But I find the “th”-sound impossible to pronounce, at least I understand the real “th”-sound should be with a special movement of your tongue, mine comes out as “d”. And you would find our “ui” sound difficult. And yes, that is one sound, not a sequence of two sounds like ui as in intuitive.

        So yes, some similarities (=overeenkomsten) but also some differences (=verschillen).

  4. femmefrugality says

    I was so shocked when I originally learned about giraffe fights! I guess those necks were designed for more than just spotting predators and eating off trees! These are some really cool articles/pics. I’m honored to be among them…thanks so much!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Ha! No surer sign of a general lack of manliness than the existence of a site titled: “The Art of Manliness.” Especially when one of the manly skills taught there is “How to dial 911″*

      *for my international readers, 911 is the emergency number you call for police and/or fire help.

      • renewablewealth says

        Not to get depressing or anything, but many men of our generation grew up without fathers. I’m glad there’s someone out there at least trying to teach the sorts of things you were supposed to learn from dad.

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