Closing up shop plus an opening at Chautauqua, my new podcast, phone, book and other random cool stuff

water dancer

Drowning in debt? Great Ted-Talk on Debt. Short, too.

My apologies.

I should have posted this a few weeks back.

As regular readers know, I tend to disappear each summer for a few weeks of extended travel. We roam around at other times during the year too, but usually only for a week or two at a time. Unless you are paying very close attention to the blog you likely don’t notice those.

Since I travel without a computer, laptop, tablet or other device I am for the most part out of touch. I confess I kinda like that and it is a great break from the daily routine. Which, after all, is part of the pleasure of traveling.

Sometimes the places I stay will have a “house” computer and I’ll log on to check emails and the blog. But these are far too uncomfortable to do any serious writing. At least for me.

The point of telling you all this is so you won’t be surprised as the coming weeks pass without any new posts. I’ll also be very slow in responding to comments and questions. But go ahead and leave them. I’ll try to get to a few from the road and will respond to the others when I return.

Actually, our summer travels have already started. We just got back from my in-law’s beach house on Lake Michigan, which they graciously make available to us. You walk out the door right on to the sand that stretches miles in both directions. We returned wondering why it has been four years since last we were there, and resolving to make this an annual trip.

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan

Since I grew up about a mile from the lake, and spent my mostly unsupervised boyhood adventures in and around it, it holds a special place in my heart. But even without that history, I can’t imaging not finding it magical.

After this short return to New Hampshire, in a few days we’ll head to Ecuador. My wife will spend the first two weeks with me in Cuenca, our favorite city there, before heading back home. For my part, I’ll then head over to the little beach town of San Clemente. For $15 a day I’ve secured a water front room right on the beach. Breakfast included, of course.

If the low price concerns you, this place came with the seal of approval from some local expats. They don’t know it yet, but I’ll be paying for their advice with the taco mix, baking soda and Miracle Whip I happen to know they like and can’t easily get.

From there I head to the Chautauqua. I am very much looking forward to this event. It has taken a lot of work and planning (fortunately for me, mostly by Cheryl :)) and it seems we have an exceptionally interesting and adventuresome group joining us.


Rooftops of Hacienda Cusin where we’ll be staying

Join us in Ecuador

When we first announced the Chautuaqua in late February, it took all of three weeks to fully sell out. But since then, life has intervened for a couple of attendees. Unfortunately, illness and job loss were the reasons. We are very sad as these were two couples we were especially looking forward to meeting.

So we find ourselves unexpectedly with four open slots. If you’d like to join in, just go to the registration page let Cheryl know. Hope to see you there!

The Book

Even when I return, things around here are likely to be more quiet that usual. Thanks in large part the kind encouragement of many readers here, I have finally begun writing my book. I figured this would be far easier than it is turning out to be. While much of the material has been written in the form of the posts here, those have come together randomly as topics were suggested or occurred to me.

Putting this all in book form requires a rather dramatic rethinking and organizational effort, combined with no small amount of rewriting so the material actually flows. Then, too, there is actual process of preparing it for publication. That’s a whole new area for me. It will be fun, but time consuming, to learn.

While far more work than I had imagined, it is also great fun and very rewarding to do. Plus, I can’t wait to get it into your hands. Assuming, of course, you’d want to have it.

While I complain about writing one, my pal Tom has written several in between roaming all over the planet having grand adventures. Oh, and he also just started his own book publishing company:

Irritatingly, he’s also younger than I. But then, more and more people are these days….

The New Podcast

Earlier this week I sat down for this

interview podcast: Why your house is a terrible investment

with Joshua Sheats who recently launched his blog Radical Personal Finance. Joshua reached out to me a couple of weeks back after having read my post of the same name.  In his email he said:

“I’ve really enjoyed reading your site–your “worst possible investment” article is an absolute gem. I’ve sent a bunch of people to it and literally read it aloud to people a half dozen times. I also really enjoyed your interview on Mad Fientist’s show.”

At first, with all this travel going on, I put him off. But then it occurred to me this might be a great bit of extra content here for while I’m gone. Plus, look at those nice words he wrote to me! Who says flattery doesn’t work? 🙂

Once you are done listening to my podcast with him, or if it just bores you too much to carry on, check out some of his others. He also has interviews up with The Mad Fientist and Paula of Afford Anything.

A new cell phone?

An upstart new cell phone company has asked me to give their new phone and service a test run. My pal Mr. MM already has, and with high marks, so I expect to be impressed.

Assuming I am, I’ll do a full review on it when I return.  It will include a link for the discount the company has promised to offer my readers if they sign up.

It will get its first harsh test when I take it to Ecuador. As I mentioned above, I don’t typically travel with gadgets. But I’m making an exception for this one. Seems I’ll be able to make and receive calls to US area code numbers from anywhere in the world that has a wi-fi connection, in addition to accessing the internet of course. We’ll see.

The phone uses a wi-fi/cell hybrid service that I’m told is transparent to the user. The cost is $19 per month + whatever taxes apply where you live. Unlimited data, texting and minutes. Pretty sweet deal.

As you might imagine if you read this blog, my first and main question was:

“Is there anything I can do with this phone that will ever cost me more than that $19?”

Answer: “No.”

My first impression (and hope) is that these guys could be to phone companies what Vanguard is to investment companies. And that would be a very good thing for us. I’ll let you know.

Random cool stuff

As always, I’ll leave you with some random cool stuff I’ve been collecting….

Butterfly by Missy


Photo by Melissa Boulanger


El Angel

Here’s some great music from Stan Hirsch, my favorite guitarist:

The Good, Bad and the Ugly

Dawn’s Dance

Before I Fell After

Compelled to Play

Mardan Palace

24 amazing pools

The Fairy Doors of Ann Arbor, MI


Rocks moving themselves along the desert floor

Cool facts about Planet Earth


 How to stack firewoodtepui-venezuela-1[4]


WPA poster

WPA – Works Progress Administration art.


As you watch this two minute clip showing all the features, remember: This thing was built some 200 years ago using only hand tools:

The Roentgens’ Berlin Secretary Cabinet


Say, Luke, this place looks oddly familiar….

Finally, here’s my favorite motorcycle video:

It’s Better in the Wind

I first put this up in my motorcycle post way back in ’11. It deserves another look. Even if you don’t care about motorcycles, it’s 15 and a half minutes well spent for the sound track alone.

(I have it playing as I write)

This short film was created by a young guy named Scott Toepfer and as much as anything I’ve seen it captures the sheer joy of motorbiking.  Doesn’t hurt that a couple of the bikes in it are Triumph Scramblers like mine.  Scott and his pals have good taste.


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  1. Vince says

    Great. I guess I’ll just have to reread everything again while we wait! 😉

    Found you through MMM, but quickly has become my most favored blog to follow. Can’t wait for the book.

    Have a great trip and too cool on those table top mountains!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Vince…

      …you made my day!

      Hope you also enjoy listening to the podcast.

      Those table top mountains are in Venezuela. Angel Falls, the highest waterfall in the world, pours off one. We were there many years ago and I remember flying between them to the airstrip in the jungle on the valley floor below.

  2. CashRebel says

    Im also headed to a beach house on lake michigan later in summer. Such a wonderful way ti relax and enjoy a little nature close to home (for me). I didn’t know you did podcasts. Ill have ti check them out.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      cool beans CR! I love that lake. Where on it will you be?

      Yep, I’ve been invited twice now to be interviewed for podcasts. Both have been fun to do.

      Recently I created a button at the top of the blog that will take you to links for them and for guest posts I’ve done and posts others have done about me:

      Hope you enjoy them!

  3. Done by Forty says

    Hi there!

    I’m excited that you’re writing a book. I can imagine that’s a tough exercise but I’m sure the end result (and the feeling you get) will make it all worth it.

    We cannot make the trip in September but I will be in South America in November, to visit my wife (who is taking a 5 month trip to Peru for her dissertation research). She’ll need to leave Peru for a bit (say, a few days to a week) in November as her time for one stretch in Peru is limited to like 90 days, and we’re trying to find a good country/city to visit. Brazil seems great but also expensive, and the Mrs. isn’t excited about Argentina. We were thinking Santiago, Chile…but then I know you are a fan of Ecuador. Any advice?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hey DB40…

      Great to see you over here!

      Too bad you can’t join us for the Chautauqua this year, but there will be others.

      Very cool you’ll be making your way to Peru come November. We had a great time there last year. Where is you wife based?

      Tough question for me to answer. I’d go almost anyway the locals aren’t actively hacking each other to death with machetes. So I’m not very discriminating. 😉

      Brazil is also high on our list, but we’ve yet to make it. For now we want to focus on Spanish speaking countries as we’ve trying to learn the language.

      We’d love to go to Argentina, especially Buenos Aries. But the summer months here are their winter time there, so that will have to wait till my wife finally retires.

      I have motorbike riding pal planning to retire to Chile and he likes to remind me that is is a 1st world country these days. He speaks highly of Santiago. We only crossed the very northern tip last year, but were very favorably impressed. Especially in that we crossed over from Bolivia. Great place, but very 3rd world.

      So far, Ecuador is my favorite. But that’s just personal choice, not because it is “better.” If you go I’d avoid Guayaquil. Not much there and it is probably the most dangerous city in the country. We spent four days, enjoyed it and had no problems, but that was more than enough.

      For what it’s worth, largely based on Go Curry Cracker’s adventures, we a now planning to head to Guatemala over the Christmas holidays.

      See you out there!

      • JP says

        Hi there! I’m from Santiago, Chile, and I highly recommend visiting the city in November for a couple of reasons: 1) the air pollution is lower than during the winter – you can see the Andes 🙂 and 2) tourist season is still low so you don’t feel overwhelmed by so many people around you. I live now in the States, and I always choose the month of November to visit. I’m not sure though whether I’ll be there this coming November or not.

        Jim, I just heard your podcast, took some notes, and I wrote your advise about FI on my whiteboard. Great stuff! I really like your blog too!


        • jlcollinsnh says

          Hi JP…

          Always good to here the views of a local!

          Thanks for the kind words on the blog and podcast. High praise indeed getting up on the whiteboard!

      • Done by Forty says

        Hi Jim,

        My wife and I are considering Ecuador as well (in part because they don’t charge us $160 pp just to visit the country). Is there a particularly city you’d recommend spending a week in as a home base? We’re open to seeing some nature on hikes, horse rides, or short bus excursions on day trips. We kind of like seeing authentic parts of cities, too, rather than touristy bits. And we’re planning to stay in hostels, if possible.

        It seems that Quito & Cuenca might be affordable options to fly into from Lima, so if you recommend either of those, that might be a fit.

        Oh, and my wife is based in Moquegua, Peru, for the trip.

        Thank you!

        • jlcollinsnh says

          Hi DBF….

          At the moment we are in Cuenca, which remains my favorite city in Ecuador. Lots to do in and around here, and a beautiful place to boot.

          For our first trip we rented a flat in Quito and had a great time, but that is a bigger city and a bit more dangerous too.

          The last night of the Chatauqua, we´ll be taking the group to the old town there for dinner and I´m looking forward to seeing it again. But I´d rather stay in Cuenca.

          Interesting comment about wanting to visit the “authentic” bits. I never quite thought of it that way, but it makes sense.

          Except for some specific tourist attractions like the muesem on the Equator, all of Ecuador feels authentic to me.

          In contrast, Venice Italy, while still a beautiful city, has been entirely given over to the tourists. To me these days it feels a bit like a part of Disneyland.

          Machu Pichu in Peru is a bit like that, but it is so magnificent it is worth overlooking.

          I´ve not been to Moquegua. What is it near and how does your wife like it?

          Hope you make it to Ecuador and if you do, be sure to let us know how it goes.

  4. Prob8 says

    Thanks for posting the link to the podcast. Good interview.

    As for your new cell phone . . . MMM wrote in the comments to his review that if you start a call on wifi but then walk out of wifi range the call will be dropped. Hopefully you have an opportunity to test that out and see if they have fixed that glitch. I am hoping to transition my wife to their system soon. It would be nice to see your review first.

    Happy travels!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Prob8….

      glad you liked it.

      I remember that dropping issue and my understanding is it will switch to cell and ask if you want to reconnect. But I have yet to experience this. Not ideal, but better than just a dropped call that needs to be redialed I guess.

      My review likely won’t be until October, if you can wait that long. On the plus side, they tell me upgraded phones will be available then. We plan to wait for the new phones to get my wife set up.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      My pleasure Tom….

      My hope is putting my book-in-progress out there will help commit me to getting it done.

      After bumming around for the summer, of course. 🙂

  5. cv says

    Very cool picture, and I am very happy to find that you grew up a Michigander. I live in ann arbor- what a strange place it is, after spending 5+ years away. I think the podcasts alike would be great opportunity for promotion for your book, which, like I said before, I can’t wait to get my hands on multiple copies. I’ll also be sending my libraries requests to order them when they are in print so more people will have access to them. Can’t wait to hear your comment on the new cell phone gig- maybe a chapter of your book should be just that “the Vanguard of everything else in life.”

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks cv…

      Glad to know somebody plans to buy it! Turns out it’s not cheap getting it done, at least to the level I’m aiming for. I also love the idea of getting it into libraries. While I, of course, hope people will buy it, I also want it to reach those who’d be interested regardless. Who knows? If I do it well enough, perhaps after reading the library copy they’ll find enough value to want to own it.

      Great chapter idea! But for now it would be a short one. So far, in my opinion, only Vanguard would be in it. Mmmmm… That would be a great question to ask readers here: What companies would they nominate?

      Finally, sorry to have misled you, but I grew up around Chicago on the other side of the lake. Hope you’ll still buy my book. 😉

      • cv says

        no worries; chicago is acceptable. 🙂 talked to some family members tonight, and introduced them to your website, they are super excited to start reading your blogs from chapter 1. And my dad is also starting to ask some more questions… I am psyched that the ripple affect continues.

  6. Opus says

    Lake Michigan was on our list for a vacation this summer. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find an affordable house/cottage for rent for a week stay. Another year perhaps, as it sure looks beautiful.

    I love the pictures you post.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      That’s too bad. Hope you make your way there one day.

      When we are at our in-law’s place I ofter wonder what it would cost if we were paying. If they are around, we take them out to a nice dinner and we leave $100 to have the place cleaned. Combined that might buy what? one night?

  7. Mrs EconoWiser says

    Looking forward to the book and I’m going to listen to the podcast right now! Wish I could join you guys in Ecuador.
    On a personal note, I’m also very glad you posted this article. I kinda check your blog every other day to see whether there’s a new post. Hope you’ll post more inspiring articles after a great summer. Enjoy!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      It would be great fun to have you there, Mrs. EW. Perhaps for another one. We also intend to visit the Netherlands one day, but that’s likely a couple of years in the future.

      Why not subscribe? That way any new posts come to you!

  8. PFgal says

    Have a great trip! I look forward to reading about it, and especially the Chautauqua, when you get back. And I’m jealous of your phone deal. I know the carrier and I’d love to try it, but it runs on Sprint’s network, which has lousy reception around here. Too bad, because it sounds like a great deal. I hope it works out for you! I’ll just have to keep looking around for another one for around here 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says


      So far when the phone is in cell mode (it defaults to wi-fi when that’s available) the reception with Sprint has been fine. That was a concern of mine as well. We had been on Verizon, which had its own issues…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      it really is a special place. We are already planning our return next summer.

      hope you make it there one day.

  9. No Waste says

    Incredible photos!

    Your vacation “disconnect” sounds like the perfect plan to me!

    It was a sad day when I realized that professional athletes were almost all younger than me. I used to think I could be on of them, now they could be a little brother or sister!

  10. Trisha Ray says

    (Great photos, by the way! And the house on Lake Michigan – sweet!)

    I’m curious about the phone results…it would be nice to keep the same number overseas instead of having to buy a new SIM card each time. And get RID of the contract with Verizon! So keep us posted.

    And – YES! Publishing a book is harder than I thought, having just finished mine. Yikes. Worthwhile, and fun, but – certainly more effort than originally suspected.

    Enjoy your summer travels – always love reading your posts.

  11. Dividend Mantra says


    Wow! A book? That’s phenomenal. Great stuff. I’m anxious to see how it turns out!

    Great shot of Lake Michigan. I grew up in Michigan, and spent some time out in Grand Haven and Muskegon. I always hated how cold the lake was in the summer, but now a big piece of me misses those summers and other days long since passed. Funny how some memories get better over time.

    Looking forward to seeing your review on Republic. I’ve heard mixed stuff so far, but a new perspective is always nice.

    Have a merry time in your travels!

    Best wishes.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Well, in theory anyway. 🙂 lots of work yet to come on it.

      mostly the lake is very cold, but somedays when the breeze pushes the sun-warmed surface water to shore, it can be delightful. Maybe that doesn´t happen on the MI side?

      As for the Republic phone, I´ve also read some of those mixed reviews. Mostly the critisems seem to be about the phone itself not being on a par with the newer models now available. Word is, come October, RW will be offering a newer and more powerful version.

      Since I am moving from a dumb phone, my issues have revolved around the learning curve of using a smart phone for the first time. As antiquated as it may be, is is light years ahead of what we had. That been a bit frustrating, but I do love the ablity to check emails and to call the USA from here in Ecuador at no additional charge.

      Looking at just the RW service seperate from the phone itself, so far it has been flawless. And I love being Verizon free!

  12. Kraig says


    Good stuff. Wish I was coming to Ecuador. Maybe next year or the year after, we’ll have to see. Let me know how things turn out with Republic Wireless. I tried them out but it just didn’t work out for me. I may try it again once they come out with a new phone.

    A book sounds great. I look forward to sending my readers to it, and reading it myself of course.

    Take care and I look forward to chatting again when you return.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks Kraig….

      You´ll always be welcome!

      Once I get the book published, any support you care to offer in spreading the word will be most welcome!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks GP….

      It has been so far.
      On the beach in Ecuador just now, the Pacific lapping the sand outside the window of my $15 per night room. Of course there is no hot water. But cold showers make you tough. Heh.

      Dinner at the little place in the center of this dusty little town was roast chicken and beer. $5.25

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks ff…

      Living the slow and easy beach life here in this little fishng village. There was a dead whale on the beach today so that was exciting.

      Next week I’ll be at the Chautauqua. Very much looking forward to meeting all the cool folks coming.

      Wish you, and some of the other great readers here, could be there too!

      Ok. Time to walk the beach. Those Pacific waves won’t roll in by themselves ya know.

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