Bay Area Mighty Mustachian Meetup (BAMMM)

Another successful meetup!

Nine of us gathered in Mission Dolores Park to hang out, trade tips, eat pasta salad, and get to know eachother better.


Back to Basics

A lot of the advice you'll come across in life has an expiration date.  This seems to be especially true in personal finance and lifestyle engineering spheres.

This site is certainly not immune to the ravages of time.  Browsing through last year's articles:

High-Efficiency Procurement:

The $0 Landline:

"This leads us to the qualifiers for the Google Voice XMPP integration with OBi devices. One Google Voice feature getting the axe is XMPP integration in Google Voice. Support for XMPP call delivery will shut off on May 15, 2014"

Cashback Credit Cards:

"In 2013 Citi pulled the plug on the regular Forward card, but continued to offer the application for college students until just recently — that too is no longer available."

Well shoot!

(somewhat amazingly, all of the apps in the External Motivation article still exist)

So what's the punchline?

Little deals and tricks and hacks and tweaks come and go.  I've watched strategies go up in smoke that used to save me a few bucks here and there.

The net effect on my savings rate?  Absolutely negligible.  If your financial strategy is based on stealing all of the after-dinner mints at restaurants and redeeming credit card points, you've got bigger problems.

At the end of the day?  Financial independence is still based on one extremely simple concept, and you still can't afford not to invest.  Take care of those big, meaty double-digit percentage categories in your annual expenses, and everything else is just details.

The blogosphere is littered with great deals and neat tricks that don't work anymore.  When you come across one, just scoop yourself another bowl of sauerkraut and relax.  Cheers to that!


An Evening with The Mustachians

You only get one birthday a year.  I spent mine with Mr. Money Mustache.

Reclamation By the Bay

The meetup was planned for a Friday evening, 5pm, in a small park on a reclaimed industrial site along the Bay.

The EcoCenter environmental center at Heron's Head Park 

The location just happened to be convenient for MMM; him and his family were staying with friends nearby in the city.  But to me it seemed symbolic of what this movement is all about: reclamation.  Reclaiming our finances from the credit card companies and the student debt and the car loans and the mortgages.  Reclaiming our time from the folly of the forty-hour workweek, from the office cubicle, from the hour-long commute, from two weeks paid vacation.  Reclaiming our culture from the destructive insanity of consumerism, from those damnable Joneses, from the rotted-out carcass of the American Dream.

I came out here to meet a man that has inspired me to change how I live, and to inspire others to carefully consider their own paths.  I came out to meet those similarly inspired and see if we might build some community.

I was not disappointed.


Save Money with Open Source Software

Open source software.

You're almost certainly using some of it right now!  Most of the visitors to the site browse here using Firefox, an open source project of the Mozilla Foundation; the second runner up is Google Chrome, which is just the Google-branded version of the Chromium browser open source project.
Other open source projects you may have heard of:

GNU/Linux (operating systems)
Wordpress (blogging tool)
Thunderbird (email client)
Blender (3D graphics)
VLC (media player)
FileZilla (FTP client)
Adium (chat client)
Pidgin (chat client)
Audacity (digital audio editor)
FrostWire (P2P filesharing)
OpenOffice/LibreOffice (office productivity suite)
MediaWiki (wiki software that runs Wikipedia)
phpBB (internet bulletin board)
GIMP (graphics editor)
Notepad++ (text editor)
HandBrake (media transcoder)
Calibre (ebook manager)
LaTeX (document preparation system)
Sage Math (computer algebra system)

...and the list goes on.

Even if you don't think you have any installed, most of the computers that host webpages are running the Apache HTTP Server, an open source project.  Proprietary software also reuses chunks of open-source software to accomplish common software tasks without having to write everything from scratch.  And that's one of the greatest things about the open software movement: it creates a huge bank of code that anyone is free to draw from, study, and incorporate into their own projects—once something is 'done right', the product is available to everyone, for free, forever.  This is in contrast to many proprietary software projects, where corporate policy is to patent every feature and algorithm to keep anyone else from using it for 17 years.


Financial Independence and the Maker Movement

Had he attended Maker Faire, P.T. Barnum would have had some different ideas about "The Greatest Show on Earth".

a keyboard player jams in a Faraday cage on two huge audio-modulated solid state Tesla coils

Two weeks ago, I spent the day wandering a maze of wonders down in San Mateo.

There were robots that looked like art and robots that made art.  There were 3D scanners and 3D printers and 3D printers printing more 3D printers.  There was homegrown algae and homebrew and homebrewed indie electronics for homebrewing.  There were Tesla coils and drones and homemade radios and solar cookers and container houses.  There were artists, scientists, educators, engineers, and musicians.  There was teaching and learning and exploring and building and doing.

In a word?  There was Making.


Save Money on Printing

Ahh, the inkjet printer: a burning moneypit of frustration and despair!

Printing is terrible.  Here are some tips for reducing the pain.