Don’t Look Now, but the Jones Family is Ahead


You watch HGTV, so you already know that kitchen counters are of utmost importance for your kitchen happiness and having updated appliances is mandatory.  It’s best if they are granite and stainless steel, of course.  Yes, if you have stainless steel appliances and granite countertops you should be proud of your kitchen and be eager to show it off.  You will hardly be able to contain the joy that bubbles out of you when you are cooking.

Until this week.

Whirlpool has introduced the White Ice finish pictured above.  The bloggers who follow kitchen fashion are quite breathless.  It’s much better than stainless because it doesn’t pick up fingerprints and much, MUCH better than those old cheap white ones because it has a stainless steel handles and accents.  In addition to these game changing attributes it is being compared to the style of an iPhone.  It’s not only worth getting, it really makes all other refrigerators not even worth owning.  This is it.  You should run out and buy it today if you want to be fashionable.  Don’t hesitate … rumor has it that the delivery van is already on the way to the Jones household with the entire set of White Ice appliances.

Unfortunately for him, the Independent Penguin isn’t even looking for a new refrigerator since his old one is still running.  It seems that he will just have to remain unfashionable today.  Me too.  You?


Give Great Gifts


This is the season for gifts.  There will be enormous efforts to identify, purchase, ship, and present gifts in the next few weeks before Christmas.  ENORMOUS efforts.

And most of them won’t be well suited to their recipients.

Here is modest proposal to identify what will be a great gift.  Give something that will be used on Christmas … a year from now.

Here are a few that fit the bill from my life:
Under $10
A real baseball
Whiffle ball & Bat

Under $50
A Ukulele
Quality Chess Set
Fleece jacket
Juggling apparatus

Everything but the jacket has something in common.  They all are used in developing a skill that becomes more enjoyable over time.  The more they are used the more enjoyable it is using them.

Remember that you are in the constant process of trading some time in your life for money.  If some of that money is used to buy gifts you are trading some time from your life for that purpose.

The Independent Penguin only gives great gifts.  I will try to do the same this year.  Will you?


Path Functions and Life

path function


A Path function depends on how you get from point A to point B.  A State function doesn’t depend on how you get from point A to point B.  Think about how many Path functions there are in life and how many State functions there are in life. In an earlier post I mused about how important it is to avoid wasting money on State functions ( ).  This post is devoted to the importance of Path functions in our lives.

There are the small Path functions that we have to decide on every day.  The cumulative effect of these are a major factor in our life.

If you arrive at an office and have to get to the second floor for a meeting you can take the stairs or the elevator.  Either way you will get to the meeting on time.  If you take the stairs you will get some exercise and burn some calories compared to taking the elevator.  It is less convenient to take the stairs.  This is typical of a daily Path function – the better option is less convenient and the better option requires more work.   The sum of these choices have a large effect over a lifetime.

There are also large Path functions that influence our lives.

Consider 2  forty year old men.  Both have a net worth of exactly a million dollars.  Both are university educated.  On the face of it, they appear equal.  But because of the Path function they took to get to where they are, one is financially independent and one is nearly destitute.

The first man was a trust fund baby.  He inherited a large sum from his financier father and scraped through college with a liberal arts education.  He has never worked and has been depleting his trust fund since he gained control at 21.  Nineteen years later, he has lost 95% of his inheritance.  He has current payments for his rental house, second home, gardening and cooking staff, boat, and leased BMW.  He will burn through his remaining liquid assets in the next six months and then have to start selling his toys to raise money to live on.  This man is spending a great deal of time worrying about the future and his place in the world.

The second man came from a working class family.  He worked his way through University and earned a STEM degree.  He gained employment after graduating and lived modestly and saved.  At this point (at 40) he has enough in investments to cover his expenses using the 4% SWR.  He can continue to work (or not), but is not beholden to his job.

The Independent Penguin is an expert at identifying and focusing his energy on Path functions in his life.  I will try to do the same.  Will you?