Jonathan Ping – My Money Blog

Jonathan Ping is an engineer, personal finance geek, and aspiring early-retiree who writes at MyMoneyBlog.com about his journey towards financial freedom. These are his good things.

Good things to read.

Poor Charlie’s Almanack – The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger. A collection of essays and speeches by Munger as well as articles about him. I find Munger interesting as his idol is Benjamin Franklin (hence the book title), a man who first started a business and became financially independent, but then moved on to being a philanthropist, inventor, politician, and much more. The book explores his views not only about investing but about other important characteristics of living a good life.

Rick Steves’ Europe Through the Back Door 2013: The Travel Skills Handbook – Reading this book in college opened up the idea of independent travel to me. I find it amazing that today we can simply a buy a ticket and travel around the world with just a passport, ATM card, and whatever can fit inside a large backpack. No tour companies, no huge charter buses, no cruise ships, no large hotel chains. You can spend less and yet experience more.

Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker. I’ve read over 100 personal finance books, and this is one of the few that is truly different. Fisker poses a philosophical framework that questions many closely-held beliefs of the average middle-class North American. Big house? No, how about living in an RV. Car? No, bike and walk. I may not live like him, but I like how he pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Good things to watch.

Rounders. Essentially it’s a sports movie but about poker. By from my perspective, it was also about a person who’s passion wasn’t mainstream. While he tried to fake it as a lawyer instead, he eventually found his way back into it. I guess it spoke to me as an unhappy grad student.

Pardon the Interruption. I don’t watch much TV, although I would watch more live sports if I had the time. Instead, I watch PTI as it fits in all the current sports news plus snarky commentary into a concise 30-minute block (even less if you take out commercials). The podcast is also available for free via ESPN and on iTunes.

CNBC Originals. I usually make fun of CNBC for their constant stock market fortune-teller nonsense, but I do enjoy watching their documentaries into businesses and industries like airlines (American Airlines), cruises, retail (Costco, Wal-mart, Coca-cola), auto (GM), and other financial topics. Watch them rerun on CNBC or watch them on demand for free online via Hulu.

Good things to use.

Lodge Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, 6 qt. 80% of the durability of Le Creuset, at 20% the price. Cast iron on the inside, enameled porcelain on the outside makes it easy to clean and impervious to rust. The ease of maintenance helps encourage me to cook for myself. Great for everything – searing, frying, slow-cooking, oven safe to 400 degrees. (Replace the knob with metal, and you’re good to 500 degrees.)

Mint.com. Track your spending automatically by syncing your bank and credit card accounts. You’ll have to spend a little energy upfront to get the categorization customized, but after a couple months it provides great inside into your spending patterns. Much easier than budgeting in my opinion.

Cutco Scissors. If you’re familiar with the Cutco brand, you know what I’m talking about. I use the same pair of scissors to cut meats, papers, plastic, ropes, wood, metals and just about anything else. The price is pretty high for a pair of scissors, but if you factor in the lifetime guarantee and their durability they’re terrific.

You can connect with Jonathan Ping on Twitter, @mymoneyblog.

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