Solar Fest

solarfest5

Save the date for this year’s Solar Fest, the city’s only off-the-grid festival! Join us on Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014 at Olmos Basin Park for a day of fun –and learning– under the sun. More info to come.

Since we started up this blog, I have met and interacted with some crazy awesome people. I got to help proofread a book for JLCollins, got featured on Rockstar Finance and talked to J Money, did a guest post, had email exchanges with several bloggers, and exchanged post comments with many others. Also, my latest claim to fame is that I was on an email from JLCollins to a group of 13 people, one of whom was Mr. Money Mustache (yes, I’m super lame, I get it). The financial independence community has been incredibly welcoming and I learn more every day from these great people.

Okay Money, I don’t really hate you. It’s just that sometimes you aggravate me, kind of like when my favorite characters die on Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey. I’ll get over it as long as you eventually grant us our freedom.

Have you ever bought something that seemed like an awesome idea at the time but later you wondered if you lost your mind? It’s definitely happened to us (hello, $300 P90X kit purchased after watching an infomercial at 3am while eating a plateful of tacos after getting home from late the bar).

What about things that were mostly reasonable (e.g. a second car for the Paradise family), but cost so much money you agonized over that “should we have done that?” feeling for weeks or months?

And then there are times when you spend your hard-earned cash and you never look back, because you were able to spend it on something that is near and dear to your heart.

Over the last 8 months or so we spent about $10,000 for a very dear pet who had cancer. This was our choice because we had the savings and we would have done anything we could to increase our chances of saving her. We had $500 vet visit after $500 vet visit, but we never cared or worried about the money because for us that was the right way to spend it. Sadly, she passed away in February but spent her last days warm and safe at home with the people who loved her the most.

After going through this experience, we realized we wanted to do more to contribute to the causes that mean the most to us. To spend our disposable income in the “right way for us,” so to speak.

I adopted both of our cats from our local humane society, which is an awesome organization with a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator. They have programs that help abused and neglected animals throughout the state. They are also opening up a “cat cafe” about five minutes from our house where they will host “movie nights with cats”, “date nights with cats”, and my personal favorite “yoga with cats”.

Back in March I received an email from the Humane Society letting me know about a fundraiser to try to raise enough money to get the cat cafe up and running. Needless to say, not very much is going to stop me from getting to do yoga with cats.

And now I would like to introduce you to a method of charitable giving that wins the day in terms of frugality: Vanguard Charitable. Yes, if you’re like us and have caught the early retirement / financial independence bug, you already invest your money through Vanguard and now you can give it away through them too.

The Vanguard Charitable Endowment Program was founded by Vanguard about twenty years ago, but it is now a separate organization. They are a national “donor-advised fund” (DAF) organization, which means that they essentially “hold” endowment funds for you so that you don’t have to do any of the administration yourself. Money can be held in several different types of investments with varying degrees of risk (or in cash).