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44 Comments

  1. You REALLY expect us to believe you actually read Milton Friedman in Playboy??!!

    GREAT story, amazing how those memories are still so real to you today. Who knew that Playboy would launch you on your journey toward FI!

    My journey was launched by my Dad. No real “Freak Happenstance”, just a lifelong example from a man who always managed his money well, and kept an enviable balance in life.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Haha! It’s definitely hard to equate Milton Friedman with Playboy, but these two institutional ships did pass by in the night. And I was there to witness it. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. And hats off to your dad–surely a better guide for the road to financial independence than Playboy.

  2. Jeff D

    My Playboy collection started when I was 16. Some how I got one of those bill me later cards and when the bill came I gave it to my mother w/cash, because I didn’t have a checking account. She figured if I had enough balls to do that she paid the first year. I’ll admit that in the beginning I didn’t always read the articles, but I found that as an alternative news source they were farther left than my perspective at the time. The jokes on the back of the centerfold weren’t bad either.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Wow, you were ballsy, my friend. And I salute you. I vaguely remember the jokes on the back of the centerfold. Is that where Femlin held court?

  3. The one event that altered the trajectory of my life was joining the Army at 17. I did not come from a military family and my entry into the Army – and subsequently doing 21 years – was not a planned, carefully orchestrated occurrence. The benefits (e.g. travel, training, education, monetary, cultural exposures, etc.) of my service are literally endless (I continue to reap the benefits) and impossible to quantify.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I often regret that I have no military experience. The military isn’t for everyone, of course. But for my lazy, pampered 17-year-old self, it might have been the good kick in the arse I really needed. I didn’t wake up until my late 30s. I’m sure the military would have opened my eyes a lot sooner. Thanks for sharing your story, my friend. It’s always great hearing from a hero.

  4. I never liked reading as a young kid. Ever! The book that finally hooked me was assigned in eighth grade English: To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s still my favorite book to this day.

    What I learned from college was something most people might get in jr. high and that was how to study. I pretty much coasted through K-12, but once I was paying my own way, I had to buckle down. That has served me well ever since.

    Looking forward to your next move Mr. Litter-Picker-Upper!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Great book, To Kill A Mockingbird. I try to re-read a classic every so often. I find I get much more out of it the second or third time around. I’ve been meaning to open 1984 again for a while. Perhaps this weekend. Thanks for stopping by, Ty. And, yes, my litter-picking up career will start next week. I’m shooting for Monday. I thought I was all set to go this week by I had a phone malfunction and failed to record my musings and litter-picking-upping. Meh.

  5. So people actually do read Playboy for the articles? I thought that was just an excuse 🙂

    I’ve always been a reader but it’s hard to find time, outside of reading blogs and looking at news headlines each day. But I’m so thankful for the Internet – the knowledge I’ve gained from bloggers has been invaluable. That’s definitely changed the course of my life. My post Monday explains why 🙂

    • Mr. Groovy

      “We learned more from a three-minute record, baby, than we ever learned in school.”
      –Bruce Springsteen, No Surrender

      Haha! I think an updated version of this rally cry would be, “We learned more from three blog posts, baby, than we ever learned in school.” I couldn’t agree more with you, Kate. Not only is the knowledge I’ve gleaned from bloggers invaluable, it’s completely FREE. Take that, college-industrial complex. Thanks for stopping by, Kate. It’s always great hearing from a fellow reader.

      P.S. Your post on Monday, The Facade of Having It All Figured Out, was a gem. One of the better ones I’ve read this month. Bravo.

        • Mr. Groovy

          I don’t know if I’m jaded or what. But I’ve been having a tough time getting through personal finance books lately. I’m currently working on Ric Edelman’s, The Truth About Your Future. It’s good, but it’s a slog. Yes, it looks like some very fantastic technological advances are coming are way. But the personal finance advice is all the same. Be diversified, index funds, keep learning, yada, yada, yada. Personal finance bloggers, however, are another story. I never get tired of or bored with them. Their stories, experiences, and advice are very interesting and very entertaining. And very different. Go to one and you’ll get the benefits and mechanics of opening an HSA. Go to another one and you’ll get a confession that the blogger hasn’t figured everything out. What a breath of fresh air. So thank you, Kate, for being one of the many bloggers who keep my interest in personal finance alive.

  6. Hahaha! Well I’m certainly glad that you were converted into a reader. 🙂 I was a reader growing up but I’ve since fallen off the wagon a bit. It’s harder to read now as an adult because I already read so much for work. Bleh.

    But I do agree that college, while often an expensive daycare, has its good qualities. College beat the love of theatre out of me, so I at least didn’t pursue that as a career field (shudder).

    • Mr. Groovy

      Mrs. Groovy was a theater person too in college and she pursued an acting career for a while. But she gave herself a time limit. If she didn’t “make it” by the time she was 35 she was going to do something different. It would have been great if she made it. But if she did, I never would have met her. Two questions. Do you have any desire to get involved in community theater? And have you seen the movie, Waiting for Guffman?

  7. I always loved reading, but it wasn’t until I was drowning in debt that I figured out there were actually non-fiction books with useful information in them. A neon covered Money Girl’s Smart Moves to Grow Rich and The Wealthy Barber were my first useful books in this particular journey.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey, Mel. I wasn’t familiar with Laura Adams. I’m passing along the Money Girl podcast and the Money Girl’s Smart Moves book to my two nieces tonight. I’m sure these two resources will help them. Thanks for stopping by. It’s always great hearing from someone who discovered the power of non-fiction.

  8. Playboy has interviews? Who knew. I was never a big fan of reading, but when I went to college I learned if I didn’t read I wasn’t going to get by. I enjoy reading today, like you said for a few bucks I get the insight to some great minds or escape to some far away land.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Who knew Playboy was still around? I just saw they have an online presence. I suppose you could buy an actual magazine if you wanted one. The last time I saw a Playboy magazine was in 1984. The 30th anniversary playmate was from Buffalo and I wanted to see if I knew her. I didn’t. Oh, well. And so ended my perusing of Playboys. Thanks for stopping by, my friend.

  9. I love this, Mr. Groovy! Isn’t it interesting to look at one experience, one decision, even one moment and see how it affects the stories of our lives.

    I don’t know if you’d call it a freak happenstance, but the moment I met my husband (in college!), the trajectory of my life was forever altered. He happened to go to high school with my new roommate – and I happened to answer the phone when he called. She wasn’t there, so we talked. I swear, from then on he started calling when he knew she wouldn’t be there. 🙂 That was 24 years ago…

    • Mr. Groovy

      Aaawww, that’s a great freak happenstance. Was your roommate dating him at the time? I’m sure that was awkward if she was. Well, I’m glad things worked out. Mr. CR certainly has exquisite taste. Thanks for stopping by, Amanda. And thanks for sharing an awesome story about how answering one phone call can dramatically change your life.

  10. I’d imagine that a lot of people can say that they discovered Milton Friedman in college. Probably not many of those can then say it was from a dorm neighbor’s Playboy collection.

    I stumbled upon FI because I spent about 6 months in temp contract positions. My full time job kept telling me they would be able to bring me back “soon.” Towards the end I started thinking that they might back out and so I should try to do some research on setting up my own retirement accounts. In doing that research I came across Mr. Money Mustache’s article on index funds and from there to his Shockingly Simple Math article. If my full time job came in a few months earlier I would have felt like my retirement account was probably enough (because that’s what everyone else does!) and I wouldn’t have found FI.

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! I love it, Matt. From contract temp to FI maven. So glad you stumbled upon Mr. MM. I stumbled upon in 2012, and thank God I did. Prior to reading his Shockingly Simple Math article, I thought I was going to have to work until I was 67. The man literally gave me an extra 12 years of freedom. Going to his blog–free. Learning about the shockingly simple math–priceless. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Have a great weekend. And knock back a couple for freak happenstances and financial freedom.

  11. You know I love to read but I hated to read in school. I think it’s because I really don’t enjoy classical works like shakespeare. I get the rationale for cultural aspects of some of it but I find it a bit of a shame that early literay education largely overlooks modern works. After all what good is literary education if you end up hating to read.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Shakespeare in high school was brutal. But when I read it again in my 30s, I marveled at it. Couldn’t agree with you more, FTF. The first and most important goal of literary education is to foster a love of reading. If that love eventually brings someone to Shakespeare, awesome. If not, oh well.

    • Mr. Groovy

      Great minds think alike! I’m in a history and biography frame of mind as well. Personal finance books are getting kind of boring. Not much new under the sun there. I find personal finance bloggers much more interesting. I finished The Girls of Atomic City about a month ago. Great book on how ordinary women played a pivotal role in producing the uranium used in our Hiroshima bomb. Awesome book. I’m currently working on Team of Rivals. Another awesome book. What have you read lately? Let me know when you get a chance. Cheers, my friend.

  12. One of the big college take-aways for me was looking out for myself. I went to a private college (at the cost of a public college) and did it in 3 years. But I planned that – no one would have ever pointed it out or encouraged me to finish faster. I took my plan to my advisor each term and he was actually surprised to see I could do it. My daughter is graduating in 3 weeks after doing undergrad in 3 years. My son is starting undergrad this summer (by taking a course) – combined with all his HS college credits, he may be done in 2.5 years. I wouldn’t trade my college experiences for anything. But it can be done in smarter and much less expensive ways too.

    • Mr. Groovy

      I love it. If I ever become POTUS, you’re going to be my Secretary of Education. You nailed it, Vicki. Big education certainly isn’t looking out for you. Young people really have to approach college with an eye on ROI. If they fail to do this, they will find themselves drowning in debt with no real marketable skills to speak of. So sad.

  13. to make a side remark: college does do a lot that is not on the knowledge side of the equation: you get to live together, explore human interactions, form bands, live great experiences together.

    I do hope that my kids will be able to go out on a dorm to learn all of that in a brick and mortar fashion.

    Other than that, we once used a Playboy for a prank on a friend in our dorm when his parents came along…!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Playboy: Use it to fantasize, hone your knowledge of pop culture, and humiliate your friends in front of their parents. Great stuff, AT. Do you care to say what the prank was?

  14. I was always a reader, but my hubby’s early exposure to MAD magazine is what made him the book lover (and smartass) he is today. If you ever need a Snappy Answer to a Stupid Question, he’s your guy.

    However you came to reading and writing, Mr. G., I’m glad it happened. And I do think that critical mass of inquiring minds at college is a valuable environment, never mind what they may be inquiring about. (I’m pretty sure drinking games have spurred as much innovation as Newton’s Apple.)

    • Mr. Groovy

      This is so funny. Mad magazine was very big in my youth. All the kids loved it. But for some reason, I wasn’t into it. I think I only bought one issue. It was the Poopside Down Adventure issue and it was about the Poseidon Adventure. Another magazine that my peers in college loved was National Lampoon. And, again, for some reason I could take or leave that magazine. I do remember one issue, though. The cover had the title, Lying, Loving, and Leaving, and it had a picture of a Leo Buscaglia look-alike hugging a naked blonde co-ed. It was a spoof on Leo’s book, Living, Loving, and Learning. Thanks for stopping by, Emily. And thank you for your quip about inquiring minds and drinking games. Very funny.

  15. I don’t know what initially sparked my love of reading but I read a LOT when I was a kid. Everything from Hardy Boys and choose your own adventure books to those Disney hardback books that have shorter versions of a lot of their stories. I get that “if you’re a reader you’re never alone” comment from your co-worker. I lost a friend when I was in 6th grade and took it pretty hard. That was when I started reading even more. it was easy to get lost in a place that someone else created and i could go visit and hang out as long as I wanted to.

    My pivotal book was The Dharma Bums by Kerouac that I read late in highschool. It showed me there was an alternative to life that wasn’t the usual go with the flow, bow down to the man, sort of life path. Ironic I ended up working for an oil company, but it was a long circuitous path to get here. 🙂 Funny how life and perspectives change over time.

    • Mr. Groovy

      “It was easy to get lost in a place that someone else created and I could go visit and hang out as long as I wanted to.”

      Thank you for confirming my co-worker’s observation. Reading is a great companion and a great escape. And thank you for bringing up Kerouac. Oddly enough, I’ve never read any of his books. Perhaps it’s time to fix that oversight.

      • That’s a good one of his to start with. I liked it a lot better than On the Road. I just never got hooked by On the Road the way some other people have. Good luck though, his style can be a bit challenging for some people. 🙂

        • Mr. Groovy

          Thank you, Mr. SSC. I’ve heard of On the Road, of course. Wasn’t familiar with The Dharma Bums. I’ll check out the latter.

  16. Haha, my older brother, who’s 19 years older than me, used to have a very extensive playboy collection. He proudly displayed it as well! Aside from looking at the air-brushed models, he said he did really like reading the interviews.

    I thought it was bogus until I went to college and my college professor told me they had playboy magazines in the UT Campus library (images removed of course) because Playboy was prized for it’s interviews.

    • Mr. Groovy

      LOL! How did UT remove the images? Were they physically cut out? I will give Playboy its due, though. They really did manage to interview interesting people, especially in the 60s and 70s. Thanks for stopping by, Colin. It’s always great hearing from a proud Longhorn.

  17. Love that Playboy helped you get closer to Financial Independence! Just started the Amazon show about it’s so good, would highly recommend it. Amazing story to see Hugh from the 40’s to present day, was involved in a lot!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Thanks, Michael. I appreciate it. I’ll have to check out the Hefner story. He is an American classic. And believe it not, he had a couple of shows on broadcast TV. I vaguely remember Playboy After Dark. It ran two years (1969 to 1970) on CBS. His earlier show, Playboy’s Penthouse, ran from 1959 to 1961. That was too early for my recollection.