Sunk Costs: The Charlie Brown E-Bike Blues

A True Story

My brothers and sister used to call me Charlie Brown because of my epic bad luck. Well before the horrible accident which I touched upon briefly in Unintentional Meander Up Grumpus Ave Part 1, the family knew the only law which applied to me was Murphy’s. Mostly this played out in harmless ways, such as all my toys breaking. If there was one kid in the family whose Christmas toy broke on Christmas Day, it was me. Birthdays too. The phenomenon didn’t stop at the end of adolescence either. In fact, Mrs. Grumpus often mutters that if she’d only known about this “Charlie Brown thing” prior to our marriage, she would’ve re-examined her options.

sunk costs
What can I say Mrs. Grumpus? When you pay Peanuts, you get Charlie.

All joking aside, the “Charlie Brown thing” really cheeses Mrs. Grumpus off because it makes my purchase decisions more complex than they need to be. It also turned me into a cheapskate. In my mind, what’s the use of buying something nice if it’s just going to break? On the plus side, I’m not materialistic. Since material items break easily in my world, I don’t get attached to stuff.

Continue reading Sunk Costs: The Charlie Brown E-Bike Blues

Thankfulness and Bounty

The Meaning of a Grumpus Thanksgiving

I am sitting at home on Thanksgiving 2017 with a turkey breast on the smoker and some time on my hands to reflect. I find the Grumpus Minimi (pronounced min-EE-my) thankfully entranced with Charlie Brown specials, and Mrs. Grumpus busy making the pumpkin pie. Yes, for this five minutes my life feels like a Norman Rockwell painting (ignoring the Hawaii climate). I have much to be thankful for with respect to my life, this year more than any other. I hope as you’re reading this you feel the same way. If so then I believe our thoughts are aligned with the original intent of this holiday.

Thankfulness and bounty
We’ve moved on to Paw Patrol apparently.

I’ve always loved Thanksgiving. A day set aside by one of the richest nations to ever exist in human history in order for its citizens to reflect with friends and family on the bounty that life found fit to bestow upon them, always appealed to me. Declared a national holiday in 1863 at the height of the U.S. Civil War, I would also suggest that part of the original intent included a belief by then President Lincoln that we should be thankful despite the hardships life has set in our path. As any student of U.S. history can tell you, my nation has thankfully never again seen such hardship as the Civil War. Continue reading Thankfulness and Bounty

Post-Retirement Planning (Part 1): Teamwork

A Team Grumpus Victory Lap

This past week was a big one in the short history of the Grumpus Maximus blog. My first guest post on a much bigger website drove a record amount of traffic to mine. The guest post was a result of collaboration between myself and Darrow Kirkpatrick of I am happy to consider Darrow one of my two main mentors in this blogging adventure. My introduction to Darrow was facilitated by my other mentor, Doug “Nords” Nordman, who founded the Military Guide blog. Darrow and Nords are both great guys, not only generous with their time but knowledge as well. Together they make up my team in the blogging sphere. Whether or not they know it, their willingness to help me succeed translates into a special kind of teamwork for which I am immeasurably grateful.

Da Komrades, we built this victory monument to commemorate your week.

I blogged recently that when I retire from the military, what I will miss most is working with the great men and women I’ve had the honor of serving with and leading. For some reason, I’m the type of person who draws great satisfaction from working successfully together as a team to accomplish goals. The military life, despite its many drawbacks, definitely offers plenty of opportunities for teamwork. While not the only career that offers this opportunity, if teamwork is one of your main motivations in life, I could think of no better occupation to enter.

The Post-Retirement Teamwork Challenge

It remains to be seen if I can successfully translate the satisfaction I derive from teamwork opportunities in my full-time career to retired life. For someone like me who needs the sense of accomplishment which comes with teamwork, it begs the question as to what outlet I will turn to when retired. Certainly, blogging might provide more and bigger opportunities to collaborate, and I look forward to the possibility. Yet, as I stated elsewhere on this blog, I started blogging as a means of therapy and to help a friend plot a path through a Golden Albatross moment towards Financial Independence (FI). I’m not ready to give those reasons up and place all my hope for fulfillment in retirement on blogging. Continue reading Post-Retirement Planning (Part 1): Teamwork

The Pension Series (Part 8): Deciding to Take a Pension Lump Sum

We Interrupt Your Previously Scheduled Program …

Great news! You don’t have to read me waffling on about analyzing your pension lump sum offer this week at I published Part 8 of the Pension Series as a guest post for Darrow Kirkpatrick’s blog,, so you can read my waffling there instead.  Check it out at the following link.

Darrow’s site is a long time favorite of mine.  It is the one sight, more than any other, that inspired me to make the calculations and determine if early retirement was possible for myself and my family. Avid readers of my blog may already be familiar with his work as I reference it quit a bit. Luckily a mutual friend put Darrow and I in touch, and I now get to consider him a mentor and a friend.  Many thanks to Darrow for providing me the opportunity to write for his site, and gain exposure for the Golden Albatross message and  Darrow does not allow comments on his website, but feel free to post them to this article and let me know what you think.


— GM


Service, Thanks, and Remuneration

A Veteran’s Day Message From Your Sponsor …

For those veterans in the audience, Happy Veteran’s Day 2017. Veteran’s Day in the U.S. is celebrated on 11 November, which in many other parts of the world is celebrated as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day. While originally designed to commemorate the sacrifice of those who served in, and the devastation caused by, World War I; there are nuanced differences in how the holiday is marked presently. The most obvious difference in the U.S. is that Veteran’s Day is not designed to celebrate those who died (that’s what we call Memorial Day), but those who currently serve and formerly served in the military. It’s meant to provide the nation an opportunity to pause, be thankful for, and engage with its veterans.

Thanks service remuneration
The Census Bureau’s latest info graphic for Veteran statistics.

Given that less than 1% of the U.S. population currently serves in the military, and as little as 9% have previously served; a holiday like Veteran’s Day provides a rare but important mechanism for renewing the Nation’s commitment to both its current and former military members. Conversely, it also provides those in the U.S. military the opportunity to connect with and renew their commitment to the populace it protects and the democratically elected civilian-run system which guides it. It’s most appropriate to thank a veteran for their service on Veteran’s Day.

Controversially, perhaps, I believe it’s less appropriate to thank current serving members for their service outside of Veteran’s Day. Not that I believe it’s wrong to thank service members on all occasions outside of Veteran’s Day. There might be plenty of good reasons from the ultra-personal to the ultra-obvious for a person to do so. But, I believe as a U.S. citizen you shouldn’t feel pressured into thanking service members simply because you think it’s the required thing to do, or because you believe we require it from you. You shouldn’t and we don’t. It’s neither healthy for a democracy’s citizens to feel pressured into supporting its military blindly, nor is it healthy for a democracy’s military to believe your thanks is some sort of right to be demanded from its citizenry.

“Thanks” should be genuine and not built off some misinformed interpretation of what it means to be patriotic, or a mistaken belief that your military requires it from its citizens. Furthermore, while your thanks is appreciated, your obligation as a voting citizen runs deeper than simply thanking service members. We are, after all, a military 16 years into the Nation’s longest conflict. We are overseen and run by civilians appointed by the President and the Congress. Your tax money pays our salaries. Your elected officials decide if and when we go to war. The constitution we swear to uphold and defend provides all us the liberties we enjoy and love. Thus, we are your military. As a result, I believe it’s important that taxpayers and voters engage at a more intimate level with the military than what a simple “thank you” conveys.

In that vein, I pulled the following story out of the Grumpus Maximus historic annals to provide you just that opportunity to engage more intimately with one military member. Given that this is a personal finance blog, I kept it related to my experience with the interplay between remuneration, service, and the issue of “thanks”. You might think the three have nothing in common, but my experience will hopefully change your mind. Continue reading Service, Thanks, and Remuneration