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My Money Blog

Personal Finance and Investing Blog

Last Build Date: Mon, 22 May 2017 02:35:12 +0000


Real-World Example of Sequence of Returns Risk

Mon, 22 May 2017 02:35:12 +0000

The standard investment advice is the older you get, the more bonds you should hold in your portfolio. There are various rules of thumb like “Age in Bonds” or “Age minus 20 in Bonds”, and so on. On the other hand, stocks have higher historical long-term returns, so shouldn’t we keep as much in stocks […]

Shoe Dog by Nike Founder Phil Knight: A Great Audiobook

Fri, 19 May 2017 06:38:49 +0000

As a kid in the late 1980s, I admit that I yearned for a pair of Nike Air shoes. I’d doodle shoes with that AIR logo and visible air pocket. I still remember the day I finally got a pair. They were an ugly blue-suede color from the bottom of some bargain bin, but they […]

Frugal Entrepreneur Earns $5,600 a Month Farming Other People’s Yards

Thu, 18 May 2017 05:51:48 +0000

Here’s a cool story at the intersection of entrepreneurship, frugal living, and sustainable farming. Jim Kovaleski is a one-man farm, growing produce and selling it at local farmers markets, earning over $5,000 a month. What’s unique is that he doesn’t have a central plot of land – he grows his plants on other people’s residential […]

Coffin Homes: Living in Tiny Spaces As a Last Resort

Thu, 18 May 2017 05:48:03 +0000

The Atlantic has a photojournalism article The ‘Coffin Homes’ of Hong Kong which startled me and challenged my idea of a “tiny” living spaces. The size reminded me of capsule hotels in Japan, except these are in much worse condition and are permanent residences. A sad and extreme example of high population density and lack […]

Costco Membership Discount: $10/$20 Coupon Code

Wed, 17 May 2017 05:13:05 +0000

As of June 1, 2017, Costco will be increasing its Gold/Business annual membership fees to $60 (formerly $55) and Executive annual membership to $120 (formerly $110). Executive membership comes with a 2% cash rebate on purchases (now up to $1,000) as well as some other side benefits. The breakeven point is now $3,000 annually x […]

OhmConnect: Get Paid For Saving Energy One Hour Per Week

Wed, 17 May 2017 05:11:48 +0000

OhmConnect is a start-up that works with consumers and their local utilities to lower energy costs and save money together. Before reading any further, it appears that cash payments currently only work with customers of PG&E, SDG&E or Southern California Edison in California. During times of high electricity demand, customers will get an email or […]

Ally Bank vs. Goldman Sachs Bank CD Interest Rate Comparison

Tue, 16 May 2017 06:45:27 +0000

After last week’s WSJ article about interest rates, I noticed that both Goldman Sachs Bank USA (GS Bank) and Ally Bank have both been hiking rates on their CDs. Competition is good and I like that they both still show the desire to stay at the top as rates start rising again. (GS Bank is […]

How Much Do Other Parents Help Pay For College Tuition?

Mon, 15 May 2017 06:32:32 +0000

As the school year ends, I am reminded that my children are another year closer to college. I still remember paying off my own $30,000 in student loan debt, and now I am worried about saving up for their tuition. While I still maintain that parents should secure their own retirement needs before worrying about […]

Best Interest Rates on Cash Savings – May 2017

Fri, 12 May 2017 00:24:45 +0000

The WSJ article Bank of America Pays Peanuts for Deposits, but the Money Keeps Flowing In (paywall) outlines how BofA gets away with paying less interest on its deposits than nearly any other US bank (not that the other mega-banks are that much better). BofA only pays an average of 0.08% on $796 billion of […]

Best Places to Find a Decent Used Car For Under $1,000

Thu, 11 May 2017 06:12:38 +0000

I suppose my pre-Uber generation might be the last one to equate having your own car with fun and freedom. In high school, I would comb through the “Under $2,000” section of the newspaper classified ads every day. How it looked didn’t matter as long as it meant I could go places without my parents. […]

If someone promises to pay you back, they probably won’t pay you back.

Wed, 10 May 2017 05:49:12 +0000

Back in the stone age of P2P lending (aka 2006), I used to read through Prosper loan listings one-by-one. Borrowers would outline their monthly budgets showing how they could afford their loan payments, along with explanations of why they needed the money (credit card debt, home improvement, etc.) and why they would pay you back […]

Buffett and Munger: S&P 500 vs. Berkshire Hathaway

Tue, 09 May 2017 06:55:55 +0000

Instead of watching the entire 6-hour Berkshire Hathaway (BRK) annual shareholder’s meeting, I first read through the WSJ highlights and then watched selected parts of the Yahoo Finance replay which interested me. One interesting topic was about Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger’s directions to their heirs. Buffett has famously directed his wife to put 90% […]

Best No Fee 0% Balance Transfer Credit Cards

Mon, 08 May 2017 06:18:24 +0000

Whether you need to save interest on your existing balances or you’d like an interest-free loan, many credit cards offer 0% APR balance transfers for an initial period of up to 21 months. I’ve looked at hundreds of cards online, scoured the “Terms & Conditions” fine print, and the listed ones below are the best […]

Berkshire Hathaway Annual Meeting: Live Video and Transcript Links

Fri, 05 May 2017 01:02:06 +0000

Although most of my portfolio is in a diversified mix of index funds, I also own individual shares of Berkshire Hathaway and collect advice from Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. I believe that understanding how to analyze individual businesses creates a better foundation for any self-directed investor. Saturday, May 6th is the 2017 Berkshire Hathaway […]

Vanguard ETF & Mutual Fund Expense Ratio Changes (April 2017)

Thu, 04 May 2017 06:43:58 +0000

Updated and revised. Here are the highlights from the April 2017 expense ratio update: Vanguard Total Stock Market (VTI) is now 0.04%. Vanguard 500 Index (VOO) is now 0.04%. Vanguard Total Bond Market (BND) is now 0.04%. In April 2016, it was 0.05%. In April 2015, it was 0.07%. Background. When you invest in a […]

Free eBook on Reducing Smartphone Data Usage

Wed, 03 May 2017 04:03:12 +0000

Ting Mobile has a free Cut Your Data eBook (PDF) about lowering your cellular data usage. The eBook is a nice collection of data cutting tips that ideally don’t reduce your actual enjoyment. Examples include: How to turn off background data usage. Disabling auto-play videos or auto-downloads in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snapchat. Data compression […]

My Portfolio Asset Allocation Thought Process

Tue, 02 May 2017 05:26:56 +0000

A reader asked me to expand on the thought process behind my asset allocation choices. I don’t have a highly scientific answer, but here’s how I would explain it to a friend over drinks. Prepare yourself for some rambling… I know that I could run simulations and backtest return data to figure out exactly which […]

The Growing Popularity of Index Funds and Higher Stock Valuations

Mon, 01 May 2017 04:35:31 +0000

I recently read (and re-read) a post at Philosophical Economics titled Diversification, Adaptation, and Stock Market Valuation, which serves both as an educational resource and an interesting argument for a new shift in stock investing. It’s rather lengthy and not written for novices, but it doesn’t require a finance or math degree either. I recommend […]

Blue Cash Preferred from American Express Review: 6% Cash Back on Groceries

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 23:44:18 +0000

Limited-time offer. If you apply by 5/3/17, you can earn 10% cash back on purchases at U.S. Restaurants in the first 6 months, up to $200 back. This is in addition to the $150 back after you spend $1,000 on all purchases within the first 3 months, for a total of $350 in sign-up incentives. […]

Back Again! Free Website Reveals Your Address History and Names of Relatives (Opt Out)

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 23:29:35 +0000

Update April 2017. It appears that the same people behind the website mentioned below have created another nearly-identical website. Even if you opted-out last time, all of your sensitive personal information is up again on this website. You must opt-out again by clicking on “Privacy” at the bottom and then the “record removal link” (alternatively, […]

Tough Job: 5% of Active Investment Managers Will Add Value

Thu, 27 Apr 2017 05:15:22 +0000

People always argue about how “efficient” the market truly is. Only academic, ivory-tower geeks believe in efficient markets right? My longstanding opinion is that no, markets are not 100% efficient, but it’s a tough, cutthroat world out there. Especially over the long run. Here’s yet another reminder to put in the anecdote folder. This WJS […]

Barron’s Best Stock Brokerage Rankings 2017

Wed, 26 Apr 2017 06:46:34 +0000

Barron’s has released their 2017 annual broker rankings. Two major themes this year are (1) trade commissions dropping overall and (2) improved mobile app trading. To analyze 2017’s top brokers, we took a hard look at the value they offer to clients, analyzing security, mobility, and social-media features as well as the depth of their […]

Fundrise eREIT Quarterly Liquidity Details and Redemption Process

Tue, 25 Apr 2017 05:39:51 +0000

I’ve been putting some side money into crowdfunded real-estate investments – see here and here – and I am now closing out my Fundrise eREIT investment. An important difference between most of these private real estate investments and publicly-listed REIT is liquidity. On most any given weekday, I can sell my public REIT (i.e. VNQ) […]

Buy, Hold, Rebalance a Globally-Diversified Portfolio 2017

Mon, 24 Apr 2017 03:00:57 +0000

When I think about it, I am impressed with how different 2017 feels compared to when I started seriously learning about investing in 2003. Instead of only reading about it in few books mostly read by finance nerds, nowadays nearly every robo-advisor out there uses a globally-diversified mix of low-cost ETFs to build their portfolios. […]

Callan Investment Returns Ranked by Asset Class 1997-2017

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 06:48:36 +0000

We’ve all been told that past performance is no guarantee of future returns, but it’s still hard to buy an investment that has been performing poorly. We need to remember the historical power of diversification and that even though something may look horrible now, good news may be just around the corner. Callan Associates updates […]