Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as two great College 529 Plans & HSA guides, we return to Russia politics, real estate in China, Michigan waterfalls to visit, we learn more of the SEC Chief now attacking crypto at last, Dave Ramsey going for more money, a sex cult gets busted, what happens in Russia after Putin, a dude addicted to impersonating cops, what happens at an airport Lost & Found, running slow, Taylor Swift is in Detroit please brace yourselves, a virgin birth will shock you, more Blonde Redhead music, new Marriott Bonvoy credit card signup bonuses, a comprehensive guide on how to access airline lounges and more, enjoy the weekend!
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If you are saving to pay for college one day, the best vehicle is a 529 College Savings Plan account these days. You may be surprised to know that I paid for my two kids’ college education (one more year to go with kid #2, hooray!) without having a 529 Plan. Am I a hypocrite? Nope, let me explain.
So, 20+ years ago these 529 Plans were new. And they were expensive and, most importantly, the investment choices just sucked! Especially in my own State of Michigan. So, I decided to use a combination of a Coverdell Education Savings Account and a joint regular taxable brokerage account. So, every year we put away $300 per month per kid, $3,600 per kid. Of that, $2,000 went into each Coverdell account and the rest into a regular brokerage account. Every year up until the year before each started college. Invested rather aggressively in low cost Vanguard ETFs, we just kept buying. Anyway, we easily covered four years of college, no loans needed. This required sacrifices. But education is important to us and we both had family pay for our own college education so I guess the least we can do is the same for our children.
Anyway, the Michigan 529 Plan has improved a lot since then and along with the Utah Plan are the best in the country so I totally agree with this Morningstar research article:
I often blog here about how awesome Health Savings Accounts can be. But, at the end of the day, most people are not eligible. And even if they are, if they have fairly high and consistent medical expenses, it is probably a good idea to stick with their low deductible more comprehensive health insurance policies. I remember the first year I signed up I had a pretty bad soccer injury that required spending a lot of money for physical therapy. Which required me to pay a LOT more than if I had stuck with the regular health insurance policy. Thankfully, after that our medical expenses have been very low and I have continued to contribute the maximum allowed and invest all of it without ever spending a dime out of the HSA ( we just pay out of pocket with a travel rewards credit card naturally). Here is an excellent thread on HSAs, enjoy.
Also, just like that, the S&P 500 is up 20% from its October 12 bear market low you guys…We have some ground to make up to surpass the bear market low in early January 2022. It will happen…one day. Focus on what you do best and what is important to you and let the markets do their thing.
The SEC finally came down on Binance and Coinbase: SEC’s Gary Gensler Had Crypto in His Sights for Years. Now He’s Suing Binance and Coinbase. There is going to be a battle in the courts. And it looks like Coinbase is relying on all the lobbying
donations bribes they have been showering our representatives in Congress and pushing them to legislate out of the hurt they are in. Maybe that was a good idea before FTX blew up, now not so sure. Or hang on until the 2024 election and hope it sends Gensler packing. What do I recommend? Well, I have been consistent that this crypto crap should be banned before more gullible victims get scammed!
Ok, I have a juicy one for you. I have seen a lot of ways fraudsters hurt people. But this one is a first! Allegedly, Cult-Like San Francisco Company Execs Charged for Allegedly Coercing Members Into Sex With Investors. Wait, do you know how? Orgasmic meditation, that’s how!
The founder and an executive of a cult-like San Francisco company that taught orgasmic meditation were charged Tuesday for allegedly running an enterprise that encouraged members to cut ties with outsiders, incur debts, exult the company’s founders and perform forced sexual acts with potential investors and others…Many of the group’s members lived in communal homes—one at 1080 Folsom St.—where they participated in courses and practiced experimental sexual acts. [Wonder if they took Visa? Lol]
I could comment on the article above for a long time…but let’s move on, shall we?
Shocked that a guru collected millions to endorse a company! I hope they sue him and win back every dime: Christian financial advisor Dave Ramsey sued for $150 million over timeshare-exit company endorsement. I don’t do this crap here. And I stick with what I know. Don’t get me started about this guy…
RUSSIA UKRAINE WAR
The horrific destruction unleashed on Ukraine from Russia is never ending. I do hope the Ukrainians rout the Russians out which will likely mean the end of Putin as Timothy Snyder writes here: Politics Returns To Russia. Required reading imho.
When you try to generate a system without politics, any politics at all feels like a challenge to the legitimacy of the state. The war in Ukraine has restarted Russian politics: not necessarily in ways that are pleasant to watch, but following a dynamic that will be difficult to stop. Ukrainian resistance has revealed the weaknesses of the Putinist attempt to make politics halt. The denial that Ukraine was a real country created a situation in which Ukraine is now all too real inside Russia itself. Foreign wars are only spectacle when the other side cannot resist. A Russian political order built on propaganda generated propagandists who can make their fights public on social media. And a dictatorship built on managing rivalries begins to look fragile when the rivals are loud and armed.
But we may not like What Comes After Putin’s Rule in Russia. The West Should Beware.
The grim machine that Putin has created will outlast him. It is bigger than him. To be successful, an assassination, coup, or revolution in Russia, would need to sweep away not just Putin, but also the siloviki. The FSB will not disappear without a fight and it is more likely that, as in 1991, the FSB would metastasize, but remain.
Meanwhile, it appears the Ukrainian counteroffensive finally started. Expect the unexpected to keep the Russians guessing and confused.
Please help them! How to help Ukrainians during the flood.
ODDZ & ENDZ
In case you didn’t know, real estate in China is big, really big! Real estate is China’s economic Achilles heel. It’s the country’s biggest engine of growth an employment, financial asset, and source of government revenue.
Some people just do things differently. And this dude just can not stop impersonating a cop. Kid Cop Returns (Again and Again) As a teenager, Vincent Richardson became a Chicago legend after successfully impersonating a police officer. He got caught — so why did he do it over and over? Well, when you’re really good at something…Strange and sad story, the guy appears to be pretty intelligent but…
I really enjoyed this story about what happens actually at the Lost and Found of an Airport. Las Vegas in this case. Lose $27,000 in Las Vegas? Check the Airport Lost and Found. I had no idea, these guys deserve some respect imho.
The airport claims a return rate of 40% to 50% of found items. [Much higher than I imagined!]
…he can’t believe he hasn’t heard from a member of a rap group who lost a bag with cash and watches inside. The office sent an email about the found item but never received a response. If an item has an address, the office sends a postcard.
Another one for Michigan! 15 Magnificent Waterfalls in Michigan (That You MUST Visit!). Full Disclosure: I have been to most of these and I must admit that the pictures are very well done!
A section where I go on and on about some stuff that happens in my life and anything else that just does not fit in another section above.
The Denver Nuggets decided to play defense in the second half of Game 3 in Miami and responded with a win to go up 2-1. We’ll see how Miami responds in Game 4. And this Jokic dude is amazing managing a 30/20/10 (over 30 points, 20 rebounds and 10 assists) for the first time ever in the NBA Finals!
Respect to this guy who actually made slow running a career! One Man’s Mission to Make Running Everyone’s Sport.
Mr. Evans is the founder of Slow AF Run Club, a virtual community for back-of-the-packers with more than 10,000 members worldwide. At 300 pounds, he is a beloved figure among runners who have felt left out of the sport. He’s graced the cover of Runner’s World, posed nude for Men’s Health and appeared in an Adidas ad. His Instagram account, @300poundsandrunning, has around 62,000 followers. And this month, he’s releasing his first book, “Slow AF Run Club: The Ultimate Guide for Anyone Who Wants to Run.”
Taylor Swift is in Detroit this weekend, I never understood the mania for her. Then again, I don’t understand many things…
More from my latest band addiction, Blonde Redhead, this is their new single from their new album coming out in September. Other songs from them I recommend are: Falling Man, 23, Dripping, In Particular, the Dress, Dr. Strangeluv, melody of certain three, publisher, etc. I need to see them live after watching this concert on Youtube! Their music just grows on you the more you listen to it, amazing!
This blog started with a focus on miles and points and travel. It has evolved since then. Everything below deals with the hobby of collecting frequent flyer miles and points. If you are not interested, you can stop here, thank you.
MILES & POINTS NEWS/PROMOS/MY ACTION
I think we are in this phase of the hobby where airplanes and hotels are very full and these companies just don’t need us as much anymore. Yeah, there are still travel rewards card offers out there but none that really stand out screaming “Grab me you fool!”. And with recent devaluations we all realize that the bang we used to get with the credit card signup bonuses is still there but…not as much bang as it used to be!
You know how I feel about the Marriott Bonvoy program, here you go: Increased Signup Bonus Offers On Marriott Credit Cards From Amex & Chase (Brilliant, Bevy, Boundless, Bold). It is interesting that there is another variation live now, getting an additional 50k Bonvoy points after six nights by 1/31/24. Good to see banks playing around with different Signup Bonus flavors I guess.
I finally placed alerts on Google Flights for tickets to London from Detroit next April for the 2024 London Marathon. Outbound is very reasonable. Inbound is almost $2k one way in economy, what the hell is going on? I bet you Delta prices it out at 869,500 Skymiles woohoo!
I did try to get that 200,000 Amex Platinum offer to work but I was not successful, oh well. I think at this point I am just going to try to get my balances under 4 million…if only I had time to burn them!
Don’t do stuff that will get a bank to shut you down. What’s Going on with Chase Shutdowns? Stay in the game, keep playing for the long term. If Chase ever shuts me down I am going to retire…gracefully.
Good reference if you are confused about all the different lounge access variations: Wondering What Are The Current Lounge Access Benefits For Primary And Secondary AMEX, Capital One, Chase, And Citi Cardholders? Here Is A Comparison Chart!
MILES & POINTS
HOT CREDIT CARD OFFERS: 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture X, 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture Rewards, 75k CHASE Ink Business Cash, 75k CHASE Ink Business Unlimited, 100k CHASE Ink Business Preferred, 60K CITI Premier, 40k CAPITAL ONE VentureOne Rewards, $1,000 Cash Back CHASE Ink Business Premier, 140K CHASE IHG Rewards Premier, 60k CHASE Sapphire, 60k US BANK Business Altitude, 60k and 30% off on three Personal CHASE Southwest cards and many more, including many AmericanExpress cards such as Delta Airlines, Marriott Bonvoy and Hilton Honors cards! Please check out my Affiliate links. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more. If you do not see a credit card with my affiliate links, perhaps I could refer you?
This section is about my
hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! SKIP if you are not into it!
As of today, I have burned 661,000 miles/points year to date in 2023 and have 4,276,729 miles/points in the bank. Some do drugs, I do miles lol!
Thanks to US banks, very lucrative travel rewards credit card offers come and go all the time. This section will act as a reference point on the best CURRENT offers. I will designate new material preceded by NEW.
BASICS: This travel hacking hobby is mostly about getting the fat Signup Bonus of travel rewards credit cards while of course NEVER EVER carrying a balance. Banks have a marketing budget and are willing to give us many THOUSANDS of miles/points to travel mostly for free hoping to hook us to then charge confiscatory 20%+ interest rates on our balances. The poor souls who fall for their marketing paying these ludicrous interest rates end up subsidizing us responsible consumers who enjoy taking advantage of, cough, such bank marketing budgets! Some of us have been doing this for thirty years creating amazing travel memories…Feel free to ask me questions or post them in the comments, we were all newbies once!
BASICS: Prefer credit cards from the proprietary points programs of banks, such as Chase Ultimate Rewards, American Express Membership Rewards, Citi ThankYou Network, Capital One Rewards Miles because they are a lot more flexible and are not devalued as frequently. Over pure airline and hotel travel rewards credit cards. Pure cash back credit cards may work for you best and they are getting more valuable as airline and hotel loyalty programs keep getting devalued. Sometimes, a pure no annual fee 2% cash back card works best for simplicity!
TOP TRAVEL REWARDS SIGNUP BONUS CARDS
The Capital One Venture X card offers a 75,000 point Signup Bonus after a minimum spend of $4k in the first three months. If you like simplicity and looking for one (premium) card, I highly recommend this card (and yes, I have it myself!). It has an annual fee of $395 but it comes with a VERY easy $300 statement credit for travel booked on its excellent travel portal, essentially turning it into a $95 annual fee card. But wait…there is more! On each card anniversary you earn 10,000 points essentially making it FREE! Every dollar of spend earns 2 points and flights booked on the travel portal earn 5 points per dollar. You get access to Capital One and Plaza Premium airport lounges and a Priority Pass Select lounge membership and, this is important, you can add FOUR authorized users FOR FREE who can also have their own Priority Pass Select airline lounge membership. You can transfer your Capital One points to up to 18 Transfer Partners. No foreign transaction fees. Free Hertz President’s Circle rental car top elite status. Cell phone protection and PRIMARY rental car coverage. Awesome seats at baseball stadiums for just 5k points each. And lots more. Available with my Credit Card Links, thank you for your support!
Other worthy credit card deals going on:
Remember, you are NOT allowed to ever carry a credit card balance if you ever get a credit card here!
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Opinions expressed here are author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.