Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as 20 IRA mistakes to avoid, the Crypto insanity in El Salvador, Gorbachev’s legacy, how I am going to achieve Hyatt Globalist elite status again, what to do to prepare financially before the next storm hits, why you should avoid getting financial advice from a bank, what a $2 million retirement looks like, coolest streets in the world, top 25 islands to visit, Bill Browder amazingly has escaped being flown out some window by Putin’s goons, more boosters, amazing photography and Soviet architecture, they sure like to drink a lot at the Vatican and the most important coverage of the crazy frequent flyer miles and points world.
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This blog publishes every Friday these days…
Best of Web articles are truly exceptional and MUST reads in their entirety, imho.
Welcome to all new blog readers from George, your diligent curator of the BEST web content I find and share with you. No ads, no clickbait, just amazing content I discover along with my sometimes witty and seldom incendiary commentary.
With so many extreme weather related events occurring in alarming quantity lately, this is very relevant: Preparing Financially, Before the Storm Hits. The article features some websites, one is Risk Factor where you can enter the address of your home and get back results showing the future vulnerability to heat/flood/fire. So, I guess it is going to be warmer in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the next 30 years, as in number of days with temperature over 100 F degrees is going to go from 7 to 15. I am good with that…Most importantly, the risk factors for floods and fire are minimal. And with plenty of water in our Great Lakes, you know, maybe Michigan is a great location to be in for the long term? The article also goes over insurance matters, shows you how to do a home inventory and how to safeguard key documents. Archived Link.
I posted this article again back in March, now with some updated tax numbers: 20 IRA Mistakes to Avoid. If you have an IRA maybe you should read it.
Heads up on all of you working with an advisor at your local bank, ok? Some advisors are proud to be fiduciaries…since Day One, like yours truly.
When I read this Wall Street Journal article: Here’s What a $2 Million Retirement Looks Like in America I just could not help but shake my head…Why are these people still carrying so much debt? And they are all spending way over 4%. Of course, their situations are different, we are all different! Staying healthy is the most important part. Having enough money gives you more options, no guarantees that it will make you happy in retirement. Or ever! Retire to something, find it! Archived Link.
The answer will soon be…yes? Will This Be the First Country Bankrupted by Crypto? Governance matters!
To date, Bukele claims to have purchased 2,400 bitcoin tokens at more than $100 million. Due to market fluctuations, the government’s bitcoin holdings have lost 60 percent of their value. The issuance of the bitcoin-backed volcano bonds are intended to save the country from defaulting but have reportedly been delayed likely due to a lack of investors. Meanwhile, El Salvador’s national debt is $23 billion, $800 million of which needs to start being paid to the IMF by 2023.
Bubbly bubbles bursting all around, I guess they were not in it for the art lol: Looks bare: OpenSea turns into NFT ghost-town after daily volume plunges 99% from peak. Do you hear that sucking sound, do you hear it?
Well, the Department of Transportation now has a “Dashboard” showing what airlines will compensate us for cancelling/delaying our flights. I see a “commitment” to fly us on a different airline if they cancel our flights…I guess we will see about that how it develops: How to find out exactly what you’re owed when your flight is canceled, delayed.
Found a cool Twitter account to follow: Visual of Earth.
Cool link: The 33 coolest streets in the world.
Interesting list, good to see several Greek islands on it: The Top 25 Islands to Visit in 2022.
We featured this in an earlier TBB blog post and it is now finally done! It Was a Mystery in the Desert for 50 Years. In a remote Nevada valley, the artist Michael Heizer’s astonishing megasculpture is finally revealed. You need to check this out, wow! Archived Link.
UKRAINE RUSSIA WAR
You have probably heard of Bill Browder by now. I thought the guy was a little out there but I must admit I was wrong, he has been warning us about Putin for a very long time, ever since Putin killed his Russian lawyer many years ago. Anyway, this is a fantastic podcast! Bloomberg Radio host Barry Ritholtz speaks with Bill Browder, who is head of the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign and author of the recently released “Freezing Order: A True Story of Money Laundering, Murder and Surviving Vladimir Putin’s Wrath.” The founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, which was the investment adviser to the largest foreign investment fund in Russia until 2005, Browder is also the author of “Red Notice: A True Story of High Finance, Murder and One Man’s Fight for Justice.”
Best of Web: Gorbachev died. I think Anne Applebaum nailed it with this: Gorbachev Never Realized What He Set in Motion. Here is the Archived Link, enjoy. You bet the Chinese leaders are all about “Do NOT be this guy!”!
Another guy who did not agree with Putin…mysteriously fell out of a window, coincidence? Lukoil chairman Ravil Maganov is the 8th Russian energy executive to die suddenly this year.
There are some people who still have not managed to catch Covid. And then there is this Italian guy who had Covid, monkeypox AND HIV at the same time!
What time is it? It is Pfizer or Moderna time, shoot me! A Simple Rule for Planning Your Fall Booster Shot. Actually, nothing is simple with this pandemic! But with trips to Huntington Beach, CA and Berlin this month…I am going for shot #5 as soon as I can. It can’t hurt…I think! Archived Link. Everyone will probably gain something from the updated vaccines.
There is one significant reason to avoid waiting too long for the bivalent shot: It offers the greatest protection against infection from the subvariants it’s actually designed around. BA.4 and BA.5 might be with us through the fall and winter—or they might give way to a different branch of Omicron, or even a variant that’s entirely unlike Omicron. You’d certainly be better off against this new variant with a bivalent booster than no booster at all. But if you want to maximize your anti-infection shield while you have it, consider putting it up against the enemy you know.
ODDZ & ENDZ
Amazing! Gallery of Physical Visualizations and Related Artifacts.
Amazing photography: Spectacular Winning Images of Best of The iPhone Photography Awards 2022.
Cool Twitter thread: Guide to Soviet Architecture.
They like to drink a lot at the Vatican!
MILES & POINTS
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This section is about my
hobby addiction of collecting frequent flyer miles and hotel points since the early 1990’s! Skip it if you are not into it!
As of today, I have burned 725,851 miles/points year to date and have 4,877,295 miles/points in the bank. Some do drugs, I do miles lol!
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 charge 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.
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!
If you wanted nothing to do with these miles and points churning related shenanigans and just wanted a no annual fee 2% cash back card, you can not go wrong with the Citi Double Cash Mastercard. And right now it has the highest Signup Bonus ever. Ok, it is only $200 but still it is the highest ever lol. It comes in the form of 20,000 ThankYou Points which you can cash out for $200 if you decide not to transfer them to any of the ThankYou airline and hotel transfer partners. Available here under CardIssuer/Citi.
Citi Double Cash now featuring $200 welcome bonus
Here is a guide with some good travel basics:
NEW: A Lot Has Changed in Travel: Here are 8 Ways to Get Ahead
TOP TRAVEL REWARDS SIGNUP BONUS CARDS
Master Guide to Credit Card Applications: All the Rules You Need to Know, Bank by Bank
Citibank increased the Signup Bonus for the Citi Premier card from 60,000 to 80,000 Thank You points. Annual fee is $95 and the minimum spend to score the Signup Bonus is $4k in the first three months. The Citi Premier card has a solid earning structure as it earns 3 points per dollar on gas/groceries/dining/travel and 1 point on everything else. Of course, you can transfer your points to mostly foreign airlines and JetBlue. Or you can cash out at one cent per point. Therefore, 80,000 points means $800 less $95 annual fee——-> BOOM, here is $705 in your pocket, you need this $$$ to pay for gas! Read the newbies paragraph above and always think…taking advantage of bank marketing budgets! Available HERE, thank you!
Citi Premier’s Incredible Sign-Up Bonus Is Worth 80,000 Miles Or $800 In Cash
Citi Premier Card Complete Guide
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 are 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 elite status. Cell phone protection and PRIMARY rental car coverage. Awesome seats at baseball stadiums for just 5k points. And lots more. Available with my Credit Card Links, thank you for your support!
Alaska Airlines miles can be very valuable. Right now, the Signup Bonus offer for the Bank of America Alaska Airlines Visa Business card is 70,000 Alaska Airlines miles. The minimum annual spend to earn the 70k miles is $4k in the first three months. The annual fee comes to $75 and it is not waived in the first year. The card comes with a Companion Fare starting at $121 which could be extremely valuable in selected itineraries. No foreign transaction fees. The card earns 3x per dollar on Alaska Airlines purchases and 1x on everything else. Free bags for up to six people in the same reservation. Available HERE, thank you!
If you are looking to stay in Hilton hotels for free…you can not go wrong with these two Limited-Time Welcome Offers Available for Select Hilton Honors Cards. The Hilton Honors No Annual Fee card gives you 100,000 Hilton Honors points AND a statement credit for $100 after spending only $1,000 in the first three months. THINK about it, stay in Hilton hotels for free, be a taker lol. And the Hilton Honors Surpass card gives you 130,000 Hilton points after spending $2,000 in the first three months. The annual fee is $95 but it is WAIVED in the first year. I wish I could get these cards again…Available HERE.
Remember, you are NOT allowed to ever carry a credit card balance if you ever get a credit card here!
Good resource for that time you may want to do this: How To Combine Points With The Major Hotel Programs & Maximize Your Redemptions.
If you get into them premium cards, here are all the goodies for Authorized Users. Gift lounge access, elite status, and more. Top cards offering great authorized user perks. I hope the Capital One Venture X current goodie bag lasts…
Nothing spectacular…as in average size bonuses that this time only last for a month. But so great to see competition among US banks! American Express Offering 12 Transfer Bonuses Up To 30%.
Register for the new Best Western promotion: Earn 5,000 BWR Bonus Points.
I got the new World of Hyatt Business Card (see below). After shuffling some credit lines around. I will be canceling my Chase Ink Business Unlimited after transferring its Ultimate Rewards points and credit line to my Chase Ink Business Cash card. I am waiting for daughter’s Chase Freedom Unlimited card to arrive which will become the go to card to use for unbonused spend to earn 3% in the next coming year. So, two new cards added and one deleted. Trying to keep this “normal” lol.
ADVANCED TRAVEL HACKING
I deleted ITA Matrix, end of an era for this old travel hacker I guess. I am using Google Flights exclusively now…
Operation Retain World of Hyatt Globalist Elite Status: It’s on! I went for the new World of Hyatt Business card offer that will net me 60,000 points after spending $5,000. When I go up to $10,000 spend this will net me another 5 elite night credits. I already have 19 night credits to date, so we are up to 24 then. So, with this new card every night stayed at a Hyatt counts double until 12/31/22. So, I went online and booked me five nights at the Hyatt Place Detroit/Livonia (a Category 1 hotel, normally at 5,000 points per night) at the off-peak rate of 3,500 points per night, for a total of 17,000 World of Hyatt points. For some weird reason, I had to do it in two separate reservations. I will drop off my bag and stop by for breakfast one morning lol. So, these 5 nights will count as 10, so we are now up to 34 night credits. If you are keeping track, all these three Hyatt stays are award stays. I already have booked me four nights later this month at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort & Spa for my first professional conference AC (After Covid) and then six nights with a confirmed suite upgrade at the Grand Hyatt in Berlin for the marathon, so these 10 nights will count as 20 so I am now up to 54 nights. I need to hit 60 nights to retain my Globalist elite status and I know I can do another
six three nights easily, especially when I go back to Greece. Or I could do a second $10k spend on my new World of Hyatt Business credit card for another 5 night credits that will take me to 59. Maybe I can hit 70 this year…Along the way to reach the top (please laugh)…I am going to collect a few goodies or, more precisely, the official name is World of Hyatt Milestone Rewards, as in one Category 1-4 Free Night, one Category 1-7 Free Night, 4 Confirmed Suite Upgrade Awards, 2 (useless) Club Lounge Access Awards that I will attempt to turn to some Hyatt points, one $100 Hyatt Gift Card or 5,000 points and of course retain my Hyatt Concierge who has been really great, especially with the complex Berlin reservation mixing in several Free Night cert awards and straight points reservations and dealing with several changes to it . Muy bien imho.
Note: I do not have an affiliate link for this new World of Hyatt Business card. Hopefully it will come but do not count on it. I also do not have a referral link that comes WITH the Double Elite Night credit feature which I think it is a MUST. The personal World of Hyatt credit card is a better card imho as it comes with one free night cert at each card anniversary AND another free night after $15k spend. The personal card also comes with 60,000 Signup Bonus World of Hyatt points but the SUB is now earned differently, as in 30,000 after spending $3k in the first three months and then in the form of another 30,000 points that come only as you spend another $15k in the first six months…so be aware about that. Hopefully it reverts back to a straight 60,000 SUB soon. After all these caveats, look for better links for the Business card and only go for the Personal card after taking the above into account either HERE or my REFERRAL link, thank you!
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.
Running is going much better…I am starting to believe I can line up and finish the Berlin Marathon #developing. Amazing what a good physical therapist can do!
Wife is back from Malaysia and Singapore. She had wonderful uneventful flights with Singapore Airlines (with miles of course). Nothing crazy happened, no delays, no cancellations, really good service. If only US airlines can do the same in this summer of shame! But her mother is not doing well…and my mother now says she wants to visit us in the US #developing
Had to call the plumber the other day…and I thought about quitting blogging for plumbing lol.
In this crazy inflationary world…the US job market just continues being amazing!
And just like that…I have quit Starbucks. Just lost that feeling…as I am trying to drink less coffee.
Greece has high hopes for its national basketball team with Giannis and bros leading it in EuroBasket2022: Antetokounmpo quartet: Greek Freak bolsters EuroBasket squad alongside brothers.
Let me leave you with this…
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Nick @ PFD says
I read Bill Browder’s “Red Notice” earlier this year. It’s pretty good–that dude went through a lot, though not as much as his poor lawyer, after whom the Magnitsky Act is named. Worth reading if you’re into that sort of thing.
I’m guessing communion wine is included in the Vatican total?
Great you are thinking of running again!
It was shocking that the folks overed in the WSJ still had mortgages. I suppose the idea is that you can earn enough investing to pay the interest net of tax benefits. Ok then!
Carl Pietrantonio says
Bronze! For the Pacific Northwest! Great stuff here and I liked that article about the retirees. Yeah, some unwise spending decisions there, but then again, I still have a mortgage (only debt). It’s at 2.5%, though and SSI covers it plus. Other streams of income keep me happy as I am not a big spender except comics and travel!
SO glad your foot is getting better and I hope you manage the Berlin Marathon quite well! Having your mom visit/stay close might be a good thing too. Caring for my mom and dad, then just dad, from long distance was tough.
More good stuff to read and for which, Thanks!
Excellent collection of articles today. Keep up the great work!
Thanks for the article links. Glad to hear you are back running!
Sadly, I’ve only been to 6 of those 25 islands. A few of them are definitely on my shortlist, like Galapagos. I had read that WSJ article previously and wondered about how far over 4% they seem to be spending. But I think they didn’t explain it very fully, and with SocSec maybe the retirees aren’t so far over. I’m definitely in the “no rush to pay off the mortgage” camp as my rate locked in for the next 13 years is well below what I can easily get with even CDs now.
The riskfactor site also has my midwestern site as pretty minimal/moderate. Let’s hear it for the Great Lakes. (Even though I know a lot of the rest of the world is suffering, honestly, I think this has been the most pleasant August weather I can remember my whole life. AC off for most of August, enough rain that even watering flowers/garden has been minimal.)
@ Nick: I always thought that Browder was a hot head with a vendetta against Putin and just keeping it going because he was benefiting from it…I was so wrong! I did not think about the Communion wine…could apply here…maybe 🙂
@ DML: Thanks…I don’t give up easily! In my career, I have NEVER had a client who paid off the mortgage early say “I wish I didn’t”.
@ Carl: I am taking it day by day now…no more arrogant predictions, just glad to be running again. This new Physical Therapist is excellent, worth the money I am spending on her! Just when we were about to be freeeee (after 2 more years of college for daughter)…the parents come back in a big way…Maybe that’s life?
@ Avi: Thank you. Sometimes I wonder why I am still at it…and comments like yours help this blog keep going.
@flyernick: When so many get storms, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes and fires…I think the Midwest will rise! As in stop the bleeding from people living for “better” climates. Besides, the winters have been getting warmer too! Yeah, this summer was wonderful indeed. Also, notices much less mosquitoes who always liked my blood. On a second read of that WSJ article, I think you are right, they are mostly doing fine.
Stopped this morning at the Hyatt Place Detroit/Livonia for breakfast 🙂
Daughter’s Chase Freedom Unlimited card is here. Daughter asked when she gets it and I told her…your dad needs to go to work to earn the SUB (1.5% on top of regular earning for first $20k in first 12 months).
Last summer weekend, enjoy it!
I can’t access the paywall articles with Firefox, maybe because that’s my normal browser. I just follow your archive links and it works fine. No biggie but figured I’d mention for a data point.
You don’t use ITA Matrix to look into fuel surcharges? Does Google Flights offer that option?
Good to know, I need to edit that Firefox reference out…been thinking about it, thanks for the reminder!
I am long past the days I was into fuel surcharges 🙂 Not sure GF offers that option, I have not looked for it and I have not read that it does.
Fiona Gerard says
As for seeing the big picture and understanding the world today try reading a couple of insightful spy or mystery novels including Bill Browder’s Red Notice and Bill Fairclough’s Beyond Enkription. If you are clever enough (which we have no reason to doubt!) you will start dissecting and solving problems in ways you never dreamt of before.
Mystery novels cover all sorts of evils including thrillers from the espionage genre such as those down to earth, raw and noir, often curious fact based Cold War thrillers you can never put down. I refer to Bill Browder’s Red Notice, Bill Fairclough’s Beyond Enkription in The Burlington Files series and Ben Macintyre’s The Spy and the Traitor. The latter was lauded by none other than John le Carré as “the best true spy story I have ever read”.
Incidentally, if you don’t find these mysterious then MI6 or the CIA may want to hire you to solve some of their mysteries. After all, the most famous of all real spies, Oleg Gordievsky who is held responsible for collapsing the Berlin Wall, was not only Macintyre’s “Spy and Traitor” but also an acquaintance of Fairclough’s handler. Maybe that’s why Beyond Enkription is considered to be compulsory reading for espionage aficionados.
Fascinating book recommendations. I added them to my “To read” list…The only thing is the list is getting longer and longer! 🙂
Nick @ PFD says
Why Europe is in for a world of pain and why Russia will win the war before the end of winter:
Bookmarked to read later…
As I said before it is a race…which side will outlast each other….meanwhile, it looks like the Ukrainians will deliver a whole lot of hurt in the Russian forces in Kherson area. We’ll see what happens…I expect Shoigu to accidentally fall out of a window soon 🙂
Next up for me…a 3 hour run, biggest challenge to see if I can finish the Berlin marathon in one piece and not dead last lol.
I agree with the pain Europe will feel from the energy crisis, but I don’t see any indication that Russia will end the war before snowfall.
BTW, I may go to a baseball game next time I visit South Korea. Very reasonable prices
Nick @ PFD says
Not before snowfall, before the end of winter. ie, March, give or take.
Not sure I follow the argument; the lack of natural gas from Russia will eventually change Europe’s support and push Ukraine to negotiate a peace agreement (conceding eastern Ukraine to Russia)?
That’s what I’m getting out of this but good point. Certainly, every country that borders Russia/Belarus is adamant about not giving in and the new British PM and the Germans seem likewise inclined. It’s gonna be a tough winter for Europe but capitulating to Putin would be too bitter a pill to swallow except in the most dire need IMO.
Going to be a hot winter you guys!
Nick @ PFD says
Yes, that’s my argument. It’s easy to support Ukraine when times are good but a lot more difficult when you’re cold and the economy is wrecked because factories can’t afford to operate.
Whenever you complain about having few readers/CC conversions, remember this:
“ Penguin Random House/S&S antitrust trial it was revealed that out of 58,000 trade titles published per year, half of those titles sell fewer than one dozen books. LESS THAN ONE DOZEN.”
And if you want to grow, there are opportunities
“ Substack 2021 gross revenue: $100m
Onlyfans 2021 gross revenue: $4.8bn”
So, you are saying I have a future going to Onlyfans? Thanks! 🙂
Nick @ PFD says
I bought the “Too Hot for TBB!” DVD a while back but honestly it was kind of a letdown.
Lol…one of these days I am going to find my niche online 🙂
Talking about alternative businesses, I started listening to a Financial Times podcast about the history of the internet p0rn industry. It goes back to the 80s and touches on copyright issues, FBI trying to stope the industry, legal issues, ownership, Bill Ackman, first online credit card payment, charging by the minute. Things we take for granted. A well told story. It’s called Hot Money.
I found it and bookmarked it. I have flights next week and lots of running ahead and getting really into listening to podcasts and this looks very interesting, thank you!
And thanks to the three readers who got a credit card with my links…three in the first week…feel the momentum to take over TPG next! ok, let’s all lol.
For your reading list https://www.linkedin.com/posts/mattschnuck_i-sold-my-company-to-bankrate-10-years-ago-activity-6973293596833718273-cVzC
Already in the draft mode for Friday….in Twitter thread mode.
Waiting for you to buy my 559 strong email list when you come across the pond to take over America 🙂
Email lists are the unsung heroes of this game. We email articles in full to our list, and email represents 1/3rd of our total views (11-12m pa vs 25m for the website). Strip out views to our website homepage and forum and email gets us half of our article views.
If you buy a 2nd website you can never properly integrate it into your existing site. Buy an email list and the integration is perfect. We may lose 5% or so but the bulk will keep on opening them and keep on clicking the article links which now go to us.