Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as what are the salaries you need to buy homes in 50 US cities, the mega Solana hack, the most unique Airbnbs in every US state, the Great Renegotiation, learn about behavioural advice and acting on it or not, the crypto true believers are out there, ponzis and hacks are always happening in the crypto world, more countries are opening up and more new flights are announced, the big Kherson battle is imminent in Ukraine, stop asking to negotiate with Putin and focus on forcing him to do so, how much land the US military owns in each US state, the crisis facing how we care for America’s elderly, Jupiter in all its glory, the most important things you need to know in the travel hacking hobby and enjoy this last month of summer!
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This blog will publish every Friday in the month of August 2022.
Best of Web articles are truly exceptional and MUST reads in their entirety, imho.
Best of Web: This Twitter thread with 15 amazing charts is a must click! 15 images every investor needs to memorize. And this is the best one:
Do you laugh or cry when your parents tell you how much they bought their houses? The Salary You Need to Buy a Home in 50 U.S. Cities.
Jonathan Clements, who used to write a personal finance column at the Wall Street Journal and now runs the blog Humble Dollar, writes about his journey, focusing on personal finance of course. We are all on a journey in this thing called life you know: Now and Then. Some important excerpts:
I shoveled the extra money I earned into stock index funds while also adding large sums to each monthly mortgage payment. Among colleagues and readers, I became known—or perhaps notorious—for favoring stock-heavy portfolios built using broad market index funds. [Same]
While I feel I did an okay job of investing, the key to success was ensuring that I had plenty to invest—a simple enough feat: Even as my income ballooned, I kept my living costs low. [ Of course this is key, you are likely not going to get to financial independence practicing extreme frugality and couponing!]
In a world where so many folks worry about how to cover day-to-day expenses, I’ve come to see not thinking about money as perhaps the greatest luxury that money can buy. [I think this IS financial independence!]
I love what I do each day—the sense that, with my writing and editing, I’m helping folks to lead better financial lives. But in the end, managing time is more important than managing money, because time is the ultimate limited resource. I should lead a more balanced life. I know that intellectually. But I’m still trying to convince myself. [Same!]
This was also pretty good from a colleague: Ignoring My Own Behavioural Advice. Which addresses a very common dilemma we face in how to invest a lump sum of money. At once? In drips, as in dollar cost averaging? Over how long and what increments? And, you know, it comes down to this:
The behavioural predicament I find myself in is one of regret aversion. What if I invest the cash and equities fall another 30%? I will feel awful. I ‘knew’ this was going to happen and I didn’t do anything about it! Regret or the prospect of it is a very powerful influence on decision making.
And, you know, it really comes down to most of us thinking it this way and paying a behavioural tax at the end of the day…
So, what are the options?
I could hold cash until I identify a more opportune time to invest. This is an unequivocally terrible idea, which will likely have dire consequences and provoke the opposite type of regret.
The alternative is to gradually invest the cash into its desired end state – pound or dollar cost averaging. This will smooth out my entry price and ensure I mitigate the risk of investing at a single, untimely moment. It is also a sub-optimal approach.*
If I have a long-time horizon and a lump sum, investing it immediately into equity markets is the rational choice. Equity markets rise more often than they fall, and, therefore, making phased purchases is likely to reduce returns.
The advantage of pound / dollar cost averaging is that it is a regret minimisation strategy. If markets rise during the period of investment at least I have started to invest the cash and, if they fall, I can be glad that I didn’t go all in. Despite its limitations it is also a significantly better option than trying to guess the right time to invest, which is a fool’s errand.
I know that I cannot predict or time financial markets, and I am aware of what the rational, optimal course of action is. Yet it feels like the wrong thing to do. If I were to take the averaging in option, I would be paying a financial cost simply to limit the feeling of regret. Wilfully opting to pay a behavioural tax.
Humans are just not designed to make sensible investment decisions.
Yes, the crypto true believers are still out there. There are fewer of them of course. Crypto Prices Crashed, but True Believers Are Holding On. And of course they are always being overwhelmed by the pure speculators and numerous scammers…Archived Link. A few selected excerpts from the article that I singled out:
Maria Saavedra, a 31-year-old software test engineer in California, said she views most cryptocurrencies as hyped-up assets with little legitimate value. But in March, after the crypto market had already endured a rough few months, she started buying the two biggest cryptocurrencies, bitcoin and Ethereum. She has invested about $8,000 total. Ms. Saavedra says the plunge in prices makes it a great time to buy on the cheap. [Well, if Maria says so lol. But wait, Maria has another recommendation below!]
Her other long-term investment strategy? Handbags. Ms. Saavedra recently paid $10,000 for a black Hermès Kelly bag and plans to cash out the investment when she nears retirement. Until then, the gold-plated bag sits in her closet, resting in its original cloth bag and stuffed to keep its shape. [Stab me now…]
Mr. Larsen attends a monthly crypto happy hour, where topics of conversation can range from the price of bitcoin to how to persuade your spouse to invest in it…“I guess I would say I came for the money,” Mr. Larsen said, “but stayed because of the philosophy.” [Mr. Larsen can afford to lose it all but do you?]
I love the monthly updates from The Ponzi Scheme Blog, here is the one from July 2022. Just check how many of them revolve around crypto! Going through these will help you see what scammers are taking advantage of lately and maybe you can help warn loved ones? Please be careful out there!
I remember sometime last year some prominent financial advisors out there saying how they love another crypto currency, Solana. Sadly, it has gone from almost $260 to around $40! I guess this one has major issues all of a sudden: Solana ecosystem hit by hack draining millions in crypto from 8,000 hot wallets.
I have been accused that I am biased against everything crypto. Maybe I am. But why do we keep hearing about shit like this and NOT about useful applications in this space huh? Hackers abuse ‘chaotic’ Nomad exploit to drain almost $200M in crypto. Feel free to let me know of positive developments in this space to help my bias “problem”.
Good to have but expect flights there will cost hundreds of thousands of lowly Delta Skymiles! Delta Adds Direct Flights to Cape Town, Tel Aviv and Tahiti.
And finally New Zealand Fully Reopens Borders to Tourists For the First Time in Two Years. Fully means that two Covid tests are still required after arriving…
Interesting: The Most Unique Airbnb in Every U.S. State.
This is great and too creepy: A Timelapse Video of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine.
UKRAINE RUSSIA WAR
Best of Web: The next phase of the war is coming, Glory to Ukraine! Battle to end the war: Ukraine’s chance to get edge over Russia.
This is very clear now…There Can Be No Concessions or Negotiations with Vladimir Putin.
What lies ahead is Putin’s defeat in Kherson, which will be symbolic on several levels. Located to the north of the occupied Crimean peninsula, it is the only regional capital that Russia had managed to seize since the invasion began. Losing it will be a significant blow – not only to Putin’s war aims, but also to his already rock-bottom military morale, and also to his propaganda narratives too. Those calling to freeze this conflict are either blind to the situation on the battlefield, too ignorant to realise that their appeasement calls would lead to millions of people being subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment, or they are indifferent to this. Ukraine will not give up. Ukraine will win. That is the only way that this ends. Then discussions will turn to how war criminals are held to account. [Sure hope so…before winter rolls in!]
Just so we do not forget, over the last 5 months Russia:
My county just put us back into “High Risk” rating. I am not sure many even bother anymore…
If I don’t get Covid over the next several days hanging out with family in Brooklyn, NY…there is something wrong with me?
Can we settle this once and for all now? The Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan was the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of course some prominent bloggers out there will skip this, how convenient!
ODDZ & ENDZ
Wow, I had no idea! How Much Land does the U.S. Military Control in Each State? Michigan is at 0%…but we have all kinds of militias here lol. Hawaii is #1 at 5.6% and Nevada with New Mexico follow at 5% each.
As an immigrant, I am in full support of more immigration, we need them, especially to take care of our elderly! The Crisis Facing Nursing Homes, Assisted Living and Home Care for America’s Elderly.
Since January 2020, 400,000 nursing home and assisted living staff have quit, citing pandemic exhaustion as well as the low pay and lack of advancement opportunities typical of the field. The job losses arrive when America already faces an elder caregiver shortage, as 10,000 people daily turn 65 and birth rates decline. The labor shortage gripping America’s workforce across industries is felt most acutely in home health care. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, home health and personal care aides are actually the fastest growing industry, projected to grow 33 percent in the next decade, much faster than all occupations. But there still simply aren’t enough workers to fill the demand.
This is a detailed report about The Great Renegotiation and New Talent Pools from McKinsey. I guess we have moved on from the Great Resignation to the Great Attrition to now the Great Renegotiation phase of our lives? While moving on through these phases we have continued Reshuffling, Reinventing and Reassessing. I always said in the past few years that this is still an amazing job market to find a new and better job! NOT light reading, warning.
Amazing shots! The Clearest Images of Jupiter ever taken.
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!
As of today, I have burned 676,323 miles/points year to date and have 4,880,971 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 for years 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.
NEW: Many blogs go on and on how to earn them miles and points. But there is a lot of work in the back end how to actually use them for travel! This post is helpful: Trying to Use Your Miles? The Best Websites for Finding Award Availability.
TOP TRAVEL REWARDS SIGNUP BONUS CARDS
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 think…taking advantage of bank marketing budgets! Available HERE, thank you!
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…at 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!
The Chase IHG Premier Card Signup Bonus is now 140,000 IHG points AND a free night (that costs up to 40,000 points) after you spend $3k in the first three months. The annual fee is $99. The card can earn up to 26x per dollar for spending in IHG hotels, 5x per dollar on travel, gas stations and restaurants and 3x everywhere else. You do receive a free night (up to 40,000 points) at each card anniversary which softens the blow from the annual fee somewhat along with a $50 deposit into your United Airlines Travel Bank account. You also get automatic Platinum elite status. Word on the street is that Chase will approve you much easier for this card than any other of its cards. If you plan to spend some time at a Holiday Inn brand hotel this card could get you several free nights. Available HERE under Card Category/Hotel, thank you!
Remember, you are NOT allowed to ever carry a credit card balance if you ever get a credit card here!
Right now, I am in a state of complete churning inaction. Huge part of the reason is that I have enough miles and points in the bank. And I am not burning them fast enough as life has changed. Maybe after September with trips to Huntington Beach, CA and Berlin I may be more motivated. But right now I am just bored. Or maybe I just don’t have the mental bandwidth to “play” anymore. Anyway, I have my annual insurance bills coming up so I can certainly bang out the minimum spending for a travel rewards credit card or two for the Signup Bonuses…I’ll ponder it over the next week or so I guess.
You can earn 25 American Airlines AAdvantage miles per dollar (or 50 AA miles per dollar if you are an AAdvantage Mastercard holder). Also, great to extend the life of your miles this way too.
We have Three New Transfer Bonuses for August 2022. One from Citi ThankYou points to Avianca Lifemiles for a 25% bonus and two 20% bonuses from Capital One Miles to Air France Flying Blue and British Airways Avios. Nothing to jump on immediately of course…and it is great to see Capital One bank continue to become a real competitor to the other bank proprietary points giants!
ADVANCED TRAVEL HACKERS
Sometimes bloggers just create their own content smh: Tourist That Claimed 5 Hour Line Up At Airport Asked To leave Bali. The tourist is a blogger at Loyalty Lobby.
Really good info about this bank: It’s Barclays’ Turn to Clown. This bank’s customer service is the absolute worst so be careful out there!
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.
There will no longer be any beatings administered to content marketing slick credit card salesmen masquerading as expert “travel” or “miles and points” bloggers in the body of my posts. As I have been expanding the readership to include other areas and I am trying to focus more on personal finance which you have asked for. For the old time readers, I commit to a comment about what is happening with the blogs we have all come to love and, mostly, hate lol. Oh, and be positive! 🙂
An English national football team finally won a major tournament, congrats to the Lionesses for winning the 2022 Womens Euro tournament!
After what we did to bin Laden and al-Zawahiri, I would like to send my thoughts and prayers in advance to the lucky dude being named the next al-Qaeda leader!
Running was interrupted again. Pain in left achilles tendon area. I think it has to do with a new pair of shoes that were not properly broken in. Which is something I struggle to deal with. Which stems from my slightly wider left foot. I need to persevere and…break them in before they break me lol.
The dog days of summer, enjoy them while they last everyone!
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