Another TBB post featuring the most eclectic links around the web such as US credit card balances, the ridiculous OpenAI drama, the Binance CZ guilty plea, RIP Goldman Sachs, desert island tourism, the latest on the SBF trial, retirement withdrawal rates, how things are always different in the stock market, the state of the warming planet, a crazy guy got elected in Argentina, smuggling turtles, always amazing photography, Taj Mahal visit, crazy car museum, great geography based game, the latest on the crazy wold of frequent flyer miles and bank points that have been making our travel so grand in the past three decades and more!
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This blog publishes every Friday. If not Friday, it will be Monday. This is a one man labor of love operation, enjoy it white it lasts. I may also post in other days besides Friday/Monday, no promises. We are back to normal around here, appreciate you all and always thanks for the few clicks of support to keep this baby rolling…
I agree with most of Dave Ramsey’s advice on cash flow related items. But when it comes to investing this guy is dangerous. And he will never admit he is wrong so stay clear please. He is known to project 12% annual investment returns. Which imply that you can easily withdraw 8% from your investment portfolio in retirement. This is the type of advice that can ruin people so beware. And he does not like it when others take him to task and deliver a beating: How Safe is an 8% Withdrawal Rate? Anything above 5% may not work for you. The 4% rule is still a great measuring stick to start out with and…adjust from there. Again, we are all different and there is no right number as with most things dealing with personal finance.
You need to focus on what you do best and stick with your plan, assuming you have one. There are always going to be Cassandras out there screaming, with the help of the media, that the sky is falling and that it IS different this time. And we financial planners get this question a lot: What if This Time is Different For the Stock Market? It takes a special temperament to be fully invested. Some people don’t have the stomach for it. A lot of people think they do and then they encounter their first bear market and their true risk tolerance comes out. You need to be mentally okay with seeing your portfolio go down, 10% is…pffft, ok? And anything is possible short term!
It sounds intelligent to say this time is different for the stock market but every time is different. Each market and economic cycle is unique. If there were a playbook for this stuff investing would be a whole lot easier.
Since 1928 the U.S. stock market has averaged a 10% correction in roughly two-thirds of all years, a bear market once every 4 years and a crash of 40% or worse once every 13 years.
The average peak-to-trough drawdown in a given year going back to 1928 has been a little more than 16%. In 6 out of the past 10 years alone, the S&P 500 has experienced a double-digit correction.
Corrections in the stock market are completely normal. It’s the cost of doing business. Future corrections will always feel different because markets and investors are constantly changing and evolving. That doesn’t mean you abandon risk assets because they make you feel uncomfortable.
You’re never going to survive in the stock market if you treat every downturn like it’s the end of the world.
The absolute best thing you can do for your personal finances is to eliminate ALL credit card debt. Now. Do not be among these people contributing to this sad statistic: US credit card balances see largest yearly leap on record.
The firing of Sam Altman by the board of OpenAI and the following roller coaster leading to his return was one of the most flippant events recently. If you too are wondering wtf is going on, well, join the crowd. If you want to understand it, this is a good article: The interested normie’s guide to OpenAI drama. Who is Sam Altman? What is OpenAI? And what does this have to do with Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s wife?? It all comes back to, please sit down, money.
SAM BANKMAN-FRIED SBF FTX TRIAL
Hopefully this is the last time I have a separate section about this guy. We all need to move on and I hope he survives in prison and makes something out of his life.
We learned so much in the trial. But still, we have a LOT to learn! The stones left unturned in the Sam Bankman-Fried trial.
Molly White followed up with this oped at the New York Times: Sam Bankman-Fried and the People Who Gave Up Their Money for Nothing.
The collapse of the FTX exchange revealed the massive duplicity underlying many crypto exchanges, but its implosion should not be attributed to that alone. It, like so many companies in the cryptocurrency industry, had propped itself up on an imaginary foundation of tokens it had invented, and that foundation was bound to fail eventually. When the next company in its position falls, the only surprise should be that people expected any other outcome.
And of course we have this guy smh: Michael Lewis Is Still Defending Sam Bankman-Fried.
But Lewis was impressed (at least initially). “He is not conventionally dishonest,” Lewis said on his podcast the day that Bankman-Fried took the stand without the presence of the jury — sort of a trial run for what would happen when jurors were in the courtroom. “What he does is evade questions he doesn’t want to answer.”
It’s hard to imagine that a veteran journalist like Lewis has never encountered a subject in the high-powered world of finance who was skilled at the art of deflection — that is, avoiding answering tough questions.
“He does it very ably,” said Lewis. “It’s a little spellbinding.” Lewis went on to say he was impressed by Bankman-Fried’s “fiber” and found his testimony as “riveting as theater.”
It is amazing to me how many of these crypto guys end up with felony convictions and yet, the crypto crowd keeps finding ways to cheer each other up smh…
So this guy may not even serve any time in jail and gets to keep his billions. Actually, he proved to be much smarter than his “buddy” Sam.
Meanwhile, the price of bitcoin does not appear to be impacted for whatever reason. This article “Binance Guilty Plea Shows What Crypto’s Really About” attempts to explain this weird phenomenon. Comes down to four possible reasons: Digital art, digital gold, gambling and crime. The digital art is tiny, it is not digital gold, there will always be gambling and of course crime (which is going to be less now that the regulators will be looking over Binance for several years). So, you know, be careful out there.
We are falling behind here: The State of the Planet in 10 Numbers. A snapshot of the warming world, from sea level rise to fossil fuel subsidies. There has been some progress but nowhere near enough.
Hopefully by the time this blog post is published or soon thereafter, some of the Israeli hostages are released. And expect the war to continue with Hamas and Netanyahu in charge. Excuse me but, why is Mr. Security Netanyahu still in charge after the biggest day of carnage in his watch? Anyway, let’s switch to Argentina…
You know, governance matters. Argentina continues its long streak of horrendous governance. And now they elected a hell of a guy, I guess everyone is looking for a savior smh. Argentina’s Economic Turmoil Is Getting Worse. These Charts Explain Why. President-elect Javier Milei faces runaway inflation, empty coffers after decades of economic mismanagement. Anyway, this guys is a piece of work, I just don’t have that feeling he is going to be the savior so good luck to all Argentinians! Wild-Haired Former Rocker Promised to Remake Argentina if Elected President. Ok, some facts about this guy, hang on:
ODDZ & ENDZ
Oh Goldman Sachs, the smart guys with the CEO David Solomon who likes to DJ lol. RIP Goldman Sachs. When I started out at Goldman, it was the most feared firm on Wall Street. Those days are gone for good. Indeed.
Solomon is not unwilling to admit error. “Look, I don’t know that we’ve gotten everything exactly right,” he says. “We definitely haven’t.” But he wants it known that he does not recognize himself in what’s been written about him. He’s been called, among other things, a “jerk,” and a “prick,” and a “dick.” Solomon’s defenders frequently use the word “tough” to explain why he isn’t well-liked. “He’s not a teddy bear,” concedes someone close to him. Still, Solomon’s predecessors, Blankfein and Hank Paulson, weren’t exactly known for being soft and fuzzy. What’s different about Solomon is that his toughness is unleavened by Blankfein’s humor, or by Paulson’s knack for being simultaneously ferocious and oddly endearing. Solomon has a habit of beginning an answer by questioning your premise, or by quibbling with something you said.
I had no idea turtle smuggling was a thing, another fantastic Texas Monthly story: The Great Cajun Turtle Heist. Alligator snapping turtle populations in Texas were dwindling. One family of smugglers had been poaching them from the state for years.
I have not seen these amazing photos from the Vietnam War. The Marines and Tet: The Battle That Changed the Vietnam War.
More amazing photos: 25 Winning Photos From The 35th AAP Magazine Photography Awards.
Cool travel game guessing the neighbors of a country: Neighborle.
If you wanted to be a castaway in a deserted island, there are businesses out there to cater to you: The wild business of desert island tourism. Actually, if I was younger I may entertain these excursions. But at this stage of my life I feel more at home in a Hyatt suite with a lounge lol.
Really good post and pics in Andy’s Travel Blog: My Visit to the Taj Mahal.
Amazing how people can be so entrepreneurial. This guy makes wacky cars and has a museum with over 700 cars he built: This Man Drives a Burger to Work. And toilet cars. And on and on and on…
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
My feet are still bothering me, more shockwave therapy sessions ahead. I have started to walk after resting in my Singapore/Thailand trip. I long for the days I used to run 5 miles without thinking about it…
I watched the movie Napoleon. Definitely do not go out of your way to see it. Other than some amazing battle scenes the whole movie felt disjointed and this was not Phoenix’s greatest acting.
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 and maximizing your travel experiences. If you are not interested, you can stop here, thank you.
MILES & POINTS NEWS/PROMOS/MY ACTION
I am going to try separating this Section this way:
As I predicted, the IRS again announced another delay on the $600 Form 1099-K Rule implementation.
If you are going to spend some money, you should get some rewards for it. If you are into online shopping, you should first check out Cashback Monitor to see how many miles/points you can earn buying from an online store. Then I try to use either my Rakuten or TopCashBack links. We can both get $40 if you sign up for Rakuten and $30 for TopCashBack with the REFERRAL links below , thank you.
Many of the amazing sweet spot awards in the Alaska Airlines Mileage Plan awards were obliterated after its latest enhancement: New Alaska Award Chart: Winners, Losers and Sweet Spots. As bloggers identify sweet spots, airlines go to to work plugging the holes.
Actually, with so many banks now adjusting the travel reward credit cards by adding more couponizing, this is a good resource: Credit Card Coupon Book Cheat Sheet.
I have made lots of updates to the RESOURCES Miles & Points page, check it out.
Always check my TOP THREE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD OFFERS RIGHT NOW below. At this point, the two no brainer cards are still the two 90,000 NO Annual Fee Chase Business Ink cards, by far! 4 Reasons to Get a Chase Ink Cash or Unlimited Card Right Now. Available HERE. Chase will give you around $1,000 for free, come on! And also available with my REFERRAL link. I have new links below explaining more about the cards designated as NEW.
If the thought of adding another credit card in your life gives you a headache, well, this game we play is not for you. And it is perfectly fine, your life will certainly be simpler and there is beauty in that. But, you know, at least earn 2% cash back, is that so hard? A straight 2% cash back card is the Citi Double Cash. Which did not come with a Signup Bonus for a long time. Or, when it did, it was very low. Well, it now comes with a $200 Signup Bonus which is still low. But hey, it is higher than it has been for a long time: Citi Double Cash now featuring $200 welcome bonus. If you decide to go for it, please consider using my affiliate links you can find HERE.
I am done with the $6k minimum spending on my latest Chase Ink Business Unlimited card, so I expect another 99,000+ Chase Ultimate Rewards points to be added to my high miles/points bank balances I have been trying to lower for a while . But, you know, it is like an addiction, how can you say no to Chase Bank offering 90k points on these two no annual fee cards, hello?
I just booked another night at a nearby Hyatt Place for only 3,500 points. I do have another seven of them in the next month, all booked at just 3,500 points each. After my total 10 nights in Phuket and Bangkok, I hit 50 Hyatt night credits so I was was short two to hit 60 to requalify for Globalist elite. And I decided to shift enough spending to my Hyatt Visa card to cross another $5k to earn the 2 final elite night credits. Globalist status again came so handy in amazing suites at the Phuket Hyatt Regency and the Bangkok Hyatt Regency Sukhumvit. And of course all the food/drinks in the lounges and the amazing breakfasts #winning.
I burned an additional 66,000 United miles to change my return flights to Business Class. I flew Thai Airways from Bangkok to Frankfurt and Lufthansa onwards to Detroit. The Royal Silk Lounge in BKK is great. The Thai business class product is, well, old and tired. And food was good but nothing special. I accessed the Lufthansa Senator lounge in FRA with my AmexPlatinum card. Same old reliable nothing too amazing German efficiency I guess. I slept good in both flights. I also slept just fine on my way to Singapore flying Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines economy class so there is that.
Within Asia we flew Air Asia from Singapore to Phuket and from Phuket to Bangkok, they were great. On the contrary, my wife’s Malaysian Airlines flight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur was canceled, eventually rebooked and delayed twice, she got to KL at midnight instead of around 7 pm. So, very let down by Malaysian Airlines, I guess they have a ways to go to come back.
We also stayed at the Singapore Fairmont one night which was fantastic. For free, come on, je suis TBB. I am a lifetime Platinum with them (a deal that goes back to 2011) so they treat me very well, here is my welcome amenity shortly after we checked in. Amazing breakfast the next morning and we also got two free drinks me and my daughter used. She got the most expensive cocktail on the menu with a most ridiculous presentation we have ever experienced, the price of it was something $45 Singaporean dollars, lol!
Ask me anything about my trip. I just don’t have it in me to do a long trip report, they take forever to do, sorry. But I will sprinkle in some info and pics going forward.
I have tried way too many times, I give up: How to find the Amex Business Gold 150k offer [Video].
MILES & POINTS
HOT CREDIT CARD OFFERS: 90k CHASE Ink Business Cash, 90k CHASE Ink Business Unlimited, 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture X, 75k CHASE Southwest Plus/Premier/Priority, 150k CAPITAL ONE Venture X Business, 75k CAPITAL ONE Venture Rewards, 100k CHASE Ink Business Preferred, 60K CITI Premier, $1,000 Cash Back CHASE Ink Business Premier, 140K CHASE IHG Rewards Premier (with $100 Statement Credit), 60k CHASE Sapphire, 60K CHASE Sapphire Reserve, 60k US BANK Business Altitude 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 1,081,850 miles/points year to date in 2023 and have 4,251,867 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.
TOP THREE TRAVEL REWARDS CREDIT CARD OFFERS RIGHT NOW
Ok, the amazing 90k Chase Ink Business Cash and Chase Ink Business Unlimited card offers are back! These are NO ANNUAL fee cards. The Ink Business Cash earns 5% on office supply stores and internet/cable/phone services and 2% on gas and restaurants. Why don’t you go to Office Depot and buy gift cards of the stores you usually buy from, hello 5% Amazon! The Ink Business Unlimited works differently, it just earns 1.5% on everything…so if you were going to use a card to earn 1% why don’t you pull this one out instead? Bottom line, I think these are the BEST business travel rewards cards out there right now! The 90k Signup Bonus can be earned after $6k of spend on the cards in the first three months. you can apply HERE to support this blog, thank you (they can be found under Category/Business).
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 an 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!
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.