Home Ownership: The Power of Scarcity

There are two types of financial decisions: Good financial decisions and educational decisions. We’ve purchased four homes and did well with one, did okay with one, lost our rear end in one, and our current one we’re cautiously optimistic on. The biggest lesson we’ve learned in home ownership is the power of scarcity.

 

The first component of a house is land. A homeowner/developer must have enough land to build a house. The problem with land? They’re not making more of it. Now if you’re driving through parts of the US, (ahem – New Mexico, Texas, Nevada), you’re thinking that land isn’t scarce. If you live in an urban area, open land for purchase is either really expensive or just doesn’t exist. Even worse, sometimes you have to buy a house on land just to tear it down! Now that sounds costly.

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Now that’s scarce!

Continue reading “Home Ownership: The Power of Scarcity”

Why I Stopped Saving HSA Receipts

I’ve always been a fan of the Health Savings Account.  Pre tax?  Check.  Pre-FICA?  Even better!

As soon as my employer started offering these, I put away the maximum contribution allowed.  I did the math, saw a $10,000 out of pocket maximum, then said as long as we don’t have a ton of medical expenses in the first two years, this risk will pay off!  At the time, I worked in a state with an income tax and Mrs. Shirts was also working. This meant we was earning below the social security contribution limit, but in a 25% marginal tax rate as a dual income home. On top of federal income tax, we were also paying 6% to the state of Georgia and 6.2% for Social Security.  The HSA immediately allowed us to reduce our tax liability while putting away money tax free.

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We were fortunate over the next eight years, putting away the maximum each year while not incurring much in healthcare expenses. We also enjoyed one of the best stock market runs in history between 2009 and 2016. Our account quickly grew and before we knew it, we had amassed over $60,000 in the HSA account.  Then we ran across the Mad Fientist’s article referring to the HSA as the Ultimate Retirement Account. Continue reading “Why I Stopped Saving HSA Receipts”

Why Costco?

I get accused of being obsessed with Costco. One of my personal jokes is “If Costco doesn’t sell it, I probably didn’t need it”. I am a bigger fan than average, but its become a running joke now with my friends.

  • When I go on vacation, I usually stop by a local Costco and post a picture on Facebook.
  • When they were building the local Costco (reducing my distance from 10 miles to 3 miles), I would post pictures updating the construction
  • I went to the new Costco on opening day and it was a personal highlight to meet Craig Jelinek, the current CEO of Costco.
  • At one point at had a 10%+ concentration in Costco stock in my portfolio.

Okay, maybe I’m a bit obsessed. But why should you shop at Costco? Continue reading “Why Costco?”

The blogging adventure begins…

Well, its finally happened.   A blog.  After lurking in the shadows of the personal finance community (about 15+ years on various message boards and twitter), I’ve decided to move out into the light to share random thoughts with the world.

 

I’ve wanted to do this for a while, but to be direct, I’ve not been one to try things that I might not be successful with.  I’m a finance guy, not a coder or web designer.  I actually changed majors from computer science because I couldn’t stand coding.  This was completely intimidating to me!   I had drafted a bunch of random thoughts, posted hundreds of thousands of words of advice on message boards, but was still afraid to blog.   One day I was reading one of my favorite sites, Physician on FIRE, and clicked on his “start a blog” post.  He shared his original blog page and with that I said “If an anesthesiologist can figure this out, I can too”.

 

I also believe content will drive success.  You can have the best designed site, best social media platforms, the most forum posts, but if your content stinks, you still won’t get people visiting your site.