Shirts Awards: Best Podcasts of December, 2017

This month was a big month for listening to Podcasts. In addition to “normal” listening, there were many podcasts consumed during thirty-six hours in the car plus excessive time at the gym thanks to spending the last two weeks of the year off of work (Yes, I am looking forward to doing this full time).

With that, let’s give some shirts outs!

Would you expect any other brand?

Fire Drill Podcast #32:  Savings Sherpa.  This month must have been Military Month, because the Fire Drill Podcast highlighted two personal finance writers, Saving-Sherpa and Military Dollar. Justin’s story over at Savings Sherpa was awesome, he discussed the power of the military housing allowance, the advantages of high cost of living areas, and how to charitably make a difference while still saving for FI.   I think he had the hosts and many listeners in tears for his work with Ciudad de Angeles.

Masters of Money:  Bonus Episode with Doug Nordman.    Doug is one of the original personal finance bloggers and I’ve interacted with him for years on various forums.   Doug has done a number of interviews,  but this was the first one where I heard him give career advice about the military that really applies to any person in life:  Look one or two jobs above you and ask “Are they having fun”?  This hit home for me because it properly describes where I’m at with my career, I don’t think anyone above me is “having fun”. You trade time for money in your career, never forget that. If you can’t enjoy what you’re doing, then figure out how to do something else.

Tonja @ Our Next Life  made a number of appearances and launched her own podcast with Kara @ BravelyGo.  She makes the list twice this month with two specific podcasts I wanted to highlight:

Do you even Blog? This was a different interview with Tonja, instead of the backstory or more common questions regarding personal finance, it was a discussion specifically about the Our Next Life blog.  Why someone should decide to blog?  Do it to build friends, do it to build relationships, then do it to provide good content.   What should people do more of?  Tell more stories about failure for authenticity. Go deeper in writing, don’t just do it to justify your own decisions. This was a great interview and highly recommended for anyone who follows her work.

Fairer Cents:  The Urge to Compare.   This is an impressive podcast that goes very deep into one of my favorite quotes, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy”.   This is going to get its own post from me, but I enjoyed this discussion.  I know I’m personally way further down the libertarian side of liberal thought than Tonja, but the amount of common ground I found was surprising.    Interestingly after this podcast, there was also a post by ZeroDayFinance about “poor shaming” that got a ton of traction recently, it would be interesting to explore the evolving beliefs of personal finance writers.  My anecdotal view is the writers in their 20s tend to get more fired up on either side than those over 35.  Maybe that’s reality, or maybe that’s the lack of desire to argue with people over the internet.

Quote of the Month:

– Paula Pant was asked by a caller about “Firing a Financial Adviser who was a ‘friend’ ” on her Afford Anything podcast.   Her first response was incredible, “If they’re not willing to show up and help you move, then they’re not a friend”. That’s one way to figure out if your financial adviser is really a “friend”.  On a side note, if you need an adviser, pay them a flat fee for planning.  If they’re your friend, great, but they still deserve to be paid for their work.  Never pay a sales commission or a percentage of asset fee for investment advice.

Q4/Year End Net Worth Update

It is my favorite time of the year to update spreadsheets, I started keeping a snapshot of each year end as a reminder of the process we’re making. I wish I had done this from the beginning, but here is our Net Worth progression since 2011, all of these figures are at year-end:

2011:  $323,000

2012: $470,000

2013: $716,000

2014: $894,000

2015: $1,019,000

2016: $1,208,000

The acceleration from both progression in the career higher income and compound interest really shows through.

Now on to the update!

Continue reading “Q4/Year End Net Worth Update”

What if everyone went to Index Investing? Profit from it!

Today might be the day that Mr. Shirts gets banned from the financial independence community, but how can you capitalize on the passive investment trend?  Passive investing pushes capital towards companies based solely on a public stock’s total value and nothing else.  We own some individual stocks, upwards of 20% of our portfolio.  Why?  Because there are occasionally opportunities for a long term investor to capitalize.

If you look at the major owners of public companies in their filings, specifically those that are no longer founder led, the top owners are usually the big four players in Index Funds

Vanguard Group

State Street (SPDR ETFs)

Blackrock (iShares ETFs)

FMR (Fidelity Group)

Continue reading “What if everyone went to Index Investing? Profit from it!”

Bubble Alert: Gold and Silver ruled 2012!

As the mania of Bitcoin continues (although it is down 33% from its highs as of December 22nd), I deliver to you the most recent bubble, precious metals. Ironically I’m writing this on a day where Gold is currently 30%+ off of its highs five years later and Bitcoin was down the same amount in one day!

Gold and Silver:  The last forty years.

Did I find this at the end of a rainbow?

Continue reading “Bubble Alert: Gold and Silver ruled 2012!”

Cryptocurrencies – SEC Releases Public Statement

On Tuesday, December 11th, the SEC issued a public statement for Cryptocurrencies and Initial Coin Offerings.   I recommend anyone interested read this statement in its entirety.

Some particular highlights:

Investors should understand that to date no initial coin offerings have been registered with the SEC.  The SEC also has not to date approved for listing and trading any exchange-traded products (such as ETFs) holding cryptocurrencies or other assets related to cryptocurrencies.[2]  If any person today tells you otherwise, be especially wary.

Continue reading “Cryptocurrencies – SEC Releases Public Statement”

In the Year 2000 – Investing in Rambus

1990s Tech and Internet Stock Bubble

I have always been a money nerd.  In high school I was watching the market run up and people talk about technology and telecom stocks as the new tomorrow.  My 62 year old grandfather had initially taught me about investing.  He was nearing retirement after a long career in the late 1990s and was due two nice pensions in his future.  Additionally, he had a small portfolio and just come into some money from the sale of his parents house.  He was in leadership in General Electric, but decided not to stop moving with the company in his 40s when a division was sold then then put in another 10 years as an line engineer at another company in town.  He had provided a solid middle to upper middle class upbringing for his four children and continued to generously support the family.

You can’t loose!  Don’t miss out!

Continue reading “In the Year 2000 – Investing in Rambus”

Bubbles, Cyptocurrency, FOMO, and the People Effect

Cryptocurrency is all the rage of 2017. Bitcoin, Erethium, and ICOs.

What the heck?

You can’t venture on to any personal finance forum or twitter without seeing passionate arguments on either side. New age technology vs. beanie babies and tulip bulbs.  At the time of writing, someone else is calling Bitcoin “the most obvious bubble of our lifetime”.

A recent forum reply to a criticism of Bitcoin as an investment.  Apparently reading a history book doesn’t count

There is probably something to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency, especially as a means to store value for people in unstable countries.  People have been using different means to store value since people developed an intermediary mean of trading.  Civilization has moved from gold as a store of value to currencies backed only by the faith of a central government.  If you’re in Venezuela, what options do you have? The government and government sponsored banking system is corrupt and if you hold physical money armed gangs come and steal it from you.

Continue reading “Bubbles, Cyptocurrency, FOMO, and the People Effect”

Foundations of Financial Independence

You are in the business of you! You are responsible for both total revenue and total expenses. What are you doing to increase your income today? What are you doing to increase your income potential tomorrow? Where are the best paying jobs in your field? What is the incremental value of education? The path to financial independence begins with increasing your income and finishes once you’ve optimized your expenses

Increase your Income Continue reading “Foundations of Financial Independence”

Asset Allocation Disclosed


Every finance forum has discussion after discussion related to asset allocation.  The Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund is generally accepted as a solid be-all, end-all option for people pursuing early retirement. I unfortunately did not start with the “basics”. My degree is in finance and I studied for a CFA, so that combined with a naturally high opinion of myself set me off on a mission to pick stocks. Hundreds of hours were spent analyzing companies, listening to investment podcasts, and trying to find that company that’ll beat the market.

The results are a whopping 1.24% higher return on the S&P 500 over a five year period, but I am humbly trailing the market YTD.  We are slowly transitioning our holdings into index funds and in hindsight, it would have been much better to focus on a side hustle or just devote more time to sales in the regular job than all the work and effort put in for a marginal improvement over the index. Continue reading “Asset Allocation Disclosed”

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.

Now that’s scarce!

Continue reading “Home Ownership: The Power of Scarcity”