Aardvark Advisor

Set for Life

Just about a month ago, I had the opportunity to meet Scott Trench and Mindy Jensen at Camp FI Southeast. This was great for one because they’re awesome, friendly people, but also because it was a nice opportunity to pick their (expert) brains a little bit about the real estate world.

I’ve never owned real estate (always the renter, never the bride), but these two work for a company that is dedicated to real estate investment: Bigger Pockets.

This was also the first time I had heard of Scott’s book: Set for Life. He gave a presentation about how he believes “House Hacking” is the best strategy for people in the early stages of wealth building and made the generous offer to send a copy of his book to anyone that was interested. Well, being both frugal and a personal finance nerd, there’s no way I was passing that offer up.

So, over the course of the last month I’ve covered the whole book, mostly with the audio version, and thought I’d share my thoughts with you fine readers. Continue reading Book Report: Set For Life by Scott Trench

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At first, I wasn’t even going to write a post about this because I didn’t want to contribute to the noise, but I… can’t… take it anymore! It’s time to get a little rant-y.

So, let’s do this.

In the last couple weeks the stock market has dropped fairly rapidly. The S&P 500 was at a high of about 2873 on Jan 26 and it closed at about 2649 today (Feb 5). That’s a drop of nearly 8% and everyone is losing their freaking minds!

This is ridiculous. Continue reading Can we all stop freaking out about the stock market?

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For some reason I always find myself wanting to start off articles or speeches with a disclaimer, so here’s a quick one, since I can’t help myself: This is an article I’ve meant to write for a while, but have mainly held off because most of my readers are already familiar with the topic. Nevertheless, I think it’s foundational for this blog and worth exploring. FI enthusiasts may not find anything new and exciting, though. So read on, or don’t, as you please.

I'm a sign not a cop

What’s Financial Independence?

Continue reading Financial Independence- The Best Thing Money Can Buy

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This year I decided that I was tired of just passively absorbing information from the various Financial Independence (FI) blogs and podcasts on the internet and that I wanted to actually get involved. I’d reached a point in my path to FI where most things were on auto-pilot and I felt like by getting more involved I could see the following benefits:

  • Learn some new skills (like how to write words good)
  • Hopefully help some people
  • Create something instead of just consuming
  • Meet “like-minded” people and be engaged in a community that I’m passionate about

So, to do this, I felt like these were the first 3 steps I could take:

  1. Create this blog
  2. Engage with bloggers, podcasters, and readers/listeners online
  3. Attend in-person meetups

The first two have been in progress over the past 6+ months and while I’d like to maybe expand my readership a bit, I’ve been pretty happy with everything.

This month, I was able to achieve the first instance of #3 when my wife and I went to Camp FI Southeast down in Gainesville, FL.

Continue reading My Camp FI Experience

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TV

This experiment started on December 1st and lasted for the whole month, through New Year’s Eve. I gave it the (arguably, fairly terrible) name of “Make TV Watching Hard.” The plan was simple: move my TV down into the basement so it would be harder to watch and I could avoid binge-watching. I’d then be more inclined to use my time productively.

What follows is a somewhat-day-by-day review of my experiences. You can skip down to the bottom for some summary thoughts. Continue reading The “Make TV Watching Hard” Experiment Results

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I forget where I first heard the phrase, but I’ve become enamored with the idea of dollar bills as “Little Green Employees”. You see, there are a few different things you can do with every dollar that you earn:

  • Spend It– instead of a piece of colored paper (or more likely some numbers in a bank account) you trade your money for stuff, experiences, or services.
  • Save It– then the money will be available for future spending needs like emergencies or big ticket items (cars and houses).
  • Invest It– the real winner here. Use your dollars to create more dollars.

We’ve all got to eat, so some level of spending is inevitable, but economists will tell you that after a certain point, each additional dollar spent is going to give you less value back. Once you have your basic needs covered, you’re better off saving and investing the extra.

Now you could argue that this means some level of sacrifice; after all you’re not buying absolutely everything right now that you possibly could. However, future you is going to be pretty grateful when there’s plenty of money available for needed expenses instead of having to take on debt and live paycheck-to-paycheck. Continue reading Little Green Employees

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Grocery Store

In the Personal Finance community, a term that gets tossed around sometimes is Geo-Arbitrage: the idea that you can relocate to places with lower costs of living to make your money stretch farther when paying for the things you need on a day-to-day basis. This comes from the finance term, Arbitrage, which is essentially taking advantage of the same investment being priced differently in two different places. Investors can quickly buy it at the low price and sell it at the high price and turn an instant profit. Now, in efficient markets, arbitrage opportunities are hard to come by and quickly disappear. However, in the real world you’ll notice them all over the place, once you open your eyes to it.

For example, think about the last time you had to fill your car up with gas…In the wealthy part of town, or maybe by a highway exit, the prices are always a bit higher, but in the middle of nowhere the same tank of gas could be significantly cheaper. When you up the distance to cross state or national borders, the price disparities for equivalent goods/services become even more obvious. This is where the geo-arbitrage crowd takes advantage. From food to housing to medical services, looking outside your home country can mean significant cost savings. Continue reading Grocery Arbitrage

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Om

On November 4th, I began a 30 day Meditation Experiment. What follows is a day-by-day account of how it went. If you just want the summary, skip down to the bottom.

Daily Experience

Day 1: I found a random 10 minute long guided meditation video on YouTube and gave it a try. I don’t know if I have enough experience to judge the quality of the guidance, but it was decently relaxing, at least. A couple of times I realized my thoughts had drifted and I brought them back to the present, which I think is what I’m supposed to be doing. So, I’ll count it a win.

Day 2: I downloaded the Head Space app and then promptly deleted it when it required me to create an account to even use it. I then downloaded the Calm app and discovered they have the same problem. At that point, I sighed and gave in, creating an account, then started their 7 day free trial set of meditations. Day 1 was about 10 minutes focused on breathing Continue reading The Meditation Experiment Results

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TV

You may remember that in 2015, some dictionary made headlines by declaring “binge-watch” to be their word of the year. Now, if you’re like me you probably take issue with a hyphenated word being given such a high honor in the first place, but let’s move past that… Binge-watching has become a part of our lexicon because the action has become ubiquitous (now THERE’s a word worth honoring) in our society. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO Go, pick your poison, but they all make it super easy to get sucked into episode after episode of whatever shows you happen to be into.

We made the decision to “cut the cord” and not pay for a cable subscription a few years back mainly because the value proposition seemed terrible. You want me to pay dozens of my precious dollars every month for a whole bunch of channels I couldn’t care less about? No thanks. However, I was raised on a steady diet of TV. Huddling up on the couch after dinner to watch the latest prime time hits was standard-fare in the Aardvark household growing up. So, you’d best believe that a lack of cable has not stopped me and the wife from binge-ing through dozens of hits over the years on the various streaming services mentioned above.

That brings me to today and to this experiment. I certainly still love television and movies and don’t necessarily want them gone completely from my life. I think they’re a cornerstone of our culture and I love seeing the ones that are really on top of their game and discussing with friends and coworkers. What I don’t want, however, is the binge-watching in my life. I hate the feeling that I got sucked into watching more than I should have, especially when there are a lot of ways I’d prefer to spend my time. For example, writing to you fine folks here on the interwebs! Continue reading The “Make TV Watching Hard” Experiment

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Fable

Pretty much as long as I can remember I’ve been big into the fantasy genre (starting, of course, with Tolkien) and role playing games (RPGs). They were both excellent forms of escapism for a shy kid that loved the ideas of magic and fighting monsters. So, when the game “Fable” was released in 2004, and its successors in 2008 and 2010, you’d best believe I was all over it.

These games had all the classic tropes and conventions for the genre. They were set in a pre-industrial society (at least initially) where the village-folk needed protecting by a noble hero wielding magic and weaponry to ultimately save the world. There was the classic system of gaining experience through battles and quests to “level up” and gain new abilities and spells. They also had less common features like the ability to become evil or good based on your actions- which had an impact on your appearance and how people would react to you.

Now, I’m not going to claim that the Fable series was the best thing since slice bread or try to bore you non-video-game-people with a recounting of all my heroic deeds. What I want to talk about is a neat little feature in the games that actually ended up tying in well with the investing strategies I use and recommend. Continue reading Video Game Investing Lessons

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