Lessons Learned

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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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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Car full of money

We all know that catchy, advertising phrase, but does anyone ever really switch car insurance? I certainly hadn’t for about 10 years, until this week when I realized how silly it was to not even check for better deals. I’m pretty dedicated to frugality and good deals in most areas of life; why hadn’t I bothered to see what sort of options I had for insurance? It turns out that my assumptions and preference for the status quo were holding me back from an easy win, just like they have countless other times in my life and probably in yours as well. Continue reading “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance…”

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Travel Hacking?

There’s a lot of talk about hacking things these days- life hacks, personal finance hacks, travel hacks, etc… Everybody wants to be a hacker. I assume this is because that little girl in Jurassic Park made it seem super cool back in 1993.

It's a UNIX system, I know this.

Call me old fashioned, but when it comes to the business of getting points/miles/shiny rocks as a result of using credit cards, I usually just stick to calling them “Credit Card Rewards”.

All semantics aside, it’s a pretty sweet gig if you’re able to take advantage of it. So, today I’m going to talk about how I’m putting CC Rewards to use and how you could too, if you were so inclined.

Continue reading Adventures in Credit Card Rewards

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Reset button

I started writing this article while taking an overnight train from Seattle to San Francisco and looking out the window as we passed through a gorgeous national forest. Now, I say “started” because about 10 minutes into the process I got so nauseous from staring at the screen on a moving train that I had to abandon that whole idea… but that’s beside the point. The train ride was pretty fantastic and it was part of a week-long trip that took me to a number of new towns (thousands of miles from home), with a number of old friends, and, most importantly, well outside of my normal daily routine.

It was the lack of a routine that got me thinking

Humans, like many animals (I assume…I’m not a scientist), are creatures of habit. Once we’ve done something a certain way more than a few times, our brain actually starts to rewire itself and create fairly automatic routines. The next time we encounter the same situation, our brain will run through that routine with much less thought or attention. Continue reading Hit the Reset Button

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