The Sunday Best is a collection of articles I’ve curated from the furthest reaches of the internet for your reading pleasure.
Every week, I scan hundreds of headlines, read dozens of posts, and bring you the best of the best to save you time and mental energy.
Financial Independence (FI) is a primary focus, but it’s an awfully broad topic. I tend to approach FI and early retirement from a fatFIRE perspective and through the lens of a physician, so expect to see those biases in the selected articles.
For more great articles, take a peek at The Sunday Best Archives. Now let’s get to the best… The Sunday Best!
Dr. Jim Dahle and I give our answers to a half dozen intriguing questions about our post-FI lives and investments. Life After Financial Independence: Two Perspectives from The White Coat Investor.
As you might imagine, life is good for both of us, but as he points out, Financial Independence Is Not The Holy Grail.
Steveark, who you may remember from Post-FI Notes 010, replaced paid work with unpaid work, and he still has many of the same limitations. He shares the pros and cons of this realization in My Work Epiphany.
You may have an epiphany of your own as you peruse these pies, bars, and lines from Banker on FIRE. 20 Personal Finance Charts To Help You Build Wealth In 2022.
I was able to complete my 2022 wealth-building backdoor Roth contributions on January 4th and 5th. With instructions for both the brokerage IRA account and the simpler mutual fund IRA account, Backdoor Roth IRA 2022: A Step by Step Guide with Vanguard.
If you’re a Fidelity user, Smart Money MD has the guide for you, complete with fresh screenshots. The process appears to be quite simple. How to fund a backdoor Roth IRA at Fidelity (2022 edition).
Darrow Kirkpatrick from Can I Retire Yet has been retired for 10 years now. While he’s maintained a fairly conservative portfolio by many standards, he also has nearly 10% of it in crypto assets. My Investment Portfolio: 2022.
He’d like to be retired early; she wants no part of it. Now in their 30s, he ponders their financial future. FIRE Crossroads 015: 2 Dentists, Nearly $2 Million, and 2 Different Goals.
In 2015, they were grad students. Now they’re pulling in a cool half million a year together. You don’t have to be a doctor, dentist, or lawyer to make the big bucks, as Frugal Asian Finance shows us. How We Went From Making $40,000 to More Than $500,000 A Year.
One of those biases is the tendency to forget this important fact, leading to poor choices and false conundrums. Money is Fungible & Why That Matters.
A false sense of security can lead to financial ruin if you don’t have your ducks in a row before a calamity occurs. The Mile High Finance Guy wrote a thorough guide to help you determine how much or how little life insurance you should have. How Much Life Insurance Do You Really Need?
We’ll end this section with more end-of-life discussion as J.D. Roth with Get Rich Slowly grapples with difficult decisions with his mother’s estate after a decade in assisted living. Drama in real life: Making planned gifts before death.
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A Thunderstorm in Athens
My family almost left The States without me. That would not have been their preference, but it was so, so close to actually happening.
I booked 4 tickets from Alpena to Athens back in early October, you know, before Omicron. Anyway, because we were using credit from previously canceled trips to pay for a portion of each fare, each ticket had to be booked separately, and I had 4 different confirmation codes for the 4 trips.
I got an email when our Athens itinerary was slightly altered. I got notifications to check in online when the time came, but there were error messages in the app when I tried to do so. I guessed this was because the system saw unaccompanied minors when I tried to check them in.
We showed up to the airport early on the morning of our departure since the app was telling me to see a Delta agent in-person. We arrived to discover that the plane we were supposed to fly out on never arrived from Detroit (our airport has one to two flights a day, and they only go to Detroit). Our trip was delayed by 30 hours, and I got four emails showing that each of us was confirmed on a new itinerary the next day.
However, I couldn’t see my flight to Athens in “My Trips” on either the website or the app, but I could see them for the rest of my family. Since flights were being canceled by the hundreds and I didn’t want to spend hours on hold, I decided to try Delta’s chat feature, and I initiated a chat at 10:20 a.m on the new day of departure, five and a half hours before takeoff.
After a few exchanges with the chat bot, I was referred to a human within 10 minutes. I don’t know how many chats “Joyce” was juggling, but I only heard from her every 5 or 10 minutes despite giving her all the info she asked for within seconds each time. After maybe 30 minutes, she let me know that my itinerary didn’t match up with the rest of the family’s. She would refer me to a ticketing specialist.
The first specialist “Terri” introduced herself at 11:37 a.m. She said she would read through the chat to get up to speed.
After 15 minutes or so, I asked if she needed any more information. Someone responded with an apology for unusually long wait times and a promise that I’d be assigned to a ticketing specialist as soon as one was available. I thought that’s what Terri was supposed to be, but she wasn’t responding.
I texted about every 30 minutes for the next two hours to see if anyone was there.
At 12:55 p.m., 3 hours before we were to depart, I asked if it would be better for me to go directly to the airport to resolve the issue. No response. At 1:49, I responded to say that I was heading to the airport.
Just as I arrived at the airport, nearly 2 hours early to an airport with one gate, we were first in line to speak with the Delta agent who had clearly just arrived, as he was wearing plain clothes. At the same time, I finally got a response in the Delta chat from “Akaaj.”
I decided to continue that chat while the gate agent worked on our itineraries. Apparently, one of my sons was confirmed on all three flights to Athens. My wife and other son were only confirmed through Amsterdam. And I was screwed.
The agent spent the next 90 minutes on his cell phone either talking with Delta representatives or waiting on hold. He was able to get the rest of my family squared away, but not me. He suggested about halfway through boarding the flight out that it might be best for us all to start from scratch the next day.
Meanwhile, I was continuing the text chat with Akaaj, who seemed to be making some progress and a discovery. Apparently, payment was processed for everyone but me back in October. Somehow, I was in some weird limbo where Delta had seat assignments and everything for me, but was waiting on payment, a fact that they never told me and only became apparent five hours into our chat session.
The in-person agents weren’t going to be able to help us in time. My wife decided she and the boys could go on without me, and I would meet up with them in Greece. I had given her all of the boarding passes, negative COVID test results, CDC vaccination cards, our passenger locator form, passports, etc.
The sand was almost drained from the proverbial egg timer when Akaaj sent me a link to pay an invoice for what was apparently owed on my ticket. I whipped out a credit card, entered my info as fast as possible, and the in-person agent was able to print me boarding passes almost instantly. We passed through as the last people to go through the security checkpoint for the day!
I was reminded of this fun but not-safe-for-work bit from John Mulaney:
Alas, all’s well that ends well. We spent our first two days in Athens touring amazing buildings and ruins from 2,500 years ago and hiking up to impressive heights.
Yesterday was more low key. We strolled through a massive street market of 95% fruits and vegetables and 5% stinky fish, picking up some produce and swinging by Lidl to grab some donuts for an afternoon snack and groceries for dinner. I also spent way too much time telling this tale about how I almost didn’t make it here at all.
We might have gotten out and done some more sightseeing yesterday as we are heading to a different country this morning, but the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. Around noon, the rain started coming down and I heard the crack of distant thunder.
And you know what you get when there’s thunder in Athens?
You’re welcome. #dadjoke
p.s. Everything above is 100% true, including the thunderstorm. I apologize for writing 1,100 words to get to the terrible punchline.
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An Update from Origin
As an investor in the IncomePlus Fund, I get regular updates on the performance and status of the fund from Origin Investments. These come in the form of emails a little more than a month after the end of the month they’re reviewing. Hence, a “November update” in January. The highlights:
- 0.8% total return over the month of November
- 19.3% total return over the last 12 months ending November 2021
Monthly Total Returns (% Net of Fees)
- Thirty-three consecutive months of distributions since inception.
- Rent collections for our operating properties averaged 96.2% during November, above the National Average of 93.1%.
- The average LTV and debt-service coverage ratios for the Fund’s common equity investments are 56.08% and 1.70x, respectively.
- Occupancy in November averaged 93.8%, 360 basis points above the occupancy in November 2020. Recent competitive trades suggest increases in property valuations driven by compressing yields and improving operating fundamentals. Within our common equity portfolio, we are achieving rents that are 6% above the average rent under lease. As we roll leases to the higher rent level, we expect the property values to continue appreciating.
I was fortunate to have my capital called in the fall of 2020, just as the COVID uncertainty for the real estate market was waning and returns were strengthening. I calculate my IRR to be just a shade under 17%. I’m invested for the long haul, and in 2022, I expect to enjoy tax-neutral distributions of nearly $1,400 a month.
You can learn more about Origin Investments, this fund, and additional private real estate funds they offer here.
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Have an outstanding week!
-Physician on FIRE