The Sunday Best (2/9/2020)

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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.

Fidelity FIRE

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.

Related topics that have become recurrent themes include early retirement, selective frugality, tax issues, travel, physician issues, and of course, investing.

For more great articles, take a peek at The Sunday Best Archives. Now let’s get to the best… The Sunday Best!

 

 

Sunday Best

 

The Sunday Best

 

Instead of asking how to pay for college or how much to save for your children’s higher education, maybe you should ask whether or not you should pay anything at all. No, this has nothing to do with any political proposals. From His and Her FI, I went to college for free at 15. Your kids can too. [if they’ve got the brains, that is]

 

We’re doing our best to give our kids a thorough education as we show them the world. My lovely wife returns with her second guest post to answer a question we’re commonly asked. Worldschooling: How Our Children are Educated as We Travel.

 

We’re also giving our kids a financial education, something some people don’t receive until a few decades later. Educator FI shares their story at Camp FIRE Finance. Clueless at 40 to Financially Independent by 50.

 

Black Tee Money had this FI thing figured out well before 40. How’s the FIREd life going thus far? Our First Year On FIRE – Budget and Net Worth Results After The First Year of Early Retirement.

 

The Chase Sapphire Preferred Card

Chase_Sapphire_Preferred

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is my top pick for your first rewards card. It offers a welcome bonus worth at least $750 when used to book travel (after a $4,000 spend in 3 mo) and other great perks you can learn about here.

 

 

Dr. Cory S. Fawcett of Financial Success MD has been making smart financial decisions for decades. In his mid-fifties, he made the decision to leave surgery and the O.R. in his motorhome’s rearview mirror. Does he miss wielding the scalpel? Three Years Retired from Surgery and All’s Well with my FIRE Life.

 

Not to be outdone, the Leisure Freak celebrates 10 years of early retirement with a guide to avoiding FIRE’s potential pitfalls. How to Avoid Early Retirement BackFIRE.

 

I’m not too concerned about my early retirement backfiring. Should we be concerned about the not-so-early retirees as they start drawing down their portfolios en masse? Ben Carlson injects A Wealth of Common Sense into the conversation. Will Retiring Baby Boomers Crash the Stock Market?

 

Speaking of stock markets crashing, Japan’s 225 Nikkei index now sits at 40% below its 1989 peak. That’s over 30 years with a negative return. What went wrong and could it happen to U.S. investors? John Lim gives us a Crash Course at the Humble Dollar.

 

Got more retirement questions? Fritz Gilbert, the author of the Retirement Manifesto, is your guy. 10 Most Common Retirement Questions…Answered!

 

 

Want to supplement your retirement income? Become an Airbnb host and you could see some nice cash flow. I was surprised at how little capital it took to get this side gig going. How to Generate Over $5,000 Per Month With One Airbnb Property.

 

If you’d like to invest in real estate in a more passive manner, you may be interested in crowdfunded opportunities, syndicated deals, or real estate funds. Passive Income MD shares 3 Important Things to Know About a Sponsor Before Investing.

 

While you’re keeping things simple, set up some easy automations to improve your bottom line. Paying Yourself First – 6 Ways to Automate Your Financial Life from The Physician Philosopher.

 

Some things are best kept difficult. Like letting others take your money, for example. The FI Physician outlines Asset Protection for Physicians Through the Life Stages. Be sure to cover your assets!

 

Diamond Status and WCICon 2020

 

Have you heard of status matching?

I hadn’t until recently, but I was quick to jump on a pretty cool opportunity that will be worth at least a couple hundred dollars when I visit Las Vegas next month for the 2020 White Coat Investor Physician Wellness and Financial Literacy Conference. That’s a mouthful and a half, so I’ll call it WCICon20 from now on.

By the way, if you want to join us, pretty much everyone on the waiting list for the conference has gotten in, so there may be a spot open for you.

Back to the status matching. I am now a card-carrying member of Hilton Honors’ Diamond status by virtue of having spent $40,000 on my Hilton Honors Surpass card last year.

That’s cool and all, but the official hotels for WCICon20 are Paris and Bally’s, which are Caesars properties and there’s not a Hilton all that close by.

Does Caesar’s match Hilton Honors members’ Diamond status? No, but… there’s a two-step process that will get you Caesars Diamond status and some valuable perks that come with it. It’s a bit like the backdoor Roth two-step process, but even more straightforward.

The key to unlocking Caesars Rewards Diamond status is their relationship with Wyndham Rewards. Hilton does have a status matching agreement with Wyndham.

The first step is to create a Wyndham Rewards account and enter your Hilton Honors info here for the status match. Within a few days, you’ll receive a message that looks like this.

 

Wyndham_Status_Match

 

You’ll only have the status for 90 days unless you stay at a Wyndham resort for 14 days during that timeframe. That’s alright. We’re only getting the status as a go-between for the Caesars upgrade.

Note that you can also status match to Wyndham from other hotel loyalty programs, including Marriott Bonvoy, IHG, and Radisson if you hold a status that would be considered equivalent to Diamond. I can only report on Hilton Honors, as that’s the only place I currently hold a lofty status.

Once you have Wyndham Diamond status, you can easily be granted Caesars Diamond status. Request that here. It will be good until January 31st of next year.

Within a few days, you’ll be a Caesars Rewards member with Diamond level status. Why should you care?

 

Caesars_Diamond

 

Perks of Caesars Rewards Diamond status:

  • $100 “celebration dinner” in Las Vegas: you can choose from dozens of restaurants including several at the WCICon20 hotel restaurants. Complete list here.
  • 2 free tickets to one of any number of shows each month.
  • No resort fees at Caesars hotels, including Paris & Bally’s.
  • For a complete list of additional benefits by tier level, visit Caesars Rewards.

 

Those are pretty sweet benefits for just a little bit of trouble if you’ve already got Hilton Honors Diamond status or equivalent status with one of several other hotel chains. Care to join me for a really expensive dinner that none of us will be paying for?

If you’d like to work on earning that status (several premium cards come with instant status), check out your options for hotel co-branded credit cards at our partner CardRatings. As always, I will donate half of my profits from any referral fees!

 

Click on this link to Join Curizon and you'll also be entered into a drawing for an additional $250 to be awarded to one new registrant referred by Physician on FIRE this month.

 

Seven Days to the Barcelona Half Marathon

 

Are you as tired of hearing about this as I’m tired of training for it?

I knew it!

Actually, it’s been great and it feels odd to go more than a day or two without running. Or at least I think it would, but I wouldn’t know. I’ve been at this three or four times a week since late last year.

I am taking this week off, though. I’ve had some nagging and increasing medial right knee pain. It goes away after I’ve run a couple of miles, but it’s with me most of the non-running days, especially the day after.

I’ve also got some new left foot pain, which my truly brilliant wife hypothesized is likely due to some compensation I’ve made to accommodate the pain on the right.

Anyway, I plan on doing plenty of walking as we continue to explore beautiful Barcelona, but I plan on no actual running until the actual event one week from today.

I actually had a good week on the pavement, despite a little bit of pain here and there. The 5k, in particular, made me happy. I was a younger, even skinnier man the only time I’ve run faster than that.

 

Barcelona_running

 

A course designed to help you meet your financial goals, guided by an educator who is on track to meet his family's goals 10 years out from training. Check out MD to Financially Free Open now to 6/10.

Bonus: Attend his webinar, The 3 Myths to Finding Financial Freedom & Dr. Turner will give you his book for free!

 

Have an outstanding week!

-Physician on FIRE

Physician on FIRE has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Physician on FIRE and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers.

 

18 thoughts on “The Sunday Best (2/9/2020)”

    • Such a great place to wander. The streets and alleyways in the Old Town are fun and full of surprises. My parents have enjoyed their time with us here, and tomorrow we visit Parc Guell and La Sagrada Familia!

      Best,
      -PoF

      Reply
  1. Subscribe to get more great content like this, an awesome spreadsheet, and more!
  2. The AMEX Aspire gives you Hilton Diamond without any spend minimums and also offers a wide range of additional benefits that are likely worth it in your travelling adventures!

    Reply
    • That’s one of the premium cards I was referring to. The Bonvoy Brilliant would be another.

      We’ve already got the Chase Sapphire Reserve with a hefty annual fee — I can’t see us ponying up for multiple premium cards at this point. Maybe when we’re empty nesters using hotels more often. Now, it’s mainly Airbnb, but I’ve got a couple of conferences I’ll be attending where I’ll be staying at Hilton properties in 2020.

      Cheers!
      -Pof

      Reply
  3. Great Sunday Best as always PoF! I always enjoy the articles you curate for us. In particular, my favorite had to be “Crash Course” this week.

    A crash like the Nikkei had in 1989 could totally happen here. The potential definitely exists, which is why I tend to be a more cautious investor than most.

    Cheers and enjoy Barcelona!

    Reply
  4. Hi PoF!
    I’m glad you enjoyed my recent post on HumbleDollar.
    Looking forward to next month’s WCI conf in Vegas. Should be lots of fun.
    Keep up the great work!
    John

    Reply
  5. Hey PoF! The Hilton Aspire card does have a hefty annual fee of $450. But the $250 resort credit, $250 airline fee credit, and free night certificate (to any hilton including Conrad and Waldorf Astoria) make this card worth it. It pays for the annual fee and more. Here’s my experience with the card.

    Reply
    • Yeah, the value just isn’t there for me.

      I’m usually spending nothing on airline fees — generally don’t check a bag but might if we’re flying Delta since I have a Gold card that covers checked bags. But even then, it’s not usually worth the hassle. We’re in Spain for two months with carry-ons and we could travel lighter.

      We’re not resort types, either, and with just 230 places to use that Hilton resort credit in the world, I don’t see that happening most years. Maybe if they gave a $250 credit towards any of their properties, I’d be more interested.

      I get the same free night with the Surpass card when I spend $15k on the card, too, and I’ve now got the Diamond status, as well, from the $40k spend. We’ll see how much I enjoy the added perks. I have intentionally booked Hilton properties for three conference trips this year (after WCICon in Vegas, St. Louis for Financial Freedom Summit, and FinCon in San Diego).

      Glad it’s working well for you and yours, though! Maybe I’ll switch at some point, but right now, the CSR is my only premium card.

      Cheers!
      -PoF

      Reply
      • Ah, I see. All that definitely makes sense. It’s definitely hard to use those credits with your current life situation and travel style. The easiest way to try to redeem the airline fee credit is for fares under $100. One potential easy way is to take short, cheap flights with Southwest, maybe Minneapolis to St. Louis for example. But you’re right, it might be more hassle for what it’s worth.

        I was wondering why you put $40k spending on a card like the Hilton Surpass. I know you’ll earn a free night certificate and Diamond status. But other than that, the earning rate isn’t super. Running the numbers, do you think it’s worth the opportunity cost of not putting all that spending on a straight 2% cash back card (or equivalent) in which you could have had $800 cash to spend on anything you wanted? I’m genuinely curious about your rationale analysis :).

        Thanks!

        Reply
        • That is a neat trick with the cheap flights counting as “fees.”

          The Points Guy considers Hilton points to be worth 0.5 cents, so the 3 points per dollar is 1.5% back. It’s double at restaurants and quadruple at Hilton (plus the additional bonus points from being a HH member). Tack on the value of Diamond status (somewhere in the hundreds) and the free hotel weekend night (low to mid hundreds), and it seems like a pretty good deal. 2% cash back would be simpler, but not necessarily more valuable.

          All that said, I’ve done more analysis in hindsight than beforehand — I just figured I’d use the card to get the diamond status and see what all the fuss is about. Last year, I paid ~$600 to be upgraded to a 1000 sq ft suite at the Washington Hilton for FinCon. With Diamond status, that may have been a free upgrade.

          Cheers!
          -PoF

        • I guess it makes sense. But I just couldn’t see you spending a majority of that $40k on restaurants and Hilton hotels to fully maximize those bonus categories. It would make more sense to put restaurant and hotel spend on your Chase Sapphire Reserve card since TPG values Ultimate Rewards points at 2 cents per dollar which would earn an effective 6% back in these categories with the 3x bonus multiplier. This is better than the Hilton Surpass. Even at Hilton hotels since 6% back as Ultimate Rewards points is fare more flexible and valuable than 6% back as Hilton Honors points. You would also come out ahead with non-bonused spending too using the Reserve card since you’ll earn an effective 2% back (considering TPG’s valuation) versus 1.5% back on the Hilton card. There are a few other cards you would get even more value from un-bonused spend such as the Freedom Unlimited (1.5x back in UR points), Amex Blue biz Plus (2x back in MR points), and Citi Double Cash (2x back in TY points); all points that are more valuable than Hilton honors points.

          I hope you get a lot of value from Hilton Diamond status. In my experience, it’s not a whole lot better than Gold status and definitely not spending $40k on a single card for. Free suite upgrades are only given on check-in and are based on availability. I highly doubt you would have been given a free suite upgrade at the Washington Hilton. I’m Hilton Diamond status and I tried… but I was only given a room with a higher floor and a preferred view, but now suite.

          Did you pay for your upgrade upon checking in or beforehand?

  6. Oh yeah, and enjoy Barcelona! It’s one of my favorite cities. I’m going back with the baby, family, and extended family. We’re taking 20 of my family members on a western Mediterranean cruise that sets sail from Barcelona. Can’t wait.

    Actually, there is a Hilton semi-close to the Paris hotel. The Waldorf Astoria Las Vegas is a Hilton hotel and it’s just across the street from Las Vegas Boulevard. I’m staying there with my family. And I convinced Vi and his family to book a stay there too. It’l be fun! Looking forward to seeing you at WCI Con in a month. 🙂

    Reply

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