Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year

Welcome to 2019 everyone! I wish you a happy new year.

Holidays are winding down. People are leaving those precious few weeks of holiday spirit and returning to the world of work and worry.

I write in this blog for myself as much as for anyone who might read this. I don't get much feedback, so sometimes I feel alone here, prattling on into the void of the internet.

You too? Are you there?

By far the most comments are people concerned about their financial future. I'm right beside you on that one. I'll start this week posting about my thoughts on finances. Everything I write is free, so feel free to read and please feel free to comment.

Accidentally cross-posted on my Author blog site, 

Vince HableDecember 30, 2018 at 10:24 AM 
So my question to you is. Are there any good books out there that are worthy of reading about like what ted baumann spoke of

That's a good question. Baumann's book is not a bad read, but it doesn't seem to apply to most of us, to the people I know.

Who are we?

We're in retirement, or close to it. I chose to retire from all the corporate drudgery a few years ago and haven't looked back.

We have a few hundred thousand in IRAs or 401Ks. We know the government wants to get their hooks into our money, and we're worried about it. They'll do it by saying they are only here to help...

We have some money in savings accounts that pay almost no interest. Funny thing is, once you put your money in the bank, the bank seems to think it belongs to them. Darling withdrew two thousand dollars the other day for an upcoming trip. The teller had to get the bank manager and the bank acted as if this sort of thing just shouldn't happen; people shouldn't ask for their money in cash.

It's not the bank's money, but they now think it is. When I was young, banks were havens for cash and gave us reasonable interest rates, and treated us as valued customers. Now they report suspicious activities to the government. Activities like wanting our cash.

I remember duck and cover drills when I was in elementary school.

I remember neighbors that smiled at me as I walked by, and called my Mom if they saw me doing something wrong.

I remember a government that kept their hands out of our pockets and did the business that governments were supposed to do: 

establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity.
Wow. Happy memories. For those of us in the USA, I think there is a rocky road ahead.

I guess I'm done ranting for now.

I'll close with this. Our God is an awesome God. He reigns in heaven regardless of what happens in our lives. I hold onto that and look to the peace it gives me.

I don't know how people without Jesus in their lives can make it through the day. 

Finances, government, religion ...

There. I hit all the hot buttons.

I do wish you joy and peace in this New Year. 

Friday, December 28, 2018

Financial Clarity - There isn't any

Okay, so let me be clear up front.

I'm no financial analyst. I rely on what other people - much smarter people - write. I rely a little on gut feelings, but not so much any more. I also rely on prayer.

Yes, you heard that rightly. I do pray about finances. Why not? Jesus solved Peter'a concern over government taxes by having a fish cough up some coin. Do it again, Lord, and I'll be fishin' every day!

Let's face it - the USA is going to get hit by some sort of financial crisis. Everyone knows it. Heck, the government is partly shut down right now, though I hear the congressmen are still getting paid.

Darling and I wrote a book in October of 2012 warning of the Fiscal Cliff - what it was and how it might impact us and some thoughts on how to prepare for it. (The post is here.)

We expected the government to get in gear and solve at least some of the problems. It didn't  happen. We elect these folks to go to DC and work for us and I'm still not sure what they do there. All the problems we faced in 2012 are still with us, and the USA has more on top of it.

I have no idea what to do about any of it. Hunker down and buy a year's worth of MREs and prepare for riots and looting? That's probably extreme.

Where to put your money so it grows. That's the real question. Normal people like Darling and I cannot really invest millions in overseas investments that might give us some true diversification.

What I'm saying is - you can't rely on many of the newsletters out there that want your subscription. They will take your money and give you bland advice that you cannot really follow.

I've signed up for at least eight of these, and lost money on every one. Sure, I lost less on some and more on others, but the fact is - THEY DON'T KNOW EITHER.

They have millions to send to Hong Kong (a favorite spot for high-end investors) and can buy distressed businesses in Australia or even buy up parts of Puerto Rico, where tax laws currently make good sense for USA investors.

Us normal folks cannot.

What can we do?

I invest they bulk of my money in Synchrony Bank. (I don't work for them and have no affiliation with any bank.) I just looked and they pay 2.2% APR versus 0.11% at Chase (for example).

0.11%! That's nuts. I might as well keep my money in the mattress. Better yet, buy some gold coins and keep them in my mattress.

The stock market? Bah. I do well in it simply because I'm in it so seldom. I have a very few stocks I own and hold. All the rest I sold over a month ago when it felt like the market was going to tank. And it did.

"Oh, just hold on to it and it will come back." I lost over $50K in my IRA because of that advice and I'll never deal with them again. The people that made money on that deal were the ones selling me that deal.

Nobody cares about YOUR money like you do. Ever.

Can I explain why the market plummets and rises? Nope. I know most stocks are currently overpriced, and some (like Netflix and Facebook, two darlings of the market) are simply insane.

I'll write more later, but my advice is simple. Don't play the market unless it is with money you can lose and not cry about.

Will you miss that next big thing? Maybe, but probably not. Those newsletters that work that angle are playing on your fear of missing out.

They want YOUR money. Don't fall for it.

Finally, and just so we're all clear on this. I write on this blog about things and interest me, confuse me, irritate me or I write simple ponderings.

This is not a financial newsletter, but we all talk about money, don't we? Join in. I'm not the smartest cookie in the animal crackers, but I sure can listen.... Well, read, I guess.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Merry Christmas to all

If you read much of my blog, you know I am a follower of Jesus Christ. I don't put a religion on that label. Paul even says in 1 Corinthians not to be divided, but be united in Christ (I'm paraphrasing, of course).

Having said this:

Merry Christmas to all, and a blessed New Year.

The finances of our country are in peril, but I'll address those issues in future posts, and I'll try to be more consistent and provide some useful advice. In the meantime, you could check out the book we wrote on the Fiscal Cliff, which is still relevant.

God bless you all.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Fallout 76 Christmas

Look what my friend Rex (TXTRex) made for me for Christmas. He 3D printed it and painted it. What a guy!

The game? Still a game I hate to love - barely playable. Why did Bethesda not talk to the Ark developers when they put this together?

Darling is playing now, so it makes it more fun to kill Super-Mutants with her.

Merry Vault-Tec Christmas everyone!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Fallout 76 SPECIAL

Choosing Perks in the new incarnation of Fallout really confused me. I ended up making three characters until I finally figured it out.

You're choosing TWO attributes when you select a Perk, so be careful.

The first selection is from the list of SPECIAL categories. Scroll left and right and you see all your favorites for Fallout: Strength, Perception, Endurance, Charisma, Intelligence, Agility and Luck.

When the selection pops up on your screen, your default selection is Charisma, because it's the one in the middle of the list.

I didn't think it mattered and selected Charisma just to get to the cards - and ended up with 11 points in the Charisma category of SPECIAL.

So that first click selects the SPECIAL category to which you are allocating a point for your Perk.

You DO NOT have to choose a card from that category, though that is the default when the next selections show up. Using Z and C lets you scroll through all your available cards.

For example, suppose you know you want to get the card for Strong Back, which isn't available until level 26. You'll need a point in Strength to use it, so you might allocate that point at a lower level and then choose another card in a category.

I have cards for crafting Armor and Weapons, but I only equip them when I am at my home base. I have a card that has me consume less water and food when I'm at my base, but I only equip that when I'm home, not when I'm wandering. 

When questing in Fallout, I can remove those cards from what I'll call my Active Deck (across the top of the page) and put cards in there that help me fight and survive. 

The cards let you have multiple builds for different roles, which is the intent.

I didn't understand that I was making two selections until I played with the system a while, so I ended up making a new character.

So far, great game. Have fun out there.