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Achieving Healthy Smile From Cosmetic Dentistry

smileYour smile is one of the first physical attributes people notice about you; shouldn’t you make it stand out? Cosmetic dentistry can help you achieve that healthy, beautiful smile that will turn heads!

To obtain a beautiful smile and maintain your excellent oral health care, it is imperative that you find a dental professional you trust. Ask for recommendations from friends and family, and do some research on the doctor. Check the dentist’s accreditations and affiliations, as well as his or her expertise. Visit the dentist’s website and if you are looking for a cosmetic dentist, view the gallery of patients before and after their procedures to see samples of the doctor’s work, and schedule a free consultation, if available. Make sure to ask questions to ascertain whether or not this dentist is the one you want to work with. Once you have settled on your dental professional, the next task is determining the cosmetic procedures necessary to achieve your desired result.

Need a little confidence boost? Teeth whitening is an easy, relatively inexpensive way to change the look of your smile. Have stains from coffee, red wine, smoking or tea? Simple bleaching or whitening can have a dramatic effect on the aesthetic appeal of your smile. These products contain some type of peroxide and the amount varies from product to product. In-office professional teeth whitening such as ZOOM! BriteSmile, and Rembrandt use a whitening gel and ultraviolet light to take your teeth to a lighter shade and to remove stains. KOR deep bleaching is a product that is more expensive than the others but can lighten your smile by 16 shades! Also, the results with KOR are permanent while other whitening options require continued maintenance. Want to try whitening your teeth at home? Dentist near Edmond can give you recommendations for the best at home whitening including gels, toothpaste and whitening strips. Used correctly and consistently, whitening offers a stunning, white smile to you give you the added self-confidence to show off that smile! It’s an uncomplicated, economical way to transform your smile from dull to dazzling!

If your teeth are chipped or your smile could use a little help to be extraordinary, dental bonding is also an inexpensive option to discuss with your dentist. Bonding is just what it sounds like—tooth colored resin is bonded to the tooth and hardened with a high intensity curing light. It can be used to fix chips or cracks, close gaps between teeth, replace silver fillings or even change the entire shape of the tooth. In addition to being one of the most economical cosmetic dental procedures, it is also one of the fastest: each tooth can be bonded in just 30 to 60 minutes in office. The two drawbacks to bonding is that the bonding material can chip so it is best to avoid chewing on ice or hard foods; and bonding material only lasts between three and ten years, depending upon your oral health care. However, bonding can be an excellent way to make your teeth more attractive, even temporarily.

Looking for a more permanent fix to your less-than-perfect smile? Porcelain or resin veneers are thin, custom made covers that are applied to the front of your teeth and then bonded. If your teeth appear too thin, with gaps or chips, veneers can rectify your problem. Veneers can be used to change the color, shape, size or length, dramatically changing your smile! Your dentist will place temporary veneers on your teeth while the permanent veneers are constructed in a dental lab. Once the veneers are bonded to your teeth, they are permanent, making them an excellent choice to achieve the smile you have always wanted!

A simple way to even out your smile is enamel shaping or contouring. If your teeth have an uneven edge or are slightly overcrowded, your dentist can correct those small imperfections by gently reshaping the tooth or teeth in question. If your teeth look fine, but your gums take away from your perfect smile, gum reshaping might be an alternative to consider. If you have a “gummy” smile, one that makes your teeth appear smaller, the gum line can be changed to one or several teeth to expose more of the enamel, which “lengthens” the teeth and improves the overall smile. A discussion with your dentist will determine whether these procedures are right for you.

Considering replacing a silver filling with a tooth colored crown, but don’t want to invest a lot of time? Ask about CEREC one day crowns and see if you might be a candidate for this advancement in cosmetic dentistry. The first step is having the dentist examine the tooth and prepare the tooth for restoration. Your tooth will then be coated with a safe, tasteless powder and then photographed with a special digital 3D camera to create an optical impression. If you always hated the goopy impressions involved with crowns, this new technology makes that a thing of the past. The tooth is then designed on Computer Aided Design (CAD) software, down to the very last detail. This ensures the snug fit of the crown once it is placed. When the rending is complete, it is sent to an onsite milling machine and it makes the restoration within minutes. The new crown is fitted, then polished and bonded into place. No need to wait for a new restoration; a new one can be ready in less than an hour!

Dental implants are a procedure that is changing peoples’ lives. Whether you have lost a tooth or teeth to dental decay or an accident, a brand new tooth can be put in its place, reserving the integrity of your smile. It’s like growing new teeth! A titanium screw is attached to the bone of the missing tooth and a fabricated tooth is attached to an abutment, securing the crown to the implant. If well cared for, implants can last a lifetime! They also look, feel and function just like natural teeth. If you are missing one or more teeth, discuss dental implants with your dentist to see if you are a candidate for this revolutionary procedure.

An investment in your smile can last a lifetime, so having a smile makeover to put your best mouth forward might be worth the time and money involved. Discuss with your dentist your aesthetic goals, budget, and options to determine the cosmetic services to best reach your desired results. A combination of efforts can take an unflattering smile and turn it into your best feature.

Fundrise eFunds: An Innovative Way To Invest In Your Future Home

Fundrise eFund Review: An Innovative Way To Invest In Your Future HomeWashington D.C. based Fundrise is one of the most innovative real estate crowdfunding platforms today. They were the first to create the eREIT, a real estate fund that uses crowdfunding regulations to provide access for  non-accredited investors to invest in private real estate across the country. Then they invented the “Internet Public Offering,” where the company directly raised over $14.6 million from 2,300+ Fundrise customers in a matter of 27 hours.

When they contacted me to sponsor a post about their new eFunds offering, I had to oblige as a real estate enthusiast who loves to learn new things.

What Is A Fundrise eFund?

An eFund is a brand new type of investment that allows you to invest directly into a diversified portfolio that aims to develop new homes for the next generation of American homebuyers in major US cities.

Imagine being able to invest in the renovation or construction of a home in downtown Los Angeles. If your life circumstances are right, several years from now you go ahead and exercise your right to buy. If you don’t want to settle down in LA because you found a better job in Austin, you can sell your position for a potential profit. Or, you can remain invested and continue to enjoy the benefits of diversification. This is a good solution that smartly aligns investment and lifestyle goals.

So many folks are getting shut out of buying in expensive cities such as San Francisco, LA, San Diego, Seattle, New York, and Washington D.C. due to a lack of supply and soaring home prices. I cannot imagine what SF rent and its median home price will be in 22 years when my son graduates from college, hence my reluctance to sell.

Actually, I know the exact figures for both rent and purchase. A $4,200/month 2/2 condo with parking will cost $6,493 a month in 22 years if rent grows at 2% a year. If rent grows at 3% a year, the condo rent surges to $8,048/month! The same condo that costs $1,100,000 today will cost $1,700,558 if it appreciates by 2% a year and $2,107,774 if it appreciates by 3% a year.

Folks, please don’t rent forever. You will regret it 20 years from now. You’ll also start getting upset at your parents for not buying way back when. There is no time machine. There is only inflation. Pay attention to the angst the home buying demographic is feeling today.

How The eFund By Fundrise Works

The Old Solutions To Buying A Home

In the past, there were really only two independent ways to save for a home:

1) Set up a home buying savings account. You’d come up with a realistic home you’d like to buy sometime down the road, multiply the price by 20%, and calculate how much and how long you’ll need to save until you can finally achieve the goal. The only problem with this method is that real estate tends to appreciate over time, while a money market account barely pays interest thanks to the Fed.

If your $500,000 target home appreciates by 2%, your $100,000 salary must appreciate by 10% to just stay even. Given that most people aren’t seeing steady 10% annual raises, it’s no wonder why it’s become difficult to get ahead of the home buying curve. As a result, home savers try to take on more risk or save a larger percentage of their income.

2) Invest in riskier assets that aren’t perfectly correlated. Investing in the stock market works over the long term. We’re talking 7% – 10% average returns over the past 50+ years. But sometimes the stock market corrects just when you plan to use the proceeds (e.g. retirement, education, a house, remodeling, etc.). Sometimes your stock picks turn into duds. The multiple corrections over the past 20 years have scared many would be investors into avoiding stocks altogether and holding cash and bonds instead. In fact, only ~52% of Americans own stocks.

If you have some gains from the stock market, do your best to regularly convert some of the “funny money” into real assets like real estate. I know too many people in 2000 and 2008 who lost almost all their gains if not everything.

The eFunds solution is smart because your investment is perfectly correlated with what you care about. Currently, Fundrise has two eFunds, one in Washington D.C. and one in Los Angeles with more to come if everything works well. On the respective pages, you’ll see their general arguments for why investing in D.C. or LA is a good idea.

If you’re planning to buy a home within the next five years and want to establish roots in Washington D.C. or LA, it’s worth digging deeper. You know that demand outstrips supply due to tremendous job growth and under-building over the years. If you’ve ever made an offer on a house, you know the anxiety that comes with realizing someone can trump you with a sweeter offer. Therefore, if you can invest in something that looks good to you now and later have the optionality of either buying a house in the project or potentially profiting by letting the eFund sell the house to other buyers, then that’s an attractive value proposition.

Final Thoughts To Consider

Fundrise eFund cost and investing time horizon

Due to regulations, each eFund can only raise up to $50 million. Therefore, each fund will be limited in the number and type of investments it makes and the value of your investment in an eFund will fluctuate with the performance of the specific assets it acquires. You don’t want to be greater than 20% of the fund’s size for diversification purposes. Therefore, it’s good to ask how the fundraising is going before locking up capital for approximately five years.

As with any investment, it’s always good to start small and work your way up. With a minimum investment of $1,000 for non-accredited investors, that’s small enough to cause minimal damage if things don’t turn out as hoped. A 0.85% annual asset management fee isn’t insignificant, but if the fund can deliver an 8% IRR net of fees and give you the chance to purchase a property you like without having to go through a stressful bidding situation, it’s worth it.

One thing I think could be very interesting is investing the minimum amount it takes to have the optionality to buy a house you want. For example, let’s say you discover that the LA eFund acquired land in a location you like to build a model home that suits your needs. Further, the eFund still hasn’t reached its $50 million cap.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could invest just $1,000 to reserve a spot on the purchase list when the project is done a couple years from now? We’ve talked about the importance of predicting the future to get rich. Investing just $1,000 for the option of buying in an area that might turn hot seems very attractive.

I am continuously impressed with Fundrise’s forward-thinking ways. My only wish is that they open up a satellite office in San Francisco so we can go get a beer and brainstorm about the future of real estate even further. For more information, here’s the general eFund Page.

The information contained herein neither constitutes an offer for nor a solicitation of interest in any securities offering; however, if an indication of interest is provided, it may be withdrawn or revoked, without obligation or commitment of any kind prior to being accepted following the qualification or effectiveness of the applicable offering document, and any offer, solicitation or sale of any securities will be made only by means of an offering circular, private placement memorandum, or prospectus. No money or other consideration is hereby being solicited, and will not be accepted without such potential investor having been provided the applicable offering document. Joining the Fundrise Platform neither constitutes an indication of interest in any offering nor involves any obligation or commitment of any kind. The publicly filed offering circulars of the issuers sponsored by Rise Companies Corp., not all of which may be currently qualified by the Securities and Exchange Commission, may be found at www.fundrise.com/oc.

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Beware Of The Life Insurance Bait And Switch Tactic

Beware Of The Life Insurance Bait And Switch TacticNow that I’m a father, one of the first things I did was call up my life insurance provider to review how much life insurance I have and go through the various term life insurance options.

I was reminded of an existing $1,000,000 term life policy that’s expiring in five years. It was taken out 10 years ago when I was thinking of getting married. I figured, given I had about $1,200,000 in mortgage debt from buying a single family house, it was best to cover such liability so my future wife wouldn’t be financially burdened if I passed.

Now I’ve got 22 years to consider before my son graduates from college. Therefore, I decided to get a quote for a $2,000,000, 25 year term life insurance policy that came out to $181/month with my existing provider. Better to lock down a quote now before anything unhealthy happens, causing my premiums to skyrocket.

Unfortunately, because of the size of the policy, I was required to get my blood drawn, piss in a cup, and do an EKG. I hate getting blood drawn. It’s frankly one of the main reasons why I didn’t want to get a $1,000,000+ policy in the first place. But life insurance isn’t for me, it’s for my family, so I proceeded.

Life Insurance Test Results

The lab technician came to my house and did her thing within 40 minutes. I filled out some forms and checked a box to know whether my blood comes back as HIV positive. What fun it is to wait for potentially life-changing results.

I totally forgot about the life insurance application process for a couple weeks until I got a call from my insurance provider to give me the results. Here’s what he said in a nutshell:

We got your test results back and I wanted to say congratulations for doing so great! You were top rated for 19 out of 20 categories we assess for. For the one category where you were slightly below top rated, your cholesterol came in at 4.6 versus <4.0. You were so close, but due to the results, we cannot give you the Preferred ULTRA rate that we initially quoted, but the Preferred PLUS rate instead. The cost of the Preferred PLUS rate for a 25Y/$2M policy is $226/month.

Damn Gina! Because of not being top rated on 1 out of 20 categories (5%), I have to pay a 25% PREMIUM on my original quote? This seems outrageous. I told them I wasn’t happy with this new price, and then they told me this:

We can do a full body check up in two years, and if your cholesterol goes down to below 4.0, we will honor the original $181/month price. But in order to do so, you must sign up for the policy today at $226/month. Further, we will be contacting your general practitioner to get your medical records for the past several years.

Great, another blood test in two years. Hmm, why do I feel completely unsatisfied with the answer? It’s almost as if I was scammed because I had to go through the uncomfortable process of giving blood. If I didn’t have to go through the process and just got a phone call a week later saying the price had increased due to their background check, I wouldn’t be too annoyed. Then the agent went on:

We will beat any and all providers. Thanks for your time and we’ll be in touch after we have received all your health records.

Don’t Expect To Get The Best Life Insurance Quote

Just like how car dealers advertise the lowest price on a car to lure you in, life insurance providers will quote you the lowest life insurance premium price to get you to commit to the application process. But unlike buying a car, you don’t have to give any blood to even go for a test drive.

If my insurance provider said a 25 year/$2M policy cost $226/month, I may not have bothered with the blood work or mostly likely have gone with a smaller policy to get the figure under $200/month. $226/month = $2,712 a year = $67,800 in life insurance premiums I’ll end up paying over 25 years.

Here are some quotes I got for smaller policies from my existing provider. They said I can always lower my amount and pay less in the future, but I can’t increase my amount. With their new quote, they are basically charging me for the price of a $2.5M, 25 year term policy.

Amount: $1M
Cost: 25 term years – $92/month, 20 years – $62/month

Amount: $1.5M
Cost: 25 years – $136/month, 20 years – $91/month

Amount: $2M
Cost: 25 years – $181/month, 20 years $120/month

Amount: $2.5M
Cost: 25 years – $224/month, 20 years – $149/month

Amount: $3M
Cost: 25 years – $269/month, 20 years $179/month

If you’re looking for life insurance, just expect the premium you are quoted to be higher by 20% – 40% after you do the blood work, if need. If the premium doesn’t rise, consider yourself lucky.

The silver lining about the process is that I didn’t have to leave my home, I got free blood work done, and I know I’m in top shape for 19 out of 20 health criteria they look for (they wouldn’t tell me the categories). Now I can focus on lowering my cholesterol to live a healthier life.

Shop Your Quote Around

Because I shop for life insurance once in a blue moon, I don’t know whether $226/month is a good or bad price. All I know is that it’s 25% higher than what I was originally quoted. Because I’ve been with USAA for almost 20 years, I just trusted them to give me the best quote possible. After all, members have either served their country in the military or are children of those who have served.

To find out whether my USAA quote was competitive, I went onto PolicyGenius to get various 25 year/$2M quotes and compare the results to my original $181/month quote. PolicyGenius is a life insurance marketplace that uses technology to get you the most custom quotes based on all your variables in one place. I’ve met both their founders multiple times and really like the pricing discovery they are providing for their consumers in an incredibly opaque industry.

The process on PolicyGenius took two minutes, but it may take a couple minutes longer if you have a lot of health problems. They came back with 8 quotes, with the following two as the lowest and most appropriate: $170.04/month from Pacific Life and $172.62/month from AIG.

I’m glad that my original $181/month quote wasn’t too far out of line. Now I plan to either go with one of these two providers or use the quotes to have my current provider lower their price since they did say they will beat any price.

PolicyGenius quotes

One Last Life Insurance Twist

There’s one good thing about being born before the internet was born. It’s hard for life insurance companies to know everything about you.

When I was living in Taipei in the early 1980s, I suffered from asthma. The air was terrible back then, and it still is now. One day I woke up with red spots all over my body and I couldn’t breath. I was rushed to the hospital, given an IV, and stayed there for at least one night. When I woke up the next morning, my entire body had turned red!

Not being able to breathe is a scary feeling, and I’m fortunate I haven’t had an asthma attack for over 30 years. A stronger immune system and a cleaner environment must have everything to do with it. Therefore, I would say I no longer have asthma, and will never get asthma again. But just in case, I do have an inhaler in my home.

I was curious to know how my life insurance premium would change if I said I had asthma 31 years ago with no asthma attacks since. Here is the second set of results from PolicyGenius:

Best life insurance premiums after asthma

Suddenly, my $226/month life insurance policy doesn’t look so bad! I assume USAA did all the due diligence they could to find the lowest price possible while still being able to make a profit. They wouldn’t tell me what the other 19 variables were they were checking for so I’m wondering whether I’m supposed to tell them about my asthma attack from when I was 9 years old.

I’m always going to believe that getting life insurance is the right thing to do if you start a family. Just make sure you get the appropriate amount of life insurance for the right price. The internet has helped create better pricing discovery so we don’t get ripped off. Stay healthy my friends! I’ll be making a decision about my new life insurance policy this week.

Related: Life Insurance Needs When Having A Baby

Readers, what are some other examples of bait and switch you’ve experienced when attempting to buy something? Should vendors be more clear? Why do you think life insurers are so opaque when it comes to their underwriting criteria? We know that for getting a mortgage, income, debt, equity, credit score, and a bunch of other things count to help folks prepare. Should we disclose more health information if the insurance providers do not ask?

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Why Settle For A Good Retirement, When You Can Go For A Great One?

Don't settle for a good retirement, go for a great retirement!It’s a worthwhile goal to be great at something – top one percent great. Being a jack of all trades, master of none is an excuse many of us use because we aren’t willing to try harder. We know this, so we settle for good enough. Good enough is good enough if you’re content. But if there’s something bothering you deep inside, then maybe it’s because you know you can do better.

Fritz’s post called Seven Days To A Great Retirement was an insightful read that warmed my heart. It’s actually part two of a three part series that talks about how they decided to simplify life and live more intentionally once they became empty nesters . Given Fritz’s retirement plan is closer to the traditional retirement path, I thought it would be good to share his thoughts on how everyone can live their best retirement lives possible. 

From A Good Retirement To A Great One

My wife and I realized we were Settling For Good.

We weren’t doing it intentionally, but we recognized the signs. We decided to take action. Now, we’re moving toward Great. It’s been a heckuva a few years as we’ve pulled up the anchor (twice!), but we’ve learned some really good lessons from our two downsizing moves in 18 months. We’ve had some bumps along the way, but the bruises are healing and we’re moving on. Toward Great.

View our story as an analogy and focus on the broader issues raised. Think about how you can apply the lessons we’re learning in your own life.

Go For Great!


11 Lessons To Move Your Life From Good To Great


Lesson 1 – Ask Yourself The Question

Stop for a minute, and ask yourself a simple question: Are you “Settling for Good” in your Life, or are you “Pursuing Great”? Regardless of your age, sex or stage of life, you need to ask yourself that question. Do you want Good? Or do you want Great?

Before you can start moving to Great, you’ve got to think about what “Great” means to you, and how it compares to your current life. Are you taking action now to improve your life? What areas of your life can you move to a better place?

Some examples. If you’re….

  • Starting To Make Money...Are you settling for “Good” Money or pursuing “Great” Money?
  • Starting A Career…Do you want a have a “Good” Career or a “Great” Career?
  • Getting Married...Do you want to be a “Good” or “Great” husband or wife?
  • Starting A Family….Do you want to be a “Good” Parent or a “Great” Parent?
  • Buying A House….Do you want a “Good” House or a “Great” House?
  • Designing A Life…Do you want a “Good” Life or a “Great” Life?

The first lesson and the most important thing is to take some time to think about where you want to go. Do that before proceeding to the implementation of Lesson 2.

In our case, we decided it was time to take some action to move our upcoming retirement from Good To Great.


Lesson 2 – Think Long Term

Once you’ve decided on an what you’re going to move from Good To Great, take the next step. First, take a breath. Then, Exhale. In this age of hyperactivity, it’s hard to think much further ahead than the weekend. For Lesson 2, you need to slow down and think about the long term.

Think 5, 10, 20 years out, and imagine what “Great” looks like in your future. Identify the Gap between your current state of “Good” and your ideal state of “Great”. What steps can you take in the next 1 month, 1 year, 5 years to start budging yourself out of your “Settled” state, and begin planning the first step?

Cross The Stream

Think about the steps you could take to get from Here to There, from Good To Great. Imagine it a bit like eyeing out rocks you’re going to use to get across a turbulent stream.

In our case, we recognized 7 years ago that we were drawn to the mountains of North Georgia, near the trailhead for The Appalachian Trail. We started to think about it as a potential retirement location. We were living in the City at the time but knew that’s not what we wanted longer term. Would living in the mountains help us to achieve a “Great” retirement? We decided “Yes”, and we started to dream.


Lesson 3 – Dream

Take some time to dream. This isn’t something you have to have done by tomorrow (or next weekend). Take some time over the next 6-12 months to really think about what you want your life to be. Find ways to explore ideas that interest you, build experiences in the areas you’re thinking about. Experiment.

In our case, we dreamt about living a retired life in the mountains. We booked a cabin rental for a week in October week via AirB-N-B. We started to explore the targeted “great” area, and we thought about where we could live, and what we could do, in retirement.

Related: It’s Always Good To Dream About Living The Dream


Lesson 4 – Take The First Step

After you have an idea of where you want to go, take the first step. Step on that first rock in the stream, and begin to move. Identify something you can do, anything, that will start moving you in the direction you’re trying to go. It doesn’t have to be big, but it has to be something. The goal is to start the ball rolling, the momentum will build later. Just take the first step.

In our case, we took a big first step. We took the plunge and bought a cabin. The Dream was to retire to a cabin, so we knew we had to own a cabin at some point for the dream to come true. The first step, done.


Lesson 5 – Be Creative

Testing out areas that you think may lead to “Great” doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. Find ways to minimize the costs associated with your “trial runs”. If you want a new job, start working on your resume or try a side hustle while you’re still working. We spent a lot of weekends (and weeks) at the cabin before we moved their full time. As you move through Lesson 5, find ways to reduce the expense.

In our case, we really didn’t want the expense of a second home. We were on track for an early retirement, and spending the extra cash was something we wanted to avoid. We experimented with renting our cabin out, perfected the process through trial & error, and ended up with a nice “rental income” side business which totally paid for 5 years of cabin expenses. We were building equity, and not spending a dime. We were also able to enjoy the cabin any time we wanted to since we were managing the rental schedule and simply blocked out weeks and weekends we wanted to use for ourselves.


Lesson 6 – Downsize & Simplify

No matter what area you’re focusing on, find a way to simplify / declutter / dowsize that area of your life. Strip the thing back to it’s bare essentials, the thing that makes it Great. There’s a big movement underway of folks moving their lives to the basics that matter to them. You don’t have to “Go Minimialist”, but realize that “more” is not always the best way to “Great”. Sometimes less is a better path. Think about it in your life, and apply where it makes sense.

In our case, we literally downsized, and sold 30 years worth of belongings in 24 hours. From first-hand experience, I can tell you that really felt good, and was a major step on our move To Great.


Lesson 7 – Be Patient

It can take a lot of steps to get across the stream. Have the patience to hop from rock to rock, and realize you’re working toward longer term dreams. Sometimes it takes longer than you’d like to get there, but take comfort in the fact that you’re moving in the right direction and you’re making progress, however slowly, toward your goal.

In our case, it took us 32 years of work to achieve Financial Independence. We waited 5 years after buying the cabin before we could position ourselves to make the move from The City. Play long ball. Be patient.

Move In Day at our retirement mountain cabin


Lesson 8 – Enjoy The Journey

Recognize it’s a long journey, and don’t pin all of your life’s dreams on the eventual goal. Live a little along the way, and enjoy each day you’re given. Don’t put off everything for tomorrow, but don’t do everything today. Have some balance, but carve out time for fun on your way down the road.

In our case, we knew we wanted to retire earlier than “normal”, but we also wanted our life to be “Great” as we were living it. We were intentional about taking nice vacations every year with our daughter (now 22 and recently married, we’ll never regret those memories we built). We traveled the world (thank you, frequent flier miles), and probably sacrificed a few more years of work for the experience. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Learning to surf in Hawaii, enjoying the journey.


Lesson 9 – Expect Some Lumps Along The Way

Expect your feet to get a little wet as you cross the stream. You’re going to slip on a few rocks. Expect it, and wear some nice wool socks. Be prepared for the lumps, and don’t let them knock you off track (See Lesson 10).

After we completed our “Downsize #1 and became 100% Debt Free!!, we revisited our “Good to Great” strategy and re-evaluated our situation (see Lesson 11). Now that we were living full time in our dream retirement, we noticing some things that “weren’t Great” for our longer term retirement lifestyle dreams. We had to once again decide if we were going to settle for Good, or if we were going to go for Great. We chose Great (again) and made a plan to move once more if we were able to find a “Great Cabin”. We put together our list of criteria, and started our new search.

It was inconvenient, it was a “lump along the way”. That’s ok, it’s part of the process, and we’ll be closer to Great as a result.


Lesson 10 – Adapt, & Overcome

Remain flexible, and realize that your plan’s going to change. Be prepared for it, and meet the challenges with a longer term view on your direction to “Great”. It’s ok to sidestep every now and again, and it won’t hurt you to suffer a few staggers back. The important thing is that you’re always leaning forward, and you know the general direction you’re trying to go.

In our case, we adapted and made the move to buy a second retirement cabin. We found a Great place, and made the purchase. After we moved from our “Good” to our “Great” cabin, we put our “Good” cabin on the market. We got an offer, and we accepted. Things were going great until I got this email from the buyer, which ultimately led to the sale falling apart. The house is back on the market, and we’re continuing to adapt & overcome.


Lesson 11 – Repeat #1

The move to “Great” is a never-ending process. Continue to challenge your situation in life, and check-in from time to time to make sure you’re moving forward on your journey to Great.

In our case, we’re getting closer to retirement. We’re spending a lot of time thinkng about how we’re going to spend our newfound Freedom doing the things that matter the most to us. We’re continually modifying the plan, and we’re working our way across the stream. I suspect we’ll be doing it until the day we die.

Go For A Great Retirement

Life is like a car with no reverse. You can’t change the miles you’ve already driven, but you can change the miles ahead. Figure out what you want from your life. Decide to pursue Great.

Look for ways to apply the 11 Lessons above, and take your first step on that stone in the stream.

Decide to start your journey toward Great.

Your life will be better as a result.

Fritz – The Retirement Manifesto

The post Why Settle For A Good Retirement, When You Can Go For A Great One? appeared first on Financial Samurai.

Ideas For Reinvesting Proceeds After A Home Sale

Ideas For Reinvesting The Proceeds After A House SaleA large financial windfall can either be a joyous occasion or a stressful occasion. It all depends on how well you plan. Because it’s generally easier to spend than to save, I always recommend folks sit on their cash for at least a month before making any moves.

Holding a lot of cash is not a bad thing even in a raging bull market. A cash stash is only stressful if you suffer from an overwhelming amount of greed. Greed can kill your returns because you don’t properly think about the risks. All you think about is how much you could be making from a particular investment class without realizing how much you could lose as well.

In this post, I’ll focus specifically on what to do with the proceeds after a property sale. This post is applicable to any type of large windfall e.g. inheritance, year-end bonus, gift, etc.

The first thing you should do if you find a bag of gold inside an airport locker is to run some financial diagnostics to set up your investment framework.

Questions To Ask Before Reinvesting Your Proceeds

1) How much will the sold house be worth in 5, 10, 20 years? The goal is to come up with a baseline financial target to shoot for. Either use the asset’s historical annual rate of return over a 50 year time period or a risk free rate plus a reasonable premium.

2) What does your net worth allocation look like post sale? Once you find out, you can make a better assessment on where to allocate capital. After an extended period of time, your net worth allocation may skew more towards one asset due to outperformance.

3) How do you feel about the current economic environment? You are either bullish, neutral, or bearish. Make a best estimate of where we are in the cycle by studying previous cycles and extrapolating current data into the future.

4) What are your upcoming financial needs over the next 1, 3, 5, 10+ years? There must be a purpose to investing otherwise there’s no point. The biggest expenses include another home purchase, college tuition, healthcare costs, and retirement.

5) What is your estimated tax liability? There’s no avoiding the tax man. Calculate all the costs involved in selling your house (commissions, taxes, etc), the amount you spent improving your house, and any tax benefits such as the $250K/$500K tax-free profits to figure out your taxable profits. Put that money aside.

Once you’ve answered these questions during your one month+ cooling off period, you’ll have a much clearer sense of how to reinvest your proceeds.

How I’m Reinvesting The House Sale Proceeds

I’ve gone from having $2,740,000 of exposure in one asset in SF with $815,000 in leverage (mortgage) to having ~$1,800,000 in cash after selling.

Here were my initial thoughts after despositing the check.

1) Reduce risk by $815,000 by paying $1,800,000 cash for a different San Francisco single family home. But I’ve already got exposure in San Francisco through my primary residence, a rental condo, and a vacation property in Lake Tahoe. So I’m thinking this isn’t the best idea unless I can find another sweet panoramic ocean view home that has a clear appreciation path to $2,500,000 (39%+) over the next 5 – 10 years.

2) Reduce risk by $815,000 by investing all $1,800,000 in a portfolio of different real estate assets e.g. REITs and real estate crowdfunding projects to keep real estate exposure from falling by only 29%. This is the most sensible move since I’m bullish on real estate long term and I get to diversify from a single home to multiple properties around the country.

3) Find a dream home in Honolulu with a 10,000+ sqft flat lot near the beach. Unfortunately, these homes cost ~$3,000,000 – ~$5,000,000 and we’re not ready to leave San Francisco until its time for my little one to go to kindergarten in 2022. I’ve been searching for a couple years and haven’t found the ideal property at an affordable price.

I usually like to reinvest proceeds in the same asset class while I work on building up greater amounts in other asset classes to get to my desired net worth asset allocation. But after much deliberation, I wanted to focus on de-risking.

When you survive a financial crisis with a relatively large amount of assets that got pounded, you really appreciate second chances to take money off the table. Remember, I took a big risk in 2014 by taking out another $1,000,000 mortgage to buy another property while keeping my previous home as a rental with a $1,000,000 mortgage for three years. Further, I’m unemployed!

Here’s how I’ve reinvested the money so far:

Municipal Bonds: $500,000 into various individual California municipal bonds with a 3% – 4% tax free coupon, which is equivalent to a 4.4% – 5.9% gross yield based on a 32% effective tax rate (federal plus state). I’ve always enjoyed keeping a good amount of low-risk/risk-free investments because it ironically allows me to take maximum risk in my life: moving cities, switching firms, starting a business, retiring early, etc. Target annual return (gross): 5%

Real Estate Crowdfunding: $250,000 into the RealtyShares domestic equity fund, which brings my total to $500,000 + a $10,000 Conshy, Pennsylvania commercial project. The fund made new investments in Virginia, Dallas, Seattle, and Utah. This investment is my way of reinvesting a portion of the proceeds in 100% passive real estate that hopefully has more upside than San Francisco real estate, which has started to slow. Target annual return: 8% vs. their 15% target return.

Stocks: $100,000 into an S&P 500 index ETF IVV and $50,000 into various large cap tech growth stocks. I used the small sell-off in August and early September to allocate capital. I’m not excited about the stock market, so this is more an asset allocation decision. I will be allocating $100,000 into the stock market with every 2% correction, with an assumption the stock market won’t correct by more than 10%. Target annual return: 7%.

Financial Samurai Equity And Bond Investments Snapshot August / September 2017

Snapshot of various buys of iShares S&P 500 ETF and a couple CA zero coupon muni bonds

529 Plan: $35,000 to my son’s 529 plan. I can super fund the plan with $70,000 in one year, but I’m not sure I’ll do so because these long-dated target funds are very aggressive. With an 18 year target date, the fund has a 90%+ weighting in stocks, so this 529 plan is really just a stock fund at this moment. Besides, I have 18 years to reach the limit of $359,000, which should go up in the future. I’m more worried about allocating capital at the top of the market and not being able to legally allocate more if there is a correction.

Financial Samurai 2017 529 college savings contribution

Contributed $30,000 to my son’s 529 plan in two tranches. Have $40,000 left to contribute for 2017

Debt Pay Down: $50,000 was used to pay down a 4.25%, 30-year fixed mortgage on my Lake Tahoe vacation property that can’t be refinanced into a 5/1 ARM for a lower rate. The goal is to pay this debt off completely by 2022 before leaving California.

Total Invested: $985,000 over three months

Total Cash Remaining: $815,000 from proceeds

Return Hurdle: 4% (I estimate the house I sold will increase by 4% a year on average for the next 20 years). $1,800,000 of my equity will turn into $3,944,000 in 20 years at a 4% compounded return, if I cancel out the cost of carrying the $815,000 mortgage (2.35% + 1.2% property taxes + maintenance expenses = a wash).

Estimated Return Of Reinvested Proceeds: 6% (blended rate of return for investments excluding cash). $985,000 will turn into $3,159,008 in 20 years at a 6% compounded return.

Activity Difference: Going from semi-passive income to 100% passive income. Hallelujah!

Rating The Reinvestment Risk

It’s always good to make sure that what you are reinvesting in matches your risk tolerance and financial goals. Here’s my reinvestment risk assessment:

On a scale of 1-10, 10 being super risky and 1 being risk-free, I rate keeping $2,740,000 of exposure in SF real estate with a $815,000 a mortgage an 8. My rental property was valued at ~30X gross annual rent (crazy expensive IMO) after prices rose by 60% since 2012 and I’m already long three other properties in the Bay Area. If this was my primary residence and I had no other properties, I would assign a risk score of 5 for holding on, despite the surge in prices because I have to live somewhere.

I believe there’s a 50% chance the property I sold could decline by 10% ($2,500,000) over the next several years due to an increased supply of luxury condos, a small chance mortgage rates go higher, and a slowdown in hiring. Heck, I may have sold my property for $2,500,000 this year if the buyer threatened to walk away. But I also believe there’s a 70% chance my old SF property will simply appreciate at a rate of 1% – 4% a year forever, just like inflation.

I give my reinvestments a 3 out of 10 in terms of risk. 51% of my reinvestment is in almost risk free investment grade municipal bonds that will pay back their principal plus a coupon over the years. 25% of my reinvestment is in real estate crowdfunding in cheaper markets with higher yields. 20% of my reinvestment is in higher risk equity investments, while the remaining 4% of my reinvestment was used to pay down debt.

Why Still Hold So Much Cash?

Despite not wanting to own any more physical property, I just can’t seem to break my addiction. For 16 years, I’ve been combing the listings and going on open house walks every Sunday. There’s still so much upside for cheaper property on the western side of SF.

I believe there’s a 20% chance I can snag a property for 5% – 10% below fair value because that’s exactly what I did when I bought my current residence in 2014 from a 72 year old part-time realtor who didn’t live in SF. He was the seller’s childhood neighbor in the 60s so they asked him to do them a favor. There are inefficiencies in the real estate market due to out of town sellers, out of town realtors, bad listing timing, bad marketing, inexperienced sellers/realtors and so forth.

Visualizing Reinvesting The Remaining Proceeds

With whatever cash you have left, clearly visualize how you plan to reinvest the proceeds in what time frame. You don’t have to exactly follow your plan, but you should write something out in order to have a good idea when opportunities arise. In my case, I’ve got $815,000 left.

1) Taxes: $100,000 $150,000 set aside for April 2018 (thanks to reader feedback). I’ve actually been looking to buy a Honolulu dream home to do a 1031 exchange once 2014, but couldn’t find the right house.  It’s hard to leave my network in SF and get on a plane before my son turns three.

2) Physical property in SF: All $815,000 if a bargain can be had at a 10% discount to market. Need to have lots of cash to be competitive, unlike my buyer who had to take out a $2,000,000 loan and a $300,000 bridge loan to get the deal done.

2) Municipal bonds: $100,000 if the 10-year yield gets back up to 2.3% and $300,000 if the 10-year yield gets back to 2.5%. Minimum $10,000 a month no matter what happens to interest rates.

3) Stocks: $100,000 for every 2% correction in the market, and up to $500,000 if there is a 10% correction. Minimum $10,000 a month no matter what happens in the market.

4) Debt pay down: $10,000 a month without fail, and $100,000 in 12 months if the 10-year yield doesn’t get to 2.5% and stocks do not correct by 10%.

5) Real estate alternatives: An additional $100,000 – $500,000 by November 2017 in the RealtyShares domestic equity fund because they’ve told me that’s when they will close the fund. I’m waiting until the very end because I want to give as much time as possible to see how their investments do before committing more capital.

Given all the fund’s investments are equity and not debt, it can take years to see any type of returns, which is exactly what I want because of my current high tax rate, especially since I just sold a house.  I plan to have dinner with a member of the investment committee before committing more capital.

Below is a snapshot of my account so far. I’m surprised there’s income already being paid out.

Financial Samurai RealtyShares Investment Dashboard with $510,000

Total investment of $510,000 in various RealtyShares equity deals

It’s Worth Being Patient With Cash

Locking up $310,000 in a 4.1%, 7-year CD from 2007 – 2014 was a suboptimal financial move since the S&P 500 outperformed. But using $246,000 of the $400,000 in proceeds to buy a fixer upper for $1,230,000 in 2014 that has now appreciated to ~$1,650,000 (33%) or ~$2,000,000 (40%) if you include the $180,000 I spent remodeling, was a good financial decision so far. The $426,000 in equity for the downpayment and remodeling has grown to ~$1,160,000 (+176%).

There will always be great opportunities in the future if you have the cash and the courage to take advantage. Not everybody could have bought my house in 2014 because not everybody had a $250,000 downpayment or the desire to look west. When you have cash, you have options.

Besides providing optionality, cash also provides security. You don’t have to worry as much about losing your job, paying for an unexpected medical bill, or seeing your business go down the drain. With less worry, comes more happiness. And happiness is what having money is all about!

Readers, how did you decide to reinvest your house sale proceeds or any financial windfalls? How long did it take for you to deploy all capital? Where are you investing your money now?

The post Ideas For Reinvesting Proceeds After A Home Sale appeared first on Financial Samurai.

Upgrades Made With Technical Support

Outdated Equipment Disposed Of

recycling electronicsWe are excited to announce that our I.T. department has liquidated the old computers and support software and integrated an entire new set of technologies. We had been receiving complaints that support tickets were not being addressed in a timely manner and members were feeling like they were not receiving adequate support from our team. Here is a list of changes we made that should have a positive impact on our online support system.

  1. Liquidated old computers
  2. Recycled outdated electronics
  3. Purchased new hardware
  4. Purchased new software
  5. New training on hardware/software
  6. New support ticket system in place for members

This started out as a simple update to existing software and turned into an entire department overhaul. We had hired an I.T. consulting agent to analyze our process and identify holes in the system where members were falling through the cracks. What we soon found out is that our computers were outdated, hard drives were failing, operating systems were re-booting, and most of the equipment in our “I.T.”  department were so outdated that most of the electronics needed to be recycled, while newer computers were liquidated.

Destruction Day

After a thorough investigation of our equipment and our process, it was time to destroy! CUNA hard drive shredderThe team at https://cdrglobal.com/ came in and changed out the old hard drives to new solid state drives. The old plate drives were shredded into scrap metal with massive industrial onsite hard drive shredders. After CDR Global  destroyed the old drives, they replaced them with new solid state drives. That was only needed on a few salvageable PC towers. The new computers purchased came with the solid state drives.

Recycling

We were pleased to note that a vast majority of our electronics were recyclable and were actually able to recover some of our assets and re-invest in the new hardware. As a member of CUNA we take pride in staying green and minimizing out footprint on the environment when at all possible.

Support System Up And Running

Now that the system has been in place for a little over two months we are excited to reveal that member feedback has improved and support tickets have been managed, addresses, and closed in a time frame that has been acceptable to both us and our members. We will continue to provide our members the most phenomenal support system the financial industry has ever offered.

Caring For Your New Car

How To Care For Your New Car

Purchasing your new carCongratulations, if you are reading this then chances are you have been approved for a new car loan. Buying a new car can be one of the biggest investments made next to home ownership. Wether you are fresh out of college and buying your first vehicle, or you’re retired and enjoying the freedom that comes with it, owning a new car is an exciting experience. The following itemized list are merely some suggestions from us to you. The goal with any new vehicle should be to care for it for the duration of ownership and retain value for resale.

Regular engine maintenance

Caring for and maintaining your engine health should be a major priority for any car owner. Regular oil changes as recommended by the dealership and/or the car manufacturer will help to keep the warranty in place. Most vehicles also have milestone maintenance points. Depending on the make and model of the car, this could be a 10,000 mile servicing that could include belt changes, spark plugs, fluid refills, filter replacements, and more. Maintenance best practices as recommended by the dealership / or manufacturer are recommended.

TIRE ROTATION and break maintenance

Proper tire rotation and break maintenance will increase the life span of your tires. Rotation, balance, and maintaining air tire rotationpressure are all important parts of keeping your tires from wearing unevenly and maintaining consistent tread lines. Rotating tires on new cars should be something that everyone makes a habit of, but when to do it is dependent on how frequently the car is driven, how hard it is driven, the terrain it is driven on, and so on. You can usually get a pretty good idea if you just pay attention and look at your tires on occasion.

Interior and Exterior Maintenance

Caring for your vehicles engine is only half of the maintenance concern for new car owners. Keeping the interior and exterior clean, free of damage, and in pristine condition should be a priority as well. Car DetailingThere are car detailing companies that exist that provide full service exterior and interior detailing services. This could be anything from a wash and a wax, to interior vacuuming and Armor All waxing. Interior leather care should also be considered for vehicles with leather seats. In climates that are extremely hot during the summer, extra attention should be taken when caring for both interior and exterior surfaces on your vehicle. Car detailing can not only prolong the life of your vehicle, but it can help retain resell value when it’s time to sell.

Sandra Made The Move

New Employee Moves From New Jersey To Michigan

Excited to announce the arrival of a new employee we were able to steal from a New Jersey credit union. Sandra is a New Jersey native that has over 15 years experience working for a credit union. While searching for job opportunities online she came across a job offer we had posted in Indeed. After receiving her resume we knew she was the one. sandra moves from new jerseyWe contacted Sandra and had an over the phone interview with her and it seemed like a perfect fit. We flew Sandra out to Michigan for a face to face interview and quickly realized that our initial take on her was accurate, she was a perfect fit for our office. She flew back to New Jersey and began packing for her big move. One thing we do here to facilitate families that move from out of state is that we coordinate the move for them. Everything from locating a packing company, coordinating the shipment of properties, and hiring a moving company. Fortunately Sandra was from the area and had a friend that worked for a local mover. This saved us a ton of time researching local NJ movers. She confirmed that they could handle a long distance move and they prepared her belongings a few weeks after she returned. We flew Sandra back out and gave the moving company instruction for delivery. They delivered her belongings on time and in the same condition that they had left in. We feel fortunate to have taken her from her previous employer and made her one of us. After the chaos of the moved finally settled, Sandra invited all of us in upper management over for a cocktail party. Her new home is beautiful and all her sentimental belongings that she had moved from New Jersey were here with her and you could really tell how proud she was of her NJ roots and the artwork she had displayed from local artists. Our team just got better, and our service just improved. Feel free to stop by and say hello to Sandra. We look forward to seeing you inside the credit union.

Women’s Golf Skirts Give Away

Golf Apparel Give Away

We are excited to announce our golf skirt promotion give away for any new members that sign up between now and the end of the month. With summer approaching it’s time to update your golf attire with this fantastic promotion. We are pleased to have teamed up directly with one of the newest and most popular designers on the market to bring you some of the most trendy designs in women’s golf skirts that exist today.

womens golf skirtsBy signing up for a new member account you will automatically be registered to win a skirt of your choice from one of the leading designers of ladies golf skirts. From ruffled designs, to pleated and sleek, these new garbs are sure to spice up the golf course. But you must sign up for an account with a minimum deposit of $25 dollars to start. A monthly balance of $25 must be kept to avoid account fees. Financial rates may vary.

In addition to the skirt give away, we will also be flying one lucky winner to Hawaii to play on the prestigious Nanea Golf Club in Kailua Kona. The winner will get to take one additional person, all expense paid vacation that includes airfare, hotel, and accommodations for one week. This give away ends this month, so stop by your local credit union today to register for a new account.

Please note that we will not be responsible for food and beverages ordered at the Nanea Golf Club. All food and beverage will be comped however at the hotel including room service and take out. Alcoholic beverages will not be comped, so please prepare to pay and tip the bar tender.

In conclusion, we want to wish all CU members the best of luck on this once in a lifetime opportunity. We are proud supporters of the NWGA and their sponsors.

 

Does Cosmetic Surgery Make You Beautiful?

Now it’s out in the open and a decade ago plastic surgery was quite hush, hush and many people are talking about it. It was previously just for the wealthy and famous and now it is for who can manage it and needs to enhance their look. Its all about altering that part of the body which you do not enjoy whether it be belly, your nose, breasts, chin, the sky is the limit these days. With progress and new techniques in surgical instruments the variety of cosmetic operations is growing annually.

Although, most individuals who receive or need cosmetic surgery have a certain aim to reshape, remove or correct imperfect regions of the body, plastic surgery additionally engulfs added kinds of operation including hand operation and reconstructive, microsurgery, burn treatments. In these kinds of operations restoring or correcting function and form into a particular part of the body is not unnecessary.

In the current society the goal would be to appear, behave and feel lovely and youthful. It’s said that cosmetic surgery has grown by 50 percent since the start of the century. This can be a great increase that shows the reality that folks are obsessed with beauty. With cosmetic surgery of looking youthful and beautiful the dream could be a reality. Select an area to improve and a Oklahoma City plastic surgeon can alter your look for your liking. This occurrence just isn’t restricted to race or sex. Men and girls are getting cosmetic surgery in addition to African American, Hispanic and Caucasian.

Typically the most popular aesthetic operations include abdominoplasty, liposuction, nasal surgery, eyelid surgery and breast augmentation. Without needing to eat healthy or exercise with a great number of operations to select from a man could become an ideal specimen.

Nevertheless, having cosmetic or plastic surgery when you get right down to it isn’t all fun and games. Lots of individuals who have plastic surgery need added operations and become hooked. Having a lot of operations can be harmful to to your own body but also to not only your pocket book. Every time open you run the risk of disease and organ failure.

Make a listing of questions to your surgeon when you’ve got your consultation to reply. Ask your surgeon the benefits and drawbacks of your operation. If you comprehend the dangers involved in advance it’s simpler to make a suitable choice. Have your physician summarize all the steps to your own process and after what you should anticipate and so you realize not only what will be going on during the operation but how long it takes to recuperate. Testimonials with graphics are an excellent means to get a sense of what you should expect after surgery. Request your physician if he’s any from previous customers.

Sadly plastic surgery is getting a quick fix for those who are not happy with themselves. It’s these individuals who desire to always have operation after operation and are never pleased. After you’ve had plastic surgery taking yourself can be comparatively simple or hard. Remember that you’re still that same individual even if you’ve had important changes. Operation does not alter the interior we should not rely on a scalpel to make us beautiful and it just alters the outside.