Why I don’t use Zillow

One major part of a lot of people’s networth is the value of their home.  We put down $250k on our latest home, but have we increased our networth?

We purchased our home for $665k and back in late 2013 and even then it appraised for $745k.  Anyone in real estate will tell you it is a very rare to have an appraiser value your home for almost $80k more than the purchase price.  Mainly because the appraiser is clued into what the contract price is and tries to make a landing in the general area.  I can think of two reasons one’s appraisal can be significantly higher than the contract price [1] your brother in law is doing the appaisal and you guys don’t mind being dishonest [2] you are getting a really good deal.  Unfortunately, I’ve also been on the other side of the coin as a seller and the home under appraised [which is a bummer].

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Should you ever not contribute to your 401k?

With everyone feeling a bit of relief at the gas pump, I’m in a bit of a pickle.  I’ve spent the last 10 years making my living as an engineer working with oil & gas wells.  We’re in “Savings Mode” meaning we’re not going to build the $50k garage I wanted, but we are saving $4k/month on top of everything else.  And by saving, we are pouring some money into renovations, which I believe pay back [especially since we DIY].

We’re in an ok position, with plenty of cash to survive for about 2 years + stocks which would vest if I got my marching orders, but I noticed a coworker had cut off his 401k contributions, and I wondered if this ever makes sense?

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SE Asia Trip II – Intro

If you haven’t been following, this is a series on our trip to SE Asia for the 2nd time.  You can find details of our first trip here.

Bali – Amandari
Bali – Amankila
Bali – Amanusa
Borobodur – Amanjiwo
Kuala Lumpur

For this trip, we traveled through Seoul on Asiana’s “new” suites.  It is a killer seat, with killer service and killer food.

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I know chics dig dudes who watch TED talks.  I know Stephanie over at the Broke and Beautiful Life enjoys them.   But, I actually stumbled into this one via a book I was listening to on tape my iphone.

What makes kids, or people in general, successful?  Some parents would have you believe it is the age their infant baby first rolls over, or the age which they take first steps, relative to all the other babies.  Or perhaps it is a fancy private school?  Or can we tie it to a high dollar college education?

Since I went to a public elementary school in the ‘hood and have been edumacated at public institutions my entire life, I am a firm believer that “quality” of schools has very little bearing on a child’s success in life.

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Do you need to “lock in” life insurance rates now?

One interesting comment you will hear from those selling insurance products for a living is, “it would be beneficial to lock in lower life insurance premiums while you are young.”  At first glance, this seems to follow sound logic and pass what I call the “gut check.”  Naturally, the cost of 30 year term will be less for a 20 year old than someone who is 60.  This makes sense, as someone who is 60 and takes out a 30 year term policy will be 90 years old when the policy matures, and well past the age which mortality tables say they should have died.  In other words, there is a great deal of certainly the insurance company will have to pay a benefit on someone who takes out a 30 year policy at age 60.  But, this is a bit of hyperbole […] is there an age in which you see a significant change in cost of life insurance premiums?  

Another way to turn this question on its head is to look at what the cost is to an equivalent age is.  For instance, if you’re 25 and take out a 30 year policy, you’ll be insured to age 55.  If you’re 35 and take out a policy, what is the equivalent cost for a 20 year policy […] where you’ll be covered until age 55?  This approach may or may not be applicable for the ultra-young [less than 25], but it is most likely appropriate when you’re at the age asking yourself, “should I get life insurance?”  The second question to be addressed in this article is if the equivalent “term age” [insurance term + age when policy initiated] more if you wait until you are older?

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Why ETF’s aren’t what you think they are

There is always hub bub about ETF’s, or exchange traded funds.  A lot of times they are painted as superior to their mutual fund counterparts, but I’ve found ETF’s to be a royal PITA.

What is an ETF?

Exchange Traded Funds are essentially a mutual fund which are traded throughout the day on the open market.  ETF’s value changes throughout the day, just as the underlying assets each change throughout the day.  This differs from a mutual fund, which has it’s Net Asset Value [NAV] calculated at the end of the trading day.

Essentially, you’re buying a mutual fund which can be traded throughout the day, at either a premium or a discount to NAV.  People tend to like ETF’s for 3 reasons – low costs, tax efficiency, and stock-like features.

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Liebster Award!

Thanks to Gen Y Finance Guy for nominating me.  I enjoyed the time it took to answer these questions.  I hope you all enjoy it as well.

11 Random Facts

  1. I’ve been to 20 different countries on 5 different continents.  I have a goal to visit at least 100 countries in my life.
  2. I’ve lived in 9 different states.
  3. In 2014 I summitted 18 Colorado peaks above 14,000′.  I’ve “bagged” 23 of 56 so far.
  4. I’m Kore-ish.
  5. I keep bees.
  6. I own an FZJ80.  For non-Toyota nerds, that’s a ’97 LandCruiser.  It’s on 35″ tires and I have plans to wheel.  Or drive to Tierra del Fuego […]
  7. I’m a licensed engineer.
  8. I’m the straightest guy I know.
  9.  I’ve completed the Paris-Brest-Paris ride.  For the unknowing, it is a 775 mile bicycle ride [and 38,000′ of climbing] which must be completed before a 90 hour continuous clock expires.
  10. I’m married with 2 beautiful daughters.
  11. I still drive the same car I had in college.

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Israel – Galilee & Northern Israel

If you haven’t been following, this is a series on our trip to Israel, when we scored some uber cheap airfare.

Israel – Intro
Israel – Masada & Dead Sea
Israel – Jerusalem
Israel – Galilee & Northern Israel

Early Morning […] Again

We once again hopped into our sweet rental, input the code, started the car and were off.  This time, bound for northern Israel.  Eventually, we made our way to Tiberias, and then North to see the Christian sites.

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