Saturday Linkage

Sep 26, 2020

  1. 29 Psychological tricks to make you buy more (visual capitalist): sneaky marketers!
  2. Abundance mindset is more than money (money the wright way); Good article on how to feel abundant no matter what your net worth
  3. What are sunk costs and when to ignore them (women who money); Often we continue with a decision even though its not working out, because we have “sunk” time/energy/money into it. When do you walk away?
  4. How financial Aps get you to spend more (wired); Aps like Robinhood can have a very “dark side”
  5. Financial “rules of thumb” and when to break them (Kiplingers)
  6. Seems so Easy (humble dollar); The rules for managing your money is easy, but actually doing the steps is very hard
  7. Stop starting and start finishing (5 am Joel); the perils of multitasking
  8. Here’s why I love RV Parky (Route to retire); Ever wonder where you are going to park your RV on a cross-country trip? This Ap will help!
  9. How much money should you have saved for retirement? (The irrelevant investor); Rough levels you should have staged for each age of your life.
  10. No Judgement zone: Credit card churning (budget life list); There is risk in this strategy. If you are in control of it, itc an be rewarding – but you need to stay in control!
  11. Creative Grocery Shopping Tips to save money (my tipid tips)

New Product for TKD Woodworking

Well, part of a company’s marketing and sales effort is the development of new products to sell. I’ve got five products selling on Etsy at this point, and wanted to expand this by offering a nice hinged wood box, perfect for keeping items in. Its called “Tery’s Tea Box” because it was made for my wife, and used to store her various tea samples in. Its made with Cherry and Mahogany, with a Poplar tray.

Like I discussed before, in preparation for this, I had to determine bill-of-materials, assembly process, and Economic Order Quantity. I then had to time myself during the construction to determine labor hours. With all this information, I price my labor ($20/hr) and then I am able to determine a price per unit. Throwing in overhead costs, I can arrive at a final price per piece.

This particular item needed $44.40 in materials (the high-quality Brusso hinges are $28.80 for each box), and took 2.6 hours @$20/hr. With a 40% overhead, this works out to:

  • Materials: $44.40
  • Labor: $52.00
  • Overhead@40%: $38.56
  • Total Sales price: $134.96

Note that this does not include shipping costs.

Again, one of the primary purposes of TKD Woodworking is for me to do the paperwork and calculations, so I can better understand how to run the business. I just had to do my taxes for September, which luckily were $0, because I haven’t sold anything yet. I can see that being difficult in the future.

So far, its been an eye opening experience, and I have enjoyed (somewhat) the process.

Stay Healthy!

Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage

Sep 20, 2020

Sorry its a day late. Went backpacking this weekend and just got back.

  1. Why does the stock market go up? (Four pillar freedom):
  2. 7 Ways to develop better money habits (life and finances);
  3. It doesn’t pay to be a jerk at work (CNN): In the military, we understood this, and always “paid into the ‘favor bank’”
  4. How to get and maintain and 800 FICO score (Financial Pilgrimage);
  5. Roth 401K withdrawals (Fitax guy): Some of the complications of withdrawing or transferring Roth 401Ks
  6. I am so over productivity porn (bitches get riches); there does seem to be an overabundance of this.
  7. Kicking yourself when you are winning (Mr. Tako escapes); For so many of us, we tend to focus on our failures and errors, rather than patting ourselves on the back for our wins.
  8. Back from the brink of financial oblivion (the escape artist); interesting interview where someone did a lot of work to repair his life.
  9. Should I increase my credit limit? (Half banked); Everyone will typically say “no” to start, but he lays out the benefits and problems with increasing your debt limit. Good read.
  10. There’s still no such thing as a free lunch (financial bodyguard); One of the biggest “pet peeves” I have is when someone talks about getting or giving away something for free (especially the government!). Someone is paying for it, no matter what – and its probably you!

Well that was easy…..

As some of you know, we take a portion of our money each month and put it into a “charity fund” that we use to make charitable contributions every year. We use to track this when we itemized deductions on our taxes, but with the tax act of 2017, itemizing didn’t work anymore for us (we had paid off our mortgage, so we reached the point where itemization didn’t reach our base deduction in the tax code).

Still, like a lot of folks who give to charity, we continued, even though we don’t get a tax deduction for it. Right now we are only at about 5% of our after-tax for charity (vs. the biblical 1/10th) but we increase it every year.

I got in the mail an offer from Mariott for a rewards card with no annual fee, with 50,000 points if you get the card and charge $1,000 in the first 3 months. This isn’t hard for a lot of folks (groceries, etc.) so I chose to sign up, with the intention, like most travel hackers, of getting the points, paying off the card immediately, and then not using it again.

With the Covid, we’ve been extending our charity to various groups early, rather than waiting till the holidays (like we have in the past). We’ve given several times to our local food bank and the Salvation Army. In this circumstance, we chose to send $1,000 to various charities in September, rather than wait. By doing it by credit card (and eating any fees that were charged for doing so) we were able to get the charity money to folks that needed it, and get our 50,000 points for Mariott (several nights stay). Win/Win all the way around.

Now if only they would lift these travel restrictions so we could use them…..

Mr. 39 Months.

Saturday Linkage


  1. Can the 60/40 portfolio still work (A wealth of Common Sense); Good analysis on this traditional allocation and its potential future.
  2. The Best Friend Investors never heard of (evidence investor); Interesting story of how poor/corrupt 401K administrators were finally held accountable
  3. Eight Secrets to a Fairly Fulfilled life (Guardian);
  4. Five things you can do with an old 401K (Physician on fire):
  5. The Work from Home backlash is upon us (A Wealth of common sense); Time to go back to the office….

Sometimes I hate to be right…

Well, Wednesday starts after several days of the tech stocks being hammered, resulting in the S&P 500 dropping about 7% over the last three sessions. This morning Amazon, Facebook and Apple each rose about 1%, but analysts still believe that, since their way above their valuations a year ago. Amazon is up 70%, Apple 54%, and Facebook 32% vs. an overall 3% gain for the S&P over that time.

Mike Wilson of Morgan Stanley stated “We think there is more downside over the next month but eventually leads to further broadening out of the bull market.” In laymen’s terms, they think the Tech stocks may drop somewhat, while other stocks in the S&P make gains commensurate with the improving economy. We can all hope that this market rally “broadens” as opposed to being concentrated too much in Tech Stocks. Again, I remember 2000 and the bust.

For most of us, this means “steady as she goes” in our investments. Continuing to put money away, dollar cost averaging, and watching our spending for the year. Hopefully your income hasn’t been too negatively impacted by Covid-19 shutdowns. If you can do that, you can weather most any storm.

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Mr. 39 Months

Saturday Linkage


  1. When can I retire? (Financial Pilgramage); good article on the author’s analysis on retiring early, Coast FI, and the reasoning behind it.
  2. Debtor’s Prison (Humble Dollar); how being in debt stifles your creativity and ability to affect your life – like you are in prison.
  3. Real Cost of Home Ownership (Clipping Chains): good analysis of the numbers in 3 parts.
  4. How to “Refire” in retirement (ESI money); Book review of “REFIRE don’t Retire” book, which discusses steps to move to a higher gear in retirement.
  5. How to RV in retirement (Retirement Manifesto); I keep threatening Mrs. 39 Months that we’ll RV upon retirement – and she is not having it.
  6. When to Quit (City Frugal); Why do people not quit, and how to make that final decision
  7. Are you trapped? (Full time finance); Good article discussing the issues where you have started in one direction, and the things which affect decisions to move forward or step away.
  8. History of Financial Independence (Get Rich Slowly); Nice rundown of the history of the movement – its older than you think
  9. Quitting my job during a Pandemic was a win (Budget life list); actually it was more of a job change than retiring early
  10. Three reasons why the stock market is doing well while unemployment is high (Simple Dollar)
  11. Nine Symptoms of unhealthy relationship with money (Physician on Fire); I think most folks in the community have managed to avoid these.

Investment Update Sep 2020 – Back “in the Black!”

Well I’m back from my backpacking, and we are “back” in terms of our investments. Like most folks in our community,  I’ve been riding the slow, steady “up” of the markets for the last four months (May – August), as our finances have crept out of the hole that we fell into during the Feb/Mar crash. As long as you didn’t panic and sell everything, the market typically recovers – even from the crashes of 2000-2002 and 2008-2009. It never pays to panic and sell out. If you are uncomfortable, just adjust your asset allocation to a more conservative position, so you can sleep better at night.

With that said, we are back to a positive 0.8% for the year, even after all the money we have put into the market (we never stopped our regular, monthly contributions). The S&P 500 is up 7.5% for the year – so if we were 100% in the S&P, we’d really be up. However, five stocks are primarily responsible for that jump up (the tech stocks) and I was around for the bubble, so I don’t feel comfortable putting all my eggs in those 5 company’s baskets. I won’t do as well, but as I said, I will sleep at night.

So our allocation is as follows, as of July 2020:

Retirement Accounts: Remember, my allocation for these is:

  • 20% Bond Index Fund
  • 20.0% S&P500 Index Fund
  • 20.0% International Index Fund
  • 20.0% Small Cap Index Fund
  • 20.0% REIT Index Fund

My 401K doesn’t have REIT option, so its just 25% for each.

As you would expect, everything was up, though in different amounts.

  • S&P500: 7%
  • Small Cap: 4%
  • International: 3%
  • REITs: 1%
  • Bonds: -16%

My dividend account new allocation (as of Jan 2020) was:

  • 50% Dividend Stocks
  • 50% REITs

The dividend paying stocks varied (some up, some down) but overall the account gained 3% for the month (including dividends).

My value account with Vanguard was up 4.9%, so it was in line with most of the stock gains.

Overall, for July, I was up 3.8%, a nice bump. For the year, I’m at +0.8%. My expectation is a slow growth, probably ending around 3% – 4% for the year.

Hope everyone is healthy and your Sept turns our well!

Mr. 39 Months

Back to Square One

Well, the S&P 500, the benchmark that so many folks use to determine how well the stock market is doing, has gotten back to “even” for the year. Its taken five long months to dig out of the Mar 16th hole of $2,304.92 (a 32% drop from its Feb 10th high). If things continue along these lines, we could expect a 4% – 5% return for the year. So everyone is OK, right?

Actually, the situation is not so rosy. Yes the S&P is back, but in listening to Ric Edelman the other day, he noted that the five big tech stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) were up 30% – 35%, but the other 495 stocks of the S&P were still down an average of -5%! So the market rally isn’t broad based, its concentrated in the tech stocks – and those of us around in 2000 – 2002 remember how quickly that can evaporate.

For us, we are still down a little for the year (-0.8%) primarily due t the fact that we are invested in International, Small-Cap and REITS (REITs are getting hammered with the Chinese Covid virus). Still, by diversifying, I think our recovery is a little more broad than just the folks that are in the S&P 500.

It will be an interesting time for the remainder of the year. We are starting to creep out from the lockdowns, but a significant amount of economic damage has been done, especially to small businesses, the restaurant industry, and the commercial real estate industry. I believe we’ll see  a waive of bankruptcies for the next 5 years as all of this is cleared out, and the economy won’t really start humming until these are cleared away.

Of course politics will also have a effect over the next 4 years. Going to be interesting….

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Mr. 39 Months