Hey, all! Felicity here, announcing a guest post from Troy of Market History. Troy’s site is a treasure trove of detailed, historical market data. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive source, short of paying Bloomberg half of an average household’s income. Additionally, Troy explains historic market actions for those of us who are a little more clueless. Ever wonder why the dollar peaked in 2001 and 2002? Or a quick summary of all the peaks and valleys, with corresponding news events for any given year? Troy’s got you covered.
Troy also goes a bit against the grain compared to the typical early retirement / Financial Independence Retire Early (FIRE) blogs, in that he doesn’t put all his investments in index funds and walk away. He thinks it’svery possible to have above average returns by doing your research and timing the market based on fundamentals. While this is likely not a viable approach for everyone (we can’t all be Troy), it seems to work well for him. This post is keeping it simple with advice for everyone, though!
Take it away, Troy!
It’s hard to say exactly what investors SHOULD do because there are so many different investment strategies. There is no single “best” strategy that will outperform all the rest. However, there are certain things that no investor should ever do, regardless of his or her investment strategy. Once you know what you shouldn’t do, the field of things that you can do becomes much narrower.
In my freshman engineering seminar, there was one phrase forever drilled into my head: “Engineers Solve Problems (ESP™).”
ESP was the one thing that brought all the disciplines together – from six sigma-ing industrial engineers to code monkey computer engineers (engineers can be super cliquey).
So how can you be like an engineer? You guessed it – by solving problems. Why would you want to? Oh, man, because engineering is cool? No? Okay, how about saving money, time, and sanity? Yeah, I thought so.
Step 1: Destroy Mental Barriers
“But everyone solves problems,” I hear you groan, “What makes engineers special?”
Recently I’ve had the pleasure of corresponding with an absolutely lovely young couple that wanted some advice. For anonymity’s sake, let’s call them…Amelia and George. Amelia and George are wonderful savers, partially due to necessity right now, as George is a full time student and Amelia is the current breadwinner with a small salary at a nonprofit. They both have sizeable side-hustles that are bulking up their income, but money is tight.
And they really want a house, possibly even a tiny house. Oh, and they have no credit score to speak of. Oh, and they may have to move in two years after George has graduated. Oh, plus, since we first started communicating months ago, a decision has already been made – the suspense!
In this post, we’ll cover what SSL Certification is (short answer: that “https” thing), why bloggers should care about it (short answer: don’t freak out if you don’t have it), and how to get it entirely free (Fergus did it in roughly half an hour!).
Steve from Think, Save, Retire wrote a great piece on what SSL is, why it matters, and why it generally does not matter much to blogs. Steve’s got a wonderful blog, has very recently retired, and is super supportive in the Personal Finance blogging community.
There are, however, two additional things about SSL certification that are important to note that prompted us to write this article:
SSL Certification does not mean $$$
There are instances where it could make a security difference to blogs
It’s not like we have never donated to charities before. We’ve sent the Red Cross the odd donation, and we’ve donated on behalf of coworkers running for charity. We’ve even pitched in for a couple Go Fund Me’s for friends in tough situations. It was just never a lot – $200-$300 a year at the most.
Last Saturday there was a ten alarm fire in Cambridge, MA, the largest fire in the area since the 80s. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured, but still – holy shit. Eleven buildings, over 60 people affected, multiple fire departments on the scene, and now that area looks unrecognizable.
It started scarily close to Fergus’s grad school apartment, making me even more thankful nothing similar happened to that fire trap of a house he lived in for years. Seriously – an electrician came by once to fix a problem and basically said “This house would be up in flames instantly if there was a fire,” which unfortunately is not that uncommon with the older homes in Cambridge. And of course those living in these fire traps are often lower income, students, or immigrants – people who don’t have a choice.
We know at least one family that’s been displaced. Apartment, car, all material possessions – gone during one awful day. And no rental insurance. Like many others, they took to crowd funding (we contributed), but not everyone can rely on that.
What does rental insurance cover?
Rental Insurance covers a few different things, the core being (more detail below):
I primarily wanted something for writing (this blog + other random projects), and for general checking email, browsing the web and the like. I needed something lightweight and portable, something I could pick up on a whim for hours of creation. I went with a Chromebook and am very happy with my decision.
In all seriousness, that is my actual earning statement after officially blogging for 13 months (well, more like -$99 due to hosting and domain name). I’m writing this post for two reasons:
(1) It is insanely easy to glamorize the lives of your favorite bloggers, or to envy those that actually make a living at this; they make it look so easy. When you think, “Hey, I have ideas, I want to blog, too,” it’s disheartening to see what appears to be everyone else, except for you, succeed.
This is called survivorship bias. Lots of people fail or struggle, you just don’t see it. This post is me showing the world (okay, the optimistically nine people who regularly read this blog), that I have tried and failed at generating any kind of “side hustle” income from this blog. That I have spent easily over 100 hours of just writing for negative financial returns. We so rarely publicize and try to learn from failures.
The weekend before last we went to the Boston Local Food Festival on the Greenway in Boston. While we used the opportunity as our one fancy “nom out” for the month (see this post for details on our monthly adventures), there were loads of free samples, a cooking competition, and demonstrations all for free. We even got free parking using Spot Hero**).
There are so many great, free activities in any city, and this post is a guide to what’s available in our own neck of the woods. However, most of the tips are valid across the country. This doesn’t cover the most touristy things you can do for free in Boston (freedom trail, etc), but Boston on Budget has a great article covering that base for your reference.