What You Don’t Know About Renting vs Buying a Home Can Cost You Money

wrote this on There are 3 comments

 

buying vs renting a home

“If you rent a home, it is an expense. When you buy a home, it is an expense. If you buy a home and rent it out to a third party, it becomes an investment. A better way to put it is that when you are renting, you rent from a landlord. When you buy a home to live in, you are renting from yourself.”

This is the third and last post of this series. The first post, Should You Rent or Buy a Home?, examined what factors you should consider when renting vs buying a home. The second post, What is the True Cost of Owning a Home? , examined the true cost of owning a home. In this final post I will be examining whether it makes sense to rent or buy a home. Numbers don’t lie, so lets look at some real numbers.

There are many calculators available online to help you figure out whether to rent or own. Unfortunately very few include the true costs of owning a home in their calculations. If you read the prior post, you will have some understanding of what was left out and how to calculate it. The math in post this will be relatively straight forward and a bit more fun.

I will be showing you some examples of real properties that I have found in the past year to illustrate this secret that very few people know. Whether you are a real estate investor or looking to buy a home to live in, you will want to know this secret.

“you are paying someone else’s mortgage, so why don’t you pay your own?”

There is a myth out there that when you rent, “you are paying someone else’s mortgage, so why don’t you pay your own?” This is a farce. It doesn’t matter whose mortgage you are paying, what matters is your costs to live in that home.  No matter where you live, your cost to live in that home is an expense. If you rent, you pay rent to a land lord. If you own, you pay a mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, etc. There are costs for both options. Unless you live in a tent you will be paying for a home either way.

The reason many people think that owning is better than renting is that they equate owing a home as an investment rather than an expense. Once they make the realization that it is…

Read More…

Inflation Monitor – June 2016

wrote this on There are no comments

Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - June 2016 Summary

 

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary of the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – June 2016 – Introduction

If you are older than 30 years old, then you are probably scratching your head about negative interest rates. You have spent most of your life under the assumption that positive inflation is normal. You expect it. You probably treat it as a rule of nature rather than an assumption. Well, you are probably surprised to see negative interest rates around the world. While we have not yet seen them here in the US, it is only a matter of time till we see them here.

We have seen a strong push from the central banks around the world into negative interest rate territory. On June 5, 2014, the ECB introduced its negative interest rate policy (NIRP). On January 29, 2016, Japan introduced their version of NIRP. As of March 2016, the ECB dropped their deposit facility rate to -0.40. They are also started purchasing investment grade euro-denominated corporate debt. On June 14, 2016, Germany’s 10-year bund fell below zero to -0.033%. This is historic because it has never happened before.

As of now Switzerland, Japan, and Germany, all have 10 years sovereign bonds that are yielding negative interest rates. Where will this madness end? In case you didn’t think that was crazy, there’s more.

Read More…

Inflation Monitor – May 2016

wrote this on There are no comments

Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - May 2016 Summary

 

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary for the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – May 2016 – Introduction

 

This month I want to discuss population growth. This is one of those topics which when you see the word, you probably instantly fell asleep. sorry…

However, this topic is important because it is one of the factors determining inflation. In the US as in many of the developed economies, population is not growing as fast as it needs to in order to sustain the current rate of growth. Currently the US has a population growth rate at below 1% ( 0.77%). Countries like Japan, Russia, China, and eastern Europe have shrinking populations.

Slow to negative population growth economies have a significant deflationary force to overcome. This deflationary force cannot be simply determined by looking at population growth, since it also depends on the age distribution of the workforce and other factors, but it does give you a general sense of which countries have some serious headwinds to overcome if they want growth via inflation.

Read More…

Should You Rent or Buy a Home?

wrote this on There are 4 comments

American dream rent or buy a home

“But there has been also the American dream, that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for every man, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.”

James Truslow Adams

Is the American Dream Really an Illusion?

There is a great illusion when it comes to real estate. This illusion is that owning your home is an investment.

When you own real estate and use it to generate monthly income… it is an investment.

When you buy real estate and develop it to sell for a profit… it is an investment.

When you buy real estate to live in… It not an investment. It is a personal expense.

Where did this idea come from that every American should own their home?

I heard that Fannie Mae came up with the “American Dream” idea as part of a marketing campaign that everyone should own their own home. Great idea on their part, but I have not been able to confirm that they were the ones to initiate this idea.

Should I Rent or Buy a Home?

Most people believe that owning a home should be considered an investment. Some go as far to become “house poor” so that they can leverage themselves into a bigger home. This does not seem wise to me.

There is also a social stigma to being an owner vs a renter. If you are an owner you are perceived as being more well off. But are you? I will discuss the financial aspects of home ownership vs. renting in my next post, What Most People Don’t Know About Renting vs Buying a Home .

Here is the US map of whether it is cheaper to rent or own in each US city:

Read More…

What is the True Cost of Owning a Home?

wrote this on There are 3 comments

 

Cost of owning a home

 

In the prior post of this series, Should You Rent or Buy a Home?, I wrote about the pros and cons of home ownership vs renting. It is important to start here when you are considering whether to rent or buy a home. The decision of where to live should not be solely made on emotional attachment or financial considerations. It should be made up of both if you are planning on living in a home for many years. You want to love where you live.

This week’s post will be focused more on the financial considerations of renting vs buying a home. More specifically, what is the true cost of owning a home. If you have never correctly run these numbers before, the data may surprise you.

This week I will give you an example of what the true costs of owning a home are. In next week’s post, What You Don’t Know About Renting vs. Buying a Home Can Cost You Money, I will compare some real life examples of costs of renting vs buying a home.

I hope I am able to forever change how you look at buying the home you want to live in.

Read More…

Deflation – How a Mortgage Can Destroy Your Real Estate Wealth

wrote this on There are 3 comments

real estate deflation

“Thus inflation is unjust and deflation is inexpedient. Of the two perhaps deflation is, if we rule out exaggerated inflations such as that of Germany, the worse; because it is worse, in an impoverished world, to provoke unemployment than to disappoint the rentier. But it is necessary that we should weigh one evil against the other. It is easier to agree that both are evils to be shunned.”   – John Maynard Keynes

This is the 3rd in a series of 4 posts about investing in real estate. The last post, Inflation – The Secret To Building Wealth in Real Estate, is about how inflation is essential to building wealth via your real estate investments. While most people subconsciously understand that real estate has all of the features listed in that post, they may not be sure why real estate has those features. The key is inflation.

This week I will be discussing the other side of the coin, and what happens when there isn’t inflation to make your real estate the wealth building tool that it has been for over 50 years.

This week I will be discussing deflation and how it would affect your real estate investments. Many notable economists have made deflation the economic boogieman. They have claimed that it is the worst possible outcome in an economy. When you hear someone talking about deflation, it is highly likely that Japan will also be mentioned in the same sentence.

Deflation is rare in the global economies of today. This is primarily because central banks around the world have engaged in a campaign to create a consistent inflationary environment for their own economies. This has worked for a few decades without hyper-inflation or persistent deflation in developed economies. Except for Japan.

Japan is one notable example of deflation which has taken hold in an economy and created a deflationary spiral. This is the essence of what economists fear. While this may sound scary, it isn’t, or doesn’t have to be. This week I will be discussing how deflation affects real estate, and why you should understand this if you want to protect your wealth.

Read More…

Inflation Monitor – April 2016

wrote this on There are no comments

Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - April 2016 Summary

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary for the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – April 2016 – Introduction

 

April Fool’s… every year people use this day to play practical jokes on others. This year it was the Fed’s turn to make fools of us all. Janet Yellen made a strong point early in her tenure as Fed Chair that she believed in more transparency with communications to the public about Fed policy. She must have a new years resolution this year that we are not aware of, because her transparency has taken a back seat to settling the market gyrations. The Fed has always claimed that their decisions are not driven by the stock market, however their recent actions might suggest otherwise.

Read More…

These Top 7 Powerful Tools Can Create Legacy Wealth from Real Estate

wrote this on There are 4 comments

real estate wealth

“Buying real estate is not only the best way, the quickest way, the safest way, but the only way to become wealthy.”  – Marshall Field

Marshall Field was an American Entrepreneur who lived in the 1800’s. His quote was obviously made in an era before tech stocks, hedge funds and excess money printing by the Federal Reserve. However the principal of owning real estate to become wealthy still holds true.

Real Estate is arguably the best asset class if you want to build enormous wealth. While you may have heard of real estate investors such as Donald Trump, or Sam Zell, there are countless more who are relatively unknown and are just as wealthy. Many of these investors prefer to live in relative obscurity.

What I want to show you are the 7 powerful techniques that these real estate tycoons were able to use to build their enormous wealth. While most of these techniques apply to both real estate investors and homeowners, there are more benefits from owing real estate as an investor rather than a home owner.

The 7 reasons you should own real estate as an investment:

real estate leverage

 

Leverage

Real estate is one of the few assets where you can use enormous amounts of leverage to own the asset, and banks will happily lend it to you. Leverage is a way to amplify the returns you receive on that asset, in both directions. Leverage is both beneficial and dangerous, so make sure that leverage is working in your favor.

Read More…

Inflation Monitor – March 2016

wrote this on There are no comments

Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor - March 2016 Summary

 

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary for the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – March 2016 – Introduction

 

The first quarter of 2016 has been an interesting one. It started off with a significant bout of volatility and risk-off investing. Then after the stock market bottomed in mid-January and re-tested those levels a few weeks later, it has taken off like a rocket. It was almost as if the global economic troubles didn’t exist anymore. Unfortunately they do… It was almost as if someone (the Fed) waved their magic wand and all the problems of the world just disappeared.

Magic is a wonderful thing. Easter is coming soon. Kids are eagerly awaiting the day where they get chocolate eggs and toys from the magical bunny. What a wonderful thing to believe in magic and illusion.

While many of you don’t believe in the Easter bunny, you probably believe in magic. Earlier this year the markets swooned based on poor economic data, then the Fed told a magical story of how they are data dependent (but only when they want to be) and lowered rate hike expectations and without further consideration the market believed it and started to rise.

Spoiler Alert for those of you who still believe in the Easter bunny, he isn’t real, and neither is this stock market rally.

Sure the prices confirm that stocks and commodity prices have been rising in the past few weeks, but what has really changed? Have US or global economic conditions improved? The only thing that has changed significantly in the past 3 months has been the stock market. So does the Fed’s data dependency include stock prices? Maybe I missed that Fed meeting where they discussed how stock prices determined monetary policy.<end sarcasm>

The Fed’s stated target of four interest rate hikes in 2016 communicated to the public that US economic conditions were strong enough to attempt to return to historically normal rates… At least those were the expectations communicated by the Fed.

At the last Fed meeting, Fed Chairwoman and magician Janet Yellen indicated that the number of rate hikes may be closer to only two. Like magic, the markets rose to greet the new bullish expectations. Apparently four rate hikes was too much and two was just the right amount. The Fed has a notoriously poor track record of predicting the future of interest rates and inflation, but in this case there may be another motive.

The Fed has another magic trick in their act other than changing the fed funds rate and printing money. With a few carefully placed words they can change the direction of the stock market. All market participants want to know what the Fed says. They hang of every word uttered by Fed board members. Yet what the Fed actually does is very little. One meeting they predict 4 rate hikes and the next they reduce it to 2. They have not changed any of the underlying conditions, but like magic, they have made everything all right again in the markets.

This is one of the Fed’s greatest tricks…

Read More…

Why are Individual Investors so Bad at Investing?

wrote this on There are 4 comments

Individual Investors Need Help

Individual investors as a group have no idea what they are doing. This has been made clear by a recent DALBAR study spanning 30 years all the way back to 1984.1 This period covers a number of bull and bear markets, giving investors a chance to learn from their mistakes. However it is clear that they are not learning the lessons of proper investing.

investors dalbar study

The S&P 500 is one of the most widely followed indices and is considered a benchmark for the US stock market. I would consider it a suitable benchmark for this study. These numbers compiled by DALBAR show that the return of the S&P 500 over the 30 year period ending in December 2013 is 11.11%. They also show that individual investors only measured 3.69% over that same period of time. This is a remarkable 7.42% difference annually. To put this in perspective, if you invested $100,000 in 1984 in the S&P 500 and earned 11.11%, today (30 years later) you would have $2,358,275. If you started with $100,000 and invested it over the same time period at 3.69%, you would have $296,556. That is a difference of $2,061,719. It should be clear from these numbers that individual investors have a problem.

Read More…

Inflation Monitor – February 2016

wrote this on There are no comments

 

Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor Summary December 2015
 

Inflation Monitor – February 2016 – Introduction

 

It is February, and winter has finally arrived in the northeast. Not only has the weather turned cold, but so have the markets. The stock markets started the year off cold with the worst start to January performance on record and ending with the S&P 500 down -3.37% for the month. The start of February has not been great either. As I write this the S&P 500 is at its lowest levels since February 2014.

Generally this Inflation Monitor is not focused on the stock markets, but I have been wondering for the past year how long it would take for the stock market to realize that deflation was strong and growing stronger. Apparently it is now on the table since Japan lowered their interest rates into negative territory to join their European brothers. The idea of negative interest rates should be an episode of the twilight zone. It is new to almost everybody and how this plays out will certainly be interesting. What is the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. (this was not said by Einstein, although frequently attributed to him).

Gold has finally picked up steam in the past few weeks with the metal up over 10%. Maybe it the fear of negative interest rates that is driving the flight to safety in gold. With the rest of the commodity complex still in a bear market, I doubt gold and silver prices will start a new bull market. Only time will tell, but despite the rise in gold price in US Dollars, it is important to note the price of gold in other currencies (see this below in the gold section).

I mentioned this last month, and I’ll mention it again.

If you have not read my 2015 recap, then now is a good time to read it. Last year the S&P 500 ended with a performance of -0.7%, which is surprising since many blue chip companies were down between -10% & -20% for the year. If you did nothing but look at the index, you would have missed the large dislocation of the index performance and the performance of the underlying stocks.

The risk you should consider this year is contagion. This is the risk of assets selling off because other assets are selling off, having very little to do with underlying fundamentals. For example, if the high yield bond market continues to sell off or worse yet, crashes, then the investment grade corporate bond market may also sell off. This in turn could lead to a sell off in equities and other assets. The spread of this contagion is not knowable, but you should be aware of this risk.

 
Read More…

5 Common IRA Prohibited Transactions That Could Tax You

wrote this on There are 3 comments

 

5 Common Prohibited Transactions That Could Tax Your IRA

If you are like most investors, you probably have not heard of prohibited transactions. Prohibited transactions specifically apply to retirement plans such as self-directed IRAs or 401ks. It is estimated that less than 80% of investors fully understand the flexibility that a self-directed IRA offers, so most IRA account holders won’t have reason to come into contact with this rule. If you do use your retirement plan to invest in alternative investments, then please keep reading.

What is a prohibited transaction?

A prohibited transaction can be described as an improper use of your IRA account assets by a disqualified person. The term prohibited transaction in this case applies to retirement plans such as a self-directed IRA, or 401(k) The IRS defines a prohibited transaction as:

Read More…

Inflation Monitor – January 2016

wrote this on There are no comments

Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor Summary December 2015

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary for the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – January 2016 – Introduction

 

Happy New Year. I hope you enjoyed your holidays with lots of eggnog and holiday cheer.

2016 has started with a bang… or rather a thud. The US equity markets have had their worst start to the new year ever. I guess you could say that the thud has not happened yet since the US stock markets are still falling. The Chinese stock markets have gotten all the blame, but I think the drop in equities is overdue.

In week one, S&P 500 (-6%), NASDAQ (-7.3%), and Dow (-6.2%). Gold surprised to the upside +3.1%.

End of week two, S&P 500 (-8%), NASDAQ (-10.4%), and Dow (-8.2%). Gold is still up 1.8%.

If you have been following this Inflation Monitor for the past year you will know my thoughts on the markets. We saw strong deflationary data last year. Not surprisingly, no one noticed. The fact that it took the equity markets this long to react to this data is really the only surprise I see.

If you have not read my 2015 recap, then now is a good time to read it. Last year the S&P 500 ended with a performance of -0.7%, which is surprising since many blue chip companies were down between -10% & -20% for the year. If you did nothing but look at the index, you would have missed the large dislocation of the index performance and the performance of the underlying stocks.

The risk you should consider this year is contagion. This is the risk of assets selling off because other assets are selling off, having very little to do with underlying fundamentals. For example, if the high yield bond market continues to sell off or worse yet, crashes, then the investment grade corporate bond market may also sell off. This in turn could lead to a sell off in equities and other assets. The spread of this contagion is not knowable, but you should be aware of this risk.

Read More…

Your Emergency Fund – Understanding the Importance of Cash

wrote this on There are 5 comments

emergency fund

“Never spend your money before you have it.”  -Thomas Jefferson

 

Have you ever lost your job? Has your car ever required an expensive fix? Have you or a family member ever need funds for a hospital visit?

Now imagine that you didn’t have access to cash to pay for that emergency. What would you do?

The mass issuance of credit cards has allowed people to neglect the need for an emergency fund. This is a mistake. An emergency fund is not only about preparing for the rainy day that you will need the funds. It is also about reducing risk, providing you options, and helping you sleep better at night knowing that your financial emergencies do not have to be debilitating.

According to Go Banking Rates, 71% of Americans have less than $1,000 saved in their savings account. Although some age groups vary by a small margin, 70%+ of them (including seniors) have less than $1,000. If their income is cut off for even a few weeks, how are they going to survive?

Read More…

Inflation Monitor – December 2015

wrote this on There are no comments

Inflation Monitor Summary – Composite Ranking

Inflation Monitor Summary December 2015

 

* The Inflation Equilibrium is a quick summary for the whole data series of the inflation monitor. If you don’t like statistics, this is the chart for you.


 

Inflation Monitor – December 2015 – Introduction

This is the last issue of 2015. I hope you are enjoying the holidays and getting ready to bring in the new year. While this is a joyous time of the year. It should be used to reflect on the past year and what surprises are to come in the next 12 months. While no one can know the future, we can look for signs that things are not quite right. These are what I would call new potential risks to the equilibrium of the global financial markets.

Read More…

2015 Recap: High Yield Bonds, Instability, and Financial Contagion

wrote this on There are 3 comments

 
2015 recap

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” -Yogi Berra

 

Is this the start of a high yield bond rout that many bond experts have been predicting?

Is the S&P 500 performance this year a good indicator of the overall market?

Will instability in the bond market spread to other asset classes?

What is the blueprint for the next financial crisis?

These are all questions that clients have asked recently and I thought this would be a good chance to discuss these issues as a wrap up of 2015.

Lets start by taking a look at what has happened this year, where we stand today, and try to pass some judgement on what could happen in 2016. Normally I don’t write about “predictions”. Yogi Berra was a wise man. However I think this post is relevant to the nature of the markets and the growing instability that is occurring under the surface.

Read More…

Why You Should Worry About Japan Deflation?

wrote this on There are 4 comments

 

Japan Deflation

Is the U.S. becoming Japan?

Japan has long been known as an example of what can happen when you allow deflation to happen in an economy which is highly reliant on persistent inflation to sustain itself. What is happening in Japan is one of the reasons that the Federal Reserve is trying so hard to avoid deflation in the US.

Japan is in a challenging economic situation. This is mainly due to their demographics. They have an aging population, where the amount of elderly people is quite a bit larger than the younger generations. Anecdotally, in 2011 sales of adult diapers exceeded the amount for baby diapers.10. The chart below shows the demographics of Japan during 3 periods of time with approximately 50 years in between. A shrinking population can become a problem in an economy because it is a strong deflationary force. Japan has an aging population which will only continue to shrink over the next few decades. While other developed nations have stagnant or slow growing populations, this is not ideal for an expanding economy.

japan deflation

Read More…

30 Top Investment Quotes for New Investors

wrote this on There are no comments

 

Investment Quotes

 

I like investment quotes. They are snapshots of wisdom. An insight into the minds of genius investors. Many of these quotes individually could be the basis of an entire book.

I have been collecting these quotes to add to each post I write. Unfortunately I have way more quotes than I have posts up on this site. So I thought I would compile this list to provide more bite-sized pieces of wisdom for your enjoyment.

Read More…

The $100 Million Dollar Mitt Romney IRA – How You Can Use These Strategies to Build One Yourself

wrote this on There are 3 comments

mitt romney ira

The Big IRA and the recent Government Accountability Office report

In 2012, during the presidential election campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, the issue was raised about Mitt Romney’s over-sized IRA. At one point the IRA is reported to have had as much as $102,000,000 in it. Yes, you read that correctly.

Mitt Romney’s IRA was worth $102,000,000.

Even compared to his reported $250 million net worth, this is a sizable chunk of capital to have accrued in his IRA given his approximate 40 years of working experience. How did he do it?

The recent Government Accountability Office report

government accountability office

In October 2014, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report, “Individual Retirement Accounts – IRS could bolster enforcement on multi-million dollar accounts, but more direction from congress is needed.  According to the GAO, they found that there were 314 taxpayer IRAs which had an account balance of over $25,000,000 and 791 taxpayers with balances between $10,000,000 and $25,000,000. That is a total of 1105 people who have been great investors, extremely lucky, or both. Either way, they have found a way to capitalize on the tax benefits of a Traditional IRA or Roth IRA by growing their capital in a tax-deferred or tax-free manner.

While it may not be easy to accumulate over $100 million in your IRA, you can still use the same strategies that Mitt Romney used to accumulate a sizable IRA account balance.

Read More…