01 March 2021

Millions of 2019 Tax Refunds STILL Not Issued

I found this article this morning:

"The Detroiter, who has been out of work during the pandemic, is expecting a tax refund of more than $4,500 for 2020 via direct deposit...She's hoping she'll see that money sooner than an anticipated refund for her 2019 income tax return, which is still hanging in limbo somewhere..."It's been over a year now," Brodis said. "They accepted my taxes last year on Feb. 7. It doesn't seem like it should go that slowly, but there's nothing I can do to speed it up." (emphasis added)

 Oh, but there is! 


Print out one of these: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf

Use the deductions worksheet on page 3, and note that lines 1 and 4 ask for ESTIMATES (so "guess" high! Enter the maximum amounts for everything you can here)

Carry line 5 back to the W-4 form, sign, turn in to your employer/HR department.

The strategy here is to get your per-paycheck withholding down as low as you can possibly get it, so you keep your "tax" money in your pocket ("tax", because if it's refunded to you, you never owed the tax, you just ceded control of your money to Uncle Scam for a year... or more). It might mean you end up having to write a check to Uncle Scam instead of receiving your own money back with no interest, but then you're not sitting around like this woman (and millions of others) wondering how you're going to pay for heat, food, rent, etc. Even better: when you are holding the money that you might actually owe, you can earn on it all year long before you have to fork it over to Uncle Scam. 

I know that there's many out there that use this ridiculous system of overpaying their taxes as a sort of forced savings, because they otherwise lack the discipline to not spend every dollar they get their hands on. I guess I can concede that it works ok for those kinds of people... until it doesn't! When Uncle Scam fails you and won't return your money, he offers no apology, suffers no penalty, and will not compensate you for your losses and inconvenience. For those of you going through this now, perhaps this pain is finally worse than the "pain" of disciplining yourselves and learning to save and invest on your own?

21 February 2021

The Employee Consumer Pays All Taxes

Probably due to the absolute lack of financial literacy education in U.S. public schools, there's a persistent mistaken belief that taxing "the other guy" more means that they are the ones paying the higher tax bill, not the people voting for the tax (which is often why they go ahead and vote that way). 

So your average person hears "raise taxes on corporations!" or property owners, or "the rich", etc., and they think, "yeah! Make THEM pay!"

They don't though. You do. 

The cost gets passed on to you in the asking price of goods and services that you buy, and in reduced wages (or wages that grow at a slower rate).  

The employee, uninvested consumer pays all taxes, period. 

That's what makes memes like this one I found this morning funny: everything in it is just basic fact, but it's that so many people are ignorant to this reality that makes it funny:

(I'm not sure if the pic got cut off at the bottom or if the creator did that on purpose; I was hoping that the final punchline would be that the added cost of rent and the wage cut/reduction of hours would total to $3000, lol.)

13 February 2021

Free Webinar on C. America Teak Investing

Ever thought of buying into forestry projects in Central America to tap into sustainable wealth generation with a positive environmental impact, and potentially gain a second residency in a foreign country? 

Probably not. I'm guessing you've not heard of this before. Here's how you can find out more, just for the cost of some of your time. 

I signed up for this free webinar (via Zoom) that's going to take place on February 16th, 5pm EST (17:00 -5 GMT): 

This aligns with my interests on multiple levels, not the least of which pertains to what's going on in my corner of the world right now...


08 February 2021

Why I Increasingly Don't Care About "The Disadvantaged"

Harsh headline, but it's the most succinct way I can sum up what I am going to write about in this post. At the outset here I'll throw out this disclaimer: this is not about people who suffer a misfortune that they did not bring upon themselves. Examples: someone crippled in an accident caused by a drunken driver, someone with a congenital birth defect, someone who lost everything in an accidental fire, etc. Rather, this is about those of you out there who are constantly presented with opportunity, and you respond by doing nothing. 

I frequently post referral links to programs I participate in that profit me. I put in the time and effort to first find out if they're legit, and when I have first-hand proof that they are legit, I share them. It is absolutely meant to profit me, but the types I like to focus on and share are the ones that also profit you; I go for the win-win stuff, for both our sakes. 

Why do this? I do it because I have a long standing personal belief that showing others how to strengthen their financial house also strengthens mine. The less their needs are unfulfilled, the less they want what is mine.

(Now before you dipshit socialists get all excited and think that I'm admitting that your idiotic beliefs are valid, I'm not and they're not. What I'm talking about there is creation of value, of wealth, and its mutually beneficial, voluntary exchange, not your lazy ass, parasitic, narcissist demands that everyone be forced by .gov redistribution at gunpoint to support  you and the things you like simply because you exist. Forced redistribution doesn't strengthen my house because it (temporarily) strengthens yours, it weakens mine and puts sand under the foundation of yours: you need me, but I do not need you, so guaranteed I will remove myself from your reach and leave you with nothing, every time.)

Today Bitcoin rocketed higher on the news that Tesla has made a move that many have been aware of as a looming trend: corporations adding Bitcoin to their treasuries as a hedge against the U.S. Dollar, which due to rampant debasement (money printing) is now a liability to hold.

I use and have recommended numerous programs that help people tap into this action, such as:
  • Lolli - a means of earning Bitcoin on your everyday purchases (i.e. food, things you need anyway)
  • Fold - an opportunity to win a little Bitcoin every day, totally free, plus via shopping opportunities
  • BlockFi - a platform where you can deposit Bitcoin you've earned and begin earning 6% annually on it, paid in Bitcoin, offering a $10 bonus once you've deposited $100 worth of crypto into your BlockFi Interest Account
  • Gemini - a crypto trading platform offering a $10 bonus on your first $100 USD traded within 30 days of opening (soon to offer interest earning opportunities like BlockFi, too)
  • Coinbase - another trading platform, also offering a $10 bonus once you've traded at least $100 of crypto
If you had taken advantage of these opportunities I've researched for Bitcoin, you would be on today's rocket ride, potentially with a 30% gain right out of the gate: with $100 you can first sign up for Gemini or Coinbase, make your first purchase, collect your $10 bonus, then sign up for the other of the two, transfer your hodling to the new account, get your second $10 bonus, then transfer it all to BlockFi, get the third $10 bonus and begin earning 6%! The whole time you could have been getting more satoshis with Lolli and Fold!

Similar programs I use and have promoted before, ones that pertain to assets other than cryptos include:
  • Acorns - a way to break into stock and bond investing with "spare change" from your everyday spending, plus bonuses from select merchants, with a $5 bonus just for signing up
  • The Acorns browser extension - automated alerts providing you with notification that a bonus opportunity exists for the merchant whose website you are visiting so you don't have to try to remember them all
  • Worthy Bonds - $10 "micro bonds" that fund U.S. small businesses, paying a fixed 5% compounding rate (they were giving away one $10 bond just for signing up, but this one currently isn't available for new sign-ups; you've missed this one, too!)
  • M1 Finance - a self-directed investment firm offering brokerage and retirement accounts, currently offering a $30 sign-up bonus on $100 deposited to a brokerage or $500 to an IRA account
All of these programs notify me when someone takes advantage of the opportunities that I share with the world. Some of them even show me the progress my referrals have made toward completing the offers. 

You know what I see when I look in on those status updates?

Most of you quit before reaching the finish line. 

When I open up financial media websites these days, many of them are full of narratives about "the growing wealth gap", "increasing inequality", "the shrinking middle class", etc. Setting aside the interpretation of the how, the why, interpretations of the data and their actual relevance, this is a dominant theme these days: people are falling behind, or believe they are falling behind. 

Yet when I put in the time to explore opportunities that virtually anyone can take advantage of, and make the effort to describe what they are, how to use them, and point people directly to them; when the people behind these programs put their energy and effort to engineering and constructing them; when it literally cannot be made any easier for you to jump onboard and profit; a majority of you stop short of the finish line, which is basically doing nothing (in fact, it's worse than doing nothing!).

I just have to sit back and wonder: is there any point to trying? Should I just keep all of this stuff to myself since most people, even ones who claim they're "go-getters" and want to better their situations, don't? Have we reached a point where the vast majority either openly or secretly are sitting around waiting for Uncle Scam to just steal from people who have built themselves up and hand it off to those who've never even glanced at a work boot? Or is it that most of you actually don't mind the thought of going to work for 30-40 years where someone else dictates how much you can earn, to maybe retire someday after you're old and used up?

Why should I even give a thought to people who could improve their situations, but just don't?

If it sounds like I'm angry, I am. Because I've worked my way up to a relatively comfortable spot, I get bombarded daily with accusations of having somehow done something wrong, that I don't deserve it, that my wealth is "an injustice", that it should be taken from me, blah blah blah, even as I try to show people some of the ways I've pulled off what I have and how they can, too. 

Then I see, first hand, what a lot of you actually do when you're offered a hand-up to reach the bottom rungs of the ladder. 

Well fuck you then.*

If you're finding this post personally insulting, good! If I am describing you and it's pissing you off, ask yourself this: why are you getting defensive about your shitty behavior? How is repeating shitty behavior over and over again going to improve your situation? CHANGE! GET OFF YOUR ASS! NOT LATER, RIGHT NOW!

People like me are literally growing wealthier every single day. A few of us, myself included, keep trying to get more of you on this ride. Wealth is not a zero sum game, we do not have to hide any of this stuff from you, in fact the opposite is true! 

There is not a mutually beneficial way for us to do this for you, however. We can lay out many paths forward for you, draw a map and hand it to you, but you have to travel the path on your own two feet. We can't carry you, and you will get absolutely nowhere if you won't even take the first step.

You have a shrinking number of days on this earth. What are you waiting for?


* I don't sincerely mean "fuck you", that's just to punctuate the point here (Unless you're a socialist/communist, then absolutely, fuck you, I hope you die. Well, ok, just the ones who push forced collectivization. You folks forming voluntary co-ops/collectives, you're fine, calm down). But seriously, people, this stuff has never been easier to get into and profit from than it is now, and as hard as some of us try to get you prospering, you just don't! It's hard to make this much easier than free, and absolutely none of it is going to work for you without you!

07 February 2021

Learning Spanish with Duolingo

As part of my ex-pat ambitions, I've been learning Spanish. Several of the places I've explored and will be exploring in the near future are those where Spanish is the dominant language, so I've taken to studying it. 

I've been using a free app, Duolingo, to do this. You can use this app to not only learn Español, but dozens of languages, without paying a penny if you don't want to (like a lot of opt-in products, you get more features if you do subscribe). 

I've typically spent just five to ten minutes per day with the app, but today I went on a bit of spree and worked with it for about a half hour. 

My recommendation: speak out loud the words and sentences you are reviewing as you go, and when prompted to type in translations, use your phone's speech-to-text feature instead. That kind of practice really helps to cement in your brain the new language you are attempting to pick up. In my experience, this makes the lessons more fun, too. 

Maybe some day I'll return to here, Bogota, Colombia, to try it again with more language skills under my belt (and probably Cartagena; I really enjoyed my brief visit to Bogota, but it is at a relatively high elevation, 8600 feet, so I'll be keeping it on my "Southern Hemisphere Summer" list as ¡yo no quiero estamo frío! :)  ).

A panoramic shot I took of Bogota from the monastery atop Cerro de Monserrate, 27 December 2018

31 January 2021

My Acorns+Lolli Cash Back Stack: How to Invest with Literally Zero Room In Your Budget

I wrote recently about the power of investing "little bits" from your earnings/income to get ahead, in particular to leave behind the need to work

I acknowledged in that post that there are those out there who literally do not have those little bits left over in their budgets. I know you're out there. 

I have a way around that dilemma you can use. This is how I build up my investments with cash I must spend on essentials, which for this example is food and fuel (this is a real example, I do this all the time).  

There are a few things you will need for this:
  • A checking account
  • A debit or credit card (ideally, a card that features cash back in some form)
  • An Acorns account (this link will get you a $5 sign-up bonus to get started)
  • A Lolli account (this is how you are going to get free Bitcoin)
  • Optional, for enhanced earnings later on: A BlockFi account (this is how you earn Bitcoin on your Bitcoin)
  1. In your new Acorns account, link up your checking account and the credit and/or debit card you make regular purchases with (you can link multiple cards)

  2. Install the free Acorns browser extension (important: if you use any kind of cookie blocker, turn it off for the Acorns.com site and any merchant site where you shop with the plugin, or when using the Found Money portal on Acorns.com)

  3. Install the Lolli browser extension (also turn off cookie blocking for the Lolli.com site, the extension itself if prompted, and the merchant website where you are shopping with it)

  4. The BlockFi account will not require any additional set-up at this time (there is an Acorns offer there that the extension will alert you to though!)

  5. Shop for necessities!
*quick note about these browser extension links: these are for the Chrome/Brave version, but other browsers are supported, you may have to search separately for the correct extensions; I recommend you check out the Brave browser, you can earn the Basic Attention Token just for using it!
If you dig through the offerings in both Acorns and Lolli, you'll see that most of the options are in the "consumer discretionary" categories: mostly wants, few needs. For a tight budget, this is a deal breaker.

This is where adding the browser extensions comes into play: they will alert you when you are on a website that offers a kickback, and it may be with merchants you would not have expected. 

My example from today in this regard: the grocery store I usually make curbside pick-up purchases with.

Food. A basic need.

Here's what I did:

First, I went to my grocer's website, like usual. Only this time, the Lolli app alerted me that they've partnered with my grocer. That means I could get Bitcoin back on this purchase. The alert terms and conditions stated "at least 1% back".

I'm also earning fuel discount points with this grocer, redeemable at Chevron or Texaco stations, and I used a 2% cash back credit card. 

Today's purchase came to $38.69. I received:
  • $0.77 cents of cash back from my card
  • 38 fuel reward points, potentially worth $0.95 cents (more on that later)
  • $1.35 worth of Bitcoin (approximately .000041 satoshis at today's BTC price) -- 3.5% back!
So totaling this up, I spent $38.69 on necessities and received kickback benefits of $2.12 (not including the fuel rewards at the moment, the reason why will become clear below), an immediate return of 5.48%! 

This is just the start, however. 

Depending on what merchant you are spending money with, they may be partnered with either Lolli or Acorns, neither, or sometimes both. You can only use ONE of the programs at a time, so if both offer  you something, look each over and activate the option with the greater reward. Don't get greedy here because merchants will only honor one reward program at a time, and possibly will grant neither if they detect you activating multiple offers at once. 

Anyway, I said that this example would also include purchasing fuel, another necessity, so here we go...

I buy fuel for my car and my work trucks at Chevron/Texaco, because in my experience their fuels are superior products to that of their competitors, and because they offer a bonus investment for Acorns account holders: spend at least $20 on an Acorns-linked card at the pump and you'll get a .25 cent bonus investment.

Right now, the best-priced Chevron station near me is selling 87 octane unleaded at $2.57/gallon. To buy $20 worth, I would purchase 7.78 gallons (roughly). 

However, I have fuel discount rewards from my grocer of 3.8 cents/gallon from my example purchase (the actual terms are 1 fuel reward of .10 cents/gallon per $100 spent with my grocer, so these numbers are hypothetical, just to demonstrate how this all works based on this one grocery purchase I made today). The discount per gallon is available up to 25 gallons per redemption, but to this example within the context of a smaller budget, I will detail this with a fuel purchase just large enough to get the Acorns bonus.

Because this lowers the price I pay at the pump before fuel is dispensed, it gets me a little more fuel for $20: 7.89 gallons (and that gets me a bit further down the road for the same amount of money...). 

I'm again using my 2% cash back card. 

So, with the purchase now complete, I have spent $58.69 on necessities and received:
  • $0.77 cents of cash back from my card for the groceries
  • 38 fuel reward points
  • $1.35 worth of Bitcoin (approximately .000041 satoshis at today's BTC price) for the groceries
  • $0.40 cents of cash back for the fuel
  • $0.28 cents of additional fuel (difference of available gallons @ $20 with/without rewards discount @ $2.57/gallon
  • $0.25 deposited by Chevron into my Acorns account
That makes for an all-in kickback total of $3.05 on $58.69 spent on necessities, for a final return of 5.2%. All without a penny of additional money out of my budget!

So that's then $1.35 of Bitcoin in the Lolli "wallet" and .25 cents invested into my Acorns account directly, leaving the $1.17 of cash back not invested (a total of $2.77; the other .28 cents of kickback value is in your gas tank). When my card's statement closes and that cash becomes accessible, I can either apply it to the statement balance for an effective discount of 2% on my purchases, or since it's "free money" at my disposal that is not a part of my budget, I'm free to plug it into my investments (one good use for cash back: since your Acorns account will draw "round-ups" from your checking account, unless you turn them off, let your cash back cover rounds-ups in part or in full).

(Again, the fuel rewards terms are that 1 reward of .10 cents/gallon becomes available for each $100 of qualifying grocery purchases, so in practice this has to be taken into account in the actual workings of this spending approach. However, because it is valid on up to 25 gallons of fuel per transaction per my grocer's program, if you invest in a few gas cans like I have, then the kickback return on the total outlay assuming $100 spent on groceries and 25 discounted gallons of fuel purchased at $2.47/gallon actually pushes the rate of return to 5.86%, $9.49 of total rewards/discounts received on $161.75 spent.)

Final boost to the whole thing: once you have $15 worth of Bitcoin in your Lolli wallet, you can withdraw it to another Bitcoin wallet elsewhere. This is where BlockFi comes in: I store part of my Bitcoin hodl (Bitcoin lingo for your stash) there where it presently earns 6% annually, paid in Bitcoin. Not only am I getting free Bitcoin by buying my wants and needs, but my collection of satoshis is growing passively, too. 

Times are rough right now for a lot of people, no denying that. What I'm hoping to do here is show everyone, whatever their current situation, that there are ways to drum up those powerful little bits with spending you have to do anyway and put them to work building you a better tomorrow. This is but one way I do it, and there are tweaks out there to make what I've shown you here generate even better returns (I wanted to keep it relatively simple today). 

The referral links you need to set this up, several of which will give you bonuses to start:

29 January 2021

The Revolution Will Be Decentralized

"All the years I talked trash about bitcoin, I apologise [sic], now I genuinely understand the value of having a system not controlled by the government, where they can not on a whim decide to inflate the money supply and bail out their friends, while you carry the load in the form of additional taxes and inflation."
From: After GME I finally understand Bitcoin on r/bitcoin 


Did They Get You To Trade Your Heroes For Ghosts?

(they did it to protect themselves and their hedgie buddies)

(they're screwing retail for their own benefit again, just one day later)

Robinhood, in Need of Cash, Raises $1 Billion From Its Investors
(Sequoia Capital, Citadel...)

Did Biden's Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen Violate Her Ethics Agreement by Participating in Matters Involving Citadel?
(...which has paid Yellen $1 million for "speaking fees" BUT THERE'S NOTHING TO SEE HERE!!!1)

(and they're trying to stomp us out)

Wish you were here...

We Like the Coin

We like the coin. 

28 January 2021

Delete FarcebooTwatterInstadegenerate

Turns out that Pamela Anderson and I have something in common. 

"...try not to be seduced by wasted time."
"...Big Tech companies are seeking "control over your brain." 

-- P. Anderson
That's why I'm out. 

Wish I had done it years ago. 

Time is the commodity that you can never get back...

Source: https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/pamela-anderson-quits-social-media-warns-big-tech-seeking-control

Robinhood: Robbing from the Retail Trader and Giving to the "Elite"

I have been trading and building a long position in Nokia stock for the past four or five months on Robinhood. 

I awoke this morning to find that I can no longer do that. They have "stopped supporting" the stock and a number of others, so all I can do now is sell. 

I went to the Google Play store and changed the review I had previously given the Robinhood app:
Years ago I left this review here: "Best broker out there for the little guy, period." I am changing that today, January 28th, 2021 following Robinhood's actions to defend the entrenched elite that screws over the "little guy" for fun and profit. I have been trading NOK for the past four or five months. I awoke this morning to find out that all I can do is close my positions. We all know why this is happening. What is unbelievable is RH's actions. Locking people out of stocks they want will destroy the value of those stocks. You are hurting people who have done nothing wrong. At the very least, expect class action lawsuits, but I would also expect that your employees' safety is now in danger. I am winding up my trades and closing my RH account, I will no longer refer people to this captive brokerage, in fact I will be telling everyone to stay away from it. RH = TRAITORS to the American Dream.

This is unbelievable. People are being punished for liking a stock, be they part of the wallstreetbets crew or not (In my case, not). This doesn't solve anything, it will only hurt "the little guy" who has invested in this stock. All anyone can do on this brokerage (and a few others, I'm hearing rumors of more having done the same thing) is rush for the exits. If enough brokerages follow suit, this is going to cause share values to plummet in a way that's just as artificial as the so-called manipulation these assholes claim they're combatting. 

The people running Robinhood no doubt are buddies with the banksters, the hedgies, probably even the charlatan politicians that for whatever reason keep getting elected in this dying country. From election fraud, to big tech censorship, to a blind eye constantly being turned to democrat violence by .gov and mainstream media, to this: the entire thing is a rigged game against us "commoners", and they're becoming more open and blatant about it by the day. 

Don't keep empowering these people. As much and as best you can, stop supporting them, stop buying from them, stop using their apps. This is becoming a war, and if we lose, we will be slaves.

I am removing all referral links to Robinhood I have ever posted on this blog. I will be winding down my trades there, closing my positions, and closing my account. I recommend that you do the same. This abusive behavior by Robinhood WILL be repeated in the future if you let them get away with it, and other brokerages will begin doing the same if they see that it was "safe" for Robinhood to do. If we do not tell them, loud and clear, that this is absolutely unacceptable, it will become standard practice. 

Postscript: I made it out with a tiny gain, just before Nokia really began to dive. Yesterday I had gains that were 3-4x what I just escaped with, all destroyed by these thieves. This is not just any so-called "manipulation" from yesterday being given back, the price action has now descended below the market's organic reaction to news that came out about Nokia early in the week. This is blatant manipulation of the market by Robinhood et al., and there are no doubt hedge funds and big banks that are benefitting from short positions right now, probably after coordinating with the brokerages that participated in this attack on the free market.

More: if you are closing out your Robinhood account, get your cash out ASAP like I am. They are probably going to be hit with so many withdrawal requests that it's possible they will be unable to fulfill them. Don't find out the hard way that these pricks are actually insolvent.

27 January 2021

r/wallstreetbets vs. The Hedgies

Unless you truly live under a rock, you've probably seen the headlines about the battle between the Reddit group, wallstreetbets, and various hedge funds, with GameStop stock (GME) as their chosen battlefield.

(Actually, if you do in fact live under a rock, chances are you have 5G anyway, maybe thanks to Nokia.)

There's already tons of commentary out there on the action, so I'm just going to share my favorite quick take on what's going on, straight from the tendie-stuffed mouths of the foot soldiers of the rebellion themselves:

lol, love it!

26 January 2021

"Don't believe your lying eyes"

"Political correctness is communist propaganda writ small. In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lost once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One's standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. I think if you examine political correctness, it has the same effect and is intended to."  -- Theodore Dalrymple 

25 January 2021

I Spun The Wheel and Took a LEAP on Nokia

I've been turning "The Wheel" on Nokia for several months now. For those who are not familiar with this options trading strategy, I've included the video at the bottom of this post. 

Today was very different though. 

Whether it was the news about Nokia's world-first deployment of a working 4G/5G Network Slicing attempt, or some random analyst's report (doubt that, no one really cares what analysts think), it caused a gap-up at the open that not only sustained throughout the trading day, but rallied into the close and rocketed higher in the after hours.

In my turns of The Wheel with this stock, I am presently "back to cash," so I was looking to sell puts. For months I've been swinging back and forth on the $4 weekly strikes going both directions, collecting premium the whole way, but this morning the action began above the $4.50 weeklies. 

A bit riskier! Riskier, because there was no telling if that price would hold. It was a gap-up, after all, and those tend to "fade"; that is, fall until they again meet the closing price from the previous session. 

On the other hand, if the price could hold up through today's session with a big daily gain, it could catch the attention of the "Robinhood crowd", a general description for a new breed of investor (speculator, really) that behaves as a momentum trader. Combine that with "techiness" of a 5G whatever headline and a "cheap" share price, the following day could be a rocket ride. 

So into the $4.50 January 29th expiration puts I went, selling them for $39/contract. 

I also believe that Nokia has a bright future ahead with 5G as the catalyst for a return to glory (for what it's worth, that analyst's note speculates that they may even reinstate their dividend this year, too). So, with the premiums I collected from the cash secured puts I had just sold, I bought January 2023 $4 calls, known as LEAPs, short for, "Long-Term Equity Anticipation Securities". 

Because an options contract controls 100 shares of the stock it is tied to, in essence I bought about two years of the right to control 100 shares of Nokia per contract at $4/share, $400 worth, for which I paid $196 per contract. I chose "in the money" contracts for reasons I might get into in a future post (Poor Man's Covered Calls, also because the delta was .75 at the time). Since these purchases were funded 78% with the premiums I collected writing cash secured puts that expire at the end of this week, I've got relatively little of my own money tied up in these things at the outset here, but with huge potential gains and limited downside (unless the company suddenly disappears tomorrow - unlikely). 

As of now in the after hours, Nokia has reached $5.16/share. Tomorrow will likely be very interesting. 

Lots of stuff here, lots of angles to this to explore and I'm definitely not doing it justice as a "how to", but I'm just wanting to chronicle what I did today rather than create any kind of a guide. That said, if you're curious about this stuff, I am using Robinhood for these trades, and this link will get you a free stock if you open an account and link a bank account to it. Knowledge is most of what you need to generate income from this stuff, the rest is tools; let me hook you up with the tools, get you a free stock and a brokerage account with no annual or maintenance fees, the knowledge can come later.


24 January 2021

Great American Mining: Converting Environmental Pollutants into Bitcoin

I came across this today, discovered it via a link posted to a Bitcoin "instance" on the Mastodon network (worth checking out if  you are turned off by Big Tech social media platforms; I believe it is the antidote to the poison they create). 

Great American Mining builds BTC mining platforms that harness "waste gas" from oil and gas operations to generate power to run Bitcoin mining rigs. These are gases that are otherwise simply "flared off", burned, to prevent them from floating off into the earth's atmosphere. It's better to release them as C02 than in their "raw" forms, but still an unfortunate waste because that energy simply vanishes in flame, unused. 

Not with this solution. Instead, pollution is tackled AND turned into something useful and valuable. 

One of the false FUD attacks that's popular to make against Bitcoin is that it "pollutes by using massive amounts of power." Nonsense. Like most lies, this one attempts to prove its false premise by dropping relevant context. Some iterations of this lie do things like compare the network's current energy consumption to a cherry picked assortment of small countries. Absolutely meaningless. You have to make meaningful comparisons, such as comparing Bitcoin to what it could replace: traditional banks, which when measured in terms of energy consumption powering only their branch buildings, ATMs, and servers (they have far more energy costs than just these three items), use about 3.5 times as much energy as the entire Bitcoin network, which needs none of those things. 

Additionally, as that link states, most of the Bitcoin network's power is coming from so-called renewable sources. Great American Mining's creation is a prime example of this. 

One of my clients is a municipal waste dump (a landfill). On the grounds there is a flare station, which all waste dumps in the U.S. have, the purpose of which is to vent and flare off methane gas that builds up as organic matter decays in the landfill. This prevents the gas from creeping into homes and businesses, so it serves a very useful purpose already, but all of that energy is just wasted. Imagine one of these mining rigs installed at such sites, generating revenue for the municipality, lowering taxes for the population there, and reducing the environmental footprint of the landfill and the legacy banking system...

Related: get $10 of free Bitcoin when you buy or sell $100 of crypto on Coinbase

23 January 2021

The Power of Little Bits

It's winter where I'm at, and as I stare out the window by my computer, nature is telling us all so with a fresh blanket of snow, ice, and freezing fog. 

Definitely not my cup of tea. 
I'd rather be here, where "snow" is something
they put in a paper cone and douse
with fruit flavorings!)

That photo is one I took on the island of Caye Caulker in Belize close to this time last year. The topic of this post is how I got there: the power of little bits. 

The "little bits" I'm referring to is the series of investments I've made over roughly the past twenty years, and continue to make. Up until about the last five or six years, my income has never been much more than what one would probably describe as "average" in the context of the U.S. economy. I was a W-2 wage earner getting paid whatever the market and a boss deemed "enough" before I started my own business and grew it. For the most part, my pre-entrepreneur income was "enough", defined as "bills paid, debts serviced, lights on, food in the fridge", with a little left over. 

That "little left over" part is what I used to lay the foundation of where I'm at now, and what enabled me to just go to Belize for a couple weeks last year. Where a lot of people take the little left over part of their income and spend it on fun in the here-and-now, I made the decision to start accumulating assets. Those assets now pay for my fun (and a majority of my day-to-day expenses).

All I had at first were little bits, so I started building a little at a time. 

I've tried to tell people about this stuff over the years, people that for various reasons I perceived as being receptive to the ideas behind the things I've done that have led to me doing things like flying south and hanging out in the sun, not producing anything, but receiving income the whole time anyway (dividends, mainly, but also via a little remote work, some newer side stuff I'm growing). 

For the most part, people are interested in this stuff, but then flat out reject all of it when they find out some work is involved, for a variety of "reasons" that generally amount to "that sounds hard!" The few that are still interested past that point, they often lose their remaining interest when they realize that the results I'm enjoying now won't manifest overnight (some version of "that takes too long!"). 

What it always seems to come down to is that a majority of people believe they need "life-changing money" right now to make the kind of lifestyle I'm beginning to enjoy possible, and the impression I've gotten from most of these discussions is that they think it needs to arrive via some stroke of luck (perhaps why there seems to be so many about these days who believe that "rich" people don't earn their wealth through work). So, for lack of a sudden huge lump sum immediately in-hand, they just retreat into their current lives and use their little bits to get some immediate gratification. 

I'll be honest: getting immediate gratification with those little bits IS more fun than using them to acquire assets. That's because at any point in the process, plugging those little bits into the asset column on one's balance sheet typically does not make a major, immediate impact, both in terms of net worth and passive income. In the very beginning, and for several years following, "the needle" barely moves and it is easy to perceive it all as pointless. The thoughts go something like: "I just bought $5 worth of XYZ stock at a 4% yield and got a whopping 1.7 cents per month of new income... Yipee, I could have had a cheeseburger. I really want a cheeseburger." I know, I was there in the beginning.

Quick question: if you never get started on something, how much progress do you make toward that goal?

Yes, starting out sucks. Staying consistent with something that appears to have no near term impact, sucks. Delaying gratification, possibly for years, also sucks. 

You know what sucks even more?

Letting your time slip by and one day finding yourself with a body that can't just go make some more money at work anymore, but still having a functioning brain that remembers all the big things you wanted to do, all of the useless, momentary crap you blew your energy on over the years instead, then ultimately going out old, frustrated, poor, and full of regret.

Think about that. Visualize that being you some day in the future. Is the "cheeseburger" still appetizing?

Now I'd like to clear up one thing here before moving on: I am not one of those "stop buying lattes and become a millionaire in 30 years" guys. I do not believe that the road to riches is total self-denial. The guys out there preaching that, they're probably lying: they still buy cheeseburgers and lattes, they just use the money they get from selling you bullshit .pdf "courses" that tell you to do that. Trying to turn yourself into an extreme ascetic in pursuit of wealth is bound to fail as it's an ideological contradiction: why the hell are you pursuing personal wealth, for your own use and enjoyment, if you are practicing self-denial? You're not doing the former in order to do the latter, so any such attempts will ultimately fail since its incoherent behavior. Most people who go this route make it for a little while, then the dam breaks and binge indulgences tend to wipe out most or all of their progress. Rinse, repeat.

This is also not intended to motivate you with fear. That never works. This isn't about running away from something that scares you (the awful thought I described above for example), this is about running toward the things that you want. Positive building, not fearful hoarding.

I believe in living now, and living even better later. It can be done, and those little bits are how you pull it off. 

You've probably heard "pay yourself first" before. Generally that comes with a rule-of-thumb recommendation to set aside 10% of everything you take in for saving and investing. That's the basic idea of using your little bits, but don't get stuck on any particular percentage. Rather, what you should aim to do is make investing your surpluses a habit, be they large or small. If you can't swing 10% right now, fine, do 9%. Or 8, or 7, or... you get the idea. Anything above "zero" and you're in the game.

On that note, a quick thought to consider: the difference between you and "the 1%" is not your wealth vs. their wealth, it's what you do with your free cash and what they do with theirs; do what they do (keep reading!). 

I started out like this, setting aside 10% of everything I took in. It didn't always go perfectly, sometimes things came up and I unfortunately had to lower the percentage, or even scrap some investments to cover immediate needs. Definitely discouraging, but I pressed on. These days I invest a lot more than 10% of what I'm taking in, WAY more, and it's actually an inevitable side effect of the process I've been utilizing for years. I now perpetually acquire assets because for the most part I never sell (something for a future blog post, definitely).

I've used and continue to use a number of products and approaches to investing my little bits, investing in a lot of different markets (I do a little trading, too, but not much of my net worth is dedicated to trading since I prefer avoiding short term capital gains taxes, and I find the noise of short term price fluctuations annoying). 

One of the tools I began using years ago and still do is Acorns

Acorns has been around for a while, so you may have heard of it. For those who haven't, it is what's commonly called a "micro investment" platform that operates on "round-ups". There's now several entities out there that use this concept, but as far as I know, Acorns was the first. 

It goes like this: you create an Acorns account, which can be a regular brokerage account (taxable, but assets it contains are fully accessible to you at any age), or an IRA account (not taxable, but assets it contains can only be tapped without penalty after a certain age, and then may or may not be taxable depending on the IRA type). You then log in to Acorns and link credit and/or debit cards you regularly spend with to your account. Acorns then monitors your transactions and "rounds up" the total. When your round-ups total at least $5, the amount is drawn from your linked checking account and invested into the stock and bond portfolio you've selected for your account (Acorns has a short menu of portfolios to choose from, all you have to decide on is your risk preference; you don't have to research a bunch of stocks).

Using the proverbially denigrated latte as an example, if you buy one for $5.50 on one of your linked cards, Acorns will count .50 cents as a "round-up." Do that ten times, the total round-ups equal $5. Acorns then draws that from your linked checking account, invests it, then resets the round-up counter to zero and starts over.

This works with all of the purchases you put through your linked cards, but some merchants also offer to make bonus investments into your account if you shop with them through a partnership they have with Acorns. This can be earned via a shopping portal integrated into the Acorns site, or in some cases being credited to your account automatically for offline, "real world" purchases. One that I use all the time is a .25 cent bonus from Chevron (also Texaco) for fuel purchases of at least $20. Since I'm filling up my work trucks all the time, I take advantage of this. I need fuel anyway, my money is going to be spent on fuel regardless, so why not gain this additional little bit and add it to an asset that is paying me to own it? All I have to do is swipe one of my linked cards at the pump, and Chevron sends my .25 cent bonus to Acorns automatically. I've racked up dozens of these bonuses every month for years. It adds up.

This starts off slow at first, but then something else starts to happen: the various investments in your Acorns account begin paying dividends, which reinvest and buy more shares, which increases the value of the whole account and the amount of dividends you receive the next time around...

It's a simple system that works extremely well, in my experience, especially for using "little bits" to eventually grow something massive. The automatic nature of it is also a useful "hack" during the period of time when you're developing the investing habit, which later on you can utilize Acorns for, too, as choosing to invest additional sums of money into your account can be done any time you like. 

There are costs for this service, the lowest cost option being $1 per month (that's the one I'm using at this point in time). That fee and the round-ups are drawn from your linked checking account, so you do have to keep an eye on that and account for them in your checking ledger. For the $1 fee, Acorns handles investing your incoming funds, reinvesting dividends, even an occasional rebalancing of your portfolio, all automatically. Before you know it, dividends your investments earn will cover the fee anyway.

The Acorns referral link I've repeatedly provided here will give you a $5 sign-up bonus, invested into your new account. Your first little bit.

So in a sense, this is a way to have your latte and drink it, too. Not really possible but... you know what I mean. The little bits represented by round-ups get you your start. Over time as you watch your Acorns account grow, the reward center in your brain slowly rewires and eventually it is investing that brings you pleasure, not cheeseburgers, lattes, or whatever fleeting, momentary thing regularly crosses your path and your mind. It's not that you'll necessarily start totally rejecting those things (like I said, I don't believe in doing that), but that you may find your in-the-moment thinking changing and aligning with long term, larger goals and greater values, and end up choosing those things instead. Not rejection, not self-denial, but wanting something else more.

If you experience what I have over the years of doing this, one of the first things that changes in your "money thinking" as your investments grow is that worries about monthly bills fade away. Some time after that, fear about your job security begins to evaporate. A lot of things in life begin to look different, in a good way, as you mitigate or outright eliminate sources of financial stress from your life. Eventually you get to what people call the "abundance mindset" and you leave behind the "scarcity mindset" (perhaps another topic for a future post). 

You likely then have also established investing as a habit, meaning you have mastered the hardest part of all of this stuff and it didn't take "life changing money" falling into your lap to do it (which will likely never happen anyway; it's ok, you don't need it to). Next thing you know, your little bits have propelled you overseas, perhaps to Belize for a few weeks while back home there is snow and ice everywhere you look...

That's the power of little bits, and why I believe in them as much as I do. 

22 January 2021

Did You Buy the Dip?

Nothing like a little MSM ginned up FUD to cause a Bitcoin panic selloff in the middle of a bull cycle (see: The Bitcoin Double-Spend That Never Happened).

Thanks for the discount, folks!

21 January 2021

A Little Humor

Seen elsewhere on the 'net today:

My wife: you need to do more chores around the house. 

Me: Can we change the subject?

My wife: Ok, more chores around the house need to be done by you. 


17 January 2021

Social Media Purge

If you're looking here for me now that I've deleted my presence on the major social media platforms, good for you. It shows that you can still think outside of the box and you have not been fully trained to believe that those platforms are what life is. They are designed to be addicting and they warp your perception of reality, often in terrible, mind and soul destroying ways, for profit. 

When people disappear from those platforms, it does not mean they've died, it does not mean they've ceased to exist. 

Quite the opposite. 

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