February 29 Take Two

If all went well we left New Zealand last night we flew to the Cook Islands where we will be until this weekend when we return to Arizona. New Zealand and the Cook Islands are 23 hours apart on the clock but as a practical matter are only one hour apart. We spent the entire day of February 29 in Auckland before taking off around 7:30 pm. We landed a little after midnight in Rarotonga on February 29 thus having the day again–of course we lost a day coming over here but it is just an odd thing of how the world works. Anyhoo, the housing market still stinks. The latest Case Shiller numbers showed prices “3.8% in December from a month earlier and dropped 4% year-over-year.” With things like this I am not necessarily the one to make the case for why things will get better or worse so much as trying to understand the macro picture, take in both arguments and decide which way to lean in the portfolio. This describes an active decision based on an assessment of current events so as should always be mentioned; an active portfolio is a series of decisions of which some will be correct and some incorrect. The portfolio doesn’t need every decision to be correct in order to succeed. No one can be right with every decision. I do share my assessment (this is different than trying to make an economic argument) on these sorts of things and my assessment has been the same for a long time which is that this was the worst financial crisis in 80...

February 29 Take Two

If all went well we left New Zealand last night we flew to the Cook Islands where we will be until this weekend when we return to Arizona. New Zealand and the Cook Islands are 23 hours apart on the clock but as a practical matter are only one hour apart. We spent the entire day of February 29 in Auckland before taking off around 7:30 pm. We landed a little after midnight in Rarotonga on February 29 thus having the day again–of course we lost a day coming over here but it is just an odd thing of how the world works. Anyhoo, the housing market still stinks. The latest Case Shiller numbers showed prices “3.8% in December from a month earlier and dropped 4% year-over-year.” With things like this I am not necessarily the one to make the case for why things will get better or worse so much as trying to understand the macro picture, take in both arguments and decide which way to lean in the portfolio. This describes an active decision based on an assessment of current events so as should always be mentioned; an active portfolio is a series of decisions of which some will be correct and some incorrect. The portfolio doesn’t need every decision to be correct in order to succeed. No one can be right with every decision. I do share my assessment (this is different than trying to make an economic argument) on these sorts of things and my assessment has been the same for a long time which is that this was the worst financial crisis in 80...

International Living?

A reader asks; Do you ever return from an international trip wishing you lived in another country besides the United States? This question has come up several times over the years on this blog, various magazines, MSM websites and there are websites devoted entirely to this subject. Doesn’t everyone watch House Hunters International and wonder what if for at least a minute or two? Living in another country is intellectually appealing to many people on some level. In many instances it is cheaper than living in the US which makes financial plans go a lot further. A $5000 monthly lifestyle in the US might only take $3000 or $3500 in a well chosen foreign destination. Additionally many countries offer very attractive tax benefits or other forms of lifestyle discounts that make it much cheaper to get on. The dollar size for a portfolio can obviously be much smaller when the income need is $3000 per month versus $5000. There are of course drawbacks that relate to family and medical care among others. For people who need to spend a lot of time with family (not a knock, some people do) it would be easy to envision any savings living abroad being soaked up by traveling back to the US. This doesn’t have to be bad but would seem to nullify one advantage. Another potential drawback is medical care. If you do some research you will find plenty to tell you that medical care in some country is just as good as the US but I could see this being a situation where you may not really find out until...

International Living?

A reader asks; Do you ever return from an international trip wishing you lived in another country besides the United States? This question has come up several times over the years on this blog, various magazines, MSM websites and there are websites devoted entirely to this subject. Doesn’t everyone watch House Hunters International and wonder what if for at least a minute or two? Living in another country is intellectually appealing to many people on some level. In many instances it is cheaper than living in the US which makes financial plans go a lot further. A $5000 monthly lifestyle in the US might only take $3000 or $3500 in a well chosen foreign destination. Additionally many countries offer very attractive tax benefits or other forms of lifestyle discounts that make it much cheaper to get on. The dollar size for a portfolio can obviously be much smaller when the income need is $3000 per month versus $5000. There are of course drawbacks that relate to family and medical care among others. For people who need to spend a lot of time with family (not a knock, some people do) it would be easy to envision any savings living abroad being soaked up by traveling back to the US. This doesn’t have to be bad but would seem to nullify one advantage. Another potential drawback is medical care. If you do some research you will find plenty to tell you that medical care in some country is just as good as the US but I could see this being a situation where you may not really find out until...

ZQN to AKL

We are leaving Queenstown on Tuesday (NZ time) and headed to Auckland. We drove our RV, they’re called campervans here, through gold mining country, up to Greymouth, over to Christchurch, to Mount Cook, to Te Anau, then to Milford Sound and finally back to Queenstown where we hiked up above the city for some pretty good pictures and a very steep climb. The RV was very handy but also challenging. We slept very well in it, never needed to use the restroom or kitchen because the Holiday Parks have every conceivable thing you would need without having to utilize the RV other than to sleep. I may not have thought this before the trip but get the GPS, it is worth paying up. Ours was included in some package that we bought which was a great lesson on the utility on a trip like this. Regular blogging should resume tomorrow. Thanks for indulging me on this trip. Obviously when we take trips like this, work needs to continue and that includes...