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The Good News Blog. How to travel first class. How to avoid a Liquidity Event.

NVDA is up big time. It’s my second biggest holding.

Two of my grandkids are coming for Thanksgiving week.

+ Elanor,8 and Peter ,5(pictured) have had their first shot.

+ My two children (the parents of my grandkids) and their two spouses have all been boosted. So have I and Susan.

+ It’s 65 up here — 120 miles north of New York City. That’s amazing for mid-November.

+ My shoulder is hurting less. God bless Aleve II and my PMA (positive mental attitude).

+ I’ve found a tailor who will hem my pants. The 15 months of pandemic has caused my clothes to shrink, and my pants to lengthen. Such is life.

+ I saw a red fox this morning.

+ They resurfaced the roads in Columbia County, NY. Not a single pothole now. It’s a real pleasure to drive 6 miles for coffee and apple hand pies. NYC potholes destroy suspensions and run-flat tires (which I hate).

+ The world is awash with new investors. Every online help call center is telling you to call back “tomorrow.” Vanguard put a friend on hold for five days. I don’t make this up. He was trying to give them money. His wife dealt with Vanguard, in only two days.

I have a deal with my coffee shop if I find a single good news story in the NYTimes they just sold me, they will refund my $3.

Never happened. .

Today I’m out to find good news. See above.

Dollar Cost Averaging

Get married. Graduate. Have a birthday. Get a new job.

It’s time to start Dollar Cost Averaging, regular investing, or whatever they call it. The idea is that on the first of every month you contribute say $5,000 to your online brokerage account. The money comes automatically out of your bank account and is automatically invested in something/s you have chosen.

Everyone — from Vanguard to Fidelity, from Wealthfront to Morgan Stanley, from Coinbase to TDAmeritrade — will take your money and invest it automatically. At the end of the year or two or three, you’ll check and be pleasantly surprised. Caulk your new wealth to your old brilliance.

There are three advantages to this:

First, you don’t have to think. You can think about your job, your family, etc.

Second, you don’t have to time the market. No one can, but people try, get confused and don’t dive in. Doing it blindly — automatically — converts the inaction into action.

Third, it works.

I’ve been researching automatic investing for the past few days. There are wrinkles that make setting it up quite difficult.

There has to be a mechanism to dip into your bank account every month and remove the money. Then there has to be a mechanism to invest it and in what?

I asked one place about investing into my favorite ETF — namely Vanguard’s VGT. But they said they only did mutual funds — after the close of business. Which I can understand.  I scurried around and found VITAX, which is the same as VGT, but is a mutual fund. Some places wanted to invest in a broad array of funds which their computers choose for you and which were designed to limit your risk, or something. Algorithmic investing. Sounds to me like another name for higher fees.

Some places wanted hefty fees for managing the process.  Some funds have hefty 5.75% front end loads and hefty annual fees.

If you’re doing this long-term, you don’t want your stock appreciation eaten up in fees. So CHECK. CHECK. CHECK.

I’ll get you more as I learn more.

Peter Lynch had it right

If they’re good to buy from, buy their stock.

He forgot to say, if they’re lousy to buy from, dump their stock.

Case in point: Poshmark (POSH)

They sell second hand clothes. But their customer service — no phone, just email — is abysmal.

I’ve been trying to buy a nice suit from them. No one can tell me its size! Their site says the suit is 34L.

POSH went public early this year at $42, bounced up and then tanked big-time.

It’s an amazing story — one made even more  amazing if I showed you the many emails between them and over the size of the nice English suit I never bought.

In sharp contrast, my favorite tech store — B&H — has superlative customer service. Like many companies, they offer a “Chat” service, but with a huge wrinkle. During our chat conversation last night, their expert asked me if I’d like to go “video.” Two seconds later we’re on a zoom look-alike. I ask my questions. He shows me the equipment I’ll need (to start a podcast), one piece of equipment after another. Then we’re done and he sends me all the links to all the equipment I’ll need. It’s the best on-line customer service I’ve ever had from anyone. Bar none.

Sadly, I can’t buy stock in B&H. It’s owned by Herman Schreiber. Interestingly, many of the store’s employees are observant Satmar Hasidic Jews, Most of whom are really good on techie stuff. They’re closed on Friday afternoons and Saturdays, open Sundays. Go visit them if you’re in New York City. They have an amazing store.

Useful stuff

+ Water leaks cause huge damage. This Honeywell gadget will save your life:

When it detects water, it will send you an email and beep like crazy. This thing has alerted me to my incipient basement flood more than once. Click here.

Here’s a piece on water-proofing your home and avoiding costly damage. Click here.

+ Today I received this:

It looks legit. But it’s not. Clue: Look at the sender’s email address:

From Andy Borowitz 

Mark Zuckerberg Changes Name to Mother Teresa
“The name ‘Mark Zuckerberg’ did not accurately describe my function: to be a force for good, spreading love and kindness throughout the metaverse,” Mother Teresa said.

Inflation in the gas line

I love Quora

People ask it questions. Anyone can answer. And anyone does. This Q&A one caught my eye:

This morning I answered a phone call on my car keys.

I bet there are some cars you don’t need a key, just a phone, e.g. Tesla.

You think you got it bad? Try Lebanon

When I visited Lebanon in 1966, it was a paradise. The Paris of the Middle East. Now read what’s happened. This is from the NYTimes:

The Lebanese are now struggling to survive one of the world’s worst economic meltdowns of the past 150 years, a crisis the World Bank has called a “deliberate depression” perpetrated by a feckless ruling class. More than 70 percent of the population of a once-middle-income country now lives in poverty. The local currency has lost more than 90 percent of its value. In 2019, the Lebanese woke up one day to learn that the banks had locked them out of their accounts, leaving depositors unable to retrieve their rapidly depreciating funds. Triple-digit hyperinflation has taken hold. Food prices alone have increased 550 percent since 2019. Unemployment is soaring, businesses are closing and the country is hemorrhaging tens of thousands of people to emigration. Power outages can last for days. Internet services have become intermittent, and there are shortages of medications, from over-the-counter painkillers to cancer drugs, in a country once called the Hospital of the East. Hours- and even days-long lines for staples like bread and gas have become the norm.

How rich do you need to be?

My father said a man is rich if he can afford the lifestyle he wants to live. A penny more is waste.

He also warned me that if I didn’t travel first class, my children did. The irony of that is that my children started flying first class before I did. They used their miles and their golden tongues. I wish I were as persuasive (as golden-tongued) as my children.

See you soon. — Harry Newton