Some frank thoughts from a millennial

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  • Wed, Oct 23, 2019 - 08:01pm   (Reply to #9)

    #11
    ao

    ao

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    thank you Adam

I had debated writing a very lengthy response to DesertIndigo and others but your post saved me a lot of time.  I agree with just above everything you stated.  It’s all excellent advice.  But I have a bit more to share so I’ll pick up the ball and run some more with it from here.

This past year, my wife and I attended a Dave Ramsey course at our church.  His information is not sophisticated but it is sound.  Since I consider myself to be fairly sophisticated financially, the reason we took the course was two fold.  First, we wanted to get on the same page with a budget, given my impending retirement (at that time).  Second, I wanted to make myself available to help others with additional advice and recommendations and also to provide another perspective on certain areas where I don’t necessary agree with Dave Ramsey.  DR recommends investing in a good growth mutual fund claiming you’ll get an average annual return of 12%.  This figure is overly optimistic and even people in the DR organization are not making these kind of returns in their retirement accounts.  Also, the average individual in the course seemed to think of the 12% average annual return in terms of a 12% compounded return like one would have gotten in a bank CD 40 years ago when, in fact, the two are quite different.  So I was able to share some of my experiences and others shared their experiences and we all learned from DR and from each other.

Dave Ramsey’s book, Total Money Makeover, is a good place to start for beginners in the area of financial education.  I also  like The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton and Why Smart People Do Stupid Things With Money by Bert Whitehead, one of the top financial advisors in the country.  Your Money Ratios by Charles Farrell is an excellent book for measuring and guiding one’s financial progress.

I’m not too keen on financial advisors who take a percentage of your money annually, whether you gain or lose.  That 1% per year or so can really add up over a lifetime, especially when your portfolio gets into the high 6 figure and 7 figure (or higher) range.  If you’re going to use a financial advisor/planner, I’d strongly recommend a fee-only financial planner, an advisor who is compensated solely for his advice, not for what he sells nor from an annual percentage of your portfolio.  For example, in my particular geographical locale, this person is the only fee-only financial planner.  You can look over his website to see how he differs from most financial planners.  Disclaimer: Dennis is a friend of mine (and a person of the highest integrity).

http://dennisroubal.com/

My wife worked for another financial planner in our area for less than 6 months and the more she told me what was going on there, the more convinced I became that I would NEVER let this woman manage my money.  It was the only job my wife ever quit cold and walked out the door.  The integrity was not there.  And just so you know, one can technically comply with all regulations but still not be operating out of integrity.  So caveat emptor.

If you can spare the time and effort, I would suggest getting as financially educated as you can because you can save an enormous amount of money over your lifetime.  With a million dollar portfolio, your expenses paid to a financial planner can easily amount to $10,000 per year or more.  Using occasional consultations with a fee-only planner to bounce your ideas of off can save you much of that.

Warren Buffet gave some advice quite a while back as to how he would have his wife invest in a very simple and safe way if he were to die.  I will paraphrase it with accommodation to your younger age.  The rule of thumb has been to have a percentage of your portfolio in stocks equal to 100 minus your age with the remainder in bonds and a small amount in cash (but only AFTER covering your emergency expenses and living expenses as wisely noted by Adam).  As an aside, I personally look at $5,000 as the minimum for an emergency fund and savings to cover 6 months income as the minimum I’d want to have on hand.  So if you are 40 years old, you invest 60% of your portfolio in stocks and 40% in bonds.  Buffet recommended low expense ratio broad market funds like Vanguard’s Total Stock Market Index for stocks and Vanguard’s Total Bond Market Index for bonds.  I may not have those names of those funds exactly correct but you get the picture.  He would have her put 90-95% of her money into those two funds and keep 5-10% in cash.  And she would do better than 80% of the money managers out there.  And now, both Vanguard and Fidelity have funds with zero expense ratios.

I’ve told my wife pretty much the same thing albeit with a tweaking of the ratios.  We would have 10% in cash (Treasuries for longer term, money market accounts in top Weiss rated banks for shorter term of less than 1 year paying about 2%), 10% in commercial rental real estate, 30% in precious metals, 20% in a large cap multi-national blue chip dividend aristocrat and dividend king stock index, 10% in a utility stock index, 10% in a REIT index, and 10% in a total bond market index fund.  When you’re starting out, mutual funds are a good choice but ETFs have lower expense ratios and certain trading advantages.  When you have a larger portfolio (like high 6 or 7 figures or more) and develop more financial sophistication, you may want to think about getting individual stocks instead.  Individual stocks function better as there are no expenses involved in holding them, only trading them (and even those costs are disappearing, as I was recently notified by Schwab).  You can follow what the big boys like Warren Buffet are doing in Berkshire Hathaway or track what a good, solid growth mutual fund is doing for stock selections.

And yes, I would participate in a traditional retirement plan in the ways suggested by Adam but I would also invest in an alternate retirement plan (i.e. putting money into precious metals and real estate) as your finances allow.  Don’t go overboard in spending in the resiliency area though.  Knowledge and skills are more important than things and land.  Your things can be stolen and you can be forced to abandon a home and/or land but your knowledge and skills go with you everyplace.

It all sounds very daunting but to encourage you, I knew next to nothing about investing until I was about 40.  I also got burned pretty good with my first foray into owning an individual stock at age 27 and learned from that never to trust stock brokers or anyone other than myself, for that matter, as far as financial matters were concerned.  I started putting away retirement money at around age 30 into cash accounts (which were admittedly paying much higher interest back then).  I realized I had to get serious about this saving and investing for retirement issue at around age 40 and instituted a self taught crash course to educate myself.  I tried putting some of my money with a financial planning group when I was about 50 or so but I outperformed them so I decided to continue doing my own investing with occasional informal consultations with several friends who are financial advisors.  These sessions cost me nothing since I exchanged information with them on issues that they were not knowledgeable in so we both benefitted.

This post is getting quite long so I will pick up some additional information at a later time in a second post.  Hope this helps.

  • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by ao.
  • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by ao.

Adam, as usual, has very sound advice.

I’d like to chime in here though and underline, perhaps even emphasize, how important it is to have multiple income streams. Perhaps even more important than funding a Roth IRA or company match. Cash flowing real estate is hard to beat.

PP talks about this, quite wisely. Millennial readers, early in our marriage, my late husband and I intuitively thought that investing in a rental property or two might be a good idea.(We are generation “X”)  We did a little reading, talked to some smarter people, learned about things like the 1 percent rule, and took the plunge. (1 percent rule is the ‘quick and dirty’ rule of thumb, if comp rents in the area are one percent of the purchase price/month, you really should look at it, it will likely cashflow)

So, we bought a couple of low-end duplexes with the equity in our house that cash flowed. Eight years into ownership, and thirteen years into our marriage, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Time from diagnosis to death – 19 months. We were very, very happy we had exercised some foresight and developed a bit of a stomach for risk.

There is a societal collapse likely coming, and a personal apocalypse that could be just around the corner. Buying a few ounces of silver at a time, getting together with others in real estate ventures, or perhaps even doing what we did  can yield some very unexpected benefits.

Best of luck!

 

  • Wed, Oct 23, 2019 - 08:51pm

    #13
    Witt

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    Millennials and a new transition town

C…I hear you.  The few previous generations prior to yours did the exact same thing as you, the music stopped though for your group and now many in your age bracket are facing an uphill battle.  Finding PP at your stage of the game is smart, good luck or a dumb coincidence – kudos.

Not sure if this is at all helpful to the task at hand on bringing in millennial content to PP, but the ringer the millennials have been through may in the end be a saving grace to their situation in the long run, and a more rational, healthy future on this planet.

I live in the booming metropolis of the ‘it is never enough’ Austin, TX.  We have so many jobs, so many cars, so many ideas….. enough already.  We were fortunate enough to buy a home in a downtown, central neighborhood that was reasonably priced (2x’s a year’s salary – my Dad would be rolling over in his grave).  This can’t be done anymore unless you are very wealthy millennial.

I recently had a discussion with several colleagues from a wide spectrum of ages but the majority fit the millennial age range.  The major topic was we can’t afford to live / work here, but they are stuck.  They are working their way into the careers of choice, making connections, laying down roots but at a steep cost.

Your comment about transition towns hit home in this context – I have wondered with all this young energy, the experience of living / working in such an expensive and cut throat environment that it may be time to pick up and move.   Maybe not for me, too old and settled.  But those young people focused on the thoughts and ideas expressed in much of the PP community, that have yet to settle or through down roots can create a ground swell, a momentum of back to the town movement.  Not the hinterlands, but the towns and communities that await an awaking from the best of their past with the energy, knowledge and experience of the next generation.

Imagine, the vitality of a small suburban or rural (preferred) town 10, 20 or 50 miles from a major urban area. A place down on its luck looking to pull itself back up, and bang – an influx of young, motivated, educated hard working PPer types.  This demographic is a key component missing from so many of these places.  Take what has been learned while grinding it out in the way too expensive metros and place roots into a town that welcomes it, has room for it.  Places that were developed based on a more authentic way of life, connected to neighbors, to nature, to food and energy supplies that better fit the surrounding support systems.  I will be there soon enough once the kids are out of the house and we are taxed out of our home.  Best wishes and keep reading PP.

  • Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - 09:00am   (Reply to #9)

    #14
    ao

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    insurance

Sorry for your loss, vlierheimer.  That’s a tough hand to be dealt, especially so early in your married life.  As I’ve told my kids, life isn’t fair.  It just is what it is and one has to learn to how to deal with it the best one can (as I’m sure I don’t have to tell you who has gone through this ordeal).  I certainly identified with Sebastian’s comment under “Building A Homestead From Scratch” about the importance of mental strength, an observation which is so very true.  You sound like a mentally strong person.  Perhaps, if it isn’t too painful to recall, sharing how you got through this difficult time in your life may very well be valuable to the millennials (and others) because for all of us, “in this life, you will have troubles”.

Vlierheimer’s post underscores the importance of not ignoring insurance.  I know it’s expensive.  Whenever I do my taxes, it’s always my biggest expense.  But I always rested easy knowing my wife and children would be taken care of if something happened to me.  Health, auto, and homeowner’s insurance are all absolutely necessary but life and disability insurance and, if you have considerable assets, an umbrella policy, are important as well.  It does pay to shop around and review insurance costs annually to make sure you’re getting the best price and the best service.

But the problem is, all these things require money.  So we’ll get to that next.

  • Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - 10:34am

    #15
    Evogan

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    A Little Rant..

(I ’m a millennial also-27 years old)

Okay, so I agree that there’s not much for millennials on here. And I get it because you have to have content geared towards your main group of users on here. It’s like going to a retirement home and complaining there isn’t anything for younger people to do. (I’m not saying PP members are old, just an analogy)

The thing is, millennials are craving for some actual guidance. Our parents are indoctrinated into the system and still think things are going to stay the course. If you ask them what to do it’s the same: go to college, get a job, get into debt for a house, retire. That’s not how life is anymore, and older generations that are not in the same mindset as PP members are completely unaware.

I honestly don’t know what to really at my age, and it honestly scary. But I do have sort of a bone to pick with PP in general, just because some of the guidance contradicts itself.

There is talk about retirement, and I understand members on here are older and close to retirement. For millennials though retirement is never going to happen for us so we really have to stop pretending like it is. How come the richest generation to have ever lived on earth, the baby boomers, are in a retirement crisis as we speak? How is it there’s thousands of baby boomers living in rv’s moving from place to place looking for seasonal work? How come I see more older people having side jobs at retail stores, restaurants, etc.. A large portion of the the richest generation to ever live can’t even retire, so how in the world is anyone in my generation is going to retire. Not to mention when I’m retirement age there’s not going to be nearly as much fossils with a population larger than it is now.

It’s mentioned time and time again on here that “green energy” is not going to save us because it can’t. So when I’m retirement age green and renewable energy is not going to save us. So I know not to expect anything like that in the future. Retirement is not going to work for us millennials so stop pretending like it is.

And I can’t see investing in real estate to work for millennials also. There’s no way for us to afford the housing prices at their current level. Yes I know they are in a bubble and just to wait till it bursts… but millennials are already strapped for cash or any savings so how can any of them afford to invest in real estate when it goes on “sale” if they can barely get by now. (Yes I know buy gold and silver now and sell them when they’re high and real estate is low that’s what I’m doing right now, but we know not everything works as planned)

And if we were able to get our hands on real estate in this next housing cycle, from watching seminars it takes years to actually start having passive income. Which is fine, wealth takes long to build, you can’t get wealthy overnight. The only problem with that is we run out of time. We don’t have time after this next cycle to live a life we are now. How is any of our tenants going to pay their rent if so many of them are going to lose their jobs when this “everything bubble” finally bursts. Everyone says this time is going to be more of a depression than a recession. And by the time we finally get out of the depression, if we actually do, then we have to deal with the problem of diminishing fossil fuels. With most investment real estate in suburban areas, we know that the suburbs can’t survive without fossil fuels. And I haven’t even factored in climate change yet, which is going to have an effect on farming and food supplies multiplied with diminishing fossil fuels, suburbs are going to be a no go.

I know I sound like a whiny doomer millennial jerk, trust me I’m really not, I just needed to rant a little bit. I’m very open to discussion and welcome it.

And if you want to know my plan? Just invest in gold and silver and buy a homestead and live as self sustaining as possible. Because that’s the only thing I can seem working out.

With all the factors of the three E’s: economy, energy, and environment combined I don’t see retirement or investing in real estate feasible for my generation.

If the future is not going to be like “business as usual” then we can’t expect to retire the same, or build wealth the same as the past decades.

 

  • Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - 03:49pm   (Reply to #15)

    #16
    ao

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    where there's a will, there's a way

Having two millennial children, I feel for your generation yet opportunities still abound and all is not lost.  Getting back to EJohnson, I happened to have a conversation with a neighbor just recently whose 27 year old son graduated with a degree in construction management.  He got a decent job locally but decided to live home to save money.  He scrimped and saved every penny he could until he had a down payment on a house that needed some TLC.  With his construction management knowledge and the help of some buddies in the trades, he fixed up the house and turned it into a rental.  He did the same thing with a second house.  So he’s 27 with a decent job, two rental properties, and is now working on fixing up a third.  His fiance is a go-getter like him and they have big plans and given their present path of action, those plans will likely come to fruition.  The important points to note are they (1) have a plan, (2) are very frugal, (3) work very hard but also smart, and (4) work long hours as well as work on weekends on their plans.

You can always see multiple reasons in your head for why something won’t work out.  That’s easy.  What takes grit is making the situation work out despite the circumstances and the obstacles that are sure to arise.  But you first have to try to actually have a chance of succeeding.

I recall talking to some boomer friends.  They did something similar to this 27 year old.  They were married at 18 and had built their own house by age 21 (working nights and weekends) and live in that same house to this day (when they are in their mid 60s).  Imagine the money they saved on a mortgage!  It appears Sebastian has done something similar.

Eric, you have to keep a foot in both worlds which is a bit of a juggling act.  I always tried to do a diversity of actions where most of them would work out for me in a collapse situation but if no collapse was immediately forth coming and things continued on as usual, doing most of those actions would still work out largely in my favor.

Having some gold and silver is a wise choice but don’t bet the ranch on it.  Confiscating gold, making currency based transactions with gold and silver illegal, imposing a windfall profits tax or transaction tax on gold and silver, and a dozen other laws could be imposed that would nullify the advantage of holding precious metals, if not permanently, then at least for a generation.  Owning a homestead is a wise move as well but rising property taxes could easily nullify that advantage, especially if, under new laws that may be enacted in the future, your acreage is not deemed exclusively for agricultural use (as certified by the government only after meeting certain as yet undetermined strict criteria) and your property taxes skyrocket.  Or you could also be driven from your homestead by force or circumstances.

While the unexpected can easily become reality. if you look back in history, the vast majority of forecasts and predictions were wrong and the reality wound up being something that almost no one could foresee.  It might be beneficial to immerse yourself in success based literature rather than doom-and-gloom literature.  As good as this site is, it’s easy to sink into a doom-and-gloom mindset which can become a bit of a millstone around your neck when it comes to moving forward successfully with an optimistic frame of mind.

Some books of this genre that I’ve read in just the past year or so include What To Say When You Talk to Yourself (an oldie but goody which I read years ago as well) by Shad Helmstetter, Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eiker, The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama, Create Your Own Future by Brian Tracy, The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success by Albert L. Barabasi, The IQ Answer by Frank Lawless, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John C. Maxwell, The Joys of Compounding by Hautam Baid, the Proximity Principle by Ken Coleman, Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson, Financially Forward by Alexa Von Tobel, etc.  I got each of these books from our local library or via inter-library loan and they cost me nothing to read except time.  And I learned something valuable from each of them, some more than others.

  • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by ao.
  • Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - 04:11pm

    #17
    ao

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    apology for conflation error on investing

My apologies.  I think I conflated investment recommendations from John Bogle with those from Warren Buffet, both of them giants in the field of investing, fortunately.  So here’s a direct quote of Warren Buffet’s advice for his wife: “Put 10% of cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low cost S&P 500 index fund.  I believe the trusts’ long term results from this policy will be superior to those attained by most investors – whether pension funds, institutions, individuals – who employ high fee managers.”

My caveat to this.  With everyone piling into index funds in recent years, the boat may be getting ready to capsize.

And FWIW, here’s some of John Bogle’s investment advice:

https://theweek.com/articles/819010/jack-bogles-wisest-retirement-investing-advice

I think it was Bogle who recommended half in atotal  stock market index and half in a total bond market index with a small reserve in cash.

 

  • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by ao.
  • Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - 05:37pm

    #18
    spencer91189

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    We are not interested in the same things…

I have read PP since 2011 because it is one of the few news sources along with John Michael Greer, Dmitry Orlov, and Jim Kunstler, that is not oblivious to three E’s.

I unsubscribed at some point because the constant harping on investment advice and focus on playing the game with money is so much of the content. I only recently rejoined premium to read Chris’s last alert, and when I saw his post about forming a community. Side note, please post more about the meeting at Chris’s house, and that topic generally!

I understand that people whose working lives began in say the 70s or even before have a lot of prior investment in this system, like retirement funds, houses in the suburbs, etc. and don’t want to lose that, but this has never been relevant to me as a now 30-year-old without them. Further, if the warnings of collapse that I have been hearing on this blog and the others for years now were going to come to pass, I saw no reason to even consider playing that game. What would be the point of putting my limited funds in a target fund for 2050, say, if the whole ship was portrayed as likely to go down at any moment since I started reading this blog in college, almost 10 years ago?

Instead I tried to focus on other forms of capital, which Chris and Adam are now on board with and have written about a lot. I especially focused on gaining knowledge and skills in massage therapy (this was great but I don’t recommend working at it as an employee) and now the plant nursery and orchard trades, as well as permaculture design, but because of this my standard of living and income have remained low to this point. In case anyone is interested, I’m currently an intern at a fairly unique plant nursery/farm, with plans to start my own nursery/homestead as soon as possible.

On a higher level, I think the pursuit of property (as per the original wording of the Declaration), and especially capitalism as an ideology, has created most of the problems that we are all concerned about avoiding (note, capitalism is not a synonym for market economies or trade generally). The underlying assumptions about the world that one internalizes when seeking a growing income from financial investing are, I think, deeply flawed and cause extreme human misery. On this topic David Graeber’s book Debt: The First 5000 years was very influential to me, and I recommend it.

I feel that common ideas about capital, and even private property “rights”, real estate laws as currently written, etc. are very problematic, and actually led us to the global predicaments of today. So on this level, it seems that most of the advice about how to play the financial investing game is basically trying to teach me how to contribute to these problems.

I am no Marxist (I identify most as a libertarian-socialist/anarchist) and I don’t want the current system to crash hard because of the suffering that would entail, but I do think capitalism has to be replaced with better ideas if human potential is to be realized meaningfully.

I am never going to be interested in trying to ”get mine” by winning at the games of the current, fundamentally flawed system. I think many millennials, like myself, are much more interested in what radically different arrangements of society might look like. This is where I think permaculture and the examples of numerous indigenous societies have a lot to offer.

I know the above ideas are probably pretty unpopular with many in this forum, even possibly the OP and site owners. I do agree with most of what Matt Holbert said and it seems like we’re thinking along the same lines. Anyhow, I felt compelled to join this thread, if only to crystallize my thoughts on this topic a little better. Thanks for reading and I welcome any feedback.

  • Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - 06:42pm   (Reply to #18)

    #19
    ao

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    Spencer, just trying to be helpful

It’s hard to enjoy life if one is deficient in the financial capital area below a certain level and a lot of the angst here seemed to be about having enough money and the ability to retire (or at least not to have to work as long and as hard in one’s final years, since health issues will eventually get each and every one of us).

A number of years ago, probably before you joined this site, we had discussions about various monetary systems, economic systems, governmental systems, etc.  Everyone has their own idea of a perfect system.  However, in studying history and human nature, what becomes evident is that there is no perfect system and nothing ever stays the same, nor can it.  A better system than the previous one will emerge for a period of time but eventually, its inherent shortcomings will come to the forefront and human nature steps in, causing it to become corrupted and decline, sometimes slowly, sometimes precipitously.  I see this happening with capitalism now and and it will with the next system and the next and the next.  Someone comes along and thinks they have the answer and they may or may not, temporarily, but the answer eventually becomes a disappointment and pressures build to bring forth change and a new answer, only for the cycle to repeat itself once again.  Martin Armstrong talks about the cyclic nature of all things including economic systems.  I think he is right on the money.

Some of your argument against capitalism bears somewhat of a resemblance to the argument which is often espoused that all wars are due to religion, an argument which, by the way, is patently untrue.  One must always remember that anything that is powerful always contains the capacity for both good and evil, whether it’s religion, philosophy, capitalism, sex, electricity, nuclear energy, what have you.  You’re never going to have all good and no bad.

Forgive me if I create a bit of straw man argument here but I hope to make a point.  You talked about studying massage therapy but I could have told you 10 years ago that the market for massage therapists will become saturated in the not too distant future.  In our area we now have massage therapists and personal trainers out the wazoo.  The prospects for long term success for most of them are unsustainable and steadily dwindling because they have flooded the market.  Yet, there was a massage therapist back in the 1980s by the name of Jack Meagher who massaged race horses for $100 per session back then and made a nice living off it it. It’s hard work yes, but through proper physical conditioning and learning optimal (not just good) body mechanics, one can do it for 40 years without much difficulty.  The point is, it’s what you do and how you do it that’s important, whether it’s running a capitalistic system or a massage therapy practice.

Here’s a hypothetical question for you.  If and when you start your own nursery/homestead, if you don’t want to follow a capitalistic system, what system will you use to run your business?

P.S. I personally like the concept of permaculture but it has its problems as well.

https://medium.com/@urbanfarmercstone/what-permaculture-got-wrong-dispelling-five-common-myths-e904d570db70

P.P.S. I also like certain aspects of indigenous cultures and just had a conversation with a Native American elder this week on that subject but I think you would find that if you actually had to live that way 100% of the time, you might find it problematic.  There is a reason those cultures were supplanted by more modern systems.  Some people may even look upon that as a form of evolution.

  • This reply was modified 5 months, 1 week ago by ao.
  • Thu, Oct 24, 2019 - 06:46pm

    #20
    NickAdams10

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    Agreed

I unsubscribed at some point because the constant harping on investment advice and focus on playing the game with money is so much of the content. I only recently rejoined premium to read Chris’s last alert, and when I saw his post about forming a community. Side note, please post more about the meeting at Chris’s house, and that topic generally!

@spencer91189

I completely agree. I used to subscribe, unsubscribed, saw Chris’s post about building a community and subscribed again for a month. I have the same reasons for unsubscribing again—mostly because I don’t have interest in actively managing a portfolio or performing technical analysis of moving averages or whatever, topics which seems to dominate the site pretty frequently.

I think that I receive much more value from the posts about people living their values, such as the homesteaders building from scratch, or from people’s lived experiences in disaster zones or from advice about certain types of preps to purchase. Posts like those don’t appear as frequently, from what I can tell.

I don’t mean to gripe; I just feel like the observation here that a lot of the content is aimed toward people who are really, really invested (pun unfortunately intended) in the current system is quite accurate.

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