Dirty rotten cheater: Crooked Hillary

Take a few minutes if you can spare it and watch this video, sent to me by a friend.

Satan’s fishwife, Crooked Hillary, looks have have colluded with talking head Lester Holt to rig the debate. I mean, obivously it was rigged against the god-emperor, just based on the hard questions for Trump, without bringing up any of the Evil One’s misdeeds. But it looks to have been more than mere bias.

Not that it matters. Trump is going to win. The American Constantine.

 

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How to control your spending

At some future date I may develop a web app for managing a budget, not soon though. However, I will share with you today a good system I’ve found for managing one’s spending.

My system is different from what else is out there as I think I’m the first credit risk forecaster who’s developed a budgeting system. I also have almost zero beforehand experience with budgeting paradigms so I come at it with fresh eyes. When I got out of school in 2011, I made essentially subsistence wages for three years. It wasn’t until 2014 that I really made a salary that I didn’t need to be embarrassed about.

Making a solid salary posed its own problems though. I’d nearly doubled my income, but I’d no experience managing my spending under those relaxed constraints. I didn’t really know what a reasonable, sustainable consumption level was at that salary. Before, I basically knew “I can’t afford that”. I paid for everything with a debit card or cash, and if I ran out of money, we’ll I could walk to work and I had my strategic reserve of rice and whey protein. I had about $200 a month to spend on bars and anything non essential in these dark days.

However, I found that after I started to make a decent salary, I couldn’t manage my money very well. Instead of saying “no I can’t travel there, no money for a ticket, sorry m8” I’d say “yeah, I can do that!”. I was saving very little and not really understanding where the money was going.

So in April this year I developed a budgeting system to finally understand why the hell I wasn’t saving much. The goals of the system are to:

  1. Help understand how spending changes over time, to sort of ‘model’ personal spending
  2. Forecast spending into future months, archive these forecasts to see how you stack up to your prior expectations
  3. Enable one to responsibly use credit cards, so that you can get the points and sign on rewards, without spending extra or taking the path of middle class suicide and going into credit card debt. You do want to try to run as much of your spending through a credit card as possible though, because it offers a free lunch if you have the discipline.

Lessons

What I’ve learned from this system is that spending can’t really be budgeted monthly. I am paid every two weeks, so some months I get a pay check right before rent or student loans are due (my two big expenses), sometimes it’s over two weeks away. Most months I get two pay checks, other months I get three. What you want to do is simply track your spending, and look at it in terms of the yearly cumulative level, and compare that against your yearly budget constraint. More later

I’ve also learned where my money is going. I’ve learned that my daily coffee and sometimes Danish, isn’t really a big deal, but that my weekend range trips are too expensive to do often. I’ve also learned that I spend an enormous amount of money on food, nutritional supplements and imported lager/pilsner. The last thing I’ve discovered is that “it’s always something”. A monthly budget will almost always be broken by some unexpected expense, in my case I’ve been fleeced repeatedly by giving in to social pressure to go to weddings, often in remote locations such as provincial Vermont, necessitating costly airfare, hotel lodgings and gifts[1].

I’ve also found that different travel opportunities come up, that I want to indulge. So again you want to always be working on a promo credit card. Usually 2-4k in spending within the first three months will net you 20k to 40k bonus miles, which is enough to fly anywhere in the US and possibly to Europe. If you do this without spending more than you otherwise would, you should be able to get airfare once a quarter. Traveling and stayint at hotels for almost nothing is a great way to keep yourself busy and away from tempting impulse spending in your home city, the trick is to not allow the credit card to trick you into excess spending.

The system 

My system is simple. You take your yearly income, this is the money you get in wages, post-tax, post-401k, post-HSA, post-whatever. You go into excel, you start a date sequence from TODAY through to the end of the year and you draw out your budget constraint for the year. Don’t include your bonus in this. A bonus should be ‘off the books’, just immediately dump it into debt principal or some form of savings and forget about it, your bonus doesn’t exist. It’s just some exogenous, poorly understood phenomenon that might boost your net-worth position. Btw the image below is just an example, I don’t want to show my actual numbers so I made up some example that might be plausible for a recent grad.

excel1

You’re then going to decompose your spending into ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ columns. The variable spending is stuff like your rent, your car payment, your student loans, whatever. You pull that into your “Fixed” column by writing out a block listing the values and the days they fall on in the month. Then use a “day of month” column and look up functions to pull those values into the right spots. This basically gives you a forecast of your fixed expenses for the rest of the year. It’s a good idea to kill these formulas in rows after a date has passed, because these values tend to change every few months and you don’t want to update your rent or your student loan bill and then have that new value affect past values.

excel2

You’re all smart and can see where I’m going with this I think. I won’t go into super detail about how to set your spreadsheet up from here. Fill out your variable spending column every few days by logging into your bank account and your credit card online interfaces, entering your spending values for each day in a =sum() function or with +s. Include everything, your ATM withdrawals, your speculative investments. My spreadsheet has become rather complicated, but this basic set up should get your started, and you can customize from there. You could also code something similar in Python or R.

Come up with some way of forecasting your spending. After you have a few months booked, you can use your past variable spending amounts as a rough guess of your future. If you know you have an expense coming up, add an estimate of it in the “forecast variable spending” column. You advance your forecast and your observed spending at least once a week. This is a good time to see how your actual spending lined up with your forecast. You can add comments on days of exceptional spending to record some of the things you spent money on.

I like to produce a few charts from this data table. The first is my cumulative yearly spending and my budget constraint. I also include my foretasted yearly spending. On this chart you want to create as much separation as possible between the blue and orange lines. The graph below makes me look like more of a spendthrift than I am, I’ve put a lot of money into BitCoin and predictit.com shares that I force myself to record as “spending” even though a lot of it will probably boost my net-worth position.cumulative-spending-and-budget

This system is designed to help you get a grip on your spending btw, not to predict your net cash position. I do incorporate columns to monitor my bank account balance, as a sort of checksum on my spending tracking (you should be able to predict your bank account balance from your hand-entered spending and your predictable wage payments) but that’s not essential. I also don’t consider debt payment to be a form of spending. The whole point of this system is to reconcile spending with your steady, predictable income as a wage-slave. I designed it to free up cash so that I could pay off my student loans, so that one day I wouldn’t need a steady income.

So the corollary to the chart above is the cumulative savings chart. This is the one I really track as it shows me how much cash I’ve freed up and what the outlook for near-term free cash is. In the chart below I plot what I call my “savings equivalent”. This is the difference between my yearly budget constraint and my cumulative yearly spending. This is a proxy for my progress, and along with the forecast, it also tells me how much of a cash buffer I need and how much of my cash can be used to pay debt. My strategy is to keep a fairly moderate buffer in the form of US dollars and Bitcoin, and put as much free cash as possible into debt, so that I don’t ‘feel’ like I have much money.

spending-and-saving

I also maintain this chart, my cumulative spending for the year (remember I started in April) plotted as monthly vintages. I can see from this chart that I’m doing poorly this month, on track to have my 3rd or 4th worst month of the year. Hopefully this will shame me into spending frugally for the rest of September.

montly

Some people might feel it’s a pain in the ass to constantly be entering your individual transactions into a spreadsheet. But the ritual of reviewing your spending every few days is a feature, not a bug. The idea is to become moderately obsessed with your personal finances, to find out where you’re spending your money and what you can do about it. It’s everyone’s responsibility to take charge of personal spending. This is particularly true if you have unsecured debt, such as a student loan. You’re literally not a free person if you have debt of this kind, debt you can’t get out of by selling an asset (such as a house). You have to declare holy war your debt, and that means taking 20 minutes a week to type out your expenses and reflecting on your profligate ways.

Make more money

In closing, I’d point out the obvious. All this becomes much easier if you make more money. I think most of us are generally ill-configured for the modern economy in the sense that we act like we’re on a dairy farm in 900 AD. I.e we don’t want to rock the boat and we don’t want to appear greedy. You can be loyal, in a sense, to your company, but never forget that you are a mercenary. You’re a rootless, post-modern office worker and a company will sack you without a second thought, so make sure you’re always hustling for a better deal. No one else is going to look out for your interests, and if you don’t change jobs every two years or so, or go to your boss with a credible counter offer, you’re guaranteed to be in the bottom half of the income distribution for your job class. The idea of “I dont’ want to be a job hopper” is just an excuse for the craven. The truth is that as long as someone is willing to hire you, why would you care about being a “job hopper”. An easy reply to this on an interview is “hey, I’m working hard, I’m working long hours, and I want to know that I’m giving my effort to the company who wants me the most”.


1. My advice to folks: push back on these weddings unless you think it will be fun and there will be QTs. After your mid 20s, weddings tend to be lame, if the bride is over 26, and especially if they’ve been de facto married for a long time, she probably owns her groom like some sort of sexually dimorphic spider and the wedding will be overly sentimental and feminized. Also her friends are less likely to be single and more likely to be prematurely aged or fat. Use your judgement and don’t be afraid to say no, you have less to lose than you think.

 

 

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Trump on monetary policy

I’ve said before that Trump probably knows more about monetary policy than any president since Richard Nixon. Well I didn’t put it like that, but that’s how it is. Listen to his interview with Cramer in the spring of 2008, the guy got everything right. If lord Trump had been president in 2008, he’d have twisted Bernanke’s balls, until we got some serious interest rate cuts that “got ahead of the markets” as Trump aptly put it. We wouldn’t have had a recession, let alone a decade of subpar growth.

So what to make of Trump’s rhetoric of late, wherein he accuses Yellen of propping up an “artificial stock market”? It’s two things:

Firstly, Trump knows the Fed is going to sabotage him the second The Glorious Age begins. The Fed are a bunch of globalist academics and bankers. They’re going to feel fine choking the economy down to nil growth, they’ll feel it’s their duty to history even. One of the big effects of Trump’s strategy to counter illegal infiltrators (to use Bibi’s language) will be to lower rents and raise wages, the CPI is over-weighted on rents so this could put the Fed’s feet to the fire, and constrain their sabotage, but Trump wants them to raise rates now to take the hit while Obama is still in charge. A stock slide is good for Trump. Or maybe he’s doing some sort of 5-D chess move I can’t understand, wouldn’t be the first time I failed to grasp the god-Imperator’s wisdom.

Secondly, Trump doesn’t understand interest rates as well as we do. This is understandable, because neither does Bernanke or Yellen, despite being really smart, focused and politically savvy. Trump sees zero interest rates, year after year, and he thinks it looks weird. He’s been borrowing money for 45 years, and nominal rates have never been like this. He thinks safe short term rates should be higher, and he’s right in a certain sense. But I don’t think he’d be able to articulate “The fed should give us two years of 7% growth and one year of 6% growth, before pulling it down to 5%. They should do this buy just saying they’re going to do it”.

It will be interesting to see what Trump asks of the Fed when he takes power. He’s in favor of a weak dollar. He’s someone who understands market expectations. My hope is that he will go after the Fed when they inevitably sabotage him.  Trump needs a Yes Man steering the good ship Fed, a total puppet who will do whatever is necessary. I’m ready Mr.President.

 

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Nuclear blackmail

North Korean can now build one nuke every two months. That’s somewhat alarming.

How long does it take to build good shelters, possibly in existing caves, that can house the urban population of South Korea and Japan? Seriously, the end game here is that Japan and South Korea are blackmailed to infinity by a North Korea who has 100+ nukes in 2030.

I’m antiwar usually, but if the USA supposedly has anti missle technology, maybe it’s time to set it up in east Asia, Big League, and do a preemptive strike on evil baddies North Korea. Maybe if we can get China and Russia to sign off, we should do a surprise strike on them, I’ve read some people are worried the South will do this anyway. Send the 101st and 82nd  down to secure nuclear facilities, launch massive strikes on their missile sites and on the extensive artillery pieces that threaten the South. Clear out Seoul first.

The mission would only be to rek North Korea. All their base needn’t belong to us. If possibly you’d want to take as many of their citizens as possible into the south where they could be interred and screened for loyalty. You wouldn’t necessarily need to annex North Korea, just set the nuclear program back and drain their labor force. This wouldn’t be like fighting a bunch of inbred “Eye-rakies”, the North Koreans are probably hard as nails, able to go to extremes of exhaustion and deprivation not seen since Vietnam. They also have good, if outdated Soviet hardware. MiG-29s. Thermobaric rocket launchers like the sort that turned Grozny into a wasteland. I’d expect South Korean military casualties in the low hundreds of thousands, and US casualties in the 20k range. On second thought, let’s just build a good missile shield in Japan and leave the blackmail mess to those in east Asia….China’s big, let them deal with it…

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The lost generation

Note this post may only be read by millennials

When my father was my age (30), he had two children, a wife who had no tattoos, a solid job, a house, and zero unsecured debt. Today, the most self actualized, successful man I know my age is my friend who literally owns nothing but two suitcases, a few financial accounts and travels around China and eastern Europe hitting on cuties he sees on the streets.

And people wonder why I say we’re in steep decline.

Most other guys I know are trapped in debt slavery from college, childless and jaded. It’s not everyone in my sort of ‘cohort’ of mid-80s kids, but it’s a lot. Anyway even the gogetters with stock options or a nice drip drip from the corporate-oligarch pipe are almost all childless, which bodes ill for the future of the middle and upper middle class.

You go to school because if you don’t go to school, you’re a loser. You borrow tens of thousands of dollars to do this, because a bloc of leftist academics have capture the only gateway to the middle class, effectively making a guild out of academia by their control of the commanding heights of culture and work certification.

After school you work in a box on a computer all day. You do this 48 weeks a year. Your neck flexors become shortened from working on the computer for this stupifyingly long period of time, giving you an aged posture, weak leg muscles and sporadic headaches. You’re a coward, so you don’t bother agitating for a standing desk (I’m talking about my generation here, not myself, obviously I stand). Why do you work in a box on a computer all day? So you can earn enough money to service your mountain of debt that you needed to take on so that you could go to school, so that people wouldn’t think you were a loser.

Every fucking day is like the Mike Judge film Office Space except it’s actually your life. Your mind becomes numbed by the evolutionarily novel lack of visual and physical stimulus, you struggle to stay awake and look busy. Of all your ancestors stretching back to the proto-mouse that existed in the time of the dinosaurs, you probably have the most boring, low-stakes, day-to-day life of them all. You sign up for Crossfit in an attempt to find meaning and brothership and tear your labrum.

Because of rampant female obesity and decades of feminism, your most obvious female wife candidates are a scarce lot of non-fatties who are never-the-less besmirched by a laundry list of past sexual partners which render them incapable of forming long lasting bonds, and a lack of feminine charm.

But you can buy all sorts of cool gadgets! A smart watch! A zero-down car lease! Wow man did you see the sportsball game? wow Tyrone Jackson is BEAST I love to live vicariously through his legalized barbarism! We got Amazon Prime and Youtube and online concert tickets! Wow what a great time to be alive you know? Never mind that the average household could buy more bread and butter and meat and dwelling space in 1998 than the average you can today. But we can learn to derive pleasure from beans and chilies.

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A look behind the “record income gains” headline

I noticed a number of articles today in the lying media about “record income gains” in the US. I wanted to take a few moments to tell the real story.

We’re told that household income (which by the way is not the only way you’d want to look at these data) surged in 2015, it went up the most ever, ever! Well it went up, but it’s still below the internet bubble peak and the Bush housing bubble local maximum.

household-income

Still it does mean something, and it beats lower income. 2014 was the year when NGDP seems to have caught up with the slower-growing wage level, and when the labor market started to tighten, not so that wages would go up faster, but just that there weren’t loads people actively looking for jobs and unable to find them. Clearing out that glut of involuntarily unemployed workers helped boost average income.

Still, it’s a rather disappointing picture, and I believe it looks similar if you look at per capita, rather than household figures.  It’s like Peter Thiel said, people used to dream about flying cars and space travel, now we can’t even get household income to hold on an upward trend! It’s a real sign of decline and is part of the reason I think we live in a more Malthusian world than the nerds who blog about economics all day would have you believe.

A lot of the improvement in income in the later part of the 20th c. came from moving women away from home production, and into market production. People deemed this necessary to keep up with the rat race of consumer product consumption, as well as to afford a house in an area that was reasonably safe. Plus the TV told them it was what the cool people did. The switch from a norm of female home production to market production caused a real measurement issue though, as there’s no substitute for having a mom around, for non industrial food &c. The 1950s mom was producing valuable output, but it wasn’t measured by statistics because there was no transaction. But that’s a topic for another day, the point is it was a one-time trick and by the 1990s women had ‘caught up’ with men in terms of being useful production assets for the oligarchs and state. Now that women are living the cubicle dream as much, or more than men, we have to rely on pure productivity to boost average and household income. That’s hard and requires better policies than we can muster today.

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Crooked Hitlery faints

Donald Trump will be our next president

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