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Winter Is The Absolute Best Time To Buy A House

Winter is the best time to buy a houseI’ve checked out open houses every weekend for the past 16 years. The idea is to blend exercise with remodeling ideas and property knowledge into a one to two hour window. I’ll usually visit three to four open houses within a two mile radius.

The knowledge gained from open house hunting helped me remodel a couple houses without the use of an architect and gave me confidence to go all-in in 2014 when I bought a fixer in SF, despite already having multiple properties and two large mortgages.

Without a doubt winter is the absolute best time to house hunt. The simple reason is that anybody listing in the months of November through January is probably desperate. During the winter, the weather is at its worst, many people are away during the holidays, most people don’t move until the summer due to school, people tend to front load their spending, and anybody who can’t wait until spring to list must be having financial issues.

If you plan to sell your house, please don’t list during the winter! You will have bargain hunters like me trying to terrify you into selling at a below market price.

The Rise Of Stealth Wealth: Ways To Stay Invisible From Society If You Have Money

Becoming wealthy has never been easier in America thanks to quantitative easing, improved financial education, an improving economy, a widening safety net, and a bull market in stocks and real estate. Surviving as a wealthy person on the other hand, has never been tougher. The government goes after you if you make much more than $200,000 a year (medicare tax, AMT, deduction phaseout, credit eliminations, education tax, net investment income tax). If the government doesn’t get you, regular citizens will. Who did you cheat or rob to get to where you are? This is a real problem for those who want to make it big in the land of dreams and hand guns.

Freedom is one of America’s greatest attributes. Yet, if you go too far on the income curve you’ll start feeling like a prisoner to society. Despite the rich giving more to charity in one year than many others will give in their lifetimes, people will protest their wealth and hate them forever. Class warfare is no fun, even if you do have the financial means to own a bazooka.

Most readers here are ambitious folks who want to improve their financial health. Thanks to disciplined savings and investing habits, in another 10 years, I’m sure everybody is going to be that much wealthier. But once you get to where you are going, you’ll wonder what’s next. Never lose site of the fact that it’s really the journey to financial independence that’s most rewarding.

When society turns their back on you for being successful, just recollect on all your struggles and take a deep breath. Be proud of your accomplishments because you know you’re not just doing it for yourself, but for your family as well. You don’t have to be ashamed for not being the dumb ass in high school who thought it was cool to skip class every week to smoke weed. You shouldn’t feel bad that you worked summer internships during college while your buddies went off to play. And you should certainly not feel embarrassed by your frugal habits and smart investments once you found a job.

Unfortunately, society has a fantastic way of discrediting your achievements. “Nobody is self made,” and “You didn’t build that,” are my two favorite retorts. Just try taking yourself completely out of the equation and see where that logic goes when there’s nobody to think, dream, and execute. When you are outnumbered, resistance is futile. You must blend in and rage with the rest of them.

With the below suggestions you’ll be able to better walk amongst the shadows without fear of retribution any longer. Your family will be more guarded from bullies lurking to recondition your children every chance they get. Once you finish reading this post, never speak of its matters beyond your immediate family and friends again. We’ve got to protect our own little community on the web.


When Forbes came out with its Top 10 Wealthiest Chinese in China, there was huge outrage by the public and a massive anti-corruption crackdown ensued. Half of those guys fell off the list or went to jail within a couple years. As America attempts to reverse Capitalism due to widening income inequality, blending in as a middle class citizen has never been more vital. Below are 15  recommendations to help you assimilate better in society.

Read: Definitions Of A Middle Class Income

1) Never drive a nice car to work or to any public setting. Drive the most economical, safe car you know so that when you ultimately run into your co-workers, they’ll think you’re frugal or poor. Take public transportation and proclaim your love for buses and trains profusely. You don’t want to roll into the office in a Benzo and have your boss see you. His or her immediate thought will be to cut your bonus since you are doing so well.

Driving up to an employee salary negotiation meeting in a Bentley isn’t going to work in your favor either. Instead of choosing a new Range Rover Sport and deducting the vehicle as a business expense, consider a more moderate BMW X3 or Jeep Grand Cherokee instead. When cops huddle for breakfast thinking about which car they want to ticket, do you think they are going for the guy in a 10 year old Toyota Corolla? Cops make $50-$60,000 a year on average and are on a mission.

Read: The 1/10th Rule For Car Buying Everyone Should Follow

2) Be careful who you give your home address to. People love to snoop on Zillow.com to see what you paid for your house. Not only will they see what you paid for your house, they’ll also be able to tell whether you’re under water or making huge equity. Instead of giving an exact address, you can give them cross streets and a description of the house. e.g. I’m at the corner of Jackson and Teller. Brown wood shingle house. You can’t miss it. Inevitably, they will find out your exact address if they pay attention, but delay that information for as long as possible. Your house is your sacred abode. Protect its privacy. I recommend claiming your house on Zillow and trying to make the house look as bad as possible. Property tax assessors look at Zillow all the time now to try and jack up your taxes!

3) Always say it’s fake. Whether it’s your Panerai watch, Birkin bag, Armani suit, or Loubotin shoes, always tell the person who asks that it’s fake. Resist the urge to brag about your material things. You’re already an established individual. You can tell them you got it at Ross, Target, or at a flea market overseas and marvel with them how good knock-offs are nowadays. The quality things that you buy are for your own pleasure after all. Pretend you don’t know brands or how much things cost. Just say you like how it looks.

4) Never reveal your full income. Without question, never reveal the full extent to how much you make. Only those who are insecure, seek adoration, or want to make money by teaching you how to make money enjoy flaunting their wealth. There’s definitely an inverse correlation with how much wealth you have and how much you show. You’re an invisible tycoon remember? If you have a particularly high income level and you’re hanging around with people who make a fraction of what you make, be cognizant not to talk about your vacations or things you’ve bought. Be aware that the median national household income is $52,000. Earning anything more than 2X your state’s median household income will put you under fire.

5) Spread your assets around. Do not become one of the biggest land owners in your community. Do not become one of the biggest shareholders in a private equity deal unless you really, really believe in it. Spread your investable assets around so people can’t really tell how much you have. Diversification also ensures that your wealth doesn’t take a beating in case of violent downturns either.

Read: The Recommended Net Worth Allocation By Age Or Work Experience

6) Get out of your bubble. Once you know your State’s median household income and average net worth, adjust your outlook accordingly. Not everybody had nurturing parents, attended great schools, worked hard, got a lucky break etc. Some people are born into poverty, and it’s damn hard to get out because of negative influences all around. Believe that people truly want to do better. When you do, realize that despite all your hard work, you are luckier than most as well. The better understanding you have of others, the less chance you’ll come across as an arrogant snob and the better you can assimilate.

7) Pretend you do not understand. You might be a brilliant person, but brilliant people are intimidating. Instead, pretend you don’t fully understand what another is saying by asking questions. Don’t think you’re better than others just because you see solutions easily. Guard your intelligence like you guard your full income and wealth. It’s better to start your intelligence at a base level and dial it up if the occasion requires. Some of the smartest people I know have this eery look about them that screams stone cold aloofness. You know they are already thinking multi-variably, but from the outside it seems like they are a dull brick wall.

Read: Are You Smart Enough To Act Dumb Enough To Get Ahead?

8) Praise others for their success. Always be encouraging and positive of other people’s milestones. People who are insecure tend to be the ones who want to toot their horn the most. You know the types who constantly post pictures of themselves online, name drop who they hung out with the other day, or constantly share how great they are. Once in a while is absolutely fine. All the time just cries for desperation and attention. Try really hard to bite your tongue and not “one-up” someone else despite any successes you have. Give glory to them. Be happy for others and never belittle their achievements.

9) Volunteer to be on various charitable boards. Although charitable boards are a breeding ground for some of the wealthiest people, it’s hard to get attacked if your name is prominently on the brochure for good. Your role as a charity board member is mainly to fundraise since it is assumed you are relatively well-connected. Rich people attract other rich people, who enjoy rallying around a cause. The more money you can raise for the charity, the less bad things other people will have to say about your wealth.

10) Always stay humble. Sooner or later, people will figure out you are not as poor as you make yourself out to look. When they do, they will realize how humble and unassuming you were all those times they were talking about their wealth and their achievements. You know those movies where a girl falls in love with an ordinary guy she meets at a park, but he turns out to be a prince instead? You want to be that guy. They’ll love you even more and you may even affect their financial lives in a positive way.

Related: Grow Stronger By Humbling Yourself Each Year

11) Donate aggressively to both parties or donate nothing at all. If you donate aggressively to one party, you run the risk of being ostracized if another party comes into power. Think about all the senior government officials and big backers who were loyal to Bush Jr. when Obama assumed power. Their access just got shut down. The solution is to donate to both parties equally and sing their causes for a greater America. Once you identify yourself as an American rather than as a Republican or a Democrat, it’s easier to justify being a patriot.

12) Set up trusts for your children and charities. One of the great ways to hide and protect your wealth is by setting up trusts. You don’t want your heirs to go through a public and potentially messy probate court to fight for what they think they should get. Trusts are all about leaving a legacy you desire without other people getting up in your business. Just be careful not to leave your kids too much, or else they might become spoiled brats with no purpose in life! I also recommend putting businesses you own under someone else’s name or under the shelter of a trust. Keep the inquisitive eyes guessing and even play along if they start getting very aggressive. A trust within a trust, just like a dream within a dream.

Be Unapologetically Fierce About Pursuing Your Dreams

Be unapologetically fierce about pursuing your dreamsRemember that annoying kid in school who made fun of you for getting a good grade? The goal was to make you feel bad at doing well so he wouldn’t feel so terrible about himself. I had plenty of encounters with such kids growing up at my public high school. In the end, I brushed their mockery aside and decided to be the best student possible to get out of Dodge.

I thought the mockery would slow down as I got older, but it seems to have amplified due to the internet. Most recently, I was criticized for my idea ofstarting and keeping a business going to provide options for my son when he graduates from school. Andrew in Vancouver, who is 28 with no kids said I was obsessed, among many other things. Another guy named Li from Asia, who is also 28 with no kids, called me crazy over e-mail.

Why is planning ahead and offering an idea to help other worried parents considered obsessive and crazy? In my mind, it is stupid not to plan for the future due to globalization increasing the competition for jobs and technology taking away jobs. Andrew and Li are the same annoying kids in high school who are now adults.

There are a lot of dreamers who read this site looking for a better life. But due to the fear of being ridiculed, they hesitate to pursue something different or to put themselves out there for the world to see or read. Even Andrew decided to shut down his website once I visited his site to understand where he was coming from. It’s probably a good idea because his employer would be none too pleased reading his article about how laziness was helping him reach retirement sooner.

It’s OK to be unapologetically obsessed with the things you care about. It doesn’t matter how whacky your goals may be. The people criticizing you are too afraid to try themselves. They wished they had your courage. They’re fearful that one day you might succeed, making them regret their lack of effort.

Here are four examples where I was widely panned, but due to an unwavering desire, I was able to prove my detractors wrong. I’d love to hear your stories as well.

The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Married Couple

One of the most popular posts on Financial Samurai is The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person. The “above average person” is loosely defined as someone who graduated from college (35% of the American population), works hard, plays well with others, takes full advantage of their pre-tax retirement plans, saves additional disposable income, stays on top of their finances by utilizing free financial tools, expects nothing from their parents or the government and is not delusional. If you were a “C student” and expect to live an “A lifestyle,” you’re definitely not the above average person!

Depending on the source, the average net worth in America is somewhere between $150,000 – $200,000. But the median net worth in America is closer to $80,000. Take a moment to study the above average person’s net worth chart again. Somewhere between the ages of 45-50, the above average person’s net worth reaches over one million dollars. We can all agree that thanks to inflation, easy monetary policy, a roaring bull market and a recovery in real estate, becoming a millionaire by the time we retire is fast becoming the rule, rather than the exception.

The Average Net Worth For The Above Average Person by Financial Samurai

It’s important to note the figures in my chart are for individuals and not for couples. For those of you who combined your household net worth to see where you stand, so sorry. That’s cheating. At the same time, not everybody can find someone they love, hence why I initially created a per person chart. It would be presumptuous to assume we can all live in marital bliss. Further, not everybody is even allowed to get married thanks to the government telling us who we can and cannot be with. For simplicity’s sake, I will refer to “married couples” as anybody who is in a long term relationship.

Things Worth Spending Max Money On For A Better Life

It’s good to be frugal. If you are, you’ll likely never get into financial trouble. I was very frugal saving between 50% – 70% of my after tax income until about age 35. Then I decided there was no point saving so much money if I wasn’t going to live a little.

Instead of trying to walk the entire city of Budapest, I ponied up 30 Euros like a baller to get on the Hop On Hop Off bus. Instead of just having lemon water with my rib-eye steak, I started ordering a nice glass of Cabernet Sauvignon. As I pushed the spending envelope a little more each year, I gradually realized I didn’t miss the money. My lifestyle actually got better.

The root of my frugality stems from watching how my parents spent their money. My father always drove a beater and my mother utilized things until the very end. When you’re gunning for early retirement, every single dollar counts. And once you’ve left the work force, there is a lingering fear of running out of money that’s hard to elude until after about the third year.

How Much Should People Have Saved In Their 401Ks At Different Ages

The 401k is one of the most woefully light retirement instruments ever invented. The maximum amount you can contribute for 2018 rises to $18,500 pre-tax from $18,000 in 2017.

The worst is the IRA which limits you to contributing only $5,500 in pre-tax dollars only for individuals making under $72,000 a year and married couples making under $119,000 a year for 2017.

Meanwhile, you have to make less than $133,000 a year as a single or $196,000 as a married couple in 2017 for the privilege of contributing $5,500 in after- tax dollars to a Roth IRA, which I do not recommend before maxing out your 401k.

Give me a pension that pays 70% of my last year’s salary for the rest of my life over a 401k or IRA any time! At least with the 401k, anybody can contribute.

Destroy Debt Quicker: An Easy And Painless Way To Be More Free

If you haven’t noticed, we live in a consumerism society where we are bombarded by advertisements that compel us to spend on things we don’t need. Some things are definitely worth spending up on. But for everything else, save your money.


Like many people, I have debt. Although my debt is tied to property, which tends to appreciate over time, it’s still debt that I plan on getting rid of by 2027. I don’t have any revolving credit card debt because their interest rates are absurdly high.

Earlier this year, I got rid of $815,000 of debt by selling a rental house for roughly 30X annual gross rent. I don’t miss the rental income because I don’t miss the $3,400 monthly mortgage, the $23,000 in annual property tax, the $3,000 in annual maintenance, the $2,000 in annual insurance, and pain in the ass tenants.

Despite the large pay down, I still have about $1,000,000 in debt spread between my primary residence and my vacation rental in Lake Tahoe. Simple math states that if I can pay down $100,000 a year, I will be debt free in 10 years. Here’s an easy strategy for how I plan to get there relatively painlessly that I recommend you follow as well.