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Apple is halting its next high-end Vision in favor of something cheaper
  • That's too bad, porn companies generally have pretty good taste in tech. Also:

    Disney and Fox were both impressed by the extra DRM (BD+ and region coding) that the Blu-ray Disc format provided on paper.

    So it came down to DRM and the PS3.

  • McDonalds removes AI drive-throughs after order errors
  • Not if the car is stopped. Here's how it should work:

    1. park in a "drive-thru" stall
    2. scan QR code specific to that stall (optional - connect to wifi at the stall)
    3. enter order through a simple webapp
    4. worker brings order out

    If you want to talk to someone, walk inside, no need for a drive-thru window at all. That's basically how the old drive-ins worked, adjusted for modern tools.

  • McDonalds removes AI drive-throughs after order errors
  • Well, given that we're calling pretty much anything AI these days, it probably fits.

    But I honestly don't consider static models to be "AI," I only consider it "AI" if it actively adjusts the model as it operates. Everything else is some specific field, like NLP, ML, etc. If it's not "learning," it's just a statistical model that gets updated periodically.

  • McDonalds removes AI drive-throughs after order errors
  • Honestly, it doesn't need to be that complex:

    • X <menu item> [<ala carte | combo meal>]
    • extra <topping>
    • <size> <soda brand>

    There's probably a dozen or so more, but it really shouldn't need to understand natural language, it can just work off keywords.

  • McDonalds removes AI drive-throughs after order errors
  • I honestly prefer self-checkout. I may not be as fast as the cashier, but I am reasonably fast and I don't have to talk to anyone.

    I'd probably feel the same about fast food orders. I don't think the same self-checkout system would work, but I'd probably use my phone if it was easy and I didn't need a special app. Just let me scan a code and enter my order from a parking lot space. That way I still don't need to talk to anyone, no issues with crappy mics or AI, etc. I'm guessing everyone would be happier (workers don't need to intuit crackly mics, I can check if it comes with pickles, etc).

  • Elon Musk Begs Advertisers to Return as Twitter's Revenue Plunges
  • Idk, I'd prefer if CEOs were more transparent and why mistakes happened instead of the generic PR nonsense of: "We messed up, and we're sorry. We're taking time to review what happened to make sure it never happens again." That kind of statement only matters if there's some way for the public to know what happened and verify that it actually won't happen again.

    That's not what we're getting from Elon, so screw him, but I just figured I'd point out that this particular broken clock could say something close to what we probably all want.

  • I Will Fucking Piledrive You If You Mention AI Again — Ludicity
  • I just don't bother, under the assumption that I'll spend more time correcting the mistakes than actually writing the code myself. Maybe that's faulty, as I haven't tried it myself (mostly because it's hard to turn on in my editor, vim).

  • Why Americans aren’t buying more EVs
  • Yup. Basic new EVs should be in that price range though, this is for used EVs with a gov't incentive.

    Used EVs have come down a lot this year, at least in the US, so check your local area if you're interested in a commuter.

  • EU Council has withdrawn the vote on Chat Control
  • ? The compass takes economic systems into account. Left vs right is socialism vs free market capitalism, and top vs bottom is authoritarianism vs libertarianism.

    So if you think capitalism causes issues, you'd nudge those ideologies further up the authoritarian spectrum.

  • IRS opening free online tax filing program to all states

    This is exciting for me because:

    • I model ny taxes in my spreadsheet anyway, so I'm likely to notice a mistake
    • I usually use FreeTaxUSA to file for free, and this means there's one less party to share my personal information with
    • my state's taxes are pretty simple, so I don't need state-specific tax software

    I hope this helps simplify things for some people and save a bit of money as well. I'm going to try it out next year.

    Do any of you estimate your taxes? Are you interested in trying out this service?

    Average Retirement Savings Balance by Age

    Here are just the number for all of you degenerates who just want some milestones for your spreadsheets.

    Average total retirement savings by age:

    • <35 - $49,130
    • 35-44 - $141,520
    • 45-54 - $313,220
    • 55-64 - $537,560
    • 65-74 - $609,230
    • >=75 - $462,410

    Average 401k balance by age:

    • <25 - $5,236
    • 25-34 - $30,017
    • 35-44 - $76,354
    • 45-54 - $142,069
    • 55-64 - $207,874
    • 65 and older - $232,710

    And retirement savings targets from various advisors:


    • 1x by 30
    • 3x by 40
    • 6x by 50
    • 8x by 60
    • 10x by 67


    • 1x by 35
    • 5x by 50
    • 7x by 70

    Anyway, do you like metrics like these?

    May 10, 2024 (text in body)

    > For crying out loud, Jonah! Three days late, covered with slime, and smelling like fish! … And what story have I got to swallow this time?

    May 10 2024 (text in body)

    > You know what I’m sayin’? … Me, for example. I couldn’t work in some stuffy little office. … The outdoors just calls to me.

    May 10 2024 (text in body)

    > Look! Look, gentlemen! Purple mountains! Spacious skies! Fruited plains! … Is someone writing this down?

    May 10 2024 (text in body)

    > Sure, I’m a creature—and I can accept that … but lately it seems I’ve been turning into a miserable creature.

    Monthly Recommendations Thread: What are you playing?

    It has been a while since the last one. So...

    Tell us what game you are currently, or recently played, greater than 6+ months old.

    If the game happens to be on sale, a link would be a plus.

    Review request: home network setup

    I'm going to be overhauling my network over the next few months as I get ready for my new municipal fiber installation. I have a general idea of how to set things up, but I'm not an expert and would appreciate a few extra pairs of eyes in case I'm missing something obvious.

    Hardware available:

    • Microtik Routerboard - 5 ports
    • Ubiquiti AP - AC-Lite; plan to add U6+ or U6 Lite once I get faster service
    • some dumb switches

    Devices (by logical category; VLANs?):

    • main - computers and phones (Wi-Fi for now, I plan to run cable)
    • media - TVs, gaming consoles, etc
    • DMZ - wired security cameras, Wi-Fi printer (2.4GHz wireless g only)
    • guest - guests, kids computers


    • main - outgoing traffic goes through a VPN
    • media - outgoing traffic limited to certain trusted sites; probably no VPN
    • untrusted - cannot access internet, can be accessed from main
    • guest - can only access internet, potentially through a separate VPN from main

    Special devices:

    • NAS (Linux box) - can access main, media, and DMZ
    • printer - accessible from main, rest of devices on untrusted don't need to be (I can tunnel through the NAS if needed); can potentially configure a CUPS server on the NAS to route print jobs if needed


    Router ports:

    1. Internet
    2. WiFi APs
    3. main VLAN
    4. untrusted (VLAN)
    5. unused (or maybe media VLAN)

    WiFi SSIDs (currently have a 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz SSIDs):

    1. main VLAN
    2. guest VLAN
    3. untrusted - hidden SSID (mostly for printer) - 2.4GHz only

    If the VPN causes issues, I would like the ability to move individual MACs to another VLAN (say, to media, or a separate, usually unused backup VLAN). Not required, just a backup plan in case the VPN causes issues.

    This is my first time configuring VLANs, so I'm not really sure what my options are. Also, I'm not super familiar with Mikrotik routers (I'm not a sysadmin or anything, just a hobbyist), I just got fed up with crappy consumer hardware and wanted something a bit more reliable.

    Does that sound like a reasonable plan? Is there something I could improve or suggestions you have?

    Edit: DMZ is the wrong term, so I replaced it with "untrusted". By that I meant a local-only network, so no Internet access. Ideally I could access these devices from my main network, but they can't initiate connections outside their VLAN. However, that's not necessary, since I can tunnel through my NAS if needed.

    We're All Millionaires! (on average) - Early Retirement Now We're All Millionaires! (on average) - Early Retirement Now

    The average households net worth has been rallying. We are now all millionaires, on average. I take a deep-dive into the data.

    We're All Millionaires! (on average) - Early Retirement Now

    I like looking at ERN's articles from time to time because they cover so much that I'm all but guaranteed to learn something.

    This article is about how, despite the wealth inequality figures, the US is still doing okay when it comes to wealth accumulation. Here are some of my personal highlights from the article:

    > If I want to put a positive spin on the unpleasant wealth inequality stats in the U.S., I would again point to the net worth chart by age group: Some of our inequality is due to the natural wealth accumulation lifecycle. For example, within my age group (45-49), the wealth Gini coefficient is lower: 0.769. Americans are very good at building assets, thanks to their entrepreneurial spirit and generous tax incentives, like tax-advantaged retirement plans and capital gains deferral.

    And later:

    > It’s also worth pointing out that the Gini coefficient decreased in 2022 and now stands at the lowest level since 2007, though still far above the Gini in the 1990s.

    And this is an interesting alternative to some of the rhetoric I'm seeing about the eroding middle class:

    > If we compare the wealth distribution in 1989 with 2022, most percentiles gained ground. True, the 1%, 5%, and 10% lowest percentile had negative to zero net worth figures. The 1% poorest got deeper into debt. But the middle class is getting richer, albeit modestly slower.

    There's a lot here, and my takeaway is that FIRE should continue to be a possibility to the middle class and above. It's not a weird phenomenon that only a lucky few were positioned correctly to achieve, but conditions remain good if you want to put in the work to love below your means and invest consistently.

    Anyway, I like looking at graphs and deep analysis like this. Please share your thoughts.

    Personal Finance sugar_in_your_tea
    Buy and hold works - Meet the 'unluckiest' stock market investor of modern times Meet the 'unluckiest' stock market investor of modern times

    Her timing was terrible but you'll never believe what saved her.

    Meet the 'unluckiest' stock market investor of modern times

    Here's an archived version of the page.

    What follows is largely a reaction to analysts predicting a recession and giving advice on how to adjust your investing strategy. The TL;DR here is: don't, they get it wrong more than they get it right.

    Among PF enthusiasts, there's a saying that goes something like this: analysts have predicted 20 of the last three recessions.

    Here's a chart for the S and P 500 long term after inflation. As you'll notice, long downward trends are quite rare, and the general trend is upward. In general, you can expect 6.5-7% long term after taking out inflation (~10% before inflation) if you buy and hold a broad stock market index fund. It seems almost every year someone calls for a recession, and this year is no exception. People were calling for recessions staring in 2015 or so, and look how that turned out.

    Finance pundits and blogs like saying outlandish things like "recession will happen this year, liquidate stocks and buy X, Y, and Z," and if you're lucky, they'll throw some fancy charts up to make you think they know what they're talking about. But just know that all of this is for attention, they make money through ads or airtime, and some will try to sell you a book or something. The worst ones do a pump and dump scheme where they'll invest in security X, hype it up, and then sell when there's a bump in prices and average investors are left holding the bag.

    Everyone seems to think they have some system for beating the market, but few professional fund managers manage to beat the index they benchmark their fund with, and even fewer can do it consistently:

    > Across all domestic actively managed equity funds, 88.4% underperformed their respective benchmark over the last 15 years, according to an analysis of the S&amp;P SPIVA report. > > ... > > More than 80% of large-cap funds underperformed the S&amp;P 500 over the last five years. In 2019, 79.98% of large-cap funds underperformed compared to the S&amp;P 500, which was just a hair better than the five-year average.

    So if you buy a large cap index fund, you'll do better than 80% of professional fund managers over 5 years, and you'll outperform nearly 90% of them over 15 years. So don't listen to their nonsense about changing allocation during a recession (or even whether there will be a recession) because you're statistically better off ignoring it.

    To really drive it home, let's look at the linked article about Betty, the world's most unlucky investor, who invested only at the worst possible times (just before every major recession) since the 1980s:

    > Even though she picked the worst six moments since the 1980s in which to invest, she made an average profit over the next five years of 20% and an average profit over 10 years of 100%. She doubled her money. Despite her disastrous, terrible timing, she was in the black after five years on four occasions out of six, and in the black after 10 years 10 times out of 10. > > Today, even though her total cash costs from those six investments totaled just $3,500, her portfolio is worth $17,500. That’s more than five times her investment. And that’s even factoring in losses this year, which have seen the global stock market — and Betty’s portfolio — fall 22%.

    Just think of how much better she could've done if she had invested consistently, which means she would've bought at the lows and middles instead of just the highs.

    If you instead listen to the pundits, you're likely to buy high (you'll miss the bottom, I guarantee it) and sell low (you'll sell early or late). Do what has worked well historically and buy and hold a diversified portfolio.

    I don't know if a recession is coming, but I do know it'll change nothing about my investing strategy, other than perhaps how much I can invest. If you're nervous about the economy, make sure your emergency fund is funded and stay the course with your investing strategy, whatever your desired asset allocation is.

    The Earth Awaits - a site for checking affordability of various areas The Earth Awaits

    The Earth Awaits calculates your cost of living around the world according to your lifestyle, family, and housing needs!

    The Earth Awaits

    I was doing a little EOY accounting, and I wanted to see where I could afford to retire to with my current amount of investments. I searched a bit, but couldn't find anything good, and then I remembered the old /r/financialindependence sidebar.

    Since I happen to be a mod, I went ahead and abused my mod powers and added it to the community info here. My wife is from another country, and we're not yet to the point where we could retire there, but we're surprisingly close, so I now have a new milestone to shoot for.

    I don't know the methodology they use here, or how often it's updated, but I think it's fun to look around at options.

    I remember another site that simply gave a list of countries in order from cheapest to most expensive and you'd enter your current assets and figure out where you could go. I thought it was a lot of fun to see what "upgrades" an extra year or two of working would get me, but I didn't bookmark it. If anyone can find something like that, please post it.

    Anyone considering going expat? If so, does this resource seem accurate? Do you have others you like better?

    Personal Finance sugar_in_your_tea
    [US] End of year PF tasks Seven Year-End Financial Tasks to Check Off Your To-Do List

    The end of the year is already chockfull of important things to do, but don’t let these seven fall through the cracks. You’ll thank yourself in 2024.

    Seven Year-End Financial Tasks to Check Off Your To-Do List

    I like to review my financial situation near the end of the year to prep for tax season, give to charity, etc. For any who cannot access the article or are too lazy, here are the things they recommend:

    1. Tax loss harvesting
    2. Contribute to retirement accounts
    3. Convert IRA to Roth
    4. Reassess risk tolerance
    5. Review RMDs - only for 73+
    6. Charitable contributions
    7. Fund accounts for dependents

    I check most of these, but more importantly I look at the new limits for 401k and IRA, as well at HSA limits for the upcoming year.

    Is there something you like to do financially at the end of the year?

    Personal Finance sugar_in_your_tea
    [US] Intro to investing - stocks, bonds, asset allocation, and account types

    In this post, I'll provide a lot of basic information about investing, with links to additional reading for various concepts. Most of these concepts are not US-centric, though I will be mentioning US-specific details, such as tax-advantaged account types.

    What's the difference between a mutual fund, etf, and index fund?

    A mutual fund is a financial vehicle where assets from a large number of investors are pooled to be invested as one entity. Mutual funds have strategies, and investors invest based on how well the fund executes that strategy. For example, you may compare two large cap funds, and they have similar returns but one has a much lower expense ratio (the fees for running the fund), so you may choose the cheaper fund. Mutual funds generally can only be purchased after market hours, and only through a brokerage that has an agreement with the fund. If you buy a fund through a brokerage that doesn't sponsor the fund (e.g. if you buy a Vanguard fund from E-trade), you'll pay a fee for each transaction, whereas you'll pay nothing if you buy it from the brokerage the mutual fund is associated with (e.g. a Vanguard fund from Vanguard). With a mutual fund, you generally invest a certain amount of money, and the amount of shares really isn't that important.

    An ETF is very similar to a mutual fund, except it is traded like a stock. So if you want to buy a share of an ETF, you'll just pay whatever commission your brokerage charges (often $0), just like you would with any other stock. However, since it trades like a stock, you can generally only trade in whole shares, unless your brokerage allows fractional share trades. So an ETF is essentially a mutual fund that is traded like a stock.

    An index fund is a specific kind of mutual fund/etf, where the strategy is based on an index. This means the fund manager has a lot less input on how the strategy is executed, since they're trying to match a specific asset allocation instead of buying winners. For example, one popular index is the S&amp;P 500, which is defined as the top 500 companies in terms of market cap (what the market thinks they're worth), and index funds tracking the S&amp;P 500 will by based on the percentage of market cap a given stock has. For example, let's say Microsoft is 10% of the S&amp;P and Apple is 15%, the fund would buy 10% Microsoft shares and 15% Apple shares, and the rest would go to the rest of the companies in the index in the same fashion. Since there's less analysis of individual companies, index funds can operate on very low expenses.

    When comparing funds, focus more on the expenses and strategy instead of past performance, because past performance does not guarantee or even indicate expected future results.

    So in short:

    • mutual fund - you invest money, and the manager buys stocks/bonds according to a defined strategy
    • etf - you buy shares, and the manager buys stocks/bonds according to a defined strategy
    • index fund - restricts the manager to a very specific strategy, where purchased stocks/bonds must match a defined index

    The vast majority of active fund managers fall behind the S&amp;P 500. So in general, you'll probably be better off with an index fund instead of an actively managed mutual fund.

    What is a stock?

    A stock represents marketable pieces (shares) of ownership in a company. When a company is incorporated, the owner splits the company into some number of shares, and those shares can be sold individually to raise money to grow the company. The owner of the company is one with more than half of the shares (otherwise called a controlling stake), and if nobody owns a majority of the shares, it becomes a democratic system where each share represents a vote. In practice, only very large shareholders end up voting for board members, and the board hires a CEO that ends up making the rest of the day-to-day decisions.

    This is true for both public and private companies, though purchasing shares in a private company cannot typically be done on the market and needs to be done through existing shareholders. When a company "goes public," private shares are converted to public shares and can then be sold on the open market.

    If your company offers an employee stock purchase plan, make sure you know how you can liquidate those since shares in a private company can be very difficult to sell.

    What is a bond?

    At a high level, a bond represents a unit of debt for some organization. Basically, you're lending that org money, in exchange for them paying you back at some rate over some period. Some bonds pay dividends (i.e. you'll get the interest at regular intervals), and others instead are paid off at the end of the bond period in a lump sum.

    Bond Ratings

    Bond ratings represent the rating issuer's confidence that the organization will repay its debts as agreed. These ratings vary a little by rating org, so I'll be using S&amp;P's rating system here.

    Each rating consists of a letter in the range A-D with a + or - sign or number (e.g. A+, A-1, etc), and it works similar to letter grades in schools. The higher the grade, the lower the risk. In general:

    • A-1/AAA+ - investment grade; top possible score
    • A-2/AA - investment grade, strong score
    • A-3/A - investment grade, adequate risk
    • B - speculative, currently meeting commitments
    • C - speculative, vulnerable to default/non-payment
    • D - speculative, in default

    Money market funds will stick to investment grade bonds, and "junk" bonds are the bottom two groups (C and D).

    The main rating groups are S&amp;P, Fitch, and Moody, and they can use different rating systems, especially for different types of bonds (e.g. a short-term vs long-term bonds can use different systems from the same org, as shown above with A-1 vs AAA).

    In general, the higher the rating, the lower the return, but also the higher the probability that you'll actually get the return promised.

    Tax implications

    There are several types of bonds, like corporate, government, and municipal, and each have different tax implications. What follows is very high-level, there's a lot of nuance in the bond market wrt taxes:

    There is a lot of nuance, so look into your local and state tax laws to ensure you understand.

    Asset allocation

    Your asset allocation refers to how your investments are distributed across different asset classes. The most popular asset classes are stocks and bonds, though there are other asset classes investors may be interested in, such as:

    • real estate
    • precious metals
    • futures - e.g. purchase contracts for commodities (e.g. you could trade barrels of oil)

    Asset classes can be broken down further, such as for stocks:

    • market sector - tech vs utilities vs manufacturing, etc
    • growth vs value - value means companies that are likely undervalued, growth means companies that have shown strong returns vs competitors; there's also dividend strategies (i.e. companies that tend to return profits to shareholders instead of investing in the core business)
    • market cap - large cap (massive companies like Microsoft and Apple), mid cap, and small cap (smaller companies, like Jack in the Box, Polaris, etc)

    Choosing an asset allocation can be an overwhelming process, and there are a lot of strategies that people claim works. The more important thing is to understand your strategy and stick with it instead of shifting with the trends (if you always buy what recently performed well, you'll be essentially buying high and selling low).

    Here are some popular asset allocations (I've listed what I think is interesting below):

    • Bogleheads strategy - buy stocks according to market cap, bonds according to age; three fund portfolio, two fund portfolios; the global market cap is ~55-60% US stocks, 40-45% international stocks; bond percent should be 100 - your age (quite conservative)
    • 60/40 - 60% stocks, 40% bonds - generally recommended for retirees and those close to retirement, though some do it throughout their investment career
    • "Permanent portfolio" - 25% gold, 25% cash (or Treasuries), 25% stocks, 25% bonds - intended for asset preservation and ends up being quite conservative
    • dividend portfolio - buy almost entirely stocks with high dividends (one strategy is Dogs of the Dow, and then plan to live off dividends in retirement

    There are a ton of exotic ones as well, such as Hedgefundies Excellent Adventure (lots of leverage in a portfolio intended to match risk of non-leveraged portfolios). Don't do anything like that without fully understanding how all of the pieces work, and even then, I recommend one of the above over anything that uses leverage.

    Account types

    Most countries offer tax-advantages to encourage residents to at least partially fund their own retirement. This will cover US-specific tax-advantaged account types, though similar structures exist in many other countries, and searching for " " will probably yield articles with information for resources for your region.

    Here are the main account types, you may have access to some but not all:

    • 401k - employer-sponsored retirement plan
    • IRA - individual retirement account - available to everyone
    • HSA - health savings account, must have a high-deductible health plan; essentially becomes an IRA once you hit 65
    • 457 - employer sponsored plan offered at many state and local government agencies, and some non-profits
    • 403(b) - similar to 401k, but offered to teachers, private non-profit employees, and some others

    There are others, but these are the ones you're likely to run into that are relevant for retirees.

    There are two main types of tax advantages these offer, referred to as traditional and Roth, though there are nuances for each account type. In general:

    • traditional - get a tax deduction on contributions, no taxes on growth while it's in the account, pay taxes when you withdraw
    • Roth - no deduction on contributions, no taxes on growth, no taxes when you withdraw

    If your tax bracket is the same when you contribute and when you withdraw, Roth and traditional accounts are equivalent. As a quick demonstration, let's say you have a 10% tax rate, you invest $10k, your investments double, and you withdraw everything all at once:

    • Roth (post-tax) - invest $9k ($10k - $1k taxes), grows to $18k, withdraw $18k
    • traditional (pre-tax) - invest $10k, grows to $20k, withdraw $18k ($20k - $2k taxes)

    There are limits to how much you can invest in tax-advantaged accounts, and traditional accounts sometimes have income limits to receive a deduction. There are strategies to maximize your tax-advantaged, so if you think you don't qualify, please ask since you may have options (e.g. a backdoor Roth IRA if you're over the income limit for Roth IRA contributions).

    Long term capital gains vs income tax brackets

    Regular brokerage accounts have no tax advantages, but they do have the advantage that gains are taxed as capital gains instead of income, whereas a traditional IRA/401k/etc is taxed upon withdrawal as income. Long-term capital gains brackets are lower across the board for the same income level vs income tax, and there's a 0% long-term capital gains bracket that corresponds to most of the 12% income tax bracket, then 15% up to the middle of the 32%/35% brackets, and then 20% thereafter. Short-term capital gains are taxed as income, so be careful to only sell assets that qualify as long-term capital gains.

    There are situations where a regular brokerage account can be advantageous over taking a tax deduction for a traditional account. Here's an article about why you may want to use a traditional account and invest the tax savings in a brokerage vs a Roth account (target audience is early retirees, but it's applicable to traditional retirees as well). It's a fairly niche case, but applicable to surprisingly many people.

    Tax-efficient fund placement

    Let's assume you have a mix of assets in the following:

    • Roth account
    • traditional account
    • taxable brokerage account

    In general, you'll want to do the following:

    • Roth account - highest growth since it's 100% tax free
    • traditional account - capital gains generating investments with relatively low growth, e.g. bonds and dividend heavy stocks
    • taxable brokerage account - international stocks because of the Foreign Tax Credit (e.g. you get a part of the taxes you paid back), assets with low capital gains distributions, and low need for rebalancing

    However, the benefits here are far less than the benefits for using the right account types for you. For example, the Foreign Tax Credit is something like 0.23%/year of your taxable investments if you're invested in something like VTIAX, and you'll be paying taxes on something like 2.8% of that same investment. So use your tax advantaged space first, and then optimize from there.


    Investing can feel overwhelming, and there's so much conflicting information available out there. My personal advice is to keep it simple using tried-and-true methods that have consistently had good results in the past. Here's what I do:

    • max my tax advantaged accounts
    • 70% US stocks, 30% international stocks asset allocation - I think the US will continue to outperform, but I want to hedge my bets some
    • buy low-cost index funds, one fund per account to keep it simple; in my case, this gets me close:
      • 401k - 100% US stocks
      • IRA - 100% US stocks
      • HSA - 100% international stocks
      • taxable brokerage - 100% international stocks
    • I don't have any bonds because I'm not retiring anytime soon and I have a high risk tolerance (I didn't panic sell in 2008); I do count my emergency fund as my "bond" portion though, so there's that
    • check on my investments about 1-2x/year to make sure everything is close to my target (if I'm over in US stocks, I'll swap some IRA space to international; if I'm over in international stocks, I'll swap some HSA space to US)

    My IRA and taxable brokerage is at Vanguard, and my HSA is at Fidelity. When I switch jobs, I roll my 401k -> my IRA.

    This got pretty long and I probably should've broken it up into multiple posts, so please let me know if there's an area you'd like more detail on and I'll consider making a post about it.

    Personal Finance sugar_in_your_tea
    [US] Consider a brokerage account for your main bank

    Most people take a simple view of cash: they have a checking account for spending and a savings account for savings, and if they get fancy, they'll have a CD for longer term savings goals. Power users will change to an online bank with better returns, and that's about as far as it goes. That certainly works, but we can do a lot better with few downsides and a lot of extra benefits.

    I'd like to start with explaining how traditional banks work and then look at alternatives. Basically, banks make most of their money by lending it, either for mortgages, auto loans, credit cards, etc. Federal regulations require they keep a certain percentage of their assets in "cash," so they pay interest on checking and savings accounts to attract deposits. The larger the bank, the less they need to work for deposits since they have brand recognition. That's why you'll see higher interest rates at online only banks (e.g. SoFi, Ally, etc) than at huge brick and mortar banks (Wells Fargo, Chase, etc), they need to pay more to attract customers since they don't have branches to do so. However, they'll never pay more than a certain percentage of loan rates, otherwise they'll lose money. Switching banks is time consuming, so customers rarely do that, which means banks only need to have periodic promos to encourage people to move their money to them.

    Let's compare that to a brokerage. Brokerages offer a variety of features, and most of their money is made on commissions from trades (or for free brokerages, bid/ask spreads) or from fees on funds they run. The friction in changing funds is pretty low, so funds often compete for low fees to attract investors, and the more investors they have, the lower their fees can be (managing $1B isn't that different from managing $10B in terms of costs). They sometimes offer loans (e.g. margin loans), but that isn't the core of their business, and those loans are backed by the debtor's own assets, not the brokerage's funds, so risk is much lower and not related to deposits by other customers.

    So now that the high level differences between banks and brokerages are out of the way, let's look at products brokerages have and how they line up with traditional banking products:

    • Money Market Funds - basically savings/checking accounts, but run by a fund manager instead of a bank; you can select from any number of money market funds, from funds that look to reduce taxes (e.g. buy mostly Treasuries) to funds that seek to maximize returns; interest is generally accrued daily and paid monthly; banks sometimes offer money market accounts, which are similar, but they operate a bit differently, and you only get the one they offer
    • brokered CDs - similar to regular bank CDs, but you're buying them on the open market instead of from your bank; these CDs cannot be broken early like bank CDs, but they can be sold on the market like any stock for the current fair market value; this means they can reduce in value if you sell before maturity, but since you're able to shop for the best price, you usually get a much better return if you hold to maturity
    • t-bills/notes/bonds - similar to brokered CDs, but issued by the federal government in increments of $1000; these are not subject to state and local taxes, and some brokerages allow them to be auto-rolled (when they mature, the same denomination will be purchased); there's no early redemption, but they can be sold at any time for fair market value
    • municipal bonds - buy bonds directly from cities and whatnot; these are usually not subject to state, local, or federal taxes, but also have higher risk due to cities generally being less credible debtors than state or federal governments; I don't bother with these, but maybe they're worthwhile in states with higher taxes (mine is &lt;5%, so not that high)

    Generally speaking, the brokerage options over a greater return than traditional banking products because it's trivial for investors to switch products without changing brokerages.

    Here's what I do:

    • checking/savings - invested at Fidelity in SPAXX, which currently yields ~5%, and I think it's ~30% state tax exempt; if my state had higher taxes, I'd probably opt for a Treasury-only fund; switching takes like 30s to enter a trade; Ally Bank savings is 4.25% and money market fund is 4.4%, and I use my brokerage as checking, so I'm getting 5% on all money held there (Ally checking is 0.10%)
    • CD - I had a no penalty CD @ 4.75% @ Ally, which was a fantastic rate when I got it; Fidelity offers non-callable CDs @ >5% for periods from 3 months to 5 years, and Ally only offers those rates for 6-18 months (and they're still lower than Fidelity); I don't buy any because I buy...
    • Treasuries - no equivalent at banks, but they're close enough to CDs; current rates are 5.2-5.4% depending on term (4 weeks to 52 weeks), and even notes (2-10 year terms) are 4.5-5%; my efund is invested in a t-bill ladder; I bought 13-week (3-month) t-bills every other week and set them to autofill, and my gains live in my money market fund (SPAXX @ 5%); this is half of my efund, with the other half in ibonds; if I need money, I either cancel the autoroll, or I sell the t-bill on the market

    Here's my list of pros:

    • significantly higher interest in checking (5% vs ~0.10%); no difference between "checking" and "savings," they're all just brokerage accounts
    • more options for investment - I now feel comfortable keeping my efund, checking, and regular savings in the same place without having to sacrifice returns
    • debit card rocks - Fidelity and Schwab both have worldwide ATM fee reimbursement and low/no foreign transaction fees (Fidelity is 1%, Schwab is 0%)
    • can have cash savings and investments in the same place - Fidelity also has my HSA, and I may eventually move my IRA as well
    • paycheck comes a day earlier - lots of banks offer this, but often only on their checking accounts

    And some cons:

    • SIPC instead of FDIC insurance - coverage is about the same, but FDIC is automatic, whereas SIPC requires me to make a claim; I doubt I'll ever need either
    • a lot more options means the UI is a bit more complex; once familiar, it's not an issue
    • some services don't play nice with brokerages - I keep an Ally account around just in case, and I honestly haven't noticed any real issues (sometimes I can only link accounts one way, but that's not an issue)

    I switched from Ally to Fidelity last year for my primary bank and I'm loving it, and I highly recommend others give it a shot. If Fidelity isn't your speed, Schwab works well too. Vanguard doesn't offer a debit card, otherwise I'd recommend them as well (their money market funds are even better than Fidelity's). I used to shop around for better savings rates, and now I don't bother because Fidelity beats all of them on features and average returns (e.g. a better savings rate still loses if checking is near 0%).

    Feel free to ask questions.

    RPGs for people who don't like RPGs

    I have tried a ton of RPGs, and most just don't click for me. Here are a few:

    • Skyrim - enjoyed Morrowind for the side content, Skyrim just felt empty
    • Chrono Trigger - enjoyed until about halfway through with the battle with Magus; felt very RNG dependent, or maybe I was under leveled; I bailed after 5 or so attempts that all ended the same way (healer got killed and everyone got picked off)
    • Pillars of Eternity - burned out somewhere in Act 2 (20-25 hours); combat system annoyed me, and I dislike picking new abilities
    • Banner Saga - story is great, but I hate the combat, so I bailed

    Some things about me:

    • I don't care about leveling up/character builds, it feels like a chore; abilities also don't interest me
    • I hate grinding
    • using items feels like cheating, so I tend to just use character abilities (I will heal if needed); I'd rather "git gud" than buy and use items
    • turn based combat (tactics) is generally boring, but I do like puzzles, so that can make it acceptable
    • I don't like the feeling of being OP, I want to struggle through the end
    • I don't like loot

    That said, here are a few that I've really enjoyed:

    • ARPGs like Ys and Zelda - items are rare or are tools in a puzzle-like system; favorites are Ys 1, Ys Origin, Zelda: A Link to the Past, and Zelda: Skyward Sword (probably because I played Skyward Sword recently); I dislike BotW, and Memories of Celceta has been dragging a bit (I'm near the end, but excited to finish)
    • interesting RPGs like Undertale - short and very unique experience
    • Souls-like games - challenge involving melee/dodging keeps me going
    • Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky - not a fan of the combat, but the story is interesting somewhat at least; I'm about 2/3 through I think (30 hours), but I've taken a multi-month break; likewise, Xenoblade Chronicles is interesting so far, but I'm not super excited about it (may bump down to story mode to get through it, the combat sucks imo)
    • Nier: Replicant - great story, leveling stayed out of the way, and I never felt like I needed to grind or upgrade gear

    I really like the storylines of RPGs, I just don't like actually playing them. Unfortunately, my preferred ARPG genre is filled with loot nonsense, and I've played most of the ones that don't really on that as a mechanic. Perhaps my favorite RPG-adjacent game not mentioned already is Yakuza 0, I'm not a fan of the combat, but he story is amazing and the side content is fun.

    Does anyone feel similarly? Do you have any suggestions for other games to try?

    Costume Quest 1 and 2 - looking for recs for similar games

    In Costume Quest, you play as one of two fraternal twins who go out to trick-or-treat, but then your sibling gets kidnapped by monsters and you go on a quest to rescue them. Along the way, you collect new costumes (which give you new abilities), get friends to join you on your quest, and collect power ups.

    In Costume Quest 2, you are transported to a world where Halloween has been outlawed, and you work to fix it. Gameplay is similar to the first where you collect costumes and power ups and fight monsters to catch the person responsible for outlawing Halloween.

    Gameplay is pretty basic. The core gameplay loop is:

    1. Knock on a door
    2. If a human answers it, you get candy and repeat from 1
    3. If a monster answers, you get into a turn based fight like a simplified Final Fantasy battle; repeat from 1

    The battle mechanics are simple enough my young kids (were 5&amp;8 at the time) could handle it with some help on strategy. The strategy gets more relevant later in the game (certain attacks do better on different kinds of monsters), but it's simple throughout.

    Both are fantastic, casual, Halloween-themed RPGs suitable for kids, and I really enjoyed playing both with my kids tag-teaming with me. You can get both for $5 total right now.

    The reason I bring it up is because my kids asked me to play them again with them, and I was trying to find something similar and came up empty (I don't like replaying games).

    Does anyone have any recommendations for games with a similar appeal? The mix of costumes with power ups and simple combat was the main draw for us, but I'm open to looking at anything with a Holloween theme that is suitable for younger kids, bonus points for couch co-op style of gameplay. The closest are probably LEGO games (which are great), but my kids seem a little tired of the formula.

    Personal Finance sugar_in_your_tea
    What does your cash flow process look like?

    I'm talking about types of accounts, automatic transfers, etc. Feel free to mention specifics, but I'm more interested in higher level information like does your paycheck go to savings or checking, do you use automatic transfers, do you use a traditional bank account or something different, etc.

    Basically, what happens to your paycheck? Do you like your process, or are you considering making changes?

    Here's mine:

    I have five main accounts:

    • Fidelity Bloom Save and Spend for savings and spending respectively; each is a brokerage account
    • Fidelity Cash Management Account - mostly fit the fantastic debit card
    • Ally Checking and Savings

    And here's the general flow of cash:

    1. Biweekly paycheck -> Fidelity Save
    2. Automatic transfer 2x/month from Fidelity Save -> Fidelity Spend
    3. Automatic transfers from Fidelity Spend -> Ally savings and personal spending accounts
    4. Automatic transfers from Ally savings to Ally checking; Ally checking is used for Target debit and automatic transfers to wife's IRA
    5. Manual transfers as needed to Fidelity Cash Management - I try to keep this near $0, and only transfer for travel or if I need to withdraw from an ATM

    I have credit cards and other bills set to autopay in full from my Fidelity Spend account 2x/month (roughly even between the two halves of the month). I changed my credit card due dates to line everything up years ago, so now everything is pretty much automated.

    I like this setup because:

    • brokerage has higher yielding money market funds
    • pretty much everything is automated
    • can have investments living next to spending money (e.g. my efund is Treasury bills, which live in my "savings")
    • I keep more sketchy account linkages at a separate institution from my main savings
    • I need a brokerage anyway for my HSA, and I'm considering moving my other retirement savings to Fidelity as well to further reduce institutions
    • Fidelity has better 2FA options than pretty much any other bank

    I used to use Ally as my main account, but I switched to Fidelity late last year and I really like it so far. Some changes I'm planning to make:

    • get my hardware security token set up with Fidelity - I've been sitting on it for months, just need to make the call
    • move wife's autopay to pull from Fidelity directly; she's not on the account yet, so I need to fill out some forms
    Personal Finance sugar_in_your_tea
    How credit cards work, and how to use them properly


    Some people use credit cards a ton, and others avoid it like the plague. There's a ton of conflicting advice in personal finance circles, from people like Dave Ramsey who advise to never use credit cards, others like The Money Guy recommends using credit cards responsibly, and then there's the churning community who tend to use credit cards a ton.

    This post will go over how credit cards work, commmon benefits, and will conclude with general advice on what "use credit cards responsibly" means.

    Statement cycles, grace period, and interest

    Bank accounts usually operate on a monchly schedule, where you'll earn interest on the average balance throughout the month. Credit cards operate on a statement cycle.

    Most credit cards use a month-long statement cycle, so your statements will close on about the same day each month, whereas some use a fixed number of days in the statement, so your statement cycle can "drift" month to month since months aren't the same length. The larger issuers tend to use a month duration, so your statement will usually close on the same day each month. Credit card payments are usually due a fixed number of days after the statement closes.

    A statement cycle contains all of the transactions that happened during that time. The sum of all of these transactions is your statement balance, and after your statement cycle closes, your total balance (the number reported on the website) will include any transactions you made after the statement cycle closes.

    Grace period

    The time from the purchase to the due date after the next statement close is called the "grace period," which is the period where interest does not accrue. Here's a simple example:

    • statement opens on the 10th and closes on the 9th of the following month
    • payment is due 16 days after the statement close, so the 25th of the following month

    Anything you buy from the 10th to 9th of the next month will be part of the same statement, and those purchases will not accrue any interest until after the payment due date, the 25th of the next month. So if you buy something on the 10th, you'll have 45 days to pay that back before that purchase starts accruing interest.

    Minimum payment

    Credit card companies require making at least the minimum payment every month in order to be on time. Usually this is the larger of a fixed amount (e.g. $50) and a percentage of the amount owed on the card (e.g. 1% + interest). If you make at least the minimum payment each month, your card will report to the credit bureaus that you paid your bill on time, which will help your credit score.

    However, if you pay less than your statement balance, the remainder will start to accrue interest daily, and that interest will be added to the total for the next month's minimum payment.

    Interest calculation

    Let's say you have a credit card with these figures:

    • $50 minimum payment, or 1% of total balance + interest accrued, whichever is greater
    • 20% interest rate
    • $10k balance

    Let's say you make the minimum payment. In this case, 1% of $10k is $100, so your minimum payment would be $100. Since no interest has accrued yet, all $100 of that payment would go toward the balance, and you'd start accruing interest immediately. The first day after your payment due date, you would accrue:

    $9,900 * (20% / 365) = $5.42

    The next day we add that interest to calculate the next day's interest, which is:

    $9,905.42 * (20% / 365) = $5.43

    And so on. If there are 30 days in the month, that's going to be $165.70 in interest added on to your balance, which is greater than your initial 1% minimum payment. Your next month's minimum payment will be even higher because you'll be required to pay the interest plus that 1% toward the debt, so the new payment will be ~$265.70.

    Different credit cards have different rules for the minimum payment, but in most areas, credit card companies are required to have the minimum be high enough that if you stop making any more purchases, you'll eventually pay off the debt by making that minimum payment.

    Avoiding interest

    As long as you pay your complete statement balance by the due date every month, you will never pay any interest.

    Most credit card companies offer autopay that lets you choose between the minimum payment, your statement balance, and your total balance. The total balance includes transactions in the next statement cycle, and you do not need to pay those until the next statement closes. Setting autopay to pay the statement balance is sufficient to avoid paying interest indefinitely, provided you always have enough money in the account used for autopay.

    Common benefits/card features

    Foreign transaction fees

    Both debit and credit cards charge a fee for making purchases outside of your economic zone. In the US, that means any other country, whereas in Europe, purchases within the EU probably don't incur a foreign transaction fee.

    Most travel cards have no foreign transaction fee, whereas most no-annual fee cards do charge that foreign transaction fee.

    Just note that this depends on where the payment was processed, not where the purchaser is, so purchasing from some websites can incur a foreign transaction fee (i.e. I get charged one for purchases at, despite prices being listed in USD).

    These fees are usually a separate line item in your statement, so you can check if a fee was charged.

    Extended warranty

    Many cards will offer to extend the manufacturer's warranty if you make the purchase with the credit card. For example, the Costco Visa credit card extends any warranty by 1 year, so if the device within a year after the manufacturer's warranty expires, you can submit a claim and the credit card company will reimburse you for the cost of the purchase according to their terms.

    Rental insurance

    If you book a rental car with the credit card, the credit card can serve as auto insurance, meaning you can avoid getting the insurance through the rental company. This benefit seems to be disappearing, and the terms can be a bit nuanced, so definitely read up on the details if you are considering relying on your credit card's rental insurance.

    Price protection

    If the price of a product drops within some window of time after purchase, your credit card company may reimburse you the difference. They usually require you to go through the merchant first if the merchant also offers similar protection.

    Fraud protection

    All credit card companies offer robust fraud protection where you are not liable for any unauthorized purchases. Some fraud department can be more difficult to work with than others, but in general, credit card fraud departments resolve cases faster than checking/savings accounts.

    Impact on credit score

    This certainly can vary by country and perhaps credit bureau, but in general, only the following impact your credit score:

    • on-time, late, and missed payments
    • age of accounts
    • number of accounts (more is better)
    • percentage of credit limit used

    Whether you pay interest does not impact your credit score in any way.

    Getting a new credit card will hurt in two ways:

    • adds an inquiry to your credit; hit is small until you have multiple (i.e. >2 and you'll get bigger hits)
    • adds a new, young account, which reduces the average age of your accounts

    Those impacts usually go away in 6-24 months, depending on the rest of your credit profile.

    General advice

    Assuming you're responsible, in rough order of importance:

    • never spend more than you have available in your bank account (i.e. treat it like a debit card)
    • pay statement balance on time every month
    • keep your oldest card open
    • have at least two credit cards
    • increase credit limit until your regular spending is a small percent of total limit

    I shoot for keeping my credit utilization under 30% for any individual card, and under 10% across all cards. This seems to

    If you have a history of being irresponsible with credit, or you think you may misuse it, it's not worth getting a credit card. You can instead use a secured card, or perhaps a charge card, since both will prevent your from getting into trouble with carrying a balance, while still reporting to the credit bureaus.


    Credit cards can be an incredibly useful tool, provided you're responsible with them. Read up on the benefits for cards you have, and consider choosing new cards based on benefits you want and need.

    Personal Finance sugar_in_your_tea
    Debt Repayment Methods - Avalanche vs Snowball


    When it comes to paying off debt, the most important thing is to get your budget in order to free up cash to actually make the payments. So if you're not there yet, stop here and work on getting your budget in order.

    In this post, I'll go through the two major debt repayment strategies with their associated pros and cons, and at the end I'll discuss one potentially surprising case where it's not so cut and dry which is better. In general, these strategies attempt to optimize how quickly you pay off your debts.

    How does interest work

    In general, your interest rate is a yearly rate, but interest usually accrues monthly (or daily for credit cards; more on that later). So let's say your interest rate is 12%, this means your monthly rate is ~1%, so every month you'd pay 1% of whatever money you owe in interest (so $10 for every $1000). It's a little more complicated than that (i.e. APR vs APY), but that's close enough for our purposes.

    For this post, I'm going to be using the following for illustration purposes:

    • credit card A: $1000 @ 24%
    • credit card B: $500 @ 12%
    • debt repayment of $200/month
    • minimum repayment: 1% or $50, whichever is greater

    So in the first month, here's how much interest we'll be paying:

    • credit card A: $1000 * (24%/12) = $20
    • credit card B: $500 * (12%/12) = $5

    Since we have a minimum payment of $50 for each card, the rest will go toward reducing the debt. So after the first month, if we only make minimum payments, the debts will be:

    • credit card A: $1000 - $30 = $970
    • credit card B: $500 - 45 = $455

    For the examples below, I'll be making extra payments with the payment, after interest accrues. I'll also assume interest accrues as of the balance at the end of the month, not daily.

    Grace period

    The most common type of higher interest debt is credit card debt, and usually these rates (in my area) are between 10-30%, usually >20%. Credit cards are a bit special in that they usually (but not always!) have a grace period where you won't pay any interest if you always pay your balance on time, but as soon as you fail to pay your statement balance even once, you start accruing daily interest on all balances (including new purchases) until the entire debt is repaid. So credit card interest is especially insidious because whether you pay interest can change each billing cycle.

    This grace period can be violated in a number of ways, and each card may be a little different there. In general, cash advances start accruing daily interest immediately, balance transfers have a separate rate from normal purchases, and payments usually go toward the highest interest portion first (so usually toward new purchase).

    The grace period will be relevant later, but I'll be ignoring it for now.

    Avalanche Method

    In short: highest interest first.

    Assuming your debt repayment stays constant, this is the mathematically optimal repayment strategy and will save you the most interest.

    One way of conceptualizing this is to find the average interest rate. We do this by adding up all the debts, divide each debt by the total debt, multiply that by the interest rate, and then sum that. That's a little complicated in text, so here's a walk through of how that works:

    1. $1000 + $500 = $1500 - $1500 total debt
    2. for debt A: $1000 / 1500 * 24% = 16%
    3. for debt B: $500 / 1500 * 12% = 4%
    4. average debt: 16% + 0.04 = 20%

    If you don't trust my math, here's an online calculator.

    So on average, we're paying 20% interest on our debts. If I paid down half of debt A, I'd instead be paying 18% average interest. If I paid down all of debt B, I'd be paying 24% average interest.

    Let's walk through our example, every extra penny goes toward the highest interest debt.

    1. interest paid: $1000*(24%/12) + 500*(12%/12) = $25; card A balance: $1000*(1 + 24%/12) - $150 = $870; card B balance = $500*(1 + 12%/12) - 50 = $455
    2. interest paid: $21.95, card A balance: $737.40; card B balance: $410.31
    3. interest paid: $18.85, card A balance: $602.15, card B balance: $365.10

    Total payoff time: 7 months Total interest: $110.70

    Snowball Method

    In short: lowest balance first.

    The goal here is to eliminate as many debts/minimum payments as possible to reduce the number of debt payments. This can be a huge psychological boost which can encourage people to cut more from the budget to accelerate debt repayment.

    Let's walk through our example:

    1. interest paid: $25, card A balance: $970.00, card B balance: $355.00
    2. interest paid: $22.95, card A balance: $939.40, card B balance: $208.55
    3. interest paid: $20.87, card A balance: $868.82, card B balance: $60.64qq`

    Total payoff time: 7 months Total interest: $113.85


    Here is a spreadsheet I've made that details the simple case above, as well as a more complicated case.

    Both cases are intended for illustrative purposes only, I don't recommend using this sheet for anything more than a high-level understanding of snowball vs avalanche debt repayment strategies.

    Corner case - unexpected expense

    The second tab in that spreadsheet goes through a corner case where snowball could actually be more advantageous. Here are the assumptions:

    • one high interest, high balance card
    • multiple lower interest, low balance cards
    • unexpected expense higher than cash flow can handle happens 3 months after debt repayment starts
    • cards have a grace period on new purchases

    In this scenario, snowball is actually superior mathematically for a few months after that unexpected expense happens, and then falls behind over the longer term.

    The takeaway here is that if you have less predictable expenses, you may be better off with the debt snowball method and/or having a larger emergency fund. The general advice when doing debt repayment is to not make additional purchases on existing credit cards so as to not add to the problem, but life happens.


    If you'll look at both of my examples, the total interest paid isn't that different. If you want to play with the numbers yourself with a better designed tool, check out and enter all of your debts, interest rates, and minimum payments. I ran my above example through that website, and the total interest paid is &lt;$100 different between the two methods, and both would be finished around the same time.

    In general, debt avalanche is usually the optimal strategy, but use what works for you. For me, debt avalanche is the way to go because I hate leaving money on the table more than I like seeing monthly payments disappear, but the opposite is also completely sensible. That said, the more debt you have, the higher the difference between avalanche and snowball, so run the numbers before deciding.

    If you'd like more posts like this, please let me know. I'd like to get more active in this community, but I don't know how technical people here would like me to get.

    InitialsDiceBear„Initials” ( by „DiceBear”, licensed under „CC0 1.0” (

    Mama told me not to come.

    She said, that ain't the way to have fun.

    Posts 27
    Comments 6.8K