Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Systemic Series Kindle release


After nearly a year, I've finally finished my work on the five book Systemic series.

The following is a brief summary of the first book.  I'd write more, but I don't want give away too much.  

Feel free to follow the link above to Amazon's Kindle Store to get your copy today!

Thanks!  And hope you enjoy!

Something terrible is breeding in the mountains of northwest China…a virus so infectious, its symptoms so overwhelming that its mortality rate is almost absolute.  The “Su flu” as it eventually becomes known, quickly ravages the body of its host, killing it within just days, and worse yet, it’s gone airborne.  Just weeks after making its appearance on the world stage – the earth’s population held as its captive audience – the virus has taken that stage and annihilated nearly all its spectators.

Writer and stay-at-home dad John Stevens never considered himself a “prepper” like the ones he’d seen on television.  Just a regular guy, married to a regular girl, with a wonderful two-year-old son, life in the suburbs of Chicago is good, and John and his family are living the American dream…that is, until the Su flu strikes.

With mankind suddenly gripped by the worst pandemic in history, will the foresight that led John to prepare some emergency supplies and an evacuation plan be enough for him and his family to survive not just this deadly virus but the devastating aftermath and chaos that ensues?  Or will they succumb to the renegade lawlessness that has turned much of humanity’s remnants into a vicious, scavenging, do-anything-to-survive populace?  

As John and his family search for some semblance of the world they once knew, they’ll discover just what they’re willing to do to survive in a grueling post-pandemic world. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

People are Just Now Figuring Out that a Home’s not a Good Investment?

I’ve been writing about the downsides of homeownership since before the housing market collapse and before I even became a homeowner.

It’s not that homeownership is a bad idea for everyone, but sometimes it’s hard to know just what’s involved and how much it could cost before you get there.  And if you’re looking to make money off a home ownership experience, well, unless you either live in California or are a home flipper, or both, it might not be as easy as you think.

A recent USAToday.com article quotes Noble Prize winner Robert Schiller as saying, "From 1890 to 1990, real inflation-corrected home prices were virtually unchanged."

Here are some of the costs that can make home ownership a poor investment even over the long haul.

Mortgage costs
Mortgage costs can cripple your hopes of squeezing a profit out of your home.  But it’s not just the costs of obtaining a mortgage or carrying mortgage insurance – which can be sizeable expenses in themselves – that can be the real killers, but interest on the loan itself.

Even just a percentage point different in rate can equate to tens of thousands of dollars in additional interest over the course of a mortgage.  And a 15-year versus a 30-year mortgage could make an even greater impact in the overall mortgage interest paid.  This is why it can be so important to utilize a mortgage calculator to find out just how much in interest such a loan will cost over time and how to best proceed to minimize such costs since the interest alone could end up nearly doubling the purchase price of a home over the loan’s timeframe.

Property taxes and insurance
Costs related to property taxes and insurance are often combined with a mortgage payment so that they aren’t as noticeable as individual costs.  This can mask their true cost.  However, these expenses can add significantly to the carrying cost of a property. 

Depending upon the size of your downpayment, there might be mortgage insurance involved with your loan.  The location of your home and natural or geographic dangers posed to it could substantially raise the level of your home insurance, and property taxes can fluctuate from area to area and home to home, ranging from only a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars per year.

All those extras
Owning a home can come with a variety of additional costs.  From yard maintenance and lawn care to home repairs, updates, furnishings, and more, upkeep of a home can cost thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars a year depending upon the size, age, condition, and needs of the home and property.

Some put the average annual costs for repairs and maintenance at around 2 percent of the home’s value, but expenses can rise or fall dramatically from year to year depending upon the need for higher-cost repairs like a roof replacement, kitchen or bath remodel, or similar big-ticket expense.

And with all these costs involved in home ownership, unless you’re living in a location where property values rise consistently and at a decent rate, it can be difficult to make money with a home over the long run.


The author is not a licensed financial, mortgage or real estate professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Preferring Tangible over Financial Assets

The stock market rise of 2013 and 2014 seems almost unstoppable.  Even when there are pull-backs, it seems they’re brief in duration and small in their contraction.  While this is great for many investors at the moment, it could make the fall all the more difficult to bear when it eventually comes.  And it’s just one reason why I prefer tangible over financial assets.

According to a recent excerpt posted on DollarCollapse.com from “The Money Bubble” by James Turk and John Rubino, “Wealth comes in many forms, but only two general categories: tangible and financial. Tangible wealth is made up of real, physical things like buildings, farmland, oil wells, commodities, etc. These things can be seen and touched, and – crucially – they don’t have counterparty risk. That is, no one else has to make good on a promise for a tangible asset to have value.”

The excerpt goes on to note, “Financial assets like bank deposits, insurance policies, bonds, and annuities do have counterparty risk, which is to say they depend on someone else’s promise. A bank deposit, for instance, only has value if the bank is willing and able to produce that money when the account holder requests it. And a piece of paper currency is only valuable if the government manages the money supply properly.”

While I find that in many cases, a broad diversification of assets is the best route to go, here are some of the other reasons why I prefer tangible over financial assets.

Broader diversification
I’ll admit, having financial assets is almost a necessity in any portfolio these days.  Most people with an eye toward their retirement future will likely have a 401(k), IRA, 403(b), Roth IRA, individual stocks, or similar stock-based plan.  However, to me, these are all loaves in the same breadbasket…the stock market.

Tangible assets can open up a variety of investing options – land and real estate, physical commodities, precious gems, antiques, collectibles, and more – that can add diversification to an investment portfolio.

A hedge against uncertainty
And what if the stock market were to crash suddenly and/or our financial system no longer functioned as it has for decades?  What if all those paper assets were suddenly worthless?  What if all those blips and figures on a computer screen or paper statement printout were meaningless?  All you might have left are things like land, a home, precious metals, and other useable or exchangeable tangible assets that suddenly might mean much more than any amount of money in a stock market fund.

Life sustainability
With such assets available, you could find that they are much more life sustaining in an uncertain environment than loads of cash or a million dollars worth of stock.  Being able to harness the power of land – cut trees for fuel, grow produce, raise livestock, hunt and fish for food – could prove to be a real lifesaver…literally.

So while those who promote such assets might sometimes take hard knocks as being the overly-conservative prepper types, tangible assets may protect against a variety of financial occurrences, add diversity to an investment portfolio, and help hedge against uncertainty.


The author is not a licensed financial professional.  This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.