Student Loan Debt through Jason Brown’s Book, IT IS POSSIBLE!

We had Jason on the podcast recently and I thought I’d share the outline of his book:

INTRO

  • 45 million borrowers
  • 1.7 Trillion in student loan debt in the US (behind only mortgage debt)
  • 1/4 of 1.7 Trillion is in deferment, forbearance, or default

Part 1 The Problem

  • Largest form of debt, behind mortgages
  • over past 45 years gas prices are up 300%, gold is up 1200%, but college is up 1600%!
  • 70% of students take out loans to help pay for college
  • 40% of students drop out before completing degree
  • US has worst college dropout rate of any developed country
  • Birth of a crisis
    • 1957 US loses space race
    • Eisenhower embarrassed and turned focus to scientific education
    • Dwight Eisenhower created first federal loan program for science, math, and engineering
    • 1965, Lyndon Johnson expanded it outside of science nerds
    • 2009 US government took over student loan industry
  • Other externalities
    • Depression
    • Divorce, 13% of divorces blame student loans
  • Standard College Expenses
    • 2017-18 Tuition and fees
      • 34k at private school
      • 10k at public for instate residents
      • 26k at public for out of state residents
    • Housing and meals ~11-12k
    • Books and school supplies ~1.2k
    • Personal and transportation 2.7-3.2k
    • Tuition tends to increase about 8% per year

Part 2 The Stories

This part went through various different paths to either get through college completely debt free or very close to debt free. Most of the stories involved living at home, getting scholarships, and working jobs.

Part 3 The Solutions

  • Work to make money
  • Employer tuition reimbursement (Starbucks, Best Buy, Home Depot, etc.)
  • 100M in unclaimed scholarships each year because students don’t know they exist or think they’re too hard to get (can find locally, scholarships.com, fastweb, chegg, etc.)
  • Dual enrollment
  • Take AP classes
  • Internships
  • Ditch car, ~9k per year
  • Use used textbooks
  • Maximize campus amenities
  • Student discounts
  • Learn to cook
  • Attend community college first (~1/3 of cost of in state public 4 year school)
  • MOOCs – massive open online courses

I enjoyed discussing some of these ideas with Jason and will take away many points. One is that the government is making money of many going into debt for school. Don’t be a blind sucker that just takes the money! Do your own cost benefit analysis and if you decide to go to school apply to all the scholarships you can, because there are a lot of dollars that go unclaimed.

Podcasting

Howdy everybody, I’m sorry I have not posted in a bit but I’ve really been trying to get the word out on house hacking and its benefits! I thought by going on some podcasts I could get the word out, meet some cool people, and all while improving my public speaking skills.

Today Mike Swenson released his new episode on the REL Freedom Podcast where we discuss house hacking:


https://open.spotify.com/episode/2CSZ9kQLf7GVrNAvR06TLA

We also may have gotten detoured and talked about Make Better Bets, which I’m making free today on Amazon in e book version:

Early Retirement Extreme Review – Day Six

Unfortunately this will be the last post on this book for now. What a book! More personal thoughts will be in bold below in the outline. For those that want to listen to The Brothers on Books Podcast discussion with Jacob Lund Fisker I’m attaching the link directly below:

BOBP 17: Early Retirement Extreme

Chapter 6: A Renaissance Lifestyle

  • Substantial improvements don’t happen incrementally by patching existing methods; They require a complete redesign
    • Earn more or spend less
    • This is not rocket science, you can do this! What I will say is cutting down your expenses can only get you so much more each month, so you may get more bang for your time by trying to increase your income or income sources. There is a limit to the amount one can spend. Even if your skills immensely improve so you don’t have to outsource many things there is a limit. At an extreme one could barter for everything and spend $0.
  • Things
    • The most expensive tool in the tool box is the one that never gets used
    • Depreciation schedules
      • Annual cost = (your cost – used price)/(years in service)
      • Many people understand this for cars but it’s important to know market prices for all your things
        • I recently sold the only NBA jersey I still had, a Miami Heat Lebron James jersey. I bought it for about $80 in 2014 and got $35 in 2021. Thus the annual cost for this jersey was (80-35)/(2021-2014) = 45/7 = ~ $6.43.
        • One could view depreciation slightly differently by looking at cost per time used.
        • Reframes how you purchase things. One item might have a much bigger price tag but may keep it’s value much better than a competing item, resulting in an annual cost that is actually less.
          • Item A: $800 now, estimate still worth about $700 after 5 years, thus annual cost = (800-700)/5 = 20
          • Item B: $400 now, estimate only worth about $100 after 5 years, thus annual cost = (400-100)/5 = 60
          • Invest in great things!
    • Get rid of your things! I’m going through the process of getting rid of unnecessary things and while I’m doing it I’ve been regretting many of the purchases I’ve made. Hopefully this feeling with stay with me when I think of making another impulse purchase.
  • Health
    • Form follows function
    • supercook.com
    • Lots of food can go without refrigeration, read books on boat provisioning
      • This is something I literally would have never thought of
    • Staples for cleaning: ammonia, baking soda, borax, chlorine, soap, and clear vinegar (never combine chlorine and ammonia)
  • Transportation
    • Touring bike, steel frame, is ideal for commuting
      • don’t be afraid of spending 1,000’s, it’ll last a lifetime

Early Retirement Extreme Review – Day Five

More personal thoughts will be in bold below in the outline. For those that want to listen to The Brothers on Books Podcast discussion with Jacob Lund Fisker I’m attaching the link directly below:

BOBP 17: Early Retirement Extreme

Chapter 5: Strategy, Tactics, and Guiding Principles

  • “Only the combination of skills and coordination will unleash the creativity of an expert.”
  • “Doing the right thing is much more important than doing things right”
    • I love this quote so much. I view it in the same vein as there’s a difference between important and urgent. Stop thinking what things have deadlines that you need to work on and instead thing of the big ticket items that are really going to move the needle in your life.
  • Outsourcing has gone extreme, why?
    • Misinformation
      • “We need an expert to do this!” syndrome. Many people are fed the information that they can’t do something and they need an expert. One thing I’ve found a godsend is YouTube. You can learn virtually anything, short of brain surgery, on there.
    • Lack of personal skills
    • Lack of choices
  • A good strategy solves multiple problems at the same time
    • This is touching on synergies. What things can you incorporate that solve many issues with one swoop? I think of when I built my calisthenics park in my backyard. It gave me some experience building with wood, drills, concrete, and paint from a skills perspective. It also allowed great time outside in the fresh air. It has saved me great time and energy going to and home from the gym, and thus saving gas money and mileage on the car.
  • To solve the problem, the cause of the problem must be understood.
    • What comes to mind are people that claim they’re not cut out for one profession or another for whatever reason. They say they’re not smart enough but oftentimes they just are underestimating the effort or time it takes. Maybe moving closer to work would allow them an extra hour to study each day, which could be all the difference they need to get over the hump.
    • Guys are saying they aren’t dating women that they like. Well maybe they’re not even asking out any of the women that they think they might like…
  • Building Blocks
    • Blocks + instructions -> model (think Legos)
      • But the blocks can be combined into new models, where as most just strictly follow the given instructions
      • This seems like it takes a lot of experience
    • Can turn microwave oven into welder
    • Can use aluminum foil to remove rust

Early Retirement Extreme Review – Day Four

More personal thoughts will be in bold below in the outline. For those that want to listen to The Brothers on Books Podcast discussion with Jacob Lund Fisker I’m attaching the link directly below:

BOBP 17: Early Retirement Extreme

Chapter 4: The Renaissance Ideal

  • “If you want to change your life don’t be tempted to outsource your life or your operations”
    • This is interesting advice as often times one hears people say that one should outsource everything that isn’t worth their time
    • Trying to get at if you learn to do more things yourself you’ll be more resilient and robust
  • “Curious that experts recommend that investments be broadly diversified, while at the same time recommending that job skills should ne highly concentrated.”
    • Think of the very specialized person that makes a salary from one function but then needs to pay for every home repair, every car repair, and becomes so dependent on their job that they think they need to keep doing what they’ve been doing, otherwise they won’t be able to survive.
    • A wide assortment of skills can substitute for a lot of otherwise required income
      • I’m thinking people/companies that are more concentrated on top line growth instead of profit, or the money that is actually left over after expenses. If you are varied in your skills maybe your bottom line, or money leftover, may actually be higher than if you had a much higher main salary but had to outsource all other aspects of your life.
  • 7 Generic Groups
    1. Physiological
      1. Too many forget that they live in their body first and their home second
      2. It’s imperative to put a focus on health and maintaining your body for the long term. You only get one body. Be nice to your body.
    2. Intellectual
      1. Critical thinking doesn’t come naturally
      2. Learn independently
      3. How should one go progress towards getting critical thinking skills? It would seem to reason that one has to put themselves into complex situations and hear/read many points of view. Also would result in the thought that acquiring these skills must be a very active process, not passive.
    3. Economic
      1. Understand difference between price and value
        1. Value is psychological, price is determined by market
        2. I can’t help but think about some of these stocks that have huge market caps but aren’t profitable businesses (at least yet),
    4. Emotional
      1. Necessary to align actions and goals with personal values
      2. Be empathetic
      3. Make connections
    5. Social
      1. We’ve grown into a society with no social capital, only financial capital
      2. Get to know people outside of your profession/comfort zone
      3. Learn how to sell/barter/swap
    6. Technical
      1. Often independence is thought to come after income goes up but can be achieved by acquiring skills
      2. Learn how to select tools for certain jobs
      3. Learn a common trade to be able to barter your skills for other things. For me I’ve been thinking lately that I’ve been getting good at editing sound for our podcast, or at least decent. I can kind of clean pools. I can tile decently. What else?
    7. Ecological
      1. Understand Liebig’s Law of the Min
      2. Always consider the system and the parts

Education

  • Education widens the focus while training narrows it
  • People remember most of what they do, some of what they say, but little of what they see or hear

Early Retirement Extreme Review – Day Three

More personal thoughts will be in bold below in the outline. For those that want to listen to The Brothers on Books Podcast discussion with Jacob Lund Fisker I’m attaching the link directly below:

BOBP 17: Early Retirement Extreme

Chapter 3: Economic Degrees of Freedom

  • Discusses the ideas of coupling and organization in a systems framework. A system can be loosely or tightly coupled while an organization can be linear or nonlinear:
  • I made a couple of earnings curves to demonstrate tightly coupled vs loosely coupled. You can see in a tightly coupled system the more work you put in translates into predictable earnings where as a loosely coupled example there wouldn’t be such an obvious relationship:
Here earnings is static for awhile and then really takes off. This is more likely in a commission based job or entrepreneurial endeavor
  • I tend to think of soccer teams as more of a nonlinear system. A starting 11 in soccer could be much better together than the sum of the individual parts or, on the other hand, worse than its talent would predict. A baseball team however may be more of a linear system as their batting and base running are more segregated in nature, making the addition of players more predictable.
  • Salary man and working man spend all their time working and little of their time solving complex problems using assets
  • Business man still relies on other people to turn assets into profits
    • Tight coupling in form of shareholders/bondholders and workers/consumers generates risk
  • Renaissance man
    • Specialist is not a well balanced man
    • Reaches creative solutions for most needs
    • Independent from marketplace
    • Uses vast skills and thus spends less, and consequently less dependent on marketplace
    • Salary man and working man spend all their time working and little of their time solving complex problems using assets
  • Business man still relies on other people to turn assets into profits
    • Tight coupling in form of shareholders/bondholders and workers/consumers generates risk
  • Renaissance man
    • Specialist is not a well balanced man
    • Reaches creative solutions for most needs
    • Independent from marketplace
    • Uses vast skills and thus spends less, and consequently less dependent on marketplace

Ergodicity and Destiny

  • Luck is only important in the short term
  • Ergodicity
    • Attitudes + actions lead to habits
    • Habits over time tend to deliver deserved outcomes
  1. Pick right actions
  2. Vision must lead to mission
  • By constantly thinking about something, you will influence your actions
  • Doing something that is considered very difficult at least once in your life is highly recommended
    • My actuarial exams I think were this for me. Those exams didn’t just give me certain math and insurance knowledge. They gave me a blueprint on how to tackle ungodly large obstacles by breaking up the larger goal into smaller mini goals.

Early Retirement Extreme Review – Day Two

Once again, this book changed my life!

More personal thoughts will be in bold below in the outline. For those that want to listen to The Brothers on Books Podcast discussion with Jacob Lund Fisker I’m attaching the link directly below:

BOBP 17: Early Retirement Extreme

Chapter 2: The Lock In

  • We’ve been taught that spending money translates, or is viewed, as success
  • We work more -> little time to develop skills other than spending money -> become helpless and deadly afraid to lose your income
  • Is being busy a good measure of wealth?
    • I used to think that the busier I was, the more success would come my way
    • Some people, it at least comes off this way to me, brag about working 80+ hours per week
    • It’s also common to mix up activities that are urgent and activities that are important
      • When I reflect on where my wealth comes from it’s ironic how large a percentage came from a very small percentage of time. I’m thinking of cold calling for real estate property. That was an incredibly important activity that took very little time relative to how much I was working at my day job, and now makes up a large percentage of my monthly cash flow and wealth
  • Education and Training
    • Wrong things matter
    • Colleges have become more of places for talent discovery as opposed to adding value
      • I believe there are skills outside of the classroom that I developed by being at college and during the podcast Jacob seems to acknowledge that college isn’t all bad
        • Social skills
        • There are externalities to being around very different people, creates better overall understanding of societies and culture
  • Career
    • Survival of “fittest” not “best”
      • “Fittest” meaning fit for the current environment
    • Promotions are subject to demographics
      • If you feel like your not getting promoting maybe there are just too many old people ahead of you that don’t want to retire/give up their jobs
    • As you spend more time on your job you become more dependent on that job
    • Specialists are more at risk from changing environment
      • It’s interesting that we’re always taught to diversify our investments but rarely do we talk about diversifying our monthly income from an early age
  • The Pursuit of Stuff, Status, and Happiness
    • Our culture was founded on the idea that maximizing production equals maximizing happiness
    • Focus has changed from better to more
    • If you relate to your possessions, you’re owned by your stuff
    • Economic growth seems to be like digging holes and filling them
      • What is ignored is wasted effort and natural resources
  • Breaking Out
    • “It is impossible to solve the problem with the same kind of thinking that created it.”
    • This is eluding to how to break out of the consumer cycle
    • 3 pillars
      1. Reduce waste, increase efficiency (really think about what you’re doing and is it an important activity that will help you move your needle)
      2. Invest in businesses
      3. Find meaningful hobbies

Early Retirement Extreme Review – Day One

This book changed my life! For the next couple of posts I’m going to be dropping my notes from the personal finance classic Early Retirement Extreme by Jacob Lund Fisker. I’d actually categorize this as a personal economics book because it’s so much more than money, it’s really a holistic view of one’s life structure.

More personal thoughts will be in bold below in the outline. For those that want to listen to The Brothers on Books Podcast discussion with Jacob I’m attaching the link directly below:

Chapter 1: A Different Frame of Mind

  • People get into a lull!
    • I feel like I start getting on autopilot occasionally and later I become frustrated because I don’t feel like I’m getting enough done or working towards important things, like becoming more financially free to spend times on things I love and being around people I love
      • Monotonous routines do this and days start feeling like seconds
  • Early education was about test taking, learning secondary
  • Few ask, “WHY?”
    • WHY do we live in house and not a boat?
      • My wife does not want to live in a boat. I have brought this up in the past. We could eliminate debt by doing this.
    • WHY we use money instead of favors and/or promises?
      • AND why would we work so hard for money where the government can just go to the back room and print?
    • WHY is career development important
      • Lately I’ve started wondering why so many start out conversations asking what the other person DOES. It’s kind of weird that we identify so much with a profession/job. One man’s opinion but I prefer to ask, “where are you from?” I find this more interesting and if the person answering wants to weave their way into their profession that’s fine.
  • I love how he sets the tone for the book by introducing the idea of Plato’s Cave. I inserted a link to a YouTube video that explains it. It touches on some fundamental questions that we really need to think about. How do we know what we know? And how do we know what’s true?
    • Ray Dalio, in his book Principles, had a great way at reframing one’s mind. He said instead of thinking/saying, “yeah I’m right”, start asking yourself, “how do I know I’m right?”
  • Compares getting out of consuming to running a marathon
  • Jacob is proposing that one should cross train for a new lifestyle by completing something hard (PHD, marathon, etc.)
    • When I read this originally three years ago this idea gave me added motivation, and a feeling of commitment, to finish the actuarial exams. I thought it would make me a more robust person.
  • Change can come from a shock to the system (heart attack, family death, job loss, etc.)
    • Losing my job in 2016 was literally the best thing that ever happened to me. I started reading voraciously to try to figure out the truth on my own and it feels like I get a dopamine hit every time I feel I’m getting a bit closer.
  • Change can be influenced by thinking of a three dimensional space with Dissatisfaction, Practicality, and Vision being on the three axes.

Hello From the Other Side

I had a wonderful time at FinCon, and I hope to be able to share a post this week with some other attendees’ reflections. It was a great feeling to be around people that were interested in improving, not just their own lives, but others’ lives. I learned so much and hope I can pass along some of these thoughts to you at some point in time. I realized that many of these posts may not be providing much value to you, and for this I think I’m going to lower the number of posts that show my net worth tracker, and instead help you get the tools needed to get your net worth on track. That being said this will be the last net worth check in for awhile.

10-day BS Refresh

While lately my net worth seems to have plateaued I do think it’s important to reflect on this exercise of tracking my net worth; It has paid incredible dividends. Through this exercise I realized I had the capacity to pay down my Michigan rentals, while I was studying for the actuarial exams, and furthermore wasn’t slowed down by COVID at all (3/20 circled below). It has afforded me the space to reflect on my decisions and get very intentional about where my dollars are going. Am I at a spot in life where I should pay down debt? Or maybe I should take out more debt to follow through on another money making proposition, like getting more real estate, which I did three months ago.

Analysis Intelligence

The Opening NW in the 9/30/2021 column is the closing NW from the 9/20/2021 column. The green numbers represent estimated changes to my net worth in those categories (green numbers in 9/30 column are the changes that I estimated on 9/20). The white “Gain from” rows show how the actual numbers turned out compared to my original estimates, ten days prior.

Crystal Ball:

NW/Learning Wins:

  • I’ve made some money at my day job
  • FinCon was amazing in both in terms of what I learned and the people I met!
  • The Brothers on Books Podcast have posted the episode with Jacob Lund Fisker here

Ideas for increasing NW/Learning

  • Revisit Tax Liens
  • Start analyzing how affiliate programs really work
  • Instead of relying solely on Amazon to sell my book I’m thinking to sell the books on my website as well.
  • Tell one person per day about The Brothers on Books Podcast
  • Rent car out on Turo

Notes:



FinCon Bound

I’m heading off to FinCon tomorrow early in the morning. Austin bound! I’m hoping to meet a lot of great people and hopefully I can take a step forward in blogging and podcasting. I don’t know a lot of specifics on the material we’ll be going over but I’m thinking it’ll be interesting. Stay tuned.

10-day BS Refresh

Analysis Intelligence

The Opening NW in the 9/20/2021 column is the closing NW from the 9/10/2021 column. The green numbers represent estimated changes to my net worth in those categories (green numbers in 9/20 column are the changes that I estimated on 9/10). The white “Gain from” rows show how the actual numbers turned out compared to my original estimates, ten days prior. Bitcoin took a step back, and the transition on the seven unit is a tad bumpy at the moment.

Crystal Ball:

NW/Learning Wins:

  • I’ve made some money at my day job
  • Finished Follow the Smart Money
  • Going to FinCon!
  • Got my 10th review on Amazon for 15 Weeks to Pass an Actuarial Exam. Took almost a year but starting to see progress:

Ideas for increasing NW/Learning

  • Revisit Tax Liens
  • Start analyzing how affiliate programs really work
  • Instead of relying solely on Amazon to sell my book I’m thinking to sell the books on my website as well.
  • Tell one person per day about The Brothers on Books Podcast
  • Rent car out on Turo

Notes: