Why investing beats savings accounts

A chart showing the growth of $10,000 invested and saved.

A chart showing the growth of $10,000 invested and saved.

I hope this chart is self-explanatory. But in the case that it might not be. Let me explain it for you. If you had $10,000 in March of 2005, this is how much money you’d have if you had either put it into a savings account (red/orange line) or had invested it in the stock market (blue line).  It’s 2015 now and 10 years later, this is how much money you’d have in your account. Which would you prefer? This chart shows why an investment account is better than a savings account.

So, if you’ve paid off your debts, saved up a couple $1,000 and now you’re curious about how to put that money to work, look no further. You’re asking yourself, “what should I do with X dollars?” Should you invest in the stock market or put it into a savings account? Look at that chart and you tell me.

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Rise of the financial robo-advisors

An image of logos for Betterment, Wealthfront, and Wisebanyan and the text Rise of the Robo-advisors.

It should be obvious by now that the internet is shattering traditional businesses by democratizing access to information and allowing for technology to reduce costs and simplify transactions. Well the newest target of advancing technology on the internet is the financial advisor. With the rise of robo-advisors like Betterment, WealthFront, and now Wisebanyan, the traditional brick-and-mortar financial advisors are looking like Radioshack and Barnes and Noble of the early 2000’s (that is to say not likely to last much longer). Intelligent Gen-X’ers (born in the 60’s and 70’s) and Millennials (born between 1980 and the 2000’s) are comfortable with technological disruptors and overall tend to embrace them. And the rise of robo-advisors for under 40’s will be another disruptor.

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Tony Robbins Stronghold Financial review – caution

Image from the front of the Stronghold financial website showing Tony Robbins.

Image of the Stronghold Financial homepage with Tony Robbins face.

This is a review for the new tool endorsed by Tony Robbins by Stronghold Financial that apparently gathers your investment portfolio details and compares them to an asset allocation laid out by the investment firm, Stronghold Financial Group. (Update: It’s now called Portfolio Checkup by Creative Planning. I guess negative reviews forced them to rebrand?)

Like many others in my generation (young 30’s), I found out about Stronghold Financial from listening to a Tim Ferriss interview with Tony Robbins (listen here on iTunes, or on Tim’s site here) . Tony Robbins is a ridiculously inspiring human and listening to him speak about anything will light a fire under your tail and make you want to live a better life and be a better person.

Read moreTony Robbins Stronghold Financial review – caution

Super easy 7-layer dip for your Super Bowl party

Image of a Mexican 7 layer dip.

Just like every group of friends needs the friend who usually hosts a Super Bowl Party, you also need the friend who brings that awesome 7 layer dip. If you don’t have that friend, now’s your chance to guarantee an invite to every ‘bring a dish’ party your friends throw – become that guy (not “that” guy).

I’m not going to make you “cook” anything. You don’t have to do anything other than buy the ingredients and layer them. Literally, I’m going to give you the easiest 7 layer dip recipe that you might actually search this site for more awesome recipes – sorry, I’m not a stay-at-home Dad with nothing better to do. This is the only recipe you’re going to get.

Let’s get to it.

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Make 2014 one of your best years ever

Happy New Year folks! 2014 is going to be probably one of the best years of my life. Hope it will be for you too. Here are some ideas to help you make that happen:red_wine_bottle_and_wine_glass

  1. Drink a bottle of wine instead of that beer or liquor.
  2. Fast every-now-and-then. Once a week isn’t too hard. (http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xvdbtt_eat-fast-live-longer-hd_shortfilms)
  3. Buy more fruit. Eat a banana in the morning. Have an orange when you’re hungry but it’s not quite lunch (10:30 am?). Blueberries and strawberries are always good.
  4. Learn something. Take a cooking class, a rock-climbing class, a yoga class, or learn to code (http://www.codecademy.com/), or learn a new language (http://www.livemocha.com/learn-spanish).
  5. Save some money and then spend it on yourself. (https://home.capitalone360.com/online-savings-account) Then save some money and don’t spend it. (https://www.scottrade.com/)
  6. Call your mom and tell her you love her. Call your pops, siblings, grandparents, and a few of those friends you haven’t spoken to in a while. Just ask ’em what’s up in their life. Then listen.
  7. Make a plan for the weekend. Go somewhere new an hour away or more. Hike a mountain, visit a historical site, go to a different beach, and take your favorite people with you. Make a plan.
  8. Volunteer. Give a few hours Saturday morning to help somebody. It can be your neighbor, your friend, your church, or a local charity. Offer your time and effort.

And make 2014 one of your best years ever!

What to Do in Chinatown Singapore

Singapore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Roof GardenSingapore can be done in a day and a half. The best thing to do is to stay in Little India and visit Chinatown.

In Chinatown, visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum just down the street from the Sri Mariamman Temple (Hindu), which isn’t far from the Jamae Mosque (Muslim). That’s Singapore in a nutshell – a harmony of cultures.

At the Buddha Temple go upstairs to the free Buddhist museum on the 3rd floor. They have tons of Buddhist relics from around the world and have done a good job telling the story of Buddha in a designed path through the museum. Take your time. Read a bit. Learn a bit.

Then hit up the stairwell and sneak up to the roof. You’ll find a lush rooftop tropical garden surrounding a large Buddhist prayer wheel. Grab the wheel, walk in a circle and make a prayer. It’s okay. You’re allowed to be there.

For lunch, go behind the museum to the Chinatown Complex (food hawker center). There are 1,000 food stalls. Take a deep breath and find a stall that sells ‘chicken rice’. When I was there it was #172. It should cost S$3. Wait for it. Make sure to take the little tray of red sauce. The dish will look bland – you will be surprised.

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Losing My Passport in Vietnam

Image of a beautiful blond model.

This may sound obvious, but your passport is critically important if you plan to travel between countries. The first 10 or 15 countries you visit, this will be obvious. But be careful not to drop your guard just because you haven’t lost it yet. This was my mistake.

Breakfast coming from Seoul. Lunch coming from Beijing. Dinner in Bangkok. It was the beginning of another sure-to-be-memorable vacation abroad. Plans included rock-climbing in Vietnam with Mixto and Huevos (aka the plumbers), whom I hadn’t seen in over 2 years since volunteering together in Peru. Then, planned to meet Taylor and his girlfriend, Nina, who I hadn’t seen since graduation from college together. These were four people you can’t help but be excited to see.

Read moreLosing My Passport in Vietnam

Scuba Diving off Tenggol Island

Tenggol Island is a lesser-known island sitting of the east coast of Malaysia. The more well-known Perhentian Islands in the peninsular northeast and Sipadan Island off the east coast of Borneo steal the glory from little old Pulau Tenggol.

Well, when Jack and I took a trip to Malaysia last Summer, we wanted to experience the world-class diving Malaysia has to offer. Knowing of the popularity of the Perhentians, we asked our respective Malaysian friends about quality dive spots with fewer travelers. Pulau Tenggol was the response.

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How to Eat Banana Leaf Rice

Our first meal fresh off the plane in Kuala Lumpur (KL), Malaysia set the stage for the rest of the trip. Mr. J Chan, a friend I met 2.5 years ago in New Zealand, was nice enough to pick us up at the airport and take us directly to lunch. J Chan told his friends that he was going to take two Americans for their first meal in Malaysia and asked what they recommended. Multiple friends suggested he take us to eat banana leaf rice and better yet, most suggested one restaurant in particular. So that’s where we went.

Banana leaf rice is a seemingly simple dish. First, your “plate” is a banana leaf, rolled out in front of you like a placemat. Then a generous scoop of rice is plopped in the middle. Next, come an assortment of curry sauces and vegetables. That’s the basic dish, and it’s meant to be eaten with your hands.

Not wanting us to miss any of the good stuff, J Chan felt it a good idea to order a bit more. So, our meal had the addition of fried spicy calamari, fried chicken, and fish. One difficult, yet fun, part of eating the meal was trying to do so the traditional way – with only your right hand. As an American, it’s not a way of eating that I’m used to, but in actuality, it’s a more practical way of eating once you get used to the correct method. (Hint: scoop the food onto your fingers, and push into mouth with thumb)

Here’s a video we filmed on Jack’s iPhone of us eating banana leaf rice. (sorry for the low quality – hit the four arrows to go full screen):

How to Attack a Singaporean Hawker Food Centre

What the heck is a Hawker Food Centre? First and foremost, it’s the one place you can’t miss if you travel to Singapore (or Malaysia). Secondly, it’s delicious, cheap, clean food served food-court style. The problem is that Hawker Food Centres (HFC) can be a bit overwhelming if you don’t know what you’re getting into.

There are several HFC’s all over Singapore in Little India, Chinatown, and elsewhere, so it’s not that hard to find one. What you might find difficult is choosing the best food stall to order from when there are so many choices, most of which look delicious. So here’s the best way to attack the HFC’s.

1. Decide what you want to eat.
Do you want chicken rice, char kuay teow, satay, or fish ball noodles? The last thing you want to do is get stuck wandering around an HFC trying to decide among all the options. Everybody else will know exactly what they want, where they’re going, where they’re sitting, and how to do it all. This only makes things worse for you if you don’t. I recommend chicken rice – it looks simple, but if you choose a good stall, you’ll be amazed how delicious it can be.

2. Choose a stall serving what you want.
Rule of thumb – look for the places with a queue. The locals know what’s up, and if they’re waiting in line, it’s because it’s worth it. Also, look for the busy cooks. The chefs standing around aren’t busy, which tells you a lot. The best stalls sometimes even sell out of food completely, so don’t be afraid to go earlier rather than later.

3. Order the dish and then sit down.
You can sit anywhere there’s a sit. Don’t worry about sitting close if the nearby tables are taken. The hawkers will bring you the food. If you’re out of view, point to let them know.

4. Pay when you get the food.
If you’re a foreigner, they might let you wait until you’ve finished eating, but it’s standard practice to pay when the food comes.

5. Don’t worry about cleaning up.
In Singapore, there are specific people paid to keep the HFC’s clean. As you’ll soon notice, Singapore is a very clean city.

Bonus Step: Watch the video the below: Know Before You Go. It’ll give you a few images of the Chinatown HFC in Singapore.