Claim Your Abandoned Money & Digitize Your Mail

Tip for today, go to and search every state you lived in to see if you left money behind. I had a local O-4 reader get over $2,300 in abandoned property! Most of these times the checks go un-cashed and are turned over to the state treasure as abandoned property. One of the account is cam upon myself is a bank account my wife has opened and forgot about when she was 8 years old!

Second tip is to sign up to view your USPS mail deliveries for the day. If you have not been informed, the USPS already takes a photo of every piece of mail for the cops, and retains it for 30 days. Instead of feeing mad or violated, you might as well take advantage of this service and sign up for informed delivery by USPS. This way you get a preview of every piece of mail coming in your mailbox every morning.


Gundecking a Strategy

I never got a straight answer from my advisor on the advantage of Investing in both Value and Growth Funds of the same index versus buying the underlaying index itself. I was just given the pat on the head and an explanation that a few basis points don’t matter and this was the way to hedge against loss. This “strategy” would capture stocks that pass both the growth and value selection criteria. Since these criteria are mutually exclusive, I figured there would be very little overlap. He also warned against a pure indexing strategy which he found to be a disturbing trend. Davey says its a more of a marketing strategy to cover for “closet indexing” AKA: Index hugger.

Just to trust but verify, I went ahead and compared the holdings of VO, VOT, and VOE which are the Vanguard Mid-Cap Index, Growth, and Value funds respectfully. I analyzed the Mid caps because there are just 400 of them versus 500 large cap, and 2000 small cap companies. I got the list of holdings all using my MCCS Library trick. Just click the link, then Morningstar on top. This will allow you to download holdings of every fund under portfolio > summary detail tab > premium detail view:

Then I combined them into a single Excel document VOE_VO_VOT. After simply looking at the list, it turns out my suspicions were correct! There is only an overlap of 8 stocks without any omissions from just owning VO by itself. There is only 7 individual companies (two classes of Liberty Broadband) that overlap when you hold both VOE and VOT. If you are curious, the overlaps are:

Trip Dip Company Name Ticker
Michael Kors Holdings Ltd KORS
Liberty Broadband Corp A LBRDA
Liberty Broadband Corp C LBRDK
Micron Technology Inc MU
Tiffany & Co TIF
United Rentals Inc URI
Cimarex Energy Co XEC
Xilinx Inc XLNX

Regarding companies found only in VO and not VOT/VOE:

Holdings Ticker Shares Owned Market Value in VO
Patterson Companies Inc PDCO 1247 $55,479
Calpine Corp CPN 5307 $54,131
Conduent Inc CNDT 2552 $41,623
Frontier Communications Corp Class B FTR 17313 $32,548
DXC Technology Co DXC 284 $21,397

I figure these companies are either too small and soon to be small caps, or too big and soon to be large caps. Otherwise their weight is less than 1 percent.

So whats the damn point? This strategy also exists in both the small and large cap companies of American Stocks. Why are we paying more than 0.06% for VO in order to buy VOT and VOE at 0.07%? Yes 0.01% is not a lot, but it’s just stupid to make it so complicated. If we expand it out, could just own it all; Value & Growth of all Large, Mid, Small Caps with VTI at almost half the cost at 0.04%.

The uncomfortable truth is the 1.37% paid for this strategy needs to be justified some how, and I think its just your average MS client doesn’t care. I think its better to be wowed by a 19 fund portfolio, rather than put any thought into what it’s made of.



Talk about due diligence, I checked into the press center and sure enough they had a lengthy write up on the blog, and it looks like my viewership did not wow them. I love you guys, but I guess we’re too weird for prime time. I retreated back to the safety of the AmEx lounge dreaming of someday being a Japanese Salaryman. Selling the finest tuna to American Restaurants.


Eagerly Awaiting Press Credentials At The AmEx Open lounge

Here I am, a fish out of water, military churner, now lifestyle blogger getting the runaround at the NRA show. I am headed over to the press center after being denied a badge at the self service terminal(s). On my way I stoped into the AmEx OPEN lounge on the 2 and a half floor for some coffee and power for my devices. Sure enough, they let me in with the personal platnum. Up to two guests, no credentials required.

I am still making my case to the NRA, we have a very unique population of readers here. Military members with 30 days of annual leave, disposable income, and are all savvy churners that save money on the flight and the hotel with points. With these expenses are reduced, we take these savings to spend towards lifestyle such as dining and entertainment. All while earning mad 3x UR points on it to further this cycle. Hope thats as convincing to them as it is to myself.

Wish me luck!


What 1.37% Buys You: Prestige, Tea and Sympathy

First off a shout out to Millennial Revolution who are a great alternative to Dave Ramsey. These hippies have one mil in savings, and retired at 31, and here I am working like a sucker! Fascinating story with sensible investment advice.

This is a completion post to my analysis of what my Morgan Stanley Advisor put my wife’s Roth IRA in for a steep 1.3% fee along with a 7 basis point fee overlay fee from Morgan Stanley. This fee is charged quarterly, and will be about $700 a year, every year, till the money is all spent. I am using these allocations as a way to benchmark to my Roth IRA performance and other investments. This is not the first advisor that I have been approached by. I have had the run of mill bros that cold call me, and I have had the super shady ones too. I went with Morgan Stanley because I wanted the branded AmEx Platinum Card, plus this guy seemed transparent in his selection process and is quick to justify his moves. In the first post I listed 84% of the holdings. Here is what the rest of the holdings are and their equivalents:

Symbol Expenses % Schwab One Source Other ETF TSP Description % of Portfolio
DXJ 0.48% HFXJ EWJ I Fund (Just Japan) Japan Stock 3%
VOE 0.07% SCHM VASVX S Fund Mid-Cap Value 3%
VOT 0.07% MDYG RFG S Fund Mid-Cap Growth 3%
BIL 0.14% SCHO VBISX G Fund (kind of) 1-3 Mth T-Bill 2%
DEVIX 0.99% SLYV VISVX S Fund Small Cap Value 1%
JKK 0.3% SLYG VISGX S Fund Small Cap Growth 1%
IJS 0.25% SLYV VISVX S Fund Small Cap Value 1%
Total 14%

Again we see this overlap of Value and Growth Funds of the same indices. The holding both strategy means we double up on a few companies and leaving a few possible diamonds in the dust. This move I am not entirely convinced that is better than owning the underlying index. I am suggesting the S&P 500 for large, S&P 400 for Mid Caps, and the Russell 2000 for small caps. If we break it down by asset class we can simplify the situation. For US equities we can just do this:

13% VUG US Large Cap Growth
7.5% SDY US Large Cap Value
7% DLN US Large Cap Value
3% VOT US Mid Cap Growth
3% VOE US Mid Cap Value
1% JKK US Small Cap Growth
1% DEVIX US Small Cap Value
1% IJS US Small Cap Value

This could just become 27.5% Large Caps (C Fund), 6% Midcaps and 3% Small Caps as 9% in S Fund. Hell you could just put in 36.5% into VTI as a single ETF to represent your entire US Equity Market exposure. For Foreign Equities they got me spread out all over the place:

4 HLEMX Emerging Markets Equities
4.5 VWO Emerging Markets Equities
22 IEFA International Equities
3 DXJ Japan Equities

International equities can be split up into emerging markets and developed market. Japan is a developed market so we can combine them as 25% into I Fund. China is slowly being included into the MCSI index for developed economies, and shares are cheaper for these Chinese companies trading as H shares in Hong Kong. I suggest buying 4.5% FXI as mentioned by Dr. Sjuggerud to represent and front run this transition. This will be H shares of the same companies that VWO holds. For the developing international equities we can put in 4% in to the good old Schwab’s SCHE for that exposure. For Bonds, its also a mess:

7 AGDYX High Yield Fixed Income
4 STPZ Inflation Linked Secs
4 SCPB Short Term Fixed Income
4 VCSH Short Term Fixed Income
2 BIL Ultra Short Term Fixed Income
3 BND US Taxable Core Bonds
4 TOTL US Taxable Core Bonds

We can break bonds down into Investment Grade and High Yield. Then also in government vs corporate. It’s hard to fit G fund into everything since its an custom Treasury product for TSP. F Fund is also all American bonds that are investment grade. I don’t know too much about bonds so lets just say so we can say lets do 4% TIPS via the Schwab SCHP, 7% G fund, 8% F Fund, 7% into a Junk Bond ETF like JNK. Or even simpler we can just do the classic three fund portfolio and get these allocations:

Cash 2%
Bonds 28%
International 33.50%
US Stocks 36.50%

So there you have it, I hope my $700 goes a long way! You are on your own reading this article, this advice was free advice from a rambling dentist, you are responsible for your own allocations, although it would be difficult to lose all your money with this diversification. I paid my $700 so I could have the prestige to be managed by Morgan Stanley.

Did I mention I have a portfolio with Morgan Stanley? Yes, it is kind of a big deal, you normally need a half million for that, but I am proof you don’t at all. Lets just try to maintain that illusion, so that will be our little secret. Yes, I did it all to have that silly logo on my metal charge card. The other service I bought is “Behavioral Management”, and when the market tanks I got a guy to call and cry to! Maybe he will invite me over to his office for some tea too. Some day I might get invited to his yacht that we all paid for!


Portfolio Vivisection

I showed what I had done to my wife’s Roth IRA to Davey and he immediately scoffed at the fact that they split my simple two fund portfolio into 20 separate holdings (including the cash for the 1.3% advisor fee). “Seems complicated” he stated for what is essentially the aggregate of the entire market. “I view this intricate plan as not having a plan at all” is the other comment that I found resounding. For example I hold on to both value and growth subsectors, which account for the entire market. Like betting on all 36 numbers in roulette, what’s the damn point? Why not a total market fund like VTI?

For the international segments he suggested a one fund solution like Meb Faber’s GAA instead of a crap ton of funds. His assertions are that spreading the portfolio out to 20 funds as well as “stress testing” in sophisticated computer models is just a flashy show to justify the sweet $695 management fee as well as the possible commi$$ion$$$$$.

I decided to analyze the top 56.5% of my MS holdings to see what cheaper alternatives are out there:

Symbol Expenses % Schwab OneSource Other ETF TSP Index Tracked % of Portfolio
IEFA 0.08% SCHF VEA N/A MSCI EAFE IMI & MSCI Emerging Markets index 22%
VUG 0.06% SCHG IWF C Fund CRSP U.S. Large Cap Growth Index 13%
SDY 0.35% SCHD VIG C Fund S&P High Yield Dividend Aristocrats Index 7.5%
DNL 0.58% DBAW CWI I Fund (developed Countries only) MSCI ACWI Ex USA 7%
AGDYX 0.58% PHB JNK N/A Not investment Grade Bonds 7%
Total 56.5%

I have been reverse cold calling the good people at Ameriprise in order to get the Ameriprise AmEx Platnium & Gold card. None of them would take me, as they all wanted the keys to the kingdom. They all wanted total portfolio management, or nothing. They said what I was asking for was pretty much like driving to the dealership and asking for an oil change, but with oil, filter, and instructions in hand. They rather just have you do it yourself. because they don’t want to deal with you if you’re going to dictate to them on how to do it. The other quarter of the portfolio are mostly bonds:

Symbol Expenses % Schwab One Source Other ETF TSP Description % of Portfolio
HLEMX 1.42% SCHE VEIEX I Fund (Just Developed) MSCI ACWI Ex USA NR USD 4%
VWO 0.14% SCHE EEMV I Fund (Just Large Developed) FTSE Emerging All Cap China A Inclusion Index 4.5%
BND 0.05% SCHZ VBTLX F Fund Intermediate-Term Bond 3%
SCPB 0.12% CORP VCSH F Fund Short-Term Bond 4%
TOTL 0.55% SCHZ BOND F Fund Intermediate-Term Bond 4%
STPZ 0.2% SCHP TDTF G Fund (kind of) Inflation-Protected Bond 4%
VCSH 0.1% FLRN VSCSX F Fund Short-Term Corporate Bond 4%
Total 27.5%

If this portfolio was your first exposure to investing in the multiverse of investible securities out there, you wouldn’t even bother to do it yourself. It just seems so daunting, but a simple ETF could capture the entire bond market, with JNK and BOND you would have the American bond market. With Meb’s SOVB you would have the developing foreign bonds. These 6 separate funds for bonds seems like just undue complication to make it look like its super complex. Classical mechanical turk stuff right here.

Active management is perfect for the helpless lazy uneducated losers out there, but I find $695 a year a lot of money for something I could just do myself. Next up: the other quarter of the funds that make up this managed portfolio.



Derp Takes on Morgan Stanley

Ever since I got my Morgan Stanley Card for American Express I have gotten the hard sell from my financial advisor to roll over everything in all accounts, and just set it and forget it. The prospect of just paying some dude 1.3% every year to manage all my finances seem like taking the easy way out. A certain philosophical suicide, where I have become the trust fund baby that I always wish I was. I would not know how the money got there, what it was invested in, but daddy would tell me exactly my monthly allowance. I would become Billy Madison, some sort of a man-child prime for financial exploitation.

I also have not been a fan of active fund management because it costs too much (1.3% a year from Morgan Stanley). For this little experiment it would cost me $695 a year for management! This fee however includes all of the buying and selling of funds as they are commission fee. It does not include the management fees of each fund charges either, although some funds charge less than retail investors as a MS client. I thought, let’s not go nuts here and give away the keys to the kingdom. The Financial Manage agreed to manage only my Wife’s IRA to prove his fees are worth it. He even stated he usually doesn’t touch any account less then half a million dollars, but he liked the cut of my jib. I guess they are scraping the bottom of the barrel here with my $50K. This is whole set up is reminiscent of the famous Warren Buffett vs Hedge Fund Bet. Hopefully I come out ahead by being not sexy with my two fund portfolio. I will be honest, if he blows me out of the water, then I would be more than happy to shift my Roth IRA over to him. I mean her would have to return twice as much minus his fees!

Ultimately I need a benchmark to show that I am am capable of possibly beating active management by low fee indexing. I rolled over my wife’s IRA to MS just as a trial of what active management can do. I will be managing my Roth inside Vanguard and will rebalance every time MS rebalances. Here is what MS has allocated:

Description Symbol Percent
CASH $$$$ 2%

And here is my not so sexy Vanguard allocations:

Vanguard Growth Index Fund Admiral Shares VIGAX 32.5%
Vanguard International Growth Fund Admiral Shares VWILX 67.5%

Right now as of 16 April 2017, I have $53.5k in the wife’s and $87k in mine, this will be the benchmark for comparison. I will use percent return as the final determination of success We can’t contribute to the Roth IRA due to the income limit, and I don’t care to do the indirect rollover. We will count all reinvested dividends as return, and let the best man win! I am going to check back in 3 months to let you all know where we all stand. We can finally see for ourselves if a 1.3% fee can make up for better returns.


Second Traunch of Points Hits on PRG

I got a reminder today that the second 25,000 points will hit for our Premier Rewards Gold Card:

Dear Derp Report:

This is a reminder that you can earn 25,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $2,000 in eligible purchases on the Card between 7/‌15/‌2017 and 10‌/15/‌2017 as part of your original welcome bonus offer when you received your Card.

Points will be credited to your Membership Rewards account within 6-8 weeks after charges appear on your monthly billing statement.

If you have any questions, please call the number on the back of your Card.

Thank you for your Card Membership,
American Express Customer Care

Time to dig those PRG cards out of the sock drawer!


Buying a Lifestyle for $300 a year

Take advantage of the misinformation out there! The mystery of a black credit card have been around for years and many companies such as the defunct Visa Black Card (now Black Luxury Card) and The Black Chairman Card from Citigroup have all milked this allure. However the only exclusive “Black Card” is the AmEx Centurion card.

Getting the Centurion AmEx is a pain in the ass. You got to have good credit, then have the AmEx Platinum for years and spend at least $250,000 a year consistently just to get consideration for an invite. Then the card comes with a bunch of perks, but you’re stuck with a $7,500 initiation fee in addition to the $2,500 annual fee from each cardholder. The one main perk that isn’t highlighted is how to pretend like your are some sort of celebrity in da’ club. No one really gives a shit about the back end user benefits of the card, (sorry Brian). Now for a mere $300 towards the Select Card, you can pretend you are a VIP and can impress a whole bunch of $30k Millionaires while drinking in Viagra Triangle.

Same same, but different than the Centurion

When you are paying for your bottle service at the club, you can’t just plop down a plastic Chase Freedom card that has no annual fee. What would your legions of fans think? You don’t want to be know as some sensible basic bitch that just wants 5% cash back. Now you can have the best of both worlds, a baller metal card with sensible cashback (or link it to your secured credit card since your credit probably sucks).

The card seeks out what a lot of replica services had promised; a way to make your boring, father of two, suburban dentist, Citibank CostCo card into a baller looking metal black card. The kind of card that Chinese Billionaires use to buy million dollar tea cups at Sotheby’s Auctions. The greatest benefit of this card is to have the feeling of a black card, but not actually having to work for it. They partnered up with restaurants in LA, Miami, New York, San Fran, and Chicago to be super nice to you, and to give you free stuff when booking through the black card to maintain this VIP illusion. You can finally buy the VIP lifestyle despite not being very important at all.

Why work for VIP status like this dude? Just buy it!

I am a fan of the absurd, and this is simply the most absurd thing in my life right now. I am also looking at the potential maximizing of benefits for my upcoming San Fran and NYC  trip. So, for the sake of Journalism, I went ahead and signed up for the card, since it promised me a life equivalent of that of a “baller” and/or 1980s stock broker.

There is an application (including personal statement) as well as a “committee” to decide on approval of membership. Very ‘select’ive! I was told a decision would take up to two days, but I got an approval in a few hours. They get away with this $300 fee as they are claiming it’s cheaper than the AmEx Centurion, with all of the prestige of having a black piece of metal. I asked for a military discount and was surprised with this response from customer service:

You may enter MILITARYVIP in order for your annual  membership cost to be $200/yr!

Or if you prefer you may use our April promo code SPRINGSPECIAL which will make your membership fee $250/yr plus $100 in credit to be used at SELECT partners.

I went ahead and did the spring special for $250, but with $100 credit. I was given access to the app, and sure enough I had a VIP experience! I decided to use the perk for free champaign and a special free dish while dining at Roka Akor 456 N. Clark Street, Chicago. I booked with the in app concierge a week before my date, and arrived for my reservation. Sure enough we had a special welcome as well as the champaign and a complementary amuse bouche.

I took a photo of our receipt after payment and sent to to the in app concierge. In a week I got $100 credited back to my account! Now I am only down $150 for this silly card. For my Napa Valley trip I searched in the app and found a Balloon ride company via Vimbly that was giving a $50 discount pr person (please use this link for $10 discount on Vimbly). So that was another $100! I am just $50 away from re-coping all of my membership fee. Now I am incentivized to cancel the card at the end of this year because I locked in the $250 annual fee, when I could of locked in $200 with the military discount. Hopefully they have a good retentions department, because my wife will be applying for the next year to get another $100 bonus.

I got the card last night (almost a month after), and sure enough it would easily pass for the AmEx Centurion to idiots. It’s very minimalist and weighs in at 21 grams. When compared to the other cards of my collection, its weight is second only to the Ritz Carlton card. It even heavier than the Centurion which is only 14 g.

The back is mysterious and blank with just a member number. I have to schedule an appointment to have the strip coded with whatever card I want to replicate. Presumably one of my own other cards.

Construction is solid metal with engraving on both the front and back

The card is nice, but it is terribly prone to smudging, I have to have my caddie’s chauffeur wipe it down after each handling cycle.

So there you have it! If you want to check it out please use this link for the Select card. I don’t think its a very good product because it puts you in a situation where you got to spend even more money to save money. However if you value people treating you better because you are extra awesome, then go for it. The metal card is played out anyways, wake me up when a ceramic, depleted uranium, carbon fiber, or solid gold card comes out.


Derp Report’s Upcoming Review of the NRA Show

I went ahead and applied for media credentials to the NRA show this upcoming weekend. No guarantee on approval, but this humble little site with is 7,000 unique months readers does fall within the criteria of accepted media outlets:

  1. You must have an editorial role within a well-established news media outlet that publishes original content (check)
  2. Your news outlet or blog must regularly cover food, foodservice, entertainment and leisure or other topics related to the hospitality industry – and receive at least 1,000 unique visitors per month (check)

This is not the Charlton Heston NRA, but rather the greatest bar, hospitality, and restaurant show in the world!  This show is a perfect showcase of the many different companies we spend millions of points (and dollars) on. Our active duty readers are one of the few groups of people that get 30 days of annual leave, and are always seeking food, food service, entertainment, and leisure outlets all around the world. The Derp Report is a quickly rising site that has been positioned in writing to this unique population. Our readers are stationed worldwide and present a unique marketing opportunity to a very well traveled group (with excellent credit). It would be a value add on both sides to show our military readers what is to come regarding the hospitality and food service industries. Last year’s attendees included:

  • Costco
  • Hyatt Hotels
  • Hyatt Hotels & Resorts – Chicago
  • Intercontinental Hotels Group
  • Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants
  • Marriott International
  • Sandals Resorts International
  • Starwood Hotels And Resorts
  • Wyndham

Pardon the media sales pitch here, but there are certainly many opportunities to sell to the Active Duty population. Derp Report is the perfect showcase for your particular brand or loyalty program. Our readers have plenty of disposable income, and if they follow the sensible financial and investing advice, perhaps even more in the future. Hope I get those credentials for the show, and if not we will just hang out at the American Express OPEN lounge across the hall.