Dropping Edward Jones and moving my money to Vanguard

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Vanguard investment strategies are all over the personal finance blogs. Automated dollar cost averaging into passive index funds has a beauty to it that I didn’t appreciate until afterwords.

  “lower fees, from computerized passive index investing versus active management, leaves more wealth for yourself, and in 97% of the cases, gives you better portfolio performance as well”.

For 8 years I invested with Edward Jones active mutual funds. And they did okay.

Beginning in college I read books and blog posts about personal finance, including I Will Teach you to be Rich.

I mainly changed my spending habits. But I was reluctant to change investment strategies. I was young and didn’t want to devote too much time to investing.

After running my own analysis, I realized that excessive fees were costing me lots of money.

And I don’t want that to happen to you.

I was paying 5% load fees, 1.5% expense ratios and account maintenance fees.

What I didn’t know was really hurting my investment portfolio.

But, I didn’t switch over because I believed I was paying for solid performance.

I had my reasons.

-I didn’t want to upset my broker at Edward Jones

-I didn’t want to lose money in taxes and fees

-I didn’t have any experience with Vanguard.

But when I read Money: Master the Game by Tony Robbins, and his chapter on fees, I realized I had to do something.

In 2015, I opened a Traditional IRA with Vanguard.

Then I tracked performance for 2 years and saw better performance in vanguard along with less fees.

Once I had that information I knew I needed to make a change.

I had wasted 3 years and hundreds in fees telling myself that I needed to switch.

But once you have momentum it’s hard to stop it. It’s why 2.1 million people still pay for AOL internet from a CD they got in the mail in 1998.

I Finally did an in-kind transfer from EJ to Vanguard. .

For a disclaimer: I am not an investment professional, and this is not investment advice. Past performance does not predict future performance. This is purely entertainment writing.

With that out of the way. Here are my takeaways.

The end of excessive fees

Edward Jones charges a lot to people. A Roth IRA is $100/year. Vanguard doesn’t do this.

Vanguard has no loads, and some of the smallest expense ratios in the business. With a minimum 3,000k to invest.

Processing fees to change over

$100 per account to roll them over. It’s bullshit, but worth it to be rid of their loaded funds.

Forms to fill out

You only need a form from Vanguard. I filled it out, signed it, and within 2 weeks my account was fully moved over to vanguard from Edward Jones.

I got a call from Edward Jones asking about canceling the auto draft from my bank. I told them to cancel it, said thank you, and got off the phone.

That was it from Edward Jones. And I spent 3 years procrastinating on it.

All it took was $200 to EJ, a 10 minute form, and a 1 minute phone call. Finally high fees were a thing of the past.

Current management ratios

My current ratios range from 0.20% to 0.06% in the Vanguard funds I am invested in.

Passive investment

Each month I have set amount of money taken from my bank account and processed without loads into buying Vanguard shares.

I did this before. But it’s still important to build that money machine as a young man. Time is on my and your side.

Warren Buffet wrote an Op-ed piece in 2008 during the tumultuous Financial Crisis. “Buy American. I am.”

The S&P 500 was a roller coaster that month. The largest percentage swings in history.

The day his article was published the S&P was at 909.53. His critics slammed him. But a 9 year Bull market vindicated him. Today the S&P stands at 2,500.03.

Linking up banking information

Takes a few minutes, but all they need is a banking account number and routing number. Set up an auto-investment and then lay back in a hammock.

Better Website

Easy to find portfolio breakdown and performance. Really good infographics and tools on the vanguard website for a passive investor. The Edward Jones site was clunky and hard to find real numbers.

That’s what I’ve noticed. I’m glad a made that change at an early age. I now I want to take a calculated risk.

Future investment plans

I turned 18 on the day of the largest point swing in S&P 500 history, -106.95.  This current 9 year long bull market will end. Everything that goes up will come back down. I’m preparing for it in the same way Mr Money Mustache has.

Recent books I read on Personal Finance and investing that were good.

Bachelor Pad Economics: Funny, engaging, actionable.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAf7I5gl72A

Money: Master the Game: Great All-Weather portfolio allocation strategy.

 

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Top 10 Oilfield questions about life offshore from non-oilfield people

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Sunrise bathes the S-92

First off, “How’s the Rig?”, this isn’t a real question but another version of “hows work?”. Its a filler. These are the real questions I get the most.

 

“Why do you do that?”

Offshore Mudlogging is good work. It pays well, you get a lot of exposure to drilling, and the accommodations are 5 star compared to land rigs. I am given a ton of responsibility at a young age. I get to troubleshoot 100k pieces of equipment and oversee million dollar operations. Not many young professionals get this type of opportunity.

“What’s the work like as a mud logger?”

  1. Fedex, packaging, manifesting and shipping rocks, mud, and gas
  2. Monitor and Report drilling problems, ie stuck pipe, kicks, hole cave ins
  3. Detect and analyze gases from the rocks
  4. Maintain computer networks, gas equipment and our sensor suite
  5. Produce real-time and depth projected logs of drilling, and lithology

“What is it like out there?”

War against Nature. Your squad and a bunch of computers against rocks and gas at high pressure.

“What’s your average day like?”

Wake up at 17:15, eat in the galley, go to pre-tower meeting, walk to work, drink coffee, monitor operations, talk to WSG, Coman and RF about anomalies, after 12 hours get off tower, work out in rig gym, shower in my room, read and sleep. Repeat for 21-28 days.

“Whats the rig gym like?’

Different on each rig, but on my rig they have ellipticals, treadmills, dumbells up to 100lbs, a squat rack, benchpress, ping pong table, bikes, rowing machine, pullup bars, and a smith machine.

“What do you do when you get off work?”

Work out, read, go fishing, eat in the galley, hang out, watch tv, smoke, listen to music, and sleep. Not much to do really, it’s a monks life. But I enjoy the time away from distractions. I am able to read 100 pages a night, write, workout, and invest. Each time I come back onshore I feel like I improved my life 5% in each of the categories I seek to improve. Physically, financially, and intellectually. Then I hang out with friends and decompress from all the stress.

“Do you guys drink alcohol and do drugs out there?”

A resounding No. Heliport x-ray scans and bag checks plus random drug and alcohol tests while onboard.

“Are there any girls offshore?”

Yes, about 5% of drilling engineers, mudloggers, and MWD’s are girls. Very rare to find a girl on the marine crew, drill crew or maintenance crew.

“Do they have fights, sex?”

Not really much fighting. Mainly arguments. If you did anything physical you would be run off. As for sex, I’ve head rig rumors, but the walls in the rooms are so paper thin, everyone would hear you.

“Do they have mental health seminars of counselors out there to deal with the problems?”

The crew becomes pretty tight nit. They become like a second family and the downturn in the industry really tightened people together. I think it’s similar to any line of work where you are away from family and friends for a prolonged amount of time. Yes its corporate and you have to watch what you say, but people are generally easy to get along with and can take a joke. As for keeping my mindset correct. Like everyone I go through days of low energy and cloudy thoughts. I try and do a couple things to get my mind off it. I write in my journal until I get to the root of the feeling, I try and stay off social media and tv, and I try and eat a healthy diet and stay active during and after my shift. That helps me stay even throughout my hitch.

These are the most common ones I get from friends and family back home. I had little idea coming in what it would be like and I’m glad I stuck it out through the tough times.

Hopefully things in the oilfield will stabilize and my friends that were laid off will once again be back on bottom drilling ahead.

Exploring the Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris while reading “Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follet

I found Saint-Denis while stumbling through Paris on my off-day from oilfield training. I explored a-lot of the city but my favorite by far was the Basilica of Saint-Denis. This was largely due to a friend who gave me Pillars of the Earth to read. The book does a fine job of mixing a love story with royal intrigue and the incredible task of building a cathedral in the 12th century.

Saint-Denis was built early in the transition from Romanesque architecture to Gothic architecture. Saint-Denis was the first Bishop of Paris and was beheaded on Montmarte. The legend goes that he walked headless until he reached this spot and the church was built over him. In Pillars of the Earth the protaganist, Jack Jackson travels to find work at Saint-Denis and is marveled by the revolutionary new techniques in cathedral building, ie. flying buttresses, pointed arches, and ribbed vaulting.

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http://www.francethisway.com/paris/saint-denis-basilica.php

Pillars does a great job pitting the dark triad royalty against the pious Prior Philip, the leader of Kingsbridge Priory, who wants to bring prosperity to a decaying and insignificant monastery and township. Philips efforts are thwarted and resisted along the way by a machiavellian Bishop Waleran Bigod and psychotic Lord William Hamleigh.

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Philip is aided in his quest by the hero of the book, Jack Jackson, a skeptic of the church but intelligent, hard-working, and of high character.

He leaves England and makes his way to Paris while Abbot Suger is constructing the Basilica of Saint-Denis. The new design incorporates ribbed vaulting and point arches, replacing the Romanesque groin vaulting and rounded arches.

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One thing I took away from the book was an appreciation for cathedral architecture.

 “To someone standing in the nave, looking down the length of the church toward the east, the round window would seem like a huge sun exploding into innumerable shards of gorgeous color.”
-Ken Follet

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“I’ve worked with volunteers before,” he began. “It’s important not to… not to treat them like servants. We may feel that they are laboring to obtain a heavenly reward, and should therefore work harder than they would for money; but they don’t necessarily take that attitude. They feel they’re working for nothing, and doing a great kindness to us thereby; and if we seem ungrateful they will work slowly and make mistakes. It will be best to rule them with a light touch.”
― Ken Follet

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https://traveltoeat.com/saint-denis-basilica-paris/

Saint-Denis is also the final resting place of 800 years of French Royalty. One of the more interesting memorials include the remains of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. I am currently reading about Alexander Hamilton and the Reign of Terror. Hamilton is loathe to intervene in European wars even though they are bound to France. Hamilton argues that the US should remain neutral because the Treaty of Alliance signed in 1778 with King XVI was voided when he was beheaded in 1793.

“The cathedral is God’s shadow over history, Father. We… we live in a world that is striving for order, which is art, which is learning, which is people creating something that will bring God’s heart into their community, that will survive wars and famine, that will survive history.” -Ken Follet

Book Review “I Will Teach you to Be Rich” by Ramit Sethi: Frontload the Work and Relax

This book is great for young professionals that want power over their finances. Ramit is a smart bachelor whose mission is to maximize his utility and manage his limited willpower. I’ve put his systems into action and I’ve saved thousands. We also agree on how to eat chicken wings.

I read this in college after hearing Ramit on the Art of Charm (back when it was pickup podcast, RIP). After 2 years in the oilfield, I know this book laid a solid foundation. Last month I put his negotiation tactics to work while shopping for car insurance and got a 30% reduction by switching to Allstate. His tactics paid for the book 20 times over. Besides that he makes financial literacy interesting and has a biting dry wit.

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Ramit sets 6 weeks to put in his systems. By the end all of your finances will be automated. Your credit card, online savings and investment accounts will be connected. They will all be low-fee, high-interest, and minimal maintenance. The last section is about saving for weddings, negotiating for cars, and creating a rich life for yourself.

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These are the habits I gained and recommend doing:

  • Mint: Probably the best thing I have learned from reading this back in college was getting a Mint account. I have had it for 4 years now and have an awesome data set. I spent the other day running through what I’ve spent over the past 4 years on alcohol, bars, groceries, amazon shopping, and even income.
  • Get rid of all subscriptions: Magazines, cable, Netflix, and linkedin. They are soul sucking. If you want them, buy a la carte.
  • Craigslist: I find its great to buy/sell used items.  I have sold bikes, shoes, furniture and TV’s.
  • Investing: Automation, putting money away for an index fund. It’s like tinder dating for your money. Keep working hard and learning at your job so you deserve the raises that will come your way, and you can invest those. Nothing feels quite like making money while you sleep.

Ramit has a large collection of articles and courses. I almost pulled the trigger on Dream Job but I decided to implement his free stuff first before I moved on to the premium services. This is an entertaining book and I plan on giving it to my nephews and cousins when they are in college.

For 2 great interviews of Ramit:

http://theartofcharm.com/podcast-episodes/ramit-sethi-will-teach-you-to-be-rich/

http://theartofcharm.com/podcast-episodes/episode-172-ramit-sethi-iwillteachyoutoberich-com-dream-job/

For another good book review of IWTTBR. Look to Mr Money Mustache’s Book Review.  He calls the title into question, “At best, it should be called I Will Teach You to Stay Out Of Trouble”. MMM is more of a stoic frugalist. Ramit is more of a measured hedonist.

Ramit’s main message is to set up the financial system so you CAN live a rich life. Whatever that means to you.

Buy the book here

 

Empire of the Summer Moon Summary and Quotes by S.C. Gwynne: Comanches vs. Texas Rangers

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

The book tracks the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the creation of the Texas Rangers, and the closing chapter of Manifest Destiny in early Texas.

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Promotional hand out photo of the cover of “Empire of the Summer Moon,” by S.C. Gwynne. CREDIT: Simon & Schuster. Received 06/28/10 for 0704gwynne. For 2010 Texas Book Festival Illustration.

The Comanches, never numbering more than 15,000, kicked out the Spanish, Apaches, Mexicans and Texans from the Great Southern Plains, the better part of 5 U.S. States, from 1650 to 1850. They were the most powerful Indian Tribe in U.S. history.

Here are my favorite parts of this book, which was an exciting and engaging read from cover to cover.

Comanches

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“The Comanche horsemen who rode up to the front gate of Parker’s Fort [Texas] that morning in May 1836 were representatives of a military and trade empire that covered some 240,000 square miles, essentially the southern Great Plains. Their land encompassed large chunks of five present-day states: Texas, New Mexico, Colorado, Kansas, and Oklahoma.”

“Comanches, meanwhile, carried a disk-shaped buffalo-hide shield, a fourteen-foot plains lance, a sinew-backed bow, and a quiver of iron-tipped arrows.The Comanches had been fighting this way for two hundred years. War was what they did, and all of their social status was based on it.”

“He would dance for hours, or days. He loved to gamble and would bet on anything. He loved to sing. He especially loved to sing his personal song, often written expressly for him by a medicine man. He often woke up singing and sang before bed.”

Texas Rangers

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“Ranger John Caperton estimated that “about half the rangers were killed off every year” and that “the lives of those who went into the service were not considered good for more than a year or two.”

“The western part of Texas in those years was awash in young, reckless, single men with a taste for wide open spaces, danger, and raw adventure”

“The only thing the government reliably provided, in its wisdom, was ammunition.”

“Many were large, physically imposing men with thick, brawny arms, long hair, and full beards. Seen from the more civilized parts of nineteenth-century America, they occupied a place in the social order just this side of brigands and desperados.”

”They had learned the fundamental lesson of plains warfare: It was either victory or death.”

Early Texans and Manifest Destiny

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“The vanguard of the America push westward were simple farmers imbued with a fierce Calvinist work ethic, steely optimism, and a cold-eyed aggressiveness that made them refuse to yield even in the face of extreme danger. They were said to fear God so much that there was no fear left over for anyone or anything else.”

“It is one of history’s great ironies that one of the main reasons Mexico had encouraged Americans to settle in Texas in the 1820s and 1830s was because they wanted a buffer against Comanches, a sort of insurance policy on their borderlands.”

“They hated Indians with a particular passion, considering them something less than fully human, and thus blessed with inalienable rights to absolutely nothing.”

“The Texans were not the Spanish of the Mexicans. They were tougher, meaner, almost impossible to discourage, willing to take absurd risks to secure themselves a plot of dirt, and temperamentally well suited to the remorseless destruction of native tribes.”

“They pushed as far into Indian country as their courage, or Indian war parties, would let them. Imagine the alternative: the U.S. government sending troops to shoot down God-fearing settlers who simply wanted a piece of the American dream. It never happened.”

Mustangs

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“When the Pueblos pushed out the Spanish from New Mexico, the horses were abandoned, thus thousands of mustangs ran wild into the open plains that closely resembled their ancestral Iberian lands. Because they were perfectly adapted to the new land, they thrived and multiplied. They became the foundation stock for the great wild mustang herds of the Southwest. The event has become known as the Great Horse Dispersal. The dissemination of so many horses to a group of thirty plains tribes permanently altered the power structure of the North American Heartland.”

Walker Colt Revolver

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“In the first phase of the Comanche wars, the Indians held all the advantages. When Texans arrived from the east, they brought with them their main firearm, the Kentucky rifle”

“No one knows exactly how these revolvers came into the hands of Jack Hays and his Rangers…the date is sometime in 1843…the same year Sam Houston disbanded the navy. The Indians now faced the prospect of being blasted from horseback by guns that never emptied; the whites could now fight entirely mounted. Colt asked Samuel Walker [a Ranger Captain], to help him with the design. The result, the Walker Colt, was one of the most effective and deadly pieces of technology ever devised… Hays had adapted a weapon no one else had wanted and had turned it into the ultimate frontier sidearm, one that soon changed the very nature of the experience of the American West.”

“Jack Hays: He was the greatest Texas Ranger, the one the Comanches feared most…It was said that before Hays, Americans came into the West on foot carrying long rifles, and that after Hays, everybody was mounted and carrying a six-shooter.”

This was a great read. Also recommended is Rebel Yell, his book on Stonewall Jackson. S.C. Gwynne does an incredible job detailing the weaponry, tactics, and geography of battlefields. When I was in Virginia I went to Manassas with his book in hand. I can’t wait to go to the Texas Panhandle with Empire of the Summer Moon.

https://www.amazon.com/Empire-Summer-Moon-Comanches-Powerful/dp/1416591060/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1471465121&sr=8-1&keywords=Empire+of+the+Summer+Moon

How to stop biting your Nails: The Rubber band Approach

 

We are what we do. For 18 years I bit my fingernails. I was anxious about stuff and to temporarily alleviate the thoughts I bit my nails. It was an anxious habit and it sucked.

I was tennis player and sometimes I couldn’t play. I would bite them during lectures in classes I knew I needed to study for. I would bite them during scary movies.

I was self conscious of it, and each year made a resolution to stop that habit. I wanted it badly enough that I stopped being comfortably numb and took action, well many actions.

I tried using nail polish, habanero hot peppers, nail strengthener; all passive methods that didn’t work for me. Then finally I tried the simple rubber band. Having a rubber band on my wrist cured me.

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This method is simple: Snap your wrist when you bite your nails.Trust me, you will become hyper aware of biting your nails very quickly.

  • Have a thicker rubber band that fits comfortably around your wrist. Carry extras.
  • When you put your fingernail to your teeth…stop yourself, take a deep breath, and don’t judge yourself or be mad
  • Lift up the rubber band and snap yourself hard enough to sting the fleshy part of your wrist. Repeat it 3 times.

The important thing is too always have it on, and snap yourself each time you begin to bite your nails. This is negative reinforcement and believe me, it works.

You might think this is masochistic. But no one ever said changing your habits was easy. But once you win this battle, you gain confidence in yourself.

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From Charles Duhigg’s book, The Power of Habit

While breaking this habit, you will recognize the common thought loops that occur before biting your nails. Biting your nails is a symptom not the cause of anxiety. To eradicate the nail biting even further, you must address the cause. Those thoughts are reminders that you haven’t taken action. So take action.

After awhile you develop a new problem. You have to learn how to clip your nails, which is pretty annoying.

Blood, Sweat and Oil; What Mud logging in the Oilfield is like

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Drillship in the distance

Extraction of volatile substances sometimes under extreme pressure in a hostile environment — means risk; accidents and tragedies occur regularly.

As a Mud logger my job is to take, describe and log the rocks and gas all the way down to TD. I also monitor the well, watching for problem indicators on our sensors. At the end of the day we produce reports for clients.

The job is sometimes hard, with long hours of dirty, sweaty work in hot cramped machine rooms. The job can also be boring, spending 10 hours staring at computer screens. I experience social isolation during the 14-28 days I am out here. But it does come with its perks.

Advantages:

The views.

Money. All food is provided, no long car commute. Pay is pretty good.

Hot showers, warm bed, laundry services, all you can eat buffets.

28 On / 14 Off Schedule. Is good for traveling.

Gym onboard, no alcohol. Can get in shape and lose weight.

Ability to read a lot. I’ve read many books while offshore.

The Oilfield Life

“It doesn’t rain in the oilfield” Applies today well. I am working the Midnight to Noon shift. It is pouring down rain and lightning is hitting around us. Still the rig crew keeps tripping out pipe.

It never stops working. These rigs go 24 hours a day 7 days a week. No holidays because it costs 1.5 million dollars per day to operate.

I work 12hr/day. My back to back, does the exact same job for the other 12 hours.

After I knock off I can play guitar, watch tv, or go to the Gym. I have been going to the gym less often this hitch because my circadian rhythm is still off.

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Sikorsky S-92 Personnel Helicopter

To get out here I take a 1 hour helicopter ride from Houma on a 20 passenger Sikorsky S-92, 20. Was exciting at first and now just monotonous. I normally just bury my head in my paper back because they don’t allow electronics.

My Drill Ship is 780ft long, 138ft wide. 10-15 floors. Built in 2014 in South Korea and cost 700 million dollars. Includes a cafeteria, helipad, 2 gyms, and a movie theater.

The global oversupply has led my company to cut around 30,000 jobs. My pay has been cut by 30%. Morale out here is pretty bad. Most of us are just happy to have jobs. People are getting laid off right and left. The training schedule has been canceled and we are all making sacrifices.

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Sunrise on the Drillship