Category Archives: Pretirement How To

How to make your own Braun shaver cleaner

Wondering how to make your own Braun shaver cleaner? Turns out it’s really easy

How to make your own Braun cleaning solution

How to make your own Braun cleaning solution — just clean out the cartridge and replace with isopropyl alcohol.

It wasn’t long after the first Earth Day in the 1970s that a nascent environmental movement began growing from a tiny group of committed citizens and started spreading into the mainstream. I was in grade school at the time and looking back it was easy to see the very early stages of environmental enlightenment seeping into our lives.

I remember stickers (stuck on everything in sight, walls, poles, bus seats, you name it) shouting “Don’t be a litterbug!” I remember some hippie visiting our classroom with her acoustic guitar and teaching us Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Rolling on the River” except the lyrics were changed to be “Rolling, rolling in pollution.” Then there was the guest speaker from the local energy company reminding us to take shorter showers. And of course our teacher spent a lot of time explaining why overpopulation was the biggest environmental problem of our generation (using math to show the compounding nature of population growth). A lot of those lessons stuck and while I don’t claim to live a sustainably perfect life, I do try to make reasonably good environmental choices.

One of the lessons that stuck with me was from a large school assembly. I think the presentation was from the local nuclear power plant (ironic given how awful nuclear power is for the planet). Anyway, the only takeaway I remember at all was that the speaker asked the audience which shaver used more resources: the electric version in his left hand or the disposable razor in his right hand.

Many of the kids shouted that the electric shaver used more resources, because it uses electricity. The speaker, enjoying tricking the kids with his question, explained that while the electric razor certainly did use power (he was from the power company after all), disposable razors had to be manufactured, wrapped, shipped, purchased then replaced. Over and over again. While I was still years away from the arrival of my first peach fuzz, I imagined a lifetime of disposable razors accumulating in a mountain behind me. It may have been one of the first moments that I became aware of the heartbreaking waste of our disposable society.

When my first soft, breezy whiskers arrived, I scraped together a few dollars and bought myself my first electric razor (like all my coming-of-age rituals, it was strictly DIY.) The tiny bits of blond hair were washed down the sink with the rest of my childhood. I used that trusty razor right up until the day I caught my stepmom using it on her nasty legs. (Ew)

In the decades since that horrible image was burned into my eyes like white fire, I’ve only owned maybe three or four other razors. I have never shaved with a blade. My current electric razor is just a few years old. Unfortunately in recent years I’m either seeing a sharp downturn in product quality or an increase in stubble strength as I reach middle age. Probably both.

On the other hand, one of the innovations I really like has been the advent of built-in cleaning mechanisms so your razor stays clean and sharp and ready to go. Before the self-cleaning versions came out, you had to delicately clean the cutter with a little brush and it never really got as clean as you’d want. Now you click a button and the next day, voila! clean razor! My current one is an older version of the Braun Series 5.

There is a problem, though. In the business world, there’s a famous saying that the money is in the blades, not the razor. It’s the classic replenishment business model. Printer ink is another great example. Give the razor (or printer) away for cheap and people will pay a lot more for the blades (or ink). Braun sells replacement cartridge refills but here we are again on the replenishment treadmill again! The price has really come down on these lately so it’s not as annoying as it used to be, but still! Plus here we are again with more plastic for the landfill.

The design of the Braun is also very annoying because the cleaning solution isn’t used up in the cleaning process. Most of it just evaporates! I tried putting the little cover over the cartridge holes but it basically had no effect on evaporation unless I sealed it on tight, which is not practical on a daily basis. (I’d say a cartridge maybe lasts two months when used normally.)

So I wondered: How can you make your own Braun shaver cleaner? Was there a way to hack my Braun to give me the sweet cleaning power I desire without the waste of buying replacement cartridges all the time? I looked around for bulk cleaning solution, but didn’t find much out there. I did find this Sandalwood Tree Cleaner that I have not yet tried, but may in the future just to see if I like it. But surprisingly the choices were pretty scarce.

I did finally try a solution that has been working well so far. It was simple and I’m very happy so far. Here’s what you do:

Once the razor solution is too low to do any cleaning, dump it out in the sink and rinse out the container as best you can. It doesn’t need to be completely spotless.

Then refill the container with Isopropyl Alcohol, inexpensive and available at any drugstore. I don’t know if the percentage makes a difference. I used 91 percent since that’s what we already had on-hand. I imagine the lower percentages might be gentler on the shaver. Don’t fill it up to the brim. Just fill it as full as the new ones, about two-thirds of the way full. Put the cartridge back into the device and you’re ready to clean. It does smell like rubbing alcohol but not so much that it’s overpowering. Adding some lemon essential oil would probably help, but I haven’t tried that so far either. The cleaning solution you buy also supposedly lubricates your shaver, which could be a problem long-term, but so far I haven’t noticed any difference. I may buy one new cartridge a year or so just so I can occasionally start with a clean one (it’s impossible to get all the hair trimmings out of a used cartridge). That might help if I did need some lubrication help. If it becomes a problem, I might add a little baby oil in as well to see if that makes a difference, but so far so good.

Before I tried my new homemade Braun shaver cleaner, I was thinking I was probably due for a new cutting head because the razor just wasn’t getting the job done. After enjoying a nice, crisp shave with this cheap solution, I think my cutting head is fine for awhile longer. So far I’m saving a little bit of money and the mountain of plastic behind me will be a little smaller because of it. And that alone makes it all worth it!

UPDATE 2/13/14: I founds some essential oil around the house so I dropped 3 or 4 drops into my reservoir to see what happened. OMG, it was the final piece! The Braun razor ran much smoother and was less abrasive on my skin. I’d say this mixture is AT LEAST as good as the store-bought version now! 

Disclaimer: Alcohol is flammable. Be careful when refilling and using this technique. Also, I’m sure Braun does not recommend using anything but their own solution. You could severely damage your razor by using a product other than what the manufacturer recommends. Try it at your own risk. Also, links in this post are affiliate links so I may get a few pennies if you make a purchase.

How many times have you blown $1,000?

Ever wondered how many times in your life you’ve blown $1,000?

$1,000 x 300 = $300,000

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of graur razvan ionut / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In past posts, I’ve noted a few of my focus numbers for pretirement. For example I’ve targeted a goal of around $300,000 (plus paid-off mortgage) as my freedom number. (Think $600,000 for a couple.) I’ve also remarked on how many households pin their core monthly non-mortgage expenses at around $2,000 per month ($1,000 per person). This includes my own.

So if you’ve been aggressive and paid off your mortgage in record time, you are likely looking at monthly core expenses near that magical $2,000/month (for two people). And, of course, if that seems insane, you’ll probably want to examine your spending rates. However, if we accept that number, then we can safely say your Pretirement Fund number is probably somewhere around $300,000 for each person. It might be a little higher or a little lower based on your personal investment yield, taxes and other factors, but just to keep things simple, we’ll use round numbers for now.

In my own situation, I’m a little shy of that number, which is why I’m only semi-pretired today. I have too much net worth locked up in my house and, of course, made many dumb investing and spending mistakes over the years.

Which begs the question: How many times have I blown $1,000? It’s an important, but troubling question. Have I done it 300 times? More? It makes me want to go back and slap earlier me across the face.

Let’s take a look: (Making guesses at the exact amount in most cases.)

Over-improved my first home$30,000+30
Luxurious vacations over the past 20 years (At least $3,000/year on average)$60,000+60
Bought new car (Stupid, stupid)$40,000+40
Eating out (Maybe $40/week on average for the last 10 years)$20,000+20
Over-improving current house$30,000+30
Various electronics over past few years$15,000+15
Furniture purchases$10,000+10
Random other crap$20,000+20
TOTAL$225,000225

So because I’m Pretired Nick, you might assume I’m some sort of Frugality Ninja (hey, good URL, someone should snag that!). But, really, I’ve been just as much as a big American spender as anyone else. OK, maybe not as much as most people, but still pretty bad. But I’m not here to shame myself before all of you, but rather to show HOW EASY it is to reach pretirement by doing nothing more than staying employed and cutting back on the spending.

$100 x 10 = $1,000

So you don’t think you’ve blown $1,000 all that many times? Let’s break it down: how many times have you blown $100? Dropping a hundo is easy. I sneeze a hundred bucks into a tissue just about every week! My numbers above are definitely under-counting the drip by drip of small purchases. Gas for the car, art, gifts, new shoes I didn’t really need, tools purchased unnecessarily and so on.

Have you dropped $100 just 10 times in the past year? Month? If you dropped $100 per week, that’s $5,200 each year. Doesn’t sound like that much money until you realize that’s five $1,000 bills that could have gone toward your pretirement fund — nearly 2 percent of what you needed right there!

I listed out just my big, memorable purchases above totaling to $225,000. If I had cut back just by $100 per week on average for the past 15 years (something that would have been very easy for me at various times), I’d have more than the remaining $75,000 needed to reach my Pretirement Fund goal.

$30,000 x 10 = $300,000

Or to frame things in terms of time, let’s say you’ve realized 40 years in a cubicle isn’t for you and you’d like to tough it out through 10 more years of your career and then be done. You’d need $30,000/year ($2,500/month) for each of those years on average (again, ignoring your mortgage and growth on the money).

But $2,500 a month seems like an impossible amount to put aside month after month! The thing is, many households have monthly budgets of $6,000-$8,000 or even more. Obviously housing costs are by far the biggest drag on people, but it’s also TVs, vacations, clothing, random plastic crap, lattes and car expenses.

I realize it’s too late for many of us. We can’t go back and add many years of savings to our lives. But like the Chinese proverb says: There are only two times to plant a tree — 20 years ago and today. Regardless of where you’re starting, build a spreadsheet, decide on your goals and build a plan to get there.

$100,000 x 3 = $300,000

It always comes back to real estate with me. Like I have mentioned many times, we really have more house than we should have given our goals. Should we choose to downsize — something we’re seriously considering — that should free up at least $100,000 that I can put toward my Pretirement Fund, putting me over the top! Or I could work a couple more years and save that up quickly given that I have very low expenses.

Which way will we end up going? We really have no idea at this point. But you’ll be the first to know as we wrestle with this final step toward pretirement right here in front of all of you!

Hopefully the math lesson wasn’t too silly for everyone. The point isn’t to teach my readers basic division and multiplication, but simply to remind that breaking big problems into smaller problems always makes things easier and that small spending, even $1,000 here or there, can really add up and keep you working much longer than you want. I’m living proof on both the negative and positive sides of that equation.

So what do you think? Does breaking your goals into bite-sized chunks help you get there? And how many times do you think you’ve blown $1,000? 

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Great cities — a forgotten key to your pretirement

Lovely Vancouver, BC -- photo from a recent trip. If you're looking for great cities, you can't do much better than Vancouver.

Lovely Vancouver, BC — photo from a recent trip. If you’re looking for great cities, you can’t do much better than Vancouver.

As infants we begin with barely a dim awareness of our surroundings. Eventually that blurry upward view of crib rails and ceiling lights turns into faces and walls. Shapes, colors, figures. Next an awareness that this is MY room. Then MY house.

We get older and learn to recognize our own street. We become familiar with our own schools and eventually our own neighborhoods and cities.

Some of us move away from these first towns and make our own homes elsewhere. A very small subset of the population identify specific criteria for the place they want to live and seek out that perfect place. Most of us, however, stay near where we grew up or move for employment.

Here’s the thing, though: For those in already pretired or driving toward pretirement, the city where you choose to settle matters. A lot. And, yet, it’s one of the most ignored keys to finding your freedom.

I think we tend to ignore this because it feels intractable. Maybe we don’t want to move away from family. We already own a home here. All our friends are here. I could ridicule each of those as excuses, but they’re actually all really great reasons to stay put.

But as I’ve said many times, pretirement calls for sacrifices. Even if you made a high salary, saved a massive percentage of it, and theoretically could pretire comfortably, it’s all for naught if you are set on living somewhere extremely expensive, such as Manhattan. It’s not just the expense of your home. Cities themselves have widely varying costs.

And it goes beyond cost as well. What’s the point of living inexpensively if you have to dodge bullets every day? Or have to breathe polluted air and drink polluted water?

What makes great cities great?

It’s impossible to make a comprehensive list of what makes a city great. But I’ll share a few things that top my list of things I find in most great cities. Feel free to add your own in the comments. It’s a topic I’m very passionate about, so the more ideas we can collect, the better.

Safety

I guess this one is obvious since it’s so fundamental to a place not sucking. But it’s not a binary element. You’re not “safe” or “not safe”. You’re more or less safe. And that can vary quite a bit even by neighborhood. Unfortunately there is some correlation (somewhat overblown, however) between the cost of an area and how safe it is. Because you’ll want to be living a low-overhead lifestyle AND be as safe as possible, it’s something of a balance. The way I look at it is there should be a reasonable level of safety and once that’s met, I’ll just move on to other factors. Besides you probably have about the same odds of being flattened by a latte-slurping soccer mom in her SUV as you are to get mugged in most cities.

Affordability

I won’t dwell on this because it’s somewhat obvious, but the cost of living and especially the cost of real estate is a key determining factor. This can be tough, though, because there’s a conundrum at work here: When a place is nice, rich people want to live there and thus drive up prices. If an area is a craphole, the people who can move away do so and you get self-selecting conditions for blight. Cities struggle with this all the time when they try to keep housing affordable. They allow cheaper construction and the area turns into a ghetto and they end up paying a fortune for police service and basic public safety. They make an area nicer and wealthier people move in and drive out the original residents. But if you’re pretired, you may be able to live farther from job centers and thus be able to keep your housing costs low while still enjoying a great area.

Walkability

This one is so often overlooked but it’s so important in allowing you to drop your car expenses. If you and your spouse no longer need to commute, you might be able to drop down to one or even zero cars. Plus you’ll enjoy your lifestyle more than ever as you don’t have to get in the car to go anywhere. Another thing to think about is your transition into traditional retirement, or to be blunt, think about when you’re old. Driving is difficult and scary for seniors. Build yourself a lifestyle now that takes that strain off your future self.

Transit

I’m a huge public transportation fan. Unfortunately I live in one of the worst cities for getting around without a car. Here in Seattle, they’ve had many opportunities to build robust transit systems and they’ve been voted down repeatedly by short-sighted voters. It’s surprising given how liberal we are here. It’s only been in recent years — decades after nearly every other major city has deployed at least a light rail system — that we’ve taken the plunge. Our bus system is OK, but depending on where you live and where you need to go, it could double your travel time. It was disheartening returning to Seattle from a trip to Tokyo a few years ago. Their system is mind-meltingly awesome and to step off the plane in Seattle to our rinky-dink system was just pathetic.

Bicycle friendliness

A Barcelona bike path. Note the grade separation from walking path to bike path to roadway. Picture taken from upper deck of tour bus. Also note the entrance to the underground subway.

A Barcelona bike path. Note the grade separation from walking path to bike path to roadway. Picture taken from upper deck of tour bus. Also note the entrance to the underground subway.

Bicycling is by far the most efficient way to travel short distances but so many cities and towns make this so difficult. Seattle has been improving its bicycle infrastructure in recent years, but I’ll be honest: it’s still ridiculously bad to the point where I do not feel it’s safe. A bicyclist dies here every couple months and our city leaders are still thrashing around and throwing tons of money at the car culture still. On top of the safety issue, we are renowned for our many steep hills. I’ve actually never seen a bike going up the hill I live on, although we see bikes going down quite often. The best way to end up in a bicycle friendly town currently is to move out of the U.S. or to a smaller town. Hopefully in a few years that changes drastically.

Take a look at my picture of the bicycle lanes from my recent trip to Barcelona. Cars, separated from buses, separated from grade-separated bike lanes, separated from a lovely walking path. Brilliant and simple. (And they have a wonderful underground subway system.) Contrast that to here where you’re lucky if you find a crosswalk that still has some paint on the road.

Cleanliness

We all like a clean city, but this goes beyond where there is litter blowing down the sidewalk (important as that is). Cleanliness extends to things like the air you breathe or the water you drink. It’s important to think about the long-term risks to your air and water. Are they fracking near your home? Are there coal-burning plants nearby? How clean is the water in your area? This is important not only for enjoying the many, many years of awesome life you have in front of you, but also for ensuring your health. What’s the point of living an amazing life of pretirement if you end up hobbled with chronic illness?

There’s another important point to finding an unpolluted city: Your home value. Those homes that had their wells poisoned by fracking are now valueless. Those people who thought they were being so clever by leasing some land to natural gas companies have wound up trapped in a house they can’t sell, suffering from devastating illness. It may not be as dramatic, though. Just in general, a rundown, dirty or polluted neighborhood can mean lower equity growth and a harder-to-sell property.

Weather

I used to always say that if I ever moved again, I wanted an upgrade from Seattle’s dreary weather. That’s actually becoming less important to me in recent years, although I still often long to live somewhere with more sun. As a native Washingtonian with webbed feet, however, I’m finding it harder to deal with the heat than the cold. Although I still hate being cold. Probably I’d adjust after a few months somewhere warmer and that’d probably be good for my overall health. The important point, though, is that I’m not moving somewhere where the weather sucks just because it’s cheaper. Nasty muggy summers and frigid snowy winters? No thanks! I do like the weather in many parts of California, for example. In Northern California, the weather is quite temperate and when I lived there I rarely remember being either too hot or too cold. That could be why it’s so overpopulated, though.

Infrastructure

What do I mean by infrastructure? I’m not necessarily referring to the classic governmental meaning or roads and bridges. Rather, I’m talking about the various functions that support your lifestyle. For example, transportation, medical facilities (you may not want to be too far from a hospital for instance), grocery stores or anything else you might need. This is probably the main reason I’ll likely stay within or near a reasonably large city instead of moving to a rural location. I once considered moving out to the country but I imagined rushing to a hospital an hour away in case of an accident, and the move just didn’t seem too wise. Add to that the need to drive nearly everywhere and country living just wasn’t as inexpensive as it first appeared. So I’m focused now mostly on medium- to small-sized cities.

Open space

Humans have a very real need to be outside. Beyond fresh air and exercise, there is something in us that needs the natural world to keep us functional. I think it’s safe to say that someone who is outside in nature every single day is highly unlikely to suffer from depression. Open spaces act as the lungs for cities clearing the air and softening the landscape. We have some great in-city areas here in Seattle, where you almost forget you’re in a city. And we can be deep in the mountains within a 30 minute drive. From an open space perspective, Seattle is hard to beat.

Culture

If your local town looks like a Long John Silver’s raped a Wendy’s it may be time to re-evaluate your life choices. Car-oriented, strip mall development is extremely hard on the psyche and is a very expensive way to live, especially if you’re still commuting to work. This cheap development also leads to a cultural desert, where there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go. Contrast that with a similarly-sized city with a cute downtown area, parks and open space. You’ll find charming restaurants opening in such an area, art galleries, plus many free entertainment options will sprout up in the shadow of the trees. You might say work and money are HOW we live, but culture and family are WHY we live. Don’t overlook it.

Aesthetic beauty

Not everyone will agree this is important, but to me it’s critical. Something about my temperament demands I live without being visually assaulted by atrocious surroundings. I paid way too much for my current house because I (thought I) needed to see the shimmering Puget Sound every day. Not unlike the importance of culture, living in a beautiful place brings a lot of light into your life and will make all those pretirement years that much more enjoyable.

I could probably come up with another 50 important things, but I’d rather hear from you about what you look for in a place to live. What am I missing? I’d really like to have a robust list of criteria because if and when I decided to move to a different locale, I want to make sure I approach my choice intelligently.

Let me know what you think in the comments! 

What is the best way to invest $100,000?

What would you do if someone handed you $100,000?
Do you think you know the best way to invest this money?

money3Americans have a unique challenge in life and have developed an adaptive skill that people from many other countries can barely even conceptualize. Although it’s a very real problem for we Americans, in many parts of the world they’d give almost anything to have this problem.

The problem: Too much choice.

The other day I spent 30 minutes looking around on Netflix for the movie that was an exact fit for my mood at that exact moment. We walk into our grocery stores and have to apply our well-honed, complex analytical skills to decide which cheese to purchase. Want cereal? Flakes or biscuit? Sweet or savory? Real sugar or HFCS? Should my eggs be cage-free or vegetarian fed? Both? But those are $6! Time to paint the living room? Choose from 10,000 unique shades of light brown! Whatever the choice of the moment might be, we in America spend a lot of our time wading through various buying choices and these choices are a reflection of our person and a projection of our aspirations.

I would flip through catalogs and wonder, “What kind of dining set defines me as a person?”
-Jack, Fight Club

If you’ve ever seen a recent immigrant shopping in an American supermarket, it can be fascinating. Often it’ll take them forever to make a decision as they carefully wade into this sea of decision-making. Those of us who have been running this gauntlet for some time now have built up resistance to the sensory overload that is a modern store. We can usually zip through using well-tread criteria and remain unscathed.

When it comes to deciding the best way to invest, it’s not always so easy

Since I recently sold my fourplex, I now have some investment funds to redeploy. After cleaning up some other financial loose ends, I’ll have about $100,000 to invest elsewhere. Getting to this point was easy compared to the next step of actually pulling the trigger. (Incidentally, the first step in getting organized in investing is to sign up for a free account with Personal Capital so you can get a handle on your current situation. You can learn more here.)

Like a freshly arrived Somalian’s first visit to a Seattle Safeway, I’ll admit to being somewhat overwhelmed by my options. So I turn to you, readers, to help me out. What’s your advice for someone with a chunk of change in his pocket?

I’ve been considering a few different options over the past few years I’ve been trying to sell the fourplex. Many of them I was completely ready to move on at various points but since I couldn’t access the funds, they never happened. Some of those ideas have been completely dismissed while others are still being considered.

A few of my favorites:

Is more real estate the best way to invest this money?

Real estate is like a drug, and I’m hopelessly addicted. I love how it’s in my control (mostly) and I love how it’s tangible. With my own effort, I can enhance a property to increase its value. During the depth of the real estate crash, I was licking my chops at some very underpriced single-family homes, particularly in the city of my birth, Vancouver, Wash. Check out the inventory! There are a ton of decent houses available for less than $200,000 right now. Using my funds and tapping our home’s HELOC fund, I could pay cash* for one of these babies. Hard to resist! Rents in that area are pretty low, at maybe $1,200/month for something pretty nice. I could basically earn a 5%+ yield (although surprises always await with real estate!) and potentially also get some additional gain from equity growth as the market improves in that area.

(Interesting side note about this area: A few months back I was looking at what kind of inventory was available and I noticed almost every listing’s status was “short sale pending”. Page after page of listings. Then I read about how companies like the Blackstone Group were buying in big to the single family housing market and renting the homes out. I’m pretty sure these big investment firms were single-handedly driving up the prices. If I could have sold my plex a couple years ago and pounced, I could have already made well over $100,000 down there.)

So if I get lucky, I could earn something close to what I could earn investing more traditionally PLUS there is the potential to hit another jackpot. If the economy got quite hot in the Portland-Vancouver area, a price increase of $50,000 to $100,000 isn’t out of the question. But if the economy was doing that well, a stock market investment could do quite well also.

On the other hand, if I get unlucky, just a few repairs could wipe out every year’s income. Or, even worse, I could get dragged into negativeland and would need to cough up cash to support the endeavor. Additionally, the sporadic, unreliable income is what made rentals so unappealing with my fourplex. If I’m only going to earn 5% or less, I’d better not have to take a bunch of annoying phone calls to get it.

If I went this route, I’d plan to hold for three years minimum, and hopefully five years maximum.  Hmmm…

What about REITs?

Instead of buying real estate that I have to personally deal with, buying Real Estate Investment Trust funds might be the best way to invest this money. These funds let you be invested in real estate and as an investor with others instead of holding the bag all by your lonesome. I have a few REITs already but hadn’t bought in further because I was already so deep in real estate. I’m still considering this direction.

Why not just buy individual Dividend stocks?

If you read my post on Dividend Mapping, you know I’m somewhat entranced by dividend stock investing. Yes, like any investment it carries some risk and has its own share of pros and cons. My favorite things about dividend stocks are that they’ll continue paying as normal whether the price goes up or down. From an income standpoint, it’s a little more “controlled” in the sense that the dividends drip in like clockwork, helping me avoid some of the wild swings of real estate. That stability alone is worth something to me after dealing with the roller coaster of real estate income over the past decade.

I’ve done a bit of looking around at what individual stocks I could pick up, in a modified version of Dividend Mapping. Really it’s closer to creating my own mini mutual funds. I’m pretty happy with my selections so far. I found some stocks that I wouldn’t have otherwise noticed that I really like. So why not just buy in? Well, my track record of buying anything outside of a fund is atrocious. You know how it always rains after you wash your car? That’s how it is with me and stocks. I used to joke to my friends that they’d better sell because I was buying in, thereby guaranteeing a drop. Yes, it’s been that bad. So that eats at me when I consider pulling the trigger.

Could a good ol’ fashioned Vanguard fund be the best way to invest?

In what is probably the simplest approach, I could just buy into one or more Vanguard funds, such as the Total Stock Market Index (VTSMX). They are tried and true and in some ways this would be the lowest risk approach. They also have some managed payout funds that I haven’t really looked into yet. Probably the smartest thing to do from a traditional investing perspective would be the classic combination of total stock market, bonds, some international, etc. to provide the diversity needed down the line.

So on the plus side, there are solid, relatively safe investments available. On the negative side, I’ve felt like we’re overdue for a market correction and buying in now would almost guarantee it! If the market took a fairly big dip, that would certainly make my decision easier.

How about a combo platter?

Naturally combining several different approaches is often the best way to go. It gives you good solid diversity and also lets you catch a wave if a particular sector takes off. But what combination?

I could also dollar-cost-average my way in to some of these choices to protect myself from a sudden drop, but that entails leaving a big sum of money uninvested.

So how do I decide on the best way to invest this money?

I’ve (obviously) never been a very skillful investor. I did well investing in myself (education and career learning) and I got lucky more than once. My lack of confidence in market investing pushed me toward real estate and I was fortunate that my timing coincided with a low interest rate era that caused a big housing spike.

The interesting thing about my current conundrum is that had I received the same amount of money over a number of years, it would be much easier to decide where to put it. It’s the Power of the Chunk in action! Get a big chunk all at once, the stakes immediately seem much higher! Taking a big hit in the market would hurt much more after dropping in a big sum of money than it would before I was using it as income and when it was just a collection of smaller investments (if you follow me).

So here I am, looking at my various options, thinking about what to do next. I can tend to be an over-analyzer and the waiting carries its own danger as well. I’ll be sure to let you know what I decide!

What do you think? What is the best way to invest $100,000? What would you do if someone stopped by your house and handed you a check for $100,000?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if anyone wants to write a guest post on this topic, send me a note through the contact form. I think it’d be great to have a few different voices weigh in on this topic. 

*Paying cash isn’t my first choice, but last time I checked, the credit market was so tight that getting a loan was near impossible even though I wouldn’t be using my income from working to pay for it even if I had a job. It might be possible these days, but I haven’t looked into it. 

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