Kibanda Part 5: Pretty, and pretty much done

Kibanda plaque by Lysh @ Rustic  Ludlow

This post has been on the back burner for months now. My apologies to those of you who have been asking for a Kibanda update. Your patience is rewarded.

For those of you who wonder why these damn Kibanda posts even appear on what is (mostly) a financial/investing site, your patience will also be rewarded. Coming soon is an updated version of the now classic 2011 post What we own and why we own it. Should be fun to see what has changed.

There is at least some benefit to my procrastination: There is more to report and that is that most of the work is done.

The House

From the Road

From the Lake

In the last 12 months we have…

…replaced the roofs on the house, shed and garage, added central AC, updated the plumbing and electric, gutted and remodeled one of the bathrooms (turned out great and under budget!), removed some dangerous trees, painted the interior, replaced the carpet in the living room and had the bedroom carpets shampooed (they came up a treat — we should have just shampooed the living room one too), replaced the decaying parquet floor in the hall with tiles that look like old barn wood (used the same in the bath remodel), scraped and repainted the flaking decks along with the floor in the screened porch, replaced the canvas roof on that porch and rebuilt the north wall foundation.

In addition to that rather extensive list, there have been countless little things like adding lights to the closets and under the kitchen cabinets.

When all the work gets overwhelming, this reminds me of why we’re doing it…

But mostly the process has been better than expected. We diligently looked for and were fortunate to find a jewel of a handyman/contractor who has kept it affordable, mostly under budget and a pleasure to plan and execute.

The North Foundation Wall

The rebuilding of the the north wall foundation is a striking example and worth a bit more comment.

When we looked at this cottage, the previous owners provided an estimate from an engineering company to correct the problem. This part of the foundation had been added to provide basement space (the rest of the place is on crawlspace and slab) for the mechanical systems when it was changed from a 3-season shack to a 4-season, well, shack. They built the foundation out of wood.

Our best guess is this was done sometime around the mid-1980s. Over the last 40 years or so, the pressure of the outside soil had begun to push in the wooden foundation wall. The engineering company’s solution was to jack up the house, tear it all out and replace it with a new, solid, masonry foundation.

It would have been spectacular. It very likely would still be there 20,000 years from now when the archeologists dig it back up conclusively proving primitive humans once lived there. It also would have cost $25,000.

Our jewel of a handyman/contractor had a different idea.

One Saturday he and his teenage son came over, dug it out by hand (no room to get equipment back there), rebuilt the wood foundation and filled the sand back in. For $500. Since the last wood wall lasted ~40 years, this should easily last at least 20. At which time I’ll very likely be dead and new owners will be tearing the place down to build their dream home.

The only things left to replace are the vinyl floor and the sink in the kitchen. Neither really “need” to be done. But we love the way the barn wood-look hall floors turned out and, when you have a jewel of a handyman/contractor, you find yourself looking for more stuff to do.

The Loft

This past spring we also turned our attention to the seasonal guest loft over the garage…

Loft Deck

View from the Loft Deck

This is, to my eye, a delightfully charming space with a cathedral ceiling, open plan, small kitchen and full bath. But, because it is not fully insulated, it must be closed up with the water turned off each winter.

Our initial thought was to gut the place and fully insulate it, making it 4-season and potentially spectacular. But getting it sealed up tightly enough would be a very expensive proposition and really not worth doing for a space we will be using for guests, most of whom will be sensible enough to visit when the weather is fine.

While the water must be shut off before the winter freeze each year, we knew it had been several years since it had be on and the loft space used. So we couldn’t be sure turning it off for winter was the only reason.

Our plumber warned us that turning it back on would require care and had the potential for very bad things to happen. Care was taken. Water flowed. Nothing bad happened. Our streak of the surprises being pleasant ones continued: The benefit of pessimistic planning.

Once we knew we had water, we decided to hold off on a major redo and just spruce the place up. We replaced the rather nasty toilet, added a ceiling fan and new baseboard heaters, and fixed a bunch of little stuff. Gave it a good cleaning, finished off with shampooing the carpet.

Next spring we’ll revisit our ideas on it and decide if we want to redo the bath and/or the living space.

Running the numbers

So far, all this work on the house has run ~$26,000. While most of that can be considered improvements, some portion would be more accurately described as normal on-going maintenance and repair. However, separating the two is more effort than it is worth for 2017-18. 

Instead, I have chosen to add this lump sum to the $235,000 purchase price. Beginning in 2019, other than something major like a septic system, I’ll list most things as normal on-going maintenance and repair. They will be a line item and totaled as part of the annual cost of owning the house.

For now, we add the $26,000 and the $235,000 for a total of $261,000 tied up in the house.

Using the method described in this post, the cost of Kibanda looks like this:

  • $10,440 — opportunity cost (261k x 4%)
  • $ 5,870 — Real Estate tax
  •            0 — Maintenance & repair
  • $16,310 — Total
  • $21,600 — Apartment rent @ $1800 per month
  • $5290 — How much less the house is than the apartment.

Of course, going forward that maintenance and repair line won’t be zero. To see what that might look like, we can take what we have spent so far in 2018, ~$5000, remove it from the 26k in improvements and instead put it as M&R. Then the numbers look like this:

  • $10,240 — opportunity cost (235k + 21k = 256k x 4%)
  • $ 5,870 — Real Estate tax
  • $ 5,000 — Maintenance & repair
  • $21,110 — Total
  • $21,600 — Apartment rent @ $1800 per month
  • $     490 — How much less the house is than the apartment.

That makes it a much closer horse race. Then again, given the money spent sorting the place out, on-going maintenance and repair is unlikely to run as high as $5000 per year. At least for the next few years.

So far I feel comfortable in saying the house should cost us no more than the apartment. Given that we get to live on this beautiful beach, I’ll take that as a win.

At least as long as the Swords of Damocles continue to hang by their threads.

My favorite Kibanda picture so far, just to break up this long wordy part

The Swords of Damocles

All that said, if you’ve read the first three installments of this saga, you know it is not as simple as all that. There is a reason we got such a screaming deal on the place. All the other buyers took a look and ran screaming for the exits.

This is because, in owning this little slice of heaven, we have three Swords of Damocles hanging by their slender threads over our heads.

Sword #1: The foundation

While the north wall foundation issue has been resolved, it was only one of three.

The second is, that when this place was built in 1939, the foundation was not sunk deep enough to meet current standards. While this will always be a scarlet letter on this place when it comes time to sell, the fact is that it has held up just fine for 79 years. Add to that the enormous cost to correct it and we have a classic “let’s just live with it” situation.

The third issue is a bit more concerning. Built in 1939 as a three season cottage, it had no heating system. That was added later. How much later is not precisely clear. However, a receipt for the furnace that was installed in 2000 specifies that it will be connected to the existing ductwork. That implies that it was a replacement for an existing furnace. If we assume that the existing furnace had lasted for 20 years, that suggests that heating was first added by 1980. Maybe even earlier.

If that is true, then the ductwork has been in place for almost 40 years. Maybe more.

That is important because, when the ductwork was installed, they whacked big chucks out of the support beams to run it. Yeah, it dumbfounds me too.

Not surprisingly, the floors sagged and are to this day uneven. At first it is like walking on the deck of a ship.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that various jacks and supports are scattered about the crawlspace and, as far as my jewel of a handyman/contractor can tell, these seem to be holding things in place. Plus, in the year we have been here, we haven’t noticed any change.

So, again, our plan is to keep watch, live with it and hope the place doesn’t collapse into the crawlspace.

Sword #2: The buried well

Originally this was a one-bedroom cottage. Somewhere along the line, someone had the wonderful idea of adding a second bedroom. Great for us, as we wanted two bedrooms. Unfortunately, they built it over the well.

Thoughtfully, they built a trapdoor to provide access and this is fine as long as the well only needs routine maintenance. Plus, being so close to the lake, the water table is high and wells hit water almost immediately. Still, if something major happens and major access is needed…

…well (pun!), there is always a solution. I just shudder as to what it might be and what it might cost.

Sword #3: The septic system

Of the three swords, this one hangs by the thinnest thread.

When the tank was last pumped in 2016, it was reported to the county as “deteriorating.” The county, in turn, sent the owners a letter saying, in effect, “we are not requiring you to do anything just now but the time is near.” Those owners, our sellers, were kind enough to include this letter with the sales materials. So we knew going in.

Once in, we had a septic guy come out a look at it.

“What do you think,” I said.

“It’s deteriorating,” says he.

“So it needs to be replaced?”

“It ain’t broke. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

“How long will it last?”

“Hard to say. Could go another ten years. Could collapse tomorrow.”

“What will it cost to replace?”

“At today’s prices, about $15,000.”

With this reply I am doing a dance of joy. I had figured it would run 15-25k and need to be done immediately. Of course my face remains somber. My dance of joy is internal.

But, as there always is, there is a catch. Because we are close to the lake, environmental laws have changed and our lot is small, it is possible we won’t be allowed to replace it at all. The alternative, in that case, is an ugly one.

Instead of a septic system that disperses the liquids leaving only the solids to be pumped every few years, we’d be stuck with a tank system. That is a tank that collects everything and that must be pumped every week or so depending on how much water you use.

So, the septic system remains the most immediate wild card. For now, we treat it gently and hope for the best.

The fates have been generous thus far, but they have those three swords in hand ready to ruin my day on a whim. When the cold sweat starts out on my clammy skin, I look out at this…

…and am reminded, “Oh, that’s why.”

What could go horribly wrong

A year ago I would have expected this section to be much longer. Sitting here today, I’m feeling pretty good about it.

I suppose something major not accounted for could crop up but, after a year of living here and all the workers who have crawled in and around it, at this point it is hard to see what that might be.

Based on that, the worst case is that in short order the septic system fails, the well needs to be re-drilled and the second bedroom torn down to access it, and the rest of the house collapses into the crawl space.


In that case, the place would need to be scraped.

But as bad as that would be, there is one major advantage this property has. Most of the value in not in the house. It is in the lakefront lot.

It would cost ~$20,000 to tear the place down. Add that to the 235k we paid and the 26k we put into it, the total cost would be 281k. The lot itself, shorn of this house that raises some major red flags to buyers, would be worth at least 225k. Maybe as much as 250k. An empty lakefront lot is rare and very appealing to those looking to build from scratch. And this is an especially lovely lot.

So, worst case, we’d be out ~56k. Perhaps as little as 31k or less depending on the market. Certainly not a happy day, but at this point in our lives a fairly minor bump.

This, and not having to pay 25k for a foundation wall done “right,” is the advantage of a beach shack.

The plan going forward

All of this is presented as if this is going to be our permanent, full-time home and, of course, it is not.

Now that we have the place mostly sorted, we are looking toward resuming the nomadic life it interrupted. Longtime readers will recall we have been coming to this area each year for the last 15, each time staying in my in-laws’ beach house for about a month. But we wanted more.

The plan now is that we will spend two months in the spring and two months in the fall, our two favorite seasons here at Kibanda. The weather is mild and there are few people.

During the summer we’ll Airbnb the main house when the prices and demand are high. Our new friends along the beach who Airbnb theirs, tell us we can expect $2500 a week over the 15 week season. Even after deducting operating costs, that’s a nice chunk of other expense-covering change.

We’ll close it up for the winter.

We’ll travel for those two 4-month periods.

As for the loft, we are debating on what to do. For now we are planning to use it for friends when they visit. We might also rent it for a few days at a time or even as a writer/artist retreat for the season or for a few weeks at a time. The guy who does our tree work has already asked if, instead of payment, he could bring his girlfriend for a weekend. As I like him, done deal!


Whoever comes to visit, will get to sleep on a Tuft & Needle Mattress.

These are the guys I raved about in this post, back when they first became an affiliate. When they disbanded their affiliate program a couple of years ago, I offered them the banner ad at the top of each page here on the blog. This means they now pay a flat monthly fee and the blog no longer earns a commission if you choose to buy from them.

I genuinely love this company and the ethical way they do business. Check out the comments in that post to get an idea of what I mean.

So when we came to Kibanda last fall, the first thing we did was to order two queen mattresses; one for each bedroom in the main house. T&N being T&N, the mattresses arrived promptly. Unfortunately, the place from where we ordered the new bed frames took forever. But that’s a story for another day.

With the loft done, we just moved our bed up to it in preparation for our first guest, Connie, a Chautauqua alum who arrives this week. We are back to sleeping on our trusty air mattress and need a third bed.

The cool news is that T&N now offers a walnut bed frame and it looks gorgeous…

They are also offering a new version of their mattress called Mint. We’ve ordered both and can’t wait to try them.

After we’ve lived with the Mint mattress and Walnut frame for a while, I’ll post a review and tell you what I think. If you don’t want to wait, given T&N’s exceptional customer care, you can probably just do what I did and order yours now.

For now…

With the work mostly done, all that remains is to kick back, relish the view, walk the beach and watch the hummingbirds and butterflies flit about the garden. And trust in those slender threads holding up the swords.


I’ve joked that we bought Kibanda because I needed more aggravation in my life. Turns out, that’s a real thing:

The case against optimization


Some of these were shared at the end of my post on Optimism. Worth sharing again, I think:

Interview with George Church on BioEngineering, an amazing discussion of human genomics, bringing back Wooly Mammoths (and why that would be great for the environment) and aging reversal (and why it is better than life extension).

More reasons why the future might be incredibly good

(Unless the grey goo gets us)

50 Ways the World is getting Better

David and Elena

******************************************************How to think more clearly and

why the world is not the way you probably think it is.


My pal Bill read the first three points of this article and then paused to send it to me:

The Psychology of Money


On a different note, another great post:

Here’s to all the girls who’d rather catch flights than feelings

And from the always entertaining and insightful Millennial Revolution:

How to deal with Trolls

My friend Akaisha has spent the last couple of decades roaming the world. She’s learned a thing or two about lightening the load. Here’s some wisdom she gleaned over coffee in a cafe somewhere in Guatemala about how to lighten the psychological burdens we all carry:

The Rocks in my Basket


Recent Interviews & Projects

Playing with FIRE documentary

Talk at Google

Bigger Pockets Money Show: JL Collins Edition




Both weeks for Greece sold out have long been sold out. However, please feel free to put yourself on the:

Millennial RevolutionChautauqua: Come Join the Family   (This is a brilliant post with all the details!)

1500 Days to FreedomMeet some awesome people… (Another brilliant post, this one with dinosaurs!)

ChooseFI — Oh, the Places we will go   Chautauqua in the words of the speakers who will be in Greece. There is nothing quite like hearing the voices behind the words.

Also, be sure to listen to this incredible episode with Travis Shakespeare.  Travis is a master story teller and, among other things, he shares three:

  • How the FI movement fits into the cultural fabric of America and its traditions of rugged individuals charting their own course.
  • The coming Playing with FIRE documentary
  • How he decided to come to Chautauqua and what it has meant to him. One of the best insights I’ve heard or read yet.

Mad FientistMoney Talks panel discussion at Chautauqua UK  Attendees discussing FI and also a great inside look at the Chautauqua experience.

JL CollinsGreece 2018 Mount Olympus 


Old Post

Every now and again I get a comment on an old post. It is always nice to see those getting some attention and it is fun, for me anyway, to re-read them. Maybe you too. Here’s one:

What the naysayers are missing



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Important Resources

  • Talent Stacker is a resource that I learned about through my work with Jonathan and Brad at ChooseFI, and first heard about Salesforce as a career option in an episode where they featured Bradley Rice on the Podcast. In that episode, Bradley shared how he reached FI quickly thanks to his huge paychecks and discipline in keeping his expenses low. Jonathan teamed up with Bradley to build Talent Stacker, and they have helped more than 1,000 students from all walks of life complete the program and land jobs like clockwork, earning double or even triple their old salaries using a Salesforce certification to break into a no-code tech career.
  • Credit Cards are like chain saws. Incredibly useful. Incredibly dangerous. Resolve to pay in full each month and never carry a balance. Do that and they can be great tools. Here are some of the very best for travel hacking, cash back and small business rewards.
  • Empower is a free tool to manage and evaluate your investments. With great visuals you can track your net worth, asset allocation, and portfolio performance, including costs. At a glance you'll see what's working and what you might want to change. Here's my full review.
  • Betterment is my recommendation for hands-off investors who prefer a DIFM (Do It For Me) approach. It is also a great tool for reaching short-term savings goals. Here is my Betterment Review
  • NewRetirement offers cool tools to help guide you in answering the question: Do I have enough money to retire? And getting started is free. Sign up and you will be offered two paths into their retirement planner. I was also on their podcast and you can check that out here:Video version, Podcast version.
  • Tuft & Needle (T&N) helps me sleep at night. They are a very cool company with a great product. Here’s my review of what we are currently sleeping on: Our Walnut Frame and Mint Mattress.


  1. Physician on FIRE says

    I’m excited to see the new place one of these days (next spring, possibly?) and happy to hear you’ve been able to spruce the place up for a lot less money than you had feared would be required.

    We hope to begin the process of building our next lake place (our current one is smaller than yours and on shared property in an old resort) this fall. Right now, it’s just a piece of land ( and we’re over $20,000 into it between the teardown of the dilapidated structures that were there and hiring a biologist to help us obtain a permit from the Dept. of Environmental Quality.

    Since we plan to sell our current home, most of the cost of construction will be covered, but I would not be shocked if we run into surprises along the way.

    Like you, we plan to rent a part of our place, and possibly the whole place at times, via Airbnb or VRBO. We won’t be there all the time, and someone might as well enjoy the place while we’re away.


  2. Meghan says

    Greetings from my parents house near Lake Geneva! Been thinking of you lately as it’s been pretty much been one year since UK Chautauqua.

    It’s been so fun to watch this Kibanda saga unfold. For all the Sturm und Drang, I completely understand the value in having a piece of property like that. Congratulations, and I hope things continue to go your way. Like you said, though, even if they don’t, just another bump in the road.

    Was hoping to maybe have time to drop in on you and Jane during this visit, but things just got too busy (unless you’re around on Tuesday morning!). Sometime soon, though. My parents are moving to Crystal Lake at the end of the month but we’ll still be coming in and out of MKE (thanks, SW Companion Pass!).

    Meghan (and Ollie & Baby Jack)

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Meghan…

      Great to hear from you and glad you are enjoying the series.

      Didn’t know you had a family connection in WI. Lake Geneva is not far from us. Come visit!

  3. steve poling says

    Now, county health officials may look askance at this, but I helped my daddy drive a point on two occasions when grandma’s house needed a new well. They were both shallow wells and we drove the well down a couple dozen feet by hand. Back in the ’80s the well went bad again, and this time he hired a fella to drive a well down a couple hundred feet. Nice soft water from the shallow well became mineral-laden hard water that stained all the fixtures. If your well fails, you might find a guy like my daddy who could drive a well to get into the same shallow aquifer the lake uses. County health department will be annoyed, b/c there’s a chance that surface contamination could make it into your well water. Particularly, if your septic tank and/or drain field malfunctions. As for changing environmental regs, they’ll only get worse and become more expensive to fix. Might want to prioritize fixing the septic tank. I suggest you find the oldest dude in the business who does the most local work and pay a premium for his experience/thinking.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Steve.

      I think we have found the oldest dude in the area and he has installed septic systems for a couple of my neighbors. They like his work.

      But he, as the old-timers tend to be, is very much in the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” camp. 🙂

  4. wendy says

    Nice update Jim, glad to hear that your ‘shack’ hasn’t collapsed or washed away! Being pragmatic in planning seems to have ensured that you have only had pleasant/less grim surprises so far. I liked how you laid out the finances of what you had at stake, including the opportunity cost. Of course, you didn’t assign a value to that lovely view & lifestyle (other than taking the initial risk) 🙂
    Besides Chautauqua Greece, do you have other places in mind for your next meander?

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks, Wendy!

      We are still exploring options for Chautauqua 2019. Portugal is high on the list, as is retuning to the same place in the UK from last year. They did an incredible job for us.

      This weekend we are headed to MN for a Camp FI. It will be my first time and I am looking forward to it.

      Come winter we are thinking of taking friends in FL and Sam Miguel in Mexico up on their offers to visit.

      But hanging out right here at Kibanda has become my favorite choice. 🙂

  5. Frogdancer Jones says

    Renovations are always exxy, though it seems that your guy is very reasonably priced.
    I’ve just finished a 40K landscaping job in the backyard, and it isn’t finished yet. It’ll be around another 20K by the time it’s done.
    Still, I keep telling myself that Old Lady Frogdancer will love it.

  6. Trish says

    Your place has my total envy. You know that.
    At the moment, we’re actually considering (and even looking a bit-) for a place on the water here in southern France. Lake preferred. Selling the place in NM.

    Yes, I know we have the boat, but it’s not really terribly comfortable living on it for 4 seasons. Now you’ve given me renewed thoughts on our original “long term slow travel” lifestyle. Maybe I better rethink before I find a place I fall in love with!
    Thanks for the wakeup.

    – And count us in for the guesthouse roster!

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Catch me at a weak moment cringing under those swords and you can probably pick it up cheap. 😉

      Very much looking forward to your visit, hopefully next time you get back from France!

  7. Simon Kenton says

    In terms of behavior our septic system is our god. None of the house systems gets the TLC it gets. Pumped out every 2 years by Suc ‘n’ Up (“Yesterday’s Meals on Wheels”), enzymes every month, lid pulled every 6 months to break up the float, enforcement as rigorous as marriage permits of the rule that anything that can go in the garbage doesn’t ever go down the sink or toilet, absolute prohibition on chlorine bleach, prayers and sacrifices over the leach field since there is very little one can do directly to keep the vadose zone porous. I hope I sell or die before that system meets its inevitable death by a thousand craps.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      LOL 🙂

      Because it is so, so, so True 😉

      We’ve been sacrificing chickens over the leach field but are thinking of stepping up to goats. Your thoughts?

      • Simon Kenton says

        Either is effective, but only if the pre-requisite is met:

        The chickens or the goats must be nubile but virgin.

        Ms Kenton and I were assured of this by the Septic Priest, he who runs the hieratic Suc ‘n’ Up Truck, but we are at a loss as to how you can determine this with chickens and goats. Hard enough with humans.

  8. Dan says

    You may cut the cost thin thread of the septic tank sword yourself by renting your place out. Remember, you are wisely treating the system gently, but our experience shows renters will not by either not knowing how to or caring. (I just dug out a drain field by hand due to back up caused by excessive rental use). Just plan on the income you receive from renting to go towards an accelerated septic system replacement as a result.

    • Frogdancer Jones says

      I thought the same thing about the septic system when I read that you were going to rent it out. Renters will definitely not treat the system with care. All they’ll see is a flushing toilet…

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Point well taken.

      Even if they treat it with kindness, for ours, the extra load might just be enough to push it over the edge.

      I just finished writing a welcome note to help our guests get oriented. It reads in part:

      Our septic system has gotten very old and, as there are environmental issues around replacing it, we are trying to nurse it along as long as possible. You can help by:

      –Putting nothing down the drains but water
      –Putting nothing down the toilet but bodily waste and toilet paper
      –If you feel the need to flush down tampons, q-tips, kleenex, waste paper, small animals and the like, simply chew them up and swallow them first. Once they come out the other end it should be fine.

  9. HeadedWest says

    Glad to see the new place looking great. I look forward to your update on the state of the North Foundation Wall 20 years from now. Eat some broccoli sir.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      I love broccoli!

      Great just lightly steamed.

      Not sure it will get me 20 more years, but it will be tasty along the way. 🙂

  10. FIRECracker says

    Ah good ol’ Swords of Damocles 🙂 Always a fun conversation starter for our chats. I’m glad you are overjoyed about the potential 15K cost of fixing the septic tank though. I would just leave it and save my money. You have a WHOLE LAKE! That’s a thousand natural septic tanks right there. Who needs bathrooms when you have a lake? 😛

    Thanks for the mention! You know how much I love tweaking haters 🙂

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Come visit in February (this is a haters-free zone) and tell me how you feel after chopping the hole in the ice. 😉

  11. Kevin says

    After reading the whole article… the main thing I came away with was the ‘From the Lake’ picture. It truly is worth a 1,000 words. As long as you can reflect on that view…the potential problems of the septic tank will seem minimized. A lot easier said from my computer in Ohio…but an outstanding view nonetheless. I also learned a new saying – “The Swords of Damocles”. Now I can sound just a little bit smarter than yesterday. Always learning something new….

  12. Md says

    Hi Jim,
    Nice place, thanks for the post.
    A side question for you, I called Fidelity yesterday and they have a new Fidelity ZERO Total Market Index Fund symbol FZROX. This is with zero fees, none. Is this better than Vanguard?


    • jlcollinsnh says

      Thanks DC…

      Looks like a cool concept and company. But Alaska is pretty far away and I don’t think we have a place for the discharge on our lot.

      • Karl Nelson says

        I have read about two systems that might prove helpful (and have not worked with either one): 1) incinerating toilets, and 2) grey water systems (Earth Ships seem to use these well). If the septic system goes, it might help to have some creative options to consider; I hope you never need to consider them.

  13. Tyler Kemp says

    Hey Jim!

    Place looks great. Love your blog. I’m
    Very curious to know your thoughts on people saying to stay out of the US stock market because “another Great Depression is coming” “ the US dollar will collapse” and of course “the stock market is overvalued and the US will face a currency crises” is this all noise? Should I buy VTSAX now despite these naysayers or should I buy Gold and hold on for dear life?

    Also I’m not sure if you’re familiar with a guy named Peter Schiff, but he’s on TV all the time talking about the fact that the US is in a big Bubble and an epic crash is coming. I’d love for you to do a blog on him. It would really settle my mind.

    Thanks Jim! Keep Blogging!

    • DC says

      Peter Schiff’s been doing this a long time, and as long as you are willing not to hold him to a timeline, he is correct 100% of the time with regard to “a crash is coming.” Then again, I can also bat 1000 with this: “There is a major economic expansion coming in the U.S., with a bull market certain to take us to S&P 3500!”

      • Tyler Kemp says

        Hey DC,

        Because I’m a new investor and very young it’s my first time hearing all of this. So naturally I’m trying to see what’s true and what’s isn’t. For many people are quite confident and convincing, from Jim all the way to Schiff. However, I’m glad to say This blog makes everything more straight forward the more I read. Thank you for your feedback.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Tyler…

      If you read my blog, you already know my thoughts on those issues.

      If you read the Disclaimers page, you’ll see I have a policy of not commenting on the views, articles or books of others.

      My ideas are presented here as clearly as I can make them. Presumably Mr. Schiff and the other “naysayers” you refer to have done the same.

      It is up to you to read what you chose and to decide what resonates for you.

      That said, +1 on DC’s comment. 🙂

  14. Jamie Sorensen says

    It looks great Jim! When my wife and I get the itch to enjoy Lake Michigan, we hop in our car in Cedarburg drive 1o minutes to Port Washington and walk around the marina. It scratches that itch. But I bet there is nothing like sitting out back in the morning with a coffee and watching the waves. Or an evening beverage as the skies darken and the stars come out. All the best!

  15. Far Side says

    Great pictures. It shows what you can get if you follow, “The Simple Path To Wealth.”

    If you need to replace the septic, Wisconsin sometimes allows a mound system.

    It’s a bit more expensive than a septic tank, but would keep you from having biweekly pumping. It may not be allowed so close to Lake Michigan.

    Great articles.

    • jlcollinsnh says

      OK. First. Are you the Gary Larson who writes the Far Side?

      As for mound systems, I seem to recall the septic guy mentioning those as a possibility. Thanks for the reminder!

  16. Stephanie says


    Do you ever do speaking engagements/come out to NYC?

    I’m on the alumni committee for a university in NYC. I’d love to put together an event for the alumni with you.

    You and your wife(?) are welcome to stay at our apartment if you need a place to crash, I just need to run it by my husband first. Full disclosure: we live in a 4th floor walk-up.

    Please let me know if you are interested!

    Thank you,

    • jlcollinsnh says

      Hi Stephanie…

      Thanks for the interest, you are very kind and it sounds like fun.

      Unfortunately, we have no plans to visit NYC in the near future.

  17. Luis says

    Hi Jim,

    Warms my heart that you fixed pretty much “everything” at the lake house. Too many people don’t do the necessary repair or maintenance and then the problem lingers indefinitely.
    Also, huge score with the handyman/contractor and yes, he is worth his weight in gold.
    I look forward to the next update.
    Semper FI,

      • Lee says

        That’s great! My wife and I are in a similar situation. Living in our vacation rental (we were renting in the city and using it as an airbnb before). Debating selling it though. Prices have more than doubled in our area over the past year.

        How’s the market there?

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