Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sun Prairie Beef: Better than Whole Foods!

My wife loves organic food. The penny pincher in me really doesn't like organic food, but tasting is believing and my wife makes darn good meals with the organic food that she buys! Rather than be penny-wise pound foolish I enjoy my wife's organic habit night after night even if my pocketbook doesn't. However, with organic grass-fed beef from Sun Prairie Beef I get the best of both worlds. I get better beef than I have ever tasted anywhere and I get it at up to half Whole Foods prices.

Sun Prairie beef is a true "grassroots" organization. It's run by a father and son team out of Yuma, Colorado. In addition to producing some darn fine grassfed beef, they are also genuinely great people, the kind you want to support with your pocketbook. Most importantly though, their grassfed beef is simply the best on earth. Better yet, for the first time since they started the business in 2005 they can actually air freight beef virtually anywhere in the U.S. (Thank goodness since I am moving to Texas!). Don't take my word for it though, go to and order yourself some today. You will want a rather large freezer (or a second one) as 25 lbs. is the minimum order size. You won't be sorry you ordered and in fact you'll wonder why you didn't order 100 lbs!

Monday, April 21, 2008

How to Find a Real Estate Agent to Sell your House

We signed up a real estate agent to sell our house in Denver. We interviewed several brokers (I'd recommend that you do too) and decided on this one for several reasons:

  1. He was confident enough that he could sell our house that he offered a reduced commission (3.0% instead of 3.2%).
  2. Included in his commission is the cost of an appraisal, professional photos, professional staging, and cleaning of the house prior to photos.
  3. We liked how he planned to market our house with a big focus on the Internet (which is how we looked searched for houses in Dallas).
  4. His firm was listing several houses in our neighborhood so they clearly knew the area.

I recommend asking the following questions when interviewing a real estate broker.

  • How long have you been in the business?
  • What % of asking price do you typically sell a house for?
  • What is the average length of time a house listed by your agency is on the market before it sells?
  • How many agents does your firm have?
  • How many houses is the agency listing right now?
  • How do you plan to market my house?
  • What repairs/improvements do you think I need to make to my house before putting it on the market?

I'll keep you posted on how our listing and (hopefully) sale goes.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cash Rates are Terrible and So Are U.S. Treasury Yields: Time to Buy Stocks?

Well money market rates are officially pathetic right now. According to Bank Deals 4.0% APY is about as good as you can get and most places yields are much lower. Pretty soon I bet 3.0% is the high. Going out to long term US treasuries isn't too appealing either with the 10-year yielding a pathetic 3.7%. This basically tells me that there has been a flight to quality (i.e. panic). My plan is to take a long-term view and move towards being more fully invested in some much riskier assets now that we have had a nice correction across both the credit and equity markets. I will look at lots of international equity mutual funds. I may even look at some retail and financial specific sector funds since those secotrs have both been hammered. I am also considering looking at an inverse long-term US treasury bond fund or ETF to take advantage of what I view as unsustainably low yields on US treasuries. When I finally make some moves I will be sure to let you know what I did. They will probably be gradual over the next 3-9 months. Anyone else have any thoughts on where to put capital now? Leave them in the comments.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Real Estate: A Truly Local Market

Well, I was recently reminded about how local the real estate market truly is. As part of our move my wife and I were recently looking for houses in North Dallas. I was fully expecting to see many houses on the market for a long period of time. However, the reality was that there aren't that many houses on the market in North Dallas (I houses for sale are up about 25% y/y in Dallas) and that many of the good houses were selling in two weeks or less. Towards the end of our house-hunting trip we saw a house that we liked. It had been on the market for only one day. We decided to put in an offer and I cringed as my wife basically took the contract from my hand an wrote something just below the asking price on our offer. However, she was right. That house ended up having four offers in its first day on the market. We ultimately ended up pursuing another house, but it was definitely an interesting reminder that national headlines about how slow the real estate market is don't necessarily mean that any one particular neighborhood or market are necessarily slow. I just hope our neighborhood in Denver is as healthy as the one in Dallas was...

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lots of Changes for the Armchair Fiduciary

It has been a while since my last post. There have been a lot of changes for the Armchair Fiduciary in the past few weeks. I quit my job, took a new job, and am moving from Denver to Dallas. There will obviously be plenty of posts to come about both the hunt for a new house and the sale of my existing house. Likewise chalk up a move to Dallas (where my wife's family is from) as an additional "cost of baby."