Mira – II

Mira (Omicron Ceti)
Mira (Omicron Ceti)

That is a rendering of Mira in Space Engine 0.9.8, a screenshot I snapped from within the software. Mira is the Bayer designation for Omicron Ceti (ο Ceti), a symbiotic binary star system about 300 light years from Earth in the Cetus constellation. Mira A is a red giant star, and Mira B (VZ Ceti) is a white dwarf.

With that out of the way, let’s get back into the build.

New chassis

As functional as the Zalman chassis has been, I decided I didn’t want to keep with it for this build. But for the switch, I still required another mid-tower chassis with water cooling grommets. And the pickings weren’t all that great.

In the Corsair lineup, I was really impressed with and considered the Carbide Clear 400C as it provided for a full side-window. But without water-cooling grommets, the case would have to be modified or I’d have to find a different way to route tubing to get it through a Koolance PCI L-bracket. The same with the very impressive Crystal 460X (plus it’s available from only 1 reseller at the time I write this, and they were out of stock). The grommets on the Obsidian 450D also aren’t grommets but merely holes in steel, and they were too large to fit any pass-through fittings on the market.

So I looked at NZXT and Fractal Design. Fractal Design doesn’t have any chassis available with water cooling grommets, so they were out. And looking at NZXT, the only options I considered reasonable were the S340 and H440. Only one of which has water cooling grommets on the back.

Any guesses as to which?

NZXT H440

An all-black NZXT H440 was the selection.

The size of the water cooling holes is the only downside with this chassis as the holes with the grommets removed are too large for any pass-through fitting available. And while I considered trying to find an alternative means of mounting the fittings into the holes — e.g. using washers — I decided to go with a different route that will actually cut down on the number of fittings that will be in use.

But there was another reason to lean toward this that became apparent when I was researching the chassis. I have four (4) 1TB Western Digital Blue drives left over from another project that never panned out. The H440 has plenty of room to set the drives while allowing for adequate airflow around all of them. And the Sabertooth X99 has plenty of SATA connections. The only question is RAID 0 or RAID 10. And through the BIOS or through Windows.

Next Phase

So after buying the H440 at my local Micro Center, I started building the system into it. And I decided to violate the cardinal rule and not test the hardware before installing the water block — I’ve never had to return base hardware on the system, so I’m not worried.

sabertoothx99_h440

Only the graphics cards and power supply are going from β Ori. to Mira. And the fittings as well. Everything else is getting set aside to be used for something else. Not sure what just yet. But getting the system finished requires tearing down β Ori. So the next update to this will come after Mira is finished and up and running.

For now, here are some benchmarks I gathered on β Ori. I’ll provide the comparisons to Mira once everything is running.

  • 3DMark Fire Strike: 9797
  • 3DMark Cloud Gate: 19918
  • 3DMark Sky Diver: 25205
  • Unigine Heaven: 1826 (Ultra Quality with Extreme Tessellation)
  • Unigine Valley: 3025 (Extreme HD preset)

For immediate reference, the system is an AMD FX-8350 (stock speeds) with 16GB RAM and two GTX 770s in SLI.

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Almost getting it right

I’ve said numerous times that I really don’t like much of what is published about debt collections. Because most articles I’ve seen about the topic get a lot wrong. But the latest article I encountered published by the Los Angeles Times gets it right. Or at least pretty close. But given that it’s from a newspaper, I’d hope they’d get it right.

Sean Pyles wrote the article in question called “How to handle debt that has ‘expired’“. And as said he gets it mostly right, so go and read the article before coming back here as I’m only going to point out the parts where he’s wrong. First, though, I’ll point out what I’ve said numerous times about the statute of limitations, which Sean says right off the bat:

When a debt is older than the statute of limitations, it’s called time-barred debt. That means creditors don’t have a legal right to sue you — though debt collectors may still try. They also can continue to pursue you with phone calls and negative credit reporting.

The statute of limitations only means that a debt collector cannot sue to collect a debt. It doesn’t stop them from contacting you about it or making any other collection attempts. The only thing I would’ve liked to see him include here is the fact that you can, in writing, order the debt collector to not contact you. That will stop one debt collector cold, but won’t stop them from selling it off to someone else, meaning the whole process starts anew.

A debt collector should send you a validation notice within five days of first contacting you. This notice should include the amount owed, date of last payment, who the collector is and how to request information on the original creditor. If you don’t get this notice within 10 days after the debt collector first contacts you, ask for it.

A debt collector MUST send you a validation notice within five days of first contact. And that five day mark is the postmark date, not the date you receive it. If they never send it to you, then don’t ask for it. That’s kind of like discovering you have a warrant out against you and then calling the police so they can come and arrest you.

Now here’s a question for you: what if they don’t send it till after the 5-day limit? Are they barred from collecting the debt? No. It merely opens them up to potential penalties under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. The debt is still a contract that can be enforced.

One thing I will point out here: Sean’s statements regarding validation are the most accurate statements I’ve seen in ANY article written about collections. Seriously, it brings a tear to my eye reading it. Until he gets to the part about disputing the debt:

Be as specific as possible in your letter. Say why the debt collection attempt is not valid, including information about payment history or why the debt may not be yours and any other relevant information. Send the letter by certified mail so you get confirmation of receipt.

You don’t need to be specific at all. The law requires that you merely state that you’re disputing the debt. You don’t need to provide anything more, and I’d highly recommend against providing anything more. Go here to find a letter template that you can use to dispute the debt. And if you think that the debt isn’t yours, then you can read my advice on how to interact with the debt collector.

Now while you do have the option to ignore it, Sean’s statements fall woefully short of what could happen and miss a lot of nuance:

When debt is time-barred, you can’t be sued for payment — but the debt doesn’t go away. You may ignore it, but debt collectors and your credit reports won’t.

Furthermore, debt collectors can continue to pursue payment. If you ignore the debt long enough, you risk the current collector selling the debt again.

The statute of limitations is nothing more than an affirmative defense in Court to get the suit dismissed. They can sue you — Sean even says such in the last section of his article — and you will have to show up to Court in order to assert that defense.

The debt will fall of your credit report typically seven (7) years from the date of charge-off, provided you don’t resurrect it. This is what happened to a number of collections accounts I had on my credit report.

This means as well you can have a time-barred debt listed on your credit report unless your State’s limit is higher. And generally you cannot have that entry removed. The statute of limitations that applies to the debt account is tied to your State of residence. Move out of a State where the debt was time-barred to one where it will not be and you can be legitimately sued to have the debt enforced.

And before writing this article, I think Sean should’ve followed the advice he gives about talking with an attorney so he doesn’t provide information that is demonstrably wrong. And he was going so well, for the most part.

If the case goes to court, you’ll probably submit evidence of the date of last payment and information about the bill. Simply stating that the debt is time-barred should be enough to get the case thrown out.

Merely stating the debt is time-barred isn’t enough. You will have to demonstrate the debt is time-barred. So it’s not “probable” that you’ll submit evidence. You will be required to submit that information.

But what if you no longer have the records demonstrating when you last made a payment? There are ways of getting that information, and it typically requires exercising a process called “discovery” and issuing subpoenas to applicable parties to see what records have been preserved. You’ll need to consult an attorney to discuss that option, though, as I highly recommend against going it alone.

Otherwise Sean was mostly correct and it’s one of the most accurate articles I’ve seen written on debt collections.

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Patreon feature request

I’m a Patron through Patreon, currently supporting three creators. Recently I put in this feature request with Patreon:

Good day,

There is a Creator for whom I’d like to bump my contribution to a particular reward level, but doing so requires that I provide my mailing address. This is because he does provide some physical merchandise that, frankly, doesn’t have my interest.

Now while I could contact the Creator to ask that they create another reward level that contains only the incentives that I do want for the target reward level, I think it’d be easier allow Patrons the option of not providing their mailing address. This way those of us who don’t want any merchandise incentives can easily opt out of it while retaining the other incentives that don’t require providing a shipping address.

Thanks.

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Mira

The time has come for another build log.

Seven months ago for Valentine’s Day, I posted a revisit to Absinthe in which my wife’s AMD FX-8350 system was upgraded to an Intel i7-5820k. Well, β Ori is next on the upgrade list. And the upgrade is going to be similar to Absinthe’s. And this will actually be a double-revisit.

First here are the current specifications:

CPU: AMD FX-8350 (stock speed)
RAM: 16GB (4x4GB) EVGA DDR3-1600
Mainboard: ASRock 990FX Extreme6
Graphics: PNY GTX 770 OC x2 in SLI
Storage: Samsung 850 EVO M.2 500GB

The system is water-cooled as well with an external radiator box supplying the pump, reservoir, and radiators:

CPU block: EK Supremacy EVO
GPU block: Watercool Heatkiller GPU-X³ for GTX 680
Pump: Koolance PMP-450S (D5 strong) with AlphaCool HF D5 clear
Reservoir: Phobya Balancer 150 Silver-Nickel
Radiators: XSPC EX-360 (x3) with Cougar CF-V12HB fans

box_and_tower

And this is the upgrade target:

CPU: Intel i7-5820k
RAM: EVGA DDR4-3200 2x8GB
Mainboard: ASUS Sabertooth X99
Storage: Samsung 950 PRO 512GB

So I’m taking β Ori up to X99 as well, Haswell-E instead of Broadwell-E. The selected mainboard supports Broadwell-E (with a BIOS upgrade), so it is an option if I decide to spring for it later. And the nearest Broadwell-E chip to the selected Haswell-E on core/thread count is the i7-6800k, which is about 50% more than what I paid to get the Haswell-E chip.

The AMD FX platform is admittedly dated, though it does still have its uses. I mean it’s an 8-core processor for under 200 USD. I considered holding out for the Zen platform but ultimately decided against it. I may check it out when it finally hits shelves, or use it as a platform to build a computer for another friend.

I also opted against retaining the EK Supremacy EVO. Instead I’m going with the same waterblock I used in Absinthe: the Watercool Heatkiller IV Pro. The graphics cards are also not going anywhere right now.

So what’s the “dual” part of this revisit? The radiator box.

The only thing I want to change is the reservoir. Replacing the bottom-return Phobya Balancer with the top-return option on the EK-XRES 250. It’s an overall larger reservoir — larger diameter and length. And since this whole thing will need to be drained and flushed and taken apart for cleaning, it’ll be the perfect time to do that.

And yes, the name for the system is changing as well.

Mira (Omicron Ceti)

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Breville Infuser – 3 years later

About three years ago, I ordered the Breville Infuser direct from Breville to replace my De’Longhi EC-155. Both are great espresso machines. I only wish that the Breville had lasted longer.

So what happened? In short, age.

Unlike the higher-quality, and more expensive espresso machines, the Infuser has a lot of plastic inside. This is one of the reasons it costs only 500 USD. Yes, I know I said “only”. Trust me, though, if this were made with higher quality parts instead of plastic plumbing parts, it’d be a bit more expensive. And the build of the machine makes it a little difficult to service at home.

At this point I’m certain, based on what I’m observing and what I’ve read, that one of the plumbing parts — whether it’s tubing, junctions, or what have you — is clogged. The machine is no longer able to put pressure through the group head, and is instead dumping all the water through into the drip tray — when I attempted a descale recently, it seemed more water was being evacuated to the drip tray than was coming through the group head. This again tells me that something is clogged, and I’d likely need to tear it apart to find out what.

So my options on this were varied. I could send the machine back to Breville (I bought it direct from them) and have them “remanufacture” it and send it back. I could try to get ahold of all the various parts myself and figure it out, with no guarantee I’d be able to do that. I could try to pull things apart and clean them out myself, which would only be kicking the can down the road until I replaced the parts.

I decided on another option. I took this as a chance to upgrade away from the Breville Infuser, something I’d been considering for a little over a year.

Now as I’ve said before, the Infuser is a great machine. It served me well for three years, and I wish I’d gotten more out of it given it carries a 500 USD price tag. But then I’ve read reviews of the De’Longhi EC-155 where the owners said they’d had it for several years while mine lasted only about 15 months before I started experiencing problems I couldn’t correct.

If I was better on upkeep — e.g. descaling, clean cycles, paying attention to the shower screen — then it’d probably still be in working order.

Sure I could’ve gotten better mileage with a machine like the Racilio Silvia — easily the most popular mid-level consumer espresso machine on the market, and the one with the best reputation. It’s also likely much easier to service at home compared to the Infuser. The only thing that turned me off to the Silvia is its recommended 30 to 45 minute warm-up time (in part because the boiler isn’t insulated out of the box, but can be), while the Infuser has no warm-up time due to its thermocoil.

Also unlike the Rancilio and De’Longhi, the Breville Infuser is programmable, and that’s a major feature for a mid-level machine. You won’t get that on the Rancilio Silvia without installing a PID.

But otherwise, again it’s a good machine that is actually a great value in all. It comes with everything you need out of the box: tamper, pitcher, and pressurized and non-pressurized portafilter baskets, single and double shot, along with water filters and cleaning tablets. The only thing you’d have to buy is additional filters and tablets as needed.

Which for 500 USD is a decent value, even for the longevity I got out of it. Again if I’d taken better care of it, I probably could’ve done better. But as I said I’d been planning an upgrade for a little over a year now, so it’s time to sign off on the Breville Infuser.

If you are considering the Infuser and have any questions about it, feel free to ask in the comments below.

 

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Revisiting Brock Turner

There’s a big reason we don’t have “justice” in the United States: justice is not objective. It’s entirely subjective. What is “just” for a crime varies from person to person. Many feel that Brock Turner should be dead. Not just in prison. Dead. Many feel the same about Casey Anthony and George Zimmerman despite the fact both have been ACQUITTED of their respective charges.

That’s why we have laws. Laws that objectively define a crime. Laws that mostly objectively define a sentence. Laws that are applied to a set of given facts to determine the proper outcome. An outcome in part determined by the representatives that we have elected to our respective state legislatures to define the crimes and define the sentences.

brock_turner_protesters

When people seek “justice”, the above is what we get. “He deserves worse” as many others have said. Armed protesters standing outside not just Brock Turner’s home, but standing outside the homes of people who have committed no crime and are not deserving of any punishment.

“Justice” is never objective. That is why we have Courts and Laws that are presumed to be. That is why we ceded our right to justice in exchange for laws while at the same time defining rights in how those laws are to be applied to all of us.

Due process has been satisfied in Brock Turner’s instance. He has been convicted, a sentence has been handed down, he has met the requirements of that sentence, and he has been released to probation where he will have additional requirements to meet to avoid going back to prison. If you don’t like how due process has been satisfied, find some other way to express that which harasses NO ONE. Not Brock Turner. Not the people who live around him.

And don’t pull the “you’d feel different if it was your wife/daughter/mother/sister/what have you” bullshit card on me either. While I’d likely be disappointed with an outcome, I also know that the outcome is not my decision. What happened with Turner is not our decision.

For fuck’s sake, stop trying to throw everyone’s rights under the bus simply because you don’t like one particular outcome.

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Corsair AX860: A retraction

Last year I wrote a negative review of the Corsair AX860 power supply in which I said that I had two units on me fail in a short period of time:

When an 800W power supply can better keep a system stable than an 860W power supply, there’s a problem with the power supply, especially when it cannot keep the system stable under the kind of load every online evaluation says it should be able to sustain.

There was a variable in this equation that I was overlooking. I had the AX860 connected through a 24-pin ATX extension cable and 8-pin CPU power extension cable to the mainboard (first picture), while the GS800 was connected directly without using extension cables (second picture):

When I pulled the AX860 out of the system to replace with an EVGA 1050 GS, I noticed that the extension cables had started to deteriorate. Indeed in later examining the 24-pin extension, the cable had started disintegrating with the end almost readily coming apart in my hand.

On a whim, I also decided to use the AX860 to power the graphics cards in Colony West. I didn’t buy a new unit, but used the one that Corsair sent to me in response to my RMA. And I didn’t have any stability concerns with regard to power delivery. Power consumption, yes. (More on that separately.) But the graphics cards never experienced any issues from the power supply.

So as such, I retract in full my review of the AX860. I’ve noted such on my original review. I’ve pulled the Amazon review and asked NewEgg to pull the review I published there as well.

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To the Vacca family

When we lose a loved one, we need someone to blame. And often we don’t want to lay blame where it belongs, simply because of what it means.

In your instance, you suffered a horrible loss when your husband and father, Charles Vacca, was killed when a 9 year-old lost control of an Uzi in full-automatic mode. I’ve seen the video. What was clear from the outset, however, is that Charles was to blame for his own death. Not the range that employed him. Certainly not the 9 year-old. But Charles.

In your lawsuit, you contend that the Uzi should never have been placed into the 9 year-old’s hands. And on that I concur in part and disagree in part. The problem wasn’t the Uzi itself, but its full-automatic mode. I’ve said in other venues that the Uzi should never have been switched into full-auto mode. But who switched it to full-auto mode? Charles.

Safety is also everyone’s duty at the range. If anyone feels that a person is about to do something dangerous at the range, the person who sees it has an implicit obligation to call a cease fire on the range and see the issue corrected. If they notice but don’t do or say anything, they can be held liable in part for the consequences if something bad happens.

And that goes double if a person is acting as an instructor for someone unfamiliar with firearms. Again, this comes back to Charles. Charles would still be alive if he never put the Uzi into full-auto mode. Charles would still be alive if he never allowed the 9 year-old to even handle that weapon.

Charles also would likely still be alive if he had not been standing so close to the 9 year-old in question. He was practically behind her shoulder, something that any person knowledgeable of gun safety will say is not the place to be standing. You should instead always be at least two feet behind them at minimum, with where you stand being depending on where shell casings are flying to avoid contact burns.

But this is especially the case when you’re talking about a fully-automatic weapon. Charles should’ve known the recoil characteristics of that weapon. He should have known that a person who has never fired a full-auto firearm previously is going to have difficulty controlling the compounding recoil to keep the barrel forward. He should have known that a 9 year-old will also, simply by nature of their size and typical level of strength, have a lot of difficulty controlling the compounding recoil of that firearm.

Again, all of this could’ve been avoided had Charles not put the firearm into full-automatic mode. And it also could’ve been avoided if Charles had not allowed the 9 year-old to fire the weapon at all. I can understand wanting to lay the blame for Charles’s death on the employer. Since it avoids laying the blame on Charles.

How many minors have fired Uzis and other full-automatic weapons at that range without incident? Charles’s life could’ve been spared had some other details been observed. Again, he should not have switched the weapon into full-automatic mode simply because a 9 year-old isn’t going to have the strength to control the compounding recoil. I agree as well the 9 year-old shouldn’t have had hold of it to begin with.

But once the firearm was in her hands, there were ways of mitigating the risks that led to his death, starting with not having his face so close to the firearm.

Charles failed in his job, and it cost him his life. I know that’s difficult to accept. But unfortunately that is just the reality of the situation.

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Are you really pro-life? – A revisit

A little over five years ago I wrote an article called “Are you really pro-life?” That article was going on words by a woman named Valerie talking about the hypocrisy in the pro-life communities. Recently I discovered an article published by Glamour Magazine that is prompting a revisit of what I published.

Reagan Barklage is the Midwest Regional Coordinator for Students for Life America. She wrote the article called “Yes, I’m Pro-Life, but I’m not a Stereotype“. The “stereotype” to which she refers is the pro-life “advocate” who stands out in front of abortion clinics:

Unfortunately, the pro-life movement is often painted as judgmental and harassing. I recently appeared in the documentary, Abortion: Stories Women Tell, and was disappointed, but not surprised, to see that stereotype reinforced. Instead of focusing on how I, and the other pro-life women they followed, provide resources and alternatives to abortion, the film injected footage of fringe groups protesting outside clinics. By doing so, audiences only got to see the same old image of pro-life people yelling and condemning patients going into an abortion facility. Those actions and words don’t represent our movement—what woman would ever listen to someone who is shouting horrible things at her or telling her she’s a murderer or whore?

Indeed it is that stereotype I specifically denounce in my earlier article:

First let me ask you this: do you really think, in the bottom of your heart and in the depths of your soul, that protesting and proselytizing outside an abortion clinic is really helping to turn lots of women away from the clinics? To the best of my knowledge there is no unbiased evidence suggesting this. So protesting outside a clinic isn’t doing any good, especially if all you’re doing is shouting and proselytizing. (“Trust God. Choose life. Abortion is murder! You’re going to regret this!”)

So if in your bid to curtail abortions you employ means that have no demonstrable evidence of obtaining the ends you seek, are you actually pro-life? If what you are doing is having little to no demonstrable effect on the incidence of abortions, in the United States or abroad, are you actually pro-life?

Reagan can actually say that she is. She specifically denounces the judgmental nature that has become representative of the pro-life movement. Indeed in reading Reagan’s article, she appears to not align with the other colloquial that has also become representative of pro-life movements: being unequivocally anti-choice.

Judgment and condemnation should have no place in a woman’s decision to continue or terminate her pregnancy, and frankly, they have no place in the pro-life movement. This is the time for compassion and love. We don’t want women to run into the abortion clinic because someone is harassing her. We want her to run to us because we are there for her with open arms, ready to help and love her while showing her alternatives to a decision she may regret.

In my previous article, I qualified the moniker “pro-life”:

It is all in how you try to combat the incidence of abortion that makes you pro-life. Do you proselytize and preach, standing around holding signs and shouting, or do you actually try to help the women who are in need?

Reagan makes it clear in her article that she isn’t out to preach and proselytize. She isn’t out to bully and harass women outside abortion clinics. Instead she wants to be the kind of pro-lifer that really needs to be the most vocal members of the movement: the ones who try to make women aware of the other options that exist and help them get what they need.

So while I doubt I could call her pro-choice, and she likely wouldn’t consider herself that either, it’s difficult to tell if she’s anti-choice since she makes no mention of wanting to outlaw abortion. Instead she wants to be proactive in helping women discover the full breadth of their options.

And that is what we need. Along with comprehensive sex education to ensure that women (and men) are aware of their options for preventing pregnancy, we also need a comprehensive pregnancy education that can inform women of all of their options should they become unexpectedly pregnant.

As I said five years ago, telling women to not get an abortion without giving them any other options besides “just don’t get an abortion” isn’t going to help. And while crisis pregnancy centers are certainly problematic, they are at least an option. But there are better options out there, and at least Reagan is one person helping to direct women there.

What Reagan says are the “most compelling words” that an unexpectedly pregnant woman could hear are the words that they are wanting to hear: “I’m going to help you.”

If your “pro-life” activism extends only to trying to pass laws and screaming at those of us who are “pro-choice”, then you’re not doing any good. Take a page from Reagan’s book and lower your voice and actually try to help the women and couples in need. Otherwise you’re not really pro-life. You’re just anti-abortion.

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$1.5 million bullshit artist

On this blog and elsewhere, I’ve been an advocate for shedding debt. Including paying down your mortgage early.

Investments are a gamble. If the percentage gains in my 401(k) were turned into a roller coaster design, I’d probably make more money off the design than my 401(k) would over the long term. I said this commenting on an article on ABC News called “Making extra mortgage payments can pay off, but should you?

I’ve seen my 401(k) go up or down in any given week by more than I take home in a paycheck. I’ve seen that happen in a single day. The “rate of return” on my 401(k) for calendar year 2015 was -3.7% according to the brokerage. Let me emphasize that:-3.7%. Minus 3.7%. Sometimes it’s lost more than that in a month. If I go for June 1, 2015, to June 1, 2016, the rate becomes -11%. Minus 11%.

Investment accounts can be a roller coaster with no guarantee on gains. Putting that money against your mortgage is a guaranteed gain in your wealth since you are paying down a liability.

And now, Business Insider published an article called “I’m worth $1.5 million, and I’d never recommend paying off your mortgage early“. And why is it that this person would never make that recommendation? You guessed it: invest it instead. Seriously these kind of articles piss me off. They operate on the presumption that investments will only go up. And this article that BI published pisses me off even more than any other article I’ve read on the topic.

My current home set me back $176,000 and I had the money to pay cash. I briefly considered it, but instead took out a mortgage. I kept the money invested, mostly in an S&P 500 index fund. Let’s take a look at how the experiment is coming along.

And that is why.

The author had enough money to be able to put down $180,000 without borrowing. But instead he put down only $40,000 and kept the rest invested. Hands up if you can do the same.

So nothing about the author’s situation makes anything he has to say realistic. His article is nothing but speculation and hypothetical. “See how great your wealth could be if you invest.” Come down to the rest of us in the real world, with needs and tighter budgets that need to be balanced against the potential of financial disaster. In general you need money to be able to invest, and not many actually have a chunk of change they’re just willing to hand over to someone on the possibility they’ll get more back over time.

Most don’t even have a positive net wealth, meaning they owe more than they actually have. I’m fortunate to say that isn’t the case for me, but I know I’m in a minority on that.

And if I had the ability to buy a home for cash, I too would still take out a mortgage courtesy of the accounting concept called “leveraging“. It’s why businesses borrow money all the time even if they have cash in the bank.

In business-to-business and wholesale transactions, many vendors offer their customers a discount if an invoice is paid in a shorter period of time. An example is “2% 10 Net 30”, meaning 2% discount if the invoice is paid in 10 days, otherwise the full balance is due in 30 days.

Let’s you have a $2,400 invoice on 2% 10 Net 30 terms. If you can pay the invoice within the 10-days, you’ll receive a discount of $48 and pay $2,352.

Now let’s do a little math. If you borrow the $2,352 at 10% interest and pay that off in a month, you’ll pay $19.60 in interest on the loan. Even if you take two months to pay off the loan, you’re still coming out ahead, albeit not nearly as much. In raw numbers, that is. Depending on what the invoice represents, that leveraging may have put you further ahead than paying the invoice out of pocket, either with or without the discount, simply because of the utility you’d have gained with the item(s) or service(s) in question.

That is why leveraging is a very important concept in business and personal finance.

But two points are overlooked in the common “invest the money instead of paying down debt” advice: 1. paying down debt is a guaranteed way to increase your net wealth and 2. investments aren’t. You are trading money for an asset of fluctuating value. If you’ve handed your money over to an investment firm to put into an index fund, you’re trading money for a wish.

You can throw all the hypothetical numbers you want at people to try to convince them to hand their money over to the stock market. I’ve gone after the idea numerous times over, and, again, it’s about trading what would be a real, guaranteed gain in net wealth for what might be a gain in net wealth over time.

There’s also a third point: paying down your mortgage early doesn’t require putting out much. Again, in a comment on the ABC article:

Putting extra cash toward the mortgage is a guaranteed, real gain in wealth as well, unlike the gamble investments can be, as you are helping to shed a liability faster. An extra payment here and there, if you can afford it, is going to help in the long run. And that’s the same with any loan: mortgage, student loans, personal loans, car loans, what have you. Even inflating your payment a little — an extra $20 or $50 or even $100 for example — will help in the long run. Depending on your loan payment, this could be a spread-out substitute of making an extra payment per year. With my car payment, I put an extra $50/mo on top of what the loan agreement called for, about the same as an extra payment for a calendar year. This put me far enough ahead that I was able to skip a payment entirely and still stay ahead on the loan.

Much of the backlash against those of us who recommend paying down your mortgage seems to come from a fallacious foundation, and by extension fallacious reasoning. If you put a few hundred dollars into a stock market index fund, it’s likely not going to gain much, especially if there are fees involved — how exactly do you think investment brokers make money? You have to keep adding to it. And there’s always the risk your investments will go down in value.

But if you take a couple hundred dollars and use that to make a higher payment toward a loan, that’s several hundred dollars in principal that you no longer owe. And that pays off in the long run through less interest. If you keep doing that, you’ll pay still less interest over time. And you might even be able to open your loan up enough to be able to skip a payment and still be ahead on the loan, as I was able to do with my vehicle loan.

Those of us who make that recommendation don’t say to put all your spare cash at your debts. That would be beyond stupid, financially speaking, as you’d be taking an even greater risk. Instead, put extra money against your debts only if you can afford to do so. Invest only if you can afford it.

The problem is that most likely can’t do so. Most don’t have a 6-figures in an investment account that will earn more in raw dollars in a year than will be paid against a mortgage in 10 years. Most can’t readily put 20% down on a home. Hell, most can’t afford to readily pay out several hundred dollars.

So in short, the Business Insider article wasn’t even realistic, let alone persuasive.

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