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What is Walk 2k?

This site was created to inspire others, by sharing the lessons learnt during a journey to walking 2000 miles in a year.  Updated : 1/3/2021 Twitter Facebook In recent years I found myself sharing, discussing and debating topic of interest, one on one with friends and colleagues. Our views often differed and in the process we learnt something and saw a different view point. Social media  had great promise for family and friends connecting and staying in touch. In reality, it has become an echo chamber for reinforcing our likes and follows and has forced us into a bubble, where we only see a single viewpoint. The Rabbit Hole Clearly there are many and they go deep. When we researched a topic, its clear there are multiple viewpoints and opinions.  Why not share these ideas, so that we can collectively contribute and become more informed.  Some of the topics we intend to cover are smart homes and Internet of Things(IOT), A utomation , Finance, Real Estate and more.    

Edelman Financial Engines Review 2021

 Background I have listened to Rick's show for the past 17 years. From the days of iPod downloads to recent podcasts. His advice has always been solid and on point for the general listening audience. It is challenging to provide general advice on a radio or podcast, with a diverse audience.  I would not personally use a financial advisor, as their fees are a significant drag on performance and they are not doing anything different, that a do-it-yourself investor can do for themselves. However, everyone is different, and sometimes it helps us sleep better. We just have to realize that it comes at a cost.  I do have a small portfolio with  Edelman Financial Engines , when they started the online robo advisor service. The portfolio has performed on par with my diy portfolio Recent history In 2018 Financial Engines and Edelman Financial Services merged . I have used their services before and after the merger and did not notice a significant difference in service and continued to recomm

OhmConnect Review 2021

 What is OhmConnect ? How it works: OhmHours and AutoOhms 101 What’s an OhmHour, you might be wondering? ‍ In short: The OhmHour is where the magic happens. ‍ An OhmHour or an AutoOhm is a brief window of time (usually on weeknight evenings) when demand on the energy grid is so high that utility companies would rather pay their customers to reduce our collective usage than the alternative - firing up a dirty, expensive “peaker” plant. ‍ It works like this: Get notified : The utility lets us know that a time of intense demand is coming up and we notify you about it via an email or SMS Reduce : OhmConnect community members reduce our energy usage by turning off lights, giving our thermostats a break and not using electronics. (The easiest way to do this is by having your thermostat connected and smart plugs attached to your home’s biggest energy hogs. More on that later.) Get rewarded : If you’ve used less energy than you were forecasted to, you get rewarded with Watts, the currency you

Thanks Xfinity - for helping me cut the cord

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Comcast (now Xfinity), like many internet providers offers promotional offers. Consumers willingly buy in to these promotions and often, at the end of the period, realize that our bill has increased, often significantly.  With auto bill payments and a busy life, we often don't notice the steady creep in cost. It is up to us to be diligent and take action.  Recently, I noticed a sudden increase in my bill and asked Xfinity Customer service about it.  They had the standard excuse that a promotion had ended and I could get a new service at a price that was above my allocated budget. While waiting to get "service", I had time to review the new customer pricing and the competition. In addition, I had time to review my bill breakdown and realized that ~$30 was allocated to broadcast and sport fees - none of which I use or watch. Ok, I do some time, but is it worth $30 a month ? With Netflix, Amazon Prime and more recently the major networks providing content only through stream

Performing Your Own Portfolio Review

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Where do I start Get a copy of your most recent brokerage, 401k or Roth statement or look at your account online and make a note of each investment's ticker symbol and percentage allocated to each. Enter the tickers and percentage into a blank version of the  Backtest Portfolio Asset Allocation . For comparison I use a benchmark as portfolio 2 and 3  (eg. SPY-100%) or use a 60/40 stock/bond, or anything that represents the level of risk that you are comfortable with. Alternatively, use a target date fund from Fidelity, Vanguard or your preferred provider, or a combination of these.  Analyze the results. The graphs are great to visualize any major variance from the benchmarks. The picture below represents a hypothetical 3 portfolio comparison .  Drill down into each of the tabs and look at the fees and drawdowns and compare them between the portfolios. Portfolio Visualizer providers and amazing amount of data for comparison.  There is no perfect answer for everyone. Hopefully, this

Take Control of your Privacy

 Have you ever searched your own name ?  If you value your privacy, you should consider taking action to remove sensitive and private info. The removal process can be as easy as filling out a web form on the site and waiting a few hours or days. As a follow-up step you should also submit a request to the search engine to remove the cached/outdated link. For google use this link .  How do companies obtain your info? In the digital age, information is scraped from social media, data breaches and public information repositories. Countries and states are passing laws to allow us to take control of this data and request that our information be removed. Clearly, there is some resistance to the compliance. Some companies make it  onerous  to get the info removed. One strategy is to start with the low hanging fruit. Use the reference links below and start with a search on your info. Look for an opt-out link and submit a request. Track the details on a spreadsheet to confirm removal. Set a remi

Get your IRS PIN today

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 An IRS Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number that prevents someone else from filing a tax return using your Social Security number. The IP PIN is known only to you and the IRS and helps to verify your identity when you file your electronic or paper tax return. In the past, you had to be a victim of identity theft to be approved or qualify for an IRS PIN. However the current IRS FAQ states that anyone who has a Social Security number (SSN) or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) and is able to verify his/her identity is eligible to enroll into the IP PIN program.      Why is an IRS IP PIN important If you file a return closer to the deadline, typically Apr 15th, or file for an  extension , which is Oct 15th, it is vital that you sign up for the IRS PIN. Hackers and malicious actors can file a fraudulent tax return on your behalf and claim a tax refund. Proactively creating a PIN will hopefully prevent this. Important Notes and Tips The IP PIN changes or is

HSA Strategy

 Health Savings Account  A Health Savings Account (HSA) allows contributions on a pre-tax basis, for medical expenses. An added benefit is that you can choose to invest the contributions and the growth is tax free, if used for medical expenses. You are required to have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP), in order to qualify to contribute to a HSA. Most providers offer a savings account, with a linked debit card that can be used for medical expenses and a optional linked brokerage account. There are contribution limits for a single filer or family and they are generally increase each year. See links below for a detailed breakdown for your own situation.  A few years ago, there were limited choices for HSA providers . Most had monthly maintenance fees and transfer fees to linked brokerage accounts. In early 2019  Lively and soon after,  Fidelity both reduced and/or eliminated most fees. This made it cost effective to invest in a diversified portfolio of low cost index funds at almost

ESPP - Employee Stock Purchase Plans

 What is an ESPP Employee Stock Purchase Plans provide the ability to purchase shares using after tax income, often at a discount or predefined price. Each employer can define the rules for pricing the purchase. Purchasing ESPP shares is a great way to have some forced savings, as the purchase cost is deducted directly from a paycheck. The income is hopefully never missed and most of us will adjust our spending accordingly.  When to sell The rules and restrictions on sale differ based on the employer. It would not make sense to sell shares that are held for less than 1 year as the gains would be taxed as short term. However, in the event of an emergency it would make sense to tap these reserves and pay the higher tax rate.  Considerations and risks Your employer stock may be doing really well, and for good reason. They have a great product or service, however we all experience bias and as an insider are told how great the company is. This may be justified and true.  Over the years you

Vonage

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  Background I have been using Vonage for VOIP services for 15 years. The service started at $20-$25 and met my needs at the time. It has been great and after a few years, they introduced unlimited calling (mostly land lines), to 100+ counties calling for a slightly more, or about the same price. This was great to keep in touch with contacts in foreign countries at a reasonable cost, with the convenience of not having to use a calling card (remember those?). I was able to extract every bill in a few minutes from  Quicken  to plot the bills over the years. Fax In my mind, I continued to justify the service for having the ability for sending a fax. When last did anyone need to send a fax ? Current state After a recent review of bills, it appeared that I was now paying close to $50 a month for this service. I had not sent a fax in years and had not called a land line in a foreign country in months. Most of my contacts are now on WhatsApp. The call and video quality exceed the old VOIP ser

UPS Battery Backup

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A   UPS   (Uninterruptible Power Supply) provides power from batteries during a power outage. Commonly used to ensure that devices can be safely and cleanly be powered off during an outage. Selection criteria Price - < $100 Reputable vendor Good reviews Device should provide battery backup for at least 1 hour USB interface – provide performance metrics Use case Supply battery power for a router, modem and home automation system for 1 hour. What size UPS do you need ? During the research it was surprising to discover how much power (watts) these devices actually used. The numbers below are based on personal observation, device specifications and benchmarks and have been rounded up, to include some buffer as they could fluctuate, based on usage. Device specifics Linksys WRTAC1900  router - ~12-13 watts Motorola Surfboard SB6183  modem- ~9 watts Raspberry PI4  - ~ 4 watts Initial observations The documentation was clear and the setup was basic. Configuring the device and  dashboard  co

Make a Difference on Black Friday

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How do you plan to spend Black Friday Over the past years, we've chosen to spend the time leading up to Black Friday and Thanksgiving as a reminder to give back. It is close enough to the end of the year for tax planning, budgeting and reviewing the year that is almost past.  For us this a a time to reflect, be thankful and give back. In the years past, we spent much time researching the organizations, to find organizations that would effectively deploy funds for the intended purpose.  We required some due diligence to ensure that they are used for the intended purpose. We used Charity Navigator , to research, screen and filter. The site provides a rating to each organization and provides details on the mission, impact, financials, performance and compensation to management.  It is also our trusted source and link to the intended recipients website and contact details. How we choose to spend our time Instead of making that purchase for a material item that we really don't need,

EquityMultiple Review

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What is Real Estate  Crowdfunding     The rise of crowdfunding in the real estate space has its root in the JOBS Act of 2012, which lowered the threshold & requirements and allowed active marketing to average investors. These ads are on Facebook and other media platforms and in general an investor has to pass a accreditation  test. Some platforms advertise no investor requirements and thresholds as low as $500 for funding an account.  This can be beneficial to all and in general can be a good thing, however while the intentions are good, there are always unintended consequences.  Investopedia  provides a definition and background and  The Best Real Estate Crowdfunding Sites of 2020 . The list has most likely not changed much since 2019, however there are many horror stories of investors loses on platforms that no longer exist today.  EquityMultiple  (EQ) is one of many crowdfunding platforms that we reviewed and shortlisted in 2019. Their marketing and website provided data of an a

Equifax and your Employer Data Feeds

Facebook and America’s largest companies quietly give worker data to Equifax - 11-08-17 Biggest companies turn over some of their workers’ most personal information to the troubled credit reporting agency Equifax https://www.fastcompany.com/ 40485634/equifax-salary-data- and-the-work-number-database Every week, Facebook and other companies provides an electronic data feed of its employees’ hourly work and wage information to Equifax Workforce Solutions, formerly known as TALX, a St. Louis-based unit of Equifax, Inc. See if you employer is sharing data about you https://secure.theworknumber. talx.com/twneeer/ Preauthenticated/FindEmployer. aspx https://www.equifax.com/ business/manage-my-workforce/ https://www.theworknumber.com/ employer/ Equifax Data Breach Update: Backsliding - NOV 12, 2019 https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/ 2019/11/equifax-data-breach- update-backsliding Equifax forced to pay $4 per person in data breach - 07-22-19 https://www.fastcompany.com/ 90379766/equifax-forced-to-