Maximize Capital; Minimize Crap

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Maximize Capital; Minimize Crap

September 20, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

He achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction…
To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived,
This is to have succeeded.
” – Bessie Anderson Stanley

The S&P closed out Monday at $2,139. Gold closed at $1,316 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $43.80 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.70%. Bitcoin is trading around $608 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

The first leaves of Autumn have begun to fall, and each new morning is now accompanied by a light breeze. Little Maddie seems to share her father’s love of the season, as she enthusiastically gathers black walnuts from the yard to feed the squirrels.

Here, squirrel, squirrel, squirrel… I have an apricot for you!

Yeah, she calls the walnuts apricots. I am not sure where that came from.

Madison has also been debriefed on the proper way to carve a jack-o-lantern, and I test her knowledge daily.

“Maddie, what’s the first thing we have to do to make a jack-o-lantern?”

“We have to carve the top and get the gunk out!”

“And what are we going to do with the gunk?”

“We are going to throw it on mommy!”

…I think you are ready, kiddo.”pumpkin

It is truly the simple things that make this life worth living.

We spend most of our time in these journal entries and especially in the Zenconomics Report discussing complex topics within the world of money, finance, and economics, but that is only because we want to be able to enjoy the simple things. Continue reading “Maximize Capital; Minimize Crap”

The Beta Investment Strategy

submitted by jwithrow.
Click here to get the Journal of a Wayward Philosopher by Email

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Beta Investment Strategy

July 22, 2016
Charlotte, NC

Most people think the secret to making money by investing is to find the stock that will go up. They all want to be an alpha investor, the big man on campus… That’s the whole game, they believe – seeking alpha… But the trouble with alpha is that it is unreliable… In the long run, it’s beta that makes fortunes, not alpha. Every study proves it… A beta strategy is completely different from an alpha strategy. Instead of trying to beat the market, you make the market your friend. It’s not your enemy. You don’t try to beat it; your just want to join it. And go along with it.” – Bill Bonner, Family Fortunes: How to Build Family Wealth and Hold on to It for 100 Years

The S&P closed out Thursday at $2,165. Gold closed at $1,332 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $44.56 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.56%. Bitcoin is trading around $655 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Wife Rachel and I are back in the Queen City for the weekend with little Maddie in tow. Accustomed only to mountains, pastures, and the wide-open spaces of the countryside, Madison stares up in awe at the tall buildings that loom overhead. Accustomed only to backwood country roads, her father tries very hard not to curse at all of the other motorists he shares the highway with.

We travel back to the city of our marriage this weekend to celebrate a soon-to-be new addition to the world of humanity. Friend Wade will soon be a poppa!

Rachel comes bearing gifts for the mother-to-be Kristi and her soon-to-be son, Thomas. I come to share a stiff drink with Wade and tell him how amazingly hard child-rearing is. Madison has been instructed to wake up crying at 3:00 am to hammer home my point. Continue reading “The Beta Investment Strategy”

Become a Creator

submitted by jwithrow.
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Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
Become a Creator

July 8, 2016
Hot Springs, VA

Let them be creators, not followers. Followers have a certain mentality, and independent creators a quite different mentality. We want creators – people who find solutions by themselves, who have their own conceptions of right and good, and who are capable of independent, righteous action. Followers don’t do that. To get the creator mindset, you have to get out of the way and let them rise to the occasion. Make sense? ” – Phillip Donson, A Lodging of Wayfaring Men

The S&P closed out Thursday at $2,097. Gold closed at $1,362 per ounce. Crude Oil closed at $45.14 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 1.39%. Bitcoin is trading around $652 per BTC today.

Dear Journal,

Wife Rachel took it upon herself to take me out on a date earlier this week! She had recently discovered a picturesque country inn nestled in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, and she thought it was just the place for me. So we traveled an hour’s worth of winding country roads even deeper into the mountains of Virginia on a misty Tuesday night. Continue reading “Become a Creator”

The Family As a Sovereign Institution

submitted by estate

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
The Family As a Sovereign Institution

November 4, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Tuesday at $2,103. Gold closed at $1,114 per ounce. Oil closed at $47.90 per barrel, and the 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.19%. Bitcoin is trading around $480 per BTC today.

Take a look at the Bitcoin exchange rate – it’s up nearly $250 this month! It’s up $171 this week alone! We have seen this story before, but it is hard not to get excited about that kind of explosive gain in purchasing power. I can’t emphasize this enough: if you aren’t familiar with Bitcoin, look into it. It has the potential to revolutionize money, banking, finance, and accounting. Whether or not it will, who knows, but the potential is there. There will only ever be 21 million bitcoins in existence, and more than half of those have already been mined. That means the potential for continued purchasing power gains is huge if Bitcoin continues to gain acceptance. Why not have at least a little skin in the game?

Dear Journal,

Peak Foliage has come and gone, and only the most resilient leaves remain clinging to the trees here in the mountains of Virginia. The naked trees reveal a clear view of the bare cliffs that majestically overlook the southern side of our property. I look upon these cliffs with awe and respect as the morning fog slowly passes by their jagged ridgeline. These are the cliffs that looked down upon my daughter’s birth a little over one year ago. I hope these same cliffs will stand watch as a joyous, energetic little girl laughs, runs, and plays in the yard below. Maybe they chuckle as she stumbles chasing mini-lab Boomer who frolics with a tennis ball in his mouth. Maybe they nod in approval as she learns to kick a soccer ball into the net. Maybe they smile as she prunes apple trees in the orchard. This philosopher-dad can only speculate and wonder.

I can’t help but look inward as my mind’s gaze slowly recedes from Madison’s future and comes back into focus. My own path has been a strange one. After being 100% conventional, uncritical, and unquestioning for the better part of a quarter-century, a simple spark of curiosity led me down a road of intellectual growth and spiritual awakening from which I surely will never recover. From that spark the wayward philosopher was born. Continue reading “The Family As a Sovereign Institution”

How I Escaped the Rat-Race

submitted by jwithrow.rat-race

Journal of a Wayward Philosopher
How I Escaped the Rat-Race

May 28, 2015
Hot Springs, VA

The S&P closed out Wednesday at $2,123 – almost exactly where it was at the same time last week. Gold closed at $1,186 per ounce yesterday. Oil checked out at $57 per barrel. The 10-year Treasury rate closed at 2.13%, and bitcoin is trading around $238 per BTC.

Dear Journal,

We are back in the serene mountains of Virginia after a week spent on the gorgeous Carolina coast. Madison’s first beach trip was a success and we enjoyed five consecutive days of low 80’s with a cool breeze. Your editor even squeezed in a half-day fishing trip towards the end of the week after building up Dad points by handling Maddie’s late morning nap time indoors for the first several days so Momma could lay in the sand.

Last week I shared with you my view of the coming monetary crisis and I promised to expand upon what I have done to prepare for it and how I managed to escape the rat-race in the process.

Career is often one of the first items up for discussion when catching up with friends. You know the process: “What are you doing now? How’s that going? Do you like it?”

I find that very few friends tell me they like their job. Most say it is okay or tolerable. Some say they are miserable for one reason or another. Even the ones who say their job is tolerable express a certain sense of anxiety on Sunday afternoons as they look forward to the grind starting back up for another week.

Despite this, most people become addicted to their paycheck because they fashion their lifestyle accordingly. A couple things tend to happen when the paycheck gets bigger: the house gets bigger, the car gets nicer, and the hobbies become a little more luxurious. The problem is many of these things come with monthly payments. The big house comes with a big mortgage and strong HOA dues. The nice car comes with a big car payment and probably a satellite radio subscription. The luxury hobbies might include membership fees of various kinds: country clubs, golf courses, dinner clubs, mega-gyms, etc.

Now there is nothing wrong with any of this unless your goal is to escape the rat-race. If so, you need your paycheck to maximize capital rather than support your lifestyle. The following is the abbreviated version of how I went about maximizing capital so I could leave the rat-race in the dust.

My first step was mental: I crafted a vision of living outside the rat-race as I became more disillusioned with corporate America. I had been working in the corporate banking world for several years by this point and I had worked my way up to a comfortable salary relative to my circumstances. I was contributing the standard 3% match rate to my 401(k) and I was maxing out my self-driven IRA each year as I had been educated to do so I had a decent financial cushion to start with.

I created a spreadsheet to track my monthly expenses and pretty soon I was able to trim the fat and start saving 75% of my net income each month. I didn’t become cheap for its own sake – I still took my fiancé (now wife) out to dinner every Friday – but I did stop all frivolous spending. Though I couldn’t see far enough ahead to envision my day of liberation, I did know that I would be able to break the employment chains in the near future if I amassed a decent pool of working capital.

As my knowledge of Austrian economics grew, so did my appreciation for the precious metals. I began to make periodic trips to the local coin shop to redirect some of my monthly savings into gold and silver bullion. I didn’t originally have an asset allocation model in place so my purchases were somewhat sporadic but I did accumulate a (relatively speaking) decent precious metals base over the course of a year.

Austrian economics also helped me see how the housing bubble was being partially re-inflated by the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) and zero interest rate policy (ZIRP). Private equity firms like Blackstone and American Homes 4 Rent (AH4R) were taking advantage of this easy money to buy up huge quantities of single family homes in the U.S. to build their rental real estate portfolios. These private equity companies were taking the Fed’s cheap credit at near-zero rates to buy middle class homes which they rented back out to the middle class with a huge profit margin built in. Now there is nothing wrong with reaping huge profits as long as they are honestly gained but there is a major problem with a system that distorts the market economy in favor of special interest groups.

I was bothered by what was going on in the housing market but I also understood that I was powerless to change it. Therefore I did the next best thing – I took advantage of the situation and sold my home to AH4R for a sizable gain. Some of that gain went to pay the real estate agent’s commission and I rolled the rest into a down payment on a 5-acre rural property at the end of a gravel road way up in the mountains which is where I reside today.

My goal for our mountain home was to make it as resilient as possible such that we could be totally self-sufficient for at least six months should hard times befall us. I don’t have room in this entry to go into the specifics, but we accomplished this by securing surplus water, food, provisions, and energy sources. The end result is that I am confident in my household’s ability to be self-sufficient for at least six months should the need arise which means our livelihood is not solely dependent upon consistent monthly income. The cost to maintain this self-sufficiency is pretty negligible after the initial purchases are made.

It took me roughly six months to complete these base self-sufficiency preparations and then it was time to hone in on my finances. I set up a spreadsheet to monitor my asset allocation model and I established the initial allocation ratios: 29.5% cash, 10% precious metals, 15% stocks, 0.5% bitcoin, and 45% real estate.

I was already in excess of my cash and real estate allocation because of my 75% savings habit and my 20% down payment on our 5-acre property so I used the excess cash outside of my IBC policy to bring the precious metals, stocks, and bitcoin allocations up to par.

All the while I was researching how to build location-independent income streams online in my spare time. There are more entrepreneurial opportunities today than ever before in modern history. Thanks to the internet anyone can reach millions of prospective customers with just the click of a button and there are very few barriers to entry. This means all you need to be an entrepreneur is a product that provides value to people in some capacity and a basic understanding of online marketing techniques. It requires very little capital to launch these types of products. More importantly, you can launch these products without needing to obtain permission from the government first in the form of certifications and licenses. In comparison, try to start a traditional brick & mortar business without government permission and see how that experience goes.

So to recap:

• I invested in my own education first by developing a strong understanding of Austrian free market economics.
• I purchased a rural 5 acre property with advantageous financing.
• I made ample water, food, energy, and provision preparations so as to be self-sufficient on this property for at least six months should the need arise.
• I shored up my asset allocation model to spread my capital across several asset classes: cash, precious metals, stocks, bitcoin, and real estate.
• I began to build location-independent income streams online.

I have an entire chapter dedicated to the specifics involved in this process in the 2nd edition of The Individual is Rising which I hope to launch later this summer. I will keep you posted as that progresses.

I will sum up this entry by repeating a common theme here at Zenconomics: life is meant to be lived.

It is up to you to make your life exciting and meaningful – no one else will do it for you. This requires a break from Modernity which emphasizes a fear & control mindset intended to put life in a box and stomp out any potential randomness before it happens. We are all conditioned to live within Modernity’s box so it is difficult to step outside and blaze your own path. But your life may depend on doing just that.

More to come,







Joe Withrow
Wayward Philosopher

For more of Joe’s thoughts on the “Great Reset” and creating diversified income streams please read “The Individual is Rising: 2nd addition” which will be available later this year. Please sign up for the notifications mailing list at

Another Reason to Diversify into Precious Metals

by the Hard Assets Alliance Team:precious metals

Once upon a time, interest rates conveyed critical information about securities: the higher the rate, the riskier the investment.

Today, bond yields communicate little about underlying security risk and are arguably misleading. Consider the 1.57% yield on 10-year Spanish bonds. That level of return is hardly commensurate for a country suffering 23.9% unemployment.

The culprit for deceptive interest rates is a familiar one. Across the globe, central banks have suppressed rates to fend off crises or boost sagging economies—and zero percent is not the lowest band for this type of manipulation.

As an investor interested in precious metals, you’ve likely watched the growing number of countries shifting from zero interest rate policies (ZIRP) to negative interest rate policies (NIRP). Government bond yields in Germany, Switzerland, Japan, France, Holland, Denmark, and a handful of other countries have recently turned negative.

Negative real interest rates are nothing new, but we are talking about governments actually charging for the privilege of parking money with them. Yet another good reason to diversify into precious metals.

This shift from zero interest rate policies to negative interest rate policies epitomizes how detached financial markets have become from reality. More alarming, these radical polices exacerbate existing market distortions. By punishing bondholders, central bankers are forcing investors up the risk ladder, whether it be into junk bonds or equities.

You are better off tucking cash under your mattress than paying some profligate government to hold your money. But of course, there’s a better way. The utter insanity of a NIRP illustrates the critical importance of diversifying away from fiat currencies… and into previous metals.

Article originally posted in the February issue of Smart Metals Investor at