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Groupon: Costco New Membership Deal


Here’s a Groupon deal for a new Costco Gold Star Membership where for the regular price of $60 you can get the following (up to $148.98 value):

  • 1-year Gold Star membership ($60 normally), which includes a membership card for the primary cardholder as well as one free Household Card
  • $20 Costco Cash card
  • $68.98 value in free coupons – Free Kirkland Signature Ultra Clean HE Laundry Detergent Pacs ($17.99 value), Free Kirkland Signature Create-a-Size® Paper Towels ($15.99 value), $10 off Fresh Meat (beef, chicken, pork, or fish; excludes deli items), $25 off an order of $250+ on

Valid only for new members and those whose memberships expired prior to May 1, 2019. If you value the laundry detergent, paper towels and meat coupons together at roughly $40 and add in the $20 gift card, you’re basically looking at a free year of membership.

Save even more on your Groupon with a cashback shopping portal. Many offer new customers bonuses if you make a qualifying purchase, including Rakuten (formerly eBates) ($10 bonus), TopCashBack (varies), and BeFrugal ($10 bonus). I have cashed out of all of these in the last 12 months.

My Money Blog Portfolio Income and Withdrawal Rate – September 2019 (Q3)

dividendmono225One of the biggest problems in retirement planning is making sure a pile of money lasts throughout your retirement. I have read hundreds of articles about this topic, and there is no single solution. My imperfect (!) solution is to first build a portfolio designed for total return using assets that have enough faith in to hold through an extended downturn. I do not look for the highest income – no specialized ETFs, no high-dividend-only stocks, no high-yield bonds.

Then, only after that do I check out how much it distributes in dividends and interest. Dividends are the portion of profits that businesses have decided they don’t need to reinvest into their business. The analogy I fall back on is owning a rental property. If you are reliably getting rent checks that increase with inflation, you can sit back calmly and ignore what the house might sell for on the open market.

I track the “TTM Yield” or “12-Month Yield” from Morningstar, which the sum of a fund’s total trailing 12-month interest and dividend payments divided by the last month’s ending share price (NAV) any capital gains distributed over the same period. I prefer this measure because it is based on historical distributions and not a forecast. Below is a very close approximation of my investment portfolio (2/3rd stocks and 1/3rd bonds).

Asset Class / Fund % of Portfolio Trailing 12-Month Yield (Taken 9/17/19) Yield Contribution
US Total Stock
Vanguard Total Stock Market Fund (VTI, VTSAX)
25% 1.85% 0.46%
US Small Value
Vanguard Small-Cap Value ETF (VBR)
5% 2.35% 0.12%
International Total Stock
Vanguard Total International Stock Market Fund (VXUS, VTIAX)
25% 3.05% 0.76%
Emerging Markets
Vanguard Emerging Markets ETF (VWO)
5% 2.71% 0.14%
US Real Estate
Vanguard REIT Index Fund (VNQ, VGSLX)
6% 3.29% 0.20%
Intermediate-Term High Quality Bonds
Vanguard Intermediate-Term Treasury ETF (VGIT)
17% 2.20% 0.37%
Inflation-Linked Treasury Bonds
Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities ETF (VTIP)
17% 2.12% 0.36%
Totals 100% 2.41%


Here is a chart showing how this 12-month trailing income rate has varied over the last five years.

One of the things I like about using this number is that when stock prices drop, this percentage metric usually goes up – which makes me feel better in a gloomy market. When stock prices go up, this percentage metric usually goes down, which keeps me from getting too euphoric. I see it as a very conservative, valuation-based withdrawal rate metric due to our very long retirement horizon of 40+ years.

In practical terms, I let all of my dividends and interest accumulate without automatic reinvestment. I treat this money as my “paycheck”. Then, as with my real paycheck, I can choose to either spend it or reinvest in more stocks and bonds. This number does not dictate how much we actually spend every year, but it gives me an idea of how comfortable I am with our withdrawal rate.

I am a proponent of aggressively saving, and then using the potential income that brings to improve your daily lifestyle. Instead of sitting on a beach, we used our nest egg to allow us to work less hours in a more flexible manner as parents of young children. Others may use it to start a new business, travel around the world, do charity or volunteer work, and so on. The income from our portfolio lets us “work less and live more” now as I now fear running out of time more than running out of money.

(If you’re still in the accumulation phase, you don’t really need to worry about this number. I believe a 3% withdrawal rate remains a reasonable target for something retiring young (before age 50) and a 4% withdrawal rate is a reasonable target for one retiring at a more traditional age (closer to 65). If you are young, instead focus on your earning potential via better career moves, investing in your skill set, and/or look for entrepreneurial opportunities where you own equity in a business.)

My Money Blog Portfolio Asset Allocation Update, September 2019 (Q3)

Here's my portfolio update for the third quarter of 2019. Most of my dividends arrive on a quarterly basis, and this helps me determine where to reinvest them. These are my real-world holdings, including 401k/403b/IRAs, taxable brokerage accounts, … [More]

The Hidden Economics of College Admissions

NY Times Magazine has an interesting longread What College Admissions Offices Really Want by Paul Tough, adapted from his new book The Years That Matter Most: How College Makes or Breaks Us. Angel Pérez and Trinity College allowed an inside look at … [More]

Firefox Private Network: Free Browser-Based VPN Encryption During Beta

If you're like me, you take advantage of all the free WiFi you can get to avoid having to pay too much for a big cellular data plan. Coffee shops, airports, libraries, hotels, conference centers, etc. The problem is that (as Mozilla puts it) if a … [More]

Reminder: Nobody Can Predict Future Interest Rates (Especially the Experts)

The financial prediction industry is simply mind-boggling to me. There is zero long-term memory or accountability. You can make all the predictions you want about the stock market, gold prices, and interest rates, and nobody remembers your bad … [More]

Landed: Shared Equity Down Payment Program For Educators

Home ownership continues to be a goal for many people, but downpayment requirements also keep rising with housing prices. I previously posted about Unison, which offers downpayment assistance in exchange for a percentage of any future upside (or … [More]

Southwest Credit Card Bonuses Toward 2019/2020 Companion Pass (60k/80k Points)

New 60,000 limited-time offer, 80,000 point business card bonus. Southwest Airlines offers a unique feature called the Companion Pass, which lets you pick one person to fly with free when you book either paid or award flights (including to Hawaii!). … [More]

NetNewsWire 5.0: Free RSS Reader for Mac

If you like things old-school and still follow blogs and news sites using RSS s, you may be interested to know that the NetNewsWire RSS reader name has gone back to its original creator and there is a new version now available as a free, open … [More]

British Airways Visa Signature Credit Card Review: 100,000 Point Bonus

Updated with new Reward Flight Statement Credit. The British Airways Visa Signature Card is a co-branded travel card (issued by Chase) has brought back their bonus offer of up to 100,000 total Avios points with a split spending hurdle. Here are the … [More]

Causes of Wealth: Reality vs. News Coverage

Our World in Data has a very in-depth page on Causes of Death from around the world. Then they asked: Does the news reflect what we die from? What if they compared what we read in the news and the raw data? Here is a chart that compares actual … [More]

Top 10 Best Small Business Credit Card Bonus Offers – September 2019

Updated September 2019. Do you have small business income or work as an independent contractor? Uber/Lyft, Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Airbnb? You are eligible to open a small business credit card, which keeps your personal and business expenses … [More]

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