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Good Enough

Kenyon Sayler

Kenyon is a retired mechanical engineer. He and his wife Lisa are extraordinarily proud of their two adult sons. He enjoys walking his dog, traveling, reading and gardening. Kenyon's brother Larry also writes for HumbleDollar.

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Good Enough

Kenyon Sayler  |  Nov 16, 2022

AT THE FIRST Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting I attended, Charlie Munger was explaining an investment that the company had made. He said it was likely to provide satisfactory returns.
At the time, that seemed like an odd statement. Satisfactory? Not great returns. Not market-beating results. Not returns of 10% or 15% per year. Not even market average performance. Just satisfactory.
Since that meeting, I’ve come to appreciate satisfactory returns. Satisfactory covers a wide range,

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Failure Is an Option

Kenyon Sayler  |  Oct 5, 2022

I RECENTLY LISTENED to author JL Collins on the Bogleheads Live podcast. Collins mentioned several times that stock declines never last. He isn’t alone in this assertion. You can read any number of books or articles that talk about the need to remain invested during stock market downturns because the market always recovers.
Perhaps it’s my training as an engineer. We’re taught to think about failure rates and probabilities of failure—which brings me to an uncomfortable notion: Just because the U.S.

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Poor House?

Kenyon Sayler  |  Aug 20, 2022

MY 95-YEAR-OLD mother recently asked my brother and me what information we could get on our cellphones. While showing her the many possibilities, we went to Zillow, so she could see the information that the site has about the house that my wife and I own.
Zillow estimates that the house is currently worth $336,700, and said that we purchased it in 1986 for $86,700. My brother, who is much smarter than me, did some quick mental math using the rule of 72,

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Famous Last Words

Kenyon Sayler  |  Jul 31, 2022

YOU PROBABLY RECALL many firsts: Your first car, your first kiss, maybe even the first stock you purchased.
Firsts are exciting. Firsts are easy to demark. You’ve never purchased an item before, so—when you do purchase it—it’s a first. By contrast, lasts sneak up on you. There’s always a chance that you’ll replace an item one more time.
My wife has caused me to start thinking about my lasts.
This winter, my 36-year-old winter mittens finally wore out.

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Tail Wagging

Kenyon Sayler  |  Jul 19, 2022

A POPULAR REFRAIN is that we shouldn’t let the tax tail wag the investment dog. I struggle with this one.
Currently, 87% of our stock portfolio is in broad-based, low-cost index mutual funds, with the other 13% in individual stocks. I prefer the index funds—and yet I continue to hold the individual stocks because I don’t want to pay the taxes on our gains.
About 6.7% of our total stock portfolio, equal to half our money in individual stocks,

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Suiting Myself

Kenyon Sayler  |  Jun 10, 2022

EBAY CAN BE a fantastic teacher of basic economic principles. I’ve been an active buyer recently, and enjoy watching the interaction among supply, demand and price.
Take the market for business attire. Demand has declined for suits, blazers and jackets. This has happened at the same time that supply has risen, so prices are cheap.
Suits were once the everyday uniform for both men and women. When I started working, I owned six suits in shades of blue and gray: a winter suit,

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Mutual Admiration

Kenyon Sayler  |  Jun 7, 2022

LIKE MANY PEOPLE who read HumbleDollar, I greatly respect Warren Buffett’s opinions and insights. I’ve even attended Berkshire Hathaway’s annual shareholder meeting in Omaha. Now that it’s broadcast, I reserve the Saturday of the meeting to watch it on the web.
Seeing it from a distance means I miss out on the terrific deals various Berkshire companies offer shareholders who attend in person. By attending virtually, however, I don’t have to navigate the crowds or spend six hours driving to Omaha and another six hours returning home.

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Spend With a Smile

Kenyon Sayler  |  May 25, 2022

AS I WAS PREPARING to retire last year, I spoke with a number of friends who were also about to leave the workforce. One of the main topics of discussion: How could we best arrange a stream of income for the next three decades or so?
Among my friends, a common refrain was that they planned to spend more in their first decade of retirement. They thought their spending would fall during the second decade,

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Our Chosen Road

Kenyon Sayler  |  Apr 12, 2022

CONSUMER REPORTS and other authorities will tell you that you get the greatest value for your car-buying dollar by purchasing a two- or three-year-old vehicle. They also often recommend selling your current car after you’ve owned it for about seven years.
We favor a different strategy—one that suits our family but certainly isn’t for everybody.
My wife’s No. 1 priority is that her vehicle be reliable. She insists that every time she gets in the car,

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Showing an Interest

Kenyon Sayler  |  Mar 30, 2022

WHILE VISITING MY mother, I walked along my old paper route. It made me wonder: Which customer am I?
It helps to have a little background on these long-ago entrepreneurs. Paper carriers were independent contractors with the local newspaper. We were given a territory—the route. We purchased the papers from the newspaper company and then delivered them to our customers. Every other week, we would also go around to our customers and ask for payment for the preceding two weeks.

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Buy What You Value

Kenyon Sayler  |  Mar 23, 2022

IN A RECENT BLOG post, I mentioned a coworker’s Lexus. One commenter—none other than fellow HumbleDollar contributor Dick Quinn—noted that, while “there is no logical reason” the coworker needed a Lexus, he might have motivations I didn’t know about.
I didn’t mean to imply my coworker had made an imprudent choice. I spent my career working with engineers and scientists. As a group, we were well paid. We could afford pretty much anything we wanted—just not everything we wanted.

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Missing Out

Kenyon Sayler  |  Mar 12, 2022

A FRIEND ASKED ME if I was buying cryptocurrencies or nonfungible tokens. When I replied that I was not, my friend asked if I was afraid that I was missing out on the investment of a lifetime. That got me thinking about three great investments where I did indeed miss out.
First, in 1981, some young engineers were sitting around talking about what we should invest in. One fellow said he was going to buy a share of Berkshire Hathaway,

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Things to Experience

Kenyon Sayler  |  Mar 6, 2022

BEHAVIORAL ECONOMISTS tell us that we’ll get more satisfaction if we spend our dollars on experiences rather than on purchasing possessions. But what if the purchase allows us to have an experience? Buying a bike, for instance, allows me to take a ride with my sons.
That raises the question: How much do we need to spend on equipment to get the maximum benefit from an experience? I got a glimpse of the answer to that question several years ago as I was walking out of the office on a Friday.

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Chewing It Over

Kenyon Sayler  |  Feb 23, 2022

THE LATE JOHN BOGLE, in his book Enough, tells a wonderful story about Kurt Vonnegut and Joseph Heller. At a dinner party, Vonnegut asks Heller what it was like knowing that another guest made more in a day than Heller had ever made from his bestselling book Catch-22. Heller replied that he had something that the other guest would never have—enough.
I had forgotten my own story of enough,

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Sleeping Well

Kenyon Sayler  |  Oct 10, 2021

ONE OF MY DREAMS for retirement was to take four months and hike the Continental Divide Trail. It runs along the backbone of our country, from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. It’s 3,028 miles of beautiful scenery.
Alas, my wonderful wife worries about me hiking alone for months. What if I got hurt? What if I got sick? Our son uses a satellite phone on his treks to keep us up-to-date on his location.

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