Be Wary Of These Overachievers When Filling Out Your Bracket

Largely disregarded going into the season, Northern Iowa and Butler have put together great years. Butler, unranked nationally and picked to finish seventh in the 10-team Big East back in October, placed second in the conference and finished 22nd in both the AP and Coaches’ polls. Northern Iowa exceeded expectations by an even greater margin, finishing 12th in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings (with a gaudy 30-3 record) despite being pegged for 74th in the preseason.Looking ahead to the NCAA tournament, the way both teams are seeded makes them favored to win at least one tournament game, with a puncher’s chance at even more.Great story, right? Well, sure, but our research has shown that even after a stellar season, it’s hard for such teams to completely shake off their humble beginnings. While a team’s statistical power rating will tend to stabilize late in the season, the residue of preseason expectations seems to have a lingering effect.To illustrate, I compiled pre-tourney Simple Rating System (SRS) grades for every NCAA tournament-bound team since the dawn of the 64-team-bracket era in 1985. I also crafted preseason projected SRS scores for each school using a weighted, regressed-to-the-mean average of its SRS ratings over the preceding two seasons.1For the curious: I gave a weight of 67 percent to the previous year’s score, 22 percent to the team’s score for the year before that, and 11 percent to the NCAA-average SRS score of zero. When attempting to predict the outcome of a given NCAA tournament game, the difference between a team’s seasonal SRS rating and that of its opponent clearly carries the greatest weight. But the difference between the teams’ preseason SRS projections can also alter a team’s probability of winning a tournament game by as many as 5 percentage points.This dynamic even extends to highly ranked teams such as Maryland, who finished 8th in the final AP poll after beginning the year unranked. Teams of that ilk have historically won about 25 percent fewer NCAA tournament games than they ought to have, given where they were seeded. And our model says the Terrapins are on the same track; while No. 4 seeds traditionally win about 1.5 games per tournament, our model projects an average of just 1.2 wins for Maryland in this year’s tournament.So, including Northern Iowa, Butler and Maryland, who are this year’s overachievers to be wary of? Here are this year’s teams, ranked by whose preseason rating differed the most from the non-preseason components of their overall FiveThirtyEight power rating:Check out FiveThirtyEight’s March Madness predictions. read more

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Football Ohio State rolls over Oklahoma 4524 in Norman

OSU senior offensive linesman Pat Elflein prepares for the Buckeyes game against the Oklahoma Sooners on Sept. 17 at Gaylord Family Memorial Stadium. The Buckeyes won 45-24. Credit: Alexa Mavrogianis | Photo EditorNORMAN, Okla. — The game that was hyped up for weeks fulfilled the desires of many Ohio State football fans in the first half. After a shaky start for the Buckeyes, OSU recovered by rattling off two unanswered touchdowns and never looked back, eventually topping the Sooners 45-24. Oklahoma received the ball and promptly marched down the field before an injury to starting redshirt freshman left guard Cody Ford slowed the opening drive for the Sooners. The drive stalled, and the Buckeyes forced a field goal attempt, which was missed from 27 yards out.Things never got back on track for the Sooners, as Oklahoma would be playing catchup throughout the first half. Junior H-back Curtis Samuel scampered in for a 36-yard touchdown to give the Buckeyes a lead they would never relinquish.It was a night that saw the Buckeyes dominate both the offensive and defensive lines of Oklahoma.“I think we controlled the line of scrimmage,” OSU coach Urban Meyer said. “When you do that you have a good chance of winning the game.”With Oklahoma looking to gain momentum by going for it on fourth down early, the Buckeyes found themselves up 14-0 after an outstanding defensive play.Filling in for injured junior weakside linebacker Dante Booker, sophomore Jerome Baker intercepted a tipped pass from Sooner redshirt junior quarterback Baker Mayfield and turned on the jets for a 68-yard touchdown.“(Junior defensive end) Jayln Holmes, he tipped it,” Baker said. “I looked up and it fell right into my hands.”Oklahoma redshirt sophomore Joe Mixon answered back with a touchdown of his own, returning a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. Finding a hole in the middle, Mixon broke free and was nearly untouched throughout the return.Although the score was upheld, video review later revealed that Mixon dropped the ball before crossing the goal line. Although all scoring plays are to be reviewed, the touchdown for the Sooners remained.All questions about the health of redshirt sophomore wide receiver Noah Brown were answered in the first half, as Buckeye fans witnessed three touchdown receptions, with the last one of the first half dropping the jaws of fans throughout the stadium.Being guarded closely in the left corner of the endzone, Brown pinned the ball against the back of Oklahoma cornerback Michiah Quick, maintaining possession and dragging his foot. The score put the Buckeyes up 35-17 with just six seconds left in the half.Brown finished the night with four touchdowns.The Buckeye defense struggled to limit the amount of yards picked up by the Sooners in the first two quarters but kept Oklahoma from gaining the lead. Although OSU surrendered 258 yards in the opening half, the Silver Bullets defended well enough to keep their team in the lead.The second-half was much of the same for the Buckeyes. Smothering defense and a healthy use of Brown in the redzone kept OSU out in front by a large margin.After receiving the second-half kickoff, redshirt junior quarterback J.T. Barrett quickly led OSU down the field, setting Brown up for another touchdown reception, this time from eight yards out. Four of Brown’s five receptions were for touchdowns, while every one of Barrett’s touchdowns were to the redshirt sophomore.The grind-it-out attack used by the Buckeyes quickly wore down Oklahoma in the second half. After Barrett and Brown led OSU for much of the first half, the combination of redshirt freshman running back Mike Weber, Barrett and Samuel took over the game.Finishing the game with an average of 6.1 yards per carry combined, the three players racked up 291 rushing yards throughout the contest.Mayfield struggled again in the second half, as OSU’s tight defense in the secondary and pass rush kept the redshirt junior scrambling from the pocket for much of the second half. He finished his night going 17-for-32 for 226 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions.The defensive lineman for OSU took into account the mobile ability of Mayfield, and made sure to keep him in check as best as they could.“Sometimes if you were going to win your one-on-one matchup, you couldn’t take it. You had to cage the pocket and collapse him” said OSU redshirt sophomore defensive end Sam Hubbard. “There was one time I beat the tackle so clean that he escaped right away. Stuff like that, you just had to keep him caged and not give him any running lanes because he was out of there really fast.”The Buckeyes even received cheers from the OSU faithful in the Oklahoma crowd. During the third quarter, an “O-H-I-O” erupted in Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium.Outscoring Oklahoma 14-7 in the second half, OSU walked away triumphant with a 45-24 victory. After a week filled with predictions favoring each side, the Buckeyes proved they can perform on the biggest stages.Although OSU was all smiles following the game, redshirt junior cornerback Gareon Conley sustained an upper-body injury during the first half. Conley did not return, and his status is up in the air for Week 4.Meyer said he was unsure of the status of Conley after the game, but said as far as he knew, the redshirt junior was doing well.Next week, the Buckeyes will be on a bye week. After the break, the Buckeyes are scheduled to return to Ohio Stadium to open Big Ten play against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. Kickoff is set for noon on Oct. 1.This article has been amended with quotes following post game interviews. read more

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In This Issue   Tight ranges for currencies

first_imgIn This Issue. *  Tight ranges for currencies & metals. *  Euro is only currency to break out. *  Aussie Trade Deficit prints better than expected. *  Trends. And, Now, Today’s Pfennig For Your Thoughts! Yellen Is Confirmed. Good Day!  And a Tom Terrific Tuesday to you! Burrrrrrr. It’s cold! It’s the real life version of the hit movie: The Big Chill! Remember that one? That was a pretty good movie, but the music in it was even better, given that it brought back such great songs that most people had forgotten about! Music from my teen years. I saw a brief interview with Linda Ronstadt last night on TV, brother could she sing in her younger days! The saddest song I think I’ve ever heard, is her version of: A Long, Long Time. Speaking of a Long, Long Time. I sure hope the Big Chill doesn’t last a long, long time! The highway that I take to work, still only has one lane cleared of ice. One thing that has lasted a long, long time is the weak dollar trend! About 2 years ago, I was talking with the Big Boss, Frank Trotter, and said I worried that we no longer were dealing with trends, that the U.S. had built so much debt that we would just continue to see the circuit breakers of dollar strength, and then return to the underlying weak dollar trend. That certainly appears to be the case, as I look back these past couple of years. Every time the currencies begin to rally with some conviction against the dollar, “something” happens, and the dollar flips a circuit breaker. Well, I’m no electrician, but I would think that after a circuit breaker gets flipped enough times that it eventually wears out. I’ll have to look that up to see if that’s correct, but logically thinking that would be the case, eh? For those of you new to class, when I talk about the weak dollar trend, I’m talking about a overall trading pattern that’s not a One-Way Street, and could have volatility. This current weak dollar trend began in February of 2002, and saw a circuit breaker flipped in 2005, 2008, 2011, and 2013. But each time, the dollar went right back to its underlying weak trend. Which is where it exists today. A lot of economists and analysts have forecast that 2014 will be the year of the dollar. Of course, they’ve said that for the past 5 years this time of year. What they simply do not understand is that a trend begins for a fundamental reason, and the trend doesn’t completely end until that fundamental reason is corrected or at least well on its way to being corrected.  Debt is the main fundamental reason the dollar began this journey in the weak dollar trend, and I hate to remind everyone but we certainly haven’t done anything close to correcting that fundamental reason, now have we?  When I was in Vancouver last summer for the Agora Financial Symposium (AFS) I surprised the crowd and the folks at Agora, who may never ask me back, by talking about this call for the dollar weakness to end, and referring to it as the Sweet Spot. I then talked about how the dollar’s “Sweet spot” reminded me of the great Trini Lopez song. And then sang to the audience, and on the second verse, asked them to sing along with me. Lemon Tree very pretty, and the lemon flower is sweet, but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat!  I still feel strongly about this, folks. But trust me, I don’t think singing during a serious presentation probably wasn’t a good idea. But then, I’ve always used the AFS to do something different, that breaks up the day of one presenter after another talking about investments. Well. Yesterday, we saw the currencies range trade, and in the overnight markets there was a lot of nothing going on. I certainly can’t blame the Big Chill on the overnight markets, for it’s summertime in Australia and New Zealand, and I’m told it was over 100 in Australia yesterday! There just wasn’t enough activity in the NY markets yesterday to get the rest of the world all fired up overnight!  Gold, tried to add to its recent gains, but every time it went up $4 it went back down to flat, the up $4, and back down. It was as if somebody or some entity was playing a game.. Nah, no one would do that.  HA! Speaking of Australia. The Aussies printed a smaller than expected Trade Deficit at A$ 118 Million, which in my mind is pretty much a flat deal. But the markets weren’t impressed and pushed the Aussie dollar (A$) down by 1/2-cent. But that’s about the only currency that has seen much movement overnight. I have to say that I think I get why the markets were not pleased with the Trade Deficit number. You have to not think logically, but use a Trader mentality for this, so stick with me.  The traders probably looked at the smallish size of the Trade Deficit, and said, “this was realized because of the weaker A$… And if the Aussie Gov’t figures this out, they’ll probably push for even more A$ weakness”.   OK. make sense? Well about as much as trader mentality can I guess! The euro pushed higher by about 1/2-cent during the day yesterday, and has added a few ticks this morning.  This morning the Eurozone’s largest economy, Germany, printed some much better Unemployment, and Retail Sales data.  First, the German Unemployment numbers were better in December for the first time in the last 5 months. The number of people out of work decreased by 15,000, and pushed the total for the year to 230,000.  November Retail Sales increased 1.6%. In addition, the latest Investor Confidence survey from the think tank, ZEW, showed that Investor Confidence had surged to the highest level since 2006! On a side bar, I read on the Bloomberg this morning that starting this year, citizens from Romania and Bulgaria will be allowed to seek employment in Germany. This comes seven years after they joined the European Union. It is thought that this will lead to an influx of workers seeking jobs in Germany by 120,000. Staying in Europe. Sweden bucked the trend that we saw all last week, of countries around the world printing weaker than the previous month’s manufacturing data. Sweden posted a manufacturing index number (PMI) of 57.7 in December VS 57 in November. Sweden continues to outshine most of Europe, even its kissin cousin that lives next door, Norway. This data has the krona pushing the appreciation envelope, but not too strongly. And then finally before I leave Europe, we’ll fly over the Alps into Switzerland, where the Swiss National Bank (SNB) announced yesterday that they will post a $10 Billion loss for 2013, mostly because of the losses in their Gold holdings. I’m sure they also lost a shekel or two on their currency move in 2013 to Aussie dollars, as the A$ sure didn’t end 2013 on a good note, after spending most of the year around $1.04, it fell, and I know I don’t have to tell you that, but I’m just explaining the SNB’s losses. But we don’t really care about Central Bank losses do we? Well, in a way we do. Because just as easily as the SNB bought Gold and Aussie dollars they can sell them, which would be just like a Central Bank to sell into weakness. So, was the SNB wrong to “diversify”? NO! This was one year. but what about all the previous years when the diversification made them money? It’s about reducing the over risk of one’s investment portfolio folks, and that goes for Central Banks as well as individuals! Take the Fed, and their bond buying. This was not diversification at all, and now  they’re going to have to hold those more than $3.5 Trillion worth of Treasuries and Muni bonds until they mature, because to sell them into the markets right now would be crazy and bad for bond yields. Remember bond pricing has a reverse relationship with yields. So, if there’s a ton of selling bond prices would go down, which would mean the yields would go up. And we know that the Fed has stated that they are going to do everything they can to keep that from happening. Remember our discussion about Reverse Repos? If you missed class on December 4, that’s when I talked about Reverse Repos. You can either go to the Pfennig’s Blog site at: www.dailypfennig.com and go to the archives, or do a simple search on Google by typing: Daily Pfennig: reverse repos. this will take to a list of Daily Pfennigs that got posted by other entities.. Just pick one, and read it! OK.  Well, Janet Yellen was confirmed by the Senate yesterday to be the next Fed Chairperson. But it was scary there for a little while, as she received the least amount of Senate support on record, with a vote of 56-26. I think those “no votes” were to show everyone that these Senators are not happy with the fact that the Fed’s balance sheet has grown to more than $4 Trillion, and now Yellen will have to preside over the unwinding of Quantitative Easing, ZIRP (zero interest rate policy), and overall unlimited liquidity. OR. having to admit that the unwinding is not prudent at the time, and just keep the bus running.. My money is on the latter of those two. I’ve gone on record here in the Pfennig several times explaining my position on Tapering, so I won’t bore you with that again, but once again, you can find it if that interests you, either in the archives or through Google. And the markets aren’t convinced that she’ll carry on with the tapering, as the 10-year Bond yield has slipped back below 3%… But I have to get away from talking about the Fed before my blood pressure starts to rise, and I begin yelling at the walls again! OK. Hall & Oates are singing Sara Smile on the IPod, so that will settle me down. Up north in Canada, where I wish they would keep their arctic blasts of weather, they will print their Trade Balance today for November. Recall that October’s Trade Balance in Canada was a Surplus? Well, the “experts” believe that November’s data will show that Canada slipped back into a deficit. But, by only C$ 100 Million, which to me, as I said above with the Aussie Trade Deficit, is pretty much flat. So, Canada is showing the world that they can have a semi-strong currency and still print good Trade Merchandise numbers. I talked to a group of young people last Friday, the Coro Fellows in Public Affairs, and they asked me what the U.S. could do to improve their trade position and become more competitive with their exports. Brother, was I loaded for bear on that question! Thank you, to whomever it was that asked that question. Softball for Chuck! But they wanted to know, because all they had ever heard was that it was the other country’s fault that we weren’t competitive.  You know. I wrestled when I was in High School, and it was in wrestling that I discovered that you have no one else to blame for your loss but yourself. You can’t blame the other kid because he trained harder than you. You can’t blame your training partner because he didn’t work you hard enough.  It was only me, my choice to get better, and make my presentation on that mat more competitive. It’s the same with our exports. Our leaders cry about how the Chinese renminbi is too strong and it needs to get stronger VS the dollar. Wait, that means what they are in essence saying is that they need for the dollar to get weaker. Now, switch over to Germany for a minute. The Germans deal with a very strong currency, the euro, which is 1/3rd of a cent more expensive than the dollar, and much stronger than yen, and a host of others, but does their exports suffer? NO! And why? Because just like me wrestling, they chose to make a better presentation of their goods and be more competitive because of value. Whew! I’m worn out now! I feel like I just went 6 minutes on the mat! HA! And now it’s as if I’m in a tournament and now I have to go wrestle another guy, because.  I’m going to talk about the latest thing on Gold. What I’m talking about is that even MarketWatch ran a story yesterday on Price Manipulation in Gold.. Sure, they were just quoting guys and using the proof that we’ve already talked about, but the point here is that MarketWatch was doing this. not the usual suspects when it comes to trying to make price manipulation in Gold public news. I have to wonder if this could become so widespread in coverage that the CFTC (commodities regulator) will feel that they actually need to enforce their own regulations? Or is that just wishful thinking? Probably. But one can hope, can’t they? The U.S. will print its November Trade Deficit today, and it should come in around $40 Billion. I read a story last week by a guy that said that the Trade Deficit means nothing, and that people should not pay attention to it. I beg to differ, buddy! Countries that have a Trade Surplus get to build a treasure chest of reserves that can be used when needed, instead of going into debt. So, if it’s good to have a Trade Surplus, it is bad to have a Trade Deficit! No mid week holiday this week, I’m addicted to them! So I guess I’ll just have to take tomorrow off! HA! As if!  The Peoples Bank of China (PBOC) finally got back to work on allowing the renminbi to appreciate, after 3 days of weakening the value of the currency.  I continue to believe that these weaker moves are simply the PBOC’s way of keeping the markets from having a view that the currency is a One-Way street to appreciation. For What It’s Worth. In keeping with the thoughts on Gold, I found this on zerohedge.com, which I’ve told you is a site that visit regularly for tidbits of info.   Here are a couple of snippets from an article found there yesterday. “Why do we continue to keep the faith with gold (and silver)? We can encapsulate the argument in one statistic. Last year, the US Federal Reserve enjoyed its 100th anniversary, having been founded in a blaze of secrecy in 1913. By 2007, the Fed’s balance sheet had grown to $800 billion. Under its current QE program (which may or may not get tapered according to the Fed’s current intentions), the Fed is printing $1 trillion a year. To put it another way, the Fed is printing roughly 100 years’ worth of money every 12 months. (Now that’s inflation.) Conjuring up a similar amount of gold from thin air is not so easy.” Chuck again. That’s right! Even if you knew that there was Gold in a mine, you would still have to go down and find it, and mine it, bring it out and so on.  Not as easy as going to the Fed’s computer and entering some numbers to add to their balance sheet. right? To recap. Yellen was confirmed as Fed Chairperson but it certainly wasn’t a clean vote, as 26 Senators voted no. The currencies traded in a range yesterday, with the euro about the only currency gaining more than 1/2-cent. Overnight there wasn’t much movement except in the A$, which is getting sold even though they printed a better than expected Trade Deficit number! Currencies today 1/7/14. American Style: A$ .8940, kiwi .83, C$ .9355, euro 1.3645, sterling 1.6420, Swiss $1.1030, . European Style: rand 10.6130, krone 6.1540, SEK 6.4905, forint 220.50, zloty 3.0615, koruna 20.1320, RUB 33.18, yen 104.45, sing 1.27, HKD 7.7545, INR 62.30, China 6.1042, pesos 13.04, BRL 2.3605, Dollar Index 80.65, Oil $93.93, 10-year 2.96%, Silver $20.00, Platinum $1,416.75, Palladium $738.88, and Gold. $1,237.38 That’s it for today. Congrats to the Florida State football team for winning the NCAA Championship game last night VS Auburn.  I only watched the first half, and thought Auburn had the game under control. But a fake punt gave FSU life, and they went on to win. Our colleague, Mike Harrell aka Cisco, had his FSU shirt on yesterday. So, he’ll be a happy camper today! It was -6 this morning as I started my car. All the schools are closed, which means their Christmas break is even longer. Paul McCartney is singing about somebody knocking on the door, which is one of those songs that get your head bobbing, but certainly doesn’t have a strong meaningful message!  Our little Christine is here, so that means I’m really late getting this out! UGH! So, I hope you have a Tom Terrific Tuesday, and keep warm! Chuck Butler President EverBank World Markets 1-800-926-4922 1-314-647-3837last_img read more

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Living in a small home can be dangerous for senio

first_imgLiving in a small home can be dangerous, for seniors in particular. When I lived in a sub-400-square-foot apartment, basic tasks required Cirque du Soleil-like acrobatics. Pulling out the salad bowl meant hoisting myself on top of the garbage can while holding on to a water pipe, stepping onto the lip of the kitchen sink, and grabbing the bowl with one hand while clutching onto a ceiling overhang with the other—all while avoiding the pots hanging perilously close to my head. Then I’d leap onto the kitchen tile, salad bowl in hand. To store luggage after traveling, I had to simultaneously jump on the bed and hurl my suitcase onto a makeshift shelf above the door. When I didn’t throw it hard enough, I had to leap out of the way to avoid being smashed as it fell back down.“Why not buy a ladder?” I imagine you asking. There was nowhere to put it. No older person should have to perform acrobatics just to live day to day. However, they were a reasonable trade-off for a young, single person who needed a place to live in Manhattan on a budget. Like many of my Gotham compatriots, I lived in a tiny home out of necessity, and I set it up like a yacht cabin: only one, high-quality version of any item. Everything had a place, and everything was in its place—even if I had to climb to get it.Personal Living Space Has Nearly Doubled in the Last 40 Years Outside of pricey cities like New York and San Francisco, living in cramped quarters is not the norm. From 1973 to 2013 the average size of a new home in the US skyrocketed from 1,660 square feet to 2,679. That’s a 61.4% increase, as shown in the chart below. Meanwhile, the size of the average US household has dropped from 3.01 persons to 2.54 persons. That translates into to an average 91.2% per person increase, or 1,054.7 square feet per person, up from 551.5.(Source: American Enterprise Institute) The spike in house size shouldn’t surprise you. Frankly, before I jumped into this topic, I assumed most new houses were even bigger. A bit of international perspective is in order: the average house size in New Zealand is 2,112 square feet; Canada, 1,950 sq. ft.; Japan, 1,420 sq. ft. So, although US homes are generally larger, they’re not entirely out of step with houses in other developed countries. Have new homes simply become cheaper, allowing the size jump without significant added costs for homebuyers? Not particularly. As economist Dr. Mark Perry recently noted in an article for the American Enterprise Institute, “On a per square foot basis using median home prices and median square footage, the inflation-adjusted price of new homes has been relatively stable since 1973 in a range between about $105 and $125 per square foot.” Plus, even if new homes had become cheaper to build and buy on a square footage basis, more space still requires more furniture and gadgets and more upkeep, which all cost more money. That said, unless you’re an ardent conservationist, larger homes aren’t a problem per se. There are a slew of reasons having more personal living space is good, including lower rates of communicable diseases and more places to retreat to when your son is playing the drums or your spouse is doing this or that annoying thing (which no one has linked to lower rates of heart disease, to my knowledge, but I wouldn’t be surprised). On the other hand, stubborn debts and high housing costs are real problems for anyone serious about funding a carefree retirement. The gap between how much Americans need to save for retirement and how much they actually have saved is wide—giant, gaping abyss wide. Last year Ameriprise Financial reported that Americans on average have a $250,000 gap between the amount they’ve saved for retirement and the big bucks necessary to sustain a comfortable retirement. Though it’s a good start, cutting your cappuccino intake won’t magically make $250,000 appear. So, where can a middle-class family find that sort of money? Steven Harrell found a way.A Tiny, Radical Solution to a Soul-Crushing Problem 2008 was the year Harrell got out of debt. He was determined to stay that way. In his late 20s at the time, around the age many people sign up for 30 years or so of mortgage debt, Harrell built a tiny house and opted out of a lifetime of indentured servitude to a large home. Now in his mid 30s and mortgage-free, Harrell is one of a handful of tiny house pioneers. His website, Tiny House Listings, which he runs from a 90 sq. ft. office in North Carolina, provides resources for people building their own tiny homes. For those outside of the do-it-yourself camp, Harrell’s site also lists tiny homes for sale across the country. Just how tiny is “tiny?” Tumbleweed Tiny House Company sells building plans in the 117-874 square-feet range. The smallest are “houses to go” built on wheels, which it sells premade for $57,000 and up. If you cringe at the thought of a trailer, that’s not quite what these are. The Elm model pictured below actually looks quite pleasant in a cool, mountain air sort of way.The Elm, 117 square feet (Source: Tumbleweed Tiny House Company) Tumbleweed also offers plans for slightly larger cottages built on permanent foundations, like the Whidbey cottage, which Lyndsey and Tom Lewis customized to build their 600 sq. ft. Little Rock, Arkansas home shown below.Custom Whidbey Cottage, 600 sq. ft. (Source: At Home Arkansas) Harrell and the Lewises are part of a growing trend. After traveling for the better part of a decade, Christopher Smith was nearing age 30 and ready for a home of his own. He bought 5 acres in the Colorado mountains and set out to build his own tiny house from scratch while documenting the process for the 2013 film TINY: A Story About Living Small. Smith’s story mirrors that of other tiny housers (as they call themselves). He wanted freedom from a pricey mortgage, freedom from costly home maintenance, and freedom from needing to buy lots of stuff to furnish a large space. Sure, these people might sound a bit fringe. Many of them are radically off the grid. Nevertheless, the reason most cite for choosing a tiny house isn’t fringe at all. They want financial freedom, and they’re making radical lifestyle changes to ensure they have it. Of course, you can lower your housing cost some without moving into a 300 sq. ft. tiny house. Architect Sarah Susanka published Not So Big House in 1998 to show people how to get more from smaller, higher quality homes; it’s sold over 1 million copies since. Susanka designs energy-efficient homes, which she describes as “right-sized for the way we really live.” Her latest model is a 1,600 sq. ft., “not so big bungalow”—just about the right size for empty nesters.One Way to Build a $250,000 Bridge The money to bridge a $250,000 retirement gap has to come from somewhere. Otherwise, more and more of the 10,000 baby boomers who retire every day will end up unable to do what they’d wanted with their time, dependent on family or living exclusively off Social Security… or simply disillusioned. For some, a much smaller home could be the answer. Tiny houses are not the solution for everyone’s money woes. After all, homebuilders built larger and larger homes for smaller and smaller families over the last 40 years because that’s what most people wanted to buy. Then again, others think devoting 25-30% of the after-tax income of their dual-income household to a mortgage, paying to maintain and furnish a sizable home, cutting hefty checks for property taxes, and then expecting to somehow find enough money for retirement is lunacy. It’s helpful to know that these people have options. On that note, options for investing well and living a rich retirement no matter how big or small your house or your retirement portfolio might be is what our monthly newsletter, Miller’s Money Forever, is all about. The latest addition to our portfolio is poised to profit from the real estate demands of an aging population, and I’m eager to share it with you. Sign up for a 3-month trial subscription to read more about this pick and gain unfettered access our portfolio, full library of special reports and all of our back issues. If you decide it’s not for you, just call or write within 90 days, and we’ll return every cent you paid. Click here to subscribe to Money Forever now. On the Lighter Side If a tiny house isn’t for you, consider one made of chocolate. Dennis will be back at the helm next week.last_img read more

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