Monthly Update

November 2021 Update

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November 2021 Update

I started this blog two years ago. Hurray for my blog-a-versary. I’ve done a pretty good job with weekly posts that at a minimum have interested myself, if few others. I find I never lack for topics and writing regularly has been clarifying.

That said, I’m going to pump the brakes on blog posts during December to open up more space for family time and a book project that I’ve been working on over the past 5 months and that I hope to finish by the end of the year. I’ve found it difficult to both keep up with my blog and also have time to finish my book. I’m still looking for beta readers, so let me know if you’re interested in reading an early draft.

Stock Option Financing Spam

This month I received an interesting unsolicited email through my HealthyCo[1] email address. I’ve only had the email account for a little over a month and I have yet to give it out to anyone, so I found it a little surprising. I suppose the sender guessed my email address, but I really don’t know.

The email was targeting me because I’d just left StartupInc. My guess is that when an employee of a startup leaves before the startup is acquired or goes public, that they may have unexercised options. The current rules are that you must exercise any vested options within 90 days of departure, or you forfeit them altogether. Furthermore, when an employee leaves after several years, it’s highly likely that either the cost of exercising or the potential AMT tax are so large that an employee can’t realistically exercise the shares. Or maybe both.

So, enter our intrepid spammer. He’s shut out of buying pre-IPO in the startup, but perhaps the next best thing is to help exiting employees exercise shares that would go unexercised otherwise, effectively buying the stock in proxy. It’s a win-win situation, right?

To me, it feels scummy. Happily, I don’t need his help exercising and I probably wouldn’t accept the help if I couldn’t. Because at the end of the day, it involves loan terms that are probably not to the employee’s advantage.

But I’ll probably never know what the loan terms are. I replied to the email, thinking that maybe it could provide some fodder for my blog. Which it did, but not in the way I expected. I sent a reply, asking for more details and I have received no reply. Perhaps it was my “I’m not interested in a phone conversation until I see some numbers” that turned him off. Either way, it seems like there’s no appetite to followup. Good riddance.

New 401k Plan At HealthyCo

The benefits team came through and it looks like we’ll have a 401k in 2022. The provider they chose is WTIA. I will find out next week what the fees will look like, but the fund selection includes popular Vanguard index funds such as VTSAX. I suspect that there will be an admin fee ranging between 0.15% to 1.0%. I suspect it’ll be closer to the latter than the former. I don’t plan on rolling in any other plans to be subject to this fee. 

It doesn’t look like there’s any Roth or mega backdoor Roth options, but I suspect the mega backdoor will be ended by Congress in 2022. I also suspect that there might be an interesting blog post about whether participating is still worth it in the face of high administrative fees.

Other Odds and Ends

  • <sigh> In early November it looked like Congress had reversed tack on their quest to kill the backdoor Roth. Hurray! Then, a scant week later it was back on the chopping block. I suspect it will die this year, mostly because I suspect truly wealthy donors don’t care that much about socking away a measly $12k/married-couple each year. That and I suspect the ranks of upper middle class that are aware of and use the tactic just aren’t a big enough voice or have any sympathy from the progressives. Fingers crossed that it survives. I personally don’t think it’s a big tax loophole for the country nor in the same ballpark as Peter Thiel’s shenanigans.
  • Hat tip to MyMoneyBlog for the $100 Fidelity offer. I signed up, as did my wife. Opening another couple brokerage accounts, funding them with $50, and keeping it there for 90 days to earn $100 seems like a no brainer to me. Yes, this does make my addiction to personal finance complexity two accounts bigger.
  • It doesn’t take much to pierce the privacy veil. Some of my readers are former co-workers or even family, but not everyone. I dropped enough clues both on the blog and in an email conversation that they were able to piece it together to find me on LinkedIn. Mildly amusing.
  • Virginia 529 is running a special that if you buy a $50 gift card, you get a bonus $10 gift card. Both gift cards can be redeemed into your own 529 account. Even if you’re using 529s from a different state, it would make sense to open an account just for this deal. Details here. Offer expires December 16, or until they reach 10,000 redemptions. You’ll get the bonus card sometime in January.
  • I’ve been playing around with Nuxtjs, with the intent to replace this blog with it come next November when my hosting is up for renewal. I’ll put together a post in the future detailing what features I’ll gain and lose. Hosting it on Netlify will be free-ninety-free, which is probably the biggest advantage.
  • We had fun hiking the Cascade Falls loop in Patapsco Valley State Park earlier this month. When we entered the fee area, we were flagged through with “someone already paid for you”. We were meeting my sister there but she arrived after us, so I have no idea who this mystery “someone” was. Beautiful waterfalls and paths, dotted with mountain bikers enjoying the autumnal weather.
Cascade Falls, Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

From the Bookshelf

I usually have four books going at a time. If you like what you read on this blog, one way to support my writing is by clicking on one of my book links. It won’t cost you any more and I’ll get a tiny referral fee. /mendication

Here’s what I read this month:

  • The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (Hunger Games #0) by Suzanne Collins. I picked this up when my second oldest added it to her queue, feeling it was a good way to build more connection with her in the final period before she flies the coop. Like her older sister, she’s starting to grow out of listening to her dad read out-loud.
  • The Happiness Curve: Why Life Gets Better After 50 by Jonathan Rauch. This book has a great message for anyone stuck in the malaise of their mid- to late-forties: life gets better as you transition to later life. One idea that I found surprising is that the elderly are much more happier than anyone thinks, themselves included.
  • The Grip of the Shadow Plague (Fablehaven, #3) by Brandon Mull. The kids love hearing of the adventures of Seth and Kendra. My wife overheard me reading it and let’s just say that she’s still not a fan of nonsensical fantasy.


How was your November? Read anything interesting or inspiring this month? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Hasta luego!

[1] HealthyCo: My working name for the healthcare startup that I’m currently at.

2 thoughts on “November 2021 Update

    1. Thanks for the tip.

      We had our intro meeting to the 401k plan yesterday. When I asked about how much the administrative fee was, neither the person from the 401k company nor our HR consultant could answer the question immediately. They said they’d need to get back to me. Part of this is a function of being just one company in a portfolio of ~40 companies, with each company doing something different. But it’s also a part of no one really understanding or caring about the negative impact of high fees. There was a bit of “who knows how much SS there will be” FUD.

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