Late-January Update

I was informed by the Mrs. today that I haven’t been posting enough on here lately, so here I am.

Let’s see… what’s new?

Well, we finally signed up to be part of the micro-finance revolution via kiva.org. They make it easy to lend very small increments of money ($25) to entrepreneurs in third world countries. There is a 98.27% repayment rate and the borrowers have been vetted and assisted by various non-profits. I’ve made my first loan to a man operating a cell phone store in Africa. PayPal conducts the transactions for free and the assisting non-profit aggregates loans from several parties, then disperses the funds and collects repayments. The non-profit who is assisting him has a 100% repayment rate on over 7,000 loans. Given the small amount of money I’m lending ($25) I don’t exactly expect to get rich, its just an interesting area where Kate’s and my interests intersect. Additionally, when we have a family one day, it could be an interesting way to teach kids about money, charity and technology. So its fun to give the whole thing a try.
Chukwuma Godspower

Our $25 loan is a part of a $450 loan for him to expand his business. Bear in mind the average annual income in Nigeria is $1,188.
I’ve always had an interest in real estate. I have an (inactive) real estate license and I enjoy reading about legal theory behind property rights. So, after much research, we’re about to embark on a small investment. Presently I’m trying to hammer out the details of a deal for 1 acre of land in a small community in southern New Mexico. Its a planned 9,000 acre development that contains a golf course, 4 stocked trout lakes, an airport, about 350 people, and 500 deer and elk. As a small part of our investment strategy, I’d like to build up a small portfolio of properties over the course of the next 25 years then sell them off at retirement and realize gains at what will hopefully be the long-term average rate of appreciation of real estate in the United States. Its a pretty conservative strategy so I should be able to accomplish what I’m seeking, barring the annexation of New Mexico by the Mexican government or an eruption of a volcano nearby. I figure even if things really tank in real estate, over 30 years, I’m going to come out ahead. This is as good as cash or government bonds, I figure.

In case your curious about terms, this will literally cost me less per day than what I spend on my daily tea and muffin before work. If you want to know more, feel free to ask me in person.

Here is a snapshot of the land. It measures one acre and is buildable. There are a few restrictions, namely no mobile homes and any structures built must be at leas 800 square feet.  There is water to the property, but not electricity. From my research, it looks like once electricity gets there the price of the properties double. What’s required for electricity? Time. We have a verbal agreement presently. I’m drawing up the contract this week and hopefully we’ll get everything signed by the first week of February. If not, its a big country out there with no shortage of investment opportunities.

Kate and I had a rare weekend where we didn’t have too many plans or commitments so we spent a fair amount of time in restaurants. We actually spent a good amount of time trying to find berbere powder to make the Ethiopian dish, doro wat, but we couldn’t track it down, despite Philadelphia probably having the largest Ethiopian population in the country. Saturday consisted of brunch at Jones, which we haven’t been to since our first date all the way back in 2004. Later in the evening we found ourselves at the Burmese place we love called Rangoon. We loaded up on soup. Shockingly, we hadn’t been there in three years. And we love the place! Afterward, we tried to hit up the Max Brenner chocolate place on 15th Street but the wait was 40 minutes. So we, along with our friend Sarah, settled for some really great hot chocolate at Naked Chocolate in University City, but not before trying to get a seat at crowded Parc. And today? A spicy lunch (and dinner take-home) at our favorite Indo-Pak eatery, Kabobeesh.

In our restaurant wanderings, we did get to stop by the architectural salvage yard in Fairmount that we browse through from time to time. If you’re looking for a headless statue of any sort, get in touch — I know a guy.

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