• Why Investors Should Have a Self Directed IRA

    Alright folks, it’s time to talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly of self-directed IRAs. Now, I know some of you might be wondering, “What the hell is a self-directed IRA?” Well, let me break it down for you in terms that even your grandma could understand.

    First, let’s talk about the good. The beauty of a self-directed IRA is that it puts you in control of your retirement savings. Instead of relying on a financial advisor to make decisions for you, you get to call the shots. You can invest in everything from real estate to precious metals, and you can do it all tax-free until you retire.

    But, as with anything, there are downsides to consider. One of the biggest cons of a self-directed IRA is the potential for fraud. Scammers love to prey on unsuspecting investors, and the self-directed IRA space is no exception. So, you’ll need to do your due diligence and make sure you’re working with a reputable custodian.

    Another potential downside is the complexity of the investments themselves. If you’re investing in something like real estate, you’ll need to have a solid understanding of the market, the property, and the legal requirements. This can be a lot of work, but if you’re up for the challenge, the potential rewards can be significant.

    Now, let me put on my professor hat for a minute and give you a bit more detail. The self-directed IRA is a type of individual retirement account that allows you to invest in a wide range of assets beyond just stocks and bonds. You can invest in things like rental properties, private equity, and even cryptocurrency.

    This has many investors asking, “Can you buy physical gold in an IRA?”, and the answer is yes you can, but you need to work with a company that knows how to setup these accounts correctly because there are some important rules you must follow to steer clear of the IRS.

    However, with great power comes great responsibility. You’ll need to ensure that your investments are compliant with IRS regulations and that you’re not engaging in any prohibited transactions. This is where a good custodian comes in – they’ll help you navigate the complex rules and regulations of the self-directed IRA space.

    Now, let me lighten the mood a bit with a joke. Why did the tomato turn red? Because it saw the salad dressing! Okay, maybe I’m not as funny as Dave Attell, but I try.

    A self-directed IRA can be a powerful tool for taking control of your retirement savings. However, it’s not without its risks and complexities. So, if you’re thinking about going the self-directed route, make sure you do your homework and work with a reputable custodian. And, as always, remember to keep your sense of humor – life’s too short to take everything too seriously.

    I get a lot of questions from new investors and I am happy to help out my fellow investing newbies.

    Here are some questions and answers to help you better understand self-directed IRAs:

    When is it better to use a self-directed IRA over a traditional IRA?

    A self-directed IRA can be a powerful tool for investors who want more control over their retirement savings and a wider range of investment options. Here are some situations in which a self-directed IRA might be a better choice than a traditional IRA:

    You’re interested in investing in alternative assets: If you’re looking to invest in things like real estate, private equity, or cryptocurrency, a self-directed IRA can give you the flexibility to do so. Traditional IRAs are typically limited to ETF’s, mutual funds, stocks, and bonds.

    You have a solid understanding of the markets and investments: With a self-directed IRA, you’re responsible for making your own investment decisions. If you have experience and knowledge of the markets and specific investments, you may be better equipped to manage your own portfolio.

    You’re comfortable with the potential risks and complexities: Self-directed IRAs can be more complex than traditional IRAs, and there’s a higher potential for fraud and other risks. If you’re up for the challenge and willing to do your homework, a self-directed IRA could be a good fit for you.

    That being said, a traditional IRA can still be a great option for many investors. They’re typically simpler and easier to manage, and they offer tax benefits that can be quite valuable.

    Can I invest in anything I want with a self-directed IRA?

    While the range of potential investments is quite broad, there are some restrictions to be aware of. You cannot invest in collectibles, life insurance, or anything that involves a disqualified person, such as a close family member.

    How do I find a good custodian for my self-directed IRA?

    It’s important to do your due diligence and research potential custodians carefully. Look for a company with a strong track record, good customer reviews, and a commitment to compliance. Ask for referrals from other investors or do a Google search for “best self-directed IRA custodians” to get started.

    What are the tax implications of a self-directed IRA?

    The tax benefits of a self-directed IRA are similar to those of a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA, depending on which type you choose. You won’t pay taxes on your gains until you begin making withdrawals during retirement. However, it’s important to note that there are different tax rules for different types of investments, so make sure you’re aware of the tax implications of each investment you make.

    Do I need to be an experienced investor to have a self-directed IRA?

    Not necessarily, but it does help to have a solid understanding of the markets and investments you’re interested in. If you’re new to investing, consider starting with a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA and working your way up to a self-directed IRA. And don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek out resources to help you learn.

    Can I manage my own self-directed IRA?

    Yes, you can manage your own self-directed IRA, but it’s important to remember that this is a big responsibility. Make sure you’re up for the challenge before diving in. Alternatively, you can work with a professional advisor or investment firm to help you manage your self-directed IRA.

    Hope that helps! As always, do your homework, be careful, and remember to have a little fun along the way.

  • Learn How It Works

    Making beer is not rocket science, but you do need to know the basics. To brew beer you will need the proper ingredients and some specialized equipment.

    The beer-making process can be broken down into three major phases, wort creation, fermenting, and finally bottling and packaging. The most difficult and technical part of brewing is the creation of wort. If you get this part wrong your beer will be ruined and undrinkable.

    The wort stage is where you ferment sugars from the malts and blend them into the flavors from the hops. The malts look like little grains similar to rice and the hops look like little flower buds. The combination of these two ingredients, which boiled for some time, creates the wort.

    After the wort is made the next step is fermentation. Fermentation is when you take the wort and combine it with yeast that is specifically designed to take the sugars from the wort and convert them into carbon dioxide and ethanol. 

    There are many different types of yeast. There is yeast to make bread, there is yeast to make wine, and there is yeast to make beer. Oddly enough, some winemakers will not add yeast, and just let the natural yeast that occurs in the air and on the grapes take hold and ferment the wine. But with beer, the process is controlled and special yeasts are used to get particular flavor profiles in the beer. 

    This process takes place in stainless steel fermentation tanks. 

    Your local craft brewpub will likely use something small like a 3 bbl brewhouse to brew the beer, whereas larger facilities will have brewing systems that can handle hundreds or even thousands of barrels at once.  

    During the fermentation stage, there is not much for the brewer to do except to have patience with the process that takes place, and also to monitor things like the temperatures of the tanks to ensure a stable environment that allows for a complete fermentation.

    The process that involves converting yeast to glucose in the wort to carbon dioxide and ethyl is called fermentation. This is what gives carbonation to the beer, as well as its alcohol content. The fermentation process starts by transferring the cooled wort into a vessel. The vessel will already have yeast in it.

    If ale is being made, then the wort will be kept in the vessel at a temperature of 68F. It’ll remain stored at that temperature for two weeks. If lager is being made, then then it will be stored for around six weeks at a temperature of 48F. The vessels need to be constantly cooled because the fermentation process produces lots of heat.

    Generally speaking, there are fermentation tanks that can hold more than 2,000 gallons, which means four batches of wort would be needed to fill a single tank. The minimum length of time the fermentation process can be completed is two weeks. How much a brewery can produce does depend on the number of tanks they have.

    When the wort is initially added to the yeast, the mixture’s gravity is measured. It might be measured again further down the line. This is done to determine the beer’s alcohol content and to know when the fermentation process is completed.

    A long narrow vent pipe is connected to the fermenter, but other than that it remains sealed from the air. This is to let carbon dioxide escape. The outdoor air doesn’t get into the fermenter because the CO2 that constantly flows through the pipe prevents it from entering.

    Towards the end of the fermentation process, the yeast will begin to settle at the bottom of the tank. The fermenter is designed in a way that makes it easy for the yeast to capture and remove. Once removed, the yeast is kept to the side and used in the next batch.

    Before the yeast needs to be replaced, it can be used several times. When the yeast is mutated and the taste is altered, then it is replaced. When it comes to commercial brewing, consistency is everything.

    The vent tube is also capped during the fermentation process. This is to seal the vessel off from the air. Throughout the process, CO2 will be produced and pressure continues to build. This is what creates beer’s carbonation, for the most part.

    Later on in the process, the rest of the carbonation is added. After this is done, the beer remains pressurized. During bottling, it won’t remain under pressure, but this is only for a brief period.

    Once fermentation is completed, the beer is cooled. During this time, the rest of the yeast will settle at the bottom of the vessel. Other proteins and residue will gather at the bottom, too.

    Once the solids have gathered at the bottom, the beer will be removed from the fermenter. The remaining solids will be filtered out, and then the beer will be transferred to another tank. This is where it will remain until it is bottled up or placed in a keg. If needed, carbon dioxide will be adjusted, as this is done is to add more CO2 to the beer.

    One of the most important aspects of successfully brewing beer is also the least interesting and that is sanitation. It is critical to keep everything surgically clean.  

    All tools and containers that come into contact with all ingredients of the brewing process must not only be clean but they must be sanitized. This is the part of the process where a lot of beginners make mistakes. They don’t realize how hard it is to keep everything clean and sanitized.

    Brewmasters often learn the hard way how important sanitation is because they will ruin a few batches of beer due to contamination.

    This is just a broad overview of the brewing process. While it can sound intimidating at first brewing is like anything, the more you do it, the better you get at it. With time and experience, you will be more comfortable and make better beer.  

  • Taking a Tour

    Traveling abroad is not always to a foreign destination. From Raleigh, it’s about 2200 miles to Mexico City, yet by adding a mere 600 more miles you can get to Seattle, Washington, right here in the good old USA. We traveled there recently for a family wedding. The wedding was in Pasco, Washington, inland from Seattle about 180 miles.

    Nestled on the beautiful Columbia river along with sister cities Kennewick and Richland, Pasco makes up a region nicknamed “the Tri-Cities.” Pasco still feels like small-town America that most of the country only see in Hollywood movies. Back yard cook-outs and warm summer nights at the ballpark combine with loved ones to weave memories that will last for a lifetime. And did I mention there was also a wedding? All in all, it was a wonderful few days in Pasco.

    We Did the Seattle Sightseeing Tourist Thing!
    Seattle is just great! There I’ve said it. I couldn’t help myself, It has been weeks since we visited that beautiful jewel of a city and I still can’t stop thinking about it. There is so much to see and experience that the three days we spent have forever burned a place in my memory.

    Had To Check Out The Space Needle
    We flew in on Tuesday and immediately headed to the Space Needle. I’ve been wanting to see it since 1962 when it was built for the World’s fair. At 605 feet tall it is one of the most outstanding and well-recognized landmarks in America. Built with the elements in mind, it was designed to withstand 200 miles an hour winds and an earthquake of a magnitude of just over 9. It costs 19 bucks a head to ride the elevator to the observation tower. ( only 17 for oldies ) From there you can see just about everything.

    We stayed at a hotel just about 4 blocks from the Space Needle on 5th Ave. called “The Five.” I have to be perfectly honest, the “five” stand for the avenue – not the stars of the hotel. It was about a “2”. But it was just a few feet from one of Seattle’s brightest spots “Top Pot.” In case you haven’t heard, Top Pot has, arguably, the best doughnuts in the entire fried-dough loving world. My favorite was Blueberry Cinnamon! I quickly realized why God has given us two hands, obviously for two doughnuts. The doughnuts were almost an essential part of the day because of another Seattle favorite-Starbuck’s.

    Starbucks, Of Course

    There are about one hundred and three Starbucks in Seattle. You have to try hard to be out of sight of a Starbucks. They are everywhere.

    Aviation Museum Tour
    On Wednesday morning we were met at the hotel by an odd fellow with an old aviator’s hat on who turned out to be our driver and tour guide to the Boeing Airplane plant. They assemble most of their huge airliners in a building that is reportedly the biggest (per volume) in the world. Inside this plant, there are rows of huge 787’s and 767’s and restaurants, day-care, and hospital facilities for the workers. And, when you look up, there is probably room for another floor of the same size. Our guide turned out to be Seattle native and an avid history buff. During our ride to the pant he taught us much about the local history and especially about Howard Hughes. If you ever get the chance take the Boeing tour.

    Pike’s Market
    No trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to the Pike’s Public Market at Pike’s pier. It’s a great place to see large fish being thrown across the room or just to have a quiet lunch in one of the many fine restaurants. Some of the finest produce is on display with many foods I had never even heard of. (at least I think they were foods)

    Ride The Ducks of Seattle
    We acted just like tourists and took a ride on the famous “Duck Boat Tour.”, also know as Ride The Ducks of Seattle These are strange amphibious boats built to cruise around the city like an open bus and then abruptly drive into a nearby lake or river or an offshore tour. It’s a lot of fun. They have these in many cities and are a great way to see an area from a different perspective.

    A must-see in Seattle is a tour of Lake Union and nearby waters. We took a trip on a nice tour boat. It had a top deck for viewing or just soaking up the sun and also a bar for cool adult beverages. Lake Union is the most used little lake I have ever seen. While just standing in one place you can see a fleet of kids in little boats learning the basics of sailing, large sailboats coming in from Puget sound, 100-year-old houseboats, still floating on logs, kayakers, motor-boaters, and, to top it off, multiple seaplanes taking off and landing through it all. It’s like watching a three-ring circus. All of this is surrounded by the bustling city.

  • Returning Home



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