3 Meals in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai is a great foodie city, with a wide range of dining options and an even wider range of price points.  It is possible to spend a single dollar on a good meal, and is seemingly difficult to spend $100.

For a guy who could eat Thai food every day for the rest of his life, I am in food heaven.  Noodles, many different curries, tons of fresh tropical fruit, and Thai style tea and coffee are always within an easy walk.

We’ve done our best to explore the breadth in our 10 days and counting.  This is what we’ve enjoyed so far.

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Our $375 a Month Apartment in Chiang Mai, Thailand

We’ve recently hit the road again with an open-ended itinerary.
First stop: Chiang Mai, Thailand.

In our wild and care free days without a child, we would just arrive at a new destination and hunt for housing. We’ve found some incredible apartments in multiple countries this way.  This time around Google did the heavy lifting, finding us a new studio service apartment 5 minutes from the Chiang Mai Gate.

For $375/month, we get everything on our list: roof top pool, well equipped gym, outdoor space, regular cleaning service, kitchen, great shower, and central location.

On to the tour…

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Obamacare Optimization vs Tax Minimization


Balance (photo credit)

Optimizing Obamacare vs Minimizing Taxes presents a classic trade-off.

On the one hand, it would be nice to maximize Obamacare subsidies.  Easy! Simply don’t generate a lot of income.

On the other hand, we want to minimize taxes. We do this by offsetting income with standard deductions and personal exemptions, and generating (a large amount of) income that has preferential tax treatment.

But for the ACA, there is no preferential tax treatment.  There is no standard deduction, no personal exemptions.

In this post, I explore how to navigate this complex environment in order to optimize health insurance premiums, out of pocket medical expenses, and taxes.  Can we find the balance?

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Obamacare Optimization in Early Retirement

Image-Affordable-Care-Act-logo-genericIn all likelihood, an early retiree in the United States is going to purchase ACA (Obamacare) compliant Health Insurance on the Federal or a State Health Insurance Marketplace.

Even though the ACA has provided common standards, Health Insurance is still a complex topic with numerous trade-offs. Coverage levels and premiums vary.  Every insurance company has a different approach to cost sharing.  Each State has a slightly different implementation, maybe a different website, and wildly different prices.

Subsidies may pay nearly all of your premium, or they may cover nothing.  It isn’t always clear which will apply until after the fact.  As a result, some will get an extra large tax bill at the end of the year, while others will pay too much each month.  They may even provide a disincentive to earn a higher income.

But much like the Income Tax, those who understand the the system can optimize their income and investments.  Knowledge is power.  Optimizing Obamacare starts with understanding the system.  Then we can make choices to minimize costs and maximize coverage.

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Why I Don’t Love 5-Star Hotels

What a View!

Room with a View! (Osaka, Japan)

I’ve spent my fair share of nights in 5-star hotels.  Apparently I have Starwood Preferred Guest Lifetime Gold status due to my 307 nights spent in Sheraton, Westin, Le Meridian, and W hotels over the years.  (More than 1 Year of work days!)  They are wonderfully convenient and predictable.

Public spaces are warm and inviting, beautifully decorated with plenty of natural light and artwork you would expect to find in a museum. The interior designer is well known by those who know interior designers.

Rooms are spacious and comfortable, with large heavenly beds and lush pillows.  The sheet thread count is at least 4 digits, and the complimentary bath robe is something you would happily wear all weekend.  The shower experience is certain to make you consider a home bathroom redesign (and 10 million times better than our shower in San Pedro, Guatemala.)

The staff is friendly and remembers your name.  “Welcome back, Mr. & Mrs. GCC.”  When was the last time anybody called me Mister? Anything you need, they deliver with a smile.

Indeed, 5-star hotels are very nice.  But I don’t love them. On our list of preferred places to stay, they are last.

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