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Stellar Recap | Vicarious Validation & Claiming the Unclaimed

Stella Min
Stella Min
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Vicarious business validation. Several years ago, I started an ambitious list of business ideas and products that I would someday look into. That list has mostly gathered dust as smart entrepreneurs have managed to turn these ideas into reality. For example, after I went to Disney World in 2014, I was enamored with all of the technology I saw there, including these picture frames that played short animations. I wondered why the technology wasn’t available for households. There are digital picture frames that play slide shows of still frame photos but I wanted to reprogram them to play a gif. I briefly pursued the idea but backed off once I considered the risk of patent infringement due to the lucrative world of patent trolling. Intimidated and preoccupied with school, I left the idea on my “someday list”. Well, someday is now. Infinite Objects makes frames for gifs and has capitalized on the growing NFT market. Another one of my ideas that has come to life is a platform that enables others to make money by renting out excess capacity in their homes as temporary storage ( My idea is slightly different in that I think logistics companies could use people’s homes as a delivery stop to store packages. Everyone wins in this system because interested people would have an easy way to make money like they would on Airbnb or TaskRabbit, while transportation companies can make their routes more efficient and businesses could save money by minimizing package theft which is a costly issue. More recently, I thought about the prospects of a travel/lodging subscription for nomads. Companies like Zoku and Selina moved into this space, referred to as micro-apartments, at the start of the pandemic. Zoku is priced around €2,750 a month and is limited to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and Vienna. Selina is more like a hostel and is priced as low as $300 per month for co-living spaces in Central and South America. There’s also a co-living company called Outsite but I couldn’t find information about their fee structure. Notably, all of these subscriptions seem targeted toward younger adults, which I think is short-sighted given the growing retired population. If decisionmakers from these companies would like to consult with a skilled demographer, feel free to send me an email 😎.
Hold, kind of. The results are in from the poll that I posted last week.
What you all said I should do with my ethereum holdings.
What you all said I should do with my ethereum holdings.
🙏 Thanks for your input! 50 percent said hold and 50 percent said sell with the caveat that I should sell part of my earnings to purchase something memorable to encapsulate the experience. I like the idea of purchasing something memorable with part of my ethereum holdings. I’m still considering what to buy and who knows what it will be worth once I do. The crypto market lost around $365.85 billion after Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin. Regardless, I’ll follow up in a future issue about my decision.
More Digital Gems. For weeks now, I’ve been trying to find ways to share the content that I omit in my newsletter. In case you can’t get enough from my newsletter, you can now view all of the digital content that I have bookmarked over the week on my website. I share content that covers topics such as culture and society, psychology and self-improvement, public health and medicine, real estate, work and career, business, finance, and economics, climate, science, and environment, data and tech, education, and politics. I like this approach more than the short snippets that I briefly shared through elink because I’m not limited to 5 posts a day. The downside is that I have to constantly refresh my Raindrop app, which is embedded in my website, to load the most recent articles.
Claiming the unclaimed. I discovered that you can search for unclaimed assets that may belong to you, such as unmanaged retirement accounts, reimbursement fees, or paychecks. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasury departments return over $3 billion to their owners through their website. I went to their website and claimed a $13 check that was issued to me by a company that worked for 12 years ago.
Taxes on home sales. Home values are soaring with the surge in demand over the past year. What does this mean for sellers? If you purchase another home that is of equal or higher in value to the home you sold within the same year, then it simply means you can afford a more expensive house, assuming the home you sold appreciated in value. If you do not plan on purchasing another home within the same year, you have to navigate a maze of IRS regulations. Start with the amount of time you owned the house. If you sold the home in less than 24 months from the date of purchase, any gains will be taxed as ordinary income at your marginal tax rate. You cannot deduct losses from the sale but there are certain circumstances that are exempt from these taxes such as a divorce or relocating for employment. If you owned the house for at least 24 months, then it depends on whether you have other homes and how long you lived in the house you sold. Rental property and vacation homes can affect your tax liability in several ways depending on the amount of time you lived in each property during the past 5 years (see IRS Topic No. 415). Assuming that you lived there for at least 24 months or 730 days within the past 5 years, the next factor to consider is your filing status and the total gain on the property. If you’re married and file jointly, you can exclude up to $500,000 of the gains. Single people or one person from a married couple can file separately and exclude up to $250,000. This is where it gets murky. I learned that there are some potential loopholes regarding these exclusions that may hurt people with home offices and short-term rentals. According to Nolo, if your home office was located within your house, any gains from the sale of the property below the $250k/$500k threshold are not subject to capital gains tax even if you claimed deductions for it. If your home office was outside the main home like an unattached garage or guest house, you must allocate the profit between the house and office and calculate your taxes accordingly. The consensus appears to be the same with my interpretation of IRS Publication 523 for a short-term rental (e.g., a bedroom) within the house accept for their approach on depreciation recapture. This means that certain expenses that were written off for the rental (I’m not sure how this applies to the host or guest fee on short-term rental sites) will be subject to taxes upon selling the property. It looks like even some accountants are confused by these rules, based on the experience of this person who sold their house in San Francisco. Anyway, it’s worth thinking through this all carefully if you want to invest in real estate or if you’re planning to sell property as a form of retirement income. There are several actions you can take to avoid incurring a huge tax liability such as converting a second home into a primary residence or limiting your rental period to 14 days or less, two years before you plan to sell.
Keep in mind that I am unaware of your circumstances and this should not be interpreted as financial advice. Consult with a licensed professional about your specific situation 😬.
Self-reflection and the one thing project
  • What’s one thing you think other people commonly struggle with?
  • What’s one thing that people can do to make other people feel like they are being listened to?
  • Who is one person that you can turn to for advice?
  • Name one class you would take right now, all expenses paid.
  • What’s one book that you would recommend to almost anyone?
Digital Gems
  • Veterinarians are suffering from burnout while servicing the 12.6 million households who got a new pet last year during the pandemic (AP).
  • Four tips from wise elders on what it means to live a good life: be persistent, patient, grateful, and smile (Rewire).
  • Over 40% of Latinx adults reported symptoms of depression during the pandemic versus 25% of non-Hispanics white adults (CDC).
  • The practice of quarantine originated in Italy during the 14th century. Ships that arrived in Venice were required to sit anchored for 40 days before landing (CDC).
  • Morning Brew is accepting crossword puzzle submissions. If your entry is selected, you’ll receive free swag like a t-shirt or mug (Morning Brew submission guidelines).
  • Opportunity to be compensated $1,000 for watching home improvement shows (ReviewHomeWarranties).
  • The CPI increased 4.2% YoY in April 2021 (The Sassyologist), with the core index increasing 0.9% which is the largest spike since the 1980s (WSJ). Overall, 50 of the 52 categories tracked by Nielsen IQ are more expensive now than they were a year ago (LA Times).
  • Thousands were sickened and at least 11 people died from carbon monoxide poisoning during the winter storm that caused severe power outages in Texas. Texas is one of six states that do not require CO detectors in homes (NBC).
  • Yes, researchers often fail to replicate the results of a study. No, the answer isn’t scientific nihilism. There are a lot of decisions that are made throughout the analytical process and different approaches yield different results (New Things Under the Sun).
  • Morgan Stanley recommends doubling down on a mid-cycle investment strategy while hedging against inflation by concentrating on consumer staples, financials, materials, and industrials (Thoughts on the Market podcast; 4 min.).
  • “Asian American” was born out of student-led movement at UC Berkeley to establish an ethnic studies department. However, it’s also a monolithic term that conceals the vast diversity of the individuals it describes (Vox).
  • MarketWatch released a new tool that helps you find where you may want to retire. You can search for characteristics such as temperature, political affiliation, age, and affordability.
  • Red Lobster employees saved a rare calico lobster (named Freckles) just in time to prevent it from becoming someone’s dinner. The chance of catching a calico is 1 in 30 million. (CNN)
  • What it’s like to travel when you’re fat, from hostile reactions from other passengers to the policies that can upend your trip without legal recourse (Vox Quickhits podcast; 11 min.).
  • Insomnia diagnoses increased by 45x and obstructive sleep apnea rose 30x among US service members from 2005 to 2019 (Military).
  • The Cleveland Fed found that truck and car rental prices increased 505% while used car and truck sale prices were 215% (Calculated Risk).
  • Entry-level job postings in the US declined by 68%. Is a position really entry-level when 61% postings require 3+ years of experience (Quartz)?
  • A group of prominent scientists have published a letter in the journal Science, stating that “theories of accidental release from a lab and zoonotic spillover both remain viable.” The theory was largely dismissed and ignored by the WHO (Science).
  • There was a slight increase in the retirement rate over the past year, with (likely involuntary) early retirements driven purely by those without a college degree (The Sassyologist).
  • A new Bitcoin ETF (BITQ) that tracks crypto industry innovators has been listed on the NYSE (Businesswire).
  • A medical resident in San Salvador serenades people as they wait to be jabbed with a COVID-19 vaccine (Noticias Telemundo; 1.39 min.). BTW, I experienced fewer side effects after my second vaccine compared with my first, although I did get a mild fever and experienced fatigue.
  • New Brain-computer interface technology called BrainGate2 enabled a paralyzed man to write at a rate of about 90 characters per minute with a 94% raw accuracy and 99% accuracy with autocorrect, by visualizing letters (Nature).
  • Five lucky adults in Ohio will win $1 million each just for getting the COVID-19 vaccine (CBS).
  • As of Friday, May 14, eight members of the Yankees organization tested positive for COVID-19. All had been fully vaccinated (NBC). They are a unique and relatively rare case of what’s called “breakthrough positives.” As of April 26, the CDC reported that, out the more than 95 million people in the US who were fully vaccinated, there were 9,245 breakthrough infections. Of those, there were 835 hospitalizations and 132 deaths (NYT).
  • The cicadas that emerge every 17 years in the Eastern half of the US, referred to BroodX, have arrived. Apparently, they taste like shrimp and some scientists think we should eat them (Wired).
Want to read more content like this? Follow The Sassyologist or browse through my bookmarks.
Wishing you a productive week
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Stella Min
Stella Min @OhhStellar

Stellar Recap is my personal newsletter where I share digest of interesting media that I've come across during the week, along with any personal updates.

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