Is buying that house worth it?

Is it better to buy or rent a house? Advice on this problem comes in all shapes and sizes, from the dogmatic idea that homeownership is the American dream, to some more nuanced methods like calculating the price to rent ratio. What would you do if you found a great house and are deciding whether to buy it or keep on renting?house-435618_1280
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Is medical school “worth it”? An introduction to Internal Rate of Return (“IRR”)

Finance hiring is down, law school grads are having a tough time finding real law jobs, so what is an ambitious but risk averse college student to do with his or her life these days? Okay, right now the answer is computer science. Yes seriously, do computer science. But let’s pretend it is the year 2001 and the only other option respectable option is medical school. But doesn’t med school take a lot of time (4 years school plus 3-7 years residency/fellowship) and cost a lot of money? How can we figure out if going to med school and not earning doctor money until 7 years from now is worth it financially relative to just entering the workforce and working for those 7 years? Continue reading

How charitable is your favorite nonprofit?

“The more you give, the more you get, that’s being alive” – The Money Song, Avenue Q

Charitable giving serves a valuable purpose  in  our society. It allows organizations in health, education, social services and others to provide benefits to people who otherwise couldn’t afford them. It allows people who have built up wealth to give back and make a difference. The federal government even subsidizes charitable giving by allowing donations to be deducted from income reported for taxes (effectively kicking in up to 39.6% of each donation). It’s a great system that is meant to fund those people and organizations in need. At least that is how it should be. Continue reading

Why don’t elite universities expand their enrollment?

For high school seniors, January 1st marks the college application deadline, the culmination of months of high stakes essay writing, testing, and filling out applications. This is then followed by four months of anxious waiting for the decisions to come back. Having applied to college over 15 years ago, I’m always shocked at how much harder getting into college appears to have gotten – acceptance rates for top schools have fallen to just 5-8%.  With lower acceptance rates comes increased stress and pressure to perform. Continue reading

Build a marriage tax penalty calculator spreadsheet

Summer and Fall are generally regarded as “Wedding season,” a time when love and celebration are in the air. December, on the other hand, could be regarded as “Should we get legally married for tax reasons before the end of the year” season, a slightly less romantic affair. Continue reading

Build a Spreadsheet to help you choose a healthcare plan

Will you save more with standard PPO or a high-deductible PPO Saver plan with a Health Savings Account?

It is currently Open Enrollment season at many workplaces, which is when employees choose their medical insurance and other benefits plans for the upcoming year. It’s also the time of year when people grumble “why is the US healthcare system so complicated” and just elect whatever plan they had in the prior year. Building a spreadsheet can help someone compare the costs and benefits of each of the plans under a variety of different assumptions about tax rate and healthcare expenditure. Continue reading

Pick up basketball: Should you shoot more 2 pointers or 3 pointers when you play winners’ take?

The NBA basketball season just started last week, and the three point shot is having its moment. Despite some high profile doubters, the Warriors are the reigning NBA champions due to very impressive three point shooting. Also, the total number of three pointers taken in the NBA has steadily risen over the past 35 years.

Is it better to take a three pointer or a two pointer? The theory behind this is pretty simple, and can be done without a spreadsheet. Because a three pointer is worth 50% more than a two pointer, if a team can hit three pointers with at least 2/3 the percentage that they hit two pointers, then they would be better off taking more three pointers. Continue reading