Max’s Back Pocket Vol. VII

Another Saturday is here and is see flurries coming down again. Aside from the cold weather, I have to say this has been my best week yet coping with our new normal. I am not exactly sure what clicked, but my overall stress level has normalized and my mood has generally been positive about everything. It is pretty amazing how adaptable humans are. I already enjoy the simple things life has to offer, but that seems to be on a whole new level. Now, it’s Saturday coffee time.

I almost called the series Coffee With Max

I think I mentioned last week that Mrs. Max OOP will officially teach from home for the remainder of the year. She is technically a part-time teacher coming in at 0.6 of an FTE (full-time employee). Yes, FTE, that’s what finance people like me call all you worker-bees. It seems like teaching from home has actually increased her workload and the number of hours spent on work-related tasks. But then again, working from home has eliminated an eleven-mile/18-minute commute twice per day. That’s about 180 miles per week Mrs. Max OOP stays off the road and an extra 3 hours added back into her time each week. The 2020 IRS mileage rate would value that at about $103.50 per week.

180 miles X $.575 = $103.50 per week

Our actual weekly financial pick up from eliminating the commute probably isn’t close to $103.50 because Mrs. Max OOP drives a reasonable vehicle. The weekly cost for her 2007 Honda Civic to make the 180-mile weekly trip is probably closer to $20.00, but I will still take it. According to our 2019 spending, we spend about $140/month on gas, but April may very well come in at $0.00.

It’s a pretty drive though, so we did make the commute on Thursday for a good reason. Her school put on a dinner where we could pay $15.00 for pizza, wings, and fresh-cut fries. I believe they plan on doing this for the next few weeks, so we wanted to test run it for the first week. It was enough food to cover us for two nights. Not great for my elevated cholesterol reading from earlier this year, but I ate oatmeal four out of five days this week to offset some of this.

Max’s Back Pocket

Over the last several years, I have absorbed a ton of great content from a lot of talented people in and around the internet. Several of those ideas even got implemented into my personal finance strategy. Some of these people are professionals, but a lot of them are just amateurs throwing their weight around in a random niche. I like to think I am pretty good at healthcare and personal finance, but there are plenty of people out there much smarter than me.

Up until now, most of these ideas just landed in my back pocket. There they would sit for my own benefit whenever I needed them. They were rarely shared or exchanged with anyone in my personal network. These days, that is no longer the case. Max will start scouring the entire internet for these ideas in a weekly effort to not only spread but recognize the wealth of knowledge that is out there. This weekly check-in will also give me an excuse to catch up on what’s going on around here more often. What are we calling this idiomatic experiment?

Max’s Back Pocket.

Personal Finance

After taking about a week off writing, I feel ready to move this little project forward. Thankfully, Kim from The Frugal Engineers filled in the gap with some great ideas on how to pandemic-proof your finances. This was Max Out of Pocket’s inaugural guest post and Kim had a ton of great ideas to share. She was spot-on in highlighting that although pandemics are relatively rare, national emergencies and economic collapses are much more common. It is best to plan for these things before they happen.

Speaking of economic collapse, I thought I would bring back a 2012 classic form JL Collins.

Stocks — Part 1: There’s a major market crash coming!!!!

I remember reading this years ago. He went through a timeline of seven or eight market crashes he has experienced over his lifetime. It looks like he has another one to add called “COVID-19: 2020”. It’s a timeless read and if you have an afternoon I would read the whole stock series.

Speaking of the COVID-19 crash, it almost seems like it has come and gone already. Meanwhile, almost no one in my community is actually working. How could that be? No money, no mission, right? Ben Carleson from Fortune has a theory that the Fed may have fundamentally altered the nature of risk in the stock market. This is a pretty interesting read and almost suggests that because of the Fed’s interaction with the market, we should expect lower returns in the stock market because the risk premium has been reduced.

There are legitimate reasons for this, but theoretically, this should mean lower expected returns. The Federal Reserve has shown in the past two crises that it will likely be more involved in the markets than ever before. I don’t expect this to change anytime soon. If anything, the Fed’s involvement will only increase in the future.

Ben Carlson, CFA

Hopefully, lower returns don’t become a reality. That said, in light of the recent market crash I have been taking a closer look at my cash allocation. Next week I will share just how much cash the Max Out of Pocket crew holds in our portfolio.


I have been playing around a lot on Twitter. I was warned it is a time suck, and I can certainly vouch for that, but I am seeing some glimmers of hope for Twitter.

Healthcare Leadership #HCLDR does a weekly educational tweet chat Tuesdays at 8:30 pm Eastern (North America). I have participated in two or three of these and find the “conversation” productive and interesting. Every week they pick four topic questions for discussion and people from all over the world participate in the conversation. As a Twitter novice, it took me a little while to get used to the format, but I feel pretty comfortable with it now.

It seems like I am one of the few who are using a “pen name,” but no one seems to mind. I disclose my region and my background during the introduction, so people seem to know I am a serious professional.

This week they lightened up the topics since COVID-19 has been dominating our lives for the last several weeks. I had some fun with topic 3:

T3: What has given you the biggest smile since the COVID-19 restrictions started?

If you are on Twitter, join us next week!

I also use Twitter to occasionally correct misinformation or oversimplification of our healthcare system. Don’t worry, I like Justin a lot and he happens to live not too far from where we lived when we were down South.


The Max Out of Pocket crew is hanging in there. That includes our sick cat, Charlotte. Her battle with oral squamous cell carcinoma continues to amaze me. She is in month three since being diagnosed and her personality has not changed a bit. Charlotte had a visit to the vet this week to get an antibiotic. The exchange occurred in the parking lot due to COVID-19.

She accidentally scratched her cheak last week so she gets to wear the cone for a little awhile.

Maine Coon exploring the vet’s new waiting room

I mentioned last week that I was going to file my taxes over the weekend. As it turns out, poor tax planning led to a decent refund on my 2019 tax return. So there was no need to take advantage of the due date extension out to July 15th. No sense in extending my interest-free loan to the government.

This year I scanned all my supporting documentation into Google Docs and will likely also scan everything into Turbo tax. I would rather not have to worry about keeping hard copies of everything organized.

It was a good, productive week. But it is also important to remember we aren’t all on the same wavelength, so just because I am having a good week doesn’t mean everyone I interact with is too.

How was your week?


1 Response

  1. My week was consistent of the new typical but things maybe changing soon, our governor is planning on opening the state soon. I have tried to keep my routine normalish just to give me more time to be productive, which seems to work most of the time. I enjoyed the cone-of-shame photo! Its a great reminder of how resilient animals are. And maybe humans too. 🙂

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