Bacon by the Pound

Let’s be clear… I’m a bacon expert.

It’s possible I’ve eaten more bacon than anyone else in the world.

One summer in high school, I ate a pound of bacon a day.

That year, my dad let me skip the annual family vacation to our log cabin in northern Minnesota, which had minimal plumbing and a lake-water shower. He let me stay behind on one condition: I had to paint the house.

I took full advantage of my teenage freedom and put down all the bacon and crunchy peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I could eat.

I’ve never lost the taste for it. Today, I can easily eat bacon by the pound.

But I don’t. While delicious, bacon lacks the nutrients to keep you alive and healthy for long.

A recent news story reminded me of my bacon-filled summer…

Earlier this week, a 17-year-old in the U.K. made headlines after he went partially blind, likely for eating a diet of nothing but French fries, white bread, Pringles, and occasionally sausage or ham. He only has peripheral vision now, meaning he can’t read, watch TV, or drive. And it’s permanent.

According to researchers, he had low levels of copper, selenium, and vitamin B-12 (among other nutrient problems).

This is an extreme case and not one we often see in the U.K. or in America thanks to how readily available healthy food is… but it’s a good reminder to make sure you’re eating a varied diet.

Folks around the office like to joke about my love of blueberries… They’re an incredible superfood. But I would never recommend a blueberry-only diet.

Not only would your health suffer, but life would be just a little bit less interesting. So do what I do and keep filling your day with a variety of foods… like fish, nuts, and colorful fruits and veggies. (And make sure your kids are too.)

But feel free to chow down on some bacon from time to time.

What food could you eat by the pound? Share your favorites with us… [email protected].

Q: How does one reconcile the wise advice about position sizing against letting winners run (that is, when the winner starts representing a lot higher percentage of one’s portfolio than would be prudent for a new buy)? – D.L.

A: As a position rises in value, you’ll have to think about trimming it.

Say a holding starts at 5% of your portfolio, and it climbs to 6%. That’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to trim each time the stock ticks up.

But if it rose to 10% – meaning you’ve got twice the investment in this stock as the rest of your portfolio – clearly you better have strong conviction to double up.

There’s no bright line, but for us the decision comes somewhere between 5% and 10%. If you’re willing to take larger risks by concentrating your portfolio, you could let it go higher.

Q: Do you have a write-up on colonoscopy… especially for 70+ females? I’m a longtime member and can look at archives with a little direction. Thanks for caring for us! – J.S.

A: Thank you for being a reader, J.S.

Screening for colorectal cancer is one of the few essential medical tests.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is a panel of 16 MDs and PhDs whose specialties range from behavioral health to pediatrics. These experts look at research and make recommendations on the usefulness of screenings, counseling services, and preventative medications. They write guidelines that any doctor worth his salt will follow.

The USPSTF recommends screening for adults aged 50 to 75 years old. For folks aged 76 to 85, the USPSTF recommends screening in adults who have never been screened or who have a long life expectancy. But it largely depends on individual circumstances. From ages 86 and on, evidence shows there’s no benefit to screening.

Types of screening include fecal occult blood testing, sigmoidoscopy, and colonoscopy.

I always advise readers to do their own research and take a close look at the risks and benefits before undergoing any medical procedure or treatment.

You can read more from us here. And we also have tips to keep your colon healthy here.

Q: You did not mention money market accounts/mutual funds. Think they have some insurance coverage and pay interest about on par with short term CDs. Some have check writing but with restricted amounts. Don’t think they keep up with inflation but at least some of them avoid federal income tax. – R.S.

A: A money market account (MMA), sometimes called a money market deposit account, will usually have higher minimum deposit requirements. This can be as low as $500 or as high as $1,000, and they often pay a higher interest rate. With a current national average of 0.19%, an MMA can potentially double the interest you’d make in a savings account. One-year CDs pay, on average, 0.55%, but if you have to get your money out before the CD term expires, you’ll have to pay a penalty.

Money market mutual funds (MMMFs)are different…

When you branch out into MMMFs, like what you’ll find at your brokerage, you do not have an FDIC guarantee. You now face the risk of loss – however small. You have become an investor, and not a saver.

And just like investing, MMMFs have risks. They use securities like short-term Treasury bonds and T-bills, but they also use things like overnight repurchase agreements, or “repos.” This is a complex system whereby a bank will borrow $99.99 overnight and pay back $100 the next day. Of course, this is happening on the scale of trillions of dollars.

This is called the “shadow banking” system. It works well almost all the time. But when things go wrong, there’s trouble… like the 2008 financial crisis.

You might avoid taxes, depending on what the fund invests in. The biggest drawback is the lack of easy access to your cash. If you need to withdraw your cash from your broker, it can take several days to get the money out of your brokerage account.

Keep that in mind when deciding where to park your cash.

What We’re Reading…

Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
September 6, 2019