This is always one of my favorite articles to write… and, I hope, your favorite articles to read.

Because, quite simply, a lot of the investments and strategies we talk about here are so unique, — and so new to so many people — you inevitably have questions.

And we have answers.

So enough of me talking. Let’s hear from you.

I have five late notices on my credit report, three of which were literally a few dollars or a few cents because I pay all my bills by automatic online banking, and one month or the other might have been slightly over the usual amount, the reporting of which would’ve been a month later. How do I remove these late notices or their impact on my credit score, please?

Also, are there any reliable companies that you recommend for credit repair? With all the scams out there, it’s really hard to ascertain who could actually help improve your credit score.

— Leena M.

Hi, Leena. I’m sorry to hear you’re going through such a frustrating credit report experience.
And you’re a great example of why I don’t like to pay credit cards with automatic payments. Too many things can go wrong.

If you’re only paying a set amount, it might be less than you need to pay (as happened to you).

If you select to pay in full every month, you might get an unexpected bill that takes your attached banking account negative… which would result in the equivalent of a bounced check, a bunch of overdraft fees and you’ll still wind up with a late payment on your report.

So to start off — let’s not let the problem get any worse. Take any variable bills you have and get them off your automatic payment system. If you don’t have an attached account that can afford to pay off a variable credit bill every month without worry, you shouldn’t take the risk.

Instead, pick a day each month when you sit down and pay off all your credit cards. The first works for most people, but it can be any day. Just so long as you do it religiously.

Now, to get a late payment removed — assuming it’s accurate — you only really have one option…

Call or write the company that reported your payment late and ask for forgiveness.

It helps if you can provide an explanation and backup — in your case, you can show the payment that came in just a few pennies short and argue it was an honest error but not really a late payment.

They have discretion whether or not to remove the late payment. You won’t get there until you’ve escalated to a manager or supervisor, politely — remember you’re asking for a favor — and then you hope.

As for credit repair services, I can’t speak from personal experience. But I know many folk like Lexington Law, which is highly rated by many people, has been in business for over 27 years and has over 1 million customers. I don’t know if they’ll be able to help you, but I do know they aren’t a scam.

While I generally agree with your recommendation to avoid gold jewelry as an investment in the U.S., there are markets where gold jewelry is essentially sold equivalent to gold bar weight with no premium for craftsmanship. So a well-made piece of jewelry (providing you can depend on an honest valuation of purity) can be a worthwhile investment, especially if the wearer is pleased with it.
Turkey in the 1990s was an example, although not so much lately. Singapore might be a good example today.

Another unconventional investment worth discussing is quality handmade rugs. Again, buyer beware… many fakes abound. But with a local and trustworthy in-country expert adviser, some countries with distressed economies such as Turkey offer good value. As in the 1990s, Turkey is currently suffering from high inflation and U.S. dollars are prized. Several good-quality examples I bought in the mid-1990s have appreciated over 300%.

— Jim C.

You’re absolutely right, Jim. There are parts of the world where you can get gold jewelry at close to cost.

However, they do tend to be the sorts of places where it’s not a given that the stated purity is the actual purity. For that reason — and also because most folk will be making their purchases closer to home — I don’t recommend investing in jewelry.

If you’ve got enough knowledge to spot impurities… get to the good gold spots around the world (I believe India has a decent amount of investable gold jewelry at the moment)… and don’t mind taking a little risk, go ahead.

As to your investment in handmade rugs — I love it!

Perhaps we’ll cover this asset in greater detail in an upcoming article. If you’d like to send us a photo of your rugs, we’d love to see them pop up in our inbox at feedback@unconventionalwealth.com.

Full disclosure, I’m not exactly an Apple fanboy, but I did work there for about 10 years off and on during the “valley of the shadow of death” days from the early ’90s until the early ’00s. I wrote what’s below in an exchange with SimpliSafe, which makes and sells home security systems. I’m happy to see other folk with a larger platform start to make the same arguments.

I see other folk in the “smart home” end of the IoT [internet of things] business integrating Alexa and Google Assistant and bypassing HomeKit. Typically, the reason given is that it’s too complicated and too much work to integrate and maintain. You can hear me now and believe me later, but people are going to regret the more lax forms of security that exist primarily to facilitate the business models of Amazon, Google and Facebook, to name a few.

I’m not likely to buy anything that can’t integrate with HomeKit for the reasons above, but plenty of folk will. And some of them will have a hacker turn off their alarm and open their garage door from a van parked across the street and rob them blind. Suppose there were a death involved. One serious, successful lawsuit would likely more than pay for the extra effort to develop and maintain better security for the life of the product.

— Joe K.

You’ve hit the nail on the head, Joe. I’m leery of giving any sort of personal access to any company that isn’t making my privacy a priority.

At the moment, Apple is the only one of the big players that’s focused on protecting your privacy (and it’s in another fight with the U.S. government on exactly that point).

Others will join the charge — privacy is only going to gain as a currency over the coming years.

But until they do, be suspicious of any company that is exploiting your data. Especially one that can track you everywhere and listen in on all your conversations. Not cool.

Unconventionally yours,

Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole
Editor-in-chief, Unconventional Wealth

P.S. Do you have any questions or comments for us? Want to share an amazing find, or seek help with the details of an investment we’ve outlined? You can always contact us at feedback@unconventionalwealth.com. I promise we read every email — and try to publish and answer as many as we can!

Ryan Cole

Ryan Cole is the editor-in-chief of Unconventional Wealth. He’s been covering the alternative investment space for nearly a decade and writing about finance and investment for almost 20 years.

Ryan has walked the walk for years, living a very unconventional life. He’s led snowmobile tours through the mountains of Colorado, settled in Japan for five...

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