Personal Finance 
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Personal Finance Blog Tickers

Stock Market Prices in a NewspaperSometimes, in talking to people, I refer to Blueprint for Financial Prosperity as BFP. It’s just easier and some people know what I’m talking about. Unlike many other personal finance blogs, BFP doesn’t coincide with a stock ticker. (In a quick Google Finance search, the only result that comes up is for the British Property Federation, a lobbying firm)

However, many popular personal finance blogs’ acronymed names are tickers… and here are some of them:

  • FCN (Five Cent Nickel) – FTI Consulting, Inc., a ” global consulting firm to organizations confronting the critical legal, financial and reputational issues that shape their futures.” It’s traded on the NYSE and is down around 14% YTD.
  • SBC (Stop Buying Crap) – Brompton Split Banc Corp, a Canada-based mutual fund corporation (it’s a mutual fund) traded on the TSX. It is down nearly 55% on the year.
  • CC (Consumerism Commentary) – Clinton Cards plc, a specialty retailer of greetings cards, plush merchandise, and related items in the United Kingdom. Traded on the London Stock Exchange, it has fallen a whopping 87% YTD.
  • GRS (Get Rich Slowly) – Gammon Gold, Inc., a company engaged in the exploration for and exploration and development of gold and silver deposits in Mexico and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. It’s down around 69% on the year.
  • TSD (The Simple Dollar) – Tsodilo Resources Ltd., a diamond exploration company traded on the TSX Venture Exchange, the Canadian Stock Exchange. It’s down about 65% on the year but is very minimally traded.
  • AFM (All Financial Matters) – Alphamin Resources Corp, a mineral resource mining company traded on the TSX Venture Exchange. It’s another thinly traded stock down 50% on the year.
  • MBH (Mighty Bargain Hunter) – MBF Healthcare Acquisition Corporation is an AMEX-traded “development-stage blank check company.” In other words, it’s a company that exists only to serve as a acquisition vehicle. It’s up 2.5% but that hardly counts.
  • DL (The Digerati Life) – China Distance Education Holdings Ltd. is a NYSE-traded online education provider in China. If you owned this stock at the start of the year, you’d be down around 51%.
  • GXF (Generation X Finance) – iShares Financials was an ETF focused on the financial industry.
  • MTD (My Two Dollars) – Mettler-Toledo International Inc., a Switzerland -based global supplier of precision instruments (think: precise lab equipment) and traded on the NYSE. It’s down only 34% YTD.

As you can see, almost all of them are down… which means if you owned shares of BFP, that is, shares of nothing, you would’ve come out ahead over every other personal finance blog out there so keep reading my blog. If you’re comfortable with that logic, excellent, we can be friends! :)

I couldn’t get every blog I know involved (some didn’t have tickers, like myself) so if you weren’t included, feel free to look yourself up and leave a little recap in the comments below!

(Photo: rodluvan)


 General 
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The Luckiest Guy on The Price Is Right

After writing about the guy who lost $600,000 on Deal or No Deal and then the woman scammed out of $400,000 by the Nigerian demi-god of confidence men, I thought it was only fair to tell a happier tale. This one is of a 19 year old named Taylor who has the day of his life with Drew Carey and The Price Is Right.

If that stroke of luck isn’t good enough, read this story about Michael Paul Larson learning the patterns of the board in Press Your Luck, an 80s game show, and walking out with a bunch of cash and prizes. First, the story is absolutely true. Next, read the amazing story about how he won $110,237 in cash and prizes back in June 1984 (that’s $229,782.08 in today’s dollars and back in an era where the prizes were much much smaller).

See? It’s not all bad news and schadenfreude here. :)


 Your Take 
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Your Take: If You Had A Time Machine…

Delorean: Back to the Future!

… where would you go? And why?

I’d go to the future by about two hundred years so I could get try one of those super-dehydrated pizzas like in Back to the Future. I’d like to know if that stuff was really possible or was it just Hollywood magic! :)

(Photo: f1rstborn)


 Personal Finance 
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The One Sure Fire Way to Fail Miserably in Your Finances

Ignore Everything!This is a guest post by Cap at StopBuyingCrap.com, where Cap rambles on about personal finance, life, the universe, and everything. If for whatever crazy reason you liked this post, feel free to subscribe to his blog – supposedly you’re guaranteed to at least two worthwhile post per year.

Do you want the quickest way to mountains to debt, poor investment returns, and years after years of tax audits?

Ignore your finances.

Ignore the bills, ignore the secondary notice, ignore the warning signs that your investment allocations are too risky — ignore them all.

Having trouble making your credit card payments? Hey, it’s all good, open a new card account and ignore the old one! Falling short on your mortgage payments? Hey, it’s all good, let’s worry about the upcoming holiday vacations first!

Sounds ridiculous? Probably not.

We’ve all had those moments when we’re too stressed out to deal with the finances; when there’s too many things on the plate and too many other issues to take care of.

Procrastination? Apathy? Lack of proper financial literacy? What the case, there’s one simple solution to avoid failing miserably in taking care of your finances.

Start paying attention!

Here’s some starting steps if you’ve been ignoring parts or all of your finances:

1. Build that workable budget. It’s not impossible to build a budget that you can stick to. Here’s a quick tip: make realistic goals. Don’t try heroic measures like cutting $1,000 per month from the budget unless you’ve drastically changed your financial outlook. If an entire budget overwhelms you, try specific categories you can hit. Build a grocery budget or an entertainment budget, and get whoever else that’s part of the household involved! Need a hand to get started? Try this making a budget guide for some tips and tools.

2. Revisit your investment accounts. Whether it’s your retirement account or the college funding for your child, now’s the perfect time to reassess your asset allocation, risk tolerance, and investment goals. No idea where to start? Try Beginner’s Guide to Asset Allocation and An Intro to 529 Plans.

3. Get a close loved one involved. As with going on raids in WoW, better do the whole financial responsibilty thing with support than going solo (ignore the lame MMO reference). Ask your friends or family member to give you a helpful reminder to take care of specific parts of the finances. Setup a savings goal with a friend, or a debt reduction contest with loved ones. It’s always easier to face life’s challenges when you have the right support.

4. Use the latest tools to keep you updated. Most major financial institutions have online banking capability, with means for you to do automatic bill pays, transfers, and alerts. They can be extremely convenient and time savers. If you’re comfortable with bringing your finances further online, check out online tools such as Mint.com, Quicken Online, and Yodlee. Many of these services provide text based alerts for budgets, bills, and changes to your investment accounts — all to keep you on your toes.

If you have tips on paying attention to your finances, feel free to share. Take it from someone who has ignored their finances for almost a year and paid dearly for it — don’t do it! Make some time for your future, just a few days out of the month can go a long way towards financial stability and independence!


 Taxes 
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5 Infallible Ways to Lower Your Income Taxes

Internal Revenue Service Is Choking MeTaxes suck. We all understand why we need taxes, but they still suck. Everyone hates them. We hate them every time we go to the store (unless you’re in Alaska, Oregon, Montana, Delaware, or New Hampshire – states with no states sales tax), we hate them every time April 15th rolls around, and homeowners hate them when that real estate assessment or property tax bill shows up in our mailbox.

So, here are five infallible ways to lower your income taxes (you’re on your own for anything else), you’ll thank me later. :)

(Click to continue reading…)


 Career 
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25 Well-Paying Jobs You Won’t Want

Business Pundit had a great post last week on 25 Well-Paying Jobs that Most People Overlook (and Why) meant to “spotlight jobs with stigmas attached to them that pay more than the typical person would think.” The headline job was that of crab fishermen and a shout out to one of my favorite shows, The Deadliest Catch. If you’ve ever seen the show, just one episode, you’ll know that those men earn every penny of the tens of thousands they earn in a short period of time. They get the crap beat out of them by the ocean, by the boat, by their captain and their crew mates. I totally understand why Alaskan King Crab is as expensive as it is.

Which job surprised me the most? Probably a dog walker:

Dogs can be scary enough without putting several of them on leashes and hoping they’ll behave for a complete stranger as you walk them around town. However, the undesirability of the job is precisely what makes it high-paying. In a busy metro area, a reputable dog walker can rake it in to the tune of $50 per hour. As one article points out, “that’s more than the average salary of a mid-level manager.”

If things don’t work out, I could always walk dogs.


 Personal Finance 
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Study of the Wealthy Confirms Classic Joke

Money Money MoneyThe Washington Post story today, discussing the findings of Nobel Prize-winning (2002 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences) behavioral economist Daniel Kahneman, confirmed the classic joke of an American businessman and a Mexican fisherman. You’d think that the more you earn, the more out of life you’d be able to enjoy; however that isn’t the case. More and more studies are showing that happiness has less to do with money and more to do with other factors. First the (not so surprising) findings, then the ironic joke.

Findings

Kahneman found that wealthy individuals, those earning more than $100,000, spent less than one-fifth of their time in passive leisure. Those earning less than $20,000 a year, spent more than a third of their time in passive leisure. The rich spent more of their time doing the required things, such as working, and less of the optional things because they’re trapped in a mental illusion. They focus on getting rich because they believe that when they are rich, they can buy some cool electronics or get daily spa treatments… therein lies the joke. If you want more Kahneman, here’s more goodness on the aspiration treadmill.

Living the American Dream

Fishing Boat
An American businessman was standing at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long it took you to catch them?” The American asked.

“Only a little while.” The Mexican replied.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” The American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family’s immediate needs.” The Mexican said.

“But,” The American then asked, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds you buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats, eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

“Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own can factory. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But señor, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15-20 years.”

“But what then, señor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

The American said slowly, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos…”

###

Touché.

How Rich People Spend Their Time [Washington Post]

(Money by Tracy O, Fishing by xul)


 Personal Finance 
42
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Bar Stool Economics & How Taxes Work

Here’s a little story my friend Matt sent me and it’s about economics, taxes, and drinking; only one of which I actually enjoy. I didn’t double check the math but it appears sound and the message is pretty interesting (especially given the talk of the 2008 tax stimulus package!). I invite you to share your thoughts in the comments.

(The origins of this story, as well as some of the story details, are unclear but it’s still an entertaining and thought provoking read)

Suppose that every day, ten men go out for beer and the bill for all ten comes to $100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four men (the poorest) would pay nothing.
The fifth would pay $1.
The sixth would pay $3.
The seventh would pay $7.
The eighth would pay $12.
The ninth would pay $18.
The tenth man (the richest) would pay $59.

So, that’s what they decided to do. The ten men drank in the bar every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve. ‘Since you are all such good customers, he said, ‘I’m going to reduce the cost of your daily beer by $20. Drinks for the ten now cost just $80.

The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes so the first four men were unaffected. They would still drink for free. What happens to the other six men – the paying customers? How could they divide the $20 windfall so that everyone would get his ‘fair share?’ They realized that $20 divided by six is $3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody’s share, then the fifth man and the sixth man would each end up being paid to drink his beer. So, the bar owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each man’s bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so:

The fifth man, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings).
The sixth now paid $2 instead of $3 (33% savings).
The seventh now pay $5 instead of $7 (28% savings).
The eighth now paid $9 instead of $12 (25% savings).
The ninth now paid $14 instead of $18 (22% savings).
The tenth now paid $49 instead of $59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to drink for free. But once outside the restaurant, the men began to compare their savings.

‘I only got a dollar out of the $20,’ declared the sixth man. He pointed to the tenth man, ‘But he got $10!’

‘Yeah, that’s right,’ exclaimed the fifth man. ‘I only saved a dollar, too. It’s unfair that he got ten times more than I!’

‘That’s true!!’ shouted the seventh man. ‘Why should he get $10 back when I got only two? The wealthy get all the breaks!’

‘Wait a minute,’ yelled the first four men in unison. ‘We didn’t get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!’

The nine men surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth man didn’t show up for drinks, so the nine sat down and had beers without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important.

They didn’t have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up anymore. In fact, they might start drinking overseas where the atmosphere is somewhat friendlier.


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