Jan 04

2015 is now in the history books. As I was prepping for our annual New Year’s eve party, I heard CNBC in the background, “The S&P 500 was down 3/4 of a percent for the year, the worst year since 2008.” True, I suppose, but the tone is the opposite of how I discussed the year end with my wife. When we spoke about the market early last year, I looked at the returns we had from 2009 through 2014, a compound return of 17.3%/yr and cumulative growth of 160% over that time. The market’s P/E was relatively on the high side, and given the choice, I’d prefer to see a year with the index flat, but earning grow a bit to reduce the overall P/E a bit. I wanted flat, and got flat. The S&P total return, including dividends returned 1.3% for the year. Not great, but not a down year, and given the rates one sees in the bank, still better than CDs or money market. Price to earnings didn’t shrink as I hoped. From 20.02 on Jan 1, I see an estimated 21.54 for year end.


We ended the year on a bit of a sad note. My mother died after 15 years of multiple battles with cancer. When this happened, the day after Christmas, my inclination was to post a quick message on Facebook, but I found my account disabled due to my use of a pen name. While I do have a credit card with JoeTaxpayer as the printed name, Facebook wanted a number of different IDs including government issued. So, I am done with Facebook, or rather, they are done with me. If, and when I decide to ‘go public,’ it will take some time to re-engage with the near-1000 people who decided I was good enough to friend on FB. Meanwhile, I’m going through the sites I read regularly finding the ones that used FB sign-in, and trying to convert to a different method. Many are FB only, and I won’t be able to post at all.

Working on my 2016 resolutions, next.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Feb 14

Many of us look forward to a tax refund each year, using our tax payments as a small savings plan. If you’re waiting on that refund but need to raise a bit of cash more quickly, today’s article is for you.

Situations often arise, and rather than taking a loan, you can make money legitimately in a few hours to a few days. If the idea of selling plasma strikes a nerve you can’t handle, here are five ways to get money in a hurry.

  1. Offer to be a Sitter

Sitting is an excellent way to get fast cash. It’s a quick job to do, and you are paid immediately. If you need money in an account, this is another great option as many people are signed up for PayPal of which friends and family can transfer money to your account. Sitting, however, is not just limited to watching someone’s kids. You can:

  • House sit
  • Pet sit
  • Sit for an elderly parent 

If you are in a jam and there are no family or friends who need your assistance, sign up for sites such as mindmyhouse.com, dogvacay.com, or sittercity.com.

  1. Recycle Your Old Phones

If you’re like many people, you change up your phone every year or two. You throw the old ones in the back of your desk or closet and forget all about them. Even though technology is always changing to make our lives better; there are still some people who prefer older phones for the convenience or the cheaper price tag. You can sell your old phone to a pawn shop or turn it in to some carriers for a small chunk of change. Ask your family and friends if they have one they no longer use and take them in for bulk pricing.

  1. Sell Your Old Stuff

This is possibly the easiest way to make quick money. Take a look around your home and sell hot ticket items. Start with the items you don’t want or haven’t used in a while. Items that sell best include:

  • CD’s
  • Games
  • Movies
  • Old textbooks
  • Gift cards
  • Old coupons

Look outside of the normal sites such as eBay and Craigslist to sell these on also. Start, of course, with your peers and see if they’d be willing to take them off your hands. Other than that, you can sell items on Amazon, Facebook, Preloved, MusicMagpie, GiftCardGranny, and CoupRecoup.

  1. Get a Smaller Loan

Smaller loans are often considered quick loans and you can usually get the funds the next day. Granted you will pay slightly higher interests rates for these types of services but when you are in a money pinch and have limit option these will help. Just be sure to pay off the loan as soon as possible to avoid paying to much in interest fees.

  1. Negotiate Your Bill’s

If you have an enormous amount of bills to pay, try cutting back on paying a few this month. Start by paying only the minimal amount necessary on a bill rather than sending in extra. Next, call your creditors and explain the situation to them. They may be willing to move your payment date without your incurring a penalty, leaving you with enough time to get things situated.

The above five strategies should help you get money in a hurry, legitimately. You could also find yourself making a steady stream of income on the side.

written by Joe

Dec 13

A  post aimed at my friends across the pond –

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there is currently a huge push on Financial Spread Betting (FSB). Just about everywhere you look, it seems, there is a bright and shiny offer to take the plunge and enjoy the thrills, spills and rewards of riding the market. Don’t tell me you haven’t noticed.

Now, there is plenty to be said about FSB, but no-one seems to be saying anything very much about this all-too visible marketing trend. So let’s do just that; exactly what is going on with FSB right now?


by kenteegardin

Clearly the main players are competing for clients – those of each other as well as new market entrants – but that only moves the question up a level: why are they competing quite so competitively right now?

The evidence of that heightened competitive marketing is there for all to see – not only in the form of banner ads all over the financial press, but in terms of some eye-catching introductory offers – for example, in the UK, Tradefair are offering a 10 per cent top-up to new accounts up to the value of £1,000 plus a referral scheme that values new referrals at £50 a time.

That one example neatly sums up an unresolved issue when it comes to the FSB industry as a whole. Anyone prepared to commit £10,000 to an account that trades in open ended exposures is going to count as a big hitter. Not many of us are going to be willing or able to put that sort of money down, irrespective of that £1,000 boost. But conversely, no one trading at that sort of level is going to go out of their way for a mere £50.

It points to an industry that has reached the limits of its natural market – professional traders and industry insiders looking to play on the periphery of their working lives – and is now plateauing. Indeed, the first nine months of 2013 actually saw an 8% contraction in the overall industry in the UK.

The market-trading conclusion is that recent market stabilisation is bad news for FSB providers as it has reduced the short-term market volatility which is their stock-in trade. The more substantive benefits of holding dividend-paying stock is offered as a reason for traders turning away from FSB as an investment vehicle.

The marketing assessment, in contrast, is that there is only a limited constituency of punters who would rather gamble on relatively complex financial indices rather than more traditional, recreational gambling outlets – especially sport and casino-based bets. Notably, the gambling industry as a whole continues to see a near universal healthy growth.

Neither reading of the situation is good news for FSB providers.

There is an inevitable irony in the FSB industry figures running counter to the prevailing trend. However, it is hard to escape the conclusion that all the current noise surrounding FSB is not so much the heralding of a brave new world of investment, so much as the noisy hunger pangs of an industry that has run out of new clients. FSB will be an interesting area to keep tabs on in the months ahead – but maybe not for the reasons those involved might hope.

written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Oct 31

Of all the potential problems life can serve up to us, money problems rank among the most stressful without a doubt. Ruminating about mounting debt, having trouble paying bills, knowing we are making bad choices can do quite a number on us mentally. If denial is no longer doing it for you, and you are ready to move towards a more ordered financial life, here are some helpful strategies to get you there.

Do a Mental Purge

One of the reasons we let our money troubles get so out of hand is our tendency to push our troubles out of our minds and go into denial mode. Obviously on some level, we are aware of the damage, but so long as we don’t fully face up, we can continue to divert our attention elsewhere.

Actually thinking about the situation for too long is unpleasant to say the least, but this refusal to think about it is just prolonging the suffering. One of the first steps in righting your money wrongs is doing a mental purge of all your worries and problems. Face them head on. This is very powerful.

So, bust out a pen and paper—this is more powerful than just typing it out—and write down all the stuff that has been floating around in your head. What money worries are you currently dealing with? What do you fear will happen now, or in the future because of these problems? Don’t hold back..just let it all out.

What Will Provide Immediate Relief?

You didn’t get into a financial mess overnight, and you can’t expect to clean it up this quickly either. But, don’t focus too much on the whole picture—it will just make you feel super-bummed, and your motivation will drain very quickly. Think about what you can do immediately to provide some relief.

Perhaps there are some inaccuracies with your credit report that need your attention. If they are bigger issues, or you don’t have the time to stay on top of the process, it might be a good idea to find a reputable credit repair company to assist you in correcting these errors. If you haven’t filed your taxes, do so, and once the bill comes, call the IRS to discuss a payment plan. If there are any expenses you can cut immediately that will put some extra money in your pocket, do it.

No matter how small the step, it is a good thing because it moves you out of a place of feeling powerless.

Visualize the Improved Situation

There is a lot of power in visualization when it comes to making positive change. It gives us something to focus on. When we get into a space where we can see and feel the more ideal circumstances of a particular aspect of our life, it motivates us to make this our reality.

What would a better financial life look like to you? Do you see yourself making regular deposits into your savings account? Do you see yourself truly enjoying nights out because you truly have the money to spend on a nice dinner or concert? What does this life feel like? It probably feels pretty good. Think about the lack of anxiety and fear that comes with having all bills paid on time, budgeting properly and managing debt responsibly. How much more peace would you feel if you had a nicely padded savings account, or the oft-talked about ‘emergency fund?’

Visualize yourself as being responsible with money and financially savvy—this may seem challenging from your current space. But, it is important to realize your situation now was not borne of some DNA defect that made you bad with money. It was borne of bad habits, lack of education and awareness and poor decisions. All of that is of the mind and can be changed.

Where you are now probably feels really uncomfortable. Facing up to our money troubles is scary, but this willingness sets a very powerful intention. So long as you commit to following through, and taking things a step at a time, you can turn things around.


written by Joe \\ tags: ,

Jul 25

I was away for a weekend, at a friend’s house on the lake in New Hampshire, and we went to pick up lobsters for diner. The price list caught me a bit off guard.


I always understood the larger lobsters would cost a bit more per pound, so for example, the 1-1/2lb lobster is $18 vs $10 for the 1lb’er. No issue with that. What struck me was the drop in price per pound for the 4lb or bigger. Let’s do the math, 2lbs for $26, 3lbs for $39, 4lbs for $32. Let’s fill in the gap, 2.5lbs for $32.50. I did the math and wondered why anyone would buy one between 2 and 4 pounds.

If you are not a lobster eater, it’s tough to understand. A small lobster has a piece of tail meat and two claws. In a larger lobster, the small claws are also worth eating as is the body, where the effort of cracking it open and digging in is well rewarded. I’d happily split a 4lb lobster with a friend than to have a 2lb one to myself any day. I asked the store owner why the drop in price. He explained that the big ones don’t sell. They don’t sell because they come out tough. To paraphrase Shakespeare, the fault lies not in our lobsters, but with our chefs. First, lobsters should never be boiled, not unless you are making lobster bisque. If you are serious about your lobster eating, you’ll get a steamer pot big enough to steam your lobsters. 35 minutes or so and they’re done. A nut cracker for each dinner guest will help, as will a mallet and towel if the shells are a bit hard. I love lobster, but not enough to risk cracking a tooth. Now you know.

Do you live where fresh lobsters are sold? Is the pricing flat or does it look more like the picture above?

written by Joe \\ tags: