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?

tradefair

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.

lobster

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:

May 24

I happened to be looking at my iPhone to get to my local Trader Joe’s via back roads from where I was. The map program offered me the Yelp review of my store and I decided to take a look. What I found was the strangest mix of commentary with a remarkably low signal to noise ratio.  The first one that popped up was 4/5 stars and reasonably to the point. The second on the ‘recommended’ list was a 1 star review in which the author droned on for 440 words. He discussed the awful parking lot, the soccer moms, the crying babies, and finally got around to the stuff for sale. “I will concede that the food is good – especially the wide selection of uppity olive oils and cheeses of which I am a huge fan.  And the beer is good.  And the wine is good.” A couple dozen words in three sentences. Only this location has no alcohol license. No wine and no beer.

traderjoeAnd “the way too small” parking lot is quite enormous, I’ve been there often as there’s a Staples, a Pier 1, and other stores my family likes. Never a problem with the parking. To be fair, not every last review is this way, but for this store, more than half were.

I was compelled to look at other stores I’d been to, along with a few restaurants. Same for most of them. I understand you might not like a restaurant, supermarket, or other business. No problem with that. If half the reviewers on Yelp would stick the point, and not review the neighborhood, the cars, the parking lots, it might become a useful site.For now, it seems a site where people simply go on off topic rants about whatever they wish, unrelated to the establishment they are reviewing. A remarkable waste of my time.

Worse, Yelp has gained a reputation for burying good reviews of businesses that don’t pay for their service.  It’s pretty apparent when you go to the reviews buried as ‘not recommended,’ if you can find them. Most curious to me is how long Yelp will even be around. A $4B valuation for a company that continues to spend more on marketing than they book in revenue. Remember, advertising dollars are not unlimited.  Businesses spend so much each year and that’s divided amongst all the print and on line places trying to sell ad space.

written by Joe \\ tags:

Apr 11

Gambling responsibly is something that everybody strives to achieve however it can be tricky for some people as it takes quite a lot of self-control in order to achieve it. The reason why this subject is so common these days is because of online gambling and the thousands of online casinos that are now available on the Internet. These casinos are fantastic and offer a huge variety in games that are free to play however since they are open twenty-four hours a day and are available no matter where you are as long as you have an Internet connection it can be quite hard to control yourself when you get the urge to gamble.
There are a couple of ways in which to create a responsible gaming environment for yourself and the first one isn’t really environmental, but more state of mind. You should create a budget in order to make sure you do not overspend when gambling. If you are overspend while gambling it makes the whole experience sour and so you should work out from your monthly budget how much you are willing to spend and then try not to go over it.
Being responsible for yourself online can be tricky to do as you never know whether there is somebody out to try and scam you. An online casino can be quite a scary place to go for the first time as they are asking for real money in order to play. Fortunately for many people there are lots of online casino review sites which you can visit in order to find safe and well regarded casino sites so that you can feel better about playing on them. With this knowledge in your hands you can then find the right casino for you in order to enjoy a safe online environment.

Article by Miles Hughes

written by Joe