Nov 17

Anyone that starts their article with the Quadratic Equation certainly gets my attention. And I’m sure that was The Financial Buff, Harry Sit’s goal with his post How Many People Contribute The Max to Their IRA. This was a roundup in its own right, and Harry shared what he read the prior week.

At Generation X Finance, a Credit Karma Review. I’m a fan of this company and have written a number of articles on different components of the credit score with information supplied by Credit Karma. For a great overview and review, check out the article.

Food Stamp Reform: Unethical or Overdue? This was the question asked and answered by Jessica Sommerfield at MoneyNing. It’s easy to find examples of fraud wherever we look, and this social program is no different. For every 100 people who genuinely need some support, there are going to be some who are drawn into the spotlight as frauds, gaming the system. I think all programs should have proper oversight, but in the greatest country on earth (ok, I’m biased) there’s no excuse for us not to help keep our citizens from starving.

Next, Barbara Friedberg offered her book How to Get Rich; Wealth Building Guide for the Financially Illiterate for a special deal just until Tuesday Nov 19th, at $.99. I’ve not read it yet, but here’s my change to do it for less than a buck. As I’ve written recently, I’ve met Barbara a number of times, and had great discussions with her. I know her book will be a great read.

Clever Dude’s Brock wrote What Would You Do? Money Left Behind in the Self Checkout Lane. The story is simple, money left at the self check-out at a Walmart. Would you take the money? Turn it in? If instead of $20, it was a full wallet, more money plus a license, would your answer change?

We’ll wrap the week up with Roger Wohlner’s question – Do You Have a Back-Up Financial Plan? It’s pretty simple, like happens, jobs are lost, people get sick, have accidents, get divorced. Few people get through life with no bumps. What’s your back up plan?

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Nov 10

Another interesting week in the market and in the PF Blogosphere.

We start this week with a post from Bargaineering, Your take: Is investing in IPOs smart, or strictly for muppets? My own answer? It depends on whether one gets IPO shares at the IPO price or if the price is the elevated price at the open of trading. I was fortunate to get 100 shares at the IPO price, and will hold on to Twitter for a while. I wouldn’t have bought it at $46.

twtr

My friend J. Money is Obsessed With Rich Habits, because Tom Corley’s site Rich Habits offers some great reading. I hope Tom isn’t insulted when I say his work reminds me a bit of the work of Dr Thomas Stanley, author of many best sellers, The Millionaire Next Door and Stop Acting Rich among them. As long as we are a country of spenders vs savers there’s room for this message to be offered by many writers. Nice find, J.

Nerd’s Eye View’s Michael Kitces wrote about The Impact Of Taxes On The Safe Withdrawal Rate. We keep hearing about how 4% is the rate we can withdraw funds from our retirement accounts, but how do taxes affect this number? Michael explains.

Black Friday. Even the name sounds ominous. After all, Black Tuesday was bad. Very bad. You know what Black Friday is – the day after Thanksgiving, when stores offer prices to entice us to go save money on things we never needed in the first place. At Five Cent Nickel, Psychology of Black Friday: Motivation behind the pursuit of deals. If you miss reading this article, you will risk having your pocket picked on Black Friday.

Ask the Readers: High-deductible health insurance: yea or nay? A post at Get Rich Slowly that grabbed my attention. I’ve always felt that real insurance had a low premium, but a high deductible. In other words, I’m protected from the disastrous expense an accident might cost me, but would pay for routine doctor visits out of pocket. Ellen Cannon discusses her take on these plans.

Miranda Marquit guest posted at Investor Junkie, Is Your Company’s 401(k) a Good or Bad Plan? Miranda wrote “With many small businesses, you might pay between 1.5% and 2%.” 2%? I think there’s a special place in hell for those who run plans that charge 2%. If your 401(k) is 1% or over, deposit to the match, then run the other way. It’s that simple.

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Nov 03

Spring ahead, fall back. The time shift gives us an extra hour of sleep tonight, but when finish our dinner tomorrow, we will notice the sun will set an hour earlier. This means that if you had any outdoor projects to do before the winter weather sets in, it will need to be done on the weekends. I read an article in which an economist suggested The US needs to retire daylight savings and just have two time zones—one hour apart. A fascinating idea, but is it practical? I thought part of daylight saving time was to keep it light during the time the kids were going to school. Wouldn’t this mess that up? I’ll keep an open mind, I promise. It’s strange to get past 50 and suddenly something you’ve been used to all these years might change. It would be similar to waking up one day and reading they cancelled Pluto. An entire planet gone, by committee.  Wait, that really happened. Two time zones? Bring it on.

On a lighter note, Nate St. Pierre shared My Evil Plan To Destroy The Westboro Baptist Church. Nate has a cause, and as he put it in a different article,”When the Hell’s Angels and the KKK show up to shield the victims from their actions, you get a sense for how truly ugly these people are.” If you don’t read the article, I’ll offer you this; it’s not about suppressing free speech, just the opposite, it’s about not giving them any press coverage. They thrive on attention. Good luck, Nate.

proposed-time-zones

Next, at Mighty Bargain Hunter, I read Unit pricing can tell an interesting story.  John’s thoughts on K-Cup pricing was another interesting twist on the K-Cup pricing story. A coincidence that I wrote about this 2 days ago, the images I put up were taken by me last weekend in advance of the idea.

What is the American Dream? Asked and answered at Making Sense of Cents. Michelle was inspired by a presentation from Chase bank at FinCon two weeks ago. It made all of us consider what our dreams are. For some, a house, others, a family, or early retirement. What’s your dream?

Miranda Marquit wrote Why you spend more when you use a credit card. I’m still skeptical. A few reasons – (a) all studies seem to be with college kids and a gift card of some kind. I’d conclude that college kids spend more using cards than cash. (b) no distinction between the pay-in-full group and those who carry a balance. I’m certain those who carry a balance are going to spend more on credit than if they use cash. These folk should just freeze those cards. (c) No study that I’ve seen has followed a family for a year’s time to analyze their spending. This seems to be one of those memes that are so often repeated that they become ‘fact.’

And with winter right around the corner, Brock shares how to Save Money By Winterizing Your Own Sprinkler System. Our guy charges about $100 to do this for us, but I might just DIY it next year thanks to Brock at Clever Dude.

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Oct 27

With FinCon13 still fresh in my mind, please let me share my fellow blogger’s observation on this amazing conference.

Most conferences will have some kind of SWAG. I had no idea this was an acronym, Stuff We All Get, and aren’t sure if that’s even right. But that’s what it is, and this year, there were some great give aways. Best booths of FinCon 2013 is a post at Bargaineering giving credit to the sponsors who gave away items to remind of of their company long after the weekend passed. Both Ally Bank and Chase Bank were giving away portable USB chargers, a rechargeable battery that you can use to power up your phone or tablet device. This was first conference I’ve gone to where I didn’t grab a shirt, although there were many to be had.

Erin, at Red Debted Stepchild, offered #FinCon13 Recap & Spending, a look at both what she learned and what she spent. Interesting to see her tab, $1115. My ticket and hotel bill added to $500. I used miles to get the plane ticket, and avoided the shuttle. St Louis has a Metro that cost $2.50 each way, and a short walk. Erin lists a number of things we learned, and even if you blog on non-finance topics, there’s some great advice here. (Note to self, fix your 404 page)

StLouisFed

Time to get this out of the way. There was a repeat of a contest I missed last year. Pullups. When I was younger, I was good for ten pullups. Now, I can do one on a good day. The tradition was started, and it presented itself again this year. All went well, the winner was at nearly 20, if I got it right. But. Someone then tweeted, “and for the ladies, the swimsuit contest is next.” I missed this, but soon heard about it. You can get the whole story at Beating a Sexist One Chin-Up at a Time and #Fincon13 Pictures and My Reaction to a Sexist Comment. No, Kathleen, you didn’t overreact. Nassim Taleb, author of The Black Swan wrote, “If you see fraud, but do not say fraud, then you are a fraud.” You see, I can’t get into your head, we each react to things we hear in a different way, but recalling this quote, just substitute “sexism” or “racism” for “fraud” and you see how simple it is for me to acknowledge that you were compelled to react, and had I been there at that moment, I would have too.

CFP Sophia Bera shared Why I Love Hanging Out with Financial Bloggers (Over Financial Planners). It seems we are a fun, welcoming group. Even though she mentions the age clusters at around 30, no one there made this 51 year old feel too old to be welcome. And no, most of us aren’t bragging about our expensive cars, just the opposite, the ten year old car is a badge of honor. Sophia also wrote 10 things I learned at #FinCon13.

US News Money reporter Stephanie Steinberg was there and reported on 10 Things Consumers Don’t Understand About Credit Scores. This was the topic at one of the sessions that focused on Credit. A panel of experts, their advice alone was worth the cost of admission.

Peter Anderson offered a day-by-day recap at The Financial Blogger Conference 2013 Recap: Seeing Old Friends, Meeting New People And Learning. If you think we’re a boring bunch, just listen to Ashley rapping some blogging advice to the tune of Thrift Shop.

At Eyes on the Dollar (A blog I just discovered) Kim wrote Fincon 13: Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone and Loving It. For Kim, it was about meeting new people, and finding how welcoming the FinCon community is.

With 500 attendees, this post can really go on, but let’s close with another blogger I just discovered, Budget & the Beach who posted Fincon13: Inspired and Overwhelmed! The post actually took on the form of a top ten list, which was pretty interesting. Her list and mine, if I would write one, would overlap quite a bit. Except for that 6:30 AM run. Not when I was up till 2 am every night.

That’s it for FinCon. I may refer to it on occasion in future posts and you may see some changes here over the next few months, but that’s it for the reminiscing.

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Oct 25

It’s not just adios, but probably goodbye. Last weekend, St. Louis was the host city for FinCon, the Financial Blogger’s Conference. So far, it’s been in Chicago, Denver, and now St. Louis.

stlouisarch

This is The Gateway Arch which Wikipedia tells us is a 630-foot monument in St. Louis, Missouri. Clad in stainless steel and built in the form of a flattened catenary arch, it is the tallest man-made monument in the United States. I hadn’t given it much thought in my life until the SyFy TV show Defiance was released, and the arch is a prominent feature in the show.

FinCon was the brainchild of Phil Taylor, the blogger better known at PT Money, and this year, the number of attendees hit the 500 mark. The people that came are nothing short of amazing. When you combine the love of a topic, the desire to write about it, and the urge to connect, there’s a magic that happens.

This year, author and financial editor of the  Today Show, Jean Chatzky gave a keynote address. She really knew how to relate to the audience. Jean shared her story of how she got started in the business, and after being told she’d never make it to TV, didn’t just get on television, but did it in NYC, the last place one expects to get a break. Her next project is the expansion and promotion of her Money School, an online seminar series to help you improve your finances. My fellow bloggers and I are likely to come back with more on Jean’s Money School. From the bit I saw of it, she’s going to help a lot of people.

There were so many bloggers who gave a talk that I really run the risk of leaving off someone who deserves a mention, but here are the ones that stand out in my mind -

Rob Bennett – I’ve met Rob at prior FinCons and he strikes me as one of the most passionate people out there. Rob gave a talk at Ignite, an evening function in which each speaker has 5 minutes to share an idea via a set of 20 slides timed to change at 15 second intervals. Rob has a message to share, but somehow his message isn’t welcome in many financial forums. What’s Rob’s message? It seems to be twofold, first, stocks actually do get overpriced. Any of my readers old enough to remember the crash of ’87? No? No problem, we had another crash from 2000 through Mid-02. I know, that was still over a decade ago. The latest crash occurred from Mid-07 till Jan ’09. It would seem that Rob’s observation is correct. Another Rob, Schiller to be specific, had a similar idea. He doesn’t get kicked out of finance forums, that I know, instead he gets a Nobel prize. Which is pretty cool. The second part of Rob Bennett’s message is that by using data that we know, the PE10, which happens to be popularized by Robert Schiller, we have a tool to judge market valuation. If there’s a problem with the process Rob discusses, it’s that it takes time and patience. Check his site out, and see what you think.

Barbara Friedberg blogs at her site about saving, investing, and building wealth. She gave a regular length talk containing a mix of writing and investing advice that were right in line with my own opinion. Patience, asset allocation, and she even offered a quote that I loved – “Investing should be like watching grass grow or paint dry. If you want excitement, take $1,000 and go to Las Vegas.” (Paul Samuelson)  Barb prefers indexing, as do I, and even suggested that if one wanted to buy individual stocks, they should limit that portion of their assets to 10%. On a side note, a newer blogger and I were talking over lunch, and she was determined to go all in, choosing stocks from the very beginning of her investing life. It’s tough to explain to a new investor why they are not going to be the chosen one who beats the market year in and year out.

Eric Rosenberg – Eric is a big deal (ask him, he’ll tell you), he offers great financial writing at his blog, DJs on weekends, and just announced to his readers that he’s engaged. I may be twice his age, but I’m the first to admit there’s far more to be learned than I’ll ever know, and I’m always happy to learn from Eric.

Romeo Jeremiah didn’t offer a talk, but we did spend some quality time together at the hotel bar. He writes about finance, relationships, and life, and whether one agrees with him or not, he offers his views respectfully and with great insight. He was away from the US with his son last year and missed FinCon. Great to see him this year and catch up.

As I started to say, a great group, and with 500 attendees, it was impossible to chat with each and every one. If you were there and I didn’t meet you, I’m sorry, I look forward to next year. If we met, it was great. There’s no one I spoke to that wasn’t interesting, a rare time to be with a group that has no one you wanted to walk away from. If you missed FinCon this year, you can buy a virtual pass and see what the fuss was all about.

This Sunday may feature a roundup of FinCon posts. A lot to read and learn.

 

 

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