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.


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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Oct 09

As I mentioned earlier this week, last weekend was the first Financial Bloggers Conference, held in Chicago. I did have a little explaining to do to my wife and daughter when they asked if I learned anything on investing, market timing, estate planning, etc. It wasn’t a finance conference, it was a gathering of writers. Together to learn about our craft. This past week, many of my fellow bloggers wrote about their experience, and this week will be a roundup of those articles.

At Give Me Back My Five Bucks, Recap: 2011 Financial Blogger Conference, Krystal  recapped a few of the speakers that caught her attention and online friends she got to meet.

Andrea at So Over Debt offered her thoughts on FINCON11 and Steve Jobs, an interesting twist on doing what you love, which really should be a goal for all of us.

At Free From Broke, Financial Blogger Conference 2011 – Meeting the PF Blogger World and More.  Glen recalls those he met and the charity event many of us participated in. His regret is how many he didn’t have a chance to say hello to, only so much free time at meals or breaks. This was run like a business conference, a full, tight schedule.

Dr Dean, whom I met, is author of The Millionaire Nurse Blog, and also made the connection with Steve Jobs in an article titled Financial Follies: What Steve Jobs and Fincon11 Have In Common Edition! No surprise, the punchline is “Passion.”

For a spouse’s view, My favorite part about #FINCON11! was written by Jeff Rose‘ wife who attended and befriended two other wives that weekend. She thinks bloggers are cool people. I think so too, and glad to see she agrees.

It was great to meet Kay Bell, who writes Don’t Mess With Taxes. She recapped Fincon with her article What a wonderful financial weekend. Yes, it was!

I think I’ll call it quits with this list. Over 250 attendees, and nearly all offered an article this week about the adventure. If nothing else, it goes to show how passionate people are about this endeavor. One brief story – I’m at the ticket counter at the airport before I flew out, and the agent is asking what I’m up to. Just making conversation. So I tell her it’s a financial bloggers conference. “Oh, blogging”, she responds, “my brother is a blogger. He writes about fonts.” So I offer her this joke to pass along. Helvetica walks into a bar, and the bartender shouts, “Hey, we don’t serve your type here.” It’s ok, she didn’t laugh either.


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Sep 12

Let’s start this week’s roundup with one of my most prolific fellow PF blogger, Miranda Marquit, and her post Is Your Rebate Check Really a Gift Card? In my case, the answer was yes, I bought a hard drive that after rebate was a great price, of course, the rebate came as a gift card. Fortunately, my local grocery store cashiers are great at partial ring-ups and easily applied the card’s value. So, yes, I do buy based on post-rebate prices, whatever form that rebate takes.

I don’t know what share of my readership are fellow bloggers vs interested readers, so I don’t often post about blogging itself or about making money blogging, but my fellow Money Maven Craig Ford’s Make Money Blogging | A Guide for Beginners on How to Make Money Online is an excellent read.This is no ordinary post. Most blog posts top out at 500 words, this one is 7500. Enough so after Craig posts parts 2 and 3, he’d be close to having a full book’s worth of information. Good job, Craig.

My favorite tax tweep Kay Bell had an interesting post on Where does your taxable income rank? As I read her post, I thought how we are a nation obsessed with rankings. You know what I mean, from our sport teams to our school’s rank within our state and our child’s rank within her class. Income is no different, we compare ourselves to our in-laws, our friends, our neighbors. Take a read at Kay’s Don’t Mess With Taxes and see where you rank.

Next, at Wealthyboomer, Jon Chevreau asks Super longevity — are baby boomers up for it? In this post Jon discusses a book titled You Could Live a Long Time: Are You Ready? That’s the trick, I’d say. Die tomorrow, and you can’t take it with you, but live too long and you may easily outlive your money. Jon is one of my fellow PF bloggers from Canada, but nearly all his posts are relevant in the states. With the exception of some specific tax issues, and a bit of an accent, we’re not much different, eh?

Next, we have Financially Poor’s Debunking 401(k) Theory, at look at why cashing out to pay off some high interest debt may actually benefit you in the long run. My observation is that after taxes and penalty, you lose enough on a withdrawal that a loan, currently at 3-4%, may make better sense. I’ve said it before, finance is an individual matter. What’s right for one may not be right for the next guy. For every person who borrows and pays off his 401(k) loan, there may be three who blow it, rack up debt on the cards again, and when losing their job, can’t repay that loan.


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Jul 19

Not a new post, I just can across Zen Habits’ The Cheapskate Guide: 50 Tips for Frugal Living. On any list this long of money saving ideas you are bound to come across at least a hendful that may not have occurred to you. If not, well, you may already be living the frugal life.

Kevin at No Debt Plan offers a way to not over pack for your next trip. Hint: It involves a bit of planning. Titled Create a Master Packing List for Travel, it’s one of those “hey, why didn’t I think of this?” ideas.

Flexo’s post at Consumerism Commentary, 10 Purchases That Can Harm Your Credit, raises new and troubling questions. It seems that credit card issuers can lower their opinion of you (read that, Raise your rate, and/or lower your credit) if you make certain purchases, such as purchases at the 99 cent store or Walmart when you are not already a regular there. The downshifting in spending destinations can make you look suddenly frugal. A sudden string of visits to the Spa/Salon can have the same effect, perhaps you’re going to relax from the stress of not being able to handle your debt in the first place. Further link chain leads to a Marketplace story Credit card use is ripe for data mining.

Next, Sheri from Serene Journey guest posted 40 Things To Teach My Kids Before They Leave Home at My Super-Charged Life. A mix of money related thoughts along with many good skills that everyone should know, this is a great candidate to add to my List of Lists.

Looking forward to another week of PF Blogging…..


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