Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quote of the Week #16

"A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one."

-Henry Ford
found on

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Watching Commercials with the sound off

Since it "'tis the holiday season" I have been over-exposed the last several weeks to various ads designed to do one thing:

"separate my weakened 'greenbacks' from my already abused wallet"

And for the most part, the ads do their jobs exceedingly well, that is until you turn off the sound.

I've noticed, at least for me, that the more ridiculous the ad is - the less it makes sense without a soothing announcer or spokesperson easing your mind into a false sense that the 30-second reality they present to you could be yours - so long as you buy the crap they are peddling. Or, your fear can be averted so long as you buy the crap they are peddling.

What brought this to mind is the fact that I had my TV on mute, as I often do, and looked up to see a Dirt Devil Broom Vac commercial come on.

Since apparently 'embedding' has been disabled for this commercial I've attached the youtube link.

Basic synopsis: A couple is having a dinner party/couples party at their crib when suddenly, someone knocks over a bowl over M&M or M&M looking balls. A female looks knowingly at her male companion and within seconds, the entire party breaks out in dance with their own personal 'Broom Vac's" complete with choreographed dance moves and smiles on everyone's faces.

Sounds pretty ridiculous right? And it is(in my opinion anyway) but, with the sound on it seems perfectly plausible. try watching that commercial with the sound off though.

Message: If you buy this broom vac, AND there is the 1/100,000 chance that you actually have a situation that requires not just your broom, and not just your vacuum - it will most likely be a situation where you are having a dinner party, people will WANT to help you clean and they will break out into dance as they clean in the process all with a smile on. So buy the silly broom vac already!

Other honorable mentions are 1)Car Commercials that make the road suddenly free of other cars or 2) the annual Lexus X-mas commercial w/ a brand new silver Lexus parked out front: - as if a spouse should not be consulted for a major vehicle purchase and a 'surprise' of a new lease will make them happy. (however, if you have enough money to buy and/or qualify for a loan for a brand new Lexus -your money situations probably isn't that bad) . Finally there's 3) the beer/liquor/clothing/cologne ads that presume if you buy their product - the opposite sex will be making a mad dash your way to seek some form of companionship with you. Axe body spray comes to mind.

I would go on but, I've ventured much past my bedtime.

But if you get a chance, just hit the mute button next time you have a commercial break instead of switching the channel or fast-forwarding your DVR - see if your entertained in other ways.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Article/Newsbit of the week: Weak dollar = more trade

So this week, the Article of the week goes to -

Weak Dollar cuts US trade deficit

there is one benefit of the weakening dollar - short term anyway - our trade deficit is beginning to go down as our goods get cheaper and cheaper.

Good thing we still have a bunch of stuff to sell to other countries.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Web Video of the Week: Money as Debt part 3/5

Here is part 3 of the 5 part series of the Money as Debt video. This is the video I ran across the first time that opened my eyes. I guess if you think about it, it's somewhat common sense - but I'd say not that many of us think about it.

Are you dependent on bank credit? Most likely you are, just like the American economy that just took a big hit (well at least the Dow did) today. It would kind of suck if the economy went from a recession (which I think it is already in - no one wants to admit it though) to a depression - which means helloooo - 3 jobs!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Progress Report: week ended 11/25/07

What can I say, thanksgiving 'break' is not so much of a break when you spend the whole time catering to family, friends and soon-to-be family. I haven't accomplished a whole bunch but, maybe this coming weekend will be my true break - one can only hope. :

1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I am still at the Chapter 14 range. Chapters 1-14 are now edited. I did begin editing chapter 15 a tad but then family, friend and fiance obligations took over.
2. Make $100 in alternative income - the old part-time job in market research is not hiring I really don't want to do retail in retail's busiest season either.
3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - I did take some money out of savings in order to pay the credit card debt down a bit. At the same time, I have to save some money for a family member's surprise party that I'll partially be paying for.

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing long lost friends and family for the Holidays but my wallet on the other-hand, has a tendency to get abused in the process. To be honest, I'm not sure how much I spent this weekend but I know it was beyond my means - which bothers me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I'm thankful for...financially and otherwise:

I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on just a few of the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me this past year. Here goes nothing:

  • My beautiful fiance
  • My wonderful family
  • My friends (new & old)
  • Being able to get out of debt the first time, and the 2nd, (working on the 3rd time right now)
  • I'm thankful for my job. but, more so the wonderful company I work for and the opportunities that present themselves daily simply by working for this company.
  • I'm thankful for all the interesting things about finance that I've learned - I look forward to learning much more in the future.
  • I'm thankful to have my car even though she's getting up there in miles
  • I'm thankful I have my own place to sleep
  • I'm thankful that I get to vent a little with this blog
  • I'm thankful that you took the time to read this.
Okie Doke, I'm off to enjoy friends, then family, then my fiance and my family and finally, my fiance and her family - in pretty much that order.

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday - I'll be back sometime early next week if not sooner. Don't buy too much stuff (i.e., crap) on Friday - I know I won't!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

If Jay Z has switched over, is the rap game far behind?

So I finally checked out Jay-Z's new Video - Blue Magic:

As you might notice, at approximately: "0:52", "1:20", & "2:10" - instead of featuring the old-standard 'Benjamin's' he instead features Euro's -500 denomination Euro's at that.

My question is - when will they start putting that funky 'E' symbol above the '4' on the keyboard. The '$' is soooo 2006.

Article/Newsbit of the week: 10 ways to pay cash for X-mas

So I am veering away from the reliable and seeking other sources of Finance news. Mainly because they didn't exactly advertise the fact that the Canadian Loonie surpassed the American dollar.

Anyway, the article:

10 ways to pay cash for Christmas

By Liz Pulliam Weston Talks about just that. A tip that is becoming more and more of a likely necessity is Tip # 5 -

"5. Get a(nother) job
Plenty of businesses add bodies during the holidays: retail stores, package delivery services, craft stores, ski resorts and temp agencies (to fill in for all those vacationing workers). These temporary part-time jobs can boost your pay, and you may qualify for employee discounts. MSN Careers is one place to start looking.

If you need a more flexible gig, consider a home-based business that doesn't require a big upfront investment. Some possibilities: baby-sitting, tutoring, house-sitting, dog walking, errand running, housecleaning, home organization (garage clean-outs and closet tuneups might be particularly appreciated this time of year)."
I may have to work myself to death again to get rid of the debt and pay for X-mas gifts simultaneously. Only time will tell.

Monday, November 19, 2007

WebVideo of the Week: Money as Debt - part 2/5

Here is part 2 of the Money as debt video:

Enjoy, let me know what you think.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

If (when) I become a Millionaire

If i become a Millionaire I plan to do a few things with my money once obtaining it.

1) Take a 3rd ($333,334.00) of my net worth and use it to start a non-profit that focuses on teaching personal finance and job skills to inner city youth

2) Make sure at least another 3rd ($333,333.00) of the remaining wealth is invested in assets that create passive income - rental properties come to mind

3) The remaining 3rd ($333,333.00) would go to a primary residence, transportation and other expenses.

Of course this is a very rough draft but, the first option I plan on keeping.

Progress Report: Week ended 11/18/07

So the past week has been fairly busy with work, getting used to being engaged and continuing to put the finishing touches on a family member's surprise birthday party. Here are the results:

1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I just finished editing Chapters 13 & 14. Chapters 1-14 are now edited.
2. Make $100 in alternative income - no response from the part-time gig application. I may very well try and go back to my old, old part-time job in market research.
3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - with everything going on in my life right now this goals appears to possibly doubtful. It might just come down to my 401k's performance at the end of the month.

I need to find a viable way to create passive income. I guess my main goal is getting my novel edited and out to publishers - mainly due to the fact that if it does eventually get published and it's not absolutely horrible it may provide a nice source of passive income over the next few years.

Hopefully once the work on the book is completed other financial matters can be focused on as well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quote of the Week #15

"Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you're not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were."

David Rockefeller
from the Quotations page

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Progress Report: Week ended 11/11/07 [late post]

OK, so I got really depressed and sorry for myself there a couple days ago and did not want to write. I think I have SAD -assuming you believe in made up mental diseases - because as soon as it gets cold and gloomy outside I am much more likely to take on a "mad-at-the-world' attitude. Yet, the moment the sun comes out I am "up and at 'em".

Anyway, here's the progress thus far:

1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I just finished editing Chapter 10. Chapters 1-10 are now edited.
2. Make $100 in alternative income - sent in a promising application, awaiting a response. - we shall see.
3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - I have done nothing proactive in this regard - just hoping and waiting right now which is not a good strategy. I've got 2 weeks to kick it into gear.

Honestly it's time for me to exert some effort towards the goals. I think I'll be blogging less over the next few weeks. However, I am in a blogging mood right now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

WebVideo of the Week: Money as Debt - part1

If you haven't noticed I'm kind of on a kick about this Money is Debt concept. In order to continue amongst that vein I think I'll post the 5 parts - 1 part a week - over the next 5 weeks - enjoy:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blogging fatigue

I'm not sure If it is due to the increasing amount of responsibilities in my life, the fact that I'm about to get married, the fact that I am looking for a new job or if it's plain just writer's fatigue but I think I may be cutting back significantly on this blog in the short-term while I try and 'handle my bidness' so-to-speak.

I will still try and keep it updated at least weekly but, I have so many other things that need to be focused on and this blog appears to be low on the priority scale right now.

Let me know if you have any ideas - thanks for reading!

Why "Money=Debt" part 2

Today I'd like to wrap up my post on Money is Debt.

Again, I'm basing this post off the video I came across a week ago: Money as Debt. This video up brings up some common truths about money that I feel are quite interesting.

The key issue is a very simple one - that money that is in a bank or money that is being loaned is constantly creating more and more debt be it to the bank or in the example of our country to other countries we owe money to. This has created a world of never-ending debt.

As people and countries, work and work to get out of debt, in general they are on a never-ending treadmill of debt because the amount they pay back is always more than what they originally owed. When this goes on for years and years more and more energy has to be put in to pay back a debt. In the case of the U.S. though - this leads to a crippling amount of debt(+$9 trillion), the kind of debt that makes the world begin to say "your money's not good here" or at least "your money is not AS good here as it used to be". That's basically what the world is beginning to say in not so subtle ways as the American dollar loses more and more of it's value compared to the Euro and other currencies such as the Loonie.

Einstein once said:

The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest

The true question is -'Can our country's addiction to easy credit and unrestrained consumption be sustained?' or 'Can we keep buying all the crap we want without any drawbacks?'. In my opinion the short answer is 'no' we cannot.

The video Money as Debt offers a few solutions to the perceived problem with today's money system:

  • Taxing bank profits - if our government began to more effectively tax bank profits we could definitely begin to see a reduction in our nation's overall debt. However, the taxation of banks would most likely lead to either higher loan prices for consumers or lower overall return on individuals investments or most likely both.
  • Banking as non-profit service - I think this would be a wonderful idea. The only problem with this is that so many in powerful positions are linked to the banking industry that a law or a non-profit such as this would likely ever come to fruition because bankers enjoy their income and most experienced bankers would not settle for a lower income.
  • Return to gold-based money - money that is backed by gold in the bank (like the U.S. Dollar used to be) would be a fairly durable type of money and might hedge inflation a tad, However, gold is obviously very hard these days to value and even if the process suddenly became easier, those that are fairly wealthy may try and corner the market on gold and deplete the world's gold supplies by holding it for themselves.
  • Return to silver-based money - since silver is more plentiful it might work a little bit better to make a durable currency however, again the issue becomes how you can value silver on a regular basis without speculating.
  • No-interest money - The idea here is that if money was based equally for everyone - possibly based on hours worked - rather than dollars per hour. There would be less inequality for money and dollars would retain there value longer. However, who's to say that the work that a retail cashier does should be reimbursed at the same rate that say a judge or a doctor? ( I have a feeling this idea wouldn't go well at all here in the U.S.)
  • Local barter system - This idea would be to have a barter system for local goods in your local area. As Dobson (my relative) mentioned, this would most likely be a step backward for progress in my opinion.
  • Inflation instead of taxes. - one last unique idea would be to have a steady amount of inflation instead of taxes on income. I think this would be confusing at first, but may work. It would possibly put a strain on the Fed - as for example : One Month you may earn $50,000 and a few months later - due to inflation, you may Earn $60,000 so the value of certain items would continually be fluxed.
After a long discussion about this article/video with Dobson (my relative who is extremely interested in economics, just not in making any posts here) it seems that - in his opinion the fact that Money is debt is a basic economic principal. The fact that money is simply created without any pre-existing money to show for it is a part of this process.

I think it is somewhat depressing though, that Money - this this thing that we can eat, we can't stack to create shelter, we can't use as clothing - but we are so dependant on - is made simply by signing our signature on loan documents - again and again. Hopefully, my signature will only be needed for one house...and I'll be paying cash (or Euro's - *sigh*) for everything else.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why Money is Debt - Part 1

So a few days ago - Monday - namely, I came to a very surreal conclusion: Money is Debt

I watched the mini documentary Money as Debt which explains in very simple terms how Money essentially creates more debt by it's mere existence.

This may only be interesting to the financially savvy but in essence it affects and has an effect on us all. It explains why the rich continue to get richer and why the poor get poorer.

In the video, it explains something most of us know - that the money originated as a way to simplify the barter system.

What most of don't know is the middle-age to present day history of money. The first uniform type of money that crossed cultural and country borders was gold. With the acceptance of gold came the birth of the Gold-smith.

The goldsmith's tale: The Goldsmith was the first form of a Banker. The Goldsmith job was to craft Gold in order that people could exchange things for there goods in services without necessarily lugging said goods and services around. At first, the Goldsmith created a vault in order to keep his gold safe when it wasn't being lent out to people in exchange for their goods & services. Eventually though, people began to hold onto more and more of their gold coins and since the gold was becoming more and more accepted as rightful exchange for other goods and services - people began asking Goldsmith's if they could keep there excess gold in his vault as they were worried about someone stealing it.

The Goldsmith agreed and soon he had piles and piles of Gold. The Goldsmith eventually decided to begin loaning out his gold to others who wanted to borrow it. He made a decent amount of return on his gold but eventually he wanted to make even more due to the fact

Government created money represents less than 5%, of the money in circulation today. 95% of money in circulation today is due to bank debt and/or interest agreements - i.e.,: Loans. Money that you put into the bank is now immediately loaned back out again at a rate of 9:1 . The federal reserve requirement ratio is now about 9:1 - that means for every $100 you deposit into the bank, the bank only has to have a maximum of $10 available. If you multiply this thousands of times or millions of times over it ends up being a pretty precarious situation if everyone decides to pull out more than 9% of their deposits - the banks and then slowly the American economy will come to a halt.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Quote of the Week #14

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”

Kenneth Boulding, economist

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Quick tip - Don't get into debt

OK, I know this is somewhat intuitive and self-evident but I am currently working on a much longer more detailed post on why Money is debt. The Video Money as Debt - has opened my eyes and I think it would be beneficial to open others as well.

Bottom line - don't go into debt - if you are in debt get out.

I have a co-worker friend who I would say is relatively financially savvy. However, we differ greatly on our debt-tolerance.

My opinion - that I've formed over the last several years - is that any type of debt should be gotten rid of as soon as possible.

Her opinion - is that people can still make money and sometimes achieve a lot better returns by investing the money they would have spent on debt into say the stock market
or other investments.

My argument for today would be - did you see the 360 points the Dow dropped today?

Bottom line - get out of debt & stay out of debt.

(I think I have the first part mastered - it's just the second part I'm having trouble with. )

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Article/Newsbit of the Week: Loonie surges past 108 cents US

So if you didn't check out yesterday's video blog about how Money is Debt you should.

The following article (which is the end result of the above documentary video) can not be easily found on my favorite News source -

Instead, I had to look to the often over-looked Canadian media - i.e., for the interesting article:

Higher commodities, earnings boosts stocks; Loonie surges past 108 cents US

That's right the title says it all, the Loonie (aka the Canadian dollar) is now worth 108 American cents.

Or, put another way, Those magazines that used to say $3 American/$4 Canadian are no longer accurate - it's more like $3 American/$2.76 Canadian...those worthless Canadian pennies don't seem so worthless anymore.

Monday, November 5, 2007

WebVideo of the Week: Money is Debt [this sh*t is deep!]

Wow, who knew 10 minutes could enlighten you on why America is so deep in debt right now.

I guess the short answer is that stock brokers, bankers and other fat cats need America to be in debt otherwise they wouldn't make so much money by barely working.

For the longer answer, check out the video above - this is eye-opening to me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Progress Report - for week ended 11/4/07

So it's been a few days since I set my goals - here's the progress thus far:

  1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I just finished editing Chapter 7. Chapters 1-7 are now edited.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - I am in the process of filling out applications right now. Nothing retail, for now, but I'm not ruling that out completely.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - this will take work and Goal #2 multiplied about 10-20-fold in order to reach but, I have 25 days left so hopefully I'll make some progress over the next 3 weeks or so.
Hopefully, I will be able to achieve all three goals. [Channeling good luck now]

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The $3500 book - don't get it dirty.

So I went to Half-price books, yesterday, my 2nd favorite book store and to be honest where I buy most of my books (it's half-priced come on!).

I went in mainly to pick up a free newspaper that is distributed over there. As I was browsing a guy and his wife/girlfriend approached the 'buy-back counter there'.

The book-buyer/clerk was very professional and said " How can I help you today?!" In a cheery voice.

This guy says "I'd like to sell a book" in a matter-of-fact kind of tone. Standard fare so I didn't pay much attention - at first.

The book-buyer politely asked "can I see what you have?' or something to that effect.

At this point this guy asks "How clean is your counter?"

The book-buyer struggled for answer to this odd question and eventually said- "well , it is relatively clean but, we do buy several books here every day"

This guy says - mind you, raising his voice so the whole store could hear him - he says "Well how often do you get $3,500 dollar books in here!"

The book-buyer of course says " well not very often"

This guy says "That's right so I need you to make sure you take extra special care with it"

The book-buyer assured him that he would. I honestly wanted to start busting out laughing (to admit I did chuckle a little) and say to the guy:

'That must've been some really good book salesman! or an idiot with cash to burn or quite possibly a mixture of the two'

But instead I looked over and saw a hard-cover book that was 1' x 2' and had it's own personal carrying box. And a plastic sleeve.

I didn't quite catch what the book was but in the end the book-buyer there explained that he didn't feel he was experienced enough to give the guy an accurate price that he would buy the book back at. He asked the guy to come back later in the week when a more experienced book-buyer would be there.

When that guy left - I could over-hear the book buyer's chuckling amongst themselves but didn't hear them say anything overtly negative about the guy. I think they might have mentioned that book had something to do with Medical terminology or something but, that (overweight) guy (with a Harley-Davidson logo cap) did not look like a Doctor nor did his companion look like a well-heeled trophy wife.

I guess I have several questions for this guy:

  1. Are you a Doctor? if so, why do you live in my lower -middle-class neighborhood?
  2. If you made the investment of $3,500 in mind-boggling or oddly-specific knowledge, why would you 'sell' that knowledge to a half-priced bookstore where the most you will get back is maybe 25% of the purchase price, if not less.
  3. Do you think people will respect you more if they know how much you paid for your crappy book? (I personally went from no opinion to complete lack of respect)
  4. Why did you have to be such a jerk to the book-buyer?
I'm sure I would have other questions too if I had time to pick his magnificent mind but, I guess ultimately I wonder how valuable are bound books anymore? With the wonder that is the Internet, just about any piece of knowledge, with the exception of secret-society knowledge (Morals & Dogma comes to mind) is already out there for easy reading.

The most I have ever heard as far as book prices is probably in the $200-300 range for College and University class books which is really just a scam (in my opinion) between college book publishers and College bookstores.

Of course there are out-of-print books that can be auctioned off but this was NOT one of those books judging by the cellophane wrapping and the cover - my guess is that it was published in the past 10-15 years.

The most I've ever considered paying for a book is about $100 for an unabridged dictionary. Am I wrong for thinking $3,500 is a little much for just about any book published in the past decade or so?

Blog of the Week: Genius types

This week's blog of the week goes to Brian over at Genius Types.

His post:

The Key to Entrepreneurial Success is Balancing Business and Creativity

Is very well written and thought provoking. It talks about the two different type of entrepreneurs. The creative types - like myself. And the Business-minded types.

I found the different descriptions pretty enlightening. Although I do consider myself pretty creative, I'm not that much of a risk taker at all. I'm fairly focused on doing whatever is least risky - hence my over-whelming fear of debt.

It is a great post. Check it out.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm so proud of my fiance

My fiance, a few days ago pleasantly surprised me...

As she was talking about wedding-this and bridal-that she said the word 'budget' without any prompting from me. I may have not been paying attention* but as soon as she mentioned 'budget' my attention snapped back.

As I sat there dumbfounded for a few seconds I eventually regained my composure and heard her repeat "wedding budget" and I realized again why I want to marry this woman.

After I came down from my cloud of joy/relief (the next day) we agreed on a set budget amount for the wedding and the things we will need for the wedding.

I guess my frugality is starting to rub off on her. That's a great thing in my opinion.

*this is very unlikely as I always listen to everything my fiance says matter what! Love you babe.

October results / November goals:

So here are the results for my goals for the end of October:

  1. Sell more things on E-bay: - FAILURE - after a bad experience with a 'brick & mortar' E-bay store I became a little disillusioned with selling things online. Never-to-fear though, a co-worker in my work's Personal finance book club will be teaching other groups members how to sell things on e-bay in a week or so.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - FAILURE - lack of focus and multiple distractions are the main reason this goal failed. Hopefully, November will be a little less dramatic. I did make give or take $10 though, now I need to multiply that.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (again) - FAILURE - one step forward, two steps back. I was within striking distance, in fact, I was above the goal for a while but, an engagement here and car trouble there plummeted me back to earth. Time to get up and try again
  4. Apply/try out for 3 finance related freelancing jobs - SUCCESS - I did apply/try out for 3 finance related freelance jobs and I'm still potentially in talks with one client. However, as Yoda says do or don't "There is no try".
  5. Pay off remainder of debt/collection - SUCCESS* - I did pay off my collection however, it was shortly replaced with new debt a few weeks later - hence the asterisk.

Goals for the end of October:

  1. Finish chapter editing on novel
  2. Make $100 in alternative income
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm)
Hopefully less goals will be easier to focus on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October 2007 - Net Worth

Okie Doke, it appears that the debt has come back to haunt me. I blame the terrorists.

Also, a spontaneous engagement and even more spontaneous car breakdown do not bode well for the pocketbook.

I'm really kind of sick of the way my Net Worth is 'trending' and I plan to correct the trend shortly.

Ultimately, I need a second stream of income. At the same time, I have no interest in picking up a part-time retail job at the mall again. I'd like to look into something more long term and less labor intensive. Only time will tell. [crossing fingers as I focus]

Quote of the Week #13

"Everyone experiences tough times, it is a measure of your determination and dedication how you deal with them and how you can come through them."
-Lakshmi Mittal