Tuesday, June 30, 2009

HyperInflation Nation Movie:

HYPERINFLATION NATION is a new documentary that takes an in depth look at the Federal Reserve, our currency, debt, and future obligations that are combining to create a drop in the value of YOUR dollar. It feature Ron Paul, Peter Schiff, Jim Rogers, Tom Woods, Marc Faber and highly recommend taking the time to look at.

Thanks to Money Energy for tipping me to this! To visit Michael Shanklin’s Youtube Channel please click here. If you enjoy this check out I.O.U.S.A One Nation. Under Stress. In Debt.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Is Gold a Good Investment?

Lately you hear people talking about Gold more and more, and you hear them saying to buy it, and buy as much as you can. There seem to be a lot of crazy ideas going on about Gold, experts like Peter Schiff who I respect and who called the real estate bubble says that Gold could go as high as $2000 an ounce. There are also crazy late night infomercials cash for gold where you send in your gold for a very small amount of cash. Then there are some that claim it's time to start shorting Gold.  So the question remains, is "Is Gold a Good Investment"? Well for one thing it is not an investment at all, buyers are "speculating" on its future price, they are not investing in a growing business, nonetheless it can be useful to investors. 

Gold has also been used in the past as currency for different cultures for thousands of years. Up until 1971, all US dollars were convertible into gold on demand. This itself makes it very unique from other commodities not to mention all the other things gold has been used for over the span of 5000 years.

Barry Ritholtz has some interesting takes on gold, some of his points are:
In times of turmoil, gold always seem to be a safe haven. Gold has not been dependent upon any state or government, unlike paper currency, its worth comes from the willingness of people over history to assign a specific value.
He also says:
"Gold is a store of value, a way to maintain wealth over time(capital preservation);stocks on the other hand, represent a way to generate a return on value(capital growth)."
"Equities do well when there is low inflation(and no deflation), stable currency, economic growth, strong property rights, the rule of law and most of all, political and economic stability."
The exact opposite conditions are good for gold's value. We are seeing just that with the price of gold. The global economy has been hit with inflation over the last half decade (because the U.S. Federal Reserve ultra low rates after the 2001 market crash).  Also we have been seeing no political stability with the last and present administrations (Bush driving us towards the cliff and instead of turning Obama is just stepping on the gas - Peter Schiff). Add to all this the Real Estate and Credit crisis and you have the perfect environment for gold prices to gain value.

So should we own gold? Barry Ritholtz says to consider 3 things:

1. Easy money has probably been made - gold went from $250-$1000 and since March 2008 gold has mostly gone sideways.

2.Contrarians like to buy assets that have become cheap and sell assets that have become dear. He has been bearish on stocks, but since they have been cut in half they have been constructive on equities. Some ETF's he did point out where (GLD, NEM, RGLD) as inflation hedges.

3. Since gold is a safe haven during periods of unrest, it could become more attractive if it unwinds even more. He says to watch and see if the spot price of gold moves above $1000 or if (GLD) trades above $100, he recommends buying in these circumstances.

As far as what I am doing, I am just sitting back and kinda watching. Gold works well as a inflation hedge. I think everyone should have a little bit for having a diversified portfolio. I would stay away from aggressively buying , unless the some of the circumstances change. And with this administration, anything can change, and as I see it, it is changing fast.

Leave a comment and let me know if you will be buying gold anytime soon. Should everyone have a little gold?

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Golden Rule: Don't have Debt

In the personal finance world we all know that debt is the sure fire way to live moneyless and is the reason why people cannot create wealth. You know how I feel about debt and that we as a nation have to stop carrying debt from individuals, corporations, and mostly our government. If you don't care about those things I would highly suggest watching I.O.U.S.A. I believe for the most part, that a large majority of US consumers have figure this out and are working to cut down their debt. I am pretty sure that our government is doing the exact opposite as running up massive debt—which we will talk about later.

I came across an article yesterday on cnnmoney by Paul La Monica that talks about how companies with low debt loads are out performing stocks of firms that are in massive amounts of debt. Here are some interesting stats from the article:
According to figures from Thomson Baseline, shares of S&P 500 companies with a long-term debt to capital ratio below 34% -- the S&P 500 average -- are up an average of 10.3% this year. The S&P 500 stocks with debt loads above 34% are up only 1.2%.

This holds true for smaller companies too. Firms in the S&P SmallCap 600 with a below-average debt load are up 7.2% this year while those with higher debt loads are down 1.6%.

Shares of S&P 500 firms that are debt-free are up an average of 15.6% this year. Debt-free tech giants Apple and Google have both surged more than 30%.
So we can see here as well, that for companies and personal investors, that debt is not the way to go. If you were to invest your hard earned money in a company, would you invest in a company whose balance sheet is pristine or in one that is carrying a load of debt?

Craig Callahan, founder of ICON Advisers, an investment firm with $3.5 billion in assets tells us why companies that have low debt have an advantage.
"In times like this, companies with high cash and low debt levels are in a better position to survive and take advantage of opportunities to grow through acquisitions,"
"Any type of financing is tough to come by. And in cyclical businesses, firms with no or little debt have a competitive advantage,"
Paul La Monica even names our good government handout buddies Lehman Brothers and General Motors along with General Growth Properties as example of companies that carried around to much debt. (note: why wouldn't they take on risk if they are going to get bailed out? General Growth Properties filed for bankruptcy) Callahan makes a great point when he says that companies with high cash and low debt levels are able to grow through acquisitions. Only if the government would allow companies to fail so other companies could buy up there assets and expand.

The golden rule here is pretty simple: don't have debt. Don't carry around personal debt, don't invest in companies that have debt, don't be a business that carries debt, and don't allow our government to spend us into nonsustaining debt. Why can everyone see this except our government?

Related Post
GM - Government Motors

Would you invest in a company that was high in debt? Is debt ok for some individuals, businesses, or our government? Leave a comment!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tax Credit For Home Buyers Expanding from 8K to 15k?

So we have officially started the process of home buying. We meet informally with our agent the other week and talked about what steps we need to take to get the ball rolling. We are currently looking for a home as close to downtown as we can. It needs to be affordable, nice, and most importantly safe. We are looking mostly for town homes because we do not want to deal with the upkeep with a yard. We are not opposed to a house, but it would need to be one we really like. 

We are in no rush as there seems to be a lot of real estate out there right at the moment. Another question we are asking is for the first time home buyers tax credit, is it going to be expanded to 15k? As long as talks like this remain we are going to be taking our time. What is the rush if they extend or even up the ante. We have been saving and waiting for a time when we can afford something and with that tax credit it would just make everything just a bit more affordable.

Also with my fiancé working for the school district and being a state employee, there looks as if there a couple options for us to get really low mortgage rates. We haven't fully explored all these options as we are taking our time.

If you haven't already heard about this, here are some highlights from the USA Today article:

Bernard Baumohl and economist at the EOG says:
"I'm fairly confident that (Congress) will extend the tax credit, because it is so important that housing come back,"
Here are a few proposal on the table:
A Senate bill to expand the tax credit to $15,000 for any home buyer regardless of income was introduced this month by Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. It is co-sponsored by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

Another bill in the House, introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, would extend the credit to all home buyers through 2010.

A House bill to keep the $8,000 credit in place until June 2010 and expand it to all home buyers was introduced last month by Rep. Kenny Marchant, R-Texas. It also would provide a $3,000 credit to homeowners who refinance.
This will keep us moving at a fairly slow pace unless we find something that is A) a steal or B) we fall in love with. Every month that goes buy is more money to put down, even though it would be nice for our rent money to be building some equity.

One thing that stood out to me in the article though is "tax credit to $15,000 for any home buyer regardless of income" - Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't this what caused the housing bubble in the first place? Why are we allowing people to buy houses that cannot afford one? And why is it important for housing to come back so fast? Why can't we allow the markets to correct themselves? Its econ 101(supply and demand)there are more houses for sale than they are buyers. There seems to be a ton of houses for sales in our area and North Carolina hasn't been hit very hard with the housing crisis.

Should we wait? Go slow or dive right in? Leave a comment!

Recovery: Government Spending vs Private Spending

Last night I was reading a post over at Cafe Hayek about Henry Morgenthau and the success of the New Deal. He  conceded this to the congressional Democrats in May 1939: 
"We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong ... somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises... I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started... And an enormous debt to boot!"

Burton Folsom, Jr., New Deal or Raw Deal? (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2008)
What I really enjoyed about the post was reading all the comments and seeing such a wide variety of thoughts on the subject. I think there will always be a debate about the great depression and I am pretty sure that there is going to be a lasting debate about this economic recession/depression. 

One of the comments that I found the most interesting was the last commentator Michael Smith. My personal beliefs are somewhere around his ideas:
"Government spending will not “stimulate” the economy for the simple reason that all government spending is ultimately done at the expense of private spending. To spend, government must either 1) take money directly from the people in taxes, or 2) borrow the money from the people, or 3) print the money up.

If government spends a dollar that it got by taxation, that is simply a dollar spent by government that was not spent by the taxpayer. Likewise, if government spends a dollar it borrowed from the citizens, that is simply another dollar the citizens don’t have to spend. And if government spends a dollar that it printed up, that simply reduces the value of all the citizen’s dollars proportionally. But in no case has government created new, additional purchasing power that can drive new, additional economic activity.

Government spending can divert production (and consequently employment) from one area to another. But it will not, in aggregate, increase production or employment.

Look, if government spending/action were the key to economic growth, we should be experiencing full employment and record economic growth, because the Bush administration has increased government spending by over 1 trillion dollars a year. An increase of a TRILLION dollars per year. Yet, here we are sliding into a recession."
I think the reader make a very strong case in his last paragraph, that everyone is quick to blame the last administration (and look, as they should) for getting us into this mess. As Peter Schiff says that the old administration is driving us towards a cliff and all the new one is doing is steeping on the gas. I know it is more complicated than this, but overall government spending is just not the answer to this situation.

Only time will tell and I am sure that 70-80 years from now we will still be debating this...let's just hope we are not talking about the second great depression by the Bush and Obama administrations instead of the Hoover and Roosevelt.

These are the opinions of our founding fathers and myself that call for limited government. What do you think? Are we headed to recovery or to depression? How is this administration doing? Leave me a comment.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New York: John D. Rockefeller and Atlas Shrugged

This past weekend we went to visit my sister in New York. I have been to New York a few times and each time I enjoy going to see something new. We arrived in NY Friday morning and one of the things I wanted to see was the Atlas sculpture at the Rockefeller Center which is on the cover of Atlas Shrugged soft cover. It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

One of my favorite parts besides the Atlas was reading the inscription on this granite slab that faces the Rockefeller building over looking the ice rink as written by John D Rockefeller Jr. 
“I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.
I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master.
I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs.
I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.
I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond; that character — not wealth or power or position— is of supreme worth.
I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual’s highest fulfillment, greatest happiness, and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will.
I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.”
Wow, what can you say except that it is incredible that a man could express his beliefs in such an amazing way. We as individuals and our government need to take a hard look at the list of principles in which John D. Rockefeller Jr. believed. We as a society could learn so much from this, I can honestly say that I believe in every word he says here.

If you are ever in NYC, I would recommend going and seeing the Rockefeller Center. What do you think of Rockefeller's beliefs? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Identity Theft: What to do If you become a victim?

I wrote a guest post about my experience with identity theft over at Ask Mr Credit Card, but what happens when you become a victim? Your life changes forever and unfortunately, the victims are burdened with resolving their credit issues. It is very important that you act fast to minimize the further use and damage that the thief can cause.

What to do if you become a victim:

Set up a folder
It is crucial for you to keep a detailed folder with the history of this crime. You are going to have a ton documents that you are going to need and be available once everything is resolved. The crime itself will stay with you for at least 7-10 years and you want to make sure if something comes up, you have the documents to prove you where innocent .

Keep a log of contacts/documents
From the time you realize you identity has been stolen, you need to start making copies of paperwork. Whether it is a collection agency or credit card company, copy any document associated with the theft. You will need to send these documents to various agencies.

Contact creditors
Unfortunately you will need to contact all creditors by phone and in writing to inform them that you have had your identity stolen.  

Contact credit bureaus
Make sure to ask for the fraud units of the three credit report, ask them to have a "Fraud Alert/Victim Impact" statement placed in your credit file asking that creditors call you before opening any new accounts. You will also need to obtain and monitor your credit reports and make sure nothing else shows up that is or looks suspicious.

Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

Fraud Alerts:

Opt-out of mailing lists:


PO Box 9532
Allen TX, 75013

Opt-out of mailing lists:

Trans Union:
P.O. Box 6790,
Fullerton, CA  92834.

Fraud Alerts:

Opt-out of mailing lists:

File a Police report:
Report the crime to your local police department ASAP. Give them as much details, paperwork or any other evidence for the report to help catch the criminal. Make sure the police report lists the fraudulent accounts. Make sure to get a copy, and make sure it is called an "Identity Theft Report". Keep a log of the agent or who you filed the report with and give it to creditors and banks.

You are going to need and check your credit reports regularly and make sure to keep a lock on all things related. I am actually a Lifelock member, but I pay around $120.00 a year. I don't think you need it, but it is that extra protection. With Lifelock get my credit reports free and if I was to lose my wallet or anything I can call them and they will do all the leg work for me...is it worth $10 month? Probably not, but I enjoy the extra comfort

If you need to write a letter here is a sample letter to write to any collection agency to dispute any identity theft. Whatever you do, never pay a collection agency for identity theft, even if they pressure you and say stuff like "You will be reimbursed once case is solved"

More information on identity theft:

Related Links

I hope this helps and I hope that you never have to experience it. If you do bookmark this page and follow these steps! Have a great weekend

Regulation Revamp: Jim Chanos On The Great Financial Fraud

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Free Market and Personal Finance

I have been slowly reading Liberty and Tyranny by Mark Levin and he has a chapter devoted to the free market. The book itself is very interesting, and you can tell the amount of time(I believe 16 months) and thought he put into it. It explores the question, "What is the meaning of the word 'conservatism'?" and discusses many modern perspectives that attempt to claim the title of true conservative principles.There is a reason it is and has been on the best seller list for a while. He backs up every argument by citing about every point he makes. I want to point out some quotes that I love from this chapter, since I am such a believer in the free markets.  

The following is an excerpts from Liberty and Tyranny © Copyright, 2009, by Mark Levin.

He start the chapter by saying:
The free market is the most transformative of economic systems. It fosters creativity and inventiveness. It produces new industries, products, and services, as it improves upon existing ones. With millions of individuals freely engaged in a an infinite number and variety of transactions each day, it is impossible to even conceive all the changes and plans for change occurring in our economy at any given time. The free market creates more wealth and opportunities for more people than any other economic model.
I couldn't agree more...he goes on:
The free market is the only economic system that produces on a sustainable basis, and for the overwhelming majority of Americans, an abundance of food, housing, energy, and medicine—the staples of human survival; it creates an astonishing array of consumer goods that add comfort, value, and security to the quality of life; and the free market recognizes that it is in man's DNA to take risk, to innovate, to achieve, to compete, and to acquire—to not only survive but also improve his circumstance.
and that we should:
emphasize that the individual knows better how to make and spend that which he has earned from his own labor and provide for his family than do the bureaucracies populated by strangers who see classes of people rather than individual human beings. As Founder James Wilson observed, "By exclusive property, the productions of the earth and the means of subsistence are secured and preserved, as well as multiplied. What belongs to no ones is wasted by every one. What belongs to one man in particular is the object of his economy and care."
That is why just lately I have dove into politics. Personal finance is all about "His" or the individuals economy and care. Anyone who cares about personal finance should be all about this and I see all the time bloggers, co-workers, and friends that do not take the time to see that our wealth is slowly being taken from us. I believe that we need a government for our basic necessities, but the government is growing rapidly and spending our taxes carelessly to the point that we are going to wake up one day and our wealth we be gone. Don't think it can happen? Keep listening to those turkey in Washington and we will find out...take a look

Do you think the government help everyone become wealthy? Leave me a comment

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Collapse Dynamics

Sorry guys, I am slammed today, but I came across a comic yesterday from Noah Raford's presentation on Collapse Dynamics from the London School of Economics. Pretty interesting if you have some time to kill...

Click image to enlarge. Have a great day!

Monday, June 15, 2009

10 Things not to say at work

I think we all know how bad the economy is and during the economy most of us are just happy to have a job when so many are losing them everyday. This weekend while I was driving around, running some errands I heard a topic on talk radio about the 10 things not to say at work. When I got home I googled the article and found a couple articles which seem to have the same origin. In this article by Rachel Zupek for Careerbuilder she has a nice list, check it out for more details.

Here are the ten things you should never say at work:

1. "That's not my job.": We have all wanted to say this before, but it shows that you want to do the least amount that is necessary for success.

2. "I don't mind helping you with that." (With a fake smile pasted on your face.): Don't offer to help and then complain about it. Running a business or being hired as employee, you do what it take to make your job and the company successful, even if you do not feel like doing it.

3. "Don't tell anyone I said this, but ... ": Gossip is human nature, but don't do it at work, if it really is a secret keep it to yourself, besides are you willing to trust that person to not go and gossip and to associate your name with it?

4. "I haven't gotten a raise, EVER.": This just proves to who ever that you are not productive. Salaries are based off how productive you are and asking for a raise based off the time you have been with a company just says "I want more money" - not that you deserve it.

5. “It’s not my fault.”: This is a classic— I work a few people that say this everyday. No one cares who fault it is, if you have already dropped the ball, fix it. for the most part everyone I work with is good at their job, so when you hear it constantly you know it the person always mentioning that "It's not my fault" is the one who is at fault.

6. "I'm so ... stressed out/busy/sick of working here.": Complaints, complaints, and more complaints—everyone is stressed, everyone works hard, no one want to hear anybody complaining and telling you their problems. This is very easy to do, I have to admit I have used this one before... I only do it with coworkers who understand my situation and know that it is just venting. (FYI - In advertising you have to vent or you are going to lose it, eventually.)

7. "Whom did you vote for?" or "What religion are you?": Well, this one went right out the door when it comes to advertising - almost every single co-worker of mine has a Shepard Fairey Obama Poster. Even my boss told the company he was voting for Obama (which I was absolutely floored when he said that) All I know is that I didn't let anyone know my views till after the elections, which I simply said I don't like any of those turkeys up in Washington

8. "I got so trashed last night ...":Oh the classic Friday morning water cooler conversation. You just don't want this to get back to the boss, even though again with advertising you might hear this on any day of the week. 

9. "I don't have time for that.": Everyone is busy and if your boss ask you to do something, you better step up and fine time for it. If not then it is going to lead to more time management on you. They will make sure all your time is spent correctly.

10. “…or else.”: or else what? If you threaten, be prepared to face every consequence that is coming you way. This truly is a no-no.

These are a good outline that the best workers should review every so often. Sometimes we get in traps and hear people complain, and bitch and the next thing you know we are doing the same exact thing. I try and avoid those types of co-workers, and do my best to live with them if I am on a project with them. Do you have co-worker who do these? Have you ever done these? Leave me a comment.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Buying A Home: Chapter One

Today, my fiancé  and I are meeting with a realtor that has been recommended to us for the first time. We only have a small idea of what we are getting into, but I am researching and I will be posting about our experience as first time home buyers. We know where we want to live, but not sure what we can afford in the area. We also do not know what our best option for getting the right mortgage, my fiancé works for the public schools so she might be able to get a better rate with the NC State Employees Credit Union.

Some of our main objectives for the meeting are:

What is our best option if we are only looking to stay for 3-5 years?  We know prices are falling and who knows what the next few years are going to be like for real-estate, what  should we do to protect ourselves so we are not in a situation where we cannot upgrade in 5 years.

Are there homes in the area we like that we can really afford? I like Dave Ramsey's rule of being able to afford a house:

Can I make at least a 10% (preferably 20%) down payment?
Can I afford a 15-year fixed rate loan?
Can I keep the house payments at or below 25% of my monthly take-home pay?

I've heard a good idea which I need to research more on, but to get a 30-year loan and pay it off in 15. The rate might be a little bit higher but it does take some of the pressure off if something where to happen? We will see about this one...

Should we shore up some credit? I have around 17k in debt that I can pay down if I needed to. The wedding ring is on a 0%APR for this year so I could  pay it down if I needed to. It really depends on how much that is going to effect our mortgage? We both have excellent credit so I don't think it will be a problem. When I first moved to North Carolina I spoke with a mortgage lender and he told me I had Grade A rating, so hopefully I can keep moving along paying every month .

What is our best option with receiving the Tax Credit for First-Time home buyers? We just want to make sure we do everything right so we can take full advantage of the credit. We are both first time home buyers, so how can we maximize this.

This is just a preliminary meeting and we will be moving forward from here, am I missing any initial questions I should be asking? Please leave a comment and everyone have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Peter Schiff: Daily Show

Peter Schiff believes Americans have to go back to a basic economy that grows based on savings, not consumer credit. See Post below

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Peter Schiff
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorNewt Gingrich Unedited Interview

Just how miserably has the stimulus failed?

Once we all wake up and realize that our government cannot create jobs, we will all start heading in the right direction. Keynesian Economics just does not work, I ask my readers to truly take a look at all situations on this matter, our government is destroying our wealth daily. We need to make sure we don't wake up and one day our freedoms and wealth are all gone. Your personal finances are directly related to our government, so take the time to research and make sure while your creating wealth politicians aren't destroying all your hard work.

I just wish that our politicians would not be so arrogant, that they think they can solve all the problems. Since the beginning of this economic collapse, all I have heard is lies about our economy, from President Bush to Hank Pualson, Braney Frank to Alan Greenspan, from President Obama to Ben Bernanke, and NOTHING, NOTHING IS WORKING!!!! Quit spending our money and our children's money!!! 

What do you think? Think our government can create jobs? Do you disagree with what out government ha been doing over the last 8-9 years? leave me a comment

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Generic Brand vs Name Brand

Being in the field of advertising I know a little something about selling a brand over another brand. The research and details we find to give that brand an advantage over the competition. I have never worked on any generic brands, but I know they do not put the amount of dollars into there advertising as the name brands we all know so well. Advertisers spend so much money researching and using focus groups to find out what would make the consumer buy their brands. When it comes to shopping and trying to save as much money as possible, many people skip the store brand for the more expensive name brand. Consumers might not know it, but they are spending way more money than they need, and could be saving a lot of money in the process.

Some reasons that name brand items are more expensive can be because of a higher quality of their products along with the quality control they have. While generic brands take away all the nice and thought out designs and advertising, along with a downgrade in quality, all to make the product cheaper for the consumer. 

There are products for me that I can buy generic store brand and they taste the same, have same quality, and are just as healthy as the name brand version of it. Here is a list of the top 5 Brand name items that no matter what I will not skimp on, and the top 5 products I will always try and buy generic.

5 items that I buy Name Brand:
1. Toilette paper: I don't even have to explain this one, this is simple, something I will not degrade my life with buying a cheaper generic sandpaper.

2. Ketchup: I have tried and tried and it might be mental, but I cannot find a generic brand that taste like heinz, which I love, and I don't use it often. When I do I want it to taste as good as I remember. I sometime do not enjoy restaurants if they have a weird brand or organic ketchup, I am used to heinz, so you could call me a ketchup snob.

3. Olive Oil: As far as taste goes you want to get the best and usually the most expensive, even though I do not purchase the most expensive I always look for the middle of the road brand, and always look for the darkest which is the bases of what is good olive oil.

4. Potato/Tortilla Chips: For the most part generic brand chips are less healthy and do not taste good, I  enjoy getting a higher price brand like kettle chips and such that dont seem as greasy as the generic. Generic brand tortilla chip always seem to taste like cardboard so I always try and avoid those when I can.

5. Shampoo and most other beauty products: I am allergic to certain shampoos and other beauty products, if I use a cheaper brand that has different ingredients, it makes me break out so I don't really have a choice in the matter.
5 items that I will buy generic:
1. Sparkling water: We love sparkling water in our house and instead of purchasing the name brand water, we try and always purchase the store brand generic seltzer water which taste exactly they same, and sometimes they have more flavors.

2. Yogurt: Going target, I have fallen in love with pretty much all their store brand products, I actually prefer the Archer Farms target brand better than the name brand one. The taste is better and it is just as healthy as the name brand.

3. Mustard: As I will not buy anything except name brand on ketchup, I will buy store brand mustard all day long. For whatever reason I cannot tell the taste difference at all.

4. Cheese: Again with Target brands I cannot tell a difference between a generic and name brand so I always purchase the store brand shredded cheese.

5. Trail mix and bars: See above cannot tell a difference and they way cheaper than a name brand.

The list could go on and on with the generic brands winning out, I feel we save a ton of money with shopping at Target and buying mostly generic brands, even though I still will not compromise on some items, we do very well overall. Which products do you refuse to purchase generic brands with? Leave me a comment and let me know!

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weekend Thought: You Cannot Multiply Wealth by Dividing it

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”

Dr. Adrian Rogers, 1931-2005

Friday, June 5, 2009

GM - Government Motors

I was reading an article this week from Robert Reich's Blog and he had some very interesting insights about the future of manufacturing, GM, and American workers. Some of his highlight from Part III that are interesting are:

"Why would US taxpayers want to own today’s GM? Surely not because the shares promise a high return when the economy turns up. GM has been on a downward slide for years."

"Many younger Americans have never bought a GM car and would not think of doing so. Given this record, it seems doubtful that taxpayers will even be repaid our $60 billion. But getting repaid cannot be the main goal of the bail-out. Presumably, the reason is to serve some larger public purpose. But the goal is not obvious."

"It cannot be to preserve GM jobs, because the US Treasury has signaled GM must slim to get the cash. The company has only slightly more than 60,000 Americans today (83,000 around the world), and plans to shut half-a-dozen factories and sack at least 20,000 more U.S. workers this year."

"The purpose cannot be to create a new, lean, debt-free company that might one day turn a profit. That is what the private sector is supposed to achieve on its own and what a reorganization under bankruptcy would do."

"Nor is the purpose of the bail-out to create a new generation of fuel-efficient cars. Congress has already given auto makers money to do this. Besides, the Treasury has said it has no interest in being an active investor or telling the industry what cars to make."
and the kicker is:
"So the Obama administration is, in effect, paying $60 billion to buy off both constituencies. It is telling the first group that jobs and communities dependent on GM will be better preserved because of the bail-out, and the second that taxpayers and creditors will be rewarded by it. But it is not telling anyone the complete truth: GM will disappear, eventually. The bail-out is designed to give the economy time to reduce the social costs of the blow."

And that folks is what we call redistribution of wealth - the transfer of income, wealth or property from some individuals to others— thus creating a more financially equal society.

I have just started reading Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville and he writes about Soft despotism which he says:

"Such circumstances might arise, if democracy's progress was accompanied by demands for a leveling of social conditions. The danger was that an obsession with equality was very compatible with increasingly centralized state-power."

"Tocqueville's vision of “soft-despotism” is thus one of arrangements that mutually corrupt citizens and the democratic state. Citizens vote for those politicians who promise to use the state to give them whatever they want. The political-class delivers, so long as citizens do whatever it says is necessary to provide for everyone's desires. The “softness” of this despotism consists of people's voluntary surrender of their liberty and their tendency to look habitually to the state for their needs."
As I am just starting to read this, writing this make me excited about it. This blog was created as a personal diary of my road to creating wealth. What is the point to create wealth when the government can seize your property(wealth) as they seem fit? I am sure to turn some reader off by getting political, but we truly need to see what all is going on. Am I crazy, thinking to the worst of every situation? Leave me a comment and let me know! You guys have a great weekend.

Jon Stewart: The biG Mess - Government Motors

I came across this video last night and thought it was pretty funny, sometime situations can be so bad that you have to find the humor in them. General Motors being nationalized by our government is all over the news these day. Jon Steward sums it up way better than I could ever, enjoy!

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
BiG Mess
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorEconomic Crisis

Thursday, June 4, 2009

2009 Goals: A look at the Halfway Point

One of the first initial thoughts I had with creating this blog was to set out some concrete goals that I really wanted to accomplish. If you are a regular reader of  MMS you will hear me talk about goals almost daily. I have said that all this personal finance starts with setting goals and reaching everyday to accomplish them. Goals are a very important part of any aspect of life, you cannot score a touchdown without one. I am a firm believer in setting goals that are very unattainable because it makes you work harder and it makes it more rewardable in the process. I cannot believe it is already halfway through the year, man does it fly by! So let's check in with some of my financial goals that I set for myself at the beginning of the year:

Max out my Roth IRA (5k):  $1,537.66 - I am going and have to step up my contributions to make this happen. As of right now I am putting $237.00 a month into this which is going to bring my total to around $2959.00. This will not make the goal I set out for myself, so I will try and save or produce more for this goal. I also have to April 2010 so I might still be able to beef this up a little in 2010 even though I would rather be putting towards 2010 Roth IRA.

Max Emergency Fund (10k): Goal attained! I was sitting pretty at the beginning of the year with around $7,000.00 so it didn't take me that long. It is a wonderful feeling to know I have this to lean on if something where to happen to my job. I suggest everyone build an emergency fun for nothing else except peace of mind. I have been blessed to be able to save as fast as I have. (On a side note - I am currently looking into purchasing a house, I might have to break into this for some of the down payment. I don't think I would use all of it as it is such a nice cushion if something was to happen.)

Down Payment on a House (10k): As of right now I have around $3000.00 plus about $2313.00 in stock that I am going to sell if it remains to go up, I will probably pull the trigger on selling the stock if the market goes to 10,000. I cannot count on this so I will either hold it or sell it if we purchase a house. I am also saving around $780.00 a month into this fund, we are looking to purchase a house sometime between August and December 1. That will bring my total in September to $3120.00(new) + $3000.00 (now) + $2313.00(stock) for a total of around $8433. I am on track to meet this goal if I can remain focus and the stock market keeps going up (fingers crossed).

So overall I think I am doing pretty well, I just have to remain on track and keep going at it hard everyday and month. I have to admit for some reason I thought I was going to be closer to Maxing out my Roth IRA than I am? I not sure if I will be able to reach, but I will try my hardest to save more and cut my budget somewhere else. Hopefully with paying off the engagement ring in February of next year I will have some extra cash sitting around in that fund. Since I had money sitting in it before I purchased the ring and I am paying the minimum while adding the equal amount (cost/12months) to the fund. I also have been kicking around the idea of going on a 17 day boat trip to Indonesia to surf in 2011, thats on top of trying to save for a honeymoon in 2010. I got a feeling that the budget is going to be put on lockdown at some point in the near future, but I have to set some lofty goals right?

How is your goals going, do you have any crazy goals coming up in the future? Leave a comment and let me know!

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Atlas Shrugged: Real Life Edition II

So I have been saying since I started Atlas Shrugged that I was finding it so interesting that everything I was reading in the book, I would hear a politician say the same thing the next day and vice versa. Yesterday I am watching this administration telling the American people that they do not want to run GM and then I open Atlas Shrugged to read almost the same quotes—it's crazy!

The following is an excerpts from Atlas Shrugged,© Copyright, 1957, by Ayn Rand. Pages 898-891 and CBS News Obama: We Don't Want To Run GM

This is the part of the book towards the end when the looters(politicians) want to take over the steel companies - The Steel Unification Plan. 
Obama (yesterday) - "But I also recognized the importance of a viable auto industry to the well-being of families and communities across our industrial Midwest and across the United States. In the midst of a deep recession and financial crisis, the collapse of these companies would have been devastating for countless Americans, and done enormous damage to our economy -- beyond the auto industry."

Looters (Atlas Shrugged) - "The country's economy would not be able to stand a major dislocation at the present moment. There are thousands of Bolye's workers, suppliers and customers. What would happen to them if Associated Steel went bankrupt?"

Obama - "So let me explain as clearly as possible why we are making this investment. We inherited a financial crisis unlike any that we've seen in our time. This crisis crippled private capital markets and forced us to take steps in our financial system -- and with our auto companies -- that we would not have otherwise even considered. These steps have put our government in the unwelcome position of owning large stakes in private companies for the simple and compelling reason that their survival and the success of our overall economy depend on it.

Understand we're making these investments not because I want to spend the American people's tax dollars, but because I want to protect them. Instead of taking so much stock in GM, we could have simply offered the company more loans. But for years, GM has been buried under an unsustainable mountain of debt. And piling an irresponsibly large debt on top of the new GM would mean simply repeating the mistakes of the past. So we are acting as reluctant shareholders -- because that is the only way to help GM succeed."

Looters - "Mr. Boyle is an extremely able man. It's just that he's suffered some unfortunate reverse, quite beyond his control. He had invested large sums in a public-spirited copper crash of theirs has dealt him a severe financial blow. So it's only a matter of giving him a chance to recover, a helping hand to bridge the gap, a bit of temporary assistance, nothing more. All we have to do is just equalize the sacrifice—then everybody will recover and prosper."
Obama - "What I have no interest in doing is running GM"
Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged turns to the looters and tells them that they should take over his mills and run them. The looters response:
"Oh No!" gasped Mouch. 
"We wouldn't think of it!" cried Holloway.
"We stand for free enterprise!" cried Dr. Ferris
Look I cannot make this stuff up, it is an interesting time we live in. There are unfortantly a ton of examples like this, this is just what I came across last night while reading. I would recommend anyone to read the book. I am going to have a Atlas Shrugged give away soon so if you want to wait, but I would suggest purchasing...I think they are going on ebay for like $8 - great book for the summer!

Here is a link to Atlas Shrugged on amazon. Am I crazy? What are your thoughts on this, leave a comment

Monday, June 1, 2009

May 09 Net Worth: Slow and Steady Growth

Another month in the books and another month of growth! It wasn't as exciting as last month, but I will take 13% jump every month, it sure beats losing money. We did not see the jump in the stock market like last month, so it is encouraging that I had a nice jump.  Debt at the moment is still really hurting my net worth but its one of those things that I just have to keep paying off. Here is the break down:

Cash & Savings: I saw a nice little jump in this category. I have a few funds growing in here and it houses the fund for my engagement ring. This also has my monthly budget in it so it isn't just sitting there as a savings account. It is used on a daily bases for covering expenses, rent, food, auto, etc...

Stocks/Brokerage: Nothing much changed here...I actually lost some money.

Retirement 401k: Slight jump from last month, mostly to the new money going into it from paychecks, as the stock market is sitting about the same place it was last month. I am ok with the steady growth here, especially since we were losing money a few months back. At the end of the day these are long term investments anyways, so no need to stress or get happy if it loses or gain slightly(just no big dips).

Retirement IRA: This has had a good month of growth and I only added $100.00 to the mix so the fund performed really well for me. This month I will moving my account over to Vanguard and am currently researching different funds to transfer to.

Debts and Liabilities - Vehicle and Credit still high

Credit Cards: Most of this is still engagement credit card with a 12 month 0% APR, I am not going to put much a dent into this debt until the 12 month when I will pay it off in full. I have that money going straight into my saving account creating a little interest off of it till I pay it in full. I also had car maintenance last month and purchased 2 airline flights so I will pay those off before I get charged interest.

Car Loan: Still the same...slowly paying it off every month, regretting I purchased a new car a couple years ago. It is nice knowing I have something reliable though, so I cannot complain to much, I also plan on driving it into the ground.

So there you have it, another great month down and hopefully another great month to come. This month isn't looking to crazy except a trip to NYC which can sometime get expensive going out for dinner and drinks and such.