The Waiting Game: Saving Money Vs Paying Top Dollar

channel surfing

I love reading and my favorite genre is fantasy. I’ve enjoyed George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books and am looking forward to seeing the books in their video incarnation produced by HBO. Since I do not have cable, or HBO, my options are to either purchase the first season on DVD/Blueray or pay $2.99 per episode on Amazon Instant Video. From a financial perspective, this small purchase contains a useful lesson on spending. The retail price for the DVD is $59.99. Several stores have it in stock at the retail price and you can watch it as soon as […] Read more »

The Danger of Listening to the Crowd

Doctor in

Thanks to Brad for finding this article in the Palm Beach Post, “Why are Americans avoiding stocks? Ask a Shrink”. Since the market drop in 1987, people have been focused on the market bottom instead of the top. In general, news focuses on the negative and the financial news of the past decade has lived down to expectations. But the reality of both short and long term market performance shows a different picture. Since the fall of 2007 and 2008, the major market indices are up and dramatically. The two year returns for domestic large, mid, and small cap stocks, […] Read more »

Your Car, Your Wealth

old car

I’ve always preferred to buy low mileage cars that are 2-5 years old because they often sell for less than 50-60% of their original sales price. I’ve financed a few of them and had car payments ranging from $151 to $275 per month. My Toyota Avalon passed 232,000 miles last month and began to have the minor problems that eventually lead to major repairs. Luckily, it sold quickly and I found a low mileage ten year old car at an affordable price. Before finding that car, I stopped at a few dealerships to see what they had to offer. Wow, […] Read more »

A Closer Look at Rising Health Insurance Costs

health

Getting back to that Aetna advertisement. It is not your imagination, health insurance rates have risen much faster than other costs of living. The image above is courtesy of the Kaiser Family Foundation. It illustrates the cumulative changes in health insurance premiums, workers’ contribution to premiums, inflation, and workers’ earnings from 1999-2010. It is important to realize the data on this chart is purely from employer sponsored plans and does not include retirees or the self-employed. The past decade had an overall inflation rate of 31%, or an average 3.1% per year. Earnings during the same time period increased by […] Read more »

Hidden Expenses That Impact Retirement

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Anthem Healthcare sent me an advertisement for their health insurance and priced it on a daily basis. “Now just $1.58 per day!” Naturally, that rate didn’t apply to me but to a hypothetical 35 year old “healthy” male. Surely their comprehensive database could have sent the quote for me as a 50 year old. In any case, you don’t pay insurance daily. That $1.58 day rate is paid at $47.40 per month or almost $600 per year, which for health insurance is pretty inexpensive. I called and my daily rate would be $5.04 per day or $151 per month or […] Read more »

The Danger of Marketing

taking risk

According to the American Marketing Association, the definition of marketing is “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.” Basically, the purpose of marketing is to let you know about the products and services companies offer that have value for you. The first problem with marketing is that the catch phrases are often misleading and may cause you to buy inappropriate and expensive products. The second problem is the marketing message may blind you to the reality that no product is, in itself, […] Read more »

How Do You Choose to Handle Change?

Coffee Starbucks

Anyone who knows me, also knows how often I can be found at Starbucks.  Several locations fix an Iced Quad-Shot Espresso when they see me pull into the parking lot.  That is, after all, my preferred drink and has been for several years now.  Originally, my drink was a Grande nonfat, with whip, Mocha.  After several years, I chose a Grande Iced Coffee.  Then, my doctor suggested espresso since it has less caffeine and much less acid than brewed coffee. (I know it doesn’t sound right, but see references below). Even though it has a stronger flavor, espresso is lower […] Read more »

Happy New Year!

new year

Here are a few thoughts to consider as we begin 2012. The majority of the money and investing related news for the past week are either focused on the past or the future. Every media outlet will have reviews of 2011 and predictions for 2012. This news trend will continue for the rest of January. While it is helpful to look back at the past, don’t spend too much of your time looking in the rear view mirror. As you know, you may learn from the past but you cannot change it. Congratulate yourself for your successes and good decisions. […] Read more »

Where Do You Focus When You Invest?

Hand

Let’s have a little fun and begin with an exercise. Begin by taking a break and go sit anywhere outside. Once your comfortable, take your hand and hold it about a foot in front of your eyes. It’s probably been a while since you really looked at your hands so focus for at least a minute on every detail. Study your nails or the lines in your skin for at least a minute. This next step may be challenging but it is critical that you keep your focus on your hand without allowing your eyes to refocus. Now while focusing […] Read more »

Managing your Investments is Like Baking a Souffle

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I love to cook! A few years ago, I decided to try to bake the often dreaded souffle. NPR had a feature on The Science of the Perfect Souffle that made me crave the delicate and light texture of the aerated eggs for a nice brunch. There are a few challenges if you want a perfect souffle and NPR’s Joe Palca turned to Jeffrey Buben, owner and head chef at Vidalia, a restaurant in Washington, D.C, for the perfect souffle. The really neat thing about souffles is they can be a main dish when the eggs are mixed with herbs […] Read more »

Investing Tip: Don’t Be Like an “Overly Emotional Teenaged Girl”

Alone

CNNMoney features an excellent column by Paul R. La Monica today contrasting the “overly emotional teenaged girl with an unrequited crush. OMG! My life is over!” stock market investors with the seemingly apathetic and “too-cool-for-school kids that don’t get bothered by anything” bond market investors. I encourage you to read the column as Paul, (who has a really great first name), hits the nail firmly on the head. You can find it here: The United States of Apathy. Investing in the stock market is a long term process. In any given year the market may rise or fall significantly and, […] Read more »

The Dangers of Debt from a Financial Pro

housing market

November is No Restaurant Month and if you embrace the concept fully it’s a month to avoid unnecessary expenses. I recently read an article in the New York Times in the “Your Money” section. That issue profiled one of my idols in the industry, Carl Richards; financial planner, blogger, and napkin illustrator. Carl has been in the industry since 1996 and has provided easy to understand illustrations exploring the relationship between people and their money. He refers to this as the “behavior gap”. In short, Carl is an experienced and knowledgeable financial professional. But, as you’ll see in the New […] Read more »

What Will You Do With Your “No Restaurants in November” Savings?

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If you’ve accepted Brad’s challenge for No Restaurants in November by the end of the month will have saved up a sum of money. Last year, Brad saved $524.25 during the 2010 version of No Restaurant Month. Your savings will depend on how much you make and then spend at restaurants. When November ends, what should you do with the money you saved? Pay down your debt! First, if you have debt, use your November savings to reduce your outstanding debts, particularly the higher interest rate credit cards. You might think about what those balances represent and, if it’s financing […] Read more »