Archive - September, 2011

5 Blogs You Should Be Reading

I read a lot of blogs. As of this writing, I have 90 blogs subscribed to in my RSS reader. Many of them update daily. A few multiple times a day.

At any time, I have between 100–200 unread blog posts.

As a blogger, it’s something I have to live with. I have a lot of interests. The best way to keep up with the world is hear from a multitude of voices.

Over time, it becomes clear which blogs are useful and which ones are the same garbage over and over again. A few blogs have one or two amazing posts amid a sea of average.

Every so often, a truly exception blog comes out that teaches, is enter­taining, and keeps posting quality content. Below are 5 personal finances blogs I have found to be well thought out, helpful, and entertaining:

  • Personal Finances By The Book — Joe Plemon is one of my favorite personal finances writers. He asks good questions, chal­lenges my presup­po­si­tions, and generally knows what he’s talking about when it comes to finances. If you want to learn more about debt, invest­ments, and how to handle money Joe is one of the best.
  • Man Vs. Debt — Baker is a guy who woke up one morning and decided he wasn’t going to be in debt anymore. So, his family sold almost every­thing they owned, started a website, and paid down thousands of dollars in personal debt. Oh yeah, and they did it while traveling around the world! His blog is inter­esting, his advice is sound, and he’ll make you think. The only draw back? He hasn’t been updating much recently. Still, I highly recommend his blog.
  • Free Money Wisdom — This is a blog I just found a few days ago, and I already love it! Run by Jon the Saver, it goes deep into practical ways to handle money, invest wisely, and live frugally. I don’t agree with him 100%, but I certainly support him 100%!
  • I Will Teach You To Be Rich — This blog is even more provoca­tive than the title. Run by Ramit Sethi, it chron­i­cles his success in teaching people how to automate finances, live their dream life, and make more money than they ever imagined. He’s pro-debt, but even his views on debt are sound.
  • Money­PlanSOS - Steve Stewart is a financial coach and podcaster. My favorite thing about him aren’t his blog posts (though they good) but his podcasts. He has some of the smartest financial people on the web on their working through real-life cases and explaining the nuts and bolts of personal finances. He even asked me to be on his podcast.

Those are blogs you should follow if you want to get your finances in order.

Beyond that, I follow a list of financial blogs just to under­stand the world of money better. Here are a few of them below:

  • Blog — This is the blog of I like the service they provide, but the blog can sometimes contra­dict itself and I don’t always agree with the advice.
  • Living In Financial Excel­lence — I really enjoy this blog, though sometimes I wish they would go deeper into some of their topics. Their podcast is fantastic and also has great guests.
  • Debt Snowball Calcu­lator — This missed the top 5 because of an odd update schedule. The content is amazing and his products are cheap and effective. Defi­nitely worth reading.

What are your favorite personal finance blogs?

More On Gold

I want to expand on yesterday’s post on gold. There’s a lot of great infor­ma­tion out there (some of which disagrees with me) that I thought you might like to see. Below are some of the best articles I found on gold as an investment:

3 Reasons the Gold Bubble Will Burst — This guy mostly agree with me but he goes into way more detail. A must read article for anyone thinking of investing in gold.

Dave Ramsey and Warren Buffet Say No To Gold — This article explains why two extremely rich investors don’t put money into gold.

Gold Not A Bubble? Are You Crazy? — Another article that dives in deep (and has some awesome graphs) explaining why gold is a bubble and what to do about it.

Is The Gold Bubble About To Pop? — This article goes into the simi­lar­i­ties of the gold drop in the 80s with what the market looks like today. As he says, “History doesn’t always repeat, but it often rhymes”

Wells Fargo Thinks Gold Is A Bubble — When a major bank thinks a bubble is coming (espe­cially a bank that was recently hit hard by one) it may be time to sit back and take notice.

Yahoo!Fiannce Gold/Silver Sector — This is where I got most of the graphs I used to show the changes in gold. It shows the gold and silver sector. Since silver and gold are fairly closely related I found it to be a great indicator of what gold is doing.

Yahoo!Finance Currency Converter — See how much an ounce of gold is worth

Gold Alert — This site tries to sell gold and silver. It has some inter­esting infor­ma­tion on gold, but it’s really biased and really pushes the “gold is a sure thing!” lie that’s been making the rounds.

I know it’s a lot, but if you are curious about gold or want to check out the numbers for yourself, I hope these links will help.

Think I’m wrong? Post your articles in the comments and I will read them.

Should You Invest In Gold?

Buy Gold Now!

Gold is every­where. It’s on bill­boards, late night TV, radio, and even banner ads throughout the net. The consensus is, “Now is the time to buy gold”.

Gold has been called “the safe invest­ment”, “a sure thing” and “the best invest­ment of the year”.

It’s been called a bartering chip for if the economy collapses and it’s growth has spawned numerous busi­nesses (cash4gold, gold stash for cash, etc).

I know a guy who got hired by one of those places; they are paying him a lot of money to manage one of their stores.

And why not? Gold has been going up like crazy! Check out how gold has done from 2000 until today:

Gold from 2000 until 2011

That increase is insane! As I write this, one ounce of gold is worth $1,628.66.

That’s more than most emergency funds.

Calcu­lated out, gold has increased 19% in 10 years. That is crazy good growth!

Silver isn’t far behind with a 22% increase in that same period.

Except for a brief drop in 2008, gold has dominated the market over the last 10 years. Thus, the ads and busi­nesses showing up every­where. Gold is a cash cow.

Should you invest?

The question of this blog isn’t “is gold doing well” but “should you invest in gold?” and for that I have an answer. (more…)

Spending Power

My friend Mike sent this to me a few days ago, I thought it was a perfect way to end the My Money Story series. For the rest of the series, click here

For the last month or so, Alex has been running a series about his money story, where and how he learned to spend respon­sibly. Reading those posts has led me to think about my own money story, which has a lot to do with the way my parents spend their money (money see, money do, if you will).

Even­tu­ally I stumbled upon an inter­esting truth that I had never really considered:

Although it may not have always been the case, the phrase “I can’t afford it” has become synony­mous with “I can’t buy it”.

This is a dangerous line of thinking because, compared to a lot of the rest of the world, Americans have virtually unlimited spending power. There is almost nothing that I cannot buy as long as I can convince someone to loan me the money for it.

And, at the end of the day, a loan is just as good as the money you’ve earned, right?

The trap that a lot of people fall into is purely philo­soph­ical. Without knowing how to separate the ideas of “can buy” and “can afford” you’re likely to start using a credit card to excess or getting a mortgage on a house that’s bigger and more expensive than what you need.

I’ve fallen into this trap myself, but maybe I’m a smarter person for it. If nothing else, I’ve learned from my mistakes and, because of them, I have a far better grasp of where and how my money (my actual money) should be spent.

What have your money mistakes taught you?

Highlights (09.24)

What a week! Life is starting back up for me. Every­thing I’m involved in that took a “summer break” started up this week and I’ve been going to meetings, meeting with groups, and planning out the future. I love this stuff!

President Obama Isn’t a Socialist — Matt Rawling is starting a series that explains why Obama isn’t a socialist, he’s a Keynesian — a very important differ­ence. “Many accuse Obama of being a closet Marxist who wants to transform the United States into Cuba but I disagree. I think it is clear that Obama is a true blue Keynesian…”

Grad­u­ating Debt Free — Usually, gives the same advice as everyone else. This post (about grad­u­ating debt free) was espe­cially good. It goes into all the advan­tages of going through college debex­plains how to do it. Defi­nitely worth reading.

Why Does the U.S. Still Give China Aid? — With China quickly becoming the number 2 world power, why are the U.S. and other nations still giving it money? This article asks a great question, though you may not like the answer.

Are Rich Taxed Less Than Their Secre­taries? — Recently, the Obama admin­is­tra­tion is calling for the rich to pay “their share”. He’s commented several times that the rich are paying less in taxes than the middle class (their secre­taries). But do the numbers add up?

Real Shock and Awe — This is the story of an American Citizen cuffed and jailed for having dark skin and flying on 9/11. This is the kind of stuff that get me riled up.

Fo’tis’ma –A creative video showing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Christian’s role as foreigner. Check it out, it’s fantastic!

Is Social Security a Ponzi Scheme?

There’s been a lot of talk about Rick Perry calling Social Security a Ponzi Scheme. He did it in his book and at the September 7th GOP debate.

News orga­ni­za­tions and politi­cians are outraged by the comments. They hope to “save social security” not call it a scam! Charles Ponzi went to prison for his scheme and that thought more than any other seems to be the driving force behind Perry’s back lash.

I’m no Perry supporter, but before you make too many decisions about his comments, it’s important to under­stand what a Ponzi scheme is and why people are scared to put Social Security in that category. (more…)

Do you have Profit or Loss?

You need to have a Profit and Loss (P/L) statement to be successful financially.

The P/L statement is the backbone of business fiances. It tells a company if they are making or losing money month-to-month. Over time, the company can see if they need to make more product or shut their doors.

At it’s core, a P/L statement is simple:

subtract your expenses (every­thing spent) from revenues (all the money earned).

Yes, it really is that simple.

If the answer is positive the company is profiting. If the number is negative, the company is at a loss.

Profit and Loss Statement

Don’t be this complicated

Your P/L Statement

Your P/L statement works similar to a business. It lets you know how well you are doing. Are you spending more than you make? Do you need to invest some of your “profits” into other expenses? These are the kinds of questions the P/L statement can tell you.

How do you do it? Simply take all the income you made last month and write it down at the top of a sheet of paper. Then, write down the total amount you spent last month. Make sure to include all bills, fun expenses, and credit card charges. If you aquired new debt, add that as a new expense.

Subtract the total from all expenses from the total you made last month. If the number is positive then congrats, you spent less than you made. However, if the number is negative then you need to rethink how you’re spending money.

The Hard Bit (more…)

Choosing My Lifestyle

[This is an ongoing series called My Money Story. To Read the rest of the series click here]

After meeting Dave, my life was forever changed. The first thing I did was pay off, close, and cut up my credit cards. By God’s grace I got a bonus just big enough to pay off the cards and build up a $1,000 dollar emergency fund. Things were looking up.

My first budget was a train wreck. It took me three months of budgeting to get my number right; and even then I still struggled a bit.

After a few months of gazelle intensity I paused.

At the time I didn’t do much else besides going to school and working. It was a rough real­iza­tion. I wanted to have a life, but my budget plan meant I would be spending the next year paying off my car loan.

I felt like I was missing out on life. I rarely saw my friends, spent most weekends at home, and was on the edge of depres­sion. I needed to get out, expe­ri­ence life, and live with people. But how?

Dave’s plan requires “gazelle intensity” which is working with all your strength to pay off debt. Although I agree with this, it doesn’t leave a lot of room to live. And while that works really well when you’re married, as a single guy it’s hard to date or even meet people when you never have money. (more…)

Highlights (09.17)

This was kind of a weird for me. I kept forget­ting things (and remem­bering them just in time) and my sleep has been off.

The weather hasn’t helped. It’s been changing which means my allergies are kicking up a bit.

If you’ve had a weird week too (or not) here are some links to brighten your day.

Solid Gold Phone — Looking for a good conver­sa­tion topic at parties? Want to tell people you’re rich without having to say anything? Have $60,000 burning a hole in your pocket? You’re in luck! They’re selling solid gold phones. Lord help us all…

How to Live Like James Bond — Speaking of over­abun­dance, here’s a guy who actually got to live like James Bond for a day. It’s really cool and one of those things anyone can do!

50 Rules for Dads of Daughters — Many of the readers here are dads. Quite a few are daughters as well. I think anyone who reads this will enjoy it. I’m certainly taking notes.

What Dirty Mouth Taught Me — My father-in-law wrote this fantastic post about what he learned from his grand­fa­ther, an ex-thug.

You Can’t Tax The Rich — The problem with raising taxes on the rich? Their money disap­pears. Another great post by Thomas Sowell.

Love Tap –This video has been making the rounds the last few days thanks to Tim Challies. I hope you enjoy this video as much as I do. It’s a cute story with a good message.

Do Something Awesome

Have you ever wondered what the world’s largest water balloon fight would look like? Wonder no more; the stunning video below shows just that!

If you can’t see the video in your email or RSS reader, click here

Water is every­where! Colored balloons fly through the air, the fighters are smiling, fun is everywhere.

It’s awesome.

I also like that they showed how hard they worked for this moment: filling the water balloons, sitting in the sun lining them up, getting the fighters ready; not to mention getting permis­sion to use the field, having a video crew and water-proof equipment, etc.

It was a well planned amazing event that millions will enjoy.

What’s Your Waters Balloon Fight?

The video is really repre­sents something much bigger than a water balloon fight: you.

If you follow the advice on this blog, you will get out of debt, have a budget, be prepared for retire­ment, and have a nice emergency fund in place; aka, you will be doing really well finan­cially.

But if that’s where it ends then my advice is is useless. This site equips you to live your dreams. The main way that happens is to give you the ability to fund them. Don’t let it end with money.

You need a big, hairy, dream. You need something bigger than yourself.

Maybe it’s a giant water balloon fight, maybe it’s a year off from work so your family can travel around the world, maybe it’s starting a non-profit orga­ni­za­tion, or a business from your garage. Maybe it’s as simple as having enough money to try something new.

The dream needs to be big enough to scare you a bit.

What is your dream? I’ll go first.

Page 1 of 212»