Monthly Archives: January 2013
I’m going to make a complete 100 favorite novels of all time guide by ADP one of these days. It’s going to be good. But until then, I have books, articles and blog posts for you that are 100% worth your time:
1. An Object of Beauty: A Novel by Steve Martin: Ooooh, loved it. Lacey was like a nicer version of Janey Wilcox from Trading Up (Candace Bushnell) and the book gave me a great refresher on art history. I’ve missed it. As my mom says, “Is there anything Steve Martin can’t do? He acts, he sings, he writes, and he’s great at all of it!”
2. Detroit City Is the Place to Be: The Afterlife of an American Metropolis by Mark Binelli: Don’t tell me you haven’t looked on the MLS and thought about buying 5 homes for $5 dollars in Detroit. For four quarters you can own a house. It’s crazy. It’s lawless. It’s Detroit. Great read for you urban planners or anyone interested in ghost towns and nostalgia for a really long-gone era.
3. Back to Blood: A Novel by Tom Wolfe: I know! I’m so excited too! He hasn’t had a new one out since I Am Charlotte Simmons and I love the worlds that Tom Wolfe paints. It’s gotten mixed reviews so far but I’ve never judged how much I like a book by its reviews (you should apply the same philosophy to restaurants: Yelp reviews are not worth a hoot!). And of course, you know this quote.
What is Options Time Decay? by DQYDJ: Must read. Even if you really understand options, as our friends warn you to, I don’t recommend it for everyone. In my experience, I was able to be profitable with options only when completing my trades within a matter of days (preferably just one or two) and not very close to the options expiration date. I lost money when I held onto options hoping to get back into the money at the last minute. It was like roulette, a little sad and a little ugly.
Money Mamba gave us The Best Industries to Invest In which led me to CROIC. Seriously people, he’s just giving us gold here.
Jana at Daily Money Shot threatened to quit blogging (or thought about it at least) but I’m glad it’s not happening. Side note: She is also really cool in person.
Marissa pretty much gave the thesis on How to Market Your Blog Like a Startup. Hey Marissa, can you outsource someone to do all that for me?
Financial Uproar told y’all It’s Time to Take the Next Step. Nelson is your quintessential “hooker with a heart of gold”*. He’s a little rough around the edges, but he writes the most interesting, valuable posts. Side note: I’ve been investing these real estate forums in my area and learning about the real estate note (same as private mortgages) business. I can’t make a move until mid-year but will write on this in the coming weeks.
Erin from Dog Ate My Wallet had a lot of great posts these past two weeks, but my favorite was I Would Rather Work at McDonald’s.
I don’t know how I found this post, but I loved Paintings for Poor People from Glitter & Goat Cheese (I love both those things too!).
Rounding out the pack was Time’s Is Most Personal Finance Advice Useless? I scanned the article and did not find the sentence, “Blogs like American Debt Project are written by self-centered ninnies who can’t get over themselves.” From the article: “My greater concern is that at least some of them (personal finance blogs) are so wedded to the concept of self-help that they are blaming the victim for greater economic trends.” Touche!
*Not an actual hooker. No hookers were harmed in the making of this blog post.
I had a conversation with my sister a few years back that is as vivid as if it happened yesterday. I was telling her about a bad choice that a mutual friend of ours had made, and she was so put off by it that she dismissed the whole thing and said, “That’s a character flaw.” And I knew that she had dismissed this person entirely in her mind. Now, I agreed that our friend had made a bad decision (a really bad decision). But I tend to be a lot more forgiving of people. I think it’s because I make so many mistakes. I screw up quite a few times before I get things right. So I thought calling something a character flaw was so permanent, so unforgiving. All these years later, I still find the term “character flaw” fascinating. It seems to apply quite well to the world of personal finance. Is living beyond your means a character flaw? It definitely catches up to you in the long run, but is it a permanent, static character flaw that runs through your pig-headed veins like so much stubborn blood? God, I hope not. Maybe we all have some character flaws but one characteristic we all possess is the ability to change ourselves. It is not easy. On the surface, I would much prefer to live a life where I don’t think too hard and I buy shiny things regularly. But when I think about that idea just a little, I know it’s not for me. I crave new ideas, business ventures, meeting lots of people and trying something new everyday. Shopping and consumerism don’t feed my soul and I’ve always known that. I just didn’t know any other way to be. There’s an interesting book called “The Transformative Way” by Scott Sherman (contact me if you want a copy) and it’s based on the idea of positive psychology. I thought positive psychology was New Age, The Secret-style BS, but it has some legitimate research behind it. It’s easy to mock because it’s studying “achievement, happiness and how people achieve their best”. But as you read a little more into the subject, you realize, “What’s wrong with that?” Why are we afraid to think about what makes human beings happy? Why don’t we study more about how we can compel radical change, transform organizations, governments or ourselves? Positive psychology wants to show people that change is possible and maybe it’s easy to mock it when we don’t see any change likely in ourselves or the world around us.
In The Transformative Way, the author claims that 90% of the time, people don’t change, even when they want or need to (like changing a diet for serious health reasons). The statistics say that 90% of the people reading this article won’t make the changes in their life that they need to in order to improve their lives. But statistics aren’t always accurate. And statistics can always change from month to month, year to year. Can you?
Apparently there is nothing as enticing as easy money. Even though I swear I’ve been working hard to pay off my debt, staying relentlessly practical in turning down dinners, partying and unnecessary stuff, I still have a wandering eye. I make some side income with an eBay business and consulting, and every time I make a quick $100 I think, “Man! That was easy. I should just replicate that 180 times in the next 30 days and I’ll be debt free!” Then I have a short-lived fantasy and think about immediately buying a hot tub. Silly, I know. But still, extra money is always helpful. It seems like it disappears so quickly because you never really expected in the first place. Even if you put it all into savings or an IRA, it’s allocated and gone.
What would you do if you won $1,000? Would you like to find out? Enter the giveaway below!
As for me, I would give myself $100 fun money and take my brand new fiance somewhere fun, like go-karts or indoor sky-diving or a day-trip to Catalina. The rest would go somewhere practical.
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I just watched The Queen of Versailles
, one of the most fascinating looks into the American Dream. The documentary tells the story of the Siegels, with David having built the world’s largest timeshare resorts, and Jackie being the trophy wife and mother of their seven children. Although the premise of the story is that they are the couple infamous for building America’s largest single family home, a really awful-looking replica of Versailles on some swampy-looking patch of Florida land, the loudest message of this film was the earnest, never-ending striving and desperation of each of the characters.
The Filipino nanny just wanted to save some money to help build a concrete home for her dad in the Philippines. Jackie just wanted to see Versailles finished, although she was portrayed as mostly disorganized and a spendthrift, weighing everyone down with more stuff in the home. And David, of course, just wants to save the Las Vegas Westgate Tower even though the entire business is leveraged with the unsustainable purchases of subprime customers. As I was watching this, I felt this growing sense of anxiety and dread as it struck me that for none of these people was what they had enough. Sure, the nanny wasn’t dreaming of much, but she still needed to make more and save more to ever achieve her dreams or even be reunited with her children. Jackie already had a 26,000 square foot home, and yet it looked cramped and dirty and uninviting as a place to live. So of course she was sure that the 90,000 square feet in Versailles was the answer to their problems. Although David seemed interesting as an entrepreneur, his personal side was so depressing. He received no support from his marriage (mostly of his own design), and didn’t see his wife as a partner. He left her completely in the dark on the finances and later lashed out at her for seemingly trivial expenses. He admitted that he could not separate his work from his personal life and his personal life was consumed by work. While I love the idea of passion in your work, the lack of a strong relationship with his wife and kids was obvious in his unhappy demeanor and the way he talked to each of them.
Nobody wants to end up like that. I’m striving right now, I admit. I am pushing so hard to get myself debt-free by June (anyone got an extra 10 g’s laying around?) that I often see that as being the answer to ALL of my problems. I think I am going to be come super-productive, money-making machine as soon as I get there. I want to arrive at this debt free landmark with my own money. I also don’t want to dip into any of my investments and sell shares at a price that I know is not the best I can get. But what about when I am debt free?
I don’t want to be always looking to the next milestone. I want to be happy and thankful for where I am, which I have worked hard to get to. We have options in life as long as we have a little bit of wiggle room in our finances. We can choose different paths and not feel stuck. But remember that it takes some time and planning to get there.