Contempt of Customer

Recently I ordered from an up-and-coming online food delivery service. It was the first time using their service, and although doubtful about their value prop, I thought “Let’s see how it goes.”

Well, to put is nicely, the food sucked. It was cold and unappealing.

I contacted their customer service and expected a prompt refund and a note saying, “Sorry you didn’t like it. Please give us another chance.”

But no. They said, “No, you can’t have a refund.” So they would rather have my $26 than a happy customer.

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Are you Ready for the Financial Crisis?

A wise man once wrote:

Markets top slowly and bottom quickly.

When I read this and anlyzed some of the major market tops over the last 100 years, I was surprised by the accuracy of this statement. (One major exception was the 2000 Tech Bubble, which was quite different from other market dynamics.)

S&P 500 Jan 2011 - 2016

S&P 500 Jan 2011 – 2016

The theory behind this is that the “smart money” figures out that a market is topping long before the average Joe. I’m not sure if I agree with the theory, but it does seem to me that the “stupid money” gets out way too late, after the market has dropped significantly.

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New Years Resolutions

Since today is Jan. 1st, I started thinking about New Years Resolutions. And what better way to start the new year than by creating a blog post?

 

One thing that is funny about New Years Resolutions is that most people have them. And 99% of the time they have completely forgotten all about them by spring. This useless goal setting system is completely broken. Yes nearly all people use it. Then they lament that they “failed” in following through.

 

The #1 New Years Resolution is going to the gym. I wish I owned some gyms. Perhaps 95% to 98% of the members never go. And those that do go only use it a few times per month. Ever wonder my gym membership is so cheap? Because the cheaper it is the easier it is to lie to ourselves.

I don’t want to cancel it because I am going to try to start going.

I wonder why people think it is such a great idea to get drunk and party on New Years Eve. Why? What’s so great about it? It’s just another year that went by. Did you achieve your goals? Did you get rich? Did you even go to the gym? If I answered no to those questions, then I wouldn’t be partying. I would be pondering.

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5 Tips That Will Help You Create a Successful Career in Finance

This is a guest post by Jenny  Richards. Jenny has worked in the financial sector for 12 years. She is a certified CFA and currently earns a good income working for a business that deals in car title loans in San Jose California.

Every company, at one point or another, needs to employ someone with a financial background. Financial positions could vary in a company from accountant, finance administrators, advisors and planners, CFOs and others. The need for a position and the prestige within a company is usually dependent on the size of the company.

Financial jobs are usually dependent on market cycles. At the moment, small loans are in demand among many consumers as the market is still reeling from the effects of the financial crisis. As such, companies that offer car title loans are growing because they are dealing in the types of loans that consumers can afford. Such growth occasions an increase in financial jobs.

Below are tips that will help you grow your finance career: Read more…

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Chaikin Analytics Review and Free Trial

One of the biggest hurdles that the individual investor faces in trying to create a nimble, smart portfolio is the competition.

Investment bankers, quants, mutual fund companies, and big Wall Street firms are employing Ph.D. researchers with degrees in everything from finance to physics to create model portfolios. They use the latest and most powerful technology to guide their buys and sells.

The little guy doesn’t have a chance.

That’s what I thought, until last week. George and I had a chance to see a demonstration of Chaikin Analytics, probably one of the most complete set of investment tools and stock market model-building technology that’s available for the money. Or at least I’ve ever seen.

The Chaikin Analytics Dashboard

The Chaikin Analytics Dashboard

How does Chaikin level the playing field?

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The End of Everything and the Beginning of Nothing

Zero Marginal Cost SocietyThe predominant economic systems are capitalism and communism. Both have their problems, which seems to explain the existence of mishy-mashy socialism in most countries.

Most futurists debate which economic system will dominate the next century. That’s a mistake, according to some experts, like Jeremy Rifkin. Rifkin recently wrote The Zero Marginal Cost Society that looks at how technology and ideas, like the Collaborative Commons, will re-shape the financial status quo.

Adding sensors to just about everything will move the power of info-centric businesses — think energy and utility companies — back into the hands of individuals. If a person had smart enough algorithms, for example, they could purchase energy much more efficiently, use it efficiently, and save it efficiently. In a very real sense, an individual could run their own utility company.

But, that’s just the beginning. Let’s try to connect all the zero-marginal cost technologies. 3-D Printing has already received lots of hype, but buried deep within this technology are several — forget disruptive — transformative technologies. What if you could 3-D print your own efficient solar cells? What if you could 3-D print your own efficient battery? Let’s go crazy here. What if you could 3-D print a fusion reactor for your home.

So, now you’re going to not only be a smart consumer — a prosumer in Rifkin’s lingo — to a smart producer — or a producer… wait, that doesn’t work. Anyway, what happens when you produce something for almost free and use it so efficiently that you avoid costs. Well, everything becomes nothing. In other words supply increases to near infinity and costs fall correspondingly to near nothing.

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Did Kickstarter donors just get ripped off for billions?

By now, we have all read about the Facebook acquisition of Oculus, the virtual reality company, for $2 billion. That’s billion — with a “b.”

kickstarter

The debate can go on about whether this is a sell-out to Facebook and their slick and sometimes creepy marketing machine, or the next stage in a revolution of virtual reality. Or, both, for that matter. What a lot of people are wondering — especially those who donated money to Oculus through Kickstarter — is whether they got ripped off.

Kickstarter, a crowdsourced donation site, helped Oculus raise $2.4 million for its Rift product back in 2012. In exchange, backers received t-shirts, posters, and prototypes, depending on their level of gift.

So, legally, the answer is “no.” Nobody got ripped off. These people donated, they didn’t actually invest in the virtual reality company, nor were they promised any sort of any financial remuneration from Oculus for their donation, if they were able to sell the company.

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Stocks And Retirement | Should I Keep Holding On To These Stocks?

All retirees end up asking themselves if they should cash in their chips and make a smooth, profitable exit from the stocks game. Having nurtured their portfolios through the years, they sometimes feel uneasy about selling their stock assets. After all, a lot of time has gone by, watching them, believing in them, having them generating income, even if poor at times. Many retirees know that they could generate some extra cushion by unloading their stocks, but they just can’t seem to fathom the act.

Image courtesy

Image courtesy Andreas Poike

It’s important to remember why you started accumulating stocks in the first place. In most cases, it was simply a matter of developing a tangible financial portfolio; something that you created to make life better for the future of you and your loved ones. Well, have your stocks done that? Maybe you took a heavy hit back in 2008. Maybe you’re just recovering – and stock markets are doing just about as good as you could hope for right now. Maybe it is time time to cash them in. You can try the superannuation calculator over at Suncorp, if you need a hand figuring out how much you need to retire.

Should you sell your stocks now that you’re a retiree? Read more…

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We Are Fred Phelps

We Are Fred Phelps

We Are Fred Phelps

I would like to take a pause from the normal financial news and information of this site and, because it is really my only vehicle for this type of writing, talk about another topic — Fred Phelps. Phelps, the odious leader of the uber-odious Westboro Baptist Church, died this week. He and the Westboro Baptist Church made headlines for their “God Hates Fags” signs and protests at soldiers’ funerals.

Phelps wasn’t a polarizing figure. He was a unifying figure. Liberal or conservative, we could all hate Phelps. He was an equal opportunity hater and hated us all right back.

But, might there not be a little — about half — of Phelps in all of us? That’s my question — do we come off as Fred Phelps? Check out social networks, or watch the news and you will see and hear how ideology has split us into two ideological camps. We create templates for our hate. The same cruel jokes that liberals heaped onto George W. Bush and conservatives a decade or so ago match up pretty well with the anti-Obama, anti-liberal crowd today. We post our meme updates on Facebook and we call each other Rupugnican and libtards. All of which plays well to our peer groups. Liberals preach to the liberal choir, conservatives to theirs, just like Phelps came off to his choir.

To each other, though, we start to look like a more targeted version of Phelps, but with just a bit less self-awareness.

And there are a lot of reasons to keep this going. By losing ourselves in our ideologies, we place ourselves in demographics, which makes it easier for news organizations, publishers, and entertainers to spoon feed our hate and fears. Follow the money, reporters always say, and there’s a lot of money to be made in this.

We may make some friends with our re-spewing of the hate industry that most of us call politics, but we’re going to lose some, too — maybe even some good friends. We won’t make much headway and converting people to our ideas — because it’s really about preserving our self-interest, not at finding solutions that everyone can live with.

But, ultimately, we’re losing ourselves. We’re becoming soulless caricatures. When we cling to our ideology, at the expense of our humanity, we are Fred Phelps.

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Buying a Franchise Business

What exactly is a franchise business?
There may be some slight variations from one situation to another but on the whole, this involves buying what is effectively a license from someone to open up your own business operating under their corporate umbrella and brand. It is a very familiar business model and offers the advantage of you being able to join a winning brand rather than needing to come up with your own business idea and develop it accordingly.

Image courtesy Ed Hart

Image courtesy Ed Hart

What are the main advantages of a franchise?
As touched on above, you are theoretically jumping onto the bandwagon of an existing successful company and that may be worth a lot to you.
Other things that might come as part of the package, though not always so do check, might be: Read more…

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