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Contempt of Customer

January 31st, 2016

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?

January 17th, 2016

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

January 1st, 2016

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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Buying a Franchise Business

March 13th, 2014

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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Investing in New Businesses: The Ripple Effect

November 12th, 2013

Given the state of current affairs, you may be a bit skeptical to invest your money in a new business that may or may not succeed. Essentially, you are putting money that could be used towards your own improvements to help improve the business affairs of someone else. It can be intimidating if you don’t have a lot of money. However, the rewards could be great if the venture succeeds.

investing_in_a_business

Image courtesy NKNS

Beginning Expenses
After an individual invests money into a business, this goes towards various expenses in order to help it succeed. This could be anything from paper for invoices and receipts to hiring local graphic designers for logos and signs. Landlords, utility companies, office equipment stores and more will receive additional sales due to the fact that the new company needs specific supplies and equipment. As long as the new establishment can maintain itself, this income could become residual for other companies in the area that need the income.

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Is this the Start of the next Bitcoin Bubble?

October 22nd, 2013

Bitcoin has started to rise again, and it looks like it might be the start of the next Bitcoin bubble. Although many people have known about Bitcoin for years, most people have not purchased any coins and do not understand it.

Image courtesy bitcoincharts.com

Image courtesy bitcoincharts.com

How is this bubble different?

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Is this a good time to buy gold?

August 11th, 2013

Many people think that this is a great time to buy gold. However, the same people who are saying that now were saying it when gold was at $1,800 per oz.

The price of gold has fluctuated over the last 5 years.

The price of gold has fluctuated over the last 5 years.

Personally, I think it is better to hold gold than dollars. The dollar is collapsing, and I think it will continue to collapse over the next decades. However, that does not mean that everyone should go out and buy gold.

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10 Free Apps to Help You Declare Your Personal Financial Independence

July 1st, 2013

Two things made the American Revolution work: Ideas and Tools.

It was a great idea to become independent and to create a democracy in the new world, dominated by archaic colonialism and monarchism. However, if it wasn’t for the printing press, those ideas would have never got out. If it wasn’t for the rifle, those ideas would have never been defended.

You might say the American Revolution was the ultimate app.

But what about you? Do you have great ideas on how to save money, invest money, and budget money, but don’t have the resources or tools? Here are a few ways to simplify those tasks and make this July 4th — and every day after that — the day you declare your personal financial independence.

And, by the way, all these apps are Free, just like the founding fathers wanted them to be.

Mint.com

Mint made personal financial tasks easier and simpler. Their mobile apps are getting rave reviews, too.

To learn more, go to the Mint Apps page.

Manilla

Manilla apps can help you organize your bill-paying chores. Not paying your bills on time can lead to stress, anger, and… higher bills.

Here’s the page to find out more about Manilla apps.

SigFig

Making a bad investment is one thing, but you don’t know it’s bad unless you can see how bad it really is. SigFig helps you monitor your portfolio — and spot those bad investments. And good ones. Find out more at SigFig.

BillTracker

The BillTracker app helps you monitor your bills and pay them on time. Find out more at BillTracker.

Doxo

Doxo bills itself as a digital file cabinet so you don’t have pesky paper bills floating around mucking things up. You can check out this hand app here.

Forbes Intelligent Investing

Forbes is one of the biggest names in financial news and information. Their Intelligent Investing column is downright educational. You can get a look at the Intelligent Investing app here. Click on the Intelligent Investing tab.

Morningstar Apps

Track all of your investments and study all of your investment ideas with these Morningstar apps.

FX360

Forex people! You need free apps, too. Here’s a nice one from FX 360.

ETrade

From one of the biggest brokers, here’s a great app. Check out ETrade’s suite of mobile apps.

TD Ameritrade

And last but not least, if you use TD Ameritrade as your broker, you might want to plug into this free app.

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Accelerating Technology, Investing, Money, Online Investing AI, Success, US Economy

Cognitive Biases — How Thinking Shortcuts May Cause Thinking Blind Spots When You Invest

June 24th, 2013

You do not see the market clearly. No one does. You are peaking through a crack through a wall when you make an investment, or a trade. The mass that blocks your view from true reality is often referred to as “a cognitive bias.” In fact, there isn’t just one cognitive bias that makes up the wall that blocks your view of how things really are; there are dozens.

Cognitive biases are simply thinking shortcuts, ways you process the infinite amount of information that bombards your reality every day. (If you want to impress people, call them “heuristics.”)

Biases aren’t necessarily bad. They are actually forms of pattern recognition — one of the reasons humans remain at the top of the food chain. In fact, you might go crazy if you didn’t have some way to turn the swirling clouds of data that inundate us into sensible patterns. However, if you’re not aware of your own biases and acknowledge that they help you make decisions, these lenses quickly become blinders. Here are a few cognitive biases that might affect how you think about investing.

Anchoring or focalism – this is the tendency to rely too much on one piece of information when making decisions. Some investors have a particular metric when the make their decision and ignore other signs of company performance.

Backfire effect – when something happens to cause you to doubt your belief, you strengthen that belief. Ever buy something after a rapid loss and call it a “buying opportunity”?

Bandwagon effect – just because everyone is buying a house with a high-risk mortgage, you can do the same.

False-consensus effect – the tendency of a person to overestimate how much other people agree with him or her. Just watch any of the financial news networks until you find one that agrees with you.

Information bias – the tendency to seek information even when it cannot affect action.

Focusing effect – the tendency to place too much importance on one aspect of an event. You may experience this when, let’s say, the Fed makes one move, while there are other economic factors that are just important, and you focus on the Fed’s decision.

Optimism bias – the tendency to be over-optimistic, overestimating favorable and pleasing outcomes.

Pessimism bias – the tendency to overestimate the likelihood of negative things happening to them.

Recency bias – events that just happened seem more important. For example, a company has a good quarter — after a string of lousy quarters — and you focus on the new numbers.

Typically, we don’t suffer from one bias — but dozens. Sometimes, these biases are bouncing around at the same time.

Here’s a good list on Wikipedia.

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Banishment or Unemployment: Why Workers Choose to Stay in Bad Jobs

June 3rd, 2013

There’s an interesting story that some companies in Japan have banishment rooms. According to Marginal Revolution:

“Basically, banishment rooms are departments where companies transfer surplus employees and give them menial or useless tasks or even nothing to do until they become depressed or disheartened enough to quit on their own, thus not getting full benefits, unlike if they were actually let go. Imagine having to stare at a TV monitor for 10 hours at a time each day, in order to look for “program footage irregularities.” Of course companies would not admit to doing this, and instead will make up generic (or even creative) titles and department names like “Business & Human Resource Development Center” or “career development team”

You’ll see this in American operations, too. Hoping to avoid paying out unemployment compensation, some organizations will try to demoralize and demean employees into quitting on their own.

What’s even more dismaying, employees will stick it out. Apparently, Japanese workers will remain in these banishment rooms.  Only 10 percent will leave the company. The rest sit around and scrutinize television for 10 hours a day. A horrible waste of potential. Doubly dismaying: Most studies indicate that employees who are laid off or quit find better jobs: higher paying and more richly satisfying. They tend to perform well in these jobs, too.

So what gives? The Buddha might say it is nothing more than attachment. We are attached to our routines and our relationships. We derive too much of our self-esteem and self-worth from our job titles and the brand of the place where we work, too. I might add that there’s always the fear of the unknown. The saying that comes to mind: The devil that you know is better than the devil you may face in the future.

Somehow, workers become blinded by fear and are unable to see that with unemployment — or even new employment — that new positions bring not just uncertainty, but also opportunity.

What’s your opinion? Do you stay in a bad situation, or do you move on and try a new job? What’s your bottom line?

 

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