March 2012

Shark Tank – A great show for the budding entrepreneur

Shark Tank is an entertaining show that gives a lot of insight

As if the life stories of the five ‘Sharks’ that are on Shark Tank was not enough, we have a show that brings in budding entrepreneurs – some of who are even making $20M a year through their businesses – to share their story in their pitch to the Sharks to make them invest in their company.

It is not only the innovative ideas that the entrepreneurs have and how they have grown their businesses that have inspired me, but also the Sharks themselves. I was already aware of Mark Cuban because he is the owner of the Dallas Mavericks and I like his outspoken personality and his rise to riches from pretty humble beginnings. But it was Daymond John that stood out to me the most.

Save Time and Money by avoiding Internet Scams

"There are plenty of legitimate sites that are great ways to make some extra money"

I have to admit that I have spent countless hours looking for ways to make money on the Internet. At the beginning, I ran into a lot of scams that wasted a lot of my time. One of them was the ‘get paid to read emails’ site called Hits4Pay. People seem to state that it does issue payments but it is very slow and I saw a case where a user got paid after 3 years.

I know that it is always good when a site does not have any upfront fees, but you have to take the time you put in into consideration as well. The other thing to be mindful of is the websites and blogs that promise to teach you ‘Secrets’ or other ways to get rich quick. I don’t think anyone who made millions would really want to share this information. At least, that is how I see it.

My instinct tells me that a guy who made millions of dollars would not bother to write and sell an eBook. But this is not always the case as there are successful people who have used eBooks as a form of viral marketing.

Equity Research

"Other ways to get equity research reports are to simply sign up for a brokerage account at Charles Schwab or TD Ameritrade"

This is my attempt at stealing the show from Jim Cramer. I have been talking about stocks and how the stock market works in this blog, but I just wanted to post about what exactly equity research is. Here is a good example of an equity research report from the year 2008.

Basically, equity research involves tracking public companies and picking stocks that are good to invest in. Earnings announcements and the news are also closely monitored. It helps to have a sound knowledge of accounting and finance, but what is more important is to know an industry really well. Tracking stocks is useful and there is fundamental analysis and technical analysis that comes into play.

How to monitor your portfolio like a Stock Trader

I did have an article about day trading on the Stock Fest blog and in this one I want you to know the typical day in the life of a stock trader. You could then perhaps base some of your days like this and see how your portfolio works out. It’s just a benchmark for you to measure against.

So here goes…

Traders usually or should I say almost always wake up early in the morning and I am saying something like 5:00 AM. Then they switch on the TV and watch the financial news on CNBC or other channel that broadcasts this. Reading the Wall Street Journal is also pretty common among most of these traders. It is very important to keep abreast of world markets, latest interest rates data, etc.

Basically, traders try to forecast how the news will move the markets for a particular day. Traders also have a good knowledge of the financial jargon and the concepts that are discussed regularly in the newspapers, etc. Excel is widely used in monitoring stock price movements and traders will have something like 4 monitors in front of them to assist in carrying out their various tasks.

Price Overcomes All Obstacles

In real estate there is a phrase, “Price overcomes all obstacles”.

It’s a hard lesson to learn if you are a homeowner and, sometimes, a harder lesson to teach, if you are a realtor. What does it mean?

If your house backs to a main road and just is not getting any showings, price overcomes all obstacles. No one wants to back to a main road, but they may consider it – for the right price. Lower the price in 5-25k increments (depending on your price point) until you get a surge of showings.

We needed to sell my mom’s one-bedroom condo. One-bedrooms are a tough sell. Everyone would like that extra bedroom for storage, office space or guests.

"Keeping Up With the Vanderbilts": The Income Disparity and Economic Recession Link

A detailed study shows that areas of income inequality exhibit higher degrees of financial stress and default.

The “class warfare” debate, stemming from reports that show income disparity in the U.S. increasing to a degree rivaling some third world nations, has at least one detailed study on its effects. Reported in Project Syndicate in a piece entitled “Democratic Injustice”, Raghuram Rajan highlights a study done at the University of Chicago that connects growing income inequality as a precursor to the Great Recession of 2008. The findings show that personal savings accounts dwindled prior to the crash, most likely a product of middle class consumers and a case of, as Rajan calls it, “keeping up with the Vanderbilts.”

The study indicated that in areas where middle-class, non-rich individuals lived near wealthier consumers, they would attempt to keep pace with the kinds of consumer goods that their wealthier neighbors were buying; jewelry, cars, fitness, etc. In fact, many of these individuals would borrow in order to finance their level of consumerism, which contributed to the “debt crunch”, as it became known. The result was that many of the poorer individuals in these high income disparity areas experienced increased financial stress and were much more likely to declare bankruptcy in the run-up to the recession.

Investing can be simple too

A lot of times when a person looks to invest their money, he or she is faced with so many choices that they get overwhelmed. The other problem is that it is hard to go out and learn a lot of the complex financial topics and investing methodology. I think the best way to approach this situation is to keep things simple.

Just look to get started even at $100 a month and it will grow to something considerable if you keep at it. In this post, I am going to share some easy investing tactics that even Warren Buffet stands behind. One thing that I have been doing is to take a look at what some big firms and small ones too are saying about a certain investment.

Success in Business and Life

Tips from titans like Master P and Richard Branson

One really interesting idea that I got from studying these entrepreneurs biographies and watching their interviews and the pieces of advice they have to offer is that age really does not matter. There is no magic number when it comes to age when deciding to get into the business world. Master P and Richard Branson have encouraged the idea of starting young and they feel that gives more time for a person to win!

Thinking big is critical as well. Never get caught up in what is hot right now or the biggest trend at this moment and instead look at what you are passionate about and focus on that. The important thing is to talk to different people as often the trouble is with limiting beliefs. I could relate to this as well because when I was growing up a lot of the people that I spoke to would laugh at the dreams that I had. But then when I got to college the same dreams were seen as too small by some ambitious students.

Economic Inequality = Economic Volatility

Consolidation of greater amounts of wealth at the top of the income spectrum means a narrower middle class on which to build the "real" economy.

The most brilliant and seasoned experts in economic policy and history have come to consensus on the topic of income inequality; it creates economic instability and actually increases federal spending. It’s not rocket science, though it may take the economist-equivalent to explain it, but consolidating wealth at the very top of the income spectrum means less consumer spending, more credit debt and higher levels of federal assistance as the middle class struggles to divide a shrinking percentage of GDP. The question becomes then, how to reconcile the American values of hard work and success to the economic necessity of a sustainable level of income inequality; and what does that look like?

How to Save on Rising Gas Prices

Take note of these tips to help you reduce your pain at the pump.

Gas prices are going through the roof. There are already close to $4.00 a gallon in most states, and in some states like Alaska and Hawaii they have already hit $4.00. The rumor mill is going strong, with rumblings that gas could hit $5.00 sometime over the summer.

But instead of foregoing your summer drive to the beach, the car-buying site offers some tips to help you reduce your pain at the pump.

1) Avoid tailgating. Not only is shadowing the car in front of you bumper dangerous, but he repetitive braking and accelerating can put a dent in your gas mileage.

2) Utilize cruise control. This is especially beneficial on an interstate. Driving at a steady pace on the highway instead of continuously speeding up can save you up to 15 percent in fuel economy.

3) Don't use the roof rack. Going on a road trip to the beach? Try to put as much of your luggage and gear inside the car. Putting luggage atop the roof can cause drag and reduce your gas mileage.

Capital asset pricing model

"There have been a lot of criticisms of the CAPM with an important one being that low beta stocks may provide higher returns than forecast."

This is a continuation of the discussion of how investors feel the stock market works that I touched upon in my post on the efficient-market hypothesis. The CAPM is probably on the opposite end of the spectrum in comparison to the efficient-market hypothesis.

The Capital asset pricing model better known as the CAPM is a way to determine the required rate of return on an investment. The famous financial economist Harry Markowitz laid the foundation for the CAPM with his work on the modern portfolio theory and diversification.

A tip for investors in developed markets such as the United States and the United Kingdom to have a well-diversified portfolio would be to have somewhere between 30 to 40 securities. This is not sufficient in the emerging economies and other developing markets where it would be better to have more securities in a portfolio due to the greater asset volatilities.

When Buying Land, Sometimes Spending More is Better

In our bottom line world, it seems natural to reach for something that costs less, simply because the price tag is easier.  That isn’t always the best case, because outside factors can change what is most valuable to a person.  Take buying land, for example.  One of the first calculations people tend to make when looking at the price is the price per acre.  While this is important to use when comparing like properties in a close radius, it is not the definitive answer to whether or not a property is worth purchasing.

Has Anyone Heard of Cricket?

Cricket offers cell phones and plans at reduced prices.

I have been studying my cell phone bills for the past few months and have realized that I am spending a fortune on this one bill. My bill is approximately $315 every month. I have a contract through a major cell phone company and have five lines on my bill. Four of the five lines have data packages that each cost an additional $30 every month. I am locked into a contract with all of the lines for who knows how long, so I cannot see any hope in the near future.

Self-belief and persistence are the keys to getting out of debt

"Never give in or get discouraged and look to learn from past failures that will guide you to the light of the end of the tunnel."

Self-belief and persistence are two of the most powerful weapons that you can use to get out of debt or to just to decide no debt. I know I have stated that all debt is not bad debt and getting rich is all about managing debt, but in this post I just want to focus on how self-belief and persistence can help in reducing and even all together eliminating debt.

Persistence is the idea of trying again and again until success results. If one way does not work, then another way must be found as there is no use banging your head against a brick wall. Self-belief is the idea that only you can believe in your heart of hearts that you will be debt free or be able to rule your debt and not the other way round.

‘Super Investor’ Walter Schloss – a good friend of Buffett – died last month

"I really think value investing is something that not only reaps rewards but also is what I would like to do. "

Being the guy who is always looking for a bargain and trying to make every purchase when it is on sale or at a discount, I think I will make a good value investor. There was none better than Warren Buffet who is right now the third wealthiest man on this planet.

Walter Schloss passed away last month at the age of 95 and he and Warren Buffett had known each other for 61 years. They were actually in the same office when they worked for Buffett’s mentor Benjamin Graham’s firm Graham-Newman. Buffet praised Schloss considerably and especially his knack of being able to find underpriced securities.