From the monthly archives:

March 2010

This is a guest post by Rob Stretch. Robert Stretch is an experienced blogger and online marketer. He thrives on marketing to competitive financially-based niches. Currently, he works for VA Mortgage Center.com targeting VA Loans and helping military veterans.

Buy Local and Invest Local

“Buy Local” is a popular battle cry these days when it comes to anything from small, local businesses to local food. Part of the emphasis, no doubt, on spending money in local communities is due to the declining economic stability the United States has faced in recent years. Buying local ensures that your money stays close to the community in which you live and directly helps the local economy. Often, by buying local, you can also ensure that less money gets lost along the way and have the satisfaction of knowing that the producer of whatever item you’ve purchased receives more of your money. However, the “buy local” mantra could also be slightly changed to “invest local” with great results for small communities across the country when residents look at investing in local companies.

Sustainable Local Business Networks

Keeping your investments local can not only have great effects for the local economy but also for your portfolio through the development of sustainable local business networks. Studies have shown that small companies are often more profitable than large corporations and retain two to four times more investment funds than a large corporation would (presumably due to overhead). Local banks often have their fingers on the pulse of the local market and can point you in the right direction for making such an investment. Check your local activity boards or local library for investment clubs as well since many businesses rely on “friends and family” networks provide funding for their businesses and as such, many look to local investment clubs for support and advice.

Obstacles to Local Investment Strategies

If you have trouble at first finding where your money will do the most good, don’t be discouraged. Due to current regulations by the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding small public offering and local stock exchanges, current laws are highly restrictive when it comes to investment choices of unaccredited (read: not in the top two percent of wealthy Americans) investors unless legal documentation is in place, creating obstacles to local investment strategies. Unfortunately, the legal documentation required in these cases can cost up to $100,000, which is prohibitive, to say the least, for most investors.

Personal Finance Investing and Local Businesses

Luckily, changes to these laws and restrictions could be simple, painless, and inexpensive. Modest security reforms could be put in place to exempt investors from needing legal release to invest in locally owned small businesses, and to allow the formation of co-op investment funds and micro-investment funds so that small investors can pool their money and invest in their local economies. It is, after all, better for both small business owners and local investors who can both reap significant financial rewards. Personal finance investing and local businesses can join forces to fuel sustainable, local networks and help boost small economies – and large nest eggs.

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I want to be clear on something I feel is important. If you can be responsible with your money there is no reason you can’t enjoy it now and enjoy it later. Responsibility is, and always has been, the key to this equation. When you get a job you are asked to be a responsible steward of your company. When you are asked to babysit you must be responsible for the care of someone else. The same thing goes for how you manage your money.  It is possible to both live well and responsibly.

If you are up to your eyeballs in debt then you need to keep your spending in check and focus on the task at hand. But so many finance writers focus on saving, retiring, and debt elimination. When is the last time someone told you it is OK to spend your money? I want you to know that it is OK when you plan it out and pay in cash.

It doesn’t do you any good to collect a lot of money and sit on it like Scrooge McDuck. If I had a tower of money I could swim in it, it wouldn’t be as much fun as some of the things you can do with it though. I don’t advocate being irresponsible with your money but I want you to enjoy it and your life now and in the future.

The reason I  bring the subject up is a vacation we are planning on taking later this year. It is to one of those all inclusive deals in the Caribbean. I could certainly find cheaper places to go but this is one of our dream vacations. We aren’t talking about chump change either. In all for me, my wife, and two kids we are looking at around $7,500.00 for one week vacation at an all inclusive resort. That includes the food, drinks, activities, and airfare.

A lot of people would balk pretty quickly at a $7,500 vacation. I mean hell most people in the finance community  wouldn’t pay that much for a car let alone a vacation. I am sure there will be some interesting comments about my choice but to me it is worth it. We are going to pay cash for the vacation without affecting our current savings, retirement, or other obligations. Having eliminated the last of our consumer debt it is a great way to reward ourselves for the last several years of sacrifice.

So you tell me would you be willing to pay $7,500.00 to go on vacation and enjoy the now or would you sock it away for the hope of something you might be able to do later?

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My bracket got blown out of the water a long time ago, I don’t have a single pick in the final four this year which is craziness. I don’t follow basketball that much but I usually do better at picking than this.This weeks theme is the Final Four, we will take a look at each of the teams who are going to battle it out for the chance to be in the final.

I take this carnival very literally so if your post wasn’t included it wasn’t a story or your story wasn’t about money.

Duke

The blue devils are probably the favorite to win at this point having finished the regular season ranked 3rd in the AP. Getting their tournament bid as the ACC champions they are no stranger to the big game. They have three national championships under their belt with the most recent coming in 2001.

Monevator talks about tackling your mental beliefs to help you earn more money. This was an interesting story where the write talks about how they stopped increasing their income when they reached the salary of their father. I wonder if I would act the same way, I still have a ways to go to get their though.

The thought never occurred to me that leaving the country for an extended period could wipe out your credit. This was a good piece over at the smarter wallet on how you can build your credit up when you don’t have any.

Silicon Valley Blogger talks about how she was an accidental entrepreneur and gives out some business advice. The one thing I really took away from this article was “Don’t think it is easier than your regular job.” That is true in so many ways.

Tom over at the Canadian finance blog tells a tale of a loaf of bread. I know it doesn’t seem very finance related at first but the end point is about how society over complicates things, that includes finance.

PT over at PTMoney talks about his friend who lost his credit card and what you should do if you lose yours. These kind of tales of lost cards are all too common, it is important to know what to do when you lose your card or your wallet.

West Virginia

West Virginia finished the regular season ranked 6th in the AP polls and got their bid as the Big East Champs. They have made 23 appearances in the tournament with their best finish as the runner-up in 1959. Having a played a solid season they have made a big improvement over 2009 where they finished only the 1st round of the tournament

Short, sweet, and not so sexy post from Budgets are Sexy adds on the ongoing saga of someone who filed bankruptcy then blew $250 after foreclosing on their house. J. Money is of the mindset they need a Financial intervention, and personally I agree.

Kelly, the stay at home mom CFO, had a terrible disaster happen, her TV Broke. In her post titled Math Class is Tough she talks about making the decision to not raid their emergency fund and to start saving cash to buy a new TV. More power to her, I don’t know if I could do it.

Joe’s wife told him they WERE going to get some new patio furniture this year. He does a good job of explaining how a penny saved is better than a penny earned. It makes sense that you can buy things by saving more money without increasing your income.

Ever go through a drive through and get home only to find out something is missing? That is just what happened to Lynnae but she did something most of us don’t she made an effective complaint about the problem. She talks about what happened and ways you can peacefully resolve complaints when it happens to you.

Butler Bulldogs

Butler made their way into the tournament as the champions of the Horizon League. They finished the regular season 32-4 and were ranked 11th by the AP. Prior to this year they had never finished better than the Sweet 16 and have made only 10 tournament appearances. Last year they didn’t make it past the 1st round of the tournament.

Oil and Garlic Blog talks about expanding personal finance teaching out of the realm of those already interested in finance. They make a good point in that most people who write or otherwise frequent finance blogs are already interested in money. How can we help those people who aren’t already actively seeking help?

Derek wrote a guest post over at Bible Money Matters telling us to stop faking it. In the post he discusses how he got a “new” car right out of college and how he learned to overcome that consumer need and eradicate his debt.

Frugal Dad talks about his recent quest to purchase a new air compressor. He highlights the tricks stores use to get us to pay more for the things we buy. It was a little eye opening when you see things called out like the infamous 10/$10 deals at Kroger. Incidentally you don’t have to buy 10 to get the discounted price.

Are your kids more generous than you? That is the question Craig’s wife Jeri is asking over at Money Help for Christians. I think most kids are more generous than their adult counterparts. They see someone with a need and want to fill that need. Adults over complicate the issues.

FMF talks about a bad experience with Comcast customer service that was saved after a tweet. Personally there is only one company in the world I refuse to ever do business with again, and you guess who they are but I am glad to see they are helping at least some people in customer service, even if it takes a comment to a Twitter user with 75k followers to get it.

Money Beagle talks about how it pays for them to recycle. They offer a similar service in my area but I would have to switch garbage providers and then pay for the recycling service so it would be a wash for me.

Michigan State

Michigan State is no stranger to the tournament. They entered the tournament this year on an at large bid but they finished 2009 as the runner up in the tournament. With two previous championships and 23 previous tournaments they have the experience edge over Butler.

Daniel bought a light bulb three times, not just any light bulb but a $7 light bulb.  I don’t know that I have anything in my house that takes a $7 light bulb and I can definitely see where he his kicking himself for buying the one he got three times.

WC covered the third installment of them trying to buy a house. This is a typical tale of the “perfect” house not looking so perfect after you sleep on it a little bit. To make it worse they had a pushy Realtor.

Alvin Tam did something I would not bring myself to do, he went homeless for 24 hours. The idea was to overcome a fear of becoming homeless by living as a homeless person. It was an extreme method but it seems to have worked for him. It is scary to think about what it would be like to truly be homeless and I don’t think 24 hours would really do justice to that kind of life.

Thanks for looking through this weeks Carnival of Money Stories. Be sure to get your submissions in for next weeks carnival being hosted by Bucksome Boomer.

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Friday Finance Followers – March Mayhem Edition

March 26, 2010
Thumbnail image for Friday Finance Followers – March Mayhem Edition

March basketball is typically referred to as March Madness, I think we can officially dub this year “March Mayhem.” Mayhem, is defined by dictionary.com, as “a state of rowdy disorder.” For anyone who picked a bracket this year, odds are you are seeing a lot of red. Upsets abound and with Syracuse losing last night […]

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Do You Want an iPad?

March 24, 2010

This whole iPad thing baffles me. I guess I don’t get the point of the product. You take the iPhone which had some pretty big limitations and you make it bigger. Same limitations just a bigger screen. With the exception of Flash support I see things improving in future iterations of both the iPhone and […]

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