Recent Posts

Pefin Review: Your Personal AI Financial Planner

As I am starting business school in the fall, I have been wondering for months whether my financial situation is in a solid position for taking on a bunch of debt. My gut response is [...]

How to Cut the Cable Cord and Watch Live TV for Free Online

    When was the last time you watched all of the channels you are paying for with your cable bill? I can't remember a time I've even watched 10% of my available channels. Each [...]

Best Gas Rewards Card: PenFed Platinum Cash Rewards – 5% Cash Back

I've had this credit card for well over a year now and it is by far the best rewards card for gas that I have in my wallet.  This card earns a whopping 5% cash [...]

A Young Professional’s Guide to Financial Planning

As a young professional myself, I know firsthand the struggles many young professionals have when dealing with their finances. When we graduate college and start making “real money” for the first time in our lives [...]

5 Easy Ways to Save Money

Eat out less - Eating out can cost a lot. If you eat in you won't have to pay for gas to get to the restaurant or pay a tip. In terms of actual food [...]

Thanks Bill White! Can’t Wait to Dig Into Your New Book: America’s Fiscal Constitution

We reached out to Bill White, the former mayor of Houston and Deputy Secretary of Energy under President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1995, for his new book America's Fiscal Constitution: Its Triumph and Collapse. [...]

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

Warren Buffet

March 2014

Free and Discounted eBooks: How to Find Them

By |March 19th, 2014|Categories: Saving Money|Tags: , |

There are thousands of free or deeply discounted eBooks out there for the taking. But how do you find them?  One way is to subscribe to an eBook deal alert service that uncovers the bargains -- many of them available for just a short time --  and then shares that information with you through daily emails. Some services will limit those alerts  to the genres that you choose. And,  yes, that could include best sellers. One of the best known of these eBook services is BookBub, which last year alerted its more than one million subscribers that Dan Brown’s "The Da Vinci Code” – which then retailed for $9.99 -- was being offered free for one week by its publisher. As reported by The Book Insider, that limited-time giveaway coincided with the tenth anniversary of  “The Da Vinci Code,” and was part of the publisher's promotion of Brown’s newest book. (Note: When I checked BookBub today, 3/19/2014, that same book was again offered for free.) The story quoted a source calling sites such as BookBub "the Groupon of books." Here’s how BookBub works: Subscribers complete a short questionnaire noting which eReaders they use (Kindle, Nook, Sony, etc.) and which genres they prefer (mystery, [...]

An Alternative Portfolio Strategy: The Yale Endowment Model

By |March 2nd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|

2013 was a phenomenal year for the stock market.  Nothing seemed to derail the rapid ascent of the market-- not even a government shutdown or a near default on U.S. debt.  Major indexes in the United States posted solid double digits gains, with the S&P advancing 29.6% and the Dow increasing 26.5% (source: www.yahoo.com/finance).  While many investors have benefited from the recent bull market, the truth is that this rate of growth cannot continue forever.  At some point, stocks are bound to return to some long-term equilibrium growth rate, often via a correction, or pullback (note: this does not necessarily mean a full blown bear market).  We saw a glimpse of this in January, with all major indexes trimming a few percentage points off their previous highs.  With reversing trends comes a great deal of day-to-day volatility, which has the potential to cause undue stress for many investors.  To mitigate some of the inherent risk and volatility in the investment process, many investors, where appropriate, employ a strategy similar to that of the Yale Endowment Model when constructing portfolios. The Yale Endowment Model (YEM) has gained worldwide recognition as an effective method of diversification that, in theory, reduces risk yet [...]

February 2014

Stock Market Correction Is Over, For Now.

By |February 16th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|

The S&P 500 had a terrible first month of the year, but it bumped back all the way to near record highs. Going forward we have a slew of economic indicators, especially next week. On Tuesday we have the Empire State Mfg Survey and the Housing Market Index. On Wednesday we have Housing Starts, the Producer Price Index, and the FOMC minutes. Thursday we have the Consumer Price Index, Jobless Claims, the PMI Manufacturing Index Flash, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort Index, and the Philly Fed Survey. Lastly, on Friday we have Existing Home Sales. To see a calendar of these events, go here. Although the economy is looking up, corporate earnings have a long way to go to support current stock price levels. The Shiller P/E ratio is over 50% higher than its historical average, indicating stock price levels are much higher in relation to corporate earnings. There are some notable improvements, however, such that M&A activity is picking up speed. Employment remains weak, but jobless claims are falling, which is a positive indication. Overall, the future looks bright, but Federal Reserve tapering could keep the market at bay for the first half of 2014. Where do you think the [...]

Financial Markets Today: How You Can Reduce Risk

By |February 12th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|

In my post, "How I made $12,000 and paid off my student debt by investing", I outlined how I traded options to make a significant monetary gain in 3 weeks. I took my gains out of the market and put it towards paying down my student debt. The entire experience gave me a tremendous amount of confidence. I had picked 6/7 stocks correctly -- not to mention at seemingly perfect times -- and it felt really good. It also felt good knowing I had paid down my student debt. But what now? How Do You Invest When All Of Your Debt Is Gone? Should I be more risky with my money? How do I grow wealth starting at square one? Do I invest in the most risky assets considering I have a stable job, low expenses, and steady income? Well, I tried being even more risky, ditching my more stable strategy of buying long in-the-money options on fundamentally undervalued stocks, and instead buying weekly options (aka option minis). I bought into minis right before earnings announcements, since there's generally large swings in stock prices following the announcement. And you know what, it worked! I turned $12,000 into $20,000 in 2 [...]

Market Recovers from Sell Off: Earnings in Play

By |February 4th, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|

Stock Market Today Now that the market has sold off, earnings are going to be under more scrutiny. Emerging market health and poor manufacturing data in the US and China will still be in the back of investor's minds. Stock Market Superstitions Since 1971, the S&P has declined 72% of the time when January returns were negative. If you believe in stock market superstitions, this is not a good indicator for the rest of you year. Only Positive Economic Data The one good sign for the US economy is that the Thomson Reuters Small Business Lending Index jumped in December, signaling stronger growth, increased hiring, and greater production ahead. For the rest of the week, all eyes will be on the employment situation which comes out at the end of the week. Lookout tomorrow for the ADP employment report, which may be prove to be a good indicator for the employment situation.

Markets Get Slaughtered: Emerging Markets Sell Off

By |February 3rd, 2014|Categories: Uncategorized|

Wow. You're probably counting pennies after today's massive and nearly 2.5% sell off. So what's going on? Why is the market selling off? What gives? Stock Market Today: Get Out Now Or Get Killed Emerging Markets - Policy tightening in emerging markets is prompting a global sell off. Turkey, South Africa, and India all raised rates last week. Brazil and Indonesia already raised rates, and other countries like Chile, Peru, and Hungary want to loosen policy but won't. US Fed Reserve Tapering - The US is pulling back on its asset purchases which has boosted markets since 2009. Despite the tapering, interest rates have been dropping because of global growth concerns. This is how we know the sell off and not just a technical sell off -- because large investors are moving back into safe assets like US Treasuries. Weak Economic Indicators / Earnings  - US manufacturing came in much lower than expected. Growth in China's manufacturing sector is slowing. Earnings are modest. The Market Is Massively Overvalued  - According to the Shiller PE ratio, the stock market is nearly 50% overvalued when taking into account corporate earnings and current stock prices. The chart below will probably make you sad, [...]