Sunday, March 22, 2009

Free Investment Tool/Game

I know I havent been posting much lately, so I am going to give you the reason why. Its best described as fantasy football meets wall street, meets facebook. When you sign up for a free account, you are given $1 million dollars to invest into the market (no mutual funds yet, however I am told, improvements still to come).

The site offers communication through messages, groups and a message list similar to the "wall" on facebook.

When you invest your $1 million, you are investing in real market numbers. So if you buy "Gold" at $50.00 a share, you will see your invest grow or decline just like it would in a real investment. This provides a real stock investment experience, without the worry of losing. This is a very, very great learning tool. From the highly experienced, to those completely new to the market, you will walk away with something, possibly even real cash.

Thats right, you can earn money on this site. has contests every month and year, where you can earn cold hard cash, depending on your investment gains. It most likely wont be significant money, like the $3000 advertisement you see, that is unless your top dog, but if you do well, you can pick up anywhere from 1 cent to a few bucks a month.

Now while that doesnt sound like a heck of a lot of money, you get it from playing a game, or depending on your investment style, a strategic one time investment, of fake money.

If you have ever been curious about investing, the stock market, or how you would fair in the markets, here is your chance.

Practice invest

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Book Review: The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets

For those of you who know me, you know I'm always in the middle of several books. I'm currently reading The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton and just finished The Little Book of Bull Moves in Bear Markets by Peter Schiff. I'm planning on doing a post on The Wealthy Barber in the future but for now let's look at Peter Schiff's newest book.

This book gives excellent, in-depth analysis of how America got into the mess it is in today. There are times when it's hard to work past some of the jargon but he does give definitions of all the terms in the beginning of the book. I would occasionally find myself having to flip back to these to find out what he was talking about. I really enjoyed how logical all of his reasoning was and it makes me interested in learning more about the school of Austrian economics which he touts throughout the book.

The premise of this book is to learn how to make money during a time when our country is going to enter a severe recession/depression. When we left the gold standard our money no longer had any actual item of worth backing it, it became a glorified IOU, otherwise known as fiat currency. This allows us to print more of it without having anything to actually back the money. Unfortunately, if too much fiat money is printed, this leads to inflation. If way too much money is printed, such as our current situation in America, that leads to hyperinflation. There is a very interesting article on Seeking Alpha, one of my favourite investment sites, about this issue.

Based on the projection that the American Dollar won't be worth much in the near future (next couple of years at the latest I'm guessing), Peter Schiff makes suggestions of where to put your money. The goal is to have it holds its worth at worst and make more money at best. I won't give the list of countries and industries in this blog because you can check that out in the book itself (it's free at a library). I can say that all of the choices are, once again, backed by sound logic.

Although I don't want to believe all of the doom and gloom touted in his book I can't help but admit he's been consistently right on these issues in the past. Just take a look at his last book, or at the clip below:

This guy clearly knows what he's talking about and has been spot on, even when people laughed at him to his face (3:40-45 for example). It scares me to realize what may become of this nation in the near future. It disturbed me so much so that I had to put the book down at one point and just walk away because I couldn't deal with it. Each bailout we have and each attempt the government makes to get us out of this recession is just worsening the problem in the long term. Our economy is a deck of cards already crashing to the ground.

Of the many things that he says people can do to help keep their wealth, one thing in particular hit me hard and that is to actually leave the country. As far as I know, people have been trying to immigrate to America. I think we're going to start seeing the reverse happen after things crash. It's hard to fathom for some reason since I am very proud of our country, albeit currently very disappointed in its actions.

I don't know what is going to happen but I do think that some hard times are coming for us as a nation and we've only seen the tip of the iceberg. I would highly suggest people read this book, I just want to warn you that it's a difficult read due to its hard to swallow truth factor.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Worth Your Time

I have a pet peeve I must rant about: pennies or small change isnt worth my time.

Here it is, if you can get free money, where do you draw the line on how much time to spend? For me, I will spend time finding coupons, print them out, and take them to the store with me. If your in a rush, and dont feel coupons are worth your time, dont get in line behind me. IF YOU DO, know this, I am not embarrassed to use coupons, and I personally find you less intelligent for not using them.

I also am a member on a few sites where I can earn money, while playing a game. Of course it is based on performance, and the money is generally 10 cents to 50 cents a month, yet it holds possibilities of up to $3000 a month. To me, its worth it.

Is free money worth your time? I am not trying to sell you on something here, but I am curious what you consider worth your time.

Would you spend 5 hours a month, to earn 50 cents, by playing a game you enjoy? At what point do you decide, its not worth it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Adventures in Grocery Shopping - Emergency Evacuation Edition!

Well, I officially had my first full grocery shopping experience at Walmart last night. My husband and I make it a point to go grocery shopping at Meijer instead so we support local business. Sometimes I will pick up a couple things here and there at Walmart but our actual grocery shopping trip is always at Meijer.

So there we were, comparing coupons and picking out items when a broadcast comes over the loud speaker at Meijer. "Attention all shoppers, due to an emergency situation, all shoppers must leave the store immediately. Please evacuate in an orderly fashion out of the closest exit. All employees, evacuate to parking lot B." This was repeated several times.

Some people started running out of the building other people started taking their shopping carts toward the checkout. I'm not sure why, since the employees were being evacuated as well. I think it was just the shock. My husband and I simply left our cart in the aisle and walked away. There were police by the exits to help people remain calm. Once outside there were about 5-8 police cruisers in front of the building.

After looking it up this morning, it turns out it was a bomb threat. They brought some bomb-sniffing dogs in and didn't find anything. There were a couple of news reports from local news stations. They were all just little blurbs though.

Thankfully, we left unharmed. We had also just started our shopping trip so it didn't cost us too much of our time. Another blessing is that It was about 8pm so the store wasn't too packed. I felt bad for some of the people I saw who were ready to check out with a cart full of items and had to just leave their stuff in the cart and come back some other day... or do what we did, head down the road to Walmart instead. I can't help but wonder what the Walmart greeter was thinking when a line of cars suddenly turned into the Walmart parking lot, 8pm at night to go grocery shopping.

All in all it made for an interesting first experience shopping at Walmart and an interesting day in general.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

1st Quarter Update

It's hard to believe we're in our third month of the year already but I want to give an update on how our financial goals are progressing this quarter. If you remember from our previous post, 2009 Financial Goals, our goals for the year are:

  • Pay off our auto loan (our last consumer debt)
  • Install a sliding patio door off our dinning room.
  • Fix our Garage door (it's been broken since we bought the house)
  • Update our Bathroom
  • Update our Kitchen (This does not include new appliances, although now might include a microwave, keep reading for an explanation.)
  • Partially finish the basement
  • Save 3 months worth of income in our Emergency Fund
  • Completely stick to our budget at least 1 month (We always seem to go over in one or more areas but it evens out because we are then under in other areas.)
  • Increase our net worth to $80K or more
  • Be content with all our financial decisions throughout the year
I am quite happy to report that we have met 2 of our goals already!!
  • Completely stick to our budget at least 1 month
  • Increase our net worth to $80K or more
Last month we really hunkered down and got serious about following our budget and we were under in every single category. Most categories we were under by over $100. Very exciting! In addition to this, we've been able to put extra money towards our debts which has bumped up our net worth to over $80K. We're hovering around $83K at the moment but have been up to $85K over the past month.

God has been richly blessing us this last month, let me tell you. We've been able to make several hundred dollars from selling books and video games on We've also gotten reward points from our credit card (used for work-related travel) which we cashed in and put towards debt. Last but not least, I won an award at work and was given an extra bonus of $50 for my accomplishments (not to mention a pretty snazzy binder). Even just today I got to work and there was a congratulations card waiting for me. Inside was a $20 Meijer gift certificate from my boss for passing my CISSP certification. Having a boss as cool as mine is is a blessing in and of itself, might I add.

All that said, we have had one minor set back this past week. Our microwave broke! Ah! I know a microwave isn't really a necessity but it can be missed once it's gone. We've been cooking things on the stove and baking things in the oven instead this week. I have a feeling we might even do some grilling soon as long as the weather cooperates. All in all, it has been a minor inconvenience really. My husband and I talked it over and agreed that a broken microwave doesn't really classify as an emergency, so we're not going to dip into our emergency fund to buy a new one. I think we're just going to hang tight for now and see what we can find at a garage sale.

As a side note: Aren't garage sales wonderful? It's one of the signs that spring is on its way!

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