Archives For October 2009

This week’s Carnival of Personal Finance was hosted at Please stop by and check it out.

Take a look at the graphic below, which shows the percentage of months that were up and down for the S&P 500 Index going back to 1926 based on the month of the year:

S&P 500 Index - Percent Up and Down Months

For example, looking at the month of January….

There were 84 January months in my sample. Of those 84 months, 36.9% of them produced negative total returns, while 63.1% of them showed positive returns. The months with the biggest positive spread was December which showed that 78.3% of the months were positive compared to only 21.7% were negative.

For those who are interested, I ran the numbers for all the months and found that there were 1,006 months, of which 383 were negative months (38.1%) and 623 (61.9%) were positive.

Just a little trivia for your Thursday…

*The S&P 500 was known as the S&P 90 prior to February 1957.

S&P 500 Index 2009

As of yesterday’s close, the S&P 500 Index’s total return for October is -1.26%. If that number holds through tomorrow, it will break the seven-month streak of positive returns for the index.

Why was October a down month?

I can think of a few reasons:

1. Profit-taking. It seems to happen after we have a massive runup in stocks, like we saw from March through September when the index was up nearly 46%.

2. Investors might be wondering how much further up the market can go considering the current economic conditions. Unemployment is still up and is still trending up. It’s hard to have a recovery with legs if unemployment is high.

3. Consumer spending is down, which puts pressure on GDP since 71% of our GDP comes from consumer spending. People are still paying off debt. Those dollars going towards debt aren’t going towards spending.

I don’t know about you but I have been scratching my head, wondering why the market was marching back up as quickly as it did.

First off, I thought today was Tuesday…

Second, I’d like to wish my wife’s cousin, Stacey, a happy 19th birthday. She and her older sister were flower girls our wedding. She wasn’t even 3-years old back then. Wow…time flies.

1. We start off with an interesting story I read about how rich New Yorkers are leaving the area to escape taxes. We can debate forever on whether the rich are paying enough taxes or not but I can tell you that if taxation becomes to burdensome, they’ll pack up and leave.

2. MoneyWatch has the 12 Dumbest 401(k) mistakes to avoid.

3. MightyBargainHunter says that the only thing you can count on in this economy is that you can’t count on anything. Thoroughly confused? Read his post and he’ll explain it.

4. Jonathan has a nice primer on bonds.

5. While we’re on the basics, Jeremy has mutual funds fees for beginners.

6. Ron asks a good question: Is there no such thing as good debt? Maybe there’s not good debt but I do think that some debt is better than other debt.

7. Now for a little controversy: Dave Ramsey gets kickbacks from investment brokers… The article is a little old, but I thought it was worth sharing. (Thanks, Dylan!)

8. Allan Roth with What Wall Street Doesn’t Want You to Know About Retirment Planning, which is a review of a book I’m currently reading.

9. Donna Freedman with 12 Healthy Foods for a $1 or less.

10. Lastly, here’s Brian Tracy with some advice on building self-confidence. Part 1 and Part 2.

Next week I’ll try to post “Ten for Tuesday” on TUESDAY!

I upgraded from my BlackBerry Curve 8310 to a BlackBerry Bold 9000 last week. My first impression of the Bold:


I had been debating with myself as to which phone I was going to get next. I had narrowed my choice down to either a BlackBerry or an iPhone. My wife got an iPhone 3Gs during the summer and I played around with it enough to know that I didn’t want one for myself. My wife loves her iPhone but I don’t like typing on a flat screen and don’t think I would ever get used to it.

So, I knew I was going to get a BlackBerry—I just didn’t know which one. The Bold at $300 seemed expensive so that was a knock against it. The Curve 8900 was interesting but I didn’t like the new, smaller keyboard. The keys felt too close together.

I was undecided until AT&T started offering $100 rebate on the Bold. Of course, when companies start offering rebates it’s because they are trying to clear out inventory for something new. In this case, it’s the Bold 9700. The only difference that matters to me between the Bold 9000 & 9700 is the improved camera on the 9700, which goes from a 2.0 megapixel to a 3.2 megapixel. But, I can live with the camera on the 9000.

The Bold feels like a better quality phone than the Curve. It is a bit bigger than the Curve, which is something I thought would bother me but so far I haven’t noticed much. I LOVE the Bold’s keyboard. The keys are sized right for my thumbs and the keyboard has a nice feel to it. The Curve 8310 had a clicky feel whereas the Bold has a softer feel.

The internet browser on the Bold is much better than the Curve’s (though still not nearly as good as the iPhone’s Safari browser). Yes, it’s still a cellphone browser, but it is a lot faster and easier to use then the browser I used on the Curve. The Bold is a 3G phone and offers wi-fi. The Curve was on the Edge platform and did not have wi-fi.

The Bold’s contacts feature is nice because it adds both the birthday and anniversary field—something the Curve didn’t offer.

The texting feature is improved in that when I go to start a new text, there is a “to:” field where I can begin typing the recipient’s name. The curve used to make me go to the contacts and type in the name in order to start a new text message. The Bold also separates text messages from emails, which is different. I’m not sure if I can change the settings so that all messages go to the same folder. I don’t mind them being separated.

The ONLY thing that I don’t like about the Bold is the fact the closure on the belt holster covers up the indicator light, which means I have to lift the holster cover in order to see if the light is blinking. Not a big deal but it is an inconvenience.

Bottom Line…

If you like the Curve, you’ll LOVE the Bold.

Jeremy at Gen X Finance posted this on his facebook page and I thought I’d share it with you. It’s Jay Leno talking with people about finance:

My question is:

Are people REALLY this dumb or are they just trying to get on the Jay Leno Show?

This is kind of funny…

The other day, I picked up a box of Kellogg’s Cinnabon Bars. I know they aren’t good for me but they looked interesting so I thought I’d give them a try.

When I opened the box, I noticed that the bars seemed to be really small compared to the size of the box that housed them. Then, I was even more surprised to find just how small the bar actually was. I took a picture so you can see for yourself:

Kellogg's Cinnabon

Okay, I’m sure it’s expensive to make different size boxes for different products but I have to say that this just seems deceptive to me. I mean, why use such a big box and wrapper for such a small product?

These product downsizings are starting to get ridiculous and sneaky. Needless to say, I won’t be buying this product again (it didn’t even taste that good).