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Chart of the Weekend: The S&P 500 Total Return Index YTD

By JLP | July 11, 2015

As you can tell from the following chart, the S&P 500 Index has not had a very good 2015. Through yesterday’s close, the S&P 500 Total Return Index (includes dividends) is up 1.95% YTD.

SandP 500 YTD 07-10-2015

The trendline is not very steep.

It will be interesting to see what the rest of 2015 has in store. I’m not expecting much. At this point, I don’t really care. We’re still saving for retirement and up markets at this point, don’t help us much.

Topics: Investing, S&P 500 Index | No Comments »

WSJ Weekend Interview with Arthur Brooks

By JLP | July 11, 2015

I discovered Arthur Brooks back when he came out with his book, “Who Really Cares?” His latest book, The Conservative Heart: How to Build a Fairer, Happier, and More Prosperous America*,
will be out next week. It looks like an interesting read.

Mr. Brooks was interviewed in this week’s WSJ. I liked what he had to say. Here are a couple of quotes for those of you who are not WSJ subscribers:

When he was a child, Mr. Brooks notes, one of four people lived on less than a dollar a day. Today, though we still have far to go, the advance of trade and a globalized economy has shrunk that figure to one of 20.

The liberation of hundreds of millions from desperate poverty ranks among the greatest success stories in history. But it’s a story that remains largely untold and mostly unheralded. In his new book, “The Conservative Heart,” Mr. Brooks puts it this way: “Capitalism has saved a couple of billion people and we have treated this miracle like a state secret.”

AEI aims to change that. “We should be shouting it from the rooftops,” he says. “If Beethoven were alive today, he would dedicate the ‘Ode to Joy’ to this miracle. In the very first verse of that poem—which inspired Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony—we hear, ‘Beggars become Princes’ brothers’! If this is so, it is because of free enterprise.”

Few today would deny the market’s success in literally producing the goods. For some, however, this is a paradox. It’s a paradox because, in this way of thinking, socialism has the higher ideals but fails in practice, while capitalism succeeds in practice even though it is based on greed.

Mr. Brooks believes these critics are limited by materialistic assumptions about wealth and its production. Capitalism, he insists, succeeds not because it is based on greed, but because the freedom to trade and do business with others is in harmony with our God-given nature. So he has no patience for those who fear the moral argument.

I wish we could get back to a country that emphasizes education and concentrates on teaching people HOW to succeed instead of constantly telling them that they can’t succeed without the government’s (the taxpayers) help. The pessimism is rampant, thanks to social media. Flip through a Flipboard magazine on the topic of Capitalism or Income and you’ll see what I mean.

*Affiliate link

Topics: Economics, Politics | No Comments »

What Bradley Owed

By JLP | June 18, 2015

I read this story earlier this morning.

There was once a boy named Bradley. When he was about eight years old, he fell into the habit of thinking of everything in terms of money. He wanted to know the price of everything he saw, and if it didn’t cost a great deal, it did not seem to him to be worth anything at all.

But there are a great many things money cannot buy. And some of them are the best things in the world.

One morning when Bradley came down to breakfast, he put a little piece of paper, neatly folded, on his mother’s plate. his mother opened it, and she could hardly believe it, but this is what her son had written:

What Bradley Owed (1 of 2)

His mother smiled when she read that, but she did not say anything.

When lunchtime came she put the bill on Bradley’s plate along with eight dollars. Bradley’s eyes lit up when he saw the money. He stuffed it into his pocket as fast as he could and started dreaming about what he would buy with his reward.

All at once he saw there was another piece of paper besides his plate, neatly folded, just like the first one. When he opened it up, he found it was a bill from his mother. It read:

What Bradley Owed (2 of 2)

Bradley sat looking at this new bill, without saying a word. After a few minutes he got up, pulled the eight dollars out of his pocket, and placed them in his mother’s hand.

And after that, he helped his mother for love.

Source: The Moral Compass: Stories for a Life’s Journey (affiliate link) by William Bennett, pgs. 22-23

Topics: Books, Kids and Money | No Comments »

Larry Winget’s Advice for College Graduates

By JLP | May 20, 2015

Good, practical advice from Mr. Winget. Please share.

Topics: Best Advice | 1 Comment »

Ibbotson SBBI 2015 Classic Yearbook

By JLP | May 18, 2015

I sprang for an updated Ibbotson SBBI Classic Yearbook this year. My last edition was from 2007. At a $180 (plus tax and shipping), the book is hardly cheap.

I placed my order in March. The book was supposed to ship in mid-April (it used to ship in March).

April came and went. No book.

I called to find out what was up and was told that there was an error and that they were sending out the books as soon as they were ready.

I finally received my copy last week. Last night, while looking at it, I noticed that Table C-1 and C-2 in Appendix C contain the same data.

I called Morningstar this morning and was told that they were aware of the mistake and that they were printing up a PDF to send out. This will be the second PDF because the book already came with a PDF correction for page 109. This “solution” didn’t make me happy. I told the woman it was unacceptable and that Morningstar should send out replacement books. She said that wouldn’t happen because the books are expensive to print.

It would be nice if companies would stand behind their products.

Topics: Books | No Comments »

Solving 6/2(1+2) Once and For All

By JLP | May 18, 2015

I cannot believe that we have finally reached the point where math has become opinion.

I saw this math problem on facebook this morning and was surprised to find two different answers:

6 ÷ 2(1 + 2) = ?

Lots of people say the correct answer is 9. They would be wrong.

The correct answer is 1. Here’s why:

Math Problem Solution Explained

Since both expressions are the same, the only answer is 1.

BTW, Google needs to fix its algorithm.

STOP THE INSANITY!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Topics: Miscellaneous | 8 Comments »

I Am Addicted to Audible

By JLP | May 12, 2015

I have been an Audible member for a couple of years now. I used sporadically for the first year and a half. Once we moved and got settled into our new house, I really started using the program during the time when I had to drive my kids to school (17 miles one way). Let me tell you: it’s addictive! Once we got our son a truck to drive to and from school, I cut back on my listening time, but still use it on my morning walks.

According to the app on my iPhone, I am 132 hours away from becoming an Audible Master.

“What is a Master,” you ask? It’s someone who has listened to LOTS OF HOURS of Audible:

5 Hours – Newbie
50 Hours – Novice
100 Hours – Professional
300 Hours – Scholar
500 Hours – Master

The numbers in that list are hard to find. I googled them and couldn’t find anything definitive, so I emailed Audible and they were kind enough to email me the information.

Audible is awesome. Through the app, I have been able to listen to a lot of books. Here is what I have been through so far (I don’t “read” fiction):

“How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life” by Russ Roberts
“The Art of War” by Sun Tzu
“Economics in One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt
“New Deal or Raw Deal” by Burton Folsom
“Think Like a Freak” by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner
“The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield
“The Magic Ladder to Success” by Napoleon Hill
“The 48 Laws of Power” (abridged) by Robert Greene
“The Power of Ambition” by Jim Rohn
“The Practicing Mind” by Thomas Sterner
“The Five Elements of Effective Thinking” by Edward Burger and Michael Starbird
“Influence: Science and Practice” by Robert Cialdini
“The Virgin Way” by Richard Branson
“Knowledge and Power: The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing Our World” by George Gilder
“Zero to One” by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters
“Leaders Eat Last” by Simon Sinek
“Jack: Straight from the Gut” by Jack Welch with John Byrne
“The Little Gold Book of YES!” by Jeffrey Gitomer
“Be a People Person” by John Maxwell
“Mastery” by Robert Greene
“As a Man Thinketh” by James Allen
“The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business” by Josh Kaufman
“The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” by John Maxwell
“The Difference Maker” by John Maxwell
“How to Stop Worrying and Start Living” by Dale Carnegie
“Silos, Politics, and Turf Wars” by Patrick Lencioni
“Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell
“The Love Dare for Parents” by Stephen Kendrick, Alex Kendrick, and Lawrence Kimbrough
“Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.” by Ron Chernow
“Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas
“The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg
“The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry” by Brad Miner

One cool thing cool is some of Audible books are linked to the Kindle version of the book, which allows the reader to switch back and forth between the Audible and Kindle version of the book without losing the place. The technology is called “whispersync for voice” and it is pretty cool. Also, a lot of times the Audible version can be added to the Kindle purchase for a reduced price.

A basic Audible account is $14.99 per month, which allows for one download per month. There are other account options available.

The only downside to Audible is now I have less time to listen to music.

Topics: Books | No Comments »

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