Category Archives: Money Money Money

Black Swans, Nuclear Disasters and Your Portfolio

by Mike


No, I’m not talking about Natalie Portman and her baby bump.

I’m talking about a very interesting idea of how humans think about (or, more to the point, don’t think about) huge, life-altering but infrequent occurrences that are typically outside everyone’s expectations.

The phrase originates from the Roman poet Juvenal who lived in the late 1st and early 2nd century BCE, who wrote:  “rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno,” which loosely translated means “a rare bird is in the lands, and very like a black swan.”  Because no English person had ever seen a black swan, the saying gained currency in 16th century London as a statement about impossibility, until black swans were discovered in 1696 in Western Australia.

The concept was re popularized in 2007 by the author  Nassim Nicholas Taleb in his book, The Black Swan.  Taleb argues that huge, life-changing phenomena like World War I, personal computers ,the  Internet, and 9/11 are black swan events.   Continue reading

A Victim Of Your Own Success

by Mike

An artist trying to repeat his own success again and again: does Wong Kar Wai make the same movie every time until no one cares?

There seems to be a principle in the universe that uniquely drives people to failure based on previous success.  I’ve seen it time and time again.  Someone is successful, but then in repeating or attempting to repeat that success, ends up at a place of catastrophic failure.   Allow me to share some examples.

We’ve all seen someone in the creative realm—be it a film director, musician, writer, painter or other artist—who has some spectacular breakout success.  The world applauds loudly, and the artist is showered with recognition and sometimes even money.  This is a very heady thing for an artist, especially for anyone who has labored in obscurity and poverty for a long time until they arrive at the breakout that seems to perfectly capture the spirit of the times and deliver a unique piece of art and/or entertainment.   Continue reading

My Favorite Free Things

by Mike

Not only is “FREE” the most powerful word in marketing, it’s also a way to stretch your dollars while saving time and money so that you can focus on the really important things in life.

Here are some of my favorite free things:

Financial Tracking Software.  At – set up your checking, saving, credit card and investment accounts and you can watch your spending, check your budget, and set up financial goals – all FREE! Continue reading

How To Make a Half Million Dollars

by Mike

This post was originally titled “Compound Interest and Delayed Gratification,” but my marketing brain quickly realized that “How To Make a Half Million Dollars” would grab your attention much better.  Did it work?

Compound interest and delayed gratification?  What in the world?  Aren’t queers famous for their joie de vivre, their focus on enjoying the present?  For flocking like moths to a flame to stories about Lady Gaga’s new video and eschewing boring finance stuff?    This sounds like two topics designed to cure insomnia.  And what in the world do they have to do with each other, and more importantly to you?  When combined these two concepts can make you rich. Continue reading

Ready for Inflation?

by Mike

I’ve covered two linchpins of personal financial planning in previous posts: knowing your net worth in “You Need Your F*@k You Money ” and the importance of understanding and controlling your spending in “Follow the Money!”  Today I’d like to turn to a macroeconomic issue that I believe we’ll all need to factor into our own personal planning soon – Inflation.

I have so far been proven wrong in my expectation of an imminent return of high inflation to the US economy.  I remain convinced, however, that inflation is destined to return to the economy relatively soon, and we all need to factor that in to our financial planning.

Let’s cover the reasons I think a return to high inflation is inevitable:

  1. War.  We refused to pay for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Instead of paying for the wars through austerity and raising taxes (as we did in World War II) we instead lowered taxes, especially on the wealthy and financed the wars through debt (as we did for the Vietnam War).  History shows that expensive wars financed by debt result in high inflation. Continue reading

Follow the Money!

by Mike

Who said “Follow the Money” first?  Deep Throat.  That was the code name for the Watergate informant about wrongdoing by the Nixon whitehouse that eventually led to the resignation of the President, and who was first made famous in the 1974  book “All The President’s Men,”  by journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and was later played by Hal Holbrook in the 1976 film of the same name.  It was most decidedly NOT said in the Linda Lovelace porn film of the same name, or in efforts to have Courtney Love and later Lindsay Lohan depict Linda Lovelace on film which were scuttled due to the actresses well documented struggles with substance abuse.  (Extra Credit:  Deep Throat was revealed to be William Mark Felt Sr., former Associate Director of the FBI, in the July 2005 issue of Vanity Fair.)  But I digress.

But I’m not talking about Watergate.  I’m talking about you, and your path to financial wellness.  In the earlier post “You Need Your F*@k You Money!” we went over a simple way to calculate your Net Worth.  If you haven’t done that yet, please jet over there and work through that exercise.  Now we have to do the next step in getting an accurate read of your financial situation:  where you are spending your money and how that compares to your income. Continue reading

You Need Your “F*@k You” Money

by Mike

You’re going about your life, throwing your fabulousness all over the place.  But are your finances where you want them to be?  Are you in love with your job?  Confident that you are financially secure for the next downturn? Invest just a few minutes with me here to take financial stock.

In business school my section’s faculty adviser had one piece of advice on our last day of class.  “Always have your ‘f*@k you’ money.”  Continue reading