1. Kiyosaki’s Rich Global LLC To File BK

    Those of you who follow the travels and travails of Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki will be interested to see this:

    NY Post: “Rich Dad Poor Dad” Author Files BK

    So it appears that one thing Mr. Kiyosaki’s “rich dad” taught him was that corporate BK is a perfectly valid method for retaining and shielding one’s personal wealth. In the three Rich Dad books I read, Kiyosaki was quite insistent that creating businesses and setting up corporations was a must.

    Because hey, you never know when you’re gonna lose a lawsuit for a $24 million breach of contract.



  2. Amazon Prime, I Heart You

    I’m not much of a stock-watcher these days, but I’ve seen a great deal of chatter on the internet regarding Amazon’s latest quarterly report. Their stock (ticker: AMZN) blew out the roof upon announcement of Amazon’s apparently-fabulous earnings, and rose about 15 percent on Friday. Yay for AMZN longs, I guess, and “ouch” for AMZN shorts. (I am not a knowing holder of AMZN, though the funds my family owns may or may not own AMZN.)

    This gives me an opportunity to talk about not AMZN, the stock, but Amazon, the company. And it’s something Amazon-related which I think I’ve overlooked to this point:

    My household hearts Amazon Prime.

    I love Amazon Prime. My wife loves Amazon Prime. I would contend that the $79/year which Prime costs us is possibly the best $79 I spend each year, when looked at from a “No, really, I’m happy to spend it!” angle.

    It isn’t the availability of streaming movies which delights us, as we’re not big movie-watchers. And we haven’t taken advantage of the Kindle e-book borrowing services which Amazon recently unleashed. Yes, both of those services are fine and dandy. But for us, it’s all about the unlimited two-day shipping.

    Put simply: Short of groceries and clothing, there’s very little that I can’t find a better-than-anywhere-else price on when it’s on Amazon. And as long as it’s something we don’t need right now, you can bet Amazon will get our money.

    But But But Local and B&M Businesses Are Suffering!

    Does my buying of PC components, Elixir electric-guitar strings, and damn near all books on Amazon mean that my local, bricks-and-mortar retailers lose business and/or “suffer?”

    Absolutely it does.

    Do I really care?

    Most of the time, no.

    The way I see it, the local and bricks/mortar retailers could’ve targeted the internet shopper the way Amazon did, back in the day. But they elected not to do so. Amazon did what it did, and bricks/mortar did what it did. One team won, and one team lost.

    Take, for instance, Best Buy. Lisa and I used to really enjoy visiting Best Buy. And we bought a fair amount of stuff from them over the years. But these days, it’s my opinion that Best Buy is nothing more than Amazon’s showroom, and a sparse, poorly-employed one at that. Something tells me that I’m not alone in this view.

    Could I get strings and such for my Gibson Les Paul at a local music store? Sure I could. Would I pay roughly 40 percent more for them if I did this, rather than buy through Amazon? Yes. Yes I would. If I needed new strings right the heck now, then spending locally is what I’d do. Otherwise, no. Amazon gets our cash. And we get our stuff in a couple of days, tops.

    Amazon Prime: Our Selling Points

    Amazon Prime, how I love thee? Let me count the ways. Amazon Prime …

    1. Saves us gas money, as we don’t make special trips to buy this stuff. Nor do we have to drive around OKC or Dallas trying to find a retailer who has what we want in stock.
    2. Saves time, for same reasons as above.
    3. Saves headaches, as we don’t have to wait in line to buy what we need. (As a grumpy parent, I now officially hate standing in line to spend money.)
    4. Means no more worrying about holding small-dollar purchases in Amazon’s cart to eventually qualify for Super Saver shipping. If I want to order a $14 cable on Monday and have it Wednesday, with no extra shipping fees, Amazon Prime makes it happen.
    5. Means quicker access to Amazon’s vast product selection. And their buying/checkout/account-monitoring processes were already the best I’ve ever seen.
    6. Is only helped by Amazon’s great customer service, which, the few times I’ve needed it, has been stellar. This, plus Prime benefits, means I have no problem giving them even more of our business.
    7. Allows us to get next-day shipping for an additional $4 or $5 per item, when necessary. (Which isn’t often.)

    I could probably come up with a few more positives, but I think these pretty much cover it. As mentioned earlier, the moderate selection of free Amazon Instant Videos available to Prime members isn’t a big deal to us; rather, it’s just icing on the cake. (Though, I’ll admit, it is more appealing now that Amazon Instant Video is available to PS3 owners, which we are.)

    Anybody out there still “on the fence” with Amazon Prime?



  3. Debt-Free is Nice, But…

    A couple of weeks back, I spent some time thumping on How to Get What You Want in Life With the Money You Already Have, a book written by Carol Keeffe in the early 1990s. While not a literary prize by any stretch, the book deserves some credit: It did get me started in the world of personal-finance reading.

    One of Keeffe’s particularly egregious recommendations — and this is just kerfuffle waiting to happen — is for folks to make minimum payments on all their bills and credit cards until they’ve saved up six months’ worth of salary as an emergency fund. To me, such a plan would almost guarantee failure. How many folks do you know with the financial (and disciplinary) ability to pull that off?

    Not many, is my guess.

    I much prefer Dave Ramsey’s Baby Steps plan, and its suggestion to make “minimum payments only” until one saves $1,000 (or $500, if you’re a low-income household) … and THEN to attack the debts full-force and head-on.

    However, as I was finger-flipping through How to Get What You Want a little more, I managed to find a few paragraphs that stood out — in a good way! Actually, I found this to be quite insightful, and a bit Suze-Orman-esque:

    For most of us there are two things that would make a big difference in the quality of our lives: (1) having the deeply satisfying feeling of knowing we’re directing money toward making our dreams come true, and (2) having the secure feeling of knowing money is available for today’s emergencies as well as tomorrow’s needs.

    Well, I’m not so sure about the “making dreams come true” part, but I’ll vouch for the utter goodness of financial security. Having money available for emergencies changes everything. Life looks far different when you’re ready for the speedbumps and potholes.

    Keeffe continues:

    If you were thinking that eliminating a bill would make a significant difference in the quality of your life, watch out. It’s only a diversionary tactic of the mind. Of course things would be better if the bills were more under control or gone altogether. But eliminating a bill creates only a temporary feeling of relief compared with the deep and lasting feelings of power and security that money in hand creates. The availability of money means choices, and choices mean control. Lack of bills will never compare to the potency of having choices (money).

    You know what? I agree with this. One. Hundred. Percent.

    As a guy who’s made it through Step 3 of Ramsey’s Baby Steps (no debt except for the mortgage; fully-funded emergency fund is in place), I found that for me, while paying off that last debt felt great, hitting my savings mark felt even better.

    As Keeffe notes, “Eliminating a bill creates only a temporary feeling of relief, compared with the deep and lasting feelings of power and security that money in hand creates.” To this I say: AMEN.

    Debt-free is sweet, but there is no substitute for savings.

    But We Gotta Qualify This…

    As much as I love what Keeffe says here, she is still presenting it in the context of “You need to have a bunch of money saved BEFORE you begin seriously paying off your debts.” The logic of this baffles me entirely. While it sounds silly, I want to scream at her, “Hey! The longer your readers stay in debt, the less likely they’re ever going to get out of it!”

    Though of course I have no quantifiable evidence to support this, everything I’ve learned to date, and everything I’ve seen, points toward the assertion that the more you muddle through life, simply “living with” your bills and debts, the less likely you are to ever get out from under them. Let’s face it: Banks and other lending institutions endeavor to make it so.

    At some point the lack of progress, the years of frustration and stress — all of it accumulates into the deadly “This is just how everyone lives!” attitude.

    At which point, you’re sunk.



  4. Mundis and the 12-Steppers

    Way back when, in my review of Jerrold Mundis’ How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt, and Live Prosperously, I mentioned that I found it odd that Debtors Anonymous wanted no part of being connected with Mundis’ book. The book, in my opinion, is excellent, pushing me ahead many times when I was in the middle of paying off my household’s debts.

    This past week, reader Frances emailed with her ideas as to why the 12-steppers shy away from books which so obviously espouse their methods:

    Hi Michael,

    I ran across your site when Googling “Jerold Mundis.” And I’d like to take a moment to respond to your comments about DA’s disinterest in having their name associated with his book.

    It’s my understanding that 12-Step organizations have a tradition of having all program-approved literature be written and distributed “in-house.” This may have something to do with the tradition that members remain anonymous “at the level of press, radio and film.”

    It might also have something to do with the fact that 12-Step members have (as far as I know) a tradition of speaking of their their own experiences in first person (singular or plural), that advice not be given, and that even suggestions be offered only when specifically requested. Mundis’ book is written largely in the second person, and clearly seems (to me anyway) to be offering advice to readers. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. But it is something that I believe that12-Step members have found, at very best, not especially useful.

    So for several reasons it would probably be inappropriate for DA to endorse or associate their name with Mundis’s book. In some cases it might be appropriate for one member to suggest the book to another DA member, but with the increasing amount of DA approved literature being published this is probably happening less and less as time goes by.

    Please keep in mind that I am not a spokesperson for any 12-step program. I’m just one person, hoping to offer some possible (and possibly valid) reasons that DA has not sought to associate their name with this book.

    Best Regards,

    Makes sense to me, I suppose. Though I’ll admit I never lost much sleep over it — How to Get Out of Debt is quite strong enough to get by on its own content, thank you very much, without the need for additional pump-priming by any 12-step organization in particular.