Jan 6 2012

Poor People Deserve Personal Liberty Too!

By |January 6th, 2012|Blog, Economics / Politics|24 Comments|

How much is too much?

If we’re talking about St. Louis style pizza, then you can never have enough. But as much as I’d love to talk about that, I’m going to address a different topic.

I read a post on Rambling Fever Money and it addresses one writer’s view on the government’s role in welfare and welfare recipients’ rights. I will let you read the article in its entirety and then I’ll give you my take on it.

This was supposedly in the Waco Herald Tribune on Nov 18th, 2010 but I couldn’t find a link to the original article. If anyone has a link to the original source, please let me know so I can give credit where it is due.

Put me in charge…

Put me in charge of food stamps. I’d get rid of Lone Star cards; no cash for Ding Dongs or Ho Ho’s, just money for 50-pound bags of rice and beans, blocks of cheese and all the powdered milk you can haul away. If you want steak and frozen pizza, then get a job.

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I’d do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal ligations. Then, we’ll test recipients for drugs, alcohol, and nicotine and document all tattoos and piercings. If you want to reproduce or use drugs, alcohol, smoke or get tats and piercings, then get a job.

Put me in charge of government housing. Ever live in a military barracks?

You will maintain our property in a clean and good state of repair. Your “home” will be subject to inspections anytime and possessions will be inventoried. If you want a plasma TV or Xbox 360, then get a job and your own place.

In addition, you will either present a check stub from a job each week or you will report to a “government” job. It may be cleaning the roadways of trash, painting and repairing public housing, whatever we find for you. We will sell your 22 inch rims and low profile tires and your blasting stereo and speakers and put that money toward the “common good..”

Before you write that I’ve violated someone’s rights, realize that all of the above is voluntary. If you want our money, accept our rules.. Before you say that this would be “demeaning” and ruin their “self esteem,” consider that it wasn’t that long ago that taking someone else’s money for doing absolutely nothing was demeaning and lowered self esteem.

If we are expected to pay for other people’s mistakes we should at least attempt to make them learn from their bad choices. The current system rewards them for continuing to make bad choices.

AND While you are on Gov’t subsistence, you no longer can VOTE! Yes that is correct. For you to vote would be a conflict of interest. You will voluntarily remove yourself from voting while you are receiving a Gov’t welfare check. If you want to vote, then get a job.

Now, if you have the guts – PASS IT ON…

No One Has a Right to Luxury

I’m all for restricting food stamps to just basic foods like rice, beans, milk, potatoes, veggies, fruits, bread, etc. Like the poster says, if you want fancy schmancy foods, get a job and buy them with your hard earned money. Eventually I’d like the see the government get out of the business of feeding people and leave it to the states and/or private charity.

If you want the government to give you money in the form of welfare, I completely agree that you have to work for it if you are able to do so. Either produce a paycheck stub showing at least 20 hours a week or the government can find you a job doing something. We shouldn’t be taking money from hard working taxpayers and giving it to people who are able to work but choose not to.

I see the writer’s point that our current system rewards people for making bad choices. We need to be stricter on who gets money, how much, and for what reason. In my ideal world all this aid would be provided by private charities and state government, but to make federal government assistance crappy is a good step in the right direction of ending it entirely.

I love the idea of drug testing welfare recipients because using illegal drugs is, well, illegal (whether it should be or not is another matter to discuss later). If you are currently engaging in criminal activity, I don’t think you should get taxpayer assistance for food, shelter and clothing.

But when you start restricting people from getting a tattoo, having kids, voting, or doing anything else that is legal just because they are poor and accepting aid is dangerous and disgusting.

Poor Citizens Need Rights Protected, Not Rescinded

There is a difference between a right to eat frozen pizza and a right to vote. No one has a RIGHT to pizza. Everyone (who is a law abiding citizen) deserves a right to vote.

poverty

photo credit: flickr.com/proimos

What if the government is oppressing people, manipulating the economy and making everyone poor; thus making it necessary for most people to accept aid? How would the poor majority ever get the corrupt politicians out of office without the ability to vote? This policy would very quickly turn our representative republic into a totalitarian state.

And what about babies? In the scenario described by the author, every person on government aid would either have a job in the private sector or be doing work for the government. I don’t want to live in a place where the government says a working person can’t have a baby because they are too poor. That’s eugenics at its finest, and it’s disgusting.

I want to be completely clear. The government can stop giving benefits, but someone who obeys the law should never be stripped of personal liberty under any socioeconomic circumstance. Never!

Government Should Never Infringe on Liberty of Law Abiding Citizens

A free person has the right to vote for his or her elected officials and the right to reproduce. A government that can take those rights away from law abiding citizens (even if it is “voluntary” on behalf of the citizens) is a government worth revolting against. Economic freedom cannot be achieved by stripping people of their social freedoms.

The only solution is one where people have unalienable economic and social freedom.

Jan 5 2012

It’s Time to Stop Being Fat Kevin

By |January 5th, 2012|Blog, Life|23 Comments|

I am Fat Kevin.

Okay, maybe fat isn’t the right word. I’m just not in shape like I used to be. My clothes still fit and everything, but I just need to, you know, tighten up a bit.

I used to take off my shirt and look in the mirror before hopping in the shower with a thought such as “Now THAT is a fine looking man right there!” Today, it’s more of a “That guy looks like he might have been an athlete back in the day.”

I’m 26, not 56. I can’t be out of shape yet. And even though Tag is super sexy, she wants to tighten up a little too.

So just like 114% of all Americans, we have decided to get in shape for the new year.

How? I just ordered P90x.

90 Days From Being Good Looking

fat face entrance

photo credit: flickr.com/markhillary/

If you’ve never heard of P90x, it’s a DVD workout program that you do at home with just a pull up bar, some resistance bands, and your body. There are 12 different 1-hour workouts, and the program tells you which workouts to do on which day.

You are supposed to do one workout every day for 90 days, and then you’ll be a beefcake. It even tells you what to eat and everything. You have to give a full 90 day commitment to this program.

Tag and I are all in.

Let’s pretend I live until I’m 86 years old. That means I can either decide to live the next 60 years of my life not feeling great about my body, or I can kick my own ass for 90 days of intense training and then just work hard enough to maintain it for the rest of the time.

90 days is 0.4% of the rest of my life, which should make the next 99.6% happier. Worth it? You bet your sweet patootie.

$250 From Being Good Looking

Of course P90x isn’t free. In fact, when you count the DVDs and the two sets of doorway pullup bars and resistance bands I bought for Tag and I, it cost me just over $250. That’s a pretty significant investment. But I consider it a smart investment because:

  • It’s a one time expense for what could amount to a lifetime of working out
  • The program has a good track record of being successful
  • 30 day money back guarantee if I don’t like it
  • It’s a big enough investment that I am motivated to finish the program

If I bought some stupid DVD program for $15 and I didn’t like it, I’d probably quit. I have $250 in this thing. I have to go the distance and make sure it works.

90 Days of Motivation

If there’s one reason why I know I’m gonna stick with this program, it’s because it seems like everyone around me is getting in shape. My step dad has lost over 100 pounds in the last six months. The Hoff has gotten in great shape over the last year or so. My blogging buddy Travis Pizel has gotten in great shape this year.

I’m gonna do it.

And the best part is that Tag and I will do this together. There’s nothing better for working out than doing it with a partner. She’s committed, and she’s gonna help me when I don’t feel like doing it one day. And if she doesn’t feel like doing it one day, I’ll agree and we’ll go eat 3 pounds of frozen yogurt (It’s a good thing she’s more committed than I am).

So basically, 90 days from now I might abandon this blog to pursue a career in male modeling. More realistically though, you can look for an updated logo with a better looking Kevin McKee at the top of the page coming in the next few months.

What about you? Are you one of those people who made a resolution to get in shape this year? If so, what are you doing to make it happen?

Jan 4 2012

Do the “Experts” Know Anything about Picking Stocks?

By |January 4th, 2012|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|8 Comments|

I’ve been investing in the stock market for over four years now, and at times it’s been downright ugly.

The only investing strategy that makes sense to me is buy and hold. Short term investing, even for just one year, seems like a complete crap shoot to me.

wall street

photo credit: flickr.com/epicharmus/

And since I’m not someone who likes to just wildly throw around predictions without data to support it, I’ve decided to track stock market gains in 2012 with a variety of different types of stock investments. At the end of 2012, we will be able to see if picking stocks really requires any skill.

Every month in 2012, I am going to track the following nine investment strategies and see which one provides the best return on investment. I will also track by the three overall groups. Feel free to weigh in on which of these investment strategies and groups will end up being best on Dec 31st, 2012.

Disclaimer: This is not a recommendation to invest in any of the following securities. In fact, I strongly recommend you DON’T invest in some of them. This article and all articles to follow in this series are for entertainment purposes only.

Picking stocks is not for the inexperienced or uneducated, as it follows more of a scientific approach than a luck-centric one.  An online masters in finance is a great start for someone interested in learning more about stocks and how to make a living working with them

The Experts

We have the general market, a mutual fund by a large financial firm, and stock picks from expert financial analysts. In theory, these should be the top performing stocks of the bunch.

S&P 500

View Stocks Here: S&P 500 Companies (.INX)
Why This Might Work: If you want a diversified group of large American companies that pretty much tracks the market in general, this is it.
Why it Might Not: If you think America is heading into another recession or even a depression, you probably don’t want this.

Vanguard Mutual Fund

View Stocks Here: Vanguard Information Technology Information Fund (VITAX)
Why This Might Work: The Street is a big financial website, and they recommend this fund as the best Vanguard fund for 2012. This is exceptionally smart people recommending a mutual fund managed by other exceptionally smart people.
Why it Might Not: If you think these exceptionally smart people aren’t as smart as they say they are.

The “Experts”

View Stocks Here: Forbes Experts Picks including CAT, FDX, HSY, COF, MAKO, MSFT, ARCO, TKC, AA, STD
Why This Might Work: If you think people with advanced degrees in finance/economics and years of experience reporting on financial markets can predict the future.
Why it Might Not: Maybe these people can’t predict the future any more than you can.

The Amateurs

Maybe you are a conspiracy theorist and you think the “experts” are corrupt. You want some good old friendly advice from your local blog authors and friends. Well, here are some options:

Personal Finance Bloggers

View Stocks Here: Money Pros Index
Why This Might Work: If you believe that personal finance bloggers (yours truly and six others) actually know anything about picking stocks.
Why it Might Not: If you think the other personal finance bloggers are as bad at picking stocks as I am.

The Hoff

View Stocks Here: 12 Stock Picks for 2012
Why This Might Work: If you think my friend The Hoff knows what he is talking about.
Why it Might Not: If you look at the return on his 2011 stock picks. Yeesh!

Tag

View Stocks Here: How to Invest When You’re Clueless
Why This Might Work: My girlfriend Tag invested in a lot of ETFs that track different indexes. Her goal was to mirror the market, but also get some exposure to emerging markets and other more specific investments.
Why it Might Not: I helped her pick the investments.

So Risky It’s Ridiculous

The following stocks range from high risk/high reward to just plain stupid. This is a good time for me to remind you that this is not a recommendation to invest. This is for entertainment purposes only.

Biggest Losers in 2011

View Stocks Here: FSLR, ANF, NFLX, AIG, BAC, CVC, X, SHLD, CSC, GNW
Why This Might Work: These were the 10 worst performing companies in the S&P 500 in 2011. Maybe that means they are undervalued and ready to spring back in 2012.
Why it Might Not: Maybe there’s a good reason all these stocks lost at least 50% of their value last year. While these are very large companies, any one of them could go bankrupt at any moment.

Highest Dividend Yield

View Stocks Here: CPY, TNK, AGNC, IVR, AINV, CIM, SFL, CEL, RSO, VOC
Why This Might Work: These are the top 10 companies with the highest dividend yields as of Dec 27, 2011. If these companies pay out dividends like they did last year, it will be the highest dividend yield possible! This is an incredibly risky group of stocks, including four REITs.
Why it Might Not: REITs are inherently pretty risky, and some of the stocks here are doing so poorly that they might suspend their dividend and/or end up bankrupt.

10 Random Stocks

View Stocks Here: WEC, WEN, WERN, WEYS, WFC, WFD, WFM, WFR, WFSL, WG
Why This Might Work: I randomly picked a page off the Russell 3000 companies list and took the first 10 companies on the page. If you think the market is just a random crap shoot, then this is as good as anything else.
Why it Might Not: Maybe picking stocks takes more than just dumb luck.

Who’s Winning?

Of course we have to track performance and see who ends up with the best gain in 2012. Here’s the chart (which should update in real time) that shows which group of stocks is performing best.

The stocks are measured against their closing price on December 30th, 2011. The final score will be tallied on the last trading day of 2012 to determine the winner.

I’ll be doing a post monthly-ish to update the progress on everything and determine the most effective way to invest in 2012.

Who do you think is going to win?

Jan 3 2012

12 Stock Picks for 2012

By |January 3rd, 2012|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|10 Comments|

The first lesson in investing is “only invest in things you know”.  Sometimes it is tempting not to follow this advice as the grass always seems greener on the other side.  This mistake usually doesn’t work in your favor, as you can see by my worst 2011 investment, which did not meet the criteria of “invest only in things you know”.

stocks

photo credit: flickr.com/thewalkingirony/

For my 2012 picks I’ve taken a different approach.  Why not invest in companies that are involved in my life events?

If I’m buying a new car, that usually means that I have done some research about the car industry as a whole, the product they sell, etc.  Therefore in 2012 if I make any major purchase (like buying a brand-new Ford Mustang GT) I will purchase some of the company’s stock (NYSE:F) along with it.

12 Stock Picks for 2012

January:  During the month of January I will be completing a refinance with Citibank (I’ll leave it to Kevin to discuss the topic of fixed vs. ARM mortgages).  Along with this refinance I will be purchasing some stock of Citigroup (NYSE:C)

February:  In February, I shall take my lovely Boo out to a fancy Valentine ’s Day steak dinner…well, actually a fancy fish dinner, but you get the point.  Since there is a beautiful Mitchell’s Fish Market near my house I will stop on by to pick up some shares of their parent corporation Ruth’s Hospitality Group (NASDAQ:RUTH)

March:  Time to remodel the bathroom.  Have you ever wondered why all houses in the US are made out of wood?  Is there a magical wood mine hidden away in the mountains where they mine wood ore and refine it into bathroom 2x4s?  Yes there is: Plum Creek Timber Company (NYSE:PCL)

April:  April marks the one year anniversary of the Asus Transformer and hopefully the release date of the Asus Transformer Optimus Prime which I can then purchase to upset Kevin.  Where would I purchase such a monstrosity?  From my favorite online retailer, Amazon of course (NASDAQ:AMZN)

May:  The month of May sounds like a great time for a bachelor party…in Vegas (Kevin’s note: I hope he has a prenup by now).  Since the hangover destination of choice (Caesar’s palace) is private, I’ll take a gamble on the next best Casino company in Las Vegas Sands (NYSE:LVS)

June:  Of all the wedding related events, setting up the gift registry is the one I’m looking forward to the most. Also, I’m expecting something huge from my good friend Kevin, maybe from Bed Bath and Beyond (NASDAQ:BBBY)

July:  The birthday of this great country should only be celebrated with beer out of a can with an American flag on it. There’s no more patriotic drink than something from Anheuser-Busch InBev (NYSE:BUD)

August:  Like any good last minute shopper, August will be the time to buy “my precious” (that’s a wedding band for non-LOTR nerds). Thanks for digging it out of the ground New Gold (NYSE:NGD)

September:  A wedding is really just an excuse to overspend on a vacation that you could typically never rationalize spending money on, and that’s exactly what we are doing.  You are welcome Marriott (NYSE:MAR)

October:  “How much did the cake cost!!!”  I hope Pizza Hut still has that $5 pizza deal, otherwise it looks like we are eating leftover wedding cake for the month. I’ll be eating a lot of meals from Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, KFC, and other restaurants from Yum Foods (NYSE:YUM)

November:  Flu season…time to get my flu shot.  “Excuse me nurse, who makes make this delicious concoction that you are injecting into my arm every year?”  Of course, GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK)

December:  December 21, 2012 decidedly marks the end of the world.  In order to outrun those zombie hordes (or heat my aluminum foil lined basement) I will be stocking up on some gasoline from my local gas station; British Petroleum (NYSE:BP)

Invest in What You Know

This investment approach of buying stock in companies where you buy products has several advantages and disadvantages.

The biggest advantage is that if the company has a product/service that you would buy, chances are that many other people are buying it as well.  Therefore the company is here to stay and reap profits for at least a little while.

The biggest disadvantage is that most of your daily purchases likely involve big conglomerates which are often too large and diversified to create the returns that will enable early retirement.

However, if you are looking for a slow and steady returns and want to pick your own stocks (without looking through too many detailed financial statements) this seems to be as good a strategy as any.

Important to note that ALL ideas, thoughts, and/or forecasts expressed or implied herein are for informational and entertainment purposes only and should NOT be construed as a recommendation to invest, trade, or speculate in the markets.

Dec 28 2011

Cash in on Unwanted Gift Cards

By |December 28th, 2011|Blog, Personal Finance Tips|9 Comments|

A gift card is an easy way to get someone a Christmas present. You don’t know the person well enough to know exactly what they would want, but you think you know them well enough to at least pick a store they would like.

Well, if you’re as dumb as me then you can even get that wrong. How was I supposed to know Claire’s jewelry is only for 10-year olds!?

If you have a gift card right now that you wish was cash, there are a few things you can do to fix the situation.

Buy Gift Cards with your Gift Cards

I learned this trick from cashing in credit card rewards. I really wanted Amazon.com gift cards, but my credit card company didn’t offer them. No problem.

I redeemed my points for Best Buy gift cards, and then went to Best Buy and bought Amazon gift cards with them. The cashier looked at me funny (and Tag was super embarrassed) but I didn’t care. I changed something I didn’t want for something I did want, and didn’t have to pay a premium for it.

Buy Presents with your Gift Cards

Maybe you don’t like shopping at Home Depot, but your girlfriend’s dad does. Just hold onto the gift card until his birthday or Father’s Day and use it to get him a new hammer or a bag of sand or whatever else you buy at Home Depot.

Again, this way you can get 100% value out of the card and still use it for something you’d purchase anyway.

Sell Your Unwanted Gift Card Online

If you really don’t want a gift card and you’d rather have cash, you can sell your gift card online.

Avatar Gift Card

photo credit: flickr.com/z0

A quick Google search found Gift Card Granny (not an affiliate link, just a site I think is cool) where you can find a place to sell your gift card to a random internet stranger. The problem with this method is that you’ll have to pay a premium.

For example, you might only be able to sell a $50 gift card for $45. It kinda sucks, but $45 in cash is much better than $50 of crap you don’t want from a store you don’t like.

And speaking of selling these gift cards…

Save Money by Buying Unwanted Gift Cards

I personally would never sell unwanted gift cards for less than face value because I think I can find something I want at that store. However, I’m more than happy to buy unwanted gift cards and save 5-20% on the face value.

I’ve never done it, but in the future I’ll use Gift Card Granny to find a place where I can buy discounted gift cards. If you know you’re going to spend $100 at bestbuy.com, you may as well see if you can buy $100 worth of gift cards for $95. That’s an easy 5% savings.

I’m a freaking internet shopping hacker. And now you can be too.

Dec 25 2011

Merry Christmas to All Thousandaires

By |December 25th, 2011|Blog, Life|3 Comments|

Merry Christmas to all Thousandaire readers!

The Kevin McKee Christmas

Last night I had dinner and Christmas with all of my mom’s family. Because I live 600 miles away from St. Louis, I really only get together with all of my mom’s family once a year at Christmas. It’s one of the best nights of the year for me.

sleeping santa

photo credit: flickr.com/drxeno

I woke up this morning and watched my niece open a bunch of Christmas presents from Santa (and none from me), and now I’m on the way to go spend time with more family. This is when I will exchange presents with all of my immediate family. I’m a crappy Christmas shopper so I hope nobody is expecting anything great from me!

Tonight I’ll go to my best friend’s house for some dinner and then we’ll see a movie. It’s pretty much the same Christmas every year, and I never get tired of it. The only thing that would make it better would be to have Tag here with me.

So that’s the annual Kevin McKee Christmas. Rinse and repeat next year and every year after that.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas if you celebrate it and happy “Everything in America is Closed Except Walgreens Day” if you don’t.

And to all of my readers/fans/stalkers/government spies monitoring this website for potential terrorism activity, I truly appreciate you coming here and reading what I have to say. It means so much to me that I can write something there is at least one other person who wants to read it. If you’re one of those people, you make me happier than I can express.

I’m on vacation from my real job all week, and I’ll definitely take a few days off from blogging as well. I’ll have a few new posts up this week, but don’t expect a full slate of stuff. In the meantime, I’ll be furiously writing songs and thinking about my 2012 goals in the hopes of making 2012 a much better and more musical year for Thousandaire.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!

Carnival Links

Carnival of Personal Finance at Young Adult Finance
Yakezie Carnival at My Personal Finance Journey
Carnival of Financial Camaraderie at My University Money
Totally Money at Invest It Wisely
Festival of Frugality at Help Me to Save
Canadian Finance Carnival at Canadian Finance Blog
Carnival of Wealth at Control Your Cash
Carnival of Financial Planning at Skilled Investor Blog