Category Archives: Financial

Will That Metal and Plastic Make you Happier? Really?

BMW Logo

Run around the block first. Look for a used vehicle. Is that BMW really going to make your life better? What will you be giving up to be driving a shiny hunk of metal and plastic that loses value every day of its existence?

Improve Your Finances By Modifying Your Behavior

Capital One Purchase of Ing Direct – Buyer Beware

One of my long time favorite “banking” institutions  over the years has been the Dutch bank Ing.  I have had a savings account with them for about 20 years.  More recently I have opened a checking and brokerage (Sharebuider)  accounts with them.    Always appreciated that you could call them and immediately reach a human being who had a good grasp of the English language and how their accounts operate.  This is so unlike so many big financial institutions these days and something I reward by refusing to maintain accounts with those entities that take their customers for granted.

With great trepidation I read recently that Ing Direct was acquired by Capital One Bank.  Unlike Ing, I have thought of Capital One as a predatory financial institution.  Their account offers in the past seem too often to have hidden fees with marketing pitches that turn out to be traps once they have a hold of your money or if you use their credit services.

Carefully Capital One will be watched to see if they mess up Ing.  Just read an email from Capital One that they are adding the ability to scan deposits to the Ing accounts.  That has the potential to be a great improvement and takes using Ing accounts to another level, not just to be used as a secondary account.  Getting money directly into their accounts has always been one of the drawbacks of Ing accounts requiring another account to deposit into before making online transfers.

Best of luck to  Capital One on their new acquisition.  Don’t mess up a good thing please.

Work, Evil and the “Rest” of It

Just received a 433 page continuing education course on Corporate Tax Planning that must be completed by May 28, 2011. I’ve gone and done it to myself again but… “Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.” Voltaire.

Or is it “No Rest for the Wicked” Ozzy Osbourne (strike that) Book of Isaiah. If I spread it out that is only 17 pages a day. But who works like that?

Here is the course outline:


Is the Economy Improving? Questions, questions and more questions

Although anecdotal, all of a sudden some of my clients in the construction industry have work again after at least a year of very hard times.  Perhaps we have rounded the corner?  I hope so.

One of the very frustrating aspects of this economic downturn is the huge heaps of uncertainty surrounding us.   For example:

  • The tax credits for home purchases keep getting extended after they expire.  So do I have to buy now or not to get the credit?  When these credits finally do expire, will the housing market go into another tailspin?
  • Huge healthcare overhaul legislation is passed but the brunt of the changes are still years away.  In the meantime, cost controls on premiums are non-existent.  What will be the ultimate effect of these changes on small business and individuals?  Will the legislation be repealed by the Republicans before ever going into effect?
  • Financial reform legislation is passed.  The big question though about the new regulations is how effective will the new consumer agency be?  Has the “to big to fail” problem really been fixed given that most pundits say the new law does not go far enough?
  • Has the oil spill in the Gulf really stopped and what is going to be the long-term effect of the spill on the region?   Will BP make good on all its promises to compensate the victims?  Is offshore drilling going to be restricted as a result of this disaster?
  • Are we going to leave Afghanistan next year or not?
  • Is the Iraq occupation going to be over or are we going to stay there for the next hundred years?
  • Will the Federal government get control of its budget?  In trying to do so, will the government kill off any possibility of future job growth?
  • Will Arizona successfully start enforcing immigration laws while other states follow their lead or will the Federal government get the law overturned?
  • Will the Bush tax cuts expire next year?  Will there be a tax increase on the middle class as a result?  Will the Federal estate tax be retroactively re-instituted for 2010 and be in effect in future years?  What will be the effect of increasing taxes on higher income individuals?

Markets hate uncertainty.  The only thing you can be sure of these days is that we are living in very uncertain times. And that is not good for the economy, that’s for sure.

S&P 500 Stocks with Yields above 5%

Noticed this chart over at Seeking Alpha.  As the article points out, there are no guarantees but for those seeking nice dividend stocks, this is a good place to look.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge