Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Girls Just Want to Raise Funds

Girls Just Want to Raise Funds
Last week, my friends and I were drinking beers and discussing a thought-provoking blog post from Emily Capito, "Nonprofit Piety Won't Change the World," as one of my friends works for a local nonprofit. The post centers on the notion that there are separate sets of economic rules for the nonprofit sector and the for-profit sector. Take one example: it's a commonly held belief that in the for-profit sector, offering good compensation to your leadership and employees well help to attract and retain talent, and ultimately lead to better results for the organization. But try applying that logic to the non-profit sector, and people get upset that so many dollars are going toward overhead, instead of making their way to the people in need. Never mind the fact that higher compensation may draw better talent, who can raise more funds, or craft strategies that would have greater impacts for the recipients of that charity. Donors want to see those dollars going straight to those in need, not to the people working at a nonprofit.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Did Americans Really Overpay by $1B at Tax Time?

So I'm finding that watching commercials again isn't so bad, as I get to learn new things. For example, did you know that LL Cool J is hosting the Grammys this year? Which is awesome, as there's an outside chance we'll all get to see "Momma Said Knock You Out" on live television in 2014. This would be the highlight of my year. Also, I heard a statistic on a running commercial series that is so shocking that I don't want to believe it's true: H&R Block claims Americans overpaid by $1 billion in taxes last year. Apparently this is enough for a stack of five hundred dollars to be placed on every seat of every NFL stadium (one on each of 2 million seats in the thirty two professional football stadiums). Here is a video of the ad:

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Should We Pay Personal Capital to Advise Us?

Should We Pay Personal Capital to Advise Us?
Late last year, we signed up for Personal Capital's free software. Their dashboard provides a quick, holistic view of all our investments, our spending, net worth, the whole shebang. And after a few days, Michelle from Personal Capital emailed me asking if we'd be interested in speaking about our portfolio. I figured there'd be no harm, so we spoke briefly about our goals and our investments. At the end of the call, she asked if we'd like to meet again, and to see a personalized recommendation from Personal Capital. It was free, so why not have a professional view our portfolio and give recommendations?

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Lottery: You Can't Win If You Don't Play

The Lottery: You Can't Win If You Don't Play
I have given up my quest to avoid advertisements, and I'm admitting defeat. After a few months of trying to avert my eyes when passing billboards, and changing channels every ten minutes in the middle of football games, I am throwing in the towel. I am one man against the thousands and millions of advertisers, and their millions and billions of advertising dollars. It was never a fair fight, so rather than continuing to aggravate myself, now I am just watching playoff football like a normal American, and watching the stupid commercials. And it's not a big deal.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Mindless Accumulation

Mindless Accumulation
Matt Richel wrote an excellent article in the New York Times about a term I've never heard of before, but now absolutely love: "mindless accumulation". Mindless accumulation refers to the human instinct to earn past the point of our needs, or even our wants, and to simply work until we cannot work any more. The article centers on research that notes that, because of new technologies and greater productivity, the current generation can work fewer hours or less diligently than the prior generation, but still achieve the same standard of living. But, typically, they do not. The theory is that humans have a desire to earn and acquire more than they possibly could use: leading to another great term, "overearning".

Monday, January 6, 2014

What's it Like in America?

What's it Like in America?
A while back, Mrs. Done by Forty had lent a little money to a woman she's been working with in Peru. She's been working off the debt bit by bit, and this woman invited my wife to lunch at her house yesterday. They went to the market together and bought ingredients, including the meat, from the open air market. They were making lomo saltado together, and the total cost was seven Soles (about $2). To save money on housing, the woman lives with her family outside the city limits, where the city just turns to a desert and there aren't really permanent structures, per se. The houses are made of reed mat walls and reed roofs: kind of what we might describe as a shanty town, since the structures aren't permanent. But I don't mean that in any derogatory way. To them, it's just their homes.