Sunday, September 14, 2008

Recommended Articles

Below is a list of some of the personal finance articles I enjoyed this week, but before I get started, there is another article I want to recommend in connection with my decision to vote post from earlier this week.

The NY Times published an in-depth article about Sarah Palin. I strongly recommend reading it. The image of Palin that I got from the article is that of a very strong minded person, who is highly results oriented and that gets things done but who is also vindictive, secretive and who doesn't mind using her position of authority in favor of personal agendas and to reward old friends. I found this profile to be a very troubling. I may have to contribute some more cash to the Obama campaign.

Here's one excerpt from the article that stuck with me, relating to the now famous library book banning allegations:
"Witnesses and contemporary news accounts say Ms. Palin asked the librarian about removing books from the shelves. The McCain-Palin presidential campaign says Ms. Palin never advocated censorship.

But in 1995, Ms. Palin, then a city councilwoman, told colleagues that she had noticed the book “Daddy’s Roommate” on the shelves and that it did not belong there, according to Ms. Chase and Mr. Stein. Ms. Chase read the book, which helps children understand homosexuality, and said it was inoffensive; she suggested that Ms. Palin read it.

“Sarah said she didn’t need to read that stuff,” Ms. Chase said. “It was disturbing that someone would be willing to remove a book from the library and she didn’t even read it.”

“I’m still proud of Sarah,” she added, “but she scares the bejeebers out of me.”

OK. Now for the personal finance stories:

The Finance Professor - who is ACTUALLY a finance professor, gives some investing advice to his friends and family. In a nut shell: diversify, save, invest often. Trust him, he knows what he's talking about.

Check out this relatively new PF blog, called Spilling Buckets. I found it when they left a comment on one of my posts. These guys have a very clear financial plan and a very cleanly designed blog. Good going guys!

Ben of Money Smart Life posted an excellent article about quitting your job gracefully. This is very good advice. The way I see it, most industries are small. You are bound to run into the same people over and over again. Making enemies is not a productive thing to do. So rather than spilling your guts at the exit interview and talking about how your boss is horrible and your colleagues are in the bottom 5th percentile in the competence rankings, bow out gracefully and move on.

Money Ning posted about his friend who calls companies to complain about poor service, in the hopes of getting a discount, even when there is nothing wrong with the service. I think that this is wrong for three reasons: (i) it is possible someone suffers for her lies - e.g. a customer service agent who was supposed to make sure service was good; (ii) frivolous calls increase costs  or reduce profits for service providers, service providers then hike prices for the rest of us to make up the difference; (iii) if you want to negotiate prices, do so honestly.

Here's a good one: Sun of Sun's Financial Diary just bought 125 new shares of Washington Mutual. Yes, that's one of the banks that are suffering through massive losses. Sun is trying to be a contrarian in the hopes of reaping the rewards. I think that this REALLY bad strategy. If you want to be a contrarian, invest in the whole financial sector. Betting on a single institution may see your stock go to zero value if the company you are invested in goes bankrupt. Personally, I put some money into Vanugard's Financial Sector Index (VFH), hopefully making a similar bet to Sun's only with somewhat less risk.

Also, this week I participated in two blog carnivals, the Carnival of Personal Finance was hosted by Banker Girl; and the Festival of Frugality was hosted by Frugal Babe.

No comments: