Overpaid And Useless: A Profession That Needs To Go Away

Weather forecasters get a pretty bad rap for their accuracy.

However, this post isn’t about ripping on weather forecasters.  In fact, quite the opposite.  I bring them up so that I can compare them to another group of individuals whose profession  should really be brought into question.

You see, meteorologists often get blamed whenever a forecast is wrong.  If it rains on a day when sun was predicted, they get called out for a ruined picnic or day at the beach.  Clouds instead of the predicted sun can put a big damper on an outdoor activity.  The list goes on.

As I’ve gotten more interested in weather and looking at things, I’ve actually become a lot more tolerant of meteorologists.  If you look at what they do, it’s in fact pretty amazing that they get it right as often as they do.   They look at weather as it stands, then look at things that are happening hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, and make predictions on what’s going to happen hours, and even days, down the road.  There are many things that can change, each with potential impact on what actually happens.  If you’re on the East coast and reading this, consider that your forecast for what’s supposed to happen is based on weather that hasn’t even hit land all the way across the continent.

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Two Seconds And Why High Frequency Trading Always Wins

Two seconds.  It probably took the average reader two seconds to read this.  Not much can happen in two seconds, right?

Wrong.

It turns out that two seconds can make all the difference in the world in the financial markets.  Enough to make (or lose) a fortune, as it turns out.

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Are You Doing The Right Thing The Wrong Way?

For years, I’ve undertaken a strategy to make sure that I was getting enough water.

For years, I was doing it the wrong way.

At work, I have a cup that I keep at my desk that gets filled from a container that I keep in the fridge.  I like cold water, so I pour water from the container in the fridge into my cup, then fill the other container and allow it cool off.  Both containers held about 2.5 cups of water, so if I drank three containers worth per day, I was getting a good intake of water.

mb-201309waterThis seemed to be working, until one day I realized that I was going about the right idea (staying hydrated) the wrong way.

What was wrong?

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Is It Time To Switch To Roth IRA Contributions

Currently, I contribute all of my retirement contributions via my employer’s 401(k) plan.  I don’t quite max it out yet, though I’m working toward that goal.  However, I’m giving serious consideration to ceasing contributions, and instead contributing to my Roth IRA instead.  Here are a few considerations:

No Match

Right now, my employer doesn’t match anything, so there’s no discernable benefit to contributing even a penny to that plan as far as that goes.  They did a nice match for awhile, but cut it at the height of the recession, and all signs point to a continuation of the ‘no match’ policy.

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Are You Driving Down The Price Of Stocks In Your Own Portfolio?

I posted this link in a recent weekend round-up, but it’s been grating at me so much that I wanted to make sure it didn’t get lost in the shuffle, as I know round-up and weekend posts can get lost in the shuffle.

Long story short, if you have any trading accounts that allow you to trade on margin (where you can trade with more money than you have), you could be implicitly allowing shares you own to be used for short selling.

So, you buy stock XYZ hoping it will go up.  Because you have margin capabilities, your brokerage can willfully borrow your shares to another investor who wants to short that stock, thinking that it will drop in price.  Your shares, in essence, are being used against you!

And the scary part, you have no say in this matter.

Lesson learned: If you have a margin account, you may want to re-consider keeping it open.  Even if you’re not using the ‘margin’ that the brokerage is willing to lend to you, your shares could be used against you.

Pretty sweet news, huh?

When Investing, Do You Invest In What You Use?

There are hundreds of thousands of investment opportunities out there.  From stocks to mutual funds to ETFs to CDs to bonds and many, many other financial instruments, the opportunities are endless.

If you’re making individual investment decisions, one of the things to keep in mind when making investment decisions is the simple question: Do you invest in what you use?

mb-201101appleConsider the following:

  • If you use and love your iPad, iTouch, iPhone, and iPod, do you own any Apple stock?
  • If you use Amazon for most of your online shopping needs, talk about it to all your friends, and blog about it all the time, do you own any of it’s stock?
  • If you’ve been a faithful Netflix customer since 2003, do you have any of their stock?
  • If you just bought a Ford car in the last year or two because you love the cars and believe it’s a solid company, do you own any Ford stock?

Read moreWhen Investing, Do You Invest In What You Use?