Picking up Nickels

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Five signs that you're into multi-level marketing

A couple of weeks ago I saw the ledlis.com clown car (see picture) parked outside of a local convenience store, and it was so over the top that I had to check out the site for myself. Let's just say that I was not disappointed by what I found after being redirected to liveeverydaylikeitssunday.com.

Let's look at some of the classic ways that this site screams MULTI-LEVEL MARKETING (MLM)!

  1. Have an amateurish web site loaded with pictures of you living the good life. Dead links and poor grammar are a plus. ✓
  2. Never state what exactly the business is. Speak only in generalities about a "legitimate internet marketing system". Bonus points for driving a car with the words SUCCESS and CHOICE boldly displayed on each side. ✓
  3. Casually mention that you only work 20 hours per week so you can have plenty of time to enjoy life and take those 3 month Hawaiian vacations that you love. ✓
  4. Imply "You'll be rich!" without actually saying those words. ✓
  5. Use the Jedi mind trick and declare "This is not MLM". ✓

All in all, it looks like site owner James Hayden is off to a great start with his "not a MLM" web site. However, I do have a few recommendations that should help him take his business to the next level:

  1. Have an anecdote about a phony person living near the poor soul accessing your web site who is living the dream. For example, in this phony ad it seems that Mike Richardson can't make up his mind if he's from Cromwell, CT or Brocton, MA depending on what internet connection I use. Where is Mike from when you give it a shot?

  2. Have a small army of identical siblings with different names touting your product at various web sites like the acai berry diet girl. Think Boys From Brazil with a focus on multi level marketing instead of Fascism and world conquest.

  3. Approach strangers in supermarkets and bookstores about "an exciting business opportunity". Also, be as vague about the details of this business opportunity as humanly possible. I hear this works really well.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ben Stein buries a pearl deep inside a yucky oyster

There's a nice simple little pearl of valuable wisdom buried inside of Ben Stein's July 16th How Not to Ruin Your Life column. No, I'm not talking about a public service announcement warning you of the dangers of smoking too much weed or the appropriate jab at "funemployment".

I'm talking about this bit of wisdom Stein attributes to his father, economist Herb Stein:

"You are there to take care of you," he once said. "The younger you is there to take care of the older you by virtue of the assets you accumulated when you were young."

I like it. It's Herb Stein's spin on the old tale of the Ant and the Grasshopper (like Frugalson household favorite A Bug's Life), where the importance of working hard and saving for a future rainy day is the lesson du jour. For my family, that means saving, investing, and living within our means.

Of course, I'm a bit down on Ben Stein since he became spokesman for freescore.com, which promises all three credit scores for free, but doesn't mention in non-mouseprint that you get those free scores when you sign up for whatever variant of credit protection service they are offering for about $30 per month. Thanks for the interesting article Mr. Stein, but I'll stick with the truly free AnnualCreditReport.com to keep an eye on my credit reports thankyouverymuch.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Free Gillette Fusion Razor at CVS Pharmacy again this week

The free in-store deal for a Gillette Fusion Razor is back!

CVS has the Gillette Fusion manual or power razor on sale for $7.99 this week. They are also offering a $4 Extra Bucks bonus with purchase (prints out immediately after purchase), bringing the cost down to $3.99. This price combined with the $4 off any Gillette Fusion Manual or Power Razor coupon from the 6/7 Proctor & Gamble coupon booklet will make this razor free.

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 2009 Financial Asset Roundup

Here are my current financial assets as of the market close on July 10th, 2009:

Asset June 2009 July 2009 Change
Checking 561 595 34
Money Market 25,477 27,252 1,775
Savings Bonds 20,383 20,445 62
Treasury Bills 0 0 0
CDs 119,249 119,721 472
Brokerage 82,125 80,403 -1,722
401k 70,491 66,452 -4,039
Roth IRA 28,796 27,556 -1,240
SEP IRA 167,056 159,224 -7,832
529 Savings 34,400 33,730 -670
Total Assets $548,538 $535,378 -$13,160

The gains from the previous month have pretty much evaporated as the S&P 500 index is down 6.39% since the last update:

(chart courtesy of msn.com)

Unemployment is now up to 9.5% (a new 26 year high) and I wonder how long it will take for that trend to reverse. When the tech bubble burst in 2000 the resulting recession officially began and ended in 2001, but by my recollection the IT job market didn't perk up again until 2003. Since we've already been in this recession for about a year and a half and counting, I worry that it will be quite some time before we see sustained job growth again.

One small bonus for consumers has been the recent fall in crude oil to below $60 per barrel. If prices continue to fall, I wonder if another position in the The United States Oil Fund ETF (USO) could be in order? If nothing else, hopefully it will help cut the price for the new layer of asphalt I'm planning on adding to my driveway this year.

With savings rates so depressing, my lack of money moves has continued over the past month. I'm also pretty bummed out that my first Penfed 6% APY CD will be maturing in two months and I don't have any attractive destinations for that cash at this point.