Friday, November 30, 2007

Roth 401k vs Traditional 401k

I recently received the following question from an intelligent reader of moneyconversations:

How can we sign up for the Roth 401k? Does the money convo guru have any thoughts on that besides "If you expect to have a higher tax rate later or have many years of growth (hence more money to tax), then pay them now with the Roth?"

Well, the money conversations masta of finances, me, will happily answer all questions. Disclaimer: I am only highly qualified primarily because I have read about Rich Dad. Don't worry my advice isn't "quit your job and buy real estate"

Now, the only wisdom on the Roth 401k choice that I am pretty sure about is this, which I got from listening to money-guy (Listen to this show to get the details, or just read the site:

Put the assets that you expect to gain the most value (like small cap) in the roth 401k. Put the assets you expect to grow the least (like bond funds) in traditional 401k. Since the advantage of Roth is you don't get taxed on the earnings, you want to get most of your investment gains in the Roth. Since your bond fund isn't going to grow much put in in the traditional 401k, it's probably a better idea not to lose the initial capital by having it taxed.

This is an opinion:

As for that formula for Roth vs Non-Roth, it's an interesting one. Given our long horizon, it probably fine to go with the Roth and fine to go with Both too. Both is good to give us more flexibility when we reach retirement age. I could also scare you with facts about the government's social security liability which would make you want more Roth.

And here's another fact pointed out by another avid reader of this popular blog:

If you can afford it, you can effectively put more money into a Roth account than a traditional account. If you put $15.5k a traditional 401k, you'd only have ~$10k were you could withdraw tomorrow. However, if you put $15.5k into a Roth 401k, you'd still have $15.5k.

My personal take away:

Personally, I'm going to beef up my Roth because right now I have nothing in Roth assets and because I am young enough for it to be worth it. I plan to move my assets in the direction of small cap and international stocks in the Roth and large and bond funds in the traditional, but that will take some time because I don't think you can transfer funds between the two.

See you in 40 years at retirement. We shall see who is buying a boat and who is working at McDonalds!

Wet and Wild Idea

I heard a story on the radio talk about how people in some part of the US were collecting rain water in huge barrels because there was a water ban.

Then I thought, well, how could you use this harness water in other ways to make $. As you can imagine, it's hard, but here's what I came up with: Use collected water to make a hydroelectric generator. and as a bonus To get exercise, refill water container manually

So can you see yourself doing this?
1. go here and build your own generator
2. Install pipe on your deck that goes down to the generator.
3. When it rains, your cell phone gets charged
4. After it rains you carry buckets of rain water up to the top of your deck, and pour it down the pipes to simulate rain so you can charge your wife's cell phone battery
5. Brag to your friends about how smart you are and how big your muscles are from all that exercise!

See the figure on the left for detailed design information. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Home Property Values to Fall $1.2T in 2008 - Study

From Seeking Alpha summary of a Wall Street Journal article:

A study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the Council for the New American City released Tuesday says that over the coming year the property value of U.S. homes will plummet $1.2 trillion, and at least 1.4 million homeowners will lose their properties to foreclosure. The study, prepared by research firm Global Insight, predicts 1.9% economic growth in 2008 -- a figure it says would have been 1% higher were it not for the ill effects of the mortgage crisis. The study predicts 7% home price declines over the year, and a 16% drop in California. However, while the current crisis would "go down on the record books," Global Insight said it will not "bring the economy grinding to a halt." Indeed, we expect job growth in 2008 to be 0.85% and GDP growth to be 1.9%," it said. "In 2009, those figures will be 1.2% and 2.9%, respectively. In the end, the economy will not come off the rails, and we may actually have learned something."

so, should i be saving up for a down payment on vacation/rental property somewhere in the country?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Wikipedia quote to make you rich

Here's the quote

"Many index funds and exchange-traded funds track the performance of the S&P 500 by holding the same stocks as the index, in the same proportions, and thus attempting to match its performance (before fees and expenses). Partly because of this, a company which has its stock added to the list may see a boost in its stock price as the managers of the mutual funds must purchase that company's stock in order to match the funds' composition to that of the S&P 500 index."

So, if you could just predict which stocks are going to get into the S&P500, you would have great stock picking success and of course make millions, retire early, buy a boat , and say things like, "It's important to take risks" whenever some young person comes to say hi.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

You can make a million too

So, do you want to make a million? Do you want to be a guru?

Take the 10 ideas in this blog post:

and then make a 10 chapter book. Make sure you have a good looking photo of yourself on the front. You get bonus money if you can get on Oprah.

What? you think "how can this possibly work, anyone could do that!" Normally, I would be skeptical too, but if Kiyosaki, Orman, David Bach, etc.. can do it over and over agan over the course of half a decade, why couldn't you?,

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hey Ebay Man!

Helloooo blogosphere!! Here's a random money making idea:

It's called "" where XYZ can be any product such as magic cards or hummels.

Hummels are these cute little figurines like the one pictured here.

Now lately, I've been selling a bunch of them, and I was noticing how hard it is to find out how much they cost. Also, I noticed if I knew how much a certain hummel cost, and found one for cheap, I could do an "ebay flip".

So let me just get to the idea. I want to build a site It's so simple. It would retrieve the latest prices for all the hummels on ebay. When one is about to be sold for less than the average price, then the software would alert me and I could go buy the thing and resell it for a higher price.

But wait! that means I have to do the work of receiving and selling the hummels. So here's the extra idea, I "sell" access to this list to the highest bidder. For a share of the listings a user can get up to date, last minute, notifications that a cheap hummel is about to be sold. The system does not send notifications to any other users about those hummels until someone else offers me more money for access to the listings.

So here's an example:
Joe is browsing the site, looking at prices for hummels, but the price quotes are delayed by a day. He decides to buy access to the up to date prices for 10 types of hummels at $5 per month. During the month, the system alerts him that 5 hummels are cheap. Joe buys them and flips them for a profit of $5 per hummel. Joe is very happy. That is until Harry comes along. Harry wants in on the action and is willing to pay $10 for the alerts. The system let's Harry do it and kicks Joe out of the action. Then Harry begins to get notifications and Joe does not.

And the great thing is that this pattern can be repeated for many, many types of items without extra work.

What do you think?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Sux but I'm happy

This is an update on the previous post. All these negatives are really depressing. That aside, -1.81 is artisan and -1.03 is dodgx so there I can at least feel good about owning the big companies right now. I guess these things turn around eventually.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why you shouldn't check your mutual fund balances every day

Ok. This is some advise just for everyone else besides me. Don't check your mutual fund gains every day only look at 3 to 5 year performance.

Of course I never do that. I personally like to look every day just so I can feel that pain and guilt for making the wrong investment changes.

Anyway, so I'm finally happy with a day's returns. I want to capture it here so I can feel good. Observe the following gains:

A while ago, after Artisan went up 10% I sold a bunch and bought Dodge. Then Artisan went up 10 more percent and Dodge went up like 1. I has been hard, since I am obsessed with watching the totals every week, to not buy Artisan back.

Well look at the chart. Notice how Dodge & Cox has gone up while Artisan Mid Cap has gone down 1%? Take that Artisan, you volatile pile of junk. I will not surrender to you. I will not come back and buy you just because you are doing well now. I am better than you. I will not be controlled!