Chaos Is an Inspiration For Change, But Don’t Wait

This is a guest article by one of the community’s most well regarded bloggers, Flexo from Consumerism Commentary. Flexo is currently on a ten-day, ten-venue tour.  You can follow him on Twitter @Flexo.  Please enjoy and share your thoughts!

Three of my friends experienced difficulties in their lives around the same time, about ten years ago. I’ll call them Alex, Brian, and Chris. Each had their own problems to deal with, but they chose to ignore their difficulties and search for easy answers that focused on short-term solutions rather than long-term success. Before long, their lives erupted in chaos. That chaos helped them make positive changes, but the outcomes would have been predictable to anyone paying attention.

Alex worked for a non-profit organization since the day he graduated college. It was a great job and he loved his work. He could have chosen any career with his wide variety of talents and his strong aptitude. Alex had the potential to earn signficiantly more money than he would while working for that organization, but he knew since high school he wanted to move his life in this direction. Living with this job was difficult, however.

Alex chose to remain in an apartment near his friends so he commuted three hours total every day. For his meager salary, he worked 80 hours a week including weekends. Even if he wanted to earn extra income on the side, he had no time because his life was completely consumed by his job. And it continued to affect him financially, unable to afford rent, food, and basic necessities.

After a late night at the office, Alex returned to his apartment and found all of his belongings removed from the bedroom and piled in the living room. He hadn’t paid his rent for a few months, nor did he communicate his problems, so the unofficial landlord kicked him out.

Creating Powerful Friends: Samurai’s Alexa Ranking Challenge

There’s a fun hypothesis saying that you are the average of the closest five people around you.  I believe this to be true, do you?  What’s interesting about the blogosphere community is that anybody with enough intention can start a website.  Some are interesting, some are not, but regardless we can all compete with the ProBloggers and the Huffington Posts of the web in our own niche way!

Alexa is a dynamic website ranking and information company owned by Amazon, which has over 40 million users world wide.  The tool bar is free, and easy to download.  The Yakezie Alexa Ranking Challenge is straight forward.  If you’re outside of the top 200,000, get in the top 200,000 within 6 months.  I can’t even name 100 sites, let alone 199,999 sites.  Can you?  If you’re already in the top 200,000, get in the top 100,000.  And if you’re already in the top 100,000, get in the top 50,000.

There are some who poo poo the Alexa ranking system, and I recognize their two main arguments:  1) The system only tracks visitors who have the Alexa Toolbar installed, and 2) There are cases where some websites with bazillions of users have a worse ranking than sites with less users.  We don’t know why, because we don’t fully know what goes into the calculations.  It may be because readers don’t visit and just read off their RSS.  That said, the Alexa ranking system continues to grow, and is the best system we got.  At least 40 million webmasters around the world think so, and there has to be something to it if Google, Facebook, Yahoo and YouTube are ranked #1, #2, #3, and #4, respectively.

Since starting this site, I’ve been rejected as a guest poster, didn’t even get responded to, let alone make it as one of the 7 finalists for one site’s staff writer tryouts, denied admission to a personal finance blog network, and even got my first carnival submission rejected.  But through all the rejections, I took comfort in my friend, Alexa, who is always by my side motivating me to keep going.  I’m sure many of you have been rejected as well.  Here’s your chance to create our own network of powerful friends by joining in on the challenge!


Taxing All Big Banks Is A Double Standard And Is Unconstitutional

The government introduced new legislation to tax all “big banks” 0.15% of their assets to recoup about $120 billion in TARP money.  What’s interesting is that the government is also taxing banks who did not receive TARP money, while conveniently leaving out AIG and the auto industry!

Three Takeaways From Asymmetric Regulation:

1) Because the government is imposing a tax on assets for all big banks, they are encouraging all banks to take excessive risk and accept hand outs in the future.  If a non-bailed out bank is getting punished, why not join in on the fun too?  Friends at government-owned Citibank all went down to the Rose Bowl using free $500 face value company tickets ($1,000+ in the after market) with tax payer’s blessings.  Meanwhile another friend who works at a non-TARP bank can’t spend more than $100 for a client dinner total, without having to get approval.  Message to friend: tell your bosses to party it up if Citibank is having a great time!

2) AIG is exempt from new taxation because AIG is 80% owned by the government.  If the government punishes AIG, they are punishing themselves.  Federal government employees are raking it in, and I’ve spent about one hour so far learning how be a $170,000 a year Department of Transportation employee if my blogging career doesn’t make it in three years.  So exciting to have such a lucrative back up!  Back off people, the job is mine!

3) The auto industry, which has paid back absolutely nothing, and is the biggest contributor of the $120 billion in tax payer losses is protected because the rank and file auto worker is deemed more precious than the rank and file finance worker.  I’m all for helping out hard working people who had nothing to do with the collapse.  But, what did your local TARP bank teller do? Nothing, just like the factory man at GM had nothing to do with the latest horrible design and corporate strategy of the 2010 Buick LaCrosse.  Remember when GM executives flew in their private jets to the Congressional hearings?  We need to support private jets for auto execs like we need to support higher taxes for more pork spending.


Be Yourself, It’s Always The Best Way To Go

Was there ever a time when you thought you had to do more just to get noticed?  You’d put on antics, pretend to be someone you’re not, and self praise one too many times when all you had to do was just be yourself.

I want to share with you my favorite Glee scene, which begins just after the Glee cast performed an obnoxious hair waving routine for the opposing team. The video reminds us that simplicity, accompanied by genuineness triumphs always.

This site won’t be all things to all people.  If it was, we’d lose our authenticity.  Thanks for joining our community!

Readers, ever catch yourself doing something that wasn’t you?  Why do you think you were doing that unusual thing, and why is it so hard to just be ourselves sometimes?

Note: The Yakezie Scholarship essays are now live!  They need your support and vote. Stop by.


Sam  – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

The Katana: Help Haiti If You Can 1/17

So far over $7 million has been raised to help Haiti by just texting the word “HAITI” to 90999.  You’ll get a confirm receipt from your mobile carrier once sent.  Please consider donating!

This week on Financial Samurai, we’ll share our thoughts on the latest government rhetoric, highlight a guest post by Flexo, introduce a new fun challenge, and perhaps discuss one of the key things to consider for job seekers.

THE SAMURAI FUND UPDATE: +3.85% vs. S&P 500 +1.88% as of Friday, Jan 15th. 203 basis points of outperform puts us in the Top Tier of all funds.

Stars: Lenar +25%, Toyota +8%, GE 9%, Harmon +7.4%,, Calgon +7%, Big Lots +7%.

Dog Poops: Lumber Liquidators -7%, Berkshire -1.6%, Steris -1.25%, ABM -1%, Monsanto -1%.

Looks like there’s some good demand from new entrants, and investors who want to give us several hundred million more to build new positions!  Contributors, please provide an update on your name in the TSF page above, especially if your name is sucking wind.  Will be making room for new names in February.


* People now realize that converting to a ROTH IRA is pretty ridiculous as Kevin M reminds us that the first $18,700 (equivalent to $470,000 in pre-tax funds at 4%) you withdraw from your retirement funds is tax free.  Meanwhile, JoeTaxPayer highlights that if you retire with $2.17 million in today’s dollars, you only have to pay 15% tax!  You’ll have to retire with more than $5 million dollars to average a 25% tax rate, based off a 4% income return.  $5 million is only 50X your $100,000 “average” income.  Always good to dream big for those of you who’ve justified your ROTH IRA contributions.  Joe, you made my day!

* Family seems to be the number one reason why people choose to freeze during the winter, and melt during the summer.  FYI, it is possible to make friends in paradise folks.  It’s also possible for your family to fly out and visit you on the beach.  If you’re miserable, don’t limit yourself!  Just think about how much easier it is to travel now vs. 300 years ago.

* The “Get Financially Naked” book giveaway ends on Saturday, January 23rd.  It’s a great little book for couples who feel they need some help in improving their communication as it relates to finance.  With all our book giveaways, we’d like to share them with those who’d like and need them the most.

* Americans really shouldn’t complain about our finances since we’re wealthier than 99% of the rest of the world.  That said, it’s all relative, and if everybody is wealthy, then it’s really hard to feel special.  The key seems to be to amass your wealth, and move elsewhere!


Sam Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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