The Katana: Deflation Is Out Of The Question

I don’t talk much about my finances, but I will tell you that I’m in the process of refinancing a couple mortgage loans down by 1% each.  The interest savings is tremendous, making me very positive about consumption trends going forward as 10 other people I know are also refinancing.  It behooves you to at least call your local bank and check their latest rates.

It does make me wonder with the strength of the stock markets lately, how the bond market can still be so frothy to provide such record low interest rates.  Do remember that the higher treasury bond prices go, the more yields fall.  Could there really be deflation on the way?  I highly, highly doubt it but the bond market is telling us otherwise.

To humor our minds, lets say there is deflation on the horizon.  What would you do with your spending habits?  You’d probably stop consuming due to the assumption that whatever it is you want to buy will be cheaper in the future.  As a result, you’d hoard cash and de-leverage.  Bingo, that is exactly what plenty of folks are doing, including myself.  This self perpetuating mentality is very damaging to economic progress.  In addition to delaying consumption, you will probably seek ever higher yields.  With the 30 year treasury yielding 4% right now, it sure looks like a buy compared to only 2.85% on the 10 year.

When talking about deflation, keep in mind that money is simply a medium of exchange.  The more money currency you have, the better as the strength of your currency improves vis a vis the goods and services which it can buy.  Frugality really is en vogue again, and I just can’t wait until Samurai September when I spend the whole month buying nothing!

POSTS THAT CAUGHT MY EYE:

Buying Blogs, Selling Blogs: How I Built My Blogging Business

Blogging to live the good life!3 years ago, I was told by many bloggers: “You will never make money blogging. And if you do, $200/month will be your highest peak ever”.

Three year ago, The Financial Blogger was averaging 500 visits per month and I was ecstatic when I made my first deal of $10 for a link.

Three years later, I now run three financial websites, bought 2 of them and flipped a blog within a year. I am now able to work 1 full day per week on my online business (while I still have to keep my “day job” in the meantime). I really like buying and managing finance blogs as I think it is currently one of the best investing opportunities we can find.

When I asked Sam if I could write a guest post for Financial Samurai, he asked me to include more details on how I appraised blogs and how do I decide or not to send $10K over the wire (or more!) simply to buy a “.com”.

Look at Blogs as a Real Estate Investing Opportunity

The Katana: Spring Cleaning and Moving Forward

So that’s it.  One quarter of the year is done, and a new quarter begins.  How’d you do?  Did you just meet expectations set forth in the 4th quarter of 2009?  Or did you beat expectations and prove to your shareholders and yourself that you’re investment worthy?  Executives of public companies go through this thought process all the time, and so should you.

There’s never been a better time than right now to go through all the clutter in the house and donate it all away.  Clutter should drive you nuts, because it’s a sign of excess.  Why do you need 7 pairs of jeans, 50 pairs of shoes, and all those magazines?  You don’t!  I don’t and I’m very disappointed in myself for accumulating so much junk over the years.

It really makes me sick to have so much stuff.  When I lived in a studio apartment, the place was filled with crap.  Now I live in a house, and it’s no different.  Consumerism has infiltrated me thoroughly.  On the bright side, thank goodness for counterbalancing mechanisms. If a person never feels full (sick of clutter), they’ll eat until they explode!  Today, let’s de-clutter and simplify.

MARCH FAVORITE POSTS ON FINANCIAL SAMURAI

* “The Mental To Physical Connection For A Healthier Lifestyle”

* “Insuring The Uninsured Is Worth It”

* “Wealth Is An Illusion Of Happiness”

Heads up Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and Bloomberg, if you want to do an interview, better let us know quick because The Samurai Fund is now up 11.5% vs. only +5.6% for the S&P year-to-date!  LEN, HAR, BIG are leading the way.

HIGHLIGHT POSTS FROM AROUND THE SPHERE

Samurai’s Alexa Ranking Challenge Update: Progress Through Adversity

It’s been just over a month since the Samurai Alexa Ranking Challenge was announced, and I’m pleased to report we’ve made tremendous progress!  With 35+ members strong, we are actively helping each other achieve our respective goals.  I’d like to use this opportunity to recognize several Yakezie members for their achievements and initiatives in helping the team.

* Daniel-San from Sweating The Big Stuff took the initiative to compile the list and keep track.  His efforts have in turn created a home for us members to visit once a week and get pumped.

* @Elle_CM from Couple Money has been amazingly selfless in retweeting my posts and many other posts.  She is exactly the type of member the Yakezie Group seeks.  @FinEngr created a Yakezie Twitter Group to keep track of us and follow.  Pls follow so the group can follow you back.

* Monevator, The Amateur Financier, Evolution Of Wealth created weekly wraps to specifically highlight posts from the Yakezie Group.  Meanwhile, Money Funk wrote a derivative post on how to increase your Alexa ranking.

* Eliminate The Muda and Planting Dollars have busted through their 200,000 goal and should obviously now shoot for top 100,000!

THE RULES HAVE CHANGED AND WE WILL ADAPT

The Katana: Rough Waters On The Horizon

Friday’s post entitled, “The People Asked To Get ROCKED And A Boulder Fell On Their Heads” wasn’t supposed to go up.  I’m trying to limit the amount of big government love related posts, but “every time I try and get out, they pull me back in”!  Let the record show that I’m not against Democrats, I’m just disappointed in the system.  I do apologize to readers for the John Edwards of the world though.  At least politicians make life a little less boring.

The Samurai Fund is down 2.7% YTD, which compares favorably to the S&P 500 down 3.7% YTD.  Still, losing money is disappointing and I wonder if we have to change our outlook and investments given the anti-capitalism rhetoric by the government.  Should we raise cash?  Sell some of the winners?  Need some thoughts from the contributors and readers in general who have investments in the markets.

Perhaps now is the best time to open up the fund to 2 or 3 new entrants given the declines.  I will need help from someone to do a screen shot each week, because my 12″ monitor on my rocking 5 year old iBook G4 can only fit 17 entries!

The Freedom Fund continues to chug along slowly, with a $2,000 increase for January.  Nothing special, just savings from cash flow.

VIDEOS AND POSTS OF THE WEEK

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.

Keigu,

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.

SAMURAI WEEK IN REVIEW

* 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!

Keigu,

Sam Samurai – “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries”

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