Personal Finance Bloggers Cause US Retail Sales To Plunge!

May retail sales drop 1.2% or the most in 8 months as more and more people turn to personal finance bloggers for frugality advice!  I’m pretty certain nobody has ever come up with this statement, but think about it for a little bit.  Why is it that the public should take personal finance advice from BusinessWeek, for example?  The articles are written by relatively well-paid writers who are on a mission to report the news.  They do a fine job at that, but perhaps not as fine a job making things visceral like the personal finance community.  What’s more personal than a real person like Jeff delivering pizzas to get out of debt?  Not much!

It’s very hard for the mass media to compete against a team of personal finance bloggers such as the Yakezie.  We’re real life people responding to comments and putting ourselves out there.  There’s a two-way street with us.  If I were Editor in Chief of any mass media publication, I’d go out and hire an bunch of influential personal finance bloggers and put them on my payroll.  $75,000 a year will do or perhaps $150,000 a year if you want us to write an article a month exclusively for you.  By doing so, the Editor will inject new life, new readers, and therefore a wealth of new advertising dollars to the publication.

As evidenced by May’s retail sales figures, we are creating the news with our frugal ways instead of just reporting the news.  There’s a movement underway, can you feel it?  Maybe we’ll band together and talk about how we should never buy new cars again, causing June’s new car sales to dip.  Or maybe we’ll discover how amazing one person’s unsung journey is to fight poverty in Uganda and direct millions of dollars their way.  That counts for something.  Let’s make a palatable difference with the words we write.  Someone is out there listening.

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Passive Income X Factor – Starting Your Own Site

It’s been around six years since I started Financial Samurai and I’m actually earning a good passive income stream online. The top 1% of all posts on Financial Samurai generates 31% of all traffic. The average age of the top 1% posts is 2.3 years old. In other words, after putting in the hours to write some very meaty content over two years ago, 10 posts consistently generate a monthly recurring income stream that’s completely passive. The posts probably won’t continuously rank high in search for years due to tremendous competition, but that’s partly why I continue to write 3-4X a week.

I never thought I’d be able to quit my job in 2012 just three years after starting Financial Samurai. But by starting one financial crisis day in 2009, Financial Samurai actually makes more than my entire passive income total that took 15 years to build. If you enjoy writing, connecting with people online, and enjoying more freedom, see how you can set up a WordPress blog in 15 minutes with BluehostIt’s cheap and easy to start.

Updated on 3/2/2015. Let the bull market continue!

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

Charles Farrell From “Your Money Ratios” Speaks! Part II

Social Security Act FDR

The following is the second and last part of my interview with Charles Farrell, the author of “Your Money Ratios“.  We discuss the much maligned 401k, whether Social Security will survive, and crowd favorite, how raising personal income tax levels further will ruin America!

The 401K AND ALL ITS GLORY

Question: Why do you think there are so many detractors of the 401k plan? Furthermore, do you think it is fair that the pre-tax limit contribution is only $16,500 for some 22 as well as someone who is 45? Presumably, the average 45 year old is making much more than the average 22 year old, so how come the government doesn’t propose an increased pre-tax contribution scale the older one gets?

Answer: Many people don’t like 401(k) plans because they believe the burden of funding retirements should fall on employers and not employees; thus they would like to see us go back to defined benefit plans that are funded by employers. Well, that is just not going to happen. Employers have no appetite for guaranteeing to pay their workers for 30 or 40 years after they stop working for them. And DB plans are not flexible enough to accommodate a globally competitive marketplace, plus they discriminate against individuals who change jobs or careers. Moreover, many DB plans (particularly government plans) are significantly underfunded and many who thought they had guaranteed retirements may be unpleasantly surprised at some point. So I think the “romance” with DB plans is misguided, but many people would like to see those types of plans again. I just don’t think it’s going to happen.

Then there is another set of individuals who don’t like 401(k) plans because of the limited investment choices and sometimes high expense structure of the plans. I agree with people on this front, and there are problems with some 401(k) providers, particularly those smaller plans that can’t drive better deals on their investment platforms.

But, most plans do offer competitive options and are low cost. It’s important for readers not to lose sight of the primary reason to use a 401(k) plan, which is the huge tax benefit provided to those who contribute; and if you get a match, that is just makes it more attractive. The tax deduction, the match and the tax deferral on growth are incredibly valuable tools to help build your capital. So even with some restrictions, the plans are basically the best place to build your retirement assets.

Regulators Are The Problem! (401K Con’t)

The Katana: A Week Long Celebration of Love

A Sliced Heard

A Sliced Heart

With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it’d be nice to dedicate some of this week’s posts to relationships.  Few things are as rewarding as finding the one you want to grow old with.  I can be stranded somewhere in Kabul, and so long as the one is beside me, I am happy.

That said, does true love have a price?  If a genie gave you the option of having $100 million dollars but never finding the love of your life, or finding that special someone but always living just above the poverty line, which would you choose?

Before answering the question, think about all the fun times you had in your prior relationships, some that could have been.  Not all bad right?  Now think carefully whether after a certain point, more money can really bring you more happiness.

My theory is that “love” will be the landslide victor, however, at the margin men will have a greater tendency to choose money over love, while women will gravitate towards love over money.

The Samurai Fund: -3.13% YTD vs. the S&P 500 -4.4%. Lenar +15%, Berkshire +11%, GE +4% and STE +6.15% continue to be stars. While MWW -18% and Toyota -11.3% are the biggest dogs.  If Toyoda-san didn’t apologize on Friday, I would have sold the stock in a heart beat.

Samurai’s Alexa Ranking Challenge: Is growing strong!  I’m very happy to see so many people progress and support each other.  Forget about all about SEO, link ratios, and yourself.  Keep up the content and the promoting of others!  If you would like to join, read the post, let us know in the comments section with your rank so Daniel-san and I can track.

HIGHLIGHT POSTS OF THE WEEK

Use The Sandwich Method To Provide Constructive Criticism

A Reuben, My Favorite!

A Reuben. My Favorite!

There’s a fine line between being a jerk and being constructive.  As a parent, manager, spouse, or friend, most of the time we just want what’s best for others.  The problem is, we’re afraid to offend and we therefore lose any ability to help.

There’s no better reward than advising someone how to improve, and then watch them flourish.  Push the person too far, however, and you’ll engender resentment.  The Sandwich Method is one the best ways for delivering constructive feedback.

SCENARIO: Your friend Sam comes up with a corny idea for a website called “Financial Samurai.”  Sam thinks it will become a Top 25 personal finance site in the world one day and thinks the tagline “Slicing Through Money’s Mysteries” is catchy.  He thinks he’ll be able to retire off the advertising revenue and is already thinking about buying the latest Audi S5 and quitting his day job with his expected income.

You know better because there are 50 million active websites out there (200+ million total), and only the top 100,000 (0.2%) sites earn 74% of all the revenue according to Alexa.  As a friend, how do you knock some reality into Sam, without crushing his enthusiasm?

THE SANDWICH METHOD TO HELP SAM FACE REALITY: