The Top Schools In The Nation Are All Party Schools!

What do Penn State, Texas A&M, University of Illinois, Purdue, and Arizona State University have in common?  They are considered the Top 5 best schools in the nation according to recruiters!  Wall Street Journal has this unique ranking system where they essentially ask corporate recruiters to rank their best schools.

I’ve seen a lot of college surveys before, and not once have I ever seen any of these schools in the Top 5, let alone in the top 10.  Let’s be honest, for the same cost, would you go to one of these schools over Harvard, Yale, Penn, MIT, Michigan, or Berkeley?  Most would say “probably not,” so what gives?

Let’s have a look at why recruiters are so excited about these schools.

Making Money Is Easier Than Building Relationships

Anybody can sell their services but not everybody can build and sustain a fruitful relationship.  How many sets of friends have you had over your lifetime?  How many acquaintances have come and gone?  Too many in my mind.

The other day, I became dismayed by one blogger who just focused on taking advantage of the Yakezie Network to make money.  He was more active in our financial opportunities than building relationships with fellow Members.  We’re talking no retweets, no posts highlighting any Members, and very few comments anywhere on the network.  I was so disappointed, but also cognizant of the fact that it’s hard to resist the mesmerizing green.  We had a heart to heart and I think he’s really going to make an effort over the next several months to be perhaps one of the best Members hopefully.

Small Business Owners Encouraged To Fire Employees Before Tax Hikes

The Bay Area is full of entrepreneurs.  There’s something in the air that creates an almost godly electric spirit that causes people to work hard and innovate.  As 2011 nears, more and more I hear about how small business owners are clamping down in preparation for next year’s tax hikes.  Clamping down is generally not a good term to use if you are a politician who wants to create job growth.

Let’s say you make roughly $3 million in annual gross revenue from your internet business like my friend Zach does.  Not bad, but not exactly big money if you take into account his cost structure.  If his pre-tax operating profit margin is 25% after he pays the salaries of all his employees, the rent, and so on, Zach is left with roughly $750,000 subject to taxes.  If his tax rate goes up from 36% to 39.6%, for every dollar he makes over $375,000, he will pay roughly $25,000 more in taxes a year in 2011.

Well guess what?  My friend is letting go of one of his junior programmers who makes roughly $85,000 to pay for next year’s $25,000-$35,000 tax increase!  My friend feels bad letting his 2006 college graduate employee go, but he has no choice since revenue has declined since 2007, and the government is tightening the screws.  Zach believes that 2011 revenue will be worse next year than this year, and is budgeting a decline.  Thank goodness for 99 weeks of unemployment insurance!  And no, it’s not reasonable for the junior programmer to just go work in fast food after only several weeks of looking.

DON’T LISTEN TO THEIR LIES.  THEY AREN’T IN IT FOR YOU.

When Rich People Call You Cheap

I ran into one of my golfing buddies the other day while waiting for a colleague.  Greg the golfer is an every day fella who so happens to be worth north of $20 million dollars.  I don’t know exactly how much he makes a year, but it’s likely at least $3 million during normal economic times.  He’s a powerful man who deserves everything he earns, but sometimes he’s just vexing.

We got to catching up about the latest gossip on tour when he asked me if I wanted to grab a coffee at Starbucks.  I told him I was good, largely because coffee hurts my stomach, not to mention I’m supposed to be waiting for my colleague at this exact spot and time to attend a meeting.  Greg responds, “Of course not, you are so cheap!” in a snide, but joking sort of way.  Unfortunately, every joke has a meaning, and being called cheap is one of the most annoying things to ever hear.

CAN’T COMPARE

The Reply Button Is There For A Reason

Graphic by Hime

The following is a guest post by Hime, one of Financial Samurai’s first readers.  Hime is a manager at a strategy consultant firm who likes the violin and going on unplanned adventures.  Hope you enjoy!

All right everyone, how many times have you read an email and said to yourself “I don’t feel like replying now I’ll just do it later” only to have that email disappear into the deep abyss and completely forget that you left the sender hanging?

Come on, I know you’ve done that at least once.  If you do that more like every third email – CLUNK!  That is me hitting you over the head with an oversized rubber hammer as I resist the urge to shake the stubbornness out of you.  Think I’m overreacting?  Maybe a little but I am trying to save your career and relationships so please pay attention!

DON’T LEARN THE HARD WAY

The Carrot That Makes You Jump Through Hoops

One of my best friends is blessed with skinny genes.  At 5′ 3″ tall, she weighs all of 105 pounds.  When we go out to eat, she doesn’t just order a glass of iced tea and salad with dressing on the side.  She goes all out with mash potatoes, creamed spinach, BBQ oysters and then a nice juicy ribeye for a main course!  I gawk in amazement at her appetite while secretly groaning at trying to keep up towards the end.  After all, shouldn’t she eat 40% less than me if she weighs 40% less?  Guess not!

Despite my friend’s envious genetics, she isn’t exactly iron woman when it comes to sports and outdoor activities.  After three miles on a 10 mile bike ride, she’s pooped and waves at me to take a break.  Meanwhile, I’m going “lah, lah, lah” in my head, not even breaking a sweat as I soak in the glorious views of the Bay.  I let her catch up and we take a five minute pit-stop where she catches her breath as I go do some stretches and sit-ups.

THE GIMMICK

The Katana: Holy Crap! Taxes Are Due Soon!

This is the first year where I actually owe money to the government and I’m not too pleased.  For all intensive purposes, I should be happy that I got a free multi-thousand loan for the year, but it just feels off.  Your typical personal finance blogger will argue that it’s stupid to celebrate a tax refund, but I’m telling you to go right ahead.  Tax refunds are good for most people because most people can’t save for cookies!

I’m waiting until the absolute last moment to file because I constantly find errors in the way I’m doing my returns.  There’s no doubt in my mind that every single tax return submitted by an individual has at least one error, or sub-optimal input.  I generally go over my taxes at least three times before submitting them.  It’s in my nature to double and triple check everything when it comes to money.

Doing your own taxes forces you to learn a tremendous amount about your finances.  It heightens your awareness, leading to better financial decisions.  You learn about things such as deduction limit phases outs, rental property amortization, and alternative minimum taxes all too well.

Once you understand how much income leakage there is, you’ll join the side which wishes for a fair flat tax and a smaller, more efficient government.  Too many people just blindly follow what their accountant tells them to do without fully understanding where their money is going.  That’s irresponsible.  My #1 tax tip for everyone is to do your own taxes at least once.  Even if you make mistakes, which you will, you’ll be a better person because if it!

Readers, how many of you do your own taxes?  With tax software making things relatively simple nowadays, why not try it out on your own if you don’t now?  Taxes are due Thurs, April 15th in case you don’t know.

Charles Farrell of “Your Money Ratios” Speaks About Retirement And Investing,

As I wrote in my review of “Your Money Ratios”, Charles’ book sings to me. Charles has the ability to simplify complicated financial topics for the average reader to understand. His book is seriously one of the best books I’ve read on personal finance in a long while.

One of the keys to progress is learning from experts in their various fields.  Charles is gracious enough to answer some follow up questions I’ve been burning to ask after reading his book.  This will be a two part post due to the 2,800 word length of the interview.  In part I, we discover Charles’ motivation for writing his book, strategies for early retirement, and his conservative and debatable 50%/50% investment split between stocks and bonds.  In part II, we discuss the much maligned 401K, personal income taxes, why Social Security will survive, and why the flat tax is the right way to go!  Please enjoy!

WRITING “YOUR MONEY RATIOS”

Question: Was there a particular lightning bolt reason why you decided to write this book? For aspiring authors, what suggestions do you have to get your worked published in this ultra competitive field of business?

Answer: I wanted to write a book that would help average readers understand the most fundamental and critical relationships among one’s income, capital and debt, and how those things must be managed throughout your working career to build financial independence. So I took what are often quite complicated topics and figured out a way to present them in a very simple format that anyone can follow. I would like more people to enjoy the benefits of financial independence, and I hope this book does that.

As far as writing, all I can say is write about what you believe in. Hopefully, if you believe in it strongly enough, you’ll develop some expertise and then seek out ways to spread your ideas. Try to develop some niche that is reflective of your expertise. So I developed the ratios and they came out of my background in tax, finance and also working with individuals.

Think about what you do that is a little different and try to focus on that unique nature of what you do. It is a tough slog because the field is very crowded and often the least valuable information gets the most press. But you have to accept that reality and still push ahead. And then you need a little luck. Your message has to somehow get into the hands of people who appreciate and understand it. And that is hard to predict, which means you need a little luck to get it out there. So if you are going to pursue that path, I think you need to accept those realities of the marketplace.

EARLY RETIREMENT

The People Asked To Get ROCKED & A Boulder Drops On Their Heads

Feel The Pain And Like It

The Rock Of Gibraltar, Only Backwards

Anybody want to guess what happened on Wed, January 19th right before the market fell off a cliff?  If you guessed Obama delivered a politically charged speech to rally for his own support and crucify others, you’re right!  On Wed, January 19th, Obama went on national TV to tell the world, “we want our money back” and “if they want a fight, a fight is what they’ll get.” The “they” of course, are “greedy rich” people.  The markets immediately started to sell-off and the S&P 500 is now down about 6% since.

Good old fashion class warfare is never good for the economy, neither is continuous political jibber jabber.  Do you ever remember a president being on TV as much as our current president?  The risk of overexposure is very real, and the record low approval rating for any president at this point in his term shows this.  The State of The Union address is supposed to be an opportunity to unify the people.  Besides the typical feel-good rhetoric, what I heard was a continued attack on others, protecting personal interest groups, and maintaining giant silos.

YOU SO CRAFTY NEBRASKA

The Book That Changed My Life And Made Me Rich Again

Back in the last downturn from 2001-2003 I had incredible back pain. I couldn’t sit for very long, and my legs were going numb. Doctors told me I had sciatica, a pinched nerve down my spine that spread to the tips of my toes. Even the process of driving wore me out so I decided to stop driving altogether. One day, my colleague and I were walking towards a restaurant to meet a client and he collapsed. Apparently, he was suffering from the same symptoms I was going through. However, in his case, he had a family to take care of with his newborn child, and he was losing much more than me in the downturn.

I was the junior guy. When rumors came along that our compensation was going to be slashed in half, I hoped out loud that I would outperform since I didn’t make much in the first place. Half of nothing is still nothing I reasoned. When my bonus was slashed in half like everybody else, I was not a happy camper and asked my mentor how pitiful was I? I didn’t complain too loudly due to the rounds of layoffs, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed.

He explained to me in a funny way I will never forget. He said, “Sam don’t worry. You don’t make much so it doesn’t matter anyways!” He went on to say, “Look at me. I have a big mortgage, a new family to support, got cut in half too and I make A LOT more than you do!” Gee thanks! At the time, I didn’t really appreciate his brutal honesty, but fast forward seven years later, I know exactly what he’s talking about. My mentor’s absolute income likely declined 10X my amount, and he was so stressed out with his newborn child that his fear and anger manifested itself into debilitating back pain.

About two months after his collapse, he told me he was entirely pain free. The markets still weren’t great, and I remember having to fork out $700 bucks for a brand new Herman Miller Aeron chair because I couldn’t sit. He gave me a copy of “Healing Back Pain,” by Dr. Sarno. There was NO WAY after seeing him crumble to the cement pavement that day, and limping around for weeks after that his back pain was healed. I was skeptical that an easy-to-read, 180-page paper back book could do wonders and get him to go out golfing with clients again. None of the massages or chiropractic visits did anything to help my pain so what’s a fluff book going to do for me?