Are Fully Self-Driving Cars Just Around the Corner?

We’re frequently bombarded with stories of how robot cars will soon roam the streets — news that some people dread and others welcome. But missing from these accounts is an answer to this big question: When? The answer from one expert is five years. “I think it’s going to happen really, really fast,” says Tim…

Book Review: The Simple Path to Wealth

Yesterday, my pal Jim Collins dropped me a line. “The audio version of my book just came out,” he told me. “Audible is letting me give away some free copies. Do you think your readers would be interested?” I do think so! Plus, this is a perfect opportunity to migrate my review of The Simple Path to Wealth from Money Boss to Get Rich Slowly. At the end of this article, I’ll explain how you can get a copy of Jim’s audiobook, if you’re interested (and lucky).

Hanging with JLCollinsNHIn 2015 and 2016, Kim and I took a 15-month RV trip across the United States in an RV. It was awesome.

During late July 2015, we stopped for a few days on the Wisconsin side of Lake Michigan. My friend Jim Collins had invited us to spend some time at Shamba, the waterfront vacation home that belongs to his sister-in-law. For several days, we sipped wine and walked in the surf with Collins and his wife. We also talked about work. (I had just begun formulating plans for Money Boss; Jim was writing a book.)

“What do you do?” Kim asked Collins on our first afternoon at Shamba.

“I retired early,” he explained. “I saved up and got out of the rat race. Now I write a blog about money. It started as notes I wanted to share with my daughter, but it’s become something bigger. I guess most people know me because of my series of articles on stock-market investing. Now I’m turning the blog into a book.”

“Ugh,” Kim said. “Investing frustrates me. J.D. has tried to explain his investment philosophy a couple of times since we started dating. He says it’s simple, but it still seems overwhelming.”

“It doesn’t have to be,” Collins said. “You should read my articles. Maybe they’ll help.” Kim read his articles. They helped.

By the time we’d driven around the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and made our way to Indiana’s Amish country, Collins’ blog had spurred Kim to action. As I sat in the RV outlining my early vision for Money Boss, Kim was opening Vanguard accounts and moving her retirement savings into index funds.

During four years together, I couldn’t persuade Kim to manage her own retirement savings. Collins convinced her in two weeks. His advice is that good.

Since that weekend in Wisconsin, Collins published the book he was working on. The Simple Path to Wealth presents the advice from his blog in a coherent, unified package. It’s an easy-to-understand primer on stock-market investing — and financial independence.

The Simple Path to Wealth

The Simple Path to WealthCollins advocates a self-directed approach to investing (and money management, in general). His philosophy is mostly Money Boss-ish:

  • Avoid debt.
  • Save half of your income.
  • Invest your savings in low-cost index funds.
  • Ignore the news — and your friends.

Like me, Collins believes the investment industry has a vested interest in making the process seem complex. Investment pros want you to believe that saving for retirement is complicated, and that you need help to be successful in the stock market. Plus, there’s the problem that many advisers profit from encouraging you to move your money around.

“Too many [investment advisers] have only their own interests at heart,” Collins writes. “By the time you know enough to pick a good one, you know enough to handle your finances yourself. It’s your money and no one will care for it better than you.” (Sound familiar?)

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate Collins as a story-teller. The Simple Path to Wealth contains fun anecdotes from his own life, but it also incudes some colorful metaphors and parables.

Here, for instance, is how Collins illustrates the importance of frugality and thrift:

Two close boyhood friends grow up and go their separate ways. One becomes a humble monk, the other a rich and powerful minister to the king. Years later they meet. As they catch up, the portly minister (in his fine robes) takes pity on the thin and shabby monk. Seeking to help, he says: “You know, if you could learn to cater to the king you wouldn’t have to live on rice and beans.” To which the monk replies: “If you could learn to live on rice and beans you wouldn’t have to cater to the king.”

There are those that view frugality as sacrifice. They feel like they’re giving more than they get. Collins would argue that the opposite is true: A high saving rate grants you freedom. As counter-intuitive as it seems, learning to live on less allows you to get more out of life.

How the Stock Market is Like Beer

I also like how Collins compares the stock market to a mug of beer:

Imagine [somebody] has poured [a beer] for you, out of sight, and into a dark mug you can’t see through. You have no way of knowing how much is beer and how much is foam. That’s the stock market.

See, the stock market is really two related but very dfferent things:

  • It is the beer: The actual operating businesses of which we can own a part.
  • It is the foam: The traded pieces of paper that furiously rise and fall in price from moment-to-moment. This is the market of CNBC. This is the market of the daily stock market report. This is the market people are talking about when they liken Wall Street to Las Vegas. This is the market of the daily, weekly, monthly and yearly volatility that drives the average investor out the window and onto the ledge. This is the market that, if you are smart and want to build wealth over time, you will absolutely ignore.

When you look at the daily price of a given stock, it is very hard to know how much is foam. This is why a company can plummet in value one day, and soar the next. This is why CNBC routinely features experts, each impressively credentialed, confidently predicting where the market is going next — while consistently contradicting each other. It is all those traders competing to guess how much beer and how much foam is actually in the glass at any particular moment.

While this makes for great drama and television, for our purposes it is only the beer that matters. It is the beer that is the real operating money making underlying businesses, beneath all that foam and froth, that over time drives the market ever higher.

The more attention you pay to the stock market, the worse your investment performance is likely to be. (This isn’t opinion. It’s a well-documented phenomenon!)

Collins offers specific recommendations for self-directed investing, and carefully explains the rationale behind his conclusions. He also translates studies and stats into easy-to-understand English, which is no mean feat!

Although The Simple Path to Wealth is intended to offer wide-ranging advice about the journey to financial freedom, I think it’s best when Collins covers retirement investing. (He already knows that I disagree with his stance on debt reduction, for instance. He’s against Dave Ramsey’s version of the debt snowball; I’m for it.)

Do It Yourself

I think most Get Rich Slowly readers are comfortable with the idea that they’re responsible for their career, for their budget, for their home. But I receive a surprising amount of email from folks who are apprehensive about investing. People are willing to act as the family CFO when it comes to generating a personal profit — but they don’t know what to do with the money they begin to accumulate. Like Kim, they turn to “professionals”.

That’s too bad.

The truth is, you can (and should) learn to manage your own investments. I like this investment advice from Jim at Wallet Hacks:

A lot of new investors are timid. They don’t want to make mistakes. They believe they need to pay somebody to help them, that the stock market is complicated, or that they can pick winning stocks.

None of this is true.

Go to the library. Borrow some books on smart investing. Learn what stocks and bonds are and how the markets work. Teach yourself to invest in low-cost index funds. Ask questions. Be willing to make a few early mistakes. Take charge of your financial future!

I heartily recommend The Simple Path to Wealth. Whether you purchase the info in book form or consume it for free via his website, Collins can help you make the move from adviser-dependent to confident DIY investor.

Are you an Audible subscriber? Are you interested in a free copy of the audiobook version of The Simple Path to Wealth? Jim Collins has provided me with two (and only two) promo codes for Get Rich Slowly readers. If you’re interested (and use Audible), let me know in the comments. On Sunday, I’ll randomly select two of the interested commenters to get the book on audio!

The post Book Review: The Simple Path to Wealth appeared first on Get Rich Slowly.

Scam Alert: ‘Property Brothers’ Won’t Show Up at Your Door if You Send Cash

What’s better than a lazy Sunday marathon of HGTV’s “Property Brothers”? Not much… unless they actually came to your home, in the flesh, and renovated it. Could you imagine?

Superfans everywhere love Drew and Jonathan Scott, the dapper twins who make quite the TV duo and help people turn fixer-uppers into the homes of their dreams.

But with the series’ booming popularity comes thieves looking to take advantage of fans — and steal their money.

Don’t Fall for This ‘Property Brothers’ Scam

Lisa Hartman of Aurora, Colorado, reached out to the Scott twins via Facebook. She let them know she wanted them to come to Colorado and update her home, Delish reports.

Shortly after, she received a message from someone claiming to be from the show. The message included an offer for the Scotts to come renovate her home.

But there was one catch — she had to pay up first.

The scammer sent Hartman a contract, but she and her husband realized it was phony after they requested official ID from the sender. They noticed a typo on his badge — “title” was misspelled “tittle” — and realized they were being scammed.

Thankfully, they didn’t give any money away.

The Scott brothers posted a warning on their Facebook page about these scams. It states that they will never contact anyone from unverified accounts or email addresses.

HGTV also released a statement saying that people who think they may have been contacted by an HGTV representative can verify the authenticity of the communication by scanning the letter and emailing it to castingverification@scrippsnetworks.com.

Everyone loves a good home renovation show, but be sure to keep an eye out for these scams so you don’t become a victim.

Kelly Anne Smith is a junior writer and engagement specialist at The Penny Hoarder. Catch her on Twitter at @keywordkelly.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Working in Retirement: Wishful Thinking?

Plenty has been said about American workers in their 50s and 60s not saving enough for retirement. But a new survey from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS) shows that many boomers and Gen Xers are ignoring another type of retirement planning that’s nearly as important: preparing to work part-time in retirement. The 18th annual…

The post Working in Retirement: Wishful Thinking? appeared first on Next Avenue.

What is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptography brings you secure (or “hidden”) communication. A cryptic crossword does not offer straightforward clues but each question is a word puzzle in itself. Now the threat to all currencies comes from forgery and counterfeiting but with a cryptocurrency we see the introduction of a digital or virtual currency which employs cryptography as its security and for that reason it is almost impossible to issue counterfeits.

The fact that identifies all crypto currencies and makes them so attractive to certain kinds of people is that they are the most independent of currencies because they are not issued by any Government and are not in thrall to any Central Bank, national or regional. They can’t therefore be influenced or manipulated for political reasons.

Transactions carried out in cryptocurrencies are of course highly anonymous which makes them suspicious to those policing the currency world as they are probe to be employed for the purposes of both money laundering and tax evasion. The first and best known cryptocurrency is of course Bitcoin which was introduced to the world in 2009. The market value of Bitcoin holders is now in excess of $4 billion with around 15 billion bitcoins in circulation.

Success always breeds copyists and competitors and several other cryptocurrencies have come on to the market including Litecoin, Namecoin and PPCoin.

Among the benefits that cryptocurrencies bring is the ease with which funds can be transferred between two parties in a transaction. These transfers involve very small processing fees and that makes them especially attractive at a time when banks and other financial institutions make such high charges, Bitcoin’s block chain stores online all the transactions that have ever been conducted which can be copied across all computers running their software. This in turn may bring uses for crowdfunding and also online voting and major players see a potential in cryptocurrencies for lowering the cost of transactions by providing greater efficiency in payment processing.

The downside is the nature of such currencies being virtual and lacking a central repository leaves them liable to being totally wiped out by a computer crash – unless there is a backup copy available. Also prices are based on supply and demand which allows for wide fluctuations in value.

Being virtual does not mean that these currencies are not likely to be hacked. There have been more than 40 recorded thefts from Bitcoins, one of which was for more than $1 million.

Interested? So now you want to find out how you can buy and use cryptocurrency. You aren’t of course confined to Bitcoin even though it is the most valuable and best known so it would be worth exploring the alternatives.

You will receive a digital key which will link you with the currency which you will use to access and validate and approve transactions. Your key needs to be kept in a cryptocurrency wallet for safety purposes and you wull find a wide variety of such wallets to choose from: desktop, online, mobile and paper.

Cryptocurrencies have arrived and are here to stay!

The post What is Cryptocurrency? appeared first on Home Business Magazine.