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Cheat Sheet Q & A:
Protection service recommendations:
I remember you talking about the identity monitoring service you use. I would like to switch to it.
Bottom Line: This is a popular topic and I receive regular questions about suggestions for protection services when I discuss stories related to ID and/or computer protection. I’ll take the opportunity of this question to tie together all of the different services I’ve been asked about this week:
ID Protection Service:
Identity Guard: http://www.identityguard.com/
Avast 2013: http://www.avast.com/en-us/index
Spy & Malware detection:
If you have a question or topic you’d like me to address email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Economy 2.6 a
Bottom Line: Today is
According to my model we experienced 2.6% economic growth in the 1st quarter and the bias is to the downside. My range is 2.3-2.6% with a high level of confidence. It’s worth noting that today’s number will be revised twice before the final number is known.
It's not just numbers – the difference between the Wall Street economists, and my number estimate. Growth over 3% indicates meaningful progress economically and is the rate where we could break beyond the economic malaise that we’ve languished in since the Great Recession. A number in the mid 2% range means we’d still be stuck in slow growth mode. We’ll see before long…
15 year mortgage back to record low & 30 year mortgages are close:
Bottom Line: I’ve been a little off on the trend of mortgage rates this year. I’d warned a couple of months ago that we might begin to see mortgage rates trend slightly higher this year as I think its possible that the Federal Reserve could end it’s policy of QE (money printing) and 0% interest rates. While I do think one or both of those policies could change by the end of the year the weaker economic data recently has reversed the trend of mortgage rates. That’s really good news if you’re looking to refi or purchase a home.
With excellent credit current 15 year fixed rate mortgages are back to record lows at 2.6%. 30 year fixed rate mortgages are within .1% of a record low at 3.4%. With the average historic rate of a 30 year fixed rate mortgage averaging 8%. We certainly shouldn’t take opportunities like these for granted. It’s not a matter of if rates go higher, it’s when, but for now when hasn’t occurred.
The topic we’re most afraid of discussing with others:
Bottom Line: It’s not religion or politics. It’s not sex or illness. What we’re most afraid of discussing in new and/or mixed company is credit card debt. 85% of Americans would rather discuss anything else before arriving at their credit card statement. That’s telling in multiple ways. Let’s talk about solving this issue.
I’ve long be an advocate of working down multiple paths with money. In simplistic form I recommend taking extra money after paying monthly bills, if any is available, and splitting it between investments and debt reduction. With regard to debt reduction, start with the highest interest rate debt first, regardless of type of credit line, and work to pay it off.
There always has been a psychological benefit to eliminating personal debt but based on the latest information – that’s magnified. So by responsible money management and debt elimination you can actually conquer the biggest societal taboo.
Why you don’t need to pros to beat the market:
Bottom line: The hardest step is often the first. That’s true of almost everything new in life. Once we get over that initial hump and start down a path of learning a new skill we often find we’re more capable than perhaps we’d imagined (for me it’s currently learning to play the piano). I certainly found that to be the case when it comes to investing.
Most business minded people are capable of becoming educated investors. It does require diligence and a certain level of aptitude but it’s far from impossible to be a successful individual investor. For that matter it’s often not hard to out perform the pros. Many think that Wall Street is a rigged game or at least one in which the big name firms have info that we don’t and thus we must engage them to invest.
The latest example of the top Wall Street firms being very average investors comes from JP Morgan. Coming into 2013 JP Morgan had issued 72 top picks and one avoid. So how have they performed so far?
The avoid company (First Solar) has performed better than 71 of their 72 top picks. And while their top pick portfolio has outperformed the S&P 500, it has only done so by less than 1%. In other words if you paid for their service you likely would have performed no better than the averages with their best recommendations.
So allow this to serve as an example of how you can perform like (or better than) a pro on your own, if you’re so inclined.
Bill Clinton turns to Twitter:
Bottom Line: Former President Clinton turned to the Twitta last night. If you’re longing for the 90’s this could be the closest you get to that era. When asked why he didn’t do it sooner? He was worried about not being able to attract followers and didn’t want to be Tweeting to himself. Doesn’t look like that’ll be an issue. He’s already at 200,000 followers on Twitter, though he does have a long way to go to reach President Obama’s 30 million.
No word as to if Hillary Clinton plans to follow suit.
Yahoo becomes exclusive online partner of SNL:
Bottom Line: Have a desire to take a trip down memory lane to a time when SNL was still funny? You’ll now have an opportunity. Yahoo has teamed with SNL to begin to offer the complete library of SNL video content online. The whole 38 years. Additionally ongoing SNL bits and shows will be made available on Yahoo as well.