Money News and Views

By - June 15, 2013

Here is a small collection of news, ideas and opinions relate to the making, saving and spending of money. We start with a look at what kind of backgrounds billionaires come from. Further along we look at lottery tickets and we try to dispell the myth that starting a business is always riskier than getting a job.

Traits of the Wealthy

Forbes magazine reports that among the parents of American billionaires the most common professions they found were engineer, accountant and small-business owners. Others have noted that being comfortable with numbers is nearly universal among the wealthy (the exceptions are likely to be those who found wealth through fame, like movie stars and sports professionals). It seems that for most of us, a certain level of comfort with math may be a necessity for attaining great wealth. After all, although an accountant can keep track of your returns on a real estate investment, how do you know to buy it in the first place if you have no idea how to quickly figure a capitalization rate when looking at a property? (And high school math should be sufficient for that.)

Mathematical skill may in part be hereditary, but certainly it can also be learned. This is something to keep in mind if you hope to make much money in business or investing.

Emergency Money

If you don't trust the currency and you want a safety net made of something more substantial, what should you choose? Gold has long been the alternate money of choice, but it can fluctuate wildly in how it is valued in this or that currency. Also, if you envision a worst case scenario where the government destroys the currency, gold is rarely in small enough quantities for convenience. How do you get change from an ounce of gold when you want to buy a few loaves of bread and that ounce is worth 300 loaves? For these scenarios it may be best to have a small hoard of old silver coins. Any quarter minted before 1965 is 90% silver and has been worth enough to buy a loaf of bread for most of its history.

Are Businesses Riskier Than Jobs?

The idea that starting a business is riskier than getting a job is great for keeping people in their "places," or for making them fear change. But the truth is that there are many businesses you can start with little investment and build up to a livable income even while keeping your current job. As a plan for increasing your income, it can be better than getting a second job.

For example, my wife and I started online with a used computer that I paid $100 for, and a phone-based internet service that cost us $5 per month. For many years we made many times more than any job either of us has had in the past. Even, now, after our business income has fallen substantially, it still pays the bills, and it has provided the capital necessary to buy a new business if we choose to do that.

Also, it is common to underestimate the risk involved in seeking jobs as a sole source of income. You can be fired or your employer can go bankrupt. And as for the monetary risk, consider how much time and money you spend getting a degree. The money spent is obvious, but don't forget that the years in college are years that you could have been earning money (either at a job or in a business). As reported by WiseGeek and others, there are over 100,000 janitors working in this country who have at least a bachelor's degree, which reminds us that after a big investment of time and money an appropriate job is still not guaranteed.

There are many good reasons to have a job rather than a business, but income security or lack of risk is not the most convincing one. If you really want to lower your risk consider developing several sources of income.

How to Diversify Out of the Dollar

If you are worried about the collapse of the U.S. dollar, you can put some of your money in a foreign bank, or a U.S. bank that lets you open foreign currency accounts. One such bank is EverBank, at If the dollar falls 20% against the Swiss Franc, or whichever currency you choose, you'll be that much further ahead. If it rises, of course, your account will lose value. These accounts are FDIC insured, but this won't protect you from currency fluctuations.

Do You Buy the Name?

Research done in the field of behavioral economics shows us that people buy things for many reasons that they are not aware of. For example, in blind taste-tests, most people prefer draft beer to bottled beer, yet most buy the bottle at a bar, and many claim they like the tastes better. What are the real reasons they buy the bottles?

Researchers have identified two motivations. First, some customers don't want to appear "cheap" by getting the inexpensive draft version of a particular beer. Second, most people get their sense of identity in part from the things that are "theirs," including the labeled bottle in front of them (are you a "Bud man" or an eclectic Mead drinker?).

Here's an idea: If we learn to not worry about what others think of us and we stop identifying with things as self, we can have better beer (and many other things) for less money, leaving more money available for more important goals and values.

Skip the Lottery

I recently read that a person who drives ten miles to buy a lottery ticket is more likely to be killed in a car accident along the way than to win the jackpot. Three times as likely! I'm not sure about the primary source for the statistics, but I do know that the state governments who simultaneously promote this kind of gambling while hypocritically making laws preventing "immoral" gambling offer far worse odds than the worst casinos on the planet. Skip the gambling altogether and invest the money. There's enough risk in that, after all, but at least the odds are in your favor if you do it right.

If you liked this page please let others know with one of these...

Other Relevant Pages

Real Estate

Money Making Ideas


Money Articles

(The newsletter has been discontinued.)

Every Way to Make Money | Money News and Views