Kitchen Gardening, the Accidental Side Gig

BackYard Money

It's wintertime, it's bloody cold in most parts of the country (a balmy, uncharacteristic 61 deg F yesterday here in Tulsa), and most people aren't thinking about spring and their backyard gardens. Hard to see under a blanket of snow. Only hardcore gardeners like yours truly are pawing through garden and seed catalogs (a.k.a. gardener porn), busily laying out the spring's campaign. A while back I wrote about six cool freelance side gigs that not everyone might be able to do: taxidermy, small engine mechanic, wood working, brush-hogging, gunsmith, fishing guide. The gist of the article was that there are some side gigs that are not for everyone, if only because the knowledge is gained through years of practice and learning.  Start … [Read more...]

Centavos Portfolio Update: Blood in the Streets

December 2011

"Buy when blood is in the streets, even if the blood is your own" - Baron Rothschild, 1871 Sure is plenty of red in the return column of this blog's model portfolio.  Junior exploration stocks in general haven't fared well in the last six months, and my stocks haven't been the exception. The last update was in September, and things haven't improved since then.  Down 40 percent, even after allowing for realized gains from two trades. A bit of an ugly picture, huh? Good. That means opportunity. Operation Recovery Malaga is first up in Operation Recovery.  The original purchase was for 1000 shares at $0.24/share. The purchase of 5,000 more shares at $.108 brought the unit cost down to $0.132. Whither Malaga and … [Read more...]

Random Christmas Notes and Links…

Doodle # 56

ON INVESTING... I've been lax on updating the Model Portfolio in penny mining stocks. Between traveling, growing the blog, and other commitments, my reading and research in penny mining stocks has seriously lagged.  I'm going to get a new focus in 2012.  Spurred by some positive news on tungsten and uranium, a couple weeks I started an aggressive campaign of selective averaging down. Look for more updates in coming weeks. On the dividend front, this selective averaging down is draining cash with which I'd like to invest in some promising dividend payers like Rogers Sugar and Terra Nitrogen.  Should gold go north of $1800, I might sell some of my CEF holdings to raise cash. Sometimes it's knowing when to cut your losses.  Mich @ … [Read more...]

Coffee Break: Blogging in the Shower

blogging scraps

  Half cuban Cafe Bustelo, half any old Folgers/Yuban blend, and a little hand-ground cardamon seed for a vaguely Middle Eastern flavor. There you have it, the USA Financial Service daily brew. Lately, many of my post ideas have been coming at odd times:  while driving, in the shower, at work.  Don't know why, but I gotta take the way it comes. To help capture them, I keep a sheaf of small notebook papers in my pocket. I used to keep a nice detailed blogging journal, with topic ideas, quotes, and lessons learned.  Unfortunately, I'm a little fussy with what I write and what I write on.  The journal had a very nice papery, with a soft feel and very absorbent.   It could handle both felt-tips and 0.7mm mechanical … [Read more...]

Retiring Abroad — A Few Things to Ponder

Sunset on Agta Beach Resort - Biliran - Philippines - Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia

Retirement is like a long vacation in Las Vegas.  The goal is to enjoy it the fullest, but not so fully that you run out of money.  ~Jonathan Clements Here's a nice mental picture: you're living the dream in a some foreign, exotic locale: nice comfortable bungalow, swaying palm trees, frozen margheritas in comfortable hammocks on sun-kissed evenings. Living high on the food chain, with a maid and gardener, all taken care of by a fraction of the passive retirement income you'd need back home. That's one scenario. Let think about an alternate reality. One day, while you're away from your house, the local cops drop by with a panel truck, and vacuum the house empty, taking every single item of value. Carpets, furniture, clothes, down … [Read more...]

Catching Up To Last Week

Travel is a booger for schedules and well-laid plans.  Take a week off to go anywhere, and it's a given that things just don't get done. The garage doesn't get cleaned out and prepped for the winter, the checkbook isn't balanced, the new lights in the upstairs room don't get installed. Add in being away during my honey's birthday *and* our wedding anniversary, plus Number Two Son's first viola school concert, and the make-up points quickly stack up. What do you call 4 bunches of pretty flowers? A good start on forgiveness. iPad Road Test In a word, Awesome!  4 books on the Kindle app, iTunes music and podcasts, a couple of mindless games, a movie or two, and the ability to answer email in the comfort of one's hotel room.  With … [Read more...]

Join the MONEY PROS 2012 Index Fund Challenge!!

Head on over to Money Pros!

So what are we talking about? Just this.... The mechanics of the Money Pros challenge are simple: Invest a fantasy $1,000 in three stocks, and see how they do in the course of the year.  The tracking spreadsheet will be modeled after Sharebuilder, with fractional shares fully accounted for after dividend re-investment. The stock values will be dynamically refreshed in the spreadsheet, so it will be fun to track progress in real time. Picking stocks can be so mind-numbingly boring and time intensive, with some investors poring through SEC disclosures, financial statements, forecasts, on and on.  With this challenge, there's none of that. If you want to go with your gut, do it.  If you got good service at a restaurant chain … [Read more...]

(almost) Live from Sao Paulo – random notes

Almost live, because a session of power eating at an upscale churrascaria ain't for rookie gluttons --- and no vegans, either. There ain't nothing leisurely about a dozen waiters swarming around with skewers of Picanha and Alcatra cuts and wielding 18-inch razor-sharp knives. The cheese section at the buffet had an entire wheel of Grana Padano. Serious de gustibus shit. The plan to post from the road is a little thin in execution. Getting back to the hotel after midnight, dead tired, is putting a serious crimp in the plan to post from the iPad. The inevitable question is "did you have a good flight?". I'm starting to have bare minimum standards of success. Even if I occasionally gripe at the service, I have a damn good flight if … [Read more...]

MONEY PROS Thoughts on Emergency Funds (and weekend reading!)


From time to time (OK, frequently) the issue of Emergency Funds crops up in the Personal Finance space.  Some think cash under the mattress is a key component of  any financial strategy, and some feel comfortable with a pocketful of rewards credit cards. The Hive Brain over at MONEY PROS is no different. First of all, your existing Emergency Fund may be not be as big as you think, according to Hunter @ Financially Consumed.  A small emergency here and a kerfuffle there, and pretty soon you're down to skinny. Joe @ Retire by 40 advises that value is not always in cash.  In a pinch, you and the Mrs.'s gold bling could do double duty. I tend to agree. Money Reasons advises that a side benefit to Roth IRA is having a pool of … [Read more...]

Random Dividend Thoughts and Stupid Taxes

BONDS I have relatives that live in Alpharetta, Georgia. Great little town. Daytime population about 120,000, shrinking down to 57,000 residents in the evening.  Where to all those people go at night?  Back home, that's where.  Alpharetta has a nifty business model, having transformed itself in a few years from rural backwater to corporate refugee ghetto for companies seeking to relocate to a lower-tax jurisdiction.  The message from the city elders to corporations seems to be a simple one:  "come on down, we promise not to pluck you too badly".   Corporate branches or headquarters and numbers of employees include the … [Read more...]