The Advantages of Getting a Life Insurance Quote Online

Almost Completely Unrelated Image of Alexander Hamilton. Portrait by John Trumbull, 1792.   Hamilton died in 1804 in a duel with Aaron Burr.  Unclear if Hamilton was not covered by life insurance.

The following is a guest post. The Internet is now as much a part of our daily lives as bread and butter. More than 30 million adults go online everyday to check emails, chat, use social networks, bank and shop. (*) In 2011, 32 million people purchased goods or services over the Internet, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics, making it one of the most popular online activities. It’s giving real world shopping a run for its money, especially when it comes to financial products such as life, car or home insurance, travel goods including holidays and yes, travel insurance, and books and music. There are many advantages to buying insurance and other financial products online. Here are three of the best. Time … [Read more...]

Gunning Up for Alternative Investments, Part 1

Lee-Enfield SMLE Mark III - from the collections of Armémuseum (Swedish Army Museum), Stockholm, Sweden.

Scan the web for "Alternative Investments", and beyond the vanilla stocks, bonds and cash, this is about what you'll find: Hedge Funds Funds of Funds Limited Partnerships Private Equity Futures Leaps Commodity futures Methinks that hedge fund companies can afford only the best SEO ninjas to get search results like that, all the better to rope in high-net worth individuals. For the rest of the peons, limited partnerships in Bermuda and Indonesian oil wells are somewhat out of bounds. For the great unwashed, perhaps buying a few silver rounds or maybe even a gold coin or two might count as exotic alternative investing.  Or at least it used to be. With all the press the metals have gotten in the last few years, they've … [Read more...]

Dogs of the Dow? This Stock is One Sick Puppy

Extreme Downhill

Dogs of the Dow. Seems like a viable strategy, the one popularized by Michael Higgins:  look for the ten highest-yielding, lowest-priced stocks of the Dow Industrial average, buy an equal amount in January, and recalibrate in December.  Rinse and repeat for next 10 or 20 years. The theory is that blue-chip companies don't alter their strategies---growth, dividend, M&A---all that much, and certainly not in response to short-term stock market fluctuations.  By loading on up the theoretical dips, some years you lose, most years years you gain and supposedly beat the overall Dow and the S&P. Probably works OK when taken as a whole.  Slicing and dicing, maybe not as much:  cherry-picking one or two blue-chip bowsers based … [Read more...]

Thinking About Starting a Restaurant? How About An Airport Restaurant?

Modern Diner, Pawtucket, Rhode Island

Modern Diner, Pawtucket, Rhode Island Everyone's an expert. All it takes is a lousy dining experience for the snarky comments to come out. Get some soggy fries delivered a little too late to your table, not enough slices in the bread basket, the soup's cold or the steak well-done instead of medium rare.  Why, how hard can it be, my old aunt and her dog could run this joint a lot better than these yahoos. Throw that pizza, grill that burger, whip those taters. Goodness, Madge, that dessert was just heavenly. Have you ever thought of opening up your own restaurant? And why not? Opening up a taco stand or a BBQ joint won't suck a whole lot in terms of capital. Barriers to entry are low -- although not quite as low as with a Personal … [Read more...]

Thinking of Speculating in CORN? Think again…


Sure is hot this summer. Temps have ranged from 110 t 117 in Tulsa this past week, depending on thermometer thermometer you trust. The drought is hitting its stride in its second year. Farm ponds are drying or have dried up completely, hay pastures are crisping up to a nice golden brown, and beef is selling for as little as two bucks a pound hanging weight, as ranchers are giving up on feeding expensive hay to their cattle.   Or expensive corn, for that matter. Corn prices, on the other hand, are spiking fast enough to give Chicago pit traders nosebleeds -- or woodies, depending if they're on the long side of the trade. The brutal heat and lack of rain are have a terrific impact on corn yields all across the fruited plains.  … [Read more...]

Sunday Morning Fish Wrap: Mongols, P/E ratios and Giving Up the Blogging Ghost

Mounted warriors pursue enemies. Illustration of Rashid-ad-Din's Gami' at-tawarih. Tabriz (?), 1st quarter of 14th century.

One of this blog's more trafficked posts is  “Making Money”, plus Four Other Not-Your-Usual Personal Finance Books.  In it, I have some self-serving Amazon links to a few favorite books. The reason for the Google traffic is a few images I posted of Mongols with the word in the photo file name, along with a mini-review of Jack Weatherford's biography of Genghis Khan (Genghis Khan the Making of the Modern World). The resulting traffic is entirely unintended, as I'm particularly ham-fisted when it comes to SEO tips and tricks. In any event, Genghis Khan is a fascinating subject, and the book an easy and compelling read.  Imagine my delight then when Dan Carlin of Hardcore History fame started a whole series on the Mongols, aptly … [Read more...]

Old Tools, New Tools

Thrift Store Swag (clockwise from top) - hand saw, drill, rip saw, mallet, crowbar, sickle, pruning shears, hand file, cast iron skillet

Let us spend an hour or two in a thrift store, and it's laughably predictable what we'll end up with. Mrs. 101 will score on booty the likes of vintage tablecloths, glassware, quilty stuff, and assorted tchotchkys and knicknacks. For me, it's used books and old tools. Here's a grab bag of hand tools from a recent excursion:   All but the skillet and the handsaw were priced from 1 to 5 bucks.   The Made-in-USA hand shears were from a yard sale, priced at 25 cents.  They've outlasted a couple of Chinese shears already, which have either snapped handles or couldn't stay sharp. A very cool thing about the pruning saw is the way the once broken handle was repaired with a little judicious whittling and addition … [Read more...]