First of all, I would like to thank everyone who has come by to read my posts and especially those of you who have taken the time to comment. It is appreciated so much. As a result of all of your interaction, I was able to meet my goals for the month of July. I will recap those goals here followed by the actual results.
July Goals and Actual Results
There are now 5 months remaining in the Yakezie Challenge meaning that I am trying to get to an Alexa rank of 200,000 or less by the end of this calendar year. I have posted the actual stats for the month of July in italics with the original goal in parentheses followed by a new August goal in brackets.
Alexa ranking: 421,789 (700,000) August [350,000]
Alexa in US: 42,646 (90,000) August [40,000]
Visits according to Analytics: 645 (500) August 
Search visitors: 67 (40) August 
Subscribers: 2 (4) August 
Earnings: met goal ($1.00) August [$5.00]. I am hesitant to include actual earnings as a CPM might be able to be calculated based upon all of the above information which would seem to violate the AdSense TOS.
Five Top Referring Sites Plus a Link
These sites are the ones that have referred the most visitors to CFM over the past month. I have included my favorite post from each during the month of July as well.
1. retireby40.org explains how he and his wife have been living on one paycheck. My wife and I have been doing this for quite some time, but I am no where near retiring like he is.
2. ptmoney.com shares his biggest summer splurge. Try not to feel too guilty.
3. lifeandmyfinances.com warns about this black money internet scam. This is a new one on me but it pays to remember that if it sounds too good to be true…
4. inmintcondition.wordpress.com explains this great tool for getting out from under an avalanche of debt. This is by far my most favorite post of the month. I will be using this tool as I put together my budget for the next month.
5. afford-anything.com writes about money saving habits. I need to learn some of these.
Shout Outs to Yakezie Team 3
I would also like to offer a big shout out and link to each of the members of the summer Yakezie Team 3. A lot of them have been visiting my blog as well and I appreciate it. I have also included my favorite link from the past month.
Nickel by Nickel is working to minimize debt while completing a house renovation. Good luck.
My Personal Finance Journey offers up 7 reasons it is better to be a financial blogger than a financial professional. I liked this post. Maybe next year I will do better in the Tour de Finance.
The College Investor warns about the trouble with target date funds. It pays to know the benefits and pitfalls of any investment you consider.
My Multiple Incomes explains how he generates passive investment income. There is nothing better than passive income.
So Over Debt makes an interesting comparison between personal finance and cross-dressing. Must say that I never would have thought of that.
Fat Guy, Skinny Wallet offers tips for eating healthy on a budget. Very timely and useful advice. Plus I love the name of the blog.
The Penny Hoarder explains how one guy figured out how to make millions off spelling mistakes. I love the ingenuity.
InvestorzBlog shares tips on investing in a bubble. Good advice since there seems to be bubbles everywhere.
Spruce Up Your Finances shares how he spruced up his older car. Great job on the car, and great way to save some money.
The Debt Myth offers sage advice on how to get your debt payoffs back into gear. We all get stuck sometimes and need a little shove. Here is how to do it.
The Saved Quarter helped Erin save some big money. I love this follow up post. It is very encouraging to read things like this.
The $60K Project explains much of the basic terminology related to student loans. I am a big one for understanding terminology and effective communication. Lack of knowledge can be behind many of the financial mistakes that we make.
Prarie-Eco Thrifter shares these tips for energy efficiency. I saw that I had used less electricity this June than last when I opened my latest bill. Yippee!
Money Talks explains that it isn’t so bad selling stuff on Craigslist for the first time. That’s good to know since I have a few things that I might consider selling.
Winding Up This Post
I hope you get a chance to check out a few of these links. There is some really good stuff on these blogs and link lists like these are one of the ways that I get to discover all sorts of new, entertaining, and informative bloggers. Have a good week.
With the debate on the debt ceiling dragging into the eleventh hour and the prospect of a downgrade on the creditworthiness of the United States, I have been reading much speculation on the impact to the economy and stock market. It seems like another recession and crisis is almost guaranteed at this point. Speculation is that the stock market could take as much as a 50% tumble from current levels. So are you ready for stock market limbo (as in the dance when the point is to get as low as possible)?
As I read some of the speculation, I can’t help but think back to 2008 when the stock market lost 38% and some of the individuals I know lost that and more of their retirement accounts. I lost 18% in my retirement account because I held put options on every stock that I own. So I decided to check my retirement accounts and calculate my maximum exposure to a market drop of 50%.
Are You Diversified?
I admit that I occasionally watch Jim Cramer’s Mad Money show on CNBC although it has been a while. He has a segment on the show where callers can give him their 5 largest stock holdings with the question, “Am I diversified?” He will take a few seconds and then briefly outline his rationale explaining whether or not the caller is diversified. Usually this is based upon the business each company is in, and Cramer is making sure the investor doesn’t have 2 financial stocks or 2 retailers.
But did diversification really do anything in 2008? Even many of the big mutual funds lost a large chunk of change. The S&P 500 lost 38% despite being an index which is diversification by definition.
The whole point of diversification is to protect one’s portfolio from major losses. There are different methods of doing this not only within an asset class, but also between asset classes. One of the latest trends in personal finance is to get the right asset allocation. This is a topic for another post so I will save it for later. Suffice it to say, that if the point of diversification is to prevent losses, then you had better make sure that losses are prevented.
How Can I Sleep at Night?
Starting in 2007, I decided to purchase protective puts on every stock I owned. I had seen the bursting of the tech bubble and had experienced my share of losses on stocks over the years. I came to the conclusion that my number one priority should be to prevent major losses. After all, a 50% loss requires a 100% gain to get back to even.
Given all the recent talk about the different possibilities for loss in the market, I decided to check my retirement account exposure. Currently, I am 89.5% invested in stocks with the remainder in cash. I assumed that all of my stocks dropped to zero and wanted to figure out how much of my portfolio would be left. Essentially, I am calculating my “worst case scenario”.
The result: a 10.8% loss! I can live with that and even sleep well at night. Not to mention the fact that only about half of my retirement plan is based upon equities. I have about the same amount invested in real estate that when paid off will form the primary source of my retirement income until I am forced to take distributions.
So, are you prepared for a stock market swoon or crash? As Cramer might say, “Are you diversified?”
My family and I recently returned from a trip to the Dallas, Texas area. While we were there, one of the things that we did was went on a “money factory” tour meaning that we went to the U.S. Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) facility in Fort Worth, TX and saw how paper currency was printed. I found it quite interesting and almost disturbing that the website for the US BEP is at moneyfactory.gov.
Fortunately, the tour was free which was a nice change of pace from having to pay admission prices for 8 people at some of the other attractions in the area. The security to get into the facility is much like that in an airport although I could keep my shoes on. There were no cameras or any other electronic devices allowed (like cell phones).
We started by watching a 15 minute film that explained the production and printing process. Then a tour guide took us through the facility to look down onto the printing floor and watch how the bills are made. We were counted at each stop along the tour even though we were in a contained hallway and not even close to the money. There were also plenty of security cameras.
Afterward, we took the time to look through the exhibits on the two floors outside the production area. It was a small little museum that had some history and explained the printing process in more detail. There is also a little gift shop as well.
All in all, it was a fun afternoon and very educational. I would recommend it if you are ever in the area. I would leave about 3-4 hours at most. It is not something that would require all day, but when the temperature is over 100 degrees outside, free indoor activities are great!
Now there are probably a lot of things that could be said about fiat currency, the Federal Reserve, inflation, etc. I plan on saving that for a different post in the future. If you want to offer up any comments on those topics, however, I am certainly willing to discuss.
What are some fun things that you have done on vacation, especially that were free?