Create a Gold-Laying Goose.

A man and his wife had the good fortune to possess a goose which laid a golden egg every day. Lucky though they were, they soon began to think they were not getting rich fast enough and imagining the bird must be made of gold inside, they decide to kill it in order to secure the whole store of precious metal at once. But when they cut it open they found it was just like any other goose. Thus they neither got rich all at once, as they had hoped, nor enjoyed any longer the daily addition to their wealth.“ (Dwight Edwards Marvin, The Antiquity of Proverbs, (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1922) p. 188)

Lottery winners are a great example of killing the gold-egg-laying goose. William “Bud” Post won $16 million in the Pennsylvania lottery. Among his purchases were a mansion, a twin”“engine plane, five cars and trucks, two Harley-Davidson motorcycles, two 62-inch Sony televisions, a luxury camper, and a $260,000 sailboat. As a result of his spending, he eventually declared bankruptcy and lost everything. Mr. Post now lives on food stamps and a Social Security check of $450 a month.( Patricia Sullivan, “William “˜Bud’ Post III; Unhappy Lottery Winner,” Washington Post, January 20, 2006, page B08) Mr. Post had a $16 million-dollar goose that could have produced an abundance of gold eggs. Had he simply put the $16 million into a CD and lived on the 6 percent interest it produced, he would have received a golden egg of $80,000 every month forever without ever touching the $16 million. Instead, he wanted the riches all at once and spent his gold-egg-laying goose, which resulted in a life of poverty.

Benjamin Franklin died in 1790 at the age of 84. As part of his will, he gave 1,000 pounds (approximately $4,400) to the city Boston and another 1,000 pounds to the city of Philadelphia. To prevent the cities from killing the gold-egg-laying-goose by spending the money, Franklin required that the money be placed in a trust fund and then invested and used to provide loans to “married tradesman under the age of 26″ to get them started in business. During the two hundred years of the trust, money was loaned to hundreds of individuals. The trust fund in Philadelphia grew to $2.25 million, and the trust fund in Boston grew to $5 million. (Clark DeLeon, “Divvying up Ben: Let’s Try for 200 More,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 7, 1993, page B02) They received very modest average annual returns of 3.1 percent and 3.5 percent respectively. A slightly higher average rate of return of 0.4 percent yielded the city of Boston $2.75 million more than the city of Philadelphia. If the cities had received 7 percent average annual returns, after 200 years the funds would have each been worth $5 billion. Benjamin Franklin understood the value of creating a gold-egg-laying goose and the power of compounding interest. Hopefully, the trusts will continue for another 200 years. If the city of Boston now simply puts the $5 million in a savings bond at 5 percent interest, they would receive interest payments of $250,000 a year””$50 million over the next 200 years.

To become financially independent, you need passive income to exceed your monthly expenses. The prosperous create a gold-egg-laying goose (assets with passive income) and then live on the eggs. The poor only receive income from their work and if they don’t put some of this money toward buying assets and investments, they will never join the ranks of the financially independent. The average American makes $1.8 during a 40-year working career, yet most never create a gold-egg-laying goose. Like many of the lottery winners, Americans spend all of their $1.8 million and often even more on credit to buy homes, cars, boats, etc. They spend their golden goose and thus remain in the poor and middle class.

Those who have reached the ranks of prosperity have learned “that money is of a prolific generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on.” (Benjamin Franklin, Essays and Letters, Volume 1, (New York: R. & W.A. Barton & Co., 1821) p. 91) In summary, the prosperous buy more assets””things that create money””and the poor buy more liabilities””things that cost money.

Guest post by Cameron C. Taylor, author of the book Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom. www.DoesYourBagHaveHoles.org


Give Yourself A Mid-Year Paycheck Increase.

Now that we are about 1/2 way through 2009, it’s time to adjust the withholding numbers on your paycheck, says Kiplinger.com Most of us pay the majority of our taxes due in the 1/2 half of the year, which means that if you leave your withholding at the same level for the second 1/2 of the year, you might be overpaying…and then you get a refund come 2010. Personally, I don’t like getting a refund, as it means just that – I lent my money to the government interest-free for at least 6 months! I always aim to either break even or owe a little bit come tax time, which is pretty easy for me to do because I am self-employed and I don’t have any W-4 forms to fill out for employers – I track all my own income and taxes paid. But for someone working for a company, you have to file a revised W-4 form with your employer that asks them to reduce your withholding for the rest of the year. The more allowances you claim on the form, the less taxes get taken out.

The key is to avoid underpaying your taxes, so you do have to be careful how many allowances you claim for the second half of the year. To figure out what you can claim, you can either check out this download from the IRS called “How Do I Adjust My Tax Withholding?”, or you can check the calculator that Kiplinger provides at their website, which asks you a few simple questions and helps you figure out how many allowances you can take for the rest of 2009.

It’s definitely worth a look to see if you can give yourself a mini raise for the second half of the year, especially in this economy. Just be sure you don’t underpay by too much, as then you have to come up with all the money you underpaid come next April 15th!


Consumer Reports 10 Best Cars For 2009.

While you might not be considering buying a new car in this economy, plenty of people are…and there are some amazing deals to be had. From thousands off invoice, to 0% financing, to “turn-in” programs and even monthly stipends, car manufacturers are doing all they can to get you to buy a new car. But before you go shopping, you might want to check out the 2009 list of the best cars according to Consumer Reports, so you can at least check out the ones they recommend. To earn a recommendation, each car must have good test scores, good safety scores, and average or better predicted reliability based on owner surveys. Let’s take a look at the 10 best for 2009:

Best overall vehicle – Lexus LS 460 Price: $64,000 to $77,000.

Pickup Truck – Chevrolet Avalanche Price: $36,000 to $47,000.

Fun to drive – Mazda MX-5 Miata Price: $22,000 to $29,000.

Small SUV – Toyota RAV4 Price: $23,000 to $30,000.

Small Sedan – Hyundai Elantra SE Price: $18,695.

Green Car – Toyota Prius Price: $22,000 to $24,000.

Minivan – Toyota Sienna Price: $26,000 to $38,000.

Upscale sedan – Infiniti G37 Price: $33,000 to $36,000.

Midsized SUV – Toyota Highlander Price: $26,000 to $41,000.

Family sedan – Honda Accord Price: $21,000 to $31,000.

I wish they would do a thorough comparison of little cars like the Honda Fit, Toyota Yaris, and the Mini Cooper, as I think cars that size will be the future of transportation for most people. But for now, I guess we will have to go with their Top 10!


Just How Important Is Customer Service?

As most of you know by now, I live in a small town.

A VERY small town. One of those places where everyone knows everyone else, so you cannot really give someone the finger for driving too slow or talk badly about someone for fear that the person you are talking to is related to said person. However, there is one thing that really gets a lot of attention in a town like this – you, the customer. When your entire populace is about the size of a large inner-city high school, every person that comes into your place of business is of the utmost importance…at least they should be. But some business owners don’t understand that yet, and they probably also don’t realize the danger of “word of mouth” in a town like this.

I was talking with a friend the other day who could not believe the way she was treated by a business here in town. The business will remain nameless, as I doubt anyone here reads this site anyway, but now I know not to do my shopping there because of my friends’ recommendation. There are a few other places that sell the same type of products as this business does, so I have a choice whether to shop with them. And if the name of the business comes up in another conversation I have with a different person, I will tell the story to them…and so on. The chain will continue going in circles in this town! Eventually businesses that act like this get a reputation for bad customer service and folks take their business elsewhere. Talk about not taking care of your bread and butter!

Hello, I am your customer, can we talk?
Creative Commons License photo credit: hyku

Customer service is what keeps your business alive and thriving, above everything else. No matter what you sell, no matter what service you provide…if you do not have good customer service you are shooting yourself in the foot. Especially in a town as small as this one is! Another person I know had a local contractor at her house doing some work, where he proceeded to accidentally rip up her utility lines. Instead of apologizing profusely for the mistake and maybe even discounting her bill a bit, he demanded full payment and wanted her to pay for his mistake. This is a building contractor who depends on word of mouth to get work around here, and he did this to a real estate agent! That is just plain stupidity at it’s finest. Pissing off a real estate agent, who is always dealing with clients looking at houses that need remodeling, is pretty damn dumb.

Good customer service doesn’t have to just exist on a local level, however – it needs to be national as well. In today’s world of Facebook, Twitter, email, instant messenging, and blogs like this one, a bad experience can reach thousands of people in just mere minutes. A few examples of national companies not going the extra mile include my experience with DirecTV and their terrible customer service, Jim from Bargaineering.com’s experience with Zecco, and Being Frugal’s experience with web host LunarPages.

I am no business owner, other than my blogs, but if I were I would spend money on customer service training for my employees. And I would always do my best to make sure my customers were happy with whatever service or product I was selling. A little effort can go a long way to keeping customers coming back for more!

So what about you? Any horrible customer service stories we should know about? How about any great ones that more people should hear about? Let’s share in the comments and spread the word, both good and bad!


Memorial Day 2009.

In thanks to those who served both still here and already gone, here is to Memorial Day 2009. See you tomorrow.