Nerdwallet.com is not the site I have been looking for

I’ve been using mint.com for years now but every month I hate it a little bit more. It’s too big, too slow, and too buggy. But it’s solving a problem that I need solved which is a comprehensive cloud based personal finance tool that covers banking, investments, credit cards, reporting and analysis. I can’t say that their decline corresponded exactly with when Inuit bought them but… it didn’t help either.

I’ve wondered why no one is tackling this space. I try them all and they all are lacking in one key way or another. Here’s a review from the New York Times From those, I’ve been test driving BillGuard and it seems to have potential but I am not ready to switch yet. So when I read about NerdWallet I thought, based on the name, that I had another candidate. I had to search their web site high and low before I could find a summary of what they do:

We create user-friendly tools, crunch numbers and give you all the results, unfiltered. Across banking, credit cards, education, health care, insurance, investments, mortgages, shopping and travel, we offer data-driven tools and impartial information to help you make solid decisions about the money you work hard to earn. In short, we do the homework so you don’t have to.

Nope. Keep looking.

Confessions of an economic hit man

You should read this book: Confessions of an Economic Hit Man.  It’s shocking and insightful.

Basically the book explains and teaches that when you hear, for example, that Egypt is getting a billion US$ in military aid, that’s not what it sounds like. We are not sending them a check for a million bucks. We are actually sending the million bucks to US millitary corporations.

Why? Because the funds that Egypt gets can only be spent with specific US companies on specific items, either hardware or service contracts. And moreover the books explains that often the recipient country doesn’t even want what they are required to purchase or the project that they are required to undertake, lets say a new highway, bridge, airport or whatever.

So read the book and also, keep that in mind when you learn for example that Senators backing war in Syria are flush with defense industry cash « Watchdog.org:

According to an analysis by MapLight, which tracks lobbying and campaign contributions in Congress, senators who voted in favor of the resolution received, on average, 83 percent more money from defense contractors and other defense interests than senators who voted against the resolution.

 

Selling course notes: a market solution

Should it be ok for students to take notes during a class and turn them into a marketable product that they make money on?

If I am teaching the same class again this year, students could buy the course notes and potentially do better, or learn more. That’s a good thing, right?

However is it fair to me? After all these students are becoming multi-millionaires by reselling my work, my intellectual property. Yeah right.

One professor has an amusing solution to this dilemma, but I think it still misses the point;

Precisely. Besides which, I’ve figured out a much more fun solution to the problem: I’m going to buy some of these note sets and outlines being sold for my classes. I’ll go through them and find all the mistakes. And then I’ll write exam questions testing on those very same mistakes. If we all did that, the market would dry up pretty quick. (from Professor Bainbridge.com)

Bubble Bubble Sign Of Trouble

The thing about a bubble is that while people worry about it, no one is actually sure whether they are in one, and especially when it will be over. The other thing about bubbles is that they keep happening because they are the result of human nature (greed and self-deception):

“Less than a decade after the dot-com bust taught Wall Street and Silicon Valley investors that what goes up does not keep going up forever, a growing number of entrepreneurs and a few venture capitalists are beginning to wonder if investments in tech start-ups are headed toward another big bust.”…

“The chief evidence, according to industry experts and analysts, is the way venture capitalists and established companies are clamoring to give money to young companies, including those with only a shred of an idea. They are piling into me-too start-ups that imitate popular Web companies that already received financing. Companies that involve social shopping, mobile photo sharing and new social networking are finding it easy to attract investors because no one wants to miss the next big thing.” (from Sillicon Valey Shows Sign of a New Dot-Com frenzy)


Mint being acquired by Intuit: Good or Bad?

I am a fairly avid fan of Mint.com. So it’s with mixed emotions that I read that Mint is being acquired by Intuit. Intuit is a bigger, better known, and so in theory, more reliable vendor for something that is quickly becoming mission critical for me. But on the other hand, Intuit’s software has become uglier and harder to use over time. I tried Quicken Online, twice, and found it to be far inferior to Mint. We shall see.

By the way, why do aquired companies insist on saying something like: “What’s not going to change: Mint.com will stay the way you like it: free, easy-to-use and constantly improving.” (this was from their email to users.) It’s never really true, and it worries me because it shows the naivete or dishonesty of the writer.