Friday, June 23, 2006

Punny Money’s Grand Coupon Experiment, Part 4

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: , ,

scissors

As promised, here’s another update (albeit a short one) on my Grand Coupon Experiment. I’ve started to use The Coupon Mom‘s technique for coupon clipping which requires collecting each Sunday newspaper’s coupon books and storing them until the optimal sale price comes along. Only then does any actual cutting of coupons take place, and that’s managed to cut the time requirements for the experiment quite drastically. Since the last update, I’ve only spent 5 minutes on coupon-cutting activities, but we’ve saved another $4.29 after newspaper expenses.

Grand Coupon Experiment Net Savings: +$9.58, -55 minutes

So the savings are starting to build up, and once I have a good supply of coupon books, it should become much easier to take advantage of some of the great coupon-sale combinations at my local stores.

And in case you missed it, be sure to check out the recent Punny Poll which surveyed readers’ coupon usage. Also note that Amazon.com now has a full line of grocery items, but you’ll want to read my price comparison and mini-review of Amazon Grocery first before trying it out.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Readers! Your Stock Picks Needed for the Punny Money Super Stock Pick Tournament

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics:

punny money stock tournament

The Punny Money Super Stock Pick Tournament needs your recommendations for two of its teams. Read below for how you can help make the tournament even crazier than it already is!

Reader Recommendations
Suggest one and only one publicly traded stock for this team of five. Use whatever method you desire to make your pick. It can be a great pick or a bad one or even one you make after a night of hard drinking. I’ll choose five of your recommendations at random to make up this team.

Reader-Defined Category
Look over the other 31 categories in the tournament and come up with one of your own. No need to pick the stocks; I’ll handle that once I choose the best reader-defined category.

Either leave your suggestions here or send them in via e-mail. I’ll post the final category and picks with the others later this weekend, and be sure to stay tuned for the start of the tournament on Monday, June 26th to see how well your picks fare.

Punny Money’s Super Stock Pick Tournament

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics:

punny money stock tournament

I’ve always been mesmerized by stock tickers and all those crazy numbers that somehow seem to indicate whether a company is swimming in money or drowning in bankruptcy. There’s just something about seeing those red and green numbers go up and down for no apparent reason that makes me rather giddy. And now that my retirement fund is largely at the mercy of index funds, I’m more interested than ever in figuring out how these crazy stock markets of ours work.

Since I started this site, several personal finance writers have conducted stock market simulations of their own with mixed results. Some put a lot of thought and investigation into their picks, while others relied purely on luck to guide their pseudo-portfolios. After seeing folks earn fake fortunes with seemingly random stocks and others lose it all on otherwise brilliant investment strategies, I’m certainly a fan of the stock school of thought where a monkey with a pencil and a copy of the Wall Street Journal can make just as good of picks as the most seasoned veteran analyst.

So it is my pleasure to announce the Punny Money Super Stock Pick Tournament. Starting next week and continuing through July 28th, I’ll be pitting 32 teams of five publicly traded stocks in a single-elimination tournament (just like those NCAA brackets we all go crazy for every March). Each week, the member of each competing pair which performs the poorest in the stock market that week will be out of the tournament.

Here are the 32 stock “teams” that will be competing for the title of Punny Money Super Stock Pick Champion:

1. Completely Random Selection from NYSE
Five totally random picks from the New York Stock Exchange.

2. Completely Random Selection from NASDAQ
Five totally random picks from the NASDAQ.

3. Completely random picks from AMEX
Five totally random picks from the American Stock Exchange.

4. Cool-Looking Stock Symbols
If there’s a stock with a ticker symbol like BOOBS or GROOVY, it’s going on this team.

5. Spam E-mail Picks
This team will be made up of picks “recommended” by unsolicited e-mails that have found their way to my inbox.

6. Alphabetically First on NYSE
The first five companies listed in the “A” section of the NYSE.

7. Alphabetically Last on NYSE
The last five companies listed in the “Z” section of the NYSE.

8. Number Companies on NYSE
Some picks from the companies with names starting with a 0-9 digit.

9. Attack of the Vowels
I’ll be looking for lots of vowels in ticker symbols for this team. Maybe “Y” can join, too.

10. Highest Single-Day Price Percent Gainers on NYSE
The five stocks with the biggest percentage gain tomorrow, Friday, June 23rd.

11. Highest Single-Day Price Percent Losers on NYSE
The five stocks with the biggest percentage loss tomorrow, Friday, June 23rd.

12. Highest Single-Day Volume Leaders on NYSE
The five stocks with the biggest trade volume tomorrow, Friday, June 23rd.

13. Single-Day Upgrades From Briefing.com
Five stocks upgraded tomorrow, Friday, June 23rd.

14. Single-Day Downgrades From Briefing.com
Five stocks downgraded tomorrow, Friday, June 23rd.

15. Past Employers
Stocks of companies I or my wife have worked for in the past.

16. Local Stocks
Stocks of companies based in Montgomery County, Maryland or Washington, D.C.

17. The Axis of Evil
Some corporations have earned the label of “evil” over the years. You’ll find the five evilest of them all on this team.

18. “Good” Companies
They might not be true angels of the business world, but if they have “good” in their names, they’ll make this team.

19. Internet Slang Team
WTF? A team full of internet slang ticker symbols? LMAO!

20. Products In Our Home
Stocks of companies whose products are in our home right now.

21. First Products I See Advertised on TV
Sometime tomorrow, June 23rd, I’m going to turn on the TV and pick stocks based on the companies for which I see commercials.

22. Beer Stocks
Like the name says, stocks of beer makers.

23. Internet Giants
A team made up of the big boys of the World Wide Web. (Sorry, but Punny Money isn’t a publicly traded stock… yet.)

24. Car Wars
Rivals of the automotive world team up to vie for the stock tournament championship title.

25. The Take Charge Team
A team made up of companies in the credit business.

26. Vanguard VIPERs
Not quite stocks, these exchange-traded funds from Vanguard are traded on AMEX, so they’re subject to the same trade rules as regular stocks. I’ll pick five from the couple dozen or so VIPERs available.

27. Super Secret Category!
I’m particularly proud of the idea for this category, so I’m going to hold off revealing it until I announce the team members this weekend.

28. Tegan’s Picks
Stock picks straight from my wife.

29. My Semi-Intelligent Picks
Nick plays stock market analyst with amusing results! I’ll be shocked if this team makes it to Round Two.

30. Professional Stock Picks
I’m going to attempt to solicit the advice of a professional stock person or persons. If I can’t find one willing to cough up some picks for free in the next day or two, I might replace this category.

31. Reader-Defined Category
Reader participation needed here! I’ll make a separate post after this one asking for suggestions for the 31st category. Once someone gives me a good idea for a category, I’ll fill it with my own relevant picks.

32. Reader Recommendations
Reader participation needed here, too! I’ll also make a post requesting individual stock recommendations from readers like you. Good picks, bad picks, random picks, picks made by your cat–get them ready and I’ll choose five at random for this team.

For the teams that need subjective picks, I’ll be putting them together over the next couple of days, and I’ll announce the final line-up and the random tournament seeding this weekend. Look for another post in a little bit for the teams needing the suggestions of readers like you, and please jump in with your best picks!

So which team do you think will win the Punny Money Super Stock Pick Tournament? Make your guesses now or wait until the members are revealed in the next couple of days. And if there’s enough interest in this tournament, I’ll set up another one with a lot more reader involvement down the road.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Nine Days to a Lawsuit-Free Life, Day Six: Home Sweet (And Legally Sound) Home

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics:

keep me safe from lawyers

So far, we’ve talked about lawyer-proofing your commute and your job, but the most important aspect of your life that you’ll want to protect from legal trouble is also the one prone to the most accidents: your very own home. In fact, according to the Punny Money Institute of Statistics that I just created, over 300% of all accidental deaths this year will happen in your bathroom. But with the help of this article, you could knock that figure down by at least 7%! So without further ado, let’s take a look at some simple steps you can perform to keep those lawyers off your front porch.

  • Baby-proof your home. Even if you don’t have a baby and nobody ever visits you with a baby, you should still baby-proof your premises to help keep older children and even adults safer. That means covering electrical outlets, keeping wires tidy and out of the way, placing tall furniture properly to avoid accidental collapse, and keeping the rat poison in a separate location from the candy dish.
  • Keep visitors to a minimum. No, I’m not suggesting that you lock yourself in your home or only visit other people’s homes. Just be extra cautious when welcoming a large number of guests. Know how many people can safely co-exist on your property without causing the second floor to collapse and the lawn to cave in. Don’t try to cram a 200-person wedding reception into a thousand-square-foot ranch-style house.
  • Give guests a guided tour. A quick run-through of your house will keep people from being surprised by unexpected architectural characteristics like low archways or missing stairs. Be sure to point out any safety concerns, especially those that might pose a danger to kids.
  • Regularly inspect your home. You can perform a basic inspection of your home yourself. Look for obvious signs of wear or damage, test all appliances for leaks or other malfunctions, and ensure that decks or raised balconies are sturdy. It wouldn’t hurt to have a professional do a quick evaluation of your house every so often to help identify problem areas.
  • Don’t make dangerous improvements or repairs yourself. Sure that book from the library makes a gas line installation look easy, but do yourself and the surrounding 500-foot radius a favor and hire someone qualified to do it for you. Otherwise, you could be liable for any accidents that result from your failure to follow instruction #1948 on page 239.
  • Trim your trees. I love trees, and I love seeing houses with lots of them. But even seemingly sturdy trees can fall with a single bad storm, and they might not always stay in your own yard if they do fall. A little careful trimming or removal of old, weak trees could save you and your neighbors from cleaning up a big mess later.
  • Fence yourself in. Some people absolutely hate the idea of fences, but the right one can add security, privacy, and a bit of style to your yard. You’ll especially want one if you have a pool since most states require that anyway.
  • Insure, insure, insure. Homeowners insurance can help protect you if something bad happens on your property. And as I mentioned during the automobile insurance discussion, consider extra umbrella coverage to help protect your assets from whatever your homeowners policy won’t cover.
  • You naked + window = bad. Unless you live on a 37-acre ranch in the middle of nowhere, please please please be aware of what others can see through your windows. The last thing you want is for little Timmy next door to tell his parents what he saw you and your spouse doing last night. That’s right, I’m talking to you, weird couple that lives in the apartment across the street from us.

I’m sure there are plenty of other ideas out there to help lawyer-proof your home and yard, so please share them here if you have them. Maybe your ideas might help keep you safe if your neighbor reads them! The seventh part of this series will look at ways you can better handle your finances to safeguard them from legal turmoil.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Punny Poll #5: How Much Is A Lot of Money to You?

Author: Nick
Category: Money
Topics: ,

feed me a lot of money

Last week’s Punny Poll examined your coupon usage. While 15% of those who responded said they currently don’t use or never have used coupons, 59% tagged themselves as regular or prolific couponers. As for those following my grand coupon experiment, I’ll be posting another update on that later this week, so be sure to watch for that.

After getting a small bonus at work recently, my first reaction was, “Wow, that’s a lot of money.” But then my second reaction was just the opposite. I knew between rent and other living expenses, that money would be gone by the end of the month. Still, it was money I didn’t have before, and there are plenty of people who would call me crazy for thinking it wasn’t a lot of money.

So what about you, Punnykateers? Based purely on your own feelings, please fill out this poll which asks you to provide your own definition of “a lot of money.”
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