Time to Buy Gold?

Holding Gold CoinI had a conversation with a friend recently in which he told me he was going to buy some gold as a result of the declining dollar and political unrest.  The chat went further down the path of needing something in the case of collapse of our economy and our currency.  While gold has performed well as an asset class (it’s not an investment) in the past, I cautioned that the time to buy gold was 10-15 years ago when nobody cared about it.  Since then it has been sensationalized in the news and would not be a smart buy.  The “smart money” has already sold out of their gold or has kept some and is looking to add fuel to the irrationality that the market is showing towards some metal that doesn’t really do anything other than sit there.

I have always maintained that it is important to be a good steward of your own personal economy, since that’s the one thing that you yourself can control.  This is why fundamentally, I have a problem with holding gold based on most reasons, including news sensationalism and irrational panic.  Gold does nothing for you.  At least nothing like what true investments such as learning a new skill, buying some real estate or company stock, going to college or trade school, or even taking a vacation.  Our county was not built into the beacon of free markets, and wealth creation based on holding some yellow rocks, but instead on the principles of self improvement, ingenuity, and productivity.

Software Savings

CatPCSoftware doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, in can be free. No strings attached; no spyware, shareware, or adware. Linux, for years has been an alternative offering to Windows. While trailing Windows for many years in user friendliness, Linux has gained ground against Windows in ease of use. Ubuntu Linux is a common choice, and just about runs itself.If changing operating systems is a bit much, and it will be for computer games; Windows can at least be used to run open source (free) programs. Open Office is an office suite that closely mirrors Microsoft office, but doesn’t cost anything. The GIMP is a GNU image manipulation program. Again, free.Free accounting software: GnuCash.  This can be used for small business accounting or personal finances.

Those three programs combined can save around $1000 when compared to retail “pay” products.

An effective receipt scanner

Financial Place Online has been using the NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner and Digital Filing System for small scanning tasks for the last couple of years.  The Neat Receipts scanner is a space saving single paper feed USB powered scanner.  The advantage of this small unit lies within its ability to integrate well into a workstation and the supplied software make PDF exportation easy.  Commonly used for receipts upto a couple of feet long, the Neat Receipts will also feed standard 8.5″ paper in different lengths.  Care should be taken to use a dedicated USB port as the device does need all of the available 0.5A of current that a USB port can provide.  The Neat Receipts is available from many retailers for under $170, and also has an optional travel case.  It has saved FPO much more than that on document preparation, particularly when on the road.

2013 Financial Place Online car values of the year

Good Evening FPO Readers,

Most households have two or more cars, with one car being a “family hauler” and the second perhaps a dedicated commuting vehicle.  Due to this, FPO has analyzed 2013 model year cars up to $40,000 to find the best value vehicles to fill each of these needs.  First for “family hauler” is the 2013 Subaru Forester:

The 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium comes heavily loaded for under $24k.

The 2013 Subaru Forester 2.5X Premium comes heavily loaded for under $24k.

Any version of the Subaru Forester will provide a high degree of value to the owner.  The FPO recommended version is the 2.5X premium.  This vehicle, heavily loaded with options can be had for just under $24,000.  What once was considered a compact SUV has received an upgrade in 2011 to be sized as a midsize SUV.  That is what makes the Forester excel in being the all purpose family vehicle.  It delivers on excellent safety, a roomy interior that can seat a 6’6″ person, even with the sunroof.  The symmetrical 4 wheel drive; a system exclusive to Subaru, makes for a stable drive in all weather conditions.  In terms of comfort; a large panoramic sunroof is available, as navigation, leather seats, and a turbo if even more power is desired. The second car in most households is also an important vehicle.  It most often plays the role of a dedicated commuting vehicle and it would be beneficial to have a vehicle that complements the Forester’s hauling capability with unmatched fuel efficiency and low cost of ownership.

The 2013 Prius Three Hatchback, featuring 51 city and 48 hwy MPG, excellent safety, and a host of options; all for under $24k

The 2013 Prius Three Hatchback, featuring 51 city and 48 hwy MPG, excellent safety, and a host of options; all for under $24k

The 2013 FPO choice for commuting vehicle is the Toyota Prius Three Hatchback.  The Prius features class leading fuel economy out of a 1.8 liter four cylinder hybrid engine.  The 2013 model is rate at 51 city and 48 hwy MPG.  This is essentially twice that of the Subaru, but then again, they are two entirely different vehicles.  The Subaru will come from the factory with light truck tires.  The Toyota also features excellent safety ratings, a good resale value, and with the right negotiation, a Prius Three can be had for just under $24,000.  The Prius Three comes with a host of features including Satellite Radio, Bluetooth Audio, Voice Control, enhanced trim options.  There is also an optional solar panel that is fully integrated with the vehicle. With the favorable financing terms available, both cars can be had on 60 month loans at 0.9% with 0 down for about $400/month.  In addition, both vehicles will be worth more than their current loan amount for all but the very beginning if you are savvy about using online shopping services.  There are many organizations, banks, credit unions that have car buying services for their members.

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