This article is by staff writer April Dykman.
Normally for these Spare Change posts, I like to collect a bunch of money-related links and group them by theme. But I’ve been too scatterbrained lately to collect or organize anything. Last week a friend of mine, Frank, passed away after a brief illness — one that we all felt sure he’d recover from, especially since he was only 35 years old. (Longtime readers may have read about him here at Get Rich Slowly, when I interviewed him for an article on renters insurance.)
I don’t want to delve into the specifics or the heartbreak, because those things are far too personal and have nothing to do with personal finance. But one thing I’ve thought about a lot this last week is how giving he was. When Frank moved to an apartment 20 minutes from NYC, all of his friends and family now had an apartment 20 minutes from NYC. When he won front-row tickets to “Wicked,” his favorite musical, he insisted on giving them to my husband and me, and he sat several rows behind us. And as a silly native Texan visiting NYC in December, Frank’s sweaters and scarves kept me warm during the entire trip.
What I noticed is that none of those expressions of love and friendship, the ones that I remember when I think about Frank, cost any money at all. And there are a lot of things like that, things that we can do for each other that cost nothing, but too often we let weeks or months go by without making time for what’s important. So I’ve resolved to make that time, to call people I care about more often, to schedule more lunches and dinners, to really pitch in when someone is going through a tough time rather than just offer a bewildered, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do.” Have you noticed that no one ever takes you up on that offer?
It seems trite to go through a loss and say, “call your mom more” or “make time for what’s important,” but on the other hand, we forget it so often that I think we can’t hear that advice enough.
OK, enough about that. Let’s get to my totally random list of links that happened to interest me this week.
Last June, a Twitter fight broke out between Dave Ramsey and a group of financial planners who had a beef with his investment advice, reports CNN Money. “I help more people in 10 min. than all of you combined in your ENTIRE lives #stophating,” Ramsey tweeted. This was in response to tweets that Ramsey’s investment advice was “crap” and tantamount to malpractice, were he a professional financial adviser.
Felix Salmon with Susie Poppick write, “What’s notable about the war of words between Ramsey and the financial planners is that they are largely talking past one another.” While top financial planners advise the wealthy on how to invest or reduce their tax bill, Ramsey’s audience is mostly directed toward people who are in debt and struggling to save that first $1,000. Still, he’s bullish on stocks and dismissive of bonds, claiming this strategy can get you 12 percent annual returns. “But here are the numbers,” write Salmon and Poppick, “using data from Morningstar. If someone invested equally in four mutual funds corresponding to Ramsey’s plan, using the kind of load-charging funds he recommends, over the past 20 years the annualized return would have been 7.6 percent.”
E-books are growing in popularity, with 34 percent of 18- to 49-year-old readers reading a digital book in 2011, according to Pew Research Center. Even yours truly has jumped on the bandwagon, after years of dismissing any book without a spine. (When you like to pack five books with you “just in case,” a Kindle really lightens the load.) But digital books, like books in a bookstore, are costly to buy, especially if you’re an avid reader. Also, “e-books are tougher to lend and borrow than their musty paper counterparts, and e-sharing comes with many strings attached,” writes John Miley for Kiplinger. Miley’s tips include planning your “shares,” connect with book-swappers online, search for open-format books, borrow from the public library, and look for freebies. “Some of the most popular free books in Google Play, for example, include H.G. Wells’s ‘The Time Machine,’ Kate Chopin’s ‘The Awakening’ and Charles Darwin’s ‘The Origin of Species,’” writes Miley.
OK, so why is “famous guy has a lot of money” newsworthy? Because who knew that doing magic tricks, er, illusions, could yield Madonna-money?
“At $800 million, Copperfield’s net worth places him in a rare and elite club of ultra-rich self-made celebrities poised to become billionaires in the near-future,” writes Forbes staffer Morgan Brennan. “Only one other entertainer has cracked the billion-dollar club to join the Forbes 400 ranks: Oprah Winfrey (worth $2.9 billion). And among those up-and-comers we highlighted this year, only three other people fall into this category: pop queen Madonna ($500 million), pro golfer Phil Mickelson ($325 million), and country crooner Toby Keith ($320 million).” My favorite part of the article? The description of his private fantasy island retreat with a vanishing drive-in movie theater on the beach. Bill Gates stays there for $37,500 per night.
I’ve often thought about what I would do with that kind of money. First purchase? A bookshelf that spins into a secret room. I think Copperfield would approve.
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