Category Archives: Investments

TARP or TRAP

I read a recent article regarding the TARP of Troubled Asset Relief Program posted recently in the LA Times. I can’t help but watch with fear and amazement as government leaders look for additional ways to spend money without real responsibility. The remaining 350 billion dollars seems to be only a prelude to more rash spending and more expensive band-aids in the future.

Although I don’t agree with O’Reily’s tactics, it seems his conversation with Frank Barney is a perfect demonstration of what we’re up against in government spending. Check out this video clip to see what I’m talking about.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7adJ85MSaFg

I’m concerned that what we’re facing is a TRAP, that is a Troubled Relief Asset Program.

I’m frankly quite tired of seeing people point fingers and try to fix the problem with huge, expensive packages. If I screwed up in one of my businesses, I pretty much need to fess up and face the reality of my decisions. I may request mercy wherever available, but at the end of the day, I have to balance my budget or I must close my doors and let someone else try to service the market. I missing something in terms of Government Governance?

Worldwide Elevator Pitch

Worldwide Book Drive, (WBD) has the infrastructure and model to support the largest database and resource of free books—in the world.

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WBD has developed a solicitation system to access the billions of dollars of new and used books before they are wasted in landfills or reach the open market. WBD efficiently resells, recycles, or redistributes the books for optimal economic and social benefit.

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Unused books destroy the environment and are a failed opportunity to promote literacy. In addition, the used book industry is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US alone. Domestic and global literacy programs provide hundreds of millions of dollars of tax benefits and subsidies for the purchase and distribution of new and used books annually. Every year, expensive costs of processing and distribution drives millions of pounds of used books to landfills, or corrosive storage units, where they are a detriment to the environment and moreover, do not help promote literacy.

There are billions of dollars of eligible books for resell and redistribution, which remain currently inaccessible or untapped in the homes and buildings of private citizens and organizations. The potential values of these books would be realized through online sales, store sales and social-donations. By efficiently streamlining the process of collection, sorting, storing and distribution of these books, WBD has developed a sustainable and profitable system for acquisition, reselling and donation of needed books to qualified organizations. WBD has the infrastructure and model to support the largest database and resource of free books—in the world.

Our market efficiencies are made possible through the Worldwide Book Drive Pod™ model. Each Pod includes a direct soliciting program, a brick and mortar store front and sales and donation internet venue. Each Pod location is networked through a single database system.

After the model is proven, initial research indicates the US market will be able to sustain the penetration of 500 – 600 Pod locations. These pods are projected to recycle approximately 100 million pounds of books annually. 15-20 million books will be made available for donation to qualified entities for potential tax benefits of $9 – 10 million dollars. Projected sales of 10-12 million books are expected to generate a gross income of $90 – 110 million/yr, with a pre-tax margin of 25%. Additional social, political and promotional benefits are promising but unquantifiable.

Worldwide Book Drive is looking for $150k dollars of additional funding to prove the model’s scalability and further develop the web and database systems.

You’d Better Watch your Assets

The conference in San Francisco wasn’t quite the organized educational experience I thought it was going to be, but there were some very insightful issues that were brought up. (It was a conference for a Utah-based company called investools that sells investing software and business service packages. The concept of the conference I attended was, (other than making money for investools) asset protection. Protection from Taxes. Protection against death. Protection from litigation. They wrapped it up into a neat little package that could be purchased for about 3K, and supposedly would provide all of the asset protection you would ever need.

The strategy was simple. To protect yourself against litigation, set up a family limited partnership and place all of your valuable assets inside it with yourself as the general partner. To protect against taxes, incorporate yourself and funnel as much of your expenses as possible through a separate C-corp. To protect against death place your family limited partnership inside a living trust.

In theory it seems so simple. What they failed to mention however was that a family limited partnership isn’t bullet proof, funneling everything through a personal c-corp is considered fraud, and somethings inside a family partnership can’t be held within a living trust. Hmmm…

It is important stuff to think about though, and finding a qualified personal finance specialist is absolutely necessary as soon as you have enough money to protect. Here’s a great resource for learning more about family limited partnerships.

Invest…ING

Whether starting your own business or just looking to add security to your life, investing is important.

About once a month, I get a phone call from a friend or a friend’s friend who is a financial manager and wants to help me ‘wisely’ invest my money. They will tout great statistics and flow charts and quotes from successful people that all indicate that I should invest my money in their mutual funds or trading programs.

I’m like every other person trying to live the American dream. I want freedom. One of those freedoms is financial freedom. Everyone with some common sense and/or who has read The Richest Man In Babylonknows that it’s important that you pay yourself before others. We are supposed to invest.

It’s safe to say that I am a skeptic of the glitter and gold of mutual funds and financial planners. I am an entrepreneur. If I have money to invest, I want to invest in my own projects, or in those of other entrepreneurs and businessmen who have gained my trust. To me the best types of investments can (overly) simplified into two main categories: real estate and businesses that are about to take operations to a higher level. I realize, however, that I need to have a money set aside to accumulate for these larger investments. I’ve also heard it said, and I agree, that everyone should also have at least 6 months of money storage to in case of those almost certain ‘rainy days’.

Given the nature of the different companies/projects that I am involved in, it is also very important to me that my money remains as liquid as possible. For this reason I have a small savings account where I accumulate a little bit of money each month for just such purposes.

The best savings account that I have ever worked with is ING. It’s an online bank that offers 3.3% interest on savings accounts and up to 4.7% right now on CDs. ING has great customer service and it’s really user friendly and has a ton of great insentives to keep saving with them.

ING has a great referral program where everyone that you refer (through a simple email) that starts an account with at least $250, gets instant cash of $25 and the referrer gets credited $10. It’s not much, but it’s great that they reward you on top of already getting the best savings rates I have ever seen.

So, amid my actions and plans to investment in start-up businesses and real-estate I know just as well that liquid cash stores are super important. ING is the best company I have seen yet to help meet those needs and even provides a small amount of interest… enough, in the eyes and experience of some, to even be considered an investment.