Types of assets: How people screw up their personal finances

Slow news day, so I figured I’d talk a little about this personal finance program I’ve been revising this month, which we intend to start selling online in February.

In my opinion, the main thing the program does is teach you about the different types of assets you can purchase with your money.  Here are the different categories of assets:

Income-producing (IP) assets throw off additional money – they produce a return on your investments.  These include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, CDs, savings accounts, Treasury bills, etc.

Income-consuming (IC) assets are the opposite of IP assets – once you buy them, you have to spend additional money to maintain them.  Houses are income-consuming assets because you have to pay property taxes, maintenance, insurance, etc.  Cars are income-consuming assets because you have to pay for gas, insurance, repairs.

Non-performing (NP) assets are assets that realize a gain, but you can’t get the gain until an event happens.  The appreciation in the value of a home is an NP asset.  For example, if you bought your home for $150,000 and it’s now appraised at $170,000, (Edit: I had this wrong when I first posted it) you have a $150,000 IC asset and a $20,000 NP asset.  However, you can’t get your hands on the $20,000 until you convince someone else to buy your place.  IP assets are liquid; NP assets are not liquid.

Neutral (N) assets neither throw off income nor consume resources to maintain.  Art, jewelry, and furniture are in this category.

The program also keeps track of liabilities (L).  Liabilities are money you owe – mortgages, car notes, credit card debt, etc.

The program defines saving as anything you do that causes an increase in income-producing (IP) assets or a decrease in liabilities.  The program charts out how much of your assets will fall into each of the asset categories, based on what you’re doing now with your money, for the next 25 years out, projecting total dollar value of each type of asset, and showing the percentage each type of asset will contribute to your total net worth.  This data allows you to answer the question everyone wants answered – “am I saving enough?” If you don’t like the future the program shows you, you can adjust what you’re doing in the present to change it.

Note that this program is not Quicken, and does not try to be.  Quicken is great for handling your financial present (e.g. online bill paying) and seeing what you did in the past.  Our program helps you plot your financial future, using a unique algorithm that is covered by a United States patent.

Working with the program gives a lot of insight why people’s finances are so screwed up.  Many people have been told to buy as much house (or condo) as they can, taking out a mortgage to pay for it.  That’s an IC + L double-whammy:  Tying up almost all your money in an asset that eats future income, and then using debt to pay for it.  Do this and our program will not show good things happening in your financial future.  Of course, home ownership is a goal for most people, and it’s nearly impossible to buy without a mortgage these days, but our program will show you the long-term cost of the “spend all you can” philosophy.

The program also illustrates where conspicuous consumption will get you.  We’ve been taught to purchase cars as status symbols, paying for them with financing.  Again, this is the IC + L combination.  Purchasing bling-bling jewelry on a credit card is N + L.  In neither of these cases are you saving.

That’s just a quick overview of the kinds of things the program can tell you.  I’ve been working with the program’s inventor, Lee Ryder, for 10 years now.  I’m in the process of setting him up with his own blog, because he has a lot to say about personal finance and the discoveries he’s made using the program.

We took it to market once before, about 5 years ago, and it was a disaster.  For one thing, the program wasn’t ready.  It had certain features that caused it to be compared to Quicken, that didn’t add any value and needed to be removed.  Secondly, we wasted a bunch of money on expensive print media advertising and a Flash-based website.  This time we’re going to follow the example Seth Godin sets out in his book Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and use viral marketing to get the program in widespread use.

We also made a mistake pricing it last time.  We thought it should cost about what Quicken cost, and priced it in the $50-80 range.  This time I’m pushing for $14.95 as the price.  You’ll be able to pay for it online and immediately download it and begin using it.  I also want to create an affiliate program, so that people who use the program and find value in it can get paid commission for referring it to their friends.

Anyway, that’s a quick summary of what I’ve been working on the past 6 weeks or so… I really have been doing more than just sitting at the Saucer drinking Fire Sale beers all day long.  I’m heading to Nashville the first part of next week for a meeting with the inventor, and then the wheels will really be in motion to get this thing to market.  If you want to be notified when the program is released, e-mail me at paul@paulryburn.com and I’ll put you on the list.

Downtown Union Mission seeing record number of homeless; needs donations

I just hit WMC TV-5’s site to check on the weather situation, and discovered a story about Downtown’s Union Mission on Poplar.  The shelter is seeing record numbers of homeless this year, as new people deal with the cold and with sudden losses of jobs.  Full story here. The story notes that the Mission serves more meals per week than many restaurants do.

Because of the increased demand, the Mission is in need of donations, especially warm, heavy clothing.  Here’s a link to the Mission’s website, where you can learn about ways to help.  Although I don’t recommend giving money to individuals on the street claiming to be homeless – because in Downtown Memphis they’re often not and are trying to get money for liquor or drugs – I wholeheartedly recommend donating to the mission, where the money will go to services the homeless need, including shelter, meals, and clothing.

In other news:  I’ve had several people e-mail me and confirm that Stella is indeed closed.  Note that while Monroe has lost three restaurants this year, none of the losses were due to poor business.  Stella’s lease ran out and the building is being sold; LoLo’s had an unfortunate financial event right as it appeared poised to draw more customers than ever; and Bon Ton Cafe’s owner died unexpectedly and there was no plan to continue the business.  Fans of Stella who want to continue to dine Downtown may want to try Felicia Suzanne’s, McEwen’s, Encore, or Circa.

Yawn… boring day here.  Setting up a WordPress site so the inventor of the personal finance software I’m working on can write a blog.  Going through my College Logo Shopping sites and removing store categories that don’t have any items.  Transferring domain names from one GoDaddy account to the other.

I was invited to the CCC’s groundbreaking ceremony for Barboro Flats today, but decided not to go because it’s too cold outside.  Congratulations to them on getting that project, which will add almost 100 apartments and hundreds of parking spaces in the core, under way.

Plans for tonight:  Pint Nite, of course.

Is Stella closed?

I got an e-mail this morning from a reader saying that Saturday night was the final night for Stella, the elegant restaurant at Main and Monroe.  The e-mail stated that they are trying to negotiate a move to East Memphis.  Anyone got more details on this?  I know the Broadnax Building is up for sale, and I guess they weren’t able to negotiate a lease that would keep them there during and after the sale.  Sad to see them go… that makes three great restaurants on Monroe (Stella, LoLo’s Table, and Bon Ton Cafe) that we’ve lost in the past year.

Interesting CA article today: Triangle Noir

Marc Perrusqia’s article in the Commercial Appeal about Triangle Noir, Mayor Herenton’s proposal to redevelop the area south and east of the FedExForum, is a must-read for Downtowners.  20 blocks of Downtown stretching from Union to Crump would be redeveloped under this plan.

The Foote Homes and Cleaborn Homes housing projects would be demolished, with renters in those projects given Section 8 vouchers for private housing.  New development would include modern housing, a 300-room luxury hotel at Fourth and Linden, and possibly the expansion of the Beale entertainment district.

This could help clean up crime Downtown, as many of the area’s panhandlers list Foote and Cleaborn addresses when they get arrested.  Their arrests include not only panhandling charges, but car break-ins, burglaries, and drug charges.  Not nice people to have as neighbors.

However, I’d like to know if the Triangle Noir project will include the redevelopment of Abel and Allen Streets, two run-down streets to the south and east of Third, running from Vance to Butler.  These streets are not within housing projects, but they contain a mixture of flophouses and boarded-up low-rent apartments.  Many of Downtown’s panhandlers, scammers, and street criminals live there, and it is believed that other panhandlers go there to buy drugs.  Two houses on Abel were busted as crack houses a couple years back.  I hope Abel and Allen are within the 20-block redevelopment plan.  Wiping those two streets entirely off the map of Memphis would do a lot to curtail crime Downtown.

Read the article and draw your own conclusions.  I’m skeptical of anything King Willie does these days, but this looks like it could be one of his better ideas in the past several years.

Silly Goose open at 1 with $2.50 PBR for (22) Memphis vs. (unranked) Tennessee

The Silly Goose has informed me that they will be open at 1 PM Sat for people who want to watch the (22) Memphis vs. (unranked) Tennessee game.  Sound will be on.  They now have PBR on tap, $2.50 regular price or $1.50 during their 3 PM-8 PM happy hour Sunday through Thursday.

Sara will be bartending.

Quote from my friend and UT fan Frank:  “Bruce Pearl is a sexy man.  And you can blog that.”  OK then.  Frank’s comments do not represent the opinion of this blogger.  A certain former BFF of mine ought to be very disturbed.

Despite new places opening that serve pizza/flatbread (Majestic, Bluefin), I’ve held to my guns the past couple of years that the Black Diamond continues to have the best pizza Downtown.  Well, tonight I had a Silly Goose flatbread, the chicken alfredo one.  I need to try a couple more, but first impression is, the Diamond may finally get knocked off its perch.

Drunk.  Going to bed.

Friday update: Restaurant saving code, poop on exhibit, Downtown Alive, and other stuff

There’s a new promo code, SAVE, to save 70% at Restaurant.com, which sells gift certificates for many poplar Memphis restaurants, including about a dozen Downtown ones. Click the link, find your restaurants, and then enter the code at checkout to get $25 gift certificates, which they normally sell for $10, for only $3.

A new exhibit opens tomorrow at the Pink Palace: “The Scoop on Poop: What Animals Leave Behind.”  More about this exhibit at the Memphis Flyer’s site. Also, don’t forget to visit The Doo-Doo Store where you can learn a lot more about poop and purchase poop-related products.  (The Doo-Doo Store is not affiliated with the Pink Palace exhibit.)

If you want to be part of the Downtown Alive! 2009 series of events that showcase the arts, music, and creativity in a series of Downtown lunchtime events, fill out this application by February 20.  The Downtown Alive! program will run from April to June.

I went to Calhoun’s and played Buzztime Trivia for a couple of hours last night.  Sleep Out Louie’s regulars:  If you put “9WW” at the end of your PIN, you can play under your old SOL account.  I haven’t been able to find a way to transfer my home site (and my points) from Sleep Out Louie’s to Calhoun’s, because Buzztime no longer recognizes SOL as a valid location.  If anyone figures out a way to do this let me know.

In case you didn’t hear, the Grizzlies fired Marc Iavaroni this morning after he lost 15 of the last 17 games.  An assistant coach (Johnny Davis) will take over for 2 games, then former Grizz assistant coach Lionel Hollins will take the reins.  Hollins was popular here, and is currently an assistant coach with the Milwaukee Bucks.  He served as interim head coach of the Grizzlies twice before, during searches for new head coaches.

Undecided where to watch the #22/24 Memphis Tigers vs. unranked Tennessee Vols for tomorrow’s game.  I worry that Calhoun’s will be super crowded, to the point of being unable to move and bumping into a half dozen people on the way to the restroom.  I’ll figure it out tomorrow.

Bardog Tavern profiled in today’s “Dining Spotlight” in the CA

Jennifer Biggs, the Commercial Appeal’s food critic, wrote a fantastic article this morning profiling Bardog Tavern in her “Dining Spotlight” this morning.  She tried the Island Club Sandwich, now known as the Amazing Island Club Sandwich due to her review, and the cioppino (seafood stew).  She also interviewed some of the regulars and profiled chef Demetrie.

Check out the article if you live or work in the Downtown core.  Bardog’s food is far better than what you’d find at the average neighborhood bar.  If you work in the core, how about Bardog for lunch today?  They open at 11.

Response to “Downtown Downturn?” article and Memphis Flyer letter

I want to address an article that appeared in last week’s Memphis Flyer, and a followup letter that mentioned me that appeared in this week’s Flyer.

A week ago Tuesday, CCC president Jeff Sanford gave a “State of Downtown” speech at the monthly South Main Association meeting.  You can read a recap of his speech here. It was a GREAT speech and showed that Downtown will remain very strong through tough economic times, with lots of projects happening in all of Downtown’s neighborhoods.  Jeff even managed to change my mind about the Bass Pro/Pyramid project, and I now support it as the best available option.

About 5 days before his speech, I was contacted by an editorial intern at the Memphis Flyer, and was asked to do an interview to give a citizen’s point of view on the “State of Downtown.”  I called her back and she was wonderful to talk to – I figured I’d spend 10-15 minutes on the phone with her, but ended up spending 45.  Ironically, the part that was used in the eventual article – “Downtown Downturn?” – covered only about 2 of the 45 minutes I spent talking to her.  Let me list a few other things I covered in the “State of Downtown” as I saw it:

  • I told her that I moved down here 7 years ago.  When I first came down here, I thought the best thing about Downtown was that it was a walking neighborhood.  I could walk to AutoZone Park to see a ball game; I could walk to Beale Street; I could walk or trolley to South Main for their excellent Trolley Tours the last Friday of every month.
  • Since I got here, though, the thing I love most about Downtown has become the people.  I mentioned walking into the convenience store on Second and the cashiers know me by name; the great friends I’ve made down here, and in particular the trivia team and the BBQ Fest team I’ve become a part of; being able to walk into many restaurants and bars down here any time of day and running into people I know and like.  I stressed that Downtown is the friendliest neighborhood in Memphis, and that I wouldn’t live anywhere else.
  • I praised the Center City Commission for the tremendous effort they’ve done to make Downtown a showplace.  Their holiday parade and lighting program raised the bar for holiday celebrations by 1,000% down here.  I also praised Jeff’s and the CCC’s efforts for keeping Downtown safe through the private safety patrol, and their efforts for attracting new businesses to the area.
  • I also found out that my interviewer was a new Memphian, and was looking for a place to live.  I spent some time discussing the apartment buildings in the core and in South Main and recommended options that fit what she was looking for – affordability, safety, close to interesting things to do.  (She ended up getting a place in Midtown with roommates.  Can’t win ’em all, I guess.)
  • I praised the South Main Association on the fantastic job they have done, and how their membership has grown by leaps and bounds in the past year.

… And yes, she did ask me about the state of the economy, and I gave her an honest answer.  During the 2003-2007ish boom years, a lot of developers went for gold and built high-end condos down here.  Now we’re in a market where many people can’t get loans to buy those condos, and where some people who are already in those condos are losing their jobs or facing pay cuts, and risk being forced out.  That doesn’t mean all of Downtown is in a downturn – as Jeff reminded us in his speech, Downtown is still VERY strong with many, many new projects underway.

Rather, I think it’s a case where Downtown is still sorting out who will eventually end up living here.  It’s my opinion that developers will eventually see that while there are possibly too many high-end condos on the market down here, there are not enough rental units to meet demand, and more will be built.  That will lead to more diversity Downtown, as more teachers, artists, musicians, and people in the service industry will be able to afford to live here.

So anyway, about 4 PM yesterday I received a text that said “read page 4 of the Memphis Flyer.  You have a new title.”  I took a look, and a Flyer reader defending Downtown’s strength took a swipe at me for appearing bearish on Downtown’s prospects, calling me “world economist Paul Ryburn.”  I was actually getting a little upset until I saw the source: past DNA president Tommy Volnichak.  I haven’t paid DNA dues since 2005, but for some reason I still get the newsletters, and his President’s Messages in the 2007-08 letters have been controversial, divisive, petty, and sometimes downright bizarre.  Here’s a link to the archives – see for yourself.  The September and October 2008 issues are particuarly illustrative of his writing and leadership style.  He finished the October ’08 message by saying that Jesus gave a second chance to misguided souls like Muslims and Buddhists.  What business does a statement like that have in a neighborhood association newsletter?  Anyway, as soon as I saw that the Flyer letter came from Tommy, I laughed it off.  I haven’t taken him seriously for quite some time.

There was also a quote from “38103” on page 8 or 10 (I haven’t got a Flyer in front of me as I type this) that mentions bums, PBR, Jumper Cable Guy… exactly the kind of stuff I talk about on my blog.  I’m sure a lot of people think that quote came from me.  It didn’t.  Maybe the quote came from the guy who owns the 38103 domain, or the guy who makes 38103 T-shirts – both are friends of mine and were perhaps having a little fun at my expense.  However, given the timing of the quote, the same week as the letter appeared, I wonder if Tommy or one of his supporters sent it in.

Anyway, I just wanted to correct any ideas people may have taken away from the “Downturn?” article and Tommy’s letter… I think the state of Downtown is still strong, with new businesses, retail, and residents flocking to the area.  I love it down here and feel a sense of community I’ve never before felt in any neighborhood.  I’m proud to call Downtown Memphis my home, and I’m proud to spend my money here.

Silly Goose: more info

I went by Silly Goose last night and watched the first half of the Tiger game there and got more info about the place.  Here’s what I found out:

For happy hour, they take $1 off drafts.  That means Coors Light is $2.25 during happy hour and most other draft beers are $3.  I believe there are well drink and wine specials as well, but didn’t take good notes – sorry.  Will try and follow up on that next time I go back, probably today.  They opened at 5 (rather than 4 as I previously reported) and extended happy hour to 8 yesterday.

THE MOST IMPORTANT NEWS IN THIS POST:  One of the owners told me, “We’re getting PBR on draft.  We just couldn’t find any for opening day.  It’ll be $2.50 most of the time, $1.50 during happy hour.”

Other beers on tap:  Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan (or as Saucer regulars call it, Brittney Magnolia Southern Pecan), Lazy Magnolia Indian Summer, JW Dundee Honey Brown (to be removed in favor of PBR once the keg is done, so please drink that Honey Brown when you go in), Woodchuck Pear Cider, Coors Light, Blue Moon, Paulaner Hefeweizen, Lindeman’s Framboise, Stella Artois.  They have about 30 more beers in bottles.

Overview of their menu:

Appetizers:  Sausage and cheese plate is $12.29; other apps (baked ravioli, hummus, spinach dip) $6-7

Salads $6-8.50:  House, chef, chicken breast, chicken caesar

Flatbread pizzas $6.29-$7.50:  Garlic chicken, chicken alfredo, BBQ, sausage, pepperoni, “build your own” vegetarian

Soups:  $4.50 potato with bacon, chili, soup of the day

Paninis $6.99-$7.75:  roast beef, Italiano, chicken parmesan, Cafe (turkey, ham, roast beef), club, black forest ham, turkey & swiss

Desserts $3.99-4.99:  Cheesecake, tiramisu, creme brulee, gelato

Good crowd tonight, trending toward more of a local neighborhood live/work crowd than last night’s grand opening, a good thing.  Staff seems to be the best of Texas de Brazil, McGuinness, and 2006-07 Flying Saucer, also a good thing.

Sunday night Wii bowling league

There’s a Sunday night Wii bowling league being formed at the Voodoo Room in the basement of Orleans on Front.  Signup began today.  Go by the Voodoo Room – look for a downstairs entrance off 94 S. Front, between Union and Gayoso – to sign up.  Note that the bar doesn’t open until 8 PM (daily), so you’ll need to go by after that time.