I’ve Won Big in Sweepstakes, and You Can, Too


coconut palm trees at a tropical beach in Virgin Islands, the Caribbean
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So here’s my dirty little secret. I am a “sweeper,” as aficionados call it. Entering sweepstakes is a hobby for me and 55 million other Americans. But it’s a hobby that frequently pays off. I’ve won a Toyota Prius (affectionately called MA, short for “major award”), three trips to the Caribbean and one to space camp, jewelry, spa treatments, gift cards and cash. In fact, I just received an $100 gift card.

For hobbyists it is an undeniable thrill to win but what are the odds? Warren Buffett made news when Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B) insured the Quicken basketball bracket challenge with nine quintillion ways to fill a bracket and a $1 billion prize. No one won it. Odds of winning the famous Publishers Clearing House sweeps are only slightly better, the latest one with odds of 1.3 billion to one. These mega sweeps have worse odds than the Powerball lottery game.

For the rest of the story here’s the link http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/04/24/how-to-win-sweepstakes/


Happy Easter and Passover to one and all!

Wishing you a serene and meaningful holiday. My eldest daughter got baptized last night in a beautiful ceremony in PA. Drove seven hours round trip just to see it but it was worth it to see her happy. I know I usually write about personal finance and  two tanks of gas and two trips to Mickey D’s may seem like a waste to you but to me, it was priceless.

One thing personal finance writers never seem to cover are the ineffable, important, memorable rituals and ceremonies we all have to and want to enjoy. These things, like tithing, charity donations, gifts to family, are must-includes when it comes to a budget.

There are ways to save but sometimes, every single penny is worth a once in a lifetime experience.

Bazinga! Genius Money Lessons from The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon, Howard, Leonard, Raj, Amy, Bernadette and Penny — the quirky geniuses of “The Big Bang Theory,” Nielsen’s No. 1 comedy — are always funny, but especially in teaching us what not to do about money.

Money Can Buy You Love — But Only for a Bit

Howard learns this lesson when he falls for Penny’s gold digger friend and uses all his bar mitzvah bonds to buy her presents. When the bonds run out, so does she (“The Dumpling Paradox,” season one episode seven). In “The Wiggly Finger Catalyst” (season five, episode four), Rajesh Koothrappali is torn when his traditional Indian (and “Scrooge McDuck”-rich) parents insist he choose between his non-Indian girlfriend and his generous allowance. Raj, the eternal romantic, chooses love and tells her she has to return all his expensive gifts. She chooses to leave poor Raj.

In “The Rothman Disintegration” (season five, episode 17), Amy wants Penny to be her bestie so she spends thousands on a huge and creepy portrait of them. Penny hates it. Eventually, Amy finds out the truth but also learns she never needed to buy Penny’s friendship.

Neither a Borrower Nor a Sheldon Be

For the rest of the story http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/04/18/bazinga-6genius-money-lessons-big-bang-theory/#!slide=2128995

Dogs of the Dow:Mongrels or Man’s Best Friends?

Originally published on AOL Daily Finance For the rest of the story http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/04/07/dogs-of-the-dow-investing-strategy-dividend-yield/

The “Dogs of the Dow” theory involves buying equal amounts of the 10 Dow stocks that had the highest dividend-to-price ratio during the previous full year. It has become a popular investing strategy thanks to its simplicity, and for the first three months of 2014, the best of the Dogs have outperformed the S&P 500. But not everyone thinks it’s a Best of Breed technique.

Drawbacks Among the Mangy Curs

First, let’s clarify this strategy. Plenty of stocks pay dividends — money you get just for owning them on payout days. If the dividend amounts to a relatively high percentage of the stock price, that’s an indicator that the shares may be undervalued — and thus poised to rise.

This year, the 10 are AT&T (T), Chevron (CVX), Cisco Systems (CSCO), General Electric (GE), Intel (INTC), McDonald’s (MCD), Merck (MRK), Microsoft (MSFT), Pfizer (PFE) and Verizon (VZ).

Telecom stocks like AT&T and Verizon tend to show up in the Doghouse year after year mainly because they are traditional high-yielding “widows and orphans” stocks with dividend yields of 5.25 percent and 4.46 percent, respectively.

People expect the Dogs to outperform the overall market. Some years — like last year — they do. However, the 2013 group results were skewed by the performance of one stock, Hewlett Packard (HPQ), which doubled. Most of the other Dog stocks were down on the year or had single-digit percentage rises. In 2012, some of the Dogs jumped through their hoops like champions, but among the other 20 Dow components were stocks like Bank of America (BAC) and Home Depot (HD), which soared too. Originally published on AOL Daily Finance For the rest of the story http://www.dailyfinance.com/2014/04/07/dogs-of-the-dow-investing-strategy-dividend-yield/