When free isn’t too good to be true…  McDonald’s coffee:


Bottom Line:  McDonalds has been taking its coffee seriously for awhile now.  If you haven’t adapted already they’re going to try to convert you:


  • Starting today (3-31) for two weeks McDonalds is offering free 12oz coffee to all breakfast customers

No strings just coffee from the McCaffe.  So what about refills?


  • While all locations will offer free coffee refills on the free coffee are up to each location to decide

Many are saying that this is in response to Taco Bell’s move into breakfast.  That may well be the case but everyone is taking breakfast seriously as fast food traffic has been dropping for lunch and dinner while rising for breakfast.  The breakfast fast food wars are on & that should be good for us as consumers…  So far I’m lovin’ it!


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Times have changed but the economic benefit of buying local hasn't:


Bottom Line:  Over the years I’ve cited a research study I was part of with the US Chamber of Commerce in the early 2000’s (when I still owned and operated a small business). The study demonstrated that a dollar spent at a local business touched many more hands before it left the community than a dollar spent at a national company.  Times have changed quite a bit over the past 13 or so years but the power of buying local hasn’t.


Last year a group called Local First Utah teamed up with the American Booksellers Association on an economic impact study.  They found the following:


  • 55% of money spent at a local business stayed in the community



  • 14% of money spent at a national business stayed local

This isn’t to say that if you don’t shop at a local company you’re a bad person or you’re doing something wrong.  But it should serve as a reminder that if you have a good local option you might consider shopping there a little more frequently.  Your local community will benefit more from the business. 


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The key to your kids getting the jobs that your friend’s kids aren't:


Bottom Line:  There are many reasons why the underemployment rate is highest among the youngest in today’s society. That doesn’t mean that millennials are doing all of the right things and are just victims of circumstance. 


According to the New York Federal Reserve… 


  • The underemployment rate for college grads one year out is 44%!


That’s only 5% better than two years ago.  So what gives? In a separate study from Adecco…


  • 75% of hiring managers said that millennial jobs candidates don’t dress appropriately for the interview

75%!  That’s a huge number.  So the biggest first step towards your kids getting a leg up in the workforce is to have them dress for the job interview.  Remember the old rule about dressing for the job.  Guess what would be appropriate and take it up one notch.  Always better to be a little overdressed than underdressed as is evidenced here…


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Why I invest American companies: 


Bottom Line:  I’ve shared my basic tenets of investing.  One of them for me personally is to only invest in companies that are based in the US.  So why limit myself to just what this countries' companies have to offer? 


I have a few reasons (and yes Americana does factor in a bit) but the driving force behind it is transparency. 


The SEC (not that one), the Securities and Exchange Commission, certainly doesn’t catch everything that goes wrong under the hood of American companies.  They do a great job however, of mandating enough reporting for astute investors to be able to detect if something isn’t right.  Which I’ve found on many occasions with certain companies over the years.  Most countries, especially in developing nations, don’t have anywhere near the mandated reporting of the United States.  That can lead to problems.  Take Chinese companies for example:


  • Since 2011 40 Chinese companies whose companies are traded in the US have been involved in fraud investigations



  • Over the last five years the average return of a Chinese company traded in the US is about 20% compared to an average 120% for American companies

That’s not to say there aren’t terrific opportunities elsewhere but I’m one to play the odds and seek as much personal control over the outcome as possible.  That’s the biggest factor in my choice to invest in American companies. 


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Distracted driving accidents continue to grow with cell use:


Bottom Line:  Despite tougher laws and increased awareness more than a quarter of all accidents are due to distracted cell phone use according to the National Safety Council’s latest report. All told:


  • 26% of all accidents in 2013 were a result of distracted driving via cell phone use

Now you might be inclined to think that texting is the biggest demon but it’s not:


  • Just 5% of cell phone distracted driving accidents were the result of texting

So it’s the good old fashioned talking on the phone that’s the biggest culprit.  This one’s on us.  We have to realize for ourselves if our activity is distracting our ability to drive as well as we need too.  It’s a problem that’s only growing despite tougher traffic laws and enforcement. 

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If you're to receive a pension from a company there is much better news:


Bottom Line:  I’m still no fan of pension plans.  They’re far less secure than a retirement account with your name on it that won’t be affected if your former employer goes bankrupt.  That being said I always want you to receive the benefits that you’re promised as a term of employment.  We have better news on the corporate pension front. 


Prior to the Great Recession corporate pensions were more than fully funded:


  • In 2007 corporate pensions were 103% funded

However the recession took their toll and by the end of 2012:


  • Corporate pensions were just 78% funded


2013 turned out to be a terrific year and right now:


  • Corporate pensions are an average of 91% funded

So we’re still showing a shortfall but a good deal of progress has been made of the past year.  It’s also far better than state and local government pensions which are under 70% funded. 


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