Cheat Sheet Q & A:

Today’s topic:  Stolen cells phones

The entry:  This would be to inform anyone thinking of stealing a cell phone. It is really useless to steal a cell phone these days for people out there that do. My daughter and I were in Marshalls in Royal Palm Beach, on Wednesday night around 8:15 to do some shopping. My daughter sat her cell phone down by the clothes we were trying on. I went into dressing room.  She walked away from her phone all of 4 minutes and then a girl about 25 years of age with long brown hair sat near phone and swiped it. It was all on video provided by Marshall’s security to sheriffs. Marshalls was great to us. They do have security cameras throughout the store. Immediately after it happened managers even helped look for phone. The girl and her friend were in line and actually watched my daughter panic. The phone is now blocked and it is never going to work for her.

Bottom Line:  It’s an unfortunate reminder about how quickly theft can and does occur.  We will forget that often our phone is worth hundreds of dollars when we set it down and take our eye off of it.  We wouldn’t set eight $100 dollar bills down on a counter for example (yet that’s what high end smart phones cost).  This is also a reminder that any phone reported as stolen is unusable on any service network in the United States.  So the phone is useless aside from accessing information stored on the phone.  That also serves as a reminder to be judicious of the info you store on your phone or device incase of theft occurring.  Stolen phones can be used on networks outside of the United States (hopefully that doesn’t occur in this case).

 

If you have a topic or question you’d like me to address email me:  brianmudd@clearchannel.com

 

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Millions returned to equity in 2013 – perhaps you did too!:

 

Bottom Line:  A year ago nearly 14 million American home owners were still underwater on their mortgages.  That was down from the peak of 20+ million but still more than 20% of all outstanding mortgages were upside down.  According to Zillow’s analytics…

 

  • 4 million Americans regained equity in their mortgages in 2013
  • That brought the total number of households upside down to 9.8 million (first time under 10 million since 2008)
  • The percentage of mortgages upside down is also under 20% for the first time since 2008

 

So if you think you’re still underwater you may be pleasantly surprised.  It’s worth looking into if you would make a property decision based on your home’s equity position. 

 

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Need a billion dollars or so?  Try Kickstarter:

 

Bottom Line:  It’s true that obtaining a business loan from a traditional lender is more difficult to obtain than in years past.  It’ also true that more than half of newly created businesses will fail.  But there are plenty of newer benefits as well.  The internet has changed the way you can access new markets and target your potential customers and crowd funding is reaching a point of critical mass that will surely power future billion dollar enterprises.  Speaking of a billion dollars…

 

Kickstarter has now passed the $1 billion dollar mark in money that has been raised via the crowd funding site since it’s creation in April of 2009.  Since that time:

 

  • 5.7 million people have contributed money to projects on Kickstarter
  • People from 224 countries contributed
  • $663 million has come from Americans

 

You truly have to opportunity to create a business plan / profile and attempt to capture the imagine of people from around the world.  It’s also worth noting that more than half of the billion was raised within the last year.  In other words while it took nearly 5 years for Kickstarter to reach the $1 billion funding mark, we may see another billion in funding this year alone. 

 

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When it comes to investing we're the most nervous in the developed world:

 

Bottom Line:  I’m not sure what’s happened to us.  The not-so-secret sauce to the success of the US has been entrepreneurship and investment.  It’s the reason why the US became the world’s economic leader in about 150 years.  Something has happened to us and it’s time to get our butt’s back into gear.  Why am I saying this?

 

Schroder’s (a world-wide investment firm with more than $400 billion in money managed for clients) surveyed investors and would be investors from around the world.  The results are sad for Americans.  Of all developed countries in the world Americans were the least confident and optimistic when asked to asses the future. 

 

  • Just 37% of Americans were positive for the future of investment and opportunity

 

Conversely:

 

  • 76% of Indonesians and Japanese investors are positive
  • 83% of Thailand’s investors are positive

 

And the most optimistic investors in the world:

 

  • 90% of India’s investors have a positive view for the future

 

Look I’m not one to move forward with blind optimism.  I also am keenly aware of the political challenges and obstacles that we’re saddled with in the United States but that’s no excuse for losing the qualities that made this country great (and wealthy I might add).  If we lose our optimism we’ll certainly lose our position not only as the world’s largest economy but also most innovative.  Take a look at the Japanese optimism.  The Japanese economy hasn’t been in a good place since Reagan was still President and yet they still see opportunity. 

 

So I’ve made a decision myself…  I’ve been vacillating about creating a site for individuals to be able to tap into my research and obtain investment ideas.  I’m deciding to move forward with the service this year and will look to roll it out in the second half of this year.  There are always good opportunities.  It’s just about finding them. 

 

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Get the best deal of the year on these items in March:

 

Bottom Line:  Consumer Reports has a new monthly feature…  The items that are the best to buy in each month to obtain the cheapest price.  So what’s a great deal in March? 

 

  • Digital Cameras
  • Humidifiers
  • Clothing from Kohl’s, Marshall & TJ Maxx
  • Small consumer electronics like music players, accessories for electronic devices and Blue Ray players
  • And yes if you still are looking for an HDTV there are still great deals according to CR in March

 

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The way we shop has changed dramatically:

 

Bottom Line:  A decade ago most people shopped in many different businesses during the course of any given year.  Once upon a time we’d go from store to store looking for good deals.  That’s all changing.  According to Forrester Research we’re shopping at fewer different companies than ever before:

 

  • Just 13% of people shopped in 11 or more businesses in 2013
  • Just 27% of us shopped in 6 to 10 stores last year
  • About 60% of us shopped in 5 or fewer stores last year (a remarkable 13% only shopped in one store)

 

So this means the following:

 

  • It’s harder than ever before for new retail businesses to get on a customers radar
  • It’s more important than ever before for retail businesses to super-sever the customers they do have to ensure they retain them

 

On the plus side…

 

  • It also means that each customer is potentially worth more than ever before since they are shopping at fewer businesses
  • Small businesses have the ability to use the digital platforms of companies like Amazon.com, EBay & Groupon to reach the portals that many customers are buying from more exclusively

 

And that’s really the name of the game.  Price, convenience, service but also engaging the platforms that people are shopping from on a more regular basis. 

 

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