Shout-out to all seven Financial Uproar readers. Last week was the best week in this little ol’ blog’s history. Special thanks to Nelson’s dad, who rigged up an ingenious high-tech way to refresh constantly, thereby increasing pageviews:

tripled-my-productivity

Each year, around this time, I suggest what should be the only rational gift giving exchange scheme among adults who are gainfully employed. Instead of exchanging $50 presents with each other, do nothing instead.

See how much simpler that is? Phew. You’re done already.

The internet has made holiday shopping easier than ever, but that doesn’t mean it’s fun. It’s anything but fun. I’ve got to actually pay attention to the whatever my wife thinks she wants (a list that changes practically daily) and then buy her something from said list that she would still like to have. But since I view our finances as one combined unit, all I’m really doing is using our money to buy her a gift that she really doesn’t want that badly or else she would have bought it on her own.

Each year, come November, I intentionally put off buying stuff for two months so I can give people Christmas gift options. And each year I get maybe a third of the things I wanted because my family likes to surprise me. The problem is they’re not that good at surprises. They get things right enough to be in the proper gift neighborhood, but it’s just not really what I want.

My favorite was the year I bought my grandparents a $50 Loblaw’s gift card and they bought me a $50 Wal-Mart gift card. We had a good chuckle over that one.

Anyway, Christmas presents suck and you should never give them. Except to kids. That’s alright.

Links I liked

1. Let’s start things off with my new favorite thing ever, a copy of Wal-Mart’s 1972 annual report I found online. This thing is amazing. Look! They’ve expanded to FIVE states! Sales hit 78 million dollars! There were 51 stores!

These days, there are 66 Wal-Marts in the Phoenix area alone, just to put things in perspective.

2. Finally! Something interesting from Reddit. I know, I’m too hard on Reddit. It’s pretty okay. Anyhoo, here’s an AMA (ask me anything) from someone who used to work at Investors Group. It’s interesting stuff for most any investor. And then go check out how I almost got a job with that particular company.

3. Useful advice from Half Banked, who tells you how to get your credit card’s annual fee waived. One of the big reasons why I’ve never bothered to upgrade from my 15+ year old card is a reluctance to pay a fee, so it was a helpful post.

4. Over at Seeking Alpha, Ian Bezek points out that just because Castro died, Cuba still isn’t an worthy investment. Vanessa keeps asking me to go to Cuba with her, and I keep declining. If we reward the communists, they’ll NEVER LEARN.

5. Over at Freedom Thirty-Five Blog, Liquid tackles the ol’ sunk cost problem. When should you take a loss? It’s one of the toughest questions in all of finance.

Fun fact: he makes fun of Nortel in his post, for obvious reasons. I once owned Nortel stock, back in 2003 or so when I first started investing. I sold about six weeks later for a 30% gain. I am a God amongst mere mortals.

6. Here’s a post from Mixed Up Money that argues good debt doesn’t exist. Those of you who have been reading me for a while know I completely disagree with the notion that all debt is bad. But the one thing I’ve come to realize is that borrowing to invest is a useless skill for someone who doesn’t know what free cash flow is. If you’re struggling to save for a down payment or a vacation or whatever, avoiding debt is a good idea. In other words, walk before you run.

7. Nice post from Martin over at Studenomics, who points out you first need active income before you can get passive income. Now if only Martin would get a haircut, he’d pretty much be a perfect man.

8. Here’s an interview with Mitt Romney about stuff other than politics. REAL TALK: I really like Mitt. Remember how liberals thought he was the anti-Christ back in 2012? Now they love him.

9. By now, you’ve probably heard of the whole Air Miles scandal. The TL;DR version is this: the company was going to make it so miles not used within a certain time frame would expire. Collectors got mad, because obvs. Then Air Miles backed down. Rob Carrick weighs in, calling it a ‘bogus victory.’ It’s a good summary of the whole thing.

10. Have you ever wondered about the business behind those companies that charge for Facebook likes or Twitter followers? Great article from New Republic that takes an in-depth look at one such company in the Philippines.

Stuff Nelson wrote

As a reminder, you can hire me to write for your blog, newspaper, or poorly-Xeroxed newsletter. Hit the ol’ contact me page to get the ball rolling. 

1. Let’s start with an article from Motley Fool, where I took a closer look at seeing whether focusing on companies with high insider ownership rates would lead to better returns.

2. At Sustainable Personal Finance, I outline a really easy way to save enough money for your next vacation. Well, assuming hooking is off the table. But it’s never really off the table.

3. I blew off the dust at the ol’ Canadian Value Investing blog, posting about High Liner Foods, a company I think might be a decent investment opportunity.

Tweet of the week

Have a good week, everyone.

Tell everyone, yo!