Category Archives: Financial Advice

‘Tis the Season for…Taxes? 7 Tips to Prepare for the Inevitable

It’s that time of year once again, fellow taxpayers. Time to listen to the endless drone of Christmas music, time to fret over what to give whom, time to blow fuse or two on your home’s electrical grid trying to outdo the neighbor’s light show, time to see if you will trigger the AMT this year.

Yes, the Holiday Season is upon us once again, and, as if we didn’t have enough on our plates (both literally and figuratively), the remaining 20 days of December represent the final countdown to a manmade deadline for making and executing any personal and corporate decisions which may have a direct impact upon how much tribute one wishes to voluntarily report and render to their local and federal tax farm.

What might those decisions entail? Or, more precisely, what can I do (within the confines of the income tax code, of course) to lower my 2014 income tax burden?

2014 IRS Estimated Payment form
Is the IRS on your Christmas list?

The answers to the above questions are truly personal, as tax advice, like medical advice, depends entirely upon the individual’s history, present circumstances, and future plans. Here at The Mint, we highly recommend consulting with a qualified income tax professional that can sit down and give one a proper assessment of their situation and help them plan now in order to take the proper steps to help minimize their current and future tax burden.

Here are 7 tips to help you and your tax professional prepare your 2014 income tax return and, more importantly, estimate your tax liability while you are still in 2014 and can theoretically do something about it:

  1. Gather state and federal returns from the prior two years: This will give your tax professional a baseline, if you will, of your income tax situation and let them know, often at a glance, what steps can be taken to help minimize your liability.
  2. Think about any life changes you have had in 2014: Did you get married? Have a baby? Send a child off to college? Sell or refinance a home? Relocate for work? All of these actions, and many more, may have an impact on your tax bill.
  3. Gather documentation to support income and deductions: This may seem basic, but why not prepare for a potential IRS audit before it happens? Maintain any W-2s, 1099s, Investment account statements, and documentation related to deductions such as charitable donations, mortgage interest statements, and child care expenses and keep them in a file along with the corresponding tax returns. Viola! Should the IRS call you, you at least have something to back up your numbers.
  4. Know the basis of your stocks: If you own corporate or mutual fund shares, a very important data point in terms of tax preparation is how much was paid for it. As many people hold shares for relatively long time horizons, it is best to keep a running file that is updated with each purchase. Your broker should be able to get this information for you if you have not kept track of this to date.
  5. Measure your home office: The home office deduction is taboo in some circles as it is seen as a red flag for audits. However, if you legitimately have a home office, you could be leaving a decent amount of money on the table if you do not take it.
  6. Contribute to qualified retirement accounts: If you have extra money and sense that you may be staring a tax liability in the face, consider funding an IRA or contributing more to a 401(k) plan before year-end.
  7. Consult a trusted tax professional: As we stated before, everybody’s situation is unique when it comes to income taxes. While everyone has to file income taxes, we each have our own, unique financial fingerprint. A trusted tax professional can help you not only catch missed deductions now, they can help you to plan for future events that, if not properly planned for, could trigger large income tax liabilities.

In the midst of overeating, overspending, and generating outrageous electric bills in the name of the Holidays be sure to take a moment to consult a trusted tax professional. Who knows? Making a few of the right moves now may just pay for some of those Holiday bills come April.

Are you Street Smart?

10/24/2014 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Are you teachable and willing to learn new things?  Are you interested in making better financial decisions? Are you interested in making more money? Then you may just be ready for Business Street Smarts.  What is Business Street Smarts?  According to the marketing copy, it is a program which will allow us to 1) Know our Finances, 2) be Efficient, 3) Control our taxes, and 4) Prevent Fraud.  What business owner wouldn’t be interested in these skills?

Best of all, it is a fireside chat with a former colleague or ours, none other than Mike Field, CPA, JD.  For those who don’t do acronyms, he is an accountant and a lawyer.  Despite these handicaps, Mike is a fun guy, and rivals Tom Cruise in the category of person producing the most dental glare when they smile.  Here he is laying out the virtues of Business Street Smarts:

We have just completed the first audio portion of the downloadable MP3 series, which is a lesson in establishing “hooks” for memory retrieval.  In this section, Field shows you how to organize Information in your mind so that you can instantly retrieve it.  He employs a unique teaching technique to achieve this goal.  The technique seems basic, and it is.  The jest of it is to use the familiar and join it, mentally, with the unfamiliar.

At the end of the first day, we are aware that we will do the following over the course of the next 15 days in terms of sections:

1) Build a Foundation of Primary Financial Statements, Balance Sheets, Income Statements
2) Learn how to analyze these statements
3) Understand Business Taxes and the interplay with one’s personal taxes
4) Learn how to detect and prevent Fraud, as well as some basics in bookkeeping

However, all we know at this point is our way around an unfamiliar house with some incredibly strange things involving Olympic gymnasts, Count Dracula, and a cat happening in the front yard, on the porch, and in the living room.  Yet somehow, it all makes sense.  Will it translate into better financial and business decisions for The Mint?  Stay tuned.

If you are as intrigued as we are and want to learn more, visit: for more information on this unique and entertaining program.

And by the way, don’t believe the hype on deflation, for the debt based monetary system cannot tolerate it.  The economy is going gangbusters, and will continue to until further notice.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for October 24, 2014

Copper Price per Lb: $3.06
Oil Price per Barrel (WTI):  $81.01

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.53
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.27%
Bitcoin price in US:  $358.50
FED Target Rate:  0.09%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,231

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.9%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  16,805
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,747,700,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,514,900,000,000

What to do if You are Laid Off in Portland, Oregon Circa 2014

10/22/2014 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Approximately one year ago, we had the good fortune of being laid off from our most recent employer of seven years.  We say good fortune as the first time this happened to us, after seven years at our first employer (on September 10, 2001, which is a story for another day) it marked the beginning of what continues to be the greatest adventure of our lives.

Staying in one place is comfortable, one knows what to expect, what to do, more or less what the rules are.  It is easy to see why many people get a job and then go on autopilot for 30 years.  However, staying in one place is also dangerous in that one runs the risk of stagnating to the point that they unwittingly join the ranks of the walking dead.

Humans desire to be comfortable, but it is only to the extent that they are uncomfortable that there is any hope for them.  Margie Warrell, writing at Forbes, sums up this sentiment well in her April 2013 article, Why Getting Comfortable with Discomfort is Crucial to Success.

If you have just been laid off, you are likely uncomfortable, which is good, because there is hope for you.  There will be time for that hope to blossom and trust us, it will.  However, if you have just been laid off from a long time employer, chances are that what you feel at the moment is intense discomfort laced with panic.  This is normal, and should drive you to take decisive action.

Flag of Portland Oregon
Laid off in Portlandia? Here’s what to do!

What should that action be?  As a public service here at The Mint, we are offering a series of steps that were applicable to our situation in Portland, Oregon, circa 2014.  They may or may not be useful and/or accessible to you depending upon your situation, and are not to be taken as any manner of legal/financial/tax or any other sort of advice.

With that disclaimer out of the way, we hope to guide others and save them some time and confusion in navigating the system of public support available in the Willamette Valley.

One last caveat, the following list is comprised primarily of public resources.  At this moment in time, faced with losing a primary source of income, it is unlikely that one’s political ideology will stand in the way of taking advantage of the resources available to them.  If you find yourself struggling at all with this, be reminded that these public resources are absolutely necessary given the broken monetary system that we live in.  Indeed, the use of debt as money and the economic distortions it causes every day is likely the indirect cause of your present circumstance.  Acknowledging this fact should put to rest any hesitations about whether or not to apply for public assistance, not matter what your present circumstance.

  1. Unemployment Insurance: The first thing we recommend, unless you have a job that you will start within the next 5 days, is to file an unemployment claim against Oregon here: if you were working in Oregon and laid off (not fired with cause), you should have no problem qualifying.  The reason not to delay this step is that you have the right to claim the first day you are out of work and have to wait a week before you can claim a week of benefits.  They last for six months and are usually ~$500 per week on the high end as of this writing. Even if you were fired for cause, you may still qualify for unemployment insurance.  Oregon is generous in this sense and many employers are paying for it in the form of an employment tax anyway and will encourage you to take it.

Do not delay on this step!  Call the same day you are dismissed, otherwise you are literally leaving money on the table.

The next two steps may or may not apply to one’s specific circumstance as they are income qualified programs which take into consideration other income sources that a household may have.  If you and your household have no other income source, bear in mind that you are below many of the income thresholds as of the day you were laid off and are likely to qualify based on the current circumstance.  This is important, because certain programs, such as SNAP, last for six months before you have to recertify income.  At that point, you will be employed (we here at The Mint believe in you!), but in the meantime, you get a six month stipend

2.  SNAP (Food Stamps):  They usually will give these within a week as they are considered essential.  It is scaled on income and you qualify the minute your income drops below a certain level based on the number of people in your household.  Below is the website to apply through if applicable:

3.  OHP (Obamacare): If you qualify for SNAP, you are likely to qualify for OHP, Oregon’s version of Medicaid, which is basically free health insurance thanks to Obamacare.  The website is here:

In some cases, enrolling in SNAP will automatically qualify you for coverage, which is nice, because by this time, you may be getting sick of pulling together all of your personal data and submitting it to a government agency that will no doubt be hacked.This step is important as, once qualified, you will not have to pay COBRA or a private health insurance.  The coverage may not be great, and, depending upon how much you use your health insurance, it may be best to stick with the current provider, but if all you need is peace of mind on this front, it will save a chunk of change.

4.  Housing Assistance:  Depending upon your housing situation, there may be rent or mortgage assistance which you now, overnight, have become eligible for.  They can be a pain to apply and take a while to kick in (if they do at all), but may be worth it if they do.  Here is a list of resources in Oregon:

The above four steps are “defensive,” now for the job search, or “offensive” side, assuming you will be looking for a job, at least for the short term until your next movie deal comes through.

  1. Networking:  There are a number of networking opportunities that any job seeker or small business owner would be wise to attend from time to time. Attending these events will not only give you something to do other than surf the internet for jobs, it will inevitably encourage you to see you are not alone.  You may even be inspired.  One of the best in Portland is Portland Connect, you can request an invite here: They host a number of popular events and is a nice and efficient way to get to know some people who are there to mutually help each other.  The group drives home an oddity that we have found to be true in Portland, that it is a town where you must network face-to-face.  Portland Connect is a great place to do just that.
  2. Recruiters: If your profession is in such demand that it can support a recruiting industry, reach out to them, as they are literally in the business of finding you a job.  In Finance and Accounting, which happens to be our industry, we recommend Robert Half.  There are many others as that are industry specific.  Find them, call them, they will help.
  3. As for internet job searching: For the most part, applying online, while giving a strange sense of accomplishment, is akin to sending a message in a bottle. Chances are it will never get read and, if it does, the chances of it reaching the intended recipient at the right time may be slim.  It is always best to call someone at the company if possible to at least know you are not sending an “SOS to the world.”  Nevertheless, there are some sites which tend to be more responsive than others.  We seemed to have the most luck in terms of response from Craigslist posting, and Mac’s List: which is specifically targeted towards non-profits, our present area of expertise.  Idealist: also has good leads in terms of non-profits.   Generally speaking, we had little luck with large companies and wasted a lot of time on their sites applying, though it can be good practice.
  4. Friends and Family: Now is the time to reach out rather than retract.  Theoretically, your friends and family are another set of eyes and ears on the ground and generally be willing to assist you in your plight if it is within their means.  Reach out to the great brother and sisterhood of mankind, for we were made to help each other.  Indeed, disinterested service to others is the sure path to happiness.  Just remember to lend a hand when you are on the other side as well!

There are innumerable resources out there which may or may not apply to your situation.  We provide those listed above as a public service, for they were pearls of wisdom that we had to grasp for mostly in the dark, if it sheds the light on someone else’s way as they walk the path of unemployment, the time spent compiling it has been well worth it.

Above all, stay encouraged!  The US economy is going gangbusters and you have a place in it, it may require relocating, training, and generally becoming uncomfortable.

Get used to it, for you are now being asked to play a larger part of the long story of human progress. Embrace it.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for October 22, 2014

Copper Price per Lb: $3.02
Oil Price per Barrel (WTI):  $80.42

Corn Price per Bushel:  $3.53
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.23%
Bitcoin price in US:  $383.00
FED Target Rate:  0.09%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,241

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  5.9%
Inflation Rate (CPI):   0.1%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  16,461
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,815,400,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $11,513,000,000,000

Entrevista con Mel Lagomasino de WE Family Offices

Hoy presentamos The Mint en Español con motivo de compartir una entrevista muy importante con Mel Lagomasino, una mujer que sabe algo de inversiones y la gestión de grandes patrimonios.

Ya puedes leer más acerca de los credenciales impresionantes de Mel Lagomasino en la página de sus servicios de Family Office:

WE Family Offices

En la entrevista que se puede ver en versión complete abajo, Mel abarca temas interesantes con franqueza. Entre ellos:

-Como preservar el dinero, como ganar el dinero, y como separar la vida personal de la vida empresarial de la familia.

-Lo que es un Mapping y por que es importante

-La diferencia entre ahorrar e invertir

Hay también unas frases y pautas claves compartidas, por ejemplo:

– Diversificar activos si uno quiere preservar el capital

-Los grandes patrimonios se ganan por la concentración, y se conservan por la diversificación.

-Es importante reflexionar en donde uno quiere llegar y cuando con su patrimonio y imponer una estrategia de inversión de acuerdo con este deseo.  Una vez impuesta, es aún más importante mantener la estrategia pese a los cambios temporales en el mercado.

-Que tengo?  Que es lo que me cuesta dinero? Que es lo que me gana dinero?

-Hay que separar lo acumulado por cubos e asignarlos un valor monetario.

-Empresa operativa = Crecer el capital

-Empresa patrimonial = Conservar el capital acumulado

Es importante la distinción  entre que tipo de empresa conviene porque hay que separar los intereses de los miembros de la familia quienes quieren seguir creciendo el capital de los a quienes no tienen interés en aportar al negocio.

-Hay que entender bien a los asuntos financieros y fiscales.

-Establecer la sucesión y comunicar/conversarlo.  La conexión entre el dinero y el amor está muy fuerte.

La entrevista termina con las reglas de oro de Mel Lagomasino:

-Ten un propósito

-No invierte en algo que no entiendes

-Entiende las emociones involucradas

-Maneja los costos que se pueden comer la rentabilidad

La entrevista reveladora, “Invertir: ¿Por Dónde Empezar?” se puede ver a continuación en YouTube.  Disfruta de la entrevista e intenta poner en práctica algunos de sus consejos. Sobre todo, irespectivo del tamaño de tu patrimonio, comienza a vivir e invertir bien!


Fine Wine Investing – The London International Vintners Exchange

11/04/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

For those of you who thought we had forgotten to complete our mini-series on Fine Wine Investing, we admit that we nearly did.  Between the excitement of Halloween and painstakingly formatting the print version of our Economic and Philosophical Treatise, a proper completion of the Fine Wine series nearly escaped the steel trap of our mind, until today!

Throughout this series, we have dabbled into a world that, for a time, appeared to be the playground of those with a penchant for refinement or those with enough money to appear refined.  After all, mustn’t one have an intimate knowledge of the Bordeaux region and at least have heard of Robert Parker;s nose before daring to invest in Fine Wines, an asset class which not only carries principal risk, but the risk of direct consumption?

Today, thanks to the world’s leading electronic exchange for fine wines, the Liv-ex, price discovery is now within grasp of the commoner.

The London International Vintners Exchange, or Liv-ex, is like COMEX for Fine Wine.  Since is was established in 1999, it has performed an important public service, as do all exchanges, it allows the commoner a peek into the most recently discovered price points for certain vintages, which can greatly aid them as they begin their adventure in Fine Wine Investing.

Understanding the Liv-ex is crucial to today’s serious Fine Wine Investor.  The following are excerpts from a recent report on the market.  Enjoy!

THE LIV-EX and the Financial Markets

Liv-Ex, London International Vintners Exchange, is the world’s one and only leading electronic exchange for fine wines, based in London, UK. Founded in 1999, Liv-Ex provides a marketplace and online platform for wine merchants, traders and brokers to trade wines freely and easily, just as it is done by equity stockbrokers.

Liv-Ex FEW Compared to other methods of fine wine procurement, such as auction houses, the main difference is that not everyone can trade on the Liv-Ex wine platform; only registered wine professionals/experts who have a proven track record in the industry are able to place bids (buy) and offers (sell) on the platform.

Only investment grade and blue-chip fine wines are traded on the Liv-Ex platform. Moreover, unlike auctions, no antique or collectible items are traded. Therefore, the majority of trades carried out on Liv-Ex are for French wines, usually from the highest rated vintages, mainly the more recent ones.

The Liv-Ex online wine platform also publishes its own price indices based on the amount of transactions made and has developed further into becoming the leading information source for fine wines; current prices, price fluctuations, historical stock data and the fine wine market in general.

Like any exchange, the Liv-ex has also produced a series of indices, which allow the casual observer to gauge the performance of the overall market for fine wines at a glance.  It is these indices that give us the  means to compare the Fine Wine Market’s performance with that of other major asset classes.  The results may surprise you.

The following are the Liv-Ex Fine Wine Indices:

• Liv-Ex Fine Wine 50 Index

• Liv-Ex Fine Wine 100 Index

• Liv-Ex Fine Claret Chip Index

• Liv-Ex Fine Wine Investables Index

• Liv-Ex Fine Wine 500 Index

The Liv-Ex 100 Index is the fine wine industry’s leading benchmark index and even listed on Bloomberg. It includes and represents the price movement of the 100 most sought after wines, for which there is a strong secondary market and is calculated on a monthly basis.

By looking at the trading history of the fine wine market in the last decade, one may notice FWI demonstrated excellent track record which is appealing to absolute return investors.

According to the Liv-ex, FWI has consistently delivered positive absolute return over every.  Next 5-year holding period since 2000. Figure 1 below also highlights that the average 5-year foreword performance since 2000 is as high as 111%!

While the returns on the Liv-ex 50 are compelling, they become even more compelling when considered within the context of other asset classes.  The report continues:

It is also worth to note that while comparing FWI with global equities, FWI generated significant outperformance to global equities over any 5-year investment horizon since 2000, with hit rate as high as 98%, as shown in figure 2 below.

FWI provides diversification benefits to global equities portfolio. Besides outperforming global equities, FWI also gives diversification benefits as the correlation of FWI to global equities is only 0.19.

Whilst the above suggest FWI is attractive, recent trend has been less encouraging. Not only has the correction of the FWI market started to drag down the recent returns and out performance, but the diversification benefits also seem to have been diminished.

 Like any market, the Fine Wine Market must be enjoyed in moderation, as out performance tends to attract attention which generally leads to…underperformance.

It is worth noting that the Fine Wine Market, while unique, has behaved similarly to that of Crude Oil over the past 10 years, as pointed out by this excerpt from a 2011 post in the Sizemore Letter:

From 1990 to 2010, the correlation between fine wine and crude oil returns was a staggering 90 percent!

What is the takeaway from all of this?  While Fine Wines now have an established exchange, corresponding price index, and are a nice way to diversify from equities, they may offer returns similar to other commodities.

In the end, returns are returns, and from a pure numbers standpoint, the higher the returns, the better.  From a semantic standpoint, it is much more fashionable to talk about one’s Fine Wine investments than crude oil in many social settings.  Given this criteria, the answer is clear:

Fine Wine trumps Texas Tea.

This concludes our brief yet informative jaunt into the world of Fine Wines.  Again, if you are interested in hearing more about Fine Wine investing, please email us at the address below.

After one last goblet, The Mint must carry on, for the Bitcoin has nearly doubled in price, and there is much to explore in the fine autumn that is upon us.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus!

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for November 4, 2013

Copper Price per Lb: $3.24
Oil Price per Barrel:  $94.62
Corn Price per Bushel:  $4.26
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  2.60%
Mt Gox Bitcoin price in US:  $237.00
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,315
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.2%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.2%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  15,639
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,515,000,000,000
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,867,000,000,000

Investing in Fine Wines has Never been Easier

Fine wines have always commanded a premium on restaurant menus, but have you ever stopped to consider the other side of the trade on a romantic dining experience?

Tempranillo Photo credit: Mick Stephenson
Tempranillo Photo credit: Mick Stephenson

Fine Wine Investing

Today we begin a short series on investing in Fine Wine.  Fine Wines as an investment opportunity may sound like something that well heeled folks with large estates and walk in wine cellars are equipped to dabble in.  However, as with many things the rich do, they tend to do it because there is money in it.

The market for Fine Wines is remarkably stable and refreshingly uncorrelated with other asset classes, which is why the rich, apart from bragging rights, have no qualms about storing a portion of their nest egg in corked glass bottles.

Today, the stability and out sized price gains in the Fine Wine market are available to almost anyone willing to invest.  The best part is, you don’t even need to build a wine cellar or worry about your retirement account spilling in an unfortunate accident or being accidentally enjoyed at a candlelight dinner at home.  You can now invest in Fine Wines as you would any other asset class, via the internet.

You still own the wine, naturally, you just don’t need to deal with the hassle of transport and storage.  All you need is a minimum investment of 5,000 British pounds and a bit of information.

If you would like more information on this investment opportunity, which is available through one of our partners, simply email us at: with the word “WINE” in the subject line.

For the moment, we present the following information as a brief overview of the market of Fine Wines.  While it should go without saying, we present the following information as a general overview and cannot and will not comment upon whether or not Fine Wines are appropriate for each individual’s investment situation, this is a decision that must be made by the individual.  However, if you or someone you know determines that Fine Wine investing is agreeable to their taste, we will gladly facilitate the transaction.



From its origins as an exotic drink, wine has become a long standing commodity, with a lineage that dates back to the Greek empire and beginning of trade in 1600 BC. The ancient Greeks carried wine throughout the Mediterranean coast, with Europe leading the way in consumption, production and movement. A major transformation occurred when Napoleon III requested a classification of best Bordeaux wines in France in the year 1855. Following this, wines were classified on a recognised price-based ranking, leading to the grading of the world’s finest wines.


The traditional notion that wine investment is about buying two cases of young wine so that, after a period of maturation, you drink one case and sell the other to finance both may have a certain romantic appeal.

As an investment philosophy, though, it is heavily discounted by today’s serious investor. Investment is all about risk and good investment choices are made when the exposure to risk is clearly understood.

Fine wines has been one of the strongest areas for investment in recent years What may surprise many is that an investment in fine wine has consistently been a low risk investment opportunity compared to oil, the FTSE 100 and even gold. Combined with strong absolute performance and low correlation to other assets, that has led wine to find a home in many serious investment portfolios.

Those interested in accessing the fine wine market have more options available to them than ever before with a range of tax-efficient structures available. The timing looks opportune too: prices came off significantly in 2011, leaving the possibility of a substantial upturn in the medium term, and inflationary fears are enhancing the attractiveness of physical assets.

There is very little correlation between financial markets and fine wine prices. For example, whilst many stocks, shares and markets crashed during the financial crisis of 2008, most wines continued to significantly appreciate in value. Whilst wine prices are not always free of volatility, the market tends to be far more resilient than many traditional investments that investors go for. The reasoning behind this is actually very simple. Fine wine is a completely tangible asset, a luxury product in which supply is always exceeded by demand. As a particular vintage wine is consumed, more of that wine cannot be produced, so the wine appreciates in value.

Fine wines frequently outperform share indices, for example between May 2010 and May 2011, whilst the FTSE 100 appreciated by 15.6%, the fine wine index increased by a considerably higher 21.1%. The Live-Ex 100 Fine Wine Index is the industry’s main performance benchmark, and represents the price movement of the 100 most sought-after fine wines. The price index is calculated on a monthly basis, with the vast majority being Bordeaux wines. Over the last 25 years the very best wines have appreciated by 15-25% per annum, a staggering return on investment very difficult to find anywhere else without very high risks.


It is the underlying supply and demand characteristics of wine which make it attractive as an investment proposition. On the supply side, Bordeaux (considered by many to produce the only investment grade wine) is a finite geographical area in France with an essentially fixed number of wine producers (châteaux). The initial supply of wine is therefore finite, and over time can only fall as bottles of the wine are consumed.

Meanwhile demand tends to rise, for two reasons. First, the quality of the wine improves over time as it matures, making it more attractive to drink. Second, global demand continues to rise as new markets for the wine open up. In the last 25 years alone we have seen Japan, Russia, Korea and China ‘discover’ fine wine and consume it in large quantities, with countries such as India and South America yet to come ‘on stream.’

Intrigued?  More to come on this interesting and exciting opportunity.

Stay Fresh!

Finding Financial Freedom by Living Out the Biblical Principle of the Jubilee

The following is a guest post on a timely topic by David Bonner, a financial consultant with a passion for helping people find freedom by becoming good financial stewards.  Enjoy and stay fresh!

There are many biblical principles when it comes to finance. Perhaps the most often cited is Jesus’s instruction to “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” Like most of the times that Jesus is quoted in popular culture, this is taken out of context at least as often as not. While I am very much in favor of personal responsibility, good stewardship, and accountability to authority and government, the concept of rendering unto Caesar is not anywhere near so valuable as the biblical principle of Jubilee.

In the book of Leviticus, debts and enslavement are both addressed as coming to an end after fifty years. The Covenant Code, taken from Exodus, includes similar provisions after a period of seven years. This code adds a layer to the idea of rendering unto Caesar in that the debt or the term of slavery – note the biblical application as given to Moses’s audience would have been much more of a household servitude like an indentured servant than our modern interpretation of slavery – should be served out for a reasonable period but not leave people laboring their entire lives under its burden. Unfortunately, apart from bankruptcy, our modern society doesn’t have many allowances for this form of grace. And even bankruptcy does not extend the full protection that many believe it will.

The best time to be responsible with debt management is before taking it on. For this reason, tools like a home loan calculator are invaluable. A mortgage loan calculator or similar tool can help you determine what housing options you can reasonably undertake based on an in-depth understanding of your finances. However, with the soaring costs of education, the massive investment of establishing oneself in almost any career, and the instability of most markets, debt is a reality of modern American life.

The important thing is not to let debt overwhelm you. Part of avoiding this would be to utilize a good debt repayment calculator to determine what money you actually have available to work with. A debt consolidation calculator can help you view all of your debts, credit cards and mortgages, car payments and education loans, together in one focused picture.

This focused picture will enable you to see your finances in terms of available funds rather than seeing your monthly income as being available. A debt elimination calculator will help you select the repayment timeline that works for you, and commit to following through on it. Utilizing debt calculator(s) applications when considering undertaking a big financial step will allow you to make a clear headed and responsible strategy, enabling you to both render unto Caesar and celebrate your own Jubilee before too long.

Dave Bonner runs a small business in the Greater Philadelphia Area, where he lives with his wife and their one-year-old puppy.  His consulting work includes applying sound Biblical principles in making economically sound business strategies, a subject on which he has also been privileged to teach.  Debt consolidation has become something of a hobby, as he works to assist his friends and family in the pursuit of financial stability and good stewardship.

Angel Investing and Entrepreneurship: Adam and Eve in the Garden

4/29/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

Here at The Mint, we have a soft spot for both Entrepreneurs and Angel Investors, for they are to a business what Adam and Eve are to the Genesis narrative.  They are not the creators themselves, but they are the ones who work together in the creation of a business so that it might to flourish.

Our friends over at have put together a great video series called Minute MBA.  In a recent video, which can be seen here (or by pasting the following link in your browser:, they eloquently, in both pictures and words, walk us through the startup funding process from idea, to seed capital, through to an IPO in under three minutes.

They also stress the importance of timing the solicitation of the appropriate flavor of capital at the right stage in the company’s life cycle.  It is an extremely import detail which cannot be overstated.

How To Fund A Startup
Click to view “How To Fund A Startup” via

While there is much written about ideas, business plan development, and the life-cycle of a startup, which is naturally where a majority of the action takes place, there is often less attention devoted to the preparation of the garden plot upon which the seed capital will be planted into.

We call this garden plot the entity structure.  While many entrepreneurs wait until the Angel Investor appears on the scene to prepare the garden plot, there are some things that can and should be done by the entrepreneur at or near the conception of their venture to ensure that any seed capital they manage to attract is not needlessly scattered to the wind.

{Editor’s Note:  At this point a blanket disclaimer is in order, at this point, we are neither an attorney, CPA, tax, or other type of registered professional.  Even if we were, the following is in no way intended to address any one specific situation.  Any decision regarding entity structure should be taken after consulting an attorney and/or CPA who understands the laws of the land where the enterprise is to be founded and operate (should they not be one in the same) as well as the specifics of the owner(s)’ situation and goals.}

The following are three types of potential entity structures that may be employed to form a receptacle that can receive seed or, in some cases, even angel stage capital depending upon the requirements of the potential investor(s).

Think of it as the entrepreneur building their own garden box into which they will pour the rich soil of their time, effort, creativity, and ingenuity.  A garden box that is prepared to receive seeds that will be watered by the blood, sweat, and tears of the entrepreneur in hopes they will blossom to the point where the angels will take notice, muster their resources, and work their own creative magic.

When the angel gets involved, they may see that the garden box is well-tended and bearing fruit.  Depending upon the circumstances, they may seed their capital into the existing garden box, make substantial additions to it, or ask the entrepreneur to take their idea out of the garden box altogether and purchase them a field large enough to accommodate the flood of IPO funding.

We now digress to that lonely place where the entrepreneur sits alone in their yard, trying to decide what type of garden box to build.  The following is a menu of basic garden box designs from which to choose with the careful guidance of a qualified professional with intimate knowledge of the actors and the circumstances:

Step 1 – Buy an investment vehicle – The entrepreneur should establish a simple entity such as an S-Corporation or LLC to serve as their personal vehicle in which they can drive their idea(s) around in to visit potential investors.  This step will help establish a shield between the entrepreneur’s personal assets and their new venture.  It will also give the entrepreneur a tool through which they can manage their tax liability if necessary.

Perhaps more importantly, establishing the first entity gives the entrepreneur a bit of practice, both at corporate governance as well as letting go.  As parents of college freshmen (and Suzy Bogguss) will tell you, it’s never easy letting go.  The saying goes sevenfold for an entrepreneur and their idea.  However, letting go, to some extent, is the ultimate, often unstated goal of soliciting angel types of investment.  It is best to take the first, painful step in the privacy of one’s own home to avoid any unwanted emotional breakdowns as they sign away a portion of the rights to their baby entity in return for the cash needed for it to grow and thrive.

This is a deep, nearly metaphysical, aspect of the interplay between entrepreneur and angel investor, and we must leave it there for the moment and get on to the designs.

Design 1 – The Simple Promissory Note:  While most entrepreneurs and investors alike tend to think of seed capital as purely equity, we believe that in terms of ease of set up (meaning fewer legal and accounting fees) and understanding, creating a promissory note directly payable to the seed fund investor and the vehicle entity that is wholly owned by the entrepreneur for the amount to be invested offers a simple, if not elegant way for the parties to marry their money and idea on a trial basis.

From the entrepreneur’s standpoint, the ideal promissory note would provide for the use of the investor’s funds for a mutually agreed upon amount of time, during which interest may accrue at an agreed upon rate, but no payments on the note are due until the entity is projected to be able to have the free cash flow available to make good on the obligation.

The investor may be afforded some protection by perfecting a security interest against a portion of the entrepreneur’s other assets which would act as collateral.  We refer to this type of clause as a negative outcome exit.

However, as the reason for the decision to invest in the first place is presumably because the investor believes that the venture will succeed and grow, it would make even more sense to include a positive outcome exit.  In the case of the simple promissory note structure, the positive exit would include the right for the investor to convert the note into an equity stake of a previously agreed upon percentage of an entity that is again, previously agreed upon to be formed as a next stage investment vehicle for the new venture.

The promissory note strategy is a form of baby IPO that allows for the intimate gestation of the venture while it is at its most vulnerable by two parties who have a vested interest in seeing it grow and develop.

This strategy does not, however, offer the tax advantages usually associated with the investor’s ability to write off any losses that the venture may incur in its early years that the strategies mentioned below in Design 2 and 3 offers.  Then again, if a portion of an investment return is attributed to losses incurred in the early years, it may delay or even discourage the wise and judicious development of the venture by lulling the entrepreneur and investor alike into a false sense of security as the piling up of losses may be explained as beneficial with regards to tax liability.

Design 2 – The S-Corporation: An S-Corporation, while a bit antiquated, is still a favorite entity structure for closely held ventures.  S-Corporations are subject to state administrative rules related to corporations and may be formed with a fixed number of shares that can be sold to a limited number of investors.

Along with the S-Corporation come the joys (read responsibilities) of corporate governance.  There is more ongoing paperwork involved and therefore more attorney and CPA fees.  However, the S-Corporation is a much sturdier garden box than the simple promissory note.  It serves to isolate the venture and give it form; it also allows all parties to “enjoy” the tax benefits of the early years where the venture bleeds money.

Another advantage of the S-Corporation structure is that it can later be converted into a C-Corporation, which is the field upon which the great flood of the IPO can be released.

Design 3 – The Limited Partnership:  This option generally allows for the greatest amount of entrepreneurial flexibility to operate with the greatest number of potential investors.  Depending upon the requirements of the Limited Partners (LPs) and the myriad of exit strategies available, the agreements can be quite complex and again, there can be a great deal of legal and accounting fees incurred during the setup and operation of the LP.

The basic structure involves a General Partner, which in this case would be the entrepreneur’s vehicle established in Step 1 above, and one or several Limited Partners.  The General Partner is responsible for the day-to-day operations and has full responsibility for the debts of the partnership (for this reason, it is best that the General Partner, in practice, be an S-Corporation or LLC which itself will limit the entrepreneur’s liability).  New forms of Limited Partnerships, such as the LLP and LLLP are now being recognized which serve to further insulate the General Partner from unlimited liability.

The Limited Partners are only liable up to their invested amounts and are shielded in the same way a corporate shareholder is shielded in the event the LP should go bankrupt.  However, the Limited Partners cannot participate in the day-to-day operations of the Partnership, which for most Angel investors is just fine.

The Limited Partnership allows all parties to enjoy the tax “benefits” of the losses that the venture incurs early on.

Another advantage of the Limited Partnership is that one General Partner can be involved with many Limited Partnerships, which is ideal for the entrepreneur who has multiple ideas that may appeal individually to differing groups of investors who may not want to be in the same risk pool together.  These risk pools can be established by creating different Limited Partnership.

Under the Limited Partnership model, the General Partner will generally charge a percentage of revenues as a management fee and an additional percentage or fixed amount as an investors’ service fee to the partnership in exchange for dealing with 100% of the headaches.  These fees may be cash flow contingent and may vary depending upon the extent that the General and Limited Partners are sharing the profits or losses of the venture.

The Issue of investor accreditation and other rules, laws, and regulations:

In the case of Design 1, it may not always be possible to solicit funds using this vehicle depending upon local laws and regulations regarding who may or may not enter into a promissory note.  In a perfect world, this would not be a barrier, however, we do not live in a perfect world.

Further, in Designs 2 and 3 (and in some cases, Design 1 as well), there exists the Federal requirement that all investors be “accredited,” meaning that they have a net worth of over $1MM or have an income of at least $200K for two of the past three years ($300K if married) and the expectation of generating this level of income during the current year.  There are some other ways to qualify which can be seen here but the $1MM threshold is the most common.

In summary, Design 1, the promissory note, is simplistic in that no new entity that needs to be formed.  However, it does not offer much in the way of income tax advantages or flexibility.  It is best suited for a specific project or purpose with an eye towards the larger garden boxes that will later be built.  Designs 2 and 3 both have the complication of entity formation and governance.  The ultimate advantage of options 2 and 3 are enhanced liability protection, greater operating flexibility, and the ability to control income tax considerations to a greater degree.

Again, these are just a few of any number of possible designs, and an attorney and or CPA that is close to the specific situation that is being addressed is in the best position to be able to advise which specific design to tailor so that both entrepreneur and angel investor, Adam and Eve, as it were, will be properly clothed.

If you are an Adam in search of an Eve, or vice versa, or an Adam and Eve who have just found each other and are in desperate need of a Virtual CFO to get things to the next level and beyond, we would love to help!  Simply contact us at the email address below to enquire about our customized, tailor made CFO services here at The Mint.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for April 29 2013

Copper Price per Lb: $3.21
Oil Price per Barrel:  $94.43
Corn Price per Bushel:  $6.84
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.67%
Mt Gox Bitcoin price in US:  $143.50
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,474 THE GOLD RUSH IS STILL ON!
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.6%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  -0.2%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  14,819
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,470,700,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,667,300,000,000

Cyprus – The Waterloo of Eurocratic management or the ultimate catalyst for Euro zone growth?

3/18/2013 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

While the management of the ongoing banking crises on this side of the Atlantic has been dishonest, the management on the other side of the pond, or in today’s case, sea, has been an unmitigated disaster.  Or so it would seem.

We are talking about Cyprus.  For those who have yet to hear about Cyprus, it is an island nation located in the far eastern Mediterranean Sea, just below Turkey.  It is currently inhabited by a fiery mix of Greeks and Turks, who have lived in an uneasy peace with each other for some 40 years after the events that took place during the summer of 1974.

Like many island nations, Cyprus has been able to find common ground with those who have been unable to find common ground on the mainland.  It has found that it can leverage its sovereignty and willingness to bend the rules to offer banking services without the nagging regulations which increasingly plague banks and their clients in the Western nations on the mainland.

Now that the government of Cyprus is bankrupt and in need of a bailout, showing that even a tax and banking paradise can be poisoned by a bad currency, they have gone hat in hand to Belgium, a strange country in the north with absolutely nothing in common with Cyprus, save the currency in question.

The Eurocratic apparatus in Belgium, either on its own or at the behest of the global banking giants in Cyprus, has decided that the terms of the bailout, or “bail in”, which is the Euro friendly way to say “Corralito,” {Editor’s Note:  Corralito is the Argentinean term for when the Government decides to unilaterally make use of the funds in its country’s banks to fund the government because there is literally no one willing to lend them currency on any terms}, would be the direct confiscation of funds from depositors bank accounts in the form of a tax, in this case between 3 and 9.9% (because 10% just looks bad in print) to ultimately pay back the countries who have been generous enough to provide the funds, which, despite the technicalities involved, for most Europeans means Germany.

Predictably, the people of Cyprus, who caught wind of the confirmation of the rumors on Friday and awoke Monday to find that their government had declared what is, at this writing, an indefinite banking holiday (meaning banks and ATMs are closed) to prevent anyone who did not want to participate in the bail in from withdrawing their funds from the country’s banks, are channeling their anger at the German Embassy, quite naturally:

Henry Blodget has written a decent analysis on the details of the Cyprus bail in over at the Daily Ticker.  Blodget does a good job of analyzing the events up until the point where He presumes:

“…the moment depositors think that there is risk to their savings, they rush to banks to yank their money out.

That’s called a run on the bank.

And since no bank anywhere has enough cash on hand to pay off all its depositors at once, runs on the bank cause banks to go bust.

That’s what happened to hundreds of banks in the Great Depression.

And it’s what happened to Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, and other huge banks during the financial crisis (though, with Bear and Lehman, the folks who yanked their money out weren’t mom and pop depositors but other big financial institutions). It’s what threatened to bring the entire U.S. financial system to its knees. And it’s why the U.S. and European governments have been frantically bailing out banks ever since.

But now, thanks to the eurozone’s bizarre decision in Cyprus, the illusion that depositors don’t need to yank their money out of threatened banks because they’ll be protected has been shattered.”

What Blodget presumes is that a bank run is bad for the bank.  Here at The Mint, we postulate that this tax on depositors is taken precisely for the benefit of the Cypriot banks.  Further, it has been taken not only for the benefit of the banks in Cypriot, but to serve as the catalyst for the Euro zone to return to growth, or the activities which pass as economic growth circa 2013.

How can this be?  To understand this will take a basic understanding of the banking revenue model.

Ever since 2008, the Federal Reserve and the ECB have been underwriting the banking sector by providing cheap cash to banks and, indirectly, the governments and people’s of their respective countries.  This is where Blodget’s parallel of today’s bank runs and those that occurred during the Great Depression falls apart.  For all of the mistakes that Ben Bernanke has made, the unconditional guarantee of liquidity in the banking system is the one that he will never relinquish, despite appeals to reason, for he mysteriously sees it as his life’s calling.

However, in an effort to stem the fall in asset prices, which is largely a product of the insane “jack the rate 25 basis points every month or so” policy that the Greenspan and Bernanke Fed followed from June 2004 until June 2006, the policy that caused markets to seize up like a car engine losing oil as they accelerated to record speeds, the Feds and the ECB have largely ignited an increase not in economic growth, but in bank deposits.

Bank deposits, far from being a boon to the receiving bank, are a huge problem when market conditions force them to reinvest (read lend out) those funds for rates that are unconscionably low (3.75% to consumers for 30 years, in a fiat currency system, are you out of your mind?).  Making matters worse, the consumers have been slow to take the bait, resulting in a big time squeeze on the traditional banking revenue model.

Enter Cyprus, an island that holds a disproportionate amount of bank deposits.  As a thinking Eurocrat, of which we suspect there are few, save Nile Farage, who is hunting for a way to both ensure that the banking revenue model continues to function, the government of Cyprus retains legitimacy, and that economic activity in the Euro zone will increase, the pile of Euros in Cypriot banks looks like a great target not to loot, as most analysis of the situation will paint this move as, but to force billions of Euros out of the digital vaults of the banking system to wash from the shores of Cyprus outwards into the other Euro zone countries in search of real goods, not simply another cash warehouse.

One sees the Eurocratic genius in the move at the moment one (again, that is you and I, fellow taxpayer) understands that the mere threat of a unilateral tax on deposits as a condition for a Euro zone bailout is causing lines to form at ATMs from Andalu to Cataluña, across the border into Torino and down to the lonely parts of Sicily.

Cyprus Flag
Will the Cyprus Misadventure by the catalyst for elusive economic growth in the Euro zone?

Within a matter of days, billions of Euros which were locked up in the accounts of villainous savers and otherwise useless to the European economy will be running around the Spanish and Italian streets in a desperate attempt to purchase anything real in which to hold said savings.

With what appears to have been a typically boneheaded Eurocratic move, the Eurocrats may have managed to do what Ben Bernanke and all of the helicopters in the world could not have done to the club Med economies:  Shower them with foolishly spent cash while at the same time bailing out both the banks and the governments as a grotesque side effect.

To be sure, it is a short term fix and will leave the Euro zone further down the scorched earth economy path in a matter of years.  Even so, you have to give the Eurocrats some credit for pulling out all the stops, even if they did stumble upon their ultimate stimulus, which relies upon their own stupidity to function, completely by accident.

Meanwhile in Cyprus, the latest is that the government wants to “think over” the terms of the bailout.  The formal vote has been postponed until Friday, and we presume that the banking holiday will remain in effect until after the vote is taken and any taxes are skimmed.

It is a hard assignment, and we do not envy them nor blame them for thinking it over.  The decision before Cyprus’ government officials is simple.  Should they accept the bailout, they face being blamed by their countrymen for sacrificing their parched island on the Eurocratic altar as well as spending the rest of their lives dodging the hit men of any oligarch’s who did not have sufficient forewarning of the move.

Should they reject the bailout, their government may even find a few contributions from said oligarchs to keep operating, and the only cost will be a few less German tourists on their shores, which, given the alternative, seems a small price to pay.

In the end, if our hunch is correct, the mere threat of corallito should be enough to stimulate the Euro zone.

Were we in their shoes, and we are glad we are not, we would reject the bailout.  Either way, it is a strong argument for exiting the formal banking system or becoming a large net creditor.  It is much easier for “crats” of any stripe to confiscate assets with a few keystrokes than for them to lift a finger to grab something in the real world.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for March 18, 2013 (PM)

Copper Price per Lb: $3.43
Oil Price per Barrel:  $93.79
Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.20
10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.96%
Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,606 THE GOLD RUSH IS STILL ON!
MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%
Unemployment Rate:  7.7%
Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.7%
Dow Jones Industrial Average:  14,452
M1 Monetary Base:  $2,466,100,000,000 LOTS OF DOUGH ON THE STREET!
M2 Monetary Base:  $10,499,300,000,000

Amazing financial mind reader reveals his ‘gift’

Can this man read your mind? An amazing experiment with startling implications in Brussels!

Ballot burning, our breaking point, and why the next Gold Rush just began

11/9/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

The 2012 US Presidential election is over, and the only thing that remains to be seen is whether or not the No vote will maintain its absolute majority.  At last count it was 50.2% and will go down to the wire.

For our part, we finally got around to burning our mail-in ballot last night.  For those who will lament that we did not perform our civic duty, we report that we did give it a cursory check to make sure there were not City or County measures which required our input.

If you are joining us late in the game, we presented our personal reasons for not voting a few weeks ago.  To be fair, we have never been much for voting, mostly attributable to our inner laziness.  However, this time was different.  We made a conscious decision not to participate.  We decided not to to meddle in the affairs of others.  We took the position that the largest sphere of influence which we could, in good conscious, cast our vote over others was at the County level.

Our County generally fulfills its commitments and is solvent.  As such, it meets our criteria for an operating Socialist system.  The State and Federal level do not.  We did not reach this conclusion through logical contemplation, rather, we had a minor breaking point with regards to the political systems at the higher levels as we read to our son about the Trail of Tears, which moved us to tears and, as a consequence, this form of peaceful resistance.

The rest, including what you, fellow taxpayer, are reading, is a slow digestion and reflection upon our weeping over the Trail of Tears.

For the record, we do not buy into conspiracy theories (although trading on them can be very profitable) nor are we cynical enough to say, along with Emma Goldman, “If voting changed anything, it would be illegal.”  What we do know is that we can no longer endorse the killing and robbing of people with whom we have no quarrel and who pose us no existential threat.

In a sense, we are peacefully surrendering our “right” to participate.  Were the government to suddenly stop taxing our wages, income, gasoline purchases, telecommunications, and capital gains, we may go as far as to relinquish the “right” to Social security, roads, and such.  On this point, however, we will not hold our breath.  Nor will we actively avoid taxes or reject monetary benefits which come to us.  This is a broader question which we will not delve deeper into today.

Speaking of taxes, the election seems to have ignited what may be the blow off phase in the precious metals markets.  Please read on…

The new Gold Rush, The triple Fiscal Cliff, and logical consequences

The market selloff continues today, as the logical consequence of the expectation of higher taxes manifests itself.  While we believed that higher taxes were coming, no matter who was elected, it is nonetheless fascinating to watch what is unfolding in the equity markets.

For a bit of background, the Federal Reserve, ECB, Bank of Japan, England, and all entities in the Central Banking industry are putting the throttle down and printing money at a breathtaking pace.  This has been enough to keep equity prices “afloat” with relatively minor nominal price drops.

However, the drop in value, commonly known as purchasing power, has truly been staggering over the past several years.  If you track such things, look at your grocery or utility bills for proof.  You are probably either paying more, getting less, or some combination of these double whammies.

The election results appear to have triggered a decoupling of the commodity and equity markets for the foreseeable future.  Meanwhile, while bonds are rallying as those who hold large unrecognized gains in equity positions choose to recognize them before December 31, when the clock strikes midnight and any gains left on the table will be taxed out of existence {Editor’s note: this is figurative language and speculation, of course}.

This is the logical consequence of the fiscal cliff.  When the election was called for Obama and control of the Senate and House looked to remain the same, equity holders saw the writing on the wall.  The stalemate at the Federal level will remain in place and the probability of the US plummeting off of the dreaded Fiscal Cliff (which, we remind you, is purely a government construction) greatly increased.

While some window dressing will no doubt be presented as the solution, those holding large equity positions will be seen as “new meat for the grinder” and likely will be the next lamb sacrificed on the alter of fiscal irresponsibility.

But it is not just the US looking over a fiscal cliff.  The anticipation of the US Presidential outcome distracted attention from the dire situation in Greece, where in 8 short days, the government will be out of funds and the once vaunted “Troika” now stands by, unwilling to throw more money at them.

Then there are the Spaniards.  Having lived three years in Barcelona, we have a special affinity for the Spanish in general and specifically for the Catalans.  While the Greeks may be coerced into having more conditions shoved down their throat, the Spanish situation is a bit more complex.

The Spaniards are smart, and the Catalans are even smarter.  Catalunya knows that they are indispensible to Spain.  They have also spent the past 30+ years building systems to ensure that they can operate perfectly well without the Spanish Feds in Madrid.

Those in Madrid know this, and are holding the threat of Catalan secession as their Ace in the hole which, at this point, has allowed them to extract concessions from the ECB, all the while avoiding surrendering what is left of their Sovereignty to Brussels as the Greeks, Irish, Portuguese, and Italians have.

Will the can which has been kicked down the road in Europe finally get kicked off the Euro Cliff?  Even if it doesn’t, the Spanish firecracker inside of the can will go off at some point and blow up the proverbial can, at which point all bets are off.

With the two largest, debt based financial currencies in the world facing unprecedented uncertainty and the prospect of higher taxes on the horizon, one has to question the wisdom of holding anything but physical gold and silver in place of financial assets.

This, along with the ongoing tension in the Middle East and that crazy Mayan prophecy, is why we believe that the final blow off in the gold and silver markets is at hand.  There is still time to get in and these quasi currencies have plenty of room to run.  While the physical production fundamentals are less compelling than they were 10 years ago (a 440% rise in price will tend to encourage production), the financial backdrop has never been more favourable, and its about to get even better.

Just remember, buy and hold the physical metals, as ETFs and futures will likely not catch all of the upside of this monumental move.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint


Key Indicators for November 9, 2012

Copper Price per Lb: $3.46

Oil Price per Barrel:  $85.14

Corn Price per Bushel:  $7.45

10 Yr US Treasury Bond:  1.63%


Gold Price Per Ounce:  $1,730 THE GOLD RUSH IS ON!

MINT Perceived Target Rate*:  0.25%

Unemployment Rate:  7.9%

Inflation Rate (CPI):  0.6%

Dow Jones Industrial Average:  12,862

M1 Monetary Base:  $2,394,100,000,000

M2 Monetary Base:  $10,168,900,000,000

2012 – November and Everything After

11/8/2012 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…

During our college days, the Counting Crows put out an album called August and Everything After.  This refrain became popular once again back in August of 2007, which is now seen as the beginning of the continuing Financial debacle which just passed its 5th anniversary.

August 2007 was when the game changed permanently.  The Federal Reserve had unwittingly sent Fixed Income markets off a cliff.  In a panic to correct its error (blind 25 basis point increases in the target rate month after month for over two years) it overcorrected and basically did an end run around its primary dealers, offering to buy mortgage backed securities from all comers.  This miscalculation blew up modern finance as most knew it.

By late 2007, the public began to acknowledge the fundamental changes which were taking place in the financial markets.  Ever since then, the Western Governments and their associated Central Banks have thrown caution to the wind in an effort to maintain what they see as the status quo.

Today, we shamelessly borrow the Crows refrain and apply it to the United States political scene.  Despite a plethora of No votes, which we like to speculate are an indication of the American public’s display of displeasure with the ruling class and a rejection of the corrupted political system, another President elect has been declared.

Our basis for this speculation is nothing more than heresy, mind you.  Low voter turnout is a fact of the American landscape.  Early on, it was a byproduct of the exclusion of large classes of people from the voting rolls.  Women, native, and african americans were barred from voting, while those in rural districts and those too busy clinging to day to day subsistence to be bothered to vote were excluded by default.

After the Women’s suffrage and the Civil rights movements remedied some of these democratic oversights, voter turnout in America enjoyed a golden period where it could be said that the land enjoyed a legitmately elected government.

Voter turnout began to wane again as the Richard Nixon train wreck occupied the White House and the modern era of voter disenchantment began.  While the paid swarms of voter registrars have made some headway in increasing voter turnout, 2012 is set to see another decline, with the high estimate of 60% of the VAP casting a ballot.

A brief update for those of you following the results of the Silent Majority, we are now projecting that they have “won” the election by an even larger margin than previously thought, with a whopping 45.3% of those eligible to vote choosing not to endorse the Government and claiming a solid majority when the overall Voting age population is considered, a staggering 50.2%.

We can only surmise that the past four years have confirmed to the American public what many have suspected all along: That the government does not have the solutions, rather, be it red or blue, it is a big part of the problem.

As the public woke up to the financial debacle in early 2008, we foresee that sometime in early 2013, the general public will wake up to the debacle of federal governance.

Welcome to the Divided States of America, where 25% of the populace has thrust a leader onto the other 75%, and 50% have thrust a Government which is unwanted or unrecognized by the other 50%.

No matter how you look at it, there are bound to be hard feelings all around. As Mr. Obama heads back to a government as divided as the country, the stock market took its cue and sold off in defiance. According to Marc Faber, it will fall at least another 20% within the next six to nine months.

We leave you, fellow taxpayer, with a bit of friendly advice.  If you have any unrealized tax gains to recognize, recognize them this year, before the clock strikes midnight.  After that, the divided government will begin to cannibalize its citizens wealth in earnest.  It is inevitable.  As a second assignment, work on becoming resilient.  John Robb over at Resilient Communities has a wealth of information to help anyone.  Even if a miracle occurs and the US can grow its way out of this mess despite a fractured government, resilient living is just plain fun.

Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.

Stay Fresh!

David Mint

Key Indicators for November 8, 2012

The last four years have been good for silver

The Obama Presidency, despite the Change rhetoric, was simply a backdrop for the larger debt crises which will continue to unfold over the next four years, regardless of who assumes the role of the scapegoat when the polls close tonight.

As such, the following chart, courtesy of the money game, is instructive in that silver investors can rest assured that the next for years will be even better as the underlying trends, which began circa 2000 CE, are about to accelerate.


Is the trend your friend? We sure hope so. If not, visit your local coin shop and get to know him soon.

Get Out of Debt by Enhancing Your Credit Score

The following is a guest post on a timely personal finance topic from Alicia, a tech writer from the UK with a fondness for finance.  We encourage you to follow her on Twitter at @financeport for more debt reduction and personal finance tips and information.  Without further adieu:

Get Out of Debt by Enhancing Your Credit Score

In the present competitive world many people are prone to being burdened with debts which come about for one reason or another. Irrespective of the reasons, these debts can cause real trouble by bringing down people’s credit score; this needs to be resolved immediately.  The best way to improve your credit rating is by paying back all of your debts.  Here are some helpful tips that can be followed to get out of debt and improve your credit score: Get out of debt - Credit Cards - Piggy Bank

  • Stick to your budget plan: It is vital to design a budget plan that will suit your standard of living.  It should include all the income and expense details which can be modified accordingly.  Once the plan is prepared, stick to it with complete determination and dedication. 
  • Keep reminders of overdue dates:  Most debts that you owe should be repaid in monthly payments, which are a sum of interest charges and a portion of the principle amount. Dates are specified for these payments to be made.  Be sure to keep track of them.  Assuring that all bills are paid on time that will not only avoid penalties but will also have a positive impact on your credit rating.
  • Overpayments: People tend to pay the exact repayment amount, but it is advised to avoid this strategy and try to pay more than required as that will cut down principle amount borrowed, which will in turn improve your credit score.  This can be done with the assistance of payday loans or by directly transfering money from your savings account to repay your debts.
  • Check credit history periodically:  Your credit history should be checked periodically in order to avoid surprises and unforeseen consequences.  Reviewing your credit report allows you to know the exact details of all the debts owed, and if there are any errors on the report they can be addressed before they become a problem.  It is even possible to know if there is any crossing of credit limit, if so then it can be prevented
  • Opt for a debt consolidation loan:  One of the best options many borrowers is to repay all existing debts through a debt consolidation loan instead of declaring bankruptcy. This type of loan provides a certain amount as a loan with relatively lower interest rates.  The consolidator is capable of collecting monthly payments and distributing it among all the creditors for fast repayment and subsequent improvement of your credit rating.
  • Avoid credit card use: The latest survey conducted has proved that one of the main reasons for accruing debts is due to the use of credit cards, where card holders are prone to exceeding their credit limit.  The ultimate result can be overwhelming debts.  It is manageable to use credit cards wisely to some extent, however avoiding them would be the better choice.
  • Utilise liquid assets: You can find many liquid assets that are just lying around your home that have cash value; these assets can be sold to get money that can be utilised in repaying debts.

Author Bio:

My name is Alicia. I am a tech writer from UK. I am into Finance. Catch me @financeport

Two tips to help plan for your child’s college education

{Editor’s Note:  Our recent “Healthy Habits” series has inspired one of our readers, Brenda Lyttle, to share a couple of money saving tips.  Brenda is a stay at home mom and a lover of the frugal life.  A brief disclaimer, we do not offer individual tax advice and encourage you to speak with a qualified tax professional to determine whether or not these tips are right for you.}

Are you losing sleep planning for your child’s college education?  You are not alone in living in fear that you may not be able to finance your child’s college education.  You may even have earned some bad credit scores, but if you’re determined and plan early, you can still pull it off.

You will need articulate planning in order to successfully fund you kid’s college education during these times when the college fees are rising exponentially.  Here are two tips to help you get started:

1.      Choose the Right Tax Saving Schemes

Why not save on some tax payments while planning to fund your child’s college education all at the same time?  There are numerous plans available in the market which offer a tax shelter if you decide to invest with them.  Here are two of the most popular and rewarding ones:

a.    529 Plans

You can invest with these plans while not needing to pay tax on the invested amount.  You can then withdraw the investment for paying tuition fees when your child enters college and the amount will still remain untaxed upon withdrawal!  This plan offers its tax saving options to all accrued earnings which are used for qualified educational expenses. You will be exempted from all the federal taxes.

You will be required to pay the state taxes, however, though some of the states are known to waiver a part of the state taxes if you invest your earnings in the 529 plans.  You can also use the 529 plans to prepay the tuition fees at your preferred college at the present, presumably lower, tuition rates.  This way you are saving on taxes today and protecting yourself from inflated college fees tomorrow.

b.      Coverdell Education Savings Accounts

This account is not as popular as the 529 plans but has seen some popularity owing to the fact that your contribution limit is determined by your gross income which is adjusted to future rates.  The contributions in this account are non-deductible and will be allowed to grow tax-free.  You can’t use the funds of this account for any other purpose apart from an education from a qualified educational institution.

2.      Let Them Handle Their Own College Expenses

Have you considered leaving portions of the college expenses to your child in order to save some money from the educational fund to be used for your own future?  If you haven’t, it is high time you start doing so!  Remember that your child has numerous options for financing his college education irrespective of whether or not you have a college education fund set up for them.

There are numerous grants, scholarships and fellowship programs that colleges offer in order to help students finance their college expenses.  In case your child fails to secure one of these, they can always apply for an educational loan.  The burden of repayment of this loan will rest on their shoulders when they secure a job.  If you are still willing to help them out with their educational expenses, you can do so by paying a part of the college fees from your current income flow at that point of time.

Remember that planning for your child’s college expenses is important.  It should be considered as important as securing your retirement and, using these tips, you may enjoy some tax savings in the process!

Brenda Lyttle is a work-at-home mom and lover of frugal living.  She suggests that to save money on occasions, you may want to indulge in off-season shopping, such as buying Halloween costumes for 2012 around May or June to get a bargain, instead of waiting until October.