Paul Hassebroek

Writing About Business and Personal Finance

Which Metros Are Funding Startups?

An interesting chart showing the top 20 metropolitan areas where startups are receiving first round funding from venture capital firms. It's not as concentrated as I would have thought.

Source: Brookings via Ritholz

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529 Rule Change For 2015

College savers have a little more flexibility inside their college savings plans thanks to a 529 rule change for 2015. The Achieving a Better Life Experience (Able) Act was signed into law by President Obama last year. It allows 529 account owners to change up their investment selections twice per year. Previously, investment changes could only be made once per year with an exception for new contributions. So, the question then is, what should you do with this new freedom? While this change is welcomed by investors, the real answer is that, no, you shouldn't be making any changes to…

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The Minimalists: Signs You Might Be Broke

I would love to learn to write more essays like this. Check out The Minimalists' list of 11 signs you might be broke →   Read it here.…

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Chart: Auto Sales 2005-2015

Trucks are back on top and total sales are nearing their pre-recession levels. What's driving sales? A stronger economy, more manufacturer backed special financing, and low gas prices. That last one is a hard for me to understand as I can't believe that we are in a new paradigm of energy prices. source: TTAC…

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Obama Backpedals On Taxing 529 Plan

College savers were surprised to hear President Obama say during his State of the Union address that he wanted to tax the distributions from 529 plans. As he explained, the Middle Class are the biggest users of 529 college savings plans and he believed they could bear a tax on their plan withdrawals in order to fund free community college education for all. We all found this news shocking as the main reason these account are utilized is for the tax benefits. Removing that from 529 accounts drastically changes the character of the accounts and would leave savers wondering if…

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Why Advisor Compensation Matters

How the person providing your investment advice is compensated could have a bigger impact on your financial plan's success than any other factor. Compensation drives the quality of advice and the amount of time an advisor spends working for you. In the investment business, there are three popular model firms utilize to deliver investments or investment advice to their clients. The first and most common compensation model is the commission model. In this model, the advisor, known as Registered Representatives, are compensated by the investments they recommend. A commission compensated advisor might sell products like life insurance, mutual funds, and…

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The Ten Most Expensive Cars Of 2014

There were several high profile collector car sales last year. The ten on this list compiled by Classic Car, totaled $141mm. The nine highest were Ferraris with a Ferrari beating race car by Ford at number 10. Read the rest at Classic Car.…

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Oil Closes Below $50

Oil prices continued to fall today with the WTI contract closing below $50 per barrel, a price not seen in five and a half years. 2015 hasn't started great for the equity markets either as the S&P 500 fell for the fourth day. I'm not crazy enough to predict which direction oil will go, but my family is enjoying the low gas prices while they last.…

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The Tenth Year

I started my business on December 1st, 2005. The past nine years have taught me a lifetime's worth of knowledge as I've been an advisor, counselor, business owner, accountant, and janitor, among other roles. Some time ago, I started planning for my tenth year in business. This included looking critically at all aspects of my business including customer service, investment research and implementation, and marketing and client acquisition. Fred Wilson recently wrote this post about the process entrepreneurs go through to build their businesses. In his post, he describes two paths: the pivot and the Grind. In the start-up world,…

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A Christmas Gift: The Story of New York's Bull

According to the Wall Street Journal, it's already been 25 years since that 18 foot, 3½ ton bronze bull arrived in New York City. As the paper tells the story, guerilla artist Arturo Di Modica snuck it in to the city on a flatbed truck as a Christmas gift to New York City. Di Modica left it in the middle of Broad Street near the New York Stock Exchange. Authorities quickly removed the statue from the street and deposited it a few blocks away in its current location, where it has become a tourist attraction and a mascot for Wall…

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The Future Is Here

NASA just emailed a wrench to the space station. This was the first time that an object has been transmitted from Earth to space for manufacture. Once at the space station, the wrench was printed on a 3D printer for astronaut Barry Wilmore to use for a specific purpose. Barry Wilmore - credit: NASA This wasn't the first object made in space, but it was the first time an object was designed specifically for a task. This is very exciting for the future as 3D printers will become more common and the materials they can print more durable. Future in-field…

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Iowa Farmland Values Drop Year Over Year

Farmland dropped in value per acre in 2014 versus the previous year. Since 1941, Iowa State University in Ames, IA has surveyed land values in each of Iowa's 99 counties. This year, the responsibility for the survey was transferred to the Center for Agricultural and Rural Development. The survey results showed that the state of Iowa average value of farmland fell by $773/acre or 8.9% from last year's record high value. The average acre of Iowa farmland in 2014 is $7,943/acre, but varies from county to county. source image credit: wikicommons…

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