The Cultural Shift from Bargain Hunting to Buying Things that Last

OWNx Team Retirement Planning

things-that-lastWe’ve all thrown away the cheap frying pan and the broken umbrella that initially seemed like a great deal in the store. Whether it was the buy-one-get-one-free, the red price on the tag, or the pressure of a friend telling us “it’s only $10,” somehow we’ve all been maneuvered into buying things that break, wear, tear, and honestly just weren’t worth it. This article will explore why bargain hunting can lead to excessive accumulation and the psychology of why viewing purchases as investments eliminates noise, rush, and clutter in our lives.

The first problem arises in the craze of bargain hunting. While finding a great deal can sometimes be fun, this concept has been sensationalized to form a community of coupon-cutting and barcode-scanning fanatics. Entire financial blogs, apps, and even television shows are dedicated to fueling this lifestyle of price-matching and finding the best deal. Yes, taking advantage of coupons or finding less expensive alternatives can be a convenient way to save money. But the bargain hunting habits have the potential to consume time and energy that could be spent in more meaningful areas of life. And many times, the bargains can be deceiving or unnecessary purchases anyway. So why all the attention on coupons and bargains and great deals? One word: control.Read More

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A Look into Our Nation’s First Coins

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Leading up to the year of 1792, the United States experienced great confusion concerning the value of different coins and currencies in circulation. Spanish silver and English shillings were two of the most common mediums of exchange, but the intricate conversion tables led to burdensome trade and commerce.

Congress – led by Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton – promoted the decimal system as a means of breaking from the past and establishing US currency as its own entity. Several years later on April 2, 1792, the Coinage Act of 1792 (also known as the Mint Act) established this monetary system and set the stage for some of our nation’s earliest and rarest coins.

Henry Voight was one of the first designers of U.S. coins. He applied for a job at the United States mint in 1791 sooner after the institution was newly installed. Though his personal life proved to be a bit scandalous, Voight’s exceptional experience with machining and coining opened doors for him. Less than one month after the Coinage Act was signed into law, Washington appointed Voight as the Acting Chief Coiner of US Mint on June 1. He was a primary designer and engraver of some of our nation’s first coins. And a little over one more month after Voight’s installment as Chief Coiner, Thomas Jefferson reported that there were 1500 half dimes of new coinage.

Let’s take a look into some of our nation’s oldest coins and rare designs. All photos courtesy of USA Coin Book.

Flowing Hair Liberty Large Cent with a linked chain on the reverse side of the coin. 



Voight’s design of Flowing Hair Liberty Large Cent with a wreath on the reverse


These cents contain eleven penny-weights of copper.


Liberty Cap Half Cent design officially made by Joseph Wright, but some believe it was designed by Henry Voight.



Voight also created and produced several rarer and uncommon coins, including the 1792 Silver Center Cent and the 1792 Half Disme.

1792 Silver Center Cent designed by Henry Voigt


The 1792 Silver Cent was designed to help maintain intrinsic value by inserting silver metal in the center of the copper coin. The coin consists of the flowing hair liberty and the words “LIBERTY PARENT OF SCIENCE AND INDUST” with a wreath on the reverse side of the coin. However, this coin was too much work to reproduce and was disregarded and replaced by the pure Copper Large Cent.  One of these coins sold for $414,000 in 2002 and PCGS offered an uncirculated MS61 grade silver center cent for over $1 million, according to the USA Coin Book.

The 1792 Half Disme


Voight played a key role in the production of the 1792 Half Disme. According to the Coinage Act of 1792, half dismes were to each “be the value of one twentieth of a dollar, and to contain eighteen grains and nine sexteenths parts of a grain of pure, or twenty grains and four fifth parts of a grain of standard silver.” These silver coins were fashioned in the basement of a local saw-maker shop in Philadelphia before the actual mint buildings had been completed, according to USA Coin Book. The article continues to explain that only 1500 of them were made and only 200-400 of these silver coins still exist today. One of the uncirculated coins was sold in 2006 for $1,322,00 and another for $1,500,0 in 2007, according to the USA Coin Book article.

From Copper to Gold Value – Today’s Investments Came From Yesterday’s Coins

The gold price and coins such as the American Eagle is what drives investment interest today, it is good to sometimes step back and understand the history of our money. It brings to light the timelessness of gold’s value and why gold and silver coins continue to be highly sought after.

Click here to read more on Henry Voight and early US coins.

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gold bullion

Gold demand at record levels in Q1 2016

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The World Gold Council reports that gold demand surged in the first three months of this year. That would certainly help explain why the price of gold has surged from $1,060 to nearly $1,300 in that time frame. They reported that the increase was driven by “huge” purchases of gold ETFs due to investor concerns regarding an uncertain financial landscape.

This is how we would expect the price of gold to act given such demand. However, in the coming years economic and financial system uncertainty will continue to be in the news. Thus while we expect significant volatility in the coming months, the long term price trend appears to have shifted from the sideways to down pattern we have experienced for the past four plus years. As always, we believe physical gold and silver bullion is the best way to own gold and silver.

The next 12 to 24 months should be a good time to dollar cost average into the market as we get set for a major change in the direction of the price of silver and gold and a possible multi-year bull market beyond 2017.

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The Psychology Behind Avoidance Coping

OWNx Team Retirement Planning

The fear of bad news often prevents us from sustaining healthy lives. We cancel our dentist appointments the day before so we don’t have to hear if we’ve acquired new cavities. We avoid stepping on the scale so we don’t have to acknowledge the extra piece of birthday cake we somehow “misplaced.” And some of us ignore our bank statements so we don’t have to panic or feel overwhelmed with guilt when we go out for dinner with friends that evening.

This behavior is common, but it also can be crippling when it comes to financial health. The idea of “ignorance is bliss” might resonate with most of us and seem like a good approach when it comes to avoiding financial stress, but realistically, preparedness is security. And ignorant “bliss” isn’t really all that blissful when every time we swipe a card we wonder if we’re cutting it too close. Responsible and financially sound people should never voluntarily choose to live in ignorance.

For those of us wanting to live simpler lives and take ownership of our finances, it’s time to call out this behavior for what it is: avoidance coping.Read More

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Florida Family Finds Buried Gold Coins from 1715 Sunken Spanish Fleets

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A Florida family announced they recovered $1 million worth of sunken treasure from the Spanish treasure fleet’s shipwrecks off the coast of Florida. Today also marks the 300th anniversary of the shipwrecks. The Schmitt family kept their findings a secret for nearly a month from the public, but finally held a press-conference to announce their discovery and allow the public to view photos of the recovered gold coins.

The Schmitts are subcontractors to 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels LLC. Among the findings are 51 gold coins, 40 feet of intricate gold chain, and one extremely rare gold coin that is worth more than half a million dollars alone. This particular coin is “called a Royal made for the king of Spain, Phillip V.” A news release reports that only a few are known to exist and the coin, also called the “Tricentennial Royal,” bears the date 1715.

Brent Brisben and his father, William Brisben, manage all of the historic shipwreck salvage operations through Queens Jewels LLC. Brisben said he, the Schmitts, and the treasure will be featured Fox News on Wednesday morning.

Of the 11 ships that sank off the coast of Florida 300 years ago, Brisben said the 1715 Fleet “has positively identified six of those ships,” according to Florida Today.

“Five more are remaining,” Brisben said in a Florida Today article, “with an estimated $400 million worth of treasure still out there.”

While this isn’t your standard way to accumulate gold and silver coins, if you have the means, it could be an exciting way to go about it. There are still five ships out there!

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China’s gold exchange gains traction

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Foreign banks and trading houses have signed up for China’s planned global gold exchange. New members and major players in the industry are intrigued to have access to China as the biggest gold consumer worldwide and to trade commodities in the yuan currency, according to Reuters.

China seeks to challenge the dominance of London and New York in trading and the strong reaction from foreign players is supporting this goal. By gaining pricing power over the metal, China will further establish its leadership as the primary golden global leader.

Ten more companies than originally expected signed up for the Shanghai Gold Exchange. Though 30 companies were approached for the first round of membership, 40 have signed up before the exchange launches in just one month.

The global trading community will watch the exchange closely since “gold is one of the first commodities that China is opening up to foreign players by allowing them to participate directly in physical trade and to use offshore yuan,” according to the article.

The article also explains that operations will begin on Sept. 29 in the Shanghai free-trade zone, with three yuan-denominated physical gold contracts of 100 grams, 1 kg, and the bigger London gold delivery bar weighing 12.5 kg.

“It is too important a market to stay away,” said Bernhard Schnellmann, director of Swiss-based Argor-Heraeus, one of the world’s biggest gold refineries, which is consider joining. “I think the SGE will be successful with this new exchange as they have a big home market and there should be enough liquidity.”

Click here to read the full article.

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India Finds New Gold Smuggling Route

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India has such an insatiable appetite for gold that smugglers are finding new ways to avoid the 10 percent import duty and sneak the precious metal into the country illegally. By avoiding the duty and meeting the high demand, gold smuggling now ranges from swallowing nuggets to hiding bars in dead cows, according to NDTV.


In one case, a gold exporting firm tried to bypass restrictions by using a tax-free special economic zone. However, the owner of the firm was arrested when police stopped a car trying to take 25 gold bars, worth about $1 million, out of that zone.

The ministry of commerce, which is in charge of special economic zones, did not reply to any requests for comments. This new scheme reveals that there are more complicated and sophisticated strategies being made by smugglers to take huge profits on gold in the domestic market by not paying the import tax.

However, all 185 of these special economic zones are now vulnerable to gold smuggling activities.

The World Gold Council estimates that 150-200 tonnes of gold illegally entered India last year. You can read more about this here.

Click here to read the full article.


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300-year old buried treasure found in Florida

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ownx-gold-pykA man from Florida recently discovered a “priceless” religious artifact from the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, according to ABC News (a video of the discovery is posted on ABC’s article). The sunken treasure was discovered by a 27-year-old professional salvager last month on a scavenging hunt with his family. The treasure was found at the site of a 300-year-old shipwreck off the coast of Ft. Pierce and is the missing piece of a necklace that was discovered at the same site in 1989.

Called a pyx, the ornate gold trinket is a Spanish artifact used by priests to hold the communion host, Brent Brisben, the operations manager of Queen Jewels, said to ABC News.

“We find shipwrecked artifacts on a daily basis, but it’s more like ship spikes and musket balls, so when you get an extremely rare, unique piece like this, it’s exciting,” Brisen told ABC.

Eric Schmidtt, the man who discovered the piece, dug up more than $300,000 worth of gold chains and coins from the same wreckage just last year. Schmidtt and his family own a company called Booty Salvage that searches for buried treasure and work for Brisben’s company, which owns the rights to the wreckage and other sites, according to the article.

The article says the shipwreck where the piece was found is one of the most important in history. Several galleons packed with treasures from the New World left Havana and were bound for Spain before they were taken down by a hurricane in 1715.

A pyx is the container in which the consecrated bread of the Eucharist is kept. In other words, it’s a simple small container with a lid that holds a few pieces of the bread taken during communion.

The shipwreck involved multiple Spanish treasure fleets off the coast of Florida. It was common from the mid-16th to the mid-18th century for heavily armed fleets to transport massive amounts of New World treasure from the Americas back to Spain, according to the National Park Service and the U.S. Department of the Interior. This treasure fleet system is what helped boost Spain’s ability to become a New World empire and become the most powerful nation in Europe at that time. Pirates and privateers from rival European countries would threaten to seize the treasure on the fleets’ return home voyage. However, the men on the fleets feared the hurricanes more than the pirates.

One survivor of the wreck, Miguel de Lima, was the owner of the Urca de Lima, a ship from the 1715 fleet that was not entirely destroyed from the hurricane. Miguel described his experience:

“The sun disappeared and the wind increased in velocity coming from the east and east northeast. The seas became very giant in size, the wind continued blowing us toward shore, pushing us into shallow water. It soon happened that we were unable to use any sail at all… and we were at the mercy of the wind and water, always driven closer to shore. Having then lost all of our masts, all of the ships were wrecked on the shore, and with the exception of mind, broke to pieces.”

In 1715, a fleet of these ships were almost entirely destroyed by an unexpected and deadly hurricane. The wreckage lay forgotten for more than 200 years before modern treasure hunters discovered several of them, according to NPS.

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7 Places to Get Free Personal Finance Classes

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Businessman Describing Investment Strategies

image credit: Wise Bread

With all the buzz about student debt, risky stocks, and mortgage fraud, some people might be in a bit of a panic. The thought of money management is intimidating for many people. And even though we linked to an article the other day about how to raise money-smart kids, some parents might feel inadequate to teach their children about money since they themselves don’t feel as if they have a good handle on their finances. In fact, more than 80 percent of teachers in America said they don’t feel equipped to teach about personal finance.

It is becoming glaringly apparent that understanding personal finance is one of the vital keys to becoming debt-free or making wise choices for school or retirement and living life in general. But maybe you’re busy, you have other responsibilities, and completely reorganizing your lifestyle sounds too exhausting to begin. At the same time, you know that a personal finance class would be an extremely beneficial resource to you or your family. (See also: 12 Steps to Better Money Management).

What many people don’t realize is that personal finance classes are widely available for free (emphasis on the free). Some of these classes are offered by major universities like Yale and Purdue, while others are available online through other resources.

A Wise Bread article lists 10 great, free options for those interesting in taking a personal finance class. Completing this material will improve your ability to save money, budget, extend cash flow, and even learn more about investments and savings. Some of the courses listed below are specific to a certain area such as retirement or financial markets, and some offer more broad personal finance instruction. We selected seven of their 10 classes that relate directly to personal finance, but you can read the full list here.

1. MoneySKILL

Wise Bread says this free resource is aimed to instruct young adults on how to manage their money. There are different modules and a demo of the actual program.

 2. CNN Money 101

The course is given in 23 different lessons and the material covers everything from budgeting to managing a 401(k). The lessons range from topics covering setting priorities, controlling debt, buying a car to estate planning! This is a great overview of all things personal finance.

3. Free Kindle Resources from Bob Lotich

Bob Lotich is an award-winning blogger who has been writing about personal finance since 2007. He writes mostly about becoming debt free, charitable giving, and budgeting for both personal and family life. He has several books that are available for free via Kindle.

4. Family Finance from Utah State University

This course is geared for families who want to establish and reach financial goals as a family. There are some practical exercises, like buying a major appliance, taking home inventory, buying versus leasing, and other helpful topics that involve the whole family on how to plan, save, and spend together.

5. Money Management International

Money Management International (MMI) offers different resources for personal finance topics such as frugal living, bankruptcy, holiday spending and budgeting. There is also a series of webinars you can attend if they fit into your schedule!

6. Planning a Secure Retirement from Purdue

If saving for retirement scares you or sounds stressful, then this eight-module course is for you. The earlier you can start planning and saving, the better off you’ll be. But you can’t start until you hop over your fear and educate yourself on all things retirement! Don’t let your fear keep you from making personal strides towards financial security.

7. Personal Finance from Missouri State University (iTunes U)

This full-scale personal finance course is presented in a video format and includes eight classes ranging from 20 to 40 minutes. It covers the basics of personal finance

Just Start Now.

There is no reason you can’t overcome your fears and feel confident in your ability to manage your finances. With all of the free resources listed here and uploaded all over the internet, all it takes is some time, effort, and diligence to begin practicing better money management. And with the guidance of professionals and experts who share their advice to willing listeners, you can begin transforming the way you handle your personal finances today.

 Click here to read the full article.

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The best states for kids’ economic well-being

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Some states are doing better than others at providing economically secure homes. This Market Watch article explains that in 2012 about 31 percent of children had parents without secure employment, compared with 27 percent in 2008. Our economy is still being impacted by long-term unemployment.

“When parents are unemployed or earn low wages, they may struggle to meet their children’s most basic needs,” according to a report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a Baltimore-based philanthropy. “Economic uncertainty also increases parental stress, which, in turn, can compromise parenting.”

The report details indicate that certain states are doing substantially better than others regarding children’s overall economic well-being. North Dakota ranked No. 1 for kids’ economic well-being.


According to the report, here are the best fives states when it comes to kids’ economic well-being:

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Iowa
  4. Minnesota
  5. Nebraska

And here are the five worst:

50. Mississippi
49. New Mexico
48. California
47. Nevada
46. Arizona

While this report might show some unfavorable data for some states, every family can learn the skills and build better money management habits! Don’t let this map or data scare you, but take advantage of the fact that there are many resources out there that help train people in every stage of life to take a hold of their finances! We’ve written a simple article about “The 12 Steps to Better Money Management” to help get you started!

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