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Why Words with Friends should restore your faith in humanity

Over 20 million people are addicted.

The maker of some of the most popular video games on the planet, Zynga, has just made a fortune.  Yesterday, the company — which makes Words with Friends, Farmville, and other games played mostly on Facebook and mobile phones — priced its initial public offering at $10 a share, raising about $1 billion for the company. 

Not a bad day’s work.

But what makes this a big deal, literally, is more than the staggering amount of dough.  When you reflect on just how fragile an economy we have in the U.S.– a system plagued over the last few years by mortgage-backed investment scandals, Bernie Madoff, auto industry bailouts, TARP, and so much more — you realize how many things can go wrong.  It’s more than enough to discourage you.

When so many things can be corrupted, politicized, and made to fail, it’s nice to remind ourselves that the basics of our free market economy still work — despite a global economic downturn.  Zynga created (and acquired, in some cases) products that have such a huge demand, people were willing to part with $1 billion to grab a piece.  Their products are so good they’re addictive: 20 million people have installed Words, and 31 million play Farmville daily.  I’ve seen folks unable to remove themselves from picking crops for hours.  And recently, Alec Baldwin was so engrossed in his Words game, he couldn’t put down his phone during takeoff — an act which got him kicked off the plane in the process.

So my message is simply: have hope.  Even if the economy is rough in your neck of the woods, and corruption and fraud are seemingly everywhere, you can still succeed through basic supply and demand fundamentals.  Make a widget that everybody wants, and you can still profit richly.

That’s the American Dream after all, isn’t it?

 
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Posted by on December 16, 2011 in Random, Thoughts, Work

 

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What spooks you about finances?

(Originally posted on USAA’s Inside the Mission blog)

At some level, we probably all have fears about finances.  As Halloween approaches, I’m wondering what spooks people the most about money. Are you afraid of looking at your bills each month?  Do you dread talking to your spouse about spending?  Are you worried about what the continued sagging economy means to your family? Here are my top 3 concerns about finances.  What are yours?

  1. Will I have enough for retirement?  Although USAA has a great employee 401k plan, it seems that maintaining even a modest lifestyle in retirement will require more than I could ever realistically sock away.
  2. Will my children have enough saved to go to college?  When each of our kids were born, we started 529 savings plansfor them, but the costs of education continue to skyrocket (maybe that’s why they call it “higher education”?).
  3. Will I need to provide for parents or other family members as well as my own family? I’m officially in the “sandwich generation” – so will caring for aging relatives prevent me from reaching my own financial goals?

While financial fears can be quite real, it’s good to know that USAA has tons of money advice, planning tools and other resources, right here on this site. Use the comment space below to post your own top 3 list, as well as what you do to overcome your fears.

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2011 in Family, Thoughts, Work

 

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