Labor Day Weekend Links: Insurance for Freelancers, Google Looks For Money Advice, Vanguard Canada, and More

I hope that everyone managed to have a relaxing and refreshing long weekend. I managed to catch up on some Instapaper reading, and here are some links worth sharing:

Freelancer’s Union
Independent workers make up 30% of the nation’s workforce, and the FreeLancer’s Union is trying to help organize them into a stronger community. The primary reason I found this interesting is in limited geographical areas, they offer ways to get affordable health, dental, and disability insurance to freelance workers. Finding non-employer-linked insurance is a big concern of mine in the future, and perhaps more localized freelancer groups can help.

The best investment advice you’ll never get (San Francisco Magazine)
In 2004, when Google’s IPO occurred and made hundreds of young multimillionaires that quite possibly had no idea how to handle that money, their management team did something very clever. Instead of just shunting them to Goldman Sachs or Morgan Stanley “predators” :), they brought in a series of speakers to talk about investing. This included names like Bill Sharpe, Burton Malkiel, and Jack Bogle. Read this (long) article to see what they were shown.

Vanguard Is Coming To Canada (Marketwatch)
I did not know this, but according this article Canadian investors are not able to buy Vanguard mutual funds offered in the US. They can, however, buy the same Vanguard ETFs. Well, Vanguard has recently announced that it plans to open 6 low-cost index ETFs for the Canadian market, including an MSCI Canada ETF, a Canada Aggregate Bond Index ETF, a CAD-hedged US Total Market ETF, and a CAD-hedged EAFA Index Fund. It may also open corresponding open-ended mutual funds. This development should put significant pressure to lower costs across the industry.

Intuitive Probabilities – Blackjack and Loss Rebates (Kid Dynamite)
There was some buzz recently about a guy playing high-stakes blackjack that walked away with another $1 million winning session. It was revealed that to entice his play, the casino actually rebated 20% of his losses. Basically, he got to keep whatever he won, but if he lost $1 million, he would only have to pay $800k. This may sound like a sweet deal, but this article shows that with as little as 100 hands played in a session, the casino is still theoretically ahead. The house still wins. Kind of like a lot of hedge funds. You give them your money to invest/gamble, and if they win, they keep 20% of the winnings. If they lose, hey, it was your money. 🙂

Create Time to Change Your Life (Zen Habits)
Making clear priorities allows to you see what you need to do, but you also need to cut out some existing things as well. You may think you can just cram it all in, but you really can’t without burning out eventually.

Chase British Airways Card: $50 off two meals at Michelin-starred restaurants
If you got this card from the previous 100k mile bonus offer, they are offering two $50 off $50 purchases at fancy-schmancy restaurants with Michelin stars. A nice perk, although a meal at these places can easily run a lot more than fifty bucks. I’m sad to say I have never eaten at any of these fine establishments. Le Bernardin would be top on my list.

Refinancing While Underwater (NYT)
Includes different options on how to refinance your mortgage if your home’s value has dropped such that you owe more than your house is worth.

If your loan is owned by Fannie or Freddie, you may qualify for the Home Affordable Refinance Program, or HARP. Some 2.5 million to 3 million homeowners may be eligible to use HARP, according to government estimates — provided, among other things, that they have not been late on their payments more than once in the last 12 months.


  1. Jonathan @ Seedling says:

    Thanks for the British Airways/Michelin tip!! I’ve literally spent hours on over the last few days (booking a multi-leg rewards trip to South America), so I’m surprised I missed it. Although I won’t get to take advantage of the deal, my wife is certainly grateful that I passed on the tip, as she’ll be in NYC this month. Thanks again.

  2. “Finding non-employer-linked insurance is a big concern of mine in the future, and perhaps more localized freelancer groups can help.”

    This is one reason why I am happy to see employer-sponsored healthcare be phased out. Once people are no longer desperately tied to a job for healthcare, a lot more entrepreneurs can start out and grow a business without being saddled with ever skyrocketing health care costs of predominantly overweight and unhealthy people.

    We will then see how at-will employment works in the traditional way instead of the more recently perverse “Will-work-to-see-a-Doctor.”

  3. @Jon,
    Any clue on how to determine whether your loan is owned by owned by Fannie or Freddie?

    I am not sure whether it is a better option. Because of Obama’s policy a number of large corporations are starting to move away from offering health insurance and opt for the public option. Everyone should pay close attention in the next couple years to see how this play out.

Speak Your Mind