Fred Wilson, a NYC venture capitalist:

As I look over the business plans and projections that these entrepreneurs share with us, one thing I constantly see is a lack of sophistication in calculating the investor’s return.

He explains the “cash flow method” of calculating a Return on Investment (ROI)… assuming you’re able to project your income. As always, there are some interesting tidbits in the comments.

[Via Dan Benjamin]

In the face of the worst economic upheaval since the Great Depression, millions of Americans are hurting. The […] interactive map serves as a vivid representation of just how much.

I already feel fortunate to still be gainfully employed, but now even more so. I have quite a few acquaintances who are part of the “more than 31 million people” and my heart goes out to them.

[Via Daring Fireball]

MacHeist is giving away six free apps this week!
Joining in on the fun, 100 developers are putting software on sale.
Use the “OneFingerDiscount” coupon code, and get 20% off.

One Finger Discount currently includes the following personal finance applications for the Mac: Cashculator, Horizon, Chronicle 2, and Moneydance. There’s only one day left and remember that you should click through to aforementioned programs from the One Finger Discount site.

[Via Daring Fireball]

David McCandless:

This image arose out of a frustration with the reporting of billion dollar amounts in the media. That is, they’re reported as self-evident facts, when, in fact, they’re mind-boggling and near incomprehensible without context.

His image does an excellent job providing relative comparisons between various billions earned or spent, visually.

[Via Jonathan Butler]

To call out, cool off, and end the drama he and Jim Cramer had brewing last week, Jon Stewart devoted the entirety of Thursday’s episode of The Daily Show to an interview with him. I didn’t realize that it had actually been edited down and happened across the extended & uncensored version over the weekend. It is far better and a must watch.

Note: As the language is uncensored, I won’t directly embed the videos.

[Via Todd Dailey]

A classic digital short from Saturday Night Live.

“Well, let’s say I don’t have enough money to buy something, should I buy it anyway?”

“No.”

Simple and straightforward to follow. We may not all be in debt because of buying ‘stuff’, but we surely don’t need to buy more when we don’t have the money. I’m guilty of this.

[Via Smarty Pig]

Comedian Louis C.K., on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, discussing how things have changed during his lifetime:

And then, if you wanted money you had to go in the bank for… when it was open for, like, three hours… you had to stand in line, write yourself a check like an idiot, and then, when you ran out of money, you would just go, “Oh, well, I can’t do anymore things now.”

Now our, “Crappiest generation of spoiled idiots,” just continues to borrow when we’re out of money. I catch myself putting stuff on my credit card all the time because I (1) didn’t get cash out, (2) am waiting for payday, or (3) really can’t afford it at all.

BTW – Can anyone help me find a higher quality, more official link to this clip?

[Via Leo Babauta]

A wonderfully arranged 11 minute animation giving an even broader overview of the credit crisis than the FRONTLINE documentary.

Note: He got slammed with a $6K hosting bill over the weekend due to it’s popularity, so buy a shirt to help him pay the bills.

Update: Embedded the entire video from Vimeo instead of the two-parter from YouTube, for your viewing pleasure.

[Via Daring Fireball]

A nice graphic showing how the money being spent in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be divvied up. For some reason it works a better for me than the bar graphs on front page of recovery.gov.

[Via Signal vs. Noise]

This afternoon’s episode of American Public Media’s The Story starts off with an interview with a Barbara, a member of Debtors Anonymous. Eye-opening.

How does she manage now that she’s off credit? Cash-only. She has a strict spending plan, tracks her checking account carefully, and only uses a debit card for the few times when she’d need a credit card (at the gas pump, online purchases, etc.)

Do you feel you’re addicted to credit? It’s definitely a crutch I need to get off of.

[Via VPR]

Like me, you should have received you 2008 W2s sometime around last week and it’s now time to think about gathering all your tax forms together and getting them filed. For the last few years I’ve been using TurboTax to save myself a lot of time & frustration.

I’d suggest buying TurboTax 2008 for Mac & PC as you can use it for everyone in your household, but TurboTax Online is also a great option and is a little less expensive. With the latter, it’s free if you only need to file a 1040EZ!

Of course, if you buy from one of the above links you’ll also help support this site.

Mint has just released a free native application for the iPhone and iPod touch that allows you to browse your Mint account (including account balances, transactions, budgets, etc.) quickly and natively. Nice.

[Via Mint]

This documentary is excellent look at where more and more of us are heading and some of the predatory lending that helped get us there. It doesn’t really provide any answers, but it’s reassuring that we’re not alone in this situation and it’s important to be aware of the pitfalls.

I streamed it from Netflix, but you can also borrow it from your local library or buy it from Amazon and iTunes.

Peter Schiff tried to warn us about not only the real estate crash, but also the subsequent Wallstreet crash and credit crunch. Remember Warren Buffett’s words: “[B]e fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful.”

[Via 37signals]

I’ve been seeing the bizarre ads on Hulu for FeedThePig.org and finally broke down and visited the site. It turns out that, “the goal of the campaign is to encourage the 40 million Americans age 25 to 34 to take control of their personal finances.”

Considering how off-putting the commercials are, I’m concerned about their effectiveness. That said, they do have useful links to financial calculators on their Resources page. Especially helpful are the Roll-Down Your Credit Card Debt and Don’t Delay Your Savings tools.

Leo Babauta on getting out of debt:

I highly recommend that people get out of debt and stay out of debt, especially as the economy hits difficult times. It’s not a good position to be in if you lose your job while burdened with lots of debt. Better: become debt-free, with a good emergency fund and a small budget. That’s recession-proof personal finances.

He has more helpful and inspiring articles in the Finance & Family section of his site.

Geezeo is a free web-based personal finance application that makes it easy to track all your finances, see where all your money is going, set financial goals and learn from others.

Another personal finance site along the lines of Wesabe which not only includes the basic tools offered by Mint, Yodlee MoneyCenter, and Quicken Online, but is integrated with a community for that “positive public pressure” and swapping of tips.

[Via My Money Blog]

I never realized that Yodlee, who sells their bank account data roundup services to Mint, actually had their own free online money management software as well.

In addition to the standard personal finance functionality offered by the likes of Quicken Online, Wesabe, and Mint, MoneyCenter’s more advanced features include a BillPay service, financial calendar (when bills are due and such), and a credit card rewards center.

[Via My Money Blog]

Last week, Intuit switched their web-based version of Quicken from a subscription service to a completely free service. I’ve used their desktop software for the Mac in the past and I use TurboTax every year, so I’ll have to give it a try.

Of course, I’ve been very happy with Mint over the past year.

[Via Get Rich Slowly]

SmartyPig is for people who want to save for specific goals. […] Just tell us what you’re saving for, how much you want to save and when you want to reach your goal, and we’ll suggest an automatic monthly deposit you’ll make from your existing checking or saving account until you reach your goal.

An interesting and probably very helpful concept. It’s got a higher interest rate (3.9% APY at the time of writing) than my ING Direct Orange Savings account which just—understandably—dropped from 3.0% APY to 2.75% APY.

The downside: you won’t be earning as much interest as you would if you kept all your savings together. However, the fact that others can contribute to your goals and that you’re looking at “goals” as opposed to account numbers are probably significant benefits.

Of course, it’s FDIC insured.

A Consumerist reader on how she payed off $14,300 in debt over a period of 20 months:

Instead of making a bunch of changes at once, I did things a little over time[…] It’s maybe not in the order that makes the most sense to a financial planner or in the order that someone else would do things; I just know that it worked for me.

Includes a summary of the first 6 months of her plan, much of which is what I plan to do. It’s always good to read success stories.