I guess I’m what you could call an armchair environmentalist.
Standing on the side of the road on Unter den Linden (the main drag in East Berlin) in 1990, being choked by the fumes emanating from the hundreds of two-stroke Trabants and Wartburgs passing by, I became convinced at an early age that once fouled, the air we breathe becomes much less enjoyable. I’m no environmental crusader, but certain things are just common sense. I try not to throw things out before they’re used up or broken beyond repair. I try not to take more than I need. I recycle.
That having been said, I still drive on the weekends, and when I go camping, I light a fire, even if I don’t need to; I’m certainly no tree-hugging granola-muncher.
Yes, you’re in the right place; this is a personal finance blog.
I can’t claim the halo of being a hard-core environmentalist, but it struck me the other while on a walk that lots of frugal habits, as well as being financially sound, have the additional benefit of being good for the environment.
As I boldly claimed on the Start Here page when I was first establishing this site, with the wealth of information currently available on the Internet, there is no excuse for not informing yourself about consumer purchases before plunking down your money. Consumer reviews on the Internet are a great place to get customers’ honest opinions about products, right? Well, as I came to realize, no. Honest, independent consumer reviews seem to be another thing that the Internet has given and then, for the chance to make a quick buck, taken away. When looking up opinions and reviews online, it’s definitely caveat emptor.
To select the sites I discuss in this post, I started with the Top20Sites.com’s Top Consumer Review Sites list. To be honest, I didn’t get all that far before I realized that I was wasting my time. Maybe this list was put together poorly, or maybe most of the consumer review sites out there are garbage; it’s hard to say. At any rate, a lot of the sites on that list are not what they first appear. At the end of this post, I’ll tell you which review site I trust the most, and why.
When I was first considering investing in the stock market, one of the things that struck me was that some stocks seemed to chug along relatively steadily, while others rose and fell like some kind of Fear Factor Ultimate Challenge roller coaster ride. I was looking to make money, not lose sleep, so I was quite happy to forego the highs and lows of certain stocks for the steady-eddies that just kept on keeping on. As a happy coincidence, dividend stocks, which I was investigating at the time, are much more the former than the latter. As my stock research became more focused on the types of stocks that paid stead dividends, I ran across fewer and fewer high flyers. Still, I wondered, is there a way to quantify the volatility of a stock?
The answer is yes, and the number that name that is given to the describing of this characteristic is beta.