Havoc's Blog

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Tag: finance

Some personal finance answers

I contribute to money.stackexchange.com sometimes; the site doesn’t get a ton of traffic yet, sadly. Some of the stuff I’ve written over there is as good (or bad) as my blog posts over here, so I thought I’d link to some highlights. Where to start with personal finance: my take was, don’t start with investing. […]

Individual mandate and the power to tax

I happened to stumble on this Yale Law Journal Online article yesterday. I hadn’t realized what the court cases about the individual mandate were (at least in part) arguing. Credits and penalties The individual mandate is structured as a tax penalty (i.e. an extra tax hike) if you don’t have health insurance. Those of us […]

Take risks in life, for savings choose a balanced fund

Many of us read one or two investment books, and take away that younger people should take more risk. If you buy a “target date retirement” fund in your 20s, you might end up invested 85% or more in stocks. If you’re in the tech industry, young, fired up about entrepreneurship, immune to risk — you […]

Why the credit crisis matters

In an effort to outdo other software developers in nerdiness, I read a blog called Accrued Interest, subtitle “Come for the analysis and research on the U.S. Bond market. Stay for the geeky Star Wars references.” Accrued Interest has a nice explanation of how the credit crisis affects everyone. Here’s another good one from the […]


Worst stock plunge in 20 years. Here’s a relevant post from last year, when the stock plunge was much less dramatic. Lessons for the next bull market (yes there will be one eventually): Low interest rates and high liquidity do not mean stock prices will stay up. Those things are indicators of insufficient risk premiums, […]

Return on Equity

Most people know about the price/earnings ratio. If you want to learn one more thing about financial numbers, return on equity could be a good choice. Return on equity is annual profit divided by net worth. If you have $100 in net worth, and make $10 in annual profit, then you are making 10% ROE. […]


Even though I spend all day as a software developer, I find it useful to understand something about financial and business topics. Many people (including a much younger version of myself) reflexively dismiss business – marketing, finance, etc. – as irrelevant to them. Sometimes this is because people think of business as in some way […]

Average basis

I can’t seem to write a Python function that will spit out the same numbers for average cost basis that Vanguard puts on their statement. My many Google attempts are not turning up any description of the average tax basis algorithm (single or double category) that is precise enough to implement. All of them parrot […]

Index funds

I meant to toss out a couple thoughts when Robert blogged about index funds, reminded by a Wall Street Journal article yesterday pointing out that the S&P 500 has gone nowhere over the last 9 years. Here are said thoughts: Lots of sensible advisers will tell you to buy index funds, but importantly, the advice […]

Money Math

While I’m on financial topics, if you don’t know how to do “time value of money” math you should stop and learn about it right now. For all I know I’m the only person who didn’t learn this in high school, but in case there’s someone else, here’s a blog post. Because of inflation and […]