Shark Tank: Playing the Home Game Edition

 

With few exceptions, devotees of the business reality show Shark Tank almost always harbor a secret desire to sit side by side doing deals with the likes of Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Barbara Corcoran, and Kevin O'Leary (aka Mr. Wonderful). These guys make it look so easy; cherry picking the best of the best all the while lounging comfortably in a studio set made to resemble your typical living room.

What most of us fail to appreciate however, is the show's producers have already sifted through thousands of truly awful pitches before curating the 3 or 4 worthy of making their way into each episode. While the end result makes for compelling TV, the practiced observer sees there's also a bit of financial slight of hand that cleverly obscures a textbook case of survivor bias. That is, the tendency to overestimate the odds of investment success by drawing a circle around a pre-selected subset of the original data pool and then declaring whatever happens to fall inside the lines as the intended "bullseye".

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When Disaster Strikes a Blow

In recent days Hurricane Harvey has already cut a broad swath of destruction through Houston and up along the Texas coastline. The devastation caused by Hurricane Irma's post Labor Day path through the eastern Caribbean and up the gulf coast of Florida is still being tallied. While the loss of life won't be as horrific as some feared before the storm made landfall, one thing is certain...the bill for all the property damage is going to be a whopper.

By some estimates, in the US alone the total combined clean-up costs of these two powerful storms will exceed $100 billion and could swell to 2 or 3 times that amount by the time the water recedes. 

To put that number in perspective, the low end of the cleanup estimate is enough to hand out a $100,000 no-strings-attached scholarship to every single U.S. student currently enrolled in a 4 year college or university. Sadly, many of the hurricane losses will be completely uninsured and the financial and emotional burden will likely fall on the shoulders of some of the most vulnerable.

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A Better Way to Give: 3 Strategies to Maximize Donations

 

Research has revealed that spending money on others actually makes us happier than spending it on ourselves. According to the Giving USA Foundation, a record amount of money was given to U.S. charities in 2016. The rise in total giving was spurred largely by giving from individuals versus foundations, estates and corporations. Apparently we've discovered a loophole in the old adage "Money doesn't buy happiness". If you are considering making a relatively substantial donation to a charitable organization, it is in your best interest, as well as the cause that is important to you, to seek out the most effective manner to bring about maximum benefit.

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