TGIF: Christmas Is Coming + Are You Smarter than a Monkey?

\"\"A Friday in December – you know what that means. Let’s tie a bow on some random thoughts for your holiday amusement. Plus we’ll issue a challenge for a battle of wits. Welcome to another edition of TGIF!

Best Christmas Gift Ever


This week my brother asked what he could get me for Christmas. As always, I want nothing, but my brother is a persistent fellow, so I have to tell him something.

I joked he could just stop at a 7-11 en route to our house Christmas Day and pick me up some beef jerky.

Then I stopped to think about that, and even scored it with the world’s best guide to Christmas gift giving.

Inexpensive? Check. Consumable? Check! Something I refuse to buy for myself? Check!! (Right now, my brain only allows me to purchase beef jerky on long road trips – I don’t know why.) Tantalizingly delicious? Check!!! Clearly, beef jerky is the best Christmas gift ever.

Finish your shopping in a flash and stuff every stocking with beef jerky. A new tradition is born, and you are headed to a magical – and memorable – Christmas celebration. You are most welcome!

Other, Less Awesome Christmas Gifts

(These are all affiliate links. You’ve been warned.)

If traditions die hard and you need something in addition to beef jerky, you’ll be delighted to know I’ve already curated a list of some of the season’s best.

Like a Waterproof Lottery Ticket

Have you ever been in the shower and felt the desperate need to gamble? I know, right? All of us have. It is so annoying to have to dry off and put on your clothes before you can indulge your addiction.

Now that’s thankfully in the past. Money Soap is the answer! For only ~$12, you get a bar of soap with money inside! “Find a surprise of a 1$, 5$, 10$, 20$ or even a 50$ bill.\”

I admire this product so much, I’ve even penned a tag line for them: “This Christmas, give your loved ones Money Soap – they can really clean up.” Yeah!

Stylish AND Functional

Sometimes I’m not 100% current with the latest fashions, but I recognize a winner when I see one. Recently I spied a dashing bit of fashion: the Bluetooth Beanie Winter Knit Hat. That’s right, it takes the enduring, debonair style of the beanie and amps it up with the jealousy-inspiring awesomeness of Bluetooth. However, this product also offers a cautionary tale. Its manufacturer notes:


They make an excellent point. So when you’re going to invest in a bluetooth beanie (and you should!), buy the best. Don’t buy some crappy cheating lesser brand. Buy Xikezan!

(Warning – if you click on this product, Amazon will really, really think you want a bluetooth beanie. Prolly should have said that at the top. Sorry.)

Best Gift Wrapping Ever

Have you ever picked out something truly precious for your beloved, only to cringe at the thought of wrapping it in the same cheap wrapping paper that the proles use?

Cringe no more. Now, you can use the Da Vinci Code Mini Cryptex!

Just make sure you tell her there’s something hidden inside – this treasure is so awesome she may think it’s the present itself!

The Robots Are Coming

If you have over a hundred dollars left in your budget and want to give the gift of a healthy human / robot relationship, look no further than Cosmo. What, you ask, is Cosmo? Well, he’s a little programmable robot:

Cozmo’s a supercomputer and loyal sidekick all at once. Thanks to artificial intelligence, Cozmo can express hundreds of emotions. From curious to clever, persistent to playful, he has personality x 10. He knows your name, face, and quirks. And best of all, he continues to evolve the more you hang out.

Sign me up. I’m sick of people with personality x 1.

The TV Arms Race Has a Winner

I warned you, didn’t I? Dumb TV’s are all but extinct. Thankfully, I stocked up and won’t need a new TV for years, but you may not be so lucky.

If you’re in the market and/or need a final stocking stuffer, you could do worse than the Samsung Electronics 88-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart LED TV. It’s like a car, or a year of college, only it’s a TV. Plus free shipping!


Are You Smarter than a Monkey?

I wrote about the glory of index funds, but deep down inside, we all fancy ourselves as expert stock pickers, right?

Sure, we’ve all seen studies saying dart-throwing monkeys can outpick professional investors. That’s a given.

But where are the studies comparing monkeys with amateur investors? Let’s do some science!

Announcing the 2018 Stock Picking Contest

I’m happy to announce my 2018 stock picking contest. You get to pick individual stocks like the pros, even if you’re ‘fraidy scared to buy them with real money.

How do you join?

  • Pick three (3) stocks or equity-based ETF’s from NYSE, Nasdaq, or TSX. Currencies will stay local, but if you pick an interlisted stock I’ll use the U.S. Exchange because #MAGA.
  • Send me your picks – via comment below, email (see “contact me” tab), twitter, carrier pigeon, or a handwritten note in class – on or before December 25. If you write on December 25, you must include “Merry Christmas” in your note.
  • Contest will run all of 2018 with entries judged on the average return of the three stocks including dividends. If your stock has an event (acquired / merged) the return is locked on the event date.

I could add a lot of other rules (e.g., don’t pick anything below $1 per share), but I’ll just go with “Don’t make things hard on me”. Use the Golden Rule in making your picks, and we’ll save a lot of extra stipulations.

If this contest looks suspiciously similar to Nelson’s, it’s because it is. This contest is an homage to him because he broke the sad news to me that 2017 would be his last contest year.

What About the Monkeys?

I’m glad you asked. We here at ABL can’t afford actual monkeys, but we’ve got something that is scientifically very close. From my household, we are going to have at least three different entries: one from an accomplished finance professional with all sorts of credentials and decades of investing experience, one from a 7 y.o., and one from my dog. I don’t know if being beat by a 7 y.o. or a dog is worse, but you may well find out.

That’s it for today. Happy Friday everyone!


I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. If you think you have a better gift than beef jerky, let me know in the comments.

3 thoughts on “TGIF: Christmas Is Coming + Are You Smarter than a Monkey?”

    1. Excellent! It’s great to have a strong stock analyst like you in the mix. I imagine with all of your detailed research you’ve picked out three winners. Let’s take a look…VYM (Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF), OK; TLT (iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF), ummmmmmmmm….; GLD (SPDR Gold Shares), huh.

      It feels like when you heard, “Fortune favors the bold!” you pulled the bed covers back over your head 🙂 I was even planning on pushing back since these clearly aren’t all stocks or equity-based ETF’s, but then my dog told me to allow it as he’s excited to wipe the floor with your entry.

      I’m sure there will be some gentle fun poked in your direction for these picks, but you may beat many an entrant who instead swings for the fences. Good luck!

  1. Hi Paul –

    Here are my picks:

    FRT (Federal Realty Trust)
    GOOGL (Alphabet)
    PAYX (Paychex)

    I recognize that I am 3 days late with my picks, but if you could kindly check with your dog and see if he will accept my submission.

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