United States dollar

A Treasury Official in 1866 Put His Own Face on U.S. Currency

Front of the five-cent bill featuring Clark
Front of the five-cent bill featuring Clark

In 1866, Spencer M. Clark, then Superintendent of the National Currency Bureau, made a daring decision: to print his own face on U.S. currency.

Clark, who served as Superintendent from 1862 to 1868, had no authorization from his superiors to do this. But U.S. paper bills were in flux because of the recent introduction of fractional money, and as the supervisor of the new bills, he was in a unique position to influence the design.

From 1862 to 1876, the U.S. Treasury issued fractional money to combat a growing coin shortage. “At the beginning of the Civil War,” according to the website Antique Money, “people started hoarding coins for their precious metal content.” To avoid a crisis, the Treasury introduced paper money to represent a cent amount rather than a dollar amount. These fractional bills were physically smaller than dollars and consisted of three-cent, five-cent, 10-cent, 25-cent, and 50-cent notes.

Back of the five-cent bill
Back of the five-cent bill National Numismatic Collection/ Smithsonian Institution/Public Domain

It was the third issue of that five-cent note that caught Clark’s attention. Congress had asked for the note to honor William Clark of the Lewis and Clark explorations. But allegedly, the document that reached the Treasury specified only that the new bill should honor “Clark,” without clarifying which one—and Spencer M. Clark, despite surely knowing Congress’s true intention, seized the opportunity to print his own face on the bill.

The move infuriated Congress. Clark was already roundly disliked because of the scandals he had brought the…

This 98-Year-Old Just Donated $2 Million In Stock To Create A 395-Acre Wildlife Refuge

98-year-old Russ Gremel has led a simple life, with no one knowing he was a millionaire the entire time. Until recently, that is, when the elderly man donated 2 million dollars to the 395-acre Gremel Wildlife Sanctuary to protect wetlands in Amboy, Illinois – so people could come out and enjoy nature the way he did as a kid. “I’m a very simple man,” says Gremel. “I never let anybody know I had that kind of money.”

Gremel grew up poor as his family lost everything after the 1929 stock market crash, so the man learned how to be happy and content with whatever he had from the early days.

Around 70 years ago, Gremel bought $1,007 of stock in…

The Fascinating Story of How the “What Would Jesus Do?” Slogan Came About

WWJD

What Would Jesus Do?, often shortened to WWJD? or W.W.J.D. is a slogan so famous that millions of objects have been emblazoned with it. However, the person who came up with “W.W.J.D.” never saw a penny of the millions of dollars companies across the globe have made from it.

The earliest known instance of the full slogan “What Would Jesus Do” dates all the way back to 1886 from a series of serial sermons by an American minister from Topeka, Kansas by the name of Charles Sheldon. Each week, Sheldon would tell an entertaining story, posing the question, “What would Jesus do?” when characters came across a difficult moral decision or situation. To increase attendance at his Sunday night sermons, Sheldon would end each story on a cliffhanger ensuring the people there would come back the following week to learn what happened next.

These sermons proved to be immensely popular. Spurred on by their popularity, Sheldon got them published in Congregationalist Magazine, and they were soon put together into the book, In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?

As for the man, Sheldon was an advocate of Christian socialism, despising capitalism, ironically enough. He was also a firm supporter of gender and racial equality, as well as an advocate for the humane treatment of animals, including being a vegetarian. This is not overly remarkable today, but in the late nineteenth century was quite a radical stance on all four fronts. Besides being among the few white ministers of the day to not only allow, but openly invite, black people to become full members of his church, he also openly spoke out against the KKK to their faces and wasn’t shy about slamming anti-Semites whenever he encountered them. He further encouraged women in his congregation to become involved in politics to help in the fight for equal rights for women, including in the workplace. Again, he believed we were all equal in God’s eyes; if this way of thinking was good enough for God, it should be good enough for everyone.

Considering his stance on capitalism, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that after a copyright hiccup saw his book placed in the public domain shortly after being published, it didn’t bother him much. He remained unbothered when the book went on to be one of the top 50 or so bestselling books of all time without him earning much of anything from it; he was mostly just happy the message was being spread, and that maybe more people would spend some time contemplating Jesus because of it. A few of the publishers who were raking in the dough thanks to his book…

The Fascinating Story of How the “What Would Jesus Do?” Slogan Came About

WWJD

What Would Jesus Do?, often shortened to WWJD? or W.W.J.D. is a slogan so famous that millions of objects have been emblazoned with it. However, the person who came up with “W.W.J.D.” never saw a penny of the millions of dollars companies across the globe have made from it.

The earliest known instance of the full slogan “What Would Jesus Do” dates all the way back to 1886 from a series of serial sermons by an American minister from Topeka, Kansas by the name of Charles Sheldon. Each week, Sheldon would tell an entertaining story, posing the question, “What would Jesus do?” when characters came across a difficult moral decision or situation. To increase attendance at his Sunday night sermons, Sheldon would end each story on a cliffhanger ensuring the people there would come back the following week to learn what happened next.

These sermons proved to be immensely popular. Spurred on by their popularity, Sheldon got them published in Congregationalist Magazine, and they were soon put together into the book, In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?

As for the man, Sheldon was an advocate of Christian socialism, despising capitalism, ironically enough. He was also a firm supporter of gender and racial equality, as well as an advocate for the humane treatment of animals, including being a vegetarian. This is not overly remarkable today, but in the late nineteenth century was quite a radical stance on all four fronts. Besides being among the few white ministers of the day to not only allow, but openly invite, black people to become full members of his church, he also openly spoke out against the KKK to their faces and wasn’t shy about slamming anti-Semites whenever he encountered them. He further encouraged women in his congregation to become involved in politics to help in the fight for equal rights for women, including in the workplace. Again, he believed we were all equal in God’s eyes; if this way of thinking was good enough for God, it should be good enough for everyone.

Considering his stance on capitalism, it probably won’t surprise you to learn that after a copyright hiccup saw his book placed in the public domain shortly after being published, it didn’t bother him much. He remained unbothered when the book went on to be one of the top 50 or so bestselling books of all time without him earning much of anything from it; he was mostly just happy the message was being spread, and that maybe more people would spend some time contemplating Jesus because of it. A few of the publishers who were raking in the dough thanks to his book…

3 Costs to Consider When Mass Manufacturing a Hardware Product

Developing a new electronic product that can be sold in volume is not simple or cheap. Underestimating all of the costs involved is one of the most critical mistakes made by those wanting to bring a new hardware product to market.

If you want to create a new hardware product, development costs will be your first major financial obstacle (assuming you do not immediately patent your product). Roughly 60-80% of the development cost will consist of engineering fees. The remaining 20-40% comprises the prototyping expenses. Development costs for most hardware products can be broken down into three categories: the electronics, the enclosure, and the retail package.

The Electronics

For most hardware products, the electronics are the most complicated and costly piece to develop.

For most new products the electronics will be the most expensive piece to develop.

Hire an Independent Engineer

Since engineering fees are usually the largest chunk of the development costs, your best strategy to minimize the required capital is to reduce the amount of engineering required. If you are experienced with designing electronics then you can save yourself a lot of money. If you are not, you may want to consider bringing on a co-founder with the necessary experience. However, for most startups, the best option is to hire an independent engineer to design the electronics.

One suggestion to lower both your development cost and risk is to hire a second independent engineer to review the work of your primary engineer. This strategy will reduce the likelihood of any design errors, which ultimately means fewer prototype iterations and lower engineering fees.

At Predictable Designs, not only do we offer design review services, but we also always have other engineers review our designs before prototyping. It is just a smart step that will not cost you that much extra, and may save you thousands of dollars.

Getting design reviews also makes it more realistic to hire lower cost Asian engineers to develop your product. Normally this is not recommended unless you have the necessary skills and experience to judge their work. However, if you had the necessary design skills to review their work, you would likely just develop the product yourself. So in most cases the best option is to hire another independent engineer that you have already established some trust with to review the work. This trick can potentially cut your development costs in half or more.

Tip: Find a manufacturer willing to help you offset some of the development costs. Many factories have an engineering department that may have extra time available. If you can find a factory that is not at manufacturing capacity, they will be more likely to help you. That being said, from my experience you need to have at least a first level prototype and/or…

How These 8 Company Stocks Fared Following Scandal

From bad business decisions to PR nightmares (looking at you, United Airlines), negative news can crush a company’s bottom line and send investors fleeing. But not all scandals — or their fallouts — are the same. Some companies rebound quickly, while others spend years recovering — or go out of business altogether.

Let’s take a look at some of the largest corporate scandals in recent memory, and their impact on shareholders.

1. Tyco

This was one of the biggest corporate scandals in the early part of the millennium. CEO Dennis Kozlowski and CFO Mark Swartz were convicted of grand larceny after improperly awarding themselves millions of dollars in bonuses. Details of the lavish $2 million birthday party that Kozlowski threw for his wife made for great tabloid fodder.

Tyco’s shares took a hit in the short term, but the company’s underlying business in security and fire protection systems was still sound. Over the years, Tyco has split into multiple firms, leaving patient investors with shares of a diverse array of companies — many of which have outperformed the markets. Pentair, a company that acquired one Tyco division in 2012, has seen shares rise more than 40 percent. Johnson Controls bought Tyco last year and then spun off its automotive seating business, Adient. Adient shares are up 55 percent since the spinoff in November. (Disclosure: I own some shares of Johnson Controls, Adient, TE Connectivity, and Pentair.)

2. Chipotle Mexican Grill

The burrito chain faced scandal in 2015 after an E. coli outbreak affected dozens of customers. The company’s share price suffered for months as investors wondered whether it had a handle on food safety. Those issues appear to be in the past now, and shares have risen 23 percent in 2017. Still, they fail to come anywhere close to the highs of two years ago.

3. Samsung

Samsung was forced to recall all of its Galaxy Note 7 devices last year after reports of the phones catching fire due to battery defects. The discontinuation of the high-end phone cost…

8 Times You Need to Walk Away From Your Dream Home

You think you’ve found the perfect house. But before you plunge into homeownership, you need to watch out for any warning signs this sale isn’t meant to be. Ask yourself whether any of these things apply to you. If so, buying the home of your dreams may just have to wait.

1. You can’t afford 20 percent down

The house may have everything you are looking for, but you need to make sure that the sale price isn’t beyond your means. Ideally, you want to make a down payment of at least 20 percent. This may be a substantial amount of money, but without that down payment, your lender will likely ask you to pay for private mortgage insurance — which can add hundreds of dollars a year to your homeownership costs.

Moreover, the more you can put down up front, the smaller your monthly mortgage payments will be. If you are in the market for a home but can’t hit that 20 percent mark, consider holding off on buying until you have a larger sum saved. (See also: 4 Easy Ways to Start Saving for a Down Payment on a Home)

2. Your mortgage payments would restrict your ability to save

Even if you have the ability to put 20 percent down on the house, you may find that the monthly mortgage payments are higher than you can reasonably afford. The U.S. government recommends spending no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income on housing. That means if you earn $3,000 per month before taxes, you shouldn’t spend more than $900 per month on your mortgage.

You may get approved for a loan much bigger than you expected, but don’t use this as an excuse to buy more house than you can afford. If your payments are too high, you will find it harder to live comfortably or save money for anything besides housing costs. If you have to go into additional debt in order to make house payments, then your “dream home” could become more of a financial nightmare. (See also: How to Make Ends Meet When You’re House Poor)

3. You didn’t get a favorable interest rate

There are two key things that impact how much you’ll end up paying for a house: the sale price, and the interest rate on the mortgage loan. Even if the sale price is within your predetermined budget, you may find your monthly payments to be onerous if…

This Couple Makes Up To $9000 Per Instagram Photo While Traveling, And Here’s How They Do It

Jack Morris and Lauren Bullen have been living what most people on Instagram would call “life goals” since they met in Fiji last year. Not only do they spend their days documenting their world travels with flawless photos, they get paid up to $9000 USD for each one they post.

With Jack now at 2 million Instagram followers, and Lauren close behind with 1.2 million, the couple now makes enough money from the brands and tourism companies that sponsor them to fully supplement regular adventures around the globe, as well as a home base in Bali. In a Q&A recently posted to his official website, DoYouTravel, Jack shared a few tips that helped propel him and Lauren to Insta-fame, and you may want to take notes.

“I edit all my photos in the same kind of style with my own lightroom presets,” he said of their dreamy ‘matching’ effect. He also added that the couple mostly shoots around 1 hour after sunrise, since that tends to be the quietest time of day. The couple reportedly won’t take less than $3000 USD for a post.

Read Jack’s full Q&A here, though be warned – it just might make your dayjob a little harder to get through.

Jack Morris and his girlfriend, Lauren Bullen, have made a living off traveling the world

instagram-travel-couple-photos-1

10 Ways Anyone Can Go Solar and Save on Energy

The more electricity you use, the more you pay for it. And in a world that is becoming increasingly dependent upon tech devices, something’s gotta give. Luckily, there’s a way to save money on those bills and help the environment, all at the same time. You just need to capture those intense rays of sunshine and use them for free energy. There are many ways you can harvest energy from the sun. Some methods are free and have been in use for thousands of years. Others require an investment in technology, but in some cases you can even make money by capturing free energy from the sun and selling it!

1. Solar panels

A few years ago, it would have been unusual to spot a house with solar panels on the roof, but now solar panels seem to be popping up in neighborhoods all over. If you have a south-facing roof (or west-facing) and get lots of sunny days in your area, installing solar panels to generate electricity can be a smart investment. The cost of solar panels has dropped in recent years, and with major players such as Tesla starting to produce solar panels, further price drops and improvements in capability may lie ahead. If your solar panels generate more electricity than you use, in many states you can sell this extra energy to the utility company and make money through net metering programs.

Cost: Thousands of dollars up front, depending on square footage installed.

Potential savings: About a thousand dollars per year, depending on your location.

DIY? No, solar panels typically require professional installation.

2. Passive solar heating

This method of harvesting energy from the sun is not new and does not require any special technology. My house has a solarium with south-facing windows to allow sunlight to flood in during winter months. The solarium walls capture the warmth and radiate it back into the house, providing free heating. Any south-facing windows you have in your house will work to provide heating benefits in winter. Open curtains on your south-facing windows on winter days to let light and heat in. Close curtains at night during winter and when the sun is shining in during the summer.

Cost: Free if you have south-facing windows.

Potential savings: Hundreds of dollars per year.

DIY? No, look for south-facing windows when choosing or building a house.

3. Solar water heater

Heating water requires a lot of energy, so why not capture some of that free energy from the sun instead of running up your electric or gas bill? A solar water heater circulates water through an insulated collector using a water tank that is painted black to maximize heat collection. This hot water can be used directly or can be fed into a traditional water heater to save energy.