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Week 4 Big Ten Football Power Poll: Investment Vehicles

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Because football and fiscal responsibility go hand-in-hand.

There comes a time in every young person’s life where they learn the value of a dollar. Whether you worked hard to make sales at your front yard lemonade stand or you had your homeland bombed to ashes in the name of Big Oil, at some point you started developing an understanding that money rules all. There’s a ton of ways for a person to make money though, and some are definitely better than others. As the B1G season kicked off for many teams we take a look at how everyone is stacking up, but ALSO acknowledge that stacking up is a term that you can use for money things too. Time to put on your computer helmet and brace yourself for how you may or may not be ruining your family’s future!

(1) Ohio State Buckeyes: Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

Last Week: #1 | High: 1 | Low: 2 | Avg: 1.06 | First Place Votes: 17

Ohio State appears to be firing on all cylinders whether it’s offense, defense, or special teams. They’ve accumulated nothing but blowout wins over the course of the season, they look the part of a CFP contender, and with Urban Meyer now patrolling the sideline again and potentially remembering details of the gameplan, the long-term outlook in Columbus is nothing but positive.

Meanwhile, HSAs are awesome. It’s the only legitimate benefit that has what is considered a triple tax advantage: your contributions, the interest/growth, and your expenses are all tax-free. I don’t know about you but I just went from six to midnight. On top of that, you can invest those contributions in mutual funds and/or a money market account, much like a 401(k). There’s no deadline to use the money you’ve put in; you could have a medical expense in 2018 and not reimburse yourself until 2030 and Uncle Sam isn’t even going to scoff or offer you more affordable healthcare. Even if you use your HSA for something against the rules you just pay a modest penalty on that expense and move on with no real consequences! No…no real consequences.

(2) Penn State Nittany Lions: Employer Retirement Accounts (401k, 403b, etc.)

Last Week: #2 | High: 1 | Low: 3 | Avg: 2.00 | First Place Votes: 1

For most people, employer-sponsored retirement accounts are the big piece of the pie for long-term savings. Sizeable amounts can be contributed per year, tax-deferred if desired, and invested in a variety of funds without having to worry about capital gains. Employers often add their contributions to your account, just for being you, big guy. Taxes only come into play once, either right away or in retirement. Sometimes you can take out loans to save your ass if you do something dumb like break your foot or bet on Rutgers. For the most part if you put in whatever you can you help yourself out in the long run, no talent required. Hashtag segue y’all. Outside of a close call with Appalachian State in the opener, Penn State has transitioned past some key departures unscathed, and if they can knock off OSU on Saturday they look poised to make a B1G run and go a long way toward proving there’s more to James Franklin than Saquon and a great (now departed) OC.

(3) Michigan Wolverines: Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs)

Last Week: #4 | High: 2 | Low: 6 | Avg: 3.56

Listen, if you watch the University of Michigan football team and you don’t immediately think of Individual Retirement Accounts, I mean...I don’t know how to help you. These bad boys aren’t quite as prolific as your 401ks, but they do allow you to invest in way more funds than what your company picks out for you. It’s a great way to take advantage of some tax-privileged saving if you can’t do so at work, too. Likewise Michigan doesn’t have the firepower of an OSU or PSU, but they are capable across the board and look like a sound investment after beating the fructose out of Nebraska.

(4) Wisconsin Badgers: Brokerage Accounts

Last Week: #5 | High: 3 | Low: 5 | Avg: 3.61

Brokerage accounts can be considered the king in a way because for those that are fortunate enough to invest heavily, there isn’t a cap on how much can be added to the fund like there is for the options above, you can invest in whatever you want, and you can pull the money out whenever you need. But with that comes the negative: you have to pay taxes and commissions related to all that activity and it’s way easier to lose everything by doing something stupid. Wisconsin is a good program surrounded by rebuilds and, depending on where we are in the Ferentzian contract cycle, a fiesty Iowa. This gives them an easy ride to the CCG more often than not, but in return it amplifies the critiques of their schedule and the division setup. And just like it’s a struggle for brokerages to overcome the benefit of the tax-advantaged accounts, Wisconsin continues to struggle to overcome the East in the CCG.

(5) Michigan State Spartans: 529 Plans

Last Week: #8 | High: 4 | Low: 7 | Avg: 5.39

529 plans serve the niche investment goal of investing tax-deferred money for higher education expenses for you or a beneficiary of your choice. Michigan State serves the niche demographic that is state residents that weren’t smart enough to either a) get into the University of Michigan, or b) leave the state immediately upon discovering “a.” While a good investment tool, it really can only be used for schooling without penalty, investing options are quite limited, and it can mess with financial aid eligibility of the beneficiary. The Spartans have seen their rushing attack barely produce and they failed to overcome known cheaters Arizona State in Tempe. If they can find their groove they’ll remain a player in the B1G race.

(6) Iowa Hawkeyes: Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Lending

Last Week: #3 | High: 4 | Low: 9 | Avg: 6.00

Peer-to-peer lending provides an online platform for both lenders and borrowers to find each other. It is beneficial to borrowers because they can potentially take out a loan with a lower interest rate or can get a loan that banks aren’t willing to cover. Lenders can invest by funding a fraction of loans (as little as ~$25 each in most cases) and taking in the repayments with very profitable interest rates. The downside is that there is almost no protection against someone taking out a loan and just walking away with it (though it destroys their credit), and the funds are highly illiquid, so if the investments are needed back it can take years. Iowa of course is forever locked into the Kirk Ferentz contract, currently stuck with Kirk for another 8(!) years whether it works out or not, lest they want to buy him out for $20+ million. He’s not a bad coach, but where I really want him around is my side of a negotiating table.

(7) Maryland Terrapins: Real Estate

Last Week: #9 | High: 5 | Low: 9 | Avg: 6.67

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Investing in real estate involves the purchase of land or any structure on it for the purpose of earning money. This can be done many ways including leasing a residential or commercial property, lending money to real estate developers, and flipping houses. Disadvantages include the typical need of already having a lot of capital for transactions, lack of liquidity, and deadbeat renters that mess up your property all gross-like. On the field Maryland has largely navigated its own offseason mess with success, beating Texas and blowing out Minnesota. But it takes a lot more talent to be able to rise above the big boys in the East, and it remains to be seen if Maryland’s program is capable of doing that.

(8) Indiana Hoosiers: Savings Accounts

Last Week: #6 | High: 7 | Low: 10 | Avg: 8.39

Not everyone is comfortable with taking on a lot of risk, and savings accounts offer protection with a sprinkle of upside. There’s no opportunity to invest for stronger gains, but money kept in a savings account is insured and earns a modest interest rate (some online banks are hovering around 2% these days, check ‘em out if you’re still in the .01% crowd). Indiana didn’t opt to make a splash hire after Kevin Wilson resigned, instead looking internally to a safer pick in then-DC Tom Allen. While Allen understandably doesn’t have Indiana threatening the rest of the East yet, Indiana has produced some results and looks to be solidly in the middle of the pack in a perhaps underwhelming B1G.

(9) Purdue Boilermakers: Cash

Last Week: #13 | High: 7 | Low: 12 | Avg: 9.44

Ever make a really bad investment, distrust everything about “the system,” and pull everything out to regroup? Purdue bottomed out with the Darrell Hazell hire and needed a complete reset. With Jeff Brohm on board, even in a down year Purdue is looking like at least a power bottom. Purdue appears to be suffering after losing numerous key seniors, but the outlook isn’t nearly as dire as the Hazell era and the win over a ranked Boston College is encouraging. Perhaps the biggest problem with cash is that if it is stolen then it is extremely difficult to recover, and if a bigger program decides they want to steal Brohm at whatever cost Purdue will be back to the drawing board.

(10) Northwestern Wildcats: Precious Metals

Last Week: #10 | High: 8 | Low: 12 | Avg: 9.89

People that like to invest in precious metals like gold and silver do so because they are real, tangible materials and they aren’t necessarily subject to the same downfalls of inflation or an economic crash. The problem is that society’s values in an apocalyptic environment probably don’t jump to metals over something more useful to them in the moment, like porn. Metals can go south merely if people decide they don’t matter anymore, and Northwestern went south when the universe was a real dick and decided Jeremy Larkin doesn’t get to play football anymore. Whether they can bounce back will help determine if they are more platinum or more Korn.

(11) Minnesota Golden Gophers: Cryptocurrency

Last Week: #7 | High: 8 | Low: 11 | Avg: 10.11

Cryptocurrency is just like PJ Fleck, except Fleck hasn’t provided Minnesota with a random momentary upswing yet. Unless beating Fresno State is an improvement. Like Western Michigan with Fleck, some have gambled on crypto and seen great returns at times. But that’s the problem with crypto: it’s glorified gambling on hype, and if you buy in at the peak of the hype you’re staring at a long ride down. Is Fleck in over his head in the B1G? The jury is out, but the Gophers will have an extra week to row a boat or fillet a fish or whatever to prepare for the punch in the teeth that is playing against Iowa.

(12) Illinois Fighting Illini: Illinois

Last Week: #11 | High: 11 | Low: 13 | Avg: 12.28

I can’t think of a better state for the Illinois football program to reside in than Illinois. As a football fan you invest and invest and your returns are dismal: a floundering new coach here, another season-ending injury to your lone good player there, a three-win season everywhere. It feels as dire as the state of Illinois, where no matter how much the people are taxed, the $15 billion in debts doesn’t seem to improve and the quarter-trillion in retirement funding owed to public employees looms. The Illinois budget hasn’t balanced since 2001, and the football team didn’t survive much later than that (shoutout to Juice).

(13) Nebraska Cornhuskers: Student Loans

Last Week: #12 | High: 12 | Low: 14 | Avg: 12.67 | Last Place Votes: 1

Invest in yourself! Go to college! It’ll be the best thing you can do for yourself! That six figure cumulative total? Well look at you doing math like you’re people! No worries, just take out a loan and we’ll take care of the rest!

Then flash forward to the first payment and holy cats reality is hitting you faster than you can say Ndamukong Frazier Pelini the Third. College degrees are essential to getting most reasonable entry level jobs, and tuition has risen to such extreme heights that hefty loans are depended on more than ever. Nebraska’s restlessness to return to national prominence also steadily builds, and it needs Scott Frost to get it there. But loans can be a painful means to an end, and Frost’s early start has shown nothing but proof that the rebuild will be long and arduous.

Now to be fair, student loans can indeed end up paying themselves off numerous times over for many people, and Scott Frost could very well become the coach of Nebraska’s dreams, but right now an overwhelming number of people are crippled by student loan debt, and a ton of Husker fans are struggling through the start of this season.

(14) Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Beanie Babies

Last Week: #14 | High: 13 | Low: 14 | Avg: 13.94 | Last Place Votes: 17

This is a divorce hearing with real people holding a Beanie Baby draft in court to split Beanie Baby assets and real people attended it and NONE OF THEM IS LAUGHING. This is not the 1999 that Prince envisioned.

Back in the late 90s (for all my 90s kids out there) there were real people that really existed that looked at these little plush animals and said, “I am going to invest everything in that.” Not the stock in the company that made them, the physical toys. People would preserve them and (especially) the tag to make sure their Beanie Babies were in mint condition so they could get thousands for them down the road. Within a few years the Beanie Baby “market” crashed, permanently bursting the bubble on retirements funded by Patti the Platypus.

Rutgers is the Beanie Babies. Rutgers fans are those people. Chris Ash is Patti. People that bought into Rutgers, both as a B1G member and in general, are left with nothing to show for it but pain and unwanted life lessons. Except for Jim Delany. Like the creator of Beanie Babies, he walks away loaded.

Buying into Rutgers in 2018 would be like buying into Beanie Babies in…2018.

Hey, wake up, the lecture is over it’s time to go. If you remember anything let us know in the comments.