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Personal Finance Links (Just Links Edition)

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My wife is going on a business trip for the next two weeks. The day she gets back we have a few hours before we hop on a plane to vacation Aruba. Well use all my previous tips to save money in Aruba. Before I can think about vacation though, I'm going to have to deal with the new tenant that moved in this week and the lack of hot water at the place (the heater is less than two years old).

On top of all that, MonaVie sent me a second cease and desist letter (here's information on the first. Tomorrow, I will talk to a superstar lawyer about on that. I also have a post on the topic that's currently around 3,400 words coming up tomorrow. MonaVie is going to be regret the day that they tried to suppress my MonaVie article.

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Posted on September 13, 2009.

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17 Responses to “Personal Finance Links (Just Links Edition)”

  1. Mia Bond says:

    This info about MonaVie is really interesting, and I appreciate your posting it. What really makes me curious is how people can sell the product on eBay at less than the cost that distributors pay. First, I know that it is against the company’s terms to sell this way, but how do the sellers get the product at a lower price than what they sell it for?

    I read some of the comments. One mentioned that if this formula had value, Big Pharma would be all over it. Actually, the price of MonaVie, huge as it is, is minuscule compared to medical care. Pharma dispenses drugs that guarantee future illness, and nothing requires that the drugs work. If the patient is allergic or dies, pharma and the physician are off the hook – and there is no refund. I don’t understand this talk about tort reform, but that’s another topic for another day. The point is, MonaVie has a price, and you know what that price is going in. The cost of medical care is unlimited, equally potentially fraudulent, and likely with a greater risk of harm. I’d like to say my choice is clear, but in fact, I have no choice other than to take or leave interesting products that may have value.

    Thanks to your helpful article that goes so far as to tell us where to purchase the product, I’ve ordered some. I want to personally see and test the product. You could say that I’m vulnerable to this kind of thing, because I don’t have access to medical care, and this household depends on what we can do independently.

    I will be reading your blog and have subscribed, and thanks again.

  2. Lazy Man says:

    There are two theories on the cheap Ebay supply:

    1) That these are people getting what they can for juice they bought and can’t sell anywhere else.

    2) That MonaVie is leaking product to some people secretly at prices less than the cost that the distributor’s pay.

    Mia said:
    “Actually, the price of MonaVie, huge as it is, is minuscule compared to medical care.”

    That’s why “Big Pharma” would be all over it if it was effective. Something that works better, doesn’t require any new R&D, and is minuscule in price would make it a huge win for any Big Pharma company.

    Mia Bond said, “Pharma dispenses drugs that guarantee future illness, and nothing requires that the drugs work.”

    Umm, if drugs guarantee future illness there are huge lawsuits. See Vioxx for example. The FDAs lengthy approval process requires that these drugs work. Scientific evidence is shown again and again – as opposed to MonaVie which has zero scientific evidence to show that it might even work. I’d rather having something shown effective in clinical trials time and time again, then something never shown to be effective at all.

    Mia Bond,
    “The point is, MonaVie has a price, and you know what that price is going in. ”

    Yes, you know what MonaVie costs, but why are you comparing it to medicine? I know what chocolate costs and I’m not comparing that to medicine. I don’t know anyone who compare any product in their refrigerator or pantry to medicine, so why should you? I would suggest that you compare MonaVie to what it is, juice.

    That means that if you pay $1.70 an ounce for MonaVie, the better cost alternative would be to spend $0.07 cents on V8 Fusion Acai Berry juice.

  3. Mia Bond says:

    When I went to the company website, I looked at an application for distributorship. It was stressed that no purchase was necessary to sign up, but I guess if one does that, it might look like a good option to do auto-ship. It just seems as though that would be a lot of product to accumulate to be able to sell it on eBay. Which brings up the point that it is legitimate business to purchase the product at a lower cost and sell it on eBay for a profit – and NO TAX or shipping! Big customer savings when buying something pricey. MLMs, on the other hand, are not standard and not a way to make money, as far as I’m concerned. Distributors are the customers of the ones making money. Your #2 theory makes some sense, too, in that it would also explain how the sellers are getting away with what is supposedly illegal.

    I put some stock in science, but acknowledge its failures. The effects of treatments are shown over time. Tylenol was given away to hospitals in the beginning, and very good doctors prescribed it. However, it is a very harmful drug, and marginally effective. The company even advertises on TV that caution should be used in using it – after many years of having it assumed to be very safe. I’m allergic to penicillin, so the science of that doesn’t mean much to me personally.

    I compare MonaVie and whatever I consume to medicine, because that’s how I look at it and use it. I’ve never seen V8 Fusion, but would guess that it is not the same product as MonaVie. I did look at a juice blend including acai at the store, but want to try the specific MonaVie blend. I may well try the V8 or others in the future for comparison.

    Also, about chocolate. It is medicine – a laxative – for some people I know! It doesn’t have that effect on me, which brings me to the point that every one of us is different. Science and statistics don’t mean much to the one who defies them, for better or worse.

  4. Candace says:

    Lazy Man,
    I am eagerly awaiting your next post on the MonaVie topic. 8-)

  5. Lazy Man says:

    I would say that Tylenol has done a lot more good than bad. It’s a tool like any other. You could say that people die in car accidents every year, but if used properly the good responsible use of a car far outweighs the bad. With Tylenol the good responsible use of it outweighs the bad.

    As for penicillin, I’m sorry that you are allergic to it, but please realize that it has helped save hundreds of millions (maybe billions) of lives. I know people allergic to bees, yet they still recognize that honey is a tasty food… and that they help pollinate plants.

    Mia, I think you might be in the minority looking for medical properties in common foods. There’s a reason why the FDA (FOOD and DRUG Administration) has made a clear distinction between the two. In fact, if someone tells you that MonaVie has medicinal properties, they may be breaking the law.

    I’m sure that V8 Fusion isn’t the same product as MonaVie, but Coke isn’t the same product as Pepsi either. Lindt’s chocolate isn’t the same product as Godiva.

    I don’t know anyone that would try to cure their ailments by trying every brand of every food available. It would literally take you years. If your finances are strained in any way, I don’t know why you’d start at the most expensive end of the spectrum of foods. If science doesn’t mean much, why not start with all the varieties of cheap noodles. Ramen is a brand that I enjoyed in college.

  6. Mia Bond says:

    You have a positive view of Tylenol. I don’t, and won’t have it in my house. But I do get your point – it’s really a matter of which gambles we want to take, what each of us considers worth the risk. Some people don’t think twice about what medications they take.

    Penicillin was a major discovery, and that’s why I used it as an example. It may come from valid science and bring successful treatment for many, but it can kill those who are allergic to it. If some people can be allergic to (or have failed treatment from) scientifically proven drugs, could it follow that something else (even something unproven!) could have a good effect on some people? Scientists aren’t the only ones who can do testing.

    I know about the laws regarding making medical claims, and am neither fan nor foe of the FDA, though I probably lean toward the latter.

    The Father of Medicine himself, Hippocrates, has been quoted as having said, “Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food”. I don’t mind being in the minority, but don’t intend to try every food available. I will not be eating Ramen! Bite your tongue!

    I guess I’m a sucker for the exclusivity of MonaVie, but if I find it of no benefit – or find that the grocery store variety/blends of acai are equally beneficial – I’ll be glad to have learned something. Actually, though, with all this info and stuff going on with you and the company, it is really not looking good…for them.

  7. Lazy Man says:

    There are people in the comments who have had allergic reactions to MonaVie, so just pointing that out.

    Mia said:
    If some people can be allergic to (or have failed treatment from) scientifically proven drugs, could it follow that something else (even something unproven!) could have a good effect on some people?

    True, but how do determine which “something else” to try. There are thousands of things in GNC to try. Is it possible that one could have a good effect on some people? Sure! Are you going to go to GNC and drop down some $20 on each of 1000 products ($20,000) on hunch that you might find it? That doesn’t seem practical. Now that’s just one store, there are many more other products to try.

    With all due respect to Hippocrates, he was born around 1800 years before we realized the earth was round. Let’s just say that the technology available to him didn’t really allow for much more.

    I don’t know what makes you think that MonaVie is exclusive. It’s not like you have to have permit to drink it. I could go on Craigslist tomorrow morning and probably have some by noon.

    I will just point you to Men’s Journal (http://www.mensjournal.com/superjuices-on-trial) who had MonaVie independently tested and found it to test very poorly in nutrition. It might not be as bad as Ramen, but keep in mind that you are paying 10-20x as much for MonaVie and receiving a small fraction of the nutritional benefit as grape juice.

  8. Mia Bond says:

    Thanks for that Men’s Journal link, useful info. I ordered the Pulse version, not Active, as I don’t have a need for glucosamine/chondroitin. If I find the MonaVie of no value, I’ll likely post here to that effect. Not that it really matters, because I am only me – anyone else’s mileage may vary. But if I like the product and find benefits, I should probably only say that I like it, because beyond that is presumptuous and probably illegal. I’m not a doctor. Just playing one in my own life.

    And again, glad to find your blog! I like the personal finance theme. Also like getting off on tangents ;)

  9. Craig says:

    Wow this whole MonaVie situation is interesting. Clearly of little to no medical value at all. Not surprising at all that distributors and company management would want to protect that secret!! I never even heard of it until you brought it up on your blog, but glad to never have to get pitched this by “so-called” friends.

  10. mapgirl says:

    Thanks for link! I’m glad you liked the post. I did a follow up on it since I caught so much flak for the grocery bill. But if you add in all the camping gear I own already, it’s a seriously expensive hobby. I suppose the advocates of camping as a family vacation are assuming people already own stuff and then it’s true, an additional camping trip is relatively inexpensive.

  11. Randy says:

    So, is the Aruba trip an attempt to avoid the lawsuit? Did I miss something?

  12. Mia Bond says:

    I happened to see the V8 Fusion today in the store, and also received my shipment of Monavie Pulse. These are two different things, and it can’t be said that buying the former saves you money on the same product. I’m assuming that ingredients are listed in order of highest concentration first –

    V8 Fusion: Acai Mixed Berry Рsweet potatoes, purple carrots, carrots, apples, white grapes, a̤ai, blueberries, limes.

    Monavie Pulse: blend of açai (freeze-dried powder and whole juice), reconstituted fruit juice blend (Concord grape blend, pineapple, apple, prickly pear, pomegranate, elderberry, yumberry, bilberry, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, cranberry, raspberry, aronia), puree fruit blend (acerola, strawberry, cupuaçu, camu camu), plant sterols (emulsified with corn syrup solids, polyglycerol esters of fatty acids, gum acacia), Apple Phyto-Phenolics (polyphenol blend), omega-3 (cranberry seed oil), resveratrol, natural flavors, potassium sorbate (preservative), sodium benzoate (preservative), citric acid

    I drank the first two ounces of the day unrefrigerated, and I did not like the taste. The bottle says to refrigerate before and after opening. Perhaps it will taste better cold.

  13. Candace says:

    Mia, compare the nutritional labels of the V8 Fusion and MonaVie. Depending which type of V8 Fusion you purchased, you may find that V8 Fusion has a higher vitamin/mineral content than MonaVie per serving.

    The Pomegranate Blueberry V8 Fusion I have sitting in my fridge shows this on the nutritional label:

    Calories:100, Total Fat:0g, Sodium:60mg, Potassium:280mg, Total Carbohydrates:25g, Sugars:23g, Protein:0g, Vitamin A:15%, Vitamin C:100%, Calcium:2%, Iron:2%, Vitamin E:10%, Folate:2%, Magnesium:4%

    Now, if you’d care to, you can post the info from the MonaVie bottle’s nutritional label. I think you will find it lacking. Even though MonaVie lists Acai as it’s first ingredient…it would appear that there is precious little acai actually in a bottle of MonaVie, or the nutritional label on a bottle of MonaVie would reflect that. At the very least the Vitamin A should be higher than it is, and there should be Vitamin E if MonaVie’s acai level is as high as MonaVie wants you to believe.

    Disclaimer: this is my opinion based on years of living and breathing. I am not a scientist, nutritionist, physician, or dietitian, nor do I represent any competing product.

  14. Lazy Man says:

    Mia,

    I don’t think anyone is saying that V8 Fusion Acai Berry and MonaVie is the same product. I’m making the claim that research shows that they are in a similar class of product. Kind of like how a Honda Accord isn’t a Toyota Camry.

    MonaVie touts it’s 19 fruits very highly… what the company doesn’t mention is that the acai could be less than 6% (if all 19 ingredients were equal). The V8 Fusion only has 8 ingredients. Acai, even being the 6th ingredient there, may be 12% of the juice (if all 8 ingredients are equal).

    Now it is very unlikely that both juices contain the same amount of ingredients. However, the point is that I can make a mathematical case that you can get twice the acai, ounce-for-ounce, in V8 Fusion Acai Berry, at 1/20th the cost. If MonaVie wants me to pay their premium price, they are going to have to justify with something logical.

  15. Mia Bond says:

    @Candace, thanks for that info, and I like your disclaimer. Here’s the label info from Monavie Pulse –

    2 oz – 45 calories – fat 1 g, 2% – sodium 30 mg, 1% – Total carb 8 g, 3% – dietary fiber < 1 g, 1%, sugars 7 g – protein < 1 g – vitamin A 4% – iron 2% – vitamin C 20% – gently flash pasteurized

    @Lazy Man Research shows they are in a similar class of product? LOL. Sorry, but that cracked me up. Not hard to amuse me ;)

    Yes, 100% is made up of the number of ingredients. Mostly I pay attention to what those ingredients are, and their order on the list. I wonder about the pasteurization, don’t really know what that is or its purpose or effect on the product. I like most of the items on the ingredient list. On the Fusion list I posted, I prefer the ingredients at the end and actually think that’s a weird combination – though it may be very healthy.

    I haven’t yet reached a personal conclusion on the stuff, other than it tastes much better cold and it needs to be well-shaken. There is a hint of a rancid taste to it, and I really had to search for the expiration date on the bottle – it’s right on the bottom, but very hard to see on the dark glass.

  16. Mia Bond says:

    Via your rss update, I see that you have a website aimed at discrediting the product. I have personally found that I don’t want to take it. However, I don’t believe that one person’s conclusion applies to all, and that it is possible that others could find use from this product. That is my view of just about everything. Everything is on an individual basis.

    I don’t know exactly why, but I felt really bad taking Monavie. Maybe it’s the iron. I have too much iron in my blood anyway, and even though the amount disclosed by “science” is small, it may have been enough to effect me negatively. I also can’t get past the rancid taste – if that’s normal, it still isn’t acceptable to me.

    I’ll be watching as this subject develops further.

  17. Lazy Man says:

    I originally came to MonaVie the same way you did Mia. I asked a question of whether the product can objectively be shown to be significantly better than other juices – enough to cover the 1000% premium. Over the course of 3000+ comments, negative things came out about MonaVie. I don’t recall one objective reason supporting MonaVie.

    So I did create a new site – a site that puts that information out there. The site is against MonaVie, but I am very careful to logically back-up every point that I make there.

    For instance the apple comparison uses the same type of test, ORAC, that MonaVie touts so highly. If MonaVie is going to say that ORAC is great, then it has to recognize that eating an apple is better.

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