Monday, December 31, 2007

Progress Report - for week ended 12/30/07

So here's my delayed progress for the month of December - got post-poned at the last minute:

  1. Send novel manuscript to 10 book agents and/or publishers - SUCCESS* - I've taken the first step at least, I sent 'query letters' to 10 agents. From what, I understand most book agents like to see a query letter before ever agreeing to look at the manuscript. I got mostly 'no thank you' responses back but two asked for additional details.
  2. Apply to 20 jobs (part-time or full-time) - I've applied to18 thus far, with any luck I'll get the last 2 applications knocked out before it's time for the ball to drop.
  3. Raise net worth to $8,500 or better - This goal is on track, as long as I don't spend too much tonight.
Hope everyone's 2008 is as good if not better than 2007! Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Quote of the Week #19

"Only buy something that you'd be perfectly happy to hold if the market shut down for 10 years."
-Warren Buffett

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

2007...what have I accomplished

So I've been mulling about posting about my New year's resolutions and what I've accomplished.

I keep a 'Goal journal' of sorts and I have been keeping this journal in one form or another since my graduation from college.

I just looked up goals dated 1/3/07 - the last one I set yearly goals for around the beginning of the year.

Among my goals - financial goals anyway - on that list were:

  • Pay off shiny 'silver' card -SUCCESS
  • Find a new Job within company - 1 week till FAILURE
  • Establish business on the web - *I'm not sure if this blog - and the few dollars I've made with it - would count as a 'business' or not.
Some things I didn't set goals for that I accomplished anyway would be:

  1. Got out of debt (then back in) then back out (then back in again)
  2. Saved approximately $2500-3000 in 401k
  3. Started a personal finance book club at work
  4. Paid for a family members birthday part in cash
  5. Paid for all Xmas gifts with cash
I'm still debating what my final year-end goals will be for 2008 but here are some preliminary ideas:
  • Get out of debt and stay out of debt...again; the 1st part is easy, the 2nd part not so much
  • Pay for wedding expenses with cash rather than credit
  • Find a new, better paying, less stressful job
  • Double current yearly income
  • Help fiance learn the benefits of being frugal
  • Become a millionaire (OK, it's not likely but you never know)
like I said - these are preliminary I'll probably finalize them over the weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

...hope everyone is enjoying what remains of the Christmas holiday.

I got a bunch of stuff and I realize I have a lot to be thankful for. Most importantly the family and friends (who texted me & called with Xmas cheer) have been there for me on this Christmas Day.

I am completely stuffed from a traditional Christmas dinner but, that is to be expected and is a pretty good side effect.

Irregardless of your faith, hopefully, you were able to have this one day off to spend with loved ones and relax - which in my book, is ultimately worth more in the long run than any amount of money.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Social LENDING...

So I was browsing around the net today and came across a video, and then this article on

Social Networking for dollars

This is a very interesting concept - one that I wish I would've thought of myself. But it appears that there are at least a few websites - Zopa, Prosper, and GlobeFunder that are focus on the idea of social lending.

I guess the gist is this: You know those 'friends' you have on myspace or facebook? Well bottom line is some have more money than you or (if you're Daddy Warbucks) some could use a buck or two from you. These sites allow you to borrow from your 'friend' who always shows pics of all the exotic places that she visits while at the same time your friend gets to earn interest on those loans. Or if you happen to have an extra $500-$25K laying around it offers a way of gaining a better interest rate than that worthless savings account you have - only with a lot more risk involved.

I just browsed the sites briefly and it seems as if Zapo only offers a 5.1% return if your a lender but, the borrowers can be charged about anything they are willing to pay above that amount.

Prosper offers rates in the 9, 10 & 11% ranges as far as a return if you're an investor.

It appears that GlobeFunder is still in the 'beta' version now so to speak and they are accepting members but not making any loans as of yet. But the homepage design appears pretty nice.

I'll have to do a little bit more research but, if they can make the loan payback a little bit more immediate and the risk factor a little less risky - I might have a great new investment avenue.

Progress Report - For week ended 12/23/07

So here's my progress so far the month of December as Christmas is just a few days away:

  1. Send novel manuscript to 10 book agents and/or publishers - SUCCESS* - I've taken the first step at least, I sent 'query letters' to 10 agents. From what, I understand most book agents like to see a query letter before ever agreeing to look at the manuscript. I got mostly 'no thank you' responses back but two asked for additional details.
  2. Apply to 20 jobs (part-time or full-time) - I've applied to seven thus far, time has not yet permitted me to apply for more. With some of the Holiday time off I'll do my best to apply to more though.
  3. Raise net worth to $8,500 or better - This goal is on track, although I did spend a little more than I wanted to last night with old friends for some Holiday libations. Hopefully, Santa may kick in with some Xmas cash and come to the rescue if necessary.
Hopefully everyone will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday season in general.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

14 trillion dollars in debt

That's what America's combined debt level is (for mortgages, car loans, personal loans and my favorite - credit cards) according to a BBC report. I couldn't quite find a way to link back to the exact article as they don't have embedded video links. But there basic Business site is:

In my opinion, that is just absolutely ridiculous - Americans as a whole are in more debt than our GOVERNMENT although they're only about 5 trillion dollars behind.

What is a trillion anyway though?

Here's an interesting link I found:

Here is an excerpt from the above link:

"The U.S. government spends more than the entire Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Australia, China and Spain combined. If you laid one dollar bills end to end, you could make a chain that stretches from earth to the moon and back again 200 times before you ran out of dollar bills! One trillion dollars would stretch nearly from the earth to the sun. It would take a military jet flying at the speed of sound, reeling out a roll of dollar bills behind it, 14 years before it reeled out one trillion dollar bills.

What is frightening is that government will continue to grow in America unless citizens prevent it. If government stays on the course it's been on for the past forty years without a radical change, the federal government will have a $10 TRILLION BUDGET by the year 2010."

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quote of the Week: #18

"The key is the Internet. The United States is by far the most advanced country in this new digital culture, so we have to be there. The Internet is the heart of this new civilization, and telecommunications are the nervous system, or circulatory system."
-Carlos Slim Helu, world's richest man (for 2007)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Weddings can be costly - when you're paying

So I did a 'high-low' budget for my impending nuptials and sent them to the boss (aka my fiance) for approval here what the damage came to:

Low: $250
High: $500

Low: $750

High: $1500

Low: $200?

High: $500?

Low: $100

High: $500?

Low: $250

High: $400

Limo/car rental:
Low: $150

High: $750

Low: ? - I have no clue

High: ? - I have no clue

Reception Hall rental:
low: $500

High: $1000

low: $2000

High: $4000

low: $500

High: $1000

Bar* (*assuming I can find a happy medium for ultra-religious adopted parents-to-be)
low: (cash bar) $500

high: (open bar) $4000

low: $2000

High: $6000

Low: $7200

High: $20,150

Dang that's expensive!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Progress Report - For week ended 12/16/07

So here's my progress so far the month of December as I approach the mid-point:

  1. Send novel manuscript to 10 book agents and/or publishers - SUCCESS* - I've taken the first step at least, I sent 'query letters' to 10 agents. From what, I understand most book agents like to see a query letter before ever agreeing to look at the manuscript. I got a response back within a couple hours from 1 agent.
  2. Apply to 20 jobs (part-time or full-time) - I've applied to seven thus far, I will try and increase this amount to the teens by this week - time permitting.
  3. Raise net worth to $8,500 or better - This goal is on track, I just need to keep X-mas expenses low.
It's been a fairly productive week - if I can just keep it up till month's end I'll be good to go heading into 2008.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Giving till it hurts.

Over the past 48 hrs I've had two interesting experiences with giving to others.

Unfortunately, both left a different (if not bad) taste in my mouth.

  1. Yesterday I helped load presents into 4 separate vehicles for an adopted family that our office building took on for the Holidays. The family apparently consisted of a mother, a father and 3 children range from a toddler to a 12-yr old. Anyway, I was amazed and somewhat envious at the amount of presents, and food and clothes this family got. I donated at least $20 towards the cause, buying nice toys for the kids - assuming the whole office building (approximately 100 people) donated the same or more - the family of 5 received over $2,000 in gifts and food and clothes. That took 2 SUV 's , 1 truck and 1 sedan car to fill.
  2. My next door neighbor 'dropped her phone in the rain' and asked if she could borrow my phone. In order to keep neighbor relations on the up and up - I let her borrow my cell phone in my apartment. About 20-30 minutes later, my neighbor has called her phone company but is still trying to find friends to pick her up because she doesn't have a car. Finally, she found a friend and was done using my phone...or so I thought. 2-3 hours later I get a knock on my door again and again I graciously offer to allow my neighbor to use my phone (thinking it was an emergency) yet over the course of her conversation with a few friends I noticed a) that she had not dropped her phone in the rain but in the toilet & b) noticed that my neighbor had no real emergency other than she was bored and did not want to stay in her apartment alone on a Saturday. I shortly 'invented' the need to call my GF ASAP.
Between these two instances, I am feeling less in the spirit of Tiny Tim and more and more in the spirit of Scrooge.

In my opinion, If you have two adults in a family, unless both are amputees - which I don't believe was the case - you should be able to raise your kids and put food on the table and modest clothes and toys for X-mas. I don't care if you both work two jobs in shifts to do it - It can be done and can be done well before you start begging strangers to do your X-mas shopping for you.

If you lose control of your phone, and need to ask the neighbor to borrow there's - common courtesy & manners says the phone calls on the neighbor's phone should be limited to emergency instances only. Which does not include "I have a strong urge to go to the club".

I guess the main reason I'm bitter is because I haven't yet gone Xmas shopping, and I won't be able to until late next week because otherwise I'll break my budget and be headed back towards indebtedness. Baa Humbug!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Quote of the Week #17

"The major difference between the big shot and the little shot is the big shot is just a little shot who kept on shooting."
-Zig Ziglar
found on

Monday, December 10, 2007

WebVideo of the Week: Money as Debt - part 5/5

Here is the final 3 minutes - of Money As Debt

Plenty of quotes to make you question reality here.

Why can't we just make a society where everyone has the same amount of stuff? Oh wait, that's called communism and turns out it was a sucky idea. Back to the drawing board.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Progress Report - for the week ended 12/9/07

So here's my progress so far the month of December:

  1. Send novel manuscript to 10 book agents and/or publishers - haven't done this yet, I've done quite a bit of running around instead for a number of family related concerns.
  2. Apply to 20 jobs (part-time or full-time) - I've applied to two thus far, I will try and increase this amount this week - time permitting.
  3. Raise net worth to $8,500 or better - This may very well be a goal within reach. The big family dinner I helped pay for ended up much less expensive than I anticipated.
Now that a major focus of my time for the past two months is over, (having a 60th birthday party for a family member) I think I will be able to devote more time to all of my goals. Only time will tell though.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

random thoughts:7 days to vote/black bloggers unite!/expensive dinner?

So I just wanted to add some quick random thoughts that come to mind as I wait for my fiance to wake up - she's an olympic-level sleeper so it might be a while.

  1. 7 days to vote: So for those of you who may read my blog from time to time - to those who may have just stumbled upon it - you both have 7 days left to tell me what weekly feature (which you may have noticed hasn't been so weekly lately) that you'd like me to get rid of. For that matter, you have 22 days to vote which not-so-weekly feature you'd like me to keep. Let me know by simply clicking on one of the surveys to your right.
  2. Black Bloggers Unite: So as I was surfing the net so-to-speak I came across the following web ring site for black bloggers - . I signed up and if you happen to be a black blogger too...maybe you should sign up as well. I also tried to look up a male blog ring since I am seeing links everywhere but to no avail, I guess us guys don't like to cooperate - just compete.
  3. Most expensive dinner EVER!: So I'm not sure if I've mentioned this enough but part of my excuse for not blogging as much lately is that I've been engrossed with quite a few projects with my personal life. One of which is having a surprise 60th birthday party for a family member which will be today. About 30 people are coming to this person's favorite Italian restaurant - Dobson and Myself are splitting the bill (for everybody) which I've calculated to come out to about $1,300 - worst case scenario. And about $800-900 best case scenario. Let's hope for best case scenario. (and if you're wondering I do have cash on hand to handle up to $600 - or $1200 total) I'm sure I'll groan tomorrow if it's worse.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Quote of the Week #17

"Money is kind of a base subject. Like water, food, air and housing, it affects everything yet for some reason the world of academics thinks it's a subject below their social standing."

-Robert Kiyosaki

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Article/Newsbit of the week: US subpime crisis in graphics

I'm a little torn emotionally as far as the slant of this article goes but, I guess you can't argue with the facts?

US subpime crisis in graphics

The BBC, I've found, is a great asset for world business news and different views not easily found here in the U.S. where the same story and opinion is usually repeated again and again.

One thing that can be difficult to swallow (for a black male anyway) is the lack of political correctness - that is somewhat automatically and silently assumed by the American media. I guess they don't have the constant threat of Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson marching on their doorstep since people can drive but flying to England is for most of us - an economic impossibility.

What I'm referring to is a representation of the facts that would not be easily found here in the States:

"Mortgage brokers focused their efforts by selling sub-prime mortgages in working class black areas where many people had achieved home ownership.

They told them that they could get cash by refinancing their homes, but often neglected to properly explain that the new sub-prime mortgages would "reset" after 2 years at double the interest rate."

If you'll take the time to check out the article, above this blurb in particular, there is a map of Cleveland - a city here in Ohio - that does have a large black population. The map can be adjusted to see:

  1. Areas where subprime lending occurred.
  2. Areas where Foreclosures (repossessions) occurred
  3. Areas of Deutsche Bank properties (loans were made)
  4. ...oh yeah and Black areas
At first glance it almost looks as if the report is saying more or less
'because black people are so stupid, and bankers were stupid enough to lend to them - we are now in this sub-prime crisis which may go global'

At 2nd glance it looks like it's saying:

'evil bankers didn't tell the stupid black people that there mortgages would reset in 2 years and then they wouldn't be able to pay the mortgage back so now we're in this sub-prime crisis'

Either way it doesn't seem like it's showing black people in the most favorable light.

For the sake of having some personal pride, I'll argue that this portion of the article is not that relevant seeing as black people only 12% of American households and we are no longer even the largest minority group thus we cannot be blamed entirely or even share more than 1/8th of the blame for the sub-prime mess and you definitely can't blame me - cause little ole me doesn't own any 'real property' as in real estate. ..bloody britons.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Web Video of the Week: Money As Debt part 4/5

Here is the 4th part of the movie/video - Money as Debt. This portion offers possible solutions if you consider our money system a problem:

Unfortunately, the solutions presented are easier said than implemented. What do you think?

Sunday, December 2, 2007

November results / December goals:

So here are the results for my goals for the end of November:

  1. Finish chapter editing on novel - SUCCESS - I just finished re-editing the last chapter of my novel. now to find a publisher.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - FAILURE - I unfortunately, made no inroads towards this goal. Possibly because the goal is very non-specific.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - SUCCESS - I can't even begin to explain how happy I am about achieving this goal.
Goals for the end of December:

  1. Send novel manuscript to 10 book agents and/or publishers
  2. Apply to 20 jobs (part-time or full-time)
  3. Raise net worth to $8,500 or better
I'm trying to stick with the less is more strategy as far as goals go. However, the first two goals are a little daunting in size. All I need is focus during the holidays and I think I'll come out alright.

I'll have to focus on 2008 goals at the end of this month - trying to get through the friend and family Holiday festivities first.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

When I get my first $200,000 worth of disposable income...

...After I start a non-profit on finance for inner city youth[to clarify] ....I am buying me a jet pack.

That's right, according to the above link on there is a company that will be selling jet packs for only $200,000! (last I heard it cost about $1 Million or more for the first few versions of the jet-pack) . They will go for sale supposedly sometime next year.

It's amazing how things that seemed like science fiction when I was a little kid (jet packs , robots & flying cars )- are now reality. Expensive as hell, but still reality.

November 2007 - Net Worth

OH - yeah! Finally, I broke the 8K threshold ...that has been eluding me like Moby Dick eluded Ahab.

Now the goal is to stay 'above' the 8K line.

I believe there are a number of reasons I was able to achieve my 3 month-old goal:

  1. There were no additional major unexpected expenses (as I cross my fingers for good luck while I type)
  2. I decided part of my emergency fund should go to my most recent credit-card 'emergencies'.
  3. My 401k has consistently gone up (even though the DJIA as a whole took a 4% drop for the Month)
I think the key reason would be the last one, without a positive return on my 401K this month I would be just under (if not way under) the 8K goal. For the short-term at least it appears that my conservative investment strategy is paying off - as far the long term though, it remains to be seen. I'll have to look back a year from now and see how I did.

For now though, I think I am going to enjoy a greasy, transfat-filled, heart-attack inducing $7 Value meal in order to celebrate. It's too cold here in Ohio to do much they're trying to ban the heart-attack inducing transfats here in Ohio so I might as well get in while the getting is good.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Quote of the Week #16

"A market is never saturated with a good product, but it is very quickly saturated with a bad one."

-Henry Ford
found on

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Watching Commercials with the sound off

Since it "'tis the holiday season" I have been over-exposed the last several weeks to various ads designed to do one thing:

"separate my weakened 'greenbacks' from my already abused wallet"

And for the most part, the ads do their jobs exceedingly well, that is until you turn off the sound.

I've noticed, at least for me, that the more ridiculous the ad is - the less it makes sense without a soothing announcer or spokesperson easing your mind into a false sense that the 30-second reality they present to you could be yours - so long as you buy the crap they are peddling. Or, your fear can be averted so long as you buy the crap they are peddling.

What brought this to mind is the fact that I had my TV on mute, as I often do, and looked up to see a Dirt Devil Broom Vac commercial come on.

Since apparently 'embedding' has been disabled for this commercial I've attached the youtube link.

Basic synopsis: A couple is having a dinner party/couples party at their crib when suddenly, someone knocks over a bowl over M&M or M&M looking balls. A female looks knowingly at her male companion and within seconds, the entire party breaks out in dance with their own personal 'Broom Vac's" complete with choreographed dance moves and smiles on everyone's faces.

Sounds pretty ridiculous right? And it is(in my opinion anyway) but, with the sound on it seems perfectly plausible. try watching that commercial with the sound off though.

Message: If you buy this broom vac, AND there is the 1/100,000 chance that you actually have a situation that requires not just your broom, and not just your vacuum - it will most likely be a situation where you are having a dinner party, people will WANT to help you clean and they will break out into dance as they clean in the process all with a smile on. So buy the silly broom vac already!

Other honorable mentions are 1)Car Commercials that make the road suddenly free of other cars or 2) the annual Lexus X-mas commercial w/ a brand new silver Lexus parked out front: - as if a spouse should not be consulted for a major vehicle purchase and a 'surprise' of a new lease will make them happy. (however, if you have enough money to buy and/or qualify for a loan for a brand new Lexus -your money situations probably isn't that bad) . Finally there's 3) the beer/liquor/clothing/cologne ads that presume if you buy their product - the opposite sex will be making a mad dash your way to seek some form of companionship with you. Axe body spray comes to mind.

I would go on but, I've ventured much past my bedtime.

But if you get a chance, just hit the mute button next time you have a commercial break instead of switching the channel or fast-forwarding your DVR - see if your entertained in other ways.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Article/Newsbit of the week: Weak dollar = more trade

So this week, the Article of the week goes to -

Weak Dollar cuts US trade deficit

there is one benefit of the weakening dollar - short term anyway - our trade deficit is beginning to go down as our goods get cheaper and cheaper.

Good thing we still have a bunch of stuff to sell to other countries.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Web Video of the Week: Money as Debt part 3/5

Here is part 3 of the 5 part series of the Money as Debt video. This is the video I ran across the first time that opened my eyes. I guess if you think about it, it's somewhat common sense - but I'd say not that many of us think about it.

Are you dependent on bank credit? Most likely you are, just like the American economy that just took a big hit (well at least the Dow did) today. It would kind of suck if the economy went from a recession (which I think it is already in - no one wants to admit it though) to a depression - which means helloooo - 3 jobs!!!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Progress Report: week ended 11/25/07

What can I say, thanksgiving 'break' is not so much of a break when you spend the whole time catering to family, friends and soon-to-be family. I haven't accomplished a whole bunch but, maybe this coming weekend will be my true break - one can only hope. :

1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I am still at the Chapter 14 range. Chapters 1-14 are now edited. I did begin editing chapter 15 a tad but then family, friend and fiance obligations took over.
2. Make $100 in alternative income - the old part-time job in market research is not hiring I really don't want to do retail in retail's busiest season either.
3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - I did take some money out of savings in order to pay the credit card debt down a bit. At the same time, I have to save some money for a family member's surprise party that I'll partially be paying for.

Don't get me wrong, I love seeing long lost friends and family for the Holidays but my wallet on the other-hand, has a tendency to get abused in the process. To be honest, I'm not sure how much I spent this weekend but I know it was beyond my means - which bothers me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I'm thankful for...financially and otherwise:

I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on just a few of the many blessings that have been bestowed upon me this past year. Here goes nothing:

  • My beautiful fiance
  • My wonderful family
  • My friends (new & old)
  • Being able to get out of debt the first time, and the 2nd, (working on the 3rd time right now)
  • I'm thankful for my job. but, more so the wonderful company I work for and the opportunities that present themselves daily simply by working for this company.
  • I'm thankful for all the interesting things about finance that I've learned - I look forward to learning much more in the future.
  • I'm thankful to have my car even though she's getting up there in miles
  • I'm thankful I have my own place to sleep
  • I'm thankful that I get to vent a little with this blog
  • I'm thankful that you took the time to read this.
Okie Doke, I'm off to enjoy friends, then family, then my fiance and my family and finally, my fiance and her family - in pretty much that order.

I hope you have a blessed Thanksgiving Holiday - I'll be back sometime early next week if not sooner. Don't buy too much stuff (i.e., crap) on Friday - I know I won't!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

If Jay Z has switched over, is the rap game far behind?

So I finally checked out Jay-Z's new Video - Blue Magic:

As you might notice, at approximately: "0:52", "1:20", & "2:10" - instead of featuring the old-standard 'Benjamin's' he instead features Euro's -500 denomination Euro's at that.

My question is - when will they start putting that funky 'E' symbol above the '4' on the keyboard. The '$' is soooo 2006.

Article/Newsbit of the week: 10 ways to pay cash for X-mas

So I am veering away from the reliable and seeking other sources of Finance news. Mainly because they didn't exactly advertise the fact that the Canadian Loonie surpassed the American dollar.

Anyway, the article:

10 ways to pay cash for Christmas

By Liz Pulliam Weston Talks about just that. A tip that is becoming more and more of a likely necessity is Tip # 5 -

"5. Get a(nother) job
Plenty of businesses add bodies during the holidays: retail stores, package delivery services, craft stores, ski resorts and temp agencies (to fill in for all those vacationing workers). These temporary part-time jobs can boost your pay, and you may qualify for employee discounts. MSN Careers is one place to start looking.

If you need a more flexible gig, consider a home-based business that doesn't require a big upfront investment. Some possibilities: baby-sitting, tutoring, house-sitting, dog walking, errand running, housecleaning, home organization (garage clean-outs and closet tuneups might be particularly appreciated this time of year)."
I may have to work myself to death again to get rid of the debt and pay for X-mas gifts simultaneously. Only time will tell.

Monday, November 19, 2007

WebVideo of the Week: Money as Debt - part 2/5

Here is part 2 of the Money as debt video:

Enjoy, let me know what you think.


Sunday, November 18, 2007

If (when) I become a Millionaire

If i become a Millionaire I plan to do a few things with my money once obtaining it.

1) Take a 3rd ($333,334.00) of my net worth and use it to start a non-profit that focuses on teaching personal finance and job skills to inner city youth

2) Make sure at least another 3rd ($333,333.00) of the remaining wealth is invested in assets that create passive income - rental properties come to mind

3) The remaining 3rd ($333,333.00) would go to a primary residence, transportation and other expenses.

Of course this is a very rough draft but, the first option I plan on keeping.

Progress Report: Week ended 11/18/07

So the past week has been fairly busy with work, getting used to being engaged and continuing to put the finishing touches on a family member's surprise birthday party. Here are the results:

1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I just finished editing Chapters 13 & 14. Chapters 1-14 are now edited.
2. Make $100 in alternative income - no response from the part-time gig application. I may very well try and go back to my old, old part-time job in market research.
3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - with everything going on in my life right now this goals appears to possibly doubtful. It might just come down to my 401k's performance at the end of the month.

I need to find a viable way to create passive income. I guess my main goal is getting my novel edited and out to publishers - mainly due to the fact that if it does eventually get published and it's not absolutely horrible it may provide a nice source of passive income over the next few years.

Hopefully once the work on the book is completed other financial matters can be focused on as well.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Quote of the Week #15

"Success in business requires training and discipline and hard work. But if you're not frightened by these things, the opportunities are just as great today as they ever were."

David Rockefeller
from the Quotations page

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Progress Report: Week ended 11/11/07 [late post]

OK, so I got really depressed and sorry for myself there a couple days ago and did not want to write. I think I have SAD -assuming you believe in made up mental diseases - because as soon as it gets cold and gloomy outside I am much more likely to take on a "mad-at-the-world' attitude. Yet, the moment the sun comes out I am "up and at 'em".

Anyway, here's the progress thus far:

1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I just finished editing Chapter 10. Chapters 1-10 are now edited.
2. Make $100 in alternative income - sent in a promising application, awaiting a response. - we shall see.
3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - I have done nothing proactive in this regard - just hoping and waiting right now which is not a good strategy. I've got 2 weeks to kick it into gear.

Honestly it's time for me to exert some effort towards the goals. I think I'll be blogging less over the next few weeks. However, I am in a blogging mood right now.

Monday, November 12, 2007

WebVideo of the Week: Money as Debt - part1

If you haven't noticed I'm kind of on a kick about this Money is Debt concept. In order to continue amongst that vein I think I'll post the 5 parts - 1 part a week - over the next 5 weeks - enjoy:

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blogging fatigue

I'm not sure If it is due to the increasing amount of responsibilities in my life, the fact that I'm about to get married, the fact that I am looking for a new job or if it's plain just writer's fatigue but I think I may be cutting back significantly on this blog in the short-term while I try and 'handle my bidness' so-to-speak.

I will still try and keep it updated at least weekly but, I have so many other things that need to be focused on and this blog appears to be low on the priority scale right now.

Let me know if you have any ideas - thanks for reading!

Why "Money=Debt" part 2

Today I'd like to wrap up my post on Money is Debt.

Again, I'm basing this post off the video I came across a week ago: Money as Debt. This video up brings up some common truths about money that I feel are quite interesting.

The key issue is a very simple one - that money that is in a bank or money that is being loaned is constantly creating more and more debt be it to the bank or in the example of our country to other countries we owe money to. This has created a world of never-ending debt.

As people and countries, work and work to get out of debt, in general they are on a never-ending treadmill of debt because the amount they pay back is always more than what they originally owed. When this goes on for years and years more and more energy has to be put in to pay back a debt. In the case of the U.S. though - this leads to a crippling amount of debt(+$9 trillion), the kind of debt that makes the world begin to say "your money's not good here" or at least "your money is not AS good here as it used to be". That's basically what the world is beginning to say in not so subtle ways as the American dollar loses more and more of it's value compared to the Euro and other currencies such as the Loonie.

Einstein once said:

The most powerful force in the universe is compound interest

The true question is -'Can our country's addiction to easy credit and unrestrained consumption be sustained?' or 'Can we keep buying all the crap we want without any drawbacks?'. In my opinion the short answer is 'no' we cannot.

The video Money as Debt offers a few solutions to the perceived problem with today's money system:

  • Taxing bank profits - if our government began to more effectively tax bank profits we could definitely begin to see a reduction in our nation's overall debt. However, the taxation of banks would most likely lead to either higher loan prices for consumers or lower overall return on individuals investments or most likely both.
  • Banking as non-profit service - I think this would be a wonderful idea. The only problem with this is that so many in powerful positions are linked to the banking industry that a law or a non-profit such as this would likely ever come to fruition because bankers enjoy their income and most experienced bankers would not settle for a lower income.
  • Return to gold-based money - money that is backed by gold in the bank (like the U.S. Dollar used to be) would be a fairly durable type of money and might hedge inflation a tad, However, gold is obviously very hard these days to value and even if the process suddenly became easier, those that are fairly wealthy may try and corner the market on gold and deplete the world's gold supplies by holding it for themselves.
  • Return to silver-based money - since silver is more plentiful it might work a little bit better to make a durable currency however, again the issue becomes how you can value silver on a regular basis without speculating.
  • No-interest money - The idea here is that if money was based equally for everyone - possibly based on hours worked - rather than dollars per hour. There would be less inequality for money and dollars would retain there value longer. However, who's to say that the work that a retail cashier does should be reimbursed at the same rate that say a judge or a doctor? ( I have a feeling this idea wouldn't go well at all here in the U.S.)
  • Local barter system - This idea would be to have a barter system for local goods in your local area. As Dobson (my relative) mentioned, this would most likely be a step backward for progress in my opinion.
  • Inflation instead of taxes. - one last unique idea would be to have a steady amount of inflation instead of taxes on income. I think this would be confusing at first, but may work. It would possibly put a strain on the Fed - as for example : One Month you may earn $50,000 and a few months later - due to inflation, you may Earn $60,000 so the value of certain items would continually be fluxed.
After a long discussion about this article/video with Dobson (my relative who is extremely interested in economics, just not in making any posts here) it seems that - in his opinion the fact that Money is debt is a basic economic principal. The fact that money is simply created without any pre-existing money to show for it is a part of this process.

I think it is somewhat depressing though, that Money - this this thing that we can eat, we can't stack to create shelter, we can't use as clothing - but we are so dependant on - is made simply by signing our signature on loan documents - again and again. Hopefully, my signature will only be needed for one house...and I'll be paying cash (or Euro's - *sigh*) for everything else.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Why Money is Debt - Part 1

So a few days ago - Monday - namely, I came to a very surreal conclusion: Money is Debt

I watched the mini documentary Money as Debt which explains in very simple terms how Money essentially creates more debt by it's mere existence.

This may only be interesting to the financially savvy but in essence it affects and has an effect on us all. It explains why the rich continue to get richer and why the poor get poorer.

In the video, it explains something most of us know - that the money originated as a way to simplify the barter system.

What most of don't know is the middle-age to present day history of money. The first uniform type of money that crossed cultural and country borders was gold. With the acceptance of gold came the birth of the Gold-smith.

The goldsmith's tale: The Goldsmith was the first form of a Banker. The Goldsmith job was to craft Gold in order that people could exchange things for there goods in services without necessarily lugging said goods and services around. At first, the Goldsmith created a vault in order to keep his gold safe when it wasn't being lent out to people in exchange for their goods & services. Eventually though, people began to hold onto more and more of their gold coins and since the gold was becoming more and more accepted as rightful exchange for other goods and services - people began asking Goldsmith's if they could keep there excess gold in his vault as they were worried about someone stealing it.

The Goldsmith agreed and soon he had piles and piles of Gold. The Goldsmith eventually decided to begin loaning out his gold to others who wanted to borrow it. He made a decent amount of return on his gold but eventually he wanted to make even more due to the fact

Government created money represents less than 5%, of the money in circulation today. 95% of money in circulation today is due to bank debt and/or interest agreements - i.e.,: Loans. Money that you put into the bank is now immediately loaned back out again at a rate of 9:1 . The federal reserve requirement ratio is now about 9:1 - that means for every $100 you deposit into the bank, the bank only has to have a maximum of $10 available. If you multiply this thousands of times or millions of times over it ends up being a pretty precarious situation if everyone decides to pull out more than 9% of their deposits - the banks and then slowly the American economy will come to a halt.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Quote of the Week #14

“Anyone who believes exponential growth can go on forever in a finite world is either a madman or an economist.”

Kenneth Boulding, economist

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Quick tip - Don't get into debt

OK, I know this is somewhat intuitive and self-evident but I am currently working on a much longer more detailed post on why Money is debt. The Video Money as Debt - has opened my eyes and I think it would be beneficial to open others as well.

Bottom line - don't go into debt - if you are in debt get out.

I have a co-worker friend who I would say is relatively financially savvy. However, we differ greatly on our debt-tolerance.

My opinion - that I've formed over the last several years - is that any type of debt should be gotten rid of as soon as possible.

Her opinion - is that people can still make money and sometimes achieve a lot better returns by investing the money they would have spent on debt into say the stock market
or other investments.

My argument for today would be - did you see the 360 points the Dow dropped today?

Bottom line - get out of debt & stay out of debt.

(I think I have the first part mastered - it's just the second part I'm having trouble with. )

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Article/Newsbit of the Week: Loonie surges past 108 cents US

So if you didn't check out yesterday's video blog about how Money is Debt you should.

The following article (which is the end result of the above documentary video) can not be easily found on my favorite News source -

Instead, I had to look to the often over-looked Canadian media - i.e., for the interesting article:

Higher commodities, earnings boosts stocks; Loonie surges past 108 cents US

That's right the title says it all, the Loonie (aka the Canadian dollar) is now worth 108 American cents.

Or, put another way, Those magazines that used to say $3 American/$4 Canadian are no longer accurate - it's more like $3 American/$2.76 Canadian...those worthless Canadian pennies don't seem so worthless anymore.

Monday, November 5, 2007

WebVideo of the Week: Money is Debt [this sh*t is deep!]

Wow, who knew 10 minutes could enlighten you on why America is so deep in debt right now.

I guess the short answer is that stock brokers, bankers and other fat cats need America to be in debt otherwise they wouldn't make so much money by barely working.

For the longer answer, check out the video above - this is eye-opening to me.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Progress Report - for week ended 11/4/07

So it's been a few days since I set my goals - here's the progress thus far:

  1. Finish chapter editing on novel - I just finished editing Chapter 7. Chapters 1-7 are now edited.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - I am in the process of filling out applications right now. Nothing retail, for now, but I'm not ruling that out completely.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm) - this will take work and Goal #2 multiplied about 10-20-fold in order to reach but, I have 25 days left so hopefully I'll make some progress over the next 3 weeks or so.
Hopefully, I will be able to achieve all three goals. [Channeling good luck now]

Saturday, November 3, 2007

The $3500 book - don't get it dirty.

So I went to Half-price books, yesterday, my 2nd favorite book store and to be honest where I buy most of my books (it's half-priced come on!).

I went in mainly to pick up a free newspaper that is distributed over there. As I was browsing a guy and his wife/girlfriend approached the 'buy-back counter there'.

The book-buyer/clerk was very professional and said " How can I help you today?!" In a cheery voice.

This guy says "I'd like to sell a book" in a matter-of-fact kind of tone. Standard fare so I didn't pay much attention - at first.

The book-buyer politely asked "can I see what you have?' or something to that effect.

At this point this guy asks "How clean is your counter?"

The book-buyer struggled for answer to this odd question and eventually said- "well , it is relatively clean but, we do buy several books here every day"

This guy says - mind you, raising his voice so the whole store could hear him - he says "Well how often do you get $3,500 dollar books in here!"

The book-buyer of course says " well not very often"

This guy says "That's right so I need you to make sure you take extra special care with it"

The book-buyer assured him that he would. I honestly wanted to start busting out laughing (to admit I did chuckle a little) and say to the guy:

'That must've been some really good book salesman! or an idiot with cash to burn or quite possibly a mixture of the two'

But instead I looked over and saw a hard-cover book that was 1' x 2' and had it's own personal carrying box. And a plastic sleeve.

I didn't quite catch what the book was but in the end the book-buyer there explained that he didn't feel he was experienced enough to give the guy an accurate price that he would buy the book back at. He asked the guy to come back later in the week when a more experienced book-buyer would be there.

When that guy left - I could over-hear the book buyer's chuckling amongst themselves but didn't hear them say anything overtly negative about the guy. I think they might have mentioned that book had something to do with Medical terminology or something but, that (overweight) guy (with a Harley-Davidson logo cap) did not look like a Doctor nor did his companion look like a well-heeled trophy wife.

I guess I have several questions for this guy:

  1. Are you a Doctor? if so, why do you live in my lower -middle-class neighborhood?
  2. If you made the investment of $3,500 in mind-boggling or oddly-specific knowledge, why would you 'sell' that knowledge to a half-priced bookstore where the most you will get back is maybe 25% of the purchase price, if not less.
  3. Do you think people will respect you more if they know how much you paid for your crappy book? (I personally went from no opinion to complete lack of respect)
  4. Why did you have to be such a jerk to the book-buyer?
I'm sure I would have other questions too if I had time to pick his magnificent mind but, I guess ultimately I wonder how valuable are bound books anymore? With the wonder that is the Internet, just about any piece of knowledge, with the exception of secret-society knowledge (Morals & Dogma comes to mind) is already out there for easy reading.

The most I have ever heard as far as book prices is probably in the $200-300 range for College and University class books which is really just a scam (in my opinion) between college book publishers and College bookstores.

Of course there are out-of-print books that can be auctioned off but this was NOT one of those books judging by the cellophane wrapping and the cover - my guess is that it was published in the past 10-15 years.

The most I've ever considered paying for a book is about $100 for an unabridged dictionary. Am I wrong for thinking $3,500 is a little much for just about any book published in the past decade or so?

Blog of the Week: Genius types

This week's blog of the week goes to Brian over at Genius Types.

His post:

The Key to Entrepreneurial Success is Balancing Business and Creativity

Is very well written and thought provoking. It talks about the two different type of entrepreneurs. The creative types - like myself. And the Business-minded types.

I found the different descriptions pretty enlightening. Although I do consider myself pretty creative, I'm not that much of a risk taker at all. I'm fairly focused on doing whatever is least risky - hence my over-whelming fear of debt.

It is a great post. Check it out.

Friday, November 2, 2007

I'm so proud of my fiance

My fiance, a few days ago pleasantly surprised me...

As she was talking about wedding-this and bridal-that she said the word 'budget' without any prompting from me. I may have not been paying attention* but as soon as she mentioned 'budget' my attention snapped back.

As I sat there dumbfounded for a few seconds I eventually regained my composure and heard her repeat "wedding budget" and I realized again why I want to marry this woman.

After I came down from my cloud of joy/relief (the next day) we agreed on a set budget amount for the wedding and the things we will need for the wedding.

I guess my frugality is starting to rub off on her. That's a great thing in my opinion.

*this is very unlikely as I always listen to everything my fiance says matter what! Love you babe.

October results / November goals:

So here are the results for my goals for the end of October:

  1. Sell more things on E-bay: - FAILURE - after a bad experience with a 'brick & mortar' E-bay store I became a little disillusioned with selling things online. Never-to-fear though, a co-worker in my work's Personal finance book club will be teaching other groups members how to sell things on e-bay in a week or so.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - FAILURE - lack of focus and multiple distractions are the main reason this goal failed. Hopefully, November will be a little less dramatic. I did make give or take $10 though, now I need to multiply that.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (again) - FAILURE - one step forward, two steps back. I was within striking distance, in fact, I was above the goal for a while but, an engagement here and car trouble there plummeted me back to earth. Time to get up and try again
  4. Apply/try out for 3 finance related freelancing jobs - SUCCESS - I did apply/try out for 3 finance related freelance jobs and I'm still potentially in talks with one client. However, as Yoda says do or don't "There is no try".
  5. Pay off remainder of debt/collection - SUCCESS* - I did pay off my collection however, it was shortly replaced with new debt a few weeks later - hence the asterisk.

Goals for the end of October:

  1. Finish chapter editing on novel
  2. Make $100 in alternative income
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (third try is a charm)
Hopefully less goals will be easier to focus on.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

October 2007 - Net Worth

Okie Doke, it appears that the debt has come back to haunt me. I blame the terrorists.

Also, a spontaneous engagement and even more spontaneous car breakdown do not bode well for the pocketbook.

I'm really kind of sick of the way my Net Worth is 'trending' and I plan to correct the trend shortly.

Ultimately, I need a second stream of income. At the same time, I have no interest in picking up a part-time retail job at the mall again. I'd like to look into something more long term and less labor intensive. Only time will tell. [crossing fingers as I focus]

Quote of the Week #13

"Everyone experiences tough times, it is a measure of your determination and dedication how you deal with them and how you can come through them."
-Lakshmi Mittal

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Denzel's new movie.

So I'm listening to News & Notes right now, the 'black show' on NPR for lack of a better description.

They are talking about how Denzel Washington's new movie American Gangster . In particular they are talking about whether Denzel's role promotes a positive image of a black male overall (he's a businessman) or a negative image (his business is high-level drug dealing during the 1970's).

Although, I haven't seen the movie yet - I plan to - I'm torn. On one level - it shows that a black male (it's based on a true story) can achieve success that may seem impossible to others. On the other hand it reinforces the tragic idea that many black males may hold as a personal truth:

Dealing drugs is one of a very few ways for a black male to become successful.

It doesn't help that Stanley O'neal the former black CEO of Merrill Lynch as of this week - just lost his job and Dick Parson's the current CEO of Time Warner is rumored to step down any day now. Hopefully there will be more...well 'hope' for the black male in future.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Article/Newsbit of the Week: $915 Billion in credit card debt

So I checked out this article on

The $915B bomb in consumers' wallets

It talks about one of my favorite subjects - hated credit card debt. Credit card companies are starting to get nervous as people in the US are beginning to pay their bills later and later.

Here's an interesting excerpt:

"But credit card debt is different from subprime debt in another way: Unlike mortgages, credit card debt is unsecured, so a default means a total loss. And while missed payments are at a historical low, they show signs of an uptick: The quarterly delinquency rate for Capital One, Washington Mutual, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase, and Bank of America rose an average of 13% in the third quarter, compared with a 2% drop in the previous quarter.

What's more, consumers and the people who market financial services to them may not have learned their lesson. Klaus-Peter Müller, CEO of Germany's Commerzbank, told Fortune he was stunned on a recent trip to the U.S. to see TV ads still aggressively touting no-questions-asked credit. In Germany he's calling for tighter standards."

It's very interesting to me how seemingly wiser heads - German bank CEO's in this instance - have a better idea of what can possibly happen, better than say some of the greedy, American CEO's who are blind when it comes to the long-term implications...more Americans in debt and no quick and easy way to get out.

'Sign up for another high-interest credit card to 'consolidate your' debt!'

And eventually, watch as America as a whole pics up the tab...

Monday, October 29, 2007

Web Video of the Week: The Next Internet Millionaire

So I came across this video on

The Next Internet Millionaire

I've only watched half of it so far but, it seems like the Apprentice meets the Benefactor or whatever Mark Cuban's show was.

I believe this is a web only video which sort of explains why I personally have never heard of the self-proclaimed 'bestselling author' and web millionaire host that is allowing 10-12 people vie for a grand prize of ...$25,000! - OK that didn't really deserve the exclamation point but, you'd think that it did by watching this. Hell, I could use $25,000 right about now.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

2 quick questions for you...

For those who read this blog on a semi-regular basis, you may have noticed that I've tried to remain consistent and have a certain blog topic every day or every other day depending on my schedule.

To the right, I've put up two quick polls for topics you like and topics you might not like. I'm trying to get away from relying on a weekly thing for everyday so maybe you can tell me which one's you'd like me to keep and which one's I should get rid of.

It can be difficult at times maintaining a blog so you're input would be greatly appreciated.

2 clicks that's all it takes. Thanks in advance!

The Debt/Debt-Freedom Rollercoaster.

So over the past 3 months I have gone from Debt-free to indebted to Debt-free again and now I am again in the Indebted category.

It's like a bad debt-rollercoaster: One minute I'm high in the air and financially free, the next moment I am plunging back down into debt-hell.

I'd like to stop this debt-rollercoaster and get off on top, or at least on level ground.

I guess part of the problem is that I've lost my focus and intensity. I used to have signs up everywhere that had my goal:


I had this sign up everywhere - Above my computer, on top of my big TV. Below my little TV, by the fridge, it was an avoidable goals and my mind never lost sight of that goal for too terribly long. and when I missed this goal, I made a new goal:


I also put this sign up everywhere and I got excited because even though I didn't make the Birthday goal, I was not that far off at all from it when my birthday came and went. In the end, I paid off my debt (the first time) about 3 weeks ahead of my re-scheduled goal and 2 1/2 months after my original goal.

Now I sit with a much smaller amount of debt but still - it keeps coming back after I pay it off - I guess the goal now is to build up an emergency fund that will stand the test of time over minor $1000+ emergencies that will undoubtedly come up over the next several months as me and my fiance plan out wedding and try and come to a compromise on expenses. I might have to raise that emergency fund to the 5-10K range - which will take a lot of work and most likely another job.

I guess it's time to put up another set of signs.

Progress Report - for week ended 10/28/07

  1. Sell more things on E-bay - I will probably not have time to sell anything else on E-bay in the next 3.5 days but we shall see.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - I'm starting to see a little bit more of a return from Google and other sources but it's still under the $10 mark.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (again) - man, although I should be happy about the reason I am not reaching this goal I have mixed feelings. I bought a ring on a credit card (after swearing to myself I would never do that) and proposed to my girlfriend - now fiance - because I guess my thrifty, ever-saving, pay-in-cash ways were affecting our relationship. On top of that, my car decided to fall apart this week so I put even more debt onto the card since my bank account was completely drained after paying my weekly bills and I definitely needed the repairs. Bottom line my relationship is much better, my debt-level is much worse.
  4. Apply/try out for 3 finance related freelancing jobs -SUCCESS I actually have a possible freelancing job in the works right now, I just need to secure some details.
  5. Pay off remainder of debt/collection - SUCCESS* - Well, I paid off the collection but, * due to a spontaneous proposal and car trouble I am back in the debtors club.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Irrational spending for love

I'm really disappointed and somewhat appalled.

A day after I got paid, paid all my bills, paid my rent (or at least wrote checks for them) and had a few seemingly inexpensive meals and bought some groceries & gas & minimal Halloween accessories for me and my new fiance(less than $10), I am down to my last (spare) $5 dollars.

I am a little annoyed because if I would've just saved a bit more, I wouldn't be in this situation. But it was for love so I will sit with my $5 and enjoy it for the next 12 days ...if I can make it that long.

I thought my days of living paycheck-to-paycheck were over.

Maybe an extra job isn't that bad of an idea after all...

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lesson learned: If selling stuff on e-bay - sell it yourself.

OK the title may seem self-evident and obvious but, I was confused and to be honest, scared of the daunting E-bay business model. I didn't know how I was supposed to advertise, what kind of pictures I should post up, if I needed a certain kind if 'rating' to sell anything, how hard it might be to find someones address and package my stuff.

Well now, I honestly wish I had just asked my co-worker who is a semi-pro (hundreds-to-thousands-sold-a-month) on E-bay for help.

A few weeks ago I sold my childhood playthings, a huge set of G.I. Joe's, through a 'brick& mortar' e-bay re-sale store. They did all of the marketing, photography, packaging, exchange of 33% of the profit ( or so I thought) from an eventual sale. Now I at first thought 'hey 33% is not that bad of a surcharge for ignorance'.

So I waited, and then I waited and then I waited some more, all the time figuring 33% is an OK bullet to bite - but not much more than that.

When I got tired of waiting, and had time to complain, I went into the store which I dropped my childhood playthings off at and asked what was taking so long.

The guy at the counter - the same fidgety, gloomy guy who I dropped the things off with initially - stood there and said "well your 4 weeks of waiting is about average, your check for 55% of the value has been issued"

THAT's right after looking down at the even smaller print it appears there are 5-12% of additional fees on top of the stores cut.

So not only did i have to wait 4 weeks to get my money, I paid about 45% of my profit for the privilege of being ignorant.

That's why next time I sell something online I'll be selling it myself. Sometimes ignorance can be blissful but, in this instance it just kept getting more and more expensive.

Quote of the Week #12:

"He who waits upon fortune is never sure of dinner."

-Benjamin Franklin
found on

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

5 tips for: 'fixing credit'

I had a myspace friend ask about how I 'fixed' my credit - although I'd say it's far from being fixed and the only real way to 'fix' for your credit is through 'time' & 'effort' but, here's my basic response:

'fixing' credit is not an easy or quick ordeal. Each person's situation is different. For me it was about:

  1. Checking my credit report every 6mos - 1 yr
  2. Learning about the factors that affect my credit score - such as: paying on time, eliminating negative trade scores (like collections & judgments)
  3. Reducing the outstanding balance on credit cards and other debts.
  4. Correcting any errors on my credit - such as incorrect debts, addresses, occupations, etc.
  5. Keep the debt-to-income ratio low. Or the amount of debt you have compared to your annual income. A person making 50,000 a year with 85,000 of debt has a debt-to-income ratio of 1.7 - which, according to is somewhat average for a 30-yr old. My current debt-to-income ratio is .015. That will change drastically when I make the first step towards home-ownership.

Bottom line is pay your bills on time and check your credit regularly every 6 mos or 1x a year for mistakes and potential identity theft.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Article/News bit of the Week: the Millionaire's club

A recent Business Week article on Millionaires caught my eye this week

The Global Millionaire Boom

It's amazing how a decade or so ago a 'Millionaire' seemed to represent something very unique and almost unattainable but today, it appears:

"The total number of world millionaire households—those with assets of $1 million or more—grew by 14% in 2006, to 9.6 million, representing the richest 0.7% of all households and owning $33.2 trillion, or about a third of the world's wealth, according to a recent study by the Boston Consulting Group, a global management consulting firm."

That's right there are nearly 10 million ...Millionaires in the world now so the once exclusive club is no longer that terribly exclusive. OK I guess it does still remain fairly exclusive club as Millionaires account for only less than a percent of the world's population but when there are more than a million, Millionaires - it makes being a Billionaire, seem like the new hip salary bracket to be in.

Nevertheless, here are the top 5 countries as fas a Millionaires go:

The Top Five Countries With the Most Millionaire Households

No. 1: U.S.

Total millionaire households: 4,585,000
Change in 2005-06: +10%
Growth rank: 13 (of 15)

Total population: 301,139,947

Total $100 million+ households: 2,300 (rank: 1)
Change in 2005-06: +7%
Growth rank: 14

No. 2: Japan

Total millionaire households: 830,000
Change in 2005-06: +7%
Growth rank: 15

Total population: 127,433,494

Total $100 million+ households: 1,300 (rank: 2)
Change in 2005-06: +6%
Growth rank: 15

No. 3: Britain

Total millionaire households: 610,000
Change in 2005-06: +30.5%
Growth rank: 3

Total population: 60,776,238

Total $100 million+ households: 810 (rank: 3)
Change in 2005-06: +25%
Growth rank: 4

No. 4: Germany

Total millionaire households: 350,000
Change in 2005-06: +21%
Growth rank: 10

Total population: 82,400,996

Total $100 million+ households: 620 (rank: 4)
Change in 2005-06: +18%
Growth rank: 10

No. 5: China

Total millionaire households: 310,000
Change in 2005-06: +39%
Growth rank: 1

Total population: 1,321,851,888

Total $100 million+ households: 180 (rank: 13)
Change in 2005-06: +74%
Growth rank: 1

Monday, October 22, 2007

Web Video of the week: Bride to be...

OK this Web Video has little to do with finance but looks a little like what I saw transpire in the last 24 hours:

I love you babe...please don't become a Bridezilla - thanks!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Progress Report - for week ended 10/21/07

  1. Sell more things on E-bay - still haven't received my check back from 'i sold it on e-bay'! I didn't get a chance to go in and inquire about it this past week but, I need to this week. I was talking to one of my co-workers who sells things on e-bay and he said that he's made more this month than what he makes at my 1st job - in the future I believe I'll sell things myself and not rely on a sell-for-you E-bay service.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - I'm starting to see a little bit more of a return from Google and other sources but it's still under the $10 mark.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (again) - even though the month isn't over yet I don't foresee hitting this goal at all at this point. This is due in large part because after a long conversation with my girlfriend ...I decided to propose, she said 'yes' - and then went out and bought a ring - on credit :( - with her in tow. It hasn't hit me yet but judging by her reaction it definitely hit her - by now she has contacted all of the inhabitants of her native land and then some...I love her though and I can finally tell her about this blog.
  4. Apply/try out for 3 finance related freelancing jobs -SUCCESS I sent out 3 'feeler' e-mails to different online sites that are accepting freelancers. still no response though.
  5. Pay off remainder of debt/collection - SUCCESS - I paid this off the other week.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Blog of the Week: PF Blog

This week's blog of the week goes to the old-school PF Blog and his blog about:

Arbitrage and Credit score.

MM at PF Blog has been Using 0% credit cards for the last several years to charge to the limit into cash which he then in turn invests into high-interest (4-5%) savings accounts that bring him extra interest income throughout the year. It appears he made about $3,000 in the past year by this 'scheme' on the credit card companies.

However, his credit score has shifted from the low 700's to the mid-to-low 600's due to the average $45,000(!) in credit card balances. Now for the average American income this may seem slightly insane but seeing as MM has an over 800K net worth it's not really an issue.

I personally am scared to death of arbitrage but, I like MM's opinion on credit score:

"But credit score is only of cosmetic value if you don't need credit any time soon. To me, after all, I have no better use of my credit score now that I'm sitting on a portfolio of over $800k and has no plan to buy a property any time soon."
I long to be in the position that MM is in right now, where personal assets and cash flow are at a point that makes credit score somewhat of a non-factor.


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Thursday, October 18, 2007

Quote of the week#11

"I wanted to be an editor or a journalist, I wasn't really interested in being an entrepreneur, but I soon found I had to become an entrepreneur in order to keep my magazine going."

- Richard Branson
found from

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

5 tips on how to save money

Here are some quick tips for saving money.

  1. Pack your lunch - Going out to lunch everyday can get expensive - real quick. For example let's say you go out to eat 4-days a week and buy the $6 combo meal with a drink at the local fast-food restaurant by work. And on Fridays you and your work 'clique' go out to eat at the sit down restaurant that costs about $12 a pop. That's $36 a week, $144 a month, or $1800 for a year (when you take out 2 weeks for vacation). If you Pack your lunch instead, paying say $3 max a day for the contents of the brown bag you pay $15($21 saved) a week, $60($84 saved) a month or $750($1050 saved) a year. So that $1050 saved you could actually use to take your 2 week vacation out of state.
  2. Direct Deposit Savings - Talk to your HR department or your primary bank about signing up for having a portion of your income 10% -20% (or more) depending on what you can live without - taken out of your bi-weekly check (assuming you get paid that often). Let's say you put away
    $25 a paycheck; That's $50 a month, $650 a year. $50 a paycheck; That's $100 a month, $1300 a year. $100 a paycheck; That's $200 a month, $2600 a year! $200 a paycheck (I envy you); that's $400 a month, $5,200 a year!

    And obviously I haven't even factored in the benefit of compound interest. If it were me I would put the money in a money market account that gains about 4-5% on average right now compared to your bank savings account which average yield is about 1% or less. The only caveat about Money Markets is while they are a pretty sure bet, they're still a bet because they are not guaranteed to always go up like savings accounts are.
  3. Use coupons - Coupons will save you bit by bit. I personally don't use them that much for groceries but for admission to theme parks, restaurant bills and other things that cross the $10 threshold they can end up saving hundreds of dollars over the years.
  4. Go to the dollar movie - This is a big one. If you pay $10 a week (or $20 if you're the gentleman) for a 1st-weekend movie, you'll save $450 (or $900 for the gentlemen) by going to the 3-4week old $1 movie.
  5. Cut out the $5 coffee, go for $1 convenience store coffee -
    If you forgo your daily $5 latte for a $1 convenience store knock-off you'll save about $1,000 after a year. If you cut your coffee habit completely you'll save $1,250
So if you think about it very small lifestyle changes can save you up to $8400 or more a year. I'd start saving now.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Article/News bit of the week: USA becoming less valuable

I finally decided to force myself to look somewhere other than for articles & news bits this week.

Instead this week I branched out to to find this article:

U.S. Assets Dumped by Foreign Investors in August

The article talks about how foreign investors are slowly divesting from the U.S. And that divesting is leading to the ever devalued dollar - I think President Bush is the main cause - but, that's just my liberal bias getting out of it's cage.

Another news article that I overheard on Fair Game - my current favorite talk radio program (Have I mentioned I'm a nerd?). Faith Salie, the host, recently had Douglas Rushkoff on who talked about Media Overdose . Basically he explained that the media persuades you into thinking things that are not necessarily true or sometimes completely off base.

I'd suggest checking out the link and listening to the program to be sure but, at one point he explained that certain Republican or at least non-Democrat entities sent mail to predominantly black neighborhoods (...wait what does this have to do with finance? - I'm getting there - stay with me) a few weeks before an election that explained to the recipient (most likely black) that if they went to a polling place to vote they would either have to pay any outstanding parking bills or fines with the city OR be arrested on the spot at the polling place. Of course this was complete fiction but on some level it kept a percentage of black voters from voting.

It sickens me that might have actually worked. But black people: pay your bills, then buy land, then harass your congress-person to stop crap like this from happening.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Web Video of the Week: Sir Branson Visionary

Today's blog of the week again comes from my favorite news source, honestly, I should have stock in Time Warner or they should at least reimburse me for the publicity. That being said.

Today's Webvideo of the week - you'll have to follow this link: see. The more I learn about Richard Branson the more I like this Billionaire. I think my favorite Billionaires would go in the following order of likability:

  1. Warren Buffett
  2. Oprah
  3. Richard Branson
Before I get too far off track, a little bit about the above link. Richard Branson is going into the loan agreement business with Virgin Money - a company that focuses on formalizing loan agreements between family and friends. Now some of you may think it's silly to do this because your family is good for it but, I know from experience (me being the debtor) that not all family is that good with money or paying people back on time.

That being said, let me get back to why I like that billionaire Richard Branson so much. He is beyond ambitious but he does it all while wearing a smile. He started a record store nearly 40 years ago - when he was about 20 and then several years later he parlayed that into an airline, and then several other businesses. Today he is of course a billionaire but at the same time, he wears a smile to just about every interview and it's a sincere smile at that. He is also an avid adventurer - constantly trying to break world records - none directly related to finance.

What really makes me want to meet this guy someday is the fact that a few years ago - he decided to make the first Space Airline - Virgin Galactic - basically upping the ante to anyone who doubts a daydreamer's dreams. So what my parents possibly saw as impossible at one point - going into outer space on vacation - I can see as a viable vacation option in say 2020-2030 (when I might be able to afford it).

What do you dream?

  • Dream of getting out of debt,
  • having some fancy car
  • do you dream about being able to physically fly one day,
  • to be able to end hunger in Africa or the world,
  • Find new better jobs for weapons manufacturers so people can work on ways to work together instead of tearing people apart.
  • Cure AIDs
  • Cure all Cancer
  • walking on the moon
  • visiting a distant planet billions of light-years away
  • having everyone laugh at your jokes
  • Becoming famous

Harriet Tubman once said:

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world."

I'm a dreamer, a bonafide dreamer since birth. But without dreamers who put their dreams into action -much like Harriet Tubman, the Wright Brothers, Henry Ford, Oprah and Sir Richard Branson - (Visionaries is my word for them) I doubt I'd have a whole lot to dream about today.

I might quite possibly be an uneducated slave, who never rode an airplane, had only seen cars in movies and who never even began to think that flying to California was possible much less flying into outer-space.

I once had an argument - a very drunk argument at that - a few year's ago with friends about who could change the world. I argued that anyone can change the world in fact just about every day your alive you have an opportunity to change the world if you aren't in fact doing it already.

My two friends argued that that was way too idealistic and only a few key people ever truly affect the world in one way or another, the rest of us are just here for the ride. I still disagree with them but, if they're somehow right, I'd much rather be in the saddle then riding along in the carriage... so-to-speak.

Again I've gone completely on a tangent but I'm curious if you're reading this - do you think you can change the world? Personally, I stand by my belief.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Progress Report: - Week ended 10/14/07

  1. Sell more things on E-bay - still haven't received my check back from 'i sold it on e-bay' If I don't have a check by mid-week I will go in and ask about the check status again.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - Not much news on this front.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (again) - I did increase my 401K contribution back to my company's match this week and barring any surprises, I should hit (or come pretty darn close to) the 8K mark by month's end.
  4. Apply/try out for 3 finance related freelancing jobs -SUCCESS I sent out 3 'feeler' e-mails to different online sites that are accepting freelancers. 0 responses so far but, we'll see.
  5. Pay off remainder of debt/collection - SUCCESS - I paid this off the other week.