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.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Blog of the Week: Alan Haft

This week's Blog of the Week without question goes to: Alan Haft and his blog post

6 things Star Wars Teaches Us About our Money

The name pretty much says it all. I may be a little bias being a pseudo-Star Wars fan myself but the advice is not only entertaining it makes sense as well. For example:

#1 Start by wiping the slate clean

Master, moving stones around is one thing. This is totally

No! No different! Only different in your mind. You must unlearn what you have learned.

Lesson Learned: I totally agree with Yoda. After all, who wouldn’t? The creature not only managed to live nine-hundred years, but he beat the pants off an Evil Emperor four times his size.

When it comes to learning a few things about successful investing, the first place many folks should start is not by learning complicated investment formulas that ultimately few wind up remembering, but with a willingness to do what Luke was basically forced to do: unlearn some of the things you perhaps already know.

I guess the part that makes sense for me is the media in general presses upon you certain guideposts of what success is- advertising and the media tell you that success is:
  • a leased fancy new car,
  • a McMansion in the suburbs at 'interest only' rates,
  • And a platinum credit card that allows you to 'keep the line moving' instead of paying with slow, boring cash.

The reality though is usually a little bit different:

  • people with paid-off older cars have more capital to invest because they lack the added expense of a monthly car-note.
  • A McMansion with interest only rates initially will correct up sharply when interest rates adjust or when it's finally time to bite the bullet and start paying for some principal on your loan - this is all assuming that your McMansion wasn't overvalued in the first place.
  • Despite advances in technology, I think cash still pays quicker than credit or debit for that matter and as opposed to being 'slow & boring' cash is still pretty sexy in my opinion especially when you know that cash is yours.
As a final side note on paying cash over credit; The myth put out in society that credit is now somehow 'better' than cash, was quickly squashed twice back in Chicago, during my pre-good credit days:

  1. I was out on a hot*1st date, didn't have my checking account anywhere near balanced and decided to pay via my shiny 'platinum' card - to show what a big shot I was. I quickly handed the waitress my card, which was approaching the high 4 figure limit but not at it (at least I didn't think so) a few minutes later the waitress came back and said something to the effect of 'I'm sorry sir this card doesn't seem to be working, do you have another form of payment?" I was a little mortified and pulled out my wallet which was completely devoid of cash. I do believe, at this point I pulled out my debit card which I was iffy about already and handed it to the waitress. The conversation between me and my date was quickly getting 'frosty'. A few minutes later the waitress came back and with the same apologetic face said "I'm sorry sir, this card doesn't seem to be working either" I was double-mortified at this point and asked the waitress to run my first card a 2nd time. She agreed and the conversation between me and my date ceased and the embarrassed staring at the wall ensued. Finally, after a few minutes that seemed like hours, the waitress came back with a much cheerier face and said simply "it looks like we were having a problem with our card machine, your card went through". I was somewhat relieved but the damage to my image in my dates eyes was already done as it was obvious that I was close to my limit or else I wouldn't have been sweating bullets like I was. Needless to say there was no 2nd date.
  2. I was out with the girl I had been dating for a few weeks and I was trying to be 'spontaneous' (since I am a consummate planner) and I 'surprised' her by taking her out to a show and then a fancy dinner at a high end restaurant. The girl wasn't that impressed as she had already seen the show I was surprising her with and she even pretty much told me, she wasn't in the mood for fancy restaurant fair and was more in the mood for something very casual. Anyway, the waiter in this instance was very snobby and could tell by our age and inability to pronounce menu items that we were not as 'refined' as his typical customer. When the bill came, again, I pulled out the 'platinum' card to pay and this jerk-waiter pointed out the likely inability of me being able to pay cash by stating "Credit, I see" in a very condescending tone when he returned to pick up the bill. The card did not get returned this time but, If was able to whip out a $100 bill at the time instead of my 'platinum' credit card and it would have limited the ability of the waiter to continue treating me like the second-class citizen he seemed to think I was. By paying with 'cool' & 'hip' credit it only reinforced his opinion. Needless to say this waiter didn't get a very nice tip but, that respect I thought my platinum card would immediately provide was completely absent.
Anyways, Got off track by a bunch there but, definitely check out the article above, funny, entertaining and informative.

*by 'hot' I mean approaching the attractiveness of my current super-hot, dime-piece , sexy girlfriend. I mean honestly, for the record, above 1-date-wonder really pales in comparison.

Friday, October 12, 2007

I think I'm gonna go spend some money...wastefully.

So I was supposed to go hang out with my girlfriend tonight but, she (who lives pretty far away - in her defense) bailed on me in the last minute.

I've already set up plans to meet up w/ other friends and drink semi-senselessly but I also have an 8AM appointment tomorrow for new glasses (theives stole the old - 14 year-old pair I had) so I'm debating what to do.

Well I just finished donating $40 in the name of public radio - Tavis Smiley to be specific - So I might as well donate some money towards the It's-Friday-and-I-need-liquid-poison-to-relax fund.

Yeah, I think I'll be donating to that fund sometime soon.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Qoute of the Week #10

"I'm tired of dreaming. I'm into doing at the moment. It's, like, let's only have goals that we can go after."

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Geez, I've been staring at my computer blankly for about 20 minutes now trying to think of clever stuff to write about myself seeing as MoneyMonk - tagged me - for this "7 random things about me" chain. I appreciate it, as I've never been tagged before but, ...OK enough excuses, on with the things about me.

1) I like to to draw - I used to draw pretty well back in the day. Then while out and about one day when I was about 14, my father explained to me why artists make no money...and I should concentrate on business or something that makes money. If I had only known he was only half-right I would've probably gone to art school and be living in NYC right now. Que sera sera right?

2) I used to have a pet shark - Well my dad did. It was about 3 feet long in a 6 foot tank and I used to feed it fish food, I think, when I was 5 after I came home from school. Imagine my horror when my Uncle took me on a Pacific fishing trip when I was about 8, I actually caught a baby shark (with a lot of grown up help) and when I asked my Uncle to throw it back he and his friends instead skinned the shark and served it as a stew, later that night.

3) Licorice is my absolute favorite type of candy- Strawberry or Cherry Twizzlers especially. I will probably be passing that out if I have any trick-or-treaters later this month. Or, maybe I'll be stingy and just give the kiddo's Snicker's instead.

4) I was a child model - Yes, I very well may be in an old, dusty, 6th grade geometry textbook of yours. I'd be the black kid with the fake smile looking at cones & cylinders with another black kid with a fake smile.

5) I have never stepped foot out of North America- I have been to Tijuana, Toronto a couple of times and some mall either in Vancouver, Canada or very, very close to it. I'd like to go to Africa or my girlfriend's home country someday and I guess Europe. Only time will tell.

6) I still read (and sometimes buy) comic books - OK, but to put it in perspective, I read 'adult comic books' called Graphic Novels. For example Y the Last Man, is easily one of the best Graphic Novels out there today about the sole, male survivor from a worldwide plague that kills every single male mammal on the planet and leaves plenty of women who want him, but more newly christened Lesbians that want to kill him. Which makes the last thing about me very obvious...

7) I am an undercover black nerd - I mean honestly, I am one taped-up pair of bifocals away from beating Steve Urkyll out of his coveted post. I don't wear glasses(usually), I work out regularly, and I have a beautiful girlfriend so the secret is usually kept under wraps until I open my mouth for extended periods of time.

OK time to 'tag' 4 others. I choose TMAC at My Financial Odyssey, Debt Hater, Give me Back My Five Bucks, & Single Ma

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Article/News bit of the Week: Don't kill yourself over debt

So I was reading this article from my favorite online new source over the weekend:

Man kills self in front of City Council after zoning decision

And after delving a little further into the article I realized this man's senseless death had a lot to do with his impending financial state. This particular blurb says a lot:

"Ronald "Bo" Ward, owner of Bo's Barber Shop, had told the council his business would go under if he couldn't get his home rezoned as commercial. After the 5-7 vote Thursday night, Ward stood and walked toward the council.

"Y'all have put me under. ... I'm out of here," he said before shooting himself in the head with a small handgun."

Suicide is a touchy thing but after honestly considering the suicide option, - more than once - while I was in debt above my head, I have to say it is really not worth it. If you're deep in debt right now and the thought of suicide has crossed your mind or you've gone so far to checked out ...I would strongly suggest seeking a counselor or a very sympathetic and open friend to talk about what you're going through right now.

Life can be beautiful when you overcome your mistakes but a key step in overcoming your mistakes is facing them and getting over, around or sometimes straight through them.

If you're in high-interest credit card debt hell right now, start by getting a big pair of scissors or a blender you don't use and destroy those cards. DO it NOW!

Another good step to take would be to either pick up a book by Dave Ramsey or if you have an Ipod, join his free Podcast. Everyday on his Podcast he talks to people who have been through what you've been going through if not worse. This will help you understand that you are definitely not the only person on the planet that has made a mistake. (I wouldn't suggest giving him a call though until you're OUT of debt - he tends to yell at callers and another person yelling at you is probably the last thing you need right now)

Another Option is to Check out Bloggers that have gotten rid of debt or are in the process of getting rid of it. My personal favorites are -Debt Hater , Debt Free Renee, and the blog that inspired me to start blogging - Make Love, Not Debt.

Last but, not least - make some goals. If you have no direction, chances are the powers that be will push you in a direction - not necessarily the one you want to go in either.

Maybe make 3 financial goals of how you can change your direction, this week. It could be as little as "I will save $10 no matter what", to "I will omit my $5 Starbucks coffee break for a .99 cent coffee break at the gas station/convenience store" to "I will sell my least favorite Elvis collectible plates on e-bay this week" But do something, Living life debt free is so much more enjoyable - you don't HAVE TO work for the man YOU CHOOSE to work for the man. Or maybe, just maybe, you'll go out and work for YOURSELF -once that goal of being debt-free is achieved.

But don't kill yourself over your bank statement - in this country that might mean a lot but in other countries it means next to nothing. Believe me I've been there, and I am so grateful today that I never went through with it - no matter what the TV says your credit score does not completely define who you are.

There are some people with 800-850 credit scores who effectively useless when it comes to being a 'good person'.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Made it: 19th Carnival of money, growth and Happiness

Just wanted to put a quick note out there that I did make it into the 19th Carnival of Money, Growth and happiness which is over at the Credit Card Lowdown blog.

My recent blog on advice is featured there. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Web Video of the Week#3: Classic Honeymooners

Classic Honeymooners, why counterfeiting doesn't work:

Best quote " I used to a Millionaire...for a couple of days"

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Progress Report - week ended 10/7/07

So I just wanted to really quickly go over my progress report for October goals:

  1. Sell more things on E-bay - I haven't yet received my check back from 'i sold it on e-bay' I think I might try and sell some more through them or on my own once I get a handle on how to sell things on e-bat, packing and shipping and what not.
  2. Make $100 in alternative income - this somewhat corresponds with goal #1. I am looking at a number of alternate methods to grow income, have note yet focused on or made any additional income for the month as of yet though.
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (again) - I plan to increase my 401K contribution back to my company's match this week and that, along with some creative saving or 'independent revenue creation' will hopefully put me over the 8K mark.
  4. Apply/try out for 3 finance related freelancing jobs - I'm slacking on this one, will research this week if there is time.
  5. Pay off remainder of debt/collection - SUCCESS I paid off my collection by settling in full on Thursday, I will pay off the $200 on my credit card as soon as I get my bill.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Blog of the week: Sistah Ant

Blog of the week this week goes to a blog I just recently noticed: Sistah Ant

Her recent blog post 'Watch & learn' talks about how you can learn from some financial bloggers.

I have to say that having a PF blog over time seems to definitely help you learn tips & tricks about finance. It also helps keep you motivated whatever your goal may be because usually other PF Bloggers have either gone through what you're going through, been through worse circumstances than what your going through or have already achieved some financial goals you dismissed as simply wishes.

One example that sticks out in my mind more and more is MM at the old-school PFBlog. One of his first posts was this one back in 2003:

This is a personal journal to track my progress to accumulate enough wealth to retire by 40 (Year 2016).

I start to keep track my personal finance in June 2002 when my net worth was around US$47k. By my current estimate, I need to have a net worth of US$1,000,000 to comfortably retire with my wife back in China (my home country) and experience my other interests. I believe this goal is achievable with hard work, discipline and smart personal finance management.

I plan to analyze my progress at least monthly, and write down day-to-day thinkings about personal finance issues regularly. This should be a good journal for anyone who is interested in accumulating a meaningful moneypile from scratch.

Now it's 4 year's, almost 5 year's later and this is his most recent update :

September is an exciting month to say the least. After the stagnating performance of the general stock market in the last three months, it finally rallied in the month and helped our portfolio to book a monthly gain of 3.7%, a record in itself throughout our systematic tracking of portfolio performance in the last two years.

The result: almost $40,000 addition to our net worth tally, boosting our month-end net worth to $832,745.

It is fair to say that we are now in the 8th inning of our multi-year quest for a seven-figure nest egg since the inception of this blog. After we broke the $400,000 mark at the end of 2005, it took us 8 months to gather the 5th $100,000, 3 months for the 6th, and 5 months each for the 7th and 8th. In other words, we more than doubled our wealth accumulations from our first 30 years of life in two years. If we follow the historical pattern, we will likely be able to finish the game with $1,000,000 in our bag in less than 12 months' time from today.

That's right, in about 5 years he and his wife have grown a Net Worth of $47K to Over $800,00! Making $39,000 last month alone. Just goes to show you what some goals and a lot of elbow grease can do. I'll be watching & learning from multiple blogs such as Sistah Ant's but definitely the PFBlog for at least the year to come.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Net Worth over Credit Score

So yesterday,

much to Single Ma's dismay, I decided to take the collection company's offer and took their 'settlement in full' deal. I decided that my Net Worth and getting behind my debt is more important than 'fighting' with the collections company and my temporary credit score.

Yes, the settlement in full will likely negatively affect my credit for a few years to come but, a settlement in full is much better in my opinion than to have it drag on my credit score for a few months while I spend time and energy researching archaic pieces of the Fair Credit Reporting Act and trying to find a loophole out of it.

Honestly, I don't think the damage done will be that bad. When I first discovered the blip on my credit, I noticed that while my score had gone down about 40-60 points, the drop still left me within the 'good credit' zone as my scores ranged from 688 -710. However, I panicked, ran out and got a 0% credit card that wasn't used until this week (to pay off the $200 settlement balance) and this in turn took another 10 pt hit to my lowest score of 688 to 678 - or average.

So now I have average credit but, I'm guessing the settlement of the debt will raise my credit score further - although at a slower pace - and eventually I will be well back into the 700's (good-great) range. Especially when I correct some errors on my credit report about address, employer and even ending balances on accounts.

More important to me right now is raising my net worth as well as my cash flow which is currently pretty low. I don't plan on buying a house for another two years and I'll probably be married by then...which brings up a whole 'nother issue entirely.

I am trying to get engaged in the next 3 months or less and although it may seem small to some that $600 discount/income/whatever will definitely help me shop for a ring faster than sitting, worrying about the debt, and stressing in general over a piddly $1,600, blind-siding collection.

On top of an engagement ring I am planning a benchmark, surprise birthday party for a relative with little help from another relative (i.e., Dobson) - thus far. The birthday party will set me back at least $250 and most likely more as we are planning to pay for the tab.

Ultimately the decision to settle-in-full is one less worry for me. I'd bore you with my other over-stretched obligations (investment club) but I think I've ran long on this post already.

Thanks for reading!Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Quote of the Week#9

"What I know is, is that if you do work that you love, and the work fulfills you, the rest will come."
-Oprah Winfrey
found on

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

DANGER: When co-workers ask for Investment advice...

So If I haven't mentioned it recently, I am currently in the process of starting an Investment Club at my job with two other co-workers.

Well today, while we were talking about what books and topics to possibly discuss at our first semi-official meeting, one of the co-workers started talking about our company's 401K plan and what investments she has in her account currently.

More specifically she pointed out the fact that for the past month or so the vast majority of our 401k options went down in value. I tried to not to boast when I mentioned that my account went up up overall (mainly because I decided to get out of US stocks the moment the Dow hit the 14,000 mark the first time) . At this point my co-worker began to pick my brain about what she should invest in....WARNING!!! DANGER !!!

I tried to be vague and general just mentioning I had chosen some of "Emerging Markets" aka China & India stocks.

- but then she began to say something to the effect of "Oh well, I'll put all of my 401K into Emerging Markets then..."

At this point I tried to be general while at the same time trying to explain why it might be a bad strategy for you to put all your 401k money into any one fund/stock/bond etc. I also mentioned how important diversification is.

We were interrupted by another co-worker and I went back to my desk. But then my co-worker called my extension to finish our discussion and began picking my brain about my exact allocation - which I pretty much told her but at the same time I tried to stress "whatever you do with your money is up to you!"

I didn't go into the whole "I am not a financial planner" spiel but, on a certain level I think I should have.

Even though sometimes I feel somewhat financially savvy at times I by no means should be consulting someone older than me on how to direct their 401k allocations!

One key difference between me and my co-worker are our investment strategies. For example:
  • I am a very cautious investor and I'd be fine and dandy making a straight 7-8% return in my 401K pretty much for life
  • My co-worker on the other hand is a more high-risk investor and would get upset if she was only making 7-8% return assuming the market as a whole was making 12%.
Due to this, I'm a tad weary about other co-workers hanging on to my every word when it comes to personal finance. Although it's a nice new realm of respect, I would feel horrible if a co-worker makes some poor financial decision and then says they based their decisions on my advice or what they overheard me say.

Has anyone else had this problem at work or elsewhere? co-workers find out you're kind of a finance geek and then suddenly think you're the next Warren Buffet? Just curious.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Article/News bit of the Week:

This week's Article/News bit of the week falls more on the Article side as it's a pseudo-article/blogpost from 'Stanley Bing' and assumed name of a business writer for Fortune.

His article How green is My Valley talks about how Money ain't quite what it used to be. One blurb that stands out is talking about a new movie 3:10 to Yuma....

"One line in it got me thinking. A Pinkerton, played by the gracefully aging, well-chiseled Peter Fonda, has been hired to guard a payroll shipment destined to be the target of the ultra-smooth and charming bandit, Russell Crowe. Someone is extolling the toughness and tenacity of the Pinkerton, who has been gut-shot but is still walking around. 'That’s why they pay them $18 a day,' he says."
Of course this movie is based in the past - 19th century to be specific - but, man - who in America can live on $18 a day?

About 4 years ago - A friend of a friend who lived in NYC at the time - explained that simply eating or even existing in NYC costs about $15 a day - STANDARD. Assuming that price has gone up in the past 4 years - and being NYC I'm sure it has...I'm glad I don't make $18 a day - the BIG BUCKS a century ago.

One of my goals is to be a millionaire by 40 - but by that time, will a Million really even be impressive? It might just barely pay the bills.

Speaking of 1 Million dollars, an article that I'll dub 2nd place for this week comes from -almost ironically- New York City I just saw on (yeah, I really need to find other websites to view).

"A New York woman is so angry at Apple Inc. for lopping $200 off the price of the iPhone that she's filed a lawsuit seeking $1 million in damages.

Dongmei Li of Queens, New York, claimed the company violated price discrimination laws when it slashed the price of the 8-gigabyte iPhone by a third, from $599 to $399, within two months of the gadget's June debut."

I was going to say something derogatory towards Ms. Li but, given the fact that I don't have $1 million dollars yet - instead I'll say 'good luck'.

And Apple Inc. - In no way by saying 'good luck' to Ms. Li do I mean 'good luck' in the aforementioned case above. I mean 'good luck' in a very general sense and by no means wish to inadvertently wish 'bad luck' on the wonderful company that created the Ipod which I in fact happen to own... due to the fact that my father fits into the 'early-adopter' category and it was Christmastime around the time you came out with your wonderful video Ipod - OK I kind of got off track there Apple Inc & Ms. Li.

Let me just end by saying: Good Luck to you both & May Justice prevail!

Monday, October 1, 2007

September results / October goals:

So here come the goals:

The first targets I had for the month were:

  1. Cut balance on medical collection by 1/2 or from $1619 to $809.50 - or less - SUCCESS - I just sent in a $420 payment which makes me think,
  2. Send in rebate so I can get my $50 back for my cell phone - SUCCESS
  3. Raise net worth above $8,000 - FAILURE - Upset about this one. but tithing, having fun at a concert - oh yeah and getting my stereo stolen - all played a factor.
Goals for the end of October:

  1. Sell more things on E-bay
  2. Make $100 in alternative income
  3. Raise net worth above $8000 (again)
  4. Apply/try out for 3 finance related freelancing jobs
  5. Pay off remainder of debt/collection
Ok there they are my goals - for a small portion of the world to see. I'm off to bed.

September 2007 - Net Worth

Oh Man, I don't even want to talk about how disappointed I am about this month's (ahem) increase*.

The biggest hit - in my opinion - came from the fact that I realized I had been including air conditioning on my car's worth estimate despite the fact that I have no A.C. in my car!

There is also the severe lack of cash due to paying all my bills basically over the weekend and today.

I also have remained committed to tithing - mainly cause I'm superstitious - but, also because It's good karma.

Hopefully, some of that good karma is starting to come back though. I called the Collection company today and asked them if I paid off the collection in full this week if they would take it off my credit. The collection agent asked me "let me talk my manager and call you back" she called me back 3 minutes later and told me "We can't take it off your credit...but will you pay it all anyway?"

I said "no, I'll pay off $420 with a check I'm sending today, and pay the rest of slowly" we then exchanged pleasantries and said goodbye.

here's where the negotiation kicked in without me even knowing it...

About 10-15 minutes later I get a call and it's the Collection agent "hi Reggie, it's Boopsie from Dooey Cheetum & Howe Collections. I just talked to my manager and we're willing to offer you a settlement-in-full offer if you pay $620 this week rather than the $420 you're about to send in."

In other words they are willing to knock off $600 off my debt since they finally found a 'live one' for the day.

I reluctantly accepted with the personal reservation to negate said agreement if I determine "settlement-in-full" on my credit ends up being worst then "paid-in-full". I'll charge the $200 to my new 0% card at the end of this week and then pay it off once I get the bill. But, honestly, does anyone know the answer?

Does settlement-in-full look worse compared to paid-in-full to lenders? Or are they all the same thing?

Obviously if they're the same thing it's a no-brainer here.

Anyway, I digress. Time to work on some goals for the month ahead.