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.