Friday, April 28, 2006

Personal Finance...Vlogger?

Yeah, I said "vlogger." That wasn't a typo. It's short for the brand new and upcoming medium "Video Blogger." I don't know about any of you, but this is the first I'm hearing about it. Apparently it's starting to become a booming form of internet media. There are now approximately 6,500 vlogs out there, and growing fast. That's more than 6,200 from the year before! Good news for any vlogger out there, advertisers like the online video spots. Internet video ads reeled in $225 million dollars last year, and are expected to break the $1 billion mark by 2008! The overhead for producing a vlog is low, and the potential for getting advertisers is good for this new and hip Internet medium. The most popluar vlog on the net is a satirical news show named Rocketboom. They report to have over 250,000 visitors a day, and growing. They've recently auctioned off ads for their vlog on Ebay, the winning bid was $40,000. In October I-tunes offered vlogs for download as video podcasts giving the the vlogger world a potential audience of 40 million ipod users. Some of the other popluar vloggers out there are MobuzzTV, and Tiki Bar TV. So, with the combination of money and logging, who out there will be the first personal finance vlogger?

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Money Blogger Podcast Update...

Today in episode #15 of the Money Blogger Podcast, Scott interviews Claire of "Tired but Happy." Again, this episode separates itself from the rest because of the insights from a family matriarch on frugality and personal finance. With two jobs, a 2 year old and a husband, it's no wonder why she's "tired but happy." Check it out!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Physical fitness = Fiscal fitness

This post was sparked by NCN over @ No Credit Needed, when he mentioned that he was starting to train for a 5 K race (3.1 Miles). I do between one and five of those races per year, so I have to preach the physical and fiscal benefits of exercising, eating right and staying healthly now and for the rest of your life. While searching for some type of stats on the cost of being healthy or unhealthy I came upon a recent article from USATODAY on the subject. Some of the most interesting points mentioned...
  • "30 minutes a day most days of the week can substantially reduce the risk of developing some of the most costly and debilitating conditions, including heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, depression, obesity and stroke. Some researchers have also found a link between exercise and a reduced risk of dementia."
  • "For the cost of a walk a day, you might be able to put off or avoid altogether taking blood pressure drugs or cholesterol medications, for which you could spend $50 to $100 or more a month."
  • "Government statistics show the per-capita health care costs for people with diabetes is 2.4 times higher than those without the disease. The cost per person averages more than $13,000 a year."
  • "If you can stave off dementia and live on your own longer, you can avoid the $70,000 or more a year that nursing homes cost."
  • "Take care of yourself, because your portfolio will last longer," says Mark Bass, a financial planner in Lubbock, Texas, who says many of his clients are surprised by how much health care costs can take out of retirement savings. "A lot of folks think they'll be on Medicare and that will be it," he says. "Medicare helps with a lot, but it won't cover everything by a long shot."
  • Fidelity Investments estimates that a couple retiring today will need $200,000 to cover health costs over about a 15-year period, with prescription drugs representing about one-third. The calculation does not include the costs of dental care, long-term care or over-the-counter medicines.
Those are the fiscal stats in the article. The physical...
  • "A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in January showed that people who did even modest amounts of exercise 15 to 30 minutes a day a few times a week reduced their chances of developing dementia by 30% to 40%"
  • "Elevated blood pressure and the risk of heart disease were cut substantially among a group of people who did three hours a week of moderate physical activity, reduced their sodium intake and ate more fruits and vegetables, a study released in that same journal on April 4 showed."
  • "By sustaining the diet and exercise effort and losing a modest amount of weight for 18 months, about 60% of those who had high blood pressure at the beginning of the study had it under control at the end of that time. When compared with a control group, those that followed the diet and exercise guidelines were half as likely to need medication to control their blood pressure."
With diabeties and heart diesease running in my immediate family, I have to be extra cautious on a lot of the major conditions out there. I recently used a "body mass index" calculator to help find my healthy weight, and it looks like I need to lose a few pounds. Put down the donut and go for a walk. Let the pounds you gain be the cash saved on those medical bills...

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Will driving to a cheaper gas station save you money?

I don't know about you, but with these rising gas prices, I've been shopping around. I don't believe there is much of a difference in gas quality from one company to another, so I look for the lowest price around. But I also wonder if shopping around is worth the time and money. I went looking for something to help and actually found a calculator for it! They have calculators for everything nowa days! So, courtesy of Bankrate.com, they help answer my question, and maybe yours, will driving to a cheaper gas station save me money? After doing the calculations, it turns out it is worth it for me to drive that extra mile. Then again it helps living in the downtown area of my city...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Money Blogger Podcast Update...

Today in episode #14 of the MBP, Scott interviews John and Jane of "Our Money Matters." Each new interview seems to be different and interesting than the one before it. This is the first blogging couple that he's done. There aren't many out there, so it was pretty interesting. Not only that, but unlike the blogger veterans he's interviewed, these two have only been blogging for a little over a month and a half. They seem to be doing pretty well, they have a lot of things to say. Check it out!

Friday, April 14, 2006

One red paperclip for a house?

Slightly off the track of the personal finance path, but there's bartering involved which is an ancient form of financial exchange. Ok, it's a stretch, but let me explain: A man from Montreal, Canada named Kyle MacDonald is trying to trade one red paperclip for a house. He started with a red paperclip on July 12th, 2005 and has made a series of trades for bigger and better things. He started with the paperclip, traded that for a fish pen, doorknob, stove, electric generator, party keg, a ski-doo, a trip to yahk, a van, a recording contract, and now has a rent free year in Phoenix to trade. He looks like he's doing good so far and just may get his house!

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Thanks Vanguard, that was easy...

Yesterday I opened up a Roth IRA @ Vanguard.com, and initiated a move of my current Roth IRA from my current brokerage firm Commerce Capital Markets. The entire process was done online, and in under 15 minutes. It was so easy, that I felt uneasy. I'm used to dealing w/ financial advisors face to face when it comes to my Roth. I've only had two brokerages before Vanguard. I've chosen Vanguard from all of the other discount brokers out there because of thei reputation among the various financial websites, the pf blogosphere, and various reviews I've come accross. They also have a few advantages that my current broker doesn't. They allow me to open an account online, transfer money from any bank account w/ a routing number, a wide variety of low cost index funds, ETF's, bonds, CD's, etc. I will be getting rid of the fairy new, under performing, loaded, and expensive Alliance Bernstein Balance Wealth Strat B fund (ABWBX) and acquiring the fairly new, nicely performing, no loads and low cost Vanguard Target Retirement 2045 index fund (VTIVX). I have to snail mail an authorization form for all this to be completed, so I'll be anxiously waiting in the meantime...

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Money Blogger Podcast Update...

It's hard to believe that Scott @ the Money Blogger Podcast is already up to episode 13 this year. In the latest interview he speaks with Noah Kagan of OKdork.com. This interview is a bit different from the rest because of Noah's unconservative attitude and views of the pf blogosphere. It's interesting, check it out...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Not a bad chunk of change....

In the beginning of the year I wondered what difference it would make if we started to be more conscious about our electrical use. You see, everything in our one bedroom condo runs on electric, heat, air conditioning, stove, etc. That's when I kicked into frugal mode, turing the thermostat from 72 down to 65 in the winter, making sure the windows and doors are sealed properly, keeping the windows and doors open in the summer time, keeping more lights off than usual, etc. We did receive a little help from mother nature this year with above average temperatures. I've created a little chart to track my progress.(on the left) Since mid January of this year we've saved approximately $116.64, not a bad chunk of change...

Bill Tracking Systems...

I'm curious what people out there use to keep track of their bills. My method seems to be low tech, simple, but effective. I'm wondering if there's anything better out there that will help me keep better track of my bills. It's rare, but I've been known to miss a payment by a week or two. It's basically an excel spreadsheet with a list of my bills accross the top and bottom, the estimated time it would take for the payment to reach them, the days of the month along each side, along with paydays, and the weekends. Within the box would be the due dates of each bill and what the amount of the payment is. One of the nice things about it is having a soft copy on the computer and being able to produce a hard copy at anytime. I usually have a copy sitting at my desk, and check off any bills that were recently paid. It's all laid out in front of me on one document. I can transport it physically and electronically. I pay all my bills online through my bank. They offer automatic billing, where it can be set automatically, but I like move money out of checking into savings to make sure I'm getting interest on as much money as possible. It's a checking account that doesn't pay anything. but it's free. I also like the bank because they are open 7 days a week, open longer during the day than most banks, they are close to our home and work, and their service was voted the best in our state. So, what do you use to track bills?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Financial nudists...

In a previous post a few days back I mentioned that I came accross a rare and bold thing in the pf blogger world, someone revealing their income and what seems to be his entire balance sheet. A few commentators mentioned that they've written about theirs in the past. Among them Madame-X of My Open Wallet. But It looks like it may be spreading, and may start being not such a rare thing after all. Tricia of Blogging Away Debt is the latest to become a financial nudist...

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Money Blogger Podcast Update...

Am I the only one who looks foward to MBP on Tuesday mornings? Today with my hot cup of coffee and breakfast I listened to episode 12: Interview with Bluebird @ Hedonic Adjustment. One of my favorite bloggers I might add. Again, this interview seemed to be a bit different from the rest. Bluebird is probably the..uh, most mature of the past interviewee's in terms of age. The subject matter also tended to lean towards the psychological aspect of finance and economics. Very interesting. Check it out!

Monday, April 03, 2006

April Net Worth...

Is it that time of month already? Oh no, I'm afraid to look. Concert tickets, birthday gifts, taxes, extra pay periods, a family loan, oh my! It was a busy month financially. But it looks ok, (4.85%) we're making progress....

Sunday, April 02, 2006

PF Blogger rarity...

Whilst doing my daily scan of the pf blog world today I believe I came accross a pf blog rarity. Brian over @ "Achieve Balance" metaphorically stripped himself of his financial clothes and revealed everything yesterday. From how much he and his wife make each year, all the way to how much he pays his CPA to do their taxes. Revealing the subject of yearly income was an interesting topic started @ Financial Freedumb a few weeks back. I've been scanning the pf blogging world now for the past several months and haven't seen anyone divulge their yearly income. Just thought it was a rare and bold thing...

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Retirement plans: Evaluation

While recently reviewing our retirement plans, I noticed they weren’t doing so well. Or at least not as well as I would like them too. I’m going to evaluate our retirement plans on a few different posts to help me see what we have and how we can improve. Perhaps getting some input along the way. Today I’ll check out my company sponsored 401(k). It’s held @ Prudential Financial, and my current account allocation looks like this… Alliance Bernstein Growth & Income Fund ClA (CABDX) 35% MFS Massachusetts Investors Growth Stock Fund ClA (MIGFX) 30% Lord Abbett Mid Cap Value Fund ClA (LAVLX) 15% EuroPacific Growth Fund ClA (AEPGX) 10% John Hancock Small Cap Equity Fund ClA (SPVAX) 10% When I initially chose the current allocation, it was a suggested portfolio that was considered aggressive, 100% stocks. It looks to be a fairly balanced portfolio, but more than half seem to be under performing. Now that I know a bit more about funds in general, I would like to take more control and hopefully improve performance. As of December 31st 2005 the performance percentage was 6.53%. Compared to common indices that’s not so good, more specifically the S&P 500. Jon over @ MyMoneyBlog introduced me to Morningstar’s Instant X-Ray, which will help me evaluate what I have and even research potential holdings. 401(k) Asset allocation… I like the proportion of stock which is 96%, that’s about right for someone of my age. But I would’ve like to have seen more of it allocated in the international market, which has done very well the past several years. I need to find out what other funds are available through Prudential, I’m not quite sure at the moment. I will at least need to re-allocate what I have now, that would be first and easiest thing to do since it’s available to be done online....