Sunday, October 14, 2007

International Blog Cup!

Looks like someone decided to create a contest for the worlds best blogs @ the "International Blog Cup." It looks like a public voting system that starts with 32 blogs that have been nominated for the competition. It goes through 5 rounds of voting to find the best international blog. You can see a visual of it on the left, click pic.

Many of the blogs I'm not very familiar with. But maybe some of them are your favorites. Some blogs I know in the running... boing boing, problogger, life hacker, perezhilton, seth godin, and the consumerist. The voting is down to the quarterfinals with 8 blogs. Voting for this stage will be open from 10/10 to 10/15. Go vote!

An International Look At Weekly Food Expenses...

I'm sure most of you out there are familiar with how much your friends and family spend per week on food. But have you ever been curious what someone from another country spends?

I came across an interesting post that highlights a book called "Hungry Planet - What the world eats." It's written by Peter Menzel, and it shows what families from around the world buy, and how much they spend per week on food.

It ranges from a family in Germany that spends an unbelievable $500 per week, to a Sudanese refugee family spending only $1.23! The post has everything set up pretty well with pictures of the family, and what they've bought. It's worth a look...

Saturday, October 06, 2007

A Day Late, And $39 Dollars Short!

One day late with last months credit card payment and they charge me $39.00! Plus a $10 finance charge to boot. $49 is too costly a mistake for being a day late when I've been a long standing customer. A quick phone call and I was able to get the late fee waived, but not the finance charge. Oh well, I guess that's the price to pay for convenience, easier budgeting and various rewards...

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

October Net Worth...

My, my, how time does fly! It's been almost 2 months since my last post! I'm going to try to at least keep our net worth posts consistent. I can't believe I missed a month. One missed net worth calculation missed in the past 1.5 years, not bad I guess.

With our son being 5 1/2 months old now, it's been kind of busy around here. Plus we've been doing a little updating to our condo to help the resale value. Doing a little painting here, replacing a vanity mirror there, we hope to put it on the market sometime in the near future.

With my wife back to work part time, we've been doing surprisingly well the past couple of months. We've made a 6.57% ( $10,835.43 ) increase since our last net worth which was early August. That comes to a new net worth of $175,636.87. I think it could be due to the record amount of overtime I've been putting in this year. Though I'm not sure how much longer it will last, things have been getting a bit rocky at my wife's job since their business hasn't been doing so well as of late. We'll just have wait and see...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

We've Been The Victims Of Credit Card Fraud!

Son of a B#$@^!!! I didn't think it could happen to us. All the nice little safety precautions we take to protect our credit cards and credit account information. Several nights ago we received an automated message from my wife's bank that there has been some unusual activity on her account. We logged online to find that someone had made a $3,000 transaction several states away, earlier on in the day!

They also TRIED to use the card again for another $600 transaction, but the alert had already been made, so the credit company wanted the merchant to call in that purchase for identification. We were stunned, nervous, and pissed! Luckily everything was handled quickly and smoothly. We took care of the matter online and on the phone. That money was credited back onto our account, and closed immediately.

We then issued a fraud alert to all three credit bureaus over the phone. We don't really understand how it could've happened. My wife's card wasn't stolen, we haven't been on vacation out of state for a while, and we hadn't made any online purchases recently. A co-worker seems to think that the magnetic strip on the card had been taken with a recent purchase.

We just received the new card with a new account number in the mail. It's been sitting on our desk for a few days now without being touched or activated. I'm not one to say credit cards are evil, but they can be a pain in the ass sometimes...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

August Net Worth...

I'm baaaaaaack. Covered in baby spit up, and diaper ointment, I'm finally sitting down at the computer to run the numbers on our latest and greatest net worth as of August 3rd. The month turned out WAY better than I thought. Our net worth increased 3.09% or $4,941.59, for a grand total of $164,801.44. You can view the entire balance sheet for the year by clicking on the pic to the left.

I'm acting surprised because the wife was out for about 3 weeks on disability due to surgery, and going back to work 4 days a week as opposed to 5 because of the birth of our new son. I think working some overtime, being a little more frugal, and selling some ad space helped out for the month of July. Let's perform a brief review of the balance sheet. With our cash savings slowly increasing to a decent amount, we've recently been house browsing online. Not very happy with a lot of houses and prices we've been seeing, we've decided to wait a bit longer before we get serious at house hunting.

Looks like my 401k will be nearing the 20k milestone soon, I can't believe it's only been a few years since I opened it up. The ROTH IRA seems to be moving with the market which has been down as of late. The company pension plan is crawling along as usual. Our condo and personal property, which consists of jewelry, will always stay static unless we get professional appraisals. I don't feel good about putting my own price tag on things like that. With overall spending down, we've had lower credit card bills to deal with.

As usual, we continue to pay the set payment for any loans we have outstanding so we'll have more money to save for a house. And partly due to that, our emergency fund has increased to a plump 50k. Well, that's all to report for now. Everything has been good on the home front. The wife and baby are both happy and content. Climbing the financial ladder slowly but surely...

Monday, July 02, 2007

July Net Worth Snapshot...

Looks like it was another rough month. Our net worth increased 1.96% for a dollar total of $3,070.19. My wife was feeling upset that she had to go back to work after maternity leave after about 6.5 weeks. A about a week and a half after she returned, she got a gallbladder attack so bad that she had to have it surgically removed! That meant she would be out of work for another 3 weeks. Well, she said she wanted to spend another few weeks with the baby, now she is! But that also means more disability pay which is something like 60% of the past 15 months salary.

We did pretty well saving and banking a nice amount of cash for our saving account. That's thanks to some nice overtime and some more ad space sold. Nothing more to report than that. Retirement accounts creeping up, while our debts are inching down. You can see a more detailed view of last months progress by clicking the pic on the left. Climbing the ladder slowly, but surely...

Monday, June 11, 2007

Stressful Times...

Not much to report on the financial front. I've been working on a fairly large project at work that means many hours of work, but many hours of over time as well! The past few weeks has been sort of stressful. Our new son has some wise words from an infants perspective that applies to all ages. (click pic for sage advice) I've found myself scanning the realty sites looking for houses.

We're not 100% ready to buy a house, at least I'm not, but it's good to see where the market is at this point. I'll probably applying for a few pre-approvals and qualifications within the next several weeks just in case we spot a good deal. There are also a few things around the house that need to get done to make this place a little more appealing to any potential buyers.

The next net worth might sting a bit compared to the last one. The wife finally went back to work part time last week, and the disability checks will be a few weeks apart. I'm hoping the extra O.T. and recently sold ad space will help ease the pain a bit....

Friday, June 01, 2007

June Net Worth Snapshot...

Today's net worth snapshot falls on our new son's 6 week birthday. Six weeks later also means that my wife will be going back to work next week! But a month and a bunch of poopy diapers later, we finally seem to be getting back on track this month with our net worth increasing 2.87%, for a dollar total of $4,374.81.

Two big differences between this month over last month was that we finally started to receive disability checks for my wife's maternity leave, and there were no big credit card purchases. Seems the stock market helped the retirement accounts a bit and the loans are being paid down slowly but surely. We'd like to save as much as possible because we'd like to purchase a house within the next several months to a year.

With my wife going back to work part time until September, it should be slow going the next several months. Oh, and the breast feeding wasn't working out too well for us, so that was stopped about 3.5 weeks ago. We'll have to shell out extra money for formula in the next several months. I believe we save a bit of money on formula by using power instead of liquid though. That, and various coupons I've found through out the net.

That's it for now. Looks like it's my turn to feed the baby...

Friday, May 18, 2007

Advertising Cold Call...

Last month I mentioned that online advertising spending is supposed to grow to an estimated $19.2 billion dollars this year. The financial services sector in particular will increase by about one third to about $2.4 billion. Since last year I've been experiencing some of this growth by way of google adsense, adbrite, paid text links and posts.

But for the past several months during my daily roams around the pf blogosphere, I would see other sites with a lot more paid text links than my site probably would ever have. I also noticed how eager certain marketing companies are in paying for a text link on a personal finance blog, even my little ol' blog.

I looked into text link advertising networks like linkworth and text link ads. But I figured I'd have to split the profits with them, and I wouldn't wind up with much. Perhaps I could make my own deals and make 100% profit? So I set out on a bold and shameless journey to solicit from some of the companies that were advertising on various blogs.

The first round of e-mails didn't do so well, I didn't receive many responses. After putting together a better sounding sales pitch, and increasing the number of potential advertisers, I finally started to see positive and money making opportunities. I'd estimate I get a response from 30% of the e-mails that are sent out. Most I wind up making agreements with.

I also like the challenge, and the art of negotiating a deal. I'm curious to know if there are any other pf bloggers out there that have done something like this? Have you thought about it, and do you think you will perhaps give it a try? I think the money's there, go for it. I figure I have nothing to lose, and a few extra bucks to gain...

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Time For A Raise!

Yep, it's about that time of the year. Unfortunately it's nothing special, another 3.0% raise this year. Seems as though I'm with in average range for this year. They expected raises to be from 3 to 4 percent last year. I've also found that it's slightly under last years average inflation rate of 3.24%. For some reason I'm not complaining as much this year, I feel more content...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

May Net Worth Snapshot...

Whew, what a month it's been! With the preparation and arrival of our new son, comes a multitude of challenges. From emotional to physical, from financial to intellectual, it's going to be interesting for the rest of our lives.

Well, as to be expected, last month was a bit difficult financially. Our net worth has minutely increased by 0.19% for a dollar total of $294.00. (Click balance sheet on left for more details) The disability money we were expecting to help out while my wife was on maternity leave never showed! The first check was 2 weeks late.

Now we find that we have to fax in a letter explaining the situation so they can stop payment on the check if it's out there, and put a trace on it. After that process, they'll mail us another check which should take another 2-4 weeks! Our 2nd check was mailed out yesterday, so we're hoping that one shows up on time. Due to less savings and paying taxes last month, there was a slight decrease in our cash funds.

Our retirement funds seem to have been following market and did pretty well, they're all up for the month of April. Credit card debt is up much higher than normal due to being used to pay taxes. Well, that's it for now, I'm looking forward to next month since I expect it to get slightly better when we start getting the disability checks on a regular basis, but who knows...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Newest Addition To The Financial Ladder...

I'm proud to announce that we have a new addition to the financial ladder. Our new bouncing baby boy started climbing with us on April 20th, 2007 @ 5:09 pm. Mommy and baby are both doing well and are in good health. The first financial related question he makes me ask is, what does a natural birth and a 3 day stay at a hospital cost nowa days?

That's not a subject I normally think about when discussing new babies with family or friends. Is there anyone out there willing to share what it cost them to give birth in a hospital, and what the actual cost was? Hopefully both of my wife's insurance companies will soften the hit a bit...

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Child-Care Woes and an Imminent Birth...

I mentioned in a previous post that while my wife and I are at work, my wife's aunt will be watching our child. After further discussion with my wife, I found out that nothing in life is free! Turns out We'll be paying our aunt to watch him. So for approximately 6 hours a day, and about 4 days a week we'll be shelling out $30 a day for child-care.

That comes to about $5,800 a year including vacations. I came to the conclusion that it's only fair, she'll have her two grandchildren to watch as well our newborn. Plus, she'll be spending time, food and energy while she's not 100% healthy. A little research also shows me that daycare center child-care is much more expensive, so we have a good deal.

Speaking of baby, the wife visited the doctor the other day. Turns out if he's not born by next Thursday, they'll induce her that night! So we're possibly looking at an April 20th birth. I'll be taking off of work for about 2 1/2 weeks to help/bond with the baby. Now that a "countdown" has begun, she's scared and I'm nervous. She's also having false labor pains, which usually indicates the birth is near as well, so who knows...

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Bigger Online Advertising Budgets = More Money For PF Bloggers?

Seeking Alpha reports online advertising spending is expected to be approximately $19.2 billion dollars in 2007. An online market researcher named "eMarketer" expects the financial services sector to increase it's online advertising spending by over 33% to $2.4 billion this year alone, and $3.52 billion by the year 2010. It's now one of the biggest online advertisers online.

Could this mean more money for the personal finance, investing and real estate bloggers out there? We do offer a large audience of the type of clientele they're looking for. They are willing to pay big money to the larger personal finance sites out there like yahoo finance, cnn money, aol's market watch, and msn. CNN Money’s display ad rates are $92 - $143 per thousand impressions (cpm)!

We may not get as much of the pie as the big shots out there, but it's there for the taking, and I'm a bit hungry..

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

I Have a Bigger Salary Than The Co-Founders Of Google...

For the third year in a row the CEO and co-founders of google, Larry Page and Sergey Brin received a salary of $1. Interesting, and here I am thinking that I'm underpaid. Their main compensation comes from returns on their ownership of google. As major shareholders, their personal wealth is tied directly to the stock price appreciation and performance. Shares of google stock closed Tuesday at $472.60 each. Guess this helps out in between the pay checks...

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Taxes, Insurance, a Baby, Oh My!

Taxes are finally finished and on their way first class. It was an interesting year with us having to actually PAY this year instead of receiving a refund. I adjusted my W-4 earlier on in the year to keep more, and pay less taxes through out the year. Though I may need to do some more fine tuning on it since we'll be shelling out about $1,600 for the year of 2006.

It should be interesting next year with our little tax deduction on the way ;-) Which brings to the heart attack the other day when my wife called me on April fools day to tell me she had the baby! Of course she really didn't, but It was the best scare I had in a while. In reality, she's now dilated 2 centimeters. Could be any day or week now. Oh, and I can't forget insurance on top of the taxes this month. I'm looking at having to pay out several hundred dollars for auto and home insurance this month. Whoa is me...(Que the violins)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Your Personal Finance Skills and Some Sound Advice...

Times Leader brings to light an interesting study on peoples financial skills, and puts forth some sound advice to help you with YOUR financial skills. The people of Harvard, Princeton and the Federal Reserve came together to compile a report: The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Life cycle.

After reviewing the financial records of tens of thousands of borrowers, they've basically found that the average person's financial decision-making skills reach it's peak at the age of 53, and then gradually decline.

"We find that younger adults and older adults borrow at higher interest rates and pay more fees than middle-aged adults. For the young, the lack of experience outweighs the sharp mind. With older folks, dimming faculties undermine even a lifetime of experience."


They mention a few simple principles you can keep in mind when making some big financial decisions. Here are some of them:

If you plan on hiring any type of financial consultant..

  • Get objective advice. That means relying on advisers who have no stake in whether you do what they suggest. A broker who earns sales commissions has a financial incentive to urge you to buy and sell, even if that’s not in your best interest.


  • Consider hiring a “fee-only” adviser who is paid a flat or hourly rate instead of commissions.


  • Fees matter. Sales commissions, annual account maintenance fees and other “incidentals” add up.


Or if you are a "do it yourselfer"...
  • Don’t rush. Whether you are young or old, assume that investments, loans and other financial choices are commitments you will stick with for years, so you have nothing to lose by taking a few weeks to make decisions.
  • Read all sales materials, prospectuses and other disclosures. Be sure you know your options if things don’t turn out as you expect. Suppose interest rates change or you have a financial crisis? Would you be able to reverse a decision?
I'm not crazy about reading those prospectuses. If you don't either, try a place like morningstar.com or my favorite yahoo finance. If you would also like to see how your financial skills rate, I found a little "financial IQ test" @ MSN.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Net Worth Snapshot...

It's quiet...too quiet. This is the sound of the calm before the storm...the financial storm. I'm done paying last months bills, and haven't started paying this months yet. Thanks to the timing of a few financial helpers, this is another net worth record for us ($152,120.85).

This month our net worth has increased by 5.99%, for a dollar total of $8,601.65. You can view the blance sheet on the left, click to enlarge. There are a couple of transactions I made last month that stand out. I sold our I-bonds, and made a contribution towards our Roth IRA. I've had the bonds since Oct 05, and they've done pretty well since then, an appreciation of approximately 6.3%. I wanted to use the money for the roth contribution, and for an upcoming tax payment.

We did pretty well on the saving front due to a extra paycheck, auto insurance payment break, some overtime, and a record amount of blog advertising for the month. There was an interesting increase in my companies retirement plan for an unknown reason, almost $2,000. I'm not fully aware of how the plan works, so I can't explain it. My wife's 401 (k) still remains stagnant. She recently became eligible at her fairly new job, but they say they are making a transition to a new financial firm and they recommended she wait. It's been a little too long, so she plans on lighting a fire under a few peoples butts as soon as she's done with her maternity leave.

Thanks to not having to spend too much last month, our credit card bills have been lower than normal. As usual, all student, auto, and mortgage loans slowly being chipped away. Emergency reserve continues to grow, and is now around a healthy 42k. That's something like one year worth of expenses.

Unfortunately I don't have a positive outlook for next months net worth. Taxes, insurance, a baby, oh my!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

That Stork Is Getting Closer...

As of tomorrow my wife will be 36 weeks along in her pregnancy. It will also be the first day of her maternity leave. The doctor said that she would not let my wife go past 39 weeks in the pregnancy due to the size of the baby...he's in the 85th percentile for his size! So that will be about 3 weeks of leave before the baby, and 6 weeks after. If she delivers by C-Section, it will be an extra 2 weeks. So at the moment she's looking at about 9 weeks of maternity leave time.

She'll be receiving approximately 60% of her work salary during that time. After her time is up, she'll be going back to work part time for a little while. So needless to say, it's going to be financially interesting during the next several months. Thankfully we will be having my wife's aunt watch the baby while we're at work. That was a load off of our minds in many different ways. We'll be climbing the ladder a bit slower, but it'll be worth it.

I have to admit it, I'm more nervous than excited. My wife has a good amount of experience with babies and children. From being a baby sitter when she was younger, to being a "mother/baby" nurse in a hospital, she's really enjoying the pregnancy experience, and REALLY looking forward to the baby. We're pretty much prepared for the baby, from furniture to butt cream!

I've received some help from various classes we've been attending: Pets & Babies, Breastfeeding, and Newborn Childcare. The instructor of the breast feeding class mentioned that the money we'll be saving by breastfeeding, will come to the amount it may take for a vacation. Oh well, Que sera, sera...

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Come Get YOUR Money!

I'm not sure if you've heard, but the IRS has about $2.2 billion in unclaimed tax-refund money for 2003. There are missing filers in every U.S. state, all U.S. possessions, and in all military services. California ranks #1 among all the non-filing residents with approximately 200,000 for the year 2003.

They've also found that New Hampshire tax filers are most likely to get the largest refund, where the median refund is $709. The biggest potential for even a larger refund are the folks in the military who could be banking about $785 each. They still have the chance if they get their forms in by the April 17th deadline of this year.

This is their last chance, any longer and they could forfeit a refund that belongs to them. My home state of New Jersey had about 56,500 non-filers with the potential of about $690 to be received. I wasn't part of that group, and by the look of my taxes this year, I'm going to actually be paying! Check out how much your states non-filers could be making for 2003, click the pic on the left.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Roth IRA Contribution...

I'm reluctant to mention that I've made a contribution to my ROTH IRA for the year of 2006. It's because it will only be $1000 as opposed to the potential max of $4000. I'm keeping our goal of purchasing a house within a year or two in mind when I make decisions like these.

With this contribution along with my 401 (k) contributions, this will be approximately 7% of our income put away for retirement. Not bad I suppose, but that's running on partial retirement steam, we could do much better.

And unfortunately my wife's new employer restricted her from letting her open a 401 (k) until she was with the company for 6 months. Now that she's finally reached that time limit, they are in the middle of transitioning to a new retirement planner, so they aren't opening new accounts yet. They expect everything to be completed in another couple of months or so.

Though I guess that isn't so bad since I'm banking that money that's not contributed, it's going towards "the goal." Oh well, better something than nothing I always say...

Friday, March 09, 2007

We Were Almost Caught In The Credit Card Trap...

With all the hoopla going on about NCN being featured on the Jean Chatzky Show on XM radio, I thought I'd share our near "trapped in credit card debt" experience. A few years back, my wife and I had about 2 years to save for a wedding, honeymoon, and a new home! At that time we were making decent money, a bit higher than average for Jersey. But that still didn't seem like enough for what we wanted.

We eventually decided to stretch it out and settle for a nice wedding and a condo. That's pretty much where the money ended, even with all of the wedding gifts. All of the condo updating like paint, new kitchen cabinets, new electrical, new furniture, etc. was paid for by credit cards. Luckily all the cards were newly applied for, and all of them offered zero percent financing for a year. After everything was said and done, we had gotten into a little over $15,000 in credit card debt! We had NEVER been that far into the hole before. For me it was something like 1 or 2 grand at the most, and my wife about the same.

I have to admit, I felt a little trapped. We had planned on saving for a house for the next five years. With that amount debt, I was afraid we wouldn't make it in time. Me being the over anxious and worrisome type, I wanted to climb out as fast as possible. With any hooks, ladders and ropes I could find! At one point I considered perhaps getting a short term loan at a National payday place thinking I can pay it off much faster and not have the debt show on my credit report, but I didn't know much about them at the time, so I stayed away.

By staying patient, focused and managing our money well, we were able to climb out of the hole in a little over 6 months. After cutting up the cards, we never looked back. Now all credit bills are paid off every month, with no charges, we maintain a excellent credit rating, and we get cash and valuable rewards by using them. Now here I am, trying to climb the financial ladder...slowly...but surely.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

March Net Worth Snapshot...

Youch! This months net worth stung! Due to automobile value re-calculations, baby preparations, and the stock market "correction," we're up only 2.08% or $2,921.96 for the month of March. You can view the full balance sheet on the left for more data. (click to enlarge)

That's a record low increase for us since we've been calculating it for over a year now. But I suppose it's to be expected since it's been about a year since our last car value calculations. Because I slacked on re-evaluating at the end of the year, we took a hit of approximately $1,100.

Let's see, our cash savings increased approximately $2,200. That increase on top of the $1,400 immediate liabilities reduction brings our emergency reserve to healthy $37,665.33. For now, you're always going to see the obligatory large amount of savings, and a slight reduction in debt due to our goal of buying a house within this year, or possibly the next. Don't get the wrong idea, all bills are paid on time, and do not incur any finance charges.

My prediction for next months net worth is pretty positive. Most of the baby preparation is done, and knock on wood, I don't foresee any big bills on the way. Overall I suppose I should be happy about how our net worth has increased in the past year. By cutting the fat, becoming more frugal about life, and conservatively saving, we're climbing the financial ladder slowly, but surely!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Some Amusing Money Quotes To Make You Smile...

  • In God we trust, all others must pay cash - American Proverb
  • Every morning I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work. - Robert Orben.
  • When I was young I used to think that money was the most important thing in life; now that I am old, I know it is. - Oscar Wilde
  • Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination. - Oscar Wilde
  • Rich or poor, it's good to have money. - Sid Lance
  • The safe way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket. - Frank Hubbard
  • I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money. - Pablo Picasso
  • You can't force anyone to love you or lend you money. - Jewish Proverb
  • I'm living so far beyond my income that we may almost be said to be living apart. - E. E. Cummings
  • My problem lies in reconciling my gross habits with my net income. - Errol Flynn
  • Lack of money is the root of all evil. - George Bernard Shaw
  • Money frees you from doing things you dislike. Since I dislike doing nearly everything, money is handy. - Groucho Marx
  • A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. - Jane Austen
  • Most people are to busy earning a living to make any money. - ?Unknown?
  • Anyone who says money can't buy happiness just doesn't know where to shop. - Unknown
  • Money isn't everything...but it ranks right up there with oxygen. - Rita Davenport
  • I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better. - Sophie Tucker
  • It is a kind of spiritual snobbery that makes people think they can be happy without money. - Albert Camus
  • Many speak the truth when they say that they despise riches, but they mean the riches possessed by other men. - Charles Caleb Colton
  • Don't knock the rich. When did a poor person give you a job? - Laurence J. Peter
  • Poverty is a blessing hated by all men. - Italian Proverb
  • A man that hoards up riches and enjoys them not, is like an ass that carries gold and eats thistles. - Sir Richard Burton
  • You aren't wealthy until you have something money can't buy. - Garth Brooks
  • When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. - Billy Graham
  • If God only gave me a clear sign; like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank. - Woody Allen.
  • Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons. - Woody Allen
  • Organized crime in America takes in over forty billion dollars a year and spends very little on office supplies. - Woody Allen
  • Money was never a big motivation for me, except as a way to keep score. The real excitement is playing the game. - Donald Trump
  • To make a million, start with $900,000. - Morton Shulman
  • I am having an out of money experience. - ?Unknown?
  • With money in you pocket, you are wise and you are handsome and you sing well, too. - Jewish Proverb
  • Money isn't everything, but it's a long way ahead of what comes next. - Edmund Stockdale
  • Money is the wise man's religion. - Euripides

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Inherited Wealth - Don't Give It To Your Children...

With a little over 2 months before our first baby is due, my mind has been swirling with tons of financial issues. From "how much is that crib?!" To "holy crap I have to research all of the possible college savings plans out there, I'll be up all night!" From "how much allowance should we provide" to "how and when will I teach our child about money and finance?!" While searching for help on these questions, I came across and interesting quote by one the greats of science, Alfred Nobel.

I regard large inherited wealth as a misfortune, which merely serves to dull men's faculties. A man who possesses great wealth should, therefore, allow only a small portion to descend to his relatives. Even if he has children, I consider it a mistake to hand over to them considerable sums of money beyond what is necessary for their education. To do so merely encourages laziness and impedes the healthy development of the individual's capacity to make an independent position for himself.


This quote was brought on by his decision to leave his wealth for the establishment of the Nobel Prize instead of his children. Only a small portion of his wealth was left to any of his relatives. My philosophy on money pretty much reflects ideas like this one...

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Another "Top Personal Financial Blogs" List...

I recently found that the "Your Credit Advisor Blog" has compiled their own "Top 100 Personal Finance Blogs" list. At first glance it looks like link bait to me, but it looks like they took a little time and attention with this one. They have the list broken down into 11 defined categories, with summaries for each blog. The categories are:



  • Ask the Advisor's Top 10
  • Babes, Chicks, and Divas
  • Dollars and Cents
  • Finances
  • General Personal Finance Advice
  • How to Be a Millionaire
  • Investing and Business
  • Money, Money, Money, Money
  • Savings, Debt, Credit, Frugality and Taxes
  • Singles, Couples, Single Parents, Families, Retired, or Retiring
  • Youth/Under-30, College Students, Recent Graduates

My blog can be found under the "Finances" category, which is explained as "All the blogs here are about personal finance, but these are extra-focused."

Monday, February 05, 2007

Are personal finance bloggers mean people?

Bankrate.com asks "Does money make you mean?" They find that a behavioral study points out that people with money on their minds are less helpful, less considerate and less willing to ask for help or associate with others than those who have not been "preconditioned" when it comes to money. The positive side to this behavior is that money-minded people tend to be more independent, focused and tend to work longer on tasks before asking for help.

A recent issue of "Science Magazine" published the study called "The Psychological Consequences of Money." They used random samples of students and nonstudents at the University of Minnesota, Florida State University and the University of British Columbia. After the groups were separated, some groups were "money primed" and the others received a "neutral primer" to money. The "money primed" group was reminded of money in several ways...

word scramble puzzle that contained money references, a poster depicting different currencies, stacks of play money or tokens, or reading an essay that mentioned money.


Some of the experiments and results...

In the first two experiments, subjects were given a puzzle and told that help was available for the asking, either from the experimenter or a peer who had just completed the exercise. Result: The money-prime participants waited significantly longer than control subjects to ask for help.


In the final three experiments, money-prime participants placed more physical distance between themselves and a participant partner, preferred solitary to group leisure activities and more frequently chose to work alone rather than with a peer compared to the control participants.


After the 9 experiments they didn't quite find that they were mean, more like "socially clueless"

"We didn't find any animosity; it was more of a sense of social cluelessness. They're not mindful of other people. We don't have any indication that they were being rude to these people. It was more 'I can't help you' or 'I don't know how to help you.' Granted, being helpful would be a nicer thing to do, but the intention wasn't to be selfish or mean; they just didn't see that they had a role in this person's life."


So, do any of you notice this type of behavior in yourselves, or among other peers with the same "conditioning" or mindset? I know I'm guilty of a few...

Sunday, February 04, 2007

2006 to 2007 Net Worth Compare...

I mentioned in my last post that February 7th would be one year since this blogs inception. That was also the first time I started to keep track of our net worth on a monthly basis. I whipped up a quick spred sheet to compare last years figures to this years. (click picture on left) The results have me feeling stuck in the middle.

We did well with saving our money and increasing our net worth, but there's a part of me that feels we could've done better. The first category on the list are our various savings accounts. We saw a 127% increase due to our goal of saving for a house.

It was a nice surprise to see that our bonds have increased by 5.74%, which won't be touched by the federal government. Our assets overall have increased by a little over 18%. Not much to say about the liabilities. Slowly chipping them away by 4.56%. We won't be working hard on getting rid of them until we actually get a house. Our net worth overall have a nice size increase of almost 56.5%. Not bad...

Saturday, February 03, 2007

February Net Worth Snapshot...

Where has the time gone? February 7th will be our 1 year anniversary since I made my first post on this blog. Posting has been sporadic, but it's done a lot to help with our personal finances. It's been an interesting month, interesting as in doing lot's of spending and saving.

This month we managed to increase our net worth by 4.26% or $5,750.69 for a grand total of $140,597.24. You can view the balance sheet I use on the left (click to enlarge). The most surprising thing about this month is the amount of money we were able to bank, a little over $5,100.

Unfortunately some of that will be off set by the credit card debt we've racked up. Those expenses include new baby furniture, a wedding shower my wife is in charge of, and various household and auto expenses. Wait until next month when the new carpet we bought hits the books. We've been using the cards in place of cash in a lot of transactions. It's to build up points for various merchandise, and other cash rewards. They're paid every month, so no interest is incurred.

Slight increases in our retirement accounts, and things like house, auto and personal property will stay static until my next net worth calculation. We're slowly chiseling down the auto and students loans, and increasing our emergency reserve fund. Overall not a bad month, I'm quite surprised. Climbing the ladder, slowly but surely...

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cut Your Property Tax?!

I didn't know it was actually possible. But The National Taxpayers Union reports...

"As many as 60% of homes are assessed for too much. About 33% of property-tax appeals succeed."

The procedures on how to get this done vary, but you normally have 30 to 60 days to file an appeal.

"Ask the assessor's office for a copy of your property card, which documents the information on which the assessment was based. If the card lists the wrong number of rooms or square footage, for example, you may be able to get your assessment changed without a formal appeal."

If the information seems to be accurate, visit sites like Zillow.com and domainia.com to check how your homes assessment compares to the other homes in your area. If you find similar homes assessed at a lower value, that may help you build a stronger case. Pete Sepp from the national taxpayers union recommends...

"If you spot big discrepancies, check your local assessor's office's records for more details on homes with similar features and lower assessments. Or find comparable assessments and explain why your home's value should be lower"

That organization publishes a helpful brochure on How to Fight Property Taxes.

"Some jurisdictions also allow you to submit as evidence market-value information, such as your recent appraisal." Has anyone out there tried this, and has it worked for you?

Bank Of America: Trying to Break the Glass Ceiling...

A report by Market Watch this morning mentions that the Bank Of America is looking to lift the 10% cap on deposits for all U.S. banks.

"Bank of America is now the nation's largest holder of deposits and ranks as the second-largest U.S. bank by market value after Citigroup."

Bank of America goes on to make a good point for why they would like to lift the cap in order to grow to become a larger force...

"In addition to restricting the growth of giants, the cap keeps U.S. banks artificially small and makes them vulnerable to international acquirers that aren't similarly limited."

"Over time, foreign banks will be in a position to buy U.S. banks."

They're not saying how much higher they'd like the cap to go, or even if the cap should be taken off all together. The banks move to try and lift or even eliminate the cap is being opposed by the Independent Community Bankers of America and other small community banks. But interestingly The Bank of America have a few allies in this matter, like Barney Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. It should be interesting if they actually do get the cap lifted or even removed. How big could they become, and would that be good for America? I'll wait and see...

Monday, January 15, 2007

A Busy Bee...

A busy bee, that's been me. I've been working extra over time this past couple of months, the paychecks have been nice. Unfortunately they have been offset by extra big expenses. Holiday spending, and a new patio door. Now we're working on getting a new carpet and recently bought new baby furniture. By the way, we purchased baby furniture manufactured by a company named Babee Tenda. It's supposed to be some of the safest and most durable baby furniture around. They've been around since the 60's with a great track record. Has anyone out there used their furniture or have at least known someone who has? Not much to report in the financial sector of our family. Saving and spending, and repeat....

Monday, January 08, 2007

Man, it keeps getting worse around here...

In posts here and there I've mentioned that my wife and I planned on moving out of our condo within the next couple of years. That time may be getting closer and closer with all of the problems we've had with this place in the past 2.5 years. Within the first year of purchasing our place, we find that the complex has an issue with the building continuing to "settle" after being built 30 years ago. Then we had issues with our neighbors above us where water was coming through our ceiling.

Recently we had issues with our new neighbors across the way drilling holes in our pipes when trying to install a medicine cabinet! Now we have issues were the patio above our patio isn't functioning properly, and it's funneling water into our patio door and possibly our wall! We're thinking about starting to put a plan together shortly after the baby is born around 6 months from now. Hopefully by the time the place is sold we'll be financially ready to take on a house. In the mean time, we'll have to relax and exercise our patients...

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

January Net Worth Snapshot...

Are the holidays over already? The part of me takes care of the finances says hooray! And the part of me that loves friends, family and this time of the year says boooo! The pic on the left side of my post is our net worth balance sheet, click to enlarge. It's the worst net worth increase since I've been keeping track February of last year. I guess that's to be expected due to the holiday shopping, and having a new patio door put in. With all of the overtime I've been working, I expect a nice rebound this month. Wait, we're looking to have a new carpet installed this month, and will be starting to purchase baby furniture...crap.

Looks like we might be in for another sub par month. There's not much really to say about this months net worth. Assests only creeped up due to household and holiday spending, and liabilities creeped down for the same reason. Again, I'm keeping the automobile values static until my next net worth calculation. I've decided to re-evaluate them every year or so. Home value and personal property I'll always keep at that price unless I receive a professional appraisal. Climbing the ladder slowly but surely...