Sunday, August 06, 2006

Raiding the Emergency fund

I am in an interesting situation. What started as something done for fun, showed me how much i can save over the next couple of months. Sadly, i wont be able to meet my retirement fund goals, i.e I can not max out my roth IRA and roth 401K. In order to meet that goal, i would have to raid into my emergency fund, thereby wiping out 40% of the fund. 60% of the fund would be sufficent to meet about 3 months of my expenses. but the dilemma comes from the fact that it would take me years to get the fund to its original level. The only silver lining is that i dont predict to be in this situation next year.

A lesson i learned is that you can get overwhelmed by the opportunities to save just as you can get overwhelmed by the opportunities to spend. Lesson: Pick and choose what saving types you want, for you cant have all saving types.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Time to blog

Having a full time job that eats up most of your time plus daily chores resultsing in having so little time to blog. I wonder how other bloggers find time to blog? or maybe i am plain old lazy to blog often as i should :)

Monday, July 31, 2006

The price of ‘free’ in the rebate world

We have been waiting on a cell phone rebate from Inphonic for a whopping 8 months now. We could apply for the rebate only after 6 months of phone service and then have to wait for about 6-8 weeks for the rebate check to arrive. The latest status on the rebate website is that they unfortunately have to ‘reprocess’ the rebate.

We have to get $500 back so the amount is no joke. Somehow as the days go by I feel that my ‘free’ phones came with a big price.

1) I had to wait 6 months, fill in about 6 forms making sure I had the UPC code and all the receipts intact till then.
2) Now I have to wait till somewhere in rebate world some unknown entity approves my rebate and sends me a check.
3)I have no idea if by chance I missed something in my application or it got lost in the mail until it is much too late for changing it.

I know (am hoping) that I will eventually get my money back but this whole rebate thing is based on their hope that the customer will not be willing to go over all the hoops and hurdles to get it. I know there are companies that seem to have a faster, smarter process but it is still not an easy process;reiterating that everything comes with a price.

I agree with Mike

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The act of buying AMGN

Finally purchased some AMGN shares for $67.52 two days ago. The shares of AMGN has been rallying pretty good (due to strong results). anyway lets see how it goes. This is the first purchase, hopefully a good one too ;)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

5 things the World Cup taught me about Life, Love and Money

Someone once compared the world to a soccer ball as in the world is constantly being kicked around by fanatic men in short pants. This got me to thinking what this FIFA world cup has taught me

a) Passion: As always, I was taken in by the pure thrill of each game - the passion of the players, the enthusiasm of the fans. I feel the coaches who had the most passion and fire on the field had the more determined and successful team. You need to be passionate on things that matter to you.

b) Go beyond the Hype: A lot of time and effort was spent on building an image. The Brazilian team was the favorite to win this competition, but in the end they were just not ready. Beware of things that glitter, for they are often just sprayed on.

c) Too much of a good thing: I must admit I got carried away. I did not heed to any negative remarks about my favorite team, Brazil. I was blind to everything except what I wanted to believe. If I was like that about my money I would be broke by now. I think you should have passion but not too much that you are oblivious to the obvious.

d) Teamwork/Preparation/Skill and pure luck: As the games progressed, the better skilled and in shape team shone, while the ones who were not, fell off the bandwagon. It is crucial to be in shape; laziness, tardiness can be your downfall and just because you got it right once doesn’t make you safe. I feel this is so true about investing and saving; you always need to be prepared. And sometimes what makes you get ahead is - pure luck

e) Its not always fair and the world might not agree with you: Many of us have been disappointed, let down and some are still analyzing the ‘what could have been’. Whatever happens, we cannot change reality. However unfair we may think it to be and no matter how right we think we are, we cannot always get everyone to agree with us .The best sportsman isn’t one who is always the best but the one who always does his best and is brave enough to face any outcome.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

To buy or not to Buy

I am have been reading about stocks for quite sometime, six months to be precise. After setting my sights for sometime, I feel its time to plunge and invest in Amgen (AMGN).

What: AMGN is a global biotechnology company that operates in one business segment: human therapeutics.

Stock Price: 66.45 PE: 21.6 Fwd_PE:18.90 52W_Low:63.75 52W_High:86.92 Beta: 0.8
Dividend: 0, Sales: 12.72B Debt/Equity: 0.41 Book Value/Share:14.75 Quick ratio: 1.3
Leverage ratio: 1.8 Price to cash flow: 16 5YR_ROA: 6.9

Analyst Ratings: 9/10 (MSN), in general buy or hold rating

Conditions Met:
Stock price near the 52 week low
Sales should be above $40 Million
StockScouter rating should be 9 or above
Institutional ownership should be above 40%
PE should be within 25
Book value should be positive
debt to Equity is less than 1
Quick ratio is 1 or higher
Leverage ratio near to 1 and less than 15 (close to industry average)
Price to cash flow is positive
5 year Return on asset (ROA) should 6 or above.
The price chart is climbing up

Conditions Not met
Insider trading – Two major executive sold shares
Debt to Equity ratio is higher than industry average
Does not pay dividends

Selling Price
If stocks falls more than 15% below purchase price
Target Price: 93

The company is large and got couple of good drugs in its portfolio. In general I feel the company is confident and is not reckless. I plan to keep the stock for 2 years (will keep revising the target price)

Disclaimer: The website records the opinion of the writer at a given point in time. Site owners wish to remind that the readers are solely responsible for any action they may undertake based on the information provided in this site.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

The "Tipping" Point

She said

Y'day I got back from Seattle and had reserved a shuttle to drop me from the airport to my home.They picked me up about 40 mins after I had landed so I was late late late for work.While on the shuttle I realised that I had to no cash to tip the driver and since I had already paid by cc online there was no way I could include it in the tab.He dropped me off and I thanked him and scurried off before he could give me a dirty look or something.

But the thing is I felt bad about it,that got me thinking about the whole idea of giving a tip.In India it is not expected ;though as anywhere it is appreciated and is definitely not expected to be minimum of 10-15% of the bill.I understand that most people in the service industry here make most of their money by tips and I have no reservations on tipping generously.

What I don't know is how to account for tips in my budget..Do they come under expenses?or charity?Is it tax deductible if I hand out 10 bucks for every cab ride I take?To me it appears like I am giving money away it just something between me and the person who gets it or should I get the government involved .... Thoughts anyone?

Friday, June 30, 2006

HSBC increases its rate again

HSBC is what i call an aggressive bank, they work hard to give the best interest rate to their customers. They have increased their rates again (now its 5.05%). Couple of good things about HSBC are (from our experience)

1. Gives the highest interest rate (They always matches or exceeds competitor's rate within a week's time )
2. The online system works without much hassle or downtime.
3. No minimum balance or fees
4.They dont come out with deals for new customers alone. in their world every customer is equal
5. 24 hr customer serivce.

The bad side
1. Painful Fund transfer mechanism. it takes 3 days to transfer fund to or from your HSBC account
2. The design of the website could have been better. after all that is the only interface thru which you interact with HSBC online savings account. So some thought on improving the usability is required.
3. The account setup procedure is werid. First they send the account information in postal mail. then after one week username is send, then after yet another week the password comes!.

Other than that, i have no complaints. All in all, we believe opening account with HSBC has been an excellent decision.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

To choose a broader fund or not?

Its said vanguard offers good index mutual funds with low expense ratios. While that is true, there are couple of things about vanguard that I don’t like. 1. for IRA (roth) you need to keep above $5K and for index fund you need to have atleast $10K in account. I invested the money equally among naesx and vhgex Its been about 3 months now and I am unhappy with the performance of naesx. Vhgex is a more broader fund and I can live with its return. The bigger question is that I hear reports that the bull run is ending. After all it started in 2003 and can not go on for ever. Assuming that the bear is coming, I think putting money in a broader fund would be a better choice. I need to do more research before I make the final call, but I sure am tending towards it.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Too many accounts?

He Said

I think me and my better half are having too many investment account with little money in them. We got 2 Roth IRA accounts, 1 Roth 401K account, 1 ESPP account and 1 normal investment account. By next year we will have 2 401K accounts, 1 HSA account and 1 more normal account. Currently we deal with Vanguard (Roths IRA) and fidelity (Roth 401K, ESPP and normal account). I am thinking on starting an account with share builder too. I am not sure whether it is the right strategy to spread our little money across all these accounts. Only vanguard account seems to have the minimum restriction. Taking heed to the advice dont put all your eggs in one basket, i think we will have to live with these many accounts. The plan for the moment is to use automatic portfolio management except for 401K and normal investment account. For 1 roth IRA i decided to focus on symbol vhgex and for the other maybe total international stock index. roth 401 k would be managed using retirement plan year 2045 fund. My HSA account would most likely be automanaged. Comments anyone?

Monday, June 26, 2006

Health Savings account

My company offers very good health insurance packages including the HSA. I have decided to enroll in the scheme starting next year (yeah, take the risk). In short, HSA concept is to combine an affordable qualified High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) with a tax-favored health savings account (HSA). The reasons to join include

1. Company provides a contribution ($700/yr for individual)
2. i can make tax deductable contribution of $1200/yr
3. i dont have much health related problems so i think i can afford to take that risk
4. i intend to treat HSA as any other investment account and make the money grow for my retirement medical expenses (which is a long way to go)
5. I still get my free annual checkup, allowing me to check my health conditions every year and decide whether to continue with HSA or switch back to normal insurance.

I decided not to enroll my better half into my HSA account for two reasons

1. Her company provides very good medical insurance
2. i am not comfortable with the amount of risk invovled in putting both of us on HSA.

I will keep updating on how this plan works out!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Car maintenance Schedule

I have a second hand 1999 mazda protégé car which has done 85K. Here are the list of things I do to keep the car in good condition

1. I change oil every 3 months or 3,000 miles. I tend to be flexible on the date, but I don’t exceed the 3,000 mile limit
2. Once every two months or so, I check the engine coolant, power steering fluid, and washer fluid, and add if the level falls bellow full mark. I also check brake fluid, low level of brake fluid is an indicate that brake pads needs to be changed.
3. I take the car for emission inspection every year (required in Bellevue, WA)
4. I do wheel alignment only after the car blanks to the left or right once hands are taken of the steering wheel. i.e I know for sure the wheel alignment is out.
5. Air filter is changed on every 3rd or 4th oil changes (If I see that it is visibly dirty)
6. I look at the tire to see if they look properly inflated during every other gas refill.
7. The radiator coolant is changed every 20K miles or so @ jiffy lube
A shortcut is to take the car to jiffy lube for oil change, they do OK job with filling fluids and checking the tire pressure.

One of the things I didn’t do, is buy all four tires from discount store like costco or sams club. I know sams club offers free wheel balancing and wheel rotation every 15K miles. It’s a good deal.

Other recommended tips include
1. clean the radiator grill every 12,000 or so miles
2. park the car in shade. Helps to keep the paint gloss and lowers evaporation of fuel from gas tank
3. keep a jumper cable in the car, just incase you want jump startup the car
4. befriend a local car mechanic by taking the car to him for repair. This helps the mechanic to know the car and most likely he will recommend only repair that is required.

Driving Tips
1. I don’t drive the car with a/c on unless its hot. I like to drive with windows down and wind blowing into my face. This site ( says Driving without using the car's air conditioning increases fuel efficiency by 2.5 miles per gallon. But driving with windows down should reduce the fuel efficiency but who cares!!!
2. During winter with mild temperatures, Instead of using the heat, I use engine heat to warm the inside of car while driving. If the intake to set to outside air and temperature knob is turned hot, engine heat can be used to warm the inside. Some thing I found using necessity is the mother of invention principle when once in a while, my previous car blower would fail to work.
3. I accelerate slowly and use power brake (lower the gears) when ever I can.
4. I did not speed much. With mazda protégé you cant speed. But going above 60 is bad for gas mileage.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Cross country in $500

I had to do a cross country trip from Blacksburg, VA to Redmond, WA (yeah that company!). In all it took me four days (Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday) of driving with 12 hours for 3 days and 8 hours during the last day - 3000 miles in all. It was a pretty uneventful (Thank God for that!). Here are some pointers to cross country trip.

Preparation before the trip
The car
My car is a 80K done 1999 Mazda protégé. Before the trip, I took it to a local mechanic and have it inspected (I had state inspection due). Then opened hood and ensured that all the fluids - engine coolant, power steering fluids, brake fluids and washer fluids are full. At the stopover at my friends place, I changed oil at jiffylube (I change it every 3000 miles), where they checked the tire pressure also.

The person
I had a cold due to seasonal allergy, so went to doctor got pills for the trip. I also went to local Wal-Mart and brought a gallon of water, couple of packs of cookies, a can of peanuts and some cranberry juice. Incase I get stranded at least I got food to eat.

The trip
I planned the trip such that I take a day’s break in Fort Collins, CO. I borrowed my roommate road atlas and decided to do ~750 miles each day for 3 days and ~500 miles the last day. In all two stays in hotel (Columbus, MO and Bosie, ID) and a day at my friends place.

11 refills of gas totaling: $266
2 logging totaling: $168
7 eating totaling: $70
In all $504 to drive across the country. Not bad!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Opinion Counts

She Said

I have been a member of a national survey organization for over a year now or more like I have been taking online surveys on their website.Somebody told me about this website long time ago and I have been taking a few surveys when I get time.It is free to enroll and you get points for taking surveys.When you get 1000 points you can redeem $10.They also send you products to try out.I recently was sent a bottle of Easy Off BAM for my feedback.

Well it's easy enough to do and though takes time to get stuff ; it is something to do in your spare time and I don't complain when I get products for free.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Deal or No Deal ?

She Said

We have been looking for furniture for our new apartment for about a week now.We came across an offer on Craigslist for a living room/dining room set which included a dining table with 4 chairs,a 3 seater sofa,a sofa chair,2 glass end tables and a glass coffee table(below are the pictures)for $ 750.After we were done negotiating we settled for $ 650 with them delivering the furniture to our apartment(which was so great) for no extra charge and the lady threw an area rug in for free.The sofas come with a lifetime warranty and though it needs some cleaning he and I are very happy with the whole thing.

We wanted to know your opinions on it.Would you call it a deal or no deal?

Friday, May 19, 2006

HSBC Rate increase..

She Said

This came in my email

Your HSBCdirect Online Savings Account rate just increased to
4.65% APY* for new and existing deposits, effective May 18, 2006.

With HSBCdirect, there are no fees, no minimums, no risk - now at an even higher rate of 4.65% APY. That is more than 8x the national savings average.**

Good for me :)

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Dream Home Certificate

She said

He and I just opened a 60 Month Certificate from Digital Federal Credit Union (DCU).It needs a minimum starting deposit of $100 and the maximum amount is $25000.

Some of the highlights:

* The interest is variable currently 5.2% will be adjusted according to maximum current rate.
* You can keep adding to your deposit till you reach your goal amount which is at max $25000
*If you borrow against it for the downpayment toward the purchase of your new home there is no withdrawal penalty.

We are planning to buy a house in a couple of years(when prices are not as astronomical as they are now) and there is no time like now to start saving for it!

Let us know if any of you have come across similar schemes with other banks or financial institutions.

More details here

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Food posioning

Caused by: bad food

Symptoms: Nausea (basically anything eaten after the bad food) and stomach pain (frequent)
Duration: Usually the effects last 24 to 48 hours. The vomiting starts within 2 to 6 hours of eating the bad food and as time progresses, it becomes infrequent and diarrhea sets in (which stops after 48 hours).

Treatment: Fresh air, drinking ginger ale/Gatorade (to avoid dehydration), Wal-Dram II (Meclizine tablets, antiemetic) and crushed ginger mixed in water.

Lessons learned
Mistake 1: Despite feeling odd about the food, I ate it - Never will I eat something that tastes different.

Mistake 2: I took a lot of time before heeding to advice, thinking its just a simple stomach upset - Take advice at the earliest.

Also I decided to lower the alcohol intake. Infrequent high doses of alcohol must be bad for the stomach.

The story
I got poisoned after dining at a Chinese restaurant (Fort collins, CO). Although general tso chicken I ordered, looked and tasted different, I ate the whole thing. I even remarked to my friend’s that that was no general Tso that I know of!. After dinner we headed out to a bar and had three shots of vodka. Usually I get the buzz after three shots (my safe limit), but not this time. A bit perplexed, I went to bed and started throwing up around 5 in the morning. I assumed it must be the alcohol. Frankly I don’t like to be disturbed in sleep, so I went back to bed. Again at 7 i vomited. Now for some strange reason, I felt stupid that I drank three shots of vodka. So I drank around 1.5 liters of water to compensate for the alcohol. Promptly came the water. That made me conclude that it should not be the alcohol. The thing with alcohol is that you vomit only once and its done. I assumed that my stomach is upset for some strange reason and drank water mixed with ginger. Also I took some butter milk to compensate for the acidity, no effect. In Panic mode, I started listening to advice and concluded it was food poisoning. Went to the drug store and took 2 tablets of Wal-Dram II. By the time I visited the drug store the condition was near stable.


Tuesday, May 09, 2006

I just lost a bunch of money on my credit card :(

She said

I have commited the ultimate no-no in credit card history(well that might be a tad bit exaggerated) .The fact remains that I missed a payment on my credit(a measly 15 dollars) and now am slapped with a $35 late payment fee etc etc..The credit on the 0% apr card is so low I don't even know why I have it..I was hoping for them to increase my limit soon but now I guess I better just sit tight.

It's not the worst thing I just feel a little foolish..after all the reading i have done from pfblogs I should have known better.

Note to self:
1)If you rarely use a cc pay off everything on it and suspend it or something
2)Not all that is 0% apr is gold
3)Link your CC's using some software (MS Money) so you don't have to be so lost in this day and age !!!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Rebalancing Strategy for 2006

He said

Aronson said it's time for a little rebalancing. Get "back to 40% in domestic equities (last year's weights; add a few percentage points, especially to S&P 500). And much less in international, back down to 30% (from nearly 44%, the current weight after the strong performance in 2005). Spread it out equally among emerging markets (10%), Pacific (10%), and Europe (10%)."
The "international stocks' performance is too good to be true, or at least too good to continue," says Aronson. "Over the past three years the emerging markets index fund is up almost 38% annually, compounded. Pacific fund compounded at a 'mere' 26%. As the late Herb Stein said, if something is too good to go on forever, it won't."
Aronson reminds us that in his day job, he's "a bottom-up stock picker and benchmark hugger." Once the portfolio's domestic equities and fixed income are back to 40% and 30% respectively, "leave well enough alone."
So going into 2006, he has a new, bigger cash position. Cash is his "buffer, a hedge. Investors should be prepared to act when things look the gloomiest." And while he says he doesn't expect a crash, "there could be a one (rates spike up, emerging markets melt down, small-cap value loses lead to small-cap growth ...). If any of these categories crash, the cash should be deployed earlier than a year from now."
Aronson warns: "All this implies a 20% turnover, certainly far from buy-and-hold. But portfolio rebalancing is a sure-fire way to limit risk and improve return even though there will be capital-gains taxes involved. By definition, the best performing investments rise in influence in a portfolio. So when the inevitable reversion to the mean (fancy way of saying, what goes up comes down) occurs, the exposure is amplified, and the pain worse. Think March 10, 2000!"

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Business Lunch Etiquette

She Said

I was just reading an interesting (and as a woman in the business world), very useful article about the Do's and Don'ts of hosting a business lunch

Some of the Highlights

* Have an idea of what you want as the outcome of the meeting

* Dress Appropriately

* Stay Sober

*Keep a strict hands off poilcy (substitute a hug with a handshake)

*Mind your language!

The article goes into details.But I think it will prevent some of the awkwardness and confusion that sometimes comes with meeting clients over a meal.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

CNN way to park money

He Said She Said

CNN Money article lists four options on where to put your savings.
1. If you're just starting to save - Best choice: Online savings accounts. I got one at HSBC

2. If you have lots of idle cash - Best choice: Money-market funds. I dont think so. despite risks, i would say invest (stocks, real estate)

3.If you need your cash at a specific time - Best choice: Certificates of deposit. i got one with dcu. but i park my emergency fund as CD. Crazy huh? but trust me it works. I wont break the CD unless its a true emergency. Also DCU allows you to take loan against the CD for very little rate. The money in the savings account bank is always an motivation to spend.

4.If your low-risk savings are devoted to long-term goals - Best choice: Short-term bond funds. again i would say build a portfolio.

In the list they say about things not to do with cash, they say dont invest in bonds (TIPS, Ibonds, EE Bonds). I dont think so, i dont like EE bonds, but TIPS for roth IRA and Ibonds for parking unexpected windfall of money looks good.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Things I Learned Today

  • Men, Women, Money. I am sure i got ur attention to this CNN article
  • 50 Ways to Trim Your Budget - freemoneyfinance article
  • Save big on a tiny income - msn money article. Some interesting lines - Look at the Pottery Barn catalog, shop at Goodwill, Fly cheap. Renee recommends and, There is little that can't be cleaned with (a mix of) vinegar and baking soda.
  • Five cent nickel talks about IRA Contribution Limit Workaround using SEP. i need to look into details before jumping in.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

New words for 2006

She said (a humorous forward I got at work)

Essential vocabulary additions for the workplace (and elsewhere)!!!

1. BLAMESTORMING : Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.

2. SEAGULL MANAGER : A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.

3. ASSMOSIS : The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.

4. SALMON DAY : The experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to get screwed and die in the end.

5. CUBE FARM : An office filled with cubicles

6. PRAIRIE DOGGING : When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people's heads pop up over the walls to see what's going on.

7. MOUSE POTATO : The on-line, wired generation's answer to the couch potato.

8. SITCOMs : Single Income, Two Children, Oppressive Mortgage. What Yuppies get into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.

9. STRESS PUPPY : A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiny.

10. SWIPEOUT : An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.

11. XEROX SUBSIDY : Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one's workplace.

12. IRRITAINMENT : Entertainment and media spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. The J-Lo and Ben wedding (or not) was a prime example - Michael Jackson, another...

13. PERCUSSIVE MAINTENANCE : The fine art of whacking the crap out of an electronic device to get it to work again.

14. ADMINISPHERE : The rarefied organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were
designed to solve.

15. 404 : Someone who's clueless. From the World Wide Web error Message "404 Not Found", meaning that the requested site could not be located.

16. GENERICA : Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one is, such as fast food joints, strip malls, and subdivisions.

17. OHNOSECOND : That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake. (Like after hitting send on an e-mail by mistake)

18. WOOFS : Well-Off Older Folks.

19. CROP DUSTING : Surreptitiously passing gas while passing through a Cube Farm.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tips for the Newcomers to workforce

I like morning star articles. especially this one about the six things for new college grads. i am about to reenter real job in another 2 months. Always remember that the power of compound interest is remarkable. To quote A 22-year-old who invests $2,000 per year and earns a 5% annual return on that money will have approximately $226,000 when she reaches the age of 59. Were she to wait until 30 to begin saving, she'd have just $139,000 when she's 59. So save from the beginning.

Tip one does not apply to me, as i dont have any debts. Also i dont agree to the advice to have only one credit. If u are financial prudent, then you should have atleast 2 credit cards. i have close to six and i plan to increase it to eight. My credit card strategy is as follows.

  1. Chase Visa - The main card 0% APR till May 2007. i buy everything using this one and put an amount equivalent to the purchase amount into my HSBC account.

  2. Citi premier pass - used for purchasing airline tickets. I get 1 reward point for every 3 miles I fly

  3. Amazon chase visa - rarely used for purchase at amazon, took it for the $30 reward. Will close it in another two years

  4. Wachovia visa- very rarely used. First credit card, never going to close

  5. Sams club - for use at sams club. I have stopped going to sams club so I stopped using this card. will close it when i move to seattle and take costco membership.

  6. Hechts - not used more than thrice, took it to get 15% off while purchasing suit and other things. will close it in another two years time
i plan to take citi's drivers edge card and apply for a new credit card each year to take advantage of the 0% APR deal.

Tip 2 is important. i plan to max out the 401K and Roth IRA. Tip 3 does not apply to me, as i already have an emergency fund established. I am not sure about tip 5, with auto invest option. i might do it. Tip 6 is always true. It sure is a continuous education.

Monday, March 13, 2006

What's for lunch?

She said ( in a slightly paranoid undertone)

Seeing the growing numbers of Bird Flu and Mad Cow in Asia and now the US .I have been thinking of what to and what not to eat.

Meat and fowl are sick literally...

Fish is brain food or so they say except maybe canned tuna which with its mercury is more like brain frying food.

Vegetables have high pesticide percentages that are not water soluble.Fruits are now a result of genetic engineering and hormones.

Tap water has too much lead...

So that leaves me pondering over the question What's for lunch?

Suggestions anyone...

Friday, March 10, 2006

Things I Learned Today

  1. I agree to this article on Free Money Finance, espcially the comment that the statement rich get richer, the poor get poorer is wrong. If you are discplined and determined anyone can get rich. Ofcourse its very easy to sit and complain about the rich.

  2. Save on rental cars says pluggedinfinance. The strategy is using establish the highest rate you are willing to pay and entering a price about 10 and 20% below the sidestep rate in priceline and bank the savings!. As noted in the comments u may have to repeat the cycle couple of times. Thanks pluggedinfinance for the comments.

  3. An easy tool for figuring out the allocation. its very basic. one of these days i need to sit and find out the best tool for allocations

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Things I Learned Today

My Daily Rant

  1. The matter of Bed. choosing on what to sleep

  2. Expense rule of thumb after marriage and kids by rediff. Start off with an income that keeps you in comfort as a single person and add 50% extra for marriage, and another 25% for each child you have. Frankly i dont think mine will match this rule of thumb

  3. For mortgage payment, writing a check is better than online payment as per fatwallet. It seems mortgage companies screw up the payments and hence processed check is admissible in court.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Things I Learned Today

My short notes on things that are interesting

  1. Health is Wealth A site that lists the portions needed for the 5 a day rule. Vegetables and fruit

  2. A excellent review of three credit monitoring websites offered by the same company!!! by stopbuyingcrap. btw the credit score given by these websites are fake (approximation of the actual one). To see the actual one you need to go to myFICO. myFICO has a bunch of calculators that might of interest to you.

  3. myFICO default value for monthly expense is $2500. hmm interesting

  4. Found this interesting rule @ financial train wreck If you haven’t used it in 12 months, you probably won’t, so get rid of it. Either sell it or give it away. Exceptions: family keepsakes and some paper records

  5. This is a good site for magazine subscriptions. btw i subscribe to money, consumer report and get a lot of tech magazines for free. i plan to keep money and drop others.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Things I Learned Today

From today onwards, i will be posting a list of things i learn each day about investments and other related things. Although it might not be done on a daily basis this would be a great help in keeping tracks of things i need to remember. So here we go

  1. Tempting CD deal CD Deal. for $2500 locked up for 1 yr, get 4.80% (which is not bad) and a ipod shuffle (resale value of $50 or $60).

  2. Purchase postage stamps at discount warehouses stores such as Costco to save a few pennies. Purchasing from can result in 10% discount although you need to buy in bulk (in $50, $100, $200 lots). In most cases, you can't request a specific value stamp. Some dealers will simply state the total value of the stamps while others may tell your the general values of the stamps in the lot (for example, all stamps range in price from 5 cents to 20 cents). The stamps can be used to send any item through the postal system. Some may be older - even 50 years old, but all are still perfectly legal to use. (from Savingadvice)

  3. I modified How to build emergency funds (from YoungandBroke Blog and bankrate) article to create a roll over fund for unaccounted expenses. Note: I already have a emergency fund (3 to 4 months of salary) kept as CD
    • Paying your future self Start a roll over fund into which $100 is put every month.
    • Budget-clipping tips refinance mortgage, use public transportation, keep ur car (4 6 to 8 yrs), do energy check @ home, and When the 12 year old says, 'Where's my $10?' cut it back to $7
    • when you under budget, put the difference into the roll over fund

  4. Kids and Money (from AllThingsFinancial)

  5. Buying a home that you can afford: Calculate all your income and make sure that your housing expenses -- mortgage payment, homeowners insurance and property taxes -- don’t exceed 25% or 28%. (from MoneyCentral). Most people say that a mortgage in the ballpark of 3 times your salary is easily managable.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Getting a new job and being happy with it

She Said

I am in the final round of negotiations for a new job at a new company...or more like the same job for a new company and these are some of the reasons i ended up settling for this offer.

* They accomadated my requirement to relocate at the end of the year
* They offer a lot of valuable free training and certification which would be a real resume booster for future
* The salary is competitive not extraordinary, good not great but first 2 points were a higher priority
* They have decent benefits and a sizable % matching on my 401k

All together I think I am happy with the offer and am looking forward to joining soon.

Some tips for people out there looking to switch jobs

Update your resume, if you know you are going to be job hunting soon...revisit the technology you are working on ...polish your about latest advances...basically get a tune up...and most of all get an idea what the market is looking for and see how you can be what they want

Get in touch with your contacts ....I feel it is so much easier to get a job through people you know in your field than applying from a website but then again this is just my opinion.

Define your expectations and don't compromise on things that are your highest priority.

increasing traffic to blog

He said

Yep, i am trying out all ways to increase traffic to my site. More than anything the purpose of the blog was to hear comments from others about our thoughts on money and other related issues. so i have added the site to coupl eof search engines, to a list of blog directories (like LS Blogs) and also put up adsense banner (while we dont include the revenue with ads in our finanical calculations, we dont want to discount it either :). Let us know of your ideas on increasing traffic to the blog. Thanks

Stock Picking

He said

When it comes to stock market, i do feel like camel (as someone called me :). The fact that there is too much information and views on what stocks are good. Well just not stocks alone, mutual funds, options, etc. I have developed a fondness for Mutual funds (yeah they have limitations like expense ratio and higher entry barrier), but i think no-load index funds and retirement target funds are really good. My plan (about to start from this year mid) is to keep my 401k on retirement target fund, keep my Roth IRA and personal investments in Vanguard and Fidelity no-load mutual funds. I also intend to play in the stock market (US and indian) with small amounts of sum like $200 per month.

So then comes the issue of stock picking. i have decided to play it safe by watching a few stocks, the stocks i am watching include MSFT, Google (just for fun), AMGN and Mittal steel. in the end i might pick a few shares in steel and pharma industry. I am keeping track of steel, banking and airline industry in the indian market. I feel the indian market is getting pricey. I might pick a few shares in all these industries. I will detail the picks along with the reason when i conclude the transactions.

BTW the standard disclaimer. We (He said and she said) disclaim any liabilities whatsoever from your decisions based influenced by this site. Furthermore, if you use any information in this web site in any manner, you automatically consent to the following rules:
1. The information given in this site is under AS IS condition and represent the views of the person at the time when s/he wrote it.

2. There is an explicit understanding that by reading this blog, the reader consents that he or she wont impose any legal binding on the authors.

In short, you are free to use the information found in this blog the way you like, but you will never come back to us with a complaint or legal notice.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gifting Smart

She Said

Seeing that He is already taking over what I thought was 'our' blog (men!) and feeling much like the arab who let the camel in his tent and eventually had no place in it...I have decided to put my 2 pennies worth in as well.

Yesterday my roommate and I went gift shopping for our friends' bridal shower.We had an idea of what kind of gift we wanted to give her..something in the housewares section.The premium outlets we went to had a lot of choices ;too many that we went shop hopping all day...We went into Mikasa for what might have been the tenth time in the day and started looking again..that is when we saw a delightful platinum formal dining set for a price that was nearly 1/2 that of what the others of the same kind were.We asked the lady in the store what was wrong with it and why so cheap , she said the only reason was that the plate set was part of a discontinued line and so was priced to sell...So we ended up getting an exquisite 20 pc plate set which I know my friend would adore for a price which was exponentially lower than what it usually sold for...Good DEAL!

So all of you people looking for fine things whether for yourself or for your friends...keep your eye out for discontinued lines/items coming off displays and you are bound to get exceptional things for very agreeable prices!!

Open Close principle

He Said

I have been reading so many personal finance blogs ( and for some time now. Yet i did not have much interest in blogging about my financial status or even just blog. Then she came saying she was planning to start a blog, so i thought why not write down about finance also. That is the genesis behind this blog.

With the decision to blog on financial status made, the issue is to what extend to blog. Most finance blog detail their entire financial status. We have decided to take a minimalist approach instead (the Open close principle). There are couple of reasons for it like we have NDA status with our respective companies, or we dont bother to find the assets' value (ancestral property)

Anyway the blog will be open in terms of decisions made, investments done, goals set and will be closed in terms the actual assets we have, and our salaries. Lets hope that is the best way to proceed :)

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Born Free, taxed to death

He Said.

Yeah its that time of the year. i am already done with my taxes and mailed them on saturday. Its interesting to note that people are given more than 2 months to do their taxes and still on the deadline day the post office has long Queues. Hmm i guess procrastinating is something truly human. i do procrastinate on certain things, so i guess i should not pick on people and taxes too much.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Investment Principles

He Said

Investment Commandment
1. Even while throwing money into sea, count and throw.
2. Family is the most important wealth. Never forget that all these are for their welfare and safety.
3. Nothing is worse than being penny wise smart and pound wise foolish. Spend money when needed.
4. Teach the next generation on value of money and importance of saving, also teach them to give as they earn
5. Liquid money flows so turn them into solid investments (CDs, real estate).
6. Start investments early (early 20s) and aggressively (invest in high risk high return protfolio), then end with assest protection (as u age).
7. A penny saved from expenditure is better than a penny earned through income.
8. Just because you can afford things doesn't mean you should
9. Don’t invest in anything you don’t understand.
10. Avoid recurring costs to the extend possible.

Investment Rules
1. Continously evaluate the expenditure and trim expenses without too much comfort reduction
2. Live like college student till you hit 30.
3. Do free activities like visiting museum, fairs, park and spending time with family
4. Continous learning about investments
5. Buy things using Upromise and bondrewards
6. Subscribe to Kiplinger’s and Smart Money and begin a lifetime of learning about the world of investing and personal finance
7. The APY for all investment accounts (brokerage, kidsInvest, roth IRA and 401k) should be 11%.
8. Make the tax withholidings tuned such that you owe govt money during tax filing period (about $1k)
9. Keep copies of tax filings for atleast 3 years.