Archives for January 2005

“Good” Credit Card Debt – How-To Play the 0% APR Game, Part 2

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This post is old, please see my updated guide on
How To Make Money From 0% APR Balance Transfers

(This entry is continued from Part 1.)

3) Getting your money: Some banks such as MBNA, CitiBank, and Chase will allow you to either transfer your balance directly to a checking account or send you a check in the mail. The former is preferred since you’ll be losing potential interest while the check is in the mail and waits to clear.

Update: Citibank cards are by far the easiest to use to turn a balance transfer into cash, because you can request your balance transfer to be sent to you as a check (click for how)!
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Moving Issues & Free Internet at Kinko’s

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I don’t have internet. Moving really stinks. Everythings a mess, I don’t even have a dial tone let alone DSL, so not even a free AOL disc can help me.

Did you know that Kinko’s offers free internet at their stores, as long as you provide your own laptop? Good deal. However, printing costs $0.49/sheet for black & white. Not a good deal. I had to pop in for work, so at least I’m not paying for it. Gotta run!

Moving Issues & Free Internet at Kinko’s

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Did you know that Kinko’s offers free internet at their stores, as long as you provide your own laptop? Good deal. However, printing costs $0.49/sheet for black & white. Not a good deal. I had to pop in for work, so at least I’m not paying for it. Gotta run!

“Good” Credit Card Debt – How-To Play the 0% APR Game, Part 1

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

This post is old, please see my updated guide on
How To Make Money From 0% APR Balance Transfers

I have credit card debt. A lot of it, actually – over $23,000 of it right now. But I’m not worried, because a) I have the cash to pay it off and b) It’s in no fee 0% APR balance transfers, so my debt is not growing. In fact, I am making money off of it because I am storing my money in an interest bearing account.

Before I go any further, I need to write this:

Do NOT do this without first reading and understanding all of the conditions of the credit card agreement and all of the potential pitfalls. I will try my best to describe them, but I may not remember them all or correctly convey their importance. Getting in debt is very easy and getting out is not. Credit cards lend you cheap money because they are counting on you to spend it.

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I Hate Moving. (And I don’t like American Idol either)

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

I hate packing, I have lifting heavy objects, I hate unpacking, I hate paying enormous amounts of money to moving companies, and trying avoid all the many, many, scams out there. My wife decided that our trendy loft with 20 ft. ceilings and french doors is no longer working out since it’s is basically one big room with no privacy, and it doesn’t allow pets. So, we’re moving to a charming (a.k.a. old and rickety) 2 bedroom cottage (a.k.a. small house) where I can have my own filthy room and the future dog can have his/her own fenced yard. Ah well.

This meant that we had to break our lease, losing our $1000 deposit. Ouch. And we are paying double rent for two weeks, in order to move things over gradually to the new place and reserve the house. So that will affect some of our goals, but we did sell our washer and dryer since the new place includes it, so that’s good.

About Me

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

(This page has moved here.)

Disclaimers and Legal Stuff

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

As I start looking into individual stock trading techniques, I guess I need to join the stock blogger crowd and put a disclaimer up on my website:

The information provided on this site is not financial advice and I am not a financial professional. This is not a recommendation to buy, sell, or trade securities. Trading securities can lose you a whole lot of money, and fast. You probably know more about stocks than me. I try to be accurate, but sometimes fail miserably. I can buy, sell, or hold any positions mentioned on this website at anytime.

While I would be flattered if someone were to actually take my ramblings seriously and buy a stock from my writings, I’m deathly scared of lawyers.

Book Review: Investing Essentials (Get a copy for free!)

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

I just got this in the mail recently and finally got a chance to read through it. It’s titled “Investing Essentials”, by Kenneth Morris and Virginia Morris. It’s actually barely a book, more like a pamphlet (20 pages long including glossary). It looks like a condensed version of Wall Street Journal Guide to Understanding Money and Investing, by the same authors.

From the cover it is:

“An easy-to-understand, easy-to-use primer that helps to take the mystery out of mutual funds, stocks, diversification, risk/return, liquidity, and tracking performance.”

I’d say that pretty much sums it up. If you are already familiar with the basics, this won’t be of much interest. It would probably be great for the beginning investor or a teenager interested in the markets. Either way, it’s free from Fidelity, just click here and fill out the form. No purchase or account with Fidelity required. Give it as a gift? I’m not sure when I filled it out so I can’t say how fast it comes, but it does come.

iPod Shuffle Mania – Another Opportunity Lost

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Every Apple announces a new product, the capitalist in me says “run to the Apple store tomorrow. Buy as many as you can carry, and re-sell them on eBay. With the profit, keep one for yourself basically free”. Like this guy who bought ten of ’em (not the blogger, the guy in the picture)! And when I was in college I very might well have does that. But now as a working stiff I just can’t spend 3 hours in line to buy toys. I do have an silver Apple iPod Mini that I got for Christmas, which is awesome.

Apple’s new iPod shuffle (retail $99) now has a 2-4 week wait time, and the average going price on eBay is $140. That’s a swift 40% profit, even with the fees since shipping is usually about $10 and costs $4.

If I bought 10 iPods x $40 = $400. If the line was 4 hours long, that’s still $100/hour, which is definitely more than I make. Still, I’d have to take time off work, and I value vacation time at more than $100/hour! Now if I bought 100

Book Review: Rich Dad, Poor Dad

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

richdadIt only took me two days to read Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki & Sharon Lechter, as it is relatively short and an easy read. And Kiyosaki likes to say things over and over… and over. This supposedly non-fiction book deals with the conflicting teachings of his “Poor Dad”, his real educated paycheck-to-paycheck father, and his “Rich Dad”, a middle-school drop-out who is a millionaire. There are two basic themes that I got out of the book, after wading through the hokey stories:

1) People need to learn “financial literacy” more than book learning taught at school. I can agree that money matters are not taught in school nearly enough, but I’m certainly glad I went to ninth grade.

2) You should buy assets, not liabilities. Assets, such as real estate (especially real estate), stocks, and bonds, make you money. Liabilities, such as your house, car, gadgets, take away your money. This is probably the one thing to get out of this book, perhaps minus the real estate focus.

He includes very many vague stories about buying real estate properties for cheap with little or no money down and flipping them for great profits. Or investing in start-ups with great results. Many of these stories have been investigated with little proof found to support them. Overall, I see the book is more of an inspirational book on entrepreneurialism (is that a word?). Basically, try to think outside the box, and invest your money in something that grow instead of letting it sit in a bank account or spending it on that nice car. He just makes it sound way too easy to become a millionaire, just like any infomercial you see at 2am in the morning. Also, the book plugs expensive ‘get-rich’ seminars and his Cashflow game way too much.

Still, if the book gets your off your ass and thinking about making yourself some money, it’ll be worth the ten bucks and two days of reading during football commercials.

My Meager Stock Portfolio: Much Room for Improvement

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

Here are the contents of my current E*Trade Brokerage taxable account:

20 shares of Microsoft (MSFT) bought at $25.5
35 shares of Intel (INTC) bought at $14
12 shares of Pfizer (PFE) bought at $40
11 shares of Anheuser-Busch (BUD) bought at $43.5
Rest in cash

Overall, my portfolio is about 3-4 years old and is up a grand total of +2.63% in share price and neglecting dividends. Pretty crummy, yes. This portfolio was bought with little concern over P/E ratio, PEG, Alpha, Beta, or much else but the fact that I: use a laptop powered by an Intel Pentium processor using Microsoft Windows, while taking a drug by Pfizer and drinking Budweiser on weekends. Now you see why I need mutual funds?
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Guide to Tax Efficient Mutual Fund Placement

“The editorial content on this page is not provided by any of the companies mentioned, and has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. Opinions expressed here are author's alone.”

A comment in my last post reminded me that one of the best ways to maximize your investment return is to avoid as much tax (legally) as possible. One way to do this is to divide your mutual funds or other investments in the most ideal place in your taxable and tax-deferred (401k, IRA, 403b, etc.) accounts. Of course, you want to keep as much of everything in tax-deferred accounts as possible, but often that is not possible. So what investments are the most tax-friendly? Below is a list compiled by Taylor Larimore on the Diehards.org forums, and it agrees pretty much with what I’ve read in books such as the Four Pillars of Investing:
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