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Monday, March 31, 2008

Surviving Your Review

I received my first annual review for my job at the end of last week. It was probably the most stressful lead up to one that I have had. It is a completely new position for the company, new boss for me AND fairly nebulous goals outside of the ones that I set for the sales portion of my job.

It actually went quite well, and even the slightly critical feedback was couched as a growth scenario.

It started out with me being told that my boss is a "very hard grader" so don't be surprised by several people. After hearing that multiple times I started thinking...wow, this must be a massacre coming. I had visions all of poor grades, except for safety, which I still don't understand why it is on our review from for Directors and VPs.

Our Grading system is this: 1-5 Point scale with 5 being top. 3 means you are doing everything asked of you, 4 means you routinely go above-beyond, 5 is near perfection. On the other side a 2 means you need improvement and a 1 means you are a moron :)

My review was a solid 4+. Only one 3, mostly 4's and three 5's. By the time we got to the accomplishment section I was feeling pretty good. I had my list of accomplishments with me, even though I had submitted them before. When he had 5 of my key 7 I brought up the others, which were added to the report!

After the final comes the raise part...I knew that even though there was a 3% raise pool, it was very tough to get more then that as a Director. Many friends had been told "That's why you have an MBO; Go earn more."

But I got 4%...Not gonna shake up the world, but it means in April my Debt Snowball can grow and I can chop down those debts faster.

For all of the stress I survived because I was prepared:

  • Get accomplishments to Boss before they write reviews
  • Clearly state what you want. In my case the end paragraph of my self review clearly laid out why I deserved a raise outside the norm.
  • Bring all of the same material to your review
  • Don't be afraid to accept constructive criticism; it will only make you better.
  • Don't be afraid to defend yourself either!

Best of luck on your next review. Get what is yours!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Personal Finance Week That Was Is Again

Time to look at those more deserving...The best of the week.

This was an incredibly busy week that led to long hours and a multitude of Issues and Opportunities. Retailers are pretty nervous (i know we are) that store traffic is slow, an early Easter may save 1st quarter for some, but it is to be seen the impact of the stimulus checks and seeing if the cash registers ring or we all put the money under our collective beds.

March is going out like a Lion!

The following Bloggers are always very inspirational to me, in all different ways.

Best of the Week:

  • Fiscal Musings: A great piece about selling his first rental property he owned and the lessons learned. My Financial Youth!
  • Simplicity in Kansas: An amazing journey for me watching how and what someone can accomplish with their income if they decide to live life well within means. I don't even want to print the number of achieved savings, but a click-thru will blow you away! My financial Brain!
  • Paradigm Shifted: If Kansas is my brain, then sometimes deepali can act as my soul. Great perspective. My Financial Soul
  • Iowa Hippie Chick: Super piece on recycling you books and videos for cash! My Financial Heart!
  • Mrs Micah: Heartfelt Post about a tough week, burnout and pulling yourself up y the boot straps! She is my Financial backbone!

My Most Read Post of the Week:

That is it from rain-ville!

See ya Monday!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Better, Stronger, Faster...

OK I have to give up...For the last two weeks I have done everything I could (within financial reason) to fix my data that was lost with the computer crash. I saved most everything except...my Microsoft Money File...

I have a back up of mid-January, and I had been doing the autoback up, but to the desk top...doh!

So I have to rebuild nearly three months worth of data...Luckily have have been doing double entry with the checks so all written checks are backed up...with paper (which never crashes BTW).

So this weekend I have make like Dr. Rudy and take something broken and mangled beyond recognition and rebuild it: Better Stronger, Faster.

Goofy segway, but The Six Million Dollar Man was a favorite show growing up. Had all of the toys including Maskatron! What's the real Colonel (Austin NOT Sanders) have to do with Personal Finance?...We'll: It is at least a great way to examine inflation. I don't think the Government can buy a toilet seat for under $6M now :)

The other lesson is that no matter how mangled, you can rebuild it...it just take a plan...That my weekend :(

Friday, March 28, 2008

New Home Sales Froze Over In February

It is getting tougher and tougher to say that the worst has come in the housing market as every time we do...another part of the floor gives out. But there are signs of a very light thaw starting.

In February, new home sales were down 29.8% year over year. While this is better then expected, home sales still hit a 13-year low as no one wants to buy while things continue to slide. Home inventory is now at a 9.8 month supply and while the median price tick up a little month over month it is still down 2.7% vs last year.

Here in our little mecca in the woods the home values have been hit hard..of course that is directly proportional to the crazy rise in values here for the last 6-years as well. Frankly in you bought 5+ years ago here, you are in good shape even with the slide. But if you just moved back a year ago like I did you are down.

On the upside, open lots in our neighborhood (its about 2-years old) are now all sold out and a bunch of houses are being built. It feel a bit like Field of Dreams as I think the are trying to build their way out of this mess. That being said the other house we looked at in our neighborhood when we bought this one is still on the market 15 months later.

Things are tough all over brother!

How's your area doing?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Marathon Wall

I have said in this blog over and over again, "Personal Finance is Marathon not a Sprint." But like a marathon often even the best runner hits a wall.

The wall is where you just tire out. For others it is a loss of concentration. And even others describe it as a system breakdown.

Well...I have hit the wall. I am pretty sure it came from a series of Ninja Bills, that, as they do, jumped out of nowhere for their attack. The first was my computer going down, the second was prepping for my presentation, a bonus issue, a late review and finally the last one was just time...or the lack thereof.

It isn't like I have gone off the rails and started charging things, but I am just tired of thinking about my debt all of the time...it really is at times disheartening. It is a long road.

I know what I have to do...I have to get the train back on the rails and then get it moving. Get back on the horse. This weekend, when I have 10-mins...and not at 1am in the morning! I am gonna get caught up and back on track. I look at my sheet and we have accomplished a lot in the last 120 days that it would be a really shame to turf it.

How about you? Hit a wall in your quest? Did you go through it, around it, or are you there right now as well.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Personal Finance QuickTake: To Hell with Homeowner's

Treasury Secretary Paulson said today the housing prices should be allowed to continue to fall in order to allow markets to stabilize and allow buyers to come back into the market.

In other words...That $1.2 Trillion worth of Home Owner equity at stake in the crisis should evaporate. That $1.2T is from a seperate report looking at the write-offs that may happen in regards to loans. It doesn't take into account the lower values of homes that people will hold onto. Regardless $1.2 Trillion equals $4800 for every man women and child in the US, or $24,0000 for my family alone.

The problem with that statement is that it does forget families, which is whose skin this is peeled from. Imagine...they believe the sending my family $2100 is going to be a big stimulus to the economy...what do you think asking me to pay back that $24,000 is gonna do to the economy?

Unless a stabilization plan is put into place, people en masse are going to walk away from their homes. It is already happening. Then the next ripple is to those like me that hold our home and make our payments is that the value further erodes.

Hey...it is my debt, I signed for it. But if you are the government, make sure to see who your are flipping off before you raise the bird!

My Bonus Saga Continues...

So my bonus saga continues. Actually this happened a few days a go and I have been too upset to even write about it.

During my business trip my Boss called my to say that he was going to hand out bonus checks that day and people were going to be upset as since they were all tied to the overall company OI (Operating Income). Tough year, no money. Mine was tied to this as well buy with a slight twist.

I also manage the ad sales portion of our business. You know when you get a magazine or catalog a page says "Advertisement" or "Advertorial?" Yep that stuff. We had a great year with that part of the business and over achieved plan by more then 10%. This would meant that I should have still earned 25% of my bonus + 10% more of that money for aver achieving.

Anyway, he is telling me that I need to not be too happy acting around the others as it would put salt in their wounds...I know this as I have managed people for years, but great, thanks for the heads-up.

About an hour later he calls to tells me that i did NOT make that number, in fact it was well under plan...HUH???

I have my tracking on this and I always know my numbers to the penny...Finance was just wrong. I again give my Boss the numbers and he insists we will get it fixed. I send him the spreadsheet for him to show we made it...comfortably.

Well our crack finance department wrote off over $1 Million worth of advertising! As they say the paperwork wasn't filled out right! I had a size 17 cow...

This is a year later, if there was an issue you would think before writing the amount off, they would...I don't know...check with someone? First my Guys ,so they could fix it, or me, so I could make it happen, or my Boss, the EVP of the company?

Nope the payroll clerk and the Account Receivable person made the call to write it off.

So now my team has to go back after every sale and collect for them...

The real moral of the story is...always know your numbers better that you need to. This is true for your job, budget, bank account etc.. Mistakes can be made and if you know them backwards and forwards you will be able to find out quickly and hopefully remedy the situation! Keep the personal in personal Finance!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Personal Finance QuickTake: Insolvant Government Programs

In a new report and interview Treasury Secretary Paulson again rang the bell the both Medicare and Social Security are quickly coming to riding off the rails.

Basically Medicare will begin to spend more money then it takes in this year! Reserves will be 100% depleted, completely spent by 2019. Just 11 short years from now.

Social Security will begin to spend more then it takes in by 2017 and by completely out of funds by 2041, as 78 million baby boomers are knee deep into retirement. Given that for many Social Security is there only retirement funds it could get very bleak.

But the Government won't just turn off the spigot on those dates. Your Social Security checks will still come and a couple of things will happen:

  • We will all pay more...a lot more - Expect much higher taxes, and new ones as well. Must feed the Monster.
  • The retirement age will have to increase - the program was designed to be right at the end of your life cycle, not for 30+ years of withdrawals. Expect it to go to 70, then 75, maybe even 80.
  • Benefits (at least in real dollars) may have to be cut - It will be very tempting for Congress to under find and inflation increase as they will not have the money. They will be...
  • Borrowing the money - The government won't cut off you or your grand kids. They will though have to use more and more of the Federal budget for these programs.
  • Insolvency - Eventually if nothing is done, you flat run out of money. Or course before this the economy will be wrecked, unemployment will skyrocket, and inflation rampant.

If this isn't solved, the future of our country is at stake, period.

At least the country as we know it. Rampant inflation and class struggle happened less than 100 years ago and led to the rise of Communism and National Socialism.

Whoever you vote for, hold your Representatives feet to the fire on this, the feet you save may be your own!

The $200,000 Baby

After the $22,000 Cat I guess it was inevitable...a $200,000 baby. Except this is not some baby that you design at an old Eastern European lab sneaking in past the US State Department, this is ANY kid born in 2007.

Apparently the average cost of raising a child has risen over the $200,000 level for the first time. This money stops at 18, no college, wedding and endowments beyond. Yep, just $200 grand hit to your personal finances to get this little guy through High School.

As a parent of three it is amazing the costs, some hidden and some blatant in raising a kid. Beyond the obvious food and clothes, think about housing. Most of us wouldn't get a 3+ bedroom house with no kids. Unless you trade over for an expensive loft that is a significant amount.

Don't forget about activities either. Summer Camp? It can be thousands of dollars and they might still come home early. Add in sports, Ballet (which I still say is French for Expensive), other hobbies, holidays, etc. and you can see how that the number racks up.

So am I saying don't have kids?...no way. If my three will cost $600k then it will be worth it. The are great people and I am proud to have them around...not to mention the caring for the elderly (me one day!) is probably more expensive and harder on your budget then raising kids...so it is an investment :) .

Monday, March 24, 2008

When Not to Give Personal Finance Advice

Well...Mom is mad at me! Frankly a Holiday wouldn't be a holiday without it. It is really a case of me not keeping my mouth shut. I know better, but I apparently have the mouth control of a 15-year old at times.

Mom is going through a pretty nasty work period that finally came to an end with her employer terminating her when she found out she had severe Carpal-Tunnel issues with both arms. Instead of even telling her that there was an option for long-term disability, they terminated her...after 14.5 years. She was also having a difficult time with a lady who is the de facto second in command...but #1 in raw evilness. This health issue was just an excuse to off her. Mom knows it, they know it...heck her dogs know it. Well it looks like there is a good chance they are going to settle for a decent amount. Not live off of it forever sort of money, but a good couple of years money.

Money was already tough. Mom likes to spend and believes if they have credit, they have money...Now you know how I learned my awesome money management skills. After earlier saying how it was tough right now (and yes we did strongly offer, BTW before I get the hate mail) she said at dinner that if they get the settlement they are going on another cruise...WHAT?

I said..."Why don't you pay off your Credit Cards and save the rest so you don't end up eating cat food!" (Silence - With Eye Daggers)

Not knowing when to stop..."You guys really need to get your expenses under control...I am happy to help" (Silence - With Double Death Eye Daggers...)

"We'll be fine" (Ice forms over all nearby lakes and streams)

See the point was, not that the message was bad...just the timing. With all of this being raw it wasn't the time. Later and alone would have been better and not as embarrassing to her. it is all pride on her side, but I get it, I got it before I said it. If you want to help you have to know when...and when not to.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Best of the Week that Was!

Happy Easter!

Traveling put a real hamper on my posting this week, but it was still a pretty interesting week. This was a really interesting finance week with the Fed cutting a full point over the week, Bear Stearns going under and Economists trying to get a feel fro where the bottom is gonna be. Add to that stimulus checks getting ready to be sent out, an Early Easter and we have the makings of a wild March!

On to the Best of the Week:

  • My Open Wallet - Madame X is always a great read, but this week she gave us a peak inside her 401K. Great read as she, like most of us is very down at the moment. SOme great advice from her readers.
  • Mrs Micah - A fun article about a recent bout with Stuffitis...Been battling it myself as my zeal is wanning too!
  • BankerGirl - A neat post on changing jobs and what you find out when you do! Review time at our place so it is interesting.
  • Fiscal Musings - For all of you March Madness Fans, Fiscal did a great post tying finacila ideas to sports!
  • Paid it Down - Sharon posted a fun collection of Eater Themed Cartoons...Worth the quick look!

Most Read Post of the Week:

That all for me...Rest of the day hanging with Family and finishing my staff reviews (urgh...).

See ya Monday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Personal Finance QuickTake: Financial Market Mess

Leading Economists are saying the we are not only in a recession now, but probably a severe one. Most had earlier believed that this would worst case be like 2001. A drop an economic time that felt like a recession, the a nice bounce back once the economy shock off the doldrums.

Now with Bear Stearns and continued market turmoil they are convinced that this is not going to be swept under the rug quite so quickly this time.

From the report:

No less an authority than former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan wrote this week that "the current financial crisis in the U.S. is likely to be judged as the most wrenching" since the end of World War II.

Other noted economists are also sounding alarms. Harvard professor Martin Feldstein, the former head of the National Bureau of Economic Research, said recently he believes the country is now in a recession and it could be a severe one.
What got people's attention was how quickly Bear Stearns, the nation's fifth largest investment bank, could go from a stock market value of about $3.5 billion when the market closed on March 14 to being sold at the bargain-basement price of about $236 million two days later.

"We can't afford to stagger from one day to the next without knowing what large financial institution might be the next to go down the tubes because of a lack of liquidity. That is way too dangerous a game," said Lyle Gramley, a former Fed board member who is now an economist with the Stanford Financial Group. "It is possible that we could be entering the worst recession of the post World War II period. The threat is certainly there."

I was just looking late this afternoon, even with Fed Rates at 2%, 30-year Jumbo loans are still at 7%+! This makes it tough to refinance in a time where at least that market should be moving.

Some have said for awhile that 740 is the new FICO-08 720. In other words, even those that can now make there payments and would like to get in a more tradition loan structure can't due to tightening at the banks. There is a fine line between a small night-night drink and a fire house in your mouth. They have just well over tightened. You can't blame them given that the Bear went under in less than 2 weeks!

One of the rallying cries had been that rates will reset on those with ARM tied loans and they needed to move, but given that those rates are dropping is only those that are trying to do the right thing are getting punished.

It reminds me of the old joke about a group of folk on a plane and the Captain comes on the intercom and says, I have good news and I have bad news." The bad news is...we are hopelessly helplessly lost...but the good thing is with this tail wind we are way ahead of schedule!"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Finally Back! - Be Prepared!

Yeah! I am home! And I learned a bit of something about being prepared!

It was supposed to be a quick 3-day trip. You know, Carry -On Luggage only. In and out! Didn't work out that way days kept being added while I was out and I ended up being on the road all week.

It is really tough keeping up on a blog while traveling so I started to try and write ahead, but then the trip kept getting extended...vicious circle!

While I was out on a trip to our subsidiary, I was sent to corperate in order to make a presentation to our CEO on a new program I started...one on one (plus my Boss in attendance) for a 1.5 hour meeting. It is pretty rare to get 30 minutes of his time much less over an hour so it was great that he thought enough of the program to block out the time.

Here are the couple great lessons from the trip:

  • Winner's Want the Ball - If you have a chance to present or show off an accomplishment, take advantage of it. I had the call where my Boss could have pitched it and I could have come home. No one would have thought the worse for it. But I wanted my face associated with the program. If the the program fails it is my fault, but if it works it is my credit. Risk=Reward
  • Know your Stuff - 1.5 hour is a nice way to say grilling about each point and had I thought through this and that. He brought up great angles I hadn't considered, but I could answer 99% of his questions quickly. I studied and knew my material
  • Prepare - I went over my presentation...oh...47,000 times :) And guess what, 5-minutes before the meeting my Boss changed the order of the presentation to better match how the CEO liked to review programs. This was great as he knew the audience, but since we didn't have time to discuss it, I had to flip the page to see what was next! But...I knew the material well enough that I could roll with it and it came off better!


I have lots of follow-up to do, but we got great comments from everyone, and the potential of expanding the program faster! On top of it, as a bit of a surprise we got tickets for the NCAA tournament and saw a game last night (UCLA and MSVU)!

Take the risk...you're worth it!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Personal Finance QuickTake: Even Gold Gets Less...Golden

Sure your 401k is down, stocks are on a roller coaster, savings rates are getting whacked, but at least you will always have gold right?

That yellow metal has been on a roll as the dollar tanks. Not a big shock as it has always been a hedge against currency movement.

However, Gold has been in a bit of too much of a tear. Gold recently busted the $1000 per ounce record level, not seen adjusted highs since the early 1980's. But gold fell nearly $100 an ounce back to the $950 level. The real question is there even support there as many investors feel gold could correct back to the $850 sort of level.

As this increase has been 100% investor driven, and gold is priced in dollars world round, it is easy to see why some are taking the money and running. After a housing bubble an Internet bubble and an Ice cream bubble (OK I made that up) investors want to lock in profits...on something.

From the Report:

With lower mortgage resets, the upcoming elections - which tend to boost the dollar - and the coming seasonal lull for gold, Nadler sees gold slipping to around $650 to $750 in the summer.
"That represents a good equilibrium level for gold, as jewelers will be able to sell gold again," he said. Still, some analysts think Wednesday's selloff is largely a hiccup - a temporary reaction by speculative buyers to changes in the economic climate, which can dramatically impact on the price of gold.

"When you are operating in a heavily overbought market, corrections like the one we're seeing today are very easy to have," said Nicoals Kavalis, a senior analyst at precious metals consultancy GFMS.

So is the dollar finally on track? With all of these rate cuts that would be amazing, but perhaps America's Housing induced cold has been caught by our friends over the pond.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

$22,000 Cat!

Meet Timmy, the $22,000 Cat! OK, his name isn't Timmy, at least I don't know if it is Timmy. But if I bought a $22,000 Cat that's what I would call him...

Actually, that is a pretty boring name for a Cat that costs more then my last car. Heck I couldn't even ride Timmy to work. I think he is too small. Actually by pound he is REALLY expensive. You would think for $22,000 that he would grow big long teeth like the cats in 10,000BC and you could ride him.

Wait got it...I shall name him Lord Kitty von Timmy...that's better....

OK...what the heck am I talking about. Apparently a special cat breeder has come up with a special hybrid Cat that is so special that you can get it (if you are lucky) for the bargain price of $22,000. Yes I have typed that about 45 times now in this post as I still can't believe it.

This is exactly why some people Hate America. People around the world work for a dollar a day, and we have designer cats.

Then I started thinking...what are my $22,000 cats? My "must have" Broad band Internet? My "saw-sharpening" Golf? Whining that I didn't get upgraded on my recent flight?

Point is we are lucky to live in a country where our toughest decision is what to eat for lunch rather than IF we eat today.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Personal Finance QuickTake: Uncle Ben's Nice

Uncle Ben's Nice to the market with a 3/4 point reduction in the Federal Rate, down to 2.25%.

This is the sixth cut in the Fed Rate and now at 2.25% reaches a low from 2004.

From the report:

However, there has been opposition inside the Fed to the aggressive moves. The latest rate cut came on an 8-2 vote with two members of the Federal Open Market Committee dissenting. Both Richard Fisher, president of the Dallas regional Fed bank, and Charles Plosser, president of the Philadelphia regional Fed bank, voted against the rate cut, arguing they would have preferred less aggressive action.

In explaining its actions, the Fed said that it was having to navigate a difficult policy environment that included sluggish economic activity and rising inflation pressures. The Fed statement said that "the outlook for economic activity has weakened further" but that "inflation has been elevated" with some signs that expectations of future inflation pressures are rising, a dangerous sign for the Fed.

But the Fed signaled that it stood ready to cut rates further if necessary, saying that "downside risks to growth remain." Bernanke and other Fed officials have said in recent comments that they view the threat of economic weakness as a bigger risk at the moment than inflation given the risks to financial markets.

"Financial markets remain under considerable stress and the tightening of credit conditions and the deepening of the housing contraction are likely to weigh on economic growth over the next few quarters," the Fed said in its statement.

Seems like some of the Fed Governors are getting nervous about the affect on inflation and feeling that the action is getting a bit aggressive, especially since the Stimulus checks are still 6-8 weeks away.

What...Me Worry?

(Photo from AP)

Personal Finance QuickTake: Big Cut Tuesday

Big cut Tuesday? The pressure is mounting. How aggressive? Caught between a rock and a hard place.
They have already cut rates this week on Sunday but are expected to cut cut rates Tuesday, perhaps even up to a point.
From the report:
With the quick collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns, fears are mounting about whether other financial companies may fall. Many believe the country has already sunk into recession and all the problems — if not contained — will deepen and prolong the pain.

"The Fed is on high alert — something you don't see but once every quarter century; maybe, in this case, since the Great Depression. This is a very unusual period," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Economy.com.
That's because the Fed is having to fight multiple battles at the same time: a housing collapse, a severe credit crunch and Wall Street turmoil that threatens the stability of the entire U.S. financial system. All those problems feed on each other, creating a vicious cycle that can be hard for the Fed and other Washington policymakers to break. The weight of those troubles is like a millstone on the ailing economy.

"Now the issue is fighting the deeper recession," said Brian Bethune, economist at Global Insight. "It has kind of moved to another level. The fires are spreading," he said.

To limit the damage, Bernanke and his colleagues may ratchet down a key interest rate, now at 3 percent, by as much as a full percentage point, to 2 percent, which would put that rate at the lowest it has been since late 2004. Because that rate affects a wide range of rates charged to millions of consumer and businesses, it is the Fed's most potent tool for reviving economic activity.
I don't know if it is the dawning of a depression, but it seems that the Government, nor many others have a feel how deep the rabbit hole goes.
The real concern is to over-correct or to blow-out inflation. But if this is the beginning of the issue and not the beginning of the end, we are using a bunch of our ammunition right away. The question is that would be be running this fast if it wasn't an election year?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Personal Finance QuickTake: RIP Bear Sterns

According to a report from AP, Four Days after saying the company was OK, Bear Stearns will sell out to JPMorgan-Chase for the bargain price of $2 per share, or $236 Million.

This is a stunning reversal for Bear Stearns, that will at least save them from bankruptcy, as the Mortgage Liquidity crisis gets its first well-known victim.

The Fed jumped in already and not only approved the buyout, but also guaranteed $30 Billion of Bear's assets, essentially making the buyout risk free for JPMorgan. JPMorgan Chase & Co. said it will guarantee all business — such as trading and investment banking — until Bear Stearns' shareholders approve the deal, which is expected to be completed during the second quarter. The acquisition includes Bear Stearns' midtown Manhattan headquarters.

JPMorgan's acquisition of Bear Stearns represents roughly 1 percent of what the investment bank was worth just 16 days ago. It marked a 93.3 percent discount to Bear Stearns' market capitalization as of Friday, and roughly a 98.8 percent discount to its book value as of Feb. 29

No word on Bear Stearns 14,000 employees or if the brand that survived the Great Depression and World War II would continue. They were considered to be the most leveraged major bank out there and based on the last weeks news, basically went into a death spiral.

At almost the same time as the deal for control of Bear Stearns was announced, the Federal Reserve said it approved a cut in its lending rate to banks to 3.25 percent from 3.50 percent and created another lending facility for big investment banks. The central bank's official meeting is on Tuesday. Before the emergency move to lower the discount rate, which is the rate at which banks lend each other money, the Fed was widely expected to again cut its headline rate by as much as a full point to 2 percent.

This doesn't feel like the end of this. Maybe the beginning of the end, but not beginning.

Career Key: Frustration vs Reality

Ever have that, "If they don't see my value I should leave!" feeling? One of the toughest times in a career or job is when expectation level doesn't remotely meet reality. These, to paraphrase, "are the the times that try men's careers!"

I am there now.

It is coming up on bonus payout time, I know what my payout could have been. We revamped many of the programs under my direction this year leading to over $1M in increases. I also laid the groundwork for new programs now launching that will generate $6-10MM per year...for a long time.

Based on all criteria I had a pretty good year...too bad it is for naught.

At a staff meeting this week we were told the bitter truth. That since the company had a poor year, (due to operational issues, not sales) bonuses would be small, or non-existent. And it would be based on the discretion of Executive management on the amount. Frankly, based on that I really don't know if I will get a bonus! But if I do it will probably 10% of what it could have been. Given that 20%+ of my pay is bonus, that hurts. Not eating moldy bread tragic, just a major bummer.

I am actually not surprised as the company, which in all other facets is pretty great BTW, puts lip-service to MBO Bonuses but the followup is poor. We had agreed upon MBOs (Manage by Objective) targets laid out and agreed to, to our Boss a year ago. They were never signed off on by the Executive team.

I am OK with saying that we had are having a poor year and bonuses will be tied first and foremost to OI (Operating Income). However this was discussed and determined that this year would be different and we would truly run the MBO program as intended; in other words hit your goals and you will be good to go.

Add to this frustration my review is 120-days late and won't be delivered until April. I will be retro-ed the amount, but given that there are already hints that; "I really already make more than the other Directors" I am not expecting much.

So what to do:

  • Quit - Not with somewhere else to go. I am always networking though and have options
  • Do Nothing - Passively going through a career taking only whats given will cost you thousand over the course of a career.
  • Talk to the Top - Go to the CEO and complain. Uh...career suicide!

OK, Trek fans, sounds like a "Kobayashi Maru" test huh? For non-Trekers, this is a no-win test. It is to gauge your ability to get the best outcome even though you are gonna lose. Only one person to beat the test is old Captain Kirk. How...he changed the rules.

I did a bit of that too. here is what I have done to "win the situation" or at least get the best possible result:

  • Before I came, back to the company I investigated how the "MBO Structure" had been working. Most expressed indifference at best. Basically I knew I couldn't rely on it, so I didn't and tried to get my salary as high as possible.
  • I have NO plans for my raise. IF it comes in it will go right to my debt Snowball. I'll never see and spend it.
  • I am logging all of these wins too! If someone asks for a resume I have a freshly pressed one ready to go.
  • I don't let it get me down...at least to my Boss. I am Captain positive. I am sure he did everything he could (which he did) and I won't d anything to make him look bad.
  • I try to get mine other ways. I talked to him about promotion, project bonuses or anything else to get those funds back.

End of the day, you can't control how you are dealt with, just with how you prepare for it and react to it!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Our Fourth RSS Contest Winner!

Our Fourth RSS Contest Winner was picked last night. I once again used Random.org to give me a number to determine the second winner of The FruitfulTime TaskManager Software.

The software selected Laura L Victor!

I haven't heard back yet Laura so I could give you a a link to their Blog or site, But Congratulations!

Thanks To everyone Who Entered and FruitfulTime TaskManager Software for being our sponsor!

Best of the Week; End of an Era

Our Final winner in our RSS Contest had been notified and I hope to name and get a quote from them for my mid-day update. I would like to personally thank everyone that signed up for my RSS feed during the contest. We doubled our readership from 27 to over 54! It has been really fun to be a part of this contest, none of which would have been available without the fine folks at FruitfulTime and their great TaskManager Software! Thank you all very much.

Crazy week here, but without further suspense - The Best of the Week on the Web:

  • Fiscal Musings - A great piece on some hidden tax savings that could save you big money as these are easy to forget. This blog is just a must read if you like to her from someone starting out in life with their priorities set and headed in a great direction!
  • The Digerati Life - Featured a great article on helping to protect yourself from identity theft! Great practical advice!
  • BankerGirl - A neat piece on blogging for the love of it or for profit...or both!
  • Get Rich Slowly - JD has been on a tear lately with some really great post. Included is this piece on why we buy things!
  • Simplicity In Kansas - A really interesting piece on his "experiment" trying to stay healthy this winter. Impressive results...not a shock as most things things he attempts are pretty successful!

My Most Read Post of the Week:

  • Save 50% When You Dine Out - Not even close. This was the post that the Consumerist picked up....still going wild and it proves that you just never know!

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Money Milestones:

  • 3,804 Visitors in one Day! - Nearly 10x my previous High!
  • Over 19,000 Page Views
  • Over 10,800 Total Visitors
  • Over 56 Subscribers!
  • Coverage by The Consumerist has delivered 5,500 visitors. Thank You all very much!

Crazy week. Records fell. Computer broke.

Thanks all for tuning in. Next week I am traveling so I will be using Blogger in Draft to schedule some posts out, but I will answer your comments as soon as I can!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

One More Chance to Win our RSS Contest!

A Couple of hours left!! We will be picking our last winner for our FruitfulTime TaskManager RSS Contest!

Just sign up, or stay signed up, for our Email RSS feed (make sure to verify the email!) and at 10PM PST tonight I will use a Random List generator to pick one of those subscribers as a winner!

Stories delivered directly to you AND a chance to win free software?! 2 minutes of your time for a chance to win Free Software?

Here is the Software description:
FruitfulTime TaskManager is a to do list software that helps you to organise yourself. It allows you to input your tasks, split them in subtasks, keep track of notes, contacts, files and WebPages related to a particular task. FruitfulTime TaskManager also allows you to set due dates and assign reminders to accordingly. This will make sure that you will never miss a deadline again. FruitfulTime TaskManager is the best to do list software that can help you get things done and beat procrastination as recommended in this free procrastination ebook.

Get signed up now! Just sign up HERE!

I will email the winner tonight and let them know they have won. I will also give you a free plug for your website or Blog!

Best of Luck!

Movies are a Budget Weakness

Summer Movie Season is a hard budget time for me. But I am a movie junkie. Have been since I was a little kid. Every other kid wanted their birthday party at Chucky Cheese or any Pizza place. Not me, I always wanted to go to the movies.

I was lucky to grow up near one of the best movie palaces outside of New York and Los Angeles; Indian Hills in Omaha. Unfortunately, it is gone now but it was one of the few Cinerama theaters outside of a big city. It is where I saw Star Wars for the first time, had my real first date, and the last time I was in Omaha, I took my Mom out to a dinner and a movie as I was now a big time music school attendee and future Rock Star :)

The reason for the nostalgia trip is the Summer movie Season is coming up and I will have to stretch my entertainment budget by cutting other things as much as possible to see all of the ones we want to go to!

Here are a couple No-Brainer way to Save Money if you are a Movie Fan:

  • Matinees - Simple I know but the difference in price can be $3-5 per ticket for a family of five that means at least $10 saved (two are still kid tickets). Sunday afternoon is a great time to see a movie and it seems like most are timed to let you make it right from church :)
  • Wait two weeks - This is a tough one for me as I have the patience or a knat sometimes, but often movies are going to discount theaters quicker as they go to DVD quicker.
  • Don't get nickled and dimed! - Snack bar is the killer. Often costs more than the movie! They will try to up sell you to a uber-jumbo size on all, but it is rare that you will eat a four-bushel barrel of corn! right size...or get the bigger size and share. Get the large w/the refill if you are all going to share.

Three pretty easy ways to save some money so you can go more often!

How about you? Any tips to share? Looking forward to anything cool?

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dead Home Computer Update - Ninja Bill o' Doom


I am not a Pirate, I don't play one on TV, but you would not know that based on my language lately...no not blue I have little kids. But a lot of Aargh! has been heard.

Basically as I said before my hard drive drove off a cliff. Not a mechanical issue but a Windows Partition issue. Luckily, I found a great tech minutes from my house. A guy just out of college running his own business. He picked up the computer at the house Tueday and is (hopefully) delivering it back tonight. After exhaustive effort on his part, he was able to save my data (yeah!) but not my programs (boo!) as Windows had to be 100% ripped out and reloaded and new partitions set.

So, if you are still reading you might be saying to yourself...NEXT Blog! But actually I am discussing this as it taught and reinforced some lessons for me that I wanted to share...

Lessons Learnt (Hopefully!):

  • Back up the data on your hard drive...and not just to another area on your hard drive! Even though mine was saved, I still have to go back and update from the last time I saved. I know someone will comment...duh!...well fine, use me as the example of Gufus vs Gallant!
  • Keep your program discs handy! - I now need to go try and dig out all of the discs for my programs...yeah right! Some are handy others aren't and it is gonna cost me money.
  • Give a small business a chance - Normally if we were in SLC I would have taken this to Best Buy to have them fix it. They have been great, if not expensive! Finding this new business has been great a good guy that I have already began to tout to my friends! On top of it he quoted me 2 hour bench time when he started, this has now had more than 20! However, he is sticking to his initial quote, which mean, in my eyes, he is honest. I will use him again.
  • Major inconvenience vs Life - Although I was really bummed by this happening, and I will take precautions it doesn't again. It really isn't the end of the world. We all have an amazing ability to blow small stuff large!
  • Have an Emergency Fund! - This is the quintessential Ninja Bill. It popped out from nowhere and will cost a few hundred with new software. I would rather not spend it, but I have it! And it isn't going on my Credit Card. An Emergency Fund is the single most important thing you can do to ensure financial growth and success IMHO.

It looks like I have a big weekend project!

(Cartoon from Acclaim Images)

Personal Finance QuickTake: Congress Sets the Stage for a $683MM Tax Increase

Congress set the stage for a massive $683 Million tax increase for next year. Basically this is a 100% roll back of all of the Bush Tax cuts that are set to expire as he leaves office.

Each Presidential candidate interrupted their campaigns in order to vote on this important declaration. The declaration is a non-binding document that does however declare intent in order to begin the planning of future budgets. Final vote on the actual budget will be for the new congress that is elected in November.

These cuts would be backed by large domestic increases in spending, while still returning government ledgers to black within five years. In other words...tax and spend.

In today's vote John McCain voted to keep the current tax structure in place while both Senators Obama and Clinton voted in favor of the repeal. This is sure to be a hot button issues with Democrats and Republicans alike as the country is already experiencing cost increases in most day-to-day items.

Also up for vote today was a one year moratorium on "pork barrel" spending. This is the practice of adding additional spending bills to another bill. This practice is a Congress favorite way to spend money as it means positive good bills have to be vetoed in their entirety as the President cannot line item veto portion of a bill. It is all or nothing. This practice has led to projects such as the infamous "Bridge to nowhere" in Alaska. This bill was unfortunately crushed, and realistically never had a chance.

Whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, you just cannot continue to spend more than you bring in. Ultimately it leads to two tough decisions; cut spending or raise taxes. McCain's tax cuts would require deep cut to spending, while the Democrats promise spending that would enlarge the deficit or require too-large tax increases.

As the country's economic issues worsen we need everyone rowing the same way. This will mean that we cannot do everything, and that we will need to live below our means to pay back the deficit. If we don't we are dooming our children to ever-lowering standards. of living.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

71% of Economists Say We Are In A Recession

Fully 71% of 51 Economists of surveyed agreed the US economy has slid into recession according to Wall Street Journals online edition today.

Retail sales fell a pointed .6% in February as consumer spending tumbled. Consumers continue to grapple with high fuel prices, bad home value information and shrinking 401Ks due to market issues.

This is a big turnaround from just 5 weeks ago. 20 surveyed felt the economy would actually go backwards for the year and that unemployment would rise to 5.5%

The turnaround in opinion can be traced to the recent employment report that showed a loss of 63,000 jobs for the month. The second month in a row with negative job growth.

A better phrase is probably "recessionary" as the textbook definition of a recession is two consecutive quarters of GNP (Gross National Product) decline. However, I prefer the "Poor Richard" definition. "A Recession is when your friend loses his job, a depression is when you do!"

Unless some stability to home and gas prices (although in different directions!) can be found the public psychology is going to get tighter which could accelerate the slowdown. It is going to be a tough Election round in the US. As the sign said..."It's the Economy, Stupid!"

My Blogs first 90 Days

Monday, March 10th was the 90-day anniversary of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Money. I was originally planning to post this Monday night, but then my computer died so it has been hit or miss time-wise. I really want to write this post to the person starting out (which I still am!) who is thinking about starting their own blog or just started and might be frustrated.

I started the blog for a couple of reasons. One, We were just starting to get serious about getting our finances in order and the advice and stories of others from the Blogsphere was very helpful in showing us we weren't alone in the good fight. Second, I have always enjoyed writing and wondered if it was something I could do as a wider shared project.

A couple key things that I learned so far, for those starting out (otherwise known as things I wish I knew when starting!):

  • It is way harder then it looks! - Knocking out approximately 50,000 words over 90-days is like writing a book in that amount of time...albeit with a horrible plot and ever changing characters!
  • You never know what post are going to click - I have written posts that I thought would get people talking and...crickets! Others like the Restaurant Guide took off (due to someone featuring it). So don't toss any idea. It could be the thing that takes you to another traffic plateau!
  • Don't get wrapped too deep in the numbers - Visitors at first have a very interesting traffic pattern. Stare at the numbers too much and you'll lose sight of what you are doing for the long term.
  • Learning to accept some folks just don't like you - I have pretty thick skin, but I saw myself getting wound-up over something someone would say...even though I don't know them, they don't know me, and we probably never will. It just doesn't matter.
  • You get to meet more great people then you could imagine! - Some people have bent over backwards to provide tips, information and links to expose this blog to their readers. It is very kind and the top thing that I am enjoying about doing this!

Top People to Thank:

  • Brightside of Debt - Great conversational writer that was one of the first that I read!
  • Madame X - My Open Wallet - First Googled "Personal Finance Blog" and found her first! She provided linking to her blogrole to a very new blog which really help people find LLPM.
  • ShoeMoney and John Chow - Two great blogs about the business of blogging and how to structure your site. Both have provided link back here through there comment sections which has really helped traffic.
  • Fiscal Musings - Great writer that puts out nothing but top-level work and a great cross-promotional friend
  • Mrs M and Catherine L - Both showing how important it is to go out and comment on others blogs and get the post rolling! (Even though they don't link to me in their blogroll :) )

Cool Milestones from the first 90-days:

  • Over 10,000 Visitors! (Half of them this week from The Consumerist!)
  • 3,872 Visitors in One Day!
  • Over 18,000 Page Views
  • Over 50 Subscribers
  • 3 Mentions on msn MoneyBlog
  • 1 Feature on msn MoneyBlog
  • 1 Mention on WSJ.online
  • 1 Mention on Reuters Online
  • Featured on The Consumerist

I truly never thought I would get that many readers ever, much less nearly 4,000 in one day. The milestones aren't there to brag, but to let you know you can do it to. I can be frustrating when you first have those days with 5 or 10 visitors, it will pick up! Just keep writing.

You have all been so kind in sharing so many great comments over the last 168 posts! I look forward to the next 90 days and beyond. Thank you all so much!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Personal Finance QuickTake: Carl Icahn

Carl Icahn is a pretty interesting guy. Along with Henry Kravis of KKR, he was one of the most feared names in Industry. The shear mention that Carl Icahn was "on the phone to talk to you", would scare most CEOs into writing him a check to go away!

60 Minutes had a great piece on him and how he makes his money, and as one of the Top 20 richest people on the planet, he does know a thing or two about how to make money. He might not make companies cower with just a call anymore, but he does know how to rattle his sabre.

Icahn was one of a handful of Corporate Raiders that bought up companies with little or no cash, loaded the company with debt and would then spin then off or tear them apart. Think Gordon Gekko from the movie "Wall Street". Icahn's famous takeover of TWA in 1985 is the stuff of legends. But the Airline was stabilized and saved, at least for a time, but a lot of people were put out of work.

He is now known more as a Board of Directors worst nightmare. In an era of huge CEO pay packages Carl has the audacity to ask if they are worth it! And if doesn't get the answer he wants he isn't afraid to try and replace the Board themselves.

His recent fight with TimeWarner about their disastrous merger with AOL is a great example. He disagreed with the direction of the company, tried to force CEO Dick Parson to sell or spin off large portions of the company, and even though he lost got the stock moving enough to still make $300 Million in the process.

Like him, hate him or don't understand him, he is still fascinating and offers a great glimpse into what happens backstage at some of the largest companies in the world. And bigger isn't necessarily smarter!

Personal Finance QuickTake: Stock Market Loves the Fed

The Stock Market jumped 416 points today based on the Federal Reserve move to improve liquidity to the market. This is the largest gain for the market since July 2002.

This $200 Billion flu shot, gives liquidity to an area that companies have been to afraid to buy or allow to use as backing for other loans; Mortgage backed securities. This will develop a market for those securities that have seen constant write-down, as even good performing portfolios have been painted with this tainted brush.

This International Fund, backed by the Federal Reserve, European Central Bank, the Bank of Canada and the Swiss National Bank aims to put a floor over the bottomless pit that had drained markets over 500 point in the last 3 days. Based on the large increases today, Wall Street believes that they did just that.

These Central Banks are hoping that these moves prove more effective then rate cuts, which have been only temporary bandages.

From the Yahoo Report:

"It's not just a rate cut. I think it's a very creative way to do financing," said Anthony Conroy, managing director and head trader for BNY ConvergEx Group. "It shows the Fed is willing to do things that are a little out-of-the-box to shore up credit issues. I really think they went to the heart of the issue."

The latest step by the central banks was seen as a direct lifeline to investment banks, which previously couldn't borrow beyond already established Fed liquidity plans. The plan basically allows Wall Street's biggest institutions to put up troubled assets as collateral for loans, use the new capital to make money in the market, and then pay back the loan up to 28 days later.

Though eventually banks would be forced to take the troubled mortgage-backed debt back on their books, the plan still takes short-term pressure off them. Many of these banks will release first-quarter earnings reports next week.

Hopefully this puts a stopgap into place so the market can break out of this death cycle. The constant write-down of these debts has put many small and medium banks on the edge of Bankruptcy. As the report states this is only a 28 day cooling off, as this is how long they would have to repay the bridge loans, but it might be the break needed to re-establish liquidity.

One of the issues has been that even though the Fed has cut rates, mortgages and other credit vehicles haven't lowered as much as there just isn't a lot of money available to loan, even for the good customers. This had led to a viscous circle, where you can't even refinance to take advantage of the lower rates so the rates keep going lower to help the economy.

Only time will tell...Funny, that Zombie movie is called "28 Days Later!"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Are Oil Hedge Funds to Blame?

The US is very shortly staring at $4 per gallon gas in its near future. Oil was at $108 a barrel today and given that those are 55 gallon barrels that is nearly $2 per gallon...for crude oil! The $1 Trillion Question is, Why?

What has changed in 24 months in order to send oil from $50 to over $100? Is it demand? Nope, demand is rising 10%+ and will probably slow down to very low growth due to consumers driving less. Has OPEC turned off the spicket? Nope. There have been fluxes, but for the most part...no. Iraq and Venezuela have been an issue, but not enough to cut supply by half. Which is what it would take to double the price (at least in a linear fashion). This report from WTRG shows more great slides to review for yourself.

From the report:
The U.S. petroleum industry's price has been heavily regulated through production or price controls throughout much of the twentieth century. In the post World War II era U.S. oil prices at the wellhead averaged $24.20 per barrel adjusted for inflation to 2006 dollars. In the absence of price controls the U.S. price would have tracked the world price averaging $26.16. Over the same post war period the median for the domestic and the adjusted world price of crude oil was $18.53 in 2006 prices. That means that only fifty percent of the time from 1947 to 2006 have oil prices exceeded $18.53 per barrel.

Until the March 28, 2000 adoption of the $22-$28 price band for the OPEC basket of crude, oil prices only exceeded $24.00 per barrel in response to war or conflict in the Middle East. With limited spare production capacity OPEC abandoned its price band in 2005 and was powerless to stem a surge in oil prices which was reminiscent of the late 1970s.

I was puzzled, why the super rise then? Then I ran across another, bit older article from Fortune about Oil Traders and Oil Hedge Funds. While this article is a bit out of date it really lays out where the groundwork for this bubble has come from. Oil Hedge Funds. Talk about printing money for the last three years!

It works like this: I think oil is gonna rise, so I buy a "future contract" for oil at x date at x price. The fellow I am buying the future is betting the other way. So let's say I think oils going to go to $125 by Christmas (Gosh I hope not, but as an illustration) I would put a bid out to get the lowest possible price for that December 2008 oil. Timmy thinks it is going to $115, so he is happy as punch to sell me all the oil I want for $125! So he takes my bid at $125...It is now December. Oil is at $150! I get to buy it at $125 and Timmy is selling it to me at that price, even though the market is $25 higher now. So I made $25 per barrel!

The only issue is that you do not have to hold it all the way to December. If the market looks like it is going against him Timmy can sell the contract off, probably at a loss, but better than it could have been.

When this is out of control it can become a real Ponzi Scheme, in Biblical terms you rob Paul to pay Peter. Exactly like what was going on with housing. The problem with a Ponzi Scheme is that you eventually run out of suckers and it crashes!

Which is exactly why OPEC doesn't want to jack production (even if they could) way up. They all expect a big crash. Irrational Exuberance, to quote Mr. Greenspan.

While the housing market (the other Ponzi Scheme) is to blame as well, oil touches every budget point, for everyone and I believe our biggest true inflation issue. They government could step in and freeze oil prices, but that would kill any reason for the oil companies to reinvest, which leads to higher future prices.

A crash is coming. And I hope it won't be too late!

Welcome All Visitors from The Consumerist!

Woke up this AM to an insane amount of visitors!

I would like to Welcome all of theose visiting from The Consumerist, a personal favorite of mine as well. It was trully an honor to be mentioned.

If you like what you read, sign up for my RSS feed! and have it delivered directectly to you free every day!

Once again...Welcome!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Banks to Bust says Billionaire

CNBC had a great interview with Billionaire Wilbur Ross, CEO of WL Ross and Co. In the interview Mr Ross the question I have been asking; With all of these bad loans going on, why haven't we seen more bank closings?

His answer: a very simple, "We Will." "I think that's going to be the next wave, and coupled with problems in the commercial real estate market; I think they'll be the next bubbles that burst."

He was also asked about risk to big banks. ""I think that the big banks won't fail in the sense that they will go to zero and depositors would lose money," Ross replied. "I think the Fed and other regulators will make things happen. I think it's the medium-sized banks, and particularly some of those that got overextended with the subprime and other kind of mortgage debt. I think those are the ones that had the serious mismatch, making 20- and 30-year loans based on 90-day deposits."

This matched what the Federal Reserve Chair Bernanke told a Senate committee in late February. He believe those small banks that took flyers on higher returns on medium and high risk loans are at risk.

There are more and more reports about people walking away from their mortgages and in a report last night it was said that 28% of those in default aren't even talking to their banks. Given that the banks need another house like a hole in their head, this is the best time to work with your mortgage company if you are having issues.

The bigger problem is that that consumers aren't there to bail out the economy this time, and even those in good or better shape are spending less to prep for harsher conditions instead.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Major Computer Crash! - Doh!

We got back from dinner at my mom's house last night and blammo...my computer is dead! on my wife's right now but, in the words of a pirate..."Aaargh!"

I'll be back up by this afternoon (hopefully!)

Racer X

Our Third of Four RSS Contest Winners!

Our third RSS Contest Winner was picked last night. I once again used Random.org to give me a number to determine the second winner of The FruitfulTime TaskManager Software.

The software selected JayMSluyter!

I haven't heard back yet from JayM so I could give you a a link to their Blog! But Congratualtions!

Remember there is one more chance to win the contest, next week at the same time I will pick the next winner. Just register for my Email RSS Feed, or stay registered! I look forward to picking your name next!

Best of the Week, Winners and Milestones

Just Picked and Notified our third winner in the RSS Sign-up Contest. Hope to give a link and a quote during the mid-day update. Remember all you have to do is sign-up for the RSS feed HERE or on the main page, verify the email...and that's it! You are entered. If you are already on the list you are entered in to next weeks final drawing as well!

Great week for Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Money as we hit new milestones, increased readership and had great traffic. It was a great week for some of my favorite blogs as well. so without any further ado...

The Best Of the Web for the Week:

  • Brightside of Debt - This one is me trying to rally folk to go there and comment on the linked post! - Brightside is considering stopping her blogg as her Hubby found out about itand she's feeling guilty. I know so many of my readers read her blog. Go to this post and let her know how great her blog is and how you want her to stay!!!
  • Iowa Hippie Chick -This is about her Financial Epiphany, but really it is about much more. One of the best written, most touching posts I have read in a long time. She is a favorite of mine for a reason!
  • Finwikian - This new Personal Finance Wiki (pfWiki) was pulled together by Mrs Micah and could become a great repository for some great collected Finance knowledge!
  • Hustler Money Blog - More then one single post Hustler does an amazing job compiling all of the current Credit card deals. I personally would rather chop them up, but if you are gonna have one, get the best deal!
  • Plonkee - A great post and mini-Carnival that goes into great depth and explanation of Dave Ramsey's Baby' Steps. Great stuff...as usual!

My Most Read Post of the Week:

  • LifeLock = Life Crock? - A look at the successful program. Is is really a good Value? Detective X takes a look! :)

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Money Milestones:

  • 369 Visitors in one Day! - Biggest day ever by far (Feb 28th), due to msn MoneyBlog story
  • Over 11,500 Page Views
  • Over 4700 Total Visitors
  • Over 50 Subscribers!
  • Achieved PageRank with Google! PR2...bigger and better to come!

Thanks to all for being great supporters! I hope to be worthy!

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Time For a Third Winner - Is it You?

It's nearly time! We will be picking our third out of four total winners for our FruitfulTime TaskManager RSS Contest!

All you have to do is sign up, or stay signed up, for our Email RSS feed and at 10PM PST tonight I will use a Random List generator to pick one of those subscribers as a winner!

As easy as pie! 2 minutes of your time for a chance to win Free Software?

Here is the Software description:

FruitfulTime TaskManager is a to do list software that helps you to organise yourself. It allows you to input your tasks, split them in subtasks, keep track of notes, contacts, files and WebPages related to a particular task. FruitfulTime TaskManager also allows you to set due dates and assign reminders to accordingly. This will make sure that you will never miss a deadline again. FruitfulTime TaskManager is the best to do list software that can help you get things done and beat procrastination as recommended in this free procrastination ebook.

Get signed up now! Just sign up HERE!

I will email the winner tonight and let them know they have won. I will also give you a free plug for your website or Blog!
Also, There is a great Carnival of Ethics and Personal Finance going on right now. Tons of great articles all in one handy Blog!

Best of Luck!

Is Suze Orman's Advice Too Basic?

First let me say I believe Dave Ramsey and Suze Orman have brought more people to consider their personal finances than most other financial writers. Orman has additionally brought more women into thinking more about their finances and take control of their financial futures. However, every time I see her (which, to be fair is not that much) something troubles me.

Her advise is often very simplistic.

I watched the show awhile ago and there was a segment on the show called "Can I afford It?" No offence to the people that called in, but it was like a bad SNL skit.

  • Caller: Suze...Can I afford a Plasma TV?
  • Suze: Tell me, do you have any cash on hand for Emergencies?
  • Caller: No...
  • Suze: Any Retirement savings
  • Caller: Yeah I have $2500 in my 401K
  • Suze: How old are you?
  • Caller: 50
  • Suze: I wouldn't...get some bonds right away...

That was totally made up but it isn't that far off the calls received. It isn't her problem who calls in, but the way real radio or TV works is that they feed the callers and queue them...some someone tosses her some real softballs...at least when I watched.

Her tips that I have read out on the web were pretty pedestrian as well.

  • Don't Eat Lunch out
  • Search your closet for lost money
  • Use Self-Serve pumps at gas stations

They might as well also include:

  • Don't put your money in a pile and burn it
  • Don't eat dirt
  • Don't try All of the get rich quick schemes...its not fair to others that want to get rich too...

Love to hear you opinion, am I being too hard on her based on the few shows I have seen? Is one of her books a must read? Let us all know!

Nothing wrong with simple, just simplistic! It really comes down to this: If you want to create wealth first you need to spend less than you make. Period. Then topics like Budget, Emergency Fund, 401K, debt management and investing should be reviewed in depth.

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