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Friday, August 15, 2008

Crazy Two Days from MSN

Crazy traffic over the last few days via MSN Moneyblog and Karen (again)! She linked my Brett Favre piece and over 4,000 people came in two days.
Thanks to all who came, especially those who have signed up! Good stuff coming this weekend.
Work is crazy now with three major projects being wrapped...Only home long enough for a shower, shave and repack!
Wish all the best and Thanks Again! Especially to Karen who has picked up three of my posts and given my little blog an amazing exposure!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

What the Green Bay Debacle Can Teach Us

First off...I love football. I am not a big pro sports guy, but I enjoy all levels of football. From little kids playing Pop Warner, to High School, College and the Pro's, for me there is no better drama in sports.

Even though I am no Green Bay Packer fan (Go Cowboys!) I can't help trying seeing parallels in our own career path that we need to understand.

For those not following the story; basically Brett Favre, a future Hall-of-Fame Quarterback for Green Bay (GB), decided to retire at the end of last season. It was a shock, given that the team well over achieved expectations. It wasn't a shock though that it was coming. A 15 year veteran, he had hinted at it for two years. Brett retires, team moves on, new QB, other personnel changes...then Brett decides he made a hasty rash decision and he wants to come back...(cue record scratch sound). Team says we have moved on, Brett say fine trade me to this team. GB says nope, they are our rival and it would hurt our fan base, but you are under contract so we control that move.

It gets worse from there, now there are rough feeling etc.. It isn't resolved as of this writing, but probably will be this week.

So...how does this ties to personal finance and career advise?:

  • No matter how good you are, you are replaceable - Brett's one of the best ever, but the team has moved on
  • If you don't own the business, you don't hold the cards - Brett is famous, rich and well liked...But see #1. It doesn't matter if you are the star performer, the business can move on without you
  • Don't make rash career decisions - If Brett had not rushed his retirement call (even if pushed) he wouldn't be in this spot with no leverage.

Its a sad story for a sports hero, team and fans to learn that even the best, eventually, are displaced. But it is a lesson we all should know too.

Monday, August 4, 2008

July Finance Review: The Month That Was

The smell of firecrackers are gone, and the first whiffs of "Back to School" are in the air. The month that was is, is was and will be is now! (say that 3 times fast!). Great month even with the Evil Ninja fair popping up and spending too much there, we still did pretty darn well with an increase of $2, 093 to our Net Worth!


  • Lowered a few Bills - Made an effort to kill a bunch of these $5-10 nagging monthly charges from various accounts. A few more to go, but we also killed a few bigger quarterly ones as well. This will save us over $1000 a yr!
  • Net Worth up by $2,093 - Still mostly debt reduction, but better to kill a 12.99% credit card debt than earn 3% in a savings account!
  • Reached the 1/3rd pay off point in our consumer debt! (OK 32.73%...close enough to celebrate!) Original number: $68,897.23 - Now: $46,344.81 - Paid off since 10/07: $22,522.42

Points to Work on:

  • Property Taxes Coming in October - Need to step up savings if not gonna touch Emergency Fund. $3,040 in ETrade Account right now for it, probably need another $1500!
  • Weekly updates op MS Money and Excel charts - Daily too much bi-weekly to long. Today took 2hrs to get everything to my love OCD-esque level.
  • All of us to pull reins in tighter when envelopes are empty...No more robiing Paul to pay Peter!


  • Pay Off StateFarm CC - $2836 - Down to $1920! #1 Snowball debt getting payments of $280!
  • Pay Off Car - $4594.87 - Down to $2474, Coming down quick!
  • Pay Off CC CitiBank Platinum - $8989 - Now $8345 This is still getting Minimum payment as we snowball the State Farm Card
  • Pay off all CC Debt - Paid off $1600 since beginning of tracking
  • Save 100% 2008 Property Taxes - $4500 - $3040 Saved in E*Trade Account. Back to working this amount. Whatever not achieved will come out of Emergency fund, but would rather not tap it.
  • Keep Snowball 100% Intact - $308.43 Is the Current. Once StateFarm is paid off, it will be $654.72!
  • No CC Use - For the TENTH month! Getting close to the 1-year mark! 60 more Days!
  • Increase Average FICO-Score to 720- Without CC payoff not gonna happen this year, but still getting better. Now average 7001.7 over the three agencies!
  • Stick to Cash Budget System - Yep!
  • Net Worth increased by $20,000 - $12,000 so far!

Baby Steps:

  • Baby Step #2 - As stated above, now at nearly 1/3rd paid off!

That's it!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

The More I Write, the Less People Read

Quick post today.

I have noticed something interesting since I have been back writing the Blog. The more I post and write, the lower the subscriber list goes!

It made me think about how we all react to availability.

Question: What is generally the best Rated Episodes of a TV series...Answer: The Premiere and the Finale! It is probably the reason people used to really like mini-series!

Not that I will stop posting just to get my numbers up, but it was just an interesting observation (at least to me!).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Tata Nano PTII

Back in January I posted about a car that was announced by Tata Motors. The Nano was to smash price barriers for the third world and sell for less than $2500.

Well Tata, which recently bought Jaguar and Land Rover from Ford, is having a tough time hitting the price point given the commodity price increase over the last 6 months.

Today in BusinessWeek they spotlighted the status of the little wonder and some of their prospective customers, especially in India. Based on the taxes and other initial expenses the car won't be quite as cheap as hoped. A good used car, with AC can be had for about $3000 (and if you have been to India, you'll recommend the AC!).

Will the Nano be as successful as its iPod namesake? Who knows, but I remember when dealer in the US were all worried be a car out of Eastern Europe...the Yugo!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

First Blogger in Space

I plan to be the first blogger in space. It would only be for 2 1/2 hours and 5 mins weightless, but it officially counts as space travel for the (very wealthy) everyman. Virgin Galactic can make that a real possibility.

OK, so I am $199,990 short on the ticket price (I have $10 left over from my allowance) and they have already per-sold 250 out of the first years 500 seats, but it still leaves 250 more :) Plus I'd like to go when all of the kinks are worked out!

OK, so personal finance would be out the window, but I am from that first generation of kids that had astronauts as hero's. I was just six-months old when Neil Armstrong made that "Giant Leap for Mankind," 8-yrs old when Star Wars came out not to mention in my teens when I realized it probably wasn't gonna happen in my lifetime, Buck Rogers or not. This really is stuff of dreams

Just a few years ago Burt Rutan changed all that. His PRIVATE company designed a ship that went into space, safely returned and collected the X-Prize. The X-Prize was a $1 Million prize to the first that could pull it off. While he spent well more than that to do it (Paul Allen of Microsoft fame was a key investor) the prize lit a spark under a great group of businessmen that went for it.

Richard Branson of Virgin fame, saw the excitement and quickly made a deal with Burt to turn his design into the first affordable space excursion available to man. Before this some very rich folk had bought $10 Million rides to the space station, but Virgin is taking it to a whole other dimension.

In the first year alone, as I said, Virgin hopes to fly 500 people into space. To put that into perspective, that is nearly equal to ALL of the people that have EVER gone into space. Pretty amazing.

Look, I get that this is a horrible investment. However it isn't dis-similar to wanting to climb Mount Everest or take a Submarine to see the Titanic. In fact the price will come down in time and with increased competition.

Anyway this is the sort of thing that is neat to at least highlight. Remember it is a curse and a blessing to say, "May you live in interesting times!"

Who's with me! Moon or Bust :)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Up like a Rocket, Down like a Feather

The title is how I have always seen gasoline pump prices go. It seems like when oil goes up $1 barrel, gas will jump that day. Forget the logic that says, there is no way oil got from the Oil Derrick, to the refinery and to the gas station to be pumped into my car in Southern Oregon the next day.

However, the second part of the statement is true also. The day prices go down, do the pump prices? Nope. It can take days or weeks to fall. The talking heads (the PR people, not the band) will tell you, "OH, it takes time to filter through..."

I have to say though, this time feels different. Maybe this is due to demand actually falling this time and the oil companies trying to stoke usage. Summer is their traditional big demand month and yet in June demand was 5.2% off!

According to this article prices are going to dip up to 25 cents more by Labor Day. Cannot come to soon. Energy has been a key driver (along with cheap money) of inflation. Perhaps we can escape the "Pit and the Pendulum" one more time!

Are the prices coming down where you are as well?

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