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Thanks Obama

January 5th, 2016 at 01:57 pm

I tell you, nothing gets me out of the woodwork like a good political debate on gun control. For those who don't know by now, I'm very pro-gun. Been both a gun owner and a conceal carry licensed carrier for about 20 years now. Yeah....

That said though, I have to tell you, I am really moved by what President Obama is trying to do right now. He's doing what he can to try to keep society free and safe from further violence (perpetrated by firearms). I can respect that. In fact, I hope he succeeds. Seriously. Even though I am very pro-gun, I've always felt there were too many loopholes for shady people to get their hands on legal firearms. As far as I can tell, he's just trying to close some of those loopholes.

For the most part, I really do think President Obama has done a good job in trying to make a difference, and making our nation a better place. Agree or disagree, you can't argue that at least he tries (such as these latest executive actions for example). So uh, thanks Obama. Really!

Finally, I want to emphasize that I am not affiliated with the government or any political parties or factions or lobbies in any way. In fact, I really don't like nor care for politics most of the time.

But this is a personal finance blog, not a politics blog so let me shift gear. HOW ARE YOU GUYS DOING? Well I hope. I am doing quite well here actually. Finally ended up in a new house.

Um, finally bought some furniture for the first time. As always, I kept everything to a minimum I think. Just a sofa and a desk is new really. The rest is still the same.

In fact, I still only have a mattress on the floor, but the new house's closet is a bit too small for me to put even my mattress in there so, if I intend to do that, I may have to do some uh "engineering" in the future. Haha.

My personal finances is still chugging along. In fact, year over year, my net worth is still shooting up, along with my savings. Growth in 2015 is slightly stunted by the furniture and other house-related purchases, but overall, it's still been stellar.

In fact, except in one small area, I have never been happier or at least content in my life. I guess that's the fact that I'm still single. I've met a couple of people here and there, but nothing has stuck so far. That's OK though. I can't say it enough: I'd rather be single than be in a bad relationship.

Uhhhh let's see what else? Honestly, I don't know. That's why I haven't blogged in like forever. I am at a point where everything that I can do anything about is where I would like it to be... all the way down to the exact type of credit cards I would like to own and the exact amount of credit limit I would like to carry. It's crazy to think that my financial house is finally, at long last... in order?! What else am I suppose to do now? Haha.

I confess I haven't been keeping track of this community, but I hope everyone reading this is doing just as well. If there's anything I should know about, please comment. Anyway, here's to a happy new year for you!

Checked out the neighborhood

May 21st, 2014 at 09:25 pm

Assuming that vandwelling is no longer an option, what other options do I have? With this question in mind, I decided to check out the places for rent and for sale in the area that is close to my work place (because, really, if I have to settle for some place, it might as well shorten my commute).

But before I get into that, let me just say that of the three Android apps I tried-- Zillow, Realtor, and Trulia-- I liked Trulia the best. Zillow acted a bit buggy and sometimes won't let me select certain places, while showing me other places that are already sold. Realtor only showed me expensive houses in the area for some reason. Trulia had the mix of selection and reliability that I was looking for between the three. I digress.

Rent in the area starts out at $800 a month, which to me is way too high for just renting some place.

I also looked at plots of land that may be available, so perhaps I can build something cheap but nice on it. Land in the area is about $35k, which seemed pricey, but would be worthwhile if it was in a area. As it turns out, it was anywhere but a good area. In fact, I knew I was in trouble when I realized it ran near the drug neighborhoods, with faint graffiti and lots of broken glass bottles on the street that I had to drive around. Sooo yeah, that's out too.

Moving up, the closest condos are outside the my search area, and they are mostly college housings. These places are really packed and are generally noisy. Price is decent though, starting at $30k for one of those one bedroom one bath places for college students.

Unfortunately, the best choice available is a house at a nearby semi-decent neighborhood. Unfortunate because prices for these actual townhouses and houses start at $140k... which is exactly what I was hoping to avoid in the first place.

At this point, I am still not sure how I should handle this, but at least I have a better idea of what I am working with. What do you think?

Let's talk tiny house

May 18th, 2014 at 12:26 am

In a previous entry, kiki commented on the following:

"How about building on of those small houses built on trailers? They can be done for much less than 20k, would be built to your specifications, can be permanent or moved, provide water, showering, toilet, kitchen, living and sleeping spaces. I think they are great."

Funny you should mention that because guess what I've been looking at? Actually, I've been staring at tiny houses for a while now. I've even gone so far as to meet up in one of those local tiny house enthusiast groups.

I mean, if I can't vandwell, I was thinking this would be my next step up as a possible option. There are also companies nearby that cater to exactly this sort of market. Here's one nearby that I like. I just love all those beautiful wood details!

As for cost, a good one that is pre-built is more like $40k, but that's still pretty affordable for a place to live.

Uhhhhhhh, I've also been looking into underground bunkers and storm shelters. That's a bit more specialized, but is fairly affordable as well....

Know when to fold

May 16th, 2014 at 10:39 pm

I've been thinking a lot since I've went to the dealership and stepped into the cargo van that I wanted to get. It's... small. I've mentioned this before, but now I am thinking that perhaps it is TOO small. I simply can not fit everything I want into a 3' x 7'....

So, at this point, I have basically two choices: Considering a bigger cargo van that is less stealthier, or considering sticking with a conventional dwelling like maybe a condo.

I can't risk putting all my faith into a less stealthy vehicle... I simply do not want to put all the money and energy into it only to have my employer decide that we can no longer do that....

The alternative is the much more expensive route of getting a condo/duplex/townhouse somewhere. I don't like paying for this route, but the upside is that I retain all the advantages that come with having such a dwelling.

So, at this point, I am not sure what to do. The only thing I can think of is to keep sleeping on it. I am still fine where I am, although to be honest, I am itching to move out. I want to finally move to having my own place to call home, but I am not sure where that would be.

I guess I will have to keep looking, but for now, I may have to give up the idea on vandwelling....

Preliminaries

May 11th, 2014 at 03:55 pm

First and foremost, Happy Mother's Day to all you hard-working moms out there!

So I had a chance to go out of the car dealership and take a look at the vehicle I am interested in, and I have to say the space feels much smaller than I anticipated. The vehicle I have in mind is capable of hauling 4' x 8' plywood panels with the doors close. As far as cargo vans go, that is fairly impressive. However, as I sat in there, the space feels much more restrictive than I imagined.

To make things worse, the interior needs to be insulated as well, and the insulation I have in mind will effectively shave off another precious feet off from the total length, width, and height.

With some hesitation, I say I can still make it work. I just have to be extremely clever about using all the possible nook and cranny that is available to me.

In the meantime, I've sectioned off a 3' x 7' space on the carpet with duct tape to get a better feel of what the layout should look like... and I admit this looks like somewhere between madness and not-gonna-happen. It's literally just enough space for a twin sized mattress.

Maybe this is too crazy to work....

Unquantifiable

May 6th, 2014 at 08:07 pm

This isn't directly related to PF in itself, but it'll also make sense why in a minute.

When thinking about vandwelling, the numbers completely make sense. There is no rent or mortgage. There is no homeowners insurance. No property tax. No HoA fees and regulations.

Certainly, there are vehicle-associated costs, but they are usually ones you would normally incur from just having any regular vehicle. Well, maybe a bit more, but the cost savings are still a no-brainer.

The real downsides are more psychological and social. For example, full-time vandwellers can pretty much forget most social and dating scenes because even voluntarily choosing to live in a van down by the proverbial river still carries a lot of negative social stigma. The loneliness can be hard to bear, and heaven help you if you are also claustrophobic.

The unquantifiable variables are what really gets you. I also realize that this level of living is most likely below the standards of even many here at SA.

That's also why I can't quite get as excited about this prospect, even though this is what I am ultimately choosing to do. I am fairly confident it is physically doable. I just have to get over that hump in my mind that perhaps I am resigningmy fate to something worse or less human somehow.

Then again, I am living well in a fairly big house right now, and in a great neighborhood. Everybody else in the neighborhood thinks I am well-off somehow. And yet, I already feel the loneliness, the resignation of my fate, and so forth. So, me making this choice to experiment with vandwelling may not be as bad as I imagined.

And it is only an experiment. I don't know if it will actually work out. I don't know how far I will be able to take this. There are lots of unknowns.

Luckily, the small kid in me thinks this awesome, like some kind of goofy summer camp adventure that I am going on. I am going to hang on to that part, because there's nothing to be gained by simply dreading it. Plus, it will also push me out of my comfort zone, and towards something that I hope will actually better my life in some way. The same way it got me here on SA in the first place.

I hear you like closets

May 6th, 2014 at 01:08 am

I guess if there is one thing I am known for around these parts, it would be my experiences with living in a closet. It certainly has exceeded my wildest expectations in terms of not just the execution, but also with the reception around here (and surprisingly positive ones at that).

However, have I actually shared pictures of my closet set up? I can't remember. Since you guys liked it so much, I decided to dig around and find a couple of pics for you to gawk at.

But before I share them, I just want to clarify that I actually extended it all the way out to my master bathroom... because I wanted an all-inclusive space that I could use my room AC and heater on. This means I could also shower, go to the bathroom, and so forth, without having to freeze or burn my butt off because the rest of the house is not typically climate controlled. That and I had to go through the master bathroom to get to the closet anyways, soooo, with that crazy idea in mind, here's the first picture:



Here, you can see my simple desk and laptop setup. At the time, I covered up the other master bathroom sink for more space for the second monitor, but I eventually removed that monitor as I didn't really need it and it was just generating extra heat. I mean it was useful for my stock trading and some video games, but I could live without it.

Behind the desk and laptop is the master bath that I never used. Instead, I placed my room AC and palm tree in there. Normally, when I run the AC, it creates waste water that would drain into a bin that I would periodically have to pick up and dump into the bathroom. However, with this setup, the water drained straight down the tube and into the tub's drain. Life couldn't be simpler.

I had a similar system going with the palm tree where any excess water simply drained down the tub, but I eventually learned that the leeched out dirt also made a mess I had to clean from time to time. Eventually, I just placed a drain pan under it and that solved that.



Here, you can actually see a small part of my closet setup, with my twin sized mattress taking up nearly all of the floor space inside.

Included in the pic is the "winter setup", where I had shower curtain rods going across the closet wall so I can prop up a heavy comforter like some kind of tent. The little kid in me looooved this, but the passive heating it provided also proved extremely effective. So much so that, I did not even have my room heater on for half the winter here. Bonus points that I didn't have to look at the clothes that were hanging right above me.

Well, I also had a sleeping bag in there, which is not shown in the picture. Sleeping bags are extremely effective at keeping me warm. In fact, it proved too much on the some of the warmer winter nights; the comforter tent alone was enough.

Also not shown is the small flashlight and a rig to hang my tablet inside one of the shower curtain rods that I used to surf the net or watch Netflix. I eventually stopped using the rig because I kept knocking my tablet off and have it hit my face. I should be sleeping anyways.

By now, you may be also wondering about why all the house plants. When you're in a confined space like this for an extended period of time, you start to believe that you may be hard of breathing, perhaps from a lack of oxygen. It's possible my mind was playing tricks on me as well, but I thought air quality was an entirely valid issue to look into.

So, I scoured the internet looking for more information, and came across some study from India about air quality and urban planning. According to that study, if you can get a certain number of hardy houseplants per person, you can completely recycle your own air 24/7. I decided to experiment with that as well, and the result is what you see in these pictures.

Now, even though this isn't the prettiest setup possible, I still think the result was stunning in terms of not just effectiveness, but also to some degree, aesthetics. I mean, I have always liked plants to begin with, and have you ever smelled Mother-in-laws at night? They have this amazing, subtle, sweet scent. And when I wake up, the light would shine past my palm, casting this amazing shadow on the wall, swaying from the window air or from my AC running. Big Grin

Last but not least, how could I post something like this without talking about some numbers? In the years before this, when I ran central heating and cooling, I was able to push down the average monthly price of electricity and gas to around, let's say from $200 a month to $100 a month. Now, for a 1200 square foot house, I think $100 a month is really quite good. However, when I went from central HVAC to the closet setup and using only my room AC and heater, the average monthly plummeted again from $100 a month to $50 a month. And that's also with me not caring about how much room AC and heating I wanted to use. I suppose I could push it down even more to perhaps $40 a month, but I just didn't want to sacrifice that much discomfort. All-in-all, the experiment worked out so well, I started to live like this year round without thinking twice.

And I would have continued to do so, except of course, I am now making plans to take all of the lessons I've learned here, and apply it into a living space that also happens to be mobile. Unlike the closet, which even though it sounds like such a quirky idea, I always knew it would work. Why wouldn't it? However, with a cargo van... there are some legitimately difficult challenges that needs to be surmounted here. Still, I am confident that I can make something work. I've seen others pull it off, and I am hoping to do the same.

Let's talk about some normal stuff

May 5th, 2014 at 12:08 am

I don't know why I am drawn to crazy ideas. If nothing else, I suppose it's fun and exciting to work on an amusing challenge, and see if I could actually make it work. For now though, there are also normal finance stuff that I still need to handle.

For example, although I wear contacts most of the time, I still wear glasses on occasion, especially when at home, and now, I've finally lost my glasses. Yes.. I actually lost it. No idea where it went. How do you lose a glass you say? I don't know but apparently I succeeded beyond my wildest imagination. Goody....

They were getting out of date anyways, so I dusted off my prescription (which luckily hasn't expired yet) and ordered me a couple more from zennioptical.com. They make decent glasses, and I get to give Luxxotica the financial Up Yours at the same time.

I am in the process to finally do some credit card transitions, but obviously, this won't happen until AFTER I get my car replaced. I clearly would not want to risk any bumps on my credit before then, but hopefully before the end of the year, I can replace all my credit cards with a rewards credit card from my investment company, so all my accounts can sit and update neatly on my account and phone app. One card to rule them all.

Uh, so with all the Car fiasco I mean planning, I guess I finally figured out what I want to do with the rest of my Amazon money (that, once again, I deposited there to get the 5% bonus for my tax money). Believe it or not, but I had $1200+ in there at one point, but it's amazing how easy it is to fritter it away on odds and ends that I've been putting off for nearly a year. Still, there's enough in there to cover quite a bit of whatever upgrade expenses I may come up with for the new car soooo that's good I guess.

There's nothing I can do about this, but I just want to rant yet again about how dumb it is that our state will not allow us any withholdings now on our state tax. You're welcome, NC. You're welcome for your free personal loan that I have to mandatorily give out.

To add insult to injury, my employer makes a 5% mandatory contribution to my 401(k) on my behalf. There's no match and I don't even like the company that's managing it.

I guess I can't really complain though. I mean, if that's the extent of my financial troubles right now, I really do have it made. Cashflow is still positive. Net worth is still slowly but surely going up. I am still living well, and I even get to splurge once in a while.

Sooo yeah, life is good.

The morning after

May 2nd, 2014 at 08:38 pm

You ever say or do something and think it was such a great idea the night before, but the morning after, you wake up and think to yourself, "What was I thinking?!" Well, that's what I am thinking about me posting my previous post here.

As always, my mouth precedes my actions, and my foot clearly enjoys being stuffed in said mouth. That is not to say that I am not going to attempt to live in a car. However, there is a reasonable and natural progression of baby steps that should be taken to get there.

For instance, I still plan on getting a cargo van. However, once I get it, I am going to focus on using it for its original design first, which is to carry all the necessary work-related cargo items. They are scattered all about the house and in my current car. It would be wise to organize them all together into an one easy, accessible place, and bring it all with me in the cargo van.

After that, I need to get a feel of the interior dimensions of the vehicle. True, I already know what the numbers are in terms of square feet that I will be working with, but I hear that you just don't really know how something will be like until you step inside it yourself.

After that, maybe I can try to camp out of it overnight or something, while parked at the house. See what kind of minor details that needs to be addressed as it comes up. And if all else fails, I'll just go back inside the house. Big Grin

So on and so forth. Even if the experiment fails, I still need a vehicle for work, and the cargo van I have in mind will still serve handily for just about any task I have in mind (including any future DIY projects).

Soooo it's not totally crazy, even though my goal is certainly pretty crazy. Don't worry though. I'll be sure to take lots of pictures along the way for you guys to gawk and laugh at hahahah.

BONUS: Here's something humorous I found elsewhere.

40

May 2nd, 2014 at 12:08 am

This is the kind of post I somehow dread making, but here goes anyway. Some of you may or may not remember me, but while I have been horribly absent, I never really left. I just prefer to keep things low key seeing as how I was fairly certain people who are related to my ex were tracking me here, and as some of you regulars might recall, I was going through a fairly messy divorce and aftermath at the time.

So, I made a new identity here and assumed a quieter life, though once again, I also confess that I have not been as frugal or active here as I could have been either. So, in a way, it was an "easy" way out in more than one sense of the word.

However, as I approach 40 years of age.... Ugh, I hate saying that, but I have to face that I am just not as young as I used to be anymore, I am also about to embark on a new chapter of my life. One that can not directly link me to my other identity, as one of my co-workers found out about it, and uh, what I am about to do will have quite a lot to do with work....

So as I pondered creating yet another identity, I thought to myself, "This is ridiculous. Stop cluttering the blogs with your paranoid whackiness." Soo, that's why I am back to blogging here, under my original name, because I would think it's fairly safe by now to "recycle" this account instead.

So let me stop beating around the bush and say what I have in mind and why I am "back". For my 40th birthday, my parents have pledged to pitch in and help me buy a car to replace my current beater. I don't know why they are being so generous to me, but they are. I am forever grateful to my parents for this and all that they have done for me in the past. They have also stated that this will be the last time they will be helping me out with anything monetarily, and I understand completely. Knowing the value of this opportunity, I do not want to squander it.

Forty is supposedly when your car insurance drops even further, and as of this point, I am still single and will probably be so into the foreseeable future.

Add it all up, and I am 90% certain that I will finally make my move towards buying a vehicle to DIY into a mobile living space... as soon as some time this month. Bypass the entire deal with rent or mortgage. Just go cheap and be a vandweller.

Now, even amongst the frugal community, vandwellers don't exactly get the kind of support and understanding they may deserve, especially with those who do this voluntarily. Still, it makes sense for me to do this. My job simply does not allow tardiness. At all. (I work in a jail.) Even when there is severe inclement weather, I still have to be here to relieve the other shift, even if it means that I never leave in the first place.

Something else to consider is the fact that, earlier in April, a co-worker of mine wrecked his car and ended up in a hospital simply because he fell asleep. He broke his ankle, his rib cage, his nose, and shattered his knee when he front-ended a tree and the engine block landed in his lap.

The hours can be painfully long here sometimes. I surprised myself when I realized that I worked 122+ hours the last couple of weeks. And what's scary is that I know some have worked even more than that.

The solution here is easy as well, though is far from palatable: Simply don't leave work. Sure, the work place has about as much accommodations as any other office building, but it still beats wrapping my car around a tree.

And that's when my 2-watt lightbulb went off again. I thought, well, what if I just set up my next car so I can sleep in it? On top of all of these other reasons, I might also be able bypass any future rent and mortgage this way. And I will still be able to stay here if work or mother nature dictates that I not leave. It has happened before, and it will probably happen again. I can set up my vehicle to be as comfortable as my current bedroom, maybe more, AND I should be able to do it all with $20k or less.

In fact, the workplace here already has a free gym, and free showers, as well as free usage of bathrooms, 24/7. For vandwellers, this is something they grudgingly pay for with gym memberships, but I get it for free.

The downside is that the workplace does not have a set policy about people sleeping in their cars. I assume that management doesn't have an overwhelming issue with it, but once again, this is something I want to keep as low key as possible just to be on the safe side. Good or bad, a lot of my own money will be riding on this to work.

But at the same time, it's not a huge amount. In fact, it's well within the cost of even a regular car. So, it's not something I can't easily recover from if it doesn't work out. I will also be experimenting and easing into this slowly.

So that is why I am back. As BA. I'm getting old, but still just about as crazy, and I'm about to embark on my next misadventure in my life. Good or bad, feel free to come along for the ride, and maybe we can share a few good laughs about it along the way.

Just for the fun of it....

January 21st, 2013 at 02:45 pm

Hey gang. Is this thing on? Hello? Did my password work? I guess so!

So, uh, hey, how's everybody on here? Better than ever I hope.

Not that I expect anyone to remember me, but I remember you guys!

I'm still around, occasionally lurking and reading the blogs, though I admit not daily like I used to. I imagine that I've probably missed quite a bit.

So yeah, if you've got some free time (like me right now), feel free to leave me a comment about how your life is going. Would love to hear all about it!

As for me, I'm still around. Let's see. I'm working. I'm at work, slacking off while blogging. Haha.

I work out now. 4 to 5 days a week. Trying to get a handle on that because apparently, there is quite a bit involved. In particular, diet is a huge component, but it isn't easy to be frugal there. Especially if you also prefer the fresh, organic stuff.

Family is also puttering along. My parents are planning to retire some time this year. They say their finances are ready. I'm a bit skeptical but I have full faith in them.

I am still fumbling with the stock market, but I think I am on the verge of stopping so I can focus on my career more. Until then, Come on, NVDA! The story is great, and your growth potential is promising. Why can't you just go up already?!

Ahem.

So that's what's going on in my life. Overall, I have to admit that I am not as frugal as I used to be. Well, I am still monitoring my money of course, and trying to grow my net worth, but now I'm trying to be less uptight about money? Like, spending it when it matters, such as a healthier diet, minimal workout equipment, and work-related costs.

Oh and video games. Yes, it's horrible. I have a problem. Well, I still buy them when on sale, but I can quit anytime I want! Tomorrow maybe.

There is a part of me that feels kinda bad about not having been around for you guys in all these years. I hope nobody actually feels like, hey, this jerk abandoned us, and now he's back to post? Screw him! Actually, if anyone actually felt that way, I will totally understand, and I do apologize. I owe many of you a lot for helping me get through one of the darkest patch in my life.

How I feel about letting you guys down.

But most likely, I'm betting that most people won't even remember who I am. BA who? Whatever! In which case, my response is, "Good!" That is exactly who I am. Just another guy out there, struggling to stay on track. Life is just way too short and precious to go screw it up now. And that's all that I'm trying to do too. Keep it on track.

Aaaand I have to confess that, although I will always stay loyal to the frugal code, well, my interests currently lie elsewhere, but it does involve working on my career and improving income.

Anyways, it's time to put my snorkel back on and wade back into the sea of life. Before I disappear again, if anyone has any lingering, morbid questions for me or about me, then feel free to ask and I'll try to respond within the next few days.

Again, I hope all of you are doing well and will continue to do better. Thanks again for all your help. I am absent but haven't forgotten. Take care now!

Update: Since enough people have asked about my uh closet experience, I've decided to share a photo of it. Seriously though? That's what I am being remembered as? That crazy closet guy who lives in a closet? Not my many other adventureous exploits, heoric daring-do, or how I've saved all almost 15% by switching to Geico? This? Wow, I don't know what to make of you guys. Haha. Enjoy.

CR-48

December 10th, 2010 at 06:05 am

This isn't your every day freebie, but the prospects are quite interesting.

Google is basically looking for test users of their upcoming Chrome OS. To that end, they're giving out as many as 60,000 laptops FREE! This is what they look like:



True, it doesn't look like much, but frankly, I like the clean, untainted look; free from all those annoying stickers and gaudy plastic logos.

The catch?

1. First, you have to sign up.

2. You are not guaranteed of one.

3. If you do get one, you have to be willing to help them test it and send feedback.

If you like technology, if you're online quite a bit, and you don't mind trying something that isn't fully polished and is still in Beta, feel free to sign up!

Free land

December 2nd, 2010 at 07:42 am

Not the usual, everyday freebies you hear, but evidently, there's free land out there!

The down side? Most are open land with little or no municipal services, and all of them are areas in need of "revitalization".

Still though, it's interesting to read about at the very least.

It's good to be prepared

November 23rd, 2010 at 12:36 pm

This morning, as I got into the car to leave for work, I noticed that my glasses was feeling particularly loose. I took it off to examine it, and realized that a screw was missing and one of the lenses was about to fall out.

I put it down on the passenger seat, grabbed my spare pair out of the glove compartment, put it on, and continued on to work.

Sounds rather uneventful, right? Right. And that was exactly the point. Years ago, I had foreseen how I could be screwed without a working pair of glasses. So, when I had an afternoon free, I got myself an eye exam and paid for an extra pair of glasses. And to make sure that I would always have access to it, I stored it the car, where it stayed for all these years... until today.

I like being prepared, and it's always nice when something you spent time and money on actually pays off.

Now to look for the missing screw when I get home.

Facebook integration

November 17th, 2010 at 06:29 am

Mighty slick addition on here!

Facebook is everywhere nowadays. I also heard a rumor that they're starting "Fmail" soon; something to compete with Google's Gmail. If free email and Facebook integration sounds interesting to you, get ready to click fast and snap up your own Fmail name!

I'm haven't blogged recently, but that's mostly because not much is going on to begin with. However, I'm still thinking hard about my personal finances. Everyday, in fact.

More and more, I think it's really sinking in how my biggest financial obstacle is simply a place to live. The rest, I can work out SOMETHING, but not housing.

For a single bachelor, it has dawned on me that, really, my best bet is probably just to rent an apartment somewhere. Yes, it's hardly the ideal solution, but in terms of total cost, it seems to come out cheaper than buying. Again, that's for a single bachelor who is not afraid to limit himself to just a bathroom and a bedroom somewhere.

Still, I can't help but wonder if there are not any other alternative options out there?

Oh, and for fun, here are some quirky, tall but thin buildings.

snapgoods.com

November 3rd, 2010 at 09:02 am

I'm not a part of this, but I do want to pass on this interesting and provocative idea.

Basically, people sign on this website and loan each other stuff for a price. In other words, if you have stuff but you don't use it all the time, you can loan it out and make a little bit of money. Conversely, if you need something only occasionally, and wish you could just rent it instead of paying full price to buy it, you can do so with a site like this.

Again though, I'm not a part of this, and haven't tried this out myself. So, I can't be sure how well this works, and how it compares with some retail shops that offer similar goods and services. Still, it's an interesting idea.

Pumpkin stats

October 19th, 2010 at 01:19 pm

Not really financially-related, but very interesting just the same.

Dave Ramsey's house

October 19th, 2010 at 05:32 am

I stumbled across an interesting article showing Dave Ramsey's new house. It's quite palatial! According to the article, it appears that good ole Dave paid it in full with cash. Big Grin

The dumbest stock

October 18th, 2010 at 01:22 pm

When asked what was the dumbest stock Warren Buffett ever bought, do you know what he said? Surprisingly, he said his own company, Berkshire Hathway!

Here's the whole article, by the way.

For those who want a quick synopsis, he was infuriated with the then-CEO, and bought a majority share of the company to get him fired. That's how he also became the head of Berkshire Hathway.

However, had he thought it through more clearly, and started out with the insurance company that he had wanted in the first place (Geico?), rather than a down-trodden textile company (just to get one man fired), then he say his financial empire would be worth $200 billion today!

In a nutshell, it's best to keep emotions out of investing and trading. Let the numbers do the talking. That being said though, I have to give old man Buffett respect for being able to point out his own mistakes. Even the best are only human.

On a separate but related note, here's a funny comic I came across. Buy! Buy! Sell! Sell!

Everything you need to know about personal finance

October 14th, 2010 at 08:20 am

This gave me a chuckle.

Luxottica

October 8th, 2010 at 08:18 am

Do you wear glasses? Do you plan on buying sunglasses anytime soon? Ever heard of a company called Luxottica? If not, please read on.

Luxottica is an Italian company that makes glasses and sunglasses. What makes them a big deal? I've read unsubstantiated reports that the company may control as much as 80% of all brand-name glasses and sunglasses manufactured in the world. But with the companies they hold, I wouldn't be surprised if it turns out to be true. Ever heard of these?

* OAKLEY
* RAYBAN
* COLE VISION
* PEARLE VISION
* LENSCRAFTERS
* EYEMED VISION CARE
* SUNGLASS HUT
* AVANT GARDE OPTICS

Now, why is this important to fruggies? Through all these companies, Luxottica effectively has a global monopoly on brand-name glasses and sunglasses. And because of this monopoly, we get the privilege to pay through the nose for all of these brand names. Up to $300 just for a wire frame? You've got to be kidding me!

So, if you care about your wallets, I would recommend avoiding any and all Luxottica companies. They don't compete with each other for price. They essentially ARE the same company.

Now, what alternatives do we have? I've gone to Walmart for a pair of glasses before, and they're OK. I've also been recommended Zenni Optical and I'll probably get my next pair there. I can't believe they have fancy memory frames for no more than $25! They can also craft you a sunglasses if you desire.

- - - - -

The following is an addendum for investors.

Obviously, with a company like this, I had to check out their stock. LUX is a solid blue chip with a 1.75% yield. However, it's an ADR for me, and has a pretty low trading volume. What's worse, the options market is next to non-existent. Even for dividend investors, it seems like you can do better with domestic blue chips. I would pass on this one, though interestingly enough, Georgio Armani seems to like it. He (or the company under his name) owns like 5%!

Cooling down

October 5th, 2010 at 05:28 am

Wow, wasn't it just a day or two ago that the temperature was still in the 90s? Not that I'm complaining though. I MUCH prefer the cooler weather. I just didn't think it would drop so suddenly.

Last night, it was cool enough for me to break out my winter pajamas. And even then, it was still cold enough that I woke up again and had to get the winter blanket.

I had forgotten how much of a light sleeper I really am. I remember just how difficult it was for me to get it.

Anyways, I am already thinking about how to get through this winter. Something more effective than last winter. I am not sure what though, but I'm going to look into it.

On a napkin

October 4th, 2010 at 09:19 am

Personal finance charts and graphs on a napkin.

What We Pay For

October 1st, 2010 at 01:41 pm

interesting website on the Federal budget.

Sep 2010 networth

September 30th, 2010 at 07:56 am

My net worth went up by about 2.8%. A third of it is from savings, and the rest are from trading.

Calculating my net worth has now gotten tricky, due to the options trading aspect of it. It's never going to be entirely accurate (since the contracts are in limbo), but there's no need to get too serious about net worth calculations anyway.

Garden Pool

September 29th, 2010 at 01:04 pm

This is interesting. Someone turned their old swimming pool into a self-sustaining greenhouse. According to the website, they get unlimited tilipia fish, about 8 eggs, veggies, and herbs daily!



Check it out!

Warning about Clear wireless

September 29th, 2010 at 10:22 am

I blogged about switching to Clear wireless before, and I just found out that they have a 8gb limit. This may or may not be a problem, but for me, it definitely is. This is currently my only source of net access, and despite advertising that it's "unlimited", it turns out that it effectively is?

Suffice to say, I have to move fast and re-consider my options.

The nature of frugality

September 27th, 2010 at 12:29 pm

Once in a while, I will get questions like, "What do you like to do? What are your goals or ambitions? Do you even have hobbies?" When pressed, I often times tell them that my hobby is saving money. It's the truth, and yet, I will get quizzical looks in return.

I guess it's understandable in that the nature of frugality is paradoxical in many ways. It's not like chopping down a tree, where you would see a lot of physical effort being exerted with a concrete end-result. Rather, it's largely mental.

In short, I think frugality is meditative. Unlike many other activities, the goal is largely achieved through deliberate and decisive inaction. And it's not even self-deprivation really. It's also a way to search within yourself what is really important to you in this world, and focusing your money towards those things.

But I also want to stress that frugality isn't literally doing nothing either. Like many others, my money is limited too, and sometimes, I have to get very creative about making the budget stretch. Creativity, I think, is the hallmark of any true fruggie. It's not about blasting something with more money until it works. It's about being savvy, being determined, and minimizing frivolous waste.

Alas, for a man in a western society, this sort of quality is not often noticed. In many ways, my life would be simpler if I was a lumberjack, chopping trees. But... that would not be me.

And besides, I can't imagine why there would be anything more important than building actual financial safety. Do people really not know just how much of a financial danger they are in? Thin ice and egg shells does not a sound foundation make, and yet, many seems content building their house and future on it....

In the end, I will continue to do what I do because I know in my heart this is the right thing to do. When you know that, it doesn't matter what anybody else thinks.

Still though, I guess it wouldn't hurt to try out a hedge trimmer eh? It's not quite the same as a chainsaw, but at least it will get the HoA off my back. Big Grin

How much do Americans save?

September 23rd, 2010 at 01:13 pm

According to this interesting but large chart, the average American household saves only $2400 a year, or $200 a month. Also, only 41% save regularly. Wow.

5 self-made female billionaires

September 23rd, 2010 at 06:01 am

For some reason, I found this article interesting, not so much because they are women (though more power to you ladies), but because of the wide variety of pursuits that lead to their wealth. I mean, think about it:

One of them runs a day time talk show.
One of them opened a bunch of clothing stores.
One of them is a real estate developer in China.
One of them is in marketing for a hugely successful dot com.
One of them is an author of a highly popular book series.

So, let's deconstruct this down one more step and examine their activities. What do they actually DO to make their billions?

One of them hosts a television show.
One of them sell clothes.
One of them develop real estate.
One of them does marketing for a website.
One of them write.

Let's go down one more step to the quintessential activity:

Talk.
Sell.
Sell.
Market.
Write.

Broken down to this level, I think there's an emerging common theme. Basically, you want to connect and sell products and services to a large group of people. Connect and sell.

So, how does any of that translate to me? Sadly, I'm not a great communicator I don't think. And yet, I would like to think that this blog, for example, has a pretty decent reach as far as personal blogs go. So, some way, some how, even a guy like me can "connect" if I persist long enough....

But what about the sell part? I guess that's my biggest stumbling block. I have no idea what I could or would even want to offer to the general populace. The advice not to trade stocks? Big Grin I have no idea.

Well, it's amusing to contemplate anyways. What do you think? Either way, hope you enjoyed the article.


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