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Archive for August, 2009

You're a frugal if....

August 30th, 2009 at 09:44 pm

While reading some financial stuff elsewhere, it occurred to me just how a frugal person can be so distinctly different from a non-frugal. Not in a "I'm better than you" sort of way (although I admit I do think frugality is a better way of living), but... I'm just musing how because we are different, I sometimes forget that not everyone is like us.

For example, I believe frugal people actually enjoy doing their budget. I know I do. But it's easy to forget that many people find it daunting, or at the very least boring.

Another example is that hunting bargains and even clipping coupons may scratch a certain itch that non-frugals may not possess. It gets us rubbing our hands together, perhaps even doing a victory dance, while non-frugals think we've fell off our rockers.

Yet another example is that non-frugals only find joy in spending I think. Therefore, saving and even investing is often times seen as a lamentable exercise in necessary evil rather than giving one warm, fuzzy vibes.

Last but not least, I think frugals might find all this to be "perfectly normal" while the rest of the world may think of us as odd or even extreme. For example, I think debt is generally a "bad thing", best to be avoided unless it can't be helped, or it somehow pays back even more (such as a cash-back credit card). Non-frugal people may think that having debt is as normal and American as apple pie and Fourth of July. Yuck.

That said, I don't consider myself as a natural frugal though. I think there are some people who just seem to have a knack for this, and therefore, didn't have to "train" to become frugal. I, on the other hand, had to be re-born and taught from scratch. But at least I'm on the path now eh? It's also heartening to know that anyone can learn to be frugal, even if they didn't start out that way.

So, do you think there are differences between frugals and non-frugals, and if so, what other distinctions do you think there are?

Aug 09 net worth

August 28th, 2009 at 05:45 am

It's that time of the month again. Big Grin

Currently, I have only four categories when working with net worth: Cash, 401(k), Rollover IRA, and Roth IRA. Thankfully, having so few and having them all being assets makes it both easy and a joy to work with.

I know that can't last, and that's why I am enjoying it while I still can. Big Grin

So, this month, I thought I was going to get hit by a raft of irregular expenses, but I was wrong. It's getting pushed back to September, so this month has been a surprisingly good month.

Well, this month's market performance has been literally flat, so the uptick is driven mostly by cash savings that, again, I thought was going to be used to pay for irregular expenses.

In any case, expenses are definitely coming up for the month of September and possibly October, so I think my "pretty months" for the year has probably come to an end.

$1K craze

August 26th, 2009 at 08:47 am

So how does this work anyways? You just list stuff that have costed you at least $1k?

If so, well, my list is pretty short I think.

My whole PC setup, including the monitor and home theater speakers is well, um ahem, it's closer to $2k actually. BUT, let me add that I had to build from scratch, and this time, it's with future upgrades in mind. So, should not cost that much into the near future.

My mattress is actually $1k. Yeah, believe it or not. I bought one of those premium ones that is suppose to last like 30 years, and after crunching some numbers, it actually came out to be the better value, and with a better quality bed! Assuming that it does last that long....

I guess my car and my college tuition bill if you want to count that. But both are paid off.

Annnnd, that's it!

Ok, so apparently I am not doing this right. The above is my post-divorce, frugal list. So, what you are seeing in this section would be my pre-divorce non-frugal list.

House - $170k
New station wagon - $17k
New Apple desktop - $3k
Three new Apple laptops - $4k
Two new PC desktop - $3k
New furniture for the house - $3k
SelectComfort air bed set - $2k
Various firearms - $3k

I'm sure there is more to this, but that's all I can think of right now. Does her ring count? Anyways, we sure loved computers back then, didn't we? I still do, and she probably does too. Yeah, it was interesting that I was with someone who liked computers perhaps as much if not more than I do. Equally surprising is how conservative I am today about computers, especially when you consider how much I like them.

One quick thing about the firearms. I've swapped them in and out over the years, and by the time we separated, I've sold it all and probably at a slight loss. So, yeah, I spent a lot on it, but... I recovered most of it as well.

Also noteworthy is that it was all acquired by going into debt! Yeah, pretty much all of it. However, everything in my first list was bought up front, paid in full with money I saved first.

Can market inefficiencies be exploited?

August 26th, 2009 at 07:42 am

This is kind of stock-trading talk, but it's also something that I think will interest serious investors as well.

Question: Can market inefficiencies be exploited?

Better question: Do I know anyone that can?

Even better question: Can *I* exploit it?

Short answer: I highly doubt it. Frown

That's the sad but short truth. Now, for those who are still interested, please read on.

Imagine a deceptively simple and seemingly "sure-fire" premise. You see something that is currently running for a very low price, what do you do? You buy it. You see something that is currently running for a very high price, what do you do? You sell or short it.

Buy low. Sell (or short) high. Simple right?

So, why are so many smart people having such a hard time with this seemingly simple concept?

The more I learn, the more I am realizing the following: Most people don't know where the lows and the highs are. And for that matter, we don't know if current lows could go lower, or if current highs could go higher.

At least, not I.

And when you think about it, most trading strategies have to do with covering the possibility of a trade going wrong. Risk mitigation. Or is that loss mitigation? There's a difference there.

But to answer my own second question, the only person who I can think of that can seem to beat the market is Warren Buffett. I even have a link in this blog, linking to a white paper that claims he isn't just lucky.

So what is he doing that makes him succeed where everyone else has failed? After all, everybody knows about value investing by now. A whole lot of smart people are practicing it. So, why not others? Why only Warren? I don't know.

If you're wondering what brought this up, consider this interview with Jeremy Grantham of GMO investing. When you read that article, you get the sense that he is indeed a pretty smart man and he talks a lot of sense. Now consider this rebuttal by Larry Swedroe of Buckingham Family Financial Services.

Granted the rebuttal itself is not without some criticism, but if Swedroe is correct, then why is Grantham himself isn't able to exploit the market based on that simple premise? Yes, the same premise as my own that I am hoping to exploit?

I think it's not so much that zigging when everybody is zagging isn't a bad idea. But rather, the problem is we really can't tell when the market is zigging or zagging at all. Even when the valuations seem so "obvious".

Well, either way, I am still not fully convinced that this is impossible. I mean, even if it is, I'd like to keep trying for now. But peering into others who are obviously smarter and more experienced than I am, and yet having just as much of a hard time with the same basic thesis I'm using, it does give one pause.

AT&T is diving me nuts

August 26th, 2009 at 07:10 am

I got my first bill with AT&T. I pay all my bills online. With AT&T, this shouldn't be a problem.

But it is.

In order to access my online account, I need either the last 4 digits of my social security # and my zip code, or my PIN number.

My social security # isn't listed in my account yet because this is my first time. I don't have PIN because I'm paperless (unless they plan on sending the first one which has not arrived yet).

I call up their support hotline. The automated voice message is buggy. Yes, a telecom giant with a buggy automated hotline! I got hung up three times. What in the world?

I finally manage to get through, and this poor lady is having a hard time routing me. And when it finally routes me through, the automated voice support tells me to go visit their website.

What the heck? And when I check online FAQs, it tells me to check the printed bill!

What kind of crazy operation is this? The DSL is great, but this is ridiculous! Seriously, I'm tempted to disconnect on general principle. And I WANT to pay them! This is insane.

Crazy trading quickies

August 25th, 2009 at 08:24 am

I know not everyone is interested in this stuff, but this is what's going through my head right now, and I'm always curious as to what some of you think about this. I'll also try not to ramble.

* India's affluence is shooting up, and so is their investment sector. I heard that some India's investment ETFs have quintupled. Crazy. And the only way to top that? I think there's still upside to it. So, how crazy am I for thinking this?

* The sugar commodity has had a huge run, no thanks to drought that has artificially driven up prices to all-time highs. Am I crazy for thinking I should short this?

* Speaking of shorting, I've never shorted anything in my life. And I'm thinking it's time that I at least learn how and add that to my tool box.

But of course, this also involves going into options trading, which I've generally avoided. Am I crazy for considering converting my Roth account into an Options account?

* Guess who's back?
Back again?
Tell a friend.

Congrats on your second term!

* Finally, volatility continues to fall, and in fact, is headed towards early 2008 levels. I think that's a good sign, but it's not time to celebrate just yet, because if you put it in context, the entire 2008 was kind of abnormal.

Money need lovin' too

August 24th, 2009 at 08:30 am

I was hanging out with this particular friend of mine again. You know who. But you know what? He wasn't even remotely bothersome this time around. He really is a cool guy when we're by ourselves and he's doesn't get uptight about competing for women or something.

Anyways, he was talking about how he met this woman he is completely not attracted to, but she appears to be interested in him, and she also makes a lot of money.

Unfortunately, my friend is very financially-challenged. In fact, he's currently unemployed, living on student loans while he's back in school. Well, anyways, he was asking me if he should "go for it" for the sake of money.

Of course, you know how I feel about stuff like this, but I also don't believe in telling people how to live their lives. So instead, I asked him, "Well, what do you think she would want you to do in return for fondling her money?" ("Fondling her money" was his words in the question, not mine.) He shuddered and said, "Yeah, no, that ain't gonna work." Big Grin

I think the more interesting point here is that there's this running stereotype that only women like men with money, but it goes both ways. I think, in general, the more someone desires something that they themselves don't have, the more they are attracted to those who have it.

Anyway, he brought up about starting up a smoothie shop again. And he's starting to admit that he's worried about money. Very peculiar, you know, for someone who says that money is evil. Anyways, I don't think or at least remember him saying that he's actually worried about money before. Anyways, he basically came out and asked me if I would be interested in getting a business loan. He figures $70k or so should do it.

Um, do what?

Usually, we just day dream about stuff like this, or what to do with winning the lottery, or some other amusing topic, but hmm, I think he's actually serious this time. Seriously though? I don't want to go into debt, betting it all on a business plan that, so far, only involves "finding a good location" and "re-renovating". Especially in this recession. Seriously, wow, that's crazy.

But I didn't want to be rude and step on his dreams or anything. So, I basically told him that my credit is still bad right now, which was true.

Index index everywhere

August 22nd, 2009 at 01:13 pm

In keeping with the humorous joke that there is an index for everything, here's an interesting way to look at the differences in purchasing power.

The Big Mac index

Edit: Wow, just found out that this index has been around since 1986! Interesting!

Useless money

August 21st, 2009 at 01:56 pm

Multiple posts today, but I can't resist sharing this picture. It really brings home the definition of useless paper money.

Staying frugal

August 21st, 2009 at 10:48 am

You know, there is a lot of articles out there on how to be frugal, but there doesn't seem to be as much talk about staying frugal. Like, why would anyone want to STAY frugal?

Well, it might sound like a crazy question, but if you think about it, that's the biggie isn't it? Because like most anything else in life, frugality only works best when you can stick with it.

So how does one STAY frugal? Um, I'm not sure! How about you, what do you think?

Well, I can tell you why I am still frugal, despite having been debt-free and with the net worth chugging along. The simple truth? Well, I'll tell you....


Yeah, when it's all said and done, it basically comes down to that.... Because, look, we've all done the numbers on here, and we all know what it takes to achieve any sense of financial freedom.

And for most people, that number is actually pretty big. And I don't mean a fancy life either. Think about how much a house costs, and how much cars cost per year, and basically just trying to create a living for yourself.

And that's assuming that I will keep working without problems into the foreseeable future. Heaven forbid if I run into an accident that leaves me physically disabled or I become ill and am hospitalized for a long period of time.

And if I'm lucky? Maybe I'll even be able to work towards having passive income to replace my active income, which will eventually become necessary as I get closer towards retirement.

As you can imagine, once you know the true amount that is needed to achieve financial freedom... you can't put that genie back in the bottle.

So, even though I am doing fine right now, I am not so delusional as to think that I've got it made. Far from it. And that's why I am as focused as ever to maintain frugality and financial progress.

Some people might think I'm being overly-cautious, but I disagree. The best time to prepare for potential problems is when everything is fine and you can afford to, not when it's about to strike or is already upon you.

And if I'm wrong? Well, having a little bit too much money is the kind of problem I wouldn't mind having. Big Grin

Of course, running on pure fear isn't healthy, and I do enjoy the process as well. But anyways, now you know why I am still frugal, and still here. And now you'll also know why I'll never fall off the frugality bandwagon.

So, how about you? I'm really interested to know what keeps you frugal? How do YOU do it?

Turning point

August 20th, 2009 at 11:19 am

I am seeing this question pop up elsewhere, and since we also seem to have several new people, I thought it would be fun to ask again, "What made you turn frugal?"

And since I asked first, I guess I'll also answer my own question. My ex-wife and I were $330k in debt and our combined income at the time did not add up to more than $40k a year. Our monthly budget was so tight that, at the rate we were going, we were literally two months from eviction. I'm sure my ex would disagree, but I kid you not we were in very bad shape.

So yes, it was complete and utter fear that drove me to frugality. I tried to turn the ship around, but my ex somehow interpreted that as me not loving her or something, which eventually lead to my divorce that by now I'm sure the regulars here are tired of hearing. Big Grin

Of course, I'm still here, not out of fear anymore, but because it makes a whole lot of darn good sense. Yes, it still represents a peace of mind that I seek, but frugality is a critical component to any plans towards financial wellness.

Oh, and I am forever grateful to those who have helped me get to where I am today. I wouldn't have been here if it weren't for you guys. Thanks again, gang!

So, what about you? What was your turning point towards frugality?

What a difference a year makes

August 19th, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Stock-related, but more general speak.

Overall, I'm just so surprised at the turnaround in financial sentiment. Seriously, it's only been a year to a year and a half going from "frugality is icky" to "frugality is chic". Even teenagers are getting in on the simpler life. And that's a great thing.

However, there also seems to be a new kind of pessimism as well. A certain sense that the government or the economy or something has somehow betrayed them. And if they are wise and mature, they will also realize that we consumers are just as much to blame for our own actions.

Regardless of the finger pointing though, it seems much harder now to "sell" the idea of actually BUYING into the market for example. "Oh, look at how the market has failed us." Ugh. Whatever happened to the good old days of just trying to convince people to be more frugal? Big Grin

Ah well, despite my currently bearish outlook, I'm still going to keep buying into the market. In the end, there are still a lot of good companies out there that is still going for a pretty good price.

I could be wrong about the stock market of course, and end up losing a bunch of money. But I also think it's important to be able to see beyond what's right in front of our noses. There's great opportunities to be had!

The Nice Guy Paradox

August 18th, 2009 at 03:54 pm

Completely non-financially related, but a popular and controversial topic on the internet (at least amongst younger men).

Here's the link, and it's a brisk and succint read.

Now, do I agree with this? Not exactly. However, I am a guy, so it doesn't carry much weight in such discussion. Fortunately for me, since there are many women on here, and I'd be interested to hear what you think of it.

Thanks in advance!

Loan sharkin'

August 18th, 2009 at 08:57 am

A co-worker asked me if I had change earlier for the vending machine. I said I only had a little bit, and gave him what I had.

About an hour later, he came back saying he didn't need my change. However, he gave me a penny more than what I gave him. I told him that, but he said to just go ahead and keep it.

Hey, money's money and that still works out better than some of the stock trades I've made in the past. Big Grin

Expense ratios matter

August 17th, 2009 at 09:30 am

So, I've been tinkering with this retirement calculator. I changed the years to 30, but left everything else alone. The good news is that I have 100% chance of success! Great!

However, if I up the expense ratio to 1%, my percentages falls down to 96%, and at 2% ER, it my chances fall down some more to 91%.

Sure, it's only an arbitrary retirement calculator, but it's enough to show that your expense ratio do make a difference!

The Gambler's Fallacy

August 17th, 2009 at 07:10 am

Not really stock-related talk, but just wanted to say something quick about probabilities.

In an earlier entry, I've talked about the Monty Hall problem. On the flip side of the coin-- gee, aren't I clever-- there is also something called the Gambler's Fallacy.

Anyways, what both of these mathematical fallacies point out is that, in order to understand your true probabilities, you have to have the correct grasp of the problem itself.

For example, if you want to flip a coin three times in a row with heads, then yes, your probability will be 1 in 8. However, if you've already flipped a coin twice and got heads, then your probability of getting a head with your third flip is in fact 1 in 2.

As you can imagine, this sort of thinking is vital when it comes to assessing stock trades, or really, anything in life. Because the fundamental lesson is to make sure we understand the true context of the question before we can ever hope for an answer. Or at the very least, it's fun to talk about. Big Grin

Eventful lives

August 16th, 2009 at 06:52 pm

Wow, reading the blogs lately, it seems like everyone is having rather eventful lives, though sadly, not all are over good news.

So, I guess I feel kind of lucky that not much is happening to me, because no news is better than bad news!

Well, there is one piece of bad news. My car broke down again. Something wrong with ignition. Starter or faulty wiring maybe. Not sure.

We took it to someone and thought it's fixed. Within 24 hours, it died again. My mom has a friend who is a really good mechanic, and I hope he can fix it sometime this coming week.

Either way, at 192,000 miles, it's time to think about a car replacement fund. I have been lazily working on one, but I think I better push up the priority on it.

For giggles, I did look into Cash for Clunkers, but alas, I don't qualify. It would appear that Corollas are just too fuel efficient.

Ah well, I'm really hoping the car will last at least another year or so. Hopefully, I'll have the funds to replace it by then.

Electric update update

August 14th, 2009 at 05:51 am

My electric bill just came in, and in the last month, I've used 499 kWh and cost $61.98.

During the same time in 2008, I've used 1192 kWh, and cost $125.77.

In 2007, I've used 955 kWh, and cost $100.87.

Also, notice how the cost per kWh has gone up. In 2007 and 2008, the cost was roughly $0.10 per kWh. This year, that cost went up to about $0.12 per kWh. That translates to 20% increase in my electric bill! 20%!

Despite the rate hike, I am still saving $40 to $60 in this one month alone! I have to say that the switch to room AC has been a smashing success.

According to the usage history, I have another good month to go for the summer heat, but because it has proven itself by now, I won't be making any more updates on it.

I love it when a plan comes together!

Net worth correction

August 10th, 2009 at 07:53 am

Oooh, I just realized that I forgot to add my current 401(k) to my net worth! How's that for passive investing? Big Grin

I wish I could remember what the numbers were in the past, so I could retro-actively update my previous entries. Alas, I do not, so July has a very nice bump to it.

While I'm here, I kind of wish Networth IQ would allow us to create, delete, and label our own assets and liabilities. For example, I would love to have one for 401(k), one for rollover, and one for Roth. Unfortunately, this isn't possible so I am substituting annuities for my 401(k) because I'm not going to have an annuity anytime soon. Big Grin

Maybe I'll go hit networth IQ up with an email, and maybe even look for alternatives. Anyone have any suggestions? How are you tracking your net worth?


August 10th, 2009 at 06:57 am

So, I was hanging out with this crazy friend of mine again. Yes, the one that I am trying to minimize contact with. He's gotten a lot better... or maybe it's because I've seen him less often.

Anyways, he appears to be fairly involved with the Jehovah's Witnesses. We always end up talking about money, and again, he brought up how the lust of money is evil. (Yes, that guy.) And I said that I agree, and therefore, could never understand why people pursue money strictly for money sake. Rather, money is only a means to get through life, and perhaps to even pursue our hopes and dreams. He seems to be OK with that secular point-of-view.

But in the same conversation, he also lamented about how he wants one of those new iPhone 3GS. Hmm? I thought Jehovah's Witness was against materialism and temptations? Or maybe current generation smartphones are OK? I tried to ask him about it, but all I got was how he doesn't like to carry two devices like me. Even after I pointed that it will cost him much more money in the end. And why specifically iPhones? Why not... a Blackberry or Palm Pre?

Now, for those who are Jehovah's Witnesses, please understand that I am not knocking against the religion. All I am saying is that I have a crazy friend who seems to have his own selective interpretation of the "gospel truth". What's more worrisome (for his sake) is that the selection is only used to reinforce only what he wants to believe in while dispensing the rest, rather than to help him open his mind.

Maybe I am being too critical of my friend here, but I also have other friends who does not make me scratch my head like this. Well, whatever it is, I think I need to keep avoiding him (because of a lot of other stuff that he believes that is not related to finances).


August 9th, 2009 at 10:07 pm

There are a lot of wonderful podcasts out there, and I probably don't even know most of them.

But for those who may be new to podcasts, they are basically audio talk segments that you can download off the internet. In the simplest terms, radio-on-demand!

There are lots of ways to grab podcasts, but the easiest way, I think, is to simply download and install iTunes, and then subscribe from their online store. Most of it is free!

This gets even better when you have an iPod of some kind that you can download and listen to it. I know it's crazy, but I actually prefer to jog to NPR's market place than listen to music. More importantly, I don't always catch their morning market report on my drive to work, and this really helps me get up to speed.

Other noteworthy podcasts include a section from Kiplinger, Vanguard has a section as well, and there's this personal finance woman named Money Girl if you prefer something more personal.

What's more, if you're the adventurous type, you can also create your own podcast content, but I won't go into that here since it veers off from personal finance topic. I've toyed with the idea of creating my own personal finance podcasts before, but I'm having a hard time coming up with ideas for content. I mean, it's hard enough just to think of stuff to write about on the blog!

Although podcasts have been around for a long time, it wasn't until more recently, when trying to stay caught up on market news that I've really latched on podcasts. They have completely changed the way I view radio just as Hulu and Netflix has changed the way I view television.

Are there any podcasts that you listen to?

Abstruse Goose

August 9th, 2009 at 09:22 am

Just found something funny from Abstruse Goose. Maybe "funny" isn't a good word for it because some might be going through something similar and hit too close to home. But the author is specifically poking jabs at himself and his lack of preparation more than anything.

What I find particularly interesting in that comic is that he stuck "IRA withdraw" above using credit card. Yikes! But eh, it's a comic, and you can't take it too seriously.

Here's a bonus comic that you guys might find amusing.

Bored but blissful

August 7th, 2009 at 02:16 pm

Wow, it sure is hard to blog when you have a boring life. Big Grin Everything is going smoothly, I am (currently) drama-free, and so, I just don't know what else there is to say?

I hope to have many more days like this.


August 4th, 2009 at 04:42 pm

You know, it's funny. I am starting to not remember the drowning, crushing sensation of being neck deep in debt and feeling hopeless in terms of my financial future. Don't get me wrong though. I still worry about money, but only as much as it makes sense to do so.

However, I am reminded of the despair earlier today when I was talking to a couple of co-workers of mine. One told me how the spouse likes to control all the money (even though this co-worker is interested in the budget, good with numbers, and is a conservative spender). The other co-worker is having serious issues about the spouse hiding debts from this co-worker because the spouse is afraid of a divorce due to money troubles after being recently laid off. And the debt amount is huge too....

Yes, I'm deliberately using gender-neutral terminology here. Big Grin But that's because, believe me, it can happen both ways.

Both co-workers make reasonably more money than I do, but here's what kind of blows my mind. Relative to the level of money issues they have at home, and the amount of debt they have to deal with, they actually keep much, much less than I do! Nevermind that, it doesn't seem like they have any financial peace at all!

Wow. Of course, hearing their stories brought back a flood of memories about my own trials and tribulations, but then it occurred to me just how lucky I am right now. They're the past! I no longer have headaches and twitching eyes due to stress and depression over my financial future.

On a related note, I decided to check out payscale.com to see if I am indeed making as little as I am. Much to my shock, I am actually above the high range of my profession! Seriously, I think payscale.com might be shooting a bit low there.

Now, that doesn't mean I still make bank or anything like that, but I guess I can't really complain too much either.... For now, it would seem that I am doing better than my poor co-workers, who are really are good people and I feel bad about the position they are in.

I think it also shows that the recession is far from over. Certainly not on a personal level.

Still turning a corner

August 3rd, 2009 at 06:19 pm

So, my parents stopped by again. This time, they wanted to set my dad's trading account password. (They forgot what it was and had to reset it with a temporary password.)

In the process, I also got a chance to see his two stock positions, Citigroup and Home Depot. Home Depot is -22% and Citigroup is -93%. Wow.

They've pulled the rest of their money out except for those two stocks, because they believe that so long as you don't sell, the loss is only on paper.

This is true. And this is often times what I've had to tell myself from selling when I shouldn't be selling.

But you know what? Sometimes, if you still need to sell according to your investing style and risk tolerance, you might as well sell. Because, even when a loss is on paper, it will still have that much more for your positions to recover, much less make a gain.

Again, that's only if your investment style and risk tolerance has changed. If not, then I say "full speed ahead". That said, theirs have clearly changed.

However, I didn't tell them anything. It was tough enough just to explain the Vanguard index funds to them, and to get their passwords reset.

Honestly, they should let me manage it. Big Grin Oh well, whatever is going on, it's very clear that these two stocks are only a fraction of their entire portfolio. They certainly don't act worried. So, I'm sure their nest egg is bigger than what I am aware of.

Turning a corner

August 2nd, 2009 at 05:02 pm

Wow. My parents just stopped by to specifically ask me about retirement investing. I couldn't believe it, especially from my dad. He's never done that before, so he must be serious. He's been really disgusted with the way his Citigroup stock has performed so far.

He's even out-right stated that he's not really interested in researching stocks and keeping up with the market, so he's looking for something maintenance-free. I immediately steered them towards Vanguard's index funds. I really do think that it will suit them the best.

I wrote down some contact numbers for them so they can get their ID and password from their old investment company, along with Vanguard's contact numbers to do the fund transfers. They said they'll take care of it tomorrow.

I really feel good about all this. It's not just the fact that I've been worried about my parents' retirement nest eggs, but the fact that they're actually listening to me! Wow! You have to understand that, even though I am their son, my advice is essentially flying against the face of everything else that my dad's friends and even his brother (my uncle) has told them. So, for him to actually go with my idea... well, it's an amazing compliment. Of course, it also "helps" that they've already lost a substantial amount after listening to them....

But wow, yeah! My parents are moving (part of) their nest egg to Vanguard! Woohoo!