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Archive for September, 2010

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:


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.

Canceled DSL

September 21st, 2010 at 08:27 am

I've been dragging my lazy feet canceling my home DSL, but partly because I wanted to make sure this 4G hot spot idea I've blogged about was going to work.

Good news! So far so good. Luckily, my coverage at home is OK, even if the speed is not as fast or reliable as DSL. And anyway, it's also $10 a month cheaper.

On the go, my coverage is, well, honestly it's spotty. However, the fact that I can even get 4G internet on the go is just gravy, and I am also doing it without having a cellphone bill.

And with that, I finally canceled my home DSL. I love lowering my monthly bills!

All-in covered calls

September 20th, 2010 at 08:45 am

Today is the day my option contracts expire, and I can write more.

Again, my entire trading strategy right now is that I have no idea what the market is going to do for the next month, so I might as well be a vendor and just sell contracts instead of attempting to speculate in the market.

However, that is not to say that being a seller is dull, and I walked away with some interesting observations from the past 30 days.

First, there was a stock position that did very well, and that got Assigned at the last minute (that is, I had to sell my stocks to him at our agreed price). Congrats to whoever it is for your huge relative gains. In any case, now I know what it looks like when my stocks have been sold.

Second, there was another stock position that was essentially flat. In this case, the covered calls worked out perfectly, because I already made money on a flat-performing stock. Not surprisingly, it did not get Assigned so I get to sell some more contracts on it.

My third and final stock position was absolutely atrocious. Atrocious! Even so, I can still write contracts on them, albeit for a lower premium. Despite the paper drop, I am surprised that I can still squeeze out $200 this month on this position!

In all, I'm very pleased with this type of trading, even though, yes, it's still chock full of risks. Again though, I'm in no rush, so baby steps still.

Plastic island

September 15th, 2010 at 06:47 pm

I think I may have blogged about this in the past, but basically, there's this guy who has built himself a floating island out of discarded plastic bottles.

I've stumbled across a more recent video of him, this time in much more detail, and it appears that he's made some major additions since I last saw it!

Check it out!


September 13th, 2010 at 12:24 pm

Here's an interesting article on the origins of common financial sayings.

Internet switch

September 13th, 2010 at 07:47 am

In a typical household, it's normal to have a landline phone, cellphones, cable, and internet.

For some time now, I've managed to consolidate all of my phone needs into one Tracfone, for an average of about $5 a month. I've been very happy with that, and for some time now, I've been looking for ways to do the same with my internet.

Unfortunately, while I rarely use a phone at all, I am a complete internet junkie. In my own defense however, I do not have cable or even Netflix. So, my only source of entertainment centers around being online somehow.

Recently, I've been experimenting with a mobile 4G hot spot device from clear.com. It is unlimited 4G data for $40 a month, my home and most areas near work have coverage, and the speeds can rival my DSL, which I am currently paying $50 a month. Best of all, because the device is portable, it means that my iPod Touch has data access similar to an iPhone, except with 4G speeds!

In other words, for the price of shaving $10 a month off my internet bill, I also gain mobility with it! A typical iPhone alone would cost a minimum of about $55 a month. Home broadband would be a separate bill. However, with this one device, I am able to do it all for just $40 a month! Combined with the Tracfone, all of my household bills are only $45 a month (not including gas, electric, and water bills).

There is one minor downside: I now carry three devices on my belt: The cellphone, iPod Touch, and now, the hot spot device. I feel like Batman. Big Grin

Need to want less

September 10th, 2010 at 07:32 am

Stumbled across a really cool website about Want versus Need.

My friends bug me sometimes

September 8th, 2010 at 06:37 am

So, a friend of mine is really itching to get into stock trading. Even though he's in a lot of debt and being garnished by the IRS, he wants to use like $2000 of his student loan money (at more than 6% interest) for it.

I told him about the risks, but he was like, "It's worth it. Gotta start somewhere." But I'm like, "Are you sure about this? Because the numbers don't make any sense." His response was, "Numbers never make any sense BA! They're subject to interpretation!"

Oh really? Playing with the stock market using borrowed money you need to live off of within 3 to 6 months, and at 6% interest is somehow subjective? And why so defensive? I'm just trying to be a friend and warn him of the dangers involved.

You guys know that for literally years, all I did was pay off my student loans. No stock trading here. And even now, I do not trade on margin (loans) whereas that's exactly what he plans to do. Also, he needs this money within 3 to 6 months, whereas I don't trade with any money that I need anytime soon.

I mean, it's just such a bad idea that even I would not have done it. I do wonder why he is so dead set on it? Is it ego? I know he's used me before as a source of information, and then passed it off as his own to try to impress beer buddies and women with it.

I do have to admit that I am partially to blame. He's a friend that I've been talking about all my stock and options trading to. So, clearly, I embedded the idea in him somehow. BUT, I had no idea he would decide to be so reckless about it. That's the last thing you want to do because the activity itself is dangerous enough as it is.

But I guess what really bugged me about all this is that he was being rude to me about it, even though I'm just trying to help as a friend. Whatever. I didn't tell him all this though. Instead, I just said that if he feels that strongly about it, then just open a Scottrade account, and buy his stocks there.

I don't think I want to hang out with him for a while though. That and a lot of other stuff makes him really stressful for me to be around him.

Last batch

September 1st, 2010 at 06:47 am

I just finished selling the last batch of call contracts available for me. After fees, it's another $280 I pocketed, pushing the income total up to above $1000. So, despite the fact that I'm a newbie in options trading, I think it's very realistic to generate $1000 a month in contract income this way.

Of course, risks and potential losses aside, most of this occur within my retirement accounts, so it's not like I can actually use it for anything.

I'm already fine-tuning the strategy as we speak, and I think I would like to get out of individual stocks completely. Maybe. The option is always there, of course, but I think I can use this strategy just fine with nothing but SPY (US stock market ETF). The volumes are gloriously high, and contract intervals are much shorter (which isn't necessary, but it does give me greater flexibility).

Yeah, in other words, I'm basically done trying to speculate on the market. I'll let others do that. I'm content with just being a "loan shark", and despite the name "options trading", holding SPY and selling contracts on them is actually very conservative and safe (as far as trading goes).