Wednesday, May 31, 2006

What To Do With All These Receipts?

So sitting in a shoebox sized box next to my desk are all my receipts over the past few months. I usually shred them, but that takes way too long although my dog loves chasing each set of papers I send through the shredder...Trying to rip a piece of the paper before it makes it in is like a game for him. I tried making a fire, but that's just too much of a mess and takes too long. Maybe I should just put all my receipts in Brownie's crate so he can rip them apart. Haha...That's an idea I never thought of. Seriously, what to do? I'm debating just tossing them in the trash. I mean they only have the last 4 digits of my credit card number now. For expensive purchases, I've been scanning receipts and storing them on my computer. So much less clutter...well I still end up keeping the paper receipts lol. I guess my thinking is that since I'm so disorganized, the chances of finding my receipts are greater by having them in two locations. What do you do with your old receipts? How long do you keep them?

My Home: Why Not Move Someplace Else?

How much is living in a certain location worth? The weather, the people, the culture, the activities available, the neighborhoods, the schools, the history between you and the place you call much is it all worth? In my post, "My Home: The Budget Is Set" SingleMa makes an interesting comment:
Depending on where you live, you may not have a choice, but my first thought when I read this post is...Dang, that's a lot of money to spend on your first house!!
Yes, it is a lot of money, and I do have a choice. We all do right? What if I moved to another island? What if I moved to another state? What if I moved to another country all together? In the end it does come down to how much home really means to me. I couldn't imagine moving away permanently. And it's not that I haven't tried because I have lived away from home for 4 years. I've been there and done that. So I do have a choice, but my choice is to stay here. It's my home. My friends, my family, the people, and the food! Priceless.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

My Home: The Budget Is Set

Taking a deeper look into my future home purchase, I realized I need to think about specifics...the financial specifics. I wrote about my realistic dream home earlier, but with my current income and savings, what can I really afford to purchase without affecting my standard of living, my emergency fund, and being able to fund home improvements and other fees associated with home ownership? Considering my current liquid assets of about $100,000, I'll make an assumption that I can save about $30-50k more in a years time--when I plan to purchase. This is less than my current year-end goal of $100k, but I'm going to assume I don't make my goal to be conservative. This means I should be able to comfortably afford a downpayment within the range of $110-130k. This would leave me $20k of cash on hand. One of my requirements is a 20% down payment, so the homes I can purchase would be $550-650k. In Honolulu, HI, that doesn't leave me much to choose from. During my prequalification, I was given the okay to purchase a home up to $700k with a $70k deposit assuming I use a 80/10/10 loan. 1st Mortgage: $560,000 (30yr fixed) 2nd Mortgage: $70,000 (15yr fixed) Deposit: $70,000 There's no way I'm going to do that. In some ways, I wish I didn't see this loan because it makes the "bad decision" even more possible. So the bottom line is I know the price range of homes I can afford, which is $550-650k. I'm going to stick to this range. Unless some ridiculous mansion is available for 800k...then maybe I'll stretch.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day: A Bittersweet Holiday

To our fallen heroes who fought for our freedom, thank you. To the men and women today who are fighting this same battle, thank you. This holiday goes beyond just recognizing Americans, but also our countless friends in other countries who have given their lives and those that are still fighting today for this thing called freedom. Today, I would like to pay tribute to a friend of mine who passed away on January 22, 2005, Nainoa K. Hoe. Rest in peace, Nainoa.

Nainoa K. Hoe R.I.P. 1977 - January 22, 2005

Sunday, May 28, 2006

My Home: A New Series On My Home Buying Journey.

I've decided to start a new series called, "My Home." In this series, I hope to detail the steps I'm taking to purchase my future home including anything and everything I learn along the way like researching other bloggers posts, online house hunting, the mortgage process, including mortgage rates and closing costs, and whatever else I have yet to discover. This is my first home so everything I learn is new. I've written posts on my ideal practical home, some classes I've taken on the purchasing process, pre-qualification, a 'home buyer's checklist,' and the role of the realtor, but everything is disorganized, and I think it would be beneficial to record the process for my future reference and for my readers. For all posts in my series, just click here. Without your input, this endeavor would be pointless, so please criticize and comment, good or bad, on anything and everything. That's one of the awesome benefits of blogging, reader participation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

An Argument FOR Standardization...

...of mobile phone chargers! Please! On a side note, standardizing everything to metric might be a good idea of the US. The impact on US productivity from the confusion and difficulty of converting ounces to milliters and feet to meters is probably never going to truly be known, but I can put a bet that if we, the United States, ditched "Standard" measurements, we'd not only gain productivity, but our global competitiveness would increase tremendously. Not to mention the productivity of the world would improve! And throw in the $$$ it would save me because I don't have to buy 30 different sets of tools! We can dream...Oh and back to the phone charger, I could use the same one I bought 5 years ago today! It'll cut down on waste.

Gas Thieves Strike My Neighbor!

Gas prices are rising, but come on, siphoning gas from a car parked in their garage? If your vehicle does not have a defense against gas thieves, let me recommend getting a locking gas cap. On top of the fact that these folks are stealing gas, from reports I've seen on the news last night, they also leave some nice scratches on your car at the same time. How nice.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

You Want To Make Money? Then DO NOT Follow My Advice.

Really, it's that easy, if I say buy ABC. Sell it! If I say sell XYZ, buy it! That's usually the case when I invest. Trust me you could make fortunes by doing exactly the opposite of what I do. Everytime I decide to sell or buy stocks, the stocks usually do exactly the opposite of what I expected. For example, take Sony (SNE). I bought at around $35.00, held on for over a year, and finally sold in Dec 05 @ $36.00. Immediately after I sold, SNE shot up to $50 in 2 months. Another example, Hawaiian Airlines (HA). I bought HA in Jan 06 for $3.50 and sold about a month later at $3.40. A loss. Just 2 months after I sold, HA shot up to $5.00! Now let's hypothesize about my asset reallocation plans which were scheduled to occur on May 1 but didn't...had I bought 100 shares of each stock...Would my normal investment trend hold true? I would not be shocked to find out that I would have gained 10%. Or would my luck be changing and my portfolio be negative? Highly unlikely. For the sake of simplicity, 100 shares of each stock is much easier than calculatting the same dollar amount of each here goes... today's value / # shares / $amount / may 1 value / $change / (%) IBM 80.02 May 22 100 $8,002.00 81.93 -$191.00 (-2.33%) RTN 46.11 May 22 100 $4,611.00 43.69 $242.00 (5.54%) VZ 30.79 May 22 100 $3,079.00 32.81 -$202.00 (-6.16%) WMT 47.35 May 22 100 $4,735.00 45.77 $158.00 (3.45%) GE 34.07 May 22 100 $3,407.00 33.89 $18.00 (0.53%) MMM 83.73 May 22 100 $8,373.00 80.97 $276.00 (3.41%) DD 42.38 May 22 100 $4,238.00 43.30 -$92.00 (-2.12%) PG 54.28 May 22 100 $5,428.00 56.60 -$232.00 (-4.10%) JNJ 59.86 May 22 100 $5,986.00 57.91 $195.00 (3.37%) Hold your breath! I would be up $172.00 (0.36%). But wait, subtract commissions, (9x$7=$63), and my gain would be $109.00. Wow! Had I invested, my luck would have changed! Rrrright, just hold on until next month, when I check it out again...Oh, I'll probably be down a couple grand. Hah. Wow, $1000 on black please! Place your bets on red! Trust me. :)

Monday, May 22, 2006

Who Still Uses Paper Checks?

I hate going to the supermarket and then finding out someone is about to write a check. It takes about 5 more minutes than a regular transaction! Grrrr. To that person who made me wait 5 more minutes in line, use your ATM/debit card or your credit card. Please. Credit card would be the wisest...especially if you get rewards. You can avoid any fees and get a discount! And while we're talking about checks, I hope you use your online bill payment service that's offered to you by your bank probably for free. You will not only save money because you no longer have to buy checks, but you will not have to use your own stamps! /rant :) On a side note, who still uses cash? I've been quite busy this last week, but hopefully this week I will have some time to catch up with blogging. Hope you all had a good weekend!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Asset Reallocation Setback...What To Do, What To Do...

Well, I had originally hoped to reallocate my assets on May 1. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I wasn't prepared to move my funds around. Fortunately because the stock market has been taking a beating in the last few days. I guess you could look at it in two ways, a buying opportunity or not. I tend to believe the market is set for a fairly large downward turn because I believe inflation is real. Gas and metals are going up...way up. Not to mention the hurricane season coming up, which will add more pressure to many industries, agricultural included, meaning higher crop prices. Plus the housing industry is seeing a downturn. Add the tension in the middle east, and you've just got tons of things pointing to disaster. Being a financial pessimist at this time, I feel like waiting it out for awhile. I did move money into my investment account, but I may just wait a little longer. With inflation comes the possibility of the feds increasing interest rates a full point? Wow. Anyway, I'm in no rush...Right now, I feel happy I'm not exposed to the market volatility too much.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

WARNING: Phishing Alert -

This one is pretty well done. With links that even point directly to ebay auctions. The one button that says respond now points to the fraudulent server. If you're bored, give em some false info. This site looks exactly like ebay! X-Message-Status: n:0 X-SID-PRA: X-SID-Result: TempError X-Message-Info: LsUYwwHHNt0fdbDltJXe6jj1gZWCO8ibYLZqUB1oUFg= Received: from ([]) by with Microsoft SMTPSVC(6.0.3790.1830); Wed, 17 May 2006 06:21:24 -0700 Delivered-To: Received: (qmail 8260 by uid 452); Wed, 17 May 2006 09:17:06 +0800 Date: Wed, 17 May 2006 09:17:06 +0800 Received: from ( by with SMTP; Received: (qmail 8260 by uid 452); Wed, 17 May 2006 09:17:06 +0800 Message-Id: <> To: Subject: RE: Alert from ebay members! - 8993754 From: MIME-Version: 1.0 Content-Type: text/html; charset="iso-8859-1" Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit Return-Path: X-OriginalArrivalTime: 17 May 2006 13:21:24.0975 (UTC) FILETIME=[CBF827F0:01C679B4]

Where Have I Been? And Updated Doggie Costs.

I've been quite busy in recent days. I'll be back posting shortly though. In the meantime, please check out my updated doggie costs. Bought Brownie some food. Total cost to date: $4107.79. Here are some of my favorite posts:

Monday, May 15, 2006

Updated Doggie Costs and Unnecessary Spending.

So I bought Brownie two new collars, they are Reflective Safekeep Breakaway dog collars ($40.00). I also bought him two new ID tags with more detailed information and is more durable ($15.00). Finally I bought him a new ball toy and bed ($25.00). I've updated the doggie costs. Total to date: $4072.79. Alright, before you read on, please understand I'm not justifing spending all this money, I know it's a little excessive, but I do have to enjoy life a little too. I bought myself a new stereo/dvd deck for the truck--the Alpine IVA-W200 with bluetooth. I've been thinking about it for about 6 months now, and I was waiting for this specific model to be released! It costed me $1150.00--installation was included. Next, I bought myself a new camera. This is another one I've been thinking about for over 6 months. I'm a camera photo hobbyist, but my SLR/digicam is a little to big to carry with me to all the places I want to go. I ended up getting the Casio Exilim S600 in blue. It was a good balance between photo quality, size, and manual control. This costed me $130.00 + $200 in BestBuy gift certificates I earned using my Citi and Chase reward cards. I actually think 6 months is a good cut off for me. If I find myself wanting something for that long of a duration, it usually means that I would find practical use for it since it must've popped into my mind as something I could've used on numerous occassions. And hey I did buy my mom some stuff too!

So You Think You've Heard All the Gas Savings Tips?

Or have you? More common tips are... - Check your tires. Odd sounds could mean poor wear, which might indicate you need to rotate or get new tires. - Maintain your car. - Drive smooth, keep a constant speed. - Don't drive faster than 50 MPH. - Buy a hybrid. - Blah, blah, blah. Well let me give you some unique gas savings tips that you won't hear anywhere else. Ha, okay that was a lie, but I haven't read it anywhere...just kind of thought of them on my own or maybe I heard them some place before. Wait, that means it would be common sense...well, yeah...and maybe they're wrong. ;) 1. Lose weight! That's right. Exercise, eat right, lose weight. The less weight your car has to carry around, the more miles per gallon you'll get. This could mean finally removing the unnecessary items sitting in your backseat. 2. Change to synthetic oils. Synthetics have better lubricating properties, meaning your engine works easier to generate the same power, which means more miles per gallon. Not to mention for an average increase of $15/per oil change, you get 1500-2500 more miles between oil changes! 3. Wax your car! That's right. The smoother your car, the less air resistance your car will generate, meaning your car will require less power to move, which means more miles per gallon! 4. Drive at night. The cooler the air, the more densly packed oxygen is, meaning more power from the same amount of gas. Not to mention there's less traffic at night, so less stop and go traffic. 5. Fill up in the late night or morning before the sun warms up the ground too much. The cooler it is, the more dense gas is as well. Okay, this one doesn't help increase miles per gallon, but you'll get more gas per dollar which means you can buy more gas to travel more miles. Did I confuse you? haha... 6. Roll the windows up on the freeway! Either drive with just the vents open or turn on the AC. AC will mean a little bit more gas used per mile, but it's impact on miles per gallon is less than rolling the windows down. I read this somewhere before...supposedly the resistance generated by having your windows open uses up more gas than turning on the AC and having the windows rolled up. City driving, windows down is a better idea. 7. Buy a "cool air intake (CAI)." Yeah, this is a performance increasing modification for your car, but it does increase miles per gallon. Why? Well, it draws cooler air from outside of the engine bay and allows your engine to breath easier. There are also "warm air intakes (WAI)," which allow easier breathing but have a shorter tube and still pulls air from inside of the engine bay. You're results from a WAI will not be as good as a CAI. I've heard reports of gaining 1-2 mpg by adding a CAI. You'll get more power and more miles per gallon. Right on! If you suddenly have the urge for even more power, then some other improvements that might help gas mileage would be an upgraded ECU (brain) for your car, exhaust system, better tires, headers. I'm not sure if any of these others will really gain you more miles like the CAI though. 8. Plan your trips so that you can hit as many locations in one trip as possible! I heard this idea from a write up at the Paranoid Brain. It's a good one. 9. Don't drive. Walk, catch the bus, ride a bike...carpool, preferrably in someone else's car or the car with the most miles per gallon rating. Although in this case you should help out with gas. Whatever it is, if you don't drive, you have infinite miles per gallon. Good luck saving gas! That's it. I have no idea how many miles you'll save by following these 9 tips, but hey, if each of them gets you .25 miles more per gallon, then that's 2.25 miles more per gallon. That's not too shabby! EDIT: Immediately after writing this post, I found this article in my local newspaper...some of the tips are pretty similar. Enjoy.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hawaii's Broken Gas Cap. A Failed Experiment in Government Regulation.

You may not have heard, but Hawaii's recent experiment with regulating the gas industry, also known as the "gas cap," has failed. After about 8 months, the program just didn't work out...or did it? Public opinion seemed to overwhelmingly favor getting rid of it, which is what brought about its demise, but in actuality, it favored the consumer. A lot. Why then was it repealed you ask? Because it "looked" like it didn't work. Before I go on, let me say that I am against government regulation of any business, for the most part, because free enterprise is what drives the US economy. But back to topic, the reason public sentiment was so against the gas cap was purely timing. As gas prices increased, so did the gas cap. This led to the false belief that the gas cap would reduce prices, but didn't. There were a few instances where gas prices dropped, and this was good. But sadly, not enough for the public to accept it. Hawaii is unique in that there are only two refiners. These two refiners control wholesale gas prices in Hawaii. This is one of those instances where maybe government regulation can help, but even then it's still questionable and, in my opinion, a "last resort" action. Regulation makes sense if the companies are not going to be honest. This is the part that pushes me towards regulation, because I believe the two wholesalers in Hawaii are taking advantage of the situation. Pre-gas cap Hawaii often saw price increases, but rarely saw decreases. And if they decreased, it would be a small fraction of what it increased, while the rest of the US saw dramatic decreases. Odd isn't it? As a consumer, I'm sad. But as a US citizen, I'm is better off that this experiment failed even if it might have meant a few more dollars in my pocket.

Friday! Update: The $1k Breakdown, College, Blogger type...05.12.2006

Another week finished. Ah what an interesting week...I didn't write about it, but I did have a financial breakdown this week. It was a financial breakdown of around $1,000. I bought somethings that I don't need. I haven't done it in awhile, but that's no excuse. I'll write more about what those were in my next Net Worth update. I will say this though, I am not having buyer's remorse, so it is something that I've wanted for sometime now, and I just decided to go for it. As far as smoking goes, I'm still off the cigs! 69 days and $155.25 richer! I just thought I'd do some looking into college-related posts on people's blogs. I found quite a few! You've probably seen Mighty Bargain Hunter's post on getting over-educated, if there is such a thing... But going into paying for college, Blogging Away Debt writes about why her son will not have his college education bill paid in full. Makingourway takes the opposing perspective on paying for their kids college education. Speaking of paying, Young and Broke talks about how student loans put her life on hold. Then there are those in college right now. Take a look at CollegeGrad's mid-20 something crisis. And if you're just not interested in college at all, John writes about great jobs that don't require any degrees. CEO of Microsoft, Apple, and Oracle are 3 that I know are available! :) I'm thinking of going back to school one day. It seems to be getting harder the longer I wait though. City Girl's decision to go back is admirable. Not college related, but interesting...mOOm writes about the types of PF bloggers out there. I guess I'd categorize myself as a 1 and 3. Well, have a great weekend everyone, including you college students! I think a majority of college finals are over right?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

You Have Insurance? Auto, Life, Home. What About Data Insurance?

So you're fully insured. Don't have to worry as much about the house, the family, or the car, because you have insurance. What little peace of mind it brings, it does help. But what if something happens to the data on your computer? There's no insurance convering that. Will it have a financial impact on you if your data is lost? How much time will be lost redoing all the Word documents and Excel spreadsheets. Not to mention the priceless images, videos, and emails you've saved, all lost. Horrible thoughts, sure, but something you need to consider. This is a little off topic, but for me it does have an important role in finances. If I don't have my data backed up, it will cost me a lot of time and aggravation trying to find and restore years of hard work. Here are my tips on keeping your data backed up. I won't go into securing your data right now because that's a whole other can of worms, but backing it up is the first step. Here are some tips on backing up: 1. Try to manage your data. Keep data located under a single folder, like "My Documents." Doing this will help making the data backup process much smoother. 2. Backup regularly! Don't get into the habit of doing it once every year, because right before your next backup, something may go horribly wrong! Add it to your calendar. 3. Name your files appropriately! This is not related directly to backing up, but it's just as important. If you can't find your documents, what's the point. 4. Try to keep a backup (cd/dvd) in some other physical location, just in case. If someone steals your external hard drive and your computer, uhhh your backup does no good. So at least periodically keep an "off-site" backup. As far as the physical media to back up on to, you have a few options: 1. Another hard drive, like an external hard drive. 2. A DVD/CD writer. 3. An online backup service, which is basically a storage medium located in some data center. I've never used one, so just Google "online backup" and there are tons of options. Just make sure the company you choose is reputable. 4. Another option that's only viable in recent times is a USB Drive...since they get pretty large...another option, you could even use it as your primary location to store data. So how do I actually backup my data? Connect my external hard drive, and I just drag and drop all the stuff in "My Documents" right on to it. I do this once a week or so. Easy and painless. At least I know my data is backed up some place in case Brownie romps on my notebook. I can't go into reinstalling and restoring your operating system because that will take a whole book and a half, but if you have your main data saved, at least the rest of it can be rebuilt. If you're looking for a way to do a complete system backup including your data, applications, and operating system, one application I did use before is Norton Ghost. It does a great job at this. Hey out of all the insurance options out there, at least data insurance doesn't have any premiums associated with it! Okay cost of materials/equipment, but that's about it.

What's Up With

Man, what a pain! The site is going up and down. Errr, I hope they get this fixed and stable soon, or it is time to move to my own blog site...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

My Career Path and How I Found It.

Or at least how it found me...Since we're on the topic of jobs, or worst jobs anyway, I figure I'll share a little about how I got to where I am today... I started working with computers at a young age. Around 12 years old, my dad brought home a IBM PC Compatible XT Turbo. Turbo baby! That little button boosted the speed on my computer from 4.7 Megahertz to 10! It had no hard disk, and just 2 5.25" drives. I loved it. Using it, upgrading name it. At 16, I got introduced to a little computer store by my house. My dad knew the owner, and he bought me my first computer from this little store...this is actually where my dad got his XT from too. It wasn't anything fancy, just an Intel 286 with 8MBs of ram and a 40MB hard drive. It was great! I even had a 14" SuperVGA monitor that could handle 1024x768 interlaced with 256 colors! Imagine that. Now I'm writing this on a notebook about 1/8 the size of my 286 running at 1.7GIGAhertz with 1.5GIGAbyte of RAM, 60GIGAbytes of hard disk space and 32bit color capable of over 400 million colors! Amazing how far we've come. Unreal. Anyway, back on topic, I learned all my computer skills by going back to this little store and "hanging out." Eventually the owner gave me a couple of minor tasks, and pretty soon I was building computers and fixing them. It was great. Then when I went to college, I got a job at my university help desk. I worked there for my entire college career. It was a great job. I met great people and got good experience. The pay wasn't that bad either. I also worked part time at a big chain computer store. That sucked. I stayed there for 6 months maybe. My last summer I got an internship at large telephone company. I had a great experience there as well. I got to do a lot projects that applied my computer skills. After this internship, I went back to my help desk job. About my college course work, even though I'm working in the computer industry now, I only got a minor in computer science. I majored in nutrition. That's why I had the horrible job I described earlier. Well, one day in my senior year, I saw some posters posted outside of my campus work place declaring, "Job Opportunity. Don't miss it! Come visit your campus job center today! Interviews by major corporations held soon!" I figured what the heck, why not try. So I went down, filled out the application and submitted my resume. Lo and behold, I got a job. This is right before the dotcom bust. I got real lucky. I originally wanted to become a teacher, and I still do one day. I love biology...inspired by a great high school biology teacher. Eventually I see myself getting worn out by the tech industry. It just doesn't feel fulfilling for some reason. Well, that's how I got to where I am today. How'd you get to where you are today? Was there a specific event that made it happen?

'Home Buyers Checklist' In My Local Newspaper

Interesting read in my Sunday newspaper this past weekend. In the article, 7 main topics were pointed out. 1. Define your "wants" versus your "needs." A great point. I just wrote my article on my "realistic dream house," but out of that list what do I really need? It's easy to get sidetracked with wanting neat but very unessential items in a house. It's a good idea to have what you really need written down. 2. Check your credit rating. Done. This point speaks for itself I think. If you know where your credit score stands, and you are not in the upper tier, above 720, you can start making changes to improve your score to get better rates come mortgage time. 3. Investigate the neighborhood. Churches? Markets and stores? Well kept houses? Well maintained streets? Underground utilities? Younger families? Schools? This last point doesn't hold much value to me...right now, so it's easy to forget about it. But schools affect resale a lot from what I heard! Tons of things to consider about the neighborhood. 4. Be an informed buyer. I wasn't real clear on this point until I read the description a couple of times. What does it mean? Research resale prices? Study the real estate market? No, what they meant was know the restrictions of your neighborhood. I guess some private communities have restrictions on fencing, expansion, etc. I never thought about this one... 5. Insist on a home inspection. Purchase your own home protection plan. What's that? Sounds like some warranty for the to look into this one. The article didn't give much detail on this. But it did say to ask questions about the environmental concerns in your area...bugs (termites, ants), flooding, and rock falls maybe?? 6. Get help with the details. Supposedly there are "conceirge" services that help coordinate all the services involved with buying a home. I've never heard of this...isn't that what you real estate agent is supposed to do?? 7. Don't rush. Don't overlook property flaws or get over excited. The best advice I got out of this article. Even if I hear it over and over again, I just need to do it. Reference: The Honolulu Advertiser, "Home-buyers checklist keeps focus on details," May 7, 2006, R16. The article states that "knowing what questions to ask is more than half the battle." Cool, I like that quote...brings back childhood memories of a great cartoon series.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

My Worst Job Ever

First off, let me thank Nickel for bringing back horrible memories...haha, just kidding Nickel. Well, my worst job was during college. I don't know if you could consider it my "job," because I wasn't getting paid, but it was part of the requirements of my scholarship program that I participate in a research project. I picked a project that dealt with Aluminum absorption and its effects on growth. Well initially I had no idea what this research project would really mean. If you're against animal cruelty then I suggest you hit the back button on your browser now. I killed baby chickens. :( It was not, I repeat NOT, something I enjoyed doing, but I signed up for the project. I won't go into the gory details, but let's just say that carbon monoxide poisoning's first symptom is a bowel movement. I love was hard, but for the sake of learning and maybe bettering society for the price of a few chickens...Was it worth it? I don't know. In reality, I do know the answer to that, but I have hard time admitting it.

My Luxuries

In my post about DVDs being a waste of money, I said I would write about my luxuries, so you can criticize here it is, my list of luxuries. Be nice. - My dog. Some would argue that an animal companion is a luxury and not a necessity, but I'll man up and say it, I love my dog. - My camera. I like photography. I have a Nikon D70 and bunch of lenses. Nothing pro-caliber yet, but I may be considering a Nikon VR 70-200 lens in the near future. - I like to eat out. We're not talking Morton's Steak House now, more like Subway and McD. I eat out, on average, 3 times a week. I work from home, so being couped up all day by myself is not that fun. I love ice cream too. - I drive a truck, but I put on about 500 miles a month plus with the dog, a truck is just much easier for both of us, and I use premium gas in my truck. - I love computers and other techy stuff. I have a DVR (similar to Tivo) and I have a notebook as my primary workstation. I am planning to buy a new notebook when Microsoft Vista comes out. Of course I may wait a couple of months until all the press has died down. I also have a High-Def TV, but it's not the super fancy DLP 62" projection TV, it's just a 34" CRT. It has a great feature set for the price, and the picture quality is great! I did want to get a DLP projection TV though. - I own a Sony PS2, and I am considering purchasing a Sony PS3. But for ~$600 just for the console, I'm having serious second thoughts. I usually find myself playing games on the computer if anything anyway. And even that has become an extremely rare occurence. I used to play online games which costed around $13/month, but I stopped that last year. It just takes too much time, and you get no return! A horrible investment. - I subscribe to That's all that I can think of right now...I'll post more as I find them. Somethings I didn't write, I consider the cell phone and broadband. I would consider myself a fairly non-luxurious person...Although I am considering buying some high thread count sheets, I probably never will. So criticize away! Maybe I should figure out how much these luxuries are costing me in the future...And maybe I should write a list of crap I just don't need.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Why Is Gas Priced In Tenths, Ex. $2.9990/gallon.

I just randomly wondered, why is gas priced in tenths? For example, regular is $2.9990. Apparently this is quite a mystery! One possible explanation is that gas used to cost a few pennies. This caused gas stations to really hesitate moving up to the next cent. Read more here. Another has to do with being unable to get a perfect gallon measurement, thus the difference. Check out this article, it's amazingly detailed. I'll admit I didn't read the whole was just too much info. Cliff notes please. Another reason could be that it just looks cheaper...marketting. Whatever the reason, it's kind of odd. If they rounded down, I would like to buy $0.0049 worth of gas please...4000 times. :)

How Large PF Blogging Has Become!

I'm fairly new to the whole blogging world, but just within the past couple of months, I can't believe how much info is out there and how large the community has become! Of course has to be given credit for sort of bringing things together, I think. Anyway, I'm trying to find a write up about how to calculate whether or not going back to school would be worth it. In my 2 hour journey of search after search after search, I have yet to find it! I swear I've tried every combination on search and search. Does anyone remember the post about calculating whether going to school would be worth it financially? It was posted within the last few weeks. In fact, I even know he's in the military because I remeber a picture of him on his front page. Also, he has a template with lots of orange. Damn, this is like knowing a song, but being unable to remember the name! I promise to give you credit in my post if you can point me to the post I'm thinking of. Thanks!

A Look At My Friends. Did College Pay Off?

So I've thought about this some more...does college pay? From my personal stand point, I definitely think it does. My friends that have a college degree are financially much better off than my friends that don't. Let me summarize some of what I see... Friend 1 4yr College Degree, spent 2 years at community college, 2 years at regular College cost: ~$10,000 BA Management Info Systems ~$65,000/yr Friend 2 4yr College Degree College cost: ~$60,000 BA Education ~$40,000/yr Friend 3 2yr Associates Degree College cost: ~$10,000 Graphics Design ~$12/hr (~$24,000/yr) Friend 4 No degree, attended some college College cost: ~$2,000 ~$9.00/hr Friend 5 4yr College Degree College cost: ~$10,000 BA Human Resources ~$70,000/yr Friend 6 4yr College Degree College cost: ~$10,000 BA Management Info Systems ~$55,000/yr Friend 7 4yr College Degree College cost: ~$10,000 BA Management Info Systems ~$45,000/yr Friend 8 4yr College Degree College cost: ~$10,000 BA Management Info Systems ~$70,000/yr Friend 9 4yr College Degree College cost: ~$60,000 BS Computer Science ~$90,000/yr You can clearly see that having a degree seems to have meant better jobs. Of course, my oberservations are skewed since most of my friends finished college...And most of them are from the same college! The kicker is, we're all satisfied with life...for the most part, the ones that are making more are often still dealing with the same money issues as those who are making less to some pun intended. Some related links: Don't get over-educated @ College - A Financial Decision That Changed My Life. Is College a Worthless Investment?

The Realistic Dream House

Didn't I say this whole idea of getting pre-qualified is going to get me in trouble? I don't want to buy a house for a year, yet I'm already looking. Okay, well not really, but I got this "oh so tempting" listing for a great house in a great neighborhood at a VERY good price. So good I had to take a look. Well, like the old saying goes, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This house was on a big hill. BIG hill with lots of trees and rocks above it. Uhhh, no thanks. The last thing I need is a rock fall problem. So it got me thinking, with my current income, what kind of house do I really want? I wrote a while back on my dream life. Some of it was dreamy and some more realistic....Realistic because it's sort of within my means...You know? A dream life would be making millions of dollars through passive income and having two huge mansions one in Hawaii and one in Whistler. Okay, make that in Vegas too :). Right now it's just me and my dog. But looking forward, waaaaaay forward, I would like something for a family as well. I would also like to be able to generate some passive income while living there. So here's my dream realistic house: ~ 5000-10000 sqft lot size ~ 1200-1500 sqft living space - A decent sized yard, with a portion fenced off for Brownie to run around. - Early mail delivery. Yes, I like having my mail delivered early! - Hands free faucet in the kitchen. - Target price of around $500-650K - Off major streets - Level lot - 2 car garage - Fairly up to date electrical system, if not then the ability to upgrade easily. - 10' ceilings - 4 Bedrooms (Maybe a split, two level house, so I can rent one and live in another) - Wired for CAT 6E. I'm pretty sure this is something I'll have to setup myself. - I would like a location about 15 mins from town. - Friendly neighbors...who wouldn't want that! - Decent amount of street parking - Breezy and cool location - Fairly close to freeway Is that asking for too much? By the way, can you tell where I live? I live on Oahu, in the state of Hawaii. I guess it's kind of important to know that since I could probably get a lot more house somewhere else. Yeah, housing is expensive here. The cost of living in such a beautiful state I guess.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

I'm a Hypocrite!

Oh the pain...I've just realized that I have a post on the top Overpaid & Underpaid positions, yet I'm a staunch believer in free enterprise! Errr...the conflict is too great to overcome. Was it Walt Whitman that once said something to the effect of, "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contain a multitude..."

DVDs. What a Waste of Money!

I just came back from Best Buy attempting to find ways to waste my money. Luckily I left with nothing in hand, but I did think I wanted to buy "Chronicles of Narnia" and "Memoirs of a Geisha." Remember, I'm a tease shopper. Then I thought, when am I really going to watch this DVD again? Sure I liked the movies, but I've maybe popped in one or two DVDs in the past few years to watch a DVD again. And even then, I watched maybe 30 mins of it and either switched to TV or skipped to the end! On top of that, I just came back from my friends house who has over 200+ DVDs! I've never seen them watch a DVD again. Let's take a conservative estimate of $10/DVD. That's $2000+ in DVDs. Seriously, what a waste of money! My previous roomy also had a similar habit...DVDs overflowed his cabinets! Hey, since I've never seen a lot of the DVDs he bought, I never complained :). And you argue DVDs are an investment? A long, long shot in my opinion...First of all there's always Blockbuster and Netflix. Second, you'll be lucky if DVD players are even still around 20 years from now. Third, consider that you have to watch each DVD, on average, at least 3 times to "get your money's worth," and that's a big IF because the value of a rental can vary. Unlike vinyl records, which kind of has a niche audience, DVDs are not that special...they will go the way of VHS and cassette tapes. Mark my words in 10 years, digital media will be on tiny solid state media similar to memory cards or completely online. EDIT: Oh and I forgot another thing, the media DVDs are recorded on have a shelf life, estimates are around 10 years right now, although I believe I've read a life span of even 100 years for some DVDs. Point is, they go bad. I'll write up my list of luxuries later to which I invite you to criticize me, but still DVDs, come on! I urge you stop buying DVDs and save! Wait, I take that back...stop buying DVDs and invest in the companies that sell/make them! :) These actors/actresses do not need to get paid more! Do you watch DVDs over enough to get your money's worth? I'm curious...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Friday! Update: Boys Day, Bay Area House Hunting, Smoking, and the Weight Challenge...05.05.2006

Happy Children's Day! In Japan, this is a big celebration. Boy's Day is on May 5, and Girl's Day is on March 3. Well, I'm happy to say I am still off the cigarettes! My fellow blogger Financial Train Wreck is on track. He just got off the patch, so go give him some comments to encourage him and his wife. Thinking of buying a place? I know I am...I just got pre-qualified. I'm not going to buy anything for a year though, but I just wanted to see what would my "range." Anyway, check out City Girl's series on buying a place in the Bay Area: Step 1, Step 2, and Step 3. LAMoneyGuy has a bet going on between him and his fiancee...go cheer them both on! Hey Ms. LAMoneyGuy keep him honest cuz if he hits his goal, I owe him a beer. That's it for me...this week has been a little light on the blogging. Work has been extremely busy. Until next time, have a great weekend!

Itty Bitty Small Cars All the Rage! About Time.

You must've seen the commercials from Honda and Toyota about their two new cars, the Fit and the two boxers trying to jab each other..."YARIS"..."The Fit Is Go"...It's nice to see this segment of small cars growing! In Asia and Europe these tiny cars have been around for ages...look at em and you go, "How do full grown adults fit in there?!?" But they do. I'm not a hardcore environmentalist, I admit I drive a truck. I rarely drive though, maybe 500 miles a month, and the truck is essential to carrying my muddy dog around. Oh yeah, Nissan is going to introduce a small car too, called the Versa. I haven't noticed any American cars in the super tiny car segment yet...or did I miss it? Nissan Versa: Honda Fit: Toyota Yaris:

Thursday, May 04, 2006

What's Got Me Spooked. Call Me a Pessimist.

My main reasons for being pessimistic: Housing bubble. Rising gas prices. Inflation, with rising gas prices and increased consumer spending. Why not? Tensions with Iran. Immigration reform. Social security collapse. Foreign investor pull out of America. How do you get over all of these issues, and still invest? This is probably one of my main issues. I need to find a way to overcome them, but it seems like as soon as I do, the market goes down and proves me right! I'm just going to buy gold and lock it up in my basement. :) Financial Reflections write about why he is worried as well.

Pre-Qualified. Check.

Well, I went and got pre-qualified. It was really just an informal sitdown session, where we looked over the numbers and exchanged ideas and questions. She punched my numbers in and gave me an idea of what I could borrow and the payments I should expect. It was a very painless process and took only about 30 mins, but I got a lot of information from it. So now to look for a house...A year down the line, I don't know why I'm already looking! This is just going to get me in trouble...

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Metrosexual? A Shaver For You! Funny. Best Ad Ever?

I saw this advertisment for a Norelco shaver, and I have to share it! It is child safe...It's an advertisment for a new shaver that shaves, well, everywhere. LOL. It is worth a visit... Yes, I'm republishing, because this ad to me is just that funny!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Free Appetizer (up to $8) at TGIF

Yes, personal finance is about achieving financial freedom, but if you are going to go out and eat anyway, you might as well enjoy some free appetizers up to $8.00 with a minimum purchase of $15.00. Bon apetite! Is that spelled correctly?

Why We Won't Know If There's a Housing Bubble Until It's Too Late.

Just look at, and you can see lots of posts on an impending housing bubble bursting or one that has already happened! The problem to me about all this talk is that it's just Look at the newspapers and you'll see, "Housing Bubble Bursts!" But "Housing Prices Go Up!" What the hell? How can that be? Unlike the stock market bubble that burst, we have no way of really seeing a housing bubble burst. There are no Indexes that plumet 100 points or NASDAQ Level 2 quotes on houses. On top of that each local housing market has it's own bubble. In a way, it's like a big bubble bubble pops, it may or may not cause the bubble next to it to pop as well. We may not realize a housing bubble has burst until a couple months or even a year AFTER it has happened. Right now, I think we are in that period. The bubble has burst in some locations, but people just don't know it. Sellers are selling for ridiculously high prices because they don't realize it, and buyers are buying because they don't want to miss out on the boom. I'm not speaking for every market, because there are some that are still relatively in control. I worry about those that are markets that are over inflated...people will get hurt. It doesn't sound fun. That's why I'm waiting a year just to see how things are going. I guess I have the luxury of time on my side, but many others don't. I really hope there's a "soft landing" to the housing market because real lives are going to be affected.

So You Wanna Be On a Game Show?

So you want to be on a game show? Well, here are the links to 4 of em...good luck! If I had to choose, I'd try out for the wheel first...then deal or no deal. Wheel of Fortune Jeopardy Deal Or No Deal The Price Is Right And if you get on one please let me know! Also, don't forget the paypal button in the lower right of my page. Haha... Related links: Have you ever been on a game show? @ It's Just Money

Brand Loyalty. How Much Is It Worth?

It's Just Money wrote an interesting post about ING's 4.15% savings rate, saying that he's happy with ING, thus willing to leave it there and not rate chase. It pushed me to write about something that I've been thinking about for awhile, which is how much is brand loyalty worth? There are many instances we do this...when we shop for Ketchup, do we buy Heinz at regular price or Hunts on sale? Do we buy the Sony LCD projection TV or the Samsung DLP TV? Do we buy the Nike casual shoes or the cheaper generics that look pretty much the same and feels just as comfortable to boot? Do we buy the name brand medicine or the generics? Do we buy Chevron gas or the local "generic" brand? Everyday we face these do you decide what "price" to put on brand loyalty? Some people will pay anything to get what they want. Some will buy only things on sale. Now if we got rid of variables like quality and features but said the brand and price are the only difference, would you still buy the brand you like? I admit...I buy Chevron with Techron gas instead of the local "generic" gas even though I'm not sure if Chevron is really better. I guess marketting works! I buy Heinz ketchup even if Hunts is on sale. I like the Heinz taste. I also moved my money from ING to HSBC even though I like ING. There are some "mystical" value that I place on these things. Funny thing is I can't figure out what and how my brain figures out these "mystical" values. I do buy generic drugs though, and I would buy a Samsung TV even though I'm a big Sony fan. Then there are many things that I just buy without any brand loyalty and just look for the lowest price...Am I crazy? Am I being irrational? - Free Stuff and Good For the Environment works by letting people exchange stuff for free instead of throwing it away. As described on
The Freecycle Network™ is made up of many individual groups across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free. To sign up, find your community by clicking on the region on the left. You may then go directly to your local group by clicking on "Go To" or you may immediately joining by clicking on "Join." It will generate an automatic e-mail which, when sent, will sign you up for the local group and send you a response with instructions on how it works. Can't find a group near you? You might want to consider starting one (click on "Start a Group" for instructions). Have fun!
Pretty cool if you ask me! I've seen some good things, microwaves, refrigerators, grills, and file cabinets. Of course these are things that might be otherwise thrown away, so they're probably not going to be immaculate, but sometimes you just need something to use a couple times...Check it out.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Publish Please!

I've been trying to publish all day. This is a test post. Blogpost seems to be having problems. I'll be publishing stuff tomorrow. Nothing to see here...carry on. :)