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Thursday, April 29, 2010

5 Money Mistakes You Might Be Making (and How to Avoid Them)

If you could have more money in your checking account, you'd definitely take it, right? It probably comes as no shocker to you that it's really easy to let your funds slip away. But what you might find surprising is how simple it can be to turn things around for the better. Here are 5 common money mistakes with doable solutions.

Money Mistake #1: My Money Is Disappearing

No one starts the month planning to fritter away a small fortune, but that’s what can happen when minor expenses spiral out of control. It’s not just shopping at Saks that gets you into trouble. Seemingly innocent purchases — $15 jeans at Target, a few things for the kids at a two-for-one sale, the occasional Frappuccino — can do real damage to your bottom line.

What does it take to waste $10,000 a year? Just $27.40 a day. “You can undermine some of your most important goals with purchases you’ll never remember,” says Suzanna de Baca, president of Private Capital Solutions Group, a Des Moines, IA, investment advisory firm.

The fix: Know thyself financially. First step: Take five minutes and read through your latest bank statement. If the transactions seem unrecognizable and you have no idea why you went to the ATM a dozen times, spend a week tracking your spending (longer, if possible).

You can use a notebook, keep receipts in an envelope, try software like Quicken, or check out an online budgeting tool. Whichever you choose, find a money-tracking method that lets you see your purchasing patterns with fresh eyes.

Money Mistake #2: I Throw Away Cash

Who would pass up free money? Maybe you, if you make only the minimum contribution to your employer’s 401(k) savings plan — or opt out of the plan on the grounds that money is tight. According to the 2008 Wachovia Retirement Survey, only about a quarter of women with 401(k)s contribute the maximum allowed. Puny 401(k) contributions mean you aren’t taking full advantage of any free matching funds your company offers. Says De Baca: “If your boss offered to add $25 to your weekly paycheck, would you turn it down? Of course not.” Most employers match all or part of the first 3 to 6 percent of pay employees contribute.

That might not sound like much, but take a look at the math: Assume your company will kick in 50 cents for every dollar you put in, up to 5 percent of your salary. If you’re 40 and making $40,000 but decide not to fund your 401(k), you could be giving up almost $230,000 over 25 years.

The fix: If money is so tight you can’t imagine saving two bucks, start small. You don’t have to put in the maximum $15,500 annual contribution ($20,500 if you’re 50 or older). Instead, increase your contribution by 1 percent of pay a year, until you get the full match. One painless way to save: When you get your next raise, use all or part of it to bump up your 401(k) contribution.

If your employer doesn’t offer a match, that doesn’t mean you should skip making contributions. Remember, a 401(k) lets you put away money tax-deferred. This doesn’t just lower your current tax rate; your earnings can really grow, because Uncle Sam isn’t taking a bite out of them.

Money Mistake #3: My Kid’s Budget Runneth Over

Many parents find themselves wrestling with financial discipline when it comes to their children, says Galia Gichon, creator of “My Money Matters” Kit, a box of financial tips and workbooks. Whether it’s snacks for the little ones at the market or new skate shoes for your tween, “it’s amazing how quickly saying yes can add up,” says Gichon, a New York City financial planner and mother of two.

The fix: Rather than simply saying no to your kids’ endless wish lists — which can lead to wrenching battles — protect your budget and sanity by teaching your children Money Management 101. “Distract and delay” tactics work especially well for children age 6 and under. If your young daughter is jumping up and down for something she wants at the store, says Gichon, “try focusing her attention on something else, or acknowledge what she wants and say that you can talk more about it later when you’re home.” You may have to endure a little complaining, but your child gets an important message about not buying things on a whim.

Money Mistake #4: I Never Saw a Windfall I Couldn’t Spend

Whether you receive a raise, a tax refund, or a generous birthday check from Aunt Dotty, it’s hard not to view a windfall as an excuse to go shopping. Splurging can be fun, but that’s rarely the best use of your extra cash. “Few Americans are saving enough to cover day-to-day crises, never mind the future,” says Jonathan Pond, author of Grow Your Money!

The fix: To make sure you don’t feel deprived, earmark some of the newfound money for a modest treat (Aunt Dotty would want it that way). Gichon suggests using 5 or 10 percent for something fun: “That way you do something for yourself — while deciding what to do with the rest.”

Put the remainder of the money where you won’t be as tempted to touch it. Consider an FDIC-insured, high-yield online savings account such as the one offered by ING Direct. It has no minimum balance requirement or fees, and this account typically pays higher-than-average interest rates.

Next, consider where the money would do you the most good. Tackle any small, urgent problems first — a sore tooth, the clunking sound your car makes, leaky windows. This will help avert the hardship of paying for a string of bigger expenses later on as little problems snowball into debt.
Set aside some of your windfall for expenses that you can’t predict precisely but you know will be coming sometime. “You may not know when your cell phone will quit or the water heater will break, but they will,” Pond advises.

Money Mistake #5: I Forget What I’m Worth

If you’re a stay-at-home mom or you work part-time, you may not have enough life insurance. Many women are under­insured because they’ve under­estimated their income or the value of their contributions to the household. De Baca recalls one client whose wife died in her 30s and had only a $100,000 life insurance policy, which didn’t cover the need for child care for the couple’s young children or the housekeeping chores the client then required.

The fix: A rule of thumb to determine the amount of insurance coverage that you need — multiply your annual expenses by the number of years until your youngest child will turn 18. (Some parents may also want to factor in the future cost of their kids’ college.) Life insurance premiums actually have plummeted in recent years. So if you’re a healthy nonsmoker in your 30s or 40s, you can now buy a $500,000 term insurance policy for about $40 a month.

You and your partner should revisit your insurance coverage annually — or at least after a major event, like the birth of a child. “It takes a lot to run a household, and you want to be covered,” says De Baca.

Source: http://shine.yahoo.com/event/financiallyfit/5-money-mistakes-you-might-be-making-and-how-to-avoid-them-1308080/

Farts Facts!


Click on the image to see in full size.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


Gold is a lot of things to a lot of people.

To some, it is a threat. To some, it is a "trade". To some others, it is an "investment." And to yet others, it is a store of value, and - oh yeah - some people look at it as a currency, too.

The funny thing is that all of these are correct. Gold is indeed all of the above - but the question is: which function does it fulfill best?

We do know from history that gold has always been the ultimate store of value. We also know that gold has fulfilled its role as currency in a most admirable way - whenever it is allowed to do so without under or overvaluing it, and without government/banker interference.

We also know that gold is a most formidable threat to those who want to cement their power and control over populations by monopolizing the issuance of currency without full accountability to free-market principles.

But what we do not realize is that, as an "investment," gold absolutely sucks.

That may sound like a strange statement coming from me, a vocal gold-advocate. Maybe I am following the lead of Al Greenspan and have completely sold out for a few perks and a little bit of status and some power?

No. Sorry. Nobody has offered me any perks, nor status, nor any kind of power.

I haven't changed my mind on gold, either. I am still as pro-gold, pro-precious metals, and pro-freedom as I ever was. It's just that I have realized that gold is not a good "investment". And that is so not because there is something wrong with gold, but because there is something wrong with whatever it is you get back when you sell your gold "investment."

What do we do when we "invest"?

We exchange some paper (or computer-blip) cash for something else, and then we wait, in the hope that the demand for whatever it is that we bought with our paper will increase over time, or that a supply shortage will happen, or that some other event, like maybe a currency depreciation or planned devaluation will happen, so that we can then, at an opportune time, exchange our "investment" back into cash and make what we normally refer to as a "profit."

Profits are great, don't get me wrong. Everybody wants to make a profit - but what are we really doing here?

The focus of an "investment" is never the thing itself. The thing itself is just a medium, a vehicle for a (hopefully) bigger "return", of whatever we have put into it, at some time in the future. Maybe our return will be ten, twenty, fifty, even one hundred percent. We might even triple or quintuple our initial outlay in the process.

If that ever happens, we hold our heads up high and tell our friends and anyone who can't run fast enough at a dinner party that we "made a killing" on such-and-such in the blankedy-blank market.

But, in the end, we still want the cash. And that's okay. Nothing wrong with that in principle.

The problem is only that, if cash is no longer "king" because

* when your country's currency is rapidly declining in value compared to other currencies,
* and when it is the currency of "the" country that consumes everybody else's products, and for that reason cannot be tolerated by everybody else to so decline in value,

then your hoped-for cash-winnings can run into a bit of a challenge.

This problem gets especially protracted when your currency is also considered the reserve currency of the world, the one the other countries use to underpin their own issues. In that case, a falling value makes these other countries less likely to want to hold your currency on reserve.

Instead, since there is now an alternative, the euro, they prefer to exchange whatever amount of their reserves they can to the new euro currency that has no debt load and is not burdened by a trade and current account deficit like the US is.

This desire to hold euro instead of dollars is tempered by only two things, really:

* They still need dollars to buy oil and most other goods on the international markets, and
* If they export to the US, they cannot allow the dollar to fall too low, or they will lose their ability to get US consumers to buy their products, since a falling dollar makes foreign goods too expensive for Americans.

So particularly the Asian exporters like China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, etc., are in a difficult situation. The whole world is moving toward the euro, and so are they, but the falling dollar makes it necessary for them to buy dollars and US treasuries to keep their own currencies from rising against the currency of their number one export market.

This creates the well-known phenomenon of "competitive devaluation". Even the EU will at some point be forced to join this game.

What is most significant is that the US itself, for purely structural reasons, currently actually likes it when the dollar drops. The US hopes its own exports will thereby become more attractive, cranking up manufacturing at home, and - hopefully - produce some job growth in the process, and better soon!

The problem: despite the rapid depreciation of the dollar since September, the current account deficit has not contracted. December's figures blew way past what the "experts" predicted ($42 billion, instead of 38, as they thought)

When will this process of competitive devaluations end?

Answer: When it's convenient for the US to support its own currency again.

And when will that be? When the US economy gets strong enough so that it can hold its own and produce jobs in sufficient numbers without a protracted, artificially low interest rate regime.

No sooner, and no later.

The trillion dollar question is: will that moment ever come, and if so, will it come in time?

In other words, is there any chance at all that this can occur before the dollar drops so low that prices start rising so fast and so obviously at homethat even the most carefully massaged domestic CPI numbers will no longer keep Americans carelessly borrowing and spending (and stock-buying) like there's no tomorrow.

The next trillion dollar question is: Even IF that moment comes in time, will it help at all with the US trade and current account imbalance? It doesn't look like it will. If the economy starts adding jobs and Greenspan can raise rates a bit, the dollar will get stronger, which means Americans will buy even more foreign stuff and rack up an even higher deficit. Problems, problems.

Sorry for the detour.

The point of all this is: gold-advocates all share a very dim view of these matters, and of the US' ability to eventually extricate itself from the past decades and decades of rigging and brow-beating of free markets.

So, from that vantage point, the question is: will the dollar ever recover? Will any currency be able to extricate itself from this web of competitive devaluations?

If your answer is "yes" - what are you doing looking at gold? Go and invest in stocks, instead.

If your answer is "no" - what are you doing "investing" in gold - for cash??

What are gold-advocates doing investing in gold, or even worse, trading in gold, when all they will get out of it is what they already know will soon be worth less?

Cash is trash. If you're angling for cash, you are asking to crash. (Do I sound like Dr. Seuss?)

If you "invest" (medium to long term) in gold, you'll get back trash.

If you "trade" (short term) in gold, you'll get back what soon will be trash.

Only if you buy and hold physical gold will you get value in exchange for trash.

Which one is the better bargain?

Yes, of course, cash is what we pay our bills with, so we all need it. But accumulating physical gold is the absolute best way to deal with the current (and future) situation. All currencies will depreciate against gold.

You work to make money. You spend what you need to spend, and the rest you use to buy gold. Do this every month, from now on. When you lose your job or need to liquidate some gold because you don't have enough trash to buy whatever you need in the future, liquidate only what you need, and keep building your "hoard" whenever you can.

By all means, buy some good gold and silver stocks, too - especially of companies that keep metal on reserve instead of cash. Maybe invest in a gold ETF. But make physical your mainstay. That way, you build value. If you don't trade gold, you deprive the enemies of gold of their number-one weapon.

And, what's more, you don't get wobbly knees every time gold dips a bit because some CB official somewhere is spitting hot air at the markets.

Currencies are in a downward spiral; even the "strong ones" will eventually follow. The dollar is no longer as pivotal to the world monetary system as it once was only a few years ago. Because of that, gold is no longer as "repressed" as it once was. It is still being "managed", to be sure, but the direction is now slowly upwards. It is no longer being suppressed at all costs.

That's why gold is not an "investment". It needs to be held for its own sake, not to make a stash of trash.

A suggestion: if your fingers are itchy, and you just have to trade something because it's so exciting, trade stocks. That way, at least you won't play into the hands of the bullion and central banks in their attempts to make gold look like trash - for the time being.

Then, if you're lucky and win in the stock-trading casino, take your winnings off the table and put them into gold. Physical gold, that is. But, when it comes to gold itself, the best advice is:

Don't trade it.

Don't "invest" in it.

Just buy it!

Got gold?

Source: http://www.gold-eagle.com/editorials_04/wallenwein022104.html

Thursday, April 22, 2010

These F@#king Guys - Goldman Sachs

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
These F@#king Guys - Goldman Sachs
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Monday, April 19, 2010

FW: 浴室排水孔是生命線


>> 多位義消、防火宣導和緊急救護志工,昨日在立法院呼籲民眾,平時要學習在火災時如何正確逃生,以避免傷亡。緊急救護志工陳澤淵表示,如果沒辦法逃出去,跳樓反而容易致死,只要躲在浴室把全身噴濕,靠著排水孔的新鮮空氣,就可以等到消防隊員前來救援。
>> 臺北縣蘆洲大火,部分民眾不諳逃生常識導致嚴重傷亡,有些民眾企圖用繩索逃生,結果直接墜下樓。
>> 防火宣導隊志工陳音芝表示,這次火災看到很多民眾不會用逃生器材,平常他們在社區宣導防火常識,在民眾配合意願不高下,很難挨家挨戶順利宣導,甚至有民眾不讓他 們進去宣導,如果大家都能有正確防火知識預防火災,就不必付出這麼大的人命成本。

>> 陳澤淵表示,火災時如果沒辦法逃出去,從高樓跳下反而容易致死,這時候應該躲到 浴室把全身噴濕,用濕毛巾把門縫堵好,然後身體蹲低讓鼻子盡量靠近排水孔的新鮮空 氣,耐心等待消防隊員前來救援,消防隊員逐房搜索時都會先搜索浴室,獲救的機率很高。
> 請轉發出去,救自己也幫助別人

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fwd: If you get RM10.00 in your car door handle

Forward email:

Dear all,
Do pass this on to your list of people especially women who drive.

If you get RM10.00 in your car door handle, use tissue paper or cloth to remove it without opening it and if possible bag it. Drive away immediately.

Don't check the note until you are in the company of your friends or relatives. The note could either contain powdered drugs to knock you out or make you wonder if some guilty motorist compensating you for a knock or scratch on your car, while you are still wondering, the robber(s) will attack you as you check the car.

This had happened in Johor.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Asia's Susan Boyle

So what if you fat and ugly, as long as you know your strength and use it wisely, you still be success!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Q1 2010 Public Mutual Performance