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Friday, June 29, 2007
iIgnore iPhone
Apple is finally releasing its iPhone today. Over the last few months, there seems to have been constant buzz about it in the media. Fortunately, we have'’t given in to the hype. For us, a cell phone is just a device for phone calls and we don’t care about all the other supposedly cool features such as web surfing, checking emails etc, that are built into the product. Many of these features we already have in our existing device but we never even use them.

I remember when Motorala had first come out with its Razr phone, there was a similar hype about it, although not to the same extent as with Apple’s iPhone. Now it seems nobody cares about Razr phones as its “cool factor” seems to have faded. Am sure, its just a matter of time, before the hype about iPhone is replaced with some other product. So for me, there are better uses for money rather than paying $500+ just to purchase a handset and then getting locked in to a two-year service contract and paying high monthly fee with AT&T.

For related articles, check out:

Apple.com: Rate Plans for iPhone

PCWorld.com: To Buy or Not to Buy the iPhone: PC Worlders Clash

PCWorld.com: In Pictures: iPhone Competitors

PCWorld.com: Comparing the iPhone Alternatives


posted by Ruby @ 6:59 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, June 28, 2007
Rewards program changes
Retailers seemed to have taken a cue from the credit card companies and following them by lowering their rewards points. The SmartMoney.com article discusses the shrinking rewards points now being awarded by retailers. Among the latest retailers to join the bandwagon include:

- Best Buy
- DFW
- Staples
- Border

For complete article, check out:

SmartMoney.com: Retailers Scale Back Rewards Programs
posted by Ruby @ 7:30 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Improving Credit Score
The Kiplinger.com article discusses the steps a person can take to boost his credit score. Credit scores such as FICO scores are used by lenders in deciding the interest rates to charge when lending money, and better the score, the lower is the potential interest rate they will charge when lending money. A good score can also result in lower auto and homeowners insurance rates.

As per the article, the FICO score ranges between 300 – 850, with only 13% of consumers having 800+ score, with the median score being 723.

As per the article, some of the things that can help improve one’s credit score include:

- Paying bills on time, including returning library books
- Keeping the balance on the credit card below 25% of available credit line
- Having a longer length of credit history
- Not opening many accounts within a short period of time (closing older account in good standing can actually hurt the credit score)

For complete article, check out:

Kiplinger.com: Demystifying Your Credit Score
posted by Ruby @ 7:31 AM   1 comments

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Sunday, June 24, 2007
Weekend Quote - Thoughts and Action
By thought, the thing you want is brought to you. By action, you receive it.
- Wallace Wattles (Author - The Science of Getting Rich)
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Thursday, June 21, 2007
250 American Airlines Frequent Flier Miles
American Airlines (AA) is offering 250 miles for a short travel survey. For details, check out:

250 AA miles: Vacation Travel Survey

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posted by Ruby @ 8:46 AM   1 comments

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Financial advisors going for your 401(k) plan funds
The CNNMoney.com article discusses how some financial advisers are telling their clients to roll over money from a former employer's 401(k) plan into something called an IRA annuity. As per the article, IRA annuity pitches are increasingly being made by some financial advisers. Reason? Because of the hefty fees associated with such products!

According to the article, it usually doesn't make sense for most people to switch money from 401(k) plan to IRA annuity which is simply an annuity held inside an IRA account. As per the article, it's generally better to leave money either in the 401(k) plan itself or roll it over to an IRA.

For complete article, check out:

AP/CNNMoney.com: An IRA by any other name...


posted by Ruby @ 7:10 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007
Your loss on Home may be considered taxable gain by IRS
The Kiplinger.com article discusses how homeowners who are losing their house to foreclosure may also get hit with the income tax. Reason - the difference between the mortgage loan amount and the lower amount that's recouped by bank on foreclosure may represent debt amount forgiven by the lender. However, in the eyes of IRS the foregiven debt is considered taxable income. Way to avoid this taxation on foregiven debt - the tax bill is forgiven if the homeowner is bankrupt or insolvent.

For complete article, check out:

Kiplinger.com: Lose Home, Pay More Tax

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Sunday, June 17, 2007
Weekend Quote - Luck versus Hardwork
The guy who works the hardest - he gets the luckiest anyway
- Carl Icahn
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Saturday, June 16, 2007
BEAT the STREET 2.0 stock trading competition
TheStreet.com is holding another trading competition for a chance to win $150,000 in grand prize. For complete details, check out:

BEAT the STREET 2.0

For a related article, check out:

The Street.com: Beat the Street 2.0 Contest Gets Off to Explosive Start
posted by Ruby @ 7:47 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, June 14, 2007
Making money off of balance transfer credit card offers
Fox News article discusses how many savvy credit card holders are making use of 0% APR balance transfer (BT) offers to earn free cash. How? By writing the check to themselves and depositing it in a high-yield bank account, and then paying off the entire balance, while keeping the interest. Ira Stoller, one of the persons profiled in the article, supposedly earned $900 in interest last year.

However, you also need to watch for some pitfalls: there may be transactional and cash advance fees. In addition, your true APR may be higher than 0% because of the way credit card companies apply your monthly payments. Also, not all credit card firms allow you to write check to yourself.

For complete article, check out:

FoxNews.com: Free Cash!

posted by Ruby @ 12:02 AM   1 comments

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007
Profile - 30's something couple on the way to being millionaires
The CNNMoney.com article discusses the finances of a couple who are on the way to being millionaires on a combined salary of $70,000! How did they achieve that? - by proper planning which included starting to save at an early age and saving diligently. As per the couple - "It doesn’t take a lot - it just takes time".

For complete article, check out:

CNNMoney.com: Millionaires in the Making

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Sunday, June 10, 2007
Weekend Quote - Stock Market
Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent
– Maynard Keynes
posted by Ruby @ 7:29 AM   0 comments

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Friday, June 08, 2007
Finance lessons from Paris Hilton
There seems to be lot of bru-ha-ha regarding the early release of Paris Hilton. She was supposed to be sent to jail for 45 days for drunken driving but was let go from prison after just 3 day (unless of course, the decision is reversed). Through out the day, kept hearing in the news whether there are different set of rules for celebrities vis-a-vis common people.

Until recently, I hadn't heard about Paris Hilton nor for that matter, do I know much about her even now. However, in my view, I do think that there are different set of rules for celebrities vis-a-vis common people. However, I think some times it worse being a celebrity as happened in the case of Martha Stewart's insider trading scandal. I think Martha Stewart got tougher sentence on account of her being a celebrity. Similarly, in case of Paris Hilton, who knows whether a regular, unknown person in her place would have even been arrested.

Anyways, what has Paris Hilton got to do with my personal finance blog? I think the lives of many celebrities have a lot to teach about personal finance. One obvious thing is that often times people who simply inherit money rather than earning it do not really understand the value of money. And this is often true whether a person is celebrity or just a regular, average person. As a result, they are more likely to squander it on frivolous activities and things. In my view, people who work hard to earn their money are less likely to squander it as they understand the effort that goes into earning it.

Another important lesson is regarding teaching our kids the role of money. As a parent, I believe that it's important to teach kids the importance of hard work as well as the value of money. Right now, my kids are young but as they grow up, I will like them to help out with the household chores rather than simply handing them an allowance. Hopefully, they will also understand the importance of not being wasteful. That's not to say they should live like a monk but the idea is they should have a balanced life. Whether or not my kids learn this lesson remains to be seen; will find out only when they grow up! In the mean time, as a parent, I believe that its something that's worth the effort on my part.

For related articles on Paris Hilton, check out:

Hilton sent back to jail in hysterics

Hilton ordered to return to court

Paris Hilton Jail Sentence Unfair?

Paris Hilton Won't Appeal Jail Term, Likely to Spend About 23 Days in Jail

posted by Ruby @ 2:15 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, June 07, 2007
Renting good credit history for money
The AP/Yahoo Finance article discusses how certain credit repair agencies have been adding consumers with bad credit history as authorized users of those with good credit history to improve the scores of consumers with bad credit history in return for money. Some people with good credit history have been making money as much as $2,500 per month using this practice, while at the same time, consumer with bad credit history gets to have better credit history which in turn could lower their borrowing costs. Who's the loser in this game - the lenders who may end losing money due to greater default risks.

The practices seems to have become so widespread that it has gained the attention of mortgage industry and regulators. In response, Fair Isaac Corp., the developer of the FICO score, is planning to change its credit scoring system.

For complete article, check out:

AP/Yahoo Finance.com: 'Piggybacking' Roils Credit Industry

For related article, check out:

AP/Yahoo/Fool.com: Need Good Credit? Borrow Mine!

posted by Ruby @ 8:00 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, June 06, 2007
Free Act II Microwave Popcorn sample, courtesy Wal-Mart
Wal-Mart is again offering a free sample of a product;this time it's popcorn.

For free sample of popcorn, check out:

Walmart: Free Popcorn Sample

posted by Ruby @ 9:05 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Free Adaptive Planning's budgeting and forecasting software (Express Edition)
Adaptive Planning is offering its collaborative budgeting and forecasting Express Edition software free. It can be used for basic expense/revenue planning, reporting and other tasks. Available both as a hosted solution or as a download.

For complete details and restrictions, check out:

Adaptive Planning Express Edition

posted by Ruby @ 7:38 AM   1 comments

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Monday, June 04, 2007
Life Lessons from the Corporate World
Recently, Dell agreed to also sell its computers through Wal-Mart. This was quite a turn around for a company which in the past had bypassed retailers and sold its products directly to customers and businesses. For years, media had hailed Dell as a pioneer in selling its products directly to customers and businesses and doing so more efficiently than any of its competitors. On the other hand, competitors such as HP, Gateway and Compaq (which was acquired subsequently by HP) were regarded as inefficient and not able to compete effectively with Dell.

However, in the past few years, things sure have changed for Dell and some of its competitors such as HP. While Dell seems to be having all sorts of problems, including loss of market share and accounting problems, HP seems to doing every thing right.

The tale of Dell sure teaches some lessons that are valuable in personal lives.

First, just because you are currently down or at bottom doesn't mean that things have to stay that way. Dell's competitors such as HP were having a rough time and losing market share. However, a new focus under the management of its new CEO, Mark Hurd, has ignited HP's successful turnaround. Similarly, in personal lives, a person may not be achieving things to his/her potential because of bad circumstances in lives such as illness or divorce, lack of focus or simply because of lazyness. However, it doesn't have to be that way; changes can change for better provided the person is willing to work hard and takes appropriate action.

Another important lesson learnt from Dell's experience is that just because you are at the peak today doesn't mean that you will remain there for ever. Things can change quickly, and that too for worse, if one loses one's focus, takes things for granted or becomes complacent. In addition, even if you are good, competitors are always trying to become more efficient.

Therefore, it's necessary to keep on improving. Even small, baby steps can add up and have a compounding effect over time.

Last but not the least, it's OK not to be number one. Some people become so obsessed with becoming number one, that they neglect their family lives, friends, values etc. Is that worth a price? May be or may be not - only that person can tell. Personally, I believe that the main thing should be to ensure we have a balanced life and do our best to improve continuously. Everybody has a place in the universe, and whether someone's second, third, or fourth in life, they too have have a part to play in this circle of life.

For related articles, check out:

Cnet News.com: Wal-Mart to begin selling Dell PCs

MSNBC: Dell plans to sell its PCs at Wal-Mart


posted by Ruby @ 7:41 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, June 03, 2007
Weekend Quote - Action
Everything you want is out there waiting for you to ask. Everything you want also wants you. But you have to take action to get it.
— Jack Canfield (Author, Chicken Soup for the Soul)
posted by Ruby @ 7:40 AM   0 comments

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Saturday, June 02, 2007
Free books
Friedbeef's Tech has posted a nice post on the various sources for getting free books.

Check out:

Free books
posted by Ruby @ 7:20 AM   0 comments

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Favorite Quote
"If you look at what you have in life, you will always have more. If you look at what you do not have in life, you will never have enough".
                - Author Unknown
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