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Friday, August 31, 2007
Free birthday goodies
The article talks about the small gifts and discounts that many businesses have been giving out to people to celebrate their birthdays! The catch? - you may need to join their birthday club, or subscribe to their newsletter, etc. For eg, signing up for the Baskin Robbins Birthday Club gives a person a chance to get a coupon for a free 2.5-oz. ice cream scoop, as well as one for $3 off of an ice cream cake. Similarly, joining the Borders Rewards program will result in receiving emails to two coupons on your birthday - one for 15% off the regular price of one item, and another for a free dessert at the store cafe.

The article, however, suggests that you read the fine print carefully, and sign up for programs with retailers that you know and like to avoid getting spammed.

For complete article, see: You Say It's Your Birthday
posted by Ruby @ 7:35 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, August 30, 2007
Free subscription to digital edition of Foreign Policy
Mercury Magazines is offering free subscription of Foreign Policy. For details, check out:

Mercury Magazines: Foreign Policy
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Wednesday, August 29, 2007
Concerns regarding Money Market funds
The article discusses the concerns regarding the problems with subprime debt and whether they may cause money-market funds to "break the buck", that is, go under the $1 share value that they seek to maintain to ensure safety of principal.

As per the article, it makes sense not to dismiss concerns about the security of money market funds in this environment, but people do not need to be paranoid. The article mentions that there has been some misinformation floating around regarding some money markets funds not being able to satisfy redemption requests. However, those funds were not true money market funds.

Although there are no 100% guarantees for losses, as per the article, the Securities and Exchange Commission has strict quality standards that apply to all the investments a money fund might own, and these standards make it extremely unlikely that a money would suffer an actual loss. In addition, although not mandatory, the fund company running the money fund is likely to step in to prevent the fund from breaking the buck.

While the article doesn't completely dismiss the possibility of suffering loss by investing in the money market funds, it was good to read it as I have been also hearing about these concerns in the news, and wasn't sure if there was any validity to such concerns. I have some money in the money market funds, and in the past had felt no fear about losing my principal. Although they are not FDIC-insured, I put it there since they earn better return compared to deposits in the banks and I plan to continuing doing so.

For complete article, see: Debunking money market fears
posted by Ruby @ 6:55 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007
Freebies and other goodies from businesses
The article lists various companies that provide a variety of freebies in return for signing up for newsletters, hearing their sales pitch or trying out their products. For example, retailers such as Delia have offered in the past $10 off coupons on the next purchase for trying on their jeans. Similarly, auto dealerships have been giving out $25 and higher gift cards for test driving their vehicles. Grand Pacific Resorts gave out $175 gift certificate for your choice of retailers for a tour of their time-Share properties.

For complete article, see: How to Get Free Stuff With Little Effort
posted by Ruby @ 7:45 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, August 26, 2007
Weekend Quote - Parents
Many people have no problem saying thanks to even strangers for small favors they may have done, but they have no time to say thanks to their parents or even god for bringing them into this world.
- A priest
posted by Ruby @ 1:01 AM   0 comments

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Saturday, August 25, 2007
$100 Tiger Direct Gift Card, and 25000 Membership Rewards bonus points from American Express
American Express and Tiger Direct are offering $100 Tiger Direct gift card and 25000 Membership Rewards bonus points for American Express Business Gold Rewards credit card. The credit card has a $125 annual fee but the fee is waived for the first year. For complete details, including terms and conditions, see:

$100 Tiger Direct GC and 25000 Membership Rewards bonus points American Express-Tiger Direct offer

Offer Disclaimer


posted by Ruby @ 6:51 PM   1 comments

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Friday, August 24, 2007
Life lessons from Bank of America's investment in Countrywide Financials
Countrywide Financials got a fresh lease of life this week, thanks to the investment of $2 billion by Bank of America Corp. With the recent turmoil in the financial and housing markets related to the sub-prime mortgages, some analysts had predicted that Countrywide would soon be going bankrupt. Fortunately, for Countrywide Financials, the prediction is expected to be postponed at least for some time, if not for good. The whole Countrywide Financials saga, however, provides valuable business and life lessons.

Countrywide Financials has been in business for many years and has become one of the leading company providing mortgages to home buyers. When the recent lending crisis erupted, the company, like many other mortgage lenders, found itself short on liquidity. As the company had relationships with many different banks, it went to these banks to seek help. However, as per the company’s CEO, Angelo Mozillo, most of those banks refused to get involved, saying that they were having their own problems with mortgage lending. Unlike these banks, however, Bank of America saw opportunity and met with the company, resulting in its investment of $2 billion. Ironically, many years earlier, Angelo Mozillo had started Countrywide Financials by borrowing $75,000 from the Bank of America.

Although it’s too soon to say the long term impact of this investment on both companies, for now, it seems like a win-win situation, at least in the short run, based on the rise in the closing stock price of both companies (on August 23, 2007). For Countrywide Financials, the investments buys the company more time to weather this financial liquidity crisis. Bank of America, on the other hand, got a chance to buy preferred shares that yield 7.25 percent. In addition, these shares can be converted into Countrywide shares at $18 each. Countrywide shares closed yesterday (Aug 23, 2007) at $22.02 (Bank of America at $51.83, up 18 cents) up – over $4 above the $18 conversion price! So for Bank of America, not only they get to enjoy 7.25% yield, but their investment is already in the money, if they decide to convert their preferred shares! In addition, the investment gives Bank of America a potential opportunity to become Countrywide Financial’s preferred lender in future.

The lesson here? There could be opportunity in crisis. While Bank of America saw potential opportunity in Countrywide Financials, other banks were too absorbed in their own problems to probably even think that it could be an opportunity. That’s the same way with many other businesses and people. Too often, many of us are so absorbed in our day-to-day problems that we don’t even think of potential opportunities around us. When there’re problems or setbacks, many people view it as if they will last for ever rather than realizing that in most cases, that problem will be a history after a while – as they say, “This too shall pass”.

Setbacks happen in virtually every one’s life – the wise thing to do is to not let those setbacks take you down but rather learn any potential lessons they may teach you – such as the mistakes you made, the things you could have done to avoid them, etc. Doing this, will help us in not repeating those mistakes again, and sow the seeds of success in future.

Secondly, the same set of circumstances may be viewed as catastrophic by one business or person, and a golden opportunity by another. For example, writers like J K Rowling had to endure rejection by several publishers before someone saw a value in her writings, resulting in Harry Potter books being introduced to the world! So it's important to realize that there will always be some naysayers in life but you have in you the abilities to prove those naysayers wrong.

For related articles, see:

CNBC: Countrywide CEO: Mortgage Crisis Persists Despite BofA Stake

CNBC: Bank of America Gets Sweet Deal for Ailing Mortgage Lender

Reuters: Countrywide up as financials' liquidity worry eases Bank of America invests $2 billion in Countrywide Countrywide CEO sees recession ahead Countrywide Deal Wins Few Fans

Disclaimer: I am not a financial analyst nor am recommending the purchase/sale of stocks in Countrywide Financials or Bank of America or any other security for that matter. These stocks were listed in my post just to explain the main point of my post.
posted by Ruby @ 8:57 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, August 23, 2007
Refunds from Google Video Service
Recently, we have been receiving emails from Google regarding refunds for the videos we have bought online using Google Checkout. The initial emails mentioned that they will just give us credit towards future purchases we make but the latest emails mention that they will completely refund our original purchase price.

We had purchased a couple of videos online from Google but I believe the amount was under $2, so it's not a big refund for us but probably if any one had made purchases for larger amount, this may be good news. For more details, see: Google Reverses, to Offer Video Refunds

To access Google Checkout, see:

Google Checkout

posted by Ruby @ 7:39 AM   0 comments

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Free Sample from Walmart - Purex laundry detergent
Wal-Mart is offering a free sample - check out:

Walmart: Free Sample - Purex laundry detergent
posted by Ruby @ 7:34 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, August 22, 2007
How much amount to withdraw during retirement?
The article discusses the use of the 4 percent withdrawal rule when it comes to saving for the retirement. The question that came up was:

"I've read that if I withdraw roughly 4 percent of my retirement savings each year to live on, my money will last virtually forever. But does this 4 percent include the money my portfolio already kicks off in dividends and interest? Or is the 4 percent withdrawal on top of that?"

The articles says that the 4 percent withdrawal amount applies only to the percentage of your savings that you withdraw the first year of retirement. In the subsequent years, this dollar amount can be increased for inflation each year, so as to maintain your purchasing power throughout retirement. In addition, the 4 percent plus subsequent increases for inflation also include dividends and interest.

"So, for example, if you have $1 million in your 401(k), you would pull out $40,000 the first year. If inflation were running at, say, 3 percent a year, you would increase that amount to $41,200 the second year, roughly $42,400 the third year and so on."

However, as per the article, the 4 percent withdrawal rule is simply only a general guideline and not a rule that applies to every situation or guarantees the best retirement.

For complete article, see: Retirement: The 4 percent solution
posted by Ruby @ 12:57 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Free - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® with Diabetes booklet
Bayer Diabetes Care is offering for free "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® with Diabetes" booklet written by Dr. Stephen R. Covey in collaboration with the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE). The booklet is geared towards diabetics and contains info to help them better manage their diabetes.

For details, see:

Free booklet: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People® with Diabetes
posted by Ruby @ 12:02 AM   0 comments

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Monday, August 20, 2007
Maxed out on debt
The article is based on an interview with James Scurlock, the directory of a documentary called Maxed Out. As per the director, as the banks make more money by having people borrow money from them rather than saving money, their preferred customers these days is some one who bankers and other lending firms encourage people to borrow as they make more money by lending. As per the director,

".....the point I want to make is that lenders discovered years ago that they can make more money by getting people to spend rather than save. It used to be that a preferred customer was someone who paid bills on time and paid down debt. Now a preferred customer is someone who floats debt, pays interest and pays fees. That's very different from a generation ago."

Am not surprised to read that - we keep getting multiple credit card and mortgage refinancing offers in the mail almost every week - all of them end up in our trash. However, I believe that many lenders overdid their quest of encouraging people to load up on debts - they were so interested in having people borrow money that they did not even pay much attention to those people's credit ratings. The recent fall of American Home Mortgage and other subprime lenders is a proof to this fact. Seems lenders forgot that lending makes you money only if the borrower pays back the interest and principal - but when the subprime borrower has no ability to pay back the money, then you are out of luck!

For complete article, see: Maxed Out on Personal Debt

Related article: American Home Mortgage files for bankruptcy
posted by Ruby @ 12:09 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, August 19, 2007
Weekend Quote - Time versus Money
There’s a myth that time is money. In fact, time is more precious than money. It’s a nonrenewable resource. Once you’ve spent it, and if you’ve spent it badly, it’s gone forever.
Neil Fiore
posted by Ruby @ 7:17 AM   0 comments

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Saturday, August 18, 2007
Free retirement advice from Kiplinger's - Aug 30, 9 AM-6 PM (EST)
Kiplinger and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) are offering free retirement advice to anyone as part of the Kiplinger's Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Days.

You can contact NAPFA members from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (EST) on Thursday, August 30, to get answers to your questions for free. You can either call 888-919-2345 on Aug 30, or email them in advance at starting August 1.

For complete details, see:

Kiplinger's Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Days
posted by Ruby @ 11:14 AM   0 comments

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Friday, August 17, 2007
Free subscription to digital edition of Harvard Business Review
Graduating MBAs can get a free, 1 year subscription to HBR (digital edition). For details, see:

Free Subscription - Harvard Business Review
posted by Ruby @ 7:39 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, August 16, 2007
Delta Airlines increases award ticket-related prices
Seems most airlines are bent on making their frequent flier program from bad to worse. Delta recently decided to increase the price for award tickets from $50 to $75 if they were issued within 20 days of travel. Similarly, the price for the same-day changes to award itineraries has gone up from $25 to $50, while the price for redepositing miles back into the account has from $50 to $75. Fortunately, these changes do not apply to Platinum members.

The only consolation is that there's still no charge for booking frequent flier award tickets at least 21 days in advance. Considering that it's often hard to find award tickets even 3-6 months in advance, hopefully, most people don't have to pay these increased fees since the tickets are booked more than 21 days in advance. Also, it pays to book air tickets over the internet rather than over the phone since most airlines now charge for booking tickets over the phone. In case of Delta, the fee to book by phone has increased from $10 to $20.

Lets see what other increases airlines can think next? Am sure it probably won't be any increases in efforts to improve customer satisfaction!

For details, see Award Travel Fees
posted by Ruby @ 6:11 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007
500 bonus Northwest Airlines miles for paying with Paypal
Northwest Airlines (NWA) is offering 500 bonus frequent flier miles for purchasing roundtrip ticket at through Sept 30, 2007 and paying for it via PayPal.

For details, see: Earn Bonus Miles with PayPal


posted by Ruby @ 7:41 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, August 14, 2007
In debt, we trust
The Yahoo/ article talks about the fact that the credit card debt load in the US is roughly $8,200 per person, and many people will be lucky if they ever get out of this debt load. As per the article, people who go on borrowing binge on their credit cards forget that the biggest beneficiaries of their borrowing are banks and retailers which is why they are always encouraging people to load up on debt.

For complete article, see:

Yahoo/ Quick Take: Will We Ever Learn?
posted by Ruby @ 8:00 AM   0 comments

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Monday, August 13, 2007
250 bonus United Airline miles - Getting Logged In Promotion
For a limited time, you may be able to get 250 UAL frequent flier miles for creating your Mileage Plus Dining online profile, via the link provided at the Web site listed below.

For complete details, and terms and conditions, including offer restrictions, etc see:

250 UAL miles - GET LOGGED IN! bonus promotion.


posted by Ruby @ 7:43 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, August 12, 2007
Weekend Quote - Wisdom
Wisdom is not a product of schooling but of the life-long attempt to acquire it
- Albert Einstein
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Friday, August 10, 2007
Steps to getting a salary increase - acquire new job-related skills
The article discusses how Melissa Maier, an administrative assistant for a chemical company gave her career a boost by taking professional classes. These classes helped her move up into a technical position as a Web-content and graphic designer. As per Maier, "I have a more technical job, so really mastering these programs has made work more exciting." She took several 1-2 day technical classes on topics such as Photoshop, XML, Visual Basic, costing under $1,000.

Fortunately, with many schools offering online courses and even degree programs, it's gotten much easier and convenient to take classes. I myself have been taking online classes and enjoy the flexibility they offer, while at the same time, giving me chance to learn new skills.

For details, check out: Boost Your Career With Professional Classes

Schools offering online degrees, and articles on online education:

posted by Ruby @ 12:48 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, August 09, 2007
Branding and its impact on kids and your pocketbook
The article discusses the results of a study regarding pre-schoolers and their food choices. As part of the study, children served with the same food items (hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and French fries from McDonald's and carrots and milk from a grocery store) found them to taste better when the food items were wrapped in traditional McDonald's wrappers, compared to those in plain un-marked wrappers. Surprisingly, even the carrots and milk tasted better when brand with McDonald's logo.

The study suggests that even very young children, 3-5 years, in age can be highly influenced by branding. I think, not just the kids, but even most of us adults are susceptible to such perceptions. For example, some how many people believe that an item is of better quality than another item if it's price is more, or it's made by Sony versus say Sharp or Sanyo. Such perceptions also explain why some people prefer brand name drugs over generic drugs even if they may be identical in all respects.

For complete article, see:

Yahoo News: Foods Tastes Better With McDonald's Logo
posted by Ruby @ 7:45 AM   1 comments

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Work-at-home opportunities
A good article by Fortune's senior writer, Anne Fisher, regarding work-at-home opportunities. As per the article, the following firms provide legitimate work-at-home 'opportunities:

Alpine Access

Jobs at these firms range from handling customer calls to acting as receptionist or appointment secretary. The last firm, Staffcentrix, has been matching people with virtual-assistant jobs who perform duties similar to those performed by the executive assistants in an office. As per the article, the firm's co-founders, Christine Durst and Michael Haaren, have also written a useful book called The 2-Second Commute: Join the Exploding Ranks of Freelance Virtual Assistants.

While for the work-at-home person, the advantages include flexible work schedule and ability to avoid commute, firms offering such jobs also benefit as they don't have to provide expensive office space.

I hadn't heard of these firms earlier, so it's good to know that there are legit opportunities that are available for working from home. Otherwise, we just come across so many scam websites and firms, asking for payments simply to view work-at-home opportunity - that's a red flag that such a web site/firm is likely to be a scam since legitimate job sites, offering work-at-home-opportunities, will not be charging any fee to view for such jobs.

Also, even with legitimate firms, most positions are not likely to offer any benefits, and chances are that you will working as an independent contractor, which among other things, means you will be paying the entire 15.3% social security/medical tax (rather than just 7.65% that's paid as an employee, with the remaining 7.65% paid by the employer). In addition, your hourly salary rate is also likely to be lower at such firms.

For complete article, see: Commute to work in 30 seconds

For a related article by Anne Fisher, see: Want to Work From Home? Maybe You Can

Related books on Working from home/home based business:

The 60-Second Commute: A Guide to Your 24/7 Home Office Life

The 30 Second Commute : The Ultimate Guide to Starting and Operating a Home-Based Business
posted by Ruby @ 7:42 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Buying stocks overseas’s article mentions that the proposed new rule which the SEC is expected to introduce will make it easier for overseas brokerage to sell foreign securities to US investors.

Currently, many domestic brokers rely on their overseas affiliates to allow trading of foreign securities for their customers. The other alternative has been to buy ADR or international mutual funds. The new rule is expected to lower the costs of trading foreign securities.

For complete details, check out the following link: Buying Foreign Stocks Is About to Get a Lot Easier
posted by Ruby @ 8:15 AM   0 comments

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Monday, August 06, 2007
Valuable Freebies
The article and slideshow provides a useful list of 26 freebies, including:

- free and legal music tracks
- free software for protection against spyware and viruses
- free books and music
- free credit report
- free ATMs
- free college courses
- free phone calls
- free furniture

For details, check out: Fabulous Freebies
posted by Ruby @ 6:44 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, August 05, 2007
Weekend Quote - Master
To be your own master, you must be alone
- Leonardo da Vinci
posted by Ruby @ 12:22 AM   0 comments

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Friday, August 03, 2007
World eBooks Fair - free ebooks till Aug 4, 2007
World Public Library is offering over 500,000+ titles of ebooks for free download till Aug 4, 2007.

For details, see

World Public Library: Free eBooks
posted by Ruby @ 7:15 AM   0 comments

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Free money for college
The article discusses how to get free money for the graduate school by applying for fellowships and assistantships. These fellowships and assistantships typically require some work but they often cover tuition and also pay some stipend. Elizabeth Kerr, a full-time PhD student in religious studies, for example received two fellowships that allowed her to earn the equivalent of $42,000 during the year. These fellowships covered her tuition and health insurance, while also providing her stipend.

Fields with greater possibility of fellowships include physical sciences, engineering, economics,religion and theology, while business and education fields providing fewer opportunities for such fellowships.

For details, check out: Free Money for Grad School
posted by Ruby @ 6:10 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, August 02, 2007
Easy investing
The article tells people to stop making excuses and provides steps to getting started with investing right away. The payoff could be good! As per the article, investing just $50 a month at an average annual return of 10% on the money at age 22 could grow to $432,000 by the age of 65, while investing $116 a month would make that person a millionaire.

The steps include:

Step 1: Decide if you should invest. Investing is good but it may be better first to pay down high-interest debt first.

Step 2: Identify your goal - determine whether you are investing for short-term or long-term

Step 3: Find a place to put your money and open an account - based on the your investment horizon, determine whether to put money in safer, savings account, etc or more riskier investments such as mutual funds. Make automatic investments.

Stetp 4: Sit back and watch your money grow - let the money grow.

For complete article, check out: 30-Minute Investing Start-Up Kit
posted by Ruby @ 8:01 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007
Getting rid of credit card debt
David Bach, the author of various books such as The Automatic Millionaire and Start Late, Finish Rich discusses in his article the steps people can take to possibly get rid of their credit card debt.

His DOLP or Dead On Last Payment system helps answer the question regarding which cards to pay off first. The key is to compute the DOLP number for each credit card account and then start by paying off the credit card account with the lowest DOLP number, and doing so until all accounts have been paid off. This method will not eliminate debt over night but it helps minimize it over time. The key is to be patient and persist in making payments to pay off the debt. In addition, David Bach also recommends negotiating to lower interest rate on each credit card account with the lenders.

For complete article, see:

The Automatic Millionaire: Five Steps for Ditching Credit Card Debt
posted by Ruby @ 7:39 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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