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Thursday, January 31, 2008
Free personal finance-related ebooks
Mint.edu is offering over 30 free ebooks on personal finance-related topics, including:

- Building Wealth
- Pathways to Getting Ahead
- Money Matters
- 66 Ways to Save Money
- Estate Planning

For details, see:

Free Personal Finance ebooks


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posted by Ruby @ 7:58 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008
$25,000 Upromise.com Tuition Tales contest (Deadline: March 23, 2008)
upromise.com is offering a chance to win $25,000 towards college tuition as part of its Tuition Tales contest. To enter the contest, you need to create a personal video on why you deserve $25,000 scholarship from Upromise. Any person, including student, parent, grandparent or graduate, can enter on behalf of themselves or their family members/friends.

Deadline to upload the video is March 23, 2008. upromise.comwill pick ten finalists and then public will vote to decide the grand prize winner by casting votes online. Each finalist will get a $500 Bed Bath & Beyond® Gift Card, while one winner will get $25,000 for college.

For details, see:

$25,000 Upromise Tuition Tales contest

Other Scholarship-Related Posts:

$10,000 Scholarship for student bloggers

Tylenol Scholarship 2007 for students in healthcare

Nelnet's $1 million scholarship giveaway

Justice FCU Annual Scholarship Program

Wal-Mart Scholarships for 2008

$2,500 Upromise Scholarship
posted by Ruby @ 9:57 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008
$2,500 Upromise.com Scholarships - Deadline: February 25, 2008
upromise.com is offering 100 scholarships of $2,500 each for the 2008-09 academic year. As per Upromise's Web site, the application criteria is as follows:

- Applicants must be a upromise.com member or children of members (membership is free)
- Household income of $65,000 or less
- Minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
- Applicants must be graduating high school seniors or currently-enrolled college students
- Scholarship must be used at an accredited two- or four-year college or university or vocational technical school
- Applicants must be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents
- The first 2,500 eligible applications will be considered

Application deadline is February 25, 2008

For scholarship details, see:

$2,500 Upromise Scholarships

To become a member (free membership), see:

upromise.com


Other Scholarship-Related Posts:

$10,000 Scholarship for student bloggers

Tylenol Scholarship 2007 for students in healthcare

Nelnet's $1 million scholarship giveaway

Justice FCU Annual Scholarship Program

Wal-Mart Scholarships for 2008

$2,500 Upromise Scholarship
posted by Ruby @ 2:45 AM   0 comments

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Monday, January 28, 2008
Millionaire habits
The Fool.com article reviews Thomas J. Stanley's sequel to The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America's Wealthy book, The Millionaire Mind.

The article discusses the reasons that make multimillionaires so successful at accumulating so much wealth over a few decades. The reasons for their success?

1. They have a millionaire's perspective, ie, they think like entrepreneurs.
They build businesses, look for investment opportunities everywhere, and strike when they know there's money to be made.
Even when working for others, millionaires go for careers that they enjoy and that uses their full potential.

2. Millionaires invest in themselves by working hard, and staying healthy and disciplined.
To protect their biggest asset, they stay fit, disciplined, and organized, and they work hard.
3. Millionaires find courage to take appropriate risks
They plan, prepare, confront problems, and outwork their competition.
4. Millionaires run their households like a business, ie, they watch their household expenses while still paying attention to the value and quality of the items they buy.

5. Millionaires aim to be financially independent rather than just being comfortable or affluent.

As per the article, saving just a couple of dollars a week may not seem much but that can result in good chunk of wealth when done over a longer period, and assuming the savings are investing properly. Millionaires know the importance of small savings growing into larger amounts over time, and that's why they don't have problems clipping coupons to save some money and then investing it for the long term.

I had read both books and definitely agree that they are among some of the best books on how to achieve wealth even as an ordinary person. The books reveal the mind set and the habits of the ordinary folks who managed to achieve financial freedom without sacrificing the quality of their lives. These books also shed light on the habits of high wage earners who may drive BMWs and live a flashy life styles but who are essentially financially broke, thanks to their life styles.

For complete article, see:

Yahoo/Fool.com: Think Like a Millionaire


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posted by Ruby @ 7:36 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, January 27, 2008
Weekend Quote - Action and Achievement
Achievement seems to be connected with action. Successful men and women keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit
- Conrad Hilton


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posted by Ruby @ 7:05 AM   0 comments

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Scholarship-Related Posts
$10,000 Scholarship for student bloggers

Tylenol Scholarship 2007 for students in healthcare

Nelnet's $1 million scholarship giveaway

Justice FCU Annual Scholarship Program

Wal-Mart Scholarships for 2008

$2,500 Upromise Scholarship

$2,690 Becker CPA Review scholarship

AFCE Scholarship for Accounting/Criminal Justice students (deadline: Apr 18, 2008)

Japan-IDB Scholarship providing full tuition and other benefits towards graduate studies (Deadline: May 12, 2008)
posted by Ruby @ 7:04 AM   0 comments

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Saturday, January 26, 2008
Free tax preparation software - TaxAct Standard edition
TaxAct is offering free download of its TaxAct Standard edition that lets you prepare, print and e-file federal income taxes for free. Alternatively, you can also fill your taxes online at TaxAct's Web site and print and e-file for free.

For details, see:

TaxAct
posted by Ruby @ 6:37 PM   0 comments

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Thursday, January 24, 2008
25 Best-paying firms
The CNNMoney.com slide show lists the 25 top paying companies. The 3 firms topping the list are:

- Bingham McCutchen: a law firm where the average total pay of an Associate is $211,017. Fresh law school graduates get a base salary of $160,000, with even legal secretaries averaging about $69,000 annually.

- Arnold & Porter: another law firm with an average total pay $194,575 for Associate. Bonuses for lawyers averaged $34,575 in 2006

- Shared Technologies: a telecom firm where sales rep average total pay is $187,137. The firm pays bonuses between 10 and 40 percent of pay to everyone.

Other top paying companies include Adobe Systems, Mitre, Google and Yahoo.

For complete list and details, see:

CNNMoney.com: 25 top-paying companies


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posted by Ruby @ 8:11 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Are the stock markets oversold?
With the markets around the world dropping substantially on Jan 21 and Jan 22, the SmartMoney article discusses if the markets may be oversold based on the value of the options volatility index, VIX.
Known by some as the "fear index," the Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index surged nearly 40% at its peak to a new 52-week high of 37.57. The all-time high for the volatility index as it's currently calculated was near 46 during the Russian debt and Long-Term Capital Management crises of a decade ago, an anxiety level nearly matched after 9/11 and again at next year's bear-market lows.
The VIX, which is based on the real-time S&P 500 index option prices, is considered by many investors/traders to be an indicator of the fear or optimism of the investors. A higher value of the index indicates fear or nervousness among investors which in turn may indicate that the market may be reaching bottom as there is generally an extreme pessimism about companies' future earnings causing most investors to sell their holdings.
Steven Roge, a portfolio manager at wealth-management firm R.W. Roge in Bohemia, N.Y., says now is the time for long-term investors to initiate or add to positions in companies with strong fundamentals.

"A level this high for the VIX signals that there is absolutely capitulation in the market and stocks have oversold," Roge says. "Nobody is trading on fundamentals, they're trading on fear. If you stick with stocks that are well-managed and well-capitalized, you're going to end up owning really good franchises at levels that weren't possible just a few months ago." Roge believes the markets could fall at most another 10%, but "we're trading close to a bottom."
Of course, as always, different investment professionals differ in their opinions regarding whether we have reached the bottom yet. Some investors have taken wait-an-see attitude to see if the prices will fall further before jumping in.
Steve Wolf, managing director at asset-management firm Source Capital Group in Westport, Conn., says the VIX's rally on Tuesday was a reflection of a "multitude of fear factors" swirling through the markets. He's adopted a wait-and-see pose.

"We need to see more than this morning to determine if we're going into a sustained downtrend," Wolf says. "It's far too early to tell whether this market is in effect bottoming out."
For complete article, see:

SmartMoney.com: VIX Flashes Fear, Nurtures Hope

For related articles, see:

FT.com: Wall Street: A time to tread more carefully

The Wall Street Journal: Four at Four: The Market Plays Tricks


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posted by Ruby @ 4:56 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, January 20, 2008
Weekend Quote - Best time
The best time to plant a seed and grow a tree was 20 years ago; the second best time is now

- Chinese Proverb


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posted by Ruby @ 8:49 AM   0 comments

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Friday, January 18, 2008
Tax audits on increase
As per the WebCPA article, the Internal Revenue Service increased its enforcement efforts in 2007. The IRS audited 84 percent more returns in fiscal year 2007 of individuals with incomes of $1 million or more compared compared to the previous year.

The audit increase, however, is not just confined to individuals with higher income. The IRS also increased audit of individuals with incomes over $200,000; their audit rate increased to 29.2 percent, while those with incomes of $100,000 or less, also experienced an audit increase of about 14%. Similarly, increased audits were experienced by businesses also.

The increased audits helped IRS reach enforcement revenue of $59.2 billion, compared to $48.7 billion in 2006.

For complete article, see:

WebCPA: Tax Season Essentials: IRS Boosts Tax Audits


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posted by Ruby @ 8:16 AM   0 comments

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iConnectHere Sweepstakes - prize: Apple iPod
iConnectHere is offering a chance to win Apple iPod as part of its sweepstakes. Drawing is held on the 30th of each month.

For details see:

Win a FREE iPod from iConnectHere!

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posted by Ruby @ 7:54 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
Tax talk - Changes in the exempt public transportation and parking rates
For 2008, the IRS has increased the monthly amount employers can exempt from employee's taxable pay for bus fare/van pool to $115; I believe the limit was $100 previously. In additional, as per Accountingnet: IRS Increases Tax-Free Help for Commuters, up to $220 per month towards work-related parking is also exempt from employee's taxable pay.

Many firms, especially several federal, state and county governmental agencies, provide free subway/public transportation passes/fare cards to their employees. The main idea is to help their employees with the commuting costs, and at the same time, encourage the use of mass transportation. While this program is fine for private companies since they are using their funds, I am a bit apprehensive of the need for this benefit for the governmental agencies since the cost of such benefits is ultimately borne by tax payers. In the past, I remember reading in newspapers taht several governmental employees had abused this program as they would get the subway/bus fare cards from their agencies and then sell them for slightly lower than their face value on sites like Craigslist. I hope the governmental agencies have taken steps to curb that practice as otherwise this governmental benefit is just another way to waste tax payers' hard-earned money.

For complete article, see:

Accountingnet: IRS Increases Tax-Free Help for Commuters


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posted by Ruby @ 8:13 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Free Sample from Walmart - GLAD Microwave Steaming Bags
For a limited time, Wal-Mart is offering a free sample; check out:

Free Sample - GLAD Microwave Steaming Bags


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posted by Ruby @ 5:51 PM   0 comments

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008
The Secret to achieving success in life
The Fool.com article reviews some of the recommendations in the book, The Secret. The book, which has spawned a serious of followup books, DVDs, day-to-day calenders etc, makes various recommendations for achieving success and riches in life.

As per the Fool.com's article, some of these recommendations include:

- Have belief that its possible to achieve your goals
- Burn your boats
- Associate with successful people
Believe it's possible. Half of doing anything out of the ordinary -- whether it's becoming a millionaire, learning to be an expert skier, or just getting promoted to vice president -- is believing that it's possible. That may sound like motivational-guru claptrap, but it's true -- if you think that something is impossible, then for you, it probably will be. Becoming an expert skier is just a matter of learning to turn smoothly and getting lots of experience with different conditions. Becoming a millionaire is just a matter of increasing your savings rate. Both of these things are easier said than done, but they're both possible. People less smart and capable than you and I do both every year -- we can, too.
I haven't read the book but based on the recommendations listed in the article, I definately believe in at least two of the recommendendations mentioned in the article.

As the saying goes, believe and succeed. One of the first steps in the road to achievements is believing in self, believing in your goals because that belief helps you to take action even when the chips are down. Similarly, associating with successful people helps you grow your vision, to learn new things and see what successful people are doing that you are not doing. In addition, it gives you a different perspective to look at things.

I, however, am divided on the recommendation regarding burning the boats - or bridges. Sure if you do that, you know that you have nothing to fall back on. In theory, this should cause you to devote full attention to what you are doing currently since it's a do or die situation. However, I personally am not that much of a risk taker and believe that when it comes to making major decisions - such as leaving a job to start a business, or changing careers, etc - you should always have a contingency or backup plan.

Assuming that you are committed to giving your best on any new undertaking, knowing that there's a fall back option, gives you a greater confidence to do your best on the new business/job or any other undertaking in my opinion. For example, when I changed my career field, I was a bit apprehensive because I didn't know whether the new job and field will work out for me or whether I will like it or not. However, knowing that I could always go back to finding a job in my previous field gave me confidence to seek out for a position in a different field until I finally got a new job. I didn't initially like my new job/field because I had to learn new things, didn't have any friends at the new place and missed my old coworkers. But over time, things got easier and I was happy with my decision of switching careers because otherwise I would have been stuck working in a field that I didn't like much. All this, however, was made possible because I didn't burn the bridges and to me, it's not always necessary to do in order to succeed. That's just my take.

For complete article, see:

Fool.com: The Millionaire's Real Secrets
posted by Ruby @ 6:24 AM   0 comments

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Monday, January 14, 2008
HGTV 2008 Dream Home Sweepstakes: Chance to win a house and GMC Yukon Hybrid (Ends Feb 19, 2008)
HGTV is offering a chance a win a house and GMC Yukon Hybrid car as part of its 2008 Dream Home Giveaway. Sweepstakes ends Ends Feb 19, 2008.

For details, see:

HGTV 2008 Dream Home Sweepstakes


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posted by Ruby @ 10:08 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, January 13, 2008
Weekend Quote - Action
Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is important that you do it
- Mahatma Gandhi


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posted by Ruby @ 6:54 AM   0 comments

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Saturday, January 12, 2008
Free online tax preparation of federal income taxes
FreeTaxUsa, an authorized IRS e-File Provider, is offering free online tax preparation, e-filing, and printing of federal income taxes to qualified individuals. You can also file state return at the same time as the federal returns but there's $9.95 charge if you want to prepare, e-file, and print your state income tax return.

For details, see:

FreeTaxUsa
posted by Ruby @ 7:18 AM   0 comments

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Friday, January 11, 2008
The power of dreams and determination – Nano arrives
After Apple's Nano ipod and the oft-repeated buzzword, nanotechnology, we now have another Nano – a subcompact car. Yesterday, Tata Motors company of India finally introduced this car that sells for approximately $2,500 (basic model).

Despite being low cost and small, the car is supposed to have adequate room for four, and promises to meet various safety standards, and causes less pollution than a motorcycle. The car has a 2-cylinder, 33-horsepower engine and gives a whopping 50 miles per gallon of gas!

It was a dream of Tata Motor company's chairman, Ratan Tata, to build this "people's car", a low cost car for the masses. While critics had argued consistently that such a dream was impossible to fulfill, Tata Motor company showed what a person/company can do when he has determined to seriously pursue its goals.

Whether its Ratan Tata's dream to build a low cost car or Apple's Steve Job's relentless quest to make cool and easy to use devices for people, such people show that you can achieve your goals regardless of what the naysayers say. If history says that such tasks haven't been done in the past by anyone, such people nevertheless keep pursuing their dreams and create the history.

For related articles, see:

Fortune - 'Nano' achieves Ratan Tata’s dream

CNBC - Tata's Nano: A Small Car With A Big "Buzz"

Reuters - FACTBOX: Specifications of the Tata Nano




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posted by Ruby @ 6:07 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, January 10, 2008
Preventing identity theft - adding a free fraud alert to credit file
Yesterday, went to Experian's Web site and updated the fraud alert on my credit file. The alert is typically valid for 90 days, and after that, I just need to go to their Web site or call them (1-888-EXPERIAN) again to update the alert for another 90 days. Typically, a credit reporting firm also informs other credit reporting firms (such as TransUnion and Equifax) to update the fraud alert on their files as well. Adding the fraud alert was free, easy and took me under 5 minutes. Experian also gave me a chance to view/print my credit report online, so it was time well spent.

As I mentioned in one of my previous posts, although not foolproof, adding the fraud alert on credit reports helps in deterring identity theft since a lender/credit card issuer has to contact the person first before issuing a credit card or opening an account. So the alert can slow the credit card/loan issuing process since it can take days for the lender/credit card company to contact you before opening a new account but I don't mind that since I don't want fraudsters to be opening account in my name. I already have been a victim of identity theft and it's time consuming process to file reports, etc. In addition to a fraud alert, I have also added a victim's fraud statement to account at each credit reporting firm (adding the statement was also free).

For the contact info of the three credit reporting firms (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) for placing a free fraud alert, either go to their Web sites or check out the following related posts:

Putting Fraud Alerts and Victim of Fraud Statement on Credit File

Preventing ID Theft

Also, by law US consumers can get one free credit report from each credit reporting agency at: AnnualCreditReport (Phone: 877-322-8228)


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posted by Ruby @ 5:38 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, January 06, 2008
Weekend Quote - Success
Success in life comes not from holding a good hand, but in playing a poor hand well
- Denis Waitley


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posted by Ruby @ 7:59 AM   0 comments

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Saturday, January 05, 2008
Free Sample from Walmart - South Beach Living Granola Clusters/Drink Mix
For a limited time, Wal-Mart is offering a free sample; check out:

Free Sample - South Beach Living Granola Clusters/Drink Mix


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posted by Ruby @ 8:18 AM   0 comments

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Friday, January 04, 2008
Wal-Mart Scholarships for 2008 (deadline Jan 14, 2008)
Wal-Mart is offering several scholarships to high-school graduates. Some of the scholarships are available only to the Wal-Mart Associates (employees) or their children while others are available to the general public. Deadline for submitting the application is January 14, 2008. Winners will be announced in April 2008.

The following scholarship is available to the general public:

Sam Walton COMMUNITY Scholarship - $1,000 (one-time, non-renewable)

- Available to high school/home school seniors graduating between August 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008 or students who have obtained their GED and would have graduated high school between August 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008.
- Applicant can not be a Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Associate or the dependent of a Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. Associate as of April 25, 2008.

The following scholarships are available to the Wal-Mart Associates:

Wal-Mart ASSOCIATE Scholarship - $2,000 (one-time, non-renewable)

- Available to high school/home school seniors graduating between August 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008 or students who have obtained their GED and would have graduated high school between August 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008.
- Must either be actively employed with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. for at least six consecutive months as of April 25, 2008

Higher REACH Scholarship - Up to $2,000 per year (may re-apply and be awarded up to 4years)

- Must have graduated high school/home school by August 1, 2007, or have obtained their GED and would have graduated high school before August 1, 2007.
- Must be employed part-time or full-time with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. for at least six consecutive months as of April 25, 2008.
- May attend individual classes or seek an undergraduate or graduate degree to be eligible.

The following scholarship is available to the children of Associates of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.

WALTON Family Foundation Scholarship - $10,000 (one-time, payable over 8 semesters)

- Available to high school/home school seniors graduating between August 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008 or students who have obtained their GED and would have graduated high school between August 1, 2007 and July 31, 2008.
- The applicant’s parent/legal guardian must be an active full-time Associate with Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. for at least twelve consecutive months as of April 25, 2008.

For complete details on the above scholarships, see:

Wal-Mart Scholarships for 2008

Other Scholarship-Related Posts:

$10,000 Scholarship for student bloggers

Tylenol Scholarship 2007 for students in healthcare

Nelnet's $1 million scholarship giveaway

Justice FCU Annual Scholarship Program

Wal-Mart Scholarships for 2008

$2,500 Upromise Scholarship


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posted by Ruby @ 1:12 AM   0 comments

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Applying for the $40 coupons towards the purchase of TV Converter Box
Just applied for the two $40 coupons towards the purchase of TV Converter Box. As many people may know, starting the midnight on February 17, 2009, all full-power television stations will switch to digital broadcasting. As a result, any existing analog television sets that receive free TV using an antenna will not work after February 17, 2009.

If you want to keep using existing analog TV, you have the following 3 options:

- Purchase a TV converter box
- Connect to cable, satellite or other pay service
- Purchase a television with a digital tuner

We have a LCD TV that has the digital tuner but we also have analog TVs which we plan to keep. As the Congress has approved for a maximum of two $40 coupons per household towards the purchase of TV converter, I just applied for it (site link is provided below). The coupons can be used at most retail stores, including Walmart, Sears, Best Buy etc. The converter set is expected to cost about $50-$70. From what I have read, it seems you can only use one coupon per converter, so that means you may have to pay the remaining amount after applying the $40 coupon. Also, once issued, the coupon expires within 90 days. In addition, if you lose the coupons, they won't be reissued (unless you initially requested only 1 coupon initially, in which case, you can get another coupon, for a max of 2 coupons per household)

For the application for the $40 coupons and other details, see:

TV Converter Box Coupon Program

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Phone: 1-888-DTV-2009


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posted by Ruby @ 12:49 AM   6 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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