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Friday, February 29, 2008
Free online access to FICO® credit score for WaMu credit card customers
As part of its fifth anniversary celebrations, Washington Mutual is offering its credit card customers free online access their TransUnion-derived FICO® credit score. To access the scores, customers will need to set up online access to their account.

For complete details, see:

Yahoo.com: WaMu Celebrates Fifth Anniversary of Providing its Credit Card Customers with Free Access to Their FICO Credit Score


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posted by Ruby @ 8:35 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, February 28, 2008
$2,690 Becker CPA Review scholarship
Becker Professional Review is offering a $2,690 need-based scholarship to 50 students towards preparation for the CPA exam. The scholarship can be applied towards a complete four-part Live, Online, or Self-Study CD course,and is available to seniors in final year or graduate students who have met (or will meet at time of graduation) CPA exam requirements. Enrollment deadline is 12 months from date of issue (May 1, 2009 will be this year’s expiration). The deadline for May graduates is March 3, 2008.

For complete details, see:

Becker CPA Review scholarship

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

$2,690 Becker CPA Review scholarship


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posted by Ruby @ 12:16 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, February 27, 2008
US Air imitates United Airlines' fee for checked bag
After United Airlines, its now U.S. Airways' turn to impose a $25 charge for the second checked bag on all domestic and international flights. The fee will be applied started May 5. The fee will not apply to elite members of Star Alliance, first class and Envoy passengers, or Dividend Miles Preferred members.

Am sure, its only a matter of time before other airlines follow suit. Unless you meet the eligibility criteria for fee waiver, the $25 fee is another reason to travel light. That will also save airlines' bag handlers from breaking their backs handling customers' overloaded bags, as well as save the customer some time when waiting endlessly for all of their bags to come in the baggage pickup area.

For details, see:

Marketwatch.com: U.S. Airways to charge for second checked bag

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posted by Ruby @ 6:57 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Bank's mistake could land you in jail
The San Francisco Chronicle article discusses how an incorrect credit of $5m by Commerce Bank to a New York man's bank account subsequently led to him getting accused of grand larceny. The bank made the mistake of crediting Lovell's account instead of crediting the account of another person with the same name. As per Benjamin Lovell, the person credited with $5m by mistake, he notified the bank about the mistake but bank officials ignored it until it withdrew $2 million from the account.

Moral of the story? Even if a bank credits your acccount by mistake, don't withdraw the money. The mistake will be discovered at some point, at which time, the bank will go after you.

For complete article, see:

San Francisco Chronicle: Man 'Didn't Intend' Theft in Bank Error

Related article:

NPR: $5 Million Deposited in Wrong Account
posted by Ruby @ 7:11 AM   0 comments

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Monday, February 25, 2008
Visa's IPO expected to raise $18.76 billion
Visa Inc. is following the footsteps of its rival, Mastercard Inc., in going public. Visa is expected to have its initial public offering (IPO) in the near future, and is expected to raise up to $18.76 billion. The firm has registered 446.6 million Class A common shares with the proposed offer price in a range of $37 to $42 a share. The company has applied to trade under the ticker symbol "V".

For details, see:

Marketwatch.com: Visa pegs IPO proceeds at up to $18.76 billion
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Free sample: New Tide with Dawn® StainScrubbersTM
Procter & Gamble is offering a free sample of New Tide with Dawn® StainScrubbers. For details, check out:

New Tide with Dawn® StainScrubbers


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posted by Ruby @ 7:11 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, February 24, 2008
Weekend Quote - Perseverance
Victory belongs to the most persevering.
- Napoleon Bonaparte
posted by Ruby @ 8:13 AM   0 comments

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Saturday, February 23, 2008
Free subscription to the Bridal Guide magazine
For a limited time, RewardsGold is offering free subscription to the Bridal Guide magazine. For details, check out:

RewardsGold: Bridal Guide magazine


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Thursday, February 21, 2008
SmartMoney's 2008 Stock Picking Competition
SmartMoney is holding its annual Market Madness competition for a chance to win $10,000. You need to pick from 64 stocks over 6 rounds. The competition begins March 20th, with the brackets opening from March 3rd.

For details, see:

SmartMoney's Market Madness competiton


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posted by Ruby @ 10:46 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Following your passion to poverty
The Kiplinger.com article recommends readers to forget about following your passions as doing what you love often does not lead to money. Reason? Because you end up competiting with a large pool of candidates who are also going after the small pool of well-paying jobs.
Sure, if your passion is a rare one, like entomology, or even a moderately common one like accounting, money may follow. But if you are like the many people whose passion is shared by half the continent -- for example, activist or performer -- you're in trouble. Millions of people are competing passionately with you for the small number of decent-paying jobs. That's the reason the word "starving" so often precedes "artist."
What's more, even if you do end up getting your dream job, that won't ensure happiness.
Following your dream isn't all it's cracked up to be. Fact is, most wannabes aren't happy. In addition to the constant rejection, they feel unproductive. And when hired, they worry that they're just one wrong word from being unemployed again.

Even if you manage to land a longshot dream career, it may well turn out to be less than dreamy. You may be treated poorly: low salary, no job security, unreturned phone calls, etc. That's because bosses know they have little to lose. Coveys of wannabes are in the wings panting for your job. I've spoken with hundreds of people in so-called dream careers and often they're less happy than are people in more mainstream ones. If being a movie star is so wonderful, for example, why does it seem that half of them are in and out of rehab?
The article advices readers to pick a non-glam but well-paying jobs.
My advice? Unless you're a driven superstar, pick a non-glam career that you'd be good at. Then do a competent job search so you have multiple job offers.

Pick the one offering as many of these characteristics as possible:

- Moderately challenging
- Meaningful work
- A kind, competent boss
- Pleasant co-workers
- Learning opportunities
- Reasonable pay
- Reasonable work hours
- A short commute

A job with even half of those will make you more likely to love your job than if you had pursued a longshot career. Learn more about how to choose the right job for you.
I found the article quite good and agree with it to a degree. Am sure doing what you love is good but as mentioned in the article, that often leads many people to careers fields that are tough to get into and have low rate of success. Fields such as acting, sports, etc. Similarly, many books etc extol the virtues of starting your own business or being your own boss but the reality is that being own boss isn't easy and is not meant for every one. In addition, simply starting a business doesn't guarantee quick, or even...slow bucks.

In addition, I find no problem with being an employee. For many people, it offers the opportunity to expand their knowledge, learn new things, mingle with coworkers, take time off for vacations etc without having to worry about how to find the next prospect, how to get the next customer. Sure, it may not pay not always pay as much as the business owner is making but then it also doesn't cause as much stress and pressure as the business owner is having.

As for following the passion, you can still pursue a side business/hobby while working as an employee. In fact, it's probably more fun because then you can pursue your business/hobby passionately, knowing that you have a decent paying job to take care of your bills. In addition, being an employee doesn't always mean that you cannot make good money - if a person is smart, he/she can be rich even as an employee. Just check out many of the employees at Microsoft who joined it at the start of the firm, or more recently, the employees at Google, many of whom are multimillionaires. Wish I had gotten jobs at such firms!

For complete article, see:

Kiplinger.com: Do What You Love and Starve


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posted by Ruby @ 7:17 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, February 17, 2008
Weekend Quote - Dreams
Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.
- Leon J. Suenes
posted by Ruby @ 7:18 AM   0 comments

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Thursday, February 14, 2008
Billionaires' high stakes financial bets
With the financial markets going through great volatility over the past few months, it is interesting to see what the billionaire investors are buying. The Forbes' slide show goes over what billionaires have been doing to take advantage of the current volatility in the markets. Some of the billionaires' bets as per the slide show include:

- Warren Buffett on bond insurance
- Kirk Kerkorian on oil and gas
- Audrey McClendon on natural gas
- Larry Blavatnik on chemicals
- Rupert Murdoch on the Wall Street Journal

While most of us are excited about the prospects of receiving $300 or so in tax rebate as part of the new stimulas package, these billionaires must be excited about many opportunities that the extreme volatility and pessimism in the markets is offering them. For instance, while the markets is freaked out about the prospects of bond insureres like MBIA and Ambac loosing their AAA ratings and going bankrupt, Warren Buffett is capitalizing on that concern by offering to re-insure municipal bonds of these companies. It will be interesting to see how the big bets of these billionaires pan out over the long term.

For complete article, see:

Forbes: In Pictures: Big-Money Bets Of The Billionaires


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posted by Ruby @ 7:27 AM   0 comments

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Monday, February 11, 2008
I love you not
Its been very interesting to watch the Yahoo-Microsoft soap opera. Last month, Microsoft had offered to buy Yahoo for about $44.5 billion which at that time meant that it was paying $31/share for Yahoo. Prior to the buyout news, Yahoo was trading around $19/share, so Microsoft's offer of $31/share meant it was paying about 62% premium for Yahoo. After almost 10 days of "carefully studying" Microsoft's offer, Yahoo has rejected Microsoft's offer saying it "substantially undervalues" Yahoo!

Am not sure in what world Yahoo's board members have been living when they rejected Microsoft's offer! I had bought some shares of Yahoo in the mid-30s and ever since have been seeing it go down because of Yahoo's disappointing earnings quarter after quarter. Their new Panama platform for search still seems to be ineffective in competing with Google and the company doesn't appear to know how to turn itself around. So I was glad to see Microsoft offer to buy out Yahoo.

So far, Microsoft seems to be standing by it's original offer. Yahoo, for its part, doesn't seem to have much leverage in dictating the terms of buyout. Since the buyout news, various hedge funds and other investment firms have bid up the price of Yahoo's share to almost $30 as of Monday, in order to take advantage of the arbitrage opportunity, considering that Microsoft's offer is for $31/share. These investors will only be too eager to have Microsoft buy their shares. Yahoo for its part is expected to face several lawsuits from shareholders who are growing increasingly impatient of Yahoo's turnaround, and don't think that Yahoo's executives are acting in shareholders' best interests.

Am not sure how this buyout will play out. Based on what I have read, some analysts say that Microsoft is likely to increase the offer by a slight amount to around $35 although it won't pay $40/share that Yahoo is expecting. Others are saying that Microsoft is in no hurry and with Yahoo having no leverage, Microsoft can play the waiting game like Oracle's Larry Elison did when BEA Systems rejected its' initial $17/share offer, asking instead for $21/share (Oracle ultimately upped it offer slightly and bought BEA Systems for about $19/share). They expect the buyout to happen, with Microsoft buying Yahoo in low $30s/share. Still others are saying that Microsoft will go hostile and will launch proxy fight. However, many people do say that if the buyout drags out or doesn't pan out, Yahoo's share could drop back to its pre-buyout price in teens.

While Yahoo and Microsoft play out this "Days of Our Lives" soap opera, I decided to take advantage of the recent run up in Yahoo's share and sold a $35 Jan 2010 covered call option yesterday on my Yahoo's share and got $1.45/share. So if Microsoft does increase its offer or if Yahoo's share do rise for any other reason to $35 or above by Jan 2010, I will get $35/share for Yahoo. Including $1.45/share premium I got, that's like selling Yahoo for $36.45/share - a price at which I don't mind selling Yahoo although I will miss out on any rise in Yahoo's share above $35. Of course, if Yahoo's share stay below $35/share, I get to keep $145 I got for the contract. For my remaining few shares, I set up a stop loss order at $28 just in case the buyout doesn't happen and Yahoo's shares tank substantially. Since its just a stop loss order, am not sure if I will get $28/share, especially if Yahoo's shares drop quickly and sharply but hopefully, I will be able to get something in the $25-$28 range - which for me personally would still be better than the Yahoo's pre-offer price in teens. Until then of course, I will just sit back and watch this soap opera.

For related articles, see:

Barron's: Microsoft: Yahoo’s Response To Offer Is “Unfortunate;” Warns It Could Take Other Steps; No New Bid

The Wall Street Journal: Microsoft Stands by Yahoo Bid


As always, a final disclaimer: I am not a financial expert, and the purpose of my writings or this web site is not to give any financial advice nor make any recommendations. This site is just a blog of my activities, interests and thoughts. Trading options and stocks can be very risky, so you need to exercise your judgment and seek competent advice before investing in such instruments.


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posted by Ruby @ 10:10 PM   0 comments

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Sunday, February 10, 2008
Weekend Quote - Against the winds
Kites rise highest against the wind - not with it.
- Sir Winston Churchill


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Thursday, February 07, 2008
United Airlines' art of annoyance
In recent years, am surprised by the airlines creativity in tacking on new fees to boost their revenues. They have been reducing the seats available for frequent flier redemption, have reduced the expiration period for frquent flier mileage, started charging for food, and so on. Now, United Airlines (UAL) has found another annoying fee - $25 for checking in second baggage on non-refundable domestic economy flight tickets. The fee is not charged if you have a status in the frequent flier program at United or one of its Star Alliance partners.

I can understand airlines charging fee on carry-on bags but this fee, which will primarily hurt non-frequent travelers, is completely eggregious. Guess, that's another reason to fly light or take business to some other airline. However, I hope for all their creativity in finding new sources of revenues, airlines are also creative enough to boost their profit consistently rather than knocking on the door of bankruptcy after every few years.

For related articles, see:

SmarterTravel.com: United's new bag fee hits infrequent flyers hardest

Reuters: New UAL bag check fee ruffles travelers' feathers


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posted by Ruby @ 7:34 AM   0 comments

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Wednesday, February 06, 2008
Is US racing towards one of the worst recessions?
Many of the stocks, especially the financials and retailers, have come to life with the Fed's recent 1.25% cut of interest rates. Stocks like Bank of America and Citigroup have all benefitted from these rate cuts, with some investment professionals saying that we have reached the bottom in the stock market.

However, as per CNNMoney.com/Fortune's interview of famous investor, Jim Rogers, the US is headed for hard times ahead.

Jim Rogers made a lot of money in commodities which had a tremendous run in recent years. He also had been shorting investment banking stocks and predicting a recession in the US. Despite the recent rate cuts and a subsequent rally in many stocks, Jim Rogers has a pessimistic view of the Feds as well as the markets.
"I'm extremely worried," he says. "I have been for a while, but I just see things getting much worse this time around than I expected."

To Rogers, a longtime Fed critic, Bernanke's decision to ride to the market's rescue with a 75-basis-point cut in the Fed's benchmark rate only a week before its scheduled meeting (at which time they cut it another 50 basis points) is the latest sign that the central bank isn't willing to provide the fiscal discipline that he thinks the economy desperately needs.

"Conceivably we could have just had recession, hard times, sliding dollar, inflation, etc., but I'm afraid it's going to be much worse," he says. "Bernanke is printing huge amounts of money. He's out of control and the Fed is out of control. We are probably going to have one of the worst recessions we've had since the Second World War. It's not a good scene."

Rogers looks at the Fed's willingness to add liquidity to an already inflationary environment and sees the history of the 1970s repeating itself. Does that mean stagflation? "It is a real danger and, in fact, a probability."
Instead of the US, Jim Rogers sees better potential abroad, especially in China.

The weak job numbers that we got last week, along with on the bad Institute for Supply Management (ISM) number that we got yesterday does support many economists' view that we are already in a recession or are heading towards one in the near future. Of course, as always, there are many eocnomists who are also predicting that the recession, if it does happen, will be a short one. Personally, I believe that regardless of whether the economy is in recession or not, the thing that matters the most to most people is whether they have job or not, and whether they are able to take care of themselves and their families. If a person doesn't have a job and is having financial difficulty, then it doesn't matter to him/her whether the economy is booming or not. So from financial perspective, it's always best to have sufficient emergency funds so that if a job loss or slow times in ecomomy do happen, there's some emergency cushion to help tide over that period.

For complete article, see:

CNNMoney.com/Fortune: 'It's going to be much worse'


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posted by Ruby @ 7:58 AM   0 comments

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Free sample of Corazonas® Gram Chips
For a limited time, Corazonas is offering a free sample of Corazonas® Gram Chips along with coupons, recipe ideas and a special heart pendant.

For details, check out:

Free Sample - Corazonas® Gram Chips


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posted by Ruby @ 7:56 AM   0 comments

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Monday, February 04, 2008
T/R Achievers - New York Giants
Yesterday in the Super Bowl, New York Giants pulled off a 17-14 upset victory over favorites, New England Patriots. It didn't matter to New York Giants that Patriots had an unbeaten 18-0 record in the football this season. It didn't matter to New York Giants that Patriots had Tom Brady. It didn't matter to New York Giants that according to the history, they were supposed to lose. They just went ahead and played to the best of their abilities and in the process rewrote the history; New York Giants surely are the achievers.

For related article, see:

Yahoo.com: Super winners and losers


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posted by Ruby @ 8:26 AM   0 comments

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Sunday, February 03, 2008
Weekend Quote - Leaders
Leaders aren't born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that's the price we'll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal
- Vincent Lombardi


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Friday, February 01, 2008
Free Sample from Walmart - 2X Ultra Tide® With Dawn StainScrubbers™
For a limited time, Wal-Mart is offering a free sample; check out:

Free Sample - 2X Ultra Tide® With Dawn StainScrubbers™


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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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